Sunday, 30 January 2011

Diffused lighting the way to go!

So many times when we are on a shoot we only shoot the images under the correct lighting circumstances – that’s the job. But how do others learn: simply through other photographers showing examples. 

Diffused lighting is the way to go with so many subjects, not only portraiture. Into it we can add fill light and this can be done through many ways. As American photographer Arnold Newman once said to me, “Light, what is it? Whatever we can get our @$##%^ hands on girl.”

The following two images demonstrate very nicely how diffuse lighting allows us to get the lighting right in-camera – a great mantra here at Bluedog Photography.

A single light source is harsh. It produces severe shadows and often blown out highlights, that even if you shooting in RAW, are unrecoverable. Diffuse lighting on the other hand is the opposite: shadows are softened, highlights are reduced therefore decreasing the stops between shadows and highlights and a more correctly exposed image in-camera.

Think of the sun as your light source. On a day where the sky is blue, the sun bright and no clouds your single light source is the sun producing that harsh lighting and all its ugly side effects as in image 1.

Think of a cloudy day, the sun obscured by a blanket of clouds and you have your light source diffused: the rays of the sun are spread though the clouds and shadows are softened and the stops between highlights and shadows reduced as in image 2.

This lighting effect is easy to recreate under any circumstance you may wish to photograph. We can use a myriad of options. In the images below it was created simply by holding a reflector (silver/white with the white towards the model) above the model to spread the light from the source, which was the sun.

It’s easier to see why it’s better. Better in camera means a better final image, less anguish to bring detail into highlights which even in RAW is often unachievable, and it means us refining our craft as photographers. Gotta love that!
Image 1:
The sun on a bright day is a harsh light source.

Image 2:
A completely different image once the light source if diffused!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Is the sun shining on Queensland?

Two weeks ago we had an interesting photography brief – ‘find out why people are still holidaying in Queensland with the news of floods. We want to hear from visitors how they are finding it, have they regrets and what is their message’.

We received this brief the day before the devastating floods surged through Toowoomba, flowed down the range to Grantham and through the Lockyer Valley to Ipswich and Queensland’s vibrant river side capital Brisbane.

Life, home and treasures were lost. The people of our home state here in Australia are reeling. With 75% of the state being effectively at some time over the past two weeks being inundated in metres of water no wonder it made international news.

Cold calling, as it’s known, is not easy. It’s walking into someone’s life, asking them to be photographed for the media and then capturing that image and walking on to find the next person to ‘fit the brief’.

There are different types of ‘cold calling’ you may be asked to do when working professionally – some not as nice as others. This was one of the nicer jobs.
What do we need do a job like this?

a). The gear: a good camera (DSLR of course), external flash and the ability to work the flash with natural daylight.

b). People skills! Yes the front to walk up to someone, introduce yourself and explain in less than 25 words what you are doing and why. After that they lose interest – you have to remember they have other things on their mind than you fulfilling your brief.This is one area many budding photographers find hard. What if they say no? Then oblige, thank them with a big smile and move on.

c). The ability to frame the shot and grab it first go.
These is not your average portrait session: they have to sell the story behind the image and the words which you may not see till in print. You need to be able to utilise colourful backgrounds if available, crop tightly if need be due to storm clouds brewing etc, use DOF creatively and know what should or should not be included.

We want to make sure these images are ready to go out of camera - time is of an essence for both us and Queensland, our so called client.

What we did find out is that Queensland is open for business! Our first port of call was the Gold Coast, undoubtedly one of Queensland’s tourism Mecca’s. And it appeared everyone was out having fun. 

L-R Noah, Ebonnie and Molly Simmons from Tamworth
“Loving the Gold Coast and the wet weather – what wet weather? We are having a fabulous time! Our advice is come on up and swim without goose bumps!”

Sunday, 9 January 2011

A man I met the other day....

Continuing her series on people who cross her path, Danielle Lancaster introduces us to another side of down town Honolulu.

‘If you’re interested in photography you may like this,’ he said handing me a plastic sleeve his veins bulging blue down his muscled arms. I removed the contents and a family, appearing rather solemn, stared back at me from the surface of a shiny tin photograph.
‘Is it for sale?’ I enquired holding it up to the light and inspecting its surface.

Image by Danielle Lancaster

Just give me one piece of paper, that will do’, he replied before ducking out the back and returning with an old video camera. One piece of paper I clarified meant a ten dollar bill and for that I also got the video camera (it accidently got left somewhere between there and my return home).

It was an unusual little shop, down a back lane, complete with resident cat. The counter was littered with tobacco from countless rollies being prepared, cans of glue and paint, a skull and all sorts of bits and pieces. Around every wall, on every surface the shop was jammed with weird, wonderful and bizarre paraphernalia.

Image by Danielle Lancaster 

He was just one of the characters I met this night. There was Darlene and her friends. Darlene lives on the street. I offered her some bandaids for her swollen and blistered feet – a new pair of 3” heels had not been kind to her on the street tonight. We chatted under the amber street lights till a drizzle of rain had us all scurrying for cover.

The tin type did make it home along with plenty of other images from a fantastic part of the world. All images taken on Nikon D3, 24-70mm 2.8 lens, ISO 10,000

A little about Tin type photographs
Also called ferrotypes and sometimes referred to as Melainotype, they were popular from the 1850s to the 1930s. They were generally thin and a silver-based positive image affixed to a painted metal plate (not tin). Popular name is tintype because the thin metal sheets were cut to shape with tin shears. Easy to make, and cheaper than glass they greatly reduced the cost of photography compared to using glass negatives.

