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.  

 

Behind the Image - Infinity Pool

Location

This shot was captured along the banks of Lake Bonney in South Australia's Riverlands. Lake Bonney is well known throughout photography circles for its large, dead trees that line the shores. The trees ooze character and are the perfect subjects during a sunset or against a starry night sky.

Time

This image was taken after sunset. All of the bright light had gone and what remained was the beautiful pastel colours that often follow a sunset when cloud cover is minimal.

Quality of Light

I must admit that on this particular afternoon I was a little underwhelmed by what was going on in the sky. I can be a little bit of a 'cloud snob' sometimes and I had decided that I wasn't going to go and shoot because the sky looked boring. Fortunately for me, my wife is a great motivator. She insisted that I go out anyway and use it as an opportunity to get creative. So that's exactly what I did.

Equipment

I used a Nikon D800 with the Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED lens. On the lens I used a Nisi 3-Stop Soft Graduated ND filter and a CPL (circular polarising filter) with the Nisi V5 100mm Filter Holder. 

Inspiration & Process

Prior to leaving on our 6 month trip, I picked up a great pair of (for lack of a better description) gum boots. They weren't your typical gum boots as they were made from a wetsuit material and had a fantastic grip on the soles. Anyway, I thought that this would be a great opportunity to try them out. My idea was that if I waded out into the water away from the shallow bank, it would allow me to get closer to the trees and have them fill the frame in my shot.

The boots worked perfectly until I felt my toes starting to get wet and I realised that I had gone out a little too deep. This wouldn't have been such a problem if not for the fact that this was the middle of winter and the water was freezing :) After trying a couple of different compositions with the trees in the immediate vicinity, I decided that simplicity was the best way to go and I targeted just one tree. This tree's shape was perfect and when viewed with its reflection, created a great composition.

I knew that to get an almost mirror image at the bottom I would need to slow my shutter speed to take the ripples out of the water. My exposure couldn't be too long though because it would smudge the reflection. The other trick was to stand perfectly still in the water to minimise water movement. After experimenting with the shutter speed, I decided that an exposure of 1.6 seconds gave me the look I was after.

Lens Filters & Editing

For this image I used a 3-stop graduated ND filter by Nisi. The graduated ND filter darkened my sky slightly, while allowing me to extend my shutter speed. This gave me a nice, even exposure at the top and bottom of the image. I also used a Nisi CPL (circular polarising filter) to adjust the shot to get just the right amount of reflection. 

By using a graduated filter it meant that I didn't have to bracket my exposures and I was able to capture the scene in just one shot. All basic editing was done inside of Adobe Lightroom with final colour adjustments made in Color Efex Pro 2. 

Tips for Capturing a Similar Shot

My advice would be - don't limit yourself to only shooting when conditions are favourable and the skies look dramatic. The truth is that 80-90% of the time, the sky can look quite uninspiring and conditions are often unfavourable. If we only went shooting during these small windows of opportunity, we wouldn't be taking all that many pictures. The trick is to be creative with what you have to work with. 

Unfortunately I am really bad at following my own advice. For me I find that it helps to go shooting with a friend. A fellow photographer can help keep you motivated when nature isn't co-operating. Especially when you have to get up for sunrise and you don't feel like getting out of bed! 

Behind the Image - Duality

 

Behind the Image is a new blog series detailing my favourite shots and how they were captured. Through this series I hope to discuss the processes that I go through behind the scenes to make an image. Topics will range from what settings and gear were used, to how I approach a scene and what led me to capture that particular composition.

Nikon D800 | ISO 100 | f/10 | 17mm | 6 sec

Nikon D800 | ISO 100 | f/10 | 17mm | 6 sec

Location

I took this shot at one of my favourite locations in my home town. A place called Hedlow Creek. I live in a regional town in Queensland, Australia and this location is only about 20 mins from my house. What draws me to this area is the wide open spaces and the fact that you can spend hours here and not see another person. It's the perfect spot to unwind in nature.

Time 

This was taken around 5:30am, just before the sun met the horizon. 

Lighting 

When I'm shooting at sunrise or sunset I always look for clouds to help add drama and interest/colour to the sky. The great thing about shooting just before dawn is that even when there are no clouds, you can get amazing colour gradients in the sky. This type of light was perfect for this scene as it worked really well with the reflections in the water. Clouds in the sky would have made the image too busy and removed the overall simplicity of the composition. 

Equipment

I used a Nikon D800 with the NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lens and a Benro Travel Angel II Tripod.

