Daily Image: The Trail 16 July 2024

The trail The Girl and I walk almost daily this time of year. Shot with Sony A7Sii and a Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar. Light post processing with DXO PhotoLab 7.

At this time of year, The Girl and I walk mostly in the national forest. We get above 7,000 ft, where it is a little cooler. We gain the shade of the Ponderosa Pines. There is generally little other traffic on this trail, although we sometimes meet another hiker.

The climb does me good. The chipmunks provide much entertainment for The Girl. It is a bit more than a mile out to our common turn-around point. There we pause for a couple of minutes. I give her anywhere from a half to a full liter of water. I drink a little for myself. We take a breath.

Then I put the pack back on (and usually a small camera bag) and we head back to the rig.

I keep a sharp eye out for other traffic as I do not want a negative encounter for The Girl. I have also seen a bear (very briefly) once. There was a coyote that I saw several times last summer who did not appear to be afraid. (Not a good thing for him!) Fortunately, I was able to wrangle The Girl and never threw more than a few 3/8″ steel shot (with a sling shot) to scare him off.

I really love this trail. If we get out early enough, it is still cool and she does not overheat. If I wait too late, then the sun warms her and with the exercise she is too hot.

On this particular morning, we were out a little early and the light was still good. I made the capture a dozen meters from out turn around point because i like the interaction of the light on the trees and the curl of the trail in the midground.

We had a great hike. I am grateful for the beauty of the place where I live. Life is good.

Daily Image: Lichen 14 July 2024

Shot with the Sony A7Sii and (I think) a Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm f/2.4, probably about f/5.6. The RAW file was post processed with DXO Photolab7 using an Ektachrome 64 film simulation.

I just finished David duChemin’s All Questions Answered webinar a few minutes ago. I had a huge collection of questions sent in by his followers and students and winnowed down the list to maybe a dozen questions.

I found his answers to the questions of interest, but it was his excursions on tangents generated by the questions that I enjoyed even more. It was an hour and a half of listening to him brain dump his thoughts and feelings about the craft and he is articulate. So, it was an easy listen.

I cannot recall if I have any of his books. If not, I will need to rectify that. I am signed up for one of his courses and need to get after that as well. I will learn something, I am sure.

One of the questions was something like “What do you photograph for?” He had an articulate answer for the question (it makes him feel alive) and then enumerated a list of other reasons photographers have for spending the time, effort, and money making photographs. It was a good list.

He also spent time talking about finding the subject/genre that lights a fire in you. Ask the question “What am I passionate about?” Then go chase that.

The rhetorical question “What if I can only travel with my family?” was asked, and he shared Alain Laboile’s craft, which is he only photographs his family1. As with all art, one just has to find a way to make it work within the structure of one’s life.

I have written any number of times — I make photographs because it is one of the things that feeds my soul. There is a focus and joy that comes from noticing something as I move through my daily life and then taking a few minutes to explore it with a camera.

The header image is an example. Sera and I were hiking the trail in the national forest. She was hunting chipmunks. I was looking for the interplay of light, shadow, and texture in the world around me. This particular bit of lichen on a branch caught my eye. There is plenty of light and shadow. There is a muted set of colors, punctuated by the bright light green of the lichen. There is a randomness in the fall of the pine needles. Then there is the branch at a diagonal through the frame.

These things caught my eye2. It is one of several images made of similar subjects that day. Sera happily hunted while I paused to make the images. Then we were off on the trail again, both of us on the lookout for our prey.

Life is short. If there is something that would make you happy, go do that. Make sure it gets done. Because, one day, it will be too late.

I remain grateful. Life is good.

1Note to self: Buy one of Laboile’s books and study the images.
2With a nod and an homage to Wife, who said this to me many times.

Daily Doggo: On the Hunt

I see this look a lot when we’re on walkies. She really loves to hunt the chipmunks that infest the national forest. Shot with the Sony A7Sii and the CZJ 135mm f/3.5 and exported straight out of camera.

The last few outings I carried the Sony A7Sii with a triplet of Carl Zeiss Jena (CZJ) lenses in m bag — the 35mm f/2.4 Flektogon, the 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar, and the 135mm f/3.5 Sonnar. These are all Zeiss designs copied by the East Germans after WWII.

The build quality of my samples is good, perhaps not up to West German Zeiss builds, but they all cost a fraction of the western glass. I find them very good optically and they produce lovely images with a quality much different than modern glass.

The Girl loves our walks in the national forest. If we do not get out early, I have to watch her carefully because she can overheat even at 7,000ft. The insolation heats her up even if the air temperature is about 80ºF. I always carry water and we take a break mid-hike so she can rest a couple of minutes and drink.

I see this look a lot. This particular fallen tree often harbors chipmunks and I think they tease her.

She is a happy dog. That makes me a happy man. I am grateful and life is good!

Daily Image: South End

I cannot count the number of times I have seen the south end of a northbound dog. Shot with the Sony A7Sii and the CZJ 135mm f/3.5 Sonnar at about f/4.

While hiking in the Sierra yesterday, The Girl was on the lookout for chipmunks. I do not know if Alvin called, but she gave a merry chase.

And what did I get? Well, once again I got the south end of a northbound dog. So, I made the capture.

This frame is basically straight out of camera. The only post processing done was to resize the image and export to JPEG.

It was a good hike. I had a good laugh at The Girl. Life is good.

Daily Image: CZJ 135mm f/3.5 Test

Test shot with CZJ 135mm f/3.5 Sonnar and the Sony A7Sii. SOOC shot wide open.

A new-to-me Carl Zeiss Jena (CZJ) 135mm f/3.5 Sonnar medium telephoto lens arrived a couple of days ago. It was listed as excellent condition and CLA’d1. It sat on the table for a couple of days, but I decided to mount it on the Sony A7Sii and shoot it this morning. I might take it along on walkies as well.

The focus is a bit stiff and grabby, although not grinding as if the helicoid grease was hardened. It might just be the sample. It might be the age. Or it might need a little better cleaning.

The lens looks good, no obvious flaws. There is the usual minor internal dust and a few cleaning marks on the front element. Neither of these are of concern, although if I open it up to clean and relubricate the helicoid I will clean up the dust (of course).

I have a fondness for the Sonnar design. Lenses based on this old Zeiss optical formula generally produce very nice images, with out of focus areas smooth and a slight softening of the image toward the edge.

This is one of the things I prefer from legacy glass — the images do not have that clinical sharpness common to modern glass (and the computer designs), but have a certain character. There is nothing wrong with the former for the proper application. But for my images, which I shoot for art and fun, I like the character and quirky quality that some legacy lenses provide.

I think this is a keeper.

1CLA = Clean, Lubricate, Adjust.

Daily Image: Mountain Flower

Shot with Sony A7Sii and a Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm f/2.4 Flektogon at f/4. Raw conversion in DX0 Photolab directly to JPG without modification.

I took The Girl up to our favorite place in the National Forest to walk this morning. It is too hot for her after 0900h, more from the direct sun on her body than the ambient temperature. So, rather than stress her out at Silver Saddle Ranch, we seek elevation and cooler temperatures as well as the shade from the pine trees.

I decided that I have to bring a camera with me. The iPhone makes acceptable images for a number of uses. But I prefer a purpose-built tool that has more control over the image and has better lenses. So I brought the Sony A7Sii with a Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm f/2.4 Flektogon mounted to it. I brought only the one lens so as to avoid the what lens do I choose for this image loop I sometimes fall into.

So, I had a 35mm focal length lens. I had a lens that has character, something a lot of modern glass lacks. So I made images as we walked. Out of the lot, I picked this one as the one I liked the best. It is not perfect and I can do better. I will shoot another tomorrow and see if I can get a better composition.

Edit: I am told the flower is penstemon.

Daily Image: Serious Sera 01 July 2024

She’s looking for the neighbor dogs. Shot with the Sony A7Sii and a lovely little CZJ 35mm f/2.4 Flektogon wide open.

Late Sunday afternoon I decided that I needed a Blizzard in my life. The Girl agreed that was a good idea. So we loaded up and headed to DQ.

They were stupid busy at 1830h on a summer Sunday evening. They were having trouble getting orders done correctly and the timing was awful.

