April 17, 2014, 10:30:04 AM

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Topics - mackguyver

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1
Lenses / Canon 50L - Love or Hate?
« on: April 16, 2014, 01:27:31 PM »
Given all of the love and hate that's arisen on CR from the Sigma 50A's debut, I thought I'd set up a silly poll...  Yes, I'm guilty of 50L love, but have no ill feelings towards the Sigma.

2
EOS Bodies - For Stills / EOS 1D X Issue with Orientation Metadata?
« on: April 02, 2014, 08:29:14 PM »
I am having an odd issue with my 1D X - RAW photos shot vertically are rotating in the camera, in Windows Explorer, and Google's previews, but NOT in DxO 9 or Adobe PhotoShop CC.  In camera JPEGs rotate normally in DxO and PS, but not CR2 files.  It's not a big deal, but it is mildly annoying given that the last 10+ cameras I've owned all seem to tag the metadata correctly so that all applications automatically rotate portrait orientation tagged files.

Has anyone else had this issue?  Did it start in the new firmware perhaps?

3
Canon General / High Concept Photography
« on: March 31, 2014, 12:56:22 PM »
There's a cool article by Ian Plant in this month's Outdoor Photographer called "The High Concept Image" (link) and it's inspired a blog on Sigma's site by David FitzSimmons (link).  It goes along with Edward Weston's quote, "Good composition is the strongest way of seeing."

I think it's a cool concept and so I think we should start a thread to share what we consider to be our best "high concept" images.  I'll start it off with these three:








4
EOS Bodies - For Stills / Remote Shooting with the 1D X + Ethernet
« on: March 27, 2014, 01:53:22 PM »
I'm thinking about using the Ethernet port, a long cable (75-100 feet), and my laptop to do some remote shooting of some of the more dangerous and elusive wildlife from a closer distance with my 16-35 or 24-70 for a different (and safer) perspective of the alligators and other critters I like to shoot.  Has anyone used the 1D X like this?  If so, how well does it work?

5
All, after my recent purchase of the 1D X, I realized that I really am done buying gear (or at least big ticket items) for now.  Since I had fun with my two previous threads on the topic, I'm done - I have all the lenses I need and I'm done part II - here are all of the lenses I've sold, I thought I'd post another one, and one appropriate for Canon Rumors.

I really have been fortunate to get side jobs (photo related and otherwise) to be able to afford my gear but I really do have all I need for my purposes.  Anything else I need can be rented as it would not see enough use to justify holding onto it.

That said, if Canon releases any of the following rumored or imaginary items, arranged in no particular order, I'd be in the pre-order line:

Lenses
1. 16-35 f/2.8 III (with improved IQ)
2. 14-24 f/2.8 or f/4 IS
3. 12-24 f/4 (I loved the 12mm FOV with my Sigma)
4. 12mm f/4 (rectilinear prime)
5. 135 f/2 IS (IS would rock!)
6. 180 f/2.8 macro (f/2.8 and more aperture blades for better bokeh)
7. 400 f/5.6 IS (IS would really rock with this lens!)

Bodies
1. 7D II with near-full frame IQ and still 8FPS or better (would love built-in GPS as well)
2. 5D IV with 36+ MP
3. 6D II in an even smaller package - i.e. full frame version of the SL1
4. M3 with the 70D sensor


6
I'm not sure if anyone else owns the 1D X and 5DIII + BG-E11 grip, but I'm wondering how much I'll use the grip now that I have the 1D X and wonder if it's worth keeping it or not.  I foresee the 5DIII being more of a back up / landscape lens now and I wonder if I'll keep the grip on it much.  Any thoughts?

7
Canon General / Lioness Fights Crocodiles over a Dead Hippo
« on: March 24, 2014, 03:16:43 PM »
Found this while on Yahoo - pretty amazing:
Lioness Fights Crocodiles over a Dead Hippo

8
Canon General / First Nikon Experience
« on: March 12, 2014, 04:42:33 PM »
I was shooting an equestrian event last week when a woman climbed into one of the "media only" areas and she had a Nikon D4 and 70-200 f/2.8 VR.  She asked me if I her camera settings were correct and said that she had no idea what she was doing and had been "roped" into shooting and handed the camera.  Interestingly, it was in Manual mode and just needed some ISO and shutter speed adjustments to match the Manual exposure settings I was using (which were required by the horrible mid-day lighting).  It took me a bit to figure out the odd way Nikon makes you hold buttons and turn dial to adjust, but I figured it out.  She proceeded to smoke my pathetic 6 FPS frame rate (I think my 5DIII cried :'(), but her exposure was perfect :).  I'm still scratching my head to figure out #1, who would "hand" someone that kind of gear and #2 how she ever got it in Manual mode (maybe she had another photog help her at another obstacle?)

