Thursday, April 30, 2015

Yo Heave Ho - Calling All Holga Boatmen

Is still selling Lomo at cheap of the price!

Now you can flee wrath of Digital by taking shelter in warm comfort of film. No more pixel bites! This is art.

See remaining range of Lomo here while you can. Come by fast and buy fast.

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I Seen It

Yep. Thar it was. I seen it. Right thar in Plaza Arcade in 1968.

A woman brought a Kodak Instamatic camera in - just a basic sort of model - with the Kodak 126 cartridge inserted in the back the wrong way round - the left side on the right side. Those of you who have seen a 126-Instamatic cartridge know that this is impossible, but that did not stop her.

Then there was the Canon 318 movie camera that was dropped of the side of a boat into salt water. The person who brought it into the shop a fortnight later was philosophical about it and bought a new one and told us to throw the old one away.

For some reason it got forgotten in a back cupboard for about a year. When we hauled it out the plastic parts of it were untouched, but the aluminium parts of the casing and internal works had literally disappeared into dust. A memento mori if ever there was one...

Today a client brought a camera in with a wireless transmitter attached to the hot shoe on top. But the wrong way around - meaning that the shooter's eye could not be brought to the eyepiece. Unfortunately it was also jammed tight awkward situation.

For my own part I have managed do the one thing with a classic film camera that would render the negatives produced by it unusable - I got in the habit of flicking the lens assembly of a Plaubel Makina 67 in and out rapidly to shoot. Which sucked the film forward from the film plane and rendered one side of all the negatives out of focus. And the subjects were that I have a record only of foolish failure.

And then there was the time that I made an entire slide show for a social group comprising 18 years of their negatives and files scanned into the computer for showing at their big celebration. I pressed one button on the computer and wiped 18 years out - before the show...

I must look out my copy of Erasmus' " Praise Of Folly " to see if I can pick up a few technical hints.

Uncle Dick

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Pictures At An Exhibition - Or How To Be Modest

As photographers we are rarely encouraged to take pictures of someones else's photographs when they are exhibited. It is considered naff in some cases and criminal in others - particularly if we then whack them on our websites and claim them as our own.

It's a little different if we go to see pictures that have been done by other means - or sculptures or artefacts and manufactured articles. Sure, there can still be a degree of  taboo, but many public galleries are okay with it - as long as you do not use flash or tripods.

This is fine - I love wandering the art galleries of Victoria and New South Wales to see famous works of art - and new, obscure things. I have learned to cope with the light conditions of the places and to get a clear result.

The illumination can be problematical, though good galleries will have directed lighting that shows the art to good advantage. But the colour temperature of it may be all over the shop. I've taken to recording the art with RAW and a small jpeg - the little one as a sighting rifle for he more detailed capture. I have also considered one of the tiny Spyder Checkr 24 colour cards for my travelling bag so that I can reference back to a neutral result later on my computer.

Flash is out - the galleries do not want to subject the works of art to the danger of fading or the cleaning staff to the danger of discovery...put your camera up to the highest ISO that will deliver a clean image for your purposes, and turn the image stabilisation on. Consider attaching a Steadepod to the bottom of the camera and stepping on the footplate whenever you need utmost stability.

Lens choice? Well, if you have a lens that has very little distortion in the first place - like the 23mm f:2 on my Fujifilm X 100 - you need not worry. If you are using a zoom, do a little investigation beforehand to find out the focal length that will have the least barrel or pincushion to it - somewhere in the middle of the range.

Stop it down one stop from wide open if the lighting permits. Nearly every lens gains something from this.

Try to stand square to a flat work of art, or at the most attractive angle to a 3-D object. If the thing is big and you are standing on the floor you are likely be tilted up and getting some keystoning - correct it later with DxO or Photoshop. If you find that you can capture the image you want from further away in the gallery wit a longer focal length the keystoning will be less evident.

Be prepared to experiment. Circular polarisers can sometimes help with the view through a glass cover - sometimes not. Painters who have decided to express the grace and beauty of life with a trowel and mortar board are likely to have left a problem, as the surfaces of their works reflect light everywhere. You are allowed to curse them quietly.

You are also allowed to quietly abominate the crowds of people who will surge in front of you just as you press the shutter button. Patience - they will drift onwards eventually and if you  wait you will get a clear shot. It is the same at a car show - the gawkers and strollers sometimes work in tag teams but eventually they tire.

