Tag: landscape

The stunning core of the milky way rises over this magnificent old steam train near Rosewood not far from Ipswich, Queensland, Australia by Landscape, Weather and Storm photographer Murray Fox

Train Core

With another winters blast coming through in the last few days, moon set around sunset, and no light from the moon regardless, right now is the absolutely perfect time for astro photography this week.

As mentioned in my earlier blog post, I wanted to head back to the steam trains and see if I could capture a photograph with the core of the Milky Way over them. This turned out the be much more of a challenge than I first envisaged.

To start with, it’s actually a bit late in the season to shoot the core facing east now (which is the direction I have to face for this photo). As soon as dark night starts at around 6:30pm, the core is almost 60degrees up, very high and not as vertical as I was hoping. The next big problem, literally, is the size of these engines. Even with my widest angle lens I could not get even half of a train in vertical format, what to do what to do. I could try a panorama, but I was light painting the train, it would be very hard to get the same light between shots.

So I decided I’ll have to do some magic back on the computer to really bring it all together. What I ended up capturing was a vertorama, or vertical panorama. With the camera in horizontal orientation, I took a photo of the train, light painting it. I then took another photo with the camera in the same position for the stars behind. I then tilted the camera up, took another star shot and did this 2 more times. So I ended up with 5 photographs. It’s always a bit nerve racking to capture photos this way as you can’t see the end result. I knew I had a good shot of the train. I knew I had a good shot of the core, but would it all blend and stitch together, only time on the PC would tell.

Back on the computer it was time to get to work. I edited the light painted train photo first, getting it how I wanted. I then edited the photo of the core to get that right, and synced it’s settings to the other star photographs. I then took the light painted photo, and the corresponding star photo into Photoshop and using masks, merged the two together. This is basically putting one photo on top of the other, and then painting in around the train to reveal the light paining. I really like this process, it’s almost like I’m an artist working with a brush. Finally this photo was saved down and then all the photos stitched together into a panorama. The stitching worked perfectly, those trees left and right were a god send helping the software work out where each image started.

From there its my usual polish and creativity with contrast and colour to get this end result :

The stunning core of the milky way rises over this magnificent old steam train near Rosewood not far from Ipswich, Queensland, Australia by Landscape, Weather and Storm photographer Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5.2, 12-40mm Pro, 5 images stitched and stacked.

I’ve added this photograph to my Nightscape Gallery.

For camera settings, for the light painting photo, ISO 400, F2.8, shutter locked open for around 2 minutes as I painted the train with my torch. For the star photos, ISO 2000 (I’m facing Ipswich in this direction so couldn’t get higher), F2.8, 15 seconds per photograph.

Thank you for reading. I’ll be out and about a fair few nights this coming week getting more astro photos, I can’t wait to share them with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments by posting below.

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Two amazing old steam train locomotives lie in rest at the end of the line surrounded by a beautiful sunrise in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia by Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox

End of the Line

If you look long enough you can find some amazing things in the countryside. Ipswich, where I live, seems to be blessed with some great subjects, interesting locations, and amazing views. I never get tired of discovering new things, especially when they are super photogenic.

There is a long history of rail in Ipswich that continues to be strong to this day. A visit to the Workshops Rail Museum in town is a must do for anyone living or visiting the region. You can also go for a ride on a working steam train run by the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway out of Ipswich.

So when I found a location that had some beautiful locomotives in their final resting place I knew it would make an amazing photograph. For my first visit here I decided to try it for a sunrise. Arriving around 30 minutes before sunrise I walked around checking out various angles and framing. There are actually 3 locomotives here, plus extra carriages but I decided to focus just on the two lead engines.

It was a bit touch and go if there was going to be any colour, but a few minutes after sunrise, the top clouds lit up with golden hues contrasting against the blue sky, and I found this to be a really nice framing to the amazing colour and detail of the locomotives. I spent a bit of time in post processing on this one, really working on the detail of the trains to show all that weathering and age.

Two amazing old steam train locomotives lie in rest at the end of the line surrounded by a beautiful sunrise in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia by Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5.2, 12-40mm Pro, F/8, ISO 200, 1/15sec

I’m looking forward to visiting this amazing location again, I really want to try and create an astro photograph with these wonderful old steel horses.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this weeks blog post. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments by posting below.

