Shooting with a Fast 50 Lens
So I purchased my first prime fast 50 lens a year ago and have learned a lot about it during the year. The lens is a Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM and I use it on a full frame body. I obtained this lens mainly to shoot portraits, especially my family members. I chose the f/1.4 over the other common Canon 50’s (1.8 or 1.2) for two main reasons. The f/1.4 has a more substantial feel than the f/1.8-II, mainly due to less plastic in the construction and has a metal mount over the plastic one on the f/1.8. Since I plan to keep this lens for a long time I was worried about small bangs doing big damage to both the lens and camera. The other factor was cost; the f/1.4 is more than the f/1.8, but still fit in the budget. The f/1.2 was way too much for what I needed or wished to pay.
There has been a much bigger learning curve to using this lens than I had originally thought. Without thinking to deep, I figured I could just continue to use this new lens like any other I had used in the past. Wrong! First, it does not zoom. Feet start moving. Looking back now I had never really used a prime lens. (more…)
Camera Live View Manual Focusing
My father shared a focusing technique that he uses that I found very useful in many situations, so I thought I would share it here. This technique uses the Live View feature on the DSLR camera. This is a newer feature and is not available on many older DSLR cameras, but my latest Canon 5d Mark II has the live view and many other newer DSLR’s have this feature too. Live View allows you to view the “live” scene displayed on the camera LCD screen instead of using the viewfinder. This LCD image comes directly from the sensor which means the mirror is flipped up and the sensor is turned on to capture, essentially the LCD becomes an electronic view finder. With the Live View I’m able to zoom in anywhere within the frame. This zooming feature within the live view frame is really what makes this such a useful manual focusing technique.
You start by switching to Live View mode (set for stills not video) on your camera (see user manual). Then using the standard zoom (+) button you enlarge an area of the frame. On the Canon I have 5 times (x5) and 10 times (x10) magnification options. (more…)
20 Steps from Home
I was inspired today while listening to the photography.ca Podcast #83. Marko the host was sharing an idea submitted by one of his listeners. The idea was to do a photo walk but limit it to 20 steps from your door. As I was listening I thought how great it would be to do this mini photo walk with my girls. Upon getting home I shared my idea and right away they were excited. Jaelie my youngest (3) was upset at first, since she did not have a camera of her own yet. So I explained that she did have a camera and I presented her with my old Canon S400, then she was very excited. Teagan has been taking photos for a number of years now even though she just turned six, but was also very keen to go. Teagan uses my current pocket camera, the Canon SD870IS. We rounded up our gear and headed out the door. I was excited too as their energy and creative use of the camera was so much fun to see. We had about half an hour before dinnertime and took full advantage of it. We stayed within the 20 steps (maybe giant steps) and took lots of pictures from all different angles. (more…)
Distracted by the Moon
I was invited to a charity event this past weekend that had me going to a professional Football game here in Calgary. My father happened to be in town and suggested I take his Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM lens. I took him up on the offer as I wanted to try it out and see how well it would perform. This was an evening game starting at 7:30pm and at this time of year the sun sets by 7pm, so I didn’t know what to expect for lighting. As this was just a fun outing I wasn’t worried about taking an unfamiliar lens and giving it a whirl. The lens turned out to be a lot of fun at the game, more from a useful tool to see the action up close than to really get any decent shots like you see in Sport Illustrated. The seats were almost as far back as you can get from the action. I ended up having to crank up the ISO in order to capture any of the game and I’m not a football fan by any means thus soon I was distracted by things other than the game. And then the moon appeared from behind the stadium stands across the field. I had not taken tripod or monopod (don’t have a monopod anyway), so I was hand holding all my shots, but figured I should be able to get a few not too bad frames of the moon. (more…)
Photo “To Work” Walk – First and Last?
I decided at the last moment before leaving for work today to take my camera with me. I had looked outside before heading out the door and there was a great fog about. My first instinct was fog makes everything look surreal so I ran up and grabbed my camera with my 24-70 f2.8 lens and stepped out. I started snapping shots immediately, but since this was an impromptu ‘photo walk’ I had not provided for any additional time to get to work and that meant taking shots ‘from the hip’. Due to low light (6:50am) and fog it was tough to keep them from being blurred. I ran up the ISO to 6400 so I could still hand hold as I did not bring along my tripod. The Canon 5D Mark II that I use as my main body is fully capable of taking amazing low noise photos at this high ISO so I didn’t worry about it. I had a blast just having fun, carrying my camera, shooting, and all while going to work. I work downtown Calgary among all the new buildings and they are such great subjects, I shot away. I stepped into my building which is also new and took more. Got to my desk and finally put my camera down. (more…)