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Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday, Dec 21, 2012 - BetterPhoto Contest Entry!

 Well it seems the world is not going to end after all!!!!  Better start blogging again!  LOL!

The Monarch Butterfly has long been known as the "Queen" of the butterfly world, and it is no surprise that the caterpillars are equally brilliant in color and design.  The caterpillars and adult butterflies are poisonous due to the presence of cardenolide aglycones from the milkweed plants the larvae feed on.  They can be toxic enough to make an animal sick, but rarely cause any real serious issues.  For this reasons animals identify with the bright coloring and stay away from eating them.  I find these insects very fascinating and I never turn down a chance to photograph one when I get the chance!

My BetterPhoto Gallery

Monday, December 17, 2012

Today's BetterPhoto Submission...

Today's image was shot with my 5D Mark III and the 24-105mm F4L IS lens...  Great combo for walking around with!!  I love to incorporate as much color as possible into an image!!  This is today's's contest entry... My Gallery

Sunday, December 16, 2012

This Month's National Geographic Submission

Every 15th of the Month or so I try and upload an image with the hopes of someday getting published into the highly recognized National Geographic Magazine...  I have yet to succeed, but the the competition there is fierce and number of submission a month is staggering I am sure!
In order to get selected your images need to be just a bit out of the ordinary to say the least...  Shock and awe is one way to get right in!!  An online friend got in with his image of a Great Blue Heron eating baby ducks!!  That's what these editors are looking for, and in turn their membership!  While I have never shot anything quite that intense, I try the best I can for different!
My choice for submission this month, comes from a recent outing this past summer on the river, where I noticed a Dragonfly nymph on a lily pad that was just starting to emerge into an adult Dragonfly!  I managed to get the boat around to the good side of the light and got this shot!  Hopefully this month it catches the eye's of an editor at NGM!!  One thing is for certain, that if you don't try, you can NEVER succeed!

Today's BetterPhoto Submission

I guess as my trademark name suggests, my photography must involve the shooting of frogs!  Well it does and it's something I enjoy doing very much...  It's not so much the capturing of just a frog, but the capture of the frog in a beautiful environment surrounded by great light and color that drives my obsession for these intriguing amphibians.  There is nothing better than the morning sunlight, and it's not uncommon to find me running around a marsh in the early hours of the morning looking for that one great shot!  The above shot was taken at 7:38am in the morning, while the sun was still low.  I find that after 10am, it's simply not worth trying to shoot frogs in the marsh, because after this time the sun is just too high in the sky, and you lose the really good light, and shadows..  Not to mention after 10am it starts getting hot, so they tend to find shade! After hundreds of frog shot's I still am looking for the next one that is different somehow and I keep on clicking!!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Camera of the Year

Popular Photography Magazine's top pick for Camera of the Year 2012 - Goes to the New EOS 5D Mark III !!  I can certainly say that I think they got this one right!  The 5D3 is a solid feature packed camera, with a fantastic 61 point Auto focus system, that is lightning fast to use,  Excellent noise and ISO performance throughout the range, Compact Flash and SD card slots available, in fact you can write to one or both cards, or right the same to both and use it as a working backup!  Very handy if your a wedding shooter, where the risk of losing images is something you don't want!
In a market where competition is fierce, especially from it's close rival Nikon, this is a great achievement for Canon in the Full Frame market.  Below is a shot I took with the Mark III...
Here is a link to the full article from Popular Photography...
Popular Website

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Shooting Hummingbirds

Photographing these tiny birds can be a tough challenge...  One that I am actually still trying to master!!  They move so fast it makes it almost impossible to get a nice sharp shot.  In the above shot the bird was perched so at least that helped!!  All you can do is practice, and eventually you will get a shot or two!
The Male Ruby Throats are what you are after in a shot!!  But like I said they are tough!!
Sharp focus is essential when shooting these guys, use as fast a shutter as you can, along with your servo focus mode to keep everything sharp..
It's always nice to capture Hummingbirds away from feeders and on natural things like flowers.  Scarlet runner beans are a favorite!!  Personally I do not like shots of Hummers with the feeders, natural flowers all the way!  So another tip is to plant the flowers close to feeders, they will visit both, and that makes for better chances to get some nice shots..  I didn't get a whole lot of time to shoot these guys this past summer, so hopefully next year will yield some better stuff!!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Instant Rebate: Save $70 on Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT

Canon's new top of the line flash gun currently has a nice $70 off instant rebate! Good until Dec 31, 2012!! Camera Canada lists it for $540 with the savings applied!

