Wednesday, 21 December 2011

John Lennon's Tooth

Liz Taylor's baubles raked in a cool $150 mill but I thought somebody cashing out $40,000 for one of John Lennon's teeth was pretty cool. If I'd known that I wouldn't have given all my juveniles to the tooth fairy for a  shilling a pop. I'd have saved them for when I was famous like John.
After you've exhausted yourself taking scintillating pics of chocolate box landscapes and roses in vases you might consider creating a few boring images of everyday experiences like your urologist preparing  your colonoscopy, your local policewoman having a whopper at Hungry Jacks or your favourite dentist drilling your teeth.
I used my Sigma 15mm fish-eye (this is one fun lens) to shoot my favourite dentist Tina, (not Turner) replacing a  gold bridge;  just marginally less expensive than replacing the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco. I know  there's a word for when you pay an attractive woman hard-earned money to inflict pain on you but I can't think what it is. Unless its lawyer or accountant.
Be brave, be innovative and take your camera with you and record the world and your life. You may own lots of cameras but you only own one life.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Lightning! Poof!

I arrived back from Patagonia and Antarctica more or less unscathed except for the odd plop of penguin poo. (
The note under the door after five weeks on ice was a clue - 'Your security system's gone to Queensland droving and we don't know where it are!'
Next morning neighbors related the story of the big boom in late October which fried various big screen TVs, videos and assorted micro-processor thingies.
Since then, we've been replacing security systems, modems, Mac computers and telephone cables.

Then the dark clouds parted and a shaft of God light appeared and a voice from Canberra said 'This is the National Portrait Gallery here and we'd like to hang one of your portraits in 2012.'
This shot here is not the one. You have to wait until 15 march 2012 to look at that here but this is one of my favourite boring images. Boring model, Pam Jackson in the derelict and boring kitchen of what is now The Crowded House restaurant. Crowded House make the best coffee in all of WA. (BTW Pam not all that boring).

Monday, 12 December 2011

Berlin's Overhead Sewage

If you're in Berlin for a day don't forget the overhead pink sewage pipes. Not really; I have no idea what they are, but one of the best ways to find out is to call them sewage pipes and someone will correct me. We travelled by bicycle around Berlin - really boring place with the Bundestag, probably the world's most innovative parliament building and a photographer's feast; Hitler's bunker - where we had lunch in a Chinese restaurant and the TV tower, the revolving restaurant that used to overlook the GDR.
Shot this on my little Fuji X100 - did it really look like that? Well not quite. You see the X100 shoots in RAW and while opening the image after a glass of merlot I lent on the saturation and vibrance buttons. But really, those pipes are pink and I still don't know what they're doing transversing the Berlin buildings.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Berlin Part Two

There are 46,513 books in Peter Kleinhempel's private library. When the Berlin wall still stood high and the Stasi kept a close watch on Peter's comings and goings Peter's library in East Berlin was his world. After the wall came down and Peter removed himself and his books to the west the apartment collapsed, apparently supported by Peter's books and the cornerstone Webster's Concise English Dictionary. The term 'concise' is something of a misnomer. Not only is the font size so ridiculously small that the book comes with its very own magnifying glass but this 'concise' book weighs about the same as a vat of German bratwurst.

Tip: Window light is good. Side window light is better.

Learn how to take portraits that really capture your subjects with - 11-16 Feb, full details at  

Berlin Part One

Staying with my good friends Nicole Gentz and Peter Kleinhempel. You know, sometimes in photography things feel just right. The early morning Berlin light and a German lookalike in my hand. The Fuji X100 looks so much like the German Leica. Dozens of people have approached me and asked if I can still buy film for my camera. I tell them, '
'Yes, its difficult to buy' I say ' But its  a damn sight harder getting the film inside the camera!'
But when a camera feels right in your hand and the light is correct I just know that something might happen.

The shutter on the X100 is so quiet; its sweeter than a Juliette Binoche kiss.

(1/35 sec f2 1000ISO 23mm fixed lens hand held)

 UWA Extension 

Learn how to take portraits that really capture your subjects with  - 11-16 Feb, full details at  

Friday, 30 September 2011

Shooting in Prozac Mode

Are you one of those tens of thousands of tourists on big tourist buses who walk around in Prozac Mode? You've got your DSLR hanging around your neck; you just forced down another buffet lunch at the tour hotel; you drank three glasses of red wine at lunch and NOW you are ready for your afternoon 'nanna nap' on the bus (preferably with your mouth closed).

Wait! The bus just stopped at a 'photo point'! You don't look left or right or behind, you shoot just what's lined up with your lens axis. Yes, you are definitely in Prozac Mode - that's the 'P' button on your camera.
Of course, you could be really boring and look left, right and behind and find a whole mob of legs without torsos in downtown Antalya in Turkey.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Specular Highlights

Feeling a little flat, low in tones or just plain bored? Add a specular highlight for extra ZING! Water, glass and chrome all work - especially if they reflect large light sources. What bigger and better light source than the sky above? Shot in foyer of the Tulip City Hotel in Istanbul on my amazing little Fuji X100.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Is your 1/15 sec speed still a virgin?

Are you one of those photographers who spent a  couple of grand on a fancy DSLR and has never used 1/8000 sec or one second as shutter speeds? After ten years your 1/8000 and one second may still be brand new and virginal. These shutter speeds allow you to extend human perception. The human eye has the equivalent of about 1/15 sec as a shutter speed. our eyes can't freeze action like your camera. Neither can your eyes record the movement of subjects with trailing lights.

In this little exercise in one of my UWA courses I asked students to shoot a walking portrait. No tripod, no monopod and no Photoshop. I start my students practising on 1/20 sec. When they get it right I move them to 1/15. Then, when they are hot I let them loose on a 1/10 sec pans. One tip is to have soft, low-level lighting, a great background and the subject about 4-8 metres away. Its also a  good idea to switch the camera to manual focus to stop the camera focus 'hunting'.
Be prepared to shoot lots of image - this is no 'one-trick dog shoot. The averagae is about one shot in 50 looks reasonable.
My UWA courses recommence early in 2012. Keep an eye on

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Its just too damn dark to take a photo

How often have you thought. 'There's just not enough light'
You know, even when the fastest ISO was 400ISO, there was still enough light. Maybe you didn't have enough time! Like a 60 second exposure on f8. But you needed patience and one of those photography type gizmos with three legs related to a  gastropod.
But these days we have 6400ISO, 12,800ISO even 25,600ISO. With 25,600ISO you can shoot upa drainpipe at midnight and still get a shot.
But, you know, I actually think a photo with more dark areas might be more interesting sometimes. My mate, Urs Buhlman reckons that a lot of photographers treat serious subjects too lightly.  Thats sort of like wearing your Tony Abbott budgie smugglers to Liz's garden party.
So next time you think 'there's not enough light', take a deep breath, glue your camera to a table-top with your left over chewy and watch the magic happen!
pic. Rosie in Bali

Monday, 11 July 2011

I love a sunburnt country (town called Albany)

I never ever thought the day would arrive when i could say 'I got sunburnt in Albany'. Especially when it was the middle of July, Perth maxed out at 12 degrees celsius and the entire south west was covered in a thick cumulus carpet. But there I was enjoying coffee and croissant at Cosi's in Albany and I git a touch of the sun.

I have to eat my words. Those stories that i spread around about it raining in Albany 300 days a year and te water dripping off the trees the other 65 just aren't true. I love Albany now. In fact I think love truly abounds in Albany.

Likewise I have to eat my words about photographing in harsh or 'splotchy' light. When Douglas Kirkland* ran his workshop at Foto Freo in 2006 I assisted him for a week and learned more about lighting in a week than the previous ten years.  If you place the subject's face in the 'spotlight' and expose for that highlight, everything else falls into place.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Fiddle with your gear while shooting people

By now you should be getting the idea of how to take really boring shots. Its easy! But here's another hot tip - you jump on a  plane (suggest avoid Tiger*) and head on over to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo. Then you head on down to the night fish markets. You should ignore the smoke in your eyes (atmospherics) and certainly don't stop to smell the roses - or the fresh grilling fish or fried chicken. Oh, and keep your headphones on so you can't hear the sizzle of the food and the chatter of the local people.

You should spend several hours calculating aperture, shutter speed, colour balance and focus. Just make sure you ignore all the people and the sensuous surrounding. Set up a tripod or three, check the levels with a spirit level and take the shot.

Now, if you are still bored you buy a couple of beers and a whole bag of chicken bits for $3MR ($1AU). Oh the joy. Only when you get back to your hotel room do you realise the joy of your purchase - you've just bought ten parson's noses! Yes, I actually did the last bit here!
*Tiger announced that you will have to pay $50 per flight extra if you want a pilot to fly your aircraft. However, they are still offering 50% discounts for anyone wanting a fly/drive holiday where you and your boyfriend can pilot the aircraft some of the journey.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Are you a sheep?

Are you a sheep? Do you follow the mob? A photographic lemming so to speak! It seems that some photographers believe that buying the latest Photowhizzyalientshope software is going to convert their boring photograph into an artistic masterpiece.

The Shopper Whoppers spend hours following the 72 steps to produce the 'perfect portrait'. But they spent a thoughtless five minutes taking the original image. (That's ok I'll slip in the Leaning Tower of Pisa' when I get home).
If you want to be like Lucky the Egyptian Undie Sheep and survive the avalanche of software and computers - Photoshop, plug-ins, Nik Software, Alien Skin, Picasa and elements its easy - just push your chair back, pick up your camera and go take photographs.
As Michael Coyne says 'Think and Frame'

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Does size count?

Macro! Ha! - All those macro tulip buttons on your camera are about as useful asa how-to-vote card in Afghanistan. Macro starts when the magnification is same size (1:1). Otherwise, its a close-up. Make sure your close-up or macro packs a wallop! A bee sitting on a flower is just so hum-hum.
Can you recognise this little fella? Its a joey kangaroo. The joey remains in the pouch for nine months and continues to suckle until twelve to seventeen months of age.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Don't send me roses!

Fred spent 4 months researching what camera and lens he would buy. For another two months he read the instruction manual and couldn't understand a word. Then Fred discovered he was reading the Chinese section. Now he was ready - he marched into his garden; he faced the biggest artistic/technological challenge of his life; to photograph his favourite red rose in full bloom. How do I know all this? Because, there are at least five Fred's in every camera club and ten more at every major competition.

Ok so we know that camera sensors don't like masses of red. Besides, red is a colour vastly overdone. If it was that good women would paint their whole faces with lipstick not just their lips.

But the main problem is that you can't smell or touch Fred's rose. Fred, just give me your address and I'll come look at yourt rose.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Tips on how to take more boring photographs

Religion, sex and politics can all become a bit boring after a while. Why shouldn't your photographs be the same. Forget all the creative ideas, inspiration, innovation and new technology and launch your photography into a brand new void of boring images and self-delusion.