DOES SIZE REALLY MATTER?

Over the years I thought that I’d become inured to the  Size Really Does Matter mantra.

Take body weight for example.TV adds bombard the senses with messages about the benefits of reducing body weight. Magazines continue with the ‘rid yourself of that extra weight’ mantra and for heavens sake, don’t mention the visit to your GP where hopping on the scales overrides the bedside manner protocol.

This preoccupation with size now permeates the world of cameras and all of their associated gadgetry.

Light weight carbon fibre tripods are now de rigour if you are walking more than 100 metres to your viewpoint. Camera bag makers now promote light weight waterproof fabrics for their products complete with waterproof zippers constructed from man made light weight composite material. The lighter bags are also larger, thus  enabling you to carry more gear. Makes sense doesn’t it?

It’s hard to imagine how photographers of yesteryear managed to even make a single image when loaded down with their glass plate apparatus, massive wooden tripods and walking great distances to find a favourable landscape view point.

This preoccupation with size in truly invasive. Recently a mate confided in me that traipsing around the bush carrying his Nikon D700,  a bevy of lenses together with an aluminium shafted tripod  whilst searching for that ‘wow factor’ landscape was becoming quite onerous because of the weight factor.

The answer to the problem was, he suggested, adopting a mirror less high spec camera body and associated lenses, together with a modern light weight tripod with a decent ball head, not to mention a new lightweight camera back pack.

I was sceptical because it wasn’t the first time he had tried to lure me into a long discourse on the magnificence of Nikon’s full frame camera bodies and the magic optics of Nikon lenses.

A day or so later my inbox was full of outstanding  images made by my mate using his brand spanking new, top of the line mirrorless Sony  and a range of their lenses.

In his follow up phone call I learned that excessive weight was no longer a concern. Minus the tripod, hand held was much more stable, and, putting on and talking off the camera bag was no longer a back breaking task.

I had no comeback, especially when I considered the weight of my current Nikon kit that felt as if I was going on a ten day unsupported walk in the Andes.

Then it struck me. I’d been down the same road years ago when using a medium  format camera was considered to be the camera of choice. I’d totally forgotten how heavy my  Mamiya RB67 and it’s three lenses are and how I suffered carting the outfit on field trips.

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LIGHT WEIGHT? ONLY 2,700 GRAMS!
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ROBUST, GREAT OPTICS, BULKY.

I had answered that problem by moving over to a Nikon F5 and a range of Nikkor lenses and consigning the Mamiya and its kit to the bottom of a cupboard. The F5 was less than half the weight of the Mamiya.

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MY INDESTRUCTIBLE NIKON F5. THE BEST 35MM FILM CAMERA I’VE EVER USED. ONLY 1210 GRAMS.

That was way back in 2002, fifteen  years ago. How time flies and how much has changed in the camera weight and size department since then.

Now that digital imaging is the way to go, my F5  has joined the Mamiya in the cupboard, replaced by  Nikon’s DSLRs with their expansive and expensive range of DX and FX lenses.

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AT 36.5 MP THIS IS THE MOST POWERFUL DIGITAL NIKON TO DATE. ONLY 988 GRAMS.

Now the current top end Nikon bodies can’t be classified as light weights. When coupled with  large lens, take for example the Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 lens, the weight can become a challenge, particularly for hand holding during  a day long shoot.

Like most photographers I rarely leave home without a camera and these days, when  purely opportunistic photography is the aim and  maximum printable image size is not a consideration I leave the big boys at home; replaced by a light weight camera which is quite adequate for the majority of my recreational shooting.

My choices are:

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PANASONIC LUMIX. A GREAT CAMERA, FULLY ADJUSTABLE WITH A VERSATILE  LEICA LENS.ONLY 298 GRAMS.
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GREAT FOR STREET PHOTOGRAPHY IN TRUE LEICA TRADITION. ONLY 289 GRAMS

And, when I want to get adventurous or totally unobtrusive, my camera of choice is the GoPro Hero Black.

