Vermont: A Shout-out to Charity's Restaurant

Three weeks ago Laurie and I were up in central Vermont mid-week taking advantage of a deal through travelzoo.com.  For $99 we enjoyed a perfectly adequate room (I say "adequate" because it did not have a mountain view) for two nights and two breakfasts were included.  That's $99 total for two nights for two people.  You should check out travelzoo.

The hotel was the "Inn on Six Mountains" along  the Killington Ski Area access road.  I was pleased to see that the nearby Charity's Restaurant was still in operation. I frequented Charity's in 1972 when I lived most of a ski season in the neighboring town of Mendon.

I met the restaurant owner in the afternoon and was pleased to find out that he is the son of the original owner who build the place in 1971.  The owner was outside building this wonderful hay sculpture, of which there were many in front of businesses along the access road.

Charity's owner is on the left, armed with a can of spray paint.

The Pink Panther made with hay

That evening when we had dinner, it became quickly clear that Charity's formula for success was unchanged from when I remember it some 40 years ago.  The music was even the same:  Van Morrison, the Doors, Jackson Brown, etc.  And when I saw the menu with its list of burgers it reminded me that this was the first place I'd ever eaten a burger on an English Muffin.  We both couldn't help ordering burgers, though I decided I would be better off with a side salad than with fries.  (Fortunately for me, Laurie was happy the share her fries.)

Our food was excellent.  The fries were hot and crispy and the burgers were cooked the way we asked for them.  The bacon on my burger was cooked perfectly for my taste.  The only "con" as far as we were concerned was that the service was on the slow side.  Our waitress was very nice but disappeared for long periods in a restaurant that was far from crowded at the early time we were dining.

But, oh boy, did it bring back nice memories.

Burgers on English Muffins


Car Photography: My new interest - Part 2

In my Part 1 post, I reflected on how I used a standard zoom lens (Sony 16-50mm on a NEX-6) to introduce myself to car photography at my first Larz Anderson lawn event in Brookline, MA.  As I walked past all the beautiful cars during that first show I quickly began wondering what I might do with a shallow depth of field lens like my Olympus 75mm F1.8.  On an Olympus camera with its 2x crop factor, this lens give a field of view equivalent to a 150mm lens.

So, to the second weekend event I brought not only the Sony but also an Olympus E-M5 with its ugly but awesomely sharp silver 75mm lens.  I really like the creamy background I was able to get with these shots.  Out of focus areas can really make the subject of the image "pop".


Car photography: My new interest - Part 1

The last few weekends I have been attending automobile "lawn events" at the Larz Anderson Automobile Museum in Brookline, MA.  Each Sunday for six months there is a different theme; for example, "Swedish Day" or "Triumph Day".  At each of the four events I have attended so far this year, by the time you walk in the gate at 10 a.m. ($10 admission fee or $30 annual membership) perhaps 50 cars are parked and "displayed" on the lawn in front of the museum.

The museum doesn't own the cars.  They are privately owned and come from all over.  I saw one car with Ontario plates.  Many of them are show cars.  For example, last weekend I saw a 1959 Mercedes 190SL with 230 original miles on it.  Others, like some of the muscle cars I saw on another weekend, are definitely "driving" cars.  This was made obvious at the end of the show as muscle cars drove off into the sunset to the sound of screeching tires and deep-throated engines.

Anyway... I knew very little about car photography when I attended my first event.  I still don't know much.  I do recall starting out by taking documentation or record shots using my Sony NEX camera and the 16-50mm kit lens.  I was taking wide angle shots of the entire lawn area and images of single cars.  But I soon thought it would be more interesting to take pictures of people looking at cars (I secretly want to be a "street" photographer) or pictures isolating small closeup pieces of cars, like a wheel or name plate.

Starting with the second show, I added my Olympus to my gear and affixed a long lens with fast aperture.  The shallow depth of field pictures I was then able to take will be included in my next post, Part 2.

