Saturday, 31 July 2010

Roll up, roll up, the show is coming to town!!!

With the Brisbane Ehixibition (Ekka) coming up we thought we would throw in a few tips for show photography.

A couple of the pups in the kennel here have been put to the test photographing a broad shot list of images for show committees. OK I can hear some of you snicker, ‘a show? How hard can that be?’

Well not at all if you know your lighting, subjects, weather patterns, wind directions, cloud cover, time table of events across how many arenas and how many events are there really to each arena? Someone should let show photographers into the secret of cloning themselves.

One such show we covered was the Cairns Show – the third largest show in Australia. Another blog will be posted about one of the pup’s personal experiences soon.
In the mean time for those venturing to the Ekka, here’s our top tips:

If possible leave the tripod in the car and go back for it just before dark. It’ll get heavy carrying it around all day.

Get off the main track and go for a wander. Special things happen at shows away from the crowds of side show alley.
This calf was born on the show curcuit four days before.

Don’t be afraid to push up the ISO once it gets a bit gloomy or when inside. A little noise can often be dealt with PP depending on the quality of camera you are shooting with.

Look to make a photo essay of your visit or tell a story of an event. Sit, wait and let the story unfold.
Tjapukai Dancer at the Cairns Show preparing to ignite the fireworks.

Use fill flash on a sunny day to subdue those harsh horrible shadows.

For the fireworks, pick your spot early and try to get some side show alley in the background – gives the fireworks some context. Take your UV filter off, switch lens stabilisation off and hope the wind blows in the opposite direction as it can ruin any firework photography adventure.

Be brave and ask people if you can get a shot of “little Sally petting the baby duckling”. These shots teach you a lot about your own skills towards working with people.

You like speed? Well when the speed comes at low light this allows you to experiment with some awesome techniques. To freeze motion under flash at night you need to have available “High Speed Sync”.

High Speed Sync" is needed when shooting with flash at night.

Motion blur techniques can look awesome. Try panning (best achieved with a shutter speed less than 1/30th and please this is an estimate depending on light variables) or creating abstract with zoom.
Upcoming Bluedogs on panning plus using flash and High Speed Sync”. will be posted in the weeks to come.

Where possible, except at night, use a polariser. You will be surprised at the reflections it eliminates that our eye really does see but just does not relay to us and the colour and contrast it produces which means less post processing – always good news.

Check out others work and know what’s happening at the show. Timetables are usually easily available on the net for most.

Be patient. If you see a scene sit and wait, something will happen.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Appropriate Photography - have we lost our senses?

By Danielle Lancaster

Every now and then, one of us here has to have a vent. You could call it a verbal vomit and here goes:
Tonight I opened (and to keep the sender unanimous) an email, snail mail, magazine (am sure by now you get the drift). Glaring at me was a fabulous photo of a group of girls from a school here in Australia with the local village women who they had gone to meet on a school trip far, far away from our sunny and ‘luxurious’ Australian shores. For many of us, a trip like this is a trip of a life time.
Now while I am sure many of their parents would look this image and say ‘look at our little darling’ (from the copy editor: OK Danielle, enough tongue in cheek for one blog), I looked at it in horror. Yes the girls looked beautiful in their short, short, khaki shorts and skimpy white tops but not dressed appropriately for visiting the culture they were visiting.
An outfit for ‘Tomb Raider’ or some other Hollywood blockbuster but....DOES NO ONE instruct these girls on appropriate dress when visiting these people?? Call me old fashioned, call me a stick in the mud or whatever springs to mind, but we cannot forget we are fortunate enough for some of us still to see villages like this, experience the time and place of another culture. The more we make them a tourist attraction the more they will become.
I feel the majority of this is total ignorance though I am not sure in the world we live in this should now be an excuse – there is information on every corner, at every news stand and within every click of the mouse button into the wide world of cyber space. It is an aspect we cover in our pre tour meetings for the Buedog Vanuatu Photography Tour and has rewarded our participants no end.
Come on Australia: let’s have some respect, we ask for it here, let’s learn from different cultures and lets all make an attempt to get along for the sake of our planet.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

A winter's day out in Melbourne

By Danielle Lancaster

Melbourne has always been one of my favourite cities in Australia to visit. It’s vibrant, attractive, chic and historical. There’s art, theatre, film, music, festivals, sport and events and best of all its fun.

Set around the shores of Port Phillip Bay, its pulsing heart on the northern banks of the Yarra River has much to offer.

Winter maybe not a season many envisage visiting Melbourne, however this is a city made for winter. It’s as if the city turns up the heat, then turns a cheek to the cold and shrugs off any shivers presenting a warmth and variety of affairs that will have many wanting for more, or maybe like me, extending my stay.

While wandering the inner city over the past few days I’ve discovered a few new things: some down alley ways, around corners, tucked away and others out in the open bracing the clear winter skies and revisited old favourites.

Take the State Library of Victoria for example. It’s had a few changes since my last visit. Such as Mr Tulk, its stylish licensed cafe named after the libraries first librarian, Augustus Tulk. Open Monday to Saturday for brunch and lunch, and for after-work drinks on Friday.
Who said libraries had to be quiet?

Currently showing is ‘til you drop, a free exhibition ‘which celebrates Melbourne's passion for shopping, from the Paris end of Collins Street to the local corner store.’ Along with a 19th-century cash register, wartime ration cards, Buckley & Nunn shopping receipts, early colour postcards, classic photographs and catalogues, it also includes photographs by Wolfgang Sievers of Collins Street in the 1960s

'til you drop continues till Sunday 31 October 2010
More: 03 8664 7099 or visit

At the Melbourne Museum we journeyed back in time almost 100 years to 1912 and the intriguing story of the world’s largest and ‘unsinkable’ ship, at Titanic: The Artefact Exhibition. We viewed more than 280 artefacts recovered from the ocean floor and detailed reconstructions of the ship’s interior never seen before in Australia in this Melbourne-only showing.
Where: Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson Street Carlton.
When: Till the 17th October 2010 from 10am-5.00p
Cost: Adult: $24 Child: $16 Family: $66 Conc: $18.00 (includes entry into Melbourne Museum).

From our balcony at Mantra on Russell we can see maxims of behaviour, a moving artwork of light by artist Alexander Knox – it’s amazing! This ever changing display illuminated upon the Royal Mail House on the corner of Bourke and Swanston streets ‘mimic's the city's colour, rhythm and behaviour, whilst appearing to have a life of its own’. Visible from dusk til late during the winter months until the 31 August 2010 it was commissioned by the Public Art Program, City of Melbourne. Cost: Free

While not new, Shanghai Dumpling Restaurant is a true Melbourne dining treasure. Don’t be fooled by its modest facade for this dumpling and noodle house dishes up generous and tasty servings – we fed four of us for under $50.00 with food left over. Complimentary Chinese tea provided for all diners and if there is a line out the door, believe us, it’s worth the short wait (each time we have been the line moves quickly as they work to get you seated as quickly as possible). Please note payment is by cash only.
Where: Ground and 1st Floor 23 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne. Contact: 03 9663 8555

Last but not least on our Melbourne jaunt today before heading for some serious retail therapy was the Wheeler Centre, Australia’s first Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, opened in February 2010. Described as an ‘ambitious Victorian Government initiative which saw Melbourne designated as a UNESCO City of Literature in 2008 and join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network alongside Berlin, Montreal, Seville, Edinburgh and other global creative cities.’ It brings together a host of organizations and for those who enjoy a little literature check out some of the amazing events hosted here:

And we have not even covered the best of the coffee houses, wine bars, parks and gardens or the shopping. We look forward to another visit to Melbourne very soon!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Tips for Photography in Cold Weather

Words by Danielle Lancaster
Images by Augustine Mathews

There is no doubt, winter has arrived here in the southern hemisphere and while it is cold outside, winter provides photographers with an array of wonderful photographic opportunities. For those of us who dare venture out into wintery cold conditions we are faced with a different set of dilemmas from our usual sunny tropical days and these can vary from mechanical to psychological. Batteries may fail, condensation can form, lenses can fog, the LCD and other displays may start to flicker or even freeze themselves. This means a little care and preparation of our camera and gear is called for to ensure it works well, is not damaged and we don’t freeze to death in the process.

