Thanksgiving Photos Through An Underwhelming Lens

We had a nice big group of family for Thanksgiving at our house. Its no longer possible to have four generations present, and there’s some sadness in that.  But three generations were well represented, and the youngest generation is gaining in numbers!  

The 20 pound Butterball turkey was cooked (as always) on a charcoal Weber, and it was its usual success.  And with everyone contributing their favorite recipes (Laurie prepared a signup sheet earlier in the month), you can imagine the assortment of good food we had.  Not the least of which were the four desert pies!

[By the way, one advantage of cooking the turkey on the grill is that it frees up the oven!]

Turkey day photography:

In preparation for the day, I put together three combinations of cameras. 

Left to right: In my opinion, the best quality images can be expected to come from the Olympus E-M1 and 12-40 F2.8 zoom.  Next in image quality would be, arguably, the Sony A6000 with 28-70 full frame kit F3.5-F5.6 zoom.  And bringing up the rear (on the right) is definitely the Sony NEX 5R with the very compact and marginally sharp 16-50mm F3.5-F5.6 kit lens. All were equipped with flashes capable of bouncing.  (If a flash doesn’t bounce I won’t use it indoors.)

I mention all of this about the cameras, because in spite of having my best gear available, I nevertheless always picked up the last one on the list, the Sony NEX 5 with kit lens.  Looking back to Thursday, I can only conclude that all things considered at the time it was the best combo for the job.

That might be hard to imagine, but clearly getting the best image quality was not an overriding concern.  All these cameras and lenses take images that are “good enough” to document our Thanksgiving celebration. The Olympus and a6000 would have given better image quality, but who cares.  The Olympus with the F2.8 lens could have given me the shallowest DOF, but who cares.  The Olympus flash can bounce left or right, or rearward; but I didn’t want to think about that.  You see, I was just making snapshots. The results will be viewed on computer screens, or on cell phones or tablets… or, on this blog at no bigger than 750 x 600 pixels! I suppose I could have just used my iPhone camera but I felt its equivalent 30mm wide angle lens was too limiting.

So, because image quality was not my number one priority, I went with the smallest and least intrusive of the three combos.  I find even with family members that the smallest camera keeps things informal and casual. This is especially true when using a flash.  Keeping the camera and waist or chest level also helps, as people these days are accustomed to that sort of photography.  

It would have been nice to avoid a flash altogether, but I needed the extra light.  It allowed me to get the ISO down from 3200 (ambient light) to 1600, generally.  I could have increased the flash output further to decrease ISO further, but at that point things start to look a bit unnatural (i.e. the deer in the headlights effect). Neither of my Sony’s have a silent shutter.  The Olympus does.  But since I was using a flash, a silent shutter would not have helped me be stealthy.

Again, the images below are all snapshots.  These shots and a bunch more I haven’t shown here will help us remember who was with us this year and what we ate. (Always take a lot of food closeups... so you can easily recall the menu items from prior years.)

The first image below is my favorite.  


The Parmachene Belle: A Slip-Wing Variation of this Classic Fishing Fly

This variation of the original Parmachene Belle is a slip-wing style tied by my friend Alberto, using a recipe found in the fly-tying book Forgotten Flies by Paul Schmookler.

Apparently, the original pattern goes back to the mid-1870's and is named after Parmachene Lake in Maine. It was designed to imitate the fin of a small brook trout. (From Terry Hellekson's book Fish Flies.)

Photo technique:

For this image, I used the focus stacking feature available with my Olympus E-M1 camera and 60mm Olympus macro lens.

This feature results in eight images focused at different distances (think of a CAT scan) and then the sharpest areas of each image are combined in-camera to give the result you see here.  The combining process takes just a few seconds.  Otherwise, it would take a considerable amount of time (15 minutes perhaps) to do this by hand with any of the several software programs available, including Photoshop.

The result is essentially an increased depth of field. Think of the process as combining eight images captured at eight focusing distances at 1mm increments.


Fall Reflections: An October Week in Maine

Another great trip to Maine has come and gone.  October is such a nice time to visit the coast of Maine. The crowds have disappeared, with some notable exceptions, like Mt. Desert Island. The nights get a bit cool, and we found that in the evenings we kept the antique wood stove stoked with hardwood. We had no rain during our one-week trip, and I even found myself longing for some wild skies to make photographs more dramatic.

Dramatic or not, I've included here a selection of images.  They are low resolution files for blog posting.  Higher resolution files can be viewed on my photography website, here:



Staying Warm

Lobsterman's Chair

Popham Beach

Popham Beach


Farmers' Market, Bath 



Lobster Roll at Sprague's, Wiscassett

Four chairs with a view


Ladies enjoying chowder and sandwiches


From Cadillac Mountain



1954 Packard Senior Convertible

This beautiful example of a 1954 Packard Senior Straight 8 is owned by  Dave Terricciano.  It's one of only 863 of this model built, and one of 73 still registered. The engine is a 356 cu.in. 212 horsepower "Straight Eight".

I took these photographs on the lawn of Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA during a lawn event called “Extinct Cars”.  

The photos below are small size, low-resolution files for blog posting purposes.  Larger files and a total of 22 images can be viewed on my website, here: