Last month I had focused most of my photographic efforts on the garden along the path I walk every day and had been really pleased with the results. So next I had decided to try and focus on the MBTA and at best I’ve been frustrated. There’s probably a few reasons it hasn’t been working out quite as well – I’m usually rushed and stressed when I’m using the T, and everyone else around me is too. I also try to avoid pointing my camera at people who are just out and about, and (surprise!) there’s people on the T.
On my way to/from Davis Square, I almost always walk along the Somerville Community Path. Along said path is a garden that I’ve been focusing my photographic attention on of late. I’ve also been experimenting with more black and white than usual lately. All of these were taken with the excellent Canon 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro lens:
My very favorite however is this one:
All of the B&W images have color versions nearby in the gallery. So far I’ve preferred the B&W versions but I’d love any feedback that anyone has.
No exotic lenses or interesting events for this post, just a bunch of photos taken recently:
The last one, in particular, is a happy accident of shutter speed and IS and deserves a look at larger-than-thumbnail size. The rocks on the shoreline (the Atlantic on the New Hampshire coast) stayed decently sharp while the waves show a bit of motion. Next time I’ll have to purposefully try for that!
Somerville had its fireworks display just yesterday – it was originally scheduled for the 2nd but got rained out. Not quite the same number of people as Boston’s – and I wound up watching it from a friend’s balcony anyways, after wandering through the crowds a little bit – but anything that goes kaboom like that is fun in my book.
I’m always on the lookout for interesting lenses, so a little while ago I rented the Zeiss 100mm f/2 “Makro-Planar” lens. It’s actually a Nikon lens, so a Nikon -> Canon adapter came along for the ride as well. This made shooting it quite an interesting affair. The adapter is purely mechanical, so one had to manually set the aperture on the lens and of course manually focus as well.
The first thing that hit me when taking it out of the box was that it’s quite a substantial lens – the barrel and lens hood are all metal, I can’t recall a single part that was plastic. The focus ring was very smooth and precise with no play in it whatsoever.
And when you nail the focus, the lens is incredible. But the focus is the tricky bit, especially wide open with a razor-thin depth of field. Click the thumbnails for actual-pixel crops from this tiger and this shot from the Small Strobes workshop.
What struck me most about the lens however was how buttery smooth it drew anything not in focus:
You really want to look at the larger version, if not the full size version. The way that this lens “draws” is really the most desirable and distinctive aspect of it, in my opinion.
Compared to the Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro (which is one of my very most favorite lenses): The Zeiss is a tiny bit sharper, a full stop faster, but manual focus and only goes up to half life-size magnification. Oh, and it’s also about $1,000 more expensive too!
I won’t be buying the lens immediately but, much like the Canon 24mm f/1.4L II, it’ll be staying in my mind. If I didn’t already own the Canon 100mm macro, I’d be looking to buy it a lot sooner.
As it turns out, July 4th in Boston is a somewhat popular event! I wandered through the Cambridge side of the Charles for them and the crowds might have been more impressive than the fireworks show itself. This was the scene on the way back:
Since I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going I elected to leave the tripod at home. On one hand this was a good idea — I ended up walking about 6 miles last night — but I wasn’t entirely happy with the pictures I was getting handheld. So I put the camera into movie mode, parked the camera on my shoulder, and enjoyed the show through my eyes.
So while I don’t have a bajillion photos to sort, now I have to figure out what to do with a few gigs of video. Have a screen cap:
Somerville is having its own fireworks show on the 9th (originally planned for the 2nd but rained out) and I’m planning on being there, this time with a tripod!
Not much photographic technique to report here or insights – the primary challenges were:
1) Getting close enough to the bars of the cages to defocus them, but
2) Not getting so close that the tiger can stick their paw through and steal your lens (and/or flesh!) from you.
They are such gorgeous creatures though, aren’t they?
On Sunday, I attended David Tejada’s Small Strobes, Big Results workshop held in Buffalo. I don’t really have anything to compare it to – it’s the first photography workshop I had ever attended – but it was a ton of fun and I left with my head crammed full of information and ideas.
We started the day at Nickel City Studios for introductions and a bit of classroom instruction. After lunch, we headed to the Buffalo Central Terminal with our models to demonstrate what David had been teaching us that morning.
Even though I grew up in Buffalo, I had never been to the Central Terminal before. It’s an utterly gorgeous building even in its current state of disrepair – I wish I could have seen it in its heyday. It almost distracted me from why we were actually there – to practice lighting!
For each of the different lighting setups that afternoon David explained what his thought processes were as he was setting up, we photographed the setup, then he handed off the flash controller (pocketwizards, in this case) to each of us so we could get our own shots in.
I snuck this one in off of natural light, while someone else had the flash controller. I really like what I got out of it:
After the workshop we all headed off to Anchor Bar for some wings. Even though I prefer Duff’s wings myself, the company and conversation more than made up for it.
Last month I had gotten lucky looking for tickets for the New England Aquarium’s whale watching cruises – there was a sunset cruise listed on the ticketing site, but it wasn’t advertised on the Aquarium’s website itself! Probably as a result of that the boat was fairly empty, hardly had to jockey for position at all, and I’m pretty pleased with a couple of the images I got:
I had rented the 24mm f/1.4L II for a little bit to play around with – I love fast lenses, and 24mm is a fun focal length. I ended up really liking the lens but I don’t think I would use it enough to justify it right now – I already have the 17-40mm f/4L after all. Some of the better results from the 24mm: