Monthly Archives: November 2012

Anticline Overlook, Utah

Anticline Overlook Map

I’ve been remiss about “feeding the beast” and making regular weekly contributions to my site (and don’t even ask me about the reading catch-up I need to do with my favorite blogs).  It’s the holiday season and I’ve been involved with other  photo business, which has kept me occupied with non-blog issues.  I now have enough vacation to take every Friday off for the remainder of the year, so hopefully these 3-day weekends will give me more time to catch up on  the blogosphere.

As previously promised, this article is not about any camera/lens comparisons.  Instead, I want to tell you about  an interesting, somewhat out-of-the-way viewing area I visited en route to Moab, Utah.

During the planning stages of my Mesa Verde NP / Arches NP trip this past August 2012, I was looking at Google Maps and noticed a side road off of Hwy 191 (the road to Moab), with the title “Needles / Anticline Overlooks”.  An anticline!  Yeah!  I like geology.  I have a couple of degrees in geology, as a matter of fact.  I’d LOVE to see an anticline.  So I added that to my itinerary.

The route to Anticline Overlook is a 31-mile, 2-lane (more or less) road – 16 miles of which is on gravel .  It’s a well-tended gravel so I didn’t worry too much about driving the rental car along the road (I should have taken a photo of how dusty the car looked upon my return to the main highway).

Where the paved portion ends and the gravel begins, you have the choice of turning left to the Needles Overlook or continuing on to Anticline Overlook.   I decided to save Needles for another time.

B5A6564_Prong Horn Antelope

This prong horn antelope was standing in the middle of the road, but by the time I stopped the car and grabbed the camera, it had sauntered off, totally ignoring me and my pleas to look my way for a portrait shot.

The ultimate destination ends in a loop, with plenty of room for parking and a nice little pit toilet.  A short trail leads to the overlook, with views  northwest, north, and northeast.  The view is expansive and the air fresh and clear.

C2C7648_Trail To Anticline Overlook

B5A6576_Thorns

Some thorny bushes along the path.  Wouldn’t want to get tangled in this stuff!

B5A6587_Solar Evaporation Ponds for Potash

Solar evaporation potash ponds near the Colorado River.

C2C7659_Anticline Overlook Vista

C2C7683_Located North

C2C7676_Cane Creek Canyon

Looking north toward Dead Horse Point and Canyonlands NP.  The Kane Creek Anticline is to your left.  The Colorado River meanders its way from the left of the photo over to the right of the photo.

B5A6589_Anticline Overlook View

B5A6653_Ribbon Of Road

A dirt road winding through the canyon landscape.

B5A6595_Tilted Beds

Tilted beds.

C2C7696_Kane Creek Canyon

C2C7653_Kane Creek Canyon CROP

Kane Creek Canyon, to the northeast.

B5A6643_Within Kane Creek Canyon

A view within the canyon.

C2C7714_The Road Back to Hwy 191

Heading back to the main highway and then on to Moab.

B5A6657_Antelope In The Distance

Prong horn antelope in the distance as I leave Anticline Overlook.

If you are traveling Hwy 191 Utah –  north to or south from Moab – and your vehicle  can handle the gravel, this is a neat side trip for a great view of Utah’s canyon lands and geology.

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Filed under Geology, Photography, Travel, Utah

40-Acre Lake, A Tripod, Three Cameras and Three Lenses

5570_Becky At The Pier

The weather here in my part of southeast Texas has finally started to cool down.  During this past week, the mornings have been crisp, cool, and humidity-free.   Since it was my Friday off (my company gives us every other Friday off in return for working 9 days, 10 hours each day), I decided it would be the perfect time to make a morning trip out to Brazos Bend State Park for some sunrise images and some camera/lens comparisons.  I also wanted to see what kind of birdlife was still out there.  You see, it’s winter here.

Winter at Brazos Bend State Park means  there are fewer people (at least, on a week day), the water levels are much lower, and much of the water vegetation has died off.  For all of this, though, there is still the cacophony of hoots, honks, caws, and tweets filling the air from the attendant birdlife within the park.

As I drove to the park, I could see in my driver-side mirror the glorious golds, reds, blues and pinks of the sunrise.  I hoped it would still be as colorful upon my arrival, but I’d resigned myself to whatever Mother Nature provided, since I wouldn’t get to my chosen spot until a little after 7AM.  I got a front-row parking spot at 40-Acre Lake, where I traipsed down to the fishing pier and set up my tripod.  Needless to say, I was pleased to see some color and contrast still around as I started to photograph the lake scene.

