Two years ago there was a golden field of wheat as far as the eye could see around this old house. Now, the land is bone dry and barren. There will be no winter crop this season, there is no water. The drought continues on and we pray for rain. Photographed with my Crown Graphic 4×5 Camera on Kodak Portra 160 film.
I had a wonderful morning walking around Mt French near Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia. I captured this photograph of the top of the mountain, through the heather using Kodak Ektar 100 on my Crown Graphic 4×5 camera with a 6×9 120 roll film back.
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.
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.
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.
Well wasn’t this a challenge! My self and my good friend Craig had been in contact with a local farmer. He advised us his sunflowers were in their prime so we arranged a visit for Sunday afternoon to shoot it through sunset.
The massive problem was Tropical Cyclone Oma was approaching through the week and ended up sitting off the coast for a few days. The rain didn’t happen but boy did we get the wind. Capturing a stitched panoramic photograph can be challenging at anytime, throw in very strong winds with a close subject that moves around a lot, add just a sprinkle of low light as sunset occurs and I almost didn’t get a shot.
Thankfully, my previous experience with panoramas this year is really paying off and the final result, well, not blowing my own horn here but wow! This is the best panorama I’ve captured so far.
Timing was a bit rushed too as we first did a quick portrait shoot for the lovely couple who own the property, always great to give something back for being graciously granted permission onto their property. I’ve photographed in this area for nearly 10 years now and never have I captured a sunset with such a wonderful view as this.
Post production putting the final image together was also a super challenge. I ended up spending well over 5 hours putting all the pieces together and checking pretty much down to each flower everything joined up correctly. Hard work, but well worth the results.
Hopefully the rains come soon, everyone needs a drop so much.
I’m doing a bit more portrait work lately, it’s a change from the normal and being the obsessive technical type, a great challenge with lots of new things to learn. My first love is still landscapes and now panoramas however, so I may even explore the possibility of combining the two for something truly unique, stay tuned!
I’ve added this photograph to my Landscape Portfolio, and you may click here to find out more information about purchasing this photograph as a Limited Edition Acrylic Print.
A friend first shared a photo of these trees with me a few weeks back. Ever since then I’ve been chomping at the bit to get out and shoot them at sunrise. The location, the vista, the rolling hills behind and the simplicity of the scene just fired my imagination. This was perfect for a panorama and I couldn’t wait!
The last two mornings have had nil cloud, a 3:30am start saw me heading to Fernvale to meet up with my mate who was going to be my guide for the morning. Thankfully permission with the landowner was organised and after parking and walking in we began to work the scene. From one vantage point, the two trees appear to be intertwined and I really liked that view point.
Lots of moving around using my panorama tool to work out framing (this “tool” is a piece of cardboard with a window cut out of it in the 3:1 ratio). This makes it super quick to work out the best angle to shoot from. I’ve yet to find an Android Phone app that can do the same ratio (if you know of one, let me know please! Most get close but not 3:1).
This was the first photo I took, very early dawn light and colour. The clouds were clearing up quickly and the next few photos didn’t really work out for me. The sun is rising to the left of frame, this causes the colour to darken across the sky, giving a lovely change in hue as it goes.
2 Rows of 8 photographs were captured to make this panorama. The end result is very big file that can be printed exceptionally large, which is my goal for all my panoramas.
There are many more spots on this property to investigate, and I think once Winter is here, add some fog, or even some Astro is definitely on the cards, magic spot.
I’m a very technical photographer. I tend to research a lot before venturing into the field and sometimes you can focus on these things too much, rather than just getting out there and taking photos. This weekend was a little like that. I had a photograph in mind that I wanted to capture. Wyaralong Dam in the Scenic Rim can be stunning if you get the right sky.
Friday afternoon and there were high clouds north, but they needed to come south a few hundred kilometres in order to be where I wanted them. 10pm, I’m watching the sky, I ended up being so fixated on it I was still awake at 3am, the time I would have to leave if I wanted to get a photo, but the clouds never came so I finally slept, thinking about the photograph I haven’t captured yet.
Saturday night I took a different tack, I ignored the clouds, I got my gear ready to go, set my alarm for 3am and slept. Waking up and walking out the door, the clouds looked like they had potential, but regardless, I was going to go. Worse case this would be a good practice session to work towards mastering panoramas.
Arriving at the dam it was still dark but light would approach soon. I spent a good 30 minutes working out a composition, checking my settings, checking the tripod was level, and taking a few test series of shots. The light came through it’s various stages, from nice blue hour, to the pinks and reds of sunrise. However I had a problem. A bank of low cloud had moved across and was breaking up the great high clouds that had the colour. The end result was a bust, but I learnt a lot and was happy with that.
On the drive home, the sun had broken over the distant hills finally, some fast moving fog was rolling between the hills. Coming up over the rise of one hill I hit the brakes and quickly pulled over. The scene looked fantastic to me, the beautiful orange of golden hour was glowing across the sky and ground. Thankfully my gear was pretty much ready to go, put camera on tripod, level, focus and shoot.
