In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog January 30th, 2010

Safari World II, A Second Take Review / Logitech Mx100 Cordless Laser Mouse

Morocco Hotel Guide
Flat Hotel Agadir
Ibis Moussafir Hotel Casablanca
Anfa Port Hotel Casablanca
Ibis Moussafir Casablanca City Center Hotel


Thank you for your generous contributions. We've been making some great headway over the last few weeks and soon I'll be running some test images. These test images take a considerable amount of time and computer processing power so once we start we won't be accepting any new images. Please send in your images now so you can be sure to be included in this great project. I have been plans for these mosaics.

We are still accepting (and pleading for) images of children from SEA. No matter how terrible you think they are, please send them in anyway. These images will be used to complete a set of 3 high quality mosaics which will be sold to benefit the Karen and Burmese Orphans living in the orphanages and refugee camps. The more images the better, I can use all you have. Please take the time to go through your images for anything you think might help. If you missed the "No Place to Call Home" special, you can click on the link and read more about this. Thank you! [email protected]


Quick Click Links

Feature Photograph Safari World, A Second Take Review, Logitech MX1100 Cordless Laser Mouse Photography News of Interest

Readers Submissions Readers Questions A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review Infocus Blog


Feature Photograph *menu

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 @F8 1/500th ISO 100

I've shared a few images from the Sanctuary of Truth in the Feature Photograph section before, but this time I wanted to look at this picture from another perspective. This picture is technically very good. Using a HDR (high dynamic range) process created by combining seven different images and exposures, this image is ideally exposed from the foreground to the background sky area. I've removed the distortion and the image is sharp and full of detail. This is a good image, much better than you'll normally see from this location, yet it's missing some key ingredients that truly make an image interesting. Can you see what they are?

This image is significant because of what you can't see, because of what's missing. What's missing is interesting light, structure, scaling anchors, and a focal point that draws the eye. This next image is from the same location, yet very different.

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 @F2 1/15th ISO 100

Oh my, I hope I have your attention now! Are your eyes pulled to each side of the column in the center? You can't go down both sides at the same time, so which side did you go down first? I'm guessing the right side. We're now inside the Sanctuary of Truth and we have all sorts of compositional elements that make this a very strong image.

Follow the light. You can see the light coming in from the rear of the frame and spreading out towards the front. Light also is coming in from the left, almost over your shoulder. See the curve of the patch in the lower right? The strong vertical pillars that serve as compositional structures? How about the person at the rear left of the frame for a scaling reference/anchor? Does the small size of the person give you an idea of how big this interior is? Most of all, can you 'feel' the difference in the light?

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 20mm F1.8 @F2.8 1/25th ISO 100

This image is another example of great light, a strong focal point, and compositional anchors. There is also some null/dead space at the top I could crop, the light coming in is far too bright, and I haven't processed for levels or corrected for exposure at all. Yet, the domed ceiling draws my eye right in. I'm hooked! I can crop out the to and sides and even correct for the strong light. Everything I do to this image should support the main focal point, wonderful light, and the structural composition.

The first example is and always will be a boring image that only shows you what the exterior looks light. Different lighting could help it a lot.. but not this day. The second image is a completed image that grabs you buy the eyeball and leads you all over, great light, strong composition.. it's a good image. And this last one promises potential in a huge way. Three images, three examples, three main points.

Safari World, A Second Take *menu

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F2.8 1/500th ISO 100

For those of you who live in Bangkok, or a big city like Bangkok, I'm sure there are times when the cement, noise, smells, and fast pace of this big city start to feel a bit heavy. Bangkok is one of the most exciting and interesting cities in the world, certainly in the top 10, yet sometimes too much of a good thing becomes.. too much.

