My passport and my 12-24mm lens arrived this week! (see above)
The more I look at my passport, the more I see it as a piece of art rather than an identification document. It has amazingly intricate designs that integrate elements of Australian culture (for example, Australian poems in minuscule print) with complex geometric patterns. The printing technology alone must be very advanced, as to ensure that kind of layer registration and resolution requires extremely high precision and repeatability levels which normal offset printers and inks aren't capable of producing. Additionally it has other unusual elements like monochromatic transparent holograms, ultraviolet inks and punched identification numbers (in decreasing size, with halos of UV ink). Looking at it under a UV source makes it come alive with colour; brilliant red in the designs of each of the unique pages, electric blue hidden serial numbers and tiny thread-like flecks of varied patterns and arrangements embedded in the paper. Even the seam sewing is UV reactive. If you have a recent Australian passport, check it out under a black light some time. Even the plain navy blue exterior has a hidden UV pattern. On a related note, in a few more months all new Australian passports will be issued with embedded chips to store biometrics and other info as part of the USA's new passport entry regulations. Weirdly, people who have a current passport won't be required to have the chip when entering the USA, so that means I won't need it for another 10 years (which kind of makes you wonder what the point of introducing it is).
The new camera lens is sweet. Unfortunately I was asleep when the courier came; having only gone to bed a few hours prior there was no way a doorbell was going to wake me, or indeed anything else shoot of a magnitude 7 earthquake. By the time I did wake up the courier had already finished their delivery run and taken it back to their depot in a neighbouring town, so later that afternoon I drove there to pick it up in person. It was also a good excuse to stop by my favourite pie store there! Mmmm, pie. It took a little longer than expected (about 40 minutes each way) due to road works.
I've only had a few opportunities to take photos with it as each time I head out it starts to rain, so the above photo will have to do for now. I'll post more in the coming days. Apologies for the low frequency of updates in the past week, it wasn't my intention. Now, time to get a break from consciousness...
Since it's been nearly a week since the last update I decided it was time to throw a few more pics online. Work has kept me particularly busy this week, so this has been low on the To Do list.
I found this sign while walking around the harbour near a new area of large seawater basins. I'm not sure what these areas are being used for, maybe they are something to do with the local scallop farm or a similar venture. The basins, which are a few hundred metres long and an extension to the east harbour wall, are surrounded by a continuous high fence. While all of the other gates into the area were padlocked, the gate next to this sign had been left wide open. Presumably the sign is enough of a deterrent. There's good reason not to enter though, as the banks of the basins are high and steep; if you fell into the water it would be difficult to climb back out.
As of tomorrow my new Nikon 12-24mm (f/4.0) AF-S DX lens should be on its way! I'll post some experimental photos when it arrives next week. The extension tubes I ordered last week are on back order and won't arrive until around the middle of next month.
I was invited on a little trip on a restored steam train that operates out of my home town. My nephew is really into trains (though mostly of the mass-marketed 1500-accessories Thomas the Tank Engine variety), so it was quite an experience for him. For me it was a nice opportunity to do some more photography, plus things that run on steam are cool.
Half way through the trip I realised that the eyecup on my D70 had disappeared. It must have rubbed against my shirt and fallen off when I was sheltering the camera from the soot (and yes, getting soot in your eyes really does hurt as much as older, wiser people will tell you!). I did a Google, found the replacement part, then ordered two; it seems that having the eyecup fall off is fairly common on the D70 (which is surprising, since you have to slide it up to remove it).
Captured, locked up, forced to perform tricks and transported around Australia in the back of a truck for the sake of entertainment. The circus is coming to town.
Yesterday I completed the last step of the passport application process. Two to three weeks from now I should receive a little Registered Mail package...
Meanwhile I'm very close to purchasing a hideously expensive Nikon 12-24mm AF-S DX ultra wide lens, which sports an impressive 99 degree angle of view. I was originally looking at the Nikon 10.5mm AF-S DX, which has an amazing 180 degree angle of view, but it's a fisheye lens (so everything appears warped). Being a fisheye with that angle of view, although it produces cool images, it's not very practical for 99% of wide angle shots, which is why I'm opting for the more expensive 12-24mm non-fisheye lens.
The weather wasn't great for taking photos today (lots of rain), so here's one from a little while back - the classic chore of dragging upwind. Below is a (polarised) shot from the other day after launching a kite for some guy I didn't catch the name of. The size of these kites can be very deceptive; when they're up in the air they don't look particularly big, but this one has a 12 metre area (and they go up to about 20 metres). The lower your weight and/or the higher the wind speed, the smaller the kite you need, lest you find yourself the unwilling participant in a spectacular loft, flailing dangerously high above sea level.
I've ordered a set of Kenko extension tubes through the local camera store which may or may not take a long time to arrive. When they do arrive you can expect to see some macro experiments posted here.
And now, sleep.
I've decided that all future photos will be at least 752 pixels wide, because 600 pixel just isn't enough. I've had to reduce the menu a little, but I think it's better this way - now the photos are larger and contain more of their original detail. To kick things off, here's a pic I took the other day of a cat that hangs around here a lot. It's a stray that thankfully now has a bell collar; it likes to harass lake wildlife. I regularly find it stalking the back windows of an evening, trying to claw its way up the screens to catch geckos visible against the interior light (the geckos are, in the same way, trying to catch mosquitoes).
I survived that nasty insect bite, though I did catch a cold over the weekend (it was just a matter of time). The Lian Li card reader arrived and has made the job of transferring images vastly easier. It creates a virtual drive for each card slot - quite handy. A few hours were spent at the harbour on Saturday, which is always an interesting place to take photos, so I'll post a few of those in the coming days. I'm going to try to get myself into the habit of posting several photos a week, which should be a good way to force myself to learn more about the camera and photography in general.
Today I had passport photos taken as part of the process of applying for a passport (obviously; what other need would I have for passport photos?). They look pretty funny, which is to say that they're an accurate representation of what I look like. The requirements for the photos have changed recently due to the new biometrics system. For example, you now must have a neutral expression in your passport photo; if you're smiling there's a high probability that the photo will be rejected by The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade because it decreases the accuracy of biometric data, and those in Miniluv wouldn't want that, would they? There was one question on the main application which I found subtly humorous: "Are you an identical twin?"
Finally, I'll leave you with a recent pic of one of the kiteboards (this design was on one of the boards that was ordered today).