When shooting jewellery… you can never have enough light!

So Lisa has been busy setting up her Etsy store for all the awesome jewellery she makes, so of course I offered to help with the taking of the photos.
Now having done this a few times I have learned a thing or two…

  1. Set your self up properly, make yourself a nice little rig for draping the jewelery, where you can aim plenty of lights.
  2. Get yourself a macro lens, you want to get really close to the subject. It is good to use a nice prime to shoot the object in a nice setting, but you want the macro to show the real detail in the product. For this, the nice close up macro shots were taken with my Vivitar 35-75 FOV FFL manual focus macro zoom lens, and the set shots with the flower and candle were taken with my Minolta 55mm 1.9 FOV FFL manual prime lens.
  3. Most importantly, you can never have too much light! Use whatever you can, as you can see I have even brought in a torch just to bring in some extra side light to help diffuse the shadow I was getting on the right side of the pieces.

 

Here are just a few of the shots I took of her jewelery for her yesterday:

       

        

        

         

 

Isn’t her jewellery great!
You can check it out here if you are interested:
Metal Fish Handmade Creations

Sony Nex-5 = My advancement into interchangeable lens photography

I know that everyone on some level loves to take photos. You just have to take a quick peruse through any social medium, to see that digital photography and the sharing of photos on-line, is alive and well.
With the advent of the mobile phone with the digital camera, portability and the ability to capture that moment at any time became reality for most of us.
However there were always still those of us who chased the higher image quality and pixel resolution of a dedicated camera, compared to the grainy, colorless photos of our early 2-6mp digital phone cameras. I remember it was for this very reason that we purchased our Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S650 7.2 Mega pixel digital camera, it took perfectly good photos for the day and was a great for our step out into a dedicated digital camera. I wanted to find the old thing for the purpose of this review, however it seem to have gone missing. Hmmm…
Not having the camera anymore means this image will have to suffice.

Having by this time become heavily into fish keeping and starting to get out more with the band again, we were starting to want something that could produce much higher quality photos under more demanding situations. Everyone we spoke to said we needed a DSLR, however looking around at the time proved them to be rather expensive so we put that idea to bed for a later day.

It was a few months later and I was collecting a Behringer  tube compressor I was trying out for the possible purchase for the studio. It turned out the guy that was selling it had previously been into music and was into photography, and now managed the camera store in town. In the end I decided I did not want the compressor (had a faulty left side) so I went to return it. Now, being that Lisa’s birthday was only a few weeks away and I knew she had been quite into photography in high school , I thought maybe it was time for the old camera upgrade. So upon returning the compressor I asked him what was a good camera in my price range that would give me the kind of results we wanted. His eyes then lit up as someone has obviously just asked him to talk about a topic he knows very well, he then reaches for the nearest camera catalogue, confidently flicks a few pages and says, ‘well I’m going to buy this!’ and points solidly at the brand new Sony Nex 3& 5 cameras. So I did the quick internet perusal on my phone to see if I could find out more about this camera, there seemed to be very little out there other than that this was brand new mirror-less DSLR technology that meant small camera with DSLR like image quality, since it had a sensor only one size down from the big full frame mirror DSLR cameras. A lot of this was over my head at the time, but being the gear nut that I am, that was enough for me and that was the one I suggested we get for Lisa’s birthday.

So I gave Lisa the money that I was going to spend on the compressor and a bit more, she pitched in the rest from her savings, and she went about searching for the best price while I was at work. We had decided that we wanted the Nex-5 over the Nex-3 mainly because it was made from a metal alloy body as opposed to the plastic of the 3 and the 5 also did full HD footage and had a slightly higher rated internal cpu. Being newer to photography we of course knew we wanted zoom, you know the old ‘well how much zoom has it got?’, so we decided to shell out the larger amount to get the body with the 2 kit lenses, both the 16mm prime and the 18-55mm zoom lenses. Lisa and her mum drove all over town and ended up right back at the store in town buying it of the bloke I had initially spoken to.  Would have been fantastic had Lisa not then returned home to find we had been broken into and robbed! So after we dealt with that, called the police, fixed the windows and got over the fact that we had been robbed, we then took a moment to unpack the camera and have a play, in fact I think the first photos we took with the camera was of the damage.

