Kalamalka Lake and other areas around Vernon are among my favorite places in British Columbia’s Thompson Okanagan region. The above view of Kalamalka Lake, Vernon, and Coldstream was made on the same evening as another photograph of mine: a Panorama of Kalamalka Lake. Unless I am in a hurry, I always seem to stop at this lookout to stretch my legs and look at the view. On this day I was coming back from Kelowna at just the right time for some blue hour photographs.
View of Kalamalka Lake from Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park (Purchase)
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This second view is from Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park along the Corral Trail. In the larger version of this photo you can just see the viewpoint from the first photograph above on the hill in the upper left hand corner.
After shooting some great sunset light near Vernon, British Columbia about a month ago I headed to this vantage point just off Hwy 97. The Monashee Mountains can be seen far in the distance behind the District of Coldstream. The houses and lights to the left are in Vernon, and the water in the foreground is of course, Kalamalka Lake.
Late last summer I decided I wanted a bit more focal length than my Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM could offer. Not being able to afford a really long telephoto lens, I looked into the Canon Extenders. Having eliminated the 2x version, I had a choice between the Canon 1.4x EF Extender II ($350) or the newer model the Canon 1.4x EF Extender II ($499). I read many reviews of the new extender over the old one, and it just didn’t seem to be worth the extra $150, at least for me so I went with the mark II version.
Vernon Mountain Pasture (Bubo scandiacus)
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An extender attaches between a compatible lens and the camera body to give some added magnification with that lens. So the Canon 1.4x EF Extender would make a 200mm focal length more like 280mm. While there can be some image degradation, this does allow for a relatively cheap way to achieve the magnification found in longer focal lengths. An extender is also lighter and smaller than a lens, coming in at only 2.9″ x 1.1″, 7.8 oz. (72.8 x 27.2mm, 220g). An extender doesn’t take up much room in your bag or add much weight during a long hike. Using the 1.4x extender your lens operates 1 stop slower than it otherwise would. So my Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM lens can only open up to f/5.6, not f/4. This is something to consider, depending on the camera you are using. I’ve been happy with the results from my Canon 7D with higher ISO performance, so if I am shooting wildlife with this combination, I will bump the ISO up a bit to compensate for what would otherwise be slower shutter speeds at f/5.6.
Of course, an extender is only as good as the lens it is sitting behind. All of the sample photos you see here were shot with the extender and the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L IS USM lens. I love this lens for both wildlife and landscape shooting – and I wrote a separate review of the 70-200 in a guest post Dan Bailey’s Blog.
I asked my contacts on social media and in a few photography forums if anyone had used both the II and III versions of this extender and what they found to be improved in verion III over II. The apparent differences were not worth $150 in my opinion – especially behind the 70-200 lens I would be using it with. Many mentioned there was less Chromatic Abberation (CA) in the newest version. I decided to buy the less expensive version but to keep an eye open during post processing for CA. At this point I have only seen this in one photo, and it was a poorly exposed throwaway that was of no consequence. There still may be situations where this becomes an issue, but as I am aware of it and what shots I’ve made with the extender, I do not foresee this being an issue in the long run.
The 1.4 extender III also has improvements in the coating on the outer pieces of glass – and it is said to not pick up fingerprints like the version II. There are also improvements to better match improvements in some of Canon’s super telephoto lenses that were released at about the same time. I am not worried about fingerprints, and I am unlikely to own some of the really long telephotos anytime soon. I can currently think of better ways to spend $8000. If I come into a landslide of money I will be able to upgrade my extender in addition to purchasing really long glass.
Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) -click to enlarge-
Another issue with extenders can be image degradation. As you are placing more and more pieces of glass between your sensor and subject, image quality is likely to decrease slightly. I have not really noticed this in any of my images taken with the EF Extender II – though I am not one to do too much “pixel peeping” at 100% looking for flaws either.
If you are on a budget and looking to get a bit more reach out of a lens like the 70-200, the Canon 1.4x EF Extender II might be the perfect way to do it. For the new super-telephoto lenses the newest version may be more appropriate. Using the version II for almost 8 months I’ve had no issues and am happy with the photographs I have been able to make with it. Glad to say buying this accomplished exactly the purpose for which I purchased it!
View of Cosens Bay from Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park near Vernon, British Columbia, Canada
Cosens Bay from Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park
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During my recent trip to the North Okanagan region of British Columbia I spent some time in Kalamalka Lake Provincial Park. Of all the parks and areas I visited, I think this is my favourite view of Kalamalka Lake – a view looking down on Cosens Bay. The flowers in the foreground are Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata) and I found them in full bloom which was fortuitous timing to say the least.
What was perhaps not as lucky timing was what happened next. I walked a bit further up Cosens Bay Road and then jumped on a few rocks out into the grassy meadow for a better vantage point on some Balsamroot plants that looked promising. I try not to walk on vegetation if at all possible so rock hopping is a good opportunity to avoid this. I was about 10 feet into the field, standing on a rock, finishing up a photograph when I heard a distinctive rattling sound – but only twice. This made me uncomfortable to say the least – there are Western Rattlesnakes in the park and I’d just read a sign on the way in about them. They say on the sign that when you hear this sound you should identify where the snake is, then walk far around it. Great advice IF you can find its location! I could not – and it wasn’t rattling anymore so determining the source was not exactly going to be easy. Unable to find it I extended the legs of my tripod to their fullest extent and swept the grass as far ahead of me like I was looking for mines – and made my way back to the road. This was uneventful. I’ve read that people find unexploded WWII ordinates in the park too, so mine sweeping might not have been that far from the truth. The Cosens Bay area was a WWII mortar practice range. Every 10 years or so someone finds an unexploded mortar which has to be disposed of!