Kashmir UL

What I like:

  • Fits more like a backpack
  • Fits small body structure
  • Sleek and light
  • ICUs provide options
  • Carry everything you need
  • Comfortable for hours, even when loaded

What Can it Hold?

  • Either 400mm f/2.8 or 500mm f/4
  • 100-400mm (attached to body or not)
  • Two Pro camera bodies
  • 1.4x & 2.0x Extenders
  • Tripod plus Jobu Gimbal Head

Being a smaller female, I have always had trouble finding a camera bag that fit all my gear, plus fit my body, and didn’t make me feel like I suddenly became a turtle and acquired a shell.  When F-Stop announced that they were releasing a bag that was specifically designed for females, I was rather intrigued, and put my name on the list to get one right away.  The pack they released is called the Kashmir UL, and can hold up to a Large ICU.

 

I’ve had the bag for over a year now, and I can say that it has met, and probably even exceeded all my expectations.  To begin with it is light when it’s empty, so unlike other bags that I have tried in the past which already felt heavy, and bulky, before you added any camera gear, this isn’t the case with this Kashmir UL bag.

 

To understand one of the benefits of this bag, you have to understand how the F-Stop Gear system works.  Basically the offer a selection of bags, and then all you to buy different Internal Camera Units (ICU’s) that you can fit within the bag.  The benefit of this system is that if you are trying to lug around all your gear, as I often do, then you would go with the largest ICU for the bag, which in my case is the Large Pro ICU.  If you are going for a day of macro shooting, and packing a lunch, then you can go with a smaller ICU, and then have extra room in your bag for the extras that you will need throughout the day, and use it as more of a traditional backpack instead of a camera bag.

 

Another benefit of this ICU system, is that when you are travelling, you can remove the ICU and pack it in a carry-on roller (why f-stop doesn’t make their own is beyond me), and then your backpack folds up nicely and fits in your checked bag.  This allows you to not have to carry around your overstuffed backpack if you have multiple stops or layovers, but then when you get to the field you just have to switch it over to your backpack and it’s all ready to go.  However, if you do want to, you can carry the Kashmir onto the plane and it easily fits either under the seat in front of you, or in even the smallest of the overhead bin.

Kashmir Bag Loaded

What is always hard to tell by looking online and reading spec sheets, is what can I actually fit in this bag.  The one downside to this pack is that if I take my 500mm, or 400mm f/2.8 then I can’t have it attached to the body, so it’s not in the “ready to shoot” condition.  But otherwise I am able to fit either my 100-400 or Sigma 150-600mm attached to a body in the bag.  I can (not always easily) fit the following in the bag together:
-either the Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II or the Canon 500mm f/4L IS II not attached to a body;
-100-400mm attached to a body;
-second body;
-1.4x and 2.0x canon extenders.
-Tripod and Jobu Gimbal head
-Note, I have carried both a 1dx and 1dx mark II at the same time.

 

The other great thing about this bag is the fit.  Now I haven’t tried (other than for a few seconds) any of the other f-stop ultra light series bags (i.e. those that aren’t specifically marketed towards females), but even when this bag is loaded so full that you wonder if it’s going to burst at the seams I am still able to comfortably walk around with it for a few hours.  The waist belt, which in my opinion is one of the most important aspects of the bag, is able to tighten for my waist size (which is on the smaller size), and keeps the strain off my shoulders. So carrying everything I mentioned above and walking around for several hours, I am still able to function afterwards.

 

So in summary, here’s what I like best about the bag:
1 – fit – sleek, and doesn’t feel like I’m wearing a turtle shell
2 – ICUs – allows me to re-arrange based on the days activities, or remove for travel.
3 – Weight – UL stands for Ultra Light, and I 100% agree with that.  It is one of the lightest bags (empty) that i have tried.

 

For more information about the Kashmir UL, you can visit the F-stop website here. If you have any questions about my experiences, feel free to contact me contact@wildelements.ca.

 

I have more recently purchased the F-Stop Red Bull Photography Ajna bag in order to have the ability to carry my larger prime lenses with the body attached, so stay tuned to my review of that bag.

Key Features

  • 26.2 megapixle full frame sensor
  • 45 cross-type AF Points
  • 5 AF area selection modes
  • 6.5 frames per second
  • ISO range 100-40000
  • Weather and dust sealed
  • Vari-angle LCD
  • Wifi, bluetooth, and GPS
  • $2600 CAD body only

Canon has just announced the EOS 6D Mark II, and if you have been following any of the rumor websites, this doesn’t really come as much of a surprise.  For those less familiar with the Canon camera body line-up, the 6D’s are the entry into the full-frame Canon camera bodies.

 

The original 6D was announced in 2012, and was a way for photographers to get their hands on a full-frame body without paying the prices of the 5D Mark III or the flagship 1DX.  Five years later the camera comes with quite a few improvements.

 

26.2 Megapixels
The sensor of the EOS 6D Mark II has been increased from 20.2 megapixels to 26.2 megapixels. This is quite a large improvement in megapixels for the camera.  The one concern I have about the number of pixels is that it might be a little on the high-end of pixels for hand-holding the camera in low-light (and low shutter speeds).

 

45 AF Points
The EOS 6D Mark II comes with 45 AF points, all which are cross-type AF Points.  This is a significant improvement over its predecessor which only had 11 AF points, and only the center point was a cross-type AF point.  In addition to the increased number of AF Points, the EOS 6D Mark II also comes with five available AF Area Selection Modes, as opposed to just single point that was available on the 6D.

 

The increased number of AF points, and the addition of AF Area Selection Modes should lead to improved autofocus, and also allows for a more useable range of AF points from just the center point. I think this is a huge improvement for wildlife and action shooters, because I know the 11 points (which we pretty wide spread) was a real limitation for wildlife shooters that had the 6D, and now it looks like there is more of the sensor covered by AF points.

 

6.5 Frames per Second
Canon has improved the EOS 6D Mark II to now be 6.5 frames per second, which is two frames per second faster than the 4.5 frames per second of the EOD 6D.  This is still the slowest frame rate of the full frame cameras, but slightly faster than the 5D Mark III (by half a frame).

