Saturday, 6 November 2010

Cup Weekend Day 3

Day 3 saw me fortunate enough to borrow a lens I'd been thinking about buying, Canon 100-400 IS.  I've been wanting to do wildlife photography for years but I've never been able to justify the big $$ to get started.  So my aim for the few house spent with this lens was to determine if wildlife photography is for me and if the lens is worth buying.

Here's a few of the photos I ended up with:
Crimson Rosella
First bird I shot in the backyard, Crimson Rosella. Canon 50D, 400mm, 1/200, f/7.1, ISO320

Little Stint
Down at Shallow Inlet this was as close as I could get to these tiny Little Stint's.  Canon 50D, 400mm, 1/640, f/9, ISO200

Trying out panning again with an IS lens, only problem was that I didn't know which IS setting was which. Canon 50D, 400mm, 1/200, f/10, ISO100

Large-billed Scrubwren
Large-billed Scrubwren, even at f/9 the depth of field is very shallow. Canon 50D, 400mm, 1/320, f/9, ISO160

Superb Blue Wren.  The IS is a lifesaver here.  Canon 50D, 400mm, 1/60, f/8, ISO320

Jenny Wren. Canon 50D, 400mm, 1/100, f/8, ISO320

More photos with the Canon 100-400mm in my Flickr stream.

So first up, did I enjoy the wildlife photography experience? Umm, YES! Really enjoyed it so will be looking for ways to do more in the future.

Next, what about the lens? As you can see I shot pretty much everything at 400mm and still had to crop the photos so for birds (particularly small ones) 400mm on a crop body only just cuts it. I was not blown away by the image quality but I hear that at 400mm the canon is better than the Sigma equivalents so I probably won't go with them since it will probably be my most used focal length. The IS is a real life saver when you need the extra depth of field which is most of the time with long focal length. I don't have well practised long lens technique but I was able to hand hold down to 1/60th at times. I also wasn't a fan of the push pull zoom, I find it isn't as smooth (something that may improve with practice) but I also found that when zoomed out, your left hand can't support the lens & body very well. I know people say you need lots of practice with this sort of then but I don't think that is going to change. I found that when zoomed out I'd take my hand off the zoom ring and bring it back closer to the body for support, which helped but means I can't zoom.

The other Canon 400mm option is 400mm f/5.6 which is said to be sharper than the 100-400 @ 400 and it's cheaper but it is lacking IS which I think would be a killer for me.

Anyway I heard a rumour that Canon will be releasing a new version of the 100-400 next year so I might wait till then to either get the new version or pick up a cheaper old one.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Cup Weekend Day 2

Day 2 and I took very few photos, just some rolling hills overlooking Sandy Point, Shallow Inlet and of course Wilson's Prom.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Cup Weekend Day 1

Once again it is Cup Weekend in Melbourne and our family tradition (for the last two years) is to spend it at the holiday house in Sandy Point.
Sandy Point is a small beach town in South Gippsland, Victoria, not far from Wilson’s Promontory and surround by some beautiful scenery.  You can see some of my Sandy Point photos here.
This weekend has several priorities, family, sleep (am recovering from the flu) and photos which can be a challenge to balance.   Anyway I’ve been really excited to get back to shooting so headed off in the afternoon, despite less than thrilling conditions.  I started down at Shallow Inlet where there was some windsurfing happening so I thought I’d practice my sports photography and see if I could learn how to pan properly.  Have a look at the difference between the two photos below.

First photos has shutter speed of 1/1250 and the second 1/100 both shot with Sigma 70-200 @200mm

I then moved onto some bird life

All shot with 70-200mm.  I very nearly bought the Canon 100-400 last week but decided I shouldn't make snap decisions that cost that much money.  After having fun with these shots I might just do it if the Aussie $ comes up a bit more again though there a rumors Canon are replacing it next year.

Then some landscapes

Then some driving in the hills behind Walkerville

Then back to Sandy Point just before the sun set

Was a pretty good day!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Black & White Landscapes

I'm the first to admit that I haven't really done a lot of black & white photography, just a few images here and there for weddings and portraits, just barely enough to know that it is a whole new world that requires more than just desaturating an image!  So after seeing so many black & white landscapes on Moose Peterson's blog I thought it was time to have a go for myself.

Here's a side by side comparison of a few photos from a recent hike up Mt Feathertop, let me know what which images you prefer and why.  You may want to click through to see the larger image.

Mountain Ash vertical panorama

Fire ravaged clearing

Resilient snow gum

There's more photos from the trip (including more B&W images) in my Mt Feathertop flickr set and some of the ones above are already up on Redbubble.

