Monthly Archives: October 2012

More Xpan Images…

the Magic of shooting with film

By the time I get around to sending my film to the lab I have forgotten what I had shot… so it’s always a surprise when I get them back from the lab… these next 4 images were all shot using my Hassalblad Xpan panoramic camera. It takes a 35mm film and I shoot using Fuji Velvia 50. The Xpan is a unique camera in that it takes normal frames or a panoramic image, and although film is getting harder to buy, develop and scan I think I will keep shooting with it as I love the challenge. With my DSLR I tend to get a little lazy as it’s easy to just check my exposure as I take each shot, with film, I need to put more thought into what I am shooting and what exposure settings to use.

The Three Sisters

Somewhere on the Northern Beaches

From the recent Long Reef Photowalk

Wentworth Falls




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next PhotoWALK announced!

Observatory Hill to The Rocks

The View from Observatory Hill

It’s official! The next photoWALK will be on the 2nd December and once again I will be hosting this with Rob Potter from (make sure you check out his site and add your favourite Hot Spots!)

The last photoWALK we held the sunset was one of the best we had seen all year! There was a great mix of people that rocked up from rookie to the more experienced and everyone had a great time. This time we are heading into the city, kicking off at 630pm with one of the best views of the Harbour Bridge at Observatory Hill and slowly making away towards The Rocks as the sun sets… finishing somewhere near a cold beer!

You can register for the event here through google+ or facebook depending on your preference… (click on your favourite) or just rock up on the day!

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Taking photo’s through glass

Eliminating reflections

I was invited to a dinner at a restaraunt called 360, for those of you unfamiliar with Sydney, that is the revolving restaraunt at the top of Sydney Tower. It stands 309 metres (1014ft) high above the Sydney CBD making for a ‘birds eye view’ of the city. Being the keen photographer that I am I took my DSLR to dinner… you never know, if conversation gets boring I can excuse myself and indulge in some image creation…

I did get the opportunity to grab some pics, and the first issue I faced was reflections, I thought if I get my lens really close to the glass, I would eliminate it… no such luck, what was worse, was these windows are double glazed, and the reflection from the outer pane of glass is destroying my image! I really didn’t get anything I was happy with.

I was planing a trip to the Gold Coast, and whilst the Sydney Tower is tall, the Q1 tower on the Gold Coast is taller! I wanted to get a shot from the top of Q1 and I knew they would probably have similar construction so I decided to start working out how to eliminate the reflections. Below I share with you how I shoot through glass.

The Gold Coast comes to life at night…

Click on the photo to order yourself a print or to download (please see licensing for the rules!)

To avoid reflections when shooting through double glazed glass you need three items


Rubber Lens Hood

1. A rubber Lens Hood. They come in all shapes and sizes, and I found with my wide angle lens it was visible in the corners so make sure you get a hood that will suit your lens. There are UWA rubber lens hoods. The hood allows you to press/rest your lens up against the glass to eliminate any reflections on the inner glass panel, you will still have reflections on the second ‘double’ panel of glass in the case of double glazing that a lot of these towers have unless you use item number two!

Dark Cloth

2. A dark Cloth. To get rid of the reflections on the outer pane of glass, you need to hang a dark cloth on the window, and then shoot through it. Use a 30cm x 30cm cloth, cut an X in the middle of it big enough for your lens to fit through, I suggest make it a snug fit, so it wont slip over your lens hood, this way it all stays together nicely during your shoot.

Suction Cups with Hooks

3. Suction cups (unless you are an octopus then you won’t need the suction cups). The final piece of the puzzle, use the suction cups to mount your dark cloth to the glass.

Basically, you are creating a dark room for the end of your lens, I also cleaned the glass where I was shooting to get rid of the fingerprints left by previous admirers. So there you have it… a nice cheap and effective solution to shooting through glass.

Categories: Australian Locations, Gold Coast | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Fuji X-E1 for HDR

I was asked, can HDR be done using the Fuji X-E1?

Being known as a HDR photographer I guess it was only a matter of time before I got this question, and the short answer is YES, the Fuji X-E1 can be used for HDR Photography.

