Tuesday, November 25, 2008


These are a few shots from this fall. The first shot is from Dolly Sods in West Virginia and the lsecond photo is from Clark State Forest north of Henryville, Indiana.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


What turned up on my front porch this morning? My D200, freshly repaired and refurbished, from Nikon. I appreciate that it returned so quickly, but according to the guy at Nikon repair, yesterday, it wasn't supposed to ship for another 48 hours. However the Nikon repair status web page shows that the camera shipped 9/16/08. So, surprise, surprise! So far I have what appears to be on the surface a brand new D200. In addition to replacing the shattered LCD and repairing internal damage, Nikon replaced the rubber grips and several other seals. It appears that they also cleaned the sensor, but I have some small debris on the mirror or pentaprism that I did not notice before. Some spots on the sensor that were there before appear to have been removed. However, there is a persistent piece of debris that shows in the top right corner of the frame as a sort of jagged crescent that I did not see in any previous photos. This piece of debris appears to be welded to the filter that sits in front of the sensor. I guess the best way to deal with dirty sensors is to do it yourself, but I'm going to consult with a local camera repair first. To sum up; camera was shipped to Nikon 9/2/08. Nikon received camera 9/4/08. Camera repaired by 9/16/08 and returned to me on 9/17/08. I rate the communication problems with Nikon as minor and slightly irritating. I appreciate the speed of the repair process and the extensive replacement of seals and gaskets and the rubber grip. I am disturbed by the debris on the sensor. on a scale of 1-5 I give them a 3.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


“All human wisdom is summed up in two words - wait and hope” Alexandre Dumas Père.

With no additional word from Nikon,on my D200, I contacted their repair service via phone today. A service representative answered quickly and informed that my camera was repaired and forwarded to quality control today. According to the service rep, it should complete the quality check process and ship approximately 48 hours later.

Trumpeter Swan Seney NWR Michigan

Saturday, September 13, 2008

In The Shop

I checked on my D200 at the Nikon Repair web site. My camera is now listed as "In shop" which means that the camera is in the process of being repaired. Could I have my camera repaired and returned by this time next week? Stay tuned.

Sunrise Seney NWR

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Still Waiting

Please note the link to Thom Hogan's excellent site http://www.bythom.com/ This site does tend toward Nikon shooters, but there is some excellent information that would be beneficial to most photographers. Upon completion of the repair of my D200, I will post my experiences with Nikon Repair at http://www.bythom.com/experiencesrepair.htm Thom Hogan started this posting apparently due to concerns about Nikon repair experiences.

Thus, far Nikon repair reports that my D200 as; estimate accepted, on 9/9/08. Nikon's service repair rank is B2. According to the Nikon Service Status Check web page B2 means a moderate repair wityh major parts replaced. The problem according to Nikon is described as a broken display, clean and check. This is consitent with my evaluation and request for service. One caveat though is the information box on the Repair Status page, that reveals the message "If Parts Available," with the explanation, "Depending on the age of the product, some orders will display this message when replacement parts are limited." Does this mean parts are not available, back ordered, will there be a delay in the repair, or what? The information is not specific enough. I will contact Nikon repair on Monday, 9/15/08, unless there is a change in status. In the mean time, no camera, no photography.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


This photo was taken 4/14/08 in a little valley outside Townsend, Tennessee, near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Note the Dogwood blooming on the right and the snow on the mountains in the background. Mid-April is the time to be in the Smokies and the surrounding area. Sometime in the near future I will post a guide for photographers who want to explore this area in the spring.


I've been busy with other concerns for the most part, but still missing my camera. If you read my previous post, the Nikon Repair facility in Melville, New York was supposed to contact me by Thursday 9/11/08, and inform me of the status of my D200 shipped on 9/2/08. Nikon received the camera 9/4/08. Today I received an email from Nikon with an estimate for repairs totaling $224.50 which includes tax and shipping. I immediately responded and approved the estimate. I will try to post on Friday 9/12/08 to document the progress on this matter. So far Nikon repair has done well by me.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Update on Nikon repair process

Nikon received my D200 via UPS yesterday, 9/4/08. Since I have not received verification of their receipt of the camera and being a neophyte with regard to Nikon repair I decided to contact their repair facility via phone. After navigating through a couple of levels of "press 1 for technical support or press 2 for repairs." I finally entered "5, to speak to a service representative," and took a deep breath, prepared for a long wait, I was surprised when a service representative immediately answered and provided answers to all my questions. He explained, with a definitive, but understandable accent, that there was a "system delay" and normal notification of receipt of products for repair was not working properly. He confirmed receipt of my camera by Nikon and promised I would receive an e-mail by next Thursday (9/11/08) confirming receipt, and providing a tracking number to use with their on-line system. Further, he promised I would receive my repaired camera by 10/4/08. So far, this has been a pretty painless experience.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Disaster and the D200

L to R: Rick Nevels, Don S. sitting Rick L.

On a recent trip to Michigan's Upper Peninsula I had the privilege to shoot in beautiful and interesting surroundings with two good friends (Canon shooters nonetheless, see we all really can  get along) for ten fantastic days. Despite the mosquito swarms which lasted for approximately an hour each AM and regularly ran us into our tents each PM, we had a great time and captured some beautiful images. However, on 8/29/08 at 8:04:59 AM I took what may end up being the last image ever taken with my beloved D200. The D200 is a substantial, well built camera, my first DSLR, that I have taken many images with. If I were to replace it with a newer model, I would want to keep it. Not only are the images it produces impressive, but the handling characteristics and ergonomics make it a joy to use. The spider web photo below was taken at the time listed above just before my D200 was seriously damaged.

I was shooting with a MF 200mm f4 Nikon macro lens, a lens I have written about before on this blog, a lens that is renown for it's contrast and sharpness, and works on the Nikon D100 - 300 and D1 -D3 series cameras. The camera and lens were attached to the tripod via the Arca-Swiss screw release on an Arca-Swiss Arca-Swiss Monoball Z1 Single Pan Ballhead to the lens mount and a custom Kirk plate on the Nikon 200mm f4. In attempting to readjust my tripod for another shot the quick release allowed the camera and lens to slide backwards out of the mount. The back of the D200 took the brunt of impact resulting in a badly damaged lcd (see photo below). Initially, the on/off switch on the camera did not work, but then I was able to shut down the camera. I then attempted to turn the camera back on, but to no avail. I placed the camera and lens in a plastic bag, due to the shattered glass, and placed it in my camera bag. I could not bear to look at it further. Without a backup camera body, my Canon shooting buddies graciously loaned me Canon cameras and beautiful L series lenses (see we all really can get along) to photograph with for the remainder of our trip.

Upon returning home, I opened up the plastic bag and looked at my camera. After further examination and a new battery I discovered the camera was operable, after all. Amazingly the camera still produces an image, autofocus, and metering still works. Autofocus modes work, but the multi selector on the back of the camera does not work, hence auto focus points cannot be manipulated and all other functions dependent upon the multi-selector are inoperable. However, the camera still takes a reasonable image. (Below)

Returning to Louisville, late, on Sunday 8/31/08, I set about determining where to get an estimate on repair. Initial inquiries about local repairs seemed to indicate possible delays due to a history of back ordered parts from Nikon. Also, I have a shoot scheduled for 10/4/08 and need a camera ASAP. Consequently, I shipped the D200 to Nikon's repair facility in Melville, NY. The camera was shipped UPS on 9/2/08 4:36 PM and arrived at the Melville NY repair facility on 9/4/08 at 10:13 AM. At the time of this writing, 9/4/08 2:25 PM, no word from Nikon regarding repair status. I will continue to post my experience and progress on this repair.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring in the Southeast Mountains

First Place Wildflower Category

Third Place Wildflower Category

We have just returned from a trip to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation area, East Tennessee, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Eastern Kentucky, and Cumberland Falls State Park. It was an exhausting, but rewarding trip. We (my wife and I) were up early every morning and usually returned to our cabin well after dark. We spent each evening downloading and editing images. At the end of our trip we participated in the Cumberland Falls Nature Photography Weekend and Contest. The contest starts on Friday at 12 noon and ends on Saturday at 6 PM. Photographers must submit their images on or before 6 PM, a maximum of six images that may be entered in 6 categories. Approximately 80 photographers participated this year with participants from as far away as Virginia, Alabama, and Ohio. My wife took first place in a category dubbed "Wet and Wild" and I took first and third place in the Wildflower category.