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An amazing old farm truck, going to rust, lies in the open paddock as amazing light and colour of sunrise bursts across the landscape south of Ipswich, Queensland Australia in this amazing Rural photograph my Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox.

Sunrise Truck

Well after a false start yesterday (I slept in!) I kicked myself out of bed at 5am this morning to head out for dawn and sunrise. There was a pretty good cloud cover, I wasn’t sure if there was going to be any light, but fortune favours the brave and I pushed on to a secret spot south of Ipswich I’ve been wanting to photograph for over a year.

I first discovered this truck last year when driving around the back roads looking for locations. I find these random scouting trips and produce awesome locations if you think about what the light will do at certain times of the day. This old truck just sitting in a field I thought should be good for a sunrise, as well as for an astro photo, depending on the time of year and direction you face.

Using various apps and the Photographers Ephemeris is figured winter would be the best time of year with the best chance of light coming up behind the truck. I arrived on site around 20 minutes before dawn colour should start. So it was a matter of sitting back in the car, reading a good book (I’m currently reading my way through Brandon Sandersons Oathbringer) and waiting to see what would happen.

Once there was enough light on the landscape, I setup shop, using two tripods, one with my Mamiya 645 medium format camera and one with my Olympus OMD Em5.2 digital camera. I captured photographs with both, I’ll have to wait to finish the film roll to see what colours the Ektar 100 film brought out.

I used a 2 stop hard grad filter to control the sky, pretty much evening the exposure right across the scene. Settings on my Olympus with the 12-40mm pro lens were ISO 200, 12mm, f/8.0 and 1/2 second time, it was still pretty dark. The light and colour just exploded across the scene, and only lasted a couple of minutes, just enough time to get shots with both cameras. You really need to know your gear when the light happens that quickly, especially across two systems lol!

An amazing old farm truck, going to rust, lies in the open paddock as amazing light and colour of sunrise bursts across the landscape south of Ipswich, Queensland Australia in this amazing Rural photograph my Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox.
ISO 200, 12mm, F/8.0, 1/2 second

I’ve added this photograph to my Landscape portfolio and it’s available for purchase as an A2, A3 or Canvas print. Just contact me for pricing.

The clouds pretty much closed in after this and the light was gone. No more photographs this day but I will be back to this location sometime in the next few weeks to try and shoot an astro photograph, this time from the front with the core of the milky way behind. If I can capture what I’m visualising it should be another amazing phtoograph.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this weeks blog post. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments by posting below.

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Amazing frost and icicles in the winter hang from this fence line near Warwick in Queensland Australia as the beautiful dawn light approaches in the landscape photography by landscape, storm and weather photographer Murray Fox

Frost Hunting

Conditions were looking good for some frost up the range this morning so I headed out at 4am to make the 1.5 hour trip. I’ve been to this area before but never looking for frost so I wasn’t quite sure what I would find. Arriving at location before dawn, it certainly was looking good, as stepping out of the car seemed like a mission in insanity as the chill hit me full force.

As the sunrise approached, my first location was proving to have no frost. I decided to move to another area, and driving along the highway I noticed a few farms were spraying water on their crops. I knew I had to find a spot where this was happening as that was my best chance of getting frost. Turned out only one was near a road, not quite facing the ideal direction towards the sun for me, but I really liked the background view, and the dawn colour coming through was amazing.

It was quite a mission to get these frost photos, as the sprayer was still operating, only giving you a minute or so window to run in, setup, get your shot, and run away again or cop a very very cold drenching! This first photo shows the wonderful icicles hanging off the fence line as the sun approaches the horizon below the range in the distance. Captured using my Olympus OMD EM5 Mark2, and the Olympus 12-40mm pro lens mounted on my Zoemi carbon fibre tripod (it’s light weight is a god send when running away from water lol!). I’ve added this first photograph to my Landscape portfolio.

Amazing frost and icicles in the winter hang from this fence line near Warwick in Queensland Australia as the beautiful dawn light approaches in the landscape photography by landscape, storm and weather photographer Murray Fox
ISO 200, 14mm, f.8.0, 1/20 sec

Now I waited for the sun to break over the mountains to the east as I wanted to see what that beautiful golden hour light would do to the scene. Behind me was a typical rural shed and as the light broke over the scene it lit it up and the background mountain with stunning golden light. I shot this is olympus high res mode and cropped it to 2:1 as the scene really worked with that wider view.

