Projects Retrospective - The Last 6 Months

 

Recently my work has been extremely varied and while I’ve read a lot about how photographers really need to specialise in a particular style if they are going to make it as a business, I personally like the challenge and creativity that comes with trying a little bit of everything :)

My first love in photography will always be nature and landscapes as you have no doubt guessed from the posts on my social media feeds, however as a business I try to cater to a number of different styles to suit the needs of my clients.

The images below are a selection from my favourite projects that took place over the last 6 months.

Yeppoon Lagoon

This new waterpark has become the Number 1 destination for families on the Capricorn Coast this Summer. Due to the number of stakeholders involved in completing this project, I have had numerous requests for images of this location ranging from aerial, landscape and fixture details. It’s always a good day when you get to spend it photographing for clients down at the coast.

 

Capricorn Food and Wine Festival

Last year’s Capricorn Food and Wine Festival was the best I’ve seen and the new location on Rockhampton’s upgraded riverbank precinct was the perfect place to host our premiere foodie event. This was my first time photographing it and while I’m not normally the first to put my hand up to shoot an event, this was definitely a great experience. It was also a big help that we actually had dedicated models to follow around so we weren’t distracting anyone from their glasses of merlot :)

 

Blackwater Mine Sites

Having never been on a mine site before, the two seperate visits I’ve had to the Blackwater and Jellinbah coal mines were quite an eye opening experience. The size of the equipment there is mind blowing. Especially when you’re standing beside a rig where just the tyre is twice your height! I really enjoyed my time on both sites shooting for Central Highlands Development Corporation and Hitachi.

 

Blackdown Tableland National Park

I always love shooting in National Parks and Blackdown Tableland is no exception. This project was commissioned by the Central Highlands Development Corporation for their new tourism brochure and marketing materials. The entire project encompassed a number of areas in the Central Highlands but the Blackdown part of the shoot was one of my favourites. We had a beautiful young family as our models for the day and despite some recent fire damage and overcast weather, we managed to come away with some great images.

 

Portraits

I really appreciate great portrait images. While in the past I have shot the occasional formal or studio portrait, I am looking to do a lot more in this space over the next 12 months to develop my skills and take on more shoots. I even recently shot a wedding (something I swore I would never do), and I have another booked for September! My portrait work in recent weeks has been with some of the lovely models from local modelling agency, Elite Avenue.

 

Rockhampton Riverbank

Last but not least on my favourites list from the last 6 months is the Rockhampton Riverside Precinct. I have shot there a number of times recently, both personally and professionally. The last commissioned shots were for Woollam Constructions who were looking to capture their completed work on the redevelopment. As you saw earlier with the images from the Capricorn Food and Wine Festival, it is the perfect location to hold events, spend time with family or grab a bite to eat.

 

Tips for Photographing Waterfalls

 

I think I may have briefly covered this in a previous post but after recently shooting some waterfalls I figured it would probably be helpful to write about this topic in more detail.

Waterfalls and their surrounding forests are always a magnet for photographers of any skill level due to their serene nature, flowing water, beautiful green hues and glistening rocks. While these amazing locations look beautiful at any time of the day, photographing them can be a little tricky. Fortunately these issues can be overcome with a few easy steps.

As I mentioned above, I recently visited some falls in the Marysville region of Victoria. Being unfamiliar with the area and not knowing exactly what to expect, I arrived at the falls relatively early in the morning to allow time to explore. After a 1km hike through some semi-dense forest I came to the base of the falls. It was a beautiful sight. There was just one problem….The sun was shining down over the falls creating deep shadows and very bight highlights. Whilst these conditions don’t rule out shooting all together, they certainly can make capturing everything in one shot extremely difficult.

Just like any photographer, I love capturing that silky smooth long exposure effect on water. Our problem here though is that the dynamic range in this scene is far to great to capture in one shot without some minor tradeoffs. Yes we can bracket our images at varying exposures and blend them using Photoshop, but the end result can sometimes look a little unnatural. On this occasion I decided to try out a few compositions regardless of the conditions. I had taken the time to walk here, I might as well see what I can capture. 