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THIS TINY DIGITAL WONDER DOES EVERYTHING EXCEEDINGLY WELL. ONLY 116 GRAMS.

So there you have the absolute truth. Yes, Size (note the capital) does matter. In the case of cameras, it’s weight that matters usually, not dimensions.

My multiple downsizing shows how I’m not, as I thought,  inured to the “Size Does Matter’ mantra. I’ve been kidding myself all these years.

Just for the record, here again are the cameras’ weights for your consideration:

MAMIYA RB 67                                                      2700 GRAMS

NIKON F5                                                                 1210 GRAMS

NIKON D810                                                             988 GRAMS

PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-LX100                       298 GRAMS

LEICA D-LUX6                                                          289 GRAMS

GOPRO HERO BLACK 5                                           116 GRAMS.

I rest my case.

Hoo roo for now.

HAVING FUN WITH COMPUTERS.

Commencing in late May, after much cajoling I’ll be running a short photography course through the auspicies of the local U3A (University of the Third Age) for oldies of my vintage.

From talking to many of the people who are interested in attending (it’s free) it’s apparent that the camera setting ‘P’ is the setting of choice, where their camera offers a choice that is. When I jokingly tell them that ‘P’ stands for Professional, only a few have managed a chuckle.

Point and shoots , phones and tablets are the predominent capture gadgets in use by the target group and that is in keeping with the current photographic digital phenonema.

Accordingly, the course won’t be particularly technical. For example, we won’t be delving into camera operating systems, Bayer arrays or the typical Nikon-V-Canon-V-Sony-V-Panasonic-V-Olympus -V- Leica or Hasselbald argy bargy.

Where appropriate, camera settings such as shutter speeds, aperture, white balance and  ISO will be explained.

Whether attendees use DSLR’s, mirrorless cameras, point and shoots, phones, tablets or  any other image recording devices, the objective is for them to know how to have fun with their device and produce images for their own target audience.

I’ve always liked using audio visual presentations to convey information to groups and to that end, I’d prepared a PDF for the first day’s session titled ‘What Makes A Good Photo.’

Now finally, that brings me to my blog’s title, ‘Having Fun With Computers.’

Back in 2006 I  bought a top of the range  Apple 15 inch MacBook Pro, Core 2 Duo lap top computer and it has served me very well.

Then along came iphones and Ipads and my trusty heavy weight ‘lap top’ was relegated to the cupboard, only to be dragged out occasionally.

After downloading  ‘What Makes A Good Photo’ from my desktop to a CD I learned that I’d need my trusty Mac Book Pro in order to get the PDF onto the large TV screen in the hall where the camera course would be held.

That’s when the fun began. Firstly ,the lap top took forever to fully charge. Then it wouldn’t accept my password. No I hadn’t forgotten it, I’d recorded it in writing.

After multiple attempts with the old password, a new password was required. Easy I thought.  New password entered. Stupid me. An Apple verification code was required. Where was my turned off iphone. Outside in the garage, in the car’s glove box.

By the time I got back inside the time limit had expired on the six numeral verification code.

Through the whole process again. This time, my password selection was too simple. Try again.

Finally, password accepted, verification code entered, great, time to load my CD.

That’s right, it jammed in the Mac Book. By the time I got it out it was, to put in politely, unuseable.

No problem, just download the PDF to another disc. Simple. You think so?

What I failed to realise was that by changing my password on the lap top my ipads, my iphone and my desk tops all need to have their password changed to match the new one.

Finally, late this afternoon, all changes had been made, the desk tops, the ipads, and the phones all done.

Back to the laptop. It will not recognise its new password. It will not accept the fresh CD. It can’t be recognised in my LAN because it is too old.

A quick call to my local independent Apple guru elicited the simple response, “mate, its a vintage machine, forget it, get a new one!’

Unfortunal]tely I haven’t won Lotto so a new MacBook Pro is out of the question.

Luckily my Epson printer operates up to A3 so over the next week or two I’ll print out the important bits of my PDF blurb and peg them up on the cork board in the hall as I waffle on to the course attendees.

Here’s an image of my ‘beloved’ lap top. To paraphrase the old song, from the great western movie, High Noon, ‘ I do not know what fate awaits it, I only know I’ll miss it so.’

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Hoo roo for now.

 

FEATHERED RESIDENTS AT CASA CREAKING BONES.

The Australian Magpie has a bit of a varied reputation, depending on the time of the year and to whom you speak.

In the nesting/breeding season, Magpies become quite territorial and can become aggressive if they feel threatened.

Pedestrians and cyclists in particular seem to ruffle Magpie feathers and the media is often full of stories of Magpies swooping down and allegedly inflicting peck(not of the kissing type) injuries on their unsuspecting victims.

SWMBO and I have both spent years as cyclists and have travelled many thousands of road kilometres and never, never have we had a run in with Magpies.

Here at Casa Creaking Bones over the years we have actively encouraged Magpies to visit our backyard and now, our place is a Magpies playground. They roost in our native trees, shelter on our back verandah in heavy rain and bring their young in to meet us as soon as they leave the nest.

We can move around under their roosting spots at all times, year round and they never move, just delight us with their magical calls and as feathered alarm clocks, they have no Aussie sun rise  equals.

I’ve lost count of the number of Magpie photographs I’ve taken over time, one black and white Magpie look just like another and their antics are almost identical.

Recently I’ve rediscovered the fun you can have with a GoPro camera and today I had a try to capture a regular afternoon Magpie performance at our kitchen window.

By the way, it’s almost impossible to keep the window panes clean as the Magpies and the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos keep rapping on the glass with their beaks to attract our attention when they think a handout might be in the offing.

This arvo the Maggies were right, stale bread hand out time had come around.

I set the little GoPro on Video, mounted it on a Gorilla Pod, pressed the go button and opened the kitchen window to the waiting Magpies.

Have a laugh at what the GoPro recorded.

I normally call ‘Come on’, feed one Maggie and then call,’Next’ but this time around the queue had already formed and my requests were unnecessary.

I’ve not yet mastered the way to polish up the GoPro results, I’ll look into the appropriate software in due course.

You are safe however, there is no way I could ever become a Cecil B or anyone like that and produce a 90 minute documentary on Magpies.

Hoo roo for now

ON A MOTOR BIKE, ALWAYS EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.

Way back in the early 1961 when I first learned how to ride a motor bike, wearing of helmets was not compulsory and many riders took to the roads wearing leather caps or ex WWII pilots’ leather head gear.

As time passed, more and more motorcyclists began to wear a helmet of some description and eventually, helmet wearing became compulsory.

Full face helmets were recommended by the authorities on the basis of the extra protection they supposedly provided and became the predominant choice of the ‘fast set’ sports bike riders.

However, the cruiser brigade, dominated then by Harley Davidson riders opted generally for the open face style helmet.

Now wearing an open face helmet has significant advantages over the full face as they don’t fog up, are cooler in hot weather, provide greater peripheral vision  and the rush of fresh air helps keep the rider alert.

Disadvantages do exist of course, full face is better in wet weather, keeps the bugs off the face and with a tinted screen reduces the effect of sunburn.

To combat the disadvantages, Harley Davidson riders in particular, often wear a bandanna to cover the face below the rim of their sun glasses, a most effective way of deflecting bugs, particularly beetles and bees.

A bandanna also adds to the macho image that many bikers like to promote.

Now as an open face helmet and regular bandanna wearer I’ve accumulated quite a range of colourful bandannas. It’s from my collection that the message,’ On a motorcycle, always expect the unexpected,’ was reinforced in a most unexpected way.

I was returning to my home in Sydney after a ride to Cairns in Tropical north Queensland, a 5,700 klms return ride( if you stick to the shortest direct route) when just out of Townsville in north Queensland my Harley suffered a rear wheel puncture. Fortunately there is an Harley Davidson dealer in Townsville and it wasn’t long before the bike and I had been collected and transported to the dealership for the necessary puncture repair to be carried out.

That day I was wearing my favourite bandanna and still had it on arriving at the dealership. This is an image of my bandanna.

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NOTE THE MESSAGE ‘ REBELS BEWARE’.

Now here in the Land Down Under, members of  Rebels Motorcycle Chapters  proudly wore the 1%er badge and were recognised by Police as outlaws. Red and black are acknowledged as the Rebels’ colours.

I was aware that Townsville had two outlaw bikie chapters but I didn’t know that the Rebels were trying, by force, to patch over the other club. In fact there had been a gun battle between the two groups not long before I arrived in town. Nor did I expect to have a confrontation with members of the local Rebels Chapter.

On arrival at the dealership, as I was unloading the bike from their ute, I saw three members of the Rebels  standing in the workshop watching me and looking quite menacing.  I noticed that they weren’t fully patched up and I wasn’t really worried by them.

That’s when the fun started.

Of course they took immediate offence at my red and black bandanna, compounded by the words,’Rebels Beware,’ and the image of the cop on the Harley Davidson.

One bloke poked me in the chest so I poked him back. He gave me a shove and I shoved back. The other two were standing by to help him out if needs be and the language from the three of them would have made a wharfie blush.

Fortunately for me, before things got out of hand, the workshop boss sprang into action, brandishing a whopping great spanner and ordered them from the workshop with instructions to come back the next day to collect their bikes. After a lot of shuffling about and more colourful language directed at me, they slowly walked away towards town.

I thanked the workshop boss and he simply said,” It’s your f’ing fault for wearing that f’ing bandanna.”

With a new inner tube in the rear tyre, I left the  dealership, minus the bandanna which I’d stowed in the saddle bag. Overall, it was a lesson well learned. I’ve retired that bandanna and it only gets an airing when I’m riding in company with ‘Boss Man’ and a few good mates.

Anyway, after all the fuss I thought it prudent to take a route out of Townsville other than the main highway to Brisbane, Queensland’s Capital city. That meant I had to take the Flinders Highway and travel west to Charters Towers, about 144 klms before turning south on the Gregory Highway towards New South Wales and home.

I stayed overnight in Charters Towers and SWMBO was quite amused when I phoned and  told her of my adventure.

There were a couple of ‘Old Rebels’ in the mob I normally rode with and they thought it was hilarious when I related my tale. They reckoned that the blokes I struck in Townsville must have been ‘Nommies’, that is Nominees for membership, who were looking for every opportunity to prove their worth to the Rebels Chapter.

I’ve retired my matt black open face helmet too and brought a more modern, slightly colourful open face so that when I’m out on my own I look more like a woos than a threat. I reckon the colour scheme is a ripper.

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Hoo roo for now.

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WHIPS, WHIPS AND NOW MORE ABOUT WHIPS.

One of my readers, Ry, sent a note in which he wondered whether whips were just an Australian phenomena as he had never come across such a thing in the United States.

From my reading and following various Harley Davidson sites in the States I share Ry’s position about whips and bikers in the States.

Many, many books have been written about so called ‘Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs,’ not only in America but also here in Australia.

The two volumes I refer to mostly when it comes to the ‘Outlaws,’ are:

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RALPH ‘SONNY’ BARGER IS THE GO TO BIKER FOR THE REAL LOW DOWN ON BIKIES, PARTICULARLY THE HELL’S ANGELS.

and,

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ARTHUR VENO IS AN AUSTRALIAN ACADEMIC WHOSE SPECIALITY IS ‘OUTLAW MOTOR CYCLE GANGS.’

There is not a single mention of whips in either of the two volumes and personally I’ve never come across another group of motor cyclists, either here or in The States where carrying a whip was a part of the code.

Accordingly, I’m sure that our little group was/is the only group where whips were part of the scene.

If you have seen the photos of my two tiny whips, you could be forgiven for thinking that they are indicative of the general size handled by our group.

You would be right in part but the ‘Boss Man’ carried a real whip. Here he is wielding a genuine stock whip, one of a number specially  made for him.

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‘BOSS MAN’ AND HIS ‘REAL’ WHIP.
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‘BOSS MAN’ WITH HIS GENUINE STOCK WHIP. 

To preserve the ‘Boss Man’s’ anonymity I’ve hidden his face.

Hearing a stock whip crack out in the bush has a mystical sounds about it. It takes you back in time and space to when stockmen and drovers rode proud in the saddle, delivering cattle  on the hoof to all parts of Australia.

These days, articulated monsters transport the stock and the days of the outback drover are, unfortunately coming to an end.

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

THE WHIP, THE WHIP AND NOTHING BUT THE WHIP.

Back in the dream time I used to ride with a very interesting mix of motorcyclists, many of whom had a background of being 1%ers .

‘Retired’ Hells Angels, Mob Shitters, Bankstown Boys,  Rebels and Black Ulans made up the hard core of our group. Next came the retired motor cycle racers and the rest of us were just ordinary blokes who loved riding our bikes.

Over many thousands of kilometres, I never observed any anti social or criminal behaviour being committed by any of our group , if you discount speeds well above the limit, as falling within those two categories.

However I did make an interesting observation. Many of the hard core group had a shortened cat o’ nine tails whip attached to the left wrist.

Because I wanted to keep my riding license points free I was always relegated to the back of the group with other ‘slow pokes’, well back from the lead riders. Suited me down to the ground. Riding with the bunch alone was excitement enough without trying to break my neck. But it meant that I was never close enough to observe their riding behaviour.

Now asking questions about anything at all, except,’ where are we going this weekend,’ was an absolute no no and therefore the use of the cats remained a mystery until one day for some unknown reason, I was in the lead bunch,  as we shot up the highway, two abreast in typical bikie fashion, passing everything in sight.

As we overtook a very nice Mercedes Benz I saw the rider in front of me give the headlight of the Merc a quick flick with his cat. My long pondered question had been answered.

Over the years I got to know most of the riders pretty well although to the 1%ers I was still an outsider and not to be trusted. Eventually I thought the time was right to ask about the cats.

I was politely informed that granting permission to wear and use the cat was a special privilege reserved for  real riders and it didn’t matter how many arses I licked, I’d never get a cat.

It was the sort of response I’d expected but it fitted the occasion that I should look bitterly disappointed and I managed to do so.

Imagine my great surprise when a couple  of years later, on  a weekend away ride the mob made a surprise stop out in the middle of nowhere. We all gathered around the ‘Boss Man,’ who came over and shook my hand. He told me the mob had decided that as I’d been riding with them for ten years it had been decided to present me with my whip.

I had mixed feelings about what he said. Did it mean that I was going to be initiated? I was ready to bung on an enormous blue if it came to that but I needn’t have worried.

From behind his back he produced a beautifully crafted miniature whip which he handed to me with words to the effect,’ Mate, you’ll see its not a cat, its a miniature stock whip. In another ten you may just earn a cat’.

I wasn’t too effusive when I thanked him and the mob, it wasn’t the thing to do and I’ve cherished that whip ever since. Never flogged a car with it either, just hung it next to my bike and took it on rides just to show the flag as it were. I really was privileged because it was the first time this had happened and cat presentation had ceased years before.

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MY PRESENTATION WHIP – IT CRACKS JUST LIKE A REAL ONE.

In the seventeen since then, the numbers of our mob have dwindled away and only a couple of ‘real bikers’ remain active.

The ‘Boss Man’ and I have become firm friends and we have ridden together on more times and to more destinations that I can remember, many of the rides taking a couple of weeks to complete.

Two weeks ago today, I got a call from the ‘Boss Man,’ and we met up at a local cafe where he proudly introduced me to his brand new high performance Ducati. It’s all black, of course. Totally different from the Harley he used to ride.

From a bag he had strapped to the pillion perch he produced a small paper bag and we headed into the cafe, ordered coffee etc and sat down.

The’Boss Man’ has always been direct and concise in his conversational style and that day was no different.

After we sat down he handed me the paper bag and said,’ Mate this is for you.’

I opened the bag and therein was a magnificent small whip, reminiscent of the cats of yesteryear.

