Moody Monochrome

Much is written about “Tasmanian Gothic” – a dark soberness that has its roots in the landscape and the colonial history. Personally I’m not a fan as I feel it colours much of modern-day Tasmania and restricts progress. But, there is no doubt that the weather and the landscape do particularly suit black and white or monochrome photography.

Wooden tender beached at Pirates Bay, Tasmania. Canon EOS 5D with Canon EF20mm f/2.8 USM lens. Exposure: 1/30 s at f/16.0 ISO 100

When I worked with film I loved the whole process for black and white photography. Picking a film and developer combination, then choosing a paper and then finally whether to tone the image or not. The whole process was magical and working in the darkroom, whether it was a commandeered bathroom or a purpose-built one was like a going back to the womb to create something wonderful. Admittedly an awful lot of the time I seemed to turn out a lot of dross, but it was an enjoyable process. To misquote  Kilgore’s eulogy in the Coppola classic film Apocalypse Now “I love the smell of fixer in the morning,”.

Kite Surfing #3
Kite surfing off Park Beach in Tasmania. Olympus E-M10 and OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II lens. Exposure: 1/1600 s at f/6.3 ISO 200.

I would love to work with black and white film again – but living with a rainwater tank for our supply and with a septic tank for waste water management means that I cannot develop film at home and there are no labs in Tasmania that develop the film. So for now it is the digital option, which is not as magical and mystical as the darkroom, is in its own way just as satisfying. No longer following the Zone System laid down by St Ansel, I now expose to the right (ETTR) to get the maximum amount of tonal information in my RAW file and then process in Lightroom. The final black and white conversion is done in NikSoft’s Silver Efx Pro 2, which is always done the same way and mimics what I used to get with Ilford Delta 400 developed in Rodinol and then printed on Ilford FB Warmtone Multigrade paper. My Canon Pixma Pro9000 does a fantastic job of monochrome printing on Harman Gloss Baryta Warmtone. I’ve done two exhibitions using this combination and been delighted with the results.

Murdunna Moorings
Yachts moored on King George Bay Murdunna, Tasmania. Canon EOS 5D with Canon EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens. Exposure: 1/640 s at f/11.0 ISO 800.

Thankfully working digitally means that we can work in both colour and black and white at once, just making the decision of which way to go at the time of processing. It is a great time to be a photographer.

As always clicking on an image will take you through to my online gallery.

Bicycle Race

The Victorian era was a time of incredible innovation and some of the inventions and processes are still practiced in their original form. In the field of photography despite the march of technology some photographers like Sally Mann and Robb Kendrick use antiquated processes in a modern context to express themselves. Well besides my interest in all things photographic I am also interested in cycling. A little after I migrated to Australia I heard about the Australian National Penny Farthing Championships which are held at the historic Tasmanian town of Evandale and I put on the bucket list of things to see. Well the other week I noticed in the upcoming events column of the Mercury newspaper that the races were on and I just had to go. The whole idea that anyone wants to race, let alone ride, a penny farthing is to me totally mad while at the same time seems a perfectly logical steampunk  activity.

Evandale is a pretty colonial era town just south of Launceston in the north of Tasmania. Every year in February, since 1983, the town puts on The Evandale Village Fair in conjunction with the penny farthing championship. This means that the town is a bustling hive of activity that attracts visitors not only from all over Tasmania but also from the Big Island, also known as the Australian Mainland.The fair has market stalls, live musical entertainment, Morris Dancing, vintage cars, costume parades and even a genuine old-time Punch and Judy show.

That's The Way To Do It
That’s The Way To Do It

But there is no doubt, the star attraction is the penny farthing racing which attracts riders from all over Australia.The event lasts a weekend with the Saturday hosting the main short course events that are held on a course in the township itself. On the Sunday the longer distance races are held, including the Century Ride, which is a penny farthing tradition that goes back to the 1880’s, which is a 162 Km race or 100 miles. Totally bonkers!!



It's All A Bit of a Blur
The bikes maybe old-fashioned but the riders can certainly shift while on the 1 mile 91.6 Km) course. Evandale National Penny Farthing Championship.


Nice Moustache
Having a perfectly groomed handlebar moustache is a requirement for the successful penny farthing racer. 2015 Evandale Village Fair and national penny farthing championship. Tasmania, Australia.


The details for next years event has already been posted on the website. If you want a fun, action packed and unusual day out then go to Evandale in February 2016.


The Man In Black
The Man In Black

As always clicking on an image will take you through to my online store.

Regular readers are aware that I my blogs have musical references to them and so here is the pop video for this entry.


After Midnight

Night time at the old York drive in movie theatre. Canon EOS 5D with Canon EF20mm f/2.8 USM. Exposure 64.0 s at f/4.0 ISO 800.

Apologies to the late, great JJ Cale, who wrote the absolutely sublime song “After Midnight”, but I have been prowling around after dark with my camera and tripod. Every summer I do this because endless blue skies and fields of sun bleached wheat stubble do not make for very interesting photographs. Shooting at night can make the mundane look strangely beautiful and ethereal.

CBH Nocturne, York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 550D & Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 OS EX. Exposure; manual mode 30.0 s at f/4.0 ISO 3200.

Most of the time the images are straight, i.e. I just set the camera up on my tripod and make an exposure, like the two images above. Sometimes I like to play a little with light painting and flash to make something a little more out there.

In the wreckers yard at night. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 5D, Canon EF24mm f/2.8 lens, Canon 550EX Speedlite and Canon 430EX Speedlite . Exposure: manual mode 30.0 s at f/2.8 ISO 400.

This image and the one below used flash with gels attached and fired by a set of el cheap “Poverty Wizards” I bought off of Ebay. I keep meaning to get a couple more old manual speedlites and some more wireless receivers to achieve more complicated lighting effects, but what usually happens is that summer ends and I stop going out at night and I quickly forget about it. Maybe this year.

Toxic Waste. Something’s happening in York’s drains!!! York Western Australia. Canon EOS5d with EF20mm f/2.8 USM lens, 430EX Speedlite, and 550EX Speedlite. Exposure 251.0 s at f/5.6 ISO 400.

What makes this fun is that it is experimental, you’re never completely sure how the image is going to turn out. Also with exposures knocking around 30 to 240 seconds it is a slow process and that makes it a more thoughtful exercise as it is not just a case of blazing away and hoping. I find because it can take up to twenty minutes making test exposures and then the final image I become  thoughtful about composition. It is not unusual to have been out for a couple of hours and only make four or five images.

As always clicking on an image will take you through to my online gallery.