Tamron SP 15-30mm lens, first impressions

It has only been a couple of weeks now since I purchased the new Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC  wide angle lens for full frame.  I bought the lens to further invest in my real estate / architectural photography work, but naturally I will still give the SP 15-30mm a workout with my outdoor shooting.  I am pairing the lens to both my Canon 6D and also my Sony A7R (via Fotodiox Pro adaptor).

As expected the lens was ready to go as soon as I opened the packaging.  The frontmost element is bulbous, which is just a fact of the matter when using such an extremely wide POV with a fast F/2.8 aperture.  The finely crafted incorporated lens hood and also the slide-on lens cap do well to protect the front element.  There is also no threading for filters on the SP 15-30mm, although after market adapters seem to be springing up.  I have not tried any filters with the lens yet.

So what do I really think of the SP 15-30mm VC?

It is wide on full-frame, very wide.  When effectively composing a landscape photo at the lens’s broadest field of view we get a grandiose amount of scenery captured in a single frame. Knowing how to use an ultra wide lens to its full potential will be a challenge to new comers.

The SP 15-30mm VC is also extremely sharp.  Fine detail is recorded throughout the entire frame.  I am confident that my landscape photography will come to life in large prints after reviewing my camera raws. Expectedly, there is an acceptable level of distortion in the corner of the frames. I actually enjoy the slight “cathedral-effect” on my nature photographs but distortion is easily corrected in all camera raw converters.

Tamron’s SP 15-30mm VC is a sleek and attractive full frame lens capable of creating sleek and attractive photos.  I look forward to using the lens for future low-light and night sky shooting.  With the current retail price-point near $1200 Tamron has provided a great deal of value at a nice price point.

To view my most recent uploads:

Flickr or Instagram

For Fine Art prints or updates on my upcoming gallery showings contact me at daveblinderphotography@gmail.com

DSC01315 copy.jpg

Tamron SP 15-30mm VC + Sony A7R.  1/15th F/14 ISO 80.  Buttermilk Falls in New Jersey

 

IMG_8635 copy.jpg

Tamron SP 15-30mm VC + Canon 6D. 1/50th F/11 ISO 320.  Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey

DSC01537.jpg

Tamron SP 15-30mm VC + Sony A7R. 15mm F/14 ISO 50. Black River Park in New Jersey

IMG_8563 copy copy.jpg

Tamron SP 15-30mm VC + Canon 6D. 15mm F/14 ISO 100. Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey.

Advertisements

Maximizing dynamic range in landscape photography

NJ landscape photography

An abandoned pasture slowly returns to its natural state under an ominous sky in New Jersey.

My goal in nature photography is generally to have my photos look very realistic, yet also portray a flattering impression of whatever laid in front of myself and my tripod.  While out shooting yesterday, I was fortunate to have overcast lighting and also some dramatic clouds.  More or less the ideal conditions for photographing scenery.  The histogram on my DSLR was showing that I was losing a smidgeon of highlight data within my first exposures, so the easy solution was to bracket exposures and blend in post-processing.

For both photos below, I initially shot different exposures, bracketed 2/3 of a stop over and under my baseline capture.  Within Photoshop I used the “HDR Pro” option and selected the “Highlight Compression” option to maximize details in my highlight regions.  I then used a Levels Adjustment to add some pop back into my shots.

NJ landscape photography

The open doors of an old horse stable evoke thoughts of a once-thriving farming economy in New Jersey.

Unsure how to bracket your photos?  Your camera’s manual most likely contains that info, otherwise a quick Google search for bracket photography exposures will lead the way.  Don’t know how to blend exposures or execute HDR?  Ask Google, there are many great tutorials.  Technical and software skills such as these are requirements of modern digital photography.  Learning to look up tutorials on your own and interpret them is an even more valuable skill.  The info is out there, if you seek it.

The Best Weather for Nature Photography?

My favorite nature photos, especially landscapes are often taken in the most brutal weather conditions.  Often in snow, rain, or wind that makes being outdoors very uncomfortable.  On the contrary, I don’t find many of my “blue sky” shots to have much of a mood to them.  Why the correlation between extreme weather and dramatic photos?  I’m not entirely sure, but I think that the sunlight is often much softer during bad weather spells.  Also, precipitation and moisture in the air create a lot of mystery and drama.  Perhaps a great deal of effective nature photography lives in the surreal or sublime realms?  On the other hand, embracing and emphasizing the mundane is an effective technique too, especially for street photography.

