Sunday, 30 December 2012

Forward and back

Guest blog by Kelly Morgan

This time of year we always find ourselves looking back at what was, and forward to what might be. For me, 2012 has been an interesting year – some ups, some downs – but when I think about most of the memorable, enjoyable and ah-huh moments they always seem to involve photography, and Danielle Lancaster.

Very early in the year I was frustrated with life and at a cross-road; at the moment I was discussing that with someone Danielle called out of the blue. Next thing I know I’m part of a photography exhibition!

That whole experience was great – learning a bit about curating and selecting images, getting them right to print well, and hanging them in a gallery. (Hanging my own photos in a gallery exhibition wasn’t even on my
bucket list!)

My husband and I both grew up on farms so heading bush to wide open spaces, peace and fresh air has always been an easy sell to us, but the trip to Cunnamulla was even better than expected. Hanging prints in a gallery was so much more fun than I thought it would be – no stress, but lots of laughs. It may have been a different experience in a fancy city gallery (I'm sure they don't usually allow wine to be imbibed while ladders are in use, even if the featured artist is afraid of heights). It was also wonderful and humbling to be welcomed by a great group of people, some who travelled a long way to be there for opening night.

There's something about people from the bush - they can spin a yarn better than anyone I've met in the city. And laugh - genuine laughter from the bottom of their belly. Some of these people were actually in Danielle's photos from many years before and I can see why she chose them as subjects for her portraits - it's something in the eyes.

While being part of that exhibition was something I’m really proud of and a great experience, it was also a big catalyst for everything that came after. I've been made to think about what I really enjoy doing and what's next (hard to top an unexpected exhibition!). I've focussed on writing and trying to publish my story about my time in Cambodia with Mr Douk. I don’t know if I would have pursued it at all if these things didn’t roll out the way they did.

After encouragement and constructive criticism from Danielle and the Bluedog team - I've also done two workshops this year - I’ve committed to focussing on photography and learning more, challenging myself to be better and do it at a level that deserves payment. An opportunity to be paid to play with a camera
seemed to come out of nowhere too! When a friend with a wedding photography business asked me to join the team I didn’t think I’d enjoy it, but it’s a real adrenalin rush and it makes me work harder to get better - I love it.

So this is a very long, round-about way of saying thank you to the top dog and Bluedog team – for the opportunity to learn more and be genuinely challenged, for pushing and encouraging me (and many others) to be brave enough to try harder and try something different, for sharing your knowledge and passion, and perhaps most importantly for your honesty.

That’s long and perhaps a bit gushy, but I wanted to say it, and before the end of 2012.

 Mr Douk formed the study for Kelly's photo essay 'Lessons from an armless man'

   Kelly, middle shooting during the Bluedog Photography Cambodia Tour
'The road ahead with no idea'by Kelly Morgan

Here's a link to an interview with Kelly Morgan on YouTube

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

An interview with Bluedog Tutor Lisa Kurtz

We continue with our questionnaire to team members in the Bluedog kennel. Today the lovely and talented Lisa Kurtz, based in Brisbane gives us her answers.  

Q. Tell us briefly your photography journey to date. 
A. Always into photography, but the turning point was when my husband gave me my first digital camera 11 years ago for a birthday present. It was the catalyst for a career and life change.

Q. What inspires you – photographically?
Italy has always been a source of inspiration and I imagine it will continue to be forever. On a personal level, it is the desire to photograph my son and his ever-developing spirit. 

Q. What is a highlight of 2012?

A. As corny as this sounds, becoming part of the Bluedog team and beginning my personal project on the anonymity of the streets (b&w). 

Q. Do you have a ‘most memorable’ moment to date?
Yes – through a series of unfortunate events my camera and I were separated from each other during a recent trip to Sydney. I was forced to use a 3-megapixel phone camera (no, not even an iphone camera) and this taught me two things – if you take photography back to its basics you can even take decent photos on a 3-megapixel camera, and that not having my “real” camera made me free to experiment and take risks… in short, it was a wonderful experience!

Q. What lens can’t you live without?
24-70 2.8 – wide enough for travel, and because I use my feet it is also perfect for my style of portraiture. I know it was only meant to be 1 lens, but I would try and sneak my 50mm 1.8 in as well for those low light situations.

