Action

Wagin Woolarama 2016 by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Women’s barrel racing at the Wagin Woolarama Rodeo. Olympus E-M1 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F2.8, exposure: /1/2000s, ƒ/4.0 at ISO 200.

If you believe the online forums you can only shoot action or sport with a Canon EOS 1d X or a Nikon 4D with very expensive f2.8 lenses. At the very least you should be using a Nikon 500d or Canon EOS 7d Mkii because it is impossible to use anything else. I have to say this is like most things written by the denizens of photography forums complete and utter rubbish.

 

boddington rodeo by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Boddington Rodeo 2005. Canon EOS 300d with Canon EF 75-300mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens.

I started photographing rodeo with a Canon EOS 300d and an EF 75-300mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens. Hardly state of the art sports equipment back in 2005. The buffer for RAW was 6 frames and it did a massive 3fps and there was no continuous auto focus when shooting RAW – you could only get that in the sports picture mode which then limited you to shooting jpg.

Matt
Matt, El Caballo’s Extreme Rodeo compere tries his hand at bronco riding with catastrophic results. Canon EOS 5D with Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 IS. Exposure: 1/1/500s, ƒ/7 at ISO 800.

The next big jump up was the Canon EOS 5d. Again no sports shooting, terrible buffer, slow frame rate and apparently the AF couldn’t cope with anything but a slow walking bride on a bright day.

Wagin Woolarama 2016 by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Women’s barrel racing at the Wagin Woolarama Rodeo. E-M1 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/1250s, ƒ/4.0 at ISO 200.

Today we have the advent of mirrorless cameras. The cognoscenti say that only a DSLR with an optical viewfinder can capture action, mirrorless cameras cannot and will not do it. Well as I said at the beginning there is a lot of rubbish spouted on photography forums. I follow Nike’s advice – “Just Do It!”

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.

Beached
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.

Happy Birthday

The Mobile Kit
The Canon EOS5d – the first “affordable” dSLR with a 35mm sensor.

On 22 August 2015 the Canon EOS 5d turned ten years old – my own 5d turned 10 last week. Now they reckon dog years are seven for every human year. In terms of digital photography I reckon ten years equates to over a hundred human years as technology has advanced so fast. Despite that the original 5d, or if you want to really annoy the anally retentive Canon fan bois over on the DPReview forums the 5d Classic, is still more than a capable camera, in fact I would go onto say that if you don’t shoot video and don’t print any larger than A3+ you don’t need anything else. If all you do is post shots on Flickr and Facebook then I would say you’re over gunned and look for a Canon EOS 300d! Why was it so special – well it was the first “affordable” dSLR with a 35mm sized sensor. That meant a lot back in 2005 because a lot photo enthusiasts and pros had cut their teeth shooting 35mm film and had got used to a certain look with particular focal lengths. The advent of the cropped sized sensor (APS-C for Canon and DX for Nikon) meant that we couldn’t just look at a scene and say that calls for a 85mm lens, or a 24mm lens. No we had all these funny focal lengths and the other annoying thing was the camera and lens manufacturers didn’t populate their lens line ups with high quality cropped factor lenses – a fact that is still true today. So when the 5d was announced I thought at last I can get my favourite focal lengths back. I literally ran to my then favourite retailer PRA and placed my order. Since then my 5d has been in constant use, there are some 14,000 images in my Lightroom catalogue taken with that camera and it hasn’t missed a beat. It still gets used on a regular basis because those 12.8 Mp render an image beautifully. Many of the cameras detractors said that it had an atrocious auto focus system but I never had any problems with mine.

 

2007 Boddington Rodeo, Boddington, WA.
Gotcha!!! 2007 Boddington Rodeo, Boddington, WA. The 5d in full on action mode, something a lot of people said was impossible.

 

2005 Perth H2O Gravity Games
2005 Perth H2O Gravity Games

A lot of people complain that Canon sensors are crippled when it comes to dynamic range, again it has never been something that has caused me any problems.

Photograph 2006 Avon Descent by Paul Amyes on 500px
Hot Air Balloons over the Avon River in Northam, Western Australia. Canon EOS 5D, Canon  75-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens. Exposure 1/1000 s at f/5.6 ISO 400.

 

 An Evening Walk Down The Lane. by Paul Amyes on 500px
A walk down the lane at sunset. York, Western Australia. Canon EOS5d, Canon EF 28-135 f3.5-5.6 IS lens, Cokin 2 stop graduated neural density filter, Cokin circular polarizing filter. Exposure 20.0 s at f/22.0 ISO 100 in manual mode.

 

Long exposures such as the shot above and below didn’t cause any problems, just a little judicious use of noise reduction software in post.

 

Photograph York CBH Nocturne by Paul Amyes on 500px
York CBH Nocturne. Train been filled at the York CBH grain handling facility in York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 5D with Canon EF24mm f/2.8 lens. Exposure: manual mode 20.0 s at f/4.0 ISO 800.

