For the birds

January 21, 2013  •  Leave a Comment
We finally had some sun in Houston. I took a stroll through the marina Sunday morning with the Canon FD 500mm reflex f8 on the Sony NEX-6 and snapped a few photos of the birds sunbathing.


Curious ducks


Happy new year

January 01, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Is there anything more cliche than the constant end-of-year best-of wrap-ups and resolutions for the new year? I've put this post off for a week trying to avoid it, but it's an annual tradition we must all suffer through.

First off, the world didn't end. I still have a mortgage and a bunch of bills to pay, but hey, at least we're not dead.
I spent Christmas in Kansas. My parents got a 3D TV, but they only have three 3D movies, so we watched both MIB:3 and Spiderman twice. They got the Sharp model with the active glasses. It's pretty impressive.
The weather was frigid, so I didn't spend much time outside taking pictures, but I did get a couple shots of cold birds.
Cold bird

And I stopped on my way to Pizza Hut to snap main street of Indepence, Kansas in all of its holiday glory.


After plenty of quality time with the family, it was back to Houston for slightly warmer but rainier weather. A north wind pushed all the water out of the marina. My hopes of sailing before the end of the year were dashed on the rocks and we had a beach where our channel in and out of the marina used to be.

Marina del Sol beach

The upside to the wind pushing all the water out of the marina while getting lots of rain, it was kind of like the toilet had been flushed. By the time the water came back Monday morning, it was very clear -- at least very clear for Galveston, Texas. However, it was still raining Monday, so I still didn't get to sail.

As I cleaned house and prepped for the new year, I took some time to toy around with macro tubes on the Sony NEX-6 and got a few interesting shots.

Argus Brick

Happy New Year

Need a light?

Being the first of the year, I'm halfway tempted to officially start a 365 project. However, I think I'll keep it unofficial for now and see if I can just post one interesting shot per day to flickr.

Although I did rig my spinnaker this year, I never actually got to fly it. I either had crew and terrible weather or great weather and no crew. C'est la vie. I will try again in 2013.

I did finally spend the night anchored out this year. I also had dolphins swim along with me during one sail. Maybe that makes up for the lack of spinnaker use.

I kicked off 2013 with a major workout. I'm riding the MS 150 Houston to Austin in April, so I've got to start training. I've ridden it twice before, but not in several years. Yes, I will be hitting you up for donations in the near future. I'm hoping to raise at least $1,000 for the National MS Society this year. Dropping a few pounds while I help those suffering from Multiple Sclerosis is just an added bonus.

It's back to work tomorrow, and we're charging right into four huge projects that are all due by the end of February. I'm very thankful I have help this year.

Thank you to everyone who read my ramblings in 2012. I wish you all the best in 2013.

To end, I'll wrap up this post with one of the most serene moments of 2012.

PS: I pre-ordered the new Leica M!

Catching up

December 13, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I've slipped on the blogging. Work got crazy, and on the weekends if I can be sailing or shooting photos, I kind of forget about sitting around and writing.

After shooting with the NEX-6 for a week, I sold the Leica M8. It had 29,000 actuations and although I loved the color rendering of the Kodak sensor, it was just a really slow, dated camera with horribly noisy high ISO. Prices were already plummeting, so I figured I better unload it while it was still worth something to somebody.

Although I love the versatility of the NEX-6 (500mm telephoto lenses, macro tubes, video, etc.), the fact that it isn't a full frame sensor still drives me crazy. I would really like my 28mm Ultron to be 28mm instead of cropped down to a 42mm field of view when shooting on a boat. You can't back up on a boat.

Sailing to Redfish Island

I really want to place my pre-order for the new Leica M, but refurbished M9s have dropped to around $4k, and I really wonder if Sony will unleash a full frame NEX this year in the $3k range. The difference in price could mean a nice lens or several sailboat upgrades. I just haven't been able to justify the cost yet.

The first week I had the NEX I visited my parents in Kansas. I was hoping for some wildlife, but trekking through the woods with two dogs was no conducive to sneaking up on any kind of animals ... but I did see evidence of animals having been there prior to our arrival.


