Category: Tips

Red and pink skies of sunset at Redbank near Ipswich Queensland Australia as a massive lightning bolt strikes down from a storm cell. Simply stunning landscape, storm and weather photography from Murray Fox

Sunset Lightning – Bolt of the year so far

Storm season is really kicking in here in Queensland Australia. The last week has brought wide spread storms to the region, some becoming very nasty super cells with tornados of all things. It’s the first time in my memory I’ve seen the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) issue a tornado warning, with several dropping a few hours north of Brisbane and causing widespread damage.

Thursday saw a good chance for something around home, as I work full time I took all my gear with me on the off chance I’d have an opportunity to get something. Driving home I started to see cloud to ground lightning bolts (CGs) dropping to the west, but pretty close. I headed for the Brisbane River near Goodna as there is a great spot there with good views. Arriving I quickly worked out I needed a better view west so I moved a few k’s up the road to another higher spot.

As I pulled up I started to see the most amazing colour come across the scene. The sun was setting and throwing out amazing shades of red and pinks, with the actual storm cell being illuminated. I’m pretty sure I set a new record in getting setup and shooting. Camera on tripod, turn it on, into manual mode, aperture to f/6.3, ISO to 100, and shutter speed to live composite. I was getting a well exposed photo with 1.6 second updates. Start shooting. I normally run live composite for 20-60 seconds depending on cloud speed as they can start to look weird if they move too much. Second frame there was a massive flash in front of me, and this amazing bolt appeared on my screen.

Red and pink skies of sunset at Redbank near Ipswich Queensland Australia as a massive lightning bolt strikes down from a storm cell. Simply stunning landscape, storm and weather photography from Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro Lens, ISO 100, F/6.3, Live Composite 1.6sec updates

We’ll jump for joy and high fiving myself, I quickly went live on my facebook page to show the scene and what was happening. As luck would have it, the colour soon faded and no more bolts dropped, I got “the” shot and my best bolt this year by far.

This ended up going a little viral on Facebook and ended up on Sky News Weather Channel, ABC News and Sunrise on Channel 7 the next morning, it’s great when others appreciate your work.

I’ve also sold a few prints on canvas of this shot now, if you’d like one for yourself, simply contact me and I’ll send you pricing details.

I’ve also added this to my Lightning Portfolio, so be sure to check that out.

With more storms due this coming weekend, hopefully I can get a few more shots in the back, it’s always exciting but extreme care must be taken, quite a few people were injured in the last round.

That’s all for this week, stay safe!

Murray

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An absolutely stunning rural landscape photograph captured as the sun sets, lighting up the wheat fields around this beautiful old farming shack near Gatton in the Lockyear Valley, Queensland, Australia. Pure Australian Landscape at its best by Murray Fox Photography.

Little Brown House – Amazing Light After Storms

I had no luck chasing storms this weekend. They all developed further north of my location, too far away for me to get to in time as they formed quickly and moved quickly.

However, one thing I’ve learnt over the last 10+ years, some of the most amazing light comes during and just after bad weather. There were still a few unsettled systems around, the clouds were moving quickly, and it was midday. I figured it might be time to head out and have a play with some long exposures, all the while keeping an eye on the radar just in case something developed further.

I headed out Gatton way and met up with my good mate Craig. Craig is a local and with that comes local knowledge, and access to some amazing locations. We headed to a nearby property where there is a great old building. Waving to the lovely elderly owner as we came in, we setup around the shack and played with various filters, settings, framing, compositions while the clouds streamed across the sky. The colours were great, however it was very harsh light. We soon worked out around 12-16 stops of ND filters would give us around 4-6 minute long exposures if the sun was behind a cloud. Over the next hour or so we took a lot of photos.

In my mind I knew I wanted to get a black and white image. I put a polarising filter on, which had the two benefits of making the blue really pop in the sky (helps it go dark in conversion) and adding around 1-1.5 stops of darkness. Then I also put on a 10 stop and 6 stop filter. So all up, quite a lot of darkening to really get that super long exposure. Thankfully, Olympus has a great feature called Live Time. I set my aperture to F8, ISO to standard 200 for my camera, and the update interval to every 30 seconds. Then I press the shutter and the camera goes for it. Every 30 seconds the back screen updates with the exposure, and the histogram. It’s simply a matter of waiting until I think the exposure looks good and stopping the photograph. I converted the image to Black and White in Photoshop using Nik Silver Efex Pro and decided the darker moody look really worked with the side lighting that was going on and the amazing textures of the shack contrasting against the smooth sky from the long exposure. Here is the final result :

A stunning black and white long exposure of a rural shack near Gatton in Queensland, Australia
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro, ISO 200, F/8, 320 Seconds

This session was a lot of fun. We were in no rush and could really take our time and experiment. I showed Craig how I shoot panoramas, we played with taking time lapses, can’t beat a time like this. Finally we started noticing the colours were getting a little warmer, wow it was starting to get close to sunset.

