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Lights, helicopter, photo!

June 14th, 2011 by Raj

R/C Helicopter light experiment #2

What to do on a cold Melbourne Saturday night over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend? Fly a helicopter around your lounge room and take long exposure photos of it of course! I’d never used “bulb” mode on my 7D before and after a few test shots to establish some basic settings I was ready to go. The set up consisted of my Canon 7D on a tripod in the corner of the room with a 10-22mm wide angle lens connected to my laptop running EOS Utility in order for me to open & close the shutter (I didn’t have a simple remote to do this), the helicopter at half throttle on the stool in the middle of the photos and its remote sitting in my lap.

I wanted to make the environment visible but not to the point where it would detract from the light trails the helicopter left so I left my 50″ TV (to the right of the photos) on at half brightness to provide a dull light source and add some character. The actual settings for each photo varies slightly and I even experimented using a Neutral Density filter at some stage but generally it was around the following: 14mm, f22, ISO 400, 40 seconds

Check out my favourites below and on flickr.

R/C Helicopter light experiment #3

R/C Helicopter light experiment #1

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Time lapse: The Efront office setup

February 4th, 2011 by Raj

Last March the guys I work for, Efront, moved in to a new office space in the Melbourne CBD. It was the perfect opportunity to try out some time-lapse work, which I’d been interested in but never really had a good subject to try it on.

Setting up my Canon 450D with a 12-24mm wide angle lens in the corner of the room, it was attached to my MacBook Pro running Canon’s EOS utility software that would fire the camera every 6 seconds. The camera also had a mains powered attachment that meant I didn’t have to worry about it running out of juice. At the time I didn’t have a neutral density filter so exposure times where quite short, ideally having a neutral density filter on would give the illusion of movement more by blurring people slightly.

9000 photos later they’re stitched together at 25fps using Quicktime 7 (*So* much better than Quicktime X) and exported out to add some fade in/outs and a soundtrack.

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Bilbao: Chasing the Guggenheim

November 18th, 2010 by Raj

Not a city many would rank amongst Spain’s greats; a Barcelona or Madrid it is not and barring those of you whom are not architecture geeks I would happily wager you’re completely unaware of its existence. Hell, the Spanish news doesn’t even include it in it’s list of forecasted cities so who am I to expect you to have heard about it.

That said, it’s not a small place by any means, the population pushes upwards of 350,000 and hosts what is deemed to be one of Spain’s best universities, Duesto. Remnants of Bilbao’s shipping history line the central river, which acts as a natural division between the city’s historic hillside and its newly formed modern life.

The city’s division is personified by it’s uncontested crown jewel, the Gehry designed, Guggenheim museum which takes prize position upon the river’s banks in an almost directly opposite position to the original town hall.

Lonely Planet intro aside there is but one reason for someone to visit Bilbao and in case you hadn’t guessed already it’s for the giant-fuck-off-metal-distortion that is Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim. Old Gehry is one of my favourite architects and his work is admired by around the world. The last piece of his I visited was the Toronto art museum which opened whilst I was living there a couple of years ago and for anyone even remotely interested I highly suggest you watch one of Sidney Pollack’s last pieces of work, “Sketches of Frank Gehry”, a documentary of Gehry’s work.

There was another reason, beyond man-love, for me to see the Guggenheim; which is that simply I’ve never seen one… well not properly anyway. Each time (and it’s been three now) that I have been to visit the Lloyd Wright designed Guggenheim in New York I’ve been greeted with no more than a scaffolding clad structure obscuring any chance of appreciating it’s external facade first hand.

So what if it meant an hour long flight to the complete opposite side of Spain that I had flown in to, to a place most people had never heard of, I was doing it (and I’d checked there was no scaffolding on this one).

Excluding a hail ridden thunder storm and hideous grey skies that consistently haunted each photograph this Guggenheim reconnaissance mission was a success. I suppose. I could have sat and stared at the building for hours (should the weather have allowed it), its contents and exhibiting pieces bored me to tears, mostly, but I got what I came for.

