Usually, I don’t travel to any national park with high expectations. I even wrote an article in the National Parks Traveler about the rewards of lowered expectations. I know it’s going to be rainy, overcast, snowing, probably the roads will be slick, and there might even be another f***ing government shutdown while I am there. Nonetheless, I am stoked to be returning to Yellowstone National Park in a few days for 8-1/2 days of fall photography. For a portion of that time, I’ll be staying at the historic Old Faithful Inn, and will definitely get some interior architecture images of that beautiful lodge. I so wanted to do this during my short summer stay (2-1/2 days) during my road trip move from Texas to central Washington, but the inn was full, the crowds were YUGE, and I ultimately needed to get back on the road again to my sister’s home.
I’ll be taking 3 cameras with me and an assortment of lenses: my Canon 5DSR, Canon 1DX Mk II, and Pentax 645z. I’ll take the Canon 16-35mm, 14mm, 24-70mm, 24-105mm, 100-400mm with a 1.4x extender, Pentax 28-45mm, and Pentax 55mm lenses. No need to tell me it’s going to be a heavy backpack I take onto the plane with me. I already know that. I had to pack one of my lenses into my laptop bag, which will also be carried onto the plane. Hey, I don’t know when I will be able to return to Yellowstone, so might as well bring as much as I can carry and that’s allowable on the plane, because I’d rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Plus, I’ve broken lenses before while traveling (Hawaii comes to mind), so I’m being a little redundant with one of the lenses. I decided on this instead of trying to work around taking my Canon 500mm lens. As it is, I’ll probably forget something, even though I’ve written a list of things to pack.
Soon, soon, I will be back inside America’s first national park. Can’t wait!
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.
The Bordello Sisters ready for action in the King’s Feasthall. Texas Renaissance Festival 2016 (Canon 5D Mk IV, Canon 24-70mm f4L lens, f7.1, shutter 1/40, ISO 3200, no flash)
I am staff photographer for The Merchant Prince – a vendor out at the Texas Renaissance Festival (aka TX Renfest). I worked for him and his wife as a serving wench and then Feast Gift Shoppe store manager for oh, about 9 years, before “retiring” and then returning annually to focus on photographs for their marketing purposes. It’s a sweet deal: I do my favorite thing of photography on their behalf and they make sure I get access to venues both in front- and behind-the-scenes, as well as provide me food and beverages during my entire weekend stay. It works!
I like to go during the Halloween-themed weekend, so the photos here reflect the occasion.
Spooky pirates onstage in the King’s Feasthall, 2016 Texas Renaissance Festival (Canon 1DX, Canon 24-70mm f4L lens, f5, shutterr 1/40, ISO 4000, no flash)
Bartender at the Wonky Wally Pub, 2016 Texas Renaissance Festival (Canon 5DS, Canon 50mm f1.2L lens, f8, shutter 1/125, ISO 640, no flash)
This year, in addition to my Canon 1DX and 5DS cameras, I rented the new Canon 5D Mk IV. I wanted to run this camera through its paces – mainly its low-light paces. My 1DX works quite well in low-light. The 5DS and 5DSR are not that great at all in low light. I was hoping the 5D Mk IV would be a game changer.
You won’t read about any pixel-peeping minutiae here, nor do I go into depth regarding technical specs. I’m just going to tell you what I think about this camera based upon the shots I achieved after a full weekend of using the 5D Mk IV. Would I purchase this camera to use alongside my others? Should you purchase this camera?
The 5D Mk IV provides quite a bit more resolution than the 5D Mk III, but not as much as the 5DS/5DSR. That said, the extra resolution (~30 mp) creates lovely sharp shots in good light. Actually, if you use a flash, it creates lovely sharp shots in low light as well. And that extra resolution allows for nice crops and enlargements.
