aka 'Canon Corner'

The PCV Photographer...

After a little recent surgery, I was unable to drive but 'volunteered' to take a few happy snaps of the Porsche Club of Victoria track day at Calder Raceway in September.

My plan for the day was only to take pictures for my own 'personal' interest and practice, and share perhaps a few if appropriate. I was a bit daunted when advised during the day that our regular photographer was unavailable and that I would be 'the photographer of record' for the event! No pressure then.... I perched at Turn One and got a few nice shots of some excellent cars and drivers coming through, almost always pointing in the right direction!


I actually enjoyed being an official for the day, signing my life away for a yellow vest and the freedom to wander around any part of track, inside the ropes as it were. Interestingly, the pictures turned out pretty well considering I had the camera on the wrong settings! Aperture Priority instead of Shutter Priority for the moving subjects... I guess the pressure got to me, but the 1D saved my bacon. I really do like this camera. A lot.


More pictures can be found at my Picasa gallery here.

Manfrotto 785B lightweight tripod

As I get more comfortable with the camera(s), I find I am taking better 'technical' shots, correctly exposed and properly focused. Except at long focal lengths or in low light conditions. Anticipating this, I bought my mono-pod and gorilla-pod away on holidays with me only to find, for various reasons, these were not ideal. Being here for a couple of weeks, I decided to take the plunge and buy yet another tripod, this time a lightweight, travel-oriented Manfrotto 785B Modo Maxi tripod. Also in a first for me it has a 'pistol' style tilt / pan head which seems very easy to use.

It is an entry-level, dual still / video device and as such is marginal on weight and balance for my 1D with the 70-200 lens, but much better than either of my current options. And weighs almost nothing, 0.98kg. Given the tripod is so light, pressing the shutter would probably shake the gear, so I have started using my remote cable shutter release.

The heavily cropped picture below was taken at f4.5, ISO 200 at 200mm and 1/250sec at 5.50PM in pretty low light on a late winter's afternoon. The building is at least 1000 metres away and still the 'NorthCliffe' building name is legible on the tower of the brown building. More (and better!) pictures to come, I am sure.

Canon 1D MkIII Initial Thoughts

I have had the new camera for a little over a month now. And I am enjoying using it even more than I thought I would.

Initial impressions are always important. If feels really well balanced when you hold it in your hand. Very comfortable to shoot with, particularly helped by a very 'large' and bright viewfinder. I seem to be able to read the settings easier with the 1D than I can with the 5D.

Robin riding Scooter at Drouin - 2010

Battery life is excellent (as is the 5D) enabling extended shooting sessions without needing to worry about running out of juice. Of course for critical sessions, it is always worth having a spare battery nearby.

Porsche GT1 and Martini Porsche 935 at Bathurst - 2010

I am still learning the camera and related controls, but one setting that has proven valuable so far is the 'AI Servo' focusing system. With some of Robin's riding shots, this function holds the focus really well while I wave the camera around trying to follow the horse's movements. I probably shouldn't be surprised that this works as advertised!

Cowra Japanese Gardens - 2010

Finally, the weight of the camera is really confidence inspiring with respect to it's durability and robustness. I spoke with a working photo journo who was photographing me (!) recently and he was most effusive in his praise of the 1D and it's dust and weather sealing and ability to handle day-in, day-out handling & punishment. Sounds good to me.

Red Sunset at Mt Eliza - 2010

The most praise I can offer on this camera so far is that I want to take it with me everywhere. Nuff said!

When in doubt, upgrade!

It is of course, not really for me. It is for the benefit of Robin and photos of her indoor riding competitions. Well, what is it?

The latest 'black beauty' is a Canon 1D Mk III. Used, but a well cared for, low shutter count example previously owned by a photographer in Sydney. All accessories, plus a spare battery was included in the package. A full review and specifications of the Mk III can be found here.

It is my intention to use it with my existing 'fast' lenses but when funds allow I will get a f2.8, 70-200 IS 'L' lens. It will the perfect combo for the indoor, distance riding shots. Not to mention some nice pics at motor sports events....

Of course all of my existing Canon lenses and memory cards will work, as will the Speedlite 580 EX II. Not sure about the remote trigger yet.

The 5D will of course remain. Robin and I can share / use it. The old, trusty Olympus E-10 will have to go. A sad day as it was my first DSLR and takes great photos with it's excellent fixed zoom lens.

Aperture 3

I was delighted to hear that Apple had refreshed and updated their digital imaging and workflow tool, Aperture, early this year. In this V3 product, the new 'brush' features for image re-touching sound like a worthwhile addition as do the revised library functions. Although I could probably live without the Faces and Places views.

A more detailed review will follow shortly after I acquire a detailed user manual and possibly do some lynda.com online training.

VACS 2010

On the fence - Tatura 2010

Robin was competing at the Victorian Appaloosa Championship Show at the Tatura Showgrounds in Northern Victoria this week and I thought it would be another opportunity to crank up the Canon.

The event was mostly held on an indoor arena with the crowd kept a little back from the arena sides making close-up and detailed shots a little more difficult.

I suspect that I still don't have the right lens for these indoor environments. My f4 24-105 lens being a bit on the slow side and not quite powerful enough to capture shots on the other side of the 30 metre plus wide arena. The 700-200 f2.8 'L' IS lens from Canon would do the job just fine, sadly at a price point somewhat north of $2,000. I spoke to the professional photographer covering the event, and while she was using a Nikon (!), she was using an f2.8 70-200 Nikkor lens but said she wanted the f1.4 version. Her photos must be expensive or else they soon will be!

I am not just a shoddy still photographer, I take really bad video as well. I shot both of Robin's dressage tests with the Sony Handycam, but unfortunately I suspect I didn't do such a great job in the second test as an insect got down the back of my shirt and I don't think the the Sony Image Stabilisation is going to help enough!

As for results, Robin and 'Scooter' had an equal first in the Novice Horse Dressage, a third i the Preliminary Dressage, a second in Showmanship and a number of lesser placings in other events. A great haul of results for their first time out at a State show.

A smile for the camera - Tatura 2010

Frankston Photographic Club Outing

Yesterday the Frankston Photographic Club had it's weekly meeting 'outdoors' at Mothers Beach in Mornington to take advantage of the bay views, seascapes and surrounding cliffs. By my estimates some 40 members and guests turned out on a pleasant January evening.

Your humble correspondent in (futile) action - Photo by Julie Mason 2010

I duly turned up with the Canon 5D and plenty of kit that was too heavy to carry and seemed mostly superfluous. So I put it in the car. As the sun went down, I found I had the wrong lens on the camera, then my tripod seized after some conflict with sand and as I tried to find a 'shot' my recurring issues with composition popped up. Again. Just fabulous! Of course, everyone else was sitting, leaning, composing, clicking, talking, relaxing, enjoying and more.

A few of my 'least worst' shots are attached for information, not ridicule!

Hire Boat Beach Box

Dredge Outlet Pipe

Shallow Rock Pool

Albatross on Weed

The Shallows

I really promise to read more books, talk to more members and do a much better job at representing the FPC in the future!