Monday 30 November 2009

That time of the year - Grey Seals

So we can expect to see lots of Seal images all over the forums from Donna Nook et all as the Grey Seal population comes ashore to deliver their new offspring, so if you are going there please think about giving the animals some space. There was some bad behaviour last year so I understand so lets hope there are no repeats. We have talked often enough on here that the welfare of the subject takes priority over the image.

More interesting for me was the story from the Farne Islands last week.

Last week five of the National Trust wardens had been stuck on the Farnes for three weeks while surveying the seal population. Food was running short as the boat was unable to take them off due to continuous high winds and heavy seas. Full story here.

The weather is bad news for the young seals who also suffered terribly last year with their numbers being decimated. Lets hope it is better around other parts of the coast although I understand it has been equally as bad around the south west too.

Update: Just remembered that I had this a bookmark on Donna Nook in Firefox so thought I would share


Sunday 29 November 2009

Where to buy-USA

Whilst i agree with Martins last blog where he says to support your local camera shop, in this day and age its every penny that counts and local stores just cant compete with on line shops, The only reason i have used my local store (wolf camera) is that they managed to locate a 600vr when the other big boys could not and for large prints as i needed some large prints quickly, On line prints are much cheaper and companies like Mpix have a very good reputation, Camera gear tends to come from B+H and Adorama although you will have read my last dealings with BH so now Adorama, Amazon and Hunts will be getting all my business, I purchase a lot of books and magazines and these come from either Barnes and Noble who are local and are good to deal with or Amazon, Whilst we are talking books i have just purchased Art Wolfs book 'Edge of the Earth corner of the sky' which is normally $75 and Barnes and Noble is currently offering for a bargain $14-Even Arts web site shows it for nearly $50-something for Xmas, Its nice to get a good rapport with your local shop but at the end of the day by buying gear on line i have saved $1000's,

The new 70-200 should be with me Monday so look for some images from it some time next week


Saturday 28 November 2009

News - T4 Cameras

Had a quick catch up with Bruce at T4 cameras yesterday and had a good old chat about many things Canon and Nikon, as his shops stock both.

Seems like the Witney in Oxfordshire store is now at Canon EOS Pro Store status, so congrats to them on that.

And while I appreciate that it is too late now and they are all full, but they are running a series of flash seminars at the Witney store as the first in a series, so check out their website to follow up. If I get to hear of any future ones, I will flag them up on here.

Like many camera outlets this year, it has been a more difficult trading year for many dealers, much of that thanks to the ridiculous hikes in gear prices as result of the exchange rates and some less acceptable, at least from my perspective, of gear prices from the manufacturers, and by that I am talking about the unbelievable and unacceptable hike by 50% on the RRP for the 1Dmk4. Whatever the final selling price settles out at, a 50% shift in the base price is outrageous.

Looking like it will be January before either the 1Dmk4 and the Nikon D3s hits the stores in reasonable numbers. Although Bruce did get 3 of the new model Nikon 70-200VRf2.8 lenses in yesterday, so we've got them here now Dave :-)

So to all you would be new gear purchasers, please make sure you support your local or preferred pro dealers - the service and support that I have had from Bruce in the past few years has been second to none, and don't always look to the bottom line price as your sole reason to buy from some non de-script 'on-line' only retailer.

Whenever I have bought my larger bits of kit, and certainly those that might go wrong, then I always prefer to deal with a reputable pro dealer and somewhere with a shop that I can walk it back to if I need to - that is why I have bought my kit from Bruce at T4 and will do so for all my future large value bits of kit.


Friday 27 November 2009

7D Tutorials

I said before about Canon being proactive bringing out a white paper for the 1D MK4 before its even in the shops-now they have some video tutorials for the 7D-Here


Thursday 26 November 2009

Your Santa wish list - Part 1

Posting a bit late tonight as I walked into Stratford-upon-Avon tonight to see the Christmas lights that were switched on this evening, and visit the Christmas market. Nothing tempted me to part with my cash although the Guinness on the way back was good.

With it being less than a month to Christmas no doubt many of you are turning your thoughts to your Christmas lists and wishes so I thought I would put together a few ideas over the next couple of weeks that might help you with your thoughts that you might want to buy yourself, or send your partner on to the blog with a few subtle hints, and with the links provided it will be very easy for him or her to follow :-)

Here are few thoughts from me that might be little tempters. I will catch up with Dave over the next few days and get his suggestions for part 2 next week.

