Waterscape


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.

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.

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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We were at Mt. Vernon a few weeks ago, in late Spring, before it really got hot and humid. It was a family outing , about 15 people altogether, including a bunch of kids. I had Sunny with me, and the Olympus Trip 35 (In addition, I had the Minolta Dynax 800si, but I’ll post those pictures later). It’s been a while since I took one of the Trip 35 cameras out with me – that’s because the little Ricoh 500G rangefinder has been in my daypack, and I usually just grab my pack and go.

Not this time – I made sure I had the Trip with me. It’s amazingly convenient – I wish the digital pocket cameras were as simple and rugged. In addition to all of this stuff, I was dragging a rolling insulated cooler filled with cold beverages for the family. I had no idea that the paths around Mt. Vernon were not paved, so I ended up dragging the darn pack through gravel. I really got a workout that day.

I must have been nuts to haul so much gear. It might have been worth it, if the beverages had been consumed. But Sunny and I got separated from the rest of the clan early on, and I was dragging around nearly full cooler for most of the day. Memo to self – keep it simple, and don’t ever make such a mistake again.

Sunny had a good time though, in spite of the heat. She loved the sheep pens with the Spring lambs, and although she’s too young for the historical significance, river cruise was a great experience for her. The Potomac river is pretty broad at Mt. Vernon, and it is a majestic sight. I wasn’t interested in the inside of the main house as much as I was interested in the outer buildings, the farms and the upper and lower gardens.

Here are additional pictures taken with my Minolta Dynax 800si.

Mt. Vernon – Olympus Trip 35
Mt. Vernon – Olympus Trip 35
Mt. Vernon – Old Crypt – Olympus Trip 35
Mt. Vernon – Boathouse – Olympus Trip 35
Mt. Vernon – Boathouse and Pier – Olympus Trip 35
Mt. Vernon – Farms – Olympus Trip 35
Mt. Vernon – Farms – Olympus Trip 35
Mt. Vernon – Lower Garden – Olympus Trip 35
Sunny Chasing Butterflies – Olympus Trip 35
Mt. Vernon – Olympus Trip 35
Sunayana by the river – love the tree bark texture
End of the Day – tired and sleepy

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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Assateague Island is on Maryland’s Eastern shore, on the Atlantic Ocean – just a few miles south of Ocean City, but what a difference. There is none of the hustle and bustle of the hotels and tourist industry, instead, just a peaceful nature preserve, with pristine white sand beaches, very family friendly – and above all, there is peace and quiet.Of course, I didn’t go alone… the whole family was there, and the kids had a great time in spite of the wind and cold water.

One of the unique features of Assateague Island (and believe me, this IS unique – is the population of wild horses. Yes, genuine horses in the wild. Of course, they are correctly termed as “feral” horses, animals that were once domesticated, but which have escaped and bred in the wild over the past few hundred years.

The official record has it that these horses are descendants of domestic animals that Eastern Maryland farmers permitted to graze on the island. They apparently avoided the mainland taxes on the horses, and saved the expense of fencing them in. After all, where would they go on an Island that is little more than a sand bank?

I like to think that perhaps they were survivors from a shipwreck that made it to shore? Or even more intriguing, perhaps they were the property of pirates and salvagers that made their home on that narrow barrier island. I prefer this explanation for the horses on the island rather than the prosaic one of avoiding taxes. The horses are very handsome beasts – they are skittish of course, and it’s best not to get too close, since they can bite and kick, causing serious injury.

I observed tourists feeding and trying to approach the animals in spite of the many warnings and threats of citations and fines. People just don’t appreciate how dangerous a 2000 lb beast can be. Still, the horses frequent the grassy verge by the roads and can be spotted all over. The herd on the Maryland side of the island is estimated at about 300 beasts. The Virginia end is also a National Seashore preserve, with approximately the same number of animals.

