Extreme Environment Photographic Competition – Finalist

I am pleased to announce that two of my Iceland photographs “Well of Life” and “Abandoned Blue Berg” have been selected as finalists in the Extreme Environment Photographic Competition.   These two photographs will form part of the Extreme Environment Photographic Exhibition, to open at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery from 10:00 am on Friday, 6 May, running until Sunday 15 May.  Admission is free to the public during normal Museum opening hours. Finalists images can also be viewed in low resolution on-line, courtesy of 936 ABC Radio Hobart at during the period of the exhibition at www.abc.net.au/hobart. Both of these photographs are also available to view in high resolution on my Portfolio website at www.jholko.com under Iceland.

Iceland – Selfoss : The Essence of Iceland

Without doubt one of Iceland’s most well known and famous landmarks are its waterfalls. There are waterfalls almost everywhere and if you have read and followed my blog you will have already seen numerous posts about them. They really are nothing short of breathtaking.

One of the most unusual and beautiful is Selfoss. Selfoss is a short ten minute walk up from the mighty Dettifoss – Europe’s largest waterfall by volume. What makes Selfoss so unique and other worldly is the way it cascades down both sides of a deep rocky canyon. I have not seen such a geological feature anywhere else in the world and as far as I know it is unique to Selfoss and Iceland.

I was fortunate enough to visit both Dettifoss and Selfoss twice during my time in Iceland last year. On both occasions I was blessed with wonderful and interesting light. The purpose of dual visits to these falls was to shoot them from both sides as there is no bridge near by to cross. Its a long drive along a horrible dirt road to get to the other side. I must admit that I was so tired from the long arduous hours of shooting under the midnight sun for days and days on end that I have no actual memory of taking this photograph – I must have been on auto pilot by this point in my trip. It was one of around 50 frames I shot from this side of Selfoss. Regardless I am extremely pleased with the result. The long exposure has softened the water in contrast to the rocks and caught the incoming storm clouds streaking across the sky. For me this photograph captures some of the essence of Iceland. As I have blogged about already – I cant wait to go back. In fact, plans are afoot for a trip in June/July 2012 after Antarctica. A high resolution version of this photograph is also on my Portfolio website at www.jholko.com

Cape Shank Victoria – A Primordial Soup

I have been spending a bit of time lately down at Cape Schank in Victoria (roughly an hour and a half drive from where I live) scrambling over the rocks looking for composition and waiting for good light. Its a very primordial place with plenty of jagged black basalt rock that provides a really good contrast to the softness of the water created by long exposures. I have enjoyed the time I have spent down there; although it has been a battle with the elements to say the least. I was blessed with good magic hour colour on several of my sunsets and sunrises – but on almost all occasions the skies have been totally cloudless; providing little of interest outside of the colour of sunrise and sunset. The planets just haven’t aligned for me at Cape Schank as yet; which is really great incentive to keep going back.

On my last trip the skies were again cloudless an hour os so before sunset as I scrambled over the rocks looking for frames and I thought I was going to again be out of luck. However, as the sun began to set some cloud began to build on the horizon and this photograph was the result. I used the LEE 10 Stop Neutral Density Filter to get an exposure time of 181 seconds; which has caused the water to go very milky and soften the harshness of the rocks.

New Kit – The Singh Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated ND Filter

My apologies if updates have been a bit few and far between over the last few weeks. I have been pretty snowed under at the office and have not had much time for photography (I can feel the withdrawal creeping up on me); either out in the field, or behind my computer processing images. That is going to change over the coming weeks with Easter now close at hand and some free time on the radar. I even have a new bit of kit to try out!

Singn-Ray Reverse Grad Filter

I recently purchased another filter to add to my seemingly ever expanding collection – the Singh-Ray 3 Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter. This is the first Singh-Ray filter I have purchased and I am extremely impressed at the quality of the filter and the packaging – not to mention their customer service; which deserves an honourable mention. To wit, I ordered the filter online directly from Singh-Ray and payed using my credit card in full like any online transaction (some $230 including shipping) and then sat back and waited for the goodies to arrive. Within a few hours I received an email from a very polite customer service person informing me that if I preferred they would send my shipment by an alternative shipping method which would save me more than $30 in freight and save me from Fedex’s own internal fees. ‘Of course’ I said, that would be fine and within a few hours the shipping credit of $30 was credited to my American Express card. I don’t know of many other companies that would pass this saving back to the customer, but I can think of quite a few that would probably just have pocketed the difference. Sing-Ray’s customer service in my experience is first class. I already own an extensive collection of LEE filters and have used them for many years. They have travelled all over the world with me and have been my workhorse filters. My collection is more or less complete when it comes to varying densities of graduated filters; however, LEE do not make a reverse graduated neutral density filter and I have found myself wanting one more and more of late. For those who are interested you can read what a Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter is and how they work on Sing-Rays website here Sing-Ray Reverse Grads.

The Singh-Ray Filters are expensive (even more expensive than the LEE filters). At around $230 Australian dollars including shipping for a piece of glass measuring around 6 x 4 inches it seems almost absurdly priced. However, one has to take into account that the filter is dead neutral with no colour cast to the photograph. A quick test with and without the filter in place show no discernible shift in colour and that is a very important advantage for my style of photography since I do very little work to my photographs in post processing. Having to remove or otherwise deal with a colour cast because of a poor quality filter is not something that interests me.

I have not as yet had a chance to use this new filter in the field – But, I am looking forward to putting it through its paces in the South Island of New Zealand in June this year.

Exhibition Opening Last Night

My most sincere thanks to all the people who attended the opening of the ‘New Photography’ Exhibition last night at Source Photographica in Melbourne. The joint exhibition that included some of my work from Iceland last year as well as work from three other Australian photographers has been some months in the making and it was really terrific to see all the work up on the gallery walls. I arrived about an hour after opening and was both overawed and extremely flattered at the turn-out  – I couldn’t even get a car park and had to bump shoulders to even get in the door. I have no idea what the final numbers were for the evening; but I guess there would have been a good hundred and fifty+ people there when I arrived and probably another couple of hundred or so come and go in the hour I was there. And It was still packed when I left.

Thank you again to all those who attended. It was a great pleasure to speak to some admirers of my work in person and I am hugely appreciative of all the wonderful feedback. If you did not have the opportunity to attend last night you can still visit as the exhibition is open until the 21st of April in Brighton Melbourne at www.sourcephotographica.com.au