Events


Ever since the first signs of Spring, I’ve been out with my cameras, not wishing to lose any of the magic of the Great Annual Awakening of Nature. Maryland’s topography is so varied that even though it is such a small state, Spring arrives early in the southern part of the State, especially around Chesapeake Bay and the lower Potomac – almost a full month before it arrives at the Northern regions – near the Pennsylvania border. The rolling hills and valleys of Carroll county are decidedly cooler than DC and the annual cherry flowering takes place almost a week after the Tidal basin flowering

This year (2008) the the Cherry Blossom Festival kicked off on Saturday, March 29 – the flowers began blooming a couple of days before that, and on the 29th, it was close to approaching the peak – and it was 50 degree weather the next few days are likely to be cold and rainy, and we’ll lose a lot of the blossoms. I’m hoping that the flowers last until next weekend. The Festival itself runs until April 13th – but I’m afraid the flowers may be all gone by then. Here are the flowers.. as usual, it was a family trip, but we got separated looking for parking, and never caught up with the other car (which, incidentally, had our picnic lunch). My group ended up snacking at the refreshment stall behind the Jefferson Monument. I was able to walk around a bit under the trees, and here are the pictures. The crowd was very heavy on Saturday.


2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival

2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival
2008 Cherry Blossom Festival

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700, Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 SAL18200 lens at Landscape setting and Auto ISO. I used a polarizer. The Shutter speeds ranged from 1/320 second in the Sun down to 1/50 second in the shade Here are the rest of the pictures.



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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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The Thunderbirds were the closing act the the Joint Services Open House Air Show at Andrews Air Force Base. This year the Airshow was held May 18-20th. The 18th was only for Defense Personnel and Contractors, the 19th and 20th was for the general public.

The arrangements were superb – everyone had to drive to Fedex field, park there, and take a bus to Andrews. The organizers had arranged for so many buses, that no one had to wait for more than a few minutes. In fact, it took longer to get through the security checks.

The Marines doing the checks were firm and polite and kept folks moving. Food was not permitted, but they let me take my camera equipment. At Andrews, I continued to be impressed at the impeccable arrangements – the Airplanes neatly laid out, the clean Portable Toilets, the numerous food concessions for every taste, the drinking water tanker tenders strategically located. They even had facilities to wash hands after visiting the portable toilets. Imagine that.

To get the best view of the Thunderbirds, I made my way to the front, as close to the runway edge as possible. I used the Tamron 70-300mm lens and Fuji 400 Superia film. By the time Thunderbirds were in the air, the hazy sky had cleared up. I was lucky to get a clear view of the flyby zone. Since I was shooting at 300mm, I had a narrow field of view, and had to track the planes for a few seconds as they flew by to get the shots. Next time, I’ll probably be able to anticipate better.


Air Force Thunderbirds
Air Force Thunderbirds
Air Force Thunderbirds
Air Force Thunderbirds
Air Force Thunderbirds
Air Force Thunderbirds
Air Force Thunderbirds
Air Force Thunderbirds
Air Force Thunderbirds
Air Force Thunderbirds
Air Force Thunderbirds

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si camera and Tamron 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6 lens on Fuji Superia 400 film. The exposures were between 1/750- 1/350 second, at f/5.6 to f/9.5


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 to go to the Joint Services Air Show at Andrews Air Force base this year. I’ve heard about it for years, and the fine photographic opportunities. Besides, where else could you get a chance to see a F-35 Joint Strike Fighter up close? The Thunderbirds were scheduled to perform as well, and I heard that there would be a bunch of old warbirds on display as well.

I was debating on what camera equipment to take, since it was my first time at a real air show, finally played it safe and took the Minolta Dynax camera with the Phoenix 28-105mm for the wide shots and since I really wanted to get close to the action, I also took along the Tamron 70-300mm and lots of Fuji 400 speed film.

The Airshow was back in mid-May, but I haven’t had a chance to post all the pictures I took – the Thunderbirds will have to wait for another day. The remarkable thing about this airshow is the level of access – how close one can get to operational warplanes from all the services. The organization is another thing altogether – I think they take it to another level. The transport arrangements were fantastic, everything was like clockwork. Truly amazing.


JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007
JSOH 2007

Here are the pictures of the Vintage war birds. Seeing them side by side with todays sleek aircraft makes it even more amazing.

Vintage Warbirds
Vintage Warbirds
Vintage Warbirds
Vintage Warbirds
Vintage Warbirds
Vintage Warbirds – that’s my Sunny admiring the Dinosaur Airplane
Vintage Warbirds
Vintage Warbirds
Vintage Warbirds

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si and Phoenix 28-105mm f/2.8-3.6 and Tamron 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6. I used a a Polarizer and Fuji Superia 400 film. It was very sunny, so the exposures were all approximately 1/200-1/250 second at f/13


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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More pictures from the Cherry Blossom festival – these are from my backup camera. I had taken the Ricoh 500G along. It’s small and unobtrusive, and good for close quarters street photography. I was using Fuji Super HQ 200 film in the Ricoh, and I used the Sunny f/16 rule for the exposure – basically 1/250 second at f/16 for the most part.


Cherry Blossoms – Ricoh 500G
Cherry Blossoms – Ricoh 500G
Cherry Blossoms – Ricoh 500G
Cherry Blossoms – Ricoh 500G
Cherry Blossoms – Ricoh 500G
Cherry Blossoms – Ricoh 500G

Cherry Blossoms – Ricoh 500G
Cherry Blossoms – Ricoh 500G
Washington Monument, street photo- Ricoh 500G

Photographed with a Ricoh 500G Rangefinder (40mm f/2.8 fixed lens) and Fuji Super HQ 200 film. 1/250 sec at f/16



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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This year the Cherry Blossoms peaked between April 01 – April 04. It was a beautiful day when we visited on Tuesday April 03, when the flowering was at it’s peak. After the dull and dreary winter, it would be more apt to name it the “Cheery” Blossom festival instead.

It was slightly windy at the Tidal Basin, just enough to blow some petals off – up in the high 70’s. A very bright and sunny day with lots of people around. It was hot later in the afternoon, and the Popsicle and cold beverage vendors were doing a brisk business.

No one minded the heat though, since everyone knew what was coming – the weather reports had called for rain and heavy winds later in the week, and nothing is as bad for the flowers as heavy rain and wind – the petals get knocked off or are blown away. It’s not very comfortable either, too cold and windy to be outdoors.

It seemed as though all of DC was at the Tidal basin that afternoon. I guess everybody who could get away made it to the Tidal Basin that day. Besides, it was a working day, and it’s very probably that people who work in the Government offices around the Tidal Basin would have all taken their lunch out there, or just taking a walk.

The weather went bad by Thursday, so people who had been planning to visit DC that weekend lost out. It’s been cold and rainy since then, and the trees have long since lost their flowers and leafed out. It’s still cold in the DC environs… very unseasonable for this time of year. Up here in Westminster, the Cherry Blossoms and dogwoods are still blooming.

I took the family, of course…. We visited Cherry Blossom Festival for the first time last year, and it literally took our breath away. We made a resolution right then to return every year as long as we lived in the DC area  We got there around 11 am, and were lucky enough to get parking right at the Tidal basin lot, close to the Washington Memorial.

I had originally hoped to get there early in the day to take advantage of the morning light. The late morning/early afternoon sun casts a very flat light, and that washes out colors and makes everything look flat and lifeless. I didn’t have much choice, though.

I had taken my Minolta Dynax 800si with a 28-105mm general purpose zoom lens with a Polarizing filter. I was using Fuji Superia 400 film with the camera, since last year was cloudy and overcast – this year, it was so bright and sunny that a 100 ASA film would have been ample. The polarizer served as a 2x neutral density filter as well, slowing down the film enough to shoot at around f/13. For these photographs, I used the landscape and portrait settings.


Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si and Phoenix 28-105mm f/2.8-f/3.5 AF lens fitted with a Tiffen Polarizer. The film was Fuji Superia 400. I shot at f/13 at 1/350-1/750 second and used the Portrait and Landscape settings.



