Adelaide’s infamous ‘Z Ward’

Several weeks ago I along with several thousand others had the opportunity to take a walk around ‘Z Ward’ behind the Glenside Hospital.   Originally known as L Ward (but changed due to concerns it would be called ‘Hell Ward’) Z Ward over the years had a reputation for housing amongst others, the ‘criminally insane’. This amazing old building has been purchased by a mining company and is set to become offices for it. The company is keen to retain the building’s heritage and had a recent open day that was so over-subscribed, a second day was held. Here are some snapshots I took wandering around with hundreds of others. It would be great to take some time and properly compose some shots however there was a real need to get as many people through as possible so that everyone who had queued up for quite some time had an opportunity to see inside.
One of the photos in this gallery has also been cropped with a close up of the building wall showing the grooves left by inmates from their fingers as they walked around the building dragging their hands along the wall. It’s quite disturbing when you see it.

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Abandoned

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Running water

In the last couple of weeks we have had some great rainfall and I have been watching the nearby creeks overflowing with runoff.  Usually we have very little rainfall and they are often dry.  While the rain stopped several days ago it wasn’t until today that I have had the chance to get out for a walk and take my camera with me.  Here’s a shot of some still flowing water over some rocks.  It’s not often that I get the chance to play a bit with longer exposures and water so I had been looking forward to this.

running water

Astor Theatre, Melbourne

I had the opportunity to take part in the recent Google+ Melbourne Photowalk Community’s 2nd anniversary photowalk last week and had a great time.  The organisers and supporters (not Google – they seem to have deserted them) did a fantastic job and organised a great itinerary. The day was split into three distinct walks and unfortunately I only had time to take part in the first as I had a plane to catch.  The day started out at a beautiful old theatre (the Astor) and we had the privilege of being allowed to walk all through this great old  art-deco landmark.  We then went on to look at some of the amazing street art in this part of Melbourne.

Here are a few images taken inside the Astor:

Mersey Bluff Lighthouse

Here’s a picture I took of Mersey Bluff Lighthouse while in Tasmania. I am really enjoying using a wide angle lense (Sony 10mm-18mm for Sony NEX-7 camera).
With this photo I experimented a bit with Topaz Labs Adjust 5.

MerseyBluff

Bay of Fires

Here’s a couple more photos from the Bay of Fires in Tasmania.

bay of fires1.jpg by jerryatflickr

bay of fires2.jpg

Focussing blues

emu

So I have been using Sony NEX cameras for quite a while now and bought a NEX 5 pretty soon after they became available here. The NEX 5 had a number of limitations for me so ultimately I purchased a NEX-7 when it was available and I had saved up enough for it. I started looking at the NEX and also the micro four-thirds cameras as a lightweight, travel camera that could take high-quality photos. Prior to the NEX I was using an entry level Canon DSLR which I was quite happy with but for the size and a few other limitations with the style of photography I was interested in.
Having used the NEX-7 in almost every mode I can find on it I am continually frustrated with it’s focussing – well, one particular aspect of it anyway, which has caused me to miss literally hundreds and hundreds of shots. Even with centre-point auto focus, the NEX-7 will refuse to focus on what’s in the middle of the frame if there is a more contrasty background. This pretty much kills any photos of people. I have lost so many great people shots (ones you can’t get back of family on holidays, special moments etc) because of this. I am committed to never buying a ‘contrast-detect’ auto-focus camera again.
Recently I have just given up on auto-focus and use manual focus now. Either that or I use the DMF mode which allows me to manually focus once the camera thinks it has focussed. The results, as far as focussing is concerned, have been great. Unfortunately this method still has a couple of problems.
Firstly, I am still missing a lot of shots that I could easily get with a cheap point-and-shoot camera as you can never focus as fast manually as a camera can so you miss out on all those fleeting, gold moments. Secondly, I have found that manually focussing often comes at the expense of good composition. The NEX has a couple of good manual focus tools. The first is focus-peaking which highlights areas that are in focus (with yellow, red, or white outlines). The second is focus-assist which zooms in on an area (the centre) of the composition, allowing you to concentrate on specific parts of the photo. Unfortunately you are not always interested in focusing at the centre and moving the zoom area around is particularly cumbersome, especially if you are using the viewfinder. What this has tended to lead to for me is photos that arguably are better focussed but their composition is pretty poor. The example above is pretty representative of a lot of shots I took on a recent trip. I was concentrating so much on working around the poor focussing of the NEX and I ended up with many shots where the subject was just pretty boringly placed in the center. Since I was using the zoom to its full-extent in many cases, cropping in post-processing (eg to change from landscape to portrait mode) didn’t work very well as I lost key parts of the image.
There are many things to like about the NEX cameras but focussing certainly isn’t one of them. I understand the NEX-6 is a lot better as it doesn’t exclusively rely on ‘contrast-detect’. I look forward with some interest to the NEX-7 replacement but my heart is really starting to lean back towards a DSLR.

