Using Filters on the Canon 17MM TSE Lens

The Canon 17mm TSE lens is one of my favourite lens’s for landscape photography. The ultra-wide angle of view combined with the benefits of a Tilt Shift lens makes for a great combination and allows for some very unique images. The big drawback from a landscape photographers perspective of the Canon 17mm TSE is that you cant use filters with it – or can you?

Canon 17mm TSE Lens

Well, not yet, but LEE Filters are developing a new Holder System specifically designed for use on super wide angle lenses. The SW150 Filter Holder has been designed to initially fit the Nikon 14-24mm lens, but will also be adapted to fit on other super wide lenses after its initial launch. Hopefully LEE make an adaptor for the Canon 17mm TSE; although it remains unclear if it will be possible because of the extremely bulbous front element.

The SW150 has two filter slots that take either 150 x 150mm standard filters or 150 x 170mm graduated filters. The holder also rotates, allowing greater control on the positioning of any graduated filters. There are currently no plans for a polariser for the SW150, due to the fact that the polarisation effect is too difficult to control on lenses which such a wide field of view.

The SW150 will attach to the lens via a purpose built collar. Each lens will have a collar attachment specifically designed for that lens. Custom fittings based around standard LEE adaptors ring sizes will also be a future part of the System enabling the SW150 to be used with other lenses.

I have had only very limited success hand holding LEE graduated filters in front of the 17mm TSE because of its fish eye like front element. Extraneous light and reflection is often  a problem because its impossible to get the filter close enough to the front element to keep out unwanted light. Hopefully the new LEE filter holder solves this problem.

The SW150 is currently in production and should be available from LEE Filters dealers from June 2010.

As a short Addendum – Although it is possible to shoot multiple exposures in the field and then combine them for a HDR image during post processing this is not the sort of photography that I do or frankly that interests me. I prefer to try and get my exposure right in the field when I release the shutter; which means I am almost always using graduated neutral density filters in order to tame the dynamic range of nature.

The Last Light – Alpine Glow on Mount Cook and Mount Tasman

This photograph was taken during the same chartered helicopter flight as my previous Mount Cook photograph. In many ways I actually prefer this shot. It has languished in my Lightroom library for nearly a year – neglected and unloved, for no other (or good) reason than it was shot at ISO1600 on my 1DSMK3.  I am almost always shooting at ISO100 on a tripod, so am very used to having no noise issues to deal with during post-processing. I finally got around to processing it this evening and I am very pleased with the result. It was one of the last frames I shot that captured a truly wonderful example of Alpine Glow at its best. Seconds later the light faded and the show was over. Because of the combination of very low light levels, lack of tripod, vibration from the helicopter, and the strong buffeting winds without the doors I was forced to pump up the ISO to ensure I had a fast enough shutter speed to avoid any camera shake. The fast shutter speed ensured a good sharp capture, but with the inherent luminance grain of a high ISO photograph. I probably could have got away with ISO800 and a shutter speed of  around 1/500th of a second, but I wanted to make sure there was no camera shake. The luminance noise reduction slider in Lightroom has done a very good job of cleaning up the grain. Other than a little ‘clarity’ and a curve tweak this is very much a straight photograph. A higher resolution version is my website in the New Zealand Portfolio.

Iceland – More Eruption Photography

This is really starting to bite deeply for me as I sit here at my desk staring at the mountain of paperwork I am supposed to be working through – Get me out of here please! With another three months or so to go before I leave for Iceland I am growing green with envy at some amazing photography being done of the Volcanic Eruption by photographers already on location. Steini Fjall has just posted his most recent shots from the eruption and there are some spectacular images for sure; both from ground level and aerial. This is other world photography in the land of fire and ice. Where is my passport…..?

Wild Times with the Lions

The more time I spend doing wildlife photography the more I enjoy it – even when it is at the Zoo. Photographing animals in the Zoo is not as romantic or as exciting as an expedition to the Okavango Delta or the Serengeti, but it is still quite challenging and a lot of fun. The real trick with photographing wildlife regardless of wether the animals are in a Zoo or in the wild is trying to capture a special or unique moment with them. Most of the time they just lie around and frankly make for very boring photographs.

Wildlife photography in my experience is a combination of patience and luck (not necessarily in that order). You can increase your chances by shooting at times of the day when the animals are most active, by ensuring you are in the right sort of locations and of course having your camera at the ready. Ultimately however, you need a little bit of luck and just a lot of patience. Although this photograph looks as though it was taken somewhere in Africa, it was in fact taken at the Melbourne Zoo. A good trick to bare in mind when photographing animals in cages is to press your lens hard up against the wire and use a wide open aperture – this will throw the wire or bars completely out of focus and will make them disappear from the shot as is the case here. I used a 300mm F2.8L Image Stabilised lens hand held and wide open, pushed up against the wire fence for this photograph. A disagreement had broken out between the lions which ignited a brief brawl lasting only a few seconds. I had my camera ready and was lucky enough to be in the right location to capture the scene. Out of the half dozen frames I took this is my favourite. Its a unique moment between four male lions.


Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

I think just about every landscape and nature photographer worth his or her salt is wishing they were in Iceland at the moment – me included. The recent eruption has and is providing some wonderful photographic opportunities. Each day amazing new photographs are being posted to the internet by local and visiting photographers. Christopher Lund has posted some of his recent photographs on his website that are well worth a look at this amazing natural phenomenon. There are also numerous workshops that have sprung up overnight inviting photographers to travel to Iceland to photograph the eruption including one by Seth Resnick which sounds great. Were it not for work commitments and the fact that I am already headed to Iceland in July for three weeks I would be very tempted to jump on the next plane and join in the experience. I have no idea how long this eruption is expected to continue – I am sure it is wishful thinking to hope that it is still erupting in another three months. Fingers crossed!