Whither photography?

Bad photo of the moon. The white dot on the right is Venus.

Premise: a desire to replace the ailing Nikon P610.

Solution: purchase a long telephoto lens for the Canon T100.

Selection: Sigma 150-600mm.

Problem: Many.

Let’s start with the price. It’s over $1,000, all said and done. That’s a lot of money to me. In fact if I had $100,000,000 I’d still think $1,000 is a lot of money – because I’m a cheapskate. Er, frugal.

Well recently it’s been “on sale” in the off-and-on method of modern con artistry. I mean merchandising. Yeah, that’s it; merchandising. Not con artistry. In any case the “sale” has amounted to a whopping 9% off regular price. Nine percent. Not even ten. This is with the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Holiday Season sales allegedly trying to lure people to buy with low, low prices. I laugh scornfully at their pathetic attempts. The lens is 20% too expensive to begin with, and 9% off is just a joke. Our sales tax is 12% here.

Then there’s the “other thing”.

My last eye exam included such terms as “cataracts”, “glaucoma”, and “epiretinal membrane”. All of which can be treated to varying degrees of success, but with no guaranteed results for any. And underneath it all I still have the re-attached retina and cloudy aqueous humor complete with floaters. In other words the best that can be offered is not going blind rapidly. Definitely not any hope of return to fine vision. Now for most people this would not be an issue, but for a photographer … seeing the fine details is essential. I’m sure some of you have noticed the decline in quality of my work since The Last Picture? Instead of nine out of ten images being good, it’s one out of ten being acceptable.

Given those circumstances one has to wonder about the practicality of investing in any more photographic equipment of any type at any price.

Not-so-bad picture of the moon.

Canon 1Ds and 50mm f1.8

Since I got the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens I’ve had a few opportunities to shoot with it. My initial experiments showed it worked better on the full frame 1Ds than on the crop sensor T100 so … Here are a few pictures taken with the big (and heavy) camera.

Opening with the lake lagoon.
Summer is over.
Maybe the moon.
Taken after dark, when the 1Ds shines.
What the full frame, 11 MP camera is best at (although this lens isn’t a good choice for).
Closing with the lake lagoon.

It’s an okay lens, but the 1Ds deserves better. Now that the hectic season has passed I may do some more astro photography with the Takumar lenses. Although I did notice that setting up for that has become more difficult with the eyesight trouble.

What’s going on around here.

Morning comes late these days.

The days are quickly getting shorter. We’ve been having weird Summertime warmth after our two killing frosts, which helps with the wood harvesting. I’m almost done. (I’m always almost done, no matter what it is I’m doing.)

When things go wrong, it slows things down.

Now that is what happens to a chain when the tree decides to fall the wrong way and traps the saw. I have noticed that my diminished eyesight has made ‘reading’ trees rather difficult, which increases the fun of felling. And the danger. It’s bad enough that I’m having to go ‘into the forest’ to get trees, which requires cutting a path through to get at the trees and get them out. Then clearing the path again as each and every log (section of tree) decides to hang up on something, despite the last length having been dragged through. I’m struggling more with getting the bits out than with the actual slicing and loading.

His hand, ‘relaxed’.

And I have plenty of other problems as it is.

The truck is performing the same as before. The engine works well, the seats are nice, I can haul more wood per trip – and it’s a right pain otherwise. The trailer is holding up too. I’ve got about two more loads to go. I hope. I’m rushing back out Thursday to try and get one more (I’ve got some logs on the ground there already) before the holiday Monday, when it’s supposed to rain. Or snow. Yes, snow. We have been threatened with the first fall of flakes. It won’t amount to anything or stay, but … signs of things to come.

Foggy every morning. At the start of the day you can’t even see the lake from the shore.

Soon it will be time to shut down the whole place. I haven’t done much photography of late because there’s not much to take pictures of. The wildlife has wandered away save a few birds and squirrels and three (now dead) packrats. This is the last interesting animal I’ve seen:

Young mule deer buck.