Making the call, we moved locations to another fantastic shack that sits in the middle of a wheat crop. I’ve photographed Astro here before with Craig and this time were we hoping for one of those magic sunsets. As soon as we arrived and saw the colour of the golden wheat I told Craig we needed to get this photographed while the sun was still up as it would make the whole place glow. Well with the clouds still moving towards the west, the sun was breaking in and out so it was a bit of a race to setup, work out a composition and get some shots in the bag. I wanted to emphasise the amazing crop so I put the sky towards the top of the frame. I also didn’t want to make it all about the sun so I put it right off to the edge as best as I could while keeping a good angle on the shack. I used a Lee 2 stop hard Grad filter, angled slightly to the right to help balance the brightness of the sky with the ground. Within 5 minutes the sun broke through and I captured this photograph :

An absolutely stunning rural landscape photograph captured as the sun sets, lighting up the wheat fields around this beautiful old farming shack near Gatton in the Lockyear Valley, Queensland, Australia. Pure Australian Landscape at its best by Murray Fox Photography.
ISO 200, 12mm, F/5.6, 1/400 sec, 2 stop Lee Hard Grad filter

I honestly think this is the best rural landscape photograph I’ve captured to date and I’ve added it to my Landscape Portfolio. I’m absolutely in love with this image and it brings to my mind some of the awesome building/shack photographs that my idol Ken Duncan has captured over the years in panorama format. I work in 4:3 ratio as that is the standard of my camera and I really just love how everything fell into place with this photo. This will be 100% going on the wall at home.

We stayed until well after sunset, right through blue hour, hoping for more colour in the sky but the clouds to the west ended up blocking the rest of the light. I’m so happy we got here early enough to get this photograph. The title of this photograph was not selected by me, it’s actually the owner of the property who insisted we call it this if we get a photograph, so in honour and with many thanks for the access to his private property, I have called it Little Brown Shack, may she stand over the fields of gold for many years to come. Please make sure you have permission to get access to any locations on rural properties, it’s so important to respect their land.

As a bit of fun, I’d love to know what you think would be a great title for this photograph, post your ideas on the comments below!

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this weeks post. I do sell my photographs if you are interested in making a purchase. I can create whatever you need from Fine Art Prints, Framed Prints, Canvases, Prints on Acrylic, whatever you need I’m happy to help to get you the artwork you want on your wall. Just contact me and we’ll work it out.

Until next time!

Murray

 

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An absolute banging stunning sunrise dawn at Currumbin on the Gold Coast Queensland Australia by Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox

Currumbin Sunrise

Days watching the radar showed that a patch of high cloud coming in from the west could just make the coast in time for sunrise. It’s been a long time since I headed to the sea for photography and I felt that this would  be the best time to make the 1 hour + journey. I decided to head to Currumbin on the Gold Coast, more specifically, the point at the northern end of the beach where there are some great rock formations.

It was an early start, leaving home at 3:20am I arrived in the Currumbin carpark at 4:30am, a very good run. It was an hour before sunrise so I started to prep my gear as well as admire some of the sculptures on exhibition around the beach. A few are lit up a night, looking very cool on the sand. By 4:40am blue hour was starting and there was enough light to walk the beach out to the point.

Some big tips here. Sand is still @##@ cold at that time of day, and don’t leave your shoes back in the car, the rocks really hurt underfoot. For my first shot I tried to get a good frame of the biggest rock formation however the tide wasn’t letting me play ball. Ideally I needed to be further north, but then I’d be up to my neck in water so I settled for this composition where I’m only up to my knees and had to run away from the bigger waves. This was still very early dawn light so exposure time was long, and focusing was a bit hit and miss. I couldn’t use a filter to control the sky as the rock was too high so I very very carefully exposed to just get highlight warning on the middle far left (brightest part of scene) and then lifted the rest of the detail in post production. It came out pretty good in the end.

Stunning dawn sunrise of Currumbin Rock on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia is this beautiful seascape / landscape by Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5.2, 12-40mm Pro, ISO 200, 12mm, f/4, 15 seconds

The place was starting to get crowded and I wasn’t happy with any other compositions I could get with the rock so I moved around to the other side where there are some great rocky channels leading out to the sea. This time I did break out the filters and put on a 2 stop hard grad filter to bring the sky exposure down close to the foreground. Time to really get wet as I framed my shot and let the sets of waves roll in. My basic aim here was to let the water come all the way in, then take a burst of photos as the water receeded out. With a shutter speed between 1/3 and 2 seconds this gives the water detail but motion as well. This was my favourite out of the lot. You get wonderful lines in the movement of the water, you see the next set of waves coming, you can see Coolongatta in the distance framed between the rocks, and there is amazing colour everywhere, just great! I’ve added this photograph to my Landscapes portfolio I just love it that much.

