aka 'Canon Corner'

I have been out and about

Over the last few months, I have been reasonably busy as the 'photographer in residence' for my wife's quarter horse riding club and some portrait work for a friend's book cover.

As for the riding club, the pictures have been nothing special, frankly a bunch of happy snaps of enthusiastic amateur riders learning and rehearsing their skills. Three or four of these outings have at least sharpened my camera settings, holding and focusing skills, even if the output is somewhat modest. Although I must say the riders have been grateful that at least someone is photographing them and they have a record of sorts of the day(s).

827C8006
A man and his horse - 2017

My friend wanted a quick portrait for inclusion on the cover sleeve of his upcoming business book. Requested with some notice, I had a chance to 'practice' first with a football in a large trophy (!), then moved on to a couple of self portraits using the shutter release. I was actually somewhat pleased that I had remembered much ( but not all) of what I learned in Creative Flash Workshop course and was able to broadly apply it.

60340194_Cover Proof.6917404
The Cover - 2017

Do yourself a favour and run, don't walk, to your eDevice and pick up a copy of this book in Kindle format from Amazon here. Your life will benefit from the read.

The finished product - 2017
RW-1-170312
Who is a pretty boy then? - 2017

An important photographic opportunity is always a good time to justify new gear so I purchased an Orbis Ring Flash adapter. After some practice, I used it quite confidently and it does to the shadowless portrait thing admirably. We decided that this more 'staid' look was appropriate for the book rather than the dramatic 'shaded' off-camera flash style that I have concentrated on previously.

url
Orbis Ring Flask Adapter (source - Orbis)

I hope to have some better photos to share soon, but at least I am getting out and shooting again, and that can only help me become a better photographer. Still need to improve my compositions skills however.

GJH-1-170310
The years haven't been kind - 2017

Creative Flash Workshop

My good friend Rod recommended I attend a Creative Flash Workshop run by Glyn Lavender, a photographic professional that Rod had met before. Agreeing that my skills needed improving across a range of techniques, I committed to attend. Then thought nothing more about it.

The day duly arrived and after some navigational issues to find the studio in inner suburban Footscray, I settled in hoping for a useful day. Fair to say that my expectations were blown away.

_64A2388
Model Natalie Hill - 2016

Our teacher, Glyn, is a creative portrait photographer running corporate shoots around the world including travel tours plus local Australian workshops. He is clearly knowledgeable but able to be simple, clear and consistent with his instructions to his students. Personally, I had purchased a number of books to assist me with Canon flash usage and techniques. Well, no. they were border line useless. They told me WHAT to do, but gave me no clue re WHY or WHEN. That is where Glyn's instruction was so pivotal. I won't give away his secrets here but if you find flash exposure challenging (that's probably 99% + of photographers) then I suggest you look him up.

A couple of hours of theory (which sounds dry but truly flew by) was followed by a light lunch then practical application of methods learned with the assistance of a professional model.

Our model, Natalie Hill was hard working, patient and good humoured which helped the students relax and just take photos and apply the instruction. Thank you Nat!

_64A2381
Monochrome w/model Natalie Hill - 2016


The proof of the pudding is how much of the deployed knowledge 'sticks' with the student, but the teaching methods and re-enforcement through practical application gives me some confidence that the results will be somewhat repeatable when I leave Glyn's environment.

Thanks to the fellow students, Nat and Glyn for a great day!

The getting of (photographic) wisdom....

Robin and I decided that it would be a good idea to get some education improve our photographic skills and technique. After a couple of schedule conflicts, we finally locked in a two hour introductory DSLR manual settings training session with professional photographer, Penny Koukoulis.

thumb__64A1156_1024
Melbourne's iconic Block Arcade - 2015

Our session was a combination of tuition sitting in the lobby of a luxury city hotel and a street walk putting some of the new techniques into practice.

Penny is very committed to ensuring her students understand 'why' the camera and it's settings work not just the 'how' to configure the camera for specific light and locations. The next piece of learning for me was to understand that I need to slow down and 'think' about what I was about to do with the camera, not just fire off a random set of captures and hope that at least one picture turned out OK. This was a real challenge for me, but luckily Penny had a process or a memory jogger to share with me to run through in my head before every shot. I need to practice more until much of this becomes routine but I sense the beginning of a new dawn of photography for me.

So in order to practice, Robin and I headed off to Crib Point where there is an old submarine lying a few hundred metres off shore. It was very windy and the boat was distant but just the discipline of getting out and thinking through the processes and settings was helpful and they are just starting to become a little more natural.

827C7562-Edit
HMAS Otama - 2015

The next step is to find decent subjects at the right time of day. So I did pop out early-ish one morning when the light looked quite nice and took a few shots of the garden and property. Nothing special, but the start of a more considered and planned approach to capturing interesting and decent images.

_64A1168
Morning light - 2015

We both enjoyed our session with Penny very much, and when we think we are ready for more information and knowledge I am sure we will contact her again and either do more 1-on-1 sessions or attend one of her structured Melbourne city laneway or night photography tours.

