About this blog

Sony NEX-5T w/ Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.4
Sony NEX-5T w/ Olympus OM Zuiko 50mm f/1.4

My name is Tom Leonard and I travel the world 30 days at a time.  I work in the Oil and Gas Industry for a service company that uses technology to help rigs all over the world safely drill and explore new depths and formations.  Traveling and the schedule are my favorite things about this job.  I work for 30 days and then I’m home for 30 days.  My time at home is my own.  No work, and all play.  As the father of 10 children and husband to a beautiful, inspiring, and supportive wife, I am blessed by God beyond anything I could have imagined. Before coming to work in Oil & Gas, I was a Network Engineer for a major communications corporation.  I discovered that as much as I love all things technical, cubicles and offices were not the stuff of my dreams.  Prior to my civilian occupations, I served in the U.S. Navy.  For nearly ten years I worked as an Electronics Technician where I repaired circuitry under a microscope.  It was during my time in the Navy that I realized my love for photography.  One of the times I was back home on leave, my Dad bought me a little Kodak 1 megapixel point and shoot digital camera.  I returned to the fleet with this new camera and on a port visit to Seattle, WA I discovered the joy and excitement that photography adds to travel.  I knew after that first trip that I wanted to invest more into this new hobby so I bought from my Dad his Nikon 950.  This provided more flexibility and higher quality photos.  The images I shot with it garnered attention from my Navy Command and they asked if I would accept an official appointment as a Command Photographer with a side job as an intelligence gathering photographer while we floated around The Gulf.  Naturally, I accepted the honor and set out to learn as much as I could from anyone who knew anything about cameras and photography.  On a trip to Mumbai, India, I picked up a photography text book from a hotel gift shop.  This book, by John Hedgecoe, became my primary source of learning.  I read and re-read every single page of it.  I learned early on that good understanding and technique is fundamental to making consistently good images.  I used to work out my good-to-bad shot ratio to measure my improvement.  When I first started doing this, I was averaging about 1 in 100 which could be chalked up to simple probability.  The more I learned and understood the hows and whys of photography, the more frequently I saw good images.  My goal was to reach 1 in 10. Today, I no longer keep score of my images but I can certainly see how that exercise quantified for me my development and it made every image I shot, good or bad, a learning tool.  Am I guru now as a result of all this?  Certainly not, but I do now enjoy photography more than ever because it has become purely a creative exercise, and the world is my playground. I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy sharing it with you.

Tom

P.S.  Dad, thanks for the free camera.

If you need to contact me directly, please feel free to send me an email.

Advertisements

24 thoughts on “About this blog

  1. Hey Tommy…Keep up with the blogging! I enjoy seeing what you’re up to and, as always, I love love love your pictures!!! Can’t wait to see y’all soon!!!
    Love, Sis

    Like

  2. I’m really glad you like it! This whole blogging thing is new to me. It’s quite nice in that it’s not as invasive as social networks yet it still provides an outlet for sharing the photos I make. It really is depressing to spend so much time and money on my craft, knowing that the likely end-result is a silent file tucked away on a hard drive where no one can see it. Now I have a way to put it out there. If people like it, GREAT. If not, that’s still better than rotting away unseen on my hard drive.

    Like

  3. Congrats on having one of your posts (Lemonade) on Petapixel which is how I found your blog. The moment I saw the black and white image of the bird on the no swimming sign I knew it was taken on Galveston island and that peaked my interest since I live hear by in Houston.

    The blog name finally clicked that you worked a 30 on 30 off shift in the petroleum/energy industry. I’m also a photographer (since 2008) and I’ve worked in the petroleum/energy industry since 1988 for Era Aviation, Rowan Companies and now Pacific Drilling Services.

    Reading your bio and seeing your camera progression sounded a whole lot like my story. I started with a Sony P&S and then moved to Canon APSC DSLRs (40D & 7D) then to a full frame Canon 6D and now I’m on to a Fulji X-T1 mirrorless camera using a few vintage Canon FD manual focus lenses and I love it.

    Great blog (I’ve subscribed to it using Feedly/RSS) and look forward to reading more posts and you never know, one day I may see on Galveston island or on an offshore rig.

    Like

  4. Thanks Dan! Glad to know you’re now following this blog!

    I was very happy to have Petapixel take interest in one of my posts. We, as photographers, spend so much time on our craft. It’s always nice to receive some form of validation for the effort.
    Most of the times I visit Texas I’m working out of Houston. Next time I’m there, I’ll have to hit you up. Maybe grab a coffee and you can show me the good sites to visit in the city.

    Cheers,

    Tom

    Like

  5. The book is called ‘The Photographer’s Handbook by John Hedgecoe’. I did a search for it and found there is a 3rd Edition available (ISBN 0679742042). Mine was a 2nd Edition. The photos in the book are pretty dated but they do illustrate his teaching very well. This book was instrumental in teaching me the fundamentals of photography. If you use or plan to use Photoshop, Scott Kelby’s many Photoshop books are likewise very well done. He, like Hedgecoe, is very good at delivering the most useful information with the least amount of words. I can’t stand reading a book by an obviously intelligent person who writes in their area of expertise solely for the sake of asserting their own intellect onto the reader. They’re the most difficult sort of writers from which to glean anything useful.

    Hope the info helps you out.

    Cheers,
    Tom

    Like

  6. Great article Tom. Would you still recommend the same lenses for a Sony A6000, bearing in mind the crop factor.

    Like

  7. Nino,
    Thanks for your feedback and question. I would recommend these manual lenses for the A6000 since it has the built-in EVF like the A7 series. The EVF with Focus Peaking enabled makes it a breeze to get your shot in perfect focus. I will warn you there is a learning curve to shooting with the manual lenses but once you get past the initial stage of familiarity, you’ll likely find that you prefer it. To get the most from this setup, set your camera to manual exposure mode and set ISO to auto. Set your aperture on the lens and use your shutter speed wheel to control movement and ISO. What I mean by that last statement is that depending on your aperture you have set, and the focal length of your lens and whether or not your on a tripod, those things will dictate your shutter speed which in effect will call for an auto ISO setting to accommodate all of that. Example: I have a 50mm lens set to f8. It’s an hour before sunset and I’m shooting without a tripod. I know that in order to hand hold that 50mm I’ll need at least a shutter speed of 1/60 sec. Depending on the amount of light available to me, my ISO may automatically have to raise above the default lowest setting. As long as I’m aware of that, I’m good. If low ISO is my priority for the shot, then I may need to either open up the aperture or slow down the shutter (bracing the camera) in order to keep my ISO from increasing. Make sense?
    With your crop factor, just make sure you account for that in your lens selection. I suspect you’ll get really sharp images using the middle of the lens. I would recommend any of the Minolta MD mount lenses I’ve reviewed here as a good starting point. The MD mount lenses, unlike the A-mount, have an aperture ring on the lens. This makes it much easier to be objective with your camera exposure setup. The A-mount, Nikon F- mount G, and Canon EF lenses all have no aperture ring on the lens and so you control the aperture from the adapter. I haven’t seen any of the aperture control mount adapters that include labeled, click stop control. It’s just a smooth operating dial with no indication of your actual aperture setting. Since the cameras shows you real time the effect of your aperture setting, you know the depth of field resulting from your aperture adjustment so it doesn’t really effect anything other than my desire to know what my aperture is set to.

    Hope the info helps you make a decision. With how inexpensive these lenses and adapters are, its pretty hard to go wrong.

    Like

  8. Wow what a reply. Thank you so very much for such an in depth response. It is very much appreciated. I will now start looking fir some quality lenses that you recommend. Living in Australia I do not think I should have too many problems. Thank you once again.

    Like

  9. Hi Tom,

    I found your site while researching if my Minolta lens collection and the Sony LA-EA4 adapter would be a good companion to an A7 body. I really do not want to spend more money and time building another lens collection.

    I spent way too much time here today and shirked my other duties. It was time well spent. I’ll be back!!

    BTW, you have a beautiful family!

    Like

  10. Hi Russell,

    Thanks for visiting Outfor30! I hope you found some useful information and ideas. You’ve got a heck of a camera with the A7, and you’re off to a great start with a collection of Minoltas. If you ever have questions, I’d be glad to help out in any way I’m able.

    Cheers,

    Tom

    Like

  11. Hey,

    Just thought I’d say what a great blog you got going on! Great work!

    I stumbled across your blog whilst researching lenses. I’m in a similar position to you work wise, I’ve always carried my Canon G1X around with me, gradually experimenting and teaching myself. After a recent trip to Indonesia I’ve finally taken the plunge and ordered myself the new A6300. Just now trying to work out which lens to opt for, torn between the Zeis 35/2.8 in your article and the Zeis 55/1.8. Also searching Amazon this second for the book you recommend!