Image by Augustine Mathews

Here’s a few tips:

• Take a spare battery with you and keep it warm. Batteries do not like cold conditions and the life of the battery radically reduces when used in cold conditions. It’s best to keep your spare battery as close to your body as possible so it stays as warm as it possibly can.

• If your battery does run out of charge place it back close to your body or somewhere warm and you may well find the cold battery finds a bit more charge.

• Don’t keep your battery close to metal objects such as keys and loose coin change.

• Take a camera bag that can keep your camera warm while you are not using it or place you camera inside your jacket as you walk around.

• Never breathe on your lens to clean it especially when working in very cold conditions. It will generally smear your lens more and the water droplets on your breathe may freeze on your lens. Any ice on your camera or lens is just water waiting to be defrosted when you return inside. Immediately use a dry lint-free cloth to clean you camera lens and your camera of water, snow etc.

• If you are doing a lot of cold and even freezing weather photography it is worth while considering purchasing a waterproof plastic case – they vary in price and quality.

• When bringing your camera in from the cold, give it time to adjust to the room temperature. Its best to move the camera into an unheated room for at least half an hour first before the heated room and to place it inside a camera bag to help minimise condensation.

• If you do notice condensation, stop using your camera immediately!!! Continuing to use it may cause permanent damage. Remove the battery, lens cap and memory card and keep all the compartment doors open. Some photographers will even place their cameras into a plastic bucket of rice to absorb the moisture.

• Your camera manual specifications should list the minimum and maximum operational temperatures and humidity for your model of camera. If these are extended it may invalidate any warranty.

• Don’t forget you! Keep yourself warm – when you get cold your concentration waivers and soon you will find the indoors begging. Two pairs of socks can help with the feet, fingerless gloves and a warm beanie for your head (we lose a large amount of warmth from our heads). A warm drink is also a good idea.

Image by Augustine Mathews

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Bluedog Does the Rumba

By Danielle Lancaster

Here in the Bluedog Kennel we get to cover a wide range of photography shooting scenarios and experience a wide range of opportunities. It keeps us on our toes and recently on a contract on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast we came across a new tourism treasure we have to share with you.

It’s the Rumba Beach Resort – Caloundra’s only 5 star resort and it is has already lured some of us back for another night or two, it’s really that good!

I can remember heading to Caloundra as a young girl from the bush on family holidays and loving it. Caloundra always had that relaxed, laid back charm and thank fully in a growing frenzy of high rising concrete monsters taking over much of Queensland’s coast line this coastal strip has been spared.

But don’t expect to find Caloundra as it was 30 years ago. Yes it is still quiet and laid back but now there is a modern finesse, a taste of chic and along with Rumba worthy of luring us back to check it out.

Let’s start with the resort first. We get to visit a lot so to rank highly it has to be good. Here’s some of the the top points we loved about Rumba:

Every room has beach views.

Coffee Espresso machines and quality furnishings, fittings and everything – even the knives are good quality and sharpened each week!

The state-of-the-art sound, lighting and WIFI connectivity: each apartment is built out of Ritec meaning its totally sound proof and on my last visit we racked up the stereo to full ball and you could not hear a sound from outside.

One of Rumba's beautifuly appointed apartments.

Location, Location, Location: set opposite the new Waterfront Boardwalk and across from Bulcock Beach with magnificent views across the Pumicestone Passage. Rumba is also home to four restaurants and will soon have its own pampering day spa – oh yes!! There’s Hog's Breath Cafe, La Dolce Vita, The Coffee Club and The Penefathings Inn (you must check out the lead light around the bar made up of local scenes by a local artist).

