Tag Archives: Camera

Something Different, An RV Adventure!

This post is going to be a little different because I’m going to talk about our recent RV trip (with just a little photography thrown in).

Our usual June schedule is to get in the RV and go to Prescott, Arizona to visit family.  We spend a few days there, and then return home.  This year we also had family spending a few days in Mammoth Lakes, California within a couple of days of our planned Arizona departure.  So, we decided to connect the two trips together to make it one grand adventure!

Another difference between our 2015 Arizona trip and this year’s trip was we got a new motorhome.  Our previous motorhome was a 29 foot Class C, and this year we have a 33 foot Class A.

Maverick, 2006 29ft Class C Motorhome by Georgie Boy/Coachman

Goggins, 2006 33ft Class A Motorhome by Fleetwood

There are quite a few differences between the two motorhomes, including size.  Goggins (a name we borrowed from our Grandson) is built on a W22 Workhorse chassis, is 33 feet long, has 2 slideouts and has much more storage than Maverick.  Maverick was built on a Ford E-450 Truck/Van chassis and didn’t have any slideouts.

Driving Goggins is a much different experience than driving Maverick.  At almost 13 feet high, Goggins presents quite a large flat surface going down the road, kind of like a billboard.  So, when it gets windy or large trucks pass me, I can really feel it.  Nothing unsafe, but it can really get your attention and keep you on your toes!

Here’s a look at our route:

Our adventure started in Fontana, California, across the desert (during a heatwave) to Prescott, Arizona. From Prescott, we continued on for an overnight stay in Boulder City, Nevada. It was still very hot in Boulder City, and we had the longest leg of our journey across the Nevada desert to Mammoth Lakes, California. Before we headed home, we spent a couple of days in Lone Pine, California.

Just before we got under way, I was able to purchase an RV specific GPS, the Garmin RV 760LMT. The Garmin 760 is a decent GPS, and it’s larger size makes it easy to see on the large dashboard of Goggins. I was able to connect it to my Mac using the supplied software and download all of my routes and waypoints. I could have included the route as well, but opted not to, and let the GPS do that from waypoint to waypoint. There’s not much else to say about it, except that I didn’t rely solely on it for planning our trip. There are a lot of trip planning tools out there, but I found Good Sam’s Trip Planner does a very good job. The other tool that I used a lot was Google Maps. For each leg of the trip, I used Google Maps to locate gas stations, and shifted to Street View to verify that it was suitable for an RV the size of Goggins.

The grand total in milage was just over 1,200. This was by far our longest RV trip to date. As I already mentioned, we crossed many miles of desert. We also had the opportunity to do quite a bit of climbing up some very steep grades. At 33 feet long, Goggins is quite heavy at approximately 20,000 pounds, not to mention that we also tow our Honda CR-V. I have to say that I’m very impressed with the Workhorse Chassis. Goggins is powered by a Chevy Vortec 8.1 liter engine and has an Allison transmission, and the combination worked quite well. The only downside that I can think of is that at times there is quite a bit of noise. It doesn’t help that we are sitting right on top of the engine and transmission, but the main noise maker is when the clutch fan kicks in. And, since we were in the middle of a heat wave and doing a fair amount of climbing mountains, the fan kicked on a lot!

As the temperature rose outside, I started off by using the dash air. It worked adequately for awhile, but as we got further into the desert, between Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona the thermometer climbed to 120. In order to keep the inside of the coach somewhat comfortable, I started the generator and turned on both of the roof air conditioners. This strategy actually worked well, that is until we got onto some rough roads. Once we got off of Interstate 10 and on some two lane secondary roads heading to Congress, Arizona, we pitched and bounced around enough that the carburetor on the generator flooded out. I pulled over and was able to get it running again, but the road didn’t change and it just stopped again. Luckily we were gaining elevation and the temperature was slowly dropping from 120 down to 100. I know, that still seems very hot, but the drop was enough for the dash air alone to keep us comfortable.

