Daily Image — 09 September 2023

I came across this bag of office supplies left in the grass at the old flume. I wonder why they were just dropped. I will never know.

While The Girl and I were walking here in town a few days ago, she hunted ground squirrels while I looked at the roses growing along the old flume. I saw this bag of office supplies that were dumped in the grass. It made me wonder why there were left behind… Was someone interrupted? Were they stolen from the nearby Office Depot? Why were they just dropped?

I will never know.

Daily Image — 02 September 2023

Lately I have been shooting normal(ish) lenses during my daily walkies with The Girl. Yesterday I carried an old Hanimex 135mm f/2.8 along and shat a few frames with it. This one I like, captured with the Sony A7Sii with in-camera black and white conversion at f/8. I did post-process a bit in Iridient Developer, made some contrast adjustments and added a bit of sharpening.

Over the last month or so, with the exception of two outings, my images were captured with normalish lenses. The two exceptions were some captures with the Nikkor 85mm f/2 and the Zuiko 85mm f/2. On a full-frame camera, like the Sony A7Sii (which I carry a lot), 85mm is a short telephoto focal length. It is most commonly used for portraits.

I start to see the telephoto effect (compression of distance, shallow depth of field) at a focal length of about 105mm. Yesterday I carried a Hanimex 135mm f/2.8 in the bag. The Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f/2.8 Tessar was on the camera (Sony A7Sii) during most of our walk. Near the end of walkies, I decided to mount the Hanimex and see what that gave me.

The Hanimex was reviewed and recommended by Nigel (Zenography channel). It is not an expensive lens. They are quite common (East German Cold War era). But, they are also quite sharp, good quality, and have good contrast. I picked one up off fleaBay a few weeks ago for not much money.

Nigel is right — the lens is quite sharp, even wide open. It has good image quality. And I quite like the telephoto look of this shot of River Road from the Silver Saddle Ranch gate staging area.

The Girl and I had a good walk. The weather is cool, very much fall-like. We have had some rain and I am hopeful that keeps the wildfires away. My thought for today is that maybe we will drive up to our current favorite portable operation site this morning. We can walk some and I might set up a station and see if the bands are better (yesterday they were poor). I think I will take makings for coffee or tea.

Whatever we do, it will be good. I am grateful The Girl is strong and healthy. I do not mind that she is a bossy-bitch. Life is good.

Daily Image — 26 August 2023

On walkies I spotted this cart sitting in the shade. I had the Nikkor 82mm f/2 mounted on my Fuji X-E4 and made the capture. I think the shot was captured at f/2, but I did not record it. Straight from camera with the Tri-X 400 film simulation.

The caption pretty much says everything that needs to be said. One thing I will mention is that the bokeh of this lens with the subject/background distance is a little crazy in the upper right. That is not pretty.

I have a Zuiko 85mm f/2 sample in my collection. I think it should be taken for a walk and tested. My other Olympus lenses render out of focus areas well. This Nikkor does not.

Daily Image — 20 August 2023

Captured with the Fuji X-E4 and the Fujinon 35mm f/1.4 at f/1.4.

After I spent much of the morning puttering at my desk, I decided it was time to get out. We are experiencing the remains of a hurricane from the south. Our weather is cloudy, very cool, and a bit rainy.

The Girl asked to go with me. So, she did.

I had a lens to put into return mail. It was not what I expected. So we walked north to the post office and I dropped the parcel in the bin while chatting with Older Son. Then we walked the reverse of our normal circuit to Station 51. There was no one at the park, so Sera got some time off leash. She had a blast chasing the ground squirrels.

On our way home, I stopped at the planters outside the NDEP building and made a few images of the flowers there. I missed the focus on most of the shots with the thin depth of field of the 35mm f/1.4 wide open. I still got a few decent captures.

Once home, I made some lunch and shared some of my chicken with The Girl. She is doing much better today.

I am grateful. Life is good.

Daily Image — Seen Better Days

This poor cottonwood is hanging on, but it sure has seen better days. Capture with Fuji X100S, 23mm/2 at f/8.

On walkies out at Silver Saddle Ranch this morning, The Girl and I paused for me to make an image. I have been looking at this old cottonwood tree for a while now. This morning I thought that a black and white image with some red filtration might make an interesting capture.

So, while The Girl sniffed around looking for a lizard, I made a few captures with the Fuji X100S. After getting home and reviewing the lot from today’s outing, I like this one the best.

Post processing was simple. I sued Iridient Developer to make a small adjustment to the contrast of the image and then exported it. That was all I did. The black and white conversion was done in-camera.

