Flowers


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.

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.



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.

Early Spring and late Fall are my favorite times of the year for woodland photography. It isn’t because it’s cool and pleasant to be in the woods, but because there are no leaves on the trees then, and it’s the only times of the year that the forest floor gets enough light photograph the little critters, mushrooms and other fascinating organisms that live and die in the rich ecosystem of the forest floor.

In spring, before the canopy greens out and cuts off the light, the typical eastern US woodland has lots of tiny flowering plants with exquisite blooms. These are so small that you’d need to use a macro lens to get a decent sized image and see the detail.

Once the dense overhead canopy fills out, the forest floor gets very little light, so there’s not much in the way of flowers, but there are bugs and beetles galore, strange fungi, lichens, molds, mushrooms everywhere. The problem is finding enough light to take the picture. I’ve used a regular flash in the past, but the effect was always weird and unnatural looking.

To use natural light, I needed fast film ISO 400 etc AND a longer exposure, which needs a tripod. That pretty much limits hand-held photography to taking pictures of rocks, rotting leaves and mushrooms. Little forest critters move pretty quickly, vanishing under leaves and twigs like magic.

A few months ago, I found a Yashica Dental Eye camera with a fixed 50mm f/4 macro lens and a built-in ring flash. It was in great condition except for some very minor traces of battery leak corrosion. I took a chance and made the purchase, with the intention of returning it if I could not get it to work.

I cleaned out the battery compartment with a cotton bud dipped in white vinegar, and that was all there was to it. The camera works fine now, and the 50mm f/4 macro lens is a 1:1. This was the original Dental eye camera based on a FX3 body, I think – the later Dental Eye cameras have the suffix Dental Eye II and Dental Eye III, and they have a 100mm Macro lens. Check out the Micro/Macro section for more information on the Dental Eye.

This is a GREAT camera for woodland photography, and the possibilities are endless. The built in ring flash is powered by a battery pack that is fixed on the bottom of the camera (looks like a motor drive, but it’s not). Most of the Yashica cameras from this era have crumbling leatherette covers.

Mine started off fine, but now it looks patchy in a few places. This is purely a cosmetic issue, and should not deter anyone from buying the camera, especially if you can get it in full working condition with case for less than $100. I guess I will be replacing the leatherette soon.

The ring flash provides an even natural looking light. I’d swear it was daylight if I didn’t know better. There is a small supplementary lamp within the flash to provide some light for focusing. I think I will be using this camera a lot. I ran off a roll in the nearby woods along side a small stream. I really didn’t go looking for subject matter, since I was just running a test roll. This camera is a keeper. Here are some of the pictures…


Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye

Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye
Yashica Dental Eye

Photographed with a Yashica Dental Eye camera (fixed 50mm f/4 1:1 macro lens and 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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On the last day of my conference at Baltimore, I lugged along my autofocus Minolta Dynax 800si with the Phoenix 28-105mm lens. This road is leads to Harbor East, which is the former warehouse district. Most of the grungy old buildings have been torn down, and it’s being developed into a vibrant business and commercial area.

Two blocks further down, you can still see some of the remaining warehouses, they are really decrepit, and the neighborhood is generally rundown and boarded up. No trees, just concrete sidewalks, uncared for streets and no place you’d care to stop. I walked through that area one afternoon looking for a decent place to eat, and ended up walking 3 blocks back to the edge of Little Italy. I can recommend Petalos Restaurant for their fine salad.

To anyone who believes all development of older city areas is bad, I’d recommend that they walk along Pratt Street in Baltimore, and go past the ritzy hotels to the older, undeveloped areas, and tell me if they still feel the same. What I am against though is the tearing down of older housing to make for multiple residential complexes, and shopping places filled with the same old coffeeshops.

I wish cities would encourage more diversity in the commercial areas, and make it possible for the smaller artisan shops to afford a location in the newly developed areas. Would be like adding a bit of spice to otherwise bland fare.


Harbor East
Harbor East
Harbor East
Harbor East

Additional pictures of the Inner Harbor area

Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor

Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor

Photographed with an autofocus Minolta Dynax 800si, Phoenix 28-105mm f/2.8-3.6 zoom lens, Fuji Superia 200. I used a Tiffen 812 filter in the shade and a Tiffen Polarizer in the sun.


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 Honeywell Repronar 805A slide copier was made by the Heiland Division of Honeywell. The camera is an Asahi Pentax with fixed bellows lens 50mm f/4, mounted on a bellows rail with a rack and pinion mechanism for advancing the lens or the camera body. There’s more on the Honeywell Repronar in the Macro photography section.

