Focus Training in Centennial Park

Wildlife photography with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is nowhere easy and with its contrast detection autofocus system, fast moving animals like flying birds are quite challenging to get. In addition, even though the M.Zuiko 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 is a nice lens in general, it is way too slow and not exceptionally sharp. So what is required to achieve an acceptable outcome from this lens? Here are some of the main findings from my focus training in Centennial Park:

  • The most important thing with this camera / lens combination is light … bright sunlight. At least this first pre-condition is not a problem here in Australia most of the time.
  • When I compared photos taken wide open at f6.7 to photos I took at f8, I found that the latter were a lot sharper. So if the light allows to stop down to f8 it seems to be a good choice to do so.
  • Due to the slow contrast detection autofocus, the continuos autofocus (C-AF) is unusable at the long end. Hence, I prefer the single autofocus (S-AF) setting with this combo to get at least one lucky shot instead of being stuck in a never ending focus hunt without a single photo taken.
  • Last but not least the most important lesson I learned so far is that focus training starts with watching the wildlife without even lifting the camera. As soon as one knows the rules of the game and is able to predict the next steps, focussing becomes a lot easier – with any camera. This special knowledge allows to better position and setup the camera in the first place and prepare to be ready when the important scenes happen. In regards to birds that means, knowing where they gather, where they feed, where they rest and how they interact.


Panorama Photography at Sydney Harbour

Today I got up quite early to get a couple of morning light shots of Sydney Harbour. I just bought Autopano Giga last week, so the idea was to get some raw material to try out this superb panorama software.

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However, the problem was that I took the wrong lenses and the panoramas did not come out as expected. So here are the two main lessons learned this morning:

  • For panorama photography it is not required to use wide-angle lenses. With Autopano Giga it is possible to stitch pictures horizontally as well as vertically, so it is better to do two or more lines of pictures with a sharp telephoto lens than cropping too much from a single series of wide-angle photos. Hence, my biggest mistake was to only take my M.Zuiko 12mm 1:2.0 and M.Zuiko 17mm 1:1.8 lenses. Next time I should better take the M.Zuiko 45mm 1:1.8 lens. On the other hand, I will probably wait until my new M.Zuiko 12-40mm 1:2.8 lens arrives, as a zoom lens gives a greater flexibility to try out different focal lengths altogether.
  • The second lesson I learned is to do my homework and determine the perfect location to go to beforehand. This will help with the geometry of the pictures and simplifies the post processing. The picture below shows the location at Macquarie’s Chair where I setup my tripod this time. The distance to the objects increased whilst taking photos from left to right.

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    When I go next time it would be better to take the ferry to McMahons Point or even try Fort Denison where the distances would be more even as shown below. The problem with the latter is that the first ferry goes at 10:15am.

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Nevertheless, I still got some nice pictures of the harbour and could enjoy the early morning sun and fresh salty air.

The other thing I need to try out, now that I got Autopano Giga, is taking photos using the Brenizer Method.

Bondi Walk

After some bad knee problems mid last week, I got MRI scans done for them altogether. The scans only showed minor inflammations, but as I still get that weird clicking in my left knee when I move around, I will probably end up with a couple of physiotherapist sessions before I get back to regular running.

So after spending most of the long weekend on the couch at home, it was about time to get some fresh air. And as we live only 2km from Bondi Beach, we decided to go for a short walk in the late afternoon.

Art & About Festival Sydney

Last Sunday the Art & About Festival started in Sydney, so it was time to go for a walk in the inner city with my new Olympus Pen E-P5. In addition the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 exhibition in the Australian Museum is about to close in two weeks time, so one more reason to get going.
Even though it was not the first time seeing the work of professional photographers, we got quite excited with the plethora of exceptional pictures. Each photograph had a short story attached, which explained the settings and under what circumstances the picture was taken. As a consequence we spent more than 3 hours in the exhibition and totally forgot about the time. By the time we left the museum, the sun was alrady setting in the city and the light to take my own photos became suboptimal.
For that reason we decided to get up early today and take the train to the city for an early morning walk around Hyde Park. This second time the morning sun was almost too bright and washed out some of the highlights. Without a viewfinder on the E-P5, it was also quite hard to compose. So no doubt, the EM-5 and the EM-1, which I already pre-ordered are the better cameras in such situations. At least at that time of the day far fewer tourists were around, standing in front of the sculptures for some ordinary holiday snapshots.

Given the beautiful weather and as we only live about 2km away from the city centre, we decided to walk home via Darlinghurst and Paddington. So I had another chance to take some nice pictures of a beautiful spring morning. In Paddington, when we walked past a small grocery store, a shop assistant just noticed my new E-P5 with the 17mm prime lens attached and started some tech talk. What a great experience to meet a fellow Olympus shooter by coincidence.


A couple of weeks ago I created a high-resolution version of my 78photography™ logo for printing and one of the first things I tried was getting it onto a T-Shirt. Although, there is a plethora of providers that can print on anything, it took some time to find one that was based in Australia, with a good track record and also got easy to use website tools to create and order the items. All things considered, Tee Junction from Melbourne seemed to be the first choice. However, with some delivery problems and no responses to any of my emails, it took almost 3 weeks for my T-Shirts to eventually arrive. My credit card was obviously charged immediately after I ordered and not at the time of delivery.

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After all, the T-Shirts are of good quality, even though I cannot see the difference between black and charcoal, which seemed to be quite distinct colours on the website. And also the print quality is not as good as I had expected it, but I think I have to work a bit on that end myself. More to come soon …

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