A classic rural golden hour sunrise near Warwick Queensland Australia landscape by Landscape, weather and storm photographer Murray Fox.
ISO 200, 18mm, f/8.0, 1/60 sec, Olympus Hi Res Mode.

Finally the sun hit the icicles and it was time for a close up. I zoomed in to 40mm (80mm equivalent on a full frame camera) and with the colours of the background, and the golden light hitting those stunning icicles, I just love this result. I’ll be printing this for my wall for sure!

Stunning frost icicles hang off a fence on a sub zero winters morning near Warwick in Queensland Australia as captured by Landscape, weather and storm photographer Murray Fox
ISO 200, 40mm, f/8.0, 1/60sec

Finally it was time to jump back into the car and defrost. Heater on full I made my way back down main range towards home, but not before stopping to capture this photograph the Main Range itself as it looked awesome in the last of the golden morning light.

ISO 200, 17mm, f/8.0, 1/640sec

So I didn’t get the whiteout I was secretly hoping for (very rare!) however I’m extremely happy with the images I did get. Winter isn’t even half way through yet and I’m sure there will be more cold mornings to go chance these wonderful scenes. Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this weeks blog post.

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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!

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Absolutely amazing colours of dawn over Mt Walker south of Ipswich and Rosewood in South East Queensland Australia by Landscape, Weather and Storm photographer Murray Fox

Chasing Earths Shadow – Mt Walker Dawn

Winter is finally here in Queensland and it’s off to a great start. Temperatures around home have plummeted at night, reaching sub zero and everyone is breaking out the blankets and stoking the fires.

It also means that there is a complete lack of cloud, which, for a landscape photographer, can be rather annoying. However, there are always other options. Anyone seeing any of the sunsets lately would have seen the wonderful deep orange glow across the horizon to the west as the sun dips down. If you turn around, you’ll see wonderful pinks and purples of the reverse sunset that gradually fade as the blue lifts up from the east and night approaches.

This I call earths shadow, and the best part is, it happens at sunrise as well! During the 10-15 minutes before sunrise, the sky to the west will have amazing colour. In fact, you’ll have 360 colour with the shades changing depending on which direction you face.

I headed out this morning hoping the temps had gotten low enough to create some frost around, but the humidity was too high and I would have had to travel several hours further to get the good frosts. That humidity however, created some wonderful fog around the low lying areas. Knowing just he spot that might work for both earths shadow, and fog, I made my way towards Mt Walker.

I’ve photographed an astro photo here previously and with everything looking brown and gold (and in much need of rain!) those purples, pinks and blues turned out to be an amazing contrast to the scene. This was taken around 5 minutes before the sun actually rose, looking south west. To the west of me was much more pink and orange and I’ll be heading out again tomorrow to see if I can get those colours with another great scene.

Captured with my Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, the Olympus 12-40mm Pro lens. I zoomed into 40mm (80mm equivalent on a full frame camera) to compress the scene, bringing Mt Walker closer to the water. I then used a Lee 2 stop hard grad filter to control the brightness in the sky and ensure I captured the colour. Finally I added a polarising filter to cut glare and really make those colours pop.

Absolutely amazing colours of dawn over Mt Walker south of Ipswich and Rosewood in South East Queensland Australia by Landscape, Weather and Storm photographer Murray Fox
ISO 200, f/5.6, 0.5 sec, 2 stop ND Grad, Polariser

I’ve added this photograph to my Landscape Gallery, be sure to check out my other images. I hope to have some film developed and scanned in the next week or so, can’t wait to see the results. 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.



 

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An amazing Broccoli shaped tree with the core of the milky way rising over it, stands tall near Boonah in the scenic rim of Queensland Australia captured by Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox

Broccoli Tree

I first came across this tree several years ago during a 4wd trip. It sits perched on the highest hill of the area, overlooking the valley below to the east. It’s actually two trees that have grown very closely together and become interwined. It’s shape reminds me very much of broccoli, hence the name I’ve given it.

