Friday, July 31, 2015

Three Weeks To Go For The FIPP

I love that name. FIPP. Sounds positively rude...but isn't.

The Fremantle International Portrait Prize competition closes for entries in three weeks. So far they have received entries from a number of countries - one of the organisers mentioned Russia, Argentina, Canada, France, The United Kingdom, India, and Samoa amongst others. Lots of entries as well from Western Australia and from someplace called The Eastern States...

Good doings until the 21st of August - you have until then to look at their website and then send in some electronic money and electronic images.

The competition offers real prizes - real money - and printing and exhibition of the images. They have had two big sponsors come on board - Fremantle City Council and Fremantle Ports. I was excited about the latter until I found out it wasn't a winery...

Nevertheless, this is a major contest for those of us who love the human face and its depiction. The entires will be well worth seeing when they are judged and hung.

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" Hello, Hell Desk Here - How May We Hell You?

Ringing up the Help Desk at a major corporation is an experience. So is stepping on a rusty nail. You always remember the first time you did it and it makes you cautious for a long time afterwards.

Many of the desks are automated  - much like the Death Star in the Star Wars movies. You cannot approach to the actual command structure without passing layer upon layer of automated voices and "press 2 for fried chicken and/or semiconductor design". That and the laser cannons.

You are cautioned that whatever you say will be recorded for "training purposes". They imply that their staff will be trained, but in reality it is you - the caller - who is being trained. Trained to sit there patiently while they play " Greensleeves " to you. I don't know about you, but I want an ice cream with my " Greensleeves "...

If you do eventually get through to a human - and this is by no means assured if you are ringing a government department or insurance office - they are generally quite nice. They may not be here in Australia, but at least they are breathing somewhere and this gives you a chance to go beyond the basic questions in search of help.

It pays to be gentle with the help desk staff - these same people may be ringing you up at tea-time and telling you that your computer has a virus.

This post is brought to you by Camera Electronic Help Desk. We do not have the laser cannons like the Death Star but we can find a couple of old battery-powered pointers that we used to use for slide shows.

Uncle Dick

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Zeiss Up The Front - Sony In The Rear

Gotta Sony camera with an E mount? Wanta new 25mm f:2 lens?

Come in and have a look at the new Zeiss Batis lens that has just hit the Sony shelf. Like much of the boutique Zeiss glass, it is in a plain barrel - this is a style reaction to some of the multi-banded offerings from other manufacturers. The peculiar little flair seen at the front flange of some of these is designed to integrate with the lens hoods to provide a smooth contour. That, and it recalls the bow structure of the IJNS KIRISHIMA. At least they didn't put a chrysanthemum on the lens...

Well, it also has another new feature - what starts out as a transparent panel with a black backing on the top of the lens lights up and turns into an LCD screen the gives the focusing information. Very next century.

Quality? Zeiss Distagon quality. Ask Hasselblad and Contarex users what this does.

Weight? Moderate. Not feather, but not anvil.

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Hold High The Multiple Standards, They Must Not Suffer Loss...

I am always amazed when I note that the manufacturers of regular flash-light batteries  managed to make AAA, AA, C, and D cells and by and large the products of any particular maker are fairly similar to the same class from another factory. Of course there can be a variation in the supplies - some have lots of electricity and some don't - also some leak and some don't. But generally an AA cell will fit in an AA holder no matter who made it.

Not so for Li-ion batteries. Each maker seems to have a different shape or size, and not just different from other firms - different from themslves. It is a rare and welcome thing for the developing line of new cameras to contain the same battery three years in a row.

A nightmare for the user? For the stockist? Wait until you consider what those batteries do inside the cameras...

The jpeg is pretty universal for most cameras. Take a jpeg and everything can read it from the storage device and show it on a screen. But there are limitations - even with the best jpeg cameras in the world, you can sometimes exceed the capabilities. RAW files are what you need. And then away you go on the chicken chase again as you try to get your new camera's files to open in your old computer program. Or find an update. Or find a new program. Or take to drink.

Some manufacturers have tried to institute a DNG file that will be universal but then lots of their competitors have not taken them up on it. Indeed sometimes there are computer crashes and problems but then that is one of the  mysteries of the occident.

Occidents will happen...

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Smile - You Can Make Your Computer Behave With Colormunki

I have no idea how to colour manage my computer. Aside from wiping the screen with a rag dipped in coal oil and making sure the ants are shaken out of the keyboard, I just depend on the colorimeter module that I plug into a USB port to do it for me.

