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.

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

 

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

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

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

The Creative Vision Hoax in Nature Photography

“The Creative Vision Hoax in Nature Photography”

New Jersey Fine Art Photography

A small aperture and dark exposure helps frame the morning sun striking the Jersey Shore.

I just got done flipping through another recent article in a photography magazine (name omitted to protect the guilty).  In my estimation 80%-90% of photography periodicals, videos, and websites are rehashing the same post-processing principles that have been discussed ad nauseam since the early 2000’s.  In the meantime, they are beating the dead horse on composition and exposure techniques that have been documented and discussed for at least 50 years.

My pet peeve is writings on the topic of “creative vision”.  When shooters and authors mention creative vision, what they generally mean is taking the liberty to pull as many sliders in Lightroom as possible.  Making the image looking wholly unnatural, yet justifying that their “eyes saw it that way”.  I concur that there are no rules to art or photography, but to claim that the sky above the Earth is regularly the color of pure cyan or that the human eye views clouds with intense tonal gradations is nonsense.  Modern age photographers should absolutely use all technology available to them, but they should do so with full disclosure.

Instead of stating my “creative vision” saw the scene this way, why not phrase it more accurately?

“I thought I could spice it up by adding intense contrast using software plug-ins.”

“The straight out of camera shot would receive little attention so I tried to improve it.”

“I use heavy post-processing on my photos to get more views on social media.”

The integrity of the field of photography is better preserved when we are honest about our techniques.  “Creative Vision” “Marketing Vision” and “Post Processing Tools” are different concepts.  You can fool some of the people some of the time…

Words and photo by Dave Blinder.

New York Nature Photography: Common Porcupine

Yesterday Lisa and I took a drive to the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, an area best known to photographers for Bald Eagle viewing in the colder months.  I did see three Eagles, although none happened to be close enough for good photos.  The highlight for the trip of us, was a Porcupine busily gnawing away on Spruce needles not much more than 15 feet off the ground.  The only other live and wild Porcupine I’ve seen in North America was completely balled up in a sleeping position.

To take this photo, I mounted my Tamron SP 150-600mm VC lens onto my tripod and then dialed in the most appropriate exposure settings.  In Aperture Priority mode, I set the aperture to F/8.0 and with overcast skies no ISO short of 1600 would do.  My initial shots with an exposure compensation of ~ +1.0 stops light added were still very dark.  When I got to +2.7 stops I was happy with the tonality of the image.  The only thing left to do was to wail on the shutter button to try for sharp captures without motion blur.  Best resultant photo below:

NY Wildlife Photography

A photograph of a porcupine eating Spruce needles on a snow covered branch. Photo taken in Sullivan County, #NewYork with the #Tamron SP 150-600mm VC lens and the #Canon EOS 60D DSLR.

Common Porcupine, Sullivan County in New York. Exposure settings: 1/100 F/8.0 ISO 1600, 500mm

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

Don’t Forget to Photograph the Small Things

This featured photo is from my most recent trip to Ricketts Glen State Park, a stunning place for nature photography.  With abundant waterfalls and silky streams, one can’t help but try to include as much scenery as possible in every frame.  I did shoot broad views of the falls and was thrilled with the results.  However, the range of captures shouldn’t end with the typical photos of the falls, there is a world of more intimate scenes that can hold their own as art.

Nature closeup photo of Autumn leaf

Closeup view of a fallen yellow Maple Leaf with softly running water below. Taken with the Tamron 14-150mm Di III lens for micro four thirds cameras.

Above photo taken with the tripod-mounted Olympus PEN E-PL3 camera and the Tamron 14-150mm All-In-One lens.  Exposure settings: 6s F/10 ISO 200

Fog on Lake Jean

Having woken up at 4AM to make a sunrise trek from New Jersey to Ricketts Glenn, I had tripod in hand and was ready to capture mirror-like images of the morning sun hitting the horizon over Lake Jean.  However, that wasn’t to be, the dense fog rendered visibility to about 20 feet.  Not a problem!  When interesting atmospheric and weather conditions occur you just roll with the punches!

PA Fine Art Photo

Long exposure landscape photo of a foggy morning at Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania.

The above photo was taken with the Tamron 18-270mm VC Lens and the Canon EOS M Compact Systems Camera with the shutter at 5seconds, an aperture of F/13, and ISO 100.  Taken in Aperture Priority Mode with -1/3 exposure compensation dialed in.  Carbon fiber tripod, Spot Metering, 2-second delay, Auto White Balance, RAW image format.

Minimalism in Nature

Went for a walk in one of my favorite nature areas in New Jersey yesterday morning, Mahlon Dickerson Reservation in Jefferson.  Optimistically, I had a wildlife lens mounted, and my macro flash unit also ready to go for smaller critters.  However, no opportunities like that materialized for me.

I noticed a bare sapling near the mostly frozen stream’s edge, and originally thought I’d isolate the entire sapling against the simple background.  I shot a few broader frames, but felt they all lacked any prominent shapes or visual guidance.  I zoomed in a bit with my zoom lens and also my tripod to see how this small single branch with a nice diagonal orientation and prominent juttings could possibly fill the frame.

I liked the frame, but the remaining problem was one unsightly rock just barely jutting from the ice’s surface.  Next step was locating a leaf in decent shape, and using a stick to push it into position to mask the rock.  Little did I know, the now juxtaposed leaf would become my favorite part of the shot.  A polarizing filter was also necessary to remove glare, especially since a small layer of melt water was sitting on top of the ice and reflecting sunlight and the surrounding trees.

New Jersey Nature Photo

Branch, Ice, and Leaf

Tamron 18-270mm VC lens @ f/16, 1/20s, ISO 200 on a tripod mounted Canon 50D.  Mirror lock-up and camera timer used to maximize sharpness.

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Using a Neutral Density Filter to Enhance Motion

This photo was taken on an overcast morning so a slow-ish shutter speed was inevitable. However, I really wanted to emphasize the motion in the flow of the water, so I mounted my 3-stop neutral density filter which allowed for a shutter speed of 8 seconds at F/16 ISO 100. The lens used was my Tamron 18-270mm VC, at 18mm.

New Jersey Scenery Photo

Rockaway River and Footbridge

Long exposures like 8 seconds are a matter of taste, but I love the painterly effect it can give. I find that the majority of ND filters on amazon are decent quality, and I usually don’t spend much more than $20 on mine.