An absolute banging stunning sunrise dawn at Currumbin on the Gold Coast Queensland Australia by Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox
ISO 200, F/8, 1/3 second

Once I was satisfied I had something here and the sun was about to break the horizon, I moved a little further east and setup above another channel running out, with a higher perspective you get a bit more of the view. The colour was still just amazing, and again, I was letting the water move as I took the photo with as long a shutter speed as I cloud, stopping the aperture down even further to help with that. I also put my ISO into low (100) which does reduce dynamic range, but helped get the shutter speed longer, so I was prepared for the trade off, and it worked.

A stunning sunrise at Currumbin on the Gold Coast Australia Queensland of the beautiful seascape view over the water looking towards Cooloongatta by Landscape, Storm and Weather Photographer Murray Fox.
ISO 100 (low), F/11, 1/5 second

So 3 great photos from a stunning sunrise morning. I’ll certainly have to head to the coast more often, forgot how much I missed the water after growing up and living on the beach in Sydney for the first 25 years of my life.

No real video this week. My youtube is something I’m still experimenting with. I think I’ll only post up in there when I have time to put together a good compilation rather than just a random weekly vlog. I’ll post up in my blog here when I do.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this weeks post. I do sell my photographs if you are interested in making a purchase. I can create whatever you need from Fine Art matte paper prints, Ready to hang Canvases, Prints on Acrylic, whatever you need I’m happy to help to get you the artwork you want on your wall. Just contact me and we’ll work it out.

Until next time!

Murray

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How to Fake an Ultra Wide Angle Photograph

Astro didn’t work out for me this week, so I decided to practice a technique I’ve only used a couple of times. By stitching a series of photographs taken with a normal field of view lens, it’s possible to get an ultra wide angle photograph.

I’m now going to be vlogging all of my photo trips and putting them on youtube. I’ve uploaded my first vlog which goes into more detail about how I captured this photograph :

And here is the end result photograph :

3x3 Grid Stitched Panorama
A beautiful sunset near Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. This blog and Vlog show how you can fake an ultra wide angle photograph using a normal lens.

Here is a list of the gear I use. These are affiliate links, by following them and making a purchase you help support my photography at no extra cost to yourself.

* Camera : Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II Body Only – Silver
* Canon FD to M43rd Adapter : K&F Concept Lens Mount Adapter for Canon FD Lens to Micro 4/3 Cameras
* My Goto Landscape Lens : Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Black Len
* My Favourite Tripod : ZOMEi Z818C Carbon Fiber Camera Tripod With Quick Release Plate and Ball Head (Blue)
* Best Budget Filters Ever : Zomei 10 in 1 Square Z-PRO Series Filter Kit
* Best Budget Portrait Lens Made! : Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 45mm F1.8 (Black) Lens
* The Perfect Walkaround Lens : Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 Pancake Lens
* A great CPL for your 12-40mm : Manfrotto MFESSCPL-62 62 mm Essential Circular Polarizer Filter
* The Best Aftermarket Battery Kit : DSTE 2X BLN-1 Battery + DC133 Travel and Car Charger Adapter

Be sure to visit at least weekly to keep up to date with my latest blog posts and can I suggest subscribing to my email list to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I’ll post links to each new blog post as it happens, also follow me on Instagram where I post up my photographs, and My Story will have lots of behind the scenes photos and videos.

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Overgrown – Forgotten Things

Astro season is well and truly progressing. Most photographs now are going to be with the milkyway core lower to the west and horizontal across the sky. It’s still very early in the morning to get these photos, peak time being between 1am and 3am Queensland time.

Most locals know of this shack out Mt Walker way, and I’ve been photographing it for years. A big mention here, please respect the owners property and do not enter. There have been issues in the past with people trespassing. There used to be a large tree behind the shack, it’s gone now, changing the scene somewhat but I’ve found it works well for the shot I envisaged. I just love the overgrowth on this old shack, which was originally a Butchers shop many years ago.

Part of my planning for this photo was I wanted to get the core larger than it would normally appear using a wide angle lens. So I used my Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 prime lens for this shoot. It has an equivalent of a 40mm field of view on a full frame camera, quite zoomed in from my normal photos.

The trick here is I couldn’t get all of the scene in one photograph. So putting the camera in vertical orientation, I took a series of shots across the landscape and created a panorama. Final crop brought it back to my standard 4:3 view ratio. By zooming in, the core appears much larger in respect to the foreground. You also end up with a larger photograph to work with from the final stitched result which is always nice.

The other aspect I had to contend with was the moon was up, and it was bright being a 1/2 moon. I was worried it would put too much light into the sky and I wouldn’t be able to capture the core. The benefit is it lights up the landscape beautifully, no lightpainting required this night. The photographs were taken at ISO 3200, 10 seconds, f/1.7. Such a high ISO but with so much light around, noise was really kept to a minimum.

I’ve added this photograph to my Astro Nightscapes gallery and this will become part of my Forgotton things collection in the future.

A beautiful night sky at Mt Walker near Ipswich Queensland Australia with the beautiful core of the Milkyway soaring over this old overgrown shack that used to be a butchers shop. Captured by Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5.2, Panasonic 20mm, ISO 3200, F/1.7, 10 seconds, Stitched Pano

Here is a list of the gear I use. These are affiliate links, by following them and making a purchase you help support my photography at no extra cost to yourself.

