Rivers & Streams


Colonial Beach is a little town on the Virginia side of the Potomac River, about 60 miles south of DC… it’s the second longest beach in Virginia (Virginia Beach is the longest). The town was founded in 1892, and served as get away for the residents of DC in the early years of the 20th century, especially in the years before the Great Depression. It was a favorite holiday spot, and it grew and thrived until the coming of automobiles and other transportation – vistors preferred to come on day trips, rather than leisurely vacations as before, and this led to the waterfront hotels closing down.

The town limped along, losing population and businesses until the 2000’s. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, Hurricane Isabel pretty much destroyed the little waterfront town in 2003. The residents are a resilient bunch – they picked up the pieces and rebuilt again. The housing boom brought some prosperity, with developers taking interest in the town. However with the current bust in housing, the city may see some hard times again, but I hope it will recover easily.

The beach is a great place for a family visit.. it’s clean, and with good amenities – parking, restrooms, restaurants, beach shops etc are all located very conveniently, and there is even a Days Inn located right on the beach for overnight and weekend stays. Nancy’s Ice Cream is closeby, and I recommend the Chocolate Ice Cream soft cones.

This past Saturday 4/19 was beautiful, bright and warm in the 80’s so we drove down to Fredericksburg on I-95 and then east on Rte 3 until we got to Rte 205. We followed Rte 205 all the way to Colonial Beach, it’s easy to follow the signs. My daughter Sunayana had been asking to go to the beach since it started turning warmer, and we could not have asked for a better day to be at the waterfront.

I took the Sony Alpha 700, and after some deliberation, I took the Sony 18-200mm lens as it’s the perfect all-occasion lens, and fitted with a Tiffen Polarizer, perfect for beach and water photography. I took along some other AF and manual lenses, and never got around to using them. We got there in the late afternoon, and found parking under a large Willow oak just a hundred feet from the water.

The Sony 18-200mm SAL18200 is a pretty versatile lens, especially when you want to travel light and are reasonably sure of good light levels. It’s equivalent to 27-300mm in the 35mm format, and the huge zoom ration it affords pretty much covers any situation. The lens is a bit slow at the fully extended part of its zoom range (It ranges from f/3.5 at the wide end and f6.3 at the 200mm focal length), but on a bright day, it doesnt matter at all, since we’re generally shooting at much smaller apertures (f11 to f13) with polarizer.

Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA

Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA
Colonial Beach, VA

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 DSLR and a Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 lens and Circular Polarizer. I used the landscape setting and Auto ISO, with Sunny White Balance.



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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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.

Earlier this summer, I as testing my Toyo 500mm lens, happened to stop by at the Lady Bird Johnson Park off GW Parkway. The Navy memorial is located at one end of the park. Park affords a great view of the Washington Memorial and the Jefferson Memorials across the Potomac river. The other lenses I had that day were the Zuiko 200mm f/4 and the Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 and the reliable old Olympus OM-2. I figured it would be a great to be able to compare the lenses, so busily switched lenses for these shots – the early summer evening ensured that there was lots of light on the Memorial buildlngs, but most of the Potomac river was in shadow. It was a challenge to handhold the Toyo Fivestar 500mm lens for the shot of the Washington Memorial. Next time I’ll remember to lug a tripod along.


Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 at 35mm
Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 at 70mm
Zuiko 200mm f/4
Zuiko 200mm f/4
Toyo 500mm f/8 at f/11
Toyo 500mm f/8 at f/11
Zuiko 35-70mm f/4 at 70mm
Zuiko 200mm f/4
Toyo 500mm f/8 at f/11

Photographed with an OM-2, Zuiko 35-70mm f/4, Zuiko 200mm f/4, Toyo Five Star 500mm f/8. Film was Fuji Superia 400, and exposure was calculated with the Sunny 16 rule. Exposure for all 3 lenses was 1/500 at f/11, using a Polarizer.


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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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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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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On this last trip to Colorado, I has planned to drive out into the mountains in the evenings after work. My goal was to make it out to Estes Park, near the entrance of the Rocky Mountain National Park. I did make it there, but it started raining heavily, and my plans to photograph Estes lake and surrounding areas was a bust.

I did manage to get around though. On the advice of a colleague, I took Pearl Street west to Canyon Road, and drove out of town meaning to get a closer look at the rocky outcrops just outside of Boulder, CO. I’d originally intended to drive out to the famous Flatirons, but it was late by the time I got out of the office, so I settled for the shorter drive.

Canyon Road runs alongside Boulder Creek, and is very picturesque. I have to commend the City of Boulder for all the parking available by the roadside, practically every couple of hundred yards. I pulled over at a couple of places, and just sat by the beautiful rocky stream. Here are some of the pictures. I got the smooth effect on by shooting the stream at 1/8 of a second at f/11 with a polarizer. I didn’t have a tripod, so I braced myself on a nearby rock.


Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon
Boulder Canyon

Boulder Creek 1/8 sec at f/11
Boulder Creek 1/125 sec at f/11
Boulder Canyon

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si, Maxxum 35-105mm and Tamron 70-300mm lenses and Fuji Superia 400.


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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