It's times like these when I remember my small ranch in Oregon or any number of the many places in the countryside I've visited over the years. Sometimes I miss the quiet, the clean smells, and without question I miss most of all observing the wildlife in its natural settings.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F2.8 1/1250th ISO 100

On these mornings I grab my gear, drive through the McDonald's 'drive-thru' for some breakfast, and then drive the few kilometers toSafari World. Safari World is very accessible, a scant 15 minutes from my home. It's a place I can decide to go on a whim with little preparation. I grab a body with a fresh battery, the 300mm F2.8L II, the 1.4x teleconverter, and maybe if I'm feeling ambitious a second body with a wide angle zoom.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/640th ISO 100

At least once a month I'll spend a full morning on a Safari World therapy session. My breakfast is still warm as I roll through the ticket booth and showing them my local drivers license purchase a ticket at local rates. A few minutes later I leave Bangkok behind as I enter this semi-secret wildlife oasis. Gone are the sound of busy roads, gone are the street smells, gone is the rushed feeling of the big city. 15 minutes from my apartment I'm now in the countryside and wild animals are everywhere. Some roaming freely, some migrating and on their way to somewhere else in the region, and some of the dangerous big game animals tightly controlled but still not in conventional cages.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/1600th ISO 100

My world has changed, time no longer matters, and I can feel my heart rate slow and a special calm flows through my body. With the windows down I can hear and smell the animals and their environment. Taking a sip of my drink I unwrap my breakfast and sit back taking in what this special place is offering me on this day.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F2.8 1/2500th ISO 100

As you follow the road through Safari World the first area you come to is the wetlands with big bodies of water partially covered with moss and aquatic plants. Sea birds fly in from the ocean and surrounding areas hoping for a free breakfast and to enjoy what they must consider a 'spa-like' environment. Depending on the time of day and year there can be thousands of birds in this area. If you arrive early enough you'll see the Safari World crew drive through in the feeding truck dumping hundreds of kilos of fish and feed. The birds converge on the food and in mere minutes not a trace remains.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/500th ISO 100

When I say "sea birds" I'm talking about a huge variety of small and big birds. Every time I visit the birds are different and in visiting in different numbers. I spend a fair amount of time observing the differences. I'm long past shooting everything in sight. I've been here often enough to look for my shots. I want the best light, the best specimens, and I've perfected the necessary techniques to achieve dramatically sharp images. Critically focused images.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/500th ISO 100

I don't consider a shot a "keeper" unless its perfectly exposed and critically sharp. I want to be able to see the pattern in the iris of the eye, the fine feathers, and the small details that make an image interesting when printed large. To achieve these types of images you need to practice your best techniques. You need to take your time and ensure you do everything perfectly. The depth of field should be ideal, the light should come from the right direction, and the composition should be strong. Patience will reward you with a small number of solid critically sharp images which really help the animals stand out and be of interest to viewers.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F2.8 1/2500th ISO 100

This is a great place and if you look in the tree tops and other prime nesting areas you'll see the birds think so too. You'll see their nest and new family members and if you're patient enough you can witness their interactions few ever get to see. If you come often you'll come to know which birds are white when born, black when grown, and all the shades between. You'll learn what time of year certain species nest and you'll know what month, perhaps even which week, certain species will make their dramatic appearances as they fly in for their first visit of the season.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F2.8 1/500th ISO 100

The more you visit, the more this place offers. No two visits are the same. As I position the truck in an ideal position I'll notice several cars go slowly by. Sometimes you'll see tour buses. They all go by so quickly, never taking the time to 'see' what's on display. A bus goes by with 100 people and 100 small cameras. 1000's of pictures get taken in less than 3-4 minute and they're gone. No one saw anything and not a single picture worth printing. I want to stop the bus and go inside to explain what they're missing. I want to show them what I'm seeing, tell them which birds are new and which just hatched. But they aren't interested. They're not here for the same reasons I am. They're here for flashy signs and bright lights. They're here to be momentarily stimulated. I remember these feelings during my visits to the Getty Museums.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/500th ISO 100

Some of the bird species leave me speechless. Ugly beyond compare, yet beautiful in their own way. A mother stands guard over a baby only a few days old. The baby has a face only a mother could love. The pointy tongue of the baby looks prehistoric.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/500th ISO 100

In the tree above a common stork stands proudly guarding her hatchlings. I've already watched her change position with her mate as each took a turn eating when the food truck went through, with both regurgitating to feed the young. The entire process is pulled off with an almost military precision and a simple elegance.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/500th ISO 100

As the sun rises higher in the sky the birds will lift their wings to catch the warmth. Birds have a hollow bone structure which is part of their respiratory system and also helps carry warmth throughout their bodies.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/400th ISO 100

Not every bird can be beautiful. The world has it's share of ugly birds. Here the mother is vocalizing and the baby is doings its best to follow along. When the baby responds correctly the mother regurgitates and feeds the baby, and then they do it over again.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/400th ISO 100

