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I'll be spending this weekend at the Canon AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards, part of the Digital Playground event at Luna Park in Sydney. The judging is open to the public and runs all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, although by the time Sunday afternoon rolls around, the category judging will be finished.
Attending a judging is always educational. Sometimes there can be longish periods of not much happening, but when the judges discuss a print or make a comment, there can be gems of wisdom and clarity that really help your photography along. Even if you don't agree with their sentiments (and generally speaking, if they haven't scored your own entries highly you don't agree with them), it's really useful to understand how other people see the world - and your photos.
The Better Photography Photograph of the Year Awards is also being judged. Tony and David have finished their part and I am part way through the final judging and feedback, so it will be me who is providing the brief suggestions.
However, what I'm really enjoying just now is choosing to play with photographs that I like, unworried by what a judge might think. Yes, competitions have been an important part of my career, but there are many photographs that I simply love, but will never enter into a competition. Oh, I think that they'd do okay, perhaps, but it's not the point. I feel a lot freer in working the file, tweaking the image on my Cintiq 24HD touch, knowing I don't have to impress a detail-obsessive judge (and I'm one of those judges too!).
The photograph above was taken on Lago Grey in Chile earlier this year. I'm returning there next month on a job, but it will be spring instead of autumn and I'm thinking there might be a little more snow and ice around. For me, what makes the photograph is the wild sky, the line of cloud against the deep blue, and how this is reflected diagonally by the line of sunlit mountain against other mountainsides in shadow. I also like the splash of colour and how it's just a thin sliver. But it's my photo, so maybe I'm imagining all this? Who cares!
I also think this is a photograph that needs to be contemplated. It's not going to survive in a photo competition where the judges have only a few seconds or maybe half a minute to view it. It's simply not competition fodder.
So, if you've recently entered APPA or the BP competition, or the Epson Pano Awards or the International Landscape Photographer of the Year awards, now's the time to forget about competitions for a little while and just focus on what makes you happy. There will be time enough next year for more competitions, to show the world what you've been working on and see if they like it.
But for now, enjoy the personal side of photography, just for you.
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I'm not unhappy that Fujifilm has released a new X-T1 so shortly after I have taken delivery of my own, but I am a little envious!
The new Fujifilm X-T1 Graphite Silver is all about looks and feel. The new model uses a three-layer coating on top of an antioxidant treatment on the magnesium body. This is followed by a matte black undercoat (primer) which deepens the tones, and then thin coats of ultra-fine paint particles are layered using computer-controlled Thin Film Multilayer Coating Technology to create a graphite silver veneer. Finally, a clear coat is added for a deep gloss finish and by adding a small amount of black, the colour tint alters subtly with different light to emphasise the camera's shape and form. Sounds like a fashion statement!
Okay, so it would be nice, but perhaps I can do without it? Is there anything else? The new model also features a high speed 1/32,000 second electronic shutter, which can be set in 1/3 steps from one full second to 1/32000 seconds. This means the mechanical shutter is not required at all for these speeds and that exposures are completely vibration free, even though there's not a lot of vibration in the first place. Of course, the camera is also completely silent, perfect for the photojournalist in us all.
Other features include a new Classic Chrome Film Simulation mode which delivers subtle colours and beautifully muted tones, reminiscent of vintage reversal (slide) film, plus a Natural Live View function removes the image quality settings from the viewfinder image while shooting to display natural, real-world images, close to what the naked eye would see through an optical viewfinder.
Plus there's a bunch of new firmware upgrades and most of these will be available for the black X-T1 as well.
The photograph below was taken with a Fujifilm X-T1 Black in Patagonia at around 3.00 a.m. There was a full moon and I was about to walk for four hours up to Las Torres, so I delayed the inevitable and took a quick photograph of the hotel at the base of the climb. I'm sure the new camera won't do it any better, will it???
But at least I wouldn't wake up anyone with my shutter click!
To read more about the new Fufifilm X-T1, visit www.fujifilm.com.au.
I've just finished putting together a selection of photographs for a calendar company in Europe. Not sure who it is yet as my agent has organised it, which sounds very swish. "My European agent, darling, doesn't everyone have one?" If you live in Europe, it probably doesn't sound as swish as an Australian agent!
In the process of selecting 12 images, my agent's client picked 9 images and then asked if there was anything more they could look at - and were there any photos without dark skies!
As photographers, we can get hung up on what other photographers think of our work, yet the greater public still seems very impressed with a photograph that is bright, colourful and correctly exposed. And has light skies, obviously!
The photo of Hill Inlet on Whitsunday Island above is one of the new images I provided and that was selected. I think many regular readers will think it doesn't include much of 'my style', but when you're selling your work, the client is in control.
Do you want to take great photographs? Master the two essential photographic crafts - exposure and composition - by learning from two of Australia's leading AIPP Grand Masters of Photography. Peter Eastway and David Oliver will demystify the complexities of exposure, colour, framing and composition at David's Hunter Valley farm, just perfect for taking great photographs. Please read the program below to see if this is the type of content that could take you to the next level!
To read more about the program or make a booking click here!
I mentioned to a few photographers recently that I learnt a lot about light in the landscape by learning how to light for portraiture. My teachers were Robert Billington and David Oliver, and now David and I are teaching portraiture and portraiture lighting up at David's farm in the Lower Hunter Valley.
The workshop is in David's old dairy, except it's a brand new building purpose built as a gallery and presentation room. It also has large south facing windows which make perfect light for portraiture, once you know how!
Our next Natural Light Portraiture workshop is on Sunday 21 September up in the Hunter Valley. Love to see you there! Read further information by clicking here.
It's a big lens! It's pricey! And it's beautiful!
Phase One has announced the Schneider Kreuznach 40-80mm f/4.0-5.6 leaf shutter zoom lens, the second zoom lens designed for the Phase One 645 camera platform, joining the Schneider Kreuznach 75-150mm f/4.0-5.6.
"Designing a zoom lens with excellent optical qualities throughout the zoom range is always a challenge," said Senior Product Manager Espen Beck, Phase One. "When the zoom range goes from a fairly wide-angle perspective to a normal perspective, as our new lens does, this only adds to the design complexity. This lens has 15 optical elements, two of which are aspherical, arranged in 11 groups. We have invested greater design and engineering resources into this lens than any of those before it and we are very proud of the results. I think that this lens will be a perfect companion for on-location photographers."
The idea of a zoom lens replacing two or three other lenses is appealing, but going on location usually carries with it some weight restrictions. The 40-80mm weighs 1860 g, so it's no lightweight, but then again, nothing is for medium format!
The prime lenses in the Phase One range that have comparable focal lengths are the 35mm at 480 g, the 45mm at 492 g, the 55mm at 660 g and the 80mm is 500 g, a total of 2132 g. So, yes, if you're replacing these four lenses with the new 40-80mm, your camera bag will indeed be lighter!
Of course, having a zoom lens means being able to reframe and respond to your subject without annoying lens changes. There are definite advantages in a zoom design.
The real question is how does the lens perform. I had the opportunity to give the f4 lens a trial and, like most lenses, best performance doesn't happen wide-open. However, you don't have to close the aperture down much before the image quality snaps from great into 'simply amazing' mode. At f5.6 and at both ends of the zoom range, the new 40-80mm delivers the superlative results you'd expect from a Schneider lens. This is one sharp puppy!
To read more about the Phase One 40-80mm zoom, visit the L&P Digital Photographic website at http://www.lapfoto.com.au/products_view.cfm?ProductID=410