21 March 2019

My most liked bird image from Woodbridge Island

'Grey Heron Stepping-out' - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
'Grey Heron Stepping-out' - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Sometimes is not the camera or the lens, but rather an interesting subject, pose or story.

For me, its not really (always) about the gear, but what I can achieve with whatever body / lens is in my hands. Of course, planned body and lens selection for a specific genre should improve the photographer's expected outcome...

Of all my bird images, this image (over a few years) returned thousands of Likes (and very interesting comments) on a variety of Facebook Pages - much to my surprise.

The image is of rather poor quality - captured at distance with an EOS 700D and a first generation EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens many years ago.

I was not even aware of the shot until a few days later. Out of curiosity I posted the image to see if there would be any interest - and without doubt this image is still the most liked and commented photograph out of any of my cameras.

Source: Woodbridge Island Bird Species

20 March 2019

Red-Knobbed Coot - Woodbridge Island

We have a quite a few of these coots down at the Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island - most of the time just swimming around and the occasional departure / take-ff. I didn't expect this movement mid-morning, but nevertheless captured the first coot for the Woodbridge Island website.

 All photos by Vernon Chalmers with Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens. (Manual Mode: f5.6 / ISO 640 / 1/5000s / 10 fps / AI Servo / Extended Zone AF / AF Case 1 / Handheld).

(Click to Enlarge)
Red-Knobbed Coot - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Red-knobbed Coot : Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens Woodbridge Island, Cape Town 


Red-Knobbed Coot - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Red-knobbed Coot : Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens Woodbridge Island, Cape Town


Red-Knobbed Coot - Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Coot : Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens Woodbridge Island, Cape Town


Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photography Gallery
Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photography Gallery

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town

Bird Species Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Bird Species Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

15 March 2019

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens Zoom Demo Cape Town

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens Zoom Demo - Cape Town
Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens : Different Focal Lengths

Objective: Demonstrating the difference between five focal lengths when using the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens (paired with the Canon EOS 7D Mark II) across the Diep River, Woodbridge Island Cape Town.

Note: All photos handheld with no cropping in Av mode (except the last image). Images captured in RAW (JPG conversion via Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5.7).

Distance to Subject(s)
+- 50 - 60 meters

Av Mode - Aperture Priority Settings
  • f/8 
  • ISO 100 
  • Auto-Focus 
  • Image Rehabilitation (Mode 1) Handheld

(Click to Enlarge)
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Test - Cape Town @ 100mm
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Test - Cape Town @ 100mm

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Test - Cape Town @ 135mm
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Test - Cape Town @ 135mm

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Test - Cape Town @ 200mm
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Test - Cape Town @ 200mm

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Test - Cape Town @ 300mm
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Test - Cape Town @ 300mm

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Test - Cape Town @ 400mm
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Test - Cape Town @ 400mm

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Test - Cape Town @ 400mm  -- Cropped --
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Zoom Test - Cape Town @ 400mm
  -- Cropped --

Canon EOS 7D Mark II - First Impressions and Test Shoots

Small birds enjoying the sun at Woodbridge Island

Photographing Small birds at Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
I captured these small bird species in the Table Bay Nature Reserve close to Woodbridge Island / Milnerton Cape Town: Perched Pied Kingfisher, Cape Sparrow, Levaillant's Cisticola, Weavers and a low flying Starling (under the old wooden bridge). 

All photos by Vernon Chalmers with Canon EOS 7D Mark II and Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens - handheld in good light. All birds captured with my standard Birds in Flight Photography settings.

(Click to Enlarge)
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Reserve / Woodbridge Island
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Nature Reserve Cape Town

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Reserve / Woodbridge Island
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Reserve / Woodbridge Island

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Reserve / Woodbridge Island
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Reserve / Woodbridge Island

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Reserve / Woodbridge Island
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Nature Reserve  Cape Town

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Reserve / Woodbridge Island
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Nature Reserve Cape Town

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Reserve / Woodbridge Island
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Nature Reserve  Cape Town

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Reserve / Woodbridge Island
Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Table Bay Nature Reserve  Cape Town

Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm Lens - Table Bay Reserve / Woodbridge Island
Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Table Bay Nature Reserve  Cape Town


Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Table Bay Nature Reserve / Woodbridge Island
Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Table Bay Nature Reserve Cape Town

Difference between Digital Noise and Background Blur

Difference between Digital Noise and Background Blur
Blur can really mean different things in digital photography, but should not to be confused with unwanted graininess or digital noise across a digitally created image. Unwanted noise generally occurs when:
  • shooting in low light, when a digital camera's ISO setting is too high
  • shooting within the digital zoom range of a compact camera 
  • over-cropping an image

Unwanted blur
Out-of-focus blurred area(s) in an image that came about via unintentional camera movement, unwanted subject movement and / or wrong shutter speed settings when photographing movement - something you don't really want.


Deliberate blur
This will appear in areas of the image when the photographer attempts to blur certain areas of a composition / image. With foreground in focus, but the background deliberately blurred depending on the Depth Of Field (DOF) - distance between nearest and farthest object(s) of the composition / framing requirements ie. when isolating a flower from its immediate surroundings.

Deep vs Shallow Depth-Of-Field (DOF)
With a deep DOF more of the entire image will be in focus and its more likely to be used in Landscape Photography with smaller apertures of ie. f/11 - f16. With shallow DOF specific area(s) of an image is deliberately out of focus and can be applied in a variety of genres (Wildlife / Sport / Macro / Portraits) where the photographer deliberately wants to separate the main subject from the background - for this effect, larger apertures will be applied ie. f/1.8 - 5.6. 


DOF Aperture Test: Canon EOS 6D / EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens - view>>

DOF flower series demonstration with Canon EOS 700D / EF-S 55-250 IS II lens - view>>



The visual quality of [deliberate] blur is also referred to as Bokeh
Bokeh: visual quality of the blur...The visual quality of [deliberate] blur is also referred to as Bokeh - Japanese for the out-of-focus aesthetic quality of the deliberate out-of-focus (blurred) area. a Wide aperture of i.e. f/1.8 - f/5.6 or so will be used (depending on the lens / optical distance from subject) to create the required out-of-focus effect.

See attached images below: white rose bud, the yellow rose and red rose bud with sharp / in-focus foreground sharp and background deliberately blurred (using wide apertures of f/5.8 and f/5.6). 

Lens apertures
In DSLR photography different lenses are used to create / select different levels of DOF depending on the lens aperture range, optical length of the lens and distance from subject. Different lenses / aperture settings will be applied  for different type of photography genres requiring blur effects at various focal lengths ie. for close-up / macro, portraiture or wildlife photography.  a  DSLR camera system is not necessarily required for creating deliberate image blur, a compact camera with a wide aperture lens with some optical zoom will also work. 

The images below were captured with apertures of f5.6 Yellow Rose (Non-DSLR Canon PowerShot SX40 HS with its f/2.7 - 5.8 35x telephoto zoom lens) and  f/5.6 Red Rose Bud (EOS 700D / EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5 - 5.6 IS STM lens / EF-S 55-250mm f/4 - 5.6 IS II lens).


Canon EOS 6D / EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens / Extension Tue
Which Canon lenses?
Desired Bokeh-effects for close-up or macro flower photography can be achieved with a variety of lenses with wide apertures i.e. with fix aperture lenses such as Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM or the EF 100mm f2.9 Macro USM prime lenses.

Any Canon DSLR camera body with either an EF or EF-S lens (or other compatible lenses) attached will generate deliberate background / selected blur, but the Bokeh quality will depend on the following factors:

  • Aperture settings (wider is better) 
  • Type of EF / EF-S lens (design and optical length) 
  • Depth of field of objects in the frame 
  • Distance to subject / lighting conditions 
  • Accessories used (extension tubes / close-up filters) 

Different lighting conditions
In all the images the objective was to keep the 'unwanted digital noise' across the frame as low as possible. For the "Yellow Rose' image, shot with Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, I used ISO 100 (in crisp early morning sun light) and the 'Red Rose Bud', shot with the Canon EOS 700D, I used ISO 400 with a Speedlite 430 EX II flash (in early morning overcast / raining conditions).

Canon EOS 6D / Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens
Photographers use blur for various shallow depth-of-field / artistic effects (image on the right - 'blue flower' and first image below - 'red mailbox' with Canon EOS 6D both at an aperture of f/2.8 with Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM lens. 

