Category Archives: Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Lens

Eaton Centre Christmas

Eaton Centre - Up Into The Tree 2Christmas is a very popular time of year for photo enthusiasts to brave the cold and head out to capture the best displays that the season has to offer, but in some cases you don’t have to freeze!

A very popular spot in Toronto is the Eaton Centre atrium where every year millions of visitors are treated to different displays often crafted by graphic design companies that are paid to create the colorful Christmas installations by Cadillac Fairview.

Now I know what your thinking, malls are private property and they’re often not fans of people wandering around with cameras. This was true for the Eaton Centre until about 2006 when camera phones began to proliferate the market. I’m not sure exactly when mall security in the Eaton Centre gave up chasing people with camera phones but by 2009 they did not seem to care anymore. Security still chased people with large cameras but that changed sometime in 2012. Since then I’ve seen many hundreds, dare I say thousands of photo enthusiasts running through the mall with gear ranging from your run of the mill $20 vintage Leica to those with no less than $5000 of equipment dangling around their neck.

So if you want to beat the cold, do some shopping, enjoy a latte,  tell everyone in the Apple store how much of a rip-off the MacBook Air is and fight hipsters to the death while snapping some photos of Christmas art installations then check of the Toronto Eaton Centre.

Unintended Effects & Happy Accidents

Pigeon Liftoff by Vaughan Weather

Sometimes mistakes can become “artistic intent” or as I like to sometimes call it, a happy accident!

In this case I was trying to frame pigeons in a cluster phobic looking shot, there was a rather large cluster of them that were busy pooping on a utility pole and these pigeons were in no hurry to move anywhere, or so I thought!

While I was busy lifting the camera and doing “camera stuff” I completely ignored a big noisy street sweeper coming down the road. Apparently, pigeons hate the noise of these machines; I found it odd since they paid no attention to the passing vehicles, some of which were big noisy busses and trucks. But as soon as the machine was a stones throw from the pigeon gathering they all started taking flight!

This entire situation caught me off guard, it was early in the morning, and there was a nice yellow/golden cast against an increasingly blue sky. Because morning sunlight is never really strong and I’m always looking for the best quality photo at the lowest ISO, I was shooting at ISO 100 @ 1/125 of second with an F8 aperture for maximum clarity. These settings were perfect since the pigeons looked like statues, they simply were not moving.

Of course, as soon as I went to take the first photo the noise from the street cleaner just sent the pigeons crazy and they all took flight. I panicked and started snapping photos not even realising my settings weren’t even close to the more realistic 1/800th of a second I would need to freeze a birds flapping wings while in flight. This slow shutter speed hit me like a brick as I took the 3rd photo in my series. I quickly dialled up the ISO, shutter and kept shooting as the pigeons formed a huge mass in the sky.

Once all the action calmed down I looked at my photos. The photos in flight were cool but not overly exciting, then scrolling backwards as I hit the first three I took at the slow shutter setting I was impressed at how cool the blurred wings looked. This surprise element of motion blur brought the birds in flight to life while the motionless bunch still sitting on the wires were sharp and clear thanks to the low iso and narrow aperture.

Would you believe it, the “bad photos” were actually my favourite ones!

This just goes to show that before you curse yourself out for having the wrong settings or planning one shot when suddenly you need a whole different approach, things can sometimes work out for the better. Truth be told, I probably could not have planned a shot like this which is why it’s all the more exciting to have a happy accident.

Just remember, if anyone asks, this was always your “artistic intent”.

Cellular Sunrise

Cellular Sunrise by Vaughan Weather

You know what they say, odd numbers look good.

I did not even realize it but this lone cell phone tower is full of odd numbers, it has 3 sections of antenna, all with odd numbers!

There are 7 antenna on the top, three in the middle and 3 on the bottom (the dome at the bottom is a microwave site).

Anyhow, the main purpose of this photo was two fold. Firstly, I was waiting for the sun to rise and looking for a good photo, this tower served to fill the predawn sky and create contrast.

Second, it allowed me to test my Canon EF 2x III Extender at maximum push/zoom with my EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens.

And the results are in!

Not bad eh? I would say everything is sharp, I was shooting F10 (F8 without the extender) which seems to be the sharpest point of the lens and found a good high contrast object to see if there was any nasty aberration or softening.

As you can guess, there was none, just a nice clean image.

To that effect, I also wanted a summer sky since it is still summer and will be for another week. This will give me something pretty to look at come December!