With the swampy sunrise of 40-Acre Lake before me, I compared the Canon 24-70mm f2.8L USM II lens and the Canon 24-105mm f4L USM lens on both the Canon 1DX and 5D Mark III.

I’ve been wanting the 24-70mm for quite some time – particularly since I’ve read it’s a good event lens suited for low-light circumstances (weddings, parties, other groups)  I eschewed the original version in favor of the newer mk II version (but not the even-newer version with IS, because that is not fast enough for my needs).

Following are the original raw images for each lens and camera, followed by their respective 100% crops, followed by my final edited version.   Every image here had the same settings of 1/60, f5.6, and 250 ISO.

The Canon 1DX and 24-70mm lens

At 24mm:

H5T3545_Raw_1DX_24-70_24MM

H5T3545_Raw_1DX_24-70_24MM_100PCT

H5T3545_40-Acre Sunrise

At 70mm:

H5T3548_Raw_1DX_24-70_70mm

H5T3548_Raw_1DX_24-70_70mm_100PCT

H5T3548_40-Acre Sunrise

The Canon 1DX and 24-105mm lens

At 24mm:

H5T3538_Raw_1DX_24-105_24MM

H5T3538_Raw_1DX_24-105_24MM_100PCT

H5T3538_1DX_24-105_24mm

At 70mm:

H5T3576_Raw_1DX_24-105_70mm

H5T3576_Raw_1DX_24-105_70mm_100PCT

H5T3576_1DX_24-105_70MM

The Canon 5D Mk III and 24-70mm lens

At 24mm:

U9A2189_Raw_5DMKIII_24-70_24MM

U9A2189_Raw_5DMKIII_24-70_24MM_100PCT

_U9A2189_40-Acre Lake Sunrise

At 70mm:

U9A2207_Raw_5DMKIII_24-70_70MM

U9A2207_Raw_5DMKIII_24-70_70MM_100PCT

U9A2207_5DMkIII_24-70)70MM

The Canon 5D Mk III and 24-105mm lens

At 24mm:

U9A2198_Raw_5DMKIII_24-105_24MM

U9A2198_Raw_5DMKIII_24-105_24MM_100PCT

U9A2198_5DMkIII_24-105_24MM

At 70mm:

U9A2201_Raw_5DMkIII_24-105_70MM

U9A2201_Raw_5DMkIII_24-105_70MM_100PCT

U9A2201_5DMkIII_24-105_70MM

Since I brought it along, I also ran some shots using the Canon 5D Mk II, but only with the 24-105mm lens.  By that time, the sun and its supreme colors had run their  course, so the edited images below don’t have quite the same color as the edited images above, taken just a little bit earlier (this is a good example of why photographers need to be at their sunrise locations before sunrise, since optimal sunrise lighting is so quick to run its course).

At 24mm:

5556_5DMKII_24-105_24MM

5556_5DMKII_24-105_24MM_100PCT

5556_5DMKII_24-105_24MM

At 70mm:

5560_5DMKII_Raw_24-105_70MM

5560_5DMKII_Raw_24-105_70MM 100PCT

5560_5DMKII_24-105_70MM

Here’s my opinion, and you can take it for what it’s worth, since  I’m not a technical expert.  What I do notice from the raw images is that every image needed a little Unsharp Mask as well as some “oomph” added to jazz up the colors and more accurately depict what my eyes actually viewed.  My eyes did indeed see brilliant, saturated colors that morning.  The camera just can’t completely pick up on what the eye sees – at least not in the somewhat low light of the morning.  And, I probably need to work with my camera’s white balance settings – I just haven’t gotten around to that  yet.  When I photographed other things throughout the morning, as the light got better and I increased the aperture from 5.6 to 7.1, the images produced needed hardly any processing at all.  I think it’s all about the light.

So, these lenses are not sub-par for L-lenses, simply because these sunrise scenes needed some processing.  Far from it.  They are awesome lenses – both of them.   I think that the 24-70 is sharper than the 24-105, and portraits look great with this lens.  The 24-105 lens is a great overall lens to use and carry around, and has a greater reach at 105mm than the 24-70mm lens (and, it is an L-lens with all of the quality that goes with the moniker).  Plus, the 24-70 lens doesn’t have IS.  That being said, I absolutely LOVE my 24-70 lens and it was worth the price of admission for me.  Personal opinion.

So what’s that third lens I mentioned in this post’s title?  The Canon 100-400mm lens.   I used it with the 1DX.