 

As I said earlier I’m still happily using the camera after ten years and in that time quite a few other cameras have come and gone. I think the EOS5d deserves the appellation Classic because it helped a lot of photographers recover their preferred means of working with focal lengths, it quickly became a mainstay of a lot of working photographers, and it established the idea of the prosumer full frame sensor in camera market. Will it last another ten years? I don’t think so as a working camera. The problem is that the spares are no longer manufactured to keep the camera going. I’ll still continue to use mine until it fails but not as a mission critical camera.

 

Tessellated Pavement
Tessellated Pavement. Canon EOS5d with EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens. Cokin filters – 3 stop ND filter, 2 stop grad, and circular polarizing filter. Exposure: 1.6 s at f/11.0 ISO 100.

 

 

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

 

Out And About With Jean Coquin

Park Beach
Park Beach at sunset. Tasmania, Australia. Olympus Pen EP-5 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R lens, and Cokin 3 stop ND filter and 2 stop neutral grad. Exposure: 3.2 s at f/16.0 ISO 200.

 

Moonrise
Moonrise over Carlton Beach. Tasmania, Australia. Olympus Pen EP-5 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. Exposure: 8.0 s at f/5.6 ISO 200.
Silver Falls
Silver Falls on Mount Wellington. Hobart, Tasmania. Olympus Pen EP-5 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. Cokin filters – 3 stop ND and circular polarizing filter. Exposure: 10.0 s at f/8.0 ISO 200.

 

Tessellated Pavement
The Tessellated Pavement that is found at Lufra, Eaglehawk Neck on the Tasman Peninsula of Tasmania. Canon EOS5d with EF28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens. Cokin filters – 3 stop ND filter, 2 stop grad, and circular polarizing filter. Exposure: 1.6 s at f/11.0 ISO 100.

 

After my post on familiarity and Chichester Cathedral I got a few comments about the use of Cokin Filters and after answering them I thought it would be fun to dig them out again and shoot some landscapes. There’s no HDR or tone mapping each photo is the result of a single exposure. Processed in Adobe Lightroom 5 and Alien Skin Exposure 3 to simulate Fuji Velvia 50.

Homesick

A Walk Down The Lane
A Walk Down The Lane. Canon EOS 5d with Canon EF 28-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens, Cokin circular polarising filter and Cokin graduated neutral density filter.

Missing the endless blue skies and red dirt of the Wheatbelt of Western Australia terribly.

 

 

Seen Better Days
Seen Better Days. Pentax 645 IIn with Pentax 45-85 f4 lens with Cokin circular filter and Cokin graduated neutral density filter. Fujicolor 160S

 

 

York Panorama
York Panorama. Olympus EM10 with Olympus 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 lens.

 

As always clicking on the photo will take you 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!!

Shadow
Shadow

 

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.

 

The Highlands of Tasmania

ST ANDREWS RICHMOND HIGHLAND GATHERING

 

Now according to Wikipedia the Highlands of Scotland are:

“…north and west of the Highland Boundary Fault, although the exact boundaries are not clearly defined, particularly to the east. The Great Glen divides the Grampian Mountains to the southeast from the Northwest Highlands. The Scottish Gaelic name of A’ Ghàidhealtachd literally means “the place of the Gaels” and traditionally, from a Gaelic-speaking point of view, includes both the Western Isles and the Highlands.”

 

ST ANDREWS RICHMOND HIGHLAND GATHERING

 

The other day I knew that I was in the Georgian Town of Richmond in Tasmania, Australia, but you could be forgiven for looking out over the Coal River Valley at the distant hills and imagining that you had suddenly been transported 17,324 km (10764 miles) to the Scottish Highlands. This was particularly reinforced when the skirl of the pipes was to be heard floating across the valley. The reality was not that I had been suddenly swept up in Gaelic daydream and astral planed to a far off land but I was at the St Andrews Richmond Highland Gathering where all things Scottish were being celebrated. According to their Facebook page:

“The St Andrew Society Hobart Incorporated was formed in 1960 by a group of people who wanted to keep alive the traditions, dancing, music, sports and literature of Scotland. The motto of the Society is “Cairdeas”, a Gaelic word meaning “Friendship”. Membership of the Society is open to persons who are interested in fostering the objectives of the Society. “

 

ST ANDREWS RICHMOND HIGHLAND GATHERING

 

The Scots are the third largest migrant group in Tasmania and they were numerous among the early settlers lured across by the prospect of farming in the Midlands of Tasmania which reminded them of their homelands. Prior to 1830 most Scots who migrated were farmers and landowners who were trying to escape the economic recession of the 1820’s. Other Scots came because they had served in the British Colonial forces and they stayed on when their term of service ended. From the 1830’s onwards the working poor joined the diaspora and they headed for Hobart to work in the industries there. This rate of migration has remained steady throughout the Twentieth Century and into the Twenty First.