Beach views from every apartment.

The pool and bar areas – these are superb!! Every age will love them. There’s cocktail hour around the big pool, a giant Jacuzzi, a heated lap pool that rises above Rumba’s restaurant plaza - all a guarantee for a perfect holiday setting. Even the locals have discovered the bar and pop in for happy hour.

What child, big or small would not love this pool at the Rumba.

They will SMS you if your room is ready early and it usually is!

Relaxing in the spa.

Their specials – a girl does love a good deal. Check them out and if you are looking for any last minute deals for the remainder of the school holidays then this may be the place to go. They regularly have specials for that much needed get-away too which we here can highly recommend.

Anyway if you thought Caloundra was only for retirees and those with little children think again! Rumba means FUN, it’s got an Italian elegance without the hefty price tag and has become a bit of a special favourite with some of the crew here. Enjoy!!

Rumba Beach Resort
The Esplanade, Caloundra
Sunshine Coast, QLD
Tel: 07 5492 0555

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Travel and Photography Tips for Travelling in Cambodia

Words and Images by Danielle Lancaster

As I make the journey back to Australia after a fabulous week in Siem Reap, Cambodia I thought I’d answer a few of the emails from people asking for tips to travelling to Cambodia in this blog.

There are loads of web sites with relevant information on travelling in Cambodia and it is a great idea to go through them but here’s a few of mine.

Allow more than one day to see the temples and buy a non consecutive day pass. There is more than Angkor Wat to see! The temples are huge and there can be a lot of walking. Allow time to see the outer temples such as Banteay Prey and Beng Melea. These are not included in your temple pass and are well worth seeing as they are less visited by tourists and amazing!

Never touch a monk! If handing a monk something always bow your head and hold the edge of the object closest to you and away from them. Always ask permission to photograph monks and white-robed nuns (Don Chees) before doing so – during Pol Pot around 95% of the monks in Cambodia disappeared in his eight point plan. They are special people and deserve respect. If they say no, put your camera down.

Make sure you have permission to photograph within any temple and/or pagoda
and treat the nuns and monks with respect.

When entering a temple take off your shoes, hat and sunglasses. Wear appropriate clothing to all non living and living temples. Shorts and singlet tops should be avoided. Look at Cambodian men – you will rarely see any men wearing shorts.

Drink plenty of water and watch the colour of your urine. Never drink any water from taps and always only drink bottled water. Most hotels and guest houses will supply two bottles of water each day and bottled water is easily bought. Use bottle water for brushing of teeth.

Lock your goods in your suitcase in your room and use a safety deposit box within your hotel/guest house for your passport.

Don’t buy from the street children. I know this can be hard as this is a very poor country, however if people keep buying from the children on the streets, around the temples etc and they continue to make any form of income from it their parents will keep them on the streets and not send them to school. School in Cambodia in our eyes is not expensive but in a country where they are lucky to earn $0.50 cents per day, education is the only way these beautiful people can move forward.

Cash is best. Make it US dollars and plenty of small notes – it’s also best to have loads of $1 notes. Not many places have credit card facilities and Cambodian money is often forfeited and not regularly dealt in. Don’t even bother with travellers cheques. When changing money ensure no notes have a tear in them as they will not be accepted and you will have to go to a bank to exchange.

Take plenty of $1 Us notes and make sure not one of your notes
has a tear in it no matter how small.

Be mindful of tourism traps like the Lake tour of Tonle Sap. There is more than one village on the lake and many operators take tourists to the ‘tourist’ one where you are taken to a floating souvenir shop and hassled by begging children and adults. There are other villages more worthy of visiting such as Kampong Phluk and while this is a bit of a drive by tuk tuk then dirt bikes (supplied at a meeting point with driver if needed) it is worth it.