So with the ever upward files sizes being generated by the modern breed of cameras, card capacities and hard drives are being pushed so why not get some more memory cards or extra back up hard drives. I just got myself another 1TB drive. Both Dave and I are fans of Western Digital drives and Sandisk Extreme 111 cards as recording and storage mediums.

On the book front, I have often talked of the virtues of the following books as must haves for the wildlife enthusiast

Finally here are few suggestions for some must have bits of Canon kit for some of your close up work if you haven't already got them.

Next week, I will make sure I have covered some additional stuff you Nikon folk based on Dave's input.

Happy shopping, or lobbying your partners at least......... :-)


Wednesday 25 November 2009

The madness of B+H

So today i get a mail from B+H saying that they have the new 70-200 F2.8 VRII in stock-Great so i go online to order it, $2399.95 full list price which is fair enough as its a new product but then i see they want $20 for shipping which Adorama and others offer for free but don't currently have in stock, So i phone B+H and ask the salesman to waiver the shipping to match its competitors and i would order it then and there, i thought that this would be a no brainer but no, after the salesman checks i get a thumbs down and an arrogance as i am told that the lens will sell either way-They didn't get the sale, I don't need one that badly and as i have spent in excess of $20000 with them i would have expected to be treated better, This is the second time B+H have i feel treated me badly and i wont be dealing with them again, I did try to explain this to the sales guy but he put the phone down on me-Adorama have just got a new customer, I have dealt with them before and they have been very good

update-2 hrs later and i have ordered one from Amazon with free 2 day shipping-B+H what a bunch of bozo's-lost a good customer for $20


Getting lost in technology PT2

A few blogs ago when i was in NY i said about relying on the everyday gizmos that we take for granted-the laptop and GPS both giving me problems and leaving me stranded-well the bad luck seems to continue and the last few days my desk top has been locking up and blue screening-never a good time when these things happen-thank god that everything is double backed up, I use CA anti virus and a full system check has shown nothing untoward so last night a defrag in the hope that it will sort out the gremlins, Today it has taken 20 mins and 3 resets to get this far so i guess the Dell will have to go in for a check up as its under 2 years old-not a bad spec and i dont want to have to fork out for a new PC just yet
Thank god that its holiday time over here-thanks giving tomorrow and that means that my wife has a few days off so we can try to relax and drop in on a few places to check out for future wildlife visits
So i will make this a short one incase it crashes again and just say to all my American buddies a big happy holidays and to my Euro buddies-get back to work


EOS Network is back

After a few hosting problems EOS Network is back and with a facelift to boot


Tuesday 24 November 2009

News - A few wildlife stories

Here are few interesting stories that have caught my eye that I thought I would share with you.

Earlier this year, I posted a number of images of Painted Lady butterflies. It has been a bumper year this year, the like of which hasn't been seen for many years. Well here is a story about their migration.

While on the subject of butterflies, this story also got my attention as it is relatively local to me, and talks about the important work creating and managing habitat in Worcestershire. Hopefully this work will pay off next year.

Over at the RSPB site, this story makes for sad reading and follows on from earlier themes I mentioned before here around the random killings of birds of prey - this time it is the plight of Red Kites. Unfortunate situation as they are doing very well in certain areas.

Also check out today's Blue Peter - you will have to look at BBC i-Player by the time you read this. Sea Eagles from Mull, from were I have previously done a number of reports are featured. Although sadly not available for any blog readers from outside the UK. Blame the Beeb not me.

Looking at The Gloster Birder site, it seems like it is a good time to get to WWT Slimbridge at this time of year, with lots of interesting winter visitor arrivals.

If you hear of interesting stories, please let us know via the comments, we would like to hear what is going on in your part of the world.


Monday 23 November 2009


Following on from Martins post about the 7D it would seem that by reading various forums that the first cameras off of the production line had a few problems and you either got a good one or you got a duff one, Reports of AF problems seem to be sorted by the amount of people saying and showing that they are getting good results, By this i am talking about people taking birds in flight-a true test of an AF system, Photographers who shoot birds in flight on a regular basis need an AF system that is consistent-probably more than in any other form of photography, by this i mean a system that will grab the bird quickly and then keep that bird in focus no matter what the background, The Canon 1D MK3 was a nightmare for this especially when the light was not at its best, A couple of years ago a few of us went to Gigrin farm to shoot the Red Kites,the day was dark and miserable and everybody with a 1D3 struggled. i even stopped shooting. but people with the likes of Canons 5D mk1 or 40D had much better luck, The new 7D is getting some good press now for its AF although overly complicated once set up properly it is getting excellent results and holds its tracking, I haven't tested one but know some good photographers who have put it through its paces, like its AF you need to get the exposure bang on as any playing around in PS will soon bring grain out,Its all very similar to my D300-Excellent AF and my bird in flight camera of choice but if you don't get the exposure spot on even at low ISO you will end up with a grainy image, I used the D300 in New York last week when i was at Jamaica bay and shot a few hundred images of Geese flying over me and across the back of the pond where the background was very messy and a good test of a cameras tracking abilities, I knew the D300 would handle the situation well as i have used it many times in similar situations, One particular Canada goose flew back and forth along the far bank and every time the D300 locked on and tracked without the need to re find focus or pump the shutter button, For bird in flight photography you dont need all the bells and whistles but you do need a good AF system so keep this in mind if you are into that type of photography and are in the market for a new body

