Lately I feel like I’m only taking photographs when I go on trips. Whether it’s our never ending attempt to see the Country or heading back to Hutch, this seems to be the time when I bust out the photo gear. I don’t really know why…maybe it’s the lack of responsibility when getting out of town; not constantly contemplating the 437 things I SHOULD be doing instead of peering through a lens, or just the change of setting. This spring I’ve been needing to remind/convince myself that not only do I enjoy snapping the shutter; but it’s amazingly good eye training for roto/compositing/mograph and all around practice for shooting video.
To that end I’ve started to invest is some fantastic ‘vintage’ gear. When shooting video, and to a lesser extent stills, on these new hybrid HDSLRs the need for good manual focus lenses becomes paramount. Modern stills lenses just don’t have the control surface that the older lenses do, the manufacturer assuming that you’d use autofocus instead. Well, in video mode we’re currently out of luck in the AF corner. However, older Olympus, Nikon, and a few other brands can easily be converted to work with modern Canon cameras by using a relatively cheap adapter. And hooray for that adapter.
So, I’ve been eBay stalking a few vintage lenses from the 70s, if for no other reason that they can be had for cheap. I’ve had my eye on an Olympus OM Zuiko 28mm f/2.8 forever, and I finally snagged one that is in mint condition. I’ve been needing a wider lens for a while and the Zuiko 28mm is the perfect fit.
I finally got out last week with the intent of testing it for timelapse photography out at the Baker Wetlands south of Lawrence on 31st. It this gorgeous little patch of land that has been embroiled in a battle over highway access for decades. After that evening I think I’m firmly in the camp of keeping it. Forever. Here is the painfully short timelapse I was able to capture of a spring sunset in KS. I was fighting with my equipment for too long before being able to get things going, so I didn’t get enough frames shot to capture more of the moment. Regardless, I’m very happy with how it turned out overall and can’t wait to continue using my TI-83 calculator as my intervalometer. I suppose this is the reason I took Calc in school?
While getting everything setup and properly exposed I snapped this sunset which I’ve fallen in love with. I’m still kicking myself for not starting the timelapse sooner. I could have gotten even more of this!
I’ve also needed to invest in a telephoto lens. Wanting to get into more wildlife photography, I’ve realized I’m never going to get close enough with my nifty 50mm, and my 80s era 28-70mm wasn’t long enough either. So, I looked into some of the 70s era Nikkor (Nikon) glass and came around to this gorgeous Nikkor-Q.C Auto 135mm f/2.8 (second one down). It is one serious lens, and I’ll admit it, just looks cool attached to my camera. The 135mm was what I used to take the shot below of my Dad. As I said these lenses are completely manual, including focus, so I was thrilled that my first time out with it I was able to grab a semi-decent sports/action shot. There is hope for being able to use it as a long portrait or action lens yet. It felt really good to be manually controlling all aspects of the shot; everything from aperture, shutter speed, iso to focus – it was my capture. No computers doing the work!
January 6th, 2011 | Filed under Family, Photos, Technology, Travel
So, I might have found myself sitting in my parent’s basement over the Christmas holiday watching the NASA channel. What!?! We got rid of cable back home, which I highly recommend doing, and I couldn’t resist channel surfing now that I had an abundance of “quality” entertainment. Teressa was off baking with her mother, my parents were still at work, my brother was with his lady, and none of my friends were in town yet. I was bored, and while sitting in the recliner being a complete lazy bum I suddenly had an itch to head out take some photos. Being that I was engrossed in the NASA channel the Cos seemed like an obvious choice.
Growing up three blocks away from one of the premiere space museums in the world, also smithsonian affiliated by the way, I feel a serious bond with the museum. Not only did it seem like we took a field trip every year in elementary school, and we always took family members when they came to town, but back when my Dad ran the food service for the local community college we were there every week catering one meal or another. That was one place were helping my Dad never got old. This wasn’t some silly college-board-of-what-ever-meal, this was where they had stuff from SPACE!
