Friday, June 30, 2006

New Canon 35/1.4L lens

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My used 35L lens arrived from the states just in time for a Yong family reunion this month. The 35mm focal length is ideal for small gatherings and candid portraits. This one is taken wide open at f/1.4. The optics in this lens are just amazing... definitely lives up to it reputation as one of Canon's premier lenses.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Panorama links

Digital shooting opens up the world of stitching images to create high resolution panoramas. At the most basic level, you can pan and shoot across a scene and try to join the images in photoshop. You will soon find the seams don't match up easily all the time.

Morning Sun
This image is composed of 6 portrait orientation images. Zuiko 35mm shift lens. Shifted up 10mm - this allows me to include the tops of the trees while keeping the camera level. keeping the camera level means verticals remain vertical and the horizon stays flat.

A tripod and gear to allow rotation around the nodal point of the lens are essential to eliminate parallax. This is less complex than it sounds. There is some good information about these concepts at and Here

For 'rotational' panoramas I use a Gitzo G2220 tripod and Kingpano head. I only use the horizontal arm of the pano head because I find multirow rotational panoramas a real pain to shoot and stitch. The software I use is PTGui which is excellent and easy to use. The website also has more information about shooting techniques.

Flat stiching can be done with a shift lens. I have a Hartblei 45 Super-rotator lens which is designed for medium format. I can perform large shifts using a Zork adapter to make full use of the large image circle the lens projects. I'll put up some information of how this lens works soon. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up a Canon 24TSE lens as well to do some wider flat stitches.

Here are a couple of links to excellent tutorials by Jack Flesher and Moose Peterson on flat stiching technique. This article at Digital Outback Photo shows how to avoid parallax when flat stiching panoramas.


Notes on the Hartblei 45mm Super Rotator.

Update: May 07
I'm planning a new Panorama article....coming soon.

Some quick tips:
1. manual settings are very important - this is to keep colours and brightness of adjacent frames the same.
- all frames need to be the same exposure.
- they need to be same DOF so apperture needs to remain constant.
- keep focal distance constant. (unless focus stacking)
- don't forget to set white balance too - if you keep the camera on auto WB, the skies will be slightly different colours in each frame and stitching becomes a nightmare.

2. Rotate around nodal point to reduce parallax - especially if there are foreground elements within 3-4 meters of the camera.
3. Make sure the camera is level to prevent curved horizons and problems with verticals.
4. Shoot the frames as fast as possible to minimise changes in the clouds.
5. moving water is difficult. e.g. waves. try long exposure to blur in these situations.
6. Correct vignetting BEFORE stitching. or allow generous overlap to avoid needing to use the corners.

I've sold my Kingpano head and Hartblei lens.
Now using a RRS gear for panning and the Olympus 35 shift lens for flat stitching and perspective correction.

Will post a better article shortly....

update Nov 2 2007:

Panning head is not that essential for stitching. I got some good results travelling through Europe with handheld efforts. 2 horizontal shots with Oly 21mm on 5D.


More Shooting Technique notes HERE

More miniatures

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I recently learnt this Photoshop manipulation that gives a fake Tilt Shift effect. The optical illusion tricks you into seeing a the scene as a miniature model.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Family Feast

Fast and furious steamboat action last night at a Low cousins reunion.

The 5D and 17-35 combo was a good setup for indoor shots. 24mm f/4 1/13s ISO1600. I dragged the shutter with this one adding a touch of fill flash bounced from the ceiling. I like the feel that the blurring creates.

I was thinking a faster lens may be good in this situation, but I think the DOF may get too shallow for this kind of shot any wider than f/4. I'll keep on with the Tamron for now, but the 16-35L is a potential upgrade. My new 35L might not be wide enough inside so will consider keeping my Sigma 20 and picking up a 24 prime.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Petteri's Pontifications

Petteri Sulonen has one of my favourite photography sites on the web. His writing style is a pleasure to read. He has similar view to myself, as a keen amateur interested in gear but also in trying to make good photos. Make sure you check out his site. I think I will add a links section to the sidebar and put this one in...

