Monday, May 23, 2011

Robin, rain & raindrops

I've been angling to get a nice, close bird photograph or two in recent weeks while on outdoor outings and had no real luck until this weekend. During one of the downpours Sunday, I caught a glimpse of a robin perched on a fence between my home and a neighbor's, so I grabbed my camera, stepped outside as quietly as I could, and managed to get off three shots before the robin flew away. All three shots were very similar; the one above is a slight crop of the first one, and the one below is a tight crop of the same frame.

I also grabbed some raindrop shots, which are included below the robin.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A closer look at rocks

One of the neat "finds" or "gets" -- photographically speaking, I mean -- in a recent photo shoot on private acreage west of Bloomington were the various rocks and rock formations in the northern fringe of the state's massive limestone shelf. Being on the fringe, the rocks and formations were quite modest, but ... detectable and photographically delectable nevertheless.

I showed a few rock-related pictures in a previous post. This post is dedicated to presenting those and all the others I captured that day, thanks to a fellow member of the Indy Meetup Photo Club, whose cousin owns the 100+ acres in the tiny community called Stanford.



Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tamron delivers the goods
in new 18-270mm PZD VC lens

A lens with a relatively slow variable maximum aperture has to be loaded with advantages and features to get me to even consider purchasing it. I've been looking for the ideal do-all, light-tote lens for spur-of-the-moment and/or one-day travel outings for some time, and Tamron recently put the answer to my quest on the market in the 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens ($650). I was fortunate to make the decision to buy on the final day of a $50 mail-in rebate, softening the wallet lightening a tad.

The lens is an upgrade of Tamron's previous 18-270mm that is equipped with a traditional auto-focus motor. The new model -- designed for APS-C sensor cameras -- has the novel PZD (short for piezoelectric drive) technology as well as upgraded vibration compensation (VC) technology that effectively makes this a more compact -- and lighter (15.9 oz.) -- lens that covers an expansive 15x focal range.

To top it off -- and this was the clincher for me -- Joe Farace, who reviewed the lens in the June 2011 edition of Shutterbug magazine, says the improved VC technology was so astute, he was able to not only fire the camera hand-held at 1/8 of a second and get sharp shots, but also to fire off three hand-held auto-exposure bracketed shots as slow as 1/8 second -- and still get sharp images. Wow ... being able to shoot HDR without having to worry about packing my tripod each and every time? It got my attention, and I took the plunge. I've been very open to Tamron products; Tamron's 28-75mm f/2.8 lens has been my primary walk-around since summer of 2007. And even though the 28-75mm was made primarily for full-frame camera users in mind, it has served me and my two Canon APS-C sensor cameras well; I just get more effective focal range (because of the 1.6x multiplier) for my millimeters.

The photos you see in today's post were all HDR treated shots -- three auto-exposure bracketed frames melded into one in Photomatix -- taken using the Tamron 18-270mm PZD lens Monday evening in the two hours or so before dark, my first test drive of the new lens. And yes, all of these bracketed shots were hand-held. Needless to say, I'm ecstatic.

The lead photo (at the top) of the dense cloud formation through which a bit of the lowering sun found an opening to splay these unusual ray patterns, was taken on the western fringe of Garfield Park, looking over over the Manual High School campus (right).

Several variations of the scene appear in subsequent photos below, including a monochrome conversion of a scene similar to the one above. In two instances (near the bottom), I provide two versions of the same scene of the main entrance to the Garfield Park Arts Center -- one treated through the exposure fusion option of Photomatix (the more realistic "look"), the other treated with the tone-mapping option (the more artsy, painting-like veneer).


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rain wouldn't go away, so ...
we simply dealt with it

At first, it didn't seem to make sense to drive to Bloomington from Indianapolis for an outdoor photo shoot on a day that forecasters were promising yet more rain, extending what has seemed to be an unending string of extraordinarily wet spring weather. But that's just what I did Saturday, even though I don't own any serious weather-protection gear for my equipment, nor do I have rain-repelling outerwear.

My plan at the 100-acre private property, opened to members of the Indy Meetup Photo Club by a relative of one our members, was to bring along my umbrella for protection during any drizzle or light rain, limit my gear options to just the lens on the camera (I picked my mid-range Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8) and head for the house for cover if any rain reached downpour proportions, even though there could very likely be an extensive haul to that house if I happened to be anywhere near the outer perimeter of those 100 acres.

There was rain during the several hours we were out and about, but except for some very short spurts, it never got too heavy to warrant getting out of it. I used some of the opportunity to pursue photographs of leaves and flowers -- and even an umbrella -- adorned with raindrops. There were also mushrooms, rock formations, critter paw and footprints, trees and logs (including heinous-looking thorns on one tree), mud holes, interesting vistas, and a puddle large enough to surrender a nice reflection shot. We saw no critters except for Joey and Friday, the host family's two dogs.