About this Blog

Photo Writing is the web version of the Photo Writing mini-magazine produced by Limephoto and Emil von Maltitz since 2010. As of 2015 it is now completely online. Feel free to browse through the articles and please leave comments in the comments section if you would like to engage with us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Monotone Mountains - November Drakensberg Workshop

Getting back from Namibia I found myself hurled into commercial work - immediately photographing everything from windmills to recycled truck tyres. Reviews that were waiting in the wings also suddenly needed to be finished and my days were literally 3 hours too short to get everything done. Thrown into the middle of the end of year chaos, a quick Drakensberg workshop was like a visit to the doctor (or a zen garden possibly). My world found calm once more and I was able to breathe without thinking of deadlines, even if only for a few days.  2014 has been a hectic year with numerous workshops, a turgid financial start for most photographers I know and a sprint to the finish of December. As a result I found myself playing with image ideas that are different to my usual oeuvre - namely fiddling in monochrome.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Composing The Dunes Part 4 - Quiver Trees and Canyons (delayed workshop report)


Crossing the desert one last time we drove between Luderitz and the Fish River Canyon, before snaking our way back north-eastwards to the incredible scenery of the Quiver Tree forests north of Keetmanshoop. Crossing the desert was itself an experience. The tar B4 highway shoots straight as an arrow after the permanent dunes around Kolmanskop towards the west. Distances are truly vast, particularly when you get to the flat landscape of the Khoichab depression that looks more like it should be found on Mars than on earth. Searing heat throws up shimmering mirages that double the sense of vastness.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Composing The Dunes Part 3 - Picturing Ruins (delayed workshop report)

Traveling south from Sesriem along the D707 is an incredible experience. The vastness of Namibia’s desert landscape is only made more intense by its near emptiness. Our three vehicles moved rapidly along the dirt road that flanks the eastern edge of the Namib-Naukluft National Park, but still distances seemed to crawl by. That’s one of the complications of traveling in Namibia. the distances between locations are enormous. The workshop we are leading takes in four of the most iconic landscape destinations in Africa, but, they each require almost a full day’s traveling to get between. 


Monday, November 24, 2014

Composing the Dunes Part 2 - Ghosts of Trees (delayed workshop report)


The thing that strikes people most strongly when they first encounter the desert is the absolute vastness. It just stretches on forever. The horizon is a shimmering mirage that intensifies the sensation of endlessness. Add a cloudless blue sky and desiccating oven-like heat and you cannot help but be overwhelmed by the waves and waves of red sand marching into the distance. This is the Namib desert. Eerily beautiful and brutally harsh in the same moment.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Composing the Dunes - part 1: Spitzkoppe (delayed workshop report)


In what seems like the blink of an eye the Composing the Dunes workshop has suddenly arrived. I'm writing this overlooking the vast expanse of the grassy plains to the east of the Namib Desert on a rest morning that is much needed by our weary group of photographers. Although we have only taken in one of the selected landscape venues of the photography workshop, one of the photographers admitted that it seems unlikely that what we have already seen could possibly be improved upon. Yet, every inch of Namibia is like that. The country is a landscape photographer's dream.

Friday, October 24, 2014

FLM CB38-FTR Review

  

The review on the FLM CB38-FTR ballhead is now available on the Limephoto review page. I had some FLM gear for several months to test out and review and the CB38-FTR was the smallest of the 'full-featured' heads that I worked with.

Touted as FLM's 'all-rounder' ballhead, the CB38-FTR has the advantage of lightweight, but impressive holding ability and functionality. Read the review for more.

