Exploring the Canon 5D Mark IV's Creative Options on Route 66

August 24, 2017

This is Part III of my three-part Route 66 series here in the Canon Digital Learning Center.

Well my friends we are getting close to the end of the road, so to speak, in my three-part Route 66 series exclusively here in the Canon Digital Learning Center. I hope you are enjoying the ride.

Here are a few more photographs and thoughts from the trip as well as some tips on using the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Fast AF

One of the features I like about the Canon 5D Mark IV is fast autofocusing. When photographing a fast-moving subject, such as this train speeding past me in Gallup, New Mexico, set your camera on the AI Servo AF mode. In this setting, the camera tracks the subject right up to the moment of exposure so you get a sharp image. When a subject is not moving, use the One Shot AF mode, which locks the focus on the subject, or anywhere in the scene you choose.

If you plan to photograph lots of fast-moving subjects you will want to master back-button focus, which separates focusing from shutter release. The advantage here is that you can set the focus without accidentally pressing the shutter release and potentially missing a shot. Just about every Explorer of Light I know who photographs wildlife uses back-button focus.

Make Pictures

I like to make pictures and not just take pictures. That was also Ansel Adams’ philosophy. To make the opening picture I stood on the roof of my friend’s car. I got the idea from a photograph I had seen of Ansel Adams standing on the roof of his car. You can easily find this photo by doing a Google search.

I chose that rooftop position to eliminate distracting foreground elements so your eye is drawn directly to the train by the tracks, which acts as leading lines in this photograph.  Good composition begins with where you shoot the picture from, and using camera angles that accentuate your primary subject!

Low Noise in Low Light

I made this in-camera HDR photograph of Robert Randazzo, owner of Absolutely Neon in Albuquerque, New Mexico. To get a sharp shot I set my camera on a tripod and asked Robert to hold very still.

HDR (EV 0, EV +2 and EV -2) was needed to capture the brightness range of the scene. I chose the HDR Standard mode to get accurate color in the final image — especially important in a shot with prominent skin tones.

Picture Styles and GPS

I mentioned Picture Style and GPS data in the two previous parts of this series, but I feel as though they are worth mentioning again.

I took this picture in Tent Rocks near Santa Fe, New Mexico with my camera set to the RAW Image Quality mode. My final result was a full color file. However, to get an idea of how the scene would look in black-and-white before I took the picture, I set my camera to the Monochrome Picture Style, which showed a black-and-white JPEG version of the scene on the camera’s LCD monitor. I liked the black-and-white rendition, so I processed my color file in Adobe® Lightroom® to create a monochrome image.

Here is the GPS data for the remote location where I took my favorite photograph at Tent Rocks. I’d like to go back someday, so now I know exactly where to go – and now you know where to go to get the shot!

Some of today’s mid-range and upper-end cameras have GPS built-in; nearly every recent Canon EOS camera that doesn’t have it built-in can accept an optional accessory GPS device from Canon.  

In-camera HDR

The detail captured by the Canon 5D Mark IV’s in-camera HDR is rather remarkable. In this image (EV 0, EV +2, EV -2) you can see all the outside details AND you can see inside the building. I think the moon is well exposed in this pre-sunrise image.

As I mentioned before, the EOS 5D Mark IV’s built-in HDR always shoots three RAW source image files. When using third-party computer software for making HDR images, make sure you take enough exposures over and under the recommended camera setting to ensure that the highlights are not blown out and that you can, as illustrated here, see into the shadows. You can do this by checking the image on the camera’s LCD monitor as well as checking the histogram.

Easy Access Camera Controls

This image, taken in the Route 66 Auto Museum in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, is the result of using my camera’s Live View feature (which helps big time with creative composition) and the camera’s AEB (Automatic Exposure Bracketing) feature, which I used to take seven RAW exposures to ultimately create the HDR image later in the computer.

For a unique view I used my Canon 8-15mm fisheye zoom lens set at 15mm. I set my camera on a tripod in the back seat of the car and used the camera’s self-timer to trip the shutter. I don’t over-use this lens, but I always have it with me for creative effects.

I only had a few minutes to make this image because there were lots of people in the museum and I had to work fast. Having quick and easy access to all camera controls helped me make one of my favorite inside-to-outside HDR images.

Exposure Metering Modes

I know this photograph has too much “dead” space, also known in the world of composition as “negative space.” However, I composed the scene in this manner because I was envisioning a cover shot, with room for a book or magazine title at top and copy at the bottom.  This image was taken with Live View, composing the shot on the LCD monitor.

To get a good exposure of the white wigwam against the darker surrounding area, I used my camera’s spot meter, which actually puts a spot on the center of the camera’s LCD monitor to clearly define what it’s metering. How cool is that!

For most of my photographs, however, I use the camera’s Evaluative metering mode, which measures the different brightness levels in a scene and determines the best exposure. If I think an area of a scene will be too dark or too bright, I will use the camera’s exposure composition feature (the wheel on the back of the camera) to dial in a good exposure.

Manual Metering Mode

In tricky lighting situations, and when I have the time to fine-tune an in-camera image, I use the Manual mode that lets me choose the shutter speed and aperture for a good exposure.

Due to the contrast range inside the San Miguel Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and because I had time, I decided to set my camera to the Manual Exposure mode. I enjoyed the process of carefully selecting the aperture/shutter speed combination to make this photograph.  In this case, at ISO 200, this picture was taken at a slow 1.6 second shutter speed, and f/13. When you have time, and if you want to learn more about creative exposures, go Manual. Try it. You will like it.

Super-Sharp Images

You might think this super-sharp closeup photograph of a piece of petrified wood was taken with a true macro lens. However, it’s a cropped version of a photograph that I took with my Canon 16-35mm lens. Yes, there is so much detail in the files produced by the Canon 5D Mark IV and this lens that even cropped files show great detail.

White Balance Options

Color affects the mood (and accuracy) of a photograph, so choosing the “right” white balance setting is important. Sure, we can easily change the white balance setting in Canon Digital Photo Professional, Lightroom and Photoshop®, but why not get it right in-camera?

This set of photographs, all taken on a sunny day in Red Rock State Park, illustrate three different in-camera white-balance settings. From left to right: Daylight, which shows a natural look; Cloudy, which adds a warmer tone to the scene; and Tungsten, which adds a cool, perhaps nighttime look to the scene.

Wide Dynamic Range

Check out the contrast range in this nighttime photograph of Absolutely Neon. You can see detail in the sky and on the brightly lit building. This is just another example of the detail that can be captured in a single Canon 5D Mark IV file.

To create the streaking-light effect, I set my camera, mounted on tripod, to a 2.5 second exposure so the red taillights of the passing car streaked through the entire frame.  A low ISO of 100 and a small lens aperture of f/22 dictated the very slow shutter speed I used here.

And those taillights were not a coincidence. My wife Susan drove our car past the building several times until I got the shot. Talk about making pictures!

Go Behind the Scenes

I’ll end this series with a fun behind-the-scenes shot, taken by Susan while we were setting up our nighttime shot. My main message here: take fun behind-the-scenes shots, too. They will help bring back memories of your photo adventures.

Thank you for following along from the “passenger’s seat” on Route 66. I hope you make the road trip someday. It’s a lot of fun and provides great photo opportunities.

To read Part I of this series, click here.
To read Part II of this series, click here.

The CDLC contributors are compensated spokespersons and actual users of the Canon products that they promote.


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