Final note. When you bring someone else's vision home to look at you are free to look and free to admire but you are not free to publish it out. There are still laws for this. The artist might be dead but you can bet their lawyers are alive.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Modern Moleskin - Nikon Pocket Note Taker

If you are constantly trying to remember something and reaching for a scrap of paper to record it...why not reach for a compact camera and take a picture of it?

You've got a phone with a camera? Move on, friend. you can do it for yourself.

You've got no phone? You want to give your kid a camera to go on holiday with that will not run up a credit card bill? Step up, friend. The Nikon L29 is for you.

89 Bucks - all up. You could pay more for the Moleskin and a fancy ball-point pen.

89 bucks buys you 19 megapixels, a 5 X zoom lens, multiple special auto programs - and the blessed ability to run on AA batteries. No more hauling yet another charger in your luggage ( and forgetting it in the last hotel before you fly home...) and no running out of power the other side of Meekatharra. Hooray for the local servo and the AA battery!

89 Bucks and you get a year's Nikon Australia warranty.

In store now.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Delicate Art Of Dividing Up The Carcase

I am frequently asked about the law as it applies to photography - both the privacy laws and the copyright laws. As far as I can see if you are under 30 there are no rules - and if you are under 30, wear a fluoro Hi-Vis vest, and drive an old Mitsubishi Magna, you are excused road rules as well. Get out there and go mad...

For the rest of us - the oldies - we do not understand the copyright laws either, but we tend to be a little more circumspect about stealing other people's images and whacking them on our websites. This is not because we are moral - it's because we can't figure out how to do it.

And as far as breaching privacy laws goes by taking pictures of people on the nude beach, or Hay Street...we refrain because we cannot run away fast enough to avoid capture. That and the fact that we just do not care any more. Street photography for us is only fun if the street has a coffee shop that serves florentine biscuits and you can sit there and eat them and not have to take pictures.

But what of events? Closed events. Events that may have punters who want to have their pictures taken and might pay some money for them. How do you divide up the job?

Well, if it is a wedding you stand back, let the hired photographer do the pictures, and just hang around until they open the bar. You can do no good by taking "extra" pictures that interfere with the pro doing their work well. Be nice.

If it is a ball or party and you are allowed by the organisers to take photos - and THAT is a real consideration - see if they want a set-up or just circulating shots. If you set up, set up well - nothing is nastier than an off-hand impromptu studio that makes everything look bad. Be mindful of safety with your electric lines. Use a wireless synch and as few light stands as you possibly can. Crowds surge around like cattle and they will stumble over anything.

If you are circulating, keep your gear as simple as you can, consistent with the look you want. If you go through a crowd trailing wires, umbrellas, and extra metal arms expect to hit something expensive and/or painful.

In either case, have some clever way to let the punters see the pictures in a reasonable time. Website gallery with or without passwords - Facebook postings - nailing the proof sheets on the door of the local church - whatever you do, make sure that they get to see it.

Be classy. If you are at an event where someone else is trying to make a living with their photography - and you are just looking for a few blog shots or a chance to look down ladies' dresses, do not intrude on their business. The photographers, I mean. It all comes round and one day you will be out there trying to do the digital deed for dosh yourself - make sure that your fellow photographers will be kind to you.

Uncle " Not An Artist " Dick

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Friday, April 24, 2015

ANZAC Day Closure

Folks, there was a bit of confusion in the scheduling for our shop this coming weekend.

As ANZAC Day falls tomorrow - 25th of April - on a Saturday, we'll be closed. No trading between 10:00 and 1:00.

We're also closed Sunday and Monday.

Back to work on Tuesday, 28th of April.

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Letter To The Camera Designers - The Wireless Trigger

Dear Camera Designers,

Thank you for the new features on my camera. I appreciate the Automatic setting, the Intelligent Automatic setting, and the Disturbingly Prescient setting. Last night my camera got out of its bag, went down the street, and took a picture of the showers at the Nurse's Quarters all by itself. Tonight I am deadlocking the door.

Thank you also for the smile recognition feature, though I must admit that mine seems to have died - I turned it on at it to the last family picnic and the camera refused to fire.

The little pictogram in the special settings menu is my favourite - the one that has the cocktail glass. I look at it fondly every afternoon about 5:00. I feel you have come to understand me.

Now that we have these ideas realised, I would like to suggest a further improvement in your design - the provision of a small and effective wireless flash trigger in the accessory battery grips of your DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

Already one manufacturer has pursued this in red-and-white terms for one model of their DSLR. They have provided a wireless link to their high-end speed light - thus leapfrogging aftermarket units stuck onto the top of the hit shoe. I would like all of you to consider the next step - come to an industry agreement with one of the professional flash system manufacturers: Bow---s, Elin----m, Pro---o, or whoever - and put a transmitter for their STUDIO flash into a handgrip that bolts under the camera.

This is a good place - you can combine it with a spare battery if there is enough room, but if not you can at least link it to a shutter button and fire the studio strobes in synch - without having a big 'ol box and a rubber antenna waggling away on top of the pentaprism. Doesn't have to broadcast far in a studio and shouldn't take more power than a wifi connection.

Come to think of it...would a little firmware fiddling with the wifi do it? If there was a receiver module that you could plug into the studio strobe dedicated to your camera's wifi signal and just go with that? Wish I knew...but as camera designers and masters of electronics, I am sure you will consider it favourably.

Yours sincerely,

 Uncle Dick

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cataloging The Catalogues - The Paper Salespersons

Anyone over the age of 50 remembers paper - that stuff they made out of scrunched-up trees that came in big flat sheets. Sometimes you even see it in the digital era - they spray ink over it to make pictures that look a lot like the computer screen...

Well in the 1950's they even used it for making up illustrated lists of products for sale. These were called catalogues and were frequently given out to prospective clients to aid them in selecting products - or so it was said. In reality the catalogues were sent out as silent agents - paper assassins programmed to attack the nerve centres of the victims and render them helpless. They did this by several means:

1. They were illustrated well. In a era that had rather poor reproduction standards in the newspapers ( I'll explain what newspapers were in a future post.) the catalogue provided first-class images. Their black and white pictures were frequently taken with 4 x 5 or 8 x 10 cameras and were professionally lit and posed. The block making and printing was superb. Colour was even more spectacular, though it might not pass muster today as far as actual fidelity - it depended upon strong contrasts and startling inks. Just the fact of colour in a printed image was a seller.

Note: Australia missed out in this to some extent as overseas catalogues were sometimes rendered in monochrome when they came here. The same applied to comic books - a travesty of the artist's work. Gordon and Gotch have a lot to answer for.

The pictures were taken by professional photographers - frequently in proper studios. You got to see expert illustrations. You got to see exploded diagram photos.

2. They were accessible. Catalogues were a respectable form of publication - sanctioned by retailers and wholesalers alike - and you could safely give them to children. The underwear section of the Sears and Roebuck catalogue bordered on the risqué only if you exercised an unhealthy imagination. Page 82 was really good...

3. They were always there and always on. Paper catalogues never needed to have their batteries charged and no-one needed to remember a password to read them. You could take them into the can and study the goods without fear of dropping $ 1000 worth of electronics down the pan.

4. They were focussed. If the manufacturer wanted you see their range of products, you saw just that - no side-ads scrolling down as you read - no temptation to poke off into another page. They showed - you looked.

Today there are a number of manufacturers in our trade who follow the paper catalogue route as well as using the internet websites. They either put out a comprehensive publication like the Gitzo tripod people or a series of separate pamphlets like the Nikon people. Both approaches score attention from buyers and a credible response.

Their message drives deeper than the pure-computer approach - and I think they score more sales from it. Let us hope that other manufacturers adopt this idea - catalogues are a good idea.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Yongnuo Duo Fire Flash Fast

No, I didn't just replace the colour in Photoshop Elements - though I could have... The Yongnuo people have colour-coded their transceiver set packs for either Nikon or Canon users.

In either case they work effectively with the respective TTL flash systems for these camera types. They provide 7 channels in 3 groups - can throw out AF lights to help focus - and can do high speed synch. Of course you can always switch to manual control as well.

You'll not on the packet that it shows a separate PC connector socket at the side of the transceiver - this is very useful if you are also triggering off studio flashes or older -odder - units. As with many of these control boxes, the more options you have the more useful it is - there are all sorts of things that we think up later on in using external flashes, and the less adapters and blocks you need the better. It gets to look like Heath Robinson as it is.

