Almost Weekly Photo

Shapes & Textures

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One of the many locations in the world that I struggle with (photographically) is the Grand Canyon. I remember before I had visited there the first time, someone told me I would be blown away by the scale. I was sure I would be, because everyone says how big it is, but there are big places in Australia, too.

Yet, knowing all this and thinking I was prepared for 'big space', when I first stepped out of the rental car and looked over the edge, I couldn't help myself, exclaiming "F*%# me, that's huge!!"

Now, I realise you will be utterly shocked to learn that I swear. My parents taught me proper, especially in public. On the other hand, if you have already visited the Grand Canyon, you're probably smiling and remembering your own first encounter with 'big space'.

Yet despite the Grand Canyon being so grand, I struggle to get great shots. Sure, I can take panoramas and overviews, but often there is so much haze that the photos struggle to look impressive. In the photo books you find in the souvenir shops, you see that this style of photograph works best when there's a weather system pushing through. And I guess the more times you go, the greater the chances of finding interesting light.

If the weather isn't cooperating (photographically), then early mornings and late evenings provide me with the best opportunities. If there's direct sunlight, it can be a struggle to deal with the high contrast: deep shadows inside the canyon versus the bright sky above. Before sunrise and after sunset, the light softens out and this is when the above photo was taken. There's also a bit of a colour cast in the file - from memory there was a little cloud over the horizon where the sun was rising - and I've chosen to keep the colour in the final image.

I've also used a telephoto. While everyone should take a grand view and a panorama, if you're looking for images with impact, then I think a telephoto allows you to concentrate on small sections of the Canyon. And there is no shortage of opportunities as you drive along the rim road.

This photo was taken earlier this year on a photo tour with Tony Hewitt, travelling from San Fran to Las Vegas. We're going again next February and there is just one seat left in our luxury van, so if you're interested, check out the website here.

A quick update for everyone who has purchased (or is going to purchase) a copy of The New Tradition!

Up above you can see the book jacket opened in InDesign. There's been a design change to the cover, thanks to Kathie, my wonderful wife and art director!

The book was sent to the printer in Hong Kong a couple of weeks ago. Over the years, I have had Better Photography magazine printed in Hong Kong by Toppan for two reasons, price and quality. In the old days, you could get the same high quality in Australia, but not at the same price (and not always with consistency). These days, the difference in price isn’t so marked, but consistency still seems to be a problem based on other magazines I have had printed in Australia. However, since I have such a great relationship with this printer that spans over 20 years, I actually wanted to print with Toppan.

And they are really looking after me. They know this book is special to me. They know it is an ‘art book’. And we are using all the best materials and processes. We have a new French-fold jacket, all the pages are wet-on-dry machine varnished, we’re printing on a beautiful 157 gsm Moorim matt and the case bound book is section sewn and fully cased with arlin over boards, H&T bands and square backed. So there!

At this stage, the book will not reach Australia until 19 February 2019, based on our current printing schedule. It’s much quicker to print a magazine, but with books, you need to allow extra time for the binding. And you don’t want to rush things – you need to allow time for the ink and glues to dry.

I’m not in a rush. I want this book to be as good as it can possibly be.

And I would like to sign the pre-publication book orders, so while the shipment will arrive in February, Kim and I will need a little more time to unpack the books, open the postage cartons, sign the books, allow them time to dry, repack and address. To complicate matters, I will be in the USA on a photo tour and not back until early March, so it may be mid-March before your book arrives.

But I promise you the wait will be worth it.

As mentioned, my wonderful wife Kathie has re-designed the cover and refined the typography. Just as photographers like to pixel-peep, my wife is a stickler for good design. She gave me a B+ for my original design (and A- for effort), but her final result is now AAA+!

As I write this, some preliminary Xerox proofs are arriving. The printer wants to check they are on the right track and following my approval, they will then deliver a sample of machine wet proofs. This is the ultimate test – actually putting paper through a press so I can see exactly what the results will be like. It’s not a cheap process, of course, but it’s a bit like photography. When you do all the steps correctly, you’re more likely to get a better result!

If you'd like to order a copy of the book at its pre-publication price, or order a copy of the book and a personally printed photograph, click through to the website here. And we can provide gift certificates if you'd like to make this a Christmas gift - just email Kim after you've made the order!

Richard Bennett is a good friend of Better Photography and regular readers may remember reading about him over the past few years. He's the photographer who has followed the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race from the air for the past five decades - but he's much more than that!
Richard lives in Tasmania, but he's up in Sydney on the Northern Beaches giving a lunch-time talk next week. The venue is the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in Newport. It is a sit down lunch: main course and buffet desert and coffee for $34.00.
Date: Friday 16 November 2018
Time: 12.00 for 12.30.
Presentation goes for an hour to an hour and a half - maybe more, Richard says, depending on how the audience is tracking!
Details are here:
However, the link doesn't do much as you still have to book by phoning the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club on 02 9998 3700.
The address is Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club 16 Mitala Street Newport 2106.
I've just booked my place and told them I'm a vegetarian - so see you there!

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