    Any ways keep up the great work!

    Andy

    Like

  12. Andy,

    Thanks for your comments. It’s always nice to see some of the information on this site is helpful to a fellow photographer. Have you considered using manual focus lenses? There are a lot of stellar lenses that can be had for a fraction of the cost of some of the new lenses. For example, I recently bought a Minolta Rokkor 20mm f/2.8 for $275 at a local camera shop. The lens is incredibly sharp and colorful for so little (relatively speaking) money. I would put its sharpness right alongside any of the modern lenses I’ve owned/tried. The thing it has that the new stuff didn’t is great color. There is something to be said for the decades of photographers who’ve talked about “Minolta color” when they’re describing their lens. That 20mm would be equivalent to a 30mm on your A6300; a good walk-around or landscape focal length. That lens also lets you get in very close to your subject. Bokeh is smooth and non-distracting and, with the hood on, it handles bright sunlight very well. I’m currently in Norway and I’ve brought the 20mm with me. If I get a chance to shoot anything interesting with it, I’ll post some images and a review of it.

    Cheers,

    Tom

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for the advice, I’ve recently acquired a Rokkor 50 1.4 for that exact reason, it’s in great condition and I got it for a great price! Keeping my eye out for the 20mm that you suggest in your comment. Think I’m also going to get the Sony 35mm as a starter to, just for the occasions when I want the autofocus. Once again thanks for the invaluable advice and keep up the great work!

    Andy

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Glad to hear you found some useful information here. You may have seen in my posts from Alaska that I had purchased the Sony Zeiss 35mm f/2.8. It is a small, lightweight, fast-focusing lens that produces technically sharp images. I wound up selling mine back. Though it was a good lens, I found it to be a bit too sterile for my taste. Since then, I’ve had a chance to try out the Zeiss Loxia 35mm f/2 and I find it much more suited to my taste. It costs more than the Sony and is manual focus but it’s capable of producing what I’m after. Also on the list is the Canon FD 35mm f/2 SSC, an old manual focus lens that gets a lot of good reviews. I own the Canon FD 85mm f/1.2 SSC and it is a heck of a good lens. Figure the 35mm from the same era might be just as good at 1/10th the price of the Loxia. Within the next few weeks, I’ll pull the trigger on either the Zeiss or the Canon and will post some photos. Let me know what you think of the Sony 35mm if you get it. Maybe I’m just getting narrow-minded and missed a real gem.

    Tom

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi,
    Nice blog and photos. I found it following some Rokkor thread or another. I shoot and love Rokkor too. I inherited a few lenses from my father and grandfather. Incredible quality. Enjoyed the Norwegian photos as I have family connections there. BTW, since you are used to taking your lenses apart, did you know you can open up the aperture on the 35-70 one more stop at 35mm? Keep up the good work.

    Like

  16. Hi Robert,

    I’m really glad to hear that you’ve found some things of interest here. That makes it all worth the effort to keep posting when I know it’s being enjoyed.

    I’ve considered converting my 35-70mm to 2.8 but just haven’t thought about it in awhile. The extra bit of light wouldn’t hurt in some situations as long as it doesn’t degrade the image quality too much at that setting. I think you’ve given me a good project and comparison test to do when I return from my trip here in Egypt. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Tom,
    I don’t remember how I found your blog, but I’m glad I did. I have an old camera bag full of an Olympus OM1, and several lenses, that served well for a long time, was superseded by various other cameras now long sold off, but I could never bring myself to get rid of my old, dented OM1. (It fell off the back of a truck long ago in the Rockies, took the shock on the corner by the film crank, and wasn’t bothered a bit by the experience.) After reading some of your lens adventures, I ordered an adapter for my much-maligned Canon M series camera, and will try out these Oly lenses, which as far as I can tell are in perfect condition. Thanks for the inspiration. I’m looking forward to seeing the world again through these lenses.
    -Jay Styron

    Like

  18. Excellent to hear, Jay. A bag full of Olys and mirrorless camera sounds like a whole heap of fun to me. I do hope you find some gems in there that will reinvigorate your excitement in using them. I’d love to hear back from you about how you like using them.

    Cheers,

    Tom Leonard

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Tom,
    Just wanted to say this is such a fantastic blog you’ve set up, after finding your post on how to remove lens fungus on petapixel I traced it to here, and just by reading the introduction I’ve already become hooked. I will deffinately be following in future, as a beginner photographer your insight and expertise makes it a lot easier to learn new things, keep up the great work!
    Owen.

