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Posts tagged ‘photography’

Weekend Wanderings – Collins Street, Melbourne

Last Sunday I had another Social Snappers Excursion and this time we explored the architecture along Collins Street in Melbourne.  Traditionally, or maybe historically, Collins Street was the business district of Melbourne, and to some extent it still is.  As you walk along it, you can see the shopping part, which is the east end and then as you cross over Swanston Street and Elizabeth Street you start to head into the more business end, the end with the big buildings, the ornate buildings, the ones that say money is here.


We started at the Spring Street end, where Parliament House and the Treasury Building is, and one of the first buildings we came across was ANZAC House.  For those that don’t know ANZAC refers to Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and here in Australia we remember what they did in the first world war and the second, mainly the first.  It is a terrible tale of waste of our soliders by the British in many respects, and was a time when countries like Britain didn’t think much of our soldiers and they were often sent where the British wouldn’t go.  I’m happy to say that that attitude did change.  I don’t know the whole story, but that is what I have been lead to believe.


In the first half there are also a few old churches and they have the architecture and smaller associated buildings as you would expect from older churches.  This is the Assembly Hall, and I think it is part of the Scots Church in Collins Street, one of my favourite churches.  I love the gothic style architecture, and I also love that the ties to the past have not been removed.


The corner of Collins Street and Elizabeth Street.  I thought it would be interesting to show you what our streets look like. I imagine not that much different to other parts of the world.


The entrance to the old Stock Exchange Building.  When gold was found in Australia in the mid 19th century Melbourne really benefited from it, since most of the gold was found in Victoria, Melbourne became one of the wealthiest cities in the world, and had to have the buildings to match.  Unfortunately not all the buildings remain, and there are photos of some really amazing buildings that have since been torn down to make room for out massive impersonal, ugly skyscrapers, where the developers are more interested in building the tallest buildings without much concern about how horrible they are.  It is sad to see that craftsmanship, like in this building is gone and we most likely will never see buildings like this being built ever again.  I love the detail.


This is right down the other end, and our journey was almost over.  A new building going up and by looking at it, the most interesting thing about it the reflection of the buildings in it.

It was a great excursion, we walked all along it, we went from sunshine to overcast, from being warm to being cold.  We stopped at the Lindt shop for afternoon tea, and chatted about photography, and some other things. It was a great afternoon, I really enjoyed myself and the other ladies did as well.  I have more photos to show you know, so will put them into a gallery for you.  I hope your weekend is going well.



Weekend Wandering – Abbotsford Convent

On Thursday was another Social Snappers excursion, this time we went to Abbotsford Convent, an old place that was once the home of the nuns that belonged to the Order of the Good Shepherd. It is quite an amazing place.  The nuns sold it in 1975, and today it is more an art precinct, with many artists having studios there.  It is nice to have a place that you can just wander around.


The buildings are much what you would expect a convent to be.  They are large, but they aren’t grand.  Of course they are beautiful, but they don’t have the ornate details that buildings of this size would often have.


“If the walls could talk?” It must have been an incredible place at one time.  It is a very busy place now.


There are some amazing out buildings, and if you are going to go there, then you have to walk around the outbuildings as well.  This one is quite popular and a lot of people have their wedding photos taken in front of this one.


I had been there before, but not for many years.  The last time I was there to take photos I was using a compact camera and the photos I got were not very good.  I am much happier with the images I got this week.  I also don’t remember how the gardens were, which could just mean that I didn’t pay attention.  This time we were pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful garden and many flowers blooming in them.


We chased this butterfly around everywhere.  It didn’t stay still for long. We finally got it on a plant and it just stayed for a while. I got out the Tamron 90mm macro lens and had fun taking photos of the flowers in the garden.  I really do enjoy using the macro lens.

I have a gallery of images for you now. We had a great time at Abbotsford Convent, and I could happily go back there another time. I would like to explore the inside more, the public spaces.  I love buildings with lots of history.  I am going to have to go and do some research now.

On a side note, before the gallery, my daughter got her license yesterday.  She said she will still go out with me to take photos, I hope she does.  We need to plan another trip.  What are you planning this weekend?



Up for Discussion – Using Extension Tubes

On this blog I have noticed how many of you seem to enjoy macro photography, me among them.  I don’t have a macro lens and it was frustrating me quite a bit, and then Ben, from APERTURE64, suggested I get some extension tubes.  He told me how I could use them with my 50mm lens.  So I did and they have been fantastic.  I also like, now that I have the loan Tamron 90mm Macro lens, I can also use the tubes on it as well.  I asked Ben if he would write a post on using them for us.  

