If only it were Springtime

Of course 19°C (66°F) is pretty Spring-like, but watching the satellite picture says there’s still snow out at the lake. The forecast says no lows below freezing now, so perhaps another week …

In the meantime I have started working around here as there are a few things to deal with. That’s why I moved 600 lbs. of stored papers out of one shed and into another; so I can get at other stuff and perhaps make enough room to complete the modifications the local Mafia, er government, wants to a shed that has been standing for years without incident. I am and engineer you know. Bureaucrats need to prove they have power over everyone, though.

Papers away! (G11)

All that off to one side, I tried out the Canon 1Ds on some night shots and need to do some tweaks before I take more. First of all, the 64MB CF card is horrible for hi-res as it only holds <10 pictures. Can’t do much experimenting with that. Second, the camera’s maximum ISO of 1250 is real but pretty low for star shots. That can’t be helped, so either I take ‘trace’ shots (30 second exposures are about 3X too long to prevent this) or do lots of enhancing post-shoot. I need to try it with the 50mm f1.4 lens I was using the 35mm f2 because that’s what was on it when I woke up in the night and decided to try. It’s one more stop of exposure anyway. I can see where a real ISO of 3200-6400 would be of great use here, but the camera hasn’t got it. At least it does a good job at the speed it has, and the ‘noise reduction’ (second image method) is more effective than with any other camera I have. The biggest problem is that it’s not really dark until 10:00 PM now, so night photos interfere with my sleeping habits.

Nighttime is little light time. (1Ds)

Many other things are going on around here right now, some of it rather stressful. Vaccine? Nope. Surgery? Ha! Our hospitals are full-up with COVID patients (cases are out of control and the government isn’t even trying to stop the spread now) so that’s not happening. I need to get equipment ready for this year too (including fixing the trailer), and … well just all sorts of things.

In storage. (G11)

I had fun doing the IR photos and still have some more experiments to conduct with the 1Ds but they will have to wait for now. I have even toyed with the idea of selling it and everything else I’ve got to go for a 5D, but I suspect my equipment wouldn’t bring enough to cover the cost. C’est la vie photographique!

Ghost plane. (P610)

I’m still using the Nikon P610 a lot, and it is still malfunctioning. But it hasn’t quit completely. Yet. Which is good because I can’t afford to replace it. I still want to shoot more with the G11 and now that the weather is better I should be able to. Previously every time I’d go to town it was so miserable and cold that taking pictures was right off the list.

What a week.

Where was I? Wednesday. Well it doesn’t matter. The week continued to be awful. Temperatures didn’t quite hit -40, the point where Fahrenheit and Celsius meet, but they came close. It has been so relentlessly cold that there have been problems.

For one thing, the logging trucks were having trouble. Very cold, dense air messes with a diesel’s ability to produce full horsepower. I shan’t bother with the engineering lecture, just suffice to say they were struggling with their loads. I crawled into town behind a couple of them that couldn’t make any speed. Some of them gave up and limped home. Repeated running in these conditions can cause damage, in fact. It’s hard enough on gas engines, worse on diesels.

A running logging truck.

Or electric motors. Jojo now has a dashboard full of warning lights ablaze, the least of which is reporting that the tire pressures are all well below minimum thanks to the cold shrinking the air inside them. That can be fixed with warmer air and a compressor. I’m more worried about the “!” light and the engine symbol being lit. I suppose I’ll have to try a code scan and see what turns up. Not certain it will work on the hybrid, though; that probably requires a special scanner especially as you’re not supposed to start the engine when scanning and Jojo starts when she wants to.

Toyota wisely is not jumping on the “All-Electric” bandwagon. They recognize that some people live in places where battery power alone is not sufficient. People like me. Turning on Jojo just two days after the last run in this arctic cold reveals her main battery depleted significantly just because of the temperature drop. Now imagine if the only power source to draw from was that. Oh it might be fine while the weather was above zero (Fahrenheit – it’s a better scale. Accept that as fact and move on.) Or if you could plug it in like the newer designs and pre-charge/warm it. Or if you didn’t have far to go; there are no electrics now that would make it from here to Kamloops and back on a single charge, and that’s in Summer. Of course as a battery ages its performance will fall off even more. This is a matter of physics, and there’s no getting around it. The horrible fact is that fossil fuels have high energy density and can be easily transfered in large quantities in a short time. Try shoving the equivalent amount of electrical power through wires that fast and you’ll have a cord glowing like a stove element. BTW, that’s energy wasted; the faster the charge rate the more energy goes to heat instead of work.

