Rodney Campbell's Blog

Archive for August, 2016

Hoar Frost…

by on Aug.13, 2016, under Life, Photography

More of this amazing hoar frost this morning. Growing crazily off the cold wire fences. This is perhaps old hat for those who live in colder climates. Myself however I rarely if ever get to see this.

Frosted II

Frosted II

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 180 mm, 1/320 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200

Hoar frost refers to white ice crystals. Deposited on the ground or loosely attached to exposed objects such as wires or leaves.

These form on cold, clear nights when conditions are right. Heat radiates out to the open sky faster than it can be replaced from nearby sources such as wind or warm objects. Under suitable circumstances, objects cool to below the frost point of the surrounding air. Well below the freezing point of water. These occur when ground-level radiation losses cool air till it flows downhill and accumulates in pockets of very cold air in valleys and hollows. Hoar frost may freeze in such low-lying cold air even when the air temperature a few feet above ground is well above freezing.

The name hoar comes from an Old English adjective that means “showing signs of old age”. It refers to the frost that makes trees and bushes look like white hair.



NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 170 mm, 1/100 sec at f/8, ISO 100

It was a quarter to nine now and the sun is in theory well and truly up in the sky. We still can’t see the sun however through the still very dense fog in this valley. We’ve been shooting for almost two hours now but no-one is interested in stopping for breakfast yet. Awesome… 🙂

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The Five Trees…

by on Aug.11, 2016, under Life, Photography

I’d never shot in conditions like these before. I was loving it – compositions everywhere and the soft fog had this voluminous luminance – perfection. There were the five trees I was trying to work into a composition. I could see it clearly in my head but I had real troubles executing it to my minds eye.



NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 62 mm, 1/80 sec at f/8, ISO 100

I think the real problem was that there were actually six trees next to each other and not five.

Pro Tip: The Rule of Odds. There’s this photographic adage that compositions are more pleasing when you include odd numbers of things – three, five, seven and so on. Somehow even numbers of things just doesn’t work as well.

So here I was trying to limit the view to 5. I first took this tighter crop with just 5 trees but I really wanted more negative space on the sides. So I widened the view to include all 6 trees with some additional space to the sides with the intention of cloning out that extra tree on the left. Unfortunately the end result wasn’t satisfactory. I could remove the tree fairly successfully but it just didn’t look right. See that tree on the right – it spreads out nicely on the right because nothing is there. On the left however that fifth tree is being pushed and cramped by the tree to it’s left. Thus removing that just leaves an unreconciled space. One day perhaps my Photoshop skills will be up to readdressing that and making that tree feel more whole. Until then this tighter view of the five trees will just have to do :).

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger. To see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer click any of the images below.



NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 230 mm, 1/160 sec at f/8, ISO 400

Hoar frost “growing” off the barbed wire. This stuff was all over the place so it was yet another drawcard this morning. Technically I should have switched to the macro lens (which I’d left in the house). I just had to make do with the long end of the trusty 28-300 I used all this morning.

Frosted I

Frosted I

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, 1/100 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

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Emerge Festival – Exhibition Update

by on Aug.10, 2016, under Life, Photography

Our Entropy Exhibition has been officially included in the Willoughby City Council’s Emerge Festival. This is great news for us. The Emerge Festival is the largest cultural and entertainment celebration on Sydney’s North Shore. With more than 30 events all through September celebrating emerging talent, arts, culture and community.

Every household and business in our community should be receiving their Emerge Festival program soon. #Emerge


I’d originally planned to have my images mounted on black core Gatorboard. I had one test image professionally mounted but I and many of the rest of my group had decided the look just wasn’t quite right. I even tried having one printed on stretched canvas as an alternate option.

Each of those methods had a number of practical benefits to me. However in the end we believed traditional matting and framing would suit my images better.

My ten custom frames have now been made, and we had a massive mat cutting and framing day. Five of us descended on Debs place to cut our mats and begin our framing.

iPhone 6 + iPhone 6 back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 @ 4.15 mm, 1/35 sec at f/2.2, ISO 200

After ten hours of solid work we’d managed to cut most of our mats. As my prints were all ready printed I have even managed to fully frame all of my pieces!

Wow! – what a difference proper mating and framing makes to the images. I mean they looked good just printed on the magic Canson Platine paper. With a mat and in the frame however they just lifted and soared. I may be biased but they look awesome! :).

iPhone 6 + iPhone 6 back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 @ 4.15 mm, 1/35 sec at f/2.2, ISO 100


Our exhibition will be at The Art Space on the Concourse @ Chatswood (Sydney’s North Shore). It’s showing from Wednesday 7th to Sunday 18th September 2016 and entry is Free. If you can make it we’d love to see you there.

What’s Next?:

I’m ready to hang but there’s still a number of other things to sort out before the big day.

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Lighting the Night…

by on Aug.08, 2016, under Life, Photography

Image making out in the freezing cold of the night is one thing but the addition of just a little lighting can go a long way toward enhancing a composition.

I was back out amongst the ruins of the old Glen Davis shale oil works for another evening of fun under the stars. For the second night in a row we had perfectly clear skies. No moon in sight, very little light pollution and a very cool crisp evening with no clouds – perfect.



NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 30 sec at f/2.8, ISO 6400

I’d taken the composition above the previous evening. However I’d bumped the focus ring before taking my shots (pushing the focus past infinity). I didn’t actually notice till I’d moved on to the next composition (a 360˚ panorama) and fixed it. I didn’t however have time to go back and reshoot last night.

Instead as soon as I arrived this evening I went back to the spot and reshot this image. This time with the focus right :). You can only tell the previous nights version is a little soft if you zoom in to 100%. Onscreen with web sized versions you actually can’t tell the difference. However I know! 🙂 so here I present Runaway redone!.

This evening my fellow photographers I was travelling with braved the cold and dark to join me for some astro fun.

Spectral Spaces

Spectral Spaces

NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 30 sec at f/2.8, ISO 6400

I find a little lighting added to the scene via some form of light painting to be essential for these types of night shots. Without the added lighting the foreground and midground would all be just absolute black or black silhouettes set against the night sky.

If the moon was out it would light the landscape for me. I’d also have to adjust the overall exposure to balance the landscape with the sky.

On a clear moonless night with no other light sources – it’s just really really dark!. Without some form of ambient lighting we the photographers need to add something to lift it out of the darkness.

Normally I use my warm LED head torch to do most of my light painting for these types of shots. The first image above is an example of this. Normally I like to do a little cross lighting from the sides (rather than front on which makes everything go very flat). I prefer my Zebralight head torch because I got one with a warm led rather than the normally very cool LED torches available today. It makes a big difference having a warmer light source (more yellow/orange) rather than a very cold blue light.

One other aspect of my torch is that it has multiple brightness levels. From the super bright 1020 lumens down to very low moonlight levels at 3.5 lumens (and even down to 0.4/0.06 and 0.01 lumens).

When shooting the stars at high ISO levels (e.g. ISO 6400 in these cases) you need to use a very low torch brightness setting (I use the low 3.5 lumen level typically). Anything brighter and you’re pretty much guaranteed to blow out whatever you light. Even with this very low moonlight setting you need to be subtle and quick with your lighting. You also need to remember that you need to light things close much less than things further away.

The Red Zone

The Red Zone

NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 30 sec at f/2.8, ISO 6400

I was with some friends who also wanted to learn more about shooting astro and the light painting. So along with lighting with the warm (daylight) light I also did a number of takes with coloured torches.

I’ve included blue and red variants above. One thing to note when using coloured torches is that the different colours have vastly different intensities (even from the same torch at the same power level). Red for instance is very strong and can easily blow out if you’re not careful. You have to be really quick and subtle when using red. I even cover the torch head with my hand and only let some of the light diffuse through my fingers to control the light.

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Staring from the Abyss…

by on Aug.06, 2016, under Life, Photography

I was really hoping to get a shot of one or more cows staring at me through the fog.

Staring from the Abyss

Staring from the Abyss

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 210 mm, 1/40 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

It was actually quite a difficult thing to do. It was very cold and frosty so I don’t think the cows were all that interested in moving around. However they were even less interested in having some photographer stalk them through the long grass. Flight mode kicked in and they’d scatter and wander away (and thus be facing away from me). The secret was to use a long lens and just ever so slowly sneak up without spooking them :).

I have to say the frozen spiderwebs this morning were amazing. All sorts of patterns and shapes. I’m not sure what type of spider weaves this complex mess but it really stands out with frozen dew on the fine web lines.

String Theory

String Theory

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, 1/13 sec at f/8, ISO 100

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger. To see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer click any of the images below.

I’d recce’d this little section of track the day before. I was hoping if it did freeze up overnight that I might be able to use it for a composition like this. The compo looked ok but it was missing something. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long before one of my fellow photographers came ambling by. It wasn’t planned but I’ll take it – tho I did eventually direct her to walk down the centre of the track – thanks Deb :).

Deb definitely wasn’t staring but she was lost in thought as she walked along the lovely country lane. I just kept taking frames until I got the one I wanted.

Frozen in Thought

Frozen in Thought

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135 mm, 1/8 sec at f/13, ISO 100

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