Wide angle shots at the top; closeups at the bottom
Sony NEX 6 with 16-50mm



A few more from our Maine Coast vacation

In two prior posts I included many of what I thought are the best images from our week's vacation in Maine.  After the fact, I determined that I like these five too:

[My full set of 18 images from the trip are posted altogether in one folder, and can be viewed bigger, on my Web site at: http://www.peterfraileyphoto.com/p385069449 ]

These seven images were taken in the neighboring towns of
Blue Hill and Surry, between 10:30 and 1:30 on Aug 23

Locking east from the base of Blue Hill in the town of Blue Hill

This is actually Blue Hill itself

Town of Surry

From Surry looking southeast toward Mt. Desert Island

I love small rural post offices.
(But it is no wonder that the USPS is running in the red)

View from East Blue Hill Road


My favorite NEX-6 image from Maine (with the 16-50 kit lens)

In my post yesterday I shared a few of the images I took on vacation, showing the extremes of the 16-50 E-mount kit lens.  What I mean by extremes is the 16mm and 50mm ends of the zoom range.

The picture below, taken in the center of Castine, Maine, is one of my favorite pictures from this trip.  I'm not much of a "street" photographer, so I felt very anxious as I lined up this shot, all-the-while thinking the man on the bench would turn and look at me, causing me to be completely embarrassed.  Well, even standing in the middle of the street, I got away with it.  I took the shot and quickly turned around.

I got what I wanted. On the left I wanted the gold lettered bank sign and entry door, and on the right side I wanted the one way sign.  I thought it was neat the way the man on the bench was looking to the right and at the empty bench, and the one way street sign was aiming to the left.

I don't think anyone I've shown this to noticed the reflection of at least one automobile in the bank window; it looks to me like a white Honda CRV.  I would have preferred that no cars be reflected in the window.  Oh, well.

This image didn't come up in Lightroom yesterday when I filtered for 16mm and 50mm images.  The exif file shows 46mm.

1/100th second, F6.3, ISO 100, 46mm (69mm-e)


Sony NEX-6 and Olympus E-M5 return from a Maine vacation

In a post I wrote before our week-long vacation on the coast of Maine, I remarked how my NEX-6 (with Jim Buchanan accessory grip) just feels more comfortable and fun to use than does my Olympus E-M5.  This preference for the NEX is in spite of the  higher spec (IMO) of the Olympus.

With this preference in the back of my mind, I selected the NEX with kit 16-50 to be my go-to setup for the vacation.  I completely dismissed the thrashing this lens has received on the Internet.

I took the Olympus E-M5, too, and snapped on the reg43 70-300 for long shots. You will see in boat, yacht, and schooner images below why a reach of 300mm (600mm equivalent when mounted on an Olympus) is beneficial.  The Olympus reg43 70-300 is a very useful lens, as it not only has a long reach but excellent close-up capabilities.

These pictures demonstrate the 70-300's flexibility.  (I don't know if the same is true for the Olympus m43 75-300.)  That being said, it is very slow and noisy to focus on the E-M5.

Olympus E-M5 with reg43 70-300

Coneflower shot at 149mm (298mm equiv.)

Focus was on the eyes. Shot at 202mm (404mm equiv.)

Crab spider stalking prey.  149mm (248mm equiv.)

Shot at 158mm focal length (316mm equiv.)

Shot at 300mm (600mm equiv.)

Shot at 239mm (478mm equiv.)

Shot at 239mm (478 equiv.)

 Sony NEX-6 with kit 16-50mm

As I wrote at the top of the post, the NEX-6 and kit lens was my go-to combo.  Other than the few shots above with the Olympus, the NEX was used for all the usual travel and landscape stuff.  I am very happy with the much maligned 16-50 E-mount zoom, though admittedly all but one or two will never be printed.  To me, if just viewing on a HD TV or computer screen is all you are looking for, just about any lens made today will be sufficient.

The 16-50 turned out to be a perfect range 3x zoom for my travel needs.  25% of my images were taken fully zoomed in at 16mm (24mm-equiv) and 25% were taken fully zoomed out at 50mm (75mm-equiv).  Everything else was spread out pretty equally throughout the range.

[If I could design a 5x zoom it would be a 16-80.  Others might prefer a wider angle instead of more telephoto capabilities, but I think a little bit of extra reach (60-80mm range) would be good for all the candid portraits I like to do of my grandchildren.  I am actually very excited about the newly announced (expensive) Zeiss 16-70 F4.]

Below are samples of the kind of compositions you get at 16mm (24mm equiv) and 50mm (75mm equivalent). Note that I tend to compose "loosely", which requires a bit of more exacting cropping in post-processing.

16mm (24mm equiv.)

Bass Harbor Lighthouse

Castine, Maine Post Office

Near Surrey, Maine

50mm (75mm equiv.)

The 16-50 performs nicely for closeups at 50mm.
Do you see the caterpillar camouflaged against
the lichen on the rock?