The ballhead is available from Sunshineco. in Cape Town, who will also no doubt be at the Johannesburg Photo Expo in November. As a bonus to anyone buying from Sunshineco, mention Emil or Limephoto and you will receive a 15% on your FLM purchase. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The advantages of working with a community development arm


Particpant at the opening match of the Macambini Sports ground - paid for in whole by Tongaat Huletts and Simamisa
Something I have come to really enjoy and appreciate with one of my clients is the level of charity work that I have automatically come to be involved in. By nature I am lazy. It’s not something that I like to admit, but I don’t seem to be able to have enough energy to do the things that I know I need to do. So, having a client that forces me to be out in the community is fantastic. The client in question is the Community and Rural Development Unit at Tongaat Huletts. The unit is under the steerage of Nkonzo Mhlongo (a remarkable and tireless woman who never seems to sleep). I mentioned her in a post that had it’s genesis photographing her in early 2013. At any rate, thanks to Nkonzo and her team I have found myself up and down the length of Kwazulu-Natal photographing rural schools, HIV clinics, paediatric wards and rural farmers associations.

Learner at Bhekeshowe during the KZN Rally to Read.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Drakensberg workshop - The Camera Doesn't Matter


Returning to the same locations continuously often affords incredible opportunities to see the changing character of a place. So it is with the regular workshops that I run along with African Impact in the Drakensberg. I am often asked by the photographers whether I get bored of coming back to the same sites again and again and again. Yes, there is certainly a sense of monotony before I actually arrive, but once I'm back in the mountains and the light is unfolding before me, all sense of monotony disappears. The light is never the same twice. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Just Get On With It

 The recent pent-up expectation and resultant disappointment by some and exultation by others over the biannual Photokina Trade Show in Germany has, once more, ruffled everyone’s feathers as to what gear they are shooting with and what they think they should be shooting with. To put this very briefly, Canon have updated their steadfast crop-frame pro camera to mark two status (7DmkII) and Nikon have ‘fixed’ the D600/D610 by introducing the D750 and they updated the D800 to the D810. The D800 has been touted as the best all-round camera available (arguably better than the Canon 5DmkIII) and the D810 only builds on this.

    So what happens? Suddenly there’s a plethora of Nikon D800’s, D610’s, Canon 7D’s and more all flooding the secondhand market. A multitude of photographers all look at their equipment, think to themselves, “I need better equipment to get better” and promptly sell off their hardly-used camera to fund the latest gear hit. Not necessarily the best way to improve but a fantastic way to drain through the bank account.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The One Frog Workshop!

Photographing frogs is a lot fun! There's a reason a small painted reed frog adorns my business cards. It was photographed years ago on Fuji Velvia when I was still a student at Rhodes University. Ever since then, whenever I get the opportunity I try to find some little amphibians to photograph. Of course there are a couple of pifalls to photographing frogs that you learn about pretty quickly. This is how you overcome them:

Friday, September 26, 2014

BTS - Carpet shoot timelapse

I have been doing a bit of work recently for an advertising company in Durban that have a carpet manufacturer as one of their clients. Usually the work is fairly ho-hum...glorified photocopier work essentially. You need to be able to understand colour and workflow so that you get accurate reproduction of colour. Basically you don't want to have a client look at the brochure and think that there is zero similarity between the product and the picture.

video


Monday, September 15, 2014

Johannesburg - A View From The Top

I was recently up in Johannesburg to finish a project for a client and took the opportunity to visit a friend living in the CBD of the city. For many people the city of Johannesburg is synonymous with unchequed rampant crime, squalor and poverty. Those with the means travel in and out as fast possible and only exit their vehicles once they are within the secured confines of a parking building. As an outsider to the city I too used to this was the case until I completed a project for Standard Bank in 2010.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

FLM CP26-S4S Tripod Review - Pint Sized Stability

I have just finished writing up the review on the carbon-fiber FLM CP26-S4S tripod. The full review is accessible on the Limephoto review page.

In short, this is a very impressive little tripod that makes a fantastic travel companion for a photographer needing a light, easily packed tripod. Read the review for the full set of impressions.

The tripod is available from Sunshineco. in Cape Town, who will also no doubt be at the Johannesburg Photo Expo in November.

