Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) Is Killing Me - More Great Fisheye Shots

I have been writing about getting a fisheye lens, especially about the choices available right now. Those choices include the nice (expensive) Lumix 8mm, the Rokinon/Samyang 7.5mm, and the yet-to-be-available fisheye attachment for the Lumix 14mm f2.5.
NYC Fisheye by fcyphotography on
Image Source:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Rokinon 7.5mm f3.5 Fisheye

Well, other posters seem to be taunting me. I am anxiously awaiting the availability of the Lumix fisheye attachment, the DMW-GFC1. So much so, I have memorized that part number, from typing it into Amazon's search over and over. Kinda sick, right?

Anyway, this series of fisheye images from New York City at the holidays really has me wanting a fisheye.

(Click Here) to see the original post on

I am hoping that the DMW-GFC1 will be in stores in Tokyo when I go there in a week or so. Anyone know if it's out in Japan yet? I cannot seem to find it here in the US. Unfortunately, with the exchange rates, it will likely be even more expensive in Japan. That Samyang lens is looking pretty good at less than $300...

But, I'm not buying yet, until the Lumix attachment is a real option.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Help A Guy Out! - Vote For One of My Images for People's Choice!

One of My Three Entries in the National Cherry Blossom Photo Contest

I have entered three images in the National Cherry Blossom Photo Contest.

Do me a favor and vote for one of my images for the "People's Choice" award:

(Click Here) to vote for one of my images.


Panasonic DMC-G3 in Alaska, and Some Information on jpeg Settings

pjohngren's Alaska jpegs from DMC-G3
Mu-43 Member pjohngren's Image From Alaska
Image Source:

I was attracted to this post on because, as you probably have noticed, I like to travel vicariously through other Lumix users' photographs. I have never been to Alaska, and the images in this post give me a feel for the place.

(Click Here) to see the full post.

Once I saw the pictures, I wanted to know more about pjohngren's settings, which turned out to be really interesting. He shoots jpegs, instead of raw. Here is a quick summary of the settings he used in this case, and uses most of the time:

"... I actually leave it on Vivid all the time, but have the contrast at -1, the sharpening at +2, the saturation at 0, and the noise reduction at -2. Both Intellignt Resolution and Intelligent Dynamic on high all the time. Both do fine and a conservative and don't ever cause problems."

I find this very interesting. I always shoot in raw+jpeg, so that I can have the most flexibility in editing later on. However, I really don't like spending time editing on the computer, so would like to have great jpeg settings, to avoid editing altogether in at least some cases.

I have to admit that I have accidentally shot only jpeg images a couple of times, and found that the DMC-G3 jpeg processing, even at default settings, is wonderful. So, I will definitely give these settings a try. In fact, I will put these settings into both of my G3s as one of the custom settings.

Update: I tried these settings, and am not at all pleased with them. The saturation in Vivid is terrible for people pictures in my opinion. I have tried bringing saturation down to -1, and it helps. But, I think I'm going to end up concluding that iResolution and iDynamic should not be maxed out. So, my conclusion is that these are not the best settings for me. Your results may vary.

The ideal for me will be to have good enough jpeg settings to avoid editing most images at all, yet still have the raw files to do it well on the rare occasions that editing is necessary.

I am traveling to Japan in about a week. On these trips, I always shoot a lot of images (thousands), and have to deal with the editing load when I turn. Hopefully this will reduce editing to only a small number of images.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fisheye Lens Decisions

Samyang 7.5mm Fisheye
Image Source:

I want a fisheye lens. Because I know that I won't use it a lot, I would like an economical, compact option. Fisheye lenses provide incredible wide angles of view (~180 degrees!), which can make for some very interesting interior and nature images. However, they exhibit a large amount of distortion, and are really specialty lenses, not the kind of thing you're going to use every day.

Panasonic makes the 8mm f3.5 fisheye lens, which sells on Amazon for $629. This lens gets very good reviews, and I'm sure is best in class for usage with the Lumix Micro 4/3 cameras.

In January, I wrote about the announcement of the new DMW-GFC1 fisheye attachment from Panasonic.

(Click Here) for the DMW-GFC1 announcement post.