* Camera : Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II Body Only – Silver
* Canon FD to M43rd Adapter : K&F Concept Lens Mount Adapter for Canon FD Lens to Micro 4/3 Cameras
* My Goto Landscape Lens : Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Black Len
* My Favourite Tripod : ZOMEi Z818C Carbon Fiber Camera Tripod With Quick Release Plate and Ball Head (Blue)
* Best Budget Filters Ever : Zomei 10 in 1 Square Z-PRO Series Filter Kit
* Best Budget Portrait Lens Made! : Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 45mm F1.8 (Black) Lens
* The Perfect Walkaround Lens : Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 Pancake Lens
* A great CPL for your 12-40mm : Manfrotto MFESSCPL-62 62 mm Essential Circular Polarizer Filter
* The Best Aftermarket Battery Kit : DSTE 2X BLN-1 Battery + DC133 Travel and Car Charger Adapter

All of my photographs are available for purchase as Fine Art Prints in A2 and A3 size, as well as ready to hang Canvas Prints. Just contact me for pricing.

Be sure to visit at least weekly to keep up to date with my latest blog posts and can I suggest subscribing to my email list to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I’ll post links to each new blog post as it happens, also follow me on Instagram where I post up my photographs, and My Story will have lots of behind the scenes photos and videos.

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A stunning photograph of an old forgotten farm truck, slowly rusting away in the paddock under the brilliant core of the milkway in the night sky by Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox captured near Ipswich Queensland Australia

Forgotten Things – Title of this series I’m working on

I started out this winters astro photography season with a simple goal. Get some great photos and improve my skills. Little did I know I was going to strike so much gold out in those cold nights. Coming across various locations with beautiful old buildings and machinery, remnants of rural life, and being able to capture them under the core of the Milkyway is the stawberry on top of the icecream for me.

So much so that I’ve decided I will will make this a series and have I’m calling it “Forgotten Things”. I expect this to take a couple of years as astro season is pretty much half way through now. I found last night shooting to the east is no longer a real option, all shots from now will have to be to the west, which puts the core in a much more horizontal view.

I’ve been itching to get out all week to get this shot but the elements were conspiring against me. Calm conditions led to the various rural fire brigades back burning the build up of fuel on the ground in preparation for summer. There was far too much haze, especially to the west to get the core where I wanted it. It ended up being a bit of a race against time. Once the haze cleared, the clouds closed in for a day, and the moon was getting brighter and brighter, and higher in the sky each night.

Finally, I made the run for it last night. Leaving home there were still some clouds in the sky to the west but had just moved off when I went to shoot, thank goodness. My plan was to arrive on location right around 1:45am, which was moonset. I ended up being about 15 minutes early which is just fine, it allowed me to work on my composition a bit. I tried various setups, directions, orientations, I ended up going with landscape orientation for this. As I had to shoot side on to the truck, the width worked well, so now it was just a matter of waiting another 20 minutes for the core to get to the right spot. Easier said than done as the temperature dropped below freezing.

Finally things were good to go. For the stars I used an ISO of 5000, F/2.8 for my aperture and 15 seconds long exposure at 12mm on my Olympus lens. This is great dark sky country, and only 45 minutes from home, really letting me crank that ISO to get as much detail in the core as possible.

For the foreground shot, I swapped my camera over into Live Composite mode, dropped the ISO to 400 for a lot less noise, increased the aperture to F/4 for a little more depth of field and sharpness. Then activating live composite via my mobile phone and the Olympus App, I was able to walk around the truck, painting it with my torch, watching the updates on my phone. I just love Olympus technology so much. For those who don’t know, Live Composite is an in camera feature that takes a base exposure, then at an interval you set, updates that exposure with new light only, it’s the gold standard in technology for light painting, nothing does it better.

Back on the computer it was really a matter of opening both photos as layers in photoshop, and using a simple mask, blending one into the other. Once combined I then polished and processed to my taste, and here is the final result :

A stunning photograph of an old forgotten farm truck, slowly rusting away in the paddock under the brilliant core of the milkway in the night sky by Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox captured near Ipswich Queensland Australia
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro Lens, 2 images blended

I’ve added this photograph to my Astro Nightscapes Portfolio. Once I have around 10-15 photographs in this Forgotton Things Collection, I’ll create a separate page for those. Detail wise, I think this is my best astro photo to date. I’m totally confident in my skills and techniques now. Its really all down to waiting for the next dark moon, and finding the next forgotten thing to capture. What do you think about this new series I’m working on? Comment below, I’d love to read your views.

Here is a list of the gear I use. These are affiliate links, by following them and making a purchase you help support my photography at no extra cost to yourself.

