More Adventures with my Heliopan 10-stop ND Filter

It has been awhile since I done any long exposure shots using my Heliopan 10-stop ND filter. I decided to blow the cobwebs off and take it out for a spin. I just wished they made a Lee Big Stopper for the Cokin X-Pro holder. It gets a bit tedious having to unscrew the Heliopan, compose and screw it back on. Anyway, enough whinging, below are some of the shots I came back with.

Hyde Park

LT3 19288

30s | f22 | ISO 100 @ 16mm

The first one was shot at the Archibald Fountain, Hyde Park, Sydney. I waited for the crowd to dissipate before attempting this shot.  There were busloads of them milling around the fountain and a rather large wedding party to my left. That's St. Mary's Cathedral in the background.

I have always wanted wanted to capture long exposure shots of fountains. I never tire of these types of shots, the super smooth glass-like surface. I especially love the movements of the clouds, I think it really adds to the photo.

Hornby Lighthouse

LT3 22540 2

30s | f11 | ISO 200 @ 19mm

This one was taken just after sunrise at Camp Cove, near Watsons Bay, Sydney. The sun was just starting to slowly warm things up. The distortion of the lighthouse is cause by me pointing the Nikon 16-35mm lens downwards.

I should have increase the aperture to f16, which would have given me a 60 seconds exposure. This would have made the water so much smoother or smokier. I really love the colours in this shot. Now if I dropped the ISO down to 100, the exposure would have doubled again to 120 seconds.

Coogee Beach

LT3 22673

66s | f20 | ISO 160 @ 18mm

This one was taken of the tidal pool at Coogee Beach, Sydney.  I love how the sea here is misty/smokey white and you can see the rocks peeking through and the movement of the clouds. The surface of the tidal pool look like a giant piece of emerald glass. It was rather cold on this particular morning. I remembered that the cappuccino from the local cafe was crap.


I am really starting to get a feel for the Heliopan. I can now easily guesstimate how long to do the exposures for and by checking the histogram and can tweak it until it's perfect. The Heliopan does not add any color cast like my friend's BW does. If you are in the market for a 10-stop ND filter, give the Heliopan a go.


Taipan Shadow XS from Booq

I needed a new bag for my iPad 2 as the current one that I am using is way too big After some research I narrowed the choices down to 2, either Tom Bihn’s Ristretto or Booq’s Taipan Shadow XS. Since two my mates already own the Ristretto, I decided on the Taipan Shadow XS.

It comes in two colours, slate-silver or black-red, I got the former as I already have a zillion black camera bags in my collection. I found one online for $99.00 shipped from Noisy Motel based in Melbourne. I ordered it late on Tuesday night and they shipped it by lunch time the next day and I got it Friday afternoon.



I was surprise how compact the bag was, for some reason, I expected it to be bigger. The material used on the outside is very smooth when you run your hand over it but feels and looks very durable. It is made from 1680 denier fabric with water-repellent coating. There is a hidden zipped pouch built into the front flap for quick access and it’s lined with nice soft furry material (soft Nylex).

LT3_22353 LT3_22363

Inside has contrasting water-repelling interior rip-stop lining.


Here you can see the largest pouch which are actually made up of 2 separate pouches when it’s buttoned down. Inside it has 4 little pockets, good for keeping things like business cards, CF cards, etc. and 2 pen/pencil holders.


There is another pouch at the back and realistically can only store relatively flat items. The two hidden lined pockets designed to house your phone and mp3 player are quite a tight fit making it hard to get your mobile out quickly especially when there’s an incoming call.


The iPhone can be pushed further in. It sitting up for demo purpose only.


I prefer to put my iPhone in the front pouch where it’s much easier to get in and out of.


There also a built-in handle at the back. Useful if you just want to quickly grab the bag to move it quickly or if do not carry it across your shoulder.

What fits?

The Taipan Shadow XS is like a Tardis, small on the outside. I was able to cramp my iPad 2, sunglass case, IPad wall charger & cable and keys tethered to the bag via a 16” key strap from Tom Bihn.

iPad 2 in and zipped up.

The iPad pouch is very snug and well padded. It also has a raised lip to prevents the zipper from accidently scratching your iPad. The iPad 2 with smart cover fits in no problems at all. It is also lined with a soft furry material (soft Nylex) to ensure that your naked iPad does not get scratched.



However, if your iPad/iPad 2 is cloaked in a full-on thick leather case and you cannot make it fit into the iPad pouch. No worries, you can utilise the second pouch where the Ikea magazine is. There is no padding here but your iPad case should be enough to protect it .

Sunglass case and keys tethered via a Tom Bihn 16” key strap.

iPad wall charger and cable in a small Tom Bihn Cordura pouch.

Wall charger/cable zipped and in.

This is a profile shot of the bag fully loaded and it doesn’t look too bulky at all.


Not sure if the reps from either Booq or Tom Bihn would be too keen about this. I purchased some bits and pieces from Tom Bihn.


A 16” key strap . I used this to tether my set of keys to the bag. Very handy for when I need to unlock the gate and my door without having to detach it from the bag each time.


These are small and medium Cordura organiser pouches from Tom Bihn. These are great for storing little knick knacks to keep things tidy. I used a small one for the iPad wall charger and sync cord.


Ultrasuede screen cloth to clean both my iPad and iPhone screens which can get quite dirty from my grubby fingers.



