Friday, September 27, 2013

WAPF Underwater At Camera Electronic

This Sunday - the 29th of September - is going to see the inaugural opening of the WAPF Underwater Photo Exhibition - right here at our shop.

If you come to 230 Stirling Street, Perth between 4:00 and 6:00 on the 29th you'll see a glorious mini-gallery of underwater shots from some Federation experts. A chance to talk photography with people who love it, as well as see what you can do in the water.

Won't be a dry visit, either...

See you here.

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Fish Or Cut Bait - With Kata

For all of our clients who want to get a bargain - and are always pressing us for is a stand in the middle of the main traffic area of the shop that should serve you well.

Kata bags are good gear - I have one myself that contains the wife's video camera. It is the best fit I have ever found for a very awkward piece of equipment. Win for me.

Win for you with the Kata bargain stand - we're dropping 20% off all these bags. They are new and in such a variety of shapes and capacities as to swallow up whatever you throw at it. Kata have long prided themselves on the unique construction of some of their range and they also point out that their bags are the lightest containers per se for photo gear.

Of course the makers of paper bags dispute this, but then few of us want to house a DSLR in a mushroom bag.

Sale on now until stocks run out.

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Go See Pictures -You Like!

Spring is sprung and the Gem Camera Club in Kalamunda has just opened its exhibition of photographs.

Tony Hewitt did the judging for 1st to 5th place - Tony is the Canon AIPP Australian Professional Photographer of the Year - this year, too! So he knows what's good. These images are good.

We're lucky, being sponsors of this event, in that we get to see the results. You would be well advised to go up to the ZigZag Cultural Center Gallery at 50 Railway Parade, Kalamunda from now until the 6th of October and see for yourself. They can sell the images - some have gone already. Their hours are 10:00 to 4:00 - probably in the day...

If you were wondering who won first place...Shirley Milburn - a very active and artistic member of a very active and artistic photographic club.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hands Across The Table - Cullmann Studio Set

I wish I had an underwater studio. Then I could employ an octopus as an assistant and whenever I was trying to photograph a complex setup on the tabletop there would be extra arms available to hold things.

As it is, what might look like a simple bunch of toy cars and their associated scenery might be propped up with toothpicks, Blu-tac, double-sided sticky tape, folded matchbooks, piles of rice...the variations are endless as I try to show he object but hide the support. Photoshop is helpful to erase shadows but the more you can do at the time the less fiddling you do later.

Enter the Cullmann Flexx Studio set. A whole kit wrapped in a nylon carry bag that attaches to table edges, or smooth flat surfaces, or cranes over from a light sand. there are clamps, grips, and a ball head with a cold shoe for a speed light. There are extension poles and goosenecks. It should allow me to get a steady shot while holding a lot of the heavier little components at awkward angles.

Guess what I am going to push for as a Christmas present...

PS: You can get smaller sets as well, but this is the big daddy and I deserve the best...

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Switzerland - Head Of The Valley

Some people chose the best because they actually need it and some choose the best because they have a big sack of money. Most times it ain't the same person...

If you fit either class, consider the Arca Swiss head on this blog. It would be rotten to do sport with and rotten to do portraits with...but it is the world's best for panoramas. If you are into horizontal stitching and can determine your camera/lens nodal point, you can make this head spin on the vertical axis with a precision that will astound you.

It copes with the tripod being on uneven ground by the simple expedient of keeping the ball under the tyrntable. Do what you like with the legs under it, once you level the camera and check it with a spirit level you can spin round for a perfect horizon. Your stitching program will cope much better.

That is an Arca-Swiss mount on the top, of course, so it will match lots of the ...ahem... oriental copycat manufacturer's tripod plates. Let them fight it out amongst themselves in the mountains...

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The Annual Leap Of Faith

Spring is here, the grass is riz. I wonder where the annual update to Photoshop Elements is...

Ah, It's on the net. Just announced today in fact. I daresay we'll get some boxed sets of them fairly shortly...but don't ring me up this morning to ask when because I don't know.
Suffice it to say that if you are banging out your work on an older version, this might be a good investment.

I fit into the banging away category - I started my digital adolescence with the Elements 3 version - got free with a scaner. Then I bought Elements 6, and eventually went to Elements 10. Each one was separated far enough in generation to encompass real improvements while retaining most of the useful features of the past.

Note that I said " most " - in between 6 and 10 they ditched some paste-in graphics that they considered tired. In reality they were useful - I am going to go back and capture them and store them for future use. You can never tell when you'll need a Drum Majorette's cap to put onto a bridesmaid...

The new Photoshop Elements 12 seems to have additional features that move items in the picture and then fill in the backdrop behind them. Very useful for street and event photography. There is also an improvement to the straighten tool that settles the horizon and then fills in the little wedge-shaped blank areas at the side with similar content to the main subject.

I am also looking forward to an automatic colour correct that has the capability to learn your preferences and to slap it on at a click. I hope to use other plug-ins to custom craft a look that I can teach to the Photoshop Elements 12 - then I'll just go straight to it for a 50's look. You can do that with the plug-ins now but you are bouncing back and forward to do it. One stop shop is the go.

Is this program prestigious and complex enough for your photographic business? If you need prestige and complexity to sell your services go for the full PS6 Cloud and add a host of special layers and curves and extra operations. The clients will notice, or not, as the case may be...Make sure you tell them about how you spend hours at the computer hand-crafting their images.

Make sure they don't ever get to see what your editing desktop really looks like. Coffee cup rings on your laptop never look good. Especially when they are on the screen...

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Smoke and Mirrors

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that the practice of announcing a venue to be smoke-free and then turning on a theatrical smoke machine in front of the stage smacks of hypocrisy? In the case of a dance show that wants photographic coverage it smacks of failure too.

Thus my  last Saturday's coverage of a dance show in a suburban hall yielded photos that were of...less quality than before. It was not the fault of the hall - it had a good big stage with a proscenium. It was not the fault of the dancers who hoofed it and hip-dropped it with great aplomb. It was the fault of he DJ and the damn smoke machine.

I use flash to capture the stage work - because I know that many of the stages of Perth have no lighting worth seeing. Indeed you struggle to see anything in some cases. The Nikon SB 700 flashes I use stop the motion and brighten the costumes from all the way back of the hall if need be - they are powerful. Canon users can use their 430 and 600 -series flashes in the same way - plenty of light at their command. Fill them with lithium AA batteries and you have 600 shots to capture the show.

Not, however, if someone interposes a smoke screen between you and the stage. the light bounces off he smoke, the dancers disappear into a fog, and you might as well be taking pictures through a bed sheet.

I did find a position that was somewhat away from the smoke and got a few shots, but as they are skewed from the edge of the stage, they don't really show the dancers at their best.

Ah, well, onward and upward. Another show at the end of this week and no smoke machine. I might let off a mosquito coil when I leave, but.

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Fuji Traveller - A Good Idea

I'm always banging on about tourists doing tourist picture taking with comfortable cameras - not taking 500 Kg of lenses and bodies on their back when they are trying to go away and relax. I cringe to see them at the airport under a backpack with bulging side pockets - trying to look nonchalant as they attempt to smuggle the 600mm tele lens into cabin baggage. " It's a water bottle, love...really it is...".

Take a small camera, Guys. Put a small lens on it. Take the tourist landscapes with a medium wide and save yourself the grief...Do the selfies with something that looks good.

And here's the answer for the Fuji X user. The new 27mm f:2.8 travel and general purpose lens. very Sharp. Gives the same angular degree of view on the Fuji X cameras that a 40mm lens would give on a 35mm film camera - just perfect for general views and landscapes.

And light as. I've combined it with the new Fuji X-M1 body and It would be the preferred combo for a European or Oriental visit. Even tempts me, and I'm a confirmed Fuji X-10 user...Imagine - tourism without looking like a tourist. Take pictures all day without needing a physiotherapist the rest of the week.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

Through A Glass Darkly - Alarming Spectacles

Before I begin, let me state that I have a grudge to bear in this post. I do not own a pair of sunglasses. I have owned them in the past, but not for long. Every pair I have ever had has disappeared - probably into the same black hole that swallows socks and car keys...

That said, I observed drivers on the way to work this morning - this was a cloudy and dull portion of a stormy day. I counted a dozen pairs of dark spectacles on their noses . I looked at people waiting at bus stops - no sunglasses on anyone. Yet it was the same daylight...

Visitors come to our shop wearing their sunglasses. And continue wearing them through their consultation, leaving me at a loss to know what their eyes are doing there in the gloom. I suspect that this is the intention - they think they are playing a game of poker with me and that I must not se their eyes lest I guess their strategy. No need for that - I know what they want - the most equipment for the least price. Love is blind but avarice sees pretty good.

The really fun part is observing the shifts they put themselves to to wear the dark spectacles on some other part of the anatomy. I remember that girls used to perch them on the top of their beehive hairdo's ( and that tells you how long my memory goes back... ) to make a fashion statement. As if the the hair was not high enough, they added a further layer. Girls, at 19 years old, I wasn't looking at your hair...

Nor am I looking at the hair or lack of it on the top of the cool guy who does the same thing. Did you learn that from the girls? Are you prepared for the sunglasses to descend like a guillotine onto your nose when you lean forward? I am just praying...

And the chap who sticks them up into his Afrika Korps-style forage cap and comes in to the shop. General Rommel, is that you?

Ah, but I should not complain. The middle of the afternoon here is dull enough and sometimes these sights rescue my soul. I cannot resist looking at the chaps who reverse the frame of the glasses and wear them on the back of their heads - for all the world like Cousin It on vacation. It is hard to tear your eyes away from the sight. Even harder to avoid a rude stare at the one individual who came in with the earpieces of his sunnies perched in the earholes and the lenses resting on his lower lip. When he started to speak I thought I had never seen a finer sight.

I am aware that there are at least two other dispositions of sunglasses that might be achieved by the inventive. If I see them, I shall consider my collection complete.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Double Adapter

Recent enquiries on the lens and card adapter rumour forum has revealed that the original reversing rings for he Meyer 47mm macro-tele wide angle hyper lens actually have enough thread on the inside third of the mounting ring to engage Exakta bayonets for the  Kilar lenses. This has proved to be a great relief for people who may have purchased Alpa cameras or Kitchenmaid mixers  in the 1960's and want to have them converted to digital operation.

The initial reply from Bolex Paillard in Switzerland was not encouraging as the they claimed never to have made motion-picture cameras capable of exposing wet glass plates at 24 plates per second. But our forum members persisted, even in the face of having the phone cut off, and in the end extracted the admission that the firm was closed for lunch.

This should not deter any dedicated hobbyist as a simple adapter can be made out of parts that most of us have in our kitchen to mount a f:3.5 Tessar lens in reverse over the eyepiece of  a Sony camera.In this position it has little effect on the actual image on the sensor but the bokeh effect in the eyepiece is remarkable. It has been said that this is a lens that is all bokeh and no focussing ring. Of course you can mount a focussing ring later.

Likewise the idea of pushing a micro SDHC card inside an SDHC card inside a CF card inside a standard hard drive inside a Drobo inside a suitcase deserves some consideration. It was a technique favoured greatly by cooks at Roman orgies and that seems to have worked out very well.

Of course, the spoilsports amongst the photographers point out that adapting wildly disparate items from the scrap box with aluminium rings and gaffer tape in the hope of producing award-winning images rarely works - that people would be far better off just letting the autofocus mechanism on their standard camera work undisturbed. But this does nothing to fill the time of the enthusiast who has a whole hour for lunch and just one sandwich...

X-10 and X-20 - A Small Trap For the Unwary

A day of discoveries.

I use the Fuji X-10 and am delighted with it - should I lose it under a steam roller or over a waterfall I would replace it with the Fuji X-20. Same ease of handling and compact size - improved sensor action and in-bult cutoff for the back screen when you bring it to your eye. Same bottle - new wine - great flavour either way.


The Fuji X20 flash unit is another thing. It is a small external flash unit that claps onto the Fuji shoe and locks there. It is necessary for the Fuji X-Pro1 as that camera does not have an on-board flash tube. But it can also be used on the X-10 easily. You just find the menu setting to enable external flash and set it on and blaze away.

When I tried to demonstrate this ease of use to a customer I could not get the external flash setting to appear - it was greyed out. The customer was frustrated and so was I. He wandered away to find another salesman who was younger, smarter, and faster ( fortunately he did find one...) and I was left to puzzle it out by myself. Eventually I did so.

If you mistakenly put the X-20 camera into the Automatic mode rather than Aperture priority or Program, the external flash option is denied to you. The Fuji people leave you to use the pop-up flash and that is that - I suspect it allows them to integrate the flash output with a pre-flash, but don't quote me on it. Suffice it to say that if you want to use the hot shoe, use it on Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Program or Manual.If yo select  EXR, Sp, Adv. and Auto, it don't let you do it.

There. I didn't get younger, faster, or richer, richer... but I did get smarter...

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It is the only explanation I can think of to account for the design change between the Nikon D7000 and the D7100. That or a spirit of spite in the Nikon design bureau.

If you set a Nikon D7100 menu to enable release by the manufacturer's ML-L3 infra-red controller and set the menu item that lets you fire the camera without a card in it. You can demonstrate the operation from an amazing distance - far further than I would have credited it. Full marks to Nikon.


If you set a Nikon 7000 to do the same thing it won't. You must pore over the controls until you discover the firing control ring concentric on the left hand top of the camera - sure enough there is a little pictogram showing an IR remote. Then you rotate the ring to it. And then set the menu item to give instant IR release. Then check you have a card in the camera - IT WON"T FIRE WITHOUT A CARD. As I discovered trying to demonstrate this morning...

I can only hope that they will be this diligent when the next model of this fine camera comes out.