As my photography years go on, I’ve come to embrace adverse weather conditions more and more.

What weather conditions have created your most dramatic photos?

Wooded Road in Winter

Infrared photo taken in the early stages of a snow storm in Chester, New Jersey. I had finished a quick walk at some local parks, but glanced down a residential road and couldn’t resist shooting a vanishing point in the snow.

Electric Brook Falls in Winter

Photo taken shortly after a snow storm. The walk down to this vantage point was treacherous to say the least. I did not enjoy the bitter cold or the fright from extremely icy rocks. I do enjoy looking at the photo from home now, though.

New Jersey Nature Photography

A very gloomy morning on the Atlantic Ocean. Photo taken in Ocean City, New Jersey. The wind was strong and actually a big unnerving. Even with a tripod-mounted camera, I will keep the camera’s strap around my neck to avoid accidents in this type of weather.

And here is a blue sky photo that I like:

New Jersey Nature Photography

A blue sky above the New Jersey Pinelands is dotted with Cumulus clouds, adding the illusion of depth to some two-dimensional pixels.

New Jersey Nature Photography: Sunset over Frozen Pond

This afternoon I ventured out in the cold, dangerous, and remote tundra…. Okay okay, so I was actually only a few minutes from the big local shopping mall in New Jersey.  Anyhow, I was scouting the location as the sun slowly descended towards the horizon.  A photographic frame came together in my mind as I walked across a small frozen pond.  Why was I walking on the pond in the first place?   Bodies of water often offer a clean and uncluttered midground for scenic photos and quite often rocks or vegetation on the periphery can be used very effectively to anchor the foreground of an image.

Below I have uploaded my final output jpeg, compromised of a 3 exposure HDR blend.  Below that is a view of what the individual exposures looked like.  Last is a snapshot of my Canon T5 DSLR and Tamron 16-300mm VC PZD lens in position for the capture.

New Jersey Photograph of a Winter Sunset

Sun beams pierce the wooded fringe of a calm pond on a cold February evening. This is a three image #HDR blend and the #photos were taken with the #Tamron 16-300mm VC PZD lens and the Canon EOS T5 DSLR.

raw image previews

A quick look at my three unprocessed #raw exposures. The #dynamic range of the #Canon T5 sensor is approximately 12 stops of light, which is not quite enough to record details in the highlights and the shadows of the scene.

BTS nature photograph

A peek behind the scenes, my #DSLR is atop my tripod and positioned very close to the ground. The petal shaped #lens hood of the #Tamron 16-300mm VC PZD can greatly help reduce flare from shooting into the sun.

Photo Editing: Adding a digital neutral density filter

I made my way to Orange County, New York today to shoot some of the more rustic areas following the scenic snow our area accumulated.  When I am doing landscape photography, my goal (aka everyone’s goal) is to capture as much dynamic range as possible in the raw file.  This is accomplished by ETTR (exposing to the right), and getting the brightness histogram as far right as possible without blowing the highlights out of the gamut.

The raw file will always be lacking in contrast before post-processing, but generally a global Curves Adjustment Layer will do the trick for me.  As we can see below, there is a bit of cloud detail in the sky in my original shot, but in general it does appear featureless.  Featureless sky = boring photo.  To give the sky a little pop, I added a new blank layer in the digital darkroom, and simply did a directional fill with the gradient tool (black to transparent).  I also changed the layer blending mode to “overlay”.  Results below.

Mostly unprocessed view, note that I adjusted the horizon and had to “add canvas” after a slight rotation.

NYS scenery photo

Not a great finished product, but it is a start. #Composition mostly adheres the the rule of thirds, and I positioned my #camera to have weeds fill in some negative space in the snowy foreground.

My finalized jpeg for web view.  Digital ND filter superimposed over sky, and foreground repaired after slight rotation.

NYS Winter Fine Art Photo

#NYS Winter scenery photo. Taken handheld with the #Tamron 16-300mm VC PZD lens and the #Canon EOS T5 #DSLR

Another successful outing with the new Tamron All-In-One lens.

