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 #3: Spring!

I’ve said it in so many posts, I didn’t bother to backlink it… I love the Spring in North Carolina. Daffodils, Tulips, Azaleas, Dogwoods! And I have them all in my yard! This is the front of my house.

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SLT-A99V, 24mm f/2 SSM ZA @ F/4, ISO 400, 1/500s

This Spring came a lot later than last year. Last year we transitioned from Fall directly into Spring. We had Azaleas in February. This year they waited until April.

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

You can’t really tell from the small house photo, but the new addition this year is the tulips and boy were they welcome!

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SLT-A99V, 85mm f/1.4 ZA @ f/2.5, ISO 100, 1/800s

We had red, yellow and orange.

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

And I added a few extra daffodils this year, which came in different colors and sizes than the yellow ones we already had.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f.4, ISO 200, 1/250s, +1/3 EV

I also have peach trees which blossom pink and white.

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

The last ones to the party this year (so far) are the dogwoods.

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

And there’s always my go-to subject, the Japanese Maples.

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SLT-A99V, Minolta 200mm f/2.8 HS APO G @ f.4, ISO 100, 1/250s

Still yet to come are my Apple and Pear trees, and a bunch of other randomness I have yet to shoot!

Subject searching… in my yard.

I do a bit of travelling as a part of my work responsibilities. Photographing while travelling is trivial. When I am not travelling I work from home 95% of the time. I do not have an office to drive to, I do my work over teleconferencing, video conferencing and other forms of internet communication.

I used to smoke cigarettes. A pack a day sometimes. I quit on Halloween 2006, almost 6 years ago. I quit cold turkey after trying the patch, the gum, the lozenge, and everything else I could try. If you were to ask me to identify one thing which made me successful in quitting, I would tell you it was the simple concept of going on a smokeless break. When I did work in an office, myself and a couple of smoking co-workers would send a group instant message and we’d meet in the parking garage. We all tried to quit many times and you knew who was trying to quit by who didn’t show up. So when I quit, I didn’t stop taking the breaks. I wouldn’t go stand near the smokers, though. I would do other things for 5-10 minutes every couple of hours.

Fast forward to now. When I am working at home, my new break is to take my camera outside. I live in North Carolina in the Southeastern United States, one of the best regions to live in if you like diversified nature. Specific to my property, January is OK, but about the worst month, or maybe tied with December for the worst month nature-wise. A lot of yellows and browns. The holly bushes still deliver and we always have green ivies, but in general the subjects are slim. In February, I have two Columbines which pop up and a couple of early Daffodils.

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I dropped seeds for these two columbines a few years ago and they usually are the first two flowers to show up
(A77, Sony DT 30mm f/2.8 Macro @f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/400s)
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This is one of two daffodils which pops up a couple of weeks before the others
(A77, Sony DT 30mm f/2.8 Macro @f/9, ISO 400, 1/160s)

In March, we have a Daffodil explosion, blossoms start showing up on my Peach trees, little purple flowers start showing up, the Azaleas start to bloom, and the Dogwoods flower. This explosion of color moves through April when my Pear and Apple trees join the party. We even have violets and wood sorrel popping out of the lawn out back. We had clover in the front yard until I killed it, but we have plenty in back still. My Japanese maples start to sprout leaves a hot-pinkish-red.

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A second wave daffodil.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @f/1.4, ISO 100, 1/3200s)
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Not sure what this flower is called. It grows on a bush in my front yard and flowers in March.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @f/3.5, ISO 400, 1/320s)

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One of my many azalea bushes in the early morning.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @f/2.5, ISO 400, 1/100s)

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The first peach blossom last year.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @f/1.4, ISO 50, 1/200s)

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I could not stop photographing the dogwoods last spring.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @f/1.4, ISO 100, 1/3200s)

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These violets grow freely in my back yard… until I decide to mow.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @f/1.4, ISO 50, 1/160s)

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This wood sorrel also grows freely in my back yard until it is mowed. The leaves look like shamrocks.
(A77, Minolta Beercan 70-210 f/4 @ 75mm, f/4, ISO 100, 1/640s)

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A close-up view of an azalea flower.
(A77, Quantaray/Sigma 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, f/5.6, ISO 800, 1/50s)

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A side-angle of one of my Japanese maples.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @f/4.5, ISO 100, 1/160s)

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Three four-leaf clovers in this “lucky” shot.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @f/4.5, ISO 100, 1/200s)

The Azaleas peak at the beginning of May, when my favorite Azalea bush, a purple one starts to explode. The reds, pinks, oranges, yellows, whites and greens really put my eyes and camera to the test. The Azaleas lose their blooms. Orange, Pink, White and Purple. In their place we have the Magnolias, Irises and Lillies.

 

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This Iris popped up unexpectedly.
(A77, Minolta Beercan 70-210 f/4 @ 210mm, f/4, ISO 400, 1/50s)

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It is hard to get azalea flowers in focus with a shallow depth of field.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @f/1.4, ISO 50, 1/125s)

 

In June the flowers mostly leave with few exceptions. My maples start to get an orange tinge to them and we have one white Azalea which blooms about a month after her sisters have finished dropping petals. The hydrangeas shine in June into July and the dragonflies are abundant near the creek which runs through my back yard. July brings peaches if the wildlife don’t beat me to them. In July my Japanese maples start to show some green in their leaves.

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This Hydrangea is blue, purple, or pink depending on soil PH.
(A77, Sigma 10mm f/2.8 HSM Fisheye @ f/2.8, ISO 400, 1/160s)

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This and other dragonflies hang out around the creek in my back yard.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @f/1.4, ISO 100, 1/1000s)

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One of my maples in July. It can’t decide between green and red.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @f/2.8, ISO 100, 1/190s)

And I forgot to mention, we have Red Cardinals in the area all the time, which are nearly impossible for me to quietly capture. August is a bit dull, really except the Dogwoods start to sprout bright red and green berries in clusters. In September the Dogwood leaves slowly start to change and the berries are mostly all red. One of my Japanese Maples is mostly green by September, with red veins and outlines, and the other is close behind.

 

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My dogwood trees are a gift which keeps on giving, year round.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 @f/1.4, ISO 100, 1/500s)

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A great first test for one of my lenses. Reds, yellows, blues and greens.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 24mm f/2 @ f/2, ISO 100, 1/640s)

We have one Encore Azalea which flowers, one flower at a time in September into October. In October the Hollies start to produce berries and the berries turn from a dull green to a bright red. And a new discovery I made this year are the porcelain berries. They are a welcome intruder. It will be hard for me to get rid of them. Of course October brings the yellows, browns, oranges and reds from the regular maples and the giant oaks we have in back. The dogwoods are the first to change.

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The first red holly berries this year.
(A77, Sony Zeiss 24mm f/2 @ f/2, ISO 200, 1/80s)

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The dogwoods changing. I just noticed the droplet on the branch near the left third at the top of the frame.
(A77, Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G SSM @ 120mm, f/5, ISO 200, 1/80s)

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The encore Azalea in October.
(A900, Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G SSM @ 2000mm, f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/60s)

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Porcelain berries!
(A77, Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G SSM @ 300mm, f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/250s)

I worry about having the same subjects, especially when I am shooting the same things in my yard. I can’t tell you how many shots I have of Azaleas, Dogwood flowers, leaves and berries, dragonflies, and so on, but I will say, it is better than me smoking and I can learn a lot by shooting the same things.

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These oak leaves don’t have long until they are in a pile my kids will be jumping in.
(A900, Sony 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G SSM @ 230mm, f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/30s)