Laking

Oh boy am I not having fun here at the lake. The temperature keeps dropping to freezing and sometimes it snows. This is making work difficult and unpredictable, even when the water system doesn’t break down unexpectedly.

Winter hangs on.

The logs there I dragged in from the road. There’s more of that to do, but …

Sometimes the logs float down the lake.

The weather (and work) is interfering with photography too. It usually isn’t sunny enough to take a good picture, and if it is I have to take advantage of it and do work.

A bird takes the easy route.

That bit the bird is floating on is from the dock, which has been destroyed.

Spider of the sun.

So here I am trying to get things done with no time to enjoy the environment I’m in.

The cabin I can’t enjoy.

So much work to do and no sign of improvement in the weather.

C’est la vie.

Bunch o’ birds

Some miscellaneous bird pictures that have been piling up in the Nikon file.

Robins. Trust me.
See? Robins.
Except this one is a varied thrush.
And this one is an Oregon dark-eyed junco.
Robins again.
I’ve got my beady little eye on thee! (Robin of course.)
Guess what?
Slate-coloured junco and his Oregon cousin.
Northern flicker pretending to be a robin.
The Robin Tree. So-named because we have had a huge number of robins this year and they like to hang out in this tree. (Look for the blobs.)

A Feature Foto

Dark-eyed (Oregon) junco got a sunflower seed!

It seems I’m not a good photographer. For one thing, I don’t use thousands of dollars’ worth of the latest, most technologically advanced gadgetry. I mean equipment. I don’t shoot RAW and then spend 12 hours fiddling with settings to get everything absolutely perfect. Why, the images I share aren’t even 4X the size of any computer screen out there so you have to pan-and-scan to look at them. And of course after having taken photos for a little over half a century I have no understanding of the use of light, much less knowledge of composition and framing.

Seriously: what the hell do I know about photography?

Well I know how to annoy the hell out of people by doing it my way, I guess.

So here is a larger-than-usual image that I happen to think is a good one, even if it is just another of my endlessly boring “professional snapshots”.

And I’ll warn you in advance I intend to continue doing this, with the occasional ‘feature foto’ thrown in for good measure, until something stops me.

1Ds with 28mm

The weather has gone lousy again so it looks like photo shoots stop for a while. Of course it could all turn around tomorrow: it does that at this time of year. Still not clear enough to go to the cabin, but maybe next week? We’ll see.

In the meantime I took a few shots with the 28mm f3.5 Super Takumar on the Canon 1Ds. This is not my favourite lens for this camera. It works fine and is plenty sharp of course, but it doesn’t ‘fit’ right in terms of taking pictures. In fact the lens-body combinations that work best (to my eye) are the 50mm on the full-frame 1Ds, the 35mm on the Pentax K100s, and the 28mm on the Canon T100 (the last two are APS-C sensors with 1.5 and 1.6 crop factors respectively). Not really a surprise as that’s as close to ‘normal’ lens/body combinations as you can get with these equipment choices.

So let’s see the pictures.

Dead rose hips. Square format for purposes of composition.
Hat tree chain saw carving made by my friend Lorne. Remember digital doesn’t have to have rigid dimensions.
Detail of the carving showing the woodpecker peeking out.
Marley napping. This is a segment of full-frame to see how well it stands up to magnification. Okay.
Winter colour. The tones of this camera are subtle.
Sit, Marley! Checking the dynamic range which is good.

A quick on-line check shows the shutter count on this camera is less than 31,000 – which means it will probably outlast me since they are supposedly good to 150k.

I have yet to try this out on night photography due to lack of weather co-operation. We have already got to the point where you have to stay up ’til 10:00 PM to get a truly dark sky, and that will get worse as we near the Summer solstice and get almost 16 hours of daylight!

There are only two things I don’t like about this camera. The first is the weight, which is enough to relegate it to studio-only work. I can’t imagine even a young photographer gaily toting this 3.5 lbs. body plus lenses over hill and dale. Sure, I’ve handled heavier cameras but that was when there was no choice. It makes me wonder if this wasn’t the driving force behind mirrorless design; all for the sake of weight!

The second issue is the controls are pretty badly thought-out. Many of the most-used items (like ISO) are stupidly complex to operate or are in dumb locations. That big turning wheel on the back for selection is absolutely moronic: four simple arrow buttons like everyone else uses would be infinitely better. The major selections for operation are again stupidly done, where a simple PASM dial would be welcome. Even the ON/OFF switch is poorly located. I think no photographer was involved in the design. For my purposes this isn’t a major issue because I usually “set and forget” things in advance – a particular camera has a particular job and doesn’t get altered from the best settings for that job. The exception to this is the ‘experiment’ camera (Canon T100) which suffers all sorts of changes depending on the experiment of the time.

