Yesterday I had to oppertunity to film this storm as it skirted my area. High winds and Hail were dropped by it over Spartanburg SC. It was a beautiful sight to see.
Roper Mountain Astronomers hosted a Star Party last night. It was an awesome turnout. So many scopes, so many great views. For more information about RMA, go check out www.RMASTRO.com
I am a member of the Roper Mountain Astronomers, we had a meeting last night with a presentation on Galeieo. It was a fantastic gathering of like minded individuals with a passion for Astronomy. After the meeting, they let me into the Daniel Observatory to take some pictures of the huge refractor.
"The principal telescope at the observatory is a 58.4 cm (23.0 in) refracting telescope. the objective lens was made by Alvan Clark and Sons. The telescope, which was finished in 1882, was installed at the Halsted Observatory of Princeton University. The telescope was rebuilt in 1933 by J. W. Fecker Company. The telescope was transferred to the US Naval Observatory in 1964. In 1968, it was offered to the Greenville County School District. The telescope was renovated and an observatory was built through a donation from the Charles E. Daniel Family Foundation. It is the eighth largest refractor telescope in the United States."
It is pretty awesome to look at and seeing some of the older mechanics involved was impressive. Last night it zoned in on Jupiter. The sky was slightly hazy, but some people got to see things they have never seen up close before.
I finally got a good storm to shoot at night, fantastic bits of lightning, it stayed far enough away so I could film it and get pictures of some good bolts.
Lately I have been getting a ton live band work, photos, videography, weddings... its been pretty Busy. This is just a summery of some of my latest work. If you want to see some of the video projects, go on over to Cooke & Evans Cinematography.
So I took a visit up the road to the Roper Mountain Observatory. They house one of the largest refractor telescopes in the country. Its a very old tube, (Late 1800's IIRC) but has been restored and kept up to date.
I was wandering out to walk my dogs and I saw this interesting clouds over the horizon at sunset. Some people tell me that they could be lenticular clouds, and they could be a just recently discovered type of cloud. (Which name I do not know off the top of my head.) Anyways, I thought they were neat. I Tossed my 80-200 on my D810 and snapped this.
So above is my favorite shot of Orion's Nebula that I have snapped. I finally got my SkyWatcher USA All View dialed in and was able to do a 120 Sec Exposure with my D810 with the 80-200 mounted to it. F8 ISO 400
Below is Comet lovejoy, which was a bugger to get centered. But here it is
So on Canon and Nikon I have shot with the Rokinon/Samyang 14mm 2.8 MF Ultra Wide Angle. It was an amazing lens for the price. Friday I received the Samyang 12mm f/2.8 AS NCS Fish-eye. Its amazing. For the price I don't think i have found a lens that was so enjoyable. It is relatively compact in size, has a nano coating, aperture control works.... I really have no complaints. Here are a few of my first shots from this lens. I shot in the Unitarirain Universalist Church of Spartanburg today, the architecture in the sanctuary is amazing. 2.8 is actually pretty sharp all around, all these shots were just quick handhelds, but I am impressed.
And some night shots. Still a little cloudy... but here is something:
As 2014 draws to an end I decided to knock out one last wedding of the year. Next year it will be a bit rough toggling weddings with 18 Hours of school work, but I may be able to work a couple in. Hope everyone had a great 2014, now on to 2015, a time where we are supposed to have flying cars and hoverboards.
So it was a decently clear night, and I decided to down to the lake to see what my Nikon 20mm 1.8 could do on my D810. The results were as expected.
A friend of mine on facebook alerted me that there was a 22° lunar halo outside. So I wandered outside and captured it. I love this time of year with all the neat weather phoenomina in all its glory.
Today I had the pleasure of shooting the first LEGAL same sex marraige to take place here in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It was a beautiful ceremony at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Spartanburg. In total there were 2 weddings today back to back. I will provide images of the second wedding as soon as the final images are approved by the couple. It was such a fantastic day for these couples, I am so happy they can finally enjoy the same freedoms as all other South Carolinians.
My lil electric go cart....
