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. This month, I realized that my 50mm/1.4 needed an adjustment to focus properly at wide apertures.

Google Acquires Picnik


Mon Mar 01 18:34:58 2010

Picnik, the online photo editor that Flickr used, has been acquired by Google.

I always wanted a shadow effect around the images in my Picasa album. Perhaps now, that might be possible.

My First Exhibition


Tue Mar 02 12:04:30 2010

The departmental lunch room was recently "renovated" and to keep costs down, instead of re-painting it, I suggested that some of my photos could be used to brighten it up.

Three of my photos (actually, four, but...see below) were chosen and they were printed 18x24 inches (actual 16x22 with a one inch white border) on matte paper, mounted of foam-core and glossy laminated. It was done on-campus for about $30 each. All three photos are available in my Friday Foto album.

The original intent was to have four photographs (one for each season) and a winter photo was actually chosen. I initially shopped around for a printing solution and I chose FedEx/Kinkos on Bay street. I told them my requirements (as above) and told them my budget (not more than $40 per print) was initially verbally quoted $38. The following day, after they printed out my proof and I approved it, I asked them to verify the final price and was told that it was $60!!! After a discussion, it was clarified that the quote was only for the printing and lamination. Grrrr. So I only have a printed and laminated photo.

I will not be printing at Fedex/Kinkos again.

Adams by Karsh


Wed Mar 03 05:04:06 2010

Yousuf Karsh's portrait of Ansel Adams was featured a few days ago on the MoMA Artwork of the Day feed.

I found it odd that Adams was wearing his trademark hat (indoors) and that the crown was cropped out (if he wasn't wearing his hat, though, his entire head would be in the frame). I have been debating the choices made by both the photographer and the subject ever since.

I also noticed that part of the chair is visible in the photo. Why?

Toronto Street Scenes: Filling Up


Wed Mar 03 12:07:25 2010

Seeing the two photos (Canon S60, c.2005) beside each other (the yellows and reds in each photo, along with cars appear in both photographs, so I paired them together), it would probably look better if the ATM photo was cropped in landscape.

Friday Foto: House Sparrows in Berczy Park


Fri Mar 05 07:33:36 2010

Walking through the park one morning, there was a man feeding the sparrows. I began photographing the birds in a continuous burst; this photo was the most interesting one of the sequence. I even managed to catch one of the birds in mid-hop. There are four males and five females in the photograph; see if you can identify them.

10,000th Photo


Sat Mar 06 21:41:34 2010

I took my 10,000th photograph today at 8:36 PM (after IMG_9999.JPG was taken, the camera created a new folder and reset the counter to IMG_0001.JPG).

I was experimenting with lighting still-life with fruits and vegetables using an IKEA LED table lamp and small LED lights. The camera was on a tripod with the 50mm f/1.4, manually focused.

Fabian Bachrach, R.I.P.


Mon Mar 08 08:54:56 2010

Fabian Bachrach descended from a family of photographers who have photographed presidents since Abraham Lincoln.

My Preciousssss


Wed Mar 10 08:03:29 2010

Canon Canada has created the most coveted piece of (photography related) swag evar— a travel mug in the shape of a 70-200/4L IS lens.

The mugs were originally on sale in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics and I'm surprised they didn't sell out then.

I wonder if I can get a filter for it.

Friday Foto: Triad


Fri Mar 12 00:00:35 2010

There are times when my camera and 50mm lens is capable of capturing a scene like never before. This photograph of the Triad sculpture is unretouched: without any sharpening or contrast adjustments.

What is most unexpected, is the colour of the sky. It is deep a Prussian blue because I metered on the bright portion of the scuplture on the bottom right. In the 3 subsequent photos, I metered on the darker portions and the sky is the typical Cerulean blue one usually sees.

I would never photograph people in this harsh winter light, however, it suits this angular metallic object.

50 at Night


Sat Mar 13 08:57:29 2010

Mar 20, 2010. IMPORTANT NOTE: Regarding the focus issues, please also see the Bollocks! post.

This week, beginning on Monday, I practiced night photography with the 50mm f/1.4 lens. For three nights, I left work a bit earlier than usual, and photographed the same subject, but I changed the aperture and metering modes on each night. I had a very productive three nights, both in terms of "keepers" and in lessons learned.

Center-Weighted Average

I usually photographed night scenes in Partial Metering, but on Monday, when I tried Center-Weighted Average metering for the first time, I found that the photographs had even better lighting balance. So Center-Weighted Average metering is my preferred metering mode for night shots.

f/2.2-2.8, ISO400

The 50/1.4 is known to be soft at f/1.4-f/1.8 for anything past about 4-5 feet. On Monday I began shooting at f/2.2 (ISO 400), which produces acceptable results as long as you don't crop too much or look too closely; the f/2.8 photos from Tuesday looked better than f/2.2 but till slightly soft (in hindsight, the problem wasn't the lens but the auto-focus).

f/4.0, ISO400, Manual Focus

On Wednesday, I decided to manually focus my shots (using 5x zoom in LiveView to check) and found a remarkable difference in the sharpness between the auto-focused photographs and the manually focused ones. Sat Mar 13 20:30:18 2010: I also decreased the aperture to at f/4.0 (ISO 400), with the camera stabilized against a lamppost.

