Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Manuel Exposure For Motor Sport - Part Two

Pardon the pun - the professional photographer who delivered the Canon Australia Motor sport workshop is named Manuel Goria. He is a world traveller and a world worker in the business of illustration of motor sport - Formula One all over the place as well as other types of racing. That's him in the heading image before the heat started, pointing the way to the track.*

It is hard to report the entire lecture that Manuel gave in one web post - there were so many good practical points that he covered. Rather than cop out, I will take several days. Let's start with the equipment recommendations:

Not surprisingly, he recommended Canon. He uses the brand's large professional 1Dx cameras - several of them - and keeps long lenses on them. The Canon professional optics are second to none for this sort of precision and the agencies and editors who are concerned with his work are not going to be satisfied with sub-standard images. This is also tied in with the rapid autofocus response and shoot time available with the Canon professional bodies - Manuel frankly admits that there are some situations that are made for burst-shooting.

It might be funny to observe rivalries between major manufacturers that start arguments between user groups and enthusiasts - but it is no fun if your income and reputation depend upon the reliability of the goods. Canon gear works for Manuel, and he is prepared to say that it will work for the rest of us. Another philosophy - that of doing what you can with what you have, where you are - is also valid, but it may not get your images over the desk of a top-quality publication. Each of us must decide for ourselves.

But to today's points - Manuel sez:

a. For him, the most important focus point in a photo is the helmet of the driver. People look for people in pictures. ( That's not one of Manuel's shots - it's Jane Fangio in the Shuco Ferrari...)

b. For most occasions, a high shutter speed is best.

c. He must decide where the car is to be placed in the picture - it is generally the star attraction of the image. He uses a single AF focus point and moves it around frequently to allow it to place the exact focus.

d. Preconception of the picture is by far the best way to success - the backdrop will influence what people see in the car, so Manuel chooses the focal length of the lens to assist in the background rendering. It's not hit or miss.

e. Sharpness in a photo is essential to interest an editor and deliver the impact that a publication needs. There are many factors that influence it - positively and negatively.

On the plus side is the performance of a good Canon lens . But he must make sure that the exposure of the image does not blow out areas of highlights. When they are gone, the sharpness of the picture and the interest of the editor is gone as well. So he will deliberately underexpose each image and recollect the overall light levels in post-processing.

f. To get a consistent result through to the Lightroom program, Manuel will shoot most of his images with manual exposure of both aperture and shutter speed...and will also not allow the camera to take over with automatic ISO control. He aims to have the same levels in everything so that an overall master correction in Lightroom can be batched through the lot. It is a matter of time for him as he does not have the week's grace that an amateur may possess before results have to put forward. Professionals are under pressure - remember that when you envy them.

And having said that, please remember the professionalism of the other people that you see here in today's column:

a. Sheryl from Canon Australia who organises all the events for Canon in WA and Saul who organises events for Camera Electronics. By and large, when they are on the job, things work out pretty well as planned. They provided lunch, which is a good way of ensuring my affection.

b. Ernest, Beth, and the rest of the Camera Electronic staff who scurry about and do the work. Ernest is further distinguished by knowing how to fix things. This picture is of him doing his famous line from  ' Crocodile Cesar '..." That's not a lens - now THIS is a lens...".

So...tomorrow you learn how to see motor pictures that sell pictures to clients.

* to be fair, when the noise started, we knew where to look...

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Heat, Cars, And Canon Cameras - Part One

Way back in 2014 Canon Australia and Camera Electronic hosted a workshop day at Barbagallo raceway to show enthusiasts how to take motor sport photographs. I attended and it was the noisiest day of my life apart from the battle of Waterloo. Well last Saturday they did it again, but this time with even bigger motors - this time it was not motorcycles, but full-sized Porsche sports cars.

It's not just a case of standing out there going deaf - the core of the day was comprised of a very professional presentation by a person who is a motor sport photographer. The target audience were enthusiasts who love race cars and who have an interest in the Canon brand...though there was no hard and fast rule that restricted attendance on the brand basis. There were, however some very trenchant points that could be made to tie the Canon brand to this form of photography - the speaker made them honestly, and showed images to back them up.

