Friday, October 31, 2008

Hawloween Treats

I have two treats for you little photography monsters today. Both are based on other sites so I'll give you a little run down and then the links.

The first is a perfectly suited article for Halloween as it involves cadavers. Actually it involves your dead body. Once you pass away, oh, and you will pass away, what happens to your on-line blogs and images? Do they go off to Web Heaven?

If you think about it a little it is kind of creepy. Depending on which site you are on, your image and immortalized words could be on-line forever or until you delete them. Oh wait, you wont be able to. Your spouse or children perhaps? Chances are they do not know about all you photo and blog sites and besides it will be the very last thing they will be thinking about as they are lowering your body into the crypt.

Read this article "What happens to your web stuff when you die?" at techradar.com. It discusses legal issues as well.

This second article is not as creepy but it is a great treat. Most of you know Popular Photography Magazine as being one of the best magazines around and their web site PopPhoto.com is just as good. Have you ever dreamed of having you photo published in this or other magazines?

It's not all that difficult, just go out and get the best photo the world has ever seen and send a copy in to every magazine in the world and someone will publish it. All kidding aside, PopPhoto.com has a great on-line How-To video entitled "Tips for getting in the pages of Popular Photography Magazine".

Now you may not necessarily want to get into the magazine but this video will give you some great photography insights and some valuable tips.

Enjoy!

New Poll

I have posted a new poll. It is on 'Bokeh'. Please look to the right hand side column and please answer the question. You will not be graded on this, this is a poll to see what people 'think' Bokeh is. Please do not look it up, just answer as best you can. You can vote until Friday November 7th, 2008 at which time there will be a new poll posted.

I will be posting an article on Bokeh that should answer all your questions once the poll has ended.

© 2008 Francois Cleroux

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Quality Affair

This is the second article on the 'Basic Concepts' of Photography and a general framework for upcoming blogs that will teach you what you need to know. The first was based on giving the reader an understanding of basic Exposure, what it is and how it relates to Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO and Light.


In this second article I write about a second topic that I believe readers need to understand before we move on and get started from the beginning. This basic concept is essential to great photography and it is the basis for achieving high quality images. It is the pure and simple concept of 'quality' or what I like to call 'The Art of Photography.

Photography is a skill much like blacksmithing, woodworking or even writing. There are rules and theories that must be learned and basic skills that need to be mastered. And, much like the other 'arts', it needs to be mastered to become technically proficient to be able to create high quality photographs. I know what you are going to say here, 'What about . . ." yes, I know. Just remember that the best artist can design a great and worldly sword, but he will not be able to craft it without the blacksmithing skills that are learned over many years of apprenticeship.

The point is that the 'Art of Photography is not 'Photography as Art!' Yes an artist can use Photography as a medium to create visual images but even the best artist could not create a high quality image without and understanding or mastery of photography. That is what this blog is about, the Art of Photography. About the skills required and the knowledge and understanding required to create very high quality images.

Then, as someone that as mastered the techniques of photography, you will be able to use your artistic talents to create incredible high quality art.

We need to define 'high quality' if we are going to give ourselves a goal that we want to achieve or attain before we can call ourselves masters. We also need a list of the required basic skills that we need to learn. And like with any other craft, we need to study the works of other masters. Once we fully understand and have mastered all the basics, techniques, styles and rules that govern the Art of Photography, we will have the knowledge and tools required to create masterpieces.


Now obviously I will not be able to teach you to become a true 'master'. But, trying your best to achieve the greatest possible results, is all we can ask.

As far as setting a goal for ourselves here I think that a proper understanding of the basics are a must, and I will list these in an upcoming blog. Setting a goal that is achievable by everyone that reads this blog is also important. How about a simple task such a printing an 8" x 10" image that is Tack Sharp, properly Exposed and White Balanced and at least properly Composed as per Standard Composition Rules! I would suggest that the average DSLR is capable of doing this at 11" x 14", but then everyone would need to buy a new printer which is just not feasible. If you would like to raise the stakes a little and to push your limits, you could always take half of your Digital Negative and then print that at 8" x 10".

Readers may ask why printing a high quality image is so important? Why can we not simply just post images to the web? The answer is rather simple and yet shocking. The Internet, Computers and Digital Picture Frames are solely responsible to the decline in general photographic quality and it is an on going trend. I could argue this point at many levels and from many angles, but I will give a few simple basic reasons here and save the details and other reasons for upcoming articles.

Digital images are first and foremost limited by the technology of digital imaging. The technology has greater limits that are inherent in the digital world that are not in film. Parameters like limits imposed by digital sensors such as Tonal Range, Noise, and Colorspace can all have negative effects. But the biggest reasons for common day poor quality is the use of images on digital equipment. People rarely ever have images enlarged nowadays to 11" x 14" or larger but rather usually just view images on computer monitors and digital picture frames. On occasion standard 4" x 6" prints are made and passed around.

Why would this be such a problem? The limits imposed by digital cameras are further enhanced or rather further limited by digital display. Digital displays almost always have lower resolution and again almost always have much smaller Colorspaces. These two factors alone cause people to look at images that may look great on a monitor, but will almost always look like poor quality images once enlarged onto photographic paper. Colors will not look accurate, White Balance will usually be off, Tonal Range will be very poor and the Details that create Tack Sharp images will just not be present. Correcting or adjusting these images often just creates more problems and usually only introduces more noise.

Some users are told by professionals and others including the Media to us RAW images. But without that proper understanding of the basics and the knowledge of what a RAW image is, they will often not be much better off. Have they set the right Colorspace on their Camera? Have they set a proper Colorspace on their computer and set their RAW software to create 16 bit images?

Then, getting back to the basics was the Exposure perfect to start with? Without proper exposure it can be very difficult to achieve great prints. These concepts of Colorspace, White Balance, 8 Bit versus 16 Bit may be foreign to you (or may not be), but they are all just as important as proper exposure. You will learn these skills and concepts in your Journey Through the Art of Photography.

© 2008 Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.00 - October 2008)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Sticky Situation

Mounting images to backing boards for framing or for presentations or for competition submission can be a tricky thing to try for someone that has never attempted it before. You need to worry about centring the image and laying it down square to the backing board and then making sure it is laying perfectly flat.

Most people on their first attempt try to use the basic 'Scotch' brand double sided tape they have left over from Christmas. Unfortunately this tape just does not stick well enough and images will just peel off the backing board over a short period of time or from the heat of the 'judges' viewing lamps.

After a little research they realize they need to use a better quality double sided tape designed for this purpose and they usually also learn that they should use 'Acid Free' or 'Archival Quality' tape.

This tends to usually cost much more and is a little more difficult to work with. Also, because it sticks so well it also you can inadvertently lay the image down or accidentally have the tape come into contact over the wrong area of the backing board and poof, the image or backing board gets damaged.

Today while shopping at my favourite Art Shop Opus Framing (OpusFraming.com) the always friendly and helpful staff pointed me in the direction of what they told me is a great new product. I purchased this product and went on to my Photography Club Meeting where I dropped off three images for an upcoming competition, the Delta Photo Challenge that I had mounted with good double sided tape.

During the meeting all I kept thinking about was this great new stick of Acid Free Photo Glue specifically designed for mounting photos to standard black album pages. I was told that it also works great for backing boards and proper mats. Wow, a glue stick. Remember the old yellow Uhu glue sticks from school? Well its just like that. While sitting there I imagined running this stick along all four edges and then laying the image onto the board. Done. Way easier than the tape!

The product is called Itoya Art ProFolio Brand Photo Glue. This glue is supposed to be Acid Free, is not supposed to discolour or warp images, dries clear and is designed to be permanent. They do recommend 'testing' the product out with your specific photos and boards or paper first.

ItoyaGlue

I will be in Hawaii for two weeks but upon my return I will be trying this product out. I purchased three sticks and gave several away for others to try out and give me their input. I will let you know how it works out.

If you want to check it out for yourself, check it out here:

http://www.itoya.com/Catalogs/Glue/GS100.htm

If you already have experience with this product. Please let me know.

2011-0208 Update - Although I like the simplicity of this product as it is quick and easy, I have however had it fail on several occasions. The Glue Fails and doesn't hold the image onto the backing board. I have had this happen with different papers but always on standard 4 Ply plain backing boards. I also tried this with a ton of glue and it has also failed. Dissapointing!

© 2008 Francois Cleroux

(Version 2.00 - February 2011)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In the News

A Reuters news report about a little company called Canon.

"Canon Inc. posted a 26-percent fall in quarterly operating profit and cut its outlook to below market expectations after the global slowdown sent the yen higher and hit demand for copiers and digital cameras. Operating profit at Canon came in at $1.77-billion dollars CDN in July, down from $2.35-billion CDN a year earlier. For calendar 2008, Canon cut its operating profit forecast by 25 per cent to $7.94-billion CDN."

Canon closed Tuesday October 28, 2008 on NYSE at $28.43 U.S. up $4.39 U.S. on the day.

How will they ever live with only $7.94-billion CDN for one year? Many people do not realize just how big a company Canon is. Canon employs over 127,000 people. Last year their sales of Digital Cameras out sold ALL other brands combined. Yet, their camera sales only account for a small percentage of the companies total revenues.

© 2008 Francois Cleroux

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Apertures, Shutter Speeds, ISO and Exposures Oh My!

This is the very first in a series of articles on Photography Basics. Although this is not the final article on Exposure, Apertures, Shutter Speeds and ISO, I would like the readers of this Blog to understand at least the basic principles of Exposures before I start. I'll try to basically explain 'Exposure', and then you can use the information for doing a little more studying. I usually recommend to people that ask the basic questions, to go out and buy a "Basic" Photography book and that will teach them most of what they need to learn. You can then use the book to guide you along and even a used cheap book works because you can use the book as a reference and guide to do more research on the Internet to find what you are looking for.

F-Numbers, F-Stops, Aperture, Lens Opening – These are refer to the same thing and this is usually the most confusing. But let’s start with Exposure as it deals with the F-Number, The Shutter Speed and the ISO.

Exposure is defined as such, “In photography, exposure is the total amount of light allowed to fall on the photographic medium (photographic film or image sensor) during the process of taking a photograph. Exposure is measured in Lux Seconds, and can be computed from Exposure Value (EV) and Scene Luminance.”

For now lets not worry at all about the Lux Seconds, Exposure Values and Scene Luminance. These are confusing on their own even for professionals and will be subjects of future articles. What we are concerned about here is Exposure with your digital camera, how bright or how dark, you final image will be.

The four factors that determine your exposure are the following:

1 - Available light

This you have no control over in most settings but you can always add lighting or use a flash. This would increase the available light but generally for this discussion, think of it as the natural light available without adding any extra light. It may be a grey day or a sunny day or you may be in the shade... the lighting always varies.

2 - ISO

This translates into the 'Light Sensitivity' of you cameras sensor. In the good old days of film, different chemicals and dyes were used to make the film. Some were more sensitive to light than others. The more sensitive the film, the least amount of light required to give you a 'proper' exposure. Today, with Digital Cameras it is the same except using electricity and different sensor designs they can make the sensor more or less sensitive to light.

The sensitivity of a film was measured in ISO (or in DIN or ASA before ISO became a standard). On a digital camera the ISO is a measurement of a digital camera's imaging sensor's sensitivity to light. This sensitivity can be adjusted.

50 100 200 400 800 1600 3200

Numbering for ISO on a digital Camera is usually 100 ISO to 1600 ISO. 100 ISO being the least sensitive but will give you the best results. The higher the Sensitivity, the more ‘Noise’ or stray pixels that will be introduced into the final image. Generally ISO’s of 100 to 400 are used.

Each ISO lets in half as much light as the next number. Remember that.

3 - F-Stop

This is usually the hardest one to get a handle on for most beginners. The F-Stop is a number that is derived from a mathematical formula that corresponds to the amount of light that is let in through the lens based on the size of the 'hole' in the lens. The 'hole' is usually made up of several blades in a diaphragm that can actually change the size of the 'hole' from a tiny hole to a 'hole' as big as the optics of the lens will allow.

Lens

This 'hole’ is actually called the Aperture and it is measured in F-Stops. This is where the confusion comes is. The logic here is simple, the bigger the hole, the more light comes into the camera. Simple. However, the F-Stop numbering system works backwards because of the formula. So, f/3.5 is a big hole (more light) and f/22 is a small hole (less light).

Here is a scale of Apertures - Starting with the largest Aperture, so the most light.

image

Here is a Diagram showing Aperture for an unspecified Lens. Note that Aperture sizes are dependent on the focal length of a lens.

image

Each F-Stop Number lets in twice as much light as the next number. Remember that.

So, using the F-Stops or 'F Numbers' you can control how much light comes into the camera. The F-Stops also control what is called Depth-Of-Field. I will save discussing this Depth-Of-Field thing which is not related to exposure until another day.

What adds to the confusion here is that when someone talks about 'Aperture' are they talking about the 'hole size' or the 'Aperture Number' (F-Stop Number)?

One give away is the term 'Lower' and Smaller'. A 'Lower' Aperture is a reference to the F-Stop Number. A Smaller Aperture is a reference to the Aperture or size of the hole. But, if I say Bigger, you do not know what I am talking about. I could be talking about a bigger hole or bigger number? When discussing Aperture it is very important to state what parameter you are discussing.

4 - Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is measured in Seconds and it controls how long the cameras sensor is exposed to light. Also a very simple concept. Un-like the inverse results of the f-number vs. the amount of light, shutter speeds are easy to understand. 1 second, 2 seconds and so on, these would be considered as long exposures. On the shorter side you would have 1/60 of a second, 1/125th, of a second and so on, easy to understand.

Here is a Shutter Speed Scale in seconds - Starting with the fastest Shutter Speed, so the least amount of light.

image

Each Shutter Speed allows half as much light as the next number. Remember that also!

In the end, this also controls how much light goes into the camera based on time. This Time Setting can determine if a photo is blurry or not. If you used a 5 second exposure, could you sit perfectly still for 5 full seconds?? You shutter speed also controls "Motion Blur" or rather blur caused by moving objects.

Back to Exposure

So given a specific scene, say a House Sparrow on a branch. Based on 1) the available light and based on 2) the Sensitivity of the Sensor (ISO 200 for this example) a correct exposure would be calculated by your camera and usually given to you in an Automatic Mode.

HouseSparrow-5710-1000

To calculate this Exposure your camera doesn't know it's looking at a Bird on a Branch, but rather thinks it is looking at a whole scene that is perfectly 18% Grey. (I will write another blog about this 18% Grey as it is the basis for understanding exposure).

So, for this example lets say the camera suggests using an F-Stop of f/8 and a Shutter Speed of 1/125th of a second. Those are the settings you would need to use to get a correct exposure or a ‘Properly Exposed Photo’. Not too light and not too dark.

This leaves you two controls. You could leave the shutter speed at 1/125th second and change the Aperture. Changing the Aperture to f/4, Bigger Hole, would let in more light and would lighten your photo. An Aperture of f/11 or f/16 would make the hole smaller and would let in less light making your photo darker.

Conversely, Leaving the Aperture at f/8 and changing the shutter speed you could darken the scene by using a faster shutter speed (less light) or brighten it by using a slower shutter speed (more light).

This is where the fun comes in and where you as a photographer and artist can control what is going on. Remember I suggested that the Aperture controls the Depth-Of-Field and that the Shutter Speed can control "Motion Blur"? Well, the camera lets you take a ton of different settings while ALWAYS making things perfectly exposed.

Back to our example. If f/8 at 1/125th of a second is a correct exposure, then we could keep the exposure (the total amount of light going into the camera) the same by changing the shutter speed higher or lower, and then adjusting the Aperture to make sure we have the same amount of light in the end.

What is nice is that the Full F-Stops and Full Shutter Speeds each allow half as much (or twice as much) light as previous or next numbers. (You remembered this right?)

So with our example of f/8 at 1/125th of a second. We could change the settings to f/4 (twice as much light) and to 1/250th of a second (half as much light) and still have a perfectly exposed scene (or bird in this case). By making these changes and then appropriate corresponding changes to keep the exposure correct you can control the shutter speed and apertures you want so you have full control of Blur caused by movement or Depth-Of-Field.

This then lays the ground work for many upcoming blogs. Hope you enjoyed it.

© 2008 Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.11 - October 2008)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Directions

People have asked me to teach them photography in this blog. They would like me to explain the Apertures, Shutter Speeds and all the other relevant photography basics.

I do realize that there are sites for that but I would like to help them out here. I also understand that I have intermediate and advanced amateurs here at Eyes On Photography and we even have a few professionals. I would not want to loose these viewers by boring them with a ton of 'basic' articles.

Since starting this site I have pondered this dilemma of what to write and blog about, what subjects would I include and what articles I would write. In order to keep things interesting for everyone, here is the basic format I will use.

I will intersperse the following types of subjects in future blogs:

Photography Basics (Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, etc.)

Although these are the basic building blocks of photography I will try to make them understandable by beginners and yet filled with relevant content and tips for the intermediate and advanced photographer. Within the next few days I will post a basic Exposure article about Aperture, Shutter Speeds and ISO and will later follow it up with more detailed blogs and will continue on to other basics. I will keep these structured and in a relevant order for beginners to learn.

Cleroux02-LionsMoon-Pan1b
Lion's Gate Bridge, Vancouver, BC, Canada
"Lion's By Moonlight"

Photography Techniques (Night Photography, Fireworks, Bird, etc)

Here I will post what appeals to me based on the photography I do and based on requests from readers. If you would like some specific information or tips, please ask.

Technical Articles (White Balance, Quality, Printing, etc.)

I have already posted two Technical Articles. The first was entitled "Start to Finish 'Tack' Sharp" and the second was an article on Lens Cleaning entitled "To Clean or Not to Clean, That Is the Lens Cleaning Question." I will shortly follow these up with an article on "Quality in Photography" which will lay the framework for a series on how to achieve the ultimate quality print photographs.

Product Reviews (Software, Hardware, Gadgets, etc.)

This is self explanatory here. Arriving shortly will be a Canon 50D review, an HP Mini PC review, and several reviews and product comparisons on Compact Flash Cards and Readers. I will also shortly be reviewing some Software and Plug-ins.

Social & Political Issues (Netiquette, Photo Politics, etc.)

This will be a little more interesting. I will cover subjects like "How to Get On the Web" about your Web presence and "Netiquette on Social Photography Web Sites". I will have Legal topics about your rights as a photographer, copyright and how to protect your images. This will be a wide and varied area of topic coverage.

Links (Books, Sites, Products etc.)

This is fairly self explanatory and I have already posted such a blog, 'Read, Learn and Even Get Published.'

Photos

Finally I will be posting my photos. These I will post within my blogs but I will create blog 'Albums' like my 'Bird Album' that I will continually update. I will also on occasion post a link to some incredible photo that I may find on the World Wide Web.

If I have missed something here or if you would like to read something specific, please ask.

© 2008 Francois Cleroux

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bird Photography Tips

Birds are special creatures and thus they need to be handled in different ways than most other photography subjects. I have posted some photos that people seem to really like and many have asked me how I managed to get the photos and some have asked me for tips. Here is a list of things that I have learned mostly by trial and error.

Tip #1: Wear Neutral Colors

Don't wear bright colors. It’s not so you can hide (because you can’t, they see everything), it is that most birds are afraid of bright colors. It scares them. You can get closer walking straight towards them in neutral colors than with bright colors.

Tip #2: Camera Setup

You almost always want a good fast shutter speed. So unless its sunny and very bright, set your ISO to 400 and set your camera on APERTURE priority. Yes, aperture and not shutter priority. Set your Aperture at your lowest f-stop. That way with the low f-stop and high ISO you will always have the fastest shutter speed available to you based on any lighting conditions.

Tip #3: The Base

Use a tripod with a good ball head. The best head to get is a Wimberly Head which allows for quick and easy movement in any direction and makes it very easy to track birds in flight. Or, as I do most of the time, use a good Monopod! I use the Giottos MM-8660 6 Section Carbon Pro Monopod with a good Giottos head mounted on it. Your zoom lens at 300mm or 400mm will be next to impossible to hold steady by hand.

Tip #4: Knowledge

Know your Bird. A good knowledge and understanding of the bird you are trying to photograph is vital. Know where they live, what they eat, their mating and nesting habits and their peculiarities. Observe them, know them. Knowing what to expect at all times is vital. While you are at it spend some time in the evenings to find out what they are, species, sex and even their proper Latin names. It can be very rewarding.

Tip #5: Time

This is part of tip number four. Know when to find birds. Most birds will be out and about early in the morning. Get up early to catch them. Some birds will be feeding in the afternoons and some in the late afternoons. Learn their daily schedules. Knowledge of the seasons is also important as many birds are migratory and may be in your area only during certain times of the year. Learn their seasonal schedules. Remember, the Early Bird gets the photograph.

Tip #6: The Approach

Walk so ever slowly. Never move your arms or camera quickly. Never walk straight towards them. Walk at a 45 degree angle towards them and then switch back the other way. Just like you would TACK a sail boat heading into the wind.

