My trigger [shutter] finger had a serious itch when I woke up this morning. My buddy Pete of Denim Spot invited me down to to come enjoy Brazilian Day festivities. This worked out well as we needed to catch up on some business. I did not stick around for the entire day’s scheduled events, but I managed to capture some of the color. I’m always game, when people take the time to be creative and make any kind of art that is visually appealing. Unfortunately there would be no carnival/samba dancers this time, however I did meet some of the folks from the Brazilian Center who gave me the scoop on future performances. I’m looking forward to capturing those colors for sure. Most of what I captured was of the Mexican Folkloric Dance studio performance. I suppose it was more of a latin american cultural day. Still they put on a very visually appealing performance. Below are some of my favorite shots:
As for the technical details, I shot these with the Canon 5D Mark III using the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II. Because I was shooting over a very dynamic range I put the camera in AV mode. My Aperture was set to f/2.8 for maximum bokeh and subject isolation. My ISO was set to 400-800 to give me a fast enough shutter to stop the motion. AF was set to AI-SERVO to track the fast moving subjects. Selected my AF point based on how I wished to frame each shot. I also used partial or spot metering to help the camera ignore the over exposed spots not covered by tree shadows. This was further aided by the fact that I was tracking my moving subject and keeping my focus point on them at all times. I also used High speed shutter mode to take my shots in bursts of 2-4 shots. Even though the 5D Mark-III is fast enough for most cases, I found myself missing a few key shots because of the “fast-but-not-fast-enough” shutter speed. This is another area where my 7D has never had a problem.
Overall it made for a fun, casual Saturday out and about.
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to capture my sister’s performance in Paris. I thought they were some great performances and after her performance in Austin TX at the beginning of the year I really wanted to get some good clear recording of the show for archival purposes. I had already packed my Canon 5D Mark III for my trip to Paris and was curious to find out how well it would hold up in a real live video setting.
For lens I used the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. I have to say without this lens, it would have been impossible to record this show. The heavy duty stage sound system triggered vibrations all over the venue, which were only amplified by the long focal length required. Because the concert was sold out, there was no way to come close to the stage and capture any usable video. The 4+ stops of image stabilization really proved every last cent of this lens’ worth. I also used my Canon 7D with Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS to capture secondary shots to provide subtle variety to the final cut.
For sound, I was able to pipe the output from the main sound board into the 5D Mark III. This greatly reduced my sound editing tasks in post processing to almost nothing. The 5D Mark III sound recording capabilities are world class. On both the 5D Mark III and the 7D, I shot the video at f/2.8, ISO-1600 and 1/50 to 1/60 shutter and 25 frames per second for a more cinematic feel. There was also a very noticeable reduction in video file size. The shutter speed (roughly twice the frame rate) gave a really crisp, sharp rendering of each frame. Amazingly noise was not an issue at all with both cameras at ISO-1600.
Below is her performance of “Nothing More”, one of my favorites, in full 1080p HD.
Not long ago I was shooting a summer fashion series for Denim Spot in downtown Sacramento. The shots were for their fashion look book, so unfortunately I will not be publishing those shots anytime soon, or at least until their look book is released. However while taking a break from shooting I decided to look around me. I was intrigued by one of our Makeup Artists and Assistants. I decided to explore her look as a little diversion from an otherwise intense day of shooting in various challenging settings. Hannah was gracious enough to pose and let me take a few shots. Here are some highlights from behind the scene.
LIKE this post if you’d like to see a fashion shoot with Hannah. 🙂
Canon EOS 5D Mark III + EF 70-200 f/2.8L @ 200mm, f/2.8, 1/80s, ISO-100.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III + EF 24-105 f/4L @ 70mm, f/5.6, 1/100s, ISO-100.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III + EF 70-200 f/2.8L @ 88mm, f/2.8, 1/100s, ISO-250.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III + EF 70-200 f/2.8L @ 200mm, 95mm, f/2.8, 1/80s, ISO-100.
Okay so it’s time to catch up on photos from Paris. If you like this post, you can also find previous posts from Day 1 here.
Day two wasn’t as busy as day one. This was mainly because I planned to visit only one destination – La Tour Eiffel. Obviously this was to be a highlight of my visit. I wanted to focus on this one location, experience it’s beauty through the sunset and into the night. I also wanted to get a time lapse while getting some good shots, and just take it all in.
La Tour Eiffel is one sight to behold. It is much larger than it looks in any movie, magazine or photo you’ve ever seen. Truly a wonder to behold, especially considering the era in which it was constructed and the fact that it still dominates the skyline in this age-old, world class city. It is yet another testament to the French and their pride in their ability to construct.
I arrived about 2 hours before sunset immediately began looking for a good, higher vantage point. I settled on the Palais de Chaillot / Esplanade du Trocadero. I wanted to also explore some ultra extended exposures to capture the intense traffic around the tower. I also hoped that the a few 10 minutes exposures with a 1- stop filter might help remove the crowd in the scene. I was wrong. The sheer numbers of tourists in this area was overwhelming! I could barely capture a clear shot of the sidewalks.
