Buried Treasure…

Yashica Mat-124

Yashica Mat-124 (front). A solid garage sale find.

What’s new?

A lot of new and exciting things have happened since I last blogged.  I know it’s been a while.  But where have I been you ask?  What could have kept me away for so long?

More international travel!

I was able to work it out with my new manager to allow me to take a week off to travel to Italy.  I was going with a group of my friends from college, to celebrate the marriage of my old buddy/college roommate Thien, and his husband, Stephen.  I was honored to be one of his three best men. It was my first time there, and I would love to go back again.  I will likely blog about this in a separate post, just like I will for my trip to Europe last year, or my road trip last year.  I have so many photos to share, it’s pretty ridiculous.  But, my blog isn’t a buffet, it’s like a soup kitchen.  I don’t want my readers to over-stuff themselves on the abundant, but slightly bland heaps of 12 different types of pasta, but to appreciate it when I provide tiny tasty morsels every once in a while.  So, hopefully you haven’t died of starvation, and you’ll be coming back for every tasty bit.

New Digs!

I finally moved into my new apartment, in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.  I’ve been slowly organizing my stuff, and one the things I’ve really enjoying is having my photos printed, cutting some mats, framing them, and hanging them.  I had a few unfortunate mishaps, as I found out the hard way that Command adhesive strips aren’t quite strong enough to support some of my larger frames.

And lastly, but not leastly…

New Knee!

So, this one is a bit of a bummer, but unfortunately for me, I tore my ACL playing soccer, when an opposing play collided with my fully extended (and quite shapely, might I add) leg.  It looks like I will have to have surgery if I ever want to be as active as I want to be, but it’s not urgent, and rehab is typically about a year.  I haven’t scheduled it yet, but I’ll probably wait until the end of the summer to do it, when I have less stuff I want to do.  I can get around just fine for the time being, as long as I’m not trying to run or anything.

New cameras!

In the past month, I’ve been able to buy 4 new cameras.  Well, to be honest, I bought 3 old used cameras, and received 1 new camera that I had bought in March.  The cameras I’m referring to are the Yashica Mat-124, the Kodak Duaflex II, the Voigtlander Vito II, and the Nikon D800. I actually got my D800 a few weeks ago, but haven’t really gotten the chance to use it. And for the other 3, if you’ve been following my instagram, @justinjle, you might have seen them already, and know that I found them at a garage sale in Minneapolis.  I am so stoked about these old cameras though, as I got the 3 for a great deal (I think, anyway).  My friend, Anh-Tram went garage-sale-ing, and came across a box of old cameras, and showed me a pic of them on her iphone. I just had to get down there and check them out for myself, and I ended up walking away with these 3 for $75. I’m not sure the Voigtlander works, and the Kodak is a bit scratched, and pretty dusty, but the Yashica seems to be pretty clean, in great condition, and the light meter seems to be working as well.  In any case, it’s really nice to look at, and feels really solid in the hands.  I ended up buying a roll of 120 film to run through it to see if it works.  In any case, it’s so nice, I thought I’d post a couple photos I took of it with my D800 & a couple of old Nikon manual focus lenses.

The Yashica Mat-124

Yashica Mat-124

Yashica Mat-124 (front). A solid garage sale find.

Yashica Mat-124

The Yashica Mat-124 (top-down view through the waist-level viewfinder). Inside of the viewfinder, is the Kodak Duaflex II.

Pretty cool stuff, right? Also, the detail with that D800 is pretty dang awesome! I’m hoping to be back to blogging in a few weeks, and posting more photos from my other trips, but not this week (I’ll be turning 30, and celebrating it like I was still 29).

But until I get back to blogging, I’d like to hear from you… So here’s my question:


What’s the best garage sale treasure you’ve found so far?

I hardly do any garage-sale-ing, and tend to opt for looking occasionally on craigslist, fredmiranda, or the National Camera stores I lived near in the Twin Cities, but with this great score, it makes me want to start going more often. I used to love going as a kid, as that was the only time me and my siblings got new toys, and we loved it.  Much simpler times then.  Anyway, what’s some good stuff you’ve found lately?