Tip #7: Be Ready

ALWAYS be ready to zoom out just a little and to hold the shutter down as they will take off at any moment without notice. Or even better, they may jump down to catch prey or other food. They will do that even when you are there. Food is food. ‘Syd’ the Red Tailed Hawk that I have in many photographs caught a frog while I was shooting one day but the grass was long and did not get a shot of the “capture”. My three photo time lapse of Syd taking off I captured because I was expecting him to take off at any moment.

Launch
Syd the Red-Tailed Hawk - "Launch"

Tip #8: Focus

Always focus on the eyes. Birds can look intelligent and understanding. People naturally look at the birds eyes so they must be in sharp focus.

Tip #9: Catchlight

Its important to make the bird look alive. The best way to do that is to have 'Catch Light' in their eyes. This can be difficult to do on a darker grey day with no direct sunlight. Using a flash can help a great deal.

Tip #10: Use a Flash

What? Use a flash for bird photography? Yes! Many pros use flash for bird and other wildlife photography. Start by using a high power flash such as the Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash or the Nikon SB-800 AF Speedlight Flash. Then add the world famous The Flash X-Tender (Better Beamer) FX-3 Flash Output Booster for Canon 580EX. There are other models available for other flash units. The extra light provided by the flash will add contrast to your image, Catchlight to the birds eye, and will help Freeze the action. A great must have add-on that works for other photography including night time sports!

FlashExtender

Tip #11: Shallow Depth-of-Field

This is easy if you follow tip number two. By isolating the bird using shallow depth of field (low aperture number), the background will be much less distracting.

Tip #12: Blur

Most photos of birds even in flight look better when sharp and frozen in time. This is a natural thing as we usually never see these great creatures “frozen in time”. When we do there is more of an awe factor than when we see a blurred image of a bird. Having said that, on occasion a blurred image can work, such as the photo of the American Kestrel or the Happy Feet photo of the Tree Swallow posted in my bird album.

Tip #13: Stay Low

If the Bird is on the ground, get on the ground. Yes, stay low to the ground as you would photographing a rabbit or other small creature. Time to get on your belly!

Tip #14: Befriend

Yes you can befriend birds. Syd the Hawk now lets me get within about 25 feet of him if I take my time. That is four or five times closer than I could when we first met. Birds and others creatures will eventually get used to you. Go visit everyday.

Tip #15: Don’t Feed

Song birds and other common birds can be enticed with food but as a naturalist, I do not recommend doing that. Several issues here. One, do not feed Raptors such as Hawks and Eagles. Feeding Raptors can make them get lazy and can make them get too accustomed to easy food and to people. This can lead them to getting into trouble with farmers and such and can get them shot. Yes, shot with a gun. If you think that doesn’t happen, please call you local bird or raptor rescue organization. Let them be. The second problem, feeding song birds and such is that you can usually see the food and then it looks like a bird eating food it has been given. Photos then tend to not look ‘wild’ but rather setup.

Tip #16: Go alone

Birds get scared. They also do not like noise from people talking and such. You will get better results alone.

Tip #17: Practice

Practice, Practice, Practice! Start with slow moving or easy to photograph birds such as Crows, Seagulls’ or Ducks. Move on to song birds or other local birds you want to photograph. Keep at it. Go out everyday to find the same birds and keep trying. First, it will make you just get better at it and second, you may just luck out and be at the right place at the right time. This can only happen if you are out shooting! You can’t get a great bird photo from the couch with a beer in your hand and a remote in the other. Perhaps unless you have your camera mounted out back on a tripod with a motion sensor ready to capture a hummingbird or something.

Tip #18: Patience

There is nothing difficult about bird photography and I can't emphasize tip number 18 hard enough. A big part of the whole process is to keep at it. By spending time with the birds, you will be there when one lands right by you, or when a hawk scoops up some little squirrel while you are ready with camera in hand. You need patience. Keep at it as it can take a year or more to get a few really good photos.

Tip #19: Get Some Professional Help

Oh, and the best part is that this is free! Get in touch with local birding groups. Attend an evening or a session and ask them where the birds are. There may be one bird you are trying to capture in your area but because of conditions it may be difficult to get that perfect shot. A short drive from a quick tip from the birders could get you to a location where there are twenty or so of the birds!

Tip #20: Shoot RAW

Bird Photography doesn’t lend itself to taking the time to get the best exposures and to ask the birds not to move while you meter them and make adjustments for back lighting and other issues. RAW will give you the most adjustable results.

Tip #21: Shoot Smooth

Using a long 400mm lens or 500mm lens hand help or even on a tripod can be difficult at best of times with a moving subject. It can be specially difficult in low light situations or with slower lenses. You need to practice shooting 'smoothly'. Steady your stance, don't hold the camera too tightly, pan your way along with the bird and follow through until after the shutter has been released. The bird doesn't stop when you press the shutter.

Whatever you do, just go out and do it. Keep at it, have fun, and respect the birds! You will be rewarded with great photos!

© 2008 Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.2 October 2008)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

For the Love of Birds

This post originally dated October 22, 2012 has been updated and the new post can be viewed here. The new post also contains some different images.

After picking up photography again in November 2007 after many years of absence from the art, I decided to 'Master' several subjects. The first of these I choose was 'birds'. I do not know exactly why I choose birds except perhaps it was my love of them.

This makes 'bird' photography ideal for me as I now get to do two things, well, three things I love. I get to be 'outdoors', doing 'photography' and shooting 'birds'. How much better than that can it get?

I also decided to try to make money with my bird photography and will be donating all bird image sales profits to Bird Sanctuaries and Rescue Shelters. All my bird images are for sale and 'Rights' are available for free by permission only to government registered non-profit societies for use in Print Material. Please inquire.

Here are a few of my images. This page will act as my "Bird Photography Album" and I will continually update it. You will notice my love of birds but specially of 'Raptors'. Please feel free to leave comments.

Syd the Red-Tailed Hawk - "Launch"
TreeSwallow-1024
Tree Swallow - "Tachycineta bicolor"
SydPortrait-1384-1000
Red-Tailed Hawk - "Buteo jamaicensis"
Cleroux05-Feast-0188
Red-Tailed Hawk feeding on a Mole - "Feast"
Cleroux08-Landing-3837
Red-Tailed Hawk - "Landing"
Red-wingedBlackbird-4876-1000
Red-Winged Blackbird - "Agelaius phoeniceus"
AmericanKestrel-2292-1000
American Kestrel - "Falco sparverius"
SandhillCrane-3477-1000
Sandhill Crane - "Grus canadensis"
HappyFeet-3448-1000
Tree Swallow - "Happy Feet"

Hope you enjoyed looking at these images and I hope that they can in some way inspire you to help with the care of birds or at least inspire you to photograph your love!

Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.01 -  October 2008)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

To Clean or Not to Clean? That is the question on Lens Cleaning.

The subject of Lens Cleaning has always been controversial; Liquid or Dry, Alcohol or Detergent, Cotton or Micro-fiber, Blower or Canned Air, even Filter or No Filter! With today’s new DSLR cameras now the controversy just gets added to with the whole Sensor Cleaning thing.

