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 Sunday, January 13, 2019
With wildlife photography, being at the right place at the right time is a key to success. Of course, being in the right place for a lot of time improves the odds. During this week, I spent time around groves of brilliantly-colored maple trees and on this morning a big bull elk obliged, summiting a distant ridge in the early morning sunlight.
 
The bull was not in a hurry and, as you probably guessed, I captured a lot of images of it (at 9 fps). This image stood out to me primarily because of the elk's position. Its position in the opening gave it high contrast against the still-shaded background. With viewers' eyes drawn to contrast, the elk is able to command attention over the brilliant red maple trees. The position of the bull's legs, all visible and showing movement, works well. The head angle is usually important and the slightly-toward-the-camera angle is usually a good one.
 
Shooting at very long distances in direct sunlight usually results in significant heat wave distortion when using a high magnification focal length. Because the sun was just beginning to reach this area, the heat waves were not yet an issue and that problem was avoided.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
 
Camera and Lens Settings
600mm  f/4.0  1/140s
ISO 140
8379 x 4664px
Post Date: 1/13/2019 7:00:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Wednesday, January 9, 2019
by Sean Setters
 
Canon USA often offers excellent rebates on their PIXMA PRO-100 Wireless Professional Inkjet Photo Printers. Not long ago, I took advantage of one of those rebates and received my PIXMA PRO-100 shortly afterward.
 
Aside from the great build quality of the printer itself, I was thoroughly impressed by the box that the printer was shipped in. I realize that reading that previous statement may invoke a quizzical look on many site visitors' faces, but hear me out. Not all cardboard is the same, and the cardboard used in the PIXMA PRO-100's packaging (it's likely the same for the PRO-10 as well) is extremely rigid and durable, a fact that was clearly evident when I attempted (and eventually succeeded) in cutting out the barcode for rebate claim purposes.
 
Why would someone care about the quality of cardboard? Well, if you're like me, you may have a decent amount of 8.5 x 11" photo paper lying around because you took advantage of a couple of great printer paper deals which tend pop up every now and then. However, 8.5 x 11" is rarely a requested print size; more often than not, an 8 x 10" print is desired. It's easy enough to produce an 8 x 10" print on an 8.5 x 11" piece of paper, but cutting is required to make that print fit in most 8 x 10" frames.
 
While scissors are certainly an option for accomplishing the task, if you're like me, you may have trouble cutting in a straight line. Even though a print with slightly not-so-straight edges will rarely be noticed once it's in the frame, handing such a print over to a customer is a bit embarrassing. We strive to produce the highest quality photos possible, so why would we hand over a print that gives the impression of a low quality product without exquisite attention to detail?
 
My solution for obtaining clean, straight cuts on my prints involves an X-ACTO knife (with plenty of spare blades), a stainless steel ruler and cardboard. Before the PIXMA PRO-100 arrived, I had been using whatever cardboard box was in the recycling pile waiting to be picked up (usually an Amazon box). But I often didn't have a large enough box on-hand to make the required cuts, and even if I did, a single project made the box unusable for future projects because the cardboard was too weak to endure multiple uses. A single PIXMA PRO-100 box top panel, on the other hand, has sustained multiple uses (I've created about a dozen prints with it) and shows no signs of imminent failure. And when (or possibly, "if") that panel ever becomes too worn to do its job, I've got another panel waiting to take its place.
 
Everyone who has received a hand-cut print from my Canon PIXMA PRO-100 printer has been extremely happy with the quality of the finished product. Of course, the quality of the photos and the quality of the printer deserve most of the credit for my clients' satisfaction, but the printer's box top also deserves some credit for helping me to produce those high quality 8 x 10" prints.
 
Oh, and by the way – select Canon Printer Paper products (including 8.5 x 11" sheets) are on sale at B&H for a limited time.
Post Date: 1/9/2019 7:11:57 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Monday, January 7, 2019
Stories are great. Sometimes a picture tells a story and sometimes a story comes from getting the picture. One afternoon during a fall photo trip to Colorado, we headed to Owl Creek Pass. This area is very scenic, especially with fall colors.
 
The dirt road over the top of this pass can be questionable after a rain (at least without an off-road-capable vehicle) and we had plenty of rain but opted to give it a go with the small Ford Edge AWD SUV we had rented. At a relatively high elevation, we discovered that the road was being worked on and by the time we reached the top, we were bottoming out on loose gravel being dumped (tailgated) onto the road. By maintaining forward momentum, we made it over this rather long obstacle but were then greeted by a thick mud road surface until finally reaching the top of the pass.
 
As we went over the top, the serious question was whether or not we should risk going down the other side. That answer was quickly provided in the form of a 6-wheel-drive grader coming up the other side. It was mostly sideways and consuming the entire width of the relatively narrow road. The large machine had its rear scarifier down and was tearing up the road surface, preparing it for a fresh layer of stone similar to what we had just driven through. The decision to turn back was easy and immediate with a strong sense of that get-out-while-you-can feeling.
 
While on our way back down the mountain (it is easier to plow stone when going down hill), beyond the active road construction area, the sun broke through the clouds and we stopped to take pictures at the next clearing. Very few people were around this rather remote area, but a couple was at this spot taking a selfie. My daughter asked them if they would like us to take their picture, volunteering me to do so. They were quite happy about that and I quickly obliged while very anxious to get my shot before the small hole the clouds passed and the sunlight again was again shut off.
 