The Tintype process was invented in 1852 by a Frenchman Adolphe Alexander Martin. The Melainotype process was developed in America in 1854 by Hamilton Smith, a chemistry professor at Kenyon college in Ohio and then sold the patent rights to Peter Neff Jr., one of Smith's students. They are monochrome, black and white or dark brown and white, though there may not be many true white areas left due to aging. 

Did you know
In the Hawaiian language, Honolulu means "sheltered bay" or "place of shelter". Honolulu has been the capital of the Hawaiian Islands since 1845 and gained historical recognition following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor near the city on December 7, 1941. It is also the birthplace of Barack Obama, the forty-fourth President of the United States.

Friday, 7 January 2011

5 top things to do in Queensland in flood

Across the world images and stories of Queenslander’s caught in a devastating crippling flood are inundating the news.

It is a time of severe hardship. The rippling effect of the floods are felt not only within a local community but regionally, state and nationally. People have been left homeless, crops destroyed, men and women without work. It has affected people’s personal lives and the verve of businesses. Business is what keeps the pulse beating. 

Queensland is a vibrant state. Growing and maturing gracefully, as the second largest state in Australia it plays a major role in agriculture, mining and industry in the international arena. However, one of Queensland’s greatest assets is tourism. Sunny beaches, wide sweeping bays, magenta sunsets, world heritage-listed national parks, fun and adventure (and the list goes on and on) beckon all ages, sexes and nationalities to Queensland’s shores.

So should the crisis affect tourism? Well, unfortunately it has. So we have had the thinking cap and here's our top 5 places to visit  – there’s heaps more of course!

1.       Mon Repos
It will simply take your breath away seeing an endangered loggerhead turtle hatchling break the sand and start its flap towards the sea – in fact it could be followed by up to 200 more siblings!

Mon Repos supports the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and is the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific Ocean region.

And the time to see them is now! From November to March, visitors to Mon Repos can witness one of nature's most fascinating spectacles—the annual pilgrimage of sea turtles. Each year, adult turtles come ashore to lay eggs on Mon Repos beach. About eight weeks later young sea turtles emerge from their eggs and race to the sea. The best time to see turtles laying eggs is after dark from mid November to February.

This is one of the best natural experiences I have encountered and that is saying something! It should suit all ages in your family or group and understanding the successful breeding going on here is so critical for the survival of this endangered species.

Top tip: Hop on over to Fraser Island – with a little dampness in the air the tracks are as smooth as..............

Loggerhead hatching at 1.00am on Mon Repos
Image by Danielle Lancaster (c)

2.       Stanthorpe Wineries
While talk of rains and floods threaten the home purse strings with rising fresh food costs there’s one thing in great supply – fine wine! Wine makers in the Stanthorpe region have their barrels full and better still the roads are open.

Vineyards, antique shops and characters beckon less than a two hour drive from Brisbane’s city centre. Expect the pace to be a little bit laid back if you are one of the city folk. Here the fires are flickering and there’s time to stop and smell the roses. In fact, the City of Roses Warwick, with its stately sandstone buildings, which you’ll pass through on your drive from Brisbane to Stanthorpe, has just a few added treasures to explore. Our top tip here is take the short drive to Rudds Pub.

Image by Danielle Lancaster

3.       Sunshine Coast
Only one hour's drive north of Brisbane and 5 kilometres from the Sunshine Coast Airport, Novotel Twin Waters is one of the best all round resorts for every budget and close to so many of the Sunshine Coasts unique attractions such as Australia Zoo, Underwater World, Eumundi markets and heritage-listed Fraser Island - the largest sand island in the world.

At the Novotel there’s more than 101 free activities, a top golf course, superb day spa, exclusive to Novotel Twin Waters Resort is Australia's first two wheel All Terrain Segway Xperience and even a cirque espace (that’s a circus school) so something to keep everyone in the family more than satisfied and you haven’t left the gates yet!

At Underwater World
Image by Danielle Lancaster
4.       Scenic Rim National Parks
While the rain may have scared some away nature lovers are loving it. Why? Rain means wildlife. In Queensland’s oldest national park and the third oldest in the world visitors and locals are being serenaded each night by a symphony of frogs.

There are tad poles everywhere. Red-eyed green tree frog and Orange Eyed Tree Frogs are breeding profusely so is reportedly the endangered Great barred frogs.

Check out the beautiful red and green King Parrots, the pastel blue and yellow Pale Headed Rosellas and the red and purple Eastern Rosellas still abundant in many of the parks and gardens on the mountain.

A top tip for visitors is the Tamborine Mountain Botanic Garden.

Image by Danielle Lancaster

King Parrot
Image by Danielle Lancaster
5.        Townsville and Magnetic Island
The changing weather conditions mean simply one thing – the chance of stunning sunsets and one of Queensland’s top spots for this is Magnetic Island a mere 8kms from Townsville, one of Queensland’s top cosmopolitan tropical cities.
Top things to do in Townsville are Reef HQ, the National Education Centre for the Great Barrier Reef, the Strand a first-class water front precinct, Flinders and Palmer Streets for dining, and Castle Hill for the best view. On Magnetic Island, affectionately called Maggie by the locals, don’t miss the bush tucker breakfast with the ‘locals’ at Bungalow Bay Koala Village, horse riding on the beach or sightseeing by mini moke. Whatever you do don’t pass up seeing a sunset from Picnic Bay.

Breakfast with the 'locals' on Magnetic Island
Image by Danielle Lancaster

Riding along the beach
Image by Danielle Lancaster