Thursday, September 3, 2015

3 Rings

Remember the 3 rings? In the world before the smart phones, and text messages it was the secret yet universal bat signal between family and friends.

Just give me three rings!

What are three rings? It is when one person using a landline telephone (most likely with a rotary dial) calls another person also on a landline and lets the phone ring three times before hanging up. The call is not answered and therefore was free.

It was a signal that everyone understood.

It was children ringing their parents from school/their friends house/the party/Saturday morning sport to let them know that they were alright/ready to be picked up.

It was the husband to his wife to tell her he was leaving the office now and on his way home (yes this is sexist in the current era but historically accurate)

It was friend to friend to tell them I am leaving home now and ready to play.

It was secret romances telling each other I am leaving home now and ready to play.

With a signal that can mean so many things the trick was to have agreement of the definition of the three rings between the communication sender and receiver. On any given day the meaning could change based on the approximate time.

3.30pm children ready for pick up from school
5.30pm dad leaving work
6.00pm a child has finished their music lesson
8.00pm someone’s date is about to start
Midnight someone’s date is ending
1.30am someone’s date is wanting some more loving
5.00am someone is prank calling

It was simple and lead to surprisingly few mixed messages, and it was free. Compare that to the complexity, confusion and cost of modern communication systems as people misread, misinterpret or just plain miss vital pieces of information.

Perhaps the current Australian government could improve its communication by getting rid of press releases and media conferences and just simply giving their departments and the general public three rings. We always know what it means!

Monday, August 31, 2015

ISO the Basics

Old Melbourne Gaol; ISO 100

Old Melbourne Gaol; ISO 400
Let’s start with the acronym, ISO stands for International Standards Organisation. It refers to the industry norm for emulsion based film. In the world of digital photography ISO we are talking about the image sensor instead of film but it is still a measure of sensitivity to light.

ISO 100 is not very sensitive, but the setting many people choose to use. ISO 1600 is extremely sensitive to light.

ISO can be changed quickly and easily on most digital cameras and adds greater flexibility for photographers in all light situations, in addition to shutter speed and aperture settings.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Here's a Tip

Tipping, growing up and living in Australia I have never understood tipping. Having travelled overseas to many countries that do practice tipping in lieu of paying and actual wage I am still none the wiser.

This week a waitress in New Jersey posted on Facebook an image of a docket where after having to wait an hour for their food order to be delivered to the table. In line on the docket for the customer to write their tip was written “1 hour for food, LOL”

Apparently the world was meant to be appalled that the customer would be so rude and arrogant as to not leave a tip for receiving poor service. Notwithstanding that the delays were not of the waitresses making, I am more shocked that the waitress still expected a tip at all.

It might be a New Jersey thing. On my first visit to the eastern seaboard state friends took me to a diner for a stereotypical American dining experience. Burgers, fries, condiments (on the side of course because even though they are just fat, salt and sugar, being on the side somehow reduces their impact on one’s health.)

Between taking our order and the food being prepared the waitress received a call from her boyfriend. The phone call was not a pleasant one. The waitress started sobbing and yelling before storming out of the diner. No alternative waiting staff were assigned to our table.

Eventually we had to go to the serving window and retrieve our now rapidly cooling food (we never did find out how long they had been sitting there) At the end of this dining experience where we did have a meal and got a story to tell my American friends informed me that I had to leave a tip for the waiting staff, despite the complete absence of staff. We were the ones who waited.

Despite the lack of service and the non-existent staff member we still left 15% tip. 10% is considered insulting and god forbid we insult the woman who was not there, and 20% is for exceptional service.

The 15% was really in case my friends wanted to eat there again. Without leaving a tip it is likely no one would serve them on a subsequent visit. I argued that no-one served us this visit either.

I have been our tours where there are three components to the overall cost; the booking fee (all of which goes to the company), the payment (cash on arrival to cover the food, accommodation, fuel, park entry fees – so the actual cost of the tour) and the tip for the tour guides. It is expected that the tip is US$10/day.  On a tour ever member of the tour group is assigned a task such as loading the tents, cleaning the bus, filling the water. One of these tasks is “Tips Coordinator”.

The mere presence of the Tip Coordinator as a position moves this money from the realm of tip or gratuity to the definition of payment. The other clue that this is built into the cost of the holiday is that “Tip Ceremony” is included on the itinerary.

By ceremony I mean Reality television ceremony not traditional religious or cultural event. There are long disingenuous speeches, even longer pauses and promises of life-long friendships, awkward and empty declarations of love followed even more awkward and empty bursts of applause.

I am happy to tip a helpful tour guide. I am less enthusiastic about tipping a guide who, at the beginning of the trip declares “This is the first time I have visited this country and then merely reads verbatim the Lonely Planet entry for the region. I refuse to pay a tip for a guide contracted an alternative guide for day excursions so they can become a tourist themselves and then on the other days declare to the group “You probably want a rest day to explore the area by yourselves.’ This translates to mean I have a girlfriend in this region and want a day of sex with her.

If I am tipping for the guide’s sexcapades then I want to be involved, and better not result in the guide walking out in tears after hearing what I want only to leave me having to serve myself.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Photography Tips: White Balance

White Balance: Cloudy
The white balance setting of your digital camera is critical is creating a photograph that captures the colours of the subject correctly. As “oils aint oils”, white is not white. Depending of the source of the light white can appear to the camera as being predominantly blue, orange or yellow.

New cameras often have a white balance button on the body of the camera, for other cameras the white balance controls will be within the menu items.
White Balance: Tungsten
For cameras with the control on the body look for “WB” next to one of the control buttons, it may be a secondary function for one of the buttons. In the menu look for the words “White Balance”.
The two pictures of the Royal Exhibition Building in Melbourne were taken on an overcast day so the top photo with white balance set on "Cloudy" gives the truer colours. 
For more information about white balance visit

Friday, August 21, 2015

Sugar Low

Nestle Allen’s confectionery has the audacity to revise its products range and reduce the variety of shapes from which the public can choose to consume copious amounts of sugar and food colour. Australia is collectively outraged.

This, on the back of Allen’s reducing package and product sizes. Killer Pythons were reduced by almost half in late 2014, making them less python and more garden worm.

Based on dropping sales figures particular products have disappeared from the shelves. People, who have clearly stopped buying the product then get outraged that the coloured sugar product that the once enjoyed as a child but have not purchased in years will not be available for them to not buy in the years ahead.

Bowing to the power of the internet; a dark hole created by people sitting in dark holes complaining about things other people are doing whilst not actually doing anything themselves and specifically not buying Allen’s lollies. Allen’s are bringing back Jelly Tots.

There are two styles of Jelly Tots, regular and Tangy. Tangy appear to be the more traditional style with additional sugar added to the outside of the jelly ball. You can never have enough sugar.

With sugar now being a major social faux pas and nutritional no-no. Once promoted by the medical professions  as a dietary bonus to combat weight gain it is now seen as a major contributor to obesity.
Despite this, the social demand for more sugar options has won the day.

In the same vein I want to start a campaign to bring back the “Big Boss”. The caramel candy cigar was readily available in corner delis and school canteens in the ‘70s and ’80s. They were much more sophisticated than their smaller cousin “Fags”, the lolly cigarette.

Big Bosses demanded attention, and gave the consumer an air of gravitas even if consumed whilst wearing swimwear and flip-flops while playing on the swings of a caravan park playground
Fags, suffered the indignity of having their name changed to “Fads” in an act of political correctness. I am unsure what the perceived risk of continuing to call them Fags. Were people concerned that  children who consumed them would turn gay, or that it would encourage gay children to smoke, or turn all smokers gay.  Either way, the lolly cigarette was never competition for their caramel cousin.
Both cigarette and cigar lollies originally had red coloured sugar on one end to replicate the burning end of the tobacco product. These were removed from both products years before they started to disappear altogether from the shelves.

Polly Waffles, another Nestle product, should also be reintroduced to the shelves.  The combination of wafer, marshmallow and chocolate were as light and delicious as the shape of the chocolate bar was hilarious. In the same way that Big Bosses and Fags did not really encourage smoking or homosexuality, Polly Waffles did not promote people pooing in the pool.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Starting with leading lines

The use of Leading Lines in a photograph is a simple and effective way to compose your photograph to create an appealing image. Leading Lines, as the name suggests, lead the eye through the photograph or point to the subject, and the eye can not help but follow the line. This movement of the eye makes the photograph much more dynamic.

Leading lines can add a sense of depth to a photograph. What makes the use of leading lines so easy is that lines are all around us (they do not have to be straight).

Monday, August 10, 2015

Depth of Field

We have all seen stunning photos that have used depth of field to create amazing images, but wondered how to take these photographs ourselves.

Basically when we are talking about depth of field we are referring to the zone in a photograph that is in sharp focus and the zones of the photograph that are out of focus. Every photograph will contain an area in front of and behind the subject that will be in focus. By controlling the depth of field you are controlling how much of the surroundings will be in focus.  For more information go to