Untitled (Zach, San Clemente, CA) copyright 2014 Douglas Stockdale
For last Friday’s touch football game, as I posted here, I made the switch up to the the larger Canon 5D MarkIII (Mk3), which has a image sensor with a very wide ISO capability in conjunction with using a trip-pod. Btw, since I had acquired the Mk3 just recently, I had to make a choice between this and the Canon 5DS with its 50 Mp sensor, but due to the limited ISO capabilities of the 5DS (to get all of those megapixels on a chip, there was a large reduction in the size of the individual sensors with a corresponding limitation on their light tolerance), I choose the Mk3 for it’s robustness in general use. The user reports on the Canon 5DS pointed to limited night time use because if the ISO was bumped up past 800, the dark’s in the image would start to get increasing noisy. If I were evaluating studio work in conjunction with a tripod and cable release, I might have chosen differently.
The faster shutter speed of 1/60th of a second (ISO 3200) with the Mk3 versus the slower 1/10th of a second with the XTi was enough to make a difference in stopping the action under the field lights. The smaller Canon XTi sensor had the advantage to extend the reach of my short telephoto, but the higher quality image with the Canon Mk3 allowed tighter cropping and I accomplished essentially the same effect. If I wanted to create a more abstract image with blurr like I was obtaining with the XTi, I only needed to modify the Mk3 exposure settings.
Although the photograph above is just a tad bit soft, it is a nice candid portrait of Zach coming off the field. A trade off of youthful enthusiasm for sharpness which probably required a more static pose. I might just push up the ISO a tad bit more to increase the shutter speed another notch or two.
Well, it’s Friday again, so you probably know what combination I am bringing to the game tonight. Go Zach!
Untitled (Garden District, St Charles trolley way, New Orleans, LA October 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale
Today I seem to have a case of the blase, so I feel a off. Usually one good cure (for me) is to jump back in the fray. Thus a great reason to finish the development of this image above I made earlier this month in New Orleans. We had taken the St Charles trolley line out to the Garden district to investigate a cemetery and to just poke around. After lunch and waiting for the arrival of the trolley to go back into the city, I played with some possible compositions, while thinking ahead about my Instant Nomad project. I was also considering the use of the lens blur app at the time I made this photograph, so this is one version that I developed. I may tweak the lens blur a bit to bring into focus a little more of the trolley post that is in the middle area near the palm tree.
I am already feeling a bit better as a result and back on track (yep, pun intended!).
Untitled (Ella, San Clemente, October 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale
This is the third in my series discussing my Friday Night Lights photographic adventures. As I stated in my last post, I made a camera change for last night’s flag football game. Still the same relatively slow zoom lens, the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L lens, but now mounted on my Canon 5D MkIII in conjunction with my tripod being used similar to a monopod (tripod legs still folded together).
My very willing model, Ella, was not as much of a challenge to photograph compared to the action on the field, as she provides a best case evaluation of the camera/lens combination in this lighting condition. I waited until darkness, thus only illuminated by the lights on the field and without any fill-in flash to evaluate how my Canon MkIII sensor might perform with the ISO ramped up. I had the camera set to full auto with highest resolution JPEG capture, which the camera defaulted to a moderate ISO 1600 to obtain a 1/60th second exposure at a fully open lens aperture of f/4.0. I had composed this photo with lens set at 70mm, thus a decent pairing with the 1/60th shutter speed, especially in conjunction with the tri(mono)-pod.
I think that this photo passes night photography muster; the original JPEG file has plenty of sharp detail and the sky has only a tab bit of noise. This camera/lens combination is a much better choice compared using the smaller sensor of the Canon XTi.
Btw, Ella did a mighty fine job cheering her little brother’s team on to victory last night.
Untitled (Stacey & Damien Valdez wedding, October 2015, New Orleans) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale
Having professional photographed a number of weddings in the past, one thing I enjoy now is NOT being the official wedding photographer! Between us, I found that weddings are very stressful events for many reasons. You can’t ask the bride and groom to cut the cake over again, the bride to re-throw the bouquet, etc. In the old days, you weren’t sure you had the shot (or even if you had screwed up loading the film or other camera disaster) until a week later after the film was processed and the proofs were back. Now, like this event, there are multiple photographers photographing from alternative angles, constantly checking the camera backs displays, perhaps a bit less stressful.
Now when attending a wedding, I am more interested in a one or two compositions that are very personal, not on the wedding pro’s check list, and ripe for my own personal interpretation. To create a small memento that I think would be enjoyed by my friends who are in the wedding. So during a lull before the start of the ceremony and in one case below, during one of the many events of the wedding, I arranged some of the items to better suit and achieve the composition that I could subsequently tweak. In this case for Stacey and Damien, I ended up with three nice photographs. Two are not tack sharp since it was well into the evening, hand held & no flash, since for these kind of photographs, the little bit of softness I do not find objectionable.
Untitled (Zachary, San Clemente, October 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale
Earlier I had posted about using my Canon XTi camera in conjunction the 70-200L f/4 lens for photographs of Zach playing flag football at night. I did not have my tripod with me, but I knew from prior experience that for hand holding exposures at night, even under some good field lights, I was not going to obtain sharp photographs. So when working with lemons, make lemonade!
I have a lot of experience with camera panning to capture the action under similar conditions which I think I put to some good use. Not a normal static football pose, but rather a dynamic clash of the titans. In this case, Zach was playing defense and I captured him in the midst of taking the opposing player off his feet.
