Friday, September 30, 2011

Sipsey Wilderness, Randolph Trail

This morning, Tyler, Callie (Tyler's dog), and I went for a hike on the Randolph Trail at the Sipsey Wilderness in the Bankhead National Forest. We walked for a long time and never reached our goal, the Big Tree. Perhaps another time. But we did see some very nice countryside...

Sipsey Wilderness, Sipsey River
Sipsey Wilderness, Sipsey River
Sipsey Wilderness, Sipsey River
...and even some local wildlife.

Grey Tree Frog on Orange Bracket Fungus

For those of you looking to hike the Sipsey Wilderness, I have located very detailed and helpful trail map. It's about 34" x 44", though so good luck printing it out. For reference to the photos here, we hiked trails 201 and 209.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Somewhere in Texas, circa 2001

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ivy League

Brookside, Alabama :: Canon Rebel T2i, Tokina AT-X 12-24mm II @ 20mm, f/8 @ 1/100s, ISO 100

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Magic Lily in the Magic City

Apparently, this flower is known by at least four different name: Naked Lady, Hurricane Lily, Spider Lily, and Magic Lily. According to an acquaintance, this latter-most name for the lycoris radiata is a result of the following: "The leaves grow in the Spring and then die back. Later the flowers appear as if by magic." So we have the magic lily in the Magic City.

Brookside, Alabama :: Canon T2i, Tamron 70-300mm Di LD @ 180mm, f/4.5 @ 1/320s

Friday, September 23, 2011

Disaster (Nearly) Averted, Quasi-Resurrection of the Nifty Fifty

After the initial mourning period regarding the dropping and breaking of my EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens, I consulted the elves at about what might be done. I was instructed to get epoxy glue to reset the back-most element group (below) which had become dislodged and lost some of the brads that held it in place.

[Note: Cyanoacrylate glue should be avoided; it has poor shock resistance and gives off a vapour which condenses on the lens elements."]

This morning, I began the rather quick process of gluing and reattaching the displaced element, and reinstalling the back cover the lens, which just snaps in place. That being done, it was time for the real test, taking photos.

I was immediately encouraged that the focusing ring moved smoothly throughout the focal range and that the autofocus worked.

So with good initial results, I then set up the camera on a tripod in front of a brick wall, so I could make sure all the elements were still properly aligned after the impact of the 5-foot fall that caused the damage. They were not.

They four photos below will serve to indicate the problem the lens now has.

Full Photo @ f/1.8 :: Notice the sharp center and the deteriorating focus as you move toward the corners
100% Crop of the Top Left corner @ f/1.8
I then tested the lens at full stop increments from f/1.8 to f/22, the lens' smallest aperture. As the depth of field increased with the smaller apertures, everything in the frame began to come into focus. By f/11, everything was more-or-less as it should have been.

Full Photo @ f/22 :: Notice everything in the frame is equally sharp
100% Crop of the Top Left @ f/22
Of course, only being able to use the lens at f/11 or smaller completely defeats the benefits of the lightweight, wide aperture 50mm f/1.8. It looks as though the Nifty Fifty will have to be replaced, either with the same lens or the Canon EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro Lens, so if anyone's looking to donate to a worthy cause, I can give you the necessary information.

Update: I have been told that the above photos at f/1.8 are what one should expect from this lens with the aperture wide open. And since the lack of corner sharpness is even throughout each of the corners, then the lens is not likely out of alignment.

Autumnal Equinox

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Belated Turkey Creek Finale

I realized, much to my dismay (and of course, your detriment), that I had left out my favorite photo from my recent outing to Turkey Creek. At the time I took this photo, I liked it but didn't anticipate that it would become my favorite from that trip. Nevertheless, it has grown on me quite a bit in the interim.

Turkey Creek Nature Preserve :: Canon T2i, 50mm f/1.8 II, 0.5s @ f/16, ISO 100

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Heavens are Ablaze

The heavens are ablaze with amber light
The morning star has ruptured
Its embers setting fire
to kindling clouds
A rampant conflagration that abates
only as flaming fingers
reach the western horizon

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Graffito's Pseudo-Bravado

There seems to be some irony involved in the spraying of such a proclamation on the back of an abandoned grocery store, where there's little to no opportunity to be apprehended by The Institution toward whom the message is so clearly intended. Perhaps the actions belie the declaration.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tragedy Strikes the Nifty Fifty

The lens I have had the longest and used most regularly on my Canon cameras (both film and digital) is a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II. While it isn't necessarily my favorite focal length, particularly on the APS-C sensor Canon cameras, it is certainly Canon's most economical lens, coming in at around $100.

My 50mm provided several years of faithful service...until today. It turns out that the lens wasn't designed to survive a fall from about 5 feet onto rocks. To be fair, this lens has survived innumerable bumps and thumps before today's mortal wound.

