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The Bachelorette – a little photo story from an available light portrait workshop yesterday using the Olympus mZD 75mm f/1.8 lens

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

I rarely shoot portraits and so when an opportunity came up for an outdoor available light workshop yesterday on an afternoon in the harsh Australian sun when only crazy people shoot portraits, I just had to attend.

The Australian sun in spring and summer is high in the sky casting dark shadows on eyes and is not easy to work with – most fashion photographers shooting outdoors would only shoot in the early morning or late afternoon to catch a more flattering sun angle or just the glow from the sky after the sun has set.

Why do workshops?

Photography is a life long learning experience and by attending workshops you get to experience new ideas and experiment with them as well as network with like minded people. Another great benefit is that with a few people attending the costs of model and hair and make up artist time becomes more affordable for non-commercial photographers like me and this makes them attractive and a win-win scenario for all concerned.

This workshop was organised by a Melbourne professional photographer, Nelli Huié, who ran an excellent, well organised session and demonstrated several different styles and gave some great tips.

The brilliant actress / model was Kyla Nichole Nelson and the hair and makeup artist was Aneta Nabrdalik – both had their work cut out in the trying sunny conditions.

After perusing my images I decided to create a “Bachelorette” storyline (or perhaps it is more Mills and Boon?) to fit the emotive feel of some of my images I selected from the afternoon – a bit cheesy, but then so it is the reality TV show. The chosen images are partly to show the diversity of what we achieved and also show the talent of Kyla’s ability to morph from one emotion to another whilst still creating aesthetic poses with minimal direction, while I tried to position the camera for best subject and background interplay whilst juggling with exposure (mostly manual exposure mode), white balance and focus.

All images were shot hand held with a Olympus OM-D E-M1 Micro Four Thirds camera with my favourite portrait lens, the Olympus mZD 75mm f/1.8 with available light only – no fill-in flash. The last two images used a diffuser in bright sunlight, the others were achieved with selective placement of the model amongst trees. The 1st image foreground bokeh was generated from out of focus fellow attendees in front of me which I decided to include in the shot.

Post-processing was of RAW files in Adobe Lightroom with editing mainly of removal of blemishes and some local and overall tone edits, but no skin smoothing and no sharpening other than the default sharpen for screen on export from Lightroom. No adjustments to eyes except for some lightening of her eyes in the smiling shot.

Enjoy.. and I hope they inspire you to get out and do some workshops and experiment – look for the light, always observant of how the light falls on your subject and just as important how you choose a background and how you render it with nice bokeh.

The Bachelorette:

Please, please, say yes ….

please say yes

Yes, he said yes!

yes

Today is the day, I can’t wait til he gets here:

optimism

anticipation

Typical guy, late as usual…

late

Now I’m getting worried, he should be here…

late

How could he do this to me?

glassy eyes

I couldn’t bear to live without him

sleeping beauty

Sleeping beauty waiting for another prince to come along:

sleeping beauty

Olympus OM-D E-M5 + Orbis Ring Flash + Metz Ring Flash vs the Zombies

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

The annual zombie shuffle was on again in Melbourne yesterday.

This is a very social event with thousands participating including many, many photographers and it always has a great fun atmosphere.

The zombies spend a LOT of time creating their personas and love being photographed.

It is outdoors and forecast for midday sun is a bit of a nightmare for getting great shots, and you generally only get 5-10 secs to compose and get your shot with each zombie before the photographer horde gets in your way.

This year I decided to take a different approach and did a bit of testing the day before so I could shoot with a main flash light inside an Orbis Ring Flash Modifier to create an off-camera beauty dish effect, supplemented with a Metz macro “ring” flash on the lens as a fill flash.

To deal with a potentially sunny background and the desire for a wide aperture, I used a polarising filter and manual flash via PC sync cables which allowed me to push the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera to 1/400th sec shutter speed – this does result in a small part of the “top” of your frame not being lit by the flash – no problem if there is no subject there!

The ambient exposure was intentionally under-exposed, and by using CTO gels on the flashes with custom WB for the CTO gelled flash, this gave a lovely deep blue background – at least when the sunlit areas was not in the background.