Inspiration 

When I approached this scene, I was standing on a wooden platform just above the water. The first aspect I noticed straight away was the stillness of the water which created a perfect mirror image of the sky and tree line. The other was the thin layer of fog forming across the water. I decided that the perfect way to capture this scene would be to keep my composition as symmetrical as possible and place the horizon line almost in the middle so that the standout feature of the shot would be the reflections. An easy way to line up shots perfectly on the back of your camera is to use the Live View on your LCD screen and turn on the Grid view.

Lens Filters & Editing 

The 14-24mm lens that I used for this image is not compatible with any lens filters I own. It requires the use of a custom filter holder (which I don't have), so in the absence of a graduated neutral density filter, I bracketed my exposures. There wasn't much dynamic range in the scene but I wanted to make sure that I had enough detail in the shadows and colour in the foreground. I ended up using 2 of the exposures from the bracketed shots which I initially made adjustments to in Lightroom and blended them together in Photoshop using layer masks. Once I had combined the exposures, I made final colour adjustments in Color Efex Pro 2 from the Nik Collection by Google. 

FYI - All the Nik Plugins are FREE. They are fantastic tools and I use them all the time. Check them out here - www.google.com/nikcollection

Tips for Capturing a Similar Shot

My advice would be...make sure you have a steady tripod and a wide lens. You would also need to have similar weather conditions to get a shot with mirrored reflections. The water will need to be completely still as ripples will ruin the reflection effect. You could smooth out the water with a longer exposure however this will also remove the mirrored image of your subject. You may also want to use either a Graduated ND filter or bracket your exposures, depending on the dynamic range. 

 

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.

 

Top Locations From Our 6 Month Roadtrip

 

So as you may have guessed from my Facebook posts, we have returned home from our big adventure, albeit a little early. The plan was originally 6 months however as the mercury was starting to rise and the roads were getting busier, we decided that it was time to return home. Not that we had stopped enjoying ourselves….far from it (who wouldn't enjoy traveling around the country for 5 months) but we missed our family and once you start heading in that homeward direction, it’s hard to step on the brakes.

Regardless of the early return, we could not have asked for a better trip. We truly do live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I always knew we had some amazing natural wonders here, but you can never truly appreciate how amazing until you visit them. There are other great places all over the globe, however the furtherest abroad I have ever been is New Zealand and before jet-setting to anywhere else, I really wanted to experience what we had on offer in our own backyard. 

I already have plans on where I want to go on our next trip! Autumn colours are calling me :) 

Now that we have returned though, I really wanted to put together a post detailing some my favourite locations and images from the trip. The hard part though is deciding which locations to cover. Hopefully what I have included below will serve to not only show where we travelled but help you out with planning your own adventures.

Carnarvon Gorge - Queensland

Carnarvon is one of those places with so much to offer that it would be impossible to see it all in one visit. It is a place that I have explored many times over the last 5 years and I still can’t get enough.

On this particular trip I climbed up to Boolimba Bluff (something I hadn’t done before) and I was fortunate enough to witness one of the best sunrises I have seen in a long time. It’s always a gamble that the light isn't going to be right when you have to hike so far to get to a particular shoot (especially when that hike involves so many steps), however on this occasion my hard work was well rewarded.

For accommodation at Carnarvon Gorge, my recommendation is Takarakka Bush Resort. They have numerous options ranging from caravan/camping to cabins and studio rooms.

Boolimba Bluff @ Sunrise, Carnarvon Gorge

Boolimba Bluff @ Sunrise, Carnarvon Gorge

Flinders Ranges - South Australia

How do I sum up the largest mountain range in South Australia?! The word EPIC comes to mind a lot. With over 430kms of spectacular vistas, its hard to not come away in awe of the sheer size of this place. I wrote a post on this area earlier in the year (which you can read here) so to save repeating the same information, I will just say this - YOU NEED TO GO TO THE FLINDERS! and if you are a photographer YOU DEFINITELY NEED TO GO TO THE FLINDERS!!

For more information on the Flinders Ranges or Wilpena Pound go to www.southaustralia.com and www.wilpenapound.com.au

Razorback Lookout @ Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges

Razorback Lookout @ Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges

Lake Bonney, The Riverlands - South Australia

If you are into Astrophotography, then Lake Bonney really needs to be on your list of locations to shoot. Lake Bonney is located near the town of Barmera in the Riverlands region of South Australia, approximately 230 kms from Adelaide. If you strike the right conditions with clear skies and low wind you can expect to get some great shots! You can free camp right beside the lake and while there are no facilities, you can’t beat the views.

Standing outside our caravan, almost knee deep in the water, I felt like I was surrounded by stars. You could see them in the sky and also their reflections in the water. It was almost as if the sky and the water were connected in one endless space of celestial light.

