Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maybelline Or Why You Can't Be True

Professor Charles Berry in the 1950's experimented with a method of increasing engine power for domestic vehicles. He showed that extra engine cooling on the V-8 Ford flathead engine could be provided by the intake of atmospheric water vapour during rain storms and that this extra power improved overall acceleration. In some cases it was sufficient to allow a standard Ford to overtake a much heavier vehicle at 104 miles per hour, even if the pursuit was up a grade. Please see the attached photograph of the experiment.

This sort of illustration in the studio is made possible by several things; the small-sensor digital DSLR, the close-focussing lens, and the digital editing program.

The APSC -sized sensor - in this case within a Nikon D300 - combined with a short focal length lens allows the camera to see the scene with the same angle of view as would be experienced with a dear old 35mm camera in the 1950's or 60's. In those days most people had a camera with a lens of around the 50mm mark, give or take a few millimetres. The car pictures you see now were taken with standard lenses.

The 35mm also gives a better depth of field in a studio setup than would a longer focal length - you need all the depth of field that you can get with close-up subjects and in this case the real bonus is that the 35mm lens is a Tokina with a macro focusing capability. Note you can also get a similar deal with a 40mm Micro Nikkor lens.

The editing program is the simple, but simply marvellous Adobe Photoshop Elements. This is sometimes thought of as a second cousin to the Main Adobe products, but it isn't. You can do a great deal with it - I use the old PSE 6 and now PSE 10 is even better.

What happens is:

1. You set up the scene and the overall lighting. I use Elinchrom studio flash as it is consistent in colour temperature and intensity between flashes.

2. Focus on the close car - find a point 1/3 down the body of the car and use this as an exact plane of focus. Use enough light so that you can use at least f: 16. If you can do it, use f: 22 or 25. Never mind what is happening in the background. Shoot with your camera locked steady - I recommend either getting a Gitzo tripod or welding your camera to a steel beam. Bedrock is also nice.

3. Remove the nearest car and without disturbing the tripod, refocus the camera on the far scenery. Shoot again.

4. Pop the files into your computer and open them up - at first with PSE they will pop up as an ACR window. When they do, adjust the first one until it looks almost perfect and then re-set your camera raw setting for this. This will make sure that the second file you open has the same rendition as the first.

5. With the close car picture open, select around the car and whatever part of the road is in the same plane of focus - take your time and blow it way up on your screen before you steer your mouse or pen around - get that edge on the car nice and sharp. Duplicate whatever you have selected and turn off the background layer underneath.

6. With the background picture open, Magic Select the fake paper sky and delete it out. Again turn off the background and then go out and find yourself a nice image of a real sky to slot into the space below this. Real sky is that stuff outside your computer room and fortunately you do not need to pay modelling fees to take pictures of it. Yet.

 7. Turn the blur tool on, go to 60%, dial down a small fuzzy brush, and go over each edge of the foliage that rims the sky.

8. Open the car layer and drag it up to set over the scenery. If you are using PSE 6 like me you'll have to anchor this layer to one corner and drag it down to 250.2% to match up the backdrop, but if you are using the PSE 10 it'll just snap into registration instantly. What you'll see is the original scene but with a fabulous depth of field that extends from the closest part of the closest car to the far horizon - a DOF that you could never get by one-step optical means.

8. Do that thing with the 60% blur around the edges of the car. This makes each layer blend into the one below it.

9. Darken, colour change, sharpen to taste. Fiddle with the shadows if you must, add captions, borders, frames, and anything else that your aesthetic suggests. Remember that after 38 layers it becomes anaesthetic and you fall unconscious to the floor.

A final note to tie this all together - we sell Nikon camera, Elinchrom flashes,Tokina lenses, and Adobe Photoshop Elements 10. I can point you to the sellers of model cars. Professor Berry's lectures are available on CD. For everything else, come in and ask me.

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Joy of Flash

If you followed yesterday's blog, and have almost started the screw up your courage to try a flash picture...we have good news on two points; equipment and training.

You wanta flash? We gotta flash. We gotta the Nikon SB 910, we gottta the Canon 320EX, the 430 EX II, the 600 EX-RT, we gotta the Metz 48 and 58. Come in and getta you nice fresh flash.

And when you get your new flash unit, pick up your 10% discount coupon for the upcoming Shoot Photography Workshops course:  Small Flash Techniques. This course is being run as a one-day workshop on Sunday the 12th of August at the Shoot Photography studio here in Stirling Street.

The lecture runs from 12 to 4 so you can sleep in a little on the morning - don't sleep too late because you don't want to miss KINGSLEY KLAU as he shows you how to use your new flash...remember...to best advantage. He'll be covering:

Off-camera flash
Camera setup for off-camera control
Small flash portraiture
Shadow filling and softening
Punching up your pictures in Photoshop

Kingsley is the current president of the WAPF, a fully accredited AIPP member, and teaches for the Nikon company. They trust him not to explode the equipment. You can trust him to show you how to get the best from your flash and to use this to vastly improve your general photography*.