Sunday 22 November 2009

Views - Why is it that.......................

............whenever that you don't have your camera with you there are cracking frame filling pictures of wildlife that you have wanted to get?

Two recent examples for you in the last week.

Last Sunday I was out on my bike for a pleasant ride along the canal tow path towards Wootton Wawen from Stratford upon Avon when we found a couple of Kingfishers. The first one was on the opposite side of the canal would fly ahead of us and then rest up. The second one about a mile after the first one was much more accommodating, giving us views from directly opposite , about 8 metres away. Where was the 1D and 500 when I needed it most?

This morning walking back from the swimming pool after some early morning exercise, once again frame filling opportunities of Pied Wagtail, Crow and Wren - all of them happy with me stopping and watching them from close quarters. I guess if I had been there with my camera they wouldn't have been so helpful.

I need a pocket camera with at least a 500mm reach - shame they don't exist yet.


Saturday 21 November 2009

Powerex Battery Charger

This time last year i bought a Powerex MH-C801D battery charger from the store on the Naturescapes site, It seemed quite expensive at the time but looking at the powerex website it got great reviews from various magazines plus it had the bonus of charging 8 batteries at the same time fast,Its a very well made piece of kit and has a good clear display so you can see exactly whats going on, You have the choice of fast or slow charge as well as conditioning your battery by discharging them first and then recharging them fully, I have used flash alot this year and the charger has been great until a couple of months ago, I contacted Powerex and they instantly said that they would send a new one,however it started to work again until just before i went to NY and i noticed that the transformer rattled and the light would flicker on and off-obviously something loose giving and taking the connection away, I mailed Powerex again and when i returned from NY a new transformer was waiting for me and now all works well again, There were no questions asked by powerex and they didn't ask to send the old unit back to check first before sending one out-Great service and one reason for paying a premium for the equipment, If you are in the market for a good battery charger then this is one to take a serious look at, The 2700mAp batteries are excellent as well, I shot all day in NY on one set


Friday 20 November 2009

Reviews - 7D v 1Dmk3 test images

As I mentioned recently I got my hands on a Canon 7D for a short while. So I took my 1Dmk3, my Canon 70-200f2.8IS L lens, and the Canon 50mm f1.4 prime lens and did some back to backs.

All images were shot in RAW straight converted as shot with no changes, I have converted the profile to sRGB, and there is no sharpening applied. I was simply looking to make some noise test comparisons.

I have uploaded them all as small thumbs so click on them for a larger view. All images are cropped and I have represented them at actual pixel size, so you are seeing them at 100%. So the images do not make allowance for the different cropping factors, as you will see. 1.6 for the 7D and 1.3 for the 1D.

However, I have set out the last two images showing an equal amount of subject matter, both at 800pixels, so you can see the effects of subject size comparison. In each of the last two, I have added a little USM sharpening to represent an 'everyday' type image.

I was also happy that the light was poor, as this is a better test in my opinion of the conditions that us wildlifers have to work with.

1Dmk3, 50mm, ISO200

7D, 50mm, ISO200

1Dmk3, 50mm, ISO800

7D, 50mm, ISO800

1dmk3, 50mm, ISO1600

7D, 50mm, ISO1600

1Dmk3, 50mm, ISO3200

7D, 50mm, ISO3200

1dmk3, 75mm, ISO400

7D, 75mm, ISO400

1Dmk3, 85mm, ISO800

7D, 70mm, ISO 800

1Dmk3, 85mm, ISo1600

7D, 70mm, ISo1600

1Dmk3 ,85mm, ISO3200

7D, 70mm, ISo3200

So what do these uninspiring images tell us. Well the 7D is pretty good, or at least it looks that way to me when I look at the compete image and pixel peep at 100%

The ISO range that I chose are practical for most wildlife photographers. Higher ISO's while technically available are not where most of us need to spend most of the time....fortunately.

