Canon EOS-M, More time with the Little Camera!

So it has now been a little time since I picked up my little Canon EOS-M Mirror Less camera. So what have I thought about it?

To sum it up, I still love this little camera! It still is as fun to use today as it was the first time I pulled it out of the box. The kit is small and lightweight and I end up pretty much grabbing it every time I leave the house. There are a few things that kind of niggle at me and hopefully these will be addressed by Canon with a future version of the body but they are little things.

I don’t have a lot to add about about the image quality than I already did in my first post. It is very good, low light performance is OK but not stellar. Video performance is also very good but I do suggest using an external microphone if you need to record sound.  There are lots of reviews that talk about the image quality out there and I will let the posted photos speak for the camera and lenses. Everything on this page was shot with the 18-55 F4 – 5.6 IS STM Kit lens.

I ended up taking the camera with me on our family trip to Kauai for 3 weeks this summer and again it pretty much came everywhere with me. I also used it to put together some documentation for visitors at using our place on how to store and load our Kayaks and this also included shooting some video. The camera performed great and I was really impressed with it. My EOS-M, the lens adaptor, flash, 2 spare batteries, my IR remote, some step up filter rings, my 77mm Polarizer filter, a lens cloth and lens pen as well as one other lens (smaller than my 70-200 F4 L all fit in a small Lowe Pro Event 100 Messenger bag! For travel I took the filters and the other lenses out and carried the battery charger. When I was heading out to explore or even just go to the store, I just grabbed this bag and away I went with a kit that would work for almost everything that I wanted to do and that was light and easy to carry around.

While we were there my daughter and I went on a kayaking trip to a place called the Secret Falls. The only access is by kayak or stand up paddle board and since I have a sit on top kayak with very little dry storage we picked up a couple of dry bags for the trek. Since I had never used a dry bag before I didn’t really trust my 5D MK III and some of my L lenses in the bag so I grabbed the EOS M kit. We paddled up the river (dry bag worked flawlessly) and I was able to get some shots of the falls and some smaller falls along the hike with the travel tripod I had and the EOS-M. I am including a few of these images and was very happy with them.

So I wanted to address the few points I wasn’t happy from my first post about this camera that I wasn’t really impressed with with the EOS-M.

The strap system – Yes this still drives me nuts but the default camera straps does come off really easily and I picked up a Black Rapid Metro strap to use with it too. Based on how I am using the camera I can use either strap to carry it. While I haven’t looked into this much recently, I should be able to remove the clips from the Canon supplied strap and use them with a smaller UpstrapPro strap which are my favourites for my cameras.

IR Remote – OK not a big deal but would still love the ability to connect an intervalometer remote to the camera for things like time lapse or timed long exposures. One night while shooting the Milky Way in Kauai, I did try the EOS-M for fun and used the touch screen LCD to trigger the camera for some 30 second long exposures. It worked well and I actually got some decent images.

Milky Way Photo
Milky Way @ Hanalei Valley Lookout

Tethering – Still wish this was available especially now with devices like the Cam Ranger out there!

A little more prolonged use did bring up one thing that did make me a little crazy as well. It is sometimes too easy to activate the touch shutter on the LCD while carrying the camera on a strap turned on. I ended up with a few shots of feet, ground, back etc while carrying the camera over my shoulder on a strap. But that was really about it.

Another thing that I was a little perturbed about was on the lenses and not the camera. On the EF-M lenses there are no distance scale markings! When we were trying to shoot the Milky Way I had to use trial and error to try and find the infinity focus point on the camera instead of being able to manually set it on my other lenses. This is something that is missing from all of the EF-M lenses. It has probably been removed to keep the size of lenses down but it is a little frustrating if you are in the dark and your subject is too faint for the LCD screen (or the viewfinder on my 5D MKIII for that matter). It least with my other lenses with the scale on them I could quickly swing to close to infinity and fine tune as opposed to just guessing taking a 10 or 15 second shot then trying to adjust and then shoot again.

Also would love to have the ability to store some custom user settings in the camera. For example to set up Auto Exposure Bracketing shooting in C1 or Fast shutter speed in C2 but I guess these functions are not on the Rebel series either. It would be nice to see in a future version though.

I was able to shoot some fast moving objects without to much issue (AI Servo and continuous shooting) but I wouldn’t call this a super fast camera. I shot the kids while we were out on a zipline excursion.

Breanna Zipline
Breanna Zipline Princeville, Kauai
Jaxin Zipline
Jaxin on the Zipline, Princeville, Kauai

 

One thing that a lot of reviewers complained about was using the LCD in bright sunlight. I was often shooting on a sandy beach in Kauai during the middle of the day and found that if I turned up the LCD brightness I really didn’t have an issue. In fact I put the LCD Brightness adjustment on my custom menu so I could access it with one touch of a button on the camera. And if I had my larger camera bag with me as well I knew I also had my Hoodman Loupe in there that I could use if needed. I never needed it!

Another really cool little feature I found was that if I set up Auto Exposure Bracketing, then set the camera for 2 second self timer and used the touch shutter it would go ahead and fire all three shots without another touch! I have to try it again but I think the same thing happened if I used my IR remote. Once I discovered this though I didn’t use the IR remote as much as I normally would have. Using the camera in Bulb mode with the touch shutter allows triggering by touching the screen and closing the shutter by touching the screen a second time. A little consolation for not having the ability to connect a remote trigger.

Small Waterfalls
Some Water falls along the path to Secret Falls Kauai

So after some longer term use of the camera what do I think? I still do have fun using it! I could see myself easily taking this as my sole camera on a trip where I wanted to have a camera for photographic opportunities but wasn’t planning on getting the grand landscape shots.. like a cruise or a business trip. I would still feel comfortable using this camera as a sole body for this purpose though but the selection of lenses that are available would also dictate that I grab a couple of my larger lenses which would make the kit a little less compact and lightweight defeating the purpose. While I was at Photoshop World in early September I was able to get a slightly larger bag at a pretty big discount (the Think Tank Mirror Less Mover 30i) to carry the camera and lenses if it is going to be my sole camera when travelling because I can fit at least one of my larger EF Lenses in there..  If I am going with the intention of taking time to shoot and may require a larger selection of lenses I would likely be hauling the DSLR and Lenses with me .  I do however grab this camera virtually every time I leave the house. I am also hoping that Google will approve it for their Google Business Photos Program! This way I could use it to shoot my panoramas and not use my 7D and use up shutter actuations on it.

Recently the price for the kit dropped to 399.00 CAN making this almost a no brainer for any existing Canon Shooter that might be looking for a travel camera. This is less than some of the higher end point and shoot cameras that are out there. I recently picked one up for a family member to replace a Canon Rebel XT and with the adaptor to use their Tamron 18-270 mm Zoom. At this price though they are getting harder and harder to find!

I believe the recent price drop has something to do with the rumours that there are two new EOS-M cameras being released in the near future. There is a current rumour showing a Canon manual with a reference to the M2 on this story at Canonrumours.com

One is said to be a replacement for the current model and the other will be a more “pro” version with a add on viewfinder and more features (maybe custom user settings please). Another rumour that has recently surfaced is that with these bodies a new 55-200 IS STM will be released. If this holds true with the standard 18-55 kit lens,  the 11-22mm Wide Angle and the rumoured 55-200 this could be an awesome little travel camera package. Hopefully these rumours are true.

I am hoping to get one of the 11-22mm Lenses so that I have a wide angle for travelling and since my birthday is coming up I may have to treat myself! It has been getting some pretty good reviews online.

As I stated, I hope that the rumours are true and that Canon does not abandon the EOS-M line (I don’t think they will). They did a decent job with V 1 of the camera although I felt they did price it too high to start with. Add one of their new sensors like in the T5i or the 70D with a few more pro features (tethering and Remote capabilities) and they could have a great little camera on their hands that even Canon Pro Shooters would love to own! Right now if you can find one of the EOS-M cameras at the current pricing I wouldn’t hesitate to get one! It truly is a great fun little camera.

Some of my EOS-M Images!

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MacJac Art and Stephen Kennedy Photography

 

I have recently made some of my images available for purchase and printing over at macjacartwork.com! MacJac Art is a site that uses a technology that allows you to have images printed on many types of materials and sizes and you can crop the images into several different forms. If you want to create a triptych or a 9 panel print of one of my images you can do that using their cropping tool. There are lots of possible printing options. Their site allows you to choose the size, the format and the material that the images are printed. This gives you the ability of customizing the image to fit the space you are looking for and can create some pretty unique looks with the final image.

Please browse and share my gallery over there and if you like one of my images, consider having one printed with them.

macjac

I will continue to offer Limited Edition, Signed Prints, Artist’s Proofs, Exclusive’s  and prints on some specialized media here via my website.

Thank you for your support!

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Posted in Fine Art, For Sale, Prints, Products, What's New |

The Devastating Power of Mother Nature!

When I was a teenager I spent two summers working at Camp Cadicasu when it was located in the Bragg Creek Area. Elbow Falls in Kananaskis Country was only about a 25 minute bus ride away from the camp site and was a weekly destination for the camp counsellors and campers. We spent a lot of time there over the summers. One time a fellow counsellor and myself did something completely stupid and jumped off the high cliff to the left of the image below into the pool at the base of falls. Both of us survived the jump but others haven’t been so lucky in the past and my partner in crime suffered a cracked sternum from our stunt!

As I grew up I also continued to head there quite bit, sometimes when I just needed to be on my own and in later years to try and capture some images of the falls. The last time I visited was in August of 2011 when I captured the following image.

Elbow Falls AB Sunset
Sunset at Elbow Falls August 2011

Just last week I decided to go back to the falls to do a little light painting experiment of a grand landscape and thought that Elbow Falls would make a great subject. We had devastating floods in June of 2013 that really changed the local landscape and wiped out homes and businesses and changed peoples lives throughout Southern Alberta. It was my first time back to the falls since the flooding and I wanted to see how much it changed. Quite a bit I found out! Below is an image shot in September 2013 from just about the exact spot I took the image above.

Sunset at Elbow Falls AB - September 2013
Sunset at Elbow Falls AB – September 2013

As you can see things have really changed and while the falls are still beautiful and awesome to view they just aren’t quite as majestic as they once were. Notice that the trees to the left are completely gone and the river now runs down the far left side instead of straight down. Also where the river used to run there are deposits of gravel and the trees and pathways that used to be there (along with picnic tables, fire pits and benches) are all washed away! Who knows if that particular spot will ever be the same again. Will it be another 100 year s or even 1000 years before the river reverts back to it;s original and what I think more picturesque path. Mother Nature sure is powerful when she is angry and I have new respect for the power of water. While I was in the area I also walked up a couple for the creeks that feed into the Elbow River and saw lots of materials deposited by the waters as they rushed towards the Elbow River! It will really be quite a while before this area is back to normal again.

If you would like to purchase an image of the falls and remember it the way many of us growing up in the Calgary region did, I have made a digital download, personal license available over at my 500px site. The image is 3.00 + applicable taxes and can be used as desktop background or for non commercial web publication.

I also have two Artist’s Proofs of this image available for immediate delivery printed on Canvas with stretcher bars. Suitable for immediate hanging. Please contact me if you are interested. 30% of the proceeds of the sales of these Artist’s Proofs will be donated to the Southern Alberta Flood Relief Efforts.

Prints in various sizes are also available here!

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First Impressions–Canon EOS M Mirror Less

(Note August 2013: I had meant to publish this post prior to going away or at the very least while I was away. When I went to start publishing the follow up to this article I realized I never did publish it)

When Canon first announced their late entry into the mirror less camera market back about a year ago, my first thoughts were that this could easily be my new pocket camera. What was not to like? 18 MP APS-C sized sensor, Digic 5 processing, basically a Canon Rebel T4i in a package that was only slightly bigger than a Canon Powershot S100. They announced that 2 lenses would be available at release as well. These were the EF-M 22 mm F2 STM lens and the EF-M 18-55 mm F3.5 –5.6 IS STM lens. Both lenses featured the new Canon M lens mount. Also announced at the same time was an adaptor that allowed the user to mount any Canon EF or EF-S lens to the tiny body with no loss of light or compatibility issues including full auto focus. OK, this was starting to look really interesting! Then they also announced a flash unit, 90EX specifically designed for this camera but that also has the ability to control other Canon Speedlites and can be used on any Canon camera with a hot shoe. Now I am really interested. Announced pricing didn’t seem to bad at about 850.00 CAN for the kit with the body, 18-55mm lens and the 90 EX flash.

EOS_M_18_55_with_Flash
EOS-M with Kit EF-M 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 Lens and EX 90 Speedlight

I have always loved shooting my larger Canon DSLR bodies and I have made a substantial investment in Canon lenses in particular my collection of L series lenses. I don’t mind carrying a big DSLR around for the day and both my 7D and my 5D MK III also have battery grips attached to them making them larger and heavier. But I have always wanted a smaller camera that was close to pocket able and offered great image quality, the ability to shoot in RAW and was decent in low light. I had purchased a Canon G1 X to be that camera, (I have owned several of the G series cameras) and that camera almost lived up to my expectations. Image quality is very good and low light performance was also very good due to the larger than previous sensor. However, I do find that the G1 X is slow to autofocus and then is sluggish when trying to shoot a couple of images in rapidly.

