Friday, May 31, 2013

Tio Dick's Feijoada

Look it up, look it up...

This tasty stew of assorted ingredients has something for every taste. As it is a cold day, we will start with a hot item:

1. Rollei 35 RF camera fitted with a Sonnar 40mm f:2.8 lens

This has just come into the s/h department and is pretty darn rare. It is a modern 35mm rangefinder camera made to Rollei specifications by Cosina in Japan. Some people will recognise the shape as being similar to Voigtländer cameras from the same stable. Similar, but that Sonnar lens will spell the difference for the user. This is a chance for traditionalists to do the 35mm RF in style.

2. Promaster 2500 EDF flash

Cheap as chips, and you can get these with either Nikon or Canon dedication. For cameras with just a plain hot shoe they'll work in auto mode so if your flash shots from the in-built flash are just not cutting it, this is a very good buy.

3. Honl Lens Wrap

Ballistic nylon on the outside and fleece on the inside with two velcro fasteners. Wrap your precious up in this and pop it in the camera bag or suitcase for travel.

4. B+W 1000x neutral density filter

For all those people who want to clean city streets of passers-by or to smooth out waterfalls and seas - this is a screw-in answer. Like the big rectangular stopper filters, but you can get this one in regular round shape for 62mm, 72mm, and 77mm. The heading image is a picture of a black cat taken in a coal bin at midnight with one of these filters. Notice the smooth fur tones on the back of the animal.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Getting It to Gel - The Strobist's Guide To Colour

I cannot deny that I like certain things - Manhattan cocktails, pretty girls, hot rods, and colourful pictures. Not for me the desaturated masterwork images with every tone filtered through an old teabag - while I can still see I want to see colour.

One exception - I like to see monochrome images made with Woodburytype toning. The rich brown is much preferable to weak sepia.

But back to colour, and particularly colour in the. If you are a strobist - a person who strives to use small portable flashes to make studio-quality images out in the wider world - you undoubtedly knwo about the various wireless control systems - they let you use one or more speed lights off camera with a varying level of control between the lights. In my case I use the Nikon D300 cameras and they can control Nikon's Sb 600, 700, and 910 flashes very well.

My new passion, and big thrill, is to use these flashes  with gel modification. I selected the Honl range of gels from our shop and equipped my fill and hair light with them by means of the Honl speed strap. Much less fuss than sticky tabs or clamps, it comprises a wool band that wraps around the head of the flash, and onto which the gels can stick by velcro.

I invested in three packets - a sampler that gave me basic colour correction CTO and CTB gels as well as clear primaries, a selection that was referred to as "Autumn" and one with the title "Hollywood" As you can imagine the "Autumn" has warm colours - the "Hollywood " features hot pinks and purples. You get 5 different shades in each packet and two filters of each shade - ten in all.

I also indulged in a Honl filter wrap case - and this is a wonderful way of carrying 30 filters in safety.

The first results  highlight a Khaleegi troupe of dancers - wild colour to start with on the costumes set into the pastel of the gels - these are firing into a white muslin drop.

The second is a darker evocation for an upcoming WAMED dance - here the fill and hair were gelled with a blue-green but the main was plain to bring out skin tone. A little more tone was rolled in with an Alien Skin plugin filter.

The Honls are not unique but they are certainly well worked-out and I can recommend them to anyone out shooting.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Themed Studio - Narrowing Your Focus

So you've got your set of studio flash lights - you chose Elinchrom or Profoto? Good for you - they will work for decades and they will make your images look good. You've invested in manfrotto studio accessories like Expan roll holders and Autopoles and light stands? Great - Manfrotto make some of the sturdiest gear around and there are so many ways you can clamp and combine that you'll never be stuck for ideas. You've got your first roll of Superior paper? White, black, or Mardi Gras Pink? I've got TWO rolls of Mardi Gras at my place and they are wonderful!

So, What are you gong to do? What clientele do you want at your studio? What will make your studio....a studio?

