Saturday, November 28, 2015

Changing the tires

This time of year, I have a debate with myself. Is it time to change the tires, yet?

Permanently out to pasture

Permanently out to pasture

It’s gone from unseasonably warm to unseasonably cold pretty fast. I didn’t spend enough time riding this year. Too much work, too little bicycle is a bad thing. A very bad thing. I miss my saddle time. This year I have had some great riding experiences, and some struggles, but I just don’t think I put enough miles under the bike to call it over just yet.

At some point, I’ll walk to the window with a steaming mug of coffee in hand and stare out over the snow piling up outside. I’ll pull out my phone and check the temperature. I’ll look out and consider again. And then I’ll admit that winter has won and start the process of changing out the tires on the bicycle.

Winter rides are solitary

Winter rides are solitary

Souls who are more hearty than I change their tires for studded ones and continue to ride outside. I am a weenie, and change mine for the worn out slicks I use while the bike is on the trainer. In the past, I’ve ridden outside as much as I can in the cold, but lately I’ve just switched over to walking during the winter months. There’s already been some significant wind chill this winter, and moving at a higher speed just exacerbates that problem. And while I have a pretty good track record riding on the snow and ice without any nasty spills, riding on the streets with cars on the snow and ice makes me a bit nervous.

So this morning, I got up and looked outside and wondered if it was time. Time to switch in to full winter mode, and change the tires. To peruse Netflix and prepare the winter queue for hours of putting the bike on the trainer and pedaling. The addition of HBO Go this year should at least improve my viewing options. But today I am being an optimist. I’m not giving up on having that last ride outside just yet.

Besides, I can’t remember where I put the other tires anyway.

Changing the tires

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Meyer-Optik Görlitz Orestegon 29mm f2.8

Some time ago I wrote about the best commie glass I had encountered thus far, the Meyer-Optik Görlitz Orestron 50mm f1.8. That lens was the sweet spot of sharpness, good construction, and ridiculously low price. shoot-472When a Meyer-Optik Görlitz Orestegon 29mm f2.8 came up, I clicked buy it now and wanted to see what it could do. The seller indicated it had a very faint cleaning mark, but I can’t see it. The focus is a little bit stiff, but for $40, I figured if it worked at all it was a win.

I ran a couple of rolls through and realized, yet again, that those East Germans had not let me down. The build quality was just as solid on this lens. It’s a solid, all metal construction with a nice looking zebra paint scheme. It’s a good sized piece of glass, the fattest M42 lens I’ve bought. But the results, though, really appealed to me.

shoot-471The only review I’d found of the Orestegon before I bought it sung the praises of how it handled color reproduction. And yes, it does very well with that, giving a nice vintage look that is not terribly surprising given it is a nice vintage lens. But black and white is where the Orestegon shines most strongly. It gives a nice contrast to the images, and the light fall off in the corners works for me. Even though it’s a wide, the distortion isn’t all that noticeable. It is a multi-coated design, and it resists flare very well. The close focus distance, just like the 50mm, is very close. Really, I can’t find much to dislike about the lens, especially at the price.


Top of Green Mountain. The meter said this was very overexposed, but it was a bit under.

It has exposed a couple of problems with the M42 body I own, namely an annoying light leak and a meter than has gone less than accurate. But having good M42 lenses to shoot with makes me certain to replace the body with something better. So there’s a bit of shopping going on there.

Of course, I am now also interested in the Meyer-Optik offerings in 35mm focal distance, since it’s my favorite. The hunt for that lens is on the horizon. Communist lenses with great build quality, consistent performance, and multi-coating. Sure, they have some imperfections, but they are ones I find attractive. I find perfect lenses sterile and boring anyway. Given the price is absurdly low to boot, there’s nothing to dislike.

Meyer-Optik Görlitz Orestegon 29mm f2.8

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Coffee Days

Unforeseen snow on the ground, a bite in the air, and winter is here. I was considering going out, and wondering if I should, but I think it’s going to be a coffee day.

I love coffee days. They’re productive, but in their own specific way. They usually start when I have the last cup in the pot, and then decide that wasn’t enough. A second pot is a luxury. I never get one before I go to work on the weekdays. It’s rare I have the opportunity to have the time to enjoy a second pot. When I do, it’s something I always savor.

Without coffee days, this website wouldn’t exist. One happened early in January of 2014. I had been considering doing a web site for a while, but I thought about how many pitfalls it entailed. How could I come up with new content on a consistent basis? What if I was so boring no one cared if the site existed? So I decided, on the second pot of the day, that I wanted to find out.

I always get good ideas on coffee days. The first bicycle tour. The dedication to complete a novel. The decision to leave the worst relationship of my life and the decision to begin the best one.

I’m not hip enough to frequent many coffee shops, but when I do like one, I’m dedicated to them. This morning’s coffee is Danger Monkey from Pablo’s. I’ve had cups there on random walks and before camping trips and hikes. I drink a lot of Huckleberry coffee as well, exposed to it on a whim one afternoon. My only field trip to Boyer’s school house cafe led to their coffee being in the cupboard often. I’m lucky there’s so many options in this city. I’ll be busy trying new places out and adding to my repertoire for a while yet.

shoot-469So what’s today’s coffee day going to lead to? It’s too early to tell. There’s some development to finish and a final edit of images for a project to be done. The 90,000 word goal of the novel isn’t going to get closer without putting some time on the laptop. There’s some travel planning that needs to be attended to. And, looming in the background of it all, the mountains are calling me and I feel that soon, I must go.

But first, coffee.


Pablo’s Danger Monkey- an excellent dark roast

Huckleberry Roasters- no bad choices here, but I love the Ethiopia Ardi

Boyer’s Coffee- Site of the first Rocky Mountain Film meetup

Coffee Days

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Temptation of the path

I can resist a great many things, but not the temptation of a really good path.

I mean a good path. A really good path. Not some urban ramble of a couple of miles of sidewalk. Not some ambling squiggle though some downtown park where you never really get out of the sounds of traffic and car horns. That’s pretty much what I think of as commuting. And while commuting by foot is good for you, it’s not inspiring to the soul. It requires headphones and podcasts to distract you. It is the brussels sprouts of the offerings on the plate of hiking and biking.

Some folks really like brussels sprouts. If that’s your thing, then more power to you. But I can always look at them and say, no thank you.

Even if you cover them with cheese.

shoot-466A really good hiking path is surrounded by pines, and scrambles across rocks. It has a nice spot or two to just sit in the sun as the wind blows past and allows you to look down on a valley or river. It switchbacks when the grade gets tough, and gives you a nice spot or two to stop and look around while you catch your breath.

A really good bike path is mostly gravel or chat. It can give you some pavement, preferably asphalt, just to make you appreciate how smooth and beautiful it can be. Just enough to make up some time and get closer to lunch while you listen to the thrum of your wheels along it as you kick it up a notch and cover ground. But mostly, it needs to crunch as you go.

shoot-468It needs to connect something. A town or two, a good picnic spot, a nice overlook or lake to sit by are preferred. It needs to have character. The really long ones that can string all of that together are what I like best. If you can add in cool air and the crunch of leaves under your wheels, then you get bonus points.

And if you can throw in a good spot with a mean burger or tasty pizza along the way, well, I’m sold. I can’t resist it, and if you’ll excuse me, I need to be on my way.

Temptation of the path

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The one that fits- revisiting the Nikon F3

“Digital photographers buy cameras because they’re better than last years model. Film peeps are just looking for the one that suits them best” Dan K

When I first started this site, the very first Gear Wednesday post was an ode to the Nikon F3. I’d used one back in the day, and lusted after one, and finally gotten one. And it was a perfect fit.

An out take from this summer's project shot on the F3 with a 35mm f/2 on Rollei CR200

An out take from this summer’s project shot on the F3 with a 35mm f/2 on Rollei CR200

I tend to put some cameras down and not pick them up for a long time, and some just go away from me as a result. But this one gets picked up over and over again. There are many reasons. It’s about as bullet proof a camera as I have ever used, electronics and all. It’s not a young camera either, the serial numbers indicate it was made in December of 1983, so next month it will be thirty two years old. It’s been given a CLA once to my knowledge. I think the seals are original. I change the batteries in it once a year. The LCD works well, although one segment is getting a little dim.

Unlike almost everything else from that era, the ergonomics actually work. That is a testament to the genius of Giorgetto Giugiaro. Not much else from that era has any ergonomic utility at all. It’s still a  joy to use. When I pick it up it simply fits my hand. The viewfinder gives the right amount of information, and all of the controls are exactly where I expect them to be. Even though there is only a simple spot meter, it’s perfect every time. It’s the most automated camera I own, and I think it’s just the right amount. Anything more than this and I would be leaving it on the shelf instead of using it.

shoot-463I’ve only picked up a couple of lenses for it. A Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 and a 35mm f/2. Both sharp and well built. They fit my style of storytelling. I toy with the idea of a wide, like a 24mm or maybe wider, and I’d love to pick up a 85mm for portraits. I doubt I’ll ever get anything beyond that, though.

It still sounds like a love story when I write about this camera. It’s the one that suits me best.


Dan K’s images. And his Twitter.

The one that fits- revisiting the Nikon F3

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Inclusive photography

I was looking back on some of my reviews, and trying to see if any of the things I loved were worthy of revisiting. I did decide on one, the Nikon F3, and started to do a little more research on the camera, and why it still appeals to me after all this time. I will still revisit the camera in a future review, but the research derailed me. I looked at the referring data on the present review, just to see what search engine queries had brought people to it. I was curious to see what people wanted to know about the camera. But one that I found set me off. “Nikon F3 good for girl to use” read the query.


One of the worst things about photography is that it is a boy’s club. The reasons are legion. Photography was invented at a time and place when women had no real rights. Photographers were men. Photography was serious work and women did not do serious work. That attitude didn’t start to change for quite a while, and it still exists.

But here’s the thing. Just because something is a certain way doesn’t mean it should be.

Photography needs to change. Photography has to change. The majority of human beings on planet Earth are female. Discouraging them from being photographers isn’t going to help the longevity of photography. Inclusive works. Exclusive dies.


The rocket ship statute that looks like a laser cannon. That Shanghai film was lousy, but it works here.

Yes, there are many, many other things that are unequal and they all need to be addressed. Every single damn one of them. But photographers can start in their own area. It’s pretty simple to do. Just don’t be a dick, and stop looking down at people. In fact, those are pretty good things to do in general. People don’t generally hang out in groups that don’t make them welcome.

So to the person who wondered if the Nikon F3 is a good camera for a girl, I’m pretty sure you’re making assumptions I don’t like. Are you worried it’s too complicated for a girl to use? Are you worried it’s too serious a tool for a girl to use?

I’ll tell you the best camera for a woman to use: the one she likes. If she wants to give a F3 a try, stop being condescending and get out of the way. If she likes the F3, then it’s for her. If she doesn’t, she’ll try something else.

Photos today by my beloved, Stephanie. She is really good with a Holga (that in-camera diptych up top is one of my favorite ever). I need to replace her broken one so she’ll shoot more!

Inclusive photography