Next gallery page added

August 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Another day, another gallery page! The second of the gallery pages has now been uploaded to this blog. In the menu on the left, you should now find a link to the Landscape gallery page. Still a few pages to go including Monochrome and Macro images!

Gallery page added

July 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s taken a little while to get around to, but I’ve finally added the first gallery page to this blog. In the menu on the left, you should now find a link to the Seascapes gallery page. Future updates will see pages for Landscape, Monochrome and Macro images, so stay tuned!

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!

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.

Fighting the elements

May 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Torrential rain, thick fog, raging waters and a maze of back roads. A mate and I had organised to head down the coast to Fingal head for an evening shoot but as it turns out, mother nature was waiting in ambush for us around the QLD/NSW border!

We had left in decent conditions, some high clouds hinting at a chance of ideal sunset conditions, but as we drove south things began to deteriorate rapidly. By the time we reached our destination, we were in the middle of a torrential downpour and with no end in sight we made the call to head back north in an attempt to find some weather that we could actually shoot it.

We decided to head inland at Tweed heads in the hope of finding a westerly aspect, but the first view that struck us was looking east as we crested the hills around Bilambil. After some creative parking we grabbed out the long lenses and watched as a blanket of thick fog rolled up the valley beneath us and white-washed everything into a pale oblivion

IMG_5303“Shrouded in mist”
Canon 5D, 70-200L @ 200mm, f5.6, 1/320th

After shooting for a while we headed off again, still hoping for a good view west, but soon found ourselves stuck in a maze of back streets on the eastern side of the hills. It was at about this point that we thanked recent advancements in technology and slowly extracted ourselves via GPS.

We headed south west and found ourselves on a winding country road that looked to have decent potential. Before long though our hopes were scuppered as we came to a level crossing that was well under water, the creek raging after plenty of recent rain.

We turned around and backtracked, intending to look for another route but at the next crossing we noticed a scene full of potential as a large moss covered tree leaned over the fast flowing waters of a creek. We decided to stop and have a look as the water was still about half a meter below the level of crossing, but in the time it took to grab our gear and head towards the tree, the creek had risen to the point of lapping the crossing! Not wanting to spend the night in the area, we chose the smart option in headed back to higher ground.

By now it was obvious that there would be no sunset; heavy clouds obscured the sky and we were not in a position to shoot it even if things had have panned out differently.  Instead we stopped on the side of the road and shoot a small hidden valley that could be seen from the fence line. It was a great little spot that I’d love to revisit in the hope of actually gaining access for a better look around.

IMG_5331“Hidden valley”
Canon 5D, 70-200L @ 135mm, f11, 2 seconds

From there we headed back east as the gloom of an overcast evening settled in. We did come across another spot that looked to have potential; a long stretch of thick pine trees guarding a narrow road, but by the time we had set up, exposure times were out to 5+ minutes and with absolute dark closing in, things were only going to get worse. We ended up abandoning the scene to return another day and headed north, fully aware that mother nature had bested us once again.  

Walkthrough: Evening storm

May 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Evening storm“Evening Storm”
Canon 5D, 17-40L @ 25mm, f16, 4 seconds
3 stop soft edge ND grad filter

                                  Behind the scenes
Some afternoons are fairly standard, and some tend to throw up a few surprises. The afternoon on which this image was shot definitely falls into the latter category.

I had been working various spots on the southern side of the headland at Hastings Point, watching as the small storm cell in the image tracked slowly north west along the beach. What I wasn’t aware of was the larger, more intense cell moving in from the north west, my view blocked by the headland behind me. It wasn’t until the light levels dropped drastically as the late afternoon sun was blotted out that I realised what was happening.

Within minutes lightning flashes were being followed almost instantly by massive thunder claps and I was scrambling up the headland to the shelter of my car, tripod in hand with camera still attached.

Those 5 minutes are a blur and really drove home the lesson that you need eyes in the back of your head whenever you are shooting by the ocean’s edge!

                                        Composition
I had come across this spot a little earlier in the afternoon when my attention had been grabbed by the boulder depicted in the foreground. I have shot around this headland a number of times, but this was the first time I had noticed the roundness of this boulder, primarily as it only appears so round from this one particular angle.

I  had taken note of the spot, but as this scene looks due south I wasn’t sure whether late afternoon light would be the best option. When this storm head began to blow into position however I knew it would make the perfect backdrop for the shot.

I returned and worked on finding the final composition shown above. Using the round boulder as an anchor in the foreground, I worked with the diagonals formed by the rocks on either side and adjusted my position slightly in two planes. Firstly, I moved upwards until the background rocks were no longer breaking the line of the beach and land beyond, and secondly, I moved slightly to my left to position the downpour from the storm head directly above the saddle in the largest rock.

                                         Technical
The first technical decision I made was how I wanted the water to be rendered. There was very minimal action in the water, no breaking waves as such, but more like watching water run into and being let out of a sink. This made the decision to go with a calmer approach to this area of the image easier, particularly as I wanted the main drama to come from the storm head. I decided to go with a longer exposure to “smooth” out the water and after playing with different combinations of aperture and ISO settled on a shutter speed of 4 seconds… long enough to blur the water but still leave some textures rather than completely white trails.

From these test exposures I could see that the sky was a few stops over exposed so I fitted 3 stops of soft edged graduated neutral density filters to pull the sky back into the same exposure range as the foreground.

By now I had all the compositional and technical aspects in place, so I enabled mirror lockup and using a remote cable release, tripped the shutter for the final exposure.

                                    Final thoughts
This is an images that I will always clearly remember shooting. It was one of those moments when all the elements align and you just happen to be in the right spot to take advantage of them.

It’s interesting to hear peoples takes on this image, from seeing “the earth” in the rounder boulder, to “a giant crab” or “octopus” in the middle ground rocks.

For me though, I remember the scene for the small storm head that acted as a perfect decoy for it’s larger counterpart that managed to sneak in behind me. Had the area been further from shelter I could have been in an interesting position, but thankfully that was another one of those things that came together right when I needed it!

Moving through time

May 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s 4:00am. The overly optimistic sounds of an orchestra ushering in a new day have been silenced with a sideways swipe of my hand. Around me is utter blackness, the sounds of light rain are at complete odds to the cocoon of warmth I have trapped beneath the blanket.  Sleep is proving a tempting mistress as she teases the frayed edges of my consciousness, looking for a foothold to lull me back to her. But there’s work to be done. She wont reclaim me on this morning… at least not yet.

IMG_3799“Wynnum pier”
Canon 5D, 17-40L @ 40mm, f22, 15 sec

It’s on mornings like these that it is so easy to give in to the temptations of warmth and comfort. But mornings like these also lend themselves to making great images. Under a leaden sky exposure times lengthen, opening up new opportunities and I find myself thinking in black and white. The world reduces to a series of lines, shapes and tones as colours wash away.

IMG_3798-2“Sand vortex”
Canon 5D, 17-40L @ 20mm, f18, 30 sec

My vision slows and I look across time to see the differences between now and then, viewing the world in slow motion to better understand the effects of time on the movable objects surrounding me. The world moves by but I stand motionless, tethered to the lines and shapes.

IMG_3796“The old dock”
Canon 5D, 17-40L @ 22mm, f18, 30 sec

When the tether finally breaks with the sound of a soft click, I return to the world of colour and time and set a course back to the warm embrace of my mistress, opening myself to her footholds and drifting back to her sleep eternal…

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