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.

 

The Tasman Peninsular

 

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.

 

Maingon Bay
The view from Maingon Bay Lookout. Tasman National Park. Olympus Pen EP-5 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/160 s at f/8.0 ISO 400.

 

Brown Fur Seals
Male brown fur seals sun bathing on the rocks of Tasman Island. When the breeding season starts they will swim north up to the breeding sites in Bass Strait. Olympus OMD EM-10 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R lens. Exposure: 1/500 s at f/8.0 ISO 200.

 

New Zealand Fur Seals
New Zealand fur seals sunning themselves on rocks. Only a small number of New Zealand fur seals breed on remote islands off the south coast. The total population in Tasmania is 350-450. Tasman National Park, Tasmania. Olympus OMD EM10 with OLYMPUS M.40-150mm F4.0-5.6 R lens. Exposure: 1/400 s at f/8.0 ISO 200.

 

Fortescue Bay
Fortescue Bay in the Tasman National Park. Tasmania, Australia. Olympus OMD EM-10 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/400 s at f/8.0 ISO 200.

 

Fortescue Bay
Fortescue Bay in the Tasman National Park. Tasmania, Australia. Olympus OMD EM10 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/320 s at f/8.0 ISO 200.

 

Fortescue Bay
The Rough With The Smooth. Fortescue Bay in the Tasman National Park. Tasmania, Australia. Olympus OMD EM10 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/200 s at f/8.0 ISO 200.

 

 

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

Read the book see the movie

Tasmanian Tales has now been released as a movie on YouTube and as a book through Blurb.

Tasmania. Australia’s island state. It’s the little bit off of the south-eastern coast that most people forget about. So what’s it all about then? Join me as I travel the island and make written and photographic observations as I do so.