Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Articles about miscellaneous subjects

Guest Speaker at Photography Club

A few months ago, a good friend of mine, who I had met years ago in the camera club scene, and who now runs a small but rapidly growing photography club, invited me back to his club as a guest speaker to deliver a presentation at the September meeting.

Last year I had presented at the same club, and I delivered an audio-visual show and talk about wildlife photography.

This time, the theme I chose was light and composition, and I titled my presentation and talk A Perfectionist’s Guide to Light and Composition.

I am a very fussy photographer, and I fuss about light and composition in particular, so it made for an excellent subject which I thought would provide good value to the club’s members, many of whom are relatively new to photography.

We are now living in a digital age, and the proliferation of digital cameras has put cameras into the hands of many people who would never bother to own a camera if the medium was still film.

Additionally, technology, both in terms of cameras and generally, has progressed at a rapid rate.  The unfortunate side-effect of this digital ‘explosion’ is that many people who get into photography worry more about gear and technology than the basics of good photography.

For my presentation, I wanted to focus (so to speak) on the basics, and examine in words and pictures some of the crucial building blocks of great images.

My presentation started with a audio-visual slideshow of a wide variety of my best images from the seven types of subject matter upon which my photography is based.

I then proceeded to provide an introduction to light, talking about what is light, and the properties and effects of different types of lighting.  Along with this, I presented different images which highlighted both good light and ‘bad’ light, and I showed examples of how flat light looks, compared to the more dramatic and engaging side lighting.

My next topic was composition.  For this topic, I went into the ‘rules’ of composition, but rather than calling them ‘rules’, I called them ‘principles’, and explained the main principles of composition, why they work, and why one could or should break the rules in some circumstances.

Along with the key points about effective composition, I again provided numerous photographic examples, and pointed out that many of my images use several principles of composition rather than just one.

The club’s members and guests asked me questions from time to time, and some of the questions raised brought up closely related topics which my presentation did not originally address, so thanks to those members and guests, I was able to provide more information which would help them in their pursuits.

All in all, it was a great night, and I am pleased that I had the opportunity to share my images and knowledge, and help newer photographers think about, and put into practice, the fundamentals of light and composition.

Fortunately there was very little focus on gear, and no questions about “What did you use to capture that?”, to which my answer might have been “light, composition, and a camera”.

To my delight, I have been asked back to the club to deliver another presentation early next year, so I look forward to engaging more with the club’s members to help them along their photographic journeys.

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Writing for Australian Photography Magazine

As I related in my previous update, I was fortunate to have one of my seascape images selected for the September, 2011 cover of Australian Photography magazine.

What I didn’t mention is that there was something else in the making with regard to the magazine.

One day in August I received a call from editor Robert Keeley regarding my cover image submissions.  Later in the afternoon he called again, and I presumed it was about the status of my cover image, but he needed to discuss something else altogether.

On his desk were prints of two of my images I had weeks earlier submitted to the magazine for its regular photography competition.  He was impressed with the images, but one of them really grabbed his attention.  He told me that he saw a story in my image, and asked me if I’d consider writing a feature article for the magazine on the type of photography I had been practising.

That was an unexpected but pleasant surprise!

The catch was that my image could not be entered into the competition if it were to form part of a feature article.  I was told to give it some thought and let him know which path I wanted to take.

Competitions are a dime a dozen, but the invitation to write an article isn’t something that comes along very often, if at all.  Freelance writing for photography magazines is something I had never even considered.

A few days later I called Robert and gave him my decision.  At this stage there was no rush to complete the article.  However, a week or two later, I received another call.  Through circumstance, he needed my article sooner than expected, so I needed to quickly commence writing.  I sent him ten images relating to my article’s subject, and he expressed interest in eight of them and asked me to write about them.

He ran me through the motions and requirements and provided me with the editorial guidelines.  He was keen for me to make sure I got it right so that he could easily run the story.  The man is insanely busy and the process of putting the magazine together is even more frantic and insane.  Contributors need to get it right to make the process easier for the editor, or else being left on the editing room floor is a very likely outcome.

This week, I commenced working on my article, and submitted my first draft.

Today I received a call from the editor, and to my shock I was told that the article was 90% of the way there in terms of suitability.  There are a few minor changes to make, and some other formalities to handle, but after the time I spent on my article this week, and my associated worry over the draft article’s suitability to his and the magazine’s requirements, I was relieved that I had reached this point without needing to do any major re-work.

My article is to appear in the November issue of the magazine.

What I can say about this journey, apart from it being quite a privilege and new experience, is that writing for a magazine is very difficult, as space is extremely limited.  My writing style is fairly liberal, but unfortunately the world of print-based feature article writing doesn’t permit the sort of latitude I’d like; it’s far removed from blogs and Internet forums.

Condensing my article’s content and trimming details upon which I’d prefer to have elaborated was not an easy task, and I expected that my content would be ruthlessly edited.  Of course, it’s still subject to editing before it finds its way onto paper!

I’ll post an update once the magazine has been published.

A New Sense of Direction

For the past few months I had been very much disconnected from photography.