* Camera : Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II Body Only – Silver
* Canon FD to M43rd Adapter : K&F Concept Lens Mount Adapter for Canon FD Lens to Micro 4/3 Cameras
* My Goto Landscape Lens : Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Black Len
* My Favourite Tripod : ZOMEi Z818C Carbon Fiber Camera Tripod With Quick Release Plate and Ball Head (Blue)
* Best Budget Filters Ever : Zomei 10 in 1 Square Z-PRO Series Filter Kit
* Best Budget Portrait Lens Made! : Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 45mm F1.8 (Black) Lens
* The Perfect Walkaround Lens : Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 Pancake Lens
* A great CPL for your 12-40mm : Manfrotto MFESSCPL-62 62 mm Essential Circular Polarizer Filter
* The Best Aftermarket Battery Kit : DSTE 2X BLN-1 Battery + DC133 Travel and Car Charger Adapter

All of my photographs are available for purchase as Fine Art Prints in A2 and A3 size, as well as ready to hang Canvas Prints. Just contact me for pricing.

Be sure to visit at least weekly to keep up to date with my latest blog posts and can I suggest subscribing to my email list to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



You can also follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I’ll post links to each new blog post as it happens, also follow me on Instagram where I post up my photographs, and My Story will have lots of behind the scenes photos and videos.

Share and Like!
A stunning portrait of an Australian Pelican in the early morning sun, captured near Ipswich Queensland Australia by Landscape, Storm, and Weather photographer Murray Fox, branching out into wildlife photography and explaining how to use adapted Canon FD lenses on Micro Four Thirds Olympus OMD Em5.2 Cameras.

Bird Portraits with Micro Four Thirds & Adapted Lens

My favourite photographic competition is open again, the Ipswich Enviroplan. Run by my local council, this competition always gets a huge amount of amazing entries across the categories and I like to try and get a few entries in at least each one.

My fortay is landscapes, and I see it as a real challenge to photograph wildlife, especially birds. Micro four thirds cameras until recently have always struggled with this type of photography as they didn’t have the focus capabilities required especially for birds in flight. The latest top level cameras now have no issue at all with this, but I’m using slightly older tech. Regardless, when it comes to bird portraits (as I like to call them) focus is not as critical and it can be incredibly enjoyable getting out and about with just a long lens and camera, walking local parks, looking for subjects.

The issue for me has always been the cost of long lenses. The latest offerings by Olympus in the 40-150mm Pro and the amazing 300mm Pro are literally thousands of dollars, well out of my budget. But this doesn’t mean you have to go without. The photos in this post were all captured using a 20 year old 70-210mm F4 Canon FD lens, adapted to my Olympus OMD Em5.2 camera. The absolute beauty of Micro four thirds is because there is no mirror, and the smaller sensor size, you can adapt pretty much any lens out there and use it! This lens gives me the full frame equivalent of a 140-410mm lens, prefect for bird portraits.

When adapting lenses, keep in mind it’s best to get a fully manual lens (one that has adjustable aperture on the lens and is all manual focus). I believe you can adapt some autofocus lenses but the adapters can cost more than the lens. My Canon FD cost me a whopping $70 on ebay and the adapter was $27 On Amazon. Under $100 for a long telephoto zoom, than when used right works brilliantly? Yes please.

Take this first photo as an example of what you can capture with this lens. I’ll go through recommendations for settings further into this post. It was bright light, around 9am in the morning, and quite a high contrast scene. By exposing for the brightest feathers on the Pelican, I was able to make the background almost entirely black, really isolating the bird and to me, creating a wonderful portrait.

A stunning portrait of an Australian Pelican in the early morning sun, captured near Ipswich Queensland Australia by Landscape, Storm, and Weather photographer Murray Fox, branching out into wildlife photography and explaining how to use adapted Canon FD lenses on Micro Four Thirds Olympus OMD Em5.2 Cameras.
Olympus OMD Em5.2, Canon FD 70-210mm, F/8, ISO 200, 1/800 sec

The way I use this setup is to stop down the aperture on the lens 2 to 3 clicks, ending up around F/7.1 to F/8. This really helps minimise chromatic aberration these old lenses with their old coatings can get in high contrast scenes. You’ll see this as purple and green edges where bright and dark areas meet. Any aberration left is easily removed in post production.

I put the camera into full manual (M) mode. I will set the shutter speed depending on what focal length I’m at, and how much light there is, but as a general rule of thumb I try and have a shutter speed twice that of the focal length. For this shot I was at 210mm on the lens, which is the equivalent of 420mm on a full frame camera, hence I was at 1/800 of a second shutter. This helps eliminate any blurring from camera movement.

Yes the Olympus has brilliant 5 axis in camera stabilisation, and I’ll use it low light, but if I can get away not using it I will, I’ve just gotten sharper results, birds like to move unfortunately. The final adjustment is ISO. This is the setting I mainly use to adjust my exposure. If the bird is too dark, I’ll increase ISO, if it’s too bright, I’ll lower ISO. I set one of my dials to adjust ISO, making this super easy to do on the fly. If I’m at my max lowest ISO, I’ll then change the aperture to a higher F number like F/11, but to be honest, you rarely get that much light.

