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Monday, September 30, 2013

International Fleet Review – Tips for Photographing Naval Ships

The International Fleet Review is coming to Sydney! Here are some useful tips and equipment suggestions to get you out around the water’s edge (whether in Sydney or not), shooting great quality pictures.

Lens Hoods

If you find yourself shooting in the middle of the day, particularly around water, a lens hood is a must.  The lens hood is the accessory that looks like a cup or flower and that attaches to the end of your lens. It is designed to stop unwanted light from entering your lens at a narrow angle in order to avoid lens flare while improving lens performance.  A lens hood also has the added advantage of providing a small amount of protection around the front of your lens in the unfortunate circumstance of a drop. While it does not guarantee a complete lens save, having one present may minimise the damage and is certainly better than not having one at all.

Circular Polarisers

A polariser is another great idea, particularly in circumstances where there is a lot of glare.  The polariser’s job is to diminish any reflections from non-metallic surfaces like water, foliage and glass.  It has a varying degree of effectiveness, depending on the angle of the light reflecting off the object and where the sun is in the sky.  At times a polariser can almost completely eliminate glare off water or reflections on windows. 
Using a polariser in a sunny situation around water can deepen the colour of the water and almost eliminate the specula highlights from the surface, giving shots an improved colour clarity and vibrance.  A polariser will deepen the blue in the sky and make clouds appear more defined. 
Something to keep in mind is that the polariser filter can absorb almost half of the light passing through. Better quality polarisers absorb less light and have better coatings so it may be worth spending a bit extra for the better quality filters.

Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Another type of filter to consider is the graduated neutral density filter (ND).  A filter such the Cokin P Series sits in a filter holder, which then attaches to your lens and allows you to use two or three filters at a time. 
The ND filter is square or rectangular shape filter that is dark at one end and gradually changes to clear at the other.  Use this filter when an area of the image is bright, but the rest of the image is not.  A perfect example is a sunset with a very bright sky but a foreground that is too dark to capture any detail.  The ND filter should be positioned so that the dark part of the filter covered the sky (rendering it darker) but the clear part covered the foreground (having no effect).  The result would be a ‘flattening’ of the image allowing detail in the brightest area and the darkest area. 
This would be great to capture a few late afternoon or sunset shots of the ships in the harbour.

Monopods

A monopod is a single leg that supports your camera and enables you to quickly change position when required and hold your camera steadily, allowing longer lenses to be used comfortably and at slower shutter speeds than handheld. 
The main advantage of using a monopod over a tripod is that they are smaller, lighter and faster to set up.  They're capable of supporting the weight of your gear easily with some models being able to hold in excess of 40kg.  When using a long focal length lens to photograph the ships, a monopod not only helps to hold your camera steady, but also reduces the risk of camera shake, allowing you to quickly change positions to capture the perfect shot.

Lenses

There are two types of lenses that may be useful when shooting on the harbour:  A wide angle and a telephoto.
Wide Angle Lens
The wide angle lens an ideal lens to use to capture the overall scene with a majestic wide shot of the harbour showcasing the scale of the International Fleet Review. A wide angle lens can also be very useful in the small confines of boats when there is insufficient room to ‘fit it all in’ with a standard zoom lens.  The focal length to aim for when using a full frame sensor would be in the 14 to 17mm range and around 10mm for a crop sensor DSLR.
Telephoto Lens
The telephoto lens is excellent when you’re trying to get close-up images of the ships from shore.  When using a telephoto lens keep in mind that you need to ensure your shutter speed is fast enough to eliminate blur caused by camera movement (see monopod).  The easiest way to do this is to use a higher ISO or a larger aperture lens.  Image stabilisation is also helpful with many telephoto lenses sporting this feature (it’s known as Image Stabilization for Canon and Vibration Reduction for Nikon).  Telephoto lenses are also great for singling out certain details while on-board one of the ships. E.g. A knotted rope or flag. Longer lenses around the 50 to 100mm focal length are also great for portraits.
These are just a few things to keep in mind when shooting events situated around water. Additional things to consider would be to ensure you are equipped with sufficient memory cards, compatible spare batteries, and some cleaning equipment such as the popular Spudz cleaning cloth at very least. 
Apart from that, keep your eyes open for any fleeting opportunities and keep shooting!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Why not video too?


