Tag Archives: photography

Short visit to Slovenia for work

Visiting Kranj and Ljubljana in Slovenia. Part of my role at Arriva meant visiting some of the countries that we operate in and meet with various directors to better understand their market and what opportunities exist for us to capitalise on with digital technology.

Weather was overcast when I landed and could make out some mountains in the background.

The office is in Kranj, 20 minutes from the airport and that’s where I was based. Was meant to meet with my colleague to get some work done but due to the snow in London, his flights were badly delayed.

Kranj itself has a rather soviet feel to it with some brutalist styled architecture remaining in the city.

There is an old town side which is rather lovely and a stark contrast, buildings were painted in all sorts of pastel tones. Continue reading Short visit to Slovenia for work

Walking around Westminster at 135mm

Bought a manual focus Samyang 135mm f2 just before I left and was planning a little more street-esque photography (read: trying to be a hipster). Took it out for a full day and it was quite a challenge. Colours are a bit flat because it was overcast, and I’ve been lazy to process these too much.

I loved looking through a different perspective but it was really tight (ha!) and secondly it soon became very easy to get the same looking shots, especially of clock towers and tops of older buildings.

Westminster light posts (for the longest while I thought it Westminister)

Inside Someset Square, it says SKATE in the background as they’re setting up an ice rink here.

Continue reading Walking around Westminster at 135mm

Some street art in Brick Lane

Brick Lane has a lot of street art and found some randomly in a little alley. While I stumbled upon it just walking around, seems like it’s well known as there was a decent crowd of people.

Definitely another visit is needed and I’ll do some more research to see if there’s any other pockets of art.

There’s a lot of politically motivated ones, especially around Theresa May but I have no idea about British politics so they were largely ignored.

I’ll be honest, the one below actually made me think for a bit, especially in the context of housing back home, everyone wants to be closer to the city and it all seems to be in the pursuit of money and nicer homes, cafes, shops etc, but in the end it just lines the pockets of a few with a pretty great cost.

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.

_DSC2109

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.

_DSC3526

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.

_DSC2114

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.

_DSC2116

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.

WP_20131010_22_29_44_Pro

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:

1020 cropped_1020

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.

WP_20130923_23_08_36_Pro

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.

_DSC2110

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.

_DSC2125

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.

_DSC2128

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

_DSC2129

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.

_DSC2130
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.

_DSC2120 _DSC2124

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.