Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Based on what little I've been able to discover via Google, the Rouse Cemetery is also referred to as the Drawdy Rouse Cemetery. I'm assuming that this cemetery was started long ago when this section of Orange was heavily rural, far more than it is today. All that's left are bits and pieces of the old forest, such as the section that surrounds this cemetery from where Corporate Blvd dead-ends into Rouse and north up Rouse until Rouse ends at McCulloch Road. I've started an informal inquiry to find who is in charge of the cemetery, to discover more of its history.
Romantic light that seemed to coat everything with a beautiful luminous touch. I came away not afraid, but a bit saddened, certainly curious, but better for having taken a moment to slow down and pay my respects.
I will probably go back, and I am going to look in on as many local cemeteries as I possibly can. Out ancestors, immediate and remote, should not be forgotten.
I used an Olympus E-1 with a Zuiko Digital 1:2/50mm macro lens and an Olympus E-PL2 with the Leica 1:1.4/25mm lens. I'll let you figure out which one was which. Post processing done in Lighroom 4.1.
Monday, July 30, 2012
Long live the E-1.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
|2011 Chevy Volt|
|2013 Chevy Spark|
Today in the middle of the heat we went over to Courtesy Chevrolet, across the street from Toyota of Orlando's former location on Colonial. We needed to at least look at the Chevy Volt, and at least check it off our list. It's a good thing we did, because it isn't worth $45,000, let along half that. Talk about sticker shock...
|The surprising price tag|
|The nondescript interior|
We looked pretty closely at the interior and the exterior of the Chevy Volt on display. And we were disappointed. The materials, at best, were nondescript, the kind of materials you'd find in a low end car from just about every other manufacturer. When you put a $45,000 price tag on a car, I expect to see the materials, fit, and finish of a $45,000 car. Trying to say that the cost is tied up in the technology underpinnings won't cut it. If you can't use luxury materials you can at least design the interior creatively to give the impression of a luxury interior. The interior of the Volt looked no more different than, say, the sub-$20,000 Spark sitting a few cars down from it.
|External power port and Volt logo just forward of the driver side door|
|2011 Chevy Volt engine compartment|
|2013 Chevy Spark particulars|
|2013 Chevy Spark engine|
|2013 Chevy Spark front interior|
|2013 Chevy Spark rear seat folded flat|
|2013 Chevy Spark hatch open, rear seats up.|
One final comment about the finish of the Volt; the lower door edge on the shotgun side showed nicks and marks from what appeared to be traffic getting into and out of vehicle. I have never seen that kind of early wear on any vehicle, which was another reason to question why I would ever spend $45,000 on a Chevy Volt.
I'm glad we had an opportunity to look at the Volt, the Spark, and a bit at the Sonic. We'll keep the Spark in mind as we begin to trade the Kia Sedona in for a new vehicle. But unless a miracle occurs with the Chevy Volt, I will never look at one again nor recommend it to anyone else I know.
As for cost, the MSRP for the various versions of the Spark and Sonic place them in direct competition with the Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, Scion iQ, and Smart ForTwo. Just about everybody beats the ForTwo, and the iQ is questionable. The Nissan Versa looks good at first until you get closer, then it begins to suffer. The Toyota Yaris is the only car that can compete effectively with the Spark. The only problem with the Spark is its relatively low mileage in comparison with others in its class. It should be getting 38-40MPG on the highway. If the mileage were higher, or the price lower, we would be seriously considering it or its larger cousin the Sonic. I'm not saying that we'll buy it, but if you can get a good deal on the Spark, pushing the price below $15,000, then it would make a decent little city/urban runabout, either as a first time car or a second economy alternative to a larger family vehicle like a van.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
This is the first time I've seen anything like this near a commercial business. I've seen it in a few spots in downtown Orlando, and I've seen it around UCF, especially near Partnership III in Research Park next to UCF (see the example below). The difference between the signs is somewhat stark. Whereas the Best Buy signs say "Only", the UCF signs say "Preferred". And the working effects how the slots are used. While I was standing there taking this photo two other hybrids showed up and parked in two other slots. But all the other traffic that was cruising around the Best Buy parking lot parked elsewhere.
This is in stark contrast to the Partnership III parking slots. Whereas Best Buy has only five, Partnership III has 24. Finding hybrid vehicles beside my own in those Partnership parking lots was rare at the best of times. They were filled with everything from ragged-out student cars to massive SUVs, none of them hybrids except for my little red Prius and the handful of others that managed to get into them early in the morning. And considering it's the educational locations that should be more in tune with being green, you'd think that all of those Partnership III slots would be filled with hybrids. I can certainly tell you that I saw them scattered about the main lot, more than enough to fill the "Preferred" slots.
This is post 44 for the month of July. This marks the most posts I've made in any given month.
Friday, July 27, 2012
When the rains do come the vegetation (trees, grass, shrubs, flowering plants) thrive and turn vibrant colors. Grass and other green leafy plants seem to glow green. New growth can come out almost any color, such as these little oak sprouts (suckers) coming out of the base of this small oaks trunk.
I'm still infatuated with the Leica 25mm on the Olympus E-PL2 body. That's a potent little handful. And yet, I've been pulling excellent results out of the E-P2 using the M.Zuiko 45mm lens.
I love what the 25mm can do when I slow down and coax it a bit. The bent tree trunk at top is sharp from front to edge and seems to hang in mid-air against the green background, as if it were cut out with an X-Acto knife. Where parts are sharp, they're very sharp. When elements get blurry, they get blurry quickly falling away from the plane of focus.
I really need to learn more about the capabilities of the camera, lens and Lightroom 4.1, and really build clarity in my photographs. I keep looking at Kirk Tuck and Ming Thein, just to name two, and seeing clarity in their work. That kind of clarity comes from something other than pixel-peeping, and I mean to master that particular technique.
When we went out for the frozen yogurt it was 8:45pm and the temperature was still 90°. My wife and I don't live an exorbitant life style. We try to eat reasonably healthy, which means simple ingredients and small portions, with as little to no industrial food as possible. I don't know where the frozen yogurt falls on the scale of Being Good vs Being Bad, but it's one of those little rewards we give ourselves. After all, parfaits on parfait Friday are just $3 each.
I mentioned how hot it was. Folks expect Florida to be hot, especially tourists. Especially in the summer. If you look at our statistics you find it is hot in the summer. But this year, it's been hotter longer than just about any time in my memory. I'm not a native. I moved to Orlando from Atlanta back in 1984 with my new bride. We lived in a modest rental house in the downtown area for the first year until we found this, our one and only house, in 1985.
When I first moved to Florida it would rain in the summer afternoons between 2 and 3 pm. People at the time remarked you could almost set your watch by the summer showers, they were so regular. That pattern kept up pretty much through the rest of the 1980s, and then began to tape off in the early 1990s. The rain became more erratic, and when it did come, the showers were more intense and lasted longer. Mini dry spells would develop and continue for at about a week, where the sun baked the moisture back out of the ground and the foliage. Driving home today I saw lawns beginning to burn yellow from the intense heat and lack of periodic (daily) rains.
The most frightening period for me was and still is 1998, when nearly all of Florida turned tinder-box dry and nearly burned down. The drought eventually broke and the rains came back, but I still remember the wall of smoke that cut off I-4, looking east, from the 436 bridge as I got off that day. And I could smell the smoke coming through the sealed up air-conditioned car I was driving that day. For year after that I would drive north up I-95 to Amelia Island for summer vacation, and on both sides of the road, sometimes for as far as the eye could see, would stand the burned-out pines and oaks from that period. The underbrush was growing back rapidly, but it was a startling contrast when I firs saw it.
This year, though, is intensely hot. This year feels as bad as 1997/98. We've been breaking heat records in Florida just like around the rest of the country. Here's a disturbing map courtesy of Climate Central (Record Summer Temperatures, By The Numbers) showing nationwide record temperatures for the month of June:
I'm taking time out to enjoy my modest life, to savor more of the moments as they come. Moments such as the ability to drive up and eat a $3 parfait with my wife. I feel we really are on the edge of a major event, an event we're not going to be able to do much about if anything. It makes life in these days just that more important to me.
Thursday, July 26, 2012
push up food prices next year in the U.S. as well as trigger a repeat of middle-East uprisings due to crippling price rises in basic foods. With all that's happening to our farmland due to drought and erosion we're nuts to go around covering good productive soil over, or even worse, pilling it up and then covering it over.
Max is still as energetic as ever, and takes to his walks with the same gusto he's shown since he was a five month old juvenile. Ruby has been "trained" by Max, and acts as his backup annoyer when I don't move fast enough to dress them out in their leads for their daily walks. The only difference is I'm now careful not to walk Max nearly as far as I once did. His age, my knees, and the heat and humidity make me more cautious about the time and distance on any single walk. Instead we spend time out in the big back yard running, chasing, and playing catch.
The images were JPEGs taken straight from the camera and re-sized with Olympus bundled post processing software.
As much as we talk about the latest cameras such as the digital Pens and the OM-D E-M5, when I look back on what I've taken with everything over the last 10 years I would be challenged to re-shoot then any better. Which begs the question, has all that camera gear purchased since the E-300 really been necessary, or worth the extra expenditures?
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The silly signs are still up. Looks like they've replaced all the old and dirty ones with a newer, hipper set. I find it disturbing that the sign uses icons from a 1978 arcade game, Space Invaders. Five thousand years of art, culture, and technical advancement, and the best we can do is make signs using 8-bit icons. It seemed appropriate to see a pile of gravel above the sign. That's what we seem to be reducing our whole world to, nothing but piles of lifeless gravel.
I stumbled around the Internets to see just how far off base I might have been with regards to my opinion regarding Canon's mirrorless entry. It looks like not far, but I was a bit over-the-top, perhaps, with my uninformed opinion. Just a bit.