This may change, but until then here’s another picture of the moon:

I like the moon. (Nikon P610 @ 1440mm handheld.)

And as the sun sets rapidly in the West …

Another day, and another post, ends.

This week in pictures

It’s been a strange week, and really a bit more than a week since my last post. So here’s what’s been going on.

First up, I had an expedited doctor visit owing to the last pain episode. He wasn’t happy with the symptoms or his exam results, so this was followed by some expedited testing and expedited scheduling of more testing. None of it has found anything yet, but the procedures are wreaking havoc with scheduling any other activities. But I have got  few things done during a couple brief cabin stays.

The second kitchen lamp. It’s a wonder it worked at all. It’s a wonder it didn’t go up in flames.

Yeah I feel like that socket looks. Those little grey-green strands are supposed to be shiny copper, and inside some insulation.

The bathroom is finished! (Probably)

I got the sink installed and working, and refinished the door. The bathroom is now done (as far as I’m concerned; I’ll probably hear otherwise). In fact, there are exactly three more “mechanical” things to do on the whole cabin. Three! After that everything is cosmetic. Of course there’s a lot of that cosmetic stuff.

Lonely kayak.

Our Jane came up with her crew. In a fine case of “hello and goodbye” they arrived the day I had to go back to town to deal with two days of medical stuff and they go home a day before I can return with grandma. Not exactly how we’d like to do it. Of course currently the main highway back to the south is closed because of a landslide so … there may be some delay.

Alongside the long road.

Spotted this on the route to Williams Lake when I went for the first testing. Picture taken with the Canon G11, which is a nice take-along camera. It’s not as small as my little Fuji, but the optical finder gives it an edge for practicality.

The air conditioner quit working in this heat we’ve been having. Buy a new one? Ah ha ha ha! Maybe by November. Despite knowing how they work, I can’t fix it even if parts were available because I lack the specialized tools for refrigeration servicing. Anyway it’s only about 20 years old. Want to bet how long a new one would last? Right.

With no definite schedule for the next test (one which requires a trip to the big city, overnight stay, and leaving the animals in someone’s care) we ponder whether to haul everyone out to the cabin or not. It’d be just my luck that we’d get out there and have to turn around and come back. On the other hand if we hang about here the test won’t be scheduled until December. You can bet on that.

I will make preparations anyway.

Taken with the Canon 1Ds.

The computer at least is working well, although I’m not happy with the changes that have been made to GIMP: the new “features” don’t add any functionality and the interface change is unwelcome as it is more difficult to see and to use. I also admit to being leery of updates as it seems they tend to bring change but not necessarily improvement.

Many things change. As Jean-Baptiste Karr said: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”. We just don’t know what the actual results will be. C’est la vie.

Problems: 610

There are so many problems in my life right now that not only am I unable to keep track of them I can’t keep on top or ahead of them. Problems, problems everywhere and not a drop to drink. See? I can’t even find humour now. Well when a $3 box of cereal costs $7 and 5 lbs. of potatoes is $6 and … well that’s just part of it.

Even Duncan dog has problems.

For the sake of your sanity if not mine, let’s just look at one problem: my Nikon P610. It’s still my main ‘go to’ camera, but it is going. Lately the zoom has begun stopping/starting instead of running smoothly. One day the whole thing locked up with no response from any control, including turning it off. I had to remove the battery to ‘reboot’ it. It has become unreliable. Regrettably it is also irreplaceable.

Camera says this shot is 3 stops overexposed.
Camera says this shot is correct.

Yes I realize that is a snow scene and thus needs more exposure (I’ve only been doing this 50+ years so don’t mind me). It’s just that in addition to needing every shot tweaked on contrast it has now begun to habitually underexpose everything, regardless of reflectivity.

Nice effect but not what I was shooting.

I have other cameras, but none of them can do what the Nikon could. Namely this:

The moon in its tower.

So there’s that to contend with, alongside worsening eyesight. I know: I’ve been told to go see the doctor but I already know the results of such a visit because he told me the last time; there’s nothing can be done.

At least the dog got out.

All things considered, I hardly notice the toe I broke last week. Yes, really. Trying to walk on this nightmare of ice that is renewed daily … well see what trouble Duncan got himself into? Yeah, like that.

Something good happening for a change would be nice. About as likely as a chocolate tea kettle, but nice.

Leftovers served cold

There’s a kind of tradition where at the end of the old year and/or start of the new one people clean up around the house thoroughly. Everything gone through, all the garbage disposed of. That sort of thing. As close as I come to that is posting these few ‘leftover’ photos from the Pentax tryout of the old lenses. I can’t remember which lenses were used in the photos and can’t find where I made the notes. Maybe I tossed that.

Strange sky.
Thin gold line.
Moon. (I suspect this is with the 200mm Cunor.)
Calendar shot. (Probably the 24mm Vivitar.)
Colour version.
Monochrome version.

There is much other news, but none of it is good and I won’t relate it at this time. There’s already too much bad news all around.

May the fourth

I’m not a big Star Wars fan but …

That’s not a moon.

Slowly getting ready to head out to the cabin at last. Much to do, including getting my arm jabbed (also at last). I’m told the road is in deplorable condition, which is not surprising.

By the light of the super pink moon

Thanks to overdoing it, I was up after midnight on Monday (technically Tuesday, then) when the moon was full. Supposedly a ‘super’ moon and the ‘pink’ moon, but really the moon is the moon, whether April or June.

So I took some pictures with the Canon 1Ds. ISO 1250, 8 second exposure, f1.4 (except on the direct moon image where I stopped down to f16) with the 50mm Super Takumar. Post-processing to reduce exposure as it was all a bit bright (the 1Ds screen is useless for previewing images) and unsharp masking to enhance detail. And of course reducing to “Internet size”.

Looks like daylight, doesn’t it? The white blobs in the sky are stars.
See? Stars.
Tree and stars.
Stars and tree.
Stars and bare branches.
That ol’ devil moon.

There are three things that would make this a better nighttime camera: 1). higher ISO ability; 2). higher resolution sensor; 3). better LCD screen for previewing. All of these are available on more modern cameras, but at 10X what I paid for this one!

I don’t like getting up in the middle of the night so I’m not likely to do more star pics for now. Unless I find I am up at night anyway. Still waiting for the road to be clear enough to get to the cabin so I can try this camera on some landscape shots. On the whole I like it, but it’s not a “first choice” device. Great with set-up shots and the manual lenses, though.

1 Dark sky

Further night experiments with the Canon 1 Dark sky. (Okay, you see what I did there.)

Changes from the last experiment including switching to the 50mm f1.4 Super Takumar lens and reducing exposure time to 10 seconds from 30. Note that you can tell if your exposure time is too long by looking at the stars in the picture close up: they will be elongated by the motion of the planet if the shutter is open too long. As a rule 20 seconds is the maximum to avoid this, but it depends on where you are and what you are trying to achieve. I found the star traces were about 3X as long as they were wide, hence cutting the exposure time to 1/3.

Although an interesting look, this image shows that the moon is a lot brighter than the stars.
I question the value of getting up at 11:00 PM to make photos like this.
It’s easier to do this in Winter around here, when the sun sets by 6:00 PM.
Despite very good noise reduction, some of the ‘stars’ are still actually noise.
This one I’m sure you’ll recognize.
The two moons of my world.

One of the hindrances of this experiment is the small (64MB) CF card I have: half a dozen pictures and the card is full! I’m shooting at Hi-res JPEG of course because I’m after pinpoints of light. I hate to think what RAW would allow me. Probably three pics. Fortunately the 8GB CF card I ordered has arrived, which will allow me to take more shots all at once with varied settings to see what ones work best. Providing I can convince myself to get up in the dark again.