Friday, June 29, 2012

Don't Look, Don't look...Too Late.

It was just one of those things - just one of those fabulous flings. A trip to a suburban hall on card board wings - just one of those things. Move over, Tin Pan Alley*

I was at a rellies' do - one of those family parties to celebrate something or other and for once I was not drafted into being the photographer. They actually paid money to someone else to do it - quite a novel experience to stand there with a glass in my hand instead of a Nikon.

The photo set-up was a background stand, a draped mottle in neutral grey, and a girl with a DSLR. Where were the lights, I wondered. Apparently just above the pentaprism....considering the age of the DSLR, the quality of the zoom lens in front of it, and the size of the family groups that posed, I cackled to myself as I imagined what the results would look like.

Turns out I was wrong - the photographer sensibly limited the size of prints she made for the clients, shot in RAW and lightened out the dark areas, and had the good sense to stand on a small platform to equalise the distance between her lens and the faces. Her white balance was good, and the grey mottle did not detract from the subjects. I hope she got paid, as the results were worth buying.

All this is written to advertise the fact that we have a small pile of Premier background stand kits sitting in the storeroom and we would like it to be even smaller. They comprise two sturdy light stands and a two-piece center bar in a fitted bag - the whole thing easily transportable. Combine it with a $ 199 muslin backdrop in whatever shade you favour, and you have a darned good basis for a money earner.

 I am not certain you could picture all the ambassadors to the UN on one photo using your 5-year old camera, kit lens, and pop-up flash with this set-up, but then again you might be able to fit in all the ambassadors from countries that pay their bills....At least it would provide the start for a little studio at a wedding or party, and would pay for itself quickly.

* For those of you under 50, look it up.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Back Up Lite

Beep. Beep. Beep.

Backing  up here, folks. Clear the pathway. Driver can't see all the corners.

Or alternately, clap an Eye-Fi card into your camera and do it easily. These are the SD cards that have the little wireless thing in them that can talk to your PC or Mac. You get the complete setup in the box - 4 or 8Gb card with the WiFi built in, software for Windows or OS X, Eye-Fi app for iOS and Android, a USB card reader, and a setup guide.

You shoot into the card and then you can wirelessly save it into your smartphone,tablet, or computer. Then you can send it effortlessly to Facebook,YouTube, Picasa, or Mobile Me. Then you can lose all control of it and watch in horror as it appears on everybody's website all over the world. The best you can hope for is that they spell your name wrong - in reality they will not only get it right, but will be able to link it into your telephone account, your school record, and your bookie's little black notebook. If that doesn't act as a spur to privacy and  moral behaviour I don't know what will.

It's not that bad. Now you can do studio shoots and keep the card in the camera rather than constantly breaking down the thing to connect to the laptop. You no longer have to search through 4 desk drawers to find the computer cable. One less thing to leave in a hotel room somewhere.

And as the title of this essay suggests, this is a good incentive to back up that card as you go. If you are really paranoid, back it up to several different devices.


Admit It To Yourself

Come on. Admit it. Stop kidding yourself.

Take out that lens cleaning cloth that you have carefully folded in the side pocket of your camera bag a look at it. What colour is it? Should it be sticky? Is that brown smear chocolate or something worse?

Now wipe it over your $ 3200 lens and go out on your $ 20,000 holiday and see what happens. Mind you, you won't see much, nor will the lens.

Before you go, stop in at Camera Electronic and get yourself a 12-pack of Hoodman Lens Cleanse sachets. Each one contains a enzyme-activated wet towelette that dissolves and lifts the fingerprints and grime from the front of your lenses and a soft dry wiper to finish it off. It will not harm delicate lens coatings and it won't poison you or the environment.

Best of all, it has the Ernest seal of approval - he has shown the staff here that this cleaning system is by far the safest and clearest way of lens maintenance. The moist wipe has enough material to treat several lenses and the dry wipe leaves the surfaces actually feeling smooth as silk.

Note for those people who shoot wide angle lenses - particularly the wider DX lenses like 9, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 mm. If you routinely use a UV filter in front of your lens and shoot brightly coloured or lit subjects in front of a dark backdrop - say belly dancers in front of a black curtain - you can experience some of the most excruciating light spots on that dark field if there is any particulate matter sitting on the filter. The lenses are just that good at focussing on close objects when they are at wide settings and small apertures. It is like a festival of polka dots.  Be wise - clean that filter scrupulously before you flash, or you'll be spotting your files until 3:00 AM!

12-pack of Hoodman Lens Cleanse - $ 24.95 and it is a good investment in getting to bed at a reasonable time.


World's Wildest Cable Release

I am at a halt. I have a product in front of me that seems to defy me - not that it would be a daunting affair to a younger person. Let me elaborate.

Do you own an iPhone, and iPod touch, or an iPad? Do you own a Canon DSLR camera? Do you want to control the camera with any...or all...of these devices? Apparently you can with the ioShutter. It connects between the two devices ( camera, phone or pod) and the computers inside them talk to each other. You can interrupt with suggestions and they will respond - I have been involved in these sorts of things at cocktail parties.

You download the free ioShutter app from the iTunes app store, whatever that may mean, and connect the cable. Then away you go.

The camera will fire off if you make a loud noise - " Clap To Snap ". It will operate if you belt it - " Shake To Take ". It will speed up life with repeated time lapse exposures. Quite a departure from the cloth-covered cable release of olden days, though I bet it will still get kinked and grubby at the bottom of your camera bag, so there is a little tradition in there after all.

Any road, if you want 'em, we've got 'em, and they are only $ 89

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Click West Number Two

Don't be puzzled - there was a Click West Number One but the computer blinked and it vanished. If you are reading this and the title says Click West Number Five the language may become a little terse.

Click West happened last night - West Australian Photographic Federation held a massive exhibition/party/promotion at Hoyt's La Premiere cinema to showcase the work of their camera club members. The competition was held with a number of divisions - WA Landscape to show lifestyle, Portrait to show emotion, Monochromatic to show architecture, and Macrophotography to show nature. There was also an overall portfolio prize.

Peter Holland hosted the evening, and three famous photographers acted as judges; Peter Eastway, Russell James, and Tony Hewitt.

There was quite a pool of prizes - over $ 16,000 worth. Canon Australia, Fitzgerald Photographic, Camera Electronic, Epson, True North Tours, and C.R. Kennedy all did their part to provide the sort of incentives that really inspired the entrants.

Here's a look at what the judges saw on the big screen.

Landscape Category

First Place - Shirley Milburn
Second Place-Katrina Bartley
Third Place - Tony Hopkins

Portrait Category

First Place - Kallam McDougall
Second Place - Wendy Eiby
Third Place - Tony Hopkins

Monochrome Category

First Place - Michael Taylor
Second Place - Denise Aitken
Third Place - Mark Toovey

Macrophotography Category

First Place - Tony Hopkins
Second Place - Katrina Bartley
Third Place - Tony Hopkins

Portfolio Category

Tony Hopkins - 1st Place 

Tracy Leigh - 2nd Place 

Shirley Milburn - 3rd Place

This contest seems to have drawn out some marvellous work from the club members - let us hope it will have also boosted numbers for the clubs - the WAPF is one of the most effective organisations for the real enthusiast here in Western Australia.

 We're all going to look forward to the next big event.

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Faster, Faster, Pussycat!

And if you remember the rest of the title to that motion picture, you wasted your time in the cinema as much as I did. At least in them days there was popcorn and Jaffas that you could afford to buy...

Nowadays you can afford to buy a lot more for your home computer - and it looks as though the Apple people are going to make you do it by increasing the speed of their new devices. The new Apple Macbook Pro will have a USB 3.0 port in it at last. This is great - we've had USB 3.0 card readers in the shop for some little time now and finally you can take advantage of this improvement.

We've got card readers from Lexar, SanDisk, and Hoodman that will do this right now. They are very reliable and from the sounds of the tech specs, will materially improve the rate of data transfer for users of newer large-file cameras. Just looking at the front of the SanDisk ImageMate reader, it says it will go up to 500 MB/ second interface transfer speed. This is nearly as fast as a Siamese cat waking up when it hears you open the refrigerator door...come round our house and do a time trial.

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Got Ink?

A special blognote for owners of the EPSON 3800 and 3880 printer:  We gotta lotta ink cartridges for your printers fresh in store and we have decided to drop the price dramatically.

These are the 80ml cartridges - they were formerly priced at $92.50 and the price has now dropped to $79.50. That's less than $ 1 a ml and it means that your printing costs are on the way down - and your profit is on the way up. I recently did a run of self-border boudoir-size prints on Ilford A4 Smooth Pearl paper at $ 70 for a box of 100 and the base cost per print worked out to $ 1.69, less the cost of the coffee and biscuit needed to operate the printer. ( I'm the printer.)

At these prices there is no need to mix your own ink from the contents of your child's watercolour paint set and try to pour it into the back of the machine - you can afford to use the correct factory K3 ink.


Wonders Will Never Seize

Not if you remember to keep the oil level topped up in their crankcase, they won't.*

On another note entirely, we have some new items to interest the video worker. The new Sennheiser ENG set is a wireless transmitter/receiver pair that means your roving reporter can rove without running out of range. There are a number of options for frequency within a large switching bandwidth. The whole thing can manage the frequency automatically. The fact that the transmitter and receiver housings are metal means that it can cope with rough handling. Now all they need to do is design a video camera that does away with the delicate glass in the lenses and replaces it with cast iron and you'll have a real fighting camera!

If you are trying to video in dim light and need to boost the level, what better than a cool portable light panel. And I don't mean cool as in your hat on backward and your pants down around your knees - cool as in LED lights with a constant temperature. The Compact Kit has a 112-LED array and runs off a rechargeable Li-ion battery. The whole panel mounts on a standard shoe adapter and comes with the battery - an NP-F550 - and charger in the kit. $ 269.50 all up.

Now, for the still shooter ( Well, maybe for the videoists, too....) is the Lastolite EzyBox Speed-Lite. It's a foldable softbox that is fitted with two sets of elasticated velcro straps on the back for attachment to a portable electronic flash.

The front of the box with the diffusing panel is 28 cm square. The whole lot opens in a pop and claps onto your flash in less than 30 seconds.

I'm perfectly familiar with this item - it forms a staple of my lighting kit for field work and weddings. In my case I have my assistant use it with a Nikon SB 600 on an extension handle. I command the scene with a Nikon SB 700 on camera  - also with a diffuser. At any point I like I can have an off-camera soft main or fill.

I have also tried the EzyBox Speed-Lite as a diffuser for the  SB 700 on-camera flash - it does work, and is small enough to manage. However you decide to use it, it is a really sturdy and useful piece of kit.

* Groan...

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Jackpot Time And Everyone Wins

We told you about the Click West competition in an earlier blog - the WAPF event that aims to present the very best from camera club members here in the west.

Well, the payoff is this week - the big exhibition on screen happens on Wednesday night -the 27th of June. There will be a grand party at the La Premier cinema in Carousel with 40 VIP guests, spectators, proud photographers, distinguished judges, and Peter Holland. Mr. Holland is the famous face from Channel 7 who will be hosting the evening - it is always good to get a professional to make these things run smoothly.

Smoothly is the name of the game as there will be giant-screen projection of the winning images. They'll be drawn from 4 entry categories and  there will also be an overall portfolio prize. The camera club members who have entered will have been doing their very best and their efforts will have been judged by three rather professional photographers; Tony Hewitt, Russell James, and Peter Eastway. As this is a projected competition, perhaps they will not be hanging judges...

