Wednesday, November 11, 2009

S90 Out in the wild

One of my longest followed blogs, Luminous-Landscapes, reviewed the S90. Now, the S90 is one camera I've been waiting for. It's not a large sensor in small camera but it is a small sensor in a really small camera. So far, the big sensor, small cameras out there - EP1, GF-1, GH-1, etc. etc. are still too big in my mind. If you can't put it in your shirt pocket and have to carry on a strap like a normal camera, then, you should pack a normal camera...
Now the S90 is really a shirt pocket-able camera, but is it the one I've been waiting for? Well, the review really was positive on the size, user interface and IQ(sort of) - it appears that IQ , even with that great G11 sensor with improved high ISO noise, still acts like a small camera sensor - and starts getting noisy at ISO 400 and above.
Disappointing. If it were cheaper I might still go for it but at $500 I think I'm sticking with my G9 as my travel cam and keep waiting....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween Horror

Not so fast., originally uploaded by photogeek21.

A little outdoor off camera flash work for Halloween shots of the kids. Got to use my shoot through umbrella for the first time. Think it worked out pretty well, I like that I was able to capture a bit of the sunset color in the backround as the kids are at the age where they've put up with alot of posing for Dad over the years and aren't too patient with me anymore so it teaches me be quick with the setup and shoot.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Great Site for laughs

While I'm always looking for sites to learn from and try new things in Photoshop or lightroom, I stumbled across this one that is going to be a regular visit for me - learn what NOT to do in photoshop. Hilarious -

Friday, October 2, 2009

I got mine...

One of my favorite bloggers and Mentors, David Hobby at the put out some corny magnets for us Off Camera Flash users. I just had to have one, since I didn't have the patience to do the world wide scavenger hunt for them, I did the logical thing - bought some strobist gear at Mpex, 2 shoot through umbrellas and some sync cords for my cactus triggers (it pained me every time I put a flash into those flimsy hot shoes.
Oh and for the pic, I cheated and used an Off Camera FLASHLIGHT in lieu of a flash, it was a quick and dirty setup....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

One I Like...

As I've said in several of my previous posts, I'm less than impressed with my Canon G9. I've been looking for a camera that's small and compact but doesn't make me compromise in image quality. Well, the G9 is just a bit too bulky, it's really not that much smaller than my SLR.
Well with the recent announcement of the Canon S90, I may have what I'm looking for. Canon took the sensor from the new G11 that was optimized for high sensitivity and low noise instead of Megapixel count and stuffed it into a shirt pocket sized camera.
Things I like:
  • bright F2.0 - 3.9 IS lens with a really useful range of 28-105mm.
  • M/AV/TV exposure modes for photographic exposure control.
  • High ISO, low noise sensor - so far samples look better than my G9.
  • Shoots RAW - I don't think I'll ever go back to a camera that doesn't shoot raw.
No prices yet, but I'd guess with the G11 at $499 this would be somewhere South of $300. If so, this may make my X-mas list.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Warrior

The Warrior, originally uploaded by photogeek21.

This is a shot from a recent game, which at the time I didn't think much of it, but with a little cropping and PP, I think it makes a good capture of this 'Warrior' just moments before the snap.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tough guy Setup

scale: 1 sq. = 1 sq. ft.
Found a cool lighting diagram maker on the web so I thought I include my diagram of the setup I used for 'Tough Guy'. Pretty cool tool. May start doing this for all my shots.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Tough guy

Tough guy, originally uploaded by photogeek21.

Combined a little 'Strobist' technique and some heavy PS work Dave Hill Style to come up with my 'Tough Guy' shot of Ryan. Thinking of offering these style portraits at 10frames. I know the DH look is way over done in the photo world but I think it could still be a fresh look for youth sports portraits - at least around here, I haven't seen it much.

And in case you're wondering about the pre production version:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Combining interests...

New Toy, originally uploaded by photogeek21.

Well, as you can probably guest from this picture my other interest involves firearms. Yea, I'm totally hooked on Action Pistol shooting. (one of the reasons my blogging dropped off this year is I upped attention on practice and range time and so when I acquired my new 'toy' here, I had to immortalize it in a 'strobist' style photo while it was still all new and pretty.
The shot turned out to be harder that I thought. As cool looking as I think my blaster looks, it's really hard to get it 'posed' right and to get a dramatic perspective. Man, all those gun magazines make it look so easy. In the end, it took a couple gels on the a strobe to give it the cold blue steel look that I liked, also set it for some extreme side lighting to enhance the contours of the pistols.
And for those interested, it's a custom built, competition 6" STI 2011 built by Benny Hill of Triangle Shooting Sports. Buying it is one of the main reasons this blog isn't called 'mkIIIshooter'....