Blackheart, 2016 Texas RenaissanceFestival (Canon 5D Mk IV, Canon 100mm f2.8L lens, f9, shutter 1/60, ISO 400, no flash)
The Cannibal Tudors, 2016 Texas Renaissance Fesstival (Canon 5D Mk IV, Canon 50mm f1.2L lens, f9, shutter 1/60, ISO 320, flash used)
This camera, however, is not as great of a high-ISO, low-light performer as I had hoped for. In reality, even with all of it’s technical upgrades, I feel it’s only marginally better than my 5DS cameras. Of the three Canons, my 1DX provides the best images in low light. Judicious use of my Imagenomic Noiseware application helped to reduce the graininess, which I basically applied to all of my low-light images taken with this and my other two cameras.
Regarding speed, the Mk IV’s 7fps is nicer than the 5fps provided by the 5DS/5DR. The shutter is relatively quiet (nothing at all like the machine-gun sound of the 1DX). Nonetheless, you still would have a difficult time using this camera at a sporting event. I photographed birds at the Royal Falconer’s Show using the 5D Mk IV and really didn’t get any clear shots to speak of when the birds were in flight or getting ready to take off. I would have been better served using the 1DX, in hindsight. 7fps would certainly help for wedding events, even though you still might have trouble photographing movement to some extent without a flash.
Ronin the Lanner Falcon, Royal Falconer’s Stage, 2016 Texas Renaissance Festival (Canon 5D Mk IV, Canon 70-200mm f2.8L II lens, f9, shutter 1/320, ISO 500, no flash)
Rey the King Vulture, Royal Falconer’s Stage, 2016 Texas Renaissance Festival (Canon 5D Mk IV, Canon 70-200mm f2.8L II lens, f9, shutter 1.640, ISO 500, no flash)
I was impressed with the focus upgrades. Even in extremely low light, the camera never once had to search for something on which to focus. Where ever I pointed the lens, that’s where it focused.
Broadside onstage, Pirate Pub Sing, Sea Devil Tavern, 2016 Texas Renaissance Festival (Canon 5D Mk IV, Canon 100mm f2.8L II lens, f4.5, shutter 1.40, ISO 6400, no flash, noise reduction applied during editing)
Fiddler onstage at the Pirate Pub Sing, Sea Devil Tavern, 2016 Texas Renaissance Festival (Canon 5D Mk IV, Canon 100mm f2.8L II lens, f4.5, shutter 1/25, ISO 6400, no flash, noiseware reduction applied during editing stage)
Interior shot of the Prince of Wales Pub, 2016 Texas Renaissance Festival (Canon 5D Mk IV, Canon 14mm f2.8, f6.3, shutter 1/50, ISO 3200, no flash)
Because I had the GPS function turned on for about half the day on Saturday, it used up battery juice much faster than the analogous battery in my 5DS (the batteries are interchangeable). If I had left GPS turned off – which I did later that day, the battery life would lasted longer and I would not have been forced to switch out batteries later that same day. I do think the GPS function is cool and would be an awesome enhancement for landscape shots. I never used the WiFi function but think that’s pretty cool too – provided it works.
I didn’t really have much use for the touchpad, but it was kinda neat as well, and it was especially helpful during my microfocus adjustments for all of my lenses, which is the first thing I do with a rental camera to ensure my lenses focus clearly. As I reviewed a shot, I’d zoom in and instead of having to use that little button to the side of the LCD to move around the shot, I simply swiped my finger across the LCD to move the image around for further inspection.
This post is not meant to be a thick-paged documentation of the camera, so I’ll bring this to a close. All in all, I think the Canon 5D Mk IV would be a worthy upgrade to the Mk III, just for the extra 2 fps, the faster focus, the GPS/WiFi and all the other technical improvements. But if you own the 5DS or 5DSR, I don’t believe you really need to get this camera (I LOVE my 5DS/5DSR cameras for landscapes). For photographing action, you would be much better served with the 1DX or 1DX Mk II. Same for low-light imagery, I think. For me, the low-light results were the tipping point to keep me from purchasing this camera. Had I seen miraculously little noise in my images, I would have probably purchased that very camera I’d rented (you can do that with lensrentals.com). Alas, that was not the case and all of the improvements were not enough for me to want to add this model to my existing gear.