I will happily go to ISO 6400 to get a photo but generally max out around 3200. The main trick with Micro four thirds cameras is never under expose the shot. If you can adjust exposure so you are one tick off clipping the highlights, then you’ll most likely have a good photo and the noise will be very controllable, and actually add some detail.

This photograph I captured at ISO 2300, the histogram was as far right as it could go without touching the right edge, a perfect exposure. In post production I actually have to reduce the exposure to get everything back to looking good, and this really reduces the noise in the image. It’s the biggest trick with any camera and high ISO shots.

A beautiful Rainbow Lorikeet surrounded by colourful Grevillia photographed by Murray Fox, Landscape, Weather and Storm photographer at Colleges Crossing near Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Olympus OMD Em5.2, Canon FD 70-210mm, F/8, ISO 2500, 1/640 sec

I should also mention here in bold, SHOOT IN RAW! This is really critical. Shooting in Raw captures so much more data than JPG does, allows you get really get colours correct, and is very important with regards to noise.

Other important settings I use is only shoot using the mechanical shutter. I’ve tested and tested and I can never get a photo as sharp using the electronic shutter as I can with the mechanical. I usually shoot in Sequential Low with the Diamond which stands for anti-shock being enabled. This gives me around 5 frames per second, and the birds generally are not moving that fast I can’t get a good series of shot from a burst or two. It also saves filling up the memory card so much and trying to sort through so many photos later back home!

For my view setup, I will enable highlight/shadow warning and the histogram in both live view and viewfinder. This allows you to very quickly judge if you are over or under exposed, and as mentioned before, you never want to be underexposed, which is different to letting some parts go black, but you want the bulk of the data as far right on that historgram as possible.

Now to probably the hardest thing to do with these old lenses, focus. It’s all manual, no autofocus here, you have to zoom, find the bird, fill the frame, focus, and shoot all in a very short space of time. Thankfully there are some great tools in Micro Four thirds that really help with this and the king is Focus Peaking. I have a button set to enable/disable focus peaking on my OMD. The reason for this is with the focus peaking enabled, you don’t get highlight/shadow warning or histogram in your viewfinder, so if the bird moves, or the light changes, you might now have an incorrect exposure as we are shooting all manual here.

So I will first check my exposure, then enable focus peaking and get the eye of the bird in focus (most important) and shoot a burst. If light changes, I’ll turn off the peaking and adjust. Rinse and repeat. With a button mapped this becomes second nature and extremely fast. You can also use zoom assist to really get in close and nail the focus, but usually only the the bird is quite content where it is and not going anywhere fast, this really takes time.

That’s exactly how I captured this last photograph. I really really love how this beautiful Blue-Faced Honeyeater is surrounded by those amazing orange Grevillea, a perfect frame for a beautiful subject. This also really shows off the depth of field you can obtain at 420mm f/8, quite impressive and lovely and smooth out of focus areas.

A beautiful Blue-faced Honeyeater surrounded by stunning Grevillea as photographed by Murray Fox, Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer at Colleges Crossing near Ipswich, Queensland Australia
Olympus OMD Em5.2, Canon FD 70-210mm, F/8, ISO 2300, 1/640 sec

So I’ll be out and about chasing more birds over the next few weeks, using all of the techniques I’ve discussed here. If you have the money, yes the latest offerings from Panasonic and Olympus are going to be a lot easier to use and give stunning results, or even some of the older gear like the Olympus 75-300mm will work very well. However, if you’re on a real tight budget, maybe even have an old lens lying around at home, adapt it and go!

Here is a list of the gear I use. These are affiliate links, by following them and making a purchase you help support my photography at no extra cost to yourself.

* Camera : Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II Body Only – Silver
* Canon FD to M43rd Adapter : K&F Concept Lens Mount Adapter for Canon FD Lens to Micro 4/3 Cameras
* My Goto Landscape Lens : Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Black Len
* My Favourite Tripod : ZOMEi Z818C Carbon Fiber Camera Tripod With Quick Release Plate and Ball Head (Blue)
* Best Budget Filters Ever : Zomei 10 in 1 Square Z-PRO Series Filter Kit
* Best Budget Portrait Lens Made! : Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 45mm F1.8 (Black) Lens
* The Perfect Walkaround Lens : Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 Pancake Lens
* A great CPL for your 12-40mm : Manfrotto MFESSCPL-62 62 mm Essential Circular Polarizer Filter
* The Best Aftermarket Battery Kit : DSTE 2X BLN-1 Battery + DC133 Travel and Car Charger Adapter

All of my photographs are available for purchase as Fine Art Prints in A2 and A3 size, as well as ready to hang Canvas Prints. Just contact me for pricing.

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A beautiful young tree showing autumn colour surrounded by long winter dry grass in Ipswich Queensland Australia as captured by Landscape PHotographer Murray Fox using a Mamiya 645 Medium Format Film Camera , the Mamiya 45mm Lens and Kodak Ektar 100 film.

Fun with Film 17/06/18

I’ve finally gotten around to getting my first two rolls of colour film developed. Both of these are Kodak Ekatar 100 film. One roll I shot with my Lubitel 166u square format twin lens camera, the other roll I shot with my Mamiya 645 Medium format camera and a variety of lenses.