 

Weather Sealed
The EOS 6D Mark II now comes weather and dust sealed.  For anyone that comes on any of the trips I go on, this is a very good feature. Shooting in places like the Great Bear Rainforest, not having weather sealing could lead to moisture and internal fogging in the camera, hopefully this problem will now be reduced (or eliminated).  This will also be a benefit for those shooting in dusty environments, like Africa, because it will be less prone to getting dust in the camera.

 

Other Features
The EOS 6D Mark II is the only full frame camera that comes with a vari-angle LCD which makes it easier to shoot at high and low angles (although with the high-angles might be hard to hold the camera steady, especially if hand-holding with a large lens).

 

The 6D Mark II also comes with built-in wifi, bluetooth and GPS. The only of these features that I use personally is the GPS.  However the wifi and bluetooth does allow for easy transferring to other devices and also allows for the camera to be controlled remotely with a smartphone.

 

One of the biggest complaints that I’m seeing from people online is that it doesn’t come with 4k video, given that I don’t shoot video, it’s not really a downside from my perspective.  I guess Canon is trying to ensure some features are left to the mid-level full frame of the EOS 5D Mark IV, which does have 4K video capabilities.

 

Pricing
The EOS 6D Mark II is expected to be available in Canada in early August and will be priced around $2600 CAD for the body only and $4050 for the body plus 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM.  Just for comparison the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV currently sells for around $4500, the EOS 6D Mark II offers considerable savings for those entering the full-frame market, or those that do not require all the features of the 5D Mark IV.

 

It is hard to really give an opinion on the 6D Mark II without actually shooting with it, because it is hard to judge the features based on paper without actually using them.  I do think that it is a significant improvement over its predecessor, especially for wildlife photographers, and also comes in at a nice price-point for those that want to enter the full-frame market or that are on a budget.

 

I hope to get a chance to try this camera out for myself, and will post my thoughts on it when I actually get a chance to shoot with it. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, contact@wildelements.ca.  Now here’s to hoping that Canon comes out with an updated cropped sensor camera that can compete with the Nikon D500.

I am just getting home from seven awesome days in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary located on the coast of British Columbia. This pristine estuary is located on the northern coast of British Columbia, and is the only Grizzly Bear Sanctuary in Canada.  Visiting a location like this, really makes you appreciate all the hard work that went into setting this land aside as a sanctuary, because it is remote, pristine, and untouched.  Because the Grizzly Bears in this area cannot be hunted, most of them tend to not mind us photographing them from the zodiac (however there were certainly exceptions).

 

On Alert

This year, I was hopeful that we would get to see some Grizzly Bear Cubs given the amount of mating we watched in 2015.  Mother Grizzly Bears tend to not bring their cubs into the estuary until they are yearlings, because there can be some big males that make their way into the estuary, and therefore a big risk to the new (and very tiny) cubs of the year.  Well, I was not disappointed, and my expectations were exceeded.  We had the opportunity to see four different moms with cubs (while one we only saw briefly). In addition to just seeing them, we got to watch, and photograph, some really neat interactions between the moms and cubs, with one cub trying to learn how to dig clams while watching his mom, and seeing the cubs snuggle up with their mom to sleep, and even had the opportunity to have one of the mothers nurse her cubs right in front of us.

 

We also got really lucky with both the number of Grizzly Bears that we saw, and also lucky with all the different aspects of the bears lives that we got to photograph.  We got them eating grass, courting and mating, interacting with cubs, swimming, digging clams, napping, jumping, and so much more.  It was like we had the opportunity to see everything that the bears do all compressed into seven days.

 

The “and more” in the title is because I expected to see Grizzly Bears, considering it is a “Grizzly Bear Sanctuary”, but I didn’t expect to see some of the other species that we saw.  Most notable of course was the wolves that we saw on both the 4 day trip and the 3 day trip, and was the longest I have ever got to spend with a wolf in the Khutzeymateen (way longer than the few seconds I saw one for last year). In addition to the wolves, over the seven days I also saw a few Black Bears, Mink, and even a Porcupine. And among some of the birds and ducks we got to see were Harlequin Ducks, Bald Eagles, and more (although the birds, especially the small ones, can be hard to photograph).

 

I walk away from the seven days with in a state of awe over how lucky we were to get some of the things that we did, and with thousands of photos to go through and edit and get to re-live the experiences through the photos.  I’m looking forward to getting the chance to visit again in the future.  I was also very lucky with the two groups of people that I got to spend the seven days with.

 

To stay up-to-date with my latest images, visit my Recent Photos gallery, and to see the images that I have taken in my previous trips to the Khutzeymateen, visit my Khutzeymateen Gallery.

 

Now I have a couple months until I spend more time with Grizzly Bears on the Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku that I will visit in August.

 

Feel free to contact me, contact@wildelements.ca with any questions about this trip.

I am just getting home from seven awesome days in the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary located on the coast of British Columbia. This pristine estuary is located on the northern coast of British Columbia, and is the only Grizzly Bear Sanctuary in Canada.  Visiting a location like this, really makes you appreciate all the hard work that went into setting this land aside as a sanctuary, because it is remote, pristine, and untouched.  Because the Grizzly Bears in this area cannot be hunted, most of them tend to not mind us photographing them from the zodiac (however there were certainly exceptions).

 

On Alert

This year, I was hopeful that we would get to see some Grizzly Bear Cubs given the amount of mating we watched in 2015.  Mother Grizzly Bears tend to not bring their cubs into the estuary until they are yearlings, because there can be some big males that make their way into the estuary, and therefore a big risk to the new (and very tiny) cubs of the year.  Well, I was not disappointed, and my expectations were exceeded.  We had the opportunity to see four different moms with cubs (while one we only saw briefly). In addition to just seeing them, we got to watch, and photograph, some really neat interactions between the moms and cubs, with one cub trying to learn how to dig clams while watching his mom, and seeing the cubs snuggle up with their mom to sleep, and even had the opportunity to have one of the mothers nurse her cubs right in front of us.