Most were shot at ISO 200, f/1.8, 1/400th sec. Metz flash was on 1/16th output. I used a Canon 580EX II flash in the Orbis Ring Flash (I could have used my Olympus FL50 instead with same effect), and this needed to be fired at almost full output.

All of these were taken with the nice little Olympus mZD 45mm f/1.8 portrait lens, – although tethered to the Orbis Ring Flash and thus relatively confined to being 1.5m or so from the subject was a little limiting – but I knew that would be the case. I could make the subject lighter or darker by moving the Orbis flash closer or further from the subject.

However, given the rather clunky way the Orbis needs to be held in one hand, have a light, compact OM-D in the other hand was an essential component to the success of this technique – and I did what I rarely do – use Live View on the rear screen instead of the EVF even though the screen was blurry to me (I need reading glasses for it) – I was able to compose at arms length and let the amazing eye detection AF do its job – but being mindful of te fact that some zombie’s eyes cannot be detected in which case I locked AF using the centre AF region and half-press shutter button, then recomposed.

The first shot of the day was something I had pre-planned the night before and required a different set of maths to work out, but in only 2 shots, I managed to come up with this awesome image:

Zombie coming through the time space portal attacking a zombie killer ready with her laser gun:

claw

Zombie laser gun:

zombie killer

Zombie bride:

zombie bride

Cute retro zombie:

retro zombie

Zombie guy:

zombie guy

 

As with any relatively small light source, the light from the Orbis is very directional and relatively harsh, so if shooting portraits, you should ideally avoid oily skin and ensure some face powder has been used to avoid unflattering specular reflections from the skin.

The Orbis could also be used as a true ring flash with the lens protruding through the flash to give that typical shadowless fashion look with soft shadows surrounding the subjects on the wall behind. This usage can be great for emphasising creative makeup and colours while de-emphasising skin texture but may not be flattering for all subjects, particularly those with fuller faces. Be aware that this may produce red eyes with the light being so close to the lens axis.

More details on key shifting and color shifting using flash can be found here.

Killing time in the botanic gardens with the Olympus mZD 60mm f/2.8 macro lens

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

What do you do when you have an hour or so to kill and you are in the CBD of a city such as Sydney?

Head for the botanic gardens for a relaxing walk and see what you can find.

As long as it is not windy, you can use the time to search for subjects for your macro lens – be warned, even the slightest movement of a plant will make your subject blurred unless you use a flash.

It was a very overcast day in low light so I was thankful I had the Olympus OM-D E-M5 with its 5-axis image stabiliser to help out with this hand held shot without flash in very low light using the lovely, light and very sharp Olympus mZD 60mm f/2.8 macro lens:

Australian native long legged fly

This dainty little metallic blue and green Australian fly is the long legged fly (Austrosciapus connexus) – which is mainly found along the east coast of Australia, Adelaide and Perth but not in southern Victoria or Tasmania.

And here are a few cacti that caught my attention:

cactus flower

cacti

cacti

And a water lily using the awesome Olympus 75mm f/1.8 lens at f/1.8:

water lily

This macro lens is fantastic, not only because it is incredibly sharp, and it has focus range limiters for faster AF which, by the way is very fast, and it is image stabilised in 5 axes by the E-M5, but it is so light and small you don’t even notice you are carrying it in your bag, and your hands don’t start shaking from its weight as you try to hold it steady for the shots.

Most of us no longer need to carry big, heavy dSLR cameras and lenses

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Now that the Micro Four Thirds system is maturing, there are few photographic needs not able to be managed with this much lighter and smaller gear, while the image quality is good enough for the far majority of us, even at ISO up to 3200 and even 6400. With the Olympus M-D E-M1, there is also now fairly fast tracking autofocus for either Four Thirds lenses or Micro Four Thirds lenses which is narrowing the gap with high end dSLRs even further.

These cameras are capable of great prints at least to 20″x30″ size which should be adequate for most needs and is overkill for those who just post images on the web.

