Nikon responds to D600 non-issue

Today, about 14 months after purchasing my Nikon D600 camera, I received an email from Nikon Inc. Soon after the D600 was released by Nikon, owners began reporting problems with the camera’s sensor picking up a lot of internal debris. Nikon finally has decided, after more than one year, to acknowledge the problem and do something about it.

Screenshot 2014-02-26 17.18.55Here is what Nikon wrote:

Nikon Inc. is contacting you regarding your D600 D-SLR camera. As you may be aware, Nikon Inc. recently issued a Technical Service Advisory for Users of the Nikon D600 D-SLR camera.

This Advisory related that some users of Nikon’s D600 D-SLR camera have reported the appearance of tiny spots on certain of their images. Not all users have experienced this issue. Nikon has thoroughly evaluated these reports and has determined that these spots are caused by dust particles which may become visible when the camera is used in certain circumstances and/or with certain settings. It is a well-known fact that the presence of dust particles cannot be completely avoided when using a D-SLR camera even after normal sensor cleaning procedures, because of a number of factors including components moving at high speeds when images are taken, the use of interchangeable lenses and the different environments in which a D-SLR camera may be used. As part of its customer-service commitment, Nikon is providing a customer-service measure to reduce the potential impact of dust particles on images taken by its D600 D-SLR cameras.

Nikon has resolved this by making available to you (even if Nikon’s product warranty has expired) this customer-service measure, which includes the inspection, cleaning and replacement of the shutter assembly and related parts of your camera, FREE OF CHARGE as well as the cost of shipping your D600 camera to Nikon and its return to you. Once again, please understand that regardless of this service, your D600 camera as is the case with all D-SLR cameras, will continue to require normal periodic sensor cleanings.

The timing of email was serendipitous. Just last night I contacted Nikon Professional Services to schedule a repair (a cleaning) of my D600. There have been rumors that D600 owners who have had chronic dust problems have had their D600 cameras replaced with the new D610. I was hoping that would happen to me, which is why I planned to send my camera.

Now I’m not sure if Nikon will upgrade my camera, but it sounds like I will get a camera cleaning for free. I have already downloaded all of the UPS paperwork to send my camera to Nikon free of charge. I’m still crossing my fingers a new D610 camera will arrive. Not holding my breath though. Just as long as the dust and spots on my sensor are removed, that will make me happy. It seems the spots that appear on my images are a lot worse than those that appeared on my D700.

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Dress up your iPhone for the holidays!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!





I have created two seasonal iPhone wallpaper images for visitors to download for free. In addition, if you are not familiar with the steps for changing your wallpaper (both lock screen and home screen), I have step-by-step directions.


The first step is to copy and paste the images at right (above if viewing on iPhone).


If you’re on a desktop computer, do the following: Apple: press control >click and select copy image. PC: right click and select download or copy image.


With the image saved to your download folder, you’ll need to email to your iPhone.


If you’re reading this on your iPhone, simply tap the image and press the small box at center bottom of your screen. That leads to another screen with “Save Image” box at bottom left of your screen. (If you’re reading this on Facebook, you’ll need to tap the small box at bottom and hit “Open in Safari.” Then follow the step above.) That’s it. You’ve saved it to your iPhone.



Now, go to your Settings and scroll down to “Wallpapers & Brightness.” See image at right (above on iPhone). Tap it and you’ll see “Choose Wallpaper.”


Here you’ll see the lock screen image and home screen images. You can save your new image to either the lock screen or home screen image.


For example, tap lock screen image. It takes you to your photos. Touch “Camera Roll” and then select the downloaded image.


settings3photoThe new image appears on your screen. Select “Set” and choose either “Set Lock Screen,” “Set Home Screen” or “Set Both.” That’s it. Your new iPhone seasonal wallpaper image is now visible.


In case you are interested, the Merry Christmas wallpaper is a photo of my neighbor’s outdoor tree decorated with lights. I used a tripod to steady the camera while using a 70-200 zoom lens at a shutter speed of around one second and aperature setting of f13. With the shutter depressed, I turned the lens barrel to create the light effect.


In the New Year photo, I used a 60mm macro lens to capture ice crystals built up on a window in my house. The lens was about two inches from the ice.

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Blogging etiquette: A lesson in posting photos without credit

I recently came across a blogging website mentioned by a friend on Facebook. I decided to check out the blogger’s entry to read the post about Cardinal Timothy Dolan. To my surprise, below the headline was a photo of the cardinal when he was archbishop of Milwaukee — a photo I had taken in 2006.

My first reaction was to check for a photo credit or a link to my website. No such luck. All that was written in the caption: “My favorite photo of Cardinal Dolan.”

