23 March 2019

Portraits of Birds: World of Birds Hout Bay, Cape Town

Bird image while testing the Canon EOS 7D Mark II in Cape Town, South Africa
Canon EOS 7D Mark II / Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens - Portraits of Birds - Cape Town

Objective: 2015 testing of the then relatively new Canon EOS 7D Mark II body / EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II USM lens with ISO's between 800 - 6400. 

Note: Hand-held in Av mode. All images processed in Lightroom 5.7. Converted from RAW to JPG. Lens profile correction. Minor colour correction and some noise reduction.

Conditions: Overcast and mostly in low light (due to aviaries / enclosures)

Canon EOS 7D Mark II First Impressions Article / Stand-Out Features >>

Cape Town Location

World of Birds Hout Bay, Cape Town

Canon Equipment
  • Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR camera body 
  • Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens 

Aperture Priority Mode Settings

  • Aperture: f/5 - 6.3 
  • ISO 800 - 6400
  • Shutter speed: 1/250 - 1/2000s 
  • Focal length 263 - 400mm 
  • Image Stabilization on (Mode 1) 
  • Auto-Focus mode (Case 1)
  • Single Shot
  • Handheld
(Click to Enlarge / Slideshow)
Portraits of Birds with Canon EOS 7D Mark II Cape Town
Canon EOS 7D Mark II - World of Birds Hout Bay Cape Town

Portraits of Birds with Canon EOS 7D Mark II Cape Town
Canon EOS 7D Mark II - World of Birds Hout Bay Cape Town

Portraits of Birds with Canon EOS 7D Mark II Cape Town
Canon EOS 7D Mark II World of Birds Hout Bay Cape Town

Bird image while testing the Canon EOS 7D Mark II in Cape Town, South Africa
Canon EOS 7D Mark II World of Birds Hout Bay Cape Town
Canon EOS 7D Mark II World of Birds Hout Bay Cape Town

Portraits of Birds with Canon EOS 7D Mark II Cape Town
Canon EOS 7D Mark II World of Birds Hout Bay Cape Town


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

    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