A Jim of All Trades

Posts Tagged ‘Pentax K-r

Big Moon

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In case you haven’t heard (or seen), January 31st was a Super Blue Blood Moon. Summarizing from the link, this means:

  1. The Moon was closer to earth in its orbit (looks bigger) and brighter than normal; a “Super Moon”
  2. It was the second full Moon in the month, making it a “Blue Moon”
  3. Due to a lunar eclipse, the Moon had a reddish tint while in Earth’s shadow, hence “Blood Moon”

With all this happening, I wanted to try to photograph it, but unfortunately was busy on that night and didn’t get a chance to get out, then the next night it was very cloudy and I couldn’t even see the moon. Friday night, the sky finally cleared up and I got to see it. Of course it was no longer full, and the eclipse had already happened so there was no reddish tint, but the Moon was still closer than normal and looked big in the sky.

I set up my camera with my new lens on a tripod and took some shots… It took a lot of experimenting until I got the settings right, but in the end I was pleased with the results.

This was zoomed all the way to 300, and I didn’t photoshop it aside from cropping it down, making it smaller for posting, and adding back a bit of lost sharpness from re-sizing. For what it is, I think the lens did well, and I’m feeling good about my decision to get it. Also, the moon is cool! (well, cool looking from earth, anyway… I don’t think I’d actually want to go there)

Thanks a lot for looking and happy shooting!

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Written by Jim

February 4, 2018 at 1:27 pm

A New Camera Lens

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About two weeks ago I picked up a new camera lens and, though I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to use it, I wanted to post about it.

The lens is a Tamron AF 28-300mm F3.5-6.3 LD Aspherical IF Marco.

To simplify that a bit, it’s an auto focus zoom lens that has a fairly broad zoom range, meaning it can be used for taking pictures of things both fairly close and far away. This is an older film lens that’s still compatible with digital Pentax SLRs, the model was introduced around 1999 but I don’t know how old this specific one is. The longest zoom lens I had before is a 70-210mm so, though it’s very good lens, it doesn’t quite have the reach for shooting things further away, nor is it good for closer work. Aside from that I only have the standard 18-55mm kit lens (again, a decent lens, but no zoom at all really) and some prime (non-zoom) manual focus lenses, so I was wanting something auto focus that had more reach to it.  

I haven’t had much time to use it yet but here are some pics from just walking around testing it out one day. The only editing I’ve done to these is re-sizing them and sharpening them a bit to add back detail from the sizing, otherwise I haven’t made any corrections, or changed color, contrast, etc. These are all hand held shots as well, and it was very cold and windy when I was out (temperature in the 20’s (-4 Celsius, roughly) with 20 mph wind gusts!) so I’m sure there was a fair amount of shaking going on … not my finest work. My impressions of it and final thoughts are at the very end.

My thoughts so far:
I like it, but do have some mixed feelings as well… I love the versatility the range provides and think this will be an excellent lens for walking around with, but it is not incredibly sharp (I really like a sharp lens!) and the more you zoom, the worse the quality gets. That’s a trade off with zoom lenses, I know, but some are better than others. Also, zoomed the whole way out, and shooting into high contrast situations, you can find purple fringing (a purple outline) on dark lines in the photos, like on the pole holding the bird feeder with the snow as a backdrop, the black hook with the white spouting behind, or on the top edge of the building with the bright sky behind. I will learn what settings yield the best results in time to minimize this, and there’s always photoshop, but it is a weakness. It also simply isn’t that sharp at the long end. Another negative: it is basically worthless in low light; it has a terrible time focusing in doors and I had trouble getting anything usable.

That said, when pulled in just a bit from full zoom, the purple fringing basically disappears, and I was able to get a few “good” long range shots. For medium range shots, where I think it will see most of its use, I was able to get some shots I was really quite please with. For instance, the trash on the road and water cap above are reasonably sharp and true to color. The very last picture gave me a lot of hope, too; it was taken at full zoom, is reasonably sharp, and there is a fair amount of detail/sharpness with little to no fringing at all.

Overall I think it will make for a good all purpose walk around lens (how I do most of my shooting anymore), I didn’t pay much for it so feel like I’m getting my money’s worth, and it’s not like I’m a professional photographer and need the highest quality gear. Given more practice I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get fairly consistent good shots with it, especially zoomed at the long end. I’ve also ordered a lens hood for it (a metal screw on hood from China for just $0.99 from eBay!), so that should help with the image quality and sharpness some, too. I really want to do more photo shooting this year so it should be put to a lot of use.

Thanks a lot for reading and happy shooting!

Written by Jim

January 15, 2018 at 8:06 pm

Dry Creek Bed Photos

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Yesterday I went out to shoot pictures for the first time in about a year. I’ve been so dedicated to training this year that I didn’t do many of the other things I enjoy. I really had fun yesterday and will make more of an effort to get out with the camera again while it’s still nice out.

