Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Best of 2011

During 2011 I didn't focus so much on photography, as much of my time was spent with relocation to Sweden and building Photozeit.

1. Nürnberg - I spent most of this holiday with my camera in B&W mode, and this helped capture the mood of this beautiful old city.


2. Lily flower - opportune timing after some rain while staying with Mary-anne's Queensland retreat.

Lily Flower

3. Uppsala Sunset - the advantage of the short winter days is that the golden hour extends for quite some time. This was shot on the way home to our apartment in Uppsala early in 2011.

Uppsala Sunset

4. Ice Hotel - the hotel in the north of Sweden is very dramatic.

Ice Hotel

5. Northern Lights - also while in the north, we saw the aurora borealis from the Abisko Mountain Station. I really regret leaving my tripod in Melbourne, as this was shot with a long exposure and the camera hand-held against a railing on a balcony.

Northern Lights

6.a. Ladurée - a wonderful tea house in Paris, these were a few of the things we picked up, captured by Parisian window light.


6.b. Eifel Tower - being my second trip to Paris, I tried for a slightly different angle to the tower. I think it will take a few more trips to get a great shot.

Eifel Tower

7. Sailing boat - taken from a ferry in the archipelago near Stockholm, the old style sails add to the painterly feel of the shot.

Sailing boat in Stockholm's archipelago

8. Gardens of Drottningholm Palace - I really like the autumn colours and the offset nature of the couple sitting on the chair.

Gardens of Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm

9. Drottningholm Palace - nice autumn light and a good mix of clouds helps highlight the palace.

Drottningholm Palace, Stockholm

10. Red Tulips - from our visit to Keukenhof, this was my favourite shot. The stray drop of water on the front tulip always catches my eye.

Red Tulips, Keukenhof Netherlands

Earlier posts are here: 2010, 2009, 2008.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Best of 2010

I'm a bit behind on best of posts. Last year was quite hectic with moving to Sweden, however 2010 was a good year for me spending time making photos.

I use a very similar process to Martin Bailey in narrowing down my selection, and he has a great post describing it here.

These are my picks from 2010:

1. Bitterballen - a Dutch delight that M cooked, and then I took the photo. I'm happy with the context shown by the mustards (in Chinese tea cups).


2. Penguin - taken by torchlight in the St Kilda breakwater.

Penguin, St Kilda Breakwater

3. Gardens of the Louvre - fortunate timing led to snow in Paris, and this arrangement of chairs receding in the background caught my eye.

Gardens of the Louvre

4. Sticky Date Pudding - one of my favourite desserts, with delicious caramel peanut brittle in ice cream.

Sticky Date Pudding

5.a. Olympus Pen - found this camera in Vietnam, and it marks my first attempts at using film.

Olympus Pen EES-2

5.b. Michelle - the Olympus takes two photos to a 35mm frame, and this dual image worked well together.


6. Wedding Dance - we were lucky to attend a wedding in the Swedish city of Örebro.

Wedding Dance, Örebro

7. Camp Cooinda 50th - an interesting view of Jack, the MC, speaking at Camp Cooinda's 50th.

Camp Cooinda 50th

8. Lauren - from a portrait session in 2010.

Lauren #2

9. Sleeping Lemur - taken at Singapore Zoo when trying out my 100mm macro lens.

Sleeping Lemur

10. Highway travel - Indian roads were quite an adventure, and this was one of the shepherds with his flock of sheep. Slowing down to avoid hitting them gave me a chance for this photo.

Highway Travel, India

A larger selection of my work from 2010 is on Flickr.

Photos from 2011 are coming soon.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


I haven't been doing so much photography of late, as I am focused on putting together a photography news site, Photozeit.

The idea is to provide a daily update of photography news from around the web, including tutorials, inspirational photo galleries, photographer interviews, and other topics of interest.

This leads to a strange place, where I feel like I am spending more time reading about photography than actually taking pictures. My time with the camera tends to be for holidays and travel, rather than actively making photos.

My Flickr page reflects this pause.

One trip that was particularly fun, was visiting Keukenhof, the Dutch tulip festival held near Amsterdam.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Preparing for an event

In preparations for a recent event that I was shooting, I realised that I use a very simple approach. I ask the same question over and over, "What if ...".

Here are some examples of the question, and how I answered it for this particular event.

What if my camera fails?

For this particular event, a friend was loaning me his 5D Mark II for some video work. I would have to compromise on the video footage, but I'd still be able to shoot.

What if I run out of batteries?

For my camera, I have two batteries. I made sure to charge both of them prior to the event, and tested them in the camera to ensure charge.

For my flash(es), I brought several sets of AA batteries, also recharged.

