Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Photography is all about light, and light can be one of the hardest things to control, particularly outdoors. Photographers prefer to take out door shots during the golden hours – dawn and dusk, the light is warmer and the contrast is manageable.

On bright days and in certain scenes managing the contrast becomes quite difficult. To get the foreground appropriate lit leaves the background over exposed and vice versa. The compromise can leave the image lacking detail and depth in the colours. This is where a graduated neutral density filter can be useful.

Visit to find out more about what a graduated neutral density filter is and how to use it.

Friday, February 5, 2016

My TV is on the blink

I love television, pretty much if I am home then the TV is on. Tjis why I am so concerned that television is on the blink. Not my personal television but the primetime programs offered by Australia's free to air channels.

Channel 7

My Kitchen Rules is back on television, according to the media releases and commercials it is a brand new season. The faces have changed slightly , maybe, but it is exactly the same.  Couples that fit into the set stereo types; gay couple, best friends, hipsters, “ethnic”, old, bogan, rich, are all cooking in their home restaurants which are neither their home nor a restaurant.

Each night the cooks still get surprised and panicky when Peter and Manu arrive. There is a massive clock on the wall telling everyone how much time till dinner and they arrive EVERY episode, exactly the same way they have arrived in every episode in every season.

The only thing more predictable is the sniping between the couples in ways that match their producer-assigned stereo type. Regardless of how good the food was or the dining journey everyone now gives each other low scores because they are all voting “strategically” to keep themselves in the competition.

Because they want to win… What do they win? An apron? 5 minutes with Kochie on Sunrise? It’s not as job a chef.

Channel 9

Having snaffled Australia’s Got Talent, David Hughes hosts a show that’s greatest moments of entertainment are the acts that ironically have very little talent.  People will astound audiences, according to the commercials with their unlikely ability to actually sing in tune, or the magic trick works.

Whilst some of the stars only talent, according to recent employment is judging other people as they compete in “shiny floor shows”, David Hughes is a very talented comic and Eddie Perfect is a highly accomplished writer, composer, singer and actor. Another great irony of this show is that the people with the most talent will not be required to demonstrate any in their roles.

Ultimately it will be the people with the most interesting and emotional backstory (in the opinion of the producers) that make it through the early rounds and it will be the most attractive act that wins.

He contestants will win… some money? The cover of a magazine affiliated with Channel 9? 5 minutes with Richard Wilkins on Today?

Channel 10

I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here” a show where blatant sexual innuendo towards each other and patronising the celebrities are the only rolse of the hosts and where people whose once thriving careers in sport and entertainment is well past its peak get their names and faces back into the public consciousness.

Some of the 2016 celebrities careers are still strong even if they are not household names, whilst others left their fellow cast and home audiences scratching their heads asking who are they? Thank god for Google.

This is also a possible “prize” for a winner of either My Kitchen Rules or Australia’s Got Talent if they have the slightest hint of personality. Then they may get a second 15 minutes of fame eating pureed rats and spiders.

Thank god for Netflix.  Time to chill.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Photography- Fisheye Lens

Fisheye lenses can be a lot of fun to play with creating interesting effects and distorting visual reality. Some photographers will dismiss them as a “toy”, but they have their place in a camera bag.

Fisheye lens is an ultra wide-angle lens. They a short convex lens which can take a frame up to 180o of view. I always need to lean forward to ensure my feet are not in shot. Using a tripod can also be tricky if not positioned correctly, as can be the photographer’s shadow.

Using a fisheye lens
Get close to the subject, real close, between 3cm and 30cm. Keep the subject in the centre of the frame, as distortion and bending occurs at the edge of the frame. 

To learn more about using a fisheye lens and other free photograph tips visit 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Captain America versus Captain Australia

Captain America
A weak man empowered to the peak of human performance by an experimental serum.

Captain Australia
Overweight man empowered to the peak of human obnoxiousness by cheap alcohol.

Captain America
Was trapped in ice at the end of World War II and survived in a state of suspended animation until revived.

Captain Australia
Is trapped in a repetitive office job or trade throughout the year only to resurface every Australia Day long weekend.

Captain America
Wears a body suit emblazoned with an American flag motif.

Captain Australia
Wears a towel emblazoned with the Australian flag as a cape.

Captain America
Wears a uniform that is fire retardant and bulletproof.

Captain Australia
Wears shorts which reveal a bit of arse crack, bonds singlet and thongs(flip flops) he bought at Target.

Captain America
Has a nearly indestructible shield that he throws at his enemies.

Captain Australia
Has the lid of an esky that he uses as a cricket bat or wickets or as a frisbee that he throws at his friends.

Captain America
Can bench press 545kg and run 1.6km (one mile) in 73seconds.

Captain Australia
Went to the gym, once.

Captain America
Is highly resistant to gases that could limit his focus.

Captain Australia
After an afternoon of BBQ sausages, onions, white bread and beer creates gases that limit other people’s ability to focus.

Captain America
Has extensive battle experience and training making him an expert tactician and excellent field commander.

Captain Australia
Encourages his mates to participate in increasingly embarrassing and dangerous stunts simply by stating “Carn mate, it’ll be hilarious”.

Captain America
Has amazing reflexes.

Captain Australia
Can trip and fall, twisting his ankle so severely that he will require emergency medical treatment, all without spilling a drop of beer.

Captain America
Rides a weaponised motorcycle.

Captain Australia drives a second hand commodore that he and his mate fitted out to make “fully sick”.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Force Awakens

So I have kept quiet as long as I can, because I know this will not be a popular view but Star Wars VII The Force Awakens is OKish. Visually it was entertaining even when some of the CGI still had the space craft, in some scenes looking like children’s toys hanging from strings Thunderbirds style.

The nods to the original Star Wars trilogy , Episodes 4-6, were great, including re purposing dialogue and recreating replica scenes. The final movie was clearly edited with the reaction of the large crowds expected in the opening week in mind. The true die hard Star Wars fans were sure to be in attendance and most likely clap and cheer at key moments. Many of these moments is seemed as the movie paused for allow for this reaction. The most obvious scene being the first appearance of Han Solo and Chewbacca when they entered the Millennium Falcon.

Harrison Ford’s reprisal of Han Solo was superb bringing back the swagger and irreverent humour – the definite highlight of the movie. I am however somewhat concerned for Mr Ford, whose trademark lopsided smile is increasing in its lopsidedness. It will not be long before his smile is vertical. Perhaps that is why they had to kill him.

As much as the Star Wars universe is VERY closely related and a little incestuous it is all for gender equality. The captains of both the Resistance and the Stormtroopers are female. Rey was also undoubtedly a hero of the story.

Race equality is still to be achieved. Finn, possibly the only black person in the galaxy does become a hero by leaving the First Order, helping the rescue key characters and providing critical intelligence – the type only a janitor could have – about the First Order’s military objectives, tactics and defenses. The franchise is caught in a now outdated notion that good (The Republic) is white and bad (The First Order) is black. It does get confusing when the black man dressed in a white Stormtropper uniform leaves the dark side by stripping off the uniform to reveal black undergarments as he joins the white side.

The movie will also prove to be a merchandising gold mine with the invention of new space craft – my favourite being Rey’s flying USB stick, and the return of old craft and new characters including a new bleep boop droid that has much more emotional responses and is surprisingly difficult to capture there are plenty of costumes and figurines to be sold.

One of my favourite new characters is Maz Kanta who is helping the resistance and yet hides Luke Skywalker’s light saber from them. Voiced by Lupita Nyongo, this character appears to a Jim Henson style recreation of Miss Schlowski, the principal from Kindergarten Cop.

The story is riddled with plot holes and leaps in logic some even bigger than the corridors of the Finalizer and which were large enough for a dog fight involving multiple star fighters and tie fighters. What happened to Poe after crashing the Tie Fighter? How come Kylo Ren, Head of the Knights of Ren so bad with a light saber and not much better with his use of The Force? How did the Millennium Falcon fly so easily having been considered junk and therefore unused for decades? Is Rey actually a savant, having learned to speak Wookie , control The Force and fight with  a light saber all without any training?

For me the must frustrating issue was the inconsistency of the power of a light saber. In previous episodes just one touch could completely sever a limb. In the battle between Finn and Kylo Ren and then Rey and Kylo Ren they felled trees in one moment and barely singed clothing the next. Finn’s head should have been severed when struck on the face instead he survived with only a burn mark that did not even blister.

Over all it was a 135min, $200million teaser for Episode VIII. Good light entertainment for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Photography - Lens Hoods

Nikon lens hoods source
I suspect that many people use a lens hood to make the lens look bigger. And size does not always matter. The lens hood does actually have a purpose. The primary use of the lens hood is to shade the lens, preventing light from hitting the front lens element from the side. This side lighting can reduce the contrast and create flares in the image.

For more information about choosing and using lens hoods correctly and other free photography lessons visit

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Photographing Fireworks

Fireworks make for spectacular photographs but can take some practice to master.  Fireworks create a lot of smoke that will continuously build throughout the display. Photographs taken early in the display will be cleaner, particularly close ups.

In taking photos of the large colour bursts, when using a slow shutter speed time in relation to the opening of the shutter with sound of the firework being shot into the sky. This will mean that the shutter is open as the firework explodes into colour and will capture the arcs of light. If you wait until you can see the bursts it might be too late!

This article discusses camera settings, equipment and composition for taking pleasing photographs of fireworks. To read more visit