Milky Way, Acadia National Park
One of my favorite subjects to photograph is the Milky Way. The required long exposures provide plenty of time to simply watch the spectacular sky show (unless I'm running two cameras), taking in the awesomeness, and the pictures captured are usually among my favorites. I was blessed with the opportunity to photograph the Milky Way from several top-notch locations this year, including during the Rocky Mountain National Park and Acadia National Park workshops. The image shared here was captured from the coast of Acadia NP.
Seldom can the reflection of the Milky Way be seen in an ocean as the water movement completely blurs everything during the required long exposure. However, tidal pools are often still and can make great reflectors (though not at high tide) for a variety of coastal photography needs including reflecting the night sky. Adding value to this particular tidal pool was the low surrounding rock with good character, adding jaggedness to the rock line and its reflection.
To photograph the night sky, I usually want a wide-angle lens with an f/2.8 or wider aperture available with sharp wide-open image quality. The Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens, with an EOS R behind it and a Really Right Stuff TVC-24L Mk2 Carbon Fiber Tripod and BH-40 Ball Head under it, met those needs superbly.
Photographing the Milky Way is easy and very addicting. This image was captured using the 2-second self-timer feature with settings of f/2.8, 15 seconds (longer exposures increase star trail length), and ISO 6400 (with a low amount of noise reduction applied). I opted to brighten the result a bit in post and brightened the foreground by an additional stop for a single-image HDR. Just after sunset, the sky still had some color in it and a slight saturation increase (+1 in DPP and +7 in PS) made those colors pop. Auto white balance was used. Increasing contrast via an S-curve adjustment always makes the Milky Way stand out.
As I was searching through the over-a-thousand images captured with the RF 24-70, selecting a few to share in the review, this one stood out as my favorite and thus I'm sharing it with you here.
Add the RF 24-70mm lens to the list of good night sky lenses.
Canon EOS R5 Focus Stacking at the Somesville Bridge and Selectmen's Building
In my Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 Setup Guide, I indicated that "Focus bracketing" and "Number of bracketed shots" were included on the My Menu tab 2. The R5 is my first daily-use camera to have this feature (one of the first Canon EOS cameras to get it), and I've been anxious to put this feature to use in the field. Remembering that the feature is now a couple of button presses away is the first in-the-field challenge.
The Mount Desert Island Historical Society beautifully maintains the Somesville Bridge, Selectmen's Building, and the surrounding grounds. This includes planter boxes that always hold attractive flowering plant arrangements in the fall. These planters beg to be included in the frame, but including the plants, the bridge, and the building in the same frame requires extreme depth of field for all details to be sharp. Extreme depth of field generally requires a very narrow aperture, and a very narrow aperture generally results in a diffraction-softened image.
Focus bracketing solves this problem.
For this picture, the focal length that best composed the scene was first selected, and the Really Right Stuff TVC-24L Mk2 Tripod with an RRS BH-40 Ball Head was moved into a somewhat awkward position to lock the composition down. ISO 100 was selected for the least noise, f/11 was selected to gain a significant depth of field for each image (f/8 would have been a good alternative in hindsight), and the shutter speed, 1/10 sec., was selected for the final exposure brightness, just bright enough to cause minor overexposed highlights on the bridge (blinking during image review). The R5's "Focus bracketing" was enabled and the "Number of bracketed shots" was set to 15.
With the lens in AF mode, the focus spot was placed over the closest subject, the ornamental cabbage flower. When the shutter release was pressed using the 2-second self-timer mode, the camera took a series of images. While I selected 15 bracketed shots in the menu, the camera knew that only four were required for this scenario.
In Canon Digital Photo Professional (DPP), the four RAW images were selected, and the Tools > Depth Compositing > Start depth compositing tool menu option was selected. The default settings were used to output a 16-bit TIFF file that only required minor adjustments unrelated to focus.
My wife thinks the cabbage is too big relative to the background elements, but moving into the street to capture a more distant view was not a good idea from a safety perspective,
and that perspective would have resulted in sidewalk and other less attractive elements being included in the frame.
Harder to argue against is that the flowers provide lots of color in the frame.
Regardless, hopefully the ease of creating a focus bracketed image with the Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 is illuminated.
When the Sun Rises Below You, Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park
When you have to look down to see the sun rising, you know you are in a great location, and Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park is such a location. This particular morning greeted our group with extraordinary sky color – this image is practically right out of the camera.
Telephoto lenses are excellent choices for filling the frame with the color of a sunrise or sunset.
The Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens was the choice for this morning.
It's a superb lens.
At least that is the lens I originally thought I captured this image with.
I later realized that the EXIF indicated the Canon RF 24-70mm F2.8 L IS USM Lens was the lens responsible for this image.
The two lenses are interchangeable at this focal length.