This past winter I finally took the step of purchasing my first tilt-shift lens. I had become dissatisfied with my wide-angle lens (Zeiss 18mm) due to consistently soft corners. I’m sure this is something that one can expect in most super wide-angle lens, but I know the renowned Nikon 14-24 is superb as are many other lens. Nevertheless I reasoned the 24mm TS-E Mark II lens from Canon would give me similar coverage with the shifting capabilities. The tilt function would definitely help me avoid or mitigate diffraction while maintain infinite depth of field. The former function was easy to grasp. However, the tilt function is a continual learning process.
I originally decided to test the tilt function while driving on the Salmon River north of Riggins, Idaho. I felt confident in my results when viewing on the camera, but when viewed on my computer the results weren’t quite sharp. Not that the image wasn’t tack sharp at 200%, but the background was noticeably not sharp at ~50% zoom. Wanting to maximize the lens ability I set out to try more shots. I tested my acumen outside my apartment before travelling to Riggins the next day. I may not have had the ideal subject (a wheat field) but I tried shooting at f/11 and f/8 both shot with tilt. I assiduously used the LiveView at 10x magnification to set the manual focus. The results swayed me towards f/11, though still not quite at the optical sweet spot of the lens, this would yield better results than at f/16.
Sunrise wasn’t especially good along the river. This was my first sunrise shoot deep within the canyon. I expected some light upon the hills high above but that didn’t even show until about an hour after sunrise. It just so happened there was a relatively nearby wildfire whose smoke thwarted the suns rays that morning. Despite the light not cooperating I still had plenty of opportunities for photos. US Highway 95 abounds with turnouts as it follows the Salmon River from Riggins to White Bird. Even this late in the season rapids are still lively though the water level is much lower. Three different stops lead me to attempt using tilt and shift together. Shooting in portrait orientation, I set the shift from left to right which allowed me to tilt the lens downward to employ the Scheimpflug principle. (This is an optical principle involving the intersection of image, lens and film/sensor plane.) About 1.5 mm of tilt, shifting for three shots, shooting at f/8, and manually focusing at 10x with LiveView yielded these results. I also used a circular polarizer to help balance the reflection/glare upon the water.
Aside from much time practicing with the tilt-shift lens, I also took a few other pictures. These were taken with my very trusty setup of 70-200 F/4 + 1.4x extender. The Lucile area along the Salmon is one of my favorites. A gigantic rock wall extends almost vertically up from the river by hundreds of feet. I still need to revisit this area and continue to capture images. I’m sure I’ll have plenty more opportunities.