The Dog And Bone*

Frida in Denmark by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Frida, the faithful canine companion, out and about exploring in Denmark, Western Australia. Apple iPhone SE. Exposure: 1/3000, f2.2 ISO 25. Edited on the phone using Snapseed.

 

 

* dog and bone is cockney rhyming slang for telephone.

On The Road To Nowhere*

Kondinin Lake by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Kondinin Lake is a large Salt lake 5km west of the Kondinin townsite. After sufficient rain there is an abundance of water birds. iPhone SE panorama mode. Exposure: 1/1900, f2.2, ISO 25.

 

 

 

Talk to a lot of people in Perth (Western Australia) – especially migrants – and many haven’t left the metro area. They know nothing of rural Western Australia at all. Few people realise that the Wheatbelt has a large number of lakes such as Kondinin Lake pictured above. The assumption is that because the rainfall is low there can’t be any large bodies of water. The truth is that the Wheatbelt has a very low drainage profile which means that water collects in large shallow depressions. During the hot summers the rate of evaporation is high and tat creates these salt lakes. Kondinin Lake is huge – it covers an area of 15 square kilometres – and after a decent bit of rain it attracts a huge variety of wild birds. It is also a popular boating and water ski destination. Now who would have thought that.

 

Unknown Pauper by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
The grave of the unknown pauper outside of the Kondinin Pioneer Cemetery. Olympus OMD EM1 mki with Olympus m.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/1000, f2.8, ISO 200.

 

On the shore of the lake is the Kondinin Pioneer Cemetery. A final resting place with a nice view. It’s not the most interesting cemetery but it does make you think  at what life must have been like as you walk around. The saddest part of the cemetery the grave of the “unknown pauper” who in 1934 shuffled off of this mortal coil. The people of Kondinin couldn’t find it in their hearts to bury the poor wretch in the cemetery itself so the grave lies outside it. Unfortunate in life and unfortunate in death.

So if you are driving to Esperance or Hyden, then do a bit of a detour and see the lake.

*Today’s musical reference is of course Road To Nowhere by Talking Heads.

 

Guns and Roses

 

On the weekend of 19th-21st May 2017 I travelled with my significant other to the teeming Wheatbelt metropolis of Narrogin as she had entered the annual “Guns and Roses” croquet tournament put on by the Narrogin Croquet Club. Twelve of Western Australia’s best players (the “Guns”) would partner eighteen lesser ranked players (the “Roses”). Each “rose” would get the opportunity to play with a different “gun” at each round. The idea, which seems an excellent one I might add, is that inexperienced players can learn off of top players.  My role in this was the self-given task of producing a video documenting the proceedings.

Video is a fairly new medium for me, I’ve been playing around with it but I’ve really not got to grips with it. This was to be a complex multi day project and it wasn’t helped by the fact that it was bitterly cold and there was intermittent heavy rain (yes dear reader we do have cold wet weather in Australia). I ended up using my Olympus OMD EM1 mk i with the Olympus m.Zuiko 40-150mm f2.8 lens as the main camera, an Olympus Pen EP5 with the Olympus m.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 for wide shots, a Leica D-Lux for time lapses, and my iPhone for social video in the evenings. For sound I used shot-gun microphones (a Rode VideoMicro on the EM1 and a Rode VideoMic Pro on the EP5) to record straight into the cameras. No external audio recorder was used as I felt I had my hands full enough. By the end of the weekend I had got through nine batteries and ten 16Gb SD cards. The EM1 was used on a tripod (a Manfrotto MDEVE 755XB with Manfrotto MV500AH Fluid Video Head), the EP5 was on a video monopod (Manfrotto 562B-1 Fluid Video Monopod), and the Leica D-Lux was on a photo tripod (a very old Manfrotto 190 tripod fitted with an equally old ball head).

