Josef “Jeff” Sipek

Boston

Two weeks ago I ended up going to Wikipedia article: Boston for a day. I spent my day in three places—the Wikipedia article: Boston Public Library, the Wikipedia article: Massachusetts State House, and the Wikipedia article: Boston Common.

In this post, I will share my photos of anything that did not fit into the other two posts—the post with the Boston Public Library photos and the post with the Massachusetts State House. (All three posts share the same gallery.)

This is a view of the eastern end of Boston Common. There was a window at the State House that offered a good view, so I snapped it.

The weather was quite nice—low 20°C, sunny, light breeze—and so the Common was full of people enjoying the day. Both passively:

and actively:

Industry by Wikipedia article: Adio diBiccari:

Heading back toward Copley Square and the Boston Public Library, we encounter the John Hancock tower:

At this point, it was time to start heading back to Harvard where I left my car. I noticed an interesting ad at the bus stop right by the library. It had three panels filled with water and bubbles. I realize it isn’t the sharpest photo.

When I got off the red line at Harvard, I tried some long exposures of the trains. It turns out that unless the trains are packed, they keep their doors open for only about 10 seconds. In this 13 second exposure, you can see that the door was closed for a part of it.

An 8 second exposure worked quite well. (Unfortunately, I like the first composition better.)

So, this concludes the three post series about my one day excursion to Boston. I certainly learned a couple of things about photography in the 401 shots I took. First of all, tripods are amazingly useful indoors. Second, anyone can take a shot of a subject—it takes the “know what you’re doing” to consistently get an image that is not just good but better than average. Third, I need to read up on architecture photography before my next excursion so I know what I am doing. :)

Massachusetts State House

Two weeks ago I ended up going to Wikipedia article: Boston for a day. I spent my day in three places—the Wikipedia article: Boston Public Library, the Wikipedia article: Massachusetts State House, and the Wikipedia article: Boston Common.

In this post, I will share my photos of the Massachusetts State House. I have a separate post with the Boston Public Library photos and another post with the Boston Common and other places around Boston. (All three posts share the same gallery.)

The State House with its (real) gold covered dome:

Nurses Hall (24 MB panorama):

One of the entrances into the Senate room:

And its interior (32 MB panorama):

The Great Hall of Flags. It used to be a courtyard until 1990 when they put a glass roof over it and turned it into an event space. The flags supposedly act as echo dampeners. These are the flags of the various towns in Massachusetts.

The building is filled with doors—some fancy and some rather plain:

Finally, in the very back, there is a pretty nifty staircase:

Unsurprisingly, much like at the library, I had to bump the ISO pretty high to get an acceptable shutter speed with a large enough depth of field. A tripod (or even a monopod) would have helped quite a bit. I guess I know what’s getting a higher priority on my photo gear shopping list. Additionally, I should read up on architecture photography before the next major trip.

Boston Public Library

Two weeks ago I ended up going to Wikipedia article: Boston for a day. I spent my day in three places—the Wikipedia article: Boston Public Library, the Wikipedia article: Massachusetts State House, and the Wikipedia article: Boston Common.

In this post, I will share my photos of and around the Boston Public Library. I have a separate post with the State House photos and another post with the Boston Common and other places around Boston. (All three posts share the same gallery.)

The front entrance to the library:

A 180° view of the front of the building (32 MB panorama):

A peek into the reading room—Bates Hall:

Bates Hall in all its glory:

The library has a courtyard with a water fountain. The tower in the background is the tower of the neighboring Wikipedia article: Old South Church.

A close-up of a card catalog.

There are actually two churches right next to the library. Right across the street from the main entrance is the Wikipedia article: Trinity Church.

The other is the aforementioned Old South Church on the north side of the library. Toward the end of the day, it ended up backlit creating a neat silhouette.

This was really the first time I actively tried architecture photography. Shooting indoors around f/8 without a tripod was not the best thing for image quality. To keep the shutter speed in a reasonable range, I had to bump up the ISO resulting in a bit of noise. I will know what to expect next time I try this.

Memorial Day (2016)

Wikipedia article: Dunstable has an annual Memorial Day parade. Since Dunstable isn’t a very big town, the parade is not very big, but it is still nice to go to and enjoy the small-town atmosphere. This year was very overcast which made for really boring skies. As a result, I ended up with only eleven shots worth sharing. You can see all of them and the metadata in the full gallery.

The crowd begins to gather in front of the town hall (a 7-shot panorama):

The parade proceeding to the town hall:

Some cars and trucks were part of the parade. There was an old school military jeep, some sort of big military truck, as well as the Dunstable fire department’s truck.

A closeup of the military truck’s winch and grill:

The fire department’s truck:

The parade stopped in front of the town hall for a couple of speeches and placing of wreaths at the war memorial right on the lawn.