Below are choice shots from my evening as I chased the sunset through to the night. I took a time lapse as well in between these shots. I met some great people while out there and made some new friends.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III + EF 24-105 f/4 @ 35mm, f/4, 2.5s.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III + EF 24-105 f/4 @ 35mm, f/4, HDR
After exploring Galeries Lafayette, I realized I had lost my bearings and walked too far west. I then took the next south-east street which landed be at this round about. In the middle of the round about was this very old church: Eglise De La Madeleine.
It was here that it began to sink in, just how much the French people value their construction and buildings. Paris is dotted with a plethora of monuments. Not just hastily erected structures with tablets and inscriptions. They are all monuments that took decades or generations to complete. Exhaustive use of granite, marble, stone, copper and iron. It was very inspiring and profoundly moving to walk up to, touch and visit every single one of these monuments. Even simple state/governmental office buildings, stood as if those who built them wanted to make a very pertinent point to all who did as much as walk by. You could feel the deep sense of pride of those who toiled away, cutting those stones, granite and smelting the copper.
Eglise De La Madeleine, was no exception. And to think that, as I explored the city more in the following days, I realized that this church was perhaps one of the most modest of churches dotting the Paris landscape. It was humbling.
It was overcast and drizzling but I managed to get a somewhat clean shot of the front despite the high level of traffic. Fortunately I was able to get some shots of the inside. Once inside, I took extra care not to disturb the faithful who were present for worship. I set my 5D Mark III to Live View mode so as to avoid the loud mirror slap that comes with an SLR. I was able to quietly take multiple HDR bracket shots. I used a high ISO 1600-3200 since I only had enough time and space to shoot handheld. In this respect, the 5D Mark III proved it’s worth with no noticeable noise. Below are some of the shots I got.
Some of the cleaner shots will be processed and made available for print.
Yesterday I managed to break away from the Memorial Day weekend duties for a couple hours. I grabbed my camera gear made a much needed escape to the old Sacramento Area along the river. I noticed earlier in the day, we had very nice, picturesque, high altitude clouds. I thought they would make for spectacular colors during magic hour. Alas, by the time I got to the river banks and found a good spot, they had all dispersed. Never-the-less I captured the lights from the Delta King to the Tower bridge. I had been meaning to capture this view for a while now. These shots and time lapses will eventually go into a subject compilation for the city Sacramento and surrounding areas.
This time I broke habit and put the 5D Mark III on time lapse duty and used the 7D for panoramic and still shots. There were three reasons for this:
I could use my Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens on the 5D to give me the ultra wide angle coverage I wanted for the time lapse which the 24-105mm f/4 L did not provide.
I could use my 17-55mm f/2.8 lens (only fits the 7D) to capture my Panoramic shots. This lens is still the best lens in my kit. Better than the 24-105mm f/4 L in all respects except build.
I was trying a slightly different approach to my time lapse settings which would benefit more from the 5D’s wider range of usable high ISO noise suppression. I shot in Shutter Priority (typically a No-No for time lapse) however with a twist. I set ISO to auto and used Max-ISO. I wanted to use a fixed shutter speed to ensure a consistent water motion and texture capture. This worked out quite well. I will shoot a few more time lapses to fine tune this technique.
Here is a quick shot I took of the view after setting off the 5D for time lapse and before getting the 7D ready for stills.
I like the Panorama feature on my LG Optimus G phone which allows me to take a quick rough panoramic shot and edit it to determine if that location has the composition I am looking for. One of many tools I use to increase the rate of success of my shots. Below is my test pan shot from the 7D’s position.
And now for the final panoramic shot at magic hour. The lights didn’t quite come on as/when expected but then again nothing ever is as expected. I stitched this shot manually – like most of my panoramic shots, I find it’s just a better way to do it. It gives me much more control of my output. It’s worth the extra 15-30 minutes to get it right. The final shot is about 15,000 pixels and was down sampled here to about 3,400 pixels for sanity’s sake :-). The 17-55mm f/2.8 lens’ ultra sharp optics and the 7D’s high pixel density was able to resolve and render pictures hanging on the walls inside the Delta King’s dining room. This was at a focal length of 35mm! This is the reason I will be keeping and using the 7D for years to come – with the right lens, it has some serious resolving power.
Click the image for the larger version.
Old Sacramento after Sunset
I will publish the final time lapse composition in another post.
Yesterday was another lovely day chasing sunsets and the Bay Bridge lights. I decided to seize the opportunity presented by ideal photography weather conditions in the Bay Area. Most ideal was the low (sometimes none) wind speed. This means very calm bay waters, relatively speaking, which in turn means an opportunity for a dramatic light show through sunset and through the night.
