Vivitar 400/5.6 Test Shot

Vivitar 400/5.6 Test Shot

I have a Vivitar 400mm f/5.6 in my stable. The 400mm is not a focal length I use a lot, but it has its place for long shots, particularly of wildlife of both four- and two-footed varieties. The shot was handheld (braced against the door) from my back door. The birds were in a tree about 80–100 feet away. They are sharp enough, but not the kind of razor-sharp image I’d like.

I’ll have to put this lens on a tripod and reshoot. I don’t know if it’s inherent in the design, the focal length, or is a reflection of poor camera technique.

Tokina 28–85/f4 Zoom

Tokina 28-85-4 Test IMy friend Jimmy loaned me a Tokina 28–85/f4 zoom lens in Nikon mount a couple of weeks ago. The lens isn’t particularly fast, but it’s the right focal length for both my D300 and my Nikon film cameras. It’s a chunk of glass and the build quality is excellent. Focus is smooth but not too light. The zoom action is internal (it’s a two-touch zoom) and has no creep. It’s a good match for the dSLR although it’s a bit of a chunk on the Sony NEX-5N, but then what isn’t a chunk on that itty-bitty body?

The lens has been out and about with me several times on the D300. On the crop-sensor camera, it’s in the range from normal to medium telephoto. It’s a little slow to isolate a subject well, but the optics are quite good. I shot the image on morning walkies a few days ago (with the Girl) at 85mm and about f8. It’s sharp enough, especially for a zoom. Color rendition looks neutral to me.

When I grabbed the lens for a closer look, Jimmy said “That’s the last I’ll see of that lens.” He’s probably right.

Walking Over the Water

MercylandThis is one of the best songs from Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us. The song works on many levels. It’s well worth the listen.

I find Kearney’s singing a bit difficult to parse, so I looked up the lyrics to this song. I caught the emotional content just fine without completely understanding the lyrics. The words make it that much more poignant.

My mood fell late yesterday afternoon. I woke this morning, as a friend might put it, just OK. As my morning wears on, I find myself really missing Wife. It was 10 months ago she died. I wake many mornings about 0500 and remember those last few hours, and especially those last few minutes. I’ll be haunted by that time the rest of my life.

Was that you walkin’ across the water? Was that you shining in the face of my Wife?

Walking Over the Water
Mat Kearney

I raised my glass toward heaven
On that night that she was born
Praised your name and gave you thanks
And I bought the house a round

She came like a thief of glory
Stole my pain and gave me life
These tears I thought were long, long gone
Fell like rivers from my eyes

Was that you walking over the water
When the sunlight that came pouring through the cracks
Was that you shining in the face my a daughter
Never thought you’d come again to take me back

Raised my eyes toward heaven
She was floatin’ down our stairs
Backpack and a bright red skirt
And a river of long black hair

He came like a thief of glory
And he stole her heart that day
Ever since she started crawlin’
I always knew she’d sail away

Was that you walking over the water
Well, I watched my baby slippin’ through the cracks
Walked the aisle and gave away my daughter
Never thought there’d come a day she would look back

Raised my fist toward heaven
From that dark forsaken road
Blue lights flashed on broken glass
The siren left me cold

He came like a thief of glory
All he left are fingerprints
Should I thank you, should I blame you
In a storm that won’t relent

Was that you walking over the water
While the ocean came pouring through the cracks
Was that you calling out Adam’s daughter
I never thought you’d come again to take her back
You always said you’d come again to take us back

Remainders 2013-11-16

Here we go…

  • How about a Soulver for starters?
  • If I ever write another distributed report (with coauthors), it will be with LaTeX and Git as the version management tool. Therefore, I’ll need something like Gitbox for my Mac.
  • I used to use vim all the time (under linux). Now I find out there is a vim-LaTeX package that supports my favorite text production tools. Cool!
  • The beginnings of coffee-based film development are at

Fire in the Sky

Portrait Sunset

The other evening I took the Girl out on walkies a bit later than I like. It was overcast and as we walked to the end of the cul-de-sac to access public lands (a place we often walk), I noticed the sky brightening like it does before a sunset occurs. Given the nature of the clouds, I thought it might be something special. I worried we would not get clear of obstructions before the peak time. So, I hurried us along just a little.

I was rewarded with a beautiful sunset. We made it clear of the obstructions of human habitation in time to view it. Well, I viewed it — the Girl was too busy doing doggie things. I made a number of captures over the next 15 minutes. This is one of my favorites. The image was made with my Nikon D300 and a Tokina 28–85/4 zoom. There is some post-processing, but it’s mostly limited to a bit of contrast adjustment, denoise, a hint of saturation, and final sharpening.

