Tag: boonah

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

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.

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 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.

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A beautiful misty and foggy country landscape captured near Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia

When nothing goes to plan, Improvise!

Well sometimes the best laid plans go completely array. When it comes to landscape photography this can happen more often than not, that’s the way of mother nature. There is a very photogenic mountain peak south of where I live. I had worked out a location I wanted to shoot from, and I was going to experiment using a long lens (in the realms of 140-200mm) to see what compositions I could get.

To get there an hour before sunrise I had to leave home at 3am for the 1.5 hour drive south. As soon as I left home I knew something wasn’t right. It has been raining, and I couldn’t see clouds or stars. A low cloud layer was blanketing the area. Never one to give up, I kept going, and started driving through intermittent rain and fog. I finally arrived at my location to be greeted with a wall of white.

Well this wasn’t what I was after. I waited over an hour and a half until after sunrise, with the faint hope some sun might break through, or the peak would at least become partially visible. This photo shows the result however, the peak was still buried in the fog. I used a long lens to compress the fence line and bring everything closer.

A fence line stretches across the paddock and into the fog and mist near Boonah Queenland Australia in the Scenic Rim.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, Adapted Canon FD 70-210mm Lens, F/8, 1/100 sec, ISO 2000 handheld

I finally gave up on this location and decided to improvise. I began looking for scenes that caught my eye, ideally with a leading valley through the scene and a main subject to frame. This next photograph is the first one I came across. Again use the adapted long lens I was able to compress the scene, isolating the trees from the rest of the scene. Long lenses are great for when you don’t have an immediate foreground. You can still get a great result and composition, it does take some practice however to find a scene that works. Its an area I’m still learning and will be exploring more for sure.

I focused only on the trees so the background went a little soft as well. I think this one came out quite nicely and just a touch more sun was finally getting through to add some contrast to the ground.

A small Stand of trees stands out against the landscape near Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, Adapted Canon FD 70-210mm F/8, ISO 200, 1/4 sec

The final scene I found called for a lens change, I had a foreground interest nice and close, so I switched to my Olympus 12-40mm pro lens and spent some time framing up a composition. Again the portrait orientation worked, eliminating some clutter from the sides and bringing focus to the dead wood and then the main tree in the photograph. You can see by this time a lot of the fog had cleared, but the low cloud was still incredibly thick. I never did see the mountain on this morning. A return trip is definitely on order as I think it will be an amazing photograph in the right weather and light.

A beautiful misty and foggy country landscape captured near Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, Olympus 12-40mm, ISO 200, 1/50 sec, F/8

I’m still deciding whether the second or third image is my favourite from this day, comment below and let me know which one is yours.

Landscape photography can be very frustrating at times. All the best laid plans, all the pre-visualisation and effort you put into capturing a photograph can come to naught in a very short space of time. It pays to at least be somewhat prepared to seek alternatives if things don’t work out. It could be making sure you carry a few different lenses, having the tripod in the car if you are planning to shoot handheld, or even waiting a few hours to see if anything changes or improves (pro tip, have some food and drink with you always!). This day did not go the way I planned, yet I’m very happy with at least two of the photographs I managed to capture, and now I’ve done a practice run to the location, I know it will be perfect when the light and weather are right. I might not get it next time, but I will get it. Persistence pays.

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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.