To set the scene, Barbagallo Raceway in Wanneroo is a large sporting complex with a twisting up-and-down race track set over it. The buildings that service this race track - car pits, tyre stores, mechanic's workshops, and catering facilities are pretty good, if a trifle basic. In any case they are far and away better than those provided by the old Caversham raceway. There is the basic problem, however, that the physical location and layout of the place makes it a bit of a journey to get to. It's out at the end of a pokey little road that only allows one way access. This is being corrected, as I see  major works on the road, but it is still in Wanneroo...and I am still in Bull Creek. If you live in Wanneroo, disregard my grumbling.

It was also hot as a griddle out there. The old Caversham raceway had more trees and was marginally cooler, if cruder. It is a trade off, and perhaps I should not even complain, as the Camera Electronic and Canon Australia always book out the air conditioned facility at McCracken house for these deals...and provide a good lunch. Hey, at least I have not had to spear a Tiger Snake to get back to the car at Barbagallo like I did at Caversham. And the Caversham hot dog of 1964 has been replaced with one that contains meat...

Okay, the day on the track was given over to a Porsche Owners Club. It reminded me of either a clinical conference or a minyan, but then I am a cynic at heart. The cars were gorgeous and of more variety that I expected - there was even a bathtub racer from the 50's or 60's out there, though I noted at the lunch interval that it drove off with more smoke coming out of the exhausts than it started with. Perhaps raced not wisely, but too well...

Never mind - the club required the drivers to walk over the course before they would let them drive it - a sensible way of approaching high speed driving. Then they sent them out in a big old slow snake of cars to suss out the way the thing feels. Then they released the cars in batches of 5 or 6 to build up speed and confidence. In the end - at the 2:00 o'clock mark - there were some who were circulating at quite respectable speeds indeed. They were noisy enough to disturb the photo analysis session that the lecturer conducted - but it still went ahead. And you'll find out more about that tomorrow!

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Friday, January 27, 2017

The Silent Sales Assistant

I went into our new Murray Street store* one week and stole one of the Olympus Pen F pamphlets from the rack...

Well, it wasn't considered stealing. The brochures were right there, and anyone - you included - could go in there and pick one up and take it away. Camera Electronic and Olympus Imaging would be delighted if you would. Because they would like to hire you as a salesperson.

The hours of work? 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

The pay? No pay...in fact you pay THEM a little over two thousand dollars for the privilege of doing the work.

The working conditions? You work everywhere - in your loungeroom, at the dinner table, on the can....you may be called upon to sit up late at night in bed as your partner tries to sleep, selling Olympus cameras. You are expected to be relentless, and if we know you...you will be.

The reason? You have an actual printed camera book in your hand. You, as a potential buyer of the superb Olympus Pen F camera and lenses, are going to sell it to yourself.


You are going to return again and again to that printed book. You'll look at the pictures taken in Melbourne and even though they are of the monstrously ugly Federation Square buildings, the fact that they are taken in Australia with the Pen F will tell you that YOU could do the same. This is a technology that you can work with.

There is the technical information. There are the fashion-design accessories. And there are the lenses...and you cannot pass the lens page without thinking which of them would be best for you...there is one of those lenses that is EXACTLY right for you and your vision...if only you can find it...Do not despair - even if you have to buy three lenses before you find your optical soul-mate, you will have two spare views of the world that will make your life better, And who knows what your vision will evolve into when you use those other two lenses...

 Okay, here's the bottom line. Olympus Imaging has elected to make an expensive advertising brochure. Some other camera makers have decided not to do this anymore - they've decided to save a Yen by putting everything they advertise on-line. They've fallen for the vision of a net world.

But there you are, still reading that Olympus Pen F brochure at 11:30 at night in bed...and you are going to come into Camera Elecronic and spend the money to get the camera and a lens. Because you have sold it to you. You have got a yen for an Olympus...

* Good news. You have sold yourself an extremely good camera. Your judgement is sound. Now go out and go mad, as one of my old work colleagues used to say. You will succeed.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Giant Economy Size

We sell lots of things in Camera Electronic that are intended to be small; Olympus cameras, Gitzo traveller's tripods, Metz LED lights. But we also sometimes lash out and get the Giant Economy Size. Case in point: The Premier Eco Print Shield cans.

