Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Go Canada Go!

I'm a proud french canadian. So when I was told that our amazing olympic and paralympic athletes were coming to downtown Montreal for a parade, I made sure to book an extra long lunch, packed up my new 7D and headed out with a friend to capture the event.

The parade was from 11:30am to 1:30pm and went through most of the downtown core. We got to the end of the parade around 11:15am to ensure we have a decent vantage point, up on some stairs, above the crowd.

Ste-Catherine street was packed, office workers, families, kids...everyone was out waiting to cheer on their favorite athlete. Kids got one of the better seats in the house, sitting on top of their parents shoulders, patiently waiting. The first few people to parade down were the local radio stations and other event sponsors (got to love marketing), followed by some people who were simply trying to get the crowd excited. But trust me, Montreal rarely needs encouragement to be loud.

The first few athletes were carrying flags. They were right close to the crowd, and taking the time to give high fives and sign autographs. I managed to find John Montgomery (gold, skeleton) being his typical excited and happy self. All he was missing was a pitcher of beer in his hands.

Joannie Rochette was an inspiration to all during the olympics. Having lost her mother but a few days before she performed, and still managing to go through it all and bring home a bronze was just amazing. She was the first to come through behind the flag bearers, in a car with the mayor of Montreal

I There are just about 50 photos up on my flickr set , I won't go through them all here. The athletes were really gracious, taking the time to let people touch their medals, talk with some people, pose for pictures. While the crowds were so loud that I couldn't hear a friend of mine calling my name from 5 feet in front of me, I'm not sure who was more excited, us or the athletes

Here are a few images from the parade:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

New gear!

It is known in the photography world that between the camera body and the lenses, the lenses are the more important components. Even to the point of buying a cheaper body if this will allow you to buy better lenses.

But once in a while, you find yourself lagging behind in technology. At the rate that the big boys (Canon and Nikon) pump out new bodies, within a few years, you are behind the curb. I bought my Canon XSI in summer 2008 while it was the newest of the Canon Rebel line and out at the same time as the Canon 40D, their top "pro-sumer" body. From 2008 to spring 2010, Canon upped their Rebel line not just once with the T1i, but a second time with the T2i. Adding in higher ISO, movie modes and so on. They have upped their 40D to a 50D, they came out with the uber awesome full frame 5D MkII and also started with a new top of the line crop sensor camera, the 7D.

I bought the camera not knowing much. It met my needs at the was a dSLR, it fit the 2 Canon lenses I had found in my mom's camera bag, and it was the cheapest. But now that I'm getting into photography and understanding light and how your camera records it, I was in need of an upgrade. The main drivers were higher ISO performance, more weather resistant body and faster shooting speeds.

Cost of a new body ranged from $600 for a used 40D all the way up to $3200 for the 5D MkII, with the others falling in order from the T1i (900), 50D (1200), 5D (1500) and then the 7D (1800).

Decisions, decisions. I work hard for my money, so when I decide to spend it, I want to make sure I am spending in on what is best for me. Here is a bit of my decision thought process:

The flagship model for Canon is the 1D series. But this comes with a price tag of over $5000. Not in my budget and actually not in my current needs. The top of what I can get would be the 5D MkII. However, this would be a full frame camera and my XSI is a crop sensor camera. In changing sensor types, my beloved 10-22mm wide angle lens would no longer work as it can only be mounted on a crop sensor camera (it has the EF-S designation). So not only would I be dishing out $3000 on a new camera, I would need to either replace this lens with the full frame equivalent, the 16-35 which is approx $1500, or not have a wide angle lens. So I'll have to wait longer for the switch to full frame.

I decided to stick with crop sensor cameras and my choices were now the T1i, 50D or 7D.

The debate between the 50D and the T1i is the same I first had in 2008 when chosing between the 40D and the XSI. Back then, I went with the XSI and after 6 months I wished I had the 40D. Not that the Rebel isn't a good camera, as I've loved having it, when you handle a higher end camera, you can easily tell why they are the "entry level" line. The Rebel camera is plastic, small, shoots slower and has some important functions in the menu instead of easily accessible buttons. The xxD line is magnesium body, bigger and shoots usually twice as fast (6.3 fps vs 3.4 fps). Without going into more details, I decided to not repeat the past and go with a higher end line of cameras.

