Thanksgiving Reflections on Sawhill Ponds

Sawhill Ponds, Late Fall #13. Boulder, Colorado
Sawhill Ponds, Late Fall #13. Boulder, Colorado

Happy Turkey Day!

The above image, in color, shows what life is like at Sawhill Ponds these days–very much full of the fall fashion colors. However, I like to isolate the reflections and I really like how the images look when converted to monochrome…the interplay of the patterns and the texture of the water’s surface. This time of year the clouds begin to roll about and get creative as well, and that adds yet another wonderful dimension.

The nostalgia of fall…of life that was and has passed on until the return of the spring sun.

Enjoy your turkey and your family!

Sawhill Ponds, Late Fall #7. Boulder, Colorado, 2013
Sawhill Ponds, Late Fall #7. Boulder, Colorado, 2013
Sawhill Ponds, Late Fall #8. Boulder, Colorado, 2013
Sawhill Ponds, Late Fall #8. Boulder, Colorado, 2013
Sawhill Ponds, Late Fall #11. Boulder, Colorado, 2013
Sawhill Ponds, Late Fall #11. Boulder, Colorado, 2013

Photographer Spotlight: Vivian Maier

Three for Lunch. Barcelona, Catalunya, 2010
Three for Lunch. Barcelona, Catalunya, 2010

She is getting a lot of press lately, and for good reason. Her work is exceptional. Her self-portraits unique. Is she the American version of Henri Cartier-Bresson? ( (Well, she did have a French mother!)

Some interesting facts:

–She worked as a nanny for some 40 years and was good with kids.

–One of her former cares called her a sort of “Mary Poppins“.

–She even cared for one of Phil Donahue’s kids for a short time.

–She was a hoarder, leaving behind thousands of undeveloped frames and unprinted negatives.

–She was a very private person, a loner who hauled along up to 200 boxes of “her life” whenever she moved.

–She once spent six months traveling around the world (a literal circumnavigation) alone.

–Her work came to light only because mounds of her accumulated “stuff” was auctioned off to pay debts.

–She died in 2009 at the age of 83, poor and unknown, her death likely hastened by a head injury caused by falling on the ice. Unfortunately, her death came just months before the man who found her work, John Maloof, made her a famous figure.

There is already one book out about her (Vivian Maier, Street Photographer, 2011, edited by John Maloof) and her work and a second is on its way (Vivian Maier: Self-Portraits, 2013, also edited by Maloof). Even the mainstream press has been covering her, so naturally we now have a just-released mainstream movie, “Finding Vivian Maier”.

Here is a short preview of the film to tickle your gizzard:

D800 Sensor Issue, Update #2

Oops! Big mistake. Since I purchase so much from B&H Photo I thought I had also ordered the D800 body from there. After B&H could not find a sales record it dawned on me that I had, in fact, ordered it from Nikon USA’s site. Sorry, B&H! [NOTE: I have updated the previous blog posts to reflect my purchase from Nikon rather than B&H].

So, it looks like I’ll be sending the body back to Nikon, but I’ll have to wait until January as we have a couple of trips planned and there is no time to be without a camera, even if the sensor has a problem. At least it is a problem I can work around for now and the 90-day warranty has come and gone (alas!).

Standby for Update #3 in late January or early February.

Nikon D800 + Remote Control Mini 4×4 = Ultimate Critter Cam

Tiger Nap. The Wildlife Sanctuary, Colorado, 2012
Tiger Nap. The Wildlife Sanctuary, Colorado, 2012

While we seem to be talking about the D800 lately…I can’t believe it took someone so long to think this one up. Lucky he had a bomb proof camera case available!

I guess this is sort of the same thing as unleashing a windup toy in front of your house cat–multiplied by a feline factor of 64 (figuring in both size and numbers in this case).

You will see what I mean here:

D800 Sensor Issue, Update #1

If you read the blog entry (HERE), or followed the thread (HERE), you know I got the camera back three days ago from a wet cleaning at Mike’s Camera and the diagonal lines are still there. The sensor is definitely cleaner–many fewer dust spots, and the dark circles and the light-colored band are all gone, so it looks like the Mike’s service department did their job–but the central problem remains.

To add another layer to the mystery, here is another twist…I turned in the camera for cleaning with about 6,793 shutter actuations (give or take maybe five or so), and got it back with 9,745 actuations. What’s with that!? I stopped by Mike’s to ask them directly and they were as perplexed as I was. They said they might add, at most, fifty or so clicks while cleaning and checking things out, but not anywhere close to 3,000. Odd. Very, very odd.

I am beginning to wonder if the camera body is jinxed…or haunted…or permeated with a heavy dose of citric acid (lemon juice).

While at Mike’s, they just happened to be having a special event and the different camera reps were all there. I found the Nikon rep, Bill Koder (a real nice, very experienced guy), and explained to him the “diagonal-lines-on-the-sensor” issue. Using my iPhone, I showed him the picture from my website that clearly shows it both before and after cleaning. Then I told him about the magical 3,000 additional shutter actuations that showed up after cleaning. He said that, in his 35 years around Nikon and Nikon products, he had never run into either problem. His recommendation was to try going back to the Nikon Store on this even though I am just slightly out of the warranty period. If they don’t elect to honor the warranty (defect was there upon purchase), he recommended I send it back to Nikon repair. They could diagnose the problem, give me a cost estimate, and I could elect to have the repair done or not.

Obviously, my concern is that I have purchased an expensive, defective product.

So, by way of a summary:

–Nikon D800 (Ser # 3064837, refurbished, approximately 3,200 shutter clicks) purchased from The Nikon Store on July 31, 2013.

–I used the D800 very happily for the next 3,000+ shutter actuations…but on occasion, I saw these strange diagonals in the upper right of my images, especially if I had done a Nik Silver Efex B&W conversion and there happened to be blue, white or grey sky in that area (i.e., no texture). The first few times, I assumed it was caused by the light hitting the lens at an unusual angle–that it was just a circumstantial accident.

–After seeing these lines show up a few more times, and in exactly the same place (and struggling with cloning them out of my images), I finally do an experiment with blue sky and all three of my FX lenses. The lines show up in exactly the same place and it doesn’t matter which lens I use. So, I think, the sensor must be the issue.

— On November 15, I begin posting on asking for advice.

–On November 18, I take the camera in to Mike’s Camera for a cleaning. I pick it up on November 22. The sensor is much cleaner overall, but the diagonal lines are still there. AND, I discover nearly 3,000 more shutter clicks on the camera.

–On November 22, I send an email to customer support at B&H Photo with a brief summary of the sensor issue. I will surely hear back after the weekend. Since I do pretty much all of my online shopping for camera gear at B&H (their excellent reputation, you know), I am hoping for the best.

We’ll see where this goes…Standby for Update #2 this next week.

Brody’s Bus at Mud Lake

Brody's Bus #2. Mud Lake Open Space, Boulder County, Colorado, 2013
Brody’s Bus #2. Mud Lake Open Space, Boulder County, Colorado, 2013

Brody’s Bus“, as I call it (or should it be “Tomcat’s Bus”?), was apparently left behind. Why? Who knows? An internet search turned up nothing about the origin of the bus nor why it was left behind when Mud Lake became Boulder County Open Space.

If anyone who reads this has more information, please post a comment and illuminate us local history buffaloes.

I did find the Intergovernmental Agreement between Boulder County and the Town of Nederland (scroll down on the page at that link) for the initial purchase of properties in the Mud Lake area. In that document, there is mention in that agreement of the need to clean up around Mud Lake as it apparently had been used as a local, not-entirely-legal, dump (scroll down to page 12 of the document and see paragraph 9, “Environmental Issues”, to read about it).

From the many bullet holes, the soil in the area likely has a pretty high lead content as well. (“Gotta sight in the ‘ought-six’ afore huntin’ season, dontcha know!”)

Early winter view of Mud Lake:

Mud Lake #4. Mud Lake Open Space, Boulder County, Colorado, 2013
Mud Lake #4. Mud Lake Open Space, Boulder County, Colorado, 2013

Pinball Wizard

Pinball Arcade #2. Manitou Springs, Colorado, 2013
Pinball Arcade #2. Manitou Springs, Colorado, 2013

And now for a big change o’ pace…(Hey, a color image of something not found in nature!)

If you are a pinball or video game fan, be sure to stop by the amazing Penny Arcade (really a working gaming museum) in Manitou Springs, Colorado. Impressive. In addition to the older classics with “flippers” (like in the image above), they even have Pac Man and Donkey Kong upon whose consoles you can spill your nostalgic tears of joy (as you plug in your stream of quarters).

And the Pinball Wizard? How about this video of The Who performing that memorable 1969 hit from their rock opera, Tommy: