Mt Macedon: the winter experience

Without a doubt, Mt Macedon is just as beautiful in Winter as it is in Autumn and Spring. The greenery and smell of fresh air is something you don’t often see everyday. The lovely country town is less than an hours drive from Melbourne, being 66 km away from the CBD. Drive along the Calder freeway and you’re there. My girlfriend and I picked a week during our Uni break to get away from everything and explore the in’s and outs of Mount Macedon and the surrounding area. Here is a little recap of our stay.
Accommodation

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We decided to Airbnb our stay in the nearby town of Macedon, it was cheaper and closer to the essentials. I would highly recommend the place where we stayed, it was modern and contained everything we could possibly think of! It was a well furnished apartment with an amazing front garden. The place was not too far away from the main strip of shops and a 15 to 30 minute drive from the many places we were to visit.

Macedon

The first town we explored was Macedon which contained some amazing restaurants and cafes. We ate at Ida Red, a wood fire pizza place with a touch of Japanese. The interior decoration was warming and had a lovely atmosphere. (Do definitely try their vegetarian pizza). Another place we ate at was Mr Cafe. They had a wide range of breakfast options and we couldn’t resist having their eggs benedict with their apple hollandaise sauce. Both eateries were well priced. Just across the road was a small IGA, PSA: they have Ben and Jerry’s. The night we ate at Ida red, we went to buy some Ben and Jerry’s for our desert, however they had closed. We were determined to get our ice-cream and drove the distance to Kyneton to get our ice-cream, disappointingly it was a dollar more expensive than the smaller Macedon IGA. The town itself is very easily accessible.

Camels Hump

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A view you have to see, unless it’s foggy. We had to visit Camels Hump twice, first time we went up when it was really foggy and we could barely see past 10m in front of us, would not recommend unless you want some moody misty photos. The second time we went up was for sunset, the trek up is easy and is done within 15 minutes. The view blew our minds, you could see other country towns, hanging rock and all. There even is a plaque which points to other famous landmarks you could possibly see. The sunset view is gorgeous and I would highly recommend visiting Camels Hump as a sunset location.

Memorial Cross

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One of the major attractions of Mount Macedon includes this 21m tall cross commemorating those who gave their lives to the first world war, 1914-1918. There are many looks out to view nearby towns and on a clear day you can spot the Melbourne CBD in the distance as well as the Dandenong ranges. At Sky-high, the plague points towards Mount Macedon. The gardens leading up to the cross are gorgeous, even in winter, and looking out into the distance, all you can see are fields of green and forestland. It is an incredible look-out and a perfect walk. Be wary during winter, the road can be covered by frost as well as fog.

Forest Glade Gardens

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When I was younger, I visited this garden during Autumn and it was absolutely stunning, the colours and atmosphere was lively. As this garden is open all year round, we decided to explore the garden and see what has changed and I got to say, it keeps getting better. The greenery was incredible and there were still plants shedding their leaves. We were the only two visitors in the garden during our visit, which gave the garden a sense of peace and tranquility. The sculptures and different gardens within the garden are a sight to behold. Everywhere you looked, you could see the different landscaping techniques and styles and the wide range of plants. It was a delight to photograph in this garden and I strongly recommend anyone who has an interest in photography to come visit, prime lenses would be the recommendation to capture the crispness of the flowers. The $10 entry fee is definitely worth it.

Hanging Rock

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Situated within a 10 minute drive from Mt. Macedon, the infamous Hanging Rock and its mysteries lay bulging out of the flat land. To many, Hanging Rock would be best known and recognised for the story and film adaption; Picnic at Hanging Rock. Inside the park contains many different rock formations, which all follow a trail. The walk is rather steep and it is recommended to take breaks when ascending to the top. Be mindful the rocks can be slippery when wet and there are no safety barriers if you happen to slide off the edge. The view from the top is incredible, you have a complete 360 degree view, barely being intruded by other rocks or trees. Furthermore, there is a cafe and race-course nearby which adds tourism to the rock. I recently learned about the deal Frontier touring have with the Macedon shire council, which means they are to host 4 shows a year at Hanging Rock. In 2017, the announced tours include Ed Sheeran, Bruce Springsteen and Midnight Oil. There is a entry fee that is based off the vehicle you enter in, a car being $5.

Turpin Falls

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Do not shy away from the dirt road and death warning signs, this is a hidden freshwater swimming hole gem! The billabong is larger than an Olympic swimming pool and is a very popular diving location. Be warned of the water level as there have been several injuries. Unfortunately it was winter and we didn’t go for a swim, however I would definitely revisit this waterfall in the summer. It was a great picnic location and was completely secluded. The waterfall itself has plenty of water flowing. Be mindful the car park is small and has been reported to be very crowded during the summer months. Fortunately we were the only ones there.

Trentham Falls

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In order to maximize your experience here, avoid the signs at your own risk. The path has been blocked off due to unstable cliffs, however when we visited, everyone was walking along the path. There is a viewing platform a short walk from the car park, but it barely captures the essence of the waterfall with trees hindering your view. Once you walk down the trail, you see the wonderful nature of this waterfall, it is absolutely stunning. We walked to the bottom of the waterfall for some photos and also down the creek. The waterfall is so much more impressive from the bottom and along the creek. The flowing water and the greenery along the creek made my jaw drop. With the sun just peaking through the clouds, a rainbow can be seen at the waterfall, making the entire experience majestic. I would recommend shoes that have grip, unless you want to slide down your bottom. The location is easily found and is definitely worth a visit.