Significant to mention; all the single wildflower images on this page, including the first place winner, were taken with a manual focus 200mm f4 Nikon micro lens on a Nikon D200. The third place winner was taken with the Nikon 80-200mm f2.8. If you look at the enlarged version of the third place photo you will see the sessile trillium is sharp where as the phlox that surround it are blurred due to wind.

The Losers

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Everything That is Old is New Again

Nikon 400mm f5.6 manual focus built approximately 1982 w/TC 1.4 from the same time period. This is the equivalent of a 840mm @f8.0 lens (400mm x 1.5 factor w/ DSLR APC sized sensor x 1.4 factor from teleconverter) on the Nikon D200. EXIF data: 1/250th f8.0 ISO 400. Shot on a Gitzo 1325 tripod with an Arca-Swiss Z-1 ballhead through a standard clear glass window pane. File was ingested via Adobe Lightroom where slight adjustments to exposure, blacks, clarity, and medium tone curve were applied. Detials in Lightroom: Noise Reduction applied 50 points lumnanace and color; Sharpening 150; Radius 1.0, Detail 60; Masking 70.

A couple of years ago I purchased the Nikon D200. My decision to purchase this camera was based on several factors. I should mention that I have been a Nikon shooter since the 1990’s, but I admire the Canon cameras and lenses as well. At the time I made the purchase I was working at a camera store (yes, I got an employee discount, but not as much as you might think), and was able to get my hands on several new cameras and lenses, a nice side benefit. When the Nikon D200 began to ship there was so much demand for the camera that several were sold before we could get a demo model on the shelf. But, popularity had nothing to do with my purchase decision. One overriding factor secured my decision, the venerable Nikon F-mount. What is the Nikon F-mount, well if you want to research it further check out -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikon_F-mount What you will find is that the original F-mount developed by Nikon in 1959 has remarkable longevity, and backwards compatibility. What this means to photographers in practical terms is, that with few exceptions, any lens manufactured by Nikon since 1977, when the AI lenses, were introduced will mount on any of the new Nikon digital SLR’s. This does not mean that you will always get metering with every DSLR, but what’s a histogram and chimp screen for anyway? Nikon D1, D2, and D3 series and the D200, D300 will give you metering, with some limitations, in Aperture Priority and Manual exposure modes. Other Nikon DSLR's will not give you metering , but you do get an image on the LCD and a histogram. Consequently, you can get an image and you can bracket and determine what the correct exposure is. Maybe not the quickest way to get a photo, but every bit as effective as a new lens. If you want to read the details about using older Nikon lenses, see this chart at Ken Rockwell’s excellent and thorough web site.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Why Macs?

In a word; simplicity. In 2005 I purchased my first Mac, a dual 1.8 GHz Power Mac G5. Love at first sight. Previously I owned a PC tower, built locally, that I acquired in 1997. It had Windows 95 for an operating system. And, with one exception, I maintained that machine and OS, by myself, for the 8 years I owned it. Finally, it became evident that my 1997 PC was on its last legs. I was convinced that I would purchase another Windows machine. Windows XP seemed to be a good OS. I had worked with XP at my workplace, a significant improvement over Windows 95, and most of the bugs in the OS seemed to be worked out. I planned to become more involved with digital imaging and reports at that time indicated that XP was pretty stable under the stress of dealing with digital images. I didn’t believe that the Mac was affordable, and never considered a Mac until . . .