Good news for those of you who haven't booked a seat yet is that there are still spaces in each level - you just Google on over to Click West and contact the WAPF through their site. There is food and drink on the night and more gorgeous photography than you could shake a monopod at. If you need inspiration, or entertainment, or just food for the visual soul, then this is the night for it.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Move Over Sliced Bread

Actually, this is better than sliced bread - I mean the Gary Fong Collapsible Lightsphere. I've been selling them and their predecessors for years to the customers and I finally worked up the courage and curiosity to sell one to me. For real money. Did I get value?

You bet your aperture I did. I've just completed the experiment of setting up a do-it-yourself photo booth at a dinner I attended this weekend. I placed the Lightsphere on top of a Nikon SB 700, on top of a Stroboframe Press T bracket, on top of a Nikon D300. A dear old 20mm lens sat on front and a radio trigger hooked into the command port of the camera. I set it on a sturdy tripod in front of a green screen and invited the punters to take their own picture - any way they liked.

Of course as the evening wore on the poses became a little looser, but the joyous thing was the fact that right from the start the Lightsphere did as good a job of even illumination - with a little top modelling - as anything I have seen. As good as a big umbrella or beauty dish.

I know - I cheated beforehand and tried out all the above combinations in my studio. All I really needed was the Lightsphere with the top open up above the lens axis. The fact that this also meant the whole arrangement sat on only one pair of legs was a bonus - if people are going to be moving around in semi-darkness you need to obstruct them as little as possible.

The real eye-opener of the evening was the big group shot at the end. We just swivelled the camera out from the stage to see the party revellers and dialled in +1 stop extra power on the flash. The result was a hall fully illuminated without blowing out the front subjects and all in one shot. As I had the radio remote in my own hands at this point, guess who got to be the center of the picture? You be the judge...

And, yes, it is a wig...


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Last Post

Of the day, that is.

Do you own a Canon camera - or would like to own one? Would you like to try out new Canon bodies and lenses? Do you like colour and excitement and smells and loud noises? Do you want to learn how to shoot a professional model at a sports event?

Well, call us or email us and put your name and some money down for participation in the 2012 Camera Electronic Canon Workshop. Cause we're going to the motor racing track! Specifically, we'll be holding the workshop on the 21st of July - that's a Saturday - at Barbagallo Raceway on a motorcycle race day.

There will be a professional lecture on the subject - possibly delivered at the top of the lungs - and then food and drink and a model shoot with pro lighting in the pits area - on the track there will be all the excitement of the motorcycle racing and you'll get some great vantage points.

What's not to like? Pro shooter as teacher, pro model with colourful bikes, pro Canon gear to try, and desperate racers on the track. Beats shooting weddings to pieces!

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How To Get That Synching Feeling

It used to be all about how to prevent that sinking feeling - see the Bovril advertisements. Just the opposite today, when we want to control a battery of flashes without stringing a spider web of cables. We've just had a shipment of the new PocketWizard Plus III transceivers arrive -some for our rental department and some for stock sales.

These are the model that has 32 separate channels if needed and can independently control 4 groups of flashes for complex lighting set ups. They are slim, robust, and best of all...powered by standard AA batteries. There is even a battery state icon visible on the LCD screen to let you know whether you've got enough juice for the shoot.

Not expensive for professional performance - $ 179. Stop in and get a pair before your next shoot.



Sort of just rolls off the tongue, don't it?

What it really translates to is the Australian Institute of Professional Photography Western Australian Epson Professional Photography Awards Presentation. That's a drinks night and party with photos for, by, and at professional photographers. But they're not being stand-offish - if you'd like to see the pictures and hear the speeches and find out what is going on you can join in too.

The venue is the East End Bar and Lounge - always a good sign when they hold one of these things in a bar - at 198 High Street, Fremantle. It is on Wednesday, 4th of July, and starts at 7:00.

The advertising card for it asks you to " dress to impress ". Given that you may meet clients and employers at the affair, this would be wise, though there is such a wide variety of impressions that may be made...

It is not expensive - $ 50 entry - but you will have to be quick. The organisers have asked for a booking before the 22nd of this month. A quick transfer on your computer over to the AIPP website will bring you the contact details, and you should be in for the party. I am going to look out my most impressive outfit right now - I hope the wig has not uncurled in this wet weather. If it looks bad I'll have to go as Ben Franklin.

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New Nikon - Walk or Waltz?

The phrase " walk-around lens " has been used for years in the press. Sometimes I get the feeling that it is a dismissive term - used to imply that the writer only uses fabulous glass and would not be satisfied with whatever is under review. Let me state emphatically at the start of this blog that this is NOT my opinion. I think this is exactly what 99% of us need 99% of the time. In my case probably more so.

Walk around means that you are going to be out and about and you need gear that works so well that  whatever you see can be dealt with. This is also the design philosophy with the Adams and Dean .455 revolver, and I think it is admirable - should you encounter a tiger, thuggee, or old university chum, you are prepared.

You might also say this about heavier gear - the f:2.8 zoom lenses that each manufacturer makes. I'm thinking about the 24-70 types that we see with big front elements, big filter sizes, big lens hoods. Weighty glass. Superb performance, and excellent results for weddings, commercial, sports, studio portrait, etc. But try carrying one of these all day on holiday - all day around the theme park or through the stinky temples. See how much you want to haul that same heavy weight the next day through the next tourist trap...Maybe just leave it at the hotel for the morning...

Okay, you're a better traveller than that, but you still can capture most of what looks good with the new Nikon 24-85 AF-S VR G lens, whether it is on DX or FX. And now you have the VR mechanism giving you 3-4 stops of steadiness to boot. If you consider the low-light capability of the new Nikon D800 combined with this lens you can see the logic. It is a lens you can carry all day and use for damn near everything. We'll be seeing more of these lenses in the next few months - indeed we hope to see more of the new camera bodies as well - and I think it will prove to be an ideal combination for lots of people.

Walk or waltz? You'll know at the end of the day when you see how you feel.


Friday, June 15, 2012

DX on safari

Well, Nikon has just announced a new lens, and I think it is going to have a great appeal to the public. Specifically that portion of the public who have Nikon DSLRs and are just about to embark upon a retirement safari to Africa or Alaska.

One of the great things about these destinations is the wildlife. Lions in Kruger national park and bears in B.C. and Alaska. Wonderful iconic creatures these, and magnificent in their native habitat. The fact that they will kill you and eat you as soon as look at you may be a little off-putting to some people but this is where Nikon comes in. The 18-300 f:3.5-5.6 VR DX Nikon lens will enable you to get that close-up of the carnivore from the safety of distance and the wide-angle end of the lens will make fabulous landscape shots.

It's the longer version of the 18-200 VR II lens - another 100 mm zoom in much the same shaped body. There is a travel lock at 18mm, a VR mechanism, instant over-ride manual focus, and all the other features of the immensely successful 18-200. This is a sweet lens - I use one for general dance show work and weddings and it comes in for its fair share of studio work.

For the traveller, it is a godsend in dusty or damp conditions. No need to change lenses at all over the entire trip so no ingress of particles or moisture into the sensor. Combine it with a Think Tank Digital holster and you have an entire travel setup over your shoulder.

It would also be a delight for the car-race enthusiast, the air show spectator, field sports shooter, or trackside photographer - the 300mm lens length is good for all of these. The weight is significantly less than that of some of the aftermarket lenses and you are getting Nikon quality glass.

Needless to say. I shall be trying one as soon as they are released here on our market.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bondage And Discipline In The Studio

As I wrote that header I wondered how many  dodgy search engines will be zooming in on this page. Hey, fellas, we're selling accessories for studio photography here. No whips. No chains.

Now that we've got that established, keep an eye on Camera Electronic in the near future - we're going to start stocking products from the Tether Tools company. Studio photographers are finally going to get the gear they need to move ahead with tethered shooting.

Oh, we've all tried it - the little USB cable that came with the camera ( Now where did I put that camera box?) and the laptop balanced on the IKEA stool and vainly poking away in the darkness behind the fill light box trying to get the program to start up. Then looking back and forth from the computer screen to the model trying to give orders in two directions and four dimensions. The whole circus concluding when we step on the cable and pull the equipment down onto the floor with a clatter. It's professional practice all right, if you consider rodeo clown a profession.

