Wednesday, September 23, 2020

It is that time of year again - time for senior portraits!

This is a crazy time for all of us, but for all the kids who are currently seniors in high school, this is an even crazier time. They are starting their final year of high school studying remotely and wondering if, like the previous graduating class, they will have a graduation and prom. There is so much uncertainty that it is hard for them and their parents. 

The good news is that we can still give them that sense of accomplishment and a little bit of normalcy by capturing their senior portraits for them and their families. Last Saturday I met up with one of my previous clients to photograph their son, Sam, to celebrate his senior year. 

The week prior to portrait session, we decided on a date, time and location. We decided that the Stanford campus would be a great place to take his portraits since it offers a great variety of settings and lighting. We also talked about Sam and what he wanted in the photos. He is really into skateboarding and wanted a really informal photo shoot, including some photos of him and his board.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 100mm, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/125th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

We met at Stanford in the late afternoon, and since the sun was still bright outside, we started by taking some "warm up shots" under the arched walkways.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 160mm, ISO 250, f/2.8, 1/200th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

The great thing about this location is that by moving 10 feet in either direction, there is a completely different look to the portraits. I saw this railing and asked Sam to lean on it and relax. He took care of the rest with that killer smile. I was shooting these photos with the new Canon R6 (mounted with the Canon 70-200mm lens) and letting the camera handle the focusing on the eyes, which was spot-on every time!

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 120mm, ISO 160, f/2.8, 1/125th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

Once Sam got used to being in front of the camera (and seeing what I was capturing of him), I asked him to grab his skateboard but some poses. Having the skateboard in the shot really helped with the posing. It gives him a great object to lean on and also gives him a place for his hands.  

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 200mm, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/250th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

We walked around the campus looking for good locations and lighting. I saw this bench in a shaded area and asked him to go "hang out" there for a couple of photos.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 200mm, ISO 100, f/5, 1/250th sec, Flash at +1 ETTL)

I saw these columns with their shadows being cast on the ground and I thought it would be a fun place for a portrait. Sam sat down with his skateboard, so I sat down as well (to be at the same eye level as him). I had to use my Canon 600EX-RT flash to add light to Sam, since without it, he would have been silhouetted by the bright light behind him. 

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 16-35mm lens at 28mm, ISO 160, f/13, 1/200th sec, Flash at +1 ETTL)

I saw this archway of greenery and thought that it would make a nice natural frame with Sam and the Hoover Tower in the background. This time I used the Canon 5D Mark IV, since I already had a wide angle lens mounted on that camera. For this photo, I was in manual mode and metered the Canon 5D Mark IV for the background. Then once I had the proper exposure for the background I used the Canon 600EX-RT flash to light Sam. 

(Canon R6 70-200mm lens at 145mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/200th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

Sam's mom was nice enough to bring different outfits for Sam so that we would have a variety of looks for him. I went back to the Canon R6 and Canon 70-200mm lens for these portraits.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 145mm, ISO 320, f/2.8, 1/160th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

When I am taking senior portraits like this, I am constantly looking for different "looks" so that the family has a lot of variety to choose from. I saw this brownstone wall and liked the fact that it was a solid and muted background. Sam changed into his blue sweatshirt which really popped against the muted walls.

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 90mm, ISO 320, f/2.8, 1/350th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)

He also changed into a green sweatshirt, so we did some more portraits of him wearing this outfit by the columns. 

(Canon R6, 70-200mm lens at 150mm, ISO 200, f/2.8, 1/160th sec, Flash at -1 ETTL)


I love the repeating lines of these columns, with Sam slightly off center. The repeating lines of the columns helps to draw your eye right to Sam.

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 16-35mm lens at 16mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/100th sec, Flash at +1 ETTL)


As we were finishing up, I saw that the light was perfect on the face of the church in the main quad of the campus. I thought that this would make for a really cool wide shot of Sam. I switched back to the Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 16-35mm wide angle lens, got down low to the ground and asked Sam to come and stand right in front of me. I used the wide angle distortion to make Sam look bigger and more prominent in the frame.

Thinking that this was our final shot, I packed up my gear and we starting walking back to our cars...

(Canon 5D Mark IV, 16-35mm lens at 16mm, ISO 1000, f/7.1, 1/1600th sec, Flash ETTL w/High Speed Sync)



...but then I saw Sam get on his skateboard and jump over these stairs. I realized that we HAD to have that shot. I used the same wide angle setup (with flash) and prefocused about 6 feet out from where I was sitting. I showed Sam where I wanted him to jump and BAM, we got this final shot.

We had a ton of fun and they have a whole bunch of photos for Sam's yearbook, framed photos at the house and maybe even a photo book.  



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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
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Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Two BIG announcements for next week!

Next week I have two really BIG events to share with you all. 


On Tuesday, the 22nd at 5pm (Pacific time) I will be presenting a class on wildlife photography for Creative Photo Academy (virtually of course). I will be speaking about camera settings, composition and other tricks to help you capture incredible images for yourself. I will be sharing images from Africa, Costa Rica, India and here at home, to help you learn how I captured them.