Closing thoughts

My girlfriend and I had an incredible time at Mount Macedon, exploring the various landmarks and eateries. We would definitely recommend spending at least two days to capture the beauty of the place. In order to capture the beauty of the town, the locals we spoke to work in Melbourne but are willing to spend an hour or two to travel to and fro as they don’t want to leave the peace and serenity of Mount Macedon. Every place you visit is unique and will be an unforgettable experience.

Upcoming: Cryptocurrency November

Big things are on the way, sit tight, sign up to Coinspot and await the release.

To give on insight, we suggested to buy BTC for the month of October when it was $5,400 AUD and currently it sits at around $7,800. That is an $2,400 increase in the matter of 3 weeks! Our advice as of the 22nd is to DUMP Bitcoin. If you are after Bitcoin Gold, the block at which they determine who gets Bitcoin Gold has already passed. You have 4 more days until the fork happens, Sell now at it’s highest point and buy into the bleeding altcoins. You will receive your bitcoin gold if you’ve stored your bitcoin on a wallet, make sure to bring your bitcoins off an exchange to get the gold, aka “free money”.

XLM, stellar lumens, saw a jump from around $0.002262 all the way to $0.006048. This is a near 300% increase we saw in just 2 days! Stellar will continue to increase up until $1.00 in 2018. Our advice is to hodl for 1 year, Do not sell.

NEO, we saw a recent pump from $34.23 all the way to around $42.02 in the month of October. Currently it is advised to hold onto NEO and accumulate GAS by holding NEO on a wallet. GAS essentially is your dividend for holding onto NEO. We expect big things from NEO in the coming months with news from the Chinese government.

October Monthly Picks; XLM NEO BTC

Article releasing 8th November.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer

The information in this website and the links provided are for general information only and should not be taken as constituting professional advice from the website owner – bkmedia.co

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Photography on a budget: 5 Awesome Props

One common way to up your photography game is to shoot with different props placed in front of the lens or placed onto your subject. Light deflection is a common way to take a boring photograph and turn it into some very unique and captures a different perspective. Each of the items discussed all came under the price tag of $15 (AUD) so roughly $10 (USD) and I highly recommend you invest in these to create your own unique style. Each of these items do not have one specific use, they can be used in many different forms, allowing you to expand your creativity!

LED LIGHTS

Fairy string lights are a very common prop that is used alot in low light photography, mainly for portraits to light up the subjects face and create some killer bokeh. One common instagram user is Brandon Woelfel, who creates incredible portraits that makes full use of these lights. Not only this, these LED lights are easy to carry, extremely cheap and reflect off any smooth surface at night. Chuck your portraits into lightroom or photoshop and edit them to create some very creative shots. Let your subject hold the lights or wear the lights, it’s completely up to you and make sure you buy tonnes of AA batteries. Not only this, you can place the LED lights into a mason jar and place the jar wherever you seem fight. This is mostly used in the golden hour of the sunset at the beach. Place the mason jar with the lights on in the water and capture the waves crashing into the jar to create some awesome effects. Not only this, you can place this jar wherever you want to form a light source. One other use of these lights is to create bokeh for your photos, throw them somewhere in your background and suddenly you will create some really nice bokeh to add to your photo. These lights can be bought in copper or white (yellow or white) and come in a range of different lengths. I bought my 2m one from Ebay for $3.99 (aud) and I absolutely love using them.

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Light Prism

These prisms are the ones used in your physics class, they are incredible little things that can split light, reflect light from different angles and and definitely helps create some whacky photos. They can reflect the light from different angles onto the lens and can also reflect small rainbows onto the lens depending on the light source. The light is dispersed when it travels through the medium(which is the glass prism) and is refracted, meaning that the light comes out of the medium at a different angle compared to the original. You can use these light prisms at anytime of the day, however at night the light produces the best results as it brings in the many different lights from your surroundings.

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Crystal Ball

A very common prop that is used in photography is a crystal ball, a smooth round ball of glass. These balls are very cheap to purchase online from Amazon, Ebay or even your retail home decor store. What they essentially do is refract the incoming light and the outputted light is inverted, creating a very unique flipped look. The images are upside down, meaning you can either flip the image in post to create an awesome effect or leave it the way it is, both work extremely well. These are normally used for landscape photography, it is better to use a telephoto or macro lens here to ensure that you can focus on the ball. However in saying that, prime lenses do also work. Ensure to choose a correct aperture for the lens to ensure the ball is sharp and in focus as well as producing some very nice blurry and bokehlicious backgrounds. You can place the ball wherever you like. If you want, you can also use the crystal ball to cover the edge of your lens to create a prism like effect where it shoots rainbow lights onto your lens to create another cool perspective on your subject.

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CD or DVD

Use any old CD or DVD that is laying around and find a light source to reflect these rainbow colourful lights onto your subject. I’m sure when you were younger you used to point the reflection at your friends whilst swapping out DVDs. Now you can reflect the light onto your subject or even onto your lens to create some cool effects. Having the light reflect onto your subject gives then a rainbow face, which is definitely a unique look in portrait photography. This would be the cheapest item on the list as I’m sure you would have plenty of discs lying around the house.