Long’s Peak: My First Fourteener

Just over a month ago, I, and 6 of my friends, embarked upon a journey. A journey of modestly epic proportions. A journey that many have done before, but none of those people were us. We were going to hike Long’s Peak.

We had all traveled to Estes Park to celebrate, our friends, Rob and Julie’s wedding, and after the wedding, we took a week to enjoy Colorado.  During the week leading up to our hike, we had been discussing whether or not we would attempt Long’s Peak.  If you don’t know about Long’s Peak, it is the only fourteener (where the summit is above 14,000 ft above sea level) in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I’ll let wikipedia describe the Keyhole route for you.

The hike from the trailhead to the summit is 8 miles (13 km) each way. Most hikers begin before dawn in order to reach the summit and return below the tree line before frequent afternoon thunderstorms bring a risk of lightning strikes. The most difficult portion of the hike begins at the Boulder Field, 6.4 miles (10 km) into the hike. After scrambling over the boulders, hikers reach the Keyhole at 6.7 miles (10.5 km).

The following quarter of a mile involves a scramble along narrow ledges, many of which may have nearly sheer cliffs of 1,000 feet (305 m) or more just off the edge. The next portion of the hike includes climbing over 600 vertical feet (183 m) up the Trough before reaching the most exposed section of the hike, the Narrows. Just beyond the Narrows, the Notch signifies the beginning of the Homestretch, a steep climb to the football field-sized, flat summit. It is possible to camp out overnight in the Boulder Field (permit required) which makes for a less arduous two day hike, although this is fairly exposed to the elements. 57 people have died climbing or hiking Longs Peak. According to the National Park Service, 2 people, on average, die every year attempting to climb the mountain. In the summer of 2005 a Japanese climber was blown off a ledge after reaching the summit. On September 3, 2006 a man fell 800 feet (244 m) to his death when some rocks let go while he was descending the Loft route. Less experienced mountaineers are encouraged to use a guide for this summit to mitigate risk and increase the probability of a summit.

-From Wikipedia

CAUTION! ACHTUNG, BABY!  This is a very photo heavy post.  Click at your own risk.  There are dozens of photos in this post, so those on a 56k modem should probably join us in the 21st century and get some hi-speed internet! (j/k but, you know, seriously, it might take a while to load.)
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Welcome to the family, grandpa!

So, as we speak, I’m on the Megabus heading to the Windy City (aka, Chica-Go)! I’m typing this up with my iPhone and the nifty wordpress app. In any case, this past week, I hit up National Camera Exchange down in Burnsville (a suburb to the south of Minneapolis) to check out the general state of photography equipment these days, and check out their used gear… Specifically, I had my eye on an old Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/1.4 prime lens. It was manufactured sometime back in the 70’s but it seemed to be in decent condition. With an adapter, i’ll be able to use this lens in manual or aperture priority mode with manual focus and setting the aperture manually via the aperture ring on the lens.

I took a look at it; it was a little dusty, but no fungus or obvious scratches on the front or rear element, so it was definitely in decent shape. Next to it were a couple of other legacy lenses I was considering as well for under $50; a 50mm f/1.8, a 28mm f/3.5, and 50mm f/3.5 macro lens. I already have a 50mm f/1.8, and was really considering the 28mm for a wider angle prime, but I already have a 25mm f/2.8 prime for my digital slr. Any I saw a nice useable film slr in the mix too! An OM-2… I’ll expound on the virtues of it’s awesomeness on a later post if I get around to it.

Hey Usher! This is my confession…

If I ever sent something into PostSecret, it’d be this…

(tongue in cheek) I rarely, if ever, get within the top 10% of the pool I’m in (The venerable Zach Drennen Classic. All hand scored with twice-a-weekly commentary emails which include standings, awards, and honorable mentions. Pretty amazing stuff.). And I don’t follow basketball so my picks are based on rankings and whether I’ve heard others talking about the team or my women’s intuition… Let’s see how that goes this year!

