Monday, 24 September 2018

Five good reasons why you should shoot using Aperture Priority (Av)

Egypt: Aperture Priority on Nikon D700 f2.8 on 24-70 Nikkor lens set at 58mm
Aperture Priority (Av) is faster than a  speeding bullet, with about as much power as Catwoman on tuna forte.

Germany: Av: f8 on Fuji X100 camera 23mm lens

Here are five good reasons I've chosen Av 90% of the time* for the past 30 years.

1.  Maximum control over DoF (Depth of Field)

2. Faster than Manual

3. Your largest aperture guarantees you ALWAYS get the fastest available shutter speed (sport/wildlife)

4. You achieve gold standard bokeh in portrait and product photography

5. When you bracket on Av, you achieve 3 different shutter speeds!

*Av-90% M-6% P-3% Tv - 1%

Enter FIPP 2019. AU$20,000 Prize pool.
Entries open 5 May 2019.
Click HERE for details.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Are you an Island or Wave photographer?

Image courtesy © Johannes Reinhart
Which eye do you shoot with? Right or Left?
Could changing shooting eyes could improve your photography?

It depends on whether you are an Island or a Wave?
The Island is solid, permanent, always there, consistent, never-changing.
The Wave changes form every few seconds; it swells, rises, surges, breaks  and accelerates as it cascades on the shore.
The Island may be reassuring to look at, but the Wave mesmerises.

Or maybe you're  the Spinnaker rather than the Keel?
The Spinnaker - voluminous, bold, colourful, billowing in the breeze; a powerful, driving force.
The keel is rarely seen, hidden, unnoticed, a steadying influence, keeping the yacht upright, on-course.
Honeycake: 3 large eggs beaten with a fork
Put a couple of Keels together and fora short period you will fly like the wind at top speed. However, a couple of spinnakers together rarely last. The yacht capsizes or drives headlong onto a reef.

However, when two Keels get together, they're as safe as houses. They never capsize or break through waves.  Two Keels never go anywhere. They sit there like  a barge in the Thames with barnacles growing on their bottoms.


So, whats. this all about?

Well yesterday I had a drink with one of Australia's most creative, left-field photographers, Johannes Reinhart. Johannes is creative, inspirational and 'oh so left-field'. You never know what's coming next but you are looking forward to it.

Monart Fine Art Gallery

He told me one of his secret techniques was to shoot an image with his right eye. Then, to re-shoot the same simple using his left eye.

So simple, so daring.
So not boring.

Click HERE for my next UWA workshop.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Seven Deadly Whims

Early today a delightful young lady Fiona asked me to come up with ideas that would help her get better travel portraits.
'Not things I read in a text book' she pleaded, 'Something practical that works'.
'Do you want Boring?' I asked
'Heavens no!' she said 'I've got this passion for travel and a whim to take better photos'.


1. Travel with a small lens and big heart.
Tourists in downtown Istanbul
Big lenses intimidate people. They think you are spying. Besides, who wants a 200mm lens pushed up their left nostril? A big heart means you are passionate about your photography. Nothing will stop you. You won't be lounging in bed until 10am and having a skinny latte on the balcony. You'll be up before dawn with your sneakers sloshing through stench at the Alexandria Fish Markets.

2. Imagine a sticker on your subject's forehead that reads 'Make me feel special'
I'm deadly serious. Visualise that sticker on your subject's forehead.  If they feel nervous or suspicious its your job as photographer to relate to them and make them feel special. One trick is to praise something they own or they look after. 'These are healthy looking sheep you look after' or 'What a great car! How long have you had it'. But be gennuine. One hundred percent genuine.

3. Focus between the colour and the white of their nearside eye.
First, set your camera on single focus point. With multiple focus points the camera decides where to focus. I want you to decide. So just a tiny single rectangle. If your distant, focus on the face. If you are close lock focus between teh colour and the white of the nearside eye. The eyes MUST be sharp!
Town square, Cartagena, Colombia - polishing a Botero

How are we doing Fiona?

4. Avoid wearing Estee Lauder's 'Knowing'
Its a beautiful fragrance. Tryly. One of my favourites. But its bad news for travel portrait photographers. The fact yiu arrived by aeroplane, stay in a hotel and carry a camera means you must be a multi-millionaire. That's the perception. So first, dress down. Also, I want you, the photographer, to use your senses to 'read' the environment; tune into the sights, sounds, smells; touch and taste the world you in.

5.  Travel Alone
Broke the rules - a 400mm lens!
In the past decade I've worked with three of Australia's top travel photographers. Each one of them says they are most productive when travelling alone. If not alone, with a friend or colleague or guide who is totally supportive. The quickest way to divorce is  a photographic adventure with a non-compliant spouse. 'What do mean you are setting up your tripod for the thirteenth time to photograph a weed at sunset!!!!'. A small group is better than a larger group. When you travel alone or in a very small group you will get far better access to private homes and develop a dialogue with your subject.
Big groups are comfortable, and comfortably boring for photography.