If you are lost for an answer, now is the time to think of a theme or a niche - to make a business plan - or to resign yourself to artistry and Easy Mac for dinner...

There are studios that sell themselves upon their photography of...families, school groups, sports clubs, weddings, food, fashion, architecture, jewellery, catalog products, nudies and boudies, cats and dogs, and a whole host of others.

If you have a bent for something - I have my own specialties - this can tell you what to concentrate on. If your field of endeavour becomes a field of expertise, well and good. You might not be able to ensure that you make a living from this excellence, but it is a better bet than trying to trade upon ignorance and inability.

If you find that your first target choice is over-catered or is so swamped with over-promotion as to exclude a new studio, step a little aside and look for another approach to it - or approach a different clientele. If the town is flooded with baby studios taking the same picture of sleeping infants propped on their forearms, either figure out a new way to suspend the child or find another subject that could be stuffed into an oversize teacup.

If you find your pictorial approach is too far in advance of fickle public taste - or too far anchored in the past - change your approach to provide the current sort of fickle.  You might be one month behind the cutting edge of fashion, but Perth operates about 6 months slower than the rest of the world anyway.

When all else fails, brand yourself, market yourself, tweet, blog, and twit until everyone blocks you with their spam filter, and never, ever let an opportunity to attend an opening of ANYTHING pass you by. Whatever they are exhibiting, selling, or promoting, attend - there are usually drinks and bits of cheese on a stick. If you cannot get eating money out of your studio, at least you can survive, albeit slightly drunk and constipated...

Uncle Dick

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Whaddoo I Spend My Mine Money On Now?

If you are currently sitting on an iron ore wallet - and have exhausted all the other possibilities of Western Australian photography; HDR sunsets, trying to make Lesmurdie Falls look like Niagara, Barbagallo Raceway, Thailand, Africa, British Columbia, or Notherdam Gorge, may I suggest you come into Camera Electronic and get something new?

See the attached images - they are of unnatural lights taken in natural light from artificial light sources. Sort of like an Escher etching, but with a camera.

Studio lighting is wonderful. It gives you controllable illumination, multiple artistic effects, and a good reason to spend more of your mining money. You can set up a home studio and capture whatever your heart desires - no trekking, traipsing, or travel. You no longer are restricted to the "magic minute" at sunrise or sunset that the travel writers blurt on about - you can create magic minutes all day long if you like. You can make pictures as saturated or as neutral as you wish. You can MAKE your subjects look good, rather than sitting there waiting an hour in the flies and heat hoping that it will happen.

Hard to do? No. Hard to learn? No. Books are all over out there to help you do whatever lighting you want to do - some of them are just pictures of nudes with a line drawing to show where the lights were supposed to be - some of them are technically-specific lighting recipe books. Suit yourself which ones you take into the loo with you.

You can also get good lighting training next door at Shoot Photography - they run periodic courses in the subject. We have promotional nights every now and then when a good studio photographer shows you what can be done with specific equipment. You can buy a set of lights and the associated studio backdrop stand and just set out on your own journey of discovery - I did and now where the hell am I? No, no - it's all good - I DO know what I am doing, Officer...

With a bit of luck, when the mine shuts down, you can retire to your studio in Perth and make a modest fortune. I did. I made it from a large fortune.

PS: It is also possible to spend mine money on mines, but you'll have to lay the field yourself...

Uncle Dick

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The Adventitious Photographer _ By Kaye-Sarah Serah

The philosophy of " What will be, will be " has been useful for centuries as an excuse for not planning properly, not behaving properly, and not taking responsibility for what has actually occurred. Didn't work out so well for the Austro-Hungarian empire in 1918 but was a real money-spinner for Doris Day in the 1950's...

With that in mind I packed the roller bag for yesterday evening's belly dance shoot in Wellard. Not normally known as the capital of Middle Eastern culture, the suburb was playing host to Shimmy Skirt - a Khaleegi group. Khaleegi is colourful, if noisy, and demanded equal colour in the photos.

