All photographs by Paul M. Clayton unless otherwise noted. Click on a picture to see it larger.
This is the current page, posts from 9/1/2018 through today. Older posts -
This picture was taken at an ISO of 3200. Back in my days of shooting film, fast was ISO 400, Tri-X. Later, Fuji marketed Superia X-Tra, a color film with an ISO of 800, but I never tried it. ISO 3200 is two stops faster than Superia. That kind of low-light performance is something you get with digital. I did use the on-board camera flash, but the effect is just to fill in the shadows rather than illuminate the subject. The cost of high ISO is noise. Even with plenty of noise reduction in post processing, noise is apparent. But it's a small price to pay to be able to get natural-looking shots like this in low-light situations.Fujifilm X-T20, XC16-50 f/3.5-5.6 at 50mm, f/11, 1/30s, ISO 3200
A couple of engines at Yadkin Valley Railroad's open-air servicing facility at Donnaha. I haven't been able to find either engine on a roster, but both look to be some variety of SD40.
Here's the backup camera - Pentax K100D. It was state of the art when it was introduced in 2006, with a 6.1mp sensor in the new APS-C format, image stabilization, exposure compensation, and a myriad of controls and adjustments accessible through the back-mounted LCD. Even so, it is a very traditional, conservative camera. It uses the same K lens mount that was introduced back in the late 1970s on Pentax film cameras, so all the Pentax lenses from that time forward can be used. When the K mount was designed, Pentax was careful to see that lenses like their Takumars with M42 mounts could be easily adapted. Many manufacturers used M42 mounts, going back to Contax in 1949. Many hundreds of lens designs were produced in M42 format, all of which can be used on the Pentax either as-is or with slight modification. When the K100D was introduced, the single lens reflex was the mainstream for serious amateur and professional cameras, and so the K100D has a loud, clanging mirror just like an old film camera. Mirrorless technology in recent years is starting to make inroads, and my guess is that reflexes will be obsolete in another decade.The K100D is fun to use, though no fun to carry, being large and heavy compared to my X-T20. The autofocus is fast and the controls are well laid out. The limiting factor is the 6.1mp sensor. The image size produced is too small to allow for much cropping. That hurts when I am shooting distant or fast-moving objects.
These old cameras can be picked up for $100 or less, making them great for backups or trainers.
His first time to Natty Greene's.
Fujifilm X-T20, XC16-50 f/3.5-5.6 at 50mm, f/5.7, 1/60s, ISO 1600.
This is the rig I shoot with most of the time - an SMC Takumar 55mm f/2 on a Fujifilm X-T20 body. People mistake this for a film setup all the time. In fact, the body houses an APS-C 24mp sensor and is mirrorless, but the proportions are very close to those of a Pentax film slr. The main reason I bought the X-T20 was because it paired up well with my old 1970s vintage Takumar lenses.
The flange focal distance is a measure of how far the back of the lens needs to be from the film or sensor. A camera with a mirror needs a lens with enough distance between the back and the sensor to provide room for the mirror in between. A mirrorless camera can handle lenses with a short flange focal distance because there is no need to make space for a mirror. And it can just as easily handle lenses with a long flange distance by using an adapter that sets the lens out the needed distance from the mount. That means most of the old long flange lenses from the film SLR days will easily adapt to a mirrorless body.
The APS-C sensor is about 2/3rds the size of a "full frame" sensor, which is the same size as a 35mm film frame. A lens designed for a film 35mm SLR, like one of my Takumars, projects an image big enough to cover a full 35mm frame. The APS-C sensor only uses the central part of the image and crops off the outer part, which is why APS-C and Micro 4/3rds are commonly called crop sensors. The advantage is that the center part of a lens' image is usually the sharpest, so the camera is only recording the sharpest part of the image. A characteristic is that the field of view of any given lens is narrower on a crop sensor camera. Since the sensor is 2/3rds the size, the field of view is 2/3rds as wide. So the field of view using a Takumar 55mm on an X-T20 is about what a 77mm lens would give on a full frame camera. In other words, a "normal" lens designed for full frame acts like a short telephoto on a crop sensor. I like shooting short tele, so to me it is an advantage, but the flip side is to get wide angle requires a very wide angle lens indeed. There are some other differences between crop and full frame, like pixel density and low light performance, but that is too technical to get into here.