Studio Portrait Workshop

I attended a Studio Portrait Workshop yesterday, organised by the Frankston Photographic Club. The event was held at the professional studio of club member Greg Desiatov in Dandenong South. The studio has three main configurable spaces for use. Greg had arranged for 12 attendees (in two groups of six), with two models, multiple costume changes and a supporting stylist. Plenty of action was in store for the next four hours. Some 610 shots later…

RW-1-150823-4
Studio white space - 2015

The problem with having professional models is that they expect a professional photographer. They expect you to know what you are doing technically, have a sense artistically and the confidence to translate that into direction to the model in terms of pose, light and animation.

Then there was me. I stammered when I introduced myself and probably mumbled something about 'your best looks' left and right to start and we'll see…'. Cue embarrassment. Then, when I made a rookie settings error that turned fifteen pictures totally BLACK, my confidence fell even further.

Stepping back and letting others have a turn, I re-grouped sorted the camera and had some better sessions after that. The quality of the setups and lighting (power and direction) made the photos almost too easy to take. Pixel peeping on the screen on the back of my camera I was initially worried about the general sharpness of my hand-held pics. But once at home, I needn't have worried. I got enough 'decent' shots to make me really happy and thanks to Greg & Craig my knowledge of light and the studio process has gone up immensely.

RW-1-150823-3
'Parasol' w/Kathleen - 2015

Some of the better shots from the day can be found on my Flickr Gallery here. Thanks to the models Kathleen and Rebecca for their hard work and patience, stylist Michelle and Greg and Craig for putting on such an enjoyable and educational afternoon.

Pasted Graphic 1
Little ol' me? w/Rebecca - 2015

Hello Lightroom, goodbye Aperture

The time has come. I need to make the switch. I know Apple to Adobe is bad, but it could be worse if I had to move from Canon to Nikon….

I received a 12 month subscription to lynda.com last year for my birthday and I have used it learn the finer points of my Canon 5D Mk111 and some Speedlight flash photography instruction.

I should say, I bought LR3 a little while ago, upgraded to LR4 the following year and received a free copy of LR5 with my Leica P&S purchase a couple of years back. And that is the version I currently have, upgraded to current release 5.7. To be honest apart from playing, and finding it way different to Apple's Aperture, the icon stayed pretty silent in the dock of my MacBook Pro.

But with an inevitable move to Lightroom being necessary sooner or later, I figured I had better jump on board now while I still have access to my training subscription.

I am fairly proficient in Aperture and don't have a workflow per se. I just import my images, hop in and edit, publish online somewhere (website or Flickr) and get out. Lightroom seems to demand more discipline and process than I am used to. I am now a few hours into the Basic modules of Library and Develop and I must admit that I am impressed. Very powerful but probably too flexible. Certainly too many choices and options for a newbie to get their head around quickly. But the Develop module does give impressive results pretty quickly once you get a basic understanding of the sliders and their function and impact on the tonality and presentation of your images.

More to come.

New lens - Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L

The one missing link in my lens arsenal is that of a wide angle prime or zoom lens. I am delighted to say that has now been corrected.

I have been a satisfied customer of The Camera Exchange in the Melbourne suburb of Box Hill North previously and I noticed online that they had an 'as new' example of the Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 L ready to go. Complete with lens hood, bag and manual, I couldn't resist!

thumb_L1020017_1024
Canon 17-40mm f/4 L - 2015

After a quick shoot around the property late this afternoon, I am really pleased with the purchase. It feels great on the 5D Mk 111 body and the image detail (in RAW) seems excellent. A couple of sample shots below.

_64A0011


_64A0008


_64A9995


_64A0004


The different perspective offered by this lens opens up new and exciting creative opportunities for me. Great stuff!

5D or 5D Mk111???

A quick happy snap of our Canon 5D's. Robin 'inherited' the original, and I am loving the Mk 111! iPhones be damned...

The One or the Third?

iPhone Latest Snaps

I haven't had the 'big' camera out for quite some time. Not sure that I have been to any exciting locations and I have been missing some inspiration. But of course I usually have the phone with me. Such was the case for a luncheon event at the MCG last week.

IMG_3150
The Members Entrance of the MCG

I arrived a little early so had the chance to wander among the statues in park and take in the splendour of the 'G' on a gorgeous early autumn day.

IMG_3151
Warnie!

As a big Essendon fan, I was delighted to see a statue of the famous John Coleman. Not the greatest picture but will have to do until I go back again in better light.

IMG_3162
Bomber great #10 - John Coleman

FPC at the Peninsula Blues Club

064A4651
There are a number of benefits of being a member of a camera club and the Frankston Photographic Club is my association of choice.

In addition to weekly club nights, competitions and general Q&A support, the club organises events that the average person would struggle to access. For example, we have had studio nights where strobe lighting, off camera flash units and professional models give members as taste of what it would be like to work in a professional studio.

