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.

Friday Foto Picasa View Stats


Tue Dec 01 00:03:24 2009

Last Friday, I collected the view statistics, superimposed in red, for my Friday Foto Picasa album, to gauge the popularity of my photos.

The view statistics are somewhat meaningless with respect to photographic quality; instead, they are likely indicative of most popular keywords: ladybugs (actually, asian lady beetles) are more popular than bees. Though, it doesn't explain why two photographs (bee on the sunflower) with the same subject matter and keywords should not have approximately the same number of views.

To compare, the CN Tower/Skydome photograph in my "Friday Foto: Urban" album had 236 views, as of Friday.

Careers in Photography

Wed Dec 02 04:19:44 2009

Considering a career in photography? The U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics forecasts trends in various professions including photography— "more than half of all photographers are self-employed, a much higher proportion than for most occupations; competition for jobs is expected to be keen because the work is attractive to many people."

After reading that page it certainly make photography look like an unglamorous profession requiring a lot of hard work for low pay in an extremely competitive market. So what is the attraction? There is someting deceptive about photography that makes it look easy, "Hey, I can do that", but when you actually try it, you realize it's really not that easy.

Friday Foto: Flatiron Panorama


Fri Dec 04 22:06:19 2009

Though featured previously on my journal, this particular version of the panorama has been corrected for prespective.

CPN has an article on creating panoramic images with a DSLR.

7D AF-point Illumination in Low-light


Sat Dec 05 00:06:48 2009

The 7D addresses one of my usability concerns with the 50D— the 9 auto-focus points (especially the center one) in the view-finder are difficult to see when shooting in low light or shooting against a dark background:

CFn III-8: VF Display illumination: One of the ‘firsts’ included in the EOS 7D is the transmissive LCD screen that removes the need to change focus screens and instead provides the ability to show or hide any of the viewfinder display information you may wish to see. CFn III-8 and III-9 control this.

When shooting in low light, it can be useful to illuminate the AF points or grid lines to make them easier to see. CFn III-8 allows to you do this by illuminating them in red.

Friday Foto Urban Picasa View Stats


Sat Dec 05 21:03:24 2009

The high view counts (compared to my nature album) for this album were unexpected.

Since Google Streetview now covers Toronto, urban street photography, of buildings specifically, may no longer be as popular as it once was (street photography of people will always be popular). Before Streetview, I considered buying a ticket on one of the double-decker tour buses that drive around downton and photographing the city from the top deck. However, the Google Streetview camera is at about the same height, so my the photos would have had a similar perspective.

First Female Red Arrows Pilot


Sun Dec 06 21:42:35 2009

The Sacramento Bee has a feature, similar to The Big Picture, about the first female pilot joining the Red Arrows acrobatic team. I found the photographs that included the photographers very interesting. There are more Canonistas than Nikonians; I am surprised how few use vertical grips.

Friday Foto: Berczy Park Christmas Tree


Fri Dec 11 12:50:05 2009

In early November, the fountain in Berczy Park is turned off and in early December a tall Christmas tree made of lights is erected.

Aperture Priority, f/2.8, 1/10s, ISO100, camera stabilized against lamp-post.

From Friday Foto: Downtown

In case you're bothered that this photo doesn't adhere to the rule of thirds, it's because this was the only angle that had the least amount of brightly lit, distracting background.

Aperture Priority, f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO 200, handheld.

From Friday Foto: Downtown

I took about 25 photographs of this tree, and most of them were out of focus (this is normal for the non-L 50mm in low-light). I braced the camera against a tree or a lamp-post, so I know it wasn't camera-shake.

There was one photograph that had a great composition but was unusable because it was out of focus; I intend to re-take it later.

I was deliberately shooting at low ISO values, didn't want to exceed ISO 200 even though ISO400 is pretty clean.

Cerevo Camera


Sun Dec 13 16:08:30 2009

It's odd how on Thursday, while walking to work sans camera (because of the extremely windy and chilly weather we had, wind-chill of -16°C), I was thinking that back in 2002, my 3.2MP S30 camera was state-of-the-art (for a point-and-shoot) and today, the iPhone has the equivalent sensor (but without 3x zoom) and is much thinner than the S30.

I wondered why Canon didn't make a fixed-focus credit-card sized camera for about $100 (or less). It would be so cheap that people would keep one in their wallet, and one in their drawer at work, and one in their drawer at home and one in their car, even though they had a cellphone (note I said cellphone and not smartphone, as cellphonws have notoriously craptacular cameras) because this camera would take better quality pictures.

