This journal documents my experiences with a Canon 50D, my first DSLR camera, purchased on Oct. 16, 2008. It is a showcase for my photography, includes comments about the camera's usability, with suggestions for improvement and discusses photography-related topics.

Canon Rebel T1 with Avril Lavigne


Fri May 01 10:44:35 2009

Rebel T1 billboard ad featuring Avril Lavigne.

Photographed from the middle of the intersection at Church and King (taken from a kneeling position; for some reason, I find that photographs taken from a kneeling poisiton look "better".)

Thu May 28 15:52:56 2009: See also the post, Avril En Mai, below.

Canon Forecast


Fri May 01 12:55:06 2009

Canon is predicting a 7% decline in sales (80% of all sales are outside of Japan) of digital cameras for the upcoming year.

In the first quarter of 2009, net income was 17.7B yen, a drop of more than 80% compared with last year, when sales fell 32%. Canon will cut more than 50% of operating costs to counter this drop. The full story is available on Bloomberg News.

Neglected Plants


Fri May 01 19:38:06 2009

24-105L at 105mm, 1/249s, f/4, ISO 100, AWB, corrected for contrast and white balance [1 of 3].

Neglected plants in an empty store window on Church Street. I would like to revisit this store with the 50mm because there is a certain appeal, that I can't quite explain, even to the hues of the dead Poinsettia leaves.

I just took three photos as I was strolling by; I wasn't concentrating on composing the shot properly. I have been walking by this store for a few years now.

Tazle's Lens-Switching Ritual


Sat May 02 08:30:58 2009

After reading about my rituals, <tazle> gave his ritual to minimize exposing both the body and the lenses to dust when switching lenses:

  1. Reverse lens hood
  2. Fish out lens front cover from pocket and apply
  3. Disengage camera bag clasp
  4. Remove current lens
  5. Open bag and put lens inside
  6. Move rear cover from the new lens to the old lens
  7. Take new lens out of bag
  8. Close bag without clasp
  9. Attach new lens
  10. Engage bag clasp
  11. Remove front cover and place in pocket
  12. Unreverse lens hood

I haven't tried it yet.

I do have one small change to the last step in my end-of-shoot ritual— engage all three clasps only if the camera is "ready-to-go", meaning, the battery is charged and CF card is inserted; otherwise only the front clasp is engaged indicating that either the battery is being charged and/or the CF card is in my laptop.

The Difference


Sat May 02 23:44:57 2009

The difference between a pervert and a voyeur is the ISO— if your camera can do ISO 12800 and higher, you're a voyeur; everyone else is a pervert.

Open House 2009


Tue May 05 15:26:31 2009

I posted the photo album for the departmental open house.

I took 564 photographs, culled them down to 351 over the weekend (because I shot in 3-burst AEB, under-exposed and over-exposed photographs were deleted). I spent Monday choosing which ones to publish, then used iWeb to generate the album and begin captioning them; I finished captioning Tuesday afternoon.

I had to batch process the portrait-oriented images through Photoshop Elements because iWeb doesn't read the EXIF 2.2 orientation tag properly and the photos come out landscape. The photos were reduced by 50% (not really necessary) and saved.

After publishing, I decided to count the number of photographs— 55 in total (I didn't publish many of the project close-ups; I kept them for promotional purposes.)

In the past, I photographed the students in front of their projects. This year, I asked them to hold up their projects in front of them in addition to photographing close-ups of the projects.

The trickiest photograph was the one in the green "tent" (see second-last row on page 2), which came out a bit blurry; I should have braced the camera on something due to the low shutter speed.

Toronto Spring Fashions 2009


Tue May 05 17:05:53 2009

24-105/4L at 105mm, f/4, Av, Landscape picture style, AWB, AISO, cropped, unsharp mask [3 of 14].

Not as sharp as I would have liked, maybe I should get the 70-200/2.8L IS for USD$1,600. Photographs shot from the third floor window of the Engineering building, looking across the street.

