Canon Opportunity

I recently had the good fortune to come across an offering for some used Canon digital gear through my membership in the Photographic Society of the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham).  Based on the pricing, I knew the equipment would go fast.  So I acted quickly to get the first e-mail in stating that I wanted to purchase the gear.  Here is what I have ended up with after it was all said and done.

1. Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame CMOS with 1080p Full-HD Video Mode Digital SLR Camera (Body)
2. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens
3. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
4. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
5. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
6. Canon 1.4 Extender
7. Heliopan 77mm UV SH-PMC Filter (707711) with specialty Schott glass in floating brass ring
8. B+W 82mm XS-Pro HTC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating
9. B+W 67mm XS-Pro HTC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating
10. B+W 77mm Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Coating
11. Canon Cameras US 2598A001 67mm Protect Filter
12. B+W 82mm XS-Pro Clear UV Haze with Multi-Resistan​t Nano Coating (010M)
13. Lowepro Fastpack 350 DSLR Camera Backpack
14. David Busch’s Compact Field Guide for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III
15. David Busch’s Canon EOS 5D Mark III Guide to Digital SLR Photography
16. Canon Speedlight 600EX II-RT
17. Canon 430 EX Speedlight
18. Canon 420 EX Speedlight
19. Yongnuo YN-622C-TX E-TTL Flash Controller with Canon connector
20. Yongnuo YN-622C-TX E-TTL Flash Transceiver (4)
21. Off Camera E-TTL Flash Cord (Coiled)
22. Lensbaby Spark for Canon EF Mount
23. Vello Auto Extension Tube Set for Canon EOS

As you can see, the gear offered a complete Canon outfit and my rating on the condition of every piece is Mint+ .  Now, those that know me are scratching their heads going, “But wait, aren’t you a die-hard Nikon guy?”.  I guess the answer to that is; yes, I was.  My history with camera brands goes back to a hand me down Kodak Bakelite Brownie and Kodak 126 Instamatic, before I got my first SLR, an Olympus OM-1.  I shot Olympus from 1978 – 1992 when I sold several bodies, many lenses and my Sunpak 422(?) flash gun to go toward the purchase of my Nikon gear, which was a Nikon N90 with 28-70 and 80-200 zoom lenses and one SB-25 flash.  Since moving to Nikon, I have been okay with the reliability of the cameras.  I did have a N75 I bought for my wife go completely dead after a year.  My first digital body, the D-70, got the flashing screen of death and had to go back for warranty repair.  Since going digital, I have bought a D-200 and sold it.  And currently have the D-70, D-300 and D-600.  I would have to say the D-600 has been biggest disappointment of any camera I have owned short of the N75.  The sensor blows highlights on skin if the exposure is only ever so lightly over exposed.  And the final nail in the coffin is the shutter lubricant getting on the sensor.  There is nothing like going on a three-day photography excursion and getting the first day’s images in Lightroom to find grease spots everywhere.  Other than charity events, I pretty much quit shooting for fun, and dropped small commercial projects after the disappointment of the D-600 on that trip.

Now in hindsight, I guess I could have sold or traded my D-300 and D-600 to upgrade to another Nikon body; but the opportunity to start a new with Canon L series lenses, which are better quality than any I have built up in Nikkor and third-party lenses; and the other included accessories at 50% off of discounted retail pricing (B & H), it was an opportunity I could not pass up.  The seller wasn’t willing to sell individual items and I could probably sell the equipment individually and make a profit.  So this may be more of Canon experiment than a total switch.  The wife expects me sell the Nikon gear and I will start doing that once I confirm there are no show stoppers with a Canon workflow.

