I’m not good at posting regularly

The title says it all. I’m terrible at it. I am at a crossroads in my internal motivation, trying to dedicate more energy to what I enjoy doing and it is a constant struggle to find a balance. That being said, I was able to get this post started, and it should lead to a finish.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 300mm f/4 HS APO G@ f/4.5, ISO 500, 1/320s

My last post was a good part of three months ago. I posted about the anniversary of my first dive into serious photography. It was right before a trip to Colorado in January 2011. My first return with equipment I want to have with me is going to be later this week.

Playing with an A7

Where to get started? I was in the Pacific Northwest for a few days earlier this month and I was fortunate enough to meet with Ron Martinsen and he let me borrow an A7 for a few days and I allowed him to borrow my 50mm f/1.4 SSM ZA lens to test out the LA-EA4 adapter for his blog. I was flabbergasted at the opportunity. Here is the guest post I made on his blog.  The weather was dumpy and my schedule was dumpier, I even resorted to some testing on random objects, like a marker on the hotel bed spread in low light.

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ILCE-7, 35mm f/2.8 ZE @ f/2.8, ISO 1600, 1/50s

The A7 is definitely a cool little camera. I’m still trying to figure out where the future of the A-mount is going and where I will fit into that equation. If I were to go to the E-mount, I’d have to go all-in and I just don’t see that happening any time soon.

Spring is Here!

It is well-documented, I am a Spring junkie. I have peach, pear, and apple trees, daffodils, tulips, azaleas, holly bushes, and a bunch of random other junk growing in my yard. I have a couple families of cardinals, a new family of blue jays, as well as a nest of owls and hawks close by. I planted some roses, primrose, and a few other things which should make for some good subjects. The first sign of Spring this year was these Columbine flowers which grow in a random spot in my front yard.

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SLT-A99V, 135mm f/2.8[T4.5] @ T4.5, ISO 400, 1/160s

The daffodils came out in full force a week later.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 50mm f/2.8 Macro @ f/6.3, ISO 800, 1/60s

And I spent the bulk of a later weekend putting in roses. I can’t wait to see how those turn out.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4.5, ISO 125, 1/250s

Random Final Thought

I have plenty more to talk about, yet more work and reality to deal with, so I hope to find some more time. I will leave you with this thought. I’m usually the person taking the photographs and rarely am I in them. I revisited my collection of photos from Austria which included Christian’s photos and found a few taken of me, by Christian, which I particularly like. At time I was a bit weirded out by the thought of my photo being taken, but now I truly appreciate it, especially those I didn’t know he was taking.

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SLT-A57, Minolta 24mm f/2.8 @ f/7.1, ISO 100, 1/800s – Photo by Christian of optiphot.com

I still haven’t figured out how to express the Austria trip in words. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to do so.

Catch Up Post #6: Other Random Stuff

Finally, we come to the Bit Bucket. And at the end of this I will have posted seven different things in one day.

Post #1 Update

First of all, an update on Post #1. I dropped my completed Articles of Organization and the filing fee in the mail today. It will likely be in Raleigh tomorrow and I’m not sure how long it will take to process. I also got a Federal Employer Identification Number today, which was refreshingly painless. Once I get the paperwork back from Raleigh, I will be able to get a Sales Tax license and I will be ready for business!

Filters

I’ve been a busy person, but I have also gotten out and taken a few photos along the way. Lately I have been shooting with a Zeiss Circular Polarizer or a B+W 486 UV/IR Cut Filter on the front of my lenses and I am pretty happy with the results. I need to do a comparison to truly understand the differences and what I am achieving these filters. That is a post for another day (or months from now, hopefully I’ll get that far).

