Little Things in Spring

I’ve been home now for the past week and have taken a few hours each day to get outside on our property to do some much needed stress management.  Photography is something I find very relaxing and helpful in getting work off the brain.  Since spring has sprung here in Florida, and the weather is pleasant, I didn’t even need to go far to find subjects that are interesting, beautiful, and challenging to shoot.  Rummaging around in the lens cabinet, I pulled out the following lenses for these backyard exercises in relaxation:

  • Minolta AF 100mm Macro f/2.8 (1:1 reproduction ratio)
  • Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f/3.5 Macro (1:2 reproduction ratio)
  • Kiron 70-150mm f/4 (Minolta SR Mount)
  • Minolta MD 200mm f/2.8
  • Minolta 300-S 2x Teleconverter (for use with the 200mm)

At the edge of the woods grow a few Red Bottlebrush plants which have recently begun sprouting new flowers.  These plants are magnets for butterflies and hummingbirds.

Sony A7RII w/ Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f/3.5 Macro

 

Once the last buds drop off, the flower looks to me like one of those Chinese dragons or lions you see in New Year parades.

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD 200mm f/2.8 + Minolta 300-S 2x Tele-Converter (400mm equiv.)

I spotted a few hummingbirds making regular pitstops at these bottlebrush flowers so I decided to work my way closer and closer to the plant, trying to get near enough for a decent photo.  After about an hour of standing there with my heavy lens and several failed attempts at capturing a decent image of these speedy, little buggers, I was about to call it quits to go find something else easier to shoot.  Then it happened!  A tiny, brightly colored bird flew up to the Bottlebrush and landed on one of the branches.  I quickly spotted that it was not a hummingbird but something totally different; something I’ve never seen before.  A northern parula (Setophaga americana) has decided to take refuge in our area!  This is a boy and he’s in full breeding plumage.  If you’re a regular reader of OutFor30, you’ll know that bird photography and I have a long, decidedly unsuccessful record.  To have this bold little bird land so carefree in front of me, and then give me 2-3 minutes of easy shooting, was just eye-wateringly satisfying.  The lighting was quite poor in the shade but the excellent high ISO capability of the A7R MKII made it quite manageable to get some usable images at ISO 2000+.  All the images of this bird were shot wide-open at f/2.8 (f/5.6 equivalent with the teleconverter).  It was a bit of a handful keeping track of him with a manual focus lens but I did still manage to bag a number of keepers.

 

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD 200mm f/2.8 + Minolta 300-S 2x Tele-Converter (400mm equiv.)

 

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD 200mm f/2.8 + Minolta 300-S 2x Tele-Converter (400mm equiv.)

 

His head goes slightly out of focus but I still love this image for the dramatic pose.  I predict an auto-focusing 400mm f/2.8 lens in my future.

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD 200mm f/2.8 + Minolta 300-S 2x Tele-Converter (400mm equiv.)

 

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD 200mm f/2.8 + Minolta 300-S 2x Tele-Converter (400mm equiv.)

 

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD 200mm f/2.8 + Minolta 300-S 2x Tele-Converter (400mm equiv.)

 

After capturing such a vibrantly colored bird, this common titmouse seems so plain but I’ll take what I can get.  These past few weeks have been the most positive I’ve ever had photographing living things – besides people and the house cat.  The birds around the house in North Carolina were less skittish than the ones here in Florida so I’m not exactly sure what’s changed and why the sudden turn to success but I’m really enjoying the mess out of it.

 

Sony A7RmkII w/ Minolta MD 200mm f/2.8 + Minolta 300-S 2x Tele-Converter (400mm equiv.)

 

It’s pretty hard to top the first few photos in this post but I’ve got a few more at least worth sharing.  Beauty can be found anywhere just by simply studying the little things and how amazingly detailed and wonderfully designed they are.

Take for example this close-up of a teaspoon sized cluster of fungus growing on a fallen tree.  To the naked eye, these tiny red caps are no bigger than a grain of salt. Put a 1:1 reproduction ratio macro lens between your face and the microscopic world and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how much fascinating life there exists in such common places.

Sony A7RmkII w/ AF Minolta 100mm Macro f/2.8

On this little twig grows another community of marvelously strange fungal growths.

Sony A7RmkII w/ AF Minolta 100mm Macro f/2.8

 

One of my kids commented on how this fungus looks like something you’d see growing in the ocean.

Sony A7RmkII w/ AF Minolta 100mm Macro f/2.8

 

On our property, and in most of Florida, Tillandsia (air plants) abound.  They propagate by means of a long stemmed seed capsule they produce which when it finally opens, ejects these hair-like seeds into the wind.

Sony A7RmkII w/ AF Minolta 100mm Macro f/2.8

 

Sony A7RmkII w/ AF Minolta 100mm Macro f/2.8

 

A simple photo of a near-perfect Knockout Rose bud.

