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Author Archive

Using Nik Complete – Tonal Contrast Filter to Increase Drama in Skies and Clouds

As I stated previously, one of my favorite plugins for Photoshop is the Nik Software Complete Collection. Within that collection, the Tonal Contrast is one of my most-used filters for adding a bit of contrast to select ranges within the photograph. Without a doubt, it is used most frequently on punching up skies and specifically clouds. Normally, my goal is to maintain a realistic and believable photograph, with more definition in the clouds, which is generally how I remember the scene. Below is a little tutorial on how I effectively utilize this tool in this manner.

Beginning Image:
medicine lake

The Tonal Contrast filter is one of the last steps in my workflow. Before I use this filter, I adjust the global contrast, colors, saturation, and exposure. When adding contrast to an image, it is good to note that this sometimes has the effect of an increased of perceived saturation. If I know that I will be adding some contrast to the image, I tend to keep my saturation and vibrance sliders on the conservative side. When dealing with skies and clouds most of the contrast we want to affect will be in the highlight zone with some falling into the mid-tone zone. The majority of the adjustments will be made by tweaking those two sliders.

Too Much:
medicine lake

Too much and the image begins to turn into a watercolor on acid. Although, this maybe an effect that is pleasing to some, in most instances it can be taken too far. In this image I pumped up the highlight slider to around “60” and the mid-tone slider around “30”. The edges in the sky start to bleed out and cause some very defined lines. Since this result falls short of my goal, I am going to bring the settings down.

Just Right:photography

Here, I have brought my highlight contrast levels down to “19”, my mid-tone contrast settings are set around “5”, and my shadow settings are currently at “1”. Additionally, I have protected my highlights by using the shadows/highlight slider and bumping the highlights to about the half-way point. Here, the clouds have additional contrast, the rest of the scene has a tad more contrast, but nothing that would make it unrealistic. As I remember that day, there were some crazy clouds and weather going on, and now the end photo better brings out that experience.

Screenshot of the Final Settings:
camera settings

 


lens cap


MEET THE AUTHOR

While growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.

While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.

Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.

Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.

Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography to read his other articles. His images may be ordered from his store.

Posted in: General

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Photo Friday: Quiet and Still

photography columbia basin
The area near the Columbia River Basin in central Washington is very dry and arid, a high desert type of climate. Here sage brush flourishes and large treeless tracts are the norm. Above the Frenchman Coulee on a beautiful February twilight I waited as the sun dipped below the horizon and watched as the area was bathed in purple and magenta hues. I was content to simply sit and capture the scene as the light dwindled into nothingness.


lens cap


MEET THE AUTHOR

While growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.

While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.

Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.

Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.

Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography  to read his other articles. His images may be ordered from his store.

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Photo Friday: Through the Night

Niobrara State ParkDuring my last trip to Niobrara State Park I spent two nights photographing the stars. On the first night I setup on the footbridge near the confluence of the Niobrara and Missouri River. It was completely dark as there was no moon, a perfect night to capture the stars and do some light painting. When the shutter was open I carefully used my flashlight on the steel beams and across the deserted bridge. When the shutter was off all I could see was the stars and the lights of Niobrara in the distance. The only sound was the slushing of the water beneath the bridge. That was until I was startled by the rustling of bushes behind me! I turned around with my flashlight and saw nothing and decided I was quite done. I packed up and hurried back up the trail to my warm cabin.


lens cap


MEET THE AUTHOR

While growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.

While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.

Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.

Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.

Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography to read his other articles. His images may be ordered from his store.

Posted in: General

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Photo Friday: A Final Moment

photo friday

A Final Moment

 

During the last couple of weeks of October my family and I always make a journey to Nebraska City to take in the seasonal changing of the leaves and some apple fritters/pie/donuts. While strolling the Arbor Day Lodge State Park grounds I found this lovely leaf and had to get down and dirty to capture this image with the day’s last bit of sunlight streaming through the trees. I never mind getting dirty, especially to capture scenes like this!

Technical Details:
Canon 5DsR, 16-35 f/4L, f/6.3, 1/80 sec.
Arbor Day Lodge State Park, Nebraska


lens cap


MEET THE AUTHOR

While growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.