Looking at my hat, purchased in Hawaii over 5 years prior, the young guy asked if I had been to Hawaii. Turns out that he was a crew member for the boat company I had sailed with during the Canon Hawaii product announcement event only a few weeks prior. He showed me pictures on his phone of the boat I had been on. What are the odds that?
 
We chatted for a while and I of course captured a large number of images of this spectacular scene while doing so.
 
Direct sunlight shining under heavy clouds is at the top of my favorite lighting scenarios list. When the light is this good, the image results can be striking without much processing. The standard picture style was used to process this image and no additional contrast adjustments were made. The biggest processing challenge was to determine which image to share with you.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
 
Camera and Lens Settings
50mm  f/9.0  1/180s
ISO 100
6516 x 4344px
Post Date: 1/7/2019 7:43:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Sunday, January 6, 2019
I love Pronghorn most because of their colors. But, they have many other great qualities. The dark, semi-heart shaped horns are one and that mohawk hair style is great.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
 
Camera and Lens Settings
600mm  f/4.0  1/2000s
ISO 2000
3948 x 2632px
Post Date: 1/6/2019 7:00:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Saturday, January 5, 2019
social
 
Coming with me?
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
Post Date: 1/5/2019 7:30:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Friday, January 4, 2019
These days, digital cameras support various types of memory cards such as CompactFlash, CFAST, XQD, Sony MemoryStick and – the focus of today's article – the ultra-popular Secure Digital (SD/SDHC/SDXC).
 
If you have ever been shopping for SD memory cards, you likely noticed a lot of different numbers of symbols on the cards' labels. Although seemingly cryptic, those numbers and symbols reveal important information about a card's performance, and whether or not that memory card is right for your intended use. So let's take a closer look at a typical SD card's label to see what information is available.
 
Secure Digital Memory Card Label (SanDisk)

Format
 
In 1999, SanDisk, Panasonic and Toshiba jointly introduced the Secure Digital memory card format (later referred to as Secure Digital Standard Capacity, or SDSC) in an attempt to improve upon the existing MultiMediaCard (MMC). The following year, those same companies formed the SD Card Association to develop SD standards and promote the new memory card format. In 2006, the SD Card Association outlined the SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) format in the second version of its SD specifications with support for memory cards up to 32 GB and speeds up to 25 MB/s. Later, the development of Ultra High Speed bus systems would increase the speeds available for SDHC memory cards. Three years later, the SDXC (Secure Digital eXtended Capacity) format was introduced supporting capacities of 2 TB and speeds of 104 MB/s with the addition of the UHS-I (Ultra High Speed) bus standard. When UHS-II was introduced in 2011, speeds up to 312 MB/s became possible. In 2018, The SD Card Association developed the SDUC (Secure Digital Ultra Capacity) format with support for 128 TB and speeds up to 985 MB/s.
 
Card TypeSupported
Capacity
Supported
Bus Speed
File System
SDSCup to 2 GB12.5 MB/sFAT12/FAT16
SDHCup to 32 GB25 MB/sFAT32
SDXCup to 2 TB312 MB/sexFAT
SDUCup to 128 TB985 MB/sexFAT

Max Read Speed
 
The max read speed indicates how fast the data from the memory card can be read under ideal circumstances. On some cards, an x-rating value is displayed. The x-rating is based on the original data transfer speed of CD-ROMs (150 KB/s). Because there may be a significant discrepancy between read speeds and write speeds, max read speeds (and x-ratings) are not truly indicative of the kind of performance you can expect from a memory card when used in your camera (where write speeds are significantly more important). Note that some manufacturers list separate max Read/Write data specs to clarify their card's performance, and the SD Association's introduction of Speed Classes (and Video Speed Classes) also help to clarify SD memory cards' performance (more on that later).
 
x Speed RatingApprox. Max
Read Speed
300x45 MB/s
400x60 MB/s
633x95 MB/s
1000x150 MB/s
2000x300 MB/s

UHS Class Speed
 
UHS-I and UHS-II cards (more on these later) may list a UHS class rating to designate the minimum write performance for the card, with U1 indicating 10 MB/s and U3 indicating 30 MB/s or more.
 
Capacity
 
Listed big and bold, and probably what most consumers pay the most attention to, is the memory card's capacity. Of course, a larger capacity means more images/videos can be saved before running out of room.
 
Video Speed Class
 
In order to cater to the needs of videographers, the SD Association created a Video Class Speed to designate the minimum sequential writing speed of the card. The number following the "V" indicates the minimum number of MB/s the card is capable of sequentially writing. In the example above, the card is minimally capable of writing 30 MBs of data to the card every second.
 
Bus Interface
 
An SD memory card's UHS (Ultra High Speed) rating indicates the maximum amount of data that can physically move into and out of the card. Along with the SDXC standard released in the SD Association's v.3.01 specification standards (2009), the UHS-I standard was also introduced. UHS-II and UHS-III soon followed allowing for even greater bus speeds, but these technologies required a second row of pins to be added to memory cards. The latest UHS bus iteration is dubbed "UHS Express" and has a theoretical limit of 985 MB/s.
 
Bus InterfaceBus Speed
UHS-I12.5 MB/s (SDR12)
25 MB/s (SDR25)
50 MB/s (SDR50, DDR50)
104 MB/s (SDR104)
UHS-II156 MB/s (FD156)
312 MB/s (HD312)
UHS-III312 MB/s (FD312)
624 MB/s (FD624)
UHS-Express985 MB/s (FD985)

Speed Class
 
Speed Classes 2, 4 and 6 support write speeds to a fragmented card of 2, 4 and 6 MB/s respectively. Class 10 cards, on the other hand, support a minimum of 10 MB/s sequential writing to a non fragmented card in addition to utilizing a high speed bus mode. As you can see, there's a lot of room for a Class 10 memory card to exceed the minimum spec, which is probably why the other class ratings (such as UHS/Video) were implemented.
 
