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Messages - Vern

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Lenses / Re: Please give me an advice for an prime lens 300/400mm
« on: February 20, 2015, 09:27:45 AM »
I have the 600II and the 300II and use both with extenders. The 300II handles the 1.4XIII and 2XIII quite well (flare becomes a bigger issue with the 2X as far as IQ with backlit subjects). I backpack as often as I can and then I cannot carry the 600, so the 300 + extenders is a relatively light weight option. I am now wondering about the 400 II DO as a backpacking telephoto. I only have full frame cameras but toyed with getting the 7DII to increase pixels on target with a light weight tele option, but did not pull the trigger b/c I'm often in low light conditions and need the higher ISO performance from 1Dx and 5DMKIII. Also, landscape is a major component of backpacking, so have to have a full frame body.

Heading to Yellowstone to photograph wolves etc. on Saturday and I'm taking both the 600 and 300, 2 bodies and the 24-70 2.8II and the 70-200 2.8II. I will use the 600 when we drive along the Lamar valley and only walk a short distance from the snowcat, but want to have the 300 and converters for when we go snow shoeing. Maybe the 400 DO would allow me to take only one tele? For now, I can't imagine spending the time and $ to get there and not having my longest lens.

Unless you have lots of ideas for what to do with 300mm at f2.8 (sports?), go for the 400 DO.

I can't resist - always easier to critique than create, so here's my "Impossible Brief" commercial idea: you are a pro landscape photog and want to hike the 8-9 miles from nearest road to get pics of Druid Arch in Canyonlands (tallest free standing arch in US). You do not have a crew of 20 to carry your kit and you do have a budget. I attach a pic of my own of said subject taken a few years ago with a 5DMKII and the 24TS II (shifted to make the arch stand up). I stitched 4 portrait shots to give final dimensions of ca. 7200X5600 pix after cropping a little. I shot HDR b/c the DR of the scene was too much to capture in one shot. Now, I am no professional and I'm sure this shot is full of flaws from my incompetence, but a few things the 5Ds R might help with - giving a similar pix count w/o pano shot 'landscape' and possibly eliminating the blur I can see from wind blowing the shrubs etc. (would need to have better DR though to avoid HDR multiple exposures). To me, this is a scenario where, perhaps, the new 5Ds R could shine. Pending good reviews, I may just buy one. However, Canon's commercial was better for laughs than whetting my appetite (for a new body - camera body that is).

Landscape / Re: Post Your Best Landscapes
« on: January 18, 2015, 07:10:37 PM »
1DX, 300 2.8 II, 1/250, f3.5, ISO 640.

Canon EF Prime Lenses / Re: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
« on: January 14, 2015, 05:43:42 PM »
Nuthatch trilogy all with 600II + 1.4X III, 5DIII + fill flash w better beamer (-1 & 2/3 stops typically).

i really like how balanced the lighting is on these photos. i don't know much about flash photography. when you say -1 2/3 do you mean ettl with fec set to that? i have a better beamer and i have tried and liked how the flash brings out the contrast and the small details in the feathers but my shots look harsh compered to yours

Hi Candc,
Thanks to all for the kind words. I do use ETTL with the high-speed synch and set the flash exposure compensation to -1 and 1/3 to -1 and 2/3 stops. The amount needs to be adjusted based on backlighting and the general exposure conditions. I test fire a few on branches etc to get an idea of how harsh the flash will appear. Like you, I sometimes find it is overdone, but the flash adds so much 'pop' in the details and a nice 'catchlight' in the eye that usually brings everything to life. With the 600 + 1.4, I am using the flash mounted with the Canon off-camera flash cord extender placed closer to the end of the lens than the camera (front of better beamer just behind the end of the lens hood). All this is usually on a RRS full gimbal on a tripod, so it is easy to handle. Also, my best luck is near my feeders (sunflower and suet) shooting from a blind. These birds are so small, you really need to be close - even with 840mm.  Good luck.

Canon EF Prime Lenses / Re: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
« on: January 11, 2015, 03:37:07 PM »
Nuthatch trilogy all with 600II + 1.4X III, 5DIII + fill flash w better beamer (-1 & 2/3 stops typically).

Those are exquisite, Vern! I especially like the last one, it would fit nicely in any bird guide straight away.

sometimes the bird and the light and the kit all come together - its one of my favorites too

Canon EF Prime Lenses / Re: Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM
« on: January 11, 2015, 11:47:33 AM »
Nuthatch trilogy all with 600II + 1.4X III, 5DIII + fill flash w better beamer (-1 & 2/3 stops typically).

Landscape / Re: Please share your snow/ Ice Photos with us in CR.
« on: November 03, 2014, 05:47:02 PM »
5DMKIII, 600 II + 1.4III. Glacier Bay, Alaska. Needs a little more attention in post to save the highlights, but hope it's enjoyable 'as is'.

