Mathesons Lake – New Zealand

Mathesons Lake in the South Island is an icon for New Zealand landscape photography. Situated at the base of the Southern Alps it is possible to get near perfect reflections of the alps in the right conditions. This photograph was taken late in the afternoon while the reflection was at its best during my 2009 New Zealand trip. I made a total of three trips to this location in the hopes of capturing the mountains reflected in the dark waters. Two of the trips the mountains were covered in cloud and there was no photograph but I did get lucky on one visit. Despite appearances I did not use a polariser for this photograph; just a three stop soft neutral density filter to bring down the sky and hold the scenes dynamic range.Despite its wild appearance this location is actually extremely easy to access. A short and pleasant 15-20 minute walk along a well maintained forest trail from the car-park leads to a convenient viewing platform. This was the only location during my entire two week photographic trip that I actually encountered a fellow landscape photographer. For all its magnificent beauty and stunning scenery New Zealand sure is a quiet place!

Canon Updates the 70-200MM F2.8L IS

Canon has today issued a press release announcing an update for the venerable and well respected 70-200mm F2.8L IS tele-photo zoom lens. Full details are on Canon Rumours website. The 70-200mm F2.8L IS has been my workhorse telephoto lens for the last five years and it’s optical quality has been superb. I can’t say I will be rushing to upgrade to this new version; although curiosity is likely to get the better of me at some stage and I may well rent or borrow one for comparison purposes in the future.

Australian Press Release

Sydney, 6 January 2010: Canon Australia today announced an update to its extremely popular EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM telephoto zoom camera lens. Professional photographers and serious enthusiasts alike will be keen to get their hands on the new EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, which promises high-performance and quality regardless of the shooting conditions.

This new lens will delight any professional photographer or serious enthusiast with its advanced features,” says Cathy Hattersley, Brand Manager – EOS Professional, Canon Australia. “A robust L-series lens, the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM allows photographers even greater flexibility in low-light conditions and in subject composition.”

This new high-performance lens improves upon its predecessor with its new Image Stabilizer, which gives the equivalent effect of a shutter speed approximately four stops faster, allowing photographers to shoot in even lower lighting conditions. The EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens also boasts improved optical performance, achieving high-resolution, high-contrast images and reduced chromatic aberration – thanks to a fluorite element not used in its predecessor and an additional UD lens element (bringing the total to five). Optimised lens design and lens coatings minimise flare and ghosting. The combination of these technologies also delivers improved colour balance. The minimum focusing distance has been reduced to 1.2m/3.9 ft throughout the zoom range, which allows photographers another step closer to the subject.

Photographers will welcome the improved usability that the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens offers with its enhanced switch panel, which makes it harder to accidently knock the selected settings, and the new feel and grip of the lens, improves the usability during manual focusing.

With improved durability and moisture and dust-proof construction, the lens is built for professionals operating in the most demanding conditions.

Key Features

• L series telephoto zoom lens with Image Stabilizer

• Five UD lenses provide compensation for chromatic aberration

• 5 x UD and 1 x Fluorite elements offers unparalleled performance and low distortion throughout zoom range

• 1.2m minimum focus distance at all zoom focal lengths

• Highly dust and moisture resistant

• Inner focusing design plus ring USM for near silent, high-speed AF

• Telephoto zoom lens, 70-200mm focal range, fast f/2.8 aperture

• Inner focus design with Ultrasonic Motor (USM) offers fast and virtually silent operation

• New high-performance Image Stabilizer with optimum control system offers up to 4 stops of compensation

• Increased moisture and dust protection prevents water and dust penetration in extreme conditions

• Manual focusing enabled even during AF mode (full-time mechanical focusing)

Pricing and Availability

The Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (RRP TBC) will be available from March 2010 through select Canon dealers nationally. For more information customers can contact Canon on 1800 021 167, or visit the website at Canon Australia.

Australian Drought – Mitre Lake

This photograph was taken at what used to be Mitre Lake at Mount Arapiles near Natimuk and Horsham in Western Victoria. I scouted this location on a previous visit and new it would make a great photograph with the right light. The composition works for me with the parched land and dead wood in the foreground leading the eye off to the distant Mount Arapiles and dawn sky. In the end I took this photograph just before sunrise as I felt it would offer the best light. The colour in the sky was greatly enhanced by smoke from the bushfires that ravaged Victoria in Summer 2009. Mitre lake has been dry now for many years; a result of the more than ten years of drought Australia is suffering from. Scenes such as this are now an all to common site throughout the country with many of the countries lakes and ponds now no more than dustbowls.

New Zealand Wildlife – Whales

One of  my favourite expressions in photography is ‘It’s not a chiche if I haven’t done it before.’ Meaning of course, a photograph may have been taken hundreds or even thousands of times by other photographers, but is not something I have ever photographed before and therefore not a cliche. I dont know who first coined the phrase; but it rings true for me. So forgive me if you find these next photographs somewhat of a cliche; but its the first time I have done them. 🙂

Whilst I was in the South Island of  New Zealand earlier this year I took the opportunity to take a whale charter to find and photograph Sperm whales. I have never photographed whales before, but I have seen enough photographs of them to know that the decisive moment is either catching the fluke just before a sounding, or if one is really lucky a breach. Sperm whales rarely breach so I knew I would have to be extremley fortunate to see such an event, let alone capture it on the camera’s sensor.As fate would have it there were no whale breaches on the day. But, I was lucky enough to see and photograph several whale soundings. I used a 70-200mm F2.8L IS lens with a 1.4X Tele Extender on my 1DS MK3 for these photographs. I did not have the 300mm F2.8L IS in New Zealand; which would have been my preferred lens for this shoot. We were fortunate in that we had three independent whale sightings in the few hours we were at sea. The weather was overcast and grey throughout the day; which made keeping a high enough shutter speed to freeze the action somewhat of a challenge. The other interesting challenge is keeping the horizon in the photograph to keep the whale in the context of it’s surroundings. Getting low is the key and all of these photographs were taken kneeling down for the lowest possible angle of view from the bow of the boat.Wildlife photography is not something I do a lot of. I typically do not find the larger Australian mammals all that photogenic and there is somewhat of a shortage of big cats and wild game in this country!. This opportunity to photograph Sperm Whales off the coast of New Zealand certainly rates as one of my best wildlife photography experiences and one I hope to repeat soon.