Thursday, January 29, 2009

L-Bracket Heaven

So I finally knuckled under and got an L-Bracket for my 5DII. Thanks to my friends at POTN I was referred over to the folks at Really Right Stuff who make some fantastic products.

You might be wondering what the purpose of an L-Bracket is. Its a good question. But also a very simple one to ask. An L-Bracket is designed to keep you lens over the center of the tripod head regardless of shooting in Landscape or portrait mode. The prevents the camera from hanging off the side of the head, creating more stress on the head and most importantly prevents the aspect of the shot from changing. In one simple change you are able to move the camera from one orientation to the other and still have things line up. If you want a nice review of the L-Bracket advantage go check out this link at Really Right Stuff.

On to what I got...

I decided to use the L-Bracket on my 5DII only as my 40D is for sports and I don't currently have a pressing need for an L-Bracket. Since I always shoot with a grip I got the BGE6-L model which places the bracket comfortably on the camera with the grip attached. Below are a couple pictures of the bracket on the camera. (Note: I took pics myself, but the below from RRS are much better so I'm linking over to them. Thanks RRS!)

As you can see it fits very nicely. I was skeptical getting a bracket as I thought the size and weight would be an issue. Its not! This thing is light and I really don't notice it when shooting. I'm trying to leave it on all the time so I don't have to worry about putting it on when needed. Also, it attaches with a screw on the bottom which would make it a bit tough putting on in a pinch, so leaving it on has benefits.

Now there is one caveat to getting an L-Bracket, you'll need a clamp on your tripod head which can hold an Arca-Swiss type plate. As I use a Manfrotto 488RC2 I needed to make a change as the plate would not work. I ended up getting the RRS B2 LR II which is designed for the Arca type clamps. In the end all I had to do what replace the Manfrotto plate with teh B2 LR II and I was good to go. (Note: If you have a 488RC2 the Manfrotto clamp will be hard to get off as they use locktight on it. Just heat the clamp with a hair dryer to soften the locktight and it will come off easy enough.) Below is a picture of the B2 LR II on my 488.

In the end this setup works fantastic. The 5DII is a dream to mount with the L-Bracket and the clamp is much easier to use than the Manfrotto, I'm very glad I made the change. Let me know if you have any questions on this, I'd be glad to help out where I can.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Genius of Photography

Then Genius of Photography is a BBC documentary focused on Photography over the decades. Thanks to Pixsylated I’ve learned that all episodes have been posted to YouTube for general consumption. Those of us in the States will appreciate the importance of this as these have been very difficult to catch as they are so infrequently shown.

So, when you have some time go over to Pixsylated and use the links to get to the series on YouTube. I guarantee that you will find it educational and informative, I sure did.

Well, enjoy and let me know your thoughts, I should have all episodes up in the next day or so.

Click Here to go to Pixsylated’s post on the series.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Night During the Day

I was board today. Then I found a large icicle hanging outside my dining room window. So I pulled out my 5DII and start to take some shots as I’ve always found the textures of ice interesting. Using the ambient light I got board quick. Then I remembered and article I read on Pixsylated (click here) about using high speed sync (HSS) to turn day into night. So I figured, why not lets give it a try.

Below is what I came up with. I cranked up my shutter speed, closed down the aperture and lowered the ISO to get everything as dark as possible. The only post processing was to boost the blacks a bit and add some sharpening.

I have to say I’m happy with the results for a first attempt. Let me know what you think. After each picture is a shot of how the light was setup. I used my 430EX off camera using my homemade clamp (click here) and triggered it with my 580EX II as a master.

One thing this exercise proved to me was how diminished power is in HSS. Not something I couldn’t work with, but it is much the reason the flash is so close to the ice. I eventually knocked the icicle down by bumping it with the flash, or I would have gotten more shots. ooops!!!





You can find the images at my Flickr site if you want to look at larger versions and see the EXIF (click here)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Disney Fireworks

Disney Fireworks

I often see people asking questions as to how to shoot fireworks and where to take them when at Disney World in Orlando. Just wanted to take a quick moment to outline some of the places I've found which are good for fireworks shots. I will do a post later on how best to take fireworks shots.

Magic Kingdom:

Approaching Cinderella's castle walking up main street go to the right of it as if you are walking to Tomorrow Land. As you make the turn immediately to the left is a Kodak Picture spot. About 45 min prior to the fireworks the Disney potog will leave and you can walk up to this fence and setup with you tripod. I was there two nights and not many people came up to the area, seems pretty unknown to watch them. Some people will hop the fence after the parade is done, but they don't stay. Each night I was there only one family was next to me, plenty of room for that.

I with I had a pic to post of fireworks from this great spot, but the first night I didn't know we would be there for it and didn't have my tripod and the second it rained like a mad man and I didn't take my gear out so as to keep it dry.

Trust me though, with my 17-55 IS I could have framed the fireworks with the castle on the left and trees below if I wanted and still got all the action. Very nice location.


Go into Italy and you'll find a small Italian style bridge. Pick a spot anywhere on this bridge and you'll be all set. People don't go on to it until right before the actions begins so you'll be left alone to setup. There is an alcove right below it that would also be a great vantage spot but that is where most people hang out and in my opinion it is no better than the bridge and you won't have to fight for real estate.

Below is a pic from the bridge. I am no expert at shooting fireworks and I'm sure this could have been framed/executed better, but it will give you an idea of how clean a view you'll have of the action.

Disney Fireworks

As always, please let me know if there are any questions.

Click here if you want to see all the pictures on Flickr.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Good Bye Friend

Well I did it. I sold off my trusty 17-55 f/2.8 IS so that I can get a wide angle lens that will work on both my full frame and crop cameras.

This was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make. The 17-55 has been an outstanding lens, always delivering top quality pictures, with great color, contrast and bokeh. The fact that it had an f/2.8 aperture and IS only added to the appeal.

I know I'm doing the right thing for my kit and the 17-40 L will be a solid performer with great versatility. But I do want to let everyone know what a great lens the 17-55 is. Don't let the fact that it is an EF-S and non-L scare you away from it. If you have a crop body, get this lens, it is the perfect walk-around for a crop body.

Below are a couple of my favorites from over the past year and a half. Just wanted to share.

My daughter at 4-months:

My daughter at 1-year

Thursday, January 1, 2009

First post of the year

Just want to take a moment to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy new year. I hope the new year brings all of you prosperity and joy. Above are some fireworks to celebrate 2009 (yes they are from Disney in the summer of 2009, but its all I had) and below is my son with a gift for everyone.

Take care and have a joyous year.