The clear skies of Kansas also present a nice opportunity for some star photography. There's so much haze and light pollution in Houston that even attempting to shoot stars is a lost cause.


Saturday we attended the Texas Photographic Collectors Association meeting at Professional Camera Repair for a presentation on "cheap macro." We got lots of tips on macro tubes, macro converters, shooting with lenses backwards, etc.

TPCA December Meeting
 Being the only members under 50 and Rachael being the only girl, they gave her a Polariod Land Camera Automatic 100 that came into the shop. She was quite thrilled and has film on order.

Polaroid Land Camera Automatic 100

I practiced some birding with the 500mm Canon FD f8 reflex lens I procured via eBay. It gives great image compression, separation and detail. I was quite pleased.

Windy Gull

I also did a little bit of macro -- something I couldn't do at all with the M8 -- with my new macro tube kit.

Today's fortune

I know this post was a bit scattered, but that more or less catches us up to the present. I was hoping to take the next two weeks off for the holidays, but I'm going to be in the office until the 21st.

I'll try to stay on a posting schedule now that all my major projects are finished for the year, but if life gets too busy, have a happy holiday.

 Happy Holidays, Flickr

The ups and downs of EVFs

December 13, 2012  •  Leave a Comment
I got up early to shoot the sunrise and some birds with my new Sony NEX-6. This is the first camera I've had that utilizes an electronic viewfinder.

Focusing has proven to be easy, even in the dark. That's a plus.

However, every time I take a photo, the viewfinder blacks out. There's a noticeable lag before it comes back on. That blackout makes it really hard to follow birds with a long zoom.

Guess you better compose each shot right the first time ...

Sony NEX-6 First Impressions

December 13, 2012  •  Leave a Comment
Since aquiring my M8 I've been waiting for a high quality mirrorless camera with a viewfinder that can utilize my Leica lenses and shoot video. (The new Leica M is that camera, but it's still MONTHS away.)

I almost jumped at the Sony NEX-7, but I heard it had issues with the sensor overheating during video. Then I almost jumped at the Fuji X-Pro1, but it still didn't seem like a fully developed camera.

I finally ordered the Sony NEX-6.

Sony NEX-6 with kit zoom

Initial setup was a little slow and not completely intuitive. It took me about an hour to get the wifi working with my iPhone and an iPad I borrowed. This required installing the Sony Play Memories Mobile app on the phone or tablet and then plugging the camera into my computer and installing the Remote Trigger and Photo Upload apps. There are several other apps on the Sony site I haven't loaded yet.

Pairing the devices is not fast. Sometimes it takes over a minute, and it still seems buggy, but once it is finally paired, it works well.

Sony NEX-6 wireless smart phone remote

However, if you use the remote device to trigger the camera, there is a noticeable delay.

The kit lens is sharp and autofocus is very fast. If you're shooting in manual mode, there is virtually no shutter lag.

I tested the camera with both my Leica 50mm Summilux and my Canon FD 200mm f4. Manually focusing them with the viewfinder was easy, especially with focus peaking turned on.

The high ISO quality is amazing. Even ISO 3200 is very usable with low noise. Here's a shot of Dixie Belle in a dim bedroom with the Summilux at f1.4, 1/60s, ISO 3200.


Things I love:

  • Clean high ISO capability
  • Fast autofocus
  • Macro capability
  • Great video
  • Uses my Leica and Canon lenses

Things I like:

  • The wifi apps are cool to play with but need work

Things I hate:
  • No mic plug or headphone out
  • No battery charger
  • No RAW file support from Adobe yet 

There is a crappy Sony mic available that plugs in via the Smart Shoe. I'm hoping there are Smart Shoe to mic plug adapters on the horizon. For interviews I need a way to connect lapel mics or I'm back to recording audio with a separate device and having to re-sync it. Waste of time.

I was really hesitant to sell the M8 because I was worried this camera wouldn't be easy to use with Leica lenses, but it just absolutely blows the M8 away. However, I am still craving the new M. We'll see if I still want it after a month with the NEX or if this little camera will keep me satisfied.

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