Gear Acquisition System: Olympus Air A01 

Gear Acquisition System (GAS) is a very real threat to one’s sanity, as it can rob you of focus on photography while appearing (at least to oneself) to do the opposite: the time one spends focussing on more or better photographic apparatuses is time not spent on improving one’s photographic technique through practical application. 

For the past few years I have indulged in more GAS and subsequent research than I care to admit – to be honest, it’s one of my escape mechanisms when I don’t want to get sucked into the whirlpool of over-thinking a problem (it’s an out of the frying pan into the fire type of result!).

A couple of months ago I found myself clicking Buy it Now on a used Olympus Air lens-style camera eBay, downloaded the app that you need to use with it, and waited excitedly for it to arrive. When it did, I leaped through a couple more technological hoops to get it to work, and spent a very brief time that night shooting with it, then repacked it and put it on the shelf with some other unloved gear, similarly acquired. 

Why didn’t I persevere? Because in the intervening years since I briefly had a Sony lens-style camera (the 1″ sensor type), I had forgotten that I didn’t enjoy the experience of a user, despite liking the end result. It also turns out that I really like having an electronic viewfinder and a conventional camera body to hold. Fortunately, I sold it quickly and for what I paid for it, so there was nothing lost by the purchase, and the buyer had a different plan for it as a drone camera.

This photo is the only one I took that I kept from that experiment – naturally, it was taken using the in-camera grainy monochrome mode I’ve always loved in Olympus cameras.

Hamilton Sheepvention: nurture

Farming is all about nurturing, and Sheepvention is all about nurturing sheep, as can be seen by this little boy’s actions in feeding a straw of hay to a penned sheep. As I wandered around the showgrounds, where the two-day event is held, I kept my camera close, and wasn’t disappointed: everywhere I looked there were family members of all ages, enjoying the spectacle. 

Panasonic Lumix DMC GX7 with 14-140mm lens and in-camera black and white filter. 

My Kinda Carry: how I made a dual-camera sling 

When a friend asked me to shoot her wedding, which was held a few months ago, I agreed to be second shooter, as I am not a professional and don’t have the experience or skills required to get the shots that people usually expect. This worked out well, as it left me to shoot documentary-style most of the day, which is what I do best. 

In the time leading up to the wedding, which was actually delayed for eighteen months after the bride was involved in a very serious collision with a truck, I had a lot of time to think about (obsess over) all the details I needed to make sure I had right. Aside from working my way through a passing parade of cameras and lenses to get a kit I was confident with, I spent time working out how to comfortably carry two cameras.

One idea that really caught my eye was the Holdfast Gear Money Maker  which is a beautiful bit of kit, but given I had no plans to keep two cameras around after the job, and certainly couldn’t justify the expense, I set out to make my own version. 

For a while I had been using a silk necktie as a camera sling, worn cross-body style, and loved how light and comfortable it felt, so I applied the same principle to making a double sling. I ordered a couple of swivel clips, slide buckles and jeans buttons online for a few dollar, and found ties in complementary colours in a thrift shop – this all cost around ten dollars. 

To make one, you will need: 

  • 2 neckties, approximately the same width and length – you could go all-out and get two the same! 
  • 2 swivel clips, 2.5cm wide (something like these), or a tripod quick release clip if you prefer to use them
  • 2 slide buckles, 3-4cm wide (like these)
  • 1 2-piece jeans button (like these)
  • Safety pins 

Here are the steps to put it all together:

  1. You want the two ties to join and make a figure 8.
  2. Start by putting a tie over each shoulder, with the wide end sitting at the top of your chest and the narrow end hanging down your back. They’re slippery, so it helps to pin them in place to your clothing.
  3. Grab the narrow end of one tie and bring it up under the opposite arm to the wide end of the other tie. Slip on a swivel clip (or tripod quick release clip if preferred) and let that drop down. Now take a slide buckle and thread the narrow end through it, then take the wide end of the tie and thread it through in the opposite direction to, and over the top of, the narrow end. Use a safety pin to pin the tie to stop the buckle working loose when there’s weight hanging on the swivel clip. (You can stitch this if you prefer a neater finish, once you have positioned the sling to your liking, but using a safety pin keeps it adjustable.)
  4. Repeat the previous step on the other side. 
  5. Remove the pins holding the ties at your shoulders if you haven’t already. 
  6. The last part is to determine the best intersect point at the centre back. To work this out, attach the clips to a camera lug at either side, and move about as you would when shooting. Use a sturdy safety pin to get the right position – for me, this was higher up my back between my shoulder blades. 
  7. When you have found the “sweet spot”, place the jeans button halves on the front and back sides of that point, so that the spike will pierce through both ties and join the smaller metal half. This is not easily removed, so make sure to get this step right! Hammer the two pieces together. I used a jeans button because I wanted a strong pivot point, but you may find an alternative works for you. 
  8. Try on and admire your new bit of kit. The weight of the cameras keeps it in place once you’re shooting, and if you don’t stitch the shoulder join, you can adjust the straps to the desired length. 

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: front view; shoulder buckle detail; swivel clip detail; back view; button detail back side; button detail front side. 

For everyday carry with one camera, I have a variety of thrifted ties, that I swap the buckle and clip on, to suit my outfits – it’s comfy and gets lots of compliments! It also helps protect my camera when stored in my bag.

Leaves Like Fallen: discovering the identity of a native plant 

Say you’re walking around a patch of scrub or remnant vegetation and you see a scattering of green leaves that have fallen onto the ground from somewhere. You’re intrigued, so you kneel down for a closer look and you notice that they’re not fallen, they grew that way. At home you get out your native plant book and learn that they’re the basal leaf of a native orchid, but there’s no flower, so you wonder what will come up. 

The next year, you’re wandering around in that area again and there they are again, but this time there are slugs on them! You kneel down again and see that they’re not slugs at all, they’re the orchid flower and suddenly their identity comes to you: Slaty-helmet orchids! Tricky little doodads. These photos show you how tiny they are – the flower is about the size of my little finger nail. 

I bought a macro lens adapter on Gumtree, and it arrived today, so I rushed up to the amazing nature strip outside my property to investigate properly. The Raynox DCR-250 macro adapter lens did a mighty fine job attached to the zoom lens on my Panasonic Lumix DMC GX7, and has a universal fit so is suitable for many lenses and cameras. 

The lesson is to be watchful, and willing to wait.

Our Local Heroes: Les

Meet Les, one of our local heroes, who was awarded the French Legion of Honour this year for his service as a paratrooper during the D-Day landings of World War II. With a grin and a sparkle in his eye, he talked to me about his wartime service (only briefly, though, as he’s not a particularly sentimental man), immigrating from the UK to Australia in the fifties, and living in the Western District of Victoria. 

Edit: Sadly, I heard a week later that Les passed away. I feel so fortunate to have met him and had this opportunity to make his portrait. What a wonderful fellow.