Square on

A few ‘incidental’ photos that came about while shooting with various cameras. The common denominator here is that they all looked better cropped square.

Bear out the window. (Nikon P610)

Young Pacific wren. Blurry because it was in the dark bush of the woods. (Nikon P610)

Yellow on yellow. Blurry because the Tamron lens isn’t that sharp. (Canon T100)

Dotted butterfly. (Pentax K100D)

Bee there in the square. (Olympus E-410)

Featuring yellow today I guess. (Olympus E-410)

The good news is we’ve had more rain and the fires are taking a beating from it, although it’s smoky today. Not long ’til September and the next thing you know …

Re-learning curve: Pentax K100D Super

Things I like about this camera:

1). It was really cheap to buy (although most offerings of it aren’t).

2). CCD sensor. You want “film quality” images? Can’t beat the CCD sensors.

3). Uses standard ‘AA’ penlight batteries. Nothing special or expensive about powering it.

4). Pentax K lens mount. That’s a vast array of available lenses. I also have the M42 – PK adapter so I can use my classic Takumars.

5). Good control arrangements, easy to set up and use.

Things I don’t like about this camera:

1). It was used in an archaeological dig. As a shovel. This explains the price, and why I am continually cleaning it. The lens has significant coating damage on the front and I keep getting shadows on the images because more dirt is rattling around inside. It’s easier to re-touch the photos.

2). CCD sensor is only 6MP, making digital zooming an impossible dream.

3). Uses standard ‘AA’ penlight batteries which are more expensive to continually replace than just recharging a lithium set. I could buy rechargeable penlights, but that would be substantial capital outlay.

4). Pentax K lens mount limits adapting of other lenses because it is small. Fitting the M42 lenses is even tricky because the K mount is just a bayonet incarnation of the screw mount so the adapter is thin, fragile, and not always easy to get in place.

5). The shutter button focus has failed, causing some significant problems for me because I can’t tell if the image is focused and forget to push the ‘wrong’ button.

6). In addition to the internal and external dirt problems, some of the silver has come off the pentamirror so the viewfinder presents black splotches. My eyes have their own black splotches now, thank you, and I don’t need to see any more.

The ultimate question is: how well does this camera fit with my current photographic plans? This we evaluate on a basis of two criteria: usage and results. Usage … well you’ve seen the clues above. The viewfinder issue is more than a little vexing, and the back-button focus requirement has resulted in far too many out-of-focus images. Add to that the lack of digital zooming ability due to the low resolution sensor and subtract the fact I can adapt the Takumars to one of the Canons (and more easily) and you see it fails for usage.

Now what about results? As with all the equipment under my “new” eyesight, the percentage of “good” to “bad” pictures is disappointing. For the other cameras this has been a matter of me re-learning. In the case of the Pentax the camera itself presents faults which can not be overcome. It would be better if this were an excellent example of a K100D (without the silver loss and focus problem), but it isn’t. I could replace the lens, but should I bother?

Let’s look at the pictures:

Rusty rhubarb.

Lavender weed.

Typical sky shot.

Suddenly a raven. I fired off half a dozen shots trying to get this bird in frame and in focus!

Pale moth. (Notice the lack of sharpness due to the lens.)

A look at the lake.

Over-all I’d say the results are good, maybe only fair. Changing the lens helps (I have another series coming re that), but nothing can be done about the 6MP limitation on getting closer after the shot was made.

This is a camera I should sell. The question mark hanging over that is: would anyone buy it? If not, I have no problem keeping it. It doesn’t take up much space and is unlikely to get any worse from sitting unused.

Close up with the Nikon P610

About five weeks into the healing time for my eyesight. It is definitely better, but also definitely blurred. What is more, my ability to pick things out has decreased noticeably. For example I can see large/distinct objects near or far. I can see small objects up close. But spotting small objects that are not near, such as a song sparrow in a pine tree, is no longer possible. Since I like taking pictures of birds and they are often small and in trees this is something of a disadvantage. I have nabbed a few shots, all less than perfect, by virtue of triangulating on sound and spotting movement then pointing in the general direction and hoping the bird is somewhere in frame. All too often it isn’t.

So I am re-learning photography or learning to do it differently or learning to do different photography or all three and possibly more.

