Hiya LJ!

Oct. 3rd, 2016 04:29 pm
kv0925: (Gromit Reading)
[personal profile] kv0925

I dunno, I don't really want to bore you with my photos from NYC, mainly because I'm not especially happy with them. I can't even really say why, but they feel more like snapshots than usual. Out of practice, perhaps. But it was a nice day in the city. The above is from the Empire State Building's observation deck, which I visited a little before sunset, which was nice. It was packed up there, though. Like whoa. Central Park was pretty similar, which isn't surprising since it was such a gorgeous day. I think the high temperature was right around 70F, which was a very refreshing change after a summer in the mid-90s down here.

Anyway, the quick recap: Flew into LaGuardia on a smooth red-eye flight, and caught a Lyft (my first!) to Penn Station in Manhattan. Stowed my luggage there and set off on foot. Visited Herald Square, Bryant Park, the library (closed, unfortunately), Times Square, popped in for a quick peek at St. Patrick's (it was Sunday so a service was underway). Then to Central Park (did I mention it was packed?), where I walked for a bit. Caught a cab over to the west side for the Intrepid Museum, which was pretty decent. Then another Lyft to the ESB before walking back over to Penn Station to catch my train to Connecticut.

Actually, one more photo:

Exciting, right? It's a hunk of iron stuck in a rock! But I was thrilled to find it. You see, in the early days of New York City, the now well-known notion of the (mostly) orthogonal and evenly-spaced grid of streets and avenues in Manhattan was a new idea. And urban parks were rare, so Central Park had no place in the original plan. Starting in 1811, a man named John Randel (the same man who designed the grid layout in the first place) began the process of marking where each intersection would be, by means of iron rods or marble monuments. Most of those markers were of course removed as the streets were built, and others disappeared to the ravages of time and humanity. But a few remain, especially in places where streets were planned but never built. And this one is there in Central Park, marking the never-built intersection of 6th Avenue and 65th Street. It's actually pretty much right out in the open, surely passed within feet by many thousands of people every year. But I'd wager hardly any of them ever notice it, let alone have any idea what it is. So I thought that was pretty special, to seek out and find this little piece of history, a simple iron rod set in its place two centuries ago and left to watch as one of the world's greatest cities sprang up all around it.

The visit to Stamford was pretty okay. It was nice to actually meet the people I've been working with by phone and e-mail for the past couple months. And we covered a lot of stuff, but not the most top-of-mind thing, which is how our organization will actually look when all is said and done. I think my Presumptive New Boss (PNB) really thought it would be settled by the time we got together, but no such luck. Maybe within the next few weeks. It's certainly 99.9% obvious that I'm destined for his team, but exactly what form that will take seems a little less clear. And some of it may depend on whether I'm willing to relocate to CT, which frankly I'm not. Even if finances didn't constrain us to our house here, it's not an area we'd really choose to move to, and it's not like this is my dream job that I'd chase anywhere. So I'm planning to stick around here, and if that means the job and I eventually part ways, I guess we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

In other news, we got the information on the pension payout, and... underwhelming is putting it mildly. I don't know what math they used to calculate it, but it was a lot less than I was minimally expecting, and FAR less than I was hoping. So refinancing the house is basically a non-starter. We can at least pay off the cars and some other small things, which will put some money back in the budget each month. And there will be some left over, which can go to trips and whatnot. Bottom line, it still beats a kick in the nuts, that's for sure. But I can't help but be disappointed that it wasn't the game-changer I was hoping for.

Speaking of whatnot, I did get permission to use some to get myself a new camera. My venerable 7D has exhibited a couple of concerning symptoms recently, which made me realize the thing is very nearly 5 years old. And as much as I use it, that's gotta put the shutter at or over its expected lifespan. So I found a great deal* on a 7D Mark II--I figure I may as well stick with the crop sensor since for most of the work I do it's a benefit, and the shooting speed is crucial for my HDR predilections. Hopefully the high-ISO performance is improved, and I think it adds some other nice upgrades as well. That should arrive in a couple days, something to look forward to. And good timing, as I have a photoshoot this weekend with a family I work with every year. I'll bring the old camera as backup, just in case. :)

There's probably more, but that's plenty for now. I hope your week is off to a fine start!

