Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Trees by the River, 6/7/22

Naugatuck, Connecticut

There was a large storm system forecast to come in from the west in about eight hours, and there were already strong swirling winds. They fulfilled the folk wisdom that when you see the wind turning the tree leaves inside out, a storm is coming. These were taken from a sidewalk along the elevated Route 8 highway, part of the Naugatuck Valley Walkway.

Tuesday, June 07, 2022

Major Muffler

 Waterbury, Connecticut

Yesterday, for the third time in two years, my eleven year old Chevy HHR made a trip to the muffler shop. First it was a middle section of pipe that had rotted out. Next it was the resonator and adjacent pipe. I figured this time it had to be the muffler, but it was still OK. The connector from the muffler to the pipes had rotted out so the bad section had to be cut out and basically the first repair repeated to avoid having too many joins in the system. Luckily these guys are reasonable and so far have always had same day service if I call at 9:02 in the morning.

The "modern" de-icing chemicals Connecticut has used for decades instead of rock salt are total car killers. Just a few months ago I smelled gas, and found I had to have the whole set of fuel lines replaced. The vehicle the HHR repaced was a 1997 full size Chevy pickup. At about ten years old, both redundent brake lines failed together so it had to be carried in on a wrecker for the expen$ive replacement of the lines. Four years later I hit some rough pavement out in NY state. The back end got very loose and I figured I'd broken the fourteen year old back shocks. Nope, it was the rear third of the chassis that had rotted out and dropped the shocks.

Side note, the truck had an all stainless steel exhaust system. At fourteen years and 247,000 miles the exhaust system was still pristine when the road chemicals killed the truck. The 5 liter engine was still running great and its mpg had only dropped from 21 to 19. Without the attack of the icing chemicals I think I could have gotten another 100K out of it.

As we move to electric and hybrid electric cars, it may be important to see how much stainless steel is used in their construction, at least for folks who don't live in Florida or Southern California.

Sunday, June 05, 2022

Spring Trees, Long View

Woodbury, Connecticut

For years I've loved to photograph the onset of the Spring season. There are wonderful contrasts between the delicate new foliage and flowers against the stark, bare, trunks and branches of the trees that bloom later.

This is one of the rare times that I use longer than normal lenses. It's not so much that the trees are difficult to approach closely, but that the effect I want comes from backing away and using a long lens for a compressed perspective. I have a Lumix 35-100 Varifocal II (this is for Micro 4/3s and so roughly equivalent to 70-200 in traditional 35mm format) which is a stunning performer and produced most of the spring trees pictures I've been posting here. But I've wanted to push the compression effect farther.

I also have an older Lumix 45-200 (~equivalent 90-400), a relatively inexpensive lens that punches far above its weight class with some subjects. However, when I've tried to use it for the spring trees, it doesn't pan out. The whole point of these pictures is the picky detail, and that's where it fails. The tight pattern of detail looks totally "digitized" and shows almost a paisley pattern. I think the problem is that the lens has all sorts of aberrations which are automatically "fixed" in software. This just doesn't work for picky detail.

Some weeks ago, thinking about Spring, it occured to me that my 180mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens, bought in the early 80s, would be an e~360mm f/2.8 used on 4/3s format. A visit to the B&H website showed that I could get an adapter for $35. I'd never gotten adapters for my M-4/3s cameras to use my Leitz and Nikkor lenses before this, because almost all the time I want a normal or shorter focal length. The converted short lenses would be no use to me with their focal length effectively doubled. I'm happy with this small investment. The 180's resolution is right up there with the pro 35-100, and the bokeh beyond the point of focus is smooth. This is one of my test shots with it.