Snails After A Rainstorm

It’s been raining a lot this Spring. It’s as if it’s been perpetual April — which isn’t fun.

Trying to turn that frown upside down, I went out and shot a bunch of snails when I got home from work. The rain had just started to subside, so I put the MP-E 65 on the 5D2,  along with the MT-24 EX and snail hunting was on.

I ended up with a lot of shots that I REALLY like, and 16 have been uploaded to the Macro Gallery. Head over and check them out.

Jun 19th, 2009 | Filed under Photography

Kancamagus Highway – June 2009

Corinne and I took a day trip up to the Kancamagus Highway today. While thoroughly exhausted, it was a great time.

I took a bunch of photo gear with me, but didn’t end up doing a lot of shooting. While the weather was nice, there were tons of clouds that ruined a lot of otherwise great scenery. I took a wide lens (well, wide for me) – 35mm f/1.4 and a long lens – 70-200 f2.8 IS and used the 35 most. I think I would have shot more had I brought my 100 macro with me. Next time.

Of course, if I’d taken that instead of the 70-200, there’d be moose, deer, bears and every other creature to photograph at a distance. That’s the way these things work I think.

I think the critter list consists of

  • goslings (in Boston while leaving)
  • a deer that ran across I-93 about 100 yards ahead of us
  • a pug on a motorcycle – wearing a helmet and goggles
  • a random chipmunk at a distance
  • tons of toads on various trails

Nothing too spectacular (and half of it was seen while in the car!), but fun regardless.

We did some hiking, picnicking and general relaxing. All said and done, we only got to about 1/2 of the Kancamagus, so we’ll likely be going back — hopefully on a day with some more agreeable weather.

I’m going to process my images and see if there’s anything worth posting. At the very least, the Singh-Ray Vari-ND worked REALLY well.

Jun 13th, 2009 | Filed under Photography, Travel

Singh-Ray Vari-ND Filter Test (with images)

Some people had questions about the Singh-Ray Vari-ND Filter and I wanted to put together a quick set of images for those interested.

First, how the test was done:

All images were shot on a 5D mark II with the 35mm f1.4 lens. I have a 72mm-77mm step-up ring to attach the vari-nd to the lens. Since I have some lenses with a 77mm front end, this is in no way a problem for me since I could find myself in situations in which I might need to shoot with the vari-nd on them. I didn’t experience vignetting with this configuration. 35mm isn’t all that wide (even on full frame) and I didn’t expect any problems even with the extra space the step-up ring added. If you have to go really wide, it might be worthwhile to get the 82mm filter.

The camera was set to manual and I kept a constant f16 @ ISO 100 for all shots. I did *not* use a cable release or mirror lock-up because I didn’t really care about sharpness, just exposure and the effect on image quality at higher densities. Given some light clouds, the base exposure (without the filter) was 1/25s. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t blowing out all of the sky and mostly exposed for the highlights there and let the rest of the light levels fall where they may. After taking a shot, I’d dial down the shutter a full stop (3 clicks) and then dial the filter until I was at the right exposure level as given by the meter. Since the vari-nd doesn’t actually mark the light loss (there’s a basic scale, but this is just for reference – the dots don’t actually mean anything in particular), this was the only real way to go about this.

All images were shot RAW and opened in ACR. I set them all to the same white balance and made no other changes to processing. AWB did have some slight variation between the different shots but it was very minor. There was a larger swing between the first image (without the vari-nd) and those with it. This should be obvious to most when looking at the images.

Singh-Ray Vari-ND Filter Test

(click for larger)

Here’s what I found:

1) There appears to be a warming or polarization effect with the vari-nd. I don’t dislike it, but it’s there and worth noting.

2) Singh-Ray states

“The Vari-ND is capable of densities of more than 8 stops. Results at these densities, however, may be unpredictable.”

- and they’re absolutely correct. At >8 stops, the ND effect was not even throughout the frame. Minor adjustments over the 8 stop mark “moved” this effect around. This likely has something to do with the way the different polarization layers interact at their highest level, but I don’t know the specifics. Either way, it’s pretty easy to spot and you know once you get to the “Max” mark on the filter that you should probably dial back a bit.

3) At higher densities (somewhere between +6 and +7), it looks like you start to lose a bit of contrast. While you can likely recover a lot of this in post, it’s again worth noting.

