Pentax A50 f2.8 macro & K-1

Recently pulled out the old Pentax A50 f2.8 macro for a few shots of autumn leaves in the back yard.

This lens performs wonderfully on the new Pentax K-1. Though not a “true macro” with a reproduction of 1:2, I find the scale adequate and the IQ superb; plus it is such a joy to use.

I can see why vintage Pentax glass was noted for it’s quality, the colors are brilliant and the IQ is sharp for the area of focus. Bokeh is pleasantly pleasing also. This doesn’t seem to change on the new digital sensors either.

In fact, I find their performance is equal to or better than the newer digitally enhanced lenses.


Rodeo Photography

Like most sports, players/contestants rely on knowing the strong points of their teammates and try to decipher the strengths, weaknesses and personalities of their opponents’.
Unlike most sports, rodeo is fascinating in that the teammates and opponents don’t think or act as humans.
The communication between rider and horse during a barrel racing or roping event is incredible.
Understanding their opponents’ traits during the bronc, bull or roping events is critical.
Rodeo contestants are true athletes and deserve far more recognition than they often receive.

Continue reading

What’s the fuss about lens quality reviews

(Recently submitted post to PentaxForums.)

I find it curious how we photographers fret so much over lens quality reviews or lens superiority AND I do understand the difference between precision engineered glass and a soda bottle.

It’s easy to blur/fade an image made from a lens transmitting great IQ but impossible to add detail from an optic that never saw it in the first place.

I was using PF long before I became a member (I know, my bad) because of the wonderful amount of knowledge shared here by fellow Pentaxians. The lens database is incredible, especially the coverage of vintage and third party lenses.

My ex girlfriend shoots Canon and doing a fair amount of research there, it seems nearly impossible to find any reviews on anything other than the “latest & greatest” (and never so much information in one place.) I sense PF members seem more concerned with sharing creative process than promoting Market Hype.

I curb myself as much as possible from LBA but do like to keep informed on lens performance (vintage and modern), especially the diversified hands on experience I find here. Reading a recent post on Lenses and the K-1, I was very pleased with a response by Noel Porter. “One of the key things with any lens is understanding it’s characteristics and using it’s strengths or avoiding it’s weak areas (soft corners wide open etc).” (Read more at:

I’ve always viewed lenses as paint brushes. An artist may use two different brushes of the same size or shape to achieve different desired effects.

My main workhorse lens is a Sigma 24-60/2.8, it provides consistently good IQ. It will never provide the color and smoothness of my M50/1.7, the sharpness of my A50/2.8 macro or dirty/gritty film feel of my Vivitar 35/2.8. The Sigma 70-200/2.8 DG OS USM is in no way superior to my old F300/4.5 for IQ, but is the “go-to” lens during low light, nighttime sports events (and yet it never finds itself in the vest pocket like the tak-f 70-200 on a day hike.) They each are what they are.

Still, one of my favorite techniques is – NO LENS PHOTOGRAPHY (IQ be damned) – images below.

Zone Plate on K3

Black Locust Blooms, backyard photography, garden photography, plant photography, fine art, zone plate

Writing with light – The brush doesn’t make the painting, the painting dictates the brush.

I’m consistently impressed while reading an inquiry here on the forums, how often a responding member will ask for more information on someones shooting style, subject matter, etc. before giving a recommendation. Sometimes it’s the newest technology when appropriate but often members encourage us to explore the strong characteristics of what we might already have or can easily obtain.

I look forward to reading more “fretting” over lenses, you folks make it an enjoyable treat and me happy to be a member of PF.

Another Zone Plate

Laws - California - locomotive - slim princess - railroads - museums - zone plate - black&white - monochrome - Bishop

National Automobile Museum – Reno

Every time I visit, I feel one of the most overlooked attractions, in Reno Nevada is the National Automobile Museum.

This place is amazing. It contains vintage automobiles in pristine and restored condition from the Harrah’s collection.

Era’s start with the early horseless carriages and vehicles built for commercial and race uses to the mid 1960’s. The history behind many of these vehicle is fascinating in itself but the architecture and art in their designs is beautiful.

Reno - Nevada - reno auto museum - national automobile museum - auto - museums - strobe photography - fine art photography - Pentax K1 Reno - Nevada - reno auto museum - national automobile museum - auto - museums - strobe photography - fine art photography - Pentax K1 Reno - Nevada - reno auto museum - national automobile museum - auto - museums - strobe photography - fine art photography - Pentax K1

Highly recommend this place for a visit. Entrance is in and out for the day and seldom more than a half dozen visitors at a time. Allows plenty of time to read, view and photograph this impressive collection.

Reno - Nevada - reno auto museum - national automobile museum - auto - museums - strobe photography - fine art photography - monochrome photography - monochrome - Pentax K1 Reno - Nevada - reno auto museum - national automobile museum - auto - museums - strobe photography - fine art photography - monochrome photography - monochrome - Pentax K1 Reno - Nevada - reno auto museum - national automobile museum - auto - museums - strobe photography - fine art photography - monochrome photography - monochrome - Pentax K1

Not much to write about this month, Just enjoying the Pentax K-1

Spending time this month reading about lenses and the Pentax K-1.

I find Pentax Forums a very nice resource for all sorts of material, lenses, cameras, flash, techniques – and not necessarily related to solely Pentax.
Easy to research articles and always someone willing to give a helpful reply.
Shots taken this month with the Pentax K-1 and various lenses or optics.

Pentax K1 testing Old Glass

Received the new Pentax K1 and decided to run a few test with the older vintage lenses I still have.

Nothing special with the images and minimal post processing, just to show the clarity. Have been pleasantly surprised with the results. I’ll list the lens below each shot posted for reference.

Kiron 28-105 2.8 (respectively), some vignetting at 28 and a little purple fringing. Still very sharp for its age. Shot at f8.

Tokina 70-210 4.5-5.6 (respectively), Slight purple fringing at 210, sharper than my current Sigma 70-200 2.8 APO DG. Shot at f8

Tamron SP90 Macro 1:1, very sharp. Shot at f8

yale lockset macro

Tokina 70-210 4.5-5.6 @210 with +10 Diopter, shot at f8. Some purple fringing with no hood but pleasantly surprised.

inyo register macro


Why I appreciate a wide angle macro lens for regular close up photography.

Over the years I’ve found I enjoy close up photography more than any other type.

While not being true macro of 1:1 or 1:2 life size, I really like the feel and intimate perspective of being close to my subject.
With the advent of APS sized sensors in the Pentax line (which I shoot and am a proud Pentaxian), I find the crop factor to bring more of a telephoto angle of view than I really like.
I have eliminated most of my film era telephotos and focused on gaining lenses that will bring the wide angle perspective back to my view finder.
Miners Lamp, Miner's Shack, Macro Photography, Close Up Photography, Laws RailRoad Museum, Carson & Colorado RR, Pentax K3, Sigma 18-50 2.8 Macro Continue reading

ND Filter Color Cast Test

Lately I’ve been examining the color cast created by the ND filters I own.
I have a beautiful Singh-Ray soft grad 0.9 that was given to me as a gift years ago and a set of Formatt Hitech 0.6, 0.9 and 1.2 which I use primarily for strobe work.
Granted the Formatt’s are resin CR-39 instead of glass but they permit me to open my aperture for shallow DOF with the slow flash sync speed of the Pentax.
I have notice a small amount of magenta color cast while using them as such but never found it to be too overwhelming to clean out in post.

Nevada - Montgomery Pass - Boundry Peak Motel - Boundry Peak - abandoned - abandoned motel - monochrome - historic locations - Formatt Hitech ND Filter - ND Filter Review - nd filter color castFormatt ND0.9 with Yongnuo IV Speedlight

On a shoot a couple of months back I tried to stack the Formatts to achieve a 7 stop ND effect.
Wow, was the color cast dense. So heavy I couldn’t pinpoint a spot with either LR or PS Raw to achieve a natural WB.
Looking on the web for ND color cast I came across a review for the Ice ND1000 by a fellow Pentaxian which showed minimal casting between the image shot and corrected.
When B&H listed the P series of $49.95, I decided to give it a try. If I didn’t like it I wouldn’t be out that much.
While I haven’t used it much, I’ve been pleased with the results so far. It is made of optical glass and feels much like my Singh-Ray in build quality, one to take care of for long life