New Jersey Landscape Photography: Muriel Hepner Park; Autumn

I’ve just gotten home from a local photography art meeting at the time of this posting.  We engaged in critiques of photos from the traditional artist viewpoints of mood, composition, and uniqueness.  Quite a different mentality than looking for “likes on Facebook”.  I do think the photo I am posting here is a very straightforward composition, but at the same time the texture of the rocks and the wooden bridge provide character and personality to the scene.

NJ Nature Photo

The midday sun and vibrant Fall foliage provide a warm glow around a pond. Taken with the Tamron 14-150mm DI III Lens for m43.

Above photo was taken in Denville, New Jersey on October 18, 2014.  Exposure settings: 1/50th F/10 ISO 200

New Jersey Landscape Photography: Sunrise in Ocean City

Not all sunrises are created even.  Before I began doing photography, I didn’t pay all that much attention to weather patterns and cloud conditions.  Slightly into my photographic venture, I assumed that no clouds = bright light = sharp shots = best shooting conditions.  Nowadays, I look forward to storm clouds and uncommon atmospheric conditions as I’ve begun to understand that compelling landscape photographs usually require dramatic light.

NJ Fine Art Photography

Intense crimson red colors briefly fill the early morning sky over the Atlantic Ocean in Ocean City, NJ. Photo taken with the Tamron 16-300mm VC All-In-One lens and the Canon 7D DSLR.

The above photo was taken 10/29/2014 at 7:04 AM looking eastward from the beach at Ocean City, New Jersey.  Exposure settings: 30s F/7.1 ISO 200

New Jersey Landscape Photography: Ocean City; Predawn

I just returned home from my first visit to Ocean City, New Jersey.  A quiet shore town nestled in between Atlantic City and Cape May.  The photography opportunities were plenty with iconic buildings to capture and the easy beach access.  I ventured out to shoot sunrise several mornings, and also capitalized on soft predawn light to showcase some of the sights.

NJ Fine Art Photography

In soft early morning light, a quiet side street leads towards the amusements of Ocean City, New Jersey. Photo taken with the Tamron 16-300mm VC All-In-One lens and Canon 7D.

The above photo was taken with the Tamron 16-300MM F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro lens and the tripod-mounted Canon EOS 7D DSLR camera.  Exposure settings: 30s F/22 ISO 100

New Jersey Landscape Photography: Worthington State Forest

When trying to photograph detailed landscape photos, the natural inclination is achieve the greatest depth of field possible.  Why?  The detail resolved in a DSLR photography will exhibit much greater definition than a capture created by a cellphone or compact camera.  The differences in medium may not be apparent until an image is displayed at its largest size.

Are there times when it is “okay” to intentionally limit the depth of field in a landscape view?  Yes.  There are no laws in art creation, and an artist does not advance in his/her field by conforming to the norm.  The scene that I have presented here does quickly fade to soft focus.  Why?  Because I like it that that way.

NJ Fine Art Photo

An Autumnal View of the main drive through Worthington State Forest. Photo taken with the Tamron SP 24-70mm VC lens and the Canon EOS 6D.

Exposure settings: 1/80 F/3.5 ISO 100

New Jersey Landscape Photography: Lake Hopatcong State Park

I mistakenly left my treasured 82mm 10-stop Neutral Density filter at home today, par for my course.  However, I did bring along my newly purchased slim mount 82mm Polarizing filter.  The filter it replaced was not slim mount, causing noticeable vignetting at focal lengths under 28mm on my full frame camera.  No signs of darkening of the corners at 24mm today… yay!

Rainy and cool days are not necessarily my favorite days for nature photography, but then again it is still more bearable than an 85 degree summer excursion in New Jersey with our humid climate.  I liked the curvature of the stone retention wall in this scene, but I do feel the bright metal handrail is a bit overpowering.  Yes, I did arrange the leaves myself, thanks for asking!  Having taken several similar frames, I chose to process this one because I like the Mallard swimming by.

NJ Landscape Photo

Autumn leaves lead the viewer into the scene of a small canal in New Jersey. Taken with the Tamron SP 24-70mm VC lens and the Canon EOS 6D.

Exposure settings: 1.3s F/20 ISO 100, 24mm