Tag Archives: motorbike

June ’13 – Review

June has been another varied and productive month for photography. Early on I caught a Spectacular Sunset, and also some effective coloured lights when walking back to the station via the Barbican Centre one evening. I’ve photographed it many times before, but the lights were fun:

It's That Slope Again
It’s That Slope Again

We have had a good few Face Down Tuesday posts during June as well, starting with three from the BBC Stash: Reception Reflection EditionGreen Tea Bar Edition and Mezzanine Mosaic Edition; plus one taken especially as an extra at my monthly scenic location, Sandford Mill Footbridge Edition.

I have found another five image for my [email protected] project too: #22, #23, #24, #25 and #26. I’ve finally made some progress on my 100 Strangers images, finding three more willing models – #28 Brian#29 Tony and #30 Ross.

I enjoyed a day out with Dad for some Railway Nostalgia at the Epping to Ongar railway. We saw a few steam trains, sadly the sun didn’t want to play ball:

Where Has The Sun Gone?
Where Has The Sun Gone?

I also saw steam on the mainline later in the month when I watched A Tornado Blows Through!

Alistair and I had fun with some Roxwell Rambles when he was visiting too. This is a big house we saw on the way around:

Dukes In The Distance
Dukes In The Distance

There have been some good opportunities for mono images, although I’ve not been as prolific as I was for Mono MayHem. I made The TrophyShiny Steel & GlassOn The ShorelineShadows & Highlight and S Is For Sleek during June.

I’ve attended three photowalks this month, with varying success. First off was Evening In Colne Engaine with GNPC. I arrived a little early and made a pleasant scene in the woods during the afternoon:

Blooming Wild Garlic
Blooming Wild Garlic

Then we were Rained Off In Maldon a few days ago – and spent quite a lot of time in the pub talking about photography as a consequence!

A Rum Shelf
A Rum Shelf

Three days later I returned to Maldon for Chelmsford Photowalk #47 and the contrast could not have been greater – it was a wonderful sunny blue sky day. We enjoyed looking at all the highly polished Harleys basking on the Quayside:

Handlebars On Orange Harley
Handlebars On Orange Harley

And finally, but not least, on 22nd June, the momentous milestone D2K Arrived! Yes, 2000 consecutive days of pictures making. What a marathon! But don’t fear, I’m not giving up. Onwards and upwards – To (Project) Infinity And Beyond!

Canon 70-200mm EF f/4 L USM Long-Term Review

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM
Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM

When I first got my Canon 70-200mm EF f/4 L USM lens secondhand from a friend in February last year, it was to have a smaller, lighter alternative to the monster 100-400mm EF f/4.5-5.6L IS USM which I also own. And I hoped it would make a good companion to the Canon 24-105mm EF f/4 L IS USM which is my regular standard zoom for days out.

My thinking was that I would use this one more frequently as it’s much less strain on the arms if you are using it without a tripod (which I tend to do – I’m too lazy to drag a tripod everywhere and it slows down my spontaneity).

Looking back over the last fifteen months or so, I realise I’ve actually used it more than I thought – but only on relatively few photographic outings.

The first real run out was a day in Brighton in April 2011, meeting photographic friends for a shoot. The light was mediocre but I was reasonably pleased with the results. Here’s one of the West Pier:

West Pier Silhouette
West Pier Silhouette
Yellow Poppy
Yellow Poppy

A group from GNPC went to RHS Hyde Hall in May to photograph the magnificent floral displays. It was a beautiful sunny if windy day and the images from that shoot produced some vibrant colours with great bokeh in the background. This yellow poppy illustrates it perfectly.

With plenty of light around, the 70-200mm focal length is a cracking option for this sort of picture, especially if the flowers you want to photograph are in the middle of a well-manicured bed and you can’t get any closer to your subject!

It’s not really suitable for macro or close up work, as the closest focus distance is 1.2m. The 705g weight isn’t too onerous on the shoulders – either in the kit bag or on the front of the camera – and only 35g heavier than my 24-105.

