Stromness, South Georgia. Shot with a Canon EOS-1D X and an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens,
1/8000 second at f3.2, ISO 800, handheld from a moving zodiac.
I dropped into my lab in Melbourne (The Edge Photo Imaging in Collingwood) to pick up some prints on Kodak's metallic Endura paper. There are a couple of inkjet papers that produce a shiny, psuedo-metallic look, but none that match the conventional photography process for metallic prints - in my humble opinion.
The images were of my Antarctica trip which I'm currently working on. I'm in the middle of finalising the stills for the National Geographic television series, produced in partnership with Canon, and based on the comments by one of the people down at the lab, I'm thinking I might have to work a little harder!
My friend at the lab didn't think the photographs were mine because they didn't have enough post-production! They didn't have my signature colour or vignetting or whatever it is I'm supposed to do.
It was surprising to be told this as I was wondering if there was too much post-production on some of the images (such as the one above). Included in the selection of photographs were exposures that required very little adjustment, but others had quite a bit of work done to them, so perhaps I should be flattered that they all seemed to have so little! I like the idea of 'invisible Photoshop' (or invisible Lightroom, Capture One etcetera).
At the Camberwell Camera Club presentation in Melbourne last Monday night, I spoke to a room of 250-300 people kind enough to listen and watch my slide shows. I spoke about the need for everyone to do at least some post-production to their images, if not for effect, then to ensure the correct exposure, contrast and colour that matches their memory of the scene or situation they have photographed.
I also suggested that what was too much for one photographer might not be enough for another. The question really isn't about post-production, rather the amount of post-production and where do you stop.
Now I admit that my images from Antarctica to date have been processed with slightly less 'imagination' than other projects, but that's partly because of the job. However, given the association my segment is going to have with photographer Frank Hurley, I'm thinking maybe I need to do a little more! (Hurley is renowned for dropping in a sky or tweaking his photographs for good effect - 100 years ago!)
The photograph reproduced here is of the whaling ruins at Stromness on South Georgia, which is part of the Antarctic voyage I took with cinematographer and Canon Master Abraham Joffe on Aurora's Polar Pioneer. The edited one is above, the pre-edit below.
I have been invited by Aurora, along with Abraham, to take a group of photographers down to Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands late November / early December 2015. Naturally, it will include lots of photographic tuition and post-production advice as well, so an ideal opportunity to see some of the most amazing locations on the planet, and improve your photography skills as well..
And also a gentle reminder that I have an introductory, hands-on Photoshop workshop in Dee Why, Sydney. There are still a few places left, so if you want to master layers and take control of Photoshop, this is the course to take. It includes sample files and lots of notes, and we'll be going through images step-by-step to ensure you understand it all! Click here for details or visit the Workshop section on the Better Photography website.
Stromness, South Georgia. Pre-post production.
Admiralty Islands, Lord Howe Island. Part of the EAST exhibition by ND5 currently
on at Maud Creative gallery in Newstead, Brisbane.
Do you know what a great print really looks like? What should your blacks look like? How sharp and clear should it appear? Is it okay to push the colours, or are pastels a better fit?
Creating a print is what photography is all about. A lot of people start with digital cameras and their iPads or computer monitors, but once they see their images as a beautiful print, their aims and aspirations change. Immediately and for the better. Prints are wonderful! (And I admit I am biased.)
At the ND5 workshop in Brisbane (which will be repeated in Melbourne on the Sunday after Easter), I listened to Les Walkling talk about exhibitions and how he attains optimum print quality. Les also described how he learnt what a great print looked like and I'd like to paraphrase his explanation.
One of the greatest modernist photographers is Edward Weston. When you see an original Weston print, there is a presence and a luminosity about it that is transcendental. While working in America, Les would sneak into the public galleries early in the morning and, when no one was looking, hold up one of his prints next to one of Weston's. This would soon show him whether or not his print was on the right track. He says he did this for several weeks until he finally produced a single print he was happy with.
Les also talks about holding up his hand in front of a print. If your hand looks more alive than the print, you have failed. It's only when your hand looks like a lump of lifeless meat in comparison to your print that you know you have succeeded.
Now, I'm sure I have got these stories slightly wrong, but the message I took away was that we need to look at original prints to really understand what a great photograph looks like. The internet and photography books are great, but they are not as educational as the real thing.
So, how do you get to see a great print? Here are two suggestions. First, visit a gallery. Wow! That was easy! Check out the programs online at your major and regional galleries first as they have a range of photography shows throughout the year. Not all shows are by 'photographers', so be picky about who you use as a role model.
Second, come along to the next ND5 workshop in Melbourne and you will receive an A3 original print by one of the ND5 photographers. While some people may choose to frame and hang it, its intended purpose is for you to inspect and study. It will be an original print on Canson paper using Epson pigment inks, signed and embossed, but more importantly, you can get an idea of the fundamental building blocks of what makes a great print great.
The value of one of these prints is several hundred dollars, but we're including it in the $195 attendance fee. The seminar is on Sunday 12 April at the Monash Gallery of Art in Melbourne. For full details, click here or visit the Better Photography website and look in the shop under Workshops.
