Saturday, March 26, 2011

Of Spring, and things.

First fatness of Spring 2011
First American Robin of the year. Shot through window glass.
Nikkor AF-S DX 55-300mm, 1/30th sec., f/5.6, ISO 200

Spring's coming.

Robins, House Finches, Grackles, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Goldfinches - all summer residents, and all appearing in the back yard over the last week or so. Despite a dumping of snow on Thursday, causing Mr. Robin to blow himself up into a ball to stay warm, they're here to stay, warbling from the rooftops and madly scurrying around collecting nesting material.

On the other hand, I was scurrying around myself on Friday, heading to Seneca College to give my more-or-less-annual guest lecture to students in their Bioinformatics Program, an enjoyable chance to catch up with an old friend who runs it, and to test-drive my latest slide deck, which uses rather a lot of photos of zoo animals to make various points. That all seemed to go well, and gave me an opportunity to explore the adjacent York University campus a bit, an interesting conglomeration of coloured concrete, strange angles, and metal details. I particularly liked the huge and ironically impersonal monolith of the Ross Humanities and Social Sciences building, and the crazy internal details of the Joan and Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Art, full of interesting design elements, half-finished sculptures, and enthusiastic arts students.

Ross Building, York University, Toronto
Ross Building
1/200th sec., f/8, ISO 200

I decided, on this occasion, to take only a single, fixed-focal-length "prime" lens with me, a technique used by many, many photographers over the ages, including the incomparable Henri Cartier-Bresson - no zooms, no wide-angles, no telephotos. In this case, I had just a 35mm lens that on my DSLR gives more-or-less the same "normal" field of view as Bresson's 50mm mounted on his venerable Leica. The idea is to use your feet and hands and eyes to compose the photograph, rather than a zoom ring.

Wall detail, fine arts building, York University
Wall detail, Centre for Fine Art
Indoors - 1/640th sec., f/2.8, ISO 1,000

Having trundled around Keele Campus for a bit, I'm finding myself rather pleased with the little 35. As expected, it's a bit soft at very narrow apertures, likely due both to diffraction inside the lens and also the resulting slower shutter speeds, showing up my less-than-rock-solid hands. Also as expected, when fully wide-open it does suffer a bit from coloured fringing around bright objects. But in its sweet spot, which I don't think I've quite hit in either of the photos above, it's rather nice indeed. There will be more photos coming... once the weather warms up a bit.

AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
The lens in question.
Shot with Nikkor 18-55mm @ 18mm, 1/6th sec., f/3.5, ISO 200.


john.g. said...

That means nothing to me, but good photos R.P!

Ricardipus said...

Thanks, John. On reading my post again, it *is* a bit full of techno-gibberish, isn't it?

Cath@VWXYNot? said...

Wow, you're still getting snow? That sucks (even if it makes the robins look extra adorable). It's still raining here, but we've had the occasional sunny day and there are blossoms and daffodils coming out - in other words, there's light at the end of the tunnel!

Ricardipus said...

Cath - I think we're done with the snow now... maybe...

Aled Hughes said...

Cath's comments about snow remind me of the definition of Spring and Fall in Florida. They happen on the third Tuesday of February or November respectively between 2 and 3 p.m.
This year was no exception so far.
It has had '(s)no(w)' effect on me...
I have to ask, is my humor wasted? Or just stoopid?
Great pics though...

Ricardipus said...

Aled - here, spring typically lasts about two days. Fall drags on for a couple of months, devolving into winter some time that is never exactly when you expect.