Having just returned from another photo-successful safari to Africa, where I photographed the handsome lion that opens this article, I thought I’d put together some thoughts on how you can make a photo safari a photo success. After all, a photo safari to Africa is an once-in-a-lifetime experience for many travelers; so coming home with a selection of great photographs that tell the story of the amazing adventure is a top priority – in addition to having fun!
The importance of well-mixed audio in a video project can’t be overstated. Dialogue, ambient noise, sound effects, and music all need to be mixed together properly to enhance the viewer’s experience. Here are 5 basic audio mixing techniques for editing video.
Venerable Photography Media Brand to Focus on Website After Ending Print Edition
May 22, 2018 – Shutterbug is moving forward as a web-only publication (Shutterbug.com) after ending its print magazine after 45 years, Shutterbug Editor-in-Chief Dan Havlik announced today.
“Shutterbug magazine had a great run, but the media landscape has changed dramatically in the last 4+ decades, and we felt now was the time for Shutterbug to become a dynamic, web-only publication,” Havlik said. “Shutterbug.com has grown dramatically in recent years with record traffic and expanded reach to photographers around the world. We can now dedicate all our resources to further growing our online presence and expanding our video, social media, mobile and e-commerce channels.”
In the last four years since Havlik joined Shutterbug as editor-in-chief, Shutterbug.com’s traffic has increased over 700%. Shutterbug.com was also recently named one of the top five best photography news sites by Feedspot. Meanwhile, Shutterbug’s social media channels have grown exponentially in recent years, with nearly one million followers on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Flipboard, Twitter and other social sites combined.
“The web, social media and video are simply the best ways for Shutterbug to reach the growing audience of photographers out there, including everyone who is graduating up from shooting with their smart phones and wants to learn how to capture photos with real cameras, to photo enthusiasts and seasoned pros who want to read the latest news and reviews of the hottest photo gear. Shutterbug.com offers it all.”
Along with continuing to post the best photography how-tos, video tutorials, feature stories and camera gear reviews on the web, Shutterbug.com will expand its popular photo galleries where readers share and comment on their images. Shutterbug.com will also open an online photography store where visitors can buy cameras, lenses, software, and photo accessories, along with Shutterbug-branded merchandise such as t-shirts and camera bags.
Shutterbug is owned by AVTech Media Americas Inc., a division of the UK-based AVTech Media Ltd (UK) company.
Skylum also hires Alex Savsunenko, former CEO of Let’s Enhance, to lead AI-based photo technologies to the next level.
May 22, 2018 — Bellevue, WA — Today, Skylum Software announced the formation of a new research and development division dedicated to the advancement of artificial intelligence technologies in image processing. The Skylum AI Lab leverages the company’s prior work developing smart filters in its award-winning Luminar software, as well as technology from its “sister company” Photolemur, which was founded in 2016 by Dima Sytnik and Alex Tsepko, co-founder and CEO of Skylum respectively.
“Clearly, AI can simplify our lives. By using AI-based technologies in our products, our customers save time vs. manual editing, and can often get better results,” said Alex Tsepko, CEO at Skylum. “Our neural networks are being trained on millions of images taken by cameras from Fujifilm, Sony, Olympus, Nikon, Canon and many others, which means outstanding results for all photographers, regardless of what style they shoot and what gear they are using.” To spearhead the new Skylum AI Lab, the company has hired Alex Savsunenko, former CEO of Let’s Enhance, a leader in machine learning for visual content. Savsunenko will manage all research and development for technologies based on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and neural networks. Promising results will ultimately be implemented in Skylum products and solutions for image and video enhancement, with the aim to help users make their workflow faster, smarter and more efficient.
Currently, the Skylum AI Lab is testing over a dozen new solutions, including:
Image upscaling: uses deep convolutional neural networks to improve low-resolution images and scale them up for superior viewing and printing.
Tagging: generates tags that describe the image and its objects based on image recognition.
Segmentation: smart recognition of image areas that can be automatically enhanced using different filters and corrections based on the type of object.
Automatic enhancement: applies smart image corrections to photos based on a variety of issues
To further reinforce its AI prowess, Skylum has also joined forces with Photolemur, creator of the world's first fully automatic photo enhancement solution. Photolemur app has been sold for several years, with hundreds of thousands of customers worldwide. It enhances images utilizing artificial intelligence without the need to use any manual controls. Development will continue on Photolemur, with the next evolution of the app likely to be a cloud solution that helps high-volume users enhance images as batch process.
