Saturday, 19 October 2013

Canon vs Sigma 70-300mm Lenses

Recently, I was shooting the moon with my Canon 70-300mm and thought my Sigma used to do a better job.  No, I'm not posting my recent moon photo's here (they're fuzzy, at best), but thought maybe I should do a comparison of the two lenses and see which does better at what.
Obviously, the Canon, which has image stabilization, will do better when motion is a factor.  That aside, I put my trusty 5Dmkii on a tripod in our basement, locked it into place and started shooting a cereal box - using only ambient lighting.  This was done at 300mm for both shots taken - with the same camera settings for each too.  When I downloaded the shots onto my computer, I ensured each shot had the same white balance setting, so we're really comparing apples and apples.  That's the only processing I have done on any shot here.
Shot with Canon 5Dmkii, Canon 70-300 f/4-5/6 IS (turned off) USM, no filters @ 300mm, f/9
Shot with Canon 5Dmkii, Sigma 70-300 f/4-5/6, no filters @ 300mm, f/9
Then, I read in an article the other day about the Canon 70-300mm lens being a bit soft at the 300mm length.  This would explain why my moon shots came out soft!  Then I got upset, thinking that although I had tried to buy a better lens than my original Sigma 70-300mm, maybe my Canon was a wasted purchase?  So, I decided to shoot an old TV remote control - but at 200mm instead of 'full-out' 300.
Below are the results.  Keep in mind, I have cropped all four of today's shots, trying to keep them the same.  Also, all four of today's shots were done using manual focus while checking that in 'live view' at 10x.  I thought I had the remote control 'nailed' the same way in both shots - but as you'll see, the focal point is actually shifted very slightly in them.  However, you can see that both lenses perform about the same in both shots.  The dust is about the same on both (hey, this IS the basement!).
Shot with Canon 5Dmkii, Sigma 70-300, no filters @ 200mm, f/9
Shot with Canon 5Dmkii, Canon 70-300 f/4-5/6 IS (turned off) USM, no filters @ 200mm, f/9
In short, I think both lenses are good, though was disappointed with the Canon not being so clear at 300mm.  I am hoping that maybe outdoor shots at higher aperture settings will give better results.  It should still give decent/better results than the Sigma will with moving objects and critters.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Finally took that walk at Leslie St. Spit!

All the while Elizabeth and I lived in the Beaches part of Toronto, we never took the walk along the Leslie St., Spit.  Well, last weekend I finally did it!

The girls had tickets for the Wizard of Oz and so I dropped them off at the Mirvish Theatre and headed down to the park with my camera bag.  It was anything but disappointing right off the bat.  Only a few yards (meters?) into the park, a large canine (coyote?) ran across the path - too quick to snag a photo of.  I didn't even have chance to pull the camera up, let-alone focus and shoot.  So, just to toy with me, he/she dodged around in the sticks and weeds, only to run quickly back across the path - disappearing again faster than David Copperfield  ever has!

I did manage some shots of birds (without stepping in 'anything') and even a few of a garter snake!

This reclaimed area consists of old cement, boulders, scrap metal (yes, metal), stones, bricks and blocks.  Apparently, at one time, it was Toronto's clean fill dumping ground.  Once some dirt, dust and seeds were added, they'd had all the makings for parkland which doubles as a breakwater and bird sanctuary.

Although I didn't have the time to walk all the way to the end of the peninsula, I did find a nice view of the CN Tower.  It's hard to see in the web version of this image, but there are some whackos walking around the left side of the tower...something I won't be doing.

By the way, yes, I know I referred to "the Beaches" in the plural form.  I always will *wink*.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Wenonah at Windermere House

The day at Windermere House on Lake Rosseau started out nicely, lots of sunshine and a breeze that made the heat and humidity almost comfortable.  Today was the the day the Heritage Foundation (now called, Muskoka Conservancy) was to take two cruises on the Wenonah, a ship built in 2002 and convincingly made to look like it was really built in the 1800s.  It sure looks like a sister-ship to the Segwun.

Anyway, the wind picked up to where the odd piece of paper would blow around, then it got strong enough for the lake to generate white-capped waves.  Then as swells grew, the wind increased even more and began tossing large planters, chairs and even a lattice fence around.

I have no idea if there was a second cruise after all today, choosing to follow the lead of the other vendors and skedaddle.  It was getting nasty!

It's too bad too, because I was hoping to take more shots of the Wenonah.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Easter Bunny?

Easter Bunny, or just another
seed-eatin' varmint?
Since the snow really started to pile, Elizabeth has been making sure this little critter and his/her mate ('friend'?) has been eating well.  After reading up on it, she found bird seed was the answer to the problem.  It has been fun for us to look out at the patio at various parts of the day and see how much seed, carrot and/or celery has been taken.  Some days, our seeds weren't good enough - not as tasty as our bushes, I guess...

