Sunday, 31 October 2010

They're off and racing!

Around Australia there will be a buzz tomorrow with the running of the Melbourne Cup, however in Melbourne and at the renowned Flemington Race Track that buzz will be a little louder as the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) celebrates the 150th running of the ‘race that stops a nation’.

From humble beginnings in 1861 the Melbourne Cup today draws international attention and is said to now be part of Australian culture. For those that are not making it to the main track there is plenty to keep shutter fingers happily snapping around the tracks.

Here’s a couple of horse racing photograph tips:
Positioning is important and of course you want to be as close to the action as you can. But don’t go climbing the rails or hanging over them.

Don’t forget the bookies....there can be a myriad of opportunities in the betting rings.

Never fire a flash towards the horses racing – it can spook them and Thoroughbreds are highly excitable!

Look down. It’s amazing the patterns and objects discarded on the ground that can make interesting images.
Turn your camera towards the crowd – there are some great reactions there to capture especially as the race ends.

Try keeping the sun to your back so the horses are nicely lit. Shooting into the sun is more likely to produce silhouettes.

If you can get near to the fence as the horses pass the finishing post you may capture some exciting finishes which always look better!

On the bend is another area that can provide fabulous photography opportunities. At this point the riders are spurring the horses on for the best position plus you can (depending on your position) have some tremendous lead in lines with the rails.

Starts are exciting photography opportunities – just give the horses room to move.
Let the best horse win!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Tonight in my Backyard: Ray Flash, Ringflash

Tonight in my backyard.....
The frogs are croaking loudly and what else is one to do, but have a little play.

I found this little fellow close to my back door and decided to put the Ray Flash through a few paces.

The Ray Flash ring adapter is a flash light modifier that turns your flash gun into a ring flash. Now, I have never been a fan of ring flash – yes it has its place in dental, medical and some fashion fields, however I have generally found the frontal lighting of ring flash to decrease texture of the subject.

And again I found this so tonight. The other glaring disadvantage of using ring flash is the reflection of the ring flash itself in the subject’s eye.

While the design of Ray Flash unit is quite complex, it does an impressive job of loosing just one stop of light – this can be seen either as a disadvantage or an advantage depending on the field you are working in. It acts merely as a reflector and changing the quality of light always comes at a price of light loss and reduced shooting range.

Some of the benefits of working with it included allowing me to get in close, between the fronds, so I was working the minimum focusing distance of the 105mm macro lens while no matter what, due to terrain I could not set up a flash/s to emit side lighting.

Another great benefit of being an adapter to a modern flash is to be able to work with TTL systems. As many other flash light modifiers, Ray Flash does not affect the TTL metering, so you can, if you prefer, enjoy the convenience of the modern technology of TTL. I prefer to do my flash work manually. Why in macro? For two reasons, I want my whites, white and my blacks black and by controlling my aperture I can also control how much of my subject is sharp plus the flash output.

Another advantage of the Ray Flash is it is colour neutral and does not change white balance.

The overall opinion: An exciting tool in budget. Great for creating a unique look specific to fashion photography, works great as a shadowless fill light in the same situation.

Still to be proved for macro images as the drop off for night photography is far too evident and frontal light continues to decrease texture and exaggerate highlights. If it’s not a main tool in your kit and just used to grab that moment, then maybe a worthy investment as cheap.

Did you know:
The ‘backyard’ to Bluedog studio is the oldest National Park in Queensland and the third oldest in the world! A unique environment indeed! To see more on what to do when visiting Tamborine Mountain visit:

Image by Danielle Lancaster (c) 2010

Monday, 18 October 2010

Images that inspire.

Sometimes images keep coming back into my head.
Some of them by other photographers and some of them actually mine.
Other photographer’s images inspire me. No matter if they are professional or amateur.
My own bring back memories and challenges I set myself.
Nick Brandt’s images do inspire me greatly and a book or print of his, is on my wish list this Christmas!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Tamrac's new camera bag!

Over the past few weeks I have been having a go at a new camera bag on the market and it’s impressive!

The bag being put through its paces here at Bluedog Photography is the Tamrac Evolution 8, Model 5788.

What I like:
After using it exclusively on our Fraser Island Photography Tour last week I liked how I could easily convert it from a back pack to sling shot or even wear it over one shoulder effortlessly and quickly. Fraser Island is all sand and happens to be the largest sand island in the world. Sand is a killer on photography gear and this bag allowed me to access my gear without putting the bag down.

It’s large enough to hold my Nikon D3, another lens or two, flash and accessories plus carry a computer which means it should be perfect for carryon luggage on planes.

