Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

I Bought A New Camera – the Canon 5D Mark IV

The Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon EF 24-70mm f/4 L IS (and a RRS L-bracket).

Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon ef 24-70mm f/4 IS lens and RRS L bracket

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (with Canon 24-70mm f/4 L IS)

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   I don’t write about equipment here often as I prefer talking about locations and photographs. Too many photographers concentrate on the equipment over the experiences and results, and I think that often hurts the photography. I tend to only research and read (and write) about equipment when I need it. I was happy to not have bought a new lens since 2011, and only did so recently due to the camera upgrade. Since 2011 I’ve been shooting with a Canon 7D, an improvement at the time from the Canon 30D I’d been using since 2007. The 7D was a big upgrade from the 30D and I was able to use the same lenses (EF-S and EF) I’d invested in already. One of those lenses, the Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS started to break down on occasion just over two years ago. A lens that just refuses to work at exactly the wrong time isn’t a good one to keep around. I put up with this as it still worked for the most part, and would make occasional bad noises before it crapped out on me again earlier this year. I had always imagined moving to a full frame camera at some point, and this lens was part of what got me to do it. If I had upgraded the 30D in 2012 instead of 2011, I might have bought a Canon 6D which is full frame. I’d probably still be happy with that camera and continue to use it as many of my photographer friends still do. At his point the 6D is getting old(er) and I had waited long enough for the much rumored 6D Mark II to be released. It may be released later this year, or not at all. The 7D was made in 2009, and while it is still a good camera (that I will continue to use) it lacks a number of things more modern cameras offer. Higher dynamic range, much less noise at higher ISO, etc. Even the increase in megapixels (a wildly over hyped feature in general) will be handy as the 5D Mark IV yields 30 megapixel files while the 7D was around 18.

   So after months of research I had decided my new camera body had to be a 5D Mark IV but this required upgrading some lenses as well. The 7D has a APS-C crop sensor (1.6x) which worked well with my two EF-S lenses, the 17-55 f/2.8 IS and the Canon 10-22mm. Neither of these will work on a full frame DSLR body, so it was also time to move up in the world of lenses. The 17-55 was a good lens, but after using it’s replacement, the Canon 24-70mm f/4 L IS (which comes with the same price tag), I’m very happy with the quality of the images from it. I replaced the 10-22mm with a Canon 17-40mm f/4 L which is a pretty ubiquitous landscape lens among Canon landscape photographers. I haven’t used the 17-40mm much yet, but I expect it to be a step up from the 10-22.

   I’ve spent a few weeks learning all the features on the new 5D Mark IV and do love the results so far. I’ve only been out for one “real” evening of shooting (in White Rock) but have made quite a few images in the backyard of baby rabbits, birds, and various spring flowers. It has been very nice to shoot at ISO 3200 and get the same level of noise I was used to at around 800! You’ll see those results, as well as the photos of other trips I have planned… soon!

My Top 10 Photos of 2016

   Once again it is time to post my 10 favourite photographs from the past year. I do this yearly as it is a worthwhile exercise, and to take part in Jim Goldstein’s annual Your Best Photos project. His collection of these posts is a great place to view photographs and find some new photographers to follow.

   I hope you enjoy my selections here and am curious to hear if you have a favourite. If you click on each photograph you’ll be taken to my Image Archive. Many of these photographs have corresponding blog posts that I’ve linked to underneath the thumbnails here. These aren’t in any specific order, but I did place the photograph “Rainbow over Hatzic Lake” at the beginning as I think this is the first time I’ve photographed a rainbow (successfully at least) outside of my backyard. I was also shielding the camera from a rainstorm with my body, so the photo deserves extra points for that. 😉

Here are my top 10 photos of 2016:

rainbow over hatzic lake in the fall
Rainbow over Hatzic Lake

(Mission, British Columbia)
Blog post: Rainbow over Hatzic Lake

top 10 photos - sailboat in the salish sea in british columbia
Sailboat in the Salish Sea

(Lighthouse Park, West Vancouver, British Columbia)
Blog post: Sunset at Juniper Point in Lighthouse Park
(more…)

2017 Nature Calendar Now Available!

cover for 2017 nature calendar - hatzic lake rainbow

2017 Calendar Cover – Rainbow over Hatzic Lake and Hatzic Island

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   My 2017 Nature Calendars are now available! I have put together some of my favourite recent photographs into a 11″x17″ (28cm x 43cm) calendar. Included are 12 photographs of landscape and nature scenes from British Columbia and Washington State. Most of these photographs were made in 2016, though a few are from earlier years but previously unpublished in my calendars.

30% OFF! Use the code 10THDAY20 (case sensitive) for 30% OFF at checkout through Dec 16, 2016.

You can view a full preview and purchase this calendar through the button below:

Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT

My new Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash

canon speedlite 430EX III-RT flash front

Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash – Front

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   Last month I mentioned I have plans to photograph a few new sujects and posted a photograph of Blueberries in a bowl shot in a lightbox I made out materials I had on hand. One of the limitation I found in photographing new things in new ways was that I didn’t own a “real” flash. The built in flash on the Canon 7D is a bit lacking. So I did some research and I purchased a Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash earlier this month.

   It has been a long time since I’ve purchased a new piece of equipment. I’ve stuck with the gear I slowly accumulated between 2007 and 2011 for the most part. The important part is using the equipment, not talking about it, debating gear choices online, or otherwise obsessing over it. Perhaps that will be a post all its own soon. I knew nothing about flashes, so I had to do a bit of research before I settled on this one. That was the easy part, learning to use it will be a bit more interesting.

canon speedlite 430EX III-RT flash back

Canon Speedlite 430EX III-RT Flash – Back

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   I made these photos in that same lightbox. I spent a few days learning about a few settings, how to trigger the Speedlight with my 7d’s on camera flash, and a number of other things new to me. Having done this, it was a bit frustrating to try to make a photograph of this flash unit without being able to actually use it for the photo!

Trying something new – Blueberries, a Lightbox and Lights

Freshly picked Fraser Valley Highbush Blueberries in a bowl.

fresh organic highbush blueberries from the fraser valley in a bowl

Experimenting with my lightbox – a bowl of blueberries (Purchase)

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   In early 2015 I decided to try something new photographically, which is probably a good idea to do from time to time. Occasionally I want to photograph something that isn’t a landscape, nature or macro subject. I’d seen many tutorials on how to construct your own lightbox on the internet, so last spring I built one. Then I didn’t use it for a few months as I made excuses about not having the right equipment (I didn’t) or subjects (I did). When I was picking blueberries at the end of last summer I decided I would try to get a “product” shot of these fresh blueberries in a bowl. Typically my blueberry related photography has been more along the lines of blueberries still on the bush. Next it was a matter of finding a relatively photogenic bowl which was harder than I’d first anticipated.

   After a number of exposures only using my Canon 7D’s built in flash and two desk lamps shining in the sides of the lightbox, I fully realized that this was a whole new kind of photography thing altogether. I’ve never tried to artificially light subjects, and not owning a dedicated flash seems to be a bit of a drawback in that regard. However, trying something new shouldn’t always be easy, and so there were many ugly exposures before this one came to life. So, thinking this was my best effort so far, I put it up on the blog here which drew my attention to how “white” the background of the image is (or isn’t, in this case). That is my point here though – I’m trying something new and that is not something that usually starts with success right away. I am hoping I will soon regard this image as a failure, even though right now it is the best of its type that I have – because that would mean progress has been made.

   I believe I will soon be buying a flash for this kind of photography and a few other uses I have in mind. Once I spend some actual cash and not just time putting together a cardboard and poster paper lightbox the real “pressure” will be on!

My Top 10 Photos of 2015

   I consider these lists more of a top 10 favourite photographs of that year than the “best”. Which of my photographs are “the best” is probably better left for others to decide. Once again, I am making this post so I can be a part of Jim Goldstein’s annual Your Best Photos project. Look for his post early in the new year with all the entries from a wide variety of photographers. His project is always a great place to find new photographers and their work.

   I hope you enjoy the following photographs and I am curious if you have a favourite. Clicking on each photograph takes you to my Image Archive but below you’ll also find links to corresponding blog posts if they exist. While these are in no specific order that first panorama of Bagley Lakes might be my favourite overall. Here are my top 10 photos of 2015:

top 10 photos - bagley lakes panorama fall
Panorama of the Bagley Lakes at the bottom of Table Mountain and Mount Herman

(Mount-Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington State)
Blog post: Bagley Lakes Panorama

fall foliage colours reflecting on deer lake
Fall foliage colours reflect on the surface of Deer Lake

(Sasquatch Provincial Park, British Columbia)

(more…)

Holiday Print Sale – Save 20%

It is time for my holiday print sale! From now through January 8th, 2016 all of my Fine Art Prints and Canvas Wraps are 20% off! Just use the code HOLIDAY20 (case sensitive) at checkout.

holiday print sale fine art prints and canvas wraps

Lower Falls on Gold Creek (Purchase)

   Select the photograph(s) you are interested in from my Image Library, add your desired product and size to your cart, and use the coupon code HOLIDAY20 at checkout. More about my prints and ordering information can be found on my Purchase page in the menu above. If you are interested in a photo that is not yet in my Image Library but instead found here on my Photoblog (or on a social media site), please send me an email indicating which photograph you are interested in and what size/product you wish to order – the discount will still apply!