Initial  Experience

My first real shoot with the Canon gear was Saturday photographing several purses with custom emblems containing initials that can be swapped between purses.  The project was fraught with challenges.  The need to keep the purse and strap in it’s exact same position between shots, a need to have the white background blowout for seamless presentation on the web site, potential exponential number of shots when there were about 30 sample emblems that could be shot in combination with all of the purses.  I ended up with about 220 images to post process including individual shots of some of the new emblems which were not on the web site.  I really need to re-shoot the emblems from straight overhead and will do that when I can get them back.  As far as the new Canon gear goes, I used the camera with the 24-70 lens and two soft boxed 600WS strobes from the sides and a 300WS strobe trying to bounce off the ceiling to help keep the background go white.  I was shooting at ISO 100 from F14 – F18 and all of the shots were clear and correctly exposed for the item.  There were a couple of occasions where I had to go manual focus as the purse texture without an emblem attached and my inability to change the static position of the camera resulted in focus failure.  For anyone that has done this type of product shoot, I think they would agree that getting a blown out or achieving high-key white background without blowing the highlights in the product is a challenge.  If I have the opportunity to do another shoot of these items,  I would shoot the emblems straight on, make a single photograph of each purse without an emblem and put the emblems on the purses using Photoshop.  Your question is isn’t that a lot of post processing work?  Yes and no.  Yes it is potentially a lot of work, but it avoids two issues I faced on this shoot which were blowing out the background to white and keeping the purses and straps from shifting position between shots when the emblems are swapped.  I think I would be better off getting a single shot and fixing the background and doing some selecting, masking and layer work to place the emblems virtually than having to use a custom +4.0 exposure brush in Lightroom on almost every background to achieve pure white.  While I was able to copy some develop settings from one image to another, the slightest movement in the purse strap or handle meant doing the manual exposure brush all over again.  I guess that is a lesson learned for the next time. The ultimate solution would be for the website to have base purse images without the emblem and a back-end web application to build the emblem image from the initials and colors the customer wants with the selected font and overlay it on the purse.  Then the only images that would be needed are the base purses and product use shots.

So back to the Canon gear.  I am pleased my purchase and will confirm my choice over the next few months.  Between the two books that came with the outfit, I was able to get up to speed pretty quick and never felt like I had to hunt down some setting during the shoot.  Now to forge on with my second challenge of moving away from Adobe products to something else.  Right now that something else is from ON1 and their newest version 10 and 2017 Camera Raw.  I plan to experiment accomplishing similar edits using the ON1 tool set and see how I like it.  Who knows, that might be the next blog entry.  I have abandoned the project to move away from Adobe products.  After one of the leading pros that On1 has used as  guest instructor over the past year came out with a book on Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, it pretty much clarified that On1 is going to remain a supplemental player in the digital photo editing market and not a complete solution.

Panasonic DMC-ZS50 Travel Point and Shoot

My most recent use of the new gear has come in the form of suburban wildlife photography.  While working in the yard the last few weekends, a Red Tail Hawk has been regular visitor to the tall oak trees in my front yard.  The first time, I went in grabbed my Panasonic point and shoot, a DMC-ZS50, and was treated to the hawk’s garter snake snack.  On the next opportunity, I went for the Canon with the 100-400 lens.  The effort was worth it as I came away with this shot.

 

Canon Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III

EXIF:

Aperture: f/5.6
Camera Maker: Canon
Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Exposure Compensation: 0.33 EV
Exposure time: 1/1250 sec
Flash Fired: No Flash
Focal Length: 400 mm
ISO Sensitivity: 640
Metering Mode: Pattern
Shutter Speed: 1/1250 sec
Lens: EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM

Stay tuned to see if the Canon stays or goes.  Right now, it’s staying.

Miracle League 10th Anniversary

After looking through some 4,000 dsc_1054photos I shot of the first year Miracle League games, I am a little bleary eyed and some of that is not just from looking at images.  I can remember holding back tears as I hid my face behind the camera while shooting a lot of these and that same feeling came back tonight.

If you are not familiar with the Miracle League concept, it is a baseball league for disabled kids and adults.  The field in Cary, at Henry Adams Elementary School, opened 10 years ago.  The field consists of rubact_2857berized turf that allows wheel chairs to roll and is laid out with the lines and infield already marked.  Each player gets a buddy assigned to them that will help with running bases and playing their positions in the field.  At the end of the each game, the score is miraculously a tie every time.  I still can’t figure that out after 10 years, but in reality the winner is everybody in Miracle League.

If you are around Cary on Saturday, September 17, 2016 at 11am, come check out the 10th Anniversary Celebration at the field on Cary Town Boulevard.

Here is a link to all of the Miracle League photos on my server.
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Two Weekends Shooting (Photos)

Last weekend I was asked to help photograph the Tour De Cure again after a couple of years away from this ride.  Hats off to the participants, some of whom rode both days from Cary to Aberdeen on Saturday and back on Sunday.  I saw lots of familiar faces and was truly astounded by the fundraising efforts of the champions who are are pictured here.

This weekend I had to pleasure to photograph my niece Raven and her boyfriend Andrew on the way to their high school prom.  She will hate me for this, but I can’t resist the opportunity for a before and after comparison.

They grow up much too fast these days.

