Final thoughts on Canon’s 11-24mm f4L


Canon Wide Angle Lens

Now that I’ve had a good 5-6 months of working with Canon’s new 11-24mm, I thought I would give my final thoughts on how this unique lens fits into my own particular workflow and also how its super-wide perspective opens up new creative possibilities for photographers.

Last March I received the 11-24mm just as I was heading into Yellowstone for a couple weeks in early spring and had the chance to work a few landscapes in and around the northwest corner of the park. This was my first experience with the lens and my first experience with that initial jaw-dropping moment when you look through the viewfinder to see what 11mm really looks like.

Having used a variety of wide-angles over the years, I hadn’t really ventured beyond my 16-35mm or 15mm fisheye. I’ve done some pano work with tilt shifts giving wider perspectives, but really going past 16mm with a rectilinear lens was new territory for me.

After getting over the whole coolness factor of the super-wide, I was surprised in the difficulty I had trying to compose certain compositions, especially going wider than 14mm. Arranging the scene took a little more creative thought and also the acceptance that too wide is too wide for certain scenes. A good friend of mine also reminded me about the “wide-itis” you can get when you have something like this in your bag.

Over the course of the next few months I worked this lens in Oregon’s waterfalls, Washington’s rainforests and up though the Rockies into Glacier National Park. Over these trips I learned when to pull out the 11-24mm and when not to. When appropriate, these extra-wide focal lengths create amazing images and open up the doors for creativity in compositional arrangements and new ways to think outside the box. They also allow for immense foreground inclusion and add increased dimension to the scene.


Canon Wide Angle Lens

Even though the front element isn’t totally sealed, it stands up to rain and mist very well. Here its getting a thorough soaking in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge.


Beyond the 11-24mm’s unique perspective, the optics are superb. I’ve been nothing but pleased with sharpness and resolution across the whole range of focal lengths. Corners look good, chromatic aberration is almost non-existent and really, I can’t find anything negative to say about its optics. I will also add that Canon has done an amazing job with its new coatings. Fingerprints and cleaning are excellent to deal with and I’m feeling much more confident running around with its massive protruding front element.

A couple weeks back I was shooting in a field of fireweed in Glacier National Park and stepped away from my tripod only to look back in horror and see it, my 1DX, and the 11-24mm go crashing front element first into the ground. Fortunatley, the patch of fireweed cushioned the fall, but there was a whole bunch of leaves, pollen and other stuff mushed into the lens. After a good cleaning, not a single scratch, again impressed at these tough coatings Canon is working with.

The only negatives I have to say on the lens as reported previously are its weight and price. It’s a big heavy lens that takes up a lot of room in the bag and adds extra heft when trying to travel light. This is probably the biggest negative to me, but it is the price you pay for this focal length range. Speaking of price, at $3000 it’s also  a big hit to most photographer’s wallets and hard to swallow for a lot of us, but all in all, I think its worth the cost of admission for the quality and opportunity it provides.

Even with its size and price, the 11-24mm still has found a permanent spot in my camera bag and has become a working part of my landscape arsenal. It has allowed me to capture compositions and perspectives that normally would have been impossible and it’s spurred new creativity for more unique landscapes. Overall it is a remarkable engineering achievement by Canon that delivers superb results. I highly recommend this lens to anyone looking for the ultimate in sharpness and super-wide perspectives for their landscape work.

Olympic National Park

Quinault Rainforest, Olympic National Park. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L @15mm f16 1.5″ ISO100

Olympic National Park

Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L @16mm f16 1/4 ISO400


Canon Wide-angle Lens

Arrowleaved Balsamroot, Columbia River Gorge, WA. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L @11mm f16 1/1000 ISO1600

Washington Palouse

Palouse Falls, Washington. Canon 5D markIII 11-24mm f4L @11mm f4 30″ ISO1600

Montana Mountains

Two Medicine Lake, Glacier National Park. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L @11mm f16 1/20 ISO100

Montana Photography

Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L @11mm f16 1/10 ISO50


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Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Swiftcurrent Falls. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L. f16 1/10 ISO50

Just finished up a fantastic private workshop in Glacier National Park this last week. It was so refreshing to be back in Glacier this year, one of my absolute favorite locations right here in my backyard in Montana. Had a wonderful few days with my client with an epic fog and light show our first morning and some pretty sweet wildlife encounters during our stay.