And this year the club has been invited to attend a couple of music events and help out some aspiring artists and new venues to get some exposure through photography for social media, website content etc.

This week it was an invitation to the monthly blues night held by the Peninsula Blues Club at the Frankston Lawn Bowls Club facility. I did participate in the 'Harba' shoot in Mornington earlier in the year and managed a few 'acceptable' captures and I was looking forward to having another crack. Oh dear... It seems the more I learn and the harder I try, the more confused I get and the more mistakes I make! This night I couldn't tell my f-stops from a bus stop. Confused aperture & shutter speeds, bad angles, shoddy use of flash and poor focusing were only the start of my errors...

The photos were, are and will always be bad. But the music was great. The house band (aka King Catfish) did the early blues proud (as always), and Alex Burns was most interesting and entertaining in a varied acoustic music set. I will go back another night and just listen. It is more stress-free! Thanks to the blues club and the photographic club for the opportunity to attend, learn and enjoy. Be brave and review my pictures here...

PCV Presidents Day

Just a cross-post from The Porsche File regarding my photography exploits from the recent Porsche Club track day at Sandown Raceway.

I didn't do super well and it took me until late in the day to get some decent captures with the 'correct' panning settings.

064A4547
A 997 GT3 - 2013

For the original link(s), see here.

Just because...

Another couple of 'gratuitous' pictures of our 2003 Porsche 911 Carrera 4S. Not competition winners, just pleasant.

IMG_2447
C4S (iPhone 5) - 2013

IMG_2222
C4S at Martha Cove - 2013

Ongoing enjoyment of my iPhone 5

I continue to learn about and be challenged by my Canon 5D Mk3, but it is my iPhone 5 that is giving me more 'excitement' at the moment.

IMG_1938
Lexus GS 430 outside our detailer - 2013

Why? Two obvious reasons. Firstly, it is the camera that you always have on you so those Instgram restaurant pics or limited-edition Ferrari road side captures are always possible. Secondly, and more important, is because it is not a very good camera. What??? Overcoming the fixed focal length, crappy flash, small sensor, lens flare and other limitations require the photographer (well me at least) to consider the subject, available light, aspect ratio, composition much more critically than when I am using the DSLR.

Winter Dam
Wet and dreary winter, Mt Eliza - 2013

Of course I have lots of happy snaps with my iPhone that should not be seen by anyone other than consenting family members. But every now and again I work on an opportunity or subject and come up with surprisingly good results up to A5 size or better.

IMG_2045
Maroochydore skyline - 2013

Just to be clear, I am not claiming Pullitzer status with any of this 'work', just to say the discipline is beneficial and that harder work brings better results. Perhaps at my age I should have known that anyway! And I am sure similar (or better) results could be achieved with Windows or Android phones. No Apple 'flaming' please!

Porsche 911 C4S
Porsche in paradise (well Merricks General Store anyway) - 2013

Some great iPhonography resources exist on the web and I admit to buying some iPhone hardware and software add-ons and doo-dads of dubious quality / practicality but they have been fun to explore and try even if they don't fall into daily use. I have lots more to learn but it has been a great ride so far and the effort will make me a better photographer with the big rig in the long run.

IMG_2061
The jetty at Maroochydore - 2013

By way of full disclosure, some of the above images may have seen the insides of Apple's Aperture and NIK Software's Snapseed applications.

iPhone Photography Challenge

We are about to head off to Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast for a couple of weeks rest and relaxation after a pretty difficult winter health-wise.

For various reasons, we are flying Jetstar which many of you would know have pretty severe baggage limits. This necessitates some serious prioritisation and decision making.

The biggest decision is that I am leaving the 5D Mk3 at home! To take the big Canon and one lens doesn't make much sense. You really need everything or nothing - charger, spare battery, prime and zoom lenses, flash, spare cards, cleaning gear, decent tripod, backpack to put it all in. There goes my entire baggage limit! And the Apple MacBook Pro won't be going either, just the iPhone and the iPad. I am getting sweaty palms already just thinking about not having my favourite toys with me.

IMG_1944
Dark days as the 5D will stay on the bench, not go the beach - 2013

Although I will take the P&S Leica as a 'backup', I plan to use the iPhone as my primary camera. Why I hear you ask… Here are a few reasons:

  • This is not our first trip to Maroochydore and I have lots of 'decent' shots of this location. No doubt I could take better ones but at least I have a 'DSLR' record of the area;
  • My challenge (to myself) is to use the iPhone to record the feel and mood of the town and people, not to take the glory sunrise shot over the ocean;
  • I like 'iPhonography' but haven't dedicated myself to fully leveraging the in-phone camera and the supporting apps for taking pictures and editing them;
  • By removing some of the complexity of the gear, I will try to focus (pardon the pun) on aspect ratio, composition, colour or black and white for example before taking the picture rather than relying on cropping and post-processing. It should make me 'think' more;
  • The lack of 'zoom' will make me get closer to the action and force a little more creativity (and experimentation);
  • I have a number of iPhone camera 'add-ons', lenses, remote shutter release, glif stand / tripod mount, mini-tripod etc to help me get the maximum out of the iPhone5;
  • Also I am looking forward to seeing what I can do in terms of editing my pictures either 'in camera' or on the iPad. No Lightroom or Aperture allowed!;
  • I want to test how easy it is to take OK pictures, edit and share via Flickr (or Instagram) while on the road with access to limited bandwidth;
  • Set a target of posting one quality shot per day so I will have a 'book' of 14 pictures at the end of the fortnight.
It will be a test but it will also be a lot of fun. Wish me luck!

