Driveby


Early Spring is a great time to be out in the woods, especially on a sunny day – the trees may still be bare, but the forest floor is bursting with life… the under-story plants, shrubs and smaller trees rush through their flowering and leafing cycles quickly, to take advantage of the unrestricted sunlight – in a few weeks, once the trees leaf out, the canopy blocks off most of the light, and the small bushes go into the “quiet survival mode” until Fall when they get their chance in the sun again!

I’ve been out with the Sony Alpha 700 and the Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6. The choice of lens for woodland photography may seem surprising, but I find that the Tamron is very useful – the extended zoom range (the 70-300mm is equivalent to 105-450mm) on the Sony Alpha provides an useful stand-off distance so one can zoom in on an intresting flower or bud from a distance of at least 5 feet away without having to brave the underbrush and wicked looking brambles – the woods around here are chock full of wild raspberries and dog rose brambles. This also has the advantage of not blocking the light.

Besides, the Tamron 70-300mm is also a 1:3.9 macro, and since can focus down to 5 feet at the extended end of the zoom range, it does a great job. Moreover, I marvel at the fact that the Sony’s built in anti-shake allows me to handhold the 450mm equivalent lens. I would never have been able to do that with my manual Olympus bodies or even the auto focus Minolta 800si.

By the way, I purchased my Tamron lens about 8 years ago, back in June 2000 – I know they still make this lens, but I am not sure how the build quality has changed, or if it is still made made in Japan. I’ve always been very pleased with the Tamron, and even more so now…. with it’s super-zoom length of 450mm f/5.6 and equivalent when mounted on the Sony Alpha 700, it’s a formidable piece of optical engineering, and very cheap at the price. This is a true “cheap awesome lens”.


Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm

Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm
Tamron AF 70-300mm

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 lens. I used a Polarizer.



Creative Commons License
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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The sheer prodigality and variety of blooms in this part of the country amazes me – Spring in Maryland and Virginia is a cornucopia of beautiful blooms in succession and just when the dogwoods were peaking and the redbuds leafing out, I suddenly started seeing cascades of lavender-purple flowers tumbling over fences, drooping over country roadways – most of these are hard to photograph, since it’s hard to pull over in the heavy traffic conditions.

Even when one is able to find a good spot close enough to park and walk over, the lighting may be just plain bad. The subtle colors of the wisteria require just a bit of warming sun to bring out the purple, otherwise the flowers come out looking overly blue. The best time is morning or late afternoon light, when there is a tinge of red present…

The best way to ensure that the lighting is okay is to mark your spots, preferably where one can park safely for a few minutes and return at a later time when the sun is just right. However, one can get lucky, as I did a couple of days ago on my way back from work. I spotted these magnificent specimens on Glenview Road and on Travilah road in Gaithersburg, MD. I had the Sony Alpha with the Sony 18-200 and a polarizer, and the zoom range of the Sony lens allowed me take these without leaving the car.


Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April

Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April
Wisteria in April

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700; Sony 18-200mm f/2.5-f/6.3 lens; Polarizer.



Creative Commons License
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.

Mid-April is the time for flowering dogwoods and vast expanses of wild mustard growing in the fields all over Carroll County… later in the year, these fields will be planted with Soya beans or Corn, but for now, they are just a golden mass of flowers, gently swaying in the slightest breeze. The dogwoods are something to look forward to, as they appear just as the Cherry Blossoms and Magnolias are fading, and they are much more durable blossoms. April is also the time of heavy rainfall here in Maryland, and delicate blossoms like the cherry don’t hold up well. Here are some of the pictures I took in Gaithersburg, and along Rte 27 north of Mount Airy, on the road to Westminster, MD. Mostly flowering dogwoods and fields of mustard blossoms – and a few redbuds.


Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Redbud
Redbud
Redbud
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Pin Oak flower
Birch flower

Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Redbud
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Thistle
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard
Dogwood and Mustard

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Zoom lens. I used a Polarizer. Close-up of Pink dogwood photographed with a Sigma 50mm f/2.8 Macro 1:1 lens with Tiffen 812 warming filter



Creative Commons License
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.

The Kitstar 200mm is a lens that I acquired very cheaply on Ebay last year – it was an impulse purchase, really, since I knew very little about the lens other than it had a OM mount, and I was intrigued by its unusual maximum aperture. My intention was to compare it with my much smaller and lighter Olympus OM 200 f/4 prime lens, which I absolutely love. I had used this lens on a OM body last spring, and then put it away, meaning to get back to it sometime.

The Kitstar 200mm is a distinctive lens, easy to recognize. It’s all metal and the rubber covering of the focusing rings is reticulated, instead of being checkered as is usual. Kitstar was the in-house brand of Kit’s Camera and they had their lenses made on contract by various manufacturers, so its hard to tell who the original maker is. The lens is solidly built and comes with a built in hood.

I don’t know of any lens makers such as Sigma, Tokina or Tamron who made a f/3.3 200mm prime lens, so who knows? Maybe its a f/3.5 rebadged as f/3.3. Kits Cameras was bought by Ritz Camera, and is part of their family of stores. Since Ritz has it’s own in-house camera brand (Quantaray), the Kitstar lenses are no more.

On the Sony Alpha 700, the 200mm f/3.3 lens becomes equivalent to a 300mm f/3.3 lens – that is really fast for a 300mm, and considering the price I paid for it, about $25 or so, it is a bargain. The weight of the lens makes it tricky to handhold, compared with the Sony 18-200mm (also equivalent to 27-300mm, but much slower, since it only goes to f/6.3 at the 200mm focal length).

Anyway, I could easily mount the lens on the Sony Alpha 700 with the Bower-made Minolta AF to OM adapter and took the lens for a spin. Here are the results. The Alpha 700’s anti-shake capabilites makes hand-holding easier, but it was still a challenge to avoid blurring. The Kitstar 200mm (apparent 300mm lens) has nice bokeh.


Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm

Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm
Kitstar 200mm

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 camera body and Kitstar 200mm f/3.3 OM Mount lens- I used a Bower Minolta AF-OM adapter and 72mm Polarizer (67-72mm step-up ring)


Creative Commons License
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.

Ft. Armistead Park is a little out of the way location on the Chesapeake, quite close to the Francis Scott key Bridge. It has a great little boat ramp, and a brand new pier, and it’s hardly every frequented.

Getting to it is a breeze – From 95 to 695 south and then Exit 1 to Rte 173. Once off the ramp, a quick right and a left (watch for the jug handle) and a left again near Cookies Cityline Diner will put you right on the road to the park – no where else to go, really. By the way, if the mid-morning hungries hit, the Diner serves a great tuna half-sandwich and soup of the day with if you’re feeling like a light lunch, just enough to keep up the flagging energy levels.

This is a great location to photograph the FSK bridge… I spent a little over an hour there in the morning, between 9.30 and 11 am, and the lighting was great. I had the Sony Alpha 700 and the Sony 18-200mm lens with a polarizer to cut the glare.

There’s no beach, really, just a strip of sand by the pier, where flotsam and jetsam from the Bay has accumulated over time. I even found an old Computer Monitor washed up on the rocks. The driftwood was interesting, though. The ubiquitous broken glass was everywhere, too, but work smooth by the action of the waves and sand, making them beautiful too. The views of the bridge are spectacular, and there’s plenty of waterfowl – ducks, gulls etc.

The pier has been rebuilt anew, since the old one was lost during Hurricane Isabel a few years ago.


Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park

Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park
Ft. Armistead Park

And by the way, here are some pictures from Cookies Cityline Diner. The food is is great, prices reasonable and the service excellent.

Cookies Diner
Cookies Diner
Cookies Diner
Cookies Diner

Cookies Cityline Diner

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 DSLR, Sony 18-200 f/3.5-f/6.3 lens and Circular polarizer.



Creative Commons License
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.

These were taken on Bachman’s Valley Road – the old Meyer Farmhouse. The owners are in the process of restoring the buildings as much as possible, but it’s going to take a long time. The Farm is over a 100 years old, and all the barns and outbuildings are in fairly good condition, but the exterior could use some preservative and paint. I took these pictures on the way back from Union Mills. The light was tricky, overcast, but with patches of sun shining through.


Meyer’s Farm

Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700, Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7



Creative Commons License
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.

A few days ago, I had my Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 lens mounted on the Alpha for some family pictures. (The lens is a 75mm equivalent on the A700, and thus serves as a very fast medium telephoto lens ideal for framing ‘head and shoulders’ shots, especially effective indoors for Available Light photography. I’ll be posting some of the “candid” portraits in another post soon). Anyway, I was out in Carroll County, and driving up on Rte 97 north when I came upon the Union Mills Homestead and Grist Mill.

I’ve documented my use of the Minolta 50mm f1/7 as a landscape lens on my 35mm AF Minolta Dynax 800si elsewhere on this blog since I’ve had great fun with the Minolta 50mm lens in Colorado and other locations. Now that the Minolta is an effective 75mm, its still great for landscape and building photography, especially for capturing architectural detail – it’s a challenge if there isn’t much room, though.

I would recommend a 28mm or 35mm lens on the Sony Alpha for close-up architectural work. For old farmhouses and general scenery where you can step back far enough, the 50mm (75mm) is a fine choice, especially in low light conditions.

These photographs were taken at Union Mills Homestead, just off MD Rte 97 in Carroll County. Union Mills dates back to the 1790’s and has many stories to tell… being on the way to Gettysburg, it saw its share of Union and Confederate activity. You can read all about Union Mills Homestead here. I got to the site late in the afternoon – it was clearing up after a storm, and the post rain sunlight coming through the clearing clouds was bright and clean. Everything had a just-washed clean look.


Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Across the Road from Union Mills
Across the Road from Union Mills
Union Mills Homestead

Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead
Union Mills Homestead

Photographed with the Sony Alpha 700 and Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7 lens, ISO 200, Skylight filter under a sunny/cloudy/post-rain situation



Creative Commons License
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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