The noise at 3200 is very different between the two bodies, and marginally better on the 7D if anything. But so it should be as there is 30 months development time least between them

While I have been concerned about Canon's drive for more megapixels, based on my limited experience of the 50D, I wanted to do my own test with my own gear to make my mind up.

So am I convinced? Well based on this VERY limited test then I think the noise situation is pretty good.

I have not tested any other aspect of the 7D, so if I were ever to consider buying one of these I would look to do a much wider and more comprehensive test before spending the money.

In particular, I would want to check out the AF system.

The good news is that the price is coming downwards quite nicely now.

Update: It was £1299 a week ago with Jessops having the best price, now I see tonight that it is at £1190 from Jacobs.

So for those of you who paid out £1699 at launch I guess that must be a tough one, but this is normal par for the course pricing strategy, and one of the reasons I will not buy anything at launch prices anymore.

One thing you will need to think about if you are migrating from a 10mp body is cards and hard drive space. The file sizes are virtually double as RAW's, and in the region of 100+ mb as 16 bit TIF files.

I will let you make up your own minds on whether what I have done here and shared is of any value to you, but would welcome any comments.

Finally, a couple of direct comparisons as promised. At the same size, but obviously the 7D images has more pixels in it.

1dmk3, ISO800

7D, ISO800

Having said what I said above about the 7D noise, I prefer the 1D image at full size on this one.

If you are confused, then it is best to carry out your own tests to convince yourself.....or not


Update: Apologies, I forgot to acknowledge and credit my local Jessops here in Stratford upon Avon. Many thanks to the guys there for letting me have a quick play.

Thursday 19 November 2009

Getting lost in technology

It never pays to make plans as there is always something that will get in the way-In New York for me it was Technology, I drove up and used the sat nav as guidance, As soon as we hit the city it stopped working probably due to the high rise buildings stopping the signal getting through, Navigation around Manhattan is fairly easy as its numbered blocks but as soon as you leave the island you are on your own, The first time i went to Jamaica bay the sat nav worked on and off even though i was off of the island but Monday it made my life a misery, I left at 6am and had about 20 miles to travel, I made it off of the island without any signal but even then it would not pick any signal up so i did my best to get as lost as possible and after an hour i still has the Manhattan skyline in sight i decided that the best light was gone and i then had to try to get back which took an age but i somehow managed it-what a waste of time, So i get back to the hotel in times square and after an hour my PC crashed, What a day, So i had the day to fill so grabbed the D3 and 14-24 along with a flash gun and spent a few hours walking around and doing some stock shots, As the night drew in i set the flash to rear sync-push the flash button on the top left of the body and move the thumb dial around-then using AV i set the camera so it had a slowish shutter speed and went to town shooting anything that moved, Mainly taxi's,tuk tuk's and police on horseback and motorcycle, Very experimental stuff and lots of panning, I wasnt that bothered to get every shot in focus as some blurry stuff looked quite good as well, Not the type of photography i would normally do but enjoyable all the same, One thing i did notice in NY was that a lot of people carry their cameras around tourist fashion i.e around the neck in full view, The other thing was that as well as Canon and Nikon cameras there was also lots of Sony and some Pentax showing that they especially Sony are making inroads into the low-mid camera market


Wednesday 18 November 2009

Trip Report - Fungi in Warwickshire Part 2

As promised earlier in the week, here is part 2 of my fungi foray in Warwickshire.

All the images were taken with the same gear as the images posted here with the exception of the Sulphur Tufts.

For that image I used the Canon 50mm f1.4 lens - a cracking little lens and a good improvement over the plastic 1.8 version I also have. Although that lens is a must have in any Canon owners bag to be honest.

As I mentioned in the last post, I was a little late in getting out this year so some had gone over, but I enjoyed seeing the Sulphur Tufts this way, and I certainly like the shape of the unknown fungus. I need to do a little more id work on that one from my book - see link below if you want to get hold of a copy, it is a great book

Yellow Stagshorn

Unknown (at this time)

Sulphur Tufts
(a more unusual shot for me showing more of the environment)

Common Funnel

One of the problems I had on this trip was the extremely short life of the rechargeable batteries that I had been using. I bought these rechargeable Ni-mh AA 2800's some while ago, made sure they were fully charged before I went, but sadly they didn't last too long. So looks like I need to rethink my battery strategy. I have heard that the Lithium Energiser cells are meant to be pretty good, so will give them a test drive.

