Friday, 26 December 2014

Boring Lenses = Boring Photographs

If there's one lens that guaranteed to put you, your camera and viewer to sleep its the ubiquitous 18-
55 zoom.

Nikon and Canon both make them as 'kit' lenses. They'd be better described as 'Kitsch' lenses.

Made exclusively of ground-up, me.ted down plastic throw-away drinking cups these  lenses are so soft and so slow Kodak's 100 year old Box Brownie leaves them drowning in its wake.

Sure, they area great price when you buy them as a 'kit' but little do you know that you would get better results footing through the bottom of an empty Coke bottle.

Trade in your beloved 18-55mm zoom and before you have reached your car with your new lens the shop owner has deposited your beloved 18-55 in the bin; destined to be more useful as bio-degradeable land fill.

Not only is that lightweight plastic amorphous lump not sharp but its also incredibly S-L-O-W. With a maximum aperture of just f3.5 it lets pass only 1/6 the amount of light that a 50 year old f1.4 lens passes. And we call this progress!

I suggested to a mature age student that she lash out and purchase a 50mm lens. A week later she called me to query why her 18-55 had suddenly become so 'fuzzt'. I explained, as diplomatically as possible, that her 18-55 lens had ALWAYS been unsharp. Only by comparing results with her new 50mm f1.4 prime did the penny drop.

So, a sure-fire way to produce incredibly boring images is to persevere with that 18-55mm zoom.

Sharpen your lens  and get camera ready for 2015 with a Dale Neill photography workshop at UWA Extension. Click HERE for details.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Photographer or Camera Owner?

Are you a Photographer or merely a Camera Owner?

Photographers can spot Camera Owners a mile away.

How can you spot a mere Camera Owner?

  • No lens hood
  • 18-55mm zoom lens max aperture f3.5
  • Too scared to use 1600ISO or 3200ISO
  • Follows Great Yellow Emperor guidelines of sun over left shoulder
  • Has never used 1/4sec, hand-held, at night
  • Looks like a tourist
  • More interested in eating and drinking than making images
  • Takes 30 seconds to take a simple street shot
  • Thinks Cartier-Bresson is French bicycle builder
  • Chats to husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend instead of looking and shooting

Fujifilm X10, 1/4 sec f2 1600ISO fl7.1mm. Naughty Nuris, Ubud, Bali

Its easy to be a Camera Owner. You simply walk into any camera shop or online with your credit card and 20 minutes later you are a 'Camera Owner'. You can ever become a more accomplished camera owner by buying more lenses, bodies, flashes and gizmos. You can go further by being a 'Posh' camera owner with expensive Leicas, Rolleis and Hassleblad cameras. This still does not make you a photographer.

To be a photographer you need to love photography with a  passion. You eat, sleep and think photography. You love light. You study light. You appreciate technical developments but your life does not rely on them solely. You don't copy other photographers work or go and visit the identical location. You think for yourself. Your heart beats to a different drum. 

The Seductress and The Man with the Hammer

My Seductress appears in many forms. She is beautiful, alluring, impossible to resist.
She appears as the Nikon advertisement in National Geographic or the full page advertisement for a photographic tour of Provence in a glossy magazine.

The Seductress is at her best when I unpack my new Nikon D4 camera body or click my the virginal 300mm prime lens onto the body for the first time. Its like a betrothal, a coming of age.

On every road in the photographic journey, in every state, in every country the Seductress appears from behind a tree or around that sunlit  curve in the road. She beckons me coquettishly with beckoning finger 'Come photograph me'.

As the journey wears on I review my insipid, sterile images. Have I  been beguiled by the Seductress? My images aren't sharp, many are overexposed. How did that cow's head get into my picture. I thought the ETTL system would give me a perfect pic every click. The horizon is crooked. My lens is dusty and covered in fingerprints. The Man with the Hammer has arrived. He belts my images for six! He tells me the images are rubbish, that I have wasted my time and money. The Seductress has won.

I try hard not to listen to The Man. My neck aches with the weight of 4kg of camera and lens; my camera bag weighs twice what it did this morning and a bull ant has left twin red towers on my bott-bott. The voice of the Seductress comes from afar ........ the Man is getting closer. I feel his breath fogging my lens with insidious pessimism, 'Why not try lawn bowls', he says.

Just as the Man with the Hammer is about to strike a lethal blow, like a gladiator in the Colloseum I see an image. A motor scooter rounds a bend on a  narrow road. Shouts of 'Selamat Sore!' greet me. In an instant my right eye locks to the viewfinder and I shoot. One shot. Just one shot is all it takes to force back the Man with the Hammer.

In a smokey dusk I walk home.  I feel like a caveman, club over shoulder delivering a dead warthog to the wench who shares my cave.

Bring your Canon, Nikon or Club, leave your Man with the Hammer at home  and meet my Seductress at a UWA Extension Workshop.
Click HERE for details.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Its Holga not Helga

Two or Three times every week I receive an email or tel call with the same question,

'Which camera should I buy?'
And I answer with another question.
'Which car would you suggest I buy?'
How many of us in life buy the 'vehicle' before we know where we are actually going.
An E Type Jag is possibly not the best choice for a Pig Shooting/Beer Swilling soirée up the Duncan Highway or traversing the Great Sandy Desert with your pregnant girlfriend in mid-Aussie-summer.
So I pose these questions
  • What is subject matter for 90% of your photos?
  • What do you aspire to achieve photographically in 2015/2016
  • How much use does camera get?
  • Do you do any rough, dusty, watery travelling?
  • What is your end result – pics on screen, books, enlargements on wall etc
  • Do you enter exhibitions, competitions?
  • Software you use?
  • How is your eyesight? Wear specs? 
  • Budget

ps You could end up with a Holga.
That's Holga; please don't confuse with
Helga. (Helga's the exotic Russian dancer who wants to exchange her language skills for a marriage certificate and an Aussie passport.)

For sneak preview of my 2015 Photography Workshops click HERE.