For those shopping for their first non-smartphone camera, a backup camera for a current kit or simply upgrading from a lower level/previous generation Rebel-series camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T7i/800D and EOS M50 are likely to be considered.
Today, we're going to look closely at these two cameras to see which might be the better option for addition to your kit.
Canon EOS Rebel T7i/800D and EOS M50 Shared Primary Features:
Resolution: 24 MP / 6000 x 4000 pixels
Crop Ratio: 1.6x
Dual Pixel CMOS AF, up to 1080p 59.94 fps
Shutter Speed: 30 - 1/4000 sec.
Auto White Balance with Ambience priority / White priority
Similar Price (at US authorized retailers, excluding rebates)
Primary Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel T7i/800D:
Native compatibility with EF, EF-S, TS-E & MP-E lenses
More Sensitive AF: down to EV -3 vs. EV -2
Larger Buffer: Up to 27 RAW/unlimited JPEG vs. 10/33
Wider Exposure Compensation Range: +/-5 EV vs. +/-3 EV
Large Auto ISO Range: 100 - 25600 vs. 100 - 6400
Higher Power Flash: 13.1 GN vs. 5
Longer Battery Life: 820 shots vs. 235 (370 in Eco Mode)
Compatible with E3-type remotes, smartphones/tablets and BR-E1 (Bluetooth) vs. BR-E1 and smartphones/tablets only
Primary Advantages of the Canon EOS M50:
Native compatibility with EF-M lenses, compatible with EF, EF-S, TS-E & MP-E lenses via adapter
Newer Processor: DIGIC 8 vs. DIGIC 7
More AF Points: 143 vs. 45
Faster Burst Rate: Approx 10.0 fps RAW (7.4 with Servo AF) vs. 6
Better Face Detection: Eye AF vs. Face AF
Wider Metering Range: EV 0 – 20 vs. EV 1 – 20
Higher Resolution Video: 4K UHD vs. FHD 1080p
Smaller: 4.6 x 3.5 x 2.3" (116.3 x 88.1 x 58.7mm) vs. 5.16 x 3.93 x 3.00" (131.0 x 99.9 x 76.2mm)
Lighter: 13.7 oz (387g) vs. 18.77 oz (532g)
Who should opt for the Canon EOS Rebel T7i/800D?
If you are a current Rebel-series owner but want the benefits of a Dual Pixel CMOS sensor, and the size and weight of your current kit is a non-issue, then the EOS Rebel T7i/800D will offer a seamless transition with no adapters required to use your current set of lenses and a familiar button/control layout that feels right at home in your hands.
With no adapter required for use with EF, EF-S, TS-E & MP-E lenses, there's one less vital piece of gear to be forgotten or malfunction.
Just remember your fully charged battery and a memory card, throw your lenses in a bag and you're good to go (although we do recommend packing other items as well).
Note that the T7i has an optical viewfinder (OVF) while the EOS M5 has an electronic viewfinder (EVF), and both show up as advantages for their respective cameras.
Depending on what you're shooting and what your preferences are, either one may be more beneficial than the other.
Check out our OVF vs. EVF comparison here.
If you're interested in exploring off-camera lighting, the Rebel T7i offers an integrated Speedlite transmitter that will allow you to control off-camera Canon Speedlites remotely.
To get the same functionality with the EOS M50, you would need a master flash (600EX II-RT / 430EX III-RT) or ST-E3-RT / ST-E2 transmitter, reducing the mirrorless camera's size/weight benefits.
The Rebel T7i's more sensitive AF system is able to lock on in lower light, and its battery will keep you shooting long after the EOS M50's battery has been exhausted.
Who should opt for the Canon EOS M50?
The EOS M50 represents a huge step up in image quality for those coming directly from a smartphone, and its size and weight will provide an easier transition into ILC (Interchangeable Lens Camera) photography compared to a traditional DSLR body.
The EOS M50 will also be a great choice for current Canon DSLR owners who want a compact option that can also serve as a backup camera in a pinch (with the adapter) or otherwise want a reduced load for vacations, hiking or business trips, especially when one of Canon's EF-M series lenses will fit the bill perfectly.
