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December 22,2008 (MoreSnowMonday)
Boston was blanketed with over a foot of snow from the storms on Friday and Sunday.  We did not venture into the city all weekend, but did manage to make our way to the Arnold Arboretum on Sunday for a walk.

The day's forecast was for freezing rain and we wanted to get some photos of the snow before things turned sloppy.  By the time we got out of the car the storm had picked up and visibility was starting to drop. 

Inspite of the storm, the Arnold Arboretum was teaming with activity.  Folks were out hiking, x-country skiing, and walking their dogs.  Even the cardinals were out flitting about and making a racket :-)

A few days ago we mentioned that we carry our gear in Kata bags when we go out.  This weekend was a perfect example of why.  Even in a blowing snow storm, the Kata sling protected our gear and the all weather shield let us shoot unhindered.

By the time we finished our walk and made it back to the office, the plow had came by and cleared the main drive.  However, a lot of shoveling was still left to be done.  If we don't clear things out now, the freezing rain may make it impossible to shovel later. 

After some discussion, we decided it was easier to just feed the birds, leave the snow on the Boxster, and go inside and make some espresso.  We can always work from home tomorrow.

The roads may be covered in a sheet of ice for a few days if the temperature does not start climbing.  That would be a bit of a problem as some of us have yet to start our Christmas shopping!!!  [Permalink] - First Storm


November 1,2008

One look out the window this morning and we knew the day was going to be a nice one.  The colors in the RainyDayGarden had started to turn about two weeks ago.  The Japanese Maples are now just peaking.  It was going to be one of those picture postcard New England Fall days and we wanted to capture some of it on silicon. 

We thought since the colors were so nice in the garden, they must be peaking at the Arnold Arboretum as well.  We hopped on the Vespa and scooted down to see if we were right.

Because of the wet Summer many of the trees still had their leaves.  Bright yellow colors were everywhere.  The Arboretum is quite heavily used, but since it was still early in the day, it was not yet crowded.  We took advantage of the temporary tranquility and got some nice panoramic shots.

By the time we were done shooting, more and more of the usual Arboretum goers (jogger, bikers, stollers) had started to appear.  It was time for us to pack up and to go get some food.  All that hiking really works up an appetite!

Today was a picture perfect New England Fall day.  Apparently, a few painters agreed and was out capturing some of the Fall colors as well.  If it is still nice tomorrow, we'll take a drive out to Walden Pond and see if we can get another shot of the heron.  [Permalink] - Fall Colors


October 19,2008

We took advantage of the nice weather this weekend and went for a drive.  About 40 minutes from the city is Shelborne Farm.  Folks head there on sunny Fall days because it is the place to go for picking apples... ALL kinds of apples.

Apple picking is a great way to spend a day, and afterwards you get to go home and bake a pie.  The trails are well marked, there are plenty of things to see and do, and when you have had enough, you can walk to the farm stand and get a hot cup of hot cider (and a donut).

Picking the apples is the easy part.  The hard part is choosing what kind of apples to pick.  There are dozens of different kinds at any given time.  We know nothing about apples, but anything with the name "delicious" went into the bag.

After a few minutes of picking, we understood the meaning of the phrase "low-hanging fruit."  While easier to pick than the ones requiring a ladder, the unpicked low-hanging ones tend to be either bruised or already bitten by, something.  And the ones on the ground? Just leave them for the squirrels.

There is more than just apple picking at Shelborne Farm.  There are pony and hay rides, a petting zoo, and even a tractor track for any tykes brave enough to get in the rink.  It was kind of ticklish to feed the llama. 

After an hour of walking up and down the different aisles of apples, we were ready for something hot to warm us up.  Judging by the line at the farm stand, quite a few others had the same idea.

There won't be many more days with fantastic colors like the one on Sunday, so if you want to take off early and go for a walk, we won't tell :-) [Permalink] - Apple Picking


October 13,2008

Columbus Day is usually the last day where many shops and restaurants stay open in Maine.  We like going up there for this weekend because the rental prices are quite inexpensive.  The bugs, as well as most of the tourists, are gone.  The weather is still warm enough during the day that we can drive with the top down. 

It was certainly a great day for continuing our lobster roll "research."  We noticed lobster prices were around $3.99/lb, even in the more expensive places like Kennebunkport. 

This was the lowest lobster prices have been in quite some time.  Clearly, others were also taking advantage of the rates as The Clam Shack was doing a booming end-of-the-season business.

