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Bird Rock - Point Lobos, California | by PatrickSmithPhotography
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Bird Rock - Point Lobos, California

The last bit of light on the land can be the best! A single exposure. No HDR!


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Settings etc.:



I've been planning this shot for about two years. Back then, I noticed how the layered slabs of rock, the sloping hills, and the horizon all seemed to point to Bird Rock in the distance, but the conditions were never good for the element of atmosphere. Finally a storm came through just before sunset and I was able to make the image I had hoped for.


I waited for some light to strike the rock and mountains of Big Sur to the left. Then I waited for a wave to sweep into the cove. There were big waves striking the rock in the left-center, but they were REALLY big and blocked out the rest of the scene. So I waited for a smaller more sweeping wave to make a more gentle and flowing image.


Canon 5D Mark II

0.5-second exposure @F13 with Lee LEE soft ND grad (100x150mm 0.9 + 0.75

Lee foundation kit filter holder with Lee 77mm adapter ring

Canon 17-40L @ 21

ISO 50

RAW file processed with Capture One by Phase One

TIFF file processed with Photoshop


Here is a reprint of some observations I made about the 5D mk II on my last upload.


The Canon 5D Mark II:

21mp (5616x3744 pixels)

US $2,699.00

I pre-ordered it back on September 17th.


Definitely worth it despite my comments below. This image is still razor sharp from 5ft to infinity! A very nice 32x48 print would be no problem. And 12x18 at 400DPI!


The first thing I noticed is that we have appeared to reach the point (with any 21+ mp full-frame sensor) where if you want to get the most from this resolution and pixel size (eg: a bigger print), you must be MUCH more precise than before. I know this sounds like I'm stating the obvious but there is a really big difference between the two cameras when my test shots are seen at 100% size.


For example, with the old 5D, I used to like to use F22 in order to not only get the widest DOF but get a longer exposure too. In theory F22 should produce circles of confusion as light that should fall on one pixel bleeds over into the next pixel because of edge diffraction. But I did not notice any significant difference between F8 and F22 with the old 5d when I test focus at infinity (and look at infinity in the resulting shot). Yes, there was a little difference but not enough to make me stop using F22.


But with the new 5D, F22 is much softer than even F16. So much so that f22 is completely unuseable if you want more than 12mp of real resolution like with the old 5d. It does not matter what I do, I can not make anything sharp at F22!


F16 is the smallest aperture I will be using from now on. And then only rarely. F13 is better and about the same as F8 as far as I can tell. F6-F13 seems to be the sweet spot. And even F4 at infinity looks great for long exposure star trails and the like. But find out exactly where infinity is or the shot will be very blurry.


I will add that F22 will still produce the same quality print at the same size as the 12mp original 5D, but if you want the extra resolution from those smaller 5d mk II pixels, forget F22 or even F16!


I must say that despite this limitation, so far it has not affected my shooting. F13 gives plenty of DOF so everything is sharp.


Also, I noticed that there seems to be more information per pixel. Even though the mp went from 12 to 21, the raw size more than doubled from 11mb to 25mb! I can see the difference when processing. There is more color information in each pixel now.


This image is straight from the camera aside from some contrast adjustments, resizing and sharpening!!! The color seems more realistic and the dynamic range makes it easy to get detail in the darker areas. I am very happy so far.


If you have other questions, write them below and I'll answer them in the description right above this sentence.


See my profile for a link to my website where I have limited edition prints and less expensive open edition prints.



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Taken on January 2, 2009