Photography c. 1963


Fri May 08 16:41:20 2009

I found a Flickr photostream by John Rudoff, of famous musicians in the 1960s. From the look, I guessed it was was Nikon camera. Eric, who is a Flickr member and thus has access to email addresses, emailed Dr. Rudoff and confirmed that they were Nikkor lenses within a few minutes; the film used was Ektachrome slide film. Fri May 08 16:57:52 2009 I went to the first photo in the stream, where he comments that he used either a Contax IIa or IIIa camera.

I was surprised to find that he shoots with a Canon 40D these days. Fri May 08 16:57:52 2009 After reading that he was using a Contax, it's not that surprising.

C1 & C2


Sun May 10 14:20:00 2009

The Canon 50D has two locations on the upper-dial, marked C1 and C2, which can hold custom camera settings. I have recently configured them for the two most common types of street photography I perform.

I have configured C1 with settings to photograph buildings— f/8, Landscape Picture Style, all focus sensors enabled, One Shot (buildings don't move), AWB, AISO. C2 has been configured to photograph people on the street— f/4, Snapshot Picture Style, center focus-sensor enabled, AWB, AISO, AI Servo, High-speed burst.

This allows me to quickly switch between photographing buildings and photographing an interesting person.

Google Photo Contest

Sun May 10 18:14:32 2009

Google wants your photos, but you have to be a student to participate.

Trawling the Photography Blogs


Sun May 10 19:14:36 2009

This afternoon, I searched for "photography" via blogsearch, and found some blogs with useful tips:

Contact 2009: Toronto Photography Festival


Mon May 11 14:14:51 2009

Contact 2009 is currently taking place in galleries across Toronto.

"Jeff Harris: 3653 Self-Portraits" at the BCE Place Galleria.

I happened to pass by the BCE Place galleria this morning and noticed a display of photographs. I stopped in and had a look as I was already late for work, due to train delays. It was an exhibition of "Jeff Harris: 3653 Self-Portraits". (One thing that crossed my mind was, "Did he visit a strip-joint?"; Answer: yes).

Update Mon May 11 23:31:59 2009: I've been staring at the thumbnail of the second photograph, above, and I've realized that it's almost black-and-white. It will probably work as a b&w photo. The vivid background of the first photo is from the exterior decor of the "Ki" restaurant— a popular watering hole of the Bay Street lawyers and their beautiful girlfriends.

New Yorker Profile: Bill Cunningham


Mon May 11 21:20:03 2009

Bill Cunningham is one of two reasons I open the NY Times Style section on Sundays; the other reason is the Ralph Lauren ads.

He shoots Nikon. Analog!



Wed May 13 15:19:13 2009

The York St. Teamway [1 of 6]

Porsche 911 Turbo at King & Bay [1 of 2]

Lamborghini Gallardo at Front & York [1 of 1]

All three photographs taken within the last seven days.

This was a good week for photography. In the queue are photos of the Union Station renovations and yesterday's "event" in the Atrium with a group of photographers all shooting Canon 1Ds, each carrying two bodies with white lenses.

I think two more colour-themed series are also in order.

Canon Spring Rebates

Sat May 16 13:08:14 2009

The annual spring rebates on lenses and bodies from Canon.



Sat May 16 21:35:00 2009

Eric asked Wolfram|Alpha to calculate the the depth of field for a 75mm lens at f/2.8 at 25 meters. It seems the query was ambiguous because it produces no results. However, once you click on the supplied link, on "depth of field", one of the required parameters is "circle of confusion".

I don't know what to input for this parameter.

Hugh van Es, R.I.P.


Sun May 17 11:02:34 2009

Hugh van Es, died on May 15 of a stroke. On April 29, 1975, he used a 300mm lens from the balcony of the UPI building, a few blocks away, to photograph the queue of evacuees streaming into an Air America helicopter which was perched on the roof of the CIA building in Saigon.

Sun Jul 19 00:04:14 2009: The Digital Journalist has a piece on Hugh van Es.

