Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Lake Macquarie from Speers Point Bluff

Hi everyone!  Today I finally did something I have wanted to do for quite a while now!  Every time I drove along The Esplanade on the shores of Lake Macquarie, the bluff at Speers Point has beckoned to me to get up there and get some panoramas of the beautiful lake from up on high.  

I hadn't actually planned on doing this today..... it was going to be a stay at home and garden/housework type day.  When Kim told me that she was hitting the shops with our daughter Rhiannan, I took full advantage of the beautiful sunny cloudless day. 

I drove around for a little while, trying to find a street where there is access to walking paths that lead up to the bluff.  I tried Quarry Road where there is an entrance into the reserve that winds up to the left.  I found a track up the hill and stopped to get my first photos.  I then proceeded to follow a 'track' that went uphill but the rock was soft and crumbly and, covered in leaf litter.  I didn't want to risk a slip (I was actually more worried about damaging my camera if I did!) and so I abandoned that way up.

I drove around the higher streets looking for a path in.  After about 10 minutes, I parked the car in Farm Road where there is an access point to the Speers Point Reserve.  One of the locals confirmed that there were bush trails that would take me up to the top of the bluff.  Following the winding path through some lovely rainforest and bush, I finally reached the ridge of the hill that took me to the lookout on the bluff. 

The view was fantastic; as you will see in these photos. It would be awesome to be up there for a sunrise shot but that would mean tramping along those bush paths in the darkness so I would need a good torch!  Looking west from the top of the bluff would also give some great sunset shots over Speers Point, Teralba and up to Mount Sugarloaf.

I also got some lovely photos of the ferns and trees that look very much like a rain forest on the way up and back.  I always shoot in RAW format and for these photos I increased the contrast and shadows but I decreased the clarity to give them a lovely soft look.  In PSE 11 I adjusted levels slightly and used the unsharp mask for a crisp clean edged look.  I think they have turned out wonderfully and this has given me more ideas for another Photo Safari down to the National Park at the Watagan Mountains on the Central Coast where I believe there are some great walks and waterfalls!

I hope you enjoy these!

Regards to All !


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Saturday, 8 June 2013

Pentax A3 Film Photography

Well, I have reverted to my roots and have returned to shooting film on a regular basis!


By now you will have seen some of the photos that I have taken with the Voigtlander Bessa 1 folding camera. Whilst I am still in the throws of taming that beast, I thought I may as well dust off my Pentax A3 35mm SLR and put a film through it also.

The Pentax A3 is not a fully manual SLR. It basically operates in AV mode and the programme sets the exposure time. It was a great way to learn about aperture when I first brought the camera, and now that I understand all of that stuff, it is still a great camera to use. It has a motor wind and ISO setting from 32 to 1600.  There is a 12 sec timer for the selfies as well!!

The camera uses K-Mount lenses of which I have 2. The first is a Sigma Zoom Master 35-70  f2.8-22. It also has a auto aperture setting but I prefer on both lenses to set my own aperture.  The second is a Pentax-A SMC 70-210 zoom  f4-32 also with auto aperture option.

The only problem I am having with the camera is the lack of an adjustable diopter. I am a 'little' older now and the eyesight just aint what it used to be! I need to wear my reading glasses to use the split focus ring on the Pentax but what I need to get is a rubber eyepiece that my glasses can sit flush against whilst I am focusing. I will have to search around because I am sure that there will be an adjustable diopter fitting on the web somewhere.

I don't have a dark room for the development of my film and so I rely upon the expert knowledge of Les Porter Photo Services to develop the film and then I have the negatives scanned at Pro-Am Colour Labs. I can see the day when I will have my own negative scanner and the thought of my own dark room has a big appeal also.

When I first started looking at the scanned negative files on the computer, I was a little disappointed at first. They seemed to lack contrast and the crisp tones that I was used to seeing when the negatives were printed. It has since been explained to me that, in the same way as prints are done in the darkroom, scanned negative files need to have levels adjusted digitally to bring out the contrast and tones. I have limited myself in my 'digital darkroom' therefore, to only those actions which are equivalent to dark room actions. Adjusting the sliders so they align with the edges of the histogram for the correct light levels, slight adjustments to contrast, the use of the burn and dodge tools, the unsharp mask and sharpening tool and, vignetting . I find that I only need very minimal tweaking of the scanned image to get those lovely crisp tones of grey and light! Oh..... depending on how the negatives have been fed into the scanner, I also have to rotate vertically in some cases to correct the 'mirrored' version!

Another extra that I may have to invest in is a set of Cokin filters. The frame for these filters comes in a number of different sizes so I can use them on both my Canon 600D and the Pentax A3, although I have just discovered that the filters for my 58mm Canon lenses will fit my Pentax 70-210 zoom also! Bonus!

Using film cameras has returned me to that patient photographer that I once was; there is no room for error (although it does happen!) because that is one exposure wasted.  

I hope you have enjoyed this post as much as I have enjoyed putting it together!  If you want to keep track of what I get up to, you can follow me on this blog, add me to your circles in G+ or like my Facebook Photography Page.  

Regards to all