To try and combat the harsh sunlight around the top of my frame I added a graduated neutral density filter to darken the upper third of the image. Whilst that helped a little it doesn’t give the long exposure effect on the water. To achieve that, I also added a 6 stop neutral density filter to darken the overall scene and allow me to lengthen my shutter speed. Finally, to cut through the glare on the water and rocks I used a circular polariser.

To best capture a scene like this in one shot, I always expose for the highlights. You can always boost the dark shadows in your images to even out your exposure, but you will never be able to recover blown out highlights. How much detail you can bring back in your shadow areas will be determined by your camera and it sensor. For this shot I was using my old Nikon D800 which retains pretty good shadow details so I knew I would be able to bring back the dark areas with only small amounts of noise.

This is the RAW file straight out of camera

This is the RAW file straight out of camera

ISO 100 | f/11 | 35mm | 1 sec - Edited and colour corrected in Lightroom

ISO 100 | f/11 | 35mm | 1 sec - Edited and colour corrected in Lightroom

Using these techniques I was able to capture the above image. I have included both the RAW file and the Lightroom edited version so that you can see the differences. Whist it is a true representation of the scene as it was, it is definitely not as pleasing to the eyes as what would be possible without the harsh sunlight. The result is a washed out and overly contrasty image. The easiest solution to this problem is to remove the harsh sunlight. To do this you can either pick an overcast day to come back and shoot, or in my case I noticed that the falls were situated in a valley surrounded by tall trees. All I would have to do is wait until later in the afternoon when the sun had set low enough that the hills and trees were blocking the light, bringing the entire location into shadow. 

Now that our light is completely flat, there are no bright highlights or deep shadows. This removes the need for the graduated ND filter and (depending on how dark it is) the 6 stop ND filter. One tool that I always retain though for shooting waterfalls is the circular polariser.  Despite the lack of sunlight, there is still reflection/glare on the water and rocks and cutting through that will not only improve your image but it will boost your colour and contrast. For this shot I still expose for the highlights however it is much easier to achieve a well balanced exposure due to the flat light.

The below image is from the afternoon shoot. The results are 100% better in my opinion. You can fully appreciate the colours and your eyes are not distracted by the overly bright highlights. I realise that in some situations it is not always possible to wait for a rainy day or come back at sunset. There have been many occasions where I just had to make do with the conditions available as that was the only time I had in that location. If however you have the luxury of time, I would definitely recommend visiting a location initially to scope out the area and compositions, then return when the light is right. It makes our job as photographers so much easier and it can take our images to the next level.

Summarised Tips

  • Shooting in flat, even light will always yield the best results
  • Always use a polariser
  • Graduated and regular ND filters can help control uneven lighting situations
  • Expose for the highlights
  • Always shoot in RAW to give you more editing power in Lightroom when it comes to boosting shadows and reducing highlights
  • Check out your shooting location ahead of time to work out where the light falls and the best time of day to shoot. 
ISO 100 | f/16 | 24mm | 0.4 sec

ISO 100 | f/16 | 24mm | 0.4 sec

 

2017 Projects In Review

 

I realise that 2017 isn't quite over yet but I'm normally not very organised when it comes to writing blog posts so I figured I'd get on top of this while I think of it :)

Photography for me is a dream job and it is a profession that I hope to have the privilege of continuing in for a long time. Since taking my photography business full-time this year, I have had some fantastic clients and worked on a variety of projects ranging from aerial photography and video, 360 VR tours, event coverage, workshops, landscape prints, client Google Street View updates, portraits, formals, real estate photography and a few others.

One project in particular though stood out as the most enjoyable, the most challenging and the most rewarding. This job was shooting new destination and tourism images for the Southern Great Barrier Reef (SGBR) region. SGBR is the combined regions of Capricorn (Rockhampton/Yeppoon), Gladstone and Bundaberg.

Despite some monsoonal weather and a few other hinderances, I feel that I came away with some great images that will hopefully get put to good use in marketing these three amazing regions.

While most of you probably follow this page for my landscape photography... commercial photography actually makes up approximately 90% of my business. To give you a little taste of my work in this space, I have included a few of my favourite images from the recent SGBR tourism project.

Comments and shares are very much appreciated.