What is an Extension tube?

Extension tubes are a tube that goes between your camera and lens, at present extension tubes are available for DSLRs with full frame and cropped sensors. An extension is a tube placed between the lens and camera reducing the minimum focus distances of the lens, enabling you to get closer to your subject. As you move closer to the subject the bigger it becomes.

Orb Weaver Macro-3489

There are many companies that make extension tubes, when buying you really get what you pay for. The more you spend the better the build, which means it is less likely to cause problems with your camera and lens (eg lenses getting stuck or even tubes getting stuck to cameras, it can happen).

There are two types of extension tubes, those with electronic connections, and those without. Electronic connections are important as they allow you to change the aperture of your lens as well as use auto focus. Non-connector tubes won’t let the camera talk to the lens, leaving you unable to change the aperture while the lens is connected to the tube as well as not being able to use the auto focus. The non-connector type will be fine with older lenses with manual focus and aperture ring.


One element of extension tubes that seems illogical is that; the smaller the lens (shorter focal length) the closer you can get to a subject. An 18mm lens will let you get closer than a 100mm lens. Although zoom lenses are great, I tend to use prime lenses as they create sharper images and are lighter. If you attach a heavy lens to a long extension tube, if the lens is not supported this could cause damage to the camera.

How to use

Using an extension tube is just the same as a normal lens. I use Polaroid tubes that came in a set of three; 13mm, 21mm and 31mm. These three tubes can be mixed and matched with each other, with all three connected I have a 65mm extension tube. I add my lens to the tube/s and then attach everything to the camera.

Instagram Image.

I have found that although I can use auto focus on my lenses it doesn’t really focus and I always manually focus with my lens. The inability to focus is because the AF system doesn’t have enough light to focus with. I manually focus the lens to infinity and move close to the subject until it is sharp.  I am usually seen swaying in and out as I take macro shots with my extension tubes, as the area of focus is really slight sometimes a matter of a mm.

Depth of field of the lens is extremely narrow compared to the lens by itself. I prefer to use the sharpest aperture so that the details I capture are sharp instead of having a larger area in focus which is not as sharp. Also as you get closer to a subject the less light there is, using the smallest aperture may not be possible.

Instagram Image 2

I favour the use of a tripod although there are times when that isn’t possible. When using a tripod I use the LCD screen, not the view finder to compose and focus my image, as I can magnify the area I am focusing on to make sure that it is sharp.

Into The Mouth Of the Dragon

Some issues and photo hacks

Extension tubes mean longer exposure times because there is less light reaching the sensor. Without a tripod the rule of thumb for the minimum shutter speed for sharp images is, no slower than the focal length of the lens. Attaching all my tubes and my lens equals an exposure faster than 1/100. As I said early it is not possible to use your tripod all the time, I have found this especially true when photographing insects and bugs. The only way increase shutter speed is to raise the ISO or use a larger aperture. In Raising the ISO you are adding more noise to an image resulting in a lower image quality and using larger aperture would result in a smaller depth of field.

Another option is to use flash. When using flash you want to have even defused light, nothing too harsh as this will create contrast in the image. An expensive option is to buy a ring flash which is attached to the end of your lens. A cheaper photo hack is to use a Pringles tube and some tracing paper.

I call it a flash extender; I eat the Pringles (the fun part) and then cut a square hole on the bottom side of the tub, I then tape tracing paper over the hole. I place this on my flash and securing with tape and then photograph. If it gets battered and damaged eat some more Pringles and start again.

Lady Bird Red 2

When it comes to photographing insects the major drawback is the lack of auto focus and the need to move in and out to take the shots, this with the need to get quite close to the insects as well has a habit of to making them more skittish. One option is to carry sugar water and place a drop for the insect to feed on giving you some time to take the shot.

Other uses

Abstract Macro

Extension tubes are not only for Macro photography they can also be used to dramatically decrease the depth of field, great for portraits and standard still life pictures. Also if used creatively can be great for creating abstract pictures with a large aperture.