Sparks Marina Duck

Sparks Marina Sunset Duck

Saturday afternoon The Girl and I drove to Reno to pick up my Nikon D300 (cleaned) and visit with our friend Jimmy. After shooting the bull at the Camera Clinic for a bit (and wasting Steve’s time), we headed over to the Sparks Marina. After a coffee, we walked around the perimeter. The sun was headed west (somewhere) and the light was beautiful on the water. This duck elected to pose for me. So I took the shot.

I almost forgot. The lens is a Tokina 28–85/4 RMC. It’s one of the better builds I’ve handled. The optics aren’t bad either.

Last Kisses

Last KissesAfter lunch today I was scrounging for a bit of something sweet. I wasn’t looking for too much, but a bite that would clear my palate and provide the sweet satisfaction of dessert without a bunch of additional energy — I mean calories.

A friend brought over a plate of cookies a week or so ago. It was a nice gesture based on the Girl’s hospitalization and was a welcome, warm gift. Young Son and I enjoyed the cookies immensely. As part of the layout, a few Hershey’s kisses were distributed among the cookies. It was sweet, literally and figuratively.

The kisses disappeared along with the cookies, of course. Such is the nature of things, particularly with a couple of men in the house.

So, in my scrounge, I remembered Wife’s cut-glass Hershey’s Kiss container. There were a few of the silvery treats remaining in the container. So, I snagged them.

The poignancy of the moment wasn’t wasted on me. These were the last of Wife’s kisses. Yes, the grief rose up a bit to show itself once again. It’s still there, of course. I shared the last of the kisses with Young Son, who immediately made the connection when I told him the source.

We each reflected on the last kisses in our own way. This is a year of many firsts and lasts. It is my year to grieve my loss, process my grief, own my grief, and I hope and pray to be healed of my grief. It is what it is.

Remainders — 2013-11-09

I used to do a weekly posting of links of interest found while surfing the web, or from email, or from other sources. I think I’ll start the practice once again, just in case anyone might be interested.

  • Lane Splitting is legal in California. It also makes a lot of sense in the heavy city traffic of that state.
  • Photographer’s Formulary is a source for chemicals for photographic processing. It’s a great find!
  • I’m looking at a Pentax 645 as a possible entry into medium format photography.
  • Deana Hoover is a local artist and writer.
  • Certo6 has some fascinating cameras! These are cameras I was totally unaware of.
  • It’s old, but the crash-proof motorcycle video clip (link in the linked page) is well worth the time to watch and then read the follow up.
  • OMG! I think the MacBartender utility is something I cannot live without! I installed it this week on a trial basis, but expect to pop for a $15 utility when my trial period runs out. It cleans up the menu bar nicely.


LoveThe Girl came home from the vet hospital yesterday afternoon. Young Son and I drove down to Minden to retrieve her, after her vet called and indicated she could be released.

I finished what I was doing, showered, and we drove down there. They were only moderately busy, but it still took a bit before we saw the vet. He gave us discharge instructions and a prescription for her antibiotic. We drove to the isolation building (separate from the main facility) and waited for the Girl.

One of the techs brought her out. She noticed the 4Runner right away. When Young Son and I got out of the car, she started wagging. The closer we got, the more she wagged. When we were at contact range, she wiggled. She was one happy Girl to see her peeps. I was one happy old man to see my Girl.

She looked thinner to me. I think she lost a couple of pounds over the last few days. She’s a svelte Girl, so it shows when she changes her weight. This was a tough bug and treated her badly.

We drove home and went into the house. She had to check out everything. Then she told me it was time to be on the couch for awhile. I fixed her mat on the couch. She hopped up there and curled up, then looked at me. Yep — puppy-dog eyes were used.

They worked. So, I parked it on the couch with the Girl.

I spent a couple of hours there with her, just enjoying her company and her heat. We both napped for awhile.

But I had to get out. I needed to fill her prescription and gather a few supplies. So, I left her with Young Son and drove to the pharmacy for her medication. I was also able to get about everything I needed at the pharmacy. So I did and came home.

We walked a bit last night. She was happy to be out and about. But it was a lot for her and she was tired when we got home.

I spent a good part of the evening with her on the couch. I read and stroked her side. It is really good to have her home with me.

She’s subdued today. She’s tired from fighting the infection. She’s eating OK, though. We walked a few times today, nothing too long, just enough for some exercise and some sun. The vet called awhile ago. All seems well.

I’m glad to have my Girl back with me. We belong together.

Comma Coffee

Comma Coffee SignComma Coffee is a favorite hang-out (for me) in Carson City. My Girl is generally welcome on the premises (as are most dogs), the coffee is good, the waitstaff are incredibly cute and friendly, and the vibe of the place is independent, free, and Bohemian. In my opinion, it’s a must-visit place in Carson City.