This time around I thanked the ‘Boss Man,’profusely and he told me that as there was now only a handful of the ‘old gang’ left, six of these whips had been made and he was personally delivering them to the six of us. He said it was as close to a cat as the leather worker was prepared to craft.

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MY SECOND AND FINAL PRESENTATION WHIP.

Tongue in cheek, Boss Man told me that it was a perfect tool for swatting flies.

A memorial ride is in the pipeline, travel by tin top is permissible and I guess early nights can be assured. Whips are compulsory..

I’m really looking forward to catching up with whoever is left standing. Strange too, only the Boss Man knows the family names of the other riders and apparently, I’m the only one left standing who knows his. We sure have lived in funny times.

Hoo roo for now

CRITTERS THAT MAY CROSS YOUR PATH IN THE LAND DOWN UNDER.

Here in the Land Down Under we have some magnificent and interesting native animals, birds and reptiles. We also have some imported species including, brumbies( wild horses), camels/dromedaries, foxes, rabbits, hares, sparrows and pigeons to named but a few.

If you live outside the large metropolitan areas or out in the country there is always the probability that some of the animals and reptiles will come to visit, including snakes. Snakes are definitely not welcome in our backyard. Of course snakes of all descriptions are protected species  so in snake country, where we live, professional snake catchers are, during summer, in popular demand.  I kid you not.

Here are some of the visitors we welcome in our back yard:

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A NICE BLUE TONGUE LIZARD.

We’ve named this little bloke ‘Son of Albert.’ He lives in the shed which he shares with my Harley and Landrover. He slips in and out under the roller door as the summer days cool off and in winter hibernates under the concrete slab.

Over forty  years ago, when we lived in a Sydney Suburb, a Blue Tongue set up residence under our back verandah. We called the goanna ‘Albert.’ Blue Tongues have inhabited our backyards ever since. Since they all look alike, when we think a newcomer has moved in it immediately becomes ‘Son of Albert.’

I was working on the bike when I saw this particular ‘Son of Albert’ for the first time. The remnants of a meal was protruding from his jaws so I popped inside and returned with the camera. You can see from the image why they are known as ‘Blue Tongues.’

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SON OF ALBERT WITH A SNACK.

They have readily adapted to the presence of humans, hence my chance to get this closeup.

Then on another day, an Echidna waddled across the yard and began to dig in near the side fence. We refer to them as Spiny Anteaters because ants are their favoured snack. Again, the camera was close at hand and I managed this shot of it’s cute little snout and face.

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AN ECHIDNA.
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A CLOSE UP OF THE ECHIDNA’S PROTECTIVE QUILLS.

Echidnas are very shy and certainly are not an aggressive mammal. At the first sign of trouble they use their strong claws to dig a hole into which they gradually disappear. Fascinating to watch.

Further away from home and out in the real country is where you will find the larger reptiles like the Perentie.

The Perenti is the largest Australian Monitor Lizard and they can grow up to  2.5 metres in length and weigh anything up to 15 kilos. They are common in the desert inland areas of Australia and enjoy carrion. They are great climbers and when disturbed can swiftly climb the nearest tree or up large boulders.

Here is a shot of one that crossed our path on the edge of the Simpson Desert in the Northern Territory.

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ABOUT THREE FEET LONG THIS PERENTI BLENDED WELL WITH ITS’ SURROUNDINGS.

A few hundred miles later on we spotted this camel wandering along beside the track. It’s popularly believed that there are more wild camels in Australia than anywhere else in the world.

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ARE WE THERE YET.

On our way home we stopped off near Silverton in North West New South Wales to photograph some great examples of a plant known as Sturt’s Desert Pea.

There, sitting on a rock taking in the sun was a fine example of a Frill Necked Lizard. When they are agitated they inflate a ruff of bristles around the neck to make themselves look more aggressive and dangerous. This bloke was at peace with the world and totally ignored our presence.

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NOTE THE EYE. NOT MISSING A THING.

We really enjoy sighting our wildlife and it’s a great excuse to venture off the beaten track.

Hoo roo for now