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Showing posts from August, 2012

He's Gone

The first human being to walk on another celestial body passed away today. Neil Armstrong, 82, commander Apollo 11 and the first man to set foot on the Moon on 21 July 1969[1], died from "complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures."
Neil Armstrong, along with all the other astronauts in the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs, was a hero to me. While other kids my age were following baseball, football, and basketball personalities, I was following every astronaut, every space flight, manned and unmanned. I was even following the X-15 flights (as much as was publicaly available at the time). I thought the X-15 was the coolest thing with wings that flew, the start of a real spaceship, the kind of craft that didn't come hurtling back like an uncontrolled ballistic cannonball. Neil Armstrong was an X-15 pilot and the only X-15 pilot to transition to the astronaut program. He would later fly on Gemini 8, where docking with another spacecraft (an unmanned Agena u…

Yes, I Know

So sue me. I saw the red Yamaha motorcycle sitting in the lot next to where I went for supper this evening, and stopped long enough to play with the location of the focusing square and using the 25mm wide open at f/1.4. The combination of overcast clouds, late evening light and the showers that just finished added to the draw of the motorcycle. I had about 30 seconds to grab something before heading out. That and the fact I was afraid the owner might come out of the bar it was parked in front of and ask me what I was doing.

I absolutely love the Olympus E-PL2 and Panasonic Leica Summilux 25mm combination.

Stop

I'm going to pull off for a while, probably for the rest of August. I've already written 240 posts so far this year, counting this post. I need the chance to recharge and reorganize a bit. Perhaps by the first of September I'll be more motivated enough to write something worth reading. I may even change to writing weekly instead of daily, or more than daily.

The word 'blog' is a portmanteau of the term 'web log', which is itself a corruption of the idea of the hand written diary, kept back in the day when people knew how to write and keep a written diary. In spite of the subject matter, this is a personal diary, although not nearly as personal as it could be; no mention of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, for example. I still do, on occasion, keep personal information in written form in a diary.

The written diary doesn't have the rich multimedia capabilities that a blog can have, even one composed of text and still images. The blog is far more approachabl…

My Photographic Future, The Final Part

I've added a photo of the E-5 as a visual aid, not because I'm going to run right out and purchase a pair. I pretty much expressed  my modest opinion about the E-5 back on September 2010 (The Future and Olympus), when the E-5 was released during Photokina 2010. I also expressed my modest opinion about the E-P3 back on July 2011 (The Olympus E-P3 — Too little, too late). I spilled a fair amount of bile in both of those posts, and I still feel justified in having written what I wrote.

And then I came out all hot and bothered about the OM-D E-M5 in February (I'm A Believer – Again) where I expressed something close to ardour for the camera without even holding the camera, let alone used it. That ardour has since faded, and with the theft of my Olympus 4:3rds cameras, the desire to own the camera has gone into neutral.

It's not as if I don't have any cameras at the moment. I own three jewel-like µ4:3rds bodies; an E-P2, an E-PL1 and an E-PL2. Along with the bodies I ow…

A Decade Long Religious Con Job

I rarely write inflammatory (what some might call trolling) titles to a post, but this building you see before you deserves it. I've been seeing this building next to I-4 just east of Altamonte/436 and Crane's Roost for nearly 12 years, and never knew who owned it. Today on a trip up to Lake Mary with my wife I saw it yet again. That's when I told her I wanted to stop by on the way back and poke around the property, and photograph any parts of it if I could.

What I discovered was this still unfinished eighteen story (I counted) white elephant, overgrown with weeds and yet still under slow-motion construction. It looks impressive with its exterior glass curtain walls, but that impression is quickly lost when you see the unfinished lower stories and look inside to the unfinished interior spaces.

A quick check via Google leads to an article written in 2010 by the Orlando Sentinel about the Majesty Tower. Based on what I read in the article it's owned by SuperChannel 55 WA…

It's a Twofer Weekend, And Other Odds and Ends

So I went back to Courtesy Toyota today and traded in my 2009 red Prius with 76,000 miles for the gleaming pearl white machine you see in the top photo, another 2012 Prius 3. Why?
Because the 2009 Prius had 76,000+ miles on it. I've used it as my commuter-mobile since I purchased it, commuting back and forth between my home near Universal Studios and where I work near the University of Central Florida. I've also used it for those quick trips up to Tallahassee and Florida State University, as well as other spots around central and northern Florida up and down I-75. There's also an 80,000 mile maximum limit where you can trade in your existing Prius and get the best trade-in value. I got a little more than half the value of the 2012 which made it possible to get the 2012 without a down payment.A lot has advanced in the last three to four years between the 2009 Prius and the 2012 Prius. While the 2009 is a great car, the 2012 is that much better. After driving my wife's bl…