Archbishop Timothy Dolan embraces a newly ordained permanent deacon following his ordination at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Milwaukee. (Sam Lucero photo)

Archbishop Timothy Dolan embraces a newly ordained permanent deacon following his ordination at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Milwaukee. (Sam Lucero photo)

Because of the nature of my photography work, I do not seek to threaten bloggers or other online posters with legal action for using my photos without permission. Most of the time, the violators of my photo ownership rights are well-meaning people who are living out their faith and sharing their journey via a religious blog. That was the case with Anne Bender, author of “Imprisoned in my Bones” blog.

I chose to leave Anne a comment on her blog:

“One suggestion: You should credit the photographers whose photos you use in your blog — and maybe a link to his/her website.”

Within a few hours, Bender posted a reply, asking if it was my photo. A conversation ensued. She then sent me an email apologizing for not crediting my photo.

“Dear Sam, I am terribly sorry that I failed to credit you for the photo of Cardinal Dolan that I used on my blog. When I first found that picture (on another blog), I absolutely fell in love with it, but I never gave a thought to giving you credit. I was completely in the wrong,” she wrote. “You have every right to go after me for violation of copyright laws, and yet, you simply left a gentle reminder in a comment box. … God bless you for your kindness and thank you for your beautiful work.”

I posted a second comment to her blog the next day with some advice to Bender:

“I see you’ve added a photo credit. Thanks. It’s something that happens all of the time on blogs. Some photographers would object (rightly so) when their work is used online without credit or reimbursement. We’re both in the business of faith so I’m OK with you using my image. Just remember that photographers, unlike bloggers (I do both), put a lot of money into their craft through equipment. I work with a lot of photographers and writers so I like to speak up for the freelancers. Glad you liked the photo.”

It wasn’t the first time I’ve left a comment on a website about one of my photos appearing there without permission, but Anne’s response was the most sincere. Our correspondence also became the subject of a later post on Anne’s blog. You can read it here.


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Can photo software stop the shakes?

Like every other photographer who has shaken his/her head after capturing an image that lacks tack sharpness, I was riveted by the news that Photoshop would offer a new filter in its next upgrade that would fix blurry photos using complicated algorithms. The examples out on various blogs made it seem a dream come true.

Then last week I learned about another photo software plugin from Intelligent Imaging Solutions called Piccure. It was offering a beta version of the same  feature correcting camera shake in images. Piccure is being offered as a free download right now. I decided to give it a shot.

Tonight I began experimenting with Piccure. After a few tests, I’m wondering if this new process, called deconvolution, is nothing more than a sharpening tool, much like Photoshop’s unsharp mask. I took a test image and created two samples: one using Piccure and one using Nik Software’s Sharpener Pro 3. Take a look and see what you think.

This is the original image sharpened in Photoshop.

Here is a close-up crop of the above image.

This next photo is edited using Nik Software’s Sharpener Pro 3.

Image sharpened using Nik’s Sharpener Pro

Here is a close-up crop of the above image.

This final photo is edited using Piccure, a Photoshop plugin that is available as a free download.

Image edited using Piccture

Here is a close-up crop of the above image.

As you can see from this last close-up, there is a ghosting effect taking place alongside the presider’s hands, which is not acceptable. I will continue to experiment with Piccure, but my initial tests are not very positive. But what the heck, it’s free — and you get what you pay for. If you have tried Piccure, did you have positive results? Do you think this camera shake technology will be a game-changer?

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My fondness for Adobe Lightroom

The Miraculous Medal at The Basilica Of The National Shrine Of The Immaculate Conception in NE Washington D.C. (Sam Lucero photo)

I’ve been using Adobe Lightroom to edit my photos since the release of version 3. Previously I made adjustments to my photos in Photoshop. I moved to Lightroom after finally saving digital files as RAW images rather than simply as JPEG files. As primarily a newspaper photographer, I never saw the need to use RAW, since JPEG was fast and it fit in with my workflow. But after some experimentation and reading about the benefits of capturing RAW files, I was a convert.

Of course, Photoshop (I still use it and recently upgraded to CS6) also allows for RAW editing, but Lightroom is more than a photo editing application. Its main purpose is to manage a large number of photos and it helps keep them organized.

I recently upgraded to Lightroom 4 and I’m still learning many of the new features (as well as a lot of the Lightroom basics). When I shoot photos, I always save my images in RAW and JPEG (basic) files on my camera’s memory cards. I save a JPEG file just in case I need to send a quick image to someone or immediately post it online.

The RAW file format allows for much more creative control in areas such as exposure, white balance, contrast and sharpness; both in the overall image file or in random areas of the file.

As you can see by the above example, the unedited RAW file (the Miraculous Medal at The Basilica Of The National Shrine Of The Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C.), a strong spotlight on the image of Mary led to a dark background. It’s best to expose for the highlights (the medal) and allow Lightroom to pull out the darkened areas, which is what I did.

In Lightroom’s develop module, I adjusted some of the basic sliders to bring out the underexposed background and used the adjustment brush to lighten and darken (dodge and burn) specific areas in the photo. I’ve included a screen capture at right to see the basic adjustments made in this particular image.

