Friday, November 16, 2012

The little camera that could.

Firstly I apologize for going MIA for those who bother to read my ramblings. I've just been preoccupied and too busy to bother posting on my blog - my bad!

As some of you may know, i've had the Sony NEX 5n for a few months now and it's a little camera that i've slowly grown to love more and more every time I use it. Sure, there are times when the image quality isn't good enough, or the autofocusing isn't fast enough and sometimes, it just.. lacks that something to make it a truly amazing camera. Having said that, it is the size of an iPhone and a few hundred dollars as opposed to a few thousand!

So take this as a.. on going updated review of the NEX 5n, something that with all its flaws, limitations and quirks, I love to bits.

British India came to Gladstone last night and performed a one off performance in Central Queensland. I've never heard much of their music, so i wont turn this blog into a music review. I took the D4 (which i'll write about how that compares to the D3s soon) and took the 5n along just for laughs to see how it would perform in a live gig environment, and see how it compared to the beast that is the Nikon D4.

 The problem that I have with the NEX system - as a whole - is that it lacks any good fast lenses, the only fast lenses they have at the moment are the 50mm f1.8 and the Carl Zeiss 28mm f1.8 which costs an arm and a leg. The alternative? legacy lenses, using old school lenses that everyone forgets about, and chuck them onto the NEX. With its amazing peaking feature for manual focussing it's pretty easy to get used to shooting with full manual focus.

Maybe it's the hipster inside of me, but something about a manual focus lens makes me feel Henri-Cartier Bresson-esque, shooting and capturing images the old school way. (obviously it's not, but using a full manual lens just gives you that sense of pure photography that machine gunning with AF doesn't.)

The images turned out better than I thought and the noise performance is acceptable, clearly not Nikon D3s/4 quality but again, for its size and price it's nothing i'd complain about.

Having shot a few live gigs in the past year or so, there's one thing I hate and always will hate, the damn stage lighting. flickering reds, blues, oranges and clean whites, the lighting changes every few seconds and it's damn hard to try and catch a shot consistently with the same lighting. Makes people look like aliens if you get the wrong colour on their faces.

I stripped these images of all their colour partly for this reason but also because I feel that the really over saturated colours from the lights draw attention away from the main subject and by stripping the colours, there are less visual distractions for the viewers - my opinion of course.

Supporting act for British India were a Brisbane band named Young Griffo.

For those who are curious as to how the NEX looks like with legacy lenses, there you go. 55mm f1.4 which is effectively 80mm-ish at f1.4 with the smaller cropped sensor. As you can see by the photo, the lens is almost, if not, bigger than the whole camera, perfect for travelling and hiking - which is why I bought it in the first place. 

Can it/does it replace a DSLR? definitely not. It's a different style and type of shooting. The image quality is definitely better than a lot of DSLR's out there but to use it in a professional environment such as the news environment would be a bit touch and go for this little camera. Sure, there would be a way where you COULD use it for the work that I do, but it'd just be too much effort for little reward. 

Hopefully I can find more occasions to take this little camera out in the future and do a direct comparison to my workhorse, the D4.

Unti then,


p.s - a bit more colour to end this post.  (NEX 5n of course)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

High Flyers

As usual i've been a bit lazy with this blog and haven't posted in over a month nearly. Been a bit uninspired with the blog, not work, which is a nice change for once. Obviously i've been up to a lot of mischief in the past month and taken lots and lots of photos but not many were a real stand out. Luckily for you i've picked a few photos that I liked.

Amazingly and to my surprise there was an airshow in Gladstone, well it wasn't Gladstone but one of the surrounding regions. This was a Mig15 that some dude owned, he apparently bought it at an auction and he flies it around. Go figure. Having said that though, this was the last flight for the Mig 15, it was donated to the Air Field and now it lives there as a museum/display piece for people to awe over for years. I don't remember the last time I went to an air show, could've been when I was about 10 with my old man, but man, it's pretty damn cool. I've always loved planes and been in awe of their ability to 1) even fly and 2) the grace and beauty of them while they fly.

This jet was a different story, the speed was phenomenal, sure its a 50 nearly 60 year old plane but it flew by in a heart beat and all you'd hear is a 'whoosh' then a second delay and 'roar' from the engine. This thing was FAST and nimble, just rolling over in the air, looked so amazing. Good fun. shot the shit out of it.

So here is the pilot and his son. They landed and taxied over to a spot and they all got out to a large crowd who were asking questions about the plane, when I saw the sun come out from clouds and cast a beautiful orange glow on their faces. I used my 'authoritative' voice and asked the people to kindly move away for a quick second whilst i took the photo. Upon asking the people to move I got a few 'why's" from people, I just said "Observer, it'll be two seconds." some people annoy me, however i'm happy with the shot. 

Just a little artsy shot to finish the day. He is a little bear inside the cockpit of some pilots plane. I thought it was cute. 

From high flying planes to dead seagulls. We got a call from a local resident who noticed dead seagulls on the beach, I thought nothing of it and presumed it was just some person with nothing better to do than call the Observer, so obviously I was sent out on a 'mission' to investigate the dead gulls. When I got there, damn, there were dead gulls.. lots of them.. I walked about 20m of the beach and came across 6-8 dead seagulls, they didn't look like they'd been there for a while, they were still looking quite fresh. The gulls were just lying there, on the beach, some on the footpath and a couple next to each other. I've never seen THAT many dead birds in such a small area, not sure if it was suspect or not but I did feel sorry for them.

Not much to the photo below, just a disgruntled trucker who's not happy with the state of the roads in Gladstone. He was a good poser. turned out pretty good. Flash camera right. added a bit of fill. Nice and easy. 

The Mount Larcom show is coming up (June 23/24) I assume i'll be shooting it and i'm getting pretty excited about it. Apparently it's one of the biggest events in Gladstone? There's gonna be like, wood choppers, goats, piglets, stalls, lots of good stuff. Anyway, this was a preview piece we did in lead up to the event. The guy on the left is Craig Butler, he ran for Mayor a few months ago, lost by a few hundred votes, maybe not even. Now he's running the Larcom Show, well, he has been for the past 19 years or so. I like this shot. It's simple, basic, but still tells a bit of a story. I really like the lighting most of all. Flash to camera right just to fill them out in the shadows. The natural hair light from the sun and fill flash almost gives it a very editorial look. Diggin' it. 

Quint-essential sport shots. League and junior soccer 

I like this photo cos the girl is kicking ass with the ball and poor young mate is lying on the floor haha.

Got to go sailing for the first time the other day, really enjoyed it and had an opportunity to shoot lots of cool photos. This one is kind of my favourite. I'm not sure why.. just the angle, the sail, nice blue sky? who knows. I like. 

Had to wake up at 6am the other day after finishing work at 9:30 (2130) not fun. Had to cover the morning markets in Gladstone, was hating life, too early, too cold and not enough sleep, but I did manage to get a nice shot of this young girl helping her mum grab groceries in the morning. Nice colours, nice light and a beautiful smile doesn't hurt either.

These two boys happened by chance, I was in Lowmead (2hrs from GLA) doing a shoot on Trial Bike riding, on the way home I saw a goat in the middle of the road, sitting under a street sign minding his own business, I immediately pulled over (as you do upon seeing a goat in the road) and started snapping away, these two boys came out and I asked if it was their goat. It wasn't theirs but their aunties, so i was like "right, lets get a photo with the goat!" unfortunately in the boys excitement they startled the goat so he ran away.. seeing that I told them i'd photograph them, I had to find another cool photo we could use, luckily their dog which was also walking around on the street, came over and we used him as a prop instead.

Gotta love random happenings.


Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21

It's been a pretty slow week so I don't have too much to show. I mentioned in my last post about the fatal that I photographed, so I guess I may as well start off from there.

This was a pretty tragic accident. The ute, on the right, took on some traffic, crossed some double lines, tried to take over the cars, saw some incoming traffic and swerved back into the lane he was originally in. When he got back in the lane he swiped another car, hit a truck then went head on into this van. The driver of the van died instantly with the ute driver surviving. The van is covered up with tarps as the driver was still inside upon our arrival.

I find it strange that amongst all this carnage and death, it looks so peaceful and beautiful in the background. The low setting sunlight gives the grass a beautiful golden shimmer.

You can see by the markers the car skidded a long distance before finally hitting the van. 

The beauty of photography is that it has the power to lie. Unlike video or moving images, photographers capture an instance, a moment in time. This image appears as the police man is taken by the scene and he leaves with his hand over his mouth. The truth is, he's coughing. That's it. Being news photographers is a pretty powerful position, we have the power to shoot an image in a different light and be biased the way it looks and tell a completely different story. 

