One year on – Saturday, June 25th, 2011

June 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

During a macro shoot yesterday I was lucky enough to come across a nice little green tree frog. I don’t see these guys very often and only have a couple of shots of them in my archive. I’m not sure of the exact species, so if anyone has any ideas, please let me know.

TreefrogGreen tree frog
Saturday, June 25th, 2011
Canon 5D, mpe-65 @ 2x, f11, full flash

On a whim last night, I decided to look back 12 months to see what macro subjects I was shooting at this time last year. To my surprise, it turns out that I had taken a shot of this same species on the corresponding day 12 months ago!

IMG_8132Green tree frog
Saturday, June 26th, 2010
Canon 5D, mpe-65 @ 2x, f11, full flash

In the 12 months between these two images I have worked on my lighting and technique and I think the shot from this year highlights these advancements. The lighting is more even now and is bringing out the colours in the scene better.

After seeing this, who knows…. maybe I will try and make these sort of comparisons a semi-regular feature!

Does every image have to hang on a wall?

June 22, 2011 § Leave a comment

A recent conversation regarding one of my images entitled “The Markers” turned in the direction of whether the subject matter was something that people would want to hang on their wall.

The Markers“The Markers”
Canon 5D, 17-40L @ 24mm, f8, 3 seconds

The comment, from another photographer, was followed with a statement along the lines of “Before I take any photo I ask myself if someone else would want to look at it every day”.

That simple comment got me thinking along the lines of perceived beauty verses emotional connections. It also had me thinking about the reasons for choosing to create the images we do.

The image in question was created in an area that I know and love. I grew up in the area and have spent many mornings at this location fishing from these exact rocks. I know this spot intimately and the view is one I cherish from my childhood. With this in mind, it makes sense that I would return to record the scene with camera in hand.

From a commercial standpoint, the comment offered above holds true. Would someone disconnected from the emotional response attributed to knowing the area find the image interesting enough to hang on their wall? Maybe not, and you can be the judge of that right now. There is however, the aspect of the local market that can make an image like this commercially viable.

The commercial aspect aside though. what struck me the most was the different thought processes that go into photography.

Photography is a passion for me and goes well beyond a simple commercial sense. I do not feel that every image we create needs to be created for someone else. There are times and places when our photography should be purely for ourselves. To lose this sense of perspective and shoot solely from a commercial point of view would be to go against  the very reasons I fell in love with photography in the first place.

These emotions are the main reason I regularly choose to undertake personal projects with no consideration for commercial viability. Because at the heart of it there is still a passion for photography and a love of these areas, and to lose these values would be to snuff out the reasons for choosing this medium in the first place. I feel that taking the time to satisfy our own personal emotions as a photographer helps to keep the passion alive, even if it means an image wont hang on someone else’s wall. If that is the upshot of shooting for ourselves, then I, for one, am happy to live with it!

Upcoming macro tutorials

June 20, 2011 § 4 Comments

Over the last couple of years I’ve had a lot of people ask me for more information on how I capture my macro images.  I’ve often threatened to put together a series of tutorials and walkthroughs of my processes, but until now I simply haven’t managed it. Well, I figure that it’s about time I actually changed that!

Over the coming months I will be endeavouring to sift through a mountain of thoughts in an attempt to dilute them down to some practical and structured notes that will hopefully give you some insights into how I go about my macro work.  I will try to encompass as much as I can, from equipment, through to in-the-field techniques and my digital work-flow.

At the end of the series, I hope to have shed enough light on the subject to help those already interested in macrophotography as well as hooking a few of those who have been wondering what the fuss is all about. In my opinion, the more people we can encourage to either try the genre or even just appreciate the subjects, the better!

IMG_4103-2Learn the art of capturing high detail macro images with my upcoming tutorial series

The importance of being receptive

June 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

At the end of a long shooting session, when you have lost the light and exhaustion is setting in, it becomes all to easy to take off your shooting glasses and let your senses return to the everyday world. 

It’s at these times however where we need to develop the ability to remain receptive to everything around us. Without even realising, it is possible to slip into a closed mindset where things around us fail to register and we wander blindly through a landscape that at other times would spark our creative juices.

When I first started out in photography, I found that this exact scenario would occur regularly. At the end of a session I would leave an area without noticing the potential around me, only to return at a later stage and wonder how I had missed this shot or that previously. Once I had pinpointed what was happening, I made it a goal to always stay focused until I had returned to the end of my trail.

Waiting for a fairytale“Waiting for a fairytale” *
Canon 5D, 17-40L @ 39mm, f13, 1 sec

On a recent outing I found myself on an isolated beach, with a walk of a few kilometres back to my vehicle. The last light of the day had faded and only my trusty torch kept me company. When I headed off the beach and back onto one of several trails that returned to my vehicle, it would have been easy to simply put my head down and slog my way back with thoughts only for a hot meal and a soft pillow. Instead I remained receptive and scanned the off trail areas for potential.

At one point where two trails intersected, a brighter area about 50 metres down the intersecting trail registered on my periphery and stopped me in my tracks. I scanned the area with my torch and was struck by how closed in the trail around the brighter patch was. I could make out twisted vines and trunks arching over the trail and as I swept the torch over the area, the odd large fallen leaf would appear as a flash of glowing yellow. The whole area had an ominous mood about it, as if something had crafted the pathway for its own use and always at the limit of my vision was the brighter patch, as if luring me to come through the twisted trail.

At the time there was simply not enough light to do anything with the scene, so I made a mental note to return early the following morning and investigate the area further. To my relief on returning, I noted that I hadn’t simply let my weary mind turn the scene into something more than it was. The same mood still existed and the soft pre-dawn light allowed me capture a scene that I could easily have missed had I not be receptive to it’s potential after a long days shooting.

