Any takers for a trip to South Australia?

I have signed up for a four-day photographic workshop at Boolcoomatta Reserve, which is a Bush Heritage Australia property.  The workshop is run by Boris Hlavica and costs $500.  It involves bringing your own food, drinks, bedding and towels and staying in twin-share shearing quarters with shared bathrooms and toilets.  I have several seats available in my Subaru Outback station wagon.  It is around 12 hours drive, two days for one person, perhaps one day with driver rotation.  There could also be a day in nearby Broken Hill and environs.

Please contact me if you may be interested, either by email or with a comment to this post.


New Nikon 300mm f4 lens

(News from the Ether)

Nikon have just announced a remarkable new lens to replace the 300mm f4D.  The old lens had a reputation for excellent image quality.  The new one also has vibration reduction (VR), is half the weight and is two thirds the length of the old lens, while retaining the same filter size (77mm).  Judging by the official MTF charts, the image quality is also significantly improved.  (Image samples).

While it won’t attain the subject isolation of the approx $6,000 300mm f2.8, it is a quarter the weight of that lens and half the length.  Initial price is $US2,000 so probably about $A2,5000.  This is about what the 300mm f4D would have cost when new.

Purchasing the new lens will be attractive to some Nikon shooters; for others it will be purchasing the old model at a cheap price.  The 300mm f4 is currently down to $US1,000 in B&H and while it’s not yet on EBay any cheaper than that, second-hand prices will soon be falling fast, probably especially after the new lens starts shipping and buyers sell their old lens.

It’s also interesting to speculate what this may lead to.  If Nikon can halve the weight of the 300mm f4 while including VR, what other lenses will they apply this approach to?  Are they intending to introduce a new compact lens lineup before introducing a mirrorless full-frame body?

Preparing to Travel

A version of this post appeared in Capital Image a few issues ago. This is the original version from my blog – Murray Foote

Murray Foote


DSCF0477-3-Edit Ceiling and chandelier, Jama Masjid, Delhi


I adapted this post from an article I recently wrote for the Canberra Photographic Society. It draws on my travel experiences over the last few years and includes some monochrome versions of my images from India.  The main focus is travel with photography in mind.


DSCF0588-3-Edit Ceiling, Humayan’s Tomb


Of course what I’m talking about is what I have found useful for myself. Others will no doubt have different experiences, opinions and preferences.


DSCF9675-Edit Children on the street in Vrindavan


What to read beforehand

Since this was a pre-organised tour we didn’t have to arrange our own accommodation or transport inside India. For my first time in India this was a great advantage.  I purchased a couple of guide books and took them with me, however I found them largely a waste of time because we didn’t need to worry…

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How long will your shutter last?

(News from the Ether)

Nasim Mansurov has an interesting post in which he considers how long the shutter of a camera will last.  Your camera will have a specified number of clicks the manufacturer expects the shutter to last.  A reader asked him whether she should replace the shutter on her camera because it was approaching that point.  The short answer was No.  A shutter can fail at pretty well any time but for most cameras it is likely to last far longer than the manufacturer specifies,  longer than you will have the camera for most people.  Nasim also provides a link to a very interesting database by Oleg Kikin with data on shutter life expectancy for various cameras.

Steps to completing a long-term photography project

by Ian Marshall

There can be a lot of value in undertaking a long term photographic project. Recently I completed a research project for a Master of Visual Arts (Research) at the Australian National University. The project was a fresh look at the iconic Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme during its 65th year. These steps may help you to engage in a long term project as a way of further developing your photography. It is a different approach to trying to get that one photograph which wins competitions and makes you stand out. Along the way of a project you have an opportunity to explore a subject, but what you are really doing is exploring and defining your way of seeing.

  1. Choose a project which interests you and write down what it is that you are trying to say/do/achieve/discover.
  2. Do some preliminary research so that you can sketch out a plan of approach.
  3. Buy some new gear. Good, now that you have got that out of the way, can we concentrate on the photography?
  4. This is a creative project. Keep in mind that any creative exercise is playing. Playing is about discovery. Pick up your camera and go out to play.
  5. As this is a photography project, whenever you are uncertain about your progress, get out and make photographs. It is a sure antidote. Even if you take photographs which you don’t use – you have made progress because you have learnt what the project isn’t. That helps to clarify what the project is.
  6. Do a bit more research to see how other people have photographed the subject, some history about it, some insights from today.
  7. Unless you a doing a rephotography project – other photographs of the subject are just an aid. The project is about how you see the subject.
  8. Return to the subject. Make more photographs. Work on the photographs so that you see what you are achieving. Start to organise the keepers into files, folders, ratings etc.
  9. Repeat above steps, refining your initial statement, adjusting your plan according to what you have learned through photographic field trips.
  10. Did I say make more photographs?
  11. Collaborate. Seek advice of other people. You don’t have to do what they say – the advice can help you to decide what the project is not, or point out what it is that you have been doing with your photographs, what you have seen. You are getting closer to your vision of the subject.
  12. Start to think about how you final work will be presented. A book is different to an exhibition, is different to a slideshow, is different to an audio visual. This will help to focus your efforts on the type of photographs that you need and to determine what gaps you might have to fill.
  13. Make some more photographs. Have you finished yet?
  14. Start the editing, or choosing process. You know what you are doing by this stage. Choose more than you need, then put them into a slide show where you see them quickly and choose the keepers as they flick past. Or develop your own method.
  15. You will still have too many photographs. From all the work that you have done you might find that the photographs are ‘choosing themselves’.  You are finding out how you have seen the subject by choosing the keepers.
  16. The final choice will be how you put the photographs together for the final display. What theme or idea you are following. Is it logical, sequential, random, narrative, based on shape, colour, texture, light to dark, is it generational, relationships, chapters, linked to text, following contours of a landscape, alphabetical, numerical?
  17. Again there will be a process of choosing and putting together. This will involve leaving out some good, even great photographs. But instead of have just a couple of great photographs, you are going to have something of substance to be proud of. You also may have developed a confidence about how you make photographs. Not a bad result.

My final work was a photobook printed at A3 page size. The link below will take you to a preview.