Photo Technique


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.

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.

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.

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.

A couple of weeks ago, I had posted a series of photographs I made with a Sigma 24mm f/2.8 in a little park in Westminster, at the intersection of Bond Street and Green Street. The Sigma 24mm is an effective 36mm lens on the Sony Alpha 700. I wanted to try a 28mm lens (42mm on A700). I took along my lightweight Sigma 28-80mm (42mm-120mm in 35mm format) and shot from the same locations as with the 24mm, and a few others. It wasn’t as cold as the last time, and I could loiter a little while longer without freezing my poor hands.

When I left the park, I turned onto Green Street and photographed a couple of the historic homes. I ended up close to McDaniel College, so I grabbed a few shots of the school buildings, as well as the corner of Main and Union Street. Here are the pictures with the Sigma lens set up – these were taken on Wednesday morning with the same lens.

The Sigma is truly a versatile lens, and has a macro capability down to 1:2 as well in case you need it. It’s one of those lenses that you tend to ‘fit and forget’ since it seems to feel so natural.

Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster – Sigma 28-80mm
Warfieldsburg Rd

Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm – Green Street
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm – Green Street
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm – McDaniel College
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm – McDaniel College
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm – McDaniel College Gateway
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm – Union St and Main St
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm Kridder’s Rd Church
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm – Warfieldsburg Road
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm – Rte 27 Ridge Road
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm – Rte 27 Ridge Road
Westminster, MD – Sigma 28-80mm – Rte 27 Ridge Road

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Sigma 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 aspherical macro lens. ISO 200, Cloudy white balance. 1/80 at 28mm and 1/160 at 80mm (The Sigma is 42-120mm in the 35mm format equivalent)



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. dhar. all names, websites, brands and technical data referenced are the copyright or trademark of their respective owners.

I headed off to the Great Falls park last Saturday (02/02/08) to hike along the river and photograph the falls. It was beautiful out there… about 50 degrees – perfect hiking weather, although the trails and towpath were still muddy. I was carrying my Sony Alpha 700 and 2 lenses – a Sigma AF 28-80mm and the Tamron 70-300mm. The Tamron was for closeup views of the raging waters. The Sigma is a recent acquisition, and I was trying it out.

It’s still early in February, and we’ve already had a lot of rain in Montgomery county – the average rainfall for February is about 2.85 inches here, and by the 2nd, we already had about 3 inches… which means, every stream in the county is overflowing and that the Potomac is running full already. Normally, we’d have to wait until the Spring thaws.

Since my intent was to photograph the falls, I did not mind lugging along the heavy Tamron, but on my way over there, I was thinking about the most desirable characteristics for a hiking lens – good zoom range, rugged, light, cheap, close up capability etc. At the same time, the optical characteristics of the lens should be good enough that you don’t regret the quality of the pictures when you get back.

The more I thought about it, the Sigma I was carrying seemed to be the perfect fit. After all, it had a zoom range of 28-80mm, which is a 42-120mm on the Sony A700. Besides, it has a plastic body, which makes it lightweight. Great optical quality with multicoated aspherical lenses, very cheap so it would not matter if it was damaged or lost – and it has a 1:2 Macro capability, for those occasional very close-up shots of interesting grass or moss or little critters that I might come across.

I would have liked at least 35mm at the wide-angle, but I’ve found that in the open woodlands and hilly areas of Maryland , even a 50mm is sufficiently wide, since one can always step back a few paces to include more of the scene. The Sigma 28-80mm definitely qualified as a Cheap Awesome Lens. Some may complain about the “cheap” build quality – it’s plasticky – but one can’t fault it optically for the price.

The 1:2 macro capability is only at 80mm f/5.6 (120mm f/5.6 on the Sony Alpha 700) and is is a matter of moving a switch on the lens from Normal to Macro position to lock it. Now, f/5.8 is pretty slow, I was able to get decent images even at 100 ISO. I’m not complaining, since I can always increase the ISO to compensate. However, in Winter, with no overhead tree canopy and bright sunlight, it beats carrying an extra lens for the rare occasion one might want to take a real close up.
Here are some of the pictures at the Falls and along the Towpath. The river is very impressive this week.


The Tamron is a beast on the Sony Alpha 700 – it’s equivalent to 105mm-450mm and fairly fast for such a large focal length f/3.5 at the shorter end, and f/5.6 at the 450mm end. Fast enough to handhold at 100 ISO on a bright day. It’s a macro lens as well, and goes to 1:4 along the entire focal length range, which is pretty impressive. This is another Cheap Awesome Lens.Tamron 70-300mm– Potomac River and Towpath.