Well, here's one from the X-Rite people that will do the same for you. it is a simple thing to use - load the software into your monitor, follow the prompts , set it to work on the screen in a  darkened room, and reap the rewards of simple calibration.

At the very least it will pt your screen to the same colour every time it is operated - I recommend once every two months - and it is like sobering up on a fine morning.

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The Falls Creek Lunch Box - Or How To Go In The Snow

The daughter has just been to visit Falls Creek in Victoria and was lucky enough to hit the best snowfall day of the year - 30cm of powder. The pictures she brought back of the holiday taken with my old Fujifilm X-10 set to automatic are wonderful - she put the SD card into the slot on the television last night to give us a slide show and I am torn between pride and jealousy - they are that good.

Note: The dear old X-10 was superseded by the X-20 and latterly has been replaced by the X-30. This Fujifilm compact zoom line just gets better and better. Travellers take note...

But back to the snow. She missed out on a few of the activities they did because she was afraid to take the camera out into the falling snow - I have since told her she was silly as the devices do pretty well, but she was careful with it. In retrospect I think I should have grabbed one of the small Pelican cases and let her dump the thing into that - then she could have ventured out into the cold dauntless.

This is the one I'd have picked - the Pelican 1050. It's only $ 35 and has the famous water-tight edge seal that Pelican is famous for. Plus a pressure relief valve that means it does not get stuck closed if you go up and down the mountains.

The interior is a padded solid rubber well - not a foam block. This means that you don't have foam crumbles flailing around and getting into the camera. There is plenty of room in there for the Fujifilm X-30  - as a matter of fact it is big enough to take the Fujifilm X-100T  or either the Fujiflm X-E2 with a 27mm lens or the new Fujifilm X-T10 with a similar optic. Now THAT'S going to be good tourist photos!

Note the carabinier strap and side slots for other strapping.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Small Big Screen For the Big Small Cameras - 501

The video people who use DSLR and mirror-less cameras get to play with all the cool toys. The cameras themselves can be set up to record motion picture footage in incredible detail these days - so much so that it can surpass the capabilities of the LCD screen that is fitted to the camera. More detail, bigger picture.

Videographers need to see what is happening as it happens. They frequently fit external monitor screens to their rigs - not just for the look of the thing but for the review capability that it gives them.

Now the Small HD corporation has produced the 501 model - very well made with a multitude of connections that let the signal in, or out again, and display it with 1920 x 1080 and perfect broadcast colour ( 100% Rec.709 )

It will produce HD waveform and scopes.

It's not plastic trouble construction - the case is hefty aluminium with, as you can see, connection bays for Canon LP-E6 batteries and three different mounting points - all 1/4" threaded sockets in metal.

Professional quality without being the size of a monolith.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Let There Be Licht - Metz And Your Mobile Phone

I do not own a smart phone. Mine is a rather stupid one - it can summon the police or a pizza, but cannot take pictures of them as they arrive. I do not repine - I have mirror-less cameras for that. I have a album of 8 x 10's of Neapolitan pepperoni surprise.

For those of you who do have the photophones and who insist on videoing themselves and others, there is a useful accessory just now on the market.

The Metz LED - 72 smart is an add-on LED array with 51 of the little glowing nubbins mounted on a metal mount. It plugs into the socket on your mobile phone and draws power from its own internal Li-ion battery.

It has several power settings starting at a full 72 Lux rating and then going down to a blinking mode. More than enough light to video with the phone or to light up a Subbuteo tabletop football game. The battery will go for some four hours on a full charge - and you charge it from a USB port on your computer in about 165 minutes.

Those of you who will be artists with this light will be artists and those of you who will be party pests with it will be party pests - the equipment does not make the person. But at least you will be brightly illuminated.

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Stick To The Tabletop With Slik

Those of you who do landscape photography know the value of a good big tripod - you buy sturdy Manfrotto and Cullman outfits and valiantly haul them about the place looking for the view that no-one else has seen. You know it's out there because you've seen it in their photos...

Come inside for tabletop or macro photography and you can get away with smaller and lighter tripods - provided you are using a small light camera and lens. Sometimes they really do need to sit on table tops.

In the case of this cutie, it combines metal legs, a two-way head, and an extendable center column. It don't extend up very high, but it does go down to the table top, and they have put a unique feature down there - a suction cup. All in aid of a little more stability.

Fortunately most studios do not have cross-winds. But it is still comforting to get as much hold as you can.

This Slik Mini 8 tripod is just the thing. A small thing, but a thing nevertheless.