Speed ClassMin. Seq.
Write Speed
Suggested Use
Class 22 MB/sSD Video
Class 44 MB/sup to 1080p/30p
Class 66 MB/sup to 1080p/30p
Class 10, U1/V1010 MB/sup to 1080p/120p
Class 10, U3/V3030 MB/sup to 4K/120p
Class 10, U3/V6060 MB/sup to 8K/120p
Class 10, U3/V9090 MB/sup to 8K/120p

Which memory card should I get for my camera?
 
In short, the memory card that has a sufficient capacity, the performance necessary to meet your most data-hungry needs and falls within your budget range. Keep in mind that SD memory cards are backward compatible; even if a memory card maxes out the capabilities of your camera to record data to it, you may find the extra performance useful when a) transferring images or video to other devices via a card reader or b) when your next camera offers features such as higher resolution images and/or video.
 
Secure Digital Memory Card Suggested RetailersB&H | Adorama
Post Date: 1/4/2019 8:28:57 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Monday, December 31, 2018
Is your new year starting with fireworks? Photograph them!
 
If you've photographed fireworks long/frequently enough to be bored with the results, it is time to get creative.
 
Visiting the local annual fireworks show is a tradition for our family. With years of the normal motion-blurred fireworks images already on the drives, creating unique imagery has become more challenging. To create uniqueness this year, I used the fireworks focus blur strategy for practically the entire show. At least for me, this strategy results in a very low keeper rate. But, having a few of these images that worked out well was worth more to me than having 75 or 100 that looked the same as those captured in previous years.
 
Let's go over the gear selection for this shot/shoot. A fast frame rate was of no importance and high resolution, sharp imagery was. Thus, the Canon EOS 5Ds R was the perfect choice. The approximate focal length range needed was known and any the 24-something normal zoom lenses would comfortably cover it. I opted for the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens over the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens because a wide aperture was of no importance and ... I had fewer sample images from the newer 24-105mm lens.
 
A solid tripod was needed, but with over 1 mile of round trip walking required for this shooting location, it could not be heavy. The Really Right Stuff TVC-34 Carbon Fiber Tripod was a perfect choice. A capability-matching tripod head was of course needed. The shooting was going to be 100% in the dark and I wanted all images to be completely level despite the usually-requiring re-framing when the first rockets launch. The UniqBall UBH 45X Ball Head, with its unique capabilities, was the perfect choice. Once the head was leveled, pan and tilt could be adjusted without levelness being changed.
 
Fireworks are usually launched in the dark and many of us immediately think that large apertures and high ISO settings will therefore be needed. But, that is not the case. Fireworks are so bright that the opposite problem is often encountered. In order to avoid the softening effects of diffraction at the tiny aperture opening required for an ideal fireworks burst exposure, a 2-stop neutral density filter was used. As the f/10 aperture used for this image is still slightly narrower than the aperture where diffraction becomes slightly noticeable, a 3-stop ND would have been a slightly better choice.
 
Getting the entire fireworks burst in a single image requires a long exposure. The tripod ensures that the camera is stationary during that exposure (avoiding wavy fireworks trails), but the shutter must be opened without causing camera motion. Because timing of the start and finish of the exposure is critical for fireworks photography, a remote release is a requirement.
 
Fireworks are in fast motion. Thus, their brightness in the image is determined by aperture and ISO. The shutter speed controls how long the rocket and resulting explosion is captured. Since the ideal time duration varies, Bulb mode is the ideal choice. With Bulb mode selected, the release button is pressed, held and released to time with the launches.
 
Fireworks bursts vary greatly in size. In general, it is better to frame slightly too wide than than slightly too tight. It is easier to crop than it is to build missing light trails. My choice is often to let the largest burst go out of the frame, but keep 90 percent of the explosions entirely framed in black.
 
A fireworks image seemed fitting to lead a Happy New Year well-wishing post and that wish is what I most want to pass along here. Thanks for a great 2018 and Happy New Year 2019!
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
Post Date: 12/31/2018 9:38:43 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Saturday, December 29, 2018
The titles "How to Turn Water into Gold" and "On Golden Pond" seemed also appropriate for this image. Regardless, gold was the theme here.
 
During my stay at Red River Camps in northern Maine this past summer, a pair of loons were raising their chicks on Island Pond. Especially unusual was that the chicks were very small for the mid-August timeframe. The loon's first nest had been attacked by a predator and the adult pair started over. With winter arriving early here, there was concern that the chicks would not be able to fly in time for migration and biologists were monitoring their progress. But, having small chicks available was a bonus from a photography perspective.
 
Hanging with these loons required a watercraft and a small canoe was my best option. A light wind made keeping the canoe properly positioned a big challenge and probably more time was spent paddling than photographing. The sun was setting and maintaining a position between the sun and the loons was the goal.
 
The adults were constantly diving for food and moving around the lake while doing so, but fortunately, they were in the area of the lake receiving the latest direct light when the sun went behind the trees. The color difference between shade light and a late day sun light is dramatic with shade light typically being very cool and direct setting sun light being very warm. As the sun went down, the water became shaded before the shoreline and shaded water usually shows reflections very well.
 
