Reading the Leaves

I shot this to prove I wasn’t insane.  I have been having massive problems with my Canon 5DMKII.  To prove my sanity I loaded my 85mm on an ancient 400D that I got last year in Thailand for a song and just randomly shot crap on the way and back from the gym.  There is a tree on my estates that I am forced to park under by the condo association shades my car.  So with a branch hanging in front of me I focused the 85mm and snapped this.  Green was boring and really didn’t bring out the leaf lines so black and white it was and a border just for giggles.

As for the Canon 5DMKII.  Turns out said problem was with the viewfinder not being in focus which is obviously a gear issue and not the photographer being a complete idiot and never thinking to check that.  Did I mention I prefer electronic and not optical viewfinders?  It could not be the camera operators fault for being forced to use such ancient technology.

Photo Nerd Info: Canon 400D, 85mm, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/500


Shadowed Twins

This picture was also shot out of a moving vehicle at a high rate of speed as I headed home.  I like the look of these two buildings and I drive past them everyday as I leave my comfortable estates.  No idea why I like the buildings but I just do.  I took the picture out my front window using The Force to compose the shot with my Jedi technique.  It also helped that I got lucky.  Not perfect but not bad for a moving car and a supposedly craptacular camera.

Photo Nerd Info: Olympus E-P2, Panasonic 14mm, f/6.3, 1/400

Architecture Landscapes

Patriotic Sunset

I need to preface this entire picture by saying I was likely doing 70mph or around 112kph.  I got a new lens in today, a sweet little Panasonic 14mm 2.5 for my street shooting camera idea to supplement the Panasonic 20mm 1.7.  My entire technique was to vaguely point the camera in the direction of the building and sun and mash the shutter while trying to keep the car straight.  This is the end result

Photo Nerd Info: Olympus E-P2, Panasonic 14mm, ISO 200, f/9.0, 1/800


Peeping Tom

I have high hopes for the Canon… that it will end up in the freaking shop to figure out this focusing issue.  Three out of four shots are just garbage but come up sweet on the LCD when I am chimping the photos.  I neglected to say I let someone else shoot with the camera who knows how to operate a Canon.  In full whack, auto mode the images weren’t focused.  That’s essentially idiot mode and it still pulls the same crap regardless of lens.  Warranty center here it comes.

This is one of the good shots. I liked the contrast between the night sky, the offices with lights on, and the reflection off the glass.  It made for an interesting shot.

Photo Nerd Info: Canon 5DMKII, 37mm, ISO 6400, f3.5, 1/13


Worn Out

I have no idea what this is to be honest.  I think it used to be a wheel barrow but I’m taking a guess.  My parents property is littered with stuff like this so I took the Canon out for a stroll with a 85mm lens attached.

I did a minor crop and for once just used a Lightroom preset and left it as is.  I love the bokeh in the photo but I have to be honest, the Canon pisses me off.  I don’t know if its the lens or of its the camera but I have had too many shots ruined by this thing not focusing correctly.  While I love to blame the gear and not the photographer, I can say this time it really is the gear.  This one turned out but I got lucky and took 4 shots of this in different positions so I got an image.  A good chunk of them turned out like crap.

Photo Nerd Info: Canon 5DMKII, Canon 85mm, ISO 400, f/3.2, 1/125.


Shining in the Dark

This shot falls under the heading of there are no mistakes in photography; there are happy accidents.  This is clearly a “gear” happy accident because there is no way that the photographer could have forgotten he reset the cameras settings to default so that meant it wasn’t writing in RAW format and only jpeg and I shot it in b&w grainy.  With the help of Topaz dejpeg I was able to do some minor tweaking and then exported it out to Photoshop to do the resize and remove some of the unwanted noise and sharpen the image.  The end result is what I had in mind anyways.

This is a lamp in my parents guest bedroom.  I like the way the light lit the flowers in the frosted glass and you could get a hint of the flowers in the background.  The only light source in the room was the lamp so it gives the shadowy effect.

Photo Nerd Info: Olympus E-P2, Panasonic 20mm, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/200


Tangled Up In Blue

These are the lights in our staff lounge.  Exciting aren’t they?  I do like them and for awhile we had our whole lounge lit with these while waiting for our other lights to be made in Italy.

One of the things I am doing is shooting with my Canon 5DMKII.  The reality is I have grown comfortable with my Panasonic G3 and comfortable is lazy.  I can predict what the image is going to look like and I know what the end result is going to be.  Granted, in paid photography you get paid for consistency but one camera does not fit all scenarios.  Hence I own this very expensive and full framed camera with a nice set of lenses to compliment it.

One of the guys I have recently been reading (Between a boring ass book on lighting portraits) is a blog by Zack Arias but more specifically his tumblr which anyone can ask him a question and he answers it honestly to the best of his ability.  No bullshit, just straight truths.  It’s rather refreshing because the guy doesn’t knock any camera system or style.  Just recommends you shoot.  The one thing he has said repeatedly when asked about lenses and cameras is get a 85mm lens and learn it, live it, love it.  Shoot for a year on it and dream in 85mm.  You will learn what the camera can do and what you can do because it’s going to make you think.  So the Canon came out today with a 85mm attached to it.

