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Archive for September, 2011

Another year, another whitewater race.

The Open Canoe Slalom Race 2011 took place on the weekend September 10th and 11th in Minden, Ontario, the weather was perfect, and we had a great turnout in terms of paddlers and boats.

River rescue - click to see the photobook

I was photographing the event on both days – primarily with a Canon T2i and a prime 200mm/2.8L lens, and with a Nikon D300 equipped with 70-300mm and 70-200 VR zoom lenses. The light conditions were challenging – harsh light and dark shadows in the sun and quite dark in the upper stretch of the river that was shaded from both sides with tall trees. And those boats move fast!

It would be great to see the absolute differences between the three long lenses, but the comparison was difficult because each shot was captured under different conditions. What became obvious is that in good light all three lenses deliver great results and that the light, shutter speed, aperture, and the angle under which you shoot are much more important that the actual lenses.

The 70-200mm/2.8 Nikkor zoom lens, although quite heavy, focused fast and accurately throughout its entire range, and was a pleasure to use. The Canon camera and 200mm/2.8 lens combo was the lightest, focused also very fast and the lens has perhaps the nicest bokeh of the three. In good light, even the relatively inexpensive 70-300VR Nikkor performed admirably (especially in the tested 100-200mm range), but it did not resolve the details as well as the other two lenses, while the dark river sections constituted a challenge and introduced a lot of noise even for the Canon 200mm/2.8L prime lens. (To be fair, in that light the weakest point was the sensor and not the glass).

The entire whitewater section of Gull River is relatively narrow, everywhere you are relatively close to the action, and from most vantage points you can fill the frame even with a 55-200mm lens. On a few occasions, I dialed up the Nikkor 70-300mm lens all the way to 300mm, but at its maximum aperture of 5.6 sometimes you have to compromise the speed and the resulting sharpness.

As a side note, there are a few tight spots on the river to experiment also with a wide or short telephoto lens, and Glenn, my shooting buddy got some interesting shots even with a 12-24mm zoom.

Here are some images from Sunday, Sept. 11th. The small web-sized pictures (reduced from 12-18MP twenty times to about 0.5 MP) don’t do justice to the actual images, but they all look great at full resolution, and would print nicely in 8×12″ or even larger size.

Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-300mm ED VR - ISO 250, 140mm, F5.6, 1/2500s

Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-300mm ED VR - ISO 250, 185mm, F5.6, 1/2500s

Canon T2i, 200mm EF prime - ISO 200, 200mm, F2.8, 1/4000

Canon T2i, 200mm EF prime - ISO 200, 200mm, F2.8, 1/4000

Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-200mm VR - ISO 200, 200mm, F2.8, 1/5000s

Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-200mm VR - ISO 200, 200mm, F2.8, 1/2500s

More images from the river in the photo book by Blurb

See also slalom images at the Shutterstock site

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