Once tired the mother nuzzles her young to provide comfort and affection in much the same way more familiar species do. As the mother brings her head down and rests it on the baby, the baby relaxes and calms.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/500th ISO 100

Again, critical focus is key. This shot is critically focused (every shot in this section is exhibits critical focus), yet this crop is such a small part of the frame you can start to mistake pixelation for over-sharpening. On the other hand it's hard to separate the extremely rough skin and features of this species. The mothers beak appears to have decades of wear and a patina not unlike the buildup on an old boat hull. Nothing in nature equips these sea birds to ever be free/clean of salt water.. so I suppose a salt build up is considered perfectly natural. I wonder what they'd look like if bathed in fresh water every day? Crazy thoughts..

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/320th ISO 100

Leaving the birds area, which is a huge spacious area, I round a corner and find myself in the African plains area. Usually I'm not that interested in watching common deer species or the boring activities of these species, but the long lashes and textured nose of this one catches my attention. This doe's eyes are glassy sharp and you can see brilliant reflections in the lower halves. The detail on this large crop is stunning.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/250th ISO 250

Immediately adjacent to the African Plains animals is the high walled/fenced tiger and lion enclosure. The fences are a good ten meters tall and a employee watching from a tower pushes the button to open the motorized gate. I pull in and the gate closes behind me, and then another gate 10 meters ahead of me starts to open. They take no chances a tiger or lion will run out. And that's a good thing, as you look carefully at the fences you notice that on the other side, mere meters from the lions and tigers, is someone's back yard. Through the cracks I can see a children's play set and other toys. This is the same along the entire inner perimeter of Safari World. Wild animals on the inside, and human homes on the outside.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/320th ISO 320

In this area you'll see small open top Suzuki jeeps, white with black tiger stripes, and Safari World employees sitting there watching the animals. There are signs warning you the animals are dangerous and to keep the windows up. There are no windows and nothing but a canvas top on the Jeeps. I roll down the windows and poke the big white lens at the tigers ever mindful of how close my hand is to the power window toggle switch. It just wouldn't do to become lunch. The employees have conditioned the lions and tigers to keep well clear of the jeeps, often revving their loud engines to encourage the lions and tigers to move on to different activities, for instance when standing in the middle of the road peering into a tour bus.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/320th ISO 320

As I watch the tigers I capture them with the same techniques and care I use for the birds. A tigers face has a lot of detail and the images must be perfect. You should see the iris of the eyes perfectly, each whisker in focus, and each fiber of the fur clear and distinct. You want to imagine these images 4-5 feet in size and how every detail should be clear and distinct to catch viewer interest. With modern equipment and proper technique there's no reason you can't make life size prints that allow the viewer to see as much detail as if they were standing in front of the real thing. Anything else is just another picture.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F3.2 1/200th ISO 320

On some days you can catch the tiger feeding truck, where a lady wearing go-go boots and a tiger striped hot pants outfit inside a metal cage pushes large chunks of meat through the bars. I'm not joking, look through past columns and you'll find these pictures. On other days the tigers are splashing and swimming around having a great time, and on other days they're just laying there in the hot sun doing nothing. As I leave the tiger area I catch this guy watching my every move. His ears rotate and twitch when he hears the shutter trip.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/80th ISO 100

We're in bear country now! These bears appear to have a ton of room, until you realize that like tigers.. their natural habitat often has them protecting a personal space consisting of over 100km's. The bears have some bird friends.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/100th ISO 100

If you take the time to isolate the birds and get a bit closer the birds themselves become interesting. They're highly animated and their colorful yellow beak is ideally suited to picking the flies and other bugs off the fur of their favorite bear.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F3.2 1/320th ISO 100

I can't help but wonder who's in charge of grooming the bears. Of course no one is out there shampooing them and brushing their teeth.. but this guy needs his nails cut and trimmed.. :) I would have never thought there would be so much detail in a bears foot! Notice how coarse and long the hair on this foot is? Those nails are very thick and strong. I've watched them shred small logs. A swipe of one of these feet would open up a man in milliseconds.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/80th ISO 100

Another bear bird. I'm guessing there must be all sorts of flies and other insects on a bear to keep all these birds happy and coming back for more. It's time to leave the bear compound, it's the last major compound before you exit the park.