I used Fotofast in Brisbane for the development, very fast (2 hours) and well priced, best benefit is not too far from home either saving postage costs. Both rolls came out well developed and I think I only underexposed a couple of frames, both on the Lubitel which was before I got my spot meter. All the photos on the Mamiya using the spot meter came out perfect.

It’s certainly a huge learning curve. Not only do you have to get exposure right, but you then have to learn how to scan, how different films react to different light. I’m using an Epson v550 Photo scanner which does both 35mm and 120mm film well.

I’m still working my way through scanning the photos and putting the final touches on them but wanted to share with you what I have captured so far. None of these are earth shattering photos, they are about the learning process, trying different subjects in different light and learning all the steps with an aim towards knowing the whole process inside and out. Only then will I truly start to capture what I think will be very unique and stunning film photographs.

I actually love how this first photo came out. Using the Mamiya and the longest lens I have for it, a 150mm, shooting with the aperture wide open, the shallow depth of field is amazing with medium format. This is something I going to have to explore a lot more of. These lilies are not far from home in a little hidden pond, a nice discovery that I’ll be visiting again for sure.

Water lilies in the pond captured on Kodak Ektar 100 Film using a Mamiya 645 Medium format camera and a Mamiya 150mm lens by Landscape Photographer Murray Fox in Ipswich Queensland Australia
Mamiya 645, Ektar 100, 150mm Lens

This next photograph is my favourite so far from the Lubitel. It shoots in square format which really changes how you end up composing a photograph. I captured this at Governors Lookout near Spicers Gap in the scenic rim of South East Queensland Australia during the photowalk a little while ago. That early morning soft light, the slight imperfections of the camera softening the edges. I really like the feel of this, can’t wait to try it in some mist and fog. Pretty dang good for a $40 medium format camera from Russia!

Beautiful gum trees on a hill, one with the bark splitting from it as the early morning light bathes the bush near Spicers Gap in south east Queensland Australia by Landscape Photographer Murray Fox, captured on Film using a Lubitel 166 universal and Kodak Ektar 100 film.
Lubitel 166 Universal, Kodak Ektar 100.

Next is another Lubitel shot. The light was pretty harsh and I did underexpose this a bit. What it shows is if this film is underexposed, you still capture all the detail perfectly, but a blue cast that is not easy to get rid of can appear across the image. Especially in the shadows. Better to overexpose a touch and really get those wonderful Kodak Ektar colours.

Queens Park in Ipswich Queensland Australia in stunning autumn colour captured with a Lubitel 166 universal camera using Kodak Ektar 100 film by Landscape Photographer Murray Fox.
Lubitel 166u, Kodak Ektar 100

This next photo, shot on the Mamiya, shows what colour you can get when you get the exposure bang on. It also blew me away how narrow the depth of field is with the 150mm when used in close, I’m really going to have to watch that, but it will be fun to use it on the correct scene as well!

A beautiful vibrant colourful bird of paradise flower as captured by Landscape photogapher Murray Fox in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Mamiya 645, Mamiya 150mm, Kodak Ektar 100

Finally a photo of what I’m hoping to really use my Mamiya setup for, landscapes! I found this young tree showing some nice colour in a park near home. The golden hour light was falling across enhancing the gold even more. The lack of clouds wasn’t ideal but I do like the contrast of the blue on the gold.

A beautiful young tree showing autumn colour surrounded by long winter dry grass in Ipswich Queensland Australia as captured by Landscape PHotographer Murray Fox using a Mamiya 645 Medium Format Film Camera , the Mamiya 45mm Lens and Kodak Ektar 100 film.
Mamiya 645, Mamiya 45mm Lens, Kodak Ektar 100 Film

Let me know in the comments below which is your favourite photo from this weeks post, and if you shoot film, let me know what you are shooting gear and film wise, drop a link to your work, I always love to be inspired by others!

Visit again to keep up to date with my latest blog posts and can I suggest subscribing to my email list to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



 

Be sure to visit regularly, follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I’ll post links to each new blog post as it happens, also follow me on Instagram where I post up my photographs, and My Story will have lots of behind the scenes photos and videos.

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Finding shelter against the impending storm, these cows may be in for a rough time. South East Queensland Australia is well known for it's storm season each summer, this system caused widespread flooding and hail damage.

News – My interview with Ipswich First is now live

Hi everyone, I’ve been away for a week visiting family, it was great to catch up with them. My parents live on the central coast of NSW, a beautiful part of the world. I didn’t do much photography during my visit, the weather really wasn’t playing ball. I did manage one sunset at a spot I’ve wanted to shoot for a while, colours were interesting, I’ll post process that photo on the weekend and share it up here for you all to enjoy. If it comes out well, I think it may end up on the wall at my folks place.

I recently did an interview for Ipswich First, an online website with news and interest articles for the area around where I live. The interview is regarding my storm photography and I share some of my work, some stories behind the photos, and some tips for people interested in capturing storm photographs.

