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Con and Maria

December 24th, 2008 by admin

Last weekend Carol and I were lucky enough to photograph Con and Maria in the city. With the shops still bursting full of last minute Christmas shoppers, it was nice to just walk around the city in the afternoon creating these images. Con and Maria were great fun and we have no doubt their wedding in 2009 will be even more so!

cm


Not this monkey…

December 22nd, 2008 by admin

madagascar2

Photo by Carol Pakula.
Recently the photographer’s blogsphere has been going wild at a post written by The Strobist. I’m not going to go into the reasons for and against it, that has already been covered by more experienced photographers than I. I will instead share two relevant situations I have recently experienced. The first involves a totally new client (potential client to be accurate). The deal was, a friend of mine saw a post on a forum, where the poster was asking for a photographer to shoot some exotic cars in some excellent locations. I read the post and was interested so I asked the poster to contact me, which they promptly did. The brief was very appealing to me, over a million dollars worth of brand new exotic luxury rides, to be driven by the editorial guys on some of the state’s most scenic roads. Sounds like a dream assignment for me. However, their staff photographer was sick and pulled out last second, so the best they could offer me was to have the expenses paid, i.e. food (most likely fast or truck stop) and accommodation (again most likely of the budget variety). I did offer my standard day rate, even a slightly discounted one as it was going to be two consecutive days. The reply was that their budget did not allow for it, as they already have a staff photographer. Hmm.

I thought about taking the gig anyway and using it for two things; one to build my portfolio with some exotic cars. The local distributors would also see the photos, since they were the ones offering their cars for review, which could also open some opportunities with them. And secondly, to form a relationship with this new potential client. The first point was what made me thing about taking it. The second is what sealed the deal for me not to. Reason being, if I did one assignment for them for free, why would they pay the second one. Every single client I have ever had, always paid for my first gig. Even when I was working in another industry (Finance and IT), and was asked to shoot a car for a national magazine for the first time in my life, one of the first things they mentioned to me was the rate of pay. I would have done it for free back then, as it would have been an opportunity to get published and I knew little about how the industry worked, but since they did offer pay, I gladly accepted. So I guess I have the blogs of inspirational photographers like Vincent Laforet and John Harrington’s awesome Photo Business News blog, to thank for that.

The second situation involves a well established client for me, one whom I have worked with for a number of years. This situation might be more about the fact that there were too many management levels involved, but, the gist is, I was asked to shoot for two days, and I offered my discounted rate. The person I was speaking to said that should be fine, and will call tomorrow to confirm. The next day someone else calls, and said it has all been approved. So during the shoot, one of the more senior members of this company hinted at doing this job as a freebie, I brushed it off without giving an answer, as I was quite shocked to hear this coming out of his mouth. When it came time to deliver the photos, I basically said that I was not going to provide the images until I was paid. I have usually provided the photos the day or two after the shoot for almost all of my clients, but this situation led me to change my tact a little. I was promptly paid and delivered all photos.

a small ego boost

December 17th, 2008 by admin

BEL garage evo IX
It’s always nice to see your work in place you don’t entirely expect to. With last weekends Final Battle well and truly over, I’ll post another pic from the weekend. Here is the Tilton Interiors/BEL Garage EVO IX, which I photographed a while ago at Wakefield Park. The owner was also nice enough to let me have a drive of the car around the track, which was quite an experience. It is an amazing car, massive power with amazing response, unbelievable grip and handling, and brakes to match. Anyway, the car was proudly displaying one of my rig shots from the feature of it in Auto Salon Magazine.

Razor

December 15th, 2008 by admin

After recovering today from Auto Salon’s last event for 2008, Final Battle at Sydney Olympic Park, I began sorting and processing the 2500 odd images I shot over the two day event. They will be going into a future issue of Auto Salon Magazine, so I can’t post many, but I will post this one.
I used my new 85mm f1.2 L lens for some shots of the contestants in the Lonsdale Miss Auto Salon competition, and it really blew me away. This is a completely unedited 100% crop pic from the 85, ISO400 f2.2. Click the image for a larger version, still a 100% unedited crop. Is there such a thing as too sharp? Naaa.

85mm f1.2L at f2.2

Covers

December 12th, 2008 by admin

I have been employed with Auto Salon for over 4 years now, in that time I have shot, at a guess, around 100 cars for Auto Salon Magazine and I have lost count of the number of shows/events/races I have attended and photographed. I do however, always remember my covers.

ASM Covers

This is 12 of the last covers I have shot for ASM. We quite often do not specifically know which car will end up on a cover, so if I think it has a chance, then I will usually try to get a few more shots suitable for a cover. See if you can guess which cars were shot specifically knowing they are “covers cars” and which cars weren’t.

DTF

December 11th, 2008 by admin

DTF

I heard about Din Tai Fung a while back but yet haven’t had a chance to sample it for myself. Until tonight. It’s famous for its steamed dumplings, which are a unique style, filled with a soup type of liquid. I’m a massive fan of dumplings, they are even a traditional Polish dish, known as Pierogi. Asian style dumplings are different, in that they have a greater variety of styles and fillings. DTF do dumplings very well, possibly the best I have had.

dumplings

These juicy steamed pork dumplings were just delicious.

sides

Some pork mince and beans on the side,

fried rice

along with pork fried rice.

clean plates

Clean plates at the end means that everyone enjoyed their dinner. It’s not the cheapest place, you need to spend around $40 per person for a big dinner, but the quality of the food is very high.

wall

Review: LumiQuest Softbox III

December 10th, 2008 by admin

I have used a few flash modifiers in my time, and haven’t been really happy with any of them. I thought I would give LumiQuest‘s new Softbox III a go, as it looks like one of the biggest portable flash softboxes you can get.