For me, the resulting photograph borders on pure color abstraction, but retains enough content to provide sufficient context in conjunction with the caption. Nice, I’ll print this one for Zach.
Another night football game is fast approaching, so next time I will bring a slightly different combination; I will mount this same lens on my Canon 5DMk3 to see if the wider dynamic range will provide some more options. I am also going to bring my tripod, but keep the legs together similar and attempt to use it as if it was a mono-pod.
Btw, a technical note for those who are interested; 1/10th of a second, ISO 400 and aperture of f/4.0.
Untitled (Bourbon Street, New Orleans, October 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale
We attended a destination wedding in New Orleans, aka NoLa or The Big Easy, this past weekend. Our hotel was a couple of blocks off Bourbon Street, thus required a prerequisite evening walk-about. This is my version of what my experience of this place was like. As a friend stated, the longer you drink (yes, open containers as you cruise this entire area is absolutely okay) and crawl down this street at night, the fuzzier your vision and memory becomes.
My initial development of this photograph had placed the high lights up too bright. This is a typical exposure problem with most auto cameras for this type of high contrast lighting; the camera attempts to provide an average gray exposure, thus with the black night and bright lights, the high lights get blown out.
Bourbon street is a very festive place but with a darker undertone and a bit of a dinginess to it. Not as clean as the neon brightness you find in Las Vegas.
Untitled (Michigan, September 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale
I was surprised at the end of my photographic tweaking as to how this photograph is pulling me in. To be honest, it was one of series of grab shots that I made on approach while landing at Detroit Metro airport. Having made this landing recently, I was getting prepared to photograph some industrial buildings that I knew were going to pop into sight shortly. So I was making some test exposures to make sure that I was not picking up any unwanted window reflections, so I quickly captured this and a couple other images to frame my final compositions. But then this image started to intrigue me, so I spent a little more time tweaking it. Surprise, a photograph that I am really enjoying.
I don’t usually make a lot of grand landscapes (which I consider this photograph to be in that category), but occasionally I will just to try different things. In some regards, I am suspecting that this photograph is a bit auto-biographical, as this small Midwest town or maybe even a village has some attributes of where I grew up, probably a three hour drive from this place. I am thinking of this photograph is capturing the essence of a “Midwest Anyplace”, a typical middle America town. A main drag coming into, through and then out of the town, which is lined with churches, storefronts and at least one gas station somewhere in the middle, with homes lining this street on both side at either end.
I just may trying to photograph something similar again on my next journey.
Untitled (DTW, Michigan, 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale
This is a follow on post from yesterday, as that photograph and this one were made within a minute of each other. The overall appearance may differ as I tweaked each image as a singular image. These two were not meant to be shown together to investigate a particular place, but rather as I am interested more in attempting to establish a mood as food for thought. As a result, I pushed the ambiguity envelop, but not so abstract that it might not visual create associations.
In post production of this photograph as I developed this image (it is still a bit of a work in progress), it struck me that this appeared to look like a starting line. I also like that it does not lead out on a straight line, but a route that has some twists and turns, much like life. Nice. It has potential to become a lead-in photograph to one of my photo projects that I have in development.
Untitled (DTW, Michigan, 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale
One of those visual metaphors, which regretfully can border on becoming trite, that always seems to draw me in are pathways, both narrow and wide, although the narrow ones seem to get my attention more often. I think the narrow pathways (or at least they appear narrow) are more human in scale, personal, maybe even romantic, which are meant for a person to walk along. I especially enjoy photographing those pathways when the end is not in sight, implying a potential limitless walk. These photographs also investigate a journey, real or imagined, but to where? The more ambiguous the photograph I feel create even more narrative possibilities.
Untitled (Canyon crest home, San Clemente, CA 2015) copyright 2015 Douglas Stockdale
Zach had a pending flag football night game and the following afternoon a swim meet this weekend and I had been thinking about the possibility of mounting my Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L lens meant for my Canon 5D on my Canon XTi body. Used on my 5D at 200mm, this lens has an acceptable reach, but I’ve been curious about getting a bit “closer”. Thus mounted on my XTi (10 Mpx) with the smaller sensor, I picked up about another 40% in magnification, thus I had an equivalent of a 280mm lens. Seemed reasonable to me.
I had not played with this combination before as a telephoto image was not usually of much interest to me. But after looking at some of my sports images of Zach from last year, I felt it was time to try this combination out. And yes I did not want to purchase a fast 300mm for the 5D just for this occasion. I do crop my photographs and that could lead to potentially a similar image, but I felt it was better to get a higher resolution image before I started cropping. Second, the smaller sensor should be fine as for my personal family mementos, I usually do not print any larger than 8-1/2 x 11″.
So this back-yard landscape, above, was my initial image test with this combination at 200mm (280mm equivalent). The image is also slightly cropped after getting the horizon adjusted, so a good test image. Initially I was satisfied with this landscape when viewed in camera, thus I decided to use this camera/lens combination later that evening at the football game. Now looking at this landscape photograph after some PhotoShop tweaking, it confirms my suspicions that this camera/lens combination works decently together.
I knew going into the evening game that this had some limitations for a night sports event, e.g. the f 4.0 lens is pretty slow for this type of event photography, and the XTi did not have a lot of dynamic range for the sensor (e.g. push the ISO beyond 800 stats getting image distortion). Added to this I would be have to use hand-held exposures since I do not have a viable mono-pod for camera stability and support. Nevertheless, by carefully choosing to photograph at the right moment, this combination could obtain some interesting photographs of the action on the field.