It’s All About Color Contrast

Why do I prefer shooting purple herons in the reeds? It’s all about color contrast. During evenings this location is perfectly front-lit, so blue sky and deep yellow foliage is a given. Mix it with the browns and reds of the heron and you’re almost ready.



The only fly in the ointment is that you’ll have to shoot through the reeds. This had been quite a challenge before the 7D Mark II – this fantastic little camera has an AF system that can track the birds even when they fly behind the reeds. No camera before that was able to do it with such a good success rate. I had to spend an afternoon to fine tune the system, but was well worth the effort. (Tracking sensitivity: -1, Accel./decel. tracking: 2, AF pt auto switching: 2 is what I use in case you are curious.)

A Great Reed Warbler from 2012

From time to time I scroll through old images. Especially ones from the same location and same time frame. And usually end up in a ruthless editing session. Technical imperfections, suboptimal compositions – you name it, I delete it. But once in a while I find a gem.

Great Reed Warbler Singing

Great Reed Warbler Singing

Just sit back, and enjoy the song of the warbler on a late spring morning.

The Ballet Has Begun – With a Little Extra

Herons finally arrived and I spent the afternoon with warming up for the season. This year will be radically different from the previous ones because of the rig I use. The issue with photographing herons at this specific location is that they land at varying distances. This usually means frequent teleconverter and body changes, and lots of inadvertently cut wings and feet.

But not this time. The 5DS R has more than enough resolution for cropping if the bird lands further away while I can avoid truncating vital parts with closer landings thanks to the full frame sensor. I’m using the EF 500mm f/4L IS USM with the 1.4x III teleconverter.

Purple Heron Landing Ballet

Purple Heron Landing Ballet

Images are also much better from the 5DS R than they were from the 7D Mark II and 5D Mark III used for the last couple of years. Not to mention the ancient 1D Mark II… Frame rate is a bit slow sometimes, but still manageable. The real problem is that emptying the buffer to the card may take a lot of time even with a speedy 1066x Lexar CF. This is one point where I expect the 1D X Mark II to do wonders.

Besides the herons, a bunch of bearded tits were also hanging out in the reeds. They are funny little birds and I really enjoy working with them. So much that I missed quite a few heron landings.

Bearded Tit - Another Take

Bearded Tit – Another Take

The light was great, so why not take advantage of the situation and the cooperating birds? Heck, I already have a ton of great heron landing images…

Artist’s Viewfinder 4.6 Available

iphone_se_wideconvThe latest update to the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder adds complete support for the iPhone SE.

This means two things. First, we’ve measured the angle of view of the SE’s camera. Second, since the SE takes iPhone 5s cases, we’ve created a distortion correction profile for each and every wide converter that we support on the 5s. You see the complete list on the left.

As usual, we’ve added a bunch of new cameras to the app’s database. I’d encourage you to take a look on the release notes for the detailed list.

Version 4.6 is a free update for existing Mark II owners. Users of former Viewfinder Basic/Pro/Cine editions can upgrade for a reduced price.

While Waiting

I’m waiting for several things to arrive. For egrets, herons, and my 1D X Mark II. And while waiting, I’m sifting through last year’s images. The one below was made with the 7D Mark II and the then new EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM lens (plus the 1.4x III teleconverter).

Egret Landing

Egret Landing

This is a deadly combination that brought me a bunch of great images during the last twelve months. I’m curious whether the 1D X Mark II will replace the 7D Mark II in my bag. Weight, size, reach, convenience are all factors – not just speed and image quality. I’m really really curious. But don’t worry, I’ll let you know once the 1D X Mark II is in my hands.

Imminent Storm

On the evening of April 1st, a serious gale hit Lake Tisza. Of course I was out on the lake looking for images. After the first gusts I decided that it’s better to pack and go. But… I quickly made a few frames.

Imminent Storm

Imminent Storm

I wouldn’t have thought that one of my strongest images will lurk among those. It’s a huge departure from my usual style. It’s an image straight out of the camera – even the slightest post processing attempt weakened it.

Unfortunately the web sized reproduction does not let it go through entirely – and even the large version needs time to fully appreciate it. Look at the image. Let is sink. Smell the oncoming storm.

Oh yes, shot with the Zeiss Otus 1.4/55 on the Canon 5DS R. I can hardly wait to see it on large canvas.

Bearded Tit

Wanted to check whether the purple herons arrived, so we sailed to our favorite heron and egret photography spot. Herons were few and far between, but a curios bearded tit couple played hide and seek with me.

Bearded Tit in the Reeds

Bearded Tit in the Reeds

The 500mm lens’ ability to wash away dense reeds was godsend.

While not completely homogenous, the background is soft enough to make the bird pop and still show it’s natural habitat.

Kuuvik Capture 2.3 Released

kc2icon@2xVersion 2.3, bringing Canon EOS 80D support to Kuuvik Capture 2 is now available on the Mac App Store.

Since Canon introduced quite a few changes with this body, I had to update both the camera control and the RAW decoder in my Digital Camera Library.

And at this point let me add a few personal comments on the 80D.

While the improved low ISO dynamic range is a welcome addition, this camera is a step back in a few regards. First, it’s not fast enough to support multi-point live view (formerly known as split view). It’s an unfortunate trend with Canon’s newest mid-range cameras: both the 70D and 700D were multi-point live view capable, and none of their replacements/successors are.

Second, the removal of the shutter count feature (it does not affect Kuuvik Capture per se, but indeed affects my ShutterCount app).

Third, Wi-Fi is still on the verge of being unusable. I’ve already mentioned sub-par 70D/6D Wi-Fi transfer speeds in the version 2.2 release announcement post. With the 80D, I was enthusiastic about the Easy Connection option, that is designed to create the camera’s own access point, and to allow using EOS Utility mode with no existing network needed. The idea is something you would expect in 2016, but the implementation is crap. And I’m not talking about the inability to specify a password for this network, but the extremely slow transfer speed. I measured speeds south of 30mps – which is half of the already slow speeds of the mid-range bodies.

Thus, I recommend to stick with using an existing Wi-Fi network and to avoid the Easy Connection option completely. Fortunately using an existing network is not slower than the 70D was (but it’s not faster either).

I took over Kuuvik Capture last year, and decided that I will not release a Windows version. This allowed me to remove former platform independent code and to do Apple-specific optimizations and speed up the app considerably. The code base is large, so this optimization process is still in progress – and this release also includes a few. They are not user visible, but you might notice them here and there. (For the technically inclined – I had eliminated a bunch of memory copy operations between the Digital Camera Library and the user interface.)

On the user-visible changes front, Split View had been renamed to Multi-Point Live View. I think it’s more clear what the feature does this way, plus Apple introduced a completely different Split View into OS X – and wanted to avoid any confusion.

The update is free for existing Kuuvik Capture 2 customers. New users can download Kuuvik Capture 2 from the Mac App Store for $79.99 / €79.99 / £59.99.

For more information about the app, please visit it’s microsite, or check out my posts.