    Like

  20. Hi Owen,

    I’m so glad you’ve found OutFor30 and have found some things of interest here. It is my intention that this website be a source of uplifting and inspirational information regarding travel, photography and the equipment we use in our craft. If you ever have questions that you think I might be able to help with, feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly via the link to my email on the “About This Blog” page. Until then, happy browsing!

    Tom

    Like

  21. Hello Tom,

    I recently found your blog through an article on Petapixel about the innovative solution to zoom from Minolta – fascinating! But I can understand why it did not catch on.

    My story is a million miles from yours in one way but there are some interesting points that sort of merge. My interest in photography is all the fault of my maternal grandfather, who took me into his makeshift darkroom back in the late 1950’s when I was 7 or 8 years old and let me enlarge and develop some B&W prints. From that I was hooked! Against all parental advice I left school and did an apprenticeship in photography, but after I finished I realised that the chances of me getting a job as a replacement for David Bailey was remote. So I ended up doing a degree in computer science, which as it turned out was useful as photography moved into the digital realm. (Think single board computers for image processing etc.)

    Which got me too the point where I had a bit more money to spend on important equipment aka Boys Toys. I was also able to use my photography skills to promote whatever it was I was doing over 45+ year career.

    I am now retired and making a real nuisance of myself. Over the years I have owned way too many cameras and lenses, film and now digital! I have a serious problem in that I have a bad case of EAS, Equipment Acquisition Syndrome. In the past I sold cameras to buy others but now I wish I still had the ones I sold, so now I don’t sell any.

    In the mid 80’s I bought the Minolta Autofocus system aka Dynax, so of the 4 Minolta lenses you bought I own 3 of them I bought New! From Minolta I added the Sony Alpha digital cameras as I already had a load of glass. I have one of the Sony SLT cameras but I am having a love hate relationship with the electronic viewfinder which is why I have not gone more mirror less apart from a Fuji compact as a pocket camera. I am having another love hate relationship with a Nikon DSLR at the moment but that is yet another story.

    Tom your photos are just fantastic, so more success to you. I love the fact that you are finding the benefits of the old lenses, physics has not changed, so lenses are more about marketing BS that anything IMHO. A good lens yesterday is still a good lens today as long as it has been cared for. Please whisper and don’t shout about this or the prices on eBay will go through the roof! It has been a pleasure to read your articles and see your pictures, you have a lovely family. Just keep on enjoying the ride my friend!

    Regards Jim Strutton, Lydiard Tregoze, Swindon, Wiltshire, England.

    Like

  22. Mr. Strutton,

    I’m so glad you’ve found OutFor30 and enjoyed it’s content. I appreciate you sharing a bit about yourself and your own history with photography. It seems like most of us with a keen interest in this craft have the tendency to acquire gear – part of the fun, isn’t it? A few years ago, when I shifted my focus to old lenses, it felt like uncovering buried treasures. I’d regularly visit local camera shops to dig through bins of old lenses, buying any that had a good feel to them. That’s when I found that the Minolta SR and Olympus OM lenses were truly exceptional, even by modern standards. I couldn’t get over how cheap they were either, compared to what I was used to paying for Nikon, Sony, and Zeiss.
    Regarding the mirrorless options out there and getting used to the EVF, I would encourage you – if you haven’t already – to go try out a Sony A7II or A7RII. The EVF they put in these finally clinched it for me. I never thought I’d prefer EVF to the OVFs I cut my teeth on with Nikon. For shooting manual focus and/or anything which benefits from the close scrutiny, Sony’s latest EVFs are tops. They feel big inside with full frame coverage that makes it no longer feel like I’m looking at a tiny TV under a magnifying glass. The focus peaking and programmable buttons for controlling zoom-in of focus points makes shooting MF a breeze and quite good fun. If you haven’t yet read the post about the Egyptian street wedding, I encourage you to give it a look. It goes into a little bit of detail of the EVF and how I used it to tackle a challenging night of shooting the craziest wedding I’ve ever seen. Under those conditions, I proved at least to myself just how practical a good EVF can be when shooting MF lenses.

    If you ever have any ideas for things you’d like to see here on OutFor30, I’m always open to the suggestions.

    All the best,

    Tom Leonard

    Like

Feel free to leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s