I've decided to keep the studio Elinchrom flash units in the studio. These days for an outside shoot I pack three Nikon speed lights, three or four different folding light stands or clamps, and a small Lastolite folding softbox. Together with a dreadful old background stand kit, a couple of muslins, and an umbrella, this comprises a pretty good mini studio for groups up to 8 people.

What sort of lighting setup do you get with this? Main through the softbox, fill into the umbrella, and choose whether No.3 light will be a background wash or a hair light suspended from the crossbar of he backdrop set with a Manfrotto nanoclamp. ( Yay nanoclamp. Small and useful.)

As it was Khaleegi, I wanted washes of colour - Honl speed light gels did that - I have indulged in two more packets of assorted colours. If you fire through them onto a light backdrop the colour is pastel - if you fire into a dark backdrop it is intense - so simple. If you look straight into the flash when you fire it you don't see squat for the rest of the evening.

Note that in the small space of a mini studio, the command system of the Nikon D300-series cameras ( and the others of the ilk...) is great - you can order the intensity of two additional groups of flashes as well as the one on the camera and you can vary these right from the camera position itself. It is a light-code control rather than a radio signal, but as long as the remotes can see the command flash, it works brilliantly. If you need to, you can code it up so that the flash from the camera does not actually appear in the final exposure.

So - what was, was. Thank you Doris. And what was looked pretty good - because I planned the shoot and took the right gear. Please come into the shop and let me bore your ears off with other how-to information. They pay me to do it.

Uncle Dick

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Gone Bush With Camera Electronic

Last weekend we lost the bosses. Yes, we looked behind the wardrobe and no, they weren't there. They had escaped to the bush near Dwellingup at the Nanga Bush Camp.

The Western Australian Photographic Federation held a weekend retreat/seminar/camp there on the 24th, 25th and 26th of May. We packed the 4WD full of shop goodies and Saul and Howard took a pretty good trade presentation down for the WAPF members.

These things are always a bit of a puzzle to know what exactly to send. I bet this year on rain and packed a dozen of the Op/Tec rain sleeves and three of the Promaster rain jackets in the mix. In the end, it looks as if it was fine weather. Ah, well, a lot of other things caught the eye of the attendees so all is well.

Note from the attached photos that Nathan Archer conducted a class on portraiture and Sasha the model was there to help the photographers put some of Nathan's ideas into effect. If you're going to learn something it is good to learn from experts.

The WAPF always puts on fine shows - Ric McDonald sees to that, and Perth photographers would do well to look to the WAPF site to see what is coming up in the future - I know the big exhibition at the cinema last year was a major event and I suspect they will build on that to have even a better one this year.

"I want three volunteers for a hazardous mission. You, you, and you..."

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Fishing For Hobbyists - Niche Picking Need Not Be Nit Picking

I'm in two minds whether to be ambivalent here. Should I post this idea on this blog site or on my own personal blog that is written in the comfort of my old darkroom? I can say meaner things at home and unlike work, there a chocolate biscuits freely available. But right now my readership for the thing   - " Here All Week" - is still smaller than the entire reach of this blog and its associated Facebook account, so this is a better audience. Here goes.

Get yourself a group of geeks.

No, not necessarily the pencil-necked ones with  pockets full of pens and minds full of "Dr. Who". I mean get yourself a specialist group of enthusiasts who share a common interest and a focused outlook on life. And soak them for all you can.

The dyed-in-the-wool enthusiast hobbyist collector pest is just the person you want to team up with - if they have a collection of anything that they have found, bought, or made, they are going to want glorious pictures of it - and that means they are going to need you to gloriously provide them.

You may have to steel yourself when you meet them - they can be focused to the point of mania - and you must be careful to treat their obsession with dignity and understanding and serious interest. You can wipe the thin trickle of blood and CSF from your ears after a couple of hours of listening to them, but try to engage them early on with the idea that THEIR precious is YOUR precious. And that YOU can make it all look wonderful, and safe, and noble. Never mind that they collect jam tins - photograph the jam tins as if they were Fabergé eggs.

