Too Late for Fall Color? Catoctin Furnace, Thurmont, Maryland

I've been in a slump and a funk for quite some time because, other than my recent trip to New York for PhotoPlus Expo, I haven't made a photograph in months. I've barely even taken a picture! So it was decided that, no matter that I played a gig last night and didn't get home until after three, I would be getting up early to go make some photographs. I decided, too, that the direction headed would be west, to the area around Thurmont, Maryland, and one of my subject choices would be pretty uncharacteristic for me: fall color, assuming there was any left. The other "target" was to try to shoot some of the waterfalls in the area.

I managed to get up by 7:00, with surprisingly little difficulty. After I got myself ready to go, I dragged Donna out of bed, informed her that she would be "kidnapped," and that she needed to get ready to go. And, we were out the door by around 9AM. We stopped a couple times along the way to Thurmont, but once there, we spent our time at the Catoctin Furnace, and on the nearby walking trail.

Here are my results from the day:

A few shots are of particular interest:

First, it seems to be a requirement of nature/landscape photographers to get a picture of a yellow leaf. Maybe it's even the law. I don't know. At any rate, here's a yellow(wish) leaf:


It's heavily backlit, so it looks more orange than yellow. But orange contains yellow. So there it is. Really, though, I think that being limited to only yellow leaves is somehow discriminatory against other-colored leaves. So, in the interest of at least a little bit of equality, I felt it important to include a red one:


For the purists, it should be known that I did not place the red leaf. That's just how I found it.

Seriously, though, we saw a gorgeous Pileated Woodpecker at work on a dead tree. Of course, neither of us had the correct lens at the ready, and by the time I even got my bag open, the bird had ducked into a hole in the tree. Apparently, Sunday is interior decorating day for woodpeckers, because he/she/it commenced to banging away inside the tree. When we held our hand on the side of the tree, we could feel the banging! Very cool, and something we'd never experienced before!

After leaving the furnace, we took the road up around the State Park in search of places to shoot waterfalls. While we saw a couple of likely candidates, there were no places to pull over. So, we decided to head into Cunningham Falls State Park. Apparently, everyone else in the area had the same idea, because the place was mobbed! We decided that we'd save waterfalls for another day, and started home, sorta, by way of Blue Ridge Summit and Gettysburg, PA. We had a nice drive, but didn't stop anywhere else to shoot. And, by the time we got close to home, I was beat! Getting only three-and-a-half hours of sleep and finally caught up with me.

For the techies: Of course, everything was taken with my Fujifilm X-E1. For most of the shots, I used the excellent XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens, although I did use the old Mamiya-Sekor 55mm f/1.8 on a few. For a lens made in 1968, there's still a lot of magic there! Everything here was processed in Lightroom CC 2015.

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, June 19, 2015

I had a go at some of yesterday's photographs with Snapseed 2 on the iPad this evening. Hope you enjoy them!

Mamiya-Sekor 55mm f/1.8 First Shots at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

This afternoon, on the way to a weekend visit to my parents', we stopped into the antique boat show at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out a lens that's been in the family since it was new ... in 1968 or so. I'd actuallly been contemplating something like this for a while, and so early in the week, I ordered the appropriate adapter to mount M42 thread-mount lenses to my Fujifilm X-E1 camera. I think the total cost with tax for the adapter was about $12. The lens in question is a Mamiya-Sekor 55mm f/1.8, which works out to the "equivalent" of an 82.5mm f/2.5 on the Fuji's APS-C sensor. My thought, based on seeing some results from another old screw-mount lens, was that this would be an excellent portrait lens.

I didn't shoot any portraits with the lens today, but I did try a variety of other shots, some of which are shown here. There's minimal processing here, since I'm interested in showing the capabilities of the lens/camera combination. About all I've done is crop and make the most basic of exposure adjustments, all within the Photos app on my iPad Air 2.

I really enjoyed shooting with this setup today. Focus, of course, is all manual. Two things contribut to achieving sharp focus with relative ease. First, the Fuji has very good manual focusing tools -- a 10x zoom on the EVF, and bright focus-peaking, which in most conditions makes it almost impossible to miss the mark.

Exposure can be either full-manual or aperture-preferred automatic, and is also quite easy to control. The Fuji EVF can be set to automatically compensate for the change in aperture, and correct the brightness to display something very close to the final image -- including depth of field. The EVF even looks good when the ISO is pushed up for working in fairly dark conditions, though it does get a little laggy in low-light, high ISO conditions.

Of course, all this fun and enjoyment becomes merely an acedemic exercise if the image quality isn't acceptible, and I'm very happy to say that I'm very happy with the results. The lens is amazing, especially considering its age -- somewhere in the neighborhood of 46 years old! It's sharp, and relatively free of flare. The bokeh is lovely. The contrast is nice, and the colors are good. There is some blooming when very bright objects are against very dark backgrounds, but it's not objectionable. As I mentioned above, my thought going in was that this would be a great portrait combination, and I'm really looking forward to trying it out for that.

For those interested, full-size images may be seen in this album on my Flickr stream.