I have just bought a Seagull 205 rangefinder camera. The first film is being developed today, although not printed I have no idea where I have to go to get that done. Its pretty cheap to buy and process film out here and it has been a good little experiment learning more about film (well I kind of new the stuff already but having to think out my exposure levels carefully rather than just firing a couple of test shots is something that I needed to get in the habit of anyway.

This has in turn lead me to use the 28mm fully manual lens and use it better. As no autofocus I have been sticking to focus zone focusing (ie setting the camera for the maximum depth I can for the light and snapping without refocusing)

Anyway I am writing all this because I am really bored at work, I have everything done apart from all the things I need to access in my gmail (which is currently down…yey China.)

Motorbike taxi shanghai Nikon 1/60 400 ISO Alex Coxall
Motorbike taxi shanghai
Nikon 1/60 400 ISO
Alex Coxall

I am getting a little drawn to portrait photography at the moment here are a couple I have taken recently. It would be nice to practice more with a willing model than have to work at parties with crap light but there you go.




This Saturday me and Ross reformed our Chilli Cook-team, Sauce Code, to enter Bubba’s annual BBQ cook off. It was a good day out, we didn’t come away with any trophies but I learned a few things about BBQ.

BBQCOOKOFFe2 (2).png

The first point should be that this was a Texas style BBQ comp so it seemed like we should cook in a Texas style, which meant low and slow. Now, I have never used indirect heat to cook large bits of meat before (in a BBQ of course, I always roast things at home). Our largest piece of meat was a Brisket coming in at just over 2 kilos.

Here are a couple of things I learned from the experience:

With a new BBQ burn and treat twice with oil, similar to treating a wok. This can take up to an hour.

Keep one side of BBQ for direct heat and one for indirect – We were using a large but single chambered BBQ. This heat can be regulated by a water bath under the non-direct side.

Our large cuts of meat was undercooked and needed to be finished off over direct heat. I was a bit miffed about this as it had had more than enough time in the BBQ. It only occured to me the following morning that our indirect section was facing into the wind this meant that most of the heat would be flowing in the wrong direction (this was a closed bbq with vents, I did not think it would matter). Balls, they publish wind direction on the layout for a reason. I am also guessing the last minuite stall changes were due to more professional teams moving into better wind positions.

Meat should be seared on direct heat before being taken to the indirect, I dont know why I decided it would be better to do this afterwards, I am sure I had a reason at the time. This does not seal the meat by the way, we should all know that by now! But is important for mailliard reaction. My plan was to do this afterwards but then I didnt think about the glaze. The glaze being high in sugar would burn if over the direct heat for too long.

Fine woodchips give off a good amount of smoke but they do not last very long. Better with slow burning wood blocks, unless you are doing something like chicken wings in direct heat and you need a quicker blast with the smoke.

Burn all your paper out before you start cooking.

A spray bottle with apple juice is good for keeping meat moist over indirect heat.

Don’t forget resting times when handing in. These can be pretty long for large pieces of meat.

One large bag of good charcoal was good for us thoughout the day.

If the event is offering tasting tickets for teams to claim money back then it really pays to do something like a paella on the side. Rather than just having meat samples.

These competitions, because of the expense and the planning are taken pretty seriously. Expect heavy competition, computer controlled BBQs and grills towed in on the back of trucks.

Be friendly to your neighbours you will probably have to borrow something sooner or later.

Lots of wetwipes, bottled water, and teatowels you can never have enough. Also metal trays.

Keep prep off your front bench, work to the sides.

Okay best get to class, will publish part two and some phots as more stuff comes to me. Please feel free to leave any extra advice at the bottom.

Shanghai Moon

Or more accurately titled “How I shot the moon on this one occasion”

Shanghai Moon
Second attempt at the moon. Alex Coxall

I thought I would just keep a little record of a couple of things I have learned from shooting the moon over the last couple of days. These are fairly straight forward shots as they are just of the moon with no foreground etc.

Coming towards the end of Spring we have had some miraculously clear days here in Shanghai and the moon has been visable towards the end of the day framed by a nice blue sky. As the sun is setting it seems to make the shadows (ie the craters) of the moon more defined. I guess it is a little like putting the light source at the side of an object.

To get this shot I used my 300mm Sigma lens, set at 300mm. I played around with different exposure ratios for the first shots but then settled on f/11 which is the sharpness sweetspot for this lense (look up on line or test yourself). A shutter speed of 1/100 seemed to give me a reasonable shot.

The impotortant thing aside from the lens was the tripod. My tripod is so shodily built it was rocking for almost 3 seconds after I had pressed the release (I also managed to snap a handle off trying to retract the extension). So in this shot I gave it a ten second timer as opposed to the two that I had used previously. This made it settle down a little more. I think a good sturdy tripod would make a big difference.

There was very little post production to speak of. The shot is actually in colour just appears black and white.

Decent Tripod
Lens Sweet Spot
Not too near traffic
Moon moves fast so keep adjusting.
Might consider mirror lock up once I understand it better.

Moon - Big Rock in Sky
Moon – Big Rock in Sky

Here is my first attempt at moon photography. I was out for a walk an a bit lost with the same old subjects when I noticed I could see the moon, clearly during the day (around 6pm). It was very high and very small but I had my 300mm lens on me and my tripod. Setting up quickly near the interesction of Jinshajiang and Kaxiuan I snapped a couple off. Because the sun was setting the details were more pronounced and did not have to worry about metering as much.

However my tripod is a bit shit and there ws a litte wind and I was next to the road so there ws a good bit of shake. I will go back and try again shortly.

Managing to see the moon in Shanghai is a rarity so will just have to keep watching the skies and hoping for a break.