A photo like this takes a long time to edit on post for me. Why? Because it’s 2 rows of 8 photographs, that is 16 full size photographs merged to one gigantic image. This will print MASSIVE and I think will look fantastic on anyone’s wall that loves a view like this. I’ve learnt that shooting two rows allows me to get more of either the sky or ground in the photograph (com-positional choice / ground for this one) and that really gives this photograph a great sense of depth. At full resolution you can see the cows feeding in the morning light way down the hill, the detail is amazing.
So my lessons this week are don’t sweat it so much, just make sure you get out there and shoot. This was a completely random location and it was about being there when the light was good, and finding a scene to suit.
Let me know what you think about this photograph in the comments below, I always love feedback good or bad. Until next time, stay safe and thank you very much for reading.
Olympus OMD Em5.2, Olympus 45mm. F8, ISO 200, 1/200 sec. 2 Rows of 8 Photographs
I’ve added this to my Landscape Portfolio that will gradually all become panoramas as I move towards the format, which I just love.
Well a very Happy New Year to you all. For me the start of any new year is a great time not only for a well deserved break, but a great time to reflect on the previous 12 months and have a bit of a mental review of how I saw my photography progress. The main aim of this is to work out my direction for 2019 and I’ve set myself a nice challenge as a result. I’m very happy with how my Astro photography has progressed. My weather photography is in a lull due to simply there being no storms so I’m concentrating on my landscape photography.
I’ve set myself a challenge to only shoot panoramic landscapes in the 3:1 format for 2019. Oh I’ll still get the odd normal 4:3 framed photo, but purely for Instagram. Any dedicated landscape photograph I capture in 2019 is going to be a panorama. Why? Well several reasons. I love to follow other photographers works and over the years I’ve come to admire two photographers in particular. Ken Duncan and Mark Grey, both incredibly successful Australian landscape photographers. Ken has been at it for Decades, Mark is relatively new to the scene, both having extraordinary success. It’s more than that however, it’s the resulting photographs they get. There is something about an amazingly well captured panorama that draws you in. The photograph when seen large envelopes your entire field of view, you are put into the scene with the photographer at the moment of capture.
This is what I want to explore and it actually means relearning a whole lot about photography. Composition is different by necessity as the frame is now very different and balance, viewpoint, elements all come into play in different ways.
So my journey into this field has begun and I find it very exciting. To kick off the new year with a bang I met up with my great friend Craig and we headed west to areas near Toowoomba in search of Sunflowers as word is out, they are blooming.
PLEASE NOTE : I won’t disclose the exact location of this farm at the farmers request. However, if you are looking for Sunflowers the area of Clifton on the Darling Downs between Warwick and Toowoomba has them in flower right now.
Thankfully Craig has scouted this location only the day before, also gaining us permission from the farmer to access the land fully, simply awesome work mate. 3:30am saw us standing in the back of the ute, Tripods at the ready, watching the light slowly appear. This first panorama was captured around 15 minutes before sunrise, the high cloud getting hit with the awesome colours of the approaching sunrise, that light also reflecting down onto the sunflowers. My composition here was to be very simple. Lines leading you through the fields.
Next it was time to really head into the fields. Another section of this farm has a great windmill surrounded by Sunflowers, well how could we resist photographing that? This field was full of bees making their merry way from flower to flower, and we did take the time out here to really just soak up the atmosphere, work our compositions and try different things.
Capturing panoramas is a bit of a challenge. The hardest part I find is framing. As you are stitching together multiple photographs to take one large one, you can’t see the final result in the field. Specialist panorama cameras exist but are far beyond my budget so this is my option in order to get the best quality and result. So far I’ve worked out that by setting the height of my view and ensuring I capture 5-6 photographs across I can usually get pretty close to the result I’m after with minimal loss of pixels in post production on the computer.
This final panorama was the only time the sun actually fell directly on the flowers. We had stopped to have a chat with the property owner when the sun broke through, but only on the ground, the sky was not being directly affected, awesome light! Excusing myself for a minute, I quickly setup and captured this image of the farmers old parents house, now not lived in but still maintained, which is surrounded by the wonderful sunflowers, not a bad view in my books. I think this is my favourite from the morning and I know my wife agrees with me.
I’ve found I’m quickly falling in love with the panorama format for both the challenge and the results. The quality end result I’m getting allows me to print a 60inch wide x 20inch high photograph at full 300dpi resolution (no loss of quality at all). I love to see my photographs purchased and hanging on peoples walls. Panoramas seem to lend themselves perfectly to being displayed, they work well in many different styles of rooms in peoples homes and in businesses. That’s my end game as a photographer, while I love taking photographs, and sharing them with the world, to create images that people love enough to hang in their own home to me is the ultimate.
So I’ll keep working at it, continuing to find new subjects in amazing conditions and share them with all of you. If I can get a nice portfolio of maybe 20 photographs by the end of 2019 I’ll be in heaven, and maybe a few of you will have such a connection with my work that you’ll want to own a copy for yourselves.
Finally, a quick single photo I took “doing it for the gram”. This will be up on my Instagram Feed.
Thank you everyone for following along with my photography for 2018, I really look forward to what 2019 is going to bring. I think the photographs will be released a bit slower, but the quality should be another level higher as I continue to learn and challenge myself.