Tricksy Birdses

I posted a while back about the elusive Cardinals in my back yard. I can say now, they aren’t nearly as elusive as I thought. In fact, they’re frequent visitors. It is just a matter of patience.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/2.8, ISO 400, 1/250s

I have at least three males and three females who visit. Hopefully they will stick around, maybe bring more little visitors.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 160, 1/250s

I also have a woodpecker or two in the area which is a good thing and a bad thing. It is a good thing as they are beautiful birds. It is a bad thing as my trees are offering them plenty to eat so they stick around.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 160, 1/500s, +2/3 EV

We have a nest of hawks and a nest of owls in the neighborhood and they have eluded me for the most part. One of these days I’ll have my camera out when one of them visits and get a clean shot. This hawk is about 30-35 yards away and I took this shot from my upstairs bedroom window.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/3.2, ISO 100, 1/500s

I wish she had turned around.

Kids’ Activities

My oldest son is still playing Soccer, or Football as they say everywhere other than the United States. Last year he played his games at night which posed a few challenges I’ve mentioned before. The lights were poor and it was difficult to get the white balance right as different parts of the field were lit differently. I will say the A99 was a huge improvement over the A77 in the night sports arena. I was able to comfortably shoot in the ISO 3200-6400 range. This year, they play in the early evening, which allows their games to occur mostly in the daylight, which makes most of my setup negligible. I have been using Auto ISO from 100-400 and pegging Shutter Priority between 1/500s and 1/1000s. Here is a shot from earlier this year before the Bermuda grass started turning green.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 250, 1/800s

Even in the waning daylight hours, I was able to use available light to get a good shutter speed. A few weeks later, and with the nights coming later I was able to get higher quality, faster speeds.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 100, 1/1250s

I have missed the raw speed and the reach of the A77. I will probably shoot with the A77 for the next sunny game.

My daughter has been singing in her school’s choir and I got a couple of shots under poor stage lighting. This one I cropped out of the bigger picture.

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SLT-A99V, 85mm f/1.4 ZA @ f/2.8, IS0 400, 1/100s, -1EV

My youngest of the three doesn’t have any formal activities. He likes to play with rocks and sticks and run around. He does those things quite well.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 100, 1/800s

My oldest son finished the Cub Scouts this year and may transition to the Boy Scouts next year. His favorite activity in his five years of Cub Scouts was the Pinewood Derby. His final race is this weekend. This was after his final Pack race.

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SLT-A99V, 85mm f/1.4 ZA @ f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/400s

And we had what has become an annual event at our house, the Easter Egg Hunt.

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SLT-A99V, 85mm f/1.4 ZA @ f/1.7, ISO 800, 1/50s

We’ve been doing the Hunt for as long as we’ve owned the house, so all of the kids we have invited have gotten much older and more kids get invited every year. Because of this we’ve increased our egg count from a few dozen to nearly a thousand eggs and now we do the hunt at night.

Here is the best from the shots I took.

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SLT-A99V, 85mm f/1.4 ZA @ f/1.4, ISO 6400, 1/80s, –2EV

All caught up, I guess.

That’s all I have today. Seven posts to catch up for not posting but once or twice in the past couple of months. Although it is still less than I would post if I weren’t preoccupied with work and other stuff, I feel like I’ve caught up enough. Hopefully I won’t be a slacker and not post tomorrow or at least later this week.      😉

Catch-Up Post #0: Prologue

OK, I have a ton to catch up on and I need to get it all out. So I figure I will get it out in chunks but I want to outline it first and today seems like a wonderful day to do it.

Topics:

1. Going Pro: If there was a day to start a business, it would be today. The way North Carolina works, if you establish an LLC, you have to file papers on April 15th of every year. So I am on the clock if I want to file that paperwork at this point. I am probably going to today. I also have to figure out advertising, print business cards, all that other stuff and I am hoping to get a handle on it all this week.

2. Kayden: A while back I posted about “Jennifer”. She was public offender #1. Well, I am happy to say I was able to at least change her Facebook cover photo for a week or so as I did a shoot with her little one, Kayden. Unfortunately, “Jennifer” decided it would be a good idea to put another Kissy Face or Duck Face profile shot up WITH Kayden. You can’t win them all, I guess.

