A bit of history...

So how much experience do you have?

A fair question.  Folks can talk it up as much as they want, but can they prove it.

I was given my first camera when I was six, and I developed my first film aged nine.

Turning professional in 1982, I shot news pictures for a number of newspapers such as The Parkes Champion Post and  Sydney’s Daily Telegraph for nine years, The Sydney Morning Herald, Macquarie Publications and Western Newspapers.  For several years I mentored journalists throughout the central west of NSW.

In the late 1980s I went to TAFE to further  my skills, but on the first day was appointed  darkroom teacher.

In 2001 I went  to La Trobe University at Bendigo, but was told I should be applying for a teaching position – alas, none were available.

In 1994 I moved to Echuca, Victoria and worked as chief photographer at the Riverine Herald for eight years before branching out and shooting  television news for the Nine and WIN Networks since 2003.

In late 2017 I started working as a full time news camera operator and editor with the WIN network at the Shepparton bureau.

Im lucky. Friends have emailed me with photos they have shot of me at work in the 
early and mid 1980s..

The first is of me at a wedding in Parkes (Central West NSW) with my wedding rig... two Pentax ME-Super camera bodies (each with drive) with a 35-70 zoom on one, and an 80-200 on the other. Both fitted with Metz CT-45 flashguns and a bag full (well, ten rolls of 36 exposure Fuji Velvia film).

Im holding a Gossen Lunasix F light meter (and flash meter) working out the light - and flash power settings.. ahh the days before TTL flash metering!!!

You had to work out the exposure BEFORE tripping the shutter, decide if fill flash was to be used, and then work out the flash power setting required to fill in shadows and keep the shot natural looking...

I still have the flashguns and the Lunasix F... but as I would wear out the Pentax's shutter mech every six months, they were replaced by Nikons.  Which by the way are STILL going!

 The second was taken by Parkes Historian Ian Chambers in the late 1980s at the opening of the Stephen Davies Synthetic Hockey Field in Parkes.  I'm at the far right of the pic..

I was working freelance for the Parkes Champion-Post newspaper at the time.  That's in addition to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph

The camera on my shoulder is a motorised Nikon F3 with a Nikkor 300mm f4 lens - which I stupidly sold to buy a 400mm lens. In my hand was another motorised F3 with an 80-200 and Metz 45-CT1 Mecablitz flash.

I still have one of the F3 bodies and the 80-200 f2.8 ED... AND the jacket!!

The amazing thing is the 80-200 f2.8 is one of the sharpest lenses I have ever used. Jen has a new 80-400 ED VR, and its just as sharp as that - 25 or so years down the track!!  Oh, and it works perfectly with the current generation of Digital Nikon cameras.. with AF!

My Mentor

When I picked up the camera in the 1980s, I bought an Pentax ME Super from Diamond's Pharmacy of Parkes.  It cost me $350.

An expensive purchase, yes, but one that opened up an enthralling hobby and a reluctant career.

Within weeks, of buying the camera I was a regular at Diamonds, and became a member of the Parkes Camera Club.

But it was Con and Betty Diamond who were to have the biggest influence in my life.
Not only did he become my photographic mentor over the next 20 or so years he was also my second dad.

He would encourage me to explore the combinations of aperture and shutter to control depth of field, and also their varying effect with telephoto lenses from 16mm up to 400mm.

While my dad taught me the basics - the ASA-aperture-shutter relationship from the age of six, and taught me to develop and print black and white prints, it was Con who encouraged my creativity.

In  January 1982 I was asked to shoot a friends wedding.  I would love to post a pic here, but.. she has the negatives!  Rightly so. I believe the negs belong with the client.

A few months later I spoke to Roel ten Cate (pronounced Role Tencarter) who was the managing editor of the Parkes Champion Post newspaper about a major function happening on a weekend at my workplace, the Radio Telescope.

He said he did not have a weekend photographer available, but if I called in and picked up a roll of film, he would see if he could use any of the pix I shot.

A week later he had a new weekend and after hours photographer,  Me.


The Pentax ME Super with 2fps autowinder.
It was badly let down by the dog clutch connection bending away from the camera body when the grip was used. metering was centre weighted.

The Nikon F3 with MD-4 4fps motordrive and 8x AA battery pack.
While the motor was great for sport action, it was having eight AA batteries in the grip that boosted the cameras reliability to 100%.  I fitted it with a different back that stopped the automatic rewind (yes!!!) and left about 1cm of leader out of the cassette to make life easier loading spools in the darkroom.

One of my favourite pieces of machinery. The Nikon F4E, with its  eight AA battery grip.  the motordrive was built in, and Nikon sold this camera in three variants; the F4 without any battery grip, the F4S with a wedge shaped six AA battery grip and to give it the ultimate in reliability an 8 cell grip.

This camera featured full AF as well as matrix metering, and when used with the Nikon speedlights gave me the best opportunity to work on composition, rather than doing the exposure and fill flash ratio math... the flash synch speed was upped from 1/60 to 1/250.

Oh... and all cameras still work!

The glass...

The Nikkor 80-200mm f2.8 ED lens.   just like any other 80-200 but with a max aperture of f2.8, lightning quick autofocus and razor sharp Extra Dispersion (ED) glass.   Ive used this for close to 25 years and its just as good as the day I bought it.
Weighing in at a couple of  kilos the Nikkor 400mm f3.5 ED manual focus lens is a great lens for sport such as AFL, NRL Cricket and yes.. airshows.  Its manual focus and you reeeally have to be critical with the focussing.  for most things you need it sitting on a monopod, but with airshows you tend to get a sore shoulder, as the camera and lens comes close to five kilos.

The filter at the front is 160mm, and the UV filter cost me $350 in 1994.
I bought this from the Adelaide Advertiser who bought it especially for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and once the games were over... they wanted to sell their gear.

Footnote;; Pictures are nicked from the Internet as my old gear is locked up in storage...


A little bit more about The Amazing Picture Factory..

When out and about on assignment we frequently get asked "so what newspaper do you work for?"

Many folks are unsure of the camera and assume its just a newspaper photographer with a stupid big camera.

For our stills work, we exclusively use Nikon (film and) digital cameras with their renowned optics, including the sharpest there is; ED glass.

For Video work, we use Sony Broadcast cameras such as below.

These two video cameras are what we use for our weddings, corporate and deb balls - and yes, news.

We do a lot of work for Nine news as well as WIN and have Seven news on the books as well.
Even TEN News  AND the ABC send us out on stories for them!

*ALERT*  techie stuff ahead.

This is my favourite camera. the Sony DSR570WS. it has the same three CCD, 2/3 inch chip as the legendary DigiBeta (THE Gold standard) and puts out an image that is simply stunning. Mind you, the other camera off to picture left is identical!  All our gear is fitted with radio receivers for the range of microphones we have as well as our portable audio mixing desk for special events.

One of our achievements is a documentary on the Echuca Wharf refurbishment, especially where it came to filming the move of a 30 metre long shed from one end of the wharf to the other.

The shed before it was moved to the left of picture..

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