While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.

Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.

Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.

Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography to read his other articles. His images may be ordered from his store.

 

Posted in: Nature Photography

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Trip Report: Crystal Cove State Park, California

I had another quick trip which took me to the west coast again, this time to the California coast. Determined to get some ocean shots, I spent two evenings down at Crystal Cove State Park near Laguna Beach. Being the first time since 2006 that I photographed the ocean I was not disappointed by the conditions. I managed to stay fairly dry the first night, but on the second I was drenched from the waist down by a wave I miscalculated. I saved the camera gear, however!

Crystal Cove

Glorious Finale

 

Photography

By The Sea

 

lens cap

Rhythmic Twilight

 

Pacific Coast

Final Daylight on the Pacific Coast

 

Technical Details: Canon 70D, 10-22 ef-s Lens, Singh-Ray Polarizer, Singh-Ray 3 Stop ND Filter
lens cap

 

MEET THE AUTHOR

Derrald_Farnsworth-LivingstonWhile growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.  Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography http://www.journeyoflight.com/blog/ to read his other articles. His images may be ordered from his store at http://store.journeyoflight.com.

Posted in: General, Landscape Photography

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Photo Friday: Cold Water Flowing

 

Canon 5D MarkOn February 1st eastern Nebraska received measurable snow, something that hasn’t happened very frequently in the last couple of years. Not only was it a good amount, but it was also wet and sticky snow that clung to everything. I ventured out before the wind could blow the snow off the branches and hiked into a winter wonderland at Platte River State Park. I followed the creek for a ways and found a few areas where the water flowed past the snow and ice. I got low to the ground to show the little cascade and used a wide angle to show all the great snow clinging to the environment. In the background one of the bridges that crosses the little stream complimented the scene nicely and I included this detail. I spent quite some time at this spot enjoying the quiet snow falling all around.

Technical Details:
Canon 5D Mark II, 16-35 f/4l lens @ 16mm, f/18, .6 s,
Platte River State Park, Nebraska

lens cap

 

MEET THE AUTHOR

Derrald_Farnsworth-Livingston

While growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.

While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.

Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.

Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.

Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography http://www.journeyoflight.com/blog/ to read his other articles. His images may be ordered from his store at http://store.journeyoflight.com.

Posted in: General, Nature Photography

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Review: Western Digital My Cloud EX2

Western Digital my Cloud EX2 Western Digital my Cloud EX2[/caption]

As a photographer, I capture a lot of photographs. Surprising, I know. Before digital cameras I had boxes and boxes of film and slides. In the digital age that means a lot of files that need to be stored. The upside of this is that I store thousands of photographs in a space that would only hold about 100 slides previously. The downside to all of this is that photography now requires IT skills and your photographs are susceptible to power blips, heat, lightning strikes through the power lines, and let’s not forget strong jostles or downright falls from 3 feet or so. In the slide days if you dropped your images you would just pick up your slides, curse a bit and put them back in order. In the digital age that little fall could mean life or death.

Don’t get me wrong, the digital age is great, I wouldn’t trade it for all the free slide film in the world. The real challenge I’ve found is finding a way to keep my data secure, backed up, and easy to access. Until now I’ve collected a myriad of USB drives which I replicate from one to the another. It’s been crude, but effective. I had recently been researching other storage options when Western Digital offered me the chance to try their My Cloud EX2 NAS. I jumped at the chance. Besides being on my short-list, I liked the feature set and felt that it could potentially improve my workflow in the future. If I can be more efficient in AND away from the office, that gives me more time to do what I love, capturing images! Below are five reasons why I recommend the My Cloud EX2 for a photography business.

Easy Setup

One thing I’ve learned to love is simplicity, both in photography and in life. As a business owner with a million things to do so I don’t have time for complicated setups. I want things that just work. The setup of the My Cloud EX2 was just that, simple. I plugged it in, went through the easy setup and bam, I was up and running. The interface was intuitive and easy, something I can always appreciate.

Additional USB Drive Support and Backups

The feature set, however, was anything but simple. First off, I love the ability to plug in additional USB drives directly into the My Cloud EX2. This allows you to either add more storage on the network or use the plugged in USB drive as a backup destination. My main concern with using the additional USB drive as additional storage was that it was going to be transferring data over the same link as the My Cloud EX2. Since I’m always transferring large amounts of data at once through viewing photographs or saving large Photoshop files, I wanted to maintain my network connection only for the Western Digital NAS. As such I configured the USB port for backups, that way the My Cloud EX2 was going directly to the USB and bypassing the network. Setting up the backup was super easy, I just went through the wizard, configured the destination, the time and hit finish. I cannot stress this point enough, back up your data!!! I’ve seen lots of people lose valuable information and never recover. The backup configuration is easy so use it! There are lots of other backup options available including cloud backup to Amazon so explore them all.

RAID Configuration

One item I do want to mention here is that the My Cloud EX2 comes with 2 drives. You have the ability to setup these drives in different versions of what is known as RAID. You can have one drive constantly mirror to another drive or have them become one big drive. The pro of making it one big drive is almost twice the storage space. The tradeoff is that if either drive fails you’ve lost everything. The pro of mirroring the drives is that if you lose a drive you should still be operational. The tradeoff is that you pay twice as much for the same space. After debating I decided to leave the drives in the “RAID 1″ configuration, or redundant. Keep in mind, this is NOT considered a form of backup. I’ve seen plenty of configurations on other devices like this go completely south, like “Antarctic put your business in a deep freeze” south. See the point above for information regarding the easy to use backup! Anyway, I’d prefer being able to keep working if one drive does fail as opposed to scrambling to go to a backup to retrieve everything if either drive goes.

“Cloud” Storage

Everyone has a different definition of “The Cloud” which can frankly become a bit well… cloudy. In fact whenever I hear, “The Cloud” I often think of an ominous unseen announcer saying “The Cloud” with a booming voice. What “The Cloud” means here is that the My Cloud EX2 creates storage on your home or business network which you can access from anywhere. The benefits here is that when you are locally on the same network as the NAS the speeds are fast and you aren’t paying a service a monthly fee to store the information. In order to use this you’ll have to setup your router or network to allow external access to the device. There are some setup options that make this configuration a little easier, but there might be a bit of technical knowhow needed. Once setup, you can generate access codes for phones, iPads, tablets, notebooks, desktops, servers, well you get the idea. Basically, any device that you might want to access the information can. Additionally, users and access rights can be created so if you want Aunt Cindy to see your family friendly Disney photos, but not images from your weekend bender, no problem. On tablets and phones you can download WD Photos which will allow you to view photos from your MyCloudEx2 and even post them to Facebook. Personally, I can always use something that makes me a more effective social networker.

Besides the photography, I had to try it with some music. I placed some music files on the storage, took off and was able to seamlessly access it. Now I could access both my tunes and my photos easily from numerous devices. Not bad.

App Support (and the ability for future development)

Lastly, one of the features on the list I wasn’t expecting is the ability to install apps. These apps enhance the functionality of the My Cloud EX2 and allow for future development. The options are fairly limited and nothing that really excites me. Most of them deal with torrents and downloading which might excite some of those peer-to-peer sharers out there. I’m not one of them, but I hope to see more of these cool add-ons in the future.

Overall, I was pleased with the experience, I loved the ease of setup and the performance has been good. The ability to access my files from outside is a plus and the backup features are very welcome and from what I’ve seen a much under discussed bonus of this little device. For the advertised price, it provides the storage with a feature set richer than I’ve seen in similar devices.

Be sure to check out more of the features at Western Digital’s website. I’m sure you’ll find something I missed that might benefit your business!

don zeck lens cap

 MEET THE AUTHOR

Derrald_Farnsworth-LivingstonWhile growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography http://www.journeyoflight.com/blog/ to read his other articles.   His images may be ordered from his store at http://store.journeyoflight.com.

