Sunday, April 30, 2006

Breaking down and joining the present

So I've decided that I need to get a digital SLR. I'm going the *ist DL + DA 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 + (maybe) DA 50-200mm f/4.0-5.6.

Why the *ist DL? Well, I investigated the reviews on the *ist D, and it writes too slowly to the CF card to be of much use for birds and macro of things that move. The *ist DS is no longer available except by eBay, and the *ist DS2 was discontinued because of product failure (or so the guy at ritz told me...).

The new pro model will probably be available next year, and it will probably be somewhat compelling. For the time being, the DL can be my go-to, and my MX and ZX-L can stay in the bag as a film backup for the things the DL can't do.

I looked at Nikon's D70s too, but the change in lens system isn't worth it - Nikkor lenses are entirely too expensive and not very compelling for the price.

Canon's digital offerings aren't a good fit for me at all thanks to the way the aperture functions. That whole "you can't reverse the lenses" means I'd have to either stop doing macro or spend real actual money on a macro lens.

But then again, the DA 18-55 focuses at 10 inches. Ding!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Turtle Invasion

Mighty Turtle

New photos up here.

They've put up the "sponsored sculptures" on campus in about 25 places, so I started taking pictures of all of them. That is, until two I stopped by weren't there, and I found out I can't take a picture of the one in the library without special permission. Oh well. Terp Chaos, Mighty Turtle of Maryland, Maryland My Maryland, and Terps Basketball Legends all turned out at least decently, compositionally speaking, though it would be nice if I had a slightly wider lens than my 24mm. Of course, if I had been using the MX instead of the ZX-L, I would have been able to frame the top of Mighty Turtle a bit better.

Um... Yeah. Just a bit of a fun project.

The doves are as much as my pets at the office, however phenomenally stupid they may be.

I don't know what kind of moth that is. Weird alien, that's what I addressed it as. It stayed in that same place on a pillar in front of Key for two days, then disappeared. Oh well.

Film was Agfa optima 400.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Centennial Photos

New gallery here

Redwing noise

Most of the photos are peices of crap, technically speaking. I'd like to blame that on the fact that I was using my MX to take pictures of things that move, but I used to be able to do that just fine, and some of the MX pictures also turned out just fine. What really happened is that most of them are "hey look at that" pictures, which always seem to suck a little bit more. Whatever. I'm proud of the birds I saw.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

On Seals, Sea Lions, and Animal Planet not knowing anything

Back to Ultimate Scavengers: they just showed Jackals feeding on baby sea lions. How do I know this? Sea lions are adept at "WALKING" on land, unlike seals, which must "AWKWARDLY FLOP ABOUT" due to their "LACK OF LOW-SET LONG FEET IN FRONT" and "POSESSION OF A SINGLE TAIL-TYPE UNIT USELESS FOR FORWARD PROPULSION ON LAND IN BACK."

You'd think Animal Planet would get the difference between the two correct...

[Edit] Okay, fine. There are eared beings and earless beings within the pinniped group. Earless seals, which is what I think of as seals and are also known as "true seals," and eared seals, some of which are (rightly) called sea lions and others of which (the fur seals) are blessed with the seal misnomer. They should be called sea lions. Why would you create a separate familial classification, then retain an improper name?

Stupid biologists.

On Birds and People who Don't Know Anything

There's a show on Animal Planet right now about scavengers... they just finished up a segment about the vultures of South Africa (Cape Griffon, Lappet-Faced Vulture and the like). One of the things they felt it necessary to point out was that the old-world vultures and new-world vultures are externally similar, but vastly different. Old-world vultures rely entirely on eyesight to locate and evaluate food: they either don't have or have an extremely limited sense of smell.

I don't know why the distinction is all that hard to accept. The wikipedia entries on new- and old-world vultures explains that they evolved from separate families to perform the same function. This isn't surprising: both have powerful feet, broad wings, and a lack of feathers on the head to aid in cleaning.

The difference comes in lineage: old-world vultures are members of the accipitridae family which, as you might guess if you know of hawk classifications, are the birds of prey. This is so plain upon inspection that I don't know how you could make the mistake of believing that new-world vultures are at all similar. Old-world vultures, best exemplified by good shots of the Cape Griffon, have their eyes set forward in their heads and a very pronounced hawk-like beak, hooked at the end.