California - Bishop - Sculpture - White Mountain - historic locations - Ice ND Filter - Ice ND1000 - ND Filter - ND Filter Review - nd filter color castIce ND1000 + 1.3 stop circular polarizer

California - Bishop - Horned Lizard - Horned Toad - animals on the decline - circular polarizer - ND Filter ReviewSpectator during the shoot 1.3 stop circular polarizer

Decided to try an experiment to see how my filters compared to each other for cast by brand.
I kept as many constants as possible: tripod, f8.0, ISO 100, 50mm focal length and WB set in camera to 5500k.
In LR the as shot WB showed as 5300 temp and -16 tint (slightly to the green) on all photos.
I chose the exact same point (mid grey rock) in each photo to achieve the WB correction and will list the difference with each photo. Continue reading

Death Valley by Zone Plates

Last month I was fortunate enough to get out of the snow and head to Death Valley for a well enjoyed photography trip.

For the past couple of years I have really been enjoying working with zone plates and decided to try my luck in the desert landscape.
Zone plates are very similar to pinhole photography in there is no lens and the resulting photo is from light diffraction rather than refraction through a glass element.
Zone plates however use a pattern of opaque and solid concentric circles resulting in a softer (less sharp) image caused by a larger amount of undiffracted light to reach the image plane. They are often reduced in contrast and produce a distinct glow or halo in the highlights.
California - Death Valley - National Parks - Panamint - historic locations - valley - zone plate photography Continue reading

Retouching Vintage Photographs

Vintage photographs for Find A Grave

Often when I’m researching historic cemeteries to photograph I turn to a website named “”
Recently, out of curiosity I decided to look up the graves of my grandparents on this site to see if and how they were listed.
Thankfully, someone had recorded a memorial within the site and a photographer had added pictures of the gravestones.
To my surprise there were no links from one family member to another, parents, spouse, siblings.
The natural progression for me was to then add these family connections then locate and upload a photograph of each individual.Colorado - mary margaret cunning - Trinidad - vintage photograph - historic cemeteries - retouching - post processing- monochrome - Continue reading

Zone Plate Photography on US Route 6

One of the cool things about where I live is the distinction of the western terminus of Historic US Route 6.

The route starts in Provincetown MA and follows a cross country track to become the second longest highway in the United States.
Originally the western terminus was in Long Beach CA and in 1937 it was the longest highway in America with a total of 3652 miles.

California - ranch - tatum ranch - barn - horse - monochrome - historic highways - us route 6 - zone plate photography- Bishop Continue reading

Bull Riding and Rodeo Photography

I’ve realized it has been over 15 years since I’ve worked on any form of motion/action photography.

With either night skies & light painting or my primary focus of historic artifacts and locations,
most of my subject matter has been very still. Depth of Field and composition had become my central focus and half my work involved tripod use for longer exposures.
This year I’ve been feeling the need to bring my photography back to me, inspire my feelings of creativity and learning.
I’ve gone back to many of the older techniques I learned in my film days, selective focus, soft focus, black & white (which has always been my preferred taste),
pinholes and zone-plates; I’ve even been trying to refine my use of strobes.
It has been difficult to find motion inspirational. I enjoy wind and water working a landscape but receive much more pleasure from simply watching.
The same applies to wildlife. And though I do enjoy partaking in certain sports, I find spectating is usually quite boring.
Reflecting back on my childhood, the two sports I always enjoyed watching were baseball and rodeo.
Besides requiring incredible athletic ability and endurance, I find rodeo fascinating because of the teamwork.
Especially when your partner, as well as the opponent, doesn’t reason with the human mentality.
Being able to communicate with your horse to make the tight turn of a barrel or cut a steer for roping takes talent.
Riding the bulls is one of the finest shows of endurance, agility and reading your opponent.

So off to the Desert Empire Fair for the bull riding and rodeo photography. Continue reading