When in Rome…we visited perhaps the most interesting monument to me, a scholar of ancient Judaism. The Arch of Titus was built in 82 CE by Domitian after the death of his older brother, Titus. It commemorates Titus’ victories, particularly the siege and conquest of Jerusalem in 70 CE, depicted by the 7-branched menorah.
Florence, “Firenze” in Italian (I only point that out because I had no idea), is a beautiful, busy, and crowded city. Taking good pictures of the buildings would require a tilt-shift lens, but I was fascinated by the people taking selfies. I am not going to criticize them, I don’t think they were self-obsessed or narcissistic. In fact, most were taking pictures of themselves with others. And all to commemorate that they had been to this special city. People have been commemorating such pilgrimages since antiquity. Here are a few snaps of people snapping themselves.
This gentleman sits in his little shop writing and illuminating texts. Many of which are in Hebrew, from the Bible and other texts. (I saw one quote from Pirkei Avot.) This day, he was working on a text and image for a Bar Mitzvah.
The artist’s name is Even Caredio and his site can be found here: http://www.adarveadar.com This is the piece we purchased. Like many, we used this quote from Song of Songs in our wedding.
Near my house there is a overflow pond full of reeds. A few weeks ago hundreds of small birds were there (starlings, I suspect). I did not get out in time to try and photograph them, as they wheeled in the sky then settled in the reeds to chitter and chirp. When I did go out last week there was one, solitary bird: a breeding male, red-winged blackbird. It was dusk and I was shooting with the Nikkor 200-500 f5.6. It is an excellent lens, but the light was low and I am not experienced at shooting birds in flight. Still, here are a few shots. I hope through the summer to work harder to learn the technique as the equipment is excellent, it is the photographer who is lacking in skill.
Better day, better weather, better light. Here are a few shots that turned out fairly well.
I have recently moved to the University of Kentucky. The entire region has been rubber banding back and forth between spring and snow. (As I write this in early April we are due for another 1-3″ of snow Friday night.) It is nothing on the scale of central PA, but then again, they aren’t used to having much of any snow. A few weeks ago, walking in to my office, the snow was beautiful and I had, as always, my iPhone X on hand. These are a few snaps.
Yesterday there were massive rains on the mountain. I am told that it even dislodged borders that rolled into the streets causing massive damage to cars and the roadway. I took another two more hikes after the rain, last evening and again this morning. Here are few shots, particularly of flora and snails. At the end I came across an amazing rock formation, a kind of bunker, but my photos do not do it justice. I have included a few so that you can get the idea.
For Episcopalians in the southeast Sewanee, the home of the University of the South, is considered the “Holy Mountain.” I am spending this year in Nashville and this week took a bit of a retreat to St. Mary’s Sewanee. We have had massive amounts of rain, but before the storms came I was able to take a quick hike out to “Bridal Veil Falls.” I did not have ND filters or a tripod so I do not have any photos of the falls with that smooth, graceful look. Still, I was a nice day to take a hike. This morning, in the fog and rain, I took a few shots with the iPhone 7 plus. A remarkably good camera as well. I have added those at the end.
Taking pictures of a concert aren’t easy. It requires fast glass and access. Recently I have met some wonderful people who just happen to be incredible musicians. SM invited me to a gig for the Beattles cover band he is a part of, SixtyFour. It was a small venue, a local wings bar, and a fun crowd of the older generation who danced to the tunes of their youth. The lighting was good, but not great. Once thing I have found is that the multicolor lights and various textures and elements often on a stage can be distracting. Solution: convert to black and white. For example, this is a nice image in color. Steve is crisp and clear, the Corona neon looks nice, and overall not a bad image.
But in B&W it has mood and character that the color just doesn’t have.
In the end, it is personal choice, but I like the black and white so here is a selection from the evening.
This morning as the sun came up the dew was thick upon the grass and near me was the camera with the 200-500mm lens on it. Nikon says it is good for macro photography so why not? Being a 6 pound lens it is a bit unwieldy for a lot of close work (close being relative, roughly 5 feet away) but it did yield nice, crisp shots with beautiful bokeh even at f5.6.
UPDATE: I spotted a hummingbird from a long way off. Take a look at the uncropped and cropped photos. Not bad. Remember this is with a D810 and the 200-500, handheld.
Yesterday the Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6E arrived and it seems like suddenly all the critters in the backyard disappeared! There will be a lot of experimenting to get used to it and find the best settings for various situations. I started this morning with a few shots of the dog and then, through a window, I managed to get this squirrel with a nut in its mouth running across the yard. So, early trials but it is a very solid lens and a great value.
For Father’s Day 2016 my wife and daughter took me to the beautiful neighboring town of Bellefonte for their “Cruise” and a ride on the historic train. It was a short journey of 4.5 miles, but when you are only making 6 miles an hour, it takes a while. I took my camera (as one does) and took a few snaps. The cars were amazing. The ones featured here are the engine of a ’67 Jaguar E Type, a ’63 Corvette, a Plymouth Duster (with the Road Runner stripe), a modified Studebaker (I think), and an all original 1955 Pontiac Star Chief. The owner, pictured next to his Star Chief, told me that it has been in his family since 1961. His father sold it at one point, but the current owner bought it back. It was the first car he drove and just last year he drove it to Tennessee and back. “It’s a great highway cruising car,” he told me.
This weekend was the fourth running of the US Grand Prix in Austin, TX. I joined two close friends for an incredible weekend. Wet, but incredible. We sat through a torrential downpour for the UT game, they beat K State fairly convincingly (if you ignore the second and third quarters) and Sunday morning we headed out early to catch the qualifying round that was cancelled from the day before and finally at 2 PM the race would get underway. Assuming, of course, that the rain would stop. This would be the race at which Lewis Hamilton secured his third world championship.
Regarding camera gear, I rented the Sigma 150-600, f5-6.3. It is a heavy, solid lens in every sens of the term. Very fast focusing and quiet. But I did not have a lot of time to play with it before the race. I may not have gotten the best out of it but I used it well! It certainly was much better once the sky lightened, the 5-6.3 limitation is just that with overcast or low levels of light. I have over 2200 images to review, so here are just a couple for now.
The full album (unedited) is up on Flickr now. A few more pics are below.