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.

dsc_1395

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.

dsc_1389

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.

dsc_1357

  • 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.

dsc_1402

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

silica gel packs

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…..

rocket blower

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.

dsc00317

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

DSC_1245 8.13.15 pm

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.

Change Your View, Get Down Low

Need to spice up your photography, you can do just one thing and its free. Try getting down low to see the world in a whole new way.

DSC02601

By putting your camera on the floor, and if your camera has the feature, tilt the rear screen upwards to help you compose the shot, if not shoot blind and see what you get. I used this technique to capture those odd non slip plastic knobs in a new way.

DSC01126

or try laying down on the floor so you can photograph the sleeping family dog. Scout, our family Border Collie is pretty hard to sneak up on but doesn’t mind being photographed.

DSC02814

By squatting or kneeling down and letting the subject come to you will help you capture moments that you would not normally see from a standing position.

DSC03439

Don’t afraid to use man made structures to help provide a stable platform to photograph from. Try placing your knee or elbow hard up against a wall will reduce camera shake while squatting or kneeling to assist in composing your shot to capture that moment.

And don’t forget if you have small children, get down to their level to photograph them. It will change your view of the world through your photos.

Feel free to post a link in the comments to your down low photos as I would enjoy seeing what you come up with.

From the Archives

Updating my photo library from Capture One Pro 11 to Version 12 had me scrolling through the photos which had been taken throughout 2018. The total number is just under 2500. Not all photos have been accounted for though because film has also been shot this year (30 – 40 photos) and the amount of photos stored on my smartphone is unknown as 2018 is not over just yet but I suspect that there will be approximately 200 – 300 photos bringing the number to just under 3000.

DSC03136

I took these photos in Febuary on Cottesloe Beach, with two of the three photos being shared on Instagram however there is another 100 or so remaining that need to be processed or rejected and then deleted.

DSC03124

What do with all of the photos that we take, some are shared with friends and family but how many photos just sit in a digital library either on your phone or on a hard drive somewhere. Forgotten about?

DSC03116

How many photos do you have in your photo library and when was the last time you looked through them?

 

Some Dogged Inspiration

This is an image that has stuck with me for years and was taken by Elliot Erwitt in 1946 in New York City. If you don’t know who Elliot Erwitt is, I highly recommend this interview by his son, Misha which will add some context to this image and who he is.  Elliot Erwit has an amazing body of work and dare I say is an inspiration to many people, including me who have picked up a camera over the years.

Elliot ErwittI love this photo because he has got down low, real low and he has managed to maintain the dogs eye contact while showing just how small the dog really is. For me, taking this photo takes skills and some incredible forethought. He has other photos of people with small dogs and some are photos that easily recognisable.

I have always wanted to use the theme of the photo as inspiration to see what I could create. As its been pretty hot in here in Australia lately (40+ Degrees Celsius) I figured the best spot would be the boardwalk at the beach to attempt to take my concept of the small dog theme. There should be plenty of people around and some should have their pets out for a walk in the mornings or late in the day.

DSC02805I sat on the kerb of the footpath and watched this little dog with its humans to see what he would do. He kept looking back behind him and turned around completely while they waited for someone else to join them.

DSC02806

This little one, called Melluka, rides the train on the boardwalk and keeps his human train driver company.

DSC02814

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

It was definitely worth getting out in the sweltering heat to photograph these dogs and their humans and I must admit that the British Bulldog photo is my favourite photo of the day.

What inspires you to get out and shoot ?

Please note that I am unable to link Elliot Erwitt’s image or text to a specific website as I am unable to find one that has all of his work located however I am going to provide two links, both from the New York Times. This link is an interview with Elliot Erwitt and an Art Review. If someone finds an appropriate link please let me know in the comments as I will update these links.