The EOS M was due out in the fall of 2012, so I had to wait to get my hands on it. I did see some interesting blog posts where different photo web sites had mounted Canon 800mm F4 IS L lenses on this tiny little body and it did look quite humorous. I was also blown away that one could actually do that! Some of the early complaints about the camera was that it lacked a view finder and relied heavily on a touch screen interface to apply a variety of settings.

When the camera was finally released in November 2012, I read the reviews closely and I have to say they really scared me away from the camera. The lack of a viewfinder turned off several reviewers, several complained about the lack of available lenses although the adaptor worked well. Then what I considered the killer for me was it was reported over and over that the auto focus system on the camera was incredibly slow. Strangely the camera was slow to focus when you half pressed the shutter button but was faster when you used the touch shutter on the body (fire the camera by touching the LCD screen). This was a big stop sign for me. I wasn’t planning on using the camera for shooting sports but if my G1 X was slow to auto focus I didn’t want a smaller camera that would be the same. I put away my thoughts of picking one up thinking that Canon would get it right with the next body. My G1 X has a viewfinder even though I rarely use it however I almost exclusively shoot through the view finder on my DSLR bodies.

There have been continuous rumours that Canon is developing a more Pro like body of the EOS M that would come with a view finder and more pro features. I resigned myself to the fact that I would wait till that one came out.

In February 2013, I finally got to play around with the EOS M at the Canon Image Centre in Calgary. To me the autofocus didn’t seem to be too bad on the camera and I could see it was extremely well built (like a tank) from magnesium alloy and not plastic. Design wasn’t that exciting as it is basically a black rectangle. I didn’t have long to play with it but I wasn’t completely turned off by it either, again the idea of using any of my lenses on this little body was  starting to intrigue me again.

Eos M Compared with G1 X
Size Comparison from above. EOS-M and Canon G1X

Then in early June of 2013, Canon announced that a firmware update was coming for the EOS M that would dramatically improve the autofocus system ( up to 2.3 x faster) and that it would be released at the end of June. OK, Canon you got my attention again! Then around the middle of June some videos started to surface of the EOS M with the new firmware comparing it  to the old firmware. It did appear to be much better at auto focus speeds over the previous firmware.

I started looking at some of the older camera reviews ignoring the complaints about the lack of a view finder and the slowness of the autofocus and looked at what was being said about the image quality from the camera. Ok, excellent image quality, decent but not outstanding low light performance, poor battery life, but a well built somewhat boring camera. Poor battery life can be fixed easily enough by purchasing an additional battery so I discounted that issue. Low light performance could be boosted by using a faster lens on there as well. I really started to get excited about the EOS M once again!

I kept on reading and watched the prices which by the way have substantially dropped from the original release prices. You can now get the kit with 90 EX Flash and 18-55mm IS STM lens for 499.00 and the body and 22mm F2 lens are 479 (prices are local here from http://www.thecamerastore.com in Calgary. Our friends in the US can get much better pricing on the camera from outlets like B and H and Adorama. I went to visit my friends over at The Camera Store here in Calgary and picked up the kit as well as the EF to EF-M lens adaptor because I knew there I could purchase the camera, test it for a few days and return it if I wasn’t satisfied. (Update August 2013 – prices are lower than quoted above as well)

EOS - M with EF Adaptor and EF 70-200mm L IS II
EOS-M with EF Adaptor and EF 70-200 MM F2.8 L IS II lens

The day I got the camera, the firmware was released by Canon but I held off updating it and tested the camera a little before doing anything. While this isn’t a comprehensive review I want to touch on a few of the points that I found in using the EOS M. I will be taking the tiny little thing on an upcoming trip to put it through some further testing.

The first thing I really want to say about the camera is that it is really a fun little camera to use! It is a little more than pocket able with the the 18-55 mm zoom on it but with the smaller lens I could see it as a pretty unobtrusive little camera. The image quality is actually very good and the low light performance is not too bad. I do like using the touch screen as I can change my aperture or exposure compensation as fast or faster than I can with my DSLR bodies and be back shooting again and I really like the fact that I can move my focus point simply by touching the LCD screen where I want focus to fall. The touch shutter is a neat feature and I find that I will probably use it sometimes. The only thing is I have to remember to turn it off after using it!