This seems like an ideal solution for me, since it is an attachment for my Lumix 14mm f2.5 lens, and adds only the size of a single filter to my camera bag. I was hoping that it would also be economical. Preorder information from Adorama indicates that it will be priced at $149, pretty darned steep for a single filter.

Then there is the Samyang/Rokinon option. As far as I can tell, Samyang and Rokinon are different labels for the same lenses. They make a 7.5mm f3.5 fisheye, which is currently available on Amazon for $286.19. This lens also gets good reviews optically. It is a "native" Micro 4/3 mount, which means no adapter is needed to mount it to your Lumix or other Micro 4/3 camera. However, it does not have any electrical connection to the camera body, which is why I put "native" in quotes. This means that while you can use the camera's exposure meter in Manual or Aperture Priority modes, any mode that requires electronic control of the aperture (Shutter Priority, Program) does not work.

Since I am optimizing for cost, image quality, and size, this presents a challenge to me. In terms of cost, the Samyang wins, really because I believe $150 is too much for the Panasonic DMW-GFC1 attachment. I am sure the Lumix 8mm wins the image quality contest, but it seems the Samyang is very close, according to what I've seen in reviews. Size, of course, goes to the filter attachment. That said, neither the Panasonic or Samyang lens is very big.

Honestly, though, I don't think either the Panasonic or Samyang full lens would make it into my bag often. The DMW-GFC1 filter will stay there, all the time. That probably makes it the best option for me. The DMW-GFC1 was announced in early January, and is still not available for purchase in the USA (as of March 12). Maybe I can pick one up when I'm in Japan in a few weeks.
(Click Here) for a nice report and summary of reviews on the Samyang lens. If size were not a major consideration for me, I would probably buy one of these.
Want the Rokinon lens? Panasonic? Please click below to buy yours, and support this blog!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

External Flash For Panasonic Micro 4/3 - I Bought the Nissin Di466

Image Source:
Nissin Di466 External Flash for Micro 4/3

Well, I have once again come back to the subject of external flash for my Lumix DMC-G3s. I really dislike the fact that the Lumix cameras do not allow you to control flash in any type of manual way. Yes, you can compensate up or down by up to two stops on the G3, but only based on the camera's ttl exposure system. I have been largely unable to use the in-camera flash for daylight fill.

I did find that I can use my (huge) Nikon flashes (SB600 or SB800) with the Nikon remote cable in manual mode with the G3. But, in that case, only manual mode. Also, as I understand it, wireless triggering from the Lumix cameras does not work with the Nikon flashes, because the Lumix uses a preflash that prematurely triggers the Nikons. Now, that is based on what I have read; I have not tried that myself.

I read a post on dpreview on this subject, which reviews several options, including the Olympus FL360, as well as products from Cactus, Metz, and Nissin. From what I can surmise, the Nissin offers the best combination of features, including bounce capability (tilt but not swivel, which means bounce flash in landscape only), ttl and manual, and wireless triggering.

(Click Here) to read the post on dpreview. It is worth clicking through all of the replies, each with additional information.

A month or two ago, I decided to buy the Nissin Di466, which goes for about $130 on Amazon, but it was out of stock. It is now in stock, so I clicked that dangerous little "Add to Cart" button and bought it. Since I have Amazon Prime, I got free shipping, and will receive it in two days.

I usually like to have a new little something to test out (but not rely on) when I go on a trip. This will be the gadget for my upcoming trip to Japan. I'll let you know how it works. Hopefully,I'll have some nice sample pics to share.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Panasonic DMC-GX1 in Milan, the Human Element

Milan Church by 13Promet on

Image Source: member 13Promet posted several images of the Basilico di Sant' Ambrogio, dated from 386AD.
(Click Here) to see the original post.
Of all the images posted, I appreciate the one above most. It was made with the GX1 and 14mm f2.5 Lumix lens. I find this lens very useful for interiors, just like shown here. The person in red, praying, significantly adds to the meaning of the picture for me.
The original post also includes some nice images made with an Olympus Pen FT 40mm F1.4 lens. I would like to try one of those some day.
Another "Lumix somewhere in the world I have not seen" post. It occurs to me just how many places I haven't been.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sunrise at Manassas Battlefield

Manassas Sunrise, by Reed A. George
Sunrise at Manassas National Battlefield, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4
HDR, f5.6

This is how early spring sunrise looks at Manassas. It was a nice morning walk.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

And The Weather Report Told Me To Stay Inside! Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC.