Quiet word to the Nikon designers: Spare a thought for the studio workers who want to fire a flash system but do not need to change their shutter speeds - and certainly never want to climb above the highest synch speed of 1?200 or 1?250 of a second. Do like you used to do on the D3 - give us a positive lock button or setting for the shutter speed so that we can't inadvertently change it with the heel of our hand...Please.

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Listen Up Dummies!

Those photographers who wish to listen to their clients...and listen in stereo...will be pleased to see the new microphones and recorder that have come into the store.

The Røde microphones are made in Australia. Here. Where you live. Buy one and the money stays in the country. ANZAC, meat pies, kangaroos, beer. Wave the flag and go all tearey-eyed. Now that we have gotten that out of our systems, the microphones are good quality and good value for money. The one you see mounted on the Cullmann Copter tabletop tripod is stereo and intended generally for the top of a DSLR - a wedding show or a school concert would be perfect for this one. it is not heavy, despite the size. It is adaptable to most DSLR's directly or you can go the super-professional route by connecting it to....

The Tascam DR-60D Linear PCM recorder. The device records sound onto SDHC cards - in stereo normally or in up to four separate channels. Input connectors for regular small jacks as may be found on the cameras are on the left hand side of the box. There are also the big plug and cannon plug inputs there as well - you can feed it from a variety of microphones.

On the right hand side is the card slot as well as headphone, line, and USB output. Joy of joys - the battery compartment in the back is accessible without dismantling the rig and it only takes 4 AA batteries!

Note that there is a camera attachment on the top and a tripod attachment on the bottom - you can bundle the lot up and then run, gun, or sit on a tripod just as the occasion presents. Please note the little bars on the sides of the front fascia. I was initially afraid that they were just an attempt at fake rack handles to make for cosmetics but I've decided that they are for attaching straps to let you hang it off your shoulder. Cool.

Peak display on the front, Three sets of channels coming in. Easy start and finish buttons. Retire the dear old Nagra field recorder and give your Revox A77 to the Sally Ann. This one looks like a winner.

Please note: The purple tripod is completely professional. It's just a different profession...

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Demise Of The Catalog - And Its Resurrection

I loved October when I was a kid in the Canadian bush - the catalogs arrived for Christmas. Hudson's Bay Company, Eatons, Sears, Montgomery Ward.

Big thick buy-anything from a .303 Enfield to a baby-doll nightie catalogs were issued once a year and were the basic go-to for all of us out there in the woods. We could write down to Calgary or Edmonton - or over east to the main stores and they would put stuff in the mail or on the next CNR freight train and it would eventually reach us. We reckoned that the Mounties might occasionally lose their man but the Hudson's Bay Company would always get our order to us.

Now the Christmas catalogs were thinner, brighter and glossier. They were pointed affairs and it was at us kids that they were pointed. Toys, sweets, clothing, Christmas decorations, and then all the other ephemera of the season that our parents might have wanted to get for themselves -  never looked past the toys but I could let my folks know which ones I wanted ( like, them all...) and most times something appeared on the day. The catalogs were more than just a quick list - they were inspiration books that proved to be playthings in themselves for the months leading up to December 25th. They generally had accurate depictions of the articles for sale - unlike the fraudulent sort of advertisements that we saw on the back of the comic books. You could trust the Christmas catalogs.

Used to be the same with camera manufacturers - big thick catalog books from Leica were the staple of photographer's dreams. Linhof books were like texts - you learned more from careful perusal than ever you did from your teachers. Indeed, Linhof books were written with a Germanic rhythm to the text and a ponderous exactitude to the images that marked them apart even from the Leica house magazines. Leica images were ...umm...lousy ( Ouch, ouch, ouch... but it is true if you look at the LFI) but Linhof's were perfect.

Hasselblad produced their Forum...and traded on NASA and the moon for decades while displaying some pretty basic images. Oh, we tried to emulate them but that is another story.

Today Nikon make a series of pamphlets to advertise their cameras, lenses, and flashes, and they are beauties. Good images, enough technical information on the back to satisfy the geeks, and generally a pretty fair explanation of the thing in advertising terms in the middle. They function as a great wish-book for people to take away and chew over - paper salesmen, in effect.

Olympus has produced a rather artistic catalog for the latest E-P5 camera and a number of their lenses. It has incorporated drawings on modern style of the design features of the body - to inspire you to appreciate it as a work of sculpture rather than an instrument. Do that if you must, but not where we can see it. Anyway, it is a wonderfully glossy catalog.

Ditto Panasonic - though we get fewer of them here than other manufacturers. They tend to give out more of a general listing and they make a LOT of different models...I suspect that these sorts of catalogs are outdated as they appear since the production lines are faster than the writers.

