Friday, July 29, 2016

The Instructions Are On the Packet...

They really are.

I don't think we need to have any more staff serving at the counter now that we have the new Manfrotto tripod boxes. The questions that the customers ask and the response that we give are all printed on the outside of the packaging. If they attach some reference to the weather and a dirty joke we can all stay home...

Okay, it isn't as bad as fact it is actually good. Manfrotto have printed examples of tripod use on the outside of the box and have included enough information on all four long sides to encourage anyone to purchase toe product. I would go further and say that it is a pretty good product - and it has a unique design feature.

Here's the boxes. Info on all surfaces - why you need a tripod, how to deploy it, what results to expect.

Inside there is a useful cloth bag containing the goods, with the interesting design feature of ta captive strap so you can sling it over your shoulder while hiking. Well thought out.

Once you have it sitting naked in front of you, all folded up, you can be excused for wondering how they got it into the slim line if it has a three-axis tripod head. A ball head is slim, but three-axis heads always have something that sticks out sideways. Putting one away is like loading a drunk into a taxi.

Here's the secret. Manfrotto made one of the adjusting levers swing 90º and screw into the same axis as the other lever when it is stored. For use, you loosen it and swing it back the 90º into the conventional position. Clever, clever thinking. It would be good to see the same facility in the more professional tripods as well.

The rest of the deal is good-duality amateur tripod design - light enough to haul but steady enough for a medium-sized DSLR. Don't try for super telephoto lenses or large-format cameras. Accept that this is a traveller's architecture and landscape rig and make use of it as such.

Now - let us see if this approach to customer outreach printed on the packaging will the off in other areas. Done well - not patronising the client and not puffing the product too much - it could make a considerable difference to people who want to make up their own minds without salespeople pressuring them.

Note: On the sales floor I never pressured anyone. Until 5 minutes until lunch and then I pulled out a cavalry sabre...

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cutting The Pie

Who gets the largest slice of the retail photographic pie? The retail shop? The wholesale agency? The manufacturer? I've asked and no-one will tell I've had to make my own observations at the trade shows. And I have come to the conclusion that, oddly enough, it is the paying customer.

The reasoning behind this is simple - the percentages that come back to the retail shop are small these days. The burgeoning internet trade plus the sense of nervousness that pervades the consumer base mean that there are very slim profit margins. These in turn also mean reduced earnings for wholesale firms. There are various finagles tried at times to increase these profits but they all work out about the same in the end. The camera maker has the most investment of all, and it doesn't even need a tsunami  to devastate a plant - it can happen with a change of fashion in sensors or lenses.

But at the end of it all, the consumer gets an actual product - a thing to hold in the hand rather than just sit on a balance sheet. They get a camera and lens and get to use it every day. Their money might deflate as time goes on but the actual hardware stands a chance of keeping a decent utility for half a decade, if they let it. If it is Leica equipment it also stands a chance of going UP in price.

Does anyone else get some pie? The publishers of photo magazines? Probably not all that much these days. Schools and universities? Yes, some...

Governments? Well, there is the GST and other taxes to be considered, and if they bring in a GST on internet imports, well that will readjust the scales.

And then there is the overseas internet sale...For years I have been hearing how easy and convenient it is to purchase goods from New York. How they arrive in the twinkling of an eye and at a fraction of the cost and how the sellers reach out over the net and massage your feet and sing " Kumbaya" as they do it...

Watch this space. I was forced to order a material from New York that no-one, even us, wants to carry in Australia. I have been charged the price and assured that it is on the way, but my eyes have long since ceased to twinkle and my feet have been hurting for weeks now. We shall see if it is all true... I don't begrudge pie, but not in the face.

Note for Thursday - it did arrive yesterday...six weeks after placing the order...Hmmmmm...

Uncle Dick

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Split Personalities?

I take a little amusement in looking at the packaging of photographic goods...when working on the sales floor that amusement could evaporate quickly while trying to prise some cameras out of their maker's packaging in front of the customers. Crowbars and bad language never seems to set the right tone.

Fujifilm have never been guilty of bad packing, but they do have a strange dichotomy when it comes to their choice of colour. Their  X-series digital cameras produce some of the nicest out-of-camera jpeg results in the industry...yet they are sent out in some of the drabbest boxes.

