Category Archives: 18-55mm EFS IS

The San Diego Waterfront

It’s been a little more than a week since my last post.  My wife,  2 Cairn Terriers and I spent the Thanksgiving holiday at the Chula Vista RV Resort on San Diego Bay (if you have an RV I highly recommend staying there).  We had a wonderful time together, and I was able to do a little shooting!

In addition to the photography, I also need to mention a resource that photographers should note when in San Diego – Georges Camera & Video.  There are so few real camera stores around anymore that it’s a real treat to find one.  I love George’s Camera, it’s packed full of all things photography, and they have a friendly and very knowledgable staff.  I was able to find a Lowepro slinger bag that is working perfectly!  If you’re in the North Park area of San Diego, be sure to visit George’s Camera!

Back to the photography!   One of the things I’ve been wanting to do while in San Diego was to take a night/evening shot of the San Diego waterfront.  I’ve seen so many great shots by other photographers online, and have always wanted to try it for myself.

One of my challenges was finding a suitable location.  Although I’ve been to the Chula Vista and Coronado areas many times, I just couldn’t seem to find the right spot.  That is until my morning bike ride around the Bay.  The San Diego Bay Bike Trail goes right past the RV Resort and dumps you out near the Coronado Golf Course.  I continued to follow it around and ended up going under the Coronado Bridge and found Coronado Ferry Landing.

Coronado Ferry Landing was the perfect place for my night shot of the San Diego waterfront!  I was directly across the Bay from Seaport Village, the large hotels and convention center.  Another important consideration was that this area looked very safe for a guy walking around alone with camera gear.  I planned on using my Canon 60D on a tripod and there’s nothing stealthy about it.  Unfortunately, it’s large and can attract attention.

I actually made 2 visits to the Coronado Ferry Landing.  My 1st visit was just ok, meaning my images were not bad, but not exactly what I was working for.  The fog started to roll in early and gave the image below  a hazy, grainy look.  See for yourself:

Above – Canon 60D, RAW, Auto ISO (3200), 0.8 seconds, 50mm Canon F2.5 lens.

My 1st visit was not a complete waste of time, as I did learn a couple of things.  One of the things I learned was to do a better job of keeping an eye on the weather.  Fog can add some interest and mystery to an image, but I didn’t want it for this shot.  Another thing I learned was to pay attention to the settings on the camera!  I forgot to check the ISO, and didn’t notice until I was done, that it was set to Auto.  Sometimes that’s ok, but not this time.  I wanted to control the ISO setting, not let the camera decide.  I also didn’t do any bracketing of exposures with HDR in mind.

I waited a couple of days to try again.  This time the weather would cooperate and the fog would not be a factor.  I checked all of my cameras settings and configured it to shoot 3 bracketed exposures, +1 and -1 f-stop from the original exposure.  Here’s the result:

Above – Canon 60D, F8, 0.8 seconds, ISO 400, Canon 18-55mm EFS IS Lens.  This is an HDR image.

The shot above was taken with the sun just starting to set.  There was a beautiful twilight glow and the lights were just starting to come on.

This next image was taken when it was much darker and is a single RAW file, no HDR.

Above – Canon 60D, F16, 15 seconds, ISO 400, Canon 18-55 EFS IS Lens.  Singe RAW image.

I was very pleased with the image above.  This was an experiment with a longer, slower shutter speed.  I did this purposely to see if it would have a smoothing effect on the water.  I think it did, and as an added bonus, brought a little more detail to the sky by making the clouds visible.  They would have otherwise been lost in the darkness with a shorter exposure.

That’s it for now.  I have more photos to go through and edit.  Maybe it’s time to go into more detail on the HDR process I follow.  I’ll give it some thought and see what I can do.  In the meantime, go out there and experiment.  You’ll never know what can happen unless you try.  Who knows, maybe you’ll surprise yourself with a photo that really pops!

If you have some advice for evening/night shooting, don’t be bashful!  Share your thoughts and images and I’ll post them here!

Until next time – Happy Shooting!

 

My New (Old) Camera

I’m back!  It’s been a fantastic month-long vacation in the Eastern Sierra with my wonderful wife and 2 Cairn Terriers.  In addition to a lot of fishing, I was also able to use 4 of the 5 cameras I brought along, including my latest addition – the Sony F707.

Aggie and Cairn Terriers

Aggie, Mulligan & Sullivan – Sony NEX3

For a camera that’s at least 10 years old, the F707 has some pretty impressive features.  These include:

  • 5.24 megapixels
  • Zeiss F2.0 Lens
  • Swivel Body
  • Exposure Bracketing
  • Burst Mode
  • Center Weighted, Multi-Segment, Spot Metering
  • Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Scene Modes
  • Night Shot Mode
  • Viewfinder and LCD

I’m not going to attempt a full review in this post.  That’s already been done and you can read about it here:  DPReview, Sony F707

What I am going to do is talk about using this camera, and contrast it to something more modern.  I actually had a camera very similar to this one (the Sony F717) when it first came out, and loved using it.  In fact, that’s what started this little project.  I was looking through my files and came across photos I made with the old F717, and was reminded of just how good that camera was.  Don’t get the wrong message here, the photographer creates the image, the camera is just a tool.  What I mean is the quality of the photo includes color, contrast, noise, and sharpness.

Back to the vacation.  We were camped at the Silver Lake RV Resort on the June Lake Loop in the Eastern Sierra.  This was the perfect location for photography with easy access to beautiful lakes, streams, trails, wildlife, and one of my other favorites – Mono Lake.  I’ll talk more about Mono Lake and some of the other Eastern Sierra locations in future posts.

With all of the photo opportunities just outside my motorhome’s door, I got busy quickly.  Unless we decided to go fishing, I had at least 1 camera with me, usually 2.  The F707 was one of the 1st cameras to go around my neck.

The F707 has a nice feel to it.  Just enough of a handful to feel solid, but not so much as to be a pain to carry around.  The large barrel that houses the lens and some of the controls is also a good place to grip.  There was a little lag time from the moment I turned the camera on until it was ready to shoot.  The tiny LCD was also interesting, but not totally useless.  I did end up using the viewfinder more, and for an EVF (electronic viewfinder), it wasn’t bad, although it didn’t come close to the viewfinder in my Canon DSLR.

The camera that I spent most of my time comparing to the F707 is my Sony NEX3.  The NEX3 isn’t classified as a Point and Shoot (P&S) or a DSLR, but rather an Interchangeable Lens Compact (ILC).  My NEX3 is the 1st generation of ILC by Sony and has a small rectangular body, large articulating display, and 18-55mm lens.  The other most notable feature of the NEX3 is that it has an APS-C sensor, the same size as the one in my Canon DSLR.

During my unscientific in-the-field shoot out, I’d have to give the nod to my NEX3.  The NEX3 has 10 years of technological innovation in it’s favor.  While the startup time isn’t that great, the camera is faster overall, very versatile in different lighting situations, and it’s image quality is outstanding.  One of the things I really like about the NEX3 is how well it works in low light.  The feature that I use a lot while in Aperture Priority mode is Auto HDR.  I just love how it captures much more of the detail in lower light without blowing out highlights.

In the F707’s favor, I have to say that it’s image quality is outstanding considering it’s age.  Even with a smaller sensor, the images are clean, contrasty, and colorful.  And if you keep the ISO low (100), there’s no image noise to speak of.  In order to more fairly compare to the NEX3, I did use the Auto Bracketing function quite a bit.  Processing the images was as simple as importing into Photoshop and running them through the NIK HDR Efex Pro plugin.

There was one area that the F707 came out ahead in, and that’s battery life.  The F707 is a power miser compared to my NEX3.  I’d go through two NEX3 batteries to one F707 battery.  One of the nice features of the F707 is that it displays battery life in actual minutes instead of the little bar.  This would be a feature Sony should consider bringing back!

In closing, I’d like to say that it was fun to use the F707.  If it was all I had to use, I wouldn’t hesitate to take it everywhere with me and use it until it wouldn’t work anymore.  I have to admit, I get caught up in the hype and sales pitches for all of the new cameras.  It’s a vice, I just love cameras.  Having said that, I still hold to this statement – the best camera is the one you have with you!  Use what you have, and use it well.  Learn all of its functions and features so it is second nature and you won’t miss that once in a lifetime shot because you were fiddling with the dials.  You may be surprised at the quality of your images!

Here are some images from both cameras.  Let me know what you think.  Until next time, Happy Shooting!

Carson Peak, Sony F707

Carson Peak – Sony F707

Rush Creek, Sony F707

Rush Creek, Sony F707

Carson Peak, Sony NEX3

Carson Peak, Sony NEX3

Rush Creek, Sony NEX3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Fun at the Pier

It was hot again in the Inland Empire of Southern California.  My wife and I didn’t have any plans for the 3 day weekend, so decided to go down to the beach for a few hours.  Our target was the Seal Beach Pier, in Seal Beach!  This last-minute plan for a beach run would allow a little time for photography (we were having a bigger than normal surf) and dinner on the pier.

It was almost 5:00pm by the time we arrived, and the parking lot and beach were very crowded.  People were running around, playing in the sand and in the water.  There was even a professional photographer taking photos of a young family with the pier and ocean in the background.

The sun was still fairly high in the western sky, and pretty bright.  We were on the south side of the pier with the sun to our right.  Luckily some of the harsh bright light was blocked by the sea wall on the north side of the pier.

While I was standing just outside of the piers pilings watching the waves, my wife got busy and immediately started shooting.  She got right in the middle of the lines of pilings under the pier and was clicking away with her Canon S95 Point & Shoot.  Here are a couple of her photos:

I think she did a good job of showing some scale in this shot.  You can see the size of the wave crashing on shore compared to the 2 guys standing on the sand.  There’s also a sense of depth here with the pier’s pilings framing the scene, the guys on the beach in the middle and the ocean in the background.

This one is right in the middle of the action.  All things considered, it’s not bad for a point and shoot camera.  There’s a definite sense of depth here, with the larger pilings framing the shot, and continuing on all the way in the background.  There’s also some drama here with the wave crashing and coming right towards you!

This next image is one of mine.  I was using my Sony NEX3, with 18-55mm lens.  Some of the settings were:

  • Auto ISO
  • Aperture Priority
  • High Speed Continuous Shooting
  • File Format = .jpg

 The Sony NEX3 performed well!  I actually snapped more than 100 frames for this short trip.  At 7 frames per second it was easy to do.  Considering how many people were around, and how bright it was, I am quite pleased with this shot!

I’d like to leave you with one more image, this one is from my Motorola Atrix HD Smart Phone.  It was a spur of the moment idea to take a quick shot, and instantly post it online to Instagram.

So, what do you think?  Not bad for a phone camera!

That’s it for this post!  Until next time, Happy Shooting!