Sunday, March 24, 2013


Jr BMX riders. Sony, NEX, 5n, MIR24n, 1/30th, 100iso @f2.8

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Potbelleez

I was reluctant to go to see the Potbelleez last night. Why? i'm not sure, most people would jump at the chance to go photograph a well known Australian band, but not me, I wasn't in the mood.

Luckily my friend Emily convinced me and I went - damn glad I did end up going. I was never a die hard Belleez fan but i'd definitely heard their stuff before, but man, their set - on fire. They rocked it. Probably one of the best live performances i've seen for a long long time.

The shoot was primarily for the paper so naturally I was packing the D4 w/ 24-70 - my workhorse. But, seeing how much I love my little NEX I brought that along too with the Mir24N, probably the first proper run i'd given it since picking it up.


I've thrown in a mix of b/w and colour because of the crazy coloured lights they had for the show. Personally I like the b/w but sometimes I feel that colour adds a bit more interest to the photo too. Each to their own.

The 5n certainly performed a lot better than I expected it to. I've used it to shoot shows before but for some reason it seemed to handle the images better this time, maybe it's the lens - could be imagining it.
One thing that mirrorless cameras still can't beat SLR's for is autofocus, switching from D4 - NEX you really appreciate how damn good the AF system on the D4 really is. The ability to snap focus within the blink of an eye in pretty crappy lighting is impressive.

Some people love the EVF but i'm still a bit of a traditionalist and love the OVF. There are times where I love the EVF more, weird angles, in bright daylight etc, but when it gets dark, I really love the OVF. Sometimes I get a little disorientated when looking through the EVF for too long, but I can peep through the OVF all day - or night rather - long.





Although EVF sometimes bugs me, it was ok last night. I find that if I stare at it for too long it does strain the eyes a little, like staring at a computer screen for too long. ANYWAY away from the EVF, this lens is sharp. All the photos I took that night were shot wide open at f2.

Like I mentioned last time, I love the focal length of 50mm equiv.




The lens let me down a few times due to the stiff focus, but nothing extreme to make me throw the lens in the bin.

I was pretty surprised/happy with the RAW files from the NEX considering the conditions I was shooting in. I rarely shoot JPEG with the NEX, mainly because I hate Sony colours. I don't know why, but the colours that usually come straight from the camera are weird. Really magenta and not pretty.


I know this is nothing new, but RAW files are pretty damn amazing. This photo, originally was completely blue. I mean, BLUE, just by sliding the colour balance it makes the photo look normal, I know it's nothing new but I find it amazing how far we've come in camera technology.



Anyway, i've blabbed on long enough, hope you enjoyed the photos, I certainly had a blast shooting it. Definitely impressed with this little camera and the Mir24n.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Winners are grinners.

Everyone loves winning. I recently won a bet with a work colleague and the prize was $100AUD. Being a nice guy, I thought $100 would be a bit tough for a poor journalist to fork out. I made her cook me dinner instead..

Nikon D3s, MIR24n, 1/60th, 5000iso @f2


Nikon D3s, MIR24n, 1/60th, 5000iso @f2.

Monday, March 18, 2013

How to: Panning

My friend and budding photographer Hari ased me last week to write a little post about panning - so here I am and this is how I do it.

Panning is a technique that I really love and like to use it whenever I can to add the feeling of motion and energy into a shot. There are certainly times when panning is more effective than other times and I tend to only pan sparingly. 


Panning doesn't work for all shots and there is definitely a time and place when to pan. As a news photographer i'm usually pretty tight on time, required to shoot off a few frames within minutes sometimes. Panning takes time and a lot of practice to get right. Rarely do you ever decide to pan a photo and get perfect results instantly. 

The hardest thing about panning is keeping at the same pace as your moving subject. If you move too slow or too fast, your subject becomes blurry and you end up with a whirl of crazy colours and nothing really usable - arty yes, but usable for news, no. 


Shutter speed is another important factor when it comes to panning and dragging the shutter. I've found that 1/15-1/30th is pretty sweet, depending on what i'm shooting and how fast the subject is moving. There isn't really a rule to it, I just find that anything under 1/60th gives pretty good results while panning. 

Panning too long a time, you risk losing your subject in a mix and blur of colours, pan to short a time, your subject becomes static and blurry, defeating the purpose of panning. 