Tether Tools to the rescue. The laptop is the first point of attention - Tether Tools make a series of laptop platforms from T6 aircraft aluminum with a universal mounting bracket that can unite with 1/4" and 3/8" tripod screws or the Arca clamp. There is a security strap to keep the Lap on the top...and you can get additional pockets to mount hard drives. Indeed you can get a clamp-on cup holder if you are afraid of dehydrating while pressing buttons. More practical is a little LED gooseneck light that plugs into a USB port in the laptop and can illuminate the keyboard.

The problem of the Devil"s Snare - otherwise known as the connecting cable between the camera and the laptop - can be exorcised with the items known as Jerkstoppers. Honest, folks, that's what it says on the computer site. They are clamps and stress-stopper cables that attach the plugs to the sockets and  prevent them from being hoicked out when you stumble through the darkness. Even better products on their site are the orange-colored extension cables for the computer connection - anything that lets you see the web of wires and avoid them is a good idea. Indeed, tethering via wireless is possible these days and if it suits your system, why not.

There are studios, and perhaps field setups, that would be well-suited with an all-in-one rig. A camera, computer, hard drive, flash transmitter, and possibly a cup of soup all on one stand or tripod. No problem with the Tether Tools as they can be adapted to Manfrotto double arms and Magic arms. Your only limit is your imagination.

Pop on over to the website and see if there is something there that would make your studio
safer and more productive. We'll keep you posted when the products arrive. In the meantime mind how you go in the dark.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Wide Angle For The New Cameras

If you are a  full-frame Nikon user - that's D3. D3s, D4, D700, or D800...and all the autofocus film'll be interested to look at the new Nikon 28mm f:1.8 G lens. 28mm is a standard of the industry as far as wide angle of view but if you are restricted to a higher f number you can sometimes have more depth of field than you want in your shot. Sounds strange to a studio shooter of miniatures who is clawing for every millimetre of DOF that he can get, but there are some people who want soft blurry backgrounds to punch up their main subject.

This'll do it. If you are taking stills or video you can confidently set the lens going on autofocus and capture faces and eyes while letting the room behind your subject fall away. this lens is superb, with a seven bladed diaphragm to further render the bokeh bokehable. The main lens glass is eleven elements and two nano coatings.

As it is only 67mm diameter you will be able to save a bit on your filter set - get a polariser as well as a good UV for it. It would be a shame to have someone put their cold nose on that beautiful front element.


Monday, June 11, 2012

New NIK Book Wows Snappers

I'm almost ashamed of myself when I write headers like that but then I do so many more things that deserve shame, I run out of stocks of the emotion. In any case, you are this far into the post so you might as well keep on reading.

NIK software are always coming out with new programs  - like the HDR package or the Color Efex 3 - and each of the programs contains a great deal more than can be seen at a glance. Just this week I was prodding around on a sidebar of the old Color Efex 2 and found a button that makes people look like Darth Maul from the Star Wars movies. It was quite effective with portraits of young ladies. They tended to stop right there in the portfolio.

Did I want to succeed, however, with more control and less adventure, I should consult the instructions - and where better than a proper illustrated book on the subject. To help new users, the distributors of the NIK software have made arrangements so that we can offer a copy of  " NIK Software Captured ". It is the definitive work on the subject and should guide anyone through what these amazing programs can do.

The book will be offered free when people purchase either ultimate collections - and they can be had for Photoshop, Lightroom, and Aperture - or when they purchase the Effects collection. The former compilation includes the noise reduction program and the two sharpening programs as well as Color Efex, Silver Efex, and HDR material. The programs themselves are well worth the investment, while the book enables new users to get to terms with the basics before they push that fatal button. Until you are ready to fully understand the force, there is a little bit that tells you that these are not the effects you are looking for....

Persist. Learn all you can. May the NIK be with you.