In this episode I’m exploring the fact that using a camera only one way is a mistake, so here I’m trying some close up shots. This not only exercises my ‘spotting ability’ but also my ‘in-focus guessing’ as well as ‘composition assumptions’ and even ‘exposure estimating’. These even though the camera automatically picks focus and exposure, albeit not always correctly as the Nikon has problems of its own.

Devil’s paintbrush. Reasonably sharp?

Black berry. I just like the tonal qualities.

Bubbles! (Lake froth.)

Young lingcod (aka burbot) sunning itself for some reason.

Spotted berries. No idea what they are.

Bumble bee on a thistle. This should be a demonstration of lens resolution.

I think I’m improving on most areas, except focus/sharpness. I simply can not tell even in the final image if things are a sharp as they should be. Whether there’s going to be further improvement in that area I don’t know.

Currently I’m toying with the idea of changing my camera arsenal. The lens is the thing, right? So instead of having four DSLRs and five lens systems, why not one camera with adapters as necessary to attache whatever best lenses I want? That way there’s only one set of controls to use and even though they’d mostly have to be operated manually – well I do that anyway. More on this plan later.

The best news of late is that we had some rain. Enough to make a difference on some of the fires including downgrading a couple and lifting some evac alerts/orders. But it is far from over and the weather is headed for hot and dry again.

How hot was it?

We are currently experiencing a historically unprecedented heatwave here in BC. Records are being set daily, including Lytton giving Canada a new all-time high of 49.5C/121F. Here at the cabin we’ve hit 41, which is the hottest it’s ever been here. The heat is supposed to break tomorrow, with thunderstorms. This brings up another problem: lightning. We already have two large, out-of-control wildfires burning not too far away. The smoke cast a haze in the air here this morning. Welcome to Hell.

In fact I’ve only been able to work a couple of hours in the morning before it gets too hot to do anything. I’ve not been going out unless absolutely necessary, and we don’t even let the dogs stay out for long. It’s a case of “just get through this”.

Some bad news: two of our cats have gone missing and the outlook for them is not good. There is water and prey out there if they can find it, but …

MIA: Hannibal, aka Puff-puff.

MIA: Boots, aka Twinkle-toes.

Few photos being taken, due to the heat. But here are a few.

Queen of the Hill (look close).

Robin on the nest.

New flower. I don’t know what it is; never seen one before.

Robin’s egg blue. I quite like this pic.

Beyond the immediate area many things are happening. BC’s state of emergency will finally be lifted July 1, and many rules relaxed including mandatory mask requirements. I will wait until my 2nd shot (on Friday) has had time to take effect before I doff the N95. Unless I have to keep wearing it against wildfire smoke. *sigh* I’m used to that.

Something for Sunday

I just read something very funny: “35mm is the only lens you’ll ever need”.

Sure, if you have an extremely limited photographic repertoire and don’t care to explore possibilities. Any way you look at it, that is a seriously idiotic statement.

Anyway it’s a pretty nice day and I’ve got some work planned so here’s some photos snapped with the easy-to-take-along Fuji F80 EXR. Enjoy.

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The new deck being built by the Comedy Team of Chris & Chris.

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The Fuji F80 EXR camera is not meant for close-ups!

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The wood stove in place at last, but not yet finished.

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The Fuji automatically shifts into close-focus mode. Don’t you wish your DSLR did that?

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Who to blame? The person who reefed on the knob or the company that thought plastic is sturdy?

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The moon on a stick; that’s how it stays in the sky.

 

 

Pairs of pictures

It didn’t rain Tuesday (until after nightfall). So I ‘stole’ fifteen minutes of the day and walked around the woods. It confirmed my suspicion that some of the loud noises heard during the storms were trees giving up and going over.

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Half fallen

This poplar broke about 20 feet off the ground and then the top got hung up in some other trees as it went down. Poplars often rot inside and are very unstable in that respect, so taking it down the rest of the way will be left to Mother Nature. Right now it spans the lane that goes over to the neighbours’, so I’m not worried about it.

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Fallen fir

This old fir tree had a lot of fungal growth on it so it’s not surprising it came down. The surprising part is that it fell away from the road, not on to it. The bare patch in the lower right corner is the road.

Here’s another “why I like my Nikon” series:

The first image is a 100% crop of the second. For an inexpensive ‘bridge’ camera the old P610 really excels. The bad part? This was the third attempt to get it to take the picture. It is fraught with failed focusing and incorrect exposures. I still use it a lot because I like the camera so much, but the reality is it has gone from “90% success rate” to “33% success rate” and I suspect it will get worse before it quits altogether.