As a bonus to anyone buying from Sunshineco, mention Emil or Limephoto and you will receive a 15% on your FLM purchase. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Looking At The World Through A Lens


Time for a little introspection: what is it that drives me to create images, to take photographs? To answer properly I have to turn this into a discussion. It’s quite an important discussion as the answer is different for every photographer. Understanding the motivations behind creating images has the potential to refine our vision, to make us better photographers ultimately. Its not an easy introspection either and I suspect that the answers that it conjures shift over time. Nevertheless, every photographer should at some point stop and consider why it is that they feel the need to view the world through a lens.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Climbing the Ladder Again - August Drakensberg Workshop


For the first time in over a year African Impact and myself ran a photography workshop that took us to the top of the Amphitheatre and the world famous Tugela Falls (one of the two highest waterfalls in he the world with a drop of 946m). For the past year we have only been doing workshops lower down in valleys of the Little Berg for various reasons. So it was with some excitement that I found myself approaching the chain ladder once more to reach the summit. This, after a sparrow's fart start to reach the viewpoint at the Witches by sunrise (requiring a walk in the dark of about an hour to an hour and a half depending on fitness). The photography as ever was fantastic, and the weather, amazingly, was dramatic without being uncomfortable. Perfect for a weekend of photography.  

Monday, August 4, 2014

Whither Do You Go?


The title of this essay could easily be rewritten as Software Woes. Of late, several software providers have been changing their product line quite dramatically, leaving photographers everywhere slightly befuddled, and somewhat poorer for the required financial outlay that they have to put forth. Adobe, Apple and Nikon are the biggest bombshell creators at the moment, but there is all likelihood that they will be followed by others shortly. So, what is the problem and what do you do to keep up with the myriad updates.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Contemplating The Wall - Notes on a Brief Architecture Workshop


Like most of the work that I do I have accidentally gravitated towards particular genres or types of photography. It's probably my OCD and control-freak personality that have sidled me into the world of architectural photography. It actually came as a surprise when a few weeks ago a recognised Durban wedding photographer approached me to put together an architectural workshop for a small group of advanced photographers (thank you Heidi). My first thought was, 'I'm not an architectural photographer am I?" It was only after looking through recent architectural work for clients that it struck me that it has actually become one of my specialities. So to the workshop....

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Working with Muddied Light - Drakensberg Workshop



The Drakensberg like any other mountain, or for that matter anywhere in the world, varies seasonally with the type of light that the photographer is likely to encounter. Although winter can be extraordinary with thick blankets of crisp white snow covering the escarpment, it can also be dreary, hazy and flat in terms of lighting. This last weekend on a landscape workshop with African Impact was pretty much like the latter. No clouds, plenty of smoke in the air from the controlled burns and an infinity of haze. Does this mean you give up on the photography though? Hell no!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

5 Reasons why I love my job

5 Reasons why I love my job


A short while ago I wrote a blog post about some of the myths that revolve around professional photography (you can read it here). Anyone reading this would unsurprisingly wonder why on earth any sane person would want to become a professional photographer. Some journalists are motivated by a higher calling, in which case photography is really a means to an end (portraying what they might consider, ‘The Truth’). But what about the average photographer who is not trying to break a story to the inexhaustible press? The fact is, I adore my job and there are several other photographers that I speak to who feel the same of theirs. So as a counter to my earlier article on reasons why not to become a photographer, here are five arguments for the profession:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Visualising the Image - Thanda Workshop


 Last week I was back in Thanda Game Reserve with African Impact to run their monthly photography workshop. It was a wonderful surprise to see two students from last year attending again. It's always great seeing familiar faces at these workshops and wonderful to see the difference between workshops in the skills and techniques that these photographers have learned (thanks to Chris and Richard for joining us again - see Mad Dogs and Englishmen Go Out in the Pouring Rain...).


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Post-Shoot Workflow

Working with students, it has often struck me how photographers, particularly those starting out, get bogged down in a discordant workflow that not only slows them down, but makes working with their images downright tedious. While recently reading a post on Lighting Essentials  by don Gianatti on systems, I realised how workflow is just another system. Scatalogical (as in illogical, not excrement obsessed) photographers like myself need to take heed of workflow otherwise serious photographic commitments suddenly turn into the first part of Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming’. To make sense of my post shoot workflow, I’ve broken it into steps that can be altered or made applicable to various different shooting scenarios (from photographing a sport’s day for a school to the desert in Namibia)

Step 1: On sitting down in front of a computer I ingest the cards that I have filled both to my computer and to an external hard drive. The second hard drive is a backup should anything happen to the primary drive. For art projects I tend to use Photo Mechanic for the ingest (I prefer the way that keywords are embedded in the NEF RAW files and the way that multiple RAW engines and their embedded jpegs can be used), but when I’m having to bash out images as quickly as possible to a client then I’ll use Lightroom as it’s likely the entire workflow will take place in this application.

