Monday, July 19, 2010

Ottawa Bluesfest 2010

I'm of two minds about Ottawa Bluesfest. On one hand it's a big event that attracts some great musicians who might not otherwise play here. On the other hand you have to stand outside in the middle of a very large crowd to see those bands. I've weighed the pros and cons of this over the past few years since the festival moved to the Canadian War Museum site. The crowd has gotten increasingly large year after year, and with that everything just takes longer: getting in, getting out, getting a beer etc. However they do bring in a great lineup of musicians, and a saving grace of Bluesfest has always been that it was a great place to take photos, and anyone was allowed to bring their SLR in. Well not anymore.

It's too bad but this year Bluesfest put the brakes on "big cameras", as the security staff put it. Strangely they did it midway through the festival, with no explanation. On the second Tuesday of the festival, security staff greeted fans with SLRs by telling them they could bring their cameras in, but they'd be thrown out if they used them. The following day we would not be allowed in at all with SLRs. Of course nothing was printed on the tickets about this rule, although Tuesday night the FAQ section of the website read: (after a couple of pages of script errors) "NO Professional Photograph Equipment", which may have indicated the rule was hastily added. I already had a ticket for Santana on Wednesday, so I left my camera at home and went down to see the show. Oddly there were lots of people walking around with SLRs, people who didn't have press passes. I guess they just wanted to scare a few people off?

Well it worked, but fortunately not before I got to see Rush.

(Click images for larger size)

I was also lucky enough to see Hannah Georgas, whom I'd never seen before and had only heard a few songs on CBC Radio. She was fantastic. (I checked with Bluesfest staff before photographing Hannah's show, and they said it was OK.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Quick Portrait

Emily has been working on a lot of knitting projects lately, including the beautiful poncho she's wearing here. I recently bought a cool reflector kit and wanted to try it out, so these two things, along with a suggestion from our friend Liz, came together in the portrait here.

Click photo for larger size

Photo details:
SB-600 through an umbrella, 1/4 power, camera left, 40" white reflector, camera right, both just out of the frame. Background wall lit by another SB-600, also 1/4 power, gelled magenta.

Poncho details:
Yarn: King Cole Mirage. Stitch: Old shale

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

How to fix a Nikon D70s (or a D70?) Shutter

UPDATE: Lots of people find this article when trying to fix a stuck mirror on a D70. Chris Inch reports that his D70 mirror would stay up after making an exposure normally. Another shutter button press was needed to return the mirror to the down position. He fixed this problem by using a different battery. If this is the problem you're having, give that a try.

Important: I recommend against taking your camera apart. Though I was able to fix the shutter problem, it wasn't by taking the camera apart. (Read on for my fix, which I also don't recommend you do unless you're prepared to risk ruining your camera. I did it as a last resort.) Taking a camera apart will expose you to a risk of electric shock from the capacitor (the thing that looks like a battery) inside. I'm including pictures in case anyone's wondering what the inside of their camera looks like, not because I think you should do this.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from my friend Tim who asked me "Do you have any use for a dead Nikon D70s?" He had found it in a recycle bin and told me that if nothing else I'd be getting a spare battery. I have a problem saying no, and a misplaced confidence that I can fix anything, so I told him I'd take it. When I got it, it didn't work - as promised. The battery was charged, but when I pressed the shutter button the mirror would go up but the shutter wouldn't open. "Err" blinked on the top LCD, then after pushing the shutter button again the mirror came back down. No photo. A little googling shows this to be a fairly common occurrence with the D70 and D70s, but there aren't a whole lot of suggestions apart from trying a fresh battery, a reset, and sending it off to Nikon and paying $250 for a repair. I tried the first two with no success, but wasn't interested in the third option. It didn't make sense to spend money on a body that came out of dumpster, especially not when a new D40 body is only $400.

Don't do this. I mean it. If you do it, I'm not responsible for what happens.

I figured I didn't have much to lose by taking it apart. I'm fairly handy and I have a set of small screwdrivers that I rarely use. That makes me qualified in my books. :-) Well it was fun, but I didn't learn much apart from what the inside of a D70s looks like. Interesting, but I didn't see anything to suggest what I might do to solve the problem with the shutter. I put it back together and decided to make it a paperweight while I gave it some more thought.

Really don't do this. I'm still not responsible.

A couple of days later it occurred to me that the shutter might just be stuck. I had been thinking that some little actuator was burnt out or some spring had come off its guide, but maybe it was something simpler. If the shutter was stuck, then what it might need was a nudge. So I nudged it: I lifted up the mirror, took a pair of small, pointy sewing scissors and pushed down slightly with a very small force on one of the little rivets in the shutter. (The topmost one in the photo)
The shutter moved a bit.

Encouraged, I removed the scissors, released the mirror and hit the shutter release. The shutter opened and closed. I went and got a memory card and a lens and hit the shutter release again. A photo appeared on the LCD. I had fixed it!

After a week of happy shooting with the D70s it continues to work perfectly. Realistically, I don't expect a lot out of the camera after what it's been through. Getting chucked in a recycle bin followed by disassembly by a fat-fingered, unqualified dumb dumb on his coffee table, then a highly imprecise shutter-shoving with a pair of scissors is probably not a recipe for a reliable camera. But I hope it is, because in a world that has so few user-serviceable parts I feel great about bringing this discarded camera back to life, and keeping at least one piece of electronic gear out of the landfill for just a bit longer. (Oh, and for free. Did I mention that?)

Some notes: I really don't think you should do this. I did it because I had nothing to lose. When I did it, however, I was careful about dust and what length screws came out of which holes. Note that my shutter was stuck in the "UP" position. I suppose it might just as easily have been stuck the other way. The shutter is also EXTREMELY FLIMSY.

Also, who throws a camera in a recycle bin? Maybe one day that'll work, but until then take it to these guys for environmentally friendly recycling. (If you're in Ottawa. If not, your town probably has an option like this too.)