So the 24-70 2.8 I have is "wide enough," but I saved up for the 20mm 1.8 for things such as astrophotography and low light band photography. The lens performs very well on my D810. Focusing is very close and F 1.8 is still pretty sharp. I ran the lens through a few paces and have no real issues with it other than a little bit of rainbowing. (Pictured below) It only occured once out of 3 shots at just the right angle. (Which you can acheive with about any lens) The sunstars are more apparent at F/8 and non existant f/4 and below.
I snapped this one for my dog Eva's 9th birthday
ISO 64 - 1/320 sec - F/8
For landscapes, I did one quick and dirty shot at F/8 and it is very sharp (as are most lenses at F/8)
here is the crop from that image
My conclusion will be complete when I get some night photography done on a clear evening.
Per the request of one of my friends, (Paul you know who you are) here are some shots of the fall colors coming in. These were shot on a hike in Hendersonville NC.
We had a little outing today with my Wife's homeschool group. The host of the get together had horses and a Wolf Hybrid. The wolf dog was beautiful so I wanted to get some shots of it. It was skiddish with all the kids around, but I finally got it to warm up for a photo op.
I have been itching to get outside and get some night shots in.... The clouds showed up to make sure that it was a challenge.
So today I went out to APR Headquarters for their customer appreciation day BBQ, it was a blast. My friend Alan and I both had our 3 year old toddlers with us... this made things a little bit "challenging," but they had a great play area of bouncy slides and castles for the kids to play in. He and I got to enjoy the event in shifts. My old car the MK6 GTI got its K04 v.3.1 software revision for free. Totally worth the 4 hour road trip. Drivability of the car was improved greatly and power delivery is much more suitable for a daily driver. This is why I keep coming back to APR for my tunes on my VW's. Great customer service, awesome events like this and great people. Thanks APR!!!! Here are some of the shots I managed to get when I had time between the retune, trying to eat the awesome BBQ and chasing down my 3 year old when he was changing his mind on what to get into.
So I have my Nikon D810 all dialed in... and it is just fantastic. Super sharp at ridiculous resolutions. Here are some shots I got with my Nikon 24-70 2.8. Here is one of a cow and a massive crop.
Here is the crop of the above image:
And the shot data
All in all, I am very impressed. I won't be doing any more camera body switching for some time, here is the rest of my images I took while I was out today in the back yard.
And the storm that rolled in yesterday:
So some storms rolled in today and I thought I would test out my Iphone 5S's time lapse function. Since I have no tripod for my phone, I had to use my volt as a prop.
So I finally got some good glass finally for the Nikon D810, and its just fantastic. I got the Nikon 24-70 f2.8 ED G AF-S N, and its about the sharpest zoom I have used. I must have been missing out on this one back when I was shooting with my D800E, the 24-85 3.5-4.5 AF-S VR kit lens isnt horrible.... it does have VR... and I managed to capture this with the pop up flash at sunset with it:
But..... the 24-85 just doesnt illuminate enough of the sensor in my opinion. Vignetting happened in most bright shots. So I did a trade for some of my sony glass for some of my friends higher end Nikon Glass. I picked up an 80-200 f2.8D ED AF, its an older lens, but it just works. I had to fine tune the AF a little, but once it got dialed it, it was tack sharp. Here are some shots that I got with the 80-200 on the D810:
Over the years I have owned and reviewed many DSLR's as well as film bodies. I initially shot with film till I could afford my first DSLR which was a Nikon D40x, a fantastic little 10.2 MP entry level DSLR. I wont lie, the camera was better than I was at that time, but it helped me learn about everything I needed to know as a hobbyist. I eventually stepped up to the D90, then the D7000, then up to the D700. I loved the D700, it was the greatest full framer of its time in my opinion. Low light performance was on par with the D3 and it was everything I could wish for. The the D800 & D800E came out in a time when I was shooting a lot of weddings and Model work. I had to have it. So to ebay I went with my D700 and I picked up a D800E. The D800E was fantastic... but just felt sluggish when I wanted to do anything besides landscapes. The files were huge and ate up a ton of hard drive speced, but the quality of images it produced were insane. I shot enough gigs to where it paid for itself, and I loved almost everything about it.
