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Melbourne’s graffiti art with the Olympus mZD 75mm lens

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

After checking out the Zombie Walk, I decided to head home the long way and shoot some graffiti in more remote back alleys and in in some of my visual interpretations.

I decided to shoot with Micro Four Thirds and just my Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the Olympus mZD 75mm f/1.8 lens and no additional lighting this time.


The first two are obviously not graffiti, but I am throwing them in the mix for fun.









There is a bit of talent there!

Melbourne’s 1st official Zombie Walk – zombies shot with the Olympus mZD 75mm f/1.8 lens

Saturday, October 29th, 2016

Melbourne has had a very popular unofficial Zombie Shuffle for the past 11 years, and this year’s one was held last week.

But today was Melbourne’s first sponsored Zombie Walk – a great family fun day in the spring sunshine with charity proceeds going to the Brain Foundation.

It is a day for photographers to have fun shooting the zombies which have gone to considerable lengths to look the part.

I decided to shoot with Micro Four Thirds and just my Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the Olympus mZD 75mm f/1.8 lens and no additional lighting this time.









It was a great day out and fantastic to see so many having fun and being generous and patient with each other.

I don’t have to remind you how much I love that lens – although it does make it hard to get group shots in crowded situations where you can really step back too far.

The new Olympus mZD 25mm f/1.2 might be a better choice for these events!

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:


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.

Melbourne’s Peninsula Hot Springs outdoor thermal baths on one of the coldest days of the year

Friday, August 9th, 2013

I have lived in Melbourne, Australia all of my life, and until today I had never had the pleasure of making a trip down to the Peninsula Hot Springs geothermal baths on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula.

These baths have become extremely popular, perhaps too popular that many complain it is overcrowded, thus I decided to make a trip down there and book for the outdoor section on a Friday afternoon – hopefully to avoid the crowds, and particularly, families with their loud children.

The thermal baths insist that one must book ahead to avoid being turned away due to excess numbers attending, so this is what we did via their website, and decided to go for the outdoor “Bath House” section rather than the more expensive indoor and outdoor “Spa Dreaming Centre” which includes the usual Day Spa “treatments” such as massage, etc.

As we drove the 1.5hrs down there in driving rain, howling cold wind with outdoor temperatures at 9degC with a wind chill factor giving an actual skin temperature of around minus 1.5deg C (see here) – and that is assuming your skin is not wet as it would be walking from one bath to another, I must admit I was having second thoughts.

These were reinforced when we stopped near the beach to find a cafe for lunch and we hurried into the nearest cafe to get out of the rain and wind – to find a nice log fire burning – but we had came this far, so we decided to go ahead with our plans.

On arrival at the baths, the car park was full and the clients could be seen hurriedly walking with the rain coats and hoods to get inside – we must be crazy!

 The best decision was to hire a locker for our clothes and a bath robe to help us survive the walk between baths with wet skin – even though the robes would rapidly become wet in the rain as the areas supplied next to each bath to hang your robe was not sheltered from the rain coming in at an angle with the wind.

But still, the wet robes made the afternoon  pleasurable and made the break from the 36-42deg C baths into the icy wind tolerable, although the feet without sandals did get a bit cool – but this was easily addressed by quickly getting to the next bath.

A must do bath is the hilltop bath which is perched at the top of a hill with 360deg panoramic views – although not much worth seeing on such a day in the rain – and mercifully, there was just enough shelter from the wind that it was enjoyable.

Of the dozen or so baths in the outdoor “bath house” area, my favorite bath though was the “silent bath” just near the hilltop bath, as this was one bath where the many ladies attending had to stop talking and one could just relax and go into a zen mode.

There were plenty of taps for drinking water – an essential when one is spending 1-2 hours in such warm baths.

