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cowan stark

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Posts posted by cowan stark

  1. Interestingly, I've been waiting to hear back from B&H for several weeks and happened into my local camera store here in NH (Hovey's Photo)and picked one up for the same price as B&H. No shipping and no sales tax here. There's another store in the area which also had the bundled lens but it was $100 over the B&H price. I had the same thing happen when the D60 came out a few years ago. Canon's distibution strategy is pretty quirky. Great camera...it'll be worth the wait, hope you score one soon. I didn't get the extended warranty. I've never had a problem with Canon service that they couldn't fix promtly at a reasonable cost.
  2. Well, I'm going to jump in and say that I really like this lens...a lot. I don't find it "flat" or fuzzy at all. I've used it on a D60 and full frame on an EOS 3 and I must say, I like it much better on the digital camera and it's going to live on the D60 as a "normal" 28-70 equivalent. Previously I had a Sigma 15-30, which was pretty good, but using a ND filter or polarizer is too problematic. For my style of shooting, I don't think I've ever shot a landscape that needed a 2.8 aperture so it fits my needs nicely. I'd also wonder if you got a bad copy of the lens because I've had a very different experience.<div>0059Kf-12856684.jpg.30537b3b34ffaf837151b8cd46f73286.jpg</div>
  3. Southeastern New Hampshire here...we've only had .55 inches of rain in the past 6 weeks (about 85% below normal) but it's finally raining today. Don't plan your trip around rainfall amounts, it's the number of days of sunlight that has a greater effect on pigment changes. Last year was very dry also, but we had very good color. You'll drive yourself crazy trying to guess and second guess what the foliage is going to be like in a given year so I've given up worrying about it!
  4. I've used an EOS 3 with the lens/tc's you have for (humpback) whale photography. Honestly, I'd just stick it on Evaluative metering and fire away. You're right, there's just no way to spot meter a breaching whale and dial down -1.5 exposure compensation or whatever for a dark subject. This is where the skill of your tour operator comes in and they hopefully won't have you shooting into the sun. You'll definitely get underexposed shots that way. A lot of the more serious tour boats are also photographing the whales from the bridge to collect data to help with research so they avoid this. I've found bracketing to be not all that helpful either. If you're lucky, even with the speed of the EOS 3, you might get the right exposure to coincide with the action. Some of my best exposed shots are of the last remnant of the tail fluke disappearing under the surface! Obviously the size of the subject in the frame is going to affect it,as well as weather conditions (white skies are a killer!) but again I've found the metering system to be fairly reliable. I don't know how close to the whales you can get where you are, but I'd bring along a short zoom (a 28-135IS) works well. A 300 with tc isn't going to be much good if one spyhops next to the boat as they sometimes do here in New England. It took me several trips to get it right, so if you have several opportunities, see if you get some slides developed between trips so you can have another crack at it.
  5. Upper Antelope Canyon is on a controlled flood plain and you don't have to worry. Lower Antelope is where the flash flood deaths ocurred a few years ago. Remember, this is one of the phenomena that formed the canyon in the first place. The guide I was with last year told me they now have watch stations upstream and an alarm system that'll sound if there's a flash flood warning.


    Elizabeth, just another tip. If you use Velvia which seems to be a favorite, familiarize yourself with the reciprocity failure characteristics with long exposures. It tends to get purple in the shadows. Some use a Magenta filter, or Tiffen 812 (I think that's what David Muench uses for this). For your first trip, a tour isn't a bad idea, you can often get extended time in the canyon. I can recommend <a href="http://www.antelopecanyon.com/index.html">Roger Ekis Tours</a>.

  6. The classic sunbeam shots are a summer phenomenon when the sun is higher in the sky and usually around midday. I've been there in early November and late October and the light shafts don't hit the ground then either. I talked to a guide about it and he said June/July are best for that, but it's also busier and you have a lot more people to contend with.
  7. I go out of Gloucester several times a year. I highly recommend the folks at <a href="http://www.caww.com/">Cape Ann Whale Watch</a>. I would take 400 and 100 speed film (I usually use Provia)and see how the weather goes. You have the right lens, but I'd also have a wide angle zoom handy. There's nothing like having a whale spyhop right next to the boat and you're stuck with too much lens. Don't bother with a polarizer or any type of tripod or monopod. Carry a microfiber cloth to clean spray off your lens or use a UV filter. Watch your horizons if they're included in the frame, it's a challenge to keep them level during the excitement. Shooting from the upper or lower decks can give very different views. Personally, I prefer the lower deck. Most importantly, listen to the naturalists. If you can grasp the rhythm of the whales' movement and diving behaviour you'll be able to anticipate the shot better, especially if they're breaching. There's probably a lot of info in the archives here also. Here's a shot I wished I had my zoom handy to get better framing. Have fun!<div>003WPz-8812584.jpg.a85af64319a3de794f88fa9c339d72d6.jpg</div>
  8. I usually see herons every day around low tide on the Oyster River in Durham NH. Try Jackson's Landing on the left as you get off Route 4 onto 108 it's just past the hockey rink where the boat launch is. The Durham town landing about 1/2 mile up the road is also good. If you continue on Route 108 just across from the town offices there's a spillway where you can often see them taking turns fishing. Practice you're stalking technique though, they're pretty skittish! Also pick up DeLorme's NH Gazeteer and a tide chart.
  9. You can't use Firewire with the 2450 using Windows 98SE. I tried it too, and it didn't work, although it works fine with my Sony DV camcorder. Here's an exerpt from Epson's FAQ's for the 2450. I don't know about Windows XP though.


    "Q: What are the minimum system requirements for Windows?


    A: These are the minimum system requirements. For optimum performance,

    a faster processor and more memory are recommended. Scanning at

    higher resolutions may create very large files that can exceed system



    - An IBM® compatible PC with a Pentium® or higher processor

    - For USB: Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Me, or Windows

    2000 Professional; operating system must not be an upgrade from

    Windows 95

    For IEEE 1394: Microsoft Windows Me or Windows 2000 Professional;

    operating system must be pre-installed."


    You might be better off putting in a USB 2.0 card if you don't want to change the OS.

  10. I've bought several times from them using their website with no

    problems at all. Sometimes their prices aren't any better than B&H's

    grey market prices, but at other times they have some great buys. I

    just got a Sigma 14/2.8 for $130 less than B&H, and they also have

    some great prices on Pentax 67 lenses for you EOS folks who also

    shoot MF.

  11. Another plug for Pentax to do your repairs. I haven't sent my camera in, but I just had a 45mm lens repaired which had an intimate encounter with the wall of Antelope Canyon. No damage to the glass, but it trashed the filter ring, the helical focus mechanism and the rubber focusing ring was buckled-it made a sickening grinding sound when turned. I figured it was a write-off, but instead it came back good as new (better actually since it was CLA'd)in three weeks and didn't even make my $250 deductible.


    Another time my frame counter dial fell off in the woods and I called Pentax and they promptly sent out all the necessary parts and I was able to fix it for under $10 (and I'm no handyman when it comes to camera repairs). What really impressed me was the tech I spoke with knew exactly what I needed and didn't even put me on hold!

  12. A couple of things to add from a relatively happy P67 user. One method to dampen the vibration is to take a bungee cord and hook one end to your bootlace, the other to the center column and step down. A poor man's image stabilizer system. Not recommended if you're stalking wildlife...and need to make a run for it. I've tried it, but I can't say I've noticed a huge difference.


    Kirk Enterprises makes an Arca Swiss style "L" bracket which makes shooting verticals a whole lot easier especially using a lighter tripod like the Bogen 3021. Swinging that baby over on its side for verticals can get pretty unstable if you're not careful.

  13. I attended the RMSP workshop in Zion with Liz Stone and Tim Cooper three years ago. I found her to be an excellent and very patient instructor. She was also seemed to be very knowledgable about the location and had obviously scouted out the lighting and photo-ops ahead of time. Well worth the money in my opinion. I got some great images and even learned a thing or two.
  14. I agree, the uncertainty factor looms large these days. The rules are inconsistent. If you have a bag that's even borderline and they tell you to check it, you can argue until you're blue in the face...you won't win. And don't expect the hundred people in line behind you who are already getting edgey to back you up while you whine about your precious toys. Having flown several times since 9/11, I really think you run the risk of having your backpack or bag checked in which case the risk of loss or damage will be much greater. On another newsgroup, a commercial pilot/photographer said that your equipment will need to withstand a fall from 6 feet onto a concrete floor if its the first one dumped off the plane. I'm putting my backpack in a Pelican that's large enough to have room for extra foam and checking it. I purchased 'all risk' coverage through NANPA which includes rentals if the bags don't make it on time. Yeah it's expensive, but I'm more likely to break or lose something through my own clumsiness anyway. If you contact Lowepro's customer service folks, they can tell you exactly which of their bags fit in a specific Pelican case down to the model number. As far as lossed/delayed bags go, I've been told that the newer security measures will not permit unaccompanied checked baggage...it will all have to be on the same plane as the passenger. Imagine that!!!!
  15. I used to be able to cram my Tamrac 787 into the template using the compression straps, but on a trip to the Southwest last week I didn't even try. From what I observed,I can almost guarantee there'll be no wiggle room if you're told to check your bag. FWIW I fit mine into a Pelican 1650 case and had no trouble with sending it through as checked baggage. I didn't have to remove foam in the bottom or the lid. Also it has wheels and a pull-out handle which helps. I understand that the Lowepro Pro Trekker will also fit the 1650.
  16. I've use a 3443 with 35mm, a Pentax 67 and large format for over a year. I think you'll be OK with the 55, and the 135 as long as you use MLU and avoid the dreaded shutter slap shutter speed zones. In my experience if you can apply one of the many damping methods with 135 or longer, it definitely helps. I've found hanging my bag from a carabiner hooked onto the strap ring helps...just be very careful it can tip easily if you're not paying attention. Another trick is to rest a beanbag on top of the camera...right away you lose any weight savings. Then there's the poor man's image stabilizer (learned from a fellow photo-netter)...take one end of a bungee and hook it on the center column, hook the other end to your bootlace and step down. Be sure to unhook it before you change head back to the car, and don't shoot barefooted! I think it actually helps. I just got a 200 last week and should get some slides back tomorrow to see if this method works with that lens. I've tried the 300 off the 3443 and wasn't happy with the results even using an AS-B1 head. Others may have fared better than I though. So, yes it can be done, but I feel there are definite limitation, but you can get around them.
  17. I have a P67 and can't really say I've had any trouble focusing it with the standard screen. However, since I use it almost exclusively at small apertures for landscapes, I usually compose the shot and set the hyperfocal distance instead of focusing the lens. Obviously if I were a portraitist I'd do it differently. I haven't handled a P67 II so I can't make the comparison as far as ease of focusing goes, but I'd be surprised if it's worse. I have the 45,55,135 and 200mm lenses. The 55 and the 135 are amazingly sharp, even at small apertures. I guess you'll have to decide for yourself how you see the world in 35mm to decide on your 'normal' lens. Personally, I'd go for the 90.
  18. Here are some suggestions from <a href="http://www.luminous-landscape.com/flying.htm">Luminous-Landscape's website</a>. I've got a trip planned to the Southwest at the end of next month. Depending on how the carry-on thing pans out, I may end up Fedex-ing the film both ways. Even if they still allow limited use of carry-on luggage, you can bet you (and others)are going to be delayed while they go through all that stuff. As far as the equipment goes, Fed-ex may be a very expensive option. I'm going to look into the status of my insurance coverage and consider packing it all in foam in an old hard sided suitcase and take my chance on checking it. It's definitely going to change and we might as well get used to it. I'm not going to gripe about increased security measures at this point either.
  19. Business takes me to Phoenix during the last week of October. I'll

    have a few days to kill at the end of the week and would really like

    to go up to Monument Valley. I'd like to hire a guide who can take

    me to photo-worthy spots for sunrise/sunset pictures since my time is

    a little limited on this particular trip. A Google search turned up

    a lot of options but I'm not sure where to start. I'd appreciate

    hearing your experiences (positive or negative) with any of the

    Navajo guide services. Tom Phillips with Kéyah Hózhóní Tours seems

    to offer what I want, but I haven't been able to sucessfully contact

    them by phone. I also searched the archives and only got a couple of

    returns which were a bit dated.

  20. Unfortunately, roll film resembles shotgun shells! I've never had a problem (in North America anyway)just putting the film in Zip Lock bags. I was talking with the guy inspecting my film at one airport, and he said as long as they were still in the sealed foil wrappers that was OK. Porters sells 2 types of storage options. There are the colored plastic Film Stor boxes, and transparent tubes that will apparently hold three rolls of 120 each. They're not really too expensive. Alternatively, you can try using the tubes that M&M's come in now. I'm pretty sure they'll hold a roll of 120. You just have to eat all the candy first.


    I travel with a Tamrac 787 backpack, which I've always been able to get through as a carry-on when using the compression straps. I pack a Bogen 441/Arca Swiss B-1 in a Kinesis tripod bag with socks and underwear packed around it. I also try to 'float' the tripod in my checked baggage to protect it.

  21. Markus, your pictures are fine. I think one of the challenges of nature photography, is dealing with the hand we're dealt. Unlike studio photographers, our models can't be pre-selected, we can't control the elements or in most cases, lighting. I've got a ton of duck portraits in my slide collection. They look a lot like your duck portraits. It's a combination of shooting in unique environments, knowing something about the biology of your subject, and dumb luck that probably set memorable shots apart from the mundane ones. I take a big hit on 'originality' ratings too, and although I'm not a big fan of the rating system, I think I'm a little more aware than I used to be. I'll now ask myself, "what can I do to make this duck more interesting?". If I can't answer it, I'll probably move on. A better photographer would find a way.


    I was at a large format workshop with Steve Simmons (editor of Camera Arts and View Camera) last fall in New Mexico. We were on our way to a location, and he pulled over to the side of the road and asked us if we knew where we were. There was some scrub, an old church, some non-descript trees and mountains in the background. Puzzled, we all looked at each other trying to figure out the point. The nearby roadsign read "Hernandez". We were standing in the spot that Ansel Adams made one of his most famous images! He made the shot in a hurry in failing light and didn't have time to make a meter reading. I guess that's the kind of thing that sets us apart.

  22. Well, just got back from Machias Seal Island yesterday. We landed without any problems. The stewards on the island were very helpful and cordial. They helped get everybody and their equipment off the tender and over the slippery rocks which were really treacherous at low tide. One of the issues the Canadian government has is over the safety of the landing area. They probably have a point. There isn't one! They just beach the boat between a gap in the rocks...no docks or handholds, you just have to hang on to a helping hand. We had really tough shooting conditions, heavy fog with 1/4 mile visibilty or less, and 4-6 foot seas. Made it seem something like a cross between Gilligan's Island and the Perfect Storm. There were however, tons of puffins, auks, and those divebombing terns. Don't forget to bring a hat if you go.<div>001U7U-4672484.jpg.60b35266226e2b1220a8c2c223369134.jpg</div>
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