Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The old route 82 parking area looks rough and uninviting as usual. Past the fence is the "gauntlet of poo" for every dog needs to relieve themselves in the first 300 yards right in the road. Tread lightly and keep your head down. It's a very popular place for dog walking.
The Birdsboro Waters, part of Hopewell Big Woods and the Hay Creek Road and Watershed area, never disappoints. Such variety of photo subject matter as well the natural beauty make this a regular stop for a Photo/Nature Walk.
The shoulder of the road is where the photo action is today. Wildflowers and insect activity abound. Birding is possible, but not so good with a dog though.
Milkweed infested with bright orange Milkweed Bugs caught my eye. The Milkweed Bugs lived on the pod while the Tiger Caterpillars feasted on the leaves. Goldenrods were plentiful and populated with Locust Borer insects.
Today's journey included a walk down SR82, a lap around the Birdsboro Reservoir. When I crest the hill and get the first glimpse of the Birdsboro Reservoir I feel fortunate to live so close to this special place. Two groups of four horseback riders enjoyed the lake. The return trip was along the canal. I estimate about 2 miles for I've done this route many time with the pedometer. It's a fickle little tool and wasn't working this trip.
11AM-12:30, 65 degrees and sunny, camera, water bottle, t-shirt, shorts & hiking boots.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I picked up the Schuylkill River Trail off the Brentwood Trailhead parking area on Rt-10. I followed it for 1/10 mile then located the Angelica Lake Trail near the Schulkill River. I followed it along the Angelica Creek into the the natural area.
Called the Neversink North Trail, it's a gradual .75 mile inclined hike from the parking area to pavillion and overlook. Follow the signs. Berks County Conservancy manages this property. Much more to explore when more time permits.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
I could sense and imagine a view behind the thick canopy of trees and believe that once the leaves fall, it will be impressive. I'd estimate that about a mile into the hike, there was a man-made clearing with the highly anticipated panoramic views of the valley below. Awesome! The Schuylkill River has a severe bend and is paralleled by train tracks. Poplar Neck and the treatment plant were in the foreground.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
We meandered around Scotts Run Lake area which was rushing over the dam down the channel. The channel usually has a trickle, but this day it was small stream. We headed through the woods along the stream. It's an unmarked trail on maps, but I'd simply call it Scotts Run Trail. Nevertheless, it's well traveled but has some year round muddy spots and challenging log crossings. Waterproof hightop hiking boots recommended.
Today I encountered a mountain biker who ironically was carrying his bike due to the deep mud and logs. I asked him if he actually biked this trail and he said he has. The mood in the woods was of a rain forest. Super green, humid and dripping everywhere with patches of sunlight sneaking through the canopy. The stream was roaring loud versus the usual babbling brook. This scene offers technical photo challenges due to the darkness, and/or high contrast where the sun beams shine through. Since I don't carry a tripod, I use whatever means I can, raising ISO's, EV overrides, and leaning on a tree or stump to get the shots.
10A-12, Warm, humid.
Monday, September 1, 2008
Digital Camera Chronology
1st. Kodak Z740 5MP 10x optical. (10/05)
2nd. Kodak Z612 IS 6MP 12x optical. (2/07)
Current: Kodak Z812 IS 8MP 12x optical. (11/07)
I chose Kodak because of a hands on trial, a personal referral and the #1 ratings from JD Powers. They use reputable German SCHNEIDER-KREUZNACH glass. I love the super-zooms too. I wasn't afraid of them for video cameras have had amazing clarity with their tiny built-in super-zooms for many years.
My strategy in digital was to buy short term for great upgrades occur every year. I paid between $200-$250 for my first two cameras and resold them for $100, so I basically rented evolving technology for a year for a very reasonable price. The Z740 was even a refurb.
PROS: Kodak camera optics are really sharp. I have performed hours of follow-up research to see what other brands were offering. Sites Digital Photo Review, Imaging Resource, Steve's Digicams and offer great hands on reviews, sample photos, etc and Kodak held its own or was better then all comparable cameras. I also searched PBase by camera model to view the images.
Great controls allow for many one touch overrides and corrections on the fly. A lightweight camera, convenient zoom and shutter controls allow for one hand operation. This is perfect for me since I usually have a dog pulling on his leash with the other hand.
AA Batteries can be used in a pinch but the best ones are CRV3 rechargables.
Easyshare software - Great tool for quick photo editing fixes.CONS: Battery Hog. When I shoot a lot, I exhaust a battery about every 1.5 outings. I have 4 total rechargeable batteries to offset this short coming. I don't use the image preview screen either. Very hard to handle high contrast scenes. I've read that about other cameras in this group as well, but I lose details in the shadows because of it.
High ISO 800+ produce very grainy results. 400 ISO passes with low grades though.
Easyshare software - It's pretty invasive and once installed cameras can only move shots via USB when Easyshare is running.
WISH LIST: Wider angle lens (36mm on z812). Filter Mount (I would love to add a polarizer or neutral density). RAW format. Fovian sensor. Face Detection.
Follow-up on 9/27/08: Coincidentally, I just checked Kodak and they offer a new Z1015 with 28mm wide, 3" screen, and RAW image option with "new" smart capture. Sounds like my next upgrade is awaiting.