I was surprised at the quality of the sharpness of the manually focused photographs when the camera was stabilized against a lamppost, etc. I am debating whether I should try fixing the focus of the 50mm with the AF microadjustment settings on the 50D.

Update Sat Mar 13 10:47:24 2010: I took 31 photos (I took more, but they were deleted on the spot if they were bad) and 12 were keepers (approximately 40% keeper rate).

Update Sat Mar 13 20:37:23 2010: The manually focused photos take longer to setup, so I ended up taking fewer, but better quality photos on Wednesday and more of them were keepers.

Cameras in "Salvador"


Sun Mar 14 14:03:09 2010

There are lots of cameras featured in Oliver Stone's "Salvador" (1986)— mostly Nikons, one Canon and a Leica; the six screen-caps are representative of the gear shown. All the depictions are accurate.

Although photos 1 and 2 (a Nikon and Leica) are supposed to be from the same sequence it looks like there are two different cameras being used: in photo 1, the prism hump seems to have something jutting on the front, which is not present (or visible) on photo 2. Photo 3 shows the Leica (M6?) being used during a demonstration before the assasination of the archbishop and photo 4 shows the photographer, later, secretly photographing summary executions using the Leica (with it's near-silent shutter mechanism). Photo 5 shows the only Canon with an auto-winder, which the photographer uses after his Nikon is confiscated and photo 6 shows a Nikon with a (100mm?) telephoto lens.

Even though James Woods is the star of the movie, he plays a destitute photojournalist who cannot afford camera equipment (his only camera malfunctions during a critical moment), lenses or film and keeps borrowing from the photographer played by John Savage, who is well equipped by UPI (his press-credentials are visible in photo 4).

Leica X1 Isn't Worth the Asking Price


Wed Mar 17 21:11:35 2010

I was seriously considering buying the Leica X1 as a replacement P&S, but based on the sample photos from the reviews I've read, I think my Canon S60 from 2004 took better looking photos (more vibrant, vivid, and sharper) than the X1 does, for a lot less money.

Toronto Street Scenes: Film Festival Poster

Thu Mar 18 00:16:02 2010

Photographing posters on utility poles is another favourite theme. The shutter speed is so high (1/2500s), because I was (inadvertantly) shooting with the previous night's camera settings (ISO 400 in Aperture Priority).

From this fortuitous accident I will remember that (artificially) boosting the ISO in the daytime will result in very fast shutter speeds.

Teal and Orange


Fri Mar 19 19:29:54 2010

Hollywood has taken colour grading of the digital intermediate to an extreme banality.

Memory colours are something to keep in mind when shooting video with DLSRs.



Sat Mar 20 08:42:06 2010

Bollocks: adj. "poor quality" or "useless".

My EF-50mm/1.4 lens required a -20 (the maximum) corrective AF micro-adjustment (using the moire pattern method from the Northlight post) to get properly focused photographs. I am in shock ("shock" as defined by Mr. Spock raising a single eyebrow; but I suppose the past evidence of my slightly-out-of-focus photographs is additional proof that something was wrong with my equipment and that it wasn't user error after all) at this turn of events.

Since I still don't belive that a lens could be so bollocksed, I will be carefully checking the focus of future photographs. But until then, here are the before and after photographs of the moire test so you can compare for yourself:

Before: this is how the 50mm lens focused (f/1.4 auto-focus) normally. Notice that the box on the table is in sharp focus while the LCD screen is not.

After: this is auto-focus with -20 AF microadjustment. The LCD screen is now in focus and the moire test-pattern is visible.

Sat Mar 20 11:46:10 2010: I did not expect such a large variance in product quality from a company like Canon.

Toronto Scenes: Waiting for Pizza


Sat Mar 20 16:18:54 2010

The back-focusing of my 50mm (see the "before" photo of previous post where the box behind the laptop is in focus) is clearly evident in this photograph (taken on March 4); the word "vitamin" is in sharp focus while the woman (who I focused on) is slightly out-of-focus.

Photography Quick-Reference Cards


Tue Mar 23 19:02:03 2010

Some reference cards showing information on various topics including portrait lighting, available light, light fall-off, aperture, reflector setup, etc.

Replacement EF 50/1.4 Rumoured

Wed Mar 24 12:06:46 2010

The current 50 f/1.4 from Canon is one of the most unreliable in the lineup.


Portfolio: Thomas Cristofoletti


Thu Mar 25 13:06:45 2010

When I saw Thomas Cristofoletti's album "My Japan" I was in awe of the look (lighting and composition) he achieved in his photographs. I think it's his best work perhaps because I aspire to exactly that kind of urban photography; his portraits, though, are quite ordinary.

Friday Foto: A Bunch of Pink Roses


Fri Mar 26 00:00:11 2010

This week's photo commemorates the arrival of spring; the roses were a thank-you gift to the departmental secretaries, from a student who had completed her Ph.D.

The photo was composed so that a casual glance would deceive the viewer into believing that it was taken outside in a garden, when in fact the roses were indoors in a glass vase, under fluorescent lights.

This week's photo shows why I love my 50mm/1.4; next week's photo will illustrate why I hate it.

Marty Lederhandler, R.I.P.


Sun Mar 28 09:35:47 2010

Marty Lederhandler, photographer for the Associated Press (employed for 66 years), passed away March 25, aged 92.

luis fernandes / / Mar 2010 Canon 50D Journal