Fantasy Edits – Starting with photography to end up with artwork [Updated]

Sometimes I get a little tired with just a ‘simple’ photography. I think this is true for most of people – we can’t just do the same thing over and over again and not get bored with it. We need to mix things up. Thinking about it, I guess it doesn’t apply to the Japanese culture, in which people can dedicate their whole life to perfecting a single skill. Have you seen the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” ?

Anyway, I got a little sidetracked here. As I was saying sometimes I get really sick with photography to the point I can’t look at my camera without wanting to puke. Well, maybe I exaggerated a little, but you get the point. When it happens though, my creative urge doesn’t go away, so I try to come up with ways other than photography to let it out.

Being a photographer I have a lot of images in my Lightroom library, and when I don’t feel like shooting new ones, I try to reuse my old images to create something new out of them. Sometimes I get lucky and something nice comes out of my efforts, and when it does I want to share it with the world!

I call these series – “Space Fantasies”.

Since one of the purposes of this blog is to educate (ambitious, don’t you think?) I will share a bit about how the  image above was created. The rest of the images you’ll see in this post were created similarly.

As you might’ve guessed it all started with a photograph. This one:

At first I was inspired by images of things with huge moon in the background so I just tried to add a moon to this image. Did you know that NASA has a great library of space imagery that is free to to use for anyone? That’s where I found my moon, since I don’t have a 600mm lens to shoot it myself. This moon:

In order for the moon to seem behind the tree, I changed the blending mode of the layer to “Overlay” (did I mention that all this is done in Photoshop? Duh! Obviously :). When I did that, the image wasn’t interesting enough for me. I felt that something is missing. So I looked and looked at it and suddenly a thought popped into my head (or maybe not suddenly. Maybe something totally different happened, I don’t remember) – what if this is not our moon, what if all this is not happening on earth? So I added another image from NASA to reinforce my idea. This one:

And again, to blend it with the rest, changed blending mode to “overlay”.

Now we are getting somewhere! I thought to myself, but still something was missing…

A few days later I looked at it again and crazy thought crept into my perfectly sane mind – What if it was our moon after all!? If this is a moon, and it looks like night – something that was missing was a howling wolf! But I am not a wildlife photographer, and I don’t have photos of wolves laying around. Even if I did, I doubt I would have one in exactly the right pose that I imagined it should be. To find a solution, or to be more exact, to find a wolf, I started browsing through Google images searching for “howling wolf”, and I found quite a few images. But it didn’t feel right to use them in my artwork – I wanted to make it myself, you know?

The solution came to me when I saw black and white logos of wolves – I realized that all I need is a silhouette! It doesn’t have to be a photograph. And still I wanted to make it myself. So I drew a wolf on a piece of paper using several different photos as references to get the exact pose I wanted. Then I took a photo of my drawing and brought it into Photoshop. Using the Image->Adjustments->Threshold filter I converted the photo to black and white:

After tinkering with the image a little bit more, it seemed that all the pieces fell into place! I was quite satisfied with the result:

But my perfectly sane mind kept poking me, saying things like “psst! this could be better! try something else“. A few days later (you see, this was a long process!) I was playing with the Prisma app on my phone and got an idea to try putting my work through it. After trying a bunch of their filters, the one I liked the most was “Wave” (A tribute to the famous painting by Hokusai).

And that’s pretty much gave me the final image.

There is one more thing left to mention – Prisma outputs low res images, but I wanted it to have much larger resolution, so here is my somewhat complicated solution to the problem:

  1. Open the Prisma-processed image in Photoshop
  2. Enlarge the image to about 11 megapixels (Image->Image Size)
  3. Use Nik Sharpener Pro (for output) changing the following settings from defaults
    1. Structure = 50%
    2. Local contrast = 7%
    3. Focus = 10%
  4. Open the resulting image in Adobe Illustrator
  5. Trace the image in order to turn it into vector using “full color” leaving the rest of the settings as defaults
  6. Export back to JPEG from Illustrator at your desired resolution

 

After getting my first fantasy-photo-collage-painting I couldn’t stop, and ended up with a whole series of works. Here they are. I hope this was of interest to some of you and provided useful info.

Enjoy!

– Greg

[UPDATE] Lately Prisma started offering an in-app purchase to be able to output high-res photos of up to 12MP.

 

P.S. If you want one of these beauties printed on canvas and hanging on your wall – shoot me an email at greg@photopathway.com

Photographing Still Life Part II

About three months ago I wrote an article about my work with still life objects. I’ve been continuing photographing still life since then and experimenting with different ways of post processing the images. In this post I will show some of my more recent works. Click on the images to view larger version.

In this image I went with simplicity in shapes but added more interest using texture.
Still Life with bottle and wine glass

Here, on the contrary, I wanted to create a more complex image with additional elements. My main problem was to choose these elements so that they would fit harmoniously into my composition. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether I succeeded or not. 
Still Life with bottles, mandarins, and leafs

I especially like this image, mostly because it wasn’t easy to come up with the idea for it. I started it by trying various compositions of glasses and the bottle, and various liquid levels. After I achieved something that looked good to me, I still felt that something was missing from the image. So I looked around for an item to add, and decided to add the two marbles. But I needed an aesthetic way to place them, and after a while I solved this puzzle with a spoon. I made a couple of shots and still wasn’t completely satisfied with the results. Suddenly it hit me that these marbles on the spoon look like musical notes! To make this idea more visible I added musical sheet to the background and the photo frame, and finally I felt the image was complete.
Still Life with bottle and glasses

 

This is my best still life image to date. It has an interesting idea and a nice execution. In addition this image was accepted to 1x.com !!! It was my dream to have my image featured there, and I finally achieved it. You can see it on 1x.com here.
Still Life with bottles

 

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Our Incredible Obsession With Gear

What do I mean by “gear obsession” ? It is the thought that using better photography gear will get you to take better pictures. I was so guilty of it in the past, and still sometimes get the irresistible urge to buy that new something that just came out.

Let’s do a little test. Does the following thought process sound familiar to you?

– The camera that I have is pretty old, and just yesterday they put out this new model with far better focusing, noise reduction, continuous shooting, _____________ (fill the blank).
– Once I get it, my photos will be crisper, sharper, clearer, and definitely MUCH better.
– Ok, I got this camera, but my huge collection of lenses (more than three I consider to be huge) doesn’t have the new 50mm f1.4 lens, which is MUCH better than its predecessor, and is not that expensive!
– Once I get this lens, I’ll really start using a 50mm lens and get wonderful photos with it! (Doesn’t matter that I already have a ‘worse’ 50mm lens and at least two of my zooms cover 50mm mark).
– Ok, I have a 50mm f1.4 lens now… But hey what about this new tripod from Manfrotto!? Yeah, I do have a pretty good tripod, but this one must be that much lighter and more stable! Having it will FOR SURE make me get up at 5 o’clock in the morning to shoot sunrises.

This constant feeling that something is missing from your photo bag, and getting it will finally allow you to take better images can go on forever.

If it does sound familiar, then you have the same problem that I had for quite a while. The real problem here is that getting all this stuff Absolutely Will Not help you take better photographs. And since the flow of new and better cameras and all other photography related stuff never ends, you are facing the danger of constantly chasing that next new thing coming out next week, month, year.

You might say that I am not totally right, and better equipment does produce better images. Well, yes and no. If by ‘better’ you mean better technical quality then, maybe yes. This is even not a certain yes. In many cases, the quality of light is one of the most important contributors to the technical quality of your work. Let’s say you want to shoot portraits in natural light, but it is high noon, and your subjects are standing in an open area without a hint of a shadow. It doesn’t matter that you have the best camera out there – you will still get unpleasant lighting on your subject and very harsh shadows. But if you wait for the sunset (for example), and move your subject into a slightly shadowed area where you’ll get beautifully diffused light, even a point and shoot camera will get you great results.

However, technical quality constitutes only about 1% of how good your image will be, and this is something that I’ve come to learn the hard way. Photographic forums are filled with thousands of bleak, uninteresting, and simply ugly images taken with the best cameras out there (Canon EOS 1Dx, Nikon D800, you name it). On the other hand I also found many beautiful photographs taken with point-and-shoots.

So what makes a photograph to be good, or even great? Well, it is a pretty tough question and here is my take on it. Good photograph is one that makes the viewer feel something, that evokes emotions within the viewer. Good photograph creates a mood or tells a story. And the more intense the emotions it evokes in the viewer, the stronger the mood – the better image it is.

How can all this be achieved within a single image? Well, most certainly not by technical quality of photographer’s equipment. It can be achieved through lots and lots of practice, through looking at work of masters and trying to understand what is it in the image that makes you feel the way that you feel. It is way past the basics such as rule of thirds, contrasts, lines, patterns, etc. Of course, you have to be familiar with all of the above, but to use it effectively, and break the rules where necessary is a whole another level of photography. In short, only developing your vision will allow you to create good photographs, and you can do it with almost any camera out there.

I find it liberating taking pictures with my mobile phone because I don’t have to worry about changing lenses, and being afraid of missing the shot because I don’t have the correct lens on my camera. With the phone I simply don’t have that choice, and instead I start to look around more, think about what I am looking at and create various compositions in my mind, The camera is there only to capture what I saw in my mind. It is really just a tool that helps the photographer express himself.

What do you think makes a good photograph? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Photographing Still Life

For the last several months I’ve been focusing on photographing still life images. I don’t know exactly why but I am drawn to still life photography. I like to create various compositions putting emphasis on shapes, light, and color. In this article I’ll share some of my creations and talk you through my thought process. The images that you will see here where created by me during the course of the last five months.

I started experimenting with simple shapes and gradually added more components using bottles and other items I had at home. My first images consisted of two objects and were shot in black and white. This way I was able to concentrate purely on shape and light. Here is one such example, which I liked. There is a contrast between one dark, “solid” object on the foreground and one light, almost transparent object in the background. I tried intuitively to place them in a way that would look interesting and pleasing to me.

Still life with bottle and vase in black and white by greg brave
click on the photo to enlarge

Next I added one more object, some color, and changed the lighting. The reason I changed the lighting is for the color to bee seen, but I still wanted to have shadow in the image. This way I aimed to bring a certain mood into the image. Looking at it on my computer screen I felt that something was missing, tried to add texture, and liked the result. This image is still very simplistic, a building block in my studies of still life photography.

Still life with bottle and vase in color by greg brave
click on the photo to enlarge

I kept on trying various compositions, and here’s my attempt to add some humor. There’s not much sense to it, but I like this drunk zebra 🙂

Still life with bottles and toy horse in black and white by greg brave
click on the photo to enlarge

The image below was inspired by images of Victoria Ivanova . She has some very cool conceptual still life images with pears (and other items). I call this image “Examination”. Will let you figure this one out for yourself 🙂

Still life with bottles and pears in color by greg brave
click on the photo to enlarge

Concept imagery is pretty difficult to come up with, and I didn’t have much luck with it just yet. In the meantime I continued to focus on form, light and color. In my next composition I wanted to emphasize a single color, so it would become the whole theme of the image. It doesn’t mean that there is only one color but that it is the vividly dominant one, so there’s no mistake as to which one is it.

Still life with bottle vase apple and glass in color by greg brave
click on the photo to enlarge

I also tried to change backgrounds and match them to my subjects. One of the things I learned from the photo below is that I don’t like empty things. I didn’t notice this at first, but when I looked at the final image I kept thinking that something was missing, and finally I realized that all the items were empty!

Still life with bottles and glasses in color by greg brave
click on the photo to enlarge

I didn’t repeat that mistake in my next image. In this image I made an emphasis on color. Seeing the final image I saw that vivid colors add a lot of interest to it. Ideally, of course, it should also be the shape, the light, and the meaning of the image together to form a good one.