Here is our Nex-5 with the flash attachment on and the 16mm prime attached. (taken with Lisa’s I-phone, how far phone cameras have come!) Of course here you can see it is a little beat up from good love and wear and tear.

Right off the bat we were very happy with the images compared to our old camera (who wouldn’t be, the frame size jump along with a double in mega pixels to 14.2 is a rather significant leap) However upon up-loading to the web we were sometimes disappointed at our results compared to that of some of our peers. So that was it I was on a quest to discover why we could not achieve that same ‘pop’ I saw in others photos with cameras of similar specs. After hunting around the internet and doing a bunch of reading of peoples opinions, it seemed the general consensus was that the lenses were letting down this potentially phenomenal camera, after manual lens owner had used adapters to put some of these on the front of their Nex’s with stunning results. Being daunted at the time of the concept of manual lenses and adapters I decided to steer clear of this concept and instead put the matter to bed again for a month or 2, but once again being frustrated at not being able to achieve the exact results I wanted I again returned to hunting around the net, because surely some new lenses had been released by now.


This is the 16mm auto kit prime lens (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)

This is the 18-55mm auto kit zoom lens (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)

This is the 2 together to give an idea of size (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)
 

 

 

This new line of inquiry then led me to wiki, which on their page held the news that Sony had released the proprietary information for their Nex dedicated lens mounting system the E-mount and furthermore lens manufacturer Slr magic had now released two all new manual lenses native to the e-mount system. I was gobsmacked. Where had I been? This was fantastic news, so I started doing the old Google for the new Slr magic lenses wanting to know more about them, were they priced out of my range? were they any good? This in turn led me to Steve Huff’s blog where he had very recently done the preliminary reviews for these 2 brand new lenses. The news was good, if you were out for having a play with 2 great creative lenses, I must admit I also liked what I saw of the test shots, knowing they had come from my camera.

I continued to search and it lead me to 3 videos, one by a french cinematographer who had shot a lovely, upbeat sunset scene on a beautiful busy beach strip in France, it was beautiful, it invoked feelings of happiness, joviality, it made me yearn for warm summer nights and drinks with friends. The next was by a Japanese amateur film maker who filmed his trip to Greece with friends. He shot it all in black and white, and again it filled me with the feeling of good times, and yet this odd melancholic feeling, you got the sense he fancied a girl in the group as he followed her more than others. The final and third was the one that probably put the nail in the coffin, it was footage from a young fella from eastern Australia and his trip to Melbourne. He filmed his friends in the city heart, skateboarding and doing back flips and generally running a muck through the CBD. Like I said this was the nail in the coffin. I had been totally gobsmacked by the power of film. The insight into peoples lives, the power to tell a story, the power to make someone yearn for your way of life. This was a life changing moment and it effected me for weeks. I had always had a need to extract as much out of this life as I can before I bite the dust, but now I also yearned to capture it, to effect someone in the same way I had been effected.

Needless to say I then went to the Slr magic eBay page and promptly purchased both the 28mm and 35mm primes and adjustable focusing native e-mount macro tubes. For under $500 dollars I could get 2 reputedly ok lenses,  that was a chance I was willing to take… and not knowing manual lens photography, well that would be something I would figure out when the lenses got here. haha

This is the 35mm Slr Magic manual prime lens (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)
 
This is the 28mm Slr Magic manual prime lens (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)
Here is the 2 together to give an idea of size (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)

The lenses arrived rather promptly, within 2 weeks, which was good since they were a birthday present to myself. I was very keen to get in a play with them. I first threw on the 35mm lens and was amazed at how easy it was to pick up shooting manually on the Nex-5 with the aid of it’s focus peaking and manual focus assist (a 7x and 14x touch button finder zoom for checking if you have nailed the focus) while still being a little slower than shooting with an auto lens I quickly realised that when you nailed it manually, you really nailed it. The second thing I noticed was how much nicer these lenses rendered colours. It now takes slightly longer to shoot moving subjects such as my fish, however the satisfaction you get when you nail it and the results you get in the end make it feel so much more worthwhile. I very quickly fell in love with manual photography, I was now getting the results I had dreamed about.