So that left me to decide between the 50D and the 7D. What are the differences? The 7D is fully weather sealed, it shoots 8 fps and has a new autofocussing system (first Canon camera with it), dual processors, a 100% magnification view finder.... basically a bunch of improvements. The 50D is a great camera and I wouldn't hesitate buying it, but its already a little over a year old and will be replaced by the 60D in a few months.

So while I normally go for the cheaper alternative, I decided to go with the new tech and pay more money.

I've had the camera for a few weeks and I must say, it is flippin' awesome. Just for the ease of access of the menu and its button layout alone. The high ISO (I've shot up to 6400) is great, although still not as nice as the 5D MkII. I've done some concert shots at 2000 ISO using a 50mm 1.8 and had great results. I'll have a chance to try the 8 fps along with the new auto focusing system when I actually get to shoot a Montreal Impact soccer game on March 12th. The reviews called this camera the best crop sensor camera out there and say that its made for sports and fast action. I guess we'll see.

Where to go from here? I should be good for 3-4 years with this camera, maybe more. My next step up is full frame. But before getting there, I'll start the journey of getting better lenses so that when I am ready for the switch, I'll have all the lenses to go with the new body. Maybe by that time, the 5D MkIV will be out. I'm also going to be looking at strobes and all the gear that goes with them.

Here are some low light photos from a concert. You can view the full set on my flickr.

These were mostly shot at ISO 2000-3200, f/1.8 - f/2.8 and with a shutter of around 1/30 - 1/80.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Urban art walk

One of my favorite subjects to photograph in a city is graffiti. I'm not talking about tags that people throw out anywhere, but actual art that people have taken the time to create. I have taken photos of graffiti that are no longer there, and others that were commissioned by actual shop owners.

A few weeks ago, I walked down Duluth street from the Lafontaine Park down to about St-Laurent street. Its a great little street to walk down, not much in terms of shops, but it has alot of character. I found some interesting art up on their walls, doors and garages

You can view my full graffiti set on flickr, but here are some highlights from my little Duluth street walk

Face on wall

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Down under and back again!

Still trying to get into the regular rhythm of updating a blog....

So the March trip to Australia has come and gone. Was a great trip, and it’s definitely a place I want to visit again.

A lot of things to see, a lot of things to do, and the people are just so nice. The 13 hour flight from LA to Sydney wasn't all that bad, considering we walked for 8 hours prior to getting on the plane, so we just conked out from being so tired.

I didn't have any issues with camera gear as carry-on. The flight from Montreal to LA was my only worry as the carry-on rules stated I could only have 1 carry-on item and 1 personal item. I had planned on a backpack and a camera bag with my body, lenses and accessories. The rules stated that I could bring a camera bag as long as it only held a camera. So I figured I'd try my luck with my Lowepro Classified as my camera bag, but as a backup plan, I could put all my gear in the bottom part of my backpack, put the Classified in the top part of my backpack and carry it all on, with a possible issue with weight limitations. When I got to the ticket counter at the airport, I asked about the camera bag and they instructed me to go chat with a security official. The only thing the security official asked was whether only camera gear was in the bag, to which I said yes, and I was allowed to carry it on. So tripod packed in my checked bag and the rest of the gear with me, I was able to go on my trip.

I visited different climates, which ended up being a slight strain on my little Rebel. From country living in the wine region, tropical rain forests and the salt water near the Great Barrier Reef to the dry desert with the blowing red sand. Seems that my camera didn't agree with the salt water. While I did my best to keep it safe and stowed away while the boat was moving, I still got some salt water residue between the setting dial and the on/off switch. So each time I would turn the camera on or off, it would change my shooting mode.  What a pain.

I took a total of 3500 photos. Sounds like a lot, but when you visit a place you don't plan on going back, to take as many as you can, different angles, different times. I lost count of how many pictures of the Sydney Opera House I took. Each night, back in the hotel room, I would copy all the photos onto my netbook and do some minor editing so my wife could use some images for her blog.

You can read my wife's travel blog here

Now on to some of the images!

A week or so before leaving, a co-worker showed me his photos from his trip to Hawaii. They were all printed and in a hard cover book, which was a great idea. He told me the site her used to get the book done was

I just finished putting together a 108 page book, which contains over 200 photos and am waiting for shipment. I hope the quality works out. Well, thats a quick summary of the trip.

Hope you like the photos.