Still life with bottles glass and fruits in color by greg brave
click on the photo to enlarge

The image below is the most recent one I created. When working on its’ composition I felt that only glass objects with (or without) liquid created a lacking picture. I tried to add various objects but nothing worked. Then I went out to the garden and looked around, saw this sprout and tried to add it to my composition. Finally I got what I needed, and the image was complete. There is an interesting “cross-balance” (term I thought of just now 🙂 ) in this photograph: A diagonal line of three filled objects from top left to bottom right, and another diagonal line of two empty objects from top right to bottom left.

Still life with bottles glass and flora in color by greg brave
click on the photo to enlarge

A few technical notes regarding my lighting setup: I generally had two lights. One is located below the table on which I created my compositions. That light was lighting the background and adding the glow to the bottles from behind. Another one is located to the left of the camera and just a bit above the bottles. On it I placed polarizing gel and also used a polarizing filter on the lens. I turned the polarizer on the lens so that the reflections of the light source in the bottles would not be visible. In some cases I created two exposures of the same composition – one with reflections and another without. Later in Photoshop I loaded the two exposures as layers, completely masked out the exposure with reflections, and only revealed the reflections that I wanted to be seen.

Your comments, questions, and thoughts are highly appreciated!

Autumn in National Rhododendron Gardens

Autumn is a very special time of the year. I feel that it is time for relaxation and contemplation. Walking under the reddish-orange trees in the parks, it invites me to think about things. Different things.  Autumn is also a very beautiful time of the year. But to be honest I have to say that any time of the year is beautiful, you just have to look for the beauty in it.

Autumn in National Rhododendron Gardens, Australia 1
While we were walking the gardens, a girl passed by. She fitted so perfectly the scenery with her raincoat and umbrella. For a while we walked behind her and I took some photos.
Autumn in National Rhododendron Gardens, Australia 2
Botanical gardens offer a wide variety of flora, sometimes creating very interesting contrasts of sizes, shapes, and colors.
Autumn in National Rhododendron Gardens, Australia 3
After a while we saw this girl again, sitting quietly and watching the lake. I wonder what she was thinking about…
Autumn in National Rhododendron Gardens, Australia 4
And here is the lake that she was watching. What can be more beautiful than colorful reflections in the still waters?
Autumn in National Rhododendron Gardens, Australia 5
The gardens were so beautifully that I couldn’t stop taking photos. The colors hypnotized me.
Autumn in National Rhododendron Gardens, Australia 6 Autumn in National Rhododendron Gardens, Australia 7 Autumn in National Rhododendron Gardens, Australia 8
If you enjoy autumn and photography you can understand 🙂
Autumn in National Rhododendron Gardens, Australia 9 Autumn in National Rhododendron Gardens, Australia 10 Autumn in National Rhododendron Gardens, Australia 11
Hope you enjoyed this little excursion to the National Rhododendron Gardens. Please let me know in the comments below!

Guy Gowan’s Free Fuse Tv

If you are into photography and Photoshop in particular, and you never heard of Guy Gowan, you really should. Guy has a 30+ years of experience in the imaging industry, and his Photoshop workflow is pretty unique. He has a subscription based website, where you can buy an annual subscription and get access to his 100+ tutorials “teaching the art of image processing” as he writes on his website.

I was subscribed for a full year to his website and learned a lot! However, this post is not about the tutorials. Recently Guy added another cool and free (!) feature to his website – Fuse. He describes it as “A new free to view programme featuring new technology, techniques, ideas and personalities from the imaging world”. Basically what Guy does is he puts out every week or so a new Fuse episode, in which he talks about gadgets and various creative things he found on the web. Since Guy is a very smart and creative person himself, naturally he chooses very interesting stuff to talk about, and I find these episodes very interesting. In these days of information overload, I use Guy’s Fuse as a very delicate filter for what to watch and what information to take in.

If I’ve got you interested, you can see the latest Fuse episode here . If you decide to subscribe to Guy’s tutorials and webcasts, please enter my email into the “referrer email” field (greg at photopathway dot com) to show your appreciation 🙂

 

 

 

 

London Bridge Panorama, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

About a week ago I took my family for a short 5 day vacation. We decided to go for a drive along the famous Great Ocean Road here in Victoria. Of course I had my DSLR with me, however I didn’t use it during the noon hours of sunny days. I used my iPhone instead. Here is a panorama I took from the London Bridge viewing platform.

London Bridge, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

London Bridge, Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia

P.S. The photo from the previous post (Apollo Bay) was also taken on this trip.

Photographing still life in studio – how to shoot reflective surfaces

Have you ever tried to shoot still life with bottles or any other glass object? If you did then you know that it is difficult. It is difficult because glass reflects bloody everything. Theoretically I knew that, but I totally forgot about it when I suddenly got the urge to shoot me some bottles 🙂

I realized that only after first few clicks of the shutter, when looking at the back of my camera I saw reflection of me, my camera, ceiling and most of other irrelevant stuff in my studio. Then I started thinking what can I do to eliminate all the reflections.

First thing I did was to turn off all ceiling lights, leaving only modeling lights from the strobes to light the studio. It helped, but I didn’t want the strobes to be reflected in the bottles either. My solution was to place main light under the table pointed at the background, so the main light itself wasn’t visible at all and the bottles were lit from behind. I still had to add some light from the front, and so I did.

In the photo below you can see the reflection of the front soft box ( I cleaned it a bit in post, but it is still visible). This photo is a composite, in which bottles were shot fist and then I shot two additional photos while holding the grapes with two fingers at each side of the bottles. Having camera on tripod all the images were aligned to begin with. Later I loaded them as layers in Photoshop, and masked out my hands from the grapes.

Still life with bottles and grapes

For the next image I didn’t want to have any reflections on the bottle and glass at all, but I still needed to light the vase from the front. Since the vase wasn’t transparent, when I only lit the scene from behind, it was almost totally black. Therefore, to create the image below I shot two photos – first only with back lighting, and the second with additional light from the high left. In Photoshop, again, I loaded the two images as layers into a single file, and used the bottles from the first image and vase from the second.

Still life with bottles

It took me a while to create the image below, and not due to technicalities. On the vast plains of the Internet I saw a few creative still life photos with pears, and felt like trying something creative with them myself. It turned out to be not simple at all (not that I thought it would)! At first I just tried to arrange pears and other items without any intention – just to make something nice. After about an hour I realized that it doesn’t work. Then I put everything aside, and just sat on the couch and thought about what I really wanted to create. I thought about what happened lately in my life and in the world, and little by little ideas started popping into my head and I ended up with the image below, which I call “Examination”

Examination

 The background texture was added later in Photoshop, if you were wondering 🙂

P. S. There is one really cool way to get rid of the reflections of your light sources in the bottles (or any reflective surface), but it requires additional equipment, part of which I didn’t have. You can buy sheets of polarizing gels and put them on your light sources. Also you’ll have to put a polarizing filter on your lens. Then by adjusting the polarizing filter on the lens you will be able to completely eliminate the reflections.

Your comments  and thoughts on this post and my works are very much appreciated, so don’t hesitate to write them in the comment section below !

Early Fall at Alfred Nicholas Gardens

Alfred Nicholas Gardens are usually visited by photographers when Fall comes, and that’s what I wanted to do. However this year I arrived a little early and everything was still green. But it didn’t stop me from taking a few photos. Enjoy!

Upper Ponds at Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens

Arboretum at Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens

Stairs at Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens

Waterfall at Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens

Razor blades

Photographic paint

Olinda Falls, Victoria, Australia

This weekend I took my family to a nice place in Dandenong Ranges here in Victoria – Olinda Falls. Thinking of it I love everything about the Dandenong Ranges forest, it is just beautiful. Having a creek with a few nice little falls is just a bonus. In short, it is a short trek leading from the car park through the forest to the Olinda creek and its falls.

We arrived there at rather late afternoon,  sun was getting lower in the sky, there was humidity in the air as the creek was nearby. This perfect combination led to the photo below.

Near Olinda Falls, Victoria, Australia

Near Olinda Falls, Victoria, Australia


When you arrive at the creek, you have two options – the obvious one would be to use the stairs to reach either the upper viewing platform or the lower one. The less obvious option is to dump the stairs and come closer to the creek. There is a narrow and steep footpath that you can use to scramble up or down along the creek.

Olinda Falls 1, Victoria, Australia

Olinda Falls 1, Victoria, Australia

The advantage of the second option can be recognized mainly by photographers – scrambling along the creek you can see the various cascades of water up close and get many more interesting viewpoints than if you would just use the stairs and shoot only from the viewing platforms.

Olinda Falls 2, Victoria, Australia

Olinda Falls 2, Victoria, Australia

Guess which option I took :). Actually my wife Ira is more adventurous than I am so she led the way carrying our baby daughter Eva in her backpack-chair!

Olinda Falls 3, Victoria, Australia

Olinda Falls 3, Victoria, Australia

Since having our first baby I rarely take my Canon DSLR on our weekend trips with me because it is big and bulky and gets in the way when I need to help with Eva. I usually take the X100 and put it on a small tripod when necessary, so all the photos you see here were taken with it (and processed in Lightroom).

Olinda Falls 4, Victoria, Australia

Olinda Falls 4, Victoria, Australia

It was too bright for long exposures even with the smallest aperture available f16, but then I remembered one great function that x100 has – you can put a virtual ND filter on it! It is simple – in the menu you choose ND filter on. This allowed me to use slower exposure and significantly smooth out the water.

Olinda Falls 5, Victoria, Australia

Olinda Falls 5, Victoria, Australia

Streets of Melbourne

I am not a street photographer by any means, but sometimes I just feel like grabbing a camera and going for a walk. Without any pressure to get good photographs, no expectations either. Just walk the streets of Melbourne, pay attention to what is going on around me and snap a photo or two if I feel like it. This time I only had an iPhone with me. Well, “only” wouldn’t be a fair description, because my iPhone 5 has a very good camera 🙂

Here are some photos from that walk I took.

Restaurant in Carlton, Victoria, Australia

Restaurant in Carlton, Victoria, Australia


When walking around, I can’t resist turning into small, almost invisible, passages. They often lead me to nice secluded places within the busy city. This is how I found this flight of stairs. It took me a while to find an interesting viewpoint that showcases the intricacies of its shape.

Stairway, Carlton, Victoria, Australia

Stairway, Carlton, Victoria, Australia


The photo below was taken in front of a bar (who would’ve thought!). I simply liked this illustration. But as I was standing there, admiring it, an old lady passed by…

Guinnes Bar Window, Melbourne

Guinnes Bar Window, Melbourne


I instinctively snapped a photo and ended up liking it much more than just the window. Can you see why?

Guinnes Bar Window 2, Melbourne

Guinnes Bar Window 2, Melbourne


No street life photo session is complete without a homeless dude.

Day by day

Day by day


Someone threw out this spooky painting and I was tempted to take it with me, but I just took a photo of it instead.

4
This is my favorite photograph of this session. A couple of minutes before it was taken I passed by this nicely dressed lady but couldn’t photograph her. Continuing walking down the street I saw the billboard and it suddenly came together in my head. I then just stood there and waited for the woman to pass by and took this photo.

This Way

This Way


Hope you enjoyed this little virtual tour through few of Melbourne’s streets 🙂

Photography podcast that is worth listening to

I am doing a lot of driving for my work and at some point I got sick and tired of all the Melbourne radio stations and started to think what else I can listen to while driving. The first thing that came to mind was the audio books and I used to listen to them for a while, but then it hit me – podcasts! I started looking around in the podcasts section of iTunes and choosing what to listen to. Naturally I looked for photography related podcasts and found plenty of those. So I got all enthusiastic, subscribed to many different ones, and started to listen to them while on the road.

Then my enthusiasm started to slowly fade away because most of the podcasts were NOT INTERESTING AT ALL. You may say that it is a matter of taste, and I may agree with you, but here is what I felt – people hosting most of the podcasts gave all the standard advice “how to shoot like a pro” stuff that if you are into photography for more than a year sound so obvious and so beaten up. I heard nothing interesting and enriching that was worth listening to. Majority of those podcasts were talking mostly about boring technical stuff and the new gear that was out.

I got to a point where I simply couldn’t listen to this silly jibber-jabber that sounded like an old tape playing again and again, and had to switch to other podcasts (not photography related, such as The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, which is totally awesome by the way!). But recently I decided to look around and see if I can find an interesting photography related podcast, and I got really lucky.

I found The Candid Frame podcast, which is hosted and produced by Ibarionex Perello and edited by Martin Taylor. I think that this is the best photography podcast out there. I have to say that I am not being paid to write this and am not connected in any way to this podcast. I am writing this only because I love this podcast and want to share it with all my readers.

Here is what I like about this podcast – it consists of interviews that Ibarionex conducts with various photographers and people of other creative professions. “Interviews – you’d say – that’s not new! Lot’s of folks do interviews with photographers!” That’s right, but not the way that Ibarionex does them. He prepares thoroughly for each interview, so he knows a lot about the person he interviews, and he asks VERY GOOD QUESTIONS which is so very important to make an interesting and informative interview. Many times the interviewed photographers themselves say “oh my god that’s an excellent question!”. As a result listeners get to really know these people, how they work, think, and feel, and this is for me what makes the podcast captivating. I just want to keep on driving and listen to it.

If you just got interested you can find out more about The Candid Frame Podcast on their website or search for it in the iTunes podcast directory.

 

 

 

 

 

Headache and Photography Copyrights

Many photographers nowadays are concerned with how to protect their photos on the web from others using them and I think this is bullshit for the most part of it. Over the last couple of years I came across lots of forum discussions, blog posts, podcasts, and articles around this issue and I think the main driving force of most people’s complaints about rights violation is greediness.

Here’s the argument I saw the most:

“Well if they found my photo on the Internet, and used it in their project then they should pay me!”

It was the same thing when recently Instagram tried to change their TOS – most of the angry people said “If they use our photos then we should get paid”.  It’s like – if no one uses your photos then anybody can look at them and it is fine by you, but the second you notice that someone makes money off them, then you immediately want a share of that. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that it is allright to steal others work, but something about people’s reaction doesn’t sound right to me.

My take on it – if you want to make money off your photography then take action, do something about it. Create your own website and sell your photos there, upload them to stock photo websites, sell prints. There are many ways you can make money from photographs. Hell people are making money from iPhone photographs. I’m not saying that it is easy, but it is possible. If your photos are any good of course.

If you don’t want anybody to illegally use your photos, don’t share them on the web period. The reality of the current situation is that if I can see your photo on my screen, I can have it. Not in great resolution, but just fine for web applications. If you put your nasty watermarks all over the image then people won’t be able to see your work so that kind of defeats the purpose of putting it online. I am adding my name to my photographs for one reason only – for people who see my photo and like it, to be able to find out more about me. And I am a strong believer in sharing, and not only in photography but also in life – the more you share and give the more benefits you get back from it. Karma thing.

To conclude this rant – my advice to all the people who are loosing sleep being afraid that their amazing photographs are being stolen on the web – stop worrying about it, strive to put as much amazing work out there as you can and promote the shit out of it.

My Recent Images

Recently I’ve noticed that I mostly share my latest photographic works on my Facebook page and decided that it is not fair to my blog readers. Therefore here is some of my latest photographs with short commentary. All images are clickable.

Every landscape photographer knows that it is highly not recommended to shoot landscapes in the high noon or around that time, especially when the sky is clear and there are no clouds to diffuse the sunlight. When the sun is high in the sky, the colors are washed up, the shadows are very harsh, and the contrast between light and shadow is too high for the camera to capture – you’ll have either detail in shadows but burned highlights or normal highlights but completely dark shadow areas. But what if a landscape at noon is exactly what you want to capture?

I tried and this is what I came up with. Shooting RAW enabled me to pull up a bit more details from the shadows in post processing. Overall I think I managed to convey the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the ocean, but its up to you to decide.

It was a cool spring evening, and I knew that sunset was going to be beautiful, but unfortunately I got to the seashore too late. Seeing that I have definitely missed the sunset, I didn’t go to the beach as planned but took this photo instead. The house on the right is pretty mysterious to me. It is very old and decayed, I have never seen anyone in the house, but mysteriously

What can I say, I am a sucker for flowers and beautiful vivid colors, and I can’t ever resist taking photo of a beautiful flower, so here is one more from my collection.

Even though I just said that I like vivid colors, but I can also feel the magic of black and white photographs, and frequently feel that certain images convey they mood better in black and white.

The scene captured in the image below was almost black and white in reality. Stormy weather turned the water black, and clouds to dark shades of gray. I only enhanced this feeling in post processing.

Continuing the b&w theme following are two images that mostly exist in my imagination. I call them “Evening fantasy”… who knows maybe these two will meet each other some day 🙂

Hope you enjoyed watching these images, and as always your comments are much appreciated!

Tribute to Australian Spring

As you well know, it is Springtime in Australia. Everything blossoms and what a beautiful sight it is! Today we went for a short 2h walk along the Somers beach here in Victoria. During this short walk I saw such a huge variety of blossoming flowers that I couldn’t resist and took some photos. Here are just a few of those flowers.

Weekend stroll at Coolart Historic Area

Coolart historic area is located near Somers, a small town approximately 72 km south-east of Melbourne, Victoria, located in the south-eastern corner of the Mornington peninsula. The area includes Coolart historic homestead, nice gardens, and lengthy walks around swamps, inhabited  by various birds species.

Last weekend all three of us took a walk there, and it was a great way to spend time! I won’t go into historic details, I just want to show it to you through my lens.

Walking through the wetlands, depending on time of the day and the year you can see many different bird species. Here is what we saw.

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We also had nice views of the wetlands and surrounding areas.

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The Coolart Mansion looks very interesting. Parks Victoria have done a good job preserving it.

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Both from outside and inside.

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Here are some more interior details. I had a feeling that b&w suits them.

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And finally a view of the mansion from the gardens surrounding it.

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I hope you enjoyed this little virtual trip and will be happy to hear about it in the comments section below 🙂

Birthday Photoshoot

A couple of weeks ago I’ve got another family photoshoot. It was a very nice couple and a cutest little boy Leon who just recently turned 2 so they wanted some photos to remember this age. Parents wanted photos to be taken in the boys’ natural environment – their home and backyard. Therefore for me it was an “on location” photo shoot and I had to bring my lighting equipment.

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When shooting kids in studio you have time to set up all the lighting equipment before the session, but when you come to a family home, chances are you won’t have that luxury. There also might not be enough space for your light stands and stuff, which was exactly the case in this shoot. Lucky for me there was a large window with white curtains that provided a great light source. I also mounted a Canon 430ex speedlight on my camera and used it as additional light source, bouncing the light from the walls and ceiling.

For example, in the photo below I pointed the flash at the ceiling to get Leons’ beautiful long hair to be lit from above.

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With little kids most of the times you have first to earn their trust by playing with them and smiling a lot :), and then you have to react to their movements and catch those brief moments in which they forget about your presence and act naturally. I was also looking to capture various emotions and moods of the child.

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Another good idea is to give a kid something to play with. When Leon saw my large shoot-through umbrella, his eyes lit up with interest and he started to play with it, but it turned out to be too big for him. However his parents found a solution – they gave him a smaller umbrella, which kept him (and me) occupied for a while.

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At some point during the shoot Leon got so comfortable with me and my camera that he started intentionally posing for me. When kids pose for camera it is nothing like when adults do it. Kids are natural, they can’t look “posing for camera” by definition, and I can prove it to you. In the next two photos Leon was intentionally posing for me.

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Could you tell that he was intentionally posing?

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I didn’t think so!

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I enjoyed this photoshoot very much and most importantly – the parents loved my work!

Life is changing

I know I haven’t been around lately, but it was for a good reason! Last week Ira and I welcomed our baby daughter into this world. So this post will be all about her, our dear Eve.

Baby Eve

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Being a photographer-dad, needless to say that already after one week, my hard drive doesn’t have enough space for all the photos I took of her. So I try to force myself to delete some of them. It is really hard, even when as a photographer, I see that the photo isn’t that good… but this is my daughter we are talking about!

Anyway 🙂 watching her for a while I saw that her face is constantly changing, different moods and expressions passing through like clouds in the sky. Sorting the photographs I chose a few of them to post here.

Baby Eve Baby Eve

 

Baby Eve Baby Eve

 

Baby Eve Baby Eve


Hope you enjoyed the photos, and have a nice weekend!

Building Composition

In this post I’d like to talk about composing photographs “after the fact”. Wait, don’t jump to any conclusions just yet, let me explain what I mean.
About a month ago I had to fly to Sydney for work but got stuck at the airport due to bad weather. I spent about two hours sitting in front of the large viewing glass looking at the runways. The weather was indeed stormy, it was dark from all the clouds, and there was nothing to photograph.
But when the weather started to get better, clouds began to clear, and airport started to come back to life, I finally took my camera out and started to stock my prey. I wanted to capture this feeling of the “airport awakening” when the planes begin to approach the runways, and workers move to and fro. Unfortunately no matter how hard I tried or how long I waited, I couldn’t capture the picture I had in mind… at least not in a single frame. Needless to say that I was very disappointed.

Later, when I returned home and went over those photos, my imagination switched gears – I saw details in different photographs, that put together would be able to create that image I had in my mind while shooting. Since I know my way around Photoshop,  I decided to go ahead and try to do that.

I ended up with two images which both have two things in common – both of them I would call “airport awakening”  because they portray the clearing of the storm, and resuming operations of the airport. The second thing is the way in which I created this sense of awakening – with directions. I’ll explain this in more detail by going over the images.

In this first image I have three different “directions”, which go in zig-zag shape leading the viewer’s eye from one element of composition to the next. First is the direction of the two trolleys, which goes from lower right to somewhere in the middle left side of the image, next is the direction of the moving utility vehicle which catches the eye on its way to the left and redirects it towards the upper right corner, and finally the eye reaches the plane and again changes direction to the left ending up on the airplanes in the distance. The floor is still wet from the rain, but the sun starts to shine through, giving the feeling that storm has ended…

Melbourne Airport

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The second image is darker, as if there is still the danger of the storm, but the moving vehicles hint of a hope for good weather. And again, we have the directions theme – from right to left, then from left to right, and finally the plane takes us into the depths of the image.

Melbourne Airport

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The main thing that made the compositing easy was that I shot all the photos from approximately the same location and also I was using the same focal length.

As always your thoughts, suggestions, and critiques are welcome in the comments section below.

Street Candids

Lately I didn’t have much time for photography, so these photos are from couple of months ago.  First three are from Frankston’s waterfront festival.  And the last two were taken at Melbourne Central train station.

The following shot was planned. I saw this couple and was waiting for an expressive moment. I actually took several shots and this is my favorite.
One for grandchildren
I call this photo “Oh My God” :).  I was trying to capture some of the kid’s expressions while riding this… thing, so I made a few shots, and only later saw this quite interesting result.
Oh My God!
In the next photo I really like the hand gestures and little kid’s body language. It is a bit sad but very expressive
Hello and goodbuy
The photo below wasn’t Photoshopped – it is what you can see at the Melbourne Central station if you look straight up. In addition to the 3D effect, I like the shadow/light play on the building.
Coming at ya
The next photo was also taken at Melbourne Central.
Matrix

That’s it for now. I’m off to shoot one of my favorite subjects – the Sunset!

Old Cars Show in Mornington

 

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition
A couple of weeks ago Ira and I visited a collectible cars show at the Mornington’s racecourse. There were lots of beautiful old cars and we had lots of fun.There were also quite a few photographers taking shots of these beauties. But from my photographic perspective, I didn’t want to simply photograph the cars as I am sure there are already many photos of each model that was showcased there.
So instead I tried to look at the event not as “this is a car show, so I am going to photograph cars” but more as “this is a social event featuring nice cars, so there will be people interacting with them, and I want to capture this interaction”. And even when I photographed only the cars I tried to convey how I see them. For example when shooting the b&w Jaguar in the photo above I tried to show the “facial expression” of that car which was kind of “right in your face” 🙂 Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition


We spent about one and a half hours at the show, and just when I thought that I’m done photographing, the car owners began starting up their cars and drive away – it was the end of that day. During the show the cars were standing unattended, while their owners were sitting somewhere in the shadow chatting and drinking coffee, so now it was a great opportunity for me to capture the cars together with their owners, and I tried to make the most of it.