Posted in: General, Photography Gear

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Magnifying the World with the Canon 100 f/2.8L IS Lens

 

Canon 100 f/2.8L IS

Macro photography, what better way to make a praying mantis look like a huge evil invader.  Or to make water droplets look so big that you feel like you could swim around inside of one.  When I first ventured into nature photography, macro was something that interested me, but I was determined to make grandiose images with spectacular light that would awe people with the glory of landscape photography with intense light.  What I found as I began my photographic journey was that there were neat things I would see by the side of the trail or field.  Maybe it was a little flower, or a cool pine cone scene, or mushrooms on the bottom of the forest floor, regardless, I would stop and take in these scenes and wish I had a way to capture them.

Phlox at Fontenelle Forest

It  was not long until I purchased the 50 CM.  A solid macro lens, I really got it for the size, and the price. 

I also needed something to capture portraits of the kids.  There’s only so many cute portraits you can get of your children with wide-angle lenses before the grandparents start asking for a view that’s a little more “normal”.  It was a workhorse lens for me capturing thousands of macro images (and hundreds of portraits).  After a while though, and after one too many times in the forest where a slight breeze moved my subject before the sloooooowwwww autofocus of the 50 CM could lock on that I decided to purchase the 100 f/2.8L with IS. This article are my subjective experiences with the Canon 100 f/2.8L IS Macro lens.

Upon purchase, I immediately took the lens home and mounted it to my Canon 5D Mark II and was amazed at how fast the autofocus locked on my subject, and in low light too!  I then placed it on my SL1 and loved the combination with the added crop.  I could now lock autofocus almost twice as fast.  The 1:1 magnification of the 100 f/2.8L IS allowed me to focus closer than ever before on my subjects and without my extension tube.  With my extension tube added, I was getting so close that I felt like I was actually being miniaturized when I looked through my viewfinder.

Tulips

Of course, as they say the proof is in the pudding.  Actually, I’m not really sure who says that and what proof you can find in pudding, but no matter.  I downloaded my photographs and loved the crispness of the images and the bokeh, outstanding.  Don’t get me wrong, the 50CM had decent bokeh and crisp images, and it never held me back from making salable images, but the 100 2.8L I felt opened new possibilities for me.

The next test?  Portraits.  One of the advantages of macro lenses, especially in the 100 mm range is that they are at a good focal length for taking portraits.  On an unseasonably warm February day I took my daughter out to the park to capture some photographs.  Using theCanon 100 f/2.8L I experimented with various lighting and poses.  I was pleased with the autofocus and the bokeh at portrait ranges and felt the flare was well controlled.  It was almost as good as my 135 f/2L.  Almost.  By the way, I recommend taking a look at my 135 f/2L report if you are interested in seeing the best portrait lens at 135mm that canon has to offer or one of my favorite lenses of all time (even though it is one of the most rarely used in my collection).  Anyway, I digress.  the 100 2.8L IS Macro performed admirably.  The IS was a really nice addition with this as well and the focal length worked well on my full frame like the Canon 5D Mark II, but it was a bit close on a crop camera like my Rebel SL1.

Riley

Overall, I highly recommend Canon’s 100mm f/2.8L Macro lens.  Of all the macro lenses I’ve used this one by far was the one that has consistently performed for me.  Fast autofocus, close focus, IS, crisp, and a great portrait lens to boot.  Please take a look at my images and if you decide to purchase the Canon 100 f/2.8L macro lens please do so using the link below.  B and H has been a great provider of photography equipment for me and I recommend their services.

W-_Valentine---May-2014_prints_IMG_3749-droplets-snake-river-falls

A snail shell rests on a leaf at the bottom of the forest at Fontenelle Forest in eastern Nebraska.

Branch of Blossoms

Tulips

 

don zeck lens cap

 MEET THE AUTHOR

Derrald_Farnsworth-Livingston

While growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.

While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.

Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.

Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.

Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography http://www.journeyoflight.com/blog/ to read his other articles.   His images may be ordered from his store at http://store.journeyoflight.com.

Posted in: General, Photography Gear

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Photo Friday: Solitary Bloom

colorado flower

Normally, on Photo Friday’s I post seasonally appropriate images. Recently, in Nebraska it’s been cold, but we haven’t had any snow or precipitation and as such, I don’t have a lot of new winter material. This has give me a chance, however, to go back through and process additional images from the past year. Today’s image of a Richardson Geranium was captured in Rocky Mountain National Park near the beaver ponds last summer. These little flowers were blooming all over the area and my 6 year old daughter helped me find this little beauty. As we were photographing the bloom, it began to mist a bit causing some droplets to be caught on the petals. Whenever I view this image it reminds me of last summer in Colorado.

