On the surface of it, Antarctica might well be considered an environment that is seemingly devoid of colour and monochromatic in nature. This is a reasonable assumption because the great white continent is renowned for its brilliant white ice and dark brooding seas. Such dichotomy is simply wonderful for black and white photography and consequently some of the photographers on my recent expedition produced some stunning examples. However, there is also a pallet of colours on display in Antarctica that can only be described as extraordinary. For the colour photographer, Antarctica, and its dizzying array of free-form sculptured icebergs, is a veritable playground of deep blues and glowing aquamarines that are as alluring as the sirens’ call. To claim the scope of colours is inspirational is to hugely understate the nature of this superb environment. It is breathtaking.

During my 2011 expedition to Antarctica I wore a persistent ear-to-ear grin when out shooting, which was for most of my waking hours. Many of the bays and coves we visited were festooned with icebergs that provided limitless opportunities for photography. As a colour photographer, I place great emphasis on a complimentary pallet of colours in my images, so I was completely enthralled by the deep blues and luminous aquamarines in the ice. On more than one occasion the cry of ‘look at those blues!’ could be heard coming from either our zodiac, or another nearby.  Even the frequent driving snow did little to dampen my enthusiasm for the extraordinary colours and the magical scenes around us.I am methodically working my way through the editing and processing of my photographs but wanted to share some examples that illustrate the range and tone of colours found in Antarctica. Post-production of these photographs, and in particular the blues and greens, presented some unique challenges. To date, my experience has shown that a very delicate touch is required in order to compliment and accentuate the myriad of subtle tones and textures in the ice and to balance these with the overall colours in each frame.The temptation to overly saturate colour that is naturally incredibly vibrant and surreal is an easy mistake to make. The end result can be a photograph that not only transgresses belief but appears almost gaudy. Judicious use of saturation is the key difference between an incredible, but believable photograph and one that is quite simply ‘over cooked’. It’s a discussion I have had with my good friend and co-Moab Master Andy Biggs over Skype on a couple of occasions and we are in agreement that no embellishment is required in most cases – isn’t Mother Nature wonderful! In these examples very little post-production work was performed to the RAW files. No additional saturation or vibrance was added and in the majority of cases the white balance was only subtly tweaked, or otherwise left as shot.I am starting to make my first prints from this trip for my upcoming exhibition in Melbourne at Source Photographica and have settled on Moab Entrada Rag Natural 300gsm as the paper of choice for my Antarctica images. After some experimentation I have found Entrada Rag Natural to offer the ideal surface and stipple to preserve the tone and colour in my photographs. Images have a soft, soothing, somewhat muted and understated look on Entrada Rag that I find highly complementary to the vividness of the natural blues and greens. Delicate texture and detail is retained and enhanced by the paper surface, whilst blacks remain rich and deep. Entrada Rag Natural 300gsm is in many ways a similar paper to my other favorite Somerset Museum Rag. However, there are some subtle differences in the surface texture that led me to choose Entrada Rag for my Antarctica photographs, because it retains and accentuates all the subtle nuances in the ice surfaces.

Higher resolution versions of these photographs can be seen at my portfolio website at

EDIT – Some of you may have noticed that this blog entry has also appeared on the Moab website and that another of my earlier entries ‘The Fortress‘ also appeared on Gura Gear’s blog a few days prior to my own. You aren’t going crazy or experiencing a weird case of de’ja’vu. I was invited by both Moab and Gura Gear to share some journal entries for their own blogs that I think might be of interest to their readers.


It is a very rare occasion in my photography when I click the shutter and instantly know I have managed to capture something special and out of the ordinary. It has probably happened to me only a few times during my photography career.

I recall one such moment, which took place more than a decade ago when I was swinging on a rappel line high above the ground at the You Yangs National Park. I was photographing my brother lead climbing a classic trad-crack rock climb. It was late afternoon and the light was soft with high cirrus cloud muting the usually strong contrast of the Australian sun. Facing a potentially serious fall, my brother slowly inched his way up the rock and into my viewfinder as I hovered in space above him. I was staring down the line of the climb with my camera, watching his every move. As he climbed into the frame, he paused for just a moment and, with muscles rippling, he lifted his head and winced as the summer breeze blew the chalk dust from his hands. The rope went slack as the belay fed out some line, and I fired the shutter. That was the moment. With a last effort my brother quickly stuffed a ‘friend’ into the crack in the rock for some protection and promptly fell off, utterly spent. The resulting photograph still hangs in my brother’s living room and is a reminder to me that photography is so often all about the decisive moment. Unfortunately, I long ago misplaced the transparency and my only record of this shot is now the ageing 16 x 20 Cibachrome.

