On Saturday, September 10, 2011 close to 1,000 people turned out on the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine campus in Raleigh, NC to enjoy their annual Dog Olympics. Five days later, after much editing and toning, I am happy to link to my NCSU Dog Olympics gallery at lightsedgeprints.com.
Last week I flew back to Columbia, Missouri to attend my friend August Kryger‘s wedding to Amanda Shea. I flew into Saint Louis on Thursday and the following day, a few hours after consulting with my committee members to figure out the right direction for my master’s project on Asian carp, a tornado touched down at the airport. By the time I flew out on Tuesday, STL was up and running once again, and plywood replaced the glass that had been shattered during the storm.
A brief history of CPS
While I believe that customer service should be important to all businesses great and small, it’s clear that it isn’t always the case. So when a company does something for one of its customers that is above and beyond all expectations, it’s a good feeling. It’s also something that should be recognized by the end customer and held up as an example of loyalty-earning service. There was a lot of complaining two years ago, when Canon Professional Services transitioned into a fee-based, tiered program.
I recall a few people asking why they should have to pay for “better service,” and I scratched my head. The airlines have had a tiered fee structure for years: pay the base rate and sit in coach, but pay them several dollars more, sit in business class, and get better service. Pay even larger sums, and sit in first class with an even greater level of service. I had only been a member of CPS for a year when they changed up the program, but I have to say that I’ve seen only improvements in the past two years. Sure, Nikon Professional Services doesn’t charge (yet), but that’s in part because they’ve cut costs by firing some of their beloved NPS representatives, such as Carol Fisher, who used to represent Nikon at photojournalism programs such as the University of Missouri.
So, for the past two years I’ve paid $100 per year and received a discount of 30% on repairs plus several equipment loans for evaluation.
So what is this all about? Last week I sent in my 550 EX Speedlite that I damaged in a shoot for my Advanced Techniques class in my second semester at MU. It’s sat on a shelf for close to two years after I melted its diffuser from an hour of firing at 1:1 on manual. Before asking, the answer is that I wasn’t thinking at the time. One of the last photographs that the flash helped me to make is at the top of this post. Both of my 550 EX flashes were mounted on light stands and firing against the white walls of the mixed martial-arts gym, Hulett House. Of course an hour of shooting at full power will do bad things. But how bad?
While behaving normally under E-TTL II mode, my 550EX that I had labeled “B” (for grouping purposes in wireless flash with the Canon ST-E2 transmitter) would only fire on full power in manual mode. The photo above shows just how badly the Speedlite had been damaged: both are supposed to be firing at 1/16 power, but the only one doing that is the flash on the left. So, after two years of my 550EX “B” Speedlite working only as a paperweight, I decided to send it in to CPS to be repaired and then sell it to recoup the cost of the repair.
I have an odd hang up about broken gear: ultimately, I’d rather fix it and sell it to someone to recoup the repair costs than to let it rot on the shelf indefinitely. This is what I did a few years ago when I bought an Olympus 21mm lens off of eBay that turned out to be woefully scratched. I sent it into a man out in Colorado who gave it a new lens coating and then sold it, barely making up for the cost of the lens plus its repair.
Last Thursday I packed up the 550 EX and shipped it FedEx to Canon’s Newport News, Virginia factory service center. One of the things I’ve come to appreciate about living in North Carolina is that FedEx Ground will get a package to Canon overnight. On Friday I approved the repair that was estimated to cost far less than I had mentally prepared for: only $77.
On Monday morning I received an e-mail that the factory was out of parts to repair the (discontinued) 550 EX, so they would be replacing it…with a 580 EX Mk. II Speedlite! I am completely convinced this would not have happened had I not been a member of Canon Professional Services.
Today, my Canon-refurbished 580 EX Mk. II arrived…and it doesn’t have a scratch on it. Sure, am I excited that I received a flash that retails for more than $450 by paying $77 and trading in my old unit? Absolutely. But it would have been far easier for Canon to tell me that they don’t have parts any more and simply ship my old flash back to me in its damaged state. This is the kind of thing that makes me think twice about ever switching brands–my loyalty has been earned with time, but it was renewed once more this afternoon when the package arrived.
Well done, Canon. Kudos on raising the bar for CPS!
With a little help from my friends
Yesterday I got one of my favorite kinds of phone calls–the kind that I don’t get often enough–in regards to licensing one of my stock photographs for a National Public Radio story about the divorce rate in the United States and how it has mirrored the fall and rise of the domestic economy. I was more than a little curious how they found that photograph. As I suspected, it turned out that a good friend of mine from graduate school at the Missouri School of Journalism, Mito Habe-Evans–see some of her creative multimedia pieces for NPR–pointed them in my direction!
The second of two images I “rediscovered” while going through photographs for my master’s project. One thing that I noticed throughout that day on the Albert C. was that my shutter speeds were remarkably high all day long–relatively large apertures (for limited depth of field) combined with the all-white ship resulted in a great deal of main and fill light all the time. What was amazing about that was I only needed my flash a couple of times, and even then only inside the pilot house.
In preparation for weaving together a narrative for my master’s on Asian carp, a river flowing the wrong way, and people’s livelihoods caught in the mix, I have been going back over some of my photos for the project, and in the process I have found a couple that I had not toned and ranked only “one star” in Lightroom. This image, and the one I will post tomorrow, is now a three star image storytelling image and shaped up nicely with some simple white point, black point, and curve adjustments.
Scenes from our kitchen
We’ll actually be going over to Carrie and Andy Olson-Manning’s house for Thanksgiving dinner later today. However, while her husband, Andy, prepared the turkey in their kitchen, Carrie and her friend Misty came to our house to make some side dishes while we did the same. Naturally, the dogs came, too!