Glistening ice.

Along with this fun we have the arrival of the lens adapter I’ve been waiting for since early January. Too bad it’s A). broken and B). not the right thing. You can add C). not worth trying to return and D). a waste of money I didn’t need to lose. I’ve ordered a different one, new, from a different place. But really I’m not spending more on the Mystery Camera as the results have been too disappointing.

The message is snow.

The bookcases showed up. What bookcases? Oh we got some that our Jane found for free and then the ladies worked out how to get them transported from there to here. For once it’s actually something we can use, as having got some of the cabin stuff out of the house there’s room for these to be put up and loaded with books which currently occupy cardboard boxes. We’ve lived here eleven years and haven’t finished unpacking yet. I kid you not. Shows how much we don’t really need that stuff, eh? Oh I have to assemble these bookcases. Fine. I like a project. They’re used and there are no instructions, but that isn’t much of an issue for me. I just hope they’re complete.

One medium-size dog, one extra-large size cat.

What else? Well not many pictures being taken in this miserable cold. Not much of anything going on. No vaccines, although they told us the doses will be four times as many next week. Big deal. Zero multiplied by any number is still zero. Prince Charmless is now trying to beg them from India. How anyone can be such an absolute failure as he is I don’t know. Perhaps he’s a graduate of Trump University, with a Mistress’s degree in Drama.

Blurry at infinity.

One last thing. Today’s pictures were taken with the Mystery Camera. You can probably see the blurriness to the images and the spots on the sensor, but I fixed most of the exposure faults and colour inaccuracies. Not a camera I want to invest more in, which is a shame because were it a good edition it would be quite nice. I think this one was used on an archaeological dig. As a shovel.

I bought myself a toy.

Seeing out the year

While most people are engaged in reviewing the past year and reiterating how awful it was or trying to pretend it really wasn’t that awful, I’m going to be different as usual and just go forward with some more new pictures instead. (And my late brother the English major would give me an award for constructing such a wonderfully awful run-on sentence as that one.)

The camera is, of course, the new-to-me “Zen Canon” PowerShot G11. Truly a fine quality device which I’m still ‘experimenting’ with. I would have taken more street shots when I went to town Tuesday, but it was all of -10˚C and also totally overcast – so no good for taking pictures or even being outside. Instead I had to sneak some shots in whenever I could to come up with the latest batch.

Lens testing. Wide-angle and close up, full automatic. The result is excellent.
A couple of the resident ravens.
Glacé. This is a segment of a shot which contains many potential images. I liked this bit best.

This camera looks and works like an old but automatic 35mm rangefinder. It has lots of controls on it, most of which I’ve tried and now ignore. For functioning on ‘automatic’ the G11 is second-to-none. I rarely even flip the LCD out and make use of that, much less dive into the menus and change settings. It’s like … using a film camera. So are the results.

It’s all about colour tonal range: CCD sensors!
Although not ideally suited to such extreme photography, the G11 performs well in skilled hands.
And away we go!

As you can see the G11 does a fine job as an ‘artistic’ camera, even though that’s not why I bought it. This is what the infamous ZS-60 was supposed to be capable of. Aside from the extreme difference in zoom capacity, the Canon is absolutely superior in every way to the Panasonic. Never mind the difference in price. The bargain PowerShot makes up for the waste-of-money Lumix. I’ll just pretend the prices were the other way around; that would make the cameras fit their costs. (For those who can’t follow my convoluted reasoning, I paid $12 for the used Canon PowerShot G11 and $300 for the brand new Panasonic Lumix ZS-60. In terms of performance the value is completely the other way around.)

Footnote: there is an optional ‘lens adapter’ for these cameras which twists on around the lens once you remove the protective base ring. It is a tube that sticks out and has a 58mm thread in front of the extended lens. To it you can affix filters or ‘accessory’ wide-tele lenses. The cheapest one I’ve located so far is 3X the price I paid for the camera. I don’t really think it would add much to the functionality so I won’t bother with the expense. Besides those add-on-to-the-front lenses don’t work very well, since the base lens was never designed to have the extra element stuck in front of it. A thin filter is one thing; a thick chunk of glass is quite another.

Always darkest

We’ve actually been picking up minutes of daylight now that the Earth is moving away from the Winter Solstice. You’re forgiven if you haven noticed. Around here it’s a tad hard to, what with the clouds and the mountains. Our sunrise is actually 45 minutes after the official time and sunset about half an hour before, thanks to the topography.

