Croquetwest Grip and Grin

Beloved Significant Other collecting an armful of trophies from Emma Cole, mayor of the City of Vincent, at the recent Croqetwest awards presentation for 2018-9.

Well Beloved Significant Other (BSO) Helen Amyes had a stonker of a year on the croquet front and was invited to attend the Croquetwest 2018-9 trophy presentation. Yours truly was tagging along as the +1 with aim of taking just a couple of photos for her clubs Facebook page. The inevitable happened. Turn up with a camera, couple of lenses and a flash and suddenly you are the “official” photographer and taking the photos for the press and social media. As I’ve said before grip and grin is not my favourite form of photography. There wasn’t a lot of wriggle room for an alternative approach this time so it was pretty basic event photography. At least it was helped along in the form of a jolly jape where fake awards were interspersed with the real ones. Even the recipients were left wondering what they’d actually just won.

Brett McHardy and his partner Janine were winners of Golf Croquet Under Age Doubles. Brett is trying to work out what he’s just won.

 

Chris McWhirtter receiving the prize for being the winner of the Golf Croquet open singles from Emma Cole.

 

All in all it was a fun afternoon

Hell Or High Water

Hell or high water is the new motto for the Avon Descent and was adopted because recent years have seen decreasing amounts of rainfall falling and competitors have had to carry their craft where there was insufficient water. This year, 2017 and the 45th occasion of the race, the water levels were high which meant potentially new records could be set. The Avon Descent was first held in 1973, and there were only forty-nine competitors. This year there were 370 competitors with many coming from interstate and overseas. In more ways than one it deserves the title the “world’s greatest white water event”. The 124 km or 77 mile two day event starts at Northam and finishes at the Riverside Garden in Bayswater with an over night stop at the Boral Campsite just outside Toodyay. For the majority of entrants the aim is just to complete the course, but for the elite athletes it is a chance of competing in a unique endurance race.

The beauty of this race is that you can pick out a few vantage points from a list put out by the race organisers on their website and follow the whole event documenting the whole story rather than just getting an isolated snap shot. In previous years I’d covered the race for magazines shooting stills and then writing the story. This year I had intended to cover the entire event from start to finish and it was to be first time I’d covered it shooting video. Having planned my weekend around the race it was time to check the maps and the approximate timings for each stage. For instance there was no point heading to the first stage after the start as I would not have had time to get there by car, park, and then walk along the river to find a good location to set up. Also I had to think about the weather conditions, because at some of the viewing points you are bussed in and that would mean I’d have to carry everything with me. As the forecast for the weekend was a cold start it was thermals, and fleece. he key was light layers that could be added or taken off as conditions permitted. Camera and lens choice was hard, and I found it difficult to make a decision. For the Friday shots I could work from the back of the car and it was all to be people shots around Northam and for the sake of mobility using either a monopod or a gimbal. In the end I decided to use the Sony A7r and with Olympus OM Zuiko lenses – the 20mm, 50mm and 135mm. This and the gimbal went in a belt pack. Saturday involved shooting at three sites and I wanted to shoot some time-lapse as well as video footage. So I chose the Olympus OMD EM 1 with 40-150mm f2.8 lens for the video work and the EM10 with 12-40mm f2.8 for the time-lapse. I couldn’t set up a tripod at the start as I was going to shoot on the swing bridge so I used a monopod for the video and for the time-lapse I clamped the Syrp Genie Mini to the bridge safety barrier with a Manfrotto super clamp. All this went into my photo back pack. Sunday was the biggest problem with no car access to Bells Rapids everything had to be carried. So I took the Canon EOS6d with 24-70mm, 70-200 and a x2 converter. I’d also need plenty of batteries and memory cards as there would be no nipping back to the car. I decided to carry all this in pouches on a belt as I needed to be able to scramble up some rocks to get a good vantage point. At Bells I mounted the camera on a tripod but at the finish line I shot just using a monopod.