Last image 'bee on flower' was captured with Canon EOS 700D /  55-250mm IS II lens and Canon 500D close-up lens filter), Bee in focus, most of the flower blurred / out of focus, in a deliberate, aperture-controlled and planned way.

Optimal exposure settings
Just to come back to noise - you may have noticed that many of my own photos are not always shot in good lighting conditions. Most of my low light / long exposure DSLR photography shoots are done in Av mode, ISO 100 and apertures between f/16 - f/22 generating automatic shutter speeds of between 1 and 30 seconds.


I often use the camera's Manual shooting mode with similar aperture settings and Bulb Mode - the ability to have manual time control over shutter speeds during every single shot. A time to use this mode is when shooting fireworks. These exposure combinations together with the use of a tripod and RC-6 remote shutter release, almost entirely limits all unwanted  noise / graininess and unwanted blur. © Vernon Chalmers

(click to enlarge)
Difference between Digital Noise and Background Blur
Canon EOS 6D / EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens flash


Difference between Digital Noise and Background Blur
Canon EOS 700D   ISO 100  f/5.6  No Flash


Difference between 'digital noise' and subject / background blur
Canon PowerShot SX40 HS   ISO 100  f/5.8 


Canon EOS 700D ISO 400  f/5.6  Flash  Photo: © Vernon Chalmers
Canon EOS 700D   ISO 400  f/5.6  Flash 


Difference between Digital Noise and Background Blur
Canon EOS 700D   ISO 100  f/5.6  No Flash 


More Depth Of Field (DOF) Examples: DSLR / Non-DSLR / More Bee On Flower with Close-Up Filter

Flamingo landing: Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island

A welcome return of the Greater Flamingos after the Cape Town winter
Greater Flamingo landing in the Milnerton Lagoon, Woodbridge Island Cape Town.

 All photos by Vernon Chalmers with Canon EOS 70D / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM lens (Manual Mode / Fast Shutter speeds 1/2500s / Handheld). Al Servo Focus / 7 frames per second. Zone Autofocus.

(Click To Enlarge)
Flamingo landing: Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Flamingo Landing: Canon EOS 70D / Woodbridge Island Cape Town


Flamingo landing: Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Flamingo Landing: Canon EOS 70D / Woodbridge Island Cape Town


Flamingo landing: Milnerton Lagoon / Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Flamingo Landing: Canon EOS 70D / Woodbridge Island Cape Town


Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photography Gallery
Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photography Gallery

Cape Town Birds in Flight Photography
Cape Town Birds in Flight Photography


Bird Species Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Bird Species Woodbridge Island, Cape Town

Bird in Flight image photoshopped or not?

Photoshopped Image? A comment from a visitor on my Canon Camera Facebook Page after viewing one of my Birds in Flight Photography images.

Reed cormorant over the Diep River, Woodbridge Island - Copyright Vernon Chalmers
With Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens  : Copyright Vernon Chalmers

My response: "I don't know why you should think that photographers are not capable of achieving good results with knowledge, skills and planning? IMHO you should spend more time developing your own photographic skills for understanding and appreciating the work of others.

Other than that I take your comment as a compliment. Thank you. Reference to the images should you even be remotely interested in look at any non photoshopped images. View here "

For the record: I do all my image post-processing in Adobe Lightroom 6 (desktop) with no interest in / or access to Adobe Photoshop.

Image: Low-flying reed cormorant over the Diep River, Woodbridge Island. Captured with Canon EOS 7D Mark II / EF 400mm f/5.6L lens 

Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm Lens

Copyright Vernon Chalmers: Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm Lens
Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D
Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra-Wide Lens : Different Focal Lengths - Cape Town

After sunset / sunrise long exposure photography with Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra-Wide lens (paired with the Full Frame Canon EOS 6D) across the two Woodbridge Island bridges, Milnerton Lighthouse and Table Mountain, Cape Town.


Ultra-Wide Lens
My Canon EF 16-35mm f/4 IS USM lens is without doubt one of my favourate lenses (paired with the full frame Canon EOS 6D). This lens will be equivalent to 10-18mm / 10-22mm Canon EF-S ultra-wide / wide-angle lenses on Canon APS-C / Crop bodies.