Tulip Red and Yellow-0903

Extension tubes are a good cheap alternative to a Macro lens but I will admit once you start to get into Macro photography you will crave to move on from them and buy a macro lens. This doesn’t mean that the tubes are then a waste of money as they can be used with a macro lens to get you even closer.

wordless wednesday Macro Landscape


Thank you Ben, great explanation of what they are and how to use them.  I hope you will all thank Ben.  He is going to answer comments, so if you have any questions, please ask.  If you would like to see more of his work please visit his blog, APERTURE64.  I am going to put the images from the post and a couple of others that Ben sent in a gallery for you now.

Quiet Thursday’s – The Night Sky

Last time I was up at the Mallee, you know I took photos around Lake Albacutya, but I also got to go to Jonesy’s camp and do some night photography of the milky way from there.  It was a beautiful clear night and the burnt trees from the bushfires in January made great foreground interest.

I don’t want to talk too much today, I have a Social Snappers event this afternoon, which looks like is going to be great, the weather could be perfect for it.  So today I am going to leave you with the following gallery.

MM34 – Monochrome Madness 34

Here we go again, Monochrome Madness 34.  Quite a few of you have been talking about how fast it comes around each week and I have to say, I agree.  I feel like I have just recovered from the previous week and then I have to start thinking about the next week.  I never know what image I will do until it is done.


I took this image on Monday morning when I was taking photos at Marysville with a friend.  We had planned on photographing something else, but we didn’t think much of it, so in the end we decided to go to Marysville and take some photos of Steavensons Falls.  The last time I went there the sun was shining on it, but this time it was earlier in the morning and it was much better to take photos of. I have written a post on it over at my other blog.


Laura Macky has sent in her image for MM34, and if you want to find out some more information on it, then please go to her blog, Laura Macky.

Don’t forget all the instructions on how to enter your own images are at the bottom of the post.  If you have entered an image then please remember to check your image in the gallery, scroll down and see if anyone has left you any comments.

Now, if you wish to participate and submit an image here is how you do it:-

  • You must email me the image you want to include and if you have a blog or website, or somewhere else, please include the link. My email address is
  • The image size should be low res, so the largest side should be 1000 pixels or less.
  • Please insert either your name or your blogs name in the file name.
  • Remember I am on Australian time, so with GMT I am +11 hours at the moment, I publish my post on Wednesday morning.
  • If you need more help with sending images, and get confused about time zones, etc, well, there is a great website called The World Clock, if you go to that and look at Melbourne time, if it’s before 6pm on Tuesday evening, then you can still send me images.  If it’s after that time, you can send me an image, but it will be set aside for the following week.
  • Remember to include a link to your blog or website.
  • Please remember to resize your images, it is fairly simply, you just need to go into any editing software and usually under Image you will find, resize, scale, or image size, something like that and you can resize your image there. Change the dimensions to pixels and make the longest side 1000 pixels or smaller, hit return, and for most types of software that should change the other side automatically as well. Just remember to save it with a different name so you know it is the smaller version.  If you have any problems, please contact me, I don’t mind helping out.

Please note you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger to be in this challenge, you can have a link to a Facebook page, a Flickr page, anywhere really, or no link.  We just want to encourage people to do monochrome images, just for the madness of it. Just to let you know also, that as soon as the challenge is published, all emails and images you have sent me are deleted from my computer.  I respect your copyright and would never keep any of the images.

Tuesday’s Bits and Bobs – Cokin Z Series Filters

Last week I told you that I thought the Cokin filters would have to go back and I hadn’t really had much chance to use them. Well I was given an opportunity to explore them some more and I’ve been trying to make the most of it.  I’ve been out a few times to see what I can do with them.  I suppose that is the wonderful thing about digital, it does make experimenting a lot easier.

In the kit that was sent to me, I got a 77mm adaptor ring for my lens, the Z-Series bracket, and 3 graduated filters.  I was lent the ND2, the Tobacco and a Blue filter, it is all part of a kit that you can purchase.

Graduated filters, for those that don’t know, are where the filter starts at the top and the colour goes down and then fades to clear. The coloured part covers about 2/3 of the filter, which measures 10cm to 15cm.  The advantage of that is that you can then use the filter as a graduated filter, or you can use the end as a filter that will cover your whole lens.  So I have been experimenting with both.


Stacking 3 Cokin filters, the ND2, the Tobacco and the blue filter. All Graduated filters

I found the adapter ring and bracket easy to use and didn’t have any trouble with them.  I had heard that the little things that stick out make it hard to use some filters because they wouldn’t go down, but I just pushed them back, which also made it fit more snugly on the adapter ring.  I actually found myself using it a lot, which surprised me.  I would fit it to the camera and just carry the filters I wanted to use in my pocket.

