Slowing down and Learning to see with less chaos, less distraction and still tell a story.

My life can be overwhelmingly busy most of the time.  At least that has been the case up until recently when a big change happened and life slowed down, somewhat.  My youngest daughter graduated high school and moved on to University.

Chair Lift  -  Leica D Lux Typ 109  (1/500s @f8 ISO200)
Chair Lift – Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/500s @f8 ISO200)

The empty nester syndrome came on suddenly and I wasn’t quite prepared for the evolution into the next chapter.

Photography has been my favorite pastime for many years and as I look back through my catalog of images I can see that I’ve spent my time behind the lens shooting what my life looked like in front of the lens.  Busy.  Family vacations, camp trips, gatherings of friends, soccer games, birthday parties and the list goes on.

Quiet time is something that has eluded me for many years.  Uncluttered, less busy, and not so chaotic are things I’ve been hoping to explore but could never really find the time.  Even if I could I wasn’t sure how to live it, let alone how to see it or if I would recognize it if I saw it.

Kamikaze.  Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/800s @f/8 ISO200)
Kamikaze. Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/800s @f/8 ISO200)

Now that I have a bit more time on my hands I wanted to turn my attention to what that might look like as I peer through the lens of my camera.

Classic Wooden Coaster est. 1935  -  Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/640s @ f8 ISO200)
Classic Wooden Coaster est. 1935 – Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/640s @ f8 ISO200)

So keeping that thought in my mind and in my heart I would take my camera to one of the busiest and most chaotic places I could find where there would be lots of people, lots of activity, bright lights and see if I could find a way to bring the visual noise down and reduce the chaos through my lens.  To see if I could find a quiet place in the midst of a lot of noise.

The Washington State Fair in Puyallup is nearing the end of its run and what a better place to go and NOT find quiet or peace.  So armed with my Leica D Lux Typ 109 and a spare card and battery off I went to see how I might shoot the State Fair with a new mindset a new intention.

The Swing  -  Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/640s @ f8 ISO200)
The Swing – Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/640s @ f8 ISO200)

While I have no expectations of life slowing down around me, I want to see, through my lens, if I can find a new way of photographing the life I see around me.  A way that more resembles the life I feel.  A little more quiet, a little less cluttered, a little less chaotic.  Simpler, easier and still fun with a story to tell.

Coaster Tracks Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/1000s @ f8 ISO200)
Coaster Tracks Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/1000s @ f8 ISO200)
Crazy Ride I would never get on.  Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/1000s @ f8 ISO200)
Crazy Ride I would never get on. Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/1000s @ f8 ISO200)
Midway Ride.  Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/1000s f8 ISO200)
Midway Ride. Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/1000s f8 ISO200)

The final take away for me is that I’m entering into a new era, a new chapter.  Life has changed around me and how I see the world through my view finder will likely change as well.  I’m not sure how it will change or in all the ways it will, but I feel fairly confident that it has already.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it continues to evolve.

Lone tree perched above Canon Beach, Oregon.  Leica D Lux Typ 109  (1/800s @f8 ISO200)
Lone tree perched above Canon Beach, Oregon. Leica D Lux Typ 109 (1/800s @f8 ISO200)

Tom

Camping at Lake Sylvia State Park in the Southern regions of The Olympic Mountain Range and hiking with the Sony A7 II.

Another fine weekend of camping in Washington’s State Park system.  This trip was close to home but felt like we were a long way out and deep in the woods.  Close to Washington’s Pacific Coast is Gray’s Harbor County.  Aberdeen, Hoquiam, Ocean Shores and Westport are a few of the cities (small towns) within reach of Lake Sylvia State Park.  Located just north of Montasano, Gray’s Harbor County Seat, is Lake Sylvia, one of the nicest campgrounds around and offers easy access to rain forests, ocean beaches and port towns.

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Lake Sylvia from campsite number 25. Looking south toward the bridge to the swimming area and club house. Sony A7 II and Sony/Zeiss 35mm f2.8

From the campsite there are miles of trails to enjoy including one that wraps around the lake.  One of the changes I’ve made over the past couple of years was to downsize photo equipment so hiking would be less of a chore.  I wanted to still take nice hikes and long walks but not with a heavy backpack loaded down with lenses, or a 12 pound camera body. So as cameras have gotten smaller and sensors have gotten better, it’s possible now to carry a full frame sensor camera and a couple of lenses and a tripod and come in under 7  pounds versus the nearly 30 pounds I used to carry.  And I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed anything.

We took a couple of day trips over to the coast and visited a couple of small towns and communities.

My friend Hope standing on the jetty at Westport. Only moments before this photo it was completely shrouded in a huge fog bank. Sony A7 II with Sony/Zeiss 35mm f2.8
My friend Hope standing on the jetty at Westport. Only moments before this photo was taken it was completely shrouded in a huge fog bank. Sony A7 II with Sony/Zeiss 35mm f2.8

From the Lake Sylvia Campground it’s about a 40 minute drive to the Pacific and the small towns along the coast.  Westport is a very active fishing community with big commercial fishing vessels and smaller charter boats for whale watching and fishing.  There are plenty of accommodations, hotels and seafood restaurants offering the freshest seafood you can possibly get anywhere.

Farther down the coast about 20 minutes are Grayland and Tokeland.  Both very small with few accommodations but incredibly beautiful white sand beaches.

But the campground area provides enough entertainment to not have to go anywhere at all.  Camping, wood fires, canoeing and kayaking, hiking trails and swimming and for those who like to take photos, there is an endless amount of beautiful and scenic landscapes everywhere you look.

Sunrise through the old growth trees along the trail at the park. Sony A7 II with a Nikon 100mm f2.8 legacy lens.
Sunrise through the old growth trees along the trail at the park. Sony A7 II with a Nikon 100mm f2.8 legacy lens.
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Sunrise and fog on Lake Sylvia. Sony A7 II and Sony/Zeiss 35mm f2.8
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September 11, 2015, Westport, Washington. Sony A7 II and Sony/Zeiss 35/2.8
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Oldest barbershop in Montasano. It’s been this barbershop since 1922. Sony A7 II and Sony/Zeiss 35/2.8

This barbershop has been a barbershop in this exact spot in Montasano since 1922.  As the story goes, back in the day,  it used to have two doors on the rear walls.  One went down to a bathhouse where the workers would go to freshen-up, then come back up for a haircut before going through the second door to a bar for a drink.  What great information you can get just by stopping to ask.

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Lisa, my best friend, traveling companion and without a doubt my better half. Maybe my better three quarters.
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How else can you start a day of camping without a good cup of coffee.

Thanks for following along.

Tom

Sony A7ii and the Nikon 100mm f2.8 Series E Lens

My new Sony A7ii camera has been an absolute joy to use.  I bought it with the Sony / Zeiss 35mm f2.8 and the results have been fantastic.  The cameras size, weight, feel and looks make this set up a very pleasurable experience and the images that are coming out of it are amazing.  Not wanting to be limited to only a 35mm field of view and being on something of a budget, I have to wait to pick up my next Sony/Zeiss lens.  In the mean time I’ve been reading a lot about adapting “legacy” glass, old lenses, that will work with the A7ii by using any of the available adapters.

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Sony A7ii with Nikon Series E 100mm / f2.8. Photo taken with iPhone 5s

Looking around the garage I came across a box full of old lenses and old film bodies.  Amongst them I found a Nikon Series E lens (not one of Nikon’s better lenses), a 100mm, f2.8.  It looks to be in near perfect condition and so I found the appropriate adapter, a cheap one by Fotasy $12.00, and mounted it on the A7ii.  

Nice fit, easy to attach, looks good.  Once attached however there is no more AF (auto focus) but in the A7 you can turn on “focus peaking” which makes manual focusing very easy, even for my tired somewhat older eyes.

