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Photography and Friendship At Bruny Island

Bruny Island Lighthouse, Tasmania
Phase One XF 150MP, 55mm Schneider lens, f2.8 @ 1/2000 second, ISO 320

I'm not sure if friendship extends to a full bottle of Talisker, but as I saw the level in our bottle quickly diminish on the first night of four, I decided it had to!

While photography can be a lonely, individual pursuit, there are times when photographers come together. The AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) is one organisation that facilitates interaction, APS is another - and your local camera clubs as well. It's great to spend time with other photographers and over the years, I've developed strong friendships with many. I consider myself very fortunate to be involved with a number of informal groups, one of which congregated on Bruny Island a week or so ago.

Richard Bennett and better half Susie, who live on Bruny Island, sent out the invitations. Richard is a past president of the AIPP, as is his daughter Alice who paid us a visit. Other invitees were David Oliver (hence the Talisker), Phil Kuruvita (I think he drank most of the Talisker, followed closely by Richard - Phil is also a past president of the AIPP), Nuran Zorlu, Bruce Pottinger (who sold us most of our cameras) and Kevin Cooper (who represented Fujifilm for the past decade or more and is a keen photographer and balloonist). Ian van der Wolde was invited (also a past AIPP president), but sadly his Victorian premier wouldn't permit him to travel.

So, among such illustrious company, one wonders how I was invited!

In addition to much socialising, David suggested we do a print swap and this turned into a highlight of the weekend. While we have seen each other's work in the awards, books and advertising, there was so much more about us all as photographers we didn't know and we each gave a little talk about our prints. It was a wonderful afternoon and I have also added to my collection!

The reason for mentioning this is that many of us have informal friendships in photography. Assuming we're not in lock down, it's not too hard to organise three, four or a few more people to spend a weekend together - and talk about photography. If nothing else, it can be very inspiring.

And the photo? We did a little helicopter time around the very south of Bruny Island. I had visited this area many times, but never really understood how magical it was until I took to the air. Unfortunately, being a national park, you might not get permission to fly a drone there, although interestingly the Tasmanian government had lots of drone footage in an informational piece playing on a big screen at Hobart's airport!

Can You Shoot Mungo Under Starlight?

This photo is no longer possible for most of us. I’m sure National Parks would allow a National Geographic film crew in, but the average photographer will struggle to get this close to the eroding rock formations at Mungo, let alone stay there after sunset to photograph them with a backdrop of stars.

In fact, the average visitor will be kept well away from the rock formations. Access is with a guided tour only and I understand why. With so many visitors to Australia’s national parks, crowd control is needed if we’re not going to love them to death. Uluru has done it successfully, although some of its photography rules continue to perplex me. But I get it.

To take this photo, post-production was required. The rock formation was photographed on a stormy afternoon with dramatic clouds all around. We had a short burst of sunlight right on sunset – perfect timing or just plain lucky!

The Milky Way was photographed later that night from Mungo Lodge and while its angle to the rock formation may not be completely accurate, the resulting image has plenty of impact. The sky is a four minute exposure at ISO 800 using a Fornax star tracker, with advice and assistance from Glenn Martin. No matter how many YouTube movies I watched, there’s nothing like having someone who knows what he’s doing to help you out!

However, while the afternoon storms cleared at night for the stars, the following morning the rain set in and we were told to evacuate Mungo Lodge. This wasn’t great news on several fronts. First it was disappointing to be leaving so soon, and second, Ignacio Palacios’ car was an AWD, not a 4WD and we struggled to get out as the dusty road instantly turned into a muddy bog. However, I’m grateful to say Ignacio kept the wheels moving and I didn’t have to get out and push!

And just to let you know, the Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year award will be open for entries on 10 June, with $5000 in cash prizes up for grabs and a judge comment for every entry. Click through to the competition website for details at www.betterphotographyphotocomp.com.

And there’s a capture to print workshop with Ignacio and me up the Blue Mountains at the end of this month – check out the website for details at www.betterphotography.com.

Reviewing The Fujifilm GFX100s At Silverton

Silverton Church, Western NSW
Fujifilm GFX100s with 23mm lens, f4 @ 4 seconds, ISO 100.

Recently I took a photo tour with Ignacio Palacios and a group of brave photographers to western New South Wales: Broken Hill, Silverton, Menindee Lakes and Mungo National Park. I also took a full Fujifilm GFX100s outfit – 23mm, 32-64mm, 45-100mm, 250mm and 2x converter – for review in the magazine. You can read my initial thoughts in the current issue of Better Photography magazine, but there’s nothing like using a camera for a solid week to really come to grips with it.

And I loved it. What’s not to love about a 100-megapixel sensor and a selection of super sharp lenses, all fitting into a medium size Lowepro back pack. The camera isn’t much bigger or heavier than a DSLR or mirrorless camera (larger than some, smaller than others) and in fact not much bigger than my Fujifilm X-T4 outfit, so the experience was very comfortable.

But the files! Opening up a 100-megapixel image shot on the GFX100s was a delight. The backside-illuminated CMOS sensor captures 16-bit files and presents a very even tonal gradation, meaning there’s a softness in colour and tone over the top of a crisp, super sharp image. And with in-camera body stabilisation, you can comfortably hand-hold this camera, just like its smaller competitors.

The Fujifilm GFX100s is an excellent step up to medium format – or ‘large format’ as Fujifilm describes it. In fact, it’s not that much more expensive than other top-of-the-range DSLR and mirrorless cameras on the market today. And at around $13,000 with a lens, it’s affordable.

One of the travellers on our photo tour had just taken delivery of his own GFX100s and if the smile on his face as he looked at his files was any indication, he was one happy photographer – and I can understand why!

And just to let you know, the Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year award is now open for entries, with $5000 in cash prizes up for grabs and a judge comment for every entry - www.betterphotographyphotocomp.com

And there’s a capture to print workshop with Ignacio and me up the Blue Mountains at the end of this month – check out the website for details at www.betterphotography.com.

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