Moving from a Maverick (Class C) to Goggins (Class A) with its 2 slide outs was a huge difference when we are parked. We have quite a bit more storage, both inside and a lot more leg room! We can stretch out, the dogs can play, and we aren’t bumping into each other constantly. It’s amazing what a couple of slide outs will do! One of the other little luxuries we now enjoy is a powered awning. In the past, Maverick’s manual awning did provide shade, but it was always a pain to put it up when a sudden wind came up. There were plenty of times during our 9 years with Maverick that a pleasant day turned to night, and we went to bed with the awning out (but tied down). Then, seemingly out of nowhere a heavy wind came up and started pulling on the awning and shaking us awake. So, I pulled on my clothes, jumped outside in the dark and worked to get the awning put away before the wind did any damage. Now, with Goggins I simply push a button, and the awning rolls up without a fuss!

From my ramblings above, you’d think the trip was only about driving Goggins. As I mentioned, we did visit with family, both in Prescott and Mammoth Lakes. We saw some beautiful scenery, drove through some very interesting little towns like Goldfield, Nevada, and had some fun hiking and playing golf! I was also able to sneak in some photography now and then.

So, I know this website is dedicated to photography, and you’re probably wondering what this post has to do with that. Actually, not much! RV’ing, spending time with family, spending time in nature are also passions of mine. I did mention that I was able to sneak in some photography time, and I’ll cover that in another post. The only thing I will say is that I used my LG-G4 cell phone’s camera for all of the photos in this post. Yes, I did have my other cameras with me, but there were many times when all I had was the cell phone. The LG-G4 did a pretty good job overall. I used Snapseed to edit my photos once they were on the phone, and I have Google Photos set up to automatically back up every shot I take. It works great and is something you should consider.

That’s it for this post. I’ll get back to photography next time. In the meantime, get out there and make some memories!

FZ1000 Air Show Performance

It’s been over 1 year since I first wrote about using my Panasonic FZ1000 at an air show, specifically the Planes of Fame Air Show in Chino, California.  I had just purchased the Panasonic GX8 prior to this air show and brought my FZ1000 along as backup.

The GX8 seems like a great camera, and I did manage to get some good results using it.  But, while it has a lot of features and functions, it also has a learning curve, and I planned very poorly trying to use and learn it during the air show.

This is where the FZ1000  came in to save the day!  The FZ1000 may not be small, but it is light, and operates very quickly.  There is no need to change the lens, and that alone can be stress relieving.  Simply turn it on, make your setting changes, zoom in or out, and fire away!

Now, I don’t want to give the wrong impression.  Not every shot was a keeper.  When a plane would pass in front of the crowd, I would start panning, then lock focus and fire a few frames, then repeat.  Sometimes I would get caught up in the moment, and fire off too many frames and bog the camera down.  Even with a fast SD card, there was definitely a limit on how many frames you could shoot.  It needs to be noted that I shoot RAW, and the files are larger and bog things down more quickly.  When this happened, I had to wait for the camera to process the files before I could shoot again.

The GX8 also has a limitation on how many RAW files (or jpegs) you can fire off in a burst before you bog things down.  The limit is just higher with the GX8.

I don’t want to talk too much about the GX8.  If you are interested, I have 2 previous posts devoted to this subject and welcome you to check them out here, and here.

Some of the talk about the FZ1000 at an event like this revolve around the limitation of the 400mm lens.  Personally, I don’t find this to be a limitation.  It helps me stop trying to get shots of planes that are simply too far away to get a decent picture.  Not only does every little movement magnify when you’re zoomed out, but the atmosphere itself can work against you,  at least at this air show. When I’m zoomed out I can see the heat waves rising off of the pavement, and the distortions in the air can ruin a photo (unless that’s the look you were going for).  Perhaps there are air shows in other areas that don’t have this problem, but this is normal for an arid area like Chino California.  If the planes are too far away for a decent picture, I put the camera down and enjoy the show, and wait.

Another issue is cropping, and yes, I do a bit of cropping.  Having a RAW file size of 5472 pixels x 3548 pixels allows a little room for cropping, the trick is not cropping too much.  I generally don’t look at my files at over 100%, but have been pleased with them when I do happen to view them at higher resolutions.

There is the other end of the lens that I use quite a bit as well, the wide part.  The FZ1000 lens can go to 25mm at its widest point.  This can come in handy when you are trying to fill the frame with your subject.  There is some distortion, but it is easily worked out during post processing.