Surf Coast Mini-Vacation 2013

We are just back from a short holiday at Lorne on the surf coast. We stayed at the Mantra Resort on the beach side of the main street. The accommodation was fine (apart from a lack of cold water…) and I must say we ate very well over the three days. The weather was terrible unfortunately, especially as we packed lots of camera gear for an expedition to the Twelve Apostles.

_MG_5328
On the job - Photo by Robin Humphries 2013

The persistent drizzle didn't help the quality of our images but it was a great experience to see these formidable formations up close and personal. Please click on the picture below to go to my Flickr gallery for a few of the better images from the day.

064A3045
Fog rolling in at the Twelve Apostles - 2013
L1010188
EasternView Beach, Victoria - 2013
064A2979
Erskine Beach, Lorne - 2013
064A2992
Erskine Beach - 2013

Photojojo University - iPhoneography 101

Details to come, but I passed...

pju2wd

Belkin LiveAction iPhone Stand, Remote & App

My latest toy.

belkin-liveaction-camera-remote

An interesting little 'system' this. Review and comments to follow shortly.

A commitment …. to Flickr

Yahoo are struggling a bit as a 'major' player in the Internet / Search / Ad world. Their new CEO, Marissa Mayer (ex Google SVP) has come in with ideas and energy to turn the place around. One of her first commandments was to support the future of the photo-sharing portal, Flickr. I engaged with their free three-month trial of the 'Pro' version incorporating unlimited storage and full resolution uploads amongst other benefits. Flickr also seamlessly integrates with Apple's Aperture photo editing / management software that I love.

My trial ended early April 2013, and I decided that I liked the benefits and features that this service provided (admittedly without a deep analysis of other vendors offerings) and signed up for two more years at around $A45 total.

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 8.22.50 PM

One day in, I still feel good and no buyers remorse so far. In fact I am now uploading more of my Aperture albums and have started sharing more albums in the last 24 hours than in the last 3 months.

Follow my Flickr sets here.

Cool!

Come on down, NIK Software

Most enthusiastic amateur photographers will come across many, many, MANY photo editing suites looking for our money as 'we' scan the web on a regular basis.

Readers of this site will know my Apple Aperture preference, plus my entree to Lightroom courtesy of included software with my Leica D-Lux 5 purchase.

I have always held a desire for the NIK Software suite of plug-ins, particularly Silver Efex Pro 2, the (almost) industry standard for Black and White processing. The problem always was the price. Serious $$$, for serious software.

Recently NIK were purchased by Google and the doom and gloom merchants were predicting the quick (or slow) death of the software. Well, maybe not.

Last week, Google announced a minor re-branding plus a major price reduction. A 50%+ reduction to widen the customer base and boost revenues seemed like a smart commercial decision, the likes of which Google are not always famous for despite their obvious skills & strengths.

So I bought the suite, six plug-in modules in all, for Aperture AND Lightroom. The same plug-ins for use on both of my major photo editing platforms.

I am a really happy camper!

New DIgital Video Camera

Although our 'old' Sony video camera (tape based) is still going well, it is a bit heavy & clunky and we have been using the iPhone more and more because of convenience. Also I have seen a number of people at Robin's riding events wielding tiny video cameras that looked pretty, well, handy...

Sony_Handycam_HDR-CX190_35128679_10_620x433
Sony HDR-CX190 Digital Video Handycam

The next day I just happened to see an ad for a cost-effective Sony HandyCam, a runout model, HDR-CX190. Seemed OK, SD-card storage, 20x optical zoom, small form factor, 5 mp still images (if necessary) and according to reviews it has an OK battery life. So we bought one from an electronics store barely a kilometre from home. Too easy!

camara-sony-hdr-cx190-fotos-y-filmadora_MLA-F-2621080285_042012

Stay tuned for some sample vids.

Photo Shoot - 'King Catfish'

Last Sunday afternoon a few folk from the Frankston Photographic Club went to Harba (upstairs) in Mornington to take some photos of a local blues band 'King Catfish' who were keen to get some 'decent' pictures for their Facebook page and other marketing uses. It was a little difficult as shooting directly at the band was pointing at the sun with glass windows behind catching the late afternoon glare. Oh well. I have uploaded my 'best' from the day to Flickr and now just need to work out how to get them to the band.