I am not suggesting that they are bad boxes - just sober looking. I do admire them for putting big letters and numbers on the outside to indicate what is inside - a boon in the darkness of the warehouse. But why so serious, Batman?

Now contrast this with the packaging for the Instax range of goods. Every colour under the rainbow, cheerful to see and cheerful to use. And Fujifilm were very, very clever at the Photo Live Expo 2016 - they made sure that there was a very colourful demonstrator to work with the Instax section.

I do not wish to detract from the efforts of Frank, Justin, or Warwick, but none of them measured up to the eye-appeal of the Instax girl.

Note in this photo of three of them that they are not posing for me - they are posing for Gary Schwidden in the background.

Gary is using one of the new Theta S cameras to take a 360º image of the display hall and the Fujifilm stand from the top of a tripod. He has complete control of it from his iPad. I can't wait to see what the results from this and from some of the other footage he shot during the day will look like - he was able to cover most of the action all day - a busy time.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Jacques Cousteau Studio Camera

As a person who does not swim, either regularly or well, and who has never taken a camera underwater at any time. I feel I am perfectly qualified to review the products from Nauticam.

They were shown at the recent photo Live Expo 2016, though not in their native element. To be fair, it would have been a bit much to expect the Novotel Langley Hotel to provide a 20 metre tank in their functions room, and even taking the cameras to the restrooms and plunging them into toilets would probably not go down well with the cleaning staff.

So in the end, they were displayed out on dry tables, with a variety of housings, lights, and accessories. The visual effect was stunning.

Now photographers are nearly all gadgeteers, and you don't get much gadget-ier than underwater photography. You need to insure that the camera and flash are sealed away from the water perfectly. You need to make sure that electricity can flow undisturbed. You need to keep the camera below the surface of the waves with enough weight to let it be neutral and not fight its way up or down. And on top of this you need to be able to operate tiny knobs and buttons while your own hands are encases in gloves or fighting off giant squid.

I know these things - I've seen the movies of Captain Nemo.

Witness, therefore the profusion of clips, handles, knobs, and struts on the Nautical equipment. Buried inside each of the large housings is a modern digital camera and surrounding it is O-rings, seals, pressure glands, and feeler arms. There is bound to be a way of doing nearly everything that a dry camera does, but it will be done with larger controls.

Note the twin lights on some models - it is dim down there and extra light is a must for any successful action filming. The modern-day LED light chip is as much an advance over tungsten bulbs as was the strobe light tube over flashbulb guns.

The modern performance cameras that run at ISO's over 1600 must be a boon to the underwater shooter. That and autofocus mechanisms that can be depended upon to cope with movement and tricky lighting situations. The fact that they can also cope with these things on ' dry ' land under rainy conditions is a bonus.

One odd thing - I remember in the dear old Minolta and Nikons days that many of the camera systems were coloured bright yellow or orange - presumably so that they could be seen in the dim blue underwater - not the Nauticam units - they are dark colours - perhaps they do not want to scare off the fish or submarines. Ah, but you do get to go bright if you use an iPhone 6...

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

So Whaddawy Get For Me Money?

A good question. And one that the people who go to trade shows might well ask themselves before they go. Keep in mind that there are any number of events of this nature in Perth, and the punters can afford to be selective.

The Photo Live Expo 2016 just concluded gave people the following:

A. Enthusiastic and expert speakers upon a range of topics - and the format of the thing meant that the people who spoke on a subject could concentrate on it with the attention of an intelligent audience to help them. There is a vast difference between this and generalised presentation that never really hits the spot.

B. Industry reps who actually know their stuff. I know they know their stuff, because I know those reps. They are obviously speaking to their own topic, and their focus is getting you to give up your money, but when it comes right down to it, you WANT to give up your money so there is no sin there. The industry experts can make sure that when you transfer your dollars, you get back value for it.  They want to see you succeed.  They want to sell you items that do what you want to do and do it well. The great trade reps can actually inspire you to want to do something new. Set someone off on a journey of discovery and art and we ALLLLLL benefit.

C. The chance to listen. Not just to the trade reps. Not just to the Camera Electronic staff. Not just to the lecturers.

To each other.