These are a liquid coating for your inkjet paper and canvas prints that will stop the UV rays from messing with the colours - they also stop airborne pollutants and moisture from ruining the surface of the print. This may not seem important if all your pictures are on your iPhone or 6 x 4 postcards in a shoe box...but the big boys and girls who print out on large format printers and frame their exhibition work know different.

Now the statement that something stops UV damage completely is a difficult one to make - particularly in Western Australia where we manufacture ultraviolet radiation for export. You have only to listen to the weather reports every day to realise that our WA UV index scale starts at " Extreme " and goes up from there. About the only complete UV protection for anything is to put it inside the turret of a Sherman tank and close the hatch...

But the Premier Eco Print Shield does help. It can make the difference for an interior display between a year's safety and 5 years. If you are selling your work, that is important...it gives you time to get away.

Two finishes in stock - Matte and Satin, and you can spread it with bush, roller, or spray gun. If you choose the last mode of delivery you will need a gun with a wide throat to get this solution out...and make sure that you clear and clean your gun between applications. This is thick stuff.

If your needs are more modest, there is also the Hahnemühle spray in aerosol cans - some pros rely on this exclusively.

Note to those people whose entire portfolio is on their iPhones, iPads, or the 8-year old computer that seems to be a little slower at booting up these days...Start to print out some of your best work. The thrill of seeing it in the hand and on the wall is reward enough for your trouble. And people will think of your output in more concrete terms when it is hanging off the concrete.

Plus...for those with the entire portfolio on the Fisher-Price My First Hard Drive...remember the old Bond's underwear ad slogan..." One day, you're gonna get caught..".

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Some Do And Some Don't

Some will and some won't. Some did and some didn't.

And you know, they all should have...

Here's a selection of photographers at the York Medieval Fayre. Some were dressed in period clothes and some were dressed in clothes that had no punctuation marks at all. It did not matter - what was interesting was the selection of cameras that they had chosen to use. The photos by no means show all the people on the ground with a camera, but they do form an interesting list.

If I counted myself, stalking them, I came up with:
1 Fujifilm
3 Nikons
2 Canons
3 Olympuses
1 Leica


any number of cell phones.

The percentages there do not concern me, though I must say that I was pleased to see the number of real cameras vs the number of telephones. What did attract my attention were the number of enthusiasts and professionals who were sensible and used lens hoods. There was enough sun to need them, and the results that people achieved would have been dependant in some instances on the simple little ring of metal or plastic.

At one time a lens hood was a fixed thing - or at least was screwed into the front of the lens with a fine little filter thred and people either left it on or left it off...but rarely paused in action to laboriously match the screw thread entry and gently screw it on. The hoods were cumbersome and, like as not, would be rolling around in the camera bag when needed instead of on the lens.

This changed when most of the camera makers machined bayonet fittings on the front rings of their lenses and provided lens hoods that could be reversed back onto the barrel of the lens when being transported. A quarter twist and a bump lock then mounted the hood. The action was easy - getting people to follow it was hard.

If they could see the difference it would make in combatting glaring sun, it would have been different - but people failed to look at the digital screen results carefully enough. It pointed out two things: either they needed to have a lenshood permanently mounted or they needed a Hoodman Hood Loupe to be able to make any real judgement of what they had just taken.

Those who saw me with the little Fujifilm X-T10 and the equally tiny 27mm f:2.8 lens may think that I am being a hypocrite - there was no lens hood on it. I am still looking for one that fits that 39mm filter thread - rest assured that if I can find one of the old folding rubber ones, it will stay on there permanently. As it is, I made do by adopting the old expedient of turning my back to the sun and shielding the little lens with my body. Not perfect, but the best at the time.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Long Lens Inside - The Saga Of The Fujifilm Continues

If you read most of the photographic press that deals with interchangeable lenses for DSLR and mirror-less cameras you'll see much the same recommendations about choices. It's not conspiracy - it's sensible agreement. Being photographers we are free to be neither sensible nor agreeable - and sometimes it pays off big-time.