H5T3647_Great Blue

H5T3839-3_Preening

H5T3696-2_Perched

H5T3893_Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

H5T3886_Three Dudes

I don’t promise that this will be the last comparison post I ever make (in case any of you are getting bored because you aren’t Canon owners or else you just don’t give a rip), but I do promise my next post will be a scenic trip to Anticline Overlook in Utah, with no camera or lens comparisons at all.

U9A2242_Taking A Break

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Full-Frame Goodness; A Comparison of the Canon EOS 5D Mark III and Canon EOS 1DX

5256_Cameras Together

5348_Cameras #1

5326_Cameras Back

I love full-frame cameras.  I own a Canon 5D Mk II, and before that, I had the Canon 5D.   Almost all of the prints I make are enlargements up to and beyond 16×24.  At times I also do a fair amount of cropping.  I like the extra clarity a full-framer can provide for such purposes.

In addition to landscapes and portraits, though, I photograph stuff that moves (dancers, birds, stage performers out at the Texas Renaissance Festival and other wildlife of the 2-legged and 4-legged kind).  My 5D Mk II is a wonderful camera, but it’s quite slow.  Also – in addition to this whole speed thing – I realized I needed something tough and reliable under unpredictable circumstances.  You see, if things work according to plan (fingers crossed, knock on wood) I will be traveling to Alaska’s Katmai Peninsula in July 2013.  I really wanted something that could withstand the elements.   Oh, ok, plus I really really wanted the 1DX – sort of like a guy wanting a Tesla Roadster.

For these reasons, I bit the bullet and purchased the 5D Mk III and the 1DXto get the latest digital improvements as well as satisfy that need for speed and solid construction. Yeah baby, It’s gonna be Ramen noodles every night for dinner for quite awhile….

Since I have both of these awesome cameras, I thought I would do a little comparison of the two, hence this post. Bear in mind, please, that while I consider myself a fine photographer, I am not an expert nor am I a technical person.  I don’t really pixel-peep too much either – I just want my images to look great, no matter what the pixel count. I write this post simply as a photographer using both cameras.  Everything you read here is my own personal opinion.  Adorama or B&H Photo has the in-depth, technical descriptive stuff, so I won’t go into that kind of detail here.  Instead, I will tell you about my practical experience with each camera.

Out of the box:

Canon 5D Mk III:

5271_5dMkIII Front

5263_5D Mk III Back

The 5D Mark III with L-bracket and 50mm f1.2L  lens

  • It’s a little heavier than the Mk II; feels more “substantial”.
  • I like the feel of the plastic covering – its more “grippy”, which is a good thing since I have small, arthritic hands.
  • The On/Off switch is now on the top left of the camera, just below the Mode Dial.
  • The buttons and menu layout are somewhat different and I got a little lost trying to find my favorite settings; this because there are quite a few more “bells and whistles” on the menu (like the in-camera HDR which I haven’t tried yet but plan on experimenting with when I travel to Arches NP in February 2013).
  • The battery for this camera is the same as the battery for the 5D Mk II, which is nice, since I have a number of extra batteries and now, an extra charger, too.
  • This camera can accommodate two memory cards at the same time: a CF card and a SD card. Why Canon decided on using the SD card option rather than another CF slot is anybody’s guess. I had to go out and buy a number of SDs because of this. Of course, you really don’t need to use both card slots if you don’t want – I like it, though, because that means a little less time taken to switch out a full card with an empty card during moments when time is of the essence. With two cards, I can just keep right on shooting during key moments.
  • It’s much faster than the 5D Mark II (Yeah!)

Canon 1DX:

5275_1DX Front

5266_1DX Back

The 1DX with L-bracket and 85mm f1.2 lens

  • It’s Big!  Much larger and heavier than the 5D Mk III.  Surprisingly, neither the size nor weight bother my small hands; of course, I wanted the 1DX so badly that nothing about this camera would have caused me discomfort.
  • When I pulled the 1DX out of the box, I definitely had the instruction manual open beside me since I was in relatively new territory here.   Buttons are in different places, the menu is different, etc.
  • The On/Off switch is essentially in the same area as the switch on the 5D Mk II.
  • The memory card compartment opens in a totally different way from the Mk II or Mk III.   You have to turn that little latch you see below the On/Off switch, in order to flip open the CF card compartment door.

5286_1DX Card Slot

  • The vertical grip has its own set of buttons and dials (awesome!)
  • The spare battery is large and expensive.   Below is a comparison shot of the 1DX battery next to the 5D Mk III battery, both of which are next to a 77mm filter I threw in for scale.

