Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with Canon EF 500mm  f/4L IS lens, ISO 200, 1/2000 sec at f/5.6.

There is something special and unique about the West Coast. It is a unique combination of things – stark, rugged, wild, beautiful – with wonderful seafood to be enjoyed and  friendly, interesting people to meet. It is especially good when the weather plays ball. It certainly was when we there two weeks ago. Little wind, warm and some great photographic opportunities.

Conjunction of Venus and Jupiter

We were fortunate to experience the conjunction of Jupiter and Venus in the western evening sky – with Venus being particularly bright. Earlier in the month Venus had been directly above Jupiter just after sunset. As the month progressed the relative positions changed until they were horizontally aligned as you can see from the image below. I waited until well after sunset so that the two planets showed up well. Venus was so bright that it cast a distinct light over the ocean although the western sky was not completely dark.

                   Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with a 70-200mm f/2.8l IS II lens, ISO 12800, 30 sec at f/13.

The image vision and the photographic technique

I wanted to capture the two stars and the reflection on the ocean. I needed a smaller aperture to give the slight starburst effect, particularly on Venus. At an aperture of f/13 and a reasonable ISO setting, the resulting shutter speed would have been too slow with the planets showing excessive movement during that time. I cranked the ISO up to 12800. That still resulted in a shutter speed of 30 sec. I also just wanted to test the “high ISO” performance of the Mark IV so left the settings at 30 sec and f/13 with an ISO of 12800 knowing that, at that shutter speed and the fact that it was quite dark, these settings would emphasize the noise. I also knew that the distant stars would show their movement at that shutter speed. Thanks to the good “high ISO”performance of the Canon 1D Mark IV and the noise reduction capability of Lightroom 4,  a very acceptable image was obtained.

I am usually a low ISO shooter, as many of my images are printed and I like to show fine detail. I generally shoot at ISO 200 and 400 and very seldom at 500 or 800. It was good to see the results at much higher ISO’s.

Chasing the light

If you want to get great light at or before sunrise or at or after sunset, you need to “chase the light”. This means getting up when still dark and staying out after sunset. In the early morning there was some particularly good light and many good images were captured just before, at, or just after the sun peeped over the horizon. The lead image is a good example.

The following image was taken just as the sun appeared and was obscured by a bank of cloud. The lighthouse on the harbour wall (with its light shining) added to the atmosphere.

      Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens, ISO 400, 1/60 sec at f/9.0

I have never seen so many mussels as there were on the beach and rocks around our lodge at Shelley Point. The gulls were having a great time. They would pick one up in their bill and  hover over a rock, drop the mussel to break it open and then descend rapidly to retrieve the mussel before another gull pinched it.

         Canon EOS 1D mark IV with 500mm f/4L IS lens, hand held, ISO 400, 1/1250 sec at f/5.6 manually set

                      Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with 300mm f/2.8L IS lens, hand held, ISO 400, 1/2000 sec at f/8.