Some days you just have to walk out the door!
Yesterday at a secluded bay not too far from home. Just another shitty day in paradise!
Flash Car Eh!
As I mentioned recently I seem to have fallen down a hole that involves artificial lighting, more specifically, Off Camera Flash or Strobism if you like. In theory it sounds fairly easy to get your head around but in practice it is a mine field at times! You need to look at light in a whole different way than you are used to and start to see the nuances in light which most of us take for granted.
I have been studying the Masters of Light ( Joe McNally, David Hobby and a whole bunch of others) and then gone out to try and put some of that theory into practice, with some truly horrible results at times (Slow learner!) and the rare success that keeps me going on this Quixotic quest!
I recently stumbled across a Perth photographer by the name of Brodie Butler who does some outstanding work with cars and glamorous girls and shares some of that knowledge on his blog. Although most of the work he does involves Elinchrom Studio Flash, great car images can be done with Speedlights and imagination!
I had a crack at an auto shoot the other evening with my two 580 EXII Speedlights and I am pretty pleased with the result!
Ok, it’s not a Lamborghini, but this represents a significant upward tic on my learning curve!
A lot of auto images are shot at dawn or dusk using the sky as a gigantic softbox and take advantage of the sky reflecting of the polished panels and windows of the car.
Light was not quite as well balanced on this one, but I can see what needs to be done! Now all I need is a Supermodel and a Porsche!
Once again, apologies for my absence! An infection in my leg has forced me to spend a lot of time off my feet over the last couple of weeks, so photography has been on the back- burner for a while. 😦
I was sorting through some recent images shot before all this happened when I came across this one of the ‘Blood Moon’ that happened a couple of months ago. This particular blood moon happened at moonrise on the full moon, so the moon was very dark for about 20- 30 mins after sunset. By the time I could actually see it, it was nearly dark and this image had a 30s exposure time at is0800, so there was movement in the moon over that period.
In the interests of experimentation, I decided to see if I could perhaps improve the image with a stationary moon.
After cloning out the original moon I dropped in another full moon that I had on file with a red & yellow gradient over the selected moon. After a couple of false starts I finally got the moon to look as close as possible to the original and ended up with this image.
Well, it has been a long 6 weeks of rest & recuperation after surgery but I am slowly getting out & about more regularly!
This is one of the first images I have shot for ages and is one I have had in my mind for quite a while,but the moon hasn’t been in the right place until last night’s full moon when it all came together at last! There is something magical about the moon rising over the Whitsunday Islands on a balmy tropical evening, reflecting across the water, a sight I never tire of!
All the Best for Christmas & New Year to you all, make it a Happy & Safe one!
Full Moon Rising
This is an image I shot at moonrise last night. I actually saw this image the night before during that brief period when the eastern sky gets a beautiful magenta glow and you can actually see the earth’s shadow.
Couldn’t do much about it at the time as I was on the road, but I returned the next night knowing I would probably need to take a range of images and blend them together to re-create what I had seen the night before.
Remember that the moon rises approx. 50 mins later each night, so I knew that the moon would be too low in the sky during the 10min of Magenta glow.
Following, are the 3 images I took to get to the final image you see above.
The first image was taken to get the best exposure for the foreground, the second image was exposed for the sky, you can see that colour happening in the sky! Notice that the moon hasn’t even appeared yet, now I just need to wait for it and shoot with a 200mm lens.
By the time it is high enough in the sky which is about 20mins later everything else is getting pretty dark but that is ok, all I need is an exposure to get detail in the moon.
After a little work in Lightroom to get each image where I want them, I import the first 2 images into Photoshop where I can exchange the sky in the first image with the darker sky in the second image using a Quick Selection and a Layer Mask
After flattening the image I apply a curves adjustment which as a side effect saturates the sky a little bit more, but I don’t mind that.
Next, I import the moon image and and reduce it’s size by 25% so it fits the image better. Select All, Copy and then Paste it on top of the blended foreground image. Using the Move tool I can then put the moon wherever I like, in this case I put it a little bit higher in the sky to better balance the image
I then change the blend mode of the Moon layer to Screen and voila, the black sky disappears leaving that moon just hanging in the sky about where it was in reality. It is a little bright so I drop the Opacity to about 70% and flatten the image.
This is what Full Moonrise actually looked like.
Pushing my Luck!