Q.  What is your favourite type of shoot (and why)?
Children. They test your photographic limits every time as, by their very nature, they never do what you expect them to!

Q.  What do you do in your spare time?
I go to art galleries, I take photos of my family and friends, I talk regularly with my mother and grandmother who live interstate.

Q.   What's your best 2012 photography advice or quick tip?
Travel light with the least possible gear. You really don’t need it all! (But if you travel light, make sure it’s with fast lenses…)

Q. What are your plans or highlights for 2013?
 I am going on the Bluedog Japan tour and I know already this will be wonderful. Of course, I am also off to Italy which is always a highlight.

For more information on Bluedog's workshops, retreat and tours visit: 

A few of us will be joining Lisa on her Capture Italy tour in May 2014.

For more information visit Capture Italy

All images (C) Lisa Kurtz

Thursday, 20 December 2012

An interview with Bluedog Tutor and Photographer Sheryn Ellis

And we continue questioning of our tutors, this time Sheryn Ellis based on the Gold Coast who also runs Live in Love Photography a successful portrait photography business. She's a quiet achiever; every day she shoots something and makes a great image; she's a one click at a time girl; always trying out new things.

Q. Tell us briefly your photography journey to date.
A. I've loved photography for as long as I can remember. I'd sit and look through books and photo albums for hours - I still do. I didn't start to learn photography until I was about 19 when I got my hands on a Canon SLR film camera and just started shooting anything and everything around me. Having 3 children under 3 gave me endless photography opportunities and I quickly discovered I loved portraiture above all else. I continued to learn and 'play' during my 8 years as a stay-at-home-mum and when my youngest went to school I went into  photography full time, working for Bluedog and building my own portraiture business on the side. I never thought I would be any good at teaching, let alone enjoy (love) it like I do and I never tire of the 'lightbulb' moments I am able to share with people.

Q. What inspires you photographically?
A. Too many photographers to name them all however my top 2 would be; Annie Leibovitz, an amazing woman who has achieved so much and her portraiture is both raw and captivating; and Dorothea Lange who's images I can look at day after day and still feel the same as I did the first time I saw them.  My mum inspires me to be all that I want to be in life and it is wonderful to have that constant support and push to achieve what I want to do.

Q. What is a highlight of 2012?
A. There are many. Photographically it would be the purchase of my new camera with the 100mm macro lens which happened in August - it was a huge purchase and not one made lightly. Also two trips this year stand out as having impact on my life; Cambodia in June/July and a holiday with a best friend and all our children in September. I love to be around my friends and family as much as possible, they are who keep me going as I juggle my crazy busy life.

Q. Do you have a ‘most memorable’ moment to date?
A. No, I have many moments that have shaped who I am and that stand out as moments never to be forgotten or changed. The most memorable moments always happen when you least expect them.

Q. What lens can’t you live without?
A. At the moment I can't live without my 100mm 2.8L Macro - I use it for everything!

Q. What is your favourite type of shoot and why?
A. I love photographing children above all else, I love to capture their funny faces, their serious faces, their laughing faces, their hands, their toes and everything about them. I believe today is the best day to capture that expression, that chipped tooth, that black eye, that first lost tooth, that first broken bone - they don't have to be all dressed up and on their best behaviour, children are children and we should capture every possible moment of their lives.

Q. What do you do in your spare time?
A. What spare time? I love to pick up the camera and shoot random life moments, I love to hang out with my family and friends, I love to read and on a rainy day there is nothing better than a good movie and a glass of red!

Q. Your best photography advice or quick tip?
A. Never stop learning. Pick up your camera every day if you can and shoot the most boring item in your house and make it look interesting. Learn my mantra; f8 is great :) 

Q. Plans/highlights for 2013?
A. My biggest plan for 2013 is to not have a plan. I have so many ideas on who I want to photograph and how and a list of places I want to visit so I've written them all in a book and intend on ticking off as many as possible - 2013 will be great (say and believe it)!