Transforming the unedited image to the final image in the above example took just a few minutes. The more familiar one becomes with the editing tools in Lightroom, the shorter it takes to complete the editing process. Once the RAW file editing is complete, I save a JPEG copy for publication or web use. It’s like having the film negative filed away and sharing a scanned or printed copy.

Photographer Nasim Mansurov recommends Lightroom over Photoshop for 10 reasons:

  1. Lightroom is easier to learn than Photoshop.
  2. Lightroom already contains a big number of post-processing tools – good for 90%+ of editing tasks.
  3. Lightroom will help you in establishing a solid photography workflow process.
  4. Lightroom makes you more efficient, because you can go through and process many photos quickly, without having to deal with opening and closing files.
  5. Lightroom will keep you organized by cataloging all of your images in one place, making it easy to find and work with images.
  6. As a file and media management tool, Lightroom allows creating folders and sub-folders in your hard drive and can mass-rename files using templates.
  7. Editing images in Lightroom is non-destructive, which means that the original file never gets permanently changed, whereas Photoshop is a mix of destructive and non-destructive editing.
  8. Unless separate layers are kept for every change, Photoshop does not keep historical changes. With Lightroom, you can go back and restore earlier settings after making changes.
  9. Lightroom can display image metadata as an overlay as you edit photos. Photoshop cannot do that once an image is opened.
  10. Lightroom is more than twice cheaper than Photoshop.

See Mansurov’s entire post on Photoshop vs Lightroom.

I’m self-taught using Lightroom, but I rely on tutorials found both on YouTube and on photo-related websites, including this tutorial from Adobe on the Develop Module advancements in Lightroom 4. Here’s a brief YouTube video from Adobe’s Lightroom channel that gives a good introduction to the software’s features.

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Want to be a photographer?

Ever thought about photography as a career? Sounds pretty easy. Buy a digital camera, a few lenses and accessories and start shooting weddings, senior portraits, first Communions and other important milestones. Maybe get a press pass and shoot concerts and other fun events.
Well as the full-time professionals can tell you, it’s a lot more than spending time on site shooting events. If it’s a real job there are the inglorious tasks that take away from the thrill of photography.
The good folks at Fotoseeds, a project that aims to have photographers help photographers grow, have created a cool illustration that describes the challenges of making photography a career. Enjoy.

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Living Stations of the Cross

St. Bernard School’s eighth grade hosted a Living Stations of the Cross on Holy Thursday, March 28. Here is a photo slideshow from the event.

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Panoramic view of Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel

I used my iPhone 4 and AutoStitch app to create this panoramic view of the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe inside of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., last March. If you’re in the nation’s capital and have never been to the basilica, located on The Catholic University of America campus, make a point to stop in for a visit and even attend Mass. It is worth the visit.

The chapel walls are inscribed with the words, “Who is she who comes forth like the rising dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, like the rainbow gleaming amid luminous clouds, like the bloom of roses in the spring?” The altar inside the chapel depicts the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The walls are mosaic and on both sides show pilgrims coming to venerate her.

I stitched about seven or eight images to create the photo, which is about a 19 MB file. Click on the image to view a larger size.

A panoramic view of the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Basiclica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Click on photo to view large image.

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Late night at Holy Resurrection Monastery

The Easter Vigil is traditionally an extended religious service in the Catholic Church. Roman Catholics are accustomed to spending two hours, often longer, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The liturgy includes additional Scripture readings, along with the sacraments of initiation for new church members.

For Catholics of the western rite persuasion, who shudder at the thought of extended time in church on Holy Saturday, your Eastern rite neighbors, who trace their roots to Constantinople rather than Rome, have news for your: two hours are nothing.

I had the privilege of attending the April 14 celebration of Great and Holy Saturday, also known as the Paschal Vigil, at Holy Resurrection Monastery in St. Nazianz, Wis., about 50 miles south of Green Bay. The Byzantine monastery relocated to Wisconsin last fall from California. The small community of monks, led by their Abbot, Nicholas Zachariadis, has opened its doors to their Roman Catholic neighbors. Indeed, nearly half of those in attendance were Roman Catholics.

The Easter celebration began at 11 p.m. in the monastery’s modest chapel with Nocturns, a recitation of prayers, followed by an outdoor candlelight procession, Matins of Holy Pascha and the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. The service, highlighted by chanting and sung prayers, lasted about three hours. A 2 a.m. breakfast followed the Divine Liturgy.

After sharing in a festive meal, bidding farewell to the monks of Holy Resurrection and making the one-hour drive back to Green Bay, it was 4 a.m. Now that’s what I call a vigil.

Below is a photo slideshow of images from the Paschal Vigil.

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Living Stations of the Cross

Fifth graders at Holy Cross School in Green Bay presented a Living Stations of the Cross for classmates and families April 4. Here are a few photos from the matinee performance.

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