Don’t Panic !

I always do a Recon (check of the area) of the site well before I photograph at that site. I determine where car parking is, foot access, where the tides should be at, what’s in the foreground/ mid ground/ back ground, where the sun will rise/ set blah, blah. I actually do put some thought into it. Some time ago I had found a great little dirt track that had trees hanging over the track sort enveloping it which resulted in a massive arch over the track. The trees were full of green and from what I could determine, the sun would rise behind the trees illuminating the track and hoping that the trees would throw out some shadows as well, hoping to add drama to the overall shot. I was willing to spend an hour there at least. It was a beautiful site even in the middle of the day.I had planned on how I wanted to photograph it, I had _That Mental Picture_ in my head of the final results. I figured it would even look pretty good in Black and White.  I then placed that spot on my list of locations to photograph at dawn/ dusk in the very near future.

Well, this morning I got up at some hour that my watch didn’t recognise and drove to the site, all of my gear prepared and with a steaming hot coffee ready to go in my portable mug. When I arrived I found that the trees gone and the dirt track to be a road. The site had been bulldozed with a housing sub division well under construction. I simply couldn’t believe it. I felt as though that I had been robbed ! robbed of a secret location that I hadn’t told another photographer about because I wanted to be selfish. I stood in the early morning light, silent and dumbfounded.

I needed to regroup from this and find another location to shoot and I needed to get there before the sun broke over the horizon. I needed those golden 20 or so minutes to make getting out of bed worthwhile. Not an easy task to achieve considering that first light had already kicked the day off, so now I was not only robbed of a location by developers but also by time and it was against me. So I headed off back down the road, hit the main road and started looking, desperately looking for another location. Down one road to find its a dead end and nothing of any value, panicking I remembered that I knew of a location that was close and I could get there quickly but this spot is a hard location to photograph. I would have to work hard to make something of it. I arrived there to see recreational fisherman lowering their small boats into the water to go fishing. Not thats a problem for them but it was a problem for me because I could clearly see them from 200 metres away, so I knew that I had lost time, valuable time. Fortunately for me the tide was on its way out and had a long way to go so I could get some shots of the sunrise.

What I learnt from this mornings lessons was the following:

1. Always do a confirmatory recon (check of the area you want to shoot in)
2. Always have a back up location in case the first one is not suitable.
3. Don’t Panic

So these are the two shots, that’s right two shots that I feel as though are worthy enough not to be deleted.

Enjoy your weekend and remember, Happy shooting.

Do I look Stupid Doing This?

As a photographer you need to understand that being in front of the camera can be daunting for most people and its one of the most uncomfortable places to be. Women especially don’t like it because they believe that the photographer will expose all of their flaws, real or not, they generally are not fans of having their portraits taken but how do you learn what its like to be in front of the camera having your photo taken. Well by undertaking a Self Portrait Project and hopefully that will do one of two things.

1. Learn what its like so I can show people that’s its not as scary as it seems because I have done it, or

2. Improve my photography and lighting techniques.

Now you can always aim to have the stock standard photo of you standing there looking at your camera while the timer clicks over and then Boom, Photo taken ! and there you have it, You now have the stock standard self portrait with a surprised dumb look on your face. Straight to Facebook…..I think not. Trust me I have plenty of THOSE PHOTOS. So I decided to take it to another level completely. I come up with the Do I look Stupid Doing This ? project.

Since starting this project, I have found that its not as easy as I had thought, I also found that you as the photographer need to be creative to be able to put the person at ease, which is not always easy and you also need to develop workable with themes that suit the client that you are photographing. So I grabbed props from around the house and started and from there it went down hill ……fast. This is when I  realised that I was about to expose all of my flaws to the world as well, I was going to be open to being criticised for having two chins. So here’s what I have done so far, flaws and all. I would love to hear what you think and if you think I need help, please let me know who to contact.

and the answer is Yes, I do look stupid doing this !.

