Steve's Web Site

A History of my Photography

Other Gear


SLIK Tripod

    This tripod is one of my oldest pieces of equipment that I am the original owner of. I bought it in 1972 to replace the previous tripods that had each lasted about a year. I originally used it with my Pentax Spotmatic. It is an aluminum tripod with the legs braced to the center column. This is the most rigid form of tripod. It originally had a pan/tilt head that was tightened and released by turning the control arm. This head has a panoramic base allowing 360 degree rotation. To made up for the lack of cross-level control I added a ball head between the pan/tilt head and the tripod body. In this form I have used this camera with many cameras through the years from 35mm up through 4X5. My children learned to hate it when they had to carry it for me but it still works well today.


Losmandy G11 Equatorial Mount.

Side view of the Losmandy G11 Equatorial Mount. The telescope is mounted in the dovetail mount at the top. The oval covers house the drive motors. the small rectangular boxes are position encoders and the main axis has a telescope mounted in it for alignment with the North Star.

    A telescope is just a long focal length lens. There is no diaphragm for light control but since they tend to be rather slow and the night sky contains few really bright objects, it is not needed. It does require a steady mount because at long focal lengths every movement and vibration is greatly magnified. Add to that everything in the sky is moving. The stars move at one rate, The moon moves at another and the Sun moves at a third rate. If you want to take pictures of the objects in the night sky a solid dependable telescope mount is a necessity. While a fork mount can track objects reasonably well, for any period of time longer than a few seconds this a rotation of the field. One way to solve this problem is to use an equatorial mount. An equatorial mount has on axis the point to a pole - the north pole in the northern hemisphere. by rotating on this axis in the opposite direction to the earths rotation the sky stands still in the telescope's field of view. A second axis is provided at right axis to the polar axis to allow movement all over the sky.

    My Losmandy G11 mount is a solution to the problem of finding a good mount. It can handle up to sixty pounds of equipment, It's easy to align with a telescope with a special reticule mounted in the polar axis, the drive system is very accurate, and it looks like a piece of sculpture done in black anodized aluminum and stainless steel. I bought the mount used  from a member of the local astronomy club who was buying a much more expensive mount. He had already equipped it with nearly all the available upgrades and accessories so I didn't need to buy much else to use it. I just needed a mounting plate for my telescope and that was it. The former owner had mounted two refractors on it and it came with two twenty pound counterweights. With just my telescope on the mount I found that one counterweight was  too much, but rather than buy a lighter counterweight I simply added more gear onto the scope. The mount came with the standard drive system. Several sources offered goto systems you could add to the mount, but I stuck with using the digital setting circles and the standard mount. At present time the maker of the mount offers a goto upgrade but I no longer need it.



Bowens Illumitran

Bowens Illumitran with Contrast control unit.

    If you have a lot of old Black and White negative or color slides this can be a handy gadget. Originally designed for slide duplicating, when used with a digital camera it can make short work of digitizing. The unit contains both a tungsten light source for focusing and a strobe for exposure, but if you set the digital camera's color balance to match the tungsten bulb you can use it alone. The light sources are mounted on a tray that is raised and lowered by the large black knob on the front. The flash has to power levels for flexibility, but takes several seconds to recycle. The units originally came with a bellows mounted to an arm above the unit. It took interchangeable adapters for different cameras and lenses and many came with Schneider enlarging lenses. Mine came set up for Olympus OM series cameras and lenses, so I gave it to a friend who had some old Olympus gear and removed the mounting arm. I use a copy stand with it and I can move the Illumitran with the slide around on the base of the copy stand for positioning.


2002 Ford F250

My F240 in Anza Borrego State Park

    To get places off the beaten track to take picture I needed something that could handle rougher terrain than my van. The van had gotten stuck on me several times so I wanted a vehicle with four wheel drive. My van was also twelve years old and was starting to wear out. I also wanted something that could tow a fifth wheel. This monster was the result. The silver color help reflect the suns heat in hot weather, and reduces the load on the air conditioning. I bought it with a 6.8 liter V-10 gasoline engine rather than the available diesel engine to have the capability for engine braking without add-ons. The cab is a super cab meaning it has fold up seats behind the front row and fold out doors for access to the rear area. The rear bed is eight feet long and I had a Rhino Lining spayed on to protect the inside. I have never gotten stuck again.


1990 Fleetwood Prowler Fifth Wheel

My RV setup at Portrero Regional Park

    Once I had a truck I needed a fifth wheel to go with it. For those who don't know what a fifth wheel is it is a type of trailer that attaches to a hitch in the bed of a pickup truck over the rear axle. This gives much better stability than with a conventional trailer. The down side is that you need a pickup truck to tow it.

    This little unit can sleep up to 6 adults and one child. It has a stove with oven, a refrigerator/freezer that runs off of propane or 110V, a microwave and a bathroom with shower. To keep the interior comfortable it has a furnace and air conditioning. All the comforts in a compact space.