* Photographer friends, let me throw out a tentative plug here for Canon Price Watch. I was planning to just snag a 7D2 body at Best Buy since I have their credit card and they do no-interest financing, plus it was on Canon instant rebate for $1499 ($300 off the usual price). But none of the stores nearest to me had it in stock, so I Googled and came across CPW, which mentioned a deal on the body PLUS the genuine Canon battery grip for $1349 total. The battery grip alone retails for $200, so yeah, that's a great deal. CPW seemed a bit shady, somehow, at first--on the CPW site you submit your name and e-mail address, then they e-mail you with a few potential deals on the product you're after. You reply with which deal you want, along with your name and address, and only then do they actually e-mail you the info on which store you're dealing with, and a link to the deal you selected. In my case, it turned out to be a camera dealer out of Ontario. But hey, no sales tax, free shipping, and I figured if it was a scam I'd just reverse the charge, right? So I bit, and got the shipping notice from Canada Post within just a few hours. That was Friday afternoon, and the camera should arrive Wednesday, which was actually the best Amazon Prime said they could do anyway. If it's truly new-in-box product with a valid Canon warranty and all that, I will be a CPW customer from now on, no question. I still want a Canon 100-400mm, after all. :)

Date: 2016-10-04 01:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daphnep.livejournal.com
I had no idea, about those iron markers. That is really cool--makes me imagine how radical that really was, to juxtapose that grid over the area, and build the city.

Date: 2016-10-04 02:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cp.livejournal.com
Yeah, it doesn't seem to be well-known, and really the Central Park Conservancy likes it being hush-hush, since they don't want scads of people beating the bushes looking for them. :) But there are at least 4 still in the park, maybe more. The others are up in the north end and I didn't make it up there. I'd like to sometime!

And yes, it had to be quite an undertaking, and the people already living on Manhattan Island didn't make it easier--it obviously threatened a lot of people's existing properties, and they would remove and otherwise vandalize the markers. Progress marches on!

Date: 2016-10-04 11:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thewayne.livejournal.com
I'll have to take a look at CPW, though it'll be a bit of time before I buy any new kit. I did pick up a 580 flash while in Omaha back in April, and bought my first studio strobe in Phoenix in June(ish) for about $100, that's about it. I was going to buy a high-voltage strobe kit, but they didn't have the proper reflectors for it and getting the proper ones would have cost more time and money. The strobe worked excellent for shooting the wood bowls and such that my dad makes, and I left it in Phoenix for that purpose. I use my 580 on-camera at 1/128 power to trip the main strobe, it works quite well and minimizes cords.

What I would really love to get is Sigma's 150-600. I'm not sure that I've had a lens longer than 300mm, and I've fallen in lust with this one. But at approx $1,000, it's going to wait.

Saw a cool lens last week. I was at the observatory trying some night shots (to mixed results) when a visiting French astronomer from an observatory in Chile (the other visiting Chilean astronomer was from Australia!) asked to borrow my 6D body: he'd bought a 8mm circular fisheye! It looked much better on my SL1 with the 1.6 crop. I'd never buy one, but it was interesting seeing it. I once had a Sigma 16mm fisheye for my Pentax MX back in the '80s. Definitely a novelty lens for me. I'm very happy with my Canon 16-40, I don't know if I'll ever buy anything wider.

Date: 2016-10-04 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cp.livejournal.com
I guess CPW offers a way (or many ways, really) to find deals better than than Canon's Minimum Advertised Price requirement. Usually every dealer (Amazon, Adorama, B&H, etc.) has more or less the same price because Canon dictates the minimum. But I guess there are unadvertised deals if you can find them, and that's were CPS comes in. If the product I receive tomorrow is as expected, I will definitely be a convert, at least for Canon gear!