“Whitsunday Magic” pictured here is a bit of a jinx ship! She was bought out from Turkey and for a few years was one of the largest vessels in the Whitsunday charter fleet, (I was briefly one of her skippers) before mysteriously sinking at the wharf. After refloating she was sold to someone who had plans to turn it into a floating restaurant down on the Sunshine Coast. After basic repairs they set off, only to have engine trouble shortly after and decided to return to Airlie Beach where the boat sat on anchor for quite a while until earlier this year when the remnants of TC Oswald created havoc along the Queensland Coast.
“Whitsunday Magic” was driven ashore along with many others and has stayed there since with the tide flowing in & out of her hull. I took advantage of the lowest tides of the year to walk out to her across the sand/mud flats & see if I could get some interesting images.
After this shot I waded out a bit for a different angle & that’s where it all went pear-shaped! While trying to extricate my sandal from the mud that I was slowly sinking into, I lost my balance, ended up on my knees and my 5D Mk II with 24mm TS-E came perilously close to going for a swim. Unfortunately they did get a bit of a light shower so the 5D is on it’s way to hospital as I type this!
I guess it would have looked pretty funny to anyone who might have been watching, but at the time………………….
A Big Week!
After much thought, I recently purchased a Canon 70-200 f2.8 L lens and it sat in my bag for about a week before I put it into action. What a great lens! Sharp as a tack,great contrast & colour and at a good price.
Since then it has been my main lens and has tackled everything from yacht racing & landscape to a bit of candid street photography.
The last week or so has been a busy period for the Whitsundays. Airlie Beach Race Week, Whitsunday Reef Festival and Hamilton Island Race Week and we have been blessed by some superb weather through it all. The yacht racing fleet has had to contend with light variable winds but when the days are this good who could complain?!
These images show some of what’s been happening.
All taken with the 70-200.
Here in the Whitsundays we have had some unseasonal weather for the last couple of weeks with strong winds & showers that just seemed to hang around forever! Not much fun if you are out on the water, but, as they say,” every cloud has a silver lining”. In this case,quite a few rainbows have appeared.
Frustrating and ephemeral things they are to capture. Firstly there needs to be rain AND sun, hopefully in the right positions relative to you. I have spent many a frustrating minute chasing rainbows over the years, with precious little in the way of ‘killer shots’ to show for it!
However, while looking through my archive I realised that I have a few nice images, so I thought I would post some of my better ones! Hope you like them.
Tip- To make a rainbow really glow with nuclear colour, a polariser is the way to go. You can even make a rainbow disappear!
Who’s a Pretty Boy?
As I mentioned last post, it is as dry as a chip here at the moment, so for wildlife, water is pretty scarce! I have friends who are part of a wildlife rescue network here in the Whitsundays. As they have an interest in birds, often when I visit they have birds that they are attempting to nurse back to health before release back to the wild. Mostly they are successful but unfortunately there a times when they are not.
Around their home they have some birdbaths that the local avian population take full advantage of to cool down and have a drink during the early morning and late afternoon. After seeing a great image years ago of a Kestrel coming to roost in a tree taken with the aid of fill flash, I wanted to have a crack at a similar image with off camera flash. Not as easy as it looks , you need to have lightning fast reflexes to catch them as they land or take flight! Still, I managed to to capture a few nice images of two Australian Icon birds as well as a few shots with tail feathers exiting the frame!
This image of the Lorikeet came out much better than expected as the lens is a kit 75-300mm lens that I did not have a high opinion of at all!
The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is the raucous clown of the bush and was a pleasant surprise. He didn’t appreciate the flash going off and you could see him visibly start every time I tripped the shutter!
Both are wild birds and were not harmed in the making of this blog post!
Canon 5D II, 580 EX II off camera flash, Manual mode, triggered by Yongnuo RF-603 remote triggers
Over here in Queensland it is as dry as a chip! No decent rain for a few months and it looks like being a hot,dry summer. I am hoping for some wet season rain just to green things up and give the streams & waterfalls a much needed flush out! Sitting on the cusp between La Niná and El Ninó conditions means the chance of good flooding rains is not great.
This is an image I have had on file for quite a long time. I have always passed it mover for more “conventional’ looking stream images. although I have always liked the lighting in the image. Going through my archive the other day for some new calendar images, I looked at this and thought “Why not!”
After very little post processing,here is the result.
At the moment this spot has no water flowing down it, bring on the rain I say!
Work commitments have kept me away from anything photographic over the last couple of weeks which is getting frustrating as I have recently purchased a new Canon Tilt-shift lens AND a Canon 5DMk11 which have both been sitting idle! I am raring to get out and really put them to work!
