Where are my Photos?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Total Solar Eclipse Photography

I recently had the fantastic experience of being able to view and photograph a Total Solar Eclipse. The November 2012 Eclipse from Port Douglas in Australia.

A little bit of basic info:

A Solar Eclipse is when moon passes between the Sun and Earth casting a shadow on a part of Earth. This shadow follows a path from usually from west to east because from the observer's perspective the Sun is moving faster than the moon. The Shadow is moving at thousands of kilometers per hour across the surface of the earth. It takes approximately 2 hours for the shadow to pass completely over a single fixed location on Earth.

Earth's orbit of the Sun and the Moon's orbit of the earth are not a perfect circle rather they are elliptical (oval shaped) enough so that the apparent sizes of both the Moon and the Sun change. Sometimes the Moon is closer to Earth appearing slightly larger and able to completely cover the the Sun (a Total Solar Eclipse) sometimes the moon is further away and appears smaller than the Sun and does not completely cover the Sun leaving a bright ring. This is an Annular Solar Eclipse.

OK - So what about getting a photo?

The key is to plan well.

The Nov 2012 Total Solar Eclipse was going to take 2 hours from start to finish.

I was hoping to get 5 key shots.
  • First Contact: - The moment just after the moon appears to enter into the sun. 5:44am
  • About half obscure when the moon covers about 50% of the sun. Approx. 6:15am
  • Second Contact: - This at the moment just before Totality when the edge of the sun shines through the edge of the moon. This creates a phenomena called Bailey's Beads or the Diamond Necklace. 6:36am
  • Totality: - The point the Moon totally obscures the Sun. From 6:37am to 6:39am
  • Third Contact: The moment the Sun begins to appear from the other side of the Moon. This creates a similar image to Second Contact. 6:39am
The NASA eclipse website was my starting point. There you can get a schedule of the up and coming events complete with dates, times, locations and maps.

From there I planned a trip to Port Douglas where a work colleague has a unit (condo). Port Douglas was closer to the center line of the path of the shadow and therefore Totality would last longer (2 mins).

One of my big surprises was how popular a Total Eclipse is, according to the local media over 60,000 people came to see this one. This is 4 mile beach at Port Douglas - It is never this popular at 5:45am.

Four Mile Beach Port Douglas

So Tip 1. - Plan ahead.

Next was to think about the gear to take:

I took my Canon 1D-X - its my only body so no debate there. I will say that if you have 2 bodies take them both. There are some interesting shots in the eerie lighting during totality and wider focal lengths. So one on the tripod and one on your shoulder.

The lens I used was a Canon 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 L IS lens. I used it with a 2x Extender III. I used to have a Canon 7D which has a crop sensor (1.6x crop factor) This makes the 400mm focal length on the 7D the same as having a 640mm lens on the full frame 1D-X. To increase the focal length of the 100-400mm lens the 2x Extender gets me to 800mm.

This makes a tripod essential kit for eclipse photography.

Tip 2. Take a tripod.

You also need a filter. I had two but ended up only using one. I have a 77mm circular Black Polymer filter from Thousand Oaks which I didn't use. Instead I use a home made filter using some BAADER AstroSolar Film this should be available from your local telescope supplier. It was interesting to me that traditional camera stores don't carry solar filters. A word of caution. Originally I used this film for the transit of venus earlier this year and made the mistake of taping the film to a clear Cokin filter so I could use my P Series Cokin filter kit. Bad Idea! The film and the filter reflect on each other and you get a double or ghosted image. (See pic below) So this time I made a filter using cardboard tubing and made a cap that fits over the lens. The reason this system works better than the 77mm threaded filter is that during totality you need to remove the filter and shoot with no filter. A threaded filter will take more time and you might lose the shot.

The Black Polymer filter gives the sun a very yellow look while the AstroSolar film give the sun a pinkish to white look.

June 2012 Transit of Venus - The ghosting is from using AstroSolar film over a clear filter. A lesson learned the hard way. 

Tip 3. Get a solar filter and test it before hand.

Planning done, gear packed, tickets booked, alarm set, location scoped - all set.

We were staying 2 mins walk from the location I planned to use. I arrived at about 5:10am before sunrise. Already people were gathering but our part of the beach still had plenty of space.

During the eclipse the lighting was going to change dramatically - I'm using a tripod with a lens that has image stabilisation so it needs to be turned off. (Using IS with a tripod has the opposite effect of moving the image during the time the IS is becoming active.) I chose to use shutter priority (tv) and set the shutter at 1/250th - I would have liked to be faster but with the changing light I would have been under exposed in the darker moments.

The 1D-X allows you to set a maximum ISO and although it is a very capable low light camera I prefer not to let the ISO go over 6400. - Check.

During the eclipse I am continually altering the exposure from under exposed 3 stops to over exposed 3 stops.

The biggest unknown and uncertainty during the shoot is clouds but I knew from my venus transit shots that this might actually give the shot some extra character - which ended up being true.

To top it off - providentially - we had no cloud right at the time of totality and got some great shots.

During Totality the filter comes off and you can shoot without risk of damage to eyes or sensor. I was shooting at f11, ISO 3200 & 1/250th -3 ev

Totality is an amazing event without a camera. You can see the stars and there is this eerie silence, your brain is sending messages that something is weird. If possible everyone should try to experience at least one Total Solar Eclipse in a lifetime. The group next to us had flown in from the USA for this event and obviously didn't share my Christian beliefs, their reaction was to express a desire to sacrifice a chicken. Well thankfully our feathered egg laying friends survived at least until Col. Sanders caught up with them.

The second half of the eclipse was mostly clouded over so I packed up fully satisfied with the results.

So how did they turn out?

Check out the results at this link. vitamirus.me/Eclipse

Here's my favorite.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

What I learned about cheap studio lighting for beginners

First a disclaimer,

I don't know much about flash photography and after reading this (if you get to the end) you might be in whole hearted agreement.

But I wanted to record what I learned in putting together a cheap lighting setup for a portrait and group gig my daughter and I need to do.

First my gear: I have: A Canon 1D-X, Canon 580 EX II Speedlite. I also have a selection of lenses that should do the job. My daughter has a 60D and a 320 EX Speedlite.

What I didn't have: A backdrop, any way to defuse the flash light and a way to trigger the flashes off camera.

I don't really like portrait photography. I guess this is mainly because I'm not that good at it so I didn't want to spend a fortune on stuff that I might not get a lot of use out of. The short part of a long story is that this shoot is for my other daughter's dance school and parents are expecting a semi professional result so certainly wanted to give this my best shot. (no pun intended).

After searching ebay for a background I settled on a 2m x 2m frame and white background. I'm hoping to get a high key look by overexposing the backdrop with a Speedlite behind the subject.

Lesson: Be skeptical about buying stuff on ebay. I usually am very careful but for AUD 36.00 I thought not much to risk. Sure enough the frame was as expected cheap but functional. The backdrop was about 1.5m x 2.0m nothing like the picture on ebay and next to useless. I agreed with the seller to a AUD 10.00 refund and I keep the backdrop. So for AUD 26.00 I have a 2m x 2m frame. I paid another  AUD 33.00 for a much larger background that will curve at the bottom.

Next I bought an umbrella setup from DCW (Digital Camera Wharehouse) http://www.digitalcamerawarehouse.com.au for AUD 175.00 It's a pretty good setup that allows you to mount hot shoe flashes on the stands and reflective umbrellas to defuse the light.

