So it took a little bit longer than I expected, but the I finished going through the photos from this year’s men’s retreat. The retreat was September 17-19th at YMCA Camp Gorham. The retreat was a great time and I came home with around 1200 photos to go through. Slightly different from previous years, I actually decided to put up two galleries, one with the 5 star, top rated photos and one with the 4 star images that weren’t quite my favorites, but were still better than average. As with the previous Men’s Retreats, all images are released under a Creative Commons license. If you want higher quality versions of any of the images, let me know.
October 25, 2015
December 16, 2013
Just finished up our last day in port in Hawaii. It’s been 5 great days in Hawaii and now we have another 4 days at sea, a day in Ensenada and then back to LA and flying home to Albany on Sunday. I haven’t had time to go through many of the 2000 or so photos and videos I took while we were here, but here is a gallery of a few of the highlights as they came out of the camera. I’ll post more edited versions later when I have time and an internet connection that isn’t over my phone.
October 28, 2013
My cousin Matt and his wife Stef just got married this past weekend. It was a great time at the Old Daley Inn at Crooked Lake. Family was in from all over and the wedding had a great movie theme. Even though I wasn’t the official photographer, I brought a small portion of kit along with me and took some casual shots of the wedding and the family while I was there. You can see some of the highlights of the shots I got in my gallery here. Just send me an e-mail if any family want’s prints or touch ups or higher resolution copies of any of them.
October 16, 2013
July 5, 2013
So, hit 29 this year. For a combined birthday present and business investment I decided the time was finally right to pick up the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II. As some may be aware, there is currently a $300 off sale going on from Canon that is reflected across all retailers. In addition, I found it on Buydig with another 5% off (plus 1% from my credit card), free shipping, a free multi-coated Hoya UV filter, a free cleaning kit and free 2 day shipping. The cleaning kit was kind of a joke and 2 day shipping didn’t matter since it came from NJ and had to wait until I was home to sign for it anyway, but the filter was a nice $60 bonus.
I got it on Friday after my birthday and just before Autotask’s summer engineering picnic. Wanting to give it a try, I swung by home and picked it up. It was a great day for really putting the lens through its paces. It was cloudy with on and off rain leading up to an all on down pour which gave me a chance to try out the weather proofing. I’m pleased to say it held up very respectably. I was using the 5D Mark iii with the battery grip on it (which notably does compromise the weather sealing a little bit, but only if water comes up from the bottom of the grip.) I did finally head for cover when it got to an all out down poor, but through multiple small to moderate rain showers I was able to keep shooting no problem.
The only problem I noticed with the weather sealing (and I’m not sure if it was the weather sealing’s problem or not) was that two minor very small spots of condensation formed under the top LCD panel where I’d been handling it. It was exceptionally humid though and the rain caused a very rapid temperature change, so I think this may have just been condensation and it evaporated within the hour with no ill effects. Otherwise, there were no signs of any problems from the rain. I’ll probably still pick up a rain coat for it for added protection, but it’s nice to know that the weather proofing really does work. (Plus it’s a bit fun to get weird stares from people wondering why you are shooting with an expensive looking camera in the rain without concern.)
Rain or shine, the focus was fast and very accurate, though I did find the limit of modern AF point selection. Since I was shooting mostly vollyball from fairly close (mostly individual player shots) and following the ball itself, I had to leave it on full autofocus. While the reject rate was only about 1 in 3, I was a little disappointed because I normally am aiming for closer to 1 in 5 or so. That said, I think it was probably an unrealistic expectation for conditions. Between the net, the ropes holding up the net and other players, there was a lot of movement and shifting the shot very fast and it still held up 2 out of 3 shots focusing on what I intended. Even on the shots where it didn’t focus on what I wanted, something was in sharp focus. So the camera doesn’t quite read minds, but it is very fast and accurate. This was also before I had a chance to micro-adjust the lens.