Yeah, my longest modern lens is my Canon 70-300mm, which isn't as sharp as I'd like. My 70-200mm f/4L is of course fantastically sharp, but there's a big difference between 200 and 300mm! I have an old Tamron 500mm mirror lens, but it's fixed at f/8 so not very easy to get sharp images in anything but bright daylight, and of course the donut-hole bokeh is distinctive on mirror lenses. So I would love Canon's 100-400mm L lens, or maybe a reasonable third-party equivalent like that Bigma.

I decided to stick with an APS-C body since I do a good amount of macro and wildlife, and the crop factor helps with that. On the wide end my Tokina 11-16mm works well enough. Maybe I'll go with a 10-22mm or something at some point to go that little bit wider, but so far so good. :)

Date: 2016-10-04 11:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thewayne.livejournal.com
And I do like that NY skyline shot! Nice light and excellent air quality!

Date: 2016-10-04 02:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cp.livejournal.com
Thanks! I thought sunset/golden hour would be a good time to be up there, and indeed it was. Too bad several hundred other people had the same idea! :)

Date: 2016-10-04 12:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] re-vised.livejournal.com
So cool about the iron markers. Who knew? (You, obviously.)

CPW sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing! I've have been looking at the EF 100mm f/2.8 macro USM, but reluctant to spend $600. Now I can feel better about it. :)

Date: 2016-10-04 02:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cp.livejournal.com
The marker thing is a bit hush-hush, since the Central Park Conservancy doesn't want lots of people beating the bushes on a treasure hunt for the things. But I love little remnants of history like that, especially when it's a little detail like these markers that probably thousands of people pass by and ignore on a daily basis. :)

I haven't gotten the camera yet, I'll update when I do, of course. But if all is well, CPW definitely seems to offer some good deals! Apparently Canon only allows their authorized dealers to offer advertised prices down to a certain point, which is why you generally see the same prices at all the major dealers from Amazon to Adorama and B&H. But I guess these are unadvertised special deals, and somehow CPW works them out. Not sure if they get a kickback or commission or what. But hey, I can deal with a little strangeness in the ordering process as long as the price and product are right! :) Stay tuned!

Oh, and I have the 100mm f/2.8L macro and adore it. Is that the one you're looking at, or the non-L?

Date: 2016-10-04 08:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] re-vised.livejournal.com
Yep! It's the L. Do you like it? Dislikes?

I'm surprised they are kept a bit hush-hush. I mean, I get WHY, but you'd think maybe they'd try to find some and put them "on display". Maybe not... either way - still cool!

Date: 2016-10-04 09:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] cp.livejournal.com
I think there are some in the Museum of the City of New York, or maybe the NY Historical Society. Or both! But I dunno, there's something extra-neat about finding them in the wild. :)

It's an L, what's not to like? :) It's naturally sharp as a tack at any aperture, the IS works well, and the autofocus is generally snappy. Maybe the one thing I'd note is that if the lens is focused close and you want to instead focus on something farther away (or vice-versa), it won't do it until you manually turn the focus ring to the general ballpark of your subject, or sort of "walk" the focus from one point to the other by focusing on things in between, if that makes sense. It's full-time manual focusing like all L lenses, though, so I haven't found it to be a big deal (unless I've neglected to put the hood on properly, since when it's mounted in reverse for storage it covers the focus ring). Still, performance-wise, fantastic piece of glass. :)

Oh, I'd note that if you haven't used a proper macro lens before, keep in mind that when working really close-up, the depth of field is tiny and there's an exposure hit as well (apparently it's because focusing close moves the lens elements further from the sensor--focusing really close means you need to increase your exposure to get the same amount of light at the sensor).

Date: 2016-10-05 01:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] re-vised.livejournal.com
Agreed. It's neat to see them in the wild, I'm sure!

:) Awesome. Interesting about having to "walk" the focus, but I guess that makes sense. Thanks for the quick review of the lens. Also, I appreciate the tip about the DOF and exposure. It will make it easier to start using and not pondering why I'm not getting the photos I want.

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