Canon 5d Mark II, 300mm F2.8L IS @F4 1/80th ISO 100

This bear roars and bit and rolls around on his back having a good time as I exit the bear compound and minutes later I'm back in the main parking lot.

I've shown you only a very small part of the Safari World attraction. There are hundreds if not thousands of species to see.. and the park is huge. It really is cut out of the surrounding neighborhood with normal Thai homes all around it. No space is wasted.

The serenity and beauty is now behind me, and the streets full of motorsai riders and noisy trucks greet me for the ride home. Sometimes the entire trip from my home and back takes as little as 90 minutes, other times I stay 6-7 hours. I love the mornings the best. If you've got a spare few hours and you want to "get away from it all", even if only for a few hours, Safari World just might be the perfect place for you. Check it out!

Review, Logitech MX1100 Cordless Laser Mouse *menu

Logitech MX1100 Cordless Laser Mouse

3 Years Ago..

When it comes to your image workstation I've always maintained that your input and output devices, the devices you use to interface with the workstation, are even more important than the workstation itself. What good is the state of the art workstation PC if you're viewing your images on a monitor not capable of displaying the entire color gamut? Or of your graphic tablet doesn't have the resolution to effect the desired changes? Or if your keyboard feels like much and it limits your typing speed? Human Interface devices (HID's) are the only thing between your mind and your workstation. We should always select the best such devices our budget allows.

Three years ago I upgraded my keyboard and mouse to wireless Logitech devices. Logitech is a trusted company with a great reputation and they've been around since the 8088. Not wanting to make a mistake, especially considering the price of top items, I read a lot of reviews and made my selection. I selected the diNovo Edge Keyboard (retail $199.00 USD) and the MX Revolution mouse (retail $129.00 USD). Despite a significant price hike over US prices I purchased both these items locally for two reasons. They were in stock for immediate use, and they would be covered under warranty and Logitech has a local warranty repair center. There's a huge advantage to being able to 'walk in' and walk out minutes later with an exchange product, vs. mailing it back to the states, mailing fees, duty/tax fees, shipping times, etc. Logitech has a 3 year warranty on their products so I knew for three years I'd be covered.

Logitech MX Revolution

I'm a heavy keyboard and mouse user. I've always wore these devices out in a matter of months before, and despite the top quality of Logitech prices I figured I'd go through a few in the warranty period and I did. So far they've replaced (without fuss or argument) the keyboard 3 times and the mouse over 10 times. Don't get me wrong, these were great products and I still love using them. It's just that if any little thing goes wrong with them, or wears one, I notice and I want them replaced. Logitech has taken care of me very well. I have not a single complaint. The Bangkok service center is both friendly and professional.

Last Week..

My MX Revolution mouse developed a small issue and I took it in for replacement as I'd been doing for years. Looking at the date sticker the representative reminded me my warranty had expired. However, his computer reminded him how many times I'd been in previously and he felt he should take care of me. He explained they no longer support the MX Revolution. It's been replaced in most countries by the new Logitech Performance Mouse MX with some great new features like a laser that lets it track on clear glass, a unifying receiver, and the best switches and feel available.

Logitech Performance Mouse MX

Unfortunately it's also the most expensive and none of the local Logitech dealers will carry it. I've tried for several months and not one of the many I've spoken with are interested. If I want the Logitech Performance Mouse MX I'll need to order it from the states and suffer through any warranty issues.

Logitech Performance Mouse MX

For now my service center representative said the best he can do is offer me the best mouse they do carry, the MX1100. It's "nearly" as good as the Performance Mouse MX feature wise, and with no other choice I thanked him and headed home with my new mouse.

Logitech MX1100 Cordless Laser Mouse

MX1100 Cordless Laser Mouse

Once home I unpacked the mouse from it's plastic armor and took a closer look at it. It's sides are covered with a very nice tactile feel ballistic rubber, and the top surface is a lightly textured paint cover. Each button is covered in the same soft ballistic rubber and LED's (light emitting diodes) show if the mouse is active and how much battery life is left. This mouse is molded in the same style as the MX Revolution and the Performance Mouse MX. These are large 'whole hand' mice designed for comfortable all day use.

Logitech MX1100 Cordless Laser Mouse

As you take in the ergonomically designed lines you'll see the scroll wheel is exactly where it should be, while the front toggle switch (outlined in orange) is a bit far forward for my small hand. The side 'forward back' buttons are perfectly placed.

