Blog - Equipment

An Unexpected Request
26th November 2017
When we travel to different countries, I always endeavor to respect their culture and wishes. I feel that as foreigners in their country we are ambassadors and, and such, our behavior reflects upon us and our country.

But there are times when I wonder about their requests.

Not too long ago while traveling in Switzerland, we had lunch in a small cafe then decided to walk around and look at the stores. We saw a gallery that was featuring a German artist and decided to go inside. After looking around, we decided to forego going upstairs and headed towards the door. A lady approached us and mentioned that there were more paintings on the above floor. Before we could thank her and say that we were leaving, she asked us to take our backpacks off and carry them in front of us.

What?

She went on to say that, with everything going on in the world, people would feel better if we carried them. While her explanation made no sense to us, we explained to her that we were just leaving anyway, wished them luck with the exhibition and walked out the front door.

While I'm sure she thought her reason made sense, it really didn't to me. We were carrying my camera equipment in our backpacks, which I would have gladly shown her had she asked. I understand that given the times that we live in, seeing what we are carrying would put them at ease...and I have done it before.

The rest of the day, I paid particular attention to people as we strolled by with our backpacks. No one looked warily at us, or shied away. Since we were talking a mixture of German and English, they could easily figure out that we were tourists.

But I do wonder how many other people visiting the gallery - if any - she asked to do the same.
Rain Protection for Your Camera
04th July 2017
Did you ever listen to the weather report, which says sunny weather, and think "what a great day to go out and shoot"? You gather your equipment, hit the road and, bang, the dark clouds come out of nowhere and the rain starts. And there's some times I think
that the dark clouds follow me!

I figure since I can't control the weather, I should do what I can to protect my equipment. After looking around, I came up with a few solutions.

1. Carry an umbrella. I always take one with but juggling a camera and an umbrella is not easy. I tried that at a waterfall that I wanted to shoot and it didn't work very well. It was cumbersome to try to juggle both and many of my shots came out blurry.

2. A plastic bag. They're cheap and don't take up much space in your camera bag. Throw it over the lens, securing it with a rubber band. Poke a hole for the lens and viewfinder and you're good to go. It's cheap and works in a pinch.

3. A shower cap. On my last vacation I grabbed the ones from my hotel room and stuck them in my camera bag. They're large enough to go over my camera and lens in an emergency and can be thrown out afterwards.

4. A rain jacket. Companies like Op-Tech and Ewa Marine make multiple use camera protection jackets. I purchased several sizes of the Op-Tech raincoats at the last Photokina. They go on quickly, with a draw string for the lens cover and hole for the
viewfinder. It can take time to find the viewfinder hole - especially when you have to put it on quickly in a rain shower - but they work nicely. I've used them while photographing waterfalls and they've worked great.

I purchased a Ewa Marine U-B100 on Ebay recently. It's a bit bulkier than the plastic rain jackets (and comes in a carrying case) but it does provide good protection, especially when you're at the beach. It's great if you just want to use one lens; changing lenses necessitates removing the camera from the bag.

I'm sure there are other choices out there but these were just a few that I came up with. And, with me photographing waterfalls on my last two vacations, I found for quick lens changes and good general protection, the Op-Tech did the job well.
A Tale of Caution: 123-Kamera.com
04th March 2015
In the market for a Nikon D750 and lens, we started looking first at my husband's distributors, then at online shops since we live out in the country and have no stores in our area. We checked out 123-Kamera.com: their prices were good, the camera and lens were in stock and would be delivered in 3-5 days...so they said.

They lied.

Three weeks later, they were still stalling the delivery claiming that the Nikon recall affected their supplies. They finally, when put under a deadline, delivered a Nikon D750 and lens. Unfortunately, it was one of the recalled ones for the reflection issue. Another camera arrived the next day by FedEx from their partner - in England. The box was not the usual Nikon box; there was no guarantee card for the camera and the lens guarantee card was in Chinese. Smelling a rat, we contacted Nikon Germany. They called back, confirming my suspicion that it was a gray market product and that Nikon Germany could not service it under warranty.

When my husband asked if I wanted to give them one more chance, my answer was a resounding "NO". When confronted with the evidence, they claimed that the gray market camera was sent in error...right. My bullsh$t meter went off the scale with that one, I'm afraid. Having nothing on their website that they were selling gray market equipment and not informing the customer that they are purchasing gray market equipment is illegal here. We prepared ourselves in the event that we would have to turn everything over to our lawyer but the company quickly agreed to not only pick up the equipment but to refund the money.

My take on the whole situation was a wasted and aggravating three weeks and a company that certainly won't last long in the business using those types of selling tactics. I noticed on their feedback that there were a few people who had purchased the D750 camera. I am hoping that they and others will see the feedback we will leave mentioning the gray market equipment and check theirs to make sure they purchased one that can be properly serviced, should it need it. Otherwise, they might be in for a shock should have to send it to Nikon Germany.

My last word is to run, not walk away from purchasing anything from them.

Since we believe in supporting the smaller mom and pop stores, I found one in Ravensburg that not only has an online store but a brick and mortar store. After a phone call to confirm that the Nikon's they have are not ones that are affected, we ordered not only the D750 but two lenses. Hopefully, this won't take another three weeks...

ETA: We ordered the photo equipment from Foto Bantle (http://www.fotobantle.de/) on Wednesday and transferred the money to their account immediately. The package went out Friday and I received it on Monday by GLS. Everything is perfect; the cammera has not been affected by the reflection issue and everything has EU warranties - plus, we have a three year warranty with the shop. THAT is how a business should be run.

A week later and we're still waiting on the money to be returned to our account from 123-kamera.com. After emails and intervention from Trusted Shops, the money was returned.
And We're Live
17th January 2015
I have been with another hoster, Zenfolio, for almost six years now. I have had few issues with them, but nothing that made me want to change...until I happen to notice an upswing in the user forum of other photographers who were noticing that their images weren't showing up on Google search.

My site had been consistently ranked on the first page of Google search so I erroneously thought that my images would also be indexed. I was wrong. Only a few photos - mostly from my blog - were indexed. I had close to 1,000 photos on my site and only three or four had been picked up by Google. Something was really wrong.

For a photographer who relies on potential customers finding their site via Google (and other search engines), this could be a killer. No concrete answer from the hoster was forthcoming. I can only guess that something was blocking the sites from Google, but the true answer will never be known.

So, my New Years resolution was to make a change. After a month long search, I landed on Photium. For someone who loves the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), it was right up my alley.

So here I am...

As spring rolls around, hubby and I will be taking off again and making our long weekend journeys around Germany. Not only will I be making photos with my infrared camera but a new addition to my bag - a Nikon D750 with a few new full format lenses. Like a kid with a new toy, I'm excitedly awaiting ordering it next week...and also taking delivery!

So, a new website, new hoster and new camera equipment...here's to a wonderful start to 2015!!