Photography Technique / Re: Photographs in the "Blue Hour"
« on: October 24, 2014, 09:55:58 AM »
Needles District, Canyonlands, 5DMKII, 70-200 2.8II, 70 mm, HDR

Generally lens of the same focal length but bigger max aperture (50mm f/1.2 vs f/1.8) will be of better make and glass, thus producing superior image quality in contrast, sharpness, etc. No one would believe that a picture taken at f/2.0 with the 50mm f/1.2 would look the same as the f/1.8 lens. How many people actually shoot portraits at f/1.4? (I mean that as a serious question, not a rhetorical challenge.)

I think f/2.8 is the "magic number" in terms of what people will buy a lens to use at wide-open. Sports shooters need big aperture to keep up the shutter speed, while f/2.8 is a deep enough DOF to keep most of the athlete in focus. I don't think I've ever heard of a sports shooter buying the 135mm f/2 because he needs to shoot at f/2. The DOF would be too shallow and would make a lot of pictures useless.

Well, if you shoot indoor sports, you definitely shoot wide open with the 135 and 200 f2 - all sports require many frame captures to get a few great shoots - and not just b/c the DOF is shallow. Also, take a look at the posts on the 200 f2 - beautiful portraits, wide open (IMO, to each his own).

EOS Bodies / Re: 7d mark II as reviewed by Artie Morris
« on: October 22, 2014, 01:42:48 PM »
Funny how this thread has become all about Arthur Morris, with a little DPP thrown in.  What was the title?
+1, I was actually hoping for a little discussion of his results with the 7D MKII from some well-informed members of the forum.

Photography Technique / Re: Yellowstone in Winter - what to take?
« on: October 14, 2014, 09:12:39 AM »
I can't comment too much on the gear but I do know it can be really cold there.  I don't know what your cold weather experience is. But i would suggest you bring a lot of layers. It can get into the -20 during that time.  It is usually better but February and march are the snowy months.

It's been a few years, but I spent Xmas of 1999 in Finland and snowshoed and shot about 10 rolls of Kodachrome 64 on my Canon F1 with the 24 1.4L, 50 1.2L and 85 1.2L at -30 C. Of course, the sun was down for 2.5 months, so a tripod was necessary and lots of bracketed shots. I was routinely covered in frost. Tragically,  :'(, these slides got lost somewhere between Kodak and my address in the US. I still dream about those missing images. Another advantage of the digital age.

Photography Technique / Re: Yellowstone in Winter - what to take?
« on: October 14, 2014, 08:42:26 AM »
I was in Yellowstone a year ago and brought a lot more gear than you are proposing.  The weight is a killer.  My general advice is to try to consolidate where you can.  In the cold, you won't want to be fiddling with a lot of lenses.

With that in mind, if you are not doing architecture, I'd leave the TS-E at home and just bring the 24-70, which is more versatile.  I'm not a monopod shooter, so I wouldn't bring it.  I was able to make due at 24mm on the wide end for most geyser and pool shots, so I would advise not bringing the 16-35.  You will absolutely want to have the 600 because you will need the reach for wildlife shots. 

Originally I thought the 300 was overkill with the 70-200 (I'd keep the latter).  However, I used the 400/5.6 a lot, so an easily handholdable telephoto like the 300 could be useful, especially with the extenders. 

I would bring at least 3-4 batteries, as the cold will eat them quicker.

Thanks quod - very helpful to hear from someone whose been there. I'm going to call the tour organizer soon and ask if I'll have any time alone to snowshoe. If yes, I might bring the TS just for panos and tilted shoots - which are intolerably slow to do with any group of people waiting on you (I have been instructed on this by my wife). Agree about your comment on the 300, If we are near wildlife, I will probably have it on one body w the 1.4X and hang it from a black rapid shoulder strap and the 600 on the gimbal and tripod. I just don't know what range to expect - for larger mammals, 420mm might be enough. Good to hear you were happy w 24mm as the widest FOV. I can use panos if I really need more and the 16-35 stands out among my kit as a relatively poor IQ lens these days, so I'm less excited about using it anyway.

One option for extra pixels on wildlife subjects at lower weight would be to get the 7DMKII and leave the 600 at home. I doubt I'll go this way b/c I'm assuming low light situations will require higher ISO's at times. Also, I love my 600 and freely confess that getting to use my favorite kit that I have complete confidence in is part of the pleasure of this hobby for me - that and, of course, the resulting images.