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Until Dec 31, 2012 - Get your hands on a 5D Mark III and 24-105mm F4L IS lens kit with an instant $400 off Canon Rebate!!

If you'd rather just the camera body with no lens, Canon is offering a $200 rebate for body only purchases for the 5D3!!

Camera Gear Storage

Proper Gear storage is essential, storing gear improperly can lead to devastating damage to delicate equipment such as lenses...  Environmental conditions such as humidity that is too high can lead to fungus forming and growing on an inner lens elements!  The fungus actually feeds on the special coatings on the elements, eventually if left unchecked destroying the optical quality of the lens!  Depending on where you live this problem can be worse than some drier areas, but all precautions should be taken to protect your valuable investment!  STACK-ON makes a very nice gun safe that can be transformed into a perfect safe spot for camera gear storage!  Not just from theft, but environmental conditions as well!  On the theft point, once locked, it's not coming open!  Slide bolts hold the door sealed shut!  Worried about someone carting off the entire safe, forget about it!  This thing weights 550Lbs..... EMPTY!

Inside the safe it can be fully re-arranged from storing guns, to storing your delicate camera gear!  Lots of room inside for climate controlled storage...  Some of the worst places to store your gear is actually left inside a camera bag.  Things can't breathe very well inside those and humidity can also be a problem.  Inside a leather or fabric bag fungus can happen, and small desiccant pouches do very little to help this problem.  They saturate very quickly with moisture, and in short order they can actually be a source for moisture in your camera bag.  The best storage for gear is on a shelf in the open air, which is what essentially this safe provides...  With lots of space you can put everything into one secure area, and know where it is!  I have also equipped this safe with Dri-Rods, two 12 inch rods that are plugged in and produce a continuous low heat that constantly run and dry the air inside the safe.  They cost virtually nothing to run, because they are only 8watts each, and last practically forever!  You can see them at the bottom in this picture to the right attached to the back...

The carpeted shelves and inside make for a nice interior, and my cameras are always ready to go at a moments notice!  In the back corner I have a STACK-ON cordless humidifier, and also have equipped the safe with 4 compact florescent lights that help burn up the humidity if it happens to get really bad.  On average though I do use them very much, but they are there if I feel I need them.  All the electrical has been routed up through the bottom of the safe where 2 small holes have been left that allow you to bolt the safe to the floor if you wanted to..  But for my purposes they came in very handy to route my electrical needs, from which I mounted a power bar to one of the interior sides to plug in the lights and the Dri-Rods..

As mentioned earlier it is always best to store lenses in an open air environment.  Storage inside camera bags, and even inside original OEM boxes should be avoided for the long term.  Remember Fungus likes an environment where humidity reaches levels above 60%, and couple that with a dark and airless storage environment, and you could be setting yourself up for a real headache!  Once fungus gets into a lens, it's very difficult, and very expensive to get rid of.  Once on an element it destroys the coating, so in the very least even if you do get it cleaned and manage to remove the fungus, there's the real possibility of some marring left on the glass where the fungus was.  Also remember, fungus spores are tiny, you can't see them, so there is a real possibility of it coming back given the conditions fungus like to grow in.

Temperature and humidity levels can be monitored easily with help from a digital gauge like this Honeywell.  It also doesn't hurt to have more than one, located at different levels because the humidity will vary somewhat.  The Dri-Rods I have located on the bottom of the safe create a dry wall of air the circulates it around, and that makes humidity levels vary slightly at different levels, but in my safe it seems pretty stable through out.  I am usually reading a stable humidity level of 40-50% which is perfect for camera gear.  It's reading 53% in the picture only because I had the door open for few minutes to take pictures.  The protection this safe offers in comparison to just the normal house humidity is 10-25% !!  This is a huge improvement, and some piece of mind that your gear is stored properly in an environment that is controlled...

STACK-ON also makes these great cordless Dehumidifiers which once saturated with moisture are completely rechargeable simply by plugging into the wall!  They heat up and dry the desiccant crystals and after 8 hours, they are ready to go back in and do their job!  I use two of these units, one at the bottom and one at the top.  They retail for about $30 and are well worth the cost being totally re-usable!
Well I guess that concludes this edition!!  I hope someone finds this helpful in protecting their valuable camera investment...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Photo Editing Monitors...