So, It’s My First Post…

“What do you plan to do with this blog?”

Hm, well, did you read the headline? Yeah, it’s at the top of the page. Something about a photo blog… oh right. I plan on documenting my photos, from all the photographerizing that I do, and help capture some lessons learned. Cuz nothing helps you remember these lessons like viewing, reviewing, and reviewing again.

“Well, what would you say your style of shooting is?”

Well, mostly, I like taking pics of people; usually friends and family. Portraits, group shots, action shots, etc. I don’t like to take pictures of people I don’t know, unless they ask. I don’t want to be some creepy stalker/perv. Probably has a lot to do with me trying to be non-confrontational. I like to take pictures that capture the moment, document the events that transpired, and will mean something to me, or to the people involved later on. Occasionally, I’ll try my hands at other types of photography; the kind of shots you see in magazines, or if something catches my eye. But that being said, I don’t know if I have a great eye for landscape photography, or the patience for wildlife photography. Although, I am liking the strobist type shots, use of off-camera flashes. I still need to develop my skills there.

“Okay, well… What kind of gear do you use?”

Why, an excellent question! I shoot with Olympus. Why, you ask? Well, that’s easy. When I first went out looking for my first DSLR, the obvious choices are Nikon, and Canon. But why did I choose to go with Olympus instead of the big 2? Well, I was looking for something that fit in my budget, that offered all the main things I was looking for:
– Ergonomics (has to fit comfortably in the hand, well-balanced handling, and easy to use… I took some human factors classes in college, so I knew what I was looking for)
– Good image quality
– Image Stabilization
– Good dust reduction system (why clean things when I don’t have to… use my room as a reference)
– Good kit lenses, and good quality lenses that I could upgrade to, later on, if I decided to do so.
– Bang for the buck (Did I mention I was on a budget?)
– And all in a nice looking package (that’s what she said!)

After reading countless reviews, and handling the different models, I ended up choosing the 4/3rds system and going with the Olympus E510; The camera system designed from the ground up for digital! Slightly smaller sensor means smaller lenses (meaning less money for high quality glass), but comes with some limitations: worse high ISO performance than the competition (but technology is only going to improve). The only really effective sensor cleaning system (or so I’m told… never had to clean mine, so, I’m a believer). In any case, I don’t need to convince you that I made the right choice; everyone is going to have their particular need, or legacy lenses they want to use, etc. But at the end of the day, the objective is to take pictures, and if you can work around the limitations of the camera, you can still take a beautiful picture. The camera is but a tool, and in the right hands, art can be made!

So, my current camera gear (Amazon List):

Camera Bodies:
Olympus E510 (My first DSLR!)
Olympus E1 (Weather-sealed!)
Olympus E620 (My latest and greatest, good balance of features, and improved high ISO quality)

Olympus Kit Lenses: 14-42mm & 40-150mm
My primary lens: Zuiko Digital 12-60mm f/2.8-4.5
My portrait/macro lens: Zuiko Digital 50mm f/2.0
My low-light portrait/dinner party lens: Sigma 30mm f/1.4
My awesome telephoto lens for candids: Zuiko Digital 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5
My compact pancake lens: Zuiko Digital 25mm f/2.8
My cheap manual lenses: OM 50mm f/1.8 & OM 135mm f/3.5

Olympus FL50
Olympus FL50R

Flash Triggers:
Cactus V4 Transmitter & 2 Receivers (All manual, no TTL)

72mm ND .9 filter
72mm Circular Polarizer
72mm UV filter

Other Accessories:
A couple of wired remotes, a wireless remote, a couple of extra BLS1 batteries, an extra BLM1 battery, 2x 2GB Sandisk Extreme3 Compact Flash cards, 2x 8gb Sandisk Extreme3 Compact Flash Cards, Eneloop batteries for the flashes, and other things.

Well, that’s all I got for now… more later!