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All posts for the month April, 2009

But important nonetheless ;)

http://www.childrensbookstoreonline.com

One of my good friends from the US set this up just recently and I think he deserves some exposure.
Trustworthy resource so not like one of the posts I wrote before here.
Go have a look.

Winters here are beautiful, but whenever the snow starts to melt it gets really dirty. It’s no different with the car. It was a terrible mess, and it was about time we washed it.
So this afternoon we drove to a car wash and had it washed. It was kind of a slow one, but it turned out to be quite fun.
Since I rarely leave home without my camera, I took it out of the bag and shot some pictures while we waited in the car for the machine to clean everything up.

D200, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/2.8, Tamron 28-75mm, on-camera flash

D200, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/2.8, Tamron 28-75mm, on-camera flash

D200, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/2.8, Tamron 28-75mm, on-camera flash

D200, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/2.8, Tamron 28-75mm, on-camera flash

D200, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/2.8, Tamron 28-75mm, on-camera flash

D200, ISO100, 1/125 sec @ f/2.8, Tamron 28-75mm, on-camera flash

Dang! I feel sorry for myself…

Last week I attended a seminar at Epson. Very interesting, but the content of that seminar isn’t the point right now. As a by the way (a very by the way by the way) buying a new camera body came up and I heard only half of the story, except for the price.
Being Dutch (yeah, I know!) that got stuck like a little splinter in my brain.

So… Little background info: I’m in the market for a new camera body. Or rather, an extra, because I don’t have a spare. So I was looking to replace my D200 with a D700 body as a main camera.

The D700 (body only) goes for around $3,000. That’s an average price. The splinter which was pushing in my brain had a price tag of €1.280, which is about $1,650.
So I googled D700 and 1280. Lo and behold… A website came up advertising for a Nikon D700. For €1.280. Wow!

Very tempting, very tempting. However, since I’m not the type of person to blindly trust anything good the moment I see it, I looked around for a bit. The site itself looks very professional and very reliable, advertising with the AMEX, VISA, Mastercard and the PayPal logo.
I asked a friend who has lived in those parts of the woods for awhile to put out some flags. My better half has a couple of colleagues who come from those areas and she would ask them.
That all came up empty. No one’d heard of the place.
In the mean time the price went down from €1.280 to €1.120.
I decided to go for it. Just order it. I’d be insured through my credit card company, so this was all covered.
Added a D700 body to my shopping cart and went for check-out.
But then… Hmmm…
Where is the credit card payment option? Only Western Union, MoneyGram or bank transfer?
And PayPal payment option grayed out, because it’s only for VIP customers?
Hmmmm…

*alarm bells*

So I wrote the good people an email.

Dear Sir, Madam,

I was going to order the D700 body from your store.
Seeing all the symbols at the bottom of your website, I assumed I would be able to pay by credit card, but when I got to the payment part, there’s no option for paying by credit card.

How does this work exactly?

Looking forward to your response.

It took them only 1,5 hours to reply (considering the time difference I thought that was quite good). The answer was… well… polite but dubious:

Dear Arno.
Thanks for your enquiry,
For the strict chinese foreign exchange system, the company can not accept payment directly by foreign credit card. You can pay via bank transfer or westernunion by your Mastercard. We are sorry for the inconvenice.
Hope you a gald shipping.
Best regards

(typos are copied as-is)
I mean… Because of the strict Chinese foreign Exchange system, they can’t accept payment directly from foreign credit cards? I don’t know really how the system works in China, but this sounds like a very lame excuse.

Anyway… It was late and I decided to go sleep on it, and maybe go down town the next day to check from Western Union if a payment could be insured somehow.
But the next day (yeah, I know… should’ve done it first thing) I decided to google the name of this shop. And WHAM… Long list of “is this a scam?”, “can we trust this?”, “anyone any experience with this shop?” came up.
A lot of good points in a lot of threads in the search results.
Chinese site with only English and no Chinese?
No credit card payments possible and only money wiring?
Domain name of the shop was registered only in mid-March, which is kind of weird. This shop claims copyright on their website for their stuff from 2005-2009. Wouldn’t an electronics shop in today’s digital era have a website up and running longer than mid-March 2009?
So all in all…
Very dubious, very dodgy. Needless to say that I’m going to check elsewhere. Probably have to pay a bit more, but be sure to get it instead of being out a bag full of money.

As goes the saying:

If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is

Along the same lines as in part V (maybe a tad bit less annoying, but still quite up there) is the disappearing of exporting presets.
I use the export function out of Lightroom extensively and I made some custom user presets for exporting files, with or without post-processing actions in Photoshop.

Lightroom screenshot

Lightroom screenshot

And the same thing happens here as it does with the metadata presets.
As soon as you change catalogs the user presets are gone. “Luckily” the last used information is kept in the fields, so you can salvage at least one of your presets, but all the other ones you will have to redo.

Lightroom screenshot

Lightroom screenshot

The ones that are “hard wired” in the system will stay. The post-processing actions for example, they are still there. But those are actual physical files on the hard drive. Apparently these user customized export presets aren’t. They seem to be temporary files attached to the currently opened catalog.

Some time ago I wrote a couple of pieces on things that bug me in Lightroom.
I wasn’t done yet…

Lightroom allows you to change the identity plate.
By default this is set to the Lightroom logo and the text Lightroom.
When you have some images to show to your clients and it shows your own logo there, it of course looks a lot more fancy. So my logo’s up there, instead of the Lightroom logo.

Lightroom screenshot

Lightroom screenshot

Now the annoying thing, though.
Suppose you have photographs of the same client in different catalogs. That would mean you’d have to switch catalogs in order to show your client the other photographs.
What happens? Lightroom closes, restarts, and then shows up with an ugly Cursiva font where your logo previously was. It doesn’t even show the somewhat stylish Lightroom logo, just the text Lightroom in that Cursiva font. Ugh!

Lightroom screenshot

Lightroom screenshot

So what’s up with that?
If you haven’t touched the settings in LR in regards to the identity plate, then LR will default to the standard LR logo when you change catalogs. But if you set your identity plate in one and switch to another catalog the software defaults to an ugly text?

Common guys at Adobe? What were you thinking?

Museums are often in very old or very modern/abstract buildings. They provide great opportunities to make some great pictures.

The other day we were in the Zoological museum in Helsinki.
The outside of the building isn’t particularly beautiful (at least I don’t think so), but the inside is absolutely great! The stair cases there (among others) have some great curves that come out beautifully in black and white.

D200, ISO100, 1/4 sec @ f/11, Tamron 28-75mm

D200, ISO100, 1/4 sec @ f/11, Tamron 28-75mm

Some time ago I wrote about how our balcony’s facing west and how we enjoy frequent sunsets.
Now that the ever present snow clouds accompanying the winter on its way out, we get to see those sunsets again. Today was especially colorful and I was too busy to get out and find a decent spot to make a good composition of it. But I think this picture tells enough.

D200, ISO100, 1/45 sec @ f/5.6, Sigma 10-20mm

D200, ISO100, 1/45 sec @ f/5.6, Sigma 10-20mm

More to follow, without any doubt.