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 Sunday, March 26, 2017
Select Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, 7D Mark II & EOS M5 kits are now nicely reduced thanks to a new set of rebates that went live last night. See below for details.
 
Update: Select Canon EOS 77D and Rebel T7i kits also qualify for instant rebates.
 
New Rebates
 
ItemInstant Rebate
Amount
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens$200.00
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR with EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM Lens$150.00
Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR with EF-S 18-135mm IS USM + W-E1 Adapter$500.00
Canon EOS M5 with EF-M 18-150mm IS STM Lens$180.00
Canon EOS 77D DSLR with EF-S 18-55mm IS STM Lens$150.00
Canon EOS Rebel T7i DSLR with EF-S 18-135 & 55-250 IS STM Lenses$150.00
Canon EOS Rebel T7i DSLR with EF-S 18-55 & 55-250 IS STM Lenses$150.00

There's no word on how long these rebates will last, so be sure to take advantage of them while you can.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 3/26/2017 6:06:24 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Saturday, March 25, 2017
I've wanted to add an image of a densely-packed flock of flying snow geese to the porfolio for a long time. But, it was not until this year until I accomplished this task.
 
The first priority for photographing a flock of snow geese is ... to find a flock of snow geese. For many of us, when flocks of snow geese arrive is based on the birds' migration patterns. Find where these flocks typically travel and time your visit with theirs.
 
A good method of determining when the birds have arrived (or are expected to arrive) is to use wildlife management area status reports, including the historical reports as history in this form tends to repeat. While these reports are great aids to finding the flocks, remember that an entire population of these birds can completely leave an area within minutes. A location that is great on one day may be completely empty the next.
 
With a warmer winter than normal, the snow geese migrated early this year and, at the urging of two friends, I too went early. The location was Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area. Located at the border of northern Lancaster County and southern Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, this WMA is an about-2-hour drive from my house. While this is not a famous snow geese bucket list location that photographers most-target, the population at this location was estimated to be at least 50,000 on this day. And, that's a LOT of geese.
 
Mostly the white geese were swimming on the small lake, appearing as a large iceberg, or they were feeding in a nearby field, causing a small hill to appear snow-capped. While the huge numbers of geese in either of these two environments were interesting, the real show happened when they flew as a group. Even if one wasn't paying attention when the geese took off, a low thunder-like rumble was unmistakable and, if the flight path was overhead, the sky would darken (and an umbrella may be desired for protection from the strafing).
 
When photographing an individual bird, framing decisions are made in an at least somewhat more-controlled manner than when photographing a flock of birds. One reason that geese flock together is to make it more difficult for a predator to single out one bird as its prey and these flocks can have the same effect on photographers. With seemingly random chaos occurring, how does one create an attractive image?
 
Here are some thoughts for the flock:
 
The first thought is to simply go back to the basics. Start with focal length selection.
 
Perspective comes into play, but if you are photographing a flock of now-flying geese, it is likely too late to get a different perspective. Plan for that earlier, but ... geese always fly wherever they want to and predicting where they will fly will often be challenging. Predict as best you can (they like to take off and land into the wind) and react quickly to what happens.
 
How far away are the geese, how large is the flock and how wide of an area are the birds covering? If it is a small flock a long distance away and the birds are densely packed, a longer focal length will likely be best. That is, best unless more of the landscape is desired to be in the frame in order to create an environmental-type image. If the geese are close, the flock is large and/or the birds are widely spread out, a shorter telephoto lens might be a better choice.
 
For my Middle Creek WMA shoot, the birds went where they wanted to go, access was limited and even if it wasn't, moving fast enough to catch a flock of geese required some form of powered mobility. So, embracing what was available was, as often is, the thing to do. To handle this situation, I had a full frame Canon EOS 5Ds R and 600mm f/4L IS II Lens tripod-mounted using a Wimberley Tripod Head II. In the MindShift Gear FirstLight 40L at my feet was a second 5Ds R with a 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II mounted. When the flocks were far away, I used the 600. When the snow geese storm moved overhead in big numbers, I grabbed the 100-400. And when the squall became widespread overhead, I had the EF-M 15-45 on the EOS M5 ready to catch that scene as well.
 
Note that I started out this day with a 1.4x extender behind the 600mm lens, but quickly determined that the heat waves were too strong and sharp results were not possible at this magnification. Even at 600mm, many of my distant images were not tack-sharp until after the sun went low enough in the sky to end the heat source creating the air disturbance. So, yes, it is very possible to have too much focal length even if that focal length is more ideal for the scene as the additional magnification may be wasted.
 