Of course, to get a picture of my X-T20/Takumar combination, I had to use another camera. My backup is a Pentax K100D, an older 6mp crop sensor DSLR. Takumar was the brand name for Pentax lenses back in the film days, and Pentax was careful to design their digital cameras so all the old lenses would easily adapt to them. So all my Takumars, plus more modern Pentax lenses, work fine on the K100D, just as they do on the Fujifilm. The new Pentaxes are fully automatic on the K100D, while on the X-T20 they, like the Takumars, have to be manually focused and exposed. Of course, Fuji has their own line of very fine quality modern lenses that are fully automatic on the X-T20 body. I have only one, the kit XC16-50 zoom. It's a great lens, but I almost never use it - only if I need a wide angle. I just like the colors and images that I get with the Takumars better.
Why did I buy a Fujifilm body? I seriously considered a Panasonic, since I had several point and shoot Panasonics that served me well. Olympus as a company seemed a bit shaky, and I will never buy anything from Sony again, with their well-deserved reputation for secreting spyware and backdoors in their products. At the time, neither Canon nor Nikon offered a crop sensor camera. And Pentax was so far off the radar that I didn't even know they still produced cameras. It finally came down to Fujifilm or Panasonic. The reviews suggested some slight image quality advantages for the Fujifilm, and when the price of the relatively new X-T20 dropped to about the same as the current Panasonic Lumix, I sprang for the Fuji. Now, with around 6,000 shutter clicks on it, I'm perfectly satisfied and expect to keep it until it fails. Most digital bodies will do 100,000 or more clicks, so that could be 20 years from now.
Why does Fuji call its modern digital cameras "Fujifilm"? That question I can't answer.
GP40-2LW 2392 of the Yadkin Valley Railroad was built in 1975 at GMD as Canadian National 9613. She is pictured here in Rural Hall January 28th, 2019. Fujifilm X-T20, SMC Takumar 55mm f/2.
Interstate 40 through Winston-Salem was a good road when it was built in 1958, other than the S-Curve at Hawthorne Road that became known as "Kurfees Folly" after the mayor at the time. He reputedly pulled strings to have the dangerous feature designed into the road to keep his political allies from losing valuable commercial properties along Hawthorne Road and First Street to eminent domain. Kurfees spent the rest of his life denying the story. The curve was cursed by local drivers for many years and was the location of innumerable accidents - some of them fatal. Kurfees was a notable progressive who pushed through integration of the local fire and police forces, started the local hospital authority and saw to it that the city got a state of the art water and wastewater system. In other words, a good-government democrat. But nowadays if he is remembered at all, it is because of "Kurfees Folly".
The highway was rerouted in 1992 to bypass downtown and skirt what was then the southern edge of the city. Most of the through traffic used the bypass and the old road through town was reclassified as "Business 40." Effectively it became a commuter route and shortcut for truckers in the know headed to or from Mount Airy and points north. "Kurfees Folly" was straightened out in the late 1990s.
It's now 2019. Until last fall, 85,000 commuters a weekday were using Business 40 to get in and out of downtown. But today the road is closed for 1.2 miles right through the heart of town, and it will stay that way until sometime in 2020. What was a good road in 1958 is totally sub-standard now. The lanes are too narrow, the ramps are too short, and the bridges are too low. It's time for a rebuild, to the tune of $99 million, assuming the job stays on budget.
The plans look good, and it should be a much better road when it is done. In the meantime, the traffic on the bypass and on the parkways has to be seen to be believed. It looks like something you would see in Charlotte or Raleigh.
