Panorama Vista Photo Outing

Bakersfield is dry. The only water not miles under the earth mixed with oil is the Kern River which flows from the man-made Lake Isabella Dam. Contrary to popular belief, there are hills in Bakersfield. This hill is more of a cliff.

Saturday I trekked out in the 108 degree heat to make some images. Unfortunately I didn’t have a telephoto to really reach out and show the expanse of oil wells. I did make some images worth sharing.

Panorama Vista Reserve

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My new lens: Canon 40mm f2.8 STM Pancake

My new lens

When I read Canon was releasing a new pancake lens for the EF lens systems, I couldn’t stop myself. I had sold some previous lenses and picked up the lens from B & H Photo. Initially I was confused that the lens wouldnt not manually overcome autofocus when set on auto focus — even when twisting the focus ring. I posted thoughts along these lines on Flickr, only to be corrected.

In fact the lens can override autofocus provided you keep the shutter depressed halfway. This is much different from my other collection of USM and L Canon EF Lenses.

I took the lens with me to our softball game tonight, and came up with some images worth sharing.

Rain Storm Softball

Softball Bleacher

Softball Field Sunset

Softball Field Sunset

HDR Bakersfield photos

While on Safari in Bakersfield last weekend, I stuck my head in the optical viewfinder of my new long telephoto lens for some fun Bird photographs. One thing that lent itself to the quality of those bird images was the quality of light. I took the chance with my new, smaller Olympus camera with its wide angle pancake lens to take a stab at some HDR images.

Hope you enjoy as much as I did when tweaking the levels of tones in these sandwiched images to make some beyond realistic compositions.

If you didn’t already realize it you can click on these images. They will take you to my Flickr page where you can see even bigger versions.



Most of my bird photographs were taken in this drying wetland pictured from a much wider angle in the photo below:





There is a lot going on in this image I made below with my larger telephoto lens.

  • Oil pump bobbing up and down,
  • Winds blowing a dust storm in the background,
  • Carrot harvesting in the mid ground,
  • Tumbleweeds on the right,
  • A field of carrots ready to harvest in the foreground,

This is the industry of Kern County:
This is Kern County


I know I live somewhere where it rarely rains and we hardly ever see clouds. But I could look at these images for a long time.

On safari in Bakersfield

Saturday I spent some time with my new lens. Bakersfield has many watershed areas. Some are for flood control, others are reservoirs for farmers who store water to irrigate in dry times. This is a dry time. We haven’t had any significant rain for nearly a year.

This gave me a good chance to take some photographs of some of Kern County’s resident feathered creatures.

Bakersfield wetland drying up


This first bird, some type of bird of prey, I’m unable to identify. If you know it, please share in the comments.

American Kestrel looking very colorful on the power lines.




This Turkey Vulture didn’t land close enough for me to get any close ups, but looked majestic in the wind.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture Wingspan

There was a very large flock of Egrets clinging to the last remnants of water in the quickly drying marsh.

Great Egret and Snowy Egrets in flight over Bakersfield

Great Egret in flight

Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets

Great Egret in flight

Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets

Great Egrets sparring

Great Egret in Flight over Bakersfield

There are dozens of different gulls in Bakersfield, but I enjoyed the quality of light here.

Gulls in flight over Bakersfield

Surprise, these are not ducks. They are American Coots.

American Coots in Bakersfield marsh


Killdeer in Bakersfield marsh

Killdeer in Bakersfield marsh

Linking the new Olympus PEN with my Olympus past

Over the holidays I grew tired of lugging around 10+ pounds of photo equipment on the chance that I might make the chance make some photos. I found myself making excuses why I wouldn’t, rather than making good opportunities to take pictures. I ended up taking more pictures with my less than awe-inspiring camera phone.

Why? Because it was there, easy to carry and was bundled with something I use to keep me connected at all times anyhow.

I had heard a few years ago of systems that were being developed and with my combined birthday and Christmas gifts, and the generous giving of family and friends I picked up an Olympus Micro Four Thirds Camera, the E-PL3.

OM1 and EPL3

It reminds me, slightly, of my original Olympus OM-1. That 35mm film camera was given to me by my father when I was 12 or 13. With that camera I made some great memories of high school and college. I learned about depth of field, shutter speed, pushing and pulling black and white film and how that decisive moment when you fire the shutter can help to produce a variety of images.

Now I’m able to take that feeling of the manual focus camera and use it on today’s technology. It isn’t quite the same, and the lenses that are built for the micro four thirds system are infinitely more pocketable.