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Walking Away With Warwick And Fujifilm

Thank Heaven for sunny Sundays. If the rest of the week is all rain and earthquakes at least we can do something fun on Sunday to refresh the soul.

Last Sunday saw a Photo Walk sponsored by Fujifilm Australia and Camera Electronic that started at the Shoot Photography workshops next door. We were entertained and educated by Warwick Williams from The Fujifilm trainin g team - he's a worldwide ambassador for the firm.

As you can imagine. with all their expertise in television lenses  - the pictures you see every night are likely to have passed through a Fujinon lens - the photos seen in the video presentation were perfect. It was also made perfectly clear that Fujifilm can do everything with the APS-C sensor size that can be done. Those of us who use them new that already but we didn't know why - that's why these training sessions are so valuable.

Well, the visitors went out with Fujifilm cameras in their hands to tour the local streets and to try to find beauty and drama in the surrounding gutters and gardens. Fortunately for the ones carrying the longer lenses and the new X-T10 with the new focusing mechanism, there was a football game being played in the park opposite the pub. They got to stop action and catch colour while the rest of us did art.

If you get a chance to go on a photo walk with Fujifilm ( or other fine manufacturers...) take it. If the day is sunny you get photos and if it is not there is always the pub.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Go To The Show

The Photo Live 2015 Expo is on tomorrow at the Novotel Perth Langley Hotel at 221 Adelaide Terrace. The troops from the shop are setting up the thing right now in conjunction with a whole lot of wholesale suppliers.

There should be something to see and learn all day, and if you are booked for one of the mini-talks you'll have access to some pretty professional people.

Good cause, too - a gold coin donation to Telethon and a percentage of sales goes to the charity.

Goes from 10:00 AM  to 5:00 PM. A useful Saturday.

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One Rung Above Ne Plus Ultra

The awkward thing about the advertising for new photographic products is the way that superlatives are written. If every new item is  described as the best thing since sliced bread, eventually you have so many of these about that you can't tell whether you are selling cameras or sandwiches.

The manufacturer's and distributor's writers also face the same problem - grabbing the public's attention as a way of loosening their wallets - and they frequently need to resort to what I like to call the verbal quadrille; carefully worked-out words that read well, are technically accurate*, and seem to differentiate the product in a nice way.

Dear Old Ken Rockwell used the term "weasel words" to describe this process. Careful selection of criteria and location and time to make things better. Like the phrase " Japan's best left-handed mirror-less macro low-light camera with a coffee-dispenser " which pretty well cuts out the competition. Tomiko, the tech writer for he Flapoflex Corpration just has to comb the spec sheet from the production department and compare it to similar sheets from everyone else. When he finds something that the new Flapoflex does that nothing else does, he is onto a winner.

Never mind if the feature is silly or so specialised that no-one would ever need or use it - Tomiko has the hook needed to make the advertisement. And if that advertisement is leaked via Flapoflex Rumors and then put in your local slick-paper photo mag with a picture of Ayer's Rock in the background you will be rendered incapable of resistance.

* Technically accurate: means that it is close enough to the truth that you cannot be jailed for saying it. Also known as Hansard-speak.

Uncle Dick

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Footlight Flashes - A Humble Suggestion

Footlights at the theatre contribute a lot to the lighting - see the recent posting re. the Mozart opera. Now you can do the same as the big guys in your own home studio.

Look at these humble AC flashes - they've been around for ages in the trade - I remember seeing advertisements for the in Fred Spira's day. They draw power from 240vAC and ca]n be fired from a standard PC cord or from their own internal slave cell.

There is a power-on light to show when you are connected and a ready-light to show when the charge is sufficient. They fire out at about a GN of 45.

Put them into outdoor floodlight sockets  ( See Mr. Bunnings for these. ) and they will synch along with your studio strobes for the authentic stage effect. Put tiny gels in under the plastic dome cover and you can make magic.

Also useful for el-cheapo copying stand and macro work and can be rigged up for an extremely basic studio portrait setup. You're only limited by your imagination and paying the Synergy bill.

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Mk.IV On The Floor - Sony's Time Warping Camera

Dr. Who is not the only one who can alter time - you can too if you get the new Sony RX100 Mk.IV camera. Specifically, you can slow it down.

Boy, can you slow it down.

The form of the little camera will be familiar to anyone who has had their Mk. I, II, or III models. Zeiss zoom lens, 180º flipping LCD screen, pop-up electronic view finder. Solid build.

New is the 4K capability and the 1/32,000 second shutter and the HFR. That acronym means that it has a High Frame Rate...up to 250 frames per second that you then run back as a video. The universe slows down to the extent that it looks like Winnepeg on a wet Sunday...