 

We also got really lucky with both the number of Grizzly Bears that we saw, and also lucky with all the different aspects of the bears lives that we got to photograph.  We got them eating grass, courting and mating, interacting with cubs, swimming, digging clams, napping, jumping, and so much more.  It was like we had the opportunity to see everything that the bears do all compressed into seven days.

 

The “and more” in the title is because I expected to see Grizzly Bears, considering it is a “Grizzly Bear Sanctuary”, but I didn’t expect to see some of the other species that we saw.  Most notable of course was the wolves that we saw on both the 4 day trip and the 3 day trip, and was the longest I have ever got to spend with a wolf in the Khutzeymateen (way longer than the few seconds I saw one for last year). In addition to the wolves, over the seven days I also saw a few Black Bears, Mink, and even a Porcupine. And among some of the birds and ducks we got to see were Harlequin Ducks, Bald Eagles, and more (although the birds, especially the small ones, can be hard to photograph).

 

I walk away from the seven days with in a state of awe over how lucky we were to get some of the things that we did, and with thousands of photos to go through and edit and get to re-live the experiences through the photos.  I’m looking forward to getting the chance to visit again in the future.  I was also very lucky with the two groups of people that I got to spend the seven days with.

 

To stay up-to-date with my latest images, visit my Recent Photos gallery, and to see the images that I have taken in my previous trips to the Khutzeymateen, visit my Khutzeymateen Gallery.

 

Now I have a couple months until I spend more time with Grizzly Bears on the Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku that I will visit in August.

 

Feel free to contact me, contact@wildelements.ca with any questions about this trip.

I’m on my way to one of the most wonderful places in Canada, the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, where I will be joining Brad Hill of Natural Art Images. This pristine estuary has provided me with some of the most memorable Grizzly Bear experiences (and photos).

 

Blowing Bubbles

Located off the Coast of British Columbia The Khutzeymateen is officially known by many different names including: Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, Khutzeymateen Inlet Conservancy, Khutzeymateen Inlet West Conservancy, or for those of us that like to use slang – the “Khutz”. The Khutzeymateen is a provincial park located off the coast of British Columbia established in 1994 and covers over 44,000 hectares of land. This park is only accessible by water, and only two operators hold permits to bring guests into the park. This makes it a very unique place to photograph Grizzly Bears, as you are one of under 200 people that get to visit the park that year. And when you are taking photographs you don’t have to worry about a dozen tour buses showing up and hundreds of people crowding in next to you.

 

Given the remoteness of the Khutzeymateen, it makes the photos that you get really unique. This year I’m hoping to focus on getting more shots of animals in their environment. The landscapes in this area are stunning, and I don’t think in the past two years I have really walked away with enough shots showing the Grizzly Bears in this pristine and beautiful area. However at the end of the day, we can only walk away with what the bears decide to give us. If they don’t want to swim, then we won’t get any swimming shots, and same goes for animalscapes.

 

Battle of the Beasts

Whatever the Grizzly Bears decide to give us, whether its swimming, walking, eating, fighting, or even mating, I’m sure that I will come away with some really great images. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to spend 7 days with two different groups of 6 other people and getting the opportunity to meet new people, and hopefully even meet some new bears. For images that I have taken over the past two years, visit my Khutzeymateen Gallery . Trips for 2018 are already sold out, but if you would like to get your name on the priority booking list for 2019, please contact me contact@wildelements.ca for more information. Stay tuned to my Recent Photos and Khutzeymateen Gallery for the images and stories from my 2017 adventure.

I’m on my way to one of the most wonderful places in Canada, the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, where I will be joining Brad Hill of Natural Art Images. This pristine estuary has provided me with some of the most memorable Grizzly Bear experiences (and photos).

 

Blowing Bubbles

Located off the Coast of British Columbia The Khutzeymateen is officially known by many different names including: Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, Khutzeymateen Inlet Conservancy, Khutzeymateen Inlet West Conservancy, or for those of us that like to use slang – the “Khutz”. The Khutzeymateen is a provincial park located off the coast of British Columbia established in 1994 and covers over 44,000 hectares of land. This park is only accessible by water, and only two operators hold permits to bring guests into the park. This makes it a very unique place to photograph Grizzly Bears, as you are one of under 200 people that get to visit the park that year. And when you are taking photographs you don’t have to worry about a dozen tour buses showing up and hundreds of people crowding in next to you.

 

Given the remoteness of the Khutzeymateen, it makes the photos that you get really unique. This year I’m hoping to focus on getting more shots of animals in their environment. The landscapes in this area are stunning, and I don’t think in the past two years I have really walked away with enough shots showing the Grizzly Bears in this pristine and beautiful area. However at the end of the day, we can only walk away with what the bears decide to give us. If they don’t want to swim, then we won’t get any swimming shots, and same goes for animalscapes.

 

Battle of the Beasts

Whatever the Grizzly Bears decide to give us, whether its swimming, walking, eating, fighting, or even mating, I’m sure that I will come away with some really great images. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to spend 7 days with two different groups of 6 other people and getting the opportunity to meet new people, and hopefully even meet some new bears. For images that I have taken over the past two years, visit my Khutzeymateen Gallery . Trips for 2018 are already sold out, but if you would like to get your name on the priority booking list for 2019, please contact me contact@wildelements.ca for more information. Stay tuned to my Recent Photos and Khutzeymateen Gallery for the images and stories from my 2017 adventure.

In Part 1 of this blog series I listed the different types of AF Points, and how I have grouped them to make it easier on myself. In Part 2 I discussed the two “single points” AF Points, being Single-point Spot AF (pinpoint or spot as I call it) and Single-point AF (single-point as I call it). For this post I’m going to go into the “Expansion Points” AF Area Modes, which includes the “AF Point Expansion” and “AF Point Expansion Surrounding Points” (don’t those names just flow of the tongue, haha).
AF Point Expansion ( I call this the diamond or expanded point)

 

This is a diamond shaped AF Area Mode that moves together as one point. It includes one point in center, and also the points on the top, bottom, right, and left. The focus will be prioritized to the centre point, with the surrounding points providing focus assistance. These points will move over the entire array as a group. Just one thing to note that focus being prioritized to the center point is different from some of the other AF Area Modes (and different from similar Nikon AF Area Modes), which will put priority on the closest object, instead of the object that is in the center point.

