A few July flowers w/ 90mm macro lens

I took these images about two weeks ago, before the heat wave.  Bet they're long gone by now.  I hope to get back to Tower Hill Botanic Garden as soon as we get a hazy but cool day.

These were taken hand-held with a Sony NEX6 camera body and a manual focus Tamron 90mm macro lens. With this "old" lens on the Sony body there is no image stabilization.  However, when shooting outdoors like this I like to use 1/200th second shutter speed to freeze any slight subject motion.

On the image immediately below I used the small Sony HLV-20AM flash (Guide number of 20) along with a small bounce card to spread the light. A bounce card used out-of-doors loses lots of light.  But when you are close as I was there is still plenty of light deflected toward the subject.  I used the maximum sync speed available (1/160th second).  This turned out to be fast enough to freeze the fly (but not quite the wings) of the fly/bee in the lower right corner.

Note the little flying insect in the lower right, caught in mid-air.
I saw him (her? it?) fly into view as I was pressing the shutter.

Bee on Poppy

Cone Flower

Day Lily


A nice day on the Millers River

Just before the terrible heatwave we have just concluded,  I had an chance late one morning to do a little fly fishing on one of my favorite rivers,  the Millers River, especially the area that flows near Rt. 2 near the town of Erving, Massachusetts.  I always take along one of those little water resistant compact point-n-shoot cameras whenever I am out fishing.  In this case the camera was the Panasonic TS3.

The image quality from the TS3 are nothing really to "write home about".  The sensor is way too small but that's really no big deal as the shots I take with it are really just "record" shots.  For that purpose the quality is good enough.

These first two images below were taken with the TS3.  In both cases I was standing knee deep in the river.

The two images below were taken with the Sony NEX-5R.  This is a really nice little camera with an APS-C sensor.  It was equipped with the 16-50 kit zoom.  It's my "keep in the car" camera. The images it creates are generally a couple of steps "up" in quality compared with the little Panasonic TS3, but on images posted to a blog "the difference doesn't make a difference" in my opinion.  This is especially true when there is plenty of light, as there was on this day.

Taken from the bridge in Erving, MA


On The Way Home [2013Jul24]

There was a lot of nasty weather yesterday.  The day ranged from torrential rain with dark low storm clouds, to bright sunshine and dark blue sky, to rain while the sun was shining.

While driving home yesterday afternoon I stopped along the road to take two dramatic pictures.  The first one, viewing into wetlands, was taken with the camera aimed east.  I was attracted to the dark wet dead trees offset by the low clouds in the background. The second image was taken from the other side of the road, with the camera aimed west.

What I had with me was the NEX6 with Nikkor 56mm F1.4 lens attached.  I set the aperture ring to F8, set the ISO to 100, focused manually, and let the camera choose the shutter speed.  No EV compensation was needed.


Backyard Macro Safari [2013#1]

The backyard macro safari happens from time to time when I get home from work and need a little "shutter therapy". [I hope my friend Robin Wong doesn't object to me using a phrase I think he coined.]  I basically grab my camera and walk around outside looking for something to photograph.

Since there are no spanning vistas to photograph in my backyard, I will throw on a macro lens and look for something small.  I often end up with a few bugs. I call this exercise a safari because when photographed "up close and personal" bugs look awful scary and prehistoric and wild... but are actually quite beautiful and amazing creatures (critters?).  And you don't even know they are there, unless you decide to go "on safari".

There is danger involved, just as there is with any safari.  This time of year, as you hold your camera motionless, trying to lock focus while holding your breath, squadrons of mosquitoes will execute their well designed attack plans. The ensuing battle can be rather bloody, and it becomes very difficult to concentrate and to aim your camera accurately. The best sniper tactics are required.  During this last heat wave (seven days!) I found on most evenings that "discretion was the better part of valor" and I would make a hasty retreat to the safety of the house after getting off just a few shots.

It is for these reasons that the results of this last safari were rather meager, though I am happy with the dragonfly pictures.

I used two setups for these images: (1) Sony NEX6 with Tamron 90mm macro and (2) Olympus E-M5 with 60mm macro

That's a yellow crab spider on the left.  They love little
flies like the little black one that seems to be in his sights.
Crab spiders lay in wait for prey.  They do not make web nets.

Japanese beetle, as any gardener would know.

Dragonfly with prey

I believe this is some kind of nasty wasp.
It measures about 1.5" and burrows in the dirt.
(Right next to the front door!)

Another dragonfly with prey

Next time I will try to focus on the beautiful wings,
rather than the eyes.


Sony NEX does blue awesomely

I am a big fan of blue.  In the 1950's I fell in love with my Dad's Kodachromes.  Most of the ones I remember where taken in the American West as we drove through the National Parks on our way to his new job on the West Coast. I remember nothing but sunny days. Ever since viewing his slides from Yellowstone, Bryce, Death Valley and Yosemite, I have loved deep blue sky and puffy clouds.  He never did use Velvia, but when using Kodachrome he taught me to under expose by about 1/3 (or was it 2/3) stop to bring out the richness of the sky.  Of course, the rest of the slide looked underexposed, but I don't think I really noticed.  Today, with digital, I am more likely to ignore his advise and to "expose to the right".

I am very picky about the color blue.  If you swing blue one way you get a magenta cast.  If you swing it the other way, it gets a bit green.  I don't like either.

On this day, I was thrilled with the results I got from the NEX.  For the images in this post, I used the NEX5r with the 16-50 kit lens. I used no filters. I own the NEX6 also, but as far as I can tell the results are identical.  I used the Lightroom landscape sharpening preset for each of them, and the first image (the only vertical image)  has a +.4 EV lightroom exposure adjustment.  I used the default color profile (Adobe Standard).  Some of the images have been cropped.  On several I used the shadows slider to brighten up the dark areas.  Other than that I did nothing in post processing.

There's nothing great about any of these images.  They were all taken yesterday along the highway while doing a day trip to Vermont to see our brand spanking new grandson.  The weather here in New England has been terrible in my view.  We are in a heat wave and the humidity is torturous.  So spending the day in an air-conditioned car and an air-conditioned hospital was a good coping strategy.  Obviously I had a camera with me for the baby, but I just couldn't help taking a "sky shot" whenever we stopped.

I am looking forward (not today) to comparing these results with what I get from my Olympus E-M5.  I know there is an entire cult of Olympus jpeg fans who say the Olympus blue is unique and spectacular.  However, I shoot RAW, and as far as I know Olympus has never shared its color profile with Adobe.  So, I am left with what I can do in Lightroom and Photoshop.  I have created my own color profile using ColorChecker Passport, but it is almost identical to Adobe Standard.

By the way, like many, I have found viewing online photos with Internet Explorer yields poor results.  On my monitor (which is calibrated), Internet Explorer makes the sky too green.  It is too saturated.  Others have said that this phenomenon occurs only when the viewer has a high gamut monitor (which I do.)  But regardless, I find that Chrome gives results that are color-accurate.


As the saying goes, "your mileage may vary".  But to me, this is what blue should look like.  No green tint.  No magenta tint.