Posts Tagged ‘Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM’

Pitt Marsh Sunset Redux

Sunset at the Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Management Area on the shore of the Pitt River in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia, Canada

sunset at the pitt river marsh

Sunset at the Pitt River (Purchase)

-click to enlarge-

   I am always learning new techniques in Adobe Camera Raw and Photoshop, and often a consequence of this is the desire to revisit older photographs and reprocess them. A lot of my older photos were processed using methods that were time consuming and sometimes not that effective. Finally learning to use masks was a gamechanger, for example. There are a lot of these photos where I am happy with the processing, but others that I have started to revisit in order to process them with my current vision of how they should appear. Thankfully my new methods are a lot faster, and the occasional revisit to an older photograph doesn’t take me nearly the time it used to.

   This photograph is a good example of one where I wasn’t happy with the initial processing. I like this photo – but the initial version has a foreground that was too dark, the colours were slightly reddish, and there were a few other brightness issues I wanted to fix. I think this processing balances the colours much more faithfully to the original scene as I remember it, and deals with the darker foreground. You can read a bit more about the things I learned while actually photographing this scene in the original post.

Chilliwack Lake Winter Panorama

panorama of chilliwack lake in winter
Winter at Chilliwack Lake (click for larger version)

   Wide angle shot from Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park back in January. Glad I had a few shots I like from this trip as I nearly froze my toes off! I have posted a few shots previously of this location concentrating more on Mount Redoubt and Nodoubt Peaks.

Chilliwack River Winter Panorama

winter panorama of the chilliwack river near chilliwack lake provincial park
The Chilliwack River
-click to make even bigger-

3 exposures stitched, Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM @ 17mm

Now that I have written a post about getting away from solely using wide angle lenses for landscapes and to look for the details I thought I would post a wide angle panorama!

This is the Chilliwack River near Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park taken at the same time as some of my other Chilliwack River shots.

One thing I keep noticing with this shot is that the majority of longer exposure river shots I see are looking upstream while this is looking across/downstream. Does this make it look unnatural or different in a negative way?

Focus on the Details

the chilliwack river in winter
The Chilliwack River in Winter

   When I first started getting serious with a “real” film camera I had a 28-90mm kit lens. Eventually I wished to move on from just taking random snapshots and actually gain more skills and take better photos. I read a bit on the internet about lenses and bought a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4. The “nifty fifty”. It was at this point that I realized the difference lens quality can make. I couldn’t believe how sharp and clear the shots with the 50mm were.

   A few years after buying the 50mm I upgraded to a DSLR – A Canon 30D. Wow not only could I take 100’s of shots at one time, I was not paying for film and developing so I could actually afford to experiment and try new things. The 28-90mm kit lens was a bit better on the DSLR (cropped out some of the edge anomalies) but still had nothing on the 50mm. On the APS-C sensor of the 30D (1.6x) the 50mm was more like an 80mm lens. I really wanted to go wider so that I could get more into a shot. I saved up and bought a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5. Good quality and really wide compared to the 50mm. I shot with the 10-22mm and the 50mm (the kit lens now relegated to a drawer for bad behaviour) for quite a while. I wanted to determine what I was missing the most before I went in that direction with a new lens.

nodoubt peak - part of Mount Redoubt - alpenglow
Alpenglow on Nodoubt Peak in North Cascades National Park

   A year or so after I bought the 10-22mm I filled in the gap between my lenses with the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM. At that point I had opted for crop sensors over full frame (largely due to price of both long lenses and the FF cameras) so the 17-40mm was not on my list. From there I went to a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM to get a bit more reach for wildlife. What I had not really anticipated is that I would be using this lens so often for landscapes.

the chilliwack river in winter
Abstract Chilliwack River

   Often as a beginning photographer I read about wide angle lenses as the be all and end all of landscape photography. Walking in to a camera shop and being asked what I like to shoot – the answer of landscapes would push wide angle lenses in my direction. I was rather surprised to learn what I had been missing in a longer telephoto lens for landscapes. In some scenes I have found it difficult to use the wider focal lengths in that they actually get too much into the frame. Ironic considering this is why I earlier had thought I needed a wide lens. The details of the scene are there, but are drowned out by distracting elements that take the viewer’s eye away from what is important. So my initial impression that I would always want to be at a wide angle all the time has actually changed to looking at the details and what is more essential.

eureka falls in spring
Eureka Falls

   I never would have predicted this sort of outcome when I started. I see many posts and articles devoted to gear and purchasing wide lenses for landscapes. I wonder how many of the beginners reading these thing will eventually start to favour longer lenses for their landscape photography? Would they be better off getting a telephoto lens before a really wide angle one? Maybe this is just a normal evolution for a photographer. Regardless, I am happy I have moved away from all wide angle all the time – the variety of shots possible at longer focal lengths is liberating.