Another feature is Terralinq, it’s a free service provided by Booq. Each Taipan Shadow XS bag has a unique serial number. When you purchase one you register your details, with Booq online, which is then linked to your bag’s serial number. In the unfortunate instance that you do lose your bag, the finder will is able to return the bag to you if they wish.


The shoulder strap is fully adjustable. I lowered til the top of the bag sat around waist height. It was super comfortable to carry around all day. I love the smart compact design. The bag is very well made and screams quality. The stitching is excellent. I loved the zippers, the super smooth action and no getting caught when you are doing the zippers up. I highly recommend this bag if you are in the market for a bag for your iPad or iPad 2.


LunaTik – Turn Your iPod Nano into a Watch

I first heard of the LunaTik when a friend sent me an email saying that he just backed a project called LunaTik/Tik-Tok over at Kickstarter. Basically, they are really cool looking watchbands designed to enable you to wear the latest iPod Nano (6th Gen) as a watch. If you have no idea what I am talking about watch this video.

What is LunaTik/Tik-Tok

After months of waiting it finally arrived. I picked it up at the post office this afternoon and the packaging they used to shipped the LunaTik was a bit dodgy. They shipped in a black bubble wrap envelope which wasn’t sealed properly as it easily popped open when I just touched it. I found that the adhesive was not very sticky at all. The actual box arrived a bit worst for wear as one of its corner was slightly crushed.


The packaging is slick and will not look out of place in an Apple store. The box is opened at one end so you can see the actual product housed inside a clear plastic case. There is also a large ovoid piece of dense foam used to hold the LunaTik in place and to minimise damage (from getting crushed). 


This is what the LunaTik looks like straight out of the box.  The precision finish on the aerospace grade aluminium housing is immaculate. I could not see any scratches nor could i feel any burrs when I ran my fingers over the entire housing.



It came with instructions on how to dismantle the LunaTik and install the iPod Nano. They also provided two very tiny allen keys to do the job. It took me less than 10 mins to complete this rather straightforward task. The fit is so tight and snug with zero play, this is precision milling.

Looking Good

I configured it to automatically show the time upon waking. I also had to rotate the screen to get the proper orientation. The earphone jack and dock is on the outside or to the right looking directly at the watch.


I haven’t loaded any music on it as I will using it exclusively as a watch. The design and build quality of the LunaTik is excellent. I don’t think there anything currently in the market that can match it.

The silicone watchband is smooth and not sticky making it very comfortable to wear. I had it on for over 7 hours and it didn’t bother me.

Custom SLR’s C-Loop – First Impressions

The C-Loop, I ordered, arrived today.  How they

shipped the product was excellent. Actually it was overkill but better safe than sorry. They used a much larger and stronger cardboard box to ensure that the product arrives undamaged. Guys from MNML, take note, this is how you should have shipped the LunaTik.  You can ordered it from their online store.



Custom SLR’s C-Loop

The packaging for the C-Loop is minimal and elegant. Mainly white text on a black background with a smooth satin finish.



It came in a nice black pouch. First impressions are good

, the C-Loop is CNC machined from aerospace grade 6061-T6 aluminium. It is available in both silver and black anodised finish

. I chose the black one as it matched the Nikon body nicely.


The finish on the C-Loop is excellent, very smooth, I could not feel any sharp edges or burrs when I ran my fingers across the unit. The neoprene washer was thick and dense. The aluminium piece with the two eyelets spun freely.  


BlackRapid RS-7

I am planning to use it with my BlackRapid RS-7. This is a temporary solution until  Custom SLR’s Split Strap is available. You can read more about it here.


I used the karabiner from my BlackRapid RS-7 hooked it onto the handle used to attach the C-Loop onto the camera’s body. The Split Strap will be using a different solution to attached itself onto the C-Loop. Initial tests looked promising and will hopefully get to test it out this weekend if the rain stays away. It is very comfortable wearing the camera across the shoulder rather than around the neck.


It is actually attached to my Really Right Stuff L-bracket on my Nikon D700. I will attach it directly to the cameras body as soon as I find my missing allen key required to remove the RRS L-bracket.

Custom SLR’s Split Strap

Custom SLR’s Split Strap


Sculpture By The Sea 2010

The fourteenth annual Bondi to Tamarama Sculpture by the Sea.

See the spectacular Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk transformed into a giant sculpture park of over 100 sculptures by artists from Australia and across the world.

Got there about 5:45 am, wanted to capture the sculptures with the sun rising but unfortunately it was heavily overcast his morning so no sun as hoped. This year’s exhibition was rather sparse compared to last year. According to the news report it was due to the world financial crisis.

There was not too many people at such an ungodly hour which was great for taking photos. The walk between Tamarama and Bondi gets rather packed from 10:00am onwards with joggers and visitors to the sculptures. We’ve had enough by about 09:30, so we headed off for some large cappuccinos and then home.  




                                       Leaf Vessel - Virginia King

This was my favourite piece from this year! I reckon it should have won first prize but then what do I know about art.


                                         M.100901 - Toshio Lezumiz



                                   Entering the Exit - Braddon Snape


                                      Anguish - Gangadhar Mahato


                                           Coastguard - Greg James


                              Transfiguration 'link' XXI - Mitsuo Takeuchi


                                            Untitled - DLN Reddy


                                       Initialis - Tim Macfarlane Reid

                                           Splash - Tomas Misura


                             From optimism to hope - Andrew Rogers


                                      Sitting Hen - Tae-Geun Yang


                                      Long Neck - Benjamin Gilbert


                                       Sitting Hen - Tae-Geun Yang

Tamarama Beach, Sydney, Australia

Map picture