The shutter speed required for sharp birds depends on how fast their details are moving across the pixels on the sensor. A large-in-the-frame bird moving at high speed across an ultra-high resolution imaging sensor requires a much faster shutter speed than a small-in-the-frame bird sitting on the lake does when using a lower resolution camera. Aperture and ISO settings are then balanced for depth of field and noise with the desired brightness being the other side of the equation. In regards to brightness, use care to not blow the white highlights on the birds, leaving no details in the white. If the birds were flying, I was mostly using a 1/1600 shutter speed and an aperture of f/8 or narrower was usually best to keep more birds in focus. Once the light faded, I began experimenting with much longer shutter speeds for a panning motion blur effect.
 
Bryan's Law of Bird Photography: The frame in a high speed burst containing the perfect wing position, head position, background alignment and lighting will time perfectly with the bird's blink.
 
When photographing birds, using the camera's high speed burst mode is often the rule. Especially with multiple birds in the frame, having many images to select from is going to be a big advantage for many of the above reasons.
 
I usually use only one specific AF point or one point plus the surrounding points. But, when a huge flock of geese is filling the frame, using the all-points-active can work very well, allowing you to concentrate on composition while the camera figures out which of the closest birds should be focused on.
 
Composition always matters and usually, the goal is a balanced composition. When such a huge flock of birds is flying, you need to figure out what a balanced composition is very quickly and see that in the frame no later than as it happens. The bottom line is that, unless you are shooting for someone else, if you are happy with the image, you nailed it. But, we are always trying to improve our skills and there are some composition variants that work well for the snow geese storm.
 
If the goose density is extremely heavy, just fill the frame with the geese and shoot away. Singling out specific birds is very challenging if they are not large in the frame and you are unlikely to notice the background through all of the geese. The huge quantity of birds essentially becomes a pattern and everyone likes pattern images, right?
 
If possible, determine which direction (in relation to the camera) the birds are flying and focus on your preference. I prefer an approaching side view, but all of the other directions have their own photogenic advantages, showing differing views of the geese bodies. If a large flock is flying within a location, such as over a lake, they may fly in a circular motion and you may sometimes have a choice. So, be ready to identify what you are looking for.
 
If the birds are not dense enough to hide the background, the background showing through must be considered in the composition. If the background is mostly a solid color, such as the side of a mountain, there may not be much concern in that regard. The background will be evenly colored and that often works well for flock backgrounds. It is hard to go wrong with a blue sky background for the white birds and images with birds flying against a sunset sky often look great.
 
Contrast draws the viewer's eye. If the background includes strong lines of contrast, such as where the land and sky meet or a waterline (often present where there are waterfowl), it is good to carefully position these lines in the frame. Use your landscape photography skills here – perhaps taking advantage of the rule of thirds.
 
When sitting or swimming snow geese flocks take off, they often peel away from one side of the flock in a surprisingly orderly fashion. The line between the stationary and flying birds can be incorporated into the composition.
 
When the birds are not filling the entire frame, additional compositional elements must be considered. Where the flock is positioned in the frame is a big consideration and again, the rule of thirds may be a good choice in these cases.
 
In the image I am sharing here, I could have filled the entire frame with a rather-high density of geese, but chose to include the water in the very bottom of the frame. I often like to keep a clean bottom frame border, giving the image a base to be built upon. Having the water in the frame in this case meant that some geese can be seen landing in addition to those still in flight.
 
When the flock was farther away, I often kept additional frame borders clean (void of geese) as well (especially the top border).
 
Especially if using an ultra-high resolution camera, don't forget that you can crop the image to create a better composition later.
 
Lighting always matters. At this location, I arrived early in the afternoon, giving me time to do some on-site scouting and planning to be ready for the late-day, low-angle, warm-colored light. Again, the birds fly when and where they want to fly and good images can be made at various light angles, but the sun at your back, your shadow towards the birds, early and late in the day is usually a sure-thing for wildlife lighting conditions. As mentioned earlier, shooting into the sunset can also work well, but be very careful to not look at the sun through a telephoto lens as serious permanent eye damage can occur. On a clear day, the sky opposite the nearly-set sun will also turn pink, creating a pastel background for your birds.
 