Happy Shooting

      

  
 
   

Open Source Photography Guides

There are some serious photographers on Google Plus and other Social Media sites sharing some fantastic photos from amazing locations. Have you ever wondered how some of these locations are found. Well, have a look at the Open Source Photography Guides for photographers around the world.

Its global and currently has 13 countries that detail some great locations to photograph, each guide provides you with info on things like Getting There, Where to park, some include google maps, best time to shoot and what equipment to use. Well worth checking out and they are always looking for contributions as well.

I use the Australian link a lot when I am shooting here at home and I have used the global locations when I travel overseas. For me this has become a valuable resource of info on locations that I have never been to before.

Would love to know if anyone else knows of any other open source photography guides on the internet.

Happy Shooting.

Alphabet Spaghetti Photography

If you have young children this maybe a good way to get them involved in a photography project, simply find the letters to spell their name with Alphabet Spaghetti and after you have finished you can print them off at home and hang the finished photo on the door of your child’s room or above their bed and have Alphabet Spaghetti for a snack, lunch or dinner or all three.

Purchase one or two cans of Alphabet Spaghetti and get your tweezers or a bread knife and select the letters that you want to use, place them onto some paper towel. Get a white bowl and pour in some of the sauce which covers the bottom of the bowl, it doesn’t need to be thick but rather enough to cover the whiteness of the bottom of the bowl. Place your selected letters in very carefully and arrange them to form what you want to spell out. Once happy, place extra Alphabet spaghetti letters around the outside giving the impression that you have miraculously found that when you poured the contents out, your name suddenly appeared to you.

Once happy with the way you have set the letters up in the bowl, find a spot in the house that has plenty of ambient light coming in such as large window or a doorway, set your tripod up with you camera attached and the best way is to get your camera looking straight down, place the bowl underneath and very carefully wipe away any excess sauce from the edges of the bowl. Set your ISO to 100 to get that crisp clear image and let your camera decide what White Balance to use. Try not to use flash as the flash reflects off the sides of the bowl and the sauce in the bottom of the bowl creating a shiny surface. Manually focus on the letters and ensure that you camera remains on Manual focus mode.

Once you have taken the required shots, rearrange the letters to form new words or names and this is where the second can of Alphabet Spaghetti comes in as it provides you with extra letters that are commonly used. If you can find the a letter like the letter ‘i’ simply trim the letter ‘t’ down and there you have the letter ‘i’.

Download your photos to your PC or laptop and if required clean up your image and then cropped to your desired size.

The words that can be spelled out are endless and this should provide a couple of hours of fun for you and the kids to do. Hopefully they should have smiles on their little faces when they see the photos being printed out and they can hang them up on their wall or take them to school for show and tell. Its creative and gets the kids minds going inspiring thought and ideas.

The mistakes I made doing this project were that I forgot to manually focus my lens to ensure that I had a crisp image, instead I let the camera do it and I don’t think my results were not as good as I had hoped. I also had to use the ceiling lights because we have had no Sun for a month but rather overcast days with loads of dreary clouds and rain. With that in mind, my exposure setting was quite long, probably about 8-10 seconds to get the right exposure. I did use a cable release to stop getting camera shake, I would also recommend that if you can shoot in RAW and if you don’t have the ability to process your RAW images with programs like Light room or Aperture, shoot in JEPG fine to increase the file size and ultimately the quality of the image.

Once you have finished, you can simply microwave the Alphabet Spaghetti and eat your hard work.

In the comments section, leave a link or post a photo of what you have come up with as I would love to see it.

Happy Shooting.

 

A Letter to my Wife from your Photographer Husband

Well Dear, there is less than a week before Christmas and thank fully you are not like me, I haven’t even started Christmas shopping yet, I must admit that I have sort of been shopping, if you could call it that, I seem to wander without any real idea of what I want to buy for you or the rest of the family but as usual I have left it all up to the very last minute, Where I fight the ever increasing crowds and find that I am followed on the way back to the car, only to realise that they only want my parking spot and not my wallet (Phew, huge sigh of relief, how surprised would they be after robbing me only to find its empty). Once I get home with all of the presents stashed where no one ever looks, in the car, I will do the same thing I did last year. Put the kettle on whilst complaining about the crowds and the lack of parking at the mall only to have you remark that I should have started Christmas shopping a lot earlier than leaving it all to the last minute. But with all of this mayhem that goes on every Christmas I wonder how you know what I would like for Christmas so I thought that I would write you, my dear Wife, a letter outlining what I want, I mean, like for Christmas.

Now what I would really, really like is Nikon to release either the Nikon D800 or D4 but I have to be realistic. Nikon won’t be releasing it anytime soon especially after the Tsunami that struck Japan, closely followed by the Nuclear reactor going into melt down and then Mother Nature threw in some floods in Thailand and both of these tragedies have surely put a dent in their manufacturing capabilities. I would think that they may be trying to maintain their current line of models rather than release new models. I am not really expecting any new releases from Nikon any time soon. This is something that I don’t think Santa or even you can help with.

So in lieu of Nikon releasing their new models, I would be more than happy to find a new Nikon D700 under the Christmas tree. Nikon may have been possibly targeting the semi-pro photographer market which has relatively been untapped for some time, for awhile there, there wasn’t a camera from either Nikon or Canon that was aimed at this market. I mean how many Full Frame DSLRs can you sell to Pro photographers to cover your costs of manufacturing them. At least with a camera aimed at the semi pro market that has the same sensor from the pro line up would certainly help cover those manufacturing costs. I will clarify for you my dear Wife what I believe a Semi Pro photographer is. A Semi Pro Photographer is some one who is transitioning from amateur photographer to full time Pro Photographer, some one who still has a paying job but that income is slowly being replaced by income from their photography business. This can happen either very slowly or very quickly.

Nikon have got some pretty good specs squeezed into the D700 which has been out for awhile and I must say that I was rather disappointed that I didn’t get it for my Birthday but you should consider that this camera from Nikon has a full frame sensor capable of shooting at 5 fps which is pretty good to catch those fast moving kids, which is a lot faster than me but sadly the Nikon D700 doesn’t come with a video capability, so there will be no filming of the kids, shoots very well with high ISO in low light conditions which I seem to find myself shooting more and more in and thats only because of all of the family gatherings are happening later and later in the day, honestly who has lunch at 3 pm, not me that’s for sure and it ruins dinner ! The Nikon D700 also has 51 AF points and 12.1 megapixels. However Canon have got their camera squarely aimed at this market as well, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II which is boasting a massive 21.1 megapixels, Canon developed CMOS sensor with a new 4 processor called DiG!C and the live view mode has some new features like Live Face Detection AF mode plus throw in 1080p HD Video with 30 FPS which is awesome for shooting video, the camera also comes with continuos shooting of 3.9 FPS and standard ISO from 100 to 6400 which will provide excellent detail in low light. All of these make for a formidable DSLR from Canon in anyones terms. I am still undecided if I want or for that matter need a video capability in a DSLR but what ever you decide I will be very happy with but please remember if you are going to give me a Canon EOS 5D Mark II for Christmas, I will need all new lenses to match because the Nikon ones that I currently have won’t fit. I know, I know, its silly.

Speaking of witch, I mean which not witch. Sorry, let me start that again. The love of my life, If a new DSLR is off the table for Christmas, I would certainly be interested in a new lens. I really like, not necessarily need, a Macro lens, and it doesn’t have to be Nikon lens either. It could be a Tamron or a Sigma Macro Lens but the lens must be capable of not only being used for Macro shooting but also for Portraits as well, I mean what good is it just having a Macro Lens for photography of small creatures (and that doesn’t include your nieces and nephews either) if I can’t use it to capture our beautiful family, so the new lens needs to be sort of two lens in one basically. Tamron has got one on offer, its the SP AF 60mm F/2 Di II and is pretty well priced at my favourite camera shop. You know the one, and yes before you ask it’s the one that I spend my Saturdays in with my face pressed up against the glass display cabinets. There’s nothing wrong with that you know !

Now if that’s off the table as well and I certainly hope not but Nikon recently released a new model for their flash guns which is to replace the SB900 flash gun which I have already got, the SB910 was released in mid December which is just in time to be placed under the Christmas tree. I know, I know, what would I want with another Flash Gun thingy I hear you ask. Well I could certainly become very creative with two flash guns and really get some amazing shots of the family….. alright and your friends as well. This flash gun boasts similar specs to the SB900 that I have already got but has some improvements like an overhaul of the menu system which should make it easier for me to use and they have upgraded those flimsy gel white balance filters to hard filters however having another flash gun could increase my creative side using flash and I can use my SB900 together with the SB910. So this is something that you should certainly consider as well. But remember though love, if you have bought me the Canon EOS 5D Mark II I will need a new Flash gun as well. Canon have got the Speedlite 580EX II as their top gun in Speed Lights. This bad boy can be wireless and has the E-TTL II Flash metering which can be set to 1/3 stop increments.  So also another choice for you to consider.

I know that I always use Nikon but you have heard me say many times before that it doesn’t matter what camera you have in your hands, its what you do with it that counts. You are the creator of your vision not the camera, the camera simply captures your vision or your idea. Please when you are feigning interest when I talk about cameras and photography I would rather not hear ‘hmm’ but rather a response resembling words.

Anyway I started to get off track there for a bit but I know that this may seem a lot to undertake and even comprehend but I feel as though that I have to be quite honest, Jocks and Socks simply won’t cut it this year, or that awful thing you have been knitting with your friends for the last couple of months. That can go in the bin with all of the other “excellent presents”, sorry into the cupboard where I treasure those thoughtful gifts (they will never see the light of day).  If all of this seems a little to much. I’ll just take a $500 gift voucher from my favourite camera shop, not the one in mall that you like to go to with your friends, the camera shop in the mall that I go to to avoid your friends that way I can still take photos like this one where I spent the day with MY friends at a Free Style Motor cross event.

Lots of Love

Your Photographer Husband.


My Monthly Inspiration

I don’t know what keeps you motivated or your creative juices flowing especially with todays technology and social media, they can become real distractions, throw in kids, paying bills and this little old thing called life gets in the way of you getting out there and creating something regardless if its a photograph or a clay sculpture, and some of these things can literally put you on the side line resulting in you becoming an observer of whats going on around you instead of a contributor.

So to avoid this I like to try and give myself an assignment at the beginning of every month, something that I will hopefully be able to complete within that month with all of life’s distractions around me. Sometimes that assignment can be updating this blog, revamping my website or photographing a certain subject. This month was inspired by a photograph that really grabbed my attention as it

was full of colour and looked simple enough to achieve. This assignment did however have some challenges not only creatively but finding the time to actually get it done within the month especially with Christmas fast approaching.

I wish I could remember where I saw the original photo that gave me the inspiration for this assignment, it may have been on Google+ and there is loads of inspiraton on there as well, its like having the worlds photographers walk past your door.  The original photo that I saw had three bottles of brightly coloured nail polish pouring out on to a mirror forming a neat pool at the base of the bottles.

I figured that if I wanted to do this I should try and do the shoot as cheap as possible because I had no idea if it would work or not, So I went in search of what I figured I would need to do the shoot. In my local hardware store I found a full length mirror for $10 which had a poor plastic border that I could remove with ease and at my local pharmacy I found a bargain bin full of cheap, brightly coloured nail polish bottles. The sales staff certainly had a laugh at my expense as I mumbled ‘wheres the blue nail polish?’ whilst rifling through it like a mad man. The sales girl certainly had a smirk on her face when I was forking out my four dollars. I did try to explain what I intended to do but I am pretty sure that she didn’t buy it and now thinks I’m crazy every time I go in there.

I needed a black back ground and for this I simply opened the garage roller door and faced out into the night. I removed the plastic border from the mirror and put it on a small table that I had laying around. Then came the hard part, originally I decided that I would glue the bottles of nail polish to the mirror and each other so they would be uniform and wouldn’t move when I tilted the mirror towards me.  The issue that I had was that I purchased extremely cheap super glue and it had done as promised on the package, hardened before I could use it so I reverted to the old sticky tape method.

Once the nail polish bottles were stuck to the mirror using my ever so cheap sticky tape, I took a few test shots with the lids still on so I could get the exposure right and adjusted the flash gun into a good position so I could get a uniformed fill of flash across the shot. I was happy and decided that it was time to remove the lids and use a small wedge under the mirror to tilt it forward. This is when I realised that the square lids on the bottles wouldn’t come off while they were stuck down, so I had to remove them completely, re stick them back down, tilt the mirror backwards and away from me so the nail polish wouldn’t run out while I was trying to focus and compose the shot.

The next issue that I found was that once I started to tilt the mirror forward by jamming pens which acted as small wedges under neath the mirror the nail polish started to run very quickly and I had to act fast. I don’t know if it wad cheap nail polish or because it was hot and humid at the time but slowly down the flow was problematic. After thinking about it, possibly putting them in the fridge may have increased the consistency of the nail polish and slowed the flow down to a more acceptable flow rate.

Once I was happy with the 20 or so shots, I decided that I wanted to change some of the colours around to change the dynamics of the photo overall.

I changed the red nail polish for the white nail polish which meant that I had to go through the entire set up process again. I did find that the white nail polish ran very quickly and spread across the mirror almost uncontrollably, I added colour to it by getting the red nail polish and pouring it out directly into the white nail polish . I got another 20 or shots and decided that it was time to download these photos to see what I had and if I had achieved what I set out to do.

I don’t use Photoshop at all, in fact I have no idea how to use it. I use Aperture 3 so what ever I get wrong I must be able to either clone it out or repair it some how using contrast or Dodge and Burn.  So everything I do, I try and do in camera by setting up the shot first. as you can see by the two photos the first one I haven’t cloned out the dust on the mirror nor the edge of the mirror that has shown because of the flash, and there is drops of nail polish in the corner as well. I also had to clone out the flash reflection in one of the bottles of nail polish which proved to be a little difficult. The second shot is one that I have processed using Aperture 3 and removed all of the blemishes from it to provide an overall clean image which is what I had wanted to achieve.

The third shot is one that I am also happy with as well, here you can see that the white nail polish has run pretty quick and the bottle is half empty. I did pour in some red nail polish as well to increase the contrasting colours. Overall I was happy with what I had created and I did enjoy doing this as I learnt a lot from it all. All I need to do now is find a new pharmacy where I don’t get strange looks and hushed giggles from the sales staff.

Canon vs Nikon, Nikon vs Canon

I have been out on many occasions photographing an event and on some of these occasions I strike up a conversation with other photographers that are also in attendance. One of the most striking responses I have had is “Oh you are one of those !”. At first I was a little miffed as to what they were talking about and then I realised that they were talking about me being a Nikon user. To me it didn’t seem to make any difference as to which camera you used, either it be a Nikon, a Canon, a Sony or a Pentax. Its what you do with that camera that makes the difference. Camera’s are like cars, designed to get you from A to B with comfort and safety where the camera is designed to take a photo regardless of the knowledge of photography that person holding camera has.

There are plenty of arguments out there as to why either a Canon or a Nikon is better than the other and I am sure that the camera manufactures love the debate and the loyalty to their brands, as this debate and loyalty more than likely drives some serious sales when they release a new model, much like when an Apple product is released. Huge line ups on release day and plenty of people talking about their latest product including news coverage. Just have a look at the Nikon Rumors and Canon Rumors websites. They are full of rumors what the new model is, what specs that camera will have and when it will be released.  Don’t get me wrong there is nothing with either of these two sites, in fact not only are they full of great information but I seem to spend quite a lot of time on the Nikon Rumours site looking at what may be coming out in the future hoping that the new Nikon will delivered sooner rather than later.

Recently I was asked by a good friend who was going overseas on holidays for a month which camera should I buy and my response seemed to create a look of confusion especially being a Nikon user, maybe he was waiting for the typical response, Nikon of course but that’s not what he got. I gave him the following response:

Go to your local camera shop, don’t look at the brand (which is not that easy to do), hold the camera in your hands. The camera should feel like an extension of your body, you should be able to feel where all the buttons are with your eyes closed, you don’t have to immediately know what those buttons do but you should be able to feel them with your eyes closed. This provides you with an overall idea of what the user functionality of that particular camera.

Ask the sales attendant, if you can take a few photos with it, and it doesn’t matter if you take a photo of the guy behind counter or the rest of the shop, but you should at least take several photos to see the results even If you have to leave your drivers license or your wallet behind as security.

Is it in your budget range and what are you going to use the camera for? Happy snaps of the kids, to record your holidays or portrait photography.

Then after all of these questions have been answered have a look at the specs of that camera to assist with determining if it meets your needs or not. These decisions should help you choose the correct camera and hopefully you shouldn’t have purchased a camera based on brand loyalty.

I would love to hear what advice would you give to someone who is about to purchase a camera, either a compact or a DSLR? and would you be biased towards a brand such as Nikon or Canon?.

12 Real Landscape Photography Tips

There is a lot of information out there on how to improve your landscape photography but the majority of the information actually talks about subjects like focal points, foregrounds, backgrounds, ISO etc which is fantastic and extremely helpful but there doesn’t seem to be to many articles actually talking about some of the things that will make your life easier before you head out for your own landscape shoot. Subjects such as what footwear that you should be wearing and knowing what the tides will be like are simple things but we photographers keep making them. Over the years I have developed a mental check list of what I actually need, other than camera gear to make my life easier and that’s what I want to share with you. Some of these lessons will seem obvious however there a lot of photographers that still make the same mistakes.

1. Check out the location (Conducting a Recon).

This is called conducting a recon or a recce which means that I always check the location out at least during daylight hours because it will more than likely be dark when I arrive or leave. I am not there to take photos but rather look at things like where can I park, how long did it take to get here, which track do I take to get where I want to go, are there any gates that restrict access after hours (early morning, late afternoon) and if so what time does that area open or close, where will the tide be at low/high tide, which way will the sun rise or set. Are there any obstacles that I will need to navigate like fences or gates. Is the spot on private land and if so, who and where are the owners so can I ask permission to use it.

2. Take a torch/ flash light. 

This one might seem like its fairly obvious and you are probably sitting there going “of course” but I seem to keep forgetting mine.  There have been countless times where I am fiddling around with something in the dark well before first light only to ask myself Where’s my torch? which I usually answer with ‘right next to the urn of coffee on the kitchen bench!’ followed by a few expletives. Having a torch will enable you to find that something in the bottom of your camera bag like that mysterious cable release or where you put that lens cap, which I always seem to loose, and just as important to find your way in or out of the area safely. The torch also needs to be rugged and be able to float in case you drop it. The other advantage if the torch can float is that they are more than likely to be water proof to some extent and won’t be useless after the first use.

3. Check the tide and sunrise/ sunset time.

Checking the tide times always helps if you are doing seascape and landscape photography. You may want to photograph water washing over a rocky outcrop and at high tide those rocks are covered but at low tide they are exposed with the waves washing over them, taking a gamble and just turning up is more than likely not going to provide you with the results that you wanted and the reason for you going to that location. You also need to know the tides because you don’t want to be marooned on a rocky outcrop with the water rapidly rising around your feet with the only option of swimming back to the beach. Also the tide times are a decision point as well, if the ties don’t marry up with the sunrise or sunset times, I won’t go to that site unless there is something else there that I want to photograph until the tide times and the sunrise/ sunset times are close to each other.

4. Appropriate footwear and clothing.

I don’t know how many times I have decided to go and do an early morning shoot and throw the old flip flops on my feet, a pair of old shorts and a t-shirt and head on out, only to get there to find that my chosen footwear or clothing is completely inappropriate and inadequate. Flip flops don’t allow you to walk over sharp rocks or get a decent grip on slippery surfaces which could result in you sliding towards an unintended swim. I highly recommend that wearing an old pair of runners and clothes that you don’t mind getting wet or muddy. The shoes will protect your feet, provide you with some much needed grip on slippery surfaces and the clothing will help protect you from the elements such as high winds, sudden drops in temperatures or even a little bit of rain.

5. Know the weather forecast.

This one goes hand in hand with footwear and clothing. The last thing you need is a sudden change in the weather and be out in a sudden temperature change which could result in you suffering from Hypothermia or have that landscape shot covered in fog. A good fisherman checks the weather forecast before they head out, just because you are a photographer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be doing the same.

6. Take a Cell phone

Fortunately nowadays we have many ways of communicating with people including text messages and social media however having a phone that you can make and receive phone calls from is pretty important. Having a cell phone can provide you with the ability to call for help if needed (and you may not be the one in trouble) or let your loved ones know that you are finished and on your way home. Be aware though that in some remote places you may not get any cell phone reception at all. This is something that you can check when you are conducting a recon of your chosen location. If you are unable to get any reception at all, I recommend going with a friend or a group or even setting some timings with loved ones so they know when you will be back in range of the cell phone towers.

7. Tell Someone 

If things do go horribly wrong whilst you are out in the wilderness and you get hurt and no one knows where you are, you may well be in for rough few nights in freezing temps or seriously injured and in desperate need of medical assistance. Telling someone where you will be and when you are expected to return is smart.  If you don’t return they can can call you on your cell phone and if you don’t answer after say 20 or 30 minute window, they can search for you and then alert emergency services. Things do go wrong from time to time and there is nothing you can do about it but having safety plan in place to prevent things from becoming worse is smart.

8. Turn around

Turn around and see what is behind you. I have been on many shoots where the landscape tunred out to be rather uninspiring due to foregrounds, the sky, weather etc but by turning around I am now looking at another perspective to it, I then adjust my perspective by squatting, keeling or laying down, or gain some height by standing on a picnic table or large rock to see what is different about the landscape and on many occasions I have been pleasantly surprised.

9. Local Knowledge

Social media plays an important role as you can  input a hashtag into Instagram or Facebook to see plenty of results of what the location is like. Google maps also helps a lot and is always worth checking out. If you time your recon right, you might find photographers out and they can provide tips on spots only the locals know about. Don’t forget about asking people in the shops, or the guy at the petrol stattion as most people have lived there for all of their lives and have an intimate knowledge of the area.  They will be familiar with places that you wouldn’t have thought about especially the special local only spots. I am always asking about marina’s, old parts of town with abandoned buildings, rocky outcrops and creepy, scary alleys. Most of these places will more than likely be an undesirable location to many but they can be great photographic gems. Don’t be afraid to ask.

10. Use a tripod

I know that you have heard this piece of advice before but a tripod a is must, but here’s the other bit of advice that you never get told. Your tripod can get wet and by wet I mean by using it in water, I constantly use my tripod in the water and I have been up to knee deep on many occasions. I didn’t buy my tripod to use in a studio, I bought the tripod to lump around the country with me and for it to provide a steady platform for the camera. So don’t be scared to get it wet, dirty or even muddy. It all comes off at the end of the day.