It is a camera that demands experimentation. Come in and test it out. Show us the results.

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" Goodness Had Nothing To Do With It "

Thank you, Miss West. Had you never delivered another line, you would have been immortal for that one.

We are bombarded with " goodness ". It beams from every cereal box and advertisement for fringe political parties. It is sometimes a noun, sometimes and adverb, and sometimes a cudgel. When combined with the word " natural " it becomes a device of such commercial power as to compel the money from the purse of the meanest housewife.

So far, it has not penetrated into the technical world of photography, but it can only be a matter of time before it does so. We are daily being bombarded by specification and number, and when these finally fail to intrigue or intrude, the advertisers will gently sink to the level of  " goodness ". It will not be a moral decision.

It happened with HiFi when that word had two capitals and the possibility of sex. We went from quoting the wattage of amplifiers ( by means of ever-increasing figures and imaginative lies ) after the numbers got to looking like the national debt and moved onto " goodness " and mysticism. We found " musicality " in twisted copper wire. Fair enough that - John Cage music sounds good when the wires are twisted, and better when they are actually pinched off.

I am not sure how I am going to sell mirror-less and DSLR cameras when mysticism sets in to our trade. I have a big glass ball at home and a set of gold earrings and I guess I could do a fair imitation of Madame Zelda who sees all if the lights are dimmed. And when they ask me about the " goodness " of the camera or lens, I know exactly what to say...

Uncle Dick

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Walk Round The New Nikon Lens

Just when you thought there was nothing new on the shelf to write about...the ordering department brings down a new Nikon DX lens.

DX is the smaller-frame Nikon DSLR format - so in the current flurry of FX cameras and lenses it might be thought to be missed out. Not by Nikon - they have a remarkably large range of DX-sized lenses to match their cameras and photographers need to remember their advantages.

It is wrong to compare apples to oranges but everyone does on the internet before they come here so I might as well do it too I have owned apples, I now shoot on oranges. I have shot for many years on pears and still retain an complete watermelon outfit in my studio.

Right now, DSLR cameras are faster at sports shooting than mirrorless. Sad, but true, and if you need to capture peak of action exactly right each time with individual shots you will have a better chance on a DSLR. I know - I have to box clever to do things with my mirror-less system that I formerly gave no thought to. Score one for Nikon DSLR.

In comparison to FX, DX uses less memory. Less processing power, time, and bad language. Score two for Nikon DX.

If you need depth of field, DX delivers more than FX does. Score three for Nikon DX.

If you need light weight, Nikon DX scores over Nikon FX. But it is about the same as mirror-less. Score a draw.

Okay - now the pitch. Nikon have a new medium-range DX lens - 16mm to 80mm. Now it has a max aperture of 2.8-4 so you get double the amount of light. It is solidly-built and functions very smoothly with any of the DX cameras. I should think it a perfect match to the D7200.

In stock right now. Here's a look.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Camera Electronic Rental Department Says Go Away...With A New Lens

Specifically, go away* with a new lightweight Nikon 500mm or 600mm telephoto lens. They have just come on to the Rental Department roster and are available for hire.

These are not lenses that will get much use in the studio...or at the wedding - unless you really don't want to get close to the bridal party. They are animal lenses - bird lenses - surfing and sport lenses. They are air show lenses.

Those of you with Nikon cameras and a desire for the very best of image quality - with less weight to carry - call the Rental Department now and discuss prices. 9328-4405, or email us

You can also view our rental pricelist here 

* You do have to come back eventually...

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Monday, July 20, 2015

A Balanced idea - Promaster Lens Cap

We all tend to lose our lenscaps and then have to buy more. Next time you drop yours over the taffrail or leave it in a hotel room, consider getting one of the White Balance Lens Caps from Promaster.

It clips in just like others, but features a translucent white center section that allows your camera to take White Balance readings in the custom mode  - and to get an accurate WB for unusual circumstances. Consult your camera manual - in the case of all my Fujifilm X cameras it is as easy as one click with this lens cap.

Saves a heap of time later when you are finishing your jpegs!

Standard sizes up to 77mm.

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That's Why - the New Canon G3X

It looks like...but it also looks like...and what's with the two tripod sockets?

Okay, you're going on safari or bear hunting. You want to take landscapes as as well as  wildlife. You don't want to take a big camera. You want to take video as well. You don't want to have to change lenses. You have a tablet and a mobile phone and want to back things up and send off reports to social media every night.

