You Yangs Victoria

This photograph was taken back in Summer 2008 just outside the You Yangs National Park in Victoria Australia. This relatively small park is often overlooked by landscape photographers given its close proximity to Melbourne; but scattered amongst the granite boulders and gum trees lie many potential photographs. What I really like about this photograph is the juxtaposition of the quintessential (somewhat cliche’) dead gum tree to the line of blue sky through the brewing clouds. The blue sky leads the eye deep into the photograph and adds a dimensionality and balance to the photograph that would have otherwise have been missing – and most likely otherwise resulted in a flat and boring photograph. Taken in the height of summer this is text book Australian drought conditions. This photograph has also been featured on the Channel Two News Weather segment in Melbourne.

2010 – What’s in Store?

I will be heading to Iceland in July / August this year for three weeks of dedicated landscape and wilderness photography, with a short stopover in Denmark and London for a few days rest and relaxation – a trip I am very much looking forward to. Although I have never been to Iceland before I have read a great deal about it. From a photography perspective it is widely regarded as one of the finest locations for landscape and wilderness photography in the world. With everything from volcanoes to glaciers and icebergs (and just about everything in between) there is a huge amount of interesting subject matter to photograph. It never truly gets dark in Iceland during the summer; which means the best light for photography (the golden light) lasts for hours. The combination of great light and subject are two of the key components in a good landscape photograph (composition is the third) and I am hopeful of getting all three and capturing some unique and interesting photographs. I am also planning quite a few local photographic trips in Victoria and will head back to Tasmania later in the year for another visit. Another trip to New Zealand is also not out of the question for later this year if time permits.

From an equipment perspective it is likely we are going to see an update to my much loved Canon EOS 1DS MK3 in 2010. The new MK IV will undoubtedly offer even more mega-pixels as well as video capability. Whilst I am not overly excited by video per se I am interested in seeing how adding this capability to my equipment will affect my photography. The small pocket Canon S90 that pretty much travels everywhere with me already has video capability and I have used it on several occasions. I will not be rushing to upgrade my MK3 just to have the new model, but am interested in the evolution that is occurring with video in still photography and will undoubtedly rent or borrow one to try.

My next landscape outing is most likely to be to Cape Shank near Flinders in Victoria (weather and time permitting) in the next few weeks. With its black basalt cliffs and rocks Cape Shank is one of my favourite locations for ‘ocean-beach’ photography. I want to photograph this location during some stormy weather to best capture its wild essence, so will wait for ideal weather before making the trip.

Mathesons Lake – New Zealand

Mathesons Lake in the South Island is an icon for New Zealand landscape photography. Situated at the base of the Southern Alps it is possible to get near perfect reflections of the alps in the right conditions. This photograph was taken late in the afternoon while the reflection was at its best during my 2009 New Zealand trip. I made a total of three trips to this location in the hopes of capturing the mountains reflected in the dark waters. Two of the trips the mountains were covered in cloud and there was no photograph but I did get lucky on one visit. Despite appearances I did not use a polariser for this photograph; just a three stop soft neutral density filter to bring down the sky and hold the scenes dynamic range.Despite its wild appearance this location is actually extremely easy to access. A short and pleasant 15-20 minute walk along a well maintained forest trail from the car-park leads to a convenient viewing platform. This was the only location during my entire two week photographic trip that I actually encountered a fellow landscape photographer. For all its magnificent beauty and stunning scenery New Zealand sure is a quiet place!

Canon Updates the 70-200MM F2.8L IS

Canon has today issued a press release announcing an update for the venerable and well respected 70-200mm F2.8L IS tele-photo zoom lens. Full details are on Canon Rumours website. The 70-200mm F2.8L IS has been my workhorse telephoto lens for the last five years and it’s optical quality has been superb. I can’t say I will be rushing to upgrade to this new version; although curiosity is likely to get the better of me at some stage and I may well rent or borrow one for comparison purposes in the future.

Australian Press Release

Sydney, 6 January 2010: Canon Australia today announced an update to its extremely popular EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM telephoto zoom camera lens. Professional photographers and serious enthusiasts alike will be keen to get their hands on the new EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens, which promises high-performance and quality regardless of the shooting conditions.

This new lens will delight any professional photographer or serious enthusiast with its advanced features,” says Cathy Hattersley, Brand Manager – EOS Professional, Canon Australia. “A robust L-series lens, the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM allows photographers even greater flexibility in low-light conditions and in subject composition.”

This new high-performance lens improves upon its predecessor with its new Image Stabilizer, which gives the equivalent effect of a shutter speed approximately four stops faster, allowing photographers to shoot in even lower lighting conditions. The EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens also boasts improved optical performance, achieving high-resolution, high-contrast images and reduced chromatic aberration – thanks to a fluorite element not used in its predecessor and an additional UD lens element (bringing the total to five). Optimised lens design and lens coatings minimise flare and ghosting. The combination of these technologies also delivers improved colour balance. The minimum focusing distance has been reduced to 1.2m/3.9 ft throughout the zoom range, which allows photographers another step closer to the subject.

Photographers will welcome the improved usability that the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens offers with its enhanced switch panel, which makes it harder to accidently knock the selected settings, and the new feel and grip of the lens, improves the usability during manual focusing.

With improved durability and moisture and dust-proof construction, the lens is built for professionals operating in the most demanding conditions.

Key Features

• L series telephoto zoom lens with Image Stabilizer

• Five UD lenses provide compensation for chromatic aberration

• 5 x UD and 1 x Fluorite elements offers unparalleled performance and low distortion throughout zoom range

• 1.2m minimum focus distance at all zoom focal lengths

• Highly dust and moisture resistant

• Inner focusing design plus ring USM for near silent, high-speed AF

• Telephoto zoom lens, 70-200mm focal range, fast f/2.8 aperture

• Inner focus design with Ultrasonic Motor (USM) offers fast and virtually silent operation

• New high-performance Image Stabilizer with optimum control system offers up to 4 stops of compensation

• Increased moisture and dust protection prevents water and dust penetration in extreme conditions

• Manual focusing enabled even during AF mode (full-time mechanical focusing)

Pricing and Availability

The Canon EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM (RRP TBC) will be available from March 2010 through select Canon dealers nationally. For more information customers can contact Canon on 1800 021 167, or visit the website at Canon Australia.

Australian Drought – Mitre Lake

This photograph was taken at what used to be Mitre Lake at Mount Arapiles near Natimuk and Horsham in Western Victoria. I scouted this location on a previous visit and new it would make a great photograph with the right light. The composition works for me with the parched land and dead wood in the foreground leading the eye off to the distant Mount Arapiles and dawn sky. In the end I took this photograph just before sunrise as I felt it would offer the best light. The colour in the sky was greatly enhanced by smoke from the bushfires that ravaged Victoria in Summer 2009. Mitre lake has been dry now for many years; a result of the more than ten years of drought Australia is suffering from. Scenes such as this are now an all to common site throughout the country with many of the countries lakes and ponds now no more than dustbowls.