Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Long time since I last updated, but there has been a reason… I've just been too busy! Last 2 weeks have been hectic, both photographically and personally. It's just a shame the two have to overlap like this. Take the last weekend for instance, 3 cars shot, over 400km travelled, around 600 RAW photos and a 2 week deadline to deliver them. Basically I'm a slave to Photoshop at the moment and nothing seems to be going right! My usual deal of using the same RAW settings for dozens of shots is giving inconsistent results and just other small things that have me losing sleep.

Again I get to travel a bit more this weekend when I head for Sunny Queensland to do a few shoots for private customers. Leave work Friday Afternoon, jump straight on a flight and then start shooting literally an hour after I arrive! All the while I still don't have a location sorted or a return flight for that matter but that's the least of my worries at the moment.

Hopefully, by the time I get back I should receive the news that my Canon 5Dmk2 has arrived and I can start playing around with that. In the meantime I'll try to update with some archive stuff with a bit more behind the scenes shots and a few shots from my QLD adventure.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The future is Red

With the crossover between film and still camera technology now amongst us, Red have released their full line of Ultra High Resolution still and video camera's to somewhat dwarf with the Canon 5dmk2 and Nikon D90 in both features, and Price.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sneak Peak

The illusive RB26DET S14a of Sydney, I'll post more later about this car.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Australian Supercross Championship

Besides Photography, Dirtbikes are a massive part of my life, I ride a bike (badly) and it's a great way to escape the hassles of daily life. So when the Supercross was in town I slapped down a bunch of cash for "platinum" tickets and was in for a night I won't forget in a hurry.

Put together by World Supercross champion Chad Reed, The Australian Supercross championship has been a massive success, well promotoed and with International riders and decent prize money it's a well needed boost for the Australian Off Road Scene.

Watching Chad Reed ride in person was worth the admission alone, he is the definition of "smooth" almost looking slow he is that perfect. But when put against other riders, Reed is another level completely. Totally dominating the event, there is no question that he is both the worlds best, and obviously pisses on the Aussies. Notible performances by Dan Reardon and Jake Moss in the Pro Lites class with very fast laptimes.

I took the Little G9 camera with me for some crowd perspective snaps, shooting the
Supercross from the Media spots is something I'll be looking into for next year definately.

Nutter Freestyler

Loving the Rim Tape

Motocross Legend and Suzuki Team Manager Roger DeCoster

Ohlins Forks worth more than your car!


Pit Lane

No Expense spared! Pyrotechnics

Scared the crap out of me

The amazing sunset

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

R34 GTR Vspec

It's not everyday you get to shoot a car you idolised when growing up, and when I got the chance to take photos of Brett's 1999 R34 GT-R V-spec I jumped at it. Like most males in their early 20's, Gran Turismo was not just a game, but it was pretty much responsible for my obsession with fast cars. As soon as I got enough credits I always went straight for the R34 GT-R In Bayside blue no less, and here I am taking photos of a car I digitally drove around Tsukuba racetrack countless times trying to shave a thousandth of my virtual PB. To have this car right in front of you for a whole afternoon and then be taking it for a spin was something I won't forget in a hurry. Although not exactly rare in Australia, R34 GT-R's are somewhat mystical, if you see one you stop what you are doing. well I do anyway.

Brett's R34 is a V-spec model but has a few extra "herbs and spices" to give it 350kw at all 4 wheels, hardly massive power for a GT-R in Australia but it's the way that the power is spread in this particular Skyline that makes it the ultimate street car, No lag, No wheelspin just relentless neck straining acceleration. How fast? Brett has managed an 11.008 @ 127mph. With 10's easily within sight there is not much on the Streets of Sydney that will trouble this blue beast.

Some specifications:
Built Motor, Pistons, Rods
, JUN Oil Pump, Big Baffled Sump, Ported Head, Poncams, Power FC, HKS GT-SS Turbo's V-Spec 2 Bonnet 19inch Volk GTC's..... Impressive!

The shoot was relatively straight forward. The location was something I wanted to try for months but never found a car that suited the dark surroundings. This spot was located by the water it gave virtually no reflections onto the car but provided an interesting background to do the shoot. After unloading the car I heard the distinct rumble of a cammed RB series engine from streets away, it sauntered down the street, it's front lip nearly scraping the ground. As I got a closer look I noticed how amazing Nissans Bayside Blue is, the paint is very deep and unique, this car for an import was in amazing condition. It looked like it had just been driven off the showroom floor rather than something that is nearly a decade old.

Equipment was again budget off camera flash setup but with a bit of the dark side blended in. I used two Nikon SB600's triggered by Radio Transmitters and my trusty Sigma 500 Super using the trustier inbuilt optical slave. After a bit of technical problem solving (one receiver was out of batteries so I did some mcgyver style electronics with some AA's) I like to shoot in a bit of a methodical order for some reason so nothing changed this time around, Front, Back, Side, Front Quarter, Rear Quarter and interior/detail and finish up with rolling/rig shots. Camera as always was the old beast Canon 1DsMk2 and 24-70 + 70-200 2.8L Combo.

Take note, these shots are all one exposure, no HDR or bracketed exposures, I'm too lazy to do that sort of work :) so some basic RAW post production methods of adjusting curves/levels and colour balance are the only tricks here, I also must note, save your RAW workflow for one shot and use it multiple times, First up, front on. as it was still quite light outside 2xSB600's at full power @ 24mm aimed at each quarter panel from high up and the Sigma from the rear of the car to provide a sort of none existent accent light. The same was done for the rear and side profiles aiming the flash into the wheel wells to avoid unsightly bright highlights to the image and to accentuate the big guards. (insert setup shots) Front quarter shot is a bit trickier than the others as you now have the front of the car to light evenly but by giving plenty of distance (and power) between the flash and the car gave a nice even spread of light. This time the flash was aimed into the grill on a downward angle to give the bonnet a bit of light. I always shoot low to the ground to avoid light spill over and at a long focal distance (around 200mm) to get a nice undistorted look to the car and from down low the car appears a bit more menacing.

