January 03, 2009


There is a word in Japanese, 試し切り (tameshigiri), sometimes associated with the Samurai. Literally, it translates to trying (試し) cutting (切り), and according to myth it refers to the act of "trying out one's new sword", often on a random passerby. It's unsure how much truth there is to this, though. I would expect that anyone living in feudal Japan would soon learn to give swordsmith shops a wide berth on the off chance a Samurai was picking up a new order.

Regardless, it's a fascinating (albeit gruesome) story. Whether or not Samurai actually stepped outside and sliced some poor chap in half to make sure their sword "worked", I'm sure many of us can relate to the concept. Who doesn't want to run right out and start playing with a particularly coveted new toy the moment it is out of the box? I have been guilty of tameshigiri, more often than I could count. Although, to my knowledge no one's blood has ever been shed as a result (except, on occasion, for my own).

While I didn't get a new sword to try out I did get a package in the mail that I'd been waiting for, a new lens for my camera (Canon EF 50mm F1.8, my first prime (non telephoto/zoom) lens). As soon as I ripped open the box I wanted to try it out. When you get a new lens, the first few pictures are always special. Here are the first two images taken with this one:

This one isn't all that great a picture, and there's a bit of noise in it from me fiddling around too much in Photoshop, but it is the very first one taken with the new lens. So it's a keeper.

This one turned out way more better. The sharpness is pretty good, even with the low light. The contrast is good between each of the objects, too. All around not bad for just sitting on the couch taking a picture of the coffee table.

Well, this morning dawned bright and clear, so I thought I'd try it out in some light, too.

I took Luna along too, although it was a bit cold for her. I think the two years we spent in Arizona made her forget she was born and raised an Alaskan dog. This is her shivering on the shore of Lake McDonald.

I hope you all appreciate what I went through to get this picture. I was up by the park's entrance sign taking some photos of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River (I wasn't happy with any of those) when I saw the sun lighting up some spruce trees down by the river. So I hopped the huge snowbank along the road and post-holed my way down into the forest. I knew we had a lot of the white stuff, but it's been a while since I tried walking through snow that was deeper than my waist. Not an easy task.

And once I got down there I was so pooped I just flopped back into the snow to take a break. That's when I looked up at this tree that was blocking the sun and thought the snow looked cool all highlighted like that.

Then, this evening I drove into town to get some groceries and caught a glimpse of that amazing phenomenon you see in the mountains during winter sometimes. When the fresh snow on the mountains captures the last rays of the sun, contrasted by the dark clouds behind, it looks like the mountain is glowing from within.

I'm really quite happy with this lens. Definitely worth the price! I think this little beauty will be attached to my camera quite frequently in the months to come.


Patrick Belardo said...

Great shots! Have fun with the new lens.

Steve said...

nice new toy! i'm so jealous. i'm still leaning to something that'll get me up to 300mm for my next lens. probably the Nikon 70-300mm AF-S VR. but you already had the 300mm range covered- right?

so what sold you on the 50mm fixed focal length route?

P. Ollig said...

The f1.8 is what sold me. I've been constantly frustrated with my other lenses inability to capture images in low light situations. Besides, this lens was only $75.

And yes, we're already covered in the 300mm department. The next long lens I'm getting is the Canon EF f5.6 400mm IS prime lens. But it's gonna take a while to save up the $1200 for that one. I can guarantee that we'll have it before we go on our Africa trip, though.

Paul Spade said...

HI Paul,
Paul Spade here from Montana Stock Photos, Columbia Falls (Hidden Lake Trail). Looks like you're doing real well with your photos.

So what does a Glacier Park Ranger do in the winter time? How did things go wityh your wife's Grizzly project?

Paul Spade

Owlman said...

Nice shots! You mentioned an Africa trip - where are you going? I'd still love a good telephoto lens with a new body, but that's been put on hold with little kids running around and cost me an arm and leg just in doctor's visits!

P. Ollig said...

We're planning on hitting Kenya, Tanzania and either Uganda or Rwanda. The last two depend on which country makes it easier to get a gorilla trekking permit. I'm cautiously optimistic that we'll be able to go by next spring (2010). We'll see, though.

Scarlet-Winter said...

Hi! I was wandering what type of bird is in the picture at the head of your blog page?

P. Ollig said...

That's a Vermillian Flycatcher. I took that in my backyard when I lived in Arizona. One of the most beautiful birds in North America, in my opinion.