Category Archives: Nikon 70-300 VR

1561 – It’s A Fire

Today I was down by the river again, and you may see some images of that tomorrow (as I am frequently reluctant to go out on Sundays), but for today’s post I want to share what I saw when driving home.

Fortunately the Nikon 70-300 is part of my weekend kit, so I had no problem capturing the sight from far down in the valley. Dobratsch is the mountain, and when you look close, you can even see the church on the summit, more prominently featured in “491 – Just In Time“.

The Song of the Day is “It’s A Fire” from “Dummy”, the 1994 debut album of Portishead. Hear it on YouTube.

1526 – White Rabbit

I had only precious little time for photography yesterday. The Image of the Day is a view from my study. In the course of the last two years you may have seen many images from there, among them favorites of mine like “993 – One Of These Mornings – You Gonna Rise Up Singing” or three days later “996 – One Of These Mornings“, but late last summer “1393 – Stormy Weather II” made an end to that.

Now I’ve got to be more humble, and the Image of the Day is an attempt at that. The mounds of earth in front of our house are covered with snow now, and the tracks of a rabbit are what I saw in the pristine snow.

Later in the afternoon I took a short trip by car, only within a perimeter of maybe a kilometer or two, and the last image that I took is the other image that I present today. It’s also a view that you’ve seen, for instance in “771 – And Winter Came” and a few more times that I can’t remember. Here it was the rising fog that fascinated me.

The Song of the Day is “White Rabbit“, originally by Jefferson Airplane, here sung by Patti Smith on her 2007 cover album “Twelve”. Here’s the song on YouTube.

1484 – The Harmony Of Industry And Nature III

After about a year, here we are with the third installment of “The Harmony Of Industry And Nature”. It is again the Infineon plant in Villach, but this time not taken with a wide, but with a long lens. It’s what I saw this morning from my balcony, slightly, uhh, enhanced ๐Ÿ™‚

It was a wonderful day and we spent it driving around in Carinthia. I made some images, but in the end I liked none better than this image.

Other than that, I bought a computer. A cheap computer, I might say. The cheapest, in fact.

Did I tell you that I was contemplating buying an Apple iPad? Well, I was. Funny, huh? I’m always saying that I don’t like Apple as a company, don’t like their strategy of locking their customers in, don’t like their strategy of turning computers into customer appliances, and then I go and consider buying one of their products???

Well, I did. The iPad is really sexy, or at least if we allow for the notion of sexiness in the realm of computers, the iPad is the only real contender today. There is simply some magic in this device. If you have never tried it, please do. Try to scroll with a flick of your finger and marvel at how responsive the iPad is, and how direct your control of it is. Marvelous! You conduct, the iPad sings.

And then hold it in what photographers call “Landscape Mode”, turn it to “Portrait Mode”, and be fascinated by how this device adapts to you, instead of letting you adapt to its quirks.

Magic. Pure, shiny magic! Wonderful! Marvelous!

I don’t like Apple, and I was pretty glad a few weeks ago, when I found, that Archos has a new device, the 101 Internet tablet, and that this tablet, running Android 2.2, would be pretty much the antithesis of the iPad. Open, Linux-based, also with a capacitive touch-screen like that of the iPad, with half the weight, but for about half the price.

I was firmly determined to buy the Archos, mainly as a surfing and reading device, until … well, until I tried a Samsung Galaxy today. It’s about the same specs as the Archos, only priced in the range of the iPad, i.e. more expensive than the Archos. Feature-wise the Archos is the same, in terms of quality it can’t possibly beat the Samsung, especially because they share the exactly same version of Android.

It was a disaster. Yes, it works. It has a similar user interface, but it simply does not feel “magic”. Not at all. Yes, you scroll with the same movements of your fingers, but when the iPad follows the smallest of your movements effortlessly, the Android-based Galaxy feels much more indirect, even stumbles or sticks at times, needs another gesture, and that is enough to completely break the illusion.

Full of despair my eyes turned back to the iPad. Could it be?

It could. Holding the iPad again, flipping pages, resizing things, it felt magic again.

Now look at this: I am totally fascinated by something made by a company that I absolutely dislike for their totalitarian control of computer users, or as they see it, “customers”. I don’t want to be turned into a customer. Still, this magic attracts me, but this is not the whole story.

It’s the gestures that attract me. The smear on the glass I find rather distracting. It’s the way the image turns, when I turn the device. That attracts me (and that works on the Samsung just as well), but when I turn the iPad to portrait mode, I find the fonts too small and the page hard to read. Thus I would like the iPad to be bigger.

At the same time I think the iPad is too heavy. Not a little bit too heavy, no, much too heavy to be held comfortably in one hand and for an extended period. And that’s still not all. It’s extremely inconvenient, that you can’t put down the iPad in any other position than flat on the table. It does not stand by itself, so you either need an external stand where you use it, which is stupid for a portable device, or you are forced to hold it all the time.

So, in many respects the iPad is just an impractical, incredibly restricted device, blemished by greasy smears. The pleasure in using it is not the pleasure to read pages on it, it’s only the pleasure of seeing and feeling how pages can be turned. Don’t get me wrong, I still marvel at that, but for anything more than turning and resizing pages, for anything that I actually want to use a computer for, this device gets in my way.

Realizing that, I took one step back and thought about the whole category. If Samsung, Archos and Google manage to make their Androids as slick and as responsive as the iPad, they will have the advantage of a more open system, but it will still have all the problems of the category. The devices will be too small and most probably heavy, the touch screens will still be greasy.

I am absolutely sure that these devices are great for some people, but I doubt that they are great for me. So, what is a device for me? I have a laptop, it is expensive, it weighs only 1.5 kg, has a resolution of 1366×768, has excellent performance and I can carry it around within the apartment. I just don’t do it.

Actually I’d like something that I can have around, that is cheap, that I can use for browsing, something that’s connected via WiFi, but nothing more. It would be fine if it were extremely light (as the Kindle), while having color, and if it has a touch screen, I want it to be not greasy. I also would like it to be non-reflective.

I recognize that I won’t get that today. Instead I’ve made an experiment. I have bought a netbook. It’s an “emachines 350“, the new low-cost brand of Acer. It sports an Atom 450 processor running at 1.66 GHz, 1Gb of memory, two USB ports, a reflective 1024×600 display and a 160 GB SATA hard drive. The whole thing weighs 1.2 kg, batteries included. That’s almost twice the weight of the iPad (almost, not really), but with the iPad already too heavy, I don’t care.

Contrary to what the emachines website says, it was offered in two flavors: 299โ‚ฌ with Windows 7 Starter, and only 229โ‚ฌ with Linpus Lite Moblin, a Linux system that has been crippled with a “customer” interface.

Well, of course I bought the Linux system, and the first thing was, to install Xubuntu 10.10 on it, my favorite “light” Linux distribution.

I downloaded the ISO image from xubuntu.com, but with the netbook having no CD drive, burning it to a CD would have been pointless. Instead I used Linux Live USB Creator (running on my Windows desktop) to make a bootable USB stick with the OS installer and the downloaded ISO image on it. Thus I only needed to reboot the netbook from USB, and then I could install the distro of my choice and make this thing a real computer.

The first problem was, how to reboot that thing. Looking around in Moblin’s user interface, I finally found how to start a terminal (under “Settings”). Below the GUI it looked more or less like a normal Linux, although there was no “shutdown” command. Thankfully “reboot” was there ๐Ÿ™‚

While it rebooted, I saw “Press F2 for setup”, and that’s what I did after the second attempt, and in BIOS setup I put the USB stick ahead of all other devices in boot order. And really, it booted from the stick, and from there it was just a normal Ubuntu installation. The graphical installer would have made the device dual-boot, but I knew I would not want to go back, and so I let it wipe the whole disk.

My wireless USB mouse worked out-of-the-box, so did networking, and the rest was just setting up my account and the user interface as on my other Linux machines. Neat.

The result of all these efforts is not an iPad killer. There is no touch screen and I am tempted to add a Logitech M505 cordless mouse. It’s one of their mice that use a miniature receiver, that can stay in the USB plug without any danger of breaking, because it is so short.

Again, this is not an iPad replacement, the screen will never rotate, regardless of how you hold the device, but it is actually much more. It is a full computer, I could even do programming on it. I can run Google Chrome, my favorite browser, and all my bookmarks, settings and extensions are synced automatically. Everything just works as on any other of my computers, and that’s how I like it.

The Song of the Day is “Harmony“, the last Song on Elton John’s 1973 masterpiece “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. Hear it on YouTube.

1381 – I See A Darkness

I’m back in Vienna. And no, I didn’t take any images. I made one though.

Do you remember Camogli? This light-flooded dream of every photographer?

Don’t ask me what I thought, don’t ask me how I feel. I’m fine ๐Ÿ™‚ I just had the desire to experiment, and to be honest, I like what I got. Beautiful Camogli, cracking and molding.

The Song of the Day is “I See A Darkness” by Johnny Cash. Hear it on YouTube.

1370 – Don’t Stop

One more image, this one is from today. Sometimes I really love my 70-300 and the compression at that focal length. How wonderful must a 400/2.8 be? But then, can you imagine me hauling such a bazooka around on the streets? No, even if we completely disregard the difference in price, I guess I can be very happy with what I have ๐Ÿ˜€

The Song of the Day is “Don’t Stop” from the 1977 Fleetwood Mac album “Rumours”. Hear it on YouTube.

1369 – Let’s Get High

No, this image was not taken with my Tamron 17-50/2.8, but I have made this post part of my review series, because I think you should know, that I have sent it in to Tamron one more time.

