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I’ve been thinking about upgrading my macro lens from Canon’s 60mm EF-S f/2.8 model for a while now. I’d done some research and had chosen the 100m EF f/2.8L IS USM version as the replacement.
Today was the day I decided the time had come to buy, so I purchased one locally from Camera World in Chelmsford. They were happy to take my 60mm lens in part exchange and gave me a very fair price for it, which lessened the pain of the cost a little bit.
One reason for choosing the longer focal length was to get the lens further away from some of my water splash shots. With the old lens, I had to spend a significant amount of time wiping it down if I was having a particularly messy splash session.
Another was the attraction of Image Stablisation on this lens. I tend to be lazy and hate carrying a full sized tripod around with me in the field, although I do often pack my large Gorillapod. But IS offers the possibility of another couple of stops’ worth of depth of field without suffering camera shake.
I initially made a few quick images around the town and inside the Cathedral. Then I decided to take it on a fungus hunt on Galleywood Common and was very pleased with the resulting pictures. This one nearly made it for Day #1765:
First impressions are very positive. It handles well and seems to be quickly responsive to focus, even in low light. It produces a soft creamy bokeh at wide apertures, making subjects appear to pop out of their background. At small apertures, it appears to be sharp right across the frame, without significant softening or vignetting at the corners.
I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces properly over the next few months, but meanwhile, here’s a selection of pictures I made with it today:
We visited Mark’s Hall Arboretum near Coggeshall to see if we could find some Autumn colour. The sun shone a little bit for us – and the lunch from the café was also very welcome – sometimes it’s not all about the photography!
Here is the selection of images I made during our visit:
I’ve had my boxroom set up as my little photographic studio for nearly a year now. Today I acquired a new Splash Art Kit II (more of which anon) for my high speed water splash photography. It’s quite a bit larger than the Camera Axe system and I want to be able to leave it more or less set up permanently, rather than having to derig the wet kit when I want to take dry shots for tabletop and still life subjects.
So today I had a mammouth reorganisation of the studio, tidied everything up and rearranged the tables. Now I’ve got one side for dry shots (for toys etc) and a permanent home for the Splash Art Kit. Plus lots of lovely room under the tables for storage of all my bits and pieces.
I’ve been doing some one-to-one and one-to-two photographic coaching and this morning I had the pleasure of a session with Simon and his lovely wife Alicia, who were both keen to hone their compositional skills and seeing eye.
We met up at the British Museum in London for a hour’s chat about the basics (the sort of subjects covered in my Taking Better Pictures tutorials). Then we spent some time talking about some of their photographs – what worked, what didn’t, what they liked and how they could be improved.
Having got the theory out of the way, we then spent another couple of hours roaming about inside and outside the Museum making pictures from what we could see in the covered courtyard and gardens out the front. Gerald and Gerald Jr also came along to help model and demonstrate the effects of side lighting and shadows for portraiture.
Both Simon and Alicia seemed to get a lot out of the session and have vowed to follow up with another one on the more technical aspects of photography, when time with their young family allows.
I will also be giving them some feedback on the pictures which they made during the day. It’s a very satisfying feeling when people have learned from you and have gone away with renewed enthusiasm for their photography. I look forward to coaching them again (and other people) in the future. Here are a few more images I made during the session:
At the beginning of October Alistair was staying for a week or so. We managed to get out and about for some geocaching and I took a few interesting shots along the way. These two were from a blustery day on Southend Pier:
And these two monos were from a walk around Great and Little Braxted:
The next week I played host to long-time Flickr friend Ken Scott (touchingthelight) who was in Essex for a short lecture tour. We grabbed a bit of light when we could, making some pleasing shots in Maldon and around Writtle/Hylands Park closer to home.
This shot nearly made it for best picture on Day #1747:
Photography can be rather a solitary past time, so it’s always good to get together with like-minded friends from time to time.