May Flowers

photos technique

Sun May 17 12:15:09 2009

50mm, f/2.8, Aperture Priority, -2/3EV, AISO, AWB (images are large and suitable for desktop backgrounds)

I got tired of shooting landscapes with the 24-105mm and decided to switch back to the 50mm and shoot "closeups"; the theme was flowers and textures. During the week, I visited a few downtown gardens and decorative planters in the bank plazas and photographed the blooming flowers in Aperture Priority at f-stops less than 4 (typically 1.4 or 2.8). 414 photographs, 1.91 GB in total.

The cherry blossoms were photographed on request of <isomer> who mentioned there aren't any in Ottawa. If I hadn't taken him up on the request, I wouldn't have gotten that beautiful photograph above and another one with a bumble bee hovering over the flowers.


I did learn a lesson with this exercise— f/1.4 is too thin if the frame is crowded with flowers and leaves, making the photograph look "blurry" which is distracting; f/2.8 gives a more pleasing look. If there is a single flower in the frame, then f/1.4 is fine. Additionally, -2/3EV gives a pleasing contrast by darkening the background and surpressing blown hilights, when shooting on a bright, sunny day.

And I also took the camera out on a rainy day (Thu) and got some nice closeups of leaves covered in raindrops; overcast skies are great for flower closeups.

In terms of camera usability, I am more at ease thumbing the focus-point selector on the top-right rear of the camera and changing the focus-point away from the center using the top spin-wheel and composing my frame with the subject positioned off-center. Previously, I would use the center point and then focus and re-compose while in ONE SHOT mode.

Canons in the Atrium


Sun May 17 20:24:00 2009

This event took place in the Atrium two weeks ago. The university chancellor, president and other assorted dignitaries were there along with the mace. All the professional photographers were shooting Canon (all the bodies were 1D; the top-most photographer has a 100-400mm and the other two have the 70-200mm); the videographers had Sony cameras.

Is there a term for "a group of photographers"? A press of photographers? "Paparazzo" is the term for a certain type of photographer.

Sun May 17 22:25:34 2009: Maybe a click (clique?) of photographers or a focus of photographers.

Mini Projector


Mon May 18 05:45:48 2009

I would like a LED mini projector built into my Canon 50D so I can project my photos (perhaps 8x10 in size) on a blank wall and do a slideshow.

"Lens": NY Times Photojournalism blog


Mon May 18 18:32:51 2009

David emailed me about a new blog from the NY Times called Lens. It's Flash-based, though; which is bleah.

I hope that this doesn't mean that "The Big Picture" will be shut down when/if/after the Boston Globe (which is owned by the Times) closes.

Self-Portrait with Train


Tue May 19 15:41:53 2009

24-105mm, f/4, Aperture Priority, AISO, AWB

This morning just as the train pulled into the station at Port Credit. Could be better exposed.

Got some nice fireworks photos from last night (Victoria Day, traditionally the fireworks day) but they were going off about a block away. I am considering making an animated GIF.

Forecasting Red Skies in the Morning


Fri May 22 13:51:36 2009

I emailed Environment Canada asking whether it would be possible to predict red skies in the morning— in the unlikely chance I decided to photograph a sunrise, I wanted it to be worth the effort of waking up at an ungodly hour to capture something spectacular.

Here is the response from Bernard Duguay, a meteorologist at Environment Canada, who says that it is possible to predict red skies with reasonable success:

Red skies in the morning or at night are caused by high thin clouds in the atmosphere. It's not always easy to forecast when the sky will be red in the morning, but one way is to watch for approaching storms. Check your local forecast and if it calls for rain or periods of rain in the next 2 or 3 days, it's likely that the sky will be red the next morning as those high clouds (cirrus clouds) are the first to move over a region ahead of a storm. Of course, it doesn't always mean that they will have moved over your region in the morning, as it could also be at any time of the day or night, but at least it's a rough guide.



Sat May 23 19:01:21 2009

50mm, f/2.8 except for photo 1 at f/4, Aperture Priority, AISO, AWB. Yes, those are raindrops in photo 2; I knew the rain would be ending in the morning so I took my camera that day. Photos 1, 2 (shade) and 4 were taken around noon, photo 3 around 6:30pm. The difference in the quality of light is remarkable.

All photographed last week during my 50mm mania.

