Tag Archives: 50mm

My New Little Mini-Studio and Fun with the Christmas Lights


My unwavering goal in life is to eventually move out of southeast Texas and back to Washington State to live close to my sister and her family.  With that in mind and because it feels like I am actually doing something toward that goal, I have donated lots of clothing and other items to the local hospice thrift shop and  boxed up (and continue to box up) items in my apartment that I don’t use much but don’t wish to part with at this point in time.  Over the 4-day Thanksgiving holiday, I managed to move most of the boxes off of my apartment’s spare bedroom floor and into the spare storage closet, leaving enough room in said spare bedroom for a tiny studio, complete with 2 studio lights & umbrellas, black bedspread backdrop and a black covered table.  So tickled was I with this setup that I decided to take a break from housework for the weekend and have some fun with glass and Christmas lights.

DecantersStill Life With WineIlluminated WineIlluminationPrime IlluminationClear And Bright 2Glass And Pretty Lights 2Glass And Bright ColorsLots Of LightsColored Lights And Blue Glass - HorizontalBaubles And Lights CROP

I used my Induro tripod and Canon 5DS and Canon 24-70mm f2.8L II lens, ultimately switching over to the Canon 50mm f1.2L lens.  ISO for all of the photos you see was 100 and aperture was f11.  I played around with the shutter speeds, ranging from 1/6 of a second to 30 seconds.  For the plain glass images, I used my two studio lights.  For the glass with Christmas lights images, all lights were turned off.


Comments Off on My New Little Mini-Studio and Fun with the Christmas Lights

Filed under 5DS, Canon, Christmas, glass, Holidays

A Wedding In Galveston – The Bride Getting Ready

Taking A Break

Judging by the room Josh and Maegan had, I’d say the San Luis Resort penthouse suites are – well –  sweet 😉

I entered with all of my gear, set it out of the way of the ladies in the room, and began picking up cups and plates off of the coffee table and moving chairs and other things around the room to make space for forthcoming photo ops. I decided there would be no need for any flash as the ambient light from the balcony windows mixed nicely with the interior shadows. The bride finally returned from the salon and the photography process began.  And this, folks is where the art of photography really comes into play when capturing the beauty of the Bride and her Ladies.

Bridesmaids On The Couch

Bride and Bridesmaids Robes

I first saw Maegan in her little “Bride” robe when she waltzed down to the salon for her hair appointment. She told me the bridesmaids and matron of honor each had robes as well only they were in the bride’s color (aqua) with white embroidery writing on the backs.

Showing Bella The Locket

I’ve noticed this about the “getting ready” sessions I have photographed prior to the actual wedding ceremony: they are all very relaxed and intimate, with hugs and fun chatter and quiet excitement of the ceremony to come. Talk centers around family. In the image above, Nana was showing her granddaughter the locket that will someday belong to her.

When you are hired to photograph a wedding, it’s so very important to get to know the couple prior to the Big Day.   Why?  Because having the couple  feel comfortable with you and your style is worth so much in terms of the kinds of photographs you can achieve on their behalf.  When everybody feels comfortable around you, then they tend to not feel so self-conscious and worried about having a camera around them on a constant basis.  They relax in your presence and the photographs you capture reveal the love, affection, and emotion of the day.


Getting a photo of the wedding dress is almost a de rigeur photo nowadays.  And Maegan was cracking me up.  Pretty much everything she wore said “Bride”, from her robe to her tank top.

That quiet excitement began to build as the bride was helped into her gown and finishing touches were applied.

In The Wedding Dress

I made use of my 70-200mm, 50mm, and 24-70mm lenses for these images. All of them hand-held. No flash. In all of the photos with people (excepting the reception images), I added a touch of Imagenomic’s Portraiture. It’s all about looking good for the wedding, you know.

If you are in a situation where you can utilize side-lighting, then by all means do so, as it is fantastic for portraits.

Buttoning Her Dress

Putting On The Wedding Jewelry

Bride and Bridesmaids

Portrait of Happy

If you are in a situation where you can utilize backlighting for the bride, then this is another one of those “by all means do so” moments.

