Author Archives: mjkshots

About mjkshots

capturing moments in time is a ones in a life time opportunity.

DIY off camera flash diffuser,

If your shooting photos with a flash its nice to have a diffuser, with a couple household items you can make a quick, simple, functional flash diffuser for almost free!img_3511flash-diffuser_ph-mike-kotowski

Here is what I did.

Take a clear plastic container with a clear top and trace the front shape of your flash on the bottom of the container.  If your container is not clear trace the flashes outline on the inside.img_3515flash-diffuser_ph-mike-kotowski

Place the container right side up so that the bottom is on a flat hard surface (like a cutting board). Now using a razor knife I find it easiest to make several passes to cut the line earlier traced on the container.img_3519flash-diffuser_ph-mike-kotowski

Using  a paper towel, napkin, tissue or other similar item to be place on the front of the container, close the lid so the paper towel is tightly locked into place.img_3520flash-diffuser_ph-mike-kotowski

Put the new flash diffuser on your flash and take some pictures!img_3529flash-diffuser_ph-mike-kotowski



Adding some flair

At times its hard for me to find creativity in my photography.

More so originality, with millions and millions of amazing photographers shooting and posting great images every day. Latley I’ve felt my photography has gone nowhere, half a**ing shoots and not focusing on a solid project… I was in need of some inspiration and motivation. After reading tons of articles and watching more than a few YOUTUBE videos related to photography, praying to God to motivate me, I finally got an idea that I thought was a bit “off the wall”, and idea that would pull me away from my typical style in hopes to create something new and exciting to me, It worked!

So what did I do to change things? Instead of using a long lens and tracking a fast moving subject. I gathered three tripods, three flashes, Canon camera bodies and a Canon ef 85mm f/1.8 usm lens, an old Canon angle finder B (to get low), a Canon TC-80N3 remote, Vello freewave LR wireless flash triggers, a lawn chair (crucial! To sit and think), and some other odds and ends to turn this new imaginative idea into a compilation of visual reality. I worked alone so it took me a couple hours to complete the shoot wich was nice and calming. Composing the shoot was a lot of work, totally worth it! Happy with the photos I made and really stoked on the new technique, the trial and error was also great fun! In future shoots I hope to create some “NEXT LEVEL IMAGES”, time will tell.

These are some of the shots from the shoot, enjoy.

purple-flower-rain-macro-ph-mike-kotowski purple-flower-rain-macro-crop-ph-mike-kotowski 6D5A9526-copy purple flower-small-_ph-mike-kotowski 6D5A9482-copy-small purple flower_ph-mike-kotowski 6D5A9456-copy-small-purple flower_ph-mike-kotowski 6D5A9441-copy-small-purple flower_ph-mike-kotowski 6D5A9438-copy-purple flower-small_ph-mike-Kotowski 6D5A9437-copy-small-purple flower_ph-mike-kotowski 6D5A9436-copy-small-purple flower_ph-Mike-Kotowski 6D5A9414-copy-small purple flower-ph-mike-kotowski 6d5a9413-purple-flower-rain-macro-crop-ph-mike-kotowski 6d5a9398-purple-flower-rain-macro-crop-ph-mike-kotowski


So if you are feeling stuck or UN-inspired, I suggest you shoot a different discipline of photography.
For instance;
If your a wedding photographer who typically shoots portrait or wide-angle lenses, grab (rent, borrow, buy) a long lens and head to a sporting event, test your timing, speed your ability to track subjects, try to hon in on some other skills that may complement your regular shooting forte.

Your a Studio photographer? Leave those strobes, backdrops and fancy cloths behind, put on some hiking boots, call a friend and get out in nature (be safe and prepared). It is a big world with a lot of natural beauty to see and shoot, Oh and don’t forget your camera!

Landscape photographers I know this ones tough, but how about heading into a busy city? Shooting some street photography during the golden hour? Prepare to see a different world within the same world, you will find city settings have there own beauty, most likely you won’t see any vast fields, flowing waterfalls or stunning sunsets, what you might see is something a lot more moving in the sea of people you pass on the streets.
I suggest doing this as I recently got away from my routine photography for just a day. It has re-ignited the photography flame that burns within me, inspired me enough to post photos and write about it! I have created a new project for myself, also I take away ideas for future projects. I gained a new technique, I will try continue to create and hope that you do the same.

