Standard Definition Grand Final – How Disappointing, Channel Seven!


image pix


Ok, I am probably known for being a bit fussy on particular issues… When the game came on Channel 7 yesterday, I thought there was something wrong with our Telly. It took me a  minute or two, and some quick web searching to realise that Channel 7 were broadcasting the game in standard definition. In 2013. Standard…. Definition….

I quickly jumped back to my usual channel of choice – Fox Footy, but they do not have rights to the GF. I started to panic as I checked to see if there was an alternate broadcast on 7Mate or something… Nothing was going. The best game of the year was being broadcast in standard definition.

Even on our grouse TV set, the numbers on the back of the jumpers started to smoosh up on the wide shots. Fox shows every game in HD. This was the first game I had watched on Channel 7 all year – hence my surprise.

The AFL need to step in and make sure the 2014 GF is broadcast in HD. For the sake of all the pubs, clubs, and GF BBQs where groups of people are crowded around big screens. HD makes a big difference – enough to really matter.

It is the showpiece game of our indigenous sport. It deserves no less…

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H1 kodak tx400 nyc042

H1 kodak tx400 nyc042 by .Damo.
H1 kodak tx400 nyc042, a photo by .Damo. on Flickr.

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The Act of Chimping and How to Get That Monkey Off Your Back!

Where would I be without
1. chimping
What one does after taking a picture with a digital camera and looking at the result. Derived from the words they speak when chimping: “Ooo-oo-oo!”

Chimping is a relatively recent phenomenon – a rather negative result of the digital age we now live in. Capturing images is virtually free now – once you have bought your digital camera from Harvey Norman, it costs nothing to press the shutter button. This, combined with the instant gratification of the LCD screen becomes an irresistible force.

It is virtually impossible for the photographer not bring the camera away from their eye and look down at the shiny new image on the LCD screen to check out the result. The subject (if human!) then scoots over to check out their form as well. The resultant oohs and aahs can start to sound like a troop of monkeys on a banana hunt.

Chimping is a great way to create an instant feedback loop for an inexperienced photographer. It becomes a crutch for those who have the basics down pat. When you are learning new techniques, there is no doubt that comparing your result to what you intended, and then adjusting is a solid learning plan. Once the early learning phase is complete though, just like kindy, you need to leave the safety scissors behind and start with the real stuff.

Start concentrating on what you can see in the viewfinder. True hipster photographers never use the live-view LCD to take a shot – I even purchased an optical viewfinder for my Ricoh GR for this reason! I have to be honest though, 50% was because the optical VF works best in bright conditions, and 50% to look arty and cool…

I can't grow a beard that looks cool, so I go for the Optical Viewfinder look...

I can’t grow a beard that looks “Brooklyn”, so I go for the Optical Viewfinder look…

The digital LCD screen is a safety net which promotes thoughtless clicking. Keep pushing the button until you get one you like…. Even when I take out a digital body, I usually only look at the results when I am downloading back at home base. It can make you lazy. Kind of like a golf cart that you can drive around the course vs walking it. When I did play golf (which is probably worth another post sometime – if Satan owns Ikea, then he plays golf on the weekend as well…)

When you stop looking at the LCD, you start concentrating on what you see in the viewfinder. Composing your image to get it as close to right as possible first time, every time.

I suppose this is not as relevant for studio photography – we had head shots done recently at work and the photographer used a tethered camera to make sure he got the results he wanted in real time. But when you have only a moment in time to compose and capture a shot – like out and about the streets of Melbourne – you don’t get second chances. You have to be able to “see” how the composition will look even before you bring the viewfinder up to your eye…

One of the most valuable exercises I have completed which seemed like a complete meh at first was learning how to “see” each focal length using just your eyes. When I go out, I make sure I am properly orientated to the lens I have on the camera. With a little bit of training, you can start to “see” how a scene will look through a particular focal length lens with just your eyes. If it looks good, bring the camera to bear.

Some of my favourite images were a one shot opportunity. If couldn’t see the composition  opportunity firstly using my eyes, and then quickly getting it right in the viewfinder, then the shot is missed.

Shots like this are composed in an instant, and are not able to be replicated easily…

One shot opportunity...

One shot opportunity…

This guy is not going to stand there forever in the doorway. Being able to compose something close to what you want (a little post cropping is acceptable to the film gods) in an instant is the difference to getting the shot or not.

Chimping is not helping you become proficient at composition….

Chimping also reduces my enjoyment of the experience of photography. Entering a “wax on, wax off” state is part of the enjoyment. Constantly looking for instant gratification via the LCD reduces your ability to enter a fugue state where you are using “the force” to capture images of the world around you. I find checking the LCD constantly interrupts my line of thinking and the focus on composition. Most importantly, you cannot see the next shot if your eyes are busy supping from the LCD crack pipe…

Chimping Naltrexone…

Buy one of these on ebay – $100 – $200… And more streed cred than an 80’s hip hop dance gang. The Nikon FM2 comes with 100% indestructible stainless chromy goodness – remember when stuff was made of metal rather than plastic? I wish my D700 had the magnesium alloy on the outside instead of covered by the rubber and plastic…


Buy this.

Buy this.

