Monday, December 17, 2007


From Kubota Gardens

(1) Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
(2) People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
(3) At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
(4) Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So, for my random facts:
1. I love photography.
2. I'm a 4th dan in Goju and Kobudo.
3. I'm a cat person.
4. Thanks to Mitch, I've gotten to like horror films.
5. Fantasy and science fiction are still my favorite genres.
6. I need to update my blog more often.
7. Moving is a pain.
8. Snowshoeing is fun.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Into the Great Unkown

This may be my last post before moving to Seattle to take my new job with Amazon. Having never been to Seattle, and obviously never before worked for Amazon, it's actually two unknowns for me; new job, new city, new landscapes.
I had quite a gathering yesterday afternoon, lots of friends came by to wish me well on my journey. It was a combination reunion and introduction, for some friends I haven't been able to meet up with for nearly a year, and others who hadn't met each other before.
I may have some time to scan and post my photographs from my last trip to White Oak Canyon in Shenandoah, which was also my most recent photo safari to Shenadoah. Though I'll probably do some more photography in Shenandoah some day, it will be a while, since my next few visits will be for things like meeting up with friends, and hopefully closing on the sale of my house in Silver Spring.
I suppose today is the calm before the storm; tomorrow I'll have to get my things organized, separating out the things that are going into storage and the things that are going to the temporary residence. Then Wednesday and Thursday will be packing and loading days, and Friday I'll be heading for Seattle with my two terrified cats and my friend Katie, who is coming along to help courier the cats.
And then I'll get to see Seattle for the first time, and Monday I start work at Amazon. It will be quite a week!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Ebony Repairs

The camera's back in my hands, and looks nearly as good as new. And here is a photograph from my first trip out with it, at the Kenilworth Aquatic Garden in Washington, DC.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


One of the disadvantages to photographing storms is wind. When you use a wooden camera with a bellows, that's particularly dangerous... this weekend, while racing to pack up the camera before the storm hit, a gust of wind blew it over, shattering the ground glass and jamming the focussing rail. The body took a beating also, but I suppose it's a testament to the strength of the construction that it held up as well as it did.

Fortunately, Ebony is known for doing as good a job on repairs as they do in building the cameras in the first place, but unfortunately, they're in Japan, so it's going to be a while before I get it back. And it will probably be a fairly expensive repair, unfortunately.

Getting Competitive

This image won third place in the North Bethesda Camera Club open competition in May. For a larger version, follow the link:

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Birds Not in Flight

And sometimes it seems like they know that they're being photographed; this guy kept moving around every time we got a lock on him. Of course, since I was stuck with a shutter speed that ranged between half a second and several seconds, his (her?) constant motion lead to some blur no matter how carefully I focussed.
Oh well... he (or she) was a very elegant bird, even if I didn't get a particularly good photograph that night.

Bird Photography with Manual Focus

Gah... manual focus isn't ideal for bird photography, especially when the birds are in flight. Three hours, and this is about as good as it got. And Digital ICE has its limitations, as you can see here by the dust spots all over this image :/
Unfortunately, a large-aperture lens just isn't in the cards in the short term, since that's a $7000+ investment. So for now, I'll just let the folks with the really big glass get the in-flight shos. :)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Scanning and Image Processing

Now that I'm shooting regularly, I'm already getting behind on the scanning and processing part. And naturally, since scanning and optimizing images requires developing skills that I don't have yet, the results of my scans are a bit wild.

But I'm practicing and learning, a little at a time, one image at a time.

LightRoom is turning out to be very helpful for image management, and for quick processing. It helped for processing a bunch of old RAW files to send to someone, but for actually optimizing images, I'm finding LightZone to be much more useful. For one thing, LightZone lets you apply changes locally, so I can fix exposure in hot spots, and selectively correct color shifts caused by tweaking the global exposure (or by Lightroom's Vibrance control). Also, LightRoom's sharpening tool is much more powerful and effective than LightRoom's, which doesn't appear to do anything. On top of that, LightRoom simply won't load an image larger than 250 MB, while LightZone loads them happily now that I'm up to 2 GB of ram. Unfortunately however, LightZone has some trouble loading SilverFast's TIFF files directly, though it loaded a monochrome image without any problems.

So far, however, the LightRoom -> LightZone workflow is great for scanned 35mm slides. With a little experimentation, I think it will work for 4x5's also, though I think it will work out much better when I get Photoshop CS3, hopefully later this month.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Rocks and Ice at Great Falls

During a recent trip to Great Falls, I found some pleasing patterns in the ice alongside Great Falls. I would have liked to try the shot with a polarizer to cut some of the white glare on the ice to see how it would look, but I didn't have any polarizers to fit the lens I was using at the time.

