Category: Tips

The chair at the top of Mt French in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia near Boonah as photographed on a Crown Graphic 4x5 film camera using Kodak Tmax 100 by Australian Landscape photographer Murray Fox

The next step – Large Format Photography

I was fortunate enough to come across a great deal and as an end result I am now the happy owner of a 50+ something year old Crown Graphic 4×5 camera. Simplicity itself to use, it’s basically a light tight box with a lens attached and a ground glass at the back for framing and focusing. It does have some other dohickies to help with that as well but I want to keep everything simple.

This camera takes 4inch x 5inch sheet film (HUGE!) or I can also use 120 Medium format film with a rear attachment for 8 shots in 6cm x 9cm size (again, still massive). This gives me the best of both worlds really. I can shoot 6×9 and keep costs down and go for the 4×5 when only the best quality will do.

Currently I’m only geared up to do 4×5 in black and white, but will be working to get colour home development sorted in the next month or so, then I will probably shoot more 4×5 than anything else.

Why 4×5? There are several things really that I wanted. One, is huge size/great quality, you get this in spades with the negatives. You also shoot one at a time and can change between different films on the fly as long as you have them loaded in a holder. A lot harder to do with medium format where you must finish the current roll, or carry multiple (and expensive) backs.

You can develop 1 photo at a time, especially nice with black and white as you can then do neat tricks with developing to change the end result/contrast etc.

The other is movements. This is a biggie for me. Out of the box with the 90mm lens my Crown Graphic has, movements are pretty limited, some rise, tilt upwards and shift left right. What I really wanted was lens tilt forward, this really helps with landscapes to get close focus and distant focus all in the same shot, while keeping everything parallel. Only cameras with movements or very expensive shift lenses can do this.

A quick modification to the front standard (reversing it) and I now have lens tilt forward along with rise, just perfect for landscapes. The rest of my kit is pretty budget, I’m just using an old black short as a dark cloth, and I have 5 holders (10 shots), more than enough really as I only plan to shoot 1 to 2 photos each time I go out. So 2 shots b&w and 2 shots colour loaded.

Well it was time to go and play so an early start saw me at the top of Mt French, getting slightly wet from the odd shower, and cursing the lack of the real light I wanted. Note, I also had not reversed the front standard yet, it was only after developing this photo I realised I really needed front tilt for focus control.

Anyway, there is a great spot in the middle of the heather where you can sit and chill. With the slightly gloomy conditions I just knew that black and white was the way to go. I had 2 sheets of Kodak Tmax 100 loaded and I exposed both, one as I metered and 1 a bit over exposed. I then developed both at home using the same time and went with the negative I was happiest with, which was the normal exposure. A good learning experience.

The level of detail in the photo blows me away, zoomed in you can see the individual rain drops on the chair and all the branches, leaves, rocks etc have wonderful textures. I even like the focus fall off into the distance even tho I really wanted it all sharp.

I also captured a few 6×9 frames in Kodak Ektar 100, a wonderful colour film, looking the other way from this view over the heather and nearby mountain. Those will have to wait for another day as I’ve not yet finished that roll, the joys of film 🙂

For anyone wondering why do all this, film is dead etc, go visit Alex Bourke. Alex is my inspiration in 4×5 photography, his images are just outstanding and he teaches a lot. I’ve purchased his Ebooks and regularly read them and his knowledge works. If I can get photos of Australia half as good as his USA photos, I’ll be in heaven.

Until next time, take care!

Murray

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The Disney Fantasy docked in Cozumel Mexico

Time for a change – Where too from here?

Back home from our month long trip to the USA and it was amazing. We experienced so much and to be honest, it was a good break from photography. That’s not to say I didn’t take photos, in fact I have over 400gb of photos and videos from the trip, but I only used a gopro and my phone for it all. My Olympus got used once. For future trips I think that will be staying home.

It was good to have a break and to re-evaluate where I’m going with my photography. I love to shoot a wide variety of subjects but have pressured myself to create more often, to create to satisfy an audience of wonderful follower, and I feel this has actually hurt my creativity. There are things I want to work on, to perfect, and they are going to take a very long time to do so.

I really want to improve my landscape photography, and take it in a different direction. I’ve dabbled with film in the past and I think it’s really time to pull out all stops and get right into it. I currently have a nice Medium Format 645 Mamiya setup with 3 lenses that will let me learn as I go before looking at making the big step to Large Format 4×5 which is where I eventually want to end up.

Due to the nature of film, the time it takes to get rolls developed etc, this means I’ll have less photos over time to share, however if I get it right, the quality should improve dramatically. I’ll be able to spend more time photographing in the right light than using Photoshop to help create the light as a lot of my previous work does.

Digital will remain with storm chasing and astro photography for sure. With storms speed is of the essence and while film could work, getting those photos up quickly is best I have found. The processing of those photos will shift however, as I endevour to get more accuracy in with my creativity, it should be interesting to see what the results are. Astro, well the seasons pretty much over until around March now, so there’ll be a break from the Milkyways, but I will be working on some star trail photographs when the opportunity arises.

I’m also taking a step back from selling prints, training and generally trying to make money from my photography. Yes, I’d love to make this a full time passion, however the reality is, I have a great job, it pays well, and helps keep food on the table and my family safe. So while I will still sell prints if requested, the sales tools are removed from the website, you will have to contact me directly for prints (also means those that do are truly interested in one of my works) and I won’t be doing lessons as they are just too time involved which is better spent elsewhere.

Eventually once I have a collection of film created landscapes I’m satisfied with, those will be offered up as limited edition prints. But we are talking a few years down the track I suspect.

