Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Camera Club

Last night was another good night at the camera club with a good roll up and a judge, who is new to us, to evaluate and comment on our competition entries.  The judge did not waffle on as some do and so, after she had finished with the print entries, we all had more time to intermingle and discuss our photography over a cup of coffee before vewing and hearing the comments on the digitally projected images.

I was happy with the results for my two entries in the Colour Print Section.  A photo taken of our Portraiture Workshop during a demonstration by the presenter focusing her camera on the model before capturing her shot gained a Merit (our highest award).  You may view this photo in my blog posted 15 March, 2011.

And one I took during last years trip to Roma in Queensland for the Australian Photographic Society Convention (APSCON) gained a credit.  APSCON is held every year and is an opportunity to meet people interested in photography from all around Australia (and even overseas) and to hear experienced photographers, both amateur and professional, give talks on all things photographic.

One everning, three of us took the opportunity to drive out of town to capture a sunset.  We were assured of clouds as there had been a lot of rain before our arrival and and they had flooding shortly after we left so the weather patterns were conducive to photographing sunsets.
As Shot in RAW file format exposed for the highlights
Canon 40D, Shot at 1/8+sec@f/11, Sigma 18-200mm lens focal length 21mm, ISO 400, No flash, Tripod.

Rather than take a number of frames and blend them in software to achieve what I had envisioned when I pressed the shutter button, I made another version of the original file to give detail in the foreground and pasted the two selections together.

Original RAW file adjusted for the foreground
Blended image with crops from first and second files

Once I replaced the foreground in the original image I then tidied up the scene and adjusted the contrast to really bring out the detail in the sky.  Files created from the original RAW file were 16bit TIFF.
Final result
Shooting in RAWallowed me to work in 16bit colour space which I could not have done with a JPEG format.  I like the final result with the muddy road leading off into the storms brewing on the horizon.  With the events which occured in Queensland earlier this year the photo takes on added impact for me.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Big Day Arrived

The Big Day finally arrived yesterday and the four of us from our camera club got there early to make sure to be ready to guide our tours of people wanting to learn about photography as we took them on pleasant strolls along a path in the Royal National Park.

Crowds arriving at the registration booth

We were responsible for three separate sessions in all over the day and each group was slightly smaller than first indicated which allowed us to form more personal relationships with individuals and, after giving a brief introductory talk before each walk on what to look for when choosing a subject and how to compose a photo, we ambled off at a leisurely pace looking for photo opportunities.
The first Photography Walk group head out down the forest path

One of the locals keeps an eye on the events of the day

The kyakers enjoy some time on the water

Tai Chi was another extremely popular activity

Flowers  were hard to find but we were blessed with mushrooms

It was all very enjoyable and we walked further than I have for quite a while, talking all the time so I was weary by the end of the day but really appreciate the opportunity to be part of a team helping interested people get more out of their cameras and to meet such a variety of friendly people.  The overall event was very professionally run by an exceptional team which ensured we could focus on our task without having to be particularly concerned about our safety, security, meals or refreshments as these things were all taken care of.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

A Photo Walk in the Royal National Park

Our camera club volunteered to conduct a photography walk in the Royal National Park tomorrow for Seniors Week.  We shall be giving guidance on how to use a camera and what to look for when taking photos.  It is also hoped that the walk will encourage some of the participants to join our club so everyone benefits from the day.

We went down to the venue today to check it out, plan our strategy and identify where we might be able to point out subjects to illustrate our comments and hopefully have the participants go home with some satisfying photos.  With a bit of luck there might also be some wildlife as we experienced today.

For me it was also a liitle bit of a throwback to the day at Lane Cove National Park with Kookaburras and Water Dragons.  There were some young Kookaburras which have obviously learned that people sitting at a picnic table are good for a bite to eat and as we walked along a track a Water Dragon skittered down to the river.

Water Dragon
Canon 7D, 24-105 Lens @105mm, 1/20sec @ f/4.0, ISO 100, Hand held.
Cropped to approx. 1/3 of the frame.

I couldn't resist this shot of a walker in the park framed by the trees with the red top and blue backpack contrasted again the green foliage.  The colours, the dappled light, the leading lines of the path and arch of the trees all contribute to focus attention on the walker.

Canon 7D, 24/105 Lens @ 58mm, 1/100sec @ f/4.5, ISO 100, Hand held.

Can't wait till tomorrow when it's "Game On!".

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Tabletop Photography

While scanning through the blogs I suscribe to I came across an example showing depth of field and how it can be controlled by adjusting the aperture.  The demonstration used a piece of timber with nails partly hammered in about 5cm apart with the timber running away from the camera.  With wider apertures (lower f/stop number) the depth of field was more shallow than when the aperture was closed down (higher f/stop number).  This was illustrated by how many nails were sharply in focus as the aperture changed.

I have been aware of this for some time as Depth of Field and the Focal Length of the lens used is so critical in macro photography.  But it made me think how I could use depth of field creatively and it occured to me that if I used a knife and fork on a plate I could have tips sharp and fade off to the back of the plate and the handles of the utensils.  I set up my el cheapo trusty cardboard lightbox with some desk lamps and got to work

This first shot illustrates my initial idea of the knife and fork sitting on a plate.

Canon 7D, Canon 50mm Lens, Av Mode 1/100sec @ f/2.8, ISO 100, No flash, Tripod.

It then occured to me that it could be improved with an additional element so on raiding the freezer some peas were found:-

Canon 7D, Canon 50mm Lens, Av Mode 1/60sec @ f/2.8, ISO 100, No flash, Tripod.

Was one pea enough?
The fork was also turned over to make the tines more prominent
Canon 7D, Canon 50mm Lens, Av Mode 1/30sec @ f/2.8, ISO 100, No flash, Tripod.

I am quite pleased with the excercise and already have plans to try more variations on the theme.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Brushtail Possum

The weather has not been condusive to outdoor photograhy which caused me to cancel a trip with our camera club to the Moss Vale Show over the weekend.  But tonight, while locking the house up before going to bed for the night we heard soft growling sounds which appeared to be coming from the trees at our back fence.  So being a dilligent photographer I grabbed the torch and camera before heading off with the dog to investigate.

After searching along both sides of the fence I moved further away and found this Brushtail Possum in the neighbour's gum tree.

Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula)
Canon 40D, Sigma 18-200mm @ 200mm, 1/60s @ f/6.3, ISO 800, Flash ETTL EV+-0, Hand held.

The challenge here was to aim both the camera and the torch together to get enough light on the subject in order to manually focus until the auto focus could kick in for a sharp image.  Certainly not the most flattering angle but I did enjoy the experience.

Friday, 18 March 2011

St Patrick's Day

Had lunch at St George Motor Boat Club for St Patrick's Day overlooking the George's River.  I did not take my camera but the view out the window has always enticed me so I couldn't resist taking this snap from the dining room looking over part of the marina towards Tom Ugly's Bridge.  I couldn't get out onto the balcony so it was shot through the glass using the camera in my mobile phone.  I was surprised by the image quality.

iPhone, standard camera app fully auto mode, hand held through the window.
Removed flag pole and adjusted contrast in Photoshop.

Every time I go there I promise myself I will go back to take a similar scene in the evening light.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Fantastic Portrait Workshop at Camera Club

After a terrific photographic weekend including an outdoor portrait workshop where we were shown how to deal with harsh outdoor lighting I was delighted to attend our camera club last night for an indoor 'studio style' portrait workshop.  It was rather fortuitous for me that the subject on our Annual Syllabus just happened to coincide with the weekend event.

Our guest speaker is a professional photographer which truly showed in her presentation and the young lady who attended with her performed wonderfully in spite it being her first time before a camera in this manner.  Following a walk-through of the background and lighting setup we were given a detailed explanation of how to use our camera and interact with the model.

In order to get a different perspective, I chose to use the occassion to practice my personal 'photo journalistic' style and shot from the back and sides of the room to record the interaction between the photographer and her subject which I pre-visualised would presented it's own unique opportunities.  Because I chose not to use flash and the room was in total darkness apart from the tungsten modelling lights of the strobes in the soft boxes, I had to explore the capabilities of the Canon 7D.  Where the 40D struggled at ISO 800, I decided to push the 7D to its limit and ended up shooting in manual mode at ISO 6400 in order to shoot hand held rather than be restricted by using a tripod.