As a photographer we all know the costs of cameras and lenses, even what a decent tripod, or even a good quality lens filter can cost... One thing that can easily be overlooked is a good decent display! After all if your not seeing your images on a properly calibrated, color correct panel, just how are you suppose to edit your images properly?

Most computer monitors are cheap TN panels and these can be very poor for photo editing, due to issues with color and accuracy. When shopping for a good editing panel, you want one that incorporates an IPS screen. These are far better for color accuracy...

There are several brands available, both Dell and Apple make very nice panels. I own Dell's U2711 and it is fantastic unit that actually comes pre calibrated and is ready to go straight out of the box! The panel has presets for both SRGB, and Adobe 1998 color spaces... The nice thing about these panels is what you see on your monitor is practically how you see your prints, when you use a properly calibrated print shop that is! So bottom line, if you want to get the most out of your photography, get the most out of your monitor! Research the best IPS units, you won't be sorry!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A new EOS 7D Mark II ???

Rumors of a new 7D mark II have been reported on the net to appear sometime in January 2013..  This camera is posed to replace both the 60D and the current 7D models...  The 7D has been a supreme camera for Canon and in a lot of respects has been crowned one of the very best APS-C cameras for the past 3+ years!  The new model is reported to be a 20+ megapixel camera, with a possible 10 fps shooting capability!!

I for one am hoping for Canon's 61 point AF system currently shared by both the 5D3 and 1DX models!  Let's keep our fingers crossed on this one!

Canon Camera Rebates - Until Nov. 30, 2012

Instant Rebate: Save $100 on Select Canon EOS Cameras

Receive an instant savings of $100.00 with the purchase of any of the following Canon EOS DSLR Cameras:
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon EOS 7D
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EOS Rebel T4i
Rebate offer expires November 30, 2012

Canon Lens Rebates - Until Nov. 30, 2012

Instant Rebates: Save $100 on Select Canon Lenses

Receive an instant savings of $100.00 with the purchase of any of the following Canon SLR Lenses:
Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM
Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8L II USM
Canon EF 35mm f1.4L USM
Canon EF 50mm f1.2L USM
Canon EF 85mm f1.2L II USM
Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L USM
Canon EF 70-200mm f4L IS USM
Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM
Canon EF 300mm f4.0L IS USM

Rebate offer expires November 30, 2012

Not a lot of savings here from Canon at this time...  I will keep you up to date!

The all new Canon EOS 6D Entry Level Full-frame camera..

This is Canon's newest full frame camera...  Designed to be an entry level unit, a model below the current 5D mark III...  Let's compare the two quickly...

EOS 6D Specs

  • 20.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • 3.0" Clear View High Resolution LCD
  • DIGIC 5+ Image Processor
  • Built-In Wi-Fi and GPS Connectivity
  • Full HD 1080p with Manual Controls
  • 11-Point AF with Center Cross-Type Point
  • 63-Zone Dual Layer Metering Sensor
  • Extended ISO Range of 50-102400
  • Up to 4.5 Full Resolution FPS

  • EOS 5D mark III

  • 22.3 Megapixel Full Frame CMOS sensor
  • DiG!C 5+ Image Processor
  • ISO 100-25600 (expandable to L:50 H1:51200, H2: 102400
  • Full HD Movie (ISO 100-12800 (H:25600)    High Performance Operation
  • 61-point high-density reticular AF (up to 41 crosstype points)
  • 6.0 fps for high continuous shooting
  • Intelligent viewfinder with approx. 100% coverage
  • 3.2-type, approx.1.04m dot (3:2 wide) Clear View LCD II
  • iFCL metering with 63-zone dual-layer sensor
  • Shutter durability of 150,000 cycles    High end features
  • Silent & low vibration modes
  • Dual card slots (CF & SD)
  • High Dynamic Range (HDR) Mode
  • Multiple Exposures
  • Comparative Playback function
  • Improved durability & water and dust resistance 

  • Price Points

    6D -   $2099.00 - Body only
    5D3 - $3599.00 - Body only

    One neat thing that the 6D offers that the 5D does not is built in wireless..  The built-in Wi-Fi® transmitter allows you to wirelessly transfer your images to social networking sites through CANON iMAGE GATEWAY#, or upload virtually anywhere from your iOS or Android smartphone* with the free download of the EOS Remote app**. You can use your smartphone for remote camera control and operation (with the EOS Remote app), or even print your images on a Wi-Fi® compatible printer.