On the other creative side, I’m going to try and make videos work again for me. If you follow me on Facebook you would have seen the volume of vlogs I was posting up during our USA trip. These were all relatively short videos, around 3-4 minutes long, all set to music with very minimal talking, it was just sharing the journey. I’m going to explore this format further with my photography and see if there is interest for it. They will be more about sharing the locations than how to capture the photographs. Each video will however, link back to this blog where I will give further information about what was involved in creating the photographs for those who wish to learn more. Giving back is important to me and I find the typed word to be the best long term reference for such information.

So that’s how things are going to progress from here. I must say the Gopro Hero 7 Black I used on our holiday was simply amazing for both the quality of video and photographs it created. No post processing required, their Quik app automatically creates videos on your phone, set to music, a glowing review from me, will ask Santa for the new Hero 8 Black I think 🙂

Be sure to follow me on Facebook for the most regular updates, however keep visiting this blog for the most important ones. Again, thank you all for following me on my photography journey, I really look forward to sharing new and wonderful creations with you.

P.S. the photograph below is of our ship, the Disney Fantasy, docked in Cozumel Mexico (tequila tasting anyone?). Photographed using the Gopro Hero 7 Black, unedited.

Murray

The Disney Fantasy docked in Cozumel Mexico
Our ship the Disney Fantasy docked in Cozumel, Mexico on our 2019 Cruise
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How to photograph Stars – Finding the Milky Way

In this tutorial, learn how I use 2 apps on my phone to plan all of my Milky Way astro photography photographs. Links to the apps as well as a 10 minute video tutorial showing the basics on how I use the apps from the comfort of my home and on location scouting.

Read more

In the field Video – Photographing the Together Panorama

One of my aims this year is to record and share with you in the field videos as I capture my photographs. I’ll also be doing more editing videos with the aim of sharing my knowledge with you all. All my videos will be shared here from Youtube, head to my channel there and be sure to like this video (if you do!) and subscribe to my channel if you would like to see more.

The editing of this photograph ended up being over 3 hours long due to the amount of sets of panos I captured so I haven’t recorded it for this photograph, will try again for the next one.

Anyway, enjoy this beautiful morning, and learn just what went into getting the shot.

Until next time, be sure to visit again soon to keep up to date with all my work.

Follow this link to the original blog post for this photograph and see the photo in full detail : https://murrayfox.com.au/together/

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Film Landscapes & Slow Motion Lightning

Finally got around to getting a roll developed and I’m 3/4 of the way through shooting another roll. I’m starting to get the hang of shooting film. For my film of choice for landscapes, Kodak Ektar 100, I’ve found you really have to nail the exposure for your subject (usually the land) and then filter the sky to keep it to say within a stop in brightness. Film will handle a much brighter sky, but you then have to try and pull it all back in post production on the computer.

Getting it right in camera using filters etc really pays off with film and saves you a bunch of time on the computer at a later date, when you’ve forgotten what you even shot lol! I’m using a Mamiya 645 1000s medium format camera, my go to landscape lens for the wider scene is the Mamiya 45mm. Film is Kodak Ektar 100. I have a local lab develop for me (just normal develop) and then I scan the negatives at home using an Epson V550. From there it’s really just getting the colours right and some sharpening in Photoshop, as well as removing any dust and scratches, probably the worst part of film.

This first photograph has to be my favourite film photo to date. I also shot this on digital, and I’ve even done Astro photography here, but the way this has come out, the colour, the soft glowing light, yeah, really happy with this one.

An amazingly stunning sunrise of an old broken down farm truck as the landscape is bathed in colours from orange to pink to red at Mt Walker near Ipswich Queensland Australia. Photographed on Kodak Ektar 100 by Australian Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox
Mamiya 645 1000s, 45mm, Kodak Ektar 100

I was pretty much treating this roll of film as a test case, I was bracketing most photos to see which exposure would work best (take good notes!) and photographing landscapes in various lighting conditions. On one recent storm chase I had some time so I broke out the film camera once again and captured this photograph. Those Ektar Reds are really popping in this one and the light that broke through the clouds really made this photograph work for me.

A storm cell approaches Purga just south of Ipswich Queensland Australia. Photographed on Kodak Ektar 100 film by Australian Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox
Mamiya 645 1000s, 45mm, Kodak Ektar 100

Finally, after another chase, I decided to see what I could do with a reverse sunset, that is looking east as the sun was setting west. This one didn’t quite work out for me, the main issue being if I kept colour on the landscape, none of it was up in the clouds yet, and if I waited for it to be in the clouds, it wasn’t on the landscape anymore. So this was more of a test/compromise shot, however I do know in this kind of light it would be much better to find an amazing subject I can get very close too and really highlight those colours on the landscape, wow golden hour smacks you in the face with this film!

A beautiful sunset as the last light of day falls across the hills. A river bends its way through reaching for the Brisbane River. Captured on Kodak Ektar 100 at Redbank near Ipswich Queensland Australia by Australian Landscape, Storm and Weather Photographer Murray Fox
Mamiya 645 1000s, 45mm, Kodak Ektar 100

So the plan is now to keep shooting more film and really start working on the composition and subjects. My confidence has increased a lot thanks to some major trial and error, time and of course, money, film costs every click.

Thank you very much for ready my blog this week. If you’d also like to check out a very short cool video I made yesterday with some slow motion lightning captures click below :

I sell all of my photographs as Fine Art Prints, Canvas prints and Prints on either Acrylic or Metal, if you’d like one for yourself, simply contact me and I’ll send you pricing details.

Until next time, enjoy!

Murray

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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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