Just the beginning, part two
I’m beginning this post on Wednesday, July 4th, just before I head out to see if I can shoot some photos of fireworks this evening, and then maybe some photos of downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s been a very hot day, too hot for me to venture out after working last night.
What I didn’t know when I did my last post was that I wouldn’t have to do the typical four-hour long shift for work on Wednesday, since it’s a holiday. So, I’m not expecting much in the way of great photos of the fireworks tonight, since I didn’t have time to make plans, and because of the weather. It will be a learning experience for me as I get used to using the new 5D camera. I’m also afraid that I won’t have the correct focal length lens for the fireworks.
On my way home from work just before sunrise on the 4th, I could see a dying thunder-storm in the distance, and it was lit up beautifully by the predawn light. I managed to get home in time to run into my apartment and grab my camera for this photo.
That was with the 16-35 mm lens, and even after I cropped it to what you see above, there’s still too much foreground that adds nothing to the photo. So, I ran back inside and switched to the 70-200 mm lens, and even at 70 mm, I couldn’t get the entire storm cloud in the frame. Having had good luck stitching together photos in Lightroom the few times that I tried it in the past, I shot 6 images of the storm cloud in the portrait orientation and stitched them together to produce this image.
In the first place, I can’t believe the difference between 35 mm and 70 mm, from far too wide to needing 6 images stitched together. I know that 70 is twice 35, but I didn’t realize what that meant as far as field of view on a full frame camera, but that’s what I mean about learning to see through my shorter lenses.
In the second place, Lightroom joined the 6 images together much easier than I thought that the process would be.
Well, the fireworks photo shot turned out better than I had the right to hope for.
I could have had a better foreground, but as this was my first time at this location, at least I could see the fireworks going off…
…after moving a few feet to my left.
I chose where to set-up by using only Google maps and a lot of guessing. One of the reasons I chose this spot was because there was a small pond there, and I was hoping to get reflections of the fireworks from the water of the pond. Once I flipped the camera to the portrait orientation on the tripod, I was able to get some reflections…
…but not like I wanted to have in the photos.
But, these are far and away my best photos of fireworks to date. I won’t go into the challenges of photographing fireworks, I’ll leave it at this. I did well enough for me to plan more in the future. I experimented a good deal with various exposure settings, and I could have used every image I shot after some tweaking in Lightroom. For example, I went up with the ISO and captured individual shell bursts with shorter shutter speeds, but they aren’t that interesting. I also went with very long exposures, capturing even more shell bursts, but then their combined brightness tended to fade the colors out of the images. My best results came at 15 seconds, ISO 200, and the aperture at f/8 if any one is interested.
I thought about going into downtown Grand Rapids after the fireworks, but it was still sweltering outside, even at 11 PM.
Okay, it’s now mid-morning on Thursday, and I have decided that I won’t be going to Muskegon this morning, obviously. It’s still sweltering outside, and I didn’t want to bother driving to Muskegon for just a couple of hours of photography before I was driven away by the heat and humidity. In the first place, I slept past sunrise, I guess this heat wave has taken a toll on me and I needed the extra sleep. It doesn’t help that they are building another new addition to the apartment complex that I live in, and that they access the construction site right outside of my bedroom.
While they weren’t working yesterday due to it being a holiday, the noise of the bulldozers and trucks coming and going are something that I’ve been dealing with all spring as I try to sleep. So, between the heat and being sleep deprived already, I decided to spend a quiet day at home. I may do some indoor testing of the new Canon 5D Mk IV later today, or I may run out if I see any thunder storms approaching my area later in the day when I check the weather radar over the course of the day.
It’s forecast to be much cooler tomorrow, cool enough so that I’ll be able to spend the better part of the day outdoors without melting in the heat. In the meantime, here’s a couple of photos shot with the new camera last weekend.
Okay, it’s now Saturday morning, and I did go out to shoot photos yesterday. It was a relatively slow day overall as far as the number of birds that I saw, but there were plenty of flowers blooming, so I spent most of my time photographing them.
I’m going to attempt to refrain from going on and on about the new camera, however I’m sure that I’ll fail in that attempt. For one thing, because it was a slow day, I shot a good many photos just to see how the new 5D camera stacks up against the old 7D. Another reason that I’ll fail is because I was wowed when I saw how most of the images from the new 5D looked when I viewed them on the computer for the first time. So, I may as well get some of that out of my system to begin with.
Early on in my day, I came across 4 juvenile barn swallows that must have just recently left the nest. There were two of them together side by side and they were the closest of the four to me. So, I shot this photo with the 100-400 mm lens and 1.4 X tele-converter on the 7D.
That’s the way that it came out of the 7D, I did zero editing to it.
I then switched to the 5D with the same lens and tele-converter at the same ISO setting of 4000 for this one.
