Friday, July 31, 2020

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Gallery: Canon EOS R5 at SFU

Gallery (35 images): Canon EOS R5 at SFU

I haven't posted in a while since I have been rather preoccupied of late. However, I recently had an opportunity to shot with a brand new, not yet released, Canon EOS R5 mirrorless camera and thought I would share some sample images. This flagship model has very impressive image quality and was very enjoyable to use, offering an excellent UI and a truly fantastic electronic viewfinder. The responsiveness was impressive and detail, dynamic range and low light capability was excellent as well, despite the high-resolution 45MP sensor.

The linked gallery has 35 images, many of which were intentionally of quite high dynamic range scenes, with significant underexposure allowing for good highlight detail, then a lot of shadow recovery in post. No special modes on the camera were used, no HDR, and Highlight Tone Priority was also switched off. They were converted to DNG files with Adobe's latest DNG converter beta and then processed in Lightroom Classic v9.3 since at this time, Lightroom cannot yet read the CR3 files from the new camera directly. The high-res links in the gallery will give you JPEGs that are 4000 pixels wide, large enough to see a decent amount of detail from this superb new camera. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

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Fujifilm X100V First Tests

Gallery (55 images): Fujifilm X100V First Tests

I finally had a chance to really shoot with the new Fujifilm X100V. During this COVID-19 crisis and the required social distancing, I was able to visit the UBC campus as well as Campbell Valley Park and keep well away from others. Beau Photo Supplies is now temporarily closed so I will endeavour to do some more gear postings, lens tests and such over the next few weeks.

My X100V review is on the Beau Photo blog here:

I should say that I am truly impressed with the X100V, which now features a weather-resistant design, a rear tilting LCD, the latest 26MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor, and a redesigned 23mm f/2 lens. Optically, the new lens is now more consistent across the frame as far as sharpness, and field-curvature seems minimal. Close focus macro shots at wide f-stops are also a lot sharper now.

As far as ergonomics, the camera is a joy to use with a wonderful tactile feel to all the controls and buttons, and it is also a beautiful camera to look at in my opinion. The fit and finish is flawless and the satin texture and precise machining of the camera's aluminum shell is gorgeous. It is a camera that begs to picked up and shot with, possibly the most appealing camera overall in that respect that I've ever owned.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

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Gallery: Hawaii 2019 - Kona Bali Kai Views

Gallery (30 images): Hawaii 2019 - Kona Bali Kai Views

On the drive back from Volcanoes National Park the previous day, I started to feel really crappy and overnight, I developed a full-on, absolutely horrible flu, which lasted the rest of the trip and then at least a week beyond after returning home. Thank goodness the coronavirus situation hadn't yet begun, since I'd then have been rather worried that I'd somehow contracted that! My dad had a flu shot, whereas I didn't, and he actually did not get sick at all thankfully. We only got out of the hotel for food today, and all I had the energy for was to head down to the beach in front of the hotel, and do some long exposures of the shoreline with 10-16 stops worth of ND filters, photograph the surfers, and then later in the evening, take photos at sunset from the rooms lanai.

Link to: All the blog posts from my 2019 Hawaii Trip

Monday, February 3, 2020

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Gallery: Hawaii 2019 - Volcanoes National Park

On this day, we drove quite a long way, all the way south and then east, nearly 2/3 of the way to Hilo, to the Kilauea Visitor Centre in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. From there we drove south along the Chain of Craters Road, which winds through many diverse lava fields, all the way to the south coast. There, the Holei Sea Arch stands watch and we also saw some very rare Nene geese, only found on the Hawaiian archipelago.

The Nene is apparently the rarest goose in the world and back in 1952, hunting and human introduced predators on the islands decimated the population down to only about 30 birds. Through strict conservation efforts, that number has increased to 2500 or so today, spread throughout several of the Hawaiian islands. Still 2500 is not very many, and each goose is tagged and identified. The roads that pass through areas where the geese frequent having warning signs and a reduction in speed limits. Temporary signs are also put up, warning motorists if geese are known to be in areas where they generally aren't seen. The geese are apparently related to Canada geese, but have a very unique, twisted pattern on their neck feathers. Seeing two of them close enough to photograph was a treat!

