After living for a year in Ucluelet, on Vancouver Island's rugged outer shore, we decided to fulfill another dream and move to the downtown area of Vancouver. These are the adventures, in words and images, of a couple of retirees now based in Lower Lonsdale.

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Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Wee Beastie in the Wild

I recently ventured out to my beloved Lynn Valley so that I could try out the 400mm Wee Beastie lens I recently acquired. The afternoon was intermittent overcast, with roving patches of diffuse sunlight tracking through the heavier clouds. For the first time, I tried the suspension bridge park, and chose to walk anti-clockwise, and headed for Twin Falls.



The wall of the "punch bowl" that the water has carved from the rock was brilliantly coloured, ranging from lighter umber to dark and vivid maroons and purples, all anchored by the dark greens of the water. Here's where the Wee Beastie brings it right in your face.



I have to note that this is not a trail overly suited for older folk. Regardless of your direction of travel, there are simply a pant load of stairs. Throw into the mix that the trails have many, many tree roots, and it can become a trial, rather than a trail.



The suspension bridge is a bit anticlimactic if one has done Capilano, but what it lacks in scale, it makes up for in sheer exuberance... the slightest movement sets it into prolonged and most exciting motion. (Minimize this by waiting until the bridge is your's alone.)

So, OK, I've done the suspension bridge and I wouldn't do it again for the reasons I outlined above: it tired me out and, really, it just didn't have the bang for the buck as far as being close to the river, which is primarily why we're there. At that point, I drove up to the headwaters and did my favorite Varley Trail which skirts right along the river, with just superb scenery.



And since you've all been so good to get this far, here's a portrait of the Wee Beastie, in situ:




Friday, 23 January 2015


If you, Dear Reader, read my last post, entitled "Anticipation", you know that the title of this post relates to the new (old) 400mm lens of which I just took delivery. The Wee Beastie arrived, and it is mint condition, followed a day later by the Sony E-mount adapter (the lens is Pentax K mount). The lens even has a built-in rotating tripod mount. It's a peach! (Albeit an olive green peach... for some obscure reason, it has a military livery.)



I've always loved long telephoto lenses, not simply for their reach, but also for their ability to isolate a graphic element, to compress perspective, and, if you're lucky, they possess a pleasing bokeh. (Bokeh is a Japanese term that describes the quality of the out-of-focus areas in an image.)



Looking at the first results of the new (old) Sigma, I am nicely satisfied.



Handling-wise, the Sigma is large and heavy, but nowhere nearly as large and heavy as most comparable 400mm lenses. That's one of the main reasons I chose it, to minimize the wear and tear on my arthritic hands. The manual focus is beautifully smooth and buttery, and in combination with the technology that the Sony a6000 body provides, such as focus peaking and focus magnification, it is super quick to nail the focus. The only niggle is that (very commonly to this lens) the sliding lens hood does so with abandon, accompanied by a loud clink as it bottoms out at either end. The addition of an elastic band nicely solves the issue effectively and cheaply.



The tripod mount is actually fairly-well balanced, even with the light a6000 body, and the adapter adds a it more weight at the back end. I adapted a camera strap with a QR clamp to use handheld as I didn't want to stress the a6000's strap lugs. But for the most part. This combo will be tripod-mounted to get the best sharpness at the lowest practical ISO. I have fooled about a bit and found that I can effectively handhold the beast by setting the a6000 to Shutter Priority, setting a speed of 1/1250, and letting Auto ISO adjust as needed to achieve the exposure. With the Sony, I will let the ISO range up to 12800. Phenomenal!



I'm looking forward to getting out to the trails either at Lynn Canyon, or over at Capilano to do a full on test with nature images. More to come...


Sunday, 18 January 2015

Anticipation !

One of the things that is obvious as I examine my photos, is that much of my time is spent at either the ultra-wide or at the long limit of my available lenses. And at the long telephoto end, I've been stuck at 300mm (35mm equivalent) since I sold my Micro 4/3s equipment and moved to Sony mirrorless.

Well, I'm all excited because I'm awaiting delivery of a Sigma 400mm f5.6 long telephoto prime lens. It's an older lens, from the 1980's, but it has a stellar reputation and despite being built like a tank, it is also relatively light and small. I found it online at KEH rated as "excellent +" for less than $200. This is with a seller that has a reputation for undervaluing their goods. All of the gear I've bought from them over the years has been better than they have described. Hot damn!

It's a Pentax K mount so I had to source a PK-to-Sony E mount adapter, and now I will have a 600mm f5.6 (35EQ) lens, complete with built-in tripod mount. I LOVE long telephoto lenses for the great separation they give to pop something out against an out-of-focus background. And simply being able to pull a subject in so close is really the reason for such a lens.

Can't wait to get this puppy and get out and shoot with it!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

J-Lo in LoLo?

Now that I have your attention...

Actually, the only connection is that I, who currently live in LoLo, just processed these images of J-Lo, which I took at the Vancouver We Day, back in October.

This is more of a photo-centric post, because it amazes and pleases me that I was able to capture some meaningful images from less-than-optimal circumstances.

We were sitting up in the "nose bleed" seats and I shot my Sony NEX 7 with the kit 55-210mm lens, which is not particularly sharp at the far end. And, I had to use high ISO to get fast enough shutter speeds, but cropping in on that lovely 24MP sensor sure helps to compensate for the lack of anything longer than 300mm (35mm equivalent).

The starkness of the lighting worked very well for process no these as B&W, as did the noise which ends up looking very film-grain-like.

Great performer and stunningly beautiful.