Using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro!

We had really great weather last weekend and Sunday after church I decided to drive out west of Houston to a little town called Columbus which sits right near the Colorado river. It’s a little like stepping back in time a hundred years. The beautiful stone work of City Hall sits at the center of this sleepy little town and you can hear the trains coming and going all times of the day and night.

Here is another image taken last Sunday and processed using Photoshop Elements and Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro filter. Josh Bradley turned me on to Nik’s plug-ins for Photoshop and Photoshop Elements and though they are a wee bit expensive, the value they provide is exceptional. This image was exported from Lightroom into Photoshop Elements and converted into this old fashioned style in only a few seconds.

Train's a Coming

Train’s a Coming
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon 40D hand-held, EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM at 30mm, f/16 for 1/20th of a second at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. All post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and in Photoshop Elements using Nik’s Silver Efex Pro filters. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Shooting with Canon’s Best Walk Around Lens!

Here’s another image to prove just how well the Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM performs in the real world. This time with no HDR “slight of hand”, just a single hand-held exposure at 85mm, f/ll for 1/45th of a second.

In the past I would have said this exposure (85mm at 1/45th second) would have been impossible without a tripod but the image stabilization in this lens is superb! Will I throw out my main landscape lens (EF 17-40mm f/4 L USM) and tripod? No, but I may not bring them along hiking anymore and the savings in weight alone (bless my aching back) is substantial.

David Ziser was right. This really is an all around great lens!

Bridge Bound for Nowhere

Bridge Bound for Nowhere
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon 40D hand-held, EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM at 85mm, f/11 for 1/45th of a second at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. All post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and in Photoshop Elements using Nik’s Color Efex Pro filters. Click on the image above for a larger version.

And yes, that is the color of the water slowly flowing down the Colorado river in East Texas.

The Lazy River

The weather last weekend was incredible and I just had to try out my new Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens. This is my first non L Series lens and since I wasn’t sure what to expect from the image quality I decided to buy this from Adorama’s “Refurbished by Canon” inventory. This Canon gear is discounted nicely, refurbished by Canon USA and comes with a 90 day warranty from Adorama.

The Lazy River

The Lazy River
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D hand-held, EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM at 17mm, f/11 at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. The HDR file was made from three RAW images tone-mapped in Photomatix Pro. All other processing was done in Lightroom 2 and in Photoshop Elements using Nik’s ColorEfx Pro filters. Click on the image above for a larger version.

 

As you can see from the image above, the image quality is quite good for a consumer grade lens and the image stabilization is superb. I was able to hand hold the three bracketed exposures that made up this HDR image by using the Canon 40D’s burst mode. This technique called High Speed HDR, really seems to work with image stabilized lenses like the EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM. Very cool indeed!

The Big Picture: Air Racing!

It’s Tuesday morning and you’re having trouble getting the old creative juices flowing. Take a look at Air Racing – The Big Picture. Nothing like a little adrenaline rush to start off the day.

Next weekend is the Wings Over Houston air show featuring the Air Force’s elite squadron The Thunderbirds! I’ll be there with my 40D attached to an EF 300mm f/4L IS USM hoping to capture anything close to what you see in today’s Air Racing – The Big Picture. After seeing all the great images Moose Peterson captured at this year’s Reno Air Races I just had to give this a shot.

So, how do you focus on an F-15 going 250 mph?

Canon Instant Lens Rebates

It’s that time of year again and Canon USA has announced their fall instant rebates good from October 19, 2008 till January 17, 2009. More details on Canon’s Current Promotions page.

  • EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM $50
  • EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM $70
  • EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS $50
  • EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM $30
  • EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM $100
  • EF 17-40mm f/4L USM $50
  • EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM $80
  • EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM $80
  • EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM $125
  • EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM $75
  • EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM $50
  • EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM $35
  • EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM $100
  • EF 300mm f/4L IS USM $85
  • Extender EF 1.4x II $25
  • Extender EF 2x II $25

My picks in Red.

