Monthly Archives: April 2012

Money for sh*t…

It’s been an unusual week for stock photo sales. A couple of years ago I wrote about wintering with wombats. One of the photographs I took on that field trip was of the curiously cubic crap of the wombat. The shape, it seems, serves the purpose of preventing the wombat’s droppings from rolling away as it marks out its territory.

Currently Alamy has over 30,000,000 pictures. Do a keyword search for wombat droppings and you’ll get just three pictures. All mine! All mine! My own little niche market. You might be surprised (as I was) to find that this week a publisher in the United States paid $500 to use this picture. OK, now don’t all rush out and start shooting wombat shit. For most of you, it’s going to be almost as hard to find as that proverbial rarity, rocking horse sh*t…and with this sale, I imagine I’ve probably filled all the requests there’s likely to be for this particular subject.

Money for sh*t. This picture of the curiously rhomboid shaped wombat droppings sold again this week.© Rob Walls 2011

The other unusual picture sale this week, was of this poignant memorial which was erected in the outback New South Wales town of Broken Hill almost 100 years ago.

Monument in Broken Hill, New South Wales, to the bandsmen of the RMS Titanic who went down with the ship off Newfoundland on 15th April, 1912 © Rob Walls 2011

A moving memorial to the musicians of the RMS Titanic in the Australian outback mining town of Broken Hill. This picture was licensed for use in an audio-visual in Ireland.

Now, just in case you can’t avoid the temptation, I’ll warn you in advance; comments that refer to me as a “sh*t photographer” are unlikely to be published:-)

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Filed under Australia, Australian, Digital photography, documentary photography, Music, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, Rob Walls, Stock photography, Tasmania, travel

Uluru – in three Polaroids

Uluru in three Polaroid prints, 1980 © Rob Walls 1980

Mining the old Polaroid print archive, I came across this series I shot of Uluru in Central Australia, 32 years ago….

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Filed under art, Australia, Australian, Photographer, Photography, travel

The new iPad as camera…

Having bought the new iPad for its dazzling display qualities, I finally got round to checking out what its improved camera could do. Now, with a brace of Nikon DSLRs and a Canon G11, I’m not especially in need of another camera, but driven by curiosity I decided to give it a run. Perhaps I should issue a warning here that this is not a serious review because the iPad camera is not a serious camera.

First up, its handling characteristics  make you look like an idiot, 50 years of working as a pro photographer has long ago inured me to what people think of me while I’m shooting pictures. The Ipad’s screen in bright conditions is practically unusable. This problem prompted me to drag out my old large format dark cloth. It was a great improvement, but stopping the cloth from falling over the lens was difficult. Now I look like a complete idiot, but at least I could now compose a picture effectively.

Using a dark cloth to view the new iPad screen. I call this my iBurka. © Rob Walls 2012

A quick candid shot. I guess one advantage with holding up an iPad is that most subjects, even those familiar with picture taking with a phone, are unaware that you are taking pictures. © Rob Walls 2012

The Cascade Brewery near my home. A picture I took while out for a walk a few hours ago. The iPad screen grid is useful for architectural shots. © Rob Walls 2012

As far as colour rendition is concerned, the new iPad suits my penchant for vivid colour.

To sum up: as a camera it will do in a pinch. The pictures are as sharp as one could expect from a device such as this. Great for taking pictures for a blog, but it’s handling is about as responsive as that big ship in the minutes before it collided with that chunk of ice 100 years ago (couldn’t resist working in a reference to the Titanic). No design changes I can foresee are ever likely to make the iPad into a decent camera, but then again, that’s not what I bought it for. I don’t think, I’ve ever owned a device that has given me more pleasure while contributing so much to my productivity.

Shooting from beneath my iBurka it occurred to me that a fun iPad accessory would be a clip-on dummy set of bellows with a fake tilt shift lens panel and a tripod mount that would make the iPad look like a conventional 10×8 view camera. After all, there is already a cover that disguises the iPhone as a Leica. (please note I am stamping this idea with my ownership right here:-))

Now the truly great thing about photography with the new Ipad is that with picture sharing via Twitter, the iPad camera brings back to my photography much of the playfulness that I used to experience when shooting with the Polaroid SX70. This sense of play is enhanced by the fact that pictures on the iPad are costing me nothing. I used to get free film from Polaroid, so it was the same with the SX70. Being able to shoot oblivious to cost and unhampered by the limitations imposed by knowing that the pictures don’t need to meet a certain quality standard for publication, is a truly liberating experience.

(Now I’d like to explore it’s video possibilities. With the addition of a Movie Mount it actually might even have reasonable handling capabilities. The new iPad mount is expected to be available in a month or so.)

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Filed under Australian, Digital photography, News, Opinion, Photographer, Photography, Photojournalism, Rob Walls

Playful Polaroid photography

While searching for a print today, I came across a little packet of Polaroids. In the fag end of the 80s I had occasional gigs as a consultant to Polaroid. I worked on product launches for several cameras as well as a range of their films. While Polaroid paid well for my involvement, they were also very generous with film and cameras. The copious supply of free film allowed me to indulge in a photographic playfulness that I only rediscovered with the arrival of digital photography. Here are a few of my favourites:

A roller door with graffiti in the Sydney suburb of Chippendale. Coincidentally Otis, the lift manufacturer had it UK headquarters in the town of Reading. © Rob Walls

A pre-Photoshop experimental promotional photograph for Polaroid. That's right a straight photo, no trickery other than the finest nylon filament I could find to suspend the camera against the sky. © Rob Walls

Chinese restaurant, Hobart, Tasmania 1990, displaying sign "MSG used only on request". © Rob Walls

Portrait of Jack Hewett in mask against a Javanese Batik © Rob Walls

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Filed under art, Australia, Australian, Photographer, Photography, portraits, Rob Walls