Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shooting while in the car

This concept is really simple. Just open the window set your shutter speed high and click! Better if you set your camera to shutter priority...just make sure you have enough light so even if your camera sets your aperture really wide it's still not underexposed.

Setting your focus mode to ai servo or ai focus may all depends on what you are shooting.
Here's a shot I took on our way home from Moline Illinois:

Shutter speed is at 1/800 sec, f4.5 at iso100.

I shot this while the window is closed...I was lucky it was clean!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Using natural light for close ups

Natural light is often used for close ups to give it that natural look. There are times where using flash cheapens the look of a subject...especially direct flash. It also enables you to open up your aperture for that out of focus background look. It also gives the subject natural colors and contrast.

Using this technique requires you to place your camera in a tripod. A very slow shutter speed is also recommended to let more light in the sensor. This means you also need to have a shutter release to avoid you from touching the camera and moving it.

A very good practice would be to take 2 shots of the same angle, one with flash and one without. Then compare it. Go with whatever you think looks best.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Taking photos of light sources

Light sources are pretty tricky to take photos of.

You need to close your aperture tremendously so you block out the excess light that's coming into your camera, you can also opt to increase your shutter speed. If you don't do this, your photo would just end up all white. It's like one of those moments where you take a photo of a waterfall in slow speed at lets say...noon.

One very useful piece of equipment you can use for photographing light sources is a neutral density filter. I have an ND4 in my bag all the time. I'll discuss the neutral density in a future post.

For this photo, I came really close...using my 70mm macro with my camera on a tripod to eliminate camera shake. When you come close like this, any form of movement can cause your shot to be out of focus. Remember, tripods and macro shots always go together. This was shot at f14, 160/sec at ISO 100. I snapped on my ND4 to control the light. The settings are pretty normal considering I am aiming my camera at a direct light source.

Taking photos of light sources is kinda fun. Just be careful when looking at the viewfinder.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

and the winner is...

So we went to the Chicago Flower and Garden show 2011 at Chicago's Navy Pier yesterday to see if my photos have won. Apparently...THEY DID!!!

I entered 5 photos for each category and all of them won an award. The sweetest thing is that I won the best in show overall!

Thanks to the judges at the show!

Here are my winners:

3rd place winner for close up category

1st place winner for garden scenery category

1st place winner for still life category

1st place winner for people and plants category

Best in show winner

The entire series is here:

The Chicago flower and garden show site is here:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Canon 35mm F2

Months ago, I was debating whether to get rid of my Sigma 18-50 f2.8 ex lens and replace it with a normal prime lens. I've gotten so used to using my 70mm and my 50mm that I'm not really worried about having no zoom at all. Since my fiancée gave me a 10-20mm last christmas, my 18-50 has just been sitting in my bag all this time. I've loved that lens since I got it, though I'm looking for a higher image quality prime lens shots. I'm also trying to train myself to compose shots using prime this is the best method to do it.

So the question is...what would be the next useful lower focal length to the 50mm?

A 28mm is a good choice I think but I still have a 28-135 that I rarely use. What about a 24mm? Well, it's pretty close to the 10-20mm that I have. So I was left with one choice...and that's the 35mm.

The 35mm is a perfect, in between focal length of the 20mm and 50mm. Also, since I am using a non full frame camera the 35mm will be my 50mm equivalent for full frame...sort of. The 35mm is 56mm equivalent for full frame when you go into that 1.6 cropping factor equation thing. It's close enough, and good enough for me. I've been wanting to get into that "true" 50mm focal length for full frame for some time now. This is the closest I can get...well actually the Sigma 30mm is closer, but I'd rather go with the Canon on this one.

So I sold my 18-50mm and got this baby. It was actually around $270 refurbished. I had $30 extra from that money I got for my 18-50mm so I decided to get the hood with it. In my opinion, Canon should stop selling these separately and bundle them together.

After about 3 days I got the package. I opened it up and was delighted to see my little lens inside it's small box.
I snapped it on, and I snapped the hood on too and started taking pictures. Here are my observations:

The lens is pretty small, similar if not the same with the Canon 50mm 1.8 mk1
It's really light
The build is ok, better than the 50mm 1.8 mk2

Here are the things I like about it:

It's light, it really feels like there's no lens attached to the body
The focus ring disengages when the AF switch is set to auto, so no need to worry about stripping the gears on the focus assembly
It has slightly better AF than the 50mm 1.8 mk2,
Pretty decent sharpness at f2, gets even better stopped down
Chromatic aberrations are minimal
Focus distance is really close, it's almost like a macro lens
Price is pretty good for this lens type

Here are the things I don't like about it:

The lens hood feels flimsy, it attaches nicely but feels like it can be knocked off accidentally with a slight bump
Colors are slightly washed out, fixable in post processing
The motor is a bit loud

Overall I like it. I now use it for studio shots that need more background in it. Also perfect for portraits and half body shots. The wide aperture allows you to blur the background nicely.

Also be aware that if you are used to extremely long or extremely wide angle lenses, you'd find this focal length pretty boring for scenery shots. It usually stays in my bag when were out. It is perfect for outdoor portraits though.

All in all a pretty good performer! Buy it!