The Port of Oakland
My strategy started out with the port of Oakland. From a google maps survey of the area, most of it looked restricted so I looked for a backup vantage point and settled on Potrero Hill which may warrant my next photo excursion to SF. I was unsure about how much access I would have to a coveted view of the bay. I definitely wanted to at elast have some shots from the Oakland side of the bay, especially during sunset. I arrived at the port by mid afternoon and began to scout the area. Portview Park was my ideal view but it was slightly obstructed by the restricted docks area – I wish I had a way of gaining access to the port docks. That in and of itself would make for not only an ideal perspective but may prove to be a treasure trove of industrial and gritty photography goodness. I moved on to Middle Harbor Shoreline Park where I found an outcrop nature preserve with trail access. The view was a bit too distant and less than ideal but then again if I’ve learned anything, it’s that nothing ever is.
With my location sorted out I proceeded to wolf down a Subway sandwich while waiting for the sunset. I parked next to a really nice, clean Nissan 300ZX. Being a car enthusiast myself I began to talk cars with Allan the owner. I drove down in my roadster so it was all around cartalk. Allan was very laid back, easygoing and ended up just handing out through the sunset into the evening. Very nice guy. While I was setting up and shooting another great gentleman showed up. He was a port customs agent who just happened to carry his Digital Rebel everywhere he went. He had just got off work and decided to come take in the view as well so we all hung out and talked everything from cars to logistics to photography while shooting the sunset. It made for a great evening and great new friends.
I took a 2 hour time lapse of this scene with the 7D + 17-55mm f/2.8 while shooting stills such as the one above with the 5D Mark III + 24-105mm f/4. It will take a while to process all the time lapse frames and will present that compilation in a separate post. Unfortunately the Bay Bridge lights were not visible from this vantage point. It turns out the lights are angled slightly towards the city of San Francisco. I later found out this was for the simple reason to avoid interfering with drivers’ view coming into the city.
The Bay Bridge Lights
Finally after dark we all packed up and left. I headed over into SF to do another time lapse from the peer 14 perspective. There I met more interesting folks. First was a cool guy named Brian visiting from Chicago. He’s into photography and cars/hotrods as well, so you can pretty much guess what we ended up talking about all night out there on the peers. I took two time lapses of that view as well while shooting stills, HDR shots, panoramic shots and several 1080p video takes of the bay lights to capture the more subtle action that would otherwise be missed in the time lapse. I ended up shooting late and into the early morning when yet another pretty cool laid back guy by the name of James stopped by for a chit-chat. I got a lot of good tips on accessing some vantage points I’ve been wanting to shoot for a while now. Very nice guy. In all it was a great SF excursion, with lots of great people and a really relaxing time in a great city.
I did time lapses of both scenes above and below as well. Will post those once I’m done processing all the frames.
UPDATE: I posted more thoughts on this subject and a reader’s comment Here.
So I just remembered tonight there was a full moon. I hurriedly pulled out my camera gear (it was already close to 10:30pm) and headed for the back yard. There were some nice clouds passing over the moon and I thought it should make for a great time lapse. Then wondered what camera should I use?? I remembered the 7D and my 70-200mm f/2.8 IS II gave me a spectacular image with the ease of a point and shoot. But that was over a year ago and now I have the 5D Mark-III. But then I thought it’s full frame sensor meant less coverage of the point in the sky (moon) I was trying to photograph. But it had a technically superior sensor and higher overall resolution. I thought this might be enough to match the high pixel density of the 7D.
I was wrong. This was one of the classic examples of a situation where the 7D is just a way better camera for the job hands down. Both shots were at f/4, ISO-100 and 1/1000 second. AF on and IS on (mode 1). At ISO-100, there was no advantage to the newer 5D Mark-III sensor. Both were right at home with the higher shutter speed. AF was spot on and on the 7D seemed a hair more confident/quicker than the 5D Mark III. Yes, I know the DIGIC5 processor is supposed to be 17x faster than the DIGIC 4 but as a software engineer I’m pretty sure having a processor dedicated to AF (7D has Dual DIGIC4 Processors) means parallel AF processing. In real life it’s either a wash or still a better performing configuration than a single DIGIC5.
This simple quick and rough test just confirmed my suspicions and what I’ve always tried to explain to some fellow photo geeks. Just because it’s a full frame camera does not necessarily mean it captures more detail in the true technical sense. The comparison here shows the 7D delivering the full moon with easily 2 times the number of pixels the 5D Mark-III and with similar clarity and sharpness using the same lens and settings.
I still maintain, for most other general scenarios and large field of view the 5D Mark-III will yield a superior image. However the 7D with it’s considerably higher pixel density will always yield much more detail (in this case, twice the detail). This is one of the many real life, real world scenarios that no ISO-Chart, spec sheet regurgitating blogging, rent-a-camera-for-a-weekend-reviewer will ever tell you. If you haven’t yet figured it out, I pretty much loathe most of the talking/blogging heads on the web just echoing whatever everyone else says.
This is one reason why I still hang onto my 7D. It is an amazing camera system. However it is imperative that a 7D owner only mount the best lens optics that money can buy because of the unforgiving and high pixel densities. The key is to know your shooting style, know and understand your camera system to make full use of it’s potential.
Yes I do own both camera systems and actively shoot both.