Some photos from Tasmania

Here’s a few more photos from a recent trip to Tasmania. It really is a spectacular place!

lighthouse - Strahan

burnt out

Franklin River

Nelson Falls, Tasmania

Nelson Falls, Tasmania by jerryatflickr
Nelson Falls, Tasmania, a photo by jerryatflickr on Flickr.

I have been trying to do some long exposure shots and had the chance to try it out at a waterfall on a recent trip to Tasmania. After some of my previous attempts I am quite pleased with this one. It has taken a bit of figuring out to try and get a reasonably sharp (for me) photo with the silky looking water.

Melbourne photowalk

A lot of the photos on this blog have been taken in the city Melbourne, Australia. I don’t live in Melbounre (in fact, I live in another State about 800km away but my work is based there so I often have to visit. Photography gives me something to do while I am there and it is a great and friendly city to wander around.
Following last year’s ‘Google photowalk’ in Melbourne I joined an informal commmunity on Google+ called Melbourne Photowalkers. Just recently the well-known HDR photographer Trey Ratcliff was in Melbourne and joined a photowalk put together by the organisers of this group. They did a fantastic job and it was a great evening. Trey was a great host and you can read his post about the event here.
THere were ‘officially’ about 289 people there but it seemed like more. I think I had one of the cheapest cameras there with a NEX-7 and my Zeiss 24mm and Sony 18-200mm lenses. The amount of expensive camera gear there was staggering! You can see heaps of photos from the night on the Google+ site.
The photos I took on the night were not all that good so I went back and took some more when I had a bit more time. This post contains a couple of HDR shots and a couple of non-HDR ones. I am not sure about HDR – when it is good it is fantastic but when it is not good it is awful. In my attempts, I am not satisfied with the workflow that I have used to date and need to experiment. I used Nik’s HDR Efex but however that doesn’t give you any flexibility in the compositing phase like Photomatix (according to some of the blogs that I have read) which seems to be limiting. Almost all the images seem to come out a lot less sharp than the original ones and very grainy.
The Sony NEX exposure bracketing is not very good. You can only take 3 shots and until recently was only up to +-0.7ev. They have increased the range to +-3ev now but still with 3 shots. On the night of the photowalk you could hear the Nikon’s snapping off way more shots than that.
It would be great if you could use the timer or remote as well when bracketing to remove camera shake. One of the main reasons why I haven’t posted any shots from the night is that my focussing was not that great. The NEX-7 is hopeless at focussing in low light compared to the other cameras that were being used.
I bought the NEX-7 for its convenience when travelling and that it is supposed to be a premium camera but left the photowalk feeling more convinced than ever that I would like to change back to a DSLR. The NEX-7 is great in many ways but I am starting to feel I might be a bit of a mis-match for it – it doesn’t seem to be suited to the style of photography that I like to take.
Anyway, on my own a few night’s later with a lot more time to fiddle around I did manage a few acceptable low light shots. Here they are:
mpw1

mpw2-hdr

mpw3

mpw4-hdr

The first and third photos are not hdr while the second and fourth are. I think the original images of the hdr photos are probably better but since the original photowalk was geared towards hdr I felt obliged to give it a try.

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