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October 2007's Updates
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Baby Ryan Rockwell. Cute photos with tech data.


NEW:  Nikon D3      D300     14-24mm f/2.8     24-70mm f/2.8   

Canon 40D  1Ds Mk III  14mm II  18-55mm IS  55-250mm IS


28 October 2007, Sunday

I finally got to posting more Yosemite photos.


25 October 2007, Thursday

Since I write from personal experience and was lucky enough not to have had fire trucks running down my street, yesterday I completely forgot the obvious thanks to all the firemen, police and everyone out there who put their lives on the line every day helping all of us, and don't ask for any more recognition than "just doing their jobs."

Whoa! Some of these guys lost their lives out there these past few days, and it's just doing their jobs? Think about that; that's one heck of a job. Do you think I'd be working on this website if I was likely to get killed doing it? No way; I'm too chicken!

We had more fires than I ever thought we'd have people to cover them. Somehow it seems every fire was being fought. If it wasn't for their selflessness in fighting the fires that got within 5 miles of my house, my house would most probably be just another smoldering foundation endlessly looped on TV and a vanity disaster tour destination for politicians.


Of course the fires still burn and these guys are still out there working all day and night, so lets all hope for the best for everyone. THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!

Another great thing about San Diego is how everyone really does go out of their way to help everyone else. If you've followed the news, it's incredible how far everyone is going to help everyone else out.


24 October 2007, Wednesday

Satan's Sunset

Satan's Sunset, 5:41PM.

The sun is blood-red all day from the ash in the air. This is the best it's been in days; it was darker yesterday, and almost black on Monday.

I had to run back from Yosemite to San Diego to help my wife and baby escape San Diego's deadly wildfires, which prompted an evacuation from my neighborhood Monday night. As of 22:30 Zulu (3:30PM California time) our neighborhood is no longer in immediate danger, the evac order was lifted and everyone and everything on my block seems fine.

Today we're cautiously starting to clean up from under the ashes and unpack from the evac. Others in San Diego are not so fortunate, and the fires continue to rage and consume. We're only a few miles from the ocean, and even we were told to evacuate. The local San-O nuke plant (SONGS), which provides 20% of the power to run my house, computer and charge my cameras, shut down on Sunday. We now have some power coming from sunny Mexico.

Losses so far are 6 lives, 1,200 homes, 100 commercial buildings and 300,000 acres (400 square miles or 1,000 square km) scorched.

I have a ton of great shots from Monday in Yosemite to post, and of course I'll be taking all these below into a separate gallery with much larger images, as well as all the tech detail you demand, after we get recombobulated. I still haven't had time with all this mayhem to download anything new from my cameras.

While I was out shooting I only had a few minutes each night to ingest, sort, process and post each day's work using my four year old, bottom-of-the-line 800 MHz 12" Apple iBook laptop via other people's wi-fi. Even with primitive tools, I can crank out a lot in a few minutes.

Many hats are off to Clear Channel Radio's (KOGO 600 AM and half a dozen other San Diego stations) that dropped everything, stopped all their ads and are still giving 100% useful coverage to those of us who need it. Even clear-channel's FM rock stations like 101.5 KGB stopped everything and carried 100% relevant, live, fire coverage the first few days. I especially found the live eagle-eye air coverage from traffic reporter Cal Walker (and pilot Frank Britton) to be the very best source of information as to where the fires are, and where they might be going.

Being able to pick up KOGO on my drive back from Yosemite was far more helpful than any of the larger Los Angeles stations I was able to get further north which were more interested in promoting themselves and running ads and fluff. Clear Channel's coverage was indispensable to me trying to figure out how to get home, and if I still had a home. This sort of coverage is what gets station's FCC licenses renewed, bravo! Having worked in radio in my earlier days I really appreciate the relevance of what was broadcast, and how they threw all their income (ads) out the window for the past few days helping us survive all this. They are here when we need it, while TV is just showing old fire footage and not much of anything relevant to the fires as they are now.

When I'm out driving, trying to get or give help, I can't get to the Internet, however others tell me that a local TV station's website, CBS8.com, is loaded with helpful info.

When the smoke clears and business, logistics and transportation return to normal, I can't wait to process my new Velvia 50 from my Nikon F6 and Nikon 35Ti.


23 October 2007, Tuesday


Thank God Costco is open. We could watch fire coverage in the TV section.


22 October 2007, Monday

Fires back home in San Diego lead to the evacuation of most of the town while I'm out shooting in Yosemite. Here's what I snapped in Yosemite Valley.


21 October 2007, Sunday

I'm still out shooting. Even the smallest dinky motels that I prefer now have abundant Wi-Fi, so here are some quick snaps directly from my Canon 5D, exactly as shot in JPG. I've got no time to tweak them; I need to go to sleep to arise pre dawn each day. They are made with the new Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 L II (usually at 16mm,) 70-200mm f/4 L IS, or my 14mm f/2.8 L.

I also shot all this on my Nikon F6 and Velvia 50, but I can't process my film in my motel room. Sorry, Nikon fans, there are no production Nikon D3s yet; only prototypes, and I don't have the time to twiddle with prototypes. You'll know as soon as I get mine, which will be the same day everyone else gets theirs.

I've added new shots for all days, so scroll down even if you think you've seen them all. Get out here and make some photos, the weather is great!

Fall Colors Update: Rt 395 is past peak, meaning there is still loads of great color to shoot, and fewer pesky photographers to get in your way. There is less left after Friday's windstorms, but still plenty to make blowing off work today and heading up to shoot a great idea.

Yosemite valley appears to be right at its peak: there are loads of yellows and reds to photograph, yay!

Here's what I photographed at Twin Lakes today.


20 October 2007, Saturday

Here's what I photographed at Mono Lake and The Eastern Sierra today.


19 October 2007, Friday

Here's what I photographed at Bodie and The Eastern Sierra today.


18 October 2007, Thursday

Here's what I photographed at Lee Mono Lake and all around today.

Eastern Sierra Fail Color Report: Bishop looks about prime, and June Lake Loop, Lee Vining and Bridgeport are a little behind. A little behind prime means loads of great photo opportunities! I remember last year when chicken little was worried about global warming; this year it's so cold that everything is two weeks ahead of the past couple of years.


17 October 2007, Wednesday

Here's what I photographed at Lee Vining this afternoon.

I arrived in Lee Vining about 4PM. I saw some great colors in town, so I shot there instead of the usual clichées at South Tufa, since there were no clouds.


16 October 2007, Tuesday

Just Announced:

Canon 200mm f/2

Canon EF 200mm f/2 L IS USM enlarge

Canon 800mm f/5.6

Canon EF 800mm f/5.6 L IS USM enlarge

These are merely in development. There are no stated deliveries or prices.

Richard Soberka of France offers some new Nikon D3 Examples.

Scott in Maine had some nice things to say about me at Blogspot. Thanks Scott!


15 October 2007, Monday

D200 Renovation

Yay! Want to make your D200 just like new? I bought a $9.95 Nikon BM-6 replacement LCD cover and the monitor is much clearer, now that I've replaced the other one that I've been scratching up for the past 2 years.

Film: Tod und Verklärung

Tod (Death)

I remember as a kid in the 1960s that my dad and I, the electronics whizzes, were always at the drug store using their tube tester. Drugstores sold replacement tubes for radios, TVs and record players.

As film goes the way of tubes, some people are surprised when film drop-boxes evaporate from drugstores. The NY Times has a non-news article on the obvious.

Just as there are people who won't use anything other than a tube amp to play their records today, there will always be crazy people like me who shoot film.

Tubes, black-and-white film and 8mm movies went away in the 1970s, but you can still buy iPod docks with tubes in them and Super 8mm Kodachrome at Amazon. You'll be able to get a lot more selection at specialty stores forever.

Tubes for use in audio equipment and film are now alternative processes, just as getting B/W film processed has required a custom lab for the past 10 years.

Film isn't going away, or if it does, it will be at least another 40 years. I know several people personally who run companies that design and sell new tube audio products. There is always a market for things, including buggy whips, but as time marches forward, the market shrinks from the mass market and becomes a specialty. Only the best products survive, and you have to go to a specialty store instead of the drug store.

My local Longs dumped its film drop last month. So what? I wouldn't send my film to Longs anyway. I do send all my color prints to my local Costco, who process, print and scan them all to digital in an hour. I've met people who take more than an hour just to download and batch-convert a bunch of raw files. Who's crazier?

Verklärung (Transfiguration)

I also just got my first paid-for box of Fuji Velvia 50. Whoo hoo! I've been working off a few samples since July.

Canon 5D Price Drop

Does the Canon 5D price drop (now about $2,300 at discount) foretell a replacement soon? Not necessarily. The 5D is long overdue for replacement, but it also was a year ago when I got $600 off during Canon's fall 2006 rebates which we all knew meant the 5D was history. A year later my 5D is still the highest-image-quality digital camera that I feel like affording and carrying. My Nikon D3 will probably weigh more than I feel like carrying.


11 October 2007, Thursday

NEW: Canon 14mm f/2.8 L Full Review. This is Canon's first AF 14mm, introduced in 1991 and still sold today. It is smaller and less expensive than the new 14mm f/2.8 L II announced in August. I'm still waiting to try the new 14mm II.

NEW: Canon 40D Highlight Rendition. I show an example of what the new extended highlight mode does. Canon calls this mode "Highlight Tone Priority," which attempts to address one of the most serious shortcomings of digital capture.


11 October 2007, Thursday

NEW: Nikon 50mm f/1.2 AI-s. Nikon's fastest lens, still made today in Japan. It's the same manual focus lens they've been making since 1981, and you can still get it today brand-new for less than others pay for them used.

Free: I just gave away my copy of Peter iNova's Nikon D200 eBook on CD. Thanks!


09 October 2007, Tuesday

NEW: Nikon AF 28-80mm G. Incredible performance (for its price) from a dinky film lens that was discontinued back in 2006. It will be fun to see how well it works compared to the 24-70mm f/2.8 AF-S when the Nikon D3 arrives.


05 October 2007, Friday

I'm getting tired of all the ads, so my new pages tend not to have them, and I just went out of my way to pull them off my Nikon D3 and D300  pages, too.

World's Ugliest 24mm

The World's Ugliest 24mm Lens.

Look what showed up at The Retirement Ranch! I'm stoked, because even with wrench marks on the chewed-up filter ring and loads of wear to the glass, this 24mm seems to work just fine. It's going to be a hoot when I finally get hold of Nikon's newest 14-24mm f/2.8 and 24-70mm f/2.8 lenses and compare them directly against each other at 24mm.   

New: Nikon's one-sheet printed D3 brochure.

Yesterday's La Jolla landslide was a few miles from where I used to live. No big deal; most of California is sliding down the hill. It's just a matter of time until we all slide into the ocean. I keep off the hill in the back of my house out of common sense. This slide I think took out only one house and about 200' of street. I don't watch TV, this is from photos friends sent me.

We usually get wildfires this time of year, which eliminates the scrub brush which is what holds the hills together, and then we get landslides with the spring rains. These landslides came pre-season. No big deal; no one got hurt as far as I know and far more people got killed yesterday driving around in their cars and in SUV rollovers.

Since news media is funded by auto, drug and cell phone ads, the last thing you'll hear are exposées on the real dangers of driving, taking drugs or talking on your phone while driving.

Instead you'll hear bad things about everything that doesn't pay for ads, like West Nile Virus, flesh-eating bacteria and mudslides. I don't know know anyone ever hurt by a boutique disease, a tornado or a hurricane, but I have had best friends and members of my family killed in car crashes. How about you?

Our baby Ryan doesn't go in a car unless he has a reason to be someplace. I love to drive, and realize that every time I turn the key that I may never return home. I don't worry about things I can't change, like Avian Flu or Windows viruses. I worry about the things I can change, like turning off my cell phone when I get in my car and paying close attention to everything as I drive.

Yes, landslides are unfortunate, but unavoidable. More sad is how the media makes more money playing on our natural schadenfreude instead of discussing ways we all would benefit if we'd only take a little personal responsibility for our actions.


03 October 2007, Wednesday

NEW: DSLR High ISO Shoot-Out. The Canon 5D wins as usual.

NEW: Lens or Camera? Where the Smart Money Goes. A guide for the budget-minded.

Thankfully, the Nikon 18-200mm VR is in now stock most places at $750, and in stock for as little at $699.95 for gray market at Adorama. It's only been two years waiting, but demand still has its price above what we paid back in 2005.


02 October 2007, Tuesday

NEW: Nikon D3 Example Images. The ice hocky shot by Dave Black says it all.

New: Casio Pathfinder Watch. Sorry, I wasted all yesterday reading email so you'll have to wait until later today for me to start thinking about formatting the comparisons between the 40D and 5D and XTi, and adding the newest D3 example shots.


01 October 2007, Monday

Added a warning in Pushing ISO in Photoshop against using levels, histograms or lighten/darken.

Added a section on tracking movement in Preventing Shutter Lag.

Astronomers: Mars is coming.

NEW: 50mm f/2 Nikkor-H. A 35 year old lens.

Nikon D40 with 50mm Nikkor-H

A new Nikon D40 with a 1972 50mm f/2 Nikkor-H. enlarge.

NEW: Nikon System Compatibility. A forty year or more age gap between camera and lens can be completely compatible, in either direction.

Added a section on Compatibility to my dangerous Canon versus Nikon article.

The new Casio EZ-Z1200 arrived at Ritz in black and chrome. I've never used it, but I do have the newest Casio EX-V8 I'm trying, which is the replacement to the EX-V7.


What Was New in:

September 2007

August 2007 (Loads of new Nikons and Canons)

July 2007

June 2007

May 2007

April 2007

March 2007

January and February 2007

2006 November - December (includes birth of Ryan Rockwell)

2006 October - November (includes photos from a trip to NY)

2006 June - September

2006 Jan - May



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