11APR2021 – OCF Update – Vultures, Ringnecks and Hellebores (Redux)

I spent a little time today going over some recent photos.  Nothing in the news has grabbed me lately as all that interesting so a little photography is fun for me as an alternative.


My snake tin (copper actually) flipped a ringneck last week.

They are interesting looking little buggers with their glossy scales and their eponymous color pattern.  They eat earthworms I believe and there is a fellow who studies them and believes that the venom that they use to subdue worms would be a threat to humans if the snake was a hundred times bigger.  In the American west they have ringnecks that are considerably larger but even these could barely get their fangs into your pinkie finger and even then you’d have to help it get a purchase on you.  But wildlife scientists are always trying to make some ridiculous point about “dangerous snakes.”


We had seven black vultures in a tree on the edge of the property last week.  Unfortunately they were back lit by the setting sun so the photos stink but it was interesting to see them there.  They’re pretty ugly looking creatures but I guess they serve a useful purpose and I’m sure God loves them anyway.


I have two or three kinds of hellebores in the gardens and they are an early flowering perennial.

The ancient Greeks and Romans thought hellebore was a medicine to cure the insane.  It also is a poison I believe so maybe they thought death was a good treatment for crazy people.  We may have to revisit that thought someday ourselves.

Here’s an oddball plant.


I discovered growing near the house that I transplanted a garden last year.  I’m not sure what it is but I like it.  It forms long thin stalks like vines.



And here are some yellow flowers because I like yellow.

A little photography to add some interest to my day.  And now I return you to the apocalypse already in progress.

24FEB2021 – OCF Update – Something Constructive

I decided today was a good day to do some fiction writing.  I’ve been neglecting it during the run up to the Dementia Joe inauguration and since there wasn’t anything really compelling in the news I figured I’d wait until later to put up a post.  I have a post in progress for the end of the hummingbird Photo of the Day series but I’ll attach something interesting from the archive just to make this worthwhile.


American Museum of Natural History, New York City, Sony NEX 5N, Sony 24mm F\1.8 APSC lens


20FEB2021 – Photography – Conclusion to A Study in Magnification

In the last four days of the “Photo of the Day” I used the original photo and the three progressively more extreme crops of the photo to highlight the question of when is something close enough  Below I provide those four photos again and discuss what makes the correct magnification for a photo.

(As an aid for those using small screens you should be able to click on each photo and have it “fit” to your screen in a lightbox display.  Then you can close that lightbox and move onto the next photo to repeat that process to get a full view of each photo on your screen.)



A Study in Magnification – Photo 1

The first picture is the whole frame that I shot in the yard.  The flower is floating in a background that inclues other flowers some more and some less in focus with the blurred view of the foliage and the ground as the distant background.  This gives an effect somewhat akin to an impressionistic painting.  The detail of the flower is only slightly visible.



A Study in Magnification – Photo 2

In the first crop of the original I’ve isolated the flower with only some out of focus bright and shadow outlines to be seen behind it.  Now it is clear that the flower has a lot of fine structure that includes what look like fuzz and small filaments of some type.



A Study in Magnification – Photo 3

In the second crop of the original the flower fills the screen.  Now the flower is seen to be more akin to some kind of burr with separate pistils and covered in spiky filaments and the filaments covered with finer filaments or hairs.



A Study in Magnification – Photo 4

In the third and final crop we get an extreme magnification of the detail of the components of the flower.  The surface of the pistils and the structure of the filaments is clear.  The quality of the photo is decidedly poor due to pixilation of the image at such extreme magnification.




Okay, so which is the “correct” magnification?  And of course there is no correct answer although we may be able to agree that he final crop is is the wrong answer.  Cropping to an extreme magnification reveals the limits of the picture file.  The number of pixels being used is very small and so a crude image results.  This type of photo would only be appropriate for informational purposes such as a scientific paper discussing the structure of the plant.

So what about the first three photos?

Well, the first photo, the full frame originally taken, might appeal to some people because of the composition.  The arrangement of the flowers and the background blur might be seen as soothing.  So this photo is a viable choice.

The second photo is a little odd.  The flower as I said above begins to show its spiky and complex structure while the background still exhibits the creamy softness of the blurred foliage.  I sort of like it.  There is some tension to the image.  I find it interesting.

The third photo is a macro shot.  I like macro.  I like seeing the complexity of small living things.  All the structure and detail interests me.  I think this shot is the best magnification for my tatste.

The fourth shot as a mentioned above is technically poor.  Maybe it could be used in a cheap monster movie.  Now with a higher magnification lens like a 2X or a 3X macro and with the correct lighting and stage a really quality higher magnification image could be made of this plant’s fine structure.  But I was in the yard and even the slightest wind would make that photo impossible.

So as you see there is no right answer, only preference or application.  What you like or what you need.  But just to show I appreciate everyone going through the exercise I’ll provide a survey below.  You pick the magnification you think is best.


Which Magnification Is Best?

View Results

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19FEB2021 – Comments on Sony’s Latest Full Frame Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILC)

Looking back on my older photography posts I discover that in April I will have had my Sony A7 III camera for three years.  I think this is a good time to review what I think about the recent progress that Sony has made and where the A7 III and my photographic needs stand.

First off, the A7 III is a wonderful camera.  It produces images that I never could have imagined possible ten years ago when I started using the Sony mirrorless cameras.  When I moved from my Sony A-850 DSLR to the NEX mirrorless cameras it was incredibly disappointing.  The autofocus didn’t deserve the name.  It was manual focus or nothing.  The battery life was laughable and the viewfinder was pretty sad.  I could get some good results from it, even results indoors that I might not be able to get with my DSLR but frustration was a constant part of the Sony photographic experience.    If I knew then how long it would take Sony to reach the A7 III level of capability I probably would have bitten the bullet and moved on to Canon or Nikon.  But I didn’t and now finally I am truly pleased with the system.  Sure, there are still some quibbles, I wish the LAEA5 adapter would allow me to autofocus my mechanical autofocus A-mount lenses with the A7 III but that is just that, a quibble.  If I wanted, I could buy an A7R IV or an A9 and get that functionality but that would be kind of crazy from my point of view.  So here I am with a very good digital camera and a chance to compare it to the newer Sony models.  After all, the A7 III is a generation before the IV series and a notch down from the professional A9’s and two notches down from the flagship A1.  So here are my thoughts.

Back when the Sony A9 first came out I was curious to see what the advantages of such a camera would be.  I rented it and gave it a tryout.  What I found was that it was a sports camera and the A7 III was not.  I know that was what it was touted as but it wasn’t apparent until I had it in hand just how inadequate the A7 III was for things like tracking autofocus or just how inadequate the file buffer was.  The A9 was light years ahead of my camera.  And even the autofocus I typically used for macro shots of insects and birds was more precise and faster and had additional capability that my camera lacked.  For instance, the A7 III can stay in magnified view when focusing repeatedly on a subject that I’m getting ready to capture.  But once the shot is taken it returns to unmagnified view.  The A9 can stay in magnified view indefinitely for shot after shot.  That is a great advantage.

So, the A9 has capability that I do wish I had.  But image-wise I think the A7 III files are at least as good as the A9 files.  There has been an A9 II update a few years back.  I haven’t tried it out.  From what I’ve read the improvements are part of the autofocus upgrades and allow for even better sports and wildlife action shooting.  I’m sure it’s very capable but once again the sensor hasn’t progressed in terms of high ISO capability.  In fact, based on the DXOMARK testing the A7 III still has the highest ISO rating of any full frame camera on the market.

Recently Sony came out with a $6,500 flagship camera, the A-1.  From what I understand it is an even more miraculous sports camera than the A9 series.  It has a ridiculously large writing buffer and can take thirty shots per second or something obscene like that.  But its sensor is not rated to a higher ISO rating.  It does have a 50-megapixel sensor.  But that also means you get 50+ megabyte file sizes which is starting to get cumbersome.  Maybe someday I’ll try it out just for laughs but that price tag is outrageous.

So here I am.  Other than my camera not being able to autofocus my two favorite a-mount lenses, the Sony 135mm f1.8 lens and the Minolta 200mm f4 Macro, I really don’t need any of the new cameras.  Even the new Sony A7S III really doesn’t interest me.  I’m not a videographer and its high ISO numbers surprisingly still don’t match the A7 III.  This was a bit of a shocker for me.  The A7S series is supposed to have the best low light sensitivity of all the A7 line.  But apparently the video improvements are what drove the new model and high ISO was left as is.

If I were a sports and wildlife photographer then the A1 or at least the A9 II would be the cameras I wanted.  If I was a purely landscape guy then the A1 or the A7R IV would provide me with the resolution I crave.  If I was a videographer and I didn’t want a full-blown video camera I’d be looking at the A7S III.  But I’m just a general-purpose photographer that does some landscape and some macro and a little bit of wildlife and no video.  So, all of those other cameras are overkill and sometimes inferior for my needs.

For yourself this review might help point you in the direction of which Sony full frame ILC is right for you.