Want to capture 4K video? The M50 has you covered (albeit without the benefits of Dual Pixel CMOS AF).
If 1080p output is your goal, you can easily downsample 4K video (with very slight cropping on the right and left sides), crop the frame to provide a tighter angle of view, or even pan your FHD video within the confines of the 4K captured frame.
You can also mimic zooming in and out of a scene to add even more production value to your 1080p movies.
When not utilizing 4K capture, the M50 offers similar benefits as the Rebel T7i, including DPAF subject tracking.
On top of the size and weight advantages of an M-series kit, the M50's faster burst rate in single shot mode can help you capture the peak action as long as AF tracking is not needed for the specific situation.
And if you prefer the benefits of an EVF (Electronic Viewfinder), then the M5 becomes the easy choice.
While the EOS M50 is a moderately capable camera with the size and weight benefits a mirrorless system brings, Canon's current [limited] EF-M lens selection may not provide all the flexibility desired in an ILC kit.
And while Canon's complete EF/EF-S/TS-E/MP-E lenses can be used with an adapter, using lenses designed for DSLRs on a mirrorless camera negates much of its most alluring quality, its reduced size and weight.
On the other hand, the EOS Rebel T7i/800D, with its native ability to mount Canon's full range of EF, EF-S, TS-E and MP-E lenses, along with its higher battery life and built-in Speedlite transmitter, represents a simpler and more versatile platform on which to build a photography kit.
For those general purpose photography situations where a single, variable aperture zoom lens will suffice, the EOS M50 paired with an EF-M zoom lens can be a very convient option that will not be a burden to carry throughout the day.
Note that as Canon releases more EF-M lenses, the versatility of an M-series kit increases along with the M50's appeal.
Back in September 2015, Canon announced that it was developing a 120 megapixel CMOS sensor. Now, you can buy the APS-H-sized sensor (in RGB or Monochrome variants) from authorized distributor Phase 1 Technology Corp.
Phase 1 doesn't actually list the sensor's price on their product page, but from what we've been told, it'll set you back a cool $12,000.00.
TOKYO - Nikon Corporation (Nikon) is pleased to announce that the Nikon D850 digital SLR camera has received the Camera GP (Grand Prix) 2018 "Readers Award" and "Editors Award."
The Camera GP awards focus primarily on cameras and lenses, and are sponsored by the Camera Journal Press Club (CJPC/Japan), which was established in September 1963, and is comprised of editors from 10 print and online camera and photography magazines (as of April 2018). Recipients of the Camera GP 2018 awards were selected from products that were released between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018.
The D850 was the winner of the "Readers Award," the recipient of which is selected by general users through online voting (voting period: March 23 to April 12, 2018). Additionally, the D850 was selected by CJPC members as a winner of the "Editors Award," evaluated based on popularity, topicality, and innovation, from all cameras and imaging devices with the exception of those chosen as Camera and Lens of the Year.
The D850 has won numerous imaging and design-related awards across the globe since its release in September 2017. Among them are the Best DSLR Professional award at the TIPA World Awards 2018, and an iF Product Design Award 2018.
D850 Primary Features
Equipped with backside-illumination Nikon FX-format CMOS sensor, delivering superb 45-megapixel images at ISO 64-25600 (expandable to ISO 32-102400 equivalent)
High-speed continuous shooting at approximately 7 fps (the rate increases to approximately 9 fps when the MB-D18 Multi-Power Battery Pack is used)
Silent photography eliminates the sound of shutter release and mechanical vibrations with capture of 45-MP images
Supports recording of full-frame, FX-based movie format 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) movies
Interval-timer shooting supports the creation of 8K time-lapse videos
Reasons for D850 selection (Comments from the Committee)
The D850 is an almost perfect digital SLR camera that utilizes an optical viewfinder. Equipped with a quick-return mirror, it is an outstanding camera that will leave its mark on history. Despite its incredibly high pixel count of 45.7 megapixels, it supports top level high-speed and high-sensitivity performance. In addition to fast and accurate focusing achieved with the same AF system built into the flagship model, the camera is capable of high-speed continuous shooting at approximately 7 fps with the body alone, and up to approximately 9 fps when the MB-D18 Multi-Power Battery Pack is used with an EN-EL18b or EN-EL18a Rechargeable Li-ion Battery. It offers superior image quality from low to high sensitivities, and its auto white balance is very accurate. The D850 is outstanding not just in one aspect — it offers excellent all-round balance and demonstrates high versatility for all types of photography, including press, sports, portraits, railway, and landscapes. Another attractive feature is the smooth and intuitive operational feel enabled by its fine craftsmanship. The D850's functions and flexibility as an SLR have been polished to maximize the advantages of this type of camera. With the D850, Nikon has created the SLR of photo enthusiasts' dreams.