Photography Technique / Re: Yellowstone in Winter - what to take?
« on: October 14, 2014, 08:28:22 AM »
I'm going up there, too. Feb 25 - Mar 1. I'm just going to bring all my stuff: 6D, 60D, 100-400, 24-105, 11-16, 50 1.4, 24TSE, 430ex, and tripod. I can fit all of it in my Lowpro backpack. I plan on doing lots of snowshoeing around Old Faithful and two different snowcoach tours. One is specifically for photography one other is more aligned towards snowshoeing. I plan on packing a different load-out for each day depending on the activity/shooting subject to keep the weight down.
I've been to Yellowstone in the winter when I was I kid, and many many times during the warmer months. You'll definitely want your 600. You may not get to use it as much as you like, and it may be a pain in the butt to haul around, but you'll want to die if you miss some wolves hunting bison in Lamar Valley, a coyote diving into the snow after rodent, or a buffalo half covered in icicles and half steaming with heat. If you share your viewfinder a little, maybe people in your tour group won't mind so such when they have to cram next to you and your bulky lens/tripod.
Bring 2 bodies... condensation kills. Keep your lenses and equipment warm.
When I last visited in the winter maybe '94- the park seemed empty. That was when anybody with a loud, reeking 2-stroke snowmobile could enter the park. Now that snowmobiles are practically banned, I imagine it will be even better. According to http://www.nps.gov/yell/parknews/13045.htm , 5000 to 5600 vehicles entered the park during the month of February in the last two years. Sounds like solitude to me  ;D

Great advice - thanks for sharing your experience. I think the 600 is a must. Last time I did a tour that was not just for photogs in Alaska, I shared my photos via a website with anyone in the group that wanted them, so that helped people tolerate my gear. I'm planning on bagging the gear before re-entering vehicles etc - usually works OK. Likewise, I have a Lowepro backpack that will fit all but the 600 - it will have to be carried in a lightspeed bag. My wife is somewhat willing to help with lens changes etc. - though she will moan about it.

Photography Technique / Re: Yellowstone in Winter - what to take?
« on: October 13, 2014, 01:13:02 PM »
Thanks for the advice. I have taken all of this gear except the 600 and extra body on multi-day 20 mile backpacking trips while also carrying a tent, sleeping bag and food, so I'm content with the load. This trip will not routinely involve long hikes and I will definitely leave the 600 behind if we are walking far (have a lock etc to chain it down). Good point about the low distortion of the 24TS - I think this is critical for architecture, maybe less so for natural landscapes, but I think I will take it along. One of the subjects of the trip is the wolves of Yellowstone and other wildlife that congregate around the hot springs, so I am imagining needing the longest lens possible and I can't see leaving the 600 home as I may want it plus the 1.4 as an option (why pay $12K for a lens for wildlife and not try to juxtapose the two?  ;)). I don't know what to expect in terms of crowds in February (anyone else?), but there are only 15 in our party, so hopefully there will be room for all. Cheers.

Photography Technique / Yellowstone in Winter - what to take?
« on: October 12, 2014, 02:55:28 PM »
My wife and I have booked a visit to Yellowstone Feb 21-28 next year with an alumni group (15 people max) and I'm starting to think of what to take. This will be my first visit to Yellowstone, but if it lives up to expectations, I will plan to return. While this is not a tour just for photographers, they do mention it often as a reason to go in the brochure, so I'm hoping for a good deal of time for my hobby. I'm the type of person who would rather bring more than the minimum instead of leaving a lens at home and then wishing I had it with me. Here's my current plan of what to take: 1Dx and 5DMKIII, 24-70 2.8II, 70-200 2.8II, 300 2.8II, 600 4.0II, 1.4 and 2.0 TC III's, 600 flash, gitzo tripod with full gimbal and various clamps for panos, extra batteries/chargers and my Mac to work-up some photos during the trip. I'm equally interested in wildlife and landscape photography.

Things I'm debating whether to take or not: 24TS II, monopod w head, 16-35 2.8II.

While the IQ of the 24-70 is about as good as the 24TS, I wonder if I'll need the movements. It is currently on the 'do not take' list b/c I think most landscapes will be fine w/o TS and I'm a little concerned about condensation on this lens. I will take plenty of plastic bags for everything to warm up in after being out, but this lens has a lot of open joints/moving bits.

The monopod would be faster to get on/off the snowcats and set-up, but I know I'll need the tripod for evening work and can't see taking both. The RRS gimbal can cover all the movements of a ball head and will be great for (hopefully) tracking moving game, so I'm not taking a ball head.

The 16-35 is staying home b/c I plan to take panos to get more angle of view in landscapes - though this is slower to execute than a wider lens. Maybe the 11-24 will be out before we go and have IQ in the same league as the other lenses I'm taking ;). I'd like to try some astrophotography as I imagine the 'seeing' will be good.

I'd welcome thoughts from anyone who has been on a similar cold weather photo trip. Thanks in advance.

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