Photographers - enthusiast to professional - you have a unique view of the world. You might be the kindest and gentlest person on the planet, but you do have to admit that if you were presented with another HINDENBURG bursting into flames in front of you, your first reaction would be to check the shutter speed and aperture and raise the camera to your eye...likewise another Marilyn Monroe on the beach, sunset in Yosemite, or sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square. Don't feel ashamed. You are the Michelangelos of 2016. You are the eyes of the world, and frequently the heart as well...

Listen to what others say. Recognise their skills and their interests. Try them out for yourself. BUY A NEW LENS and TAKE SOME NEW PICTURES. You may very well be the person that others wish they could have been.

Go out with the camera and explore. You can be what you want to be.

What you get for your money is you.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Uncle Dick's Hot Wash Up - The Photo Live Expo 2016

I hope that all the people who visited us yesterday down at the Novotel Langley hotel got home safely and slept soundly - I know I did. It's because I had a happy day.

Tasked with minding the table with the old books o n it, I still had time, thanks to assistance, to tour the rest of the trade room exhibition. What I found were very friendly industry representatives and a pretty good selection of current equipment and materials on offer - and there were  a few surprises for me as well. I'll detail them later in the week.

But was I'd like to say for Monday morning is how well-behaved the crowd of visitors was on Sunday. Not that we expected a soccer riot or anything...what I mean is the tenor of the conversations and questions I participated in or could hear seemed to be very pleasant. I know I don't talk all that much at a bookstall as I tend to bury my nose in the stock and read what it says in there, but lots of people called by and had interesting things to say.

It looked as though that was the case on the other trade stands as well - particularly when a new item like the Fujifilm X-T2 was lurking there amongst the other goods. I was an honourable employee and did my duty and did not spend all my time poking away at the X-T2 but I can tell you that it will be an interesting thing to play with when it comes into ready sale.

Someone remarked during the day that - worldwide - the photo trade is supposed to be shrinking. They cited cell phones as the reason - then general economics were mentioned - then world terrorism (?). They might as well have blamed garlic or the letter "Q" for it... From the looks of the crowd that surged through the Novotel, the trade is doin' fine. Remember that this was a cold Sunday and the hotel was not on major train line and we still packed the room - packed it with people from 35 miles away in some cases.

For myself, I was more than happy to see that a lot of the books went off to new homes. Some of the literature was not old enough to be historic nor new enough to be relevant...but in nearly every book or magazine there was something that could make the reader think. And thinking is what really starts photography going.

More on the Photo Live Expo 2016 later in the week. For today, here is the new Fujifilm X-T2. It exists!

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Today's The Day

Today's the day of the Photo Live Expo 2016 at the Novotel Hotel on Adelaide Terrace.

The doors open at 10:00 and there's still space in some of the Photo Talks so you get to find out all about new stuff.

There's trade tables and industry reps and enthusiastic salespeople and new gear and bargains...all to be had for the price of a gold coin donation to Telethon.

It's cheaper than the zoo and fortunately the Camera Electronic staff mostly smell better than the bear cage, so come on down and have some fun. We'll be there until 5:00.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Photo Live Expo 2016 - The Thing You Didn't Know...

Psssst....C'mere....Wanna see what I got...?

I'll bet you thought this weblog post was going to show you something rude. Or secret. And you kept right on reading...

You kept on reading because you are naturally curious. We all are, and unless we are cats it is a good thing. Curiosity leads us to enquiry...and enquiry leads us to knowledge. And knowledge leads us to wisdom. And wisdom sits at home a plays with the cat.

Actually, at our house, wisdom stands holding the door open while the cat decides whether to go in or out...

So what should you do when you come to Photo Live Expo 2016 at the Perth Novotel Langley on the 24th of July - what should your curiosity lead you to? Let me suggest that it leads you to three places:

1. A lecture room for a subject that you are really interested in. Pet photography? Drone photography? Go for it. And there are lots of others available for a pre booking ticket (or maybe buy one on the day...but remember they book out sometimes...). You'll get the latest gen from someone who is an expert in the field.

2. A different lecture room. Choose a subject that you have NEVER DONE BEFORE. What if you don't like it? What if you do...?  Scary stuff, eh?