I shot with these 2 lenses almost exclusively for 3 months, I got to know the 35 for being awesome artistically for portraits, having such soft corners. I found it particularly useful when shooting band shots for ‘From Isolation’, as the vignetting it has at the corners gives a slight swirling to the bokeh which gives a feeling of movement. The 28mm I struggled to fall in love with as much at first. It just did not give me the same enjoyment when out shooting that the 35mm did, however this always changed when I got back to my comp and loaded the full size shots up there, lens is actually quite sharp and renders colours very nicely.

Here is a shot of all 4 to give an idea of their relative sizes. (photo taken with my Exakta 35-75mm zoom lens which arrived today)

Of course after all this testing I now wanted more again. I had remembered about using old manual lenses and adapting them to the Nex and this now peaked my curiosity as I had gained more knowledge and confidence with the camera. So I turned to e-bay and started googling the net for good lenses from the past and finding that due to the short flange size on the Nex I could adapt almost any lens I wanted from the past, I salivated at the thought. I first settled on lenses from Minolta as the mount adapter seemed readily available and the lenses were still reasonably priced. I then stretched out and bid on m42, l39, nikon, vivitar, sigma, tamron etc. etc. from manufacturers ranging from east Germany to Russia to USA to Japan and places in between. We still use the auto kit lenses, however mainly just for the applications where these excel, for low-light, action, such as live band photography. I intend to purchase the native Sony 50mm auto lens for the Nex as it is quite fast, with an aperture of f1.8 and as I have found in low-light, due to the native auto lenses having in built image stabilisation, this makes them almost twice as fast as the equivalent f aperture manual lens.
I now have a collection of manual lenses and adapters over 55 strong and growing! I have become completely addicted to manual lens shooting and now collecting and shooting with classic antique lenses adapted to the front of our Nex-5, it is just magic, this phenomenal little camera just translates whatever you put in front of it.

Over the coming weeks and months I hope to do some testing and reviews of some of my lenses for you, both old and new, so it may be of some help to fellow Nex users as to whether acquiring these lenses is a worthwhile enterprise. I have also come to learn there are also some settings you can tweak on your camera to get a little more punch out of your baby too.

Here are just a few of my favourite pics taken with the Slr Magic manual focus prime lenses:

This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 35mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 28mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 28mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 28mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 28mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 35mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 28mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 35mm prime lens
 
This Photo was taken with the Slr Magic/Noktor Hyperprime 35mm prime lens
(These sample shots were all taken from camera Jpegs as there was no way to process the Nex Raw files at the time. this has since been rectified)
 

I hope you enjoyed this little run down on the Nex and the first native lenses I have had the pleasure of using. In summary I feel that the Nex series of cameras offer the perfect solution for amateur photo takers that want to step up to a higher quality small auto camera that can do great results, and for those that want to get a bit more serious and play with manual glass. This really is the perfect compromise between amateur user and pro-sumer.

Santa Fe – Excellent mexican food that doesn’t just seem like old el paso mixes

Being bored of the monotony of eating at all our local establishments, though good in what they were, Lisa and I had been facing the age old  dilemma of needed to break out of our rut. So when the discussion came up about where we should go for the first round of P.R.O.T.A.S, we knew we wanted it to be somewhere new for us.

My brother had held his birthday at Santa Fe restaurant in Subiaco only a few weeks before in the Tequila lounge function room. Now while I was not able to stay for the mains on this occasion, the entrees I tasted were superb. So instantly this popped into my mind as the place for our first food outing for the site.

Santa Fe has been a staple of the subi food scene since 1994 and has just been awarded the 2011 Mexican restaurant of the year by the Savour Australia Catering and Restaurant Awards.