Practice practice practice to get your panning technique right. The reason why I don't spend too much time on it whilst on jobs is that there is a high rate of crap photos. Photos that are either too blurry or just not sharp at all. In a situation where you have only one chance, panning is a ballsy move, but if you pull it off, you're a super star. I generally like to use it for sports as it really accentuates the feeling of movement and speed. 


Although this is shot on a different angle, this image is not bad, it's a karting shot, stock standard and you lose the 'speed' and adrenaline in the shot. It looks static, you as the viewer have no idea if they were zooming past or just having a leisurely drive on the track, that is one of the reasons I love panning. 


 I mentioned earlier that panning takes a lot of practice and sometimes you need more than a few shots to get the perfect panned photo. This is a good example of how little margin you have to play with when you're panning. In this image, the background is blurry and smooth - tick. the exposure is correct - tick, but our rider is not sharp - big fat cross. 


This image is taken only a few seconds later. It ticks all the boxes and if you want to be anal, yes, the rider is blurry too, however his head and helmet are tack sharp, and usually that's what does it for me. This image shows off the movement and speed of the rider in the shot. 


Another example of panning vs not panning. This photo I quite like, the rider is high up on the dirt bank and it's a pretty cool photo, however, looking at this photo, you have no sense of action, it's just a 'cool' shot. When shooting sports, 95% of my shots are like this ^ static as there is less chance of stuffing up and in a pressure situation, you sometimes only get one chance, i'd rather get the shot than miss it. It may not be as exciting or artistic, but it's still the shot. Better safe than sorry. 

I'll be honest with you, I hate shooting roller derby and for a few reasons. It's one of those games/sports where I have NO idea what is going on, it's frantic it's fast paced and generally, shot in really crappy lighting conditions. High ISO, crappy lights = yuk, but, I don't mind panning in it as it really adds a new perspective when you look at other roller derby photos.


So pretty short and sweet How To: this time but to basically sum it up. Here are my rules for panning:
  1. Keep your shutter speed between 1/15th - 1/30th
  2. practice. A lot. 
  3. A longer lens usually exaggerates the sense of movement and speed - but is harder to keep subjects sharp throughout the pan.
  4. I find shooting in Manual a lot better.
  5. Don't pan everything, a few pans is a good way to break up sports photos but personally I wouldn't like to see too many of them in a sports spread.
So that's it.

Short and sweet!



Sunday, March 17, 2013

Thirty-one

Industrial landscape #5. Sony NEX, 5n, MIR24n, 20s, 200iso @f2.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thirty

I never realised how long 30 days was until I started this 365 project. It hasn't exactly been everyday but here's my 30th. 

Industrial landscape #4. Sony NEX 5n, SEL1855, 30s, 200iso @f5


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lens review Part II: Mir 24n 35mm f2 on NEX


As the title suggest, I'm going to do another quick first impression review of this lens as my Nikon-NEX adapter finally arrived after 3 long weeks, which felt like eternity. As you can see, the lens looks rather big on the camera and yes, it is pretty big - not overly big and uncomfortable however.


Like I mentioned in my last lens review, I bought this lens specifically to be used on my NEX system. The reason I chose the 35mm is that it replicates roughly the same field of view as a 50mm on a full frame body. Having shot full frame for the past few years, i've grown to really love the FOV the 50mm gives. It's a natural feeling view, not too wide or tele, but just right for general walking around and capturing intimate moments.

So, lets get into the nitty gritty, how does it feel and handle. Well first off, the lens does make the camera lens heavy, a lot of the weight is towards the front (obviously) however it doesn't feel too unbalanced. Shooting manually with this lens, my hand is under the lens all the time anyway, so this heaviness from the lens isn't an issue.

Focussing is still an issue with this lens, not the actual mechanism - bit stiff, nothing to cry over - but it does take 2 or more FULL turns to focus from min to max focussing distance. This can be an issue when doing quick focus pulls, as it is impossible to focus that distance within one turn of the ring. My focus is a bit stiff, but i've heard that many Russian lenses are a bit stiff anyway, might have to let it sit in the sun one day and see if that loosens the grease up a bit.

So far the image quality from this lens is awesome. Like i mentioned last time, i'm not scientific lens tester, if a lens is good in real world situations, it's a good lens. As you can see, it's sharp. Shooting wide at f2 is sharp enough for me anyway. Like i mentioned last time, this lens focusses very close, you'd be forgiven for thinking this was a macro shot. The lens produces nice contrast in the images which give it a bit of oomph in the images.


