Monday, February 22, 2010

Me thinks...

There is something inherently wrong about being right. No?

What's in a name ?

Here in SF, often I go to a Starbucks coffee shop near my apartment. While they take your order, they also ask for your name and write it down on the coffee cup. Once coffee is ready, they call your name.

"Your name, please"
"Harsha ..."
"Okay", scribbles something on the coffee cup.

2-3 minutes later ...

"...sha, your coffee !"

Harsha then checks the coffee cup, and starts laughing !

Okay, here are the variants of my name that ended up on the coffee cup:



Next time, I'll say my name is Harry or something ...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lens Review: Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di LD Macro

Or in simple terms, Tamron 70-300 with macro for Canon DSLRs.

It's been an year since I've been using this lens. So, time for a review :-) or in other words, time to show off my pics taken by this lens :D


How long I've been using this lens? - One year.
How much did I pay for this? - 8500 Rs ( ~ 170 USD)

Using it as a telephoto lens:

If you are out in a bright day light, and your subject is relatively near by and still, then you can take some good pics.

Crested Serpent Eagle

If you intend to use this lens mostly for bird photography, here are the things you need to know:


Autofocus is painfully slow.

Work around:

I usually can guess the distance between me and the birds. So I switch to Manual focus, get the bird in focus, switch back to auto focus, take shots. For some reason, I haven't still perfected my manual focussing skills. I blame this on my short sight !

If you want to take pics of birds flying, then the slow auto focus is definitely a huge problem. Here is a trick I use. Start focussing on the bird while it is still far, and keep pressing the shutter button half way (auto focus) until the bird is in the frame you want. Then click :-)

Below is an example of that:

Asian Openbill Stork | In Flight

Not the best of the shots, but hey !


Autofocus is very noisy !

Work around:

Pretty much same as mentioned above. But, boy, can it get any louder !!


Pictures are not sharp:

Hmm... Humming Bird !!

Work around:

Well, use GIMP or Photoshop or whatever floats your boat :-) It actually takes sharp enough pics if you are close enough, I can't really tell the workable distance between birds and me, my guess is 10-12 feet. I know that it's ridiculous, 'cause in bird photography, it's way too hard to get close to birds. But some time I do get a chance when birds feel brave not fly off :-)

Case in point:

Waiting for mama ...


Short focus ! What I mean is that, you took a picture, focussing on bird, but after you click, and see pic in laptop, you realize that focus is offset by a small value and actual focus is somewhere else near by the bird. ( Pardon my sentence :D )

Case in point:

A Proud Bird ...

You see, instead of Bulbul, the focus in on the leaf !! It was taken using autofocus, and I was quite close to the bird as well.

Another one:

Kingfisher !

Lens totally missed the Kingfisher !

Work around:

I don't know!! manual focussing, may be. I recently started noticing it. I'm yet to figure out the pattern ...

Using it in the Macro Mode:

This lens comes with a pseudo macro capacity, from 180-300 mm, you can switch to macro mode and get closer to the subject (~ 1 meter).


Autofocus, noisy and slow.

Honestly, I am impressed with the macro shots this lens can take. Some of them came out really nice. (I guess).

You ought to have lots of patience with this lens, if you want to take a good macro. Not every macro subject stands still, like this lady bug on creeper ... Creeper moves for slightest wind, lady bug was in a hurry to get away from me :-)

Lady Bug is back !

But once in a while, there are subjects which stand still until you force them to move !

Case in point:

Princess in disguise ?

My biggest complaint:

As of now, with this lens, in aperture priority mode, I can not shoot with f value lesser than f5.6 ! Bummer ! If I try to shoot with f8 or lower, camera throws an error on LCD. I have to switch it off and on to get rid of it :( It's called 'Sticky Aperture' I guess.

My Conclusion:

I bought this lens as a cheap experimental lens to try bird photography. I had read about these problems before, but wasn't worried much.

For money it costs for this lens, it did give me quite a few good shots. But it also let me down lot of time. I've been using it for long time now, I pretty much know how to work with this lens!

If you are looking for a cheap, experimental lens for entering in to bird photography / telephoto arena, and won't mind risking some money, I would say, go for it :-)

Here [Flickr] are the few pics I've taken with this lens.

Let me know what you think !

Book stores

There is something about going to a random book store and looking at all the books on display. Time starts to flow smoothly and slowly. It's a nice experience.

I just walked in to a random book store. It was different in it's own way. I wish I had my camera to take some pictures of all the books on shelves.

I love book stores. Especially when they allow you to grab book, take a chair, sit and read.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Are you depressed?


Well, listen to this song then. Read the lyrics. I bet you will be depressed by the time song finishes ...

For a fallen angel by My Dying Bride

As I draw up my breath,
And silver fills my eyes.
I kiss her still,
For she will never rise.

On my weak body,
Lays her dying hand.
Through those meadows of Heaven,
Where we ran.

Like a thief in the night,
The wind blows so light.
It wars with my tears,
That won't dry for many years.

"Love's golden arrow
At her should have fled,
And not Death's ebon dart
To strike her dead."


On an unrelated note, here is a picture I took ...
It's a dying Dandelion.

of a fallen angel ...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sour Grapes ...

Well, It's been 3 weeks here in San Francisco, and yet I haven't managed to get my bums on a saddle :-(

I've been thinking. It must be so boring to cycle here in SF. No autos, no BMTC buses to cut you off, no potholes, no crazy pedestrians, no cows. They've got cycle lanes for FSM's sake !!

Well, the cycle I've been lusting after costs me $2100 (~1,00,000 Rs) ...

Should I ? Should I not?

Red Pill? Blue Pill?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Can I see your credit card?

"Hi, I would like to rent a cycle for this week ..."

"Okay, Can I see your credit card and an ID please ?"

"Umm, I don't have a credit card ..."

"Sorry, no bike then ..."

"Huh ..."