As for Bilbao, well if you Google “things to do in Bilbao” every list I came across basically had the museum at number one and then quickly turned in to a random list of bars and cafes. It has a nice shopping mall that seems nice but never has anyone in it and they’re building a giant sky-scraper that sticks out a bit.

Yeah. Unless you’re an architecture or art buff I can’t recommend this one, but if I was ever nearby again I’d be back to Bilbao in a heart beat.

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Canon EOS Photo5 Entry 5: “Beware of falling lemons”

October 22nd, 2010 by Raj

What is Canon EOS Photo5?
EOS Photo5 is Canon’s annual creative photography competition that begins with a brown box. Inside there are 5 separate photographic briefs to challenge photographers. Visit the Photo5 website here: http://canon.com.au/worldofeos/photo5/

Brief 5: Inspired by Sound
This brief is about your creative interpretation of a sound. The task is to listen to the sound bite at the link below, and create a photo inspired by it – using any technique you want.
Sound bite link.

My Entry
The first thing that popped in to my head when I heard the sound for Brief 5 was the old Road Runner cartoons. I kept seeing Wile E Coyote falling off a cliff for what seemed an eternity before finally hearing a tiny “poof” as he hit the ground. The sound from Canon however didn’t end with that final thud and for that reason I wanted to capture an object falling but not actually at the point where it’d hit the ground like an egg broken on the ground.

My original concept did however involve eggs; my lounge room was again transformed, newspaper covered the floor beneath an old outdoor table, light stands either side focusing on an area above the table through which I could drop eggs and remotely trigger the camera & flashes. It worked pretty well I could capture the egg mid fall but it didn’t really look like anything was happening, I could’ve just taken a photo of an egg sitting on a table and you’d have the same photo.

It wasn’t until a drunken conversation with a workmate that evening (and half a dozen broken eggs) that I ended up with the idea of a toy riding an egg to the ground cowboy style and capturing it mid flight. Again the frozen image had no point of reference, not to mention the figurines I had handy didn’t bend too much and it looked more like they were laying an egg than riding it.

I decided to use the toy as a focal point and provide reference for something actually falling, more importantly I purposely dialled back the lights and shutter to capture some movement. The blur of the lemon (I’d run out of eggs) as it fell conveyed the sound more meaningfully to me, again the frozen image looking like some weird set shot of a toy and a lemon with no obvious meaning. Lastly having the table visible ever so slightly was again on purpose and served to again reinforce the object falling to an inevitable end.

Equipment used & settings
Canon 7D with 15-85 kit lens
ISO 100, 50mm, 1/320, f22
Bowens Gemini 500 with Soft Box attachment
Bowens Gemini 500 with Umbrella
1 toy figurine
1 lemon

View the other entries

“Ink Mole”

“Bubble Gum Hair”

“A Tree of Smoke”

“Confetti Explosion”

“Beware of falling lemons”
Filed under Photography having 3 Comments »

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Canon EOS Photo5 Entry 4: “A Confetti Explosion”

October 21st, 2010 by Raj

What is Canon EOS Photo5?
EOS Photo5 is Canon’s annual creative photography competition that begins with a brown box. Inside there are 5 separate photographic briefs to challenge photographers. Visit the Photo5 website here: http://canon.com.au/worldofeos/photo5/

Brief 4: Confetti
This brief is a bit of a celebration. Your task is to capture the confetti in motion. you can use the confetti we’ve included or any kind you want. If you need more add as much as you want. It’s about motion, so your image must convey a sense of movement.

My Entry
For this brief I wanted to capture a confetti filled balloon popping, freezing the balloon & it’s compacted confetti explosion in time. It sounded so simple and straight forward I really didn’t come up with any other real concepts but when it came time to shoot it, well lets just say it was somewhat of a nightmare.

To begin with getting old school tissue paper confetti is not easy to buy anymore! Sure Canon provided a tiny amount and party stores everywhere store the now favoured foil confetti junk cut into shapes for particular occasions like “21” or birthday cakes but after a four day search I finally found some boxes at the Vic Markets.