In the meantime, this shot is from one of my early forays with the Tilt- Shift Lens down to Conway Beach. I was just testing the lens out to see how it worked, when I noticed this little scene.
As the tide recedes, Soldier Crabs start cleaning out their burrows by rolling sand into balls and moving them away from their holes. Lower down the beach there are millions upon millions of these burrows and sandballs! This little guy was obviously not one to move with the crowd. This seemed like a good test for the Tilt- Shift lens so I got the camera about 12-15 inches from the burrow, shifted the lens down for perspective and then applied about 6 degrees of tilt to bring the foreground and background into the same plane of focus.
Unfortunately he wouldn’t show his face but the juxtaposition of the the burrow & sandballs with the smooth sand looks kind of cool! At full size, the image is sharp from foreground to horizon. These are a very versatile lens!
As we move into summer up here in the tropics Poinciana trees begin to flower adding bright splashes of colour to the landscape!
Polarised sunglasses or filters on a camera lens just add to the effect. Thought I would try out my new 5DII!
Ho hum,just another shitty day in paradise!
There are definitely worse places in the world to wake up!
Another image from Cape Gloucester, looking toward Gloucester Is. just before sunset.
Hill Inlet- Whitsundays
It seems like ages since I posted any images of the beautiful Whitsunday Islands which unfortunately I don’t get out to very often these days! This is an image of Hill Inlet which is at the Northern end of Whitehaven Beach. I shot this quite a while ago and it is one of my favourites of this magnificent place!
As you can see, it’s quite a low tide which was not ideal for the great aqua shades you get in the water when the tide is higher. You can see some of it on the left of the image, but what attracted me was this Hoop Pine sapling growing out of a cleft in the rock and despite the odds doing quite nicely! Not a bad place to put down roots!
Here Comes The Sun!
Went for a wander through the rainforest yesterday, also got a reminder about why it is called rainforest….. about as far away from the car as it was possible to be!
Love going on that particular walk because it is never the same, there is always something new to see. It also challenges me photographically. There are some magnificent Strangler Figs that I want to photograph, I walk around them,marvelling at their forms and complex shapes. But I walk on without taking a picture because any photo I take won’t capture their essence. One day, the pieces will fall into place and I will get an image that distills them within a rectangular frame.
One thing that always strikes me about rainforest is that it is a battleground and one of the biggest prizes is sunlight. Every plant needs sunlight for survival and growth.This image is my interpretation of the importance on sunlight to the rainforest, hope you like it!
Haven’t posted for awhile but there is good reason for that! In one of those little twists that life serves up to you, my life has dived off the path into the world of teaching! That’s right, I am now attempting to teach people to do what I have done for the last 20years and be able to take commercial vessels to sea and bring them back in one piece! God help them!
I actually like teaching, love seeing the lights come on when a concept they have been struggling with finally makes sense. But it means a lot less time for photography for a while at least. 😦 The amount of paperwork to deal with is ridiculous!!
In the meantime this is one I shot recently at one of my favourite locations, Cape Gloucester at the top end of the Whitsundays. Another case where the light was so-so when I turned up and came good for a brief period.
Dawn on the Canefields.
This is an image I shot a few mornings ago. As the weather cools up here in the tropics and the wind drops it is great conditions for early morning fog around the canefields. I had been looking for a high vantage point and believe me they are few and far between, but I went up a road called the “Highway to Heaven” and found this spectacular view!Actually very restricted in shooting positions due to the intrusion of power lines, which are the bane of my photographic existence! Shot just as the sun illuminated the fog in the foreground and within 20 minutes it was all gone!
Ever have those days where you feel like you are going in ever decreasing circles? Well here is photographic proof that you are not alone!
I have been wanting to try one of these images for ages, so tonight I decided to have a crack at it. I am reasonably happy with my first result but I learnt a couple of things along the way.
1-: You need a dark night with no moon to really make the stars stand out.
2-: make sure the batteries in your flash are fresh! (I did make an exposure of these trees with flash but I only got one flash in before my “new”batteries died. I like this one better anyway!)
3-: Try to be away from roads if possible. Car headlights can play havoc with your images!
4-: You really need a couple of hours at least to get a good range of arcs with the stars. Therfore you will have around 70 or images to process,stack and blend!
5-: Point 4 will really stretch your RAM, CPU and storage if you do this at full resolution!