You can sign up for the class here: https://creativephotoacademy.com/events/jeff-cable-wildlife/

And then on Thursday, the 24th at 1pm...

...I will be hosting another Zoom Get Together. This one has a VERY special guest, none other than STEVE WOZNIAK! It's true, The Woz is going to be on live with us. Not only did he create Apple Computer, he is also a good friend and had a huge influence on my photography career. Yes, it was Woz who gave me my first digital cameras and inspired me to capture images in my life. We will share that story and talk about technology, digital cameras and answer your questions.

If you have not signed up to be on the Zoom calls, you can do so here: https://bit.ly/3c86Jmc

Once you have signed up, I will add you to the list and email you the Zoom invitation.


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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

__________________________________________________________________________  

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Canon R5 and R6 - Overall opinion after a month of use

It was just over a month ago when I got the new Canon R5 and Canon R6 cameras in my hands for the first time. And if you have read the previous blog posts, you know that I put both cameras to good use over those 5 weeks. I have tested many of the new features, including face and eye detection, the different shutter modes, high ISOs, file formats, and more. So far I have had really great results in those tests, but then comes the burning question: After testing these new cameras and using them for real jobs, what was my overall opinion of these new mirrorless offerings?

My first real "ah ha" moment was when I went to photograph our friend's son as he tried out his new rifle at a local range. Ethan wanted photos of him shooting, but also asked if I could get a shot with the clip expelling from the rifle after the last round was fired.  I brought both of the new cameras, and I also brought my trusty Canon 1D X Mark III, thinking that this top-of-the-line sports camera would be my choice for this type of photography. 


I started with the Canon 1D X Mark III but immediately noticed that, since Ethan was in less than ideal lighting, he was going to be silhouetted due the background being much brighter than he was. I started to guess at how much exposure compensation I should dial in, but then decided to try the Canon R5 instead.


Knowing that the new mirrorless camera would show me the exposure right through the viewfinder, there was no guessing involved. Looking at the image that was presented to me "live" in the electronic viewfinder, I kept rolling the exposure compensation until Ethan was properly exposed (+1.3) and we both fired away.


Even when zooming in and isolating details, I could see through the viewfinder that I was exposed correctly.


Not only was the camera performing well for metering the scene, but the fast capture rate allowed me to get the shots that Ethan wanted, with the clip and shell being expelled from the rifle.


When moving to the other side of Ethan (with a slightly darker background), I could see in the viewfinder that he was a bit over exposed at +1.3 so I adjusted the exposure compensation down a bit. 


The following week I was hired to shoot portraits of this gentleman and his dog in San Francisco. This was the first time that I relied solely on the eye tracking of the new cameras and was amazed at the "take rate" of my images. When using my DSLR cameras (which do not have the face and eye detection of the new mirrorless cameras), I would typically have at least 10 percent of the images where the eyes were not perfectly sharp. When reviewing the images from the Canon R5 and Canon R6, the focus was almost perfect on every photo. 


What I realized during this photo shoot was that I could trust the camera to determine the focus on my subject's eyes, therefore letting me concentrate on other things like foreground, background, lighting and posing. Having one less thing to worry about is nothing short of awesome.


After photographing the portraits, I decided to play tourist and drive around the city with the new cameras.  


I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of shooting mirrorless, seeing exactly what I was capturing as I was shooting.


I drove over to the Palace of Fine Arts and had some fun with the different focus modes of the new cameras. 


For these photos, I switched the Canon R6 from face detection mode to a single point of focus and loved the fact that I could move the focus point from edge to edge. For this particular photo, I put the focus point on the pink flowers about 2 feet from where I was standing, and let everything else fall out of focus.


One other feature of the camera that I didn't think I would use much was the reciprocating screen. In the past, I have never felt that I needed the moveable LCD display, but I found it really useful for taking this photo of the Golden Gate Bridge. I was sitting on the ground and bending my neck at an awkward angle to look into the display to see if I could get the focus point directly on the chain, until I realized that I could move the display and view my composition from a much more comfortable angle. 


I know that cameras have had these reciprocating screens for many years, but oddly enough, the professional models from Canon have not offered them. 


This shot may look like a simple photo, but actually shows off the power of the Canon R cameras. This photo takes full advantage of two features of the cameras, using the reciprocating screen and the eye detection. I was not standing on a ladder to take this photo. I just held the Canon R6 up above my head, tilted the screen so that I could get the correct composition, and then relied on the eye detection to make sure that the focus point was on the young lady's eyes. The resulting photo was exactly what I was aiming for, and could not have been achieved with my Canon 5D MKIV or Canon 1D X MKIII.


A couple weeks ago, I photographed a Zoom wedding for a lovely couple in Mill Valley, CA. They got married on the front porch of the family's home. I photographed the wedding ceremony using the Canon R6 with my trusty Canon 70-200mm L Series lens (using the RF adaptor). 


When the couple had completed their vows and finished the formal ceremony, they walked over to the laptop and were greeting their friends and family. I decided to switch from the Canon R6 to the Canon R5 with the Canon 50mm 1.2 RF lens. I shot this photo at f/1.4 to separate the couple from the others in the background. 

And then someone on the Zoom call suggested that the new bride and groom should do a first dance. 


In the past, I would have switched lenses to my Canon 24-70mm and rolled the aperture to something in the range of f/4. But I had gained enough trust in the Canon R face and eye detection that I left the aperture at f/1.4 and photographed their first dance. 

Just to clarify...when you have a couple who are moving back and forth, shooting at f/1.4 is very risky. When I have tried this in the past, using older focus systems, I would end up with only a small fraction in sharp focus.


As predicted, using the face detection of the Canon R5 and the narrow aperture, this yielded great shots of the couple, while blurring the foreground and background perfectly.  This is a really big deal for me, since it allows me to shoot moments like this at wide apertures, with confidence that the images will be sharp!

Each of these scenarios, combined with the testing I have done along the way, has culminated into my final overall opinion of the Canon R5 and Canon R6

These cameras are game changers! 

So much so that I find it really hard to go back to my 5D or 1D X. That says a lot!  What excites me most about the new mirrorless cameras is not just one or two improvements, it is the combination of all these new features and benefits packed into new smaller bodies. I can honestly say that this is the first time in years that Canon has truly innovated and raised the bar. The Canon R5 and Canon R6 are not just improvements on their previous cameras, they are a giant step forward. 

The tough part is determining which camera to recommend to all of you who are writing to me asking this question. Since both cameras have more things in common than not, I think it mostly will come down to resolution. If you are looking for a camera with a lot of megapixels, I would recommend the Canon R5 and if 20 megapixels is fine for you, then maybe the Canon R6 is the camera to get. 

Now, the tough part is finding one to purchase as Canon appears to be sold out almost everywhere. Of course, I always recommend B&H Photo, since they are the biggest and best. 

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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Canon R5 and R6 - File format comparison (RAW, CRAW, JPEG, HEIF)

In my last blog post, I shot images with both the Canon R5 and Canon R6 to compare the ISO performance of both cameras. As always, this lead to a lot of comments, emails, and DMs asking me if I could also compare the different file formats of these cameras. While I still have both these cameras on loan from Canon, I decided that now would be a good time to tests these parameters for all of you (and me too).

As many of you know, I have always preferred to shoot in RAW mode only. You can see my latest video explaining why this is the case. But these new mirrorless cameras offer new formats, such as the new CRAW and HEIF formats. Would either of these be tempting to me? Actually, after doing this test - maybe yes!

Just like my test of the cameras ISO performance, I created labels to put into each image so that there was no mistake on which format I was looking at. Each camera was set to Manual mode, ISO 160, f/8 at 1.6 seconds and using the new Canon 24-70 RF lens


With each camera, I took one image in each format (RAW, CRAW, JPEG and HEIF) to compare image quality and file size. Here is the data:

Canon R5

FormatSize
RAW47.5MB
CRAW22.3MB
JPEG12.4MB
HEIF13.1MB

Canon R6

FormatSize
RAW22.5MB
CRAW11.1MB
JPEG6.5MB
HEIF7.3MB

If you want to see these images in detail, you can download them from this Dropbox folder.

Before I commenced the testing, I already knew where I would focus my attention. I know that the new HEIF format is a newer and better file format as compared to JPEG, but that both those formats pale in comparison to RAW and CRAW. Why? Because both of the RAW formats include a lot more data and make it easier for me to make adjustments to the final images (protecting the details in the shadows and highlights). So...did I open the JPEG files to compare them to the RAW? Yes, and as I expected, the quality was subpar. Did I open the HEIF files? No, because at this time, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop (ACR) will not open these files. But once again, I already know that I will shoot one of the two RAW formats to retain the highest quality possible.

But here is where things get interesting! 

As I mentioned, for the past 10 years I have opted to shoot in full RAW format for most of my photography, only choosing to shoot in the older MRAW (medium RAW) format when photographing receptions and parties, in situations where clients are not likely to be ordering very large prints. I typically opted to shoot full RAW files because I wanted the best quality images for myself and my clients. 

But when comparing the RAW files of the Canon R5 and Canon R6 to the new CRAW (Compact RAW) files, I could not see a difference in the image quality. even when zooming at 500%! All I saw was equivalent image quality but half the file size to download and store. And keep in mind that both the RAW files and CRAW files are the same resolution (8192x5464 on the R5 and 5472x3648 on the R6). I even called a friend at Canon to ask if I was missing something here, and he confirmed that it is very difficult to see the difference between a RAW and a CRAW image. So I asked him "Can you give me one reason why I would not default to shooting CRAW only instead of RAW?" and he could not.

Canon R5 CRAW file at 500%

Canon R5 RAW file at 500%

So my conclusion is this: I think I may be defaulting to shooting CRAW from now on. It feels strange to write this since I have always been a proponent of shooting full RAW files. But I just can't see any reason not to default to CRAW moving forward.

What are your thoughts?

__________________________________________________________________________
Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.

__________________________________________________________________________