Woodland


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.

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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.

Some more Fall pictures. These were taken near Dufief Pond, and at Morris Park near Rockville. A couple are from Turkey Run State Park off of the GW Expressway. This year, Fall was pretty spectacular, even if it seemed to come a little late. We had a generally warmer than usual Fall this year, and the rains came just as the leaf color was reaching it’s peak, so I probably did not get the very best pictures, especially since I was only able to get out during the weekends.

Nature waits for no man… and so it is with Fall colors. I wish I could take a week off during the peak Fall days, but that usually impossible because it’s the busiest time of the year at work. Most offices are winding down projects and programs in preparation from the Holidays, and being able to get outside and spend some time communing with Nature is a welcome respite.

These pictures were taken on short hikes with my daughter Sunny – she loves being out in the woods. I was using my black Olympus Trip 35. I don’t get that one out much, since I am afraid that I will scratch the black finish. The Olympus Trip 35 never ceases to amaze me – the simplicity of the camera belies the extremely sharp lens with its beautiful color rendition and forgiving zone focus system. You can hardly ever go wrong with this little camera.

Compare these with the pictures of Dufief Pond taken with my OM-2n and Tokina RMC 70-210 f/3.5


Olympus Trip 35 – Dufief Pond
Olympus Trip 35 – Dufief Pond
Olympus Trip 35 – Dufief Pond
Olympus Trip 35 – Dufief Pond
Olympus Trip 35 – Dufief Pond
Olympus Trip 35 – Turkey Run
Olympus Trip 35 – Morris Park
Olympus Trip 35 – Morris Park
Olympus Trip 35 – Turkey Run
Olympus Trip 35 – Turkey Run

Olympus Trip 35 – Dufief Pond
Olympus Trip 35 – Morris Park Woods
Olympus Trip 35 – Turkey Run
Olympus Trip 35 – Turkey Run
Olympus Trip 35 – Turkey Run
Olympus Trip 35 – Turkey Run
Olympus Trip 35 – Morris Park
Olympus Trip 35
Olympus Trip 35 – Berries, Westminster

Photographed with an Olympus Trip 35, Fuji Super 200 film. Zone Focus at 6ft, 10 ft and Infinity 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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Fall comes pretty late to Montgomery County. The colors just seemed to peak just last week, a full 3 weeks after most of the Northeast had their glorious blazes. But then, we don’t have that many Maples here -just enough to set them off against the yellows and brown-golds and greens. We have lots of Sycamores, Pin and White Oak, Birches and Yellow Poplar that seem to hold on to their green a lot longer. Even now, there are a lot of trees that are still predominantly green, just starting to go yellow and red

These pictures were all taken around Gaithersburg, Rockville and Germantown. The woods around Robertson Park and Morris Park are especially beautiful this week. I was out these past 2 weekends with a few cameras. These pictures were all taken with my OM-2n. I used the Tokina RMC 70-210 f/3.5 and the Vivitar SERIES ONE 70-210mm f/3.5 Zoom lens

If the Tokina RMC 70-210mm Zoom appears to have the same specifications as the Vivitar SERIES ONE, it’s because they share the same design genes. Lens enthusiasts and fans of the Vivitar Series One lenses will recall that Vivitar had several versions of the Series One 70-210mm. Their first one was the Kino Precision made 70-210m lens (serial number 22xxxxx) that was built like a tank. Weighed 2 lbs and has a 67mm front element. The second version of the lens was made for Vivitar by Tokina (serial number 37xxxxx).

The Tokina made lens was smaller and lighter than the Kino version – just as sharp, and with a constant f/3.5 aperture like its predecessor, but with a 62mm front element. Vivitar went through their lens manufacturers real quickly in those days…. they then turned to Komine to produce the third version (Serial number 28xxxxx) and dropped Tokina. Tokina then produced the lens under its own name, the Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5 (with their special multicoated lens) which I was lucky enough to get my hands on. It’s a very beautiful lens, silky smooth operation and a pleasure to use.