Logitech MX1100 Cordless Laser Mouse

The ballistic rubber along the sides have small dimples for additional traction should your hands be unusually wet or slick for some reason. I can't help this feature is more for looks than necessary function. The button directly behind the scroll wheel enables the 'free-spin' or 'click-spin' feel.

Logitech MX1100 Cordless Laser Mouse

Features

One of the first things I noticed compared to the MX Revolution mouse is that the MX1100 takes a battery. The MX Revolution has rechargeable batteries and ever 3-4th day needs to be left in it's charging station for 3-4 hours to top off the batteries. In practice I think I'll prefer having a regular battery. I popped in the two 'included' Duracell AA's and the battery life meter tells me they're good for 284 days. As you use the mouse and the software learns your habits and for how long each day you work, this number of days will change. I learned with the MX Revolution that the rechargeable batteries were good for up to 4 days when the batteries/mouse was new, but after 7-8 months they would only hold a charge for half that time. And several times when I forgot to place the MX in the charger I was stuck with no mouse. Sticking in a new set of AA's every 7-8 months will be far preferable.

All the top Logitech mice have the "hyper-fast scrolling" wheel. If you navigate long web pages, long PDF's, or any sort of long document you'll soon love this feature. The included software allows you to customize the feel of this scroll wheel.

The mouse communicates to the PC via a USB 2.4gig dongle. I've used these for years and they're absolutely reliable. There is no issue with reliable use and communication.

The laser engine has an adjustable DPI! This is very welcome if you're a gamer, or if you work on images where sometimes you'll want to move fast through some images, and other times you want to slow down and add a bit of fine detail to your image. There is a "stealth thumb button" resting right under your thumb that can be set to toggle through the resolution choices.

Installation

Installation is a breeze. If you're using Windows Vista or Windows 7 you don't even need to install software unless you want to custom program button function. The standard Window's drivers will automatically sense your mouse and it will be instantly available.

Logitech provides a CD with it's Setpoint control software and I recommend you give it a try. The installation takes under 60 seconds and when finished you'll be able to define how each button and wheel on the mouse functions and what it controls.

SetPoint 4.8 Control Software

The tabs along the top let you select either your keyboard or your mouse or the tools page. See how the left click button is highlighted in red? Under "2." you can then select its function. Left click, right click, whatever.. and then you can move on to the next button and set it too.

Now I've selected the scroll wheel and under "2." its labeled the 'zoom' wheel. The scroll wheel is a triple function wheel. Press it all the way down and now you can "zoom" your browser pages in/out, or your images in/out. Just spinning the wheel allows you to scroll through your pages. Tilting the wheel to the right/left lets you scroll to the right/left.

I've set up the toggle switch on mine to control the volume output to my speakers.

My side buttons are set to "cruise" up and down a web page or document. If I don't want to spin the scroll wheel to move long distances I can simply hold the back/forward button down and it moves through the document at a convenient rate.

Clicking on the cursor tab allows me to set my pointer speed and acceleration. I can also enable "smart move" so the cursor automatically moves to the next "yes/no" in the event a dialogue box appears.

If you're a gamer you'll appreciate the "Game Detection" feature. The control software will sense when a game becomes active and then apply certain settings which are great for games, but not desirable otherwise.

The next tab down allows you to set your zoom speed and acceleration. Notice that all these windows have "Select Program" available? Not only can you custom set all the buttons, but you can set them differently for each individual program!

One more tab down and we're able to set up how the scroll wheel feels. I think this is a great feature, custom setting each button for each program makes you feel like this mouse was made especially for you.

The very bottom tab shows you how many days (or you can set it to percentage) are left on your batteries. It looks like I have eight months remaining on mine!

How Does it Work?

This is a great mouse! It fits my hand like it was custom made for it, and the tactile feel of the surfaces are both very comfortable and easy to clean. My only complaint is that the feel of the switches and wheels are 'a bit' less in quality than the top of the line MX Revolution mouse it replaced and probably less than the Logitech Performance Mouse MX as well.

It's really nice being able to custom set each button and wheel. It will take you a few days to experiment and see how you want everything set up, but once you become a Logitech user you'll be able to do this in mere minutes.