Then I moved to SC.... I wasn't a full time photographer anymore. I didn't own a studio anymore and was working for the post office. I felt like I didn't have time for my photography anymore so I did something crazy and switched over to Canon. I got a great deal on some lenses and bought a 6D. It did everything I wanted to do as a hobbyist, ISO performance was good, (better in the 6400 and up range than anything I have used.) So I was sold for a while. I invested in L glass and put my nose up at anything that didn't have a red ring. I even had an EOS M and a 7D. I sold all this eventually.
Then Sony Announced the A7 and A7R..... So I switched again. I already had a Sony NEX7 that I was playing around with, I loved it, I loved the EVF and the quality of pictures it produced. Colors were always spot on and the lens selection was great with E-Mount. So I Plunged into an A7 and A7R. They were both great cameras, I loved the zeiss FE mount glass but for me it felt like I never could get the AF to cooperate like they do in a Canon or Nikon. So I had all this awesome stuff... but I felt like I just was always missing that sharp shot. Noise handling was about as good as the D800E, but still, I just felt like it was missing something. I then wandered into Spartan Photo and played with a D810.
So I bought it. (Found a great deal on Ebay with the 24-85 3.5-4.5) Testing is very preliminary right now, but it does everything better than my D800E. Everything. Pictures are sharper, AF is quicker, continuous AF works flawlessly, live view is actually usable, and it just works. (Also quieter in operation) So I will officially say that I am done with Camera swapping right now. I have a couple of premium lenses coming in very soon, so I can officially put this through the ringer. Enjoy the results that are to come.
Here is one of my first sample images with the cheap 24-85:
Just some shots of June/July's weather of this year:
picked this up at the gun show here today. For a firearm, it photographs pretty well. And my car got new wheels. This week was nice.
I took my dirty car home to Darlington... it need to be washed so bad. Its pretty damn horrific right now. This is what I get for getting a white 4 Door. Here is another pic from home.
This is nothing short of an amzing lens. I was playing with it last night and its sharp as a tac in about any range you throw at it. At f 1.8 the DOF is razor thin, but subjects are sharp and the bokeh is beutiful. The backgrouds are smoothly rendered and out of focus objects have a creamy appearence. Stopped down to F4 it seems to be at its sharpest, this is no surprise. The features within the A7 are all functional with this lens. The night time magnification in camera manual focus is nothing short of amzing. In the pitch black, I could dial in on a light about 900m away. Distortion is non-existant, I have no fancy tools to show this. But here are some images I snapped with it. Images were straight out of camera, shot in JPEG unfortunetly.
My first thoughts on the Sony A7:
1. I really want some zeiss glass
2. wow my canon glass takes nicely to this
3. who needs zeiss glass? I dont, I have an adapter for my canon glass
4. The ISO performance is about the same as my D800E / Canon 6D in the mid range ISO's. 12800 and above its hard to tell a difference
5. At low ISO's it blows the dynamic range out of the water, color accuracy is better than anything ive owned. At ISO 50, it seems to do better work than my D800E. And laughs in the face of my 6D
6: AF. Its pretty awesome with the 118 or so points with contrast and phase detection. This is why is didnt get the A7R. I didnt need 10 bajillion megapixels, I just wanted a good carry around. This does the job well
7. The kit lens is plasticy, cheap feeling, and friggin fantastic
Conclusion... I wont give ya one yet till I have fully put it though its paces.
Here are a couple of recent pics with the A7 I have shot
So a while ago I spent some time in Charleston and played with a Sony NEX7 to learn the features for the Sony A7 I preordered. I shot most things with my Rokinon 14mm (Canon mount) and I was very impressed with the results from a 2 year old 1.5x sensor. I used a metabones adapter with the Roki and it made some impressive results. Pics are updated in my landscape and achitecture section, Feel free to peruse. I have a new baby on the way, so look for newborn focused photography in June. Pics from the A7 will be up with a review next posting.