I know this sounds critical of the 5D MkIV and I don’t mean it to be. Camera choice, like photography itself, tends to be subjective. It’s a very nice camera, has more resolution than the 5D Mk III, and has GPS and WiFi in addition to improved focusing. If you can rent it (I rent from lensrentals.com), then do so and try it out to see for yourself. I recommend you do that with any camera or lens that interests you. Try before you buy.
The Bordello Sisters in the King’s Feasthall, 2016 Texas Renaissance Festival (Canon 5D Mk IV, Canon 14mm f2.8L lens, f4.5, shutter 1/50, ISO 4000, flash used)
(Note: this is not a full, thorough, pixel-peeping review of either lens. If you are looking for that, you won’t find it in this post).
A 14mm View of Creekfield Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas (Canon 5DSR body)
I recently purchased a Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II lens from Lensauthority and wanted to try it out at Brazos Bend State Park, here in Texas. I live about 25 minutes away from the park and this was the perfect venue for some super-wide angle shots. I loaded up the Canon 5DS and 5DSR camera bodies with these lenses and hit the road.
You might not think there is much difference between a 16-35mm and 14mm lens, but there actually is. It’s not huge, but it’s still a difference. And, in retrospect, what I should have done was take along the 16-35mm lens to show that difference. Maybe next time.
I like prime lenses. I know that many reviews say the newer versions of the zoom lenses are just as sharp as the primes. But I still think prime lenses are a teeny bit sharper (although I do love my 24-70mm and 16-35mm lenses which I travel with exclusively).
I like the 14mm lens for the interesting perspective such a super-wide gives. It’s perfect for landscapes and for architecture (interior views, especially). This lens is going with me on my late March Big Bend National Park trip to photograph the cactus blooms.
Another 14mm View of Creekfield Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas (Canon 5DSR body)
I also purchased a Canon 24mm f/1.4L II lens from BH Photo. It’s not the super-wide angle that the 14mm lens is, but it’s a gorgeous lens nonetheless which produces wonderfully sharp images, and I find that I use the 24mm focal length quite a bit for my landscapes. As I mentioned earlier, I do like the primes (although the zooms are far more practical to take on a trip, I admit).
A 24mm View of Creekfield Lake, Brazos Bend State Park, Texas (Canon 5DS body)
So the 24mm lens is going along with the 14mm lens to Big Bend National Park. As is my Canon 100mm macro lens and my Canon 100-400mm lens. Aside from the telephoto, this next Big Bend trip is going to be a prime lens-kind of trip.
Another 24mm View of Creekfield Lake (cropped just a little to make it more panoramic-ish), Brazos Bend State Park, Texas (Canon 5DS body)
My day of photography did not start until 10AM, when I met the bride, her mother, her daughter, and bridesmaids down in the resort’s spa for a morning of hairstyling and makeup.
The salon portion of the spa is relatively small – or rather, I should say it’s styling cubicles are relatively small, so one of the things I had to watch out for was accidentally getting in the way of the shot. I photo-bombed myself more than once, I’m afraid.
Since this was an interior photo op, I increased the ISO to 500. I had my Gary Fong dome diffuser attached to the flash on my 1-DX, but never used it as it would have reflected in the salon’s mirrors.
Hair and makeup sessions make for great ops, despite the above considerations. Make use of the mirrors and their reflections. Frame your compositions at different angles for some variety.
And try to get images that the ladies would like (i.e. try not to take unflattering straight shots of faces without makeup – if you do happen to get those shots, then make sure you’ve added a little interest or humor to the comp).
I was there from 10AM to about 12:30PM. After that, I was off to photograph the groom and his men.