Focused

 

The diamond provides a larger area for focusing with and would be used in the following scenarios

-When hand holding, it provides a larger focus point, and therefore will be less likely to slip-off the subject.

-If you have a subject that is moving around a bit, but not too sporadically, it can be easier to keep focus on the subject, and you have the ability to adjust the sensitivity of these points to ensure you stay on the subject.

-This point provides both AF Tracking (adjustments available) and predictive AF.

 

The downside to the diamond compared to the single point options is that because it is larger, it is less precise, and therefore focus may not always be exactly where you want it. For example if you have a very tiny subject in an animalscape the autofocus might be on the incorrect spot.

 

I tend to use this AF Area Mode as a starting point for some of my custom settings. Not only is it in the middle of the points that I would use (so easy to adjust up or down), but I find it provides enough precision, but is not too precise that it is a good default point. This is a safe starting point because it typically doesn’t go awry, and then I can adjust the AF Area mode depending on how the situation plays out.

 

I used the diamond AF Area mode when shooting this wolf because the wolf was moving around quite a bit, and therefore I wanted to make sure that I didn’t suddenly focus on the tip of his nose, or the back of his head/body. The reason I didn’t use a bigger point such as the square, or one of the automatic points, is that I still wanted to have enough control to make sure the correct parts of the head were in focus.

 

For this AF Area Mode, you can also adjust the focusing parameters using the cases, or manually adjusting the parameters, which will be discussed in a future blog post.

 

AF point expansion Surrounding Points (I refer to this as the square)
This point is very similar to the AF point expansion (diamond) described above, with the only difference is that it’s a complete square instead of a diamond.

 

This is a square shaped AF Area Mode, moves together as one point. It includes one point in center, and all the points surrounding it for 9 points in total. This point will prioritize focus to the center point, and then receive assistance from the surrounding points.

Breathtaking Breach

 

The square provides a larger area for you to focus than the single points, or the diamond, and I tend to use it in situations similar to described above for the diamond.

-When hand holding, it provides a larger focus point, and therefore will be less likely to slip-off the subject.

-If you have a subject that is moving around a bit, but nor sporadically, it can be easier to keep focus on the subject, and you have the ability to adjust the sensitivity of these points to ensure you stay on the subject.

-A bird in flight, especially one with a bit of an unpredictable flight pattern.

-This point provides both AF Tracking (adjustments available) and predictive AF.

 

One down side to this AF Area Mode is that it is a bit on the bigger side, for my liking, so I find it can be a bit hard to have precise control over.

 

I will tend to use the square over the diamond when there is a bit more unpredictability in the subject (moving around a lot, or birds in flight) because it has more supporting points that will take over the autofocus if I slip off the center AF point.

 

The image of the Humpback Whale breaching, I actually decided to use the square, because there was a lot of unpredictability on where the Humpback Whale was going to come out of the water, and how it would move once it did come out of the water. Therefore I wanted to give myself some more support with the surrounding points. If I had used the diamond I might have lost the focus a lot easier, or not acquired initial autofocus as quickly. I will discuss in the next set of blog posts why I didn’t use one of the zones.

 

For this AF Area Mode, you can also adjust the focusing parameters using the cases, or manually adjusting the parameters, which will be discussed in a future blog post.

 

Feel free to email me, contact@wildelements.ca, if you have further questions on the expanded points AF Area modes, or with any other questions. Stay tuned to the next post where I will cover the zones, and automatic area modes, and when they can work for wildlife (and why I don’t often use them).

In Part 1 of this blog series I listed the different types of AF Points, and how I have grouped them to make it easier on myself. In Part 2 I discussed the two “single points” AF Points, being Single-point Spot AF (pinpoint or spot as I call it) and Single-point AF (single-point as I call it). For this post I’m going to go into the “Expansion Points” AF Area Modes, which includes the “AF Point Expansion” and “AF Point Expansion Surrounding Points” (don’t those names just flow of the tongue, haha).
AF Point Expansion ( I call this the diamond or expanded point)

 

This is a diamond shaped AF Area Mode that moves together as one point. It includes one point in center, and also the points on the top, bottom, right, and left. The focus will be prioritized to the centre point, with the surrounding points providing focus assistance. These points will move over the entire array as a group. Just one thing to note that focus being prioritized to the center point is different from some of the other AF Area Modes (and different from similar Nikon AF Area Modes), which will put priority on the closest object, instead of the object that is in the center point.

Focused

 

The diamond provides a larger area for focusing with and would be used in the following scenarios

-When hand holding, it provides a larger focus point, and therefore will be less likely to slip-off the subject.

-If you have a subject that is moving around a bit, but not too sporadically, it can be easier to keep focus on the subject, and you have the ability to adjust the sensitivity of these points to ensure you stay on the subject.

-This point provides both AF Tracking (adjustments available) and predictive AF.

 

The downside to the diamond compared to the single point options is that because it is larger, it is less precise, and therefore focus may not always be exactly where you want it. For example if you have a very tiny subject in an animalscape the autofocus might be on the incorrect spot.

 

I tend to use this AF Area Mode as a starting point for some of my custom settings. Not only is it in the middle of the points that I would use (so easy to adjust up or down), but I find it provides enough precision, but is not too precise that it is a good default point. This is a safe starting point because it typically doesn’t go awry, and then I can adjust the AF Area mode depending on how the situation plays out.

 

I used the diamond AF Area mode when shooting this wolf because the wolf was moving around quite a bit, and therefore I wanted to make sure that I didn’t suddenly focus on the tip of his nose, or the back of his head/body. The reason I didn’t use a bigger point such as the square, or one of the automatic points, is that I still wanted to have enough control to make sure the correct parts of the head were in focus.

