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Canon 5D Mk II Photography Blog

Lake Argyle in Flood

June 9th, 2011

Lake Argyle is currently at record flood levels, again due to the massive wet season, and the water flowing out of the overflow spillway is enough to fill Mundaring Weir in Perth (one of Perth’s major water supply damns) every 8 minutes… which doesn’t mean that is actually a viable option for getting water to Perth, it is 2500 km after all… that’s a long and expensive way  to make a pipeline.

Spillway Creek in Flood, Lake Argyle Damn

Spillway Creek in Flood, Lake argyle Damn in Kununurra

Shot on the Canon 5D Mk II with the 24mm f1.4 L lens and a 10 stop neutral Density Filter,  It’s a 10 shot panoramic stitch.

Kimberley Photographic Tour 2011

June 3rd, 2011
Full Moon rising behind Boab Trees, Jarlmadangah community, West Kimberley
Full Moon and Boabs, Jarlmadangah

Photography Tour 2011

Back in lovely Broome after a long drive of 1000km from Kununurra after the completeion of the 7day photographic tour of the Bungle Bungles I have just completed.  Time now to take stock, do the washing, download some pictures and write a blog entry or two.  Firstly a quick recap of the 7 day photographic tour of the Kimberley which concluded in Kununurra a little over a week ago.

Initially we intended to go across the Gibb River Rd from Broome to Kununurra on this 7 day photo tour, camping in many of the scenic locations along the way to photograph and swim in tropical waterholes.  That was plan A.  But, the record biggest ever wet, which has filled all the waterholes to overflowing, has also destroyed all the dirt roads making many of them still impassable.  Even Windjana Gorge, one of the most popular scenic spots in the west Kimberley, was inaccessible and shut until only a few days ago.

Saddleback Ridge at El Questro Station, East Kimberley
Twilight view from Saddleback Ridge, El Quetro Station

Fortunately we had a plan B (and indeed even a plan C), and as it turned out plan B proved to be an amazing experience that was unique and vastly differant to what most people would ever experience in the Kimberley, one i’m sure we will all remember.

Photographing the Cockburn Ranges, Kimberley Region
Photographing the Cockburn Ranges

Since the Gibb River Rd was not an option we headed South East out of Broome and straight to Jarlmadangah Aboriginal community.  Where TJ and Sarnold from the community acted as our guides for the time spent there.   They showed us many beautiful locations on their country and shared some of the stories and cultural significance with us all teaching us some of the importance that country has for Aboriginal people, perhaps planting the seed for better understanding between us. (Pictures from the previous blog entry are from Jarlmadangah)

Photographing the Cockburn Ranges, Kimberley Region
Photographing the Cockburn Ranges

After  2 nights at Jarlmadangah we took off on the main road and drove all the way round to the other end of the Gibb River Rd, which was open for a part of the way, to El Questro Station, one of my all time favourite locations in the Kimberley.  We remained camped at El Questro for  3 days, and i think we could really have stayed longer.  El Questro has an enormous number of beautiful locations and is a photographers paradise.

To read a full review of this Kimberley 7 day Photographic tour written (much better than i can) by one of the participants click Here.

All these images were shot on the Canon 5D Mk II, and there are many more to come…

For all the latest Photographic Tours and Photographic workshops with Adam Monk click HERE>

Stormlight at The Pinnacles

May 1st, 2011

A while back i posted a new pano stitch image of the Pinnacles Desert at Cervantes in the North West of WA.  I made a 1.5m print of that image  a couple of days ago and next week (when i’m in the Kimberley) it will be on the wall in the gallery.

Limestone piers at the Pinnacles Desert in the town of Cervantes WA

Pinnacles Stormlight 1

On the same day as that pano image i also shot some single frame shots around the Park, and i had a look through those this week and remembered how amazing the light was.  The day had been overcast with very little wind, so the clouds had some lovely shapes in them, but no directional light was getting through, which made a lot of the shapes of the limestone piers of the Pinnacles rather flat and two dimensional. This is lovely light for flowers or portraits (as the light is very even with no hard edges) but not so with a subject like the Pinnacles, which needs something a bit more dramatic Read the rest of this entry »

Large Format Cameras

March 15th, 2011

Large Format Ebony Camera

Example of a Large Format Camera, The Ebony

What is Large Format?

Strictly speaking, large format refers to a film size of 5 x 4 inches or bigger, such as 5″x 7″ or even the huge 8″x 10″ (that’s in inches!). Panoramic 6x17cm also falls into this class as large format because, although it uses medium format film (120 or 220 roll film), it uses a big slice at a time, 17cm in fact. Making it the same length as a piece of 5″x 7″ film.

All this is technical; the reality for the viewer is amazing clarity of colour, depth and sharpness, even when enlarged to enormous proportions!