Originally, I had written a 2800-word blog post (give or take). Yikes! Way too long! I think the human attention span tends to get a nervous tic over anything past 1200 words (which is the length I try to stick to but oftentimes never successfully manage). I personally can’t stand reading uber-long posts, no matter how helpful they may be; I tend to skim over them and just look at the pictures. I’d forgotten about this, though, in my 2800-word zeal to get everything down about my experience photographing this wedding. Then, I started reading some short but neat blog posts by Scottseyephotos about his photographic trip to Hallo Bay, AK, and I realized I was far more interested reading his numerous, interesting short blog posts than I would have been had he combined all of his bear articles into a single post. So, I’ve separated this original post into several shorter ones.
Here’s the First Post, which I hope whets your photographic-blogospheric appetite for the next post:
I had the great fortune to photograph Josh & Maegan’s wedding in Galveston, Texas, back in late April (2013). The venue was the San Luis Resort. I reserved a room for the weekend and prepared for the event.
What I took with me:
I’ve written a TripAdvisor review including photos of my room and the resort. Suffice to say that I enjoyed my stay, liked my room, loved the view, but wished they had provided me with a different type of coffee maker . A small complaint, but coffee is a mainstay for me when traveling and working with photos on my laptop. I usually pack my own coffee and filters with the assumption the room has a 4-cup coffee maker. It didn’t work with this particular room.
Looking down at the wedding venue from Josh & Maegan’s 16th-floor penthouse suite.
Now you have the location and the venue. Next post: my first photo op with the bride and her crew.
I recently had the pleasure of photographing a wedding at the San Luis Resort in Galveston Texas. The weather was perfect, the bride was stunning, the groom handsome, and the entire event went off without a hitch. It was an awesome day, as all wedding days should be.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
I’m a list maker. This task helps me remember events, appointments, and what gear to take with me for various events like said wedding. As I reviewed my camera/lens list, I thought about how neat it might be to rent a really wide-angle lens to capture the guests, the ceremony, basically the whole wedding venue. So I went on to my favorite Lensrentals.com and reserved one Canon 14mm f2.8L II lens.
A couple of weeks later, as I was reviewing my gear list for the umpteenth time, the thought dawned on me that the two cameras I planned on utilizing during the ceremony would already each have a specific lens on them. Wedding ceremonies are one of those events that brook no do-overs of the day, and I sure as heck didn’t want to waste valuable time switching out lenses between the 14mm and one of the other two lenses (the Canon 24-70 f2.8L II and the Canon 70-200 f2.8L II). So, I went back to Lensrentals.com and decided this wedding might be a great opportunity (and also kind of fun) to try out the new Canon 6D full-frame camera onto which I would affix the 14mm and just leave it there.
Canon 6D Body
Ok, my bad: I did *not* think to take a photo of the 6D next to my 5D Mk III and 1-DX camera bodies. Mea culpa.
Out Of The Box:
· It takes a SD/SDHD card. Period. I figured as much, since Canon’s other small cameras have accepted only that particular type of memory card.
· Suffice it to say that the 6D is a little camera. It’s smaller than the 5D Mk III, and miniscule compared to the 1-DX. It fits my small hands perfectly, but I think anybody with larger hands might find it a little awkward to handle.
· The buttons on the camera back are positioned a little differently – I got a bit confused trying to find the delete button.
· The battery for this camera is the same as the battery for the 5D Mk II and the 5D Mk III (that was good, because I have a number of spares).
· It’s much quieter than my 5D III and literally silent compared to my 1-DX (one of the noisiest cameras I have ever used).
· It’s slow. Probably as fast as the 5D Mk II, but definitely slower than the 5D Mk III, so I don’t know that it would be so great for sports or wildlife action shots. If you used a flash, then sure it would probably be fine. Oh, and there is n0 built-in pop-up flash, btw.