Jefferson Memorial, Cherry Blossoms, by Reed A. George
Jefferson Memorial, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 25mm Summilux f1.4
iso160, f11, 0.3 sec
Well, it is a rainy weekend here in Washington, DC. But, I knew that overcast weather would make for some nice diffuse lighting. And, since I will be out of town soon, I don't have many more opportunities to see the cherry blossoms in DC this year. So, I decided to brave the weather, and be there at sunrise. I hope you'll agree that the trip was worth it.
By the way, it is the 100th anniversary of the original gift of cherry trees from Japan.
DC Cherry Blossoms, by Reed A. George
Cherry Blossoms, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm Macro_Elmarit f2.8
iso400, f4, 1/30 sec

The foggy morning light really allowed the subtle colors of the cherry blossoms to pop. In fact, I had to tone them down a little in post-processing, as they looked a little cartoonish to me.

DC Cherry Blossoms, by Reed A. George
Cherry Blossom Bouquet, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14mm f2.5
iso160, f2.5, 1/40 sec

I think the image above is my favorite of the morning. Those blossoms on the tree trunk were completely natural, but looked like a florist had arranged them there. Of course, as I was shooting it, another photographer walked right up with his DSLR and snapped it over my shoulder. Oh well, I guess I don't own DC, do I? Actually, I hope he got a nice shot.

Petals in the Tidal Basin, by Reed A. George
Petals in the Tidal Basin, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14mm f2.5
iso160, f16, 1 sec
In the shot above, the water looked very grungy. So, I changed the white balance a little blue to compensate; I may have gone too far.
Contrasting Reds, by Reed A. George
Contrasting Reds, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14-140mm f4-5.8 at 140mm
iso400, f5.8, 1/50 sec

In the image above, I enjoy the way the tree trunks in the boke in the background form a leading line. Without that, this image would be very flat.

Vintage DC Postcard, by Reed A. George
Vintage Postcard Look, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3, "Pinhole Camera" scene mode
On Camera Flash, iso640, f5, 1/60 sec

I also took the opportunity to play with the DMC-TS3 this morning, using a preset called "Pinhole Camera." This made the image have a dark vignette around the edges, which I replaced in Lightroom with white. I like the effect. Not to be used every day, but kind of cool in this case.
Subtle Pinks, by Reed A. George
Soft Pinks, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm Macro_Elmarit f2.8
iso400, f2.8, 1/500 sec

I like how this image shows blossoms that range from right at their peak bloom to those already missing their petals. I also love the soft pink colors, and the nice out of focus areas. That is why I chose this as the closer for this post.

I sure am glad I didn't listen to the weather report's advice! This was a couple of hours well-spent.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spring Is Here, Even In Boston!

Image Source:

(Click Here) for the photos on

Okay, I am sure you will want to know why I posted this. It's funnier to me than to anyone else. I just remember looking at people in Copley Square in Boston a few years ago, on the first day of the year. The combination of shorts, sheet-white legs, black socks, and business shoes was just too much. My guess is that these were businessmen, who kept a pair of shorts in the office just in case, but no other warm weather clothes. It peaked about lunchtime.

I hope I didn't just waste a minute of your life on something you can't imagine; it was damned funny to see.

I shot some cherry blossoms in DC this morning. I promise a more interesting spring post coming soon!

Film Shots - Washington DC's Seafood Docks, Rolleiflex T

A couple of weeks ago, my friend and fellow blogger Aboud Dweck and I got together to talk a little shop, shoot some pictures, and eat a lot of food.
(Click Here) to see Aboud's post on the subject.
Well, I decided to shoot something different that day, and selected my 1955 (I think I remember that right) Rolleiflex T twin lens reflex, with a beautiful Tessar f3.5 lens. I shot Provia 120 slide film. A couple of weeks later, my developed film is back from Dwayne's, and looks great.
If you need excellent film processing, (Click Here) to go to Dwayne's.
Anyway, Aboud and I went to the dockside seafood market in DC. Here's what I shot:
DC Seafood, by Reed A. George