The race happens on the first weekend of August every year. It kicked off on the Friday with the competitor registration at the Northam Swimming Pool and then their craft were taken down to the race marshalling area on the banks of the river. Late in afternoon and into the evening was the Avon River Festival with a huge fireworks display on the Avon River, stage shows featuring a variety of local talent, a family fun zone, rides for all the family, sideshow alley and roving entertainment, a community street parade, markets for avid shoppers, and food. On Saturday morning the event kicked off proper. As I arrived I could see hot air balloons drifting lazily above the river. The power craft were away quickly and smoothly and then it was the turn of the paddle craft. I was surprised to see that someone was competing for the first time on a Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP). Barely had half the paddle craft left than the news came through that the first power craft had reached Toodyay. It was going to be a very fast race with little hope of getting shots of the power craft. I spent a total of an hour and half standing on the swing bridge -it is a wire suspension bridge that bounces a lot, the police constable standing next to me complained of feeling seasick from the constant motion. It didn’t effect me but it really made me glad that I had the in body stabilisation activated on the cameras. After the start I went to Williamson Weir stayed there for an hour and a half. The Weir is man-made and its concrete lip and rock wall are hazardous to boat and paddler alike so around half the competitors choose to portage around it. Thankfully the other half run it and you get the thrills and spills with plenty of encouragement from the watching crowd. Finishing up in Toodyay for the day is great. There is always a great vibe with a tremendous crowd and a party like atmosphere. When I got there the town was packed and in full on carnival mode. It took an age to find some parking and get down to the river. Here there was a team change over area, and along the riverside were lots of anxious looking paddlers all staring up river for any sign of their team mates. As the first canoes started to come round the corner and pass under the timing gate they got their first sight of their team mates and their faces would burst into a huge grin of relief. The spectators would burst into rapturous cheers as the fresh team-mate paddled away heading for the Boral Campsite that marked the halfway point and the end of day one.

I couldn’t face getting up at 4;30am in the dark and freezing cold to get to the start at Boral Camp for day two so I just headed out a bit later and went straight to Bells Rapids in Walyunga National Park. You have to leave the car at the nearby state equestrian centre and then you taken in by bus. From there it was a quick walk to what I call the media rock. It’s a nice big rock that juts out into the river which gives a good view of the competitors coming under the bridge and through the rapids. I got there just as the TV crews were claiming their spots and setting up. I squeezed onto the end closest to the bank and put my tripod up to mark my territory. When the press photographers arrived they gave us a filthy look, but as they were shooting hand-held they didn’t need as much space. A little while later a hopeful photo enthusiast asked if could join us on the rock, one of the guys I know from the papers said it was OK if he didn’t talk about equipment – his or ours – and if he did he’d get thrown in the river. He decided that he couldn’t not talk about kit and took himself off somewhere else. After a couple of hours I knew that I’d have to get my skates on if I was to get to the finish line.

The finish line is in Bayswater a suburb of Perth. A huge screen had been put up and there was a live commentary being given. I positioned myself by the finish line as I find that the images taken as the paddlers beach their boats and walk ashore tells a very powerful story. It does not seem to matter whether they are newbie’s in their first race or veterans each face has a similar look etched upon it. It is a mixture of pain from the sheer physical effort, relief from finishing, and disbelief that it is all over. Some will swear that they will never do it again, but most know that even as they hit the finish line that they will be back next year.

So now a week later, I’ve edited the 50Gb of footage and made a 7 minute clip. As I write this I’m thinking about how things went and what I would change if I were to do it again. Well to start with I wouldn’t bother with the Sony. It produces very nice images, but the screen is terrible. It is winter here and the days aren’t as bright as they can be, but the Sony’s rear LCD panel is virtually unusable. The other thing that puts me off is that the user interface isn’t very intuitive and so adjusting some settings in a hurry is a pain in the nethers. The OMD EM1 mk i is constantly a surprise when shooting video. The touch screen is a pleasure to use and the phase detect auto focus does very well. It is tempting to run off and get a mk ii for the 4K and the improved focusing. The Canon EOS 6d was the surprise, the autofocus is crap, but Technicolor’s CineStyle Profile and Canon’s superb lenses produce gorgeous images. All it needs is a flippy flappy touch screen and dual pixel auto focus and it would be perfect. “The 6d mk ii has that!” I hear you say, but (and there is always a but) the mk ii’s video compression is worse than the mk i. What Canon give they take away! There is always the EOS 80d. I might try to hire one for the next project I shoot. I wish I’d used the gimbal more instead of the monopod, accepting the fact that I couldn’t use it for the long lens shots. Sound could be a lot better – it is the aspect of video I always struggle with. I’m also beginning to think that I’ve out grown iMovie – a better editor would give me some more options. I’ve downloaded DaVinci Resolve to give that a whirl on my next project. In many ways I’m no different to the competitors in the race – I’m already starting to plan for next year!