 

For this AF Area Mode, you can also adjust the focusing parameters using the cases, or manually adjusting the parameters, which will be discussed in a future blog post.

 

AF point expansion Surrounding Points (I refer to this as the square)
This point is very similar to the AF point expansion (diamond) described above, with the only difference is that it’s a complete square instead of a diamond.

 

This is a square shaped AF Area Mode, moves together as one point. It includes one point in center, and all the points surrounding it for 9 points in total. This point will prioritize focus to the center point, and then receive assistance from the surrounding points.

Breathtaking Breach

 

The square provides a larger area for you to focus than the single points, or the diamond, and I tend to use it in situations similar to described above for the diamond.

-When hand holding, it provides a larger focus point, and therefore will be less likely to slip-off the subject.

-If you have a subject that is moving around a bit, but nor sporadically, it can be easier to keep focus on the subject, and you have the ability to adjust the sensitivity of these points to ensure you stay on the subject.

-A bird in flight, especially one with a bit of an unpredictable flight pattern.

-This point provides both AF Tracking (adjustments available) and predictive AF.

 

One down side to this AF Area Mode is that it is a bit on the bigger side, for my liking, so I find it can be a bit hard to have precise control over.

 

I will tend to use the square over the diamond when there is a bit more unpredictability in the subject (moving around a lot, or birds in flight) because it has more supporting points that will take over the autofocus if I slip off the center AF point.

 

The image of the Humpback Whale breaching, I actually decided to use the square, because there was a lot of unpredictability on where the Humpback Whale was going to come out of the water, and how it would move once it did come out of the water. Therefore I wanted to give myself some more support with the surrounding points. If I had used the diamond I might have lost the focus a lot easier, or not acquired initial autofocus as quickly. I will discuss in the next set of blog posts why I didn’t use one of the zones.

 

For this AF Area Mode, you can also adjust the focusing parameters using the cases, or manually adjusting the parameters, which will be discussed in a future blog post.

 

Feel free to email me, contact@wildelements.ca, if you have further questions on the expanded points AF Area modes, or with any other questions. Stay tuned to the next post where I will cover the zones, and automatic area modes, and when they can work for wildlife (and why I don’t often use them).

Great Gray Owl looking Statuesque

Statuesque

I am selling my used Canon 7D Mark II with Grip. I have had this camera for 2 years, and I am selling it because I have two other camera bodies and this one isn’t being used as often. I am asking $1200 CAD, not including shipping.

 

This includes the following:
Camera EOS 7D Mark II Body in original box
Canon battery
Battery Grip Canon BG-E16

 

This camera body is in like new working order, and the body itself is in okay condition with some scratches on the LCD screen which are more noticeable when not using the LCD (pictures of the scratches are available).

 

This camera was used for a number of the images on my website including, Statuesque and Tell Me About It.

 

The shutter count of this camera is just under 25,000 shots.

 

For more information contact me at contact@wildelements.ca.

In Part 1 of this blog series I listed the different types of AF Points, and how I have grouped them to make it easier on myself. In this blog post I’m going to discuss the two “single point” AF Points, being Single-point Spot AF (pinpoint or spot as I call it) and Single-point AF (single-point).

 

Single-point Spot AF (I call this “spot” or “pinpoint”)

 

This is the smallest focusing point available. You would use this point when you want focusing to be very precise, as focusing will be done on the very small little square within the bigger square. I find myself using this point in the following situations:

 

–  When a animal is super close, and I want to ensure I have the exact right focus point (like between the eye and nose of Grizzly Bear); or
–  When the subject is quite small in the frame and I want to make sure that the focus stays on one small point; or
–  If you are shooting a bird in a tree and in between branches, and you want to make sure not to pick up some of these other branches; or
–  When using a large aperture and trying to get a shallow DOF, you want to make sure the exact point where you want sharpness is selected, especially if the entire subject isn’t on the same focal plain.

 

Tree Swallow on barbed wire

Balancing on Barbed Wire

One of the main downsides to using spot is that if you are hand-holding, like I often do, it can be quite easy to slip off the point, because the point is so fine and precise. It is often not the best AF point on a subject that is moving, especially moving fast, because you increase the changes of slipping off the subject and blowing the focus of the entire image. Therefore using this point is more effective when using a tripod on a subject that isn’t moving (or not moving quickly).

 

I used the spot AF to focus on the Tree Swallow in Balancing on Barbed Wire. I actually started with zone AF when shooting this guy, but then when he landed on the barbed wire and looked like it was going to stay still, I switched to the spot. The reason I did this is because the bird is so small I wanted focus to be on the head/eye and not on its shoulder/wing, especially because I was shooting this wide-open at f/5.6 (Canon 500 f/4 + 1.4x extender). Since the eye is drawn to the sharp part of an image, I wanted to make sure that was the eye of the bird. This image was a combination of using a small point because of the size of the subject, and therefore needed precision, and using a large aperture. In this particular image, if I had even switched and using Single-Point, it could have made a difference and picked up the shoulder of the Tree Swallow.

 

Single-point AF (referred to as “single-point” throughout the rest of this post):


This AF point is slightly larger than the pinpoint above (Single-Point Spot AF as it is called in the Canon manual), and focusing is done on the entire square as shown in the image above. Because this point is similar to the pinpoint, just larger, I would use this in similar scenarios to the pinpoint:

– When a animal is super close, and I want to ensure I have the exact right focus point (like between the eye and nose of Grizzly Bear); or
– When the subject is quite small in the frame and I want to make sure that the focus stays on one small point; or
– If you are shooting a bird in a tree and in between branches, and you want to make sure not to pick up some of these other branches; or
– When using a large aperture and trying to get a shallow DOF, you want to make sure the exact point where you want sharpness is selected, especially if the entire subject isn’t on the same focal plain.

 

Sleepy Head

Similar to pinpoint, a downside to using single-point is when you are hand-holding the camera, you have a higher risk of losing focus if you slip off the subject. Therefore, again, it is often a point that would be more effective when used with a tripod, and on a subject with either little, or predictable, movement.