This was shot through our (needs to be cleaned) patio door, at no more than 8 feet from the rabbit, using a Canon 5Dmkii with a 28-70 f/2.8L and a B+H UV Pro Filter.  Still, the patio door softened it up a bit...

Friday, 22 March 2013

Kite Skiing on Kempenfelt Bay, Barrie

I was skirting the bay the other day and when I saw these characters kite skiing and had to snap a few shots off. It really does look like a lot of fun, except you must have no fear of falling through the ice and into the waters beneath - a fear I've had for quite a while (fell through ice as a kid and it stuck with me). Thankfully, not actually wanting to do this - and enjoying watching it are two different things. Elizabeth and I used to love to watch them kite surfing in the summer when we lived in the Beaches area of Toronto too. They'd really flip over the large Lake Ontario waves. This being our first year up here, we have no idea about the summer beach life (and waves) in Barrie, but are soon to find out.
Anyway, it was fun shooting pic's of these guys and we look forward to walking the path around the bay - and Tiffin Conservation too!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Canon SD-1000 Takes Near-Infrared Photographs!

Hi gang,

Sorry there are no photo's attached to this, but I was just messing around with my wife's Canon SD-1000 (point and shoot camera) and thought I'd take a crack at using it with my Sima Night Vision Light.  I am shocked - it worked!!  The light was throwing a glow across the room (12-15 feet).  The camera is in full-auto mode, with the flash turned off.  I took a quick photo - and even tried a few seconds of video with it.  Both worked well (albeit, a bit noisey).

I thought my Sony Mavica CD500 is supposed to do this, but it won't.  I didn't expect either of my Canon SLRs to do it (and they won't).  All of them WILL take near-I-R photo's with a filter in broad daylight, just not with the night-vision light.  Heck, even our little Sony HD camcorder won't do it.   ...But her little point and shoot?!  Sure enough it did - and now she's bragging about how much better her SD-1000 is than any of my 'big boy' cameras!

I suppose the only reason I'm upset at all is due to reading a couple years ago that a Mavica CD500 would do this sort of thing and so I got my heart set on it - even spent the money on the ad-ons (new batteries, filter and light).  Oh well.  I really would rather do the outdoor near-I-R shooting anyway.  So she's inheritted a toy from my kit now...  A night-vision light.

Infrared Photography - with Canon 5D mkii

Little cedar bush in yard, shot using Canon 5d Mkii, 50mm f/1.8 and infrared R-72 filter in bright sunlight.
Same cedar bush - different camera!
Canon 5D Mkii, 50mm f/1.8 lens
& R72 filter - 20 sec's, f/9, ISO 400
All of a sudden, it hit me!  That 52mm R-72 filter I bought the other day will fit my Canon 50mm 1.8 lens!  Oh, I've read that camera is no good for I-R shooting, but I've also read that it will work.  What did I have to lose?  So, I popped it on a tripod and snapped the same bush, snow and fence in our yard as in my previous post.  MUCH improvement!

Just for giggles, I've included the same shot, but without the black & white processing.  ALL other processing steps are included otherwise (same sharpening, cropping, etc - all pasted to the I-R 'reddish' image, using Lightroom 4).
The bush comes out clearer/sharper, much less noise (shot in RAW, after all) and I can take shots longer than the 8 sec's the Sony Mavica restricted me to.
So now I have to listen to my wife and get out to the conservation area, do some walking and shooting (with a lens - settle down!!).
Metering with the 5D Mkii was tricky though...  When the meter said the shot was correctly exposed, nothing was showing up in 'live view'.  I mean - nothing!  So, I started messing with exposure by guessing.  This was the best of the lot.

Now, if I can only get that blasted Sima I-R light to actually work!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

More I-R Experimenting and Comparing

Sony Mavica CD500 infrared photo at Barrie Ontario
Left, using R-72 filter - Right, naked lens of
Sony Mavica CD-500 - using a tripd