I don’t see myself putting down my Panasonic’s or my Olympus but I do see myself using the Canon and the 85mm to get better.  I’m technically proficient at photography and I learned by trial and error, reading a lot, asking questions, and not being afraid to do something.  What I’m not good at is working under limitations to make myself better.  If I need something I just go and get it.  I don’t really think through the shots and try and work out how to get it with the tools I have.  That’s why the Olympus experience has been so much fun.  It’s teaching me to shoot with limitations instead of grabbing what I know will work.  It’s making me think outside of my comfort zone.  I’m hoping the Canon with the 85mm will do the same.  It’s not about grabbing one of my other lenses.  It’s about working my way through the shot and knowing I have the skills, not just the tools to do it.

I hope all that makes sense.

Photo Nerd Info: Canon 5DMKII, Canon 85mm, ISO 400, f/4.0, 1/80.



This was my first attempt using my new zoom lens.  I debated on getting a Canon 300mm 2.8L but then I realized I just don’t shoot enough with my Canon (or get paid to shoot with it enough) to warrant laying out $1500 or more on a used lens.  I just don’t do enough work at that range to even consider it.  I prefer primes or zooms where I can hand hold the camera.  Yet, I wanted to get something where I could learn how to use a zoom with a tripod and shutter release.

I explored the internets until I came across a many favorable reviews of the Sigma 70-200 2.8.  I’m not that anal that I won’t use third party lenses.  Hell, one of my favorite all time lenses is a Tamron 18-200.  That thing was constantly stuck to my first camera and I still have it.  Won’t work on the 5DII but I have a 400D body that I have attached it to.  Seems happy.  I found a gently used one on ebay and got it for under $500.  Good enough to learn on and I’m guessing I’ll get damn near my money back when I resell it.

So off to GW Parkway and the scenic overlook into Washington DC.  A few things I never considered in my exuberance of trying this out:

1. I had a dog with me.  Not really smart when trying to setup a tripod and level it.

2. It was around 10 at night.  There are no lights at this overlook.  Trying to couple a camera into the tripod using a lens collar not easy in the dark and having to use the flash off your iphone.

3. Trying to get the camera level once mounted on the tripod with one hand because the other is holding the iphone.

4. Hooking up the shutter release cable in the dark while trying not to knock the camera out of level again.

It was a learning experience.  I finally threw the dog in the car because she was determined to run around like an idiot.  Switched the camera to bulb mode and then used live view to compose the shot as best I could.  It took a bit to get settings correct.  Who knew that holding a shutter open for 15 seconds and 2.8 and ISO 200 could turn night into day?  After a few more shots I got this and while not technically perfect considering the adverse conditions I was operating under, (I thought they turned out like shit to be honest) when I loaded it into Lightroom I was pleasantly surprised.

Photo Nerd Info: Canon 5D MKII, Sigma 70-200 2.8, ISO 200, f/14, 13.0 sec (I swore I counted to 15).


Black Eye

Still playing with the Olympus E-P2 and still shooting in black and white.  I have tried to shoot these flowers Saturday and the 20mm Panasonic just wasn’t doing it for whatever reason.  I thought to myself what lens would do this and be tack sharp in the center?  Oh.. the Olympus 45mm 1.8 that collects dust.  Still free handing these shots, no viewfinder except the LCD screen.  It’s been rather liberating not looking through a viewfinder.  I stopped using the E-P2 when I got the Panasonic G3 (which I now own 2 of) because it didn’t have a built-in viewfinder.  I find myself more interested in the subject instead of how I am composing the shot or if I’m level or using the rule of thirds.  I just walk up, look at the LCD in black and white and press the shutter button.

I have been debating on a rangefinder camera, in particular one of the Leica models and was snooping around the internets and found a piece by Steve Huff before I started to read his site.  Pretty interesting that a camera that cost me a little over $600 and a lens that cost me around $250 is holding its own against a camera that costs $8000.  My Leica lust has cooled considerably.

I did zero modifications to this except a resize.  What you see is what the camera and lens produced.

Photo Nerd Info: Olympus E-P2, Olympus 45mm, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/1000.


Night Swimming

Apologies to R.E.M.

This was taken while I was walking the dog which seems to be my new hobby.  We walked past the pool and she found something exciting to smell and I saw something interesting to shoot.  I stuck the camera through the gate, used my mighty photographic skills (smashed the shutter button) and snapped the shot.

I have left the camera in black and white grainy mode, more as a way for me to see tones in images than anything else.  If it doesn’t look good in black and white it won’t look good in color no matter how much retouching you do.

Speaking of retouching, of course I have the RAW file which is what this final product was produced from.  The RAW is stored in color so there was some tweaking going on.  The noise from this shot was horrible so I had to clean that up.  Even converting it to black and white wasn’t going to hide all of it.  I didn’t want a grainy look so I removed that and I did a detail enhance on the columns reflection in the water (sneaky aren’t I).  I had to remove a bit more noise in Lightroom and then off to Photoshop for some sharpening and resizing (thanks Spike).

I’m very pleased with the final product.

Photo Nerd Info: Olympus E-P2, Panasonic 20mm, ISO 2500, f/1.7, 1/60.