The photograph shared here was only lightly processed. The primary edit was selecting a custom white balance point using a patch of the adult loon's solid white feathers as the basis. Those feathers were in the shade and the result was a color temperature setting of 10500 K being established. At this setting, the reflected sunlit background becomes very golden and a slight saturation increase (+18 on a -100 to 100 scale in Lightroom) finishes off the liquid gold.
 
Be looking for opportunities to use the light color mismatch of sun and shade to your creative advantage when out photographing. The subject in the shade, background in the sun option as shared here often works well, but the opposite can also work, creating a blue-toned background with a properly white-balanced subject.
 
For those with Nikon-based kits, the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E AF-S VR Lens is a great option for handheld wildlife photography. The D850 is my current Nikon camera of choice for this purpose.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
 
Camera and Lens Settings
330mm  f/5.6  1/640s
ISO 1000
7384 x 4923px
Post Date: 12/29/2018 9:56:17 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Wednesday, December 26, 2018
A fresh snowfall leaving a blanket of white was calling me outdoors this morning. The snow has just subsided and the wind was arriving, promising to clear the snow from the tree branches, so time was of the essence. With the M50 and EF-M 18-150 mounted, I had an ideal combination in my hands.
 
The snow was beautiful and covering everything, but a good composition was not obvious. Finding order within chaos is frequently what landscape photography is about and that was the challenge I faced. Finding the order within chaos often means isolating a portion of the scene. The huge focal length range made available by the EF-M 18-150 was ideal for this task.
 
Exploring the scene through the viewfinder, this section of a pair of hickory trees caught my attention. The contrast between the trunks and branches and the snow and background fog was strong. As much as possible, I avoided having the larger branches leave the frame, hoping to use the large trunks as leading lines, but without branch lines leading viewers' eyes out of the picture. The distant trees visible at the bottom of the frame provide a small hint to what lies beyond otherwise hindered by fog visibility. The overall balance in the frame is always important and this composition seemed to check that box.
 
Good composition is often easiest to determine while reviewing images and this one was my favorite from this short session.
 
Check out our Winter Photography Tips page for more ideas on how to spend you winter.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
 
Camera and Lens Settings
57mm  f/8.0  1/80s
ISO 100
6000 x 4000px
Post Date: 12/26/2018 7:00:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Tuesday, December 25, 2018
Putting up the Christmas tree is a highly-anticipated annual event at our house. We visit a local tree farm, driving up into the hills to select the perfect tree. The off-road 4x4 driving with the family might be my favorite part of the entire process. That, and causing the girls to complain about the trees I suggest. They think we need the tallest tree available, although I'm not fond of driving home with an enormous tree across the back of the SUV (on a Hitch Haul), usually with the trunk barely clearing the guard rail while the top is hovering above the road's center line on the other side.
 
I "get" to put the finally-agreed-upon tree in the stand (twice this year – it ran out of water and needed to have the stump cut off again to eliminate the sap seal) and try to keep it upright for the season (we understand firsthand that a fully decorated tree falling over is traumatic, at least to young kids). Oh, and I also "get" to string the lights, regardless of the height. Photographing the Christmas tree is the last job and one of my favorites. Who can resist capturing all of those sparkling lights?
 
While I photograph the result of a lot of work every year, I don't remember if I've ever used the same lens more than once for this task. There always seems to be a new one on hand that would work great for the task. This year, the Canon RF 28-70mm f/2L USM Lens on a Canon EOS R seemed like a perfect option.
 
Deciding on a composition is always an early decision for this task and this year I opted for a straight-on view from a level camera position. I wanted the windows to remain vertically straight and any camera tilt would create converging or angled lines. I determined that the timing for this photo should be during the blue hour so that a touch of color would show through the windows. With windows in the frame, reflections had to be controlled and in this case that meant that I needed a dark house. So, an afternoon when the girls were going Christmas shopping seemed ideal. That way, the have the house would be empty with no one's interests being hindered (i.e. a relaxed shoot). The exposure would not have to be timed for when no one was walking on the floor, creating vibrations for both the camera and the hanging ornaments. And, no one would care that the lights were off.
 
After sitting at my desk all day, I needed to get some exercise, ideally in the form of a trail run, before it was dark. A late start on that task meant that an increased pace was necessary. Despite a blown out sock along the way (requiring a stop and reversal to prevent a hot spot from becoming a blister), I still managed to complete my tough 3k course in near record (for me) pace. Phew. there was just enough time to cleanse the scene and set up the camera prior to the ideal shooting time.
 
Experience taught that when the outdoor ambient light was ideally balanced with the indoor light, an ISO 100 exposure of 30 seconds at f/16 would be ideal. Why f/16? Do you see the stars on the candles sitting on the windows? Every light on the tree also has a similar-but-smaller star. You need a narrow aperture to make those happen. Also note that a wide max aperture lens often creates the biggest stars and the RF 28-70's stars are awesome.
 
While f/22 will create even larger stars, the strong softness caused by diffraction at this setting is hard to accept. While some diffraction effects are visible at f/16, this seems to be an optimal choice for balance between star size and sharpness. Using a +1 sharpness setting is a good compromise for using f/16 over the sharper f/11 setting. Nice is that the deep f/16 depth of field makes it easy to keep everything in the image sharp.
 
Scene prep involved moving a couple of items (couch, ottoman, ...) out of the way and smoothing the carpet. As I began setting up the camera, my oldest daughter called (from the shopping excursion) to ask questions about a Christmas gift she was putting together for her husband. I of course wanted to help her, but ... the light was fading (so much for the relaxed shoot). Her questions were answered just in time to finalize the setup and begin shooting. It is difficult to visualize when the perfect blue hour light balance is achieved, so I usually opt to shoot through the period of time that contains the ideal balance. Then, during post processing, there is again a struggle to decide which time was best because subsequent images appear quite similar.
 
When there was no more blue left in the windows, I knew that additional images were not going to look any different than those already captured (without choosing a new perspective) and I went to find warmer clothes (there had been no time to change out of my running clothes prior to the shoot).
 
Amazingly, the girls opted for a tree that I selected this year! They did a great job decorating the tree (as always) and they like the results of my final job, the formal tree picture. That is ... my final job until I get to clean up the results of the Christmas morning package destruction (and later take the tree out).
 
That is probably more than you wanted to know about this Christmas tree, but ... from my family to yours, we wish you a very warm Merry Christmas! And, I wish you many memory cards full of memories from the day!
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
 
Note that you are going to be hearing more about this tripod. I'm impressed.
 
Camera and Lens Settings
28mm  f/16.0  30s
ISO 100
4480 x 6720px
Post Date: 12/25/2018 8:00:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Friday, December 21, 2018
In response to a tilt-shift lens question, Canon USA Technical Advisor Rudy Winston provided a detailed response that we though was worth sharing with you.
 
Canon TS-E Tilt-Shift Lens General Shooting Procedure
 
While there's no one "official" way to work with the TS-E lenses (I'm sure you'll find some diversity of opinion on what different users feel is best), the following is what works best in my experience. Keep in mind there's no "one-touch" way to set the lens up unless you've recorded previous settings and are shooting the same subject subsequently, at the same camera position, subject distance, and so on. Otherwise, there's a bit of trial-and-error, especially if you're trying to adjust the zone of sharpness (notice I avoided saying "depth of field," as that technically doesn't change; you're altering the plane of sharpest focus via the tilt operation).
 
THE BASIC OPERATIONS
 
It is important to be sure in one's mind what the two different possible adjustments – Shift and Tilt – do, and why you might want to apply one or the other. There are certainly many instances where just one will provide the look you want in finished images, so don't assume every shot will need a combination of both (of course, experimentation can be great fun).
 
A couple of other points:
 
I *always* recommend starting with both tilt and shift zero'ed out, before you begin to work with adjustments.
 
Metering with DSLRs: You MUST perform any in-camera metering with a TS-E lens at the zero Shift and Tilt positions. On any of the cameras with an optical viewfinder, you will get exposure errors or deviations if you meter daylight or E-TTL flash with a TS-E lens that's not at its zero adjust positions. Note that this is far less of a problem with the mirrorless cameras, since they're metering directly off the image sensor, and the light doesn't have to get reflected upward by a DSLR mirror, and then get scattered by a focus screen before it's read by a metering sensor in the prism area, near the viewfinder eyepiece. Bottom line, do any metering (manual mode, of course, is ideal for this, since nothing will change if you begin to adjust the TS-E lens), before you start tilting and/or shifting, and you should be in a good place to begin taking actual shots... don't freak out if you do need to tweak exposures, after a couple of quick test shots, to nail it down the way you want. Parenthetically, if you're using a separate hand-held meter (not the one built-in to the camera body), you can normally set the camera to whatever the meter suggests, whether you've engaged tilt and/or shift or not, as typically a hand-held meter will be pretty close to optimum exposure for ambient light.
 
Shift function
 
Shifting the lens up, down, left or right is primary for perspective control – the obvious example is keeping vertical lines on a building or product (like a cereal box) straight, and avoiding the "pyramid" effect of converging vertical lines. It can sometimes also be useful for literally shifting the subject in the frame, removing the image of photographer & camera if shooting into a wall with small mirrors (this won't work for an entire mirrored wall, of course!), and so on.
 
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Lens Shift Example Cabin

Tilt function
 
Tilting the lens, so that the front section is no longer perfectly parallel with the image sensor/film plane, changes the plane of what is in sharp focus. Shooting with a lens from an angle (rather than straight into a subject, like a wide-angle shot of a car taken from around the front fender/wheel well), it's possible to focus on the near part of the subject, then tilt the lens so that the front section is closer to being parallel to the whole length of our hypothetical car (or any other subject), and you can get sharpness to run from the near area focused upon, down the length of the subject. To be clear, tilting has **nothing** to do with the architectural photography need to keep vertical lines straight; that's SHIFTING alone. Of course, you CAN combine tilt and shift in the same image... just be clear up-front about the role of each, or you'll spend a long time trying to dial-in an optimum setting.
 
Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L Macro Paddy Field Tilted at f 2.8

Shooting Aperture
 
Anything you want. If you apply tilt correctly, you won't require tiny f-stops like f/22 just to hope to get an entire subject sharp. In some cases, even a wide-open aperture can get the job done, which might never be possible with a conventional lens.
 
Tripod Use
 
Tripod use is definitely preferred where possible, since it keeps everything anchored and lets you concentrate on composing and working the lens's controls... though it *is* possible to do this hand-held. However, it's nowhere near as smooth an experience, and you can expect your arms to get tired after a while at the controls.
 
Release Knobs for Shift & Tilt
 
180 degrees from the actual adjustment knobs for each movement are locking knobs, slightly smaller in diameter. Be sure to UNLOCK each before trying to adjust shift or tilt, and then snug it back down once you've arrived at a desired setting to keep it from any inadvertent movement. This is especially important for SHIFT, since if you apply it vertically, the weight of the front section of the lens can sometimes allow it to drop downward slowly, if it's left unlocked after you've adjusted it.
 
