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Appreciating Scale

10th September 2022

We’re Mere Specks on Earth

I grew up in the New York metropolitan area and didn’t get to travel to the more remote areas of our country until later in life. To me, the skyscrapers of New York City were about the tallest or largest scenery to which I was accustomed. That changed after college when I visited my first national park – Yosemite. Since then, I’ve made been lucky enough to visit many more.

One thing that I encountered early on and continues to amaze me to this day is the extensive amount of our country’s tracts of land. Look as far as your eye can see and there’s plenty more beyond. From a distance, gaze at a geologic feature or land mass and you may not comprehend its size until you draw closer. In short, it’s the scale of these features that are astonishing.

As individuals, our size is insignificant compared to the earth’s magnificent landforms.

Below are a few photographs that try to illustrate scale.

A couple hiking at Death Valley’s Mesquite Dunes look miniscule.
You can barely see the dozens of visitors congregating around Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.

Here’s a visitor enjoying the shade of Delicate Arch.
This is the same photograph at full size. You can see how the size of Delicate Arch towers over the visitor.

These craggy mountains in the northeast portion of Yellowstone National Park are home to mountain goat families.
We’ve enlarged the photo on the left so you can pick out the animal on the ledge high off of the surrounding terrain.

This young girl is having fun exploring the rocks in Monument Valley.

In the full size photo you can see her standing in front of a huge monument.

This young girl sits at the entrance to the Tunnel Tree in Yosemite.

My fisheye lens captures the entirety of the Tunnel Tree which rises 225 feet above the ground.

The scale of many of nature’s wonders is so humbling to me and affords me the chance to record them on film (so to speak).

Written by:
Arnie Lee

Picturesque Continental Divide

In Yellowstone when you’re driving the Grand Loop from West Thumb to Old Faithful, the road climbs a few hundred feet as it crosses the Continental Divide at Craig Pass.

There sits Isa Lake atop the summit that has a distinction of draining into two different oceans. While Isa is very small, it is a very picturesque site among the tall forested coniferous trees.

This article is the another in a series of articles that I’ve called About this photo to draw attention to a few of those memorable photos that may be hiding in a shoebox or on your hard drive.

This is one of my favorite photos from the outdoors. What stands out are the large great yellow pond-lilies floating on the lake surface.

By stepping back a bit you can see the larger part of the lake and the tall surrounding pine trees.

This photo was taken at a different time of the year in the pouring rain but presents a pleasant view.

I hope this is a reminder to get those favorite photos of yours off of your cellphone or computer for others to see.
Written by: Arnie Lee

Fisheye On The Cheap

14th March 2021

A few years ago I upgraded from a Sony NEX7 to the newer Alpha 6000.

The A6000 became my everyday walk around camera. But I didn’t want to let the NEX7 collect dust, nor did I want to spend a lot more investing in more glass.

The one drawback is that this lens is manual aperture control and manual focus but I decided that I could live with these limitations.


So I started looking for an inexpensive lens. My preference was to go wide so I did a little looking around and found an affordable 8mm fisheye. I’m a fan of the way the images are elegantly distorted by lens’ curvature. The lens adds lots of interest to common everyday scenery and subjects.

The lens I chose is the 8mm Rokinon fisheye for about $300.

When the 8mm lens is coupled on the camera’s APS-C sensor it is equivalent to a 12mm full frame lens.

To use the lens, I set the camera to Auto ISO and using the manual exposure mode (M) rotate the aperture ring on the lens to a specific aperture (f/stop) and dial the shutter speed until the exposure indicator is centered.

Measuring about 3″ long and weighing just a few ounces, it is miniscule compared to the two other DSLR fisheyes in my equipment stable. The Rokinon 8mm has a well-marked aperture ring, smooth focus ring, a small built-in sunshade and lens cap that total covers the outer lens surface. I am very happy that when mounted, my fisheye camera is very compact and easy to carry.


The important question is how does this inexpensive fisheye perform?

I’ve taken hundreds of photos with the 8mm. I’ve found that the images are tack sharp. The resolution of the NEX-7 is 24MP and with this lens I’ve made several 16″ x 20″ enlargements including three below.

roaming through the cypress groves in the Everglades

amazed at the super bloom in Death Valley

viewing part of Mammoth Hot Spring in Yellowstone

a very wide view of the front porch on our house

The compact size of this camera/lens combination makes it a great way to have a tag along camera and use it for the wide views without having to change lenses.

For many excursions, I carrythree cameras: this fisheye combo, a second with a long lens telephoto (80-400mm) for wildlife and a third with a medium zoom (24mm to 200mm) – all without breaking my back with the weight. In the case of the 8mm fisheye lens, I have a winner at a very decent price.

Having done a little looking around, I know that there are other inexpensive fisheye lenses available for all of the major brand cameras. If you too like the interesting effects that the come from the ultra curved lens surface you’ll be able to find a fisheye to add to your camera bag.

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