Monday, June 30, 2014

In The Bag - Namibia Landscape Workshop


In the past I have been asked several times about the equipment that I travel with on workshops and landscape shoots. I have the ‘Composing The Desert’ (http://www.emilvonmaltitz.com/Namibia.pdf) Namibia landscape workshop coming up in November with Tailor Made Safaris, so it’s a good opportunity to discuss the gear traveling along with us. Before starting though, it’s worth noting that I’ll be driving up from South Africa, so am not as constrained by airline restrictions as some of the other photographers on the workshop will be.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Question of Ownership - copyrighting of ideas in photography



Owning property is a relatively simple thing. If I buy a camera it belongs to me. Proof of my ownership is exhibited in the form of a receipt from the company or person that I bought it from. Admittedly as the ‘thing’ becomes older the receipt as proof becomes less and less important and it’s simply taken as a given that this property belongs to me. If someone takes that camera from me without my consent, the law in just about every part of the world is fairly clear in that the person is a thief and has stolen the camera from me. For some types of property we continuously pay dues that confirm our ownership of that property (think of rates and taxes on our homes). Either way, the physical object has a definite owner.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Creating a Watermark signature in Photo Shop

I recently wrote about how to watermark an image using Lightroom (see this post) so as to protect your images from image theft once they are published on the internet. As shown (the old article is now posted on the blog here), it is fairly simple to watermark images automatically using the export features in Lightroom. I have received a number of request on how to create a graphic signature with a transparent background, so here it is:



Thursday, June 5, 2014

Back to the Museum - Lit portraiture on the fly and telling a story.


 From the outset I have to admit that I am a fan of Joe McNally, David Hobby and Don Gianatti’s portraiture work using small lights to create intriguing portraits (they don't know who I am from a bar of soap, but have all been quite instrumental in honing my lighting skills and techniques). Obviously working to brief one’s portraits have to actually be useful from a commercial point of view (every photographer would love to create portraits like Sebastião Salgado, but showing an individual in the grittiest of light isn’t necessarily what they are going to want, and remember, THEY are the client). I recently found myself back at Durban’s Natural History Museum to create portraits of several staff members for the upcoming edition of their in-house Thola magazine. In the darkened corridors of the displays I once again found myself pulling tricks and ideas from the three photographers mentioned above.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Watermarking Your Images

It is surprising how something as simple and mundane as watermarking images can cause such headache amongst beginner photographers. Everyone gets told, “watermark your images”, but hardly anyone gets told how to. Thankfully programmes such as Lightroom make this easy, but it is as easy in Photoshop. The basic idea of a watermark is a logo or piece of text that is embedded in the actual image so that copyright of the image is ensured. It also makes theft of the image rather difficult if the watermark has been placed affectively. If you are using Lightoom the easiest way is to export the image with a tick in the box that indicates that the image should be watermarked. Using Lightoom you have the option of either a simple piece of text or of using a graphic that you have created. The advantage of using Lightroom is that once you have made all your choices and created some templates, an entire export of images can be watermarked. If you are wanting something a little more complex than a text watermark the an image can often be more eye‐ catching. My watermark for the past few years has looked like this:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Building Relationships - The building blocks of composition


Successful pictures draw the viewer in and have them do a wander round the picture space. They engage the viewer, force the viewer to scan the image in its entirety and begin to ponder the moment of image capture. One of the most important ways of engaging the viewer through the image, is by building successful relationships between the elements that have been identified as core to the image’s composition and meaning. Relationships within the picture space engage our eyes and create a map through which the image is viewed. Relationships beyond the picture (symbols, intended meanings etc.) turn the image into a message which does the work of a thousand words.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Losing The Mirror

Over the last few years the category of ‘mirror-less’ cameras has made somewhat significant inroads amongst the photographic fraternity. Also known as ‘compact system cameras’ these digital cameras differentiate themselves from the full grown DSLRs by ubiquitously not having a mirror to direct light through an optical viewfinder. Rather, the image is composed via the rear LCD screen or a small electronic viewfinder (EVF). The imaging sensor is therefore not only responsible for capture, but also for composition, focus and to a large extent, exposure.

A comparison of size and weight - left to right the Nikon D800 at 900g, the Fujifilm XT-1 at 440g and the Sony NEX-5n at 269g


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Playing With Panoramics


 I have recently been doing quite a bit of panoramic shooting. Initially it was meant to be for a client that wanted a gigapixel image. Lots of internet searching later I thought I had everything sorted out...sort of...and went to work on my first gigapixel which I'll post at some point in the future. At any rate, the project is supposedly on hold until I actually receive a deposit or go ahead for the job in question. Completely coincidentally though, I was asked by a different client to do some panoramic of a hospital for their marketing department. Thanks to the unrealized project I now had the software in hand as well as some cobbled together hardware (I have yet to purchase a dedicated panoramic head as I still haven't decided which one). The software in question is the very specialized PTGui Pro. One commercial project later and I am starting to only just get to grips with it. 

Then along came a Drakensberg hike specifically to create some timelapse material for a project that I am working on. But, it also gave me a chance to play with some panoramics while waiting for timelapses to finish shooting. Above and below are two examples.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Element Approach


Over the last few months we have been looking at some of the principles of creative photographic composition. These being; the use of lines, space, showing distance, the ‘rule of thirds’ and framing. At this point it’s useful to start looking at composition in a more systematic manner, something that I refer to as the element approach to composition.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Great Photographs Require Walking! April AI Drakensberg Trip



Edward Weston apparently once said that, "Anything more than 500 yards from the car just isn't photogenic". This, I suspect, was made when he was more interested in still life than in landscapes. I also suspect that he may have changed his mind later in life considering some of his later images. The one thing about the statement though, is that he was dead wrong!



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

5 Myths Debunked (About Being a Pro Photographer)

Me in the Berg shot by a student, Dov on one of the Drakensberg AI Workshops
Being a moderately successful photographer I am often asked by students what steps they should take to going pro themselves. Particularly among the younger set are a few myths that I often find that I have to dispel first before getting into the nitty gritty of how to go about making a living from photography. As I usually do, I also recommend reading Michel Heron's excellent book 'Creative Careers in Photography' (South Africans can look here) which takes a no holds barred look at actually making photography pay. It's easy to look at the list and think I am being negative about photography as a career. Don't get me wrong - I adore my job. To the point that my wife complains about how I bounce out of bed raring to start work. So to get to the point:

Monday, March 31, 2014

Free Images?!?! - A Commentary on Getty’s ‘Embed’ Feature.

Last month Getty Images, arguably the world’s largest provider of stock imagery, raised the ire of thousands of photographers worldwide while simultaneously gaining praise from social media pundits and bloggers alike. The move was to open up some 35 million images for free usage by certain users in certain contexts.

Essentially social media and bloggers have access to a vast library of images that they can now embed on their sites for free. The catch is that the images have to be embedded via an iframe which essentially links the image to the Getty hosting site. The actual image isn’t actually stored on the blog page or website that is showing it. A further rub is that Getty is able to track and store information on the IP addresses that access that image link, Creating something of a headache for Google and future link protocols, Getty is able to ‘see’ whoever opens a page that contains an embedded image.  This is a vast amount of information that can be extraordinarily valuable for marketing. In addition Getty have been coy over potential plans to monetise this system through advertising. It also happens to be a blaring siren over issues of privacy. 