The camera body is small is fits very comfortably in my hands. I have tried shooting with almost every lens that I own including my 100 – 400 F4.5 – 5.6 L IS zoom lens. I have even shot with my 70-200 F2.8 with both the 1.4 x and the 2 X tele-converters mounted.

With the EF M lens I didn’t actually find the autofocus all that bad prior to installing the firmware. The camera did hunt a bit in low light but in good light I would say it was slightly faster than my G1 X. It did struggle in certain situations where there wasn’t much contrast in the scene but every camera will  to some degree (think blue sky). A little tip I came across when reading all of the reviews about the camera and a method of speeding up the autofocus was to turn off continuous auto focus in one shot mode. I found this made a big difference in speed and helped with some of the frustration as I could focus and recompose as opposed to focusing, recomposing and then having the camera try to focus again. There is an AI servo mode so if I need continuous focus I would likely turn this feature on instead!

There are a few little things that I don’t like about the camera,  but these were not  big enough factors for me to take the camera back.

Firstly, the camera has a new system for installing a camera strap. There are simply two lugs on each side of the body and the Canon supplied strap has proprietary clips to attach to the body. I hate this system as I would prefer to use one of my favourite straps (the Upstrap Pro) on the camera with quick releases. I haven’t looked hard but I am trying to find a smaller tripod mount sling strap than my Black Rapid for the camera itself.

Secondly, No port for a camera remote. This camera only offers IR remote firing and no way to hook up a wired remote or Intervolumeter to the camera! This makes it almost impossible to do time lapse photography with it which I think it would be very well suited for! I do have an old Canon RC1 infra red release so I will use that.

Thirdly, No tethered shooting! I can’t hook this camera up to my laptop running the EOS software and control the camera using USB or even hook it up to my tablet for Live View shooting and viewing!

 

Lens I tested with EOS- M
Lens I tested with EOS-M. From L 40mm STM, Sigma 10-20, Canon 17-40mm F4 L, Canon 24-105 F4 L, Canon 85mm 1.8, Canon 100mm F2.8 Macro, EF 70-200 F4 L IS, 70-200 F2.8 L, 100-400 F4.5-5.6 L IS Canon 1.4 tele Converter. Shot with Tamron 28-75 F2.8 on EOS-M

I am including a few images that I shot with this camera when I first started playing with it! I am planning on taking this camera with my as my primary secondary camera on our upcoming trip. I hope to put the camera through it’s paces over a couple of weeks in Kauai! I should have a post up upon our return with more thoughts on the camera so stay tuned.

Horse Smelling Flowers
Smelling the Flowers
Bre Portrait
My daughter Breanna shot outdoors, natural light.
Kids on Stampede Ride
Jaxin and Breanna on a Calgary Stampede Midway ride.
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Sometimes Crap Happens… Trying Again!

I posted a while back here on my blog that I was going back to one of my favourite places to photograph in the world! Well we did go but due to circumstances my mind was not really on shooting and I didn’t get a lot of the images I was looking for! I did come away with a couple but like I said my mind was not really into shooting during the trip.

We had arrived in Kauai on Thursday, May 16th and had planned on being there until the Friday the 25th. We were there as a family group, my parents, 3 sisters and their kids and our family, to celebrate my parents 50th Anniversary! I was going to shoot the renewal ceremony that had been arranged as well as taking off to do some sunrise and sunset shots while there. I knew there were 2 nights that I wouldn’t be able to shoot sunsets due to planned family dinners.

After we got there my son just didn’t seem to be himself. He had lost a lot of weight recently which we figured was due to a 3 inch growth spurt since Christmas and he seemed a little tired. Saturday he wasn’t feeling very well. Sunday we had a surf lesson booked for the kids but my son Jaxin wasn’t well and we assumed he had just gotten something at school prior to leaving. He stayed back at the condo with my wife and I went out with the kids. When I returned he felt a little better but not a lot. Some nausea a headache etc. I ended up falling asleep at around 8:30 PM after getting up for a sunrise shoot that morning and being active all day. The kids went to the hot tub at around 9 and coming back Jaxin felt very light headed. He complained of stomach pains that were getting more severe. As the night progressed he started having more pain and then around midnight started having difficulties breathing. My wife was sitting with him the whole time. At about 1 AM he started to throw up and it didn’t stop. At 3 AM my wife woke me up saying she was really worried so we decided to take him from Princeville to Lihue (about a 40 minute drive) to the hospital.