The smaller and lighter size means you can get away with smaller, lighter, and cheaper tripods (if you still need them given that you can now hand hold the E-M1 with a wide angle lens to around 1 second exposures for lovely flowing water shots!).

But perhaps most important of all, the lighter weight will mean we will all do less harm to our backs carrying the gear and hopefully may reduce osteoarthritis to our spines as we get older.

Just carrying one heavy camera in one hand will cause scoliosis of the spine whilst walking and this can’t be good for you!

I thus thought it would be worth while posting some of the great images on the web taken by others (often using dSLRs, posted here under licence usage guidelines), that could easily have been taken with Micro Four Thirds.

Please click on their links to check out the other nice works by these photographers.

Enjoy!

desert

Adeeb Alan Nikon D700 230mm f/14

road to Mordor

Road to Mordor by Juan Carlos Cortin Nikon D7000 18mm f/5.6

morning fog

Morning by Filip Molcan Nikon D3 70mm f/9 1/4 sec

foggy castle

Predjama castle by Gorazd Kranjc Canon 100D EF 24-105mm f/4L lens

portrait

portrait by Paul Apal Canon 60D, 85mm f/2.8, beautifully lit with studio lights

forest fairy tale

Forest Fairy Tale by Jon Jon Photography

moonrise

Tree of Wisdom by Aaron J. Groen Canon EOS 60D, 300mm f/16, 1sec ISO 100

mountains

Yosemite Moonglow by Darvin Atkeson Nikon D800E, 36mm f/2.8, 72secs, ISO 800

owl

owl by Stefano Ronchi Canon 1D X sports dSLR 300mm f/2.8 ISO 400 1/4000th sec

This owl shot is a great example of the benefits of Micro Four Thirds, an almost identical image with similar quality, depth of field and bokeh could have been taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 which weighs 1/3rd the weight (497g vs 1,550g for the 1DX), about 1/4 the price, and then add in the lens, the Canon 300mm f/2.8 will weigh about  2550g and cost about $US6,800 while the Olympus ZD 150mm f/2.0 will offer the same telephoto reach, better IS and only slightly more depth of field for around $US2400 and weighs in at only 1600g (Olympus will probably make a Micro Four Thirds version in 2014-2015 which will be even lighter, be less expensive and have faster AF as it will also have CDAF compatibility plus silent AF for movies).

Difference between the 2 kits:

  • Canon 1DX + 300mm f/2.8L II = $US13,000 and weighs 4100g plus you need a big heavy tripod as it is not hand holdable
  • Olympus E-M1 with ZD 150mm f/2.0 = $US3900 and weighs 2100g – easily hand holdable even for long periods, and you could potentially hand hold it for HD video

Now if you wanted to catch birds in flight, the Canon 1D X may do a much better job given it will have faster phase detect AF with more points, and the burst rate is 12fps compared with 6.5fps with AF, but it won’t be long before Olympus comes out with a camera that will compete even with this – the technology is changing so fast for mirrorless cameras. The Canon has 2 other main advantages over the E-M1 – shallower depth of field options especially at wide angles and with zoom lenses, and the option of radio wireless TTL flash instead of light-based remote TTL flash. But if you don’t need these particular functions, the E-M1 will do the job much more cost effectively and you will have more fun as it is much lighter and less intrusive.

So if you are not aware of how good the latest Micro Four Thirds cameras are, do yourself and your back as well as your wallet a favour and check them out.

HOWEVER, no matter how good your camera is, it is just like a grand piano – you do need to learn how to play it to get the most out of it!

Tips for better Christmas party indoor photos – all you need is a Micro Four Thirds camera, pancake lens and a flash

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

Indoor Christmas party photos can be a very trying issue for the social photographer.

Sure you can use a point and shoot digital with its built-in flash and get the usual shots, but what about aiming for a bit more flattering portraiture without taking a studio lighting kit with you?

My favorite indoor party camera kit is the following:

  • a compact unobtrusive Micro Four Thirds camera – the smaller the better so you can carry it – try the Olympus E-P3, E-PL3, E-PM1 or Panasonic GX-1, but the larger versions such as my GH-1 or the new GH2 or G3 will be still much better than a dSLR. It MUST have a hotshoe – so the Panasonic GF-3 will NOT be a good choice!
  • a compact wide aperture lens like the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 if you will be doing mainly group shots, or the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 if you will not need to do any wide angle shots.
  • an external flash which you can swivel such as the Olympus FL-36 or FL-36R (the FL-50 will work even better but it is a bit too big for these cameras)

Now, the above kit could work well without the flash even indoors IF you have nice flattering lighting for your portraits such as window light or a light hitting the face at a 45deg angle.

More often than not, venues will have very unflattering and often quite dim lighting – downlights are among the worst for flattering portraits unless you position your subject very carefully indeed.

Faced with difficult lighting, your best option for easy to achieve nice portraits indoors is to put a nice powerful flash on your camera and swivel its head so that it bounces off the cornice region of the wall behind you or to the side of you. BUT you do need relatively light and relatively colour neutral paintwork to bounce off – if its is natural wood panels, forget this option!

Set your camera for bounced flash:

  • shoot in RAW + jpeg so you can more easily adjust white balance in Lightroom and add some nice vignette effects, etc afterwards.
  • set exposure mode to M for MANUAL EXPOSURE – this is to stop the camera choosing a shutter speed that is too long and allows the ambient light to add nasty colour casts and shadows as well as camera shake and subject movement blur to your precious photo.
  • set shutter speed to 1/160th sec (a starting point on these cameras as this is the faster shutter they can do in flash mode “the flash sync”)
  • set aperture to a nice wide aperture like f/1.7 or f/2.0 as this will help blur the background and allow you to use less flash power – if you are taking a group shot with subjects relatively close to the camera (eg. 2-3m) but at different distances (eg. closest person is 1.5m and furtherest person at 2.5m), and you want them all in focus, you may need to stop the aperture down to f/4 or so.
  • set ISO at lowest acceptable ISO (eg. 200 would be reasonable, although if you find your flash is not powerful enough, you may need ISO 400)
  • set up the flash: put flash on camera, turn flash on (remember fresh set of batteries), set flash to TTL
  • double check that your flash adjustment setting is zero (I tend to often have mine set to -1EV to -2 EV when using it for fill-in flash so don’t forget to put it back to normal as your flash will be your main light source).
  • set AF mode to face recognition
  • make sure flash is aimed at a nearby wall, ceiling or cornice that will bounce onto your subject’s face
  • and you are ready for fun!!

Here is a QUICK impromptu snap of my friends using this method at f/1.7 using the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens – my “party lens”:

portrait

If the room ambient lighting in the background is too dark for your liking, just play with the shutter speed – the longer the shutter speed using the above technique, the more ambient light you allow and the lighter the background will be.

If you are using a wide-normal lens like the 20mm f/1.7 pancake, avoid getting too close to your subjects as this will cause unflattering distortion making their noses appear larger than they are, etc, so stay at least 1.5 – 2m away, and if need be, crop your images later.

Also be careful of arms coming towards you such as resting on a chair, as these will also gain an unflattering distortion.

Your friends will be blown away with the quality of your photos – far better than point and shoot cameras with inbuilt flash and as good as dSLRs.

They will then likely say wow, what camera did you use to take those with – instead of saying what a great photographer you are – but that’s life – people treat photography quite differently to music – they would not dare say, wow, that sounded great, what brand piano did you use?

If you do not have an external flash, then you will have to settle for harsh, direct on-camera flash in the same manner as a point and shoot shot – just use the above settings but DON’T FORGET to POP UP the built-in flash!

The big group shot:

Then once everyone realises that you are a brilliant photographer capable of making them look good, inevitably you will be asked to do the group shot.

Now, in a dim room, with downlights, a group shot with minimal equipment could be hard to pull off well.

But not with the above kit and a bouncable ceiling, a great photo is easy to achieve, just step back far enough to get everyone in making sure that your flash can aim at the ceiling well in front of the group (you may need a decent flash for this or increase your ISO and open your aperture to get enough light from your flash).

 What happens when you use other exposure modes on a Panasonic GH-1 in low light indoors?