Of all the opinions I've read so far, I believe Thom Hogan's post "Welcome, Canon. Seriously" pretty much hit on all the right points. Or right on the few he covered, which were the important ones. His post got me to really thinking about not just Canon's entry, but why it entered the market with the EOS-M.
Why Now?Two reasons. First, Because Canon had no other choice. Canon is the largest camera manufacturer in the world, both in terms of gross sales and DSLRs. In 2010, the last year I can get statistics, overall Canon sold over twice as much as Nikon. But here's the funny part; Canon barely beat Nikon in DSLR sales. And here's the not-so-funny part: compared to what their sales numbers were in 2008, Canon's sales dropped slightly from 2008 to 2010, while Nikon's remained flat. Looking at how their DSLR sales were between 2008 and 2010, Canon's barely rose while Nikon's shrank slightly. As Thom Hogan has been pointing out on a fairly regular basis in his blogs, the camera business hasn't been all that good for anybody for some number of years. The only reason Canon makes as much money as it does is because it has a far more diverse business line than just cameras. Nikon, unfortunately, is more of a pure-play camera company and it unfortunately shows in its sales numbers.
Second, market success. Success which has led to growth for everyone involved. Canon entered now because Canon perceives that the market is large enough to sustain its products and supporting logistical business structure. Products don't magically appear. Technology intense products such as digital cameras require expensive engineering, labor-intensive manufacturing (especially those lenses), and supporting supply chain. The larger a company is, the larger the markets must be to sustain them, and this one is now big enough. Canon's entry validates this market as serious, something that all the players should take as good news.
Why the EOS-M?It was the safest technical response that Canon could make. Canon re-used the sensor assembly from the Rebel T4i and packaged it into a typical Cypershot body design. The essentials for taking excellent photographs are there; when it comes right down to it that's all anyone really wants.
Why $800? That's the "Goldilocks price" that makes the camera not to hot and not too cold. To hot (low price or high features) and you run the risk of creating a camera that cannibalizes Canon's regular low-end DSLRs. Too cold (to expensive, not enough feature) and nobody wants it. But just right and it's high enough to keep the "practical" customers away who complain about the lack of "value-add" but just low enough to help entice the early adopters. And that's what Canon wants first time out of the chute. And that's apparently what they've got; according to Amazon, the EOS-M has been number 1 in preorder status since its official announcement. It will probably stay there for a while longer.
With the EOS-M Canon has come into this market of mirrorless interchangeable cameras right where they want to be, with a solid initial product that will pay for itself in short order and establish their beachhead. It doesn't matter if it won't focus as fast as any other competitors, or if focus with EF-L lenses "is almost painful." They now have the market buzz, the attention of their customer base, and it's all positive for them right now. It doesn't really matter what we "enthusiasts" think. Canon has already succeeded with the EOS-M. They just need to execute with later models to continue to succeed, and that will be the story to pay attention to.
One Final NoteThe EF-M is a 22mm 1:2 prime lens. The closest equivalent focal length wise in µ4/3rds is the full stop slower M.Zuiko 1:2.8/17mm, and for basically the same MSRP of $300 (although you can find it cheaper if you shop around). If you want something as fast in µ4/3rds it's the M.Zuiko 1:2/12mm, a 24mm equivalent for $800. If Canon can continue to produce fast prime lenses like the 22mm at this price, then there'll be no more excuses for slower and/or more expensive lenses from the rest of the players. Or at least I would hope.
Update 30 July
Someone wrote about the Panasonic 1:1.7/20mm lens for $400. That's an almost reasonable response, except it's $100 more than the Canon. And the Canon 22mm has a 35mm equivalent of 1.6 x 22 or 35.2mm, which rounded down is 35mm. The Panasonic is more a normal lens of around 40mm equivalent in 35mm terms. That's why I turned and started at the Olympus 17mm. The only other 17mm equivalent for µ4/3rds is the Voigtländer 17.5mm f/0.95 manual focus lens for about $1,300.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Most of these were taken with the M.Zuiko 17mm. The top black and white bridge shot was taken with the 25mm. The long shot of the locomotive was taken with the 45mm. Everything post processed in Lightroom 4.1 and Silver Efex Pro 2.
Given enough time I'm sure I'll grow tired of the Pens. But right now this little collection of bodies and lenses has lit a fire inside that has me photographing and writing like crazy. This makes the fifth entry I've written in one day, and that's something of a personal record. This also makes the 37th entry for one month. I haven't posted this many monthly entries since January and February of last year, when I posted 43 entries for each of those months. There's still nine more days left in July, so I have plenty of time to meet, if not exceed, those records.
Everything taken with the E-PL2 and the Leica 25mm. Basically it was a Leica lens weekend, except for Sunday morning. I can't deny it, I love what that lens can do on all three Pen bodies. If Panasonic were to come out with any other Leica branded lenses I think I'd buy them as well.