Home Position and Rotating the Lens as Needed
 
By default, whether you've decided to apply shift/tilt or have everything zero'ed out, there's still a basic position from which you can apply your tilts and shifts. Mount the lens on the camera when it's all correctly oriented to the default settings, and you'll see the name plate at the TOP of the lens, when it's mounted and secured to the camera. AT THIS POSITION, any tilt movements (with most of the TS-E lenses, anyway) will be tilting the lens *left or right;* the larger Tilt knob will be facing upward and any shifting at the same default setting will move the lens up and down. This means the direction of each is at 90 degrees from the other movement, which is NORMAL operation for Canon TS-E lenses.
 
You're not locked-in to this. The lens can rotate, without loosening it from the camera. The 2nd generation lenses (see below) have TWO rotation points. However, the one closest to the camera body is definitely the primary one. It'll allow you to rotate the lens up to 90 degrees left or right. Example: in the standard position, the Shift is up and down. Say you wanted to shift side-to-side, for whatever reason. Ninety degrees to the right (think the 3 o'clock position, with the camera aimed at a subject, and in horizontal orientation) is a small, projecting tab, just inside the camera grip when the lens is correctly mounted. Press this release tab toward the camera body, and virtually the entire lens can be rotated in 30-degree increments, to the left or right. Move it 90 degrees, and your Shift now moves side-to-side (the Tilt moved as well, now tilting upward or downward).
 
In most real-life situations, you can rotate via this rear-most tab and move the desired adjustment to where you want it; much of the time, realistically, you won't be applying shift and tilt simultaneously. So just rotate the lens so your Shift *or* Tilt is where you need it.
 
Rotating Using the Forward-mounted Control
 
About 1/2 inch or so in front of the little, 3 o'clock projecting metal tab is another, very similar tab. THIS ONE allows you to rotate JUST the front section of the lens, while the rear section stays put. The primary purpose here is if you needed to apply both shift and tilt, and needed to change the normally standard orientation where tilt and shift are at 90 degrees from each other. However, DON'T use this rotation point to simply rotate the front section, if all you want is to change the tilt orientation... if you only want to change the direction of tilt, use the rear tab and rotation point to arrange the tilt where you want. There's a technical reason for not reaching for this forward rotation point if you can avoid it.
 
As I said, first-generation Canon TS-E lenses didn't have this forward mounted rotation capability... there is only one way to temporarily unlock and rotate the older TS-E lenses. Here are the lenses... check the lens naming at the front of the lens to determine which one you have.
 
First-gen TS-E lenses:
 
2nd-gen (current) TS-E lenses:
 
Shooting with the Canon TS-E Lenses
 
Example 1: Correcting converging vertical lines with SHIFT. I'll assume the camera is tripod-mounted, although again, you can do this hand-held if you can endure the hassle.
 
a. Keep the Camera Level – This is the most important part of being able to correct for converging lines, regardless of the lens you're using. Any upward angling of the entire camera, to "get the whole subject in," is going to make it impossible to correct for convergence... this is why buildings shot with conventional wide-angle lenses look like they're falling backward. It's perfectly normal not to get the entire subject in the frame at this stage.
 
Here's a wide-angle example of a typical building, with the camera aimed upward. The vertical lines converge inward, making the subject look a bit like a pyramid, or like it's falling over backward.
 
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Lens Home Example Pointed Up

b. Aim the camera straight ahead, not tilted up. Obviously, you now can't see the entire subject, but that's the role of the Shift function. What you WILL notice is that now, with the camera level, the vertical sides of the subject are indeed parallel, and not tilting inward. This is your starting point!
 
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Lens Home Example Straight Ahead Level

c. Now, start shifting the lens upward, to include more of the subject.
 
Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Lens Home Example Shift Up 1

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Lens Home Example Shift Up 2

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Lens Home Example Shift Up 3

Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II Lens Home Example Shift Up 4

d. When the entire building (or cereal box, or whatever) is positioned where you want, lock the shift in-place, and begin shooting! You're done! Of course, if you move the camera, or go to a new subject, you'll likely need to use the Shift again to compose and align things as you want.
 
Example 2: Tilting to keep a subject sharp, as it recedes into the distance. Normally, this would require stopping-down to your minimum aperture, and hoping you have enough depth-of-field to cover you, front to back. TS-E lenses offer another alternative, and sometimes, you can even pull this off at the lens's widest aperture. Regardless, though, you'll find a lot less need to shoot at f/16, f/22 and so on!
 
a. Compose the scene as you desire, horizontal or vertical. We'll use a horizontal example here. b. **Focus on the NEAREST part of the subject or scene you want in sharp focus.** Of course, the background will be out of focus.
 
In this example, we've got a receding fence, drifting out of focus. Sharpest focus deliberately placed at nearest point we want in-focus; in this case, the first-generation TS-E 90mm f/2.8 lens was used wide-open, at f/2.8 throughout. No Tilt/Shift movements applied, yet.
 
Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Lens Fence Example No Tilt Nearest Focus

c. Now, start to tilt the lens so that the front section starts to move in a direction closer to parallel to the subject you want to keep sharp. In this case, that meant the tilt section was moved so that (viewed from above) the front of the lens now tilts to the left.
 