Otherwise I like the larger sensor size for giving exactly what was expected of it. I don’t see it as the miracle solution for bad photography it is often subliminally touted as – by the same people who think more megapixels cures the same problem. I still haven’t tried it for astro or landscape really, and that’s what I really want to do with it. I don’t think I’ll be buying any more lenses for it specifically, other than in so much as the T100 also takes EF lenses.

Time will tell.

Say hello to my large friend

The new tool in the kit: Canon 1Ds

One of the cameras I’ve wanted to try is a full frame, any full frame, DSLR. My preference was the Canon 5D, but despite being plentiful they continue to command indecent prices. I’d about given up finding anything when along came this offering from within Canada which eliminated the cross-border hassles. I managed to get it on a last-moment bid for about 1/3 what similar ones are going for and about 1/2 what an in-Canada 5D costs. In all a pretty good deal, especially as it showed up with all the manuals and discs and a firewire cable and three batteries plus charge and an AC adapter! I’m not sure how good all the batteries are as I’ve only managed to get one charged enough to activate the camera.

So, the acid test: how good does it do ‘out of the box’?

Ambulance coming, but not for me this time!

Not bad. I was using the slightly fuzzy 75-300mm Canon EF zoom, which on this camera is 75-300mm because it’s full frame!  As expected the contrast needed a little help, partly because it was a gray day (heavily overcast) and partly because it’s an old sensor. But I like the colour rendition.

Main problem: dirty sensor.

Yes the sensor will need cleaning. Do people never look after their equipment? Mostly the camera looks good with only a few minor scuffs and expected wear. The dirt shows up more on a full-size rendering.

Cropped close chickadee.

Here we have a 640×427 section of the full-size 4064×2704 frame. It’s a little blurry even with the application of unsharp masking. There are three factors at work here: it’s ‘only’ an 11MP sensor, the lens used is not the sharpest, and the camera has a reputation for being ‘soft’. I have not got into the settings yet to see how much it can be improved on its own.

Coming in for a landing.

This shot is cropped square just to eliminate annoying clutter on one side. I’m hoping for some better weather (i.e. sunshine) and a chance to try it out with the 40mm prime lens (it won’t work with the EF-S lenses) and the 50mm f1.4 Super Takumar on manual. That should be something to see!

Large, medium, and small artillery: 1Ds, T100, and G11.

This is no lightweight camera, btw; it tilts the scales at 1585 grams without a lens. The T100 is only 436 grams. We’re talking three-and-a-half pounds of camera; more than most film SLRs weigh. I don’t expect this to be a ‘daily’ or ‘street’ camera by any means; it is intended for quite specific use which I hope to get to soon.

Until then, I will do such testing as I see fit and can think up.

Waiting for …

… many things. Better weather, consultation with a doctor, shopping trip, and shipments.

But not Godot.

While I’m waiting I tested the Nikon P610’s focus failure, which I noticed is most pronounced close-up and with the lens pointing down. The lens is actually loose in its barrel, and you can feel it (and sometimes hear it) shift around. So I pointed it down and took a close-up of a wild rose stalk, and then gently pushed the loose section back to the camera to ‘take up the slack’. What I found was that the autofocus said it was correct at either point, but the actual focal point was off by about 10mm (at a distance of roughly half a meter). This doesn’t explain why it sometimes fails to focus on more distant objects, except in as much as the internal wear may cause some random slack then as well. I’ll have to devise an experiment to check that. Although there isn’t anything that can be done about it.

Anyway, here’s the best picture from that test. It shows again why I like that camera!

Some alien creature, perhaps?

That’s a 640×480 crop out of the full size 4608×3456 image. At the focal point it’s very sharp indeed! Not bad for a $400 ‘bridge’ camera, eh? It will cost me over $700 to replace this ailing imager, so I’m not keen on it quitting altogether. True, the EVF is practically impossible to see at times and the exposure is no longer accurate across all conditions. Yes, the pictures always need a slight contrast improvement because the sensor has aged and doesn’t produce ‘snappy’ results. Okay, once in a while it jams completely and has to be shut down and restarted. But as long as I can coax the images I want out of it I will keep using it.

Some other recent examples:

Raven hiding in a tree, says “you can’t see me!”
The Lone Pine. Growing in a roadside ditch all by itself.
Weathered dog. (Duncan came in with snow and hail on his back.)
A robin wondering where Spring is.
And so it goes.

Spring tries

The weather here keeps shifting between seasons, often in the same day.

More of that white stuff.