Canon Workshop Coming Round The Bend

There is a Canon Day coming round the bend and Canon shooters who have been hankering for a bit of action in their shooting will be stoked on this one. I will blog it later in the week when I get more details, but rest assured that this will not be one for the faint of heart. You may want to look out a cap, pair of sunnies, and efficient earplugs.

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New Canon Items

Today is a day to be thankful that we are not under artillery bombardment or afflicted with mange. As the rest of the afternoon is set to be a wasteland of wind, water, and computer outages, it is good to have something to be grateful for. If you are reading this, at least one of us has electricity.

Canon. They've made a new camera. 650D. Same size and shape as the 600D with the swivelling screen and all, but this time they have made that screen touch sensitive. You can pinch, swipe, slide, poke prod, and bang it against the edge of the table. This last command causes it to shut down.

The camera can take the full 1080 HD video, 5 FPS, 18 megapixels, 100-12800 ISO. Two new helper programs to let you do deliberate HDR and 4-layer night exposures. No sky need be featureless - they can all be dark and moody now. If you want to banish the darkness with outboard flashes there is an in-built speedlight transmitter. There is an accessory battery and trigger grip that can be highly recommended.

If you would like to pair this up with a new lens that will enable you to take advantage of that video cpacity, my we suggest the new Canon 18-135 f:3.5-5.6 STM lens? The STM stands for Stepper Motor and it contributes to even faster silent focusing - in the case of the new 650D that means continuous auto focus.. This lens is designed to integrate with an APSC -sized sensor.

If you've got a full frame camera and hanker for a travel prime look at the new Canon 40mm f:2.8 STM. It is a flat little pancake but very sharp and built extremely well. We hope to see one in our stocks because it is cute.

Now - off this goes before off go the lights.


An Afternoon of Opportunity - Mathias Heng

If you can spare an afternoon - this coming Thursday - and if you are a Leica M user, you have an opportunity to see and work with the best in the business - Mathias Heng.

Mathias is a Leica ambassador, and for a very good reason; he has worked as a photojournalist in some of the world's most stressful situations and he knows how to make a real statement with his Leica camera. He is an ambassador to a very good purpose; to show you what you have in your hands and in your eyes and to help you achieve the same smooth reportage of which he s the master.

He's heading for Melbourne this week but will be in Perth on Thursday the 14th. He will be starting his lecture on the Leica M system at Shoot Workshops - 232 Stirling Street, Perth - sharp on 2:00 PM and will be speaking for about three hours. Then he will conduct a field exercise for the participants, showing them how to approach street photography in falling light - a real on-the-street experience to get the images.

Participants will need one M series Leica camera body and one lens each - if you don't have one, contact our shop beforehand and arrangements can be made. Indeed contact our shop anyway - there will be special deal prices for Leica M for participants on this course.

You won't starve or parch - light refreshments will be provided - and the wealth of knowledge from an expert in the business will be a real boost to any Leica user. This is not anonymous speculation on some internet forum - Mathias is the goods and he 's going to be there to give real information and answers.

It will cost you $99 and you need to RSVP to us at or on 93284405 by 5:00 on Tuesday, 12 June.

The whole afternoon and evening will go from 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM but the skills you learn will last a lot longer than that.

Saul has recommended that you look at a video interview with Mathias - go to Youtube at:

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Uniform of the Day

Most professional organisations have uniforms. They can be decorative or utilitarian - ie British guards' regiments in front of Buckingham Palace in red and in front of Kabul in khaki - and they can be complex or simple. But they all have an effect - they define the user as a professional and can be a major factor in elliciting the sort of behaviour one expects from that profession.

I was struck by this on a recent Saturday when I received a compliment from the celebrant for the shirts and ties that I and my assistant were wearing. Apparently this is not normal in the trade - wedding photographers are turning up in increasingly casual array. I wonder if this is leading to an increasingly casual attitude to the work in hand.

