2nd South Carolina String Band

2ndscsb

2nd South Carolina String Band at the annual Gettysburg battle reenactment, Gettysburg, PA 2016

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White Christmas…

For the first time in a long time we’ve had snow on Christmas, just enough to make it white, not enough to cause a problem, perfect!  It started around 2am (I was up of course so I saw it and went to bed quite content).  I didn’t want to go too far from the house, but I did want to show some snow, so I went to my back porch.

Copyright @ 2012 by Adrian M. Benson  Canon EOS 5D Mark 2
Copyright @ 2012 by Adrian M. Benson Canon EOS 5D Mark II

The warm, sunlight glow is created by a Lumopro LP-120 strobe, off camera left at 1/32 power, 24mm zoom with a full CTO (color temperature orange) gel on it.

Waiting for the right light

No shooting today…had big plans but it’s been raining here all day plus I had a ton of things to get done around the house (only managed to complete about half a ton though) so nothing new.

iPhone photography has been the rage for a while.  I never really got the appeal as I had an iPhone 3Gs for a long time and the camera left a lot to be desired.  Just a few days ago I upgraded to the iPhone 5 after a brief, 4 month affair with an Android device (don’t ask, I won’t tell).  The camera on this little bugger is pretty damn good, I now understand why iPhone photography is popular and why manufacturers of point and shoot cameras might be a little nervous.  Below is just a quick ‘behind the scenes’ shot of my setup for the sunrise picture I posted yesterday.  Nothing spectacular, but considering the lighting and lack of support, I think the iPhone did a fine job of capturing the scene.  I can see myself doing a lot more of this since my phone is always with me.

iPhone 5 photo of my tripod mounted Canon 5D Mark II waiting on the right light
iPhone 5 photo of my tripod mounted Canon 5D Mark II waiting on the right light

Winter Sunset

Took a quick trip over to Houghton’s Pond this afternoon hoping to get some good sunset shots that I could enter into a photo contest.  I don’t know that I got any contest winners but did get some nice shots.  This image is actually 3 shots one at metered value and +1 -1, combined in Photomatix Essentials HDR software.  As far as HDR goes, this is my very first ever foray into it, and maybe I should have waited for a better example to post.  But I did like the end result of this 3 shot combo, even though I probably could have gotten the same (maybe even better) image by post processing in Lightroom and or Elements.  I definitely need some more practice before I can put HDR to proper use.

Copyright @ 2012 by Adrian M. Benson  Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 3 shot bracket combined in Photomatix Essentials
Copyright @ 2012 by Adrian M. Benson Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 3 shot bracket combined in Photomatix Essentials

Brace yourselves, Christmas lights are coming…

That title is hilarious if you’re familiar with the meme.

Very few of the houses in my neighborhood (including my own at the moment) have light displays this year.  This is different from past years and I don’t know why.  People do seem to be less happy and enthusiastic this year in general though.

Anyway, because of that, no pictures of lights yet.  However, if you are going to be going out light peeping follow the below link for some quick, easy to follow tips on how to take great pictures of Christmas lights.

How to photograph Christmas Lights

The link will take you to the Strobist website.  The site is maintained by David Hobby who has fast become one of my favorite people since I discovered his blog a few years ago.  Photography is all about the light, and David will teach you (if you read all of his blog) all you need to know to use light well.  For free.  And using real people language (no inverse square laws there).  Even better he tells you how to do it using relatively inexpensive gear, hot shoe flashes mostly.  If you have any interest in lighting and especially if you know nothing about lighting, you should be a regular reader of Strobist.

Winter Wonderland

Well, not quite a wonderland, but we are getting some snow here today.  It makes me happy, as long as it doesn’t get too out of control…I don’t want to see four feet of it.  Took this from my back porch.  No more raspberries from this bush for a bit.