What if my battery backups fail?

For this scenario, I also packed both the camera battery charger and a fast charger for my AA batteries. I hope never to have to use this option, but it can be helpful if something goes less than perfect.

What if the lighting is bad?

Step one to this was to pack my 430EX and a few light modifiers. At an event, the lighting is never great for wandering around in a crowd. This setup allows for on-camera flash, and worked a treat.

Step two was to consider the speeches. Sometimes stage lighting is enough. I've spent enough time in venues not to trust this, so I packed another speedlight, two PocketWizards, a light stand and a Super Clamp. This allows me to add light to almost anything.

It saved me for this event, as the stage was poorly lit. I was able to place a flash in the balcony above the stage that spilled over onto the area where people were speaking. The PocketWizards allowed me to shoot from anywhere in the room, and to optionally add some additional light to the stage. I used camera modes to jump between white balance and other camera settings for different looks. This allowed me to easily swap between stage and crowd shots.

What if a memory card fails?

This one always worries me. I make sure to take multiple memory cards to an event, and rotate them so that the photos are shared between them. That way, if one does fail, I only lose some of the photos. Filling up one card and then having it fail with two other good cards in the bag would make me cry.

The other thing I do is to backup the images to my computer as soon as I return home. They are then backed up to a secondary storage device (an external USB hard drive) before I format the cards. I aim to have duplicate copies of the images where ever possible.

What if I miss the speeches?

Timing is critical at an event, and for this I couldn't plan too much in advance. I only found out that I was shooting the night before. I arranged to get access to the venue in advance, turned up early to ensure parking, and then tracked down the event co-ordinator.

She provided me with access to the balcony, as well as walking me through a running sheet of what was planned for when. As with most events, this didn't quite go to plan for timing, but it did go to order. This let me ensure I was at the right place at the right time.

After the event

All that is left now is to process the images. This particular event went well and resulted in some great shots. Once I've worked through the pictures, I'll post up some details on how some of them were captured.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Top Model TV Shows

I've been watching Australia's Next Top Model this series, and while the series is focused on the models, there is a lot that is educational for photographers.

When shooting with beginning models or non-models, it falls to the photographer to coach those in front of the camera into producing a great photo. The feedback from the judges and the model coaches in the series provides insight into different ways of getting the best out of a model.

It helps me to hear the concerns of the models. In my first shoots my attention was on gear; the least important bit of a shoot. Model confidence and styling matters much more in getting great images.

The photo shoots sometimes show some interesting techniques. I love the pictures from last week's night shoot in Japan. They were shot in low light with a 1 second exposure. The difficulty came in having the model stay still without appearing tense. This is where a talented model can shine.

Be warned that not all of the variants of the show are useful. The British version seems to be aimed at soft porn, New Zealand is a bit low on production values, and the US version tends to be all about Tara, although rumour has it that this series is an improvement.

I find the Australian version the most useful. The focus is more on producing a professional top model than on reality television.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Film and my Olympus Pen

For something different, after almost a decade of shooting digital, I thought I'd try using film again. Inspired by the re-release of the Olympus Pen, I bought one of the original film versions, the EES-2.


The Pen series gets twice the value from a roll of film, as it takes two photos per 35mm frame. This gives a default portrait orientation of the camera and is a different aspect ratio to look at.


My first roll of film covered a work trip through Vietnam, a trip to Sydney, the Blue Mountains and time spent wandering through Melbourne. It was agonising not knowing if the camera worked or not. I was very excited to finally receive the prints.


I learnt a few lessons with using this camera. Firstly, pay attention to focus. There is no visual indication of focus, but rather a manual dial around the lens. I need to remember to change this more often, as the lens has a shallow depth of field in most conditions and I took lots of blurry photos.


Secondly, I learnt to take more time with each exposure. This is the big win for my photography. The requirement is of pre-visualising the photo; the final you may not see for weeks yet. This led me to think quite carefully before taking a shot. Hopefully it leads to better photos.


Finally, to have fun. Shooting within the constraints of an automatic, manually focusing film camera was liberating. The technology is fixed (in the 60's), so a good photo is the result of good photography. Now back to practising!


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April & Joanne


Last year while I was in Malaysia I had a great shoot with April and her friend Joanne.

Joanne & April

We tried out a few concepts around Kuala Lumpur, and got some great shots.


This shoot was a big shift for me. Prior to this shoot, each shoot was over-planned. I spent too long worrying about every detail. With limited time, I went with what was possible and wound up with great results.

Part of what helped was completing two weddings during the year. After being able to shoot in an environment I can't control and get great images, I was much more confident of being able to put together a portrait session.