The first thing you notice as you pull near the restaurant is no dedicated parking, this is not unusual for subi, so we just parked the street behind, no drama. Gave us the chance to have a little stroll in this beautiful suburb before our meal, and gave me a chance to sight in my manual camera lens for this evening. All shots were taken on our NEX-5 using my Minolta 50mm 1.4 FOV FFL manual focus prime lens.

This little tree was just planted on it’s own near where we parked. It just kinda popped out at me. Of course as we rounded the corner onto Townshend road Lisa spied this pretty little bunch of flowers bobbing in the warm summer wind. It truly was a great night to be out.

As we passed the Irish club the first thing you notice is the change to the Mexican red mud look and the wooden door leading to Santa Fe’s tequila lounge.

Then as you come a bit further you reach the entrance of this Mexican cantina themed restaurant.

Upon getting to the door we quickly realised we should have booked for 6pm instead of 6.30pm, for obvious reasons.

The first thing you are greeted with upon entering are the bright and bubbly waitstaff busying themselves to your right at the counters and bar and the main dining floor to your left and to the rear. The restaurant has a very warm and lively feel, and they have packed the tables in rather close to give it that effect. The decor continues the warm earthy tones from outside, however now breaking into a more themed broken down cantina feel.
The tables are small and rustic, the place is inviting if a little hot on this warm summer evening.
We were waited on quickly by the staff who knew the menu well. We quickly ordered up some strawberry margaritas since it was still happy hour (buy on get one free) and ordered our entrees.
The margaritas were quick to arrive and I have to say very nice indeed. Though not a fruity drink connoisseur, this drop was quite appealing.

The entrees were quick to arrive as I was still only half way through my margarita when a scrumptious plate of deep-fried Bambino Chimichangas and a steaming hot bowl of Albondegas (Mexican meatballs) was put in front of us.
The chimichangas were a shortened version of the main, just consisting of the house chilli con carne wrapped in a tortilla and deep fried. Still absolutely scrumptious, so much so we ate 2 before I realised I hadn’t even taken the photo of the food yet. Silly me.
The Mexican meatballs were piping hot, they were basically standard meatballs served in a tomato, chilli soup, very Mexican in flavor and served with two tortillas for wrapping. Very satisfactory indeed, also worth noting that if you don’t have a large appetite, the entrees are quite substantial.


Having not been able to decide on what to order previously, we did so after completion of the fantastic entrees. After supremely enjoying the entree I just had to have the main version. This chimichanga was filled with slow cooked pork, sultanas, re-fried beans and other great ingredients I’m sure only the chef knows for sure, the apple/green tomato/chili puree served with it tied together the meal perfectly. Lisa went for the Empanada, a pastry stuffed with mushroom, veggies and cheeses covered in an amazingly good smokey pumpkin cream sauce.
As we had only just ordered mains we had a little more time to absorb this great little themed restaurant.

The mains still arrived very speedily, Lisa’s looked most delectable and my chimichangas were everything I had hoped for. Both sweet and savoury, a slight crustiness from the deep frying and the pork was tender from slow cooking, I absolutely have to recommend.

If you are someone who chases a well made drink, this is a good place for that too. I ordered a mojito while eating my mains, and while arriving very quickly, it was very well made with fresh mint and very tasty.
It seems this was an excellent night out of food, with rather well priced meals. Our only problem if I had to pick one would be the heat which in-fact got us to leave before ordering desert, they did have ceiling fans but they were not turned on.
However other than this small factor this was a rather satisfactory meal, which I would suggest to any to go and try for themselves. I think going during happy hour with a bunch of mates is a must.

Main meal prices: $20-$35

Santa Fe is located at:
315 Hay Street  Subiaco WA 6008

Call for bookings:
(08) 9381 2571

 

 

Morley Aquariums – A nostalgic walkthrough…

Where to start my fish posts was something that definitely mulled around my head for a while. Then it dawned upon me, why not start with the store that started it all for me.

I remember being a rambunctious 14 year old running a muck with my mate Alex and hopping buses and trains from where we lived in Duncraig and Kingsly to get out to look at this phenomenal fish store. I mean this was no small chain pet store on the corner at your local shops. Morley Aquariums was/is a dedicated fish and aquarium store, with your cichlids, custom tanks, specialised foods etc. etc. So of course young teenagers getting into a hobby wanting only the best, were captivated by such a place.

Returning there these days much is still the same, the store is still a beacon for great fish keeping and a rather nostalgic throw back to when the mighty Aquarium store was a real hobbyist store for serious collectors.

When first arriving you are greeted by the same great old graphic I have known for years.

Morley sign

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Minolta 50mm 1.4 FOV FFL manual lens

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Minolta 50mm 1.4 FOV FFL manual lens

Upon first entering the store you are greeted with a welcoming planted tank housing a pair of convict cichlids that can often be seen spawning or rearing their fry. Truly one of the great sights to see and a great omen upon entering a store, knowing the fish are so happy and healthy they are breeding.

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

Usually standing behind this counter is either Paul the owner or one of his knowledgeable staff. Always willing to give advice and a helping hand, great staff is another lynchpin of why this store is still an institution today.

They have a gorgeous Rainbow fish Display to your right and a rack of your more common desirables for peoples tanks in a rack to your left. Here you will find a colourful array of guppies, swordatales, platys, gouramis, goldfish etc. etc.

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

If you head up the right hand side of the store you will see a pleasing selection of plants for your aquarium, orderly laid out for the ease of your selection, with happy little rainbows darting about in between.

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

From the plant selection, you also get your fist glimpse of what lays on the other side of the store.

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

If you go back to the front of the shop and continue down the left hand side of the store following the racks you come to the left wall of tanks. First up you find great angels and discus, then your more brutal Americans and then your colourful African Haps up the back.

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

As you continue down the left side heading towards the rear of the store you will notice a display to your right, in the center of the store housing Paul’s famous pet, a giant gourami! His name is Flossy and he’s 20 yeas old and is awesome to interact with.

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

You then of course come to the rear of the store where you will find all the adult fish for sale, mainly adult Africans all ready for breeders to pick through to add fresh blood stock to their colonies or to find partners for their lonely monogamous Americans.

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

Last but most certainly not least, you come to the piesta restistance the massive African display tank . I believe it is about 8ft x 5ft x 3ft high!! (Do not quote me on these dimensions, just a guess till I confirm with Paul)

Absolutely spectacular! It was a sight to behold to a young teen and still never fails to impress, this tank still inspires many a new hobbyist.

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

http://i281.photobucket.com/albums/kk224/Hood_66/Morley%20Aquariums%20walkthrough%20-%20Photos%20by%20Hood/Morley----9.jpg?t=1324205350

This shot was taken on our Nex-5 using my Tamron 18-200mm zoom FOV manual lens

As you can see Morley Aquariums is still a fantastic store with something for everyone from absolute novices to the keen hobbyist. With a wealth of knowledge, great fish and products, I highly recommend a stop in at the store if you find yourself in the area, you will not be disappointed, even if just to take a look at that fantastic display tank!

I was back at Morley yesterday so I snapped a few more fish shots from the main display, enjoy:
(these shots were taken on our NEX-5 using my Minolta 50mm 1.4 FOV FFL manual lens)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will often find Hoods Fishies stocked here too, Hoods Fishies are fish bred by me, where only the best quality parent fish were sourced from all over the country so I may breed the very best fry for your enjoyment. You can check-out Hoods Fishies here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hoods-Fishies/236914349681540

 

Morley Aquariums is located at:

1/141 Russell St, Morley, Western Australia 6062

Contact Paul on:

E-mail    cichlid@morleyaquariums.com.au

Phone    (08) 9276 2266

Fax         (08) 9276 2267

Joshua Perera Photography – Photos, Cameras, Lenses, Film, Digital, Reviews, Discussion and Inspiration.