Category Archives: 70-200 F4L

That Camera Really Takes Good Pictures!

If I never hear that statement again, it’ll be too soon!  Not too long ago, I took some candid photos for my Company’s picnic.  Nothing special, just photos of people having fun on a very nice day.

In addition to all of the food, kid’s face painting, sack races, and more food, there was  a live band.  I thought it would be fun to capture a few photos of the band members.  Using my Canon 60D with 70-200 F4 L lens made it pretty easy.  The event was held in the middle of the day, at a park with plenty of sunshine, so the F4 lens was plenty fast enough!

After it was all said and done, I emailed one of the band members copies of some of the photos, and I know he appreciated them.  But along with his sincere “thanks a lot for the pictures”, came this line, “that camera really takes good pictures”.

What could I say?  I was really stunned for a couple of seconds!   Thoughts of saying something rude or at least a smart-ass comment came to mind, but I didn’t do it.  Other than being ignorant of the craft of photography, he is a nice guy and I know he probably thought he was giving me a compliment.  It was tough not to say something that I might later regret, after all, didn’t he realize that I’m an artist?!  I don’t just push the button and blast away (ok, you’ve got me on that one, sometimes I do)!

In the end, once I got over all of the things I could have said, and I just said “thanks, I’m glad that you liked them”.  And, my feeling weren’t really hurt, so no harm done.  And, while I may consider myself a photographic artist, I’m not a snob!

I’d love to have posted a couple of photos of the band so you could see what I was talking about, but since I don’t have permission to use them this way, I’ll leave you with something else….

This is from the South Tufa State Natural Reserve at Mono Lake.  I suppose that the same thing could be said about this image – “that camera really takes good pictures”.

The thing I find interesting about that statement is that the camera didn’t get up in the cold and dark, drive itself to the location and jump up on the tripod.  It didn’t compose the image, or push its shutter at just the right moment to capture the fleeting seconds between beautiful golden light and flat boring light.

The camera I used for this shot was my Canon 40D.  While I do like it a lot, it’s still just a tool.  As I’ve mentioned before (and probably will again) it’s a nice tool with lots of features that make creating images easier, but by itself, it’s still just a hunk of plastic and metal and wires.  The image is created with the eye of the artist!

It would be fun to see other opinions on this, so if you feel like leaving a comment on the subject, that would be great!  Until the next time – Happy Shooting!

 

Fun in the Backyard!

It finally seems like summer here.  It was in the middle to upper 90’s today, and will get warmer each day for the next few days.  After a good bike ride this morning, and getting some chores out of the way, I felt like taking some pictures!

Since it was so hot out, and our little dogs (Cairn Terriers – Mulligan and Sullivan) love to play in the hose water and sprinklers, I thought I’d take the camera out and see what I could do.  My wife would handle the hose and sprinkler duties, and I would man the camera.

I got my trusty Canon 60D out and put the 70-200 F4 L lens on it.  Light was not going to be problem today and F4 was plenty fast enough.  I wanted to stop the action today, so in addition to setting the camera on AI Servo focus (continuous auto focus),  I also set the ISO to 400 and opted to keep the photo format to jpg because I would be holding the shutter down and at 5.5 frames per second, the buffer would fill up fast.  This combination allowed very fast action stopping shutter speeds!

All in all it was a fun time in our backyard today!  Mulligan and Sullivan had a lot of fun, got in a little exercise, and beat the heat for a while. Here are some photos from this afternoon:

So you may be asking, what’s so special about these photos?  In short, nothing.  At least not to anyone but friends and family.  But the point of this post is for you to get out there and make the best of any situation (a hot, lazy day in this case) and make some memories.

We had a lot of fun today, and I want to be able to look back on this day using these photos and remember that!  Go ahead and substitute dogs for kids or grandkids or whatever.  Your camera doesn’t matter, making the memories is the most important thing, so get off your butt and get busy!

Until next time – Happy Shooting!

A Tale of 2 Cameras!