We left a note for my parents and told my daughter we were going and were on our way by 3:15 AM. Jaxin was starting to really moan in pain and was struggling to breath. I was sticking fairly close to the speed limit as but as we drove further down the road he seemed to be in more pain and my foot got a little heavy on the accelerator! I was actually hoping to be pulled over thinking I might get an escort to the hospital!

We arrived at the Wilcox Memorial Hospital Emergency room in Lihue at about 3:45 and I dropped Cindra and Jaxin off at the door. I parked the car and came into the ER and by then Jaxin was already on a bed in the ER. The doctor looked at him and shrugged his shoulders then told us they were sending him for a CT scan of the abdomen. Not what a parent wants to hear! I went out called my travel insurance company and came back to the ER. While I was sitting in the room waiting for Jax to come back I heard the Dr. and the nurse saying that this now made sense. I went to the nurse’s station where I was asked if there was a history of Diabetes in our families. I said no and was told that Jaxin was in Diabetic Shock or DKA with extremely high blood sugar levels. He could be treated and the disease could be managed but he had to be medevac’d to the pediatric intensive care unit at the children’s hospital on Oahu! By 4:45 we were advised that they were getting the transfer team and aircraft together on Oahu and the doctor in the Lihue ER was on the phone with the on call endocrinologist in Oahu. An insulin drip was started and they kept testing his blood sugars which slowly started coming down but still remained high!

My parents brought Breanna down from Princeville at around 6:30AM and we sat with Jax for a bit. THe transfer team arrived around 6:45 – 7:00 AM and started prepping Jaxin for the flight to Oahu. By 8 AM he and Cindra were in an ambulance on the way to the Lihue Airport. By 9:00 AM he was in the Pediatric ICU at the Kapiolani Medical Center in Oahu!

Jaxin and Cindra spent 2 days in the ICU unit in Oahu were Jaxin stabilized fairly quickly and was diagnosed with Type 1 or Juvenile Diabetes. They then another day and night in a regular room and we had them flown back to Kauai on Thursday morning. While this has changed all of our lives, Jaxin is doing well and we are managing his diabetes and trying to help him have as close to normal of a lifestyle as possible.

A big thank you to all the Dr’s and nurses we dealt with at both Wilcox Memorial Hospital in Lihue and Kapiolani Health Center for Women and Children 0n Oahu! The care was excellent from start to finish!

Also a lesson to be learned, do not travel without some sort of travel health insurance!

Needless to say from Monday on I spent most of my vacation on my cell phone or on my system at the condo texting Cindra to get status updates and to find out more. Once the diagnosis was made Cindra and I decided that Bre and I would stay in Kauai with the rest of the family and go ahead with the renewal ceremony and the planned family dinners to try and have a normal vacation!

Even though I did go out with Bre I was constantly with my phone waiting for updates and asking questions! My mind was not into shooting or anything else!

I did manage to get down to Queen’s Bath near Princeville, I believe on Wednesday night and get some sunset pictures and came away with an image I am reasonably happy with! But I really didn’t get out all that much after the incident! The few images I have are from the first few days we were there before Jaxin was rushed to hospital! Our sunset at Ke’e Beach was a bust due to an uninteresting sky but I did mange to improvise and got a couple of good shots.

Kilauea Lighthouse Sunrise

GhostsI recently found a seat sale and in the very near future we are heading back to give us all, but especially Jaxin and Cindra the vacation they didn’t have again! This time we are heading out for a couple of weeks so lots of time to get out shooting! There are several locations I have been scouting and will be sure to try to get to these locations over the 2 weeks we are there. In addition I have a Canon EOS M that I have been testing (what a fun little camera) and that will be coming along to be used as a second body and walk around camera!

We are all really looking forward to going back and visiting and this time I hope my mind will stay clear to get some nice shooting in!

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Photographing Kauai!

Well it now looks like I am going to be able to go on a trip with the family to one of my favourite places to shoot in the near future! The rest of the family was always going but I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it but now I am.

