Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summer Vacation Photos

EOS 5D, EF50mm f1.8
It's what we all live for, right? Often our holiday pictures are the best photos we will take all year. It's certainly true of me. All I need is a simple change of scenery and inspiration takes over everything. This year we ventured out to Nova Scotia's South Shore, which has world famous scenery. Also this year, I'm back to 100% digital, because I feel I've learned all I can with shooting film. Besides, I was never 100% film; to do so I would have to be developing my own frames, instead of getting local photo labs to do that part for me. Once you begin scanning negatives, you're digital. I was shooting film for a long time more for the film gear (meaning cameras and lenses), which are always "full frame" and even beyond, if you happen to have Medium Format cameras, and at the same time, could be very light-weight and compact. Digital cameras are still striving for that - a full frame camera that is still small and lightweight.

I was using my EOS 5D Mk-1 ("the classic") for the whole journey, with 4 lenses to choose from - the EF40 STM f2.8, EF 50mm f1.8, EF28-105 Ultrasonic, and the EF70--210 f4 telephoto. This means I was hiking with almost 2.5 Kg around my neck - which is always sore because of my neurological condition. I could've gotten by with my Lumix DMC-LX5, which is truly a great shirt-pocketable picture taker, but with it's tiny sensor, and very limited telephoto range, I knew I'd be missing some shots, and not really at my best. I long for the day to come when one of the mass-market camera makers (not Leica) would come out with an almost pocketable, affordable lightweight interchangeable lens, digital full frame camera with an optical viewfinder. It was possible with film, (like the Pentax MV1) so why is it taking so long with digital? My next one might be a Canon EOS 6D, which is considerably smaller and lighter than the 5D has ever been through all of it's model changes, and still retains a modest pixel count (I am still quite certain that it is better to have fewer large sized pixels than to go with the market driven trend of having many more small ones). One thing the original 5D, with all it's weight and 'only" 12.8 megapixels always delivers is absolutely unbeatable mage quality. It has a tremendous dynamic range, which allows me to always shoot 1 EV under-exposed, which defers conventional wisdom, and then use RAW post-processing to recover shadow detail. It always works for me with this camera. here's what I mean:

Straight from camera JPG, shot at -1 EV

RAW processed with DxO Optics Pro to recover shadow
I always shoot this way with the 5D Mk-1. It's a "shoot to the left" (under-exposure) approach, which most digital shooters avoid, because the "digital math" (which I won't get into) puts more recoverable detail in the bright areas than in the dark. But the 5D Mk-1 is a unique camera, in that it "only" uses 12.8 megapixels to cover the sensor's full 35mm frame, meaning each individual pixel captures a lot more detail with less risk of digital noise. I take advantage of this, by under-exposing in the camera, to make sure I can "process-up" to make a very bright picture, without a lot of blown out highlights - I have full confidence that the shadow detail is still there. Comparing these two versions of the same picture of this Chevy Nomad, you can see that there is only slightly more blow-out from the light of the sky through the trees (which I don't care about), but there is a tremendous amount of detail that was nonetheless hiding in the shadows - look at the oil stains just behind the front wheel. The original EOS 5D, which Canon produced 9 years ago, is a true dynamic range monster, which has become less and less true as more megapixels are added - the newest EOS 5DS has 51 megapixels, which is more useful for professional studio shooting I suppose, but I would expect it to be a lot more fidgety when you try to make a bright photo from RAW without using a studio flash setup.

So then, enough about the technology - here is a travel album made up from both mine and Kathy's photos:

Post-script: Take careful note of this one > I'm not sure if that's a funnel cloud or not, because I've never seen one.

EOS 5D, EF50mm f1.8