Post masters

Well, I got an MFA (jack of all trades, Master of F*ck All) with distinction, and have since come down again, I’m currently working as a cleaner for the money, and thinking of what i can get up to – I suspect it involves work, travel, and photography.

It’ll take me probably till the end of the year to stabilize my finances and save enough to be looking at Australia as a work and saving money option, from there, probably Thailand, that’ll be something like 2 years away though. I do like the idea of checking out South America too.

I’ve done upwardly and downwardly mobile, time to try outwardly mobile methinks.

Oh, I’ll be getting some camera reviews done in the near future on random camera’s I use, before i sell a bunch of em.

Cyan curve

Quickie post – for a cyanotype curve (to create a digital negative);

I start with a worked out monochrome image which has been tonally corrected – thus;

Then I go into the curves dialogue in photoshop – this screen shot is gimp, but the technique is identical in either program – in the curves I select the freehand curve style and draw a curve that crosses the normal curve, this inverts the image.

You’ll notice that I started it part way down – this allows me to reduce the tonal range down to only a fraction of what it was – this is due to the fact that cyanotype is very high contrast and thus will return the dynamic range of the flat negative.

In the curves dialog you can save a curve, thus making it easier to do subsequent images –  It’s easiest after freehand drawing the curve across to switch back to the smooth option to tweak it with points.

You still have to do a bunch of test prints to get the curve exactly right, and you do need slightly different curves for different sorts of images (high key, low key, etc).

I use transparency film in an inkjet printer to print it out in an appropriate coloured ink (the one with the best resulting tonal range), but the negative method should transfer to any decent laser printer/copier with the caveat that you’ll be able to see where the toner dots were in the final print.


Well it looks like it’s done.


Something like 65 prints including the small cards, they ranged from 3 x 4 inches (the cards) up to 30 x 40 inches (the panda & co) it seemed to go over well, now I just need to find a job.


Photographs courtesy of Shaun Waugh.


This – just cos it’s funny – and really as a way of illustrating that the 5D is not designed to be used for sneaky photography* But still works fine.

And this just cos;

At 2.8 the corners are distinctly unsharp – even allowing for my crappy focussing skills.

Still, it’s a nice pigeon.


I can use this for sneaky photography if need be – I tend to hang my camera’s off the same shoulder as my handbag (I’ll note here that the 5D is a bloody heavy camera – it weighs more than my EOS-5 film camera, which is a heffalump).

Using camera’s sneaky is more a factor of how you handle them than their size, I don’t carry camera’s as a means of showing them off, so people don’t notice them – having said that – the 5D is enormous and people will comment if you show it off or put it down.

I voted yesterday in our national election – till I put it down on the table nobody noticed, once I had, everybody commented on what a damn big camera it is. Still, I can use it in the street without anybody noticing.

Test shot

I’m amused by how anthropomorphic this shot is – it was a grab shot that went awfully wrong, but still looked good enough to stop and reshoot – this is the reshoot – Canon 5D w. 50mm1.4 @ 1.4 (1/25th – 100 iso).

This is still unsharp, but I’d overstayed my welcome, and it chimp’ed ok*

Chimp = the act of looking at the screen of a digital camera whilst ignoring the outside world (ideally while making ‘ook’ or ‘eek eek eek’ noises).

Playing with a 5d Mkii

I’ve had the chance to play with a 5D Mk 2 for the past couple of weeks – this is a bit of a review, which isn’t really a review – more just an opinion piece.

It’s fantastic – it’s the first digital camera which actually really impresses me – the quality is like scanned medium format film. (I only use canon Eos and screw mount M42 in 35mm, so I’m not familiar with the nikon D700 or similar – which I hear is fantastic.)

To qualify that – I use an Imacon reasonably frequently – that’s the gold standard for amateurs – and while fantastic, it’s nothing like as sharp as printing optically – if you want to wring the absolute maximum out of film then you need to print optically, and with very very good lenses – a film scanner of any level short of drum scanning (which I have not used and will not take a guess on) will fall short of expert optical enlargement – that’s just the way it is.

Oh – and I’ll add – the nikon coolscan – latest model 35mm scanners, they actually match the imacon for 35mm (the medium format is another matter).

The 5D mk2 (with top quality lenses) matches what I can do with the very best film processing and optical enlargement – I’m convinced.

So now the reason for sticking with film no longer has to do with image quality – certainly not for quality – the 5D out resolves the lenses I threw at it – and actually has a pretty decent dynamic range too.

I’d stick with black and white film (75% of what I shoot) for reasons of tonality and convenience – but I see no real reason to be shooting colour film unless it’s in timing critical situations or frankly in situations where my camera might get damaged (film camera’s are cheap) – also perhaps for point and shoot collecting, the XA2 beats the shit out of most digital point n’ shoots – it is, after all, full frame (with a freakin good lens).

I’ve tested a range of lenses on it so far – most of my regular lenses were crap frankly – my 24mm was almost as sharp as the L series 24-105 at 24 – which is to say, crap. THe 28 which I quite like and will keep using was pretty poor – worse than the L series above.

My 28-200 sigma just won’t work on the 5D – it spazzes out if I adjust the aperture above maximum – that lens works fine on EOS 300’s, 100,s and 5’s (the 5D Vs 5 shootout might come up later 😛 ).

Interestingly my helios 44M  2 58mm f2, with the A/M circular metal switch will match the canon 50 1.4 in both look and sharpness at any matched aperture – albeit with a much more brown/yellow cast – and I need to dial the EV back 2/3rds of a stop to get the numbers to match (the exposure is equal in manual). I’m not hugely surprised by this as the helios is my favorite lens – especially for low light/dark situations. It’s lower contrast than the eos ef 1.4 btw – better for high contrast situations.

For auto focus the 50 ~ 1.4 is fabulous, but in manual focus the helios (which is 100% manual) is just such a nice feeling lens it’s not funny – the helios is ultra smooth when focussing with one finger – the ef 50 1.4 feels plastic, grabby and kinda grindy/rumbly – they are both fabulous for different reasons. I’d like both frankly. (I don’t own the 1.4).

Every thing I tested (mainly 1970’s screw mount lenses) proved sharpest at 5.6 to 8 – no matter the configuration, or the distance – This wasn’t a scientific test, I just pointed the sucker at some trees on a ridge about a kilometer away and then at some close fractal stuff – the infinity looked rough across the board – close up most of them really looked pretty good – in real photography that’s not at infinity, sharpness isn’t so important – tonality is more of a thing.

I’ll have some (hopefully remotely imteresting) shots to follow – but in short, I approve of the 5D.



Took this in 2009 – the neg was unprintable as it was – I finally booked some time on the Imacon at school and did high and low scans – then did an HDR thingee and then tone mapped it back together as a 16×20″ 300dpi file.

And here’s a cyanotype from a digital negative.

Lastly – a giraffe…multiple