Maegan-Wedding Dress-Window

Maegan-Wedding Dress-Window

Bella And Maegan At Window

Yes, the backlit bride and her dress are clichéd shots that all photographers get, but nobody can argue they aren’t beautiful images and every backlit bride image is different from wedding to wedding, so it’s not *quite* the same thing as photographing a landscape that everybody else with a camera has captured.

Standing At The Window

Bella And Maegan At Window

Portrait Of The Bride VIGNETTE

I also made use of black & white with some of the photos. Weddings, IMO, were made for monochrome. In some cases, I noticed the black & white images bringing out more dress detail than in the color images.

Next post: Posed Shots – The Bride, Groom, The Bridesmaids, The Bridal Party


Filed under Black & White, Life, Photography, wedding

A Wedding In Galveston: The Gear

Newly Wedded

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.

Setting Up The Wedding Venue

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.

Comments Off on A Wedding In Galveston: The Gear

Filed under Equipment, Events, Photography, Portraits, wedding

Flat As A Pancake – The New Canon 40mm f2.8 STM Lens


I had never in my life heard of a pancake lens until one of the photography sites that I frequent trumpeted the announcement of the Canon 40mm STM f2.8 pancake lens. I then discovered other pancake lenses: Samsung puts out three of them: the 20mm, the 30mm and the 16mm, and Voigtlander also sells three of them: the Ultron 40mm,  the Color Skopar 25mm, and the Color Skopar 21mm.

A pancake lens is a reallyflat lens – in the case of the Canon model, the lens is about one (1)  inch tall. Really!  A 1-inch tall lens on a DSLR.



It looks like this on my camera:


When Canon announced this lens, with a price of $199, I said to myself: “Self, you should get this lens. It’s not that expensive, it sounds fun, it’s certainly smaller and lighter than your 50mm f1.2 lens.  Plus, it’s got a slightly wider view for those group shots. Granted, it’s not an L-lens, with that supreme L-lens quality, but nonetheless…..”

So, I placed a “pre-order” for this lens, since it was not yet in stock. A pre-order means the camera company has your order on record (i.e. in the queue with all of the other pre-orders for an item not yet in stock), but until said item arrives, they won’t charge your credit card or Paypal account.

Two full weeks later, still no lens. I lost my patience, rationalized to myself as to why I really didn’t need the 40mm pancake lens, cancelled the “pending” order and instead opted for the Canon 2x teleconverter. We all know how that worked out.

So, I re-ordered the now in-stock lens.

The 40mm pancake vs. the 50mm L lens on a camera:



First impressions right out of the box: It’s so cute! ;D

Ok, now for a little more helpful set of first impressions:

  • The pancake lens is so very light.  And, as you can see, the glass itself is pretty small, compared to the glass of the 50mm lens.  This gives me an indication that the L-lens  probably allows in more light than the pancake lens will.
  • The pancake lens feels relatively sturdy.  I’m comparing this to what I remember of the 50mm f1.8 lens I used to own, which both looked and felt a little on the flimsy side (my apologies to those of you out there who own and love this lens – remember, this is just my opinion).
  • The pancake lens was easy to attach to the camera.  I’ve read reviews where it’s a little difficult (especially for larger hands) to work with the manual focus.  I haven’t tried to use the manual focus because I generally don’t use manual focus on any of my lenses; my eyesight is not what it used to be at 51 years of age, so I generally rely on the AF.
  • Speaking of  AF, you probably want to know about this fancy STM focusing.  In a nutshell, that means the lens is supposed to ensure smooth and silent continuous focusing – especially important to those using the video mode on their cameras.  I personally found the focus motor noise to be practically non-existent.  There might have been a teeny bit of noise, but I could only hear it in total silence.  While using the lens outside with all of the background noises of birds singing, cars driving past, lawn mowers working, etc., I heard nada, and focusing was definitely smooth.  Actually, focusing was smooth even under interior low light conditions.
  • Of course, neither my 50mm nor this new 40mm have image stabilization (IS), but the 40mm lens is so small and light that shake seems to be less of an issue.  Just about every image I took, the focus was spot-on from the first click to the last, with very few blurry images.