As usual, the weekend went by too quickly.  Next year our plans are to go to Monhegan Island for Columbus Day.  It is a small island, but there should be plenty of room that weekend.  Feel free to come join us if you can!  [Permalink] - Columbus Day


October 12,2008

We have been waiting for the right opportunity to photograph InTheWild using the Wicked Laser.  We brought it with us to Maine, hoping there would be a few clear nights so we could get some photos of it in action.

The first night we set up the telescope and took a few experimental shots to establish the settings needed to capture the laser

At first, we had a little trouble keeping the laser from moving.  It took a bit of trial and error to get the shutter timing right, but once we got it worked out, the shots came out a lot sharper than we thought they would.

Some were skeptical that the laser would be able to be seen at night, but there was enough dust in the air to make the laser visible.  It was quite amazing to be able to point at individual stars with the Wicked Laser. 

The beam is very bright and will be easily visible at dusk.  We didn't want to do this photo shoot in the city for obvious reasons.  It is not a toy and must be used responsibly.  The Wicked Laser is very helpful for pointing out things in the sky and will be a pretty useful addition to anyone's astronomical toolkit. [Permalink] - Wicked Laser InTheWild


October 11,2008

The RainyDayMagazine editorial crew went on their annual Maine Columbus Day outing this weekend.  As with previous trips, we left the interns in charge, rented a house on the marsh and settled in for three days of feasting, napping, and other low impact activities.

New England had a wet Summer and is experiencing a warm Fall.  With the warmer temparature, the leaves should stay on longer and the colors be more vibrant.  The weather forecast for the weekend was clear, sunny, and cool... perfect for hiking and foliage activities. 

A few of us took a walk in the Rachel Carson Nature Preserve in Wells.  The foliage was past peak, but the colors were still quite impressive.  The walk was not too strenous, but it did help us work up an appetite for lunch.

Another of our Maine traditions is the search for the perfect lobster roll.  This year we discovered Allen and Karen Merrill's Lobster-On-A-Roll on our way back from the foliage hike. Their sandwiches were the best we've had since the ones from Old Orchard Beach.

The rest of the day was spent lounging around the house and "resting."  The marsh behind the house was the perfect setting for bird watching and enjoying the sunset.

Here is a toast to all of you readers out there.  We hope you are enjoying your Columbus Day weekend! [Permalink] - Weekend In Maine


August 30-31,2008

Labor Day weekend is upon us once again!  There is a slight hint of Fall in the air, but it was still warm enough for T-shirts and shorts.  While Gustav is bearing down on New Orleans, the weather here in New England was more pleasant.  Nice enough to get us out of the office and to take a drive out to World's End in Hingham. 

On the way to World's End, we realized none of us had lunch yet.  Luckily, we were just passing by the Hingham Lobster Pound when hunger struck.  As the locals know, the Lobster Pound is THE place to go if you are looking for fried clams or lobster rolls (or onion rings).

We were not disappointed.  The sandwich was packed with large chunks of lobster meat, a light dressing, all held together by a buttery bun.  Very TASTY!

We finished lunch around 3PM and arrived at the World's End Preserve fully fueled for a walk around the various drumlins.  This beautiful piece of land was originally purchased in the 1880s to be developed for homes. 

Olmsted (the Central Park guy) designed the subdivision.  The work progressed as far as the laying of the carriage roads, but none of the houses were actually constructed.

The land was acquired by The Trustees in the 1967. They have done a great job caring for this treasure.  We spent a few hours hiking the 4 miles of trails

The paths took us through some lovely areasWild flowers were still in bloom everywhere.  Believe it or not, we were even able to see The Pru from one of the trails.

At some point on the trail, we came upon an unexpected site... a windmill.  When we got back to the office, a quick Google search determined that the one we saw was the municipal one in Hull.  It good to see that some towns don't just endlessly talk about using "green" / alternative power and have actually done something about it.  We are going to have to go check it out next.  [Permalink] - World's End Hingham


August 29,2008

When our editors Lisa and Jay got back from the Festivals in Edinburgh, one of their neighbors asked them if they had seen the Journal because a photo of their sidewalk garden was in it! 

The first question Lisa had was "We are in the Wall Street Journal?"  No, but to us it was just as cool :-)  Read all about it here! [Permalink] - Highland Gardens


July 26,2008

After two weeks of dry weather, the RainyDayGarden was desperate for some rain.  What's the saying? "Be careful of what you wish for?"  Well, we had four days of heavy intermittent thunder showers last week.

