Sunday, August 26, 2012

Initial Thoughts on Wacom Intuos 5

Sunday 26th August 2012

Last Friday I took receipt of a Wacom Intuos 5 Large tablet. I had been looking for a number of years to get a tablet and stylus to make the editing of images that much easier. Wacom appears to have cornered the market so bought the largest version available along with the wireless adaptor and soft carry case. 

I've put together a quick video of the unboxing. Will have to spend a bit more time using the tablet before I can provide my opinion on it. This will be the subject of another video.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

V8 Supercars at Sydney Motorsport Park

Saturday 25th August 2012

Today I had the opportunity to watch the V8 Supercars at Sydney Motorsport Park, also known as Eastern Creek Raceway. My mate Daz scored some free tickets so I along with Daz and three others headed out there just after lunch. By the time we parked the car and walked down to one of the entrance gates it was about 1pm. No cars were racing at that stage so we ended up walking around some of the merchandise stalls before finding a spot on one of the hills.

I have been out to Eastern Creek a number of times to watch the 500cc bikes when Mick Doohan was riding and a number of times to watch the drags. This however was the first time watching the V8 Supercars. It was going to be a new experience.

Throughout the afternoon there were a number of support races featuring all different types of cars, from 1980s Mazda Rx7's through to late model Porsche's. There were some races also featuring open wheelers and a mini version of the V8 Supercars. The performance of all was very impressive.

We also had a fly by from the Sydney Ibis Roulette's before they landed at the tip not too far away. There are so many of them around and they appear to be the bird everyone loves to hate. 

Weather was exceptional. Sunny the entire time we were there. Whilst it was probably only in the low 20C, it felt much hotter and feeling a little sun kissed after being out there all afternoon.

Qualifying for the V8's started around 2.30pm with the race beginning at a touch after 4pm. The sound the cars make whilst lined up on the grid was amazing. That all ended when the lights went green and away they went. We were in a great spot seeing them drive through a number of tricky sections. Watching V8's on TV is certainly enjoyable being there in person, hearing the pop they make when hitting the rev limiter/changing gears is unique. And the sweet smell of the fuel, you don't get that through the tube either. The race in the end was pretty uneventful crash wise. The eventual winner was Craig Lowndes. 

Getting out of the raceway was pretty easy. About a 15 minute walk and only 5 minutes waiting in the car before we exited. I could see myself getting back there at some point. Maybe even the V8's at Olympic Park.

Feel free to watch some of the videos that I took on the day.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Trip booked for Solar Eclipse in November 2012

Saturday 11th August 2012

This year on the 14th November 2012, a total solar eclipse will be visible in parts of Australia and the Pacific. Being located on 3 hours flying time away this is a perfect opportunity to see my first total solar eclipse. It will certainly be a thrilling experience.

Back in August 1999 I was living in the United Kingdom which experienced a total solar eclipse through parts of Devon and Cornwall. I was located just outside of London at the time which was just north of the path of totality. We only experienced 96% coverage of the sun but it gave me a fair idea as to what a total solar eclipse would be like.

My memories of the day are quite clear. The day was clear and someone in the office had welding glass. When the moon started to cover the sun I rushed home and grabbed my video camera. I still have the video on Mini-DV somewhere and will look to put it on YouTube at some point. I can also remember the temperature becoming noticeably cooler at the maximum point of coverage.

When I learnt of the 2012 eclipse in Far North Queensland I booked my leave over a year in advance. This is rare feat for me but such an event is so rare I may as well make the effort to experience one in person. The flights are booked and so is the accommodation. 

Next steps are to prepare to photograph and video the event itself. I've located a nice application called Eclipse Orchestrator which can control when photographs are taken when an eclipse is under way. My intent at this stage is to have 2 Canon EOS DSLRs (7D, 350D) and also a high definition video camera recording. Mounting the three cameras may be a touch difficult but I've spotted a rail system from Giottos that looks very promising. Check it out here ( Added to the mounting rail I probably need a new tripod and a couple of ball heads so will start shopping around.

That's it in terms of an update for now but stay tuned for more as the big day draws closer.

Queen Mary 2 at Circular Quay

Thursday 8th March 2012

To be honest I am a huge fan of grand sailing ships, especially of the Cunard line. Working in Sydney has given me a great opportunity to see the QE2, QM2 and Queen Victoria ships in Sydney Harbour. Out of the three, only the QM2 had not berthed at the Overseas Passenger Terminal. It would instead find a spot at Garden Island but on the 7th/8th March this changed.

When I was reading an online verison of a local newspaper I saw a video of them positioning the QM2 and thought it was fake. Sure enough, it found pride of place between the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. Never to give up an opporunity I decided to pack the cameras to capture some pictures and video of its stay. The weather forecast for the evening of the 7th March/morning of the 8th March was for rain but the bureau of Meteorology said it was going to clear.

It turned out to be a great evening when I got down to Circular Quay by train. The station provides fantastic views over Circular Quay. The QM2 looked huge and the ferries moving past her were tiny in comparison. I took a few shots with the SLR and video before exiting and making my way up to the Cahill Expressway which runs along top of the train line. This too offers fantastic opportunity to capture images and video. I ended up spending around 90 minutes up there taking long exposure shots and ended with me capturing this final image of the QM2 with Sydney Harbour Bridge to the right and Venus and Jupiter in the top left. 

I have around 30 minutes to get down from the Cahill Expressway and take up residence near the Opera House for the QM2's departure. I walked along the East Circular Quay past the bars and restaurants and up to the top level of the Opera House. This gave me good views to the Overseas Passenger Terminal. Just before 8.30pm the tugs positioned themselves to help ease the QM2 into Sydney Harbour. She sounded her fog horn a number of times before getting out into the main channel and turning right to go past Fort Denison before turning left past Bradley's Head. It was at this point that we lost sight of the QM2 but are left with memories of a fine looking ship.

Here is one of the videos that I took....

You can check out more on my playlist here.

An evening with Pablo Picasso

Wednesday 21st March 2012

From mid November 2011 the Art Gallery of New South Wales has been hosting an exhibition called Picaso: masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris. I had walked past the Art Gallery probably 3-4 times a week on my walks around the Sydney Botanical Gardens. Each time the forecourt was full of people coming and going. But like most things I leave it to the lasat minute to get stuff organised and now it was just a matter of days before the exhibition was scheduled to finish.

My sister, Michala, had mentioned going to it and so had the parents. Trying to get to it during the week would have been hard for all of us and weekends were probably going to be too busy. Fortunately Wednesday evenings were open till 10pm so we thought we would give it a shot then. I booked tickets online for 8pm. I had checked with some other people at work to see how much time I should spend walking through. One girl said a number of hours whilst a guy got through in about 45 minutes. Having 2 hours should be plenty of time.

After parking the car at the far end of Mrs Macquarie Point we entered at about 8.15pm along with half of Sydney. It was packed and bordered on unenjoyable. You didn't really get the opportunity to look at a drawing/picture/sketch/painting/object etc for very long before the crowd influenced you to move to the next. I can appreciate however the fact that the exhibition of such a well known artist was going to attract a lot of interest and $$$ for the art gallery so in the long run I see this as a positive.

Picasso was certainly one very talented gentlemen. His early work most people could relate to but he certainly got stranger as time went on. By the end of the exhibition, which featured his later work, it was the style that most people would associate with him. Strange and wierd but full of colour.

I am certainly glad I took the time to see the exhibition. By the looks of it the paintings will make their way to Canada and beyond.