New Toys


So I got a few new toys this week. Of the most interest to me were LR5 and Leap Motion.

I’ll start with the Leap Motion. This is the future of computing , well, maybe in a generation or two.
When I ordered the Leap Motion, months and months ago, I was envisaging intuitive and natural control of my laptop by waving my hands around. I wasn’t 100%  sure how it would work, but I was sure it would be great. I am a little disappointed. Not much, I just had to remember that this was a technology that was in it’s infancy, and that I was not familar with it. I remember when I first used a mouse, I hated it, couldn’t see the need for it and I thought it was a cop out for lazy people who couldn’t use a keyboard. Now I resent having no use of a mouse. I suspect soon we will have tablets with inbuilt touchless/gesture control, desktops with out mice or keyboards and so on. It would seem that the only thing missing from my vision of the future is fully 3D screens and I don’t mean like the current crop of shitty  gimmicks in stores at the moment. Yes, it will be like in the Minority Report (sans the gloves hopefully).

My desire to see this happen is actually coming from a practical view point. I often spend 50+ hrs a week working in Civil 3D and other AutoCAD products. I draft in entirely x,y,z and have no end of issues with doing so on a flat screen. Sure, I’ve developed methods to avoid most of the common traps, but I can’t wait till drafting in 3D is as natural as sketching on paper with a pencil.

Lightroom 5 has been interesting. I skipped Lightroom 4 and stuck with my dated copy of LR3.6, so I can’t comment on what exactly is a new feature for the program, only on what is new for me. Firstly, the Heal/Clone Brush=Awesome. Sure, you can do the same thing in PS, but that meant using another piece of software and considering I mainly only used PS for getting rid of things like powerlines, this is of great benefit to me. The tools were a little hard to find, I know they were in the same place, but they worked slightly differently, despite not looking any different and as such, it took me a while (hours) to figure it out. Both the images here have had power poles and lines removed and I have to say that I’m impressed with how well the tool works out of the box. There was mention of some additional functions being added to the Heal/Clone tool, such as feathering, but for now I’m happy enough.
Things like the lay out the sliders makes more sense than what was in LR3. Despite there being a little bit of time required to adjust from the habits of LR3,  I can appreciate the thought that went into modifying the layout and functions. Another boon is the extra control available in Lens Corrections. I do try and shoot in a way that minimises Chromatic Abberation, but you can’t always lose a shot for some shit tech reason like that. LR3 was pretty damn good at fixing CA, but LR5 is miles ahead.
Supposedly, there is several stops of additional Highlight/Shadow Recovery available now, but I can’t say I can see it, though I’ve never had an issue with blacked out shadow or blown out highlights appearing in a photo. Sometimes in the real world, looking at things with your real eyes, there will be black shadows and white highlights in the same scene, so I can’t see what the fuss is about, maybe I’m missing the point? I think at this point, I should point out that in both the above photos, I was using fill flash, from a SB-900 with diffuser, mounted on camera. This was to help balance the very contrasty scene.

The other very exciting feature is the Book tab. I’m not really sure when I will get around to publishing a book. Probably when I can find a coherent theme and also find a printer that will print a small run (several hundred, tops) for a reasonable price, Regardless, this feature is brilliant. I hate, with a passion, book making software. Every company has it’s own shitty in house software and they are all missing features, never the same features and they all have peculiar quirks that are annoying to have to learn. Assuming that most book printers will accept LR5 Book PDF’s, I can’t wait to put it through it’s paces.

Both LR5 and Leap Motion will take some getting used to, learning a new tool while trying to achieve the same work is never straight forward, but both have been fun and useful so far.

About the photos. My partner and I took our youngest horse out for a ride whilst we had lend of a friends float. I was interested in scouting locations for possible shoots in the future and my partner was looking for new places to ride. Whilst this was not the most consistently scenic place, there were a few spots that had potential. A few weeks earlier, we ventured to Kwinana, to the horse beach behind the heavy industrial area. This shoot was much more productive, I have a several decent shots still to go up.
I would welcome any suggestions of locations to shoot horse and rider portraits , in and around the Perth Metro area.

The Great North West

98% Completion, seconds from the end


The above, blurry, photo shows my current location. Situated in the North West of Western Australia are dozens of places like this, work sites where billions and billions of dollars are being spent.
It may not look like it, but this is a multi-billion dollar project, a wharf expansion for a port that links by rail to mines located hundreds of kilometres inland.  The entire port handles iron ore only and it handles several hundred Mt/a. And it’s going to double that with this expansion.

I absolutely love my job. I’m an engineering/construction surveyor working on some of the biggest projects in the world. When I was a kid I played with Lego and Meccanno and was always building industrial stuff. Shit, I say as a kid, but if you put either toy in front of me now, you won’t get a word out of me for a few hours.
One of the best things about working like this is the places I get to go to.  Some are extremely remote, two hours of serious 4×4 driving to get to the nearest road and some are located next to sleepy little towns in the middle of nowhere. All of these places are great for photography, I’ve even called my job a distant second priority to the photography.

<rant>What shits me though, are the self righteous and entitled fucks who expect everything on a silver platter. Not every one who works in places like this are like that, but it seems to be getting worse. Perhaps it’s just an obvious minority, like political lobby groups, but they sure bring the mood of the place down. I’ve never could have imagined that some one could get paid so much to do so little and still feel hard done by! Deck hands and labourers who get paid $150k+ and won’t work because they feel their conditions are unfair. Operators on $200k+ who won’t work because they don’t like their supervisor for personal reasons.
It makes me fume.
Some people blame the unions, others blame the current political parties and some blame the companies, contractors through to the clients, but I think they are missing the obvious culprit here. Culture. It is all through Australia, a sense of entitlement that disables the effected’s ability to be responsible and capable, “I’ve done my bit and don’t need to do any more”. It’s such a far cry from the propaganda stereotypes that every one knows about Australia, that when you tell people what you are thinking, they treat you like a heretic.</rant>

I think I might bring my camera in to work with me tomorrow and take some photos of birds or something….