The books all talk about long lenses being the sensible choice for motor sports, surfing, field sports, wildlife, and aircraft photography. I've not gone in for a great deal of these subjects, but when I have the advice was good. You need long focal lengths to bring in lions and Tiger Moths - you also need bright light. Anything less is going to be a failure.

Oh yes? Well what if you get an assignment to take pictures at a Halloween dance show in Fremantle -at the Fly By Night hall on High street. That's a picture from the mezzanine balcony at the head of the column. Great place to prop up during a performance as you are in no-one's way, but a long way from the stage...Note: The establishing shot is a Fujifilm 18mm f:2.

Enter the Camera Electronic Rental Department and the 100-400mm Fujinon zoom lens - the big boy in their lineup. Widest aperture is f: 4.5-5.6 but it has a dynamite optical stabilization circuit inside and an extremely smooth focus. The support shoe and rotating ring are also super-professional.

I bolted the lens onto a Manfrotto 234 monopod tilting head and in turn supported that with my Manfrotto carbon fibre monopod. Sitting on a chair up there in the gods at the Fly meant that I was stable and the lens was too. I could even grip the monopod with my knees if I needed to busy my hands elsewhere and the whole assembly stayed upright. I love tripods in the studio but am starting to love the manfrotto monopod more when I am out an about - so much less hassle but still great stability.

Okay, it's dark in there, and the stage lights are good but still not the same as sunlight. ISO up to 6400 on a Fujifilm E-X2 is as high as you want to go, but fortunately it was high enough to work. Really fast dancers blurred, but slower ones came in well. And the transition from landscape to portrait orientation couldn't have been smoother - I just kept the lock knob turned off and rotated at will all night long.

The job was a lot of fun - Halloween brings out the theatre in people and if they are good actors, singers, and dancers to start with it is all that much better under stage lighting.

Note: If you've got a job that needs long coverage think about talking to the Camera Electronic Rental Department. They've got faster lenses for other systems as well, or if you would like to try the latest and best from Fujifilm, ask to see the X-T2 with this lens. You could even add a teleconverter to push it out to 600mm.

Performers, Nina, Richell, and Jenier. Thank you for a great night, ladies.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Cocktail Hour Vs Happy Hour In The Camera Store

We are not going to suggest that the clients of Camera Electronic should come in to buy stuff in a sozzled condition - far from it. It has been done, mind, but it was not a pretty sight to see. And it is hard enough getting the sales staff down off the top of the cabinets with a hockey stick at the best of times.

But there is something to be said for the concept of the cocktail hour consultation. Pull up a shaker and I'll explain.

Cocktails are made from a mixture of things - liquors, essences, fruits, mixers, etc. They can be very complex or very simple - provided the ingredients are good, they nearly always succeed. Okay, the pickled herring martini was a general failure but we still sold some in Holland...The point is to get good stuff to start with and mix it judiciously.

And in the camera trade? Well, give some serious thought to mating camera bodies to lenses and flashes. Your tastes and needs may be entirely different than those of your neighbour, and just as you might like a martini and someone else might do better with a Manhattan, so your optic mix muight be different. Here's your ingredients:

Canon bodies
Nikon bodies.
Sony bodies.
Olympus bodies.
Panasonic bodies.
Sigma lenses.
Tokina lenses.
Samyang lenses.
Zeiss lenses.
Nissin flashes.
Metz flashes.

And note - I didn't even mention the fact that the body makers have a full line each of their own lenses that fit their bodies...

Also note that I didn't raise the question of Leica cameras and lenses, or ditto for Fujifilm.

Or the adapter drawer full of possibilities.

Ask your bartender...err...sales assistant for a taste recommendation and try out  a number of combinations. You need not be frightened to mix and match - there are any number of combinations that work well.

Oh, Happy Hour? When the drinks are half-price? Well think of the cash-back offer periods that the manufacturers institute as the closest thing to this. Wait if you wish, and you can score some good savings. Or sip your way with a new lens or two while you are waiting. We are prepared to put coasters down under the telephotos for you...

