Friday, January 26, 2007

England's Rose

Goodbye England's rose,
may you ever grow in our hearts.
You were the grace that placed itself
where lives were torn apart.

--Elton John

White Rose Taken with new Sigma 70-300 tele/zoom/macro lens
Macro setting
Smith River, California

Gary told me that I should do whatever it took to see Helen Mirren in The Queen. So, being the good, obedient partner that I am, I did. It’s currently playing at the multiplex in Crescent City, and tonight I sat in the theatre and become completely lost in the story. I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets when I tell you that the movie is based on the week following the death of Princess Diana and focuses on the reactions of the Royal Family, principally HRH Queen Elizabeth II, and newly elected Prime Minister Tony Blair. Here and now I will echo Gary’s suggestion: Do whatever it takes to see this movie! You will not be disappointed.

Today’s blog will be short. I’m expanding my photographic repertoire and recently bought two more lenses for the D80 through e-Bay. The second of the lenses arrived today. (The first has not yet arrived, and I have no idea when it will get here as I cannot get the seller—a reputable camera supply house with a national presence—to give me any tracking information.) The lens that did come is essentially the same as the “long” lens I have on my Pentax film camera—a Sigma 70-300 mm telephoto/zoom/macro lens with a Nikon mount. It was sold as a lens for a Nikon film camera, but everything I’ve read indicates that all lens that fit Nikon film cameras will also fit Nikon digital SLRs. In one sense I was buying a pig in a poke, but I got the lens for such a good price, and I love the same lens on the Pentax, so let’s give it a shot, I said. If nothing else, I can always resell it.

Well, as I said, it was delivered by the US Post Office this morning, and I’ve been playing with it happily ever since. My first impression was that it did not focus as quickly as the other two lenses that came with the camera. Now, after taking over a hundred shots at Point St. George this afternoon, I think it’s working just fine. One of the first “macro” shots I took was of the primrose I bought for the back yard. Actually I bought four primroses, in four different colors, but the mouse that lives behind the washing machine ate the flowers before I got them outside. At this point, only the yellow has put out new flowers, so that’s what I used to test the lens. Yesterday I had taken the same shot with my 50-200 mm Sigma tele/zoom lens, but as it does not have a macro setting, I couldn’t get close enough to get a real macro, or close-up, shot. The new lens did just fine, thank you.

Primroses in Back Yard
This photo is larger than life sized
Macro Setting
Smith River, California

The movie started at 6:00 pm, so before heading to the multiplex, I took my new lens to Point St. George to see if I could get a good shot of the St. George Reef Lighthouse. The sky was overcast with a heavy haze, so while I got a better shot of the lighthouse than I’ve ever taken before, it’s a very gray picture. I won’t share it with you. BUT, next time the sun shines and the sky and ocean are blue, I’ll be back out there, camera and long lens in hand.

As I look back on the afternoon, it seems appropriate to combine St. George and The Queen. Instead of going down to the beach, as I always have in the past, I crossed the headlands and spent a pleasant hour or so taking shots from the cliffs. Again, since it was overcast and hazy, most of my pics came out quite gray in color, but I was having fun and getting used to a new piece of equipment, so what does it matter. I did have some company in the form of a small red-breasted bird who flew down in front of me and proceeded to dance around in front of my lens. It was as if he knew he had an audience and he was quite the performer. I took several shots of him until finally he ended up at the edge of the cliff, then flew off. I thought you might enjoy seeing the little fellow perched on the edge.

Bird on Cliff
Point St. George, California

Tomorrow I head south to the resort community of Guerneville on the Russian River. I plan to get lots of good shots of the area, including Fort Ross—the southern most Russian settlement in North America. I have fond memories of the tide pools in the Fort Ross area, so I’m looking forward to visiting them as well. I also look forward to the hot tub at the Highlands Resort, and three days in a gay environment. It should refresh my soul which is sorely needed at this point.

And for those of you who know my other artistic love, weaving, know that I haven’t given it up. I brought two small looms, one inkle and one rigid heddle, with me from Montana, and this past summer I bought a 10-harness floor loom manufactured by the FJ Ahrens Company in Oakland California. Ahrens is a big name in looms, but this loom has to be one of their early models. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I am weaving a set of tea towels on it, and just for grins and giggles, here’s a pic of the work in progress.

Work in Progress
Tea Towel on FJ Ahrens Loom
Smith River, California

I plan on writing while I’m on the Russian River, but I’m not sure if I’ll have enough internet access to actually post anything while I’m there. So, if you don’t hear from me for the next few days, that’s why.


1 comment:

Carl said...

I'm glad you're enjoying the new toys! So are we. Check out LALauren in eyefetch. her work is with a Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D, a 6.1 megapixel camera that is no longer made, as K-M is now out of the camera business. It is the only dSLR I've found that has the stabilization feature, for which K-M won an award in 2005. I think the clarity on her hand held flower pictures is stunning, and the kind of clarity I'm so frustrated about not getting with 8.1 mp. She took them in bright sunlight, so her depth-of-field was excellent. That is a problem I see with your flower shots, where the foremost part of the flower is in focus, while the rest of it softens with depth and loses some of the punch it would have otherwise. Anyway, that's my 2-cents as I sit here in agony as my back pain has worsened greatly, beyond anything I've ever experienced, and I don't know what to do about it. I'll be looking forward to your reports and pictures from Ft. Ross and G'ville. Have a marvelously hot time!