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

 Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

 

From the technical side the biggest problem was the harsh sunlight, which created deep shadows and sharp transitions from light to shadow, so it was difficult to capture both the car and its surroundings and the driver sitting inside the car in the shadow. My solution to that problem was to shoot in RAW and slightly overexpose my photographs. This way in post processing I could lighten up the shadows and darken the highlights (the RAW format gives you a bit of freedom in correcting your exposure).

 

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

 

Hope you enjoyed the photos, and as always – you’re welcome to leave your “creative responses in the comment section below” (© Equals Three) 🙂

Mornington Racecourse Old Cars Exhibition

Blossoming Eucalyptuses

In the summer, here in Australia, Red-flowered gum trees start to blossom. This is a very beautiful sight! The whole tree is covered by marvelous, red-colored flowers. These trees have various hues of red, and when you have the whole street planted with them, the view is stunning!

blossoming eucalyptuses

Click on the photo to enlarge.

But merely this fact wasn’t enough for me to set aside some time on weekend and go photograph them. There was one more thing – early in the morning starting about at 7 o’clock and until about 9 the Rainbow Lorikeets (beautiful little parrots) come to feed on these trees. Most of the chances that you won’t see them later in the day there, but in the morning the blossoming trees are filled with these brightly colored little birds. It is quite simply a celebration of colors!

blossoming eucalyptuses

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I couldn’t miss this event, took my 70-200mm lens, and set out early in the morning to capture the nature at its best :). You can see what came out of that photo session in this post.

blossoming eucalyptuses blossoming eucalyptuses

blossoming eucalyptuses blossoming eucalyptuses

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I needed to have quite a lot of patience as the parrots were restless, kept moving all the time coming out and disappearing in the foliage, but I managed to get a few nice images. Hope you enjoy them!

blossoming eucalyptuses

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The Last Sunset of 2011

Ira and I have a tradition – we always try to spend the New Year’s eve somewhere far from the crowds and close to the nature. This time we spent it on the Ninety Mile Beach in Victoria. There are small pockets of free camping areas in the bush along the coastline, and though we weren’t alone there, when we went for our sunset walk on the beach, there was almost no one there.

last sunset of 2011 #1

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The last Sunset of the year 2011 was beautiful! The clouds slowly changed colors from golden to light pink, and the waves created intricate ever changing patterns on the sand erasing our footsteps as if we weren’t there at all.

last sunset of 2011 #2

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I became fascinated with the different shapes that the surf left on the beach and kept taking photographs, and later I had trouble to choose between them, so in this post you’ll see quite a lot of them.

last sunset of 2011 #4 last sunset of 2011 #3

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I’ve seen many photographers writing their resolutions for the new year. Well I don’t have one other than keep doing what I’ve already been doing, which is “Think and become a better photographer”. And when you think, you might change your opinion on various aspects of photography making your other resolutions obsolete.  But you know, that’s only my opinion 🙂

last sunset of 2011 #6 last sunset of 2011 #5

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last sunset of 2011 #7 last sunset of 2011 #8

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Whatever your resolution for the 2012 might be, I’m wishing everybody a very Happy, Creative, Productive, Peaceful, and Healthy New Year!

Using Your Imagination

Nobody knows what’s inside artist’s mind, so in order to express themselves and to share their visions with the world artists write music, paint, sculpt and use other means of expression. Mine is photography. Sometimes I have these crazy pictures in my mind, and I want to somehow realize them. Since I can’t draw very well, I am trying to do that by other means, currently it is compositing in Photoshop.

Recently an idea popped into my mind – a crazy magician who wanted to help all the thirsty people in the desert and he wanted to use his magic to create a lake in the desert, but something didn’t work right and he created a huge sink… so he sits on one of the knobs and feels blue 🙂

Here’s what came out of this idea:

magician in the desert

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It is a composite of five photos – the background, which is the desert, the magician, the sink, the moon (yes! it is the moon 🙂 ), and the tumbleweeds. I did the composite in black and white because it is easier to blend all the parts together.

And what crazy ideas do you have ?

Seascapes and other issues

Lately I haven’t made much noteworthy photographs… either that or my understanding of what “good photograph” is has changed. Either way I don’t like almost anything that comes out of my camera. And what’s more important, I don’t know how to improve.

I guess I’m just searching now for something… another point of view on the world maybe. This is really confusing for me – to search for something not knowing what it is.

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Nevertheless I keep on shooting and analyzing my work, most of which you will never see here on my blog because I don’t think it is worthy. The photos I included in this post are nice, I like them, but I also think that they are nothing special, just another bunch of seascapes among thousands.

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One of the things that I changed about my photography is that I take much less pictures, and before taking one I stop and think about the composition, about what I want to say with this photograph, what emotions I want my photo to express. And later, when viewing the photo on my computer I try to understand whether I achieved what I wanted or not. Most of the times I don’t.

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Long exposures of the sea and sunsets (just like the one below) simply don’t cut it for me anymore.

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If you have or had similar issues, and have any suggestions, I would be more than happy to hear them.

Nepal In Photographs – Part 2 (Portraits)

This is my second post, in which I write about my photographic experience in Nepal. You can read the first part here. While in the first part I showed you Nepali landscapes, now I’d like to show a few portraits of Nepali people.

Interestingly in some cases people would not let me to take their photographs at first. In that case I would nod in agreement (like, hey I won’t take your photo if you don’t want me to) , point my camera at other subjects, and take a few photos here and there. This would get them interested. Then I would approach them and show them the photos I just made on the back screen. Next thing you know they are posing in front of the camera and running back to me to see the picture. I wished I had a portable printer with me so I could print out and give them their photos.

The photo below was taken on Helambu trek. We were passing a settlement in the hills of Kathmandu valley and made a short break in a nice spot overlooking rice terraces. These women were passing by, and seeing us smoke asked for a cigarette. In return we asked to take their photos 🙂

Hardworking Nepali Women

1/200sec at f3.5, 28mm | Click on the photo to enlarge.

One of the settlements on Helambu trek is Golphu Banyang. It has only one main “street” and not many tourists are staying there overnight, trying to reach the next village of Khutumsang. But it so happened that we did stay there, and I had the whole evening to photograph local kids. Once I showed them a photo on my camera they wouldn’t stop posing, only downside being late time of the day and, as a result, very dim light.

Kids Are Always Kids

1/500sec at f2.8, 100mm | Click on the photo to enlarge.

The photo below was also made at Golphu Banyang on the following morning when we were leaving the village. The evening before I saw this old man in the same pose, doing the same thing, but it was too dark to make a good photo. In the morning though, there was this beautiful ray of light, lighting perfectly his face and hand. The result you can see below.

Working Man

1/160sec at  f3.2, 28mm | Click on the photo to enlarge.

On our way to Gosainkund Pass we stopped at one of the two lodges in Phedi. The lodge was run by a Sherpa couple. While woman was preparing our dinner, we were chatting to the man. Well at least we tried. Even though he seemed to be speaking English fluently, I realized that we hardly understand each other. In any case the conversation turned out to be very interesting and we learned a lot about local animals… or at least we think we did 🙂

I took the following shot of this man in the lodge’s dining room in very poor light, hence the f1.8 and 1/30sec. This is one of several shots I made trying to get his eyes to be sharp, which was difficult with f1.8 and his constant movement.

Also Maybe Yak?

1/30sec at f1.8, 28mm | Click on the photo to enlarge.

Continuing from Phedi up to the Gosainkund Pass we reached a lonely lodge standing in a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains above and the valley below. Ram Sherpa, the owner of the lodge kindly agreed to be photographed. Ram was fixing holes made by some rodents in his rice bags when we reached his lodge. I liked the window lighting on him, which created definitive shadows on his face.

Ram Sherpa

1/200 at  f3.2, 28mm | Click on the photo to enlarge.

The man below is a Tibetan refugee living now in Nepal, in a village named Melamchi Gyang. He has a Dalai Lama badge on his hat, and he runs a small tourist lodge in the village. He asked me to take his picture and said I should bring him the photo when I come visit again… I wonder if there are any postal services to this village.

Refugee from Tibet

1/100sec at f8, 28mm | Click on the photo to enlarge.

In one of our final days in Nepal we went to an ancient city of Bhaktapur. It is about 30 minutes drive from the touristy Thamel, and it well worth a visit! One of my future posts on Nepal will probably consist solely of Bhaktapur’s photos. Bhaktapur is the third largest city in Kathmandu valley, and was once the capital of Nepal during the great Malla Kingdom until the second half of the 15th century. It is also listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork ((C) Wikipedia).

In addition to all the heritage sites, there are many shops for tourists. Walking around I saw a large Mandala shop and a woman drawing Mandalas for sale right there. If you saw mandalas you know that it is a very laborious task, which requires concentration and devotion. And look, she also holds the canvas by herself!

Nepali Woman Drawing Mandala

1/500 at f4.5, 20mm | Click on the photo to enlarge.

All in all I can say that people in Nepal are open and friendly to tourists, which doesn’t deny them to try and make as much money as they can from them.

As always your comments are highly appreciated!

 

 

Nepal In Photographs Part 1

As I promised, in the next posts I will write about my photographic experience in Nepal. To get everyone up to date – recently I took a rather long vacation of almost one month and went with my life partner Ira and one good friend to a trekking trip in Nepal. As always my camera was with me, but since we didn’t hire a porter (or a guide) I couldn’t take just any photo equipment that I wanted.

I was facing a hard decision – which lenses can I take with me and not add too much weight to my already heavy backpack? And here’s the list of the photo equipment that I took:

  • Canon 40D body. This wasn’t really a choice since this is the my only DSLR.
  • Canon EF-S 10-22mm
  • Canon EF 100mm f2.8 macro
  • Sigma 28mm f1.8
  • 4 Spare batteries, 2 circular polarizers (different diameters), lightweight SLIK tripod

Let me explain my choice of lenses. Even though I have two Canon L-series lenses (70-200 f4 and 24-70 f2.8) I didn’t take them with me for one simple reason – they weigh too much. Instead I decided to go mostly with prime lenses, which are much smaller and lighter but still produce very good quality photographs even though they are not from L-series. Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens is known for its superb quality, and after shooting with Sigma 28mm f1.8 for a while I saw that it is also a very good lens though it has some minor issues with lens flare. In addition I took the Canon EF-S 10-22mm, which is known for its good quality-to-price ratio. In this case I didn’t have much of a choice since it is the only wide angle lens I have, and you can’t go trekking in Himalayas without a wide angle lens, can you?

The only thing I could’ve taken less of were the batteries. I found out that for a nine day trek I only need two batteries. But I must say that I didn’t use the live view, which is known for its ability to drain power quickly.

Our first trek was the famous Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) trek. In order to get to its beginning, we had to fly from Kathmandu to Pokhara (second largest city in Nepal) and then take taxi (~1h drive) to Phedi. Phedi is a small village, in which ABC trek starts with a long climb via stone stairs.

Before setting off to the ABC trek we had a rest day in Pokhara. One of the main attractions of this town is Pokhara Lake. For 300 Nepalese rupees you can take one of the boats below for a 1-hour sail. Add 50 more rupees and you’ll also get a boats-man.

1/60sec at f5.6, 28mm | Click on the photo to enlarge.

The next photo happened almost by accident. It was raining all morning that day, and we got completely wet, walking carefully not to slip on wet rocks. The heavy backpacks made it that much harder to keep balance, and we seldom shifted our eyes from the ground. It was a hard climb, and while we were getting near its ending, the skies suddenly cleared, and then we reached this house. I saw the mountain and the dog, which was laying calmly. My hand instinctively reached for the camera, suddenly a man appeared from the house adding final touch to this photo.

1/200sec at f9, 28mm | Click on the photo to enlarge.

On our ABC trek, as a general rule the weather was at its best early in the morning, 5 – 6am, sometimes until 8, then gradually clouds came in and covered everything. And then again weather would improve at about 4 – 5pm. Of course it was only usually like that, and different variations were possible, but our most certain bet would be to get up as early as we could. If we wanted to have clear view of the peaks that is. And as you can imagine – I really, and I mean REALLY wanted to see the peaks!

The next shot was taken early in the morning and the mountain peak that you can see on the right called “Fish Tail”. Locals call it Machapuchare, and revere it as very sacred to the god Shiva. This makes Fish Tail forbidden for climbing.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Unfortunately, good colorful sunsets were rare because at sunset time the skies were usually covered with clouds, and the next photo is one of the very few I made during sunset time. But that particular sunset was marvelous! The orange colors changed hues constantly, and I made a dozen photos trying to capture them. I only wish there would be slightly less clouds so that more of the snowed mountains were visible.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

While two photos above were taken looking up at the mountain peaks, they are not the only attraction in Himalayas. When you are at high altitude, looking down can take your breath away as easily as looking up. The next photo was taken in the morning looking down on the “small” hills of Annapurna National Park. Some of these hills are higher than the highest  mountains in Europe (let alone Australia), but they still look tiny in this vast landscape.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

This is it for my first post in the Nepali series, and I hope you enjoyed it.

Let me know what you think, and what photographs and information would you like to see in my next posts on Nepal. This is what the comments are for!

 

Walk in the bush

I just realized that even though I love photographing flowers, I haven’t shown much of them here. But hey, don’t worry! I’m here to fix that 🙂

A couple weeks ago me and Ira went hiking in the Bunyip State Park here in Victoria. To be honest there wasn’t much to photograph, at least where we were hiking, as it was mostly plain and boring eucalyptus forest.

 

Click on the photo to enlarge.

But when there are no breathtaking views around me, I take out my macro lens and start looking for the little things. And there were quite a few beautiful flowers there. Macro photography in the nature has its own tricks. Aside from artistic aspects such as choosing the subject, angle, composition etc., there are technical issues that should be thought of.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

When shooting Macro, even the slightest movement of your subject can result in loss of focus. So having that in mind I would suggest shooting at shutter speeds above 1/100 sec. It is more difficult with choosing apertures because that would be part of an artistic choice. Generally speaking, the wider your aperture, the faster shutter speed needs to be.

Now, you’re probably going to ask me – what about tripod? Well tripod can be a huge help, but it is not a “complete solution” to all your problems, because when shooting in the nature you have wind, and even if your camera is dead still on your sturdy tripod, one blow from the wind and your flower moves out of the focus area.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Personally, I find using tripod in macro shots too constraining. Tripod gets in my way when I circle around my subjects looking for a nice spot to shoot from, especially when there are fast moving clouds in the sky and the lighting conditions change constantly.

Of course there are conditions in which using tripod would be very beneficial. For example picture this: Early morning, everything stands still. The insects are sleeping inside flowers covered with droplets of dew. The morning light is beautiful, and a little dim. This is the perfect time to use tripod – you would have enough time to put the camera in place, choose the composition and shoot away.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Here, have a look at this plant, at first I thought it was a giant caterpillar 🙂

Click on the photo to enlarge.

When I had enough of shooting macro, I started looking for a “bigger” subjects to put in front of my lens. I liked the moss on this huge stone. By the way, it is still a mystery to me how this huge stone ended up in the forest… it probably got there before these trees grew up.

I think I’ve already mentioned it in one of my previous posts – it is very difficult to take interesting pictures of forests, and if you just see a nice section of forest, point your camera at it and shoot, chances are that the photo won’t be of any artistic value.

In order to make your photo of the forest interesting, you must find a point of interest, something for the eye of the viewer to rest upon.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

And finally, here is one of my favorite photos from that hike. Ira serves as a good reference point to show the scale of this place.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

What are your favorite macro tips? I am always willing to learn new stuff!

How Ideas Come To Life

Thinking of it, maybe I should’ve titled this post “story of an idea” because I will be talking about creation of one particular image. But I eventually I decided on the current title because the way this creation emerged from the depths of my imagination is one of the most common ways.

A few weeks ago I had a photo session with Ira, in which my primary goal was to try some new lighting techniques that I thought of. In that shoot I decided to focus on close up portraits (chest line and up). I experimented with different backgrounds and asked Ira to put on a few different shirts.

At first nothing was working for me. The lighting was bad, and I didn’t get any interesting results… but then again, I didn’t start this shoot with a specific idea in mind – it’s like that phrase from Alice in wonderland:

– In which direction should I go?

– It depends on where do you want to arrive

But I felt inspired that day and just kept on shooting and trying to get some nice shots. At one point Ira suggested adding an accessory – a piece of white semi transparent white fabric that she had, and I agreed to try it – it is a good idea to listen to your model, especially when you are out of ideas 🙂

Trying different variations we came up with this photograph:

Click on the photo to enlarge.

I liked it, but quite frankly it lacks an idea behind it. I looked at this photo and thought “nice photo! but what am I trying to tell with it?”. And I couldn’t find an answer. So I forgot about this photo for a while and focused on other tasks.

After a while (a few days have passed since the shoot), when I was watching a Phlearn Pro photoshop tutorial (which by the way was magnificent!), suddenly an idea emerged in my mind. I remembered this photo of a spider’s web that I took:

Click on the photo to enlarge.

And it suddenly got layered, in my mind, onto that photo of Ira holding white fabric, as if she was holding the web itself. I rushed into photoshop to try it, to see how it looks in reality. It was nice but still something was missing… what was it? The spider of course. So I searched the net for images of spiders and chose the one I liked the most. Then I brought it as a layer into my working file, and converted the spider to be pure black.

Now I needed to find a meaningful placement for the spider. I tried different variations before I came up with the final result, which you can see below. I call this image “The Way Up” :

The Way Up...

Click on the photo to enlarge.

By describing my creative process on one particular image I wanted to show one of the many ways creative ideas come to life – they are not always pre-conceived, and sometimes, as it was in this case, they develop step by step over time, graduating slowly towards the end result.

What do you think about the final image? Your thoughts, comments, and suggestions are always appreciated!

Melbourne’s Street Life

Recently I had a chance to walk around Melbourne’s CBD, and I got fascinated with the wealth of photographic opportunities! You just have to keep your eyes open. I think such walk with a camera could also be a great exercise for any photographer. I have to admit, I just did it for fun… and I loved it!

Ok, let’s see what I’ve got for you this time:

Click on the photo to enlarge.

The photo above is one of my favorites from that walk. There are several compositional connections in it, and while not all were intentional, nevertheless they all contribute to the composition. The most emphasized being the people sitting on the benches, three of them using their mobile devices and the fourth person might or might not use his device, and this fact creates additional interest. Another connection is between the walking man on the foreground left, and the walking woman on the background – these figures are connected with a virtual diagonal line. Third compositional connection is between two standing figures in the background. There is also an additional connection which I won’t mention here – think for yourself what is it and write your conclusion in the comments below.

Overall, I think, this photo creates a pretty good picture of “urban life”.

I took the next photo in one of the alleys. The restaurant wasn’t open just yet, but in the kitchen it was business as usual as they were preparing for opening. You must see this photo in a bigger size (just click on it). Walking through that alley first I was fascinated by the graffiti on the walls and then I saw the kitchen staff working inside, and immediately noticed the contrast of the inside/outside. I took a position in which the reflections of the graffiti on the opposite wall would be most visible in the windows to give a better idea to the viewer regarding the outside world, and waited for the one of the workers to make any articulate move. The result you can see below.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

The photo below… yes, I know, photographing reflections and turning the photo upside down had become a corny trick, but in this case I just couldn’t help myself.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

The next photo shows a true moment of interaction between two people (my opinion of course), and this is why I like it so much. Catching  such moments is not as easy as it might seem (people are interacting all the time after all!), and I got lucky with this one.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Here is another little urban story… I wonder if all the cups belong to this girl 🙂

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Next photo is an interesting one as there is a compositional conflict of directions… I just made this term up! Here’s what I mean – the group of teenagers are all looking left, also the “one way” arrow points to the left – all making the viewer wonder what’s there, and then you have the man standing in the center of the composition facing straight to the right, and even though I used the word “conflict” in my description of the photo, I still think that it is compositionally balanced because the compositional weight of the group of teenagers and the arrow is balanced by the weight of the man, though he is a single person opposed to the group, but he is in the center and his “sense of direction” is stronger.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

I have mixed feelings about the last photo, but I still decided to present it here. What I like about it is that it is a collage without any photoshop, and also a slight surrealistic feel that it communicates. What do you think? I would appreciate any thoughts on this one.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

As always, your comments are appreciated!

Photography As Form Of Art – Free PDF Download

Everyone following my blog must’ve noticed that lately I am getting into more serious study of photography as form of artistic expression. In Photopathway it all started with my post “Wisdom Of Photography” where I wrote about my exploration of an old book about art of photography. Next came the post “About the Attitude Toward One’s Own Artistic Endeavours”  , in which I tell about wonderful Czech photography magazine “Revue Fotografie” from the 1960s. In that post I also presented my translation of one of the articles I liked the most in that magazine.

In this post I continue in the same direction but with a slightly different approach – I created a photo album (in PDF file) containing most of the photographs from the 3/1961 issue of “Revue Fotografie”, which I would like to share with as many aspiring photographers as possible by making this PDF file available for free download.

In the photo album I also wrote a foreword article outlining my reasons for creating it. Let me share parts of the foreword here, and make sure you download the album by clicking on the banners above or below.

“… I strongly believe that in order to advance in photographic vision and skills, one has to learn from the masters. Not to copy their work, but to understand what actually good photography is. Looking at good photographs one can begin to understand what do the words ‘photographic vision’ mean, and also to learn how to powerfully express thoughts, feelings, and emotions through a photograph.
Nowadays, one of the most serious problems lying on the path of any aspiring photographer, is the enormous amount of mediocre photographs presented everywhere, making it hard, especially for the beginner, to distinguish between real works of art and a ‘nice wrapping without the stuffing’.
So what am I presenting in this photographic album?
To explain that, first I have to tell you about a photographic magazine “revue Photographie” that was published four times a year in Czechoslovakia between 1950s and 1990s in several languages. Don’t  even try to compare it to most of currently published photography magazines, which are filled with advertisement and “shoot like a pro” articles!
In its early years “revue Photographie” was considered one of the (if not THE) best photo magazines in the world. Founder and editor-in-chief of the magazine during 1950s and 1960s was Václav Jírů, a very talented photographer himself, whose photographs are now being displayed in museums and sold on auctions.
Václav Jírů selected and approved most of the photographs, making the magazine a true work of art. In today’s terms it would be comparable to 1x.com. Of course photographs weren’t the only asset of the revue. The articles too were very educational and informative, dealing not only with questions of photographic techniques but also with more important issues such as:
                                                      – Photography as form of art
                                                      – Moral obligations of the photographer
                                                      – Place of photography among other art forms
and many more.
Even during the time it was published, “revue Photographie” was very sought after, and not easy to acquire, not to say about nowadays.
I got very lucky to lay my hands on one of the issues. It is the third issue of the year 1961, published in Russian. I happen to know Russian so I had an enormous pleasure reading it. One of the articles was simply too good to not share it, so I translated it to English and you will find it on the next page. The photographs, on the other hand, don’t require my translation, and are there for everybody to look at, learn, and appreciate.
In this photographic album I arranged most of the photos from the 3/1961 issue of the revue. I hope that many aspiring photographers will get to see this album, enjoy, and learn from the photographs presented in it.
I will continue my search for other issues of “revue Photographie”, translate its best articles, and put up its photos here, on the pages of my blog… “

Feel free to share this album with anyone who you think can benefit from it, and I would appreciate any feedback regarding this album in the comments section below this post or to my email – greg at photopathway dot com.

 

Sunrise Walk

Lately Ira and I adopted a new habit – we get up early in the morning and go out for a walk in the neighborhood before work. It is winter in Australia so we have late sunrises and early sunsets, therefore we often start our walk before the sunrise, and have the joy of witnessing it to the fullest.

From photographer’s point of view not just any sunrise, as well as sunset, is perfect for landscape photography. Of course it all depends – whether there are too many or too few clouds in the sky, if it was raining at night (if it was, there is a good chance of having crystal clear atmosphere with bright colors), if there is morning mist. It is also depends on your subject obviously, and on how you intend to photograph it – for example what quality of light do you need.

Anyway, I am talking about simple walk here, with no specific intentions. In this case good sunrise colors and interesting cloud formations can help a lot in creating interesting photographs.

Here, see for yourself:

 

Click on the photo to enlarge.

I liked the sunrise-lit sky very much,  and decided to make it the main subject of the photo above. I only had to find a decent framing for it.

I decided to call the photo below “Absense”… can you think why? If you have an idea please write it in the comments section below.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Next photo shows a location that I’ve photographed many times, but under this light, I think it looks the best. I am bothered a little bit with the foreground, but I still like this photo very much. Many things come together here – as I already mentioned the light is beautiful, the depth is depicted nicely by the three planes – the foreground, the “middleground” with the white houses and the background plane is emphasized by the piece of land sticking out. The winding road takes the viewer’s eye smoothly through the planes, and the lonely car in the middle-left adds to the overall mood of the photograph.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

I took the photo below because of two main reasons – one, to show the beautiful cloud shapes and sky colors colors, and two, to emphasize the pure graphic nature of the tree branches, which are very eloquent when depicted as silhouettes. I think that the plain poles in the middle add nice perceptual contrast to the intricate shapes of the trees.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Next photo is simply here for you to enjoy.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

I call the next photo “The victory of Light over Darkness”. Again the main interest in it is the sky, but without having interesting shapes of houses on the foreground I wouldn’t take it.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Here’s couple more photos from the same walk taken after the sunrise, when the sky wasn’t so interesting anymore and I had to concentrate on other things 🙂

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Feel free to leave your thoughts, suggestions, and other comments in the section below.

I’m off to take some photos, be back soon!

 

Creating Dynamics In The Shot

Yesterday I visited Melbourne’s CBD, and had a chance to take a few photos in Docklands area. Afterwards, when I was going through them on my computer (most of them weren’t anything special 🙂 ) , one photo grabbed my attention.

Here it is:

Dialog

Click on the photo to enlarge.

When I was making it, I simply thought it would be a good idea to capture the singer on the big screen in an interesting pose so that I would have both, statue and singer ‘posing for the camera’.

But when I was looking at the photo later, on my computer screen, I’ve noticed that it has very ‘dynamic’ feel. I could feel the movement of the statue, as if it was a live person. So I started thinking – why is that happening? Why is the statue, which didn’t look that much ‘alive’ in reality, came to life in my photograph?

And here is my conclusion: it is because I created Interaction between the statue and the singer. It looks like the statue ‘responds’ to the movement of the singer, and since we all have no doubts that the singer is a live person, that feeling also ‘spills’ onto the statue.

It is very interesting effect, which can be used when photographing other situations. Even with this same statue – if instead of singer a real person would be somehow interacting with the statue, it would also make the statue come to life. For example imagine a bunch of kids dancing around it.

As always your thoughts and comments are highly appreciated!

About the Attitude Toward One’s Own Artistic Endeavours

In one of my recent articles titled “Wisdom Of Photography” I shared with you, my readers, some of the interesting thoughts about photography that I found in an old photography book. After finishing that book, I continued my search after interesting old photography related material, and I found a magnificent Czech magazine named “Revue Fotografie”, which was published four times a year in the middle of the 20th century (approximately from 1960s to 1990s). This magazine was widely considered to be one of the best photo magazines in the world at the time. It was also translated from Czech to some other languages including German, and Russian. The specific issue that I found was Russian edition of third magazine in 1961.
I can’t even begin to describe how much I was impressed with the articles and photographs presented in this magazine! But as always, I want to share some of the wisdom I learned from it. I am aware of the fact that my blog becomes more and more serious, but after all – it is my path in photography, and it is what it is.
From the magazine, I particularly liked one article. I translated it to English and sharing it here. While reading it, please have in mind that it was written in Czecho-Slovakia in its “Communism” period. I tried to omit as much as possible the parts which are not relevant to our times, but most of the article is as relevant to photography now as it was back then. Along with the translation I am also including a few of the photographs from the pages of the magazine.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Carel Gibner - 'An Area'

Carel Gibner – ‘An Area’. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Written by Tamara Shevchenko, translated by Greg Brave

About the Attitude Toward One’s Own Artistic Endeavours

One of the most gratifying things in our work as editors of the “revue Fotografie” are the letters from our readers, and whole stacks of them! In these letters many photographers share with us their plans and views on photography. Often they write about their lives, and are being very demanding, as only sincere friends can be, towards the work of our magazine. The sincerity and friendliness of our addressees pleases our editorial staff, and countless praises awakens the desire to devote ourselves even more to our work.

Often, however, warm, friendly, and sincere letters are accompanied by poor, indistinctive, similar to hundreds other, photographs. One couldn’t help not to think about it. Why it is so? Why in such a wealth of different destinies, characters, and points of view, people who pick up cameras, try to reproduce overused themes or to emulate the masterpieces instead of revealing their own true selves?

Here we will not touch on the subject of talent and lack of it. In any case I don’t think the question of talent should be only regarded as a “gift of God”.

L.Fischer, Austria 'Secret'

L.Fischer, Austria – “Secret”. Click on the photo to enlarge.

As we all know, Leonardo da Vinci was the first to develop laws of perspective for painting. And since then young artists don’t need to wait for “divine intervention” in order to rediscover these laws as they can all be learned from Leonardo. The cultural heritage of humanity is freely available to everybody. Therefore, looking through hundreds of photos, again and again I wonder if the inexpressiveness, impersonal nature, and similarity of them is in reality a hypocrisy and insincerity of the photographer towards himself?
Such an amateur photographer, having read on the front page of our magazine the words “review of artistic photography” immediately decides: “let’s send them photos of trees, water, sunset, or cloudy skies”… and our editorial office receives hundreds of photos of trees, water, sunsets etc. as if these subjects are the true discovery and revelation to the people.

L.Fischer, Austria 'Curiosity'

L.Fischer, Austria ‘Curiosity’. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Art arose from the desire of the artist to tell about himself. After all, even when artist speaks about his surroundings, or events that he witnessed, he in fact tells us about himself, about things seen through his own eyes. And magnificent art, which survived its creators, was created by the artist’s ability to see things so originally and so deeply, as nobody saw ever before him.

If a person does not want to talk about himself, he is silent. But if a person is not silent, if he picks up a camera and tries to use photography as an art form because he feels that its means of expression fit him the most of all other forms of art, such person should not be afraid to create his own artistic statement. It is the right and the privilege of any human being of our modern times – to find and acknowledge the meaning of his own life, express it, and strive to live the life of significance, brightness, and excitement, to find one’s self.

A.Zybin - 'In Art Gallery'

A.Zybin – ‘In Art Gallery’. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Of course, one should still photograph trees, waves, and sunsets, but the photographer must be an artist, a person who can see the landscape in his own original way. We are surrounded by a huge variety of things, creatures, and destinies, but we ignore them, hiding behind the undeniable beauty of the generally recognised subjects. In our photographs we avoid expressing the controversial, the unresolved issues within and around us.

We often comfort our self-esteem with the dream of our existence in true art by imitating famous photographs thinking that by doing that we can’t go wrong.

Equally wrong is the way of those who constantly increase the color saturation of their photographs (this can be understood not only directly, but also metaphorically – Greg’s note). This is an evidence to one’s inability to appreciate the beauty of life, to prefer real life’s beauty to the artificial one.

Leopold Fischer - "In a Storm"

Leopold Fischer – ‘In А Storm’. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Our editorial office received one curious objection from one of our readers, condemning the photo of patterns created by foam on water, and other such photos in our magazine, which the reader personally didn’t like. From his letter I understood that many years of age separate this person from his childhood, and apparently also from the fresh, lively, and direct perception of the things around him. Childhood memories, though naive, are very profound. In childhood one sees things, so to say, up close (like in macro – Greg’s note). A small blade of grass is visible down to its root, a crack in the pavement is scary because it is deep and unexplored, thick walls of old buildings – what a fertile ground for imagination! These were just a few examples of course.

Yaroslav Parcovsky - 'Time Walks The Earth'

Yaroslav Parcovsky – ‘Time Walks The Earth’. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Over time a person learns to evade the puddles, not to climb up on every obstacle on his way, not to drag a stick along the fence. And learning manners is generally a good thing. But how many interesting things start to slip away from our attention as we grow up! In true artists many recognize soul of a child. Maybe this “childishness” actually is a profound understanding of things around us, the ability to see them “up close”.

Miroslav Yodas - 'Construction'

Miroslav Yodas – ‘Construction’. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Therefore isn’t it better to be more curious of things surrounding us, which may even sometimes irritate one’s “untrained” perception, and not condemn them unconditionally just because they are perceived as something not usually shown in photographs?

Yuri Gantman - 'In The Morning's Silence'

Yuri Gantman – ‘In The Morning’s Silence’. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Family Photo Shoot – How I Did It

I think that this is how many photographers start their venture into the realm of professional photography (by “professional” I mean paid jobs): I photographed my friend’s kid, then his friend saw the photos, got excited and offered me the job.

He asked me to make portraits of his one year old son and of the whole family. Needless to say that I agreed. Even though nowadays everyone has a digital camera, and any parent snaps tons of family photos, there are many people who still appreciate good photography, and can tell a great portrait from snapshot. Still, the job of photographer is harder now than ever before – his photos has to stand out of thousands of such snapshots.

So let me share my experience from this family photo shoot.

First of all I talked to the guy and asked him what did he expect from the shoot. This is very important – you have to be absolutely clear in regards to what your client expects from you. Here are some example questions to ask your client:

– How many digital photos (in files, not printed) does he expect to receive?

– Does he want prints, or just the digital files?

– Agree on the time frame for you to deliver the photos

– Does he want any artistic post processing?

– Which portraits exactly does he want – of the whole family only, individual portraits only, both, or maybe he has some kind of special request.

– Ask your client if he can show you (from internet or his friends) examples of photos that he particularly liked.

-If the shoot is to be held at client’s house ask the client about the dimensions of the house, and whether he wants the shots to be studio-like, because in that case you’ll have to bring your own background.

 

 

Click on the photo to enlarge.

In my case client already saw my work and he said that he wants something of that kind. What he saw was portrait of a child tightly cropped and processed in sepia tones. In addition he said that he would like similar kind of photo but of the whole family. He also said that he doesn’t need a lot of photos, just a portrait or two that will remain for the years to come.

 

Click on the photo to enlarge.

The photo above is my favorite from that shoot. I love the kid’s look, and his inviting hand that “takes” the viewer’s hand and leads him into the child’s world…

Sorry, I got distracted… where were we? Ah, the expectations! So after talking to the client I understood his demands, and tried to fulfill them during the shoot.

 

Preparing for the shoot

I did this shoot at the client’s house, so I’ll describe my preparations for that specific case.

– Most important thing: Lighting. Even if the shoot takes place during daylight, if it is indoors there might not be enough sunlight, so you’ll have to bring your lighting equipment. I had a light stand, two strobes, a white shoot-through umbrella and a soft box.

– Lenses. If your client doesn’t have a lot of space in the house, you might not be able to use your favorite telephoto lens for portraits, which is too bad as it creates lovely bokeh :).

For portraits I used two lenses – Canon 24-70mm f2.8L and Canon 100mm f2.8 macro.

– Memory cards, backup batteries, cleaning cloth etc. Though this might seem trivial, but forgetting any of these (well cleaning cloth excepted) can cost you the photo shoot. If you bring strobes, then don’t forget backup batteries for them.

 

Click on the photo to enlarge.

The Shoot

Don’t be late. This is very importantit shows how seriously you take your job.

As a photographer you will benefit from being an open and communicative person. Talking freely and openly with people you are about to photograph makes them feel more comfortable with you and in front of your camera, and enables you to capture their natural expressions.

Shooting little kids is difficult because you can’t just ask them to be still, sit at one place, smile, or play with their toys. So you have to improvise. It is a good thing to ask parents for help. In my case the kid’s mother played with him and I was able to catch some nice facial expressions and poses.

 

Click on the photo to enlarge.

When we got to shoot the family portrait, at first parents had difficult time keeping the child still in front of the camera, but then they gave him father’s cellphone, and it was a bingo!

 

After the Shoot

We agreed that I will deliver the finished photos within a week from the shoot, but I delivered them in tree days, reasons being first of all because I love processing photos and couldn’t wait to see what I can do with the “raw material”, but also because I think it is a good little marketing trick. When people expect to receive a product in certain amount of time, but they receive it earlier than that, provided that the product is good, they feel even better about your services.

The most important thing that I’d like to leave you with is: Don’t be afraid to try! Don’t think that you can’t do it, and the client won’t like your photos. If you love photography, and someone offers you the job – Take It! You can read a thousand articles on the subject (including this one), but they won’t give you the same experience you’ll get from the actual shoot.


Click on the photo to enlarge.

 

An Evening In June

From time to time I get a chance to catch a nice sunset, and my regular readers are already used to my “sunset” posts, like the one from February 2011. I use the term “sunset photos” loosely as for me these are also photos made some time after the sunset, and sun is not present in the frame.
This is one of such posts but with a twist that this time I started photographing at sunset and the session seamlessly (for me) continued into night photography.
All the photos in this post were taken on the same evening and will be presented chronologically so you can get a faint feel of how the light changed.
It all started, as usual, with our daily evening walk on the beach. It was raining earlier this day, and I know from experience that usually, after rain, the sunset light is beautiful, so I took a tripod with me just in case. No need to mention that my camera comes with me all the time.
I’ve also noticed that the best time to photograph sunset on the beach (at least in my area) is during the low tide – there are these “ponds” of water left by the retreating ocean, the water is calm, and there is more room on the beach to choose location.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

In the 10 months I live in Australia I already took hundreds of pictures of the Frankston pier. This time I thought to make it a bit more interesting, and having a tripod made the following photo possible. It took us several takes to get it right, as the light was low and thus exposure was long, so we had to be pretty steady. I converted the initial result to black and white and dramatically increased the contrast, to make Ira and me into silhouettes.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

The following photos were made long after the sunset and it was getting darker by the minute, but tiny fraction of light was still remaining to light up the sky just enough.

I liked the reflection of the bridge as if it was completing a circle. It was also a bit unusual point of view as this bridge is usually photographed facing the ocean, while I was looking at it from the opposite direction.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

I like the simplicity of the next photograph as all the interesting details in it are concentrated in the narrow strip located in upper third. The shapes of the clouds are beautiful, and so is the light, which seems to come from the city lights. I think this photo can make for a great wallpaper.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

The last photo was made when there was no sunlight left, making the reflections of the light vividly visible. I liked the straight lines of the pier, the shore, and the light poles in contrast with the slightly distorted reflections in the water.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

What are your experiences with sunset / night photography?

Feel free to post your experiences and links to your photos in the comment section below.

Wisdom Of Photography

My fellow readers, I am glad to meet you here on my blog and in this article in particular! I have to warn you though – the article that you are going to read is by far the most serious and in-depth piece of text I’ve ever written in this blog. So if you don’t feel like going deep into some photography related subjects, feel free to browse my other articles, which are “lighter” and have nice photos to go with the text.

These days I’m reading a book named “The Poetry of Photography”. It is a book by two russian authors Mikhalkovich and Stigneev published in 1989. It talks about different aspects of photography as form of Art, comparing it to pictorial art, and trying to explain various definitions found in photography such as various genres in photography, composition, use and qualities of space in photographs and much much more.
I have to say that I’m really learning so much from it, but it is also very demanding, meaning that I have to think hard about the material presented in the book in order to fully take it in.
While reading, I write down aside the key sentences and concepts offered in the book and continue to think about them. In this article I would like to share some of these concepts. I really tried to translate them from Russian as precise as I could, and I will also provide more explanation for each saying.
Take a deep breath and let’s begin.

1. “Picture is a visual statement. Every statement possesses in itself three kinds of relations. Firstly it relates to the “speaker” (the one who makes the statement), secondly it relates to the depicted subject, and finally it relates to the ones who take it in.”

Basically it means that when you take a photo, first of all it means something to you, since you have a certain idea as to why you took this photo the way it is. Then this photo shows something, a portrait, landscape, still life, as if to say that when you take the photo you see a certain scene (object, person) through your own “filter” of consciousness, but the photo still shows a piece of reality which has a quality of its own. And thirdly this photograph looks “differently” to the viewer because he looks at it through his own “filter”.

To me this is a really profound thought, and having this in mind when photographing helps me to create more meaningful photographs.

2. “The impact of the photograph, the impression of it, lies not within the photograph itself, but within us, the viewers.”

This is a kind of elaboration to a third part of the previous saying. While seeming pretty straight forward, I find it to be deeply profound. You can also look at it this way – the same exact photograph can be very meaningful to one person, while being completely indifferent to another. I think that the best photographs out there are very meaningful to large groups of people.

3. This one is a saying by Siegfried Kracauer (1889-1966, a German-Jewish writer, journalist, sociologist, cultural critic, and film theorist). I tried to translate it as precisely as I could:

“Taking in the material “frozen” and presented by the photograph, the viewer sometimes “hears” the tiny voice of true reality – the “whisper of existence”.”

Here, I think, Kracauer tried to put into words what we feel when we look at a certain photograph and think “This is it! I can feel this! I understand what this photograph is telling me”. Such a photograph can be considered a successful one as it does a good job of depicting a certain piece of reality.

4. Continuing with Kracauer’s sayings:

“And while the reproducing quality of photography has grown to be very accurate, this accuracy itself will not allow the viewer to hear the “whisper of existence”. For this, photograph needs to have figurativeness.”

Basically Kracauer says here that simply snapping a photo of what you see is not enough for the photograph to be expressive, to be “good”. This is still true in our times when photographs are sharp, crisp, with precise colours. You, as a photographer, still have to put in thought and effort when creating a photograph, so it will make an impact on the viewers.

5. “If the subject retains its uniqueness, e.g. the full spectrum of its qualities, when presented in a photograph, then it equals to the real thing.”

This is also a deep thought. I’ll elaborate on it a little. When you take, for example, still life photo. Let’s say a flower in a vase, you have endless possibilities as to how you do it. The lighting, the angle, the background, the vase – everything can be altered. Depending on how you do it you can either create totally “indifferent” photo of just “a flower in a vase”, which won’t reveal any qualities of your subject, and it won’t matter which kind of flower it is, and what vase you used. But you can also create a photo that will vividly present the qualities of this particular flower, which can be accentuated by your choice of lighting (colour, angle etc.), by your choice of vase, and the background. You can add additional elements to the photo to further increase the impact, such as fallen petals. When the viewer looks at such expressive photo, he perceives it as THIS flower, “the real thing”, and not merely an illustration of flower.

I encourage you to think about these sayings and relate them to your photographic experience as it will help you in your PhotoPathway.

As always your thoughts, comments, and suggestions are highly appreciated!

Walk Around Sassafras

Sassafras is a small village located in Dandenong Ranges. The area was named Sassafras Gully, after the trees which grew in the area. Sassafras is a tourist destination with some antique shops, boutiques, and nurseries.
While most of the tourists visit Sassafras on their way driving the Dandenong Tourist Road through to other destinations, Ira and I came here specifically. We wanted to visit the “Tea Leaves” store, which has over 300 teas and herbs. But then again, we are not tourists – we live within 40 minutes drive from here.
As you probably guessed I wouldn’t write this post if I didn’t have some photographs to share along with it. The tea store was really nice, but it was too small and crowded to photograph. After we finished our tea-shopping, we decided to explore the surroundings.
I always liked the Australian Magpies. I think that they are very interesting birds, and I also like their singing – Australian Magpies are considered to be among Australia’s most accomplished songbirds. There were plenty of these birds in Sassafras, so I could take a few photos, and here is one.

Australian Magpie

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Dandenong Ranges is a beautiful place, and Sassafras is surrounded with eucalyptus and fern-tree forests with kilometres of walking trails. Ira and I came across one of the trails and went into the woods. It was such a beautiful walk! I can still feel the cold fresh air filled with smells of nature…

Dandenong Ranges Forest

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The forest was magical. It was around three o’clock in the afternoon, and the sun was already setting (the sunset time is currently around five o’clock) so the light was beautiful. I was fascinated with the rays of light breaking through the foliage.
The biggest problem when photographing forests is to find distinction. What I mean is when you walk in the forest and you simply like what you see and take a picture, most of the chances that the resulting photo won’t be interesting. It will be very cluttered with leaves, tree trunks, and branches. One of the keys here is to find some kind of order in the forest and reflect it in your photograph.
The photo above is a bit too cluttered to my taste, but I still like it – I found an opening in the forest, saw this fern lit by the sun, and decided to make it a main point of interest in the photograph. Rays of light in the background add another dimension to the photo making it… airy?

Wooden Stairs

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Walking down the trail we came across wooden stairs, and saw this “unreal” ray of light shining through. I just couldn’t pass the opportunity ☺. Though I am bothered a little by the wooden rail on the foreground right, overall I like this photo. The stairs lead the eye into the photo, and them being not straight enhances the feel of space, while ray of light helps creating magical forest atmosphere.

Mushrooms Growing On Eucalyptus 1 Mushrooms Growing On Eucalyptus 2

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At one point I saw a huge eucalyptus and just stood there admiring this nature creation, then Ira said – “look! There are lots of tiny mushrooms growing from the trunk of this tree!” And only then I saw them. The tree trunk was so big, and the mushrooms were so tiny that I didn’t notice them even though there were so many. I really liked this “crowd” and spent a good 15 minutes trying to find an interesting angle.

Waterdrops

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As in most of my walks in the nature, I couldn’t resist taking a few macro shots. I didn’t have a tripod with me (what a rookie mistake! ), so this photo might not be tack sharp, but it is sharp enough to show all the diversity of the water drops. I really like the tenderness and fragility in this photograph… one careless move and this beauty will disappear.

And finally I’d like to present my best photo from that walk in Dandenong Ranges.

Dandenong Ranges Forest

Click on the photo to enlarge.

I feel that in this photo I succeeded to create order from the forest’s chaos. I found a pattern made by the standing ferns, and a space in between, and the light was just right. I tend to think that in nature photography great photo is created when two factors come together – pure luck (the light, weather conditions) and the photographer’s vision. Sure, if there is no vision, there won’t be any great photos, but when you have the vision you still need the nature to play along with it.

I hope that you enjoyed this journey into the Dandenong ranges, a beautiful place in Australia, and I’ll see you next time right here, on my photo pathway.

As always your comments are most welcome!

Portrait Studio Photo Shoot

Recently one of my friend’s friends, Renata, saw these portraits I shot about a  month ago, and liked them. So we decided to do a studio photo shoot with her. When I said “studio”, I meant a tiny studio that I put up in my living room. It consists of a black or white background, one light stand with Canon EX430 flash inside soft box, and one tripod converted to light stand with Yongnuo flash and white shoot-through umbrella.