Here are a couple of his articles which I particularly like:

Telephoto is for Cowards - an article about focal length choice for candid street photography. I've always preferred short lenses for candid work. As mentioned in the article, they give a sense of participation in the scene and an intimacy that longs teles just don't provide. I'm really looking forward to the arrival of my new 35L which will be a perfect street lens for my 5D. A the moment it is lost somewhere between San Franscisco and here...

Boring Photographs - another great article which makes you question why you shoot and for whom. As you learn more about photography and what is possible, there is a tendency to use camera tricks and gimmicks to make interesting photos. In the end they will be boring if the content or subject itself is lacking - a good photo needs to say something, to connect in some way with the viewer, or else it becomes just another pretty object. I feel this way about a lot of my photos in my 'Digital Revolutions' gallery - a collection of boring eye candy, with a few gems thrown in by pure luck. They are mostly attempts to copy various genres and try out new techniques, with little consideration for subject. So while they may be "amazing" at first, especially to viewers who haven't seen the technique before, they eventually become quite boring to look at. I must say that copying photographic techniques is an important and necessary part of learning. Great fun too, but you need to go beyond that to make great memorable photos.

So how do you make non-boring photos? ... that sounds like a topic for a new post.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New Tripod - Gitzo G2220

Just bought a used Gitzo 2220 online. A fantastically versatile tripod, especially useful for my macro photography. The main feature is an articulating arm which can extend and be moved in all directions. Perfect for ground level photography and getting to spots where tripod legs usually get in the way.

The G2220 has been upgrated a couple of times by Gitzo with various carbon fibre models. They are not that much better and it meant that I could get the tripod for cheap.

Here is a quick review by another user which demonstrates the versatility of the tripod.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

5D in low light

Just went to my brothers concert at calloway auditorium UWA. A good chance to see how the 5D performs in low light. Paired with the 50/1.4 and 85/1.8, the camera perfomed superbly with very low noise at ISO 1600. The shot above is with the 85mm. f/2.2 at 1/160s.

I must say, nothing inspires me more than witnessing true excellence - no matter what field. The music tonight was a welcome indulgence to my senses and my soul.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Post Processing Archive

This page will be for Digital Post Processing notes. Basically anything to do with managing and manipulating image files once they leave the camera.

Image Download - from camera or memory card
Downloader pro - excellent. simple and powerful. I don't use this anymore, but useful for those without lightroom.

Image manipulation techniques - photoshop.
High Pass Contrast - John Paul Caponigro
Advanced Masking tutorial using channels - Russell Brown
Digital Dodge and Burn
Local Contrast Enhancement
Fake minatures
Digital Artifacts - The Colour Gremlins
Adding a Digital Signature - Jack Flesher
Selecting colours outside the PS window
Non destructive healing
Portrait Retouching
Photoshop Image Processor

Black and white conversions
BW conversion during RAW processing - RAW Shooter Professional.
Greg Gorman BW conversion
Lightroom BW conversion - HSL desaturation method - Martin Evening.

Adobe Lightroom
Colour Profiles for RAW Shooter
Colour control panel and RAW viewer for XP
Helicon Focus - for focus stacking... link coming.

Print resolution and viewing distance.

Addit: May 2007.
I have been using Lightroom as my main library database and image viewer for several months now. LR is used for importing, sorting, and tagging images and keeping master copies ready for output for web, slide and print. I still need to use photoshop, PTGui and Helicon for various specific tasks.
Edit: March 2009
Still using Lightroom. Now up to version 2.0. Great for organising my photos as the library grows and has and increased range of editing tools now and some good sharpening. Great for converting to BW too. Very very rarely need to use photoshop for any of my photos now.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Tassie Pics 2006

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Well I've finally had a chance to upload some of my pics from a holiday to Tassie this January. A real photographers paradise, especially the area around Freycinet National Park. Click here to see the gallery.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Gear for Sale

I have decided to reshuffle my lens lineup a bit.

Selling the following lenses
1. Sigma Fish - hardly ever use it - now SOLD.
2. Sigma 20/1.8 - don't need a fast prime at this focal length.
3. Tamron 14 - too wide on 5D. 17mm is wide enough for most applications.
4. Canon 28/1.8 - replacing with a 35L - SOLD

Also selling my trusty 10D and EOS 50.

Check out the sale at this
. Send me an email at if you want to purchase any of the above items.