Today, I was quite surprised to read about the Cerevo, a 9MP "social camera" that wirelessly uploads your photos to an online album (Flickr, Picasa, etc.) of your choice.

It's bulkier than the iPhone, but it's a good first-approximation to what I envisioned just a few days ago.

The Human Survey


Mon Dec 14 14:50:10 2009

Lots of portraits and I like their lighting setup— dark background with 2 back-lights and a front reflector.

Their aim is to photograph everyone who walks by their setup.

Friday Foto: Yonge and Richmond, Decorated


Fri Dec 18 22:54:17 2009

Toronto Street Scenes: Tour Buses


Sat Dec 19 18:53:10 2009

Taken in 2005 with the Canon S60.

Given the popularity of my Urban Toronto album, I decided to publish some of my past photos (snapshots, actually, as I put no thought to composition) I snapped walking to/from work. Tomorrow: sex and the city.

Deep Ocean Imaging


Sun Dec 20 09:37:16 2009

For the first time ever, scientists using a new prototype camera have high-resolution photographs and HD video of an volcano erupting on the Pacific ocean floor, "Jason collected samples using its manipulator arms and obtained imagery using a prototype still and HD imaging system developed and operated by the Advanced Imaging and Visualization Lab at WHOI." I was more interested in the technology used to image the volcano:

The unique camera system, developed and operated by the Advanced Imaging and Visualization Lab at WHOI, was installed on Jason for the expedition to acquire high quality imagery of the seafloor...

Designed to operate at depths of up to 7,000 meters, the unique still and video camera system acquired 30-60 still images per second, at the same time generating motion, high def video at 30 frames per second. The system uses a high-definition zoom lens— nearly twice the focal length of Jason’s present standard definition camera.

WHOI Press release

The technical specifications of the Jason ROV's, designed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, lists the 3CCD Atlas camera system ("A professional 850 horizontal resolution, 3-CCD broadcast quality TV camera with superb underwater-corrected optics and 14X Zoom Lens.") made by Insite Pacific. Further searches show that this camera system seems to have been installed in the ROV since 2007. So I don't know if this is the prototype camera system used to photograph the volcano or whether it has been replaced by something else.

Toronto Street Scenes: "Sex and the City"


Sun Dec 20 14:43:01 2009

When I noticed that the woman at the base of the banner was wearing the exact shade of pink as the banner, I had to take the picture. Tomorrow: CN Tower at night.

Toronto Street Scenes: CN Tower at Night


Mon Dec 21 00:03:03 2009

Canon S30, stabilized on post, f/2.8, ISO100, 0.6s

From Friday Foto: Downtown

Photographed in December of 2007, the year when the Tower first began to be illuminated by colourful LEDs. I suppose, a lot of Torontonians take the Tower for granted— we see it every day; it's always there— while two million tourists travel annually from all over the world to see it and be photographed next to it. I always make it a point to look at the tower every day I am in Toronto.

If you look carefully to the left of the tower, between the first and second red lights, you will see a green light of an airplane that took off from the Island airport and is heading west (red navigation light is on the port wing).

Tomorrow: The Senator.

Biggest Panorama in the World


Mon Dec 21 12:07:36 2009

The 26 gigapixel panorama of Dresden seems to beat the claim of 18 gigapixel panorama of Prague which claims to be, "the biggest spherical panorama in the world (as of Dec. 2009)."

All these claims are moot when you consider that the infinite gigapixel Google Streetview is truly the biggest navigable, spherical panorama of the actual world.

Toronto Street Scenes: The Senator Restaurant Window


Tue Dec 22 00:27:31 2009

The Senator restaurant is famous for being the oldest restaurant in Toronto, for the hamburgers and for the live jazz. I have no idea why I took this photograph; maybe it was those three silver things in the window.

Tomorrow: Taxi interference.

Troubling-Light Photography Tips

technique photos

Tue Dec 22 08:25:00 2009

Seven tips for shooting in troubling-light (worse than low-light but not as bad as terrible-light, I suppose) are accompanied by great concert photographs. Some of the tips are obvious; e.g. high ISO and fast lenses; others, like shooting in RAW and fixing the white balance in post are only obvious in retrospect.


technology education

Tue Dec 22 18:16:45 2009

The Bigshot camera is an educational project to teach third-world children about science and engineering. It is made of 20 parts costing about $50.

Toronto Street Scenes: Wellington Taxi


Canon S60 from the spring of 2005. I was in front of the Irish Embassy Pub, photographing the old buildings across the street when this taxi pulled up right in front of me. I don't know if it's a good picture, but again, it's an unusual one.

Tomorrow: A fine balance.

