Thursday, February 26, 2009

Off Camera ETTL flash

I left the world of direct, on-camera flash some years ago, and its a needed step to take for creative and interesting lighting of subjects. In the past, I've used Canon's ST-E2 Infrared Transmitter (Or a Canon 580 serves the same function when set as master), which would trigger off camera flashes through a infrared signal. While this has proved wonderful in many cases, it is also frustrating, and I've long desired a wireless trigger instead of Infrared. Infrared requires line of site and an open view between the flash receiver port and the on camera transmitter. Misfiring is common and frustrating when this pathways is broken, which is easily done when working with wide angle lenses close to your subject, flipping the camera to vertical, or quickly altering the orientation of your off camera flash. Soon to come however is the Pocket Wizards new transmitter and receiver (MiniTT1 transmitter and FlexTT5 transceiver) which allows for wireless firing of ETTL flashes! You can read about it on Due to ship in March, I'll be happy to have more reliability, flexibilty, and quicker working times using this system.

Below is a sample of images taken recently at the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks. I used a Canon 580 flash behind a soft box, triggered via infrared signal from the Canon 1Ds Mark III. The side-lighting offers a pleasant attention drawing focus and quality of light on the face of the sculptor while keeping the overall exposure low enough to still provide detail in the ice.

No flash on subject

Infrared-triggered off camera flash as sidelighting source

Note location of soft box on the right

Friday, February 20, 2009

Canon 5D Mark II videos

Here are some links to a few experimental videos taken in the tropics. They are not professional in any manner, but reveal the potential for and fun with working with this camera. A tripod is essential, or at the minimum an IS lens with very good stability. While the audio is not suitable for production quality, it is still remarkable. The videos have been resized to 900px wide. All were taken with the Canon 5D Mark II, 16-35mm 2.8L II, and for the underwater frames I used the Ewa Marine Housing U-BXP 100.

Leaf-cutter Ants
Playing in the Ocean
Underwater fish 1
Underwater fish 2

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mexico and Belize: A tropical reprieve

I know this is a blog about Alaska Photography, but I returned from a trip to Belize and Mexico and thought it worthy of display. I scaled back on camera gear since it was not really a work trip, but I did experiment with the Canon 5d Mark II with an underwater housing. Specifically, the underwater video was fun, although a little cumbersome to use with the Ewa-Marine Plastic housing. There is a lot of drag on the large plastic housing when swimming, which creates additional movement, particularly when the camera is held at arms length. An IS lens would be great for this situation, but I was using the 16-35 @ 16mm, which is a great lens, but not IS. Some neutral buoyancy weights would have been helpful, and viewing the back of the camera through the housing is difficult. But, I was playing around more than attempting anything serious, plus I had a 10 year old to keep tabs on in the water as well. Here are a few pics from the exotic landscape. I'll work on getting a video posted.

Fica trees in the Jaguar Preserve, Belize

Laughing Bird Caye National Park, Belize

Laughing Bird Caye National Park, Belize

Laughing Bird Caye National Park, Belize

Tulum, Mexico

Caracol Mayan ruins, Cayo, Belize

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Macro Photography

close up of snow flakes in Delta Junction, Alaska

Macro photography offers a view of the natural world not always seen. Fine details and intricate patters emerge, solid colors reveal they are made up of several colors mixed together, and distractions of the "big picture" vanish.

Close up of flower blossom, 100mm canon macro

There are many equipment options available for macro photography. Probably the most standard is the 100mm macro lens, such as this Canon EF 100mm F/2.8 Macro USM lens. It is stunningly sharp, and provides sufficient focal length to give a usable working distance between the lens and the subject.

Sometimes, macro photography can be used to provide a unique perspective while still showing the broad environment. Wide angle lenses with the ability to close-focus can be used for this effect.

Narcissus-flowered anemone and Lapland rosebay, Denali National Park, Alaska. Canon 17-35 F/2.8L lens.