Rainbow, by Reed A. George

Crab Buckets, by Reed A. George

Crabby?, by Reed A. George
Steamy, by Reed A. George
Family, by Reed A. George
I had a great time, first meeting with Aboud, who's always entertaining, and second with shooting a beautiful old piece of photographic history. It's quite an amount of effort to meter manually, focus manually, mail off the film, pay, and wait for the results. But, I must say, I love the feeling of ripping that envelope open and seeing what's inside.
While shooting the Rolleiflex has little to do with Lumix, I hope that it will once again instill that slowed-down, careful approach to all of my photography. I do plan to take a little of that approach to my modern Panasonic kit, especially on my upcoming trip to Japan. Let's think "fewer shots, more meaning." That will be my theme.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dual Exhibit at Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography

Exploring Steel Bridge, by Masao Horino
Image Source:
As I have mentioned, I will be traveling to Japan in a little over a week from now. I love Tokyo, and am never without something new to explore, a new neighborhood to walk, or someone new to meet. I usually make it to the excellent gallery at Fujifilm's modern facility in Midtown. But, I have yet to make it to the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography. The last time I was there, I made the mistake of planning to go on a Monday, the only day of the week the museum is closed.
This time, while I'm there, there are two concurrent exhibits, one showing the work of Felice Beato (1832-1909), the other Masao Horino (1907-1998).
Beato was an early war photographer, active as Brady and his cohort were busy photographing the American Civil War. Beato photographed British military activities throughout Asia, but ended up spending 20 years in Japan. In addition to military subjects, he photographed local culture, and introduced hand coloring of photographs to the region. He also manually produced enormous panoramic images, ten of which are included in the exhibit. About 140 of his photographs in total are included.
Masao Horino was most active in the 1930s, and was very interested in advancing modern photography. He put his efforts into improving low, available light. He also showed female subjects in a new, casual way, unconventional in Japanese society. Horino stopped photographing, and showing his work, after World War 2, claiming his photographs had been lost in the war. This exhibit, including about 200 of his works, is his first show in 75 years.
(Click Here) for more information on the show, at Japan Times online.
I am planning to view both shows on my upcoming trip. Hopefully I'll have a good story to tell, or at least some of my own impressions to share.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Luis Gomez's "One Photograph a Day" Blog and Image

Great Shot by Luis Gomez
Image Source:

Washington, DC-based photographer Luis Gomez has an interesting "One Photograph a Day" site. The image above is a real winner in my opinion.

(Click Here) to see the original image, and check out Luis' blog while you're there.

Apparently, Luis happened upon another photographer working in this scene. Wouldn't you love to see the other guy's images, too? I wonder if they are as cool as this one.

Please support my blog by ordering from Amazon:


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Lumix DMC-GX1 / Summilux 25mm f1.4 Shots From Around Boston

Boston, by Arvin on
Image Source:
User Arvin from posted a series of great shots from the Boston area, all taken with the DMC-GX1 and Pana-Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4 lens.
(Click Here) to see the post.
There is a nice mix of images here, all which show that Arvin has a good eye for composition. I especially like the image shown above, and the one lower down, of the person carting a box across the alley. In that image, Arvin was able to focus on the subject, and not on the person. In this case, breaking the old rule of not cutting off the head of a human subject was the right thing to do. Very nice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Dave Martinez's Tips on Choosing Photo Equipment for Travel

Ultimate Small Travel Photography Kit
Dave Martinez posted a nice blog entry about how to choose the appropriate equipment for travel
(Click Here) to read Dave's entry.
Dave lists a few different combinations that he takes on travel. Like me, he usually opts for a Micro 4/3 kit these days, unless the trip demands full-frame equipment, when he, again like me, chooses Nikon.
I agree with most of the points that Dave makes, including limiting yourself to a few lenses, and not worrying about covering every focal length. You'll be surprised at how you adapt, sometimes in very creative ways, to not having a super zoom and several other lenses.
Dave sometimes goes without any lens covering the "normal" (~40-50mm full-frame 35mm equivalent); that's where our approaches differ. I cannot imagine going on a trip without at least one normal lens, usually a fast one. My favorite right now is the Pana-Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4, but the Lumix 20mm f1.7 is a great, more compact option.
I am planning for a trip to Japan in about a month. I'm thinking I will take two DMC-G3s, Lumix 14mm f2.5, Lumix 20mm f1.7 (or Summilux), and Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit. That will be a very powerful, yet light and compact kit.
When I'm going for the ultimate in compact, and will be shooting in mostly good light (not having to worry too much about small sensor noise), I will use the DMC-LX5, as shown above. The LX5 offers a very nice zoom range, wide enough aperture to get shallow depth of field, and excellent image quality, in my opinion. It also have very nice settings for street photography, HDR, etc. See my post from January for more details.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Panasonic's New President Focuses on Improving Efficiency

Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga
Panasonic's New President, Kazuhiro Tsuga
Image Source:

To be officially formalized this June, Kazuhiro Tsuga, currently the Managing Director and President of Panasonic's Audiovisual Products Unit, will take over as the President of all of Panasonic. He will replace the current President, Fumio Otsubo.

(Click Here) for an article in the Japan Times.

Panasonic has just predicted its largest loss ever, 780 million yen in this business year, largely due to strength of the Japanese currency, and decreased demand in televisions and semiconductors.

Mr. Tsuga stresses that the company must eliminate inefficiencies, and develop the "Environment Business" through revolutionary new product development.

When I spent a year working at a Panasonic factory in Kofu, Japan, I was very impressed by the difference in how Panasonic responded to tough economic times, as compared to my own experience in American companies. At that time (1994), the Japanese bubble economy had just burst. Panasonic executives uniformly stressed the importance of engaging customers, ensuring customer satisfaction, and making customers life-long fans of the company and its products. I hope that message isn't lost on Panasonic's new President.

Panasonic has made some revolutionary product introductions in the Micro 4/3 camera market, in my opinion. They still have a long way to go in developing excellent customer service, at least in the United States, in my opinion. Inefficiencies in dealing with service and internet systems are obvious. Sorry for the frank talk, but I want to see this improve.

I remain a loyal Panasonic customer, and look forward to a new era for the company. Their products have always been first-rate in my opinion. The latest G series camera products continue that tradition.

Onward and upward, Panasonic. Your founder, Konosuke Matsushita, would have certainly expected no less!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pond Life Shows Spring Is Here

Dragonfly Larva, DMC-G3
Dragonfly Larva, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, 14-140mm f4-5.8 at 140mm
iso160, f5.8, 1/2000 sec
So, in my full-time job, I work for a biomedical research organization. One of our researchers studies the predator-prey behavior of dragonflies. It turns out, these guys are the ultimate predators of the insect world, and exhibit very complicated visual processing and use sophisticated guidance algorithms to intercept their flying prey in mid air.
Okay, by now you're wondering "What the heck does this have to do with photography?" Well, our scientists gather dragonfly larvae, like the one above, from the ponds on our campus. I got the opportunity to enjoy a little warm spring weather, and photograph them in action.
Collecting, by Reed A. George
Collecting, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, 14-140mm f4-5.8 at 140mm
iso160, f5.5, 1/500 sec
While they were collecting, we started to notice what we thought were frogs singing to each other. They turned out to be toads, Eastern American Toads (Anaxyrus americanus americanus), which were quite amorous, and the singing led to other things.
Singing, by Reed A. George
Singing to the Girls, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, 14-140mm f4-5.8 at 140mm
iso160, f5.8, 1/500 sec

I love how you can see the vibrations in the water in the shot above. In the shot below, a pair are breeding. The helical black strands that you see in the picture below are the fertilized eggs.

Breeding Pair, by Reed A. George

Breeding Pair, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, 14-140mm f4-5.8 at 140mm
iso160, f5.8, 1/500 sec
On this particular day, the boss got selected to spend an hour in one of the staff's shoes (waders). As you can see below, he had a pretty good time out wading around in the pond.
Good Day, by Reed A. George
A Good Day at Work, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, 14-140mm f4-5.8 at 140mm
iso160, f5.8, 1/500 sec
It's nice to see that Spring is here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Digital Photography Now Reports Panasonic's Efforts to Make Wireless Connections for Lumix Cameras

Panasonic's Wireless Connectivity Plan
Image Source:

Digital Photography Now has published a report on Panasonic's plan to provide simple wireless connection between Lumix cameras and Viera televisions, and to cloud-based storage.

(Click Here) to see the whole report on Digital Photography Now.

Personally, I would love to have real-time automatic wireless upload of my images to the web, cloud, and my PC. Connecting to the TV means a lot less to me. If real-time is not feasible, I would be happy with automatic batch uploading of my files while my camera sits in the bag, after I get home from a shoot. But, and please listen Panasonic, I want to be able to turn it off quicky, so that my device won't be "busy" if I wantto shoot an image real quickly.

The other thing that worries me a little is that it appears that Panasonic will make their cell phone (which I don't think is available in the USA at this time) a critical piece in the wireless system. That would be a serious drawback here in the USA, even if the phones were available. It would also be market-size-limiting, given the extremely strong cell phone competition here (do you really want to depend on Americans giving up their iPhones?), and our desire to mix and match suppliers at will.

All that said, I am up for improved connectivity!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Is It Possible? The First Flickr Street Photography Group Specifically For Micro 4/3?

User KVG on recently posted an announcement that they had just started the first street photography group on flickr specifically for Micro 4/3 users. Seems impossible, but a quick scan of my groups shows none. There are certainly plenty of street groups, and Micro 4/3 groups, but I don't see any at the intersection of the two.
(Click Here) to see the post on
Hipster, on the new flickr group for Micro 4/3 Street Photography
Hipster, by
Image Source:
If you prefer to go directly to the group, here is the link (Click Here)
I will be joining immediately. Let's see those street shots!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

This I Love - Carl Zeiss Lens Stress Test Description

Zeiss Planars
Zeiss Planars of Various Designs
Image Source:
On the official Carl Zeiss Camera Lens Blog, they have posted a short video describing how they stress test their camera lenses.
(Click Here) to see the blog page.
I used to work for Motorola, back in the days before it sold off all of its manufacturing operations, and way before it became part of Google. This video reminds me of the accelerated life tests that we used to put integrated circuit packages and products through. It warms my heart to see that someone still does them on high quality products. I also really enjoy seeing the excitement that Norbert Wittekindt from Carl Zeiss Oberkochen brings to the process.
This is the kind of information that draws a gearhead like me to a particular brand. And Zeiss certainly deserves that attention.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Author John Quarstein Presents on Civil War Battle of the Ironclads - USS Monitor vs. CSS Virginia

Historian John V. Quarstein
Author and Historian John V. Quarstein, by Reed A. George
Panasonic DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 25mm f1.4 Summilux
iso400, f2.5, 1/40 sec
by the way, the eyepatch is temporary...

As you may know, I have an interest in the US Civil War, and have undertaken a project to photograph my interpretations of the 150th anniversary. In that pursuit, I decided to attend my first "Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable" meeting on March 13, 2012, at the Thomas Balch Library in Leesburg, Virginia.

Our speaker was John V. Quarstein, who talked about the battle of the ironclad ships, the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia (formerly known as the Merrimack), in Hampton Roads, Virginia, in early March of 1862.

This guy knows his stuff. Presenting completely from memory, remembering every important character and their personal history, every gun type involved, and plenty of fun side notes, John speaks with extreme energy and emphasis. He effectively engages a room, even when talking about history on a Tuesday night.

There is way too much information to me to even give a modest account of it here. However, there were some interesting themes and notes. Most importantly, this period in maritime warfare saw the transition from sails to steam power, first with the paddlewheel, which was too easy to disable with cannon fire, then the screw propeller, which allowed all of the powertrain to be kept underwater. It also saw the change from smooth bore cannon to "shell guns," firing explosive shells that wreaked havoc on wooden boats like nothing before.

The CSS Virginia, on which John has written a book, started out as the Merrimack. After being burned and sunk at Norfolk (then called "Gosport Navy Yard"), it was resurrected, outfitted with 790 tons of iron shieldeing and all new guns, and a ram. The ram was used to sink the Union ship "Cumberland." The Virginia sunk multiple wooden ships in its first day of battle, operating under a flag that read "Sink Before Surrender." And sink it almost did. But, it was magnificently successful against the wooden fleet. After that first day, the Flag of Congress from one of its targets was hand-delivered to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

The Monitor, the Union's own 171 foot ironclad, engaged the Virginia in heated battle for several hours the following day. Both ships were seriously damaged, and both claimed victory at the end of the day. While both sides suffered damage, the Virginia continued in its service, protecting both Norfolk and Richmond from attack by water by patrolling and controlling the mouth of the James River, and seriously slowing Union Major General McClellan's "Peninsula Campaign."