The course is not expensive - $ 189 - and you can book with Shoot Photography by calling them on 9228-8232 or going to their email:


* note astro-photographers may need a bigger flash and astral photographers may need to get out more and meet people...

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Fear Of Flash

I learned two things over the weekend shooting - three if you count my continuing experiments in the studio.

First thing - People are frightened of flash. No, not just the persons who have been struck by lightning - novice photographers who go out to see stage events and hope to capture the colour and action with their DSLRs. They shoot away, look at the screen, puzzle at the dark images, boost the ISO, and shoot again. When they get the images back home they are still puzzled at the dark shadows but now they have an accompanying pattern of coloured dots in them. At this point some might become discouraged...and some might become Eduard Seurat...but there is a better technical answer.


Not Gordon, either - I mean flash on, and off your camera. Most of the modern DSLRs have provision for a dedicated flash unit as well as the in-built pop-up. The hot shoe has a pattern of  computer contacts on the upper surface as well as a central firing contact. These pass information to and from the flash unit attached thereto, and the computer in the flash talks to the computer in the camera. Quite what they say between themselves about the operator is another matter, but at least there is agreement.

If you ask them to work in a TTL mode the flash will give a little pop to show the camera what the subject looks like, the camera will compare this to the overall light level that it can see, and then give the flash good advice as to how much more light to pop out for the main exposure. All within the time that the shutter is open. The result in most cases is a pretty good balance of exposure. Some subjects can jigger up the equation but then you can recover this later.

Main thing is where do you want to light to come from and what do you want it to see? Leading on to the second thing - Get that light up high and let it look down on the subjects. I shot belly dancers on Saturday night and the old problem of how to get enough light to the back line without blowing the sequins off the front line girls is easy to solve if you put your flash onto a Manfrotto monopod head and hoist it up on a Manfrotto light stand and let it see the the whole stage from up near the ceiling.

How do you trigger the flash up there? I used a 10 mtr coiled TTL cord running down to the hot shoe on the camera. ( Worked fine, which answers the question whether something that length will transmit TTL data.) If I had chosen to do so, I could have used a wireless radio control system from Pocket Wizard, or Hahnel. I could have set the on-board flash on my Nikon D300 to control the SB 700 flash by an infra-red link, but I wanted to try that coiled cord. Had I used a new Canon camera and new Canon flash I could have had in-built radio TTL....but then I would have had to buy all new lenses and a red bow tie as well...

Point is, that flash let me work at ISO 400 where my camera is comfortable, all the faces got light, and all the colour is real. I have had long experience of Perth stage lighting and unless Michael Edgely is plugging in the lamps and paying for the electricity, things can be pretty drab. Plus stage lighting colour is the opinion of the person setting the gels, and this may be entirely different from either mine or the dancer who has sewn her costume.

There was no mathematics involved. I changed the flashes for their mates at the 100 shot mark to let the batteries cool and the evening went swimmingly. I do not need to fight the computer at home to get good colour and none of the dancers will chase me up the street with scimitars.

Oh, that third discovery in the studio? Next blog.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

New Flash Triggers - Flash Stuff...

Canon users who want to use their 430EX II and 580EX II flashes off camera have a new bit of gear to help them. Hahnel have released their Tuff TTL wireless flash triggers to let you do this easily.

You'll already have seen the Hahnel wireless trigger kits that operate in direct mode - they can shoot over 100 metres with a convenient Canon-fitting hotshoe on the top and a 1/4" screw socket on the bottom. No TTL with that one, but it could be used in one configuration to fire the flash, and in another to fire the camera.

Now the Hahnel people have the TTL version - it is housed in a re-enforced case with rubber covering. There is provision for full TTL operation with Canon flashes and you can command high speed synch, flash compensation, and second-curtain synch right from the transmitter. Range is still 100 metres but in this case they do not intend it to be used to be a remote trigger for the camera.

Best of all, it does not need fenocky batteries to operate - both transmitter and receiver run on standard AA cells.

The set in store right now for $ 149. Extra receivers available for $ 95each.

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New Lowepro Assault Bags In Shop

We see a lot of photographic equipment bags here in our shop - one of the major suppliers is Lowepro. They have the market covered for all sorts of gear - small compacts, medium mirrorless cameras, big DSLR's. You can get nearly any size and configuration of bag that you could imagine - they are always thinking up new designs.

One of the recent additions is a range of bags that they title " DSLR  Video Pack AW ". There are several in the set, ranging from the 150 model up - they get bigger as you go. The basic configuration is familiar to a lot of Lowepro users; a camera space at the bottom of the backpack with a separate accessory/lunch compartment at the top. The bottom camera section has a zipped flap that opens to the side.

All the normal good features of the Lowepro line are there - decent aerated padding for the back, padded shoulder straps, a couple of D rings on the front of the shoulder straps to sling a camera from. There is the integrated waterproof rain cover - the AW designation tells you that - and a waist strap to keep it from flopping about when on the back. What has been puzzling me is the DSLR Video tag that they put on it and how they saw it as different from several other bags in their range. I know what a DSLR shooting video does, but what the heck is there about this bag that specializes it?

