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85mm F2.8 Lens

On a warm sunny April day, I had a chance to venture out for a brief experiment with lighting and bokeh. I used an 85mm lens, opened to its maximum aperture of F2.8. Although wider apertures, such as F1.8 and F1.4, are available for the 85mm lens,the F2.8 lens represents a significant savings. The typical cost of the F2.8 lens is less than $300. This is quite a savings compared to the $500 to over $2000 price tag for the same focal length lens of F1.4 or F1.2.

Although a bit slower, F2.8 still falls within the fast lens range, and shooting in daylight, this lens works great. On a cropped sensor (APC-S) camera, the 35mm equivalent would equal to approximately 127mm, producing a nice bokeh effect as seen in the image below of a wood post supporting a fence ringing Fort Ward Park, in Alexandria, VA. At F2.8, the depth of field is quite narrow, as evident from the sharpness of the fence post, with out of focus areas in the background and foreground.

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Signs of Spring

This past Friday was unseasonable warm for this time of year in the Washington DC area, so I took advantage of the opportunity to go out and do some shooting in the neighborhood. For these captures, I used a Panasonic GF-3 ILC camera with a Leica 45mm F2.8 macro lens.

Here is a photo of the fruits of the maple tree. The immature fruits are still attached to the branches. Their reproductive structures have completed their purpose in life, and are seen desiccated, hanging to the tops of the petiole. The winged fruits are beginning to ripen and will soon mature, as which point they will be blown off the stems of the tree to sail away to begin a new journey of their own.

Maples are endemic to Asia, Europe, and the United States. Although the genus, Acer, to which the maples belong, consists also of shrubs, we are most familiar with the tree form. Most maples are deciduous, loosing all leaves during their winter hibernation. Flowers appear during late winter and early spring. In the above example, the flowers have appeared before the leaves. The winged fruits will have begun to drop with the first appearance of leaves. As the fruits mature, they will turn from the above pink color to a light green, then to a deep green at maturity.

Here is an image of forsythia. Their bright yellow petals are clearly visible, as they imbue the bush with a golden glow. The common name, forsythia, is the same as its genus name, Forsythia. These shrubs are native to Asia, though many can now be found throughout the world as ornamental plants in gardens, yards, and along city streets.

Forsythias are deciduous shrubs, which flowers in early spring before the onset of leaves. The flowers are generally yellow, with four petals, joined at the base. After pollination and fertilization, the mature fruit is a dry capsule containing a number of winged seeds.

Highbush Blueberry flower bud

Last Thursday (3/8) with temperatures hovering around the low 70’s here in the Washington, DC area, I noticed a bunch of highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) bushes beginning to awaken from their winter slumber. The highbush blueberry is a native of eastern North America, growing to about four feet tall. The one pictured is about two feet tall.

In this sample, the flowers buds are turning a bright pink, as they swell and absorb water. Their winter condition is more of a dull greenish-crimson color. As the weather warms and the availability of water increases, the buds should begin to open in the next few weeks.

Stay tuned to future postings as I chronicle the  progression of the highbush blueberry from flower bud to fruit.

The image was captured with a Panasonic GF3, using a Leica 45mm F2.8 macro lens.

f/9 @ 1/30 sec ISO 160

Autumn in the City

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Now that we are transitioning into the new year, I thought I’d recap some of the autumnal scenery in and around the Washington DC and Northern VA areas. It’s been a colorful and, at times, rainy autumnal season. There were many opportunities to photograph the fall foliage, in all their colorful splendor.

Approaching Storm

Picture taken in Alexandria, VA along the Potomac River, as a storm approaches from Washington, DC

Samsung SCH-I500

1/870 sec @ f/2.6   ISO: 50

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