Happy Mistake Making

We’re well into summer in Australia which means its the season for hot rod shows and show and shines, which seem to be every weekend and they attract people from all walks of life and some of those people have clearly made some pretty bad choices and mistakes along the way. Mistakes like the mullet haircut (why?), poor clothing choices (pockets go on the inside) and rubbish tattoos which led me to think about mistakes I’ve made in photography and I was about to make another without realising it.

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Originally the plan was to photograph hot rods and cars as they cruised passed using a technique called panning. This technique requires slow shutter speeds and the subject needs to be tracked as it passes by. You also need to give consideration to the background as it may distract the viewer away from the subject and the one criticsal technique you need is patience as you shoot because you will more than likely need to adjust shutter speeds on the fly to perfect your shot.

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It wasn’t until the images were downloaded that I realised that none of the subjects were in focus. This is a direct result of my unwillingess to wear my glasses when photographing and resulted in blurry images. I firmly believe that If I had worn them I would have realised that the shutter speed to needed to be increased to ensure the subject is in crisp focus. Lesson learnt…..again

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Even though the subjects are not in focus these images convey movement, exposed properly and the location is, to me at least pretty good. Overall I actually like a couple of them however I am yet to determine if they are print worthy.

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You may not be able to see it but these lovely gentlemen were flashing their rubbish tattoos as their mullets were flapping in the breeze whilst showing me a rarely seen bird but what does stand out is their incredibly bad choice of car.

The key take away for me was to (wear my glasses) not to be afraid to experiment with the camera settings and shoot in manual. I also realised that every mistake I make is another lesson learned and hopefully that mistake won’t be made again in the future.

But we also need to remember that skills are learnt by trial and error. This is the method that we as photographers and creative types learn and grow.

So get out there and make mistakes.

Sunset at Black Rocks

Reading a post from 35hunter about ‘How many photographs should we share in one blog Post‘ had me rushing to review how many photos have been included on this blog and the result is on average 3-5 photos per post. Dan raises an interesting question for sure, which I don’t think is easily answered however Dan made a statement about a single photograph. This statement has really stuck with me for about a week and I can’t seem to shake it, Dan states that:

‘With a very short post that can be purely the photograph with no text, or the photograph plus a few paragraphs of text, I find this approach can be very powerful.

I love the author’s commitment – “This is the single photograph I have chosen for the post, nothing else would do, and now here it is standing up proud”.

I think it encourages those of us reading to give that single photograph more commitment too, to perhaps linger a little longer, and search a little deeper, than we may do if there are two or three other images in the post.’

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I do whole heartedly agree with that statement because as society we have become numb to the sheer volume of images across our social media streams. The effect is most people, including me, scroll without thought or using any brain power.

So I thought that I would apply this thought process to a least one blog post this year but Dan also states that it should be your best work, obviously showcasing your skills as a photographer (or other creative work) but if I did that I would never post any photos as I don’t think I’m yet to produce my best work.

Please jump on over to 35hunter to say Hello and have a look around and ask yourself when was the last time you looked at a single image longer than 0.3 of second and appreciated a photograph.

And I’m curious how many photos you post to your favourite social, either Insta, Facebook or blog?

Happy Shooting

 

Like a 5 Year Old in a Lolly Shop

Not every photo or photo opportunity works out, some times no matter what you do or how hard you try, it just doesn’t happen and thats what happened to me. Late December, I spotted a group of race horses training on my local beach and an idea formed to photograph these beautiful horses. I conjured up images of horses galloping or swimming on the beach with moody clouds in the background, maybe even a little fog or early morning mist. To achieve that I needed everything to align including the Weather Gods to do their job at the same time the horses were training on the beach but alas it was not to be.

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Yep, its a horse on a beach, with rocks in the background!

I don’t know why but several weeks went by with no luck of seeing any race horses however there was plenty of evidence that they had been there as they had left hoof prints in the sand. Taking this to mean that they must train either pretty early in the morning or only on specific days. For the next couple of weeks, I got earlier and earlier every day determined to spot these horses, finally spotting a lone race horse.

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Excited like a 5 year old in a lolly shop to finally see the lone racehorse caused me to forgot the basics and I didn’t ask myself any questions. Over time these questions become second nature these questions are asked and answered pretty quickly before I hit the shutter which reduces the amount of mistakes that could be made in a high pressure situations when getting it right counts.

  • What’s in the background’? Rocks! – Move to improve!
  • Am I shooting into the bright morning sun?’ Yes, maybe photograph down the length of the beach with a telephoto lens would be a better option.
  • What’s at the edges of my frame?
  • Where is my focal point? Is it on the subject
  • Is it in focus? Do I need to put my glasses on for it to be focus? Sadly the answer is Yes, I need my glasses to see the LCD screen/view finder clearly.

As I said these questions form part of a mental checklist in an attempt to reduce the amount of mistakes but there are occasions that the answer you get may not be answer you want or neded. This then provides you the opportunity to determine then and there on the spot if you need to change anything to improve or accept the result.

I may have come away with something different and something that I was happy with if I had asked myself any of the above questions, but I didn’t ask any questions. Maybe I’m being a bit to hard on myself, I’m not sure however these horses train reguarly so there is ample opportunity to improve the overall result.

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When I achieve something decent with this project, I’ll post an update until then I’m off to the lolly shop, anybody want anything?

Oh and remember, Move to Improve!

The 3 Things Challenge

700 hot rods, a hundred or so motorbikes and a few outlaw motorcycle gang members always make car and bike shows interesting. Car shows are a great location to practice your photography skills, either it be people photography or still life. You have ample time to compose your shot and think about the background, Depth of Field, focal points etc and the majority of people are more than happy for you take photos of their pride and joy.

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I always find that this is a fantastic opportunity to challenge yourself to improve your photography skills and you could do something similar. The challenge was 3 things that would force me to stop and think, stop and look and force me to think about my crop in post processing.

  • Use a fixed prime lens

Using a fixed prime lens does one thing really well, it forces you to think! It forces you to really think about how you will compose your shot, forces you to consider what’s at the edges of your frame and probably the most important part of using a fixed prime lens is  you are forced to slow down and take your time.

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However not everyone has a fixed prime lens and if you don’t, don’t stress as most lenses have a little button on the side where you can lock the lens in to a set focal length. If you don’t have that option, there are numerous options you can use to prevent you from zooming in or out like placing some tape over the lens to prevent it from moving.

  • Have a theme

Look for a theme when shooting, it could be a color or a number or a letter, absolutely anything that takes your fancy. This will also make you look harder for your chosen theme and forces you to think how you will incorporate the theme into your image.  The theme I selected was red, not a complete red vintage hot rod as that would have been way to easy but find small amounts of red used in the details on cars or an oversize teddy.

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  • The Post Processing Crop

Its not always possible to be either close enough or far enough away to ensure that there are no unwanted distractions in the shot. Even though a prime lens was used there are distractions such as people in the background or its simply not possible to get close enough due to barriers. Unfortunately, you are forced to crop in post however I decided that the challenge would be to use one crop size only and in this case I chose 16×9. This forces you to about what you were trying to achieve when you hit the shutter, forces you to think about what story is being told through the images and it forces you to think about what you want to keep in or out of the finished image.

 

So that’s the challenge I set myself and maybe next time you are out with your camera, you can set yourself a challenge and drop me a link in the comments below so I can check them out.

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Oh, and I couldn’t help but photograph the overall winner of the day, a Red Chevrolet Belair, a beautiful car.

Happy shooting.

P.S I’m to scared to take photos of outlaw motorcycle gang members! They’re scary people.

5 Tips to Maintain Your Camera Gear

Welcome to 2019, I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a Happy New Year. I’m going to kick 2019 off with 5 tips to help you maintain your camera gear, these tips are pretty simple and real easy to do.

Tip 1 – Defeat Mould

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Mould and condensation can be camera and lens killers. It will develop and you won’t even notice that its growing until its to late, potentially resulting in expensive maintenance or replacement. The best and cheapest method to defeat mould is to drop in a few silica gel packs to your camera bag. They suck up excess moisture in the air reducing the likelihood of mould growing and here’s a little known secret, they can be re-used by chucking them in the microwave for 20 – 30 seconds giving them a new leasse on life.

Tip 2 – Hot Car, Hot Sun – No Good.

Have you ever left your smartphone in the car on a hot sunny day only to come back to find that it wont work or its to hot to even pick up? Leaving your camera gear in a hot car can result in the same damage and can increase battery temperatures and can cook your electronics creating irrerapable damage. Where possible, don’t leave your camera gear in the car for extended periods and if need be, take it with you. You never know when the next photo opportunity might present itself.

Tip 3 – The beach has plenty of Sand…..

