Wide Angle


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.

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These were taken on Bachman’s Valley Road – the old Meyer Farmhouse. The owners are in the process of restoring the buildings as much as possible, but it’s going to take a long time. The Farm is over a 100 years old, and all the barns and outbuildings are in fairly good condition, but the exterior could use some preservative and paint. I took these pictures on the way back from Union Mills. The light was tricky, overcast, but with patches of sun shining through.


Meyer’s Farm

Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm
Meyer’s Farm

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700, Minolta AF 50mm f/1.7



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.

I happened on this location by chance, as I returned to Gaithersburg from Baltimore . I took 295 (Greenbelt parkway) on my way back, and got off the exit that leads to the Robert Kennedy Stadium – going around it, I soon found myself on C street, and all these beautiful buildings. There was plenty of parking, near the intersection of C street and 11th, and I lingered there for a few minutes before driving down west towards 10th, where I stopped for a few more minutes.

Winter is a great time for streetscapes and architectural photography, since the buildings in the older localities aren’t obscured by trees, as they normally would be in the Summertime. I was carrying the Sony A700 with the Sony 18-200mm lens, nothing fancy. The Sony lens (SAL 18200) is a great all-around lens, especially if you make a modest investment in a 62mm Circular Polarizer.

Zooms give a great deal of flexibility, but at the same time, the perspective varies from shot to shot. You don’t really notice it while shooting, since we’re so focused on getting the proper framing and composition, but later, when organizing, we find a wide range of focal lengths. Interesting, of course, but not easy to catalogue.

I think street-photography is best with a zoom, but when recording specific architectural details, it may be better to use a fixed length 35mm or 50mm equivalent prime. I think I will go back again soon, and re-shoot some of the more interesting buildings with a 35mm equivalent prime as well (that would be a 24mm lens, which would give me 36mm on the A700).

Here are the photos from C street. The buildings are in perfect condition, and in the late afternoon sunlight, they look delicious.


C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street

C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street
C Street

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700 and Sony 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 lens with a 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.

In an earlier post discussing the DSLR crop factor, I had mentioned that if you really need to shoot really-wide angles, just use your film camera – because ultra wide-angle PRIME lenses (24mm equivalent or better) for DSLRs are still prohibitively expensive. The Kit zoom lens that Sony bundles (18-70mm) and the other lenses such as the 18-200mm and 18-250mm are all equivalent to 27mm at the wide end.

The Sony 16-105mm Zeiss zoom is equivalent to 24mm at the wide end, but markedly more expensive than the other lenses. So if we need 24mm and better, it’s either shelling out the big bucks for the Sony 16-105, and if choosing a prime, there’s not many choices. It’s one area where a film 35mm camera like my Minolta 800si still has an edge especially if you currently own a 24mm lens.

However, if a moderate wide angle is fine, the fine Sigma 24mm f/2.8 AF is still widely available at a reasonable price. On the Sony Alpha DSLR, the Sigma 24 is an apparent 36mm focal length with a 63 degree view angle. A true 24mm has a view angle of 74 degrees.

The Sigma 24mm AF Super-wide II is a particularly good deal, since it is available at a reasonable price. One of the reasons (other than that it’s a 3rd party prime) was that the lens came with a matte black “Zen” finish that tended to flake off easily, giving even well cared for lenses a used and battered appearance. This means the prices are often substantially marked down.

My recommendation? Don’t be afraid – unless you are a stickler for cosmetic appearances, the external finish does not affect the lens performance at all. It is an excellent lens by all accounts, and I can vouch for that.

The Sigma lens was also re-badged and sold by Ritz Camera as a house-brand Quantaray 24mm lens, but with a different, more durable, though cheesy finish, gold line and all. It’s still the same optics, though. Don’t be fooled by the appearance – this is a very high quality lens. Besides, the Sigma 24mm can be used as a 36mm normal lens, since many photographers prefer a 35mm lens as their standard lens.

The 24mm has well corrected distortions and moderate wide-angle allows us to include more of the subject, having the effect of ‘getting into the picture’ . We’d pay hundreds more to get a similar “designed for digital” Sony (or any other OEM) lens. High-priced lenses are an anathema for the thrifty amateur, of course.