I bought the Fujifilm X100S a couple of years ago as an experiment. I wanted to know if I would like carrying this kind of camera in lieu of a more substantial kit. In many respects, this is a continuation of the street photographer’s kit started long ago by some excellent 35mm film photographers. The preferred camera of the time was a Leica rangefinder with a 35mm lens and black and white film.

The Fuji X100 series of cameras continues this tradition in a digital format. For the right subject (and mindset), this is an excellent approach and quite simple.

Daily Image — NDOT

The sign at the main entrance. I have walked past this sign many, many times.

Over the last eight years, there is not telling how many times I walked past this sign for the Nevada Department of Transportation. I know Ki and I walked past it many times on our daily sojourns. Now Sera and I are walking past it as I give her foot a rest from the rough sand and sharp brush of the sagelands.

A couple of weeks ago I started carrying a camera (other than my iPhone) on a daily basis. This was written about before. So long as the carrying of said camera nourishes me, I will continue to do it.

I am sure that not every outing will be fruitful. My Instagram feed is full of these images from daily outings. Much of it is not very good work, but it represents a substantial body of work. There are years’ worth of images on my IG feed. It is a pity that FB ruined IG so.

I started posting on VERO again a few days ago. VERO is much like IG was before FB bought it. Then (and there) I followed a double-handful of other photographers and creative types. Every morning there was some joy at seeing what other interesting people were creating.

Now I find it a doomscroll — looking for the dopamine hit from finding something interesting or amusing or odd. I do not really want to leave IG, because there are people there I follow that are doing interesting things. But the signal-to-noise ratio is poor and I am wasting part of my day every day looking at things I do not really care to see in order to find the very few I want to see.

I do not know if it is possible to offload my images in a stream. If I could, I would be very tempted to reclaim my work from IG and close my account.

But, I ruminate. Today’s image is a reflection on the many times my companions and I walked past the NDOT entry sign. The lot is nearly empty on weekends, when the workers are off doing their own thing. It gives Sera and I a chance to take in the space and for me to be aware of anything interesting to capture with my camera.

This morning’s walk was a good walk, if a little late and a little warm. The Girl enjoyed the hunt for ground squirrels and the wet grass. I enjoyed the chance to ruminate on all those times Ki and I walked a good part of this route.

Tomorrow we head out to Summit Lake, Nevada for field work. I will be in the field most of the week collected topographic data (surveying). There will be some different things to photograph and I will have Internet service in the evenings at the research station. I hope to post a few images while out there.

It was a good day. Life is good.

Daily Image — C Hill

This is one of my favorite places in Carson City. There are so many memories of playing with Ki here.

The Station 51 park is one of my favorite places in Carson City. The structure looks like it was a gathering place when the site was the state school. Maybe it was a mess hall. I am not sure. But I always enjoy the sight of it in the morning with C Hill in the background.

It is a tradition that every year the graduating high school class “converts” the C into the last two digits of the year. At some point it will be changed back to “C”.

When Ki and I returned to Carson City late in 2015, I rented long term at the Plaza Hotel. Our walks took us the couple of blocks east to the Station 51 park, where we interacted with human and canine friends almost every day. When Older Son and DiL came to visit, we would take Ki over there for her daily outing. I have some cherished photographs of those family times.

Later, in 2016 I rented my place here in Carson. Ki and I continued walking the few blocks to the Station 51 park, as well as walking out at Riverview Park and Silver Saddle Ranch. We walked many circuits around the perimeter of the park.

After Ki died and Sera came to live with me, I continued the tradition for a while. But Sera is a different dog and is mildly reactive. Her reaction always depends on the confidence of the other dog. After a number of encounters that I did not like, we began walking the Silver Saddle trails more because there is less traffic.

She loves to walk along the river where she can get out in the water. But as time went on there was more traffic there and more of the other walkers we did not know and their dogs were not always the best behaved. So I started walking the upper trails more, where Sera an be off lead and the probability of running into another dog is reduced.

Sera injured one of her feet a week ago, probably by jumping on the brush chasing lizards. She has a small cut between her pads and the loose sand irritates it. Several times she would race past me and then drop on the trail to lick her paw.

I decided to walk her in town for a few days. There is less sand and more grass. That is good because it reduces the pressure on her paw and she loves grass. We walk early before the traffic rises. The grass is often wet from irrigation. She will roll around crazy or dive onto the wet grass as we walk. She loves it and that makes me happy.

So we are revisiting our walks to the Station 51 park and I am seeing things that remind me of the times there with Ki. Those were good times. Now I have memories of spending time there with Sera. Those are good memories too.