*Note: The viewing angle on certain monitors can greatly affect the brightness and hence mood of this image. Please ensure you are viewing from directly in front and the image is at eye height for best effect.

Minnippi park update

June 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Today I am happy to report some good news in the Minnippi park saga! The head of the 2 million tree project along with other council representatives have met with us and gone through the rational behind the habitat clearing as well as the proposal for the area.Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the meeting personally, but those that did have reported back and are feeling much happier about the situation.

There will now be a mixture of around 12 different species of trees used in a less dense planting as well as the re-sowing of several grass species in the area.

While the best solution would be the one that was never needed (ie: No habitat destruction to begin with!) we all feel that this is the next best outcome and look forward to the time when the insect population returns to the area. No doubt it will take a few years but at least there is a definite light at the end of the tunnel now!

To all those that have offered support and their thoughts, we are sincerely grateful!

Anthony

Devastation at Minnippi Park

June 6, 2011 § 8 Comments

I recently went to one of my main shooting locations for an early morning macro session but as I was walking towards the area I could tell that something wasn’t right. From a few hundred meters away, the glimpses I was catching through the trees were not matching up in my mind with the area I know so well.

As I came to the edge of the maintained area in front of where my morning shooting sessions are normally focused I stopped and stared in horror as a wave of first disbelief and then nausea hit me. This entire section of park that once supported so much life and provided vital habitat for the breeding and survival of many species had been razed to the ground! The area mainly consisted of long grasses with probably 30 smallish trees spread throughout that provided a unique habitat in the park.

At the time we had no idea what the deal was, but seeing as this is the spot where about 70% (at a guess) of my images from the last couple of years have come from, we were going to do our best to find out.

Over the last week and a half we have been in touch with local council and have found out that the area has been cleared as part of the “2 million trees” campaign. The Lord Mayor has set a target of planting 2 million trees in the Brisbane area to make the city “greener”. While the initiative is fantastic in principle, it is beginning to reek of nothing but bureaucracy in it’s execution.

It seems the local councillor either knew nothing of the goings on or just didn’t care as he fobbed us off to another member of council. From there we were told that the area had been cleared and that 2,555 new trees of the same species that are in the area are to be planted. Apparently this was to be done “to increase the biodiversity of the area”. It would seem that only those sitting behind a desk who have never actually bothered to set foot in the park could possibly think that the wanton destruction of a unique habitat to be replaced with an expansion of an already existing (and more widespread) habitat could possibly increase the biodiversity.

The lack of logic and planning behind the move goes even further though as to fit the aforementioned 2,555 trees in the area, they will need to planted almost literally on top of each other. At a pinch, I would estimate that planting around 300 or so of the selected trees would provide a complete canopy over the area and essentially obliterate any chances that the required grasses could reappear. Planting close to 10 times that many will provide an interesting spectacle if nothing else!

Unfortunately, as is so often the case when it comes to government, it seems that as soon as a few tough questions start being asked a wall goes up and that’s the end of it. At the first mention of whether any sort of environmental impact study was completed our emails were redirected to higher authorities and have since been ignored. Funny how that works!

I wish there were examples we could take heart from, but the last lot of work that was carried out in the park leaves little to inspire hope for a bright outcome. A bike path has been built through the bush at the northern end of the park, along which 218 trees were planted. Of these planted trees, 88 have died and the rest of the area is choked with weeds and has become a pungent cesspool as the bike path has interrupted the natural flow of water away from the area. I wonder if this is what is destined for our once abundant life supporting habitat? And once they have finished “improving” Minnippi park, where will the powers that be decide to turn their wisdom…

As I said earlier, the “2 million trees” initiative has great potential and I’m sure it was conceived for the right reasons. It’s the execution that has let it down. Even those blind to nature would surely struggle to see the sense in destroying one green habitat to try and establish another. Wouldn’t the scheme work better and achieve more if it was to reclaim areas that are in actual need of it? Apparently there’s too much logic in that sentiment for those in power to comprehend though. Or maybe it’s just cheaper and quicker to do it the easy way in the hope of garnering another few votes.

In honour of what was once, in my opinion, one of the premier macro areas in the heart of Brisbane I’ve added a handful of images below, all shot at Minnippi, of some of the former residents. May they find a new home that suits their needs.

RIP Minnippi.

M-IMG_6286Many dragonfly species would use the thicker grasses as an overnight perch away from the waters edge where temperatures remained significantly warmer.

M-IMG_0262The small trees spread throughout the grasses were home to range of colourful and varied leaf beetles that used them for food and shelter.

M-IMG_0622The small trees and grasses between were also home to many small frogs who used them for shelter and as an important gateway to other areas.

M-IMG_1211Tiny native bees used the grasses to roost over night With an easterly aspect, the grasses were the perfect place to wait for the first rays of the early morning sun.

M-IMG_1780A host of different spiders used the grasses to hunt, playing an important balancing role in the ecosystem.

M-IMG_1853Insects such as grasshoppers would use the small trees and grasses for both shelter and food.

M-IMG_2285The entire life cycle of several wasp species were played out in the thick grasses and small trees, using them for shelter and as nest building sites.

M-IMG_6279Arial predators such as robber flies had the perfect hunting grounds to perfect their art and help keep everything in balance.

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If anyone out there finds these sort of inexplicable actions as disheartening as I do, I would love it if you could leave a quick comment to show those “in charge” that people do actually care about how areas such as these are being treated! I hope these comments will go some way to getting those in power to actually think before they act!

Anthony

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