 

For the image of the Grizzly Bear that I titled “Sleepy Head” I used the single-point AF point, because given how zoomed in the shot was it was critical that I got the focus point right so that you can see the dimples in the nose and still have the eye in focus, so therefore I used this point and had it about half-way up the snout of the Grizzly Bear.

 

With the two points being quite similar just varying slightly in size, the question is what one to choose and when. Well that’s simple, “it depends”. I find that I will often go with the pinpoint when the subject is really small, or when there are a number of things that grab focus (like grass in front of a bear). I will go with the single point when the subject is slightly larger, or if the point being slightly larger won’t really matter.

 

Feel free to email me, contact@wildelements.ca if you have further questions on the single point options.  Stay tuned to the next post where I will cover the expansion points.

In Part 1 of this blog series I listed the different types of AF Points, and how I have grouped them to make it easier on myself. In this blog post I’m going to discuss the two “single point” AF Points, being Single-point Spot AF (pinpoint or spot as I call it) and Single-point AF (single-point).

 

Single-point Spot AF (I call this “spot” or “pinpoint”)

This is the smallest focusing point available. You would use this point when you want focusing to be very precise, as focusing will be done on the very small little square within the bigger square. I find myself using this point in the following situations:

 

–  When a animal is super close, and I want to ensure I have the exact right focus point (like between the eye and nose of Grizzly Bear); or
–  When the subject is quite small in the frame and I want to make sure that the focus stays on one small point; or
–  If you are shooting a bird in a tree and in between branches, and you want to make sure not to pick up some of these other branches; or
–  When using a large aperture and trying to get a shallow DOF, you want to make sure the exact point where you want sharpness is selected, especially if the entire subject isn’t on the same focal plain.

 

Tree Swallow on barbed wire

Balancing on Barbed Wire

One of the main downsides to using spot is that if you are hand-holding, like I often do, it can be quite easy to slip off the point, because the point is so fine and precise. It is often not the best AF point on a subject that is moving, especially moving fast, because you increase the changes of slipping off the subject and blowing the focus of the entire image. Therefore using this point is more effective when using a tripod on a subject that isn’t moving (or not moving quickly).

 

I used the spot AF to focus on the Tree Swallow in Balancing on Barbed Wire. I actually started with zone AF when shooting this guy, but then when he landed on the barbed wire and looked like it was going to stay still, I switched to the spot. The reason I did this is because the bird is so small I wanted focus to be on the head/eye and not on its shoulder/wing, especially because I was shooting this wide-open at f/5.6 (Canon 500 f/4 + 1.4x extender). Since the eye is drawn to the sharp part of an image, I wanted to make sure that was the eye of the bird. This image was a combination of using a small point because of the size of the subject, and therefore needed precision, and using a large aperture. In this particular image, if I had even switched and using Single-Point, it could have made a difference and picked up the shoulder of the Tree Swallow.

 

Single-point AF (referred to as “single-point” throughout the rest of this post):


This AF point is slightly larger than the pinpoint above (Single-Point Spot AF as it is called in the Canon manual), and focusing is done on the entire square as shown in the image above. Because this point is similar to the pinpoint, just larger, I would use this in similar scenarios to the pinpoint:

– When a animal is super close, and I want to ensure I have the exact right focus point (like between the eye and nose of Grizzly Bear); or
– When the subject is quite small in the frame and I want to make sure that the focus stays on one small point; or
– If you are shooting a bird in a tree and in between branches, and you want to make sure not to pick up some of these other branches; or
– When using a large aperture and trying to get a shallow DOF, you want to make sure the exact point where you want sharpness is selected, especially if the entire subject isn’t on the same focal plain.

 

Sleepy Head

Similar to pinpoint, a downside to using single-point is when you are hand-holding the camera, you have a higher risk of losing focus if you slip off the subject. Therefore, again, it is often a point that would be more effective when used with a tripod, and on a subject with either little, or predictable, movement.

 

For the image of the Grizzly Bear that I titled “Sleepy Head” I used the single-point AF point, because given how zoomed in the shot was it was critical that I got the focus point right so that you can see the dimples in the nose and still have the eye in focus, so therefore I used this point and had it about half-way up the snout of the Grizzly Bear.

 

With the two points being quite similar just varying slightly in size, the question is what one to choose and when. Well that’s simple, “it depends”. I find that I will often go with the pinpoint when the subject is really small, or when there are a number of things that grab focus (like grass in front of a bear). I will go with the single point when the subject is slightly larger, or if the point being slightly larger won’t really matter.

 

Feel free to email me, contact@wildelements.ca if you have further questions on the single point options.  Stay tuned to the next post where I will cover the expansion points.

My first time visiting the Yukon was last summer before the Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku. Since then I was back again in November as the starting point of our Alaska Eagles trip. The landscape in this area are just stunning, so when I was given the opportunity to go up to the Yukon and actually spend some time photographing there (as opposed to just using it as a trip starting point), I jumped at the chance. This time, the plan was to spend a few days photographing Dall Sheep that call many of the mountain ranges in this area home.

 

Anyone that knows me knows that I prefer to photograph the large carnivores of North America (and as evidenced in my portfolio and journeys galleries). Going on a trip that wasn’t focused around these species was certainly a change, but I was up for the change.

 

I will admit heading into the trip, I thought I would end up with some decent images of Dall Sheep, but I really didn’t expect the calibre of images that I would get. The animalscape opportunities in this area were way better than I anticipated, and some of the best of all the places that I have visited. Instead of just shooting a Dall Sheep, you are really shooting landscape images with Dall Sheep in the image, and the landscapes were really quite stunning.

 

In addition to getting animalscapes, we were also able to capture images of a Ram that lost one of his horns (likely during the rut last year), which our wildlife guide said was really quite rare. We also got some cute images of moms and yearlings resting, and eating together. For just being there for two days, I was really impressed with the variety of images that I was able to capture.