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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Hyperfocal distance focusing (also known as Universal Focus) is that distance setting which maximizes the depth of field for a selected aperture. To understand what this means, we should define some terminology first – critical focus and circles of confusion. Bear with me here… although we can jump to setting and really using the hyperfocal distance setting, it would be good to understand the basic principles.

When a normal helicoid design lens is focused, there are no abrupt steps – rather, it is a continuum where the subject image being focused starts off blurred, and as the focus ring is rotated, the image slowly becomes clearer and clearer until it reaches the point of maximum clarity, and then, if the photographer continues to rotate the focus ring, the clarity begins diminishing slowly until the it becomes blurry and unfocused again.

In this continuum, the point of maximum clarity is the point of “critical focus”. On either side of this point of critical focus there is a region of “acceptable clarity” where the image appears reasonably sharp to the eye. This portion of the focus continuum where the image is acceptably sharp is the “Depth of Focus” for that lens.

If we imagine the continuum as a series of circles that reduce in size, at the point of critical focus, the circle is smallest and the image is sharp and clearly defined, as we move away from the critical focus, the circles slowly become larger, until the subject becomes blurry and then totally undefined. At that point, the circle is the largest. The correct name for these circles is “circles of confusion”. Years ago, manufacturers provided the minimum circle of confusion data for their lenses – for example 0.03mm etc.

Normally when we focus, we point the camera lens at a subject and rotate the lens focusing ring until the object is in critical focus. We are now guaranteed that the subject is now clearly defined, but what of the surroundings? Depending on the aperture setting, have differing depths of field. When we wish to focus at an object at a distance, we rotate the lens to the ∞ setting. Again, our depth of field is determined by the aperture setting.

If we choose a small aperture – f/16 or f/22, we are assured that we have a large depth of field, but a lot of the depth of field may be used inefficiently. We need to remember that the DOF is distributed unequally. 1/3 of the DOF is in FRONT of the subject, and 2/3 of the DOF is BEHIND the subject. If we are focusing on a subject at infinity – only 1/3 of the depth of field is really utilized, since everything behind the subject is already in focus by virtue of the ∞ setting.

What we can do to optimize depth of field is to set the critical focus at a point in FRONT of the subject, such that the subject is close to the far end of the depth of field. In short, we position the subject such that the maximum depth of field occurs in front of the subject, and a small portion occurs behind the subject. If we ensure that the infinity setting occurs just behind the subject, then every thing beyond that will ALSO be in focus.

If all this isn’t enough to digest, we also have to remember that distance to infinity (∞) for each lens varies – for a wide angle lens, ∞ setting could be just beyond 6 feet, and for a long focus lens, infinity settings could occur hundreds of feet away.

So much for theory. So how is this useful? Where can we use this?

As an example, let us assume that for a particular lens, the ∞ setting is around 30 feet, and we are focusing at a subject at just 30 feet away. If the lens is rotated to the infinity setting, the subject is clearly in focus, and we go ahead and take the shot without a second thought. Let us also assume that the possible DOF for this lens is 24 feet. From the previous discussion, we know that 1/3 of the DOF (8 feet) is in front of the subject. The 2/3 remaining DOF (16 feet) is unused, since everything beyond 30 feet is in focus anyway.

In the above shot, everything from 22 feet onwards will be in focus, but everything else between the photographer and 22 feet will be blurred. If we had set the lens at it’s hyperfocal distance instead of at ∞, the depth of field would have been fully utilized, with everything from 6 feet in front of the photographer to infinity being clearly in focus. What a difference!

In the above example, suppose we had been photographing a street scene. Or perhaps we were out trying to photograph a bunch of kids playing a pick-up neighborhood basketball game. Trying to critically focus on a particular subject would end up wasting a lot of time, and lots of blurry photographs. Street photography has to be quick, and opportunistic, and thus is a perfect application of hyperfocal distance setting.

Combine this with the Sunny f/16 rule, and we could just concentrate on the action, without worrying about metering, lighting, foregrounds, backgrounds, or what’s in focus and what isn’t. Every shot will be clear and in focus.

