Summer Edition of "Mile Markers" newsletter

August 10, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

"Mile Markers!"  That's what we call our newsletter from Mountaineer Photo Excursions.  If you're on our mailing list, you should have already received it in your email box.  If not, please share your email address on our Contact page, with the subject "Newsletter," and we'll add you to our contact list.  Read on for some tips on equipment, planning your own photography trips, and information on our upcoming excursions!

Refurbished Equipment: To Buy or Not To Buy?

A common question we get at Mountaineer Photo Excursions is whether to buy or not buy refurbished gear? The answer is almost always “YES! Buy Refurbished if you can.”

Manufacturers including Nikon, Canon, Sony, Sigma, and Tamron, as well as many others, give photographers the opportunity to buy factory refurbished items such as camera bodies and lenses. What exactly does refurbished mean? Refurbished means a product that has been removed from its original packaging, therefore cannot be sold as new. Refurbished items are commonly display items from tradeshows, showrooms, or stores, while others were demo items that were used by sales and tech representatives, reviewers and the like; some might have been returns resulting from something as simple as buyer’s remorse or damaged packaging, to a minor defect or some other problem that requires correction.

Actually in some ways, refurbished items are better than new! Manufacturers clean, inspect, and if necessary repair refurbished gear to new equipment specifications and they do so with a more critical eye. These products are then put through even more stringent quality control testing than they did when they were new. After being re-packaged, many companies advertise refurbished items in a special section on their website or they send them to select dealers who are allowed to sell factory refurbished products. Cosmetically, most items are in like-new condition, and some manufacturer’s offer warranty’s as long as one year to 90-days.

“Manufacturer refurbished” items are significantly different than “used” items (trade-ins from photographers) which are usually advertised with a condition scale: Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor. Make sure the item you are considering is a manufacturer refurbished item and not “used” before you buy, used equipment usually do not have the same return policy on them or warranty.

How much can you save? Most refurbished items, depending on the product, are priced somewhere between that of a new item and its used counterpart minus the wear-and-tear of the used item. Usually, the discount is about 20% less than the cost of new.

If you buy a refurbished item direct from the manufacturer or a reputable distributor, buying a manufacturer refurbished body or lens is as safe as a buying one new, except, that you can pick up ‘refurbs’ at sometimes a very substantial discount!

Refurbished Equipment - Manufacturer Websites:

Canon :



Tamron: No refurbished listing

Reputable Dealers of Refurbished Equipment



Excursion Tips: 
No time or money for a week long summer vacation? How about a ‘daycation’ or a weekend away close to home?

-Check out your State and Local Parks. They’re usually free for a day trip! Some Parks may have a minimal “day-use” fee.  For overnight stays, “Resort” parks offer a number of different types of accommodations as well as other amenities such as on-site dining facilities. These larger parks also have a number of different programs and activities such as ranger or naturalist guided hikes. Smaller state parks may have a lodge, rentable cabins, or camping facilities. Many parks offer discount lodging and packages, especially during the weekdays and off-peak travel times, sign up for their newsletter to be the first to know about upcoming specials.

-There are plenty of free and low cost attractions from grist mills and covered bridges to caves and waterfalls. Use Google, to search a place, town, or city that you are interested in and see what sights are located nearby.


-Get in the car, pick a route you have never been on and just drive! You never know what unique sights you might find off the beaten path.

-Speaking of camping, ready to get away from it all? Are you entirely too connected? Do you need a break from cell phones, television, the internet, the kids, work, and just everyday life? Grab a tent, a sleeping bag and your honey, and spend an evening or weekend away from it all! Look for a local mountain lake, pitch your tent and after a day of hiking or exploring other attractions, you and your special someone can spend a quiet summer’s eve, looking at the milky way or counting fireflies!

-Think out of the box, see if you can find privately owned cabins or if you plan on staying at a hotel, make your travel plans for during the week. Take a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday off and runaway! Prices will definitely be cheaper and there’s more likelihood that you can find cabins and hotels with vacancies than on a Friday or Saturday night. You are likely to encounter less people at sights and attractions too!


What’s Ahead?

Amanda and Ron have been doing some research and some traveling, in order to find those hidden gems and familiar locations, and looking for ways to develop them into outdoor photography classrooms.  We currently have venues planned into 2019, with a few past favorites that will be making a return, and several new ones! 


We participated in the Mountain State Photographers’ Conference, on Saturday, July 30, in Ripley, WV.  Mountaineer Photo Excursions had a booth at the Conference, and Amanda taught “Fabulous Filters!”  Ron was the Conference Chairman, and internationally known photographers Jim Clark and Adam Jones were the featured speakers.  To stay updated on future Conference information, visit the Charleston Camera Club’s page:


We will “Get Tucker’d” in August, and will visit Tucker County in West Virginia, for our Summer Photo Workshop at Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, WV.  Other locations will include Canaan Valley Resort State Park, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, and various spots in Tucker County.  We’ll be searching for wildlife, hiking down hills to see waterfalls, and waiting for sunsets in the mountains during August 26 – 28.


We’ve talked with our friend, Trinity Shepherd, the Naturalist at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg, KY.  You may recall, they experienced a fire that severely damaged the May Lodge, including the restaurant.  Trinity says the good news is that they are operational, while repairs continue, and the lodging areas are not affected.  We will have some exciting activities, but will definitely include our Elk Tour and the Eagle Cruise on Dewey Lake.  We’ll see you at Jenny Wiley on October 14 – 16.


We’ll be posting our Winter 2017 Workshop soon, as well as our plans for Spring next year.  Please make plans to join us on one or more of our fun, exciting and educational trips!  Contact us at our NEW email, [email protected].  Learn more at our website,   Please be sure to “Like” our Mountaineer Photo Excursions page on Facebook.  If you know someone who would enjoy knowing about our Workshops, please share this blog with them!  We hope to see you soon at one of our workshops!


Ron Gaskins

August 10, 2016 


January (1) February (2) March April May (1) June (1) July (1) August (2) September October (1) November December
January (2) February March (3) April (7) May June July August September October (1) November December (1)
January February March April May (1) June July August (1) September October November December
January (1) February March (1) April May June July August September October November December
January February March April May June July August (1) September (1) October November December
January February March April May June July August September October November December
January (1) February March (1) April (1) May June July (1) August (1) September October November (1) December
January February March (1) April May June July August (1) September October November December