On a side note: You’d think that Vivitar would have stayed with Komine, since the 3rd version of the 70-210mm Series One is considered by many to to be superior to the previous two – it had a f/2.8-4 aperture instead of the fixed f/3.5 but weighed as much as the Kino version (860gms) in spite of the smaller 62mm front element. Vivitar went on to make a 4th and 5th version of the Series One 70-210mm, turning to Cosina for the manufacture. Alas, the quality just wasn’t the same. If you’re in the market, I’d suggest that you look for the Kino, Tokina and Komine versions and give the Cosina versions a pass.

I love the older version Kino made Vivitar Series One, but it’s a bear to carry and I can barely hand-hold it. Besides, it looks disproportionately large on the small frame of my OM SLR bodies. I always worry about damage to the mount with such a big lens. I can see how why the later versions (especially the 2nd and 3rd versions made by Tokina and Komine) became so popular – they were smaller, even though they weighed just as much. The Tokina version weighs 790gms. Still very heavy by modern standards. Hey, it has 14 elements in 10 groups.

Check out Mark Roberts’ photography website for a comparison of the different Vivitar Series One 70-210mm lenses. He prefers the Komine Version (#3) but I think the Tokina has better contrast. The Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5, however does not have a Macro mode like it’s Vivitar Series One counterparts.


Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Vivitar Series One 70-210mm
Vivitar Series One 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm

Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Tokina RMC 70-210mm
Vivitar Series One 70-210mm f/3.5
Vivitar Series One 70-210mm f/3.5
Tokina RMC 70-210mm

Photographed with an OM2n, Tokina RMC 70-210mm f/3.5, Vivitar Series One 70-210mm f/3.5 with Fuji Superia 200 film. I used a polarizer in the sunlight. The exposures in low light were at 1/125 sec at f/5.6


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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Late Spring is a great time to drive around with a camera in the car, you never know what floral treasures you may find by the roadside. I spotted these on the way to work one morning – I had been delayed that day, and the sun was much higher in the sky than it usually is so these poppies blooming at the edge of the woodland were illuminated perfectly.

I had my Minolta Dynax 800si with me, with a Maxxum 35-105 zoom, loaded with Fuji 200 film. The Maxxum 35-105mm lens is a little wonder, and although it’s a tad slow at f/4.5 – f/5.6, it’s perfect for the outdoors under sunny conditions.

I also had something unusual – I had recently purchased a Bower adapter to mount Olympus Zuiko lenses on a Minolta Maxxum camera that I really wanted to try out. I had been carrying it around for a few days along with my Zuiko 200mm f/4 lens, so I took the opportunity to test it.

A 200 mm lens is perfect for taking pictures without getting out of the car, since the focal length is just right to fill the frame from about 18-20 feet. The Bower adapter has a glass element to compensate for the infinity setting, so its really a weak teleconverter. Of course, when mounted on the Minolta, the lens needs to be focused manually, and needs to be stopped down manually as well. Focusing is done with the aperture wide open, and then stopped down before taking the shot. The Minolta Maxxum’s metering works great with the manual lens though.

I had been looking for a way to use all my Zuiko, Kiron and Vivitar lenses from my OM cameras on my Minolta, and it seemed to fit the bill. I’m happy to say it works perfectly, and I’m kicking myself for not getting one sooner. Since it works with the Maxxum, it will also work with the Sony Alpha.

Maxxum 35-105mm
Maxxum 35-105mm
Maxxum 35-105mm
Zuiko 200mm Dynax 800si with Bower Adapter
Zuiko 200mm on Dynax 800si with Bower Adapter

Photographed with a Minolta Dynax 800si and Maxxum 35-105 f/4.5- 5.6 medium zoom. The Zuiko 200mm f/4 lens was mounted on the Minolta with a Bower Adapter, Fuji Super 200 film. I used a polarizing filter for both lenses.


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.

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