Just a quick update – I have updated the photo of the month for December.
I have not had a lot of opportunity of late to get out with my camera for some landscape photography. To say I have been missing time out with my camera in the field would be an understatement. The ‘silly season’ has well and truly arrived and there has just been some sort of social function every weekend for weeks – it seems to start earlier every year. I am positive the Christmas trees go up earlier and earlier each year in the shopping centres. Gratefully I have managed to secure a couple of days in the first weekend of December and will be heading up past Mildura to Mungo and the Walls of China. This is part of Victoria I have wanted to visit and photograph for some time. My last attempt earlier this year was a wash out with the road into Mungo closed. It rained pretty much the entire weekend of the trip. Instead I visited the nearby Perry Sandhills and managed to get some images I was very satisfied with.
Fingers crossed the weather works out better this trip and although its a little to early to predict I am hopeful that being the first week of Summer the weather is good and the roads accessible. There is little in the way of infrastructure at Mungo so I will be camping and taking everything I need with me for the trip.The Walls of China are a feature of the Mungo Lake lunette. Over thousands of years, wind and water have carved spectacular formations comprised of sand and clay. Rain washes away the soft sands and muds of the lunette, creating the rilled ridges and residuals that characterise the Walls of China. The dislodged sand is then picked up by the wind and heaped into huge mobile dunes along the back of the lunette.
I am not normally a participant in photographic competitions. Photography for me a is non-competitive passion that I pursue for the sheer love of it. It is the pursuit of the image that drives me – not the desire to compete. I ride my mountain bike for the thrill of competition. That said, a good friend of mine encouraged me to enter some of my photography into the International Aperture Awards this year. So, dipping my toe in the water I did submit one of my photographs from Iceland – ‘Abandoned Blue Berg’. I am pleased to say that I received notification today that this photograph took out a Bronze award for excellence in the Landscape Open category.
I feel I am getting close now to mining all the gems from my trip to Iceland back in July / August this year. As I have blogged about before, sorting, editing and processing has been a continuous albeit sporadic affair when time has permitted. The pace of family and work life these days seems to run at light speed. Finding time to slow down in peace and quiet and work in a contemplative fashion is tough. Now, three months after returning from the trip Iceland is starting to feel like a completed project for me. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to go back; because I dearly do. There is still the entire Snaefellsness Peninsula for me to explore as well as the North East corner of the island. Plans are afoot as they say…
I have now processed most of my ‘selects’ and made prints of a good many of them. I have an exhibition coming up in March next year and am very much looking forward to sharing my prints from the trip. I still have many hundreds of trip snapshots to sort through; many of which are no more than a traveller’s record of the trip for me. I will continue to post photographs from the trip to my blog over the coming months.
This photograph was taken during my first visit to the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon as the sun set behind the distant Vatnajokull glacier [Europe’s largest glacier]. The combination of evening light and ice is magical at the lagoon. It is hard to say any particular location in Iceland is my favourite above all others as so many of them are stunningly beautiful in their own right. The Jokulsarlon lagoon however certainly rates in the top three. I know of nowhere else in the world where icebergs can be photographed carving into a lagoon and then photographed several hours later having washed out to sea on the black volcanic sand beaches.Looking forward to Antarctica next year I received a welcome pack from Quark Expeditions which included several informative booklets on Antarctica, a large detailed map of the area, luggage tags, list of recommended clothing and equipment and associated paraphernalia. Even though this trip is still just over a year away it is now starting to feel very real and I have on several occasions when the moment has been right found myself day dreaming about what it will be like and considering what I will take with me. I have not as yet booked accommodation in Buenos Aires or Ushuaia but have been recommended a couple of different hotels; both of which look really good. I am planning to meet up with my good friend Martyn who travelled and photographed with me in Iceland for the shoot in Antarctica. We plan to meet in Buenos Aires a couple of days early for some photography to ease any shutter finger aches before we head down to Ushuaia and set sail for the big Antarctica shoot. I cant wait!
From time to time (and with increasing frequency) I get emails asking ‘how many, if any, of my photographs are HDR or High Dynamic Range?’
The answer is: None.
For any reader who may be unaware: HDR photography is the art of capturing several (usually two or three) different exposures of the same scene. Each exposure will be optimised at the time of capture for either the highlights, shadows or mid tones of the scene. The multiple frames are then composited in Photoshop or alternative program and tone mapped. The final output is a single photograph that captures a dynamic range wider than what the cameras sensor was capable of recording in a single exposure. Usually, but not always, the results are unnatural and somewhat ‘odd’ (at least to my eyes).
All of the photographs on my Portfolio website and on my blog are single exposures that were captured that way in the field. I may well have taken multiple exposures (bracketing) at the time of capture; but this was simply to give me choice of picking the best overall exposure to work with back in my studio – Never for the act of combining for a HDR image. Not that there is anything wrong with HDR photography; but it just isn’t something that interests me, or frankly that I even particularly like.
I am also often asked “if the colours in my photographs are real?”
The answer is: Yes.
I actually do very little post processing work to my photographs in the vast majority of cases. Probably 99% of my photographs never even make it to Photoshop – receiving only basic post processing corrections in Adobe Lightroom. These corrections include adjustments such as white balance, setting white and black points, burning and dodging etc. I am a strong advocate for ‘getting it right in the field’. I use graduated neutral density filters extensively to tame the high dynamic range found in nature and these allow me to capture scenes with a single exposure without resorting to post processing techniques such as HDR tone mapping. I spend many many hours in the field waiting for the right light for my photography and frequently revisit locations for better light.
My shooting style is pretty simple – I like to arrive at my location with plenty of time before the light is at its best. Usually, this means at least an hour before sunrise or sunset (I generally prefer sunrise – the best light being just before the sun crests the horizon). Almost always, if possible I will have scouted the location earlier in the day to ascertain what I wanted to photograph. However, I am always ready to go with the flow, and if I see something happening nearby (maybe the light is reflecting off a pool of water, or whatever) will change my plans accordingly. I shoot with a tripod, mirror lock-up and a cable release. I like to take my time to compose my photographs thoughtfully; I use ‘live-view’ to assist with composition and focusing.
Once I am ready to take the photograph I may make several different exposures so that I can later on choose which is best for my purposes. I will also usually do a number of different compositions and again later in my studio choose which I prefer. During post processing I will endevour to draw out any subtle tones and colours that were captured by the cameras sensor at time of exposure. These adjustments or enhancements if you prefer are usually no more than corrections for the inherent flatness of a RAW file compared to a jpeg; which has already and automatically had post production performed in camera.