Deare Olde Canon...who produce some dynamite gear and conduct a very good promotional day whenever they release new products...have eschewed the big pamphlet or printed catalog. Go on-line to see their gear and read all the good reviews and see it in-store...but I can't help feel that they would do better if they followed the lead of Nikon and gave us a collection of take-away books. They did a wonderful hard-cover book for their lenses and many people have it, but you really need to give someone a small thing that they can leave around the house for their family to see...

And finally...Lee. Makers of wonderful filters and gels. Great quality stuff. Desired by professionals and amateurs alike. Costly. They do a great catalog, however, and we have a lot of their catalogs. They send them out in all their deliveries. Can't supply their most popular filter, mind, but they can supply catalogs. I think they run on the soviet system...

I am getting cynical in my old age. And good at it too...

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Aarrrrrrrr There, Jim Lad!

And how be we on this fine spankin' mornin' with the wind from the port quarter and the seagull poop on the taffrail? For it be International Talk Like A Pirate Day and ye can finally let loose yer spanker. My spanker is home doin' dishes. Aarrrr.

And how can we, as pirates, ensure ourselves against the piracy of others? For mark my words, there be monsters in the sea and on the net. Aarrrr. And they want to take out treasured images and sail off with them and turn them into gold. Time to go all Cap'n Kidd on the lubbers!

First off, put a watermark on yer images. This is a big disruptive overlay that you cobble up from a copyright symbol and your studio name and a dire warning not to remove it. Plaster it all over your images, and don't be shy about it - if the bride has a particularly fine bosom, mark it like the side of a goods wagon in a train yard. That'll stop her from sailing down to the local Hardly Normal and printing out the wedding pictures herself. Be sure to flatten the layer before you post it - preferably with a charge of grapeshot - and she'll never be able to retouch it out. Of course, the fact that the proof image looks like a fitted fast freight wagon bound for Murrwillumbar may discourage her from ordering it from you in the first place, but this is about security, not sales. Aarrrr.

Secondly, threaten 'em. Threaten 'em with the law, if you must, but if you be a real pirate, you'll want to do the job yourself, to see it well done. Cannons and pistols are difficult to come by these days  - damn those environmentalists - but you can still get cold steel and knotted rope's ends and boarding pikes quite freely. I can recommend several surplus stores, as well as mail-order firms in Pakistan. Be prepared to temper the blades and to do a bit 'o sharpening and avoid the decorated cutlasses - they are just for show. Mr. Wajid in Karachi does a particularly fine hook if you need one.

Finally, if you find that the scurvy dogs have sailed into yer harbour and cut out your best landscape picture and sailed off with it, you can adopt the philosophy of Red-Eye Goldstein - the greatest pirate of  three seas, a tidal basin, and Kamloops Lake. When his best photo of a grizzly bear eating a tourist was pinched from his website and submitted to the annual Canadian Environmentalist Photo Competition he just sat back until the award night. Then he went to the dinner, waited until the image was flashed on the screen, and then pulled out 15 other photos of the same incident - shot just before and just after the bear bit off the cyclist's head. When the attention this caused - and you can be assured that images of grizzlies eating tourists WILL attract attention - lead to all the room swivelling to look at the photographer who had entered the stolen image, Red-Eye simply walked over to him and gave him an Irish Kiss. It were beautiful, it were. Aarrrr.

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The AIPP 2013 Ratings

As promised, here's the detailed awards listing for the recent Canon AIPP conference. It was held in Melbourne, contrary to my report yesterday - Saul corrected me this morning, but I am still not totally convinced that Melbourne is not a suburb of Hobart. Still, let the geography details go - here's who won what as reported on the AIPP blog:

1. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Photographer Of the Year...Tony Hewitt

2. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Advertising Photographer Of The Year...Easton Chang

3. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Commercial Photographer Of The Year...William Long

4. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Sports Photographer Of The Year...Quinn Rooney

5. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Documentary Photographer Of The Year...Victoria Berekmeri

6. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Fashion Photographer Of The Year...Peter Coulsen

7. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Portrait Photographer Of The Year...Mandarine Montgomery

8. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Scientific, Environmental, And Nature Photographer Of The Year...
    Darren Jew

9. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Landscape Photographer Of The Year...Tony Hewitt

10. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Wedding Photographer Of The Year... Ky Luu

11. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Travel Photographer Of The Year...Mike Langford

12. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Family Photographer Of The Year...Robyn Geering

13. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Creative Photographer Of The Year... Peter Rossi

14. 2013 Canon AIPP Professional Illustrative Photographer Of The Year...Kaye Davis

15. 2013 Canon AIPP Australian Student Photographer Of the Year...Emma McEvoy

16. 2013 Canon AIPP Australian Emerging Photographer Of The Year...Kimberly Munro

17. 2013 Canon AIPP International Photographer Of The Year...Edwin Tan

18. 2013 Canon AIPP Australian Highest Scoring Image...Peter Rossi

19. 2013 Canon AIPP Australian Album Of The Year...Nadine Saachs

20. 2013 Canon AIPP Photography Book Of The Year...Tim Griffith

21. 2013 Canon AIPP Australian Tertiary Institute Of The Year...Photography Studies College

Wow, that's a lot of awarding. They must have been exhausted at the end of it all. I hope there were some adult beverages to refresh them after such a spell of hard work. If you'd like to see some of the pictures that garnered such praise, please go to the AIPP website and look at the events section.