Dirty G9? - Have screwdriver, will clean...or brick

From MkIIshooter
Ain't this pretty? My G9 seems to have a major spot on the sensor. And of course not in a inconspicuous corner, but right smack in my 'Rule of Thirds' line. I'd know how to handle this on my DSLRs but things like this aren't supposed to PS cameras, right? Isn't one of the design advantages of a fixed lens camera supposed to be the isolation of the sensor from the elements? I've never had this happen to any of my other (cheaper) PS cameras. So with less than 2,000 images of use I got a camera not worth using. I checked with Canon and of course my unit is out of warranty but they'll gladly clean it for $150...I don't think so.

Apparently, from the traffic on the Flickr G9 groups, this is a pretty common problem that comes from a poorly sealed lens that sucks in dust every time it extends and retracts. Some have reported sending their cameras to Canon for a cleaning only to have the spots show up a couple months later.

So armed with some small screw driver, pec pads, sensor brush and some eclipse, I gathered up the nerve to tear this sucker apart. - what could go wrong? It's basically useless now anyway right? Anyway here's video evidence it survived the surgery (warning- even though I sped up the video, it's still extremely boring!):

Post operation thoughts? Well, with these small sensors, this really should be done in a clean room the slightest dust is visible - It took two tries to get the image spot free (or at least usable). There are some really small components in there that could easily get lost or broken which may result in a $500 brick but with all that said, would I do it again? - heck yea, I'm not giving Canon another $150 for something that is a result of some poor engineering on their part.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dream Camera...Revisited

Today, I looked up the very first post I put up on this blog almost 3 years ago. In it, I said I had finally reached the end of my DSLR upgrade path with the acquisition of a Canon 1DmkII (the namesake of this blog). Reading it, I haven't change my mind...much. See my original post here.
Well 3 years later, I'm still shooting with my 1DmkII and still loving it. I almost pulled the trigger on the 1DmkIII last year but with all the issues with it's auto-focus, I stayed away. But not from buying a new cameras...
Canon G9 - so was my quest for the compact, high IQ camera fulfilled with the G9? Sadly no, not even close. While it's a really nice camera, it's one of the few camera purchases that I regret the most. The camera is not really that small, and the sensor is just too noisy at anything above about 200ISO. I thought I'd use it as a travel camera but most of the time I still bring my DSLRs - so the G9 has seen limited use as a video camera at the kids school and sporting events and some light macro work from time to time.
Canon 5DmkII - I decided to go full frame for the next camera. I figured the 1D is my sports camera, and the 5D would be everything else. And boy is it! Again, I wasn't looking for more Megapixels, 21megapixel raw files turned computer, which was blistering fast on the 1D files into a slug, My 500GB hard drives run for cover every time I come home with full CF cards. But boy are the files gorgeous - the resolution is so high, I feel like I don't need a macro lens - just zoom in 1:1 and see all the detail.
The full frame also gave me the wide angle coverage I'd been missing, my fisheye is a fisheye again, and I love the coverage of my 17-40 now. One downside is that one of my favorite lenses, the 70-200F4, vignettes on the FF! That sucks.
The low noise I get at high ISO's still amazes me after months of shooting with it.
So now is my upgrade path over? Naw, I know better now, a 1DmkIII may still be in the future. My quest for the pocket camera with a DSLR quality sensor is still far from over. Even with the camera makers getting closer, the Olympus Pen, Panasonic GF1, Sigma DP2, Leica X1 are cramming some real nice sensors into small packages - but each one has it's flaws. I thought we'd be there by now but maybe in another 3 years when this market segment gets as mature as the current DSLR market, I'll finally get my Dream Camera....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Boy this is getting too easy...

2009241_STYFL_35 Pano 2, originally uploaded by photogeek21.

One simple image? Maybe, but it chock full of technologies that made it so.
First off, I shot this at ISO 800 and while that's not considered extreme by today's standards, I wouldn't have dared shoot above ISO 400 on my old D30 for fear of noise. Todays sensors are just amazing, I never bothered installing any of the noise cancelling software when I last upgraded my computer - there just isn't a need anymore.
Next, my image stabilized (IS) lens let me shoot this at 1/20th of a second, handheld. The ability of IS to increase the range of handheld shots is reaching 4 stops, letting my F4 lens shoot in conditions that would have required an F1.0 lens without IS.
Finally, the panorama was autostitched from 3 images using Photoshop CS4 in about 5mins without any interaction from me. Gone are the days of using PTGui and picking control points, blending exposures by hand and cloning seams where the images overlapped. CS4s tool is the first automatic tool I've used that really works.
People who are getting into photography today probably don't reallize how good they got it. I still remember having to FOCUS a camera and use a manual light meter - abilities not needed today. I don't think that makes me any better as a photographer - on the contrary, I think getting all that technical hinderance out of the way lets more people 'get the shot' and concentrate on the art not the science.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Runner up? I'll take that!