Dog toothed violet is neither dog nor toothed nor violet, but they are pretty flowers:

These are the same picture. The first is “as-is”, right out of the forest. The second I used the white balance adjustment in GIMP to alter the background colour to a more pleasant blue. It didn’t alter the flower itself much at all.

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Wood stove base

There’s the start of it. It looks simple until you try to build it. Especially the part where you have to compensate for the floor slanting 1 ΒΌ” over 45″ while expecting it to handle 400 lbs. of stove. Good thing I’m an engineer. This will be topped with 2x to spread the load out and then tiled to make it fire resistant.

It’s Wednesday as I write this. I’ve driven back to town for more supplies and to mow the lawn at home. Busy, busy. Oh they graded the infamous road out to the 23 km mark. Some of it is even flat. That would be the parts that were already flat before. The old potholes simply reappear with every rain shower. Guess what’s in the forecast?

It’s now Thursday. Yesterday was overly busy. Time to publish this. The sky is overcast again. It’s going to rain.

Film Finis

In one of the unusual circumstances that are so usual in my life, I came across the prints of the last roll of film I ever shot. I know it must be the last because the images start at the old house, ‘visit’ the cabin, and finish at the ‘new’ home, meaning they were taken in the time period of 2009-2010. Yes, the film sat in the camera for almost a year. No doubt something to do with someone having an automobile accident and breaking her back, resulting in a lot of confusion and changes to our lives.

Anyway, I scanned the images such as they were and worked them a bit because the prints had faded in the ensuing 10 years despite being kept in the dark. Possibly not the best photo finishing service either; the prints are a bit grainy. But the camera they were taken with was the Pentax Spotmatic and its Super Takumar lenses shine out.

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Our Friend Peter

Taken at the old house, the kind of picture I don’t usually take: a people shot. He doesn’t look amused, but really he had a great sense of humour. You can see the usual chaos of my over-active life all around him. The vehicle to the left is the gray ’98 4Runner that would end up on its roof in October with Brenda trapped inside.

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The Stony Shore

Here we are at the lake, then. The terror of the future yet to be revealed. This is not the sharpest picture I’ve ever taken of that lake. It might have been hazy that day or … well who knows. No sense speculating about it, really, as it’s past.

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Denim Pine

The pine bark beetle epidemic was in full swing then. This shows the end of a pine log cut, with the characteristic blueish staining cause by the tree trying to defend itself against the beetles. This would have been cabin fire wood, as we didn’t heat our main residence with wood until we bought the ‘new’ place.

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Daisy Bug

Even then I liked to take pictures of bugs on flowers. The newer cameras have better macro ability, I must say. Even so, not a bad effort.

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Sun on the Water

A decidedly artistic shot. The vignetting is on purpose, the rampant chroma is not. Therein lies one of the faults with film: you don’t really know what you’ve got until the prints are done. With digital, I could look at this in a second and try a different approach – or even afford to take the shot several different ways right off the bat.

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The Clearing

This is one side of the property of the ‘new’ place as it appeared in the Spring after we bought it. The stumps everywhere were infected pine trees that had been cut down and sliced up for firewood. Yes, the house came with the first two years’ heating free, so to speak. I would reproduce the shot as it appears now, only I’d have to trudge through 10″ of hard packed snow and I don’t fancy breaking an ankle.

As I glance over these I wonder about the thousands of images I have taken which have simply disappeared to who-knows-where, never to be seen again. I also wonder about how well digital images might be preserved in their magnetic form. I know I’ve already lost a few to hard drive failure, and since have taken extra measures to back up anything I feel is really worthwhile.

Even so, I will stick with digital. It’s certainly cheaper than film these days, and easier to manipulate. Plus there is the added advantage of not being ‘stuck with one type of film for a whole roll’. If you load your camera with Kodachrome 64, you must shoot the whole roll before changing film types – or spring for numerous cameras to handle different films. With digital, you can alter ISO, colour intensity, even ratio and resolution from one shot to the next if you so desire. Personally I try to go for a “base universal setting” which not only produces the kind of results I like right out of the camera most of the time, but also allows me a lot of latitude to post-process into different forms if I feel a particular shot needs the change.