 

Getting to the areas where these sheep live is really a physical challenge, especially while carrying all my camera gear (two pro bodies and multiple lenses including a 500). We were also dealing with really strong winds and melting snow conditions, but braving these conditions was worth it for the images that I came away with. These were not shooting from the side of the road, or set-up type of images, instead one location required almost two hours of walking in melting snow, and then up and down a pretty steep hill to get to the area where the Rams were hanging out.

 

This trip gave me a greater appreciation for the life that these sheep have to endure, sleeping on the edge of cliffs, battling winds, climbing mountains, and all the while trying to avoid the predators that also call this area home (such as wolves and wolverines). I know that Dall Sheep were born to live in these conditions, whereas my body clearly was not built to climb mountains. However I endured, and was able to capture some simply stunning images, that I could never have imagined before going on the trip. Having to work so hard for these images actually makes the images more valuable to me, and other than one other photographed (Brad Hill), no one will have these images, because we were the only ones shooting on the hillside these days.

 

At the end of the two days, I was really sad that I didn’t plan to spend more time with these guys, but when booking you think 2 days should be enough time with Sheep, right? I bet if I spent a week there I would have walked away with some very unique images, with each day offering something different.

 

To find out more about this trip, feel free to contact me at contact@wildelements.ca.

My first time visiting the Yukon was last summer before the Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku. Since then I was back again in November as the starting point of our Alaska Eagles trip. The landscape in this area are just stunning, so when I was given the opportunity to go up to the Yukon and actually spend some time photographing there (as opposed to just using it as a trip starting point), I jumped at the chance. This time, the plan was to spend a few days photographing Dall Sheep that call many of the mountain ranges in this area home.

 

Anyone that knows me knows that I prefer to photograph the large carnivores of North America (and as evidenced in my portfolio and journeys galleries). Going on a trip that wasn’t focused around these species was certainly a change, but I was up for the change.

 

I will admit heading into the trip, I thought I would end up with some decent images of Dall Sheep, but I really didn’t expect the calibre of images that I would get. The animalscape opportunities in this area were way better than I anticipated, and some of the best of all the places that I have visited. Instead of just shooting a Dall Sheep, you are really shooting landscape images with Dall Sheep in the image, and the landscapes were really quite stunning.

 

In addition to getting animalscapes, we were also able to capture images of a Ram that lost one of his horns (likely during the rut last year), which our wildlife guide said was really quite rare. We also got some cute images of moms and yearlings resting, and eating together. For just being there for two days, I was really impressed with the variety of images that I was able to capture.

 

Getting to the areas where these sheep live is really a physical challenge, especially while carrying all my camera gear (two pro bodies and multiple lenses including a 500). We were also dealing with really strong winds and melting snow conditions, but braving these conditions was worth it for the images that I came away with. These were not shooting from the side of the road, or set-up type of images, instead one location required almost two hours of walking in melting snow, and then up and down a pretty steep hill to get to the area where the Rams were hanging out.

 

This trip gave me a greater appreciation for the life that these sheep have to endure, sleeping on the edge of cliffs, battling winds, climbing mountains, and all the while trying to avoid the predators that also call this area home (such as wolves and wolverines). I know that Dall Sheep were born to live in these conditions, whereas my body clearly was not built to climb mountains. However I endured, and was able to capture some simply stunning images, that I could never have imagined before going on the trip. Having to work so hard for these images actually makes the images more valuable to me, and other than one other photographed (Brad Hill), no one will have these images, because we were the only ones shooting on the hillside these days.

 

At the end of the two days, I was really sad that I didn’t plan to spend more time with these guys, but when booking you think 2 days should be enough time with Sheep, right? I bet if I spent a week there I would have walked away with some very unique images, with each day offering something different.

 

To find out more about this trip, feel free to contact me at contact@wildelements.ca.

Canon cameras, and all DSLR’s for that matter, have a number of features that are available to help you get the most out of your photographs. And one of those features is the latest Auto Focus settings that come with some of the newest amateur and professional bodies, including the 1DX mark II.

 

I have stumbled upon Canon’s recently released guide for the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II, which can be found here. Based on my experience the guide can equally be applied to the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. This guide is probably one of the most extensive guides that I have seen Canon put out on this subject, which speaks the the importance of understanding the autofocus system, however again, it only speaks to one subject, sports, and it can often be difficult to understand how it applies to what we care about, nature.

 

However, one of the problems I had with guides like this is really understanding the “Cases”, and when certain AF points makes sense for my situation, since all the examples are sports related, and not wildlife related. I have created this series of blog posts, to breakdown the AF system of the Canon cameras, and how it applies to us nature/wildlife photographers, and what I have learned after my time using these settings. I have also decided to provide some guidance on when I use these settings, however, it always “depends” on when I use what, as every situation is unique.

Birds in flight are one of the main subjects when having the correct AF settings can be the difference between making and missing the shot.  For the “Mountainside Voyage” I took advantage of Canon’s Zone AF using the 1DX in order to make sure that if the Bald Eagle takes a detour, I can still keep it in focus and keep getting the sharp shots.

Mountainside Voyage

 

AF Operation:

When thinking about autofocus, one of the first things to determine is which AF Operation is going to be used, with the options being One-Shot, or AI Servo. For wildlife shooting I have learned that it is unpredictable, and you want to always have yourself setup so you can respond when the unpredictable happens (and you don’t miss the shot). Therefore you want to be in AI Servo, as it will continuously focus on your subject when you press the shutter down halfway, and will have predictive focus capabilities and track the subject when it moves toward you.

 

For further clarification, predictive AF is NOT the same as subject tracking. When the focus is locked on a subject, Predictive AF will work in AI Servo to focus on the subject as it moves toward or away from you, assuming the subject stays in the AF point (a Grizzly Bear walking directly towards you). Whereas subject tracking is how the autofocus system respond when a subject moves away from the focus point (Grizzly Bear walking away from the AF point to an adjacent point).

 

You can change the AF operation using the Drive AF button and scrolling with the main dial.

