Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The San Rafael Valley and using old photo equipment.

I went and photographed last Friday down near Harshaw, a ghost town east of Patagonia, Arizona. There is an old cemetery, a couple of old buildings and a number of sycamore trees in the area. Nearby is the San Rafael Valley and I got up there near sunset and took a couple of images. This one shows the grassland from a wide angle perspective.

Last week I was reading about lens adapters for using old manual lenses on modern auto-focus digital camera bodies. I still have the Pentax equipment I inherited from my father so I ordered an adapter to allow me to mount M42 screw mount lenses on my Canon 40D and 450D. One of the things I have in that old kit is a set of three extension tubes that allow close-up photography. I don't have a set of Canon extension tubes and auto-focus really doesn't help much at high magnification anyway so I've been trying the combination of 450D, extension tubes, and my 28mm f3.5 Super Takumar lens. Here is an example image of a dime. Click on the image to see a bigger version. Its almost like using a microscope.

This coming weekend I'm heading up to Flagstaff (I have to be there Monday for work) so I'll see what I can find to photograph. I'm thinking of trying some stuff in small towns along the way, perhaps even photograph local people, we'll see.

In other news, I'm working on some of my vehicles. I traded my '59 VW panel van to a friend for some help with repairs on my '66 VW microbus. I've also taken the '54 J.C. Higgins bicycle down to the shop to have the rear wheel rebuilt and the bottom bracket replaced.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New bicycle, experiments with camera mount, and 4th Ave.

Over the weekend I traded in my 3-wheel recumbent for a new touring bicycle. I'm planning to ride across Iowa in July with a friend and decided this was a good upgrade for such a trip. I haven't ever had a real touring bike and do enjoy long bicycle trips when I get in shape and have a chance to participate in one. The ride across Iowa is an organized ride called the "Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa" or RAGBRAI.

I decided I'd try to document this event since I enjoy photography so much. Instead of having to stop my bicycle to get my camera out of the bag, I thought it would be best to mount the camera on the bicycle so it would always be at the ready. Another thing that can be done with a bicycle mounted camera is take short video clips while riding. I've come up with a handlebar mount that works fairly well although I'll be working on improvements as I go along. The mount looks like this:

I've posted a video I took yesterday while riding: movie (34 mbytes)

Also yesterday, I went down to 4th Avenue to take a few photographs. They are having the street fair and, since I don't like crowds, I went down at 7 AM to see what might be of interest. I found some of the advertising interesting as well as some of the shop windows with the sun shining into them. I've talked to some of the neighborhood folks in that area and they make quite a bit of money selling beer to visitors. Here is a photograph of one of the beer booths:

Many of the shop widows along the street have security screens or grates across their windows when they are closed. I photographed this dragon behind one of the grates, he looks angry at being imprisoned!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Visit to the Gila River

Last weekend I visited various places along the Gila River in south eastern Arizona. I went to the Gila Box riparian area and I visited various small towns along the Gila south of Morenci, along highway US 75. There was good flow in the river and I saw a few folks with inflatable rafts and kayaks in the area although, generally, there weren't many people around:

Traveling along route 75 next to the river I found quite a bit of agriculture although I'm not sure what was being grown because it is still very early in the season. I ate breakfast in Duncan on Sunday and got into a conversation with a man who has lived in that small town (pop. 750) all his life (70 years). We talked about floods, big towns, small towns, the weather, life in Duncan, etc. In Shelton, Arizona I met a couple of dogs who were quite friendly but smelled of skunk! Here is a photo of them taken with a wide angle lens:

In a couple of weeks, I'll be heading up to Flagstaff to work with some folks at the USGS for a day or two. I'll plan to go up early and try some photography in some of the small towns in the area (perhaps).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Brief update

I guess I'm not a very good blogger! I'll try to do a bit better than one post every 14 months!

I've been doing quite a bit of photography lately, I was in Alaska last September and Yosemite a couple of weeks ago. I have been playing around lately with some new ideas and some new equipment. For example, when I was in Yosemite, I photographed an Incense Cedar tree and thought it would look good in low contrast black and white. The result was this:

I think I'll try this sort of low contrast shot with lots of fine detail more often, perhaps with other kinds of trees around southern Arizona. I might try using a telephoto lens to compress space so I can get a lot of trees in one shot.

Another thing that has been fun is my ultra wide angle lens I bought for my camera (Sigma 10-20mm). The distortion and wide field effects look amazing sometimes. Here is a photo I took in downtown Tucson on Sunday of a handrail for a series of steps:

Click on the pictures to see full size versions. I'll try to do some experiments this weekend.....