I wasn’t shooting; I wasn’t meeting with like-minded people; and I wasn’t reading or posting much.

Last year I did gain some inspiration, and very recently (only this week) was inspired by the HDR images of one of the members of a photographic forum I frequent.

Consequently I started experimenting with HDR this week, and have had some very pleasing results so far.

After a few shoots and some pleasing imagery, I am convinced I have rediscovered my photographic mojo.  I never felt I lost it; it was just pushed aside for a while, and I knew I’d get back into it; it was just a matter of when rather than if.

In the process of so doing, I’ve found that I have moved away from my usual subject matter of dawn seascapes and models.

I have a new direction, and my photographic work this year will consist of photographing scenes of Sydney during evening twilight, as well as capturing some of the city’s splendid interiors and producing HDR images along the lines of my recent work.

The project is called Blue Sydney.

For now, I’m parking seascapes and models.  I’ve found that I just don’t have a strong drive in those areas at the moment, and frankly, over the past three years I’ve shot a lot of dawn seascapes and plenty of models.  I’m not saying goodbye to these subjects altogether, but they’ll definitely take a back seat to what is currently driving me.

I cannot force myself in a particular direction; I have to wait as long as it takes until something taps me on the shoulder and really makes me take notice.  The new imagery I have created, and am in the process of creating, as well as the broader theme behind it, has done precisely that.  I will go with it until it’s time for a change of scenery.

It’s a new year, and there is some new photographic direction.  Bring it on.

Annie Leibovitz at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Tomorrow we’re heading into town to see the Annie Leibovitz exhibition at the at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

It’s a good opportunity to see the work of this famous photographer, and priced quite affordably.

Afterwards we may toodle over to the Powerhouse Museum for the 1980s exhibition.  It’s slightly frightening that we’re at a point now where the 1980s can be considered nostalgic!

 

Temporary Hiatus

Of late I’ve found that I haven’t had much inspiration for, or interest in, photography.

I haven’t shot much, I haven’t published much, and I haven’t written much, either here or on a photography forum I frequent.

I am not feeling inspired to even read the forum or some unread photography magazines that have been sitting unread for many weeks, and I haven’t been to my camera club for over two months.

I suspect it’s a combination of several factors:

  1. it’s that time of year when I find myself very tired and in need of a rest;
  2. the fact that I have had and continue to have a fair amount going on both personally and work-wise; and
  3. a lack of recent ‘wow-factor’ images that inspire me to shoot more.

It’s probably just a phase that will pass with time.

First Timer at Motorsport Photography

Today I took a very significant deviation from my photographic subject matter interest and photographed motorsport.

Back in July a good friend of mine invited me along to photograph the iRace Round 7 meet at Eastern Creek International Raceway.

Now, I’m not particularly interested in sports, know practically nothing about motorsport and have no interest in cars, but it was a good opportunity to try a form of photography I’d otherwise never consider, and with which I’d had no prior experience.  Sometimes it’s good to get radical and step well and truly out of one’s normal comfort zone.

Knowing it was sports and that there’d be distances involved, I went armed with my camera, 70-200/2.8, 300/2.8, 1.4x TC and 2x TC.

I came away with some key learnings today:

  1. motorsport photography is not easy;
  2. it’s necessary to shoot a lot of frames;
  3. for every good or great image, you’ll shoot hundreds of not-so-good images;
  4. windy conditions (50km/h westerly) make shooting with long lenses more challenging, and lens hoods are basically wings;
  5. it’s easy to photograph a moving car, but harder to produce a great image of a moving car;
  6. images with blurred wheels and blurred backgrounds are much more dynamic; and
  7. panning a 4kg camera rig to follow a car moving at 300km/h isn’t all that easy.

The day was a new experience, both photographically and in general.

Getting Back into Band Photography

I was engaged recently to do a promotional photoshoot for Sydney band The Rubber Band (of which I was originally a member when it was starting, and in which I played a fill-in role on drums earlier this year).

I am also a musician, have been playing for 25 years, and last year retired from the band of which I played lead guitar for some six years.  In addition to that, I was doing photoshoots for other bands.

When I was asked to shoot the Rubber Band (great guys and girl, BTW), I welcomed the opportunity on multiple levels:

  1. I’d get to hang with the gang again;
  2. I’d produce some images of which both the band and myself would be happy; and
  3. the shoot would open the door to future opportunities.

The shoot produced some very pleasing images, and to my delight the band loved them.

Here’s one of Michelle belting out a song:

Michelle's Magnificence

Michelle’s Magnificence

I also did some video work on the night, and that renewed my dormant interest in video/cine work.  Once upon a time I wanted to become a cinematographer.

It was a fun night, and one of the rare opportunities these days I get to hear a live band without playing in it!

The experience renewed my interest in shooting bands, as well as video/cine work, which I never thought I’d want to do.

I’m looking forward to working with The Rubber Band again, and I can see some great opportunities ahead.

Here are a few more images from the shoot:

Joel in Sound Check

Joel in Sound Check

Paul and the Amazing Technicolour Stage Truck

Paul and the Amazing Technicolour Stage Truck