While a cloudy day will not provide the same illumination, the giant softbox effect from a cloudy sky results in a soft light with a lower dynamic range for greatly-reduced shadows and easier to control exposures. Ultra-bright, solidly cloudy skies may cause a background brightness issues when the birds are above the skyline. In this case, consider exposing the sky to be pure white for a high key effect. Or, there is nothing wrong with a gray background and silhouetting the birds is a strategy that can work.
 
At the onset of this trip, one of my goals was to capture frames densely-filled with geese, perhaps even with no background remaining. While I don't think any of my images were completely void of background, many images have multiple thousands of geese in them and some have very little background remaining. In addition to getting some fun images, it was a great learning experience and it was especially great to experience this phenomenal nature event.
 
Now, check the forecast and go find your own snow geese storm!
 
A larger version of this image is available on BryanCarnathan.com, Flickr, Google+, Facebook and 500px. If reading from a news feed reader, click through to see the framed image.
Post Date: 3/25/2017 8:00:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
B&H has the newly announced Apple 9.7" iPads available for preorder.
 
Update: Technically, you can't follow through with the preorder until tonight, 8:30 PM EDT.
 
Product Highlights
 
  • 9.7" Multi-Touch Retina Display
  • 2048 x 1536 Screen Resolution (264 ppi)
  • Apple A9 64-bit SoC with M9 Coprocessor
Category: Preorders
Post Date: 3/25/2017 8:28:40 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Friday, March 24, 2017
by Sean Setters
 
While a sharp image is often most desireable, sometimes increased sharpness is counterproductive to achieveing specific photographic goals. For instance, lately I've been intrigued by slow shutter speeds and the motion blur recorded as a result of their use. Specifically, I've recently been using the RigWheels RigMount X4 Magnetic Camera Platform for automotive photography.
 
While I'm finding the camera platform to be an exciting tool to have in my kit, its not necessarily an inexpensive piece of gear and its uses outside of automotive photography are somewhat limited. But using the RigMount X4 got me thinking about other ways of capturing motion and the world of artistic possibilites at our fingertips, especially if nothing in the frame remains sharp as a result of one's chosen exposure variables.
 
With that in mind, I recently made set out with my camera in hand with a goal of creating a totally motion blurred image that looked more like "art" and less like "a mistake." With the goal of few (if any) details being discernable, I didn't have to go far to find a suitable location. The scene I chose was the normally-not-very-photogenic view seen across the street from my home. After about 20 attempts (using various panning/rotating techniques), I had a motion blurred image that intrigued me enough to post-process (seen above).
 
To capture the image, I used a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and EF 17-40mm f/4L USM (with a 4-stop ND filter) with the following settings: 40mm, f/6.3, 2 sec, ISO 200. I held the camera level to the ground and panned from right-to-left while bouncing the camera up and down (as if it were a bouncing ball) during the 2-second exposure which created seemingly the intertwined flowing lines seen in the image. For post processing, I applied vignetting correction and increased the image's saturation/vibrancy/clarity in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop CC. For what it's worth, I ended up liking the end result so much that it's now my smartphone's wallpaper (slightly croped and rotated 90-degrees).
 
We invite you to share your artistically motion blurred images in the comments below.
Post Date: 3/24/2017 8:51:00 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
B&H currently lists the expected availability of the new Canon EOS M6 as Thu, Mar 30th.
 
With that date rapidly approaching (less than a week away), it seemed logical to get our expectations loaded on the Canon EOS M6 Review page, so ... we did just that.
 
What are the differences between the EOS M6 and the EOS M5? We list those differences right at the top of the M6 page – and the list is short. So short that much of the M6 page is the same or nearly the same as the M5 page. And, a short list of differences is very good in this case. If you are familiar with one of these cameras, you just need to read the mentioned differences list to be familiar with both.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 3/24/2017 8:09:01 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Expired: Amazon has the Adobe Photoshop Elements 15 & Premiere Elements 15 available for $69.99. Regularly $124.99.
 
Product Highlights
 
  • Turn frowns upside down Transform frowns into smiles, adjust squinting eyes and make other quick tweaks, so everyone in your photos looks their best.
  • Guided Edits for help along the way Photoshop Elements offers 45 Guided Edits that step you through to fantastic results.
  • Picture incredible text Get step-by-step help turning a photo into cool visual text and then adding an embossed look and drop shadows to really make it pop. Great for collages, scrapbook pages, cards, signs, and more.
  • System Requirement Note: Only compatible with 64-bit processors
Through this weekend, B&H has select Camera Creatures on sale for $11.99 each. Regularly $19.99 each.
 
Alternately, you can get both props for $19.99.
 
If you've ever photographed young children, you likely know how difficult it can be to get and/or hold their attention. These props look as if they could make photographing children a little easier. [Sean]
 
Product Highlights
 
  • Keeps Kids Focused On the Camera
  • Unique Attention Grabber
  • Fits Most Camera Lenses
  • Built-In Squeaker
Post Date: 3/24/2017 5:19:17 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Thursday, March 23, 2017
B&H has the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD Lens in stock with free expedited shipping.
Post Date: 3/23/2017 4:11:48 PM CT   Posted By: Sean
Through March 27, use coupon code C20SPRING (20% off) during checkout at eBay to get the Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 STM Lens (via redtagcamera – 99.9% Positive Feedback) available for $111.99 with free shipping. Compare at $179.00 after $20.00 instant savings.
 
Note: The coupon code (20% off, $50.00 max) is single-use only (per eBay account) and can also be used on other select purchases on eBay.
 
This lens is small, lightweight, inexpensive, easy to pack and features surprisingly good image quality. At this price, this lens is a fantastic bargain. [Sean]
Post Date: 3/23/2017 4:10:42 PM CT   Posted By: Sean
Through March 27, use coupon code C20SPRING ($50.00 off) during checkout at eBay to get the Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens (via redtagcamera – 99.9% Positive Feedback) for $219.95 with free shipping. Compare at $279.00 after $20.00 instant savings.
 
Note: The coupon code (20% off, $50.00 max) is single-use only (per eBay account) and can also be used on other select purchases on eBay.
 
The Canon EF-S 10-18 IS STM is the lens I used for my most recent car-in-motion shot. [Sean]
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 3/23/2017 10:31:40 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Through March 27, use coupon code C20SPRING ($50.00 off) during checkout at eBay to get the DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter (via redtagcamera – 99.9% Positive Feedback) for $929.95 with free shipping. Compare at $1,061.00 after $140.00 instant savings.
 
Note: The coupon code (20% off, $50.00 max) is single-use only (per eBay account) and can also be used on other select purchases on eBay.
Post Date: 3/23/2017 10:23:18 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Through March 27, use coupon code C20SPRING during checkout at eBay to get the Canon EF-S 55-250mm F4-5.6 IS STM Lens (via redtagcamera – 99.9% Positive Feedback) for $109.56 with free shipping. Compare at $299.00.
 
Note: The coupon code (20% off, $50.00 max) is single-use only (per eBay account) and can also be used on other select purchases on eBay.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 3/23/2017 10:11:15 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
by Sean Setters
 
In my review of the RigWheels RigMount X4 Magnetic Camera Platform, I demonstrated how the mount could be used to capture a vehicle in motion (with blurred surroundings) while attached to the car being photographed. The example I created can be seen below.
 
Self Portrait with RigWheels RigMount X4 Magnet Camera Platform 1

Getting a shot like the example above is relatively easy and straightforward using the magnetic camera platform. But ever since posting the review, I had been wondering whether or not the RigMount X4 could be utilized to photograph a vehicle it wasn't attached to with a sharp vehicle and similarly blurred background. From a photographer's perspective, this type of situation would be ideal as the camera gear's safety and security remain the responsibility of the photographer rather than the driver of the subject car (assuming you're not using the X4 for a self-portrait like I was).
 
However, I knew that there would be several challenges involved in photographing a following vehicle, all of which can cause unwanted motion blur of the vehicle being photographed. To capture an acceptably sharp follow vehicle, the following would all need to happen simultaneously during the relatively long shutter duration:
 
  1. The car with the camera mount could not hit any significant bumps
  2. The follow car could not hit any significant bumps
  3. The follow car would need to maintain a constant distance from the lead/camera mounted car
I reasoned that using an image stabilized lens would help reduce the impact of small vibrations caused by the mount vehicle, but... it wouldn't be able to compensate for any noticeable bumps in the driving surface.
 
Unfortunately, there was another challenge to consider – lighting. If photographing on a bright, clear day, the single primary light source would not likely produce great results.
 
For instance, if driving into the sun, the lead vehicle's shadow would likely cast a distracting shadow into the scene. If the sun were camera right, the broad side of the subject vehicle as seen from the lead vehicle would be in shadow with, yet again, another distracting shadow cast into the middle of the frame. If driving away from the sun, then the bulk of the subject car would be in shadow. With the sun camera left, the broad side of the subject vehicle would have been well lit, but... I still wasn't sure that I'd be happy with the lead vehicle's shadow likely being visible in the frame.
 
Shooting at night seemed to be the best solution to the lighting problem. With street lights (and possibly head lights) providing the bulk of the lighting required for an exposure, the car could be lit from multiple angles with any shadows cast being less severe. Also, the direction of travel would be less of a concern, meaning that a wider variety of shooting locations would be available for consideration. As ideal nighttime lighting conditions would likely be sporadic on any given route (aside from a well lit parking lot), it was necessary to add "good lighting" to the ever-growing list of variables that had to fall in line for the desired final image.
 
Before attempting a nighttime shot, Alexis (the driver of the following vehicle) and I did a dry run during the day to determine which focal lengths and shutter speeds might work best. Tests with a shutter speed of 1/2 second never created a sharp-looking vehicle. We found that wider focal lengths and a relatively close vehicle in an adjacent lane with a 1/3 second shutter speed provided the most promising results. At 1/3 second, there were still only a few sharp images compared to the total images captured. However, the blur created at 1/3 second appeared significantly better at comfortable speeds than when using shorter shutter speeds.
 
Before I go any further, let me be clear – please use caution if attempting to photograph moving vehicles. Do what you can to minimize risks and always be alert to potential hazards and/or traffic conditions. We are not responsible for property damage and/or loss of life if you attempt to replicate the results.
 
How I Got the Shot
 
Because of its wide angle of view and image stabilization feature, I opted to use a Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens paired with an Canon EOS 7D Mark II. The 7D II was not only a good camera choice because of its compatibility with the EF-S 10-18 IS STM, but it's built-in intervalometer feature made triggering the camera during the shooting runs very easy.
 
I mounted the camera and lens to a ball head attached to the RigMount X4 and – using the included (4) Long Magnetic Mounts – I affixed the rig to the driver's side back quarter panel of my car. With the road in front of my house free of traffic, I directed Alexis to a spot for optimal framing, manually focused on the car, made a few test shots to determine the proper exposure settings, and with the exposure settings determined, I set the camera's intervalometer to take a shot every second. With the camera triggered, I told Alexis to try and maintain a constant distance from the car when she could (while abiding by all traffic laws, of course).
 
The exposure settings used: 10mm, f/5, 1/3 sec., ISO 1000.
 
We ended up doing two 1/2 mile laps traveling down a four lane road featuring a decent number of street lights. After the first lap, we took a look at the images to see if there were any adjustments that might be made to improve our results. We determined that the follow vehicle needed to be just a little bit closer and a little more forward in relation to the lead car than the previous run. On the second lap, we got the shot atop this post. Out of the two laps, there were only a handful of acceptably sharp images (out of 400+) and only a couple of the shots featured decent lighting and optimal vehicle placement within the frame (making selection of the best shot a very easy task).
 
Conclusion
 
Can the RigWheels RigMount X4 be used to photograph a moving vehicle that it isn't attached to, with motion blurred surroundings and a sharp subject? In a word – "absolutely." However, planning, patience and persistence will be your allies in getting those results.
 
More Info: RigWheels RigMount X4 Magnetic Camera Platform Review
Post Date: 3/23/2017 8:10:50 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
B&H has the Cinetics Axis360 Pro Motorized Motion Control System and Slider available for $699.95 with free shipping. Regularly $899.95.
 
Product Highlights
 
  • For Motorized Slides, Pans, and Tilts
  • Digital Stepper Motor
  • Supports up to 11 lb
  • Controller Unit with CineMoco Software
  • Speeds up to 110°/s
  • Incremental Steps Down to 0.03°
  • 32" Slider
  • Mini Tripod Kit with Ballhead
  • Two Quick-Release Clamps
  • Arca-Type Quick-Release Plate
Think Tank Photo has its new Signature-series – the Signature 10 and Signature 13 shoulder bags – in stock with free shipping.
 
As an added bonus for using our links, you'll get a free gift with your purchase of $50.00 or more at Think Tank Photo.
 
Key Features:
 
  • Modern wool-like fabric that is soft to the touch and stands-up to everyday use
  • Full-grain leather bottom and detailing, plus antique finished metal hardware
  • Zippered flap provides full closure and security to the main compartment, or tucks away when not in use
Post Date: 3/23/2017 7:36:36 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
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