I am currently exhibiting several prints in the gallery space at the Transformations Spirituality Center in Nazareth, Michigan. Here are a few highlights of the exhibit (click on the images for a larger file):
Hidey Hole Chipmunk
Forest Floor Still Life
If you are around or near Kalamazoo, stop by and see the images - they will be up till late March, 2014.
We had a little freezing rain last night and this morning everything was decked out in an icy glaze. I first took a few photos around the house, using the Pentax K-3 and DFA 100mm macro. This first one is a bit of holiday cheer, as I put some outdoor Christmas lights in the background (click the images for larger files):
A barberry branch - the bright red berries were gone, but the thorny branches looked nice, glazed with ice:
I’ll probably have a few more shots from the forest to share in the next week or so…
Here are a few new snow crystal images - the first for this season. These were taken with my usual setup with a few changes - the camera has been upgraded from a Pentax K-01 to a Pentax K-3, the lens has been upgraded to a Pentax SMC DFA 50mm f2.8 macro, and the flash has been downgraded from a full service DSLR unit to a simple manual flash with just one power, running through an Olympus Safe Synch adapter to avoid frying the K-3.
We’ve had at least a foot of snow this last week - rather early even for Michigan - so it looks like the season if off to a good start. Click on the images for a larger view:
I made a dumb mistake and accidentally set the shutter speed to 1 second for these next couple of shots (doh!) - fortunately the exposure is almost entirely from the flash, so the effect of motion blur was limited. I did lose quite a few other shots, though. The first of these is 4 images focus stacked, since the crystal was not flat on the glass plate:
I had a little time today and a weather front was moving in, so I popped over to the beach at South Haven to see if the high winds would be making some nice wave splashes on the lighthouse there. Waves were indeed crashing and I got a few good shots. I am still experimenting with Ricoh’s Pentax K-3, and it still impresses me. These shots were taken with the K-3, my old Sigma EX 70-200 f2.8 (the non-DG and non-macro version). Hand held in high winds at ISO 800.
The wind was driving clouds in from the west, but there were a few breaks in the cloud cover. As a result the light was highly variable - sometimes the light was in full sunlight, which made the background appear exceptionally dark, other times there was only gloomy overcast everywhere.
Click on the images for larger files.
Here’s one where the sun broke out - more or less just on the lighthouse:
The waves were coming in from the NNW and they didn’t wrap around the lighthouse as much as the would have if they had be coming more due west. But I managed to get a few shots of the lighthouse wrapped in the mist of a breaking wave. Here’s one:
And while I’m enamored by Ricoh’s Pentax K-3 and the great capabilities it offers - these shots reminded me of an old shot from a decade ago, taken with a Pentax Mz-S (a camera I still use), A* 400mm f2.8 and Kodak E-100S film.
The Signature Artist Cooperative is readying it’s 34th seasonal gallery! The gallery will open it’s doors on December 1st with an artist reception from 12-5 on December 8. This year the gallery is at the same great location as last year - Westwood Plaza at 4502 W. Main Street in Kalamazoo, MI (northeast corner of Drake & West Main). I will only have three pieces in the gallery again this year, but will be hanging around at the reception.
Here is one of the pieces I plan on having in the gallery this year:
My Pentax K3 arrived earlier in the week, so this weekend is my first chance to give it a test drive. All I can say is that the more I use this camera, the more impressed I am. Here are a few shots from this weekend - ordered by how well I like them (favorite first) -click on an image for a larger file. These closeups were all taken with the Pentax K3, A* 200mm f4 macro, tripod mounted. Live view, with focus peaking was used to take most of these shots.
This morning I visited the Allegan Forest, which is crawling with hunters this time of year. In a field that reliably hosts Halloween Pennant and Calico Pennant dragonflies in the early summer, I took a few intimate landscapes. This moss shot is a stacked focused composite of several images.
