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Trying out my New Lens in Boston

 (DavidRaboin)

The skate park at Boston’s North Point Park

I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. For our anniversary last week, Maria surprised me with a new Canon 24-70 f2.8 L II. According to the lens review sites, the 24-70 II is one of the finest optics ever manufactured. It’s reported to be as sharp as a high quality prime lens at all of its focal lengths. I can’t wait to get to know it better.

Since September 2007, I shot primarily with the original Canon 24-70 f2.8 L. I estimate that 85% of the photos posted on this blog were taken with my old 24-70. I always liked that lens, but never loved it. It was sharp, not crispy like my primes, but good enough. I could’ve whined about the old 24-70’s size, but I’m a big guy, and I don’t mind suffering a little for my art. I was totally happy with the results of that old lens, and was only moderately interested in it’s replacement, until I got my Canon 16-35 f4 L for Christmas 2014. The 16-35 was my first new L lens in many years and I was amazed at how much better the pictures looked coming from a more modern lens. The new lens had better contrast, better colors, better sharpness edge to edge, and it handled flare brilliantly.  Suddenly I found myself reading reviews of the 24-70 f2.8 L II. Could the new zoom live up to the hype? Was it worth the extreme price? I started saving my iStock pennies. I had to have the II. But life got in the way and I spent my stock photo horde several times. It seemed like I would never accumulate enough money for Canon’s ultimate lens.

 (DavidRaboin)

Busy Saturday Evening in Boston’s North Point

I’ve only had the new lens for a week now and I was sick in bed with the flu for three of those days, so other than a short photo-walk in Boston and a trip to the park with Holden, I haven’t had a chance to thoroughly test it out. My initial impression is positive. The 24-70 II focuses faster than the old version. More specifically, the focus motor feels like it packs more horsepower than an average lens. When the II focuses, it feels like a fat perch grabbing your line. It really tugs. I’ve also already noticed that this lens is extremely sharp. I haven’t had the opportunity to try it in interesting light, but the images I’ve taken with it so far all look very prime-like. The details really pop out. And you have to love evolution, even with these performance enhancements, the new lens is much lighter than the old version and it feels better on the camera. Maybe someday I’ll write a longer review, but probably not. I enjoy taking pictures and writing about images more than writing a lens review. I can’t wait to take this lens out again.

 

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

Spring on Mount Diablo

 (DavidRaboin)

Northern Slopes of Mount Diablo with a rain shower in the distance

Between rain storms, I got up on Mount Diablo with my camera. This year it’s very green and the wildflowers are starting to blossom.

 (DavidRaboin)

Diablo in spring: Oak Tree, receding rain clouds and poppy blossoms

These photos were taken five days ago. When I was up there, poppies were budding everywhere. I image the mountainside will turn orange with flowers sometime this week or next. I want to get back up there for the bloom but now I am sick in bed with the flu, the worst flu I’ve ever had.

 (DavidRaboin)

Perched above the summit road

 (DavidRaboin)

Rock formation at sundown, and the first wisps of the next storm system stream across the sky 

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

Off to South Beach, Miami

An aerial view of Rose Bay and Spencer Bay on the Coast of North Carolina (DavidRaboin)

Morning high above Rose Bay, North Carolina… Working our way down to coast, JFK-FLL 

Other than the early wake up (5:30 AM Eastern Time is 2:30 AM for this Californian), today is an easy day. We’re flying just one short leg from New York to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We have a new long stay hotel in a new neighborhood, South Beach, Miami. I’m looking forward to some exploring. 

 (DavidRaboin)

King for a day… The Rooftop swiming pool at our new South Beach Hotel

The new hotel is a long ride from the airport, about an hour without traffic. Our van driver doesn’t speak English and he listens, at high volume, to one of those pop stations that “plays all the hits from the 80s through today.” Picture three men blasting down the sunny,palm lined Florida Interstates in a Ford Econoline with Micheal Jackson’s “Thriller” playing in the background. Fortunately, when finally arrive, the new hotel turns out to be a winner, but it’s not playtime for me yet. First, I have to finish my taxes. A few hours later I head out for a run.

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A parade of cruise ships leaves Miami. Photo taken on Samsung Galaxy S5

South Beach is better planned than Fort Lauderdale. Rather than placing their main street up against the water, South Beach has a buffer zone of hotels and then a little greenway of dunes protecting the beach which makes it much more pleasing than gaudy, noisy Fort Lauderdale Beach. I run through the jungle like foliage and across dunes on South Beach’s winding pedestrian path and stop at an outdoor public gym to do my interval workout. I have no shame. I will happily do my 41 year old version of burpies, push-ups, mountain climbers, etc out in a public space, but South Beach is seriously intimidating. I’m pretty sure that the women I hear whistling aren’t whistling for me.

