Gorgeous & Aromatic

Tiger lily (Lilium) – Poolesville, Maryland

This gorgeous bloom is currently in our side yard, putting all of the other flowers to shame and wafting the most amazing scent all around. It’s some form of Tiger Lily (Lilium), but I can’t track down the exact type because there are just so many of them. It came in a flower display of some sort that we enjoyed, then Cindy planted it outside, where it is definitely thriving.


Photo info:
Tiger Lily (Lilium)
Poolesville, Maryland
July 2021
Voigtländer 65/2.0 APO Macro lens
Sony a7 III digital camera

That Special Pop

Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) – Wheaton, Maryland

One of my all time favorite lenses is the Zeiss C Sonnar T* 50/1.5 ZM, which produces an amazing “pop” to a subject when used with the aperture wide-open. It’s very light and quite compact for its specific focal length and aperture, comes with the renowned Zeiss T* anti-reflective lens coatings, has the Leica M-mount which can be used on a wide variety of camera bodies, and creates that special “pop” that some Zeiss lenses are legendary for. For a good example of what I’m describing, check out an earlier post of mine here.

Usually one can get good separation between the subject and the background by using a telephoto lens, but that gets more challenging as the lens focal length gets shorter, even with bigger apertures. It also gets even more challenging when using digital cameras versus 35mm film, because digital is so unforgiving. When using digital cameras, my all-time favorite 50mm lens is the Leica Summilux 50/1.4 ASPH, which produces the smoothest, most buttery-gorgeous bokeh I’ve ever seen in a lens. It’s also horrifically expensive ($4,795). When using 35mm film cameras, my all-time favorite 50mm lens is the Zeiss Sonnar that I already mentioned, at a much more reasonable cost ($1,261). However, the Zeiss Sonnar is a classic lens design dating back to the 1930s that doesn’t play well with color digital images, due to pretty severe chromatic aberrations. If the digital image is converted to monochrome, then the Sonnar 50/1.5 really sings with its beautiful separation between the subject and the background. But color imaging remains problematic for it.

Enter the Voigtländer APO-Lanthar 65/2.0 Macro lens.

Unlike the prior two lenses that I already mentioned, the Voigtländer 65/2.0 APO was designed from the ground up to be specifically used for Sony digital cameras. Even though the 50mm focal length has been a longtime favorite of mine, I love the results from this slightly longer 65mm lens even more – because I can use it as an all-around super lens. The APO in the name denotes that this is an apochromatic lens design, which focuses light so precisely that it virtually eliminates chromatic aberrations. Likewise, when shooting this lens wide-open, it delivers that “pop” between the subject and the background that’s so reminiscent of the classic Zeiss Sonnar look that I love, along with creamy bokeh that is reminiscent of the Leica Summilux that I love. But wait, there’s more! It’s also an APO macro lens that focuses down to a reproduction ratio of 1:2, and – the best part yet – it’s very affordable ($949). Quite the package for just one lens.

At any rate, I plan to introduce more images shot with this fantastic lens over time, as I get more comfortable with using it.


Photo info:
Japanese maple (Acer palmatum)
Brookside Gardens
Wheaton, Maryland
July 2021
Voigtländer 65/2.0 APO Macro lens
Sony a7 III digital camera

Summer Purples

Blooms – Wheaton, Maryland

Blooms, blooms, and more blooms. When you visit anyplace that figures “gardens” prominently in their title, it’s a good bet that there will be lots and lots of blooms to view and appreciate – such is the case with Brookside Gardens. The last time I was here was nearly two decades ago and it’s had major improvements during my absence – elevated boardwalks, a new visitors center, many plantings that I don’t recall – the list goes on.

It’s funny… I absolutely hated visiting places like this when I was a kid. My mom was big into flowers and gardening, and would drag me practically kicking and screaming to various professional gardens whenever we moved to a new state. And now? Now I love them and seek them out.

The change for me was my last photography job, where I worked in an audiovisual 24/7 sweatshop down on K Street NW in Washington, DC. I was hired there in the spring of 1988 initially as the sole optical photographer (everyone else was a Genigraphics computer artist), and I worked excessively long hours shooting all of the optical images that we produced – many hundreds of thousands of images by the time I left there some four years later. Product shots, studio shots, composite insertion shots, black and white Kodalith slides, E-6 color duplication slides, Ektachrome slide composites – you name it, I shot it.

All of this photography work was done in a dark room. Scratch that… all of this was done in a completely BLACK room, including the ceiling and floors. Due to cross contamination issues from any other color source, every square inch of that room was painted flat matte pitch black, and every crack that emitted light was sealed tightly shut. When the lights went out – which was 90% of my hours each work day – that room was the complete absence of all light. It was black-hole-level-of-darkness personified. And believe me, that wasn’t a job for anyone with nyctophobia or vertigo.

By the time I was six months into that job, I began seeking out anything that wasn’t black. By the time I left it, I was addicted to pure color. Bright color. Saturated color. Jackhammer-to-the-eyes color. And I discovered that one of the very best places to find pure unadulterated colors were the professional gardens, which I have loved and enjoyed visiting ever since.


Photo info:
Flower blooms
Brookside Gardens
Wheaton, Maryland
July 2021
Voigtländer 65/2.0 APO Macro lens
Sony a7 III digital camera