Our team is made up of passionate photographers, videographers, brand-loyalists, enthusiasts and the types of creative image-capturers that could convince departments of education around the world that funding for the arts should remain a priority. They’re passionate.
They are passionate about their chosen genre of visual communication - still photography, videography, mixed media and others.
With the ever-changing nature of technology and the genius of innovators in photography design and manufacturing, we are lucky enough to have tools and equipment that make the cross-over from one form of visual communication to another a hassle-free process.
The equipment is readily available. Things like basic camera bodies and lenses, action cameras, copter/drones for aerial shots, microphones and headphones, underwater accessories, software and printers are available online and in stores.
The transition from still photography to video is also conveniently possible. It’s simple with a few accessories. The fact that a standard DLSR camera is able to take high quality video also means that still photographers can move into the video medium without having to spend too much money and without having to learn an entirely new piece of equipment.
As a first step, you could simply use yourexisting digital camera, add some inexpensive pieces of sound recording equipment such as microphones or headphones, and you are ready to shoot. You could also install editing software on your computer and seek a friend to assist in editing your footage. What you end up with is a high quality video at a basic level. Don’t misinterpret us – it takes time to shoot the footage you want, plus it takes time to edit. Also, depending on where your final cut is going to end up, the time that you spend on your project will need to be adjusted, but it’s possible. E.g. Is it for your family or for a board meeting?  You can quite easily test your talents at video production.
Just think about all the videos you could shoot, edit and upload to YouTube: your kids’ first soccer match edited down to 3 minutes, your 4 minute Christmas video, or action footage of you on the slopes or the waves!
There are a number of brands in the market place that are specialists in the field of sound and sound recording equipment. We choose to stock our stores with four brands – Sennheiser, Audio-Technica, Rode and Rycote. Sennheiser is a German company with innovative design. Audio-Technica is known for its quality and comfort of headphones. Rode manufactures microphones used by enthusiasts and industry professionals globally. Rycote are renowned for their recording accessories. Along with a vast number of other manufacturers and distributors, all four of these brands design reliable products that will enhance video production, whether you’re an amateur or professional.
So, it’s an easy transition from still photography to video when you’re ready. Just make the decision, source the accessories and get shooting.
The question is… are you ready?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Olympus Announces OM-D E-M1 Compact System Camera & M.Zuiko PRO 40mm F/2.8 Lens


Olympus OM-D E-M1
Olympus officially launches their long awaited addition to the OMD family - the E-M1, as well as M.Zuiko Pro 12-40mm F/2.8 Lens!

Feature highlights

1. Electronic  Viewfinder with 2.36 megapixel resolution,
advanced aspherical optics, x0.74 magnification (35mm equiv), 21mm eyepoint and 100% field of view

2. Dual FAST-AF technology – both Contrast AF and on-chip Phase Detection AF with lens detection capabilities

3. Enchanced 5-axis image stabiliser for improved stabilization at lower shutter speeds

4. New 16.3 megapixel LiveMOS high-speed image sensor (ISO 25,600 max. sensitivity)

5. TruePic VII advanced image processor

6. Built-in WiFi function with full PASM control

7. Full HD video with Multi-motion image stabilization (broadcast quality; stereo sound)

8. 3-inch tilting TFT-LCD touch-screen with 1,037K pixels

9. 10 fps sequential shooting rate

10. Splash, Dust and Freeze proof (to -10°C) metal alloy chassis

11. Intervalometer to 999 shots with movie compilation

Stay tuned for pre-orders!