Of course I have my own awards to bestow:

1. 2013 Uncle Dick Best Hot Rod Picture Award...Easton Chang

2. 2013 Uncle Dick Best Damp Photographer Award... Darren Jew - he ALWAYS wins this one

3. 2013 Uncle Dick Coolest Photographer's Name Award...Mandarine Montgomery

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Congratulations To The Winners

Camera Electronic would like to congratulate all the winners of the 2013 national AIPP awards - presented recently at their convention in Melbourne.

In particular we would like to applaud Tony Hewitt for becoming the photographer of the year.

More details as they become available.


Heath Robinson vs Rube Goldberg

Or how I learned to love photography.

Old photographers will remember the sorts of things that we did in the darkroom to produce the special effects. Weeks spent gathering equipment, chemicals, containers, tanks, agitators...months spent sealing the space against the ingress of light - while letting the most aggressive of the poisonous fumes escape...hours spent trying to get the negatives to register accurately in the gate of the enlarger or he paper to register accurately on the easel. Then the clean up afterwards. Scrubbing the stains out of the bathtub before the wife discovers them...

Now we just download a plug-in app and click the mouse. All over in a second and no scrubbing. All the fun has evaporated.

Well, no, it hasn't. Not by a long way. We now have the wireless link and the WiFi and the iPhone  and the hot spot and all the other horrors of modern electronics. In the interests of saving the lives of copper miners by reducing the amount of cables that are needed, I have prepared a plan for the best selfie ever.

1. PocketWizard transmitter in pocket firing a...

2. Camera with a transmitter firing...

3. Several speedlights wirelessly, in full TTL, with frosting and sprinkles, while the camera is...

4. Recording the image on the WiFi card that sends the image off to the computer that...

5. Sends the image automatically to Facebook, Twitter, and Google who then pass it on to...

6. ASIO, NSA, the FBI, the KGB, Mossad, M.I.5, and Julian Assange while simultaneously...

7. Sending it to the Epson 3000 printer that whirs away while...

8. It goes to the cloud where it then rains down on your iPad, and iPhone.

All this within a fraction of a second. No smells, no stains. The bathtub is pristine. Your bank account has a hole in it but that is the price of progress. Cheer up - with on-line banking you don't even have to go to the local branch. You can stay at home and press the shutter release a second time.

The first shot will cost you $ 8900 but the second brings it down to $ 4450... a snip!

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We Love Photography - We Hate Cockroaches

You can be forgiven for wondering at the conjunction in the title - our shop slogan with crawling insects. Leaving aside speculation about the characters of the sales staff, I can explain.

Someone in the shop asked me how I got good results for belly dance photographs and images of model cars. I think they wanted me to tell them a secret of a special lens or a special light - an item they could buy to improve their own pictures. I was delighted to tell them the secret, but it did not involve selling a piece of equipment - it involved selling an idea. And the price was cheap.

The real way to get good images of anything - cars, cockroaches, brides, or belly dancers - is to either love or hate the basic subject. You can choose for yourself which emotion you fancy, and you can freely switch between them as you like - provided you really do care one way or the other.

If you don't - either through general lack of interest in any topic or burnout from long exposure to it - any pictures you make will show this. And the people seeing those pictures will perceive that disinterest. That's a powerful clue for them to let them know how they should react to your work, and they will comply readily. If you don't care, they won't either, and you have wasted everybody's time.

I think this is a pretty good explanation for a number of photographic books and monographs that I have seen in bookstores in Melbourne over the years. The old Printed Image bookstore in Prahran had shelves of them - the NGV bookstores at the main gallery or their Federation Square branch are also pretty good ...errr...dump bins. Okay, not every picture book is Cowboy Kate but some of the depths of banality that are plumbed by small publishers...

Not talking about vanity photo books or self-publishing here - the things that we make of our holiday snaps or our hobbies. These actually have some substance - the audience may be limited to a family, club, or individual, but the book is often intense and treasured. At least the thick ones can be used to swat cockroaches with.

