Black & White


I finally got around to visiting the GW Masonic temple in Alexandria – it’s a shame that I haven’t been able to get over there, since I work close by – but DC traffic is hard to deal with on any given day. I visited on Martin Luther King Day – since it’s a Holiday, there was very light traffic. However, it was COLD!

It was about 28 F at about 4 pm on Jan 21 – the wind chill must have been much lower, but I was inspired by the previous night’s game between the Giants and the Packers playing in -3F, -24 wind chill. If they can play in such severe weather, I should be able to get out and take a few photographs, right? After all, it would only take about 15 minutes. Brrrr.

This monument has been getting a lot of interest from the tourist crowd since it featured prominently in Nicholas’ Cages thriller “National Treasure” – since then, people have been adding it their itinerary when visiting DC, even though it’s a few miles away. On the bright side, they get to visit old town Alexandria and the cool shops on King Street.

I was using the Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 lens on the Sony A700 with the Bower Minolta AF-OM adapter – The lens is an apparent 52mm-105mm lens on the Sony Alpha, and it’s great for general photography and portraits. It’s also a good lens for Architecture as well – but only if you are able to stand back a reasonable distance.

For street architectural photography, I’d still recommend a 35mm lens ( in the case of the A700, it would have to be a 24mm lens to get the apparent 36mm equivalent). In this case, I lucked out since the temple has a lot of open space around it, even beyond the parking lot. It’s easy enough to get far enough back to get a decent full length shot.

At 4pm however, the front of the Masonic Temple is in shade. The rear and side were nicely illuminated. It’s advisable to go there in the morning hours to get a well illuminated front elevation shot.

GW Masonic Temple, Alexandria, VA

GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA
GW Masonic Temple, VA

GW Masonic Temple, Alexandria, VA
GW Masonic Temple, Alexandria, VA

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 DSLR and Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 lens with a Bower Minolta AF-OM lens Adapter. ISO 200, 1/125 at f/5.6



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olympus/zuiko by Ajoy Muralidhar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
text and images © 2008 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners. thank you for visiting olympus/zuiko.

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That’s my nephew Vasu – a real milk lover. I was cleaning my Olympus OM 2n, wiping it down after a hike when spotted him sitting at the dining table with a glass and gallon of milk. He didn’t notice I was photographing him until the last shot, when he caught me out of the corner of his eye. Natural light imparts a certain undefinable quality to pictures thats almost impossible to duplicate. These were in color, but I desaturated them since I liked the black and white effect much better with the milk theme.


Got Milk?
Got Milk?
Got Milk?

Photographed with an OM 2n and Panagor 90mm f/2.8 1/250 sec at f/5.6 on Fuji Superia 200 film


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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I finally got this great old camera cleaned up and replaced the seals. I loaded it up with 100 speed film and went shooting. I even did some low light photography with the superfast 50mm f/1.4 lens opened up to f/2. The TL-Super is one of the under-appreciated classics, in my opinion. (Matt Denton thinks very highly of it too, so I am in good company).

This was a pre-Contax collaboration era genuine Yashica design with a M42 screw mount, and like all Yashicas, had lenses designed by Tomioka. At this point in time, (1966) Tominon was not yet a part of Yashica, and although they made all the Yashica lenses, Tomioka was still designing and manufacturing lenses on contract for others.

Tomioka was absorbed into Yashica in 1968, right before the Yashica-Zeiss partnering on the Contax. They changed everything, except the quality. They dropped the M42 mount and designed the C/Y mount. But this post is about the TL-Super, not Contax, so…

My TL-Super has a dead meter – I think there’s a bit of gunk stuck in there somewhere gumming up the works and until I work up enough courage to take the top off, I’ll have to manage using the Sunny 16 rule. The battery isn’t a problem, though – easily available SR44 1.5V alkaline – one the first cameras to use this now common battery. Considering that this camera is from April 1966, that’s surprising since everyone used mercury batteries back then.

