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Better Photography Online Edition

Better Photography is available four times a year (at www.betterphotographyeducation.com) as an online read or you can download it to your device for offline reading.

Huge Digital Archive Resource!

When you subscribe to the paper edition or the full online subscription, you have immediate access to over 45 magazines online! There's lots of amazing content and ideas to enjoy and learn from.

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Recent Blogs from Better Photography


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Photographers Helping Out At Christmas

As we head towards Christmas, Better Photography contributor Karen Alsop suggested we share a little project she is involved with. Writes Karen:

Christmas is an extra challenging time for families that have very sick children in hospital. Every year a volunteer group of photographers and editors spend the Christmas season, bringing joy and hope to these families through powerful and stunning artworks.

The children are photographed in front of a green screen at the hospital, or if they can't leave their bed, the photographers go into the wards. The editors then expertly convert the photograph into an artwork that looks like a magical Christmas card.

This movement started in 2016 along with the one-and-only Aussie Santa. Since then it has expanded into all corners of the globe. Over the last 2 years COVID restrictions have meant that Santa hasn't been able to visit the children in person in states other than Melbourne (where he lives when he's not at the North Pole). But this hasn't stopped the magic! Santa is composited into the magical images as though he was really there!

Christmas Wish is made possible by the generosity of our many photographers, editors, and supporting imaging companies. All-time and equipment are provided at no cost so that the children can receive the gift of a lifetime. Please watch the Youtube video to the end as the credits roll, to appreciate those that give so much. While we haven't been able to list all the editors involved or the team members in the video, we want to personally say thank you, we appreciate you, the work you do means the world to these families.

Click here to view video on YouTube

Hewitt/Eastway in WA?

A typical beach from the Esperance/Albany stretch, photographed by Tony Hewitt many years ago - and one of the reasons we're keen to go back!

As you can imagine, photographers like Tony Hewitt and I are wondering when we're going to be getting back to 'normal' for photo tours and workshops. It's just before Christmas 2021 and the short answer is, who knows! While I am hopeful for the second half of 2022 to venture overseas, we are looking at local destinations for the first half.

Now it's true that Western Australia has been locked away (or is it that the rest of us have been locked out?), but Tony is hopeful by the end of May 2022 all should be well as far as Australians at least. With this in mind, he has planned two Hewitt/Eastway workshops and we're putting out expressions of interest. We are taking just six photographers on each of them.

The first will investigate the South West of WA, from Esperance to Albany. The photo tour begins on 30 May 2022 in Esperance where we'll spend a few days, then we drive across to Albany for another few. Included are aerials, seascapes and a little bad humour as we explore this wonderful corner of Australia. We finish in Esperance on 5 June. Price around $9900, ex Esperance/Albany.

The second trip is a Shark Bay Aerial Photography Experience, from 7 - 11 June 2022 (so you can join both if you'd like). It's an aerial photography experience with post-production and feedback sessions from our luxury beachfront accommodation at the Monkey Mia Resort (an airconditioned room, including ensuite, per person). It includes four aerial photography flights using a Cessna 206 with doors off (but Tony quickly adds we will be harnessed in)! Price around $9,900, ex Shark Bay. Come on both photo tours and there's a 10% discount.

If you'd like us to pencil your name it with an expression of interest (pending you seeing all the details and before we do the formal advertising), email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

And for all readers of the Better Photography Almost Weekly newsletter, enjoy the festive season wherever you are!

Fire Dancers in The New Tradition

Baining, East New Britain, 2009
Panasonic DMC-GH1, 25mm f1.4 (50mm equivalent), 1/4 second @ f1.4, ISO 400, hand-held, no filter

While I was in Papua New Guinea on a job for the magazine and PNG Tourism, I was lucky enough to see the Baining fire dancers. ‘Baining’ is the name of the people who do the dancing, up in the hills behind Kokopo, which is near Rabaul in East New Britain. The performance is at night which made shooting it back in 2009 a challenge, unless you used flash.

The problem with flash is that it can kill the ambience. The problem without flash is that your exposures are too slow and the action is blurred. (The cameras back in 2009 had higher ISO settings, but the resulting noise was objectionable in most cases.)

The only light I wanted to use was the firelight and I felt I was getting some interesting shots with some great blur. I was using Panasonic’s Lumix GH1 camera with a 25mm f1.4 lens, with the ISO set at 400 or 800. This gave me a relatively fast shutter speed, around 1/30 second, but not fast enough to completely freeze the dancers as they rushed through the flames.

There were probably 30 tourists surrounding the dancers and some were unfortunately on the other side of the fire in view of my camera. This basically changed the photo from being something rarely observed and wonderful, to yet another tourist shot taken on a group tour.

Obviously I didn’t want this, although I was happy with an unintended intrusion. In one of my shots, someone else’s flash fired at the same time and it partially lit the dancer and froze the action. This, I thought, was quite a good shot on its own, especially when I crop out the tourists on the left. But what I remember about the night wasn’t just the dancer bursting through the flames, but all the other dancers with their wonderful headpieces standing around the fire watching, partially enveloped by the darkness.

Since the photo was at night and all my backgrounds were black, I figured it can’t be too difficult to join a few images together, as can be seen in the final image. I used a little Photoshop to flesh out the edges, alter a few of the repeated dancers and we’re there.

NEW TRADITION: Digital techniques really have allowed us to approach photography in new and innovative ways. If the final image is all that concerns you, it is very liberating.

Need a good read? Like to learn something more about photography? Interested in new ideas? Why not purchase a copy of my book, The New Tradition, which is full of great tales and ideas. It has 100 photographs and accompanying stories guaranteed to enthral you - and you can save $30 on the purchase price right now - use coupon code TNT30. Check out more on the www.betterphotography.com website.

STOP PRESS: There's a special Better Photography Magazine subscription deal - buy The New Tradition before Christmas as outlined above and we'll add in some 'festive cheer' with a year's online subscription to Better Photography magazine and its archive of over 50 magazines. What a great Chrissy present for yourself - although Australia Post has said it might not get the book to you in time for the stocking.

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