What I learnt from this exercise was:

  • the weather sealing on both the EM1 and the two lenses works very well. At times I got soaked in the rain and the camera just kept going with no adverse effects.
  • I should have used an audio recorder to get better sound and record some general background noise.
  • the 40-150mm f2.8 is not parfocal  (it is not sold as such) and the autofocus kept drifting and in some cases would not lock on at all. Trying to focus on the night games using just the rear screen and no peaking was hard. Either a camera that has focus peaking in video mode or a monitor that allows it would be really good.
  • I shot most of the footage at 1080 at 25fps except for that on the EP5 which only shoots 1080 at 30fps. I used Toast Titanium’s video converter to reconfigure it as 1080 25fps. On the whole it worked out well, but on two clips that I really wanted it dropped frames and lost the sound. So next time I won’t mix clips of different frame rates.
  • With four cameras, each having its own idea of what a neutral colour setting is, made life very hard during editing. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the 8 bit 4.2.0 files didn’t like being pushed too much in post as they would quickly fall apart. It would have been nice to have had a more video orientated camera with a flatter profile and more robust codec.
  • I did the slow motion in post, it would have been nice to have shot at 60fps or higher to get nicer slo-mo.
  • I should have shot more B-roll and tried to interview on camera some of the participants.

As a learning experience this was a very good exercise and I enjoyed the whole process immensely. If money were no object I’d get a more video orientated camera and a video field monitor and recorder, but being as I am fiscally challenged I’ll have to settle for some more memory cards and batteries.

 

Summer Break

Wilson Inlet by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Helen and Frida pausing for a sit down while following the Bibbulmun Track alongside Wilson Inlet, Denmark, Western Australia. iPhone panorama.

 

Normally summer is pretty full on here in the vast Wheatbelt Metropolis that is York – temperatures hovering around the 40 ℃ (104 ℉) mark. Consequently most people here plan on getting away to the coast during summer for some respite from temperatures more akin to a low oven setting rather than the weather. I say “normally” as this years weather is really topsy-turvy, but as we had to make the accommodation booking some 6 months in advance we went any way. Our preferred escape York/the heat destination is Denmark – no not the country, the town on the south coast of Western Australia.

 

Private Jetty by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Walking round Wilson Inlet on the Bibbulmun Track. Denmark, Western Australia. iPhone panorama.

 

We rent the same house on Wilson Inlet as it enables us to walk the Bibbulmun Track that follows the edge of the Inlet for some distance. The track has been an abiding interest for us for many years, Helen has end to ended on it, me I’ve just done one over night and lots of day walks. It is always a great pleasure to get out into the bush.

 

Looking Up by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Looking Up. Walking up to Mount Hallowell on the Bibbulmun Track, Denmark, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Olympus m.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/100th sec, f8, at ISO 200.

For a more strenuous walk we climbed Mount Hallowell, Helen reckons it is one of the harder sections on the whole track. We managed it relatively easily – which probably has more to do with the fact that we weren’t encumbered by 10Kg back packs.

 

Follow the Snake by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Follow the Snake – the Wagyl trail markers. Helen on the granite outcrops on Mount Hallowell. Denmark, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Olympus m.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/160 th sec, f4, at ISO 400.

 

We walked up Mount Hallowell – which is more of a big hill than a mountain, and then on to Monkey Rock, which is a granite outcrop on the southern side of the hill that gives 270 degree views over the surrounding karri forest, southern coastline and Wilson Inlet. Despite the stunning views I took no photos as the air was very hazy. Still there’s always next time!

 

Sun Up by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Sun Up. The sun comes up over the peak. Mount Hallowell, Denmark, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Olympus m.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/400th sec, f8, at ISO 200.

 

 

Summer Rains – WTF?

 

The weather has gone absolutely mental!!!! We’ve gone from having days in the high 30’s to the low 40’s to belting rain and temperatures of 15℃. It is really strange to say the least.

The video footage was mainly shot on my iPhone and some on a Sony Action Cam. I must say I am a very late starter to using a mobile phone for photography and video. Dunno why – it just never appealed. Yesterday I was out walking the dog and I thought I better shoot some footage about the weird weather and the only camera I had to hand was my phone. I had no microphone nor anything to steady the footage. It was all flying by the seat of my pants. I went out again this morning  and decided to take my Sony Action Cam to take some additional footage. Most of what I took was unusable – the quality from the iPhone is so much better. I did for a crazy moment think about editing the footage on my phone but I decided against it as I’d never used iMovie on my phone before and thought it would be quicker and easier to bang out the edit on my laptop.