How the seasons have changed. It was the height of summer when I posted Tales From The River Bank and now we are at the end of autumn. We’ve had a lot of foggy mornings which always makes me think of Captain Mark Phillips the ex-husband of Princess Anne. Rumour has it that Prince Charles nicknamed him Foggy because he was thick and wet. Well the fog has certainly been thick and wet here lately.
The Great Divide in Tasmania on the Lyell Highway marks the point where the geology of the Tasmania changes from the quartzite in the west to the dolerite of the east. It also marks where the weather systems of Tasmania change from the Roaring 40’s of the west to the moisture laden winds from the Southern Ocean. Sounds a bit boring when you describe it like that, but when you see the King William Ranges rising out of the button grass moorlands and bogs it all takes on a majestic splendour. As you drive along the Lyell Highway there is a lay-by which is quite popular, next to it is an information sign explain what the Great Divide is. Hardly anyone reads the sign, they are all too busy looking at and photographing the scenery.
There’s no doubt about it Australians love a dam. Build one and the accompanying recreation area will be full of happy Aussies burning sausages while commenting sagely on rainfall and water levels. On our recent jaunt around the Tasmanian North West we stopped at Tarraleah to admire the hydro and the Art Deco cottages that were built to house the workers when being constructed. They are now part of a swank resort where you can admire massive pipes and electricity pylons as they cross the valley.
The building of the dams polarised the community and gave birth to Australian green politics and the conservation of the Tasmanian Wilderness. Sounds odd doesn’t it? Renewable energy is supposed to be good for the environment, but not when you destroy the wilderness and make entire species extinct in the process. The Hydro Electric Commission (HEC) was set up in 1914 to capitalise on Tasmania’s topography and high rainfall which made it eminently suitable for the generation of hydro-electricity. The whole thing progressed smoothly until the HEC wanted to build three dams on the Upper Gordon River with the aim of attracting industry to the State with the incentive of cheap energy. In December 1982, the Franklin River dam site was occupied by protesters, leading to widespread arrests and world-wide dismay and condemnation. The Hydro and the Tassie government were dismissive of any criticism and saw it as outsiders meddling in Tasmanian affairs. As happened in 1930’s America where the photographs of the High Sierras by Ansel Adams were paramount in changing public opinion and convincing politicians to do more to conserve the natural environment, the photographs of Peter Dombrovskis brought the spectacular Tassie wilderness to the attention of the wider public and they were used in a media campaign that helped bring down the government of Malcolm Fraser at the 1983 election. The new government, under Bob Hawke, had promised to stop the dam from being built. The resulting stoush between the Tasmanian State government and the Australian Federal government ended up going all the way to the High Court which ended up as landmark decision in favour of the federal government. The building of the dams gave birth to Australian green politics and the conservation of the the Tasmanian Wilderness.
I’m going to preface this entry with the statement that most post processing is a matter of personal taste and that there are a hundred and one different ways of editing an image in Photoshop to get the same result. If this doesn’t appeal to you, or I do things differently to you it doesn’t mean I’m right and you’re wrong, nor does it mean you’re right and I’m wrong.
I have posted this because I got a lot enquiries about how I make my images and whether the colours captured are real or not. So the image below is a straight jpg conversion of the RAW file that came off my memory card. All I’ve done is reduce the size and convert to sRGB. The original exposure was made on an Olympus Pen EP-5 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. A Cokin 2 stop soft graduated neutral density filter was used to hold back the sky. Exposure: 3.2 s at f/11.0 ISO 200 in manual exposure mode.
The video below shows how I work on the file in Adobe Lightroom 5.7 , Adobe Photoshop CS5.04, Alien Skin Exposure 3, Nik Soft’s Dfine 2 and Color Efex Pro 4. I use these products because I like them and have paid for them with my own money.
The finished image.
Clicking on the image will take you through to my gallery. I hope that you found this helpful.
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.
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,”.
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 Systemlaid 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.
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.
There’s no doubt about it we get a lot of weather in Tasmania – it is said that you can experience all four seasons in one day, and that if you don’t like the weather then just wait ten minutes and it will completely different. Thankfully after what seems a very long and cold winter, spring is starting to show. Flowers are starting to bloom, the days are warmer and people are out and about looking happier. The space of time between the first photo and the last is just five weeks and I have gone from wearing thermals, fleece and Gore-tex to shirt sleeves.Here’s looking forward to summer.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As always clicking on an image will take you through to my online gallery.
There was no post last weekend as I was wagging web duties and out on the Tasman Peninsular. The peninsular is the sticky out bit on the bottom of the eastern coast of Tasmania. It is an area of outstanding beauty, it has a wild and dramatic coastline, incredible wildlife and an emotionally charged colonial history. It is a photographers paradise with seemingly unlimited possibilities. If you are visiting this part of the world please don’t do the usual tourist itinerary – visit Port Arthur, the Tasmanian Devil Park at Taranna and then head back that afternoon to Hobart. Certainly visit the afore-mentioned attractions, and also treat yourself to the Pennicott Tasman Island Cruise (which is just brilliant), but take a few days to explore the region and you will be rewarded with a memorable experience.
As always clicking on an image will take to my online gallery.
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.