Sony A7RII w/ Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f/3.5 Macro

 

These roses really are knockouts once the bud finally reveals what they’ve had growing inside them over the past few weeks.

Sony A7RmkII w/ AF Minolta 100mm Macro f/2.8

 

It’s too early in the year to flower but this fuzzy bud is hard at work growing a huge, white Southern magnolia flower.  Right now, it may look like a tree covered in little orange cats but come summer the heavy, thick-petaled flowers will blossom and release the most intoxicatingly sweet aroma – the smell of the South.  The best magnolias grow in the hills of North Carolina… sorry Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi, it’s just true.

Sony A7RmkII w/ AF Minolta 100mm Macro f/2.8

 

Brand new leaves on an oak tree – hopefully this means we’re on the downward side of pollen covering everything outside.

Sony A7RII w/ Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f/3.5 Macro

 

Sony A7R II w/ Kiron 70-150mm f/4 (MD Mount)

 

Even the large cacti in the front yard are sprouting new growth.  In a few weeks these buds will eventually flower, beautifully decorating this otherwise unfriendly plant.

Sony A7R II w/ Kiron 70-150mm f/4 (MD Mount)

 

That’s all for tonight.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the photos and they brought a little cheer to your day.

 

 

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10 thoughts on “Little Things in Spring

  1. I have not been following your blog closely but have you moved from NC to Florida? You purchased an Olympus lens from me when you lived in NC. I really enjoy your blogs and they inspire me to go out and create images again. I recently acquired a Minolta MC Rokkor 28 f2.5 IS lens. What are your thoughts on this lens? Is it a keeper?

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  2. You have done it again, not only have you shown me another lens to compliment my LBD, but a smack of inspiration was thrown my way. Excellent shots, just excellent. I just bought a Minolta Macro 50mm f3.5 with the adapter to start my adventures in the “back 40”. I will have to keep an eye out for something with a longer reach though. I am north of the 49th, so I have some time yet. Thank You for the inspiration…

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  3. Tom- These are simply amazingly good photos…. you have an unmatched eye and talent for seeing just the perfect composition- and you absolutely know how to get the best out of your equipment.
    Simply Perfection.

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  4. Hi Ron,

    So good to hear from you and to hear you’re out shooting for your own enjoyment. The lens you got is definitely a keeper. It is the typical top-of-the-line build quality we expect from Minolta’s legacy lenses. Interestingly, a lot of people get rid of this lens due to the yellowing of the optical elements. To improve the refraction index of the optics, Minolta used some Thoriated glass which over time the radiation from it will yellow the balsam used to cement elements together. The goods news is, it is relatively simple to fix with a healthy dose of UV light. Both copies I’ve owned of the Minolta Rokkor 58mm f/1.2 had the same issue. I used the simplest method of exposing them to very direct sunlight, even applying some shiny tinfoil to the backside of the lens to reflect the light back through the glass. After a few hours of this treatment, the balsam cement was crystal clear again. Alternatively, you can use a high-power UV light over the course of several hours to achieve the same thing. Do please let me know how you like the lens once you’ve had a chance to put it to some use!

    Tom

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  5. Randy,
    I’m always happy to hear when the content on this blog serves to inspire and motivate the good folks who take time to visit. If you’re looking for a top-notch longer focal length macro, I cannot recommend anything better than the Minolta AF 100mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro. Sony rebadged this lens and still sells it to this day for WAY more $$$ than a good used Minolta. I use a dumb metal A-mount to E-mount adapter (mounts lens and provides manual aperture control of this gelded lens) for my A7RII so I don’t get autofocus and I wouldn’t use it even if I did have the ability. Twist the lens focus ring all the way to the 1:1 position and just move in and out with the camera to establish focus of the subject. I’ll add, too, that this lens is excellent for portraits. I think I paid around $250 for mine. Not too much longer and you’ll have a beautiful spring headed your way. Do please let me know how you get on with that Minolta 50mm macro.

    Tom

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  6. Tom
    I could not wait get out and test drive the Minolta 50mm. While on line I saw a Minolta SRT 101 with 2 Minolta and 2 Tokina lenses. I asked if he would separate the Tokina’s as I had the Minolta’s- he would. I did my research on the Tokina’s and bought them. A 4 hour drive for me. What I got was a 28mm f2.8 and a 90mm f2.5 complete with extender tube, case’s and original instructions. Pristine condition! Wait for it….for $135.00cad. I have since arranged to sell the 28 (for $35) as I have a nice 28mm Minolta. (which I might sell as I have a Minolta 24mm) Now I’m ready to go out! The weather just broke and we are into good temps now.

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  7. Randy,
    Excellent find for a great price and just in time for some pleasant shooting weather. I think you’re going to have a lot of fun with the Tokina 90mm; that lens has a very good reputation. Do please let me know how you get on with your new lenses once you’ve had a chance to put them through their paces.

    Tom

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