Milky Way panorama @ Lake Bonney, Riverlands

Milky Way panorama @ Lake Bonney, Riverlands

Murphys Haystacks, Eyre Peninsula - South Australia

Murphy's Haystacks on the Eyre Peninsula are Stonehenge-like, natural rock formations known as inselbergs. These uniquely shaped granite boulders are located 40kms south-east of Streaky Bay. There are a number of small groups of these in the area right in the middle of a farmers field! Their name originated when a traveller in a coach saw the formation from a distance. He thought the mounds to be bales of hay and he asked how a farmer could produce so much. As the farm was on a property owned by a man called Murphy, the rocks became known as Murphy's Haystacks. 

The property owner allows self contained travellers to camp there for the night for a small fee of $10. Well worth the money as it allows you to be there to capture both sunrise and sunset. The farmer also produces his own honey and it is for sale there with an honesty box for payment. Do yourself a favour and pick up a bottle (or two) as it is the best you will ever taste!

Murphy's Haystacks, Eyre Peninsula

Murphy's Haystacks, Eyre Peninsula

The Great Otway National Park - Victoria

The Otway waterfalls have been on my ‘must see’ list for some time and I was so excited to be able to see them. The falls are a relatively short drive north-east from the Great Ocean Road and there are 3 main locations that you should visit. These are Triplet Falls, Hopetoun Falls and Beauchamp Falls. 

I was fortunate enough (or unfortunate, depending on if you like staying dry) to photograph them during lots of rain, so the falls had a decent flow and the overcast weather made for great shooting conditions. The weather proofing on my gear was definitely put to the test that day! I must admit that despite the rain, I was having a fantastic time however my kids (who were soaking wet) did not share my enthusiasm :) 

For info on what gear I used and how to best shoot the Otway waterfalls, check out this previous blog post

Hopetoun Falls, Great Otway National Park

Hopetoun Falls, Great Otway National Park

Ladies Bath Falls, Mount Buffalo - Victoria

Ladies Bath Falls, Victoria

Ladies Bath Falls, Victoria

Ladies Bath Falls is the first point of interest you will come across on the road leading up to Mount Buffalo in Victoria's High Country. Mount Buffalo has over 90km of walking tracks featuring panoramic scenery, waterfalls and amazing granite outcrops. The history behind this location states that ladies on their way to the chalet on top of Mount Buffalo during the 1930's and 40's would take a break during the long train journey from Melbourne to refresh themselves at the falls before the final leg up the hill.

On this particular day it was a couple of very brave teenagers that were attempting to take a dip in the alpine water. Summer was nowhere in sight, so needless to say there were a lot of chilled screams as they jumped in.

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains - New South Wales

When you love waterfalls as much as I do, adding the Blue Mountains to this list is a ‘no brainer’. The Blue Mountains are approximately 2 hours drive inland from Sydney and are home to some of Australia’s most iconic landscapes and waterfalls. My favourite spot up there is Empress Falls along the Wentworth Falls circuit in the Valley of the Waters. I spent hours there just exploring different angles and compositions. It was an overcast day so the light down in the valley was perfect. There was a steady flow of people coming through but there are plenty of places to shoot from without having to worry about anyone getting in your shot.

There are over 900 stairs down to this location however it is definitely worth the effort. Plus there is a coffee shop/restaurant back up at the carpark so you can recharge with some food and a caffeine hit when you get back. Also, just before I captured this image I had the opportunity to watch a large canyoning group abseiling down from the top of the falls. If I had more time in the area I would have loved to give it a go. It looked like an awesome adventure!

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains

Camel Rock, Bermagui - New South Wales

A short drive from the quiet little coastal town of Bermagui in New South Wales and you come to 3 craggy peaks rising up out of the ocean, commonly known as Camel Rock. The formation was named by Bass and Flinders during the first mapping of the coastline of New South Wales. 

Taking unique images in this location is largely dependant upon the tide as particular viewpoints can only be accessed at certain times of the day. If you plan on visiting this location to shoot, be sure to check the tide times first. Sunrise is probably the best time of day to get some great light here but I have also taken some nice shots at sunset as well.

Camel Rock, New South Wales

Camel Rock, New South Wales

In total, over the 5 months that we were on the road we covered approximately 15,000kms. Initially this may sound like a lot, but compared to the rest of Australia it's barely scratching the surface. In a country that has so many diverse landscapes, it's easy to see why so many people are on the road touring Australia. I can't wait to set off and join them on our next adventure to explore the rest of what this great country has to offer!