So I looked all over, hoicked it onto my back, pretended to be a video shooter, and then the penny dropped. The tripod support that Lowepro incorporates in many of their bags is located differently on this model. Simple as that.

Normally the bucket or pouch that holds tripod feet is something that hangs over the back of a backpack. The same position that Marines used to carry their trench shovels when they clambered down the sides of ships. A position for hikers and bikers as long as the tripod is not too big. Good for carriage but bad for deployment - you need someone else to take it off if you still want to wear the backpack.

The DSLR Video Pack lets you keep in wearing the thing and just reach around to your right to fish out whatever you are using - short tripod, video shoulder rig, monopod, .44  SA Army Colt - whatever. You can also use it as a support point for a monopod attached to your DSLR. You shoot while taking the weight of the rig into the pouch. With the backpack still on your back, you can get up and run when needed - note that running can be in several directions - sometimes the one that gets you the best shot can also provide someone else with the same opportunity...

These are nice bags, and this is a pretty good new design feature.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Faster Robots

My favorite data storage company has just announced some new products for photographers in a hurry.

Drobo have introduced the Thunderbolt Drobo Mini with 2 1/2 inch disk drives and provision to use solid state storage as well - all linked with auto tiering and capable of being daisy chained for multiple storage units. The new news is that this can be done through the Thunderbolt and the USB 3.0 systems so that the data transfer is really lightning fast.

Sometimes I stop to consider this speed thing. In my later film days I considered it pretty fast when I could process the negs from a shoot one night, bang out proof sheets the next night, and show them the third. Then orders printed in a week and who could want more...

Actually I remember rolls of film dropped into the chemist one week and back in a fortnight. But that was when chemists sold medicine instead of jewellery and chocolate bars. Let us continue.

Drobo also have a new bigger machine using the 3 1/2 inch drives that also will be Thunderbolted and USB 3.0'd and will be capable of coping with SSD's.

I use the regular Drobo - I haven't filled it up yet, but the reassurance that it gives me each time that I switch the system on and it tells me that all is well is priceless. It frees up my main computer so that I can make silly mistakes on the desktop and it will faithfully store and show me those follies for ever more. It is like having a built-in brother-in-law but without having to provide beer.


Been There, Done That, Making Money From It

That, in a nutshell, is the experience I had with the time I spent at Shoot Photography Workshops next door to our shop.

Last year I attended a course run by Mark Wagenaar that comprised three evening lectures over a three-week period. The subject was the Aperture 3 program for the Macintosh computers. I had just installed it into my iMac and was unsure what it could do.

Mark is an accredited Apple lecturer and uses the entire system himself - to do photography as well as writing and other computer tasks - so he is not only academically qualified to show, but also to tell. As well, he is a wonderfully patient man - some of my questions needed that.

The Aperture 3 program is a very similar thing to the Adobe Lightroom product - but not entirely so. In some areas it goes far away and far above this. As it is unique to the Mac platform, all the users will be on the same computer page, but it also works in as a partner with any number of other programs that can be accessed. Plug in is not a dirty word.

Mark's lecture is illustrated by real-time work on the projection screen at the front of the room. He brings in files, catalogs them, stores them, then brings them out for modification right there in front of you - no guessing or trying to read down through a page of  > and  +  symbols and arcane commands. If you bring your laptop or iMac with you you can follow along right then and there and finally understand what is happening.

Note that I said I am making money with this experience? Yes - Mark showed me how this program can batch process and re-process raw and jpeg files in a fraction of the time that was formerly required using just a picture editing program. Computer room time has dropped, productivity has soared, and more profit returns to me. 90% of this additional profit is spent on whiskey and women of the night and the other 10% is wasted.

But do not waste time - contact Shoot Photography Workshops right now on their website or by telephone and book in for the course. There'll be three lectures  - one each on the 3rd, the 10th and the 17th of August. The cost will be $ 350 dollars and it will be money well spent. It is one of the few instances I have ever seen of being able to by time with money - and happy time too.

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Ninety Day Wonder

You can make a lot in ninety days - a third of a baby, an entire Army Air Corps fighter pilot, or money using  a deferred lease with Flexirent Commercial.

Leaving aside the first two projects, the Flexirent Commercial people are prepared to let you have three months grace before you need to start paying on a lease for new photographic equipment. There are a number of advantages that they mention in their literature:

Minimal paperwork
Fast approvals
Easy monthly repayments
No ongoing fees
End-of-term options
Tax deductions

For people with their own photography businesses - and we mean with an ABN and a  BAS and the ATO hovering incessantly...the leasing idea can be a very good one. You tie up less of your capital in equipping yourself initially ( Though remember that any financing eventually means that you will pay back somewhat more money than a direct cold cash sale ) and you can spread the financial load out over a longer period. You get the opportunity near the end of a lease to cope with equipment change and industry upgrade better than sinking all your money into one generation of gear. In some cases there are additional reassurances if gear goes wrong.

If you would like to review the situation, Flexirent Commercial are available on 1300 340 447 and can discuss fast approval. If you would like to communicate with them on your computer their address is:



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Canon Camera - We Get A Sneak Preview

Yesterday was particularly satisfying here in the shop - the Canon representative slipped in wearing a dark cloak, a wide-brimmed hat, and a surreptitious expression. His first words were "Pssst. C'mere. Wanna see what I got under this cloak?"