The plan was to capture two photographs this evening. I wanted one with the tree and the core of the milkyway above it, and I thought it might be fun to take an astro selfie, or at least my take on it.

Arriving as the core was getting into position, I started with the selfie. The idea was to setup a remote flash, and stand in between it and the camera, so the flash backlit me. This actually proved harder than I thought, as it was pitch black, and the framing I wanted put me into the sky. I ended up with this shot, my hands are a bit blurred as it was a 15 second exposure I had to hold position for, but I think the effect in the end is great. So, hands up if you love astro photography like I do!

A selfie of Murray Fox under the core of the Milky way near Boonah in the scenic rim of Queensland Australia by Landscape, Weather and Storm Photographer Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5.2, 12-40mm Pro lens, ISO 3200, f/2.8, 15 seconds

I spent the next hour working on capturing a photogaph of the Broccoli tree. This proved a challenge simply due to the width of the tree. I couldn’t get as close as I wanted without cutting of sections and I didn’t want to do a panorama as I was light painting the tree and it would be nigh impossible to blend the shots.

Moving back was the simple answer, I kept the ground as low as possible to get as much of the sky as possible, even then I only ended up with a select part of the core visible.

This is all one exposure. I worked very quickly with my torch, taking care not to blow out any parts of the tree. As a result a bit more noise reduction was required on post than I normally do, but the result came out very nice. As long as you get enough exposure onto the sensor, noise is controllable. I won’t be printing billboards of this photo, but it will print up to A2 size quite nicely. I’ve added this photograph to my Astro Nightscapes galllery.

An amazing Broccoli shaped tree with the core of the milky way rising over it, stands tall near Boonah in the scenic rim of Queensland Australia captured by Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox
ISO 3200, f/2.8, 15 seconds

As astro season continues, I’ll be on the lookout for more interesting and varied subjects to shoot, so please visit weekly and follow me on social media to keep up to date with my latest works.

I really hope you enjoyed this weeks blog post as much as I enjoyed writing it for you. Can I suggest subscribing to my email list to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



 

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An amazing view of the core of the milky way rising over a windmill in the rural countryside near Ipswich Queensland Australia as captured by Award winning Landscape storm and weather photographer Murray Fox

Windmill Core

The moon has gone again this weekend and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky for 300ks. The temperature was forecast to be the lowest so far this year (around 5 degrees C in town, more like 2 degrees in the countryside). It looked like a perfect night for some more astro photography. With a slight breeze, everything stayed perfectly dry, no condensation whatsoever.

I caught up with my friend and after packing a few supplies (Picnic chocolate bars and Ice Coffee…yes Ice lol!) we headed out to a location I knew, but had not visited recently. I had word that a new windmill had been erected here and it looked like it was going to be in good alignment with the rising core of the Milkyway. With Mt Walker to the east of it, I thought I could get a really nice backdrop.

Arriving on sight we spent 10 minutes walking around looking at the angles. We noticed that we had a couple of problems to deal with. The first one as the core was not north enough to really put Mt Walker into the framing I wanted with the angle of lens I was using. The big one was the head of the windmill was facing almost due south, making it extremely hard to get a good view of it, and the core.

You can see from this first photograph the layout of the scene and one of my first attempts at seeing what result I could get. Mt Walker is to the left and there just wasn’t a workable angle.

A great view of Mt Walker at night with the core of the milky way rising over a windmill in this pure Australian Night time landscape photograph captured near Ipswich Queensland Australia by Award winning landscape weather storm photographer Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro, F/2.8, 15 seconds, ISO 5000

Never one to give up, and we had a good hour window of shooting before the core was too high in the scene. I kept moving around working angles. Around 80 photos later (and they are all long exposures) I found I really liked this composition. Going vertical to really show the height of the Windmill, the core almost comes blasting out of it. And to top it off there were meteorites regularly dropping across they sky.

The peak of those is next weekend, it was great to see some real fireballs this night. I switched to a 20mm f.17 prime lens for this shot allowing a shorter shutter time (less noise) and a wider aperture (more light). This more zoomed in lens also enlarges the size of the core compared to the foreground, really bringing it into view. This also really captured the colours in the stars. The windmill and ground were illuminated with a torch my friend held to the side of the scene, painting over it with very quick movements. The slight breeze was enough to cause the windmill to turn, and I like the blurring effect during the long exposure, gives a nice sense of movement. The flat top of Mt Walker in the background is just enough in frame here to add some interest and give a sense of location.