It’s light and the adjustable wide straps are comfortable!

The padded top foam compartment is great – while travelling I can have personal gear in there and while working it can store my jacket, other accessories, food etc.

The tripod attachment keeps the tripod centered and balanced – important when out and moving about.

Two side pockets create extra storage and are the correct size for iPods and phones while one houses the removable rain cover.

What I don’t like:
Not much! I wish the inside was a lighter grey and closer to 18%.

What I’m interested to test:
How it goes in a crowded street – I like a pack I can wear on the front as well as on the back for the security of my gear.

Weight: 2165g
Internal Top: 25 x 15 x 19cm
Internal Bottom: 28 x 15 x 25cm
External Dimensions: 32 x 22 x 48cm
Colour: Black and Brown/Tan
RRP: AUS $169.00
Distributed in Australia by C. R. Kennedy & Company Pty Ltd
Phone: 61 3 9823 1555
Fax: 61 3 9827 7213
For more info:

Image by Kim Stevens (C)
Danielle with pack in use on the Fraser Island Bluedog Photography Kingfisher Bay Resort.

Tamrac’s new Evolution 8, Model 5788

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Rainy Days and Photography

Here in south-east Queensland, Australia it is grey, overcast and raining and has been for days.

While many think this is not a time to get the camera out think again! Rainy weather can provide some of the best conditions for exploring our creative side of photography.

Rain provides a myriad of opportunities. There are reflections, patterns, and even diffused lighting to be used. Surfaces glisten, contrast and saturation is increased when objects are wet.

And don’t forget as the rain disappears we are often treated to a stunning sunset and if the weather warms up the forest should produce plenty of fungi!

While working on a paper I would often consider the best way to shoot:
1. Use an umbrella and juggle camera, flash, tripod and umbrella
2. Or cover me and my gear – I found this the easiest.

So don’t let our dismal days dissuade you. Shelter can be found and images made.

Image by Danielle Lancaster (c)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Boots that last!

Since we gave them to her we have not been able to get them off her feet!
Read Sheryn’s Ecco Terra VG first report:
Images by Sheryn and Michael Ellis (C)

They arrived to me by default I must admit, as they were originally sent to Danielle to trial. In her own words, ‘for every negative there is a positive’, and this positive has been mine!

And they have not been off my feet! Never before have I had a pair of shoes that I can wear all day, every day - until now. I’ve already put them through a harsh outback trip, worn them non-stop for 3 months through water, mud and slosh and they now they are on my feet every day while I roam around Japan - yes it's typhoon season and I sure am getting a taste of it!

Some facts about these amazing shoes of 'mine': Released in April this year, this boot is made for those of us who like the outdoors and want a boot that will last. Made from a combination of yak leather, which is three times stronger than cow leather, and GORE-TEX, which provides waterproof protection, the ECCO Terra VG shoes are durable and ideal for any terrain.

So what are my top points on this new shoe? ECCO’s own full length Receptor® Technology system provides internal support and cushioning, ensuring toe to heel comfort with every step I take. The shoes are also light, flexible and breathable; must-have features for anyone looking for high-performance shoes especially in a variety of conditions. The sole of the ECCO Terra VG is direct-injected PU (Polyurethane), which permanently bonds the shoe’s midsole, outsole and upper together aiding in-shock absorbency, to protect the knees, hips and back – thanks ECCO!

At times, even after reading the extensive research that has gone into making these shoes, I forget why walking in them from the moment I awake to the time I pull them off at night is effortless. There is more than 40 years of ECCO working with some of the world’s leading biochemists to study the human foot. Advanced technology has created a shoe not only with ultimate comfort but unsurpassed performance.

How do I know this? Well my partner Michael bought a similar pair of boots, before our trip to outback Australia, from a regular brand name. We both strode through salt filled lakes, churned through mud and were at times ankle deep in water. On returning his are already showing fatigue around the seams, stitching is rotting in places broken and the soles are starting to separate. Mine are perfect and look the same as the day I pulled them out of the box.

No, I must admit, I am not sorry they did not fit Danielle as I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride and will report back to let you know how they stand up after another trip or two - yes I've already planned my next trip to the Cairns region in November. If I was a betting person I would definitely bet on their longevity – let’s say as a rough outdoors type I reckon I’ll get a good 10 years out them. Lets’ say I even buy a lotto ticket on it!

Well done ECCO!
RRP: $299.95 shoe; $329.95 boot. More:

Images by Sheryn and Michael Ellis (C)