Nevertheless, the seasonal birds are trying to come in. I spotted Canada geese flying north as well as a couple of snow geese. Plus this little fellow has returned:

Varied thrush.

The skies can be dramatic at times.

Boiling clouds.

And sometimes serene:

Eagles into the sunset.

And sometimes fluffy:

Cotton clouds.

Meanwhile I wait. For better weather, for clear road to the cabin, for vaccine inoculation, and for the arrival of my latest photo equipment acquisition.

And because these pictures were all taken with the Nikon P610 (best choice for when you’re trying to get bird pictures), another picture of the moon:

Mandatory moon.

This was unexpected

It snowed Sunday night.

The second day of Spring, 2021.

Enough to make the birds complain on Monday morning.

Dark-eyed junco complaining from the top of a snow-covered pine tree.

And to cause some trouble for humans as well:

Right down my road. Everyone was okay.

I got a notice about test results which told me my doctor had the results. How does that help, exactly?

Latest image from Mars shows ice on the red planet. (Not really.)

Wednesday they are shutting off our power all day for “equipment upgrades”. I’m an engineer; I will simply tie in the generator and keep going. I don’t know what everyone else is expected to do.

Pileated woodpecker inspecting a power pole.

I think I have succeeded in advancing my Master Plan, which was really unexpected.

Me & my Nikon P610, which took all these pictures.

More news as it develops.

Art at the end of February

When life hands you rubbish, make art. Some slob tossed this in the driveway. (Pentax K100DS)

Well this has been a week. A week of weak. I’ve had several days in a row where just being alive has been a major effort. No answers to that problem either, as the last ‘diagnosis’ (guess) turned out wrong like all the others. If it’s a new disease, will they name it after me? What a way to achieve immortality!

A “long log” truck; single span of about 40 feet. These are destined for log home construction. (Nikon P610)

Sometime in the future I should be getting an appointment with another specialist, regarding my hearing. I doubt there will be a resolution to that either, other than my sinking into a world of endless noise and no sound. It’s weird because I can hear all sorts of sound, even very soft ones, and sometimes ordinary sound is way too loud. The dogs barking can be downright painful. It’s just that over top of it all there is the constant noise(s) of tinnitus. It is not fun.

Another shot of Bleak Tree. (Pentax K100DS)

Quite a lot has been going on in the world around me that is just dumbfounding, to say the least. I’m not going to rant on about it because others have already managed that quite well. Suffice to say what I take away from the whole situation is an ever-stronger desire to not be a part of it.

You know why. (Nikon P610)

Of all the things I’d like to gain right now, mostly I’d like to have my ‘vacation’ room. Isn’t that silly? It’s supposed to be “tropical themed” so I can go in there and pretend I’m on a desert island somewhere. With sounds from the south pacific, including waves and ukuleles. I lack the logistical ability to do anything about it at the moment, from the finances to the actual physical strength to bring it about. But with all this crap going on everywhere I find what I really, really want is a room I can retreat to and shut the door on the rest of the world. I’m old; I’m not supposed to be a soldier anymore.

If you know photography or astronomy you know what’s wrong with this picture. (Pentax K100DS)

Today’s images are a mixture of artistic shots out of various cameras. I still enjoy doing that, when I’m able to get out and take pictures. Believe me, using the cameras you have is more rewarding than adding to the collection. But there are still one or two others I would like to have …

I’m outta here! Black-capped chickadee taking off. (Canon T100)

Finally, a couple of notes about WordPress itself: one, it seems to have slowed down immensely including handling image uploading/viewing – along with my no longer being able to access notices from my “front page” as it were; I have to go into “Reader” or “My Site” to see what they are about.

And two, I get a lot of likes for my simple efforts and I do appreciate that. What’s more, I almost always go to the person’s site to have a look at what they do. It doesn’t always work out, though, because my eyesight isn’t that compatible with some of the formats chosen by others to present their work. That’s a long-winded way of saying I can’t see gray print on a black background, for example. I’m sure it looks nice, I just can’t see it. Hence the very simple layout of my own blog.

Now if the weather will co-operate perhaps I can do some more photos.

I, eagle

Tracking a bald eagle on a gray afternoon with the Pentax K100DS and Vivitar 135mm f2.8 lens (202mm equivalent). “Full manual” with focus, aperture, and shutter speed pre-set. Except for the last two images, each picture is a 640×426 crop of the full size. Processing included sharpening, +10 contrast (dull day, old sensor), and smudging the flaw spots if they appeared in the image. This is a 6MP camera; these frames are basically 1/16 full size. That is a lot of digital zooming for such a low resolution imager. Notice the sky colour changes as the bird moves from being front-lit to back-lit flying into the light.