Archive for August, 2007

Canon 35 F/1.4L

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

After realizing that the Canon 1D MKIII was a little too much for my wallet to chew, a good compromise looked like a Canon 40D and some new lenses to cope with the 1.6x crop factor on the new sensor.  The Canon 35 F/2.0 was a major workhorse for me, accounting for probably 40,000 photos taken at National Racquetball events.  Through some research on Fred Miranda, I quickly noticed the 1.4’s benefits of faster USM, sharper photos, and of course an extra stop of light (extremely crucial for low-light sports – like racquetball).

I quickly sold the 2.0 to a colleague, and turned to a “WTB” ad on craigslist to find a primo copy of the 1.4 locally.  Within about 5 mintues of posting the ad, I had a reply from a local photographer wanting to sell his mint copy at the right price.  Needless to say, this lens didn’t dissapoint.  Solid metal construction, tack sharp photos, and wonderful contrast have turned this into one of my favorite Canon primes.

Here is my son learning how to compose with the Digital Rebel (taken with a Canon 1D MKI, F/1.4, 1/30, hand-held):

Breakin’ in the Digital Rebel

Newest Subject

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007

My newest subject makes his modeling debut.  Mooch (named by our 3-year-old) was a skinny little cat who we started to feed.  Now he’s fat, and he’s ours :)  Or maybe, now we’re his.

He’ll let me take 1 or 2 shots and then get scared by the camera, but I’m sure things will change 🙂

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Make Magazine: High Speed Photography Kit

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

I’ve had a vision in my head for a LONG time about a particular shot I want to capture for racquetball photography.  I’d like to compose a tight shot of a player, with the ball clearly visible – and fully compressed against the racquet strings.

Past searches on the internet have yielded electronics kits which had to be assembled; the end result only solving a portion of my problem (light or sound trigger with no interface to a standard photography strobe).  I don’t ming a little hacking, but the parts alone were near $100 – with no guarantee I’d ever be able to get it working without a serious investment in time.

Then I discovered the Make  Magazine High Speed Photography Kit!  A fully designed solution which could trigger via sound or light, and could easily interface to a standard compact flash (like my Canon 550EX).

After some experimenting with the sound trigger and the connection to my flash (via some $25 eBay wireless remotes), I was ready to capture some action.  Off to the garage, I setup the equipment and started taking test shots (like an idiot, I chose to use a black racquetball which is not easy to see).

High Speed Photography

My only problem is that in each photo, the ball is just off the racquet strings.  My theory on this is that the loud sound made when hitting the ball is actually the ball flattening and “snapping” back to shape, not the actual ball hitting the strings.  No matter the sensativity setting, I could never get the flash to fire early enough.

My next test will be a carefully placed ball with a light trigger ($12 Fry’s laser pointer now in hand).

While shooting the 2008 USA Racquetball National Doubles Championships and the 2008 US OPEN, I somewhat accomplished the feat through another method – good ol’ fashioned timing!

These are single shots, not continuous shooting “spray and pray”:

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These shots turned out *ok*, but my goal is to find a way to get these results repeatably, so I can stage the composition and lighting exactly how I want it.