Everything received a much needed soaking and they all perked up when the sun came out this morning.  The rain gauge had registered closed to two inches of rain just from yesterday's late day shower.

Once the sun had warmed things up, the garden came alive with activity.  Buffy and Eliot quickly got tired of chasing the bees and butterflies and curled up somewhere for a nap.  We went in search of "bug pics."  It didn't take us long to get a variety of shots of grasshoppers, bees, and other flying insects crawling on the blooms.

The rain was timed perfectly for the Queen Anne's Lace which pops up around the garden about now.  This plant can be a bit invasive.  Some even consider it a weed.  We don't mind it so much because of the big white lacy flowers.  Unchecked, they can spread quickly and grow quite tall.  They are very hardy and attract a lot of bees and butterfies.  So we tend to let them be unless they pop up in the middld of something or look out of place.  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 15,2008

The cover of this month's Dwell is about "growing up Green."   The issue had many articles on "building a sustainable future."  With global warming, $150 oil, and a world population looking at soon to reach 7 billion, it is a timely subject.

One of the old-timers here reminded us that the technology may have changed, but those "sustainability" ideas were pretty well covered in the 60's and 70's.  To prove his point, he brought in a few books which he claims are actually worth MORE than the paper they are printed on...he is kind of a curmudgeon, but we like him (OK, maybe also a little scared of him).

Two of the books are by Mike Oehler on the topic of building "earth-sheltered" dwellings.  The concept is very sound, as any reader with a basement will immediately recognize; the basement is usually cooler in the Summer and warmer in the Winter.  The ground is a great insulator.  Leveraging that fact is the basis of his books.  The concept works for both people and plants.

In the books are lots of layouts, plans, and tested construction tips.  The ideas and emphasis are on practicality, ease of implementation, and cost.  In the end, aren't these the important criteria if wide-spread adoption is one of the end goals?

Another intriguing book in our, uh, geezer's collection is a copy of Nomadic Funiture by Hennessey and Papanek.  While some of the actual funiture is quite dated, the ideas are fantastic.  Many of them are exactly like the products one can find at IKEA today (leaning bookcase, flat furniture, etc...).  So I guess the old guy is right, what was old is new again. [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 12,2008

The crew took Carolyn up to Salem for her "Birthday Weekend."  Carolyn's friend Patty had once mentioned that a birthday should be a month-long event. 

Carolyn couldn't convince the higher ups at the magazine that her birthday should be celebrated for the entire month of July, but did managed to get in writing that it should span the entire weekend.  We don't know who negotiated her contract but that's one sweet deal!

The place Carolyn really wanted to visit was The House of Seven Gables.  If you went to school in the US, you've probably read it in 10th or 11th grade, along with The Scarlet Letter.  Well, apparently the house is real :-)  There was also something about a well which was significant in the story.  Some of us may have let our minds wandered a bit during Carolyn's re-telling of the tale.

We all went on the tour of the house, which was actually very interesting.  The house had quite a history (especially the gables).  We won't spoil it for you here.  If you find youself in Salem MA, we would recommend checking out this historical site.  You will find it fascinating even if your 10th grade English class was, not so much.

Even though the house tour was only around 30 minutes long, we had worked up a bit of an appetite.  We all agreed that we had enough strength left for a quick walk around the grounds, but then we would need to find a place to grab some "birthday lunch."  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 11,2008

Last August we went to a Mass Horticulture Society flower show at the Elm Bank Horticulture Center.  At the show we purchased a few new day lillies to add to our RainyDayGarden collection.  Today, we noticed that some of them have started blooming.  It was a nice surprise as we had totally forgotten about them!

One flower which we don't forget we have is the Passiflora.  This is because we have to bring this vine inside in the Fall and replant it outside every year in the Spring.  In some part of the country, the passiflora vine may actually be considered a weed as it can be invasive and crowd out other species.  This is not a problem in the New England climate as it is not yet warm enough for the vine to make it through the winter outside.

The Passiflora's complex flower is one of the big reason why we love growing this plant.  While the bloom itself only lasts for about a day or two, it is spectacular when it is open.  The layered arrangements of petals, crown, and fringy bits are just mesmerizing to look at.  The bloom also has a sweet fruity scent and does attract butterflies. 

The vine we have is about three years old.  It has bloomed every year (year1, year2, year3) since we brought it home from Logee's in Conn.  This year there are already about a dozen buds on the vine.  We have successfully rooted the plant a few times and have used those cuttings in trades with other local gardeners.  If you want one, let us know what you got to trade.  We'll be happy to arrange an exchange for something exotic :-)  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 8,2008

Since we got so many emails asking for more examples, we decided to post few more from our RainyDayGarden series.  These were all shot this past weekend using the Casio EX-F1 on a tripod.

We also got a lot of email suggesting additional video ideas.  Many of them we have thought of already, some were too odd to attempt even for our intrepid interns, still others were down right illegal in most states.  However, we thought seeing more ideas would not be such a bad thing.  So if you have an idea for a video, drop us a note with the subject line "Shoot me, baby!"  We will select three of the best ideas.  One for each frame rate (300, 600, 1200).  The winners will get something fun from out pile of stuff.  The contest ends at the end of the month.  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 7,2008

The RainyDayPhotography folks had access to the Casio EX-F1 digital camera this weekend.  We had heard about this camera's unique high speed shutter and wanted to see if it is as cool as it sounds.  We spent a few days with the camera.  It was not enough time to sample all of the cameras functions, but we did get a feel for the high speed movie modes. 

The image of the bumblebee hovering next to the purple cone flower is a frame pulled out of the 300 fps capture.  Click on the images below to see the actual movies of insect (bumblebee, dragonflies) movements at this capture speed.  The wing beats are still a little blurry, but definitely WAY better than one can do with any conventional camera or video recorder.

Posted here are series of bumblebees and dragonflies in flight at different frame rates (300fps, 600fps, 1200fps).  The image size decreases with the increase in frame rate.  This is one of the tradeoffs.  The other is light sensitivity.  A lot more light is needed to get a good 1200fps movie.  None of our indoor ones shot using 1200fps were any good using conventional lighting.

A few obvious lessons learned from our brief encounter with the EX-F1.  A tripod is a MUST if you want to get a usable movie.  Bright lighting conditions is necessary, but movies captured in direct sunlight is too harsh and contrasty.  Match the frame rate to the action.  1200fps is great for getting dragonflies in flight, but not necessary for a "bouncing ball" movie :-)

The Casio EX-F1 is an intriguing camera which opens up a lot of photographic opportunities for those interested in "sampling" the world at a higher frame rate.  We have a lot more ideas than time, but unfortunately we had to return the camera today.  Maybe we'll get access to another one soon and give those ideas a try!  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


July 2,2008

Boston got a lot of rain during the last week of June.  This meant the RainyDayGarden really got a wet base heading into the typically drier month of July . 

The orange day lillies started to bloom this past week.  We love photographing the lillies and took their blooming as an opportunity to play around some more with the Nikon D40.  In this outing, we wanted to experiment with the apeture-priority settings and get some experience manipulating the depth-of-field (DOF).  Using the "Auto" mode, the camera will usually pick a combination which will give the best focus for the area of interest.  This typically mean favoring speed over a greater depth-of-field. 

We waited for an bright cloudy day to minimize the contrast.  There were also minimal breeze to disturb the flowers.  By selecting a smaller aperture setting and thus increasing the depth-of-field, we were able to almost get both the bug and the flower in focus.

In general, we found the Aperture-Priority mode quite intuitive to use.  The thumb wheel used to set the aperture was easy to manipulate.  Information about the current settings was available both in the viewfinder and on the rear LCD.  The graphics in the LCD representing the current aperture size were interesting, but not accurate enough to replace the numbers.  Of couse, what is missing with the D40 is a "LiveView" or a DOF preview feature.

We also played a little with the the shutter-priority mode, but were not successful in clearly capturing the bumblebee in flight.   The shot we were after was to have the body in focus and the wings a blur.  A bit more practice and patience may be needed before we can get that shot. [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


June 6,2008

Another week has flown by and the weekend will soon be upon us.  Today the temp here is in the low 60s, but tomorrow is suppose to get HOT!  Like 90s hot.  Maybe too hot to work out in the garden.  For those of you who may still want to do some garden work, we thought we would answer some of the emails regarding the actual cutting abilities of the Fiskars loppers we had reviewed last weekend. 

We will be lopping of pieces off a bush which did not make it through the Winter.  The branches ranged in thickness from 1/4" to 1.5".  Click on any of the images to get a closer look at the cuts.

The 15" lopper easily took care of the smaller branches.  The cuts were clean and crisp.  The leverage afforded by the long handles will enable anyone to use this in their garden, but will be especially suitable for those looking for lighter weight tools which can still handle tough jobs.

The 17" lopper has two steel cutting blades and made short work of the 1.5" thick branches.  Very little arm strength was needed.  This is due both to the long handles and the well designed cutting blades.

We had a very positive FirstUse experience with these Fiskars loppers.  We have an InTheWild follow-up in a few months.  Next up will be a look at the Fiskars hand pruner.  We are eager to see if the "rolling" grip will enable us to trim for a longer period before getting hand fatique. [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


June 1,2008

We told you about the four Fiskars loppers and pruners last week.  Today we took the them out to the RainyDayGarden for a FirstUse.  The collection was perfect for the various tasks we had in mind. 

Before we get to the actual trimming, we thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at the... [More] - Fiskars FirstUse


May 31,2008

May is the time of year when gardens in New England go through a lot of changes.  While the tulips and some irises start blooming at the beginning of May, the leaves on the trees don't come in until nearer to the end.  By the end of May, things are in full growth mode.

The RainyDayGarden is no different.  While many of the plants have started growing at the beginning of the month, Buffy and Eliot were not able to find many shady spots to rest during their daily patrols.

However, the interns were able to observe all of the goings-on today while remaining cool in the shade.  Hmmm, we can see Buffy resting, but just what IS that Eliot up to[Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


May 23,2008

It is the Friday of Memorial Day weekend.  Even with gas prices as high as it is, many folks will be heading out on the road.  We, however, will be staying around Boston and doing some work on the RainyDayGarden.

One reason is that a variety of Fiskars garden shears came into the office.  Since we just got back from being on the road most of the week, the thought of hanging out doing some gardening was pretty appealing.

These Fiskars are some serious garden loppers and pruners.  They are lightweight, but their long handles will enable them to cleanly cut some pretty thick branches.  We'll have a FirstUse this weekend. [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


May 19,2008

This past weekend started out sunny so we spent the morning cleaning and weeding the RainyDayGarden.  Showers were forecasted for the latter part of the day, but one can never tell in these parts. 

A few weeks ago, we got a few packages of the new MiracleGro LiquaFeed Advance.  We decided this weekend was a good time as any for the Spring feeding.

The LiquaFeed Advance system came with an integrated sprinkler-feeder unit.  The MiracleGro bottle attaches to one end.  There are few spray options to the head.  The switch for plain water/ mix feed switch is on the top. 

The bottle's cap mates and seals with the sprinker for a precise mix when feeding.  The bottles are designed as single-use only, but they are recycleable. 

When assembled, the bottle is angled so gravity will cause the liquid to flow into the feeder.  The entire unit is quite light and very comfortable to hold. 

The balance of the sprinkler/feeder was surpisingly good!  We had no problems aiming and spraying.  The MiracleGro LiquaFeed system was easy to assemble and simple to use.  We are looking forward to a vigorous RainyDayGarden this season.  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


May 7,2008

It has been sunny these past few days.  The irises and tulips are loving the rays.  We thought it would be a great opportunity to take advantage of the light and see what the Nikon D40's kit lens can do on getting up close and personal, at least with the flowers blooming out in the RainyDayGarden :-)

We took most of these shots early in the morning using the 18-55mm lens with the camera on a tripod.  Our first close-up test was not too structured.  We just wanted to get a feel for what we can expect at different zooms.  Click on any of the images to see the larger versions.

The three images of the purple tulip are all the same shot just cropped and saved at different resolutions in Photoshop.  You can see the details at full resolution here.

The red tulips shots give an idea of the range of subtle shades which can be resolved with the D40/18-55mm lens combo.  How to print these subtle shades is a problem we tackle another day!

Close-up photos are not difficult to take, but does require a sturdy tripod, good lighting, and a lot of patience.  Some readers have asked about creative accessories (specialty lenses, close-up filters, etc...).  Many of these will give the photographer additional creative control of the image capture process.  We will be taking a look at some of them in a few weeks. [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


Apr 30,2008

We were right about the weather yesterday.  It rained all day and the plants in the RainyDayGarden loved it.  We took advantage of a brief pause in the rain to do some more tests of the Nikon D40 and lenses. 

The temperature was a bit cool for the tulips and the frittillaria, but at least it wasn't freezing!  The grape hyacinths are in full bloom.  The hostas are just getting started. 

May is just around the corner and we are all looking forward to the warmer weather.  This Winter felt a lot longer because we skipped our annual Spring Break trip to South Beach.  We won't make that mistake again! [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


Apr 29,2008 (NozzleTechTuesday)

The April showers have finally arrived in Boston.   The timing is perfect as we did a lot of work in the RainyDayGarden this weekend. We got a nice cold soak yesterday.  Today looks to be more of the same. 

While we don't do a lot of watering of the garden, we do love cool garden gadgets.  On our last outing to Home Depot, we picked up an awesome looking nozzle from Orbit Irrigation Products.

This is the XL-Streem Super Magnum Hose Nozzle.  It has a fully adjustible spray, adjustible pressure, and a large on/off lever.  This nozzle looks and feels like a scaled down version of something one would find on a fire truck :-)

Hopefully we will need to water as little as possible, but when we have to water the garden we are now prepared.  Hmmm, it might be pretty good for washing the car as well.  Hey, interns... [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


Apr 28,2008 (MiracleGrowMonday)
MiracleGro LiquaFeed Advance is the new no mess, no measure, no fuss way of making sure the plants in your garden gets the proper level of nutrients.

The starter kit comes with two bottles of pre-measured LiquaFeed and a custom spray nozzle.  Each bottle of fertilizer can feed about 400 sq ft.

The nozzle has four selectable spray options and can switch instantly between feeding and watering.  The nozzle also has a locking trigger for extended use.

Feeding may now as simple as attaching a nozzle, insert bottle, and sray!  We are looking forward to checking out the MiracleGro LiquaFeed Advance system in the RainyDayGarden this year.  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


Apr 26-27,2008 (WeekendEdition)

Things in the RainyDayGarden started blooming a little earlier this year because of April's warmer than usual weather.  The tulips, forsythia, and various other bulbs have been flowering for about a week now.  The first iris opened this weekend.

We try to water as little as possible.  As a result, the ground is always a bit on on the dry side.  However, it does promote deep root growth and select for plants which will make it on just rain water alone!  This year we plan on helping with water retention even more by mulching.

To minimize our lawn work (mowing, watering, etc...), we are contantly making new flower beds.  This weekend, we opened up a new plot and moved a bunch of day lilies and iries from another part of the garden to the new bed.  We are looking forward to seeing this bed take shape over the course of the year.  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


Apr 6,2008(WeekendEdition)

The sun peeked out for a little bit yesterday.   We took the opportunity to walk around Jamaica Pond in the "direct beam of the sunshine." 

It was still a bit chilly, but signs of Spring were everywhere.  There were people jogging, buds are on some of the branches, and nesting activities have started.

We didn't have any problems identifying the various wildlife at the Pond because we have been studing our copy of Bird Song of North America.  OK, ducks and cormorants are pretty common :-)

However, how many of you know what a Paradise Tanager or a Streaked SpiderHunter sound like?  We thought so.  If you want to know, and who wouldn't, you need to get yourself a copy of the Les Beletsky's Bird Songs from around the World.

Like the Birds Songs of North America, the illustrations and recordings in the Bird Songs from Around The World are wonderful.  So until we book our bird-spotting trip around the world to see and hear them live, we'll just have to be content with Les' book. [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau


Mar 30,2008(WeekendEdition)

It was a bit windy, a little cold, but Spring is definitely on the way.  We thought a stroll through the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain would be a perfect opportunity to tryout the Nikon D40.

The goal of this outing was to get a feel on how the camera handles on one of our typical assignments.  All of the shots taken in this trial were done using the default "Auto" setting.  The flash came on when the camera thought it was needed.  All we did was compose the shot and press the shutter button.

We used the 18-55mm lens for all of the building, interior, and landscape shots.  The wildlife shots were taken with the 55-200mm and without a tripod.

The camera was easy to handle, even with gloves on.  The buttons were logically placed.  Focusing was quick and responsive.  There were no problems with shutter lag or recovery.

The Nikkor 55-200mm VR lens continues to impress us.  We caught the robin above using the 200mm zoom and on the move.   We knew the camera would under-expose the bird, but we wanted to see how well the robin would hold up after some image processing.  The colors and details held together surprisingly well!

We wanted to show some examples of images (ducks, buds, bark) uncropped, unretouched, and in full resolution to show you what you can expect when shooting outside on a bright overcast day.

Everybody here was surprised by how much more detail the photos taken with the Nikon D40 had as compared to past Canon S2 photos.  We didn't think the differences would be so dramatic. 

In the next installment of our Nikon D40 review series, we will try out the various "pre-programmed" modes.  [Permalink] - Wan Chi Lau








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