Easy to do? Up till now, no - few cameras combined all those requirements. Now we have the new Canon G3X and it does.

Long lens - up to 600mm equivalent.
Wide lens - back to 24mm equivalent.
Articulating screen that can go to 180º for selfies.
WiFi inside.
Instant access to social media.
Full video.
Man-sized grip without massive body weight.
External control access and two custom channels.

The two tripod sockets are really one threaded and one smooth - to integrate with the anti-twist mechanisms that many tripod manufacturers put onto their quick-release plates.

A very good travel idea.

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Cross My Palm With Silver...

Or at least cross it with graphite...

I used to frequent Madame Zelda and her Mystic Crystal Of Doom. Between that and the  tarot cards, secret golden sunbeams, and trained chicken that picked out fortune sticks from the red lacquered box, I figured that I had a close watch upon the future. I bought stocks in zeppelin airlines and pet rock farms accordingly.

Then one day the internet started and within 4 seconds of the first computer switch-on, a camera rumour site appeared.

I have abandoned Zelda and now use these exclusively. It is not so much that they are more accurate than she was - it is just that there is a boundless sense of  confidence about them that the chicken never had. I think it is a case of numbers - if there are enough people playing let's-pretend the fairy tale becomes realer and realer.

Perhaps the posters on these sites do have some influence - Several weeks back the Fuji Rumors site reported that the Fujifilm company monitors what people say when the site calls for a wish-list of features. Certainly any authentic consumer research data is valuable to commercial firms...the question is whether it is accurate or real. The internet hides motives as well as identities.

Of course each major manufacturer will be monitoring the sites of their rivals. As the sites will be multilingual, there must be teams doing it in each case. I can imagine spilled teacups and footsteps hurrying down corridors when a hint of someone else's advance is detected. Closed-door conferences to counter the promises of a rival. Late-night sessions trying to fabricate a formula of words to suggest that Manufacturer A's promised camera or lens will have the world's best whatever and that anything that Manufacturer B can promise will be rubbish.

Code Purple? Enigma machines? Listening at doors with a water glass? Nano-coated ninjas?

I think we can all stop watching the Agatha Christie shows on television and just do the rounds of the rumour sites every evening. Cheaper than Foxtel and far more exciting.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Red is The Colour Of My True Love's Heart - Panasonic

No reason for this post, except...

Look at the glorious colour of the body on this Panasonic TZ70.

No need to be dull when you photograph bright subjects.

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Panasonic G Series Welcomes A New Camera

Every day people present to our counter looking for smaller and lighter camera alternatives for their travel photos - we duly recommend the various options and try to talk them through their plans and needs.

Panasonic have realised that this is a burgeoning market - their G series mirror-less cameras have always combined sophisticated electronics with small size. Now there is a new model that looks to be a good choice for he raveller or home photographer.

"Home Photographer " sounds patronising but really isn't - we all need something that can take pictures in our home, of our home life. Mobile phones don't do justice to our families when we use them as the primary image-capturing device. Somewhere down the line we and our subjects are going to be sorry we opted for the phone shot when we try to get a good large print of irreplaceable people.

Well - think mirror-less, and specifically think Panasonic Lumix G7. Pop on a Lumix G Vario 14-140 lens on it and a good fast card into the slot and go for it.

The good fast card is because his camera records video in the 4K mode...and sometime in the future you'll be able to get home video replay gear that will show you the beauty of this. It is the newest and best of video.

The files that come off the micro 4/3 sensor will also be among the best that this format yields. There is an extensive range of automatic, art, and helper programs in addition to the PASM so you will never be lost for an appropriate look. Or an inappropriate one, if you are an inveterate button-pusher...

Best of all, it is light. Even the most paranoid traveller - the one who measures out their toothpaste into number of teeth times number of days away to save weight on the plane - will be able to pack this and some spare batteries and memory for their trip. And they needn't shoot everything in jpeg to save the weight of the pixels - this camera does raw at the same weight as jpeg.

In-store now and light as a feather.

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A Night At The Opera - Lighting Lessons From Mozart

Did goe to the opera house last night and was greatley entertained. The subversive opera " Marriage Of Figaro " by some Austrian individual was sung and played by a number of local artists - to the entire satisfaction of the audience.

A note about the audience - as with many music things that you go to, I noticed that they were all on drugs. Of course, given that this was a Mozart opera sung in Italian, the drugs were chiefly Mogadon, Lasix, and Metamucil...

But back to the stage. Going to any presentation is a good chance for photographers to see what stage light designers do with their resources. Their gear may not be exactly what we use in the studio or out in the field, but the stage light designer does have the brief to illuminate and to emphasise - and this is certainly applicable to our efforts.

If we are doing it in studio we can observe where they have placed their stage floods and spots and see if the faces and figures look good - then do the same with strobes. Think of our reflector strobes and soft box strobes as the spot and flood of stage work. Our strip strobes also are sometimes seen on the stage - in fact last night I was particularly attentive to strips off-stage allowing some spill from behind the flats as the backdrop sheets on stage were rippled - it gave the effect of a forest waving in the night.

We can also look carefully to see if gels are doing their job on stage - or whether they are a hindrance and distraction. Last night was pretty good in as far as the gels were not excessive. Those of us who shoot middle eastern dances or burlesque can sometimes be working in some pretty vile colour washes and the photos we get from this sort of illumination is equally vile. White balance is nigh on impossible unless there is some white somewhere...

Finally - nearly all stages are illuminated from above - that is the nature of the stage. Some have additional footlights - His Majesty's has good ones. These are wonderful in supplying  a good look to the bottom part of the actors and I would earnestly recommend that studio shooters think of adding a set of them at the front of their sets. You don't need big stuff and some of the screw-in strobes are wonderful - you can even get the holders for them in Bunnings.

PS: Figaro and Susanna did succeed in the end. Mozart won.

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Pack In A Cube - Or How To Shoot Catalog Fast

Do you have a letter box at your house? You do? Have you noticed the people who stalk the streets and fill it with advertising flyers? They are unstoppable - no matter how many signs you put up they will still stuff your letter box with paper.

Apart from the ecological question of all that paper and ink, and the moral question of being able to defend your letter box...isn't it interesting how many pack shots and product pictures modern life uses? Someone had to take those pictures, and that someone could very well be you. If you can find - or be - a retailer who wants pack shots, you can do it with your present camera equipment. Who knows - with a little research and self-promotion* you may become the doyen or doyenne of dog food dioramas...

How to do? I used to recommend the pop-up studio set with two lightbulbs that Optex make - $ 249 worth of tiny studio. Or the cloth and wire light cubes that Glanz and Promaster make - they can go from 40cm cube to 120cm cube so there is a large range of  goods that you can put in them.

I also used to recommend that the Optex mini-studio user just turn on the two flouro tube lights and shove the goods in there - but this tended to make them look like they were being illuminated by two soft boxes or strip lights.

Now - I think that there is s better way - as evinced by the can of soup you see here. It's not for sale - it's for lunch - but it's typical of the product that goes into a catalog. The challenge is to make it look good, do it in one shot, and do no post processing. If you can do that you can start a production line of illustration that means profitable photography.

The setup is easy - the Optex mini studio is turned on. A sheet of white paper is curved into a mini-infinity set in the box and taped down. The can is set in so that there is a little illumination on the 3/4 curved front side.

The camera ( in this case a Fujifilm X-10, current version X-30 ) is set to whatever size output you want. And with Fujifilm there is no footling about with RAW - the jpegs are glorious. f:9 and 1/30 second. Tripod? Good idea if all the products will be the same size.

The new illumination trick is a standard Fujifilm EF 42 flash and a diffuser on the front of it - in this case one of the old Honlphoto plastic flaps. Really, you could use a sheet of white paper taped to any speed light you owned, as long as the speed light could fire in manual and be turned down somewhat.

 A wireless link between camera and flash completes the setup, though wired could be used if you have the connectors available - the main idea is to fire a blot of diffused light into the front of the set so that it shows the front of the product but bounces around to do its own fill as well.

The result is good, fast, and repeatable. All you need is an assistant to organise the flow of products to the set and away from them and to record what was photographed to later correlate the output. If you get the settings right the client gets a consistent batch of images that can be put into a good catalog.

And then you can pull it out of your letter box and throw it into the bin.

* Self-promotion: Unusual concept little known amongst professional photographers...

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

Fast Report - New Go Pro Here

Pardon the poor pack shots - didn't want to open one up for the illustrations.

The new Go Pro Hero 4 Session cameras are here in stock.

Action-cam people will know more about this than I - I'm a non-action cam person - but it looks from the outside that the shape of the device has been somewhat changed.

It is smaller, sleeker, with rounded angles to the external housing . It is more of a cube shape.

The mounts and items included in the package seem to be the same size and type as for previous models - if you already have a special rig set up on your helmet, bike, or car, then this should just bolt straight in.

1080p 60fps and 720p 100fps are stated on the box. 8 megapixel at 10fps burst rate. wireless and bluetooth operation.

This may be a useful variation for those people who are going to be subject to intrusive water pressures or flailing foliage or other mechanical influences. If you are going to ride your Honda off the top of a cliff you are still going to encounter the planet at the bottom of the landscape but short of that it may be an improvement.

Note: It is still not recommended for endoscopy.

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Print Big - Save Big - Epson Cash Back

Winter is upon us but the Epson company does not intend to sit around and be cold. Neither should you....they have a couple of offers for the printers amongst you that will warm you up without having to burn money.

The Epson large format printers can be big, or not really so big. The Epson Stylus Pro 7900, 9900, 7890, and 9890 fit into the former category and the Epson Stylus Pro SP 4900 into the latter.

In each case they are the standard of the industry for their respective print sizes - we are lucky to have one sitting here for our shop sign and poster printing. It works a treat.

The real news today from Epson is that they are goong to run a cash-back program for the purchase of thes printers between now and the 15th of September.

For the Stylus Pro 7900,9900,7890,and 9890 you will get $ 1000 back from them.

If you choose a Stylus Pro SP-4900 you qualify for $ 500 cash back.

These are not offers to sneeze at - even if you do have a winter cold.

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Prices For Fujifilm - Right Now

I have no head for figures, as the stock controller and accountant here well know...but I do try. Recently I noticed some confusing figures regarding Fujifilm cameras on offer so I thought I would set out the real deal right here.

Firstly - the Fujifilm company have a cashback offer going on right now for selected items. Bear in mind it'll cease on the 31st of this month - end of July 2015.

Currently they will pay you back $ 100 if you purchase a new Fujifilm X-100T. If you purchase an X-Pro1, a black X-T1, or a graphite X-T1 they will pay you back $ 200. Good deal.

Here's the current price you need to pay in the shop for each of these fine pieces of gear:

1. X-100T...................$ 1488

2. X-T1 Black............$ 1422

3. X-T1 Graphite......$ 1586

4. X-Pro1...................$ 888

The simple maths means that if you get the X-100T and apply to Fujifilm for your cashback you'll eventually have paid only $ 1388 for a superb camera.

The X-T1 in black or graphite will eventually cost you $ 1222 and $ 1386 respectively for equally fine machines.

The X-Pro1 will eventually have cost you $ 688 - which is the bargain of the year in mirror-less cameras. I know. I own one. And I am holding onto it jealously...

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Staff Training Day - With Cullmann

Yesterday's staff training concentrated upon Cullman products and one of the bits really caught my eye. I'll be careful in future about bending over near the shelves. The doctor says it is just a bruise and I should be fine in a week.

Moving on from there - here is the device: the Cullmann answer to panoramic pictures.

The bottom turntable fastens to the head of your tripod - it could be a Cullmann, which is an easy bolt-on, or another maker's head - equally easy after a little wrangling. You can use a ball head, a three-way head, or a leveler.

This turntable has a precise Arca-Swiss sized jaws on the top and into this the L-shaped bracket just glides.

You position your camera anywhere on the horizontal or vertical arms of the bracket for landscape or portrait orientation depending on the coverage you want and the nodal point of your lens.

Note - there may be a table somewhere on the internet that gives nodal point measurements for camera and lens combinations. I haven't found it yet but would be grateful to any reader who could research it. I just play mine by ear with a simple field measurement.

Well, you level the table, set your exposure and focus manually, overlap the images and shoot away. This combination of components ensures that your computer program is presented with the best material for stitching - provided you have enough computer power in there to do it. You'll get more even and square panoramas.

The really attractive thing about these components is the combination of precision, affordability, and light weight. You can haul this out into the landscape at less than half the weight of the other well-known rival. If you are packing your own gear and not using bearers or mules this is a very good thing to discover...

Here's our shop link.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Next Size Up. Epson And Fujifilm.

I am going to revise what I say to people here in the shop - particularly in respect of the size of sensor and the size of picture one can make with it.

I base my opinions on what I have done...not on what I have read. Will Rogers would have laughed at me because I am the one who has to test out the electric fence for myself - but in some cases the shock s a pleasant one. So it was today with a trial print done here on our shop Epson Stylus Pro 4900 printer. It has opened my eyes.

The file came as a large jpeg from my Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera and the standard Fujinon 35mm f:1.4 lens. It was taken in bright sunshine at Cusack Road this last Sunday - a little red Model A delivery van done as a mild hot rod. Red? Red as!

Up until now I have advised customers that the most they could expect from APS-C sensors on mirrorless cameras was an A3+-sized print. That indeed was my experience with the last system camera I used, and I accepted it as gospel. If someone wanted bigger prints I advised a bigger sensor.

Not no more. The red Model A picture that came off the Epson this morning is a full A2 size. It's printed on Ilford Smooth Pearl and it is brilliant. Of course part of the secret is that it was taken in RAW on the X-Pro1 and converted through the Silkypix program to a big  jpeg. but there is no reason on another occasion not to use the large/fine jpeg setting on the camera itself and just go from there. This would give X-trans users of some of the unique film simulation modes as well

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Monday, July 13, 2015

When Power Is Never Enough Or Far Too Much...

A client called today with an interesting studio problem. She has been thinking about it, experimenting, and doing the science correctly, so I learned something.

She shoots in a small space. She wants to do work at a wide aperture - wider than f:4. Even with one single light from her 400 w/s set and her camera set to a very low ISO, she still has too much light for the subjects.

She's tried the temporary dodge of covering the front of a softbox with a grey chiffon, but this contributes an unwanted colour cast. Basically she just has too much light.

Tempting to trade it in and get lower power, but she may have larger premises one day or be taking photos of big groups out in big keeping the power is good too.

The best solution would seem to be the Lee company and their theatrical gel material. It comes in large rolls and can be had with either clear colours or clear grey or translucent finish to drop even more light.

I hope she tries it and can report results. There are a lot of people who might be in her predicament - if the Lee material works I'll report it on this blog.

Note: I shoot studio too, but sometimes need to have all the power I can get for tiny apertures. Different subjects, different vision.

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Strollin' With Fujifilm

I am led to believe that there will be a photo-walk involving Fujifilm cameras and one of the best trainers in the industry - from Fujifilm, naturally - on the 26th of July.

I get to go along and cause trouble assist with the day. I look forward to it as it will be a good opportunity to clear the head and learn new things.

My street photography skills are rusty...the last time I mooched around the streets was when I was a student in the 60's and the whole of the metro area seemed to shut down on Saturday at 1:00 and not open again until 9:00 on Monday. There were tumbleweeds and dingoes howling down High Street in Fremantle...( Mind you, I have seen High Street recently and it is still tumbleweeds and dingoes but now it seems to go all week...).

I have been told that things have changed - you can now get a cup of tea and a salad roll outside of bank hours. People have been sighted. You cannot do bogan laps of the city block in an FB as they have closed some of them down for malls but you can put on lycra bike shorts and achieve much the same effect.

And we'll be there to take your picture as you do.

I'll bring you more details as they are invented.

Uncle Dick

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Strobin' With Fujifilm

The "strobist" fad went through here a couple of years ago and was quite popular for a while - but I suspect it was before its time in some respects.

You see, the little clip-on and strap-on accessories that we sold for speed lights were all very well - for the most part they did modify the light output - but they were accompanying large, heavy regular DSLR cameras. In some cases the DSLR's were bearing even larger and heavier lenses. It might have been fun, but it wasn't balanced.

The fad seems to have passed - some of the manufacturers have stopped making the accessories, and other fads have appeared. Yet - the time is right to take this up as we have smaller and lighter mirror-less cameras to use now...we can achieve balance.

I went to see the toy cars on Sunday. While I paid for an adult entry ticket, I didn't want to be an adult - it's hard enough keeping up the pretence all week here in the shop...I did take a mirrorless camera with one lens and a speedlight with a couple of strobist accessories. And I had a whale of a time.

The camera was the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and the flash was the EF 42 from Fujifilm. It is a speed light that has an easy manual program you can change with two push buttons. The right lens for he job was the Fujinon 35mm f:1.4.

The strobist accessories were a wireless trigger set that allowed me to shoot with the camera in one hand and the flash in the other, and a bounce panel above flash tube. This was one of the nylon/cloth panels that attach to the speed light with a velcro strip - very lightweight and easy to pack away. In yesterday's case I used a 5" size.

Note that these sorts of reflectors were made by Honl and are still available from Rogue.

Exhibitions and shows can be crowded places and you don't have much room to set up tripods or light stands. The ability to have one good diffused flash that you can shift around on the end of your arm is priceless.

f:11 was no problem with this setup - and you need all the depth of field you can get for tabletop subjects at close range. It worked so well, and with such a light weight to carry, that I experimented with it here in the shop's mini studio set. I am quite impressed with what it can do in one shot. Even simple shelf shots are better with the diffuser.

Wanna know more? Come in and see me.

Uncle Dick

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