I didn't actually shoot that much from this fatal. At other accidents i've been at I normally shoot the crap out of it. Lots of different angles and views, but for this one, it was different. I came back to the office and I think I only had about 10-12 images. Not as many as usual. Enough of the fatal. 

Went to a small town the other week called Builyan. There's a main street, a few houses and a school. The school has 20 students from prep - year 7. This is the Principle teacher Damien Hoare, we were promoting the town and I guess we started at the school. Really nice school considering it's out in the bush. 

Nothing too special in this shot. Just the local pub in Builyan. 

Last week we did a story about people who have a phobia for dentists, can't remember what it's called but its something like dentophobia. something along those lines. We wanted to make a menacing looking photo of the dentist and we asked him to put on some scary props to add to the image. He popped on some head piece and magnifying glasses that make him look super creepy. He gave a good facial expression too that really helps. I placed the flash under the Dentists face which sorta gives him a scary shadow behind him but also adds shadows on his face that make him look freaky. Kinda like when you put a torch under your chin when telling ghost stories. I had a bit of fun back in the office and shopped one up just for fun. 

This is Hippo. Not his real name but he goes by the name. He is planning to ride around Australia to build awareness of cancer. The plan is to raise funds so he can build houses for families who are dealing with cancer. Kind of like the Ronald McDonald houses, but they have an age limit, where people who are under a certain age are allowed to stay there. He wants to build houses for adults and not just children. He wanted to do it as he lost his wife a few years ago to cancer. He wasn't allowed to live in the Ronald McDonald houses as his wife was not a child. People need to be with their loved ones when they are going through a tough time in their lives.

Last image. nothing too special. 

Promoting some gallery that is opening in the next few months.

I'm done. There isn't really much to say this post. Been a quiet few weeks. Bit uninspired. Hopefully the next few weeks will be more exciting and I can give you some more photos! until next time.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Horsin' Around.

There's a reason for the title, last week, or maybe the week before, I attended the Calliope Campdraft. What is campdraft? I'm not too sure exactly either, but what I saw was guys and girls on horses chasing cows and making them run a circuit for points. Essentially like herding cows, pretty good fun, nice country folks out there too. The event ran for two days and I spent a lot of hours there taking snaps, luckily I had a pretty quiet week that week and could afford to sit around and watch all the action.

Never realised how majestic, powerful, graceful and intelligent animals horses were, like, i've always known horses are pretty cool, but seeing them just herd up these animals and literally get in the way of these angry, scared cows and take hits from them, they truly are dedicated animals. I'm sure a lot of it has to do with the skill of the rider too, but these horses. Really very impressive. 

 I did feel kind of bad for these cows, beasts, as the locals would call them. The cows are brought into a pen, and the horse and rider have X amount of time to pick out a cow they want in the herd, and try to single it out. Once the cow has been singled out, they have to give a call to the guys who open the gate, the cow runs out the gate and the horse and rider has to guide the cow around an obstacle course in order to score points.

SO yeah, that's my horse day. Was really a lot of fun. Before I forget, I have one more horse, but not related with the campdraft.

This guy and his horse got into the finals of Polocrosse in Qld. Polocrosse = polo x lacrosse.

So that's the end of my horses, what else have I been up to? There was a dance performance I attended a few weeks ago. Dance Around the World. Sort of like.. a whole bunch of performers who dance according to different countries. If that makes sense. So, lots of traditional dance and costumes. That's what it was at first, until it became a lot of interpretive dancing.. then I got a bit confused.. any way, photos.

I like how you can immediately tell which ones are the interpretive dancing performances...

There have been a fair few accidents in GLA lately, I think I covered 3 in a week, which is basically how many I've covered in 7 months of being here, now i've doubled that amount in a week. 2 crashes were non fatals, with the third being a fatal on the highway. I haven't got any photos from the fatal, as i've left them at work, but i'll put those up in my next post hopefully, if I remember.

This crash here was a head on at a T-intersection, don't know who was at fault, but all i'll say is that there was a P plater involved. Actually, thinking back, that fatal was caused by a P plater too - who didn't die, killed a 54 year old minding his own business. They're the worst ones.