I have always liked the idea that we really are space travellers without leaving this 3rd rock from the sun and this image kind of illustrates that idea for me! Stay tuned for some more images on this theme next time we see the dark side of the moon.
Happy New year!
Instead of Partying Hard last night I decided that I needed a couple of decent fireworks shots, so I was good,drank water all night and stuck to the plan!
Ok, It is not Sydney Harbour or London etc but this is NYE in Airlie Beach.
In actual fact the crowd was way better than what you see here but a lot more messy as far as composition goes so I blended a couple of images.
Hope you all have a great 2012!
But, is it Art?
Well, Christian Fletcher’s recent post about art and photography certainly got the natives restless! No doubt, everybody has been thinking about what and how they shoot and I even notice that some are doing their best to capture “ältered landscapes”!
The question about photography and art has been around for ages and many people have tried to answer it, some more successfully than others. I won’t pretend to be an expert on the matter but I will put my two cent’s worth in because like many others I have had a few thoughts running through my tiny brain for the last few days.
Christian did a nice little ‘bait and switch’ by posting an image by Bill Henson which a lot of people thought was Christian heading off with the pixies! Not too many people thought much of Christian’s “new direction”, myself included, because it was not one of the great landscapes that he is noted for.
When Christian revealed that it was in fact an image by an artist who sells photographic ‘art’ for many thousands of dollars and then made the point that that there is much more to photography than great images of the landscapes that surround us, you could just about hear everybody sit bolt upright and start looking at everything through a new prism. A brilliant post!
Christian has a very valid point and photography IS one of the most versatile visual mediums there is, especially in today’s digital world. Just stop and think for a moment of how many different facets of life that photography is used in! Art to Zoology and just about everything in between!
Art, before the camera came along, progressed from charcoal and ochre in a cave to some of the renowned painters like Rembrandt, Picasso and Gaugin just to name a few as well as sculpture. The point is that they were all trying to depict their surroundings through the mediums that was available to them. So, in real terms the camera is just another medium to use, albeit a little more technical than a brush.
After looking at some of Bill Henson’s work, I have decided that he is not my cup of tea but then again neither is Picasso. So I guess that good art is decided by the person standing in front of it.
Which brings me to another point. Peter Lik seems to polarise opinion amongst a lot of photographers especially in Australia! I first became aware of him when I randomly walked into one of his galleries in Noosa a few years ago. I was blown away by some of his images and how they were presented! Some absolutely brilliant stuff. Sure, he is a slightly out there character who probably had ADHD when he was a kid but you can’t deny his enthusiasm and the results he gets which are a result of him going the extra mile to get the images he does. The main difference between him and many other photographers is his ability to promote himself in a market that is amenable to his style. Good on him I say! I suspect that many photographers would like to be in his shoes.
Is he an artist? Sure,why not? He and Bill Henson use cameras in very different ways with very different results but the people who stand in front of their images and are willing to pay lots of money for them will be the ultimate judges of that.
I could go on but I think that is enough from me, just needed to bore you all with that! Sorry!
This image is the first I have shot around the islands for nearly 2 years at a nice little place called Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Is. I think it is a nice piece of worthless photographic art, maybe you do too!
Cedar Ck. Cascade. (Edited Version)
This image is of a spot just above Cedar Ck. Falls here on the Whitsunday mainland. About 10 ft behind me is a 15m drop. For most of the summer this little spot has been a raging torrent due to a very active wet season and it was only the other day I could finally get into here.
Looking around and seeing where the water level was in full flood, it would have been pretty awesome to see, but you would need a helicopter to access it.
If it doesn’t rain again in the next couple of weeks this will probably dry up, so this is about the optimum waterflow for photography purposes.
Hope everybody has a safe and happy Easter!
(After a suggestion by Tony Middleton, a cropped version of the image has been inserted)
St George Basin, Kimberley Coast
David Bettini and Mark Stothard have been posting some great images of their recent trip to the Kimberley and a couple of their images of St George Basin inspired me to have a look at some similar images i have on file.
St George Basin is a large flooded plain into which the Prince Regent R. flows and is home to one of the largest concentrations of Mangroves in Australia. The islands in the Basin create some interesting landscapes and photographic opportunities,especially in the early morning and late afternoon.
Old Gum Tree
Just looking through my files and I found this image of the same tree but with a looming storm in the background. Whatever the conditions, that tree seems to draw your attention and to me both images are quintessentially Australian!