Monday, 5 December 2011

Let There Be Light

I bought a light tent on eBay, a 50cm x 50cm model for $23 including delivery. There are plenty of light tents for sale on eBay ranging from around $15 for a 30cm x 30cm size up to over 80cm so the one I got is around the middle size.

It is just the job for photographing small objects and allows you to shoot without unwanted reflections and also enables you to get more even lighting.

The light tent, four base pieces and instructions (help with folding it up), comes packed into a small bag.

Once unfolded, the light tent has a removable front with a slot that you can shoot through and it comes with 4 different coloured pieces to rest your work on, these being white, black, blue and red. These are held in place by Velcro and you can put something under the pieces to raise your subject.

I found shooting for most work, removing the front piece and shooting with a diffused bounce flash worked well. Add a slave flash to one side to minimise shadows or position it at the back when shooting through the white base to help eliminate shadows and creases.

For the very modest sum, this beats mucking around with cardboard boxes, fabric and tape.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

I normally do sunrises

I went out last night to Tamarama to do some evening photography of Sculpture By The Sea. It didn’t start out that well as someone nicked my parking space as I did a u-turn to claim it then it started raining as soon as I met up with my shooting companion.

The light was fading fast and the rain let up so I started photographing some strange alien looking creatures in Mackenzies Bay. Good stuff. I look down into the water of the bay and it has turned blood red like some killing field. I look up into the sky and here you find the result. Taken with a Nikon D90 and Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom.

I don’t do sunsets often but I am pleased with this one. The great light only lasted about 2 minutes and I was very lucky to get a shot.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Old-time landscapes in the digital age

I have always liked the old glass-plate photos from the late 1800s and early 1900s. I have tried to create that look here. The weather has been less than ideal for photography so I had to try something different.

This scene is of Mimosa Rocks. Taken with an Olympus E-P3 and 12mm f/2 lens. I have used a HiTech 10-stopper to extend the exposure to 6 seconds and of course given it a black and white treatment. I think I have captured the feel of the old photos.

Oh, something the photographers of old may have not been able to do - the shot is actually a 4-frame panorama taken in portrait mode.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Mini-review of the HiTech Pro 10-stop filter

A moderately affordable 10-stop ND-filter, the new HiTech Pro 10-stopper doesn't have a magenta cast like the old high-stop HiTech filters but under certain lighting a slight green cast (similar to the Lee filters) that is very easy to correct. The filter has a gasket that stops light leaking around and reflecting off the back of the filter or causing a reflection of lens lettering. It is very effective.

As a 4" filter, it comes with a choice of two different gasket fittings for Lee filter holders and HiTech filter holders. One drawback of the gasket is that it is stuck on to one side of the filter making it a little more difficult to clean. I trick I learnt recently to clean filters is to rinse them in luke-warm water and then blot off the excess water until dry. It is rare that this does not remove any marks. The gasket does extend the drying time a little but doesn't seem to retain water.

In this example, there is a little bit of vignetting caused by using an ultra-wide lens and filter. The outer corners of the image have light coming through at around 45 degrees which causes the darkening. This is typical of ND filters on ultrawides.

All up, a great value filter that works well.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Olympus Pen E-P3 - my new toy

Last Thursday I went to an Olympus launch night at Foto Riesel primarily to play with the Olympus E-P3 and E-PL3 plus the new 12mm f/2 and 45mm f/1.8 lenses. The folding LCD of the E-PL3 interested me as I do a lot of tripod work and have always found this type of arrangement ideal for macro work and over-head shots in crowded areas.

After playing with both cameras, I came away mighty impressed with the E-P3 which has addressed most of the issues I had with the original E-P1, namely the difficult manual focus, lack of a dedicated zoom LCD button and AF button (although the latter can be configured to one of the others). The AF speed is also greatly enhanced and the addition of a low-light AF assist works wonders. The repositioning of the on/off switch is much improved but would have been better as a rotating ring around the shutter button common on many cameras.

I was so impressed that I bought the E-P3 and the kit zoom on the night. The following photos was taken with the E-P3 and my Voigtlander 25mm f/0.95 lens and was taken pre-dawn in reasonably foggy conditions. It was a "warm" 1 degrees that morning.