Toy cars, toy trains, quilts, teapots, kittens, coins, stamps, flowers, bees, horses, defunct farm oil engines,....there are enthusiasts for everything and they can be sold your services if you are prepared to sell. Brand yourself if you must - I must say I never did care for the smell of singed hair - market yourself wherever they will let you stick a bill, and go wherever the geeks meet. Buy geek magazines and learn a few of the cant phrases - an occasional tech term half mumbled with a wise nod can make you an expert, as long as you are neared to the door than your listener.

The world is really your oyster. If are allergic to shellfish or are keeping kosher this may not be quite so appealing, but do try to go out their and find your niche market. Find it early and sell it hard. And remember if you have been out and spent a day at the Knitting And Crochet Fayre you can always come home and drink.

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Good News - The End Of Professional Photography

Whew, what a relief!. I thought that would never end. At last someone has freed us from the shackles of the past.

The CEO of Yahoo has stated that there are no more professional photographers. I can't tell you what a weight this has lifted off my shoulders. I'll bet there will be celebrating in studios and editorial offices all over Perth - not to mention in the Uni's and TAFE's. I feel like declaring a national holiday. They've flooded the Shoot Photography Workshops main studio with beer and we're all going to get our swimming suits.

No more having to ask for money from people, no more ABN numbers or keeping accounts. No more paying off leases on equipment or premises, and no more advertising in expensive wedding journals for jobs. The former fashion and food photographers no longer have to put up with the precious antics of their clients - they can kick the anorexic tarts out and throw the Tuscan casserole pots in the bin.

Most of all I hear a cheer from the former wedding workers - now they can turn up at the church dressed in tracky daks and thongs - or not turn up at all if there is something on tellie at the time. And aren't we all going to enjoy the first time we get to slap a flower girl with a wet fish...Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. "Whack".

I suppose it will be a little bit of wrench for the animal and baby photographers as they generally seemed to like their models, but I suppose there is nothing to stop them from opening their own kennel  and keeping a pack of babies.

As for me, I am going to go off and photograph hot rods and pretty girls just because I can. Won't be showing them on Flickr pro, but then, I never did. I preferred to have my images stolen from other websites...

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Mystery Box

I love mysteries. As I get older they increase in amplitude and frequency - I can spend an entire day trying to find where the potato peeler has been put. ( Under the pillow, naturally. These things yield to logic...)

Now Leica have waved another one at us. A sealed Leica box on their rumours page that supposedly contains a Leica M Mini. And then a ream of speculation as to what this is. Mirrorless camera? APSC camera? Electronic viewfinder camera? Colonel Mustard in the library with a lead pipe?

Leica are counting on their loyal fans to whip themselves into a fevered frenzy waiting for the launch. They know their customers. I expect that we will start to get phone calls later this afternoon asking us if we stock it, and when will it arrive, and how much does it cost, and they can get it cheaper...I know OUR customers.

Folks, we can promise you. And we are prepared to back up that promise. We stand behind every rumour you can invent. We are particularly certain that it will, and if it does not, it will not be our fault.

Personally, I am hoping that whatever it is can be introduced with sausages and beer...and that this time I get an invitation. I may not be able to understand the complex nature of international business or the niceties of optical science, but I have mastered sausage and beer...

Uncle Dick


A Guide For The Perplexed Pixel

I noted recently that my little 3-D stereoscope - I got it as a child - has been repeating itself over and over. I think it is a Déja-View Master... Those of you old enough to appreciate this will also like the next bit.

We get all sorts of service calls here for repairs and maintenance to digital cameras. One of the most frequent worries is material contaminating the sensor and showing up in the image.  Here is a little guide to understanding what you see and what to do about it.

1. Vague grey blobs on an even grey ground are dust particles on the sensor - they shade the surface and thus it is darker, with a fuzzy outline. You may see a crescent-shaped item - likely a hair on the sensor.

You can clean the sensor yourself with a number of commercial brushes and swabs, but in the hands of the ham-fisted, this can carry a real danger of scratching the delicate surface. Ruin the sensor and you might as well buy a new camera...