5311_batteries

  • A spare charger is the price of a non-L lens (and no, I did not purchase a spare charger…..yet).
  • This camera accepts 2 CF cards.  Again, you only have to use one of the two slots, if you wish.
  • It’s WAAAAAYYYYYY faster than the 5D Mk II and the 5D Mk III (Double Yeah!!)

Neither cameras have on-camera flash (not professional, you know) – I personally think it would be helpful for fill-flash use, but whatever.

*************************************************************************

I used these cameras for a family photo shoot, and the family graciously consented (and signed model releases) for me to use their photos in this post.  For this family photo session, I made sure the same settings were selected for both cameras, and I used three lenses:

I switched lenses between the two cameras (when I remembered to do so), in order to have comparison shots.  Naturally, there was still some change of position or movement, but not as much as there would have been with, say, photos of the Gypsy Dance Theatre performers at the Texas Renaissance Festival. Winking smile

**************************************************************************

Ok, as everybody should know by now, it’s not always all about the pixels. Manufacturers have come a long way since my first 2MP point-and-shoot back in 1999.  Nowadays, a high-end camera is going to have great resolution, regardless of the pixel count, and fewer pixels mean they are larger  and thus allow more light to enter onto the image.  You will notice that the 1DX images tend to look a little lighter than the 5D Mk III images, even with the same settings on both cameras; I suspect the larger pixel size on the 1DX is the reason for this.

The 1DX has 18 MP (3MP less than the 5D Mk II) and the 5D Mk III has 22 MP (1MP more than the 5D Mk II). I was really, really pleased (read: ecstatic) with the resolution, clarity, light and depth from the resulting images taken by both cameras (no, I did not take any photos with the 5D Mk II at this session so I don’t have any comparison images between the three…..but….all of the photos you see here of the cameras were taken with my 5D Mk II and 40mm pancakelens, and I didn’t use any sharpening whatsoever for those images, so you can see just how good the 5D Mk II is).

Here are unedited, straight-from-the-camera images and their 100% crops for the 5D Mk III

_U9A1983

_U9A1983_100PCT

Lens used:  24-70mm f2.8L II

_U9A2048

U9A2048_100PCT

Lens used:  85mm f1.2L II

_U9A2067

_U9A2067_100PCT

Lens used:  24-70mm f2.8L II

_U9A2076

_U9A2076_100PCT

Lens used:  24-70mm f2.8L II

_U9A2080

_U9A2080_100PCT

Lens used: 24-70mm f2.8L II

_U9A2109

_U9A2109_100PCT

Lens used:  24-70mm f2.8L II

_U9A2113

_U9A2113_100PCT

Lens used:  24-70mm f2.8L II

_U9A2152

_U9A2152_100PCT

Lens used:  50mm f1.2L

Here are unedited, straight-from-the-camera images and their 100% crops for the 1DX

_H5T3370

_H5T3370_100PCT

Lens used: 24-70mm f2.8L II

_H5T3411

_H5T3411_100PCT

Lens used:  24-70mm f2.8L II

_H5T3431

_H5T3431_PCT

Lens used:  85mm f1.2L II

_H5T3437

_H5T3437_100PCT

Lens used:  85mm f1.2L II

_H5T3439

_H5T3439_100PCT

Lens used:  85mm f1.2L II

_H5T3467

_H5T3467_100PCT

Lens used: 85mm f1.2L II

_H5T3482

_H5T3482_100PCT

Lens used: 85mm f1.2L II

_H5T3516

_H5T3516_100PCT

Lens used: 85mm f1.2L II  I used the tripod for this image

As I look at the 100% crops of the images, I notice some of them look a little soft.  So when editing them, I did use a very little bit of Unsharp Mask ( but that’s because I am of the opinion that every image benefits from just a little bit of sharpening, anyway).   Based upon what I have seen from other raw images I have taken with these camewras (ex. images from the TX Renfaire), I attribute this bit of softness to camera shake (i.e. me)  –  I only used the tripods for one set of photos (the last photos listed for each camera, where the model is standing beside that gray & black painting – which she painted herself) and hand-held the cameras for rest of the time. Why, when I had the tripods there?  Dunno,  I just did.

H5T3329_Mommy-Baby-Camera

So there’s the probable camera shake, plus none of the lenses I used had IS.