Stay inspired, share the stoke!

-Mike Kotowski



Disclaimer. I am not being paid to do this review so forgive the mistakes and poor job 🙂 I just wanted to throw out some beta on a newer camera and hopefully this review will help someone choose the right camera.

I have been torn between getting a used 1dIV or a brand new 7d2 for long time now. I got a great deal through BHPHOTOVIDEO.COM on the 7d2 and so happy with it.

After only a couple of days of using the New Canon eos 7D MARK II camera I am in love with it!

First a couple things about me.

I have been shooting photos with canon slr systems since my first canon AE-1, after multiple years, and several cameras I got an EOS camera with auto focus! From there moved to the digital SLR world and purchased a DIGITAL rebel , also a used eos 1d that I use often, actually sitting right in front of me. I shot the eos 7d , 1ds , 1d2 and 1ds2 ,rebel xt ,t3 , 5d3 5d2 5d 10d70d a Samsung NX500 also messed with other cameras including a few Nikon bodies, a pile of film bodies, not to mention all the video cameras. I Not going in depth on these cameras but would like you to know that I have used a camera or two in my day…

kodak instamatic 404

Andrew Bennett canon eos 1d2 sigma apo 500mm 4.5

My main focus of photography is action.

I love stopping moments in time, moments that are hard to capture. I enjoy the challenge, but its heartbreaking when you see that moment pass and the camera is still thinking…after years of shooting the eos 1 series, I have been spoiled by the fast AF systems, accuracy color rendition, durability…etc. the 1 series provides. These cameras are amazing and make wonderful images.

So why upgrade?

Higher ISO capabilities in the 7d mark II

That is my main reason being able to shoot in poorly lit situations and getting good shots is really nice, my older cameras at iso-800 or above got noisy. Another reason for upgrading is the ability to shoot video with through my Ef lenses, I am used to built in AF video cameras and really think Canon did a great job incorporating the AF into the 7D mark II, huge in my opinion.

The auto focus

The 7d2 is very intelligent and has so many AF options to choose all are pretty good! My favorite settings AF point expansion (manual selection) or 3×3 It is amazing how well it works! When having my 500mm f4.5L lens , ex12 extension tube and a1.4x tele converter attached to my 7D MARK II I able to use center spot af Single-point AF (manual selection)and able to get more crisp shots than I have ever before! I have not used the 2x on the lens yet, But being that the lens becomes f/9 It wont achieve AF.. I will update the post when I try the300mm 2.8 and 2x tele converter combo, also I will test this cameras further with the 85mm f1.8 usm lens and a 400mm 5.6L lens , 15mm fisheye , and any other lens I can

Image quality
The 20mp sensor. Images look very nice, the colors rendition is accurate, the tones and contrast is good looking. The light meter is accurate, I Set my cameras to spot meter, with my EOS 1NRS or one of the EOS 1D cameras I could look at a scene, check my meter, adjust my settings and get the exposure I was looking for. When using the eos 7D I could never completely trust the light meter, a lot of images would be off the mark. On the new EOS 7D II the light meter is working great! I have fired off quite a few shots, every single one in Manual mode, most are right on the money when it comes to exposure. I don’t think I wont need PS too much with the 7d2.


I won’t be taking my camera into the most extreme conditions, Like putting my new camera in the washing machine or throwing it off a roof… I spent 4 hours in pouring rain, a constant drizzle, never a moment of sunshine, temperature around 50F. Using my DIY camera rainproof BADASS600 (aka old rain slicker) over the 7D2 / 500mm lens , Being in the rain, the camera became a victim to stray raindrops falling from my rain jacket and sideways winds, today was another wet day, a few raindrops fall on my camera, no damage yet.

