This blog is my attempt to keep track of some of the things I learn along the way, with my Canon 7D, G12 and accessories. All images copyright Brad Calkins, not to be used without permission (or purchase). I do not attempt to monetize my blog, other than to promote my stock photo portfolio on Dreamstime.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rejoice, no choice!

Amazon Kindle
© Photographer: Bradcalkins

I'm currently reading a few books, including one called the 'Paradox of choice'. One of the themes is that too much choice brings negative side effects. People seem to want choice, and to exercise their freedom to choose - yet when choices are more limited they are better able to make a decision and happier with the result.

I got to thinking that this kind of applied to how I use my lenses. While I wish I could bring and have access to all my gear when I leave the house, I often find I use my camera more if I just pick a single lens and run with that for the day. Especially if the choice is a prime lens! It is somehow easier to make a choice and pick one lens prior to leaving the house. With everything in the bag I could obviously make the same choice on the fly, but somehow I suddenly want to pick the 'right' lens if they are all handy. I'd never grab my 28mm prime to get shots of the kids playing soccer - yet if that was the only lens I had I take photos with it and get something different.

Ah the simplicity of not having to decide if I want to zoom in or out... Rejoice! No choice! There are some extra benefits too, like learning how one piece of equipment works to a higher degree, getting comfortable with the angle of view, etc.

So next time you head out, limit your choices and see how you like it!

Fork in the road
© Photographer: Bradcalkins

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Hey, I'm loving the Animoto service that allows you to upload photos and video and then makes a video slideshow out of it. It is pretty cheap if you don't want HD - I was able to create a video in a few minutes.  It looks to be great way to share videos and photos with friends.  I truly find creating a slideshow tedious at best, especially when a large number of short video clips are involved. Plus, you don't have to worry about copyright on music... The link above is a referral link, where you get money off and a free month if you sign up for a Pro or plus account. No pressure :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Climate change stock photos

Climate change stock photos can be found in my collection on Dreamstime, from a number of photographers including myself...  Here are a couple of mine:

Clean air

Climate change

What to call the mirrorless format?

DPReview has a vote going on to find out what people think the new mirrorless format should be called.  They have a list of six options, but none really make sense to me.  Just in case it ever takes off, I've got to put down what I would name the genre of cameras: High Fidelity Compact (HFC) or HFDC (high fidelity digital camera).

The issues with all the names they have, in my opinion, is that they don't distinguish from Point and Shoots with tiny sensors (which have never used a mirror) or by including the word 'system' they try to only include cameras with interchangeable lenses.  But I think most would agree that the Fuji X100, Leica X1, Ricoh innovatively odd lens module system, Sigma's DP1/2 and so on are all contenders for dollars when it comes down to cameras like the micro-four thirds and Nex offerings.  To me, it all comes down to the sensor size.  Yet the mFT sensor is so close to an APS-C sensor it would be a mistake to rule out bigger sensors (surely the Leica X1 or Sony Nex are pysically smaller than the GH2 with bigger sensors).  Mirrorless really just defines the viewfinder technology - so what about the new Fuji camera with a fixed mirror in the viewfinder.

Anyways, to me the 'format' encompasses too many different technologies to to try to build a name around any of those features - or you just exclude new developments from the field.  I think it is all about getting higher images quality out of a small form factor camera.  At the same time, the physical sensor size is kind of irrelevant - if we can get super high quality out of a sensor smaller than MFT in 5 years, will we care about that technicality, or just that it is high quality and fits in a pocket?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Brooklyn Bridge

Here is a recent shot I took of the Brooklyn Bridge.  It is always fun to play around with filter and so on.  Tough to spend a lot of time on composition from a moving cab, so I'm pretty happy with the results...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Playing around

With Dreamstime having some much lower weekly upload limits (35/week) I'm now running into the limit from week to week and having some time to play around with other stuff.  Here are a few snaps that didn't work out so well that I tried to turn into something a bit more interesting.  The cloud one in particular was barely different than a light blue swatch before I applied some levels and added grain, etc.  Fun to play with, and result I enjoy looking at!  I should add that DT wasn't interested in these as a collection, though I suspect they would get a few sales.  I'm not heartbroken, as I did them for fun rather than for sales...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Something a little different

I don't shoot flowers all that often, but here goes:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Back and White

I played around with higher ISO, no flash, shot of my son after his bath and was very happy with this result.  My only wish was that I hadn't touched the frame on the right side:

Don't miss CreativeLive !