However, it is not as easy as it is with my D800 that takes as many frames I need at 1ev apart using auto-bracketing. The Auto-Bracketing feature on the X-E1 give you the 1ev spacing but only up to 3 frames at a time, so the maximum you can do is -1, 0, +1, when for most HDR I need -2,0,+2. Sony have just released a firmware upgrade that has changes this for the NEX users so I hope to see Fuji follow suit. Until then, the easiest option is to manually change the EV via the dial near your thumb as you take 3 exposures… not ideal but it works!

The X-E1 has a Dynamic Range adjustment, where you are supposed to be able to reduce loss of details in highlights and shadows when shooting a high contrast scene. The highest Dynamic Range setting of 400% can only be used at ISO800 and above, so Noise will start creeping in… not that is matters as I have tested the DR function and could not see enough of a difference to even consider using it so I will stick to Photomatix and Photoshop for my HDR processing.

Here are the results of my test, I used a High Contrast Scene and shot one frame at ISO 200 with the DR function off, and the other at ISO 800 with DR set to the maximum of 400%… you be the judge… (click on image to see a larger version)

I had the metering set to ‘Average’ and I cannot tell the difference!

and here is a HDR image created using the EV Comp dial to get my 3 exposures and then I used photomatix to make the HDR…

HDR image using the Fuji X-E1 – 3 exposures -2ev, 0ev and +2ev manually done using the EV comp dial.

Check out my page dedicated to the Fuji X-E1 HERE for more of my insights and a Before photo of the above HDR image…

Categories: Australian Locations, Equipment Review, Sydney | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Fujifilm X-E1 review

Is the Fuji X-E1 the camera for you?

Fuji X-E1

The mirrorless camera is fast becoming a popular choice for photographers… for me it was the smaller size without losing the ability to have interchangeable lenses. I looked at the Xpro1, the Sony NEX7 and the Olympus OM-D and in the end settled on the late to the market X-E1. After taking a couple of hundred frames with the Fuji X-E1 I have started a page with my thoughts and ramblings on this little mirrorless beast! I have really enjoyed shooting with this camera and hopefully my page will help you decide if this is the mirrorless camera for you!

Visit the Fuji X-E1 page

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Another Successful Photowalk

Nature turned on her charm!

The weather looked average at best mid afternoon and I was getting messages through Facebook and Google+ asking me if the walk will still be on, what if it is raining?, people were generally worried this would be a wash out. I was turning up rain, hail or shine, I had been organizing this photowalk for weeks with Rob Potter from photography hot spots and I was not going to miss it! We had planned this exact date due to low tide and sunset converging… Long Reef is a fantastic spot at any time, but get there at low tide and the place just comes to life! There are photogenic rocks and rock pools everywhere!

We had over 20 people turn up for the walk and as always I am was humbled by how many of you want to come out take photo’s with me… it was great to see such a mix of experience, and to see the more experienced helping out the rookies… it was really nice to see some  familiar faces too coming back after my first photowalk in September.

My plan is to squeeze another photowalk in before Christmas, not sure when, and not sure where, but I am keen to make it a walk that finishes with a Christmas dinner and a few drinks for those that would like to stick around and chew the fat!

Capturing the Sunset at Long Reef

Group Shot of the Attendees… a couple had wandered off… but most are in this shot!

Orange Blossom

I actually didn’t take too many photo’s on the walk, I was answering a few questions and helping a couple of people out with settings so they could capture the sunset. I found this one rock that ended up being the star of my show! I would have liked to have walked to the far eastern end of the reef and shoot back over the headland but I didn’t wear my good boots and wasn’t keen on getting my joggers soaked… I will head back next time low tide and sunset meet to see what else I can capture!

Click on the photo to order yourself a print or to download (please see licensing for the rules!)


Here is another one from the beginning of the walk…

Click on the photo to order yourself a print or to download (please see licensing for the rules!)

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The Fuji X-E1 is impressing me!

