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Archive for May, 2014

Weekly photo, 25 May 2014

Frogs are easier to find now that the temperature is warmer, so this week it’s a photo of a Green Frog. I converted it in B&W because i felt it would look better that way.

Taken with Canon 7D + 400mm/5.6L with Ext. tubes, tripod.


Weekly Photo, 19-May-2014

Yesterday we went to the Omega Park in Montebello, Province of Quebec, Canada and it’s about an 1 hour drive from my home. My kids love to go there ….. OK …. me also šŸ˜‰

Yound Black Bear, they were 3 who were born last January. This one was coming down from a tree and i was just in time to take it’s portrait.


Sometimes Frogs are very cooperative !

Yesterday before going to work i stopped at a local Park where there is some small and bigger ponds with different species of Frogs and Turtles. But it was cold (10C) and there was not many Frogs to be seen, i took some photos of a frog but not very good, after 30 minutes i had to go to work.

Today was another story, the morning was warmer and humid, Frogs were easy to find and i just choosed the ones that were more photogenics and cooperative. However at that place they are more nervous than at another pond i go also for photograpphing Green Frogs, i usually use my 400mm lens with Extension tubes (all the photos posted here were taken with that lens).

I started with this Green Frog, not satisfied because of the OOF branch in the foreground.

Not far away, this one was on the shore probably waiting for something to eat.

Watch your back my little friend, they were 2 on that mossy rock, the other one jumped as soon as i tried to get close. Fortunately this one stayed there. At first i wanted to photograph it from the side but it would have been difficult to get a good shot, so i took it from behind.

This one was very well camouflaged amongst the dead dark leaves, i liked the reflection in the water which adds to the photo.

Just as i was walking back to my Truck, i saw another Green Frog on the shore on moss covered rocks.

It’s a beautiful Park for photographing Frogs because of the different ponds setting, some are surrounded with Cattails and like the photos posted here where i concentrated myself on the series of small and shallow ponds.

Again after 30 minutes i needed to leave and go to work, will try to go again tomorrow morning and see if i will get lucky!


Weekly photo, 11 May 2014

This week i finally photographed some Frogs, it was about time ! Not many Frogs yet, in one of my regular pond i found only 3 Green Frogs that morning but i managed to get a couple of good shots.

I was at water’s level to get that view, the tip of the lens hood was in the water. Canon 7D with Tamron 90mm Macro VC handheld.


P.O.V. when photographing Frogs.

When i’m photographing Frogs i always try to have the best point of view (POV) to show them at their best, it’s not always easy since they are small, so you need to get low and be ready to get dirty. The lower to their level you can get the best they will look on your final shot. Another benefit is that usually the background will look better when shooting low, that is if the background behind the from is not too distracting and select an aperture that will blur it.

Here is an example i took this morning, same Green Frog, both taken with 7D and Tamron 90mm Macro VC at f/5.6:

For this one i was on my knees and looking through the VF to compose the shot.

I switched to LV and put the camera as close to the ground as i could and tried to compose the best i could without falling into the pond !

I prefer the second photo because the Frog look better because the POV give it more pride. I nearly fell into the pond to get that second shot, the shore was steep and muddy and when i tried to get up my boots were just slipping on that muddy terrain ! As i was fighting to get up the slope the Frog never moved, it was probably waiting to see if i would fell into the pond to have a good laugh at me šŸ™‚

For this photo of a young Bullfrog it was a different story, it was on a Moss covered branch at a good distance from me. The challenge here was to position my tripod mounted camera with a 400mm and 64mm of Extension tubes in a pile of branches to get the view i wanted. I would have liked to get lower to clear the branch in the background but i couldn’t get low enough and still get a good view, so i set the lens W/O at f/5.6 to blur the background as much as i could and did some burning in PP.

Those photos were all taken this morning at a local pond, it’s a great place to photograph different species of Frogs in a beautiful habitat and also Snapping Turtles. It offers a variety of backgrounds and mossy rocks and branches, i just need to look around and find the forg with a better surrounding that will make a great shot and reminds to get low.


Tamron SP 90mm/2.8 Macro VC USD, is it a good choice ?

My first Macro lens i bought back in 1992 was the Tamron SP 90mm/2.5 (1:2 ratio, Manual Focus) , i really liked that lens, very good for the price. I used it until i switched to digital in 2006 and found that it was prone to sensor flare. After that over the years i’ve used many Macro lenses from Nikon, Olympus (OM and m4/3), Vivitar 90-180mm Flat Field but mostly from Pentax. Before switching from Pentax to Canon i was owning 3 Macro lenses: Pentax DA 35mm/2.8 Macro Ltd, SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm/4 and Pentax DFA 100mm/2.8 Macro WR. The Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR is my favorite Macro lens that i’ve ever used, so when i switched to Canon i wanted to have the same advantages …. Weather sealing and IS (IBIS for Pentax) since i likeĀ  photographing frogs i often shoot in wet and muddy habitat and also often handholding my camera because a tripod is not always practical.

At first, i wanted to buy the Canon 100mm Macro IS L, price, size and weight were cons for that lens compared to what i was used with my Pentax (FF lens also). Then i found that Tamron was making a 90mm Macro with VC and weather sealing (Unfortunately not available in Pentax mount), smaller and lighter than the Canon. Sure it does not feel as solidly built than the Canon and especially the Pentax which the barrel is made of metal, but it’s good quality plastic and should be able to survive regular use in the field. A Canadian store had a good rebate on the Canon but especially on the Tamron (600$ CDN) … more than 400$ cheaper than the Canon! So after reading reviews and user opinions i finally pulled the trigger on the Tamron 90mm Macro VC USD, as a bonus here in Canada the Warranty from Tamron is 6 years.

For the moment i will be owning only 1 Macro lens for my Canon kit so a lens in the 90mm-100mm range was my choice. A longer Macro lens is helpful for insects that are difficult to get close, for the moment i will use Ext. tubes on my 70-200mm/4 L if Ā i need more reach when photographing Frogs.

Weather Sealing

This lens is Weather sealed but couldn’t find a definitive answer on how much weather sealed it really is, so i did sent an E-Mail to Tamron Canada and the next day i received the following answer:

“The weather sealing on your 90mm F/2.8 VC lens is provided by the gasket on the rear of the lens. There are no other gaskets or seals in the lens.”

Compared to the Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR, which have several gaskets inside the lens also, the Tamron can’t be used in constant rain like the Pentax can, but there is no gap between the focusing ring and the plastic barrel, so maybe it can take some light rain, the weak point might be the switches. The seal around the lens mount doesn’t look as tough as the one on the Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR but i will have to wait and see how well it will hold-up in the long term.

I made a short video showing the gasket on the rear mount of the lens:

http://s47.photobucket.com/user/leopold44/media/MVI_4892_zpse0417590.mp4.html

Lens design

The lens is made of plastic but feels solid, i like tha it’s an IF lens, it will not extend when getting close to my subjects. The focusing ring is large and easy to grip. I would have liked the focusing ring to be more progressive, by that i mean taking more turn from infinity to minimum focusing distance (it takes 1/2 turn from minimum to infinity). Because of that, at close range, just a little turn of the focusing ring and it makes a big difference on where the focus is made, compared to the old Manual focus lenses it’s not as easy to useĀ  … but most of the AF lenses suffers from that unfortunately.

On the lens you will find 3 switches (focus limiter, AF/MF and for the VC On/Off), all 3 are easy to use and i have no complaint about them.

Before going to results in the field i want to talk about a little thing that i like about that Tamron lens …. the lens caps ! They are the best i’ve seen on a lens, thick enough and easy to use with a good firm lock, easy to use even in winter with cold fingers, same for the lens hood. Compared to the Canon front lens caps which are the worst i’ve used , too thin and difficult to use.

Results in the field

Modern Macro lenses are all very good, the choice of one over another is based more on features and focal length. Depending on your needs and the subjects you want to photograph there is a Macro lens that is more suited for the task.

The lens also performs very well at normal shooting distances, like this shot of a frozen waterfall, taken at f/11, tripod.

 

Chain in Winter. Taken at f/14, tripod.

The wind was blowing at 35 km/h and the the Black Spruce Tree was swinging so it was not easy keeping the cone in the frame. It was more to test the VC, AF and Bokeh. The shutter speed was fast enough not to require VC but it helped me to get the composition i wanted by stabilization of the image in the VF. 1/250 sec. at f/5.6.

Leaf on an Ice patch. Taken at f/13, tripod.

 

For this photo i did use a CPL filter to cut the reflections from the leaf and rock. Taken at f/13, tripod.

 

Skunk Cabbages were covered with frost after a cold night. I activated the VC and used f/5.6 to blur the background. The VC worked pretty well, sure the shutter speed was around 1/80 sec, not too slow but at close range and handheld you need all the speed you can even with VC.

 

Frog in an Aquarium at a local ZOO, it was taken handheld with the help of the VC. 1/200 sec. at f/4.0.

Crop of the Frog photo above to show the OOF area (the Bokeh). Quite good at f/4, there is some Bokeh fringingĀ at the edge of the circles but at normal size we don’t see it.

 

I was photographing waterdrops on Moss at the base of a tree on a rainy day. Then, an insect appeared in my composition, i boosted the ISO to 800 and waited until it took an interesting position. It was taken at f/4.0, tripod.

I finally had some time and opportunities (spring was late this year and subjects were difficult to find), this lens performs really well and IQ is very good. I have no doubt and use it at any aperture, sure there is a little drop of resolution as you stop it down to f/11-16 but still very usable, wouldn’t use f/22 as the drop in IQ is too much for my taste.

The Bokeh looks good even if there is some Bokeh fringing (green in the OOF background), which is not that evident at normal viewing distance, i can live with it. In the photos posted here the OOF area are smooth and doesn’t distracts the eyes from the main subject.

This lens is bigger and heavier than my previous Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR but it handles quite well on my 7D and T3i and it works well for ground level subjects with the VC and the articulated LCD of the T3i.

Tamron produced different versions of this 90mm (f/2.5 and 2.8) over the years and they all have a very good reputation for delivering great results and this one is no exception, Tamron did another great version of their 90mm Macro. It may not be as weather sealed as my Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR was, but it’s a great lens that fits my needs and at a very good price. If you’re looking for another option than the Canon, Nikon or Sony brand Macro lens in that range this one certainly deserve a good look before taking a final decision. I will post updates when i will have more experience with that lens for photographing Frogs at my favorite pond.

 


Weekly photo, 04 May 2014

This week i didn’t had much time so i will post a photo i took when we visited an Ecomuseum on Easter day with my family. The ZOO keepers showed animals to the public and we were able to get very close and learn about the animals.

Great Horned Owl close-up taken at the Ecomuseum of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. Canon 7D with 70-200mm/4L + TC 1.4 X II.