6. Visualise your end result - Subject and Style
Ringside at the Tango in BA
Study your location. Not just the hotel and menu. Learn a phrase or three, especially 'où sont les toilettes?'. First establish exactly the SUBJECT you intend to shoot before you arrive. eg women picking olives. You cannot shoot everything. Try that and you definitely will end up with Deadly Boring Photographs. Secondly what STYLE will you use - artistic, technical, photo-journalistic. Once you establish SUBJECT and STYLE pursue your goals with passionate determination.

Stay awake Fiona, we're almost there ...

Feel the Emotion
Photographing people is not about taking mug shots for Police Records or recording anthropometric minutiae. Its about emotion. You need to feel the atmosphere; a pulse running through your veins as you click; controlled excitement and exhuberance!

Country Daze

Practical Photography Intermediate

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Is this the World's Best Selfie?

Every day, every way, same old, same old selfies ....

If you're under forty and female, its full make-up with soft light and pouty lips. And if you've jumped the 40 or 50 hurdle its a flamboyant outfit having fun, glass of white wine.

For guys its the macho dark trimmed stubbled face thats looking like you're the cat that swallowed the canary and you've just climbed out of the sack.

Nothing wrong with them. They're gorgeous. But after the first 20 million or so lookalikes it wears a bit thin.

So my buddy Matt was holidaying in Broome and decided to go for a bike ride along Cable Beach. He had this idea. There was no-one else within cooee. Just the odd salty cruising by on his way to a juicy plump, warm squishy lunch with shrieks of 'Where's my friend Kylie?'

So Matt balanced his camera on a Kimberley pindan red rock, and set it  on time delay. He had just 10 seconds to jump aboard Mulga Bill's machine and ride off into the noonday sun before the shutter went 'click'. What makes this pic even better is Matt shot it on film!

Well, it may or may not be the world's best selfie, but it certainly ain't the worst!
And its certainly not boring. In fact, I think its the least boring selfie I've ever had the pleasure of posting.

Ingenuity plus courage and daring = great photographs.

For the technically minded Matt's tyre pressures were set at 25psi.

The Russian judge awarded this image 7.92 for technical skill, 9.61 for composition and 9.83 for choice of saddle.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Boring Weddings

Here are Six of the LEAST boring weddings I've shot.

1. At the reception Anna and Stan took off their shoes and put on dancing shoes and entertained guests with the best Rock 'n Roll performance I've ever seen at a wedding. Then all the bridal party did the same.

2. When the bride and groom got the giggles at the altar and the Catholic priest at St Patricks in Fremantle threatened not to marry them. Then the Best Man approached me and asked me to be MC at the wedding as their MC was a 'no show'

3. Oh! The time when the father of the bride accidentally put his size 10 boot right through the middle of his daughter's veil 20 mins before leaving for the church.

Angie with Lorenzo on her Wedding Day
4. At a country bush wedding in the NSW Australia, Jackie and James took off all their wedding gear and dived naked into a waterfall and pool 25 feet below. Then the bridal party followed right after.

5. The celebrant said 'You may now kiss the bride'. The Asian bride kissed passionately. The Asian groom was overcome and fainted in front of his new bride and guests.

6. The bride, Angie was a scientist and reptologist. She asked for photos with her pet lizard Lorenzo. In previous years Angie had modelled for the 30 second leader of my TV series 'Camera Shy'. She had also been a muse for a Harley Davidson shoot in Wagin WA.

Angie on the Harley shoot in Wagin WA

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Meteors and Stars

Do you know the difference between a Meteor and a Star?

Star search - Gin Gin Observatory WA
A Meteor is space junk. Composed mainly of dust and ice. Sometimes referred to as a  'shooting star'. Meteors (or Comets)  burn bright and colourfully as they enter the earth's atmosphere, burning out to almost nothing. Everyone gazes skywards, with 'oohs' and 'aaahs'. A few seconds later they are finished. They are short lived. A lump of molten metal, cooling, unforgotten, never to be seen again.

A Star is a sun. Seemingly far away in a mystical night sky, the star twinkles faintly. But the twinkle is resilient. Its light is always there. It says 'I'm not going anywhere, you can rely on me.' A Star goes on and on. A Star is permanent, resilient and lasts millions or billions of years. Stars are grounded, honest, reliable.

Such is the plight of some photographers. There are the Meteors and there are the Stars. Recently statistics have been released by Photo Counter, Capture and other sources that indicate the number of female photographers leaving the industry has escalated.

Stars: Shelley Johnson and Peter Holland
One of the longest serving, most successful commercial photographers I know is no 'Shooting Star'. He has been a colleague for 2o years. He maintains a profile lower than a caterpillar in camouflage. He is one of the most sought after, highest paid photographers in WA.

Another photographer who is not a Meteor but a Star is an ex student from 1981. At the pinnacle of her photographic career she sticks to the basics. Even today, after 30 years of success, she religiously sketches her lighting plan and layout for the next day's shoot.

Star portrait photographer Douglas Kirkland
The message here is stay twinkling in the distant sky. Do the small things really well. But seek the limelight and just very well may flame out.