Maybe it was my mistake for going inside the store and not the drive-through. Lesson learned.

My Blizzard came out quick but the burger took forever. So, I ate dessert first (and saved some for The Girl).

I made the capture after we returned home. I have a new-to-me Carl Zeiss Jena (DDR) 35mm f/2.4 Flektogon that needs some love. I had it mounted to the Sony A7Sii and the image is straight out of camera with only resizing to fit my weblog.

Daily Image: 29 November 2023 — Points

This capture came about as an experiment. The Girl and I were walking Silver Saddle Ranch and I carried the Sony A7Sii with a Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar mounted on it. The shot was recorded in raw format at f/1.8. Post processing was in Silver Efex 6 with changes to exposure and contrast and a bit of Tri-X film grain added. I then downscaled the image with Iridient Developer.

I seem to be learning something constantly. Some might call me a scanner because I have a difficult time focusing on just one thing. I have been this way as long as I can remember.

In thinking about processing my images, I decided to update my copy of the Nik Software Collection so that it will run on my new MBP. In particular, I am interested in the black and white capabilities of the Nik software as that is where I really like to work.

One might ask why I am interested in post processing to produce more filmic (film-like) images from my digital cameras. It would be a fair question. I am an amateur photographer. I do not need the almost clinical images produced by modern cameras with exceptional lenses because I do not have a client who is expecting those kinds of images. Photography is one of my ways of reaching into the arts. Although there is something about striving for the ultimate in sharpness and extreme detail, that does not appeal to me most of the time. I want to look at and make images that speak to the heart and less to the analytical mind.

This will likely lead me to shoot some film. I have the Pentax 645NII out of the hutch and am building a kit for it. It is a big, heavy camera that shoots 120 film. But, this is a topic for another entry.

Yesterday seemed like a good day to take the Sony A7Sii out for a walk. I mounted the Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar on the M42 converter and checked that the camera was setup for a 50mm lens1. (The camera has in-body image stabilization.) That done, I collected The Girl and we went out to walk.

Given it was after noon, the temperature was much warmer than this morning (about 40ºF) and the sun was shining. The Girl was very excited to get outdoors. She wriggled and chirped as we drove out to Silver Saddle Ranch. As we walked, I made some images. The different camera and very different lens challenged me a little, which is a good thing.

The Girl teased me quite a lot. Sometimes ranging out and sometimes staying close. I felt the tension melt away as I walked and I laughed at The Girl quite a bit as well.

On the return leg of the hike, I realized that having finished up another chunk of work took a big load off my shoulders. The tension melted away and I started playing grab-ass with The Girl, who jumped and twirled away, laughing her doggy-laugh. She looked over her shoulder, grinning that big, goofy pitbull grin, then spun around to run back in for another round. She grabbed a stick and teased me with it.

Her energy was dissipated as we neared the rig. I patted her while we drove home, and then gave her a couple of her small cookies. She was snoozing under my work table as I finished up the day. As I wrote this, it was time to feed her (she is asking) and time for me to get a shower and think about some supper.

I downloaded my images and picked this one to play with. I call it Points and it was shot raw with the Sony A7Sii, and then post processed with Nik Silver Efex 6 to make the black and white conversion.

I am learning some new tools. Life is good. I am grateful.

1I noticed the battery was at about 50% state of charge. I should have tossed a second battery in the bag. I ran out as I stopped to make my last few images.

CZJ 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar

This is a test shot of Lucas with a new-to-me CZJ 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar. It was shot wide open with a Sony A7Sii and the Sony in-camera black and white conversion.

A lovely Carl Zeiss Jena 50mm f/1.8 Pancolar in M42 mount arrived a couple of days ago. I have not yet had a chance to shoot it, certainly not to test it. But I did mount it on my Sony A7Sii a few minutes ago and shot one of my test subjects, my Lucas plushie.

The capture was made wide open and the background blur is evident in the shot. The lens is nicely sharp wide open and I think the background blur (bokeh) is very nice for this camera to subject distance. It will be fun to play with this East German lens and I will have to make a point of carrying the A7Sii and this lens (and maybe another) on walkies.

This is fun. Life is good.