064A2481 (1)

The music is based on the old Chicago and delta blues styles of Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and others and was right to my tastes (and the guy in the top hat was a 'mean' harmonica player). The band members were also really friendly and grateful that we were there willing to help them get their message 'out there'. A very nice day indeed.

064A2513

The amplifiers glow!

Took the 5D into the lounge room the other night, whipped out the tripod, and tried a few long exposure shots on the tubes of the Yamamoto headphone amp and the Supratek pre-amplifier.

GJH_1499

The results were just OK. More practice required but at least they are a starting point. I found focusing difficult, so might try manual focus next time as the AF struggled with the black background and the contrasting glow. Can't even remember if I used a remote shutter release or not. Speaking of focus...

GJH_1508

iPhone 5 Panorama

I know, I know, other phone manufacturers have had a Panorama features on their phones for a while. Who cares! Got my iPhone 5 and have started playing with the panorama feature. I like it. More practice required but it works as advertised and is really easy.

IMG_1175

IMG_1176

Eye-Fi 8GB Wireless SD Card

Just picked up one of these fancy new wi-fi enables SD cards. I have to say that the system/infrastructure/technology in this thing is just ridiculous.

I thought it would be plug and play and zap photos from your camera to a PC/iOS device. Definitely not P&P, not because it is badly designed but due the the almost overwhelming array of options, features and configuration possibilities. Also I am still getting my head around when to configure the 'card', when to configure Eye-Hi server and when to change options on the receiving device (PC or iOS). Again, not Eye-Fi's fault just to say that this is a very 'complete' solution.

Canon 5D + Eye-Fi

The 8GB Pro X2 geotagging version was my card of choice as it is capable of transferring RAW as well as JPEG files. I have it now up and running to my PC and about to start my iPad & iPhone 'Direct Mode' implementation. The card is recognised by the Canon 5D Mark III and even adds an Eye-Fi menu item to the Tools section on the Canon's Menu system. Pretty cool.

More soon.

PCV Sandown 'Vintage' Poster

I am enjoying taking more photos, but also having fun being 'creative' with the raw materials. It is one of the joys of the Mac environment that there are so many wonderful tools available to 'play' with your photos. One of my favourite editing programs is Snapseed by Nik Software and Posterino by Zykloid Software.

PCV Stuff

This is a poster made from snaps of a 2012 Porsche Club of Victoria track day at Sandown Raceway. A few filters, add some blur, some sepia, the odd crop and 'voila!'.

Canon 5D Mark III

I really, really wanted a new Canon 5D Mark III. Of course I didn't really need one, but that's the way these things go. The good news is that my 1D Mark III has a decent used value, plus I was able to secure the new body at a very competitive price so the change-over wouldn't be too dramatic.

Canon 5D 1
Canon 5D 1 (1)
Canon 5D 2
Benalla showgrounds and bridge - 2012

I have only been out & about a couple of times so far but the camera feels great in the hand and of course works perfectly with my existing range of Canon lenses.

To ensure that I get the most out of the camera, I have purchased two e-books from Amazon to read on the iPad. They are both well reviewed and I really hope that they will help get my usage of the 5D to the next level. Plus increase my enjoyment as well.

Canon_5D_MkIII_Experience-cover-400. canon-5d-mark-iii-from-snapshots-to-great-shots-cover-image-350-pixels

The new menu system, and quick buttons on the rear make finding frequently used functions quickly accessible.

Canon 5D
Canon 5D (2)
The National Golf Club - 2012

I am loving the camera so far!

The Wedding Photographer, Rises!

The youngest of the Mason clan, Emily, was married in Melbourne recently and Julie again bravely entrusted me to get some pictures of the happy event and get them 'published' before the professional got around to it. This process is of course helped by the newlyweds having a honeymoon and being in no position to preview the official pictures!

PCV Sandown Vintage (2)

The venue was St Michaels Church in the city. Traditional from the outside, and even more spectacular inside with outstanding acoustics. Emily and Michael looked superb, the entire wedding party were most photogenic making my job a little easier.

PCV Sandown Vintage

PCV Winton & DECA

I wasn't driving at Winton this year so I took the camera up instead. Cloudy, cool conditions greeted the drivers and photographers making things difficult for both.

Unfortunately it took me too long to adapt to the conditions and I missed a number of shots by having the wrong lens, with the wrong settings at the wrong time. File one for education…

_IMG4740

Saturday was the track event at Winton Raceway no major incidents and a good day was had by most…

_IMG4850

Sunday was a motorkhana style event at the DECA driver training facility just out of Shepparton. The drivers really enjoyed the skid pan sessions if tyre smoke was a gauge of satisfaction!

PCV Winton:DECA

By the end of the weekend I was very jealous of the drivers having so much fun and I am really looking forward to getting on track again soon.

A glif!

From time to time, it would be nice to stabilise the iPhone and asking around re suitable tripod mounts etc, I was told to get a glif...

glif_0

And here is my implementation with a GorillaPod and a headphone set whose in-line volume control acts as a remote shutter release.