A Driver Issue

I had a driver installation issue with my workstation. It took me a few hours to sort it out, but in the end I found out the new mouse driver didn't play well with my video card driver. The mouse would "hang" and "stutter" and this is totally unacceptable. I called their customer service and within 2-3 minutes was talking to a knowledgeable technician who guided me through some testing and helped me determine the problem wasn't with their mouse or their mouse driver. Having heard manufacturers tell me this before, especially right after I installed their new product, has had me rolling my eyes.

However, I did listen to his recommendations and after hanging up I started disabling driver after driver to see when the issue went away. The second driver I disabled was my video driver and the problem cleared itself. Enabling the video driver made the problem come back. From there it was simply a matter of going through the video driver and trying settings to see what was messing with the mouse driver. I found it and after checking the Nvidia site learned it's a bug they're aware of and it will be fixed in the next release.

Conclusion

This is a good mouse and the price was right. I like getting stuff for free. The support tech even extended my warranty for another full three years. Everything is high quality and works as it should. I think for most users this mouse would be more than they'd ever expect.

Because I spend a lot of time doing fine detail work I think I'll go ahead and order the Logitech Performance Mouse MX from the states. Based on my experience with the MX Revolution I think it will be marginally better, but with all the time I spend on the computer even marginal improvements are very welcome.

Logitech Performance Mouse MX

One nice thing is that the MX1100 and the Performance Mouse MX have their buttons and wheels in exactly the same locations. I'll be able to go back and forth between these two mice with relative ease should a warranty issue require me sending the Performance Mouse back to the states.

Logitech Performance Mouse MX

Solid weighted feel, great tactile feel, quality buttons and wheels, and great software. There isn't much more you could want in a mouse. I can't tell you how much it is locally, but I can tell you the MX Revolution was baht 3800 so this should be less. If you need a quality mouse, and who doesn't, the MX1100 is a great choice!

Photography News of Interest *menu

The Canon 1d Mark IV has only been out a few weeks and is receiving great reviews. It competes directly with the Nikon D3s and it does this well. Canon isn't going to rest on its laurels long with their flagship sports and journalism camera though and this recent announcement confirming upcoming firmware upgrades to improve the already great autofocus is proof of that. You can read their notice here.

One of the lenses missing from the Micro 4/3's lineup is a decent wide angle. Now, Cosina announces their Voigtlander Heliar 12mm F5.6 "ultra " wide angle. I hesitate to use the "ultra' tag considering that with the 2x multiplier of the 4/3's sensor this lens is only 24mm (35mm equiv). Still, it's a decent lens and if you read Japanese you can read more about it here.

As a photographer with your own studio/business, should you be able to refuse to serve any customer you want for any reason? How about because they were gay? A New Mexico wedding photographer refused to serve a gay couple and has lost her anti-discrimination appeal. I've been following this case for a long time and I'm convinced even passingly decent people skills could have made both parties feel okay about her not taking their contract. If anyone is interested I'll write a separate blog entry on how to handle such and like situations where for whatever reason you just don't want to take a job.

Interesting Facts of Female Photography. This article assumes everyone 'at least once' wants to be on the cover or a major magazine. Really? This photographer is laboring under the assumption that women are the holy grail of photographic subjects. Sometimes rambles like this can be amusing.

In our current days of "must fill the page" journalism we often have the "10 best" or "10 worst" features stuck in our eye. "The Ten Best Taco Joints in Los Angeles" or some such article they think we're interested in (Tito's and Gallego Bros are the best btw). However, this "Ten Great Cities for Photography" caught my eye and I couldn't help but take a gander to see how their choices lined up with mine. I've been to six of these cities, how about you?

Readers Submissions *menu

Steve –

All this pic took place in BAGAN.

Eyal

And some more from BAGAN.

my driver .btw the horse have number license

pic- the pyramid

Eyal –

Thank you for the submissions. You've sent a large number and I'll run them in the coming weeks. We don't get many images from this area so I'm sure these will generate a lot of interest. Thank you!

Steve

I suspect the readers submissions will be a highly anticipated section of this column and I encourage anyone with photographs and travel accounts they'd like to share to please send them to me at: [email protected]

Readers Questions *menu

Steve

I guess this is your night.

You mention the new d300s Nikon

There are so many models available that I get a headache trying to see the difference.

Why is the 300s better than my D90?