The Hawaiian island of Kauai is one of my favourite places to shoot in the world. The scenery is breathtaking and there are lots of options for photographers to shoot. For the past couple of weeks while it looked like I was pretty sure I was going I have been researching more areas to shoot. I have spent time on Flickr and 500px searching for images of Kauai and some of the specific locations I want to get to. I have been going over Google Maps and looking at different locations to try and get to as well. I have also been reading my guidebook that was suggest to me last year (Kauai Revealed) and have also purchased their Android App to load on my phone and tablet. The app is also available for iPhones and iPads. Although we have visited Kauai many times in the past, I have found all kinds of information from the guide book that I wouldn’t have know! The company also puts out guides for the other Hawaiian Islands, that while I don’t own any currently, I will be sure to pick up before I visit one of those islands next.

Unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of staying almost 3 weeks like I was lucky enough to last summer and this trip will only be for 8 days, so I have to plan my shoots fairly closely and hence all the research I have been doing.

Double Rainbow to Start the Day!Hanalei Pier @ SunriseHanalei Bay, Kauai, Hi. August 2012

As usual my 5D MKIII and various Canon lenses will be coming on the trip as well as my tripod and a couple of interesting bits of kit. I actually spent the beautiful spring afternoon here getting the settings for various lenses with my new Hejnar Photo Nodal Slide! I hope to get a tutorial up in the near future on how to find the no parallax point for each lens, but in a nutshell the slide allows me to position my camera and lens so the no Parallax point is directly over the nodal (pivot point) of my tripod. If you are shooting panoramas (especially with foreground elements) or just want to be able to stitch together a slightly larger resolution file,  this is an important piece of gear!

The slide allows you to pivot the lens at the nodal point and helps improve stitching in modern software for larger shots. It allows the lens to pivot on it’s no Parallax point and prevents lens distortion in wide angle lenses from being apparent in larger images. I combine this with my Acratech Leveling head, to ensure that the pivot point is level, my ball head and my Acratech Universal L bracket for vertical shooting. I am hoping to get some nice panorama images or at the very least some very high resolution HDR images!

Another couple of pieces of gear I plan on bringing is more for experimenting. I was planning on bringing my Canon 8-15 mm F4L Fisheye lens all along, but I will also be bringing along the Nodal Ninja Ultimate R10 panorama head that I use in my Google Business Photos business. I have been playing around with some software lately that allows me to create 360 Panoramas so again I am thinking of doing some HDR 360 degree panos. I would love to be able to show exactly what Queens Bath looks like from my vantage point all the way around at sunset. I can also create very wide angle panoramas (270 degrees) with this set up.

I also want to put together a timelapse movie of some of the scenes we will take in so I will have my GoPro HD Hero 3 as well as my Canon G1X and a Gorilla pod tripod for mounting them.

While I would love to shoot from an open door helicopter again (the folks at Inter Island Helicopters last year were great) the timing may not work. Although I would do it again in an instance!

Jurassic Park WaterfallsAerial ShotKauai, HiAugust 2012

 

While I did manage to get a sunrise shot of the Kilauea Lighthouse last year, the lighthouse itself was going through asbestos removal so it was covered up by scaffolding and tarps. That work is now done so I am hoping for a beautiful sunrise picture.

I have been making a list of all the shots that I am hoping to get while there. While the list is long and I likely won’t be able to shoot all locations,  I will be able to pick and choose several locations for the different days rather than scrambling!

All of the research I am doing is pretty much standard for any trip I take where I plan on doing some photography. I like being well prepared long before I go, ensure I have the right equipment to get those shots before I get there and have everything ready so that I can get the photos that I want in the short time that I have.

Keep watching here as I will post images of the upcoming trip as they are ready!

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New Site for Google Business Photos is Now Live!

In order to be able to provide a better experience for prospective clients I have created a new site for everything related to the Google Business Photos service that I offer. The new site will be able to  give new clients more details about the program and our offerings. The site is currently live and can be seen over at http://skennedy360photo.com. If you are interested in learning more about how your business can benefit from having a 360 degree virtual tour created that appears in Google search results, on Google Maps and on your business’ Google Local+ page, please be sure to follow the link.

We would also be happy to discuss the process and provide an estimate for the cost of shooting your business. We can be contacted here http://skennedy360photo.com/contact/.

We look forward to hearing from you soon!

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Nik Collection by Google!

Back in October, Google purchased Nik Software, mainly for their Snapseed Product, but many of us in the photography world started getting worried. You see, Nik Software and their plugins have become some of the best go to plugins for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom (and other software) for a lot of professional and amateur photographers. Most of the concerns most had was related to what was Google going to do with the plugins? Were they going to go away? I myself have relied on Nik products for years. Why spend hours and steps in Photoshop trying to get the look you want in an image when many of Nik’s plugins could do it in 1/4 of the time! 