The new road will be a boon to commuters, but not everybody wants to commute. The demand for downtown housing has led to thousands of new apartment units being built in the last few years, and more are on the way. I drove past a big new development under construction along Brookstown Avenue, and another across the street from the old Bailey Steam Plant downtown. Bailey once provided steam and electricity for R.J. Reynolds' huge complex of factories. Now it has been repurposed as a restaurant. On a cool but sunny January workday, I found crowds of twenty and thirty-something office workers enjoying lunch hour in the vicinity.
North of town the rate of development is slower. Smith Reynolds Airport is a backwater. Aviation is classified as civilian or military, and civilian aviation is classified as private or commercial. Smith Reynolds is firmly in the private category. Greensboro got all the commercial traffic with their big, modern "international" airport, and a Fedex hub to boot. But the old Piedmont Airlines hangers in Winston-Salem are still extant, and they get some interesting visitors. Douglas C-54 "Spirit of Freedom", one of the last survivors of the fleet that carried out the Berlin Airlift in 1948 and 1949, has overwintered at Smith Reynolds for the last several years. The plane tours from airshow to airshow in the warm months.
The hangers are across Liberty Street from the runways, so there is a stoplight on Liberty that only turns red a few times a year when a plane is towed across the street. That's a sight I would like to see and photograph.
The old arched concrete Akron Drive bridge across the Norfolk Southern tracks, just visible through the trees behind "Spirit of Freedom", probably has a shorter life expectancy than the plane. People will pay to preserve an old plane, but unless it is a 19th century wooden covered bridge, people will watch an old bridge destroyed with equanimity. In fact, there is already an NCDOT project to replace the bridge, although when it will be carried out is not clear. The old bridge, built in 1928, is "becoming structurally obsolete and does not provide accommodations for efficient traffic flow". But don't worry, the new bridge "aesthetically, ...will provide the same historic ambience for the community". This per the website of the structural engineering firm that is designing the bridge. We shall see...
A short drive south on Liberty Street I found Norfolk Southern locomotives 5331 and 6103 idling away the day at the south end of the yard. 5331 is a GP38-2 built in 1973 for the Penn Central. That ill-fated merger of the Pennsylvania and New York Central Railroads quickly went bankrupt. Rather than see the liquidation of most of the railroad infrastructure in the northeastern United States, the government stepped in and formed Conrail. CSX and Norfolk Southern parcelled out Conrail in 1999. 6103 might look familiar. I posted a picture of the engine back in May of 2018. It's an SD40-2, of course. Ubiquitous.
Here is a set of 46 photographs from a trip Marie and I made to Maine in 2002.
Fescue flowering in the park in late May, 2018. Taken with my Takumar 150.
Their Oatmeal IPA was one of my favorites, unfortunately no longer brewed. Garden Party is not quite on that level, but still a good beer, strong, bubbly, with a clean, bitter finish.
Fujifilm X-T20, SMC Takumar 55mm f/2.
Since it is just next door, I can walk over and take a few shots of Amy's mobile most evenings, and I have been trying different lenses. This one is with an SMC Pentax-F 80-200mm f/4.7-5.6 that I picked up somewhere along the way. The F series were the first Pentax lenses with auto-focus, produced in the late 1990s. Of course, the lens won't auto-focus on the Fujifilm adapter, but it's no trouble doing it manually on a static subject. I also tried the lens on a Pentax K100D body, and it auto-focused very nicely. The lens is sharp and has good Pentax color resolution, all in all a very nice optic. It's much sharper than my Canon 70-210. It has proven a pleasant surprise.
Fujifilm X-T20, SMC Pentax-F 80-200mm f/4.7-5.6 at 80mm, f/4.7, 1/1700s, ISO 200.
One of many big oak trees in my neighborhood, under a Carolina-blue sky.
Fujifilm X-T20, SMC Takumar 35mm f/3.5, f/11, 1/170s, ISO 200.
Common name Swedish Ivy.
Fujifilm X-T20, SMC Takumar 55mm f/2, f/2, 1/90s, ISO 200.
My neighbor makes mobiles and hangs them on her porch. The beads refract the afternoon light, which bounces around inside my camera lens and makes gorgeous colors and bubbles. Post-processing in RawTherapee creates the oversaturation and dark, streaky background. It makes for a pleasant half hour project on a winter afternoon.
Fujifilm X-T20, SMC Takumar 55mm f/2, f/2, 1/1100s, ISO 200.
Dale and Cori lived aboard their Pearson 424 Hi Flite for ten years while they brought the boat into peak condition and worked to save money to retire. Then they made the leap to full-time cruisers and sailed away from Matthews Point Marina for the Caribbean. In this picture, taken in 2011, they approach the marina dock, Dale in total control at the helm, while Cori, a.k.a. "Seamonkey", prepares to snag a dockline. Two more competent, confident sailors I have never known. A SPOT from mid-December 2018 showed them at Morne Rouge, Grenada.
Fujifilm X-T20, Super Takumar 150mm f/4 on 12mm extension tube, f/5.6, 1/320s, ISO 400.
Here Marie climbs to the pilothouse of the William A. Irvin, a retired and preserved ore carrier in Duluth. The picture was taken in 2003 with my Sony digital that saved pictures six to a floppy disk. Duluth is a beautiful town, a miniature San Francisco, built on the steep hillside above Lake Superior. Its economy was based on the extractive industries of timbering and ore mining, and these are played out, so the town is contracting and fading away. It still serves as an economic and cultural hub for northeast Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin, but the winters are too brutally cold for retirees. Even the William A. Irvin has gone south for the winter.
Mark McKenzie at the tiller of my Alberg 35 Terry Ann. The picture was taken in April of 2017 with my Panasonic DMC-FS7.
Fredrickson Motor Express was an Atlanta-based regional carrier that sold most of its assets to Old Dominion Freight Lines in 1998 and closed its doors. Their rigs were once common on the roads of the southeast, but the company suffered after deregulation and was on its last legs by the late 1990s. I found this old trailer serving as storage at a small machine shop in Rowan County in July 2018. Old Dominion, headquartered in Thomasville NC, has prospered. The company currrently employs over 17,000 and has annual revenues of around $3 billion.
Fujifilm X-T20, SMC Takumar 55mm f/2 on 12mm extension tube, f/4, 1/105s, ISO 800.
I never thought much about using my Super Takumar 150 f/4 on an extension tube, but one day, looking for something different to try, I walked around the neighborhood and got a few shots with the lens on 12mm of extension. Some of them came out nicely. The benefit of using this lens was that with the focal length equivalent of a 225 on a full-frame camera, I could stand back a bit from the subject. This was useful for bees and other insects that, like Dorothy Parker, get nervous when you don't keep your distance. Dorothy allegedly wanted her gravestone to be engraved "If you can read this, you are standing too close".
One big difference using the 150 over my shorter lenses was that adjusting the focusing ring on the lens actually made a difference. Using my 55mm on an extension tube, focus adjustment is made by physically moving the camera closer or farther from the subject. Whether the focus on the 55 is set for close or infinity makes very little difference.
To test the difference between close and infinity, I took photographs of the wallpaper in my living room at the two points. Yes, one wall in my living room is papered with USGS topographic maps. That is the kind of thing you can do if you are single. Don't try this if you are married, your wife would probably hurt you.
On a 12mm tube, with the lens racked all the way out to closest focus, the camera was positioned approximately 45 inches from the subject, and the field of view was about 5 inches across. This is not real 1:1 macro, but it is close focusing. It's just outside of 1:5 on my Fujifilm X-T20 APS-C sensor. Set to infinity, the camera was 85 inches from the subject and the field of view was just over 11 inches.