These pictures are from Westminster, MD – the little park at the intersection of Green Street and Ridge Road (MD Rte 27) looking towards St. Paul’s Church and Green Street. I used the Sigma 24mm AF lens on the Sony Alpha 700 – the 1.5x digital crop gives me an apparent focal length of 36mm. The soft morning light with a light overcast sky was just right.


Westminster, MD

Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD

Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD
Westminster, MD

Here’s a couple of pictures of the Sigma 24mm mounted on my Sony Alpha 700. It’s a small lens, about the size of a Minolta 50mm f/1.7 normal lens.

Sigma AF 24mm Super-Wide on Sony A700
Sigma AF 24mm Super-Wide on Sony A700
Sigma AF 24mm Super-Wide on Sony A700

Here’s my daughter Sunny, making faces from very closeup as I was checking out the Sigma lens. She though the distortions were hilarious.

Being Silly

Here’s a some pictures taken with the Sigma 24mm at sunset – I was in Bohrer park with Sunayana and the light was changing rapidly. Note the reddish light in some of the pictures.

Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park
Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park
Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park
Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park
Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park
Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park
Sigma AF 24mm – Sunset Bohrer Park

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700, Sigma AF 24mm f/2.8 Super-wide II (the lens has an apparent focal length of 36mm when mounted on the Alpha 700)



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 was up in Westminster again a couple of days ago, and on the way back, I drove out towards New Windsor. I took the old winding Wakefield road to the Strawbridge Shrine – it’s been a while since I stopped there, there have been some changes – first, they finally erected a second life size granite statue – of Elizabeth Strawbridge, the good pastor’s wife and companion.

I wish they had placed the statues lower – more eye-level, so to speak. The pedestals somehow seem too much. These were simple farming folk who were called to spread the word of God. Robert Strawbridge was never ordained, and thus faced a lot of criticism and censure for daring to preach. When called upon to defend himself and his actions, he is said to have replied “No right but that of the Divine. The Need creates the Grant”. The good Bishop Francis Asbury of Baltimore wasn’t having any of that, though. Apparently, he gave him a really tough time.

In spite of all that, Robert Strawbridge’s ministry thrived, and grew. That whole part of Carroll County – New Windsor to Sam’s Creek is called ‘Strawbridge Country’. It’s bounded by Rte 27 to the East, Rte 140 to the North, Rte 407 to the South and Rte 31 to the West. The area is very rural and picturesque. Archaeological opinion is that the site may not be authentic, and that Strawbridge may never have lived there.

Be that as it may.. .it does not matter in the least. There is a sense of peace and serenity at the Strawbridge shrine that whether or not the good man actually lived and preached in that spot, you understand the spirit that drove him. It’s a shame that he never made it into the Heroes of Methodism book (published in the mid-1800’s) along with other primitive preachers like Bishop Asbury and others. Guess you had to be an ordained minister, or a Bishop. The irony of it all is that the museum at the Shrine is named after Francis Asbury, the very man who tried to put poor Robert and Elizabeth out of business.Correction: David Bearr wrote to let me know that the Visitor center is actually named after a Asbury Smith, a Methodist minister who helped develop the site. I apologize for the error.

It was almost sunset when I got there, and very cold. The light was fading fast, and I just managed to get some photographs. Unlike my previous visits, where I was using film, this time I had the Sony Alpha 700, so I could switch ISO’s quickly to accommodate the fading light.

I switched between a couple of lenses as well. Most of the pictures were made with the Minolta 35-105mm (52-157.5mm eq. 35mm format) and the rest with the Sigma 24mm wide angle (36 mm eq).

I even had a chance to chat with the site curator for a few minutes. Rev. Laura Apostol lives right next door and offers guided tours from April onwards.


Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine

Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine
Robert Strawbridge Shrine

Photographed with a Sony Alpha 700, Minolta AF 35-105mm and Sigma AF Super-wide II 24mm f/2.8 lens. I’ve posted some additional photos here.
Here’s my previous post on the Strawbridge Shrine.



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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