I did struggle a little with the processing having to use Olympus Viewer 2 to do the RAW conversion and I know I will be able to get a better result when Adobe comes good with support in Adobe Camera RAW. Cannot wait.

I have to say that what was once a slightly difficult lens to get focused is now brilliant. The extra resolution of the LCD combined with its great brightness and dedicated LCD zoom - well just sweet. It is nice to be able to see an image on an LCD with next to no light.

Now I did mention the E-PL3 - I went away unimpressed by that camera. I found the menus less useful and missed the extra direct controls. Yes, I would have loved a fold out LCD but the E-P3 does a better job of the compromise and feels a much nicer camera to hold. I think the E-PL3 would be fine if you do mostly auto shooting but I do mostly manual shooting.

About the only area where the E-P3 takes a tiny step backward is with ISO. The high ISO and low light ISO performance is definitely better but why did they drop ISO100. I use that for long exposure shots at dawn and also for studio portrait work under studio lights otherwise I have to stop down more than I want to. I guess I will be using 1 and 2 stop NDs more often.
As well as the cameras I played with the new Olympus lenses. Wow - the 12mm f/2 and its mechanical manual focus ring is superb as is the quality metal construction. It isn't available until the end of August in Australia but I have placed my order. It won't be cheap but I have paid more for lenses.

The 45mm f/1.8 is a fairly standard bit of kit and less than half the price of the 12mm. It seems good value for the money and I will probably get one eventually when I have a bit more portrait stuff to do but somehow I just didn't get excited about it.

In a nutshell, the E-P3 is a lovely camera and a great update on my E-P1. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

I almost always shoot!

A friend of mine, recently published a piece in his blog titled “To Shoot or Not to Shoot”. Now the person who posted the blog item is a good friend of mine and we have been on quite a number of seascape shoots over the last couple of years. His work was one of the major influences on me to get back into photography. The blog item concerns whether, when you get out to a location site, and the conditions are not what you expected, do you shoot or not. For my friend, the answer is “no”, not if the conditions are not to your liking.

My philosophy is quite different. I too want the perfect combination of light and weather etc, but I come from it at a different angle. My motivation is to make the best of the conditions that I possibly can and try and come up with something I like, as will others, in the conditions what ever they are. I will almost always shoot. There are very few occasions where I have not come up with something worthwhile. I cannot control nature but I can control what I make of it.

This is what I came up with in conditions that were deemed to be less than perfect.

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Magic Morning at Little Cove (south of Little Bay, Sydney)

I am quite happy with the result and my philosophy suits me well. I expect that there are others that will always be a better photographer than me, but I think I may enjoy my photography more.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Someone likes my photo

Recently someone asked me if they could include one of my photos on their jogging blog site. I agreed as I am not the most active person in the world and I was quite pleased with this opportunistic shot...

Sydney, Australia (Coastal Walk between Bo...: "Sydney, Australia (Coastal Walk between Bondi and Tamarama) Peter Buggy All rights reserved by Peter Buggy"

Friday, 1 July 2011

Starting a New Blog

I seem to get into the habit of starting blogs or websites and never finishing them. Maybe things will change with this one.

A little bit about me and this blog...

My interest is photography and it is what I do in my spare time. For the time that isn’t spare, I earn a living to support my photographic addiction.

I recently started investigating lighting and working with models and want to further my skills. I don’t intend making a living out of photography but I want to create great photos of interesting people. My interests are working with people in a landscape environment, interesting and quirky lighting, available light (or simulated available light) indoors and out, black and white with a leaning towards a film noir type look. Oh, and landscape and photography of the built environment. I have previously been concentrating on seascapes. 

Coledale a1

Coledale Pool - 6 Feb 2011, Nikon D90 and Nikkor 10-24mm zoom

When it comes to photographing people (my latest interest), I am most interested in emotion, atmosphere and the human form. Catching the person within, rather than the pose.

Lucy 11

Lucy - 21 June  2011, Olympus E-P1 and Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm zoom set to 19mm (38mm equiv.)

With photography, I have started on a learning process that will last a lifetime but only photograph people and things if they interest me.
In the coming posts, I will add some recent photos and once I have done that, this blog will become a spot where I add what's new and I may also discuss equipment and how I take my photos.

If you are interested, follow me. If not, well I was happy to have you read this post.

Cheers and enjoy life...