On the 25th of March, 2013, Google announced the availability of the “Nik Collection by Google”, which for the time being has eased some of my fears of the plugins going away! While the plugins haven’t changed much since the last version that was available at the Nik site for download, Google made one significant change and that was to the price!

In the past these plugins sold individually from anywhere from 99.00 to 300.00 each. The complete collection would cost you over 500.00! Now any photographer can get the entire suite for just 149.00 USD! Compared to other plugins and suites, this is an incredible deal for what this software can do!

The collection includes all of the software that was sold by Nik previously in the suite and individually. The collection includes:

Color Efex Pro 4,  a set of filters and effects that have become the go to for many photographers around the world.
HDR Efex Pro 2,  My software of choice for HDR image processing.
– Silver Efex Pro 2,  One of the best plugins for creating Black and White Images. Sets the standard for most B&W Conversion software.
– Viveza 2, Outstanding software for adjusting colours and tones in images without difficult masking.
– Dfine 2,  Noise reduction plugins that gives great results automatically.
– Sharpener Pro 3, Great sharpening of photos specifically tailored for how it will be output.

The Nik Collection aren’t the only plugin tools I use but I have used every single one of the above plugins at some time on many of my images. One of the best technologies found in all of Nik’s plugins is the U-point technology. This allows you to drop a U-point on a specific area of the image and control how the effect applies just to that area. Adjusting is easy to do and the software is very good at selecting just what you want it to. in Viveza 2, Silver Efex Pro 2 and HDR Efex Pro 2 it is an absolutely amazing way to work and control the plugin on your images.

The Nik Collection works with Adobe Photoshop CS4 – CS6, Lightroom versions 3 and 4, Apple Aperture 3.1 and later and Adobe Photoshop Elements versions 9 – 11 (with the exception of HDR Efex Pro 2).

If you were a previous owner of the Nik software suite, you should have received an email with a link to download your free version of the suite. Anyone who owned and had registered even just 1 of the plugins with Nik and/or Google should have also received an email with a free upgrade to the entire suite! If you didn’t receive the email I would suggest you contact Google via the Nik Software Support page.

There is a 15 day trial version available on the webpage so that you can actually try out the plugins without restriction. I would highly recommend it if you are not already using the plugins.

To purchase get the trial or learn more you can visit http://niksoftware.com. Google has also maintained Nik’s excellent educational series on the site for learning how the plugins work with the blog, on demand videos and the live webinars!

On a sad note however, Google did kill Snapseed for desktops! This was a great program for doing effects on your PC if you didn’t own the collection. It sold for 20.00 and had a very easy interface to use for editing. I had purchased this software for my daughter to use on her system and she loves it! Previous owners of Snapseed will still be able to download, install and use the software however it will no longer be updated. Snapseed for Android and IOS though will continue on and is now a free application on both platforms (it used to cost 5.00). It is considered one of the best mobile photo editing applications available.

As I said earlier the Nik Collection is not the only plugin tool that I use. Other plugins in my day to day workflow include all of the Topaz Labs plugins and the OnOne Software’s Perfect Suite 7.1. Both of which I also highly recommend and suggest that other photographers try out using the available free trials.

With the release of the Nik Collection by Google it does alleviate some of my fears about what the future is for these great products. Only time will tell if Google continues on with the development and brings new versions forward. The release of the collection and the lowering of the price in my mind is a good sign.. I don’t think Google would start selling a product to new users now only to kill it in the future. Having said that stranger things have happened!

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Taking Google Business Photos on the Road!

I am tentatively looking at having 3 days available to schedule some Google Business Photos shoots in Kauai, HI in Mid May! If you own a small business on the island of Kauai and are interested in having a Street View tour of your business for visitors to find while doing a Google search. Please contact us to get an estimate of the job and to arrange a time. I will only have 3 days open and so spaces will be limited! For more information please contact us! We look forward to hearing from you!

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Streetview for Businesses–Google Business Photos Program

We have been doing some shoots for the Google Business Photos program for some time now. This program allows business owners to have their business’ shot using the same technology used for  Google Streetview and give web searchers a 3d Virtual tour of their businesses. Prospective Clients can now see what the business looks like before setting foot inside.

Here is a sample of a recent business we shot

Toscana Italian Grill, Calgary

We have more information on the Google Business Photos program here on our site. Please feel free to contact us if you require any more information or want to set up a free estimate of getting your virtual tour done!

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