Hell – I can't even run the SB900 flash !! A computer of its own .


Regards,

Bart

Bart –

The D300 or D300(s) (the 's' adds video capability which you might find advantageous once you get used to using it) is a very different camera than your others. I can list a bunch of specs.. but it is probably better to just tell you the D300 is a much "faster" DSLR, more weather resistant, and capable of providing the user with more shots in more difficult circumstances.

By "faster" I mean every part of the camera, from a faster autofocus to a faster frame rate to faster saves to the memory card. It's also much faster in review mode. This speed allows you to follow more action and get more shots where it counts.

The weather sealing is very important to someone doing outdoor events. The D300 is very well sealed and can safely operate in conditions (providing the lens is also sealed) which the D90 would malfunction and die.

The autofocus systems, exposure systems, and even the bigger brighter viewfinder will all contribute to getting more keepers when you work the fringes.

Really, the D300 is as close to a professional camera as you're likely to get for a consumer camera price. It's really a winner.

There is a caveat though. As much as I like the D300, and I've used one several times, it's still a APC-S crop sensor which means it multiples your focal length by 1.5x. A 100mm lens becomes a 150mm lens.

For not much more the D700 is available. The D700 is everything the D300 is, but with a full frame sensor. This is a huge step up in image quality, lets your lenses work at their native focal lengths, and you won't believe the differences when working in marginal or low light. If you can at all afford a D700..

Also keep in mind that many Nikon soothsayers are predicting a D700x to be announced soon. The D700 as you know is a full frame 12mp camera, just as the D3 is. Now Nikon brought out the D3x which is essentially the D3 with a new 24mp full frame sensor. The D700x will follow suit and provide a sub $3000 DSLR with a 24mp full frame sensor which will compete well with Canon's 5d Mark II (21mp full frame for about $2600) and Sony's A850 (24mp full frame for $2900)..

I hope this answers your question.. though I'm guessing it raises even more.

Take care

Steve

Hey

Thanks for all that.

You sure know a lot about cameras.

Your tech reviews are really beyond me.

My D90 does have movie mode – though I have never used it.

I don't care for the live monitor function either.

I am not sure the rest of the features would add to my needs.

I like the way you list them though – not as stats only but practical uses.

Maybe someday – if I get a big assignment that would pay for it.

Appreciated.

Bart

Art –

The D300 might be available at a deep discount with the new D300s hitting the streets. If you don't care for the video this might be a good upgrade for you.

You'd have to use the camera to appreciate all the differences. In California a photo store chain called Samy's rents cameras and lenses. It might be worth a rental fee to check one out.

Steve

Hello Steve,

I just got married and the photographer who we used uses a canon DSLR and all the files look like this IMG_6965.CR2.

Can you advise me on what program I could use to convert these files into a common format so that my picture browsers can see them.

I use ACDSee 10 and I can see all my raw files taken with my Nikon D80. But not his Cannon photos.

Thank you.
Charles

PS here are just a couple of photos from my Wedding Day.

Charles –

I shudder to think what kind of "wedding photographer" would give you the files, much less turn over raw files to a customer as the main files. Please don't use this guy for your next wedding.

There are many programs that will do the job including ACDsee 10.. you'll probably just need to install the right profile from the ACDsee website. If that fails, download a trial copy of Lightroom (the program I've been recommending to you all along) which will give you a free 30 days to adjust and then convert your files to .tif's or .jpegs.

Let me know how this works out for you.

Congratulations on the wedding!

Steve

Please submit your questions to [email protected] All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.

A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review *menu

This has been a slow month. I've used this slow time to work on some reviews and to upgrade core components on my main workstation while going over each mobile workstation making sure upgrades are completed and the tedious maintenance is finished.

I've also been ensuring my backup strategy is sound and have upgraded my NAS devices with new drives and copied my data back to the drives.

It's these sort of small tasks which in practice take loads of time. Because its so tedious and time consuming we often take shortcuts or fail to do the maintenance all together. Not me. I'm already learned the hard way that eventually poor practices catch up with you.

Workshop Bookings:

These last few months have been slow but things are picking up. I'm already taking booking for February and March and I thought I'd post the dates already booked (which leaves all other dates open) in the event you're planning to take a workshop with me during your time in Thailand but haven't yet got around to contacting me and reserving a slot.

