October 25, 2014, 03:12:47 AM

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Topics - Mt Spokane Photography

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Landscape / Photography in the Palouse
« on: March 31, 2014, 11:27:42 PM »
I noted that there is a photography event and workshop right on my back doorstep in the Palouse, which is the name that we use when referring to the area South of Spokane, Washington.  The Palouse river winds its way thru the hills, so that might be the reason for the name.
The rolling hills have huge wheat crops, with special combines that can climb the steep hills as well as run at a steep angle on the sides of the hills.  Its not Kansas, but there is wheat as far as you can see, and a good ways beyond.  I attended Washington State University in the heart of "The Palouse" many years ago. 
With all the beautiful scenery here locally, I should be spending more time taking photos.

5D MK III Sample Images / In Like A Lion
« on: March 03, 2014, 03:00:02 PM »
This year, March is coming in like a Lion.  we've had lots of snow every day in March, and while it was supposed to taper off today, its coming down at over two inches a hour.
Redwing blackbirds showed up a couple of weeks ago, about two weeks after the Robins.  They have been dining at our feeder and tend to get a lot hungrier when its snowing.  I snapped a photo out the front window after running my tractor to plow snow.   we have another two inches less than a hour later, and its still coming down heavily.


Pricewatch Deals / Canon Refurb Big Whites
« on: February 22, 2014, 12:05:27 AM »
I was noticing the big white lenses on the Canon Direct site.  We usually do not see the refurbs here, as dealers take all of them.  I suspect that seeing them on the refurb site is another indication of slow sales.
Get a Deal on the 800mm f/5.6L, or the 200mm f/2L, the 300mm f/2.8L is there but currently sold out.

Software & Accessories / Kickstarter Hacked
« on: February 15, 2014, 11:18:31 PM »
Here is the article
As usual, they start off by saying your credit card data is safe.  I'd be skeptical.  Make sure you do not use the same password on other sites, there are some good password managers that will generate and remember passwords for each site, and will encrypt that information..

Animal Kingdom / Our First Robin of 2014
« on: January 31, 2014, 01:55:27 PM »
Its only January, but after clearing snow this morning, I noticed a robin sitting by the front of our house in a crabapple tree eating last years crabapples.
I grabbed my 5D MK III and put on my 100-400L and took a photo out my front window.  When he did not fly, I went outside and managed to take a few shots before he flew.  These are not cropped, and have minor  adjustments in exposure.
400mm f/6.3 1/250 sec ISO 100

400mm f/6.3 1/320 sec ISO 125

We've had a foot of snow over the last two or three days, but the cold arctic air is moving in, clear skies and very cold!

Third Party Manufacturers / Hanford Atomic Reservation Camera from WWII
« on: January 22, 2014, 12:20:03 AM »
A local auction house is selling a lot of collectibles from Marvin Carr's Museum in Spokane.  I thought this one was interesting.

Theater, Concert and Event / Cheshire Cat
« on: January 16, 2014, 04:03:22 PM »
I was shooting the first dress rehersal of our local home School play last night.  they are doing "Alice in wonderland" this winter.
The costumes are amazing, and the ultra violet lit scenes with all the purples and blues are going to be a big challenge, enough that I switched my 5D MK III to Adobe RGB to capture as broad a spectrum as possible.
The Cat is a 9 man cat, so it does have nine lives :D   Its about 25 feet long to the tip of its tail.
all these are at ISO 26500 except for the photo of the break. The reason is that I was using a fast shutter speed due to the dancing amd movement, and have suddenly encountered some severe tendonitis and just leave the camera controls set.

Things are starting to fall apart!

A break while the Lighting is being Adjusted

The Cat keeps appearing in various places

Lenses / MOVED: Canon 200-400/1.4x on sale at BuyDig
« on: December 20, 2013, 09:35:30 PM »

A Test of the color gamut of the Ipad Mini shows that its not up to photography standards, covering only a portion of the sRGB gamut, while other recent tablets like the Kindle 7" HDX are excellent.

 I've been considering one, and Apple seems to have a lot of advantages, but not the new mini.


The IPAD Air is much better, but still not matching the Kindle Fire HDX.  The 4:3 screen ratio should be good for camera phone and P&S users, but for DSLR's, the shape of the Kindle screen may give more display area.


Pricewatch Deals / Canon Refurbish Store (USA Only) Restocked
« on: November 13, 2013, 12:26:21 PM »
I see they have restocked this morning, Wed 11/13.  I managed to order a 1.4X TC MK III for $349, it took me several tries, first it would not go into my cart, then Ames rejected the charge and wanted verification.  Meanwhile I paid using a Visa, since the store merely returned a generic message saying it could not process the charge.  A few minutes later, Amex called, but I already had paid otherwise.

Canon General / 30 Days to Design Your Portrait Business
« on: October 31, 2013, 12:53:09 PM »
Creative live is offering a free intensive workshop called
Its for those who are serious about starting a business and runs for 33 days!  There is a initial 3 day introduction, then a one hour segment each day for the next 28 days.
I can't imagine a better opportunity for someone who is serious about starting a photography business, its free if you watch it live, or later, it costs $150 to have access to the video and be able to watch it on your own schedule.
"The strongest portrait photography businesses have one thing in common: a dedicated, strategic plan for artistic and financial success. Join creative LIVE instructor Lori Nordstrom as she kicks off Launch Your Portrait Photography Business in 30 Days, an intensive course that will give you the step-by-step tools you need to survive and thrive as a portrait photographer.
This three-day introduction will cover the key components of launching or revamping a portrait business. You’ll develop a plan of action for marketing, branding, and pricing that will keep your clients happy and your business growing. As she takes family portraits live in studio, Lori will demonstrate the lighting, posing, and shooting skills she uses to make sure clients come away from a session with photos they’ll love. During one-hour segments spread out over the next 28 days, you’ll also learn about how to pitch your services so every consultation ends with a “Yes!”.
By the end of this course, you’ll have the concrete skills you need to attract clients, build a successful, satisfying business, and deliver stunning results every time."

Software & Accessories / $100 Coralpix Gimbal Head Review
« on: October 19, 2013, 08:22:25 PM »
After being very disappointed in the quality of my $150 Opteka gimbal head,  I decided to give a
different brand a try.  I did not expect much for $100, after all, my Wimberly head cost six times that
However, I had already sold the Wimberly and was looking for something inexpensive to try out my
Nikon 200-400mm lens with, and did not want to spend a lot.
Even though a head is inexpensive, there are some things it should be able to do just as part of a basic
1.  Be able to handle a heavy telephoto lens up to 10 lbs.
2. The swing arm should be able to swing smoothly without binding or jerking. It should be possible to
balance a lens so that it stays in whichever position you want without tightening the lock.  Ball bearings
are desirable.
3. The horizontal rotation should be smooth and not bind or jerk when panning.
4.  The tightening mechanisms for vertical and horizontal  should loosen and tighten fully and be user
5.  The finish should be free from obvious flaws like scratches or areas where the paint is chipped.
6.  It should be able to mount a Arca-Swiss compatible plate.
7.  My final test is that it should be able to track a flying bird swiftly and smoothly with a heavy lens.
1.  The Coralpix is rated at 13 pounds, and is made of a aluminum casting which had absolutely no
discernible bending or flexing with the approximately 9 lb rig I mounted on it.  I think it could take a lot
2.  The swing arm rotated smoothly and easily balanced my lens / camera combination so that it stayed
put even though a touch of my finger could move it to a new position, where it stayed. 
Less satisfying and a concern for longevity were the plastic bushings located in the swing arm housing,
and the plastic thrust washer on the swing-arm side of the housing.  I'd be concerned about galling,
and possibly cracking with heavy use. (see the black parts in the tear down photo)
The end near the adjustment knob had a sandwich of two cheap sloppy tolerance washers with a
roller bearing thrust washer between them.  It seemed to work fine.
3. The horizontal rotation had way too much play, but with a 6mm hex wrench, it was easily removed
without reducing the ability of the unit to rotate horizontally.  No matter how loose or tight, it was
smooth but did have a small amount of jerking when trying to move it in fine increments.  I did not tear
it down to see what was inside.
4.   Both the horizontal and vertical adjustment knobs required about 1/4 - 1/2 turn from loose to
locked.  It was difficult to tighten them such that there was friction but still smooth movement, it
worked better with them loose.
5.  The finish was reasonable, there were obvious rough places in the casting, but they were well
covered.  I could not tell for sure if the finish was paint or powder coating, but it looked like powder
6.  The swing arm is able to accept a Arca-Swiss compatible plate, and a short plate was provided.  (As
though you are going to use this with something needing a 1.5 inch plate??)
But ...  there was a problem with the clamp.  The supplied plate, and any plate that you'd want to use
with a big and expensive lens has stop screws to keep it from sliding out of the clamp by accident.  The
clamp would not open wide enough to accept the supplied plate, or any of my pates, for that matter!  I
used a hex wrench to back off the adjustment screw, since It opened freely to a point, and then was
very stiff.  This worked, but the screw suddenly became loose and easy to turn.  Being curious, I
finished backing it out.  The lip of the clamp was nicely designed with a spring on either side to allow
for even clamping.  The screw had some sort of thread locking material on the end which kept it from
opening wide enough and was apparently functioning as a retention method.  It dosen't retain any
longer, but is in no danger of falling apart.
7.  In the finanal analysis, I wanted a gimbal head that could move easily in the vertical and horizontal
planes to track a flying bird without jerking or binding, and I'm happy to say that it passed the test with
flying colors.
The CoralPix CPGH Aluminum Gimbal Tripod Head  exceeded my expectations as far as price-
performance.  It functions very well for a low cost unit and did not disappoint.  Compared to the
Opteka GH1 head, it was larger, made of cast aluminum  instead of steel, and had much smoother
operation and adjustment.  (I gave the Opteka a FAIL).
At the price I paid ($100) it was a very good buy.
The use of plastic parts inside the vertical swing-arm housing.
The lack of cover plates for the adjustment screws, which will allow dirt and debris to fall into them and
make a otherwise nice looking head look cheap.
The poorly adjusted horizontal pivot, how hard could it be to adjust it properly?

So, you might ask, am I switching to Nikon?  My answer is that they are just a tool, and I feel comfortable with either one.  I stumbled across a deal on the lens and was able to add the camera and gimbal head for far less than what the lens normally sells for used.  I'll probably sell it but keep the head and camera.  I'm not really into the use of large lenses, I prefer to hand hold them.  Suprisingly, I can handhold the lens for long enough to get good shots.  Packing it around for hours is out of the question, but a younger person might do just fine.  For BIF though, the gimbal head comes into its own.
Coralpix left, Opteka Right

Swivel Arm disassembly, the black bushings are plastic.

It comes packed in a nice closed cell foam protective support and includes good instructions, a rarity for a low cost item.

Here it is with my Nikon 200-400mm f/4G VR lens with a D300s attached.  even with the large lens, it has no problems and can take something bigger and heavier.  The lens does not balance well due to Nikon's habit of putting a foot on the tripod ring that is too short.  Fortunately, I has a 6 in Kirk Plate with two mounting screws, and it was still almost at the rear limit.  With a heavier D3 or D4, it would balance better.


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