On a 12mm tube, the Super Takumar 150 can focus close enough to provide near-macro with cropping, and far enough away to include some nice out-of-focus background behind the subject. It's a decent setup for walking around taking flower and bug shots, and of course it's easy to pull the tube out and have a regular 225mm equivalent telephoto. Now that I know what it will do, I will probably use it more.
A final note - this test was designed to determine the field of view at different focusing points, not to provide any kind of information about image quality. I used my Fujifilm X-T20 body and its excellent focus-peaking feature to obtain focus, but I didn't obsess about it and bracket shots. The camera was mounted on a tripod and the shutter was tripped with a wired release. Post-processing was in RawTherapee and was minimal. I used my version of the pre-installed auto-low ISO, which adds Fuji Velvia film emulation at 50% strength, with auto levels for exposure. I used the standard post-resize sharpening. I can see some vignetting in the top corners at infinity focus. It could be corrected in post-processing.
Fujifilm X-T20, Super Takumar 150mm f/4 on 12mm extension tube, f/5.6, 1/1100s, ISO 1250.
Handheld at 1/8th of a second. Not to brag or anything.
Fujifilm X-T20, SMC Takumar 35 f/3.5, f/8, 1/8s, ISO 1250.
I went to see my friend Mark, to pick up some Lexan scraps he had snagged for me out of the scrap bin at his plant, and to drink a beer. He needed a few minutes to finish tilling up his yard so while I waited I took some pictures of his wife Gretchen's flower beds.
Fujifilm X-T20, SMC Takumar 55 f/2 on a 12mm extension tube, f/5.6, 1/320s, ISO 400.
A set of 90 photographs from a trip that Marie and I made to the west coast and back in 2001. Depending on your monitor, you may be able to click on them and see them a bit bigger. The original pictures were taken at 1280 by 960 pixels on a Sony disc camera.
This is my fine-lined Alberg 35 Terry Ann on the dock in Edenton in June 2018.
Fujifilm X-T20, XC16-50 f/3.5-5.6 at 22mm, f/8, 1/400s, ISO 200.
Lou's house and yard in St. Pete. He has a double lot with plenty of room. Roy and Jeannie used to take down part of the fence and back their enormous RV in there for extended visits, before they bought their own place around the corner. St. Petersburg is hard to resist. I took the picture on a visit in March 2018.
Fujifilm X-T20, XC16-50 f/3.5-5.6 at 16mm, f/9, 1/250s, ISO 400.
I turned up this old one of Levi and Lars from December 2014 and decided it was worth posting here.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS7.
Back in July I posted a shot of this train entering the Bluefield yard the afternoon of July 13th, 2018. Here we see it a few minutes earlier at a grade crossing just east of Ada WV. Lush green foliage covers the low mountains and a pile of jack-hammered asphalt awaits disposal, remnants of the freshly-paved crossing.
Fujifilm X-T20, probably SMC Takumar 55 f/2, stopped down, 1/400s, ISO 400.
As a reminder that this sweltering summer will not last forever, I dug up this old shot from February 2015 of my Jeep in a North Carolina snowstorm.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS7,1/200s, ISO 80.
Fujifilm X-T20, SMC Takumar 55mm f/2 at f/4, 1/50s, ISO 200, short extension tube, on a tripod.
Ardmore people love keeping their yards neat and growing flowers. Here are chrysanthemums looking good in late summer when most of the other flowers have wilted and gone to seed.
The picture was taken with a Canon 70-210 macro zoom mounted on my X-T20. The lens is a real beast, large and heavy, but versatile. The image quality is decent for this old glass that even in its day was good but not the best. Post-processing in RawTherapee helps make up for some of its deficiencies. This shot got a healthy dose of Fuji Velvia film emulation and moderate unsharp mask.
Fujifilm X-T20, Canon FD 70-210 f/4, 1/750s, ISO 800.
All photographs by Paul M. Clayton unless otherwise noted.
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