An amazing view of the core of the milky way rising over a windmill in the rural countryside near Ipswich Queensland Australia as captured by Award winning Landscape storm and weather photographer Murray Fox
ISO 3200, 8 seconds, 20mm, F/1.7

This photograph has been added to my Astro Nightscapes gallery, really flowing well with my recent captures.

I really hope you enjoyed this weeks blog post as much as I enjoyed writing it for you. Can I suggest subscribing to my email list to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



 

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Stunning sunrise from Govenors Chair Lookout at Spicers Gap overlooking the Fassifern Valley in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia by Award Winning Australian Landscape Photography Murray Fox

Govenors Chair Sunrise

This morning was a sunrise meet up for the Scenic Rim Photo Walks group and the plan was to shoot sunrise from a fantastic location. Govenors Chair lookout has a stunning view over Mt Greville and the Fassifern valley. The plan was to arrive around an hour before sunrise which was just after 6am. Being around an hours drive from home, my tired brain set my alarm for 4:40am…uh oh. A quick race out and thankfully no traffic, I was just in time for sunrise. The early colour lit the clouds nicely but I was looking for the light after the sun rose.

Fog was nestled in locations throughout the valley, and there was a lovely haze in the air that just lit up with the morning glow of the sun when it broke through the clouds. This first photograph was looking south east, encompasing a wider view and showing the magnificent gradations of light and colour on the landscape, I absolutely love light like this and this photo shows why. Mind the step tho, that is a straight drop off at the end of the rock! You must practice extreme care photographing here.

Stunning sunrise from Govenors Chair Lookout at Spicers Gap overlooking the Fassifern Valley in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia by Award Winning Australian Landscape Photography Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm, ISO 100, F/10, 1/500 Sec, 2 Stop Grad ND Filter

I also had my Lubitel medium format film camera with me. My first go at shooting colour film, I spent a lot of time metering and taking shots of various compositions as the light changed. I’ll have that roll back in a week or so, very excited to see what results I got, hopefully the exposure is okay because the colour should be amazing.

In between taking film shots, I took a more intimate photograph of Mt Greville. This is a beautiful peak from any direction and lies at the southern end of Lake Moogerah. The way the haze was lighting up the mountain, and the layers of the hills below me created beautiful steps of light that lead into the photograph. I composed this in portrait orientation to get as much of the hills below me in the shot while zoomed in a bit to really capture the size of Mt Greville. Let me know in the comments what you think of this photograph.

Mt Greville in the Scenic Rim of South East Queensland Australia at sunrise, viewed from Govenors Chair Lookout at Spicers Gap with stunning orange colours and light streaming through the landscape by Award Winning Australian Landscape Photography Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, ISO 100, F/10, 1/800 sec

It was a great morning, lovely to catch up with everyone on the photo walk. They are held monthly, I suggest checking the site out and coming along to a walk if you are in the area, it’s a great way to explore and see things you don’t normally see.

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Lubitel 166 Universal Murray Fox film photography landscape fomapan ektar 200 100 australia queensland

Ramblings – Exploring Film

Over the last year or so I’ve been playing around with film, in black and white which is the cheapest option I’ve found as I can develop at home quite easily.

It’s surprisingly a bit of a learning process. Digital cameras these days make life so much easier. My Olympus has live view in the view finder, will show me under and over exposed areas in real time, with a histogram overlay so getting exposure wrong is pretty much impossible. I’ve shot in RAW format for years which means every photo has to be post processed to bring back the contrast and colour and tweak it to show what I want to represent. I spend more time in front of the computer than behind the camera for sure, and I enjoy that process.

With film I’ve found I have to really slow down. Are my settings correct? Is my exposure right? I’ve had to re-learn measure exposure all over again. Every click of the shutter costs real money so you are double and triple checking every step, and also really considering the photograph, is it worth taking? It’s quite enjoyable and I find the results very rewarding.

