Photographing cats with the Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens

I haven't used my Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens for yonks, and I dug it out recently to see how it would work shooting portraits of my cute kitten, Venti.

What a fabulous lens for this kind of work - far lighter and easy to manouvre quickly, and I love how at f/1.8, it practically wipes away the background.

It was also a great lens to use indoors at the RSPCA last weekend, where I photographed some more adorable kitties looking for their furever homes.

Jimmy, the second cat below seems to have been adopted out already, but Mimi, the spunky boy in the third photo is still looking for a permanent home. You can find more details about him at the RSPCA's AdoptaPet site

Meanwhile, I'm working out what to shoot next with the "nifty fifty".


Playing with the FilterMania 2 App

I'm loving Instagram at the moment! For me, it's like the Twitter form of Flickr, but for photos. In following some really creative Instagrammers, I discovered the FilterMania 2 App for iPhone.

According to its description on the App Store; "FilterMania 2 Market is literally a dynamic playground of constantly updated photo filters." And that's certainly true after my experience of playing with it for the last week.

You start with a base photo, which you can select from your library or take with your camera through the app, and then start to overlay filters. There's a bunch of themed filters such as darkness, storms, tropical, sci-fi etc, and you can mix and match as endlessly as your imagination (or time) allows!

The app also lets you play with the opacity and luminosity of each filter, so you can blend effects.

I've had fun playing with the minifigs in FilterMania 2, and they're finding a whole new whacky world out there. I also like the spooky effects blended with some of my photos from last year's Cambodia trip!

For $4.49 (USD), FilterMania 2 is definitely worth it for the fun factor.

Anzac Day, once again makes me proud to be Australian

I can't believe another Anzac Day has rolled round ! This year, we decided to do something a bit different from the annual ritual of going to the Brisbane dawn service. We headed instead to the service at Bulimba Memorial Park.

The day started with a small parade down Oxford Street, past dignatories including local member, Kevin Rudd, and then a crowded gathering on the street outside Woolies and the park.

This service had much more of a community feel to it and was lovely under sunny blue skies and the rows of huge trees, planted in memory of local diggers who did not come home.

As always, I choked up when they played the Last Post - it gets me every single time I hear that piece of music.

We then hot-footed it into the city to catch the start of the Brisbane Anzac Day March. This is my fourth year of photographing the parade, and I can definitely pick repeat marchers out of the thousands of men and women who do it each year. It's always nice to see them marching proudly down Adelaide Street. There seemed to be bigger crowds than last year, which was also great to see!

I wish I could learn the stories of some of the people I photograph each year in the march. The look on their faces is one of steely determination and pride, and I would just love to hear about their journey.

Australian flags were waving madly today, and as always on Anzac Day, I'm reminded of how proud and lucky I am to live in this country.

There's a bunch more of my photos on my Flickr Photostream.

Hope you had a wonderful Anzac Day 2013, and lest we forget xx.

Venti meets Zeiss

It's been a lazy Easter Friday - a chillaxed day to terroise the kitten with the camera. Today I was playing with the Zeiss 85 mm f/1.4 lens - long time no Zeiss!

I love the Zeiss lens - it's as sharp as when you can lock focus. Slightly more challenging with manual focus and a frisky kitten whose only two speeds are "100% Go" and comatose.

Shooting in AV mode, I tried various apertures - up to f/2, which does a great job at blowing away the background. Shooting Venti at f/1.4 though is practically impossible to get a sharp shot as she's always twitching....especially when she knows there's a camera in her face. Bless her little cotton socks :)

Happy Easter wherever you are, and have a great long weekend!

Practising pawtraits

It's the second week of having a little shadow weaving her way around my feet as I try to walk anywhere in the house. Venti the 17-week old kitten flies to  my side when I'm about to walk up the stairs, and stops on every step, looks up and sees if I'm still walking up or am about to randomly change my mind and flee in the other direction (as she does - often).

This week we have discovered she thinks she's a dog. She loves playing a good old game of fetch with her pink mouse toy, and absolutely bolts back to us when we throw it to the other side of the room. The throwing and fetching cycle goes for about 10 rounds or until she flops at our feet in exhaustion....poor little cat, it's probably her equivalent of running a half marathon.

I'm trying to hone my cat photography skills; shooting with fast shutter speeds and the flash if I'm photographing her at night. I'm sure the poor kitten is sick of the paparazzi that greets her every time she does a new trick (or just sits there minding her own business and looking cute). I'm learning that pet photography requires a lot of patience, particularly from the animal! It's not too different from photographing kids - both require a lot of patience and trust, and they're all entirely unpredictable!

I'm really looking forward to getting started as a volunteer photographer at the RSPCA in a couple of weeks. While I'm not allowed to do anything with the photos except provide them to the RSPCA, it's likely they'll post some of the photos on their cool Adoptables page on Pinterest.

Here's some of this week's photos of our crazy little fetchin' kitten, Venti :) You can see more of her antics on her Facebook page, The Venti Files, and follow her on Twitter.

A cheeky kitten called Venti

This week, a 16-week old kitten called Venti changed our lives!

It was about this time last week, that our families got together for lunch, and started talking about their respective cats. All that talk about felines reminded me that I missed having a pet (and have missed having a pet for about 25 years) - so we set off to the RSPCA QLD's facility at Wacol to see who was available for adoption.

There were stacks of kittens and older cats, and we got to wander round the kennels to see some gorgeous dogs, while we waited our turn for one of the volunteers to take us into the cat viewing area.

One little ginger cat called (funnily enough), Ginger, didn't seem at all interested. The poor little thing was probably feeling nervous and out of sorts being poked and prodded by kids all day. Mia, another potential adoptee was also a bit placid and wouldn't come out of the cage to say hello.

And then the volunteer mentioned that she had a 16-week old kitten called Jamima, who she had personally foster-cared for the last few weeks...a timid little kitten poked her head out of the cage and I think we pretty much knew instantly, that this kitten was coming home with us.

A swift approval from our laddlord meant we could pick up the kitten the next day, all for the bargain price of $20. This included microchipping, desexing, immunisations - the lot! The $20 deal is still running at the RSPCA's Wacol facility, so it's worth checking out if you're looking to adopt a cat.

We changed her name to Venti for a couple of reasons - I'm learning Italian and Venti means "twenty" in Italian. We thought it was cute - the vet said he'd NEVER had a cat called Venti come to visit. Our girl is certainly an original :)

Our first week of having a kitten has been hilarious, curious and tiring. She's up at the crack of dawn every morning, biting our toes, skidding sideways across the tiled floor, following us round like a puppy and miowing for attention whenever she's not draped across my mouse hand at the computer.

Skittish and nervous at first, this kitten's true curious nature is coming out day by day. It's weird having a little shadow trailing me around the house, but it's lovely to have a pet again.

I was so impressed with the RSPCA adoption process, that I applied to become a volunteer photographer almost as soon as we got Venti home. My role will be to photograph animals in preparation to be adopted out. If my photos can help to find these beautiful creatures new homes, then I'm happy to help.

Venti will no doubt feature a lot in my photos. It's renewed my interest in phootgraphy, which has kinda waned over the last few months.

Here's a few pics of our cheeky kitten, and you can follow more of her antics on my Flickr stream, in The Venti Files set.

Tickle My Fancy Project - Day 2

I enjoyed a wee, boppy trip down memory lane today, as I walked home. The Village People's You Can't Stop the Music was blaring from my iPhone - so today's "photo" is a screen shot from the iPhone.

80's music, whoever sings it, really tickles my fancy!

Tickle My Fancy Project - Day 1

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a bit of a creative lull late last year, but I've found my photography mojo again and am challenging myself to do another challenge.

The theme is going to be "Tickle My Fancy".According to the Urban Dictionary, the phrase "tickle my fancy" means "to enjoy, adore, or be satisfied by". This means I'm going to photograph the things which I spy with my little eye each day (or week - whatever tickles my fancy). The photos will no doubt be shot with a mix of cameras, from my Canon 5DII, 7D, G12 or iPhone.

I envisage the project will be a cross between a 365 (photo a day challenge), and the Gratitude Challenges which seemed popular last year. In any case, my project is going to be about the things that make me larf.

Day 1 begins with the new lego house for my collection of minifigs! My brother and sister-in-law gave it to me for Christmas, and I finally got to play with it tonight, lining up all the little dudes in their cubicles - might keep the little buggers in check. I LOVE that this lego house now gives me a place to keep and organise my little lego figurines!

Adam and Loz, thank you! THIS tickles my fancy :)

All's fair in love and photography!

Long time no blog! I'm determined to blog a bit more regularly this year - last year's fitness kick seemed to have diverted my attention away from blogging and photography, and onto nutrition, heart rate monitors and all things calorie burning! There were several motives for the fitness regime, not the least of which was my wedding, which took place on 29 December 2012 under a beautiful tree in the Barossa Valley. My photography partner in crime, and now husband, Michael, took these photos as we mucked around with the professional photogs from Joel Roosa Photography. Gotta love an 8mm lens selfie and an all out camera war: our 5D IIs were aimed and fired...


Anyway, having failed epicly at my 365 challenge last year, during which the minifigs took over and I then wandered into a creative lull (which probably coincided with a substantial reduction in sugar and alcohol due to the fitness regime), my photography and blogging ground to a halt.

But 2013 has dawned, and I'm busting to get creative again. While I've taken Michael's surname, I'm still going to keep my blog name - I've kinda grown attached to my series of "A Surplice of..." blogs.

My next post will outline my new photography project for the year. It may morph into a daily thing and it may not. The minifigs might make random appearances (if I let them!) or not. It's going to be casual and observational....let's see how it goes. :)

Taking time to smell (and shoot) the flowers

I love getting outside and photographing gardens, but it's easy enough to do it indoors too! I had a few days annuak leave this week, and paid a visit to the Brisbane Flower Markets.

The range of flowers - native and exotic - was awesome, and I picked out bunches of my favourite pinks and purples in varying degrees of bloom.

At the moment, I'm going through a bit of a high key phase, and love the look of virbrant flowers against a stark white background. This is easy enough to do with a light tent, and over-exposing by a couple of stops on the Canon Powershot G12. Whack it in macro mode, and off I go.

I love close up floral photography - the colours and textures all within such delicate petals....I find it really relaxing too. Flowers don't make demands. They don't talk back or blink...they always look great, even when they're wilting or have dried.

Here's a couple of my favourite images from the last couple of days!

They're coming to take me away, hee hee!

The minifigs are well and truly taking over my 365 challenge! They're getting into everything! This week saw a potential romance blossoming in Cathedral Square, a large weird duck and a hazardous substance in the kitchen...

Jump on over to my Facebook page or Flickr stream to see the rest of the nutter minifig antics ;)

A few excuses for the delay between blog posts....

It's been a while between posts, but I do have some excuses!

Firsty, I got engaged three weeks ago - my lovely boyfriend popped the question at Sake, our favourite restaurant. He almost forgot to actually ask me to marry him after he'd presented me with a beautiful sparkly ring - but we got there in the end, and we are now engaged and planning our wedding :)

Having looked at so many wedding photos since the photography passion amped up, we both have a pretty good idea of what we like and don't like about all aspects of weddings. If I had a dollar for every time we've been asked in the last three weeks, "who'll photograph YOUR wedding?", I'd be rich! Rich enough to fund this looming wedding. For now, we have a few feelers out....I pity the poor photographer whose job it will be to get me to crack a natural smile in front of the camera (without the automatic reaction of holding my hand up, in a massive gesture of NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO). I have always been a behind-the-camera kinda girl...

The other main excuse for not posting, is that my photo challenge (and in fact, daily life) has been taken over some little people....Lego Mini Figures (or minifigs). They'll all about 3cm tall and come with a varierty of interchangeable accessories. In just a few weeks, I've amassed a collection of about 15 little people, who seem to tag along in my handbag....I never quite know where or how they're going to appear in my images, but there's a growing collection of their antics on my Flickr Stream.So far, all my minigfig shots have come from the G12 - I'm still loving this little camera. The macro lens on it is great - so versatile and LIGHT! I take it everywhere...and it seems the minifigs turn everywhere into a photo opportunity.

Since starting to shoot under the influence of these whacky little dudes, I've come across a whole bunch of minifig fanatics on Flickr. It's nice to know that there are other nutters out there. Until next time....

Reunited with my Cokin filters!

The bag of vintage camera gear my parents recently dragged out of their garage contained my two old Pentax film cameras as well as a forgotten stash of Cokin filters. Whoohoo! It was like opening a little treasure chest from the past.

In the days before I'd even heard of Photoshop, I used Cokin filters to overlay all sorts of effects to my photos. The plastic plates slotted into a bracket that screwed in to the end of the lens. There were coloured filters, neutral density filters, graduated filters to make skies really blue, and my favourite - the starburst filter!

I remember taking hundreds of pictures back then, testing out the various filters in different lighting conditions, and on many unsuspecting suspects. Picture fruit bowls in sepia. And orange. And graduated blue. Noice!

The Cokin bracket is too small to fit on to any of my current Canon lenses, but the filters work fine when I hand hold them in front of the G12...

Check out the starburst below! This opens up a whole new world of opportunities for the G12. Happy days! Or shouuld that be rose coloured glasses?

15 days in and loving the 365 Challenge!

15 days in, and I'm loving getting back into the challenge of taking a photo a day. It's a great way to learn all of the (many) functions of the G12. What a snazzy little camera! Talk about the perfect present for me!

Here are some of the photos from the second week of my 365 of 40 challenge. The week started last Sunday at Byron Bay, where I got to test out the Miniature filter. It basically keeps a horizontal slit across the middle of the image sharp, and blurs the top and bottom, to give a tilt-shift effect. Apparently looking down on subjects provides the best results....

In this photo, I tried out the macro function, which I'm loving! I'm still stalking the Canon 100mm f/2.8 L macro lens for my SLR bodies, but the in-camera macro feature on the G12 is pretty damn good for a compact camera. Hand-made Italian bickies, anyone??

More macro fun, as I reminisced about Thai food and this model of a Thai food cart we bought in Bangkok over Christmas. Love the detail in the photo considering it was all about 10cm tall.

Trying out a bit of food photography, with a *very* tasty hot chocolate from our local Italian gelato bar. Hot chocolate so thick you could stand the spoon up in it...loving the fact that the G12 is small enough to fit in my handbag, and whip out at restaurants :)

I think there's a theme starting to develop here....more macro food photography, with the hand-made gnocchi created by Michael. The only real issue with this shot was that the steam from the pasta kept fogging up the glass. Fabulous gnocci though!

Here I played around with some wilting birthday roses. The G12 has in-camera post-processing options, like overlaying colour filters. Here, I photographed the roses in colour and converted them to sepia in camera. I also used the iContrast feature to bump up the contrast. There are other filters like B/W, vivid colour, selective colour. All the more reason to keep going with this camera...I haven't yet used them all!

And finally today's shot - having a bit of fun with some film I found in the back of two of my old film cameras my parents had retrieved from their garage and decided to finally lay rest at my place. More macro photography - the camera was just a couple of centimetres away from the film.

Feel free to follow the challenge each day on my Facebook page or my Flickr stream :)

Loving the G12! Is it as good as the 7D for still life images?

It was *yet* another wet weekend in Brisbane, and I had a bit of time to photograph some of the beautiful flowers I received for my birthday last weekend.

I thought I'd experiment and shoot the same flower set up...with the G12 vs the 7D + 24-70mm L lens. We're talking about a $2,400 difference in the cost of the gear taking the photo here...

Here are the two images....obviously the composition is slightly different, but both were shot hand held in a light tent to give this high key effect....for the image shot with the 7D, I used an off-camera flash. For the image with the G12, there was no flash, I just over-exposed the image by two stops.

Can you pick which image was shot with which camera?

In case you wondering, I shot the first image with the G12 and the second inage with the 7D. For a little compact camera, the G12 and all its manual capabilities is pretty damn impressive, don't you think!