_IMG4211

See the glif advertising video below.


Too cool for school! What a life-changing device…

Canon 24-70mm f2.8L

After much consideration and planning, I have completed a complicated buyback, trade-in and purchase to re-align my lens collection.

IMG_A30610_1000

The 70-200 f4L has come 'home', the 200 f2.8L prime has now been traded on a 24-70 f2.8L that I can now use as a walk around lens on the 1D. My initial test shoot was extremely positive with the lens, while weighty' feels really well balanced on the 1D.

24-70
Suzy posing - 2012

I am really looking forward to getting out and about and I am sure that I will enjoy using this lens for many years to come.

Trying to photograph the dam...

I taking some pictures of the dam tonight when I was attacked by a ferocious animal looking for food… A snapshot of the offending creature is shown below and, if seen, I suggest you approach with caution… Or with apples and carrots…

Reflections-pola.Lily @ Dam-pola.L1000596-pola


It was a nice autumn late afternoon yesterday so I thought I would wander down to the dam to take a couple of pictures. Nothing special came out of the adventure, but it was an enjoyable hour or so just the same.

Lily @ Dam
Young Lily, helping… - 2012

The Dam

Reflections


L1000580

L1000556
The Dam, April 2012

The Wedding Photographer!

Well, who would have thought it. Your humble correspondent was asked to take some photos at a friend's sons wedding recently. Fair to say, it added new depth to the word 'trepidation'. To compound my fear, I wasn't actually feeling that great, the weather was intermittently humid & raining …

_MG_3648
Mardi & Doug - 2012

I had a planning session with my 'customer' to get a feel for the outside event layout and landscape and for the type of shots she wanted. The happy day duly came around and loaded with lenses (4), cameras (3), spare batteries, memory cards and a tripod I arrived on site. The car park was 800 metres away from the ceremony location and I needed to make a decision regarding what gear to take to the specific location, what I could keep dry in the (likely) event of rain and of course what I need to get the shots.

_MG_3748
_MG_3638._MG_3728
_MG_3719

The outdoor ceremony was informal and communal with lots of stories told about, and advice given to, the newlyweds throughout. The bridal party and guests coped admirably with the weather I must say.

I think my pictures were well received and I even managed to keep out of the way of the 'official' photographers.

_MG_3660

Thanks for the vote of confidence and opportunity Julie, but I needed some serious medication and a long lie down to recover!

Family
Brett, Mardi, Julie & Chris - 2012

Sigma Sample Images

As promised, I took the Sigma along on my vacation strapped to the Canon 5D. It was a very 'usable' lens for holiday photos with the focal length being useful for landscape, wildlife and action shots. No surprise, the lens doesn't feel as robust and smooth as my Canon 'L' lenses but doesn't claim to be and isn't priced as such. Interestingly, the Canon 5D / Aperture 3.1.3 combination didn't recognise the lens correctly in the EXIF data. Overall, I enjoyed this lens very much and without much effort (or thinking) I managed to get a few decent hand held shots.

_MG_2673

I like the tones in this picture. Darker foreground and pastel layers as the image progresses towards & beyond Mt Coolum.

_MG_2763

This little guy did a superb job of posing as we went for a beach side walk one day. Lace monitors are common apparently on the coast.

_MG_2954 (1)

One afternoon I wandered down to the beach and tried a few surfing shots. This was probably the best action shot of the set.

_MG_2900

Not a great technical picture, but the surf and the flag conjures up a real Queensland vibe.

The net result is that I am very happy with my purchase and the image quality matches my skill level perfectly. For once, I haven't over invested...

Sigma 70-300mm f4 -5.6 DG OS

One of the good things about your partner taking up photography is that there is added incentive to take more pictures, a challenge to keep your nose in front, and generally find more reasons to get out and about as your next great shot may be only minutes away!

The downside is they 'steal' your gear. Robin has grabbed the Canon 5D and the 24-105 zoom lens, leaving me with a 50mm and 200mm prime(s). As good as they are, my skills need something with a little more reach and flexibility. For everyday use, at some point I will get a 24-70 f2.8 Canon lens...

Even so, something we can perhaps 'share' with a little extra range would be welcome, hence this week's arrival of the Sigma 70-300mm DG OS tele-zoom lens below.

Sigma Zoom

For a modest financial outlay, it is light weight, has a reasonable aperture and with image stabilisation it will fill a void I hope.

This is my first Sigma (and in fact non-Canon) lens but I have friends who are happy with them, so I am optimistic.

The new Sigma is already packed in the backpack for our annual Queensland holiday so I sincerely hope I can bore everyone senseless with some great images from the Sunshine Coast upon our return in a couple of weeks!

Leica D-Lux 5 (Updated)

My little point & shoot Canon developed a fault in the sensor so I needed to replace it with something new. After some research (and guessing) I punted on a Leica D-Lux 5, which is essentially a re-badged Panasonic LX-5.

