Tag Archives: camera

Photographer Charlotte Hamilton Gibb

Photographer Charlotte Hamilton Gibb
Landscape photographer Charlotte Hamilton Gibb works the summer evening light along the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park

Photographer Charlotte Hamilton Gibb. Yosemite National Park, California. July 12, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Landscape photographer Charlotte Hamilton Gibb works the summer evening light along the Tuolumne River, Yosemite National Park

This photograph was one result of a wonderful set of coincidences in the Yosemite high country. I had gone up to the Tuolumne Meadows area for a few days of photographing mid-July. I arrived midday, managed to get a campsite, set everything up, hung out a bit… and it was time to figure out what to photograph in the late afternoon and evening. As sometimes happens, especially on the first day of such a trip, when I’m still working my way back into “the zone,” I didn’t have a plan. So I decided to simply get in my vehicle and head back to the west along Tioga Pass Road and look for some interesting potentials in the light and the scenery. At one point I caught a glimpse of some interesting light on trees and I quickly pulled over into a clearing at the side of the road. I noticed two other cars already there and a woman getting out of one of them, and I thought “I hope I’m not annoying her.” Then I realized that she was a friend and her husband was parked one car up. Claudia and Michael and I exchanged greetings and quickly decided to join forces and head out across the meadow.

As we crossed to the other side I saw another couple, one with a serious looking tripod, who seemed to be following us. we paused at the far side of the meadow and they caught up — it was Charlotte and her husband. Now the party was becoming larger! We headed slowly downstream, talking and watching for subjects, finally arriving at a spot where the river twisted through a few turns and granite slabs lined the banks. Each of us went to work on our particular views of the spot, and I made this photograph of Charlotte, focused so intently on her photograph that she was unaware that I was photographing her.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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Sharpening Basics: A Primer

Sharpening is a very important step for optimizing digital photograph files. If you let your camera save images in the common .jpg format (a compressed image format that is often used on the web) the camera is applying sharpening to the image produced by the camera sensor. If you use the raw format (a high quality format that retains the original sensor data of the exposure) you will find that the photograph looks soft until you apply sharpening during the post production phase.

Sharpening optimizes the visibility of details that are already in your photograph. It is a matter of more clearly revealing what is in the photograph than  a matter of creating detail where there was none. Most sharpening works by increasing the contrast between light and dark areas in the image — that’s right, what we call sharpening (which makes sense subjectively) as actually more about adjusting the brightness of portions of the photograph.

Typical sharpening

The image above is an example of a small section of a photograph.[1] It is a “100% magnification crop” of a tiny area from a much larger photograph made with a high megapixel DSLR camera. A “100% magnification crop” is an image displayed so that each pixel — or individual picture element — of the original photograph is displayed using a single pixel on the screen. (Things are a bit more complicated than that when using modern high-resolution monitors, though I’ll let that description stand for now.) 100% magnification crops let us look very closely at what is going on in photographas “at the pixel level.” In this case, the original full image from which these examples were taken would be equivalent to prints at a width of roughly 10-12 feet.

The right side of the example shows this tiny section of the photograph before sharpening. The left side shows the results of fairly typical sharpening. Continue reading Sharpening Basics: A Primer

Photographic Myths and Platitudes — That Sensor Noise is Awful!

Let’s say you are looking for a new camera. You want to make a smart decision, especially since you are sinking your hard-earned money into the purchase. You sure don’t want to make a mistake and end up with deficient gear. So you do the smart thing — you do some research. You look around on the web, find some articles, and you discover that there is a lot of contradictory information. Some tell you that Product X is wonderful, while others are adamant that Product X is pathetic and that Product Y is far superior. The Product X fans point out that Product Y is deficient in other critical ways by comparison to Product X.

You have some unanswered questions.

I keep hearing that Camera X has terrible noise compared to Camera Y. In fact, I found some photographs that demonstrate how bad this noise is. Why in the world would anyone get Camera X?!

Both sides provide “evidence.” Photographers love evidence, especially evidence of a failure to achieve divine technological perfection, and double-especially when the failure is demonstrated in a brand they don’t own. They get a little testy though, when the “evidence” makes their product look weak! (For a fun detour, look up the term confirmation bias on the web. Also, this is an important time for a reminder that photography is about photographs, not about cameras.)

