Classic Subject, Vintage Lens

Over the weekend, a very nice lady gave me an old Minolta Rokkor-TC 135mm f4 lens.  This lens is over five decades old.  It was a sunny day yesterday, so it was a good opportunity to test the lens on a classic subject.  It was off to Meadowlark Gardens for a quick lunchtime photo session.  The lens was attached to a modern Sony APS-C mirrorless camera.  Some pictures.

The lens is lacking in contrast compared to modern lenses; this is most noticeable when there is strong backlighting in the image. Focus peaking works quite well and the ability to magnify the area that I am focusing on is very helpful; unfortunately, I was concerned that the butterfly would fly away before I achieved optimum focus on the subject, so I some of the images are not as sharp as they could have been.

The images were sharpened, contrast added, vibrancy and saturation tweaked, and in the case of the featured image, I deleted “unnecessary” objects from the picture to isolate the flowers and butterflies.  I also had to extensively blur the backgrounds on the featured image and on the last image in the set.  Still, the lens is quite nice.  I am looking forward to using this lens for portraiture – it will probably great for that.

The old lenses are certainly worth trying out.  And as the 135mm f4 Rokkor-TC shows, they will be useful tools for decades to come.

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Early Autumn in Northern Virginia

With birds continuing to migrate southward in search of warmer climes, the number of birds in local birding hotspots have increased dramatically from their summer lulls.  The larger birds, such as the osprey, egrets and herons, many of whom made the mid Atlantic their home in the warmth of summer, have left or will soon be leaving.  Gone are the ospreys, the green herons, the little blue herons.  There are egrets and Great Blue herons milling about, but they too are diminishing in numbers.  The hummingbirds have fueled up for their trip south as well.  In a few days, these fleet flyers will be but a summer memory.

The warblers are back, at least for a few weeks.  The fall foliage makes finding these birds even more difficult for novice (or inexperienced) birders such as myself.  You will hear the rustling of leaves, a chirp or some other sound that betrays their presence, but even with such clues, fall colors meld with the faded colors of these birds.  Still, the challenge and enjoyment of finding these birds are undiminished.  The number of birding groups in the local nature preserves increase dramatically in the spring and fall migration season.  There is something calming about birds – a perfect tonic to the busy life we live in urban and suburban America.

I visited Huntley Meadows three times in the last four days.  The last vestiges of summer, in the form of an upsurge of warmer temperatures, have drawn out a bevy of revelers in the outdoor venues.  Children with their parents, their classmates on field trips – the happy noise brings a different life to the naturally quiet places that are in diminishing numbers in an urbanized America.  To hear a child exclaim their surprise in seeing a frog, a bird, a flower, a fallen leaf is to understand that within us all, it is this sense of wonder that must survive and thrive if we are to remain vibrant in mind and spirit.

Winter will soon be here.  The kingfishers will remain, as long as the waters do not freeze over.  The bald eagles roam the riverside.  The shovelers, the mallards, mergansers will be sharing the preserves with those of us walking the boardwalks in the frozen winds that will soon come.  Autumn leaves are falling.  In the changing season, the endurance of life is in full display.

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I came for the birds, but I kind of mist!

A beautiful, sunny, cool October morning was the catalyst for taking a short walk at Huntley Meadows Park in suburban Alexandria, Virginia.  Huntley is one of those hidden gems.  It has winding trails, woods, and wetlands, in a compact location in the middle of suburban Alexandria (the Fairfax County part), Virginia.  Fall migration is still in full swing, so this may be a good opportunity to get some decent pictures of our avian friends.

I made it to the open area, the marshy area that presaged the wetlands.  The birds were certainly singing.  I wanted to go further down the boardwalk, to the place where the belted kingfishers dwelt, but I stopped.  For forty five minutes or so I only walked an additional twenty five yards or so.  The culprit?

A heavy, morning mist, with the sun streaming down, on a small part of Huntley Meadows.  You can literally see the sunbeams, white mist, and a hint of color.   It looked interesting and bland at the same time.  If only there was a little bit more color on that scene.  Well, there was!  A little bit.  The dehaze feature of Adobe Camera Raw can do some interesting things.  And though the dehazed image was initially dull, one could see a hint of color in the image.  A delicate restoration of color information may result in an interesting picture.  After working with the contrast, sharpness, saturation and vibrance sliders, the following pictures came out.

 

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And as a bonus, a stalk blowing in the wind.

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The pictures came out with an “impressionistic” look.  Restating the title of this post, I came for the birds, but the light was right.