All posts by Mark

2013 Ural Patrol Spotted

I finally got a chance to get a picture of a decent Ural. This one was a 2013 Ural Patrol. The owner showed up while I was taking a photo and talked to me about it for a while. He loves the bike and had good things to say about it.

Ural Patrol Sidecar Motorcycle
2013 Ural Patrol Sidecar Motorcycle


2013 Ural Patrol with sidecar.
2013 Ural Patrol 2WD motorcycle with a sidecar.

After reading so much about these motorcycles, I’ve come to love them. Although the owner of this one was happy, many other are not. All of the things that they site as being problematic make this bike sound like a better hobby than a Harley-Davidson.

These bikes are Russian made wonders. They have a reputation for breaking often and being unreliable. I wouldn’t want one for my only motorcycle, but for one that’s not mission critical(i.e. getting to work or taking long trips), I wouldn’t mind working on one. The trade-off would be that when you can get this motorcycle to go, it can go anywhere.

More 50mm Prime Lens Love

I’ve learned to enjoy photography more by buying less equipment and mastering the lower cost equipment that I do have. By ignoring the latest, greatest stuff and concentrating on actually learning the art and practicing it, my wallet doesn’t get cleaned out and mastering the camera comes faster.

Part of this less is more philosophy is learning the limits of your camera. The 50mm lens has serious limits, but only in the fact that it cannot zoom. It’s sharpness, low light capabilities, and bokeh(background blur) rival other lenses that costs many thousands of dollars, but the 50mm 1.8 for a Canon DSLR only cost about $100.

Here is an example of insect photography with the 50mm. I was only a few inches away on auto-focus and I really like the results.

Side view of a butterfly on a wildflower
Side view of a butterfly on a wildflower.
Wingspan of a butterfly on a wildflower.
View of a butterfly wingspan on a wildflower.

The Amazing Power Of Superzooms

This video was shot on a cloudy day from a mono pod with a Canon SX50 super zoom. It’s not a great video, but good enough to demonstrate the power of a super zoom and the numerous opportunities that such a camera gives for a low price.

While the zoom power of the lens is incredible for a camera that costs less than $400, note the numerous photo opportunities that can be taken. The steeple, the factory, the clock on the courthouse, the list goes on. I that same inexpensive little camera, I can get interesting closeup shots of the old tombstones too.

Of course, the quality of the image is not going to be as high it would be if I used a DSLR with lenses that would cost many thousands of dollars, but I can still take very good images that allow creativity to flow with ease.

I only use my Canon SX50 as an example because that is what I own. There are many other super zoom cameras that are better suited to you. All the major manufacturers have one. I bought my daughter a Panasonic FX70 that is highly comparable. It’s lacking a swivel viewfinder which I prefer, the menu system is different from what I’m accustomed to, and it’s a larger camera. It’s really just a matter of personal preference.

The downside to the super zoom cameras are that they are lacking compared to higher quality cameras. Good lighting is always preferred for super zoom as their low-light performance just isn’t that great. This can be overcome with a tripod and longer exposure times. The super zoom lens distortion is more noticeable and it’s not uncommon for the camera to produce more noise.

I’ve found that Photoshop can correct many of the shortcomings of a super zoom, even the lens distortion. Better in-camera photos are always a plus, but digital editing is one way to make due. The skills learned transfer to any camera later too. Even very high end cameras produce images that benefit from digital editing skills.

Just Can’t Sell Her

Shadow Ready For 2014
Shadow Ready For 2014

I bought this bike so long ago now I forget when me and the bank settled terms on her. In today’s world, her little 750cc engine and 24 inch high seat makes her a bit wanting in a sea of mega cc bikes with huge power.  At 100mph, she screams for mercy and it takes a long time to get her there.

I walked into the sorriest of sorry Honda dealerships on a lunch break one day, seen this bike and told them I’d take it. Oh the painful bullshit they put me through to get this bike. Just sell me the bike already. I didn’t need a test ride or anything as I could tell by looking that this bike would work for what I needed. I needed a little recaptured youth, old school flared out fenders, and low – I like low. Low makes a slow bike seem faster.

What really drew me to her was the size. My friend has an old panhead and the Shadow was closer to size and performance than a real Harley was.

So I get it. Instantly, it’s youth recaptured. People are mad I bought it once I get it home. I don’t care. When people are upset, that’s generally a good sign that fun’s about to happen. This bike is my reprieve from cubicle hell.

I’ve taken this bike to a lot of places, some of which it didn’t belong, just because I can. Biker rallies, no problem. Dentists and lawyers on $35K special edition dream bikes weep when I pull in.  I don’t need fancy patches, a hefty payment, and a 1000 pound rolling sofa to prove anything to anybody. Never had a bad word from anybody about my faux Harley. Unless you want 200+ pounds of ex-Infantry coming at you, best to keep comments about my little Honda out of earshot.  Chances are I’ll have you laughing and shaking hands before anyone gets hurt anyhow.

This bikes been everywhere I’ve wanted it to go. The Mighty Mack Bridge in Michigan is the most memorable. I had a group of sofa riders back out on me due to scary weather, went alone despite that, and had a great time anyhow. A few 400 mile trips to Maryland to see old friends, every country 2 lane in Ohio and West Virginia, and more to come someday.

This Spring, at 8 years old, she fought me a little to get fired up, but finally sparked off and changed her mind.  A full throttle ride on a cold morning through the countryside past the old churches and livestock in pastures seemed to remind her of what she’s here for though. Here’s to another season with her reluctantly running like a wounded banshee through he hills again. I’m not selling her yet.

Time Takes It’s Toll

It’s strange how an old barn falling apart in the middle of the country doesn’t have the same eyesore effect that a building in the city does. In the country, it just seems like a natural, inevitable process.  All around this old barn McMansions are springing up and large commercial farms are still operating in full swing. This old relic is just a good place for vultures to roost now.

Old decaying barn.
Old barn rots away.

Old decaying barn

Pulley for hay bales on an old barn.
Pulley for hay bales on an old barn.

Work Horse Coming To Say Hello

Some folks have wishes, dreams, and demands for where they live.  From mountain tops to ocean fronts, their laundry list for the perfect place is diverse. For me, if I can get on my motorcycle, ride five minutes and be in the country with the deer, turkey, horses, and farms, good enough.

Today, I road 15 minutes and came upon these workhorses in a field. It was a beautiful sight. In general, workhorses are the most gentle lumbering beasts that love people.

Workhorse in a field.
Workhorse in a field in Central Ohio.

Spring Is Here And I’m Ready For More Photography.

I tried to brave the cold this winter and work on my photography hobby regardless of the weather, but Winter just sucks after a while. If I’m not enjoying it, why do it? I managed some, but the majority of my time for photography was spent learning more about the craft through books, websites, and tutorials.

I’m hooked on trying street photography now. There’s disputable definitions for what street photography is, so in my opinion, it’s whatever I want it to be. The description for me is wandering around and taking photos of whatever is interesting. I like the definition of “people on the street in that are not posed”. I think that is more of a style though than an entire genre of photography and I’m not ready to intrude into people’s lives like that yet. If I were taking photos like that, I’d want them to be good enough for people to appreciate my intrusion. I would like to change my outlook by improving my skills to that level though.

As I work towards photos of people on the streets, I’m starting where the people are not identifiable or those that probably wouldn’t mind. This lady was walking around taking photos of others and scenes and she was attractive with bright green hair. I don’t think she was to shy for a photo.

Lady with bright green hair.
A lady with green hair.

This gentleman was walking in Newark, Ohio on a sunny Spring day with an umbrella. Springtime in Ohio calls for carrying rain gear all of the time, because you never really know when you’ll need it. I noticed the shapes of the windows in the brick wall and was waiting for anyone to wonder into the scene to make it more interesting. 

Man walking in sunshine with umbrella.
Man walking with umbrella.

This photo is through a railroad bridge. Men working and a person walking in deep thought drew my interest and the bridge made a natural frame for the scene.

Men working and a person walking in thought.
A scene of life in progress as viewed from under a railroad bridge.

Alarm Bells

My photography hobby has taken to the streets more. In the process I’ve started to notice the details of the city in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Normal people don’t really examine the details of what is happening in a city.

I’d like to do some street photography, but it’s good to have people available for that. There are very few people on Newark’s streets compared to big cities. The ones that are there aren’t just out enjoying the area either. They are there to get something done and get out.

Man walking in an alley.
Man walking in an alley.

I won’t give the full story on this guy because I was about 3 blocks away to take this photo and I can’t prove my suspicions, but I’ll be watching this area a little closer with a camera. My instincts tell me he was up to no good.  I still liked the look of the photo though.

Spring Is Almost Here

It finally was warm enough for a comfortable long hike so I went to Dawes Arboretum this morning to check it out.  The pond is still frozen over and the trails were muddy, but the birds were out. –

Pond at Dawes Arboretum In March
Bench overlooking the pond and island at Dawes Arboretum in early March.


Blue Jay On A Branch
A Blue Jay
Cardinal peeking out from cover.
Cardinal peeking From Cover


Pondering Before Spring

2 guys pondering things while watching a river.
Pondering while watching a river.

There’s a little park with a spillway close to my house that really isn’t much to see, but it’s nice to watch the water go over and during a winter thaw, the roar of the water drowns your troubles and cares away for a little while.

I don’t know what these 2 guys were pondering on the other side of the spillway, but as I was pondering, I noticed they were too. I kind of wished I had a pipe as it appeared to make the task more interesting.

I was pondering what to do with the upcoming Spring and how to get through what’s left of Winter.  I spent the better part of the Winter using my free time to study photography like  mad. I spent an inordinate amount of time learning some Photoshop techniques. I think it was a good investment of time because with my new skills, I can get more use out of the cameras I have.  Motorcycle season is coming up and less money spent on cameras leaves more for gas money to go explore.

I also spent a lot of time studying street photography. There’s a lot of argument in that genre of photography as to what  “street” photography even really is. I’m just a novice, so from my perspective, it’s just photographers that take a massive number of snapshots of their life as it unfolds before their camera. Out of those thousands of photos, some great photos emerge. That’s not to say that the thousands that don’t make the cut aren’t worth something. These photographers use each mistake to get closer and closer to the great shots. That style of photography suits me fine and I’m going to try more of it.

I’m giving up the dream of a really high end camera too. What a waste for what I’m trying to accomplish. I’m never going to be a professional. I’ve learned what professionals have to do to make a meager living and I’m not looking to turn a fine hobby into a job anyhow. The world has enough people trying to be professional photographers and judging by demand and salary, they need computer programmers more. I’ll leave the professional equipment for the professionals.

I’ll stick with a bridge camera. They don’t do everything well, but they do everything. The world of cameras is changing and certainly for the better. I’ll spend the money on books and experiences instead of equipment. The photos will be good enough for now.

So in short, the results of pondering that day was a rough map of where I want to take photography. I just want to record some moments from everyday life and I want to fill life with experiences worth taking photos of. Easy enough.