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Just testing out the infra-red capability with the Olympus OM-D

Testing out the Olympus OM-D EM-5 with infra red filter

Testing out the Olympus OM-D EM-5 with infra red filter

Firstly, we are moving to Victoria to a town called “Port Fairy”. Yes pretty name ain’t it? Anyway, we will be running a Thai restaurant there. I won’t need a lot of portrait gear that i have so everything must go. Gear can be pick up from Sydney or I can post them.

I still gonna keep my speedlite with PWs so that I can still do off camera stuff (if i get time). This will mean that you guys will be seeing more landscape stuff from me. I am looking to organise landscape shoot/workshop type when everything are settled. There are SO MUCH landscape to be had down there. Beautiful waterfalls, towering cliff, lighthouses, great architecture, etc. This will be more like a “local” guided tour. I have already found a few great spots from being down there.

Please download the PDF item list here.




As a winter snow lover, I have been going to the snow on a yearly basis for almost a decade now. My first place of snow play was in Thredbo. Having visited it for so many years in winter, I have been itching to visit Thredbo in summer to see the (depressing) mountain without its white cover.

The journey was from Great Ocean Road via Melbourne as we continued from the road trip through Victoria, up to Glenrowan, into Wadoonga with the visit to The Army Museum (more photos later) and Timber Tussle bridge (more photos later). The road through the mountain via Khancoban was a dense sub alpine forest with winding road that were stepping the cliff and cut through rocks. It was very pretty and enjoyable for the first 15min, then you start to realise that there was still another 45 minutes to go. Luckily the first half of it was still day light.

By the time we got to Lhotskys Apartments in Thredbo to meet up with our friends (Ed and Will) it was about 9:30pm. We try desperately to find food in Thredbo at that time. The bistros were closed, half of the shops were shut, and finally we managed to squeeze the last order of two pizzas in at T-Bar Restaurant. It was two medium pizzas at the cost of $60.00AUD!! But that was to be the only food left apart from water, so we got them. As it turned out, it was not bad. Pleased with ourselves, we started to plan the next day. The weather was saying that it would be raining, windy, and cold. A great combination to have while doing an alpine high altitude walk for 6 hours – NOT. We decided to wait and see.

Saturday:
Morning came, it was foggy, windy, raining and a little chilly. So we decided to cancel it and move it to the following day. (I forgot to mention that Mandy and I were planning to do the walk a week earlier on our forward journey to Victoria but it was raining so we moved it to this weekend. It had been sunny all week as we kept track of the weather and now it’s RAINING again!!) The day was spent by going down to Jindabyne. After fueling our supply (so that we did not have to spend 60 bucks on pizzas again) we drove back up the mountain stopping at the steak house along the was to try our luck at the MAZE. The steak house had built this giant maze at the back of the property. It is $2.00 per person to get in. There were kids and adults doing it. We all did it. Mandy in theory solved the maze as she navigated her way through it and got almost to the end when i called her over. I happened to overhear a mum shouting to her kids on how to solve the maze., so I did what she said, found Mandy and got out while Will and Ed were still inside. (you can email me if you want to know how to solve it) There is a elevated platform so you could see what is going on in the maze and direct people. It took our mates another good 20 mins. to get out.

After that we drove around to see parts of the Thredbo River to work out which are worthy of photos. We ended up back in Thredbo and decide to do a walking tour instead. We trekked up Thredbo river near the golf course.

Dinner was cooked by the lovely Mandy. Menu was a family recipe of beef stroganoff and jasmine rice.

Sunday:
The mountain was covered with fog. You can still feel the chill in the morning. Breakfast and lunch were prepared by Ed and Will.

We checked out and drove the car to the parking lot only to realise that the lunch was missing!! Frantically looking in the boot, backseats, under the seats, etc we could not find it. Ed and Will had to drive back to the apartments to check. They got back to tell us that Will had put it in the glove box of Ed’s car!! Nice one WILL! (To see the day in a whole new perspective. “Will.I.Am”, please click here)

We met up with our guide and about 15 other walkers in our group at the chairlift at 10AM and began the walk.

