Canon EOS Photo5 Competition

•November 5, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Last month I entered my first public photographic competition.  While I didn’t make the finalists of the Photo5 competition (which had almost 9000 entries across its various “briefs”), I was quite happy with some of the images I produced, and the “briefs” forced me to try out new ideas and techniques and push the boundaries of my ability.

Sailing on the Wind (Brief 2: Bubblegum Portrait)

Sailing on the Wind (Brief 2: Bubblegum Portrait)

Voting is open right now for selecting the final winner from the ten finalists in each category; and if you vote you have a chance to win a Canon semi-pro DSLR or professional compact.

 

Mel’s 21st

•September 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Some photos I took at my friend Melinda’s 21st birthday party.  The costume theme was “Chilhood Icons” and there were some awesome outfits!  Most of the photos were standard “event photography” to capture what was happening on the night – speeches, friends, etc. – but I did get to take a few more artistically composed shots of Mel and her beautiful friends.🙂

Poison Ivy & Batman

Poison Ivy & Batman

Minnie Mel

Minnie Mel

Light and Magic

Light and Magic (medium exposure with 50mm f/1.4 lens in only available light)

Because of the awesome colours in the costumes I thought it best in post-processing to slightly increase the saturation and contrast in the images.  I’ve tried not to go too far with enhancing the colours, however, as to do so would make the images look unrealistic and garish.  Hopefully I’ve managed to find the right medium!

Josie and Kerrie Headshots

•September 19, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I was shooting a couple of short films this weekend and got to take some standard “head shots” of a couple of the cast.  The intention here was to create standard “casting” portraits for applying for acting work, but this was very impromptu: shooting outdoors, in harsh bright sun, at the end of a relatively lengthy film shoot with the wind picking up!  The harsh sun created shadows that were filled using a 580EXII flash bounced off a white Foam-Core reflector, and I used a Foam-Core black reflector to provide an impromptu “studio” backdrop.

Josie Headshot

Josie

Kerrie Headshot

Kerrie

The Stomp #20: “Winter Masquerade”

•August 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I was asked by a friend and event organiser to help take photographs of the most recent “Stomp” dance event in Canberra. “The Stomp” is a charity dance event that is held three times a year, bringing together a broad spectrum of (mainly partner) dance styles for performances and freestyle dancing. The latest Stomp on the weekend was the 20th such event, which combined have raised almost A$70,000 for some very worthwhile causes, including the 2004 Tsunami and the 2010 Haiti Earthquake. As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, taking photographs of dancing is some of the most challenging of tasks a photographer can face; but especially given the “Masquerade” theme of this event, it was a chance to take some very nice photos. The full set is available from Flickr, but here are some of my favourites:

Masked Beauty

Masked Beauty

Big Boss Groove Performing Live

Big Boss Groove Performing Live

Big Boss Groove Performing Live

Big Boss Groove Performing Live

TBC, more images to come!

HvZ ANU “Best Photograph”

•August 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I filmed and photographed the “Humans vs Zombies” game that ran at ANU last week, in preparation for next year’s Lights Canberra Action Film Festival (when I hope to shoot and edit a mini-documentary on this relatively unique Canberran phenomenon). Among the various competitions running was a competition for “Best Photograph” – with the proviso that the photograph had to illustrate some element of the game. I entered this image, which won this title:

The Zombies Charge

The Zombies Charge

Shot handheld Tv @ 1/80s f/4 with EX580 II Speedlite angled slightly up. The lights and sky in the background look rather post-apocalyptic, with players and flying darts frozen in the foreground by the flash.

Landscapes in the Australian Alps

•June 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I tried to travel to the Australian Alps last September – the end of Winter in Australia – to shoot landscapes, but unfortunately I didn’t know that the melting snow would not make for the kinds of shots I wanted to take. Little did I know but snow on the ground continually absorbs mud and minerals; and as it melts, those contaminants concentrate into streaky bands and patches in the remaining snow. Thus, I was determined to shoot the *new* snow this year, and over the weekend just passed (which included a public holiday here in Australia!) I travelled back to the Australian Alps to photograph the changing scenery.

Stream in the Australian Alps

Stream in the Australian Alps

It was a really lovely trip. The sky was a cloudless blue and there wasn’t a breath of wind all day, which meant it felt comfortably warm enough without being trussed up in thick coats. There was plenty of spectacular scenery, and I took quite a few photos which I’m now post-processing. The image above was produced using my HDR-Lightroom technique, described here. I’m still refining the technique, but it’s certainly capable of producing high-impact images!

Greatest Photographic Challenge Ever?

•June 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

On the weekend I went down to the coast with a whole lot of amazing, gorgeous dance friends. We had a wonderful weekend of relaxing and socialising by day, and dancing by night. However, social dancing is, from my experience, one of the most difficult things in the world to photograph.

Dee and Pat dancing Bachata

Dee and Pat dancing Bachata: ISO2000 - f/1.4 - 1/40s

Social dancing is almost always done in low light for ambience. Low-light photography usually means shooting with high ISO, wide apertures, and slower shutter speeds, except that dance involves fast movements, and to “freeze” the action one needs to shoot with as fast a shutter speed as possible.  If you’re photographing sport in good light, you might choose a shutter speed of 1/125s or 1/250s to “freeze” the action; but that’s simply not possible when you’re shooting subjects in a room lit by a single light bulb!

Dancers lit by a single lamp bulb

Dancers lit by a single lamp bulb: ISO1600 - f/1.4 - 1/50s

Rather than shooting with a fast shutter speed, I have found that shooting dance photography in low light requires a sense of musical timing and an understanding of dance.  As a dancer myself, I’m careful to watch the movement of the dancers I’m photographing, and keep a sense of the rhythm and tempo of the music.  This means I can predict, to some extent, when my subjects will move and when they will stop; and I time my shutter button for those stops.

A natural "freeze" in action: a "drop"

A natural "freeze" in action: a "drop"

The other difficult factor in shooting dance photos is the shallow depth of field resulting from the need to keep the aperture wide open.  At the ranges at which I was shooting, the acceptable depth of field was a mere 10-15cm; certainly almost never deep enough to capture both partners in sharp detail.  Rather, I was forced to choose to manually focus on just one partner’s face – usually the girl’s – and let the rest of the photograph blur with motion and/or depth of field.  The results aren’t that bad – indeed, this focus on a specific part of the image can help to strengthen the composition.

Performing a group "Zumba" routine!

Performing a group "Zumba" routine!

I was able to apply the same techniques to other activities during the weekend requiring low-light capture, such as this shot of social table-tennis:

Social table tennis

Social table tennis

The “easy” way to shoot these subjects would have been to simply use a flash – and yes, I could have; I had my 580 EXII with me, but chose to shoot these in available light to preserve the natural ambience, and to shoot more discretely.  I felt that having a high-powered flash going off would make the photography far more intrusive and my subjects a lot more self-conscious, as well as detracting from the dancers’ enjoyment of the dancing.  Quietly clicking away without a flash meant that my friends wouldn’t feel like they were constantly under scrutiny, and I feel that these shots portray the weekend’s fun in a more candid and natural way than could be achieved with an in-your-face flash-and-big-zoom-lens approach.

 
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