in every life the sun must set…
My extra images from July are mostly dedicated to my 18-105mm lens whose official name is: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED.
I can’t help but be sentimental about the year 2009 and the beginnings of my Photography life. It truly changed my entire walk and experience of this world. I was really in love with my Nikon equipment and it’s power and clarity. I had never used or owned such powerful photography tools. The first DSLR I chose was a Nikon D90 and I remember purchasing it from a Best Buy about 15 miles away from where I lived. Most of the time sellers like to include a lens with the DSLR body and that lens is referred to as a “kit lens.” Kit lenses aren’t expected to be the best quality, but simply something to get you started. I had actually purchased a Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm F/1.4D before purchasing the D90 body. It was all part of a manifestation lesson I learned from a friend, boss and mentor. That said, the 18-105mm lens that came with my D90 was not technically my first camera lens, but what made my 18-105mm so special is that I never lost it, it never broke, and it was loyally a part of my bag since the beginning. 10 years. Over 10 years. I shot images with that lens for over a decade.
My 18-105 photographed weddings in the States and abroad (Jamaica and Mexico). It photographed my first event, and captured images of the late, beloved actor, Gene Wilder. It’s been with me abroad to Europe and South America. It has always been sharp and performed better than a kit lens is probably expected to. I get soulful about my equipment and believe each camera or lens has a personality. I can sense when something is fantastic or off about a piece of camera equipment. It took a long time for me to admit it, but I knew that my 18-105mm was getting tired. The motor to autofocus started getting slow, and the biggest sign was too obvious to ignore... The 18-105, like most Nikon lenses comes with a vibration reduction setting. I can’t imagine why you’d ever have vibration reduction turned off, but there were some instances this year where I had the setting off on the lens, but was still shooting with it. My 18-105 has been my hiking lens the last few years, and I started to notice that when vibration reduction was turned off, the images produced where undeniably blurry. It was sad, but understandable.
Can you repair an old lens? Sure. But I’ve had my heart set on a new DX zoom lens for a while. With the 18-105 it was almost like a sick pet. You get to a place of asking what’s best for both parties involved. Do you spend a lot of money trying to repair what’s broken, or do you realize that all good things must come to an end? It wasn’t in good enough condition to trade in or donate, so I just disposed of it. There wasn’t a ceremonious send off, just a little prayer to be thankful for the time and experiences captured with it, and a light placing in the garbage. Thinking on it now, I should have done something really poetic and just left it on a rock on a hiking trail (though that would technically be littering). Actually, the 18-105 and I did have a sentimental goodbye. In late July, I made a quick journey to Vancouver and Seattle. I only brought my D90 and 18-105 for that trip, so my experiences were all captured with that pair. Perfect way to retire the lens.
All that said, back to my original statement: my extra images from July of 2019 are mostly and ode to the final shots with my Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED. I’ve included some of the blurry images it captured. I went with the flow and embraced the blurriness. In post, I pushed the final edit to make the image look like a hand drawn illustration in some cases. It’s quite nice.
7.5 - Alhambra, CA
These sunset silhouettes felt great, as they reminded me of the many sunsets captured when I used to live in Pasadena. Good vibes:
7.6 - Burbank, CA
I’ve seen this view many times in north Burbank. It’s actually the view from an on-ramp for the I-5 South. I’m usually driving so quickly that I just admire the view and keep going. This time, I stopped before the on ramp and captured it. You can see some of that blur from the 18-105 happening.
This simple shot turned into something really fun. I’m pretty sure this image comes from East Los Angeles College, but I had dropped off an Uber passenger one morning and adjacent to the parking lot was this small hill with a withering tree. After removing a lamp post in Photoshop it felt like a moment from a vast exploration. The reason you’ll see six images below is because I had a great problem and question before sharing this image to social media: is it better in color or in black and white? That happens a lot, and usually I just pick and go with it, but I was convinced this time that the shot was equally pleasant both ways.
What came next was a creative exploration for 20 minutes. I started abstracting the color out of the image in various ways and ended up with a few variations between full color and black and white. When it was all said and done, I still don’t have an answer. I think I prefer the full color version, but became fond of the black and white landscape with color sky. It felt wintery:
My best estimation is that this was yet another vantage point of the LA skyline from a north east neighborhood like Montecito Heights or Mt. Washington. Here’s an example of just embracing the bluriness of the 18-105 and turning the images into illustrations:
7.10 - manhattan beach
Another fun morning at Manhattan Beach capturing the waves and beach goers. There are a few are 18-105mm “illustrations,” otherwise there’s some fisheye going on. I loved the surfer by the pier at the end:
7.13 - el monte, CA
I used to do this thing with my camera called “practice.” In my early days, just about daily, I’d walk around with my D90 and shoot random details around me. That’s a habit I’ve certainly departed from in recent years. On this day though, I picked up my 800E and played for a minute.
I’ve been so focused on my D90 and thinking about a new DX lens for it lately that I forget sometimes that I have a stellar FX body in the D800E and a pretty nice 24-120mm to shoot with. I have to be economical about it though: that FX pair is my professional camera and lens. I was hiking a lot with it earlier in the year and started noticing how often I needed to clean my sensor and the 24-120 is starting to show some age as well. Shoot sparingly. But on this particular day, I just felt like walking around the block and capturing a few things that caught my eye. El Monte is interesting. You’ll see some beautiful nature mixed with some…well garbage. My favorite of these are the birds on a wire:
7.16 - Ventura, CA
Just a few images from a nice escape up the coast to Ventura. This is Rincon Beach in particular. Check out the squirrel hiding in the rocks: