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 Thursday, December 24, 2015
1. Install Christmas tree and clean up (this is the hardest step)
 
2. Wait for dark
 
3. Mount the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens on a full frame DSLR camera
 
4. Mount the camera to a tripod, zoom out, move in and level the camera (both pitch and yaw)
 
5. Turn off all regular lights, turn on all Christmas lights.
 
6. Take some test shots to determine that 15 seconds at f/16 (to get the starburst effect from the lights) and ISO 200 is right
 
7. Wait for the kids to go to bed (to avoid any floor vibrations)
 
8. Shoot until you run out of new composition ideas
 
9. Brush your teeth
 
10. Make one more attempt at finding new compositions.
 
My family and I wish you and your family a very "Merry Christmas!" May all of your photos be amazing!
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/24/2015 3:07:11 PM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Through Dec. 26, B&H has Adobe Photoshop Elements 14 (Download) available for $66.95. Regularly $96.95.
 
Product Highlights
 
  • Versatile Photo Editing Software
  • Camera Shake Reduction
  • Haze Removal
  • Quick Edits and 34 Guided Edits
  • Refined Hair and Pet Fur Selections
  • Application-Based Resizing Guides
  • Content-Aware Move and Fill Tools
  • Auto Smart Tone and Creative Effects
  • Built-In Social Media Sharing
  • For Mac OS X 10.9-10 & Windows 7, 8, 10
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/24/2015 10:59:47 AM CT   Posted By: Sean

 
From the Canon Australia YouTube Channel:
 
The most important tool for any photographer is the mind. To prove this we invited 6 photographers to a cemetery to capture “eternal life” in a single image…without a camera.
 
A big thank you is in order for the photographers who took part: Nancy Liao, Adriana Glackin, Bill Roberts, Murray Bell, Mike Falconer and Jeremy Shaw
 
Note from Sean: Camera companies don't generally advise you to put your camera down. But in this video, Canon demonstrates that planning and brainstorming without the camera in-hand can be an excellent technique for ultimately capturing the image that conveys an idea or tells a story in a more complete or unique way.
 
What perspective should we approach the scene with? What elements do we include? What elements should be highlighted and which should be insinuated? Great images more often than not require a vision, and taking a moment to mold that vision without the camera in-hand may prove beneficial.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 12/24/2015 8:55:56 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
For a limited time, B&H has the ikan Micro Spot On-Camera Light (Daylight) available for $37.95 with free shipping. Regularly $89.95.
 
Product Highlights
 
  • Daylight Balanced Color Temperature
  • 30° Beam Angle
  • Dimmable from 100 to 10%
  • 1 to 4W Power Draw
  • Built-In Non-Removable Battery
  • Discreet On / Off Switch
  • Removable Barndoors with CTO & Diffusion
  • Cold Shoe Mounting Foot
  • 1/4"-20 Threaded Mounting Hole
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/24/2015 5:19:56 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Wednesday, December 23, 2015
The Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Apo Planar T* ZF.2 for Nikon is currently discounted by $458.61 at B&H – now only $4,031.39 with free expedited shipping. Regularly $4,490.00.
Posted to: Nikon News
Post Date: 12/23/2015 12:28:39 PM CT   Posted By: Sean
Image quality results from the EOS 5Ds R have been added to the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Lens Review.
 
With the Zeiss Milvus 85mm f/1.4 Lens in my hands right now, this is the comparison I wanted to see.
 
B&H has the Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM Lens in stock with a $100.00 instant rebate.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 12/23/2015 8:52:26 AM CT   Posted By: Sean

 
In this video, a photographer's detached lens hood is mistaken for a "second puck" in a game between the Ontario Reign and Bakersfield Condors hockey teams.
 
Warning: If you plan on sticking your lens out of the photography port, be sure the lens hood is taped on securely or else leave it in the gear bag.
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/23/2015 6:05:57 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
According to the Egami Blog, Canon has filed a patent for a 16-40mm f/4 lens design.
 
