April 9, 2018

Cloudy, 30 Degrees, Calm Winds.

This morning is gray, gray, gray. It’s also cold. Not dead of winter cold, but certainly not spring-like. The light is about as flat and colorless as you can imagine, so landscape photographs are not likely today. With that in mind, I took the Canon 5ds and put on the 70 ā€“ 200mm zoom, figuring I’d shoot some closeups and whatever else caught my eye.

A day like today drives home the point that I’ve been slowly realizing for weeks now. Spring, at least this spring, is a very slow affair. I’ve been expecting it on some level for over a month, and intensely for weeks. But it’s coming only at a glacial pace. In short, the seasons change slowly. There is not a switch that says Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. It’s a continuous change and it happens over months, not days or weeks.

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Sure, there will be a fairly short period when the leaves finally come out in earnest, and we have warm, sunny days, and it feels like spring has arrived, but it’s been coming oh-so-slowly for weeks and I have been way too eager to see it arrive.

Once at the woods, I noticed some delicate little twigs that were contrasting with their backgrounds, so I shot a few different compositions of them. It’s a very minimal subject, but I like playing with organic compositions, so I enjoyed making these shots.

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When I descended into the woods proper, I noticed how the tree bark was looking in this light, so I took a few shots of particular trees. They looked like black and white photos in this light and I’ll experiment with what they look like in monochrome. Just for kicks.

Down at the pine grove, I put on an extension tube and tried to get closeups of those little Pine flowers and some of the little pine cones on a couple of evergreens beside the trail.

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Removing the extension tube again, I shot the road on the way out, and a couple of trees along the road that caught my eye. Near home, I put the extension tube again so I could get close to a couple of different conifers with distinctive cones and needles. Then I shot the Magnolia in front of the house again, and the Maple in the back.

The Magnolia’s leaves are coming on fast, so I wanted to document them. The Maple looks essentially unchanged from last week. I keep hoping to see something happen, but not yet.

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Yesterday I wrote that I was thinking of trading in my big Canon 5ds for a smaller Sony A7R III. I thought the A7R was similar to my little NEX-7, but I was wrong. It’s closer to a full size DSLR, even though it looks more like a compact camera and uses an electronic viewfinder.

I did the math on the A7R III and I see that the A7R is not really much smaller than the Canon 5ds. It would weigh only about 15% less than the Canon when combined with two commonly used lenses. The NEX-7 is 70% lighter than the Canon when combined with two lenses. Now that’s a big difference.

The A7R III is also pretty darned expensive, especially when combined with the good quality lenses it would require. Combine that with the slight loss in resolution and the better viewfinder in the Canon and it just doesn’t make sense to consider changing. I do like the look of the A7R, and I like some of the features it offers, but it wouldn’t be worth changing to save so little size and weight.

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Not sure if those are incipient Pine cones or maybe new branches?

So, I need to set this idea aside and perhaps consider getting a better quality lens for the NEX-7 in the wider focal lengths. The wide lens I have now is pretty cheesy and I could do better without spending a fortune. I actually have a few lenses for it that I don’t use, so I could sell them and buy a better wide zoom.

Of course it’s exciting to think about a cool new camera, but I need to put that out of my mind and get back to using the Canon more regularly. It makes fantastic quality images and it’s not so heavy that I can’t carry it. So I guess the dream of a small, light, compact camera that is capable of great images remains out of reach. Maybe next year?

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This is a different conifer, but the flowers are similar, if less colorful.

I did use the Canon today and it is a satisfying camera to use. It’s a little boring looking, but the viewfinder is beautiful and it has a solid, professional quality that is palpable. It is heavy, though, especially with the 70 ā€“ 200mm lens. It’s almost four and a half pounds. Holding it up and trying to delicately compose a shot and hold it perfectly still to avoid blur, is not easy. You want to pick it up, compose, and put it down.

I guess this is just the price of quality and massive resolution. I used to always shoot with it on a tripod and that eliminates the weight as far as composing shots, but add a couple of pounds for the tripod and now you’re really lugging a heavy rig. The NEX-7 weighs less than a third of the Canon. You can see why I’ve been enjoying carrying it. You barely know it’s there, and you cradle it in your hand like a cool little toy, whereas you heft the Canon like a heavy power tool.

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The Maple seems to be adding buds, but they’re not opening yet.

Over the past couple of months I’ve become so familiar with what to expect from exposure that I make compensations based on what I see in the viewfinder. I occasionally check the histograms, or the image review, but mostly I just know that a medium gray image will expose correctly. An image shot against the sky will require a stop or so of positive exposure compensation. Bright snow will require a little more compensation. A shot of a dark subject, might require one or two thirds of negative compensation.

This is pretty obvious to any photographer that shoots much and doesn’t use the automatic modes. Generally, a camera will underexpose a bright image and overexpose a dark one. That’s a given. But I had never shot enough to consider exactly what kinds of images would require exactly how much compensation. It’s pretty easy with practice, though occasionally checking the histogram, particularly on difficult shots, is a good idea of course.

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