Technical Details:
Canon Rebel SL1, 50 CM, f/7.1, 1/250 sec.
Rocky Mountain National ParkColorado

don zeck lens cap

 MEET THE AUTHOR

Derrald_Farnsworth-Livingston

While growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.

While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.

Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.

Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.

Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography http://www.journeyoflight.com/blog/ to read his other articles.   His images may be ordered from his store at http://store.journeyoflight.com.

Posted in: General

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In the Field with the Canon Rebel SL1

 

Canon Rebel SL1

This review is purely written subjectively. Here you will find no photographs of walls, stuffed animals, or ISO charts. I will not hit every feature of the camera, there are plenty of other sites dedicated to technical reviews. By writing this, I hope to answer any questions or concerns regarding using the Canon Rebel SL1 in the field that you might have.

A snail shell rests on the leaves of the forest foliage at Schramm State Recreation Area.

Why did I purchase the Canon SL1?

I currently own a Canon 5D, a Canon 5D Mark II, a Canon 50D, and a Canon G10. Because of it’s full frame high megapixel sensor, I currently use my 5D Mark II as my scenic landscape and close-up nature camera. Because of its frames per second and crop, I utilize the 50D for my wildlife photography. The G10 is my walk-around and movie capture camera. The SL1 is a crop sensor with 18 megapixels so the photo quality will not best the Mark II. The fps and buffer is worse than the 50D so my potential of missing a great wildlife shot is higher. It’s bigger than the G10, not really by much, unless you’ve got a big lens on it. So, where does the Canon Rebel SL1 fit? Simple, I needed something with a decently high resolution, something with what I could capture images with high enough quality that I could sell, but at the same time as small and light as possible. For sometime, I’ve been looking for a camera that I could grab at moments notice, in an unassuming kit to grab some images. When I go to the College World Series, for instance, those cameras stand out way too much, and are big to lug around. When I hike in the backcountry of Colorado for days on end, losing weight in the pack is essential and I hate leaving the wrong lens behind. The SL1 is the perfect balance of weight and picture quality.

How is the capture experience?

Once I received my SL1, I decided to take it out and photograph subjects that I would have normally captured, nature and wildlife images. I loaded it up with my 50 mm macro lens and my 500 f/4 and headed out to Schramm State Recreation Area to see how it would perform.

Two goslings huddle together as a third keeps watch at Schramm State Recreation Area in eastern Nebraska.

During this time of the year at Schramm, the flowers are blooming and goslings are waddling around the ponds. For most shots you can get close enough to the goslings without bothering the parents with just a 300mm. On this day I went all out with my 500 f4/l and walked around without a tripod or monopod. At first it was different getting used to having the only a little more than weight of the lens, but I found the reduction surprisingly nice. With less weight I felt I was able to move around easier to get low and get some shots of them. In this case I hit the limit of 4 fps quickly, but the buffer emptied in enough time to not cause me too much pain.

A blue heron stands silently at Schramm State Recreation Area in eastern Nebraska.

After working with my fuzzy, young subjects for a while, I saw a heron had come to visit the ponds. Quietly, I moved a bit closer. This made him a bit nervous and he would take off and fly to the other side of the ponds. When he took off, I tried multiple times to capture him in flight. Here, one limitation of the camera affected my ability to get a good flight shot – the viewfinder size. The SL1′s viewfinder is small, especially in comparison to a 5D Mark II and it makes tracking moving subjects more difficult. I’m sure it’s something I can adjust to a degree, but it is a disadvantage. I also reached the buffer on the shots and it just would not empty fast enough. Of course, this isn’t a 1D Mark X or even a 50D so I didn’t expect that, but I still wanted to see how it would handle this real-world situation.

A row of redish bleeding hearts grow outside the museum at Schramm State Recreation Area.

