In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog November 29th, 2008

5D Mark II User Report, Ayuthaya

UAE Hotel Guide
• Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel
• Kirklees Hotel Apartments
• London Crown 2 Hotel Apartments
• Orient Guest House

Feature Photograph

This weeks feature photograph was captured during a recent trip to the Saduak Floating Market. This is always an excellent place for interesting captures and this trip was no different. This image is significant because it’s unusual to see a boat pilot at the front of their vessel, and this lady had a most determined look and strength that I just couldn’t resist capturing her as she paddled furiously through the crowds. She was paddling so quickly and moving so fast it was difficult to track and capture her.

People often ask me how my camera seems to be pointing in the right direction at the right time and it really isn’t magic. It’s more about technique. I was going to cover the technique in this weeks learning column when I found out that Rob over at www.1ds.com got his hands on a new Canon 5d Mark II and offered to do a hands on review. Next week I’ll cover the techniques and provide examples so you don’t end up with shots like the one below with the face covered and not much in the way of apparent action.

Weekly Photo Outing

This weeks photo outing is to Ayutthaya. This outing is different because I wanted to show some photos that anyone could take with a common compact digital camera during the worst part of the day. Basically, the sort of photos you’d get in the worst of circumstances using the cameras automatic settings. Standard tourist fare! In a future weekly I’ll share some of the many images I have taken during the optimum time of day, using professional equipment, and taking time to set up the compositions. The comparing and contrasting will be fun!

This is an opening shot taken right off the sidewalk. Even if you have a compact camera you can look for quick and interesting compositions

There will always be map and drink stands outside the ruins like this one.

Most regular travelers to Thailand know that each town has slightly different public transportation. These versions of the tuk tuk are fun to photograph.

Another fun composition.

Everybody is a photographer these days thanks to digital cameras!

Try to line up your shots to show depth and scale.

This is one of my favorite structures.

During the wet season the grass will be green and courtyards attractive.

Another interesting structure.

This one didn’t work, but sometimes if you try to catch a part of the foreground when really showing the background you get a more interesting picture. This would have worked with a DSLR and a ultra wide angle lens!

You can make interesting compositions out of the most common and available objects. Put this is a nice frame and it would be suitable for a doctors office or elevator.. ;o)

I liked how the figures were spaced along the wall with the structures in the background.

The small lakes and water based structures make for interesting images.

There are lots and lots of elephant rides and attractions in Ayutthaya.

I hope you enjoyed our brief visit to Ayutthaya.

Canon 5d Mark II User Review

Rob over at www.1ds.com became the proud owner of Canon’s latest DSLR. In fact, he was one of the first photographers in the world to get his hands on one and his image samples hit the photography forums ahead of everyone else’s. Rob has been kind enough to write a brief hands on review giving his opinions which I value. I’m sure there are many of you considering the purchase of this groundbreaking DSLR and will find his report as interesting and useful as I have. Enjoy!

Well, as some of you know, I have the 5D Mark II and have been messing around with it a little. To the detriment of many other "Projects".


Size and Weight:

It feels similar to the old 5D but somehow seems a little more sturdy.


General Dynamics:

The screen on the back is huge and clear. The menus are simple and easy to get around (If one has a 1D3 or 1Ds3 or 40D etc, they are the same style) and there are some more buttons that I like. AF-On is one. I love this feature. The Auto ISO is handy. I have not figured out all the dial options yet as I mainly use Av with Tv for panning and Bulb now and then. (Steve may explain what these mean if you're not sure)

Auto ISO:

I used this but I found it a little limiting and the shutter speeds were too low. I have to get used to how it runs and what it means. I expected the shutter speed to be maintained at a higher level. More to learn I guess. It's a feature that worked, but I am not an expert yet.

ISO Performance:

I found it to be OK. Anything special? NO, just what I expected. Similar to 1Ds3 but with more range. Some have commented that if it's as good as the 1Ds3 then "wow" and I agree. I am used to the 1D and 1Ds3 level of image quality (IQ) so it's normal feeling for me.

HD Video:

Very interesting. This is the main reason I have this camera. If HD Video is going to push my buttons, then the 5D Mark II will be the catalyst. Once we get some footage of animals birds and locations, David Attenborough beware!! The quality of the video is extremely good. There are not many options and its manual focus (sort of) once you get going, but all that said, it means that if you're a Canon user with Canon lenses, you can use some awesome glass that's not available on other systems unless you're paying mega bucks. I can hardly wait to point it at some wildlife with a 500/4 and 1.4x teleconverter.

Link to video samples.

Kit lens:

24-105/4 IS L is not something I'd normally buy. We have one already (for the boss), so this one will be sold on. It's adequate. The one thing with these full frame cameras that's a must, it's a decent compliment of lenses. Prime lenses (non zoom) are the best, but this can be limiting, so compromise is called for. My favourites on full frame cameras are the 16-35/2.8, 24-70/2.8 and the 70-200/2.8 IS. All of these exhibit nice qualities. My 85/1.2 and 135/2 are just awesome for those special events like weddings. On a 5D Mark II, you want to be thinking quality glass!!


AF:

The jury is still out I guess, but I had no real issues. Many of my soft shots are lens or shutter speed related. When I had the combos right, it was spot on. I used AI Servo a lot. I've only had it a few days, so I'm giving it a pass mark. Time will tell.


All in all, I am happy with it.

Once the boss arrives and reviews it for herself, then the real answer will be known!!! SWMBO (She who must be obeyed) will have the last say!!

