New A7Rii

Sep 13, 2015

Just bought a Sony a7r2. This is a 42 megapixel camera that is able to take my Canon lenses with the help of an adapter. Here are my thoughts so far.
Higher resolution
Lower noise
Higher dynamic range
Tilt screen
In body image stabilisation
In body level
Preview of things like white balance
Silent shooting mode
4k video
Good amount of custom buttons
Electronic first curtain sync
Wireless and ability to add apps
Discount on purchase of Capture One Pro
Terrible battery life
Less reliable autofocus
Have to use an adapter
Lack of dual card slots
Compressed Raw
Even worse compression when using silent shutter/bulb mode
Overheats in 4k video mode
Seems to gather way more dust than any dslr I’ve used
Needs to be turned off constantly and is slower to turn on than a dslr
USB 2.0
After finally taking it on a proper shoot. I’d already done some testing and concluded that the commlite adapter I’d bought for it was rubbish. Had to pay for a metabones which so far has been much better but way more expensive. I was weighing up between this and the 5dsr. In the end it was a tie between the 2 cameras. I almost didn’t purchase this camera because of the idiotic reviews by certain Sony “Artisans”. I’ve never seen such over the top biased views in my life. I leaned towards this camera only so that I could try something new and push my boundaries further. Taking it out on my first shoot I realise how clumsy I am with this camera. This is not a complaint about the camera but I’d been so used to shooting Canon that I had to re-learn how to shoot. I have absolutely no problem with learning something new if it has a benefit. I’m one of the few that preferred windows 8 over 7. Yes, it takes 5 minutes to get used to the new system but once you do you realise that it’s faster.
I noticed a level of dust and dirt that I’ve never ever seen before on my dslrs and that’s only after owning it for a couple of weeks. I think it’s clean now but it almost ruined my shots. I think the image quality is excellent on this new camera based on my first few shots. Seeing the image on the back of the lcd changes the way I approach a shoot but for the better I think. Focussing whilst on a tripod is just as simple as a dslr so that is quite easy. Extending my tripod up to it’s maximum level is also easy since I don’t have to look through the viewfinder any more. The camera seems to give an accurate estimation of exposure. All in all it seems a winner for landscapes. I’ll post more thoughts soon.

Mungo and Uluru

Aug 26, 2015

Day 1
We drove from Melbourne to mungo through mildura. We saw the lunettes at mungo and stayed up late for one of the clearest night skies that I’m ever likely to see. Saw emus and mobs of kangaroos, almost smashed into one of them. I’m shooting with the 5ds which is on loan from TEDs. The intervalometer function really saved me as the batteries ran out on my canon cable release. I had batteries in the car but as we found out later that night it was difficult to get back to the car in pitch black darkness (the moon was down).
We witnessed the clearest view of the milky way I’d ever seen and I believe witnessed the tail end of a meteor shower. Hopefully the images turn out. It really was surreal being in that environment.