Next hurdle; getting the confetti inside the balloons. It’s harder than you think and unbelievably annoying! Had I owned a funnel things may have been slightly easier but in the end I spent over two hours using a teaspoon and my fingers to stuff large hand-fulls into about 30 balloons one hungover Sunday morning. It wasn’t pleasant.

Lastly and most importantly I had (which I didn’t even think about before) the issue of capturing everything at exactly the right moment. A triggered flash whilst perfect for freezing time because of it’s concentrated sharp light proved useless as its recycle time was too slow, the camera had to be using its high speed drive so I could take at least 8 photos a second and the flash would only light the first. I ended up using an array of desk lamps kitted out with massively bright white bulbs (5500 Kelvin) position less than 5cm away from the balloon that I’d hung from my ceiling with a piece of string. I had to use a prime 50mm lens so that I could open up the aperture more then normal to let more light in allowing me to use a fast shutter speed (1/2500 second) to freeze everything and even then I had to raise the ISO up to 800 which is why things are a little grainy in the shot.

All that was left to do was to pop the balloon, hold down the trigger and hope for the best but then how was I supposed to pop the balloon without being in the shot myself?? For what I wanted to capture my hand was always going to be in the shot so I ended up sitting next the camera (on a tripod) and throwing pins at the balloon whilst at the same time pressing the trigger to fire the camera. Sound nuts? It was!

I fired more than 450 shots that night, sometimes the balloon wouldn’t pop, the pin would bounce straight off! Others I’d have 8 shot of a pin flying towards a balloon and the next there’d be nothing at all. The actual “popping” was over in less than 1/2500 of a second that I could use without jeopardising image quality any more so I just kept on going, balloon after balloon after balloon. 35 balloons later I ended up with this one. The confetti is balled up barely moved from where it was laying inside the balloon, fragments of the balloon are hitting the wall and the string attached to the mouth of the balloon is swinging out of picture at the top.

I’ve had a few people ask why I’ve included the confetti covered floor in the picture rather than keeping things on a plain coloured background. The answer is that without it a lot of people had no idea that a balloon was involved at all, the pieces of the balloons popped prior litter my lounge room floor and I think it adds to the story behind the image.

Equipment used & settings
Canon 7D with 50mm lens
ISO 800, 50mm, 1/2500, f2.2
4 x Desk lamps with 30W 5500K bulbs
1 bag of coloured balloons
3 x boxes paper confetti (very hard to find I might add)
String

View the other entries

“Ink Mole”

“Bubble Gum Hair”

“A Tree of Smoke”

“Confetti Explosion”

“Beware of falling lemons”
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Canon EOS Photo5 Entry 3: “A Tree of Smoke”

October 20th, 2010 by Raj

What is Canon EOS Photo5?
EOS Photo5 is Canon’s annual creative photography competition that begins with a brown box. Inside there are 5 separate photographic briefs to challenge photographers. Visit the Photo5 website here: http://canon.com.au/worldofeos/photo5/

Brief 3: Incense
This is a moody brief. Use smoke from the incense to create ambience and atmosphere in a black and white photo. It’s not just about shooting smoke, but capturing the essence of black and white photography in a dramatic way.

My Entry
I was pretty excited about this brief, it was only recently that I’d played around with some smoke photography because I was interested in it so it was relatively fresh in my mind how to go about setting things up and what I could expect. This time around though I went a little further securing an external flash (a Canon 580EX II) that I borrowed from a friend which I snooted with a cut up piece of cardboard that would ensure I had no light spilling and save any post work cleaning up the images.

I pretty much knew exactly what I wanted to achieve with this shot before any of the others. The concept was to capture a pair of dark or grimy hands interacting with a plume of smoke in an interesting way. In what configuration I wasn’t exactly sure, you’re somewhat left to the whim of the smoke’s desires in most ways but the general idea was to capture something rather mystical looking.

Firstly I focused on getting my hands the way I wanted them, setting up the two lamps as modelling lights, one directly below facing up, the other off to one side angled down into my palms gave me the desired effect of them emerging from nowhere. To ensure you couldn’t see my arms or body I cut a couple of holes in an old black bed sheet to poke my hands through and wore it like a poncho for the 4 hours I took photos. To make my hands look all grimy I bathed them in a watered down drawing ink that settled in the lines of my skin extremely well.

The smoke was relatively straight forward, the snooted flash sat to one side and fired directly across my poncho covered self while the incense stick(s) burning away below the sweet spot for my hands. The problem I had though was the flash over powering the modelling lamps on my hands and completely blowing them out. I had to bulldog clip pieces of cardboard to my poncho to sit almost on top of my hands sheltering them from the flash.

Leaving the camera tethered to my laptop set to remotely fire every 10 seconds all I had to do then was set up different poses and let the smoke do its thing, replacing the incense sticks as they burnt out. Slightly singeing myself a handful of times I continued to have issues with blowout from the flash and ended up almost separating the two elements of the shot completely and doing a small amount of post work bringing the two together. It was nigh on impossible to get the shot any other way.

To me it looks like the old Landcare logo, a pair of well gardened hands holding a seedling or a tree. Entirely up to your own interpretation though, that’s the beauty of smoke photography.

Equipment used & settings
Canon 7D with 18-55mm lens
ISO 200, 50mm, 1/250, f22
580EX II Flash & 3.5m PC Sync lead
2 x Desk lamps with 30W 5500K bulbs
1 sheet of black cardboard cut to snoot flash
1 sheet of black cardboard to absorb flash over hands
5 x Incense sticks
1 black bed-sheet

View the other entries

“Ink Mole”

“Bubble Gum Hair”

“A Tree of Smoke”

“Confetti Explosion”

“Beware of falling lemons”
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Canon EOS Photo5 Entry 2: “Bubble Gum Hair”

October 19th, 2010 by Raj

What is Canon EOS Photo5?
EOS Photo5 is Canon’s annual creative photography competition that begins with a brown box. Inside there are 5 separate photographic briefs to challenge photographers. Visit the Photo5 website here: http://canon.com.au/worldofeos/photo5/

Brief 2: Bubble Gum
This brief has one rule: feature bubble gum in a portrait. How you or your subject use the bubble gum is up to you. If you need more gum, visit your friendly local convenience store.

My Entry
When reading the brief for this shot there was one thing that stood out in the “Judges Notes” that kept grabbing my attention…
Consider how the light interacts with your subject and try to tell a story. I kept hearing that over and over again as I planned my shot throwing away the countless ideas of bubbles being blown and popped. To me they took away from the portrait and while I may be able to convey my friend’s bubbly nature there didn’t seem to be any story behind it.

It wasn’t until I was shaving one day when I had the idea of the horror stories you’d hear as a kid where someone got bubble gum stuck in their hair and had no option but to cut it out. A quick ring around of mates who normal shave or clip their hair left me empty handed as they’d all recently cut their hair not to mention none were to keen to let me squish bubble gum in for real.

Thankfully another opportunity presented itself with me getting around the issue by buying a rather cheap (and awful) wig from the local party shop and mooshing the brightest coloured goo of a bubble gum I could find into its wiry strands. I took quite a few shots of Caitlin cutting the gum free and the resultant hacked portion but none showed the emotion of the situation better than this. Her eyes and check red (most likely from chewing so much gum all afternoon for other shots that didn’t make it), the dimpled chin and quivering lip it all worked out really well.

Lighting wise I’m making use of a Bowens Gemini 500/500 kit with a soft box attached to one to soften her skin and umbrella on the other to evenly light the scene and make the colours pop.

Equipment used & settings
Canon 7D with 18-55mm lens, soft filter
ISO 200, 50mm, 1/250, f22
Bowens Gemini 500 with Soft Box attachment
Bowens Gemini 500 with Umbrella
White cardboard reflector
2 packets of Hubba Bubba bubble gum
Cheap wig from local costume shop
A pair of scissors

Thanks to
Caitlin, my model, for chewing countless pieces of gum and being a good sport.