We nervously agreed. He unfolded a sample of the new Canon EOS-M camera with a zoom lens on it. Swearing us to secrecy, possibly in the hope that we would tell everyone we can, he let us play with the camera.

It is a mirrorless digital with removable lens - Canon have their own EF mount for this - and uses the LCD screen on the back as viewfinder. The interface is mostly menu-driven but there is a three-way mode swithch surrounding the shutter button.

I saw the 18-55 lens mounted - it had some of the best ergonomics and finish of any lens in this class that I have seen - really sleek but with great knurling to zoom with. There is going to be a kit with a pancake-style 22mm f:2 lens as well. And I am willing to bet that there will eventually be a whole series of lenses dedicated to this mount.

Ah, but here it gets interesting. Canon will also be supplying an EF to EOS adapter that will allow Canon users to attach their regular EOS lenses to the new camera. You might be able to keep this new camera in your camera bag as an emergency back-up when you are using your big DSLR - and when you need to get more focal length from your current lenses, well away you go. I'm afraid I can visualize someone crawling up Bluff Knoll lugging a 600mm Canon lens, a Gitzo Studex 5 tripod, the new Canon EOS-M camera and an ordnance survey map...and proceeding to spy on everyone for a ten-mile radius. I have these thoughts because we have these customers...

The new camera will have full HD video, touch screen focus and fire, menus similar to the 650D, and ISO from 100-12,800.

The whole outfit looks like it will be a very stylish delight - even if your primary brand loyalty is another system, the camera will be attractive in its own right.

Now how's that for keeping an industrial secret. BTW, after we had all had a play with the camera he put it back into the lining of his cloak and slunk away. No idea when they will arrive or what price they will be, but they are coming.


Last Call For Fashion

This Saturday is your chance for a look at the world of fashion photography - and you'll have one of Perth's experts to guide you.

Stefan Gosatti has been taking fashion, editorial, event, and specialized product images for a decade and knows the runways of New York, Hong Kong, Melbourne, and Sydney as well as those of Perth. Fashion runways that is - he still lets someone else fly the Boeings.

Come along to the Shoot Photography workshop on the 28th of July for an introduction to the things that the industry needs.

Stefan will be showing you the images and explaining the procedures for setting yourself up to produce them. He'll be able to explain lighting in the studio for editorial fashion, and how to take this out to events. On a human level, he can help you to understand how to direct models to get the best of their skills and to help them to help you get the image you want.

The workshop will cost you $ 290 - and the student list is almost complete, hence our header. Ring Shoot Photography or go to their website at:


Please don't leave it too late - this will be a vital part of a fashion enthusiast's education. It also features in the AIPP 2012 CPD accreditation process.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Workshop Diary

Saturday, 21st of September, 2012

Did goe to Wanneroo and whiled away day at the Barbagallo Raceway. Was vastly entertained.

 It was a motorcycle practise day and a perfect opportunity for Mark Horsbrugh to lecture the enthusiasts on the fine art of motor sports photography. Mark attends many motor sports meetings of all ilk - and in the case of the major events takes many, many exoposures. The system that he follows to review and classify these images before they go to publishers finally explained for me the extensive sorting systems that software manufacturers build into their systems. Without these, I suspect one would be lost in a welter of images.

But Mark was not lost, nor was he unfamiliar with his subject. He broke the news gently about the business of getting into motor sport photography - the difficulties associated with getting to shoot major races and the long hours required to provide the images. But he was also encouraging to the starters - he had a number of good suggestions as to how to approach local racing organizations and publishers. Who knows - someone there in the 60+ audience may well pursue the sporting image in the future.

They would do well to remember Mark's photo of the racing car heading toward him out of control, and to look a the sequence of images that led up to the winning shot. As he mentioned, the thing stopped a metre away from him...that's a metre in front...

The studio setup was fun - thanks to two lovely motorcycles loaned by friends and Megan the professional model. Please see Ernest Cesar's album that he has put up on our Facebook page and see what could be done with Elinchrom Quadra Ranger sets and with Canon speedlites. Note that the new control system for Canon that utilizes the 600 flash is elegance itself.

We shall also be interested to see some of the racing photographs taken by the attendees - they got a chance to go track-side at one of the good bends to practise what Mark had taught. The light stayed good for most of the day - and no rain - so the bikes could wind out pretty well. Note to self: If I ever deliver a lecture it will probably not a good idea to do it next door to racetrack full of motor cycles going at full tilt. Or do it over a Tannoy.

Good day altogether

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Wise Precaution For Photographers

No one can really predict the future of technology - think of all those magazines in 1948 that had you flying to work in a car with folding wings and hopping down to the supermarket in a jet suit. Remember when your new vehicle was going to be gliding along automatic highways while you played cards - under a perspex dome? Sound like the trip to Joondalup at 5:45?  Ha ha ha.

Likewise with cameras. Digital? What's digital? Ahem...