My Photographic Future, Part 3.5 - Report From The Field on Sony

A year ago I wrote about avoiding the Sony α77, and I gave a reason why: the apparent fragility of the pellicle mirror. To whit it would appear that any dirt that attaches to the mirror and cannot be easily removed by simple blowing or other cleaning means requires a trip to the factory for cleaning or possible replacement. This was brought up by Imaging Resources, and bears repeating again:
From what we can tell, there is no strategy for keeping dust off the translucent mirror, except to blow the surface gently with air; it cannot be cleaned, and should never be touched. A fingerprint would require replacement at a service center.Fast forward to Kirk Tuck, who has transitioned to using the Sony α77 for the main body of his work. In today's post on his blog where he documents using the Sony's for food photography, he had this to say:
I am happy with the Sony a77 with one exception: While the sensor cleaning works perfectly (vibrates at shut down) nothing is ever cleaning off the…

It's a Wonderful Life

The title comes rather round-a-bout from a Warehouse 13 episode that was a riff off of the Frank Capra movie. That's enough of a clue to figure out the episode. I wasn't watching so much as listening, as I'd seen the episode already. My wife was watching the episode after we'd gotten back from supper out. It was fajita Wednesday at Don Pablo's. It's one of the few low calorie, healthy meals you can eat out.

Summer monsoon season here in central Florida means afternoon showers and spectacular sunsets. We didn't get rain on our neighborhood today but we certainly got our share of spectacular sunset. I'd been entranced by the skies both headed to supper and headed home from supper. Right before the sunlight darkens completely there are a few moments where the clouds are lit with spectacular color against purpling skies. Right when I drove up into our driveway was when that moment occurred. I stepped out with my camera and caught these two views looking up …

The more I know about people, the better I like my dogs.

It's been Primary Tuesday all day today. I'll vent my spleen about that in another post, but right now I want to give thanks for having my Labs to come home to at the end of the day. It's not like I don't love my wife, I do; it's that the Labs (and all make of dogs, I'm sure) give us their unconditional love, day in and day out. There is no quid pro quo with a dog. They're a vital part of the healing oasis I come home to every day.

When they played as buddies four years ago, like big Max did with little Ruby, they both played as pups. "Dragon fights" is what the girls called them. Teeth bared, chuffing and huffing and soft mouthing each other. They circle and pounce, and Max was always the one on the ground, being careful not to step to hard on little Ruby. They'd make you laugh so had at times it was difficult to photograph them.

These were taken four years ago when Ruby was still a pup. Max was really beginning to like playing with Ruby becau…

Freshfields Farm

Tucked into the corner of Delaney Avenue and Compton Street, just a block south of the intersection of E. Michigan and Delaney sits the store where all good tree-hugging Prius drivers drive to to purchase their locally grown produce and meats; Freshfields Farm. We've been shopping at Freshfields for the last few years, picking up ordinary produce such as locally produced organic fruits and vegetables, cage-free eggs, chicken, and fish. We stay away from red meats.

Recently some of the produce grown outside of Florida has attracted my attention. It's interesting that these all appear to be produce from Honduras, Costa Rica, and Mexico. Even the bok choy, which I know as Chinese cabbage. Anyway, the point being all my culinary and cooking experience is actually pretty limited. I've grown curious about these particular vegetables and have been looking up their history and recipes on how to prepare and eat them.

I've spent my entire life eating Southern cuisine, which incl…

The Great Car Hunt is Finished - 2012 Prius 3

Since early February my wife and I have been car shopping, looking ot replace the 2002 Kia Sedona EX she purchased late 2001. We've been to nearly all the representative local car dealerships and looked at the cars we'd narrowed down from our research on the web. After what many might consider too much for too long we suddenly decided on the Prius. What pushed us to buy the Prius was the 2013 Hyundai Elentra GT we looked at last Thursday.

We were close to Holler Hyundai in Winter Park that Thursday evening, so we drove over to look at the Elantra GT. We'd read a lot about the GT, much of it very good. What we saw Thursday made us even more predisposed towards the GT, so we made an appointment to go back over Saturday for a test drive. We drove it, liked it, and then put together a single-page straw man payment plan. With that payment plan in our hip pocket we drove over to Courtesy Toyota to look at the 2012 Prius 3.

Earlier in the week my wife sent out a number of emails …

My Photographic Future, Part 3 - Nikon Futures

In part 1 of this seriesWolfgang Lonien asked if perhaps the mythical Nikon D600 might be the camera I would eventually get. The Nikon D600 looks to be another one of those worst kept secrets, what with all the leaks and alleged photos of the beast all over the Internets. The photo at the top of this post may, or may not, be a photo of the D600. Wolfgang's question started me googling for the D600, which also swept up leaks and speculation about the D400. The D400 is allegedly the replacement for the Nikon D300/D300s APS-C DX pro-class camera. The D300 series has a weather sealed all-magnesium body with grips and similar goodies like the higher end FX series of cameras have. So while I was looking at the rumors, I built myself a little table (below) to kind of rank up a few of the body features of these unreleased and heavily rumored Nikon cameras.

