6.24.2012: ROLL CALL!
Here’s a bunch of random pics ( aka eye candies ) I’d like to share to ya. I was inspired by product shoots from some books and magazines, so I emulated the style using nothing but sunlight and good angles. I shot the images yesterday, driven by my ideas and the need to get some fresh air as an excuse to go outside despite being sick. For the lenses, I swapped between my reliable 18-55mm lens and the newly recommissioned Helios M42 52mm lens ( which is the oldest lens I have in my arsenal. It’s somewhere around 30 to 40 years old ). The Nikon D200 attached with the Helios M42 lens was shot with the Fujifilm HS 10.
The last two flower shots were shot with the D200 using the Helios M42 lens. These were the first two shots with the lens after finally receiving my M42 lens adapter. Since it was originally made for the Zenit TTL SLR, the old Soviet-made prime lens would not work with the Nikon DSLR without that adapter and the optics forced me to shoot much closer to the subject. It may not be an everyday prime lens as I hope it’d be, but the images shot with it have a certain beauty of their own.
Anyway, enjoy the random eye candy, y’all! =D
One of the things I love to do is come up with cost effective ( a fancy term for ‘cheaper’ ) versions of ridiculously expensive accessories. The Black Rapid R-strap is a major hit for photographers and enthusiasts because of it’s ingenious design and helps reduce neck aches. As much as I love the design and convenience, I’m not willing to blow $40-50 for one unit. A friend of mine (editedthoughts) told me about a cheaper version from amazon for $20. I was tempted to buy one but I wanted to reuse my existing straps. I went about scouring information online on making a DIY R-strap while spend a fraction or less of the $20 version. It’s a good thing I live a mile away from Lowe’s and it wasn’t too difficult to find what I needed. Overall, it costed me $6 to get the parts and about half an hour to make the DIY strap. Assembling the parts was easy, but figuring how to secure the straps around the plastic securing loops gave me the most headaches and took the most time to complete.
Another idea that popped up in my head was minimizing the chances of being a target for potential thieves. IMO, having a name brand on a camera bag is an invitation for theft. A “stealth bag” was the answer to that problem and it was a no-brainer to figure out. I purchased a Camaroo III DSLR insert padding ($23) from amazon and fitted it to a surplus ‘water-resistant’ military trooper’s bag. The padding fit perfectly and it took me a few tries to figure out how to make the camera ( a Fujifilm HS10 ) fit in it. It could carry the important stuff I need such as spare AA batteries, a lens hood, and the DIY R-strap while I have some room to carry small stuff, such as snacks. If I was gonna stuff my Nikon D200 on the makeshift camera bag, I’d leave the 18-55mm lens attached to the camera while the 70-200 lens would fit snuggly in one of the pockets. I could carry a spare battery and it’ll have room for small things, a smaller lens ( like my 40-year old Helios m42 lens ), and an external flash unit ( I’ll be looking into that one soon ). I realized the stealth bag could double as an everyday day bag for carrying my food to work. All I need to carry with is the Bento jar and my mess kit food utensils. Not bad, huh?
I’m pleased with my purchases and damned proud my ingenuity. There’s no shame in saving money and come up with clever ways to use existing materials on hand. It was a lot of fun and I gained a more appreciative view of my equipment. The sky’s the limit and there’s a lot you can do with some research online. Don’t take my word for it. A lot of photographers do it and have posted their DIY instructions online. If you want to save money and don’t mind doing some hands-on work, then I recommend on giving these projects a try! All you need is patience, time, and a careful eye on details because the quality of work reflects on how you build your R-strap as well as your choice of bag for the DSLR padded insert.
Here’s a link to one such site that’ll show you how to make a similar DIY strap:
6.20.2012: War Memorials ( Part VI: The DC War Memorial )
This memorial commemorates 26,000 of Washington DC’s brave men who served in all five branches of the US military during WWI. You’ll also find the names of 499 soldiers who died in service inscribed on the base of the monument. It was dedicated by President Herbert Hoover on November 11, 1931 ( also known in the history books as ’ Armistice Day ’ ) and is the very first war memorial to be erected in West Potomac Park ( which is part of the Constitution Gardens ). The DC War Memorial, to my knowledge, is the only national World War I memorial in the DC area although it’s under debate on whether to expand it and become it’s own war memorial like the previous three I’ve mentioned.