IMPORTANT: As you start to tilt the lens, you'll see two things. The farthest part of the subject (fence in this case) will become progressively sharper. However, the front portion you just focused upon in step a will begin to drift a bit out of focus. Here's the key element to using tilt – you want to tilt until the degree of DE-FOCUS you see, front to back, is essentially constant. In other words, as you tilt, nothing in the fence or whatever the subject is will appear tack-sharp. What you want is to get the tilting so that the entire subject, front-to-back, appears about the same degree out of focus (it won't be radically out, but obviously just not tack-sharp, even at the point you focused on a moment before). This is absolutely normal.
 
d. Once you get the tilt so the entire subject looks pretty much the same, in terms of the degree of out-of-focus you see, you've got the tilt close to right-on. NOW, RE-FOCUS THE LENS TO GET THAT FRONT POINT SHARP AGAIN. If the amount of tilt was correct, the entire subject will now appear sharp. Again, if you examine the picture immediately below, keep in mind this was taken at f/2.8 with a 90mm telephoto lens.
 
Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8 Lens  Fence Example After Tilt and Refocusing

A mistake many users make at first is tilting TOO MUCH, especially with relatively distant subjects. Do it in little increments, slowly, until you begin to get comfortable with the process. And, in general, the closer a subject is to the camera, the more you'll typically need to tilt the lens. This is something many users have to play with for a while, to get the hang of watching that entire scene/subject drift out of focus as they tilt, and stopping when the amount of de-focus is about the same, front to back. It's at that point, if done properly, that you've got the right amount of tilt dialed-in.
 
Thanks go out to Rudy Winston for providing this information. Images used in this article were provided by Mr Winston.
 
Read our Tilt-Shift lens reviews to find the right model for your needs:
 
Post Date: 12/21/2018 8:10:52 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Thursday, December 20, 2018
Eurasian magpies are common in many locations, but not where I live. Thus, they are more interesting to me than others. Especially interesting is that they are extremely intelligent (relative to animals in general). That these birds' loud calls can become annoying surely leads to local disinterest, but with their great colors and shape, it is hard to argue that magpies do not look amazing.
 
Magpies are not a subject I have set out to specifically target with a camera, but I will take advantage of incidental encounters. When one landed in a tree in front of me as I was chasing elk in Rocky Mountain National Park, I went into opportunistic mode. I had the right lens in hand and all I had to do was adjust the monopod height, direct the camera at the bird, focus on the eye and press the shutter release.
 
I of course pressed the shutter release many times in the short period of time the bird cooperated with me. Why did I select this particular image to share? Here are some reasons:
 
First, I like the head angle, turned slightly toward me with some sky reflecting in the eye to add life to the subject.
 
I also like the body angle. While the bird may be turned very slightly away and that is not usually my favorite angle, in this case, that angle allowed the iridescent feathers on the wing to show their colors prominently. The tail was angled downward enough to fit in the frame (that can be an issue when photographing magpies) and with a slight toward-the-camera angle, the iridescent tail feathers also showed their colors.
 
Aspects I like that were common to this set of images, in addition to the beauty of the magpie, include:
 
I was able to get to eye level with the bird (by quickly adjusting the monopod).
 
The background was very distant and became completely blurred with a close subject photographed at 600mm f/4. With all details in the background eliminated, the bird stands out prominently.
 
I also like that the lighting was very soft with a touch of rim lighting happening. Looking closely at the catchlight in the eye tells me this day was partly cloudy and that clouds were blocking the sun during this exposure.
 
Unless flying, birds are on something – a branch, sand, rock, water, etc. In this case, that something was a dead tree limb. That this particular limb did not distract from the bird and even had a little character was a positive aspect.
 
While Rocky Mountain National Park is an awesome location for elk photography, it offers much more. Including magpies.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
Post Date: 12/20/2018 11:33:50 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Sunday, December 16, 2018
When the landscape is attractive, incorporating it into your wildilfe photography is a great idea. The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens is my go-to lens for this scenario. The focal length range keeps both the animal and the background large in the frame and provides plenty of framing flexibility.
 
A partly cloudy day sometimes provides ideal lighting. This image was captured just before the shadow of a cloud reached the bull elk, leaving the surrounding background dark, helping the bull and its antlers stand out.
 
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
 
Camera and Lens Settings
158mm  f/9.0  1/1600s
ISO 1250
4787 x 7181px
Post Date: 12/16/2018 6:30:00 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Tuesday, December 11, 2018
The following information was provided by Datacolor; we are sharing it for the benefit of our readers. Color calibration is a vital part of the photographic process and we personally rely on Datacolor products (purchased online/retail) for our own display calibration needs.
 
From Datacolor:
 
The need to have a calibrated monitor is of paramount importance, but very often overlooked. Every photographer knows they should be calibrating their monitor, yet many still don’t bother with it, seeing it as a complex and time-consuming task that will hinder instead of help their workflow process.
 
You want to be able to trust your monitor, as it’s the window to your digital photography and the gateway allowing you to view the true image. However, this would not be the case if you have a non-calibrated monitor, as your colors might not look how you intended due to skin tones being off, crucial shadow detail being missed or whites not being as pure as they should or need to be.
 
Photography Workflow
 
Making monitor calibration a key part of your photography workflow eliminates factors such as tiredness, human error, and the lack of dependability you will have by solely relying on your eyes to adjust the monitor correctly.
 
You want all on-screen images to match the initial shot taken, and using a screen calibrator is crucial to this process. Datacolor’s Spyder5 will measure light and color that appears from your screen, and make corrections to ensure the colors and details of your image are displayed as accurately as possible.
 
Using Different Monitors
 
Every monitor displays colors differently. Just because your images look accurate on one monitor doesn’t necessarily mean they will be the same on another screen you use. As they are not built ready-calibrated, their colors will in fact shift over time. Not calibrating properly and using different monitors can lead you to wasting unnecessary time editing, with your images on screen not displaying the true colors or details of your photos.
 
