Category Archives: Workshops

Articles relating to photographic workshops the author has attended

2014 Retrospective: Low-Output Year, but Such is Life

While we’re not quite done with the year 2014 yet, it’s close enough to publish a retrospective of the year from a photographic perspective.

Firstly, it was my most low-output year on record; but with other commitments and interests, and a waning interest in photography, I can live with that.

I only published 32 images shot this year.  2013, despite two overseas trips, was also low in output, with some 50 images online.  In the years before, I had a much higher output rate.

For a number of years, seascape photography was my main interest.  This year I didn’t shoot a single seascape, and I’m not too bothered by that.  I did it for years; everyone’s doing it, and I cannot be bothered any more.  It’s always there, and I can always return to it if the interest re-ignites; but for now, it’s dormant.

The year 2014 started with a trip to Adelaide and the McLaren Vale wine region — it was a wine trip, not a photography trip; but I shot a few images at the Penfolds Magill Estate winery.

Penfolds Magill Estate Winery

Penfolds Magill Estate Winery

Also early in the year, we headed to the Australian Reptile Park, where I shot one decent image of a Tasmanian devil.  It was more of a fun day out with some close friends, but I dragged a camera and a few big lenses along, and shot in dreadful light.

Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devil

Around Valentine’s Day, the macro lens came out of hibernation, and I shot some very pleasing images of Xenedette’s rose.

Petals

Petals

My next photographic adventure was a weekend-long landscape photography workshop with Peter Eastway and David Oliver, where I shot some pleasing aerial images of the Hunter Valley.  The trip was organised through the Focus Photographers group, and it was a great weekend away with like-minded photographers.

Hills of the Hunter

Hills of the Hunter

In May, Xenedette and I headed away to Jenolan Caves for a mini-getaway, where we toured six caves, and where I opted for low-light hand-held photography using my fastest prime lenses to capture the ‘ambient artificial’ light highlighting the magnificent decorations in the caves.  I also got in a bit of architecture photography during the trip.

Shawls of the Lucas Cave

Shawls of the Lucas Cave

In August I headed away with the Focus Photographers group again, also to the Hunter Valley, for a weekend of landscape and natural-light portrait photography with David and Clare Oliver.

As always, there is something to learn from these masters of photography, and I gained an appreciation for natural light from south-facing windows, which produces very soft, flattering portraits, and which is consistent throughout the day, making shooting very easy, as the light is always soft and even.

Father and Daughter

Father and Daughter

Finally, I bought a new 400mm f/2.8 lens for next year’s wildlife safari in Kenya, and in the mean time, dabbled with a few images of near-full moons in September.

Waxing Gibbous Part II

Waxing Gibbous Part II

All in all, 2014 was undeniably a low-output year in terms of photography, but I did gain some new images, new experiences and new contacts; and delved into some of the photographic genre I shoot, as well as a few other less-frequent subjects.

Photography is a pursuit I view as one which can have its peaks and troughs, and for me, I’ve been in trough territory for much of the year.  That’s completely fine, as it’s always there, and I learned long ago to read the signs and go with the flow, seeking images and experiences when the desire makes itself known to me, and not forcing productive output when it’s just not in me.

Photographically, next year will be quite different, with the trip to Kenya being the highlight, but who knows what other photographic experiences I will gain…

And so ends a retrospective of my 2014 photographic year.

Away with David and Clare Oliver

Last weekend I ventured off to the Hunter Valley to attend a portrait and landscape workshop hosted by David Oliver, GM Photog., and his daughter Clare — the creative father-daughter team behind David Oliver Photography.

The two-day workshop consisted of two portraiture sessions using natural light, an afternoon landscape shoot, an early-morning aerial landscape shoot and some post-processing and Q&A.

During the weekend I captured three very pleasing images, and also learned more from these greats of photography.

While I have shot portraiture for years, using both available light and artificial light, the one key learning point from this weekend was the quality of window light from a south-facing window.

It is absolutely beautiful light for portraiture, and I can see why David and Clare use it extensively in their portraits.

Here are the three stand-out images I captured during the weekend:

Clare Oliver

Clare Oliver

Clare Oliver is an accomplished wedding and portrait photographer, who doubled as a model for the workshop.

In this portrait early into the first portraiture session, we used window light from a south-facing window.

While I have used natural light in a number of my portraits, I definitely found the natural window light from a south-facing window to be very soft and pleasing.

Father and Daughter

Father and Daughter

This is David Oliver, AIPP Grand Master of Photography, and his daughter Clare.

Together, these fantastic people are make up the father-and-daughter team of David Oliver Photography.

During this session, both were posing in David’s Hunter Valley gallery during the delivery of a portrait and landscape photography weekend workshop.

However, to me, this shot is more than a “workshop shot”, as it depicts a genuine, warm moment of the father-daughter bond which exists between David and Clare. I was fortunate enough to have captured this fleeting glimpse of emotion during the otherwise clinical business of delivering a workshop.