It’s a pretty simple design, obviously using the typical Greek design. You can find find this little landmark on the way to the Korean War Memorial, right on Independence Ave. I would suggest you bring a water bottle and wear really comfortable shoes cause’ you’ll be walking around the Constitution Gardens. If you’re visiting this area on a very nice and sunny day, you’ll see why a lot of people go in this area to have a picnic.
6.20.2012: War Memorials ( Part III: The World War II Memorial )
The World War II Memorial is the most recent addition, located at the edge of the Constitution Gardens and is easily visible from the Washington Monument. I remember back in high school, senior year, I believe, when I first heard about it. This was in 2001, mind you. A classmate of mine, Ellen Haapala, told me about it and got my interest in seeing this new memorial. Over the years, I’ve seen it being made before my eyes. Once it was completed, I remember being awed by the grandeur and the vastness of the design.
The style is definitely art deco and it also had two pools inside: the Central Fountain and pool surrounding the Freedom Wall. You can dip your feet at the Central Fountain on a hot day, and depending where you sit, you’ll have a good view of the Washington Monument or the Lincoln Memorial while being surrounded by the World War II’s all-encompassing stonework. Check it out sometime.
( PS: A little bonus easter egg hunt activity for you: find the ” Killroy was here ” engraving at the World War II Memorial. In case you have no idea what it is, look it up on Wikipedia. ‘Killroy’ is one of the military’s oldest humorous running gags and often treated as a good luck charm whenever a serviceman finds it. Adolf Hitler, on the other hand, thought ‘Kilroy’ was a spy. )
6.20.12: War Memorials ( Part II: The Korean War Memorial )
Parallel to the Vietnam War Memorial is the Korean War Memorial. While the Korean War Memorial is not as personal and simple as the former, there’s a depth of emotion and mood that makes it a landmark.
If you were there, you’d see it has it’s own reflective wall and pool but what makes it so identifiable is the platoon of soldier statues in a delta formation, with faces that show grim determination with hints of worry and alertness that would have been in the faces of the soldiers that fought in that war. It was a very somber memorial and just as every bit as haunting as the Vietnam War Memorial.
If you’re planning to see these two war memorials, you’ll find them inside the Constitution Gardens adjacent to the National Mall and they’re near the Abraham Lincoln Memorial and the Pool of Reflection.
6.20.2012: War Memorials ( Part I: The Vietnam War Memorial )
The images you see here were shot on June 17, 2012. Originally, I did this little venture for a friend of mine in Cali who wanted to see the Vietnam War Memorial. She’s heard of this memorial, but since she’s all the way in the West Coast, she isn’t able to see this. I took it upon myself to photograph the images for her and see how she’d like it. The little ‘assignment’ ended up being a full blown photospree on DC’s other famous war memorials. After much tweaking and playing around with the images at home, they were posted on FB and got a handful of ‘likes’. While I shot these images with my Nikon D200 and used my old 18-55mm lens, I sent my friend some images that were shot from my phone, edited and tweaked on the spot. She loved them, so the original objective was met successfully.
What I’ve been doing since then? Well, I’ve been taking a break to relax and lay low. I also needed to spare time in working out since it’s summer. Right now I am on vacation and I’m back to work next week. Fortunately for me, I got another vacation to look forward to the week after! Not to rub it on ya, dear reader, but I definitely needed a vacation! Right now I needed to figure out what places I’ve not explored so you, the audience, can look at them. Good thing I have this vacation and the next one to ponder!
Anyway, here’s Part I of the War Memorial series!
( If there’s anyone people should thank for creating this incredible piece of art and a landmark, it’s Maya Ying Lin. She’s the architect behind the iconic Wall Memorial. Personally, I think people should thank her for it and appreciate her work. )
2.14.2012: Fucking around with the ‘new’ 70-210mm lens (part II)
After a few adjustments with the exposure and white balance (plus a little post edit tweaking), the details from the images came out sharp. Tack sharp. I honestly think the 70-210mm lens is sharper than my modern Nikkor 18-55mm 1:35-5.6 GII ED lens. It can handle low light shoots, which is a bonus. Overall, I am impressed. If you’re interested in looking for a lens like this baby, I recommend you can read about it here:
2.14.2012: Fucking around with the ‘new’ 70-210mm lens (part I)
As stated above, I’m testing the new lens for my Nikon D200. Well, it’s not exactly new. What I have on hand is a late 80’s-to-late 90’s era 70-210mm 1:4-5:6 Nikkor lens. How much did it cost me? $109 from ebay, if you can believe it. Free shipping, too. With a deal like this, how can I refuse?