Due to the size of the sensor, the depth of field from this lens is a bit mreh. Obviously comparing 50mm  equivalent on a crop sensor and 50mm on a full frame sensor is like chalk and cheese and to really get a similar result i'd have to buy a 35mm f0.95/1.0? - obviously a lens that would be stupidly expensive. The below shot was shot wide open at f2 and it's not THAT bad. It renders the background out of focus quite well, but again, it's not full frame.


Like i said, the field of view is quite comfortable and very easy to adapt to. The 50mm equivalent is one of my favourites due to its low level of distortion, making it very easy to keep verticals straight. The 50mm also renders a very natural field of view, replicating human vision nearly.



Getting closer to subjects does a good job at blurring out the subjects and really shows off the advantages of having a relatively fast lens. Like I said, incredibly close focussing distance on this lens makes shots like this possible without having to move back and forth.



NOW time for the kicker. I have a 35mm lens already. I have a 35mm lens that's smaller, faster aperture, smoother focus and lighter, so why did I buy another 35mm?


My beloved Fujian 35mm f1.7. This lens has always been my go to lens when going out on social occasions to photograph my adventures. It's small, light, inconspicuous, very cheap and very easy to focus, so what gives? why buy another one. For one simple reason. Spherical focus. The Fujian suffers from spherical focus (ps probably a word i made up), which is basically where the plane of focus in the lens is uneven.


In my crappy diagram, the rings try to illustrate how the focus on the Fujian is. The red in the centre shows the area that has sharpest focus and the outer rings try to demonstrate how focus falls off not in in a straight line like normal lenses, but in a circular pattern that is very unique to this lens, almost Holga/toy lens like.

This effect is negligible when shooting subjects up close, where the effect actually adds to the image and can make portraits look really nice and dream like.


So, as you can see, kind of, when up close to your subject, the spherical focus really exaggerates the focus and makes the lens look like it's shooting at f1.4 or something crazy like that. 

For a clearer example. I've posted these photos below. The Mir 24n, although not super sharp in the corners, GREATLY outperforms the Fujian hands down. The lens has relative corner sharpness and I can shoot distant objects without losing a whole lot of image quality and having the image ruined by spherical focus. 

Mir 24N

Fujian 35mm.

This frustration is pretty much the only reason I bought the Mir. Although I love bokeh and love getting in close to my subjects, there ARE times when you just need to shoot subjects further away than a few meters. Sure, I could stop down, but I love shooting wide open. sue me if you disagree. If you mainly shoot your subjects dead centre of frame, then you have no problem, but like most people, I do like uneven composition every now and then, and from the picture above, you can clearly see how it would be near impossible to have anyone in the corners sharp. Definitely unusable.

Now i'm not bashing the Fujian and saying that it's a sh*t lens, it's absolutely not. It's actually bloody sharp. Can you tell which one was shot with which lens? Most likely not.



So, back to the Mir. It's pretty big.


Although i haven't had a lot of time to play with this lens, i'm already really happy with it - overall. Hopefully over the next few days and nights i'll have more time to take some more real world examples and really show off the full potential of this lens. 

My final thoughts of this lens (for now): 

Pros: 
- Good FOV on the NEX system, very comfortable and easy to adapt to.
- Nice bright f2.0 lens, eats up 1 extra stop of light over a 2.8 lens. 
- Solid design, feels like it's built to last. 
- Extremely close minimum focussing.
- Sharp sharp sharp.
- Cheap for its focal length and aperture size. 

Cons:
- Heavy - can make the camera feel uneven if holding it with one hand.
- Focus takes 2 - 3 full turns to focus the whole focus range - not very suitable for video.
- Focus is a bit stiff - may need to warm up, but still. 

So these are the pros and cons i've noticed so far, i'm sure a few things will change along the way within the next few weeks and months when I hope to really put this lens through it's paces. And hey, if I really don't like this lens, at least i'll have a 35mm f2 for the D3s.  =D 

That's it for now, hopefully it's shed a bit of light on people wanting to buy this lens for their NEX setup, definitely a good buy if you can get it at a good price!







Monday, March 11, 2013

Twenty-nine.

Industrial landscapes #3. Sony NEX, 5n, SEL1628, 25s, 100iso @f4.