As you can probably tell from the gallery, I am fascinated by the diversity of formations that cooled lava leaves behind, especially the more fluid Pahoehoe lava which creates ropy, almost woven ripples, large pillow formations, and lots of interesting striations and grooves. Seeing lonely plants struggle to gain a foothold on the large lava fields really demonstrates the tenacity of life.

Here is one large panorama I shot, probably spanning a 150º field of view, where many overlapping lava flows of different ages have built up a large hillside. There is quite a variety of colours and types of lava visible in one shot! Click the image to open a much larger version in a new window...

Link to: All the blog posts from my 2019 Hawaii Trip

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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Gallery: Hawaii 2019 - North Coast

Gallery (10 images): Hawaii 2019 - North Coast

The above image doesn't really match the title of today's posting, but then I was fascinated by this view of the observatories on Mauna Kea for several reasons. More on that in a moment...

On this day, the weather was not very good with overcast skies and drizzle for part of the day. We first drove up to the north coast of the Big Island, to take in the views past Hawi, where the road ends and there is a trail going down to Pololu Beach. Since the weather wasn't great and I didn't want to leave my dad in the car for an extended period, I didn't hike down the steep trail at all. I only took a few shots from the road. After, we drove back to Kailua-Kona via the inland road, which leads through Waimea and then heads south along the western flank of Mauna Kea, past the Saddle Road.

Just south of Waimea, I was struck by the surprisingly clear view of the Mauna Kea observatories, and the fact that they didn't seem all that much higher than where I took the photo from, even though I knew them to be about 13,600 feet up, give or take! According to my GPS, and confirmed afterwards, the altitude at which I took this photo at was only about 2,600 feet, so that means those observatories were 11,000 feet higher than where I stood for the photos! That blew my mind since at the most, it visually seemed like they were only maybe a 3,000 or 4,000 feet higher than where I stood. The telephoto lens I used certainly magnified that impression too.

The peak of the small volcanic cinder cone (probably more of a splatter cone) that you see in the foreground, called Holoholoku, is at 3,265 feet, or only 665 feet higher than where I stood. However, that peak is a mere 4.8 km away whereas the observatories were 29 km distant. So perspective and telephoto compression really serve to give quite an illusion here, at least to my eyes! Maybe you'll see it differently?

For fun, I tried to figure out which observatories one is seeing and after studying a map of the Mauna Kea observatories and judging by the angle I was shooting from, I came up with the following: from left to right we have...

Canada-France-Hawaii Observatory
Gemini Observatory
University of Hawaii 2.2 Meter Telescope (the one with the dome protrusion)
The twin Keck Observatory domes
Subaru Telescope

Since even back in 2008, my dad did not feel well at the high altitude of Mauna Kea's summit and we had to cut our visit there short, this year we decided not to drive up at all. One day, I want to return there and photograph all the observatories up close...

Link to: All the blog posts from my 2019 Hawaii Trip

Sunday, January 19, 2020

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Gallery: Hawaii 2019 - South of Kona

Gallery (80 images): Hawaii 2019 - South of Kona

On this day, I spent a lot of time photographing palm trees at the challenging to pronounce (a tongue-twister really) Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park. I love palms, the spiky arcs of their fronds, their often curved and crooked trunks, and especially the shadows they cast on the ground. The last time I was at this park back in 2008, I didn't take very many photos since the one time we were there, it was mostly overcast, and I regretted at the time not being there when the weather was better. This time I made up for it, as you'll see in the gallery! Generally speaking, the weather on this Hawaii trip was fantastic, which made for many great photo opportunities.

On the last trip in 2008, I also missed out and didn't visit the St. Benedict's Catholic Church, better known as the famous "Painted Church" since my dad and my aunt went there on the day I got sick and we never went back after. This time my dad and I went there and he patiently waited while I took tons of shots inside and out. I also walked back along the road to photograph a palm tree that seemingly was confused about which way it was supposed to grow! Another shot in the gallery right after, shows a frequent occurrence on the Hawaiian Islands, where the lush tropical greenery starts climbing up and along power poles and power lines.

Later that evening after dinner, we drove down to Milolii again after dark, to visit my mom's memorial one more time and to see the solar powered LED roses lit up at night. I took a bunch of photos but my favourites were at the end, when I started using a flashlight to selectively light-paint, in order to highlight the coral stones of the memorial and the bushes in behind. I had many different versions, with a few different ones in the gallery, and my overall favourite one is shown below. The real red roses we put in the vase, the ones on the left, were already looking rather wilted after being out in the hot sun for a day. A larger version of the below shot can be seen in the gallery of course...

Saturday, January 4, 2020

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Gallery: Hawaii 2019 - Milolii and South

Gallery (30 images): Hawaii 2019 - Milolii and South

On this day, my father and I visited my mother Ingrid's memorial, just outside the village of Milolii. The white coral, which my aunt, my father and I placed back in 2008 after we had scattered my mom's ashes in the ocean near there, has turned a dingy shade of gray over the last 10 years. I decided to flip all the coral pieces over to expose their somewhat whiter undersides, which has been done in the above shot. I helped my father up the lava and gave him my camp chair to sit in while I hammered in the stakes that hold up the two solar-powered LED rose bouquets. The red roses on the left are real. Originally, the memorial looked different, with my mom's full name spelled out, but then it was vandalized at some point. A few years back, when my father and Franziska were in Hawaii, they fixed it up and simplified it to just my mom's initials.

To see some images of the original memorial, see my blog posting from 2008 here (opens in a new window)...

After fixing up the memorial, my dad and I headed to the south coast of the Big Island, where (very important!) we visited the famous Punalu'u Bake Shop that serves up some amazing pastries and donuts. We had lunch there, each having a coffee and three donuts... which we both decided was at least one donut too many. They were big! Not a particularly healthy lunch that day, but it was good...

We also stopped at the parking area where one can hike to the Green Sand Beach near South Point, and I took numerous photos of the coastline there. Below are two panoramas I shot from there. When you click them, they will open larger in a new window.

When you open this next one, and also in photo 23 of the linked gallery, you can really see the many layers that make up the island's landmass, seemingly made of alternating Pahoehoe and A'a lava flows. In some areas, it makes the coastline almost look like someone has cut into a gigantic cake...

Sunday, December 29, 2019

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Gallery: Hawaii 2019 - Old Kona Airport State Park

In early December, my father and I left on a ten day trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. We wanted to visit my mom's memorial near the village of Milolii on the Kona Coast, the west side of Hawaii, where her ashes were scattered in the ocean back in 2008 following her long struggle with cancer.

On this first mostly overcast and occasionally rainy day on the Big Island, we decided to visit the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area, which is the official name as near as I can tell. When you search the Internet, there seem to be numerous other designations: Kailua-Kona State Park, Old Kona Airport Botanical Gardens, Old Kona Airport State Park (this one gets my vote!), Old Kona Airport Beach State Park and more.

In any case, this is the site of Kona's old airport, before the new Kona International Airport opened way back in 1970. The old airport's runway is now a long parking lot for beach goers and for joggers and walkers who wend their way through the lush gardens there. This isn't a private botanical garden, however it seems like there are many locals that have adopted a plot of garden to maintain and enjoy, so there was quite a variety of plants, including many cacti. There first shot even shows someone's preparation for Christmas!

Some might be surprised to see cacti on Hawaii, but there are 8 distinct climate zones on the Big Island, including fairly large semi-arid and arid desert areas on the northern west-coast, in Mauna Kea's and Mauna Loa's rain shadow.

My somewhat regular recent blogging was interrupted, firstly due to the trip, and secondly since I unfortunately came down with one of the worst flus I ever had, about four days into our Hawaii trip. I felt terrible for weeks and I've only recently recovered enough that I feel like myself again!

