Seasons


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

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

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

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


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

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

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



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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.

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.

It was unseasonably warm last week, with temperatures in the upper 50’s and even 60’s. Tuesday morning was unusual, with moderately heavy fog all along Rte 27 running North towards Westminster. The mist changes the appearance of the familiar landscape, and the soft morning light makes for some excellent photographic opportunities.

As I drove along Rte 27, the mist slowly lightened until it was completely burnt off by the time I got to work. I stopped at several familiar spots along the way to take these pictures. I had the Sony A700, of course – with the Sigma 28-80mm still on it from last weekend’s hike along the Great Falls towpath.

The Sigma is an unusually light lens, and perfect for hiking. It’s no slouch when it comes to landscape and architectural photography either. On the Sony Alpha, the lens becomes a 42mm-120mm, which gives me enough flexibility for most landscape and architectural applications. Although I’d preferred top have a 35mm for street photography, 42mm is acceptable. Besides, a 42mm lens presents the world with a slightly better perspective than a 50mm, with no distortion at all.

The 2 close-up’s are included to show the macro capabilities of the Sigma 28-80mm.


Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning

Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning
Misty Morning

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Sigma 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 aspherical macro lens. Auto ISO, Cloudy 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.

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.

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