I am grateful. Life is good.

N.B. The photograph was made with the Fuji X-T5 and the Fujinon 60mm f/2.4 macro lens at f/8. It is a very good lens and the right focal length for the shot.

Silver Saddle Ranch Thistle

A grab shot from a morning walk at Silver Saddle Ranch.

Yesterday morning, after waking early and morning coffee, The Girl and I got out for a nice walk at Silver Saddle Ranch. We walked our usual loop, starting at the upper staging area on the access road, north to the Mexican Ditch trail, then south through the ranch compound and back to the Mexican Ditch, then up the hill to the trail and back to the rig.

The loop is about a mile and three-quarters and takes something between 45 minutes and an hour to walk. It all depends on how long with linger along the way.

I knew I wanted to make an image for the day. The thistles are in bloom and provide a ready subject. I have used them before.

They still look good, though. So I paused while Sera hunted lizards and framed a couple of shots. The camera was the Fuji X-T1 and the Fujinon 35mm f/2. Sera chased of a bee that would have added interest. Oh well, next time.

Just as I looked up from the camera, I saw another walker and two dogs leaving the compound.

“Here!”” I called to Sera. She came in, I grabbed her collar, and attached her lead. Her energy level was still pretty high and I did not want her to run over to engage the other dogs.

The other handler leashed up her dogs as well. I appreciate that.

Dogs are dogs. That is OK. But a lot of handlers do not understand their animals.

It was a good walk and a good day. Life is good!

Washoe Lake SP, K-2640, AAR 11 Sept 2022

It begins…

I intended to drive up to Washoe Lake SP Saturday evening to get out of the house. The Girl is always ready for an outing. I thought I might buy a cheeseburger from DQ and a Blizzard, share both with her, and then play a little radio.

But, the Mosquito Fire had different plans for me. The cheeseburger and Blizzard were good and both made the Girl happy. But when we drove over the summit into Washoe Valley, I knew the outing was done. I exited I-580 at Bellevue Road and could not see the lake for the smoke. So, I turned around and drove home.

When I rose Sunday morning, the air was much clearer. So after getting a bite and a coffee, The Girl and I headed north to Washoe Lake. The temperature was much cooler than it had been for weeks. The walk was nice. But on the way back I realized I left two liters of water on the counter at home.

So we drove over the the east side of the lake, where there is a fuel depot and convenience store. I bought a couple bottles of water and a bag of beef jerky. Then we were back off to the operating area.

I decided to erect a SOTAbeams Bandsprnger that was in my inventory. I have a number of end-fed random wire antennas in my kit that I built. So this unit languished. But I wrote a few weeks about about the abortive attempt of a good friend to deploy his Bandspringer. So I thought I would set my instance up and test it.

Aside: The Bandspringer is an end-fed random wire (EFRW) antenna. That is, it is not a resonant antenna. Therefore, it presents an impedance of around 250-350 ohms at the feedpoint, an impedance that the antenna matching unit in many transceivers can accommodate (up to a SWR of about 3:1).

In contrast, and end-fed half wave (EFHW) antenna is a resonant antenna that will present a low SWR at its fundamental and multiples of the fundamental frequency. It will present a very high impedance at the feedpoint, something on the order of 2,500 ohms or more. Therefore, some kind of matching transformer is required at the feedpoint to bring the impedance down to a value the internal (or external) antenna matching unit of the transceiver can match.

The two antenna types are quite different, even if they appear to be similar.

I ran a simple station for this outing. It was the Elecraft KX2 to an end fed random wire in an inverted vee configuration. The battery is a 4.5Ah Bioenno LFP and the key is the Begali Dual Adventurer. I was running ten watts.
The directions for the antenna are not very good. But I use this type of antenna often and knew what to do. I ran the radiating wire out in the direction I wanted to deploy the antenna. I ran the counterpoise wire out parallel to it but a few feet away. I then setup a six meter carbon fiber mast that is super quick to deploy, ran the tip through the fixture used to attach the wire to the mast, and spaced things out so the mast was the right distance from the radio table.

I staked the distal end of the radiating wire and walked back to the operating point. I staked the radiator at a point about three feet upstream from the feed point to provide some strain relief at the radio should the wind blow.

It was then a matter of connecting the antenna to the radio, affixing the key to the radio, and connecting a power supply.

Total setup time was about 15 minutes. I checked in to the 40m Noontime Net with ten watts phone and then played around hunting other activators. They were not hearing me.

