Saturday, 11 May 2013

Reflections With The XZ-1

The more I use the XZ-1 the more I appreciate its' low weight and small size.  Being small the camera doesn't draw attention to itself and you see little reaction from people in the street.  The XZ-1 produces files that are a little noisy but the noise is easily removed leaving files little different from the E-PL1.  In a few years time, this type of camera will fill the needs of most photographers though doubtless not their desires!

With so much glass in Perth buildings, the field is rich with reflections.  The less flat varieties of glass produce some wonderful distortions while the flat type are mirror like.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Using A Wide Angle Lens

My natural preference is to use longer focal lengths but having bought a wide angle zoom quite a while ago I feel the need to use it!  I find the wide angle the most difficult of lenses to use because it "sees" so much.  At its widest my lens is 9mm so 18mm FF equivalent or 100 degrees field of view.  It is quite shocking how far 100 degrees lets you see and it becomes vital to get close to your subject and then scan the corners of the frame to see all the items in view that you wish weren't there.  Composition tends to take a while and small changes in position make large changes to the picture.

So here are few of my efforts from a walk in Perth.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Spider Wrapping Lunch

My resident orb weaver spider was busy today when I went to see him, so I grabbed the camera and took a few shots.  I am a bit out of practise so a lot of the pics where a bit blurred, some due to poor technique and others due to not using flash.  A spiders web moves quite a bit with even the slightest breath of wind but flash will freeze the motion.

Technically this is not a great picture but looks ok downsized for the web!!!


Sunday, 21 April 2013

High Magnification Macro Bench Rig

Here is a picture of my basic macro bench rig.  It's home made from adapted parts at minimal cost.

To the left is the adjustment mechanism from a microscope and this allows movement of the subject in two micrometer steps.  The circular stage can be removed and other sample holding means used (when I get around to making them!).  To the right is a Pentax M42 bellows unit with an Olympus E-510 attached.  The lens is a Nikon 50mm enlarger lens which provides a magnification of x5, depending on the extension of the bellows.

Next time I set up the whole unit I will post a picture.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Flower Focus Stack

This flower is about 20mm diameter and needs the maximum magnification my macro lens can provide.  The smallest aperture that can be used before diffraction softening sets in is f8 leaving a depth of field of 1.5mm.  A single shot will leave most of the flower soft or completely out of focus so seven shots are stacked to extend the depth of field.  The finest detail of the flower can still not be resolved by my camera system, the detail found in flowers is truly amazing.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Spider Visiting

My garden has provided a rich source of macro subjects, both flowers and insects.  From time to time one of the larger spiders comes for a visit, in this case I think it is a young Orb Weaver.  These grow to a good size and tend to hang around for a while so you can have a few attempts at photographing them.

The web is stretched between a bush and some other plants and there is strong back light.  To tame the back light, the camera is set in manual exposure to darken the background and then my twin head macro flash is set to illuminate the subject.  In this way the web detail is raised as well as illuminating the subject correctly.

Friday, 29 March 2013


Moreton Bay figs tend to have interesting root system above the surface of the ground.  Most of the time there is no apparent order to the shape of the roots but occasionally it is possible to isolate area of root that have graphic possibilities.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Rusty Anchor

This anchor sits on the foreshore at Rockingham beach and is surrounded by clutter.  In order to get a clean view it was necessary to shoot from close to ground level looking up.  For these situations I am glad that the viewfinder on my Olympus E-PL1 tilts up at 90 degrees.  The shot was taken late in the afternoon so the sun is low and picks out the surface texture nicely.  The lens used was a Panasonic 20mm f1.7.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Welder and Pipes

Someone always seems to be building in Perth or in this case, laying some pipes.  I spotted the pattern made by the pipes but it needed something to lend some scale.  After waiting for a while a welder strolled past and completed the picture for me.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Bark Patterns

Walking along St. Georges Terrace on the way to Kings Park, I noticed the wonderful colours and patterns of bark on a tree by the roadside.  The idea here is to arrange those patterns to make a pleasing picture and it's not quite as easy as it looks.