My tips for those planning on going:

  • go in cool or cold weather even in the rain or wind – you will still enjoy it and I am guessing it would be more tolerable than a hot summer day
  • go when it is not too busy – avoid weekends, school holidays and Friday evenings
  • book in advance and assume you will not be able to “upgrade” to another treatment area when you get there
  • avoid heavy meals or alcohol prior and drink lots of water while you are there
  • hire a bath robe if it is going to be windy in particular
  • if you don’t like cold feet, where thongs or sandals in cold weather
  • you do need to wear swimming bathers  in the open “public” bath house area but be aware prolonged exposure to these waters may stain or degrade them
  • it is a mobile phone free and camera free zone – please respect the privacy of others and their desire to relax without excessive noise
  • consider bring a plastic water bottle – you won’t need to bring food, and there is a kiosk if you do get hungry
  • ensure you can have a shower afterwards and apply a moisturiser as it does dry out your skin – not so good for those with atopic eczema I am guessing!

Sorry, no photos for this post, you will have to check out their website



Melbourne’s annual Open House weekend – Victoria’s State Library

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

I went into the city to photograph Melbourne’s very popular annual weekend – Open House Melbourne – where major buildings in Melbourne are open to the public and their cameras – a great time for photographers to find new material – if they can put up with the queues.

Unfortunately, this year I ran out of time to view the buildings apart from the wonderful State Library, so here are a few of the library which is well worth a visit.

These are all taken with the Micro Four Thirds kit using the wonderful Olympus E-M5 camera.

The library’s dome taken with the lovely inexpensive Samyang 7.5mm fisheye lens (click on image to view larger size):

the dome

The following were taken using the highly praised Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens hand held:

2nd edition of Machiavelli’s The Prince:
Machiavelli's The Prince

the library ceiling

Melbourne street protesters marching against PM Rudd’s new asylum seeker policy

Monday, July 29th, 2013

The recently re-instated Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd has introduced a new policy on the off-shore processing of asylum seekers coming to Australia in the run up to what appears to be a hotly contest election in the next month or two.

This policy is seen as inhumane and unjust by many, particularly, Rudd’s Labor Party core voters – those with a socialist philosophy, including unionists and the Greens – so it was interesting to see their strong feelings on this very complex matter as they staged a protest march through the streets of Melbourne this weekend, although I was in the city to photograph Melbourne’s very popular annual weekend – Open House Melbourne – where major buildings in Melbourne are open to the public and their cameras – a great time for photographers to find new material – if they can put up with the queues.

Unfortunately, this year I ran out of time to view the buildings apart from the wonderful State Library, so here are a few of the protest march which started outside the library, these are all taken with the Micro Four Thirds kit – the wonderful Olympus E-M5 camera and Olympus mZD 75mm f/1.8 lens:


protest marchers

protest marchers

protest marchers

protest marchers

Handheld night street photography with Olympus E-M5 and Panasonic 20mm pancake lens – Melbourne’s “White Night” event

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

On a warm balmy summer night, Melbourne hosted its 2nd “White Night” event of all night long cultural activities which attracted unprecedented crowds surpassing even New Year’s Eve crowds.

In such crowds a tripod is just asking for trouble, and a kit zoom lens is not going to suffice.

Many of the attractions were projected images on Melbourne’s buildings and what better way to capture these in dense crowds than to use the Olympus E-M5 Micro Four Thirds camera hand held with a tiny Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens which of course is effectively image stabilised thanks to the E-M5 making it an awesome compact night street photography combination.

These were all taken at ISO 800, mostly at shutter speeds 1/10th-1/50th sec and at f/1.7 (except the last one which was f/2.8).

The night begins:

the night begins

Birrarung Marr art installation:
Birrarung Marr art installation

The band plays under Flinders St railway station clocks:

the band plays under Flinders St railway station clocks

Projected buildings:
projected buildings

projected buildings

projected buildings

Projected love messages on the Yarra River:
projected love messages on the Yarra River

More Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 Micro Four Thirds fun

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Another walk through my lovely home city of Melbourne, Australia yesterday, with only my Panasonic GH-1 Micro Four Thirds camera and the wonderful, cheap, manual focus Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 lens.

The old and the new, marvellous Melbourne:

marvellous melbourne

The surveyor:


The immigrants, life sized statues:


I extended my walk into the Botanic Gardens during the balmy warm Spring showers, and took time out to smell the roses – this image really is best seen in large view:


Today, after 123 consecutive days, the temperature in Melbourne failed to reach 20deg C – a new record

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

The previous longest running consecutive days of maximum temperatures above 20deg C in Melbourne was 78 days – easily beaten by this 123 day run of warm days!

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?