    There are reason's the 5D3 price is considerably more than the 6D and you really should look at both bodies before making a decision on either one.  The biggest thing that separates the 2 cameras is the Auto focus systems.  The 6D incorporates an 11 point AF system, while the 5D3 uses the outstanding 1D X 61 point system from Canon's top of the line flagship body.  I can tell you first hand that it works flawlessly!  fast and accurate.  Something to be looked at very closely when deciding between these 2 cameras...

    The nice thing that Canon has down here is given buyers 2 different price points for those wanting a full frame DSLR...  Which one is for you ultimately is your decision, but which ever you choose you can bet both will produce outstanding images...

    Canon's 85mm 1.2L Quick Review...

    Well folks!  I finally got my hands on one of these beasts!  First impressions of this lens start with just how heavy this lens is!  Right out of the box your first words will be Wow!  This thing is no light weight!  At 36.2 oz (1025g) you know its there!  The reasoning for this is Canon put some very high quality glass into this Lens, and the better the glass, and wider the aperture, the heavier things usually get!

    Included with this "L" series lens is the usual lens hood, which is a snap on version, and works pretty good.  I think I like this design better than the standard twist and lock!  It also comes with the standard leather lens pouch, that if you are like me never gets used!

    One thing that amazes me is that while the lens is weather sealed it does lack the seal on the mount...  Because of the lens mounts design, this was left out..  No a big deal but something I wanted to mention..

    This lens gives the photographer the true freedom of shooting at the f1.2 aperture and being able to get outstanding images!  I have shot with lenses such as the 24-70mm 2.8L Mark I, and almost always the wide aperture 2.8 was soft and basically usable for most print needs.  The 85L is simple stunning wide open, and 1.2 is fully usable for print work.  To the right and below are 3 shots to illustrate it's wide f1.2 capabilities...

    The real nice thing about being able to shoot sharp images at f1.2 is the ability to isolate the subject from the background!  Any background becomes a creamy heaven in an instance, while the subject is left to jump out of the image!  Shooting wide open with this glass also allows lots of light in, which can give you lightning fast shutter speeds!  The shot to the right was shot at 1/8000, and it was an overcast day!

    Shooting at f1.2 has it's limitations...  Depth of Field is very very thin, so great care with focusing must be made.  This shot of the dog illustrates how effective f1.2 can be.  This eyes are in good focus plane, but notice how the nose is blurred?  this is because of the narrow depth of field up close to the subject...  Either opening up the aperture or stepping back further from the subject is all you can do to correct this from happening.  In this shot it was my intention, but always keep this in mind when shooting wide open with this lens.  Some care and fore thought should be taken with this lens, to avoid focus disappointments!  That said it is a terrific lens for anyone who wants to get creative!

    The shot below is opened up a bit to demonstrate just how razor shape this lens can be...  At f5.0 things sharpen up really nice!  Background blur is still very pleasing, and I find that shooting any more stopped down for me will rarely be needed with this lens.
    CONCLUSION:  If you seriously want a high quality lens that can produce stunning images this is the work horse for you!  The only downsides for this lens is it is very heavy, seriously..  That said you soon don't mind the weight once you start seeing the results on your LCD screen.  The only other negative is the speed of the AF on this lens, it is slow, with all that heavy glass inside it takes it's time to move it, which for staged "people" photography is not a problem.  You may find that focusing on moving or fast action to be a bit of a problem.  Not a use I purchased this lens for, but something to consider if you have other ideas..  Lastly is the price point, at $2100 dollars it is a significant investment.  Compared to the non "L" series 85mm 1.8, you are paying the extra for a wider aperture f1.2, better glass elements, weather-sealing, and build quality.  The 1.8 is still a very capable lens and should also be highly considered if $$$ is a factor...

    Photofroggy Rating

    Build                ★★★★★
    Optical quality  ★★★★★
    Price                ★★★
    Performance     ★★★★  Only because of the sluggish AF speed!!!