Cheers

Rob

Photography News of Interest

The Canon G series of compacts meant for the keen amateur has been popular for years. Last year like many professional photographers who wanted the best possible compact for personal use I picked up the G9 and I still use it regularly and love it! Recently Canon introduced the G10 with several improvements. You can read its test review here.

Still waiting for that rebate check for your Canon video or printer purchase? You wouldn’t be the only one. Better you wait then you get a check that will bounce! Read about how the rebate company contracted by Canon went bankrupt and sent out rubber checks to loyal Canon customers!

Several columns back I linked a story about how Lowell Photography stiffed it’s wedding clients leaving them without images of their most memorable times. As we follow the case we can see that six complaints have now been filed with Attorney General. Good for them! Read about it here.

Britney Spears is more ‘Self-conscious’ and ‘Reserved’! Who knew! Read about her interview from the Rolling Stones photo editor here.

Readers' Submissions

Hi Steve,

Sending u miscellaneous pictures from my trip to Chiang Mai back in December 2006. They were all taken with my Casio Exilim Z 750. The camera had come out about a year and a half back then and being a hopeless amateur photographer like me, I thought it was really cool, at least I was able to take some nice pictures with it.. maybe one every a hundred pictures or so. I'm sure it was me, not the camera!

Some pictures from a temple in the middle of Chiang Mai city. It's called "Tum U-Mong," meaning Tunnel Temple. They built a long tunnel from the temple during the time of an ancient war so that people seeking refuge in the temple could escape the enemies through it.


Little Chiang Mai creature. Boy, he barked.

Flowers for sale on the street of Doi Suthep. The sign on the bucket reads "Dok Pussy," literally pussy flowers.

My night shot attempt.

A close-up shot of my work at a coffee place by Mae Ping river. I think I used macro..

But didn't need macro for this one. 😛

Comments are welcome! :)

Jodi

Jodi –

Thank you! Loved the pictures. It looks like you have a lot of documenting your travels. We look forward to more!

Steve

Steve

PS. Cutie said she's happy for you to put her pics on your site, please go ahead! (with or without the beauty spots!)

David

David –

I color corrected the two shots of the cute girl.. I think the readers would have enjoyed looking at them.. ;o)

I also fixed a few blems and lightly smoothed the skin.. not the best starter files but I like the improvements.

Thank you for the pics and narrative! They’ll be in this week's column. Let me know if you have more in the future.

Let me know how you like that new Sony.. I’ve heard good things about it.

Steve


I suspect the readers' submissions will be a highly anticipated section of this column and I encourage anyone with photographs and travel accounts they d like to share to please send them to me at: [email protected]

Readers' Questions

Hello Steve once again,

I'm grateful that you have opened my mind to new possibilities . . .

I have straightened and cropped the attached picture just a little, maybe now wish I hadn't, though the original flavour is still there.

This was a snapshot, taken with the Olympus a few years back. Somewhere up near Mae Hong Son. Cycling on the main road and there it was . . .

To me it has all the right ingredients. Wonderful shades and colour. The setting is perfect, as I think is the 'matt finish', giving it an olde worlde look. Peaceful, traditionally Asian. The house BELONGS in that setting, as do the children, doing as kids do best, playing with/in/whatever they can lay their hands on.

Focal length : 16.5
F: 4.8
Exposure 1/60

Settings made automatically. ISO not given.

My question would be: what would you have done? There is no right answer, I know. But your advice will help a lot.

regards,

David

Hi David –

I’ve been out and about the last day or two and neglecting my email.

What would I have done.. This comes down to personal style. Most photographers never really develop a signature style, they go back and forth trying to duplicate other work they’ve seen which they admire and I’m guilty of that as well. Mostly though, I stick with vivid colors (that Velvia influence), more contrast for a 3d look, and sharp detail to draw the eye. I think in this particular picture I would have stepped up to the river bank to exclude the non-descript foreground, or maybe into the middle of the river for the right angle. .and tried to get more of the houses and kids.. and less of the foliage. I’m not sure if this would have made a better image, hard to tell until you do it. Another option would be to use a wide angle (12-14mm 35mm equiv) and get right on top of the kids in the river making them the interesting foreground while using the houses as the secondary background. If we’re lucky there might have been something interesting between the two.

I hope this helps.

I’d love to run Cutie’s pictures.. look for them above in the readers submissions area!

Steve

Please submit your questions to [email protected] All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.

A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review

A slow week as the PAD demonstrators closed the airport preventing a client from making his appointment with me. Oh well, it gave me extra time to go out and shoot some night scenes I’ll share with you later.


Infocus Blog

I get a lot of people asking me how I get people to pose for me, especially women.

It’s not as hard as it seems, though different people require different levels of patience and trust.

As an example of patience there is a cute girl I’ve known for over three years. Actually cute doesn’t cover it, she can be striking. I’ve wanted to photograph her from the first time I laid eyes on her. We run into each other three or more times a month and she knows I’m a photographer and I know she likes having her picture taken. The problem is she’s a practicing Muslim and for it to be proper and permissible a certain protocol must be followed.

Three years of patience have paid off! Well sort of. This week she’ll pose for me in traditional Muslim dress and I’m looking forward to the challenge of showing her beauty amidst the traditional dress. Hopefully this will be just a start to our photographic relationship. If she and he family like my work and find I’ve treated her fairly and with respect, then it’s possible I can get her to pose in the western clothes she normally wears and I promise you that will be a treat!

Wish me luck, hopefully next week she’ll be my feature photograph!