Twenty-eight


Industrial Landscape #2. Sony NEX 5n, SEL1628, 30s, 200iso @f4

Keeping with the industrial landscape theme, I ventured down to the wharf and tried to find some interesting geometrical shapes and colours to contrast against the clear skies over Gladstone. I was immediately drawn to the colours of the shipping containers and how precisely they were stacked on top of each other.

My idea of industrial landscapes is to try and capture the juxtaposition of industry and natural landscape. I'm choosing to photograph these images at night as I feel that the black night sky compliments well with the sometimes highly colourful industrial objects and machinery. By shooting at night I can somewhat maintain a bit of continuity in the series by having the sky a similar shade all the time.

We'll see how we go..

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Twenty-seven


Industrial landscape #1. Sony NEX 5n, SEL1628, 30s, 400iso @f2.8


It's been a while since i've gone out at wee hours of the night to go and take photos - it certainly is nice to get back into it.

I've always been interested in landscape photography, I may not've been very good at it, but always enjoyed it. I'm (un)fortunate enough to live in a mining town, so there is never a shortage of of subjects to photograph. I've always been interested in 'industrial landscapes' trying to capture beauty of some sort in often cluttered and not-so-pretty industrial work sites.

I was lucky enough to be able to 'wander' into this worksite tonight and roam around and take photos as I pleased. Whether I was trespassing or not is a different story, i'll assume that I wasn't.. The photo gods were on my side tonight and left me with a perfectly clear sky to capture the milky way in the skies above my rock pile.

I was drawn to this pile as it reminded me of the sand dunes in the Sahara, the way the pile would naturally form beautiful shapes and the way the light from across the street fell on my subject. I tried to capture the shadows on the pile to add depth and contrast into the shot, or else i'd have been left with a pretty flat and boring pile of dirt but a nice sky.

Hope you enjoy.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

An ode to my unsung inspirations.

26/365



This is going to be a different type of photo for my 365. Some of you may like it, some of you wont. When I was at uni my mate Donald used to say that my worked was heavily influenced by Martin Parr and Mark Power, which I would often reply in distain with certain expletives that are better left to the imagination as I found their work to be boring, uninspiring.

To say that my work reminded my mate of Martin Parr and Mark Power made my blood boil, as an enthusiastic and up and coming documentary photography student at RMIT, I wanted to be nothing like those two, I wanted to be like Oculi and Ashley Gilbertson. Photojournalists, documentary photographers documenting social issues in the world, seeing the unseen, spreading news and imagery in the world, making a difference - oh how the times have changed.

Mark Power and Martin Parr are different in the world of photojournalism/documentary photography. They have a very, stand-offish approach to photography. Yes they will get in close occasionally and get that shot, however, as a whole, they document the environment, they capture the whole scene. The beauty in their photography is that it makes you look into the image. Their images are sometimes quite picturesque and look like paintings, some of their work reminds me of 'Where's Wally' - Martin Parr in particular - as he captures the whole scene, such as a beach, and makes you look into the image to see what it is that he's seen that is so special. At a glance it looks like nothing, a snap shot, but the more you look, the more you explore the image, you realise how good it really is.


source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-mINHsPDn3o0/TfruCsrqkCI/AAAAAAAAPa8/Vc5L-4KS4KA/s1600/P1070003.JPG

I don't know what it is, perhaps my subconscious, but my work (personal) really is inspired by these two. My style of photography is very observant, I like to capture a scene as a whole, I like to see what else is happening in the frame, not just the subject. Hard to imagine now that these two photographers I once snubbed off as hack photographers who didn't belong in Magnum, have now become my idols. Lesson is, never judge too early.. 

Mark Power.

Mark Power.

Martin Parr. 

So lets just get things clear, I don't claim to be as good as Parr or Power, nor do I claim that my image is anything like theirs - it certainly is not - however, there are aspects of it, that are influenced heavily by them. 

Hope you enjoyed a trip down memory lane with me, will hopefully have some more Parr/Power 'inspired' images in the future!


Sources:

- http://www.caravanmagazine.in/sites/default/files/imagecache/galleria_image/Martin-Parr-2.jpg
- http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Arts/Arts_/Pictures/2010/6/9/1276097665176/Mark-Powers- photograph-of-001.jpg
- http://www.fotopolis.pl/galeria/Warszawa.-February-2005.jpg