Radiant Review: Canon 50mm f1.8 STM

I recently reviewed the Canon 50mm f1.8 STM lens.  The 50mm f1.8 II was the first lens I got after buying my DSLR with a kit lens. I really like the 50mm focal length, and it’s an inexpensive lens for the image quality it offers. I recently upgraded to the newer Canon 50mm f1.8 STM, and I’m impressed with the improvements Canon made while still keeping the fairly low price. Watch my full review below.

Aurora Tips

Weidman Aurora
Weidman Aurora

Travel Marquette interviewed photographer Shawn Malone for tips about viewing and photographing the Northern Lights.  I’ve been following Shawn on Facebook for awhile, and she has made some really excellent images of the aurora.

I’ve only been lucky enough to see the aurora once here in Central Michigan.  That evening I took the aurora shot above, which is currently on exhibit at the Helios Gallery in downtown Mt. Pleasant.  I’m hoping to watch the space weather forecasts more regularly though.  Might as well take advantage of living in the northern latitudes.

Upstate New York 2015

Last summer, we spent a week in Upstate New York.  Here were some shots I took while we were there.

Pismo Beach

While visiting family out in California for the holidays, we went to Pismo Beach for a day. It was a hazy day, so it wasn’t the best environment for catching some clear surfing shots, but that didn’t mean there weren’t some good photo opportunities to be had. Check out the album below.

Photo Walk at Deerfield

I thought it might be fun to create a video of a photo walk. I was out at a local nature park on a winter morning (okay, it was spring, but Michigan doesn’t always behave like the season suggests). In the video, I offer some tips for photographing in the winter, and more specifically in an area like Central Michigan. I also talk a little bit about composition.

Check it out and let me know what you think…

Snocross

A few weeks ago, I went to a Snocross event here in Mt. Pleasant. While I wasn’t able to cover the entire track, I did find a few good spots to capture images from.  Most of the time I was able to keep my shutter speed up above 1/1000 of a second to freeze the fast action.

During the first hour of the event, I was over-using the 10 fps high speed shutter in the camera I was using.  I was capturing RAW to a 32GB CF card, and JPEG to a 32GB SDXC card.  In that first hour I ran through about half of my 32GB memory card.  With my other memory cards at home, I had to re-think my approach and make a few changes.

First, I decided that I didn’t need backups of every photo, so I stopped recording JPEG to the SDXC card.  Now the camera would instead capture everything in RAW and automatically switch to the SD card when the CF was full.

Second, I realized that even though snocross is fast action, I didn’t need a full 10 fps like other sports where tiny changes in position really count.  So I set my low-speed continuous shooting to 6 fps.

The last change I made was in my technique.  As the day moved on, I learned to be more judicious about when the best action was happening, and only held down the shutter at those more intense moments.  Bursts of 20 photos with a lot of throw-away images turned into bursts of about 4-5 photos at the peak of action.  That was about as few photos as I was willing to take, because the first couple photos would usually be waiting for the lens focusing to lock on to the fast-moving subjects.  (For focus settings on the 7D Mark II, I used focus case 1 at the beginning of the day, and then switched to focus case 6 later which I felt helped improve the focus speed.)

By the end of the day I ended up with a full CF card and about 50% of my SD card full, so I had plenty of room.  Next time I’ll not only have this experience to build off of, but I’ll make sure I don’t forget my extra cards at home for a full day sports event.

Hope you enjoy the gallery.  Next up on my Instagram will be some photos I took in December at Pismo Beach.

New Orleans 2016

In January, I went to the American Meteorological Society’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans.  The conference is just under a week long, so I had plenty of time to see the sights and get out in the evenings for some photography.  It was my second time in New Orleans, so I had an idea of places I wanted to visit and things I wanted to do.

New Orleans is unlike any other city in the United States.  It has an exceedingly rich culture, a beautiful variety of architecture, and fantastic night life. You can spend days exploring the French Quarter alone.

Here are the photos I took while on the trip.

Kevin Durant Photographs Super Bowl 50

Most people associate Kevin Durant with the NBA. However, one of his hobbies is photography, and by a stroke of luck he got an offer to cover Super Bowl 50 from the sidelines. It was interesting to see the parallels between his experience photographing the Super Bowl and my own experience photographing a Central Michigan University football game last October.

Read about his experience.

Radiant Review: Canon 70-200 f4L

I thought I would try something new and do a video review of a product. I typically will check YouTube for video reviews of camera gear I’m thinking of buying, just to see what other people say about it in a more visual way.

I’m not much of a video guy, but decided to give it a shot. So here it is, the inaugural Radiant Photography YouTube video: a video review of the Canon 70-200 f4L lens.

I talk about the quality of the lens in the review, but wanted to provide a few examples of what you can expect from the lens.

First up is a sports image. This lens is great for outdoor sports in smaller arenas. It’s not quite long enough for football, but it does a nice job of capturing the in-field of a baseball game. Here’s one shot I made from the stands:

ISO 400, f5.6, 1/1600s.  Notice that even at 1/1600 shutter speed, motion in the frame isn't quite frozen.  This is intentional to show the intensity of the action.
200mm, ISO 400, f5.6, 1/1600s. Notice that even at 1/1600 shutter speed, motion in the frame isn’t quite frozen. This is intentional to show the intensity of the action.

If you are photographing concerts, this is a good focal length to use. Note that most standard ticket-holders aren’t allowed to bring zoom lenses into the venue that are this large. Either you have to use it at an open-air event or have press credentials. Here’s one from a Shubha Vedula concert:

200mm, ISO 200, f4, 1/1250s.  At longer distances, a lot of area still remains in focus at f4.  However, out of focus areas are smoothed out nicely with this lens.
200mm, ISO 200, f4, 1/1250s. At longer distances, a lot of area still remains in focus at f4. However, out of focus areas are smoothed out nicely with this lens.

And another from OK Go:

200mm, ISO 800, f5, 1/800s.  There wasn't much light during this event, but the lens is still bright enough to make some good images.
200mm, ISO 800, f5, 1/800s. There wasn’t much light during this event, but the lens is still bright enough to make some good images.

I mentioned the lens’ macro abilities. Now, the 70-200 definitely isn’t a macro lens, but you can get some nice close-up photography with it.

200mm, ISO 200, f5.6, 1/400s.  Notice that even though I'm at f5.6, the background bokeh is buttery smooth.  The color reproduction is also amazing; this photo has no saturation or contrast adjustments applied.
200mm, ISO 200, f5.6, 1/400s. Notice that even though I’m at f5.6, the background bokeh is buttery smooth. The color reproduction is also amazing; this photo has no saturation or contrast adjustments applied.

Overall a very good lens. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the YouTube comments.