My wife suggested that I talk over my purchase with someone she knew who was a programmer at a local major corporation. In addition, he was a photographer who was into digital, and I was still using film and scanning images. After talking with him over a very long lunch, I was ready to consider the Mac. I think that lunch lasted approximately 2 hours and most of what I remember as far as advice from him was, “get a Mac.” Thanks, Jeff. With some new ideas to ponder I discussed my purchase with others. Opinions ranged back in forth, but Louisville, KY is by far a PC kind of town (No Mac store here until late 2007 and the University of Louisville acts as if Apple and Macs don’t exist). Most of the other photographers I met had lots of cash invested in PC software; consequently their opinions were admittedly biased. In addition, Mac users had a passion about their machines you didn’t hear from the PC guys. The clincher for me was when I talked with folks that worked all day every day with imaging, graphics, and photos. Again and again, I heard “get a Mac.” So, I got a Mac, and became a convert. What they say is true; the Mac simply works. In fact the whole system is so simple that if you have worked on PCs, as I did for several years, you will find that things on the Mac are so simple and straightforward as to be confounding. If you speak with me about computers, I will tell you “get a Mac.” You won’t regret it.

P.S. Chuck Rubin of Chuck Rubin Photographics, 1031 Bardstown Rd Louisville, KY 402004 Phone: (502) 452-6171, experienced a fire at his business establishment in December 2007. The fire was pretty serious with lots of smoke damage. Fortunately, no one was injured, and Chuck re-opened his business within a few weeks. An iMac was damaged by the fire. I understand the keyboard was completely melted by the heat of the fire. A few days later we plugged in the severely scorched iMac to see if it would start up again. Although the screen was scorched to the point to be unusable, the iMac started and worked fine.
Chuck is a reputable dealer.

Chucks Ebay auctions are at:

You may also access his store site at:

A newspaper story about the fire.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Early on in 2006 I became aware of the development of a new application by Adobe. The Lightroom Beta was available as a free download and released in the Spring of 2007. From Adobe: “Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® software is the professional photographer's essential toolbox, providing one easy application for managing, adjusting, and presenting large volumes of digital photographs so you can spend less time in front of the computer and more time behind the lens.” Actually, in my experience, Lightroom does even more. If you are a photographer who shoots a lot, (and who doesn’t these days?) then Lightroom is for you. I admit I am a disciple of Apple. I love my Macs and seize almost every opportunity to tell others (obnoxious, isn’t it?). When Apple introduced Aperture, I couldn’t afford to purchase it. Consequently, I waited and became involved with trying out the Lightroom Beta. But, after comparing Aperture and Lightroom, I chose Lightroom. My experience is that Lightroom is more intuitive and faster than Aperture. When Lightroom was introduced it was priced at $100.00 less than the regular price of $299.00. I didn’t hesitate to purchase it, and believe the $199.00 paid is the best value in software I’ve ever seen. As of this writing, Lightroom is available for $279.00 at B&H, $276.95 at Adorama, Academic discount versions are listed on the web for $99.00. In addition Adobe has a discount available through their online store if you buy Lightroom and another application together. See the Adobe website for details.

As I said before Lightroom is extremely intuitive. Originally, Adobe posted “The 5 Rules” as the only directions on how to use the program. “The 5 Rules” reflected the simplicity and ease of using the program, and I discovered within a short period of time that I was editing images in Lightroom quicker and with more pleasing results than Photoshop. I first acquired Photoshop Elements in 2005, and Photoshop CS later that same year. The Elements version I acquired was pretty easy, but I struggled with Photoshop. I believe if I had Lightroom to learn first I would have progressed quicker in learning about making basic edits in Photoshop. Lightroom has almost completely replaced Adobe Camera RAW and Bridge in my workflow. Lightroom is a great piece of software, which Adobe has endeavored to update and maintain through the new versions of MS Windows and Mac OS X. A 30-day trial is available at:


If you want to make a promo sheet or small poster of your work in Lightroom, try this.


Happy Shooting!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Lunch Time

Click to Enlarge

Hillbilly Hotdogs in Lesage, West Virginia
A wonderful place for lunch

Hillbilly Hotdogs has a very entertaining website at:

Click to Enlarge

Sonny Knight, Proprietor Hillbilly Hotdogs