Consider - if you have never pursued a topic in photography before, you have no pre-conceptions - no mis-conceptions - you may very well have the best eyes and ears in the hall to learn about the subject. If it is all new it is ALL NEW! How many times in your life have you had something all new...for the price of a pint of beer? I mean besides the pint of beer*.

You may be brilliant at it. You may have the gear already to make wonderful images in the special subject. Or you may be able to add a simple lens or accessory or lorry-load of gear to do it. You don't know yet.

Go. Go into that lecture with a cheery heart and a cup of hotel coffee and a biscuit and enjoy yourself.

3.The trade tables. The staff are there to help you entice yourself into purchasing new equipment - you might not do it on the day, but you can if you want to - there will be show specials, after all - there always are. But you can have a feel, play, shoot, think, and talk all day if you've a mind to.

Wise photographers with a specific want will be bringing their cameras down with them to try out the new lenses and accessories. Oddly enough, some very wise photographers will be doing a variation of that - they will be bringing their lenses with them to try out new bodies.

Note: If you think to do this, do the right thing and clean your lens thoroughly, front and back, before you ask to try it on a shop body. People forget that the lens mounts and back elements of their lenses may contain a great deal of dust...

And if you are really set to be analytical, you can bring some cards with you to format in the shop bodies, and then take home images that you can peer into on your home computer. Be aware that new cameras frequently have new RAW data protocols and your image-editing software may or may not be able to open the files. if you are in doubt, look it up on the net before the day and possibly update your firmware. In any case JPEGs open nearly every where and if the camera you are interested in pumps out a DNG you're fine anyway.

If you go away with new information on an old interest, or new information on a new interest, or definite information on a new purchase - you will have had a fine Sunday.

Note to Seniors: If you have a Seniors card you get free bus and train travel into the city on Sunday the 24th of July and you can spend the savings on a lecture ticket!

* Few people want pints of beer when they are used...

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Photo Live Expo 2016 - The Trade Tables

The good thing about trade tables at the Photo Live 2016 Expo is that we get to trade - you trade your time and money for our time and expertise. It is a mutual benefit.

The staff of Camera Electronic man and woman the tables with their own knowledge of the equipment on show, and can help you to find the special parts of the cameras, lenses, and accessories that you want to see. We know the equipment. But what is more important - you know you.

Each visitor to a trade exhibition carries with them their own needs. Admit it or not, every photographer has some sort of primary interest and a wide-ranging event like Photo Live 2016 is an ideal place to indulge that interest. There will be equipment form a vast range of manufacturers on display, and visitors can be sure of finding something in their own division to play with.

I use the term play deliberately. You can look at the internet all you want, (and you can read this weblog column every working day, bless you...) but you can't really tell whether a piece of equipment is going to work for you until you actually feel it in your hands - until you look through the screen or viewfinder and make it work. You all have eyes and brains, but you need to exercise your hands and fingers as well.

This is where the shop staff come in. We can set you right as you explore the gear. We can prevent any misconceptions from sending you off on the wrong pathway. Sometimes we can even help you untangle your thoughts if you have been screwing your brain into a tizzy on internet forums. Now, we've got our own tizzies and misconceptions to deal with, but fortunately we don't all have the same ones at the same time so amongst the Camera Electronic workers there will be someone who sees clearly.

Don't be afraid to ask-we won't be afraid to tell. We won't be afraid to say we don't know, either, because sometimes we just don't - particularly if the question involves the arrival time of something you have just seen pop up on the internet. But we'll try to find an answer.

Note: Every staff member has a photo interest speciality. Ask Carlos about food. Ask Sam about bands. Ask Ricky about Sony cameras.

Ask me about Fujifilm and tabletop photography. Prepare to be dragged into the vortex...

Uncle Dick

Photo Live Expo on Sunday 24th July
10am - 5pm
Perth Novotel Langley

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Photo Live Expo 2016 - The Endless Summer

If you know what The Endless Summer is,  you are qualified to attend the Photo Talk by Russell Ord on Surf, Beach & Lifestyle Photography. It'll be held at 2:00 a the Novotel Perth Langley hotel as part of the Photo Live Expo 2016.

