As regular readers will know, Jacqui and I live in the south west of Western Australia in a little hamlet called Quinninup – 30 Km south of Manjimup to be exact (SEE MAP) –>
Our neighbours are pretty much bloody big Karri trees, emus, kangaroos and wallabies with kookaburras at sunrise and sunset.
The nearest shop of any description is either in Manjimup, or 1Km further the other way in Pemberton.
TV is received by satellite, and you can only record the channel you are watching, and similarly, our internet is via NBN Satellite, capped at 150GB peak and 150GB off peak between 1 and 7am) per month.
This is all a preamble to saying that communications here are thin on the (ground. You can get a Telstra mobile signal here, sort of. Around 200 metres from the centre of the 100 or so houses though, a landline is needed. As for Optus, Voda eta al? Forget it.
And you don’t get a signal again until about 3km from Manjimup. And as Telstra tells us, it ain;t going to get any better, and probably worse.
Oddly, there is a fibre op[tic node right across the road from our little house, at what once was the old school, and now the community centre, but apparently that is all too hard …
So, imagine our surprise when driving to Exmouth, that suddenly, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, there appeared a very tall mobile phone tower. And around 100kms up the road was another, and then another.
At the turnoff to Kalbarri, was a HUGE tower, and a lesser one at Minilya roadhouse. Past Carnarvon, again at regular intervals were more towers, with a duplicate of the Kalbarri turn off one at the Exmouth turnoff.
In short, it appeared we might have had Telstra access for the full 1400 off kilometres from Perth to Exmouth.
Which, in this day and age, is of course as it should be, even in a country as wide and brown as Australia. Some would say ESPECIALLY with a land as wide and brown as our land down-under. Just 9 months ago when we relocated back to Western Australia – well for me anyway – mobile reception across the Nullarbor between Ceduna and Esperance was scarce, but today, looking at the Telstra Regional coverage map, it mostly seems covered 100%, except for a gap approaching the West Australian border.
So, yay to Telstra for that one.
And whilst I don’t think it spells the imminent death knell of the Grey Nomad’s beloved UHF radio, there are still many, many pockets of dead air space for mobiles, and you need a top shelf beast in lots of areas, or even an external antenna.
The Northern Territory is not as well covered as other states, and this applies to large areas of South Australia as well plus far north Queensland.
But it is a good start!
Of course, the humble mobile these days is a “device” first and a phone second. We are all familiar with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and so on, but for the travelling photographer / videographer, it may surprise you to know that it can also be used to remotely control your camera or camcorder using Wi-fi and / or Bluetooth.
Using our review Panasonic LUMIX GH5S for example, Wi-fi and Bluetooth gives us a HUGE amount of flexibility in our photo and video shooting, using a free app from Panasonic called “ImageApp”.
For example, once the camera is connected to an Android or iOS smartphone (or tablet) via Bluetooth, it can be turned on or off, and then using Wi-fi, photos and video taken, by using the smartphone / tablet as a remote controller. You can even change dial settings via the phone once it has been set as the “priority device”.
Once images have been taken, they can be played back on the smartphone or tablet, and if you have mobile reception (hence our discussion earlier about Telstra coverage in Australia), even sent directly to social media sites.
If you are like me and a are bit anal about making sure your images / videos are secure, you can transfer them from your camera to phone either manually or automatically for backup purposes or with Panasonic LUMIX cameras for example, to the Panasonic Cloud storage system called LUMIX Club (once you have joined of course). See https://lumixclub.panasonic.net/eng/c/lumix_faqs for more details.
Other camera manufacturers have similar Cloud Storage systems in place for their customers too.
If you want a bigger image than your smartphone / tablet screen will display, a TV can also be connected via Wi-fi and you can even print to a Wi-fi capable printer or transfer images to a PC / laptop.
This of course opens up a whole new world of possibility, expanding greatly on the humble “selfie”, letting you place the camera or videocamera on a tripod – or if you have something like a Joby Gorillapod, even more inventive places – and include yourself, friends and family in the action.
I have used the Wi-fi and Bluetooth functions of my Panasonic VXF995 4K camcorder on a tripod set remotely, to shoot rally cars, taking me well out of any danger zone and getting spectacular video simply not possible otherwise (check with marshals and officials before setting up I hasten to add!)
Time delays can also be put in place (although with the Panasonic at least, time lapse cannot be done as far as I can tell). You can even “wake up” and shut down the camera remotely.
Another aspect that cannot be ignored, is that of live streaming. If you have internet access of a reasonable speed, and use Facebook, then using the camera / camcorder’s Wi-fi, you can set up a live streaming session letting family, friends, work colleagues etc see you, what you are dpoing and where you are in real time.
There are of course far more sophisticated solutions letting you perform two-way communication, but I’ll leave that for another time.
Degree of Difficulty
If this all sounds way too hard and beyond your ken, throw that thought out of the window. If you have successfully setup your smartphone to connect via Bluetooth to your car, you can easily create a wireless connection from your smartphone or tablet to your camera. The principle is exactly the same, only the device your smartphone or tablet is “talking to” is different. You also – again in the case of Panasonic – have an app acting as an intermediary, shielding you from the Settings / Bluetooth / Wifi nasties!
And finally, the online manual, or your supplied paper one, contains step-by-step examples of how to perform the correct tasks in sequence to get up and running quickly, with simple, easy to standard commands such as:
“Choose [MENU] -> [SETUP] ->[BLUETOOTH]->[ON]
If you want any help, please feel free to drop me a line, or alternatively, why not join our online forums via www.fvandvr.com?
In the next installment of our Exmouth travels, I’ll explain how we setup the cameras in the car to get the videos while we were actually travelling. And how the need to stop the car to start and stop cameras is now a thing of the past.