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Sample Physics IA ideas and questions

Before you look at the list, remember that personal engagement is a category in the physics IA, this essentially gives you free “bonus” points if you can relate to it. If you can’t relate to it, make something up about how you used to do something close to the topic, like if you decide to do something water related with waves you could say you used to be a swimmer and you have always pondered about how water works.
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Think of a hobby you have an interest in and see where the physics lay in your hobby. This could be musical instruments, sports, photography, computers and technology. All of these have physics behind them. Then think about what you are most curious about or even what’s something that is physics related but always overlooked? This could be the string vibrations and the wave pattern formed by a guitar string, or the amount of air that is in a basketball and its effect on the bounce of a ball. These are questions you should start thinking about, open up a new document and write down your hobby and then branch out from there. This method will ensure that you will fulfill the personal engagement criteria completely! This will help you maximize your marks to have a killer physics IA.

Now let’s get into some examples to get that brain ticking!

Liquid based:

  • How the depth of water will affect a wave
    • Changing water temperature, depth of water and distance travelled
  • Testing how sugar affects the refractive index of water
    • Changing the amount of sugar in the water, temperature of the water, depth of water
  • How does temperature affect the viscosity of fluids
    • Changing the temperature and using different fluids like water, oil. Drop an object and time how fast it takes to reach the bottom of a test tube as it goes through the liquid. Compare this to air, water etc.
  • Water rocket and the effect of pressure, temperature of the water.
  • The water discharge from a bottle or bucket with a hole in it. 
    • see how far the stream travels depending on the amount of water in the bottle, this is due to the pressure of the water.
  • Refractive index of a laser in wate, how the temperature of depth of the water will have an effect on the laser.
  • Does the depth of a swimming pool affect the maximum speed achieved by a swimmer
  • Factors that affect how fast water is heated up and cooled down, this would take into account specific heat capacity. You could even do this with different materials and try work out the specific heat capacity of each material and see how adding salt will affect the time it takes to heat up or the specific heat capacity. You can work out the energy applied by using a kettle with known wattage the how long you heat the liquid for.

Mechanical based:

  • Dropping different balls at different height, see how the material, pressure, diameter all affect how the balls bounce after being dropped.
  • Create your own truss bridge out of spaghetti and see how the bridge holds up when you change the length of the spaghetti members, the amount of reinforcing will affect the amount carried and also the different truss designs.
  • What is the relationship between the radius of a ball and its terminal velocity when falling freely through air?
  • Frequency of a pendulum swing, change the length, weight, and relate it to how you see that in movies the actors swim the pendulum to trick them.
  • Changing the weights, length of a catapult and seeing how it affects travel distance and speed.
  • Investigating a slinky and see what factors may affect it.
  • Investigating factors that affect the lift of a drone
    • Change the length of rotor blades, amount of rotor blades and shape of the rotor blades.
  • Investigating the factors that affect the flight of an elastic band
    • This can be done through changing the length, thickness, angle, strain and temperature.
  • Investigating how the height of an object will affect its travel distance/speed
    • This can be done by dropping a hot wheels car through a loop and see how the height affects its speed and what is the minimum speed to make it through the loop.
    • Dropping an object with a parachute, seeing how the height at which you drop it affects the speed, minimum height to reach terminal velocity and perhaps changing how the parachute is designed.
    • Creating an air cannon to shoot a potato or an object, see the effects of pressure, length of tubing before the projectile is shot out.
    • Nerf guns and how changing the spring inside them will affect the speed of the nerf gun. (you can buy mods with different spring strengths)
    • Nerf guns and how the angle, bullet thickness will affect the trajectory.
    • Shooting a bow and arrow and see how the tension in the bow string affects the distance travelled, speed and also the angle at which you shoot the arrow. Use video cameras and cameras to capture the data. (can also be done with a slingshot)
  • How weights at the end of a fidget spinner affects the speed it rotates.
    • Please don’t actually do this, but it will be interesting as you can speed it up using a drill
  • How the elasticity of a band will affect the speed of a record player.
    • If you still have one of these at home, this is a very interesting experiment and you will be surprised at how a subtle difference in elasticity and affect the tune of a played song.

Electrical based:

  • How the internal resistance changes in a cell due to various factors
    • This could be changing the length of time it is used, the temperature of the cell and the type of cell (they are made from many different materials)
  • How the thickness and length of a wire changes the resistance
  • Resistivity of different liquids, changing the liquid type of temperature, changing the amount of salt in water and see how it affects the conductivity of water. Remember they are inverse.
  • The efficiency behind different light sources such as LEDs, halogens and CFLs.
  • How the light affects solar panels
    • Can be done through an electrical pump and how much water it can push through
    • Changing the filters on a solar panel, such as polarising filters to see how they work and stop light from travelling in one direction.
    • You can use a massive work light if you don’t have any sun!

Oscillation and Sound:

  • Reverb time of a large hall or building
  • See how the distance between two stereo speakers will affect the sound and how it is heard. Think of a cinema and see if there are any dead spots, place a two speakers apart and find where there is superposition and where they cancel out!
  • Singing wineglass and how the depth of water affects the sound waves
    • Also change temperature
  • Singing beer bottles and how the depth of water affects the sound waves
    • Also change the temperature
  • Guitar/violin string and Mersenne’s law
    • Changing the tightness of the string and how it affects pitch
    • Seeing the effect of temperature
    • Length of the string and it’s effects

Thermal based:

  • Use any common experiment and change the temperature as one of the variables! This is the easiest to do and can produce some very surprising results!
  • Examining the temperature rise and difference of the air inside the car and outside the car on a hot day. (you will be surprised how hot car’s can get inside!)

Concluding thoughts

I strongly recommend you to look up different youtube videos for inspiration if you are very stuck, you can look at the following channels which tackle some incredible and basic science experiments and thoughts!

Veritasium = https://www.youtube.com/user/1veritasium

King of Random =  https://www.youtube.com/user/01032010814

Sick! Science = https://www.youtube.com/user/SteveSpanglerScience

Home Science = https://www.youtube.com/user/maricv84

Vsauce = https://www.youtube.com/user/Vsauce

Hope it all helps and good luck for your IA!

Beginner Digital Photography: 5 common mistakes

It’s Friday again! (well in Australia it is). This week we will be looking at the 5 common mistakes made by every beginner photographer and how to avoid them. When i first picked up my camera, I pretty much had no idea what I was doing, all I knew was to press the shutter button, I just left in auto and shot whatever I could with no sense of composition or anything! Don’t fret if you do some of these, we all make mistakes when we start off and it’s learning from these mistakes which helps us improve and improve.

Focusing on the wrong subject

I suffered from this mistake the most when I was began shooting my photos and it still happens today when I loose focus. Essentially if you leave your camera on autofocus and let the camera choose the focus points, you often leave your main subject blurry, leaving something else to be in sharp focus. This can be fixed relatively easy. The easiest fix is to change your camera settings to programmed auto, this allows you to choose the different focus points easily. Programmed auto also allows you to change different settings and I found it much easier to learn with. You then change the focus point to your subject, allowing your subject to be sharp. If you plan to take portraits, make sure to focus on the subjects eyes for the best results!

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Blurry and shaky photos

Blurry and shaky photos are a very common sight for a beginner photographer. This would be commonly caused by shooting at a shutter speed that is too low. The higher the shutter speed, the crisper the photo will be. At a lower shutter speed, the camera sensor is subject to the natural shaking of your hands or movement. If you stay very still or use a tripod, you can bring your shutter speed down. However a common rule is to never shoot at a shutter speed that is 1/(your lens focal length). So if you are using a 35mm lens on a crop sensor, you aim to shoot 1/50 and above. You can manually adjust this in the Shutter priority setting, which then the camera automatically adjusts all the other settings to compensate for your shutter speed. The more you are zoomed in, the more vulnerable your shots are.

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Blown exposure

This is a tough one to fix when you are shooting in JPEG. You can do your best to change your ISO settings to a lower setting, however you are better off shooting in RAW and fixing up the photo in post. If your exposure is too low, the grainier the photo will be and discoloring will occur. If your highlights are way too bright, it would be hard to recover the data. A general rule of thumb when shooting in RAW is to make sure your highlights are exposed correctly and then adjusting the shadows which will bring out the data. If your camera struggles to bring up the shadows, overexpose the photo and just bring down the highlights in post processing. If you really want the best results, shoot the scene at different exposures, such as underexposing, over exposing and then compile the image into light room or Photoshop and merge as an HDR, this will give you the best results. Make sure each frame is exactly the same!

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Shooting in the wrong file format

JPEG and RAW are the two files your camera will shoot at. JPEG normally as three settings such as FINE, NORMAL and BASIC. Ensure that you shoot FINE if you want to save your photos as JPEGs and don’t plan to post edit them. If you want to edit them later, save them as RAW files. The biggest mistake is saving the files as normal or basic, these file formats are very compressed and loose a lot of important data that will make your photo become less editable for Instagram and your colours will be off and find some distortions. JPEGs algorithm is an efficient algorithm but looses a lot of detail. The size difference in the file formats will be the amount of data that is on each photo. If you find yourself running out of memory, buy a new or larger SD card.

Angles

This is the biggest mistake beginners make, that is shooting photos from eye level. The reason this mistake is costly is that the photos can turn out to be very bland and mediocre. If you shoot from a different angle, you create a whole new perspective that people don’t normally see everyday, this gives the photo some appeal and creates a mood or a story. Everyone everyday views the world at eye level, however struggle to view the world from down below or up above. When taking portraits, try taking them from higher above or below, each represents different “power” stances and moods. When taking landscapes, try take it from down low, up above, giving a new unique perspective. If you struggle to find a unique angle, try shooting through something such as a branch, tree, people, rocks or grass. This gives a new angle of approach to the photo, making it stand out from the rest. If you have a tilting screen, it makes it very easy to get down low and take some photos through using live view. If you don’t have a tilting screen, just blindly take some photos and adjust accordingly to get that photo you want.

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Make sure to keep shooting with all this in mind! If you can get past these mistakes, your photography game will be on point. Next week I will go through a second part to this, with more suggestions on how to improve your beginner photography game. Remember, any progress is progress no matter how big or small. I’m currently on the market for a full frame camera and will post an article in the coming weeks about which are the best budget full frame cameras for you guys! Have a good week and catch you next time!