Surfers are tough people and surfing shots are tough to get right - we all try them but you need experience and planning to succeed. Come hear how Russell has done just that for the last 15 years with this fascinating subject.

Western Australians have a particularly good resource for this sort of photography...and they have the glorious freedom to pursue the sport nearly everywhere. Not the middle of the wheatbelt at seeding time, mind, but in the places where the rocks end and the water starts. Russell can make it abundantly clear from the images he shows that the old standard of sitting on the rocks and looking west and wiping sand out of the filter has long been surpassed - now you can get right out there and hurt along with the surfers.

Of course the gear to get hurt with has changed over the ages - the boards have evolved from wooden things the size of the NIMITZ to extremely small organic plastic shapes hat an just barely drown you. The photo gear as well is leaping ahead - the old 16mm camera with the Switar lens is now the action cam or the DSLR with the stunning tele-zoom. Camera Electronic can supply them all so when Russell has fired you up with enthusiasm, come out to the trade tables and see how much trouble you can get yourself into.

And for the folks who saw The Endless Summer when it was brand new...there will be priority seats down the front so you can hear the speaker.

Tickets $11 for pre-booking, or $16 on the day (unless sold out prior)

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Being An Upright Photographer

Last year I had a chance to see an exhibition of photographs prints that had been taken in and around the City of Perth. We might not necessarily think of our town as an exotic place for photos...but the vision of the photographers was acute enough to find dozens of unique and memorable sights. Some of these were historical but a complete mystery to me - I'm glad there were captions.

One point of amazement was how many of Perth's buildings are built with walls that slope inwards from the bottom. I think that the designers must have been trained on Mayan ziggurats...or maybe they just ran out of materials as they went higher and had to make the buildings narrower.

Of course, it may have been to counteract the forces of nature, as I noted in about 20% of the entries that the horizon sloped down from right to left or vice versa. Perhaps the buildings were only reacting to the shifting gravity. Amazing how well the ocean stayed on some prints, when it should have dripped off to the side...

Well, snide comments aside, it did point out the basic optical fact that when you point your camera up or down get in all of the top or bottom of a building, the structure will seem to taper away from you. Your eye sees it as well, but when your brain processes the information it lies to you and tells you the building walls are straight up and down, because it knows they probably are. The camera is a much more literal observer.

Pro shooters have known for years that they need to keep the camera level get the building walls vertical. Even if it is just the back of the camera, it has to be straight up and down to avoid distortion of the image. This means that the person taking the picture has to be far enough away or use a wide enough angle on the lens to get the part of the building they want on the sensor...and in some cases it means that they have to half-way up a building nearby their target to satisfy all the criteria.

Old timers like me who used view and field cameras with rising and falling fronts and lenses with a large coverage could sometimes fiddle this to perfection from ground level . Modern digital shooters with tilt/shift lenses (Nikon, Canon, Samyang) can also do it.

If pressed to it we can also go into many of the digital editing programs like Photoshop and Photoshop Elements and pick a portion of the filters that will correct this distortion. It is amazing to see how far a bad situation can be recovered, though not getting that far away from the correct shooting makes the repair a lot easier.

At this point I will admit that there are any number of photographs that have wildly converging verticals and have benefited from the look - they have been made with a deliberate use of the forced perspective to make an artistic statement. It is only the ones that have tried to be realistic and failed that we address with the special lenses or programs.

As for the tilting horizon? Well, Cullmann, Manfrotto, and Promaster all make extremely neat little bubble levels that will allow you yo shoot with the camera level to the horizon. Lots of camera s have artificial horizon indicators built into the EVF or LCD display. If you use them they work.

If your image passes through a computer between your camera and the printer...then take the time to correct that horizon in the editing program. Even if you have to measure the screen with a wooden school ruler you can still make your vision conform to the way gravity actually works.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Bargain Harman For the Prudent Printer

Normally when I receive goods into my studio for illustration I finish taking the pictures and then carefully repackage them for return to the shop. In the case of this box of Harman Crystaljet Lustre RC paper I might just pay them for it and keep it for the production room. It is that good.

I have used a number of Harman papers before - including a box of this type some time ago-and I am impressed with the way the surface takes the ink and with the fidelity that it has to my screen.

I know the colour management and printing experts scoff at this and say that I should be able to minutely adjust the computer, screen, printer, paper, and ink with scientific formulae and careful measurements so that I could get an award-winning panorama on toilet paper. I must put in the hard yards - when the going gets tough the tough get going - and a calibration in time saves nine. Rah rah. I just want to poke a piece of paper in the Epson R3000 and get a good print in one pass. The Harman will let me do this.

I am at a but of a loss to know quite why one paper is a smooth pearl and another a lustre. And another a semi-gloss. They all break up the light a little and they are all pretty forgiving of most of the types of image that you may put on them. If you can't afford to keep racks of paper choices, get one of these and make it do.

The good thing about the harman is the price - under $50 for 100 sheets of A4. If you addicted to test prints and go through a great many evocations before you finally accept her result, this means you get about 40% more shots than with comparable papers from other sources. If, like me, you are sneaky and do your test prints on an A4 by quartering it and passing it through the machine 4 times:

You can go even further. That's Dr. Sun as a statue in Singapore.

But you have to candidly admit that the process of colour printing with the inkjet is nowhere near as arbitrary or confusing as the CYM subtractive printing of the RA 4 chemical era. If you could manage that, you can print on an inkjet with one eye closed and the other reading a novel.

Harman Crystaljet in store right now.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Photo Live Expo 2016 - Cats And Dogs And Alex

Someone reading this column somewhere has a bag at home full of venomous snakes, hungry crocodiles, and angry grizzly bears. And they want a pet portrait done. This is the daily nightmare for Alex Cearns of Houndstooth Studio who must experience a nervous tremor every time the studio phone rings.

Be kind to her. Give her a Sunday off when she can come and talk about the photography she loves to do to an appreciative audience. Come and buy a ticket for her Photo Talk at the Photo Live Expo 2016 on the 24th of July.

It will be at the Novotel Perth Langley Hotel between 10:00 and 5:00 and you would be best to go to the Photo Live website to book ahead for a ticket - it'll be cheaper than trying to buy one on the day and you'll be sure of a seat.

Alex is an award-winning shooter of a subjects that either melt your heart or fasten their teeth into your thumb. If anyone in Perth knows how to take pictures of fur, fins, scales, or feathers while they are still in the possession of their original owners, it is her. Her studio is a howling success (see what I did there?) and even the advertising pictures on the outside of the premises are fun to look at.
So she is a fun person to listen to.

If your own ambitions in the pet photography line run to a little less terror, you will get some invaluable tips on animal behaviour and the best way to capture the spirit of the pet.  This form of photography is an extremely rewarding one in emotional terms as the connection between the subjects of the pictures and their human friends can be extremely close.

Also, some animals are just camera hogs...and they don't even have to be hogs to do it.

Early bird tickets $11, on the day $16 (unless sold out).
Buy tickets here

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Sticking Together Through Thick And Thin - The Photo Glue Saga

One of the first important responsibilities we encountered as children in kindergarten was the glue pot.

No matter whether you found it in Europe, Britain, Canada, or Australia, it was the same thing - a big glass jar filled with something gelatinous and stoppered with a lid that never fit. Frequently there was a brush thrust through the lid. It was sticky on the inside and sticky on the inside and exuded an odour of strange chemistry.

We all tried to eat it at some stage of the game.  Wise schools invested in non-poisonous types...

As photographers we have also dabbled in glues - from the clear mucilages in bottles that we stuck pictures into albums with through various specialist formulae in tubes and then on to spray cans for bigger prints. Some stuck, some didn't - some ruined the photos and some left them untouched  - it really was a by-guess-and-by-gosh situation for amateur shooters.

Professionals had their hot presses and sheets of varnish tissue that they could use to mount large prints to matte boards. These were reliable if served with good materials and a degree of skill, but could ruin a print in 30 seconds if you got any grit trapped on the platen. Plus they were hot - and big - and expensive. And the materials to mount with them also cost a fair bit.

Which brings us to the subject of the post - the Hahnemuhle Archival glue in a 4 oz. bottle. The stuff is more than just a Bunnings bottle - it is pH neutral and will not come boiling out of the frame to wipe your work off the canvas or paper. Unfortunately you cannot say that about many other products - slather them on and watch in horror over the years as they let go and everything falls apart or start to turn all sorts of colours and shapes.

 As a model diorama builder I am keenly aware of the different reactions that glue and adhesives undergo when they are being used on different materials. I have watched careful work disappear under chemicals exuded by cyano-acrylates  years after assembly. The awful part about this is that the parts may be welded for eternity with the contamination locked inside the structure - short of sawing it apart you can't get in to clean up.

A side issue was the discovery of the effect of humidity and the expansion and contraction under  print display conditions.  This robbed one of my exhibitions of all dignity a few years ago as matted prints twisted themselves into Dorito shapes and fell off the frames that were displaying them. Subsequent years saw different glues and tapes tried , and in the end the best mounting turned out to be pinning unmounted prints to a hanging muslin backdrop.

Any rate, come into the shop and browse in the Hahnemuhle section. You'll find Gallerie Wrap canvas kits and frames as well as the 4 oz. glue and Hahnemuhle mounting spray. It's the spray glue of choice for a number of professional client and they go through a good deal of it.

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Macro Secret - And Everyone Can Afford One

A quick whirl through the internet with the word "macro" in the search will turn up a bewildering variety of equipment and advice. There is science, art, alchemy, and obfuscation in about equal measures. And yet it can all be so simple.

In my weekly review of the warehouse I lit upon a number of Olympus Stylus cameras that were stacked on a shelf. I think they might be trade demo models. They are certainly inexpensive... pocket money cameras. As a speculation, I added one to the studio illustration list and took it away. Charged up the battery and tried it in the studio.

Good Grief, Charlie Brown! This is amazing!

As a little pocket camera it has been designed with a lot of automatic features - it will play between program and auto modes as well as a number of special effect programs. You'll get no hot shoe or viewfinder, but the screen is large enough to see clearly, and there is a tiny little pop-up flash that you can use to trigger other flashes or to provide a macro fill.

You can choose your aperture, thankfully, and this makes the most of the close-up experience. I elected to set the WB to tungsten to match the modelling lights on the studio strobes and let it go at that. And then I played with the special effects. Hey, I'm not above playing - anyone with a studio full of toy cars has a perfect excuse...

The basic shooting is very simple. Point. Hold steady. Shoot.

The results are excellent. The short focal length of the zoom lens means the depth of field is maximised, and the resolution at 16 megapixels is more than enough for subjects with this much illumination. Note the ease with which I got into the dashboard of the Mercedes model.

Some of the effects like the tiled image or the fisheye would quickly become clichéd but the pinhole and the dramatic have a wider application. As they are in-camera you can see at the time of capture whether they actually do work. I did not try soft focus or miniature because it is a miniature to start with.

Note as well the results on a couple of flowers - one of which is very miniature indeed.

At the pocket money price of these cameras, you can afford to dedicate one to your wildflower or closeup shooting and leave the big rig for other things. Your camera club won't even need to know how you beat them!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Photo Live Expo 2016 - The Flight Of The Drones

Love 'em, hate 'em, or sell 'em, the subject of the drones and aerial photography in general cannot be ignored in today's imaging world. Anyone who has seen television or the cinema recently has seen the work of the photo drone and some photographers have become inspired by them.

The Speaker Session between 11:30 and 12:00 at the Photo Live Expo 2016 will be on the subject of drones and aerial photography by Christopher Fulham - who is eminently qualified to speak about it - He is a licensed CASA  UAV pilot. UAV is the fancy name for drones - he can legally fly  in the 7-20 Kg class.

A great deal of confusion surrounds these useful tools - we hear no end of rumours and mate's talk at the pub about the legalities and complexities of the UAV. It's not helped by the fact that there are political and military questions too...and people in pubs always know this is a good chance to hear Christopher debunk some of the myths and show some of the real capabilities of the aircraft.

It's a rapidly changing field of photography - and you can be sure that there are a number of new products and ideas each month that will be added as it evolves. For those inspired by Christopher's talk and the sight of some of the images that he makes, it is a good idea to get into the habit of consulting Camera Electronic regularly.We have various models of the popular DJI line of vehicles together with the light but sturdy accessories that help them fly...and the equally light and sturdy action cameras to capture the footage.

