Third Draft: Stephens Lake Park – A Green Oasis on Broadway

While I was “officially” finished with my contribution to the class’ Broadway project on Wednesday when I turned into my professor, David Rees, a disc with my “second draft” of the video, I was still not quite satisfied with it. The timing of a few things was still off.

On Thursday, I posted another version of the video, and received some more feedback from it both in person and through a comment on the post, and took those into consideration. I was also unhappy with the color of certain clips in the video, and adjusted those within Adobe Premiere. Finally, I went back to Stephens Lake Park for one more “walk around,” which was also my last opportunity to experiment with the Canon 35mm f/1.4L lens. The result is a little tighter, with better matching between audio and visual components.

I consider this a finished piece, but am still more than happy to hear comments and suggestions.

Putting together a multimedia slideshow

Monday evening, while working on my editing shift at the Columbia Missourian, I found myself helping Erin Schwartz, a fellow graduate student in the photojournalism program at the University of Missouri, who was putting together a multimedia picture story about Darwin Hindman’s last day in office as mayor of Columbia, which is now online.

I am continuing to evaluate the Canon 35mm f/1.4L lens, provided to me by Canon Professional Services, and I am frequently reminded of just how versatile this focal length can be, especially given the minimum focusing distance of one foot.

More tests of the 35mm f/1.4L & The Virtue of Safety Shift

Shadows on the sidewalk
Shadows on the sidewalk, Columbia, Mo. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 35mm f/1.4L lens; exposed 1/8000 sec. @ f/1.6, ISO 100. Aperture Priority set at 0 EV.

The Problem

One of the issues that I have noticed before when using large-aperture lenses in broad daylight is that the perfect exposure can be difficult to achieve wide open.  While many of the people in the photo sequence at the Missouri School of Journalism set exposure manually, I have preferred working with aperture priority–coupled with evaluative (matrix) metering–for many years now.  It does require that you develop an idea of what the exposure for the scene should be relative to a “neutral” setting.  Generally, for outdoor photography, a neutral exposure on a sunny day (plus or minus one third of a stop) will yield an optimal histogram. Because I work in Aperture Priority, I am concerned more with the set aperture (preferably f/1.4 with this lens) and ISO.  This works well, unless the lighting conditions make the desired exposure compensation impossible with the selected aperture and ISO.

The Answer: Safety Shift

Today, I was keeping the ISO set to 100 because it was a bright, sunny day, and my shutter speeds were well above 1/1000 second.  Because of this, the importance of safety shift comes into play.  When this custom function is activated (C.Fn. I-6 on the 5D Mk. II) when the desired aperture and ISO would not yield the exposure compensation selected (in this case, neutral), the aperture is changed automatically to ensure that the exposure comp. set is the exposure that is yielded.  In the instance of the above photograph, the camera automatically switched the aperture to f/1.6 (a slight stopping down) because the shutter speed could not be any faster at the camera’s max. shutter speed of 1/8000 sec.

Note that while I am referring specifically to a Canon custom function, Nikon bodies have a similar feature.  Furthermore, the more professional bodies, such as the Nikon D3 and Canon 1D Mark III and Mark IV, are capable of safety shift by changing the ISO or the aperture.  In today’s case, that would have meant ISO 50, which is less than ideal as ISO 50 results in poor signal/noise response.  However, in some instances, it is better if the ISO is bumped or lowered instead of the aperture.

A few more images from the 35mm f/1.4L:

First Impressions: Canon 35mm f/1.4L

Parking garage reflection
Parking garage reflection, Hitt Street Parking Garage, Columbia, Mo. | Canon 5D Mk. II and 35mm f/1.4L lens; exposed 1/1000 sec. @ f/1.4, ISO 100.

On Wednesday, Canon Professional Services sent me a 35mm f/1.4L lens for evaluation.  I’ve become increasingly interested in three lenses: the 135mm f/2L, the 85mm f/1.2L, and the 35mm f/1.4L.  I had the opportunity to experiment with the 85mm last fall, and plan to try out the 135mm soon.  So far, I have been enormously impressed by the smooth bokeh.  One does not look at a lens such as this and stop it down to f/8 for landscape work–my 24-70mm f/2.8 does just fine for that purpose.  No, a lens like this is meant to be used wide open–or close to it–to isolate subject from background.  I’ll post more images in the coming days from this rather promising piece of glass.

Lilly reacts at the Jay Dickman talk
Lilly reacts at the Jay Dickman talk | Canon 5D Mk. II and 35mm f/1.4L lens; exposed 1/250 sec. @ f/1.6, ISO 800.