Also, I now I understand why people complain about Nikon's ergonomics.  I'm sure you get used to it, but it sure seems overly complicated to change such basic settings.  And don't ask me what happened when I tried to help her zoom to the right focal length ;)

9
Landscape / Strange Weather
« on: March 03, 2014, 10:15:47 AM »
Post your strange weather photos - I'll start with a "Fogbow" - taken on 10/10/10 - and yes, they are real (see link)


10
Canon General / Why Image Quality isn't Everything
« on: February 28, 2014, 04:22:42 PM »
Check out these photos - crap quality (technically), but wow - and apparently it's still on the loose!

In Focus - The Atlantic: A Leopard Runs Wild Through Meerut, India

11
Photography Technique / Tips for Shooting Equestrian Events?
« on: February 27, 2014, 10:54:09 AM »
I scored a press pass to major equestrian event next weekend (dressage, cross country, and stadium) and I'm wondering if anyone has any experience shooting them.  I know practically nothing about horses, let alone horse events (or eventing as it's apparently called), so any advice would be greatly appreciated.  In the meantime I'll be studying up courtesy of Google & Wikipedia...

12
Canon General / Genesis by Sebastião Salgado
« on: February 25, 2014, 12:06:43 PM »
Since we're talking about $4M photos, art, and all that, I'll share what I think are the most amazing photographs I have seen in terms of "art" - Genesis by Sebastião Salgado.  I picked one up last year and I would kill to have his eyes in terms of how he sees and captures the world:
http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/catalogue/photography/all/05767/facts.sebastio_salgado_genesis.htm
(Click on "See all Images (21)" link on the bottom right of the photo to see some examples)

The 9.6"x14" format and printing quality is amazing and to me, this is art - no flying spatulas, boring rivers, or blurry B&W with torn edges.

13
Photography Technique / FoCal – Long / Fast Lens Calibration
« on: February 24, 2014, 10:08:52 AM »
I've noticed a fair number of posts on using FoCal, so I thought I'd share my technique.   I’ve been using FoCal since it was in beta and over the course of time, through lots of trial & error, I’ve figured out how to reliably calibrate long lenses and fast lenses.  Here’s how I do it:

Use Manual Mode: The automated mode has never given me reliable results, at least with fast or long lenses.  It takes longer, seems to take an inordinate number of extra shots, is not repeatable, and does not result in very good results.  For lenses slower than f/2.8, it works really well, though, if your camera supports it.
Do Not Use Back Button AF: As Neuroanatomist helped me discover, Back Button AF does not (reliably or at all) record the AFMA value in the EXIF metadata.

Target Preparation
1.   Use the PDF file and print it on matte heavyweight paper at the highest quality settings your printer allows
2.   For best results, mount the target on stiff cardboard – I use the protector sheet of cardboard that comes with the paper and use 3M 6090 photo mounting spray to glue them together

Calibration Target Set Up
1.   Use your most stable tripod/head combination, legs not extended, and set up roughly 20x to 30x focal length (i.e. 8-12 meters for a 400mm lens) from where you plan to mount the target.  I have found that this is the sweet spot – it keeps the target big enough to obtain excellent results and is close enough to average shooting distance and infinity to be accurate in the field.  I’ve also found that f/1.2 lenses work best around 20x.
2.   Add weight to the tripod – I use a 20lb sandbag
3.   Line up the front of your lens to it is as close to parallel to the target as possible.  If available, use your camera’s level feature to get the camera perfectly level.  A bubble level will do if your camera doesn’t have this feature. 
4.   Mount the target so it lines up with the center of the target matching the center of the viewfinder.  A second person is helpful but not necessary.  This usually takes a few tries.
5.   Make any minute adjustments (while keeping the camera perfectly level) to get the center point perfectly aligned with the center of the target.
6.   Lock the tripod head down tightly
7.   Light the target – the brighter the better.  I use 2 x Paul C. Buff Einstein lights (with 8” high output reflectors) with the modelling light turned on Full power.  The lights should be angled at roughly 30-45 degrees off axis from the target and the target should be lit as evenly as possible.

