Low Light family scene outside Bourbon Street in Washington Square off Sukhumvit in downtown Bangkok

Canon 5d Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8  @F5.6  1/60th  ISO 12,800

 

For our American readers where did you spend Thanksgiving?  For everyone else, did you take advantage of Thanksgiving to go check out some of the great buffets being offered featuring our favourite Thanksgiving foods?  If you're like me you'll find it hard to get into the spirit of the holidays when the weather not only isn't cold, but it's very hot and humid to boot!  Still, I sometimes seek out holiday dinners as I was this Thanksgiving evening.  Except this Thanksgiving I had one more reason to be thankful.  Bangkok Images had just added a new camera to its inventory.  The first new DSLR in six years!  With the rapid development of digital cameras and the great new cameras released every year, I hope you can now see how much I believe that it's the photographer and not the camera who makes great pictures. 

With that said I must admit the Canon 5d Mark II leapfrogs in technology and image quality anything else we own.  In other areas such as HD movies and very low light photography it just plain does things my other professional level DSLRs cannot.  On this day I'd only had the new camera in my hands less than 24 hours.  It was Thanksgiving evening and I'd mounted a Canon 16-35mm F2.8 wide angle zoom and headed out to see what kind of images I could capture in circumstances my other cameras definitely could not.  In circumstances where neither experience nor techniques could compensate for a six year old DSLR.  In short, what meaningful images I could achieve with this new DSLR I wouldn't have without it.

The above image is significant because short of a high power flash unit, there is no way I could have made this emotionally satisfying capture of a father and daughter sharing a memorable Thanksgiving Day outing.  I don't know them and they didn't notice me.  I was sitting on a bench in front of Bourbon Street Restaurant in Washington Square, mostly hidden by large plants I saw this delightful interaction between father and daughter and was able to make the capture without alerting them and spoiling the moment.  I made the capture and both of them and myself went on our separate ways.  This image was captured at an ISO of 12,800!  ISO 12,800 allowed me to use a F5.6 aperture for a decent amount of DOF which gives a distinctly different (and better) look than such images captured at F1.4-F2 with ultra fast lenses, which without this DSLR would have been my only choice.  Congratulations to this father.  His daughters face says it all!  And if its the case that you're a grandfather, even better!

 

A young girl at the Bourbon Street Bar, Thanksgiving Day 2009, Washington Square Bangkok Thailand

Canon 5d Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8  @F8  1/30th  ISO 12,800

 

Inside Bourbon Street everyone was enjoying a fantastic Thanksgiving meal buffet.  I sat in the bar area at a table, observing many harmless activities which would not be allowed in most parts of the west.  This cute and animated 5 year old girl sitting at a bar with her mom brought a smile to my face and a camera to my eye.  Again, no flash, no attention. "Click" and I'd made a fun capture and no one was the wiser.  At ISO 12,800 again there was no way my previous DSLR could have made this capture in the same way.  F8 and 20mm provided enough DOF to have all the 'layers' of the bar visible and in focus.

 

A couple mates share a Thankgiving Day drink in Bourbon Street restaurant in Washington Square Bangkok

Canon 5d Mark II, 16-35mm F2.8  @F4  1/60th  ISO 25,600

 

At the darkest end of the bar several large men sat drinking strong drinks and telling tall tales.  I watched them for a period of time as they exchanged stories amid the Thanksgiving Day festivities.  Too dark for F8, too dark for F5.6, too dark for ISO 12,800.. was it possible?  Sure, at F4 and ISO 25,600 I made this capture hand heldAnd even at this extreme ISO full color and contrast is present and a great amount of detail.  It was Thanksgiving Day, I was living in Bangkok Thailand, I had a brand spanking new camera, and I was making shots impossible just 24 hours beforeOnly one thing could make this Thanksgiving 2009 evening more special.  Yep, I set down the camera and picking up a large dinner plate I made my way to the head of the buffet line.  It doesn't get any better than this..