Just to be clear, i'm not sure if this guy was involved or not, I just like his expression at the scene. One person was sent to hospital with head injuries. There was a massive head crash on the drivers side windscreen, where the person has obviously flung out from their seat and smashed their head on the windscreen. Not wearing a seatbelt maybe? no idea. 

From car crashes to sport, stock standard. I like how before I started this job I have ZERO sport in my portfolio. I'd say that a good 40-45% of my folio now is sport related. All news agencies want sport in their folios. Can't ay I don't have enough now.. Anyway. Sport. Rugby Union. 

This one was pretty scary. I had done a similar shot in my older post with some girls hitting the hockey balls at me as I stood behind the net, however, this one was scary cos she was good, and she hurled that ball right at my face. Even though i'm behind a net, seeing that ball come straight down the lens is a little nerve racking. The goals have a metal base, so when the ball slams into it, it makes one HELL of a noise. Earplugs were the way to go on this shoot. lucky I always have some in my bag.

 I really like this shot for a lot of reasons. The look of him, the light and the ball. But for all the things I do like about it, I hate that it's in his backyard. Why? cos he had just finished school and couldn't get to a local rugby park, I wish we had more time so i'd drive him to one to get the shot, but, doesn't matter.

That's about i for me. Thanks for reading =]

until next time,


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I seem to go missing a lot.

Sorry guys and those who happen to gaze upon my blog from time to time. I said earlier in the year that I would be more consistant with my blog postings, as you can see, it's been a lie.. i've been AWOL for a few weeks.. more than a few really, but it's been a really busy 5-6 weeks lately. I've shot a LOT and i'll try to give you all a glimpse of all the good stuff from this busy period.

The majority of my shoots these past few weeks have been the Title fight boxing match we had in Gladstone, which i'll get around to uploading soon, as well as Harbour Festival - pretty much the biggest thing in Gladstone. I'll get to those in a second, got to start from the start and before all that!

Kids athletics. I wanted to try something different and shoot it at a low angle and really show off the clear blue skies and the kids jumping in the air. I had a few typical telephoto shots which i didn't like that much, they just looked like every other sports photo out there. I really like wide angle photos and i've been using it for nearly everything lately, even sports.

A few weeks ago there was the shave for a cure campaign that i'm sure most of you are aware of. This girl who managed to raise over $3000 in over two weeks shaved all her hair off as well, all for a good cause.

Hard enough having to shave all your hair off, but to have to do infront of the whole school, that takes some real guts.

My favourite photo from the day, capturing real emotion and feeling within the frame. After she shaved her head she ran to her best friend and gave her a big hug.

There isn't too much to this photo, I just like it. This is the President of the Aviary and Bird Society of Gladstone, can't remember the name exactly, but it's something along those lines. He's just feeding this little budgerigar with a spoon which I found really cute. I was experimenting with a light modifier i had made with my flash, where i basically get a bit of black felt and mask off the unnecessary stray light that comes from my flash and direct it against a wall that creates nice soft light. ie. in this photo.

So by this point I think i've skimmed through most of the stuff before Harbour Festival, which like i said before is one of the biggest events in Gladstone. It runs for about a week and it has fete rides, showbags, fireworks, food etc etc. Basically like the Melbourne show, but with a large emphasis on the Harbour and water. To be honest, I kind of expected more, but i guess coming from Melbourne, it's hard to compare. Apples and Oranges, but not to say i didn't have fun, it really was good fun.

There were fireworks on most nights which was good to go and explore different angles and vantage points for shooting fireworks. This is along the mouth of the harbour, I'll try and find the other photos I took and post them up next time.

Like a lot of events there was a lot of music and a lot of performances. These next few photos are a mixture of Battle of the Bands, Youth Talent Quest, Talent Quest, Australian Artists such as Adam Harvey, Kate Cook from Australian Idol, Liam Burrows from Australia's Got Talent and other great shows such as the Buddy Holly musical.

I'd never had too much experience shooting concerts or live shows but I quite like it. It's damn hard with the shifting lights, those damn coloured lights which cause nasty colours and bleed out the images HARD. Trying to meter in these conditions is also pretty tricky, most of the shooting i did was with the spot meter, just to make sure their faces weren't blow out but also trying to balance the ambient lighting in the background as well. Turned alright I reckon.