Here’s a mix of shots under different lighting conditions around Montogomery County MD. I desaturated the pictures from the park (sunny at the Xylophone) because they were taken in very low light conditions, and I liked the black and white effect better than the dull grays in color.

I as particularly pleased with the pictures I took at Great falls, with the Kayaker battling the current – I watched him try several times, get close, and then lose to the river. The Potomoc is practically running dry by late summer, all rocks and hardly any water falls – but still beautiful.


Great Falls
Great Falls
Sunny
Sunny

River
River
River
Great Falls
Great Falls
Canal Boat – Charles Mercer
Canal Boat – Charles Mercer
Canal Boat – Charles Mercer
Canal Boat – Charles Mercer
Canal Boat – Charles Mercer
Sunny by the Canal
Sunny – very close, aperture wide open. Bokeh

Neighborhood Pond
Neighborhood Pond
Sunny – Germantown Park
Sunny – Germantown Park
Sunny – Germantown Park

Photographed with an Yashica TL-Super, 50mm f/1.4 lens, Fujicolor 100, Polarizer in sunlight. Sunny f/16 rule, f/11 at 1/125, f/5.6 at 1/125sec. Last 3 photographs were at f/2 at 1/125


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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Light meters or Exposure meters were once an essential piece of equipment for any photographer, until the advent of in-camera meters and TTL metering.

We became spoiled, and worse, got used to accepting the “average” readings that the meters gave us, leading to photographs which were muddy grays, with no life in them… gone were the pristine whites and deep liquid blacks, and the fine gradations that characterized black and white photography in the 30’s 40’s 50’s and even the 60’s. With the in-camera meter, came the age of the drab grays… if you don’t believe me, look at older black and white pictures and you will know what I mean.

Then came color, and contrasts became less important – in fact, contrasty light which was previously ideal for textures that defined and dignified black and white photography was undesirable… and we became accepting of colors that weren’t true to life, and blamed the processor for the lack of brightness.

Honestly, I think there still a place for a light meter in every camera bag. Used meters are so cheap that there no real excuse for not having one – the solid well made feel of a rugged selenium (or for that matter CdS meter) is a pleasure to hold and use.

I’ve 3 of them – a direct reading GE PR-3 (when it works), a beautiful old GE PR-1, and a lightweight Weston Master 6. They all agree on within a 1/3 stop of each other, and the PR-1 and Weston 6 are spot on.

The Weston 6 was a little pricey, I must say, but still only cost a third as much as a comparable Gossen Lunasix. The GE Light meters are a real bargain – less than $10 most days on eBay.

When buying a light meter, remember that the older Westons used their own film rating scales, and not ASA – they are about a 1/3 stop off. Weston started using ASA ratings from the Weston III onwards. The Weston 4, 5, and 6 and the Universal meters are all good meters and worth having.

The crème de la crème, of course is the Weston Ranger 9, designed by Weston with Ansel Adams – for the Ansel Adams Zone system. The GE meters always used ASA ratings so they don’t need to be compensated.

I also have a couple of specialized incident light meters – a SPER Scientific that I’ve had for ages from my Grad school days, and a Gossen Panlux that I picked up recently really cheap from a scientific instrument seller . These are not really meant for photography, though they can be used in a pinch, if one has a reference table.


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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I drive by Krider’s Church Road every day on my way to work. I usually take Md Rte 97 North (Pennsylvania Avenue) after I cross downtown Westminster. Its a very insignificant road just past the intersection of MD Rte 140. No one would notice the little road leading west if it weren’t for the tall steeple of Krider’s Church which is visible for miles around.

I took these pictures during a a lunch break late in the winter, a couple of days after a snowstorm. There was lots of snow/ice on the ground, sunny with a lightly overcast sky. I used the OM-2n with a 50mm lens. It was very bright, so I stopped the lens down as far as it would go, and set the shutter speed at 1/250 second.

