My first lens purchase - separate from the one that came with the camera body - was Nikon's 10.5 mm fisheye. This was when the D70 was a new camera. I loved the lens then and I still love it today because it captures the full 180° view of what my eyes see. Yes it lacks the brain's ability to de-fish and yes you can de-fish in software but it doesn't look any good if you ask me. I shoot assuming what i see is what I'll get. Not only is it wide, it's the closest focusing lens I own.
The accompanying photo is an example of what I use the fisheye for: to capture the inside of a room. In this case the room is my greenhouse and I'm using a Sigma 15mm, a full-frame fisheye. My initial impression is that, just like the Nikon, the Sigma's output doesn't need much sharpening. But I found my exteriors blown out so I'm using some negative exposure comp. For example, this is second-darkest of a exposure-bracketed set of five.
Today, Bloomsday, I added Ulysses to my audible collection. After an hour of listening, while I transplanted basil seedlings, it struck me that Ulysses needs more attention so I'll listen when I can give it full focus. Perhaps this will be the year I finish this book.
Dualingo French progress: I'm on a 12-day streak, up to People lesson 2. Damn further than I ever got to with Dualingo's Spanish and Italian. I feel like I'm getting through the lessons faster, a lot faster, but don't know if I'm actually retaining stuff or maybe it's an illusion as you can't fail a lesson anymore.
Just off Fisgard in Victoria's small Chinatown is the narrow Fan Tam Alley, a good place for a wide-angle lens. This was taken with a fisheye then processed with Topaz Simplify to get this, well, simplified version.
Some people call fisheyes the skateboarder lens so here is the requisite shot, taken at a street fair in Victoria. I'd say the lens lives up to its rep. Note that this is one of the rare times I put the camera in auto-area AF as the action is too fast for me to decide where to focus.
The June 18th episode of RadioLab, Eye in the Sky, examines an aerial camera that can take a picture of a whole town every second. Well, a reasonably-sized town like Juarez or Dayton. The camera takes a shot every second which is then sent to a ground station where the results are sifted for patterns of interest. This may not sound so interesting as we've all seen shots from hight up in space, but it's the camera's proximity to the ground and the ground station's ability to identify patterns that is a big step forward. It gives one the ability to go back in time - photographically - second-by-second, with a resolution that is sufficient to identify the patterns of individual movements.
The technology was developed at MIT and first flown over Fallujah where it was used to track the movement of IEDs. It has since been used to solve crimes in a couple of North American cities. While its privacy implications have yet to be worked out, it's a technology application that seems obvious in retrospect. Listening to the podcast made me think I was listening to science fiction with it's hint of time-travel.
Below is a shot of Paul in a Victoria coffee shop. No, he hasn't started drinking coffee. Processed with Simplify.
Yesterday was still and warm, perfect for a quick trip to Vancouver. I was glad to have a telephoto and a fisheye as I got a glimpse of a pod of killer whales plus several shots of sunstars.
The berries in the picture are Albion strawberries from my greenhouse. I don't have a lot of success growing fruits and vegetables so I celebrate when I get something edible, and these are very edible. I started with a box of dry-rooted plants a few years ago and by the second year they were producing beautiful red berries like crazy. Not as sweet as the Quinault and Ever Sweet I added this year but boy these Albions are prettier. I thought they were done for this year, they looked tired and the few berries were devoured by pill bugs, but suddenly the bugs went away and the plants took off.
Along with pondering ways of eating strawberries I've been listening to two deliveries of Ulysses. I started the audible.com Ulysses read by Jim Norton on June 16. Soon afterwards I added Frank Delaney's re: Joyce podcast. Five weeks and 48 podcasts later I'm approaching the end of chapter one. So far Joyce has maintained my interest. At this pace I don't know how long it will take to complete the book but at least I am getting to know Joyce's stand in Stephen Dedalus, Buck Mulligan, the Englishman Haines, and a bit of Irish history, especially vis-a-vis the Brits.
I'm also working my way through Duolingo. No, I'm not doing Irish, I'm doing French and Spanish - I'm on a 50-day streak - and occasionally I do a lesson in Portuguese or Dutch. I hesitated to jump into two languages at once but I've found it not as confusing as I feared.
Adios and au revoir.
Meteor shots can be taken with a wide angle lens, a tripod, and a camera set on long exposure, typically 30 seconds or more. A lot of waiting in the dark of course but with some tunes and a glass of wine sitting out under the summer stars is not a bad way to spend some time.
I first tried this two years ago, also in August, during the Perseid shower. Lucky me, on my first night out I got a decent shot of a Perseid meteor. It's the second one below. I used bulb mode on the D300 and a timer on my android along with a wired remote to control the shutter.
So this morning, just after midnight, I spent about an hour taking sky shots to see if I can better the 2013 shot. I used the 15 mm fisheye to get more sky, a little higher ISO as I'm using a newer sensor, and a 30-sec exposure. Each 30-second exposure is followed by 30 seconds of noise reduction so each shot takes a minute, half of which time the shutter is closed and of course that's when I seemed to see the most meteors falling down though maybe I was imagining them. This morning I pulled the 53 shots into Lightroom, jacked up the lightness, and found two with meteors. Not very pretty meteors, though, with jagged trails. I guess I need to keep working on my recipe.