The first part was a chairlift ride up to the top at Eagles nest (1900m). For the first time, all of us were actually on the chairlift overlooking the mountain full of GRASS! There were no snow in sight. There was a bit of a chill from the wind, a windproof/waterproof jacket is a good thing to have as the weather can turn pretty quickly on top of the mountain. But a normal jacket would work too as it didn’t rain and it was pretty hot on top.

The walk itself was at an easy going pace set by our guide, there were a mix of people walking the track. I would STRONGLY recommended good THICK soled walking shoes as the metal grate and the rocky pebble road can be a little rough on the feet if you do not have proper shoes – we all went with our sport joggers. I would also recommended walking with the guide (you only pay $6.00 more, but there is someone there to point things out and answer your questions – well worth the six bucks extra!)

It was a relaxing walk with a stop about halfway to enjoy the high country view. The day was turning out to be a great blue sky sunny day in contrast to the day before (from what we were told) it was raining with sleet coming down and it was windy.

There were historic huts, glacial lakes, wild flowers, etc to see and photograph. To our pleasant surprise, there were still patches of snow dotted around the place. From far away it just looked like sand banks from golf courses as it had turned from white to reddish gray from the red dust storm a few months earlier. How could you have gone and walked the Snowy Mountains without seeing the snow right? =) We got to the top just a little after 1pm. There was a line up to stand on the highest point in Australia – on top of the obelisk! People were pulling out their national flags, kids trying to climb, middle age guy struggling to get down. We all did it and settled down to have lunch with the highest view in AU.

After about 30mins, the guide found us and said that she would resume the walk back soon, we could join her or just walk back at our own pace later. It was a nice stroll back down with mini rest along the way. By the time we got down it was around 4pm.






The drive down to Jindabye was pretty painful as we were all half asleep, tired from the walk. At dinner in Jindy, we did have to bully Will a little for him to take a day off work the following day. Because Will could not drive manual, therefore Ed was the only driver in the 2nd car. There was no way that Ed would be able to drive back by himself. So the question was posed to him, asking if he thinks he could stay awake for the whole journey with Ed. He said “NO”. So, then how did he expect Ed to stay awake and drive with himself happily snoozing off next to him.

With the laptop and mobile internet at hands, we booked accommodation with http://www.wotif.com.au. an hour prior to check-in at Jindabyne Lake Side Hotel. It was for $125.00 AUD. To our surprise, the room could sleep up to 9 people with breakfast included – BARGAIN!!

It was overall a great day to walk the mountain, well worth experiencing it ($37.00 – chairlift and guided walk). For me, it was not the walk itself that was more memorable. It was on our downward journey when all of us were laying on a large bolder to have snacks. Make sure you do try this;
1. find a large bolder over looking a valley.
2. lay down, close your eyes.
3. leave your eyes closed for a few seconds.
4. open your eyes and look past your feet.
It was like a dream, only the endless view was real!

5D MarkII with Cokin Z-PRO

This is a revise version of what I wrote a few years back on Filters.

This review is for those who are new in the world of photography; the veterans might find something useful too. It is base on the filter that I have.

Skylight, UV filters, protection filter (clear optical glass):

These types of filter serve very well as lens protection because they are relatively cheap to buy. They come in great varieties; single-coated (HOYA green), multicoated (HOYA purple), PRO, etc. Skylights filter then to warm up the image a little as it add more red to your image. UV cuts out Ultra-Violet light. The higher the altitude the bluer the environment gets, so UV filter helps reduce the bluish tone. But at sea level, you will not notice any differences. I use UV on all my lens as a protection filter. I also find the yellowish/redish tone a little annoying.
For protecting the lens from environment, ask youself these. What surface would you be more comfortable wiping sand off from? glass front element or the filter surface? If you happen to scratch it, then just buy a new one.

Polarizing Filter:

Polarized filter is one of thsoe filter you should have in you bag. It works by rotating the secondary ring on the filter to adjust the intensity. It works by cutting out the light rays that gives causes reflection. Example being if you are shooting water surface, with the filter turing in a correct amount will allow you see under the water (cuts out the glare on the surface). It work with any reflective surface such as window, waterfall, and sky (make it bluer). It also cuts out the light by as much as 2 f-stop.
Most waterfalls shoot would need polarized filter as you want to have the least amount of distracting reflections and because it cuts out light, you can now expose your image for a little longer.

