Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Vivian Maier goes live!

Last week the Vivian Maier website went live!
June 7, 1956, Chicago, IL

Many of you would be familiar with the story of Vivian Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009), ‘discovered’ by the purchase of a box of negatives at an auction by John Maloof.

Maier was no pro-photographer. Rather she was a nanny who led a simple life. On her days off she hit the streets capturing the people and spaces around her.

This is a remarkable story. Maier shooting with her box brownie and developing in her bathroom left over 100,000 negatives mostly shot in Chicago and New York City. Plus in her collection were numerous homemade films and recordings – what a wonderful view into American life during the early 1950's through to the mid 1990's.     

I certainly recommend checking out the new site:
Due for release soon is the film "Finding Vivian Maier" and book.

And if you are visiting London from the July 1st through the 24th then check out the exhibition during the London Street Photography Festival, as Maier’s work will be the event highlight.

For those interested in other photographer’s works, check out Bluedog Photography’s past newsletters which all feature a ‘Dedication to a Master of the Lens’. Past newsletters are archived here.

Monday, 11 April 2011

The Outback is Open!

By Danielle Lancaster

As we farewell our participants today by train and plane from our Bluedog Photography Outback Odyssey Tour and we settle into our last day in Longreach, we are hearing stories of places being closed such as Birdsville – our home for four days during this past week.

People are pulling us up saying ‘You were in Birdsville? We hear it’s closed.’ And it’s made us want to shout, come on out!

Spread the word the outback is open! Yes some roads are closed but use a map, ring around (yes mobile phone service is in most towns) and you will find they are ready and waiting to greet you, and greet you they will.

The rivers are falling, autumn wildflowers are blooming and this region has never in the memory for many who live here ever looked so good.

A rare single petal wildflower in bloom - simply striking!
Image by Danielle Lancaster

Emus are running with large broods of chicks, the Eagles are huge with bellies full, Brolgas dancing in mating and the Roos have their Joeys stretching their pouches – the sight which would make most human mother’s wince! Plains sweeping in grasses blowing gently in the wind slowly fatten cattle for your next year’s steak sandwich.

Yes there are a few flies (that’s the bush) however with such a good season the dust is settled and with rivers full, the fishing is great for those keen on dangling a line.

Yesterday in Middleton, my old friend Lester told me they may have to shut the doors. Shut the doors out here means walking away from everything you have worked you your whole life to create. This has been a favourite stopping place of mine for many, many years. “The bush is almost buggered,’ he confessed, ‘stories of floods, roads swept away, rising fuel costs and the high Aussie dollar means we see less passing our way”.

Lester tells a bush poem in the shade of the verandah at the Middleton Hotel
while we enjoy damper and syrup and a cup of tea.
Image by Danielle Lancaster

The outback needs visitors like you and I. It survives on us pulling into the little pubs and stores, buying a coldie, a glass of lemonade, an ice-cream or filling our tanks with fuel – it all counts to keeping their doors open.

What a pity it would be to see this old pub, the only building inhabited in the town, close its doors; it’s such a great stopping place for travellers taking the road between Winton and Boulia.

Need cash?
Image by Danielle Lancaster

So consider a trip into Queensland’s outback some time soon. Water is never an issue – remember there is the sub artesian basin which means you can always top up in every town and let’s all work in keeping our vibrant outback and its people there for future generations. You won’t regret the visit. Join us in revisiting our Outback friends in August this year on the next Outback Odyssey Tour – details can be found at:

And 2012 dates will be announced very soon!

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Photography Challenges for a Good Cause

By Danielle Lancaster

On our Bluedog Photography Outback Odyssey Tour we are having a little competition: the Pink Cap Comp.

As many of you already know, we here at Bluedog support many charities/causes such as cervical cancer in the South Pacific (the biggest killer of women in this region), the schooling of twin girls in Cambodia and others.

While we are on this tour we are raising funds for breast cancer. Each day a challenge is set for the best image and Bluedog Photography will be donating $5 daily to this worthy cause.

Our first day winner was Kathy with the challenge being set of an image of our tour vehicle, then it was birds and then an image of Jimmie and then........we’ll keep you posted on future winners. Winners are picked by the pink hat wearer of the challenge the day before, sometimes with a little help from friends. It was interesting to watch the locals come into the bar of the Birdsville Hotel last night eager to observe the judging of Jimmies’ image by Kathy and Jimmie himself last night. I doubt there have ever been so many laptops around the bar in Birdsville.

And of course the winner gets to wear to the pink cap for the day and he or she rules!

Best of luck for the remainder of the tour everyone and we look forward to more interesting and stunning images!

Cheers till tomorrow.
Image by Kathy
Pink Cap Challenge: Best image of tour vehicle

Image by Sue
Pink Cap Challenge: Best image of Jimmie

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Outback Characters

Characters of the outback provide plenty of photographic opportunities. These are the men and women who carve out a living in an often harsh and unforgiving environment.

They are ordinary people who do extraordinary things for their community and those that visit. They are happy to go unnoticed, as ‘that’s just what you do’. To them it’s no big deal.

Since my first visit to the outback many years ago now, I have been captivated by the people who live here. I love nothing better than sitting and listening to their stories of life on their land – one most Australians would never contemplate experiencing.

On our Bluedog Photography Outback Odyssey Tour I have had the privilege to catch up with a few I have met over the years and thought you may like to meet them.

Judy is the publican at Stonehenge (no we are not in the UK) and has been serving cold ales for over 20 years to the thirsty locals and travellers who walk through her bar door. It’s a little tiny pub set by the side of the road in a town of maybe three streets.

Grant does his bit while on tour to keep the doors open for Judy.
Image by Danielle Lancaster

In Windorah I caught up with another old friend Tar Pot – now here is a character. Tar Pot is usually not very welcoming to tourists. A retired stockman and drover who lives in a little humpy he’ll happily give you a wave as you drive past and mutter, ‘off you go.’

We sat and chatted in the shade of his hut laughing of old times. He was proud to announce he had not had a drink for three years and this is something, since he’d consume a 40oz bottle of rum each day for most of his life.

Tar Pot was a favourite character of my children also when they travelled with me through this region. They would sit on the red dirt by his feet waving away the black bush flies and listen intently to his yarns. I am sure he also taught them the odd swear word or two.

Those on tour with me thought this catch up special too. They loved his dry sense of humour and were delighted when he agreed to have his picture taken. ‘Better do it now before I change my mind,’ he said in a typical bush style – often when they hear the shutter click once they presume it’s all done. Luckily everyone snapped off a couple before he put up his hand after rolling another smoke and said ‘that’s enough’.

Tar Pot
Image by Danielle Lancaster

In Birdsville today I met up with Don and Lynn. My eldest boy was keen I see Don who he would have been happy to stay and live with given the chance. Don would take him on jaunts into the desert with his dog Cooper showing him things from Don’s Aboriginal ancestors not many others have seen.

Jimmie does not look like he’s aged a day. A full blood Aboriginal born on the banks of the Georgina River he’s a real character. He agreed to meet the group for a little portrait session today (in exchange for some folding stuff) and this provided great excitement.

Jimmie tells us a Dreamtime Story from a sand hill outside Birdsville.
Image by Anita Bromley

Photographing indigenous Australians and getting exposure right in camera means knowing your basics and knowing them well. We want to see the skin the correct tone, every pore, wrinkle which contribute to telling the characters story.

Jimmie loved the girls from the group!
Image by Danielle Lancaster

If they are wearing a hat then consider using fill in flash and even using the flash off camera – side lighting shows texture.

Talk to them! Engage conversation: they are not use to having a camera in front of their faces and therefore sometimes using a cable release allows you to have eye to eye contact and helps them relax. Be prepared that once you click the shutter once they will think it’s all over and sometimes it may be, so that first shot needs to be good.

Enjoy the experience – they are precious and sometimes once in a lifetime experiences.

Check out more of our outback characters on the Bluedog website:

For those interested we will be venturing into the outback again this year in August when the wildflowers will be blooming. Tour commences 14th August and there are still a couple of places left. 2012 will see us only doing one tour.

Till tomorrow!

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Does red mean outback?

By Danielle Lancaster

Picture in your mind the Queensland outback – what do you see? Most will visualise ochre tinged sand dunes, stockmen and a vast open landscape.

The outback we are visiting while on our Bluedog Photography Outback Odyssey Tour does have all of this and something different: water. Across the outback the channel country's claypans are brimming with water glistening in the sun. Autumn wildflowers add splashes of yellows, blues and mauves to the green and silver herbage which carpet the sand dunes. It is indeed spectacular.

Spirits are high and we are enjoying this once in a life time chance to see the country so good. As we progressed on our journey to Birdsville, our home for the next few days, we saw cattle being mustered by helicopter and pulled over to watch another mob being moved by stockman on horses with their dogs eagerly obeying every whistle from the men.

Birds are in abundance. Flocks of Wedge Tail Eagles, Kites, Budgerigars and Finches are just a few we see each day on our jaunts. This arvo we are off on another – out to a ruin for sunset and a night shoot. Till tomorrow when we’ll introduce you to a few of the characters we’ve met along the way.

A sunset shoot on the Bluedog Photography Outback Odyssey Tour