Why the Leica? I like the classy look of the camera, the reports of great image quality, an ability to take HD video, the solid (mostly) metal body, the two year warranty, and it ships with a copy of Adobe Lightroom 3.

img18674.img18698
Photo courtesy Leica Website

I haven't had a chance to take many shots yet given some lousy weather here in Melbourne recently but I am looking forward to trying it out very seriously shortly. One observation so far is that images taken and processed as Black & White in Lightroom look absolutely fantastic.

L1000007
Always good to get the owner in front of the new camera! - 2011

Update : My initial impressions of the camera were favourable with respect to image quality, but not so much from an ergonomic / usability perspective. After some research, it appeared that two Leica options would help alleviate these concerns significantly. One is the Electronic Viewfinder which removes the issue of trying to frame the shots in he screen in bright light; and secondly a handgrip, making the tasteful but smooth / slippery body much easier to hold. I fully realise that these additions make an expensive point & shoot now very expensive, but in my view the camera is a keeper and these additions will only add to my enjoyment.

leica\18716..Dlux5_Grip1287501013_924

D-Lux-5-handgrip-+-viewfinder1

Will post more usage comments as they come to hand.

Copyright & Tripod Heads

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice the copyright label coming up on some of my recently exported photos. Just trying to get the visual identification piece right just in case I have something awesome to protect! Also it is part of my Apple Aperture program training as I learn to use this powerful piece of software more effectively.

I have also changed the head on my tripod to a pistol-grip ball type, also from Manfrotto. I am looking to make my tripod usage as simple as possible so that I use it more to take better and crisper photos in a wider range of conditions.

cfd301485cd7ff5a71915839df8c058e
Manfrotto 322RC2 Heavy Duty Grip Ball Head
The National
The National Golf Club - 2011

Baby steps...

I have had the Canon and the iPhone out and about recently on either serious photography attempts or just for fun. Still plenty of happy snap 'rubbish' but there is intermittent evidence that I am thinking more about composition and light. At last!

_MG_1675
The Boxster in a Hunter Valley Autumn - 2011

I am thinking more and shooting slightly less, but multiple shots of 'good' subjects to try to get the 'best' shot at the right time.

_IMG1497 (1)
Bedroom window rose - 2011

_MG_1623
Old Shed, Wollombi, NSW - 2011

Also, I have to say for the first time in a long time I am not thinking about equipment, but thinking about the shot. Robin 'stole' my 24-105 zoom, so I need another zoom lens of some sort, but I now just want to use what I have better, and smarter. It takes some of the complexity of learning new gear out of the equation, you can just shoot with what you have / what you know. Obvious to many I am sure...

_MG_0979 (1)
Rowers on Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra - 2011

Canon 200mm f2.8 L - My 'new' lens

With the 70 - 200mm f4 L lens gone to a friend, my search for a replacement led me to the 2.8 IS version. As magnificent as that lens is, I, probably, am not. And it is really heavy limiting how many times I might drag it around and actually take it out. And given the price, that would lead to buyers remorse and guilt pretty quickly.

_IMG1522
Tyson in reflective mood... - March 2011

So, thanks to the guys at the Peninsula Camera store who spent an hour or more with me over a couple of visits, discussing various Canon / third party options, tele zoom or prime etc, I finally lucked onto a used Canon 200mm f2.8 L lens they had in store. It is the original version, with a sliding lens hood, rather than the more modern screw-on style. Works just fine and makes access to the lens cap much easier.

MX0P4655
Canon 70 - 20mm f2.8 L w/Canon 1D body - Photo by EOS Magazine Forum

Relatively light, with the aperture and focal length I needed for Robin's indoor riding events and a modest cash outlay made it a wise choice. Even if it is not strapped to the camera all day every day, I won't feel that I have over-capitalised on this piece of equipment.

_IMG1540 (1)
Japanese Windflowers (but you all knew that already...) - March 2011

After one evening's shooting, I don't have much that is too exciting to share yet (a couple of samples above), but I am very happy so far and for the future.

Skyline
Melbourne early autumn Skyline - April 2011

New lens dreaming

I recently sold my Canon f4 zoom lens and am thinking about buying the newly released 2,8 version, particularly to shoot Robin's indoor riding competitions. I went to my local camera store recently to ask about the range of suitable Canon lenses and of course the one I need / want is the biggest & best (therefore most expensive) that Canon make in the 70 - 200 mm range. Aarrgghh. They also stock third party lenses (Tamron, Sigma etc) but I am a Canon kinda guy.

The 2.8 sounds great but could I make it work for me to justify the purchase? So the following week, I went back to the store with my 1D MK3 body and tried the lens on for size. Wow, is it heavy or what! I tried a few hand held shots in store and was shocked by the brightness and clarity indoors, hand held with no flash. See my sample image below.