Cameras have advanced a long way with all the new Digital Cameras. Technology has changed and even Lens Design has improved over the years, but what about Lens Cleaning? Most photographers, Amateur and Pro alike, continue to use the old standard alcohol based liquid with a cloth. Most have now advanced this technique by using a Micro-fiber Cloth but most still put the drops directly onto the lens; “Bad Photographer!”

Cleaning your Lens the proper way is simple and quick. The principles have not changed over the years but people do need to be reminded of the basics.

Keep your lens clean. Sounds simple, but it’s the most effective thing to do. Use covers, and lens caps and always cover you camera when it is not in use. Keep both lens surfaces (front and back) and your cameras sensor away from possible dust sources. Keep your camera body facing downward when changing your lens to keep dust off the sensor. If you must lay your lens down, do so on a dust free cloth or surface. If you need to change lens in a windy or dusty environment, do so in the plastic bag that you keep handy in your gear bag. Always use the lenses front and back caps and the cameras body cap when not using the camera or storing lenses.

Keep your camera and other photography equipment dust free. Dust on the camera body, tripod, lens cap and on other equipment is usually the greatest source of the dust that ends up on you lenses, in your camera and on sensors.

If you do get dust on your lens, clean it off as soon as possible as some contaminants may damage the lenses optical coatings. Acids from the oil on you fingers if left on the lens too long can permanently damage the fine optical coatings on your lens.

The basic technique of lens cleaning still applies but it was not long ago that you would use a simple lens cleaning solution and a cloth but is there a better way to clean your lens today?

Blow any un-attached debris away using a hand held photographer’s blower such as a Hurricane Blower or the newer (and better) Giottos AA1900 Large Rocket Blaster. Blowing with your mouth is never recommended. Caution should also be taken when using canned air which is also not recommended as the contents can be expelled onto the lens or sensor which can cause damage. The high pressure of canned air can also damage shutter mechanisms.

Use a brush such as a soft sable or camel hair brush to brush away all attached debris that could cause scratches when you wipe the lens or filter. Stuck on grime and debris is the number one source of scratches on lenses. Once the optical coating is damaged, there is nothing you can do to repair it. Very often this is all that is required to clean your lens. Finger prints and smudges on the other hand will require a little more work.

Clean the lens surface with the best cleaning option available – the LensPEN Lens Cleaning System. The LensPen also includes a built in brush. Some people may think it is gimmicky especially with such a low price. After all, LensPen’s competitors all have products, dry or liquid, that cost much more but note that Nikon sells the “Nikon Lens Pen” manufactured by the LensPen people as does Canon, Kodak, SIMA, Hama, Quataray, Hakuba, Bushnell, Targus, ScopeSmith, Sigma, Vortex, Outdoor Optix, Leupold, Barska, Adorama, DotLine, and many others. It is endorsed by the NRA for cleaning scopes and binoculars and it is the recommended tool for cleaning Hasselblad Lenses by B&H Photo. It is also used by Canon Factory Technicians for cleaning Lenses and Sensors!

A caution about the LensPen. Why a caution here if the product is so good? ANY cleaning option that requires rubbing the front element of a lens can cause damage if there is any abrasive dirt or grime on the lens to start with or if there is any abrasives in the cloth or pad that will scrub the lens. This also applies to the LensPen. The LensPen also comes with recommendations on how many times you should use it before throwing it away. Please follow these and all LensPen directions.

Pure boiled cotton, commercial lens cleaning wipes and micro-fiber clothes can all scratch a lens if there is dirt on the lens to start with. That’s why dirt and debris must be blown and dusted! Cloths can also pick up dirt and grime from just lying around or from the bottom of your gear bag. If you use cloth or micro-fiber keep them in a clean sealed bag. Use disposable wipes or regularly wash your cloths.

Over the years I have found that cloths, cotton or micro-fiber tend to pick up debris from just about everywhere. Even after washing they can contain metal fragments or wood debris. After washing several times they also become magnets for lint. Wood based paper disposable cloths and even micro-fiber cloths have been shown to scratch lens coatings after repeated use. Technically you should only use your cloth once before washing it again. This is where the greatest danger of using liquid and a cloth comes from. Micro-fiber and other cloths will also create a static charge on the lens surface that will attract more dust or lint.

The many liquids I have tested over the years from Kodak, Zeis, Eclipse, ROR, Promaster Optic Clean, iClean and others ALL leave traces and streaks and usually need to be rubbed or 'buffed' off with a good micro fiber cloth. I have usually found good old water to be just as effective. For very stubborn lens spots I have found that 100% Methyl Alcohol works well. Notes: Never pour liquids directly on the lens but rather moisten a cloth. Always check with your lens manufacturer before using ANY liquids. Never use dish soap or Windex. Very old lenses from the 50s and older may require special care and handling.

If you must use a cloth the Alpine Innovations Spudz (branded as Nikon Micro Fiber Cleaning Cloth and other names) products are great but remember to wash them regularly with very little detergent and an extra rinse cycle. The best choice of cleaning cloths though and my absolute favourite is the Microdear Microfiber Deluxe Cleaning Cloth. I love this cloth and it also works wonders on your cameras LCD Screen. *Herbert Keppler of Popular Photography Magazine has raved about this product for years.

The LensPen on the other hand uses black carbon (not graphite) as a dry cleaner. A granule of black carbon is soft and on own its own cannot scratch the optical coating of your lens. The carbon however is a great non-abrasive cleaner that can absorb oil and fingerprints. Very stubborn stains can be helped along with a little moisture from your breath (this works very well). The cap of the LensPen serves several purposes in that it will protect the cleaning pad from getting dirty but it is also the mechanism by which the black carbon is replaced after every use. Un-like a liquid bottle it will never dry out nor will it ever spill! On occasion a little loose black carbon may be left on the lens which can easily be blown off with your duster.

There are now non wipe polymer based cleaning solutions available like Dantronix Research and Technology's Opticlean and Photonic's First Contact. The polymer solution is carefully “painted” onto the lens surface and then left to dry for as long as five minutes. As the polymer cures it shrinks and absorbs any contamination on the lens surface into the polymer molecule. This includes particulates as well as fingerprints, grease, oil and atmospheric pollution. When the cured film is peeled away the polymer takes all the absorbed contaminants with it leaving a molecularly clean surface. That is the theory but even Opticlean reports that *"Opticlean cannot deal with such things as dried and hardened water spots, very old finger prints, and the like." So what's the point?

These polymer cleaners come at a cost (not just money). The whole process is time consuming and the polymer itself can damage plastic parts commonly found in new lenses! These new polymer based cleaning solutions work well but I have read several reports of problems and optical coating damage. On a price per cleaning cost they tend to be rather expensive. As a field cleaning solution they are down right impractical and are best suited for studio work on more expensive medium and large format cameras. The polymer cleaners are also highly flammable and will be taken away when going through most airports!

All in all the LensPen is much more convenient than a polymer based cleaning solution and even faster and more convenient than a liquid and cloth based cleaning solution. The Pen is small and easy to store verses a cloth that needs to be kept in a bag away from dirt and a bottle of liquid. The black carbon cleaner is safe and effective. As the LensPen comes with a brush, the only extra cleaning apparatus you will need is a blower. The cost of the LensPen is very cost effective. I now never leave home without my LensPen.

Need your sensor cleaned? LensPen also makes a great sensor cleaner that is even used by Canon Factory reps. The Lenspen Sensor Klear Pen for CCD Sensorsworks great. The story is that the Canon Factory Technicians used to purchase regular round LensPens and then cut the pads into square and triangular shapes so that they could reach the corners of the sensors. 'Voilla' the Sensor Pen was born.

The LensPen people also make other great products, check them out at www.lenspen.com.

On Cleaning Filters - Never use a liquid based cleaners on filters as many common cleaning agents can damage some filter coatings. A cleaning solution that works on a Hoya UV filter may damage a Hoya Haze filter. Always check your filter manufacturers recommendations. If in doubt, use warm clean water dropped onto a clean non-abrasive cloth. Your best bet however is to use your LensPen!

*Herbert Keppler of Popular Photography Magazine passed away in January of 2008. For more on Herbert Keppler check out PopPhoto.
*
As reported on Opticlean: The long-awaited review by R. Lee Hawkins of Whitin Observatory, Wellesley College.

© 2008 Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.2 October 2008)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas or suggestions.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Travelling With Photography Gear

Choosing a travel bag can be fairly complicated. Taking into account the many brands and models of bags and the different sizes and options available, it can get very complicated. Then, finding one that is large enough for all your gear but small enough to take on to an airplane without any complications is another whole matter.

Last year was on a trip to Australia. I travelled all over Australia by plane and by car. I also did a lot of walking and a bit of hiking. At every moment I had my camera with me. I had brought the following gear along with me:

Canon EOS 40D 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM SLR Lens
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 DO IS USM Lens
Canon - Macro lens - 100 mm - f/2.8 USM - Canon EF

I managed to pack all this into a Lowepro SlingShot 300 All-Weather Camera Bag (Black). Apart from a few Filters and Compact Flash Cards, and a small Tripod I had brought nothing else along, not even an External Flash. There was not enough room for anything else. Although, I could have fit another lens or flash into the upper compartment.

I chose this bag after trying out a whole slew of them at a local Camera Store. The bag is a single shoulder strap bag with a waist belt that easily slides under your arm to your front side for easy access to your gear. Access is very easy as the main compartment access panel is on the side and it is large enough to easily remove a large DSLR camera with lens attached.

When properly cinching up the waist band to can remove all the weight from the large well padded 'single' shoulder strap. An upper compartment was great for small accessories and is large enough for a small easy to crumple wind breaker.

The LowePro Bag is well constructed and properly padded. The built in Micro Fibre Towel and the built in Rain Cover make this a great bag. Highly recommended.

I am now just about to leave for Hawaii and I have since amassed more gear and actually want to bring more gear along. Mostly, I want to bring my Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Super Telephoto Lens along with the Canon EF 1.4X II Extender and a Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash. I also want to bring my HP Mini Note Laptop so that I can backup all my images onto the 160 hard drive and to continue to blog while I am away.

The existing bag with all the gear in it weighed about 11.8 Pounds. Adding the 400mm Lens, 1.4 Extender and the Speedlight 580EX will add another 4.7 Pounds for a total of 20.5 Pounds with the Laptop.

Several problems here. Will my existing bag still be comfortable with the extra weight? And the biggest problem, actually a show stopper, the extra gear will not even fit into the bag! At this point I thought about using my Hiking Bag the Tamrac 5577 Expedition 7 SLR Photo Backpack (Black) but decided that it may be to large for carry on.

Shopping on-line for a great Air Travel bag capable of carrying the gear I want to bring along proved much more difficult to find then I had anticipated. There were no magical 'Find the Right Bag for your camera gear for airline travel' sites. I did find many sites that talked about various bags, some good and others not so good.

After looking everywhere on the Net and spending a lot of time at Manufacturers sites I went to my usual place to buy, Amazon.com. By this time I had already narrowed my choices to two bags. One was the Tenba 632-333 Shootout Large Backpack with Wheels (Black) and the other was the Lowepro Rolling CompuTrekker Plus AW Camera Bag. Both these bags seemed to be large enough to carry all my gear and yet small enough for carry on air travel.


What caught my eye the most was the fact that both these bags had wheels. Yes, they were both 'BackPack' style bags but both had wheels and extension pulling handles. I would no longer have to carry my bag around the airport for several hours. After reading reviews on Amazon.com and other sites about these two bags I decided on the LowePro. It has been ordered and I will write a review on the bag after I return from Hawaii. Until then, Aloha!

© 2008 Francois Cleroux

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas or suggestions.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Winter Photography Blues

Some photographers, usually amateur photographers but even professionals, get bored as they do not know what they should go shoot next. They are looking for excitement but do not know where to find it. Their home town becomes hum drum and all they look to are dreams of new and exotic subjects to shoot on travels in some far off land.

This dilemma, a lack of what to shoot has been around for generations. What most of these photographers lack is a sense of creativity or more specifically creative thinking. I could spend hours and hours, even days shooting around my own town. I already have plans on doing shoots for the next twelve to sixteen months. Some are waiting for the right environmental weather. One is waiting on another clear moon filled sky and another on some snow. Other shoots are waiting for spring to come around and yet others are being researched so that I am ready for when the appropriate time comes. I have some that are ready to shoot but I am just waiting for some free time. All in all I think I have too much to shoot and not enough time.

I live in the tiny village of Tsawwassen, British Columbia, Canada where there is not much. I must admit that our surroundings that include the ocean and mountains are pretty spectacular being near Vancouver. Despite my living in the suburbs finding subjects are not a problem.

I long for the day when I can shoot the great old buildings and countryside’s of England, Wales and Ireland yet it was only a few months ago on another site where someone from that region of the world told me they were bored, had nothing to shot and wished they lived somewhere more exotic like Vancouver or Melbourne. I can’t be creative for you. I do not live in your town and do not know what is available to you, but I do know that given some suggestions and with a little thought, you can become more creative and a better photographer.

The first place to look for inspiration and also the best place to learn is to shoot subjects you are not familiar with? What about the basics? Do you know all about your shutter speeds and what you can do to capture “speed” and “motion” or how to freeze time in high speed situations? What about Panning? I see many amateur photographers’ images that all have standard f8 or f11 apertures and they never isolate their subjects with Depth-Of-Field and low apertures. White Balance is another big issue with most photographers, even some professional photographers do not understand the necessity of proper white balance or in some cases even the concept of White Balance. What is Bokeh? Make sure you know all your basics and that you understand them. Use your lack of knowledge as a means to learn and become a better photographer. When shooting for learning, the subject matter is not so important but make sure the subjects are appropriate for techniques you are learning. If you do not know or understand something I stated in the above paragraph, research it and learn.