On the 7D test front, I will finish the processing of the images tonight, so come back in a couple of days to check out my findings.


Tuesday 17 November 2009

New York day 2

I am writing this on Monday evening as i will be up and out before dawn and probably will be out until dusk, Today i visited the camera mecca-BH Photovideo-for the first time, It would be like going to India and not visiting the Taj, Its actually on the same road as the Empire State building just a few blocks away, A large supermarket type shop, well set out in different sections, Photographic,video,telescopes etc and spread over 2 floors, The staff were very friendly and had time to have a chat and answer any questions, I didn't spend much and left with an optech strap for my D3, On the way there and back i did some street photography trying to get the feel of NY in an image, So yellow cabs going by with a low shutter speed was the order of the day, After lunch i headed off to Jamaica bay which is a well known birding place just out of Manhattan, Today its been very bright and the light was very harsh but there was an abundance of birds flying around so if nothing else it was good practice and i will go back early tomorrow and spend the day there


Monday 16 November 2009

A Walk in the Countryside - Counting the Birds

I took a trip out round one of my BTO tetrads yesterday for the winter bird count towards the next BTO Bird Atlas.

The walk is on my local patch and I can walk to it from my house. With a mix of various farmland, trees, hedgerows and a village, there is plenty of habitat.

I haven't yet uploaded the results, but there were certainly plenty top be seen with a number of Yellowhammer, plenty of Skylarks and a flock of 100 + Goldfinch, and a single Raven in the first of the timed hour counts, then in the second hour the highlights included numerous large flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing.

It was a beautiful morning, calm, warm and bright sunshine after the gales and rains of yesterday, it made for a marked and welcome contrast.

If you are interested in contributing to the BTO Bird Atlas, check out their website and find out your local coordinator to see what is available . It is an enjoyable walk in the countryside, armed with an OS map, a pair of binoculars and a digital voice recorder, which is easier than a pad and pen.


Sunday 15 November 2009

New York New York 1

We drove up to New Jersey and stayed with family last night, Had a few too many and didn't get to sleep until 2 am-a very long day, Today we moved into the city and i am at present in Times Square, We dropped our bags and out our tourists heads on and headed to the Empire State building, I haven't been here for about 20 years so it was nice to be back, First impressions of NY for any body who hasn't been is that its a very busy and dirty city-i am not a city person-and its roads are worse than India's, but photographic opportunities abound so i soon filled a 4 gb card and will be doing some night scenes again as we are right in the heart of it, I did manage to get some wildlife in as we had the company of some pigeons at the top of the empire state, Tomorrow i am heading to long island for some shore birds, I damaged my arm a few weeks ago and its still painful just shooting handheld with a wide angle so a 600 could be a problem-we will see tomorrow
For those of you thinking of coming to NY a couple of tips, Go to the 86th floor of the Empire state building and don't bother with the 102nd as its extra money and you have to shoot through glass and get your tickets at the desk and not the guys in the street who will tell you its an hours wait etc etc, there wasn't much of a queue and it was cheaper to buy from the desk, i shot with my D3 and 14-24 and you really do need a wide lens as everything is soo tall


Saturday 14 November 2009

Trip Report - Fungi in Warwickshire Part 1

OK don't fall off your chairs, I have been out using my camera.

I took a trip yesterday morning to one of my favourite fungi sites so thought it was time to share a few images as it has been a bit of a photo drought for me with one thing and another.

Fungi this year has been very late due to the dry autumn, but it has come out in abundance at my usual spot in probably the last couple of weeks, as there is a lot that is past it's best, but I managed to find some good specimens, which I will share today.

I got a few that were going over that I quite like that I will post in part 2 later in the week.

Among my favourite species are the Mycena group. It is not difficult to find lovely individual samples, but also fabulous family groups so here are some of each.

With two flash heads

Flash heads in slightly different locations giving better foreground lighting

Natural lighting

With two reflectors overhead and wide angle flash from above and too right

For all these shots, I used the 1Dmk3, Canon 180 f3.5L macro, live view, hanging from inverted centre post on tripod, self timer, STE-2 wireless flash trigger, and one or two Canon 580 flashheads, both with Stofen diffusers fitted.

Just wish I had got the two moss fronds sharp on the first two images - didn't pay enough attention to that critical elements.

Some different species and techniques in part 2, plus a short view on rechargeable flash batteries.


Views - Hands on with the 7D

I got my hands on a 7D yesterday for a brief go.

I took along my 1Dmk3 and shot some equivalent images on both cameras, at a range of ISO settings from 400 to 3200 in RAW.