We were even allowed “backstage” for lack of a better term, and my Dad always made sure to point out the new exhibits in progress and the pieces/parts of how things went together. On one trip we even got to play with the simulators as my Dad arranged a special tour for my Aunt Char who worked in the simulator industry at the time. It is/was a special place and I feel like most people from Hutchinson don’t appreciate what a truly amazing resource and experience the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center holds.
I feel about this place the way people feel about baseball, the Lincoln Memorial, or St. Peter’s. This is a museum that existed throughout my entire childhood and is an amazing place to go home too and kind of reset the internal life barometer. I know, cheesy right? But I’ve been fighting to put my feelings into words the past couple of days and this is the best I could do.
Now, the lobby is dominated by a giant Blackbird (SR-71), which is possibly one of the most amazing vehicles ever designed by man. Seeing one up close is like stepping back in time to an age where American might was displayed via engineering prowess and this was one of our crowning achievements. The “Rescue” photo and this one above are just two of the fantastic looks at this beauty the Cos provides. Oh, and did I mention that we’re still just in the lobby?
Once down in the actual “Hall of Space” Museum, at least it was called that when I was kid, I’m instantly at peace. What can I say? It’s one of my favorite most relaxing places in the world. Eighty years of rocket and space exploration related history washes over you from the German V2, to Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo and the largest collection of Russian space artifacts outside of Moscow. Oh did I mention that most of what is exhibited are actual space artifacts? Real honest to goodness shit that flew in SPACE, including Gemini 7. That’s right, the one that sunk to the bottom of the ocean, lovingly restored with original parts by the Cosmosphere craftsmen.
However, the crown jewel in mind is the actual Command Module from Apollo 13. Not some lame movie prop, although the Cos did built the amazing props for Ron Howard’s Apollo 13, but the real honest to goodness Aquarius that got the Astronauts there and back again.
The Apollo era is what I ended up photographing for the majority of my three hour stint in the museum. I pretty much camped out and shot the Aquarius from very every angle possible. Unfortunately, the reflections from all the other exhibits make it next to impossible to snag a decent wide angel photograph of the actual Command Module, so I concentrated on shooting the interiors of both the LEM and Aquarius, however there is an exterior shot below just for reference.
Also, taking advantage of the fact that my little Canon, with a nifty-fifty, can shoot stunning HD video, I spent some time on my tippy toes shooting into the cockpits of the various exhibits attempting to simulate being in the real thing. Considering it is the real thing, the only challenges were avoiding reflections, no small task as you can see above, and keeping the camera steady. After a bit of rolling shutter correction via The Foundry I was able to get a decent 3D track of the camera in PFTrack. I still need to use this data to smooth out the camera to make it less spastic, but it should turn out as a really great mograph/vfx shot once I add some super-fantastic elements. The best part is that the lighting inside the Aquarius was perfect and once I grade it I’m expecting things to look fantastic.
I could probably sum this post up with some grand bit of writing about space exploration and the dreams of young kid who wanted to be an astronaut…and who realized that was never going to happen and instead focused on learning how to make movies pretending people were astronauts, but that might be a little ridiculous and over the top. Instead, I just wanted to share some thoughts about a place I hadn’t visited in a long time, much like this blog, and share some of the nerd-ery I’ve been into lately.
October 26th, 2010 | Filed under Blog, Photos, Technology
This weekend I tore the guts out an old radio cabinet in hopes of placing the home theatre gear that currently resides below the television inside. My Media Mini (Mac Mini) was a fairly easy fit along with the center channel speaker. However, the Xbox (otherwise known as the “hotbox”) didn’t have enough room to breath and not overheat…so that plan was nixed.
Hailing from an era when technology was also seen as furniture, I didn’t want to see the cabinet shell go to waste, so I stuck my office speakers inside and my turntable on top. So while the cabinet lives on I didn’t have room for all the glorious tubes and resisters inside. Before I completely dismantled the thing I took a couple of photographs of what I think is probably the coolest bit about analog technology. I’ve always loved the way tube guitar amps sound, and someday I’m going to either build or track down a functional tube stereo for my office. I know I could never convince the lady that a stereo needed to warm up for 10 minutes before it became audibly usable, but I sure don’t mind. In the mean time I’m thinking about making prints of these to hang above the cabinet. A fitting tribute to the beauty of old technology, both inside and out.