Other ways of learning includes shooting subjects that you are not familiar with. Subjects like Night Photography, Panoramas, Portraits, Still Life, Animals, Sports, Snow, Sunrises, Sunsets and the Moon all pose their own technical and artistic challenges as do many other subjects. I would venture to guess that most people reading this article have not shot all the listed subject matters I just mentioned. You may argue that sports are not your interest, or that some other subject is not your interest, that is not the point. The point is to learn the challenges and techniques required to take an incredible photo under any circumstances. Learning to shoot a listless animal at a zoo is different that quickly shooting a cheetah running down an antelope on a safari or large wildlife reserve. The running cheetah would require the “sports” skills. Would you be ready to do a great job capturing the Running of the Bulls or some other exciting event should you happen upon it?

Different sports require different techniques and different strategies. Games like American football, soccer and basketball all require a good understanding of the game. You need to know where to stand and what plays to anticipate so you can capture that perfect moment. If on the gridiron, should you be on the scrimmage line, 10 yards down or behind the end zone? Basketball is very different and requires a completely different thought process as does soccer. Basketballs game movement includes horizontal and vertical motion. Other sports like hockey, skiing, skating and racquet sports like tennis have other challenges. How do you capture the three dimensional game of the fastest racquets sport in the world, badminton, in close tight quarters under usually low light conditions? Even without an 85mm f/1.2 lens, great shots can be had. The nice thing about sports is that many events are free or inexpensive to attend. High school football or basketball, college football or baseball, children’s league soccer or rugby, the possibilities are endless. Learn and learn to be ready.

Animals can be found in parks and zoos but better closer wildlife can usually be photographed at animal shelters, the SPCA, pet stores, farms or bird or animal sanctuaries. Very often you can get permission to photograph animals in shelters. You may need to volunteer some time or perhaps exchange some free photos for the opportunity, but nothing is cooler than shooting an owl or falcon or eagle from only a few inches away. What is that worth to you? Some pet stores may even let you purchase lizards or other critters knowing you will bring them back later that day after you provide proof you will be able to properly care for them. Then of course there are always the birds and animals found in the wild. Try it out.

More industrial areas like downtown, airports, docks, tops of buildings, or any of these locations at dusk or dawn or at night can all be great motivating locations to shoot. Head to the hills or mountains, the lakes, streams or rivers for more shooting options. Even old tourist favorites that you haven’t been to in years like botanical gardens can bring inspiration. Add a little culture to your photos with a trip to China Town, the Church, a local Mosque or a cultural area like the Italian or French quarters. Try cultural events like Greek Days or Chinese New Year’s celebrations or 4th of July fireworks.

Totally bored and the weather is keeping you inside? Try your hand at still life. You do not require a studio or studio lighting to create great still life. You can use natural window lighting or other lighting supplemented with flash. You will need an understanding of White Balance though. Grab some items, flowers, your favorite fruits or vegetables and shoot away. Research still life photography on the internet or grab a book and learn some tips or tricks. Back lighting and through lighting can create great results. Don’t know what through lighting is? Another great chance to learn. Play with color or apertures, add mist from a spray bottle, use glossy wet paint, or give food photography a try, the possibilities are endless all without leaving your home and without spending a dime. How about trying your hand a flowers or even portraits? Need a great shot of your new puppy?

If you are still out of ideas, grab a magazine or read an on-line photography magazine or browse an on-line photography site for ideas. Write them down. Make a list of your ideas, make notes on other photos and create a check list of techniques to try and skills to learn or improve upon. Note and categorize photo ideas and see which ones inspire you the most.

If the winter blues have set in and the weather is keeping you from getting out, and books just aren’t helping, then it must be time to crank up the music and work on your blog or web site!

© 2008 Francois Cleroux

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas or suggestions.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Read, Learn and even get published.

There are many places where one can look to improve their skills. One can take classes at public and private schools or lessons at Colleges and Universities. One can always pay to go on outings or workshops with well known pros. Books and magazines can always be purchased. But, how about an excellent place to learn new and specific skills with great content and How-To's. No, I’m not talking about the Eyes On Photography Blog on Blogger.com but rather, some great Photography Magazine Web Sites that offer a ton of free Articles, How-To's, Reviews, Tips and Advice.

Here I have compiled a list of some of the better and unique ones where some of the best help is available. Some may have better Reviews and others better How-To's, but they all have something to offer. Check them out.


PBASE

A Magazine called PBase from PBase.com. PBase is a competitor to MyShutterSpace.com, Flicker, PhotoBucket and other Wed Photo Sites but they do put together a pretty good magazine. Best of all its available for free at their site in PDF format. Good articles, reviews and tutorials.


JPG

Another good read and a new concept in Photography Magazines is JPG Magazine. You can contribute to the Magazine and get published! They host mini contests for photos for articles they write. Winning entries get published and $100.00. You can also submit articles. You cannot download their Magazines but there are always new full articles you can read on-line. A little more Avant-garde than most other photography magazines.


Lens Culture Photography and Shared Territories

This is another one of those Avant-garde magazines but his is designed for the 'Professional Artist'. Lens Culture is an online magazine celebrating international contemporary photography, art, media, and world cultures with various points of views on documentary, fine art, photojournalism, poetic, personal, abstract, human, and street photography.


PCPhoto Digital Photography Magazine

Dedicated to Digital Photography it is full of great How-To's, Camera Basics and Buyer's Guides. They have great Camera and Software reviews and intelligent Features. Overall a great site and a great magazine for newbies and intermediate photographers.


Outdoor Photographer

Outdoor Photographer contains practical information and tips regarding photographing nature, wildlife and landscape. Regular columns cover camera accessories, film, lenses, outdoor gear and apparel, travel, ecological concerns, and workshops. Most articles are fairly technical and are suited for intermediate to advanced photographers.


Apogee Photo Magazine

This On-Line magazine may not look as sharp as it's professional glossy print counterparts but it is loaded with some great articles.
Check out their great Nature & Wildlife Photography section and their Articles for Beginners & Young People.


Professional Photographer

Designed for Professional and Aspireing Professional's, this magazine has a ton of great articles on Starting Out, How to Make Money, Legal, Technical and Business Advice.

A great source of reviews written with the professional in mind!



PDN - Photo District News

An interesting photographers magazine with the usual articles, reviews and how to's, but just a little different.
Market Trends, Business Advice, Breaking News and Interactive Product Reviews round this publication out.


EOS Magazine

EOS magazine is for everyone with an EOS camera, from first-time buyers to experienced users. It covers every EOS model, from the earliest to the latest. Packed with how-to-do-it illustrations and inspirational images, EOS magazine will help you to take better pictures.

This is a great high quality magazine filled with everything you ever wanted to know about Canon gear. Expensive to ship from the UK to the United States or Canada but well worth it. Check out their site.


If you know of any great and exciting on-line magazine sites, please let me know. In the mean time check out these great publications and share the links with your fellow photographers and perhaps, get published!

© 2008 Francois Cleroux


Version 1.0

Tech Gear - New Canon 50D

OK, after a year of shooting with my Canon 40D which I completely love, I just received my Canon 50D today!!!