Sunday, 10 March 2013

M3A5 Grant Tank

The other half of todays walk was around the Army Museum in Fremantle.  WW2 amour is very attractive to my eye and I love the details such as rivets, hinges and the texture of castings.

Leeuwin In Fremantle

Wandering around Victoria Quay today I noticed an interesting looking sky beyond the Maritime Museum.  I lined up the Leeuwin with the building in the background and that glorious cloud.  To get to the appropriate vantage point I had to poke the lens through a fence.  Every other view looked cluttered in comparison.

Friday, 8 March 2013

What Makes A Photograph Work ?

I can't give an expert commentary to explain what makes pictures work, only what I see.  The picture below will be used as an example of how I would explain what works in this instance.

This a small detail of a large building;framing tight focuses attention on the area of interest.  The composition is mainly about geometry, the contrast between the horizontal and vertical lines and the radii.  The colour palette is limited to the red of the bricks and paint, and the neutral tones of the mortar.  Too many colours in a picture can be overpowering. Finally the texture of the bricks and peeling paint adds interest.

Walkabout Photography

A specific subject is seldom the objective when I go out taking pictures, I would rather walk in a relaxed way and just look for interesting forms, textures and colours.  The nature of the subject is not important, but to see beyond attaching a label to an object takes a bit of practise.   Our brain tends to avoid abstract thinking and must be gently forced to decompose a scene in front of us.

To keep the walk relaxed I prefer a compact camera; it keeps the weight to a minimum and the camera tends to be simple to operate freeing the mind to wander.  My camera of choice is the Olympus XZ-1 with a VF-2 viewfinder.  The viewfinder has a head that rotates 90 degrees allowing the camera to be placed on the ground or allowing you to shoot up the face of a building while looking forwards  The diameter of the lens is relatively small so that it can be poked through odd gaps or through fencing, permitting unusual perspectives. 

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Fire Hose

During my photo walks around towns, I attempt to walk up and down all streets and alleys in order to get as many different viewpoints as possible.  Often going down alleys yields an interesting picture.  In this case the light caught my attention and how it raised the texture of the wall and how black the shadows where.  Once again the sun at a high angle made the shot.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Fremantle Markets

The markets are a pleasant place to visit and take pictures.  The colours of the fruit and veg. along with the clamour of people make for lively shots  The camera used was the Olympus XZ-1, it's fast lens being helpful in the dim light.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Blue Bike

Most of the time I tend not to point my Olympus cameras toward sources of bright light as this usually results in blown highlights and black shadows.  While I had the 5D II I took the opportunity of trying just that.  The resulting picture has strong shadows and a glow around the outline of the bike that I particularly like.  Note that everything in the frame is pretty much in focus; the aperture used was f11.  I could have opened up the lens to blurr the chairs but there was no need as the subject is well separated by the light and I am a fan of detail!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Abstracts With A 5D II

I had another pleasant walk in Fremantle this morning and took along a Canon 5D II for company.  The lens used was a 24-104 f4, a great walk around lens.  I have seen plenty of files from this camera before but shot very few myself.  As an Olympus user I was curious to see how different the files where when shooting subjects similar to those I have from Olympus equipment.  Needless to say the files are very good; a bit less noise and quite a bit more detail along with the ability to recover blown highlights.  If I had money to spare I would be tempted to have a full frame camera but sadly that is not the case!  So my loan camera must now go back, but we had a pleasant time together.

This first shot is my favourite from the day and it is a scene I have passed many times before but not taken a picture.  Taken later in the day, the sun is high in the sky, the light picking out all the detail in the hull of the submarine.

The next shot is of an access door located in a large shed door.  Here I enjoyed the colours and textures created by age.