Pink Gibson step sunrise

Cokin Filters:

Cokin are unique in a sense that you just drop the filter into a hold, change when ever you want. Great range and reasonably priced. I am now sponsered by Cokin. http://www.qualitycamera.com.au stocks Cokin range, they are in Perth but next business day shipping. TED in Sydney CBD (on special order, takes 1-2weeks). Cokin come in many sizes, from A, P, Z-PRO and X-PRO.

A is way too small for DSLR, unless you are not planning to mover from 58mm.

P (100mm x 84mm) is the next size up, it will fit up to 77mm threads, can hold up to 3 filters with standard holder. Problem only occur when you have an ultra-wide angle lens (Canon 10-22mm, Sigma 10-20mm, etc) – vignette occurs only when I go below 12-14mm. You can buy wide-angle adapter (hold a single filter) which you can shoot at 10mm (16mm in 35mm terms). This is a much cheaper alternative than going up a size. Or you can even buy a 3 slots holder and cut it down to 1, I did. But buying one would be easier. REMEMBER, vignette only occur if you go below 14mm for the 3 slots holder and non on the ultra-wide holder (providing that you take out your UV (Protection) filter).

Z-PRO is much better (150mm X 100mm) and cost 3x as much as the P series. Same size as LEE filter. I finally end up buying this as i couldn’t be bother to take the UV out of my lens anymore. Z-PRO can hold two filters or reverse (flip) it to hold one. To be honest, after have been using it since May 07, i think that it isn’t worth it. P works much better as the filter cover mose of the lens’ front element. Z-PRO is much bigger and spilled out (15-20% on each of the long side) over the side of the front element. Confused? Say a GRAD ND, with P, the darkest part start at the top of the lens all the way down to clear at the bottom. Z-PRO, starts out at about 80% dark (then other 20% is outside the glass), down to about 20% grey. So P works much better with the full effect, and it’s way cheaper for someone starting out.

X-PRO is a little bigger again. They are aimed for Large format camera or commercial film production, TV shows. I personally have no experience with these product. Some people are using these now for new super-wide digital lens such as 14-24 Nikkor on Full Frame cameras.

What you would need;

1. Adapter ring in the size that will your threads on the lens (77mm, 67mm, 58mm, etc)

2. Filter Holder.

3. Filters (I highly recommend the 121M (ND4 Grad that works on most situation) and 124 Tobacco Filter (GRAD Orange, peferct for sunrise and sunset).

UPDATE: just found a really cool new way to stop vignette on the Z-Pro.

http://www.cokin.com/cokin-data/news-product/PDF/PR_Z-PRO-photo.pdf

If you take the spacer out and put it at the very front – the vignette goes away…..which is very very cool at my 10mm

While you are there, (this review isnt’ bias, I have written this way before Cokin ask me to put a profile up). Check out http://www.cokin.com/gallery.html

GRADUATED ND;

I have been using Cokin Graduated Neutral Density (Grad ND) for a few years now, these has a darker upper half, then it gradually reduce to clear at about halfway point. I use it for architectural shot, landscape, as well as environmental portrait (when I need to reduce the exposure on the sky down). Why do you need these type of filter? Because of the sensor in digital camera (no matter how advanced or how expensive they are). They can not replicate the dynamic range of our eyes. Meaning that the sky will always be about 2-3 stop brighter than the ground. If you shoot landscape with sky in them, if you point your camera at the sky, the metering will read and calculate base on the sky, chances are, the sky will be beautiful but the land will be too dark. And if you point the camera at the house, the sky becomes brownout. So slap a grad ND on and shoot away, shooting at the house, the ND will bring down the exposure of the sky. You can calculate how much you would need base on how bright the sky is. I do not go outside without one of these.