LumiQuesti Softbox III

The all plastic device attaches to you flash (in my case a 580EX) using Velcro, so fitting and removing it is quick and easy. Notice the central oval in the output side? That is designed to further diffuse the direct output of the flash, and make use of the entire area of the softbox.

LQ III

One reason why I went for a unit such as this, is its portability. Folded down its completely flat and smaller than an A4 sheet of paper, making it light and very easy to carry in most camera bags.

SQIII folded

Here are my test images, using a 1:18 scale R34 GT-R.

No flash:
no flash

Raw direct flash (mounted on camera):
raw

Softbox III fitted (flash mounted on camera):
soft direct

Softbox III fitted (flash off camera above car):
off camera

naked flash (flash off camera above car):
raw flash above car

And finally here’s what it looks like hand held:
example

As you can see, the difference is subtle when the flash is still on the camera but becomes more noticeable when the flash is off the camera. It is an improvement in the softness of the light, and perhaps this is not best illustrated using a shiny, sharp edged model. I have used the softbox on a stand and photographing a car’s interior and engine bay and I was happy with the results. Once those images are published I will post more examples. This is the first flash modifier I have decided to keep.

Pros:
Affordable, portable, easy to use, well made.
Cons:
Subtle difference, not as soft as a large, twin layer softbox, can block flash IR sensor.

LumiQuest

Archive Image 1.2

December 9th, 2008 by admin

TRD Super2000 Corolla

Here is an image from a day I will not soon forget. Just before I took this rig shot, I was lucky enough to be taken around the dirt roads near Canberra, in the TRD Super 2000 Corolla. Driven by ARC Champion Neal Bates, I was totally blow away by the car and Neal’s skill behind the wheel. It really did change my perspective on driving skill and rally cars in general.

Vostro 1710

December 9th, 2008 by admin

Dell Vostro 1710

As promised here is my review of my new Dell Vostro 1710 Laptop. I have used laptops a few times, usually at the various work sites, however I have never owned my own laptop. It seems I was the only one in my family not to, as every single member of my family has always owned a laptop at one point in their lives. At last count we now have 4 laptops at home, with one outdated and headed for the scrap heap. I was planning on building myself a rocket ship of a PC, with 8 cores, 12 gig or more ram, massive hard drive array, and a video card more powerful than my last PC, but the chance to have a laptop and to be able to have a machine fast enough to process images off-site swayed my choice to portability. So far I am happy with my decision. The 1710 is fast enough and the screen is perfect. Sure the size of the fonts take a little getting used to at 1920×1200 resolution, (I’m glad I didn’t go for a 15″ laptop with that res) but having all of that desktop space makes everything easier, and photos really pop on the glossy screen.

Screen
As good as the screen is, it still struggles a little outside. Sure this is a Sydney summer so the amount of light outside is massive, but to use if effectively outside does require a hood of sorts.

Keyboard
I do like the keyboard overall, the buttons are large enough, there are enough of them, and the separate keypad is something I do use. I do find myself sometimes skimming the touch pad when typing, but that is something I will soon overcome and not a fault of the machine itself.

hot keys
The power button and media buttons are located at the top, about the only button I really use there is eject for the slot loading DVD/CD drive, but they do add a little class to an otherwise business-like design to the laptop.

right side
The right side features the slot loading drive, two USB ports, an IEEE1394 port and the wireless/Bluetooth switch. I like having a dedicated switch like this as it makes turning the radio functionality on or off quick and easy.

Left side
The left side has 4 more USB ports, power adapter, cooling vent, and Express Card slot. I will soon use card slot for either an e-SATA port, or Firewire800 or CF card reader. Depending on which will be the fastest way to get my CF cards onto the laptop.

top
Closed the laptop is quite sleek, featuring a gloss black design, that does have a couple of scratches. These scratches are very slight and are the reason why I paid around $1100 for it, and not $2800.

Overall I’m happy with the laptop, I can get 133fps in CS:S, store just about anything I need to on its two 320gig HDDs and with the 4gig ram, dual 2.5GHz CPUs, powering through selecting, editing and processing any images I need. Once the 5D mark II arrives (I can dream), I will put this machine through its paces with some video editing.

Pros: Awesome screen, quality and res.
Power, enough for what I need.
Conservative design, won’t attract too much attention.
Expandability, 6 USB, VGA, wireless n, gigabit ethernet, 2 HDDs, etc etc.

Cons: touch pad isn’t perfect
inbuilt speakers are pretty bad
it’s not the lightest thing at 3.1 kg

Two point five gigawhats

December 4th, 2008 by admin

New laptop

I’ve been offline for a couple of days, due to an upgrade in my computer hardware. I picked up a Dell laptop at a bargain price, and it screams, well anything would compared to the old machine I was using. Viewing full res raw files is faster than viewing very low res jpgs on the old desktop. Amazing. The screen is brilliant too, awesome colour, sharpness and 1920×1200 rocks. I’ll post a few pics and a review of it soon.

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