Inspiration

Several weeks ago I purchased Bill Neill’s latest digital book Impressions of Light and have spent many hours viewing the incredible images it contains. This book contains images that Bill has created with his “camera motion” technique and they are truly inspiring and have a distinct character all their own. After 35 years of amateur photography, I rarely see something this innovative and so moving (no pun intended).

I sent Bill an email last week expressing how much I’ve enjoyed his book and asking how he discovered this technique. I was quite surprised that to find out that “painting” with camera motion has been around for decades. Bill pointed me to several references such as an article he wrote for Outdoor Photography as well as links to other masters of the technique such as Dewitt Jones, Tony Sweet, Brenda Tharp, Richard Hamilton Smith and Gunnar Plake.

Learning more about this technique and looking at the incredible images in Bill’s book has inspired me. Out of 200 images I took last weekend attempting to learn this technique only one looked good enough to display.

Please let me know what you think!

Inspiration

Spiritus
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D hand-held, 70-200mm f/4L USM with a 1.4x extender at 280mm, f/11 for 1/45th of a second at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. Post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2’s develop module. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Setting the Record Straight on High ISO Noise Reduction

Canon includes a custom function in their EOS-1D Mark III, EOS-1Ds Mark III, EOS 40D and EOS Rebel XSi models called High ISO Noise Reduction, which is turned off by default. This is a great new feature in Canon digital SLR cameras IF you understand how it works and when it works.

Digital SLR Noise
When a digital SLR camera is used at higher ISO settings, it will tend to generate more noise in the images it produces than at lower ISO settings. This usually occurs at ISO setting such as 1600 or 3200. There are two types of noise generated, Luminance and Chrominance.

Here’s What’s Important
Canon’s High ISO Noise Reduction custom function only works on Chrominance noise and only on images that are processed “in camera” from RAW to JPEG. That’s right. ONLY on Chrominance noise and only on images processed “in camera”.

What About RAW files?
Since RAW files are “developed” off camera using a variety of software products, the Canon High ISO Noise Reduction setting has NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER! Having said that, Canon’s RAW Image Task software will read the CR2 file and if the High ISO Noise Reduction function was enabled it will apply chrominance noise reduction similar to what the DIGIC III processor does. The High ISO Noise Reduction custom function will have NO EFFECT WHATSOEVER on Canon’s Digital Photo Professional (DPP) software like any other RAW processing software such as Adobe Camera RAW or Lightroom.

Setting the Record Straight!
If you’re a wedding photographer or just someone that prefers JPEG files and shoots in low light conditions, this custom function can make a huge difference in the quality of your images. However, if you shoot RAW and perform your post-capture processing in Adobe Camera RAW or Lightroom, then leaving this function disabled makes much more sense! Especially since this custom function reduces the maximum burst rate significantly.

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth
Canon has published a great article on their High ISO Noise Reduction custom function that goes into great detail about this often misunderstood setting. This article cuts through the marketing propaganda finally sets the record straight for RAW shooters like me.

All I can say is “It’s About Time!”

Canon 40D Learning Resources

One of my favorite books dedicated to the Canon EOS 40D digital SLR camera is Lark Book’s Magic Lantern Guides: Canon EOS 40D written by the world renowned photographer Rob Sheppard. This book is an excellent resource for anyone who owns a Canon 40D or is planning to buy one.

Rob covers every aspect of the Canon 40D from the camera’s controls and menu settings, to it’s image formats and in-camera processing capabilities and all the way through to the camera’s various operation modes. He also covers using flash with the Canon 40D as well as other lenses and accessories.

This book makes a much better manual for the Canon 40D than any other book I’ve read and it’s much more understandable than the user manual that comes with the camera. Rob’s writing style is clear and easy to understand and throughout the book, he interjects his own tips and tricks for getting the most out of this camera, explaining why some things work and others don’t.

My only complaint is that the book contains only black & white images and I sure would like to see Rob’s shots in full color.

Anyway, for anyone new to the Canon EOS 40D or digital SLR cameras in general, this is a great read!

BTW – I was so impressed by this book that I emailed Rob to thank him and he emailed me right back. Besides being a good writer and great photographer, Rob is just plain and simply, a nice guy!