Well, I'm sold. I bought the book, got it signed, and joined the roundtable. I am certain this group will provide useful information and engaging talks to keep me going on my Civil War Sesquicentenial project.

Click below to buy John's book on Amazon (and support this blog, all in one fell swoop):


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Lumix 8mm Fisheye on DMC-GF1 Sample

Image Source:
Flickr User Dafydd Penguin
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1, Lumix 8mm f3.5 Fisheye Lens
iso100, f5, 1/2000 sec

This lovely shot of the Welsh countryside is well worth clicking through to see in larger size on flickr. I am very impressed with the fisheye lens's ability to cover such a wide area, with no apparent vignetting. The detail in this image literally goes on for miles. I am sorely tempted by this lens, but want to try the new fisheye attachment announced by Panasonic. It is far more economical, but I am sure not nearly so good in terms of image quality. But, that's speculation. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised!

Want the fisheye lens? Please buy it here:


Monday, March 12, 2012

More Local Music - Jake and the Burtones

Jake and the Burtones, by Reed A. George,
Jake and the Burtones, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14mm f2.5
iso3200, f2.5, 1/50 sec

Last Friday night, I went to see a local bluegrass band play at Market Street Coffee, in Purcellville, Virginia. The first thing I realized was that Market Street is the same shop that closed down a couple of years ago in Leesburg. When I say "the same," I mean "the same," right down to the paint color on the walls and every piece of decor. It literally could have been picked up as one piece in Leesburg and placed back down in Purcellville.

The next thing I noticed is that Market Street is a young person's hangout. They accepted the old man (me) in very courteous fashion, however.

The band, Jake and the Burtones, showed up at show time, moved a table out of the way, and voila! a stage! They played a very nice set of Grateful Dead tunes, including 1/2 Step Mississippi Uptown and Catfish Joe. Very nice welcome for an old Deadhead (me, again).

(Click Here) to see the band's facebook page.
After a few songs, bassist Jack Pugh had a seat, and two of the band's friends stepped in to cover bass and add fiddle.
Jake and the Burtones, by Reed A. George,
... and Friends, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Lumix 14mm f2.5
iso3200, f2.5, 1/50 sec

After several songs, the originals reformed and whipped up some mighty good music.

Here are a few more shots I like:

Jake and the Burtones, by Reed A. George,
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso3200, f2.8, 1/40 sec

Jake and the Burtones, by Reed A. George,
A Few Laughs
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica Summilux 25mm f1.4
iso1600, f1.8, 1/50 sec

Jake and the Burtones, by Reed A. George,
Those Shoes
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, Pana-Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro-Elmarit
iso3200, f2.8, 1/40 sec

This was a very relaxed setting. I got to introduce myself to the band, and hope to see more of their shows in the near future.

The G3 performed very well for me. I am now quite comfortable with iso3200, as long as I expose properly. The Summilux allowed me to shoot at iso1600 some, as well. No flash was used, or necessary.
All of these images and more are available for purchase at
(Click Here) for a link to this set.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cross-Post from Aboud Dweck's "Everything Photo" Blog

Reed and Aboud
Reed and Aboud at the DC Fish Market, by Aboud Dweck
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Aboud Dweck, author of the great photography blog
and I went out for dim sum and a little shooting and catching up yesterday.
While Aboud shot his new Lumix DMC-GH2, I brought out my Rolleiflex T twin lens reflex and shot my first two rolls of film for 2012. Maybe that's why I look a little old and confused in the image above.
Aboud's post on his blog describes the minor differences in shooting 120 film with a TLR and modern digital photography with the GH2.
(Click Here) for Aboud's post.
I am praying that I have at least one great shot out of 16 or so I shot on the Rollei. More likely, I will simply prove that the expense and hassle of shooting film provides inferior results to the latest in digital technology. But, I must admit it was a blast to shoot that old camera again. And, you can't compare an EVF or LCD to the image on that ground glass in the Rolleiflex.
Thanks for a great day, Aboud. We'll have to get out again soon.