Monday, November 30, 2009

More White Pelicans

On a nicer and better lit day than the previous shoot, I again tried the 7D versus the white pelicans. This time, I used a polarizing filter with the 100-400mm IS lens. I stayed a long time, filled up the 8GB card, edited the card, filled it again, edited it again and filled it again – all on the same battery! I was impressed.

Sometimes I was shooting birds in the sky, sometimes birds in the water and sometimes birds against a backdrop of foliage. I experimented with the auto focus settings as well as Av and manual exposure modes. It seems to me that the best results were with the single center AF point and AI Servo in manual exposure mode. Usually the exposure was around 1/1000 at f8 and ISO 800 (about two stops lost to the polarizing filter).

All in all, I was happy with the 7D and am beginning to feel better about my own skills with it. Here are a few of the better shots.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

7D Tutorial Videos

Canon's Digital Learning Center has a series of 16 tutorial videos on the EOS 7D -- well worth checking out!

Monday, November 23, 2009

7D Hannah

Having previous posted a series on portraits and depth of field based on my G9, I decided to repeat one shot using the 7D. Fortunately, Hannah was still available. The 7D was fitted with a Canon 85mm f1.8 and set in Av mode for f1.8 at ISO 100. The setup and distances were roughly the same as previously posted with the G9.

It was a nice clear day outside and even at ISO 100, the shutter speed was 1/8000 second! Incredible as this seems, it actually is almost exactly the “Sunny Sixteen” exposure albeit shifted quite a bit. The combination of sunlight and concrete made for very harsh lighting and I give full credit to Hannah for not squinting. But, getting back to the point, notice the blurred background. In fact, notice the slight blur of the front tire!

With the setup and a patience model, I just had to try a few shots using the 7D as a trigger for a 580EX flash outdoors. The 7D flash system is very intriguing and I’ll be learning more about it. In fact, I learned something today.

I first attempted to place the 580EX slightly behind Hannah to provide a bit of back lighting and separation from the background. The 580EX simply would not flash. Hand-holding the 7D, I was about 20 feet away. It turns out that you have to remember to turn it on! But even then it would not fire until the 7D was about 4 feet away. I could see the red light blinking on the 580EX but finally realized that the 580EX was seeing a tiny little pop-up flash and a huge bright sun. With the 580EX facing away from the sun, the 7D will easily trigger it from 20 feet away. Lesson learned.

Taking another approach to lighting Hannah, I decided to underexpose the background and use the 580EX to light Hannah from camera right. Accomplishing this was made complicated because the sync speed of the 7D is limited to 1/250 second and at 1/250 second, the ambient exposure was f11. Giving it a try, I switched to manual mode and set 1/250 second and f22 – about two stops underexposed for the background. The 7D flash system was set to an 8:1 ratio for the external flash. The result – first attempt! – is below.

Not too bad for a first try and definitely better than most of my first guesses with fully manual exposure and manual flash.

I like the ability to blur the background and the opportunity to use my 85mm lens with the 7D. As a flash trigger, the 7D seems OK outdoors with a range of 20 to 25 feet provided the auxiliary flash can see the 7D without also seeing the sun.

Friday, November 20, 2009

7D around the Harbor


I took the 7D and 70-200mm IS f2.8 for an early morning walk around the beach and harbor hoping for a few good shots in addition to a practice session. The image above was the very first shot and is the in-camera JPEG. I’ve decided that I prefer the “Landscape” profile instead of the “Standard” profile. The difference as indicated by the menu is only one more notch of sharpness for Landscape but it seems to me that there are additional differences. Anyway, all these shots were taken with the Landscape profile.

Although the sky was rapidly brightening, a part of the harbor was still somewhat dark so I was tinkering with various ISO, aperture and shutter speeds. A few birds were flying so I increased the shutter speed to 1/800 and tried my hand at BIF (which I learned only recently is “Bird in Flight”!) without much success. The shot below was taken at ISO 400, f8 and 1/800 using AI Servo. Unfortunately, it is about 2 stops underexposed so I decided to push the exposure in the recently released ACR 5.6 RAW converter. The result was quite noisy so Noiseware was applied to reduce the noise. The resulting cropped shot below probably represents ¼ the original image size. Not very good but at least somewhat usable.

Later that morning, I came across some fishermen cleaning their catch and attracting many Brown Pelicans. This became a very active shooting session with many quick shots and much movement. All in all, I was more satisfied with the 7D than with my own skills.

The shots above and below would be more impressive if cropped but give an idea of the scene quickly developing in front of me. I was literally just swinging the 7D to my eye and pressing the shutter button.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

7D: White Pelicans at LSU



Adjoining Louisiana State University are several small man-made lakes and one larger lake, University Lake. Apparently these lakes were dredged from swampland many years ago. University Lake has a nice walking path – about 4 or 5 miles around, I think. University Lake is a also good place to try new photo gear. One of my favorite photos was taken here. I finally got a chance to try the 7D with the 15-85mm at the lake and got the shot above plus a few ducks. Then the pelicans returned.

White Pelicans are sometimes seen during the late fall in these lakes. Apparently the LSU lakes are a convenient stop-over on the migratory path from Canada to South America.

The White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) is a large bird some four to 6 feet tall with a wing span up to nine feet. Although predominately white, their wing tips are black and their bill is orange.

These large birds are graceful in flight but, unlike the Brown Pelican, do not dive for food. Instead of diving, White Pelicans work together to gather fish while swimming. Watching a flock of White Pelicans swimming, it is easy to imagine that they are herding fish! Each bird is said to need about four pounds of fish daily.

White Pelicans are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1972.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rethinking DOF


For my 7D, I’m recalibrating myself when setting the aperture. One of the complaints – or benefits – of my G9 was the extreme depth of field that was in focus. In fact, getting a blurred background was a challenge when using the G9. Further, because the sweet spot for the G9 was around f4, my choice was usually f4 or so. After two years of primarily using the G9, this choice became habitual.

For the same f-stop, the depth of field with the 7D is considerably less than the G9. For this shot, I was using the 7D with 15-85mm lens set at 70mm and f8. This image was down sampled from the in-camera JPEG. From roughly six feet away, the depth of field is only about seven inches. I focused on the face but clearly the hand is not in focus even in this downsized image. With my G9 at f8, the depth of field (for the same image size) would have been about 22 inches. Even with my G9 at f4, the depth of field would have been about 10 inches.

I’m not particularly bothered by the hand being out of focus here; in fact, that’s OK. I do wish the little bird were a little better focused though. The slightly upward and left-right angle of this shot puts the bird at the edge of focus and a bit soft. I should have shot this one at f11 or even f16 and focused more towards the beard. The depth of field at f16 would have been (coincidentally) 16 inches.

I knew to use higher f-stop numbers with the 7D but habits are hard to break.

Friday, November 6, 2009

7D Review

DPreview has posted its review of the Canon 7D. I'm glad I got mine!