Despite all the mind-numbing theory we just covered, in actual practice, using hyperfocal distance couldn’t be easier. We just have to remember a couple of things — It’s best when used with a moderate wide-angle or normal lens (28mm, 35mm, 50mm etc). 24mm lenses have a very short ∞ setting anyway. Be sure to pick a lens that has a depth of field scale marked on it. Most of the older lenses have them. Modern AF lenses don’t generally have DOF markings, but there are calculation tables available. They’re cumbersome and not intuitive, but hey, it’s better than nothing. Here is a link.

The following steps assume that we are using a manual focus SLR like an Olympus OM-1, a Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 lens and 200 ASA film. It’s a sunny day, and we are out photographing a noisy and colorful summer street festival. Since it’s bright and sunny, let’s go one step further and use the Sunny f/16 rule as well.

Step #1 — Since it’s a sunny day, and we are using 200 ASA film, we will set the aperture on the Zuiko at f/16 and the shutter speed at 1/250 (sunny f/16 rule for a bright day with clearly defined shadows).
Step #2 — Once we have selected the aperture, everything falls into place. The same steps will be followed if we were selecting f/22 or f/11 or whatever.
Step #3 — Rotate the focus ring until the infinity ∞ mark is at the f/16 mark on the DOF scale. The distance indicated at the red index mark (5 meters about 15 feet) is the hyperfocal distance at this aperture.
Step #4 — Look at the distance indicated at the f/16 mark on the other side of the DOF scale – this is half the hyperfocal distance ( 2.5 meters or about 8 feet). At this setting, everything between the distances indicated between the f/16 index marks on the DOF scale will be in focus ie, between 8 feet and ∞.

The photographs will clarify the above….

Lens focused at ∞
Lens focused at 3m
Lens at hyperfocal distance 5m (DOF ranges from 2.5m
to ∞ and thus encompasses both 3m and ∞ in
previous examples)

Thus we can be assured that everything on the street from 8 feet onwards (about ½ a parking space length) will be in focus, and we can be free to enjoy the action without fiddling around with the focus ring. Remember that filters will require additional aperture compensation when using the Sunny f/16 rule. If we are using a polarizer, the setting should be f/8 or set the shutter speed to 1/125 sec.

As far as lenses go, I have written this with the Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 prime lens as an example, but the best part is, any decently built normal or moderate wide angle will work as well as a hyperfocal distance lens – Zuiko, Vivitar, Kiron, Quantaray, Panagor, Sigma, Soligor, Albinar, whatever… just as long as it has a depth of field scale and can be stopped down to at least f/16. A short zoom can be used as well, if it has a depth of field scale. You’ll find it’s far easier with a prime lens.

If we choose not to use the Sunny f/16 rule, it’s even easier, since the camera’s TTL meter will compensate for the filters and indicate the correct shutter speed. Just set the aperture at f/16, and then follow steps #3 and #4. We simply adjust the shutter speed to what the meter advises, stand back to ½ the indicated hyperfocal distance point (8 feet) and shoot.

The same thing applies if we are using an OM-2. OM-PC or other camera that has an Auto setting. Set the aperture at f/16 or f/11. Rotate the focus ring as described in step #3 and let the camera set the correct shutter speed, stand back, and shoot. The hyperfocal distance will change for the larger apertures (f/11 and f/8) so we may not have as great a depth of field as at f/16. If you have to use filters, then shift to a 35mm or 28mm lens, for the greatest depth of field at the wider apertures needed.

Let the Summer street festivals begin!


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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The original Olympus Trip 35 was one of the most popular cameras ever made, and it is a beautiful piece of engineering. It is a fixed focus automatic camera that permits the use of film of only up to 400 ASA, and has a maximum shutter speed of 1/500 second. Manual aperture settings are possible, but only when using a Flash.

As one gets more familiar with the Olympus Trip, the few limitations it has seem trivial. In fact, it seems to possess all the qualities that make for an ideal street camera, especially since it was designed as a ‘visual notebook’ that could be carried anywhere, it is particularly suited for street photography.