Of course, if your ambitions range further, with heavier payloads , we can also supply DSLR and mirror-less cameras and lenses too. We stop short of Hellfire missiles or 30mm chain guns, however, which is a keen source of disappointment to at least one member of staff...

Book your tickets to the Drone and Aerial Photography session at Photo Live Expo 2106 

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Don't Swat the Spyder - He's Your Best Studio Friend

Your normal reaction to a large Spyder may be to reach for a swim fin or flame thrower, but we would like to break you of the habit. Not only will you be a better friend of the environment, but you'll get better pictures as well. Miss Muffett - invite the Spyder Cube to sit down beside you.

The grey card is one of the most useful of devices to judge accurate exposure with. No matter how much confidence we have in the software of our camera, there are times when it can be fooled and we need to be able to correct its errors. If we use a grey card we can find the 18% reflectance point that gives our meter the best chance of an even exposure.

If we also have access to a pure black tone and a pure white tone in our image we can tell our computer exactly how far to go for the image that it alters.

Finally, for the ultimate of contrast control, we look for the ultimate specular highlight and absolute shadow. But frequently in the subjects that we encounter none of these attributes are to be found. We find ourselves basing our decisions in the studio, field, and computer room on uncertain things and sometimes can never seem to get a pure photo, no matter what slider we shift.

Enter the Spyder Cube. It has 6 working faces as well as a specular highlight collector and and a absolute shadow point . You can dangle it near to your main subject or screw it onto a tripod so that your camera sees it in the same light. One or tow test shots to the grey and you've got the basic exposure, and when you get the test shots back onto your computer screen you will have the whole range of tones there to adjust to; specular, white, 18% grey, black, and absolute black.

Here's the key to what you see:

A. As bright as it will ever get. Pure white from the strobe tube.

B. The 18% grey.

C. The white that you have to deal with in the lighting situation you are in.

D. The black you have to deal with with the lighting as it is.

E. As black as you can ever get it.

If you follow the entire sequence through to your printer - and then make sure that you examine the output from the printer in a strong, even light - you can produce full tones without skewing the contrast one way or the other. Some workers will go further and specify colour temperatures for viewing and time to let any drying effects of the ink settle down, but in general you can make a much more accurate assessment that you could back in the days of a wet silver print. Dry-down seemed to rob us of so much brilliance then unless we took extraordinary measures with ferrotype tins and glazing solutions.

The Spyder Cube is small enough to pack for the field and fast enough to deploy in any studio shoot - and cheap as chips compared to frustration time spent whacking sliders back and forth!

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Photo Live Expo 2016 - Wedding Bells Are Ringing

So who doesn't love a wedding? The spiritual experience - the colour - the romance and spectacle - the family connections - the buffet table...

I'll tell you who doesn't love it - the photographer who has been asked to shoot the occasion and hasn't figured out how to do it. Short of skydiving with an anvil, there are few more daunting prospects.

Well, help is at hand. Hie on over to the Photo Live Expo 2016 section of the Camera Electronic website and book yourself in for the talk about wedding photography by Kirsten Graham of Compose Photography. It's part of the Speakers Series. You can get a pre-book ticket for $ 11 as versus $16 on the day... and remember that if all the tickets sell out, you miss out.

Many photographers who are comfortable with other subjects and occasions freeze or panic when asked to take pictures at a wedding. They can be overwhelmed by the idea, by the unaccustomed environment, and by what they see as the responsibility. Kirsten can help by explaining some of the ways that professionals get through this. Remember it is better hearing this from someone who does it very, very well then trying to read it out of a book - or even off a weblog column...

Note for the timid re. responsibility. If you are taking pictures at a wedding you are not responsible for the ritual of the ceremony, the legal aspects, the catering, the flowers, the flower girls, the crazy uncle, or the wedding speeches. You are not responsible for the success of the day or the success of the marriage.

You are just responsible for showing what it looked like. And you can do that with focus, shutter speed, and aperture.

Keep some spare batteries and cards and a long sharp stick to poke the bridegroom awake in case it is a long ceremony.

PS: Kirsten may have better ideas - go along and hear her. You can buy tickets here. Remember that the writer of this weblog column has a secondary job as crazy uncle at weddings and may be biased...

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