Sunday, 21 March 2010

Photography Memories at Easter

With the coming of Easter 2010 this blog is a little more personal as my memories have been drawn back to when the Easter bunny that came to my house was replaced with the Easter Bilby.

During a very long trip to document and collect images and stories from Queensland’s outback, my path crossed that of Peter McRae. Now for those that don’t know Peter he is not your average ‘Jo Blow’.

In tow I had my three children and we were living out of a tent while I was working and schooling them via Charleville School of the Air (thanks all at CSA – you were fabulous).

Immediately we were drawn to the cause this quiet achiever was working for. In his clasp lay whether such a cute Aussie animal in a state of peril due to the fact we had introduced the fox and cat to our large island would survive or not. (nothing against cat lovers J)

So as it is here: its boots and all or not at all. We helped build an amazing fence where Bilbies are now breeding and playing; documented and wrote about the Bilby’s plight and the man behind saving them. At the tender age of … ,my daughter was also impressed by Peter’s devotion to these helpless creatures and set about organising a ‘free dress day’ in Queensland public schools  where proceeds went directly to the research being undertaken by the ‘boy from the bush’.

Our dedication to the cause went so far as to carting bilbies around; having them for sleep over’s in my toilet (if this does happen to you please make sure the toilet lid is down), my boys testing trackers, and loads more too long for this blog, however the best memories are the ones that I took with my camera.
Like the image I have of John, one of my sons the day he met Peter, after he had given him his entire money box to help save the bilbies. Pete checking the Bilby fence on a clear skyed winter day and seeing the look in his eyes reflecting the realisation that miracles do happen and people do listen.  Us all partying with Sherrie and Moc at the Hungerford Hotel – another tick to the list!

There’s an image that sticks in my mind of the sun setting through a newly finished sculpture, those who had been chiselling and carving on the project were happily toasting their efforts of a job well done as they stood around a vehicle behind me trying to coax me to join them. I kept insisting ‘yes soon’. I was sure the light would come on through one of the sculptures on the right angle, and if it did I would only have a few seconds to capture it – I was right!

There are images of my daughter dressed in a Bilby suit for the fence opening at Currawinya National Park and others of my youngest son attending ‘ranger school’ with distance educational kids and beside them sat children that attended ‘normal ‘ school who had escaped to the outback for the big fence opening – at moments like these there WAS no difference.

So Easter this year does bring a flood of memories back. The Bilbies are breeding inside the fence – a bit like rabbits. Pete is still toiling away in outback Queensland and now helping with the Northern Hairy Nosed Wombat fence. And I have those special memories and a feeling of gratitude that through my images and writing I have aroused awareness in this important fight for survival.

There are many charities out there, I agree, and what you choose to support and what not, it is totally up to you.  With Bilbies, it’s easy, just buy a chocolate Bilby at Easter and replace the feral bunny.  If you are ever in Charleville call in and see the Bilby Experience at the Charleville Visitor Information Centre.

Above all, let Easter bring back some memories , savour family time, and  hopefully capture some new ones for the record in years to come.

By notes:
  The whole collection of images for the region took Danielle almost 2 years to photograph. All images were taken on 35mm and 6x7” transparencies (slide film).  Her favourite memories: ‘the people, places and faces.’

The Bilby Experience:
  April- mid October Monday,  Wednesdays, Friday and Sunday nights from 6.00pm
Bookings:  07 4654 7771

 Peter McRae and a Bilby
Pete checking the fence.

One of the sculptures.
The road into Cuurrawinya.
Where is Currawinya?

Friday, 12 March 2010

Photographing Fungi

After the recent wet weather that has lashed many parts of Queensland lately - as I write this it is falling once again ever so gently – I am reminded that along with the humidity we have experienced in the forest fungi will be blooming – well if that’s what you call it.

One of the more interesting plants of the forest to photograph, fungi can present challenges to any photographer.

Many novices, due to the environment fungi grow in being dark, revert to using on-camera flash. This direct lighting kills the texture and produces harsh, ugly shadows. Therefore a tripod and a cable release, remote or using your camera’s self timer is a must! The simple pressure of your finger on the shutter will, and I repeat will cause camera shake.

The best lighting to photograph fungi is an overcast day. This gives a diffused even light courtesy of nature itself.

If flash is to be used it should be off-camera and diffused. Reflectors are also often necessary in photographing fungi. In one of the images below I have simply used alfoil to reflect light back into the underside of the fungi.

Depth of Field (DOF) is critical in fungi photography, no matter if you are working with a true macro lens or not. Most fungi are very small and if you are working in macro the old rule of DOF of 1/3 in front and 2/3rds behind goes out the door. It’s now 50-50. Your focus point is then critical and should not most probably be the front edge of the cap of the fungi.

Focusing should also be done manually and the last final focus should not be done using the focus ring but by actually moving the camera.

In the newer cameras live view is wonderful. You are often working close to the ground and other than there are things crawling and slithering on the moist earth, the live view is a beneficial tool as it allows you to zoom in, focus and take the exposure without often lying prone on the frequently wet earth of a rainforest floor.

Mirror lock-up is also a handy in-camera tool. The first press of your shutter locks the mirror up and therefore you have no view. The second press releases the shutter and hence decreases shake from the mirror.

Did you know?
A mushroom is the part of a group of plants called fungi that contain no chlorophyll.
The mushroom is the part that appears above ground. It is the fruiting body of the plant, and the spores the mushroom produces are the reproductive units. Due to the lack of chlorophyll, fungi do not produce food and survive by metabolizing organic material. The parts of a mushroom include the cap, the gills that produce the spores (usually under the cap) and the stalk. Well a little science and know how can’t hurt us can it?A good Read:

Want to read a great book about photographing fungi?
Then check out “Photographing Fungi in the Field” by George McCarthy. George McCarthy has been a professional photographer since 1986 and specialises in the flora and fauna of the British Isles, with a particular interest in fungi. He has put his experience and knowledge to good use in writing this book.

Publisher: Guild of Master Craftsman Publications
ISBN 1-86108-263-3

Images (c) by Danielle Lancaster

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

World Press Photo Disqualifies Photographer!

Today the World Press Photo announced that “after careful consultation with the jury, [it has] determined that is was necessary to disqualify Stepan Rudik, winner of the 3rd prize story in Sports Features, due to violation of the rules of the World Press Photo Contest."
Ukraine-based photographer, won the prize for his story "Street fighting, Kiev, Ukraine".
No doubt this will commence many discussions on the word manipulation and what is acceptable in the modern world. 

How did they know? The organisation added in their release: "Following the announcement of the contest results, it came to the attention of World Press Photo that Rudik's story had violated a contest rule. After requesting RAW-files of the series from him, it became clear that an element had been removed from one of the original photographs."

What was removed – apparently a foot. World Press added the new rule last year that "the content of an image must not be altered" ...... "only retouching which conforms to currently accepted standards in the industry is allowed".  

World Press Photo says: "In the opinion of the jury, the photographer ventured beyond the boundary of what is acceptable practice. Consequently, this judgment left World Press Photo no choice but to disqualify Rudik." 

So once again the debate of what is manipulated and what is not is bought to the forefront. What can and can’t we do in our new digital darkroom? No doubt a debate that will continue for a long time.