17 – cars

So for Matty’s belated birthday present, I took him to the Petersen Automotive Museum – without the other members of the family who don’t have the same appreciation for cars. This worked out best for everyone since Matty and I were allowed to roam freely through the cars and Shannon and Sara don’t have to roll their eyes or wait for us.

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Anyway, we really enjoyed it. There was a strange variety of cars though – lots of older European cars mixed with Hollywood cars and very specific race cars. There was also a whole section of a strange hodgepodge of custom cars. I mean, they put Ken Block’s Gymkhana 3 Ford Fiesta in the same room as the Billy Gibbons Cadzilla…so it must have made sense to someone.

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I only had my DA 50/1.8 during this trip, so pictures are quite tight and intimate. I wish things were just a tad wider…like maybe 15 or so mm…My 16-50 was packed in a box and will be on its way to its new owner in Hyderabad, India, tomorrow morning, so I didn’t bring it.

I think having such a tight composition was good practice. I was able to focus on very specific details of the cars – otherwise, I would have just taken wide pictures of the entire car.

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The downside is that a lot of the cars were custom coachworks, so they were nice but very tailored for their previous owners. As such, they are obviously bound to be lavish and dripping of bling (or whatever was contemporary at the time).

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I think having just one lens was great discipline and forced me to compose. I have a lens inbound (SMC Pentax-F 35-70/3.5-4.5) to replace the 16-50, but to be honest, it was refreshing to have just one camera, one lens.

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For example, the picture of the rear tail lights and exhaust of the McLaren F1 conveys a lot about the car, even if it’s just a very small part of it.

Anyway, it’s always eye-opening to come from Irvine and drive around and walk around parts of Los Angeles and realize that I live in a VERY PRIVILEGED area…

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16 – quasi-macro

So now that I have interchangeable lenses again, the macro bug is once again biting…

I’d really like the Pentax DA 35/2.8 macro Limited lens, however, I can’t really justify it without making some funds first…so I have to make do with a Raynox DCR-250 fitted to the Pentax DA 50/1.8.

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This combo gets me close, but not as close as I’d like.

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Also, it’s a bit of a hassle to have to attach the DCR-250 achromat to the front of the 50/1.8…plus, DoF is *really* narrow, even when stopping down.

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The Raynox Achromat was pretty cheap, and when I do eventually get the DA 35/2.8 macro Limited, I can attach it to the front to get >1:1 macro.

I had also considered selling the 16-50/2.8 to fund the macro lens…but to be honest, it’s a really good lens and the SDM really isn’t broken. Sure, it squeaks a bit, but so far so good.

Besides, I will probably find some great use for the 16mm FoV.

 

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15 – catharsis again

After our vacation, it dawned on me that I really really really missed the flexibility of interchangeable lenses – specifically, a pedestrian zoom for snapshots, a “fast fifty”, and a macro lens…

So – I traded my X100s kit for a Pentax K3 kit with the 16-50/2.8 zoom and a 50/1.8 lens. It also came with a third-party grip, but I don’t plan on ever using this. The guy I got it from is a professional photographer.

I don’t know who got the better end of the deal…the K3 itself is awesome, but learning the Pentax way of doing things is considerably different when compared with Olympus, Fuji, and even Sony. Pentax does have the Tav mode, which is effectively manual mode with auto ISO. I remember having this mode when I had a Ricoh GRD-3 – and Tav is pretty nice because in the same mode, I can opt for DOF control or motion control or both…and the camera will adjust the ISO for me. It’s also nice that the K3 has a “green button” which resets any adjustments to an optimal setting at base ISO 100.

However, the 16-50 is a mixed bag. It’s BIG and HEAVY…and I’m really not infatuated with a pedestrian zoom. It is a constant aperture (f/2.8), which explains the size and weight, however, it has the plagued SDM focusing mechanism, which is ‘quiet’ (which is relative), but is known to fail. My copy of the 16-50 is quiet but does squeak when focusing. Squeaking is apparently a first sign of impending SDM failure, and unfortunately, I can’t hack the lens to use the more effective but noisier screwdrive mechanism because the K3 body is too new…

The nifty-fifty is nice. Non-SDM Pentax AF lenses use screwdrive, which uses an in-body motor for autofocus. It’s purely mechanical and noisy, when compared to all of the other cameras I’ve used. However, it’s accurate and allows for backward AF compatibility with lenses that were made in the 1980’s. From a focal length perspective, it’s a bit long (EFL at 75mm), but then my ZD 35/3.5 macro had an EFL of 70mm and I LOVED that lens.

Anyway, some pictures from the weekend. Some of these are SOOC, some are edited from RAW in Lightroom, and some are SOOC jpeg, transferred to my phone via FlashAir card, then edited with Snapseed.

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I’m still learning the intricacies of the sensor and the noise capability of high ISO. The picture of our bird on the legos is pretty crappy – but I used Snapseed from low quality jpeg. I can probably use the RAW file and make it cleaner…but whatevs.

Matty and I found a pretty awesome handball court with three walls, so we’ve made up our own handball game which uses all three walls.

ANYWAY, if I change the 16-50 to screwdrive, I can’t sell it for very much, unless I sell it on the Pentax forum, where the die-hard users know its value.

I was planning on trading it as-is on Adorama for the Pentax 35/2.8 macro and the smaller 18-55/3.5-5.6 II lens. This would balance out my kit, but I’d lose whatever magical fairy dust the 16-50 is supposed to have. I would also probably on the losing end since the 16-50 is likely optically waaaaay better than the 18-55, but since I plan on sticking to primes most of the time, then it would really only matter when I use the kit lens.

I really want the 35/2.8 macro since it would be closer to 52mm EFL, which would be an easier lens to use on a day-to-day basis.

I’m not much of a zoom guy…

choices, choices. It’s good to be back in the interchangeable lens game…but unfortunately, this means that I’m scouring boards for deals for lenses that I really don’t need…especially since the 16-50/2.8 is like a bag-o-primes.

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14 – vacation

It was time again for our annual family vacation, which was split between glamping in Santa Paula, hanging out at home, and Sea World in San Diego.

For our glamping trip, we stayed at a cabin at a campsite at the edge of Santa Paula, where we had to fight with charcoal briquettes, loud amplified mariachi music, a filming of a commercial at the cabin next door…but otherwise, the kids seemed to enjoy themselves and we got an afternoon of swimming, a hike, and plenty of smores over the grill. Here’s our cabin, which came complete with air conditioning and a pretty big bathroom.

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Our cabin had plenty of visitors which we didn’t mind:

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Yep. Wild peacocks. Fearless and loud in the mornings.

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Mornings were quite nice and peaceful, but mostly because Shannon didn’t have to cook anything and we didn’t need to spend hours to start the fire.

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We got pretty frustrated with the charcoal. Our backup ‘logs’ were also equally useless, so we had to buy a bottle of charcoal starter, which probably helped a little. Anyway, here is Sara playing with some dirt on the picnic table – on the other side of the table was probably our little grill not lighting on fire.

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The campsite also had activities for kids – the kids were mostly interested in the giant pillow, which was basically a bounce house without walls.

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The big kid didn’t mind either.

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The hike was short and there really wasn’t much to see.

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After a few days, were were soooo done with glamping, and we needed to rush home to pick up our newest family member.

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It’s our new conure, Beanie. When Munki (also a conure) died earlier this year, her passing left a pretty big gap. Munki lived to be about fifteen years old…and Beanie is currently just a little over two months old…and we have many years of lessons-learned. For one, Beanie is male, so we don’t have to worry about eggs. Also, Beanie is being handled by all of us. Beanie also likes to eat EVERYTHING. For her entire life, Munki only ate pellets and the occasional green vegetable. Beanie…has eaten just about everything we’ve eaten (with caveats, of course).

After a day of spending time with Beanie, we then spent the day baking in the sun at Sea World in San Diego…thanks to free tickets (my reward for being a former Army Reservist) and Shannon’s craving for a turkey leg. Here we are baking in the sun and eating turkey.

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And here we are waiting for dolphins.

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And finally, the dolphins arrive! We have a trainer and the youngest dolphin in front of us.

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Anyway, that’s about it. A week of PTO has passed and next week, it’s back to work again. This weekend will be like any other weekend, where we’ll attack the parks close to the house…and I’ll constantly be on the lookout for the perfect candid shots of the kids.

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13 – guy trip #3

This year, we couldn’t get all of us to go on the trip, so sans-Greg, we had some flexibility with scheduling and decided to combine our annual Morro Bay race with our guy¬†trip.

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The Morro Bay race is a 6-mile “fun run” on the beach¬†which goes from the Morro rock to the Cayucos Pier and it is commemorated to a good friend’s father, so the race has special meaning to all of us. This year, there were several event photographers covering the event, and lo and behold, free downloads of pictures (hint, hint, Orange County marathon/half-marathon folks). Here’s a picture of me, probably inbetween some Amsterdam trap and Jamiroquai on my playlist:

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This year, I placed first in my division (35-39) and 25th overall! Not bad!

After the Morro Bay weekend, we drove over to Lake Nacimiento and basically hung out in our cabin the entire time. We ate. We drank. We played cards. We BS’ed. We looked at the sky.

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The sky overhead was amazingly dark. During the first night, the Milky Way was amazing, but unfortunately, none of us were sober enough to handle cameras or a tripod safely, so we just stared in awe and were probably pretty loud and annoying at 1:00 AM.

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The second night, I took it easy with the drinks and managed to capture an Iridium flare:

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…and thanks to Iain’s expertise with the sky, I caught my first glimpse of the Andromeda galaxy:

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Can’t see it? Here it is, zoomed in:

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I definitely saw space from a new perspective during the trip, and I can’t blame it all on the scotch or beers!

Anyway, after a very tiring but enjoyable weekend, I came back home…and I felt like I was gone for such a long time. The older I get, the more I realize how my time on earth is so finite and I need to make the most of it…

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