Better plan is to let the technicians here at CE clean it for you. They do not ruin sensors, and the cost and time required for this service is not excessive. $44 for a small mirrorless camera, $55 for an APSC sensor, and $77 for a full frame DSLR.

2. The well defined grey blob with eight legs is a spider in a bathtub. Don't scoff - in 40 years in the trade I have seen a number of film and digital cameras infested with mites and crawlies of various types. Insecticide fumes and a mechanical cleaning get rid of them. If you discover a Huntsman in your mirror box, don't take off the lens, whatever you do...

3. We were asked how to get rid of this irregular-shaped mark on the image. If it is just one-off I would suggest Photoshopping it out with the clone tool. If you get a have a lot of these recurring, get yourself a Mossberg .410 and a box of No.7 shells.

4. This is harder to get rid of. And you get yourself in real trouble with the DCA if you try. Best idea is to turn away from it and photograph another bit of the sky. These marks rarely intrude themselves into interior shots or family portraits...

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mr. Jorrocks' Lecture

Surtees' famous grocer - Mr Jorrocks - delivered lectures to the Handley Cross Hunt on occasions. He was fueled by brandy and water and a love of fox-hunting, and however you may feel about either brandy or foxes, he did have a good bit of advice for young photographers.

These may be likened to the young sportsmen that Mr. Jorrocks was addressing - novices who might find themselves lost when approaching either sport or art. It is not likely that the new photographer will be pitched head over heels into a ditch or be roared off the field by and irate M.F.H. but one thing Jorrocks said is gold.

" Make sure you can ride one horse before you keep two."

Too often new photographers who have just learned to find the shutter button get a few images in hand or on-screen, and then read a week's worth of internet reviews and rumours - and charge in wanting to exchange the humble kit lens for the fanciest glass the manufacturers make. If their purse is strong enough to do it they charge out again expecting to produce eternal masterpieces at every street corner. Horses can produce things at street corners but it generally ain't considered to be eternal masterpieces...

The kit lens is a kit lens for a reason - it is a good estimation by the manufacturer of a standard lens for the camera for standard operation - by a standard photographer. The trick for the novice is to keep on working with that lens until they can come up to that standard - the results will be very good indeed.

If you do not have a kit lens...get one. I suggest an 18-55 or a 35 prime for the APSC sensor people and a 50 prime for the full-frame users. Use it for all it, and you, are worth. Do not underestimate the resolving power or the colour rendition and do not be put off by the snobbery of those who might consider themselves more advanced. Keep your eyes open and don't over-ride the hounds.

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My New Lens Doesn't Focus...

" Here! What is all this! I bought a new lens three weeks ago and it don't focus proper! My brass is as good as anybody's and I paid to have perfect focus! "

Stepped up from the kit lens, eh? Decided to get the fancy glass that all the internet forums rave about? Maybe you've ditched the old DSLR that you had for 5 years and bought the top of the range new one that has the quintuple processor and in-built beer engine. And you've gone out to take pictures at the soccer with the new fast lens under the lights and about half of them are slightly out of focus?

It's a conspiracy! It's an outrage! It's all the fault of George Bush! Of course it is. George Bush and the makers of the lens and the scientists over the years that have formulated the laws of optics. All in cahoots.

The rotters have fixed it so that f:8 has more depth of field at a focal length of 55 mm than at a focal length of 300mm. Then they have sneaked in the optical law that says that f:8 has more depth of field than f:1.2 anyway, no matter what the focal length. And they have arranged for soccer games to be held under lights rather than out in bright sunlight...forcing you to use those wider-open lenses....Appalling.

Worse - the manufacturers have put more resolution into the new sensors and screens so you can see when it is out of focus - never had that problem peering into the old 1-inch screen. It is almost as if they are taunting us.