After about 20 minutes, the ceremonies concluded with a salvo from the reenactors. I got lucky and even though I wasn’t anywhere near them, I managed to capture the moment. (I was on the other side of the lawn from them and I only had the 24–70mm f/2.8 lens. This is why the foreground is a bit cluttered with the flag pole and the memorial itself.) Apparently, the folks in the foreground did not expect a loud boom.

A crop showing just the interesting part. I like how the different guns are at different stages of firing.

Technically, the parade moved on to the Central Cemetery, but I had errands to run so I left.

Battle Road Trail Walk

Last weekend Holly and I braved the 35°C weather, and drove to the Minute Man National Historical Park for their Battle Road Trail Walk—a three and a half hour walk covering almost 7 km of the Battle Road trail.

Naturally, I brought my camera. Unfortunately, because of the terrible heat, I didn’t take all that many photos. Of the ones I did take, I think only five are worth sharing. I am including them all in this post, but you can check out the gallery for the photo metadata.

The walk began at Meriam’s Corner, where on April 19, 1775 the locals attacked the British column returning from Concord and drove them all the way back to Boston. This is the beginning of “Battle Road”.

This is Nathan Meriam’s house—standing right next to where the attack began.

Despite the heat, we were only two of about 35! We were shocked to see that most people decided to show up to a 7 km walk in 35°C heat with barely 500 ml of water per person. (We knew better and brought a little over 4 liters for the two of us. And we had a stash of sports drinks in the car.) We were surprised nobody passed out along the way…or at least we did not notice anyone passing out :)

Here is park ranger Jim Hollister, our guide for the walk, mid-sentence near Hardy’s Hill. (I know, not the most flattering of photos.)

Hartwell Tavern is a little past the half-way point of the walk. The whole group took a break here so I had a few minutes to kill—and I did that with photography!

First of all, the tavern itself:

And an 8-shot panorama of the tavern and some of the walk participants. (38 MB full size panorama)

And the last photo from the trip is the Captain William Smith house (in Wikipedia article: Lincoln, MA).

As I said earlier, I did not take that many photos. I will try to do better in the future. :)

Wannalancit Mill

As you may or may not know, Nexenta has a small office in Massachusetts, and so I end up in Wikipedia article: Lowell a couple of times a week. Lowell is a decent size city with a history of textile production. As a result, the city is peppered with old mills, most of which have been converted to office and apartment buildings and a couple serve as museums.

The Wannalancit mill is one of the mills that ended up turning into an office building. (It is connected to the adjacent Suffolk mill so I often forget that technically they are separate buildings. You’ve been warned.)

The thing that makes this mill more interesting is that the National Park Service maintains an operational water turbine in the basement. The turbine turns a large flywheel (I am guessing it is about 5 m in diameter).

The turbine itself is in the “basement” along with other goodies. The basement is not very well lit, but the D750 performed quite well even at ISO 5000–8000.

The turbine is geared to the flywheel.

Finally, here is the turbine (inside the red-brown metal object in the background) and the governor (green machine in the foreground) controlling the amount of water entering the turbine and therefore the amount of energy getting stored in the flywheel.

The park service shows up in the mornings to “turn-on” the turbine.

A close-up of the governor:

The table on the left was used for repairing of the 2 cm thick leather belts. I got the impression that the four section cabinet housed containers of oil used to lubricate various parts around the mill.

There are more than three times as many photos in the full gallery. Enjoy!

Trains

The other day I took a slightly longer lunch break and headed over to the National Streetcar Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, they were closed that day so instead I used the parked steam locomotive there as my photography subject. For more photos, check out the full gallery.

I took two panoramas. They are not perfect since I was hand holding the camera. The smaller one is made up of seven shots (15 MB full image for you pixel-peepers).

The larger panorama is made up of twelve images. (34 MB full image)

The D750 has a feature called live view—it lets me use the tilting screen on the back to compose my shot. This is very useful for otherwise awkward to compose shots. (Instead of having to crawl on the ground to see through the viewfinder, one can use the screen!) The very important thing to note about live view is that if you take a still image while in live view (by pressing the shutter all the way) the resulting image will have a 16:9 aspect ratio instead of the standard 3:2. To get a 3:2 image, one has to compose in live view, then turn off live view, and take the shot as always.

I am hoping to come back one day soon and see what the museum has to offer for my photography appetite.

Zoom in and Enhance!

Recently, I posted a gallery full of photos from Earth Day. While I was post-processing them, I noticed something interesting in one of the shots. Since it was interesting enough, I had to blahg about it. So, without further ado, let’s get started—in the style of terrible TV shows!

Display original image.

Zoom in. (Crop.)

Enhance. (Set shadows to +100.)