500px Creates 500px.me – Hosts Photos in China

500px fingerprint logo   Earlier this year I wrote a post outlining why I no longer wanted to participate in the 500px website. As you may have heard, a few days ago another rather large issue with 500px came up regarding its deal with the Chinese Company Visual China Group. Initially I wrote this to be an addition to my 8 reasons post, but I think it merits mention on its own as well as mention on the list.

   Last week many 500px users noticed a site called vcg.me that contained 500px user profiles and photographs. I don’t know how they found this site, but it appeared to quickly mirror new photo uploads, comments and favorites. This caused some confusion and discord in a number of 500px groups (their user forum) and in other posts on the internet and social media. Initially I speculated this was another Chinese site scraping the content of another website, which isn’t that uncommon. I believe this very thing had happened to 500px before, but in this case, it was not a malicious site – it was 500px themselves.

   Back in July of 2015 500px announced they had obtained $13 million in funding from China’s Visual China Group (VCG) in order to fund various ventures including expansion into China. I didn’t think too much about this at the time, China is a huge market and a lot of companies want to explore business there. When the vcg.me site (now rebranded 500px.me) showed up earlier this week it became apparent that there could be some major issues with the move into China. This was to be an entirely new Chinese site written in Chinese and hosted in China. 500px support confirmed with various users frantically asking for an explanation that indeed this was a 500px affiliated website. This was the first the company had indicated that a whole new site would be the platform for a move into China, though nothing official was really released until a few days later when they started damage control. They promised that at some point in the future users would be able to control what images showed up on the Chinese site. Allowing this only after the fact really is too late – the cat is already out of the bag and images have already been transferred to the new Chinese based hosting. As I write this 500px.me has been hidden while it is finished – something I bet 500px wishes it had done from the start.

   All of 500px’s customer communication failures in this matter aside, the main issue for me is the Chinese based hosting. As you might know I pursue copyright infringements of my work. All of the legal and copyright infringement “enforcers” I have dealt with immediately bow out when China is mentioned – there is simply no way to enforce copyright laws in that country (or many others). I have tried on my own with a few infringements that I found particularly frustrating (one of my bear photos used on a trophy hunting guide’s website) and got absolutely nowhere with the web hosts or the companies in question. While I realize that any image I upload anywhere may be used in China and other jurisdictions where I have no legal power, I’d prefer my images do not start on servers in those countries. I don’t know all the implications the 500px.me Chinese based site might have for the intellectual property rights of its users, but I bet there will be some. 500px indicated to me on Twitter that if a Chinese infringement occurs they will “act on your behalf to send takedown notices and infringement notices”. Since this is not possible for my lawyers and companies that handle copyright claims already, I have no idea how 500px can guarantee this. I suspect they won’t be able to do anything more about this than any other company or law firm currently can – so their statement to the contrary likely means nothing at all.

   Another issue that I find unsettling is one of censorship. As I stated, I don’t have much of a problem with 500px pursuing business for its photographers in any country, including China. I had imagined that this would take place on their current site but it has been indicated by many that the main 500px site is banned/blocked in China because it contains a lot of images that the Chinese government doesn’t want their citizens to see (and not just the nudity). Having the files located in China itself allows the government and VCG to censor it so that it can be shown domestically. While this is not new on China’s part, I do find it an unsettling part of this deal.

   I had abandoned 500px in late 2013 due to the reasons I outlined earlier this year, but I had left 5 images behind as a kind of advertisement of sorts. After finding out that this vcg.me/500px.me site was indeed an official 500px entity – I deleted all of these images immediately. Perhaps I was lucky and caught them before they were transferred to Chinese servers, but I have no way of verifying this. As it stands now, 500px has blocked access to vcg.me and 500px.me as they (presumably) continue to develop the sites. Unfortunately this also means people cannot directly see if their content is being transferred there or not. A lot of users seem angry enough about 500px’s handling of this that they are deleting their images and their accounts entirely. I feel that is probably the proper course of action at this point, but I can’t help still feeling disappointment in what 500px has become after their promising beginnings only a few years ago.

Further Reading