I was blown away by the result!  Whilst the darkest areas of the images were certainly noisey, this was easily dealt with during processing of the RAW format files in Lightroom 3.  Three of the resulting photos are posted here for your comment.  I would have been happy to get one good shot.

This first shot shows the studio setup in our club room around which our members were able to view the action before trying their hand.
Canon 7D, 24-105mm Lens, Focal Length 40mm, ISO 3200, 1/30Sec, f/4.0, No Flash, Hand Held.

Here I caught the photographer framing and focusing before capture.
Canon 7D, 24-105mm Lens, Focal Length 55mm, ISO 6400, 1/50Sec, f/4.0, No Flash, Hand Held.

The model was relaxed and preparing for her next pose when this shot was taken.
Canon 7D, 24-105mm Lens, Focal Length 105mm, ISO 6400, 1/50Sec, f/4.0, No Flash, Hand Held.

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Monday, 14 March 2011

A Rally of Cameras

We both spent the last weekend at a retreat west of Sydney with more than seventy other photographers listening to interesting speakers, sharing our photographic passion and experiences as well as attending an outdoor portraiture workshop.

Robyn and I provided transport and accommodation for one of the speakers and his wife before and after the event and as a result were able to develop a friendly relationship with them.  This made the three day event even more worth the effort.

We woke on Saturday morning to see a clothes line full of welcome swallows in the bright early sunshine.
Canon 7D, Sigma 18-200mm Lens,  ISO 400, 1/160s @ f/6.3, Ambient light, Hand held.

Sunday morning was time to join the queue with the rest of the photographers to take advantage of the models and lighting gear during the Daylight Portraiture Workshop.

Canon 7D, Canon 24/105mm Lens,  ISO 100, 1/80s @ f/8, Ambient light, Hand held.

Canon 7D, Canon 24-105mm Lens,  ISO 100, 1/200s @ f/66, Ambient light supplemented by strobe in umbrella, Hand held.

All in all it was a good weekend.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Kookaburras & Eastern Water Dragons

Had a great day yesterday at the Lane Cove National Park with friends who have recently emigrated from England, with whom I regularly enjoy most Wednesdays exploring Sydney and it's surrounds, taking photos and discussing our intentions for taking the image, our methods and results.  As we each have an interest in nature photography, it was a good opportunity for us to share the experience of some of Australia's wildlife and, as always, it was a lovely day out despite the overcast sky.

As well as the usual Kookaburras, Black Ducks, etc.,  I had the opportunity to photograph a creature I have not seen very often before, the Eastern Water Dragon (Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii) which were abundant along the river edge.  I also took the opportunity to experiment with techniques gleaned from online research by doing comparisons shots with and without flash outdoors and was very impressed with the results when using flash.  Not only for the better lighting but also the images appear to be sharper.  It is a technique I shall be using more often in future.

Eastern Water Dragon
Canon 7D, Sigma 80-400 Lens, 1/500s @ f/5.6, ISO 400, No Flash, Hand held.

I wanted an eye to eye angle with the Dragon in it's natural environment so got down on my belly, slowly crawling closer while clicking the shutter.  I did not use flash so as not to disturb the creature and it let me get close enought to fill the frame for a few images before he quietly turned and headed back for cover.

Eastern Water Dragon
Canon 7D, Sigma 80-400 Lens, 1/250s @ f/5.6, ISO 400, No Flash, Tripod.

 Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguinea)
Canon 7D, Sigma 80-400 Lens, 1/250s @ f/5.6, ISO 400, Flash, Tripod.

Golden Orb Weaver (Nephila)
Canon 7D, Sigma 80-400 Lens, 1/250s @ f/5.6, ISO 400, No Flash, Hand held.