Scott Kelby announced the winner of his "Shoot the sidelines with Scott and Mike" sports photo contest today, and while I didn't win (darn it - it was a damn nice prize) my strobist inspired shot of Ryan, Skaterboy was in the final group of runner ups. To end up in that final group of shots out of the over 800 entries is really quite mindblowing - and it was way cool to see my work on one of the top photobloggers out there.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shooting the dogs

Shooting the dogs, originally uploaded by photogeek21.

A couple firsts for me on this recent family portrait shoot with the Green Family. It was my first time setting up remotely. Which is pretty nerve racking because I didn't know how much room I had to work with and the time pressure is there - I didn't want to spend all day setting up and taking test exposures while everybody's waiting. So I kept the lighting pretty simple and adjusted on the fly which did two things - It got the family a bit more comfortable in front of the camera and it gave the impression I knew what I was doing. By the time my exposure was dialed in everybody shook their shyness and we started having fun.
And speaking of fun, after getting a couple shots of this family of 5, they brought in their dogs for some shots - All 5 of them!. Now this was first for me as well - I though getting 5 people comfortable in front of a camera was tough - adding 5 dogs certainly up'ed the excitement...and the difficultly. Needless to say it was a shoot early and shoot often session with the dogs as they don't stay still for very long.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Just one take, CSLR Challenge 143

2009095_Spring Studio_141, originally uploaded by photogeek21.

Sometimes you only get one chance to get the shot. This was a fun shot I did just before packing up the 'studio'. It took a bit of planning - and an assistant. Lighting was provided with a single off camera strobe fired into a styro-foam igloo soft box. I bumped the iso up a bit to lower the strobe power down to 1/32. At this power I the strobe could cycle fast enough to keep up with the frame rate of my camera.
So once it was all set up, prefocused, and pre exposed, I shook the bottle really hard and started the cork, as soon as I saw it start to move, I put it down on the table and had my assistant hold the shutter down to fire off a series of shots. This was my favorite. I like the shot just hated the clean up afterwards.... BTW the shot took third in the CSLR challenge #43

Friday, February 20, 2009

CSLR Challenge 139: Results

Head n Hands, originally uploaded by photogeek21.

Well 'Shadow Detail' came in 10th. But the follow up shots I took for the challenge where I was just playing around with my fisheye lens did much better. 'Head n Hands' placed 3rd and got some traction on flickr as well. Surprising since it had my ugly mug in the shot...

Technology is awsome.

Still getting to know my 5DMkii, took a couple of shots around the house. Here's a shot of Matthew shot at night in the bedroom with a single light on in the other corner of the room at ISO3200. Man, this just blows my mind. With my 10D I wouldn't think of going over ISO800, My 1DMkii, I'd go ISO1600 if I had to but this shot blows those out of the water.
Like I said, I'm still getting to know this camera, but the more I shoot with it, the more I love it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Flash+Fisheye+Full Frame = Fun

The Thinker
Playing with this combination for a recent CSLR challenge and got some cool results. Going full frame was like getting a whole new bag of lenses! Never realized how wide 17mm was and now my fisheye properly covers 180 degrees!
Never thought of using a fisheye for a portrait but I figured since I was shooting a picture of me, I might as well make it as distorted as possible to distract from subject :)
Stopping down the 15mm fisheye really creates some extreme DOF - from my toes which are just inches from the lens to the clouds behind me - cool.

Friday, February 6, 2009

CSLR Challenge 139: Making of a Creative Self Portrait

2008 was a great year for my photography, I learned alot off the web and really tried to be consistent in getting out and shooting and doing the CSLR challenges - Even won a few. But starting a new job at the end of the year really put my camera back in the bag - Even a new 5Dmkii wasn't enough to get me going - man work sucks!
After a long hiatus, I finally get my first CSLR entry of 2009 with a composite black and white image, which, after finishing and posting it, I admit seems to rip off of the Debeer's Commercial. Oh well, it was fun getting back into the creative process. And just in case anyone is curious as how this shot is done...