So what’s that little rubber cup I have attached to my cute little lens?  Well, when using a non-L lens, I generally don’t bother with any sort of filter unless I opt to use a circular polarizer (CPL). There is a school of thought out there that says filters are simply another layer of glass through which the lens must focus, thus distorting the original image and reducing its clarity.  For non-L lenses, I apply that school of thought.  For L-lenses, I like using the slim versions of filters for UV / protection and (in the case of the CPL) to eliminate vignetting for wide angle shots.  For the non-L lenses I prefer to simply use a lens hood as protection and shade from sun flare. With this lens, there is not – yet – a dedicated hood.  However, there are all sorts of lens hoods for 52mm filter threads, which is what I ended up ordering.  I purchased this little rubber wonderfor nostalgic reasons  in addition to price; I fondly remember during my high school years using a rubber lens hood. It works fine and I never have to remove it if I don’t wish to.   Plus, it takes up very little room in the camera bag.  It’s not exactly sturdy (like if you accidentally slammed your lens up against the wall), but it still does the job for me.

I’m sure you all want me to quit babbling and get to the meat of this post, which are comparison photos, right?    Ok, but first, you need to understand a few things.  I am not a technical person; no tech-speak here in this post.  I’m simply doing this review straight out of the box, from a Joe(sephine) the Photographer point of view.

Below are comparison photos of the 40mm STM f2.8 pancake lens and the 50mm USM f1.2L lens on a Canon 5D Mark II body. Now, I’m pretty sure some of you are saying “comparing those two lenses is like comparing apples to oranges, rather than comparing apples to apples.”  True, but it’s all I have to work with.

Normally, what I like to do with a Raw photo is start my editing in Lightroom 4, then export it to Adobe Photoshop CS5 and run the Auto Tone, do any other little artistic tweaks, and then the final Unsharp Mask.

However, for this comparison, the first photos  you initially see here are straight out of the cameras. No processing whatsoever except to import the Raw files into the computer and convert them to TIFs and then to low-res JPGS. Same settings for both lenses; yes, I know that although I am using the same brand and make of cameras, no two cameras of the same brand and make are ever totallyalike. Deal with it.

Low-Light Interior Shots – unedited

Canon 40mm pancake f2.8, ISO 200, shutter speed 1/30


Canon 50mm f2.8, ISO 200, shutter speed 1/30


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Canon 40mm pancake f2.8, ISO 400, shutter speed 1/30


Canon 50mm f2.8, ISO 400, shutter speed 1/30


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Canon 40mm pancake f2.8, ISO 640, shutter speed 1/30


Canon 50mm f2.8, ISO 640, shutter speed 1/30


Bokeh – unedited

Canon 40mm pancake f2.8, ISO 200, shutter speed 1/30


Canon 50mm f2.8, ISO 200, shutter speed 1/30


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Canon 40mm pancake f2.8, ISO 400, shutter speed 1/30


Canon 50mm f2.8, ISO 400, shutter speed 1/30


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Canon 40mm pancake f2.8, ISO 640, shutter speed 1/30


Canon 50mm f2.8, ISO 640, shutter speed 1/30


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Exterior Shots – unedited

*Note:  For the exterior images, I had to keep changing the shutter speeds because the 50mm L-lens definitely lets in a little more light than the 40mm (as I originally surmised).  So, I wasn’t consistent with the speeds.  I did remain consistent with the aperture (f-stop) and the ISO.  All of the exterior images were taken hand held.

Canon 40mm pancake f5.6 ISO 250


Canon 50mm L f5.6 ISO 250


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Canon 40mm pancake f5.6 ISO 250


Canon 50mm L f5.6 ISO 250


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Canon 40mm pancake f5.6 ISO 250


Canon 50mm L f5.6 ISO 250


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Canon 40mm pancake f5.6 ISO 250


Canon 50mm L f5.6 ISO 250


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

OK, so you’ve seen what the images from these lenses look like straight out of the camera with no processing. Now let’s see what some post-processing magic does to these shots, since I am one of those photographers who believes that just about every photo taken – no matter how perfect the in-camera exposure settings – has room for improvement with at least some post processing.