Anyway, while running yesterday I crossed over this creek that was all dried up and cracking from the lack of rain we’ve had this year. Later in the day I drove back with my camera and shot some pictures, it was pretty cool.

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I’ll note, and you’ll probably notice, that the sky is really washed out in all of these. That’s my bad with the camera… mix of being out of practice and lazy.

I went up the creek a little in the other direction and came upon a really neat setting.

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There was a house to the left here and I’m pretty sure this was someone’s property. There was sort of a dam in the creek here and it would have made a nice pond. Still cool looking without the water.

When I first came here I made some noise, and a bird popped up.

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I’m no birder, but am pretty sure that’s a blue heron. There were also a few geese floating in the small pool but they left much more quickly and I only got blurry shots of them.

Surrounded the pool were tons of dead crayfish. I’m not sure whether they died from lack of water or the birds feeding on them, but there were a lot there.

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Thanks for looking, hope you enjoyed.
Happy shooting!

Written by Jim

September 26, 2016 at 7:19 pm

Fireworks

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Hi, long time no post. Four months and a day to be exact. I didn’t intend on neglecting this blog but have been keeping busy and more or less forgot about it. While on vacation this week I figured I’d try to post a few things and hopefully will keep with it better moving forward.

This summer I tried photographing fireworks for the first time. It was a lot of trial and error and more bad shots than good, but I had a few “keepers” that I’m relatively pleased with.

The following are a mix from the 4th of July and my town’s annual fair. All were shot with my Pentax K-r and (I think) the 18-55 kit lens.

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Written by Jim

December 28, 2015 at 2:39 pm

Mascot Mill Park

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I started experimenting with different routes home from work a few months ago to avoid traffic on the main route and happened upon “Mascot Mill Park.” It’s a neat little park with a couple of picnic tables, benches, a dam, and there are usually people fishing when I go by. I don’t know where the “Mascot” part of the name came from; there is a mill there as well, so maybe that’s where mascots are made?

It’s a quite photogenic setting and I’ve stopped a few times now to take pictures.

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One time I had a surprise helper with my pin hole camera:

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This last one was taken with Google Camera.

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Written by Jim

August 27, 2015 at 8:50 pm

Summer Autocross

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It was over two months ago, but I did do one autocross this year. While it would have been nice to do more, I was more focused on training and working on my bike this year, so didn’t devote much time (or money) to the car. The local Corvette Club hosted some autocrosses just a couple miles from my house at a nice big parking lot, so I went to one. It’s nice when they’re so close, I can put my racing wheels and tires on in the comfort of my carport and just drive there on them (rather than packing a ton of tools and the tires and doing it at the event). I was considering going to more than one, but when removing my tires I realized that cords are showing on one of them (meaning they’re extremely worn) so thought it wasn’t safe to keep using them. I’ll have to replace the tires before doing any more racing. In any case, I had a lot of fun and was pleased with how I did.

Here’s a video of my best run of the day.

I finished roughly in the middle of the pack overall, which I was happy with since I hadn’t done it for over a year. I messed up a bit at the end so know I could have been faster yet. Like anything else, you only get better with lots of practice, so I can’t expect to be too competitive unless I start doing it more often. If having fun is your only intention though, it’s still well worth it.

I brought my camera along, too…

Some friends of mine that lived close by stopped to watch and one of them was kind enough to take some pictures of me while I was driving.

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It’s fairly common that some cars will have a rear tire come off the ground during extreme cornering at autocrosses. Some cars are notorious for it; Subaru’s, for example. In a hard turn while braking all of the car’s weight shifts to the front and outside, and all of the travel is used up in the suspension at the lightest inside corner – the rear. These aren’t the best pictures, but look at the rear tire… there’s space between it and the pavement.

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It can look pretty funny. The softer the suspension the more the car will lean in a corner and the tire can lift up pretty high. LIKE THIS!

I mostly tried to practice taking panning shots. I didn’t do as well as last time. I just couldn’t get the timing of the cars right and ended up moving the camera a bit too slow or fast, resulting in blurry pictures. Using an auto focus lens (the 70-210) this time, I think the second it takes to find focus could be having an impact as well. It was still fun to shoot and I know I’ll improve with more practice.

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Thanks for reading and happy driving!

Written by Jim

October 12, 2014 at 5:57 pm

Chickadee Chick

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Two Chickadees built a nest (literally) right next to our front door this year and I found one of the chicks hopping around in the driveway a few weeks ago. I believe it was its first day out of the nest.

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This guy (or gal?) couldn’t fly yet and was just sort of hopping around and flapping its wings. It let me get pretty close, but when I’d get about an arm’s length away it would try to create some more distance. It finally made it to the yard and tried to climb a tree trunk, but couldn’t get very far.

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it was trying to fly, but couldn’t quite get it yet

I shot a number of pics and then left it alone; the parents were perching close by watching, so I’m sure they were relieved when I left, too. The nest is now empty (there were a few other chicks) and I haven’t seen any of them since. I hope they’re well.

Written by Jim

June 14, 2014 at 10:15 am