I tried to see what would happen if I stacked all three filters in the kit with the above image.  So it is an exposure with all three.

One of the things I found hard, at first, was using them as graduated filters, the filters are subtle and I couldn’t tell the difference from the clear part to the filter part, but with practice I got better at it.  The above two images show the difference between no filter and the graduated ND filter.  I was surprised at how dark the foreground was without the filter, but how with the filter it would leave it looking lighter.  I tried to get the ND2 on the sky and not the foreground.

These two were done the same way.  The filter has made the clouds more like the colour you would expect as well.

I tried using my ND400 to see if I could get smooth water, and then thought what if I stacked the ND2 on it as well.  I was told years ago that you shouldn’t stack ND filters, but then the guy I have been talking to at  Maxwell International Australia suggested I do that, so I did it with the second image.  The first image was a 10 second image, and the second a 15 second, so it gave me more time to achieve what I wanted to do.

I did the same here, using the ND400, but this time the first image was 15 seconds and then I added the ND2 and I got a 30 second exposure.  I know the differences are subtle and you really have to look carefully at them to see the differences, but they are there.  I was surprised at easy it was to stack them and the results.

I took these yesterday at Marysville. The first image is a close up the water without the filter, and the second is with it.  Again a subtle change, but the second was double the time of the first, so the water is more blurred.

I also want to add that all of these images, well the pairs, have been processed the same.  They were processed in Lightroom and then the second image was synced with the first so that the only difference between them was the filter, and some slight variations in composition.  The idea was to show how different the filters were.

One of the purposes of using the filter system was to see if it would remove the vignetting I was getting with my other Cokin Series, the P series, and I am happy to say that there was none of it.  I found it easy to use, and the covers for the filters were great to just slip into the camera bag or your pocket.  I don’t know that I would get the filters that came with this particular kit.  I think I would possibly go for the ND series more, so I would get the ND2, the ND4 and the ND8.  I do like the idea of the graduated filters and the options they give you, you do get more.

I am not sure when they are going back, but I really hope to get down to the beach for a chance to try them out some more.  It would be good to try some of those slow motion images I’ve been trying to do with the filters, see what I get.  I am hoping to get down this week.

I know this hasn’t been a typical bits and bobs post, but I already told you my big news and really this is what I have been doing this last week, experimenting with the filters. I am going to put all the images into gallery, though all the pairs are also in smaller galleries.  I hope you have lots of experimenting happening where you are.

Introductions – MyGuiltyPleasures

When I think of the blog of today’s Introduction, I always think of spring.  I don’t know why and I wonder if you will find the same thing when you go to her blog.  Today I would like to introduce you to Viveka, and her blog MyGuiltyPleasures. I have known Viveka for quite a while now, I don’t know exactly how long, but it has been at least a couple of years. She loves traveling and though she is based in Landskrona, South West Sweden, though she doesn’t seem to stay there a lot.  I always love seeing where she has been and what she is up too.


There are lots of flowers on her blog, and I think it is something that she must love doing.  I like the way she looks at things and takes photos of them.

Why do you take photos? For me is more about test if my imagination and eye see the same object and view the same way.

How long have you been taking photos for? Since 1991 – with a break of 6 years.


She likes to experiment with her photography and try lots of things.  It amazes me sometimes what she comes up and I think it is really obvious that she loves taking photos.

What is your inspiration? Other photographers and postcards/cards.


Photos from her travels also play a big part on her blog and there are often photos of where she has been.  I think she might like travelling as much as she likes taking photos.  She seems to be on the move all the time.

Is there anything special about the way you work? I’m just a happy amateur. I like to take photos from an ant’s view – down on grass level and i take a lot of images on angle. I also try to capture the beautiful in a little more rough object and environment.


Viveka is also a generous person with her time and I’ve always enjoyed her visits to my blog when she can.  We have communicated by email and I am hoping she may make the long journey here so we can meet in person one day.

What gear do you use? Canon Powershot SX50HS & Canon PowerShot SX100IS

I love it when I can feature someone who loves photography and doesn’t feel the need to use a DSLR, is just happy with a camera like that.

I hope you will visit Viveka’s blog, MyGuiltyPleasures, and say hello.  I would also like to thank her for allowing me to showcase her work here, thanks Viveka.  I have a gallery now of some of the images that I really like from her blog.


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