 

The Importance of Photographic Prints

 

The majority of us view images these days on our computers and phones, but it is becoming increasingly rare to actually view a physical copy of that image in person. 

While I love admiring landscape and travel photographs posted to Facebook and Instagram, the experience can't compare to viewing an image in print. Especially when it's a large print.

GalleryProof.jpg

There is something about seeing a physical representation of an image, the texture of the paper and the depth of colour that adds a completely new dimension. Even if you have seen the photograph before online, I find that its almost like seeing the image again for the first time.

Late last year I visited world renowned Australian photographer, Ken Duncan's gallery in Erina Heights, New South Wales. This was a revelation to me. I, like most people don't often have my work printed. Yes I have a couple of images hanging on my walls at home that I love, but the majority of my work can only be seen online.

Walking into Ken's gallery opened my eyes and gave life to a new inspiration and desire for photography that I had never felt before. It brought about the realisation that printing completes the cycle - From the eye of the photographer and the process to capture the image, to the digital post processing and finally the printing to create a piece of art. 

60x40 Canvas

60x40 Canvas

In our digital society, photographs are shared/consumed online and within 24 hours they're gone. Printing your photography gives your images a life of their own. They no longer have an expiration date. For all the work that goes into making an image, it's a shame that after the initial post to social media, they then sit on our hard drives, never to be seen by anyone else again.

If you are a photographer, whether as a hobbyist, enthusiast or professional - you need to experience your own work in print.

While I know that 85-90% of my work will continue to be in a digital format, I don't think it will ever compare to the addictive rush of seeing a completed large scale print. 

To finish off, check out this great video from one of my YouTube favs Peter McKinnon on why you need to be printing your photos.

If you are tired of looking at that empty wall in your home or the office, please consider browsing my galleries for the perfect image to complement your space. My work comes in a variety of sizes and mediums ranging from canvas, metal and standard fine art prints.  

 

Photography Channels to Follow on YouTube

 

The internet is a gold mine for photography related information as we all know. But the one place that I look to more than any other for photography related inspiration, motivation and information is YouTube. For those of you that may not be aware, YouTube is the second largest search engine on the internet behind Google, processing more than 3 billion searches a month.

Approximately 100 hours of video are uploaded to the platform every minute, and while that provides us with a variety of options when it comes to finding content, it also means that there can be a lot of noise to wade through to find what you are looking for. 

To save time for those of you that are only new to photography, I thought I would put together a top 5 list of my favourite YouTube channels to follow.

Thomas Heaton

Thomas is a landscape photographer from the UK that posts a weekly video blog (VLOG) of his photography adventures. His videos are very informative and entertaining, covering a variety of topics and landscape related situations. I came across his channel about 18 months ago and it is by far my favourite on YouTube. 

The Camera Store TV

Whenever I am looking for info and reviews on the latest gear, I always jump over to The Camera Store TV. They are as their name implies, a camera store...however, via their YouTube channel they offer informative and unbiased reviews along with hands on field tests and previews. 

Michael Shainblum

If you are looking for inspiration, you can't go past Michael's 4K time-lapse and aerial films. The imagery and details that he captures are mind-blowing and they are always combined with an awesome audio track. His films are very immersive and it is easy to become completely oblivious to the outside world while watching them. His channel also has some great tutorials on Photoshop and Astrophotography.

Ben Horne

Ben is a large format wilderness photographer that predominantly shoots all of his images on 8x10 film. His images are simply stunning and after you watch some of his VLOGs and see the process involved in capturing his images, you will come away with a true appreciation for the quality of his work. On his website Ben mentions that he absolutely loves working with large format film because of the inherent limitation, and the strong sense of discipline that is required. 

Fstoppers

Fstoppers is a community of photographers, videographers, and other creative professionals focused on sharing reviews, photo tricks and tips, tutorials, and news. If there is a topic that they haven't covered on their channel, then it probably isn't worth knowing about. I started watching their videos right back when I first got into photography and they consistently produce really informative content, albeit sometimes with hilarious results. By far my favourite series they have posted is the 'Photographing the World' behind the scenes episodes with Elia Locardi. Check it out below.