My review of Tamron SP 200-500mm f/5-6.3 Di Auto Focus Zoom Lens with Hood for the Maxxum & Sony Alpha Mount, with 6 Year USA Warranty

Originally submitted at Adorama

Tamron SP 200-500mm f/5-6.3 Di Auto Focus Zoom Lens with Hood for the Maxxum & Sony Alpha Mount, with 6 Year USA Warranty

Lightweight, inexpensive super-tele
By Tamerlin from Silver Spring MD on 2/13/2007


4 out of 5

Pros: Lightweight, Clear Glass, Strong Construction, Easily Accessible Controls

Cons: Slow aperture

Describe Yourself: Hobbyist/Enthusiast

Best Uses: Landscape, Wildlife

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

This lens does not have the largest aperture out there, being limited to f/5 at the 200mm end and f/6.3 at the 500mm end. However, the advantage is that the lens is much smaller and lighter than the Nikon and Canon equivalents which do have larger apertures.

For the price, it's a hard lens to beat; the manual focus is nice and smooth, and the images are sharp even wide open. It's not going to match up to a 400mm Canon L, but it also costs 1/5th as much, and weighs a lot less, so that's the tradeoff.

My interest in the lens resulted froman interest in a long lens I could carry along with my 4x5 kit, and a big, heavy 400mm f/4 lens would, even if I could budget it, not fit that bill, as my 4x5 kit already weighs nearly 40 pounds.

Since my Nikon body is a manual focus body, I have not tried the autofocus, so I cannot comment on its performance. I can only say that I have gotten good results using this lens to photograph birds, and that it is best used on a tripod, especially at the long end.

With those caveats in mind, I would recommend this lens to anyone looking for a lightweight supertele lens on a budget.


Hybrid Hawk

Also under the care of the Northern Virginia Raptor Conservancy, this hybrid escaped from the falconer who presumably bred it. Being a hybrid, the conservancy cannot release it back into the wild, so they are taking care of it. I do not remember whether this hawk was male or female, unfortunately.

Hawks at Meadowlark

A peregrine falcon with a broken wing, rescued by the Northern Virginia Raptor Conservancy.

Monday, February 12, 2007

My review of Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens with Case and Lens Hood - USA

Originally submitted at Adorama

Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens with Case and Lens Hood - USA

Excellent wide-angle lens
By Tamerlin from Silver Spring, MD on 2/12/2007


4 out of 5

Pros: Easily Mounted, Easily Accessible Controls, Strong Construction, Clear Glass

Describe Yourself: Hobbyist/Enthusiast

Best Uses: Travel, Photojournalism, Fun

Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

I used this lens for close to two years, with no complaints whatsoever. I stopped using it when I gave it to my mother, who still uses it quite a bit.

The image quality is pristine, as is usually the case for Canon's L lenses, and the autofocus is similary quiet and responsive. It does not have any visible barrel distortions that I have seen, but I have also not used it on a full-frame camera, only on a Digital Rebel. In spite of the crop factor, it is still wide enough to be a bit of a challenge to compose with, but when it works, it works well.

For the money, this is an excellent lens.


Friday, February 9, 2007

Meadowlark Photo Expo

I attended the Meadowlark Photography expo last weekend. It was considerably larger than I had anticipated, and there was quite a bit going on -- too much to fit all of it in.

The juried photo gallery was spectacular. Kudos to the photographers who contributed; I only wish that we could have seen larger versions of some of them.

The show sponsors included Nikon, Canon, Tamron, REI, and even Carl Zeiss. Due to time limits, I wasn't able to try out the Zeiss 25mm Distagon, but I think I'll be getting one for my Nikon FM3a as my wide-angle lens for that format. It can focus close enough (under 6cm) to double as a macro lens, and it's hard to go wrong with Zeiss for image quality. I did have a chance to try out the 200-500mm Tamron zoom when I did the hawk photoegraphy session with the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia. I will be picking up the film tonight, and hopefully there will be some images worth posting from that shoot. I was not able to make it for the owl session, because there simply wasn't enough time.

The bird handlers deserve a lot of gratitude for standing out in the cold for so long, telling us about the birds and trying to get them to pose for us.

For me the highlights of the show were the presentations by Chuck Veach and Tony Sweet. Their enthusiasm is infectous, and their photography is amazing.