View the other entries

“Ink Mole”

“Bubble Gum Hair”

“A Tree of Smoke”

“Confetti Explosion”

“Beware of falling lemons”
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Canon EOS Photo5 Entry 1: “Ink Mole”

October 18th, 2010 by Raj

What is Canon EOS Photo5?
EOS Photo5 is Canon’s annual creative photography competition that begins with a brown box. Inside there are 5 separate photographic briefs to challenge photographers. Visit the Photo5 website here: http://canon.com.au/worldofeos/photo5/

Brief 1: Eye Dropper
This brief is asking you to use your lens to look closer. Use the eye dropper to place drops of liquid in any arrangement you want. You can use a single drop, or as many drops as you like. And you’re not limited to just water – feel free to use liquids of different colours and consistencies, such as milk or tomato soup.

My Entry
Originally when I read the brief I’d envisioned these glorious shots of colours reflecting in droplets of water on a reflected surface like a mirror or draping from a blade of grass but alas my little kit lens didn’t quite seem to be up the ‘macro’ focusing fantasies I’d concocted. Instead I chose to think of more unusual or creative ways to depict a drop of liquid and what imagery I could create using the drop as a part of it. I’m not particularly sure how or when but at some point I had the brainwave of creating a mole on someone’s face ala Marilyn Monroe or Cindy Crawford, using their iconic imagery as a basis for the shot.

The biggest problem I had was trying to figure out a liquid that was black enough and thick enough to stay in one spot on a friend’s face. Originally I’d planned on using an oil based black paint but it didn’t have the same reflective properties a drop of water did and water based paints were too watery, the liquid too see-through. Eventually I ended up using old school black ink mixed with cornflower (thank you year seven science) to create the perfect drop that was both shinny and robust consistency.

I enlisted the help of a very understanding friend to model for me who had beautiful milky white skin that showed off the “ink mole” perfectly. Her face was lit by a soft box and lamp and a borrowed to soften the shot and add a warm angelic glow. I’m extremely happy with how it turned out and whilst it’s not a “macro” shot in the sense I think I’ve done pretty well in creating the shot with the tools available.

Equipment used & settings
Canon 7D with 18-55mm lens, soft filter
ISO 200, 50mm, 1/250, f22
Bowens Gemini 500 with Soft Box attachment
White cardboard reflector
Black ink mixed with “Black & Gold” cornflower

Thanks to
Caitlin, my model, for being extremely patient and willing to have ink on her face.
The dude at Deans Art in Melbourne for walking me through every “black liquid” they had for sale.

View the other entries

“Ink Mole”

“Bubble Gum Hair”

“A Tree of Smoke”

“Confetti Explosion”

“Beware of falling lemons”
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Experiments in smoke photography: “The Elephant & the Seahorse”

April 5th, 2010 by Raj

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rdeut/4491584345/

It has been a fair while since I’ve done anything even slightly creative but this Easter long weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to explore an area of photography that I’ve always found so beautiful in smoke photography. A few google searches later and I had a vague idea of where I should start, I already had a couple of 1000W photo-lamps, black backdrop what I didn’t have that would no doubt have improved the shots some more was a remote flash, something I wasn’t about to drop a few hundred bucks on just for experimenting.

Three incense sticks and 100 shots later the above is a combination of my two favourite shots. I spent a good couple of hours just flicking through the unpolished shots picking out shapes and symbols in some sort of cloud-like game. If Elephants & Seahorses aren’t your game (and what a killer name for an English pub BTW), there are a couple more interesting shots below.


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Photos from the Hockey Championship Trophy, Melbourne 2009

December 11th, 2009 by Raj

Last weekend Melbourne played host to the Championship Trophy. The international men’s hockey tournament consisted of the world’s top six teams including Australia, Germany, & The Netherlands. To be honest I had no idea that it was even on until a friend from Adelaide rang to say he and his hockey club team mates were flying over for it and I managed to grab a ticket from them. I’m glad I went, I really miss playing and for the two days I was there I had a great time.

On the photography front I think I took nearly 200 hundred photos from the crowd, a lot of them useless but some of them pretty fun and catching a bit of action. The fruits of my labour are viewable in the slideshow below. Unfortunately taking photos like this at a sports event only makes me want to go out and buy some ridiculous zoom telephoto lens rather than using a stock standard 250mm lens that came with my DSLR.

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