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Cullmann Lightweight Concept - The Carbon Fibre Tripod To Fly With

You'll be travelling to the Greek islands to see the polar bears, llamas, and elephants? And you'll be getting there by ferry down the Rhein? And you need a tripod to do star trails while under way? Yes, yes, I see, I see...

Have you thought of  carbon fibre tripod to save weight? You'll be able to take more lenses then. And polar bear locators. And a EPIRB.

Cullmann have made a pair of good, big, light carbon fibre tripods - the Concept One 625C and Concept One 628C. they differ only in the length of legs - the 628C longer than the 625C.

Both have carbon fibre legs and centre column and twist locks. Both include an additional short centre column and associated tools for use when the tripod is very close to the ground. Both take a wide range of tripod heads utilising the standard 3/8" screw fitting.

Both have 10-year warranties. There are accessory bags available for them from Cullmann too - well worth adding to the list.

Note that the 625C will support 6 Kg and the 628C will do 7 Kg.

Hint: Don't trigger the EPIRB in the bar of the Rhein cruiser. They have no sense of humour on the Rhein.

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The Pantechnicon

I love that word. " Pantechnicon ". Far more technical and elegant than " Moving Van ".

Same thing, really, large box on wheels into which Wayne and Gordie threw your family's possessions preparatory to smashing and losing them on a trip interstate. The part that always puzzled me was how they managed to fracture tea-towels but failed to destroy the family piano. I so wanted to lose that piano, but it followed me like Inspector Javert. I played it like Inspector Clouseau...

These thoughts are brought to you by one of the Think Tank range of camera cases - the Airport International LE Classic. It is a tank ( ! ) of a product with 1/2" thick dense foam sidewalls and reinforcing at all the vital points. Wheels, of course, and an effective baggage handles on five of the six surfaces.

You'll need 'em - this bag is designed to take the heaviest of the DSLR outfits for professional use. You might try to fool the airlines people that it is feather-light cabin baggage but don't break into a sweat trying to lift it as you walk past the desk. Above all don't stagger sideways.

It doesn't matter. Think Tank bags are designed to resist the slings and arrows of outrageous baggage handlers. Throw it in the hold - your cameras well still work when they come out the other end. That's why you buy Think Tank.

Note one sinister feature of this bag - it has a pocket in the back with a steel wire harness folded up inside. There is a padlock on the harness. It is there so that you can lash and lock the bag to an immovable object to prevent theft. Good to see, but it suggests that you are going to haul this pantechnicon to places that are full of people who want to rob you. Is this such a good idea? Wouldn't it be better to avoid family picnics altogether?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bag In A Bag With ONA

Here's an idea that has been kicking around for the past few years by various bag makers - you might find it extremely useful.

Bag in a bag - or an organiser that you put into another container is a concept that Crumpler do very well - though their Haven pouches tend to look like manic loaves of bread and taken up a lot of suitcase space.

This specially-made ONA Roma organiser is designed without a lot of flaps and zips - these use up a lot of useful area - and the main flap is cleverly held shut with powerful miniature magnets.

The leather straps at the end make for easy lifting and shifting without having to fight your way around a strap. Maximum storage with minimum fuss.

Also fair bit of style but then who looks inside your camera bag?

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Monday, April 20, 2015

The Big Blue Blanket - A Day At the Races

Did goe to the drag races yesterday and was greatley entertained. The event was far too busy and far too many colourful cars were seen to be reported here - if you wish to see what transpired you must go to:

The blog is " Here All Week" and there will be a stream of posts regarding the races and car show emanating from it during the coming weeks. The blog you're reading right now is the work one that sells cameras so we must keep on topic...

Big Blue Blanket. Look it up in the history of WWII and see what it meant. In my case it is the perpetually surprising sky here in Western Australia - the clear blue bowl that overbears us all.

I don't see it, though it is there all round. I go out on a bright day - to the car races, say - and set my Fujifilm X-pro1 to Auto White balance...or to the daylight icon...or to 5500º Kelvin. I shoot away with the old Metz 45 flash to fill in the shadows. I bring the images back on the SD card and bang them into the computer and am confronted with - the Big Blue Blanket.

Every surface that has been illuminated by the sky - and it is all around - and is at all reflective - and remember these are hot rods with chrome parts - is blue. Sometimes it is light blue, sometimes it is bright blue. I fail to see it when I am shooting because my mind filters it out, but the camera's sensor is a faithful observer.

The answer to removing the blue is complex - I can trick the camera by lying to it that I am really in overcast or shade. There will be some artificial colours elsewhere in the jpegs, though. I can take the whole thing in RAW and fiddle the white balance later in Lightroom, Aperture, or Silkypix. I can hire a zeppelin painted 18% grey to hover over the cars as I photograph them to hide the sky.

This is difficult, as the zeppelin is not always available - this week it is off bombing Lowestoft.

Easiest idea so far has proved to be shooting the hot rods in Melbourne. They only have blue skies for a very small amount of time and frequently this is at night...

The next time I go to the Kwinana Motorplex on one of these bright blue infinite days, I shall try the effect of a circular polariser. Logic tells me that it will do something but quite what remains to be seen.

Uncle Dick

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Friday, April 17, 2015

The Humbrella - Lighting On the Cheap With Promaster

It is Promaster day here at the shop - boxes of Promaster accessories have come down from the receiving desk and are being priced up. The good news is the humble umbrella holders are back and the bad news is you don't know about it.

Yet. Read on...

If you have a regular electronic flash - any kind of flash, from the modest to the complex - you can generally adapt it to umbrella shooting - and thereby make large studio lighting from something that folds up under your arm.

You'll need to get a small light stand ( Did I mention that Promaster make them?), a small umbrella ( Did I mention that Promaster make them?), and an umbrella/flash holder ( Guess what...). We've got them all here - and if you'll bring your camera and your flash in we can generally succeed in showing you how to rig the system up to fire.

For all the hoohah about soft boxes, the umbrella does a pretty good job of softening a light blast. Add to the fact that setup can be a couple of minutes instead of 15+, and you can see the attraction. Add to this the variety of surfaces, colours, and translucencies of different umbrellas, and yo can fine tune the setup to match your own contrast preferences.

Plus you can get caught in a winter shower and still save your equipment.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Folding Viewfinder Hood - A Tale Of Digital Wonder - Hoodman Loupes

Those of you who have used, or do use, a 500-series Hasselblad, or a Rolleiflex, or a dear old Bronica S2* will be perfectly familiar with the folding viewfinder hood. You have been unfolding it regularly for years to let you see the viewfinder screen while out in the sunlight. It keeps the glare off the screen as you peer downwards.

You are people of surprising facility - your minds have long since mastered the art of seeing things reversed in the horizontal mode and then tracking your subject. You can probably write your name backward in a mirror at parties. But you are in dead trouble when you try to see the screen of your new digital camera in that same sunlight.

The screen whites out - and the manufacturers have not thought to include the dear old waist-level folding hood to help. Too old-school? Grrrrrrr...

Ingenious users will rig up cardboard and gaffer tape hoods and then Blu-Tac them to the LCD screen. Gadget geeks will search the internet for strange little plastic folding hoods that were current about 8 years ago - they were made for smaller screens so it will be anyone's guess how to stick it on.

We've found the Hoodman 3.0 and 3.2 Loupe products and their associated accessory holders to be the best compromise right now. Each case is an individual experiment, so anyone contemplating it would do well to bring the camera in and fiddle. Blu-Tac is not unknown...

We can arrange the sunlight.

* Bronica S2 users are recognisable by their massive forearms and deafness - caused by holding the things and firing the shutter in confined spaces.

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Camera Electronic's Big Rack O' Volts - Promaster

If ever you needed a spare battery for your digital camera, now is the time to come in and get it. We have just put up a rack of Promaster rechargeable batteries that is about half the size of Tasmania.

There are modern batteries as well as slightly historic ones in the selection - and some from manufacturers that no longer make cameras. Altogether we have 95 pegs out with far more than 95 different types.

They are at an advantageous price and carry thee no-quibble Promaster warranty.

The really surprising thing is when you turn to the more ordinary battery rack on a side wall. There are the familiar D, C, AA, and AAA batteries that we all put into torches and kid's toys. There are the little flat 9 volt batteries that go into calculators. And the little silver cells that power cameras. All pretty standard sizes, and most camera manufacturers used to configure their products to take them readily.

So when did the camera designers thing it was a good idea to make the new gear with 95+ different types of battery?

Ah, well, philosophy aside, there are plenty of batteries for everybody now. Grab a spare before you go on your holiday or to the drag races. Or the drag show. Or Tasmania.

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Analog Drag Racing For Digital Photographers - Buy More Batteries

Okay. If you can remember Californian Poppy and Chiko rolls - favourably - you can appreciate this.

The Cranksters are going to hold a swap meet and drag race meeting called Nostalgia Drags at the Kwinana Motorplex this coming Sunday - 19th of April.

Their swap meet section costs $ 5 and you can then get that off the price of admission to the main drag races. There will also apparently be dirt track racing as well. I'm not sure what stuff will be on offer at the swap meet but if you like to troll the Workshop Camera Club's Photographic Markets every so often, you'll probably find something of interest. I'm looking for a new big end.

The drags should be a fairly smokey affair so if you are into car action this would be a good opportunity to get a zoom on the camera, a fast card inside it, and a couple of spare batteries. ( of which we have a lot right now come in and buy rahrahrah...). Unlike European formula racing, with most drag races the cars do not come off sideways and squash the spectators. There is still the occasional explosion in the bell housing or fire under the bonnet but then you can get that in Coles car park round our house any weekend.

I plan to take the Fujifilm X-pro 1 and the 55-200 for the races, but a fixed 18mm for the parked cars. Also the Metz-0-blindness flash unit in case that will help. Walking around an event it is good to have what you need to cover the thing, but it is also good not to haul the entire studio stock of lenses while you are doing it.

PS: I am hoping for Texas BBQ buns and hot rod coffee food vans but  will settle for a bottle of water and a Chiko roll.

PPS: If your lenses do not have UV protection filters on them, do not go anywhere near a dirt track race...We sell Hoya HD filters for all sizes, so be warned.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Stuck On You - With Nikon, Promaster, And Fujifilm

Many of us have cameras that hang round our necks. Or over our shoulders. Or suspended from a HIAB crane off the back of a tray-top Toyota. This is because in our impetuous youth we desire ever bigger lenses and camera bodies. We have muscles and ambition.

Later, both of these attributes go. We find our desire to haul heavy machinery long distances abates and we trade our Flapflex Massiva Grandissimo camera for a mirrorless and are much happier. When we do, we have a new option for hauling the camera about.

We can attach it to our right hand and eschew the neck strap altogether. The camera will stick to us like a bad reputation and we can hoist it or lower it for candid street photography with no fear that it will skitter off over the pavement. It will be discrete, even when we are not.

Try one of the many varieties. Just don't forget that you have your mirrorless attached to it and absentmindedly try to scratch your nose.

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When I Were Young We Were Too Poor To ...

When  I was young we were too poor to own a digital camera. The late 1940's were a hard time in the Rocky mountains and all we had to record life was stretched deer hides and ochre dug from the creek bank. In retrospect it was not too bad, because you could get packs of really good A3+ deer hide cheaply...

Okay, that was a lie. We had a Kodak camera. As it happened my parents owned an 8mm Kodak magazine cine camera and a projector and Kodak Canada would process 50 ft reels of Kodachrome movies and post them back to you within a fortnight. The results are still with me and the colour has not faded. When I care to project it my mother and father are alive again and I am 1 year old in the bath.

Valuable? To you, no. To me, priceless. To my daughter a link to the past. Much hilarity over the bathtub film...

When next you're doing your sums for yourself and wonder whether you ought to spend a few more dollars on a digital camera or an extra memory card...remember that someone will want to see what you look like one day. It might be a long - term investment, but it does pay off handsomely.

PS: We have good waterproof Nikon  and Olympus cameras in case the bath splashes.

PPS: We were too poor to own memes too...

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Tell Me The Truth - Does This Colour Make My Monitor Look Fat? Spyder...

Still looking at the same screen, are we? The one we bought from Harvey Norman three years ago? The one that has never been calibrated or colour corrected in all that time?

Well, congratulations - you are an adventurer. Boldly going where most of us would never venture. I'll bet you eat meat pies from roadside stalls in tropical countries. I'll bet you pet strange dogs in back alleys. I'll bet you contract marriage in cocktail bars and buy gold bricks wrapped in newspaper.

The rest of us are cowards. We know that the colours in the screens of our computers are a variable feast  - and that leaving the thing unattended for three years is like leaving yoghurt open on the table for the same length of time. Most of us have chickened out and bought screen calibrators.

I chose the Spyder 4 Express since my computer is a stand-alone model and sits in a uniformly dim room - no changing lights. I fire it up every two months and it returns the screen to a fixed normality. Sometimes there is very little correction needed over the period - sometimes considerably more. The program that runs the calibrator shows me a before and after image for each cycle it goes through.

If I was running a series of computers or had weird lighting or strange desires* I would select the Spyder 4 Pro or Elite models. They do more but you have to know what you want.

Watch in the next little bit as we feature these Spyder 4 models at bargain prices. In the meantime, if you STILL have not calibrated your screen, it might be safest to convert everything to monochrome and grow a hipster beard. Then no-one can look at you funny.

* Don't ask. I might tell you.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Talk Arty To Me....In Mount Lawley

If you need to know, they want you to listen...

There is to be a talk tonight in the series " Talks For Emerging Artists " at the Astor theatre, Mount Lawley. Three presentations on the subject and some pretty good speakers.

The time is to be 7:00 and the entry fee is on a what-you-feel-you-can-pay basis. So this is a chance to measure your soul as well as your pocket.

Go to this link for more information:

Good luck. Those of us who have been rejected as artists and have had to make do with being event photographers salute you...

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Rig For Silent Running

There is a time an a place for everything - and stealthy silent behaviour is frequently required in torpedo attacks, street photography, and federal caucus meetings. It never does to alert the potential victims.

To this end the Fujifilm company and a number of other manufacturers have included quiet modes in their cameras. Some are more effective than others; in some cases the reduction in sound is not very much - in others it is complete.

As far as silent cameras go I do remember an Olympus EE film camera of the 1960's that had a leaf shutter actuated in some way by electric circuitry. Even with the acute hearing of youth - pre air drills or military rifles - I could not hear it as it was operated.

With the Hasselblad 500-series you had a pre-release of the mirror that allowed you to get that noise over with before firing the shutter - and if you kept your finger on the shutter button afterwards there was no more sound until you were away from the scene.

The Nikon company have Q modes in some digitals - there is a lessening of sound but not complete cessation. The Fujifilm X-100 that I use has near silence and no illumination of the AF helper light nor any flash shot if you press the " DISP" button and hold if for a few seconds.

This is the reason that no-one in the crowd at yesterday's Food Truck Rumble took any notice of me. That and the ghillie suit and the breakdance competition going on and the 30 food trucks and the 50 people lined up in front of each food truck continuously for 9 hours. That's one good thing about overbooked venues and immobile lines of hungry people - they do not move very much at all and you can use much slower shutter speeds.

Hint: after about 30 minutes inching forward in the line some people get tetchy. It's best not to sidle up to them as ask if they're hungry yet...They tend to bite at you...

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Friday, April 10, 2015

The Gentle Tele - Converting The X-100 Series Cameras

The Fujifilm X-100 series of cameras are a hit with the buying public - we've proved that over the years. They are a hit with the travelling public too - I know because I travel with one and images it produces are magic.

But it is a camera that has a fixed focal-length lens firmly attached to the front of the body. It is superbly attuned to the APS-C sensor. If I can move back or forward in front of the subject, all is well - I frame as I please.

But if I am stuck inside a cramped space and cannot move back? Well a Fujifilm WCL 100 converter lens screws onto the front of the fixed 23mm Fujinon and widens it out to 18mm. Suddenly the shots inside the museum become possible - and the quality of the resultant image is exactly as good as the 23mm.

How about the business of bringing the far away object closer? Well, you can't expect to put the Mt. Palomar telescope on the end of a fixed focal length, but you can achieve a moderate increase in focal length. Fujifilm make a teleconverter called the TCL 100 that boosts the 23mm to a 35mm. Again there is no change to the image quality and you get to use the maximum aperture just the same.

Here's a visual map of what these focal lengths do - note: this illustration is taken with the Fujifilm X 10 camera on EXR setting.

The converters are not expensive, and they do expand your visual capabilities.

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By Golly This Lens Isn't Sharp...

Said no-one about a Zeiss lens - ever...

While the politics and the business structure of the Zeiss optical and camera firm might have been convoluted in the Cold War - East and West Germany both claimed to have the fragments of the true optical kreuz... We charitably assume that they have now either kissed and made up or at least buried the jurisdictional bodies and tamped down the mounds. As it seems to be now, they are going full steam both in Germany and Japan and supplying superb optics for a number of cameras.

Some of them are blockbusters. Ah, I think I could have phrased that better...Some of them are large lenses that may be considered the epitome of technology for their focal length. We're thinking of the Otus range here. Lenses for the seriously rich who wish to carry heavy weights. The reward is perfect images.

Some are discrete little things - designed to go onto Leica M mounts. Of course the Leica people frown on this but many photographers feel that they are able able to bear the contumely anyway - and they can do so in a wide variety of focal lengths. Of course it gets worse - the Fujifilm X camera users can buy an M mount adapter from Fujifilm and then go off on a Zeiss binge themselves. The fact that the Zeiss also make silver-finish lenses is wonderful - if one had a silver L____a or a silver F______m one could look as flash as anything.

And if you use the f:1.4 version and turn the ISO up to 3200 you don't even need to flash.

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

The History Of the World, My Sweet...

Is who gets eaten, and who gets to eat.

Or, as it happens, who gets to take pictures of food before they get to eat it. In the case of the Olympus event organised with Camera Electronic on Tuesday last, apparently they ate well.

The occasion was not all just gnashing molars - there was a presentation by travelling team of travelling experts from Olympus and by our local representative of the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 mkII camera and a number of the lenses that service it. The venue was the Brika cafe just up the street from Camera Electronic - and they got well over thirty paying customers.

The restaurant was not lit like a studio - it was a restaurant, after all, But that means that it also looked like a restaurant, and as they wished to capture food looking good in harmonious surroundings this was the way to do it. The Olympus E-M5 mkII has a secret weapon in this sort of shooting - exceptional 5-way camera stabilisation. Tripods are fine, but you can't always have one. Flash is fine but it doesn't always light the subject quite the way you would like. Arms and hands, as it turns out are fine - if the camera can remain steady - the Olympus can.

As you'll see from the attached images, there was some technical lecturing from Quett and Burke, and then presentation of the subject matter. It must have been an exercise in restraint  - to be taking the pictures before tasting the subject. Bless them for their dedication.

I wonder if there are any plans to hold a similar scientific seminar in a cocktail bar? Or should it be art? It worked for Henri Toulouse-Lautrec after all - And he didn't have the benefit of the latest Olympus cameras and lenses!

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In The Dark With Fujifilm

Did goe to a Fujifilm presentation laste night and was greatley amused. Also baffled* but still appreciative.

The affair was a disquisition by Flemming and Charlene about their work with the Fujifilm X-series cameras and lenses. They pursue disparate visions of night club life and music presentations around the world. I believe a number of their shots were taken in Denmark ( the country, not the town...) and Singapore ( the country, and the town...).

Light seemed to be the theme of the shots - light as spread out over rock performers and night clubs. The shots were taken in se cases in RAW form and in some in jpeg. The consistent factor was the amazing ability of the Fujifilm X system to catch something out of sheer darkness.

Armed with my trusty Fujifilm X-10 I tried my luck in Shoot Photography's main lecture hall - the only light coming in was the back scatter from the projector screen and the kitchen light bulb. The ISO was cranked way up - this is perfectly in order as Flemming mentioned that they red-line their X-Pro1 and T-T1 cameras as a matter of course.

Apologies to all who might have wanted to cringe into the crowd in the darkness - the Fujinon f:2 lens on the X-1-0 and the EXR program caught some interesting files. I promise not to use any of the pictures for blackmail.

The Fujifilm X series all have provision for silent running. The focus-assist lamp stays off and the shutter noise is eliminated. You can also turn off the LCD screen so yo really are in stealth mode. Indeed, as the shooter you have to keep an eye on the thing because you don't really know that you have taken anything. The focussing can be problematical but guesstimation and the Af-C mode seem to nail it pretty well.

The evening gave the visitors an opportunity to avail themselves of reduced pricing on may Fujifilm items - and there were free filters and spare batteries going out with the deals.

Did I not have 4 Fujifilm cameras and 4 X lenses already I would have been sorely tempted to spend money.

* Baffled. Why go to night clubs when you could go deaf on a rifle range in more comfort?

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