Heading image: Thanx to Jane and Henri

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Monday, September 16, 2013

First Tests On Promaster Paper

We reported the arrival of the new Promaster inkjet printing paper last week. When the place settled down on Friday we cranked two sheets of the Ultra Premium Metallic paper through the shop Epson 3880 to see what it was like.

Metallic paper is a bit of a fooler - you look at the surface straight out of the packet and it looks sort of dull - the silvery sheen can seem  a little grey in normal light. it is an illusion - turn the part to the light source and it flashes back.

So - the image size had to be adjusted in the printing program as these papers are the US Letter size - 8 1/2 by 11 inches. No real problem with Epson as there is a menu section that has all these sizes in a list - pick one and it will know what you want. As an aside, I was amazed that there should be such a variety of sizes all around a general theme...but then I reflected that there were no real sizes standards in the 1830-1890 period and studios just did whatever they thought was right...

Back to the paper. The images chosen were a southwestern water scene in colour and a Singapore cityscape in monochrome. both detailed and contrasty - they needed snap.

The recommendation on the net from Promaster re. Epson printers is that the high-speed option be turned off with this paper. It took about double the time for the printing but both images were delightful. Sharp, contrasty, good blacks and the highlights threw back the silver instantly. Glossy to the max - rather like the flashiest Epson papers.

We will open other sample packets and try other images on different surfaces. As it is, this one looks like a letter-sized winner.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Multicoloured Bingo Card Now In Stock

Those of you old enough to have someone else's teeth in your mouth will recognise the heading image. McBeth Colour Checker. X-Rite Colour Checker. Piece of cardboard with standardised colour panels on the front. Everybody's got one and everybody can talk the same colour over the phone because they are all the same.

Prop one up in the leading frame of your studio, wedding, or film shoot and then look at what you've got when you see it on the main computer screen at home. Curse, shout, or smile, as the occasion takes you, but in the end do whatever you need to do to get the output to equal the Colour Checker.

The panels have been variously described as Caucasian or African skin, Foliage Green, Sky Blue, etc. About the only really definite statement you can make is that there is a cyan, yellow, and magenta and a pretty good blue, green, and red there. Plus a white to black progression. The nipple pink block in the middle is the colour that Canadians get when they mix all the remnant tins of paint in the garage together to get enough to paint the back porch. The purple patch next to it is the same thing but in this case it pertains to Finnish-Canadians. Trust me on this...

The surface is matt and the colours are fast - mine has stayed the same for decades. And the cardboard is really sturdy - you can beat your studio assistant about the ears with it and it won't fall apart.

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Happiest Masking Tape In The World

Okay, kids, it's getting fun around here again.

Our video and filming expert, Melissa, has ordered a big box of specialised products and they have arrived. Some of them are strange to a still photographer but sound useful nevertheless. Note that the video and film people already know about them so they can just come in and buy straight away.

Remember in a previous post I mentioned gels? Well the Rosco ones are the ones Melissa ordered - the big ol' box of large gels was whisked off to a film shoot but there is no reason that we cannot get more. We've got he small packs in right now.

The multicoloured stack at the top of the post is a masking tape-like set of rolls that are used apparently to mark out actor's positions on sets and to colour code various items for smooth production work.  Very Cheerful!

Joe's Sticky Stuff is a roll of ribbon gel that is similar to the adhesive that they stick free gifts onto magazine covers - sort of a plasticized hot glue ribbon. It is used to temporarily stick filters onto lenses and can be peeled off without leaving a residue. I see it in my table-top studio as a wonderful way to secure props without having to make complex supports for them. It is clear and re-usable.

Apparently there is also a great good line of different gaffer tapes available - some matt black for plugging up light leaks, and some stronger than regular types. Who knows what has been stuck to what with this stuff...

More reports as she sets things out.

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Take One Tablet And Call Me In The Morning

As long as it is a Wacom Intuous Pro tablet, that is. Good news is that you can call me wirelessly...

Okay, okay, enough of this. the new Wacom Intuous Pro computer tablets are here and the real difference between it and the Intuous 5 is that the new Pro has the wifi connection built in.

I am a great fan of the Wacom tablets - I have an Intuous 3 on my home computer and a Bamboo here on the laptop. They are the preferred method of image manipulation with the Aperture or Photoshop programs - you can get a far finer control for selection than ever you could with a mouse. Indeed, I only use a mouse for some typing programs, and that is getting rarer.

You get the lot with the Pro - stylus pen, electronic inkwell (?) tablet, battery, computer link, and a cord for battery charging. The freedom of position and the absence of clutter for your digital desktop is marvellous. I believe there is also provision to get quite a number of related programs as well - creative software like Adobe Photoshop Elements and Coreldraw.