SIZE, SHAPE and layout

I enjoy cameras either “Gripped” or the large pro bodies. I am waiting on the grip to arrive, so far I actually am digging this camera without the grip. It feels good in my hand and good against my face 😉 possibly my favorite thing so far is the iso button having an added little bump on it, like the “F” and “J”Keys on a computer keyboard, so I know I am pushing the right button without taking my eye out of the Viewfinder or shooting in the dark. The 100% VIEWFINDER IS SO NICE! I love all the illuminated settings shown in the VF, this helps assure my settings are what I want or need. THE NEW “thumb switch control” allows me to choose the right af point and af type in a hurry. The “MODE DIAL” with its new push lock button prevents the dial from accidentally switching settings, but is easy to adjusted 1 handed. I like the feel of the shutter, I never liked the 7d shutter for some reason, always felt my timing was off, but on the 7d mark II my timing with the shutter button feels just right “be one with your camera”. Also I like the placement on the “back-button” (that I use for focusing) I have pretty large hands so I use the * button. but you can customize your cameras buttons to choose the [#] or {x} buttons to be your back button or use your shutter button to focus. The DOF preview button is much larger easier to find on the camera, and in a much more preferable area than on the 7D.


Now were talking! The 7D2 has a slot for a CF card and another for a SD CARD. So far the dual digic 6 processor or has done well. I have shot with 2 cards, a 32bg lexar pro 800x udma 7 card and a sandisk 32gb 80mbs a second card . Here is a list of ways I used them.


RAW+S2 —- RAW+S2



I dont like shooting RAW+JPEG but I am having serious issues with windows codecs and adobe ps not recognizing the cr2 files on my 7d mark II. So that is why I am choosing to

shoot in so many recording options, So far I and happiest with the recording function set to “REC. SEPERATELY” shown here.

record seperatly

This way I get some small jpegs on the net and sample images off to the masses, fast 😉 when I get the bugs worked I will still have my RAW files, I have yet to shoot full raw and large JPEGs because I think its a bit too much. I have been using this camera on continuous HIGH settings (10fps), I have shot burst of up to 18 images in sequence and the processor did a great job, I have not had to wait on the camera. In the past I have missed shots due to my cameras buffering, 7d2 can shoot up to 31 raw and over 1000 JPEGS before buffering!


three days, each day shooting about 500 images, messing with my lcd screen adjusting settings, getting the hang of the new body I burned through 2 separate batteries, One was the original CANON lp-e6n battery I got with the original 7d and the other a generic battery fully charged. I finally installed the new canon lp-e6n battery last night, went through some of the menus, messed with the camera, shoot approx. 200 plus photos today with the camera set to as high as iso-8000 1/6400 sec.using a 500mm lens and 1.4x, a 700mm lens with a ex12 extension tube, I have burned up 1/4 of the new battery, I have used the LCD to check and adjust the camera often. When I had a new battery in my 1DMARK2 I would get around 600 shots off but the batteries were giant! and heavy, the charger was a beast of its own, traveling around will be a walk in the park with the 7d2! Bonus for previous 7d owners, use those batteries and charger! It however is too bad you can NOT use the battery Grip BG-E7 on the new 7d mark II as it requires theBG-E16 , but when do you ever wear your friends pants?

…time to WRAP IT UP


“3” screen clear and colorful.

fast 10fps

buffer depth 31 Raw files

I get crisp usable shots in higher ISO such as 6400



dual cards slots

100% VF


Great layout of the camera’ buttons

GOOD EASY TO NAVIGATE MENU WITH TONS OF Customize-able buttons and shortcuts


center AI AF tracking with a 500mm 4.5 lens and the 1.4x attached.


I didn’t buy it when it first was released.

samples images


great-grey-owl_-ph-mike-kotowski CANON 7D2 EF 500MM 4.5l LENS



In closing the Canon eos 7D MARK II camera body is wonderful, and yes you should get one!

Thank you canon !


Canon FD 800mm F5.6 L lens fungus removal

Warning! Altering camera lenses is unadvised and IS NOT recommended. If anyone should attempt to alter, fix, repair, work on or follow the steps I took to fix my lens I am not to be held responsible  for damages done to  your own lens. THIS BLOG POST ONLY DEMONSTRATES WHAT I DID TO FIX THIS LENS, THIS IS NOT AN INSTRUCTIONAL GUIDE BY ANY MEANS! DO NOT ATTEMPT!



canon fd 800mm f5.6 L LENS _PH-MIKE-KOTOWSKI





Wow! The legendary Canon fd 800mm f5.6L lens! I am so amazed at this lens optical performance and unique focusing design. This lens is a blast and gets 5stars!