Might the EF 17-40mm f/4L USM's successor be in the works with an even wider focal length? Only time will tell.
 
From the Egami Blog (Google translated):
 
Description of the patent literature
 
Patent Publication No. 2015-206976
 
  • Published 2015.11.19
  • Filing date 2014.4.23
Example
 
  • Zoom ratio 2.36
  • Focal length 16.48 24.40 38.90
  • F-number 4.12 4.12 4.12
  • Half angle (in degrees) 52.70 41.56 29.08
  • Image height 21.64
  • Overall length of the lens 177.74 162.40 159.73
  • BF 38.00 45.51 63.40
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/23/2015 5:21:33 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Through tonight and ending at 7:00AM ET, the following items can still be purchased with free Next Day Delivery.
 
Items that Qualify for Next Day Delivery
 
ItemCurrent
Incentive
Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens$100.00 off
Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens$100.00 off
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II LensFree Filter Kit
DJI Phantom 3 Professional QuadcopterFree Battery
3DR Solo Quadcopter with 3-Axis GimbalFree GoPro
HERO4
Apple 15.4" MacBook Pro Notebook (Mid 2014)$500.00 off

There are actually a lot of cameras and lenses that still qualify for Next Day Delivery up until 7:00AM ET tomorrow. If there is something you have in mind, it's worth seeing if your particular item qualifies.
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/22/2015 6:03:46 PM CT   Posted By: Sean
Can't figure out what to get a special photographer in your life? Need a last minute gift idea?
 
A B&H eGift Card may be exactly what you're looking for.
 
Each year my mother asks me, "So, what do you want for Christmas this year?" And for the last several years, my answer has always been the same – "A B&H gift card. You know it'll get used." I always said it with an involuntary smile because I knew it would help fund whatever was on my wish list that year (which of course was priced too high to actually request for the holiday).
 
Buying a B&H Gift Card is now easier than ever with their new eGift Cards. Choose your delivery option ("Email" in this case), the card design, amount and fill in the recipient's information and your own. After purchasing, the eGift Card will be delivered to the recipient's email address within an hour (fast and simple).
 
Not only is the eGift Card a perfect gift for any photographer to receive, but it's an equally perfect gift option for those whom might have procrastinated a little too long thereby missing the opportunity to ship a special gift by traditional means.
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/22/2015 11:08:18 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
If you look through Bryan's and my own favorite images, you won't see many abstract images. Typically speaking, our subjects are clearly defined and discernable (although our backgrounds may not be). When focusing on a specific subject (pun intended), the quality of your equipment and the sharpness your lenses deliver take center stage. Also, your subject and/or background must be visually compelling to grab the viewer's attention.
 
But what if you don't have the sharpest lenses? What if you have become uninspired by your immediate surroundings (a common problem I face)? In October, I posted the Top 6 Ways to Inspire Your Own Creativity, but I recently realized I missed a big one – Abstract photography.
 
My recent fascination with abstract photography began a couple of evenings ago when Amanda had fallen asleep on the couch, lit only by the faint glow of a TV left on in front of the room. Her arms and legs were humorously perched in awkward positions while our two dogs were cozily sharing the couch with her. It seemed like the perfect time for a personal snapshot that I never intended to share with the general public. But then happened...
 
Abstract Example #1

With my camera set to Live View (Silent Mode), Av priority at f/1.4 and ISO 800, It seems that I miscalculated just how slow the shutter would be even with -1 stop of exposure compensation dialed in (I wanted the scene to look as dark as it appeared to my eye). Soon after pressing the shutter, I raised the camera to look at the LCD preview only to notice the end of the exposure happening at that time. The resulting "accident" was oddly captivating to me.
 