Finally a window in one of the sheds, just a shot about geometry and contrasting colours.  I am finding in general, that the less objects in the frame the more I enjoy the composition, less can indeed be more.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Flower Photography

The colours and textures of flowers hold an endless fascination for me.  Capturing bold colours and fine textures at the same time can cause some problems.  The colours tend to saturate wiping out the detail, especially when making adjustments to contrast.  At each stage I tend to wind back the saturation of selected colours to the point that the detail returns.

These pictures where taken with three different cameras as part of my ongoing investigation of my view of what makes a good camera.  The three cameras used where Canon 5d II, Olympus E-3 and Olympus XZ-1.  The Canon was kindly loaned by a friend.  When I compared all the shots I made after editing in PhotoShop, I had difficulty telling which camera took which shot.  Seems to indicate that for good shooting conditions most modern cameras will produce a similar result.

Friday, 8 February 2013

How To Chose A Camera

It is difficult to talk about photography without eventually talking about cameras.  The choice of cameras available today is staggering as is the volume of reviews and opinions.  How can we make sense of all this confusion?

There is no universal right answer when it comes to choosing a camera, it depends on many variables.  I would like to suggest that deciding on what subject you will actually shoot is the first thing to be done; not what you might shoot or could shoot but what realistically is achievable.

To illustrate how this decision process could go I will talk about how I should have made my choices with the benefit of hindsight.  From the pictures I have posted here you can see that my subjects are usually in good light, seldom move very quickly and that I enjoy most things to be in focus in the frame.  Most of my pictures are viewed on a computer or an A4 print. Almost any camera will meet my requirements so an endless list of performance features is not required.

Reviews seem to stress features such as high ISO performance, focus speed, resolution and frame rate to arrive at the "best camera".  However for my needs none of these things are important so those features can be removed from the decision making process.  It turns out that a top end compact does a very good job for me and my recent pictures have been taken with an Olympus XZ-1.

Now I have to confess that my first choice of camera was a DSLR, an Olympus E-3 with some nice lenses.  Then I wanted something a bit smaller so I bought a mirrorless camera, an Olympus E-PL1 with a few odd lenses.  My last choice was the XZ-1.  So how do I chose which camera to take?  It depends on the job in hand but most of the time the XZ-1 wins if I am going to walk a lot, the E-PL1 wins if I need a bit more image quality and the E-3 wins if I need a weatherproof responsive camera.

My conclusion would be that the lightest camera that will do the job wins and if I was left with just the XZ-1 I could complete the majority of my photography.  You don't have to spend a fortune or become a pack horse to enjoy photography.  Each individual will have a specific set of camera performance needs and it is worth sorting those out before buying.

Having said that, if we want a camera that we don't need then that is fine also as long as it gives us pleasure. 

Old and New

Perth has a mixture of architecture of different ages.  I find old buildings less interesting than the new but like a mixture of the two most of all.  The contrasting styles of design and often huge scale differences add variety to the picture.

Huge expanses of glass provide mirrors everywhere.  Both the following shots where taken from less than obvious locations.  To fully explore an area you need to walk everywhere you are allowed and keep looking around.  The view on offer can change quite quickly with small changes in position.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Rust Never Sleeps

Decay is not something I normally photograph but rust has such interesting colours and texture I find it difficult to resist.  Rust streaks caused by rain make attractive patterns also.

The last shot has no rust but the patterns of damaged paint caught my eye.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Machine Abstracts

Machines have played a big part in my life from very early on, so it should be no surprise that I enjoy photographing them.  I favour designs from before around 1970, their appearance is somehow more pleasing.  By isolating part of a machine in a photo we are left with a geometric picture and so the function of the machine becomes unimportant.  It's all about lines, shade and textures.  There is no end to the potential subjects, we just need to look closely at the world around us.

These pictures where made at Rockingham War Memorial.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

More WA Wildflowers

Photographing flowers involves a bit of time spent on your knees, adjusting cameras and foliage.  Something you notice quite quickly is the abundance of living things crawling all over the flowers.  It takes a bit of patience to wait for one of then to pose properly but well worth the effort.  To save my knees I use very solid plastic pads, they keep you dry also.