Potomac River

Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River

Potomac River 1/5 sec exposure
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River

Sigma 28-80mm – Potomac River

Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River 1/5 second
Potomac River 1/5 second
Potomac River
Potomac River
Potomac River

Sigma 28-80mm Canal and Towpath

Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath – macro
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath

Sigma 28-80mm Great Falls Tavern

Tavern
Tavern
Tavern
Tavern
Tavern
Tavern
Gate at Widewater
Great Falls

Sigma 28-80mm – Great Falls Tavern

Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern
Great Falls Tavern

Sigma 28-80mm – Canal and Towpath

Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath
Canal and Towpath

Sigma 28-80mm Macro Photos (approx 8-10 inches)

Sigma 28-80mm macro
Sigma 28-80mm macro
Sigma 28-80mm macro
Sigma 28-80mm macro
Sigma 28-80mm macro

Tamron 70-300mm


Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls

Tamron – Wildlife

Wildlife
Wildlife
Wildlife

Tamron

Lichens on Rock
Lichens
Wildlife

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 28-80mm f/3.5-f/5.6 Aspherical Macro 1:2 and Tamron 70-300mm f/3.9-f5.6, ISO 100, 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.

Anyone ever hear of D.O. Industries? I had never come across any lenses from them until I suddenly ran into this little beauty on EBay, going really cheap. It seemed to be an enlarger lens, but it had what appeared to be a T-mount type threaded mount. A quick email ( an even quicker response from the seller) confirmed that the diameter of the threaded end was indeed 42mm, so I took a chance on it and picked it up, since I was looking for a 135mm lens that would fit on my Spiratone Bellowscope.

I already have a nice Spiratone 150mm f/4.5 bellows lens, but I’m the curious type, and more than that, the name of the 135mm lens intrigued me. The lens itself is small, and solidly built – probably 4 element (maybe 6). Not sure if it is coated. The body looks old and appears to have seen much use, and the paint has faded, but nice glass. It was probably a workhorse lens on someone’s enlarger for many years. It even came with the retaining ring, which is rare these days.

I did a little bit of research on D.O. Industries, and here’s what I came up. Apparently they were an importer and distributor for Fujinon lenses, and they also sold lenses under their own name (rumor has it that D.O lenses are made by Fuji. The optical quality certainly seems to bear that out).

D.O. Industries was started by a gentleman by name David Goldstein in 1972. The company is still around. They are now called Navitar, and you can read their timeline here. I’m glad they’re still around. They seem to be doing well in the current digital era with new imaging products. Innovate, Evolve or Die, right? The photography marketplace is pretty ruthless, with old-timer companies closing down almost every day.

In case no one’s noticed, practically every 3rd party lens company had names ending with –AR. It seems to have been vogue with photographic companies back in the day. You see products with names such as Vivitar, Albinar, Astranar, Rokunar, Lentar, Kitstar, Macrotar and so on. I’ve often wondered why.

When I tried to fit the lens to a T-mount, I noticed that the thread, while being very close, was just not right. It seemed to be more like 41mm, but the pitch was OK. I got around this by wrapping a piece of light cotton sewing thread on the lens thread, and it works just fine. Curious. As long as it works, I am happy.

The advantage of using a longer focal length lens on the bellows is that it permits a longer “stand-off” distance. A short focal length lens (35mm, 40mm or 50mm) can give greater magnification, but the focusing distance is very short, which means that the light is cut off drastically, and one has to use supplemental lighting. The longer focal length bellows lenses (75mm, 135mm and 150mm) can focus from 18 inches to as far as 3 feet away, which lets a lot of ambient light get to the subject. Besides, there’s room for the tripod legs if the subject is 24 inches or more away.

Since I was trying out this lens indoors, I just used a pedestal lamp with the Sony’s WB setting to Tungsten lamp. I used a Auto ISO setting. The exposure was 1/5 to 1/8 second, and I was able to stop down to f/8 to increase the depth of field. If I were outdoors in natural sunlight, I would have used 100 ISO and a smaller aperture.

The tripod permits the longer exposure without shake. To avoid inadvertent camera shake during release, I used the Sony’s self timer setting (Drive Mode button, and then select self timer 10 seconds). This ensures that there is minimal shake. The Sony doesn’t have mirror lock-up, but it’s superbly damped. The mirror return ‘snap’ doesn’t seem to affect the image in any way.

For subjects, I used some of my wife’s traditional jewelry. Without more ado, here are the pictures

D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700

The Bellows mounts to my Sony Alpha 700 with a standard Minolta AF-T mount adapter, and the whole thing goes on a cheap Velbon tripod. Nothing special. Here’s the setup.

D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700 Setup
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700 Setup
D.O. Industries 135mm f/4.5 on Alpha 700 Setup

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 DSLR, D.O. Industries 135mm Emlarger lens (Fuji??) fitted on a Spiratone Bellowscope. Auto ISO with Tungsten light WB setting. Exposure was 1/5 second and 1/8 second at f/8 from a distance of about 24 inches. I used a Velbon Tripod.


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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