Yesterday was a very windy day and lots of sprigs of berries, like this, were littering the ground. Not sure where they came from. Unlike the previous shot, this is a single exposure.
Another stack focus shot - a different kind of moss.
Didn’t want to adjust anything here…
Eastern prickly pear is pretty abundant in the forest - you gotta be careful where you drop down to take that bug photo.
Berries on moss. These almost look like grapes…
Another stack focused shot - some random leaves on the ground in November…
And lastly - during Saturday’s windstorm my wife and I went to South Haven in hopes of seeing big waves crashing against the lighthouse. Well - you gotta have high winds and they have to come from the right direction to make those big waves. But here is a snapshot of the lighthouse - again in the mode of test driving the K3 - with a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 EX lens. This is the earliest version of the lens, non-macro and non-DG - but it seems to work OK with the K3:
Pentax K3, Sigma 70-200 f2.8.
I recently received my Pentax K-3 and have been eager to test its high resolution, 24 megapixel sensor. This morning I had a few spare minutes and mounted a Tokina ATX 400mm f5.6 lens onto the K-3, along with an AF360FGZ flash for fill light. Then it was off to the bird feeder to snap some test photos of house sparrows having their breakfast. Here are some of the results, with actual pixel images below the full frame shots (click on the smaller image for a larger view: )
I went into this exercise with several questions in mind. Here is what I learned:
How would the Tokina ATX 400 work on the Pentax K-3? I wondered if this older lens, designed for film cameras, had the resolution and edge sharpness to work well on the K-3s high resolution, 24 megapixel sensor. Judging from the images - detail and sharpness is quite good, IMO. The backlit shot of the bird on the peanut wreath showed a small bit of color fringing, but that was easily corrected in Photoshop.
I should comment that while I have always considered this lens to be very good, it falls short of being truly excellent. Not to bash it - the sample I am using now was purchased used for a few hundred dollars. (My original copy developed a bad case of fungus.) So - I am hopeful that many older lenses from the film era will do just fine on the the K-3. (Good news for those of use with many older lenses from the film era….)
Shake reduction: Seems to have worked exceptionally well. While shutter speeds were in the 1/750 to 1/1000 range, for the equivalent of a 600mm (full frame) lens, the percentage of sharp images in this hand held exercise was quite good.
How would the K-3’s auto focus perform? AF was quite fast and accurate. It even tracked the moving birds pretty well, with minimal hunting. Overall, it was quite an improvement over the K-5 and earlier models that I have used – BUT the cam driven AF was as loud as ever.
How well did the camera handle white balance? The camera was set to AWB mode. The morning sun was still quite reddish when I shot these images. In shots where the flash did not fire the white balance looks very good. When the flash did fire the images have a noticeable greenish cast. This was easily corrected but suggests that the AWB adjustment for the flash is a bit off. (No surprise but the AF360 FGZ was underpowered for fill flash use in this case.)
How did the K-3’s metering perform? The camera was set to the new evaluative metering process, and performed excellently. Many of the birds were splashed with sun with a background that was in shadow, and the K-3’s metering adjusted the exposure to avoid any blown out highlights in the bird. However, some of the birds in the backlit shots were a bit underexposed, though this was easily addressed in post.
And what about image noise? All of these shots were taken at ISO 800. In general, noise is minimal. However, in backlit shots where the exposure was adjusted in ACR, some noise emerges. (See the image of the bird on the green peanut holder above) Probably not as noise-free as the K-5, though a much larger image size.
And lastly – How many files fit on a 32 gig card? I shot 441 images in the 20 minutes or so that I worked on it. Based on how much they filled the card, I would expect to get 760 images on one 32 gig card.
Overall – I’m pretty happy with the results here, given that it was an unplanned test, hand held, with a relatively inexpensive and old lens. When used properly, the K-3 will probably shine even more.
(Since this is tagged as a review I should comment that I am not employed by or paid by Ricoh / Pentax in any manner and bought the camera retail.)