11. Insect Repellant

I laugh every time I say this, take insect repellant with you, a good one, there is nothing worse while you are out enjoying the sunrise or sunset and being bitten non-stop by bugs, but you will never guess where mine normally is, its with my torch next to the urn of coffee on the kitchen bench. A good insect repellant will keep those bugs at bay and let you concentrate on what you are there to do. Capture Mother Nature at her finest.

12. Drink Responsibly

You might like to have a few drinks of a night, out with friends or at a Barbeque but be careful on how many drinks you consume as you could very well still be over the legal limit in the wee hours of the morning while driving to your chosen location. The chances of being subjected to a Random Breath Testing (RBT) is pretty high here in Australia even on weekdays so add some caution when drinking the night before if you intend on driving to your chosen location the following morning, even if you still feel under the weather, simply cut it away for that day and go back to bed. So the message here is really, if you wish to drink, drink, but drink responsibly.

I would love to hear what tips and tricks you have picked up along the way and I hope that these tips will make life that little bit easier when out photographing this beautiful place that we call home.

Happy Shooting

The Formal

The way I approach every job is different for example, Late last week I was asked to photograph a pre-formal gathering which was planned for Friday afternoon. The plan was for all to gather in the once spot with their parents before they went to their Year 12 school formal (much like a prom) in a limousine, a very large limousine at that. I was also asked if I could shoot it all in an hour or less, so this was going to be a pretty quick shoot with no real time to be artistic to a high degree. I must admit that I had some concerns on how I would achieve the desired results and this is what was going through my brain which was racing at a million miles an hour considering it was late Wednesday already.

1.  How would I capture those expressions that you only seem to capture when people aren’t looking at the camera.

2.  The amount of time that I had to do the shoot.

3.  How would I develop a relationship quickly with the people that I was photographing.

4.  How many people were going to be involved in this shoot, was it 6 or 16, I just didn’t know.

5. How much space was I going to have to work in.

These were all questions that I needed to answer and some of them wouldn’t be answered until I was actually there on location seeing what I  had to work with. So after some serious thought whilst I was sitting in traffic, (we all do it and what better time to think) I decided that I would be able to relax everyone extremely quickly by introducing some party poppers, streamers, confetti and some of those whistles that are rolled up until you blow them and then they make that ridiculous noise plus this also helped with me getting the shots that I needed to create that party atmosphere with relaxed crowd. 

I also figured that by using these “props” would also break the ice considering that I was really unable to develop a relationship with each and every person that was going to be photographed. I also had no idea how many people were going to be there, I did ask and was told probably 6 but with most things these days, have a back up plan and sure enough there was about 12 at one stage, twice as many as originally planned and I also didn’t plan on having the parents of all of this young people ask “Would I mind if I took a photo of them with…..”. Of course the response was No, Not at all, please jump in and have some fun and well get some shots.

This method turned out to be quite effective and really lightened the mood because when asked to stand in front of the camera and those ever imposing lights, the majority just brace up like they are getting the drivers license or their prison photo taken. Its not the case but I really didn’t have time to develop a relationship with each and every individual that had their photo taken, so getting them to relax quickly was a priority if I was going to achieve the look that I wanted. Smiling, acting naturally and having some fun at the same time.

The biggest question that I was asked was “When will I see the photos?”. I made a promise to all of them that I would upload at least 50 images by Sunday night and they could then download their favourite photos from my website which meant that I was going to have to work the majority of the weekend to meet the deadline. I ensured that I had them uploaded by Sunday afternoon and within 3 hours, over 60 photos had been downloaded and paid for.

So with a bit of thought about the short notice job on how I would approach it has paid off with the results that I and the client wanted to achieve.

A Chook Overhead

I haven’t posted a Combat Pic in quite some time. I took this image during the fighting season in 2008 whilst on assignment as a photographer in Afghanistan. The Chinook helicopter, also called a Chook had landed and picked up Coalition Forces to extract them after an operation against the Taliban in Southern Afghanistan.