Cokin do have other effect GRAD ND filter, bought in from the old non digital day; grad blue, grad red, stars, etc. I do have collection of Tobacco (red) Graduated filter; it helps enhance sunrise or sunset shot. I use Tobacco filter a lot for my Sunrise and Sunset.

12 Apostles Sunrise LOTR

Full ND;

Full Neutral Density filter helps bring down the lights level without effect the colour of the photo. Ever wonder how to shoot waterfalls and get those flowing water effect. The answers are here, because you need exposure time running longer into seconds. Without the filter, the whole scene becomes blownout. So you use the filter to let less light into the camera, hence longer exposing time. They usually come in ND4, ND6, ND8, meaning it will stop the light by 1, 2 and 3 stop respectively. You can get other one that have 10 stops for those extra long exposure.
You can buy screw-in or cokin type.

Macro/Close-up Filter;

Screw in to you front element of the lens to make minimum focusing distance closer. Can be use as macro lens substitute as well. Example, on my 75-300mm IS USM, minimum focus distance is 1.5m, if I slap the filter on, this will bring it down to about 0.2m.

Hope these clarified a few things, drop me a line if you need anything else.
Oat

21 Jan 2013: Nice video explaining about filters - http://vimeo.com/singhray/inthefieldvideo

I have been wrecking my brain with this issue for a few hours now. Googling endless looking for a solution. Problem occur when I try to copy files from my Mac to external HD, some folder works some does not! It will start copying then stop with the error “The Finder can’t complete the operation because some data in “HDR-JPG” can’t be read or written. (Error code -36)” (HDR-JPG is the folder name).

In short, it all comes down to the “._” in the filing system. You need to clean it with a dot_clean command from apple terminal.

Steps
1. Launch Terminal (Applications > Utilities) and type the following command, ***making sure*** to include a space at the end:

dot_clean

2. Select the folder on your Mac that is giving you trouble and drag it right to the Terminal window. A green cursor with a + symbol should appear before you release the mouse.
3. The path to that folder should have automatically appeared at the end of the Terminal command. For example, it might look like:

dot_clean /Users/UserName/Desktop/Test_Folder

4. Press Enter/Return to run the command. It will appear as if nothing happened, but try copying that folder to a MS-DOS volume now. Finder should magically allow it to be moved with no problem!
5. Repeat the entire process as needed for other folders that won’t copy.

The solution I found is here at Macyourself.

Cheers,
Oat

As I was going through the images from out trip to the top of Australia at Mt Kosciuszko, I couldn’t help myself notice that our good mate William was almost and always be in the corner of the picture doing “Will”‘s thing. So I decided to create a comic strip base on the event of 2 days during our trek.

Comic By: Oat
Edit By: Mandy
Title By Ed

Starring: William (and others)

After our Otway, Great Ocean Road, Mt Gambier, SA, we decided to do the summit walk at Thredbo. Being a winter fan of the place, I have always wanting to see it in Summer. We booked two nights accomodations at a Lanski apartment which isnt’ a bad little accommodation at all. We got there on Friday with weather turning badly against us. The walk was suppose to be on Saturday but it was raining and windy. Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day.

It is an easy walk about this time of year with wild flower blooming all around. You can also see snow (what’s left of it) near the summit. The walk itself was approx. 3hr (6.5km) each way.

We all did enjoy the walk very much.



Great Ocean Road Sunrise, originally uploaded by hangingpixels.

30 sec exposure with Cokin Filters.
I am using Cokin Z-Pro series as it is just big enough to fit on my 17mm on Full Frame. The filter can be stack on top of each other, for this instance, I had a Z121M (Grad ND4) and Z124 (Grad Tobacco) on the holder and both of them help to bring the sky down. The Z121M need to be moved slightly down pass the horizon to even out the exposure a little. If not, then the sky will look too dark and the foreground will be too light. Remember that you now have 2 stops from ND4 and another 2 stops from Tobacco. I show this in RAW so i can play with white balance in post. What you can try also is set your while balance to fluorescent, you will then get a purplish sky.

Enjoy,
Oat

Victoria have loads of nice architecture about the the place. This townhall was in a town called Camperdown. I couldn’t resist taking photo of it.

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