Just processing and preparing them over this weekend, so if you want to see that and my subjective analysis drop by soon.

It certainly felt nice in the hand, although didn't like the lack of battery grip that is an integral part of the 1D.


Friday 13 November 2009

Nikon D3 repairs

After a couple of phone calls Nikon assured me that the D3 would be back with me by today-they kept their word and its just been delivered, I am off to New York tomorrow so really needed it, The camera has been given a service but there was a note saying that the cd error i have been getting with the second card slot could not be found so wasn't fixed, This is a bit of a pain as i know at some point it will have to go back,Thank god for 2 card slots, It seems that the cd error is not uncommon and a few people on forums have been getting the same, As long as you change the cards you can keep shooting so its not the end of the world and i have only had the problem a couple of times in a year but that's because i don't normally shoot enough to use the 2nd card slot, So now its time to clean all the gear and get it packed and ready for an early start tomorrow


Canon 1D4

Canon are being very pro active in getting their 1D4 owners up to speed by putting out a white paper on its latest and greatest before it hits the shops

White Paper

Also see the CPN 1D4 details


Thursday 12 November 2009

News - Camera Body Prices

Well it looks like a few of the new body releases are already starting to drop price at a reasonable pace.

A good site resource I have been using to benchmark prices for a few years now is Camerapricebuster here in the UK.

The Canon 7D is now down to £1299 at Jessops surprisingly, who are not usually known for their cutting edge prices, but fair play to the. Just exercise caution when considering memory cards there, as they have been pretty extortionate compared to some of the online offerings that are available.

The latest Nikon offerings of the 300s and 3s are also coming down well as can be sen there too. Certainly, at the current prices the D3s looks a much better option than that of the 1Dmk4, although comparison of those two are totally meaningless until they have decent circulation and availability.

Not that I am in the market for a new DSLR body, but considerate all part of our information service to you at no price to you :-)

Also just to add to Dave's post here on Phase One Capture One V5 Pro, there is also now the standard version available here for download, which is considerably cheaper than the Pro version. 30 day free trail available once you have registered.


Wednesday 11 November 2009

External hard drives

My hard drives are filling up quick so yesterday i decided it was time to go and get a bigger one, I use 3 so over a period of the next couple of months i will replace the others, When you go into a shop there is a bewildering array of different makes and models so which one to go for, I have used the maxtor/Lacie models before and have had 2 go down, I read various forums and at the moment it seems that Western Digital seem to be the most stable, I have used Western Digital for the last couple of years without problems (touch wood) so i have decided to stay with that particular brand, I browsed their range and decided to go for the 1.5TB Elite model, Its USB so simple to install and fast enough for my needs, It has software that allows for easy back up so i will give that a test and see how it performs, The price of drives have come down considerably over the last few years so there isn't a reason to have more than one back up, I would refrain from having too large a drive as there isn't any point of having a drive that will takes years to fill as the chances are that it will fail before that, I tend to change mine every 2 years max


Tuesday 10 November 2009

Answer to a Question - Canon 9500 Pro Printer

I recently received a question from 'Nitro Nori' by private message on one of the forums that I used to visit. I advised I would answer to the best of my ability here.

The Problem: The Orange light won't go out. (This light is the general error light)

Switching on and off wasn't working for him and there was no paper feed issue.

Now the only issue that I have experienced on both the 9500 printers I have used is this.

Occasionally, one of the ink tanks gets dislodged or appears to not seat properly in the head.

So opening up the front cover returns the head to the centre and you will be able to see which tank is dislodged and reseat.

On a couple of times, I have had to replace the tank to cure the problems. This is quite an annoying problem, as the logic loop that the printer goes through seems to take forever, which much movement and whirring of the head accompanied by teeth gnashing by me in my head.

Failing that, try a long switch off, reboot PC and switch on - but I reckon mpst people always get this.

Then your last port of call will be a call to Canon RCC at Elstree

Good luck and hope you get it sorted


Monday 9 November 2009

EOS Network Forum

The forum is at present experiencing a problem with the hosting and hopefully will soon be back on air, Dave is currently on his way to Morocco but has i believe things in hand


Winters a coming

The first of the winter migrants have started to arrive, The other day i noticed a dark eyed junco under my feeders and today there are about 20, Jays have been very common here for the last couple of weeks yet last year i didn't see one, I guess its time to start making preparations and get some nice perches set up and dust the hide off, I went to one of the local lakes here at the weekend and there were about 30 buffleheads-a sure sign that the nice weather will soon change and the winter thermals will be aired, For me the best time for wildlife photography in NC is the winter and a few trips to the coast will take place just after Xmas is out of the way for the snow geese and tundra swans also the possibility of a bear or 2


Sunday 8 November 2009

Software - Windows 7

Regular readers will know that I am a convert to my Samsung NC10 netbook.