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SLT-A99V, 85mm f/1.4 ZA @ f/4, ISO 50, 1/320s

3. Spring (Finally!!): It is officially Spring in North Carolina, after waiting a long time. Now, personally I am tempted to cut Claritin into lines at this point as the pollen is out of control, I can handle a little bit of sneezing and coughing to get a million photos. And a million photos I may have gotten at the end of the day.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 400, 1/250s, +1EV

4. NIK Suite: I HATE Google. With a passion. And there is a good story behind it. Before Google acquired Nik Software I was entertaining getting their Silver Efex software if the price was right. It didn’t seem to be quite where I wanted it for $200. Then they offered the entire suite (Silver Efex, Color Efex, Viveza, HDR Efex Pro, Sharpener Pro, etc.) for less than $150. Sold. Effin’ Google! Now I am addicted. I have literally gone back into my vast library and tried to enhance many photos. Of course, I am pressed for time so I will show an enhanced version of the one I just posted.

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Same as above, post processing with Lightroom 4 and NIK Color Efex 2

5. Austria trip:  I’m going to have a neat little trip to Austria via Germany this summer! I’m pretty excited about it, really. I’m going to meet up with another Sony enthusiast, Christian, who has been a really good mentor without me asking and I truly hope to learn from him while I am there. He has been gracious enough to agree to show me where to go to shoot. Christian has a unique set of lenses and I hope to try some of them as well as see what he can do with anything I have to bring. All I know is I may have to bring an extra memory card or two and maybe a hard drive. I ordered the Rosetta Stone and I hope to learn enough German to be able to ask to go to the bathroom.

6. Other random stuff: I have plenty of stuff to talk about so if anything else comes up I’ll put it in a random post. I have had some luck with the cardinals and other birds in my yard. I’m now trying to get the Hawks and Owls, who have proven to be elusive.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 160, 1/250s

As for right now, when I am home my wife and I take turns taking the kids to school. Today is my turn and I need to make sure lunches are made, teeth are brushed, and all of the important stuff in between.

Tricksy Cardinalses! And other news…

One of my photography goals for 2013 is to get a photograph of a cardinal which fills a sufficient amount of the frame. This is quite a challenge as they bolt as soon as they suspect something and I have a lot of somethings; kids, a dog, cats, squirrels, and my clumsiness. Once the weather gets a little better I will be able to hide a little more, right now I am constrained to the back door window and my kitchen window, which adds another layer of potentially dirty glass in the way. This shot comprises about 1/12 of the total frame.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 200, 1/80s

As does this shot.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 800, 1/250s

And then one of my cats walked up to the door and made a noise and this guy was gone…

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f/4, ISO 800, 1/250s

I’ve had a little bit of luck behind closed doors, but I feel like I can do better and get closer.

I am home briefly from Seattle, Washington and I have to return next week. Last week I had the privilege of visiting Ron Martinsen of ronmartblog.com and shoot his book case with the A77, A900, and A99 – sort of. I didn’t get what I thought from the A900. I put the A900 in Mirror Lock-up and I guess Nikons wait a bit and then take the shot after the shutter button is pressed. Not the A900. It just puts the mirror back if you don’t press the shutter button again. So I got dozens of samples from the A99 and A77 with my 85mm f/1.4 ZA lens and only three from the A900, two of which were test frames. Not all was lost, however as I did get the A77 and A99 shots AND as a bonus I shot a set with the A99 with the Minolta 200mm f/2.8 High Speed APO G lens. So I will be able to compare the A99 and A77 short term as well as the 85mm and 200mm lenses. As you can see, I also got some shots of the Seattle skyline and Mount Rainier on the one day the weather cooperated. I also shot with a circular polarizer on my 85mm lens.

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SLT-A99V, 85mm f/1.4 ZA @ f/4, ISO 200, 1/500s

I had one huge issue with trying to get shots from this side of downtown Seattle. There weren’t many places without power lines in the way without trespassing. I had to shoot over a fence in a driveway to get these. Here is one with my A77.

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SLT-A77V, 24mm f/2 ZA @ f/7.1, ISO 100, 1/200s.

I’m back there next week. Hopefully I get the chance to re-shoot the book case with the A900 but if I don’t, at least I got what I got.