I’ve picked up a few pancake lenses to take with me. Three lenses, two batteries and the bag weight less than just the body on my Canon 7-D with the lightest lens I have.

I’m hoping to make some great images in 2012.

14mm Panasonic Lumix on E-PL3

Test of: Exposing to the Right with Olympus PEN system

As I first read here, Exposing to the right is an interesting theory. I had to test it.

I posted this at and decided to make it more publicly available.

Coming from a film training background, and shooting in raw ever since my 20d seven years ago; I first learned of Exposing to the right via and pekkapotka.

No way, I thought. That can’t be true. I liked the grit of my old TMAX3200 at concerts in Los Angeles. I always underexposed. It worked.

I was determined to prove someone wrong about ETTR. It turns out, I only proved myself wrong.

I performed this test on a stairway at home.

I did this test handheld, at night, with one light source at ISO 1600. Given my one week of experience with the PEN system so far, I expect lots of chunky grainy noise as the ISO is pushed higher.

Under these circumstances, ETTR shines as the way to shoot RAW for: low light, handheld, high iso. Feel free to click through and check my EXIF data.

And yes, my focus point changed for the correctly metered image, giving a softness to the detail area, but for the purpose of illustrating ETTR, it wasn’t necessary to shoot again.

All of these images have zero post processing other than adjusting 1 exposure to compensate for the over / underexposure in ACR. No sharpening, nothing.

First, exposed to the left:

Just like I learned on my first Olympus OM-1 in grade school. Sometimes you gotta under expose. And the result:
Exposed to the Left

Ah the noise, so familiar.

Second: Exposed like a meter reader must:

Exposed even

Not bad. Not sharp either. But were looking at detail here.

Third: Exposed to the right like a mad scientist:

Exposed to the Right

What the What? That worked?

What, you say? You want detail? OK.

100 percent crop of all three are here for your review

Exposed to the left:
Exposed to the Left 100% Detail

Exposed center:
Correct exposure 100% detail

Exposed to the right:
Exposed to the Right 100% detail

Just a reminder, to make it more clear.

These were 3 different raw files. I used the same aperture and adjusted shutter speed to expose to the right and the left of correct exposure — according to meter — by one stop.

Each file was then pushed or pulled one stop in Adobe Camera Raw, depending on which direction it needed to go, to return to what normal would have been. The then correctly exposed image remains unmodified.

Proof enough for me. Won’t use it all the time. But this experiment was well worth it for me. Certainly a test worth trying for yourself if you have an Olympus PEN system.

My new favorite camera bag: Domke F6

Domke F6 Little Bit Smaller
Nice solid clips

I am pretty good at finding almost anything on the internet. Chances are, if I am going to be involved, was involved or am thinking about becoming involved in something — I have looked it up online.

I searched the internet for hours — not hyperbole here — looking for a Domke bag that would fit a 7D, 50D, 40d…. any of that family of camera with the battery grip attached and a 16-35mm f2.8 lens attached.

I couldn’t find a single image. There were lots of close bags. but not the F6 with my requiremets.

The closest I found was a forum of photographers talking about which Domke they recommended and photos of cameras placed lens-down body-back up in several types on domke bags. I would never feel safe toting a camera around like that.

Domke F6 Little Bit Smaller
Just about as wide as a full-sized computer keyboard

I have had the Domke j2 ballistic bag for the past seven years and still love that bag, but it was a little too big. I rarely used the side pockets unless i was traveling. I also wanted something a little less black and a little less camera bag looking.

So I went for the olive-colored Domke F6, also known as the Little Bit Smaller Domke. I packed it up with my 7D with a battery grip and a 17-40mm lens (still waiting on my filter from B&H after having to return my other mis-order. )

And now for the photo which I spent hours scouring the intarwebs.

Domke F6 Little Bit Smaller
7D with a battery grip and 17-40mm lens attached in a Domke F6: From the top.

What is in the bag?: 7D with batterygrip and 17-40mm on its side. 100mm f2.8 with hood stored vertically. 530exII flash in case, stored vertically. 50mm prime stored upright. Zipper front case has charger, small rocket air cleaning kit. The inside top zipper has the manuals for the 7D and the flash, along with a few compact flash cards (hence the square-looking nature of the top of the bag when closed.

Domke F6 Little Bit Smaller

In all it is a great bag, malleable yet protective. Padded bottom but canvas sides. It seems to be just what I was looking for.