Of course besides the music there are rides and fun stuff, kids having fun, riding rides, parents paying $10 a ride.. thats right.. $10 a ride.. damn.. Makes the Melbourne show look cheap as.. But good on them. What I enjoyed about shooting Harbour Festival was the freedom to shoot some more candid documentary styled photos, no more posing, standing there socials. I've always been a believer in candids and think they would sell a hell of a lot more than just socials.

For the past 5 weeks I haven't used my 28-70 at all. I mean, not even once. The last time I used it was during the boxing title fight, that was the 17th of March. Why I haven't used it I don't exactly know. 28mm is a nice focal length on the full frame but I guess i'm just a sucker for really wide angles. I've been using the 16-35 - although limiting to a degree in terms of f-stop and focal length, i've seem to make do with it. Moving in closer to a subject if need be to get that 'shot' I reckon the close you are to the subject, the more connection you feel with them. really dig it. Most of the shots below are 16-35 except the girl in the train. 50mm 1.4. love that lens too, just EATS light, paired with the D3s..

This last photo is one of my favourites, it's not 100% sharp, but given the situation I was in, where the only light to light her up was some very dim stage lights and the projector light from behind, i think it turned out quite nicely. Luckily for me she didn't move for the 1/3rd of a second i needed to expose this.

I shot the shit out of harbour festival, i think in the 5 days it ran for i would have easily shot over 3000 photos. definitely not good. Coming back from my holiday and being "out of it" for 12 days coming back to shoot was a lot harder than I thought. Before I left i would shoot the bare minimum. Shoot about 10 -12 frames per sitting, making editing a lot easier when time is tight. My first day back, shot nearly triple that. Must've been the nerves.

Last few days I had my first real adventure since being at the Gladstone Observer. I was called up at 9am on my day off and told to meet at the airport for a fatal that had happened on the highway. Immediately I lept out of bed and raced on down to the airport. I had the opportunity to sit in a little prop plane and fly over the crash site and take some snaps. Unfortunately It was a fatal, but on a photographic stand point. It was fun.

The life we live as news shooters is full of contradictions and juxtapositions. One's pain and suffering is good footage for us..

Head on with a fuel tanker at 100km/h never ends well. I would have loved to have been on the ground for this shoot, but being in a plane is still a good fun adventure. While I was up there I had to photograph a bulldozer that fell into a hole at the coal terminal. This was a nicer story. No one died.

I really enjoy shoots where I have time to play around and experiment. This shoot was for the front page where we needed shots of these girls to promote the new hockey ground that we have in Gladstone. $1mil + field.

I had a few stock standard shots of the girls together and if I was pushed for time, I would have left it at that. Luckily for me, it was the last shoot of the day so I could sit around and play with some ideas that I wanted to experiment with. I used the D300s for these photos and set up my wireless flashes behind the girls and fired them when the girls swung for the ball. The reason I had the flashes behind my subject was that I used the sun as my main light source - their face side. The light from behind is quite subtle, but noticeable enough. The lights just ensure they are not in complete shadow on the dark side.

I stood behind the net - for safety reasons - as they fired some hockey balls at me. The only direction I gave them was. "Aim for me, it'll look better." If i go back and shoot pro hockey players, i'll definitely use this technique again.

Alright, i'm nearly finished with this post! just a few more photos and you should be up to date.. should be..

I've never shot in a cemetery before, I would never have had the guts to do so, but that's exactly what I did last week. They had a cemetery walk as part of the Genealogy Society and basically people went around learning about some of the people who once lived in GLadstone. I must say I kind of did enjoy it. It was a real real challenge to try and shoot and more importantly, get correct exposure in a cemetery that has ZERO lights except for stray ambient street lights and the flash lights they walkers were carrying.

I quickly snapped this shot as the girl turned and was reading the tombstone in front of me.

Again, 16-35 f4, which kinda sucks in these situations, kinda wish I had the 17-35 f2.8 sometimes, but I think Vibration Reduction is more valuable than 1/2 a stop of light. I'll make do, it's worked for me so far. As you can see. The D3s eats light. Love it.

Sport, yeah stock standard.

And to finish off, kids playing with bubbles! ok.. that is about it.. that was a long post.. took me 2hours to write it.. granted, i've been piss farting around..

Alright, hope you all enjoy, i'll get those boxing photos up soon, but before I leave, i'll give you a bit of a teaser..


Until next time (hopefully not too long)