digital suite

I have just had the  backup technology for Encounter Studio's digital suite updated.   I've been forced into it, as  I  needed to replace  an old,  dysfunctional data storage device---a  Lacie Quadra (500 gigabit)--- with a NetGear  Nas Raid (2TB) storage device with its  mirroring disc.  It will take around 12 hours to back up my photos.

It's  a prosumer --home-based or small business--data storage device  rather than an industrial or professional photography one. Though it is a network solution to data storage,   it does not have the capacity to keep  adding or replacing the  hard discs,  or to automatically backup to a remote location. That will be the next upgrade I guess.

I'm very paranoid about backing up my photographs and data  storage these days,  as  I have experienced  hard disc failures in my computers and  my  Apple and Lacie data storage devices die in the last year.

The next step  is to  back up the data storage devices  with  a portable hard disc  using the hard discs that we have been aale to  salvage from the  now useless Lacie Quadra. These portable hard discs can then be stored on the library shelf at Victor Harbor,  or in another place for safekeeping.

In the meantime I've been  figuring out how to continue with my  table top  photography  using  the  Sinar 8x10, a standard lens  (Schneider Symmar 360mm f5.6), natural light and black and white sheet film. I wanted to avoid the expense of buying an extension rail or a telephoto lens. 

 

sea abstract #1

The stormy weather finally has gone from Victor Harbor.   Today started  with a glorious spring morning--crisp, clear and still.  As there  was no early morning  cloud cover,  so the 8x10 black and white shoot that I had in mind was  a nonstarter.  I needed soft or diffused early morning light for the shoot.

So I took a walk along the boat ramp  near Whalers Inn  Resort at sunrise in order to  photograph the  sea at the edge of breakwater in Encounter Bay.  I had some abstractions in mind,  which I wanted to explore in the early morning light:

The sea is gentle in this part of Encounter Bay,  and so I was able to sit on the rocks at the water's edge without worrying that I'd be swamped  by every  seventh  wave.  I didn't have that much time  before the sunlight became too bright and the highlights on the white caps of the waves blew out. 

after the storms

The wild southerly storms eased on the weekend and I ventured out with cameras in the morning to photograph the  roadside vegetation  and to  photograph the rock forms  along the coast in the afternoon.

Though it was low tide in the late afternoon,  the sea was still very turbulent.   It was too  dangerous to go right  to the edge where the sea pounded  the rocks. The odd wave--roughly every  seventh one- -- was very high,  and the rocks were  slippery underfoot.

So I played it safe.

seascapes

One subject matter that I've explored again and again with a digital camera is the sea and sky. None have been successful enough for me to try venture forth using a large format camera with either colour or black and white film.  There's been one exception.

I don't know what the problem is. Picture after picture looks banal and boring.   I've even taken photos at different times of the day, but it malkes  little difference, 

It's frustrating, given that Hiroshi Sugimoto does such a good job of the  sea and its horizon, and I spend a lot of time by the ocean and so I am familar with its different atmospherics. Maybe I need to experiment with longer exposures to soften the horizon line and smooth out the action of the waves. 

roadside grasses

 I've been laid low with a torn ligament in my lower back and that ends the planned 8x10 photography for this weekend. So  I've been going through some of the roadside pictures on the computer that I took  last year during the summer.

One area   that I started in the roadside series was the summer grasses:

I'd just seen some of James Cant's  sunny and dry South Australian landscapes, and more specificially, his close-up images of local grasses and brush. These were highly textured, almost calligraphic, paintings. 

I had a quick look at my summer grasses  photography before, just after I'd scanned them,  but I didn't like the series  at all. I thought the idea was misguided. So I forgot about  them.

It's winter  now and everything looks different. So I can see the pictures I took then  at more of a distance.

Victor Harbor: on location

The three days at Victor Harbor have been frustrating in terms of photography.  I've been painting the lounge room  of  the   weekender whilst waiting for the conditions to be okay for a couple  large format  black and white pictures of roadside vegetation. One  was an early morning shoot, whilst the other  was  a late afternoon one.

It has been frustrating because when the southerly wind wasn't blowing  it has been raining early in the morning and late afternoon and then quite sunny during the day. Finally things fell into place late this afternoon after I finished painting a seciton of the wall-----there was little wind and it was overcast and fine. Ideal for the afternoon shoot that I'd lined up. 

I'd forgotten just how meditative 8x10  photography is. It takes a while to set the gear up  for the shoot,  and that means you really are in the moment.