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had a chance to get some use out of my Canon 60D and 70-200mm Canon L lens, and my Sony NEX3.  Once again I’m very pleased with both.  Yes, each can have certain limitations, but when used with this in mind they work out quite well.

First up – my Canon 60D with 70-200mm L lens.  The 60D is a great combination of features, speed, and image quality and is my workhorse.  Both of the occasions were outdoors, and with plenty of mid-day sunlight.  My 70-200 L lens is the F4 model.  For it’s size it’s light, and it will lock on focus very quickly.  Compared to my Tamron 70-200 F2.8 the L lens is much easier to spend a couple of hours with.  If you haven’t used a larger lens like the Tamron 70-200 2.8 you’d be surprised at how the weight will begin to fatigue you after a while.  I needed the lighter weight of the Canon L lens to chase around the grand kids that day.

In this image you can see how nicely the background is blurred, but the subject is in focus.  This is an example of a shallow depth of field.  To get this effect I did a couple of things.  First, I used a large aperture (small number), in this case F4.  The further increase the effect, I stood back from my subject and zoomed in to 200mm.  The result is a very shallow depth of field, or in other words, a very limited area both in front of and behind the subject that is in focus.
I really like this shot.  You can see how much fun this kid is having.  And the background is in focus just enough to know that he’s on a bike path near the water.
Both of the images above were made with just the available light, no flash.  The sky was slightly overcast otherwise I would have had trouble with deep shadows across faces and very flat contrasty light.  I suppose that if I had carried my flash that day I could have tried to use it for fill, meaning to soften the shadows.  For the portrait, I instead looked for a nice evenly shaded spot and positioned my subject with her back to the brightest part of the sky (it was still somewhat overcast).  I was also careful to make sure there were no streaks of sunlight sneaking in to cause problems.  The only thing I would have used flash for here would have been to add a catch-light to the eyes.

I had an opportunity to go up to our local mountains the other day, and I needed to travel lite.  But, I also wanted good image quality.  My Sony NEX3 met those requirements nicely.  I’ve talked about it before, but I’ll mention a couple of features that I really like again.  Size and quality are first.  The physical size of the camera is perfect (at least for me) when I want to travel lite.  While it’s a little larger than most point and shoot camera’s, it’s small enough for me to take on extended hikes or when I just want something smaller than my larger DSLR.  Second is image quality.  The sensor in this camera is an APS-C, the same size as the one in my DSLR.  The quality of the images are great, and to my eye better than what I could get out of the smaller point and shoot camera.  Here are a few images from my quick trip to the mountains near Lake Arrowhead.

You can see in this photo that I was not making this image during the golden hour.  It was just about mid-day, with the sun almost straight overhead.  But I wanted to take a few pictures so I started looking around.  That’s when I noticed how the leaves of this little oak tree were glowing, back lit by that mid-day sunlight.  Such a contrast from the darker greens of the rest of the foliage in shade.  Just to have a little fun, I positioned myself so the sun would peek between the branches of an overhead pine tree.  I kicked the aperture to F16 to create the star burst.
Here is a closer look at the wonderfully back lit oak leaves.  They really pop against the blue sky background.
I liked this scene because of all of the texture, and 2 interesting groups of trees.  With the harsh mid-day sun there was quite a bit of contrast.  I switched the NEX3 to HDR mode, and it quickly took multiple shots and combined them to bring out detail in the shadow and highlights.  I took the in-camera HDR image, and combined it with the original single exposure as metered by the camera.  Using Photomatix I created this image.  Personally, I really like this method because it allows me to make photos all day.  While I could easily have gotten carried away with the HDR, I tried to keep it realistic.  If you decide to try HDR yourself be sure to do what works for you!  If you share your work online, there’s bound to be a critic out there that doesn’t care for one of your images.  That’s ok, to each his own.  Just be sure that you are pleased and don’t worry about the critics.
That’s it for now!  Happy shooting!
** Thanks again Andy!!