Both Olivers are well known for their work behind the camera, but in this shot their work in front of the camera is as equally powerful to my eyes.

Valley of Mount Richardson

Valley of Mount Richardson

A view towards Dungog from high above Mount Richardson in the Hunter Valley, taken early in the morning with David Oliver during his portraiture and landscape photography weekend.

This was the second time I had shot this area of the Hunter Valley from a helicopter (a Robinson R44 for heli-nerds).  In my experience with aerial photography, one takes many shots, but all one needs is one or two stand-out images, and in my case, this image was “the one”.

I had it printed on Epson Hot Press Natural paper from David’s Epson printer, and it looks absolutely stunning in print — far better than the on-screen version can convey.

All in all, it was a fun weekend, in which David and Clare shared their huge collections of experiences and tips, and where the quality of south-facing window light stood clear in my mind as a key tool to use in future portraiture sessions.

Hills of the Hunter

This weekend I went away with David Oliver and Peter Eastway — two of Australia’s leading photographers — and some friends from the Flickr FOCUS group.

We attended an intense two-day landscape photography workshop with David and Peter, and shot in and around Gresford and Dungog in the picturesque Hunter Valley, both from the ground and from the air on an early-morning helicopter flight.

The aerial photography component was all about beautiful lighting and capturing the contours of the landscape.

This was the stand-out image from the aerial session.

Hills of the Hunter

Hills of the Hunter

With this image, all of the elements aligned, except I didn’t know it at the time.

A glorious patch of light illuminated this isolated tree on the rolling hills, and a natural leading line points right at it.  Also hidden within the intricacies of this image are animals grazing on the hills.

It was a fantastic weekend, and this image alone was very pleasing.  Peter made an A3 print of this image, so I will have it framed and hang it proudly in our home.

Landscape Photography Workshop with Two Grand Masters

This weekend I am attending a landscape photography workshop in the Hunter Valley, hosted by two Australian Grand Masters of Photography: Peter Eastway and David Oliver.

I have met both of these charming photographers in the past, but this weekend I will gain a more personal experience shooting landscapes with them, and learning from their many years of experience.

It should give my landscape photography (which has been on a hiatus for too long) a much-needed kick-start.  One of the highlights of the workshop is a helicopter flight for some aerial photography of the landscape in which we will be immersed.

Hopefully upon my return I will have some fresh and pleasing images.

More Macro: Canna Colour

Today I attended a macro photography workshop and practical shooting session hosted by my photography buddy Timothy Poulton.

After a morning disussing gear and techniques, we all headed out for lunch and a few drinks, followed by a shoot in the Royal Botanic Gardens, where we looked for insects and other interesting subjects to photograph.

I am still not yet much of a macro photographer, but I did find a nice canna lily with striking colours, so I set about photographing it.

Here is the result of some fairly extensive processing.

Canna Colours

Canna Colours

Brent Pearson’s Off-Camera Flash Workshop

Last Sunday I attended the first session of Brent Pearson’s latest workshop, this time covering off-camera flash, and shooting environmental or landscape-based portraits.

Now, I’m not new to shooting landscapes, models or using off-camera lighting, but I always like to attend such workshops, as it rounds out my knowledge and experience, and I get the opportunity to mingle with people I’ve met as well as new people; and I have the potential to come home with some pleasing images.

To my delight, I achieved all of those objectives.

Here are two images from the session.  One features the funky Jackel in her inked glory, and the other features the elegant Chanelle.  The crazy makeup was the work of makeup artist Glitta Supernova.

Saucy Vandal

Saucy Vandal

 

Star

Star

If you have an interest in off-camera lighting and portraiture and have little or no experience with both, Brent’s off-camera flash workshop is well worth attending.  Even for someone seasoned, there is always the opportunity to refine knowledge or think about things differently.

Maroubra: Calm yet Wild

Today and tonight I attended the first day of Kajo’s seascape workshop.  This is the first of what I gather will be many.

Our location for tonight was Mahon Pool and the surrounding rock shelves at Maroubra.  This is a location I’ve shot twice before (incidentally, once with Kajo), but I had not been there at twilight.

I fired off many frames, but have so far published two very contrasting images.  The first conveys a sense of serenity, with soft, pastel colours and implicit stillness.

Mahon Twilight

Mahon Twilight

The other image tells a story much closer to the truth.  The sea was big, and the tide was rising.  I spotted numerous large waves, including a few ten-foot dumpers, which naturally resulted in massive splashes and surges.  I got reasonably wet, too.  Here’s a glimpse of how tempestuous it was:

Wicked and Wild

Wicked and Wild

So, tonight I produced two very different images, with dramatic contrast in look, feel, action, story and even colour; yet both were shot at the same location within the space of 20 minutes.

I came away with some pleasing images.  Let’s see what becomes of dawn tomorrow.