After my workout, I jog the path till it ends at a canal. It’s Saturday evening and a parade of cruise ships departs Miami’s harbor. It’s times like this that I wish I had a pocket camera, something like a Canon G9x that I could carry everywhere. Instead, I do some street photography with my cell phone.

 

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

Lime Ridge Sunset

 (DavidRaboin)

My son Holden playing on Lime Ridge at sunset. Photo taken just above Ygnacio Valley Road where it goes through the open space between Walnut Creek and Concord. Canon 5Dmk3 and Canon 16-35 f4 L IS 

Spring in Central California is impossibly beautiful. The hills turn green as Ireland. I try to get out as much as I can with my camera before the sun toasts the hillsides back to their usual brown. This year, between El Nino’s frequent storms, we’ve had some great sunsets with wisps of mid and high level clouds streaming in off the Pacific.

Last week, I took the above picture of Holden while the two of us were playing around up on Lime Ridge. I love how this photo came out and it got immediate positive response. A lot of people asked me how I did it. While this picture is very special, it came about in the same way I always take photos of my kids. Here’s the expanded recipe:

  1. Taking photos of toddlers is a game. You can’t force a toddler to do anything. I’m not saying that to be politically correct. The fact is, at this age, toddlers aren’t very good at following directions and they don’t have much patience. On the flip side, toddlers have a huge curiosity about the world and they can find enjoyment in something as simple as whacking a stick against a tree. When I go out with Holden and my camera, it’s all about playing with him. Maybe I can coax him into position for a photo or a pose, but that usually only happens in the context of a game. For this photo, he was very cooperative and I got him to run up and down a little deer trail a few times for me, but that was only because he was having fun. For a good fifteen minutes before taking this picture we played rescue where I’d save him from a rocky perch and he’d jump on my back like a maniac. That got him fired up and he was in a great mood.
  2. Chose a pretty or interesting place to play. I don’t usually plan a specific photo idea, but by playing somewhere with an interesting background I increase my odds of getting a nice photo. And, it doesn’t have to be a spectacular place. I’ve taken interesting photos of my behind our neighborhood strip mall and in vacant lots. You just need a visually interesting space.
  3. It helps to have a bag of photographic tricks up your sleeve. This scene lent itself to several of my canned tricks: low angle view, sun stars, silhouette, leading lines, and a lone tree. Holden gave me only two minutes to make this photo. There’s no way I could have come up with this composition in that short amount of time if I hadn’t practiced with each individual element in other photos and other situations. Because of all that practice, I knew what I wanted the instant I saw this scene and I got to work making that photo rather than playing around with various compositional ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I love experimentation, but in some situations like this one you just don’t have enough time.
  4. Keep an eye on your camera settings. I honestly can’t remember if I shot this in manual mode or aperture priority. With the complicated lighting, I probably should’ve gone manual but I think I winged it with Av mode. When time is limited, I trust my camera’s meter — I trust but verify (barf, a Reagan quote). Every couple of shots I check the histogram to make sure the photo data isn’t getting clipped. That’s a habit of mine. If I have time to dial in the correct manual settings, then I will, because that frees me a little from the constant chimping, but when time is extremely tight, I’ll just fire away off in an auto setting rather than miss my only chance. For this exposure, I knew how my camera would react in auto mode. I’ve owned this 5D mk3 for three years and I’ve aimed it into the sun plenty of times. In matrix metering mode the 5Dmk3 does a good job keeping most of the frame within the sensor’s dynamic range, choosing to over expose the center of the sun and preserving some detail in the shadows. With fast-moving kids familiarity with your camera helps a lot.

 (DavidRaboin)

This is Holden moments earlier playing “rescue”. You can see he is having a lot of fun. Check out that tree in the background. It’s grown completely around a rock. What I really wanted at the time was a picture of Holden standing on the rock that comes out of the tree trunk but he refused. Oh well. Rather than fight with him, I looked for a different photo. That’s when we came up with the rescue game. As the sun got lower I turned around to look for more picture ideas and that’s when I picked out the lone tree in the lead photo. 

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!

Cascade Range Morning Fly Over

 (DavidRaboin)

Looking South, an aerial view of Mount Rainier and Mount Adams

Aircraft departing Seattle to the south fly past some of the well known peaks of the Cascade Range. Here’s a photographic tour of the Central Cascades. I took this pictures a few days ago while flying from Seattle to Los Angeles.

 (DavidRaboin)

Looking East, abeam Mount Rainier with the morning sun behind a thin cloud

 (DavidRaboin)

After passing Rainier, looking South at Mount Saint Helens and Spirit Lake

 (DavidRaboin)

Mount Saint Helens passes off our right side

 

*All content created by David Raboin. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Order prints of the photos featured on this blog by clicking on the image or visit our website at photos4u2c.com Support this site by using one of my links to Amazon.com. Thanks!
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