You remember the last time, when my bag had fallen from negligible height and the lens barrel broke? Tamron has repaired the lens, the autofocus error is gone, but instead a new problem had appeared:

Often when I turned the camera on, the first image was severely overexposed. Well, this became very frequent in the last few weeks, to an extent where I could be almost certain that the first image or even the first few images would be unusable.

Further study has revealed, that the lens fails to stop down during exposure. You know, while metering and while you look through the viewfinder, the lens is always wide open, in case of the Tamron this means f2.8. Only for the actual exposure the lens stops down to the aperture selected. Or it does not, just like mine. When that happens, the camera exposes for, say, f8, but the lens faultily stays open at f2.8. The result is an overexposure by three full stops.

Now, when I look back, this lens, while it works, is extraordinarily versatile, and the image quality is pretty good as well. On the other hand, I had this autofocus problem (that seems to have been corrected with a firmware update when I sent the lens in the last time) and now I have this problem, that makes the lens completely unusable for street photography.

Would I buy it again? Maybe. Not all of them can be that flimsy, and optically it has brought me through the dark winter like no lens before. Nikon simply has no alternative. I guess it all depends on how well the upcoming Sigma 17-50/2.8 OS will perform. It has just become available for Canon and may come out for Nikon within the next month. Less and less can I imagine to be able to resist ๐Ÿ™‚

Being without the Tamron, I had to switch to another lens, and in this case it was the Nikon 70-300 VR. For a few days I had seen this image, but the Tamron was not the right lens. This cried for a serious telephoto lens. Yesterday I finally took the image. This is one of two exposures. It’s a tad awkward standing in the middle of a crossing ๐Ÿ™‚

The Song of the Day is “Let’s Get High” from Lenny Kravitz’ 2001 album “Lenny”. Very recommendable. Hear it on YouTube.

1364 – Six O’ Clock

I do have a few images of today (well, yesterday actually, as it is 4:15 in the morning now), nothing really good, so I don’t bother spending an hour in Photoshop, trying to wrestle it into a form that I can accept. Instead I have another image from Italy, taken in Sestri Levante while we spent an hour, hungrily waiting for the first restaurants to open. But at least it was not Madrid, where you’re frowned upon, when you come as early as 9pm ๐Ÿ˜€

The Song of the Day is “Six O’ Clock” by The Lovin’ Spoonful. Ten years ago I bought a double CD with “Everything Playing” (where this is on) and “Do you Believe In Magic”. Can’t say I have heard it much, but here it is. I have no idea who’s really interested in that “Song of the Day” thing that I do, but I can tell you, I benefit greatly: I dig through my own music ๐Ÿ™‚

YouTube has the song.

1358 โ€“ Up In the Graveyard

The seventh and last post for today. Well, technically it’s already well past midnight, but what counts, is that I have caught up and it feels pretty good!

Hmm … a week of posting in one day, that is a first and probably a tad insane ๐Ÿ™‚

This is the post for today, and because I did not do much more today than working on the blog and processing images, I’ll give you three more pictures from Sunday, June 20.

These images were taken in Lorsica, a small hamlet in the Ligurian mountains, famous for its production of the finest damask. A few houses, a church, and below the road, under the street, the terraces of the graveyard. Well, I guess when you’re dead, you don’t particularly care where you rest, but anyway, what a place!

The Song of the Day is “Up In the Graveyard” from the 1994 Walkabouts album “Setting the Woods on Fire”. I couldn’t find it on YouTube, thus I have uploaded it myself.

1355 โ€“ Golden Brown

Tuesday. I haven’t been very productive this week, mostly trying to get some order into my images from Italy.

Still, I made some images, and this is again an experiment with the Nikon 70-300 VR.

It’s quite simple: put it to 300 mm and point it right into the middle of some grass, always towards the setting sun. These images, for example, were all made around 8:15 pm.

Now manually scan through the focus range … and enjoy the endless variety. Success rates are not skyrocketing, but who cares? That’s what digital cameras are for ๐Ÿ™‚

The Song of the Day is “Golden Brown“, originally from the 1981 Stranglers album “La Folie”. Hear it on YouTube.

1354 – Give Me The Simple Life

On Monday I had business near our old home, in the country (not that it’s far from where we live now), and of course I had the camera with me and took some images.

There would probably be at least two more that I were inclined to use under normal circumstances, but excuse me please, I’m in a hurry to catch up ๐Ÿ™‚

The Song of The Day is “Give Me The Simple Life“. I have it on “Twelve Nights In Hollywood”, the recently published collection of four CDs with previously unpublished material, those “Twelve Nights In Hollywood”, that were the first music, that I bought as digital downloads only.

YouTube has a later version from Montreux 1969, but it is very similar in phrasing, it won’t make that much of a difference.