Tag Archives: photography

The Mavic Pro

I’ve got another drone, and it’s only been a few months since selling my last, why? Two reasons, the Mavic Pro is sick, it folds up and fits in a small messenger bag and secondly, I got it for a stupidly good price. As a matter of fact, I got the Fly More combo for the same price that I sold my Phantom 3 Pro for. Absolute bargain.

Contents of the Mavic Pro Fly More combo

I took it out for its maiden flight last weekend, initially I was a bit scared with some reports of the app not working with S7’s, but that seems isolated to the S7 edge. Unfolding it is simple, the 2 front arms open up and the back 2 unfold upside down, blades stay on and fold together.

 

I did find the sticks on the remote to have a bit more friction and felt that help with finer control. Flight-wise I couldn’t really feel any difference between the P3P and the Mavic, which impressed me even more given its form factor. Forward collision detection is pretty cool and certain does give peace of mind, the controller vibrates when you get close to something.

Lens is slightly narrower than the P3P and isn’t focused at infinite, something to get used to.

It’s arrived just in time for Hawaii and planning to take it out for another spin this weekend to get a hang for some of the smart flight modes and get some practice pulling some silky smooth shots.

A not so Vivid

Vivid seems to be getting duller and duller for me as the years go by. This year everything felt super spread and to me that meant a low reward to effort ratio, that is having to walk too much to see so little. Thought I would have been a little more enthusiastic as well being the first chance to stretch the legs on my new Sony A7 mk2 but that could only do so much

First up was a quick dinner at the Malaya in King St wharf, just picked a random place with Dimmi and AMEX’ $20 off deal. It was a busy place, great for groups but not ideal for a quiet dinner. Entrees were the samosas and chilli fried chicken wings.

The former were super light with good skin and full of flavour; not cheap though. The chilli fried chicken wings had heaps of sauce, too much in my opinion and a lot of batter which masked any taste of chicken.

Mains were the king prawn laksa and chicken sambol.

The laksa was delicious, a lot better than I expected; plenty of flavour, chilli and not too heavy on the coconut. A richer version of the Hunter Strett laksa (which is definitely my favourite). If it wasn’t for the price, this would be a sure favourite. The sambol was also really nice, again they don’t skimp out on flavours, it was bold and spicy; I was a bit worried that the flavours would be watered down due to location, but I was pleasantly surprised overall.

So, back to Vivid. Bangaroo was a new addition this year and the night I went it was rather quiet. A walk with sting rays turned into immersion with projections and lastly aquanauts roaming the streets. Loved the detail in the suits and the cloud hovering about their heads.

The walk to Circular Quay (behind customs house) was a decent walk with my favourite being the colourful umbrella jellyfish (not sure if that’s what they were meant to be though). A couple of projections in the laneways, a canon stand taking photos of us and a sundial type clock (where you’re the dial) were pretty cool.

All shots were taken with Sony A7 mark II with either the Sony 35mm f/2.8 and a Zenitar 16mm fisheye adapted from a Nikon mount. One thing I didn’t realise with the fisheye before it was too late is that when adapted, the distance markings were out of whack, more so than when mounted on a Nikon camera. Most of the shots are out of focus with the focus going beyond what I was intending.

The rest of my Vivid trip was simply around the harbour with my favourite being an installation at the overseas passenger terminal which almost looks like heavy rain coming down. The opera house was quite pretty this year and I thought it was pretty cool that there was an interactive station where you could control what colour the bridge and surrounding buildings were; it did mean that sometimes the colour combinations were horrible.

All in all, quite happy with the A7m2, I wish the lens was a bit faster, f/2 would have been great, but the in body stabilisation does work well allowing me to go as slow as 1/10 with the 35mm without much trouble. I’m still getting used to the RAW files from the camera, but initial impressions is that that darks and shadows don’t hold as well as the Nikon files (that, or Lightroom doesn’t handle them as well).

That’s all from Vivid, photos aren’t exciting as previous years and I didn’t even bother with a tripod this time round.

Alright, I’m back to blogging!

In the spirit of buying things that you don’t need because they’re on sale or they’re cheap, I decided to buy a new domain name and have decided that will signal the re-initiation of this blog. So what did I buy? http://andrewnguyen.photo/. Pretty neat huh?

If you haven’t realised, we’ve been getting more and more top level domains (TLD) being made available (the last bit of a domain name is the TLD, ‘.com’ and ‘.org’ are TLDs, as are ‘.au’, ‘.gov’, etc).  I also wanted a new email because I was sick of people spelling ntranced with an e at the start.

I’m still finding it weird to type into a URL bar. So now I have my own domain, I decided to set up email, previously I had a web host do my emails, but this time round, I decided to try an external provider, if you’re willing to pay, Google’s probably your best option. It used to be free, but now starts from $5/m a user/email address, pretty cheap if you’re running a small business. I’m a tight-ass so for me, free was the way to go.

What I found? Zoho (http://zoho.com). Free for up to 25 users and a pretty good step-by-step set up process to get your new domain name pointing to zoho. All up, it was a matter of:

  1. Opening up the control panel of your domain host
  2. Adding a few records
    1. 2 MX records to point to Zoho (these simply direct mail to your host that will handle it)
    2. a TXT record for SPV (this helps prevent your emails from being treated as spam, it basically tells other email hosts which hosts are allowed to send from this domain)
    3. a TXT record for DKIM (this is like a key that allows another email host to verify that the email was indeed sent from where you authorised.

In other news, I’m selling all of my camera gear 🙁 a little sad to see some of it go, but it hasn’t been fun to carry on holidays and I’m awaiting delivery on a new Sony A7 mk II. If you know anyone who’s interested in the following, please get in touch.

  • Nikon D4s body
  • Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 G VR mk II
  • Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 E VR
  • Sigma 35mm f/1.4 ART
  • 2x Nikon SB-900 flashes

Nokia Lumia 1020

Been kinda wanting a new phone a while but nothing on the market had really appealed for me. As a photographer, when the announcement that the new Nokia Lumia 1020 would be released with the same tech as the PureView 808 and be based on Windows Phone 8; I was immediately sold. The PureView 808 was based on the dead Symbian OS and wasn’t something I wanted to touch.

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The packaging is pretty simple, colourful box with the inside a slide out tray, inside is just the phone, micro USB cable, charger and earphones in the colour of the phone. I grabbed a yellow phone so unfortunately for me that means yellow earphones.

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It’s design is similar to previous Nokia phones, polycarbonate body which feels quite nice in the hand and supposedly hides scratches quite well. The screen is quite nice and outdoor viewing is excellent, much better than my previous Galaxy S3 which wasn’t that great. Slightly rounded sides and screen leave for a nice touch; most of the phone is thin enough.

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The camera does bulge a little and when on the table doesn’t sit flat, not such a bad thing as it means the camera lens doesn’t make contact.

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So Pureview? It’s a 41 megapixel camera with the sensor size comparable to some of the better point and shoot cameras. The number is ridiculous, but it’s not as much of a gimmick as it initially sounds.
_DSC3530 Admittedly that was my first reaction, but reading into the finer details of what Nokia decides to do with the 41 megapixels is pretty clever. Essentially Nokia ‘super samples’ or combines multiple pixels to recreate a larger pixel with more colour detail and less noise.

What results is an image which has more accurate colour and better low light detail. The standard image which comes out is a more respectable 5 megapixel image which is stunning for a phone. The image below was in a room that was barely lit and it was able to produce a pretty good image.

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Further, they use this tech to allow a ‘semi lossless zoom’ by using native pixels as you zoom in digitally. You’re not losing quality as that’s how the sensor would perform normally but you’re not getting the benefits of super sampling.

Here’s an idea of the kind of detail you can get:

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What else is great? Xenon built in flash, this kinda tech had popped in and out of phone tech over the years; however the difference it makes compared to a LED bulb is night and day. Xenon flashes are brighter and have a shorter duration, allowing you freeze motion a lot better.

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The bits which are great about the phone’s camera is the inbuilt lens stabilisation (which uses ball bearings), this allows for shutter speeds as low as 1/4 and provides great stability when recording photos and low light images. Strangely enough you can hear the rattle of the stabilisation system, very odd.

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The Nokia Pro Camera app which allows full manual controls (not aperture as that’s fixed) including shutter speed and ISO and white balance. The lens is a snappy f/2.2 aperture and wide enough for everyday use. Due the fast lens and large sensor, it’s quite possible to get a nice depth of field without having the camera centimetres from your subject.The device also has Nokia’s PureAudio tech, this allows the phone to record super clear audio during video recording with plenty of dynamic range, this is something most cameras struggle with (let alone phones). I haven’t had a chance to play with this personally but the results can be heard online.

So that’s enough about the camera, what about everything else? Well to be honest it’s Windows Phone 8, there’s not much to differentiate it and it runs wildly smooth despite it’s weaker hardware. With pre-ordering, I did get a wireless charging kit to go with the phone.

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I really like Nokia’s idea of making the wireless tech optional, if you want it, purchase a cover which snaps on and attaches to two pins exposed at back of the phone.

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Snapping on the cover does add a little bulk but it’s not too bad.

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The charging pad is a bit smaller than I expected and does require a of careful placement, not the ‘just drop it on the table and it’ll charge’ mantra I was hoping for. Wireless charging standard used here is qi so it’ll work with any other qi chargers.

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Overall, so far I’m heaps happy with the phone, still getting used to the Windows Phone interface, it’s design intention is a lot different to Android and Apple and does have a bit of a learning curve. Compared to the Galaxy S3 its profile is pretty much thicker due to the camera.

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The Windows Phone OS is certainly snappy and doesn’t choke like the Android did at times.

Timelapse/video of Vivid Sydney 2013

Since getting a video capable DSLR and my Sony NEX, I’ve been a lot more fascinated with video and filming. As part of Vivid this year, I felt like I could put something together and the video below is the result of that. Continue reading Timelapse/video of Vivid Sydney 2013

Vivid 2013 – a few photos

Being more focussed on the video and timelapses this year, this means the number of photos I have from Vivid has suffered. Rather lazy so most (if not all) of these shots are hand held without a tripod. The super fast aperture of 1.4 from the Sigma 35mm lens proved to be extremely handy. Its sharpness meant there was no hesitation to shoot wide open. Continue reading Vivid 2013 – a few photos

Paul Kalkbrenner – Live in Sydney (2012)

I can’t believe I had only discovered the music of this man about a year ago and I definitely love the stuff he makes, I do believe this music is called Techno, but it’s definitely not what the doof-doof music commonly (and mistakenly) associated with the word.

This music to me, is simply beautiful, it’s progressive and has a moving melodic sound. It was then of great pleasure to be asked to photograph this event and be paid for it on behalf of Future Entertainment.

The event was held at the HiFi in Moore Park Sydney which is a large-ish venue holding about 1400 people, I don’t think it was sold out but it was certainly very full (especially the main floor).

The night was opened by Paul’s own partner Serena, whom I must say is pretty hot and I think it sets the mood perfectly for what’s about to come. While her music style is a little different, it does open the night well.

Photographically, it was a little bit challenging, but still very manageable, the main problem was the elevation of the stage combined with the relatively small (projector-based) screen and limited direct lighting on Paul himself. The crowd was too packed to move through as well and not being allowed the use of flash in the pit, I had to carefully time some long-ish exposures to capture people using the strobes on stage.

The projection does cover his face at times and the small screen means it’s hard to get an interesting background without funky patterns on his face. I was glad I got the initial opening shot with the full PK logo. In Paul’s fashion, he’s always gonna have a cigarette lit up and I think this shot captures it nicely.

The crowd was fanatic for him and the cheers for him after the show were immensely loud, louder than the speakers producing the music!  He loved the crowd and did come out for another round of waves. I was quite lucky with this shot as it was manually focused.

Having a DSLR capable of video nowadays means I will be recording more and more video from events I shoot at, manual audio gain control means I can get some recording without massive distortion, but there’s still a lot to be desired for in terms of audio quality.

The first video is Paul’s most known song, called Sky and Sand which was a collab with his brother Fritz, it’s the song which introduced me to Paul Kalkbrenner and his music.

The other video I have is of another one of his bigger tunes, called Aaron.

For more photos, check out the following facebook album and be sure to like my facebook page to keep up-to-date with upcoming photo gigs.

I had an absolute blast shooting this and will definitely look forward to his next visit.

Above & Beyond play at Marquee Sydney – photos and review

Soon after their Creamfields gig in Sydney, a few days later was a surprise announcement that Above & Beyond will be playing a club gig (cue the cheer and fanfare) especially after the woeful performance at Creamfields (terrible audio quality and production). However it was not long before more details sifted in and we find out that it  would be Marquee that will be hosting these legends in Trance. I think the whole Sydney-based trance family let a collective sigh as they pondered whether or not to make the trek to Marquee, or alternatively whether or not they’d even be able to get in to see Jonno and Paavo (whether that be long queues or “selective” security and door policies).

Marquee Sydney

I have been to Marquee before, and it’s no doubt a very nice venue, but the strange combination of a shiny new venue combined with an attempt to appeal to the rich creates an interesting scene when true music fans clash with this idea. It would be interesting to see the crowd that would turn up (or should I say, be allowed in), club gigs are usually best to hear what a DJ is truly capable of, there’s usually no pressure to ‘play for the masses’ and tunes which are out of the ordinary can be played.

Marquee

Had a quick squizz in the Boombox and for a RnB-esque room, it’s quite nice.

The BoomBox

Inside the BoomBox

Last Friday though? Despite being in a club, there was no club gig feel, first trance DJs to be on the decks were Binary Finary (big name in trance themselves) and from the crowd I hear a shout, “what is this? play more vocal trance”, this was early in the night and I already felt how bad this crowd was going to be. Not long after (with Binary Finary still playing) there is another confused punter not even realising who is playing, ignorantly there are requests for ‘Sun and Moon’ and I give myself a mental facepalm (maybe a few).

Binary Finary

Time came and Paavo and Jonno from Above & Beyond arrive, as they step on the decks, it’s clear how many actually know what’s going on. It becomes even clearer when a few of their older tunes are dropped, like ‘On a good day’ and ‘Sirens of the Sea’, I kid you not, less than 10% of the crowd would know the words and sing-a-long. 10 fucking percent, it wasn’t too bad being front and centre, but as you step back, there’s nothing from the crowd at all.

Speaking of moving back, the majority of the crowd were the biggest wankers I have ever seen! Trying to move around with a big fuck-off DSLR and flash is usually an easy affair, either they’ll spot you and move, or a quick tap and a gap is quickly opened for you to pass, but not this time, not this venue. Everyone wants to be where they are (or closer to the front) and it takes a good shove to get through. Seriously, I’m not here to take your spot. Another time a guy behind me holds onto my back as he attempts to get on a mate’s shoulder, man, I was tempted to just give him a knock with the magnesium alloy body of my camera.

Above & Beyond

Back to A&B though, they know how to work the crowd, but this by no means made up for the lacklustre set at Creamfields. To me it’s still the same predictable cheesy Group Therapy set we’ve all heard a million times. It’s almost become a formula, Sun & Moon, Thing Called Love, Prelude, Love is not Enough, Prelude and so forth. It’s not that they’re such bad tunes, but they’ve just been overplayed and in a way that when you’ve heard one Group Therapy set, you’ve pretty much heard them all.

Slippy Future

The highlight of the night would have been Oceanlab’s Siren by the Sea, despite the lack of knowledge from the crowd, it’s just one of them amazing songs.

Other thoughts for the night? The table service is a rather nice thing (if you’ve got the exorbant amounts of money to get one), someone appeared to have a birthday and were greeted with a girl carrying a CO2 tank and two guns to blast CO2 fog everywhere, pretty damn awesome way. There’s no doubt Marquee is a lavish place, plenty of hot girls dancing on stage in a variety of outfits, from little bras to swimsuit-esque outfits and even space-women! Interesting but over-the-top.

Girls and CO2 guns

Dancers

To be honest, I’ve been hoping for a nice club to open up in Sydney that would have their own music policy, but after this second visit two months after opening, I don’t see the place lasting at all. Lovely venue, ruined by terrible management. A good club only needs a few things, good venue and production (appropriate for the music genres you’ll support), clearly defined nights and music policy so punters know exactly what’s going on and when and finally having staff and security that aren’t there to play God.

That’s it from me, enjoy the rest of the photos by clicking below, you probably won’t see me step foot in Marquee again 😉 and my 2c, if you haven’t been, you’re not missing out on much.

Click here for the rest
Click here for the rest

Happy Welcoming of a New Year (2012)

2012 has come and I’m still a lazy ass at updating my blog, despite this I have actually gotten a few things done  as we welcome the new year. Hope everyone had a great NYE celebration, I sure did and what better way to do it than with some pumping trance music and hectic lasers (well also a house party for some pre-drinks). Not sure about everyone else, but 2012 isn’t going to be a big bang of change, I don’t have many complaints about 2011 and I’m going to take what I started last year and make it even better this year. Here’s a pic shamelessly stolen from the Sydney City Council NYE website, NY fireworks are always bound to impress, at least in Sydney anyway.

Sydney Midnight Fireworks

Main things for me for 2012 will be more photography and DJ’ing, so keep an eye out, hopefully I’ll be doing some bigger and better things with photography and getting a major kick on in regards to learning how to DJ.

For everyone who’s got a resolution for 2012, good luck with it :).