Maryland Renaissance Festival 9-2-13

We visited Revel Grove again today, this time with our friend Lynn in tow. Since Lynn is not going to be heading out the Festival as often as we are this year, we did pack in a lot of activity -- I think we caught six or seven performances this day! Our feet are tired, and our muscles sore, but a splendid time was had by all. We also ran into one of our favorite former baristas from our favorite local coffee shop.

We also paid another visit to R.E. Piland Goldsmiths, a fine jeweler who has had a shop at the Festival for as long as I can remember, with an eye to finally get our permanent wedding bands. I think we've just about made up our minds which ones we want. All I'll say for now is that the rings are from their Silver Celtic Wedding Bands collection. There will be pictures once we get the new rings sometime in the next few weeks. We will be looking into getting Donna's diamond reset as well.

Due to other commitments, we won't be back at the Festival until the weekend of September 21.

On a "photo-geek" note, I took all the pictures yesterday and today with the old Maxxum 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. I'm pretty sure I'll be sticking with the Minolta (and Sigma) lenses when I use the SLR through the rest of the Festival run. As old as the Maxxum lenses are, they're sharper and faster than the more convenient Tamron 18-270mm all-in-one lens. Furthermore, I really prefer the way these old lenses render colors -- I spend far less time "fixing" in post processing, and can concentrate more on "creating" instead.

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After Sandy at Assateague

We drove down to Chincateague, VA, and the Assateague National Seashore today, to see how the Virginia-portion of the park had fared post Sandy. To put it bluntly, the park is a bit of a mess. Trees are uprooted, roads and parking lots along the beach are gone, and large sections of the park are closed. But, for the most part, nature is just plugging along. We saw a few Egrets and Great Blue Herons, a good sized squadron of Snow Geese, a variety of ducks and shore birds, a goodly selection of dumb gulls -- but no ponies or deer.

The day was a bit dreary and cold and rainy, but that didn't stop me from taking a few photographs.

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Java Hafla September 2012

We went to the Java Hafla at Birdies in Westminster last night, and the hostess asked that I bring my camera along. I took it as an opportunity to play some more with the Minolta Maxxum 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 lens I recently purchased.

Shooting at Birdies is a challenge at the best of times, and when it's crowded with dancers and on-lookers, it's even harder. The lighting is poor and the space is cramped. So, I wasn't really all that sure how many usable images I'd be able to get.

Even having made the mistake of not taking the big flash and Lightsphere with me, I was still able to get quite a few good pictures of the event, and was really quite pleased with the lens. Even in the poor conditions, focus was generally accurate and reasonably fast, with minimal hunting. Nothing was shot above ISO 400, and I generally let the camera make most of the exposure decisions.

The more I shoot with these older Minolta lenses, the more they impress me.

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Minolta Maxxum AF 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5

My second old lens, Minolta Maxxum AF 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5, arrived on schedule today from KEH Camera. There were two versions of the 28-85, and I ordered the original version, which was introduced back in 1985.

While it arrived too late to really make any decent images, I did at least pop the lens on the camera and pop off a few shots. None of them are particularly inspired or particularly good. The image at left is pretty much right out of the camera, with the exception of a little cropping.

As with the 50mm f/1.7, the color and the subjective feel of the image are exactly what I had hoped for: deep, punchy colors with nice, smooth bokeh. If you look closely, you'll see that this image isn't completely sharp, except in a very few spots. In this image, I'm shooting at the maximum focal length of the lens (85mm), wide open (f/4.5), and as close to the subject as I could be and still get anything in focus (about 32 inches).

Getting down to the lens itself. My copy is, as mentioned above, from the initial group of 11 Maxxum lenses introduced in 1985. It is built like a small tank, with a completely metal lens barrel and mount. The zoom action is silky smooth, as is the manual focus. KEH rated the lens condition as "Excellent," and in all of the important aspects, that's absolutely true. The glass is perfect, and I can't even see any of the usual dust inside the lens. And, the aperture blades are clean and move freely. The only "not-so-excellent" bit is cosmetic -- some discoloration on the rubber zoom ring. I think if I had rated the lens, I might have given it an "Excellent -".

I'm really looking forward to having some time to play with it over the weekend. Hopefully, I'll have some "real" pictures to post then.

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