 

ST ANDREWS RICHMOND HIGHLAND GATHERING

 

So it was no wonder that as we pulled up in Richmond that the town was positively heaving with visitors. Now Richmond is well and truly on tourist route number 1 in Tasmania and can be busy throughout most of the year, especially so in summer. But nothing prepared us for this. I struggled to find a parking space, but luckily after a slow lap of the town I found a spot down by the Coal River and just a short walk from the village green where the action was happening.

 

ST ANDREWS RICHMOND HIGHLAND GATHERING

 

At this point I feel compelled to make a public disclosure. When I was a young lad I had been exposed to the bagpipes through attending things like the The Royal Tournament at Earls Court in London. At that point I was fairly bagpipe neutral – I neither liked or disliked them. Then in December of 1987 we were in Kathmandu, Nepal, during the wedding season. Part of the wedding ceremony is to have a procession through the streets which is led by a marching (and I use the term loosely here as most seemed rather shambolic) band. Here I was subjected to bag pipe-playing of the most hideous nature. There are not words in the English language that adequately describe how bloody awful it was. The nearest I can get is to imagine a cat with a soprano voice being fed through a mangle while gargling on razor blades whilst having its nether regions probed by red-hot pokers and that doesn’t nearly describe the aural torture that I experienced. Ever since then I would rather slide down a banister rail made out of razor blades using my testicles as brakes rather than listen to bagpipes. It was, then, with some trepidation that I approached the green. The first thing I saw was the Scottish dancing with young tartan clad girls deftly defying gravity as they leapt and pranced on the stage. A walk around the perimeter of the green found a plethora of stalls selling on manner of Scottish items ranging from Celtic crosses to your clan’s genealogy. In the centre of the green there were competitions for the best pipe band, the best piper, the best pipe major, the best dressed band, demonstrations of Scottish country dancing and a choir. The strange thing was that I really enjoyed it. There was no sound of screaming mangled cats – it was all a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

 

ST ANDREWS RICHMOND HIGHLAND GATHERING

 

ST ANDREWS RICHMOND HIGHLAND GATHERING

 

 

ST ANDREWS RICHMOND HIGHLAND GATHERING

 

ST ANDREWS RICHMOND HIGHLAND GATHERING

 

ST ANDREWS RICHMOND HIGHLAND GATHERING

 

ST ANDREWS RICHMOND HIGHLAND GATHERING

 

So if you ever find your self in Southern Tasmania in February nip up to Richmond for the Highland Gathering its a fun day out.

 

ST ANDREWS RICHMOND HIGHLAND GATHERING

The Future Is Now

Over the last few months I have been sharing about some of the features that I have found interesting with the Olympus m4/3s system. To me personally the remote control of flash and the wireless control of the camera are exciting, not necessarily in the form that they’re in now but in what they herald for the future. I know I talk a lot about the old days but I think its important to know where we have come from in order to understand the potential of modern equipment. I am as I keep saying a very promiscuous photographer – I rarely stick to any genre for long and photograph what gives me pleasure and interest.  At the moment I’m taking photos of the wildlife we find in our garden to document it because my wife has joined gardens for wildlife and because I’m lazy and like taking photos close to home, The following are just some photos of birds that can be found in the garden.

Pink and Grey Galah
Pink and Grey Galah or Eolophus roseicapilla, the most common Australian cockatoo.

 

Noisy Miner Bird
The appropriately named the noisy miner bird, Manorina melanocephala leachi, is a vocal species with a large range of songs, calls, scoldings and alarms, and almost constant vocalizations particularly from young birds.

With the modern technology we have at our disposal taking these pics was straight forward. When we look at the work of pioneer ornithological photographer Eric Hosking and see the amount of kit he had to set up to take similar types of photos it is quite staggering. Examples of Hosking’s work can be seen here.

Eric Hoskins pioneer ornithological photographer and possibly the worlds first professional wildlife photographer.

Now an EM-10, a telephoto zoom, a couple of flash lights and an iPad takes the place of a van load of stuff. I decided to put the kit to the test and then Mother Nature sank my plans. Here in the island paradise of Tasmania we are in the middle of what is laughingly called summer. The last few days it has been sheeting down and blowing a gale. In fact the weather has been so bad that 120mm rain fell overnight and this morning on my daily perambulation I had to wear a fleece and a soft shell water proof. As you can imagine the local wildlife isn’t too keen at putting in an appearance and I doubt that any equipment setup outside would last long. So in place of the local wildlife you’ve got me showing you how to do a hi-tech selfie. My wife would probably say that there is no difference as I’m pretty feral!