This is due to the large area of film used for each shot, more than 11 times greater than a standard 35mm negative… for example, a print 1m long from a 35mm negative is enlarged 28 times from the original, whereas a 6×17 only needs to be enlarged 5.8 times to achieve the same result… in reality a 35mm negative runs out of steam at about A3, the film grain becomes very prominent and the image becomes fuzzy. At that size the 6×17 is just starting, that’s hardly an enlargement at all! So, as you can imagine, the potential is huge! (See a review of the Fuji 617 cameras here)

Fuji GX617 and the older fixed lens model Fuji G617 cameras

Fuji GX617 and the older fixed lens model Fuji G617

Medium Format Cameras

Medium formats are usually considered to be  the ranges of 645 (6cm x 4.5cm), 6×6 (6cm x 6cm), 6×7 (6cm x 7cm) or 6×9 (6cm x 9cm).  These formats were always the choice when dramatically higher image quality was required  but without the bulk and difficulty of using a large format camera.  Most medium format cameras are able to be used hand held, and some of them even take the form of large SLR formats, like a big 35mm camera (the famous Pentax 6×7).  These medium format cameras take 120 or 220 roll film with the ease of use that comes with roll film, rather than loading double dark slides for each exposure as with large format cameras.

Fuji GX617 camera with the 90mm Fujinon lens

Fuji GX617 with 35mm film canister for comparison

Digital Medium Format

All these parameters changed with the advent of Digital cameras.  The first digital cameras were prohibitively expensive, slow and of very low quality, but since then they have caught up and overtaken film as the premium choice, both for quality and convenience.  The current range of professional and semi professional DSLRs, such as the Canon 5D Mk II, are capable of shooting images of medium format quality and beyond, while the more expensive medium format backs, such as the Phase One Camera and the Hasselblad, exceed even 4″x5″ film quality.  Due to the clean grainless nature of Digital capture, digital images are able to be enlarged many times over with little degradation of image quality and sharpness, assuming of course the necessary ingredients are there in the first place.  ie: correct exposure, image sharpness, lens and camera quality.

Medium format camera, the Bronica

A Classic Medium format camera, the Bronica

Digital Vs Film

I have heard it said many times that the clean grainless look of a digital image looks somehow fake or unrealistic, but i think this is just habit.  We are used to seeing photographic images with grain, it has become normal, and the grainless look of digital is still quite new.  But where to from here?  Will film vanish completely?

Film cameras are already vanishing from the scene rapidly in front of the advancing tide of digital technology, film has virtually disappeared altogether from the consumer market, and the majority of professionals have long converted over.  What I would expect to see over the next few years is a dramatic shrinking of the Film market supply, down to perhaps one or two suppliers making one or two types of film, that perhaps you would need to order over the internet.  Processing labs would also diminish to very few options, it may come down to posting your unprocessed films interstate or even overseas to have them developed.  Everything from that point would be scanned and digitally printed (see this Post and this post for details), as is already the case now (apart from some smaller operators).  The best simile would be the vinyl record industry when CDs became common, you can still buy vinyl, if you know the suppliers, and there are still many people who use nothing but.

See this related article about Depth of Field in medium format cameras.

You can read about my experience with medium format Hasselblad digital HERE, and the quandary of choice between the new Phase One XF-100 or Hasselblad H6D-100.

A really BIG Photographic Canvas print!

March 8th, 2011
4m canvas print laid out at Monk Art Photography Gallery
Freshly arrived…

I have mentioned this 4m Photographic canvas image a few times in previous posts, but i wanted it to be up on the wall before putting it on the blog,  it seemed only fair that the client should see it first, especially since it has been so long in the making.

Nigel Stretching the 4m canvas onto the custom made frame
Into it… a slightly dreaded job

I was pretty excited when i got an order for a 4m image, a vertical one at that, i’d never printed anything so big and i was very keen to try it.  I was confident the image would would print up well, it was shot on a large format panoramic camera, a Fuji GX 617 on a 6 x 17 cm piece of transparency film (Fuji Velvia), like most of the images in my gallery.  It was then scanned at 3200 dpi and 16 bit on an Imacon 848 scanner to over 900Mb, so there was tons of fine detail and information to work with.  The finished layered file came in at 2.9Gb… Thats a lot of hard drive space for one image.

My printer is an Epson 9900, which is 111cm wide (44″), so i can print an image of this format (3:1 ratio) to about 3m long… not big enough for this one.  So i called my friend Paul Parin from Studio Red Dust, who has an Epson 11880, the big brother to my printer.  The Epson 11880 can print to 152cm wide (60″) and with the right software and the right person driving it, for as long an image as you could want.  Paul is very proffesional and really knows how to drive his printer, so the results were spectacular.

The 4m canvas photographic image by Adam Monk takes shape
Thats pretty big…

The timber for the stretcher frame had to be custom made, and Nigel from Bitches Brew Picture Framers, who shares the gallery space with me, had  a few sleepless nights worrying about stretching this monster before clearing a space on the gallery floor and tackling the job.

Hanging the 4m canvas image in its final spot
Rob carefully measuring

My delivery van has a maximum  length of 3m it can  fit in the cargo area, so last Saturday i hired a truck and delivered this 4m long image to its new home, where Rob, from Master Art Display and myself put it into its final location.

The 4m vertical photographic image on the wall at last
The final result.

Each of these images of the stretching and hanging of the 4m photographic canvas print were taken on the Canon 5D Mk II with the 17mm f4L tilt shift lens to keep the perspective and gain some unusual focal planes (click on the images for a closer look).  The last image was not taken by me, since i am in the shot, but by Rob the Picture hanging expert, who also happens to be pretty handy with a camera.

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