Like most photographers I’ve been fascinated by black and white photography. In a world of color, how do you use black and white effectively? Is it just useful for portrait and street photography? I’ve dabbled in black and white and editing, but mostly only for people. Till recently almost a 100% of my black and whites were pictures of people and I didn’t do much with them. As a bird and nature photographer, I assumed black and white wasn’t for me. This summer I tried my first landscape black and white. I think it came out well but that was not because of anything specific that I did. …

For the past decade plus I have rocked a Canon EOS 7D (Mark 1). At the time it was the best camera that I could find for what I wanted to do, mostly bird photography. I ended up buying it used along with a bunch of used Canon L glass, notably the 70–200 F/4 and the 100–400 “dust pump”. Those two lenses and an EF-S 17–55 were my go to’s for a long long time.

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Somewhere along the way I bought a Sony a6000 as a small walkabout and travel camera. Nothing that came out in the interim excited me. Until this year. So many cameras, and such high quality. So in the end, I bit the bullet and ordered the Canon EOS R5 and invested in a number of RF lenses. Turning your entire kit around is a huge change, but given how old my body was, the improvements in tech, how long these bodies and lenses tend to last, and Canon’s clear investment in the RF mount, it felt like the right thing to do. The R5 took its while to get to me (2+ months), so I ended up selling the Sony and getting a Canon EOS RP to use with all the RF lenses and as my backup body. The RP was my first full frame camera, and while it has its limitations, the detail in the sensor, and my improving Lightroom skills ended up in pictures like this…

I’ve never been much of a landscape photographer. Sure, we went to Banff a few years ago and took some beautiful pictures and there are a few pictures of Mt. Rainier floating around, but in general photography has focused on wildlife, nature, and cities (especially during travel). Part of me regrets not making “documenting travel” a more conscious things, but there’s time to rectify that once we start traveling again.

In recent months, thanks to watching some amazing YouTube videos I’ve become more interested in looking for interesting landscape compositions. This past weekend we went to Camano Island, about an hour north of Seattle. …

As seen through the eyes of my favorite YouTube videographer, Of Two Lands

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One of my favorite birding locations in Seattle is the Union Bay Natural Area, AKA the Montlake Pit. Yesterday, my son and I headed up there around 7 am and spent a couple of hours. A good chunk of it was spent in 2 spots, because there was so much to see. First of all, it’s beautiful, especially when the sun is still low. Second, you get a great mix because you have water on one side, and vegetation/wetlands on the other. There’s a loop you can take (take it clockwise). One of the earliest lessons I learnt about birding is patience. Stay in one place and wait, and you never know what will show up. …

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Over the years I’ve used every possible lens type, or at least looked into it. Shooting with the Canon 7D I ended up with the following

  • EF-S 17–55
  • EF 70–200
  • EF 100–400

I also had a wider 10–20 Sigma that I can’t find, the nifty fifty, and a 100mm macro. But those three are the lenses that got the most use, with the 100–400 being the birding workhorse.

As I switch the EOS R system, I find myself essentially replicating that with the following

  • RF 24–70
  • RF 70–200
  • RF 100–500 (and I got the 1.4x extender)

These are essentially strictly equivalent to the EF lenses and I plan to sell most of the EF lenses shortly (will probably keep the nifty fifty). I also ended up with a couple of…

I have watched more YouTube during Covid than probably the entire year before that. One of the drivers has been my interest in film and movie making and it’s become the main avenue to learn everything about color grading, editing, gear, and shooting techniques. Perhaps my favorite person to watch and listen to is Of Two Lands. They are a French/Australian couple, but you mostly get to hear Florent. Their videos have the pace, quality, and content that really appeals to me. I love the approach and the somewhat minimalistic technique (the opposite of my “hey how much gear can I get” approach. I also rather like Florent’s voice. In many ways my decision to stick to the BMPCC4K as my main camera for video with the R5 as my photo and hybrid camera came after watching them. You should watch everything. The video I keep coming back to when I am struggling to figure out how to get going (which is all the time) is the one on Travel Cinematography. It’s got a ton of inspiration and information, and I absolutely love the style and look. Even without being able to travel like this, the style and content is much of what I want to do. …

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I suppose history should have made a simple fact obvious; for me to act on something there needs to be a goal, a sense of purpose. Back in the day, I used to blog regularly, but as much as anything, the blog had a purpose which resulted in a flow of ideas. Over the past few years, without that sense of purpose blogging has floundered. I am so far removed from science that I can’t really do that anymore. I could blog about product management, business, leadership, or the cloud but I think about those all day and it’s not that interesting to write about them. …

I was watching this video on YouTube and realized that I’ve made every single one of these mistakes. The one thing I’ve probably done OK on (till recently) was the gear. I invested in a Canon 7D, and a small set of high quality lenses over a decade ago and stuck with them till this past month. Completely upgrading your gear every ten years or so seems reasonable, right? Although I am not sure I quite put in the practice that Mark talks about.

Like many fathers I am proud of the most innocuous thing my son does. One of the areas where I am super proud is his love of birds, and perhaps even more so, his ability to identify them, although sometimes he wants to see a bird so badly, he starts seeing it everywhere.

Last Sunday, we were biking in the park when I heard him shout “Dad, Creeper!”. I went running and there were a bunch of Brown Creeper’s hopping around. The resulting pictures ended up being a great exercise in talking to him about camouflage. For those who don’t know, Brown Creeper’s are small sparrow-sized birds that search for small insects by climbing up trees. …


Deepak Singh

Computing, management, synthesizers, science, photography, writing, geekery, fatherhood. I run Containers, Linux, and HPC @ AWS.

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