Well, there is only one thing to do. Fight back. Go all old-school on them. Raise the ISO until you start to get coloured sparkles, then back it off a touch. Use your telephoto lens to focus manually on the grass where the action is going to be. Leave the lens focussed manually right there. Set the aperture at f:8. Set the shutter speed at 1/250 of a second if there is enough light to do it. Or 1/125 if not. When the players run over the grass bit that is in focus press the shutter button.

That'll teach 'em.

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Permission To Have Fun, Sir? - - With Ilford

You can sit there at the computer only so long HDR'ing a picture of a beach before you start to slump sideways. Likewise processing cubic yards of bridal parties or school balls. Eventually you are forced to turn the laptop off with a brick and go looking for a drink.

This sort of ennui is not new - film photographers used to develop it ( geddit...) after about 6 hours in the gloom of a darkroom trying to get the ghost gum in the paddock on one corner of the print to match tone with the dead galah on the other corner. It was a relief to have someone stumble into the darkroom and ruin all the work. You could vent your rage and burst into tears and it was all someone else's fault.

I am not sure if the wet-plate or daguerreotype workers were bored - they generally were on the leading edge of the art and one step ahead of either poisoning or blowing themselves up. Maybe Fox Talbot got sick of waiting for the leaves to appear on the paper...

Well, we have the answer to the blah's. Get yourself an Ilford Pinhole kit. Comprises a well-built plastic frame with a "bellows" that is rigid out the front, a laser-drilled pinhole, a number of sheets of paper and film, and a calculator for the exposure.

I'll correct that -it is a calcu-later as most of the exposures you will be doing involve sitting patiently for seconds, if not minutes. Take a book and a big orange drink.

You'll need to source 4 x 5 double dark slides to slip into the back - or you could use a roll film holder if you wanted to be a spoil-sport. The three boxes of film and paper are Delta 100 in 4 x 5, Harman Positive paper, and Ilford Multigrade in 4 x 5. This means you can do paper negatives, direct positives, and regular negatives, and all you'll need to develop them is a 4 x 5 tank, or a simple set of trays in a darkroom. The chemistry will be plain old Ilford B/W stuff - no need for exotics or poisons.

The frame has an integral bubble level for landscapes and two 1/4" 20 sockets on the sides to let you do landscape or portrait. As the exposure times are so long, portraiture may be problematical, but remember it has been done before and it can be done again. You will have fun trying and the results have a soft focus charm of their own.

I particularly recommend that you Google up Photo Secession and " The Onion Field" to see how lovely it can all look.

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Caught In The Web - Who Owns What?

I knew a man once in a gun club who drove an old, expensive motor car. As he derived his income largely from diving into the public charity purse, I was amazed that he would sacrifice so much of this for that old car. His excuse was that the car "owed" him too much money to abandon. In the time that I was acquainted the overage and overstressed nature of the car increased this debt to him alarmingly.

He did not own the car. It owned him. He had mentally lashed his wrists to the steering wheel and no matter how many people told him it was foolish, he did not see this.

Go look into your studio, or your camera bag. Is there something there that " owes " you money? Are you keeping it until it apologises to you and pays up? Put your ear down close to the piece of old equipment and demand your money. What do you hear?

If something is occupying space that could better be used for some other purpose - if something demands constant attention and maintenance but is never returning the price of the maintenance - if something is long passé and you truly are never going to make use of it again...then retention of it is not just pointless, but actually harmful.

Consider my own case - because I am just as great a fool as my erstwhile companion at the gun club. I have a full-house Hasselblad 500-series outfit - two bodies, four lenses, bellows, prisms, accessories and flashes - that used to be the mainstay of my wedding shoots. Times has changed - I shoot Nikon digital now and do more for less expense and in a great deal more comfort. But I still retain the Hasselblad outfit against the day when digital backs for it will come down to $ 45.83 in price. Not that I need it even then, but it " owes" me soooo much. I seem to have got older without getting smarter...

The Linhof monorail system I own is another case in point, though I do think there are a few uses yet for it in my studio. I try the historic photo bit every now and then, and monochrome sheet film is easy to develop. I also suspect that the tilt/shift capability of the system is still a good idea for tabletops.

