Image of the Week #9

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  by Chris

Florida Railroad

Florida Railroad

This railroad is in Jonathan Dickinson State Park; the use of a super long focal length compresses the image, and renders the background pleasingly our of focus. The relative wide angle appearance is due to the ratio of the distance of the foreground to the background. The great distance photographed here is the cause of this illusion.

On Size and Progress and the Mirrorless Camera

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  by Chris

Every so often, in the development of technological things, be they cameras or computers, telephones or even timepieces, there is an interesting  trend they all undergo: every so often, they experience a quantum leap in technology. After that quantum leap, they get iterated smaller, smaller, and smaller. Then, they leap some more, or perhaps suffer obsolescence. And so it is with cameras. When film replaced photographic plates, photography took a quantum leap. Quality drastically increased, as did portability. When color photography began, a whole new world opened up. A wonderful world of color opened up a wonderful world of processing woes; but, people could see color!  35mm film was a huge developmental milestone, in that it made things much more portable, and therefore usable. But what really changed the day was autofocus. Lenses became bulkier, and often made of cheaper materials. Then came the digital era. Just like the first cell phones were monsters, the first digital cameras were huge and clunky and really not much of a replacement for film… so some thought. Then, they got much better, and learned how to get smaller and smaller… and the mirrorless interchangable lens camera was gradually born.

An oft proposed question is: will mirrorless kill the SLR? My answer is: no. To me, it seems that mirrorless is a size iteration  more than a quantum leap. Their portability offers tremendous options for use. Having climbed Mount Elbert earlier this month, I feel mightily their call. For some fields of play, the mirrorless camera fits in naturally. Street photography especially comes to mind. They actually have been pushing mirrorless cameras in that field all along (rangefinders). But, in adventure photography (and other genres as well I won’t cover), the downsides of mirrorless begin to show: 1. battery consumption and 2. viewfinder lag.

High battery consumption in the wild is a bad thing. Especially when it is only about 30 degrees out and electricity is a long long way away. Stashing extra batteries means extra weight, which, to be usable, must be kept warm, which means carrying them in awkward ways. Unlike the good old days, when a digital camera runs out of power, it is time to go home. Stashing extra batteries also means extra price and extra space… Which begins to defeat the purpose of mirrorless in the first place.

Viewfinder lag is the critical sin of the mirrorless camera. Even a 20th second lag with birds makes the difference  between a keeper and a useless image. With an slr, one views the scene on ground glass as it actually is happening. On an OLED electronic viewfinder, a person sees what the computer thinks he should see. Dynamic range is greater through the viewfinder, allowing one to see the scene more clearly. In short, depressing the shutter button to capture an image only to see that the opportunity passed away in lag is depressing.

Is this to say that mirrorless cannot become better than it is? No. Mirrorless will iterate furiously. However, it will not defeat the mighty slr in its current form. I suspect, however, that probably in about twenty years something we cannot now possibly comprehend will eat the slr. However, the slr will never disappear. Viewfinder cameras are still here! And some even call for digital tlrs…

My conclusion: Mirrorless is more an iteration than a quantum leap.

 

The 7D Mk II: Predicitons

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  by Chris

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The 7D Mk II is a bit overdue, it would seem… I had expected originally that it would be released at Photokina, but then, Canon gave the wonderful new firmware for the 7D. At Photokina, no 7D mk II came. I was not surprised. Wherefore?

The 5D mk III came out nearly 6 months after people thought it would (roughly 3 year release cycle?); the Earthquake may have had quite a bit to do with this, I suspect. However, the 5D mk III was a radical change from the 5D Mk II, in terms of focusing, fps, build, and, of course, price! Coming in at 3,500 when the 5D mk II was only costing around 2,500, it was a rather major redesign.

I believe that the 7D mk II will reflect this major redesign. I had thought that it was going to follow the trend of the other APS-C sensors being released, weighing in at 18 MP and probably sporting a dual digic 5. Now, what I am suspecting is that the 7D mk II sensor will come in at probably 20-24 mp, with a dual digic 6 processor, and significantly improved image quality. ISO 6400 will look more like ISO 800 (a 3 stop gain!) That’s probably a little exaggeration. More probable is a 2-2.5 stop gain, with noed improvement in ISO 400-800… FPS will creep to 9. File size will bloat a bit. What will not bloat is the sensor. Canon will keep the APS-C flagship the APS-C flagship. Build quality will improve, autofocus will borrow from the 1DX, and everything will all around be so much better!

And, the price will also grow. I am calling about 2,500. I hope I am wrong. I would like to see it come in at 1999.00, but that may also be wishful thinking…

A Long Absence…

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  by Chris

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, but, fear not! I have returned. It’s been quite a year. Time to work on this blog a little more…

Image of the Week #8

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  by Chris

The Waves of April

The Waves of April

This image was taken on Fort Lauderdale Beach with my 70-200 2.8. Shutter was open for 1/4 second. IS is wonderful! The long shutter speed permits the blurring on the waves. This image is actually a composite; the seaweed I liked from one, the waves I preferred from another.

Image of the Week #7

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  by Chris

 

Sea Gull

Blue and Pink: A Pastel Gradient

This image is the result of trying some techniques Arthur Morris shared on his blog, birdsasart-blog.com. I highly recommend this site to help you improve your photography.

The pinkish color is the sand out of focus on the beach. I am lying down on the beach; the background it the blueish ocean. This technique puts a fascinating spin on an otherwise standard image.

A Communicating Camera

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  by Chris

 

An amazing push toward a camera which can do what a Droid can do: upload pictures on the go. Polaroid (who gave us instant pictures for years) seems to have done it again; once againm they are putting our pictures at our fingertips. Here is the link: http://www.gizmag.com/polaroid-sc1630-smart-camera/21099/

Canon, how long will it take you to figure out how to get that into a 7D? I would buy one right now if you could. This is the future of photography; how long will it take Canon to figure this out?

My sister-in-law, who taught photojournalism, has a Nikon dslr and a pike of lenses. However, almost all her pictures I’ve ever seen were taken on her I-Phone. I’ve seen the pictures because they were accessible, and they were accessible because they were on a soicial media website, facebook. And they were on facebook because they instantly upload from her phone when she tells them to. The process for my 7D pictures to get to facebook requires FIVE major steps. For her to upload is one step. For her to in-phone edit then upload is two steps, and done in a minute or two.

Sure now, and my major works of art will receive greater editing than just a minute or two, but plenty of pictures down-rezzed to Facebook size look great with just a curves function, and maybe a bit of added sharpness.

Who must our images remain hostage to a brutal process in order for our fans, friends, and family to view them? Canon, you will outsell EVERYONE if you can get this to the market!

Image of the Week #6

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  by Chris

 

Landing  Egret

Landing Egret

This lovely egret decided to hop from one side of the boardwalk to the other. I only caught this shot because I was ready. And I was ready because I had my camera on the bird before he jumped. And I knew he would jump when he jumped because I have been watching these birds for a while now. How to get better pictures? Be ready.

Christmas is coming…

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  by Chris

And with it, a wonderful opportunity for creative photography. My advice in simple is, broad apertures, carefully selected white balances, and stringent use of flash as a main source of light (though careful fill flash can work well if done right).

How to accomplish this? The easiest way: 

Step 1. Get and use a broad aperture prime (50 1.8’s can be had for cheap!). Use it at f1.8 (or whatever your braodest aperture is) as much as possible. Just be careful to keep the eyes in focus. For group shots, stopping down to at least f2.8 is advisable. But, a broad aperture will provide beautiful out-of-focus highlights from the Christmas lights. A nice open aperture will get you more light, decreasing your need for flash…

Step 2. Learn your camera. Figure out how to control white balance. Likely, your indoor photos will be very orange if you skip this step. If you must use flash, figure out how to control your flash output, to keep the flash from overpowering the scene. The best flash is a hotshoe flash which can be bounced off of a ceiling, wall, or something. Lacking this, learn to balance your flash (even a pop-up flash can do this with an slr) with the ambient enviroment. More on this later… But the easiest method is to skip flash and use ambient light and high ISO’s, if need be. Note, I did not say easiest is best; it is simply easiest.

Image of the Week #5

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  by Chris

 

Sea Gull

This to me seems a very sad picture. Although the morning light is glowing warm on him, which normally lends a more positive feel to an image, he remains quite sad looking.

So why does this picture look sad? First, he is looking down, with his head bowed. This pose will add a negative feel to an image, or at least pensive. Less obviously, he is facing the left side of the image, which, to us who read left to right, makes him seem to be looking away and looking back, which further add to the dour feel.