Sunday, March 31, 2013

Swing Choir Challenge

I volunteered to shot a cabaret concert held recently by my local High School at an Elementary School.  Lighting and, accordingly, white balance was a horror story. Ambient lighting was a mixture of tungston and fluorescent lights and a single spotlight was used to highlight the performers, moving around during the performance.

I used the 5D Mark II and 70-200mm f.2.8L USM lens as I needed to be behind or on the side of the audience sitting at tables. There was no room at all to be in front of the audience.

Here's a shot that shows the general layout of the event.

I had to shoot wide open at f/2.8 using ISO 3200. Shutter speeds ranged from 1/30 sec. to 1/180 sec. depending on how close I was zoomed in to lighted subjects. I used a monopod since my 70-200mm zoom is not image stabilized.

Here are four representative shots. The white shirts on the guys seemed to make those scenes more striking that the all black outfits of the girls.

You can view all of the photos from the shoot here.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Abandoned Shipyard

I brought my 50D and EF 17-40mm f/4L USM lens on my (not really) daily walk a few days ago and made some photos of the old buildings at the abandoned Matton Shipyard on Van Schaick Island in Cohoes, which is now a part of Peebles Island State Park.

I used live view to frame the shots as I had to hold the camera over my head above a chain link fence. Both shots were made at f/6.7 and at the short end of the zoom lens which has a field of view equivalent to a 27mm lens on a 35mm film or full frame camera.

With the overcast sky and snow on the ground, the white balance was all over the place. I had to adjust white balance first and then save the bracketed files to jpgs before I could process them with PhotoMatix Essentials.

This whole area was under water back in late August 2011 with flooding from Tropical Storm Irene.

Here is a shot of the same building I made in August, 1989 with a Minolta film camera and Kodak slide fim.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Back to the EOS 50D

One of the factors in my decision to sell my EOS 1D Mark III was the fact that I still have a good condition EOS 50D which I bought from LensRentals last Summer and which I can't really sell due to it's high, over 100,000, shutter count. Although at the price I was willing to sell it for, together with the cost of a new shutter from Canon, it still would have been a bargain camera body.

Here are some of the things that the 1D Mark III added over and above the 50D:
  • dual card slots, 1 CF and 1 SD, so I was able to have a 32G card in each slot
  • integrated vertical grip in weather sealed body
  • much longer battery life
  • built in eyepiece cover
  • 10 frames per second with a second, slower fps selectable by the user. (I chose 5fps)
  • capability to use up to 7 frames in auto exposure bracketing vs. 3 for the 50D
  • 100% viewfinder coverage
  • more auto focus options (although I only use the center point on all bodies)
  • 1.3x crop factor vs. 1.6x for the 50D (sometimes a plus, sometimes not)

Here are some things that I prefer about the 50D:
  • 15 megapixel sensor vs. 10 megapixels for the 1DIII
  • Digic 4 processor vs. Digic 3 for the 1DIII
  • nearly identical operational controls as my main body, the 5D Mark II
  • 1.6x crop factor vs. 1.3x for the 1DIII (sometimes a plus, sometimes not)

Here are some things that I wish were different about the 50D:
  • They kept the old BP511A battery instead of the new LP-E6 battery which was introduced less than a month later in the 5DII
  • They kept the old battery grip from previous XXD bodies which doesn't have a separate back AF button like the body itself does.

The EOS 60D, the current body in that lineup of cameras was a step backward in terms of build quality, view finder coverage, frame rate and some important features like micro focus adjustment which were present in the 50D. There are rumors that the 70D is soon to be announced and that it may bring that line of cameras back to where it was before the 60D was introduced. If that's so, the sale of my 1D Mark III would cover the cost of that new body. In the mean time, I'll use the 50D for when I want a faster frame rate than the 5DII or the longer reach of the 1.6X crop factor.

