This weekend I was casting around (internally) for a fresh approach to my favorite neighborhood photographic destination — the woodland parkland just a few blocks away from my house in Old Lake Highlands (Dallas, TX).
I had the thought of doing a study of the miraculously sculptural branches of local crepe myrtle trees, some of which are found down at Norbuck Park beyond the densely wooded zone.
To make this work, I thought about using a very small aperture in my exposures to create the maximum depth of field. I decided (in the day-before planning stages) to carry along a tripod and cable release to make such work more manageable.
But come the morning of the shoot, the lighting conditions (bright sunlight) seemed less than conducive to such a study. So instead, I decided on a sort of themed photo outing – I’d call it “f22” and use that aperture for all images taken that day.
The resulting images are posted here — some of which were shot from the tripod (the HDR ones) — and all of which were exposed at higher-than-typical ISO for the daylight conditions (640 or 500). On the tripod mounted shots, I went so far as to delve into the 5D Mk11’s dense custom settings menus in order to find the mirror lockup option. (It took me literally 5-7 minutes to finally find it, though I have been there many times before. Thanks a lot Canon.)
I chose the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens — which I almost never carry in the field, due to the versatility and excellent sharpness of the zoom lenses in my kit — because a) I spent good money on the thing as a replacement for the 1.8 “nifty fifty” several years back, and b) I thought the limitation of the fixed focal length went along well with the discipline of the theme I had chosen. Having to move around a bit to position the focal plane seemed like an instructive compositional exercise in itself.
In the post processing stage, I was vividly reminded about something I once knew in regard to photos of the sky taken at miniscule apertures: they’re great at showing dust particles on your sensor. Even though the 5DII employs a self-cleaning system (which, as I understand it, shakes the sensor every time the camera is actuated), I still discovered several nasty little dust spots. In the images where they were most apparent (at high magnification) I removed them with PS’s spot repair tool. No big deal.
Rather a fun expedition, and a definite learning process — plus a reminder of lessons already learned. I highly recommend some sort of themed photo exercise for your next camera-in-hand outing.