_IMG1066

And now here is the clincher. This week I accompanied Robin to one of her events with my 24 - 105 f4 lens and tried to photograph the 'Hunter' event indoors at the Werribee Equestrian Centre.

_IMG1078

Overall, the results were just awful. This image and the one on the home page were the best of a very ordinary lot. Not enough zoom and not enough light. Bumped the ISO to 800 and the results were grainy & poor. I felt sorry I couldn't get some better shots for her. I think I see the 2.8 in my future!

Plenty of effort but...

I have taken the camera(s) with me on road trips, wandered the property with great intent, pointed at interesting things but nothing much came of it. Either the camera didn't get out of the bag or the resultant shots shouldn't have left the memory card. As usual it was triumph of hope. My planning and approach was wrong. Again.

What I have to show for some recent effort is a whole bunch of bird & animal pictures. For example:
Exhibit A - This silly chicken and....

_MG_0725

Exhibit B ... a ferocious Porsche-protecting cat!

_IMG1018 (1)

Exhibit C... The ever photogenic Suzie

_MG_0642

Exhibit D... The lovely 'Miss Della'...

_MG_0616

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!

_IMG0345

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.

_IMG0354

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!

Mornington Snaps

I decided it was time that I took the Canon 5D d-SLR out for a run. The chosen morning didn't offer the very best of light, but into the breach we go.. My destination was the Mornington Rose Garden and Mornington Beach & Schnapper Point.


Schnapper Point - 2009

I was a bit disappointed in the Rose Garden as I couldn't seem to get an 'interesting' shot. All I could 'see' was a mass of albeit healthy and pretty rose bushes or the 'cheap shot' flower photo. Almost certainly speaks to my composition limitations I'm afraid.


Mornington Rose Garden - 2009

A bit more success at the beach, a couple of interesting 'DoF' efforts and a nice rich picture of the bathing boxes, as displayed on the Home Page of this site.


The Lonely Sailor, Mornington - 2009

Finally, the subject below caught my eye and makes for an interesting image, IMHO. There is big old Palm Tree of some indeterminate type (banana, date?) which I quite like at the end of Main Street, but I couldn't get the angles right to get a decent 'feel' for the tree, so got close to the patterned truck instead. I like it!


Palm Tree Trunk, Mornington - 2009

I must get out more often to improve my chances of better light, and to get more practice on composition.

The Videographer

Not much to report on the camera front recently. A few happy snaps with the Point & Shoot Canon and the iPhone, but the 5D hasn't had a serious run for a while.

Robin has, however, pressed me into service to video her riding competitions. I must say I have much to learn about the theory & practice of video photography and can barely pan & zoom with any sort of competence at all. As for post capture production, if it ain't iMovie it don't get done. And I am no expert in iMovie either.

It seems a lot harder to get a decent result with videos compared to stills, IMHO. More work to do!

Della & Foal Pictures

The arrival of 'Star' has been well documented in BomberBoy's World.

It was the last time that I'd had the 5D out of the bag. I am really getting way out of practice and have forgotten most of what I had learned over the last year or so. On the spur of the moment I couldn't remember how to manually take photographs!!!


'Star' is a delightfully cheeky little girl. Sadly, with the warmer weather she is shedding her first coat, getting itchy, rubbing pieces out of her remaining coat and looking quite dusty and second hand! But lots of energy and presence. Hopefully she will stand still long enough for some more shots soon.

Welcome back to earth

I have been pretty happy with my photographic progress of late, taking some nice shots and getting more comfortable with my camera.

Two events recently have brought reality back with a thud.

The first was a 'commission' to take some indoor photographs of a business property to identify the condition of the premises for future reference. Just wander around taking photos of various rooms, how hard can it be? With the current owners (and others) looking over my shoulder every step of the way, dark-ish indoor shots of smallish rooms with a regular lens, only the second time my Speedlite flash has been on the camera, the pressure of having to get it right (rather than snaps for fun) and deliver output to someone who was expecting quality results made the whole experience daunting and somewhat uncomfortable. But it gave me clear insights on the pressures that the 'pros' work under day-to-day and a timely reminder of how much I have to learn. I hasten to add that it was a family job, and no money actually changed hands!

The second event was a family friends birthday lunch at a beautiful restaurant and gardens on the outskirts of Melbourne. I knew of the garden so I thought I would take the camera and get some good outdoor shots of the birthday girl. The weather was gorgeous at lunch time with (very) bright sunshine showing off the garden to great effect. So I enticed her into the garden, but she turned out to be a nervous and unwilling subject which forced me to take a few quick photos in various locations with the sun behind me. Oh dear. The results were a handful of over exposed, overly bright, camera-shake out-of-focus shots taken at wrong distances with busy and 'dumb' composition errors (a distant water tank appeared on top of the subject's head in two different shots!). A total disaster. But my friend will be happy as she didn't want any pictures to see the light of day anyway!

While I think I know some of my many errors on these outings, I need to use my network of resources to help me understand all of what went wrong and take appropriate steps to improve my chances of success in the future.