Mythical Nikon D400 and D600 ComparisonFeatureD400D600Price$1,800$1,500 or $2,400[1]Sensor size23.2 x 15.4mm24 x 36mmSensor resolution2…

My Photographic Future, Part 2

Part 1 elicited some interesting responses, both in the comments section as well as via email.I'll address the email response first. The email made three interesting points about Sony:
Sony hasn't shown the camera multi-generational commitment to photography that other companies have.Letting their α700, which was a capable camera, and their α850 and α900, which were excellent, be discontinued without any clear replacement at the time is worrisome. It feels like Olympus all over again, only more so.Sony has a lack of mid-range lenses. They have enough low-end zooms, and their "G" and Zeiss high-end lenses are as good or better than anything made by the other 1.5x and 1x camera companies. If Sony makes exactly the combination you want, buy it because it's great – and quite possibly the best available from anyone. But don't hope that Sony'll eventually make its current system into the "right" system someday.
I could offer the Sony α77 as a partial de…

My Photographic Future, Part 1

It's been a week and a day since my Olympus E-1 and E-3 were stolen. My insurance company agreed to replace my equipment with cash. That means that the E-1 was essentially made whole with an E-5, as was the E-3. The Zuiko Digital 12-60mm and 50-200mm zooms are still being sold, and they were valued at what it would take to purchase them from a seller. I'm putting the money in the bank and waiting for Photokina to come and go so I can see what the future holds, at least as far as camera manufacturers go.

Why not replace my older Olympus 4:3rds equipment with contemporary Olympus equipment? Because since 2009 Olympus has been spending all its time and energy on µ4:3rds development, letting 4:3rds development languish. While Olympus was spinning out all those Pen iterations all the 4:3rds bodies were discontinued; in 2010 Olympus kept the line barely alive with the release of the E-5, which essentially consisted of a tweaked Pen sensor in a tweaked E-3 body. Not quite what I was …

Seventh Car Shopping Week - Hyundai Elantra GT 2013

We're (meaning my wife) still looking for our next car. I think she's decided that she's going to have to go up in price in order to find a car with the right mix of room, features, reliability, and creature comforts. So the price bracket we'd originally set has closed in to around $25,000. That's where current Priuses start and then head up past $30,000. Which is rather remarkable, and rather sad. Even the Fiat 500C she so loves rapidly settles around the mid $20,000s when she starts to add various packages.

In the case of the Hyundai Elantra GT, in order to get the backup camera, you have to pick the Style package and then the Navigation package, where the backup camera is "located". Based on all I've read so far, mileage is supposedly 32MPG city and 39MPG highway. Since this is meant to be a replacement for the 10-year-old Kia Sedona van, with city mileage of 17MPG and highway around 22MPG when it was new, this is a major upgrade.

The Kia was purch…

Mortality - Lake Hill Cemetery

I started documenting Orlando cemeteries again by stopping off at Lake Hill Cemetery. It's a rather large rambling place located at 5950 Old Winter Garden Road in Orlo Vista, on the south side of Old Winter Garden Road between South Kirkman and South Powers Drive.

I stopped off to investigate this place well over a year ago. At that time it was in terrible shape; the sign over the gate had fallen down into a pile of rusted metal, and the rest of the cemetery was so overgrown that I only saw a few gravestones sticking above brush that choked the area. I left wondering what would happen to the area. Today I checked back in and it appears that a group has pulled together and is working to clean the place up. While I was there I saw someone on a lawn tractor cutting the grass on one side. The rest of the cemetery was mowed and in much better shape. I was able to see quite a few gravesites.

There's very little online or in print about this cemetery. Walking around I found a few gra…

In Defense of Kirk Tuck

I know what you're thinking. Why is this idiot in Orlando talking about an Austenite he's never met in person? Because I like the guy and I like what he writes and the way he rights. Because it looks like some self-righteous forum assholes have taken Kirk to task over his shift from µ4:3rds to a Sony Nex system (Nex7 to be precise), a move that streamlines his camera system usage to all Sony. This seems to have outraged all the pro-µ4:3rds/anti-Nex partisans in much the same way it seemed to enrage equivalent pro-Canon partisans who railed against him when he shifted from heavy Canon kit (5DMk2, 7D, 60D) to the Sony α77.

If nothing else I always keep up with Kirk's transitions, in part because I find them fascinating, in part because he can do what I can't, and that's afford to try something new on a fairly regular basis. Kirk can do this because (1) he's an honest-to-god working pro with decades of experience and (2) he's developed a decades-long solid bu…

Nature's Rich Colors

What you see are two nature photographs I've taken roughly nine months and to versions of Lightroom apart. The upper photo was taken today with an E-PL2 and the Leica 25mm lens, and post processed in Lightroom 4.1. The lower photo was taken with an E-1 and the Zuiko Digital 50mm Macro back in early November 2011, and post processed in Lightroom 3.5.

The general composition is pretty much the same, portrait photos of plant growth growing from bottom to top and sorta following the rule of thirds. Both photos also have strong reds and violets in them (the lower photo far more than the upper), which is the color I much prefer over so-called Olympus blues. Call these Olympus reds and magentas if you will.

Maybe it's my bad eyesight, but when I place the two photos side-by-side as prints and view them at a normal distance (not with me so close I leave nose-grease on the surface) that I find them, for all practical purposes, technically indistinguishable. I can't honestly tell yo…