Canon 7D vs. 30D + Spring Macros

canon 7d canon ef-s 17-55mm f 2.8 is usm
Click to enlarge…

   I realize I may be a bit late to the party obtaining a Canon 7D – but I wanted to pass along my first impressions regardless. A few weeks ago I upgraded my DSLR from a Canon 30D to the newer 7D. The difference between the two is quite noticeable even in the first few hundred exposures I have tested it with. Better dynamic range with the 7D, larger number of frames per second. Live view, bigger, better LCD, 18 vs 8 megapixels etc.

red huckleberry - vaccinium parvifolium - leaf buds
Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium)
Click to enlarge…

   A year or so ago I had to make a decision. Do I go for the EF-S type lenses and be somewhat more tied to a APS-C sensor camera like the xxD series and 7D lines or stick with EF lenses only? I wanted a wide angle zoom, and that seemed to be a choice between the EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM or the 17-40mm f/4 L. Both are great lenses, but I went for the 17-55mm over the 17-40mm – somewhat committing me to the crop sensor fork in the road. The other benefit to the crop sensor camera is that it would give me more reach with the telephoto lenses (the 70-200 for example) without having to pay the price for a long lens (like the 300mm L). Those two reasons are why this is not a discussion comparing the 30D to a 5D Mark II.

coltsfoot - tussilago farfara
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
Click to enlarge…

   The weather here has been pretty bad, even for spring in Southwestern British Columbia – lots of rain and still cold – the “spring” monsoon. Consequently – only a few of the early to rise plants have starting budding out their leaves, and only the really early flowers are out. So I have not gone on many trips yet to photograph spring, but instead ventured into the backyard with my macro lens (Canon 100mm f/2.8) on the 7D. The world suddenly becomes a whole lot larger with a macro lens.

   What I have appreciated the most so far about shooting macro with the 7D is the opportunities the live view gives me. The 30D does not have live view, and I didn’t think it would be as useful as it is. To be able to zoom in using the screen and focus on a specific aspect of the shot is very valuable. I suspect that is more valuable to a macro photo but it will no doubt become handy with some landscapes as well. The ability to actually consider raising the ISO beyond 400 for a shot that requires a faster shutter speed without introducing a lot of noise has also been very nice. With the 7D I don’t have to be too afraid of going well over 400 ISO, though I try to stick with 100 for a non-moving subject.

weeping european larch - larix decidua - needle cluster
Weeping European Larch (Larix decidua)
Click to enlarge…

   Another plus to the 7D is the actual LCD on the back. The image of the shot I just took seems much more representative of the actual file compared to the 30D view screen. I think the only downside I can see to the 7D, and its NOT really a downside is the size of the resulting files. I have been used to 8 megapixel images which were somewhere between 6 and 9 megabytes each – and the 7D is an 18 megapixel camera with 22-24 megabyte files. This will force me to be a bit more discerning on which images to keep. Though storage is cheap, its not unlimited at the moment, so I will likely cull more than I used to. I’ll be careful to keep those “maybe” images as I never know how I will feel about an image tomorrow – or next year even. The increased file size has also made both of my 2gig CF cards seem rather small since they will only hold about 70 images each now. I do have 4 gig and 8 gig cards as well, but it might be time to finally get a 16 just so I do not run out of space.

   So I have nothing but good things to say – and am happy that I finally upgraded. Soon I will have some landscape shots of some manner to show here for further consideration. I think the monsoon might end early next week…

Mt. Baker Panorama From Artist Point

mount baker panorama from artist point

4 exposures stitched, Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM @ 50mm

Panorama of Mt. Baker with Ptarmigan Ridge in the foreground – from Artist Point.

Harrison Lake Fall Color Panorama

Some fall color at Harrison Lake in November 2009. Unfortunately we just didn’t have this sort of fall color this year. The leaves went from green to brown/dead all too often. Especially the Acer macrophyllum.

13 exposures stitched, Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM @ 17mm

harrison lake panorama

Cascade Range Peaks from Artist Point

10 exposures stitched, Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM @ 35mm

Click for larger version…
mountains to the north of artist ooint

  For the past few years I find myself wishing that I’d spent more time in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest photographing the peaks in the Cascade Range. The classic/cliche Picture Lake is awesome and can yield interesting photographic moments almost every time but the wide range of possibilities from up at Artist Point make it more appealing to me. The trouble is the road remains snow covered until sometime in July (this year it opened on the 30th of July – a bit late). As the road closes with the first major snowfall, this year in late October – this isn’t a lot of time to enjoy it. I live only an hour away just north of the border in Canada but always seem to get caught doing other things. At this time of year I know I will be waiting at least 7 months until I can get back to Artist Point. Editing images like this always give me ideas as to what I want to do next time I am there… but so long to wait!

This panorama is from Artist Point looking north into the Cascade Range peaks north west of Mt. Shuksan. The peaks are (from left to right): Mt. Herman (foreground), Tomyhoi Peak, Canadian Border Peak, American Border Peak, Mt. Larrabee, Winchester Mountain, Goat Mountain, Goat Mountain East Peak, and Mt. Sefrit.

If only the last light of the day lasted longer!