So what is lurking in your outfit that you should abandon? Sell it, if you can - there are markets and ebay and Gumtree and such if we cannot help you. Be prepared to put something up on a shelf and admit to yourself that it is just a keepsake, but for heaven's sake don't put the entire 1967 Flapoflex system with bellows, stereo slide. and duplicating stand in your camera room where a useful hard drive or scanner could be. Worship not the god of old aluminium and fogged glass.

Uncle Dick

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I Need A Battery...

Yes, indeed you do - unless you are going to take all your pictures with a Leica M2 or a Hasselblad 500C/M you are going to need some sort of battery - either for a light meter or a motor drive or a digital camera. Nit-pickers may be able to point out that there has been some sort of photo apparatus that ran from a hand-generator or burning olive oil, but they are welcome to the sort of images it might have  produced - along with the nits...

There are two very boring pack-shots attached to this post - similar packets, similar colours. Observe, Watson, and think about what you see.

The first picture shows a number of different sizes and shapes of battery - from flat button cells to large torch cells. Each one of these has a place in some photo gear - from flash triggers to cameras to speed lights. The cylindrical lithium cells are needed for many of the quite-decent late model film cameras from major manufacturers. They are real powerhouses in this application - keeping their capacity even if they are not drawn upon for months.

If you are going away on a trip with your vintage gear, why not grab an extra one - you won't be able to find it on a Greek island or up the coast of Alaska, so be prepared.

The second picture is the one that's needs the detective mind. All those boxes look the same. Look at the labels. Three different camera camera manufacturer's names appear on a Promaster battery box - and there are 10 different models of battery listed. These are "aftermarket" batteries - produced to fit in with the appropriate manufacturer's battery code and to power the cameras in the same way.

They generally cost less than the batteries marked with the camera manufacturer's name - I do not believe that they are inferior products. Indeed, the editorial Fuji X-10 is powered alternately by Fuji-marked and aftermarket brand batteries and the pictures look the same - the run life of the aftermarket battery is just as good.

That might seem to be a funny thing to say from a shop that sells the branded battery at a higher price and derives a profit from that, but it is true. Please note that the Promaster batteries come in resealable plastic boxes so they can rattle around the inside of a camera bag safely.

I think that any photographer who is serious about their field work needs to take at least one charged spare with them, and travellers would be wise to take two spares as well as the one in the camera. Wedding shooters carry three spares plus three cards of lithium AA cells.

The business of chargers is another topic. You get one in every camera kit, and if you are a traveller you are expected to lose it in a hotel room somewhere on your journey, so perhaps it would be wise to take a spare universal charger as well.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

A Day With My Scaley Mates

Did goe to the Reptile Expo yesterdaye and was greatley entertained.

It was held at Bogan Central - otherwise known as the Cannington Agricultural Hall. The reason for the nickname is instantly evident, but so many fun things happen at this venue - the toy car expo next weekend and the collector's fairs, etc. - that the occasional flannel shirt and uggs is a small price to pay for the pleasures. Even if you are the one wearing them...

So - yesterday was reptiles, and it was a typical Perth experience - and eye-opener as to just how many people are interested in a subject, how sophisticated their knowledge is, and how much trade and commerce there is out there to support it. It is the same with quilt sewing, hot rods, iron ore mining, and Lithuanian ferret racing - give them a day out and there are a million people there.

We took a stand of goodies that might interest a reptilian - DGK grey cards, Adobe image programs, Datacolor Spyder - and a some magic Nikon cameras and a coupla Cullmann products.

Well, the 10:00 lecture from me on wildlife photography was attended by me. And after ten minutes even I left. Everyone was having too much fun with the rest of the snakes to want to listen. In the event, they did come and ask sensible questions at the stand.

They ran a photographic competition that was won by three suitable shooters - first and second prize were a father and son team and son beat father. I should advise him to guard his prize - a Cullmann 525 tripod and big carrying bag - well as there was a predatory gleam in Dad's eye...reptiles do that to you.

