As a professional photographer, I am often asked, “Hey Rick, what is your specialty?” I reply, “My specialty is not specializing.” That’s because I like to do it all, which includes taking studio portraits (illustrated by the opening image for this article), outdoor natural light portraits, indoor and outdoor shots, landscapes, scenic images, HDR and so on — all illustrated throughout this article.
When novice photographers come to me for advice, I suggest not specializing, because I feel that not specializing makes for a well-rounded photographer — a photographer with pictures that might attract a range of potential sales or clients. Plus, getting good at one specialty can help getting good at another.
Lately, I have been photographing with the Canon EOS M5 compact interchangeable lens camera, which I call the lightweight and compact camera for photographers who don’t specialize — because it can do it all.
It’s a do-it-all, versatile camera not only because of its features — which include a 24.2 megapixel CMOS APS-C sensor, automatic and manual exposure modes, super fast auto focusing, full HD video, fast and easy controls (including +/- EV control), a tilting/fully-functional touch-screen, RAW and JPEG image recording — but because with the Canon Mount Adapter EF–EOS M, I can use all my Canon L series lenses on the camera.
Sure, the L-series lenses add to the weight of the camera. So when I want to travel light and still get super sharp images, I use, as I did for the opening image for this article, the Canon zoom EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens (24-72mm full frame equivalent), or the Canon zoom EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens (28.8-240mm full frame equivalent), which I used for the sunset photography below.
Photography is really about storytelling, that is, photographers telling their own story of a location or scene. First, let’s take a look at how the Canon EOS M5 helped me tell the story of my visit to the Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York. I share these photographs, as well as my tips, to illustrate how you can tell a good story with several photographs.
Here’s a wide-angle (Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens), in-camera HDR image of the outside of the main temple at the monastery. Notice how everything in the scene is in focus. To achieve that effect, I set the lens to 11mm (that’s coverage equivalent to about an 18mm lens, on a full-frame camera), selected a small aperture (f/9) and used the touchscreen to place the focus 1/3 into the frame. That technique — wide-angle-lens, small aperture and focusing 1/3 into the frame — is the concept for getting maximum depth of field in an image.
My visit to the monastery was my “test drive” for the camera. To check the noise level, something of which I am very well aware of in all my images, I took this interior photograph of the main temple with my ISO set to 1000. Even in a 24x36-inch (roughly equivalent to a metric-size A1 print) enlargement, I saw no noticeable noise. By the way, this is a hand-held shot and as you can see, it’s very sharp.
Speaking of noise, check out this photograph, which I took in very low light behind the main statue. It’s an in-camera HDR image. The ISO for this hand-held image was 3200. Even in the low and soft light, noise is at a minimum.
Close-ups, like these two in-camera HDR images, help the photographer tell a story. For these pictures I used my Canon 11-24mm lens, looking for uncommon angles to once again tell my story . . . or share my vision, which is what I encourage you to do when you are photographing.
Earlier I mentioned the +/- EV control, which is adjusted by an easy-access dial on the top of the camera. To get a good exposure of these small Buddha statues (10,000 surround the large Buddha statue), I adjusted my exposure using that control, while checking the live histogram to ensure that my highlights were not overexposed. Exposing for the highlights is one the main tips I give my photo workshop students.
A few days after my temple photo session, I did a model session in my backyard here in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. Here’s one of my favorite shots (yes, it’s the same model that’s in the opening image), which I took with a Canon EF 24-70mm lens. To place the focus on the model’s face, I used the touch-and-drag AF feature on the camera’s touchscreen, one of the highlights of working with the EOS M5 camera. If you’re using the eye-level viewfinder, you can run your thumb across the LCD monitor, with the camera at your eye, and adjust where the AF point is in the viewfinder.
Hey, if you have not been a fan of touchscreen, this screen will change your mind, especially when it comes to autofocus, which incudes changing the AF area size for different sized subjects and even memorizing and instantly returning to a set AF point. How cool is that!