That's what got me thinking about the benefits of abstract photography. Some of those benefits include:
 
  • You can easily create interesting abstract photos with inexpensive gear.
  • You can use very narrow apertures and significant motion blur to render subjects unrecognizable, yet still compelling.
  • The abstract images created can be used in many different ways.
The quality of gear used for creating abstract images is largely irrelevant as sharpness isn't a priority. According to dictionary.com, "abstract" can be defined as "expressing a quality or characteristic apart from any specific object or instance" or "difficult to understand; abstruse." In photographic terms, an abstract image is one in which the actual subjects are not clearly discerned, and the easiest way to accomplish that is to blur subjects through motion (my personal preference) or bokeh. When doing so, the incremental sharpness of one lens over another is practically meaningless.
 
And if our subjects are going to be blurred to oblivion, we can use rather uninspiring subjects found around the house to create interesting abstract images. At this point, I've photographed the flowers in my backyard about a dozen times over the past month. While they are still beautiful, they've stopped inspiring me to grab my camera for yet another shot of pretty flowers. But when focusing on abstract photography, the flowers become exciting again. Forgoing the tripod I usually use with macro subjects, I grabbed my 5D Mark III with the EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM attached to capture the following images:
 
Abstract Example #2

Abstract Example #3

Abstract Example #4

And using motion blur and a macro lens, you can even create a relatively interesting image with something as mundane as a concrete patio (below).
 
Abstract Example #5

Of course, motion blur isn't the only way to render subjects unrecognizable. You can also use a wide aperture and unfocused subjects to create an interesting composition. The Christmas holiday seems to provide ample creative bokeh opportunities.
 
Out of Focus Christmas Lights

So what can you do with abstract images? Well, like any good image, a compelling abstract can liven up a blank space on your wall, but its usefulness does not end there. An abstract image can look great as a background for future portraits (either via post processing or via a Light Blaster) or they can be used for many generic stock image background needs and various typesetting projects.
 
At the end of the day, creating abstract images can be a fun and fulfilling way to spend time behind your camera.
 
Do you have abstract photos you'd like to share? Just add them to the site's Flickr group and tag them with "abstract".
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/22/2015 9:57:07 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Image quality results from the EOS 7D Mark II have been added to the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens Review.
 
I believe that this is the oldest Canon zoom lens still currently available new.
 
B&H has the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Lens in stock.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 12/22/2015 8:23:32 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
Fresh on the heals of their Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM & Sony FE 35mm f/1.4 ZA teardowns, LensRentals has now opeened up the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens to see how its construction compares to the other two.
 
If you don't have time to read the lengthy post, here's a small paragraph from Roger's conclusions that sums up the lens's construction succinctly:
"For the most part, there weren't many surprises in this teardown. We've seen how Sigma has remade themselves as a company making only superb optics at very reasonable prices in the last few years. This lens is constructed very well. There isn't the amazing heavy-duty construction of the Canon 35mm f/1.4. Instead, I'd characterize the construction of the Sigma as very efficient and carefully laid out. There's a solid metal core with other parts all connecting directly to that core. Little touches like pegs to make sure a part is inserted in the proper rotation and shields over critical parts didn't add much expense or weight, but show care was taken in the design. There's nothing in this teardown that looked like a weak point."
You can find links to the other 35mm lens teardowns at the beginning of the this teardown.
 
B&H carries the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens (review).
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/22/2015 5:50:35 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Monday, December 21, 2015
Today only, Adorama has the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 HD Fisheye Lens for Canon available for $179.00 with free expedited shipping. Regularly $159.00.
 
The Nikon version is also available for $199.00. Regularly $269.00.
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/21/2015 1:59:40 PM CT   Posted By: Sean
Putting up and decorating is a big family tradition at our house and the annual photographing of the tree is my own sub-tradition.
 
The photo setup starts long before the camera comes out, beginning with the position of the tree. In addition to the location selected in the house (ours has a very logical one), make sure that the tree appears vertically straight (regardless of the trunk's curvature) and, if the tree is being centered on a feature (such as a set of windows), fine tune that position.
 