If tonight's clear I'm going to try again, but I'll use a non-fisheye wide angle, the same 11-16 as I used before. I don't like the curved horizon I'm getting from the 15. I'll also use the D800e's interval shooting function which I've been testing.
I spent two hours last night with the Nikon practicing for tonight's Perseid shower. Actually much of the time was spent on the couch, drinking wine, as the camera's interval timer does the grunt work. I didn't expect to catch much in the way of meteors, it was more about getting the exposure right and the interval timer working, so I was pleased to find two of sixty shots show what look like faint meteors. Study the upper left of the shot below and you'll see it, though maybe not on a phone.
Taking a photo of a meteor is different from your typical photo. A wide fast lens is good for this so I used both a 20/2.8 and a 15/2.8. I much prefer the fisheye but I know some people hate the distortion. The camera's settings were as follows:
Why these settings? Thirty seconds is long enough to get a nice streak but not so long as to get star trails. The matrix exposure setting is Nikon-speak for whatever is the camera's smartest exposure algorithms. ISO? Well, I'm still experimenting. It's 1250 here. And set LENR to ON so that the camera takes a second shot each time, for the same exposure length, but with the shutter closed. Then the camera subtracts the second from the first, thereby removing some noise. Note this more than doubles the time for a shot as the camera has to perform the calculations and write the image file or files to the card.
Next, place the camera on a tripod and position it to get a broad swath of night sky.
Finally, set up the camera to automatically take a series of photos. The interval timer needs to know how many photos to take and the time between each photo. For example, say you've an hour before you go to bed and so you want the camera to shoot for sixty minutes. A thirty second exposure takes the camera no less than sixty seconds (remember the LENR?) so we can take at most sixty shots per hour. A little less actually. I add a generous 15-second cushion between each shot making the interval 1 min 15 seconds for a 30-second exposure.
Now that we've the interval length and number of intervals go to the Nikon's interval timer. This is a powerful feature but it's a bit awkward to use. Here is the path I use through the timer's menus:
While the Nikon was busy I spent some time with the Fuji X-pro2, shooting the sky with the 16mm, and I found it has a similar interval timer, though it can only do one shot per interval.
I am listening to Trouble by Jose James.
A sky-full of shooting stars was what I hoped for but no, just the occasional singleton. A trickle. 48 out of 358 shots had something, which sounds good, but most were but a faint trace. Was I too early? Too late? Wrong ISO? Or was the shower masked by the lights of Port Angeles? Clearly, more experimentation is called for.
The second shot is darker because it was taken later the same evening and has a lower ISO.
I'm listening to the president's 2016 summer spotify playlist: day which triggers feelings of impending loss, the loss of a cool and scandal-free president.
I'm working my way through several texts at the moment, The Odyssey, Trollope's The Warden, and my November ballot for the state of California. The last is hardest.
It's not all hard. It starts off easy, especially if you do the lazy thing (it's lazy according to my father) and vote a straight-party ticket. No party, skip. So no, I can't complain, not hard.
But this being California, the rest of the ballot contains propositions, lots of propositions. Twenty four this time. It's here in the propositions where the ballot gives the Odyssey a run for most variety though of course Homer is far better written.
The propositions on the ballot range from dry economics (bonds) to the tawdry (un-condomed porn stars). There are propositions on guns, illegal drugs, the death penalty, the death penalty again, plastic bags, and plastic bags again. There are propositions on the criminal justice system, English-language proficiency, prescription drug pricing, and whether to extend a tax on hospitals. Whew.
It's a lot to digest and become a faux-expert on overnight, though like most voters I look at who supports what and vote accordingly. I really don't know what I think of California's direct-ish democracy, it seems both messy and empowering, but I'll continue to participate in it. But there is one thing I know, I need a beer.
I'm listening to Seal's Don't Make Me Wait.
My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane. From a David Sipress cartoon
It's all snowy outside, an appropriate time to read a Russian novel, and I just finished one, the Brothers Karamazov. Even though it was first published in 1879 it's modern. It is also long and takes a little dedication at times. Several times I listened ahead then resumed reading where I'd left off. It's got richly-developed characters, a tale that could fill a Netflix series, and endless discussions centered on the existence of god (this is where the dedication comes in). The only other challenge is the myriad of confusingly-named characters.
Since Dostoyevsky wrote in Russian and I read only in English I had to select a translation. I selected the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation because I happened to have read their Tolstoys. But I supplemented it with Audible's Constance Garnet translation (spoken by Constantine Gregory) and while I picked out differences I can't say one is better. The audio book is especially useful for getting a head start into the slow-going parts.
A slightly better shot of the Milky Way, helped by using a wider lens and higher ISO. Unfortunately, since taking this shot the skies over Vancouver Island have turned grey from smoke and haze.