Friday, March 21, 2014

The Power Of Line In Composition


 In discussing lines in composition, there are two broad meanings attached to the concept of line. First is the physical phenomena or shapes that create the illusion of what we call a line (literal lines do not exist in nature). Second is the line that our eyes travel when viewing a composition. The former can be things like railway lines, power lines, the vertical trunks of trees, roads, con trails, the curving path of a river,  an extended arm...anything that reminds the viewer of a line. The latter type of line is implied and guides our eyes in a very definite fashion from point A to point B in the image. This line can even meander around the image, but the implication is still that the eye stays fixed to the perceived ‘route’.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Flowing Rivers - March Drakensberg Workshop with African Impact



I kicked off on the first Drakensberg workshop of the year with African Impact last week. A fantastic group joined myself and Nick van de Wiel from Tailer Made Safaris in the Royal Natal and Cathedral Peak Sections for a weekend of walking and photography. Unusually, for me, the weather was fantastic. Artfully clouded skies meant there was always interest up in the air and recent rains meant that the rivers were in near full spate.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Commentary on the World Press Photo Of The Year

(Image links were correct at time of writing)

This year’s World Press Photographer of the Year has been named as John Stanmeyer for his image of African migrant workers. Taken in Djibouti the workers are illuminated by moonlight as they stretch their arms into the air in an attempt to capture cheaper cell signal from neighbouring Somalia.

Controversy swirling around the image for once doesn’t relate to the actual capture of the image and its post-production - of which there is reportedly none. Rather, it revolves around Stanmeyer’s close association with one of the jury members of the awards, Gary Knight, both of whom are founding members of the VII Photo Agency.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Thoughts on the Nikon Df - updated (28th February 2014)


It took them 4 years (and that's official according to marketing literature) and was announced in a volcanic eruption of leaks and teasers. Thus the Nikon Df was introduced to the world and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Therein lies the problem with pushing the camera in tempting advertisements without actually giving specifics as to price and features. Nikon touted 'pure photography' and the feel of the retro camera with the teaser campaigns that they ran for the Nikon Df. It had Nikon users around the world promising kidneys and taking on bank loans in preparation for the new camera. There were even people on forums talking about how they had sold some of their pro level gear off in anticipation of buying this new camera that would take us all back to the glory days of the Nikon FM. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Shooting Distance



Arguably, the first thing that novice photographers attempt to ‘fix’ in their images is the issue of flatness. The way we perceive our world is three-dimensionally. The problem that first time photographers soon discover is that images are not three-dimensional, hence our interpretation of the two-dimensional is often one of flatness. The complaint tends to go along the lines of ‘this doesn’t do justice to what we saw’, or ‘it looked a lot bigger in real-life’ or simply, ‘it looked very different when we saw it’.

Friday, February 14, 2014

video


The Namibia workshop in November is approaching. There are four spaces left. If you are interested in joining, watch this video (includes timelapse and stills) to get a taste of locations we will be visiting. A higher higher resolutiion copy is available on Vimeo at this link: https://vimeo.com/86612883

Monday, February 10, 2014

Cathedral Peak Masterclass - 8th May 2014

Join me for a three night landscape masterclass in the stunning setting of the Cathedral Peak section of the Drakensberg this May.
A photographer at the top of Mike's Pass photographing the last light of day
This landscape oriented photography workshop takes place between the 8th and 11th May at Didima Camp - one of Ezemvelo Wildlife’s premier camps. The workshop caters to photographers who have a little more than basic photography skills and are wanting to hone their landscape abilities. In particular the workshop concentrates on landscape composition, use of filters, HDR blending and star trails (if weather permits).

Friday, February 7, 2014

Photographing the Mara


Two of the Maasai staff at the Encounter Mara camp in the Naboisho Conservancy

Last week I spent a fews days in Kenya’s Mara province on the border of the famous Maasai Mara National Park. The Mara is of course famous for the incredible animal migrations, particularly wildebeest and zebra, that cross the plains annually moving between the highlands and lowlands for seasonal grazing. I wasn’t there for the migration though. It’s too early in the year for that. I was there to photograph the relatively new ‘Encounter Mara’ tented camp in the Naboisho Conservancy.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Namibia Landscape Workshop - 4 spaces left



The Namibia Landscape Photography Workshop (Composing the Dunes) is taking place from the 1st of November until the 12th of November 2014. The workshop begins and ends in Windhoek Namibia. Unlike other Namibia tours and workshops we focus on landscape photography and concentrate on spending as much time as possible in the certain locations, rather than trying to cram in as much as possible. To this end we usually spend at least two days in each prime location (other workshops often do a whistle stop at the best sites, and charge on to the next). This means that not only do photographers multiple opportunities to capture these incredible locations, but can do so after learning from initial shoot images (image crit sessions are strong focus on the workshop).