 As usual when doing nature photography, it was a relaxed, productive day, this time shared with friends.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Fishy Photography

I was asked to photograph some pet fish in a fish tank.  A pair of cichlid inmates had spawned a batch of young and were protecting them from all the other fish who were circling around eyeing off the delicious babies.  All very simple except for one thing.  The fish tank was set up inside the house and the subjects were hiding in a decorative barrel which meant supplementary light was required and that it had to be directed into the barrel so they could be photographed.

"Easy" you might say, "Just position the flash to direct the light into the dark space."

Well, after dialing down the flash power to minimise the shadow and remembering we are shooting fish in a fish tank, we then have to deal with the reflections off the glass.  Not an easy task.  There were already reflections of the room, the windows, myself and the camera even before the extra lighting was added but after many attempts and contortions, I finally replaced the flash with a desk lamp to achieved this one.

Canon 7D and 24-105 f4 Lens, Manfroto tripod.  Lighting was provided by a bright desk lamp.
1/50sec @ f11,  ISO 800

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Time for a Portrait

One of our grandaughters, 'Fluffy' came to visit yesterday morning with her mother and while my wife was taking some photos of her for a portrait she plans to paint, I just had to take my own shot.

The photo was taken using the Canon 7D, 24-105mm f4 lens.  Natural window lighting, no flash, hand held.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Beautiful Sunset Photos

Finally back on the computer with it all operating smoothly again but now I have some catching up to do.

I was awed by the colours in the sky on Thursday evening so grabbed the camera and took some shots to capture the magic light as it changed over a period of 10 minutes.  Of the 12 shots I took these 4 show the final stages of nature's amazing show.  All taken with the Canon 7D and 24-105 lens hand held.

This was the light by time I had got the camera and changed the lens at 7:39pm.
1/ 30 sec @ f4.0  ISO 100

 7:42pm.  Much more red in the sky.  The clouds were in three layers with the bottom layer of large grey clouds moving quickly east to west, a second whispy layer moving at a similar pace from west to east and the topmost layer virtually static.
1/30 @ f4.0  ISO 100
7:46pm.  Red is fading to blue.
1/60 @ f5.6  ISO 250

7:49pm.  The red is all but gone and the whole sky takes on a blue tinge.
1/60 @ f5.6  ISO 250

I had gone past the point where I should have used a longer shutter speed and tripod so the last shot is very noisey but I'm not trying to win a competition here, simply share the beauty of nature.

All shot in RAW format and shown as-shot apart from the last photo which had noise reduction applied.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Photo Catch Up

This is a catch-up post today because my computer crashed on Monday so I've had to make do with the laptop.  The PC is probably trying to tell me it needs to retire but I think I can squeeze a bit more out of it while I save up for its replacement.  (Update:  It seems the mother board is causing the problem so the news is not good.)

Tuesday I spotted a group of young Harlequin Beetles in a tree at our front verandah so here we go with another close-up shot.

It was an overcast day with flat light so a bit of fill flash was needed.  The beetles invade the tree every year and are just as colourful as the flowers.  Shot with the 7D and 100mm macro lens hand held.

The weather was not much better when we took a trip to the city yesterday (Wednesday) to take a look at the Annie Leibovitz: A Photographers Life 1990-2005 photography exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art.  It was an interesting exhibition with a mix of her professional work blended with personal "family snaps" style photography showing that even the pros are happy to take ordinary "record shots" for no other reason than to record special moments in life.  The photos on display showed happy times in the photograper's life as well as sad times as she recorded the last days of her dear friend Susan Sontag as well as her father.

Before we entered the exhibition I took the opportunity to take a couple of shots of the P&O cruise liner Aurora docked at Circular Quay.  I liked this one best and hope you like it as well.

The Live View feature of the 7D was put to good use as the camera was held low to get the shot I wanted.  Contrast was increased in CS5 to deal with the flat lighting and get a bit of detail in the clouds.  I would have liked the Opera House arches to be in full view but it was the lines formed by the mooring ropes and the shape of the ship's bow that I was after and the Opera House just adds a touch of location.

About Me

This Blog is about my journey as I try to rediscover photography and all it's pleasures. I took up photography with a passion following my retirement from work and have had ups and downs as I aspired to learn and become the best photographer I could be. I have no interest in becoming a professional in the field, merely that others may enjoy the results of my achievements.