Explain It: Sleep

Guest Author: ESYP

Sleep- a fundamental part of our life and possibly the activity which consumes the largest parts of our lives no matter who we are coming in at approximately 33% of our time alive. Realistically, everybody loves sleep and you should, unfortunately a study conducted the CDC in the United States of America has revealed that 1/3 adults are sleep deprived. As such their bodies do not receive enough physiological or psychological recovery. Some long term effects of sleep deprivation are high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

But breaking it down, what is sleep? Sleep is referred to as an altered state of consciousness in which the body utilises to recover physiologically as well as psychologically also known as mentally.

The nature of sleep for the majority reading would be that your body goes through the 4 stages of sleep as well as a small proportion of REM sleep. Every 90 minutes, the body undergoes a sleep cycle in which the body will pass through stage 1, which is light sleep, stage 2, slightly deeper, and then through stages 3-4 which is also known as deep sleep. After every sleep cycle, there will be a proportion of REM sleep during the stages of light sleep and this proportion increases as sleep goes on until the individual is awake.

As for us generally, if you wish to take a nap during the day, the optimal time frame is in period of 90 minutes for example 1 and a half hours or 3 hours. This will help you to feel more refreshed after your nap rather than interrupting deep sleep which will cause a phenomenon called “sleep drunkenness”. I’m sure everyone has felt more tired or slightly disorientated after a period of sleep, as such this is known as sleep drunkenness. Long story short don’t interrupt deep sleep.

Tell us what part of sleep you’d like covered in future editions! Until next time…

Beginner digital photography: 4K cameras

This week we will focus on beginner level entry cameras that shoot video at 4K (or UHD). A very common mistake is distinguishing between 4K and Ultra-high definition. 4K has a resolution of 4096 x 2160 whereas UHD has a resolution of 3840 X 2160. Your 4K televisions are actually UHD, however for the stake of this article, we will refer to 4K as UHD. 4K cameras started to appear on the market as early as 2015 and have now become the standard video format for cameras. A Lot of professional cameras have moved to 4K in 2017 and there are more cameras that will move to this format very soon. You may be starting out a vlog, filming some cinematic clips or even just filming your family member’s birthday party and you’re unsure as to which camera to buy, l have compiled a list of the best budget and beginner 4K cameras that are on the market today for you to use. Trust me, all these cameras produce killer 4K video and will throw the traditional HD 1080p footage out the window.

 

Panasonic G7

 

This has to be the best bang for buck 4K camera on the market today, with amazingly crisp 4K footage and fast autofocus, this camera is a definite buy. Not only this, it also produces some amazing still photography. Many view this camera as the younger brother of the GH4, which makes this little camera a best for filming and photography. The lenses have optical image stabilisation and the camera itself is very light, allowing you to stabilize the camera and hold it for long periods.  Footage itself can be recorded at up to 30p, at a bitrate of up to 100Mbps, and you can also call upon zebra patterning and focus peaking to help when recording. Not only this, chuck on a hotshoe mic and you have a complete package. Did I forget to mention the touch swivel screen? It’s got one of them, perfect for vlogging.

 

Sony A6300

 

The Sony A6300 mustn’t be looked over despite its replacement, the A6500, already on the market. With prices falling due to the updated version, the Sony A6300 is a very solid choice with a huge range of features and it’s an APS-C sensor. Furthermore, there are Log gamma modes, 120fps HD recording (also at 100Mbps) and enhanced zebra patterning to keep an eye on exposure, which can be extremely beneficial. You also benefit from a highly advanced focusing system for rapid focus and a 2.36-million-dot OLED viewfinder all inside a dust- and moisture-resistant body. I would highly recommend the A6300, if you have the extra money go for the A6500 as it contains inbuilt image stabilisation which helps with recording footage, however the battery life of both these cameras is relatively low compared to the competing mirrorless cameras.

 

Panasonic GH4/GH5

This bad boy was the 4K camera that changed the way people viewed mirrorless cameras, many youtubers and film-makers starting use this camera for their 4K videos due to its huge capabilities and very very impressive battery life. The battery is able to record nearly up to 4 hours of 4k footage and produces very impressive 4K for the user to color grade. This is a little more expensive than the other recommendations, however buying this second hand would be a good idea especially as the GH5 has come out onto the market. It is a powerhouse and has a wide range of lens selection, plus you can always get an adapter to use your current glass on your camera. Remember to purchase a large and fast enough SD card as you don’t want the camera to be buffering or create any distortions. It also has 12fps continuous shooting and the list of functionalities is very impressive.

 

Sony RX 100 (versions 4 and up)

The Sony RX100 was a camera that surprised many photographers. It was a compact camera for starters and we were told it could shoot 4K and take amazing stills. It did everything it was set out to do and did it very well, apart from overheating in the 4th variation. The RX100 shoot incredible 4K footage and has stabilised images and it also holds up very well whilst taking stills. The new version has a continuous shooting rate of 16 frames per second and has a tilting screen. This camera is a very popular backup camera which it’s very small form factor and many youtubers take this camera to events where they can’t fit their main rigs. The best part about this camera is how it can fit inside your pocket and has a surprisingly good battery life. The only downside to this camera is it’s non-removable lens, but apart from that it is a very solid camera that many enthusiasts have bought.

