Tuesday, October 27, 2009

VW Van Farewell, Canon's new 24 Tilt-Shift lens and Twitter

Much to tell you since the last post!

Above photo: "Turtle" and I on the Texas coast in April.

I've parted ways with "Turtle", my VW Westfalia van/home for the past year. Why the name "Turtle", you ask? It was my shell, providing refuge from intense desert sun, frigid nights and coastal downpours during my travels. And like most VW Westy vans, it was very slow... especially on hills!

Turtle and I had a love/hate relationship, exploring incredible landscapes but also stopping frequently to share my life savings with repair shops. A young couple bought the van yesterday to begin their own journey southwest. Lucky for them, most of the major repairs have been completed!

Above photo: Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II lens

With some extra cash in my pocket from selling the van, I bought the new Canon 24mm Tilt-Shift lens yesterday. There have been some great reports about this lens from other photographers (FYI, I never buy a piece of camera gear as soon as it's released... I wait for several months until its been tested by others). 

There are a couple of huge benefits of Tilt-Shift lenses for landscape and outdoor adventure photography: 
-not distorting objects such as lighthouses, trees or people (which 'bend' with typical wide angle lenses)
-more depth of field... allowing for faster shutter speeds and sharper images because you are able to shoot at optimal apertures such as f/8 or f/11 and still get full depth-of-field.

Expect to see some images with the new lens in coming posts.... I can't wait to get out shooting with it!

Incidentally, I would have preferred the extra wide focal length of  Canon's new 17mm TS lens, but the front lens is convex, so it's not possible to put a polarizer on it. Darn!

Twittering? Yes, it was only a matter of time before I'd get with the times and start twittering. Click this link to stay current with what I'm up to: Follow Ethan on Twitter

Thanks and happy shooting!


  1. I miss that van already. The way it brought down property value was excellent.

    I look forward to the 24 TS samples.

    I will follow you on twitter... return the favor.

  2. Au contraire, Craig.... those things are sought after vehicles. When parked in your driveway, you have a guesthouse!

  3. Ethan, you should have looked into a Subaru engine swap for your van - a roughly 50% increase in power, 20% improvement in fuel economy, and a bullet-proof engine design. The swap we did on our 88 Westfalia was expensive, but had we done it sooner it probably would have paid for itself in head gasket repairs alone. Now we can drive the Westy just like a normal vehicle - even up hills!

  4. Hi Cliff, if I could start over I'd probably have bought a brand new mini van and custom rigged it as a quasi-camper. Or considered a Subaru engine swap like you did. I didn't know enough about Westys at the time, nor did I expect to spend so much on repairs and maintenance!

    The mechanic who did the head replacement in Tucson has an 88 Westy he put a Subaru engine and Porsche transmission in. He took me for a spin and was able to squeal the tires... never thought I'd see a Westy capable of that!!

  5. Anonymous10:47 PM

    That is an awesome lens! One of my friends has it and uses it for some really cook HD Vid w/ the 5D Mark II. Looking forward to the new shots...

  6. You will undeniably miss your van down the track. I miss mine.
    Just stumbled across your blog and am now looking forward to seeing the 24mm tse put to use

  7. The Westy is gone - how depressing.

    However, I do know the good folks in Nova Scotia would like to thank you for adding to the economic growth of the province.

    I am quite sure that if I was starting all over again, I would probably lean toward the Dodge Sprinter (high roof) and custom build the interior. This will surely start a great debate!

  8. Dale, I love the Sprinter and it would be a top choice. The only downsides I see are initial price, height (for backroads overhung by trees) and practicality for daily use (when not on road trips). If I could start over again, I'd buy a mini van and outfit it with a bed and storage. Although this wouldn't be as comfortable for travel as a true RV, it would be affordable and versatile - given that you could pull the camping stuff out and still have a vehicle for everyday use.