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Canon’s top end autofocus system – hard to beat at the airshow

September 4th, 2014 No comments
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I recently had the pleasure of shooting another airshow, Thunder Over the Boardwalk, in Atlantic City, NJ. I’ve photographed the airshow a few times now, and have been trying to get something other than sharp shots of fast planes and jets in flight, against an open sky.  So, this year, I positioned myself with some obstacles, mainly palm trees, in my line of sight, and tried capturing the planes and jets framed by, or in the frame with the aircraft.

I was shooting with the Canon 5D Mark III and the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens. I set the AF mode to AI Servo, the drive to high speed continuous and tweaked the AF setup to a slightly modified “tennis man” setting which keeps focus on the subject, trying to ignore obstacles that enter the frame.

I’ll let this great article at dpreview.com explain a lot more about those modes and settings, but the photos I was able to capture with a solid panning technique were stunning. I keep hearing a lot about people switching to some mirrorless system, or wanting Canon and Nikon for that matter, to produce one, but for now, I will stick with mirrored Canon, especially for this sort of shooting.  Will mirrorless get there – probably, but the AF systems just don’t seem to be there yet.  Do you have an image from a mirrorless that will prove me wrong?  Let me know in the comments.

Here are a few examples of what I was after:

USAF Thunderbirds passing through the palms

Bird's eye view

Those are some different birds in the trees!

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Long Exposure at the beach

July 5th, 2013 No comments
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On June 29, Scott Wyden Kivowitz and I held a long exposure photography workshop in Asbury Park, NJ. After the workshop was over, Scott, Gevon, and I walked down to the beach and had some fun shooting some long exposures and enjoying some great tacos.

I walked away with a few shots I really like, this one being my favorite for now. I decided on Walrus for the rock, but stone turtle, or Elephant Seal crossed my mind.  Have a different idea for the rock there?  Leave a note in the comments with your suggestion!

Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II
33 seconds @ f/16 @ ISO 100
Filters: Lee Big Stopper + Lee .6 ND Soft Grad

Walrus Rock by Joseph Hoetzl (jhoetzl)) on 500px.com
Walrus Rock by Joseph Hoetzl

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A quick way to get the most from your umbrella

September 13th, 2012 No comments
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I’ve seen a few articles on how to setup your flash/strobe with an umbrella to get maximum coverage, but none as easy as the one my dad pointed out to me. So, I thought I’d share this quick and easy way to get your umbrella setup in your umbrella adapter or your flash head.

Since we have immediate gratification with digital photography, this is very easy to achieve. Set your umbrella in the mount (For the umbrella adapter style mount, make sure you have it installed the correct way) to approximately where you think it belongs on the umbrella shaft, then, bring it in a little closer, or, choke up on it. Using a standard umbrella, even through the black, your flash’s light pattern is clearly visible.

Too Close

Too Close

Getting there…

Ahhh, just to the edges…

Now, go on the other side of the umbrella, the top if you were using it in rain (not recommended), yes, for both shot through, and for opaque/black backed ones, and take a photo of it. Look at your display – do the edges look dark? Bring the umbrella out a little, take another shot, there yet? Rinse, repeat, until you get the desired result.

The same technique also works for shoot-through umbrellas. Drop your flash power a bit if you can’t catch the pattern.

Too Close

Too Close

Getting there…

When you finally find the spot, mark it – sharpie, scratches, some way of marking the umbrella shaft so you can setup quicker.  There may be a time when you want to use the distance between the flash and the umbrella “creatively”, but this technique works for all those situations.

Enjoy!

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