While some fences can be great photo subjects themselves, they often contain another photo subject, including captive wildlife and those participating in sporting events (and sometimes subjects that the paparazzi are chasing).
I'm going to primarily focus on the wildlife photography aspects of fencing today, but the same tips are applicable to many through-the-fence situations.
For wildlife, not everyone can afford a safari to Africa and not everyone can take enough time off of work to track down more-locally-occurring wildlife such as a wild mountain lion.
Zoos make these great animals readily available for observation and enjoyment.
Photographing the animals in zoos, however, remains a challenge and the biggest challenge is usually the fence.
A key to a great zoo animal photo is avoiding any signs of the fence, including a patterned background blur, in the photo.
To that goal, here is a list of photography tips relevant to fences.
The most important tip: move the lens as close to the fence as possible. Doing so aids immensely in the foreground fence becoming blurred out recognition.
Getting against a fence, at least at some exhibits, may require attendance at a special program designed for this access (ZooAmerica's Photography Tour in this case), but others are readily approachable.
Removing the lens hood permits a closer-to-the-fence position, but caution is required to avoid scratching the lens.
A UV/Clear Protective Filter can help minimize the risk of damage to your lens' front element.
The second most important tip: use a wide aperture, allowing the shallow depth of field to obscure the obstruction, including both the foreground and background fence.
Similarly, use a long focal length to enlarge the blurred obstruction, making it less obvious.
Though an ultra-wide angle lens may cause a background fence to be so small that it is barely visible in the frame, wide angles are more likely to leave even a practically-against-the-front-element fence very recognizable.
So, use a long telephoto lens to blur both the foreground and background fences away.
Dark-colored fences (dark colors absorb more light than bright ones), remain more obscured in an image than bright silver fences (very common). If you have a choice, go for dark.
Avoid brightly-lit fences. For the same reason I prefer dark fences, I prefer shaded ones. If you have a choice, opt for fences in the shade (including in the background). If the sun is behind you, the opportunity to create your own shade exists and the lens with your hand around it may be all that is needed to accomplish this.
Attempt to align your subject inside the fence so that there is a natural background, avoiding the background fence that most fenced enclosures have.
This may mean shooting from a low position to look over the background fence or aligning the subject with flora (as seen here).
Using a long focal length lens provides a narrow angle of view that makes smaller background scenes easier to work with.
Shoot from over the fence. While the looking-down angle is not often my favorite for wildlife, it may be the best available option.
Find the widest opening available in the fence and center the lens in it. Finding a hole to shoot through (do not create one unless you own the fence) can be a great find.
Take advantage of existing fence damage to gain a larger portal for photography purposes.
Quality fencing likely has all-identical-sized openings and this tip will not be helpful in that scenario.
Use the fence as a steadying aid. While the fence may detract from your image quality by some amount, if the subject is stationary enough, you might be able to shoot braced against the fence with longer shutter speeds than otherwise possible,
enabling lower ISO settings that improve image quality through lower noise levels.
Avoid fence shadows falling on your subject and in your backgrounds. This may require shooting at a specific time of the day or even a certain time of the year. Cloudy skies are often optimal for this reason.
Lighting, subject pose, the background and all of the other important requirements for a good image are still in place. Don't lose sight of what makes a good image just because a fence is obscuring your view and/or the subject is unusual for you.
Low contrast and low saturation are likely image quality issues with photos captured through a fence. Consider adding these adjustments during post processing.
A last resort for removing fencing in the frame is via photo editing software with Photoshop's
healing brush tool being especially helpful if individual fence wires remain visible.
If you can't obscure the fence, your option may only be to capture a memory photo.
Memories are very important too, so capture the memory and move on.
Have any photography-through-a-fence tips? Please share them with us!