I wanted a left and right flash to light the subject and another light for the background. I already had the 580EX II and my daughter's 320 EX so I bought (again on ebay) another 320 EX to match my daugther's. These Speedlites can act as a slave not a master. The Flash cost AUD 209.00

I still need a way to fire the Speedlites so after some research I settled on a Yongnuo ST-E2 remote trigger. This is a rip off of the Canon trigger at half the price. There was some concern that the Yongnuo would not fire the 320 EX but I couldn't see any reason why so I took a punt (that's a bet or gamble for my non-Aussie readers) and bought it. Well it fired the 320 EX fine but would not sync properly with the Canon 1D-X I found out later that the unit does not work with the 1D-X or the 5D Mk III. The seller willingly agreed this was reason enough to take it back and agreed to a full refund. The Yongnuo unit was AUD 132.00

Plan B. I thought I'd try the Hahnel Tuff TTL transmitter / receiver. My setup though required 3 receivers which was starting to push the budget. So an idea formed in my ignorant brain that I could use the Hahnel to trigger the 580 EX II in Master mode and as Master it would trigger the 2 Canon 320 EX's. I called DCW twice to ask if this would work. One said "yes" the other "no" so that wasn't going to help. I took another punt and put down the AUD 156.00 for the transmitter receiver kit. Sure enough it works fine. The Hahnel fires the 580 EX II which is set to master and in turn fires the 2 x 320 EX's. An added bonus with the Tuff TTL kit is that it takes AA batteries the same as the flash units. Job done.

The 580 EX II seems to blow out the background for the high key effect which is what I wanted so we are all set for the shoot.

In the end I got a background kit, new Canon 320EX flash, 2 strobe umbrella lighting lit and a wireless trigger system for AUD 566.00 - I'm happy with that.

So what did I learn?

1. eBay is OK for buying gear but a reasonable element of skepticism is required. Buyer beware.
2. The Yongnuo ST-E2, although a good unit that seems to work as designed, does not work with the Canon 1D-X. The flashes will fire but are out of sync so its is effectively useless for 1D-X owners.
3. The Hahnel Tuff TTL transmitter works well and I can confirm if one of your flashes can act as a master then it will fire other slaves so you don't need more receivers. I cannot confirm that you get all the E-TTL functionality across the system so advanced users may not be satisfied. So far I am.

I'll let you know after the shoot.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Memories are important

One of the things that's keeps me taking photos of people is the thought that one day that memory will be important.

I've had two occasions in the last week that have reminded me of this.

1. My youngest daughter turned 18 so it fell to me to put together a slideshow of her first 18 years for use at her party. As I am putting this together I'm reminded of the many occasions where I didn't take pictures and could have.

2. One of my very good mates died last week, the funeral was yesterday. Cancer took him far too early. As far a funerals go this was one of the most uplifting I have been to. During his last months we spent a bit of time together and because of our mutual interest in photography we often had our cameras. I regret not taking more photos of him. It's not a very blokey thing to do - taking pictures of your mates. But from this vantage point that was a short sighted perspective - He was much loved and will be missed. Photos are helpful in revitalising memories and grieving well for those who have passed.

So don't be shy - take your camera, use it and store up memories of your loved ones.

I also gained a new appreciation for the face recognition features of Aperture. It was useful to be able to quickly find photos for use in celebrating his life.

There's a good article on this topic on DPS today.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Composition - Use your eyes there is always a photo to take.

Yesterday I needed to get the car washed - It was the first sunny day we had had for what felt like a month and the car needed it.

So with a long queue at the car wash and 40mins to kill I dropped the car off. Fortunately I had the 1D-X and our new Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L IS Mk II clipped in.

The car wash is at the end of a light industrial area that is uninteresting and bordering on neglect but I have learned that there is a photo in every location. Just open your eyes and use your imagination.

I thought I'd walk over the the railway line to get some passing trains, graffiti and whatever else I came across.

Now don't get me wrong - I took about 80 shots and only kept 18 so there was plenty experimentation.

But this shot is my favorite:

Yes there has been a little post processing:

Dropping saturation and reducing exposure on the left side as well as sharpening the prickles and the flower. Extra blur around flower.

But the composition is straight off the camera.

Here are few of the other keepers.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

1D-X AF Tracking - Model Plane photography

A mate of mine asked me to go with him to take some pics of a model plane in flight he was doing a review of.