Things to fix…Fungus inside the lens, stuck aperture, and the fd mount that was falling apart. Yikes!

I used the lens fist with a canon eos 1d markII camera body as well as a canon 7d, both digital camera bodies were used with the EDMIKA .7 fd-eos adapter which these adapters can be found here on ebay. I highly recommend these adapters for the use with fd lenses as I have used one with the canon fd 500mm f4.5L lens for a couple of years now and it works wonders! They are glassless, allowing optimal optical performance and obtain infinity focus when used on canon eos mount systems. Since the lens had multiple issues and I was forced to shoot everything at F5.6 for a while  that was not always the ideal f-STOP also as it was unsafe to mount a camera to the lens due to the lens damaged mount system it was time to work on this beast.


Cleaning of the first (front) element was the first task I wanted to tackle, as it was the simplest and least daunting, also would show instant results in IQ.

Thankfully the fungus was mainly on the back side of the first element (front element). To remove that element was a bit of work but every bit well worth it. Having over a 5″ diameter I decided to build a spanner type contraption to fit the slots that would allow me to safely remove the first element.

Steps I took to rid the first elements of fungus.


Step 1
measure the diameter of the slots


Step 2
I  marked a 1/2″ piece of plywood at the exact distance for the slots and drove nails into those marks, only allowing approx 3/4″ of the nails to go  through the back side board,  this allowed the nails to have enough depth to go into the slots with just enough room for me to see what was going on. also short enough for the nails to be strong  and not bend or flex while removing the element as it was hard to rotate.(I filed the ends of the nails to a point to act as a cleaner more precise instrument.)

canon-fd-800mm-nails-02-front-element_ph-mike-kotowski                                                   canon-fd-800mm-nails-01-front-element_ph-mike-kotowski

step 3
With cotton swabs soaked in 91% isopropyl alcohol I cleaned around the outside parameter of the element allowing the glues or any buildup to become free, allowing the first (front) element to rotate off easier.



step 4
I carefully and precisely inserted the nails into the slots of the element outer metal ring so that the glass element was not touched or scratched.

step 5
With firm even pressure, assured that the nails are in the slots, I slowly turned the plywood counter-clockwise, removing the element.


Step 6
Wearing lint free gloves and using a plastic knife guiding the lens element I was able to carefully turn the front of the lens down towards the ground, with gravity on my side, so that the element fell out into an opened hand, without touching the 2nd (inner element).




Step 7
Using a DATAVAC ELECTRIC DUSTER ED-500 I blew the lens element clear of any dust and loose debris, then cleaned the lens element with 91% isopropyl alcohol scrubbing the element gently with lots cotton swabs. Later using TIFFEN lens cleaning paper to mop up some liquids, finishing the cleaning of the element with a pearstone lens cleaning cloth and one last blow using the DATAVAC ELECTRIC DUSTER ED-500. These cleaning tools can be found at



Step 8
Making sure the lens element is completely clean and clear I then re-installed the lens element.








 step 9
I mounted my canon eos 1D mark II Dslr camera body and  shot these photos…

canon-800mm-fd-5 6 l_ph-mike-kotowski


















Thanks for checking out my project, stay tuned for a full review of this lens, more repairs and modifications I have done to this lens and others.

-Mike Kotowski


7 Skaters, 1300 Miles, 1 Goal…Skate from Seatle, Washington – Tijauna, Mexico

7 Skaters, 1300 Miles, 1 goal, To skate from Seattle, Washington to Tijuana Mexico. Shredding along the way! Traveling with 40lbs + packs on there backs and pushing 4 wheels, these guys are gnarly! I meet the crew at Rampart skatepart in Arcata, Ca. I was lucky enough to get a session in with these guys, hear some epic stories (like the 7 mile hill bomb) and fire off a couple shots between runs. They estimate its going to take them another month and a half of to make it down the the Mexican border.


Remember these guys the next time you get in the car to drive down the street instead of skating to the liquor store.