I experienced another of these decisive moments in Iceland in 2010 when I shot the large iceberg ‘Blue Berg’, which had washed ashore on the black sand beach at the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon. With a storm brewing on the horizon and the sun falling low in the sky, all of nature’s elements were in perfect alignment for a great image. I set my desired aperture and shutter speed, loaded the graduated neutral density filter, shot some frames and knew I had a great photograph that I would be very happy to hang over my mantelpiece. This photograph subsequently went on to win the 2010 World Extreme Environment Photograph of the Year People’s Choice Award and won a Gold Award in the Landscape category at the 2010 APPA Awards.

The truth is these kinds of opportunities are probably more prevalent than I realize. It is why the skill of just looking and really seeing is of such importance in photography. Failing to recognize the opportunity when it presents itself is a tragedy for the photographer, so it is important to train yourself to be always looking – even when you are not out with a camera.

On my recent trip to Antarctica I was fortunate to come across another opportunity of this type. It was somewhere around the Gerlache Strait, and we were slowly cruising past gigantic stadium-sized icebergs in our ice hardened ship, ‘The Ocean Nova’. As our expedition leader Graham liked to put it “Just cruising in Captain Alexey’s zodiac“. The weather was overcast with soft, dim, moody lighting that I find ideal for photographing icebergs. Suddenly, we came across this massive, jagged and castellated iceberg with its precipitous peaks and hard chiseled surfaces. I was standing on the Port side of the ship chatting to my friend Andy Biggs about the Leica S2. As we drew closer I had to make a quick decision about what lens I was going to use to best capture and accentuate the iceberg’s characteristics. I use prime lenses almost exclusively, which meant I needed to make a decision on the spot as to how I was going to approach this particular opportunity. Whilst zoom lenses provide greater immediate flexibility for framing, I prefer the quality of primes for my work.

In this instance, I decided to use the Canon 17mm F4L TSE Tilt and Shift lens on my 1DS MKIII and scurried back to my cabin, dove into my Kiboko bag, and quickly changed glass. By the time I arrived back on deck we were already beginning to circle the iceberg and most of the other photographers were already firing away, whilst simultaneously staring in awe at one of nature’s most amazing wonders.

The decision to use the 17mm F4L TSE was an easy one for me, since I knew immediately I wanted some perspective control to stop the ice peaks from appearing to fall away from the viewer (a problem with wide angle lenses that are tilted when shot). Although perspective control is relatively easy to do in post-production, I prefer to try and get it right in the camera wherever possible (it means less pixel mangling later and I am first and foremost a photographer and not a Photoshop technician). I also wanted to use some lens shift to get me lower and closer to the water since we were shooting from several stories high on the ship. This was a delicate balancing act, since dialing in some lens tilt changes the plane of focus. Although I could have shot this close to wide open without any tilt and achieved adequate depth of field, the introduction of some lens tilt meant I had to be very careful to stop down enough to keep the top peaks of the ice in focus – in other words achieving infinite depth of field from near to far was no longer the issue. I had to achieve sufficient depth of field from top to bottom and this could only be done by stopping down the camera sufficiently – in this case F8 proved perfect. I also had to balance my ISO setting and shutter speed to avoid camera shake (tripods are out of the question on a ship), manually focus the lens (the 17mm F4L TSE is manual focus only), shield the lenses bulbous front element from the pervasive salt spray and get my framing right, all whilst on a pitching, and moving ship surrounded by other photographers all jostling for position.  There was a lot to think about and lots of opportunities for mistakes.

In the end, I shot about two-dozen frames with the 17mm F4L TSE lens of this iceberg while Captain Alexey circled it in the Ocean Nova. I was fortunate that there was some good moody cloud cover to soften the light when we came upon this iceberg. Direct sunlight would have made for much harsher shadows and less pleasing light.

Of all the shots I took of this iceberg only one has what I consider to be the perfect angle in combination with ideal lighting – and this is it. A shot I have titled ‘The Fortress’ for its castle-like precipitous peaks.When I sat down to start this entry I had in mind that I was going to talk about how I processed this photograph in Adobe Lightroom 3.6. However, I realized when I put pen to paper that I had really done very little to the RAW file at all. Basic corrections included setting the white and black points, adding some clarity (+25), refining the crop slightly and capture sharpening appropriate to the camera/lens/shot combination. I also added a graduated filter and vignette to darken the top of the sky; which I normally would have done ‘in-camera’ with the use of a graduated neutral density filter. However, due to the bulbous element on the 17mm F4L TSE it is virtually impossible to use filters. I decided after some tweaking that I actually preferred the white balance as set by the camera and left the temperature at 5650 and the tint at -2, as shot.

Antarctica is an incredibly surreal location for photography. The pallet of colours on display is quite literally unbelievable. No embellishment is required and as such this photograph was processed with zero vibrance and zero saturation. The shades of blue in the deepest crevices of the ice are naturally so intense that they already fall outside the gamut of some printers.

I would estimate that this iceberg was roughly the size of a football field (above water) and was about eight to ten stories high from the waterline with its jagged and precipitous peaks towering above our ship. Icebergs of this size are quite stable even in relatively strong winds and we were able to get quite close as we cruised past in our ice-hardened vessel. I had my 24mm F1.4L MKII lens on my 1D MKIV camera over my shoulder and although I took some frames with that camera and lens I was not able to fit the entire iceberg into the frame and as such those frames I feel lack the impact of this single image.

In the end, I could have shot this iceberg with pretty much any lens but decided in this instance that it was the iceberg in its entirety that was amazing to me. I deliberately included the distant shore on the left of the iceberg to put the iceberg into context and I also included the distant tabular iceberg on the right to balance the frame. Although I am still editing, sorting and processing my photographs from this expedition, the end result in this instance is a photograph that I feel may stand up as my signature image of this remarkable trip.

A higher resolution version of this photograph can be seen on my portfolio website at


I am heading off to Tasmania this weekend for a few days to visit the Wilderness Gallery where my latest exhibition ‘Colours of Iceland‘ is currently on display. I always enjoy going to Tasmania and am looking forward to spending some time photographing around Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain; weather and light permitting. The weather at Cradle Mountain can be fickle and very much does its own thing – irrespective of what the weather man has to say. The last few times I have been there the weather has been very overcast, dreary and wet; which in and of itself I don’t normally mind. However, it would be nice to get some good colour in the sky at sunrise or sunset to contrast the overcast conditions I have previously experienced. Fingers crossed….



From Adobe’s Blog: The Lightroom team is proud to introduce the fourth major version of the product designed for and by photographers. It was 6 years ago today when we introduced the very first public beta of Lightroom at MacWorld on January 9, 2006. (Yes, it was Mac only, smaller in footprint than most raw files and didn’t have a crop tool!) Since 2006 we’ve been hard at work improving an application that’s intended to be as easy to use as it is powerful. This release builds on the fundamental performance architecture and image quality improvements in Lightroom 3 to provide a truly complete workflow solution. I kept hearing from customers that they love Lightroom but needed to leave the Lightroom to complete X, Y or Z. Lightroom 4 tackles those issues with improvements to image organization, adjustment tools and comprehensive publishing options.

High Level Summary of What’s New

  • Robust Video Support
  • Manage images by location with the Map Module
  • Simplified Basic Adjustments
  • Powerful new Shadow & Highlight controls
  • Additional local adjustments including Noise Reduction and White Balance
  • Soft Proofing Reinvented – Yay!
  • Elegant Photo Book creation
  • Email from directly within Lightroom
  • Publish videos directly to Facebook or Flickr
  • Enhanced DNG workflows
  • Adobe Revel export workflow

Lightroom 4 BETA can be downloaded from Adobe HERE


2011 was a big year for my photography. I travelled to many wild and wonderful locations throughout the year including Tasmania, the South Island of New Zealand (I never get tired of New Zealand’s amazing landscapes), Antarctica; which was a life long ambition and an absolutely amazing experience, and many more places throughout Australia. I met and made some great new friends in Antarctica and this trip to the bottom of the world was most defiantly the photographic travel highlight of 2011 for me.

I was extremely honoured to be appointed as Australia’s first and only Moab Master photographer by Moab and Legion paper in the USA. I took out a Gold award at APPA (The Australian Professional Photography Awards) with my very first print  in this competition and won three Silvers with my other three prints. I won the 2011 World Extreme Environment Photography Peoples Choice Award, made the cover of F11 Magazine (and feature article), won a spotlight Portfolio award in the prestigious American magazine B&W + Color, won a Portfolio award in the highly regarded Silvershotz journal and had my some of my work featured by National Geographic as ‘Travel Photograph of the Week’. I was also published in numerous other publications including one of my favourite outdoor magazines ‘Wild‘. I was featured on Canon Australia’s EOS1 Wall as a Pro Judge, interviewed for the EOS Pro website and was a semi finalist in the Windland Smith Rice Awards.  I also opened (although I was in Antarctica for the actual physical opening) my new exhibition ‘Colours of Iceland’ at the Wilderness Gallery at Cradle Mountain in Tasmania. This exhibition features a room of 20+ 20×30 inch prints from my 2010 trip to Iceland. I feel like I accomplished quite a lot last year and ticked a lot off my goal list. I am however currently way behind on my image editing and processing from my recent Antarctica shoot; which has already left me feeling somewhat behind the eight ball to kick off 2012 – plenty of work ahead of me.