SCN mode “Party”:

  • this should do the trick shouldn’t it?
  • if you don’t put the flash up, it puts ISO = Auto ISO and you will probably end up with ISO 400 even if you have ISO limit higher than that, and if you have a f/1.7 lens, a slow shutter speed to match the ambient lighting which will most likely end up with camera shake or subject movement – not what we want unless ambient light is bright enough and your lens aperture is wide enough to allow a fas shutter speed.
  • if you put the flash up, ISO is set to 100, aperture at the widest but still shutter speed is set to match ambient just as above, so now our subject will be blurred from subject motion but combined with a sharp component from the flash – this may be a useful effect but most will not want this.

Portrait mode:

  • don’t use this indoors without a flash unless you choose “indoor portrait” otherwise ISO is set to 100, and even at widest aperture that it selects, shutter speed will be far to slow.
  • with flash up, it can be useful, ISO set to 100, aperture widest and shutter 1/30th sec and you have the option of “soft skin setting”
  • interestingly, even with the flash up, the flash does not fire using the “indoor setting”

iA exposure mode – the “dummies” mode:

  • if the flash is down, ISO will be the highest allowed as set in ISO LIMIT, aperture the widest, and this will give you the fastest shutter speed possible for the available light – if you don’t want to use flash, this is just what you want.
  • if the flash is up, ISO will be set to 100, aperture the widest, and shutter to 1/125th sec which will expose your subject well with the flash and reduce blur, while the background ambient will be under-exposed – again this is not a bad outcome indeed.

“A” exposure mode – aperture priority:

  • you should set the widest aperture for the lens
  • if the flash is down, Auto ISO setting will give the  lowest ISO to keep the shutter faster than 1/30th sec as long as ISO LIMIT is not reached due to very low light, in which case, shutter speed becomes slower and you will get subject blur.
  • if the flash is up, shutter speed will be set to 1/30th sec and Auto ISO will set ISO to 100 – this shutter speed will risk subject blur  if ambient light is bright enough.

“P” exposure mode – programmed mode:

  • aperture will be set to the widest
  • Auto ISO and shutter speed will be set as with A mode with lens at widest aperture

“S” exposure mode – shutter priority:

  • this could get you into a lot of problems in low light with flash down if you are not careful
  • with flash down, you select the shutter speed, and if ambient light allows, Auto ISO will be set to lowest (100) as first priority with aperture at the widest needed for this ISO. If there is not enough light at widest aperture and lowest ISO, the ISO will then be increased but not beyond the ISO LIMIT setting. If higher ISO than this is needed, the image will be under-exposed and the viewfinder values will flash red to indicate this. You should then choose a slower shutter speed until you are back in a possible exposure range.
  • with flash up, you can select a shutter speed but no faster than the flash sync speed of 1/160th sec. Auto ISO will set ISO to 100, and the aperture will be set to the widest available without causing over-exposure due to ambient light.

My conclusions:

  • use manual mode when using the flash up if you want control over the aperture, shutter speed and ISO but still have automatic exposure of the flash.
  • using iA mode seems a reliable option for either no flash or flash and is the probably the best option for beginners
  • avoid A mode for indoor parties as you are likely to end up with a slow shutter speed of 1/30th sec which may cause subject blur unless you specify a higher ISO setting such as 400 for indoor parties with a wide aperture lens and aperture set to the widest aperture
  • consider S mode if you want to achieve a certain blur effect from a longer shutter speed, but use Auto ISO setting
  • avoid the Party Scene mode unless you want blurred subjects when they are moving
  • if you want softer skin effect, choose Soft Portrait mode but use a flash!
  • the Indoors Portrait mode will NOT allow use of a flash!
  • there is also a creative portrait mode which allows you to alter depth of field by adjusting the aperture.

Concert photography from the back row

Friday, December 9th, 2011

We all want a little memento of the concerts we pay lots of money to attend and enjoy but taking a reasonable photo from 100m or more away is challenging given the constraints imposed by the concert venue – in particular – most only allow photos from “small digital cameras” and ban videos.

Don’t bother bringing a dSLR or large lenses – the security staff will almost certainly ask you to put it away.