The paved road ends just past the Church and there is a narrow gravel road that links the few farms and homes to another paved road about a mile due west. This farm appears to be abandoned, so I got out of the car and walked over to where I could frame the shot with the trees. The huge roll of cable just begged to be photographed, bright orange against the white snow and blue-white sky. Ditto for the school buses.

Krider’s Church
Old Barn
Cable Roll
School Bus Depot

Photographed with an OM-2n, 50mm f/1.4, Fuji Xtra 200 film, 1/250 sec at f/16, Hoya 81A filter


I’ve photographed Krider’s Church before in summer, but in Black & White, with my OM-1. The Church is surrounded by a parking lot and a lush green lawn, both of which don’t reflect much light upwards to illuminate the brickwork. The overcast sky and snow and the ground acted like a giant softbox in the winter photograph above.

Krider’s Church – BW

Photographed with an OM-1, 50mm f/1.8, Ilford XP2 400 film, 1/250 sec at f/11; Tiffen Red 25 filter


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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I drive by Krider’s Church Road every day on my way to work. I usually take Md Rte 97 North (Pennsylvania Avenue in Westminster, MD) after I cross downtown Westminster. Krider’s Church Road is a insignificant little road near the intersection of MD Rte 140 and Rte 97 North, just before the Carroll County Regional Airport . No one would notice the little road leading west if it weren’t for the tall steeple of Krider’s Church which is visible for miles around. I’ve photographed Krider’s Church several times, in color and Black & White, in different seasons, and with several cameras. The Church is surrounded by a parking lot and a lush green lawn, both of which don’t reflect much light upwards to illuminate the brickwork. The snow pictures were different though… the overcast sky and snow and the ground acted like a giant lightbox in the winter photograph. The pictures with the OM2n and Ricoh 500G were taken just a few minutes apart, but the clouds moved in quickly, and I lost the blue sky by the time I took the photograph below.

Krider’s Church – OM-2N

Photographed with an OM-2n, 50mm f/1.4, Fuji Xtra 200 film, 1/250 sec at f/16, Hoya 81A filter

Krider’s Church – BW – OM-1

Photographed with an OM-1, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8, Ilford XP2 400 film, 1/250 sec at f/11; Tiffen Red 25 filter

Krider’s Church – OM-1
Krider’s Church – OM-1

Photographed with an OM-1, Zuiko 50mm f/1.8, 1/250 sec at f/16; Fujicolor 200 ASA

Krider’s Church – Ricoh 500G
Krider’s Church – Ricoh 500G

Photographed with an Ricoh 500G Rangefinder, (Fixed 40mm f/2.8 lens) 1/250 sec at f/16; Fujicolor 200 ASA


text and images © 2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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I visited the Empire State building again back in late September with my brother Sanjay. It was my first trip back to New York since 1998, and the post 9/11 security has ensured that it takes 3 times as long to visit the 86th Floor Observatory – because of this, people tend to stay there longer, savoring their visit… and as a result it gets really crowded up there. The lines of people waiting to get in snake all the way around the block. While I was waiting my turn to get in, and I took a few pictures.. and when I finally made it to the Observatory, I had to wait again, this time to get to the perimeter and a clear view of the city, I tried to get some pictures of the upper levels, the King Kong suite, so to speak. The camera was the Minolta, and I used my workhorse Phoenix lens with a circular polarizer. I had used Color film, but these particular shots turned out so monochromatic under the overcast sky that I decided to de-saturate the images to Black & White for better contrast. The upper levels are a forest of gray metal antennae, and color did not seem not capture their essence.

Empire State #1 – Street
Empire State #2 – Street
Empire State #3 – King Kong Suite
Empire State #4 – Perimeter
Empire State #5 – Lobby
Empire State #6 – Sanjay

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si, Phoenix 28-105mm f/2.8-3.8 lens and Fuji Xtra 200 film


text and images © 2006-2007 ajoy muralidhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.
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