Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Playing with cameras...

Okay, now for something different: a mini-post with absolutely NO updates on the house, landscaping, or water management issues. No photos of workshop projects. This one is only going to be about some images we recorded last night just before sundown.

It all started while we were sitting on the patio (discussing the logistics of knee replacements, and my anxiety about needing them, of all things) and we were watching as this "cute" little thunderstorm start developing right before our eyes. It was pretty cool to watch the whole thing. So we started taking photos of it:



It was only maybe a mile or two away, moving to the right (Southwest) and we could watch the processes of all of those thunderstorm/cumulous things going on right in front of us. Ringside seats. Or maybe 'front row, balcony' would be more accurate. So even though we knew the light was quickly failing, we picked up a couple cameras and snapped some images. The light was quickly going, and the clouds were quickly blocking what was left, so we did not have time to get a lot. But we got a few.

Right after taking that first one we noticed that the sun was beginning to touch the top of the thunderstorm and La Gringa walked to the other side of the house and yelled at me "You need to come look at this sunset!" So I did....and it was shaping up pretty well:




So we relocated from the patio to the deck. We had sunset effects in both directions. The light started painting the top of the thunderstorm:



and of course it continued to grow and blend in with a suddenly developing line of similar small storms.

Our heads were swivelling back and forth, between the sunset on one side of the house:



And this little painted thunderstorm on the other:



As the sun sank behind the horizon the rays started touching the clouds in every direction...



and it started raining a little. Well, it was raining a lot just a half a mile away on the ocean, but it got too dark in that direction to get good photos. We started getting lightning and thunder to the south along the squall front.

The dog, of course, was going through all his phases of canine anxiety attack. First he dashes under a table, or chair, or just generally underfoot, and tries to hide. Second phase is when he starts shivering uncontrollably. This is usually around the third thunderclap. Final stage is when his tongue hangs out and he starts panting and drooling. That's when we know he is in full-bore anxiety and useless as a dog or much of anything else for that matter. Just becomes a spineless blob of slavering, quivering, pitiful protoplasm.

Trying to see if we could record everything going on above us, La Gringa took a little video. There is a lightning flash right at the end of it:


video




Sometimes just living here feels like being in the middle of a surround sound Imax movie.

And No, I was most certainly not picking my nose!! I was wiping rain off my face...

Since the dog was going through a mental collapse over being exposed there on the deck, and it was starting to rain, we moved to the sheltered area in front of the house and managed to get a few more photos. This one looked okay:





But I think I prefer the same view with the flash enabled:




We get a lot of comments and emails about this blog. Several a day, usually. We post the comments as they come in, and the emails we usually just reply to directly. A lot of the comments are from people who really seem to like the photographs. We are not professional photographers, just a couple amateurs who like to take photos and are lucky enough to live in a very photogenic place. We have several cameras, and just returned my favorite one to service after finally locating some batteries for it. After we posted some photos taken with it this week "LiteracyLady" asked a question about the cameras:

"The camera-comparison shots are really interesting! What kind of cameras are the two cameras? Specs, I mean, I think you said the new one is a waterproof Olympus.
Julie "

Yep, last summer the underwater housing I was using with a small Sony Cybershot P-93 (obsolete now) broke, and I bought an Olympus Stylus 770SW. I bought it because it was advertised as shockproof and waterproof to 30 ft. The specs for that one are at: http://www.digicamreview.com/olympus_mju_770sw_stylus_review.htm

Of course it got great reviews. That's why I bought it. Now I have had it for almost ten months, and I would not buy another one. It completely failed on me due to moisture getting into it while we were snorkelling. Olympus was not much help, and I managed to save it by baking it with all the little waterproof doors open. (170 degrees F, one hour, close the doors, let cool, and then repeat) Resurrected it.

It doesn't do well with low light or fast subjects, which is understandable with the small lens. It definitely IS rugged. I drop it into my front pocket every time I leave the house. While it is still a good choice for the boat and beach, I would be nervous about taking it underwater again. I still need an underwater camera.

