The Great Ball Court

One of the iconic sites at the ancient Maya ruins of Chichén Itzá, seen from its north end looking to the south:

The Great Ball Court

For some reason, this view doesn’t show up as often as does its opposite from the south end of the field.  Still, you can really get a feel for the ball court’s size — particularly since those are two people just to the right of this two-frame panorama’s center.

The Olympus 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ lens — a user experience review

I recently picked up Olympus’ new pancake kit zoom lens (formally, the 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ lens) and its automatic lens cap.  Rather than boring you with test charts and such, I thought taking it out on a walk would be more interesting (and help give everybody a better idea of its benefits and limitations).

OM-D compared

For starters, the lens’ big benefit is size (naturally, for a pancake) — at least for the time being, it’s the shortest pancake zoom for the micro-4/3 system, extending just 22.5mm from its mounting flange.  Above, you see my E-M1 with an Oly 12-40mm f/2.8 lens mounted, next to my E-M5 hosting the 14-42mm EZ lens.  Even with the grip attached, the E-M5 is pocketable (well, in a decent-sized coat pocket) in this configuration.  The automatic lens cap isn’t exactly cheap, but that extra $30 buys you an impressive bit of engineering in a small slice of plastic — and makes this combo a potent and quick-to-use street shooter.

But on to the walk…

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House of the Cenote, revisited

A straight-on frontal shot of the House of the Cenote, in the ancient Maya ruins of Tulúm in Quintana Roo, Mexico:

House of the Cenote

No, it’s not the most artistic angle on this structure — but it does give you a good feeling for its size and design.  This photo was shot from roughly the southeast — from the point of view of the sea, basically — and shows the face of the original part of the structure.

Some years later, a small shrine was added to the back of this building, directly over a small cenote that gives the whole construction its modern nickname.

Doorway to the future

Until recently, this was our neighborhood grocery store.  It’s in the process of demolition (as you can see), to be replaced by a new, much nicer grocery store by the end of the year.

Doorway to the future

This building is one of those old ones that was added on to multiple times, given some cosmetic touch-ups here and there, but still couldn’t avoid looking a bit dumpy.  So we’ll be happy to see its replacement, but it still feels odd to watch a local fixture get ripped down after decades of service.

BTW, as an experiment I made this photo with an Olympus 8mm “body cap” fisheye.  As soon as the weather improves, I’ll do a photowalk with it and its 4/3-mount predecessor for comparison’s sake (short version: not as good optically as the old lens, but far cheaper and more portable).

Enter the Bean

I almost titled this one “Self-portrait of Tripod,” given that I made this shot on self-timer so I wouldn’t be in it.  As a result, though, you can see over a dozen reflections of my camera on its tripod.

Enter the Bean

The reflector in this case is, of course, the “Cloud Gate” sculpture (a.k.a. “The Bean”) in Chicago’s Millennium Park.  This is taken from under the middle of it (officially called the omphalos, Greek for “navel”).  You can also get distorted shots of the weather and local architecture by using Cloud Gate’s exterior reflections.

Loads of fun, but you need to get there early unless you want to make photographs with lots of people in them.  Remind me to do a full writeup on photography of / with The Bean some day…

Leaving Albuquerque

On a recent trip to Albuquerque to take care of some family business, I managed to get aboard a very well-timed flight home on a “puddle-jumper” turboprop aircraft.

Leaving Albuquerque

As we headed north from the airport, the sun was just setting, so I got a nice mix of lighting colors.  And, of course, flying in a small aircraft means everybody gets a window seat.

For locals and the curious, the Osuna interchange with I-25 is about at the image’s center (I-25 runs from the bottom right corner toward left center).

Morning comes to Flores

Sunrise in Flores, Guatemala:

Morning comes to Flores

We didn’t get to spend much time in Flores on our autumn trip to the Yucatán — really, just a night sandwiched between the ruins of Tikal and our flight east to Belize.  But we had a great night on the island, and were greeted in the morning by this amazing sunrise.

The original part of Flores (where we stayed) is an island in Lake Peten Itza — it was once the last Maya holdout (from the conquistadors) in the Yucatán peninsula.  Now the island is connected to the mainland by a causeway, and the town of Flores covers more ground there than on the island.