Posts Tagged ‘birch’

Aquarium Two

4 January 2009

Dear J-

flickr tells me that it’s been almost exactly six months since we were last at the Birch Aquarium (June 2008) and prior to that, eight months (October 2007), which implies that a yearly membership may not be financially justified (especially if they keep up these secret deals — first Sunday of the month free to Bank of America customers?).  Regardless of visit frequency, it’s less about the undersea wonders that await (I suspect that their old octopus must have gone to see the Great Cephalapod of the Sky, as the current resident of that tank is significantly smaller) than it is about photographic philosophy.

You see, when I took pictures six months ago, figgy was interested but not fascinated by the sea’s residents and animals in general, and the pictures bear it out — I’ve got photographs of fish and atmospheric lobster shots (okay, shot) but relatively few pictures of figgy, who spent most of the day in a stroller or strapped to my chest like some sort of two-headed beast out of Total RecallThis time, there are fewer fish shots — and virtually no shots sans people, in general.  I chalk part of it up to not knowing where we would end up prior to setting off, and thus neglecting to bring along a fast lens, but I ended up being glad I hadn’t — I’ll see the fish at other times, and they’ll still be fascinating.  But watching a twenty-month-old figgy laughing at how that silvery river swirls — that’s something that happens, well, once.


So the lens, for all the lenses I have access to (on the Nikon adapter, 15, 24, 35, 50, 55, 85, 105, 180, 300, 400, 600, 80~200, and 100~300mm; on the Leica R adapter, 35, 50, and 60 — it was no joke when I said most of my grad school stipend went up in glass costs), the lens that lives most often on the camera and the lens that consequently has borne the brunt of my photographic ambitions for the past sixty days or so, is an autofocus zoom lens, with no distinguishing characteristic (e.g. marketing-speak for special glass, motors, coatings, heritage, etc.) aside from a few aspherical surfaces:  the Zuiko Digital 11~22mm f/2.8~3.5, which roughly corresponds to being a 22~44mm angle of view on a regular 35mm film camera.  It’s what I had today; I found myself increasingly drawn to watching figgy’s reactions to the fish, rather than the fish themselves, and a (relatively) fast wide-angle proved perfect for that.  I still wish I had a bit more speed, but anything wider wouldn’t have the same spread in focal length, and thus wouldn’t be quite as useful for me.  And with that said, I find myself rarely venturing much wider than equivalent f=28mm, so … stay tuned.


Aquarium Lens

22 June 2008

Dear J-

As part of the campaign to find air conditioned spaces in San Diego (the four major malls closest to us — University Towne Center, Fashion Valley, Mission Valley, and Horton Plaza — are all outdoor malls) we spent part of the afternoon going through the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.  When I was younger my imagination was sparked by the romance of the sea, specifically treasure-hunting sunken-ship divers like Mel Fisher (who discovered Atocha) and, later, folks with a more scientific bent like Robert Ballard (Titanic and Bismarck).  Dr. Ballard worked for Woods Hole, who always maintained a friendly rivalry with their West Coast counterparts, that same Scripps we visited today.

But onwards to the lens; put simply, bring along the fastest lens you can lay your hands on.  Today, I used a f/1.8 lens wide-open at ISO 800 and still found myself wishing for a bit more speed for some situations.  The angle of view was equivalent to a 100mm lens on 35mm film (10 degrees, horizontally), which turned out pretty much perfect to frame most of my shots without getting in anyone’s way, or getting anyone else’s fingers in my way.  Maybe for 10% of the shots I would have chosen something a little wider — the octopus in full fury, cruising along the glass was a sight to behold, and some of the larger sharks would have been nice to get a full-body shot of up close — but the humble little Nikkor did the trick today.  In fact, the only thing that would have been better would have been a macro lens — thus the Digital Zuiko 50 f/2 I keep telling myself I need to save for.

It’s a nice aquarium to visit; not so huge that figgy got bored halfway through; this time she delighted in pointing at the numerous fish all capering seemingly for her entertainment.  The crowds were thin enough that we never had to wait an interminable amount of time for our turn at the window.  Funny how all at once it strikes you, sometimes; I asked theVet several times today when it was that we had this daughter.  For some reason it feels both like forever and forever new, all at once.