a teatray in the sky

what they say is true

Posted in 5D Mark II, Georgetown, Photography, Technique and Development by firthefirst on March 14, 2010

better gear doesn’t make you a better photographer.  it’s a tough pill to swallow, but we all have to own up to it sooner or later.  it’s one of those things in life that’s not like learning to ride a bike – you have to keep re-realizing this fact as you progress.

Tina and I spent part of the afternoon out and about in Georgetown, despite the rain.  part of it was shoe shopping (Tina) and part of it was seeing if the new 5D Mark II could really handle 10mm in 3 minutes (John).

I’m happy to report that on both accounts, we were successful.  not so successful was the photography.  I know some people named Stephen are out there waiting for me to do some real shooting with the 5D Mk II.  I came, I saw, I failed to conquer.  Caesar I am not.  at least not today.

but the photographic grind is like the texas hold’em grind.  sure, you bitch and moan about how “it’s not a game, it’s a grind, it’s like work” but I’m going to call B.S. on that right now, it’s the best damn grind on earth and it’s nothing at all like work.  work never involves recalculating your betting strategy after a wild flop.  work never involves mucking about with a viewfinder the size of a Tribeca apartment and bokeh creamy enough to cook with.

so what was it that made me rule today a bit of a slog?

it certainly wasn’t the equipment.  as Tina noted the other night when she first picked up the 5D Mk II, the camera feels great in your hand.  carrying it around for an hour and a half with the 24-70 brickfest of a lens inspired none of the lower thumb pain that the 30D occasionally generates.  the focusing was sweet and solid and I could actually tell what the hell I was focusing on thanks to the ginormous viewfinder.  the 24-70L handles excellently, as both zooming and focusing are knife-through-butter smooth.  between the sensor and the lens, the colors that came out even in the rain are nothing like what I would see from the 30D (even with the fantastic 50 f/1.4 on it).

the thing is, lately I’ve tasked myself with putting together not just disparate shots when I go out, but a series, a set containing relevant stylistic and narrative themes, so when it comes time to post-process, there’s a clear and unified approach that suggests itself.  that’s what fell short today.  case in point:

I think it’s fine as a photo, but nothing about it relates to the top image.  frankly, it looks like it was taken on a different day in a different place.  (please do take a moment to soak in the natural colors in this image.  you just can’t get this purity with Sigma glass.  yes I know it’s just red, green, and blue dots.  but I also know that no amount of post-processing gets Sigma glass looking like Canon glass)

the picture below works a bit better with the opener, it’s got a similar palette, the same bleached DC-drizzle feel, and most importantly carries the theme of pattern within shape.  but it lacks some kick to it.

tomorrow we switch tracks from photography to food.  you can figure out where we ate and get a peek at Tina’s impressions over at her place.

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3 Responses

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  1. Tina said, on March 14, 2010 at 10:21 pm

    oooooohs and ahhhhhhhs galore. the image quality really is fantastic and completely insane when compared to the sigma. i still don’t understand how the canon lens magically made it look like it was sunny out though??

    • firthefirst said, on March 15, 2010 at 6:17 am

      I don’t think that part was the lens; it’s the camera’s auto white balance kicking in and reducing the blueness that makes your brain think “cloudy day”. the obvious solution is to warm everything up and make it feel more inviting … but I’m wondering if heightening that blueness might actually be the way to go. guess I’ll try PP’ing a few with that in mind

  2. stephen yang said, on March 15, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    droooool full frame…


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