Thoroughly recommended for anyone who does ANY post production. More good than a new lens.

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I Need A Camera For Street Photography...

It is surprising how often we encounter this request. Setting aside the cynical thought that you could photograph actual streets with ANYTHING...and realising that the search is really for a camera that will photograph people without attracting attention, we come to a set of basic questions:

1. Where are these streets? Foreign or domestic? Do you want to haul something that is electricity -dependent?

2. What are the streets like? Dark and twisty or open and bright? Big fast lens or small slow lens?

3. What is coming down the street? Mardi Gras float or a burst of anti-tank fire?

4. Who are the people on the street. See question No.3.

5. Why do you want the pictures? Newspaper, magazine, Facebook, Gloatbook?

6. Gotny money? Gotnuff money? Gottoomuch money?

7. How bad do you want to keep the camera?

With all these answers factored in we can give cogent advice.

1. If you are going to go where Edison never trod - Elbonia or Whackistan- you are going to encounter no electricity. Either take 2 dozen charged lithium-ion batteries with you - at the risk of being heaved off the airplane - or settle for a film camera and the risks of the X-ray machine.

2. Big lens -him mean f:1.8, 1.4., 1.2, 1.1,  or 0.95. See in dark like cat. Take picture with fast shutter speed. Weigh like elephant. Cost like sin.

Little lens slow - work only in daytime. Cheap and light. 

3. Want a piece of that? Step out and click away.

4. Me friend. You no shoot friend. Me shoot you. Umm, I could have put that better...ummm...Me friend of Chief. You no shoot. Please.

5. If you want to hit the big time, shoot Leica M. Or Leica X2 or X-vario. Or Fuji X-Pro1 or X-E1. If you want Facebook or Gloatbook, shoot Fuji X-M1 or X-20 or Canon G15-16.

6. We can suit all pockets, provided you are prepared to put your hand in your own, rather than ours...

7. Okay. Flash that Leica M down the back street in Bogota at 2:00AM to impress the crowd of cocaine addicts.  Or discreetly snap with your X-10 in Bourke Street Mall at lunchtime. You can write the scenario for yourself after the first shot. 

* Heading image: Ricky Rodd-Shau at the diner.

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Poke De Button And See What Happen...

I'm so relieved. A customer rang up and asked a question about a D800 Nikon and I answered it correctly. She poked the button and turned the wheel and it worked. My time here is not wasted.

I am bitterly depressed. A customer came in to claim a lay-by and it took 15 minutes of frustrated computer mousing and poking - and then a temper outburst - and then a rescue by our overworked IT man - to solve a simple procedure. We have the fatal combination a new computer program and an old employee...

I am thoughtful. One of our customers has just bought a new camera that only takes black and white pictures. I believe he is a wildlife photographer who specialises in penguins, pandas, and magpies.

I am impatient. International Talk Like A Pirate Day is coming and I can't wait to bring the parrot and the cutlass to work. Would the double-barrelled pistol be over the top, do you think? Arrrrrrr.

And tomorrow is Saturday. Three hours of the sort of trading situation that reminds me of 1944 films of kamikaze atttacks. Crew frantically serving the computers and customers coming in from all directions. Occasional explosions. New computer program demanding attention and, like a 2 year-old in a toy store, not letting anything happen until it is satisfied...

So. How's your Friday going?

* Heading picure: Ricky Rodd-Shau to make you feel better.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ooh - Look At All The Coloured Lights!

1960's and 1970's - heyday of the coloured gel in the studio. With the new flash systems you could put a piece of extremely expensive cellophane in front of the and fire them off and get funky effects. We knew they were funky because we saw them in advertisements in German magazines. A lot of us weren't exactly sure what funky meant, but...

Reel forward ( Reel? I will explain reels to you later children, once the arthritis medicine kicks in.) to now and the necessity of applying delicate touches of colour to studio work. See the heading illustration. All major flash makers produce some form of gel holder for their light shapers - generally it will clip onto the front of a standard reflector:

You can enclose the gel in a cardboard frame or you can slip it in there palin. What you cannot do is slip in a piece of cheap newsagency cellophane over a modelling light (I'll explain cellophane children, as soon as the gout medicine ramps up.) as it will melt, catch fire, or start twerking. You have to use real gels designed to withstand heat.

Enter the Rosco Gels. Here are a variety of them in convenient packets. You can get colour correction, violent tints, diffusion sheets, or theatre colours. Better still, I see the Rosco people can also supply the stuff in rolls - 48 inches wide and 100 square feet on he roll. This means you could gel a soft box as easily as you could do it on a standard reflector. The big rolls are a special order through us but the small packets are in-store now.

One thing to remember with gels. Too much is rarely enough.

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