 

Xiaomi yi M1

 

When we talk about budgets, this is a real budget superhero. It is a 4k 20MP mirrorless camera and sells for around 300-400 USD, which is incredible. It has a very sleek and minimalistic build like the leica cameras and offers a range of functionalities. It is an interchangeable lens camera and can be bought with the kit lenses. It is an almost fully touchscreen interface with hardly any dials or buttons, which I dislike, however the interface is easy to use and even has a hotshoe for a flash! Shoot the camera is Aperture priority mode for the best result, however the autofocusing is rather poor and you can’t change focus whilst in video mode. It has an impressive ISO range and uses a sony sensor. If this camera got any cheaper, I would recommend to buy it just as a backup or a camera you can throw around. However, this camera does not get my recommendation to buy IF you have a larger budget and can buy the other cameras.

 

GoPro Hero 5 Black

Right now, the GoPro Hero 5 Black is a very promising action camera to purchase. Not only is the price dropping, but it has a range of functionalities and recording modes. The Hero 5 didn’t get off to the best of starts when it ran into production problems, which some still lurk today, but this doesn’t take away the incredible performance it has. The 4K footage from the gopro is crisp and sharp and also produces some very nice colours. With a touchscreen interface, the gopro is easy to use and control and also has inbuilt stabilisation which makes the footage a whole lot better to watch and use. I must warn you to not take your gopro hero 5 in the water, most of the batches have cracks in the waterproof sealing and I would recommend to buy a waterproof housing for the gopro hero 5. If you aren’t taking it in the water, it is a very promising and cheaper alternative to have 4K footage.

 

Your Phone

If your phone has 4K capabilities, get a rode mic to plug into your phone and boom, you have a 4K camera. Make sure you have a big enough SD card to fill up and also spare battery packs to charge your phone!

 

These are budget options to get into the 4K scenes and hopefully there is something in the mix for you!

Photography on a Budget: Splash Photography

Today we start a new series called photography on a budget, where you can get professional looking photos with everyday items around your house. Each week I will look at different ideas you can try at home and outside with everyday household items or cheap items that can be purchased online.

 

Introduction:

Splash photography is one of my favourite types of photography, freezing water in motion (or any liquid) is truly magical, giving you another perspective on water. The water you drop can be dyed to create different colours and you can add different liquids to the water to give it another effect such as oil, vinegar or even cordial. To maximise the effect of the water splashes, pick an everyday object to pour the water over, or drop an everyday object into a bowl of water. Lighting is going to be very important in this, normally professional photographers use high powered flashes to freeze the water in time, however their flashes are done behind the subject through wireless sync and those flashes often cost a lot of money, however I keep an eye out for my recommendation on budget flashes.

 

Aim:

To capture the water splashes at a high rate, freezing it in mid-air on a budget.

Equipment:

  • CFL lamp, we need these lamps to light up the water from behind
  • Baking paper, this is to diffuse the light from the lamp
  • LED torches, we need these to light up the bulbs from the front
  • Water, to pour over the object
  • Light bulb, our object to pour over (you can choose your own)
  • Camera with a sharp lens, preferably a prime.
  • Making tape, to tape up the baking paper
  • Tile or a plate, to rest our object on
  • Bucket or a tub, to rest our tile on and to catch the water that falls
  • Tripod, to ensure our shots are stable and crisp
  • Towels, we will end up spilling water unfortunately
  • Food dye, to colour the water, spicing up the photos
  • Table, to create a stable surface for your set-up

 

Method:

  1. Pick a spot to set up your equipment, preferably somewhere dark as you only want the background to be lit by the CFL lamp.
  2. Place your tub on your table with your tile or plate on top, make sure there is enough room for your water to drip down into the tub after you pour your water.
  3. Use blu-tack to secure your object in the middle or towards the back of the tile, you want the camera to focus on the tile and the object, don’t want to include the tub.
  4. Set-up your CFL lamp behind the tub and tiles, make sure your object is directly in front of the incoming light, place books or anything to raise up the lamp.
  5. Cut some baking paper to cover the lamp, this is because we want to diffuse the light, rather than making it very harsh on the subject. You can hang this from wall to wall. I hung my baking paper from the wall to a pole, think creatively of how you can hang up your baking paper.
  6. Set-up your tripod and camera up, make sure you get the framing right so that your object is in the middle and on a good angle, otherwise the splashes will look less appealing. You may not even use a tripod, you can use a small bookshelf, or books stacked together or even a chair.
  7. Once you have your framing right, set up your LED torches, I used two, on either side of the object give the front of the object a bit of glow, so the viewer can see the object. The LED torches don’t need to be bright and should be placed a fair distance away, just giving enough light to light up the front.
  8. Set your camera is a shutter speed of 1/4000, iso to around 800 to 1600 and your f stop to around f/5 to f/9 to ensure you get good enough depth of field so that all your water droplets are in focus.
  9. Take a few test shots to adjust your settings to ensure that everyone works well. Remember you can edit certain things in post so don’t be too pedantic on the quality.
  10. Pour water as your hold the shutter down, make sure your camera is on continuous shooting.
  11. Repeat with dyed water to create different scenes and moods.

Sample set-up:

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Results:

HOT TIP: Make sure you are shooting in .raw so you can edit in post!

