Support and Stability for your Canon 40D

A set of good quality tripod legs is an essential tool in any photographer’s rig. In my opinion, it’s the most important accessory a serious amateur photographer will invest in and one which should be chosen with great care. Good quality tripod legs are not cheap and you can expect to pay between $400 – $800 (USD) depending upon the materials of construction, size and weight.

My favorite set of tripod legs are Gitzo’s GT1541T Traveller. They are made from carbon fiber and are very light-weight (2.1 lbs) but extremely strong and durable. They fold up to only 16″ in length, making them very easy to carry in the field and will support up to 17 lbs of camera and lens, which is just about any lens of 400mm or less with my Canon 40D body.

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Gitzo GT1541T Traveller Tripod Legs
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shot taken with a Canon Powershot G9 hand-held at 17mm, f/5 for 1/80th of a second at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. All post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Noise Ninja.

It’s the Little Things That Count

In landscape photography sometimes it’s the little things that count the most. One of the most important aspects of creating a well composed landscape image is knowing where “level” is. This is especially true when your background is hilly or mountainous. We use our sense of “level” so much every day that a person will look at an image on the web or in print and instinctively know if it’s not perfectly level. However, finding that perfect “level” in a camera’s viewfinder is not so simple, especially as we get older.

Luckily, the folks at Bogen / Manfrotto sell a great little Hot Shoe Bubble Level 337 that takes all the guesswork out of finding a perfect “level” in our landscape images. For about $35.00 (USD) it’s a great little Holiday gift too.

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Hot Shoe Bubble Level
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon Powershot G9 hand-held at 30mm, f/4.0 for 1/320th of a second at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. All post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Noise Ninja.

Early Texas Architecture

Here’s a shot I took a few months back during my first visit to the Monument Hill and Kreische Brewery State Historic Sites near La Grange, TX. This is the veranda of the Kreische home built with native hill country stone quarried on the property. I love the unique architecture of these early Texas homes. You can see the influence of the early Spanish settlers and the later German immigrants that settled this area in the 1800’s.

The Veranda

The Veranda
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D hand-held, EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM at 20mm, f/13 at ISO 200 on SanDisk digital film. The HDR file was made from three RAW images tone-mapped in Photomatix Pro. All other post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Noise Ninja. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Two Views

I’ve really fallen in love with the incredible detail that results from tonemapping a multi-exposure HDR image. The two images shown here were created by merging seven different exposures that were taken using the techniques that John O’Connor explains in his Raindrops and Ferns-HDR post. The first image was converted to grayscale after tonemapping and the second was processed “normally” in Lightroom 2.

Shelter

Shelter B&W
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D tripod mounted, EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM at 10mm, f/11 at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. The HDR file was made from seven RAW images tone-mapped in Photomatix Pro. It was converted to grayscale in Lightroom 2 and finished in Noise Ninja. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Shelter

Shelter
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D tripod mounted, EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM at 10mm, f/11 at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. The HDR file was made from seven RAW images tone-mapped in Photomatix Pro. All other post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Noise Ninja. Click on the image above for a larger version.

In the past few months of playing around with high dynamic range processing I’ve found that the secret to obtaining a really detailed HDR image is in eliminating any camera or subject movement “during and between each exposure”. This can be accomplished using the techniques that John explains or by using the High Speed HDR technique popularized by Uwe Steinmueller.

I’ve also found that (for me) Photomatix Pro 3.1 gives me the most realistic looking results and the lowest noise in my images. One final thing to remember is that almost every tonemapped image still needs some final “tweaking” in Lightroom or Photoshop to obtain the best results.

On A Clear Day

Here is another image I shot last Monday at the Monument Hill State Historic Site near La Grange, TX. I usually wait for a partly cloudy day to shoot landscapes but the crystal blue skies in the eastern most corner of the Texas Hill Country were crying to be photographed.

On A Clear Day

On A Clear Day
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D tripod mounted, EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM at 16mm, f/11 for 1/90th of a second at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. All post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Noise Ninja. Click on the image above for a larger version.

A Little Texas History

Monument Hill is hallowed ground. The remains of men who perished in the struggle for Texas independence are entombed in a granite crypt — their names etched in stone and marked by a towering monument. It is a memorial to the men who died in two separate events in the 1840s: the Dawson Massacre and the infamous Black Bean Death Lottery.

In 1842 Texan forces battled at Salado Creek to repel the Mexican invaders who had captured nearby San Antonio. Nicholas M. Dawson’s advance militia company of 54 men, most from Fayette County, marched toward San Antonio to join the fight. As they approached the battlefield, 500 Mexican soldiers attacked, killing 36 men in what became known as the Dawson Massacre. Three men escaped but 15 were taken prisoner and marched over 1,000 miles toward Perote Prison near Vera Cruz in southern Mexico.

What Else Will That Lens Do?

efs10-22I think I’m on a roll here so I’m gonna keep going.

One of the other neat little things that the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens excels at is wide-angle high dynamic range photography. I believe the keys to a really cool HDR image are good color depth and incredible detail and this lens performs very well on both fronts.

I took this series of three images (shown here as a finished HDR image) at both the minimum focusing distance (about 10 inches) and the widest focal length (10mm) for this zoom. If you click on the image below you can see the incredible detail in the texture of the wood and rocks captured by this lens.

Enjoy!

Lookout Shelter HDR

Wide-Angle HDR
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D tripod mounted, EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM at 10mm, f/13 at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. The HDR file was made from three RAW images tone-mapped in Photomatix Pro. All other post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Noise Ninja. Click on the image above for a larger version.

Really, Really Wide

efs10-22If you’ve read yesterday’s post about the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens the question you’re probably asking yourself is just how wide does that lens really go?

Here’s a pretty good example from Monday’s visit to the Monument Hill State Historic Site. I took this shot (series of three shots converted into an HDR file) with my 40D tripod mounted and the lens at 10mm without a circular polarizer. Yes, that’s correct. NO circular polarizer!

To give you a better idea of just how much detail this lens captures, the tree just to my left was less than 3 feet away from me. The Colorado river seen in the center of the image is about 2 miles away and the bridge you see in the distance is over 6 miles away (as the crow flies).

If you click on the image below and look left of center above the horizon you can also make out the faint outline of the moon.

Not too bad for a “consumer grade” lens!

Really Really Wide

Really, Really Wide
Copyright © 2008 Jeff Lynch Photography
Shots taken with a Canon 40D tripod mounted, EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM at 10mm, f/13 at ISO 100 on SanDisk digital film. The HDR file was made from three RAW images tone-mapped in Photomatix Pro. All other post capture processing was done in Lightroom 2 and Noise Ninja. Click on the image above for a larger version.