I want to construct a little story for you based on “evidence.” We’ll start with evidence that makes a particular product (one that I rely on) look particularly bad. But before we start, you need to promise to read the whole thing. I’ll try to make it worthwhile.

OK, I promise to read it all, and with an open mind.

Good. Here we go.

Lots of people are concerned with the related issues of dynamic range (the camera’s ability to record image data from both light and dark sources in a single photograph) and noise (non-image artifacts that are, in a rough sense, sort of like “grain” on film).

I’ll begin with an example of noise in a photograph I made using the the new and very expensive Canon EOS 5Ds R, a 50.6MP full frame DSLR that Canon released recently.

Example #1

Man, that is awful! That 5Ds R obviously produces terrible noise. It is so bad that the photograph is unusable, at least for anything other than an article demonstrating how bad it is! And the color is pathetically bad, too!

Yes. That image looks absolutely horrible!

Astute, critical thinkers are already wondering what went wrong here. Let me explain. Continue reading Photographic Myths and Platitudes — That Sensor Noise is Awful!

Fujifilm Deal: X-Pro-1 And Lens Bundles

There is a special deal right now on the Fujifilm X-Pro-1 mirrorless camera if you purchase it with a couple of available lens options:

Yes, you read that correctly — the 27mm lens is essentially free with the X-Pro-1, and for $150 you can also get the outstanding 35mm f/1.4 XF R lens which is sold separately for $599! (This is the lens that is almost always on my X-E1 body.)

Fujifilm X-Pro-1 Body
Fujifilm X-Pro-1 Body

If you are interested in trying out the Fujifilm sensor system, like rangefinder-style bodies, and like to shoot with small, high quality primes, this seems like a great deal to me.

These days I use two different camera systems, depending on what kind of photography I’m doing. While my main system is based the Canon EOS 5DS R DSLR, I also use a separate system based around one of the Fujifilm X-trans mirrorless sensor cameras. I still use the original Fujifilm X-E1, even though it has now been superseded by newer models including the Fujifilm X-E2, the Fujifilm X-T1, and the less expensive Fujifilm X-T10.

The first of the interchangeable lens X-trans sensor bodies was the Fujifilm X-PRO-1. This was — and in many ways, remains — a groundbreaking camera. Continue reading Fujifilm Deal: X-Pro-1 And Lens Bundles

Landscape Not-Photography

It is no secret that I’m pretty serious about my landscape photography. I spend a lot of time going to interesting places, searching out subjects, and making photographs. In fact, this activity is undoubtedly the single biggest influence on the nature of my outdoor experiences.

Subalpine Meadow, Summer
Midday summer sky reflected in a subalpine tarn, Yosemite National Park

I embrace this effect and regard it as highly positive. I’m convinced that photography deepens my appreciation and understanding of these places and subjects. Like every photographer I know who shares my passion for these subjects, entering the natural world to make photographs focuses my perceptions in powerful ways. I slow down. I stop. I look. I ponder. I wonder. I indulge my curiosity and I see things that I would otherwise miss. I’m intensely aware of light, color, atmosphere, form, and subject.

But sometimes the photography gets in the way… Continue reading Landscape Not-Photography

The Canon 5Ds R — Dynamic Range Examples

Updated August 13, 2015 to add a second dynamic range adjustment example.

Ongoing development and refinement of digital camera technology continues to improve cameras and the technical quality of the images they produce. Color accuracy improves, dynamic range expands, sensor resolution increases, AF accuracy gets better, and so on.

The Canon EOS 5Ds and the Canon EOS 5Ds R continue this process. Their most notable feature is the 50.6 megapixel (MP) sensor, currently the highest sensor photo site density available on full frame digital cameras. (Nikon and Sony both produce 36MP sensor cameras using Sony sensors, and Sony has introduced a camera with a 42MP sensor. Note that the differences between 36MP, 42MP, and 50.6MP are less than you might expect.)