Well, remember that even now we can hardly predict where our photographic careers will take us. There are quite a few instances I can recall of photographers changing brand-name systems right in mid stream even when the equipment they used was professional quality. They had their reasons, and we hope they found the peace of mind and results that they craved. But many of them had a difficult time of it.

You see the problem is that they changed from one extensive collection of lenses to another at the same time that they needed to change the body and flash systems. It could be quite confusing. To reduce this sort of stress, I would prescribe a course of preventative measures.

As they cannot tell which camera system or indeed which lens will prove best for future, wise photographers will lay down a cellar of lenses against need. If they are using, say, C cameras right now, they should buy lenses for N, P,S, and L cameras and put them aside in careful storage. The same can be said if you start from the N end, or the L, F, P, etc. It doesn't matter what you use now - if the internet forums, camera clubs, or voices in the night tell you to change systems - you will already be half-way there.

It is nothing less than sensible economics to divert some of the money each week that would be wasted on food, shelter, or medical treatment for your family to the purchase of lenses. Unlike children, lenses do not need to eat, rarely develop influenza, and will not pester you for sweets.

I have been asked if it is best to concentrate on one system, purchasing the full range of focal lengths for manufacturer A before moving on to manufacturer B - or whether one should buy up similar focal lengths from each manufacturer before moving on to the next one. It is really up to the individual. The goal is to own each lens from each manufacturer and to have them ready to use at a moment's notice.

In a future article we will deal with the case necessary to transport these lenses on a day-to-day basis in case the need to purchase new camera bodies occurs while one is out. Those of you who work for the railways and can get access to a 40' boxcar will be at an advantage here.

Note: Zoom lenses are no excuse for not possessing prime lenses. Remember that Boy Scouts are always prepared ... and that Girl Guides know it.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New Glass To Rent

Looks like the Rental department is going to spread its wings with some new lenses for you - the users of the Hasselblad H system will be able to access the new 100mm 2.2 lens - that is the fastest that they make for their system right now - it is a very smooth piece of silica.

If you are a Canon or Nikon shooter who wants to try the best of the German optics, we will be sending out Zeiss lenses  for these systems - it looks like there will be the following:

1. 15mm f:2.8 for N and C
2. 18mm f:3.5 for N and C
3. 28mm f:2 for N
4. 35mm f:1.4 for N and C
5. 50mm f:1.4 for N and C
6. 85mm f:1.4 for N and C
7. 100mm f:2 Makro for N and C

Zeiss lenses were chosen by Nasselblad in their V series as the best glass in the world - or out of it. See the NASA pictures of all their space flights in the 70's and see if you agree. We are not proposing that you rent our lenses and blast off, but here in Perth you will find that they are a real revelation as far as clarity and resolution go.

Please note these Zeiss lenses are only auto focus if your name is Otto and you are prepared to focus them by turning the front ring yourself. If your name is Manuel you should be right at home.

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The Heavy Artillery From Nikon

Nikon have just announced that they will be producing a new 800mm f:5.6 AFS VR lens. No word yet on exact release date for general purchase and no word on the price but their press release says that they will have examples to be seen at the NPS stand at the Open Championship later this year.

I looked up what the Open Championship is and apparently it is a prestigious golfing game played in Lytham, Lancashire. It is right by the sea so they should be able to get those old Soviet submarines up on the beach easily. Why one would make a game of these is beyond me, but apparently it is famous, and Nikon will have the lens there for their professionals to look at.

It will also be displayed at Photokina later in the year.

This is going to be a remarkable device for the Nikon photographer. 800mm on an FX camera with VR stabilization means that the avid wildlife photographer will be able to optically approach what they would not dare to come near physically - and with a clarity of focus that should be award-winning. I am sure that we will see the users of DX-sized Nikon cameras trying it out too, extending their virtual focal length to 1200 mm. This is getting into serious surveillance territory.

Of course it is not without cost - see note above about how we don't know the price yet. You can safely bet it will be over the $ 100 mark...But I mean the weight and size - this is an 800mm lens that does not fold the light path so you are going to have to cope with 800mm of something - metal, plastic, rubber, and glass - to get that focal length and at this level of build quality there is going to be some meat on them bones. Unless you are the Incredible Hulk you will not be hand-holding this one - tripod or tripods( yes, really, look at some of the rigs for long lenses in the past ) or a bipod on the ground. When you fly with this one the airline will be weighing it, not you. Of course they will be charging you, but if you can afford the lens you can afford to ride up the front of the plane with the comfy seats and the free bags of peanuts.

When are we going to get one? I thought you'd never ask.

You'll probably have noted the weddings tag for this bog posting as well. This should be the ideal lens for Royal weddings...or local affairs where you are not particularly close to the bridal party. ;)

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Lenses Here - Just In

Dang, we're hot this morning.

New Nikon lenses are here and on the desk in front of me.

The 18-300 mm f:3.5-5.6G ED VR II is the big -range DX lens that steps on from the 18-200 mm VR II that we have known and loved for years. It is the same shape but a little bigger and a little heavier - and of course stretches out to 300 mm.

This is the focal length for field sports, close surfing, big animal safaris, airshows, car races, hydroplanes, and belly dance shows. Trust me on that. It might be a little wide ranging for a wedding but if it was a dangerous wedding you could stand off  further and not be hurt.

Superb Nikon quality with a dust excluding gasket at the back. The new all-purpose field lens.

Number two on the table is the new 24-85 mm f:3.5-4.5G ED VR lens for FX. Here's your all-purpose street lens for the new D800 and D4. Range enough for people and architecture and light enough to hang off your shoulder for the entire day. crank your ISO up to 6400 or more with the new generation of cameras, turn on the VR switch, and head out confidently into the dusk without a tripod. As it is only 72mm filter size you needn't break the bank to put on a circular polarizer, either.

Good times for Nikon shooters.


Psssst - Hot Rumour

Well here it is - finally I get to know something before everybody out in the internet forums does. We've just had a staff meeting about some new equipment and decided which things we will be able to present to the clients. It must be like this in the toy industry when they bring out new models.

If you are a macro enthusiast, or deal in small studio work and product photography, check back occasionally onto this blog. There is something coming that will delight you.

Likewise, if you travel with a tripod...ahh but I must not give too much away...

Must go look out the old Milo tin and start to put the spare change in it - we're going to have some fun stuff in stock.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Three Good Ideas

Three good ideas for a rainy day - four actually.

First is the Steadypod. Read the special advertisement that we put in the Sunday Times to see the illustration of this handy device. It is a very travel-friendly way to get camera stability in places that don't let you use a tripod. Still camera users will be able to reduce their shutter speeds and get more low-light shots and video enthusiasts will be able to show their motion-picture shots without having to make excuses for the violent jiggling. Unless they are filming certain forms of middle east dancing and then violent jiggling is applauded...

Second idea off the rank is the Hoodman Hoodloupe 3.0. Try as you might in bright sunlight, you will not be able to see the back screen on a compact camera or DSLR to make out what you have captured. The Hoodloupe is the answer - focus the adjustable lens for your own eyesight and clap it onto the screen. Clean and clear. Note for residents of Vancouver: the bright sunlight we mentioned does not apply to you. Ever.

Last one is the funnest one - the ALM handling frame and lens that converts your camera phone into a respectable camera. It has enough weight and shape to let you hold the phone steady and an additional lens to widen the viewpoint, as well as a small additional microphone. It really does surpass some compact cameras when it comes to everyday shots.

Fourth idea? Click over online to our online shop and order one or more of the above. It's a rainy week - stay in with a cup of tea and a scone and we'll send the stuff out to you. If you don't have a computer, and are reading this on the back of a chip packet, ring us up on 93284405 and we'll process your order.

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I'm Going To Europe Tomorrow...

And I need to get a tripod for my Canon/Nikon/Sony/Pentax DSLR with a 70/200 and a 24/70 lens. I need it to be small and light and easy to pack into my carry-on luggage and cheap. But it has to be very steady as I am going to do star trail photographs at Stonhenge as well as all the major cathedrals of Europe and the red light district of Amsterdam. And I need a bag for it, does it come with a bag? Do I get this duty-free?


No, Dear, you don't get it duty free. The government might give you the GST back at the airport but you are still bound by the laws of physics* and are going to have to think carefully about what you are asking for.

Your cameras and your lenses are good devices - you'll be able to take clear images if you steady the rig - but they are heavy. They far exceed the safe weight bearing capability of small plastic tripods with small plastic heads. You would be inviting disaster if you put your expensive gear onto a cheap tripod - gravity works all the time and it works particularly well just over cobblestone streets or muddy fields. If the only thing that is between your $ 7000 worth of Japanese precision and the stones is $ 49.95 of Chinese plastic you are asking for it.

Accept the fact that a tripod that is adequate will be bigger than your handbag. There are some you might pack into your suitcase at the expense of underwear room but a better solution might be a dedicated bag.
Accept the fact that if you are trying to save weight, you must look at carbon fiber legs rather than metal - and you'll be paying more for them. Accept the fact that the head you put on the tripod needs to have an adequate surface area to grip with heavy long lenses, and that means a larger ball head or three-way head.

You needn't look for the proverbial battle-cruiser foremast ( though users of the Gitzo Studex 5 might think they have got one ) but you do need enough structure to do the job. Let me submit for your consideration the idea of the Cullmann Magnesit 528C combined with a Cullmann MB6.1 ball head.

The thing will fit into a suitcase. The total weight is 2.5 Kg. It stands hairline high on a grown man. The spreader and clamps are magnesium for lightness - they are adjustable for tension and wear. It has rubber feet as well as ground spikes so when you unfold it in the center of St. Peter's basilica you won't mark the parquet floor. ( Just try not to drop your camera as the Swiss throw you out the front door.)

It costs $ 439 for the legs and $ 249 for the head and carries a 10 year warranty. They are in stock right now so if you are leaving town tomorrow come see us today.

* And ye canna change the laws o' physics, Captain...

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Friday, July 13, 2012

Holy Utility Belt, Batman!