So grabbed the 1D-X and set off in his car. He is a professional photographer so I asked him what setup he would use for this.

400 ISO Shutter Priority set to 1/500th Evaluative Metering. The 1/500th speed was to stop the plane but still showing some motion in the propeller.

Sun was low in the sky so the plan was for some low passes with the sun behind us.

The Model is a BF109 whatever that is. Look it up.

I set the AF to AI Servo.

The 1D-X was attached to a Canon 100-400m L IS F4-5.6. It was the first time out with this combination and I immediately noticed the loss of the 1.6 crop factor from the 7D.

Also set the camera for high speed burst and we are ready to roll.

The thing with Model Plane photography is to try and photograph the model in life like situations. These models are "scale" so you are trying to simulate some realism in the shoot.

Not that easy when these things are buzzing around so fast.

The verdict? The AI Servo on the 1D-X works very well. Its fair to say that this job wasn't an extreme test for the AI Servo mode I shot over 200 frames and most of them were acceptable. With 55 of them printable.

Here's a few of the best.

Friday, August 31, 2012

1D-X Firmware Upgrade 1.0.6. Installed

Canon issued a firmware upgrade for the 1D-X on August 28, 2012.


The upgrade fixes:

1. A bug that stopped some micro adjustments being saved.
2. Some back focusing issues when used with some lenses.
3. The Error 80 Issue.
4. A problem with the dual CF cards when one is pulled out and reinserted.
5. A bug where micro adjustments are not recorded properly in the EXIF data.
6. or adds a feature that displays a "O" or "X" to indicate a file transfer working using WiFi FTP.

No problems upgrading. Need to check any improvement with the focusing.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 IS L v 70-200mm f2.8 IS II L + 2x Extender III

Just picked up a new Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS L II Lens and was keen to try it out with the Canon EF 2x Extender III.

First things first.

1. It fits. Some have suggested the extender doesn't fit this lens. It does.
2. The AF works fine on the 1D-X body. Unlike using the extender with the 100-400mm L Lens the AF works fine on the 70-200 its quick and sharp. I tried it on the 7D and can confirm the AF is a lot slower - It does a lot more hunting for focus.

So what about image quality?

Here's the 100-400 at 400mm ISO 800 and 1/6 sec f5.6

Here's the 70-200 at 200x2 = 400mm ISO 800 and 1/5 sec f5.6 (The extender reduces the aperture by 2 stops)

Hard to pick the difference.

Here are 2 shots on a tripod at 100% crop this time shooting at ISO 100 1/250 with a speedlite.

The 100-400

The 70-200 with 2x Extender

The 70-200mm with extender doesn't look as sharp as the 100-400mm? But wait.

You will notice the images cover the same area of the map yet one is smaller than the other. The camera body sits closer to the subject when the 100-400mm is being used on the tripod because the tripod foot on the lens sits closer to the body of the camera. The 2x Extender has the effect of putting a spacer between the back of the lens and the camera - pushing the body back. This wouldn't have been the case if I had fixed the tripod plate to the body rather than the lens foot.

So lets do that again. This time the Body is fixed to the Tripod.


 70-200mm + 2x Extender

Can't split them?

Here's a 200% crop side by side. the 100-400mm is on the left. The 70-200mm + 2x Extender is on the right.

So the 70-200mm with 2x Extender on the 1D-X could replace the 100-400mm at full zoom. The downside with that setup is that 250mm the 100-400 is at f5.0 where as at 125mm 2x = 250mm the 70-200mm with 2x Extender will be at f5.6 - Admittedly not a big sacrifice if you can't afford the 2 lenses.

I will be keeping my 100-400mm for now. With the 2x Extender on that I get a 200-800mm Lens and on the 7D (Although I have to use Manual Focus or Live View AF) I get a whopping 1280mm. Even at f11 this is a very credible and affordable Super Telephoto option.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

1D-X Low light high ISO Performance

My daughter had the annual "Battle Of The Bands" school house competition today. The venue was a local church.