Put one of these on it. $129 50mm f1.8 brand new… You can stick it on your DSLR when the chimps have gone to monkey heaven.

Now you have a film camera, you can’t chimp. A roll of film is $8 and the processing (who can be shagged self-developing or home brewing beer?) is another $15 or so. Every shot is just under a buck. So you learn very quickly to make the most of it. It is not so much cashola per shot that you worry about it, but enough to encourage forethought.

Maybe it is time for people to start taping black cardboard over the LCD on digital cameras?

Shooting film completely removes the distraction of the virtual plasma screen on the back of your camera. Once a shot is complete, you automatically start looking for follow up shots, instead of jumping up and down, and congratulating yourself on the how awesome your artistic skillz are.

If you don’t want to spend $300 on a film camera, then dig around the closets of your relatives this Christmas – 2 out of 5 households still have a film SLR body still taking up space in a closet. People find it hard to chuck things that cost a lot of money at the time but are now virtually worthless.

Anyone need some ballast?

Anyone need some ballast?

I still have an original Apple Mac Powerbook that you can buy on Ebay for $AU110… Do you think I can actually bring myself to put the thing in the bin???

Find the camera in the cupboard and look it up on eBay to establish the value. Most of the time, relos are happy to give stuff away so long as someone wants it. Take it, and try some film!

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Present Self – Future Self, and the relationship between the two…

present me

One of the pop psychology books on my shelf highlighted that your current self (ie. your brain today) does not regard your future self as being the same person. Quite literally, the person you are today does not have any love or consideration for the person you will be tomorrow. This is why people stay up too late, spend too much money before some big bills come in, and leave homework until the last minute. The consequences of your actions are a problem for completely different person – your future self.

There are not many people in the world who get their homework done prior to the night before… So, visualising your future self, the night before it is due, can create a mental connection to help get started on things today.

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Taking the 50mm f1.2 out for a run

The paradox of choice. The more options you have for a particular decision, the harder the choice becomes.

From Wikipedia :”When people are faced with having to choose one option out of many desirable choices, they will begin to consider hypothetical trade-offs. Their options are evaluated in terms of missed opportunities instead of the opportunity’s potential. One of the downsides of making trade-offs is it alters how we feel about the decisions we face; afterwards, it affects the level of satisfaction we experience from our decision.”

When you have a range of grouse cameras and lenses to choose from, there is always a twinge of regret as I walk out the door for the ones left behind!

I have been trying to make my selections more simply, and not to agonise over them. It is not unusual for me to have to repack my day bag two or three times as I reconsider what to take with me.

So, I just reached for the single most “ordinary” combo that I have on the shelf. The Nikon F3 and a 50mm. Didn’t even think about it – just popped them in the bag and walked out the door…

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Changing Perspective – Wide Angle Photography – Compact Cameras

The first few rolls came back from Bond Colour this week from my New York trip. As soon as I started scanning, I realised I wasn’t quite sure which shots were from which camera – the Ricoh GR1V or the Nikon 35ti… I will do my best to separate them… but only the camera gods know for sure which is which…

The Nikon 35ti shots that I could identify came up suprisingly nice and sharp – exceeding my meagre expectations of what a compact camera could deliver. I must admit that the 35mm focal length is my preferred option over the 28mm, but I am going to persist with the 28’s…

I am getting rather attached to the compacts – after years of carrying around heavy gear, it is a nice change to have a camera that fits in your pocket!

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The Year of the Compact Film Camera!

Hmmm, it would seem I am a regular breaker of one of the ten commandments handed down to Moses on Mt Sinai.

“Thou Shalt Not Covet”

It is tough when friends come along to a photography function with shiny new items. I find that as soon as I pick up a camera or lens that I immediately start liking things about it, and jumping on the iphone and checking the ebay values.

So, on a couple of Melbourne Silver Mine outings lately, I noticed that compact 35mm cameras had become quite avante garde amongst the artistic salons that I frequent. In particular, two caught my eye.

Ricoh GR1v



Nikon 35ti



You can read about them both by clicking on the links which will take you to Japan Camera Hunter – a current favourite distraction for me!

I will have more suitable images for you to ogle and love with the actual reviews of the cameras later…

I managed to pick up one of each surprisingly cheap on ebay and gumtree. I have always been somewhat of a lazy buyer on both, but over the last 4 weeks I was checking both sites daily for these cameras (and a Contax t3 – but they do not seem to come up very often at a decent price). There is always someone who comes up wanting a quick sale and prices their item accordingly.

Both cameras came up at a great price and I committed instantly. I realised then that if you want something at a great price you have to check these websites at least daily. The GR1v was on Gumtree for about an hour… I am starting to wonder how many good deals pass me by because I am distracted by things like work and a home life… Hmmmmm.

As I have mentioned previously, this is a short but glorious moment in time for analogue photography. Both cameras, particularly the Nikon 35ti were “rich guy” point and shoots. Great lens quality, superior metal build, and have been used very little.

I found them absolutely perfect for street photography – nobody much cares if you point an itty bitty compact at them vs a 70-200 lens on a body the size of a brick.

Reviews will be forthcoming once I get some rolls back from Bond Colour later this week and are run laboriously through my scanner whilst watching my second team, the Tigers, flog the silver tail blues this weekend.


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