Copyright @ 2012 by Adrian M. Benson - Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f4 L lens, post in Lightroom 3.6
Copyright @ 2012 by Adrian M. Benson – Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f4 L lens, post in Lightroom 3.6

It’s Here!

Adorama came through with an excellent offer on my old equipment and so now I’m the very happy owner of a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and an L series 24-105mm F4 ISM lens.  I haven’t had a chance to do too much shooting with it and now I’m going to be out of town this weekend and most of next week.  I’ll take it along, but I don’t see much chance to use it…I’ll do my best though.

I doubt there’s much point in reviewing a camera that’s 4 years old already but I’ll give you my initial thoughts:  “Wow”.  “Damnit I wish I’d bought one 4 years ago!”  Stuff like that.

Here’s one of the shots I’ve made with it so far, taken at Houghton’s Pond, part of the Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, MA.

Copyright @ 2012 Adrian M. Benson Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 24-105mm f4 L lens Black & White conversion in Lightroom 3.6

I converted the image to B&W because there just isn’t much color in this neck of the woods at this time of year…

And if you are local to the area (Boston, MA) and are a regular visitor to the Blue Hills, check out this group: Friends of the Blue Hills  They spend a fair amount of time and energy making the Blue Hills the great place that it is.

A New Era of Gear

On my equipment page you’ll see that I’m primarily a Nikon shooter and have been for quite a while.  Not long ago, I acquired a Canon EOS T2i and have had a chance to do some shooting with it.  It’s a fine camera and though the controls are different from my Nikons and take some getting used, once mastered are easy and intuitive.  I’ve decided I like Canon and have come to a bit of a crossroads I guess you’d say.

I mention in the equipment post that photography is a gadget intensive pursuit, but that you should try hard not to get caught up in chasing the ‘best’ gear.  That doesn’t mean you should never upgrade your kit though.  I recently shipped my aging D200 and other Nikon gear off to Adorama’s used department for a quote.  Depending on what they come back with will determine my upgrade path.  I can say this: my new stuff is going to be Canon.  I’ve long been interested in the EOS 5D MkII, but price has kept me away.  Now, with the brand new 5D MkIII available and the 6D due in December, prices on remaining stocks of the 5DII are tumbling.  Unless Adorama is able to come in with a truly amazing offer (which they might) I believe my new set up will be a Canon 5D MkII with the 24-105mm F4 L series lens.

“That camera is 4 years old and isn’t much of an upgrade”, some will say.  “Save some more and get the 5DIII”, others will say.  Some will point to reviews of the 5DII and its supposed horrific autofocus issues and ask, “are you kidding?  Pros dropped Canon in droves after that and 1DIII fiascoes!”

Well, it is 4 years old, but my D200 is circa 2005 so, “new to me” as they say.  And old or not, the 5DII is a huge upgrade in image quality over my D200.  Not state of the art of course, but that’s ok.  Could I take the money I get from my sale and save more for the latest and greatest?  Possibly, but my experience with trying to do this is that what really happens is the money I get from the sale will evaporate without me even realizing it and I’ll save nothing.  A man has got to know his limitations.

Apparently, the 5DII does have some issues with its autofocus system.  But reading technical reviews of the system, and reading about photographers using the camera in the field (and I’ve read a lot of both) the problems do not seem to be a big issue generally.  AF tracking in fast action situations seems to be an issue, as does focusing in very low light.  For someone like me whose livelihood isn’t on the line, I don’t think this is a major problem.  As for pros leaving Canon for Nikon, some did.  And they were very vocal about why.  Autofocus was only part of the reason; many were unhappy with Canon’s customer service and felt their concerns weren’t being taken seriously.  Rightly or wrongly, I’m not going to factor that in my decision.

I’m anxiously awaiting a call about the final quote on my Nikon gear.  They’ve already given me a preliminary estimate (that I was quite happy with) which “won’t go down once we see your equipment”, so it can only get better.  I should hear back today or early next week and once things are finalized I’ll post here about it.