Friday, April 21, 2017

Marathon Monday

The Boston Marathon provided plenty of photo fodder. I watched the race around mile five. So these folks were just getting going as most of their 26 mile run was yet to come.

Lenses used: Olympus 12-40mm for the first few shots, 75-300mm for the rest.

The scene as the elite runners approached:

Elite Entourage

Here were the front runners of the men, as they passed by me. These are some of the fastest men on earth.

Leaders of the Pack

The cool thing is that I can predict the future! Would you guess that maybe one of these guys won the Boston Marathon when they got to Boston? Yup. Sure did. Take a look at the very last runner in the shot above. In the next shot, taken just a fraction of a second later, he's fully in frame. He's wearing a red and white top. He is Geoffrey Kirui, of Kenya. He is running in his first Boston Marathon, and he will win this 2017 Boston Marathon, after another hour and a half or so of running. Not bad for a newbie. Who eventually came in second, you ask? That would be Galen Rupp, an American! He's the white shirted runner very near the front of the pack.

Leaders Advance

Runners do not all start at the same time. The elite runners, seen above, have an earlier start than most of the other runners. In fact, the majority of the runners come in four specific waves, labeled wave 1, 2, 3, and 4. Each wave contains a *lot* of runners, and they tend to be much closer together in this earlier part of the race. Here's a typical burst sequence I took. These were taken in the "low" burst mode of my camera at around 5 frames per second. In this mode, the camera refocuses for each shot.

Burst Sequence

Here's a shot of me with my gear, moments after arriving on the scene. The street is empty, as the elite runners had not yet come by.

Amateur Photographer Arrives With Gear
Photo is courtesy of Carol Griffin

As if it weren't difficult enough to run 26.2 miles, some chose to add on certain activities. Would you believe this guy juggled three balls the entire race?

The Juggler

Another way to look at the race:

Multiple Exposure For Multiple Runners

The runners were not the only subject worthy of photographing. The viewers cheering them on were giving high fives and having a great time. The joy of the younger observers was particularly fun to capture.

All Smiles

And her sister. Sorry about the elbow of another child in the shot. Sometimes that is the price of capturing a true candid.

Purple Shades

The Boston Marathon has a lot of security since 2013. We never felt particularly alone, that's for sure.

Eye in the Sky

Colorful attire, and many expressions.

Orange Bottom Half

Headphones and flying hair.

Eyes on the Prize

Here's a quick video.

Sometimes eyes are to the ground, in deep concentration.


Other times, we see pure determination.


More young Marathon watchers:

View on the Hill

Best Seat in the House

All photos © 2017, all rights reserved.  Contact me for licensing or to order prints.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Cherry Blossoms

This post is a set of photos I took of one of our two cherry trees. These are all taken with the 75-300mm Oly telephoto lens, most at 300mm (600mm equivalent). I enjoyed that I was able to vary the background color by simply pointing to a different section of the tree. All achieved nice isolation of the blossoms simply because they are shot with a telephoto lens at max magnification.

Personally, I feel this lens is way underrated by the "photographic community." I love the fact that I can carry around a lens with this incredible reach, and yet it only weighs 14.9 ounces and is a rather short 116.5mm in length. It won't work quite so well in dim light, do its modest aperture ability, but that's a worthwhile tradeoff, as I prefer good light to make for more pleasing shots in any case. These are taken in the morning light.

Can you spot the bee in this first one?

Making a Bee Line for It


Tree Top


Set Against Deep Green

Bright Blue Sky Backing

This is a cropped version of the next photo to follow it. I show both because I feel they both have a story to tell.

Mid Tree Blossoms

Mid Tree Blossoms 2

Framed Cherry Blossoms

Sweeping Vistas


All photos © 2017, all rights reserved.  Contact me for licensing or to order prints.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Early Spring at the Res, plus Backyard Life

My walk around the res today was my third res walk this week. Spring has arrived! It is still early, but the signs of Spring are all around; the buds are opening on all the deciduous trees and shrubs. A very busy time of year for living things.

All of the photos in this post are taken, hand-held, with my Olympus 75-300mm lens. In addition, many of these have been cropped in post processing. I was quite far away from many of the subjects. Much of these details were not revealed to me until I viewed the photos on my computer screen.


