A couple weeks ago, I was driving through the desert of western Arizona. The clouds were quickly changing and various degrees of light and shade were trading places upon the landscape. I wish I could have set up a tripod for time-lapse video, but by the time I walked to this spot, all the good stuff was gone in about a minute.
The first camera I ever purchased was a beloved entry level Pentax K1000. It served its purpose very well, and before too long I upgraded in the Pentax line. It only took a couple years until I discovered that I needed to be using a large format camera for the type of photography I was doing. After about a decade of that, I found that there were times a downsizing was ok, and for that I had a Pentax 6×7 camera. When the time came to go digital, I resisted, but then eventually caved in where it made sense to get a Pentax DSLR, so I could continue using some of the lenses I still owned.
At the time, Pentax had not developed full frame sensor cameras, so the only thing I needed was a wider lens for the smaller sensor. That Tamron lens had some nice results, but after a couple years I noticed there were focus inconsistencies. I was still using film around then, happier with those results overall.
Annoyed with the lens issues, I thought it was time to believe the rhetoric that only Nikon and Canon made real cameras. I purchased a Canon camera that produced horrible results, so I returned it. Then I bought an entry level Nikon. It came with a kit lens, but I thought at some point I would go full frame, so I also bought an extreme wide angle zoom capable of covering the larger sensor. The focus was great, but the files seemed to be noisy, even at 100 ISO. I started to take both the Nikon and Pentax out together and compare them side-by-side. To my surprise the results from the Pentax were nicer than the Nikon, using the older Pentax lenses. I soon sold off the Nikon. So much for the hype.
After a couple more years, Pentax finally got with the program and had a full frame sensor. They never had ultra wide zooms when I used film, so that was the only addition to shoot with that camera. Although I was happy with the results, the lens is one of those that has no filter threads. I wanted to use ND filters where the light was too much for the situation, and that wasn’t an option. When I sold off the Nikon, I still had the wide zoom. I had tried a couple times to sell it, only to get some lame offers.
Pentax and Nikon mounts are very similar, but mount in opposite directions. It is possible to insert a Nikon lens into a Pentax body, but not to the point where it locks. I have carefully taken a couple photos with this combination, but there is no aperture control. The reverse situation of a Pentax lens on a Nikon body does not mount at all.
Early last year I was looking at my unused Nikon lens and decided it either had to go or become useful. I was intrigued by the direction of digital cameras towards mirrorless, but didn’t want to invest in a whole line of lenses. When I saw that Nikon had made an adapter for its DSLR lenses, they got my attention. The real game changer came from someone else, however. Due to the narrowness of the camera body on the mirrorless, there is room for an adapter now. Thank you, Fotodiox!
So I haven’t really figured out what to call my hybrid system. Is it Niktax? Or Penton? The Nikon body is even small enough to fit inside an old Pentax lens pouch. Eventually I will probably replace the Pentax lenses with Nikon equivalents, but I’ve been using manual lenses most of my life and have no problem operating that way.
I was going through my media storage the other day, and came across this shot from a trip to New Orleans a couple years ago. I never got around to putting this one out, so here it is finally. It must have been quite a sign when it worked, and this was definitely the more preserved side of the sign. Only a few neon tubes remain and the paint has long since faded, but from top to bottom it reads, “Union Foreign American Parts”. Sounds like an identity crisis, or they were just trying to appeal to everyone.
I always liked this photo in color, and never really thought of it in black and white until I was playing around with some files last week. Some effects can be achieved in Photoshop, and sometimes you just have to wait for the right moment to press the shutter. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before. I call it Mother Nature’s dodge and burn. A storm was clearing over the Superstition Mountains just as it was getting late in the day. Shafts of light were sliding around here and there, then a large opening in the clouds allowed for the Saguaro cactus forest to be illuminated while the cliffs above were waiting their turn.
As we approach springtime, it’s becoming clear that we really haven’t had a winter here in the southwest. One big storm came through, but in a week’s time, that was already in the rearview mirror. There have been some years where spring has produced several good storms, and salvaged what was otherwise a dismal water season. I’m hoping this is one of those years, because we really need the water.
I like exploring nature to find the features that haven’t been posted on social media over and over again. If I sent this one out with a location tag, I’m afraid it might join that not so elite group. As with an image I posted a couple months ago, this one is loaded with color, but I’m more inclined to this rendition.
I’m truly amazed at what a digital camera can see versus what the human eye sees. Anybody who has taken night sky images can tell you that. The original of this shot is on medium format transparency film, and I don’t see any details in the middle ground. Just pure contrast.
Since I’ve started “scanning” old film, this shot has stood out as as the biggest surprise. Even with Photoshop, I was not able to pull out any detail from the shadows from the file created with an actual scanner. I could have tried exposure blending, but I only used one shot and a little bit of Photoshop to create the final product you see here.
Apparently, our week of winter is over in the desert. Several days ago, it rained overnight, and as I was taking the dog for its morning walk, I passed by a neighbor’s rain-patterned hood. They must have recently waxed their car, because mine never looks like this after it rains. I was fascinated by the patterns and textures, so I returned with my camera.
Another shot from about a week ago, but a pulled back perspective. I loved the shapes created by this branch along with its reflection, in the Salt River. The bird – a Black Phoebe, part of the Kingfisher family – kept returning to a couple points on this branch to search for its next prey. The image from this series in my previous post is an uncropped full frame image; that’s how persistent this bird was in returning to the high spot on the branch.
As most of you know, when I’m outdoors taking photographs, I concentrate my efforts on the details of the landscape. In recent days, I have made trips with the primary purpose of capturing the animals and birds of the environment. This requires faster thinking and slower movement than with my traditional subjects, and has been an interesting change of pace.
As in photography, so goes life. While Covid still has prevented much of what I might have otherwise been doing, I have been making a point to not just sit around Netflix binging. I probably won’t be presenting the things which I have been learning on this site, but I have been using this newfound spare time to take on challenges which I never would have attempted years ago. As my recent birthday was one in which both digits changed, I’m glad to be pushing my limits at a time when many people stop doing that.
Additionally, I wanted to point out that while I have photographed more birds in the last few months than I have in the rest of my life, I really never knew which species most of them were. I tried identifying them via websites, but wasn’t getting results. Then I downloaded an app called Merlin Bird ID. The only downside to this app is if you don’t have memory space on your phone to download the databases for your region. This app has made life simple for someone like me who’s not a birder.
Finding running water around here is getting tougher, but there are some places that always come through. A normal water level here would be covering most of those rocks, and the algae has dried to leave a crusty white cap. I’m learning to make the best of cloudless skies, as that appears to be the trend this winter.
With ridiculously warm temperatures and fires throughout the west, I’ve had little incentive to want to be out photographing this year. A couple hundred people got to live out my worst nightmare earlier this year when fast moving fires in California required them to be rescued in the forest. Las Vegas finally ended a string of 240 days without measurable rain last week. That should be a forever-standing record, and if it ends up being broken, we’re in deep trouble.
Despite so much negative news taking place, there have been some wonderful rare events this year. The Comet Neowise and this week’s Jupiter-Saturn conjunction have been a part of that. I bought a long telephoto lens a couple of years ago with the hopes of using it for wildlife and moonrise photos. I did research on telescopes vs. telephoto lenses before my purchase, and realized a telescope would have too many limitations. My lens has had a learning curve, and I have been pleasantly surprised to find that I can see Saturn’s rings in a photo taken with this lens. All this from the comfort of my backyard. I guess the lesson we should be taking from 2020 is that good things are still happening and we just need to keep our eyes and our minds open to them.