Guest Contributor – The Fat Man – 09FEB2021 Photo – One Hundred Seventh Infantry Memorial

New York WW I War Monument

New York City – WW I Monument

One Hundred Seventh Infantry Memorial


Sculptor Karl Illava (1896–1954) created this dynamic bronze figural group depicting seven larger-than-life-sized World War I foot soldiers in battle. The piece, set on a massive stepped granite platform designed by architects Rogers and Haneman, was donated by the Seventh Regiment New York 107th United Infantry Memorial Committee and was dedicated September 27, 1927. Taking advantage of its position at the end of East 67th Street at Fifth Avenue, Illava’s “doughboys” are in active poses, advancing from the wooded thicket bordering Central Park, as if mounting a charge. Illava drew from his own experience serving as a sergeant with the 107th, and even used his own hands as models for the soldiers’ hands.

One Hundred Seventh Infantry Memorial Details

  • Location: Fifth Avenue at 67th Street
  • Sculptor: Karl Morningstar Illava
  • Architect: Rogers & Haneman
  • Description: Group of seven figures (over life-size) with integral plinth, on a pedestal
  • Materials: Bronze, North Jay granite
  • Dimensions: Group H: 9’11” W: 15’8′ D: 10′; Pedestal H: 7’7″ W: 32’8″
  • Cast: 1927
  • Dedicated: September 29, 1927
  • Foundry: Fond. G. Vignali, Firenze
  • Donor: 7th Regiment and 107th Infantry Memorial Committee

What’s on My Mind Today

Yesterday was a sort of hectic day.  I had to clear the snow from the driveways so I could get out and head off on an errand.  That kind of interrupted the usual time I like to take in the morning for the site and for reading up on stuff.  Today is sort of back to normal but when I looked around there wasn’t too much to review.

There were the usual atrocities by the Dems and the usual useless hand waving by the GOPe.  Blah, blah, blah.  There was that nice piece of news about DeSantis going after the Social Media sites that discriminate against conservatives.  It’s encouraging to see that a few red state governors have some desire to help us.  Excellent.  May twenty more do just as much.  Then we’d have something to talk about.

And since the news didn’t take much time, I started thinking about what is meaningful for me to do with my time and with my website.  One of my fans said I should do more with the photography side of things.  He likes the macro stuff I do and thinks I should put it up on YouTube as a slide show montage thing.  That sounds kind of interesting.  I’m also thinking about publishing some art books with the landscape and macro stuff.  I also have been neglecting my fiction writing during the inauguration excitement but now that things are slowing down, I really must get some discipline and put in the hours to move those projects along.  I’ll put up links to these other things here on the site.

On the local front I’ve had some friends show interest in putting together the first local chapter of the He-Man Woman Hater’s Club.  High on the agenda for the club was hammering out the rules for the poker game.  There were some who wanted to allow for a high stakes option.  I was completely opposed for a couple of reasons.  One is that I want to allow for the widest possible socio-economic inclusivity (there is that word sneaking in!).  Even the least of my brothers must be able to enjoy the benefits of manly camaraderie.  The other is that I’m a truly awful poker player and I don’t want to be beaten by Camera Girl if I lose the milk money.  The next question on the agenda is whether sandwiches will be premade or assembled as needed.  My opinion was that each man must build his own sandwich and that only a few sandwich building breaks should be allotted.  Otherwise, the game would become too fragmented.  Of course, chips and drinks can be snagged at the end of every hand.  And finally, the type of poker was debated strenuously.  Some of the younger guys said it should be strictly Texas Hold’em.  Having been raised on draw and stud poker I resisted this idea.  But I went as far as to agree that some limits be made on the side bets for high spade and other distractions.

All of this was very gratifying and sound.  But what brought us all up to a halt was setting the date for the first game.  After all we’re still in the “lockdown.”  If we assemble at someone’s house, we’ll have to shut our lights as we near the driveway and camouflage the parked cars for fear that the neighborhood Karens will rat us out to the storm troopers.  I mean, I like a good ham swiss and mustard as much as the next guy but getting tased and thrown in the local COVID tank with the other sinners is a bit much.  We tabled the item with the understanding that it would be in April or May.

But just talking to the “boys” about some old-fashioned male bonding was inspirational.  It’s good to be making plans again and living in the future and not just dwelling on the nightmares of the recent past.  If you think about it, other than this COVID crap the government really doesn’t have much of a stranglehold on what adults do with their lives.  Lying to the authorities and our bosses at work will become second nature the way it does in any totalitarian state but we can still be ourselves with our friends and family.  And one day we’ll pull the whole thing down around their ears and march them off to the gulag as payback.

So today is a good day to plan and get things done.