This has to be the best deal of all time - free!  CreativeLive has a monthly weekend workshop that is broadcast live.  You can purchase the course after the fact, but to watch it live is free.  This weekend it is Bambi Cantrell - don't miss it!  Coming up in July - Lighten up and Shoot...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Higher ISO on 7D

It is pretty amazing what you get nowadays at higher ISOs.  The shot on the left is ISO 160 and the right is 640 on my Canon 7D (click to see uncompressed at 100%).  This is SOOC with no noise reduction applied in Lightroom.  Bottom line is that I won't hesitate to use higher ISOs for shots I'm going to print or use personally.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Natural Light

Who doesn't like to shoot in natural light when they can?  I certainly do, but so often I'm either outdoor during the day, or not taking photos.  This afternoon I had a nice chance to take some photos of my niece by their windows.  Nice expression, and fun to not be thinking about where to bounce or position lights...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spot metering

In the 'old days' meters were center weighted, usually with a bit of a emphasis on the lower 2/3rds of the frame to avoid the sky contributing too much.  Lots of things fooled such a meter - like backlighting, or a white or black main subjects.  In modern times we now have the multisegment meters that make use of a large array of examples to compare the scene too in an attempt to overcome these kinds of challenges.  The very latest meters from Nikon and Canon now use color as well.

All that is good, and helps the beginner get properly exposed images in a lot of situations without having to understand metering and exposure.  For those of us who do understand such things, it becomes almost counterproductive.  The multi-segment metering is invisible in its operation, and slight differences in framing can change the exposure dramatically.  So - many resort to manual metering, or simply manual exposure.  If you do use the meter for manual exposure I think you are better to switch to a more predictable metering pattern - either the center weighted or spot meter modes.  The spot meter is the best, in my opinion, as it uses only the center of the lens and it is pretty easy to fill the meter area with a patch of solid color.

I've been using spot mode on my 7D lately, and find I'm getting more consistent exposures.  Even with flash, I'm using the flash exposure lock (I have the mFn button mapped to F-El) to meter first, then concentrate on composition.  Here is an example of a shot with bounce flash - but spot metering...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

7D is sharp!

I am generally impressed with the 7D's ability to focus and produce sharp photos.  Contrary to things I've read elsewhere it is certainly good enough for stock photography. Here is a shot of my son - I certainly don't need any better :)  I should add that this was using the single point focus mode...

Outdoors with the 7D

Despite having a week off for skiing, I haven't spent much time outdoors with the 7D.  Today was a nice sunny day so I brought both my 8.5mm fisheye and 70-200mm with me for some skating.  The first shot here is with the fisheye (suprise, surprise).  It is still pretty fun to use - and I haven't shot too much with it to the point that I'm bored of the look.  It is crazy how close you have to get - I'm just inches from my nephew.
The one is with the zoom, zoomed in pretty close.  I've been using the point expansion focus mode and it worked quite nicely.  I have found that the zone focus tends to focus too close, so I've avoided it.  I'm also trying out spot metering - it did a nice job here:

Monday, February 7, 2011

Photo arrived in the mail

After a week of fun skiing with the kids at Big White, we arrived home to the first issue of the kid's magaizine 'Chirp'.  To my surprise, the 2nd page had a photo of mine on it - licensed from Dreamstime.  Along with calendars in Victoria, this is the one of the few photos I've found without looking for it.

The photo is below - they just used a small crop of the sled for a page on various objects you use to play with...  Kind of cool for the kids to see their sled in a magazine!

© Photographer: Bradcalkins

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

7D turning out fine

So far I'm very happy with the 7D. At low ISO it has amazing detail - with an extra 8 MP over my old 40D. I was somewhat concerned that I would start to find my lenses to be the limiting factor, but so far I've been pleased with the level of detail, sharpness, and ability to lock focus using my 24-105mm zoom, the 60mm macro, and even my 28mm f/1.8 lens. I haven't had a chance to take the 70-200mm for a spin yet - opting for the far more portable G12 for my recent sledding adventures with the kids.

Here is an example shot that was approved on Dreamstime today:

Crib railing
© Photographer: Bradcalkins

Nothing special at one level, but this is a tricky shot in terms of getting sharpness in the wood grain while avoiding noise in the wall paint. The 7D processed in Lightroom seemed to do just fine.

On a side note, I've been fairly pleased with the G12 as well. I've had a few approved from it now as well:

© Photographer: Bradcalkins

This shot of a tree was fairly blah, but I was hoping to do something with it as a silhouette. It looked OK, but was tough to get enough color in it without overfiltering. I decided to push it over the top in an overfiltered look:

Abstract sunset
© Photographer: Bradcalkins

In a previous post I said I was going to try to do a bit more with my photos, and I think these last two are evidence of that. The hockey one I deliberately shot into the sun to this image's advantage, and the tree shot I pre-planned some post processing...