One thing was impressive - everyone from the pure enthusiast all the way up to the two wandering officers from the Conservation Department had the interests of the animals at heart - none of the reptiles were ill-housed or ill-treated. Some of the pythons seemed to be exercising a wicked sense of humour when they were allowed to climb over pretty girls. The frogs looked nonplussed and none of them elected to turn back into princesses no matter who kissed them. The bobtail goanna in the terrarium next to our table was prosperous - his keeper obviously knew exactly the right diet for him.

The day was a success - next Sunday is toy cars and I am looking out my tracky daks and Jackie Howe shirt in preparation. I wonder if I have time to grow a mullet before then...

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Good News For Earlier Customers - Hoodman

I mentioned the new Hoodman Custom Finder and loupe for the DSLRs recently. It used the new 3.2 Loupes for Canon cameras.

Good news - they have also sent us their new Custom Finder Base Plate kit for $ 219 - and it has an adapter frame that lets you mount the older Hoodman 3.0 loupe with the new convenient frame. The 3.0 loupes are obviously not as wide a coverage as the 3.2, but if the 3.0 was the correct fit your older DSLR screen this frame will hold it in place very elegantly.

Will it go onto a smaller point and shoot? Next experiment, Dr. Watson...

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A New Canon Lens With A New Feature - In-Built

The Canon rumours have finally ground through the Canon mincer and we are to see the actual new product. Quite when remains problematical, but we will be told. Betting is end of May but remember what happens to people who depend on betting...

The lens is the new Canon EF 200- 400mm f:4L IS USM Extender 1.4x. It will replace the current 100-400 zoom lens. There are cosmetic differences to be seen in the illustration of the new lens - a deeper tripod foot for one and a circular zoom motion. There is a bulge on the left hand side of the lens just in front of the mount. Therein lies the real secret of the lens.

The bulge conceals an in-built 1.4x tele-extender element. If needed, it can be rotated into the light path, extending the focal length range to 280 to 560mm. It does cost one stop of light but remember that the subsequent downshift of the shutter speed can be adequately compensated for with the new IS mechanism in the lesn. You won't notice any inconvenience and you'll have a lot longer reach for animal shots.

They have reduced the weight of the lens through use of magnesium castings.

The convenience of this innovation will be at once evident to those people who have been faced in the past with demounting the old 100-400 and trying to prevent ingress of dust and moisture - not the thing does not have to be broken in the field and most of this dust will never get a chance to get in there.

This will be the lens for Africa and Alaska. And if they can get enough lions and rhinoceroses to emigrate to Anchorage, you can do it all in one trip...

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Many Thanks

A cheerful thank-you to the phone caller who explained what synch cords are. I have been puzzling about what those things are since 1965. By Golly, you learn something every day...

Apparently these cord things go from a radio trigger to a flash gun. I am amazed, because I normally use lycopodium power spread out in a tray and ignited with a flintlock mechanism to provide the studio flashes. The idea of hooking up one of Mr. Marconi's wireless sets to this seems revolutionary.

Quite how the Packard shutter on the studio Calotype camera operates the transmitting key of the Marconi machine is still unclear. I daresay the young man will explain it when he comes in later in the day.

I hope he remembers to shout into my ear trumpet...

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Sit Up And Beg - With Cullmann

Couldn't resist that one, folks. It is Friday and I am sitting in the editorial office avoiding manual labour...

The Cullmann Cruiser is one of the items reminiscent of their early products. Cullmann always did have some sort of a shoulder stock for use in the 8mm film days. People would attach their Bolex or Bell and Howell cameras and then press back into their shoulders like a rifle shooter as they filmed.
The combination of the stock plus the muscular tension as the camera was pressed back against the forehead or circum-orbital bone  meant that the resulting footage was very much steadier.

Same thing these days with DSLR's and video - indeed for any DSPR shooting in landscape orientation. You can gain a full shutter speed down with this.

The fun bit of the Cruiser is that the shoulder pad folds into the stock and then two auxiliary legs fold out to make a table-top tripod. One more clever Cullmann product.

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