Take Awesome 10 Megapixel Selfies With A Canon PowerShot G11

If you own a Canon Powershot G series that features a tilt and swivel LCD screen, you already have a camera that takes phenomenally better selfies than your latest smartphone — that is, if image quality matters to you. I was never drawn to taking selfies because smartphone front cameras are largely still supremely inferior when compared to a 5 year old battle-scarred G11. Also, you may have read about RAW support in Android 5.0 Lollipop, I am shooting RAW+JPEG with the G11. Only slight drawback with this camera is its rather narrow 28mm field of view (newer compacts feature 24mm). Regardless, I would take distortion free any day except in rare circumstances where fish eye would be more desired.

The Lollipod tripod is light, affordable, telescopic and extremely versatile. I have a pair that I picked up in Singapore to mount my remotely triggered Canon Speedlite 580EX flashes. The legs when folded turn into a monopod and let you grip the stick better to maintain camera orientation. The G11 is heavier than a smartphone so a rounded selfie stick is going to be a bit of a challenge if you get what I mean.
Before mounting the camera onto to the Lollipod, be sure to enable Face AiAF, Servo AF, Continuous AF for facial recognition and continuous tracking. Flip the LCD forward and you’re good to go (with some experimentation to find what works for you).
Attached to the G11 is a wired shutter release RS-60E3 with more than enough cable to run the entire length of the stick. I originally tested the setup using a 10 seconds timer setting but it got too cumbersome as the camera resets itself each time camera power timed out. Other than triggering the camera, the remote shutter release button also wakes the camera from sleep so that’s convenient.

So yesterday, I put the rig to the test (without the remote shutter cable solely relying on 10 seconds timer for each shot) at our 4 km Bukit Pak Natu hike in Sungai Liang. These pictures were taken between 3.30pm and 4.45pm on an extremely sunny afternoon and what’s the first thing that springs to mind when shooting under such conditions? Yes, harsh shadows, strong contrasts and if you’re taking pictures using a smartphone, front or back camera, you would most probably end up with pictures of dark faces or blown out background, not to mention images with no discernible background detail.

Taking pictures the way it’s always been taken using a tripod. I have on many occasions hiked with friends and used the Lollipod as a tripod to take group pictures. A tad inconvenient to set up compared to a quick smartphone selfie but priority being image quality over speed.
The G11 and the Lollipod combined weigh a bit more than your regular selfie stick and a smartphone. The weight may not be to everyone’s liking (it’s really not heavy) but the same principle associated with handling a DSLR applies to this setup — the weight helps with stability in addition to the camera’s optical image stabilization.

The following images were taken at various scenic spots throughout our hike — no forest canopy here just full on direct sunlight leaving subjects with dark faces especially when hats are worn. Here’s the thing with this setup: the G11 has DSLR-like controls so it’s extremely useful to have FEC dial to balance flash power when shooting under such extreme conditions. Conditions that overwhelm even the mightiest of smartphones (their tiny LED flash do not stand a chance). I shot RAW+JPEG and each of these images are good for A3 prints.

Why choose between properly exposed faces or blue skies when you can have both. The G11 on-board flash (dialed to correct power) takes care of that at the same time captures landscape with good detail (as opposed to a lump of green artifacts resembling distance trees.
Another great example where fill flash gives the subject the light it needs while camera meters for the background preserving all details behind the subject including blue sky and white clouds with no washed out highlights.

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With my Columbia Omni-Freeze top and wife’s Patagonia Capilene® 1 both fairly recently acquired, we get to stay outdoors longer and stay cool both with UV protection. Love the heat, love the outdoors!

Landscape Photography: Canon EOS 5D Mark III In-Camera Double Exposure

The kids are on their school holiday and the rainy season of December has brought much rain to many parts of the Belait district. To my delight, I had waited since August for this otherwise semi parched lake to be filled up again. Tipped by recent pictures of Luagan Lalak on Facebook I made an impromptu trip (Facebook link) there with Jamie and Jewel. After I was done photographing multiple shots of the panoramic view across the lake, we headed to one of the huts for a short rest. There, I was going through the camera menu and happened to stop on the Multiple Exposure and HDR settings page.

I know how multiple exposures are made using Digital Photo Professional but doing the same in-camera I thought would be tricky in that you would have to visualize the results before taking the shots. There wasn’t a better time to experiment so off I went with two frames, one to the left of the lake zoomed to fill the whole frame and the other a wide perspective of the landscape. The resulting composite is the image below straight out of the camera (with a few localized tweaks in Photoshop).

click on image below to see a larger version

Spectacular Fiery Sunset Over Sungai Liang

I do not normally pack a camera, compact or otherwise, when I am out and about on the hills of Bukit Pak Natu in Sungai Liang, a location that has become a favourite to hike because of several steep hills that ensure a productive workout. Compared to Bukit Shahbandar which is an hour away, this is the next best thing for those of us staying in the Belait District. This time, I brought my PowerShot G11 along with a Lollipod just in case we felt like a quality group photo (as opposed to poor smartphone front camera IQ). And group photo we did except this time we had owner of Mr Baker’s Bakeshop Eric Pui hike with us for the first time on these hills.

The regular fab 4 + 1 at a scenic spot of Bukit Pak Natu overlooking the green landscape.

 An hour and nineteen minutes later we were back where we started — oblivious to us chatting away during our descend to the car park that we would end our hike the most spectacular way imaginable — fire in the sky sunset! Normally, I don’t pay much attention to sunsets as I’m not particularly fond of dark clouds typical of sunsets that I’ve seen over the years at the beach but clearly this is the exception.

This image was captured using the G11 in two separate frames that I stitched to produce a breathtaking panoramic view. I was able to capture the same scene using my Samsung S3 but IQ wouldn’t be nearly as good as the G11’s sensor.