Tag Archives: Female

Portrait Session with Anabelle

It has been a few years since I shot any portraits, and in recent months, the desire to shoot some more portraiture came back to me.

A friend of mine has a very photogenic daughter, Anabelle, who I thought would make a great subject.

In terms of location and conditions, I want to photograph her in natural surroundings during the warmth of the late afternoon light.

I also wanted to use my new lens for the shoot, plus my staple portraiture lens.

We headed over to Rouse Hill Regional Park, where, after some earlier recce, I had located a nice lake with trees and grasses surrounding it.

Here are some of the images I captured:



In this image, I captured this distant shot of Anabelle beaming as the sun shone upon her.

Anabelle in the Park

Anabelle in the Park

For this image, I specifically wanted rim lighting on Anabelle‘s hair, so I had her facing away from the sun, and I used a reflector to bounce the wam, late afternoon light back onto her.

When photographing human subjects during golden hour, the challenge is that even though the sun is low in the sky, if a human subject looks into the sun, the eyes will be largely hidden due to squinting.

That never looks good in images, so the work-around is to have the subject facing either 90 degrees or 180 degrees away from the sun, and use a reflector to bounce the light back.

Lastly, a black and white image:

Portrait of Anabelle

Portrait of Anabelle

This is a close-up portrait of Anabelle as she sat in the park during the final moments before sunset.

While this image was originally shot in colour, I also wanted a striking black and white version.

All in all, it was a fun and productive session.

It was Anabelle‘s first time modelling, and she did well.  I landed some pleasing images in the conditions I had pictured in my mind, which is always satisfying.

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

While we are not quite done with the year 2014 yet, it is 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 did not shoot a single seascape, and I am not too bothered by that.  I did it for years; everyone is doing it, and I cannot be bothered any more.  It is always there, and I can always return to it if the interest re-ignites; but for now, it is dormant.

The year 2014 started with a trip in January 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.



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 have been in trough territory for much of the year.  That is completely fine, as it is 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 is 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 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.

Shani Shines

As I wrote earlier today, this afternoon I had a portrait session planned with Shani.

The weather was perfect for what I had in mind, and at Carss Park, a place I had visit during my childhood, I shot a number of portraits of Shani in the park.

The theme was ‘summer girl in the park’, and I specifically wanted to use warm, available light and reflectors to capture Shani‘s beauty.

Here is one of the stand-out images from the session:



This image was shot mid-afternoon when the sunlight was still fairly harsh, but slowly becoming warmer.

I love the very slightly dishevelled, wind-swept look here, and the intensity of her eyes.  Using only natural light and a gold reflector or two, the sunlight was bounced back to reveal her eyes and complexion against the rich green grass in the background.

Later on, for the very brief period of time late in the afternoon when the sun was close to dipping behind the landscape, I captured Shani in actual golden hour light, but again made the most of reflectors rather than messing around with flashes.

If you have good light, why not use it?

Here is one of my favourite shots of Shani basking in the sunlight:

Shani at the Park

Shani at the Park

There will be more images to follow in the coming days, but for now I am very pleased with the images.

Shani has again shown herself to be a great model with a look that suits my style of portraiture.

A Second Portrait Session with Shani

Today I am heading off for a second portrait session with Shani.

Our first session was drastically altered due to wet weather, but I still saw potential for a great shoot, so I changed the location (which would provide shelter) and the style of the shoot.

Amongst some very pleasing images we shot on the day was this image:

The Look

The Look

Today we are heading to the original venue I had in mind, with the original theme I had in mind, under the original weather conditions I had in mind.

My intention is to utilise the available light as much as possible (which I also did during our first shoot), but I will have my most of my rig of lighting equipment with me in case we need it or decide to get a little more creative.

Shani is a great model, and I am seeing some nice images in my mind for this afternoon‘s shoot.

Back into Portraiture

It has been quite a while since I shot portraits — over eighteen months, in fact.

Until today, my last portraits shoot was in November of 2010.  I decided to take a break from shooting portraits, and as it turned out, I spent most of 2011 shooting images outside the scope of my main two subject matter interests: seascapes and portraits.

By chance at a group photoshoot/workshop recently, I ran into Chris, whom I had previously met in the pre-dawn darkness at a seascape shoot early in April.

This time Chris had his daughter with him.  While I was setting up, he came over, introduced his daughter Shani, and told me they were both interested in doing some portrait work with me.  With one look at her amazing eyes, I knew that she should be in front of my camera.

Let me introduce Shani:



See what I mean about her eyes?

Not only does Shani work well in front of a camera, but she is a fashion designer who designs and makes her own clothing.

In the future, she will be modelling her designs and creations in front of my lens.

Shani is a great model, lots of fun, and we are looking forward to creating more images together.  We have a few concepts in mind, so it is only a matter of time before the images come to life.

Here is another image I shot of Shani earlier during our session today.



I am looking forward to working more with Shani, and that chance meeting, combined with the group shoot/workshop, re-invigorated my desire to shoot portraits.

To quote one of my favourite YouTube personalities, “life is good”.

Revisiting Sarah Jane

After looking at some portraits today, I felt inspired to trawl back through the archives of some portraits I shot last year.

In September of 2010 I photographed a fantastic young model called Sarah Jane Kelly.  The shoot took place at Berrima in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales.

I had photographed Sarah once before, but I wanted a country setting and some beautiful golden hour light.  I hit pay-dirt.

I landed some nice images of Sarah on the day, but only processed and published a few of them after the shoot.

Today I started looking at a few of the images, and found some, which after some time and with fresh eyes, stood out and looked worthy of processing and publishing.

Here is one of the images I captured of Sarah, which really shows what a wonderful model she is.

Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane

While I had my lighting equipment with me, I decided to make use of the fantastic natural light I had.  The sun was low in the sky to the rear right of Sarah, so I had an assistant hold a golden reflector dish to bounce the rich, warm light towards her face.