Monday, January 27, 2014

Space - The First Frontier


For many photographers, the first mistake they make in composition is trying to fill the picture frame. I’m guilty of this myself, particularly with wildlife photography. There’s the big lens theory that you need to get a big fat piece of glass on the front of the camera so that you can fill that sensor with the leopard in a tree. For landscape photographers there’s the converse, little lens theory, that you get as wide a lens as possible so that you can fill the frame with as much of the landscape as possible. Then with all these wonderful big and small lenses we wonder why our images look dull and uninspired. It’s because filling the frame is not necessarily the best way to create a meaningful image. Sometimes, you need to leave it empty.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bang On - Build Quality and Ergonomics - Part 3 of Choosing a New Camera

The Nikon F4s - what I consider one of the most ergonomic, easy to use and rugged cameras ever designed. It was a sheer joy to use and even ended up being my primary body when shooting film, despite owning a Nikon F100 (image from Wikipedia)
Oddly the way a camera feels in the hand is often the last thing that a potential buyer considers when selecting a camera. This is particularly the case now that the internet has become the great big mall in the sky. It's so easy to click on a button and 24 hours later a shiny toy arrives at the gate. Then the buyers remorse sets in as you quickly realise that although said toy looks like the pictures on the websites, it doesn't feel anything like you thought it would.

Monday, January 13, 2014

To see or not to see, the viewfinder is the question Part 2 of selecting a new camera

Left to Right: Physical size differences between the Olympus E5 (traditional DSLR with optical viewfinder), OMD-EM5 (Mirrorless with electronic viewfinder) and Pen EP5 (Mirrorless without viewfinder)

In the first part of this series (read it here) I discussed the size of sensor as a critical factor in deciding what camera to buy. I’m now going to look at the viewfinder as the next tick box in deciding what camera to opt for.

A few years ago the Four Thirds conglomerate (being Olympus and Panasonic) brought out what they called 'Micro Four Thirds' by removing the mirror from the camera. This meant that the optical viewfinder had to be done away with entirely. Thanks to digital, users could now see the image directly on the camera’s LCD screen. This meant for a considerably smaller and lighter camera than photographers were used to, while retaining most of the functionality of a full sized DSLR with optical viewfinder.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Decision, decisions, decisions - part 1 of choosing a new camera


It’s the start of a new year and photography has seemingly never been as popular. Everyone is capturing moments and creating imagery whether it be with a smartphone or a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera. What with the recent glut of new cameras, with more announced in the early round of trade shows, and the drop in prices that follows every Christmas, a lot of photographers are looking at buying new equipment. More to the point a lot of people are looking at buying their first serious camera. This article is primarily intended for this first time buyer, but might be of interest to anyone who has been asked for advise on what to buy in the past. My thoughts below are obviously subjective, but having taught photography at various levels since 2000, they form a marginally educated viewpoint.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The 'Rule' of Thirds


Over the next few months the Photo Writing editorial (sent out to subscribers) is going to be devoted to a tenet of composition. This month is going to start with the rule that seems to be taken as a biblical guidance caste down in stone as the 11th commandment for photographers: The Rule of Thirds (hereafter referred to as RoT). This piece of guidance is viewed by many as a starting point for composition. It’s muttered like a mantra at camera-club meetings (woe betide the photographer who dares not use it at one of these gatherings), and is often the first thing that is mentioned in books on photographic composition. The problem with such a strong term as ‘rule’, is that photographers will sometimes feel that they have to craft the image so that it fits the rule, rather than look at the elements and allow them to fall into place in a manner that works best.