Link to: All the blog posts from my 2019 Hawaii Trip

Saturday, November 16, 2019

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Gallery: 2019 Grand Canyon Trip - Burr Trail

Although this gallery is called "Burr Trail", almost half the photos were taken further west, on the drive there from Bryce Canyon, many near Escalante, Utah. We did detour to visit Kodachrome Basin State Park, which has many spindly rock formations, with some being rather, ahem, phallic in nature. The park's name has an interesting history too. The Burr Trail is a wonderful back-road that gets you into Capitol Reef National Park, much further south that the main park road that most people drive through. A number of years back, this road was completely gravel and that added to the desolate feeling of the amazing scenery but alas, it is now paved right through the spectacular Long Canyon, the entrance to which you can see in photo 30 of the above linked gallery.

The canyon rocks are a rich red-orange colour, and there are many lush green trees, so the combination of red rocks, green trees and a deep blue sky, like it was on that day, is an incredible sight to behold. The colour contrasts really make for spectacular scenery! Near the eastern end of Long Canyon, where it opens up, the varied colours of the sandstone are even more amazing, and the eroded mounds you can see in the above photo are a landscape photographer's dream. I will admit to enhancing the colours on the above photo to make it seem a little more "Velvia-like" but the version that's in the gallery (photo 43), as well as the other shots in the gallery, are more realistic.

Still, incredibly vivid colours in the area when you see them in person, especially when the clarity is as good as it was that day. We had so much luck on the trip, often with the atmosphere scrubbed clean of dust and haze by recently passed storms, deep blue skies and fluffy white clouds, as well as some interesting stormy skies as well. This was another place my father had never seen and the weather couldn't have been better for it!

Link to: All the blog posts from my 2019 Grand Canyon Trip

Here are some more panoramas I shot that day and again, clicking a thumbnail will open the shot larger in a new window or tab. The first one was taken from a viewpoint east of Escalante...

The next one was from atop some rocks beside the parking lot at a viewpoint overlooking the Escalante River...

Lastly, here is a panoramic photo of the view at the exit of Long Canyon...

Monday, November 11, 2019

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Gallery: 2019 Grand Canyon Trip - Bryce Canyon

After the main event, the Grand Canyon visit, we started working our way north again. The next major stop was Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah. On the way, we drove past the spectacular Vermilion Cliffs in northern Arizona. Much of drive out of the Grand Canyon area was bad weather, with very poor visibility and blizzard-like conditions. However luckily things improved and I did get a decent view and took one panorama of the Vermilion Cliffs. Too bad the sun wasn't out more for a bit of extra contrast, but it was still worth a shot. Click on the following to open a larger version in a new window or tab...

At Bryce Canyon the next morning, we were dismayed to find the weather cold, overcast and foggy, with fresh slushy snow on the ground! Since our strict schedule only allowed for one day at Bryce, I feared that we might not get any decent views at all. I took the opportunity during the day to do a load of laundry, while my dad relaxed back at the hotel. However when I was done, the skies had started to open up and I rushed back to the hotel to fetch my dad. We drove out to Sunset Point and the views were spectacular! Once again the the clarity was superb and the evening light was amazing - what luck! However it didn't last for long...

All the evening images in the gallery were shot during a brief 21 minute window when the sun was out. I was frantically shooting and changing lenses to try and capture as much as I could. Also, rather that depend too much on wide-angle lenses, I decided to shoot more details this time around, using my XF 50mm f/2 and XF 90mm f/2 for many shots, two exceptionally sharp lenses. In fact, the one shot in the gallery from my 16mm lens was actually slightly mis-focused darn-it! I felt so pressed for time that I didn't review any images when I was there and didn't notice it unfortunately.

Link to: All the blog posts from my 2019 Grand Canyon Trip

Despite the brief period of good light, I did manage to squeeze in a few panoramas as well. This first one ended up being over 21,000 pixels in width for the original file, enough to easily make a 10 foot wide print. The second one, which I shot from a slightly different spot with a wider lens, showing more foreground canyon and sky, makes up for the ruined 16mm shot I'd say...