Tuesday, November 29, 2011

So, what happened? Why no new pictures?

Well, this is kind of embarrassing. Shortly after buying my spiffy new Nikon... I dropped it and damaged the zoom lens. I was out on a bike ride with it in the handlebar bag of my touring bike, and stopped to take a picture of fall foliage. As I've done many times in the past, I kept one foot clipped into a pedal, and planted my other foot, before reaching for the camera. Somewhere in the process, the front wheel flopped to one side and the bike started to fall over, with me still clipped to the pedal. In the scramble that ensued, the camera slipped from my grasp and landed on the front edge of the lens. I checked it out afterwards, and the zoom no longer zoomed the full range, and the autofocus mechanism seemed wonky too. Sigh. At least it's likely to be covered by one of those extended warranties that covers damage from drops and such.

In the meantime though, since the camera body itself escaped damage, I decided to buy an additional lens, so I can continue to use it and learn about it, while the kit lens is in the shop. With so many options, and limited funds, I was in a quandary... so I turned to the internet and found no shortage of advice on such things. One really good site for solid advice is Ken Rockwell's website, which gives all kinds of tips on buying and using camera gear. From Ken and others, the impression I got was that a "prime" lens (fixed focal length, not a zoom) with a wide aperture would be a very handy thing to have. So I bought myself a Nikon 35mm f/1.8 lens, and I have to say I'm glad I did. Basically, the 35mm on my D3100 is the equivalent of the 50mm I used for years on my film SLR, a Pentax K1000, and I used that one lens for everything back when I used that camera regularly.

So how do I like it so far? I love it... it's a very nice, sharp lens, and allows me to take pictures in lower light than a zoom would, with the wide aperture. Another plus about an f/1/8 lens is that it gives you a lot of opportunity to play with "depth of field"... so I can take photos where the foreground is very sharp but everything else is fuzzy, or vice versa. And with the various levels of control the camera itself gives me, I can do some fun things with it. Finally, it's a very light and compact lens, so if I was concerned about carrying the lightest bundle of camera gear with me (assuming using this D3100), I'd probably grab just the 35mm lens. While I'll admit a zoom is very handy, there's also something pure and simple about one focal length... it forces you to really think about composition and how to position yourself for a shot.

So despite my mishap, I'm still having fun with my new camera, and getting a better handle on how to use it with each time I shoot.

Some photos with the "prime" lens can be seen here:

Nikon D3100 35mm f/1.8 lens first shots

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Autumn Morning Ride

Got out this morning for a short ride on my Bridgestone RB-2... one of my few "racing" bikes... circa 1992. One of those bikes that kind of inspires spirited riding... note that I didn't say "fast"!  Truth be told, while I was zipping along on my way out of town, feeling alive and strong and fast, a guy in full race kit on some modern high end bike went past me like I was standing still. Okay, maybe not standing still, but definitely out of his league.

But that's ok with me.  I'm happy to ride my own version of "fast" (ish) and still stop and take a few pictures of the beautiful day happening around me.

Gorgeous morning... chilly! Probably about 40 degrees when I went out, wearing a long sleeve wool jersey and cycling tights and wool gloves, plus a windbreaker. Frost on the brush, low angle of the sun in the sky, creatures stirring to start their day or to retreat into the woods for the day. A cluster of 5 - 6 does lingering in the middle of the path, then running into the woods at my approach.  The kind of morning that reminds me of mornings long ago when I would accompany my dad on his bird hunting trips. I never got into hunting... just not my thing. Still those were gorgeous mornings, up and out early, in a beautiful setting, spending time with my dad doing something he loved.

A good start to my day today.

A Treat For the Senses

I just got in from a night walk, and I have to say, it was lovely out there. A night full of sights, sounds, and smells. Crisp, cool night air lends itself to such things, doesn't it?

Just a quick cataloging of the sensory treats -

The smell of a lumberyard... I'd forgotten how delicious the scent of cut wood is.

Remarkably bright stars for a suburban sky... with one bright planet among them.  No idea which one.

Spotting the white-flag tail of a number of deer as they ran away at my approach.

The scent of one of those deer that let me approach closer than most.

Now and then, that strange sizzling sound high voltage power lines make.

The smell of someone's early season fireplace smoke.

Sitting quietly at the bank of a small stream, listening to its many voices, tumbling over rocks.

The quiet peace of a solitary night walk.