Toronto Street Scenes: Balancing Courier & Sidewalk Repair


Thu Dec 24 00:05:10 2009

Continuing from yesterday's taxi photograph, this next pair of photographs (Canon S60) was taken two blocks further north, at King street. As I was crossing King, I photographed the courier balanced on his bike at a perfect standstill. As I got to the other side, I noticed that to my right, a work-crew was putting the finishing touches on a new sidewalk, so I walked over and photographed that.

More trivia in the commentary of the Picasa albums. Tomorrow: No longer the tallest.

Bob Willoughby, R.I.P.


Wed Dec 23 17:24:56 2009

Bob Willoughby, iconic hollywood photographer, passed away last Friday.

After Avedon, he was my favourite Audrey Hepburn photographer.

Photos Without People


Thu Dec 24 00:14:57 2009

One of the common complaints about Google Streetview photographs is that there are cars and trucks blocking things we want to see in the photographs. I tend to wait until the cars and people have passed by, if possible, before photographing a building (unless, of course, I actually want to photograph the cars and people). I find it makes for "cleaner" compositions.

Yesterday, I was staring at my Urban photo album when I realized that if I removed the photos without people from the album, the remaining photographs showed an empty, deserted city. The photographs with people in them, added life to my photographs and obviously, to the city itself.

It's shameful that I hadn't realized this looking at Frank's or HCB's work— they were photographing life.

It's so obvious, in retrospect.

Toronto Screet Scenes: CN Tower, The Day After


Thu Dec 24 18:31:08 2009

Canon S60: the CN Tower photographed the day after the Burj Dubai surpassed its height.

Toronto Street Scenes: The Senator Mural


Thu Dec 24 18:34:10 2009

Canon S60 in January 2005. Please visit the Picasa album for additional commentary.

Behind the scenes: the image below shows and explains the processing applied to the original photograph to achieve the final image.

Toronto Street Scenes: Yonge-Dundas Panorama

Fri Dec 25 16:47:16 2009

Canon S60 taken in June 2009. Additional commentary on the Picasa album. Tomorrow: 7-11 under construction and hotdog vendor at Old City Hall.

Toronto Street Scenes: 7-11 and Hotdog Vendor


Sat Dec 26 00:43:43 2009

Canon S60 from 2004. The 7-11 under construction and the hotdog vendor are one block away from each other, on Bay street. Tomorrow: TTC streetcar derailment (3 photos).

Toronto Street Scenes: TTC Streetcar Derailment


Sun Dec 27 00:07:13 2009

Canon S60; commentary on the album. If I had to choose a single photograph that described the incident, I would choose the third photograph. Before my epiphany, I would have chosen the second photograph (with the broken pieces but without any people in it). Tomorrow: taking a break (2 photos).

Portfolio: Charles W. Cushman


Sun Dec 27 05:57:00 2009

The most notable aspect of Cushman's photographs, preserved at the University of Indiana, is seeing the 30s, 40s and early 50s in colour (Kodachrome slides using a Contax with a 50mm and a 135mm Zeiss lens).

The largest number of images are from Chicago and California. He also traveled through Europe and parts of Mexico and Canada. The overview link at the archive contains a representative selection of 120 photographs.

I found this photographer via Cary Conover's blog, though I don't remember how I got there.

Toronto Street Scenes: Taking a Break


Mon Dec 28 00:00:35 2009

Canon S60. Arguably prurient, definitely cheeky.

Toronto Street Scenes: CN Tower Glint


Wed Dec 30 10:33:05 2009

Canon S60, summer 2004. Sun glinting off the CN Tower. Tomorrow: sunset in the mountains and canyons.

Toronto Street Scenes: Sunset in the Mountains and Canyons


Thu Dec 31 00:36:52 2009

The first two photographs were taken in 2004 with the Canon S30, while the third was taken last spring with the 50D. Though all three had the shadows and hiligts adjusted to bring out lost detail, the last photo shows the amazing dynamic range of the 50D (3 generations difference from the S30). I was able to reveal the pink clouds in the hilights and building details in the shadows; the detail in the hilights of the first photo were completely lost.

From Friday Foto: Downtown

Note that the Auto Lighting Optimizer function of the 50D was not enabled.

Rule of Thumb for Checking Compositions


Thu Dec 31 17:11:38 2009

When I want to check whether one of my photographs is well composed, I look at the thumbnail image of it in the Finder, at no more than 100 pixels on a side. If I can't tell what it's a photograph of, I crop the image some more to enlarge the subject, and I look at it again. If I've cropped it until there's no more to crop and I still can't tell, then it's a write-off (from a composition point of view).

luis fernandes / / Dec 2009 Canon 50D Journal