The next item on the checklist must be attended to before you string the lights on the Christmas tree (I know, that is the favorite job). The key is to make sure that all of the strings of lights have bulbs with the same brightness (or that they are dissimilar enough to look proper). Perhaps I'm not the brightest bulb in the pack as I skipped this step (thought we corrected this issue last year) and ... apparently there are two different Christmas light models in our tree kit. At least I have a dark-light-dark-light pattern going up the tree. Hopefully most will think that design was intentional.
 
After the tree is fully decorated, clean up the area around it – minimally all that will be included in the frame. This task may include smoothing the carpet if it shows tracks.
 
The Best Time of Day to Photograph the Christmas Tree
 
A Christmas tree can be photographed at any time of day or night, but the best time of the day is when the ambient light is right for the image you want. A tree located in a room with many windows will, without significant shading, show mostly green with ornaments and a subdued look to the strings of lights. This is a very nice look.
 
My preference for photographing our tree, installed in our great room/living room, is to use only the light from the Christmas tree lights with very low or no additional ambient light. With windows behind our tree, I am quickly limited to the after dark timeframe. After dark comes early in late fall and early winter, but there is another issue. People walking around cause the floor to flex slightly and that makes the ornaments swing, becoming blurred in a long exposure. So, after the kids are in bed (or plan to be somewhere else in the house for a period of time) works best for long exposures sans kids in the picture.
 
Having windows in your photo quickly complicates the tree photo session for a couple of reasons in addition to the ambient light they provide. One reason is what is outside of the window. Waiting until after dark usually takes care of this problem unless there are other lights visible through the windows (such as street lights). In the latter case, blocking your windows from outside, such as with black foam core, may be a solution to the issue. In this photo, I waited until late in the blue hour on a very foggy day to get a slight even blue glow through the windows. I wasn't sure how bright I wanted the blue to be, but capturing a frame every few minutes allowed me to choose what I thought was ideal at a later time.
 
Reflections are another issue with windows. If Christmas lights are being reflected, those reflections are often beneficial to the composition. But, if something else in your house is being reflected (such as the LCD panel on the microwave or thermostat), the effect will not likely be appreciated.
 
Lens Selection for Christmas Tree Photography
 
The desired perspective should always drive focal length selection and in this case, working space may limit the perspective options. Within the bounds of walls and other furniture (consider moving it), the optimal perspective will often result in a wide angle lens being selected.
 
Experiment with perspective, utilizing the various focal lengths at a variety of distances. Also try a variety of camera heights, but do so with an understanding that a vertically level camera is going to keep vertical lines in the frame straight. Windows, corners, furniture and other items will provide those straight lines.
 
Aperture Selection for Christmas Tree Photography
 
While a wide variety of apertures can be used for Christmas tree photos and blurred Christmas trees are quite beautiful, f/16 is one of my favorites. I know, your first thought was to cringe at the softness that diffraction will impart at this aperture and that is a true concern. But, the narrower the aperture used, the bigger the star effect created by each light on the tree. The f/16 aperture is a bit of a compromise in that the images remain reasonably sharp (and sharpenable) with rather large stars being created. Experiment with f/8 through f/22 to determine your own preference.
 
While ISO 100 is ideal, I went to ISO 200 for this exposure to reduce the amount of time each frame was taking. This one stop increase in ISO meant little in terms of noise, but it took 15 seconds off of the exposure and another 15 seconds off of the long exposure noise reduction information capture following the exposure.
 
Summary
 
You have spent (or are going to spend) all that time and expense putting the Christmas tree up and decorating it, so ... plan on spending some time taking pictures of it. If you don't think the right lens is in your kit, this would be a good time to buy it. Renting a lens to use over the holidays is another great idea.
Posted to: Canon News,
Post Date: 12/21/2015 11:15:45 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
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