Colours of Iceland at the Wilderness Gallery

2012 is shaping up to a very busy year with a lot of travel including some time in France, Italy (Venice), London and Iceland (I am particularly looking forward to my workshop in Iceland in July/August); plus more time in the South Island of New Zealand and Tasmania in the next few weeks. I have a new exhibition opening early in the year in Melbourne and my current exhibition at the Wilderness Gallery at Cradle Mountain will continue on for most of 2012. I have a lot of printing to do in the next couple of months to prepare for my Melbourne exhibition at Source Photographica and I am currently selecting images to include in the exhibition. Although I said this last year, I do intend to try and spend more time photographing down the Great Ocean Road in my home state of Victoria. This location is world class and even though it quite literally is in my backyard (just a few hours drive)  it has been much neglected by me – a situation I intend to remedy in 2012.

My travel plans seem to extend deeper and further every year and even though we are only at the beginning of 2012 I have extensive plans either underway or already in place for 2013. I will be leading another workshop to Iceland in July/August 2013 (I will be releasing details in the next few weeks on this trip for those who have already registered their interest) and then heading over to Svarlbad with my friend Daniel Bergmann to photograph the Polar Bears for a couple of weeks. I have already blanked out two weeks in my calendar for the South Island of New Zealand in April 2014 with my friend Martyn – seems a long way off still; but I guess it will be here before we know it. 2014 is also the year I hope to finally make it to Africa with my good friend Andy Biggs and tick the last of the seven continents. Amongst all of this I plan to try and get to Moab and Death Valley in the States – assuming time, finances and the planets all align.

In terms of photographic equipment – The Canon 1DX will no doubt find its way into my camera bag in the first quarter of 2012; but I admit to secretly hoping Canon announce a new monster mega pixel camera to ‘really’ replace my venerable (but still amazing) 1DS MKIII. The 1DX should be a phenomenal low light and wildlife camera; but given the majority of my shooting is long exposure and tripod based its application in my photography will be somewhat limited. I have decided to sell either my Canon 1Ds MKIII or MKIV in the next few weeks to make room for the 1DX. I only purchased the MKIV for Antarctica and although it is truly an excellent and remarkable camera I prefer the 1DS MKIII for landscape because its full frame (the difference in resolution is kind of irrelevant as what the MKIV gives up in resolution it makes up for in pixel quality). I am somewhat undecided on which to sell at the moment. I think I am just having a hard time coming to terms with the realisation that it probably is the 1DS MKIII that should be retired at this point. The trick will be minimising down time by selling the 1DS MKIII just as the 1DX turns up so that I am not without a full frame camera for more than a few days.

I admit to yearning for a Leica S2 after shooting with one in Antarctica (it really produces a stunning file), but I just can’t come to grips with the limited lens selection and economics of ownership of a complete package at this point in time. As per my Antarctica Debrief post I intend to keep a close eye on Leica’s support for the S2.  I spent some time looking into an Alpa STC and Cambo technical camera before I left for Antarctica in November last year and have not yet ruled one out as an option with a Phase One back. However, the industry feels to me like it is in somewhat of a state of suspended animation at the moment with high pixel count 30+ mega pixel DSLR’s on the horizon (but not yet officially announced) and I would like see some files from these new cameras before I make a decision. Other than the 1DX I really have no idea what else might make it into my camera bag this year. Speaking of camera bags – the new Gura Gear 22 litre Kiboko is likely to be added to my camera bag collection this year – specifically for short hikes from the car when I don’t want to schlepp my big fully loaded Kiboko (You can never have too many camera bags!)

I am also hoping to make a couple of exciting announcement regarding equipment manufacturers in 2012. More to come on this later.

Lastly, I am overdue with updating some of the other pages on my site/s and I hope to make some time over the coming months to bring my blog (and website at up to date.

Oh.. and before I forget – I have finally updated the photo of the month for January 2012. I rarely include people in my landscape photography; but on this occasion I felt the inclusion of the zodiac really helped give a sense of scale to the ice as well as adding drama to the scene with all of the photographers looking in the same direction – as if they can see something that hasn’t quite come into view yet for the rest of us. For me this photograph epitomises the wonderful experience I had during my 2011 Antarctica expedition. It captures and conveys the feeling of what it is like to shoot from zodiac amongst the ice under dramatic Antarctic skies.