Enhance more. (Set black clipping to +100.)

Enhance even more. (Set exposure to +2EV.)

Zoom in more! (Resize 200% and then crop to original size.)

Ha! I knew it! There were people there! Mystery solved!

While I am being silly here, I think it’s actually very cool that so much detail got captured by the 24MP sensor on the D750 even at 70mm focal length while standing pretty far away.

Maybe in the near future, today’s groan-worthy “zoom in and enhance” TV scenes are going to be the reality we live in. Of course this brings up interesting concerns about privacy—is the camera pointing away from you actually focusing on a reflection of you? Alas I am not going to delve into this topic today.

Earth Day

For Earth Day, Holly and I went to the nearby Sherburne Nature Center for their Earth Day celebration. The three hour event included a walk through the woods there as well as a demonstration of some owls. We showed up a bit early, so we meandered in the woods for a bit on our own. I was armed with my D750 and the 24-70mm lens, and Holly sported the D70 with the 18-70mm kit lens at first but switched to the 70-300mm not too long after. While I did all the post-processing, some of the following photos are Holly’s. As always, there are more photos in the gallery.

While meandering, we found a large-ish Wikipedia article: garter snake—I’m guessing it was about 1m long.

After about an hour of roaming around, we joined the narrated nature walk. The guide, Mark Fraser, was quite good at spotting assorted nature that I was totally unaware of. For example, he took all of 15 seconds to find this (much smaller) garter snake.

The nature walk was followed by the owl demonstration by Eyes on Owls. As you can see, the owl demonstration attracted a lot of kids.

After a brief intro to owls, six different owl types got shown. Of the six, I post-processed photos of four. (We got photos of the remaining two as well, but none of them struck me as interesting enough to post-process.) All of the owls they brought suffered from some sort of injury that made them unable to survive in the wild.

The screech owls:

Screech Owls

The barn owl:

Barn Owl

Barn Owl

The spectacled owl:

Spectacled Owl

Spectacled Owl

The snowy owl:

Snowy Owl

I wished I had a more telephoto lens than the 24-70mm, but thankfully the owl demonstration was pretty close to me—and the 24MP on the D750 let me crop quite a bit. At the same time, it is my understanding that for birding one wants the longest lens possible anyway. I’ve even heard that birders prefer DX camera bodies because of the crop factor. I think I understand them, but I’ll just stick to photographing mostly non-bird subjects and keep the FX sensor. I guess the world’s birds will have to be photographed by someone else. :)

Patriots' Day

I realize I’m a bit behind blahging about my photography adventures. Sorry. In early April, I ended up getting a walk-around lens I talked about previously—for reasons which I hope to discuss in another post, I ended up getting the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G. Needless to say, I’ve been using it quite a bit since.

Not even two weeks after getting the 24-70mm, the nearby Minute Man National Historical Park had number of Patriots’ Day events. I had time, so armed with the D750 and the new 24-70mm I spent the Saturday running around taking photos. The day consisted of reenactments demonstrating what 1775 was like in Wikipedia article: Concord and Wikipedia article: Lexington, as well as what the Wikipedia article: running battle on April 19th, 1775 through them looked like.

The weather was good for watching, but not the best for photography—the bright sunlight created many harsh shadows. I tried to address them in Lightroom, but many are still way too obvious. Without further ado, here are a couple of photos from the event. As always, there are more photos in the full gallery.

The reenactor registration table—I’d like to think that something like this happened in 1775 when people signed up to fight the British.

There were about two hours where the reenactors mingled.

That eventually turned into practicing in formation and getting ready for the battle.

Then all the spectators moved toward the actual road where the battle would take place. Tons of additional spectators showed up out of nowhere. To amuse us (and to keep us on the correct side of the rope) some of the volunteers provided light entertainment. For example, one was dressed as a British officer on a horse and mocked (1775-style) the crowd’s ignorance of how benevolent the British are.

Others entertained the somewhat restless kids in the crowd.

Around this time, I realized that 70mm wouldn’t be enough. Not having brought any other lenses with me, I had to make the best of it. This resulted in a copious amount of cropping in Lightroom. (Obviously, I need to get the 70-200mm f/2.8 for next time ;) )

Anyway, both the British and the revolutionaries came and went. Not having anything else to photograph in front of me, I decided to follow the reenactors down the road. Sadly, that meant not having front row access and having to shoot over people’s shoulders.

All in all, I took about 600 shots that day. The 24-70mm performed admirably. Yes, I wish I had a more telephoto lens as well, but that’s not a fault of the 24-70mm. Finally, I was pleasantly surprised that the 1650g combo (750g for the camera, 900g for the lens) did not end up feeling too heavy. It certainly was not light, but I did not feel like I had an albatross around my neck.

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