Ah. a week off from work with nothing planned! :-) Well, nothing fun planned, :-( I do have some house things to do but no trips, no events on the horizon. Considering this is turning out to be an actual summer weather feeling week for a change I kind of regret not planning anything now. Oh well, I have another week in autumn and maybe I can make it up then.
What I will do though is try to make the best of my usual surroundings and try to do some local photo explorations. I think shooting in familiar places takes an extra effort because you have to look at things subjectively as if it was for the first time. I often say I like to shoot what other people don’t notice and here is a good time to shoot what I normally don’t notice. Or shoot things that I had in the back of my mind to try someday when I have the time. No excuse now, I have the time!
These are few shots around Point State Park in Pittsburgh. It was a beautiful Sunday evening for my wife and I to go for a stroll and since we haven’t been around the Point in a while, I thought it would be a good place to give the wide angle lens another workout. Yes, I am still in the wide-angle mode and I almost force myself to use it exclusively lately just to milk out if it what I can. The different viewpoint is refreshing – but not as refreshing as a beach vacation. :-(
A break from the wide angle scenes.
I spotted this parking garage in the making while scouting out the location of where my employers new office is going to be. It was a Sunday so there wasn’t much construction activity and I liked the bare concrete of the garage. I would liked to have gotten closer and explored the lines a bit more but I was maxed out on my lens reach and fences prevented me from digging deeper.
Here are a few more shots from my “day after” shots of the county fair. I was going to post some full color shots but decided to stick with black and white since that seems to be where my head is at these days. I had some nice straight B&W images ready when my wife thought the train station shot would look good as a textured image. I’m always game to her ideas so I went with a textured vintage look and , I have to say, I liked the results. So much I went ahead and did a few more in the same vein.
With the exception of the “fire ring” photo almost all of the others where shot with the wide-angle lens I have been playing around with. I soon realized how much I really have to pay attention to the whole frame when shooting wide. Compositions take a lot more effort than what I am used to when using my normal middle range focal lengths. The whole “single subject bokeh” shots are out the window, of course, and I kind of like that idea. A little break away from what’s currently in vogue. Not only that but I kind of quit worrying keeping the camera level at times, as exampled in the baby dragon photo. A slight tilt of the camera helped emphasize the dragon and make it “larger than life”. At least that’s what I’m seeing, larger than life dragons! :-)
It’s that time of year when I like to visit the county fair grounds the day after the fair ends. I try to get there every year to see if I can outdo myself (I never do) and if there is anything different from the previous year (doesn’t seem to be). I can easily walk around and photograph the various vintage looking rides at my own leisure and try new angles and viewpoints. The tear down process is always a little slow to get under way and the rides are usually still set up when I get there. This year I even came across a fellow photographer with the same idea. Yeah, I know, it’s scary when I come across someone thinking like me. ;-)
I was always drawn to the colors in years past but last year I tried a few shots in black and white and liked the results so much I pretty much do all of them in black and white. Adds to the vintage appeal, I guess. Plus I was again blessed with dark cloudy skies which always enhance the drama of the images. While driving there I was afraid the clouds would clear up and the sun would come out by the time I arrived but fortunately that didn’t happen.
Sticking with the wide-angle lens I talked about last post I tried my hand at some different viewpoints to bring out the best of the lens. It certainly didn’t disappoint in sharpness and I tried to avoid any straight lines so I wouldn’t have to worry about or correct any distortion. Whatever distortion that was there only enhanced the images, in my opinion.
Here is a small sampling and I’ll try to throw a few more up in a few days after I get through processing.
When I last left you I mentioned a new wide-angle lens that I was going to try out. Well I did try out THAT lens and it didn’t quite work out the way I had hoped. It wouldn’t take much snooping to know I usually use Pentax camera gear. I like it, it works for me, and I find their lenses to be of high quality optically. I own a few of the Pentax Limited lenses and thought for a long time about getting a DA 15mm Limited wide-angle lens. I read a gazillion user reviews and looked at another gazillion photos and generally liked what I saw. I also liked the idea that it was rather compact for easy travel but I disliked the maximum f4 aperture as I am generally an available light photographer. Plus most users claimed it had to be stopped down to f8 for maximum quality.
With all of that info at hand I purchased a clean used example on eBay and when it arrived I set out to do a few quick tests. Just shooting items around the house and examining the photos I quickly noticed that the center sharpness was decent when shot wide open and really sharp when stopped down. The bummer was the edges quickly turned to mush when used at f4 and never got much better even when stopped down. I kind of knew this going in as a number of users reported soft edges but, judging by the photos I reviewed I thought it wouldn’t be much of a problem. Well, for me, it was.
