August 15, 2007

Visions in Green

and wonderfully i fell through the green groove
of twilight striking into many a piece.  –ee cummings

I think the country of Ireland deserves its own color space: the famous “Forty Shades of Green” are a malachite manhandling of your optic nerves that can’t be done justice using the puny ProPhoto or anything else.  We need iRGB*–Irish RGB–with the capacity to describe hilariously green tones found nowhere else in nature.

In the meantime, here are my photos from Ireland.  Once you’ve clicked the gallery for the first time, you can move through the images using left and right arrow keys.  A few notes/thoughts:

  • Upside of asking a pro photographer friend for shooting/gear advice before a trip like this: He’ll offer good suggestions, such as bringing a graduated ND filter (which I wish I’d done).  Downside: He’ll show you images he took in the same spots, making you slap your forehead in dismay.  (Thanks a lot, Steve, ;-))
  • I continue to wish that Flash respected color profiles.  Because it doesn’t, the colors in the gallery are totally washed out**, at least on a Mac.  (Right-click/Cmd-click any one of them to see the difference, at least in Safari.)  We’ll keep working towards a solution.
  • I hate disrupting a scene using a flash, so I’m itching to replace my 17-85mm f4 lens with something comparable but faster.  The surprising thing (to me, anyway) is that Canon’s higher-end glass (e.g. the 24-70mm f2.8) doesn’t offer image stabilization.  I’m not sure why that is, or whether losing it would hurt images relative to my current lens.
  • Speaking of green grooves, we referred to various roadways as “green bobsled” tracks–emerald walls whipping by in disturbingly close proximity to one’s head.  Coming around a bend to find a Ford Focus leaning at a 45-degree angle, two wheels firmly up on a stone fence, was a useful cautionary moment.  In describing the trip to her folks, I overheard my wife say, “They drive like the English.” “No,” I interjected, “they drive like Evel Knievel.”  Sadly I couldn’t get any of this on film (er, sensor?).
  • Someday I’d love to try shooting “The Clash of the Ash,” hurling–“the world’s fastest field team sport.”  Unlike soccer/football, this is a game Americans could dig–not the kind of thing about which Stephen Colbert could quip, “I’ll help you tell the boring scoreless matches from the riveting scoreless matches.)

* Thanks to Outback Photo for the color space graphic.
** Here’s a screenshot from a new iPhoto gallery, comparing the identical images shown via Safari (above) to those shown via a Flash gallery (below).

Posted by John Nack at 5:29 PM on August 15, 2007

Comments

  • Charles — 6:43 PM on August 15, 2007

    If you want a fast lens to replace your your 17-85 lens, you should check out the new Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM. Everyone is raving about it, and man that’s a fast lens. I never had any problems working with prime lenses instead of zooms, but obviously you’ll lose the wide angle.
    [Thanks for the suggestion. I frequently use my friend’s 85mm 1.8 lens. The speed and sharpness are great, but it’s certainly a challenge to use at parties, etc. where people refuse to stand still. Plus, with the 1.6x focal length multiplier of my DSLR, 85mm ends up being pretty long. I’ve actually been considering going the other direction, towards the 35mm f2 lens. (I find it hard to justify an extra $1000 to justify the f1.4 version of the lens, but maybe I’m missing something important. –J.]

  • Sean McCormack — 8:22 PM on August 15, 2007

    John,
    I’d shown you some nice spots near me ;)
    [Ah, that’s the downside to traveling with/to one’s family: not much chance to break away, noodle around, and really spend time shooting. I’ll be back, though. –J.]
    The 24-70 lives on my 30D. Unless I’m doing Landscapes, then I pull out the Sigma 10-20. With Hard ND Grads of course ;)
    Sean

  • Dave — 12:41 AM on August 16, 2007

    You’re right about that green — I had to pull over several times to confirm I was really seeing fluorescent lime chartreuse in reality.

  • Zdeto — 2:37 AM on August 16, 2007

    John,
    Nice pictures you’ve got here and I love the panoramas you took.
    You should post them on Flickr!
    [Thanks! –J.]

  • keith — 8:14 AM on August 16, 2007

    hey you’re back, yah. your photos look fine
    back to your blogdom before the rest of ’em take over.
    miss the quirky posts, links & stuff. do we get a rebate for the time you were away?