Shooting in my home studio I am limited by the size of my living room, so I can’t use any focal length I want. The biggest zoom I can use is about 100mm. In that case I have to stand at the far end from the model, and still be able to shoot almost only head-shots.

The following photo was made using Canon 100mm f2.8 macro lens. Even though when shooting studio portraits I usually use my soft box as the main light, in this photo my main light was the Youngnuo flash through white umbrella from the left, and I used my soft box as hair light from the top right and it also acted as a fill in light to soften the shadows.

I placed the lights at such angles so that almost no light would spill on the background as I wanted the background to remain black. It is intentional that the Renata’s dress is also black and looks only slightly lighter than the background – I wanted to make an emphasis on her face.

Canon 100mm f2.8 macro; Shot at f8, 1/200 sec | Click on the photo to enlarge.

 

Continuing the discussion regarding the photo above – shooting that portrait I looked for Renata’s natural expression. At first she was a bit constrained trying to pose for the camera, but then we started a conversation about all kinds of topics and she got more relaxed. At one point I put the camera down and we continued speaking about a particularly interesting subject for her, and I noticed that she  got completely relaxed. So I grabbed a camera and started shooting.  This is when I got the shot above.

Next photo is posed, of course. It was my idea to shoot Renata with a candle, but after trying everything I had in mind, I couldn’t make a single nice photo. Then I asked my model to do anything she liked with the candle and just watched and shot. After a while I saw her making this pose and thought – “this is what I was looking for!”, so I asked her to remain in that pose and shot several variations. The photo below is the one me and Renata liked the most .

Sigma 28mm f1.8; Shot at f5, 1/200 sec | Click on the photo to enlarge.

 

In the next photo, I wanted to try a bit more dramatic lighting with stronger shadows. One of my primary concerns was to make her left eye (the one to your right when looking at the photo) free of shadows coming from the nose. I wanted it to be as vivid and visible as the right eye, and still to have strong shadows. This involved moving the main light around the model until I found the desired angle. All my flashes were set to manual mode, so in order to achieve stronger lighting I just increased the power of the flash.

 

Sigma 28mm f1.8; Shot at f5, 1/200 sec | Click on the photo to enlarge.

 

One more aspect to think about is the flash recycle time. I use small strobes (Canon EX 430 and Yongnuo), which are powered by 4 AAA batteries. Using such strobes at full power means waiting two to five seconds between shots, loosing priceless facial expressions and body poses. So I never use my strobes at full power unless I absolutely have no choice. I usually don’t go above 1/4th of the full power and set ISO and f-stop accordingly (taking the DOF into account of course).

After getting a few decent portraits, which were the main goal of the photo shoot, we started to improvise. I particularly liked the shot with the sunglasses. I liked Renata’s expression in that one – it is radiant and tender at the same time. Of course I didn’t get this shot on the first try, but the final result is what counts, right? 🙂

Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L; Shot at 24mm f2.8 1/200 sec | Click on the photo to enlarge.

 

The following photograph is my favorite. I love the dynamics of it. For this photo I had Renata stand facing the background and then turning swiftly around on my mark. I really wanted to catch that hair movement. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds because at each turn hair moves differently, and it doesn’t always look as nice as in the photo below. I probably did about 15 shots before making this one.

Canon 24-70mm f2.8 L; Shot at 42mm f4 1/200 sec | Click on the photo to enlarge.

 

I really enjoyed this photo shoot and I am pretty satisfied with the results. I find the background a bit boring, therefore thinking of my next photo shoot to be on-location somewhere.

 

I hope you found this article to be helpful and interesting, or at least one of these 🙂

 

Your comments / questions / suggestions are always appreciated!

Cheers,

Greg.

 

 

Autumn Walk

While Spring rules in most parts of the world now, Australia is heading for winter. Driving through my neighborhood towards home from work I felt a kind of Autumn mood in the air. So when I came home I quickly grabbed my camera and went out for a walk. I wanted to capture this mood before it vanished.

This maple tree fascinated me. The autumn colors are revealed here in all their beauty. Warm light of the setting sun gets even warmer filtered through the orange-yellow leaves creating a very cosy atmosphere. The only thing I’m missing in this photo is a lonely person sitting on the stairs…

Click on the photo to enlarge.

In the next photo I focused my attention on the fallen Autumn leaves adding the fence on the left to emphasize the perspective and add a sense of movement to the photograph.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

At first I didn’t realize why I wanted to capture what you see in the next photo, but then I realized that it was the combination of cleanliness of forms, simplicity of the composition, and the background texture. Combined together these three factors formed a complete picture in my mind and I pressed the shutter-release button.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Walking around I saw these bicycles and immediately the words such as “separation”, “loneliness”, “different” started popping into my  mind. You know kids can be cruel sometimes, and in my mind this was a good visualization of this fact. Even thought there is not much of an Autumn mood in this picture, since I took it on the same walk I decided to present it here.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

And finally going back home, when Sun was getting close to the horizon, I took this photo. I can’t say much about it except the fact that I like it.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Hope you enjoyed the photos. Feel free to comment on them in the comments section below, I’d be happy to know what you think!

Till the next time, take care!

Cheers,
Greg.

Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens

Alfred Nicholas Gardens are located in the Dandenong Ranges, Victoria. The place is pretty well known among Australian photographers for its scenic lake and beautiful trees. Most of the photos that you’ll find on the web usually made in late Autumn (which is April/May in Australia), when the trees turn yellow, red and orange. And it is indeed a really beautiful sight!

But I had the chance to visit the gardens in late Summer, when everything was still green, and I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to take a few photos, which I’d like to share.

 

There is a tiny waterfall flowing down into the lake, and even though when you look at the whole waterfall, it is not really photogenic, I found a fragment of it that I liked. I also wanted to create the “smooth water” effect. As you may know it is achieved by using long exposure. The loner the exposure, the smoother the water will be. But I had a problem – there was too much light, and I didn’t have any ND filters (Neutral Density) with me. My solution was to use a polarizing filter. In addition to “directing” the light, polarizing filter also reduces the amount of light by about 1.5 stop.

Alfred Nicholas Gardens

Click on the photo to enlarge.

The whole lake was covered with fallen leafs from the surrounding trees. Even though everything was still green, it was beautiful! I love the way the reflections can still be seen in the gaps between the leafs.

Alfred Nicholas Gardens

Click on the photo to enlarge.

Eventually I decided to concentrate on fragments, rather than the “global” scenery. These leafs are showing the closeness of the Autumn and I also liked their shapes. The lone red leaf at the back adds a point of focus to this somewhat chaotic composition.

Alfred Nicholas Gardens

Click on the photo to enlarge.

At one point I decided to take a break and settled on this bench. When I got up I noticed how nice my hat looks lying on the bench close to these beautiful flowers. The only touch that I added to the photo was the yellow leaf on the hat. Looking at this photo I would like to change the leaf’s location a little… but what’s done is done 🙂

Alfred Nicholas Gardens

Click on the photo to enlarge.

I really enjoyed this place and I hope you enjoy my photos.

As always any comments are appreciated.

 

Cheers,

Greg.

A Story-Telling Photograph

My father is a construction engineer. He is retired, but I’m still using present tense because its who he is. He loves his profession, and all the years that he was working, he did it with commitment and passion.
I can only wish everybody and myself that level of dedication to your job. It is said that best way of parenting is by personal example, and I fully agree with that. It is by his personal example my father taught me to be responsible and reliable person, to do any job the best way that I can.

How is this all photography related? –  you may ask. Here is the answer: I decided to photograph my father, but I wanted my photo to tell a story about my father and his life. All his life he worked hard to provide for the family, and at the same time he loved his job, and even now, when he is retired he still draws plans for the house for us, his kids to build.
So I figured that the best way to portray my father would be with his drawing board, and though now all of the engineering work is done on computers, still most part of my father’s working career was during the time of drawing boards and we still have one for old times sake. Besides, drawing board is far more photogenic than a computer display 🙂

So here he is, my Father.

My Father

Click on the photo to enlarge.

There are two light sources in this photograph – one is the lamp that you can see in the photo, and the second source is a flash (Canon 430 EX) on a light stand to the right, with grid on it to direct the light directly to my father’s face and prevent it from scattering around. I wanted the “spotlight” effect.

As always your comments are appreciated.

Cheers,

Greg.

Why Light Needs Darkness

In this TED talk, Lighting architect Rogier van der Heide unveils an interesting way to look at the world by paying attention to the light quality and to the contrast between the light and the darkness. And even though he doesn’t talk about photography, I found this talk to be very interesting to me as a photographer, because light plays very important role in photography. One of Rogier’s ideas in this talk is that you have to appreciate the darkness when creating light, and I think it is a very profound thought, which any photographer needs to ponder about.

Here’s the talk, I hope you enjoy it:

As always, your thoughts and comments are much appreciated!

Cheers,
Greg

Phillip Island

Phillip Island is located approximately 140km south-southeast from Melbourne. From my home it is about two hours drive. It was named after the first governor of New South Wales, Arthur Phillip. Phillip Island is pretty small: it has 9 kilometers at its widest, and is 26 km long, but it has about 97 kilometers of coastline, which allows for many photographic opportunities.

Recently I took a three day trip to Phillip island. As always I had my camera with me, and I’d like to share my experience with you my dedicated readers! 🙂

One of the first places I visited were “the Nobbies”.  This area has spectacular coastal views, which you can experience from the boardwalks and lookout points set amongst natural sea bird gardens.

The Nobbies, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia Seal Rocks, The Nobbies, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Click on the photo to enlarge.

The views were so magnificent that I couldn’t stop photographing. When I later saw my photos on the computer screen, the grass was so vividly green, as if I greatly increased the saturation. I even had to reduce saturation a little so the grass would look more natural! I really wanted to photograph this place on sunset, but the whole area closes before the sunset time due to wildlife activity in the twilight.

The Nobbies, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Click on the photo to enlarge.

My next stop was the Swan Lake, the only permanent freshwater lake on the island. I didn’t see too many birds out there, but there still were a few, and I liked the “layered” view, which you can see in the photo below.

Swan Lake, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Click on the photo to enlarge.

There was a boardwalk leading around the lake with small hideouts along the route for watching birds without disturbing them. The shot below was made from one of the hideouts. I am not sure if swans sleep with their eyes open, or he noticed my presence despite the hideout.

Swan at Swan Lake, Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Click on the photo to enlarge.

On my second day on Phillip Island, on late afternoo, I found this beach. It is very close to the bridge that connects the Island with mainland. The photo below was made on this beach, and somehow it reminds me of ancient Greek amphitheaters. I also decided to come back to this beach on the next day’s sunrise…

Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Click on the photo to enlarge.

and then I drove to another beach to photograph Sunset… why? you ask me. The answer is pretty simple – the sun was setting on the other side of the island! So the next photo was taken from Surf Beach, which is located on the way to Cape Woolamai.

Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Click on the photo to enlarge.

And we are back again, now at dawn to the same beach with the “amphitheater”.  The land that you see in the distance is the mainland with small town of San Remo on it. Formed as a fishing village, San Remo’s economy nowadays mostly based around tourism.

Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

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I think I already mentioned that Phillip Island is connected to the mainland by bridge. It is a 640 meter concrete bridge, which I found to be rather nice looking in sunrise colors.

Bridge to Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

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Unfortunately I have no idea what is the name of these birds but I find them very beautiful against the sunrise-pink colored water. For the shot below I used my Canon 70-200 f4 L lens and tripod.

Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

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During the sunrise the clouds were moving pretty quickly so I was lucky enough to catch some pretty darn nice shots :), as you can see below

Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

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And finally I went to San Remo’s jetty to watch pelican feeding. Unfortunately that day feeding didn’t occur but, I snapped the photo below. Look, they are twins!

Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Click on the photo to enlarge.

That’s it for my photographic reportage from Phillip Island. I hope you liked my photographs, and

As always your thoughts and comments are welcome!

 

Till the next time, take care!

Cheers,
Greg.