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
SuperStore & Offices
B&H will be closed starting at 2pm Fri May 18. We will reopen at 9am Tue May 22.
Online ordering will be unavailable from 8pm Fri May 18 until 9:30pm Mon May 21.
Orders placed before 12 pm Fri May 18 will be processed prior to the holiday closing.
Orders placed after this time will be processed when we reopen at 9am on Tue May 22.
Orders placed up to 1 hour before store closing time will be available for same-day pickup until store closing time. Orders placed within 1 hour of store closing, or while the store is closed, will be available for pickup 45 minutes after the store reopens.
A single day event simply isn’t enough to bring together everything Adorama has to offer. Starting with our important brand partners we aim to provide an even larger community with the education, inspiration and tools they need to create anything they imagine.
This year Adorama will provide a week of designed-to-share experiences, workshops and panels designed to bring the industry’s best talent directly to our customers. We aim to inspire creators, encourage collaboration and spark new ideas. This week will culminate with a completely overhauled version of our annual street fair.
Full days will be dedicated to photography, professional video, professional audio and drones. These custom experiences provide not only education, but also the opportunity to try new gear in real-life, on-location scenarios.
Learn from Experts – Choose from more than 40 sessions, workshops and panel discussions.
Meet Your Peers – Have some fun and make connections with other creators at receptions and workshops.
Brand Partners – Try the latest gear and technology from our top brands.
Drone Photo & Video
Night Sky Photography
Building a Social Community
Kids' Fashion Portraits
Experiences – Full days will be dedicated to photography, professional video, professional audio and drones. These custom experiences provide not only education, but also the opportunity to try new gear in real-life, on-location scenarios.
Aerial Photo & Video
A Day at the Races (Belmont Track)
Sunset Skyline Photography
Adorama Expo – The Adorama Expo will focus on creating hands-on opportunities for customers to try equipment in real-life situations. Join us at the Metropolitan Pavilion June 29 & July 1.
For more information, including a list of presenters and a shedule of events, see here.
A four-day imaging event exploring inspiration, techniques and equipment essential to capturing the great outdoors, the annual OPTIC conference and trade show features the world's top outdoor photographers.
Presented by B&H and Lindblad Expeditions as well as top imaging companies, OPTIC 2018 will bring your passion for travel and photography to the next level of excitement and engagement.
To find out more about the OPTIC 2018 Event and see a schedule of speakers, click here
While attending the NASA Insight rocket launch recently, we have our first opportunity to set up a remote camera to photograph the nighttime launch. Norm goes over his gear used for his setup and the excitement of leaving that gear so close to a rocket in hopes to capturing a photo of the blast off!
Shot and edited by Norman Chan. Thanks to Trace Dominguez from Seeker for helping with filming!
I am gauging interest in additional photography workshops / tours / expeditions / experiences ("workshop" hereafter) and if you are interested in joining me on such,
I would be grateful for some feedback in the form of answers to a short survey.
It is almost exactly a year since Canon relaunched its brand with the aim of making it “accessible” to a wider group of customers. The shift was predicated on a realisation that the organisation needed to move from being product-centric to more customer-centric, focusing more on how its cameras and printers meet consumers’ needs rather than shouting about the latest specs.
The most obvious sign of this was a TV ad, ‘Live for the story’ created by VCCP, that positioned Canon as a storytelling brand. That was followed up by work with influencers such as Zoe Kravitz to tap into particular genres of photography, including family, travel and food.
“The underlying premise was how do we help you tell the best story of your life,” explains Lee Bonniface, marketing director at Canon Europe. “It’s an integration of the brand owning the space of storytelling and then the integration of our products and services to allow customer to be able to tell their story in the best way possible.
“It’s a higher order – it’s around imaging, not camera and it’s around video and reliving those stories.”
The ideal height to photograph wildlife, especially birds not flying (perched, standing, walking, swimming, etc.) is most often when the camera is level (pitch) and the bird is properly framed.
Basically, this is the same level as the subject.
If the bird is on the ground and the ground is flat and void of visual obstructions, getting flat on the ground is a great option and a ground pod is a great support for this position.
If the bird is in or on the water, getting to their level immediately becomes more complicated.
The embankments of most water bodies are raised at least somewhat over the water and that makes it hard to get down to bird-level from outside of the water.