Monday, 5 July 2010

DIY solution for sale: Wireless DSLR external monitor

Photographer Robert Benson likes to have the right tool for the job, and, if it doesn't exist at a reasonable price, he heads for the garage.  A couple of years ago he came up with a long range radio (literally) trigger when he found pocket wizards wouldn't give him the range he needed and now he's engineered (and posted for sale) a wireless DSLR external monitor.   It has been made using off the shelf products and will work with any DSLR that has 3.5mm miniphone jack for A/V or video out.  It is based around a 7" or 10" portable, battery powered monitor will display whatever is on the camera LCD be it video, live view or reviewing photos.  Pretty cool stuff, check it out on his blog or view the video below.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Photo & Video merging: Lighting

I picked this one up from @DSLRinformer on twitter.  Litepanels (who produce LED video lights) have just released a LED light panel with strobe function at NAB 2010!!  No idea on the flash specs but it's a cool concept.  Check out the NAB video here.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Adobe updates

Adobe has been showing off some pretty nice new image processing software recently, with a new beta version of Lightroom 3 and a sneak preview of Photoshop CS5!

I've just downloaded the beta 2 version of Lightroom 3 and will hopefully have a look soon but the items of most interest are the tethered shooting and the new improved noise reduction feature.  I hope they are as good as they say.  More LR3 info here, here and here (and many other places).

Adobe is really plugging a new feature of CS5 called "Content-Aware Fill" which analyses the background image and provides kinda of intelligent fill when using things like the heal tool and as an option when something is deleted.  It can also be used to fill in the surrounds of an image such as a panorama, looks pretty useful and will make touching up images MUCH faster.  There's a great preview video here.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

New QuantumFilm Image Sensors

Just saw this article about a new type of QuantumFilm image sensor by Invisageinc that could replace CMOS!!  It looks pretty amazing and will apparently be in cell/mobile phone camera by the end of the year!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Photo sales

I've been doing a lot of research and thinking (and a little action) into the best way to try and sell some if my photos.  While I've done some event photography and shot some weddings, my real passion creating amazing landscape, nature and still life prints... so I figure I should follow it.  This article is basically some rambling and thinking out loud, hopefully it will give you some ideas about directions to go in photography or maybe you can leave some comments giving me some direction.  Anyway here it goes...
Buy my art

Right now I have many of my 'art' photos for sale on Redbubble, I also have them displayed on my web site with links to my bubblesite where appropriate.  I also use my web site to sell photos from events I've shot, so I could use this option to sell my art photos as well.  I really like Redbubble because I don't have to do anything when someone orders a photo.  I don't like Redbubble because the base price is high, the don't offer 'normal' prints and they only have a few products I really like.

There's also a printer in Brisbane called Brilliant prints who do excellent affordable canvas prints and have recently started doing block mounted photos prints which look great and are even more affordable (I have to two photos below block mounted on my wall).  But the don't do framing, cards, calendars or 'normal' prints.  I've often wondered about giving up on redbubble and just using these guys and maybe supplement it with another standard photo printer but it would be a lot of work to set-up (print sizes and cost on web site) and I'd have to do 'stuff' whenever an order came through.  I'm still pondering this option if I could find a (singular) good printer and framer to work with.

Another option is that I've just joined Imagekind who do 'normal' prints, framing and canvas printing in a Redbubble type set-up with lots of size, paper type, mat and frame options.  But they are US based and I don't want to have to point to both redbubble and these guys from my web site. Just to make things interesting I've got a Zazzle account that is somewhere inbetween Imagekind and CafePress (I also have an account with these guys but the 'free' account isn't much use to me) which I'm using to create posters, postcards and different calendar formats.

The other thing I've found is that people are more likely to buy a print or calendar if it is physically there in front of them, particularly for less-computer-savvy generations.  This is hard, because it means you need to have up front $$ to buy the products and you need somewhere to display them.  It is even more important if you are going to sell postcards, these are normally bough from a store, somewhere near when the photo would have been taken.  So this involves doing more research into printers that have products you want at good prices which also involves buying in bulk to save $$ but first requiring you to spend more $$.

This means I now have images strewn all over the internet, three sales sites (four if you include my attempts with cafepress), one flickr site, facebook site, my web site, I have a blog (two actually), a twitter account, myspace account, a printer in Brisbane and are pondering getting calendars, prints, cards and/or postcards physically into various stores/galleries/cafe's.  Which all adds up to one big mess.

So I hope you weren't expecting me to come to a conclusion about the best way to do photo sales coz I'm going to leave it there for now and keep thinking and working to, well, see what works.  Let me know if you have any comments, thoughts or ideas.  If you are in the same place as me, GOODLUCK!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Night vision, photography and dung beetles.

Ever wondered what dung beetles have to do with photography, night vision and road safety?  Check out this article for nature inspired pixle binning, HDR and image processing being used to try and help drivers see in the dark.

Dung beetles' secret superpower: ultimate night sight