Concluding thoughts: 

The entire exercise took me no longer than 15 minutes to set-up and was really quick to tear down. Make sure to take as many shots as possible or up until you get the shot you really want. Not only is this cheap, it also produces some amazing photographs for you to share with your friends and the outside world. Remember to tune in every Wednesday or (Tuesday if you live in the states) for a new weekly photography idea on a budget!

 

Explain it: Cash Rates

Guest Author: ESYP

Introduction

The cash rate refers to the rate of which banks loan each other money in order to balance their ESAs (Exchange Settlement Accounts). To understand the cash rate, one must firstly understand the concept of the open market operations in Australia.

Open Market Operations

On the first Tuesday of every month, the RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) board holds a meeting to set the target cash rate for the next month after which at 2:30pm, the target rate will be announced. This is also referred to the government’s monetary policy. Contrary to common belief, the rate does not immediately come in to operation but rather operates with a lag.

After this rate is set, the RBA will start open market operations, that is, they will start to utilise the selling or purchasing of government securities to and from financial institutions in order to reach that target rate. If the RBA board decides to increase the cash rate, in line with contractionary monetary policy, which is to decrease spending, the government aims to reduce the supply of money and thus increase the “cost” of money. To achieve this, the RBA will sell government securities such as bonds, at a discount in order to entice the purchasing of this bonds. As part of the law, the ESAs of every bank must be balanced. However the nature of the ESA is that it facilitates inter-bank monetary transfer. For example, if a customer of ANZ writes a cheque and gives it to someone who deposits the cheque at Westpac, this is an interbank transaction. In turn, along with the millions of other different interbank transactions, they must balance the differences between the banks. As the RBA pays an interest rate of -0.25 of the cash rate for excess funds and +0.25% of the interest rate for any shortages, there is an incentive for banks to loan each other this money. As such, after enough of the government securities are sold or bought, money must move between the institutions and the RBA.

When increasing the cash rate, the banks transfer their money from the ESAs to the RBA in exchange for the bonds and the RBA transfers money to the Banks’ ESAs in return for the bonds when a decrease is wanted.

Because of these transactions, there is an effect on the liquidity of financial institutions. When there is an increase in the cash rate, banks’ ESAs will now have less money and thus have to replace that money to avoid penalty and as such institutions will now have to compete for the limited cash available thus driving up the cash rate. In the event that there is a decrease in the cash rate, bank’s ESAs will now have more money and now want to get rid of this excess cash. Therefore institutions will compete to get rid of their surplus cash thus driving down the cash rate.

Because the cash rate is the wholesale rate that affects whole sale borrowing, retail interest rates will follow suit, be it with a difference to ensure the banks make profit.

 

Impact on you

You might be thinking, what’s this talk about banks and the RBA got to do with me? I’m not looking to borrow from the RBA? The key impact of the cash rate on the general population is the incentive to spend on credit. If banks decide to reduce their retail interest rates because of the lowered interest rates, interest repayments for mortgages or personal loans will drop and as such the final cost of buying that good will decrease. Additionally, reduced retail interest rates will decrease the incentive to save as your monthly interest payments from your savings accounts will decrease. This means that there is encouragement to spend!

As such, understanding the business cycle will be key in avoiding larger interest repayments than you have to. We’ll be covering that next time on Explain it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: None of the information in this article is professional financial advice. The author(s) of this article will not be liable for any financial decisions made based on the information of this article.

Beginner Digital Photography: First Prime Lens

Kit lenses only take you so far in your photography journey, If you have been shooting on your kit lens for a while now, you may be thinking about buying your first lens, which in my opinion should be a prime lens. There are hundreds and thousands of prime lenses on the market, whether it be a vintage lens, new lens or a used lens. They come in all different focal lengths and different maximum apertures. This is all very very confusing, so today I will boil it all down to the lens you would buy depending on your camera mount.

 

First lets look at the difference between a kit lens and a prime lens. A kit lens has a range of different focal lengths, let’s say from 18mm to 55mm. You may have noticed that as you zoom in, the maximum aperture increases, this is due to the aperture adjusting to the amount of zoom. These kit lenses often have a lot more glass and are typically not as sharp as the prime lens due to all the addes glass and moving parts, which can create softness in your lens. When shooting zoomed up taking a portrait, you may struggle to get good enough creamy bokeh due to the physical limitations of the aperture. You can get a lower min aperture by walking closer to the subject and reducing your zoom, however your depth of field of the subject changes and the subject has end up being distorted by the fisheye structure of the lens. Here, the prime lens comes in handy, you can bring the aperture right down, normally f/1.8, producing extremely creamy bokeh, sharpness and you zoom with your legs. With a prime lens, you cannot zoom, so you will need to zoom in and out by using your legs. I will have an article coming up in the coming days that will talk about aperture.

 

The reason why many photographers suggest the first lens to be a prime lens is due to their weight and how cheap they can be. They have the best bang for the buck in terms of sharpness and bokeh and would definitely recommend buying one on sale, as they are constantly on sale. The lightweight nature makes it easy to carry your camera around and can fit in your bag with ease. Not only this, they are very durable due to the lack of moving parts and don’t cost too much to replace. Furthermore, prime lenses help you progress in your photography game into the next level and remember to share your photos.

