Mistakes and Failures

Rural Idyll by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Rural Idyll. The sun sets on the canola by Mount Bakewell in York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 lens and Cokin 3 stop ND and 3 stop GND filters. Exposure: 1/13th sec, f8 ISO 200.

 

Photography and video are both media that allow the artist to play with the concept of time. Up until recently I primarily worked using still photography. With the advent of good quality video being added to most digital cameras I started playing tentatively with moving images and enjoying the whole idea of capturing movement in another way. Now I’m playing with time-lapse which is a way of using still photos to play with movement that the eye doesn’t normally perceive.

 

Canola Sunset by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Sunset over the canola fields. York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Panasonic Leica 8-18/F2.8-4.0 lens a Cokin 3 stop ND and a 3 stop GND. Exposure: 1/50th sec, f8 at ISO 200.

 

 

The last couple of weeks have seen me shooting the canola fields around York. I’ve yet to do anything with the resulting video footage, but the pictures illustrating today’s post are still out takes. It is just a matter a shooting hundreds of shots of the same scene over a defined time period. My normal landscape gear and technique are used. I’m also experimenting with adding my own movement in the form of pans, tilts and slider moves. Thankfully my camera has an electronic shutter so I’m not burning through the shutter life.

 

Abandoned by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Abandoned. An old colonial farmhouse amidst the canola. York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM1 with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II lens and Cokin 3 stop GND. Exposure: 1/30th sec, f8 at ISO 200.

 

 

The thing with experiments is to allow ourselves to make mistakes. This can be difficult if you have, like I have, been practicing in a medium for many years because you tend to develop a certain competence/mastery (pick whichever is the most appropriate) and expect a certain result for your efforts. So when confronted with learning something new and seeing all the mistakes and failures it is tempting to run back to the security of our old established ways of working as it is more ego friendly. In our society the notion of mistakes and failure is seen as a negative, but they really should be embraced. We need to give ourselves freedom to explore and experiment in a nurturing environment so that we can learn and progress. At the moment I’ve got a couple of dozen time-lapse clips sitting on my hard drive, two of them are OK the rest suck big time. Looking at them objectively and looking at the work of people who are considered masters of this art form I can see where I have made my mistakes and so I can now work to avoid repeating them. Who knows in another couple of years I might actually get good at it.

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.

 

Bleedin’ Taters*

The secret to time lapsing is having a comfortable chair to sit in while you wait for the shoot to finish.

Got up at “stupid o’clock” the other morning to try out a new bit of time lapsing equipment. Streuth it was cold, and as I drove down to Monger’s Crossing I mused that the brass monkey would be tucked up at home in bed if he was sensible. A Swedish friend of mine once told me that there’s no such thing as cold weather just poor clothing choices. Well I took Matts’ advice to heart and I had more layers  than an onion.  On reaching the river it was dark and foggy, not the most photogenic conditions, but I thought for the purpose of this test it would be OK.  So I set  up the camera and sat down to wait for it to shoot one frame every twenty seconds for one hour.

The Canon EOS 550d and Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 OS on the Syrp Genie Mini pan and tilt kit.The observant will have noticed that the camera is held together with gaffer tape.

I tried watching a video on my iPod but it was so cold that the battery ran flat real quick so I thought I’d take a few pictures of my companions on the river bank.

 

A yellow billed spoon bill searching for food on a cold and misty morning on the banks of the River Avon. York, Western Australia.

 

A white-faced heron wading on the banks of the River Avon on a misty winter’s morning. York, Western Australia.

As to the time-lapse, well bearing in mind it was just a test to see how it worked, well it was a reasonable first attempt. The only downside was that the camera sensor was filthy and that meant a lot of cloning in Photoshop.

 

 

* English is pretty confusing at the best of times for non native speakers. “Taters in mould” is Cockney rhyming slang for cold.

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.

 

 

2016 In Review

Faversham
The Faversham vintage van in Avon Terrace, York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-1 with Olympus OM Zuiko 35-105mm f3.5-4.5 lens. Exposure: 1/200 sec, f5.6 ISO 400.

 

If you have slightly geeky bent, and to be honest if you are reading a photography blog it’s pretty much a given that you have, then Adobe’s Lightroom has several useful tools. One of the ones I’ve been looking at is the ability to look at your photographic work for a specific time frame, and in this case it’s for the year 2016. You can also look at the cameras and lenses you used for that period which enables you to see what patterns of equipment usage emerge. It might ultimately save you money i.e. if you have a hankering for an expensive lens you can look back on your past year to see if that focal length/s you used and whether the objective lens of your desires is one you’d actually use or not. This has actually happened to me – a while back I was working on my project Broncos and Bulls and I felt that the Canon EF 75-300 f4-5.6 IS was costing me shots as it wasn’t the fastest lens to focus and the images at the long end were pretty soft. I wanted a Canon 100-400 L IS but my then preferred local dealer didn’t have one in stock and after waiting nearly 3 months they informed they couldn’t get one. I allowed them to talk me into buying the Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS with the Canon x2 converter which they had in stock. Their logic was that I’d end up using the 70-200 much more and would hardly use it combined with the teleconverter. Now looking back through my Lightroom library I can see that I’ve hardly used the 70-200 at all on its own and virtually all the times I have used it was in conjunction with the teleconverter. I should have stuck to my guns and gone to another dealer and that way I’d have a lens that met my needs gave and gave good image quality rather than put up with a convenient compromise.

 

Gotcha!!! by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Gotcha. Steer roping, Boddington Rodeo Western Australia. Canon EOS 5D with Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS L and x2 converter. Exposure: 1/800 s at f/5.6 ISO 200
 So what have I deduced about my photography for 2016? Well I’ll start with commenting on 2015 – for that year over half my photographic output was shot with a DSLR (50:50 split between full frame and APS-C). In 2016 that dropped to 10% the other 90% was shot on mirrorless. The DSLR was only used for some macro work (radio controlled TTL flash), some architecture (a specialised lens) and one event where I had a crisis of confidence and didn’t think the mirrorless cameras would cope with high ISOs and low light focussing. When I look at lens usage it comes as a big surprise that one-quarter of the images were taken using adapted lenses and these with a focal range of between 15-135mm in full frame terms. Hmmm well I knew I preferred shorter lenses than

 

Quairading Railway Station by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Aboriginal art at Quairading Railway Station, Western Australia. Sony A7r with Olympus OM Zuiko 24mm f2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/4000, f8 at ISO 400.

longer already, the main thing is that I enjoyed using legacy lenses and was more than happy with them in terms of image quality. I don’t have to use legacy lenses at all as I have 20 to 600mm covered by modern dedicated AF lenses. For work where it is appropriate I will use the legacy lenses because they give a certain aesthetic that I like which is a less digital and clinical look.

 

York Mill by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
As you drive into York on the Great Southern Highway standing tall on your left is the historic York Flour Mill built in 1892, home to The York Mill. Sony A7r with Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide – Heliar lens. Exposure: 1/25 sec, f16 at ISO 100.

Well what will 2017 bring. Well for 2016 I experimented with finding a certain look. For 2017 will be more project driven as I have found the style I wanted and now want to put it to practice. There will be at least one new book (work on that has already started) and there will be some multi media projects. So exciting times indeed.

 

Hillside Farmhouse by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Hillside Farmhouse was designed by Sir Talbot Hobbs, a leading architect and built in 1911 for Morris Edwards in the historic Wheatbelt town of York in Western Australia. Sony A7r with Olympus OM Zuiko 35-105mm f3.5-4.5 lens mounted via a Fotodiox adapter, Cokin circular polarizing filter and +3 stop graduated neutral density filter. Exposure 4 seconds, f16, ISO 50.

 

I hope for my readers that 2017 will be all that you hope and that you’ll be healthy and happy.

 

Everlastings by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Everlastings on Mount Brown in York, WA. Sony A7r with Olympus OM Zuiko 135mm f2.8 lens. Exposure: aperture priority with +1 stop exposure compensation, 1/1000th sec, f2.8 at ISO 100.

 

 

Reflected Glory

Reflected Glory by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
The colours of sunset reflected by the sun bleached grass on the Dyott Range. York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD E-M10 with an OLYMPUS M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II lens. Exposure: ƒ/8.0/1/1000s/ISO 1600

 

Back in August I posted a blog called Mellow Yellow showing the yellow canola on the hills opposite our house. Well Summer is well and truly here and the crop has been harvested just leaving the sun bleached stubble. When the sun sets the colours are reflected on those hills with quite impressive results.

Mellow Yellow*

Canola Hillside
Canola growing on Daliak Estate in York, Western Australia. Olympus OMD EM-10 with Olympus M.75-300mm F4.8-6.7 II lens, Cokin circular polarizing filter and 3 stop graduated neutral density filter. Exposure 1/160 sec, f8 at ISO 200.

 

Well we have finally moved into our own home and this is the view from the front door. It’s nice to be a home owner again, and it’s nice to have such a brilliant view.

* This weeks musical reference is obvious – it is of course the 1967 hit song Mellow Yellow by Scottish singer song writer Donovan. Back in the day the song was rumoured to be about smoking dried banana peel for its hallucinogenic effect. For the children at home you can’t get munted off smoking bananas it was all a hoax. I wonder how many people spent hours drying bananas and then smoking them over the years. It would have to be millions. Oh the gullibility of youth!!! So what was Donovan’s song about then? Well the clue is in the phrase “electrical banana“.

 

Hillside

Hillside Farmhouse
Hillside Farmhouse

 

 

Hillside Farmhouse was designed by Sir Talbot Hobbs, a leading architect and built in 1911 for Morris Edwards in the historic Wheatbelt town of York in Western Australia. Sony A7r with Olympus OM Zuiko 35-105mm f3.5-4.5 lens mounted via a Fotodiox adapter,  Cokin circular polarizing filter and +3 stop graduated neutral density filter. Exposure 4 seconds, f16, ISO 50.