They have a variety of reviews of Yelp!, which I think I understand but do not reasonably reflect the place. As with all things social media, the postings are best taken with a grain of salt. More adventuresome folks, like myself, prefer to form their own opinions. In this case, I’m glad I did.

I often meet Jimmy here on Saturday afternoons for coffee, fellowship, and solution of the world’s problems. I think we do best at the former two items than the last. But, such things are a hazard of duty and I take full responsibility for the lack of solution of the world’s problems… or not.

Yesterday was no different, except the Girl was still in hospital being treated for her leptospirosis. I’m a little ahead of my story, so here’s the backstory.

The last few days were very tense. Her kidney function declined both Thursday and Friday. I was mortally afraid I would lose my Girl. I directly asked the vet in charge of her case how she the Girl was doing. The vet was evasive, either not knowing how to answer my question or not wanting to divulge her opinion. Regardless, Friday was a difficult day and Friday night was awful.

Many people might say [ahem] “She’s just a dog.” I might also hit them in the face in response. At least, I’d like to do that. She isn’t just a dog, but is an intelligent, warm, devoted creature God placed in my life at just the right time. The Girl often knows me better than I know myself. Although the state considers her my property (and I will defend my property), I think of her as an intelligent being who lacks verbal communication skills (she communicates in other ways) who lives with me.

The vet in charge of the Girl’s case went off-duty Friday and turned her care over to another vet. He left me a voicemail Friday and then I spoke to him yesterday morning. I was relieved to hear her kidney function was improved and that she might be released to my care today. I have the phone here beside me, waiting for this morning’s call.

I didn’t realize how much stress I was feeling. When I heard the news she’d turned the corner and was improving, I wept. I also felt a wave of exhaustion pour over me, leaving me spent and empty. I did not expect that.

So, I took care of the chores that needed doing. Then Young Son and I went out to do some shopping. He needs a few new clothes and I wanted to buy a few Christmas decorations before the big rush begins. I am planning to put up a few lights on the house this year and to have a few decorations in the house to celebrate the memory of Wife.

We returned home from our trip and a bite of lunch and I returned to a few chores. My friend Jimmy called about mid-afternoon and so I headed for Comma Coffee. Now my story is caught up.

Jimmy drove down from Reno and had a few things with him. He brought my an old Olympus Stylus pocket camera. I’m going to play with it some. I think having a film-based pocket camera (full frame) at hand is a good thing. He also brought me an old Pentax Auto 110 SLR. This is an unusual camera built by Pentax about 30-years ago (or a bit more). It was pretty expensive at the time, as I recall, and most camera snobs turned up their noses at the little cameras. But the lenses were pretty good (still are), the camera was capable, and it was pocketable but retained an SLR viewfinder.

I’m going to have fun with this little camera. Lomography still sells 110 cartridge films in both color print, slide, and black and white. I need the lenses for the camera, but am going to shoot some film and then figure out how to scan it. My understanding is that the 110 films are quite capable if properly exposed. So, we’ll see. I might have a user or I might have a shelf-queen.

It was good to spend time with Jimmy yesterday afternoon. We talked about a lot of things and I was pleased to show him a recent acquisition, a Konica Hexanon 400/5.6 telephoto lens. These lenses are rather difficult to find and don’t appear often. When they do, they are expensive. I think it has just a hint of haze on one of the internal elements. But that was with a very bright tactical light as the source and so I think it’s a minor enough issue that I’m going to shoot it and then determine whether there is a loss of contrast that requires a CLA.

We talked about medium and large format photography, because that’s where I think I’m headed. I’ll continue to use 35mm and digital for carry cameras and fun shots (and some serious work as well), but I think I’ve always wanted to shoot the larger formats and could never afford the entry price.

Used film equipment is a lot less expensive now. There are a lot of film photographers still out there creating art with film. But most of the professionals are using digital gear for the convenience and workflow. They are tasked with production of images RIGHT NOW and can’t afford the risk of not getting the shot with film. Others are interested in the analog look (I am) that cannot yet be produced with digital technology. Sensors are a long way from being able to do what film does, even as advanced as they are.

So, I’m looking at Bronica, Pentax, and Hasselblad medium-format cameras (and lenses). I think I want a field camera and not a view camera because my interest in large-format photography is more of the outdoors, landscape, and “found interesting things” category. I don’t think I need the full movements of the view camera to accomplish what I want to do.

But the interesting things about large-format cameras is that the lens and shutter are generally a unit and can be mounted on any number of camera bodies. That puts the emphasis of body selection on what is needed for the task at hand. The lenses can be interchanged almost freely.

So, now I’m just waiting for the call from the vet. I’m praying I get to bring my Girl home today. I have her things ready (her blankets are in the dryer now) and I’m so ready to have her wriggly self back with me. She puts a lot of pressure on me. I miss it.

The vet just called. It’s time to go get the Girl. [happy dance]