I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at photographs I really enjoy, landscapes that inspire me, works that draw me in, and something I’ve discovered is the majority of those photos have been captured on film, and on large film to be precise. My recent trip to visit my family on the Central Coast of NSW saw me drop in to Ken Duncan’s Gallery (again!) and really spend some time viewing and looking at his works. They are printed big, on beautiful hahnemuhle paper, and framed wonderfully. These are the types of photographs I love. And it’s really interesting, you can spot the digital photographs he has taken with his awesome digital medium format cameras a mile away, they are sharp as a tack, amazing detail, but I kept leaning towards the photographs captured on film. They have a bit more glow, are usually a longer exposure, some of the details aren’t quite as sharp, you can see where the exposure had to be nailed to get it right at point of capture. And the colours..film has colours I don’t think digital can reproduce, they are just stunning.

I have two film cameras at the moment. A lovely Olympus Trip 35 point and shoot style 35mm camera that I generally load with black and white and use for street style photography or family snaps. It’s almost set and forget, just pick a focus zone and don’t worry about exposure, it nails it every time, yes, every single time, it’s an amazing piece of kit.

Olympus Trip 35 Film camera Murray Fox Australia Queensland photography
All that stuff around the lens measures the exposure, and powers the camera, no batteries here!

My next camera is a new purchase, a Russian made Lubitel 166 Universal. This is a twin lens reflex (TLR) medium format 120 film camera. It’s extremely simple and extremely manual in use, creates either a 6×6 or 6×4.5cm negative per photo (there is a mask you can change but you are looked into that option for each roll. You look down through the top to work out your composition, and use a little magnifying glass inside to get the focus correct.

 

Lubitel 166 Universal Murray Fox film photography landscape fomapan ektar 200 100 australia queensland
The cheapest medium format camera anywhere in the world, and gives great results when used right!

I’m working my way through a roll of black and white Fomapan 200 creative at the moment with this camera and absolutely loving the process. Working on a tripod (as I always do) getting the composition just right (the view is back to front so it makes you work for it!), measuring the exposure of the scene (I use a simple phone app), putting your settings in, cocking the shutter and then taking the photo. In 2 hours on the weekend I took two shots, total! And I loved it! The whole process of slowing down, really looking at the light of a scene, double checking exposure, framing, settings, and finally committing to the shot is really amazing to me.

My first roll is almost finished and this weekend I’m taking another little step in my film journey and shooting some Ektar 100 colour negative film. This is the modern landscape film of choice. Velvia 50 is what Ken Duncan uses a lot but it’s a lot harder and more expensive to use. The Ektar is very forgiving if you don’t quite get the exposure correctly and gives amazing colour and contrast. I’m really excited to see what results I can get from this film.

Medium format film, scanned in properly, will give a photograph file far larger than anything you can get from any DSLR digital camera, I’m talking hundreds of megapixels of data with a massive range of tones. I can scan a 35mm negative in at around 60mp, I can scan a 6×6 negative in at around 6 times that! The trick I use is I actually use my Olympus OMD Em5 MarkII digital camera, with a macro lens to take a photo of the negative, in hi res mode! Works startling well if you prep everything right.

All of this has me thinking about the next step in my photography. I really want to capture more landscapes with film, and I really want to have the full ability of selective choice in composition. I want big negatives that can give incredibly huge prints, I want the colours and tones that film gives with that beautiful fine grain. And I want bigger than 120 medium format! So now I’m saving, I’m working on getting a 4×5 field View Camera, a modern day version of what Ansel Adams used to use (although he was shooting bigger again with 8×10 I believe). A camera where it’s one shot per film, you need a dark cloth over you and the back of the camera just to compose, but you have the amazing ability to change the lens height, angle, swing for amazing depth of field, or custom focus bands. And a negative that is 4inch x 5inch in size, scanned size? @#%#@ huge!!

So I’m not quitting digital, I love my Olympus and it’ll be with me this weekend. But I’ll have the Lubitel and Olympus Trip with me as well, and they’ll be taking photos in a different way, it will be very interesting to see the results. I think film has a future in my work, some of the results that can be achieved with film are astonishing, and the process of slowing down, the time involved means more investment personally with every photograph taken. I look forward to a hybrid future of digital and analog.

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