As far as sharpness goes, I was a little disappointed, though I think this was again a result of unrealistic expectations. I was comparing it to the results from my 24-70mm f/2.8L II which has got to be just about the sharpest lens on the planet. While, in my opinion, the sharpness of the 70-200 doesn’t even remotely approach the sharpness of the 24-70, it still isn’t anything to complain about. Reflections are still pretty clearly visible in people’s eyes at portrait distance. It’s also still easily twice as sharp as my 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS is, and as previously mentioned, the AF is so much faster and tighter. The full time manual focus, shorter minimum focus distance, fixed lens length and orientation and extra speed round it out to make it quite satisfying even if it isn’t as magic as the 24-70 was. (f/2.8 across the entire range is a beautiful thing.)
Since then, I’ve also had a chance to try it out a bit more for indoor work and flash work while doing a bunch of portrait work while my brother-in-law was jamming on his guitar. They really show the power of f/2.8 and the accuracy of the focus even in fairly dim conditions.
Looking forward to the first wedding I’ll be shooting with the lens on the 20th.
January 9, 2013
Picked up a Speedlite 600EX-RT for Christmas and have been using it with the older one as a secondary flash. It’s been working pretty well so far. I notice that there are sometimes exposure issues that I have to deal with by taking a few photos and sometimes the optical transmission mode is a little bit flaky for the dual flash, but still overall a very nice setup. I am particularly liking doing 75 degree bump flashes with the white card extended when shooting close ups with the 17-40mm lens.
Also got Magic Lantern Alpha 3 loaded up and running. No record continuation yet, but the clean HDMI output is nice and the focus indicators make it FAR more usable as a video camera. Looking forward to getting a chance to give it a try at Excel next weekend. The one minor issue I’ve noticed with the clean output is that when you go to adjust the ISO, it still displays the overlay on screen instead of being able to just work off the LCD panel. Shutter and aperture work fine though without anything on screen. Still looking forward to getting a lens in the 30 – 70ish range, but haven’t decided when or which one to get yet. I’ve definitely been feeling the pain of missing anything in-between 40 and 70mm.
October 13, 2012
I’ve gotten through touch up on the first batch of photos from the Men’s Retreat and am in the process of posting them to the site. Right now, it just has the photos that I flagged as 5/5 stars. The gallery is a Flash gallery export from Lightroom, so it might not be possible to save the images directly from it, but if you see one you’d like a personal copy of, drop me an e-mail and I’ll be happy to provide you with a high quality version of whatever photos you want. I’ll also probably be posting some of the photos directly to Terra Nova’s Facebook page in the near future after Phil gets me access to do so. Hopefully I’ll have time to go through the three and four star photos some time in the next week or two, but it’ll take some time with nearly 350 photos to go through in those two categories.
September 20, 2012
Well, it has been past time to replace the GL2 for a while now and I finally got around to upgrading. The latest addition is a Canon EOS 5D Mark iii. I also picked up the battery grip, a Speedlite 320ex flash, two 64gb memory cards and a 70-300mm image stabilizing EF lens to supplement the 17-40 L series lens I already have. For audio capture I also picked up a Zoom h4n digital recorder. For mobile processing I updated to a top end Lenovo Y580 with Adobe Master Collection CS6.
All in all, with the solid low light performance of the 5D, this rig should keep me going for quite some time and means I finally have up to date video capability again and this time at a higher quality than ever before. Since I do this as a professional hobby, I’m open to helping with most non profit projects or very reasonable rates for commercial projects to help cover equipment costs.
I’ll eventually be updating to an underwater enclosure and strobe, a shotgun mic for distance audio and a master capable Speedlite for studio purposes (the 320 is slave capable). I might also look in to some additional rigging for the camera, but I’ll need to see how I fair freehand first (which hasn’t been an issue in the past.)
I uploaded some quick free hand, raw camera shots from my toying around last night at http://www.ajhenderson.com/5d/. There are also a quick rack focus test and a sample video of my cat, Shadow. They are all using the existing lighting and iso settings up to 25k. Focal ranges go up to 300mm with image stabilization on for the shots of the side of one of the apartment buildings in our complex.