Fitzroy Gardens in Winter – Shooting in the rain

Melbourne was really quite wet on Monday night. For me, this would – and has – meant a night inside, with taking photos being very low on the priority list. However, I felt like doing something different.

Taking Photos in the rain

First, you need to have the right weather sealed gear. That includes personal clothing and quality camera hardware. For these shots, most were taken with my 70-200L lens, L generally meaning high quality and weather sealed. And on my 5D2, which is able to cop a shower. The other important element was a big lens hood to protect from sideways rain. I do have wider lenses, but they would have copped too much water on the glass, which is something I wasn’t really wanting.

Darwin Road-Trip: Day 1

We were lucky to get here with Tropical Cyclone Grant threatening

Up until the day of our departure, even being able to get to Darwin was touch-and-go. Jets are not too fond of cyclones, and we didn’t know if we’d have an issue. As it turns, it blew over without too much whimper.

Getting here was no drama at all. Except the driver who slammed my laptop into the cap with a massive bang. I shit myself, it was really a bang that sounded like a crack, and given the weight of all the camera gear, I was thinking the worst. The cabby, being a moral guy, ended up giving me his details and told me they would look after it in the event anything went wrong. After that, our motel home and sleep were needed.

Day 1: The Road Trip Begins

I stared the day at 6:15 local time. Amy was still sleeping, so I went for a little drive and got some morning sunrise-ish (it was kinda overcast) shots at East Point, in Darwin. Came home, and Amy and I were on the road by 9ish. We needed to head to Katerine, so on-with-the-trip.

We had some advice (thanks Dave and Buckers) to check out Litchfield National Park. It wasn’t a massive detour, and it was really quite nice. Greenery, Waterfalls, Termites – pretty beautiful stuff. Pictures below.

Back on the road, or almost

Back on the road and we hit a town called Adelaide River. This is where things got messy. A Cop pulled me over for a breath-test, and told me the road from Pine Creek to Katherine is closed and impassable. There were floods that basically locked everyone in (and out) of Darwin. Katherine is one of those central towns, that without it, you just can’t get through. So we were in a spot of bother. No accommodation in Pine Creek, none in Adelaide River – we had to head back to Darwin with no promises of being able to get through.

After talking with some locals – and getting laughed at for asking about the internet – the feeling was this can be days to weeks. ‘It’s wet season’ was the general theme, so nothing is sure.

Had a nice night in Darwin, and we didn’t have too much choice. We have a pretty tight schedule, and wasting 500Kms was not ideal. But, what can we do.

One night in Sydney

Had a pretty crazy 24 hours that involved my Dad getting married to Gina, a flight to Sydney, dinner and then coming home. All pretty whirlwind crazy and fun – strange to leave a wedding when it’s all happening, and cool at the same time. Our hotel for the night was wonderful and had an awesome view of Sydney, and dinner was awesome. Even though the ‘holiday’ was ridiculously short, it was a great experience thanks to Dad and Gina.

Hardware Lane to Degraves Street, Melbourne, at Night

Having A Camera All The Time…

I needed to head to Melbourne to get some more memory and iTunes cards – I have video shoot, and I can’t run out of memory, and there’s a special on iTunes cards, which I can use to buy Aperture 3 at a lower price. In any-case, I took my new best friend, old X100. Yes, my Friday night best friend is a camera. So, no flash, no tripod, and very little light and these are a couple snaps I got.

As for the colour treatments, they are razzed up with the new Aperture 3 preset called Toy Camera. Some of the shots are pretty dark, but i prefer more blacks than too much noise. Many of these shots were at 3200 ISO; any higher and they really fall apart.

Canon 7D Vs FujiFilm X100

Intro

I’ve now had the x100 for a week and results have been very impressive. So much so, it’s looking to be my go-to camera over my 7D, despite the fact it’s not as flexible from a shooting perspective. The 7D has it’s place, but it’s looking to be the ‘formal’ guy.

In the week, I’ve had it in bars for live music, pubs for casual friend shots, an engagement party, had a couple of night walks and it’s really holding up. Auto focus is sometimes an issue, which is a real problem, because manual focus is kinda useless. What’s jumped at me is how well, and specifically against the 7D, the good photos turn out.

As a little test, I decided to take them out for a short walk and see how they both work at night with a very non scientific compare.

Gear:

Canon 7D with 24-105L f4, shot at 24mm at f4 640 iso
FujiFilm x100, shot at 23mm at f4 640 iso

All shots have been taken with auto white balance and auto focus on tripods with 2 second timed delay. Shutter speed is varied, but is manually set based on the camera light metering. Both have APSC sensors, and the major difference in my shooting is the 23mm to 24mm field of view, but I think this is livable. Pictures are as is from camera – only resized down. No straightening, obviously, no color correction, no anything except for ‘web-i-fying’.

Last comments

I know the 7D is way more versatile, but the difference in size is so appealing. Just as a little comment on my walk, there were no accidental knocks with the X100, as compared to the 7D, bumping tripods and so on. When on my shoulder, I hardly noticed it – and nor do strangers. I know the X100 can’t do as much, what what it can do is be on me all the time.

The shots – 7D first, then X100

Tram Windows

Post from my iPad with camera connection kit using Canon 7D

via WordPress for iPad

This something new for me. I’ve got an iPad and a canon 7d. Throw in a camera connection kit, a tram trip and a free version of Photoshop Express, and this is what you get. Nothing spectacular, but an interesting little road-test, nonetheless.

What I like

The mobility. The ability to do this without the need for a traditional computer. Having a quick touch-up/crop tool in Photoshop express. Even specify the size of the image to upload. Being able to connect a keyboard via bluetooth is handy too. Pretty cool

And not so much

It’s a bit cumbersome – and not having a wysiwyg editor. This is barebones HTML editing on a mobile device! Not a massive problem (for me), and I’m guessing it will be fixed (i.e. a better ‘composer’). But i’m sure a blocker for many.

Some photos from the boring tram trip to work

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Benefits of Live View on DSLRs

Live View might not be a great feature, but it does have its benefits.

Since having first purchased my first DSLR in around 2004, I have become all-too used to telling people they need to look through the view-finder. Because it’s an SLR – a mirror exposes the film or sensor, quickly switching the input from the view-finder to the sensor. So, for quite a while, it was never possible to have an SLR which displays what the sensor will capture, due to the way SLR’s work.

In the past couple of years, this has all changed with the implementation of Live View.

What is Live View?

Live View allows the photographer to see what the sensor sees. With SLR’s that support it, digital video is possible (hopefully you can record that video feed – early Live View cameras didn’t allow this). But apart from video on my Canon 7D (and prior to that, my 500d, was my only other experience with Live View on a DSLR), i really never saw the point of Live View.

Overtime, things have changed a little, and Live View certainly has its importance. But first…

Disadvantages of Live View

  • Delay in pressing trigger to getting the shot
    • informal guess at 1/4 ~ 1/10 second. No good for anything that requires quick reflexes
  • Very poor focusing, as compared to ‘traditional’ view
    • relies on a contrast method which is at the mercy of the cameras CPU of detecting hard lines (i.e. edges)
  • SLR ergonomics are very suitable for placing the eye to the viewfinder
    • holding a camera away from body and viewing screen can be a little unsteady
    • not so much on a small camera, but more of an issue
  • Sensor overheating / over exposure
    • yet to experience this first-hand for photography, but have for video
    • Would be more an issue if Live View was primary method of shooting
  • Additional battery drain
    • obviously, powering a screen takes some juice

Putting the bad bits aside, technology will improve this stuff. Quicker response times, obviously will get better. Focusing is already getting better on more current models.

Benefits of Live View

While the feature has its downsides, in some circumstances can be of use. Pretty much, when you don’t need an instant shot, or have time to compose and focus your shot, with a tripod and an extra battery doesn’t hurt. Some times where I have found Live View useful.

The main benefit is being able to zoom in and focus at 1:1 resolution of the sensor with Live View.

Night Scenery / Subjects

At night in low-light, it can be quite hard to focus (autofocus can be useless). Depending on the situation, you could:

  1. switch to Live View
  2. bump up the ISO as high as possible (to see)
  3. zoom in with the Live View functionality (not with the lens)
  4. get the focus right with the focus ring
  5. Disable the Live View, high ISO and get on with it.

Another example where Live View is helpful is for time-lapse; this is when you need to take many shots of the same scene over a large period of time. When setting this up, it is crucial to get the shot (and focus) right. So, you have some time to get it right and Live View is just another tool in the kit.

In Conclusion…

Live View may be considered a feature, but I like to think of it more as a tool to help get the right shot in certain circumstances. It’s not great all the time, but when I need it, it’s there and helpful. As with anything, if the disadvantages aren’t relevant, then it’s probably going to work for you.