I also do not much like the Olympus software with it. The menu structure is complicated, awkward, and not intuitive. But my biggest complaint is that it seems incapable of taking a decent telephoto shot. Maybe its because it does not have a manual focus mode and never seems to handle the concept of 'infinity'. The lack of a viewfinder is also an aggravation. In bright sunlight, it's not so much a 'point-and-shoot" camera as it is a 'point-and-pray'.

Now my favorite digital camera is my old Sony DSC F707. It was discontinued around 03 I think. But the specs for it are at: http://www.steves-digicams.com/2001_reviews/f707.html

Its big, clunky, slow, with limited memory. But I like the camera a lot, and wish Sony had continued with that line. It uses an InfoLithium battery,and the original one quit taking a charge about three years ago. I bought two replacements online from a company that guaranteed compatibility. I was very disappointed to find out that they lied. They also don't answer emails from irate customers who want their money back or a battery that works. Another Chinese product, by the way.

So on this last trip to Colorado I had two new Sony batteries sent to where I was staying, and so far the camera is (touch wood) working as well as it did when I bought it seven years ago.In general, I have had bad luck with Olympus and Kodak cameras. Conversely I have nothing but good things to say about Sony products. I have also had great luck with Canon and Nikon products.

La Gringa took the Olympus, and I my old Sony, and we stood side by side and snapped the same photo at the same time. The Olympus image is the first one, and the Sony the second:




I don't know if you can see the difference on these reduced images, but I can sure see it on the originals. The Sony is 5 mp, and the Olympus is 7.1. The optics are what matter, not the megapix.

We did not use the zoom on either one, but I am totally confident that the old Sony would have taken a good usable telephoto image there, and I would have ended up just deleting the Olympus one. Done it a thousand times.

So that's what was going on around here last night. And I managed to get a blog post out of it without mentioning the house (well except for the places where I mentioned that I was not going to mention it...)

Didn't talk about the landscaping either, you'll notice. Not even the bougainvilla:


4 comments:

Kenergy said...

Congratulations on the award guys.
Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, y'all. Wonderful photos. (I was more'n a little surprised that the Olympus had such poor focus in those comparison shots.)

Good thing you told us you weren't pickin' your nose, 'cause that exactly what I was gonna ask!

Don't give up entirely on poor little Dooley when the thunder's rumbling. He still might make a good paper-weight.

gw

John Schieffelin said...

Just great photographs! The sunsets are extraordinary.

No that it's starting to thaw out (slightly) in New England, do you notice any change in the weather in the Turks & Caicos? Is the weather fairly constant year-round or are there variations between seasons?

Gringo said...

Thanks for the comments and questions. Please, send more!

The contest was fun. Can we now say that we are "internationally known, award-winning writers and photographers"? No? Well, maybe a t-shirt? Oh well.

I was NOT picking my nose. Not in that video, anyway. I was wiping rain off my face.

The Olympus....well, what I think is that it would be a great camera to take skiing. It's rugged, has good cold-weather temp specs, and could handle the moisture okay. And snow would give it lots of light, and it needs a lot of light. I notice they have a newer version out. I hope they fixed some of the annoyances.

Weather here...well we do have seasons. Highest temps are usually in September, and it gets up into the low to mid 90's. Doesnt feel like it with the winds though. Lowest temp we have seen here in three years was 63, winter before last. And that was for only one night.It still gets up into the high 70's most winter days. Summer is wetter, we have been having rain squalls almost daily. Winter is windier. Ocean surface temperature this afternoon is 84 degrees. I think the coldest ocean temp I have noticed here was around 77-78 deg. Our boat GPS/depth system reads water temp. Humidity is also fairly constant, and surprisingly low. Cape Cod is much more uncomfortable in August. I don't even want to remember the Cape in February.