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Touched By Human Hands - The New Leica M10

We are not immune from the magic down here at Camera Electronic - we get just as much of a thrill with the unboxing of a fresh product as you, the customers, do. When the product is absolutely new,  is the latest offering from and industry leader,  and has just arrived by special delivery it is an especial moment.

Today the product was the new Leica M 10 camera body. The chap tasked with opening it and putting it on display was one of our chiefs - Saul Frank. And the occasion was literally less than a half hour after it had been delivered.

The specifications are on Leica's website. They are on our website. They are long and illustrious, but there are a few main points that we could tell just from looking at the camera:

a. It is slimmer than heretofore in the Leica M Digital range - about 3-4mm difference. The body shape is much more reminiscent of the M-series Leica 35mm film cameras.

b. There is an external ISO adjustment dial that has been positioned in the same place that used to hold a rewind crank. It is a locked dial - to free it for adjustment you pull it up against a detent. Note the red ring to tell you it is in the variable position. When you're done, snap it back down..

c. The battery is slimmer - says Saul.

d. The strap included in the kit is proper full leather. Leica logo impressed into it and all...

e. The LCD screen is way bigger than the previous M-series screens. The viewfinder eyepiece is larger.

f. Leica have continued the characteristic ID mark on one edge of the hot shoe.

The internal improvements in resolution and processing are all in the official spec. pages. Pore over them daily, but do make some time to come in and see the new body in the shop. The one that you see here is for display only for the next 3 months but more salable stock will be arriving next month.

You'd be wise to email or phone some money in now - $ 500 secures a pre-order against a body price of $ 9700. There will be others wanting it as well, so be snappy.

There will also be an after-hours Leica introduction party here at 230 Stirling Street on the 8th of February - a Wednesday evening from 6:00 to 8:00. Go to our Facebook page and look it up, or if you are on our regular email list, be sure to check it over for details.

Note: Saul's hands were clean and careful. The Leica M10 is in perfect shape. And it is a perfect shape.

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The Paper Shuffle - Part Five - The Oriental Connection

Are we allowed to use the word ' oriental ' any more? Probably not, if someone somewhere wants to make a fuss. But they are probably busy right now writing savage political memes for Facebook so I'll just go ahead and use it.

The object under scrutiny is a packet of twenty sample papers from the Awagami Factory in Tokushima, on the island of Shikoku in Japan. About as oriental as you get...

The papers in this packet are referred to as washi - a style of paper making. It would appear that there are a number of trees and bushes, as well as rice, wheat, bamboo, or hemp, that can be called upon to contribute fibres to the process. This is reflected in the wild number of choices in this packet - choices that I am assuming can be duplicated when you order a specific paper in a specific size from the shop.

I noted at both Stirling Street and Murray Street that there are stocks in hand of those larger sizes.

Okay, some of these are things that might look like papers from western manufacturers - but some are  exotically eastern. You must decide whether your images are such as will be enhanced by the textures. The sample packet gives you a chance to see, but it is one chance per surface - there are 20 sheets there. Fortunately they are identified with an indexed sticker on the back of each sheet to let you know what you are handling and which side to print on.

The unfortunate part of this is that you may have to download some exotic profiles, and you may have to exercise your imagination whilst doing so. Presumably you cannot actually break your computer or printer while doing this...

So here is the list. Be patient. There are 20 sheets in there. I'll not comment on each one - just look at what their surface is doing and make up your own mind.

Here are a few clues to help you decode the names of the papers. 

Unryu: The IJNS UNRYU was a Japanese aircraft carrier that was torpedoed by USS REDFISH.  

Kozo: Tissue paper.

Inbe:  A clan in Japan. Like a clan in Scotland but fewer beards and skirts.

Mitsumata:  An unattended Japanese railway station.

Bizan:  A mountain near Tokushima.

Bamboo:  Self explanatory.

Bamgoo:  Like bamboo but stickier.

The Awagami Factory people point out on the back of the packet that these are papers made with natural materials and the result you get may be affected by this.

Do come to one of our stores and buy a sample packet of these papers and go home and try them. The thin ones will let the image through to the other side of the paper and the thick ones will impose their own patterns on your image, but somewhere in between there must be art. We can only benefit from your experiences, so bring the results back and show us.

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