You can read the full interview here : https://www.ipswichfirst.com.au/ipswich-weather-photographer-finds-hidden-gems/

Please subscribe to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



 

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A beautiful old tractor sits in the paddock as the core of the milky way lights up the sky above it near Kalbar and Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia south of Ipswich.

Kicking off Milkyway Season with a Bang!

With clear skies at night, not too cold and not too warm, conditions were absolutely perfect to chase some Milky Way photographs. It would mean a couple of late nights as the core only started to rise around 11pm, with peak time 1-2am however it certainly was worth it.

During the off season I’ve been watching a lot of videos and reading up on various techniques used by the best of the best when it comes to night time and astro photography. I had a head full of new ideas, which included changes to how I worked in the field capturing the images, as well as how I post processed the photos back on the computer.

Now I’ll be very up front about this, none of these photographs are a single image. It’s possible to do, however I don’t believe you can get the quality of file, increase of detail and control of noise in a single image, that you can get with multiple exposures. Some people get their knickers in a knot if it isn’t a single photograph, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. My simple goal was to create an image of the vision in my head, using any tools and methods I could.

I met up with a very good friend and we decided to head south of Ipswich towards the rural farming areas. I knew of a couple of barns and other items that could make for a very interesting foreground, and hopefully would line up with the Milky Way behind them. I simply cannot pick which photograph is my favourite.

First stop was a barn and god was with us as it was full to the brim of bales. The sky here is so dark you can easily see the Milky Way with your eyes and that makes framing a since. I setup my gear, firmly locked down my tripod and focused on the stars (Olympus is amazing in that you can use focus peaking on the stars, just pick a bright one and it’s done). I proceeded to capture 8 photographs at ISO 5000, F/2.8, 15 seconds per exposure, at 12mm (equivalent to 24mm on a full frame camera. The 15 seconds ensures no star movement for pinpoint lights. I really racked up the ISO as I knew I would be stacking in and that will significantly reduce noise.

Once the sky shots were done, the fun began. I switched my camera to Live Composite mode, dropped the ISO to 400 for a lot cleaner file, and let it start. I used a torch to light paint the barn, first from the left side until the exposure was where I wanted it, then added a little fill from the right to soften the shadows.

All of this was stacked, blended, merged etc in Photoshop, there are some great videos on youtube about how to do this. And here is the final result!

An amazing night time photograph of a barn full of hay bales, beautiful illuminated with the core of the milky way rising behind it near Kalbar and Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia south of Ipswich.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro, Multiple Exposures

Next we moved on down the road to where I had previously seen a tractor. Not knowing it was still there, I was very thankful I had spotlights on my 4wd to help light up the sides of the road, otherwise I may have missed it.

For this photograph the techniques used on the barn would be the same. This time I had to set the camera lower and closer, trying to fill the frame with as much of the tractor as possible, but still allowing room for the Milky Way around it. We could hear a pump running out in the field and before long, the Farmer who owns this land was out on his bike in the dark (stuffed if I know how he didn’t hit something!) checking his sprayers. He dropped over to say G’day (and check what we were doing). He was off to bed for a few hours nap before getting up to check the sprayers again. Life can be gruelling for a farmer, they all have my utmost respect.

Again, I captured 8 images for the sky and one light painted one for the tractor and ground. I always recommend painting from both sides to even out the light a little.

A beautiful old tractor sits in the paddock as the core of the milky way lights up the sky above it near Kalbar and Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia south of Ipswich.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro, Multiple Exposures

There was one more photograph I had envisaged to capture before heading out this night, and that was of some beautiful crop lights with the Milky Way over them. Unfortunately it looks like I missed out by one day as all the fields had been just harvested. I’ll just have to wait until later in the season to get that photograph. So instead we took a drive back into Peaks Crossing where you have a clear view of Flinders Peak to the east. By this time (2am) the core was at a nice height in the sky. Again I captured 8 images to stack for the sky, and used my torch to paint in the foreground. On a clear night light this, if you are staying in an area with pretty much the same light pollution levels, you rarely need to change your settings, allowing you to spend much more time on the important things like composition and spooking yourself in the dark.

A stunning view of the core of the milky way as it rises over Flinders Peak near Peak Crossing in the Scenic Rim south of Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro, Multiple Exposures

Finally as a bonus, I had headed out the night before this to South Ripley to do a test run of my settings, post techniques etc. I captured this photograph. I think it’s came out a bit dark, ISO used for the sky was 3200, which is why I upped to 5000 for the next night. Practice pays.

A beautiful clear night at South Ripley, near Ipswich Queensland Australia as the core of the milky way rises over the farmland.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark 2, 12-40mm Pro, Multiple Exposures

As the season progresses, I’ll be doing a lot more astro photography. Thank you for reading.

Please subscribe to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



 

Be sure to visit regularly, follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I’ll post links to each new blog post as it happens, also follow me on Instagram where I post up my photographs, and My Story will have lots of behind the scenes photos and videos.

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