For those of you that do not know about the 50D, here are the specs from Canon:




Manufacturer's Description

Canon’s new EOS 50D bridges the gap between the novice and the seasoned pro with a perfect combination of high-speed and quality. It features an APS-C sized 15.1-megapixel CMOS sensor for tremendous images, new DIGIC 4 Image Processor for fine detail and superior color reproduction, and improved ISO capabilities up to 12800 for uncompromised shooting even in the dimmest situations. It features a refined 3.0-inch Clear View LCD (920,000 dots) monitor, supercharged Live View Function with Face Detection Live mode, plus a number of new automatic Image Correction settings and HDMI output for viewing images on an HDTV. Pick up the EOS 50D and you’ll experience true digital inspiration!

Canon EOS 50D Digital SLR Highlights

The EOS 50D features a newly-designed 15.1-megapixel APS-C sized CMOS sensor which is capable of recording up to 4752 x 3168 pixels with full 14-bit A/D conversion for extremely fine tonal gradation. Ready to capture images in an instant, the sensor is designed to work with Canon’s EF and EF-S lenses with a conversion factor of 1.6x. It’s capable of recording at sensitivities previously too noisy for shooting in low light or subjects in motion. With a maximum ISO rating of 12800 combined with a 4-level High ISO speed noise reduction function, images that would have been impossible without the use of a strobe or flash become simple to record.

Capture up to 6.3 fps, in bursts of up to 90 JPEGs

The EOS 50D operates with such effortless speed that operation is nothing short of intuitive. With instant startup times, speedy autofocus and minimal shutter lag, the EOS 50D is one of the fastest cameras available today. It can shoot up to 6.3 fps, in bursts of up to 90 JPEGs (using an UDMA CF card), 60 JPEGs (using a CF card) consecutively or 16 RAW files, so you’ll never, ever miss a shot.

DIGIC 4 Image Processor

This next generation DIGIC 4 Image Processor offers finer details and even more natural color reproduction, compared with the previous DIGIC III Image Processor. Since Canon’s DIGIC 4 chips use advanced signal processing technologies, they provide even faster operations, including write times to UDMA cards. It also enables Face Detection Live mode to detect and focus up to 35 face(s) to capture the best possible shot. Further, DIGIC 4 offers the improved Auto Lighting Optimizer that corrects brightness and contrast automatically, and Peripheral Illumination Correction for up to 40 EF lenses. DIGIC always maximizes performance between the capturing and recording stages of digital photography.

3.0-inch Clear View LCD

The EOS 50D features a bright, high resolution, 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor with 920,000 (dots/VGA) pixels and a broad viewing angle of 160 degrees horizontally and vertically. It offers a brighter and more detailed display than the EOS 40D, includes a new smudge-resistant coating, and is perfect for accessing camera settings like ISO, Metering modes AF Point selection and flash options. Plus, it’s superb for reviewing, editing and deleting photos or composing new images in Live View Function.

Live Face Detection Mode AF

The EOS 50D features Canon’s most advanced Live View shooting thanks to the number of focusing modes available including Quick mode, Live mode and Face Detection Live mode. You can zoom in and navigate the composition 5x or 10x normal size, enabling critical focus. There’s even 2 overlay grid options, perfect for lining up vertical and horizontal lines. In the studio, the camera can be controlled remotely with Live View Function when the camera is connected to a computer through a USB cable, or wirelessly if the optional Wireless File Transmitter WFT-E3A is used.

9 cross-type high-precision sensors for accurate target subject acquisition

The EOS 50D has a high-precision 9-point wide area AF that uses cross-type points at f-stops of f/5.6 or faster, enabling the camera to focus faster, more accurately, and in difficult lighting situations. AF sensitivity is a stunning EV-0.5 to EV18. Adding to this AF performance, the EOS 50D incorporates a diagonally mounted cross-type sensor that is sensitive to both vertical and horizontal lines at f/2.8, perfect for enhanced operation in dim light. The EOS 50D has a number of focus modes, including One-Shot AF, AI Focus AF and AI Servo AF.

New Lens Peripheral Illumination Correction setting

Canon’s exclusive Lens Peripheral Illumination setting takes into account any light falloff in the corners of the frame and corrects it, making for a perfectly exposed image. Correction data are detected automatically on a number of Canon EF lenses and can be entered manually through included the Canon EOS Utility software.

Updated EOS Integrated Cleaning System

The EOS 50D’s Self Cleaning Sensor Unit eliminates stray dust that enters the camera when changing a lens or when out in the field. The sensor’s IR-cut/Low-pass filter cleans itself automatically with ultrasonic vibrations every time the camera is turned on or off and features a new flourine coating to minimize dust adhesion. Dust missed by the cleaning unit is captured by Canon’s Dust Delete Data Detection software and can be erased from the image file.

Self Cleaning Sensor Unit

A key element of minimizing dust is preventing it from clinging to the front surface of the imaging sensor. To combat this, the EOS 50D features a Canon-designed Self Cleaning Sensor Unit. The low-pass filter at the front of the sensor shakes off dust automatically with ultrasonic vibrations, removing dust from the sensor assembly. The EOS 50D also has a coating on the front surface of the low-pass filter, to increase its resistance to dust sticking to the sensor.

Dust Delete Data Detection

Dust that may still remain on the front of the sensor can also be erased with software included in Digital Photo Professional (DPP) Version 3.3 or later software. A simple test shot of a plain, white object can be taken, using a menu setting. This Dust Delete Data image is analyzed in-camera, and the location and size of any remaining dust is added to any subsequent pictures taken. This data is transmitted along with the image, whether JPEG or RAW, and can be either manually or automatically erased in Canon’s DPP software. This added software option ensures the cleanest possible image, perfect for printing or archiving.

Creative Auto goes a step beyond full auto with on screen setting display

The EOS 50D has a new Creative Auto mode and a quick control screen that helps novice users narrow the gap between fully automatic and manual control. While the camera will remain by default in fully automatic mode, frequently changed settings like flash, exposure compensation, image quality and more are all accessible through one easy screen interface designed for intuitive, quick action. A provided shooting guide serves as a quick-reference for on-the-fly operation.

HDMI output for displaying full high-resolution images on a HDTV

The EOS 50D includes a new HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) output device that enables High Definition display of your photographs on any HDTV with HDMI ports. It’s remarkable to behold the details of your photographs in Full HD, and it’s easy with the EOS 50D. Resolution is set automatically to match the TV to which you’ve connected, and images are displayed in a full-frame 3:2 ratio with blacked out bars to the left and right of the image.

These specs are a major improvement over the 40D and give you a 50% increase in pixels with much lower noise. The ISO can be set at 12,800. Yes, 12 Thousand 8 Hundred!!

The camera for what you get is probably the best deal around right now as it sells on Amazon for $1371.00.

The 40D is still a great camera and the prices have been lowered on it. For those wanting more in the way of full frame check out the soon to be available (only a few weeks away) Canon 5D Mark 2 at 21 Mega Pixels Full Frame for only $3200.00.

Check it out here:

Canon EOS 50D 15.1MP Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)

or the Canon Site here:

Canon 50D

I will be shooting hopefully this week and will post some prints and a review of my own then.

Can't wait.

© 2008 Francois Cleroux