Using a colorimeter to an industry color reference standard not only gives you refined color accuracy for better print matching, but will eliminate the guesswork out of image editing, helping you to save time and efficiently manage your workflow better.
 
Regular Calibration
 
Staying up to date with calibration is vital, as making a regular habit of calibrating your display on a monthly basis will give you confidence your edited images will always match your prints best as possible. Also determining optimal monitor brightness, calibration will keep your monitor fresh with the display’s output intensity and stops you from needlessly buying abundant amounts of ink and paper.
 
Without calibrating your monitor, you can’t fully trust the colors you see on-screen, which then leads you to make questionable editing decisions, and waste time, paper and ink on re-printing as the color on your images don’t appear right.
 
To ensure printed images are as close of a match as to what you see on screen, an accurate color calibrated screen is the best starting place.
 
Datacolor’s eBook
 
If you’re serious about photography, taking advantage of color management tools in your workflow to prepare your images will save you time, effort and money. Furthermore, if you’re planning to edit or view your images, using a reliable colorimeter to profile your monitor and calibrate any device can only help improve your process and photos.
 
To help photographers and videographers of all standards understand color management better, Datacolor has launched an extensive color management eBook, ‘Spyder5 eBook: Color management can be easy’. All six chapters are available for you to download here.
Post Date: 12/11/2018 9:13:28 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Friday, November 16, 2018
by Sean Setters
 
I've often heard the phrase, "The best camera is the one you have available when you need to take a picture." And of course, there's a lot of truth in that statement. When time is of the essence, and your ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) is not at hand, by default, the smartphone in your pocket is the best available tool to complete the task.
 
Since mid-September when Olivia Jane was born, my wife has snapped hundreds of pictures of our baby with her iPhone (an Apple iPhone 8, to be exact). And while many of those smartphone shots have been posted to social media, none of them have been deemed worthy of printing and physical display.
 
Of course, my wife isn't a photographer. But when my wife handed me her iPhone to capture Olivia Jane wearing a cute Halloween costume hat, I didn't feel much like a photographer either. The iPhone 8's 28mm full frame equivalent focal length did little to isolate the subject and the perspective wasn't very flattering for a close portrait. The lag shutter lag also proved to complicate the process of capturing fleeting expressions. My daughter would make a cute face and I'd quickly try to take the picture, but alas, I always seemed to miss it.
 
After several attempts to create a decent photo, I remembered that my Canon EOS 5D Mark III and a backpack full of prime lenses was one room away in the dining room. The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art was already mounted to the camera, and I figured it would work well in this particular situation. With the camera set to aperture priority mode at f/1.4, ISO 1600 and +1/3 exposure compensation, I framed the scene and snapped a few pictures (the resulting shutter speed was 1/320 sec.). After a quick check of the LCD, I felt vindicated for taking the time (about 30 seconds) to grab my "real" camera. But it wasn't until I really started looking at the images captured that I fully appreciated the difference that the right gear can make.
 
Here's the best image I captured with the iPhone (straight out of the camera, f/1.8, 1/15 sec, ISO 50):
 
Olivia Jane Halloween 2018 iPhone 8 SOOC

Of course, the smartphone shouldn't bear the complete burden for this substandard photo. It isn't well framed or well exposed (with a little effort, I'm sure I could figure out how to apply exposure compensation with the camera app). Being used to the 3:2 aspect ratio of Canon DSLR cameras, I'm not really fond of the iPhone's 4:3 aspect ratio. However, I wanted to see how close I could make the smartphone image look like the ILC-captured shot in post processing. After more editing than I care to admit to, this was the result:
 
Olivia Jane Halloween 2018 iPhone 8 Edited

Ignoring the less interesting facial expression, it's not a bad result necessarily, but it's still not as good as the DSLR image which required far less editing (highlights +2/shadows+14/saturation -4 in Adobe Camera Raw).
 
When it comes down to it, shooting with a smartphone left me feeling handicapped and a little annoyed. I know I could learn to be a better smartphone photographer, but the sheer physics of a very small sensor combined with minimal options for adjusting field of view will always leave me wishing I had a better imaging solution in my hands. The iPhone 8's sensor is 3.5 x 4.8mm, which is tiny compared to a full-frame camera's 24 x 36mm sensor.
 
Canon Full Frame APS C iPhone 8 Camera Sensor Comparison

Even at ISO 50, there's a huge difference in the image quality when compared to the 5D III image at ISO 1600 (with no noise reduction).
 
Olivia Jane Halloween 2018 iPhone vs 5D III

Even though the Apple iPhone (in all its iterations) is probably the most popular portrait camera produced of all time, you likely have a much better tool or set of tools (such as an ILC with various lenses) at your disposal to document your memories. If so, make sure those items are as convient to access as your phone, ensuring that you make the most of the imaging opportunities that abound in everyday life.
 
I realize I'm preaching to the choir here. If you're a regular site visitor, you probably aren't relying on your smartphone for much of your imaging needs. But even so, do you always have your DSLR/mirrorless ILC at hand when your child does something cute (or monumental) or when you're driving home and the sunset in your rearview mirror is overwhelming captivating? I hope so. But if not, it might be time to pack a small bag with your "real" camera, a backup battery and 2-3 lenses to have available on a consistent basis. Of course, keeping up with a camera bag won't be nearly as convenient as carrying a smartphone, but... the quality of the images captured will almost certainly be worth the extra effort.
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