Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blog News - #73FH Please, Long Lost Tamron Family Member, and A Spira Encounter


Quite a bit has happened photographically since my last post. And a new job with "The Man" has kept me plenty busy so updating has taken somewhat of a backseat (apologies!). Anywho...

#73FH Tamron Hood for Tamron SP 180mm f/2.5 ED-IF Found!

I liked the feel of this lens from the get-go. After some indoor shooting, I could tell the lens has a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the copy I found (for a great price!) didn't come with the hood (#73FH). I actually found a post on PentaxForums by someone with the same issue. One of the responses went to the effect of: with only 3000 of these made, it's relatively unlikely there are too many lenses without their matched hood. Discouraging. Well, time spent on eBay has paid off. Recently a seller listed one as a BIN for a great price and it was mine. So they are out there...and they make a great difference. If you cannot find the OEM hood, I would suggest getting a third part screw-on hood or something. With such a large front element I had begun to notice flare and loss of contrast. Now, with the hood, no issues!

After purchasing the 180mm lens some time back, I have been using it as often as I can. I find the challenge to find ways to use a 180mm focal length as a "walk around" lens a good perceptual exercise. Often 180mm is too narrow of an angle of view to capture the entirety of the types of subjects I pass and find interest in. See exhibit A. I brought this lens along to the flea market and as I am exiting my car, I see one my favorite cars ever produced, casually sitting next to a dumpy white van, on a gravel lot in front of a grain silo. The license plate read "88 MPH".

Because of the building to my rear (directly in front of the car), the vehicle parked next to the DeLorean, and various other obstructions, I didn't have enough room to maneuver where I needed and 180mm was just too long to capture the whole car. I packed light so I did the best I could. But again, 180mm lenses aren't really a "walk around" type anyway. I have fun. And I love these cars.

While I am on the flea market note. I picked these lenses up while I was there. $5 for the both of them. While I am not quite sure what to do with them as they are Minolta mount, I am curious as to what they may be capable of. Perhaps the GF1 can be of some assistance.

Vivitar 85-205mm f/3.8 (Looks like Kiron may have made this one)

Aetna Coligon 135mm f/2.8 (16-Blade diaphragm)

Long Lost Tamron Family Member: Tamron SP 300mm f/2.8 LD 107B

No promises, but this one may just be coming for a visit...or extended stay. You've been warned. Described as "Like New" so if all goes well I may be able to check it out. I realize this version does not have Internal Focus and can be a bit of a pain but hey, I'm doing this for posterity!

A Spira Encounter

The most interesting of the recent events occurred this past week while I was at work around mid-day. I was sitting at my desk when my phone begins to ring. I look and it's an unrecognizable number but honestly, I get excited about this type of thing. 9 times out of 10 it's a wrong number or a sales person for something. This time it wasn't.

Through his prominent New York accent, I didn't catch his name at first but he began describing my short article about the Spiratone 18mm f/3.5. Also this one. Then he we re-iterated why he was calling and it became clear. Jonathan Spira (pronounced "Spy-rah"), son of the late Mr. Fred Spira, head of Spiratone;

Jonathan was calling to say hello and also to inform me he is putting together a Facebook page for Spiratone. He asked to use a couple of my images. He said a few others have begun contributing information such as scanned articles and old Spiratone ads. Ideally, the page will be a hub for info about the company and the innumerable neat gadgets once sold by this pioneering company. Definitely check it out. And if you haven't played with any of Spiratone's stuff, go to eBay and look! You can find some really unique tools.

It was great to speak with Jonathan about growing up in the Spira household with boxes and boxes of camera gear flooding the house. So much so, that he commented: the joke in the family was when someone wanted to take a picture, no one could find a loaded camera or knew which one to use. He has a great sense of humor about the whole situation.

Mr. Jonathan Spira currently resides in NY and is works as an analyst. He is also writing a book, the content of which I am unsure whether it makes a difference if I say, but out of courtesy, I shall omit.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Happy Belated Fourth of July!

I have always loved the 4th of July. Its probably a combination of any number of elements surrounding the holiday such as warm summer nights, a care-free spirit, family and friends, grilling out, and, let's not forget, explosives!

I have always been fascinated by fireworks. Admittedly, I will give the text a friend of mine sent me as I watched our local show a small acknowledgment, "Somebody has to say it: fireworks are boring." They certainly can be repetitive if you are only watching for a "show". I find however, I have become taken with the entire experience. I love sitting close and feeling the impact of an exploding shell resonate in my chest. The people with whom you watch them can also make all the difference in the world. This year I had perhaps my best firework experience to date.

The Girl and I parked my car just above the dam of the lake where they put on the show around 11am. We then were dropped off around 7pm, walked into the mexican restaurant located at the corner of the overlook, had margaritas, and by 8pm were relaxing atop my vehicle surveying the many people crowding in attempting to find seating. At 9:15ish, the show began and it was perfect. Just myself and the Girl, well, and a couple cameras...

The biggest draw I have to fireworks these days, (now that I am no longer building launchers out of PVC and warring with my friends) is their inherent photogenic nature. Fireworks were made to be photographed! This year, I tried something a little different than last. Last year, I set up two cameras: one with a wide angle and the other with an 80-200mm tele. This year I just took one DSLR, mounted the wide angle 17-35mm a few times for some wide shots, but more often used the Tamron SP 180mm f/2.5 63B. I would follow the dimly lit shells on their way up after being launched and then snap a couple shots just as they exploded! I have to say, I am very pleased with the results.

Just about all of these images were made at ISO 3200 with the Nikon D700. Exposure was 1/250 wide open (f/2.5) with that Tamron SP 180mm. Due to the contrasty nature of fireworks, I have found a fair amount of fringing since I was shooting wide open, but with fireworks, CA actually seems to be rather insignificant on the end result. Fireworks, in my opinion, can leave a lot of room for interpretation.

Happy 4th of July!