The vultures you find in America (Turkey and American Black vultures) have their eyes set on the sides of their head and have long, slender faces and appropriately sized and shaped beaks. They're much more slender in that regard, though their heads are much thicker on their necks (at least, upon cursory inspection they are).

Rants like this are probably the key to understanding my way of thinking.

Centennial Park

At the recommendation of a friend, I went to Centennial park today to birdwatch. I did so lazily, but still saw and laughed at the following species of birds.

Less obvious:
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
White-Throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Red-Winged Blackbird (including a juvenile)
Red-Shouldered Hawk
Eastern Towhee
Ruby Crowned Kinglet
Brown Thrasher

Better known birds:
Canada Geese
Turkey Vulture
Blue Jay
House finch
Robins (a LOT of them)
Mourning Doves

The ones I'm not so sure about:
Swallows of some sort
A martin? Maybe some kind of giant swift?
some VERY loud little bird i have yet to see from a good angle

And, not a bird, but I saw a GIANT frog that let me get within three feet of it, so I have a pretty good-sized picture of it sitting there.

I'll post pictures when they come.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I found this one too


I like available light photography.

Squirrels are neat

Squirrels in a tree
Sometimes I forget that I do take pictures that, even long after the fact, still make me think about what it was like to be there, see what I saw, to have experienced that inspiration of seeing a scene I needed to document. When I set out with my camera in hand, my lenses on my back, and a couple fresh rolls of film for the afternoon, I never intended to take one of those such pictures. This is it.

Prior to that afternoon last October, I didn't actually realize squirrels hung out in holes in trees. I didn't know that they'd sit still long enough to be photographed in such a cute position. I most certainly didn't know that my relatively new and feature-filled automatic camera would be such a transparent tool to capture an image. But they do, they can, and it did. I took this picture with about 320 dollars worth of camera and a two-and-a-half dollar roll of film. It's rare that I post a well behaved picture by itself, but in re-sizing and reposting my old galleries, I saw this one and couldn't help but smile to myself and want to post the kind of smarmy crap most people find annoying.

Photo Archives

I have moved all (or nearly all) of my old linked-to galleries to my glue space. Additionally, you'll find some shots that weren't up on blogger before. You might well have seen them, but they never had comment threads assigned to them (just in case).

Below, there are several threads to provide comments on the new ones. On that other index page, you'll find links to not only the galleries, but the comment threads that are relevant. I'll try to maintain this format for the forseeable future, as I think it's the most productive. That and it gave me a chance to nerd around in CSS again.

tee hee.

Leftover Gallery

You can post any relevant commentary on my gallery of things that don't quite fit into other categories here.


Black and White Gallery

You can post any relevant commentary on my black & white gallery here.

Black & White

Macro and Close-up gallery

You can post any relevant commentary on my macro and close-up gallery here.

Macro & close-up

Flower Gallery

You can post any relevant commentary on my flower gallery here.


Wildlife Gallery

You can post any relevant commentary on my wildlife thread here. This post will make sense in a few, as will the next couple posts.



Sunday, April 9, 2006

Cherry Blossom Festival

At long last, I've managed to scan and share two pages of cherry blossoms and such. Okay, some of the shots on the second page are not of blossoms. But! I took some 50 or so pictures of those, so forgive me for not actually scanning all of them.

That said, a few notes:

I apologize for the scratches in the shots. As I always have to do.

A lack of sharpness in some/most pictures can be attributed to me having to run Photoshop CS2's Dust and Scratches filter on them. It works somewhat well, but it also does a good job of murdering some fine detail.

Most of the up-close shots are from my 50mm f/1.7 reverse mounted to the camera. The full-frame shots of the single blossoms are the 24mm f/2.8 reverse mounted. Close focus with deep field of focus are probably the 24mm, though a couple here and there might be the 50mm.

Blossoms 1-21 are Kodak 400UC, as is the leaf sprout picture. The rest are Agfa Optima 400.

The pictures are gigantic in physical size because I plan on using a couple different ones as wallpaper at work. The total gallery size is like 24 megabytes, so you may want to be selective in viewing images if you are not on broadband.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Gompetry indeed

Retarded title aside, I put a few new pictures up over here.

Maybe you'll enjoy them. Maybe not so much. Whatever works for you!