  • Christopher James Norris — 8:23 AM on August 16, 2007

    Not sure which Canon you’re using, but if you’re okay with EF-S mount lenses, I’d highly recommend the 17-55mm f2.8 image stabilized lens. The quality is fantastic, 2.8 is plenty wide, and the IS helps immensely. It’s not too long, and it’s just a fabulous all-around lens.
    [Good to know, thanks. I forgot to mention that my desire to shoot in low light also makes me think about moving to a 5D. That in turn makes me wary of investing further in EF-S lenses. –J.]
    And I totally agree with you about flash and color profiles. We’ve used flash for some color-sensitive applications in the past and that was a problem.

  • Adolfo Rozenfeld — 9:55 AM on August 16, 2007

    Amazing photos, John! Seriously.
    Looks like you had a great time there.
    [Thanks, Adolfo. :-) I’m a sucker for positive reinforcement. –J.]
    Rather than the stabilization, for me the problem with the 24-70 f2.8 lens is that it may kill the whole enjoyment of traveling. It’s like going on a trip carrying weightlifting equipment :)
    [Yeah, I’ve experienced that with the 70-200 2.8. But boy, what a cool lens that is. Plus I’m the kind of guy who opts to lug a 17″ laptop plus two batteries, so I’m pretty load-tolerant. –J.]

  • Charles — 10:45 AM on August 16, 2007

    John, looks like you’re making the proper evaluation, and the reduced-size sensor and the subsequent focal length increase is the problem here.
    I keep advising a friend of mine with this same situation. He shoots billiards tournaments in poor lighting conditions, using a Canon 10D and some sort of 70-200 zoom that’s not very fast, like f/4something. I keep telling him, get the 85mm f/1.2 and a Canon 5D, the resolution increase will give him the ability to “zoom” to 200mm just by cropping and his cropped images will still be higher rez than what he’s shooting now. And the increase in light gathering power with the f/1.2 will make it all worthwhile.
    But if you stick with the mini-sensor camera you’ve got, you might like the Canon EF 50mm f / 1.2L USM.
    Anyway, this is just a message to not fear a fixed focal length “prime” lens. They do work well. Just get used to walking closer or farther to the subject, you have to “work the subject” rather than just standing there and letting the zoom do the work.

  • Pedro Estarque — 8:44 AM on August 17, 2007

    Nice shots John, great to have you back.
    [Thanks, Pedro. –J.]
    Thanks for introducing me to Steve Uzzell’s work, amazing !
    It reminds me that I should go back to shooting in the wild for my own joy every now and then, instead of being stuck at the studio shooting cosmetics all day long.

  • Pedro Estarque — 9:55 AM on August 17, 2007

    About prime lenses: I have a nikon macro 200mm and the quality is unbeatable, but the difference from a good zoom lens is most of the times neglectable, considering the flexibility that it brings you. The nikon 18-200mm is almost like the “only lens you’ll ever need”, the image stabilization is great and it makes up for the “dark” 3.5f.
    Optics has come a long way and zoom lenses don’t suck as much as they used to in my opinion. I’m not talking about cheap kit lenses though; you will have to spend more. Even the cheapest prime will give you a good result but that’s not true with zoom ones.
    For personal stuff I find myself using primes more, basically because they are lighter, cheaper ( I don’t have to be as careful ) and most of the times faster. But I have the liberty to “foot zoom” and use panoramas. That’s not always the case in my work.

  • Eric Welch — 11:46 PM on August 20, 2007

    John, the 24-70 2.8 is big enough as it is. It’s size with IS mechanism would make it even bigger. I’ve used it undergound in emerald mines in Colombia and Brazil with little problem. But I also pack the 24mm 1.4 L series lens to keep things “light.”
    IS is more useful for telephoto lenses. The problem with IS that people forget is that subjects are moving and no amount of IS is going to stop them from moving. That is, unless their movement is so small that smart sharpen can fix it, right? :-D
    So with a 2.8 lens, you’re better off than with an f/4 lens with IS, because your shutter speed is twice as fast. I hate using flash unless absolutely necessary. And I find that there’s nothing like a fast lens to make things interesting. But only someone who shoots profesionally can really justify spending the money on these serious toys like the 85mm 1.2 or the 50mm 1.2 (or the Leica 50mm 1.0!) even though the incredible images that result will make you glad you bought them afterwards.
    [Thanks for the perspective, Eric. It’s certainly easy to get bewildered by all the options. –J.]

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