 

You may have come across the term nifty fifty before, this term refers to the 50mm prime lenses you can buy for your camera. These lenses are one of the most versatile lenses on the market today, they offer the best sharpness, bokeh and weight. 50mm prime lenses are most commonly used for street photography, portraits and event photography. These lenses are extremely sharp, making your images really pop out and have some of the best bokeh that can be produced. Bokeh is the creamy blur of the background behind your subject, it adds emphasis on the subject. Not only this, having a lower aperture allows you to let in more light to your camera, making it better for night photography or low light photography. This being a photography guide for those who are beginners, your camera would have a x1.5 up to x2.0 crop factor. This would mean we must adjust for these factors.

 

The following is table of which lens I would recommend you to buy depending your camera brand, remember these are crop sensors, if you are on a full frame camera, go ahead and buy a 50mm prime lens, make sure the max aperture is below f/1.8.

 

Camera Brand Lens
Nikon – f mount Nikon NIKKOR AF-S 35mm f/1.8G F1.8 G DX
Canon – EF-S mount Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Panasonic – Micro four thirds Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 ASPH
Sony – E mount Sony E Mount 35mm f1.8 OSS Lens
Olympus – Micro four thirds Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 25mm f/1.8 Lens
Pentax – K- mount Pentax DA 35mm F2.4 AL Lens

 

Remember, you can opt for different focal lengths, these distances are for getting the nifty fifty prime lens focal length (apart from the canon). For the canon, I would opt for either 24mm or the 50mm. Both are fantastic lenses and very affordable. Not only this, you can look at other different brands such as sigma for their fantastic lens selection. But for now, I would strongly recommend purchasing a lens from that table as they are the best bang for your buck prime lenses which you should have. I don’t think I could live without my 35mm prime lens from NIkon, it is a fantastic lens and I use it on nearly every outing due to the incredible sharpness and crispness.

 

I hope to catch you next week as we go through which 4K cameras to buy at this current time!

Explore: Blue Mountains

The world heritage listed blue mountains, named after the blue haze that surrounds the mountains and cliffs, is a beautiful and enchanted range visited by hundreds and thousands every year. The views are spectacular with the range covered infinite eucalyptus trees. Only situated 90 minutes away from the CBD, the blue mountains has proven to be a very popular among the locals and tourists. I would highly recommend a visit to the blue mountains if you are nearby, definitely grab out your camera and a wide angle lens to capture the beauty of the mountains. Today I will go through the top attractions as well as some tips and tricks when visiting the blue mountains to make it the most memorable experience to date.

Free parking

We will start off by showing where the free parking is, trust me, It will come in handy when visiting these attractions.

Three sisters

The three sisters is an iconic sandstone formation which have eroded over time to leave 3 protruding rocks towering over the landscape. These massive rock formations are connected to the Aboriginal history and can be seen from the lookout. Be mindful there will be lots of people at the lookout, walking down and to the left will give you the best view. Not only from this lookout, you can see a panoramic view of landscape, giving you a middle earth vibe. According to the Aboriginals, these three rocks represented three sisters that transformed into rocks. The lookout is called echo point and there are toilets, drink taps and seating areas.

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Wentworth falls

One of the many waterfalls on offer at the Blue mountains, Wentworth falls is one of the most rewarding waterfalls to visit. Along the trail you will encounter different waterfalls and it the common trail normally takes around 20 minutes, and is definitely worth your time. If you are more of a hiker, don’t fret, there are so many different tracks you can take, pick and choose and walk. You will not regret it and every trail has something different on offer. There have been reported sightings of many different wildlife along princess’s walking track. All the tracks include stairs, but they are easy hikes to complete. Make sure to bring water and also food to have a picnic to rewind and recharge.

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Katoomba falls and cascades

Not too far from the three sisters, the Katoomba falls is an easy to get to destination and has plenty of options to free roam around the falls. From the car park, there are a few tracks that lead you to many different lookouts for the Katoomba falls. I would highly recommend visiting them first then following the path. You will be greeted with this spectacular waterfall where you can climb and take photos. The trees block the harsh sunlight, making it very nice to take some photos. Now the fun part is following the river trail, I highly recommend exploring this river. I take no responsibilities if you slip or fall, please go with caution. The river is clear and there are clear paths to take. Be Careful of the depth and make sure to take photos whilst you travel down. You will pass many smaller waterfalls and suddenly be greeted with a massive cliff edge, the edge of Katoomba falls where the scenic skyworld passes focuses on. Trust me, it is an exhilarating experience being at the edge of this gigantic waterfall, best to visit when there hasn’t been a lot of rain due to the current of the water. The entire waterfall and walk is drop dead gorgeous, the greenery being contrasted with the sandstone and seeing the blue haze in the distance is something that still amazes me today. Below is a video of my mates and I exploring the waterfall.

Prince Henry Cliff Walk

I strongly recommend following this relatively walking track that takes you towards Katoomba falls, the views along the route are incredible and have many different lookouts situated along the walk. Ensure to wear runners with grip and prepare to stop randomly as the path can be relatively tight at times. Cliff View lookout is a must stop destination along the way, giving you more panoramic views and you can climb under the metal chains to walk along the rocks to be an unobstructed view, once again please be careful when doing so.

Glow worm tunnel at Lithgo

If you still have time in your day, make sure to visit the glow worm tunnels in Lithgow. These tunnels are old railways tunnels and are 400m in length, the line was discounted back in 1940, however larvae of the fungus gnat now surround the tunnel, make sure to bring a torch and good walking shoes when exploring this tunnel.