OK having done this what have I learnt? Well first of all using WiFi and the RC function uses power like a trust fund baby spends money. Setting up is easy but the amount of control offered by the Olympus Image Share App is very basic. You can control the exposure but you can’t get access to the Olympus Super Control Panel and that means that you still have to access the camera itself if you want to change your lighting ratios or switch from TTL to manual or vice versa. Although the camera is connected to the iPad via WiFi you still have to physically touch the screen to trigger the camera. So in future what would I like to see, well to start I’d like to have access to the SCP via the app so I’ve got more control over the camera and lights. Secondly I’d like to have more options to trigger the camera. At the moment I can’t use the ioShutter™ as my Olympus cameras have a proprietary connection to allow the use of a remote cable, so I’d certainly welcome either Olympus or the makers of ioShutter to make a remote that allows me to trigger the camera via sound or with a light trigger. I really think that we’re just at the very start of connectivity when it comes to cameras. Back in August 2012 I wrote about shooting using my Canon EOS5d tethered via a USB cable to a laptop and using Lightroom. Now I can do the same and more but wirelessly using a mobile phone or tablet. I hoping that in 2 or 3 years time we’ll see the functions I’ve talked about here.

New Year’s Day*

New Years Day 2015
Sitting in the car waiting for the rain to stop.

Sitting in the car this morning waiting for the rain stop I was thinking about it being New Year and what sort of resolution or revolution I could implement for 2015. Fittingly the radio station I was tuned into played “New Year’s Day” by U2 and then “All I Wanna Do” by Cheryl Crow**.  I have reached something of  a crossroads*** as a photographer (doing well so far first paragraph and already three song titles referenced) – the choices are do I still remain committed to printing and showing my work that way or do I just output for the web and e-books?

New Years Day 2015
The rain finally slows down enough so I can head out onto the dog exercise area on Okine’s Beach, Dodge’s Ferry.

For me as a photographer and writer I want my ideas and images to be seen by as many people as possible and along with the process of creating that really floats my boat. If I just rely on exhibitions at best all I got was maybe a couple of hundred people look at the work. That’s a lot of effort and expense for for just so few hits (to use the web parlance). Having said that I really enjoy making prints – it was after all how I started in photography disappearing into the bathroom at night to process film and print. I found the process terribly exciting and rather magical. Fast forward a bit and an assignment that took me to Russia to shoot a bag full of Tri-X and when I got back home I processed the film and printed the proofs for the client. Later I got to see photos printed really big used at the launch of a human rights campaign. It was then that I realised the power of photography and the impact of a large print. I was hooked. Some twelve years later I got my first computer and started to play about with digital photography, desktop publishing and the internet. The world had shifted on its axis and now nearly twenty years later I’m doing stuff and reaching a what to me is a large very diverse audience. WordPress sent me an email the other day that gave a breakdown of the visitors to this blog, basically where they’re from and how they got here. While the majority of the readers are from the USA, England and Australia I get a surprising number from Russia, Central Asia, and the Latin American countries. The downside is that digital has made me a very lazy photographer and I’m loosing touch with what I’d call the craft of photography and I find that rather sad. I’ll explain that. It is sad because over the thirty years I’ve been pressing the shutter button I’ve accumulated an awful amount of knowledge – reciprocity failure, the Scheimpflug principle, push processing etc etc – and that hard-won knowledge is not being used anymore.

New Years Day 2015
Washed up tree trunk. Okines Beach, Tasmania.

I’ve got no easy answers. Maybe I’ll continue with being both. Perhaps for most of the week I’ll be a modern all digital content creator, and then for a day or so get back to the craft and keep in touch with my roots. I could even shoot a roll or two of film (I found a container full of unexposed film in the freezer and an ever larger container of exposed film). The photos accompanying today’s post are really nothing to do with today’s subject and were made in an “old skool” way. Well old school circa 2005 and that is positively ancient in digital terms. They were made with my Canon EOS5d – the original 5d – and a canon 50mm f1.8 MkII (the  plastic one not the original metal mount one). I have an embarrassingly large inventory of Canon bodies and lenses that sit around unused now I’ve gone to m4/3s.  So my feelings of guilt compelled me to get a camera out of the cupboard and shoot some black and white photos just for the heck of it.

 

* New Year’s Day by U2. Another memorable concert at the Portsmouth Guildhall from the days when Bono was not considered an annoying twat.

 

U2 – NEW YEAR’S DAY – OFFICIAL VIDEO from Noisefield on Vimeo.

 

** Sheryl Crow is an artist I’ve really got into, but an old friend of mine got the album when it first came out and every time I went round to her house she have this playing full-bore while she danced and sang along so I always associate it with her and that particular summer.

 

 

*** I first became aware of Elmore James after watching The Blues Brothers, and while I prefer the album “The Sky Is Crying” this track is an all time classic and has been covered by loads of people, but the original is still the best.