A black bird. We see crows, grackles (not really black) and don’t bother looking at what they’re doing. They’re not easy to photograph well, with the dark feathers demanding great dynamic range to render the bird with detail while the bird stands against lighter backgrounds. I was intrigued by this bird, perched on top of a dead tree, looking about, calling out. I thought it was calling for its partner. Soon enough, another bird flew to its side and in a moment of surprise (for me), their beaks locked. And then the surprise. Needless to say, anything can be a revelation, if you look hard enough. On this warm November day. And every day, if you are willing to look. And learn.
It’s almost November and the leaves are finally getting some color in Northern Virginia. It’s been a relatively dry summer and early fall. As a consequence, the leaves aren’t really colorful – dull red, dull yellow, dull orange, dull brown. Still, you will find the occasional brightly colored leaf or two.
Fall is a beautiful time of year here in Northern Virginia. The weather is relatively mild. A warm spell can appear like a punctuation mark, like a comma in the middle of a sentence. On such a day in late October, the sun was shining and Huntley Meadows beckoned.
The birds are no longer plentiful, though they are certainly still flying around at Huntley. The mallards have returned, but the swallows, egrets, most of the warblers and most of the herons have migrated southward. Just when the thinning leaf cover makes looking for birds easier they migrate away. The leaf covered trails, a clean boardwalk (the geese are in much decreased numbers), the cool but comfortable weather, the canopy of colors make for an irresistible invitation to spend a few hours outdoors
Over the weekend, a very nice lady gave me an old Minolta Rokkor-TC 135mm f4 lens. This lens is over five decades old. It was a sunny day yesterday, so it was a good opportunity to test the lens on a classic subject. It was off to Meadowlark Gardens for a quick lunchtime photo session. The lens was attached to a modern Sony APS-C mirrorless camera. Some pictures.
The lens is lacking in contrast compared to modern lenses; this is most noticeable when there is strong backlighting in the image. Focus peaking works quite well and the ability to magnify the area that I am focusing on is very helpful; unfortunately, I was concerned that the butterfly would fly away before I achieved optimum focus on the subject, so I some of the images are not as sharp as they could have been.
The images were sharpened, contrast added, vibrancy and saturation tweaked, and in the case of the featured image, I deleted “unnecessary” objects from the picture to isolate the flowers and butterflies. I also had to extensively blur the backgrounds on the featured image and on the last image in the set. Still, the lens is quite nice. I am looking forward to using this lens for portraiture – it will probably great for that.
The old lenses are certainly worth trying out. And as the 135mm f4 Rokkor-TC shows, they will be useful tools for decades to come.