 

AF Points:

Now assuming you are in AI Servo, the next question is, “Which AF point or AF Area do I use?”. Well the answer to that is simple, it “depends”.

 

I like to group the AF points into the following four categories:

1. Single Points – (AF Points – Part 2 Blog Post to come)

-Single-point Spot AF

-Single-point AF

  2. Expansion Points – (AF Points – Part 3 Blog Post to come)

-AF point expansion

-AF point expansion with surrounding points

  3. Zones – (AF Points – Part 4 Blog Post to come)

Bald Eagle Perched in Downpour Hurricane

Perched in a Downpour

-Zone AF

-Large zone AF

  4. Automatic selection (AF Points – Part 4 Blog Post to come)

 

Given the length and complexity of each autofocus point, I have decided to split this topic into several different blog posts, so that I can provide example images, and details on when I would use each point.

 

Also, following the posts on the AF points, I will also dive into the topic of the “Cases” and explain what they really mean, besides “good for a cycling race” so that you can set yours up for the situation you are presented with.

 

Knowing how and when to use the above points, and also modifying your cases, can be the difference between getting and missing the shot, especially if you modify these settings and setup your cases to reflect different shooting scenarios.

 

This image “Perched in a Downpour” was shot with “Single-Point AF”, and the reason that this was required was because we were shooting in an absolute downpour. Any of the bigger AF points would be picking up the rain drops, because they were huge, plentiful and closer to us then the Bald Eagle was. The reason I didn’t go with the smaller, Single-point Spot AF was because we were shooting from a Zodiac and there was some movement with the motor and the movement from the water, so I wanted to have a slightly larger point to help stay “locked-on” the Bald Eagle.

Canon cameras, and all DSLR’s for that matter, have a number of features that are available to help you get the most out of your photographs. And one of those features is the latest Auto Focus settings that come with some of the newest amateur and professional bodies, including the 1DX mark II.

 

I have stumbled upon Canon’s recently released guide for the Canon EOS 1D X Mark II, which can be found here. Based on my experience the guide can equally be applied to the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. This guide is probably one of the most extensive guides that I have seen Canon put out on this subject, which speaks the the importance of understanding the autofocus system, however again, it only speaks to one subject, sports, and it can often be difficult to understand how it applies to what we care about, nature.

 

However, one of the problems I had with guides like this is really understanding the “Cases”, and when certain AF points makes sense for my situation, since all the examples are sports related, and not wildlife related. I have created this series of blog posts, to breakdown the AF system of the Canon cameras, and how it applies to us nature/wildlife photographers, and what I have learned after my time using these settings. I have also decided to provide some guidance on when I use these settings, however, it always “depends” on when I use what, as every situation is unique.

Birds in flight are one of the main subjects when having the correct AF settings can be the difference between making and missing the shot.  For the “Mountainside Voyage” I took advantage of Canon’s Zone AF using the 1DX in order to make sure that if the Bald Eagle takes a detour, I can still keep it in focus and keep getting the sharp shots.

Mountainside Voyage

 

AF Operation:

When thinking about autofocus, one of the first things to determine is which AF Operation is going to be used, with the options being One-Shot, or AI Servo. For wildlife shooting I have learned that it is unpredictable, and you want to always have yourself setup so you can respond when the unpredictable happens (and you don’t miss the shot). Therefore you want to be in AI Servo, as it will continuously focus on your subject when you press the shutter down halfway, and will have predictive focus capabilities and track the subject when it moves toward you.

 

For further clarification, predictive AF is NOT the same as subject tracking. When the focus is locked on a subject, Predictive AF will work in AI Servo to focus on the subject as it moves toward or away from you, assuming the subject stays in the AF point (a Grizzly Bear walking directly towards you). Whereas subject tracking is how the autofocus system respond when a subject moves away from the focus point (Grizzly Bear walking away from the AF point to an adjacent point).

 

You can change the AF operation using the Drive AF button and scrolling with the main dial.

 

AF Points:

Now assuming you are in AI Servo, the next question is, “Which AF point or AF Area do I use?”. Well the answer to that is simple, it “depends”.

 

I like to group the AF points into the following four categories:

1. Single Points – (AF Points – Part 2 Blog Post to come)

-Single-point Spot AF

-Single-point AF

  2. Expansion Points – (AF Points – Part 3 Blog Post to come)

-AF point expansion

-AF point expansion with surrounding points

  3. Zones – (AF Points – Part 4 Blog Post to come)

Bald Eagle Perched in Downpour Hurricane

Perched in a Downpour

-Zone AF

-Large zone AF

  4. Automatic selection (AF Points – Part 4 Blog Post to come)

 

Given the length and complexity of each autofocus point, I have decided to split this topic into several different blog posts, so that I can provide example images, and details on when I would use each point.

 

Also, following the posts on the AF points, I will also dive into the topic of the “Cases” and explain what they really mean, besides “good for a cycling race” so that you can set yours up for the situation you are presented with.

 

Knowing how and when to use the above points, and also modifying your cases, can be the difference between getting and missing the shot, especially if you modify these settings and setup your cases to reflect different shooting scenarios.

 

This image “Perched in a Downpour” was shot with “Single-Point AF”, and the reason that this was required was because we were shooting in an absolute downpour. Any of the bigger AF points would be picking up the rain drops, because they were huge, plentiful and closer to us then the Bald Eagle was. The reason I didn’t go with the smaller, Single-point Spot AF was because we were shooting from a Zodiac and there was some movement with the motor and the movement from the water, so I wanted to have a slightly larger point to help stay “locked-on” the Bald Eagle.

The Photo Tours page on my website is now live.  These trips are offered in conjunction with Brad Hill of Natural Art Images.

 

Most trips for 2017 are now sold out, however, there are still a few spots available on the Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku.

 

The 2018 tour dates are also now available, with a number of trips already sold out.  There are still spots available on the Marine Mammals, and Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku.  Visit the Photo Tours page for more information on these trips.

 

If you would like more information on these trips, feel free to contact me at seminars@wildelements.ca.  You can view images from my past trips in my Journeys Galleries.