Camera Set Up
1.   Use the viewfinder cover to block light from entering the viewfinder
2.   Set camera to:
•   Aperture Priority Mode
•   Wide open aperture
•   ISO 100
•   Auto White Balance
•   RAW
•   +1 EV
•   Spot metering
•   Timer/remote mode
•   Set shutter control to activate AF & AE (this may be disabled if you usually use back-button AF)
•   Center point AF
•   Mirror-lock up enabled
•   Disable IS on the lens
•   Also, if you have a newer model, make sure AF is enabled for your focus-by-wire lenses like the 85 f/1.2 II

Calibration
1.   Record the current Auto-focus Microadjustment value (AFMA) for the lens
2.   Set the AFMA to -20
3.   Defocus the lens (towards infinity or minimum focus distance [MFD]) – it doesn’t matter which you use, but I’ve found that using a consistent direction helps
4.   Using a cable release or better yet, a wireless remote (like the RC-1 or RC-6), set to 2 or 10 second delay, press the remote shutter button to autofocus the lens and lock up the mirror.  After 2 or 10s, the shutter will trip
5.   Defocus and take a second shot (2 shots minimum should be used)
6.   Repeat steps 3-5 and take shots with the following series of AFMA values: -20, -15, -10, -5, 0, 5, 10, 15, 20

Analysis and Re-Calibration
1.   Remove the memory card, download the photos to your PC/Mac
2.   Launch FoCal, select Tools>Manual Mode
3.   Click on Add Files and select the shots you just took
4.   When they appear, make sure the AFMA values appear correctly (they should) and that you took all of the shots required
5.   Click on Select All
6.   Enable “Target Optimization”.  Unless you have the lens mounted on a copy stand or a SERIOUS tripod, the camera/lens will move very slightly as you adjust AFMA values - Target Optimization will adjust for that
7.   Click Analyze – wait for results
8.   After you obtain the results, go back and take AFMA shots around the predicted value – i.e. if FoCal says it’s +7, take additional shots at +4, +6, +7, +8, and +9
9.   Return to your PC, download these new files – re-run the analysis with the original files + the new ones.
10.   The results will now be as accurate as possible.
11.   Save the Report – good to have for later reference
12.   Return to camera, set AFMA to FoCal recommended value

Optional Steps
1.   Measure target size (in mm) of the strip at the top of the target – input into preferences
2.   Determine the white balance of your lights (Einstein modelling lights are 5200K) and input that into the white balance setting

14
Photography Technique / Perspective Distortion and How to Use it
« on: February 20, 2014, 10:08:34 AM »
Perspective distortion can be one of the hardest concepts to understand but the simplest way to understand it is to think of it in terms of the foreground vs. background.  If you use a 14mm lens to shoot a portrait of someone 4 feet from you with mountains a mile away in the background, the mountains will appear 10 miles away and very small in the background.  Switch to a 50mm and move back to keep the person the same size in the frame and the mountains will appear closer and larger.  Switch to a 200mm lens and move further back (again) from person to keep them the same size in the frame and the mountains will look huge and like they are right behind the person.  Of course the depth of field gets shallower and by 200mm the mountains will be blurred unless you stop way down.

It's a particularly important concept to have in your pocket when you want to emphasize certain elements in a scene.

Here are some examples from a pretty dull commercial shoot I did last summer where I was trying to emphasize different details:

I started at 200mm in an attempt to make the sign which was relatively small and the gazebo which was about 75-100 feet away close in size (note how the trees fill the frame):


I moved a little closer and set my lens to 130mm to get a clean shot of the gazebo and more importantly, to compress the rows of roses that were smaller and more spread out than I had anticipated.  The telephoto length makes these rows look much closer together and much closer to the gazebo than they really are, but they look further apart than they did at 200mm (note how the trees look a bit smaller and further away):


I switched lenses and shot this one at 22mm.  I got very close the roses to emphasize the foreground, and even though they are just about 6 feet from the gazebo it looks far away (note how the trees look much smaller and much further away):


Finally, I moved back and shot this at 24mm to get the whole view, and similar to the previous shot, the rows are now showing the wide angle perspective distortion - they look much further apart than the really are:


A final example of how to use this creatively is this shot.  My client really wanted both the roses and the gazebo in the shot, but I couldn't find any nice red roses near the gazebo.  I found a fence covered in roses, but it was too far from the gazebo for wide angle shots.  So I threw on my 70-200 and shot this at 70mm, stopped down to f/22.  I ended up focus stacking the final shot, but wanted to show what can be done in camera to get the roses and the gazebo in the frame in the right proportions by using perspective:

15
Animal Kingdom / Let's Get it On
« on: February 17, 2014, 09:44:21 AM »
In the spirit of the latest round of provocative post titles, I'd like to start this one to post some animal love.  I've seen a fair amount of mating in zoos, but this is the first time I've captured it in the wild.  It didn't last long, but it was cool to watch.  Here's the best of the many frames I captured - I think the falling bark gives it something extra:


Red-shouldered Hawks Mating
300mm f/2.8L IS II + 2x III - 600mm @ f/8, 1/640s, ISO 320 - cropped to roughly 2/3 frame

Please share your photos.

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