Still messing with the whole infrared 'thing'...  The image here shows a shrub in our back yard.  Obviously one half of the image is I-R and the other, not.  The falling snow doesn't appear in the I-R version due to shutter speed (2.0 sec vs 1/1,000 sec for the colour version).  Clarity seems to be an issue here to, though I thought I'd focused properly.  The Mavica uses a 'live viewfinder' only and it was bright out, so I just slapped the auto focus on - that may have been part of it.  In any case, this part of infrared photography is (pardon the pun) seeing some light.  I mean, look at the shrub.  The camera is obviously seeing some I-R light reflecting off the branches.
I also bought a Sima SL-201R IR 'night vision' light for video and photography.  The thing is supposed to light up to about 70 feet - I can't get it to light even one foot away!  I gave it the full three hour charge they ask for as you first open the package - and you can see the LEDs light up (even with the naked eye) if you look straight at it.  Aim the panel at a camera lens and you can plainly see them - though, they're not AS bright as the LED in my TV remote when I flash that at a camera lens.  Hmmm...
For an experiment, I took the filter off the camera and just held the filter in front of my eye.  Then aimed the Sima I-R light at the filter (and eye).  I could see the LEDs pretty well.  Next, I aimed the LEDs at my leg, white paper and other things - no light bounced back to the camera.  So, I removed the filter from the camera and repeated the experiment.  ...Same results.  Now I'm really confused!  How can it appear in the lens when aimed directly at the lens, but nothing else lights up?  Is it just a very weak (eg: faulty) light?  Still a lot to learn, I suppose...
Any hints out there?

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Infrared Experimentation

I have a Sony Mavica CD500 mirror-less DSLR (can I call it that?) in my collection and read a while back, this model doesn't have any I-R filtering built in, making it an ideal camera for messing with I-R photography.  So far the only drawback I've found is the maximum exposure time of eight seconds!

Sony Mavica CD-500, Rose, infrared photography
One of my first attempts at I-R photography.
This yellow rose was shot with flash,
1/100sec, f/3.2, 100 ISO, Sony Mavica CD500
After buying an R-72 filter, I started messing around in the studio with flowers and flash - even ambient room lighting (flash was obviously better, due to the heavy filtering of light).  Yes, I have shot out the window, but wasn't impressed (not a whole lot of 'greenery' at this time of year - and it's pretty grey out today anyway).  I also have an I-R light source on order, which should enhance the fun!  And although I've read my 50D and 5D mkii aren't supposed to be any good at this, I have ordered a filter for them.  Why??...  If you take a TV remote control (which uses near-infrared rays to transmit to the TV) and hold it in front of your camera/camcorder and press a button - you'll see it flickering.  That means the camera IS seeing I-R light.  However, how WELL it sees it - that could be a different story.  Using either Canon above, may mean very extended exposure times - which could in fact give even more creative results...  Who knows?

Looking around the web, it's easy to see the very creative/experimental offerings by many photographers.  However, it's also easy to see just how I'll have to 're-tool' the way I visualize a scene because when shooting I-R photo's, you're really taking pictures of the light you CAN'T see!  I-R takes place just above the light our eyes can interpret.  I should qualify this too - this type of I-R photography, is really called, 'near infrared' (taking place just above our natural visual range).  The real I-R stuff uses very specialized cameras, to the point of measuring heat radiation, etc.  In the case of what I'm talking about here, it's just the 'near' I-R rays that bounce back to the lens from a light source.

If you are also into near-infrared photography, please let me know - let's share ideas!


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

This Needed a Title - So I Gave it One...

Well, again I have waited far too long to make a blog entry.  With moving to Barrie and other things life threw at us this past year, I just haven't been producing as much as I'd like to have been.  That's about to change though!  I have already attended my first meeting of the Barrie Photo/Camera Club and look forward to more of those.
Toronto skyline at night, taken from the Poulson Pier
Toronto Waterfront
Interesting thought...  For a few years I was a member of the Beaches Photo Club in Toronto - a club who's name suggests waterfront.  The Barrie club actually meets ON the waterfront!  I mean you could easily toss a lens cap into the water from the meeting hall!
Don't get me wrong, I certainly miss the Toronto gang...  I'm just making a fun observation about the waterfront thing.
Thanks to my wife, Elizabeth, my interest is peaking again.  You see, she makes the silly mistake of giving me the Henry's flyer when she gets it.  I found a few items on sale - and HAD to have them!  So now there are new backdrops, light-modifiers and paper in our studio - and I just HAVE to experiment with them!  Hey, I'm not playing - it's all work!! *wink*

Humming bird, feeder.
Hummingbird at the feeder in the willow tree
 One of the paper samples I picked up this week was InkPress' Glossy Metallic ink jet paper.  Wow, is that stuff great!  You don't want to use it for everything, but certainly for things that would naturally have a 'shimmer' to them.  An example would be the little guy in the photo here.  The highlights on the feeder and feathers just jump off the page, as if etched in shiny metal.  The first time I saw an example of this type of paper was when a friend presented a sister with a photo/print of a blue butterfly.  The butterfly's wings normally have a shimmer to them, which the paper reproduced faithfully.  Finally, I have some of that kind of paper and have experimented a little this evening.  Other photo's that printed well with it were of the Toronto skyline at night and a sunset in Parry Sound.

So, if you're looking for something new to try, give metallic ink jet paper a whirl!  Just remember, it's not good for everything (eg: skin tones).
OK, I've made an entry... Now back to our regularly scheduled program...