Note: All photos in Av mode, on Manfrotto tripod. Post-processing in Lightroom 6.


Shooting LocationWoodbridge Island, Cape Town

Canon EOS 6D Av Mode - Aperture Priority Settings

  • Aperture: f/16 
  • ISO 100 
  • Shutter speed: 30s 
  • Manfrotto Tripod 190X MK190X3-3W

Before Sunrise - Woodbridge Island / Cape Town

Copyright Vernon Chalmers: Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm Lens
Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra-Wide Lens

Copyright Vernon Chalmers: Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm Lens
Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra-Wide Lens

Copyright Vernon Chalmers: Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm Lens
Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra-Wide Lens

Copyright Vernon Chalmers: Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm Lens
Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra-Wide Lens

Copyright Vernon Chalmers: Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm Lens
Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra-Wide Lens

Copyright Vernon Chalmers: Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm Lens
Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra-Wide Lens

Copyright Vernon Chalmers: Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm Lens
Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra-Wide Lens

After Sunset - Milnerton Beach / Cape Town

Copyright Vernon Chalmers: Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm Lens
Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra-Wide Lens

Copyright Vernon Chalmers: Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm Lens
Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra-Wide Lens

Copyright Vernon Chalmers: Long Exposure Photography - Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm Lens
Canon EOS 6D / EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Ultra-Wide Lens

Canon Long Exposure / Night Photography Setup & Tips

Canon Long Exposure / Night Photography Setup & Tips

01 March 2019

Malachite Kingfisher in Flight - Woodbridge Island

'Far and Fast' - Woodbridge Island's elusive Malachite Kingfisher
Woodbridge Island's elusive Malachite Kingfisher
During a quick hike this morning I spotted the elusive Malachite kingfisher in the Table Bay Nature Reserve just off Woodbridge Island (opposite the Milnerton Golf Course).

The in-flight images are the first I've ever captured in more than four years pursuing this little colourful bird - in this time I've only spotted the Malachite kingfisher a few times. For some reason they are very scarce and not really part of the 'mainstream' bird life around Woodbridge Island.

The Malachite kingfishers are more common around Intaka Island, Century City, with many sightings (and captured images by many photographers) and breeding. More common around Woodbridge Island, Cape Town is the Pied kingfisher and to a lesser extend the Giant kingfisher (of which we see a few times a month predominately flying away, towards the old wooden bridge).

Image quality of these Malachite kingfisher is unfortunately not that great (far and overcast conditions). Credit must go to the Canon EOS AF System of the Canon EOS 7D Mark II. Absolutely no issue tracking the bird in flight, just wished it was closer in better light conditions - the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens at f/4 to f/5.6 (with Canon EF 1.4x teleconverter) would probably have given better results.

For most Birds in Flight captures around Woodbridge Island, Cape Town, the Canon EOS 7D Mark II / 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens combination is outstanding in terms of:
  • Autofocus speed
  • AI Servo tracking
  • 10 frames per second
  • Image quality
  • Auto-ISO

Canon Gear Used
Malachite kingfisher images captured with Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon 400mm f/5.6L USM Lens - Manual Mode / Large (Wide) Zone AF / Case 1.

(Click to Enlarge)
Malachite Kingfisher- Table Bay Nature Reserve Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Malachite Kingfisher Perched - Table Bay Nature Reserve, Cape Town

Malachite Kingfisher- Table Bay Nature Reserve Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Malachite Kingfisher in flight - Table Bay Nature Reserve, Cape Town

Malachite Kingfisher- Table Bay Nature Reserve Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Malachite Kingfisher in flight - Table Bay Nature Reserve, Cape Town 

Malachite Kingfisher- Table Bay Nature Reserve Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Malachite Kingfisher in flight - Table Bay Nature Reserve, Town

Malachite Kingfisher- Table Bay Nature Reserve Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Malachite Kingfisher in flight - Table Bay Nature Reserve, Cape Town

Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photo Gallery
Canon EOS 7D Mark II - Birds in Flight Photo Gallery

Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town
Birds in Flight Photography Cape Town

Bird Species Woodbridge Island, Cape Town
Bird Species Woodbridge Island, Cape Town