Anyway, some more shots done with the G11. In B&W. Not shot in B&W, as I tried that and didn’t like it. Most digital cameras don’t do a good job in monochrome.

This is not a nighttime camera.
Ice is everywhere.
Really everywhere.
Snow is everywhere else.
Lonely junco.
Jet’s go! (Heavily modified.)

Bleak week

The weather promises to be truly awful all week. I got in a day of wood harvest and shutting down the water system at the cabin. In light of the forecast, here’s some images in black and white – which is how it will look the next few days.

Raven on the wing. (Canon T100)

Northern flicker. (Fuji EXR)

Plane in flight. (Kodak P850)

Moon, of course. (Nikon P610)

Layers of trees. (Panasonic Lumix ZS60)

Ghost dog. (Tesco trail camera)

Tamron toy

I’m not very self-indulgent. I don’t spend a lot of money on my photography. This is just as well considering the results. It seems when I do fork over the big bucks the results are disappointing, and when I purchase something for mere pocket change it’s much more rewarding. Sort of the opposite of what should be expected.

When I bought the latest indulgence I truly believed it would be an asset. For one thing, Tamron is a venerable name in lenses. For another the specs seemed good, especially the wide focal length range which gets around the need to lens-swap on the Canon at 55mm. That was annoying.

On the downside, the lens lists for crazy money and there is apparently no support from Tamron in this country; the equipment is considered “gray market” and if something goes wrong they won’t fix it even at your expense. Not encouraging.

So when I came across a used one for half price I figured it was worth a shot. Short form: nope, it wasn’t.

Pros: short, light weight, easy to handle with a good zoom range of 18-200mm.

Cons: slow to focus, poor low-light focus performance, and it’s not very sharp.

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Small fry with the Tamron. It’s blurry, no matter how you slice it.
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Small fry with the Canon 55-250mm. Significantly sharper.
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Small fry with the Nikon P610. Makes the Canon lens look poor and the Tamron look awful.
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Tamron at full 200mm. Significant and inconsistent vignetting. Also the shorter focal length makes one yearn for the ‘missing’ 50mm.

So what is the lens good for? Anything? Well it’s not bad for average picture taking of general scenes.

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When sharpness isn’t important, it’s fine.
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Female common merganser and her brood, watching the sunset. This would have been much better with the Canon lens, but there was no time to swap (why I like the vast range of the Nikon).
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The sunset they were watching.

For the record, I’ve made three photographic purchases in the past two years which I regret: the Nikon W100, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60, and this Tamron 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 Di II VC. They all could have been great, but disappointed for the same reason: lack of sharpness in the lens.

I am now loath to make any more purchases at all, for any amount of money. It’s a shame too because I think I found a replacement for the ailing Nikon P610: a Sony DSC-HX300/B for <$300. Other options are well over that (like a used P610 for more than mine cost new). I’m not keen on buying any more lenses for the Canon either, as it seems ‘affordable’ is a synonym for ‘low quality’. It would be worse if I shelled out for the top dollar glass and was still disappointed.

I’m not trusting new equipment right now.

 

Look! Up in the sky!

It’s strange because our airports are basically shut down, yet I keep seeing jets overhead.

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Fed Ex
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Atlas Air

When I’m at the cabin the view overhead is a bit different:

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Bald Eagle

Of course we get water traffic as well:

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Common Loon

In the woods you can hear lots of birds, but you usually can’t see them. Here’s one I did see:

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American Robin

I got some work done while I was there, but didn’t quite finish the job. Oh well, at least the scenery is nice:

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Oh, just some pictures

I haven’t been shooting much lately, as I’ve been working on other things.

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Oregon Junco on post
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Picture puzzle photo
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I like moon shots
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Morning – for once I don’t mind the intrusion of the wires
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Nice colour
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One of the ravens
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That’s not a bird
ribbon
The Nexus is real

Cameras used: Nikon P610 & Canon T100 (55-250mm lens).

3 from camera ‘A’, 3 from camera ‘B’

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Raven in flight

I like the way the feather motion is a blur at the edges.

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I’m on fire

This is about the light, not the composition. I couldn’t due much with the composition.

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Spring robin

The light is finally getting to where I can get colour on these birds and I’m not always shooting silhouettes.

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Reflect

The melt water makes for some temporary opportunities.

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Metal bird

Amazing how many jets pass over here given the extreme drop in air traffic.

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Marley the dog

For once not being a goofball. Usually if the camera is out she is hamming it up.

Cameras used: Nikon P610 and Lumix ZS60.