I decided that meant I should just run a frequency. So I gave The Girl some water and got some for myself. I found a jar of honey-roasted peanuts in the rig and had a snack (The Girl begged some peanuts as well). I picked a frequency on the 20m band and spotted myself.

After a few calls I started working callers. I had a couple of small pile-ups that were fun to work. When the responses stopped coming, I switched to the 17m band and worked a few more. I decided to try the 15m band, but when I listened there the noise level was S5 (that is pretty high for a rural area).

I went back to the 20m band and worked a few more stations. Then I shut down the radio and just sat back for a moment.

We had a good walk before I set up the station. As I prepared to put the kit away, I stopped for a selfie with The Girl, who was happily napping.

About that time my buddy Dick called. “Man, I’ve been busting my ass to get this done while you were still activating so I could test it with you!. Then I saw you go QRT [cease operations] and said ‘Aw man!’.”

“I can turn the radio back on.” I did, but someone had occupied the frequency I was using on 20m. So I tuned a few kiloHertz to the left and found an open frequency. “Call me on 14.063MHz. I’m listening.”

I heard his call loud and clear, so I responded and we made the exchange. Then we chatted a moment (in Morse Code).

After tearing down the station, I took a few minutes to watch the smoke front approach from the west. This was the view to the north end of Washoe Lake.

I then looked up from the radio and noticed smoke. What I saw was the first image at the top of this entry.

“Wow! You should see the smoke rolling over the mountains. Something must have changed. It’s time for me to put things away. I have time, but the smoke is coming and I don’t want to have to be in it.”

We continued chatting while I put everything away. That took me about 15 minutes. The smoke continued to increase as time passed.

Slide Mountain is behind the smoke to the left.

Slide Mountain was invisible in the smoke as I put the last of my equipment in the back of the rig. I gave Sera a bit more water, then put her in the rig. I then stepped around the rig to look to the south.

This is the south end of Washoe Valley about where I-580 crosses into Carson City,

What I saw was smoke rolling over I-580 and through the gap between the Sierra and the Virginia Range, into Carson City. I put myself into the 4Runner, started the engine, glanced around one last time to be sure nothing was left behind, and started the A/C. We headed west along the trail to I-580. As we approached the east end of Bellevue Road, the next (and final) image is what I saw.

After tearing down the station, The Girl and I headed out. As we approached I-580, the smoke front was just crossing the highway.

The smoke front obliterated the view of the highway! I was certainly happy to be in the rig and headed home.

I said my goodbyes and drove on. When I crossed the summit into Carson City, the smoke front bisected the city from the northwest to the southeast, intersecting the mountains at the north end of the Prison Hill Complex.

I was glad to get home, but also glad to have gone out.

As always, I have a few lessons learnt.

  • Always check that I have water in the rig. I got distracted and failed to check. It was not a catastrophic failure, but an error nonetheless.
  • The Bandspringer is just another end-fed random wire antenna. It is just like others I built as I experimented. It is well-built, but the instructions could use some work. I do not need it in my inventory.
  • I was not able to get an impedance match for the 30m band. I suspect that I had some capacitive coupling between the radiator and counterpoise, probably because both were near the top of my small camp table, which is made of aluminum.
  • End-fed random wire antennas can be affixed directly to the radio output *if* the radio has a good antenna matching unit built in. If not, then an external antenna matching unit is needed with a sufficient range to match a wide range of impedance presented by the antenna.
  • The Elecraft matching units are very good and will match a wide range of feed point impedances.
  • It was good that I noticed the smoke. It would have been unhealthy to be in that smoke very long without a mask.
  • I keep a N95 mask in my pack for just such a case. Unfortunately, along with the water, I left my pack at home. Hmmm…
  • Regardless of the smoke, it was a good day. After a number of weekends of too much heat, a day in the 80Fs was nice.

Locust Leaf Bokeh

Shot with the Panasonic Lumix G3 and a Fujian 50mm f/1.4 at about f/2. I’m not completely happy with the result, but it is a capture for the day.

While on evening walkies, The Girl puttered around looking for the dreaded bushy tail while I played with the light on the leaves of this old locust tree. It is nearing the end of a good day.

I determined it is time to get back on my strength training. I’m unhappy with my level of strength and my annual numbers were not the best. So it’s time to get after it again.

The Soloflex is setup in my bedroom where I can use it. I did my first routine this afternoon. It was hard and I will be sore. It is a good thing. It will help me be healthier (particularly because I’ll mind my diet as well). I will be stronger. I’m glad to be back after it again after being off for too long.

Life is good.