If possible, and you are OK with the risks involved, getting in the water can be a great way to get down to close to the ideal level.
Still, the comfortable/safe height of the camera (and likely the tripod head) above the water usually leaves the bird at a still-lower elevation.
The next option is to get farther away.
If the bird is near you, the camera will be angled downward more than if the bird is farther away.
Of course, moving farther away means the bird is smaller in the frame.
That is, unless a longer focal length is used.
Very long focal lengths are ideal for bird photography for a couple of reasons.
The obvious reason is that they make the bird appear large in the frame from a less-frightening (mattering only to the bird usually) distance.
The other reason coincides with one of the reasons for shooting from a level: to strongly blur the background.
Long focal lengths magnify the background blur, giving images a more-strongly blurred background that makes the subject stand out.
Aside from the perspective making the bird look good, shooting from a lower position pushes background farther into the distance, farther outside of the depth of field and making your long focal length lens blur powers even more magical.
For this image capture, I was wearing chest waders and a Gore-Tex coat and sitting in the water up to my elbows (where the Gore-Tex jacket became an important part of the wardrobe).
The temperature was in the 40s F (single digits C) on this day, so I had many layers on in addition.
The tripod was positioned so that the apex was just above the water line and I was bent over to reach the viewfinder.
Note that I'm not saying that a low shooting position is comfortable, especially after over 4 hours of not moving.
But, what is comfort when making a good image is at stake?!
Being as low as I could go and using a long focal length (840mm) on a full frame body provided a great background blur right out of the camera.
Of course, it is hard to take a bad picture of a subject as beautiful as a wood duck.
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.
Responding to popular demand, the SIGMA Corporation is pleased to announce that another lens is compatible with the Rear Filter Holder FHR-11.
The chargeable installation service of the Rear Filter Holder FHR-11 for the SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art for Canon starts from May, 2018.
The Rear Filter Holder FHR-11 is an accessory exclusively designed for the SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art (for Canon) and the SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art (for Canon). It enables photographers to use a sheet filter on the lens. By attaching the Rear Filter Holder FHR-11 to the rear of the lens, it allows more freedom for photographic expression.
Any damage or faults caused by attaching the filter holder on your own will not be covered by the warranty.
This product is exclusive to the SIGMA 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art 018 for Canon and the SIGMA 14mm F1.8 DG HSM | Art 017 for Canon. Please do not attempt to attach it to any other lenses or mounts. There is a risk that it may cause damage to the lenses and cameras.
Please be careful to avoid scratches to the lens or the electrical contacts when attaching the filter holder.
Please ensure not to drop the small fixing screws inside the lens.
Please ensure you remove the filter after shooting as it could scratch the rear element of the lens.
Ronkonkoma, NY – May 11, 2018 – Sigma Corporation of America, a leading still photo and cinema lens, camera, flash and accessory manufacturer, today announced that its 70mm F2.8 DG MACRO Art, the first prime macro lens to be adorned with the Art badge, will be available in Canon mount in the end of May for $569.00 USD through authorized US retailers. The Sigma mount model is expected to ship in June. The release of the Sony E-Mount version will be announced later.
The First Macro Lens in the Sigma Global Vision Art Line
Elevating the legendary Sigma 70mm F2.8 EX DG to the Art line, the brand new Sigma 70mm F2.8 DG MACRO Art prioritizes optical performance that defines the Sigma Art line, delivering stunning resolution and incredible clarity, while at the same time offering extremely smooth autofocus performance for a weightier, high-performance lens.
To achieve optimal results at every shooting distance, the lens features an extending, floating, two-group focus mechanism, which minimizes aberration at all focal lengths. In addition, the lens’ optical elements design increases resolution at close shooting distances, allowing for a razor-sharp in-focus area contrasted with a bokeh area free of color streaking.
Other feature highlights include focus-by-wire system featuring newly developed coreless DC motor for comfortable and precise focusing typically required for macro photography; compatibility of the Canon mount lens with the Canon Lens Aberration Correction function; and compatibility with Sigma Electronic Flash Macro EM-140 DG and Sigma Teleconverters.
Making the long backstory short, my wife gave my father-in-law a Jack-in-the-pulpit seed for Christmas.
My in-laws planted it in the spring and it grew, only to be dug out by an animal.
It was replanted and the next year it was crushed by a bear.
