Image destabilization

It seems I’ve run into a problem with the 100–400mm lens that I purchased this past June.  The image in the viewfinder began jumping around when I pressed the shutter button half-way—often this would continue even after shutter release.  I contacted Canon’s customer service. Based on my description of the problem they suspected the image stabilization had failed.  I sent the lens to their service center and they accepted the lens under warranty. I hope to have it back in about another week.  I’ll let you know how the process went, as well as how the lens works when I get it back into the field.

It’s taken some time

I haven’t quite understood why Lightroom will let you use FTP to send images directly to other sites, but not their own Photoshop on-line gallery. At long last, Photoshop.com recently announced that it has a plug-in available that will do just that–all in one step. Now, instead of having to export from Lightroom, then go Photoshop.com to perform the upload, then relabel the photos as I did in Lightroom, these can all be done automatically with the Lightroom Publish Plug-in.

I had the same problem getting my images from Lightroom to this blog at WordPress.com. Voila! Now there’s LR/Blog (http://www.photographers-toolbox.com/products/lrblog.php). Now I can just export from my images from the Lightroom Library to WordPress.com. In fact, I have the option to include a post at the same time. These two Plug-ins increase my production workflow significantly.

At this point I’ve established my two photography web sites–at WordPress and Photoshop (and more or less understand them)–and I now have the basic equipment I need for my photography.

I’ll begin posting to my blog on a weekly basis on Fridays by 5PM. Most of the topics from this point forward will focus on my field trips, and background about my subjects.

Gray Catbird: North American Population 10m, 15-49% increase over the past 30 years. (Exposure: 1/60 @ f/4.5, ISO 100, Canon PowerShot G10)

With some practice and luck you don’t necessarily need an expensive camera with a super-telephoto lens. This shot was taken in a National Audubon sanctuary in Florida, then cropped. Note the slow shutter speed and sharpness. I was ready–though the bird did not sit for long, it was motionless.  (More photos at: http://sfielding.photoshop.com)

Canon’s 100mm – 400mm lens

I’ve been using Canon’s f/4.5-5.6 L USM IS lens since June and I must say I’m very happy with it. It certainly takes time to learn since I have no super-telephoto experience. It’s heavy; with the camera it weights about 5 pounds. Nevertheless, even with my slender build, a 3 or 4 hour foray into the field doesn’t seem to pose neck strain, though tripod breaks definitely help.

Although the USM autofocus is very quick, it’s not so effective when photographing birds where there are often leaves or branches in front of or behind the subject, often resulting in an out-of-focus bird. Manual focus seems to be the better alternative under these conditions. When extended to greater magnification, the image stabilization feature helps but you really need to brace the camera against something solid if you’re shooting at less than 1/800 of a second, otherwise the image will not be sharp. As always, it’s important to know your subject so you can be in position with the necessary camera settings to get the best shots. (More photos at: http://sfielding.photoshop.com)

My next challenge will be to capture landscapes with a compressed effect that cannot be done with a shorter lens.

Wrapping up my Lightroom 3 class

I now have just one more class to complete in terms of learning everything there is to know about using Lightroom (well, at least enough to establish a consistent workflow). Much of what I’ve learned is based on Nat Coalson’s, “Streaming your digital photography process.”  This process starts by switching your raw or dng files to black & white to make your histogram and tonal adjustments before returning to color.  Thereafter, you make color adjustments before proceeding to any touch-ups.  These completed, final adjustments to sharpening and preparation for printing conclude the development process. Obviously, I’ve compressed a lot into a couple of sentences.

Before I started this course I felt as though I was awash in a sea of software alternatives.  Now I have a workflow (which I can adjust, as necessary) and I have a technical understanding of all the Lightroom tools at my disposal.  I heartily recommend anyone venturing into digital photo software to take a class, or at least get a text-book that provides clear explanations for novices. Do avoid overly technical texts–there’s not much value added, in my opinion.

Next up, I ordered the Canon f4.5-5.5 100-400mm L USM IS super telephoto lens.  I’ll let you know how this learning process goes in upcoming posts.