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Pacific Sunset and Lupine

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 22 July 2010 in Landscape & Rural.


Summer Big Sur Photo Workshop - August, 17-20, 2010 (2 spots left)
Arches/Canyonlands Photo Workshop - November 3-7, 2010 (We have had a cancellation - one spot now available)
Winter Big Sur Photo Workshop - Magic Light and The Pfeiffer Beach Arch - January 11-14, 2011 (space available)
Northern Arizona Photo Workshop - Grand Canyon, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Sedona - March 16-20, 2011 (space available)
Spring Big Sur Workshop - 4th Annual Wildflowers and Color - April 17-20, 2011 (space available)
Springtime in Lake Tahoe and the Mokelumne Wilderness - May 14-17, 2011 (space available)
New Article on my Website: First Look at Photoshop CS5 - Content Aware Fill

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Every time I purchase a new piece of equipment I feel like a kid on Christmas morning (I know you have felt the same). As quickly as possible, I get out into the field for a test drive. Such was the case when two new lenses arrived from Robert's Distributors: Canon 16-35 mmL f2/8 Series II and Canon 24 mmL T/S Series II.

I've only played with a Tilt/Shift lens once and I really had no clue as to what I was doing. But over the past three years I have been reading more stories about how invaluable these lenses are for landscape photographers by some very talented photographers and felt it was time to add one to my arsenal. My reasoning for adding the 16-35 Series II was that on a full frame sensor, the Series I lens was not as sharp as I would have liked around the edges of the frame.

Upgrading and adding lenses for a pro is more that just wanting the latest and greatest gear (though we do succumb to that temptation also - hey we are only human), but I always try (as best I can) to base my decisions on a purchasing a new piece of equipment from a analytical side instead of from an emotional side - this stuff ain't cheap! I hope to at least make enough of a financial return to pay off my investment in the first year of use.

I had been toying with adding a T/S to my arsenal for three years (I can get overly analytical at times). What really convinced me was when I listened to a podcast from noted Yosemite photographer William Neill (a former 4x5 photographer) who had switched to digital. He talked about how he used the lens to photograph a field of wildflowers on a windy day. With a normal wide angle lens, one would have to stop down to f/16 or f/22 in order to achieve proper depth-of-field. The tradeoff was the shutter speed, which would be too slow to freeze the flowers. With a tilt/shift lens, one could open to its widest aperture allowing for up to 5-stops of additional shutter speed - enough to freeze the wildflowers, and still achieve proper depth-of-field by tilting the lens - very cool!

Jack Dykinga (another large format photographer gone digital) also wrote an article for Outdoor Photographer magazine where he demonstrated how to properly use the shift feature of the lens to composite three perspectively correct images for his panos. Using the Canon 1DsMKIII (the same camera used for this image), Dykinga could stitch the three frames to create one file that rivaled the quality he used to get with his 4x5 cameras. An 8-bit file from the 1DsMKIII is 60 megabytes, so three frames stitched would yield a file of 180 megs - allowing for incredible detail!

For this particular image, if you check the accompanying metadata, you will actually see that I used an aperture of f/22 (I can hear you now, "Why did you spend the money?") Actually I captured this frame at f/22 in order to produce the sunstar. The lens is still tilted to correct perspective and to allow the lupine to better fill the foreground (I was in an area where I could not really move). This is actually a 6-stop blended image that I achieved by using PS CS5's layers and masks.

This lens will take some getting used to but I can already see its advantages! My initial reaction is that both lenses are extremely sharp, but the new UD glass in the 24 mmL T/S better handled flare issues that the 16-35 mmL could not.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 1/320 second F/22.0 ISO 400 24 mm

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