Although the whole camera assembly is mounted on a vertical stand with the lens pointing down towards the stand base – there is a flash strobe built into the base for copying slides and such. Once upon a time, this was standard equipment for most professional labs and school photography departments.

These days, as schools and colleges close down their photography departments; I’ve been noticing these items come up on EBay and going pretty reasonably. This is a heavy beast, and the shipping will cost almost as much as the item itself.

The Repronar comes WITH the camera and lens, so what’s not to like? Also, the camera is a very early BLACK Pentax SLR without a prism. It comes with a waist-level viewfinder (actually, eye level, when the camera is mounted on the Repronar base.

The real beauty of this system is that it has a scale device attached to it which makes setting for different magnifications very easy – the magnification range is 1/2x, 2/3x 1x, 2x, 3x and 4x. Just set the required magnification, fine focus and fire away. Using the flash is simplicity itself. Turn on the flash switch in the base, make sure the camera sync cord is connected and fire. The camera assembly can also be dismounted from the base and used as a bellows mounted camera provided you can stabilize the system horizontally.

Although the system can be used for transparent and semi-transparent subjects (flower petals, insect wing details etc) with the built in flash, the Repronar really comes into its own as a Macro system if you can get enough external lighting to the mounting platform. The best way to do this is to take the whole thing outdoors and place it on a table in open (sky illumination or in sunny situation. Mornings are best. All that remains is to set the magnification and provide sufficient exposure.

The problem with macro photography with the bellows and small apertures is getting sufficient image forming light. High magnification coupled with a reasonable depth of field means using extended bellows lengths, and small apertures. I was using Fuji 100 film for greater resolution and set aperture for f/16 for maximal depth of field.

There’s no light meter or TTL metering on the Repronar, so I tried to use a chart and then tried to figure out the exposure factor to compensate for the reciprocity failure. Finally I went with common sense, and the Sunny f/16 rule. Sunny 16 rule says that for 100 ASA, I’d need a 1/125 second shutter speed at f/16. Allowing for the light loss, for 1x magnification, I figured doubling the time to 1/60 second would give me the correct exposure.

Since the Repronar is designed to always work with the Flash, I figured it probably syncs at 1/60th second fixed, so the exposure would be correct for 1x magnification at least. For magnification greater than 1x, I decided that I’d set the Pentax camera to B and guesstimate the exposure length. Since at 1x magnification, the fixed 1/60 sec at f/16 would be sufficient exposure, I used 2 seconds for the 2x, 3 seconds for 3x and 4 to 5 seconds for 4x magnification. The guesstimates turned out fine, as can be seen from the images. Next time, I may use a Weston 6 Exposure meter. Or maybe not.


Tulip Tree leaf, Leafminer Trail 1:1, Flash mode
Tulip Tree leaf, 1:1, Flash mode
Dogwood leaf, 1:1, Flash Mode
Dogwood leaf, reversed, 1:1, Flash Mode
Carpenter Bee Wing, 2:1 (2x on film), Flash Mode
Pin Oak Acorn, 2:1 (2x on film), 2 sec at f/16, Daylight
Cucumber Flower, 2:1, Low Flash Mode
Cucumber Flower, 1:1, Flash Mode
Cucumber Flower, 2:1, Flash Mode
Crushed Chili Pepper, 1:1 (1x on film), 1/60th sec at f/16, Daylight
Crushed Chili Pepper, 2:1 (2x on film) 2 sec at f/16, Daylight
Crushed Chili Pepper, 3:1 (3x on film), 3 sec at f/16, Daylight
Crushed Chili Pepper, 4:1 (4x on film) 4 sec at f/16, Daylight
US Quarter, 1:1 (1x on film)1/60th sec at f/16, Daylight
US Quarter, 2:1 (2x on film), 2 sec at f/16, Daylight
US Quarter, 3:1 (3x on film) 3 sec at f/16, Daylight
US Quarter, 4:1 (4x on film) 4 sec at f/16, Daylight
US Quarter, Obverse 3:1 (3x), 3 sec at f/16, Daylight
US Quarter, Obverse, 4:1 (4x) 4 sec at f/16, Daylight
Ghostly Chile Pepper flower, 1:1 (1x) 2 sec at f/16
Nasturtium flower, 1:1 (1x) 2 sec at f/16

Photographed with a Honeywell Repronar Asahi Pentax Camera, 50mm f/4 Bellows lens, Fuji 100 film at f/16. Exposures as indicated in captions. Flash mode photographs used the built in Repronar flash in the base of the unit. Morning light was used for daylight pictures.


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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