I returned to the 24-105 this week and re-shot some the of same flowers I had previously photographed with the 50, just to compare— there is no comparison. As a future post will demonstrate, the 50mm wins purely on reproducing colour vibrantly.

"Eye of the Needle" Leica


Sat May 23 22:38:27 2009

I was watching "Eye of the Needle" today and noticed that Donald Sutherland was using what I guessed was a Leica (as he played a German spy).

I was correct; the Leica Spotter's FAQ notes that it's a Leica III (I would add that it's a model with with a collapsible lens, since, a few moments earlier, he "fiddles" with the lens after pulling the camera from his pocket.)

Toronto Union Station Reno


Sun May 24 17:51:27 2009

The first two photos show the hoarding around the construction area at the West-end entrance of Union. The hoarding has photographs of Union Station beginning with its construction in 1914, all the way to the future. Photo 3 shows what is going on behind the hoarding; the walkway in front of the pillars (seen in the Photo 4, as it looked in the 1920s) is being demolished.

More photos as the renovation progresses.

My Camera Stopped Working


Thu May 28 12:34:51 2009

I was out and about shooting today with the 50/1.4 (for about a half-hour) and my camera stopped auto-focusing. Hmmm... that's odd, I thought to myself. Not only that, it would not release the shutter either. I shut it off, turned it back on— still the same problem. I turned it off, pulled out the battery— still the same problem. I switched to manual and tried— still nothing.

I decided stop photographing and starting walking in to work while still playing with the camera and although it didn't focus, I was able to take a photograph. And then it shutoff completely.

I decided it was likely the weather affecting the camera and/or the lens— today was 11C, cloudy, foggy (visibility 2km) with light rain showers and occasional fine misty rain, wind ENE 24km/h, humidity was 100%; the camera is rated at 85% or less. I remembered the 5Ds shutting down on the Luminous Landscapes Antartic trip.

So, I stowed the camera once it started raining and got in to work. I took it out of the case, put it in a ziploc bag and threw-in two small packets of dessicant I carry in the camera bag. After an hour, I will move it close to the back of my Mac mini and let it warm up in the warmth of the exhaust.

I did get some nice shots though.

Thu May 28 13:39:05 2009: Camera is now working fine.

Avril En Mai


Thu May 28 15:43:45 2009

Church and Shuter.

Richmond and Victoria.

Church and Richmond (now replaced by Sleeman's Light).

Highway 10 at Port Credit GO Station.

All the billboards with Canon Rebel XT1i advertising within the small area I walk in Toronto and in Port Credit.

I have another view of the billboard next to McVeighs (photo 3) and I need to photograph Downtown Camera's Avril Lavigne life-size cardboard cutouts.

Titillating Technique


Fri May 29 17:08:10 2009

Yesterday, when my camera failed due to the high humidity, I did a bit of googling for information about rebooting it, when I came across a posting that mentioned a technique that only female photographers can take advantage of— "I do put my lens cap in my bra and sometimes I forget it's there!"

Alltop Photography


Sat May 30 17:29:31 2009

News aggregrator for the top photography blogs.

Another weekend spent reading about photography. Update Sun May 31 18:17:51 2009: I already read many of the feeds listed there; I found one with a couple of good articles:

"The Photography Book"


Sun May 31 18:19:22 2009

Last night, in a fit of late-night surfing, I ordered "The Photography Book", (paperback) by the editors of Phaidon Press; it was $11 at Amazon. It is a postcard collection of 500 "famous" photographs. From the reviews, the text accompanying each photograph is forgettable, at best.

To qualify for free shipping, I also ordered "The Art Book" (paperback) and "The Art Book for Children - Book Two", (hardcover) both also by Phaidon Press; the latter is for my niece who loves to draw and colour.

Update Tue Jun 02 21:43:13 2009: The books arrived today. Nearly every page of The Photography Book is visually arresting. Based on the few minutes I spent flipping through it, I would say buy it; but try to get the hardcover version as I can see the binding of the paperback falling apart over time.

Update Sun Jun 28 17:28:57 2009: My review of The Photography Book.

luis fernandes / / May 2009 Canon 50D Journal