“Off To The Races”

“And we’re off to the races, places
Ready, set, the gate is down and now we’re goin’ in”

by Lana Del Rey and Tim Larcombe

York Cup Horse Races
York Cup Horse Races. In a small country town any event is an excuse to be seen and hang out. Olympus OMD EM-10 with OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: AE priority 1/2500th sec, f5.6 at ISO 200.

 

York Cup Horse Races
Place your bets at the TAB. Olympus OMD EM-10 with OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: AE priority 1/500th sec, f5.6 at ISO 200.

 

York Cup Horse Races
Getting ready for the race. Olympus OMD EM-1 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: AE priority 1/320th sec, f4.5 ISO 200.

 

York Cup Horse Races
Walking the horses so the punters can study the horses. Olympus OMD EM-1 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: AE priority 1/1000th sec, f4.5 at ISO 200.

 

York Cup Horse Races
Studying the form before the race. Olympus OMD EM-10 with OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: AE priority 1/1250th sec, f8 at ISO 200.

 

York Cup Horse Races
Warming up the horses before the start. Olympus OMD EM-1 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/3200, f4 at ISO 200.

 

York Cup Horse Races
The horses come into the finishing straight for a last dash for the finish line. Olympus OMD EM-1 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/4000th sec, f4 at ISO 200.

 

York Cup Horse Races
And they’re neck and neck. Olympus OMD EM-1 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: 1/2000th sec, f4 at ISO 200.

 

York Cup Horse Races
And the tic tac man holds onto the money. Olympus OMD EM-10 with OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8 lens. Exposure: AE priority 1/60th sec, f4 at ISO 200.

 

 

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!”

Gone To The Dogs

Sometimes when I read the photography forums I wonder how we managed to make pictures in the past. No auto focus, shooting film so there was no instant feedback on exposure and content, being limited to 36 exposure rolls of film rather than 128Gb memory cards, frame rates of only 3 fps rather than 11. But make photos we certainly did. Going through my Lightroom catalogue the other day I looked at this short series I shot. The assignment was to make a short photo essay of six photos using black and white film and produce six prints. The equipment used was fairly basic by todays comparison, an Olympus OM4 fitted with an autowinder, an Olympus 35-105mm lens, an Olympus 65-200mm lens, and four rolls of Ilford HP5. The film was developed in D76 and the prints were made on Ilford Multigrade RC. The images below were from scans of the actual prints.

 

Gone To The Dogs
The steward walking the dogs out to the start line. Greyhound racing at Cannington in Western Australia.

 

Gone To The Dogs
Preparing the dogs at the starting gates. Greyhound racing at Cannington in Western Australia.

 

Gone To The Dogs
They’re off chasing the electric hare. Greyhound racing at Cannington in Western Australia.

 

Gone To The Dogs
Into the final straight. Greyhound racing at Cannington in Western Australia.

 

 

Gone To The Dogs
The winners on the podium being photographed. Greyhound racing at Cannington in Western Australia.

 

Gone To The Dogs
The punters watch the action on screens in side the bar. Greyhound racing at Cannington in Western Australia.

 

 

I won’t say any more because I feel I’m in danger of becoming the photographic equivalent of:

 

Very Colourful

Perth Red Dress Run
In March 2008 Perth hosted the Interhash Red Dress Run. The Hash House Harriers are a running club with branches all over the world. In fact they describe themselves as more of a drinking club with a running problem.

 

Last weeks blog post was a bit unintentionally monochromatic. Although I like working in black and white I am I feel more of a colour photographer. In a previous post I mentioned it was Fujichrome RD50 and its successor that really turned me onto colour. To be honest though I’m not sure that I like many of us use colour effectively when we make our photographs. Colours are very powerful communicators and they have spawned their own fields of academia colour psychology and colour symbolism. Colour symbolism refers to the use of colour throughout a culture and is studied by anthropologists. Colour Psychology refers to investigating the effect of colour on human behaviour. The results are mainly anecdotal and the study generally falls under the heading of a pseudo-science and is regarded as a New Age phenomenon. Both terms are used to express the use of colour in a historical and cultural context. Cross cultural diversity may make interpretation difficult i.e.

  • In Western Cultures white has signified purity, virginity and wisdom. It is the colour worn at weddings. In Asia white is associated with death and is the colour worn traditionally at funerals.
  • In Western Culture pink is seen as feminine and wholesome, but in Japan pink is the colour associated with pornography.