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Oh the beach – there is so much sand just waiting to damage your gear, especially when the perosn next to you stands up and shakes all of the sand out of their towel however damage can be avoided by doing some simple things like putting the lens cap back on or putting the camera away when not being used and try not to change lenses as the sand is blown down the beach. Also available at camer stores are lens protection filters or polarising filters. these screw onto the lens and provide a lot of protection. Sometimes  getting sand into your camera gear is unavoidable and my suggestion is to purchase a rocket blower to blow the sand out after you have spent a day at the beach. They are pretty inexpensive and can be purchased in all good camera stores.

Tip 4 – Rain/Wet Conditions

Just because its pouring rain outside doesn’t mean that you should leave your camera at home. Most cameras today are weather sealed to some extent but not all cameras will have the same level of weatherproofing. The very high end DSLR or Mirrorless cameras (Nikon D850, Canon MkIII, Fujifilm XT3) will have the best weather sealing however the lower end models may have a reduced weather sealing capability. You can reduce the amount of water on your camera by carrying an umbrella or place a plastic bag over the camera to provide some protection but if you intend on shooting in wet conditions, carry a dry cloth so you can periodically wipe it dry. This reduces the likelihood of the camera suffering water damage.

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Tip 5 – Get it professionally cleaned

The professional photographers do it, so why shouldn’t you? Your camera gear deserves the same amount of love the pros give their gear. A good service will clean all surfaces inside and out removing any dirt, dust and sand, clean the sensor, view finder and if required a firmware update can be installed making your camera like new again.

I hope that you find these tips useful and would love to know what tips you have to keep your camera gear in top working order.

Happy Shooting and Happy New Year.

Most Popular Post – 2018

I have no idea why but the most popular post for 2018 wasn’t even written in 2018. I originally wrote this blog post in 2011 and to this day, still attracts viewers. Drum roill please, The most popular blog post of 2018 is 12 Real Landscape Photography Tips

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Some of these tips are, to be honest, are real obvious but how many times have you gone out to take photos and not known the tides or worn incorrect footwear, left the torch at home etc. We’ve all done it at some stage and I’m still forgetting something. For example, recently I had to hold the filters in front of the lens because I forgot the filter holder attachment and I knew exactly where it was, at home!

Maybe I should add ‘Don’t forget filter holder attachment’ and change the name to 13 Real Landscape Photography tips.

Let me know in the comments if you have any tips that should be added to the list.

My Top 5 Photos – 2018

We all have them, a favourite photo or two and I’m no different except that I seem to have so many favourites it becomes very hard to choose however after several days of much deliberation I have managed to pick my top 5 photos of 2018.

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Sony A7 – ISO 800 S/S – 1/60 A – f/4.5

Wandering through the old quarters of Jersulam I spotted this old guy sitting quietly in a plastic chair. The light just fell across his body which made him stand out even more in a poorly lit room. Asking if he minded if I took his photo he nodded his head in a No motion and I managed to capture two images. My regret is that I did not take long enough to compose the image properly ultimately leaving details out like his walking cane which may have added more detail to the photo.

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Nikon D810 – ISO 800 S/S – 800 A – f/11

The winner, Italo Ferreira of the Rip Curl Surf Pro Comp at Bells Beach, Victoria won the emotional event however the crowd was there to see Australias favourite surfer, Mick Fanning’s last ride as a professional surfer ending a long surfing career.

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Sony A7 – ISO 64 S/S 1/400s A – f/4

Asking his humans if I could take a photo of their dog they said that he wouldn’t come near me but he did exactly that and walked straight up to me letting me take his photo. Maybe he was looking for a sniff, a lick, a pat or maybe some food but he was pretty happy that he was out for a walk with his humans.

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Sony A7 – ISO 64, S/S 1/50s  A – f/7.1

These three gents stood out from the rest of the crowd on The Beach in Tel Aviv. After downloading and viewing the files I couldn’t help but give the photo the title of Three Amigos and the photo had to be in Black and White. It wasn’t until later that I noticed the middle guy trying to wave me off but by the time he had done that I had already taken two.

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Samsung Note 8 – Camera app Default Setting

The Yellow bus had me standing in the one spot waiting patiently for over 30 minutes so I could snap it passing underneath the corner of the building. Sometimes the best camera you have is your smartphone and I did get some much needed exercise walking around Hong Kong Airport while waiting for a connecting flight.

Would enjoy seeing your favourite photos of 2018 so please leave link to photo in the comments section.

Happy Shooting