Simple point and shoot cameras with their tiny sensors and minimal telephoto zoom reach are not going to get very good quality shots unless you are lucky enough to get to the mosh pit near the stage.

My solution which pushes the venue limits and may still require some discretion, in particular, you do not want security staff to be given the impression your are doing long sequences of video as that would be banned no matter what camera or lens you use.

Camera choice:

The best compromise then is a small, compact mirrorless camera with a built-in electronic viewfinder (you do NOT want to be distracting everyone with bright light coming from an LCD screen – use the viewfinder to do everything).

I use a Panasonic GH-1 Micro Four Thirds camera although even this is probably getting a bit big for venue staff – a smaller mirrorless camera such as a Olympus E-PL3 with the optional viewfinder may be a better option, and the Olympus cameras have the added benefit of built-in image stabilisation which can be useful in this situation where you will be using relatively slow shutter speeds of 1/125th second for 200-270mm telephoto reach at ISO 800.

The newer Sony NEX mirrorless cameras (eg. Sony NEX 5n or NEX 7) could be used if they have an electronic viewfinder but they have the disadvantage compared to Micro Four Thirds in that the same size lens does not give you as much zoom – and for this, you want as much telephoto reach as possible from your lens. Furthermore, they do not have built-in image stabiliser like the Olympus cameras do.

Lens choice:

Next step is to choose a lens to use which will give you enough telephoto reach without being too large that venue staff will object.

My preference is a legacy manual focus Olympus OM lens with wide aperture.

Olympus OM because they are among the most compact lenses you can get.

Manual focus lens because, I like to manually focus and then just leave it carefully in that focus position so I can just pick the camera up, turn it on and I am ready to capture a key moment without having to worry about focus – autofocus lenses may struggle in many concert lighting conditions and may cause you to miss your shot.

The Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8 lens is probably the largest lens you can get away with and this gives you sufficient telephoto reach for a large concert venue while the f/2.8 aperture allows you to keep ISO around 800 and shutter speed around 1/125th – 1/200th sec.

If you know you will be a bit closer to the stage, the Olympus OM 100mm f/2.8 lens is smaller and much more likely to be acceptable to venue staff.

Next step is to set your camera up.

Firstly make sure it will NOT be firing the flash – flash will be useless at such distances, it will drain your battery and it is really, really annoying to everyone else.

Set your ISO to ISO 800 – a lower ISO will mean shutter speed will be too slow for hand held telephoto shots and you will end up with too much camera shake.

If your camera is an Olympus, set image stabiliser to the focal length of the lens you are using – assuming it is a legacy lens such as an Olympus OM lens.

Next, set your exposure mode to MANUAL and with your lens wide open (eg. f/2.8), take a few shots at different shutter speeds until the exposure of the faces on the stage under the stage lighting looks adequate – this will be something like 1/125th sec.

Finally, use magnified view to accurately focus your lens on the stage.

Then you are ready to go.

These images have not been cropped and have not had any post-processing (except colour adjustment in the last one) other than resize to web size and the default Lightroom export sharpening for screen.

Elton John

Elton John in concert, Melbourne 2011

Taken from a long way back using Panasonic GH-1 with Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8 lens.

Elton John

Elton John

A day out in Ballarat

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny almost Spring day and I had a day trip to the old gold rush provincial city of Ballarat to view the many photographic galleries on display as part of the Biennale (see my earlier post).

In between galleries, I snuck back to my car and went for a stroll – after all, my Canon 1D Mark III dSLR has been so neglected of late because it is just so big and heavy and my Panasonic GH-1 now does almost everything I need.

So here are a few I took with the Canon 24-105mm f/4 IS L lens.

 

Tawana Lodge, the blackbird and the man waiting at the bus stop (click to view large image):

Tawana Lodge

Provincial Hotel:

Provincial Hotel

Disused weighing station at the railyards – og I love those clouds – looks like they are straight from the Simpsons:

Railyards

Panasonic GH-1 with Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 on a quick forest walk

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

On Easter Monday, I thought i would check out a local forest which was hand planted some 100 years ago in central Victorian highlands which makes it rather unique in Australia as it is mainly trees from northern hemisphere origin.