When it comes to dynamic range — the ability of the sensor to record a wide range of luminosity levels from very bright to quite dark in a single exposure — Sony is the current champion, and cameras using their sensors have the largest available dynamic range among comparable cameras. (Some MF cameras have more dynamic range capability than any current full frame camera. )

(All current digital cameras capture images with more dynamic range than we can display on monitors or in prints — the display media cannot keep up with the capture technology. Consequently, the primary advantage of greater dynamic range comes in post-production, where the photographer will find more useful scene data in darker areas that can be “pushed” or otherwise recovered while maintaining useful image quality.)

If you can get more dynamic range without giving up anything else, there is no reason not to have it. In marginal situations, that extra bit of dynamic range might enable you to get a bit more image data in a single exposure, while a photographer with a camera providing less dynamic range is a bit more likely to have to use exposure bracketing or HDR techniques (which combine multiple images in post-production), use a graduated neutral density filter, or possibly find ways to suppress noise in shadow areas of scenes with very wide dynamic range. That said, all current high quality digital cameras capture a wide dynamic range — much larger, for example, that was possible with typical film media. (Note, however, that no currently available full frame camera can capture in a single exposure the largest dynamic range scenes that you may encounter.)

With all of that in mind, I thought I’d share a couple examples of files from the Canon 5Ds R that have been pushed quite a bit. Continue reading The Canon 5Ds R — Dynamic Range Examples

The Canon EOS 5Ds R — Resolution Examples

… and the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens.

A few days ago I spent four days in the high Sierra making photographs. At the end of one evening I made a photograph that isn’t intended to have any particular aesthetic value, but which was intended as a test of something about my new camera, a Canon EOS 5Ds R.* So I pointed it up at the top of this nearby granite dome just as the last light washed over its summit.

The technical information about the photograph:

First, the resulting photograph — which is, I will be the first to admit, not a stunning example of photographic art!

Lembert Dome Sunset Watcher
A lone person watches the Sierra sunset from the summit of Lembert Dome

Next a crop from the same photograph showing a little surprise at the edge of the precipice. This is the same photograph, but this time a 100% magnification crop of a 600 x 450 pixel section. (You’ll have to click on the photos to see the 600 x 450 versions, since the design of this website slightly downsizes photos posted at that size.)

Lembert Dome Sunset Watcher (crop)
A lone person watches the Sierra sunset from the summit of Lembert Dome

I’ll share some other examples later that are better optimized to show the resolution potential of this camera — photographs using something closer to the diffraction-limited aperture, focal lengths not at the extreme long end, with a lens that has even better resolution potential, and with a subject that is not so far away. (The distance introduces atmospheric elements that reduce resolution.)

Not bad, I’d say.

Added later:  Someone asked how the 5Ds R handles the fine details of feathers. I’m sorry to say that I have not photographed birds yet — that is more of winter thing for me. However, while making landscape photographs this past week, deer wandered into several of my scenes and I went ahead and photographed them. The following 100% magnification crop (actual pixel size) was also made using the EOS 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L IS II at 400mm, f/5.6, IS and AF on, ISO 100. The critter was in shadow, and exposure has been pushed here roughly a full stop. (Click the image to see the original 600 x 450 pixel image — the version on this page is slightly downsized.)

Deer — 100% magnification crop at 600 x 450
5Ds R, EOS 100-400mm f/4.5-f.5L IS II @ 400mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO 100, AF and IS in us

And one more example, also a 100% magnification crop: Canon EOS 5Ds R, ISO 100, 1/13 second, f/8, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II @ 105mm

100% Magnification Crop — 5Ds R & 100-400 v2 lens
Canon EOS 5Ds R, ISO 100, 1/13 second, f/8, EF 100-400mm f/4.5-f5.6L IS II lens @ 105mm

5Ds and 5Ds R Articles:

  • Links to the Canon EOS 5Ds and the Canon EOS 5Ds R in this article go to site-sponsor B&H photography with whom I have an affiliate relationship. When you purchase through these links your price is the same, but a small percentage is returned to help support this website.

Mentioned in this article:

© Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

All media © Copyright G Dan Mitchell and others as indicated. Any use requires advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.