5ds vs 5d2
The 5ds is clearly the superior camera. It feels bulky compared the the mark 2 but the additional features make it an amazing camera. I was shooting the milky way under a moonless sky and I realise that my trusty intervelometor had run out of batteries. I can use it as a remote but nothing else. This is where the 5ds saved me. I had fresh batteries in the car but that was so far away on such a dark night. It didn’t all go smoothly though. I set the camera to take 25 images. It captured a few then stopped. I thought the buffer might be the issue, it wasn’t. I finally figured out that the camera was calculating the interval multiplied by the number of shots. Well I was shooting at a shutter speed of 20 seconds which was much less than the interval of 5ish seconds. Silly that this is an issue but the workaround was easy. I put in an interval of 9 seconds and a shot count of 85. That was plenty of time to get the shots I needed.
The other issue I had with the 5ds was learning the buttons. Not an issue with the camera but I had fun trying to figure out which button did what. It all worked out eventually so no dramas. I really like the 5ds. It made me question my decision to buy an a7r2 instead. Unfortunately my a7r2 didn’t arrive till after the trip so I’ve had to use the 5ds instead. This worked out really well actually because now I’ve used both cameras. (UPDATE) After reviewing some of the images on the computer I am confident that the 5ds is a much better camera than the 5d2 and possibly has an edge over the a7r2 in terms of resolving detail. I may end up adding one of these to my kit once the price comes down. For now the a7r2 has arrived and I look forward to testing that camera soon.
Day 2
Got up early after a night of no sleep. Witnessed a kangaroo go arse over tit in an attempt to hop away from the car. Unfortunately sunrise was underwhelming at the walls of China. So we scouted out some shooting angles again for sunset. Saw more kangaroo’s and emu’s. Had a great sunset and went out to shoot the stars again. This night was even clearer than last night. It was amazing. The moon set to a blood red tinge as it had the night before. The clarity in the sky was beyond belief.
Day 3
Got up early again and shot the sunrise at the walls of China. This was far better than the day before although we didn’t have much time to enjoy it. Went to get on the road when I hit a kangaroo on the way to mildura. Stuffed up the car but fortunately no damage was done internally. Stopped for lunch at a nice little town called Burra. Saw a picturesque abandoned building so I stopped to take a shot. Saw many canola fields and beautiful landscapes as we drove. However we were behind schedule and needed to reach coober pedy by 9pm. Eventually we got there on time. The beds were very comfy after what we’d been used to at mungo. Got a notification that my a7r2 had arrived. Thanks Sony but you are a bit too late. Meanwhile I’m continuing to enjoy using the 5ds.
Abandoned house near Burra
Day 4
Got up early in the morning to get to the painted desert. I think this was worth the effort even with the amount of cows we had to stop for. We saw several mountain ranges that looked stunning but we were glad to leave the dirt road driving behind us. We pushed hard and made uluru by 2:30 and prepared ourselves before heading to the national park for sunset. The sky behind us was better than the sky in front of us but even though it was nice I had come here to shoot uluru. I want to leave here with some good shots. I don’t think I’m a good enough photographer.
Painted Desert SA
Day 5
Got up early for sunrise at Ayer’s Rock. We were the third car to reach the gate but got to the lookout spot first. Witnessed some lightning before shooting the rock. Climbed the rock or most of it at least. I’m too unfit at the moment. Ate lunch at a local cafe.
Walked through Walpa Gorge at the Olgas. It was beautiful. Witnessed sunset from the sunrise viewing platform. I will return tomorrow.
Uluru and Walpa Gorge
Day 6
Went to the olgas (Kata Tjuta) for sunrise. Then did the valley of the winds walk. It was the most amazing of the trip. Stopped many times to take pics. It was fun trying something different. Sunset was back at Uluru. Tried a slightly different position this time after being yelled at by park staff for being in a non-designated photo area. Seriously the rules here and at Mungo are very annoying. Had a decent sunset and went back to Yulara for dinner.
Uluru at sunset
Day 7
Got up early for sunrise and for once I wasn’t the first one to get to a certain spot. Luckily the photographer next to me set up in a position that I wouldn’t have set up in so it was all good. Took a quick walk around the base (not the whole thing, just the mala walk) and really enjoyed the walk. We were on the road by 9:30am and went straight for Melbourne. I was very tired at the end of this trip.

Dark and light

Mar 09, 2015

I love the mood that can be made by photographing a person with darker skin. It allows an experimentation with light that just wouldn’t work as well with a lighter skinned person. I love that even though we are all different as people we can all make art in interesting and unique ways. There is no race in the world that is not beautiful!
Black and white portrait

POSTED IN: General, Photography

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Marriners Falls

Mar 01, 2015

This waterfall is amazing. The whole surroundings look like something from Jurassic Park. The falls have technically been closed for quite some time but getting there is no issue at all. There are a couple of trees in the way and a couple of streams to cross but all in all it is quite easy to access so don’t worry about the signs saying that the waterfalls are closed.
Sorry about the large file size. The usual method just isn’t cutting it. I used a technique called focus stacking that made every part of the image look sharp. Unfortunately that means larger file sizes as well.
Marriners Waterfall near Apollo Bay

Milky Way

Feb 24, 2015

The night was so amazing. I think my camera isn’t good enough at this stage to take great milky way shots. I need something with less dark current noise. This was taken with my new Samyang 14mm 2.8 lens. Settings: ISO 4000, 30 secs, f2.8, custom wb of about 3700. Had to move quickly at the end of the shoot as the tide started to come in quite violently. It was quite difficult to focus in this scenario. Live view didn’t help at all. I had to take images and adjust the focus manually. Luckily this is easier on a Samyang than a lens that is primarily designed for autofocus like my 35 1.4.

Gibson Steps

Feb 23, 2015

The sunset was amazing. I’d gone out here to try some astro landscapes but with the rain coming down I figured it was a wasted trip. Saw the sign for Gibson Steps and thought why not. I’d always shot the 12 Apostles from the main viewing area and had always wanted to try Gibsons Steps. Had a guy stand right in front of me whilst I was trying to take the shot. Couldn’t believe it. So I had to re-compose. Fortunately I think the shot didn’t suffer from this.
Gibson Steps, 12 Apostles, Victoria, Australia

The Eagle’s Nest

Feb 07, 2015

Got the Samyang 14mm 2.8 yesterday. Hoping to do some astrophotography with it soon. This image however was shot with the 16-35 f4.
The Eagle's Nest, Inverloch

Wilsons Prom

Feb 01, 2015

Mt Oberon at Wilsons Prom. I think of it as Oberoth, A villain in Stargate Atlantis. Defeating this nemesis was worth it.
Wilsons Prom from Mt Oberon

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Higher learning

Jan 24, 2015

State library of Victoria

POSTED IN: General, Photography

Serenade in Blue

Jan 23, 2015

I helped Mel to create the artwork for her new album Serenade in Blue. This was taken using a 3 light set up with a Joel Grimes beauty type of feel. Her album is now finally released and available for purchase.
Mel Searle - Serenade in Blue

POSTED IN: General, Photography

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