4) You can NOT use the vari-nd with a CPL. Well, you “can”, but the results are undesirable in all but the weirdest circumstances. The following shots were made with the vari-nd at its lowest setting and I had exposures on both at ISO 100, f/16, 5s (not a typo – a full 5 seconds). I also set the vari-nd + CPL shots to the same white balance that I processed the original shots with and did no additional processing.

If a CPL usually costs at most 2 stops and the vari-nd is 2 stops at its lowest setting, then we would expect about a 4 stop light loss (in the shooting conditions of this test, this would be close to ISO 100, f/16, .6s. Clearly there’s some magic with how a CPL and the vari-nd interact that’s not only giving the crazy colors but a ton of additional light loss. It’s also worth noting that the different colors were achieved by spinning the front element of the CPL.

You can also notice that with the step-up ring, vari-nd and the CPL that the 35mm f1.4 is getting the CPL in the corners. Easy to crop out, but again worth noting if you’re considering stacking filters.

Singh-Ray Vari-ND Filter + Circular Polarizer
Singh-Ray Vari-ND Filter + Circular Polarizer

(click for larger)

All the weirdness above said, the images between +2 to +8 stops look really good to me and this is a great item to keep in my bag. While on the expensive side, this one filter can take the place of multiple ND filters and quickly justifies the price tag.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone interested in the sort of shooting that ND filters lend themselves to.

Jun 7th, 2009 | Filed under Nerd, Photography

Livingroom Portrait Session

Took some photos of Corinne earlier.

Here’s one of the favorites.

Jun 2nd, 2009 | Filed under Photography

Laps Around Leverett Pond

Did a couple of laps around Leverett Pond this afternoon with Corinne. I brought along my Canon 300mm f2.8L IS to continue to break it in, along with my new pair of hiking shoes.

Despite being a bit on the heavy side, I’ll say this — the 300mm is an absolutely JOY to shoot with. Totally in love with it.

Head over to the Fauna Gallery to see more.

May 25th, 2009 | Filed under Photography

New Old Photos – Hawaii 2007

I added some photos to the Underwater and Landscape galleries.

These are from the last Hawaii trip in 2007 (Maui & Lanai).

They’re not super special since they were taken on my old PowerShot A710 IS, but I’m still a fan.

May 25th, 2009 | Filed under Photography

Springtime Dandelion Macros

I got out for a bit on Saturday before the wind picked up and shot some dandelions with the Canon MP-E 65. I also found some tiny spiders to shoot, but wasn’t happy with any of the results for a number of reasons.

The images were shot at a variety of magnifications from 1x to 5x — the full range of the MP-E 65.

All of these shots are of the same dandelion in its “parachute” phase. The last shot is at about 5x life size. Shooting through the parachute canopy gives the hazy, ethereal appearance.

May 18th, 2009 | Filed under Photography

2 Panos From Oregon

I just added two panoramas from my recent trip to Oregon. They’re not as spectacular as some that I’ve seen posted, but they’re my first real go at creating panoramic shots by stitching multiple images together, and I think it’s a decent start.

Click on the thumbnails below to see the full size images!

Wahkeena Falls - Oregon

Wahkeena Falls - Oregon

May 10th, 2009 | Filed under Photography

Back From Portland With A Body Suit

Back from Portland. Had a great time. Took a bunch of photos that need to get processed.

Got a body suit on Wednesday night from Ross Carlson at Living Art Tattoo where I was hanging out.

My Body Suit Tattoo - Koi+Peonies

Body Suit Tattoo: Koi + Peonies

I’m absolutely loving it!

May 8th, 2009 | Filed under Nerd, Random

Feeling Like A Bucket Of Asses

Been sick for a few days. My on-call week started today at 10:30am. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to get enough sleep to recover from this illness in time for me to fly out to Portland on 5/1. If I’m not lucky, I’ll have a less-than-optimal vacation.

I haven’t done much in the realm of photography since the water drop photos. I just haven’t really had the time. If I do get some free time, I might give it another shot. I’ve picked up some gels and have a few other things I want to try in terms of the setup to hopefully achieve better results. We shall see.

The lighting class that I’ve taken is 3 weeks down. So far it’s all been fundamentals — which have been about 98% wasted on me. There’s been a couple of things explained in interesting ways that I’ve been able to get something out of, but for the most part it’s been a bit of a waste of time. Hopefully things pick up soon, because I’m having a hard time investing my time when I’m getting so little out of the experience.

I think I’m going to go nap on the couch and hope I don’t get any calls.

Apr 22nd, 2009 | Filed under Photography, Random