There was no natural light and the stage background was a black curtain.

Being a school event I had been to before I knew there could be no wandering around with the camera. So I would confined to the back of the auditorium with my trusty Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 L Series lens. Not the fastest lens in my kit but I was going to need the reach.

Last time I shot this with my 7D at ISO 6400. At that time the lighting was brighter and the stage had a white background.

I got there on time and found a slightly elevated seat in the back. A few test shot showed me there was no way I could get the shutter fast enough at 6400 so I bumped the 1D-X up to ISO 10,000. The IS on the 100-400mm lets me get away with a slightly slower shutter than might otherwise be possible with handheld shots. So I switched to TV (Shutter Speed Priority) set the shutter to 1/320 and shot off over 200 frames.

Most shots were under exposed but I was happy with that look.

The low light performance of this camera is awesome. I used no extra noise reduction in PP (Post Processing) and only a few tweaks. What you see in the photo and link below is close to straight off the camera.

All shot at 10,000 ISO, 1/320 Full Zoom (400mm) [Edit: The shot below was taken at 260mm] so f5.6 in very low light.

Here's the best shot. And the link below is to the best 4 pics of the day.

Battle Of The Bands 2012 Violin

Link Here

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Domain - vitamirus.me

I've continued the journey increasing my brand today by registering a domain in the vitamirus name so I've setup this to go straight to to my smugmug homepage.

Its a nice feature of smugmug that they allow you to use your own domain.

so try www.vitamirus.me

And thanks to Crazy Domains for a very efficient registration service.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

1DX's First Outing

It was a dull day but I wanted to get out with the new piece of kit and try it in the wild.

I went for a quick walk along the river near home to see what was out.

I probably had the ISO up too high at 4000 to start with - I still haven't developed a good habit of checking all settings on the camera before and/or during a shot.

Anyway came away very happy with the new camera's performance.

I was using the AI Servo mode to see how it went tracking birds.

I think that will take some getting used to. It does a pretty good job but occasionally jumps to tracking something else. I will need to fiddle about with the different cases that the new AF system on the 1Dx has.

Bottom line is I still have a lot of learning to do but came away with some nice shots. This Canon body is going to be a fantastic tool to use.

You can check out the best 4 by following the link below:


Here's my favorite:

Check out the fly this bird is catching and the bird's legs through its wings.


Friday, August 10, 2012

1D-X Arrives

Its here!

Now to set it up and try it out.

First impressions. Well its ugly - but you don't buy a 1D-X for looking at. Its for what it does when you look through it.

The ISO performance is amazing. Took a couple of test shots indoors low light and Wow! very impressive.

I'll post some shots as soon as I have something to show.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Canon 7D Firmware 2.0.0. Upgrade Done

Downloaded and installed the new Canon 7D Firmware 2.0.0 today. All done no issues.

Haven't had a play yet.

Friday, August 3, 2012

BBF - (Back Button Focusing) - I like it.

I've been using BBF exclusively for many months now and love it.

It allows me to use the AI-Servo mode for focusing but control when it is active totally independent of when I take the shot.

So I can choose to focus on a person's eyes but quickly recompose the shot without having to choose a new focus point.

I can quickly have the effect of using manual focus without changing any settings.

Now that I am used to it I could not easily go back.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Canon 1D-X on the way

I took the plunge today and ordered a new Canon 1D-X.

I also ordered a 70-200mm f2.8 L USM IS II lens.

Together with a spare battery and 2x 32GB Lexar 1000x cards it was an expensive phone call.

I used Ted's Camera Store in the CBD who I have sourced most of my gear from.

In terms of non-grey imports they gave me (again) the best deal I could find.

The lens is on back order so I expect to pick it all up next week sometime.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Compare Physical Camera Sizes - Great Site

Some of you might already be aware of this site but its a great example of a site that does something interesting really well.