This has been a fantastic little tool for me since I got it back in February. It goes literally everywhere with me, and providing I can get a Vodafone signal, I can hook up on line anywhere.

I gave my most recent presentation of my Mull Wildlife talk just this morning to the RPS Nature Group at the Chairmans Day, alongside two great speakers, Gianpiero Ferrari and Heather Angel, using the Netbook and Breezebrowser as my slide show software - another great bit of software that we have frequently recommended on this blog.

Anyway, I am sure it will not have escaped your notice that Windows 7 was launched last week, so I thought I would have a little look to see what is involved.

Firstly, if you are running Vista then it is an easy upgrade on top of your existing OS as you can just do a simopple run, as far as I am aware, but make sure you double check to be certain.

f you are using XP, then that's where your troubles start.

All the advice points to the following:

Back up all your files (well you should do that anyway - so no hardship there)

Then you do a clean install of the new OS.

Then, and here is the killer, reinstall all of your applications and files.

Well I don't know about you, but many of my apps are downloads, of various upgrades with discs all over the place.

I had thought about upgrading the netbook rather than my main desktop PC, which is now coming up to four years old. But on the basis of the above, plus the fact that XP is a pretty good stable platform and works least for me on the netbook, I am going to give it a miss.

It can wait until I get a new desktop, which will almost certainly be some time next year.

That way, the OS would have had a good few months user testing, and service pack updates, and I will be back to reinstalls of apps then.

So my verdict!! - I am sure it is very nice, but it can wait. Sorry if you thought I was going to review it for you but I am not in the habit of changing for changes sake, and I have spouted on often enough on this blog about choosing not to be the test bed for manufacturer's lack of thorough testing.


Saturday 7 November 2009

Processing-The Orton effect

I have tried to emulate the Orton effect before-back in the days of film and slide and in my early digital days, I never really had much luck and never managed to get the effect i had seen elsewhere, What is the Orton effect-well its mostly used on Landscapes, It gives a soft dreamy and sometimes 'old' effect, It makes your photograph look surreal and paintery, I dont or havent done many landscapes in the past but this year i have tried to do more and more as i said in a previous post, I came across a couple of articles on the web about the Orton effect and this week have been playing with some landscape images that i took in the mountains, Before it meant sandwiching 2 images together, 1 image bang on the money and the other image would be slightly defocused, Now with digital processing its much easier,
So firstly we open an image in photoshop and do the normal processing to it i.e levels,sat,curves etc then duplicate the image (image>duplicate) so that we are not working on the original now either save or close the original
Now we are working on the duplicate go to Image>Apply image and change the drop down in the blending box to screen with an opacity of 100%, This will give a bright over exposed image
Now duplicate this image-Image>Duplicate
On the duplicated image go to Filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur and set the slider between 15 and 50 pixels, You can play with this to get the desired effect, I like around the 40 pixel range, click OK and you will get a totally blurry image
Now with the move tool drag the blurry image on top of the other image and line the images up,
Now go to the layers palette and see the drop down box (bottom left of your screen) which will say normal and change this to multiply, The image will be immediately transformed
You can now if you need play around with the levels or highlight/shadow to get the finished image

Here is an image with normal processing

Here is the same image but HDR and slightly desaturated

And the same image HDR and Orton effect

Here is an image of a primitive early settlers house in the Smokey Mountains with Normal Processing

And the same image with the Orton effect

It may not be something that you would use everyday but its a very quick and easy way to turn a plain landscape in to a soft surreal image, I printed the old house image and now have it framed on my office wall and it looks great


Friday 6 November 2009

Views - Forums

I have been an avid user of some photographic forums over the past few years. They have been extremely educational for certain aspects, it has been good to get some decent critique on some images, made some good friends and had a few decent social and photographic outings.

But like many things they are only as good as the inputs into them, the comments and contributions from others Like all things dynamic, they have a natural life cycle or shelf life.

Dave and I met through the old EOS forum, and I am grateful for that, and we know that very many of the readers of this blog originate from contacts via the forums.

So to any regular readers who use the photographic forums that I have been on in the recent past, you won't be seeing any further contributions from me for the foreseeable future.

I have enjoyed and benefited in the past, but it is time to do other things photographically.

Nevertheless we would be happy to hear from you via the comments options on here if there is anything you want to say to us, and as long as it is clean and considered, then we will publish it.


Thursday 5 November 2009

Nikon D3s and 70-200 mk2

Rob Galbraith gets his hands on the New Nikon D3s and 70-200 F2.8 VR II, He says the newly designed 12 MP full frame sensor gives at least 1 stop over the D3-Sounds and looks impressive, Cant wait to get my hands on the 70-200, Hopefully by the end of Nov
More details here

Canon 7D firmware update

Canon are working hard and fast to get the 7D sorted, This firmware fixes the ghosting problem

Wednesday 4 November 2009

News - Barn Owl and Kestrel buddies

I was planning to do a Tips and Techniques myself for today, but Dave covered off one yesterday, so will save it for later in the week.

Regular readers know by now that I like to report on unusual and interesting wildlife stories.

It was while looking through one of my favourites sites that I found this story that I wanted to share with you.

Now I remember down at The Hawk Conservancy that the wild Barn Owls used the Kestrel boxes and the wild Kestrel used the Barn Owl box, but have never heard of this before.

While we are on Barn Owls, here is one I took a couple of years back. A captive bird in controlled conditions. About the first image that I took on my then new 70-200f2.8 IS L lens as I recall.


Tuesday 3 November 2009

Techniques-New York Nightscape

A few weeks ago i put an image up of New York at night and said that i would give some more details of how it was taken-so now is that time
I had been taken to the New Jersey side of the Hudson river by my wife's uncle and asked if we had time if i could come back and try and shoot the New York Skyline at night, A couple of evenings later we were back, The sun was starting to set and the warm light was reflecting off of the skyscrapers so i quickly set up-Trusty Gitzo 1548 extended to eye level with an Arca Swiss ball head and my Nikon D3 and 24-70 attached, I levelled the tripod and had a double bubble level in the cameras hot shoe so that everything was square and level-most important, I tightened the head down and just had the panning screw loosened so i could shoot right to left or left to right parallel to the opposite shoreline, I attached a remote release and set the camera to Manual mode at F11 (Nothing in the foreground so need for a smaller aperture) @ISO200 and made sure that the white balance wasn't on AWB, I normally have it set to daylight so left it at that, Using manual mode and not AWB is important as i was to shoot a series of images left to right and stitch them together, By using manual mode and having the white balance set all images will be the same and therefore will stitch together seamlessly, I looked through the view finder and panned the scene to determine where i wanted to start and finish , i then took a test shot and adjusted the exposure until i was happy with the histogram, This is where you need to understand what the histogram should look like as i would be shooting in the dark i would mainly have the histogram to the left with a small spike on the right which would be the lights in the buildings etc and very little in the way of mid tones, I started at dusk and caught the lovely reds in the buildings windows and then as time progressed and it got darker i kept an eye on the histogram and adjusted the exposure shooting 5 images across the scene for later processing, The images on the back of the camera looked great and by the time i finished shooting the exposure time was 10 seconds making the water in front of me nice and soft looking highlighting the lights from the buildings, This is the first time i had done this type of photography but like all other photographic work its not difficult as long as you set the camera up correct and understand what to look for on the histogram
I downloaded the images in breezebrowser and picked my favorite sets of five, 1 set at dusk and one at night and stitched them together in PTgui and then adjusted the levels and curves in PS4, Yesterday i popped in to my local camera shop and had the night time image printed out at 36'' wide and it looks stunning and is now framed, It caused quite a stir in the shop as people looked and asked how the image was taken


Monday 2 November 2009

From the archives - Short Eared Owls

It is just coming up to that time of year, next couple of months or so, that we can look forward to seeing Short Eared Owls again.

I have been lucky for the last two years to have a great hunting field within about 30 minutes drive from my home and so look forward to finding out where they will be this year.

It will depend on how the farmers have left their field through the winter, and whether the fields will support a sufficient vole population to feed them.

They are fantastic birds to watch as they quarter the fields, flapping their long wings, before suddenly folding the and stopping into the ling grass.

About the size of a Buzzard, they are often 'bombed' by a Buzzard or Raven, but as long as they get height then they are safe.

I had a fascinating time last year watch a much heavier Buzzard try to out climb the lighter Owl. They became small specks in my binoculars after a few minutes, before the Buzzard decided to give up the unequal struggle.

Anyway, here are a couple from two years ago, with thanks to my friend Robbie Brookes, currently living in the Shetland Isles who took me to this site for the first time.