The Sexy One (aka the X-E1)

Fujifilm have really come to the party with this one… I am IMPRESSED! I am planning to start posting my review, thoughts, rambles… whatever you want to call it… Hopefully I will get the Fuji X-E1 page started in the next 48 hours so stay tuned… I am also going to do a X-E1 vs NEX 7 showdown… they’re both great camera’s and I wonder who will come out on top!

Get your camera out and head to Long Reef!

I am looking forward to catching sunset from Long Reef tonight. We have about 20 people in total registered for this walk between g+ and FB so it will be a good chance to catch up with other photog’s, share and learn… Use this link to view and register – The weather is set to be pretty good, there will be a passing shower in the afternoon but this clear by 6pm… I hope to see you there! I am bringing the new Fuji Sexy One… aka the X-E1 mirrorless camera with me if you want to check it out! I also need to finish the Velvia film in the Hassalblad Xpan so It may make an appearance too! Here’s a pic I took last time I was at Long Reef… Cheers, Ben.

Click on the photo to order yourself a print or to download (please see licensing for the rules!)

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HDR meets Watercolour

A fusion of art

I have had a few people ask me if they can paint my photo’s, and I always say yes… in fact, I am quite flattered when another artist recognizes my art as worthy to become their art. Painting has always been an art form that people appreciate, the amount of talent it takes to produce a great looking painting is more than we all imagine. I don’t know when you last had a go at doing your own painting… it is hard… so when I see a great painting I am bowled over.

To me, HDR is a way to take photo’s that ‘simulates’ what an artist is able to do when painting a picture. An artist is able to paint what their eyes see, usually they will stand at the scene with an easel and paint what is right there in front of them, and it is without doubt that an artist in this instant is capturing the high dynamic range of the scene, unlike a cameras sensor, that can only capture a limited dynamic range.

My good friends Rowan and Pania Gregson own and run the Boyd Gallery at Harrington Park in the South West of Sydney. I was at a function that Rowan & Pania had sponsored, and as part of their display they had James Boissett, an Australian watercolour artist painting a night scene of one of the local churches during the event. It was here that I met James and it wasn’t long before we were swapping tales of some of the best locations around Sydney Harbour and the beaches along Sydney’s coastline. One thing led to another and before I knew it James had agreed to paint one of my photo’s as a watercolour.

It was actually really tough to decide what picture to have painted, I knew James also loved Sydney Harbour and in particular, the view that can be seen from Blues Point. I had a photo that I had taken about 15 minutes before sunrise and the colours emitting from the horizon were amazing. There was a couple of issues with my image that had me set on going back to try and capture it again, there is a weird structure on the bridge (fireworks or something) and the mast of the sailing boat in the foreground is ghosted. I took this image before I really knew how to fix the ghosting… James was able to eliminate both of these distractions in his painting… and let me say… it looks AMAZING!

Here is my original HDR image…

My original HDR image from Blues Point

And after James worked his magic…

I am really pleased with how this came out, James was able to really capture the emotion of the pre dawn, a time of day by his own admission, he rarely sees (he can’t believe how early I get up to take photos!) I will be framing this myself and it will proudly hang it on my wall.

An amazing watercolour painting by James Boissett

Check out more of James Boissett’s work by visiting his website and you should also check out the Boyd Gallery website too

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Scott Kelby Worldwide Photowalk

A great way to spend a morning…

Today was the day of the annual Scott Kelby worldwide photowalk. A total of 32,182 photographers registered worldwide to take part in photowalks organised in 1338 locations. I joined Geoff Taylor’s walk starting at Circular Quay in Sydney this morning at 8:30am. I was expecting to see more for this walk but I think the 8:30am start was too early for most. I did notice that there were more photographers registered for the afternoon walks across Sydney. Here is a couple of pics from the walk… enjoy!



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Days End in Coffs Harbour

the daily pic – Days End

‘Days End’ – As I was waiting for the perfect colours to appear from the horizon this boat was heading in before last light. Taken at Coffs Harbour on the NSW North Coast… can you guess if I used HDR or not for this image??

(Click on the photo to order yourself a print or to download (please see licensing for the rules!)

Categories: Australian Locations, Coffs Harbour | Leave a comment

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