Step Out Walk 2014

The photos from this year’s Step Out walk are located here.  Thanks to all of the volunteers, walkers and sponsors for making the event a success.  All photos at my PerformancePixel.com may be downloaded for free/no charge. So don’t use the order prints feature unless that offers a convenient means for you to get them.  The prices for prints that are ordered is the cost that the lab charges with no markup from me.  Again, thanks for your support of the walk.  It was great to see so many families supporting loved ones with diabetes.

Photo Shoots

It was a busy weekend for photography.  So much so that I had to call in the reserves (my wife & father-in-law) to help.  The first event was the Raleigh Police 5K Run For Our Heroes in downtown Raleigh.  The other event was the first annual Bed Race held by the Caring Community Foundation.  If you are looking for the images, you will find the 5K photos here and the Bed Race photos here.  As always thanks for your support of these great charities, the Raleigh Police Memorial Foundation and the Caring Community Foundation.

The memorial foundation has been working hard over the past few years to raise funds for a proper fallen officer memorial for the Raleigh Police Department.  Sadly eight officers have given their lives while protecting the citizens of our capital city, but they are finally recognized through the memorial which was dedicated Friday night before the 5K on Saturday.  If you get a chance, please visit the Raleigh City hall to pay your respects at the memorial.

The Caring Community Foundation continues to be the little cancer charity that can.  While many cancer charities raise funds for research, CCF is unique in that the funds raised are used to assist cancer patients in our area that have  financial needs which are many times identified by their oncologist.  The goal last year was 365 patients assisted and that goal was met and this charity has raised over $1 million in the 10 years since its humble start with a backyard BBQ.

St. Baldrick’s Raleigh Event

Many thanks to all of the folks that came out and supported the Raleigh St. Baldrick’s event (updated totals at the link)  this year.  The numbers shared with volunteers prior to the event were: over $200,000 raised and 400+ shavees and another 100+ volunteers. I am sure the actual numbers will be higher with the number of groups that showed up and the last minute challenges from the stage.  This was my first St. Baldrick’s event thanks to my friend of 40 years Evelyn Putnam who recruited me to help since I already shoot for some other local charities.  I am trying to get locations of the other photographer’s images and will share links if they placed theirs on the web.  My shots are located here.  Many thanks to the two returning photographers, Carter Pettibone and Haley Bohn; and thanks, as well, to ShellyBooker, Evelyn Putnam and one other un-named shooter who had her head shaved as well helping with photography.  While I have shot many charity events, there is no doubt when you hear from the families that are currently fighting for their child with cancer or the parents that lost their child to cancer; it’s a wake up call that there has to be something we can do and we did it today! Whether shavee, family member, or friend supporting them; the funds raised will support research like that of Dr. Oren J. Becher, from The Becher Lab At Duke University.  And we know we make a difference with the success stories of cancer battles won that would not be possible without funding more children’s cancer research.

For anyone who is interested in some upcoming charity events in the area that I shoot, the Raleigh Police Memorial Foundation 5K Run For Our Heroes will be at the end of April.  The Caring Community Foundation (Cancer Patient Financial Support) is holding their first Breakfast in Bed Race on Academy Street in Cary on the same weekend.  And finally the Band Together Concert featuring Hall & Oates will be at Walnut Creek this year on May 3rd.

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Zenphoto Offline

Due to a major upgrade failure of Zenphoto – Yea, just copy the index.php and contents of zp-core after a backup of your DB and your site will upgraded super easy –  NOT!  My photos are offline for now.  I think I may have to find something else.  The site is actually up and available, but I have to put passwords back on albums now that were protected and now are not.

Mountain Photo Excursion and Other Shoots

I decided to to take a week of vacation to do some photography up in Boone where my folks are originally from and hoped to catch the tail end of the fall leaves.  I did get some autumn shots, but it seems most of the reds were gone and the weather was rainy with 40 mile an hour winds the day I got up early to try and catch a sunrise; but the images I did get that morning, while not a sunrise, were worth the effort. Click here or the image to visit the album.

I also got to spend about an hour or so with my aunt who has all of the Brown family history recorded in a notebook.  Once I deciphered how the book was set up, I was able to confirm my family ancestors on the Brown side back to 1750’s in the Wilkes County (later it became Watauga County) area of North Carolina.  One book on the early history of the area record that the Brown family came from Holland or Germany and my research on familysearch.org records the father of the first Brown (1750) as a German family Braun.

Once back in town on Friday, I went to visit the Nascar Hall of Fame in Charlotte with my wife’s relatives from  Michigan who are in town to go to the Martinsville race this weekend.  Saturday, I was up and out early to photograph the local American Diabetes Association’s Step Out walk for Diabetes.  This is my second year shooting this charity event for Jim and Paulette.  It was great to see some of the same folks again this year.  The photos can be viewed and downloaded here: http://www.performancepixel.com/stepout2013/ The videos are at: http://www.youtube.com/user/performancepixel?feature=watch

 The next shoot was of my nephew’s four year old photos who was also in town visiting.  Super cute kid and the new “used” lens – the Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 on my D600 was amazing.  For this shot I had a umbrella soft box with a SB-800 to his left and the main SB-800 on the camera to try and fill in since the shot was backlit.

Camera Maker: Nikon Corporation
Camera Model: NIKON D600
Original Time Taken: 2013:10:26 13:31:25
Shutter Speed: 1/200 sec
Aperture: f/5.6
ISO Sensitivity: 50
Exposure Compensation: -0.67 EV
Metering Mode: Pattern
Flash Fired: Compulsory Flash, Return light detected
Focal Length: 70 mm
Lens Info: 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8

 

 

 

 

Three’s

If bad luck runs in three’s, I hope I am done with BL for a while.  So I backup my OS drive on my photo processing workstation and tell Acronis TrueImage to shutdown the computer when complete.  Well, that shutdown was permanent, it would seem, as the motherboard on the system will not even reach POST.  So a capacitor has probably gone bad, but I can’t complain about the Gateway refurb that I picked up on the cheap almost five years ago.   And now I get to build a new system and get to include my niece when I build it to see if she has any interest in future geekdom.  The second incident is appropriately a two-fer.  I went to load the bike on the rack to meet a friend to ride with Debby and noticed a rear flat.  No big deal I have a spare tube and can replace it once we get to the meet up location.  Replacing the tube went okay and while I was getting ready I reached over Debby while she was bent over and my elbow caught the best of her pointy little helmet and I almost fell as she stood up, but in the process I knocked my bike over trying to catch my balance.  No big deal, I tell them to go on I will catch up as I was not in the best of moods at this point.  Finally ready, I start off and all is okay until I take the first hill.  Going in to easy gear the chain goes over the top of the cassette into the spokes.  Luckily I un-clipped before the drive train completely locked up.  Got it working enough to ride the 1/4 mile back to the car and rigged a spare tire and my belt to a tree limb for a temporary work stand.  Made some adjustments and thought all was well and started off again.  All was well for the first six miles when I met Debby and her friend on the way back in.  So I turned around caught and passed them and then the trouble with the rear derailleur started again.  I was so frustrated by this point my bike may as well have been a punching bag.  Too frustrated to deal with it again, Debby went to get the car.  Sadly I was not a nice person to be around from that point on.  Then to top things off, the third incident of BL was when I am supposed to photograph the executives at my work. I set up my office as a temporary studio and the first couple of test shots went well.  Lighting and contrast are looking decent with the US and NC flags as the backdrop; then the camera reports “Err”.  I am like, can it get any worse?  I swap lenses, reset the camera, totally reset all the settings, pull the battery and nothing seems to help.  Luckily with the newer complicated cameras I have seen the light and keep the manual with me.  I looked up the meaning “Err” in the manual and what it basically said was if you get this message a lot have the camera checked out by service personnel, but tripping the shutter should overcome the error condition.  Shutter tripped, error goes away.  Now if all my other troubles could do the same with just the click of a shutter release.

Charity Event Photography

The last two weekends kept me busy shooting for two charities.  On April 27, it was the Raleigh Police Memorial Foundation’s Run for Our Heroes 5K.  This is my 5th year shooting this event and I am glad to have the opportunity to serve as one of their photographers as I worked for the Raleigh police department in the Summer of 1997 when Detective Paul Hale was killed in the line of duty.  With this year’s run, the funding goal for a new memorial to be located in front of city hall has been met and should be in place for next year’s event.

 

My most recent shoot was for Band Together and the culmination of a year’s hard work for Matt  with Band Together and Sarah from the Tammy Lynn Center with the concert at Koka Booth Amphitheater featuring Mac & Juice Quartet, Chatham Co. Line, Delta Rae and Lyle Lovett on Saturday may 4th.  The final total for funds raised this year was around $852,000.  This money will go the Tammy Lynn Center for developmental disabilities to provide much needed enhanced technologies at the center.