I had never been to this forest before and as it was a beautiful sunny early Autumn day, it would be great for a walk, but probably too sunny for great photographic forest landscape shots.

I only had an hour or so, so I took my beloved Panasonic GH-1 and Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 lens with the primary aim just to document ideas for shots in better lighting and when I had more time.

In stark contrast to native Australian Eucalypt forests, this man made forest of diversified trees including conifers, and oaks, had a very different ecology – most noticeable were the multitude of introduced mushroom species including the poisonous, hallucinogenic, Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) and the very weird absence of the usually omnipresent Australian native bull ant – which I must say made the walking a lot more relaxed, as no-one enjoys being stung by those ants!

Maybe the bull ants are killed by the Amanita, or they need Eucalypt habitat?

The flip out swivel LCD screen of the GH-1 was fantastic as usual for ground level work of hand held shots of mushrooms – the following two are at the closest focus of this lens and show the difference between f/1.4 (the first one) and f/2.8, – oh, and I do love native 16:9 image aspect ratio which is available on the GH-1!

at f/1.4:

f/1.4

and at f/2.8:

f/2.8

and here is a more mature Amanita muscara:

mature

and of course, I better show a sample of this lovely forest:

forest

more photos from the walk here

Panasonic GH-1 at Melbourne’s Moomba Festival hit by a once in 10 years super-cell hailstorm

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

It was a nice warm, albeit humid March day in Melbourne yesterday, so I decided to pack my Panasonic GH-1 , Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 and Olympus OM 135mm f/2.8 lens and catch the train into the city to enjoy Melbourne’s annual Moomba Festival – a nice multicultural family event – Moomba is Australia’s largest free community festival and one of the longest running festivals in Australia.

There was no evidence of storms on the horizon, not on radars.

After a bite to eat  in our great little laneway cafe’s, I headed down to the festival region along the banks of the Yarra river.

I decided to try out my OM 135mm lens wide open at f/2.8 and stood some 30-40m from this African musician – I think his name is Jali Buba Kuyateh from the online programme (I did crop this image by removing about a third):

OM 135mm

and at the BMX bike stunt competition, I used the Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 lens at f/1.4 with the lens pre-focused so I could get nicely sharp shots with relatively shallow depth of field of this lad doing a jump on his bike (again about 1/3rd cropped out):

bike stunt

Then, with little warning, all hell broke loose, with sudden onset of golf-ball sized hailstones and cyclonic wind and rain which dumped 33mm in 30min causing flash flooding and cancellation of the festival for the day – this was the most dynamic super-cell thunderstorm to hit Melbourne’s CBD in 7 years – it dumped 66mm in 30min on nearby Flemington Racecourse where the Melbourne Cup is held.

Check out this short 720p HD video I posted to YouTube at the peak of the storm using the Leica D lens from the “safety” of a crowded, small gazebo – not protection at all for the lightning strikes, but we were lucky in that regard and had no other choice for better shelter.

This is freakin’ awesome man!

freakin awesome

And that Panasonic Leica-D 25mm f/1.4 lens was freakin’ awesome too!

See more of my photos from the event here.

See photos from other people hosted on The Age here.

Will I dare go back again today given that similar storms are forecast again for today?

ps.. my website was down for several hours after this event as the storm knocked out power to my internet provider’s data centre – apologies for that!

Now when will Olympus or Panasonic introduce a weather-proofed Micro Four Thirds camera and lens?

Looking for places to photograph? Have a look at a new free global photo guide by photographers

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Have just discovered this new blog which allows photographers from around the world to post information on cool spots to photograph.

Photographers can create a Knol photo guide using Google’s Knols then submit it to the local state or regional freephotoguides administrator for approval to linking into the system.

The photographer should title the Knol: “A Photographer’s Guide to XXXXXXXX” where XXXX is the name of the location you are
describing, and the subtitle should contain your State/Region and Country eg: NSW Australia.

More information about how to be an author is in this pdf.

I am not in any way affiliated with this project – yet :)

Have fun