The whole place has a magical quality to it… the clean beaches, the wildness of the Atlantic in Spring, when the water is still very cold, the horses, the twisted trees and shrubs that are hardy enough to survive the rugged conditions, and of course, the calmness of the Bay side of the island, the warm sun – all make for a perfect day trip.

The facilities on the island are primitive, but sufficient. It’s best to pack lots of cold drinks and a substantial picnic lunch. And a couple of folding chairs to lounge in. It’s also very windy in the Spring, so a windcheater type jacket is a good idea. I tried to fly my big box kite, but the wind was so strong that the line almost sliced my fingers.

I had taken my Minolta with a Phoenix 28-105mm and a Tamron 70-300mm lens, and an Olympus OM-2n with a Kiron 28-210mm super zoom – the famous cult classic lens. I had also lugged along my Spiratone 400mm f/6.3 preset lens, but did not get an occasion to use it. I had taken the zooms and the long telephoto in case I could not get near enough to get good pictures of the wild horses, but the horses were right by the roadside.


Wild Horses
Wild Horses
Wild Horses
Wild Horses
Wild Horses
Wild Horses
Wild Horses
Wild Horses

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si, Tamron 70-300mm lens, Fuji Superia 400 film, Circular polarizer 1/350 sec at f/13

Wild Horses
Wild Horses
Wild Horses
Wild Horses

Photographed with a Olympus OM-2n, Kiron 28-210mm lens, Fuji Super HQ 200 film, Circular polarizer 1/125 sec at f/11


The Beach has to be seen to be believed. In late Spring, it’s still cold and windy, so there aren’t many people around. Lots of surf fishermen though, trying for Bluefin and Sea Bass. That changes around Memorial Day and then the beach is packed all through Summer until Fall. I prefer the peace and quiet of the off-season, so our next trip will probably be late September or early October.

Dunes
Dunes
Surf Fishing
South Beach
North Beach

Photographed with a Olympus OM-2n, Kiron 28-210mm lens, Fuji Super HQ 200 film, Circular polarizer 1/125 sec at f/11

North Beach
North Beach
Bay Side, near Verrazano Bridge
Bay side, near Verrazano bridge

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si, Tamron 70-300mm lens, Fuji Superia 400 film, Circular polarizer 1/350 sec at f/13



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 © 2007 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 weeks ago, I took Sunny and her cousin Mahathi for a hike along the Potomac Heritage Trail in Washington DC. The girls had a great time watching the ducks and playing in the little riverside meadows, collecting dandelions and wildflowers.

The Potomac Heritage trail is hiker friendly – not a shared route that has you constantly jumping out of the way to avoid getting run over by a bicyclist… there is lots of wildlife on the trail, and lots of wild flowers.

The area around the Key Bridge is epecially nice, if you ignore the traffic a few feet away beyond a low barrier wall, and concentrate instead on the gentle murmuring of the Potomac river. The river seems so content there.

Most people who hike the trail are very conscientuous about cleaning up after themselves, so the trail is clean and trash free.. can’t say the same for the river bank though. It’s littered with beer cans and plastic trash.. some from the river, I suppose.. but as far as I could see, it was left behind by fishermen who congregate in a few choice spots.

I also spotted lots of fishing lines tied to low branches. The lazy fisherman’s idea of sport I suppose. The abandoned lines can entangle wildlife, especially waterfowl. I was able to collect a large plastic grocery sack full of cans and trash in just a few minutes, with the girls helping.

Since this was a short hike, I didn’t carry any of my regular equipment – just the every ready standby Ricoh 500. It’s either that or one of the Olympus Trip 35 cameras when I have to travel light and shoot in a hurry.

Potomac Heritage Trail #1
Potomac Heritage Trail #2
Potomac Heritage Trail #3
Potomac Heritage Trail #4
Potomac Heritage Trail #5
Potomac Heritage Trail #6
Potomac Heritage Trail #7
Potomac Heritage Trail #8

Photographed with a Ricoh 500G rangefinder f/16 at 1/250 sec on Fuji HQ Super 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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