Tips 2


The Cormorant is Often on the Rock

Green Needles

Res Blue

Homage to Monet

The large field next to the Res was hosting several sporting events including a Cricket match.

Cricket Grounder

Caught just before the release:

Putting a Spin On It

After returning home, I took a few pictures in our back yard. Who doesn't love a Red Bud tree?

Red Bud

Just after photographing the Red Bud's buds (sorry, couldn't help saying that :), this next little guy decided to fly by and set for two seconds on a far away branch. He's a very small bird. But there is something very cute about the look of a Tufted Titmouse; do you agree?

Tufted Titmouse Among New Buds

All photos © 2017, all rights reserved.  Contact me for licensing or to order prints.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Bard at ISO 3200

Deb and I had the pleasure of attending a rather unusual and fun performance the other night. We got to see the very entertaining "Shakespeare To Hip Hop" show. The group consists of two actors/performers, Regie Gibson and Marlon Carey, backed up by a musical trio. They taught us about Shakespeare and his work using rap music. Both actors were extraordinarily animated and expressive with their poetry and acting. Regie Gibson is a National Poetry Slam Champion and TEDx speaker. Marlon Carey has also won many accolades for his poetry, writing, and performing skill. Please see to learn more about them.

Regie Gibson

Unfortunately, the venue was in a very dimly lit church. Not only was the light dim, it wasn't a warm light either, but rather a drab colorless environment. Turns out the applicable white balance on my camera was 2800 degrees K, which is nearly "candle light" level.

Adding to the low light challenges, Marlon was standing directly in front of a bright screen which was displaying images to accompany the performance; he was very strongly backlit. Since I don't use spot metering, I used a +3 full f-stop exposure override when photographing Marlon. I was even able to recover the image on the bright screen behind him somewhat by lowering highlights in post processing. In addition to the low light issue, I wasn't particularly close to the performers; we were sitting about two thirds of the way back in the church pews.

The good news is that my camera was still able to capture a few decent photos, despite the challenges. With some post-processing, the photos show a clearer picture than what we saw with the naked eye.

Marlon Carey

Because of the extra distance from the subject, I took these with my 60mm lens, which is equivalent to 120mm in a full frame camera. While this is also a macro lens, it takes perfectly good pictures at any distance. In this case, I cropped in further in post for these photos, using as little as 1/3 of the original pixels in this third photo. I suppose that is a bit like using a 360mm equivalent lens (with no cropping.) My 60mm lens is an f/2.8 lens. Were I to have used my 70-300mm telephoto, I'd have to use a higher f-stop, and that would not have yielded these satisfactory results.

Marlon, as Juliet

I used the Aperture priority mode on my camera, setting it to its most wide open setting of f/2.8. Given that these actors/rappers/singers were quite dynamic, gesticulating frequently, it was important to try to get the shutter speed fast enough to be able to freeze the action. I was hoping for at least 1/60 second or faster. These four photos ended up being at 1/40, 1/100, 1/25, and 1/50 of a second, respectively. An oft used rule of thumb is go at least as fast as one over the (35 mm equivalent) focal length. It's likely the "rule" is meant for non-moving subjects. Clearly if the subject is moving, it would be better to go even faster. In any case, the rule suggests that I should be shooting at 1/120 second and preferably faster. So, I was living a bit "outside the box" when I dared shoot these at slower speeds. I do have 5 f-stops of in-camera stabilization, so the rules can often be stretched w/my gear, the real issue in this case being how fast the subject was moving. When I took the photos I made every effort to capture the actor/singer when he was not moving, or moving very little, yet also capture the emotion and vitality of the performance.

Making a Point

There's some noise in the photos since they are taken at ISO 3200 on a Micro Four Thirds sensor camera of this vintage. If I'd had, say, an Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens (a possible new acquisition some day) I would have had another 1 1/2 f-stops to play with and could have dropped the ISO to 1600 or 800 which would largely eliminate any noticeable noise in the photographs. I've taken other pictures at ISO 3200 and even 6400, that show less noise than these, so there's no hard and fast upper ISO limit on low noise photos. Results depend on many factors.

All photos © 2017, all rights reserved.  Contact me for licensing or to order prints.