I imported these same Raw images into Lightroom 4, where I applied Lens Profile Correction, moved the Highlights slider all the way to the left, ran the Clarity slider up to between 30 – 50 and  on some of them, lightened the exposure.  Then I exported the results over as TIF files into Adobe Photoshop CS5.   For the images you see here, all the TIFs were ultimately saved as low-res JPGS after processing.

In CS5, I applied Auto Tone and/or Curves adjustment, then Unsharp Mask . That’s it.

*Note #1:  Lightroom 4 currently doesn’t have any sort of profile correction for the 40mm because this lens is so new.  I’m sure Adobe will eventually send out a patch for this.

*Note #2:  Looking at the exterior image 100% crops captured by the 50mm, I noticed sometimes they were not as sharp as they could/should be, and I attribute that to user error.  I’ve applied in-camera micro focus adjustment, and with a tripod, the 50mm images are beautifully sharp and smooth.  As mentioned above, though, I was not using a tripod for the exterior shots, my hands are small, and the 50mm lens is a “meaty” lens – especially compared to the teeny 40mm.

Here’s what the images look like now.

Interior – Edited

40mm pancake lens – edited original and 100% crop


9664_Edited_f28_ISO400_1-30_40mm CROP100pct

50mm L lens – edited original and 100% crop


0090_Edited_f28_ISO400_1-30_50mm CROP100pct

Bokeh – Edited

40mm pancake lens – edited original and 100% crop


9654_Edited_f28_ISO400_1-30_40mm CROP100pct

50mm L lens – edited original and 100% crop


0079_Edited_f28_ISO400_1-30_50mm CROP100pct

Exterior – Edited

40mm pancake lens – edited original and 100% crop

9584_Shrimp Plant Flower

9584_Shrimp Plant Flower_CROP100pct

50mm L lens – edited original and 100% crop



– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

40mm pancake lens – edited original and 100% crop



50mm L lens – edited original and 100% crop


9968_fig_edited_50mm CROP100pct

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

40mm pancake lens – edited original and 100% crop

9616_Wrought Iron

9616_Wrought Iron CROP100pct

50mm L lens – edited original and 100% crop


0017_WroughtIron_edited_50mm CROP100pct

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

40mm pancake lens – edited original and 100% crop


9611_Oleander CROP100pct

50mm L lens – edited original and 100% crop


0011_Oleander_edited_50mm CROP100pct

My concluding impressions:

  • I really really like this lens!  It’s a fun little lens! I’ve read other great reviews for this lens, and now I can add my own support.  It doesn’t let in as much light as a larger 50mm lens does, but it just requires a change in aperture, shutter speed, or ISO to remedy that issue.
  • It’s nice and light and easy to carry around on the camera.  Plus, it doesn’t call as much attention to the photographer as a larger lens might.  I don’t like to have attention called to myself when I am busy taking photos – it’s about my subject(s) and not about me.
  • I like the slightly wider view on my full-frame camera because I plan on using this lens not only as a walk-around lens but also (mainly) as a group/portrait lens.  This wider view means I can get more of a group in without having to back up as much.
  • I do wish they had made the lens a little faster (i.e. 1.8, 1.4 or 1.2 as opposed to 2.8).  Just a quibble though.  For me and my purposes, it’s still a decent low-light lens and I can increase the ISO if I need to.
  • It’s a damned sharp lens!  Canon actually did a great job with a non-L lens (I hate their kit lenses, and for a full-frame camera, it’s been L-lenses all the way for me….until now).
  • And finally, the price is right.

So there you have it:  my 2-cents worth of a review for the Canon 40mm STM f2.8 lens.  If you don’t feel like spending $200 right away, then just rent it for a few days (it’s a cheap rent) and decide if you want to have a lens like this in your camera bag.  Every lens I think about purchasing, I rent first (well, with the exception of this little gem).


Filed under lenses, Photography, Tests