(And attendees at our Brisbane workshop should expect a surprise in the mail in a couple of weeks - we didn't forget you!)
Wyndham's lazy tidal system makes great patterns from the air.
The ND5 group - Christian Fletcher, Michael Fletcher, Tony Hewitt, Les Walkling and I - agreed not to share our recent images from the Kimberley and Lord Howe Island until the exhibition, so I am thinking I will be in trouble with Christian. Mind you, he's in Iceland at the moment, so hopefully he doesn't have internet...
In any event, this photo isn't going into the exhibition. It didn't make the final cut (and I can hear Christian saying that's just as well - but I don't listen to him too much or too often), and so I figure I can post it. Besides, I have to let everyone know about the exhibition opening in Brisbane at the end of this month and the one day workshop.
The workshop is being repeated in Melbourne in mid-April, but the exhibition is not. However, we have another exhibition at the Monash Gallery of Art which features our earlier work and an amazing video installation by Michael. For more information about the workshops and accompanying exhibitions, click here.
The photo above looks easy enough to take and in many ways it was. The challenge was finding just the right angle where the surroundings looked as though this river system went on forever. I had fifty or so shots out of which just three or four were to my liking - and the one I like the most is in the exhbition.
The photos were taken from a helicopter using a Phase One 645DF with an 80mm Schneider lens and an IQ180 back. The colour of the mudflats in the middle of the day was less than exciting, so I thought of black and white and then moved to a 'lith film' effect. The river itself has been lightened up using a mask and a curves adjustment layer, and then adjusted so that it stands out just enough, but hopefully not too much.
The taking of this photograph will be featured in Episode 6 of Tales by Light.
The following is a press release from Canon I have great delight in sharing!
Canon Australia and National Geographic Channel have announced their partnership to deliver Australian viewers a new television series that gives rare insight into the eyes of some of Australia's, and the world's best photographic storytellers.
Titled Tales by Light, the series will air in six episodes premiering from 8.30pm AEST Sunday 24 May on National Geographic Channel.
Tales By Light is the first television series produced by Canon Australia and is a natural progression for the photographic brand, explains Canon's Director of Consumer Imaging and Executive Producer for the Series, Jason McLean: "We see our role in imaging as enabling people to tell their stories, and what better than inspiring a large and passionate audience through the eyes of some of the best storytellers in the world. The partnership with National Geographic Channel is a perfect fit for us given their dedication to telling powerful stories through captivating imagery."
Produced by emerging cinematographer and Canon Master, Abraham Joffe, Tales by Light showcases Art Wolfe, Richard I'Anson, Krystle Wright, Darren Jew and Peter Eastway pushing the limits of their craft in some of the world's most extreme and fascinating environments. Each a master of their respective field, the photographers give rare insight into their endless journeys as visual storytellers - their challenges, motivations, and moments of joy in capturing an elusive moment by light. Shot in 4K resolution, the series is a stunning visual spectacle to immerse and inspire viewers through new ways of viewing the world around them.
To see a teaser produced by Abraham, click here.
Blenheim, New Zealand. Is shooting in the mist easy?
Photographs in the mist can look really great, but why? And if there is lots of mist around, is it easy to shoot great photographs?
I'm not sure if it is ever easy to come up with great photographs, but I agree that for people who live in non-misty environments, seeing a photograph of mist is a positive. For many readers, mist will be a rarity and so photographing it becomes more enjoyable. For others (perhaps the early risers), mist might be a regular occurrence and so photographs of it may not be so appealing.
I'm not generally an early riser, so I really enjoy shooting in the mist. What I like about misty photographs is the sense of mystery that is created in the background. Not only does it simplify the composition, it partially hides things from view and this intruigues me. I think most of us are much the same?
There are lots of different ways to shoot in the mist. With a telephoto lens, you can look for silhouettes (of trees and buildings perhaps), searching for interesting shapes and compositions. With a wider lens, I tend to position myself near something of interest. Generally, it can be quite clearly seen, but the background quickly fills in with the thickness of the mist.
This is how I have approached the river scene in Blenheim, New Zealand. For me, the image is two simple lines - the horizon and the diagonal edge of the river. I've also kept the colour simple with a limited palette of blues and greys.
It's not a competition winner because it's too quiet, but it appeals to me and I hope after reading a few of these newsletters you'll agree that not every photograph has to be a competition winner. The first person to impress with our photography is ourself. Not everyone will like your favourite shots, but you'll be pleasantly surprised how many people do. Sometimes it's just having the courage to post it on Facebook or Flickr and seeing what people think.
I don't expect to get massive sales of this photograph, but it's one that brings back good memories of the workshop in New Zealand last year. It was great being up early, wandering through the mists, searching for photographs. Tony Hewitt and I have another workshop in New Zealand this June, so if you're thinking about joining us, please book soon so we can get an idea of numbers. We're expecting it to be full of amazing photographs, plus you get to listen to Tony and I giving each other a hard time!
There's a great little e-brochure I've created which has all the details - click here to have a look!