· It’s got GPS and WiFi capabilities. I turned on the GPS menu function to tag my locations. I never used the WiFi function, but both are pretty neat, considering the lack of either on my other two cameras . I can’t believe the 1-DX doesn’t have at least GPS. Heck, for the amount of money I paid for that camera, it should be able to make me a cup of coffee in addition to taking pictures. ;-).
· Because it is small, and because the 14mm lens is light and relatively small, too, the combo fit nicely into the Lowepro Slingshot 202 AW backpack I carried with me during the wedding day.
· The camera does a pretty good job with low-light situations but I still had to use noise-reduction software for those images.
· The AF points are like the 5D Mk II.
· It’s got in-camera HDR settings. Unfortunately, I could never get it to work correctly for me and I forgot to bring along the instruction booklet. Oh, and the 6D doesn’t let you make an HDR in Raw – it’s jpg only.
This is the kind of camera I would carry around with me in my purse. It would make a nice little back-up camera and would definitely make a great full-frame starter camera for someone wanting to make the leap to full-frame but not willing to fork over the dollars for a 5D Mk III or 1-DX. Of course, this camera doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that my other two cameras have, but this camera does have WiFi and GPS. The resolution is somewhere between the 1-DX and the 5D Mk III – well, allow me to amend that: the megapixel count is somewhere between those two cameras – resolution looks about the same what with all the improvements made to the newer digital SLRs nowadays. I don’t like the fewer number of AF points on this camera; I personally like the multitude of AF points of my 5D Mk III much better.
If you want a detailed review, try Ken Rockwell’s review (although I don’t always agree with everything he has to say about a camera or lens and I know some photographers get quite vitriolic over Mr. Rockwell’s reviews). DP Review also has a much more detailed, in-depth discussion of this camera which I really like. You can also check out Lensrentals.com’s short review of this camera.
Ok, so now, what did I think of the Canon 14mm f2.8 Lens?
I LOVE this lens! It’s fun! I have never used such a wide-angle lens before and I was able to get some funky shots with it on the 6D. I think I might have to rent this lens for one of my upcoming trips this year. The only caveat is that because of the curvature of the lens glass, I’ll have to use a special rear filter for any polarizer shots.
What is this lens like on a full-frame camera? You know the wording you see on a car’s passenger-side mirror: “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear”? Well, that’s true of the 14mm. I ’d have the camera/lens to my eye getting closer and closer to my subject, and when I’d bring the camera down from my face, I found I would be standing practically on top of my subject.
To get this shot above, I lay down on the dance floor (narrowly avoiding the feet of a couple of dancers) and aimed the camera up toward the bride, groom, the bride’s brother and his wife (who was also the bride’s matron of honor). Funny story which highlights the previous remark about objects being closer than they look. I was on the floor, snapping away and all of a sudden this little face looms large in my lensview. The bride’s 7-year old daughter was looking down at me intently (her face must have been practically on top of mine) and finally she said “Hey, did you know your face is red?!” LOL. I was hot and sweating, so I’ll bet my face was, indeed, red.
There is no image stabilization with this lens, so my modus operandi was to aim, focus, and hold down on that shutter button for 4-5 shots in succession. Of course, in good lighting (like outdoor lighting or flash), any lens shake shouldn’t be a problem as long as the shutter speed is high enough or the aperture is bumped up.
The color, clarity, and depth of images produced by this lens are really sweet. Take a look for yourself!
This is an HDR image of my hotel room at the San Luis. For this, I had attached the lens to my Canon 5D Mk III because I wanted to use a tripod and this camera had the L-bracket to fit onto my tripod. I had forgotten to bring a tripod plate for the 6D. Oh well, that was the only thing I forgot, so I was doing pretty well.
The resort’s entryway
Right outside of the resort’s glass-enclosed entryway
The bride’s procession down the rose petal-strewn grass aisle
The Officiant presenting the bride to the groom
Ceremony over. Cameras and cameraphones pulled out!
The reception hall
I’ll have a separate blog about my wedding session and the gear/lighting equipment I used for that day. Stay tuned!