Lastly, I moved on to the blooming flowers, bleeding hearts and columbine. For these images, I mated Canon’s newest camera to Canon’s oldest EF lens, the 50 CM. The autofocus on the 50 CM isn’t the best, scratch that, it’s terrible, but on the SL1 it seemed to perform well on the static subjects, almost better than on my 50D.

How is the picture quality?

Of course, everything hangs on the picture quality. On these images, I didn’t really push the ISO and I didn’t really test the dynamic range, but from my experience the picture quality on these images was top notch. I was impressed by the sharpness and color fidelity. I had always hoped that my G10 would be my compact image capture device, but I never felt the quality was there, especially above ISO 200. On the Rebel SL1 I used ISO 200 to 800 and could barely tell a difference. I did not test the JPG as I never use JPGs and am a firm believer that once the basics of photography are mastered that is the first thing that should change in a workflow.

How was the movie capture?

One of my defined primary uses of the SL1 was to capture HD movies, mainly home movies. The G10 was solely standard definition and although I could get movies with the 5D Mark II, I found that it was a bit bulky to carry to my daughters’ events. The SL1 fits nicely into a small bag and allows me to get the quality video I want without going gear overboard. I am mainly a stills guy, but I feel like the quality of video is high and has a lot of potential. Filmmakers will be a little more discerning in this area, but it was a big step up for me from my G10 for sure.

What are the negatives?

The downsides I ran into when using the SL1 are the buffer, which I expected, the small viewfinder, the lack of AF micro adjustment, and the lack of ISO choices. I’ve heard you don’t need the AF micro adjustment when using contrast AF, which is fine, except when photographing moving subjects, then it’s too slow and traditional AF is what you need making this a negative for me. Also, although I don’t use the incremental ISOs much I sometimes choose them when I need just a little more speed without going to the next full ISO.

What are the positives?

Since I’ve only used Canon cameras that had a quickdial, the interface on the Rebel SL1 was a little different for me. Once I realized the capability of the SL1′s touchscreen, I was sold. To be honest, when I first read about it, I thought it was a novelty and wouldn’t really change how I use the camera, but I was wrong. I loved being able to quickly choose my settings or pinch-zoom my photographs to quickly check for sharpness. So much so that I would look for the feature on any new camera I purchase. Lastly, I like the range I can compensate for exposure. On my previous cameras, I could only go down or up 2 stops, on this camera I can move 5 stops in any direction, although bracketing is still limited to 2 stops.

A singular Columbine grows in the shade of a tree at Schramm State Recreation Area.

Do I recommend the camera?

If you’re a novice, this camera has everything you would need and more from. If you are a professional looking for the lightest weight camera with the highest quality image files, this is the camera for you. The SL1 will not replace my other cameras, it is only meant to compliment them when I need a small, light kit. Using this camera is a joy and I look forward to seeing what can be done with the Canon Rebel SL1.

don zeck lens cap

 MEET THE AUTHOR

Derrald_Farnsworth-Livingston

While growing up, Derrald’s parents took him on several trips across the United States to numerous national parks. It was on these trips that Derrald grew a love for the outdoors which we wished to explore and share with others. Photography was a natural result, an endeavor that Derrald began at a young age and continued to explore in years to come.

While pursuing a Bachelors degree at Creighton University, he enrolled in all of the photography courses. With these courses he learned the fundamentals of chemical darkrooms, light, balance, and exposure. After college he continued to explore the art and develop his own technique and style and choose to focus on nature and scenic photography as his primary subjects, although he is not hesitant to point the lens at anything.

Amongst the images of majestic mountains and the crashing waves of the ocean, one can find photographs of the prairies, lakes, and wetlands of the American Great Plains and Midwest. Some of these images are the artist’s favorites as they show the expansive heartland of the United States and the subtle beauty of the area surrounding his home. Through the right balance of subject, composition, and light, Derrald strives to transport the viewer into the composition.

Derrald has won numerous awards and exhibited in several solo and group shows regionally. His work has also appeared in several regional and national magazines, calendars, websites, and postcards. He continues to live and work in Omaha with his family.

Visit Derrald’s website Journey Of Light Photography http://www.journeyoflight.com/blog/ to read his other articles.   His images may be ordered from his store at http://store.journeyoflight.com.

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