I've just been watching a colleague pack up the showbags for the Canon 2012 Workshop that is coming. We'll be going to Barbagallo Raceway on the 21st of this month  - it's a Saturday - for about the most exciting camera day yet. Mark Horsburgh is going to show us his motorsport work and then show us how he does it - with professional bodies, lenses, and lighting. It will be motorcycles so there is bound to be a lot of fast and terrifying action during the track sequences and a great deal of saturated colour in the pits.

Pretty good show bag - I can see water bottles, lanyards, pens, rain protectors, Hoodman Lens Cleanse sachets, and the packing is still going on. Over in another part of the room is a big pile of Army .44 pistols and ammunition but I'm not sure if they are for the workshop - they might just be for the school holidays. In any event there is going to something to take home besides great images and a slight case of deafness. Note: these are racing motorcycles and they have big exhaust pipes.

Wanna be in on the action? We're still taking bookings for participants - ring us up here at the shop and tell us a credit card number for $ 199 and you're in. We'll have plenty of the new Canon EOS D1x cameras and the EOS 5D MkIII cameras to try, as well as a big table of long Canon lenses. Rain or shine there should be some really exciting images out there at Barbagallo Raceway and this is your chance to see how the best photographer uses the best equipment to capture them.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012


Do you remember your first roll of colour film? How you saved up for it and went out and shot the brightest things you could find plus a sunset? How you proudly bored everyone in the family with the slides for a month after?

Well I'm betting that you can still find those slides somewhere in the house - unless you burned the house down or lived in Darwin. Go look them out and peer through them again. Disregard the dust on the surface - overzealous housekeeping is a sign of a weak character. We're strong in my family - we've got dust bunnies the size of Volkswagens. But I digress.

Look at what you saw and recorded. Look at how you rendered it. Consider how far you have come in your photographic career if you can use the term "render" and not mean stucco on a wall. Quite an improvement, eh?

Well, spare a thought for those photographers who have not improved their focusing skill, or their ability to judge light, or their compositional eye past that first roll of Muddychrome. They still have fingerprints on the emulsion side of their digital sensors and they still have camera shake in 6 dimensions. They still take pictures of dirty dishes in the sink and give them world-changing complex titles. About the only difference between their output now and  then is that now they are iconic legends, award-winning master ambassadors, and world-famous branded artistic entities.

 Perhaps that course of study at a university or technical school or the years that you have spent competing in the camera club have been a mistake? Should you have been roaming the world on photo safaris and journalistic exploration when all you really needed was a fried egg on a plate and a cigarette butt? Perhaps you should have just gone for another sunset, but this time wrap the lens in waxed paper and kick the tripod over. Ah, regret is a difficult emotion to deal with.

Tell you what. We still have a chance. Go to your hard disk or cloud storage and draw out the first 36 images that pop up on the screen. Type in random codes if you need to. Open them in a really basic editing program and add a plug-in or app that makes a 35mm film effect on the edge of the image. Add grain. Add dust and specks if the program has it or just wash over the entire images with a picture of a dead rat at 12% transparency. Motion blur half of them. Now type the entire content of last year's motivational calendar under the images as titles - one sentence at a time. Don't stop when you get to the printer's advertisement - it can be as poignant as the rest of the thing.

Now print 'em, frame 'em, and sell 'em.

Is this a great art or what?


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Africa At A Decent Distance With Canon

Whenever I see photographs of animals done really well with really good equipment, I cannot help but think of the circumstances they were taken under. The insect and bird photographs are thins of beauty but the large animal ones are the ones that really rivet me. I can only imagine how difficult or dangerous it must be to approach the subjests.

This is shown fully in an article by Denis Glennon AO, who tours Africa with photo safaris. He has recently had an opportunity to use the new Canon 300mm f:2.8 L IS MkII lens and has written a detailed account of the lens with examples of animal shots. The article is very detailed - Mr. Glennon knows what he is about and has had a great deal of experience with the equipment and the subject. It would be superfluous to repeat his conclusions here as he explains his findings much more clearly in his own words.

I highly recommend that you look though the article at:

If you would like to try the lens yourself, please contact us here at the shop. Canon users can do no better than equip themselves from the company's own lens lineup.

In case you were wondering about the decent distance mentioned in the title - well, have a look at the lions and see if you don't agree that 300mm is a good idea...


Gentlemen, Start Your Engines...

And I hasten to add, Ladies. I mean ladies start your engines, not gentlemen start your ladies. Oh what the heck, somebody start something...

WE will be starting to enjoy ourselves at the 2012 Canon Workshop this month. It will be on the 21st of July - that's a Saturday - and will be held at the Barbagallo Raceway in Wanneroo.

The guest presenter is Mark Horsburgh who has the honour of being one of Australian motor sports most successful photographers. Successful and spectacular. Google up some of his work and see what I mean. He'll be showing us what he does and how he does it in the morning, and then there will be lunch and trackside time for Perth's entusiasts to capture some of the action.

Apart from the motorcycles flying around the track, there will be pit-side shooting time too with professional lighting and model. One thing you can count on with motor sports, whether moving or static, is plenty of colour. Racers are not shy about painting things. Turn your saturation up to three zillion and wear the sunnies!

All joking aside, there will be Camera Electronic And Canon people there to help you have a good time - we're bringing new Canon EOS 1Dx cameras for people to see, as well as new EOS 5D Mk III cameras. There will be a good variety of lenses to experiment with - I'm guessing the long fast zooms will be popular when it comes to trackside shooting.

Of course it wouldn't be a Camera Electronic event without special offers and deals, so be sure to talk to Saul and Howard.

Places are filling rapidly - give us a ring here at the shop or drop us an email to secure one. It'll cost $ 199 for the day but the picture excitement will be priceless. Heck with weddings - we're going to the racetrack!

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AIPP WA Epson Professional Photography Awards

Here's the detailed results of the recent presentation of the AIPP WA Epson Professional Photography Awards - held on the 4th of July at the East End Bar and Lounge, Fremantle. You'll recognize some of the names as they are what Claude Rains referred to as " Usual Suspects ". We've rounded them up so here's looking at you, kids...

Commercial Division

Finalists:  Russell Barton
               Tony Hewitt
               Stefanie King

Runner up:  Tony Hewitt

Winner:  Russell Barton

Family Division

Finalists:  Robert Alla
               Gary Sarre
               Jane Bennett

Runner up:  Robert Alla

Winner:  Jane Bennett

Portrait Division 

Finalists:  Steve Wise
               Rebecca Johansson
               Greg Hocking

Runner up:  Greg Hocking

Winner:  Steve Wise

Wedding Division

Finalists:  James Simmons
               John Woodhouse
               Rebecca Johansson

Runner up:  Rebecca Johansson

Winner:  James Simmons

Illustrative Division

Finalists:  Christian Fletcher
               James Simmons
               Alan McDonald

Runner up:  Christian Fletcher

Winner:  James Simmons

Landscape Division

Finalists:  Lise Goessmann
              Tony Hewitt
              Vittorio Natoli

Runner up:  Tony Hewitt

Winner:  Vittorio Natoli

Student Division

Finalists:  Gerrie Cooney
               Adam Browne
               Nico Kenderessy

Runner up:  Nico Kenderessy

Winner:  Gerrie Cooney

Emerging Division

Runner up Jennifer de Vos

Winner:  Lillian Frost

Album Award

Winner:  Jodie Lagana

Print Handlers Award

Winner:  Christian Fletcher

John Whitfield-King Award

Winner:  James Simmons

WA Professional Photographer of the Year

Runner up:  James Simmons

Winner:  Vittorio Natoli

Of course congratulations to the photographers who have gained these awards. It will happen again next year and here's hoping they can play it again, Sam...

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A Blooming Photo Competition

The orchid is a very strange flower - it is generally seen on three occasions; funerals, school proms, and field trips in the rain. Surprisingly similar circumstances, in my experience.

Well here's a chance to break the cycle. The Australian Orchid Council is holding a photographic competition this spring in conjunction with the 19th AOC conference and show. This would appear to be a good one as it has a fair prize offer and an open entry form.

Obviously they are looking for pictures of orchids - and I daresay orchids in relation to the wider environment. In any case you can get a more detailed idea of what they want and what the conditions of entry are by asking them at aocconference@dodo.com.au.

Looks as if they are splitting the contest into two sections; Colour and Black and White. They have mentioned that it is open to anyone over the age of 12 and the prizes on offer are $ 1000 for each of the divisions. They will want to use your pictures for promotional purposes, but you'll get a mention if they do.

They are asking for the works to be submitted mounted on A4 foam boards so that they can be displayed - the conference will be at the Burswood Entertainment Center between the 13-16 of September. As I said, go to their address or website and find out when entries will be required.

So get snapping - still time to take in a few funerals, dances, or days spent slogging through the bush to capture the image - there is $ 2000 and artistic fame ready for the taking.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Making A Name For Yourself

I should have bought a better dictionary - the old one I have is written in quill pen on yellowed paper and is bound in leather but I am still finding it inadequate. I see from the flyleaf that this is only a draft copy - it says " Dr. Sml. Johnson - His Booke " Perhaps he will publish a new one.

The stumbling point is it does not define a particular class of photographer. If I look at a photographer who takes or makes pictures for the sheer love of the art, the word " photographic amateur " seems correct. If the photographer makes the images and sells the results for money then " photographic worker or tradesperson " would be good. If the photographer teaches the art, then  they can add " professional " to the description. Much the same applies to playing football or making love.

But what of the photographer who takes the picture and works diligently for the purpose of winning competitions and awards and applause? Try as I might, I cannot fix ( even using sodium thiosulphate ) upon an adequate adjective. Most of the ones I try, like " competitor " sound restrictive, if not a little mean. Surely there must be a better and more honourable name - I mean the only time you see the word competitor these days in the newspaper is when it is associated with drug taking or bribes. ( I wonder if sponsorship by a pharmaceutical manufacturer scores on both counts...)

This is a blog - but I can't write it all. Post back a few ideas for words and I'll report them to the masses. I can't promise an award but I can introduce you to people who seem to have a lot of them.

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