You can see how much reach I lose with the full frame sensor, what you can’t see in the way that the images appear here is how little noise that there is in the image shot with the 5D compared to the one shot with the 7D. The noise shows up more when I view both images full screen on my computer, and the noise would definitely be a problem if I were to print them out, I’d have to do some noise reduction in Lightroom before I could print them, especially the one shot with the 7D.
Anyway, it was a cool morning, a break from the heat wave we’ve been having, and the two swallows were huddled together for warmth I’m assuming. I moved a little closer to them and shot a few photos every now and then when I thought that their poses were good or if I thought that they were going to fly. I caught this “swallow kiss” between siblings by doing that.
From what I understand, touching beaks together is one way that birds show affection towards each other.
I thought that the one on the left was going to fly away at one point…
…but it was only stretching its wings. I could have spent more time watching these two…
…but they were getting fed up with me being so close. And, when one of their parents flew towards them to feed them, then turned away when it saw me…
…I knew that it was time for me to leave.
By the way, I was so happy with the way that those images looked when they came out of the camera that I did nothing to them at first, I went back to them a second time to crop them a little and to tweak the exposure slightly, although I should have moved one way or the other to have gotten a better background or spent more time editing them in Lightroom.
Since I’m raving about the new 5D, I may as well throw this one in now.
I wanted both swans with their entire reflections in the frame, but I couldn’t get the exact shot I wanted, so that had to do. I then zoomed in all the way on the swan on the left as it began preening.
And, while I’m showing white birds, here’s a herring gull that I shot later in the day.
I know, too many images of common birds that I post too many photos of, but white birds are difficult to photograph well, and these were shot with the 5D, so I wanted to compare its performance to images I’ve shot in the past with the 7D.
I wish that I had been able to get even closer to the gull so that I could make a direct comparison to my best image of a gull shot with the 7D from a few months ago…
…but I think that you can see more detail in the white feathers of the gull shot with the 5D even at the greater distance.
Birds that are colored black are also difficult to photograph well in many situations, this wasn’t one of those.
There were four ravens in the field, but I shot photos of only one of them, just to record my sighting of them.
I did shoot this image later in the day for the purpose of testing how well the 5D handles a black bird against a blue sky…
…and while the sky looks lighter in that image than it did in person, I didn’t have to reduce the highlights 100% in Lightroom which also kills the sheen from the bird’s feathers as I usually have to do. Here’s how the sky should have looked in the image above.
Those two added stops of dynamic range that the 5D has means that I have much less editing to do to my photos when I get home. I could work on the image of the red-winged blackbird more to get the sky the correct color, but it isn’t worth it to do so. You couldn’t ask for a worse day as far as hash shadows, you can’t see a cloud in the sky in any of the images that I shot yesterday…
…yet the 5D’s dynamic range helped me produce images that look very close to what I saw without having to raise the shadows under the bird’s wings to the point where doing so introduced noise in the images.
I have some very good images of other subjects that I shot…
…that was with the 100 mm macro lens on the 7D, these sunflowers were with the long lens and the 5D…
…and I put the macro lens on the 5D for this one.
I had a great time with whatever camera and lens I was using at the time. Good gear may not guarantee great images, but it sure makes the act of shooting even the bad images that I shot more fun. And, it was a day for playing…
…even when I purposely under-exposed that image to highlight how sparkly the water looked under the cloudless sky.
Since it was a day for playing around, I shot a series of images to stitch together into a panorama in Lightroom to show how many mute swans I could see from the observation deck at the Muskegon Lake Nature Preserve, but that was a failed effort. It didn’t fail due to Lightroom, but it was because the swans moved, along with the waves and some of the other things in the scenes as I shot them. I didn’t know that it would be a failure, but I suspected it would be, so I shot this scene wide, then cropped off the top and bottom of this image.
I didn’t know that mute swans would form flocks, because they are usually very territorial. It’s kind of fun to watch them, as for no reason that I can see, battles often break out between members of the flock. You can hear them going at it even when you can’t see them, but they never approach the preserve so that I’d be close enough for photos, at least not good photos.
I hope that I have all of that out of my system now, but I’m not sure. One thing that I am sure of though is that this new camera will work extremely well in combination with the camera that I have been using. I do still have a lot to learn about the new camera as I get to use it more, and how best to use it in conjunction with the old camera. That will come with time. I also have to do more testing, for example, the 300 mm lens that I seldom use any longer may work well on the new camera with the 2 X tele-converter behind it, I’ll have to give that combination a try soon. I have no doubt that it will work well when I’m very close to my subject, I wish that I had brought that lens along while I was shooting the juvenile swallows.
There I go again, always thinking of ways to get the best images that I can with the gear that I have now, so I’d better end this post or I’ll be doing too much thinking here.
That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!