Just arrived in Seattle for a trip out to the Peninsula, but will be back to Glacier in a couple weeks for my annual workshop and will have some more images to share soon. As of right now I’m enjoying the cool down of the Pacific Northwest temps compared to the seemingly endless heat wave we’ve had further inland in the west, next stop Olympic National Park!


Glacier National Park

Swiftcurrent Lake. Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L. f16 1/4 ISO100


Glacier National Park

Grizzly. Canon 1DX 100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS II. f5.6 1/125 ISO3200

Glacier National Park

Ferns. Canon 1DX 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II. f27 1/4 ISO1600

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Spring Photography Workshops

Oregon Waterfalls

Elowha Falls, Oregon. Canon 5D MarkIII, 16-35mm f4L IS. f16 1″ ISO100

Well I’m finally back home after a busy spring in the Pacific Northwest. I had some fantastic travelers and amazing destinations this year. April I was out in Oregon working the Columbia River Gorge, exploring some new locations and it really seems like the waterfalls here are just endless. The more I explore further into both Oregon and Washington the more I am amazed I what I keep stumbling upon. Beyond the green and waterfalls, wildflowers were early this year and I was fortunate enough to catch them at the beginning of the month, but towards the end of April things were definitely winding down, still some great stuff though.

Olympic National Park

Ruby Beach, Washington. Canon 1DX, 16-35mm f4L IS. f4 0.3″ ISO3200

The month of May had me tromping around one of my absolute favorite locations in the western U.S., Olympic National Park. I can never get enough of Olympic Peninsula’s rainforests and the endless compositions you can find as you wander through the old growth sitka spruces and big leaf maple trees. We also had great beach stuff as well, visiting the iconic Ruby beach and Rialto and lucking out with some pretty sweet sunsets while photographing the seascapes.

Washington Waterfalls

Palouse Falls, Washington. Canon 5D Mark III, 11-24mm f4L. f4 30″ ISO1600

June I was in Washington’s Palouse region and had a fantastic trip photographing the soft rolling hills of eastern Washington and visiting the many classic barns throughout the area. We also had a fun night photographing Palouse Falls under the milky way while a group of fun and wild photographers lent their light painting skills and helped light up the falls. All in all a great trip and one of my favorite areas to shoot close to home.

It’s nice to be back in the mountains of Montana though and to see all the new life that’s happening here in the Bitterroot Valley.  We’re beginning to see arrival of new fawns in our backyard, nesting birds, and young goslings growing up. Summer is officially here. In a couple weeks I will be heading back out to Washington’s Olympic peninsula, this time on official family vacation with the promise of putting down the cameras and soaking it up at Lake Crescent for the week:)

In July I will be gearing up for more Glacier National Park workshops and should have some more stuff to share soon. Thanks to all the great travelers on my workshops this year, you all have truly made it such a pleasure and a whole heck of a lot of fun being out there doing what we do!

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Montana’s National Bison Range

Montana Wildlife

Bison and Montana sky. Canon 5D markIII 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II. f8 1/1500 ISO400

It’s nice to be back doing some photography in Montana! It’s been a busy couple months getting caught up on print orders and traveling for workshops and now finally having a little time to sneak out for some photography in western Montana before I head back out. Things are looking spectacular out here right now and are only getting better. The National Bison Range is just a short drive from where we live in the Bitterroot and one of my favorite locations to photograph in the Mission Valley. Arrow-leaved balsamroots are in bloom, baby bison running around and snow still on the peaks. I only wish I had more time to spend here! Out last night I had some good luck with Yellow-headed blackbirds and some nice backlight work with the Bison. The light was also pretty nice on the Mission Mountains at sunset:) What I love about the Bison range is that even though it’s boundaries are small, it has so many rich elements in one area. The wildlife is usually within decent working distances, great bird habitat and you can’t beat the geography and the Missions as a backdrop. Lots of potential and you never know what you’re going to come away with. Looking forward to more trips this summer!

Montana Birds

Yellow-headed Blackbird. Canon 1DX, 500mm f4L IS II, 2X tc. f11 1/1500 ISO1600

Montana Sunset

Mission Mountain Sunset. Canon 5D markIII, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II. f11 1/20 ISO100


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Audubon Photography Awards


Sandhill Cranes

Very honored and excited to have my Sandhill Cranes image featured in the 2015 Audubon Photography Awards! This was a shot that took some work and patience( and luck!) to get, but is one of my favorites I have of Sandhill Cranes. The sequence of images below was pretty intense to watch and something I hadn’t witnessed before. This all took place with just a few minutes of the setting sun left and the encounter happened so fast it was hard to register what was captured. I had been hunkered down behind a sage bush waiting for a pair of nesting cranes to make an appearance and had been there for way too many hours and was just getting ready to call it quits. I decided to give it just five more minutes and sure enough the pair emerged and were quickly joined by a third. Within a few moments the third crane engaged in an aggressive display that sent feathers flying and had the two embattled in a aerial encounter that was pretty intense. When it was over, although both appeared shaking up with some feathers missing, neither of the two cranes appeared seriously injured and the third crane retreated and went his own way. When I returned home I was surprised to see what I had captured and pleasantly surprised with this particular frame as the light and position of the cranes all came together. Not only was it a memorable moment, but Sandhill Cranes hold a special place for me and are one of my favorite birds to photograph.

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Adobe Lightroom 6

Adobe Lightroom

Stay tuned, Adobe Lightroom 6 is coming today! Here’s a leaked review has of a few improvements and features Adobe has refined and added in the upcoming version. I’ll make sure to post a review in the coming weeks on how the new version fits in with my workflow and comparisons over version 5. The new version can be purchased standalone for $149.99 or you can download for free with Adobe’s Creative Cloud subscription of $9.99 per month.

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Columbia River Gorge Workshop

Columbia River Gorge

Canon 5D mkIII, 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS II, f13 1 sec ISO 100

Looking forward to heading down to the Columbia River Gorge next week for my spring workshop as wildflowers are in bloom and water is flowing! Last week I was down on vacation scouting some new locations and found some great new spots and hidden gems I had no idea were there. Once you get off the beaten path, the Gorge reveals some amazing geography and beautiful falls. While I was down there I also had a lot of fun with Canon’s new 11-24mm which has been perfect for waterfalls and landscapes around the Gorge. The extra wide angle of view is still a little challenging to get used to and definitely requires a lot more thought when approaching certain subjects and scenes. But when you get it right, 11mm is pretty spectacular and can make for some pretty in-your-face foregrounds! I look forward to using it more on next week’s workshop. As for now, I’m back in Montana enjoying spring in the Rockies with our days alternating between 70 degrees and snow:) I hope to have some updates from my trips here soon while over in the Pacific Northwest. If you didn’t get a chance to get in on this year’s workshops, all of my 2016 workshops will be up and available later this week.

Columbia River Gorge

Canon 1DX, 11-24mm f4L, f19 .5 sec ISO100

Oregon Wildflowers

Canon 1DX 11-24mm f4L, f16 1/1000 ISO1600

Portland Japanese Garden

Canon 1DX, 11-24mm f4L, f16 1/90 ISO100

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Pacific Northwest Photography Workshops

Photography Workshops

I’m very excited for our upcoming 2015 Pacific Northwest Photography Workshops! This year I will be leading trips to some of my favorite locations at the Columbia River Gorge, Olympic National Park, and Washington’s Palouse. There’s only a few spots left on these so feel free to email me or visit my workshops page for details and to reserve your spot.

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Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone Bison

Bison, Yellowstone. Canon 1DX 500mm f4L IS, 1.4X f8 1/750 ISO200

This last month I’ve had the pleasure of working with Natural Habitat Adventures on their Wolf Quest Photo Trips in Yellowstone National Park. We’ve had some amazing encounters so far and I look forward to sharing some images soon when I return home.

Weather throughout the west has been really warm and things are thawing rapidly in Yellowstone. Signs of spring are definitely here with bears out, migrating birds showing up, and remaining snow pack quickly disappearing.

This big bison was taken in the northeast corner of the park as he broke his way through some of the remaining deep snow on a cold morning in early March.

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Canon 11-24mm f/4L

5D markIII 11-24mm

Along with many other Canon users I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the 11-24mm and it’s finally here! These are just a few of my initial thoughts so far and not a full in-depth review. Having a fair amount of experience with other Canon wide-angles, my use so far with the 11-24mm has given me a good sense on its quality and capabilities.

First off it’s big. This lens weighs close to my 70-200mm 2.8L IS II and its front heavy balance is very noticeable when handholding. The lens comes in at 2.6lbs, certainly a beast for a lens of this size, but necessary considering its huge front element and design. Continue reading »

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