For more information on Bluedog's workshops, retreat and tours visit:

For more information on Sheryn please visit Live in Love Photography 

Sheryn playing with some time lapse this year.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

An interview with Bluedog 'apprentice' Caitlin Allen

Caitlin has been hanging around here at the Bluedog Photography studio for over 18 months now and her motivation and young energy is loved by us all. We invited her to answer this year's tutors and photographers questions.

Q. Tell us briefly your photography journey to date.
A. I am 16 and have only been interested in photography for a few years now. It wasn’t until I found Bluedog photography during work experience in 2011 that I decided photography was what I really enjoyed doing. From there I have continued working at the Bluedog Studio, receiving lots of tuition, helpful tips and advice. I have participated in many workshops and also attended the Fraser Island Tour which really opened my eyes as to what I might be able to do as a photographer if it becomes my career path.

Q. What inspires you – photographically?
A. As a kid I was always amazed at the images and moments captured within a photograph, whether it was a documentary on the Discovery channel or in a national geographic magazine. They portrayed a totally different perspective of life through the photos and that was really inspiring for me!

Q. What is a highlight of 2012?
A. Gaining membership into Griffith University for a photography course!

Q. Do you have a ‘most memorable’ moment to date?
A. A memorable moment for me would have to be my trip to Fraser Island with Bluedog.  It was also my 15th birthday. It was a great experience, a great holiday and I learnt so much!

Q. What lens can’t you live without?
A. My EFS 15 – 85mm Zoom Lens, it is my favourite lens as it has the ability to photograph anything from landscapes to close-up portraits.

Q. What is your favourite type of shoot (and why)?
A. At the moment my favourite type of shoot is wildlife, I love capturing a moment through the animals eyes and portraying them as characters through their expressions.

Q. What do you do in your spare time?
A. In my spare time I find anything I can in my room and photograph it using my macro lens, I love to experiment with lighting and WB.

Q. What's your best 2012 photography advice or quick tip?
A. Practice makes perfect! Picking up the camera everyday to photograph anything can make a big difference, there are always new things to try and learn!

Q. What are your plans or highlights for 2013?
A. My plans for 2013 are to study photography at Griffith University and hopefully learn a lot of important skills and techniques. I am also really hoping to get a place in the Cambodia tour next year with Bluedog!!

Images taken by Caitlin during 2012:

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Photographers fun raises funds in Birdsville

In late October an intrepid group of 11 photographers met at the Birdsville Hotel after a jaunt out into the Simpson for sunset. After a round of drinks they launched into an auction for the RFDS and raised an incredible $1,200.00.

The group were on an Outback Odyssey Photography Tour led by Alan Smith of Outback Aussie Tours and Danielle Lancaster from Bluedog Photography. Items for sale included a signed print from Birdsville artist Wolfgang John, limited edition signs, a recipe book and bottle of liquor from the Mackay region and a copy of Danielle's Out Around the Bullo book and prints from the Birdsville region.

'What a great effort, it really blew me away,' said Alan Smith who shared the auctioneering with Russell Jordan a participant of the tour. 'We launched the Outback Desert Odyssey Tour last year and it is now one of our signature events as those who join us not only see the amazing landscape but experience meeting the people who have become friends of Danielle's through her long association with the region. It's more than a usual tour'. 

The auction followed some fun and frivolity for the tours outback sunset shoot where many dressed up in theme for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert which was first released to in 1994. And yes all did go into the bar for a drink in full dress. What a great way to have fun and raise funds for such a worthy cause. Again a huge thank you to all involved.
For more information please visit
Bluedog Photography at Aussie Tours at

Far from  a requirement on tour, a few merry travellers had fun playing up to a
'Priscilla Queen of the Desert' re-enactment.

 From L:R: Owen, Danielle and Anita during the Outback Desert Odyssey Tour in 2012.

Bluedog Photographys 2013 Outback Desert Odyssey Tour is set for April!
For more info email us at or visit:

Sunday, 9 December 2012

An interview with Bluedog Tutor and Photographer Anita Bromley

And another of our Bluedog Photography tutor interviews this time from Anita Bromley who toady is jet setting off to the UK for Christmas.

Q. Tell us briefly your photography journey to date.
A. My interest in photography grew after my first son was born in 2003 and I found myself at a Bluedog Beginners Workshop wanting to learn how to control my camera more. From there I did numerous Bluedog workshops and continued to learn and love photography. In 2010 I launched my business 'Splash Photography' where I specialise in portraits, newborns and corporate events. Quite ironic seeing I once used to say 'I don't do (photograph) people' !

Q. What inspires you – photographically?
A. I love long exposures, night photography and light painting - capturing things you don't see with the naked eye. Photographer Lance Keimig inspires me to get out, be creative and play.

Q. What is a highlight of 2012?
A. Introducing my husband Grant to Siem Reap, Cambodia - the place and it's people along with rediscovering my love for Outback Qld on Bluedog's Outback Odyssey tour this year. Such an amazing place we have just in our backyard.

Q. Do you have a ‘most memorable’ moment to date?
A. Considering I've sat here for the past 10min trying to think of just ONE I would have to say there are too many to have any one in particular in the 'most memorable' category!

Q. What lens can’t you live without?
A. 24-70mm f2.8. It's my 'go to' lens.

Q.  What is your favourite type of shoot (and why)?
A. Newborns, newborns, newborns! I love the smallness of them, their smell, their teeny little toes, fingers, ears, nose & lips. I love how in that very moment they have their whole wide world in front of them. That they will grow and change so quickly, each day, week, month, year......... I love how they give parents a new perspective on life.

Image by Anita Bromley

Q.  What do you do in your spare time?
A. Spare time.....that sounds familar?? Lol. Whenever I get any spare time the only thing I want to do is hang out with my 3 boys (husband + 2 sons) and my friends.

Q.   What's your best 2012 photography advice or quick tip?
A. Think about what you want to capture before you click the shutter. Image the outcome and think about the settings you need to achieve it.

Q. What are your plans or highlights for 2013?
A. I have so many plans for 2013! Revisiting the outback and Cambodia (I've fallen in love with both), putting the final touches on my Studio in early Jan, continuing to learn and push myself photographically, to start a few personal photographic projects, to find and connect with photographers who inspire me, to watch my husband realise a long term dream and finally (and not least) to spend more quality time with my family. *Phew!* See why that spare time thing is so foreign to me ;)

For more information on Bluedog's workshops, retreat and tours visit:

Images by Anita Bromley

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Photography Tips fo Germinid Meteor Shower

By Kelsey Brown
The final meteor shower for the year is almost upon us and for photographers this may be the best show all year. And why is that I hear you asking?

This year's Germinid meteor shower coincides with the new moon giving us nice dark skies in which to view and photograph the meteor shower. The meteors in this shower radiate from the Gemini constellation which in the summer months, for southern hemisphere viewers, can be found in the north eastern night sky. Meteors from this shower may be seen in the sky from as early as the 7th December and as late as the 17th December with the height of the shower being visible from late evening on the 13th December through the night.

What makes this meteor shower a great one to photograph is that the meteors are moving at a speed of 35km/second (a moderate speed for a meteor) and that as these meteors burn up in our atmosphere white, yellow, green, blue and red colour trails can be seen. At the height of the meteor shower it is predicted that we may be able to see up to 60 meteors per hour. So how as photographers do we capture this event?

There are a number of ways to capture stars in the night skies. I am a fan of long exposures so I would be aiming to do either long exposure star trails or use the star stacking method to create an image. This way I have a greater chance of capturing a meteor in my exposure and if I am lucky I may even get more than one meteor in an image.

My quick tips would be:
    Try and get away from bright light sources if possible.
     Use a tripod for long exposures.
     Pick your widest lens to get as much of the sky in and increase your chance of capturing a meteor.
      A cable release so you can set your camera up, open the shutter and then sit back and enjoy the show.
       Make sure your batteries are fully charged as it would be awful to run out just as the show is heating up.
      Bring a friend or fellow photographer as there is always safety in numbers.

The Sir Thomas Brisbane Planetarium at Mt Cootha in Brisbane is the most reliable local source of up to date information on the event for viewers in this part of the world. All you have to do is Like their Facebook page for more information.

Good luck and happy photographing to anyone heading out to try and capture this event we look forward to seeing any images on the Facebook page.

Kelsey Brown is an assistant tutor with Bluedog Photography.
Photography Workshops, Retreats and Ttours.