Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tasmanian Photography Workshop: December 2009

Now that our travel commitments for November have solidified, we're finally able to announce the dates for our next photography workshop!

December 11-14, 2009, we'll be taking 6 photographers to Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. Please see the workshops page for detailed information!
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

SPOT messenger updated

Back in August 2008 I posted a note about the SPOT Messenger. This combines a GPS and a satellite transmitter to send location and status messages from most locations in the world. Later that year I ended up getting one, and have been using it during my travels around Australia and South America to send "OK" reports home while away from regular communications.

It's given me some peace of mind also: recently when heading off for some dawn photography I slipped and fell close to my final destination.
However I was travelling alone, was away from mobile phone coverage, and it would have probably been many hours before someone either found me or decided I was missing. All those thoughts went rushing through my head as I lay there stunned after my fall, but there was also the thought that I could push the button on the SPOT to summon emergency services if required. The fall wasn't really that bad (my feet had slipped out from underneath me as I clambered down some wet rocks, and I had fallen onto my back and slipped a metre or so) and I didn't need emergency services, but I did appreciate having the SPOT with me.
I got up stiffly and continued with my photography, and my only injuries were aches and pains along with a 10cm scratch on my back (from the tripod which had been slung over my shoulder at the time). In the end the photography wasn't great, but at least I was OK.

Anyway, this is just a quick note to point out that an updated model of the SPOT is coming to market soon. The "old" one works just fine, but it's good to see that the hardware and the service they provide is continuing to be developed!

Dawn after the fall...
Portland, Victoria
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My current compact camera

Actually, the draft title of this post was "My current pocket camera", but these days that role is sometimes taken by my iPhone...

Kele Okereke, Bloc Party
Festival Hall, Melbourne
G9, ISO 800 (A2_005003)
Since early 2008 I've been using a Canon G9 as my "carry almost everywhere" camera. It's small, takes photos in RAW, and although it has its limitations (e.g. not good at high ISO) it's still a camera I'm happy with. When the G10 was released I considered upgrading (and have used borrowed G10s several times) but so far I've stuck with the G9. Mind you, if I didn't already have the G9 it might be a toss-up between the G10 and the Panasonic LX3.

I keep hearing/seeing comments about the G9 and the G10, so I thought I'd add my own into the mix...


Field Hut
Udomxai, Laos
G9, ISO 100 (A2_003779)
Recently I've heard several prominent photographers talking about their favourite "pocket" cameras, and the G9 and its replacement G10 has been brought up each time. The G10 has criticised by some people for having less-capable video than the G9. I really wonder if these people have actually used these cameras!
The G9 will take video at 640x480 @30 fps or 1024x768 @ 15 fps, whereas the G10 dropped support for the 1024x768 mode. While I did initially have my G9 recording video at 1024x768, I soon got annoyed by the jerkiness of 15 fps video, and ever since have stuck to 640x480. While the higher pixel-count (some would call it "HD" video) looks good on paper, that's only until you notice the difference in frame rate.

Upgrading to the G10 would not introduce a video disadvantage for me. I do use the G9 for video clips a bit when travelling, so it's not an uninformed comment. I don't expect the same video quality that I get from my 5DmkII, but for web (and even XGA slideshows) it's good enough.

Paul Weller
The Forum, Melbourne
G9, ISO 400 (A2_001011)
Shooting in RAW

I prefer all my cameras to be able to shoot in RAW (rather than JPEG) whether it's a DSLR or a pocket camera. It gives me a lot of processing flexibility. For instance in concert photography where the lighting is constantly changing, I find the ability to manipulate the white balance and control the rendering of highlights very important. Both the concert photos shown here were taken handheld from amongst the "mosh" in front of the stage. They have only been processed with Lightroom.

La Boca window
Buenos Aires, Argentina
G9, ISO 200 (A2_005758)
Having a small and robust camera that I can fit in a pocket (ok, not a shirt pocket) and can take decent photos when I don't have an SLR with me is great. Whether I'm walking around a seedy party of town and don't want to attract the wrong sort of attention, or whether I just need to travel light, the G9 has its place.

My G9 is fitted with an RRS L-plate, which adds very little to the bulk of the camera, and allows me to quickly and easily attach it to either the monopod or tripod that lives in the boot of my car (or whatever tripod I have with me in the bush). The G9 comes with a neck strap, but I've instead fitted a small wrist strap (taken from an older Canon S60).

Bored schoolgirl
Udomxai, Laos
G9, ISO 200 (A2_004274)
There's one more accessory I've invested in, and that's the Canon WP-DC21 underwater housing for the G9. Not only does this allow me to take the camera underwater, but it also gives me a lot of peace of mind when doing things like kayaking. In the housing it's no longer a pocket camera, but that trade-off is worth it. And although I need to remove the L-plate to fit the camera in the housing, the wrist-strap neatly tucks inside.

Over and Under
Fish Islands, Antarctica
G9, ISO 400 (A2_013535)

Why haven't I upgraded to the G10? Just because the G9 does its job well! Presumably one day I'll replace it, but not yet.

Magellanic Penguin colony
Punta Tomba, Argentina
G9, ISO 80 (A2_005780)
Continue reading "My current compact camera"...