Friday, March 17, 2017

Sony 55-210mm Zoom Lens

We ordered the Sony E 55-210mm zoom lens as a Christmas present.  It turns out there was a full moon on Dec 24th, 2015.  Using the tips from Stunning Digital Photography, I was able to get the following shot on my second attempt.

210mm, f/6.3, 1/2000s, ISO 800, cropped to 20% of original size

One really nice feature of this lens, as with most of Sony's lenses for the E-mount systems, is that it has built-in optical image stabilization.  This is readily apparent at high magnification when looking through the viewfinder. As soon as the shutter button is depressed half-way, there is a noticeable drop in image shake.  With the stabilization, I could have used a much slower shutter speed in this case.

Contrast in the image, above, has been enhanced in post-processing by blending in a bit of Darktable's highpass module output, and giving it a bump in detail with the local contrast module.

Needless to say, this lens enables wildlife photography.  Below, the red-crested cardinal bathes in our fountain, and a male golden plover in breeding season colors struts his stuff in a neighbor's yard.
210mm, f6.3, 1/400s, ISO1250
210mm, f18, 1/250s, ISO 400,
This is a relatively inexpensive lens, so it is not "fast" -- its minimum aperture varies with magnification from f4.5 to f6.3.  Even so, its possible to get some shallow depth of field effects by focusing on nearby subjects at higher magnifications.

Nanook, 136mm, f/6.3, 1/160s, ISO 100

Nalu, 155mm, f/5.6, 1/100s, ISO 100

Hono Hono Orchid
194mm, f/6.3, 1/320s, ISO 800

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Long Exposure Night Photography

One of the first accessories I purchased for the a6000 was a tripod.  I picked up the Mamiya 1507 for $90 used on Craigslist.  It has a pan and tilt head, which I think is intended for video work, but its rock-solid.  My only complaint so far is that it gets a bit heavy after carrying it for a while.

On Halloween, 2015, I took the camera, an LED flashlight, and the tripod out to the front yard, and while waiting for the trick-or-treaters to come by I experimented with some long exposures in full manual mode.  The image below is a 15 second exposure, during which I painted the face of the pumpkin and the green plastic candy bowl with light from the flashlight, and then half-way through the exposure removed the bowl to give it the translucent, see-through appearance.  The light painting balanced the difference between the candle-lit interior of the pumpkin, and its exterior, which would have been too dark without some additional light.

Sorry, kiddies -- the candy bowl is a hologram!  f/16, 15 seconds, 50mm, ISO 100

This image was one of my first taken in RAW format.   At the time, I think I processed and converted the image, at least in part, using Sony's Image Data Converter tool, since it would be several more months before I discovered Darktable, my current choice of RAW editor and cataloging software.   

First Pictures with the Sony a6000

In September 2015, Laurie and I purchased a Sony a6000 camera - it is a mirrorless, APS-C, interchangeable lens system, with an electronic viewfinder and modes that support everything from fully automatic to complete manual operation. We didn't know how to use it, so I bought Tony Northrup's book Stunning Digital Photography in order to start learning.  We took a trip which included a visit with Eric in Virginia that October, and went to the National Mall on a beautiful day...

f/8, 1/320s, 16mm, ISO 100

At this point I was still shooting JPEG, and "editing" in Picasa.   Edits were largely just cropping the images.  The photo above has been center-cropped down to 65% of its original size.

On that same trip, while visiting Laurie's dad in Ft. Meyers, Florida, we drove through J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge.

We'll Heed the Sign

In California, we stopped and visited Laurie's mom, Katie, and her husband, Dick.  The overcast day provided nice even lighting.