One of the major payoffs of taking photos of high performance cars is a lot of the time the owner will give me a ride/drive of their pride and Joy. Brett was no exception and I was genuinely excited to ride shotgun in one of my childhood hero cars. I snuggled butt into the bucket seats, a whirr of fuel pumps and then the RB26 fired into life. The twin plate clutch takes a bit of a tricky sidestep to master, a few blips of the loud pedal and we were off, first thing I noticed is how sedate and easy the car appeared to drive slow, often hi-po streetcars are hardly friendly to drive at low speed but this was an exception.
As the water temp rose so did the rpm... then before I could ready myself I was pinned to the seat! (Private Raceway Mr Police) My head was Glued to the headreast as we launched from a standstill to warp speed in no time at all. The revs just didn't seem to end and neither did the power, 2nd, 3rd, 4th still into it! The noise, the feeling of complete helplessness and the rumbling of my bowels about to turn into a brown mess all over immaculate recaro's! I returned back to my car, you could not wipe the smile from my face, all in a days work. Thanks to Brett for been so co-operative and for letting me take a ride in his weapon, also thanks to Simon Ziarkowski for assisting me on the day.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Review: Canon G9

Recently I went on a holiday to Indonesia, so instead of lugging around an expensive, heavy and cumbersome DSLR setup I looked into getting a digital compact camera to take on my travels, After reading several reviews on different compacts and their inheriting strengths and weaknesses the Canon G9 stood out as a clear winner, for both image quality, features and creative control. With the Arrival of the New Canon G10, the Price of G9's has fallen considerably over the last few months, and whilst still an incredibly capable camera the deal was too good not to pass up.

The thing I like most about the G9 most is the fact it has nearly every single feature of a camera 5 times it's price, and has a lot of features that DSLR's do not have, 1024 Video mode been the most impressive of these features.

Whilst tiny in comparison to my DSLR setup, the G9 is hardly a featherweight, too large for a pocket but perfect for a small bag or around the neck, it's weight may be a hindrance to those who like to travel light but for those who like something with a good ergonomic feel and rangefinder looks then the G9 is perfect. Large textured rubber grips, brushed/spun metal accents and chrome finishing really make this camera exude class. The Shutter button also has a familiar DSLR feel to it as well with a very smooth action and half press focussing. The dials and buttons are very easy to read and use, and can be operated whilst using gloves (handy for those riding dirtbikes/mtb/snowboarding etc) Rounding out the exterior is a solid looking hotshoe mount, rare for a compact camera but for those with a creative mind a godsend.

Composing and taking an image is easy with the large and clear LCD screen, all relevant information can be viewed either through the viewfinder or the LCD with plenty of room to compose the photo. Handy features such as Histogram and sliding exposure scale shown in real time make nailing the perfect exposure that much easier. The G9 also has a very effective image stabilisation feature that allows for clear and crisp images in low light, I was amazed at how slow of a shutter speed can be used when IS was turned on.

The G9 like a lot of compacts nowadays allows full manual control over ISO, Aperture and shutter speed but can also be put on Auto Mode and give exceptional results, one major pitfall with Compacts is the small sensor size, which in turn can produce grainy photos in low light when the ISO/Sensitivity is increased, and the G9 is no different, ISO ranges from 80 to 1600 where only up to ISO 200 resembling a clean clear image, this would have to be one of the only downsides of the camera.

Files produced from the G9 in daylight rival most DSLR's on the market, it is scary how similar the files are to my 1dsmk2, it makes me wonder why the huge fuss over DSLR's these days when compact cameras are this good. The G9 as full RAW functionality, so processing images is as easy as can be, the files can be pushed surprisingly a long way in both shadows and highlights to recover any blown out or lost shadow detail, Chromatic Aberration (purple fringing) is also barely recognisable at 100% view so it is a testament to the design on the canon lens. Zooming is neither wide angle or telephoto, whilst not the widest zooming compact around, the G9 is wide enough for most purposes, Canon sell an optional wide angle convertor and a teleconvertor to give wider/longer zoom. Focus speed Is fast and accurate, in low light the G9 launches a green laser light to help lock onto focus.

As mentioned before, the G9 has an inbuilt hotshoe, allowing for the addition of a hotshoe based flash with ETTL compatibility, or the ability to allow for off camera flash. One inherent problem with DSLR's is with a mechanical shutter, flash sync can only be set to a maximum or around 1/250th of a second depending on the model and manufacturer, the beauty of Compact cameras means that because their shutter is electronic, any sync speed can be obtained! The ability to sync at 1/2000th, with enough lighting power is a great asset to have.
Another brilliant feature of the G9 is the movie mode, which captures in 1024 resolution with decent sound. The video files produced are very large however so it pays to have a large capacity SD card handy. Small inclusions such as inbuilt ND Filter, Custom white balance and scene modes make the G9 both a pleasure to use for beginners and those more advanced.

My intended purpose for this camera now that I am back from holidays is to just enjoy it for what it is, a smallish but extremely capable camera that can rival a DSLR and in many ways trump it with features. I plan to use the G9 on a photoshoot to prove that it does not take a DSLR to get exceptional results. Rather with some creativity and some carefully planned execution the compact digital camera is a force to be reckoned with.