The Mihaileni Canyon

There’s a small canyon in the countryside between Medias and Sibiu called Canionul Mihăileni. A river split open a hill right down the middle, creating a rift where some fossils were found. The river’s no longer around. It’s an interesting site and one which we tried to find one day but couldn’t, because there are no signs and no guides in the area. We drove around till it got dark and then we figured we’d best stop and turn back, or else we might find ourselves stranded in a field overnight. There are only dirt roads there, with deep ruts in places and rocks sticking out of the mud — just the kind of a situation that can gift you with a broken oil pan and a seized engined. At the time we had a VW Golf, which is infamous for the low placement of its oil pan. It’s like a short-legged horse with low-hanging you-know-whats. One hit and it’s going legs-up… It happened to us more than once.

Long story short, the photos you’ll see here are “not exactly” from the Mihăileni Canyon. They’re from the approximate area. But it was autumn, there were rolling hills all around and the foliage was beautiful, so photography-wise, it wasn’t a disappointment. Maybe someday we’ll make it to the actual canyon. Enjoy the photographs!

Summertime in our garden

I was going through old(er) photos of mine taken in 2009, and I put together a lovely collection of summertime photos from our garden (even if I do say so myself). Look, I know it’s not summer now. It’s winter (sort of). Each season has its purpose and is beautiful in its own way. Should we get some snowfall or at least some frost, I’ll probably be out there taking photos that you’ll be able to see here. So I could have scheduled this post to publish sometime in May, or I could let you see these photos now, and let you dream of this next summer, which I hope is going to be a beautiful one for all of us. (Unless you’re in the Southern hemisphere, in which case you’ve already got your summer. Isn’t it weird how that works out?) Enjoy the photos, there are 82 of them!

These photos were taken with the following cameras: Canon EOS 5D, Olympus Camedia C-770 UZ and Canon EOS Rebel XTi. For the Canon cameras, I used the following lenses: EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro, EF 50mm f/1.4, and the EF 24-105mm f/4L.

Canon EOS 5D (front)

Olympus Camedia C-770 UZ

Canon EOS Rebel XTi

Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f1.4 USM Lens

 

Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro USM Lens
Canon EF 100mm f2.8 Macro USM Lens

Winter photos from our garden

It’s been a hum-drum winter, I’ve said it before. It barely snows, and when it does, it melts right away. The temperatures hover between 0-10° Celsius, so it’s neither warm nor cold, just kind of annoying. I don’t know where the winters of my youth went, but I hope they come back at some point. I’m talking about snow that stays on the ground for weeks and months, big, thick, frequent snow that keeps the top layers fresh… Those kinds of winters are now only found in movies and fairy tales.

Fortunately, we humans are endowed with a little something called optimism. We can always call on that spirit and make the best of what we have. So the snow melts quickly. So be it. I’ll photograph the melting snow. The falling water drops make for great macro photographs.

This nifty lens I just bought, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm, has a Macro button on the side, which locks it in Macro mode and lets me get right up to the things I want to photograph, as you’ll see below. Not only is it a versatile 24-100mm (35mm equivalent) zoom, but it’s also a macro lens when I want it to be.

Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm Side View with Buttons
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-50mm side view with buttons

I always shoot in RAW format, on any camera that’s capable of it, but with my E-P2, I forgot how good the JPG engine was. During my early morning outing a couple of days ago, I shot both RAW and JPG together (there’s an in-camera setting for that) and then I compared the photos in Lightroom. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the E-P2’s color reproduction is very good and the noise reduction algorithms built into the camera are actually better than Lightroom’s. Yeah, surprise! I pixel-peeped those images side by side and the JPG files were cleaner and had the colors I wanted, straight out of the camera. Guess what I did next? I switched my camera to JPG-only mode.

The photos you’ll see here are SOOC: JPG files produced by the camera, imported into Lightroom, where I added metadata and exported with no modifications to the colors, exposure, contrast, etc. Other than the metadata, I added nothing. Full disclosure: I bumped up the exposure on three snow photos that came out a little dark, but that’s it. I think you’ll agree with me when I say this little camera is pretty good!

Raoul using the Olympus PEN E-P2
Raoul using the Olympus PEN E-P2. Photographer: Thomas Hawk

Enjoy the photos!

 

More photos from Dobrogea

Quite a few years ago, I published this gallery of photographs I’d taken in the province of Dobrogea in Romania. I’ve been going through my catalog lately, re-discovering the places I’ve visited and photos I haven’t yet edited, so I thought I’d put together another gallery of photographs for you.

You may know that Dobrogea is thought of as flat place, wide and mostly arrid — great for agriculture — and it certainly is that, but there are some spots in it that can look quite different. Did you know that Dobrogea has mountains and they’re the oldest in Romania (quite possibly some of the oldest in Eastern Europe as well)? They’re so old and worn down by time that they look like hills. You’ll get to see them here, including the biggest one of them, Altantepe.

Enjoy the photos!

A jaunt into the Danube Delta

Years ago, we took a quick day-trip into the Danube Delta which involved some boating (hence, rowing). It was a fun little trip to the edge of the Delta. It was early spring, so the full beauty of the place wasn’t readily apparent, but that also meant that there were no mosquitoes, which was a huge plus for me. Enjoy the photos!

A hike through the hills of Moldova

These are photos I’ve taken during a couple of hikes through the hills near the village of Strugari in Moldova, Romania. Here’s a map of the area.

A map of the region around Strugari, Moldova
A map of the region around Strugari, Moldova

It was the middle of March (the 14th and 15th) and spring had just arrived. Most of the grass was dry and leaves hadn’t sprouted yet. As a matter of fact, no buds were even apparent on the branches of the trees in the area. A friendly little mutt that belonged to friends of ours accompanied me on the hikes (you can see him in the photos). A late snowfall introduced an element of adventure to one of the outings. It’s lovely to be in the middle of nowhere and to be suddenly surrounded by myriad falling snowflakes. A magical quiet sets in, sounds are muffled and a feeling of wonder takes over.

Enjoy the photos!

This morning’s hoar frost

Hoar frost is a strange term, isn’t it? It comes from Middle English, circa 1300, is actually spelled “hoarfrost” over in England, and it means exactly what you’ll see in the photos I took this morning in our garden. Enjoy!