Camera in hand, adapter in place, legacy lens mounted, out I go to give it a try and see how it performs.

The first thing I notice is that I need to shoot this lens at 1/125s at a minimum for a steady shot or I need to be mounted on a tripod, especially if I want to stop it down to f5.6 or f8 and beyond.  But when I was able to hit the sweet spot it seemed to perform very well.

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Sony A7ii, Nikon Series E 100mm / f2.8 1/640s (f8 maybe) ISO100 Tacoma, Washington

Not being much of a manual focus guy, I wear glasses, I’m older, I’m slower than I used to be, I was very worried that I couldn’t pull this off.  But Sony’s built in “Focus Peaking” feature works wonders for those of us who need that kind of help.  It’s not perfect and there is a little learning curve, but it’s easy and can be managed in one afternoon of shooting.

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Sony A7ii, Nikon Series E 100mm / f2.8 1/640s at f8 ISO 400 Tacoma, Washington

Judging by the look in his eyes and the expression on his face, may be not that happy that I took this shot.

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Sony A7ii, Nikon Series E 100mm / f2.8 1/320s / f8 ISO100 Tacoma, Washington

No problem with detail in this lens.

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Sony A7ii, Nikon Series E 100mm / f2.8 1/640s / f8 ISO200

Awwww!  Another Geezer out doing his thing.  Nice.

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Sony A7ii, Nikon Series E 100mm / f2.8 1/125s / f2.8 ISO2000

Eli, my good dog.

Bottom line here for me is the “legacy” lenses may or are worth pursuing.  The new Sony/Zeiss lenses are absolutely amazing in every way.  But if you’re on a tight budget, want to work a learning curve a little, which by the way is really a lot of fun, then for next to nothing you can pick up these lenses or rummage around your own garage for something you may already have laying around.

Cafe Campagne, DeLaurentis, Pike Place and Westlake Center. A Saturday morning stroll through downtown Seattle, Washington with the Sony A7ii and Zeiss 35mm/f2.8.

I’m still playing around in the “small camera” world of mirror-less cameras and enjoying it more and more by the day.  I have changed things up a bit by adding a new camera to the offerings and today I gave it a run on the streets of Seattle.  Lisa and I decided to take a day trip to the city for a little shopping, dining and site seeing and of course this is my opportunity to take pictures.

Lunch at Cafe Campange.
Lunch at Cafe Campange.

The camera du jour is the remarkable Sony A7ii coupled with the Zeiss 35mm/f2.8.  This small bodied, mirror-less, full frame sensor camera is an absolute joy to use.  It feels just right in my hands, around my neck, it looks nice and it’s easy to use.  Even navigating the menu is relatively easy.

The parts of Seattle that we visited today are the central areas that attract visitors from all over the world.  Local artisans, street people, shoppers, residents and tourists alike are all over the streets especially on a beautiful end of summer day.

Shopping for flowers at Pike Place Market
Shopping for fresh vegetable from local growers at Pike Place Market

Having lunch at one of the many seafood offering in Pike Place Market, and maybe wondering why some stranger is pointing a camera at you.

Lunch in Pike Place Market
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Sampling fruit from just one of the many local growers
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Lisa buying incense from our favorite Hindu store in the Market
Finding Jesus at 5th and Pine in Westlake Center
Chess in the Park
Ping Pong in the Westlake Center Park
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Lamb Burger from the Cafe Campange
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Maybe someone got in a little trouble here.

Another fun day in the city.  Good food, fun people watching, great shopping and wonderful weather.  And the new Sony A7ii with the Zeiss 35/2.8 is definitely a keeper.  I buy, trade and rent lots of cameras but this one is feeling like the best of the lot so far.  It fills that need I’ve had of going small and keeping my gear as light as possible but this camera does it with big camera results.  The 24mp, full frame sensor really delivers and it’s small compact form isn’t tiring or in the way.  I’ll be keeping this one for a while.