One would not think that this would be the case - brides are increasingly well-informed about what is possible in wedding photography and are much more demanding as to standards. The day of the two shots in front of the church and the bridal couple in a brandy glass are over, and good riddance. We can do more now and we DO do more now...but must we do it as slovens?

By all means do not outdo the stars - don't try to arrive in white tie and tails if the bridal party are going to be doing it plain. And you can't control what the guests wear - in some cases you are doing well to keep their fingers out of your camera bag while you are occupied - but you can aim to blend into the surroundings and give a pleasant tone to the proceedings.

Mind, there is a certain value in being dressed so that you are recognisably a working photographer - the guests will sometimes clear out of your path as you try to get the shots the bride pays for. Sometimes the guests will cooperate and bunch together for a group photo before the bar opens and if you give them a uniform to look at as well as a lot of shouting and popping the flash you can sometimes succeed.

I used to favour the sports coat with enough pockets to hold spare magazines or flash bulbs. Them days is gone, but I still wear a long sleeve shirt and tie and add a photo vest in black with sloped lapels. It has 8 zillion pockets and there is space for one extra lens and several extra cards and sets of batteries. You can be caught away from your bag or assistant and still do the job. The black vest looks formal and official and can disappear under the sports jacket if need be.

The hat is kind is a problem. I need one in the bright sun, and if the business it taking place outside I wear one. Never mind what it looks like, I burn to a crisp in the summer.

Final note - if you employ an assistant - clothe them the same as yourself. It is worth the expense to establish a corporate image, and the sight of a team at work ( One carries the rockets, one carries the tube...) gives the bride more confidence. And it makes the assistant act as part of a professional team - pride in appearance means pride in performance.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Here Come De Judge

I was once asked what I thought about camera clubs. I seem to have confused the questioner when I said that they were useful but not as easily concealed as a camera stiletto. It turned out that we were thinking about different things.

One of the other staff members and I will be travelling after work next week to address a camera club and to judge one of their competitions. This means we get to create widespread despair whilst enjoying a cup of tea and a biscuit - in exchange the photography enthusiasts get a little half time entertainment and the chance to beat their fellow club members.

It is all fair and above board, as no-one yet has offered a bribe for our good opinion. There are still three days before the competition, however, so we may hope. I am not quite sure what the going rate for a gold, silver, or bronze would be but I note that coins are made in gold, silver, and bronze and this cannot be just coincidence.

We have not fixed upon the entertaining talk we will give- there was a suggestion of a sort of " Good cop-Bad cop ", but neither of us wanted to be the good cop. As it will be dark by the time we get there I was sort of toying with " Pathfinder and Main  Bomber Stream ". I must look out my maps and flares.

Perhaps it will be safest just to settle for bringing a box of the latest gear and doing a show and tell - or a show and argue, as the case may be. They will have been reading internet forums and we may be able to pick up a few good selling tips. At the very least it will be a night out -  when it's over I hope they let me back in the house...

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Failing to Fail

I failed to fail yesterday, but it was a near thing. Had I not been forgetful, and cached some spare equipment in my kit bag, I could have been up a greased pole without a paddle. Or a mixed metaphor, for that matter.

It was batteries, you see. A couple of weeks ago I purchased several sets of lithium AA cells from a supermarket so that I would have spares for a wedding shoot. I already had Duracells in the flash units but better safe than sorry. The supermarket did not have Duracells so I took another brand. As luck would have it the Duracells had plenty of power for the 700+ shots at the wedding. Well and good.

Yesterday I set out to do a dance shoot and thought to change the flash batteries for the new sets just to make sure. Up on the platform, shooting away, everything as per normal, and then the new batteries - supposedly 8 x normal capacity - packed it in. I got less than 70 shots before the flash gave a warning sign on the LCD screen and refused to go.

Luckily, I had another regiment in the woods - a fresh set of Duracells buried at the bottom of the bag. Quick change and they then soldiered on for 650 more shots, with no faltering.

I reflected that I would stick to Duracell and Inca AA lithium batteries in the future, even if it meant searching them out. Indeed, I have asked for our shop to keep more of the Inca brand in.

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