Thames Barges
Thames Barges

The next trip it went out on was the Shoot Maldon Live event with Upminster Camera Club, where I was judging the images made on the day, straight out of camera. I thought it only fair that I had a go myself!

This classic view of the Thames Barges at the Hythe shows the weather was occasionally sunny, but mainly overcast. It’s not a bad lens for landscape work, but the 700mm widest focal length can be a bit limiting for this type of photography, depending on your location circumstances.

Later on in May I was out again with the Chelmsford Flickr folk for their 30th Photowalk. We attended the Essex Young Farmers’ Country Show.

Orange With Blue Nuts
Orange With Blue Nuts
Slow shutter, poor light
Slow shutter, poor light

The lens was great for isolating interesting details from the shiny old tractors and farm equipment, but proved a little bit short on zoom length for the aerial motorbike displays – many of which had to be cropped in post production to fill the frame a bit more compared to straight out of the camera. The light had also gone very dim by that stage, so I was struggling for a decent shutter speed, even with the lens wide open at f/4. And the lack of Image Stabilisation meant I was a bit disappointed with many of the resulting shots. The one on the right shows one of the bikers taken at 200mm, with a 100% pixel comparison of part of the rear wheel – it’s not terribly crisp.

Charing Cross Dusk
Charing Cross Dusk

I had another go in low light at the beginning of June, when I found myself on the South Bank to witness a rather impressive dusk after sunset.

I made this image of Charing Cross by steadying the lens on the railings by the side of the river. Otherwise the lack of IS would have given me quite blurry images – and I didn’t dare push the ISO too much beyond 800 for fear of losing some of the details in the shadows and vibrancy of colours in the highlights.

I would have liked a slightly wider view of the scene but at 70mm, this is as wide as it got. Once again, I felt I was hitting a few of the lens’ limitations on this particular shoot.

Thoughtful Soldier
Thoughtful Soldier

In July I went with some friends from GNPC to the War & Peace show in Paddock Wood. I was hoping for some good candid portraits of the re-enacters so packed the lens in my bag.

It did prove to be a great portrait lens during the day. I loved this picture of a young “German” airman – which nearly made it to image of the day for Day #1299. But I did feel a bit conspicuous wandering around with the “white” lens and got asked several times if I was from the press!

Flowing Locks
Flowing Locks

In September a friend and I attended the London Tattoo Convention for the first time. We weren’t quite sure what to expect but knew there would be plenty of opportunity for people-watching – so again, the 70-200 was packed in the kit bag.

The folks there were very friendly and approachable, many of them more than happy to pose for photos.

The halls where the event was held were quite dingy, so I was once more hampered by the lack of IS with the lens. The best shots I got all day were in the central courtyard which has huge skylights in the roof. This red head was being pursued by many paparazzi so I was lucky the 200mm focal length got me a shot between other people’s heads!

There was quite a hiatus before I took the lens out again – a few days ago I attended the GB Olympic Canoeing Trials at the White Water Centre in Waltham Cross.

Aiming For The Gate
Aiming For The Gate

The primary lens I took along to capture the action was the 100-400 as I wanted to fill the frame as much as possible. But I packed the 70-200 as a backup and I’m glad I did – a few shots into the event and my 100-400 lens started playing up!

So the 70-200 proved to be a useful alternative, especially when the sun was out. The image above was made from a few feet away from the edge of the course. I didn’t have a press pass so wasn’t allowed “inside the ropes” but I still got some reasonable pictures.

Ultimately, I’m still undecided if I want to keep the lens. It didn’t cost me a lot as it was second hand. But I think 70-200 is just the wrong focal range for my current kit lineup. It overlaps the 24-105 by quite a lot, yet doesn’t really get much further at the long end to justify carrying it around. I prefer the 100-400 for sports and action shots, mainly for the versatility of zoom range and Image Stabilisation, which I do really miss on the shorter 70-200.

It’s certainly a great lens for some subjects such as flowers and portraiture, given enough light. Sadly the UK’s record for sunny conditions aren’t that great though! I’ll probably have a think about alternatives to this lens and write more when I’ve come to a decision.