Here are some of the final, edited images from the 5D Mk III

U9A1983_Valerie and Emmeline

U9A2067-3_Val & Crochet Umbrella VIGNETTE

H5T3475_Walking Away VIGNETTE

U9A2107-3_Family Photo CROP

U9A2113_Mommy-baby-HeartUmbrella

Here are some of the final, edited images from the 1DX

H5T3370_Mommy and Daughter

H5T3431-4_Val & Crochet Parasol VIGNETTE

H5T3439_Lovely Ladies VERTICAL VIGNETTE

H5T3511_Hands

H5T3516_Val & Painting VIGNETTE

I made liberal use of the Vignette sliders in the Photoshop Lens Correction filter because it just really worked well (IMO) with many of these images.

My Conclusions:

I LOVE bothof these cameras.

I love the 5D Mk III’s increase in resolution, clarity, sturdy feel, and amazing output.  I love the 1DX for basically everything.  Period.  But I especially love the 1DX for its speed.  I’ve managed to capture pics I could never have gotten with the 5D Mk II.

That being said, I still also love my 5D Mk II.  It takes awesome full-frame images.   It’s just not as fast as I truly need.  If you own a 5D Mk II and are contemplating the purchase of the Mk III or 1DX, I urge you to hold onto your Mk II a little longer – at least as a backup to your newer camera model.  If you are thinking of purchasing a full-frame camera (especially if you’ve never owned one before), the price has come down alotfor this model since it first came out about 3-4 years ago.

Also, before plunking down the equivalent of all the gold in Fort Knox (well, it was for me, anyway), think things through:  Are you like me and need a faster camera?  Can you affordeither one of these cameras?  Cameras are like smartphones, you know:  a newer, better, more upgraded one is always just around the corner.  You might be better served investing in an L-lens, instead, which retains its value no matter how many camera iterations come onto the market.

Because I haven’t possessed either camera for very long, I’m still just scratching the surface of all the photographic goodness these two models have to offer. I still have my 5D Mk II, btw, with a Canon 40mm pancake lens affixed to it that I carry around in a messenger-style camera bag (which doubles as my purse) for those just-in-case moments.

5339_Cameras_Final

I hope this little post was informative and helpful.  I’ll be publishing more comparison posts using these cameras with various lenses, so stay tuned!

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Filed under Camera Comparisons, Equipment, Photography

Fire Dancing

H5T2426_Goddess of Fire #1

As staff photographer for The Merchant Prince, it is incumbent upon me to travel up to the Texas Renaissance Festivalto capture images of this vendor’s various food and beverage establishments for marketing purposes. While at the festival, I like to take a little time off to go watch one of my favorite groups out there: The Gypsy Dance Theatre. I especially like their last show of the day, which is their Fire Dance performance.

H5T2307_Farashas Balancing Act

H5T2345_Farashas Flames_orig

H5T2553_Playing With Fire

H5T2564_Fire Eater

H5T2384_Kiras Fire

H5T2390_Katias Fire

H5T2495_Sword On Fire

H5T2400_Zara

H5T2409_Fire Flinger

H5T2604-2_Farashas Fire Tutu

H5T2667_Tsuras Fire Hoop

H5T2705_Fire Hoop

U9A1380_Smiling Florita

U9A1640_Tsura Onstage

U9A1443_Katia and Kira Onstage

The wide-angle images you see here were taken with a Canon 5D Mk III and 16-35mm f2.8L USM lens, while the other, closer shots were taken with a Canon 1D X and 70-200mm f2.8L USM II lens.  I’ll be comparing and contrasting these two cameras in a forthcoming post.

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A special FYI for all of you reading this post:

In honor of the coming holiday season, and to thank all of you who follow this blog, I am offering a 35%-off coupon over at my Rebecca Latson Photographywebsite. This coupon is good for 35% off of any print or merchandise from the galleries in the following selected categories:

Landscapes

Nature

International

Monochrome

Animals

There is no minimum purchase and this offer is good through 21 November, 2012. The coupon code is RLP35PCT and you enter this code in Step 3 of the checkout process. You’ll then see your discount applied.

ALSO

A special 50%-off Calendars and Greeting Cards sale is also going on at my Zazzle storefront Rlatson47. This offer is good until Monday, 12 November 2012.

Oh, and as incentive to check out my Facebook Page (see the link on the right sidebar of this post), if you become a Fan by Liking me, you will have a chance to be entered in drawings for three different give-aways (one per week for the remainder of November).

Yes, this is a marketing blitz. Woo hoo!!

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Filed under dance, Events, Photography, Texas, Texas Renaissance Festival