A Jim of All Trades

Posts Tagged ‘Pentax

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

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

Autocross Pictures

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Last weekend marked the end of the autocross season for the local SCCA chapter. I didn’t compete in any of their events this year and hadn’t even gone to any, so decided to go for a little bit on Saturday to take some pictures. Aside from taking some pictures I said hi to some people and had fun being there, but didn’t stay very long because I had other things to do. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to do some more driving and can make it to a few events.

Here are some of the pictures I took. I mostly stood in one place and shot pictures as the cars went by, but also walked around and took some of cars that weren’t driving. Hope you enjoy!

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Written by Jim

November 2, 2014 at 1:05 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

Speedwell Forge Lake

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Speedwell Forge Lake was a man made lake in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, just a bit north of the town of Lititz. A few years ago the dam that retains the water for the lake was damaged and the lake was drained due to safety concerns. Here’s an article from when it was originally drained, if you’re interested. (Some websites apparently didn’t get the message and still advertise it as existing) There are plans to fix the dam and flood the area again, but until then, it makes for a pretty unique piece of nature. I went last weekend with a friend to take photos. I had actually never heard of it before, it was his idea, and I’m glad we went. It felt like we were trespassing while we were there, but the area was very accessible and I didn’t see any posted signs at the entrance.

It was a 106 acre lake, so the photos don’t do the size justice. All of this used to be under water…

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There’s a bit of a dam made from loosely laid stones that creates a small pond, I assume for the wildlife. The following two pictures were taken standing on the dam, first up stream where the lake used to be, then downstream.

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The original dam is still there, too. Apparently the original water path has been diverted.

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Nice water at the bottom…

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We did see a Blue Heron, a Crane and some ducks, though I wasn’t able to get very good pictures.

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It’s a really neat area and fun to explore. If you’re in the area I’d recommend checking it out before they flood it again. The following are just a few random pictures from around the lake.

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Thanks for reading, and happy shooting!

Written by Jim

September 6, 2014 at 5:53 pm

Hawk

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There are a couple of hawks that hang around my neighborhood and they chose one of my trees to build a nest in. I’ve only ever seen them high up in the sky flying around the neighboring houses, but my neighbor has told me that he’s seen them coming and going from the nest, often with fresh catches from hunting. I’ve been a little disappointed that I’ve missed out on seeing them up close, but was surprised to look out my kitchen window the other day and see one about ten yards away in my yard. It was sort of jumping up and down and flapping its wings, but not taking flight. I figured it had either caught some prey or was hurt and couldn’t fly. I grabbed my camera, put the longer zoom lens on (70-210 — not that long) and went outside around the side of my house. The hawk noticed me right away but didn’t fly far, it perched on the edge of my neighbors inflatable pool!

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(zoomed in the whole way…  oh well.)

I inspected the pool later and there weren’t any signs of it having landed there, it didn’t dig its talons in at all. It would have been unfortunate, though funny, had it deflated the pool. The neighbor probably wouldn’t have believed me… “sure Jim, a hawk ruined my pool… whatever you say.” Anyway, it hung out there for a bit as I tried to creep closer, before relocating to the fence around another neighbor’s garden.

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Finally it flew to a tree branch, where I wasn’t able to get a good shot of it. I was able to get fairly close but couldn’t get a good angle without branches being in the way.

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I finally decided to call it quits and to stop harassing the bird. I checked out the spot where it had originally been hopping around in my yard and couldn’t find any remains of another animal or signs of a struggle, so I’m not sure what was going on. It was pretty neat to see, anyway. As a side note, I do love this lens, but need to find something longer for birds.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting!

Written by Jim

July 27, 2014 at 11:47 am

Posted in Photography

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