[UPDATE 3/31/13: Instead of waiting to see what the 70D brings I decided to pick up a used 7D body with battery grip. The 7D lacks all the shortcomings of the 50D I mentioned above plus has a 100% viewfinder, 18 megapixel 1.6x crop sensor, 8 frames per second and dual Digic 4 processors.]

Here are a couple of shots from the past week or so made with the 50D and the 300mm f/4L IS USM lens.

Table for One - Eastern Gray Squirrel

Bird's Foot Icicle

Monday, March 18, 2013

Back to Making Images

While I wait to hear from eBay so that maybe I can make some progress selling my camera, I stopped briefly at a drained canal to shoot some scenics. I've been waiting for some diffused, but decent, light in order to highlight the arches which are mostly under water when the canal is full.

I suspect the purpose of the arches is to disperse boat wakes in the narrow channel which is the canal. This section of the canal is located between locks 2 and 3 of the Erie portion of the New York State Canal System in Waterford, New York.

All shots are three image +/- 1.5 EV HDR processed files made with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and either the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM or the EF 70-200 f/2.8L USM lens. Exposure information in the captions is for the normally exposed image. Shutter speeds will vary appropriately for the other two exposures.

200mm, f/5.6, 1/350 sec., ISO 400

110mm, f/5.6, 1/250 sec., ISO 400

32mm, f/11, 1/250 sec., ISO 400

Friday, March 15, 2013

No More Selling on eBay

While this isn't a post about photography, it is a post about selling cameras and why I'm no longer going to use eBay for that purpose.

eBay used to be a reliable, safe place to buy and sell camera equipment. In fact, I began on eBay well over a decade ago buying and selling trumpets for my personal use. But like a lot of things, the bigger it gets the more dangerous it gets.

Yesterday, I listed my 1D Mark III for sale on eBay with a Buy It Now price of $1,330. Within minutes I received an email from eBay saying the camera had sold at that price.

Having just looked at ended sales of 1D Mark III bodies and knowing that my price was at the high end of the range that camera had been selling for, I was skeptical. When I saw that the buyer was in the UK and had no history of transactions with eBay I knew something was up.

My auction listed shipping only to the US so I notified the buyer that we would have to cancel the transaction. I communicated both through eBay and directly with my photo email which is not the same email I use with eBay and PayPal.

Here is the first response:

Hello, I am the buyer of your item...I am buying it as a birthday Gift for my son...Also should i made the payment to this PayPal email address (truland not.please get back with your correct paypal email address,i want to be sure via can also send me paypal money request to my mail (waltervivian451

First, that email, is not an address I use or have set up. My reply was that no, I'm not shipping to the UK and would you please agree to cancel the transaction.

I then get this fake email purportedly from PayPal (click for full size):

It looks real but the email isn't from PayPal at all as the return address is a domain. And it's not possible that money had been deposited in that account because that PayPal account doesn't exist. It's my email but not the one I use for PayPal.

The same time as the fake email arrived, I get an email from the fake purchaser as follows:
I want to notify you that payment for your item has already been made and the necessary funds have been deducted from my PAY PAL account.i want you to send the item  to the address below,am buying it as a birthday gift for my Son,who is currently working with the UNICEF and he is on special duty in Nigeria at this can check your Spam box if you did not see the PayPal notification mail in your inbox.

I have provided 150.00 USD available for the shipping USPS Express mail international sign for EB So endeavor to get the item in post ASAP,so that it can get to my Son on time for his birthday Gift.

I want you to get the item to my Son as soon as you receive notification from the PayPal. Because I want my Son to receive the item before his birthday.

Name.......Gabriel Abayomi
Address...17 Otun Street
Zip code...23401,

Best Regards.
And this message through eBay:
Payment as been made you can check your Spam box if you did not see the PayPal notification mail in your inbox.
And yes, I did check my PayPal account via web browser since the actual account information was passed along to the purchaser by eBay. Of course there is no transaction.

I forwarded the fake email to PayPal and reported the issue to eBay. My problem is the sale of my camera, which already cost $12 in fees, has been ended with a fake purchase.

I also noted a transaction on eBay recently where a purported purchaser bid almost $8,000 for a used 5D Mark II body which would be worth, at most, around $1,500.

So, if anyone out there wants to buy a really nice 1D mark III for $1,300 let me know. It looks like I'll be holding on to it for a while.

UPDATE: 3/16/13

Wow, my would be scammer doesn't give up easily. Here's an email I received this morning:
Dear seller, what is going on with the shipment to my son, payment as been made out and your funds as been deducted from my paypal account, and it will be credited into your paypal account once you get the item ship and get back to paypal with the shipment tracking number for confirmation...Check your Spam box if you did not see the paypal notification mail in your in box.. 
You do have to admire persistance, I suppose. By the way, the email address the scammer is using is And here is my email response:
Fake emails purporting to be from Paypal don't fool me you turkey. Your scam has been reported to eBay and PayPal.

Here's where you screwed up. The PayPal account you pretended to deposit into doesn't exist so I couldn't have received an email from PayPal. 

My real PayPal account was sent to you by eBay but evidently you're too stupid to figure it out.

And, it's easy to log in to PayPal and see if anything has been deposited.

Do you really think people are stupid enough to ship something to Africa for a purchaser in the UK when the whole auction was limited to the US?
Another by the way, neither eBay nor PayPal have responded to any of my contacts to them over the past several days.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Four Seasons

I mentioned last time that I would post what I considered the four best shots of the Peebles Island Trail Scenic Project, one from each season. Well, I can't really do that. I found four shots that represent each of the seasons but there are many shots I consider superior to these in some way.

A lot of my favorites were made in November, after all the foliage was gone, and in February and March, with no snow on the ground. As such, they really don't represent any of the seasons.

In any case, here are four images which I feel best represent each of the seasons beginning with Spring. I also made an effort to represent different parts of the island in my choices.

The Spring image was made on April 19, 2012 with a Canon EOS 5D and an EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens at f/8. Shutter speed was 1/40 sec. and ISO was 100. This is the only one of the four photographs which is a single exposure. I didn't make a habit of bracketing for HDR processing until later in the project.


The Summer image was made on August 7, 2012 with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens at 24mm and f/8. This is a three shot bracketed HDR image processed with Photomatix Essentials and the shutter speed for the normally exposed shot is 1/90 sec. and ISO was 100.


The Autumn image was made on October 16, 2012 with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and EF 17-40mm  f/4L USM lens at 21mm and f/5.6. This is also a three shot bracketed HDR image processed with Photomatix Essentials and the shutter speed for the normally exposed shot is 1/250 sec. and ISO was 200.


The Winter image was made on December 31, 2012 with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens at f/8. This is a three shot bracketed HDR image processed with Canon's Digital Photo Professional software and the shutter speed for the normally exposed shot is 1/250 sec. and ISO was 400.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Peebles Island Trail Scenic Project Ends

The year long effort to document the trails on Peebles Island, which began last March 22nd, has come to an end. The thirty images I made and uploaded to the Zenfolio gallery yesterday bring the project total to 290 photographs.

Between now and March 20th, the first day of Spring, little will change on the island so I've decided the project has run its course. I hope to produce a 2014 calendar from the images which will involve choosing seasonally appropriate shots and probably going back to the RAW files and process them in a way more appropriate fot printing purposes.

I've decided on another year long project for Peebles Island which I'll begin once Spring arrives. I'll describe it once I have some images to post.

Here are five images from yesterday's project wrap-up. I once again used the 1D Mark III with the 17-40mm lens. All photos are three file HDR images made at f/8 and processed with Photomatix Essentials.

My next blog entry will be what I think are the four best images from the project, one from each season.  After that, the blog will see no more trail scenics from Peebles Island.