Feb 8,9, 14,15,16,17,18 25,26,27

Shoot me an email, I'd love to hear from you!

Infocus Blog *menu

Work Permits And The Photographer

Stick forwarded this link and thought it might be worth talking about. I read this article carefully and then did some research and discovered this subject is being raised in more countries than New Zealand. Frankly it disturbs me .

The Why

It's not unusual during touch economic times for local and state governments to enact laws of protectionism, often pushed through by your political representative urged on my the competing businesses.

The scenario is easy to understand. Local New Zealand photographers notice that tourists to New Zealand, people who are visiting New Zealand in this case to become married, are often bringing their own photographers with them from their home countries.

Discovery of Fact

I've traveled to other countries for regular customers because they knew and were comfortable with my work and didn't want the hassle or uncertainty of a local hire, even if it costs them a great deal more vs. a local hire. The truth is I've flown to many countries on a tourist visa with my primary purpose not being tourism, but to perform photographic services for clients.

The Requirements

Now, more and more, countries are demanding you apply and pay for a work permit in such cases. Work permits almost always take much longer and are more costly, not to mention they're uncertain. You never know if you'll get one or not. Then there are the "requirements" which can range from simple things like health and accident insurance, to approved legal contracts, and sometimes even the need to hire so many locals.

A simple 2-3 days job has now turned into a major production and the overhead costs go through the roof. This is what the local photographers want. They want to make it so difficult and expensive if not impossible, thereby forcing the party needing photographic services to use local services.

Does This Law Concern More Than Photographers?

If you're thinking it's okay to do this to photographers you should know that such laws are usually not profession specific. Such laws will probably require anyone entering the country for the primary purpose of working.. to meet the same requirements.

Anyone even remotely familiar with the business world knows a good sized percentage of passengers on every plane landing in the international airports are there for business. They're entering the country on tourist visa's for small periods of time to perform a duty or service related to their work. Bankers, journalists, salespeople, Information Technology professionals, medical workers, aid workers, lobbyists for major corporations, CEO's, board members, and as you can quickly see the list is very long and never ending.

If you require all these people to obtain 'work permits' in advance of travel you'll find many of these professionals not bothering and taking their business elsewhere. They'll take their business to a more business friendly country.

Unintended Consequences

Here's the deal. In effect you have a group representing the interest of one profession, in this case the local photography union or whatever their rep group is. They lobby their politician and push through a law requiring work permits. These laws very rarely target a single profession, instead they blanket cover anyone who meets a broad definition of purpose and time in country. It sounds like the local photographers won round one. They've succeeded in keeping out those pesky Asian competitors.

However, now those charged with enforcing the laws find a very sizeable number of business professionals on every arriving flight also need a work permit. The administrative costs become enormous, the political fallout at diplomatic levels extreme, and if the law stays then their economy takes major hits as people ly to other countries to do their business instead of yours.

How Can We Prevent This?

We're supposed to be able to count on our local politicians for common sense. And sometimes commonsense includes telling certain self-interest groups no.

I've known several photographers who have come to Thailand on tourist visas to perform professional duties. Payment for these services takes place outside of Thailand. They fly in, do their job, and fly out. No one is the wiser. No one at immigration is checking their bags for cameras. If they can do the job within the time constraints of a tourist visa and be responsible for their own medical and other insurances then there are no problems.

I've know many more, myself included, who fly into other countries to shoot weddings, a factory, cover an event, or as a journalist. And these are just photographers. It's unfathomable how many are here for other types of business.

We Also Buy Goods and Services

And lets not forget that while we're here/there working, we're contributing to the economy. Hotels, rental cars, local talent hires, supplies, equipment, and more. Or that the reason you're there is because you speak your clients language or know their business specifics.

Summary

I think this new law in New Zealand is bad for everyone involved, other than a handful of local photographers who have no idea how badly they're hurting their country. This new law is ill conceived and is sure to cause more problems every day it's enforced.

There is much to consider with this law and how it might affect every business traveler. The more I think about it, the more I can think of that exposes the flaws and pitfalls. I encourage you to resist passing such laws. Sure, if a photographer is coming to your country to work for a significant period of time they should be subject to the same laws any other foreign worker is subjected to. But if they're only there to work for a single day, or a few days, then ask yourself how many other professionals fall under the same law.

Until Next Time..