My FZ1000 continues to be one of my favorite cameras.  It is absolutely the most versatile camera I have ever owned.  And, it doesn’t matter to me that it has a 1″ sensor, the picture quality has matched or exceeded with I could do with my old Canon 60D.  I’ll be keeping, and using my FZ1000 for a long time!

And now for the results:

That’s it for now, thanks for looking and until next time – Happy Shooting!

Panasonic GX8 and Air Show, Part 2

The Planes of Fame Air Show has come and gone. Sunday was a fun day and always a pleasure being able to attend the show at sunrise.  The Sunrise Photo Pass isn’t cheap, but is worth it to me.  Not only do I gain access to the planes sleeping on the tarmac, I also get preferred parking!

In my previous post, I gave some of my initial impressions of the GX8, and included my FZ1000 as well.  I am beginning to think that my FZ1000 is simply the best, most versatile camera I have ever owned.  I wouldn’t dream of attending an air show without it, especially since I only had my GX8 for a few days before the event and wasn’t used to it yet.  But this post is about the GX8 so I won’t keeping gushing on about the FZ1000.

Before I go any further, I want to be clear, this is not an in-depth review of the GX8. There are plenty of other websites and Youtube videos available covering that. This is just my opinion on using the GX8 in an action photography event. I also won’t be going into too much detail on settings, technique, etc… If you are interested in any of that, go to my post called “Aviation Photography for the Average Joe“. Just click the link and it will take you there, and as a bonus, you can download my PDF/e-book covering this topic (don’t worry, its free).

After spending a couple of days with my GX8, I’m both impressed with it and frustrated by it.  The GX8 has an impressive set of features, and I probably should have planned my purchase better so I wasn’t trying to learn the camera during the air show.  Unfortunately while the timing wasn’t great, the price of the camera was!  I got my gently used GX8 for several hundred dollars less than the full retail price.  My purchase was for the body only (I already have several lenses) and everything was packaged in the original box and looked brand new!

The performance of the GX8 was impressive, especially compared to my Olympus E-M5.  As much as I love the image quality of the E-M5, I continued to struggle with it at fast action events like an air show.  Yes, I was able to make it work, but it was a pain in the ass to say the least.  I’ve written about my experiences with the E-M5 in previous posts and you’re welcome to browse those if you’re interested.  And, since I already have invested in several M43 lenses, I was looking to find a body (Olympus or Panasonic) that could make use of them.

To be successful with your photography at an air show, you really need to hone your technique.  Good panning skills are essential and the process doesn’t change no matter what camera system you are using. The GX8 was no different.  I tend to use Shutter Priority most of the time at these events.  Slow shutter speeds are required for propeller planes and faster shutter speeds are for jets.  I went back and forth between the auto focus single and auto focus continuous setting and from a single focus point to multiple points.  This is where the frustration came into play.  With the touch screen activated, my nose kept moving the focus points around, and it usually always happened at the worst possible time, while I was trying to grab some actions shots of the planes passing by.  Sometimes the focus points weren’t too far off and the camera would achieve focus properly, but many times it was way off and the focus would be locked onto something entirely different than the plane I was following.

I want to be fair and not blame the camera, but rather myself.  I didn’t have enough time to figure out all of the settings and functions of the GX8 before the air show, and was learning as I went along.  When I got too frustrated I put the GX8 away and grabbed my FZ1000.  The FZ1000 just seems to do everything right.  I know, it has a smaller sensor, and a fixed zoom lens that only reaches out to 400mm (FF equivalent), but it works quite well in spite of its limitations.

By the end of the air show, I was able to tweak the GX8 enough to get some very decent shots.  The main thing that worked for me was to turn the touch screen off completely.  I’m sure that there is a way to keep the touch screen on and not move the focus points around accidentally, but for now I’m just going to leave it off.  I just need a little quiet time with the camera to figure out all of its secrets!

Here are some of the results from the air show.  Keep in mind that I shoot RAW and post process all of my images.  My normal process includes adjusting the contrast, color, and sharpness in Photoshop CS6 and Perfect Effects 9.  Sometimes I will convert the image to black and white for a vintage look and feel.

I hope the examples give you an idea of what the GX8 is capable of. Overall, I found it to be a solid, well built tool and I’m looking forward to spending time with it and using it for many years!

That’s it for now, until next time – Happy Shooting!