On a photography note:
Make sure your lenses have a UV filter and rarely use your lens cap due to condensation build up. I actually take mine of before getting out of the plane and it does not go back on again till I have boarded on my way home.

Keep a cloth for cleaning your lens handy all the time. Cambodia can be very dusty.

Don’t count out visiting during the wet. Yes it is hot and humid but there are fewer tourists; the clouds make for wonderful images of the temples and landscapes and downpours are tropical so heavy and usually only short in duration, however it can make for some areas to be more difficult to get to. I have had some awesome experiences on dirt bikes during these times.

Find a good driver. I use Chamnan and am happy to pass on his details. He speaks very good English and knows the type of things photographers like to do. He is also willing to start early and finish late; however I also respect him and look after him. That is: I buy him water, food and little treats like spiders and crickets. I also pay him generously but each time I return he is the first to meet me with a huge smile and Cambodian bow greeting.

Learn the correct greeting: a bow and holding of the hands pressed together called a Sompeah. The lower the bow and the higher the hands, the more respect is shown. Handshakes are today used in business, however I still avoid this on all levels as a showing of respect. In Australia we tend to prefer firm handshakes – not in Cambodia as this can be interpreted as aggression. When exchanging business cards, the right hand or both hands should be used.

Cambodians do not hug and don’t like touching so be wary of this.

Learn to say thank you properly, again using the Sompeah gesture. And always smile. You will be rewarded with a wonderful experience.

Don’t go in with a fear factor. I have travelled in Cambodia as a lone female and yes a few years ago there were lots of jackings and bag snatching but this has become less and less. I travel at night on dirt bikes with drivers I do not know and never once felt threatened, actually the opposite they look after me and love that I will give it a go including riding through flooded streets with water up to our knees. On saying this though when I do go out at night I wear jeans and a t-shirt that covers my chest well and upper arms.

Don’t take the first price especially in the markets.

There are still land mines! Be careful where you go if you decide to walk off any well travelled track! It is thought there are still four and six million land mines not discovered and children and adults are still the victims even today of walking on a mine. Heavily mined areas include: Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Pursat and Kampong Thom provinces however they are everywhere even around Angkor Wat and so it’s best to stay on well-travelled paths and have a knowledgeable guide or driver.

I spend time meeting people and going to their homes etc to photograph them. I always take a gift and wrap it but never in white as this is the colour of mourning. Present the gift to the oldest person in the house and use both hands with a bow. They will never open them on receipt so don’t be offended. Remove your shoes, hat and sunglasses before entering the home and never sit directly on the ground – even on a shoe is better than the ground.

Refreshments are often offered and should always be accepted even if only a little is taken. If you are offered to sit on a mat on the floor tuck your legs and feet backwards and never sit cross legged or stretch your legs out in front.

A lunch date with a medicine man in a village required proper etiquette.

Never photograph in airports, around military installations and railway stations – this is forbidden! Jail in Cambodia is not nice and often a short stay can quickly become a long stay.

Discretion should be used when photographing all Cambodian people, especially monks, members of the police and army.

Some ceremonies are very private. Again permission is required.

Please note: I was not in a temple or pagado while taking this image.
Image by: Kelly McIlvenny's

Never enter a school, orphanage or any place children are without the appropriate invitation and permission. There are strict laws concerning contact with Cambodian children and imprisonment can and does happen for immoral behaviour.

Trafficking of children for prostitution is growing especially young girls and some orphanages and homes are not run by ‘respectable’ people. It is estimated that there are approximately 80,000–100,000 prostitutes in Cambodia and that 30% of these are under 18 years of age – this is growing. Be careful and mindful especially when photographing children and if seen touching them in any manner. Again, jail here is not nice!
Before I photographed at this school,
I gained the appropriate permission and was esorted by a teacher.

Please don’t be deterred. Cambodia is a country that is oozing with photography opportunities. Enjoy this amazing country with its ancient temples and warm and friendly people, it’s why I go back each year!