I was in Colonial Photo and Hobby and saw a Rokinon micro four thirds 7.5mm f/3.5 manual focus fish-eye lens on the shelf. I’ve never had a fish-eye lens before although I’ve always liked wide-angle. I couldn’t resist and ended up taking it home.
Fish-eye lenses are not rectilinear – meaning they sacrifice keeping perspective lines straight to make the field of view big. This one has a full 180° field of view and covers the sensor without any vignetting. 180° is really, really wide – keep your fingers and toes out of the composition! They also tend to have a huge depth of field, which is even greater on a micro four thirds camera than on a full frame 35mm equivalent.
I tried it first on my infrared modified camera – I call these IRFE (infrared, fish eye) photos. In this one, I wanted to take advantage of the distortion introduced by the lens to make the support structure for the bridge look more interesting. So I put the beams as close to the edges of the frame as I could get them.
Suspension bridge: Carl Langford Park, Orlando
In this next one, I saw the tree branch above and wanted to try to capture the complexity against the sky. I’ve found it hard to make photos like this with a regular wide-angle lens. I end up not having a wide enough view and then taking multiple photos and trying to stitch them together as a panorama. Stitching software just doesn’t hold up too well when the angle of view is too large.
Tree branches: Dickson Azalea Park, Orlando
Of course, you can use a fish-eye lens in a more normal way. If you keep things that you want to appear straight toward the center of the frame, the image will look a lot more like a regular wide-angle photo.
Curve ahead: Behind Lake Lily Park, Maitland.
I’m really happy with the lens. It seems sharp, doesn’t vignette and the manual focus aspects aren’t a big bother because of depth of field. It seems to handle flare pretty well and I’m not noticing any pronounced chromatic aberrations or other problems. On my camera, it exposes correctly in aperture priority mode, even though there’s no electronic coupling. And… it’s fun! Isn’t photography supposed to be fun?
You can click on the images above to get to larger versions on Flickr. You can also see some of my other infrared photos here on Flickr.
First, I want to wish all readers of this humble photo blog a very
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Second, this year your devoted author has decided to join the growing tradition where photo blogs post a collection of their favorite photos from the year.
To accomplish this, I’ve gone through the photos I made in 2009 and used Lightroom to rate them from 0 through 5 stars. The rating system I’ve adopted is as follows:
1 star – The photo is interesting
2 stars – The photo is worth showing to others
3 stars – The photo is the best of (or one of the best of ) a given shoot
4 stars – My favorite photo of a year
5 stars – My favorite photo (ever)
Photos without stars are seconds or not so good versions of other photos. I’ll keep them, but they probably won’t get any more attention. Since adopting this rating system, I’ve tried to use it consistently. Before this I would rate images, but the meaning of the ratings would vary. As far as what they mean now, it’s all subjective and my opinion only. Feel free to disagree, but I hope you’ll enjoy looking at the ones I’ve chosen.
I was really blessed in 2009 with a huge number of photo opportunities. On my hard drive in my 2009 folder, I have about 16,000 images, taking up 164GB of space (I shoot mostly in RAW). Of these:
3804 of the images have been cataloged in Lightroom. Many of the remainder are source images for multi-shot panoramas or HDRs, or high rate bursts that I selected from.
1084 are rated 1 star or higher
692 are 2 star or higher
75 are 3 star or higher
1 is 4 star, and
None are 5 star (I’m not done taking photos yet!)
Of the 692 that are 2 star or higher, I’ve selected 44 (mostly 3 star) images to include in a gallery of my favorite 2009 photos. You’ve seen many of these photos in this blog, already. But where it made sense, I re-processed them to try and improve them. Here are the top ten. You can click on each of these to go to Flickr, where you can see a larger version.
My #10 favorite photo is: Great Blue Heron in flight. This heron didn’t like me aiming my camera at it. It’s making a lot of noise as it leaves the area. I was able to pan with its motion to get a sharp shot.
My #9 favorite photo is: Ketchikan harbor. The trawler Isis, a house in the background, and the parked float plane are very representative of Alaska.
My #7 favorite photo is: Glacier Bay Sunrise, A dawn panorama heading in to Glacier Bay National Park.
My #6 favorite photo is: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck in flight. We saw this unusual and photogenic duck at Orlando Wetlands Park.
My #5 favorite photo is: Lake Lily Park tree and bird at dawn. Sometimes you go out specifically to photograph. Other times you go out just carrying your camera. It’s exciting to me when I find a photo like this one while I’m just out carrying my camera. The light on this Cyprus tree caught my eye as we walked around the Lily Lake one Saturday morning looking at their flea market. The bird in the middle distance was a bonus.
My #4 favorite photo is: Black Point Wildlife Drive: Wide angle, winter dawn. On this particular morning, it was hard coming up with any good photo inspiration for the sunrise. There were no clouds, not much color in the sky, not a lot of interesting landscape detail, no cooperating wildlife, the wind was blowing pretty hard, etc. This palm tree had an interesting vine growing in it that was pointing back toward the road, so I made it the subject of the picture and violated all the composition rules by putting it way off too one side. To me, the road leading past the tree could represent the last part of the long journey of exploration and learning that led to being able to make this photo in this place at this time. The road is empty because each person’s journey is unique. Oh, and BPWD just happens to be a one way road – toward the photographer. The somewhat surreal colors come from a program called “Photomatix” that will “tone map” multiple, bracketed exposures. Anyway, I liked it too.
My #3 favorite photo is: Gorilla watching people, Pangani Forest Exploration Trail, Disney’s Wild Kingdom.
My #2 favorite photo is: Breaching humpback, off shore from Juneau, Alaska. In the full res version, the two white dots in tree to the upper left behind the whale are bald eagles.
And … my #1 favorite photo of the year is: Ship, water, glacier, rock. A multiple shot panorama showing Johns Hopkins Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park from the cruise ship MS Westerdam. The full res version of this photo is 7747 x 4716 pixels = 36.5 megapixels.
I’ve posted a gallery of all 44 images on my website at www.edrosack.com/BO09. I’ve also uploaded them to this Flickr set, and you can click this link to watch a slide show at Flickr. When you watch the show, you might want to click the “show info” link.