Back in the quarry

An abstract Lake Superior landscape?

An abstract Lake Superior landscape?

It seems like it takes awhile each year before I am prepared to go out photographing in the bitter cold.  These past couple of weeks in Michigan have been just that.  So instead I am following up on another of my year goals to start catching up on the rocks I have piling up around my desk.

I still remain fascinated by the ancient landscapes and abstract patterns going on in these pieces.   I usually hold a piece in my hand for awhile, rotating it, flipping it, looking for the more photogenic parts of the whole.   It is not unlike scanning the landscape from the sky.

Interestingly, this section of Morrisonite reminded me of a landscape I photographed in the Pictured Rocks area of Lake Superior.  See if you see some of the same similarity in the elements.   It is almost as if I gave this photo to an abstract painter and asked for their interpretation of it.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore photo

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Lake Superior, Michigan


Additionally, I learned something new recently in perusing the DXOmark website on some lens tests.   Since I usually use either my Nikon 105 f/2.8 VR Macro or my Nikon 200 f/4 macro in working with these rocks, I was curious if one had better performance than the other in the lab.   I hadn’t noticed their “Perceptual Megapixel” sharpness rating before.   This basically takes the megapixel rating of a camera, and compares the lenses against an theoretical optically perfect transmission system. rating of macro lenses with Nikon D800 rating of macro lenses with Nikon D800

So for a D800 36MP camera, perfect optics would yield 36 megapixels.   I don’t think this is physically possible unless you have the budget of the Hubble telescope, but for an ultimate goal, OK.  Interestingly enough, they rate the 105 mm lens at 16 MP, and the 200mm at 19 MP.   That is quite a loss of megapixels!   But probably visually insignificant in comparing the two.

Then I went through their data to find the lens that had the highest Perceptual Megapixel (P-Mpix) rating and it was a 200mm f2G ED VR II lens in combination with a D800, resulting in a P-Mpix of 28.   Unfortunately, that lens doesn’t do macro (closest focusing is 6.2 feet (2 m) and costs nearly $6000.   In fact, there are only 2 lenses on the list that offer 25 MP or higher.   Then it starts dropping off quite quickly.

I still don’t understand why the 105 got an overall higher score than the 200, as the 200mm seems to beat the 105 in nearly every metric.   Still, it is something that makes you think a bit.   Even some of the most expensive lenses have trouble realizing the entire capability of this sensor by these types of measurements.  Switch cameras to a lower MP rated camera, even Nikon’s D4 (a 16 MP sensor) has a P-Mpix of 12 MP with these lenses.

This would seem to indicate that the megapixel wars should really be over, and let the more perfect lens wars begin!   So how many P-Mpix do you think that Nokia 41 MP camera phone really yields with that tiny lens? :-)

So I will continue to catch up in the quarry over the next couple of weeks, and most likely choose my 200mm over my 105 for those few extra MP.  :-)

Thanks for reading and stopping by!





  1. The abstract looks, to me, like a lagoon in front of a rock face with some interesting trees and plants scaling the face. There’s just enough of a beach to sit and enjoy.
    Paul recently posted..Is it worth it to you?My Profile

  2. I will admit that I do see the abstract landscape as a result of subliminal suggestion…but that is what titles are for sometimes. There is a nice glow to the rocks…some of which, I suppose, is due to the LED I am viewing it on, but it glows just the same.
    I’ve been out once so far this winter in the very cold, a subjective judgment, and obtained a couple of neat ice abstracts. But it takes some getting acclimated before I can spend too much time in the frigid air. Eventually 10° feels balmy. Right.
    Steve Gingold recently posted..12.05.2013 The honour of your click is humbly requested.My Profile

    • I go back and forth on offering those suggestions Steve. Sometimes it is quite interesting just to see what comes to mind for others just upon the image itself. Other times I feel people just shut down if they don’t understand what they are looking at. It all depends on their own personal experience in looking at abstract art I suppose.

      I haven’t been out yet to photograph in the cold – still meaning to. I am very curious to go out to our lakes and see what is forming up along the shorelines.

      Funny you mention that 10 degrees and balmy. After many dates in the low teens here, it did seem rather pleasant just having 23 deg F yesterday.

  3. This image is fantastic! A judge at a recent camera club competitionsaid that abstract images should not be about what it is but more about color and form. (I knew that!) She took the criteria a bit further by giving images that seemed to morph into something else higher marks. This image would certainly have scored very high,
    denisebushphoto recently posted..Water AttractionMy Profile

  4. That is a great image Mark. A surrealist landscape and definitely a perfect abstraction of the Pictured Rocks landscape. There is so much depth in it and the colour palette is so warming and inviting despite being within such a small range of hues.
    As for the info on the lenses, that is also interesting. As you say, this may indicate the end of trying to fit more pixels on sensors and the beginning of putting effort where it will make the most difference: lenses. It’s been long overdue.
    Cedric Canard recently posted..When all possibilities existMy Profile

  5. I have the same problem photographing in the cold. I’m just not made for it. I love your rock photos! I do see exactly what you are seeing. Almost a fractal like interpretation. Look forward to seeing more of your abstract stone!

  6. I do love these rock abstracts of yours Mark. I don’t generally look for comparisons to other subjects — the language and movement of these images speak volumes in themselves. Hope there are many more to come.

  7. Hi Mark,
    the abstract shot is lovely! I really like the structure and silky-dreamy overall look. Looking for abstracts open our eyes for something else than the odd landscape and it is a worthwhile and valuable experience.

    Well, reaction to temperature is really personal. I belong to those people who cannot stand temperatures over 25°C and I feel very comfortable in winter. I had to smile reading Steve’s comment: that guy in the supermarket could have been me :) =D

    Cheers from Switzerland,
    Sandra recently posted..~ Winter dream ~My Profile

    • Hi Sandra,
      Thanks! I also hate very hot weather. Although I don’t think I am going to be wearing shorts in these temperatures anytime soon! :-)

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