Weather


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)



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

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I was on the road early, driving to Baltimore trying to beat the morning rush hour. It was unusually foggy on the drive in and I was hoping that I’d get to the harbor before the Sun was high enough to burn the mist off. I was lucky – I managed to get in by 8 am, parked at the Pier V Garage, and rushed out with my Ricoh 500 rangefinder. I was using the Sunny f/16 rule, and it’s a little tricky with the changing misty conditions and fog. Here are the results.


Inner Harbor – Ricoh 500G
Inner Harbor – Ricoh 500G
Inner Harbor – Ricoh 500G
Inner Harbor – Ricoh 500G
Inner Harbor – Ricoh 500G
Inner Harbor – Ricoh 500G
Inner Harbor – Ricoh 500G
Inner Harbor – Ricoh 500G
Inner Harbor – Ricoh 500G
Inner Harbor – Ricoh 500G
Inner Harbor – Ricoh 500G

The Inner Harbor looks great by sunset too… these were taken from the 5th floor balcony of the Marriot Waterfront hotel

Inner Harbor – Sunset
Inner Harbor – Sunset
Inner Harbor – Sunset

Photographed with a Ricoh 500G rangefinder (fixed Rikenon 40mm f/2.8) and Fuji Superia 200 film f/5.6 at 1/250 second.


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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This year the Cherry Blossoms peaked between April 01 – April 04. It was a beautiful day when we visited on Tuesday April 03, when the flowering was at it’s peak. After the dull and dreary winter, it would be more apt to name it the “Cheery” Blossom festival instead.

It was slightly windy at the Tidal Basin, just enough to blow some petals off – up in the high 70’s. A very bright and sunny day with lots of people around. It was hot later in the afternoon, and the Popsicle and cold beverage vendors were doing a brisk business.

No one minded the heat though, since everyone knew what was coming – the weather reports had called for rain and heavy winds later in the week, and nothing is as bad for the flowers as heavy rain and wind – the petals get knocked off or are blown away. It’s not very comfortable either, too cold and windy to be outdoors.

It seemed as though all of DC was at the Tidal basin that afternoon. I guess everybody who could get away made it to the Tidal Basin that day. Besides, it was a working day, and it’s very probably that people who work in the Government offices around the Tidal Basin would have all taken their lunch out there, or just taking a walk.

The weather went bad by Thursday, so people who had been planning to visit DC that weekend lost out. It’s been cold and rainy since then, and the trees have long since lost their flowers and leafed out. It’s still cold in the DC environs… very unseasonable for this time of year. Up here in Westminster, the Cherry Blossoms and dogwoods are still blooming.

I took the family, of course…. We visited Cherry Blossom Festival for the first time last year, and it literally took our breath away. We made a resolution right then to return every year as long as we lived in the DC area  We got there around 11 am, and were lucky enough to get parking right at the Tidal basin lot, close to the Washington Memorial.

I had originally hoped to get there early in the day to take advantage of the morning light. The late morning/early afternoon sun casts a very flat light, and that washes out colors and makes everything look flat and lifeless. I didn’t have much choice, though.

I had taken my Minolta Dynax 800si with a 28-105mm general purpose zoom lens with a Polarizing filter. I was using Fuji Superia 400 film with the camera, since last year was cloudy and overcast – this year, it was so bright and sunny that a 100 ASA film would have been ample. The polarizer served as a 2x neutral density filter as well, slowing down the film enough to shoot at around f/13. For these photographs, I used the landscape and portrait settings.


Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival
Cherry Blossom Festival

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si and Phoenix 28-105mm f/2.8-f/3.5 AF lens fitted with a Tiffen Polarizer. The film was Fuji Superia 400. I shot at f/13 at 1/350-1/750 second and used the Portrait and Landscape settings.



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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Last weekend’s snowstorm made for some great photographic opportunities, if one was willing to brave the sleet and snow and risk their precious cameras and lenses getting wet. I normally shoot with my Minolta and Olympus film cameras, but on this occasion, I used my Panasonic Digital (yes, digital) camera since it easily slips into my jacket pocket, and I can keep it dry much more easily than my other cameras.

I’ve used this little camera for years – it’s a Lumix DMC-LC20, and it has a very sweet Leica DC VARIO-ELMARIT f/2.8-4 35-105mm equivalent zoom lens – I think it is probably one of the first Panasonics that offered the Leica zoom. Panasonic introduced the Lumix line in 2002, and it was a big deal back then. It’s just 2 megapixels, so it’s good for 6×4 prints at full resolution, not much more. It takes regular rechargeable AA batteries, not the fancy expensive lithium power packs. I think it just looks cool.

My daughter Sunny uses this camera these days – my way of getting her started in photography. The lens on the Lumix is very sharp, but the camera always seems to always underexpose on the auto settings when the sky is overcast or in shade. I should probably override the Auto ISO settings and use the 200 or 400 ASA settings permanently. And of course, change the white balance settings to the prevailing light as well. Too many menus to click through… I’m just lazy, I guess 🙂

Dufief Drive is my brother-in-law’s neighborhood in North Potomac, MD. It’s a well established community with mature trees and typical 80’s style houses. Due to the camera’s tendency to underexpose, I generally use it in bright sun, or with flash. In subdued natural light, I prefer to shoot use it as a black & white camera. Since this model does not have built-in Black & White setting, I have to desaturate the images later. It generally gives me satisfactory results and I use it when instant gratification is needed. Besides, its a cheap light meter.

Dufief Drive #1
Dufief Drive #2
Dufief Drive #3
Dufief Drive #4
Dufief Drive #5
Dufief Drive #6
Dufief Drive #7
Dufief Drive #8
Dufief Drive #9
Dufief Drive #10
Dufief Drive #11
Dufief Drive #12
Dufief Drive #13
Dufief Drive

Photographed with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC20 digital camera.


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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Here are some more snow scenes from the recent snowstorm in Maryland. These were taken just after the series with the 80B filter, but by this time, the snow had stopped falling. I was able to go out with the OM-2 again, but this time with a Zuiko 28mm. I used a 81A filter on the wide-angle lens, and the effect of the 81A filter really shows up in the photographs. When photographing subjects in sunlight, the 81A filter’s brown doesnt show up that much — it gives a nice tanned look to pale subjects, and makes reds and yellows a little richer – but in overcast snow conditions, it gives the whole picture a old-timey, sepia tone look. I must say that this was unexpected, and I was pleased with the results.

81A Snowscape #1
81A Snowscape #2
81A Snowscape #3
81A Snowscape #4

Photographed with an OM-2 and Zuiko 28mm f/3.5 lens with an 81A filter, 1/250 sec at f/11 on Fuji Super HQ 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 had been hearing about the Maryland Wine Festival ever since I moved to Westminster – my colleagues and friends had assured me that every producer in Maryland would be there with a sampling of all their wares – seemed too good a deal to pass up, especially since I was coming from Illinois – not exactly a wine growers paradise. What surprised me most was the Carnival atmosphere, it was a lot of fun.

As for the wines… I was expecting a limited choice of wines from Eastern grapes, but apparently the Maryland climate is moderate enough to grow every major grape varietal. I had originally planned on going there with Lakshmi and Jayaram, but they had a previous engagement that weekend and could not make it – so it was just my nephew Vasudev and I. He was thrilled with the carnival setting and all the food, and I was running around sampling the locally grown wines – no drinking of course, since I had to drive back all the way. Next time we will take a designated driver :).

Anyway, I had the OM-PC with me that day, with the Zuiko 35mm prime – I knew there would be a crowd, and I wanted a lens that would take in the whole scene. It had been raining the previous day, and well into the morning, but it was clear and sunny when we got there – the light was just superb, the kind you see just after a storm. Ideal light for photography. Now a 35mm lens is good for enclosed spaces when there is a tight fit, or for conveying a sense of intimacy by “getting into the picture”, so to speak. Lots of photographers swear by them as their primary lens instead of the 50mm.

However, in a spread out setting such as the Festival, I found it difficult to compose – people were milling about, and the 35mm’s wide angle pulled in lots of things I really wasn’t interested in – besides, the close focusing distances needed prevented me from isolating the people and happenings that I really wanted to photograph without getting in their faces. I finally gave up and concentrated on getting a few pictures that would capture the energy of the festival.

Lesson learned – a short zoom like 28-85mm Vivitar or Zuiko 35-70mm would have been ideal. If I did not mind the extra weight, perhaps a lens such as the Kiron 80-200mm or 35-135mm mid-range zoom. The close focus and greater depth of field afforded by the wide-angle is advantageous sometimes, but not in this instance – the distance I had to maintain to keep from intruding in the revelry left me with very small image sizes. Another thing – in a milling crowd, someone is always going to walk into your lens’ field of view, and the problem is exacerbated with a wide angle.

2006 Maryland Wine Festival
2006 Maryland Wine Festival
2006 Maryland Wine Festival
2006 Maryland Wine Festival
2006 Maryland Wine Festival

Photographed with a OM-PC (aka OM-40) with a Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 and Fuji 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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It’s been so cold in central Maryland these past couple of weeks, I’m dreaming of late Summer to keep warm – lazy afternoons, gorgeous weather, and of course the butterflies, bugs and bees set among the lush greenery. I am lucky that most of the countryside I drive through everyday is so rural. I generally have a lot of time to listen to music, think, catch up on the news, and of course, indulge myself, stopping on an impulse to take a photograph or two.

These were taken late in the evening – I was driving along Old Taneytown Road, when I spotted this milkweed plant in full bloom, and there were several butterflies flitting about. I drove ahead, pulled over and grabbed my Minolta and walked back. The milkweed was about 10 feet away, and I did not want to get so close as to scare the butterflies away.

The one problem with AF lenses is that they tend to hunt back and forth crazily when focusing on a moving target like a flying insect – when I finally got this little guy in my sights, I realized that the milkweed flower cluster was teeming with other little critters… it was chock full of Japanese beetles feasting on the flowers, and trying to stay out of sight. The OM-2 with a short zoom would have probably been sharper… anyway, here are the photos.

Milkweed Feast #1
Milkweed Feast #2

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si, Phoenix 28-105mm f/2.8-3.8 lens at 1/125 sec on Fuji Xtra 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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