Perth Red Dress RunHere is a brief run down of what various colours mean giving both the positive and negative connotations.

Grey 

  • positive attributes are security, reliability, elegance, humility, respect, reverence, subtlety, wisdom and old age
  • negative attributes are anachronism, depression, boredom, decay, decrepitude, dullness, pollution

Black

  • positive : intelligence, modernity, power, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, style
  • negative: evil, death, fear, rebellion, anarchy, sorrow, mourning

Red

  • positive: passion, strength, energy, fire, love, sex, excitement, speed, heat, ambition, leadership, masculinity, power
  • negative: arrogance, danger, blood, war, anger, rebellion, revolution, aggression, the devil. Red can have the physiological response of increasing blood pressure and respiration and it stimulates hunger which is why many fast food chains use the colour in their logos and decor.

Blue

  • positive: male, productive, peace, unity, tranquility, calmness, trust, coolness, confidence, loyalty, dependability, cleanliness
  • negative: winter, depression, emotional coldness, obscenity, tackiness, sadness, aloofness

Green

  • positive: great intelligence, nature, spring, fertility, youth, environmental, wealth, money, good luck, vigour, generosity
  • negative: jealousy, disgrace, illness, corruption

Yellow

  • positive: sunlight, joy, happiness, optimism, idealism, summer, hope, liberalism, femininity, gladness
  • negative: cowardice, illness, fear, hazardous, dishonesty, avarice, weakness, fear, greed

Purple

  • positive: nobility, sensuality, spirituality, creativity, royalty, ceremonial, mystery, enlightenment
  • negative: arrogance, flamboyance, gaudiness, profanity, exaggeration, confusion, pride

Orange

  • positive: happiness, balance, heat, fire, enthusiasm, playfulness, autumn
  • positive: over emotional, warning, danger, arrogance, aggression

Brown

  • positive: calm, depth, natural, nature, rusticism, stability, traditional, earth
  • negative: anachronistic, fascism, boorishness, dirt, feces, dullness, filth, heaviness, poverty, roughness

Perth Red Dress Run

This is only the tip of the iceberg, but it gives enough clues as to why some of my photos may appeal more to viewers than others. People love sunsets because of the reds, yellows and orange hues, although a bit of a photographic cliché they make people feel warm, happy, positive, and hopeful. Seascapes are popular too with the various shades of blue denoting calmness, peace, tranquility, refreshment and confidence.
Perth Red Dress Run
The photos accompanying this entry are of the 2008 Perth Inter Hash. The Inter Hash is an event organised by the Hash House Harriers, a club for drinkers who have a running problem. I went into Perth not knowing that this event was happening but as I crossed the concourse from the rail station into Forest Chase I could see all these people dressed in red and so I decided to follow them on their opening parade as they walked through the Perth CBD. The intensity of the light mixed with the brilliant reds made for a very compelling sight. The faintly ridiculous nature of the costumes over powered any of the negative symbolism of the colour and just highlighted the positive ones.

Perth Red Dress Run

Perth Red Dress Run

 

Perth Red Dress Run

Perth Red Dress Run

 

Certainly when looking at making a photo in the future I’m going to try to pay more attention to the colour element and use that in the composition.

Croquet!?!

My partner, Helen, has taken up croquet. It is not a sport I know anything about, I had a few preconceptions about it namely that it was played by the pre-senile and involved eating cucumber sandwiches on the lawn and when that got boring you hit a ball around the garden with a large hammer.Well the other weekend the club Helen belongs to, York Croquet Club, had a tournament which attracted players from other parts of Western Australia and Helen entered. To show solidarity I went to watch one of the morning sessions, the promise of morning tea being the incentive, and like the complete camera bore I am I took my camera. This time instead of shooting stills I shot video. In fact this has become the first solely video project I have done.

Has my view of the sport changed. Well the club’s motto is “Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill!” and watching them play it is very apt. If you do decide to play be warned, those genteel old ladies are merciless, prepare to be humiliated. If you are in the vicinity of York and want to turn up and have a go the club can be found at:

Glebe Street, York. WA 6302  and contacted at croquetyork@gmail.com .

For the technically minded the video was shot on a Canon EOS550d, a Sigma 17-50 f2.8 OS, Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS L, Rode Stereo Mic, and a Zoom H2N audio recorder. The edit was done in Apple’s iMovie.