Spray Park

Reflection of Mount Rainier at Spray Park
Reflection of Mount Rainier at Spray Park
Advertisements

Speaking of Driving…

Drove to Hozomeen Campground last weekend, which is on Ross Lake just south of the US-Canadian border. There is no access from the south on the US side, so you have to drive into Canada and then 40 miles south on a gravel road to get to the campsite. A beautiful, fun drive, but my tire didn’t enjoy it as much. Luckily, Canadians are kind and they fixed my tire for free. Made it home without any more flat tires.

Well... crap.
Well… crap.

Smoky Mountain Sunset Timelapse

My first timelapse! Late to the bandwagon, I know, but I had to give it a shot. I used the built-in intervalometer on my camera to take 3 exposure-bracketed shots every 15 seconds. I used Lightroom and Panolapse to process the images, add movement and generate a video. Panolapse was fantastic to use, and I’ll be reviewing it in the near future.

Lightroom Publishing Plugins

Lightroom is a tremendously powerful piece of software, but there’s no way for Adobe to satisfy all the needs of every customer. That’s where plugins come in. There are tons of plugins for giving your photos a certain look, but there are also plugins for publishing your photos. Here’s the difference between publishing and exporting, as far as I understand it:

  • Exporting saves the input picture (usually RAW format) as a JPEG after applying whatever development settings you have selected. That JPEG can be included in your collection, but it’s basically a separate file at this point. Yes, you can “stack” it with the RAW file, but that functionality is out of the scope of this post.
  • Publishing¬†creates a JPEG as well, but Lightroom keeps track of changes to your published images and can sync changes between the published images and the RAW images in your collection.

For example, if you export 0001.raw as 0001.jpg, then upload 0001.jpg to Flickr and then delete 0001.raw, 0001.jpg will remain on Flickr. However, if you publish 0001.raw to Flickr and then delete 0001.raw, then 0001.jpg will be removed from Flickr. Other development settings can be synced with publish as well.

Your workflow may not benefit from this functionality, but I like working this way, specifically while publishing to my hard drive. This gives me the option of having a mirrored set of smaller web-friendly JPEG’s (3200px at 60% quality) that stays in sync with my collection. I can then sync that directory with my cloud service of choice without paying out the nose to host the RAW files. This mirrored set stays synced even if I go back and delete or edit a photo from 2008.

Lightroom’s publish functionality doesn’t mirror your folder structure by default, so I use the Folder Publisher plugin from Jeffrey Friedl. He offers several other “goodies” for Lightroom including several other publishing plugins. Check them out and see if you can’t make your life a little easier.

Pentax DA 15mm f/4 Limited

The Pentax 15mm Limited is the reason I bought into the Pentax system. The news surrounding its introduction was my first exposure to the DA Limiteds and I was immediately smitten. The Sony / Minolta gear I was using at the time was fantastic optically, but build quality in the affordable lenses was lacking. At the same time, I was getting into film photography using manual focus lenses forged from a single piece of granite. Why couldn’t I have that kind of build quality and “feel” in a modern lens? Turns out I could.

Deer Nose

Pentax truly read my mind when they designed the 15mm. All of the DA Limiteds have a 49mm filter diameter, which places a size constraint on the lens designer. How to keep a 15mm lens this small? Smallish maximum aperture of f/4, screw-drive autofocus and image stabilization in the body of the camera instead of the lens. Those are all acceptable tradeoffs to anyone who’s had the pleasure of using the 15mm. The screw-on lens cap is cool, but you’d have to be crazy not to replace it with a $5 pinch style cap. The lens hood is built-in and collapsible and made of metal and so much fun to fiddle with. Image quality-wise, Pentax seemingly prioritized rendering quality above edge-to-edge sharpness. While nowhere near as soft as the Pentax 50-200, it pays to be careful about what you place at the edges of your frame when shooting at f/4. A bit of corner softness can be seen in this photo, but it’s usually nothing to worry about. Depends on the subject.

Mount Rainier

How silly of me, I’ve gone this long writing about the Pentax 15mm Limited without mentioning how good it is at shooting into the sun. Example, from Farmington, NM:

Farmington, NM

And another example from Cannon Beach, OR:

Cannon Beach, OR

This is the first lens I’d show someone who thinks sharpness or bokeh are the only lens qualities worth paying attention to. All of the Limiteds are accused of having pixie dust in them, but I think the 15mm is the best example of a lens with a “prettiness” to the way it renders that is hard to describe quantitatively.

Neglected Truck

The DA 15mm Limited is Pentax at their best. It’s not perfect, but that only makes it more appealing.

Stabilized World Record 41m Rally Jump

This kind of thing pushes almost all of my buttons. Image processing, photography, snow, cars and novelty. Reddit user The_Egg_came_first created this… let’s call it a panoramic gif. The steps are outlined here. The gist of the process involves extracting frames from video and then aligning them to stabilize the ground. Since the video footage panned to follow the car, the result is basically a fast moving panorama.

A similar technique was used to stabilize this ski jump. Many other examples can be found in the /ImageStabilization subreddit.

SMC Pentax DA 1:4-5.6 50-200mm ED WR

I’m not a fan of telephoto zooms in general. The good ones are big, heavy, and expensive. The cheap, small, light ones just aren’t very good. In my opinion, Pentax excels when it goes after high optical quality, high build quality, and small size at the cost of weight and sale price. That’s the formula for the Limiteds and the reason I bought a Pentax in the first place.

Big Moon

Even though I rarely enjoy using telephoto zooms, I miss not having one. I live in constant fear that I’ll see a gazelle 100 meters away and I’ll be unable to fill the frame with its face. I had the Tamron 70-300 for A-mount, and I had a lot of fun with it. Probably the best lens of the type for the money. Tamron sells the same lens for K-mount, but I wanted something smaller and weather proofier.

Puget Sound Orcas

I didn’t feel a need for a K-mount telephoto zoom for a while because I got a manual focus Pentax M 135mm f/3.5 essentially for free. That lens doesn’t have the best reputation among Pentaxians, but I found it to be a gem. Small, fast enough, and pretty good optically. Manual focusing on a DSLR is not my favorite, but I managed some nice shots with the lens and got used to its quality for my telephoto shots. Instead of honing my skills with a quality lens, I decided I had to have a lens with autofocus and weather proofing.

Tongue Out

Enter the SMC Pentax blah blah 50-200 blah blah WR. It’s small, light, inexpensive, zoomy, autofocussy and weather proof. It’s also built well for a modern lens. I like everything about it except for the image quality. The image quality isn’t bad at all, but it’s nothing special. Furthermore, with all the convenience features like zoominess and autofocosity, I get lazy and take boring photos. Other photographers most certainly make fantastic photos with this lens, but I struggle with it.

Mount Rainier from Kent Washington

Maybe that says more about me than about the lens.