I wanted a wide angle lens more for tight area photography then for landscapes. There has been a number of times when I wanted to shoot interiors of dilapidated buildings and couldn’t get what I wanted into the frame in a single shot. Unless there is a focal point subject close to the camera, I need the whole picture to look good, edge to edge. The DA15 just couldn’t do that. The edges were soft enough to notice and I don’t really want a lens that I can only use at one aperture, so I asked the seller if I could return it and he graciously said OK.
As I went about sending back the lens I looked at the sellers other items for sell and noticed he had a Vivitar Series-1 13mm f2.8 lens in Pentax mount. Since I was sort of bitten by the wide-angle bug I thought I would give that a try. It was wider than the DA lens by a couple of millimeters and was faster at f2.8, so it had that going for it. The downside being it wasn’t an AF lens and it was considerably larger since it is designed for the 35mm format not Aps-C. The manual focus isn’t too much of an issue due to the large depth-of-field and I found it easy enough to focus through the viewfinder and I could always use the live-view for more critical focusing. The bulk is another matter since it takes away any “always have it with you” advantages. This is a lens I have to purposely want to have with me otherwise it takes up too much room.
But how does it perform? I am happy to report that it is an incredibly sharp lens from edge to edge, even at f2.8! That makes it quite usable for the low light interiors I would most likely use it for. It does have its share of distortion but I found it easily correctable during processing with negligible effects on the angle of view. So it is definitely a keeper but, as I mentioned, I would have to take it out on special “missions” only. And the added bonus of when or if Pentax comes out with a 35mm format camera (or I get a Sony A7) I will have an even wider angle to explore.
In the mean time I have been practicing my new found wideness to not so good effect. It takes some practice and vision to shoot wide and I will need some time at it before I can declare any winning photos. These were shot on a test run in Pittsburgh over the weekend and I hope to get out and about with the lens in the next few weeks to see what I can do with it.
Whew, I think that’s more text I wrote then all last month. ;-)
It’s been fun and a challenge trying to post every day in the month of July. I thought the hard part would have been coming up with photos to post but I soon found out the challenge was trying to write something about them. Either way it was a nice experiment and the most important thing I found out was that more posts = more views!
I hope I can keep everyone’s interest as the posts slow down a little. My goal has always been to provide quality photography not quantity. In the coming days I’m going to take some time and do some shooting and trying out a few ideas I have. Plus I just acquired a new wide angle lens and I need to give it a spin. I’ll throw up a post every few days or so and report my results. In the mean time I have to spend some time reading more blogs and try to get that writing thing down.
Thanks for stopping by.
Until then, see you sometime this weekend!
I can smell a theme cooking with the similarities between the last few photos I posted. This one was totally by chance and I didn’t intend to keep the contrast theme going but I just happened to open a folder in my archives from this month and this is the first photo I saw. Works for me.
If you ask me why I would take a photo of a rusty bolt on a metal grate, I wouldn’t have an answer for you. I just shoot stuff like this all of the time. Just about anything that catches my eye I tend to snap a pic. And the more rusty and crusty the better. Most shots end up in the forgotten bin because they don’t do anything for me or they may have technical problems. On occasion I go back and take a look and find a few gems that I passed by, but my intuition is usually right the first time. I only really delete photos that are just technically bad or were just test shots for new gear. Once I view the results I pitch ‘em.
A little creature I spotted in a mailbox. Poor guy has a part of a leg missing.
This shot was an instant black and white moment.The spider was yellowish and the black metal reflecting the daylight was bluish so I knew right away that I could get a nice contrast in black and white. B&W is fun when there are only two colors in the scene!
I like these kind of ph0tos. A wide-angle shot of a close-up subject with the surroundings receding into the background. An environmental portrait of sorts. The challenge is finding suitable subjects in a suitable environment. I don’t like to arrange photos so when I look for subjects I shoot them how I find them. So it has to be a “complete package” of sorts.
I wasn’t totally sure if this glove made a good subject but, as my usual, I just shot it anyhow. I realized a while ago my intuition is usually working for, not against, me. A number of my favorite photos were taken because I thought “what the hey”, and I grabbed a few frames of something that interested me at the time. Only later did I realize that I was really on to something and the shots I took were worthwhile. My last few photos that were chosen for exhibitions were just that, literally grab shots taken because I told myself there is something there.
This photo wasn’t without its technical difficulties though. I didn’t really care for the color in the scene as everything was rather drab from the overcast light. That same color made the black and white conversion a little tricky. Almost every color in the scene had the same tonalities and coupled with the flat light there was little way to separate the subject from its surroundings. I played around with the contrast and a little vignette and dodge and burn to come up with the best compromise I could. It doesn’t pop out at you but I like it regardless.