Category Archives: opinion

Live update

In a previous post I mentioned that I am auditioning an Olympus E-M5 micro four thirds mirrorless camera for a more important part in my photography. This has been based on weight as much as anything else. But the more I use the little E-M5 the more it impresses me.

One type of photography I like to do is long exposure, using neutral density filters to create movement over time, such as a waterfall or river.

I wasn’t sure if the E-M5 would be up to this, but I discovered a feature called live update. As the shutter is held open in manual bulb mode, the LCD screen on the rear of the 5 updates the image at user selectable intervals. You just watch your image develop.

I tried it out down at the remains of the old pier at Clifton Springs, near Geelong. It was an overcast, rainy day but I managed to get a break in the rain to try some images. Neither the camera nor I was bothered much by the rain, but rain drops on the ND filter show up nicely.

The only major drawback I have is trying to manually focus with the electronic viewfinder (EVF), neither my eyes nor its resolution are quite up to accurate focusing all the time.

Clifton Springs pierClifton Springs pierClifton Springs pierClifton Springs pierClifton Springs pier

Wandering around in manual mode

After toting a full frame camera plus lenses around a number of European cities while on holiday last year, I decided that something lighter and easier to carry might be the future of my travel photography.

After much reading and thinking and sorting out of ‘must haves’, I decided to test the quality and usability of micro 4/3. Not wishing to spend a large sum of money and then find out that the micro 4/3 system couldn’t deliver the image quality I needed to do large prints, I decided to go for the Olympus E-M5 and the kit lens.

Getting used to the electronic view finder and a complicated menu system has been a bit of a challenge, but so far, the Olympus has performed way above it’s price range. Considering the price difference between the E-M5 and my full-frame Canon plus L series glass, the Olympus is amazing. I have no trouble producing high quality A2 prints from the 16mp small sensor.

Setting the camera up to work the way I want it to has been a bit of a challenge but the other day I went for a wander around Williamstown (a suburb of Melbourne) with the E-M5 in full manual mode to see how easy it was to use. Surprisingly easy after I set up a couple of custom functions as it turned out.

The Olympus E-M5 is a lot of camera for the money.

Williamstown, Victoria, AustraliaWilliamstown, Victoria, AustraliaWilliamstown, Victoria, AustraliaWilliamstown, Victoria, AustraliaWilliamstown, Victoria, AustraliaWilliamstown, Victoria, Australia

Also posted in equipment, Olympus

Icebergs

One of the highlights of the recent trip was the afternoon spent iceberg hunting off Tasiilaq, Greenland.

I am not a great sailor, so fortunately the day was calm and clear, but bitterly cold, I don’t think I have ever been that cold.

Of course, standing in the bow of the small fishing boat for the whole trip so I wouldn’t miss an iceberg shot might not have been the best way to stay warm.

Iceberg, Tasiilaq, GreenlandIceberg, Tasiilaq, GreenlandIceberg, Tasiilaq, GreenlandIceberg, Tasiilaq, GreenlandIceberg, Tasiilaq, GreenlandIceberg, Tasiilaq, Greenland

The Commercial

The face of Melbourne is changing. A lot of inner city pubs are closing, being left derelict or being torn down. These pubs often serviced a small, local community providing a place to socialise and drink. Some of Melbourne’s social history is being lost.

This is The Commercial Hotel, Whitehall Street, Yarraville.

The Commercial

Avalon

For some time I have been experimenting with long exposures. I have discovered getting a good result is harder than it looks. All sorts of problems occur: camera shake if your tripod isn’t solid enough, colour casts from the reduction filter, lens issues if you stop the lens down past its optimal performance point, and lots of others, including uninteresting images.

Long exposures seem to be very unforgiving, getting the exposure right is important. This often means you are chasing the light as it fades. If you need to increase a 120-second exposure by one stop, it has to become a 240 second exposure; 4 minutes. In that time the light can fade more than one stop late in the afternoon. But I am learning, I think.

Avalon Beach, Victoria, Australia

Front page update

The front page gallery has been changed to showcase five images from the Venice trip.

Where There’s Smoke…

…there’s photography

Some years ago I saw some lovely images of smoke taken by Graham Jeffrey. Several times I have tried to do the same, but with limited success. The first problem I faced was not being able to get a true black background. This was quickly fixed by blocking the spill from the light so it didn’t fall on the background.

The other problems weren’t so easy to fix at the time, and included:

  • An older DSLR with not a lot of megapixels and quite a lot of noise on higher ISO settings
  • Being limited in where I placed the light by the length of the PC cord used to trigger it
  • A lens that, while is was high-quality and sharp, didn’t focus close enough to give me images large enough to work with.

In recent years all of these issues have been fixed. I now have a new 22 MP camera with very good low light performance, several flash units with wireless triggers so I can place the light anywhere I want and a macro lens that will focus more than close enough to do the job.

I used a myrrh incense stick (it was Christmas after all) and set the light up so that it was behind the smoke to the left of the camera. A piece of cardboard blocked the light so it didn’t fall on the background and the flash was aimed so it wasn’t directly into the camera lens. The macro lens and the 22 MP meant I had plenty of leeway to crop closely to find the most interesting shapes in the smoke.

The Photofilter adjustment in Adobe Photoshop was used to add colour.

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Seagulls

I live beside a lake and very near a wetlands sanctuary of world importance (listed under the international convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat).

On an evening walk I regularly see ducks Australian black swans, pelicans, fairy terns, cormorants and herons.

And seagulls. Lots and lots of seagulls. They can be annoying, irritating, noisy, pushy and messy. But they can also be beautiful and a joy to photograph.

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Also posted in art

Suburbia

I live in one of the fastest growing areas in Victoria, in fact all of Australia. Although the area is fairly well-heeled and there are some people with serious money, the suburbs around me aren’t exactly full of cutting edge architecture.

In fact I regularly have to endure conversations that include the terms; cheap, thrown together, cookie-cutter, ugly, cut-price, design free, boxes made of ticky-tacky, little boxes all the same. Not many of the boxes are little though.

There is a lot of truth in these comments, this period in this area won’t be remembered as a classic example of modern architecture or building techniques.

However, I do enjoy photographing as I walk around the streets. Given the right time of day and the right light, there might not be great architecture, but there is design, and sometimes even art.

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Also posted in art

Family Fotos #4

This post is about another image from my grandfather’s collection of negatives. See Family Fotos #3 and Family Fotos #2.

This post also ties in with the approach of Remembrance Day, 11th November. It was an important day for my grandfather. To him it meant he could return home to his young wife, and a son he had never seen.

My memory tells me he wasn’t that fond of Anzac Day. It was a day for him and his mates to get together, remember their friends who never came home, and have a serious drink (about the only time he ever did). Outsiders, ones who hadn’t been through it, weren’t welcome.

I am sure he would hate the current generation’s obsession with deifying Anzac Day into a near-religious holiday.

My project of scanning all of his negatives has stalled recently. Life has been rather busy since we moved, with work, a wedding and some annoying but not serious illness. So, here is one I prepared earlier.

The photo shows my grandfather, Charles Cone, and one of his mates from 2nd Field Company at Mena Camp in Egypt, some time in early 1915. In the background are horses from his transport unit.

Front and centre is a kangaroo.

Also posted in collection, family