After installing three different types of fencing around the vulnerable plant, their Jack bloomed splendidly this year.
That led to the phone call from my mother-in-law, suggesting that I might have interest in photographing the plant.
I was nearing the completion of a review and really wanted stay heads-down until it was finished.
But, I felt the strong encouraging and started asking questions and for location pics via text.
Flowers do not often stay at their peak appearance very long (and who knew what might try to destroy this plant overnight).
With the initial assessment leaning favorably to decent image potential, I went over with a MindShift Gear BackLight 26L full of gear, including a multi-off-camera flash setup and reflectors.
One of the challenges I faced was the background.
Winter seemed to hang on forever this year and only a few days earlier a warm spell finally and very quickly accelerated leaf growth.
Still, the available leaves, able to add a green color, were minimal and mostly brown was the surrounding forest and ground color, with dead leaves on the ground and bare tree trunks primarily visible.
My tongue-in-cheek suggestion that we cut the flower was not found humorous.
Another challenge was the lighting.
Good lighting is always key to a good picture.
As the forest canopy had barely started growing leaves, I expected mottled direct sunlight to be a problem.
The flashes and reflectors (able to provide shade as well as reflected light) were my insurance, ensuring that I could create my own lighting if necessary.
Also, waiting until the sun set would give me full shade and completely even lighting.
As the background did not compare in attractiveness to the plant, blurring the background away was going to be a high priority and that meant long focal lengths and wide apertures.
I contemplated taking the Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens with a 25mm extension tube, but the sloping ground was not going to give me optimal positioning from the subject distance that focal length would have required.
I needed a shorter telephoto lens and opted to take the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro
and the Canon TS-E 135mm f/4L Tilt-Shift Macro lenses with me.
While the macro lens may be an obvious good choice, the tilt-shift lens has a 0.5x maximum magnification and with a narrow aperture desired, I thought the movements feature could be useful.
That turned out to be a good choice as in the end, I only used the tilt-shift lens option.
Upon arriving on the scene, I found the sunlight to be mostly diffused on the plant with some of the background being touched by direct sunlight.
Shade is typically cool in color temperature and late day sunlight is usually warm.
That means a properly white balanced subject in the shade results in the sunlit background turning especially warm and that scenario often works well.
The composition was a bit of a challenge.
I wanted to see the full flower without obstruction and the large leaves growing on two sides immediately limited the available angles.
I also wanted to see the curved top of the jack in the frame and from the side or front of course.
Upon working the scene, I saw that, with a low/level camera position, a pair of background trees were framing the Jack and keeping some border around those trunks framed the trees.
The inside of the pulpit (the spathe) and the Jack (spadix) of this particular Jack-in-the-pulpit are very bright in relation to everything else in the frame.
Thus, my exposure goal was to make just a tiny part of the Jack blinking overexposed in the image review.
I wanted the background to be as blurred as possible, emphasizing the Jack-in-the-pulpit in the image and that meant using the wide open f/4 aperture for this lens.
I was using a tripod and wind was not an issue, so ISO 100 was selected for the lowest noise levels with the camera's mirror lockup and the self-timer mode being used.
The shutter speed was adjusted until that small portion of the Jack was blinking during review on the camera's LCD.
As I worked the scene, adjusting/refining the camera position, I captured some bracketed exposures in case I wanted to the background to be brighter in the final image.
In the end, I opted to use the original exposure for most of the image and dropped the Jack and pulpit by 1/3 stop to bring the brightest details down on the tone curve, slightly increasing contrast and bring a small amount of detail out on the nearly detail-void Jack.
Notice the tiny fly with red eyes sitting on the Jack?
It is difficult to see at this resolution (I'll share a larger version on my Flickr account).
Fortunately, I think he was only parking and not eating.
Flies are attracted to Jacks by smell and in turn do the pollinating.
He was an incidental subject that I didn't notice while photographing and he was only in a few frames.
I liked the additional point of interest and opted to not stamp him out during post processing.
For this image, I used the tilt-shift lens as a normal lens with the movements in their zero position.
But I did use movements for some images including this Jack-in-the-pulpit image.
As I was leaving, my mother-in-law mentioned "If they turn out well, I want to have a metal print made."
Phew, going to take the pics was definitely the right decision.
A larger version of this image is available on Flickr.