Microcosm

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Two and one are here

Sanctuary here, and joy

Sun and moon, and more

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This photo, as I worked on it and after, sent me into a reflection on life and its symbols. So many aspects. So many important things.

What do you see here?

Our Own Camino Santiago

Anita on our scary Day 2 crossing the Pyrenees into Spain, complete with fog, rain, ice pellets, wind and snow. Luckily, not all at the same time.
Anita on our scary day 2 crossing the Pyrenees into Spain, complete with fog, rain, ice pellets, wind and snow. Luckily, not all at the same time.

I’ve been largely out of WordPress touch since the last week of April, when Anita and I flew to France to begin our first Camino Santiago. We chose the Camino Frances, which is the most popular. We also chose not to walk all of the 780 kilometers (485 miles) from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela near the NW coast of Spain.

We walked some of the most difficult stages, such as the first stage from France through the Cize Passes to Roncesvalles, following the route taken by Charlemagne in the 8th C and Napoleon Bonaparte in the 19th. Not counting sightseeing we walked almost 200 km in about 15 different bits.

Staying in the Hotel Roncesvalles (on the left) next to the collegiate church, was a good move. Three heaters in our suite and a huge tiled shower area made cleaning our mud-soaked gear a lot easier. After the 10 hour ordeal from Orisson this was a merciful place to stay.
Staying in the Hotel Roncesvalles (on the left) next to the collegiate church, was a good move. Three heaters in our suite and a huge tiled shower area made cleaning our mud-soaked gear a lot easier. After the 10 hour ordeal from Orisson this was a merciful place to stay. Yes, that’s snow…
We chose to do it this way because, as a couple, we have physical limitations that would have put our long-term fitness at risk if we had walked the whole way and because we wanted to have the energy to sight-see primarily in Pamplona, Estella, Burgos and León along the way. I joke that there were three in our party: Anita, my camera and I. A total love for Spain and its incomparably rich and crazy history was a major inspiration for me.
I will admit right away that this is not the “purest” way of doing the Camino Frances. Some will argue that one must do Le Chemin de Saint-Jacques in its totality, walking every inch and carrying all one’s necessities all the way. Some take no photos. Some take one photo at the beginning and one at the end. A few whip their backs in penance carrying a cross as they trudge the Way of Saint James (we didn’t see any of this particularly tiny subgroup). I respect each individual’s camino. There are as many camino choices as there are pilgrims. If you choose to judge ours… so be it.
We happen to think that ours was everything we hoped for and more.  A thorough itinerary of our trip, including our chosen refugios, pensións, casa rurales, hotels, public buses taken, walk lengths will follow soon. We were on the camino from April 25 until May 16, when we arrived at the pilgrim office in Santiago de Compostela to be congratulated and get our Compostelas, the documents that certify that one has completed the pilgrimage on foot. We traveled the last 113 kilometers across Galícia from Sarria to Santiago completely on foot and, by so doing,  qualified for our Compostelas. We added 4 nights in Santiago and three nights in Bilbao to the trip, flying home from the latter on May 23.
I share this stuff with you in the hope that  you will find something useful or inspiring here. Continue reading “Our Own Camino Santiago”

Light Coloured Mallard Duck – A Better Shot

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I’ve seen this rare female mallard every day. Finally took my NEX-5N to get a better shot than the one i took with my ipod Touch. Should have used the 200 mm lens but the camera fits in my pocket with its 18-50 mm lens. Next time I’ll get serious and bring the old MAXXUM 5D with its 300 mm lens.

Had to use manual focus on this shot. She didn’t cooperate by staying put so I had to move along a steep, icy bank and shoot between bushes. This is where a proper viewfinder is better. The screen is hard to use in a tricky situation, especially when evaluating the sharpness of your subject in MF assist.

The two ducks turned out to be in the bottom left of the photo, so I finished this by cropping.
It’s hard to tell, but I think the lack of sharpness is more a limitation of the lens since the birds were 60 feet away, but I really felt I was guessing at the best focus with the MF assist feature.

Anyway, the photo ain’t bad, and it is an interesting duck, AND I didn’t slip down the slope into the icy water! Bonus!

Slow Shutter Speed

Small Waterfall in Our Woods
Small Waterfall in Our Woods

My first successful experiment with long exposure times. I like the silken look of the water in this and the lack of obvious scale. It’s pretty hard to tell how big or small the waterfall is. Gotta say I didn’t stay out too long as it was threatening rain (I felt a few drops). This was taken with my old Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D SLR using a Tamron f 2.8 90 mm macro lens and shutter speed priority. Exposure: 1 s, f-stop 29, ISO 100. I used a tripod and a cable shutter release and manual focusing. Tried different exposure times; this one worked best. Continue reading “Slow Shutter Speed”

How Many Berries?

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This is the same photo taken this morning in slight fog simply cropped and uncropped. Think I like the uncropped version best. I limited myself to 5:4 ratio in portrait orientation for the crop. Other details:

  • Sony NEX-5N camera
  • Foc. Length 54 mm
  • Aperture Priority f 5.6 (maximum allowable on Sony’s E 18-55mm lens
  • Exposure correction -0.3 EV
  • Polarizing filter – forgot it was on there, hence not adjusted. I was rushed…
  • Manual focus using MF assist
  • Camera selected 1/100th s and ISO 640.

Let me know what you think about the crops or anything else, other than… I know… the rushing, please.

Berries Crop 1
Berries Crop 2

OK, I’m A Geek

SONY NEX-5N, 210 mm, 1/400s, f 6.3, ISO 800, MF assist

Bought a new SONY NEX-5N camera a month or two ago. Spent a couple of weeks testing it and decided to keep it. Having some regard for the planet (and my bank balance) I do not upgrade electronics just because something better has just come out, and I spent some time agonizing over the things the NEX-5N  wouldn’t do that my old Konica-Minolta Maxxum 5D digital SLR would.

The answer, after a time-consuming comparison: not much. Continue reading “OK, I’m A Geek”