Against the few limitations, consider these great features:

# It has a superb, professional quality Zuiko 40mm f/2.8 lens.
# It’s a moderate wide angle – so it can focus close, and has a great depth of field. The 40mm is a good compromise between 35mm and 50mm, and has no distortion.
# It is Automatic in function for daylight photography
# It does not need batteries, so no need to worry about the camera dying in the middle of the action
# It has a rugged all metal body, and can withstand rough use, like being tossed in a backpack
# It has a thumbwheel instead of the traditional cocking lever – its easy to operate with one hand, since the thumb can cock the shutter after every shot, even when carrying something in the other hand.
# thumb wheel allows the Shutter to be re-cocked without moving the camera from the eye. This allows the photographer to focus on the action instead on the mechanics of the camera film transport mechanism.
# It’s size and weight make it easy to hold, and it feels solid and steady.
# It is nearly silent, except for a soft click when the shutter is released, and a soft whirring when the thumbwheel is operated while cocking the shutter for the next shot.
# The camera back is cut away at the bottom so that the film cassette can be just dropped in instead of having to angle it in. This makes for quick and unobtrusive loading.
# It has a threaded lens ring, so it can take a screw on 43.5mm filter, since the CdS cells are located around the lens, any filter is compensated for. (I like using a yellow filter – ideal for Black & White photography)
# It can be mounted on a tripod, but a lightweight monopod is even better – its small, so the monopod is easy to hold, and it does not take up additional space. The monopod also makes a fine walking stick.
# Best of all, it is unobtrusive – no big glass lenses to stick into peoples faces. The camera can be easily concealed until needed against the body or in a jacket pocket.

And that’s not all — there is one other aspect of the Olympus Trip 35 that convinced me that it was DESIGNED for street photography.

I am referring to the Trip’s focusing mechanism. The Olympus Trip 35 belongs to the class of cameras that used a paradigm called Zone Focusing (or “guess focusing”) as their primary focus setting mechanism. The Trip 35 is automatic, so the shutter speed is set by the camera depending on the light conditions sensed by the bubble glass light meter surrounding the lens and the film speed. If the light is insufficient, a red flag will show up in the viewfinder, and the shutter button will not fire. (see photo below)

Zone focusing is a pretty simple concept – for daylight photography, the photographer sets the camera shutter ring to A (auto), and rotate the zone focusing ring to the desired distance setting. The Trip 35 has 4 zones – these are identified by little icons that represent subject distances. The icons are a head & shoulders, person and child, group, and mountains, which indicate 1m, 1.5m, 3m and ∞. The numeric equivalents for the icons are etched on the opposite side of the zone focusing ring.

Zone Focusing – Note the red icon (3m)
Distance scale (opposite side of focus ring)

The photographer simply guesses the approximate distance of the subject using the representative icons, and sets the particular zone icon desired. The Zone system is pretty forgiving, and it doesn’t matter if the guess isn’t very accurate. If a Flash unit is used, the Zones are set as usual, but the Aperture ring is moved off of A to the desired aperture setting depending on the Flash Unit used and the Subject distance.

Flash Aperture settings on Trip 35
Red Flag (insufficient light alert)

Here’s the kicker. The 3 meter icon (Group) is actually marked in RED. I did not understand why for a long time, but one day it hit me. For the 40mm Zuiko lens, 3 meters represents the distance at which a group of people can be photographed full-length, with their surroundings – as in street photography!

I’ve been asking around, and apparently other Zone Focusing cameras had the same type of marking. It seems apparent to me now that for street photography, all one needs to do is load up with some 200 or 400 ASA film. rotate the Zone focus ring to the Red icon, and shoot. The depth of field afforded by the wide angle lens will ensure that everything from 3 meters (approx 10 feet) to infinity will be in focus… so it’s “set and shoot”. Literally.

Note: I am suggesting faster film speed since this will prevent the insufficient light flag from preventing a shot in shadowed areas..

Check out another 40mm f/2.8 camera with similar features, but full Manual capability – the Ricoh 500G Rangefinder
Here’s more information on the Olympus Trip 35


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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