I could feel the light changing as I tried to figure out how to use the new Pronto Professional  3 shutter for the Schneider 24mm lens that had recently been serviced. The  Prontor has no T position to hold the lens wide open  so you cancompose a representation of the objects in front of the camera. 

I finally figured out that I had to use a locked cable  release to do the same function as the T positon of holding the lens open using the  B position. The light was fading fast whilst I sorted things out.

an encounter with photographers

I've come down to Victor Harbor after a three week absence, which  included a small  trip to Melbourne.  There has been a lot of rain on the Fleurieu Peninsula recently, and it was difficult to access Kings Head this afternoon  due to  the landslides along  the Heysen Trail. It was very muddy.

On the way Ari and I met a couple of photographers walking the Heysen Trail on their  way to Kings Beach. They werre  taking lots of photographs.   One  photographer had   a big, fancy  Nikon DSLR with a zoom lens--he also had two standard poodles which I'd  previously seen --- whilst  the other had a Mamyia DM22 medium format camera , which he had bought second hand  from a guy in Japan for around $3000.   It was cheap because it had a 3 year  old 16 megapixel digital back.

These kind of cameras are  not readily  available in Adelaide second hand.

As  we walked along the trail towards  Kings Beach I mentioned the medium format guy that I once started out with an old  Mamiya RB67, but that I found it heavy and had swiched to Rolleiflexes.   He added that he also  had a Mamiya RZ33 in his studio but  that it was too heavy to take into the field. 

When I remarked about the cheapness of the digital back  he said  that it wasn't  necessary to go beyond a 33 megapixel digital back,  unless you were doing billboard posters. That was useful information for me.

What I gleaned from the brief encounter was that a  new digital medium format camera is now under $15,000,  and  it can be acquired for around $10,000 new. Suddenly a digital medium format camera  becomes feasible.

Ari and I  pushed on to our favourite  location at the foot of the Newland Cliffs to check out the tide and  the wind conditions for an early morning shoot. The two guys weren't interested in coming down to the rocky outcrop--it was in deep  shadow and the rocks  were very wet and slippery.

large format photography

I've been thinking about some subject matter for 8 x10 black and white work using the Cambo SC  monorail. These are difficult to use outside the studio, as they are bulky and heavy. Mine  has a large monorail that does not collapse,  and this  makes it difficult to carry in the field.   It is just not possible to carry this camera and the  heavy duty LInhof tripod very far.

Many large format photographers  address this problem by buying an 8x10 field camera that can be folded up in a back pack. I cannot afford a new one  of these,  and there are few second hand ones in Australia. I've chosen the  easy access by car option---that is, keep the monorail, drive to a spot,  unload the camera and then set it up. 

I did this picture of a Xanthorrhoea  (a yakka bush) as  part of a roadside scoping study that I was doing  with a 6x6 camera just before I left for the Tasmanian phototrip in March. The picture  works. Finally, I have something that I can work with and, being roadside vegetation,  it is accessible  by car. 

reconnecting

I've just returned to Encounter Studio in Victor Harbor, South Australia today after a month's phototrip in Tasmania. Suzanne is in Paris,  I'm looking after Ari, and the digitial suite has a new modem. The old one died during an electrical storm whilst we were in Tasmania.

I've linked up with an Adelaide-based  Art Photographers Facebook group that is quite lively and free wheeling and I've ordered a new digital camera to replace the old Sony  that was stolen in Melbourne last November. 

I've been  trying to reconnect with the  work that I was doing in Victor Harbor before the Tasmanian phototrip. To my dismay I've lost any sense of what I was working on or trying to do.  So I looked at the negatives that I had scanned just before I left for Tasmania:

I have to face it. I'm not sure that I had a particular project with the Victor Harbor book.  What was I trying to do with it I asked myself? I didn't have an answer. So what was I doing then? There has been a workflow but I've just been been taking snaps around several themes.

So where do I go from here?

Port Elliot

This part of Port Elliot is a much desired location. Big expensive architecturally designed housing is being built right on tops of the sandstone cliffs.  The houses have a commanding view of Encounter Bay. That's the way people like it. 

The sea around the rocks  is a  favourite spot for surfers and photographers. 

I'm more interested in the housing meets the coastline theme. I've had several goes at this, none of them satisfactory. It can only be done when the tide is very low. The sand is slowly going from the beach, exposing the rocks.