They also do Image Sensor Sizes:

Thanks to Cult Of Mac for the heads up.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

15" Macbook Pro Retina Display - First Impressions

I'm writing this post on my new Macbook Pro 15" Retina Display.

Its probably a bit off topic for some readers but I thought I'd write about my first impressions after the first day of having my new workhorse.

Next to my camera gear this is the most important hardware tool I have for photography.

So what to say.

1. The Screen is fantastic! The crisp text and interfaces of the native apple apps are just sensational. So the first disappointment is when you run a non-apple app. I use Chrome as a browser so it was the first app I loaded. All the text is blurry. I found myself instinctively reaching for my glasses because it looked like everything was out of focus. I seriously considered reverting to Safari until Google deliver the promised update. But instead I downloaded Chrome Canary - Google's program for brave early adopters. I'm writing this blog post in that browser - and volla! It is seriously good again. Over time many developers will update their apps for the new 2880 x 1800 resolution. In fact if my experience is anything to go on - they will be feverishly punching out revised code as I write because the upscaled apps look very unattractive and will turn some people off. As an amateur photographer this unit is totally adequate as a photo processing and storage unit (I have the 756GB SSD).

2. Speed. The new MBP with its SSD and Ivy Bridge processor work together to give a very nice increase in performance. I use Aperture for image processing and although I haven't given it a lot of work to do - it feels very snappy indeed.

3. Weight. The New MBP is no Macbook Air - I have an 11" MB Air and will continue to use it to travel with. The MBP is obviously lighter than previous models but still not light enough as a walk-around-all-day-under-the-arm unit. Sure I didn't expect anything else but the hype might have lead you to believe otherwise.

So there you have it. My first impressions.

Monday, June 25, 2012

New moon shots

It was a clear sky last night so I set up the 100-400mm with 2x extender on the Manfrotto on the front porch.

Here are 2 keepers:

New Winter Moon

New Winter Moon

Sunday, June 24, 2012

100-400mm does AFL Footy

Took the 100-400mm lens to the footy last night and got a few keepers.

Lighting not great so high ISO required to get the shutter fast enough to stop the action.

These shots were taken from Row O on level 1.

The lens performed very well under the conditions.


AFL Magpies v Westcoast June 2012 - 1

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Zoo. A great place to share some tips.

A mate of mine (Mate = Friend for any non Aussie readers) has a Canon 7D like me and asked me to show him a few things I had learned along the way.

Well I'm still very much a learner too but took the invitation as an opportunity to learn more myself.

Now where do you go to get some good shots on an ordinary day with a good chance of coming home with some keepers?

The Zoo.

My mate has a kit lens so I put my 24-70 L series lens on his body and put my 100-400 L IS on mine and off we went.

We had a great day and came home with more experience and some nice shots.

Here's my fav. But even this was a reminder to be more aware of the camera settings. Shutter was a bit slow. There is a bit of motion blur that could have been avoided with more care.

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The whole album is here:

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Venus Transit

It was a much anticipated event and a bit touch and go on the question of how the weather would hold out.

But all went according to plan and I got a few OK shots. Certainly not an easy shot to take.

I bought some double coat aluminium filter material from the local Telescope guy and stuck it to a P series Cokin filter. Not sure if that was the problem but I couldn't get a decent focused shot.

The best ones are on the link below:


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Inspiration From The Experts

I met Steve Fraser today. He works with Ken Duncan and was at the Ken Duncan Gallery in the Melbourne Docklands area.

Steve is a fantastic Australian photographer specialising in landscapes.

I spent probably 20mins with him chatting about camera settings, composition and great spots in Western Australia that I should have on my list for my big trip next year.

He gave me a great tip by suggesting I put the time in to find the sweet spot in each of my lenses. For instance, taking a shot of a brick wall at various focal lengths and apertures to find the settings that give the best results.

Finding experienced photographers willing to share their knowledge is a real pleasure.

Thanks Steve.

His website is here. http://stevefraser.co/Default.aspx

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Valuable Lesson - Don't be shy

2 weeks ago I went back to the farm I grew up on with my Dad and brother. We had a great time together reliving some fond old memories.

I took the 7D with me but of course I had family and the current owners of the property to consider as we are wandering around the 200 acre property - so time was limited for composition and planning.

I got a few satisfactory shots but none worthy of publishing to vitamirus.smugmug.com

My only regret for the day was not taking a shot of the old house which has been incorporated into the new homestead. I felt a bit self conscious asking about taking a photo inside someone else's home.

But the regret is real and I wish in hindsight I had taken the shot. It was a reminder to be bold and ask. People can say "no" but they usually don't. It was a god lesson.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Birds of a feather - using the 100mm - 400mm IS L Series Lens

Last weekend we went back to our new favorite camping spot at Tallarook.

Some local birds popped in for a sticky beak at their new neighbours so I clipped the trusty 100-400mm IS L Series lens on and started to shoot.

The birds were quite the posers so there was plenty of opportunity to get some nice shots.

At first I found too many shots with slight camera shake and I remembered that old rule of thumb about making the shutter speed at least as fast as the focal length. So given I was shooting at 400mm I switched to TV on the 7D and set the shutter speed to 1/400th with much better results. I also increased the ISO so that in the shaded lighting of the bush the aperture was staying above the minimum F5.6 of the lens at that focal length.

The result? Well see for yourself Here

Here's my favorite.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Aussie Bush

We went to Tallarook State Park for the long weekend a week or so ago.

View Larger Map

We love bush camping with our Kimberley Caravan.

The butterflies were out in full force and in very good condition so I got some OK pics.

Check them out on my smugmug site here.

All of these were shot using my Canon 7D and most with the Canon 100-400mm L Series lens. The 400mm focal length allows you to get close to the flighty post-metamorphosis caterpillars and the image stabilisation allows you to take hand held shots.

Here's my favorite:

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Planning Eclipse Photos

Australia only has two more solar eclipses this decade.


13-Nov 2012 and 10-May-2013. I hope to take some pics of them both.

The 13-Nov-2012 eclipse is a total eclipse whereas the 2013 one is an annular eclipse.

A total eclipse is where the moon covers the sun entirely, blocking it out. An annular eclipse is when the apparent size of the moon is smaller than the apparent size of the sun so it does not cover the sun entirely. In an annular eclipse you get a ring of sun around the moon.

If you want to know more about why the apparent size of the moon and sun change then there is a good article here.

The short answer is both the earth and moon have elliptical orbits.

Total eclipses are cool to photograph because you can get a flaring effect from the illuminated gasses emitting from the sun which ordinarily are not visible due to the intensity of the light coming from the sun.

Anyway - I hope to take pics of both types but it involves some careful planning.

Now bear in mind I haven't done this before so these posts are setting out how I'm going about planning for it. And some of the resources I am using.


To get the right pic - location is important.

I want to be right in the center of the path for the Umbra. (definition)

I have used the Google maps on the NASA site.

13-Nov-2012 http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2012Nov13Tgoogle.html
10-May-2013 http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEgoogle/SEgoogle2001/SE2013May10Agoogle.html

Both eclipses are early morning so the sun will be low in the sky.

The sun rises in the east so I'm looking for a good view of the eastern horizon.

The 2013 eclipse covers a very remote area of Australia so I'm making this plan as part of a bigger trip to see our western state. Details of that trip plan are being discussed on my other blog. http://oz4x4ing.blogspot.com.au/

For each eclipse I plan to get there a day early so I can do a practice run the morning before.


My plan is to get at least one photo at the point of totality and some other images either side.

To do this I'll use my 100-400mm lens.

I also need to get a filter to protect both my eyes and the camera's sensor.

I looking at geting something like AstroSolar safety film and making my own.

I already have the TPE app for the iPhone to check the direction and timing of sun rise

During the Nov 2012 eclipse I need to be able to remove the filter during totality and hopefully get a cool shot like this: