Note from Sean: I've been an Adobe CC Photography Plan customer ever since it first became available. It is undoubtedly one of the best investments I make each month and well worth the normal price of $9.99 per month. However, at this price ($8.32 / mo), it's an absolute steal. [Sean]
The Westcott Ice Light 2 LED light is an enhanced version of its predecessor built on the wish lists of photographers in the field. Ice Light 2 is engineered with patented new LED technology offering 50% brighter output than the original Ice Light and 1,740 lumens of beautiful daylight-balanced light while maintaining a compact housing. Weighing a mere 20 ounces, the Ice Light 2 can be easily operated with one hand, giving photographers and filmmakers the ability to simultaneously shoot and light their subjects.
Unlike traditional LED panels, the Ice Light has a built-in diffuser that is custom-designed to protect the LEDs and provide a vast 73° beam angle. This casts a large spread of incredibly soft quality light.
The Ice Light 2`s LEDs feature the advantages of high efficiency and colour purity with low energy consumption and long lifetime. Daylight-balanced at 5500K and rated for 50,000 hours with a stunning Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of 96 meaning the subject will be presented in near perfect light also the Ice Light 2 provides flicker-free output and stable light consistency perfect for photographers and videographers alike.
A removable Lithium-ion battery is yet another Ice Light 2 refinement. A 2.5-hour charge gives you 60+ minutes of runtime with the convenience of being able to charge a backup battery outside the unit. Affordable replacement batteries are available for prolonged use.
The Redesigned Handle offers a dedicated on/off power slider with an 18-step flicker-free range and a light output memory which remembers your last power setting between uses. Battery indicator displays the current battery level using illuminated blue lights. Both ends of the Ice Light 2 include 1/4"-20 thread`s to mount to a light stand, tilter bracket or tripod.
Ice Light 2 is designed for the future with built-in Bluetooth with USB connectivity that will allow use with smart device apps and is compatible with all existing accessories including the original Ice Light barn doors, tungsten gels, two-way connectors, and more.
Canon has extended the DSLR instant rebates from the previous period and they've even added the Rebel T6s / T6i to the eligible bodies list. In another welcomed move, Canon added mail-in rebates for select lenses and flashes.
This rebate period is scheduled to run from May 3 through May 30. Remember, rebate periods are the best time to pick up new gear; don't miss the opportunity to bolster your kit and save some serious cash while doing so.
It was not the exposure. With a solid cloud cover, I was able to lock in a manual exposure for perfect results on every shot. In this case, I chose a 1/1000 shutter speed (the bird was moving a lot and quickly), an f/5.6 aperture (to isolate the bird using shallow depth of field) and ISO 160 to bring the brightest whites up to near RGB 255,255,255.
The challenge was not the tight framing of the bird. I was able to slowly belly-crawl close to the small flock of terns. So close that I only needed a 234mm focal length in front of the 7D II's APS-C sensor. I should have used a slightly wider angle still as I added a small amount of canvas on the left in post, providing additional breathing room for the wing.
The challenge was also not the low shooting position. Using the NatureScapes Skimmer Ground Pod II, I was able to push the camera forward as I crawled in the sand. Shooting from on the ground gave me a clean background (only sky) and the remaining land in the frame is primarily a blur of texture.
The big challenge? Timing the shutter release in conjunction with using the proper AF tactics to get this specific composition with the head included in focus. The sandwich tern cleaning process involved a wide array of moves, few of which I was able to predict and all of them fast. The head was constantly moving in what seemed like all directions and fast framing adjustment with a properly-selected AF point proved very challenging. A narrower aperture would have reduced the AF task, but the result would have been more ground in focus for a different look.
One aspect of this image that I like is the complete separation of the head from the body. Many of the preening positions did not have this attribute (and many had a completely hidden head). I also like the balance. While I don't often place my subject in the center of the frame, I felt that centered worked best in this case. The wing and tail balance the bird over the dark, eye-catching legs. The head extended to the right caused me to want the legs shifted just left of center to get what I felt was the right overall balance. My shooting position was low enough that only the legs intersected the color of the sand. The small amount of feather pulling through the bill is the bonus feature. I'll credit the 7D II's short shutter lag for enabling that timing.
This sandwich tern was on the gulf shores of Captiva Island, just north of Blind Pass. This location in southwest Florida is ideal for expanding one's bird photography portfolio.
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr, Google+, 500px and Facebook. Also, if reading from a news feed reader, click through to see the framed image.