After playing around in finding the right exposure and white balance settings, the images came out great. The optics on this lens is amazing and the construction as well as the design are solid. I ain’t gonna lie: it’s also a bit heavy and big. Hell, compared to my old Nikkor 18-55mm lens, which is made of high grade plastic, the 70-210mm is massive and is built like a tank thanks to it’s body made of metal. If I had to make a guess, I’d say it’s made with steel.
Let’s talk a bit about the design of this beauty. This baby was originally made for Nikon film SLRs and was touted a budget zoom lens ($250, give or take). It lacks a VR (vibration resistance) and the barrel of the lens is an unusual push-pull design that’s akin to a telescope. Thankfully, the lens has an AF (autofocus), so operating it is a breeze. Come to think it, it’s actually a lot easier than the conventional finger roll-and-turn lens design. The AF is surprisingly responsive although being an old design, it’s not meant to be used on fast moving subjects. In other words, this isn’t the kind of lens you’d want to use in a sporting event. But for casual shoots, portraiture, and landscapes? Oh, this is PERFECT. I’d also like to point out since my DSLR has a DX sensor instead of a ‘full frame’ sensor that’s an digital equivalent of a 35mm film , the field of range is 115-310mm. You can imagine how far the zoom would be had I gotten an old 80-400mm lens.
So if you’re a DSLR owner and are looking for lenses while keeping a tight budget, never underestimate the power of a good old lens. There’s a treasure trove of them out there and these neglected lenses are cheaper than their modern day counterparts. There’ll be a few trade offs due to being older designs, but you’d be surprised at the bargains you’d find. Believe me, I was very surprised. Honestly, I think it’s worth looking for bargains once you look around with patience and do proper research. My dad once advised me ask myself what shots I planned to take before I buy any lens in the market and whether that lens is easy to travel around with or not.
So here’s my advice to you, friend: ask yourself what shots do you plan to take and make sure it’s no problem to travel around with. Do you really want to take a lot of lenses with you or do you need just one that you’re comfortable with? Oh, and don’t rush yourself into getting a lens. Take your time, look around, and always research before you make that giant leap of faith. You won’t get the dreaded buyer’s remorse once you found what you’re looking for. =]
Day 42-43 (Feb.11-12, 2012) Part Two: The first few shots were shot in the morning, so I’m just picking up where Part One left off. The morning shots were from the morning of Feb. 10 but hell, I was so lazy that I edited em’ yesterday and loaded em’ today.
Just last night (Feb 11) I ordered some pizza. Papa John’s had this interesting promo: $15 for a heart-shaped one-topping pizza with a cinnamon-granola pie. I find it quite odd that the heart-shaped pizza is uncut. However, like any proud member of the male species, I simply tore that pizza apart with my bare hands and ravaged that pizza. I ate my heart out and saved half of it in the freezer. Hey, screw you, Valentine’s Day! I got my pizza and it was all mine! If you’re single like me, seriously, order this shit, and have nice cold beer. Nom nom..
Earlier today, I just got a new phone. Say hello to my Samsung Indulge. Thanks to some promo, I got this baby for $100, so in addition to that, I decided to give it a casing to protect it. Unfortunately, the had no black, so I settled with dark blue. Looking back, I’m glad I bought it. I installed Little Photo, Retro Camera, Facebook (obviously!), and wunderground (a great weather forecast app, BTW!). Will add more later, though! Y’know, having 2gb of on-board 2GBs worth space and a 16 gigs of extra memory from the microSD card are more than enough for me! Who knows? I just might get a 32gb microSD card one day.
Day 42-43 (Feb.11-12, 2012) Part One: More pics and more pics! Good thing I shot em’ while the weather was good. Here’s a good reason why taking pics in the morning is a good idea: there’s little to no people around. Landscape, urban and random shots are always a treat when there’s no people around. It’s also a bonus when the sun’s nice and bright.