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Recent Blogs from Better Photography


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Little Island Very Little

Little Island, Lord Howe Island
Alpa TC, Phase One IQ180, 23mm Rodenstock lens, 1/8 and 30 second exposures, f8 @ ISO 35

Last week, I realised my personal website (www.petereastway.com) was missing some of my earlier work and the above photo of Little Island shot on Lord Howe Island (off the NSW coast in Australia) was one of them. 

Lord Howe Island itself is quite magical, what you'd want in a 'desert island' if you had to be marooned somewhere. It's big enough so you'll never be bored, small enough to easily get around, and there are some very special locations, such as Little Island down the bottom of the trek up to Mount Gower.

Most of the time we were there, Little Island wasn't, but I imagine with big swells and tides, the water laps around it and hence its description. The challenge was finding an angle that included both its shape and location. Standard angles-of-view which included both sides of the island and a clearly defined shape were interesting, but I found this more closely cropped and squished composition to be stronger. Then it was a matter of ensuring sufficient detail in the island itself and dropping in a second exposure (taken from the same angle using a locked off tripod) with blurred water and clouds.

Why two exposures of the same scene? It was windy and the small bushes at the top of the island blurred during the long exposure. As photographers, we don't need a reason other than to say it was my preference to have the bushes sharply resolved with the shorter exposure.

When playing with exposure, the landscape can reveal all sorts of secrets and I love the discovery of the deep red rocks, almost buried in the middle of the island. By drawing out and enhancing the colour, you can almost imagine this a wound, a metaphor for what we're doing to the Earth in so many places. However, the main reason I drew out the colour was to create a point of interest in the composition and, as we all know, it's points of interest that make photographs engaging for our viewers, allowing them to apply their own interpretations and responses.

I hope you enjoy it.

This week, I am down in Narooma with Len Metcalf and a group of photographers on my first photo workshop in many months. I've taken an Epson SC-P906 A2 printer (I've actually purchased this for myself from Kayell, although as an Epson Ambassador, Epson would certainly have lent me one). We also have some great sample Epson Signature Hot and Cold Press papers, and also Canson's Rag Photographique, Platine and Aquarelle (I'm also a Canson Ambassador). Our plan is to shoot, process and print and, given the weather forecast, I think we will be having a little 'inside' time for plenty of printing!

Fingers crossed the world continues to open up and the vaccine does its magic.

In the meantime, don't forget my Landscape Photography MasterClass has been fully updated and you can read all about it and see a great little audio visual at www.betterphotographyeducation.com.

Taking Advantage of the Situation

Educational Cleric, Kashan, Iran
Fujifilm X-T3 with Fujinon XF8-16mmF2.8 R LM WR, f8 @ 1/60 second, ISO 250.

Looking through the portfolios of great photographers, I'm always struck by their sense of timing, whether it's a landscape, a portrait or a street scene. My first thought is, how did the photographer manage to be in such a great spot at just the right time? I'm sure many of us look at images that inspire us and have similar thoughts.

Very often the answers to these questions are found in the stories, articles and biographies surrounding these photographers. For street photographers, it wouldn't hurt to read Cartier-Bresson's Decisive Moment. I have a replica copy of the book in my library, David Oliver has an original - and so does Lyn Whitfield-King. The replica copy is extremely good, resisting the urge to reproduce the photos 'better' using modern printing processes and delivering a faithful, soft-contrast facsimile. However, for me the key is in Cartier-Bresson's essay about how he approaches photography and what he means by the decisive moment. I found it incredibly instructive.

Of course, all these ideas and influences become condensed into your own way of working. My take-away from photographers like Cartier-Bresson, Salgado and even our own local heroes like Michael Coyne, is that half the battle is just being there. Sure, you make your own luck, you follow interesting situations, you make yourself ready for action, but at the end of the day, it's just being there with your camera.

This photo, far from being a Cartier-Bresson or a Coyne, is one that I enjoy because of the way the cleric is positioned within the arches of the mosque in Kashan. One of the great services you'll find in many mosques around Iran's tourist areas are clerics ready to answer questions and explain Islam. This gentleman, mobile phone in hand, spent 15 minutes with us, explaining the Call to Prayer and then giving us a wonderful rendition as well. Having video on my camera meant I was able to capture both the song and this still image.

The other thing I've learnt is that you need to take lots of photos. I know I write this a lot, but to get that one in a thousand shots, you need to take a thousand shots! I have lots of photos with the cleric in a similar position, but only one with his hand gesturing towards the heavens.

Bhutan - The Myth Audio Visual on YouTube

Wangdue Phodrang Dzong, Bhutan
Phase One XF 150MP, 240mm Schneider Kreuznach lens, f5.6 @ 1/2500 second, ISO 125, hand-held.

I've been talking about my three books on Bhutan for some months now. They are still in production and it's interesting how I am putting off pressing the button, sending the files off to Momento Pro for printing. Sure, they are three large books to be inkjet printed and hand-bound, so they aren't inexpensive, but I'm actually enjoying the process of slowly working through the images and ensuring they are all exactly as I want them. I'm even proofing every image onto Canson Rag Photographique using my Epson SC 10070 down at the office (although I have just taken delivery of an Epson SC-P906 for home, so that might speed me up).

This photograph is from the Bhutan - Myth volume. It was taken late one afternoon from the road. Featured is the Wangdue Phodrang Dzong and the small village cascading down the slope below. It's one of those photos that works best with a telephoto because you're looking directly into the sun and you don't really want all the foreground and surroundings - just the silhouettes. And if you have a friend with a hat to shade the lens, so much the better. 

As I work through the photos of Bhutan, I keep pinching myself that this is a real place. When you're there, it all seems 'sorta normal', but as I process the photographs and relive the experiences, I realise just how special it is. The benefits of travel aren't just in the photos we take - in fact, the photos are secondary to the experiences that become a part of us.

I have put together a little audio visual of my Bhutan - Myth series on YouTube which I thought you might enjoy viewing - the link is https://youtu.be/C9W5k3DJeBE.

And I would be remiss if I didn't remind everyone that the Landscape Photography MasterClass has been fully updated and you can purchase it with 10 easy payments. Details on the www.betterphotographyeducation.com website.

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