This morning, I left the house early so that I would be able to take a couple of photos of an old building in Bessemer that adjacent to some railroad tracks. I was hoping to catch it in that golden light before the sun gets to high above the horizon. (I was successful, but that is not the subject of this post, so you'll just have to wait.) 

As I was packing up and walking away, I had the lens about shoulder high until gravity wrenched it back to earth. Even though the fall occurred behind me, I knew almost instinctively its source. And when I leaned to pick up the lens, it made a miserable rattling noise that was not native to it.

The aft-most element of the lens had broken away from the surface to which it was mounted. Upon consulting the wise elves at, I received some guidance on what might be done, though the outlook is grim for any sort of revival. Amidst the advice/encouragement I received was a site, which describes in detail the method for disassembling/reassembling this lens. Well, I already had half of that covered.

My next step will be to glue the back element back into place. Some of the lugs which naturally held it were broken off, so gluing is the only method for re-attachment. Even if that element can be effectively re-attached, there's still the possibility that other elements will be misaligned because of the fall's impact.

Over the next couple of days I'll attempt to resuscitate this little gem, but despair reigns supreme.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

ACLU Memo Regarding Photographers' Rights in Public

The ACLU has just released a memo regarding photographers' rights in public spaces, particularly as it relates to the photographing or videoing of police officers. The ACLU's statement, under their 'Know Your Rights' section, is based on several court decisions that have come down in recent months or years. The article can be found here.

My advice, just because you're legally entitled to photograph a particular person or occurrence doesn't make it wise to do so. When in doubt, defer to that age-old idiom: Discretion is the better part of Valor.

In keeping with this week's theme...

...I present my final photos from Friday's outing to Turkey Creek. These differ a bit in style from the previous couple of days' postings. I really wanted to emphasize color and texture.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Turkey Creek Falls at Turkey Creek Nature Preserve

I have found, for whatever reason, that Turkey Creek Falls seems to be a particularly difficult subject to photograph well. And I'm still convinced there's room improvement from the offering here. For the photo below, I employed two different techniques. A couple of months ago, I explained about using welding glass as a neutral density filter, here. So I combined that with a multi-bracketed exposure (HDR) so as to get the full dynamic range and have that lovely milky smooth water that comes with a long exposure.

This photo taken using the following equipment: Canon EOS Rebel T2i, Tokina 12-24mm f/4 Pro II, Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod, and Bogen 3047 Pan/Tilt Head

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Memorium

September 11, 2008 :: Gardendale, Alabama :: Agfa Billy Record, Kodak NPH 400 film

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Reflecting on Turkey Creek

Turkey Creek has become one of my favorite places, and not for any particular reason. It just seems to resonate with me to some degree. But for whatever reason, the photographs I've taken both at the Nature Preserve and elsewhere on the creek have never been as impressive to me after I have gotten home with them, as at the time of taking (a prior outing with decent results, here). And that's always distressing.

Of the many photos taken yesterday, these are a couple that are worthy of seeing the light of day (or perhaps that judgment is more appropriately left to the viewer).

One of the things I wanted to focus on for this little outing was photographing reflections and emphasizing textures and colors. One of the photographers whose blog I follow is Donald Kinney, and he does this sort of work particularly well. I do not, but he has inspired me. So this post and the next one will evidence the trial (and error) of the task I set before myself.

One last note, my friend Tyler Dooley went with me and has posted his work as well.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Elevated Kayak-Cam Mount on DIY Photography

The Elevated Kayak-Cam mount that I constructed a couple of weeks ago is being featured on the DIY Photography website. I've always enjoyed their site and am glad to be able to make a small contribution.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

East Texas Wildfires

There have been widespread accounts of wildfires in east Texas, due in large part to the extreme drought conditions. These blazes were spurned on yesterday by gusty winds. Below are some aerial photos of those wildfires as we returned to Birmingham on Labor Day, in what would eventually become the most dreadful flying experience of my life, and involved people crying and vomiting. I was about ready to start looking for Jonah and toss him off the boat.

The NBC affiliate in Tyler, Texas (KETK) has elected to use a couple of the photos on their website.

These photos taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i and Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II.

Monday, September 5, 2011


I'm not normally one for photos of people, because it's not something that I do particularly well. However, this Labor Day weekend we headed to Dallas for my nephew's first birthday party, so I figured I ought to do my darnedest to get some good results. And without further ado, here are my humble offerings...

These photos taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i and Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Abstract from Puerto Rico

How about an oldie for nostalgia's sake. This was my favorite photo taken in Puerto Rico in 2008. This was taken at El Yunque National Forest.

Canon A-1, FD 50mm f/1.4

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In These Late Days of Summer...

...the bees are still busy collecting, while they can. But as the days begin to grow shorter, so too does the time before their winter hibernation.

This photo taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i and Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Di LD.