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 14, 2016

Romanticism in Landscape Photography

For a long time viewers have been aware that the photograph is far from a truthful depiction of the world. I suspect as more individuals become au fait with photography and its precepts through the proliferation of social media driven imagery, the awareness of the photograph as an imperfect record has actually been heightened. Thanks to apps like Instagram and the ubiquitousness of the smartphone camera we are literally all turned into photographer-voyeurs of the world, peering through the lens far more readily than we ever would have in the past. In turn this affects the way that we consume images. There is a greater suspicion of the image’s depiction of truth. It is ironic then that we are so easily easily fooled into believing ‘fake’ news, as is currently circulating in the mainstream media.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sirui K-30X Ball Head Review - The Middle Ground Master

In a relatively short period of time Sirui have entered the photographic equipment market and created something of a name for themselves. Unlike a lot of copycat Chinese firms, they create their own designs (although often inspired by some of the traditional European and American tripod companies, but not directly copied) and try and innovate in interesting ways. The result is a competent set of equipment that punches way above its price tag. There are quirks admittedly, but quirks exist in the long historied Italian and German tripod brands too. Sirui have definitely become a tripod and tripod head brand that is worth considering for prospective users. In particular they have become known for their high quality attached to a ‘reasonable price’.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Protec Voices

One of the things that I really love about the work I do is when I get involved in a photographic project. Sometimes it's for a client, sometimes it's personal. Over the years I have been involved in a few that have been meaningful to me. Protec Voices is one of those. To set the scene; Protec is a non-government, entirely donor funded education intervention scheme concentrating on the sciences. Essentially, what Protec does is identify young learners in disadvantaged schools who show promise, but because of their circumstances are unlikely to achieve their matriculation - let alone a university exemption - in order to study further. The problem, being donor funded, is that they rely wholly on said donors. Which is where I became involved.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

On Originality

 There is no such thing as originality sadly. Every idea created is essentially a reworking or even a distillation of ideas that have come before. In fact, often what we see as the original is in reality a copy; sometimes even a direct facsimile of something that has come before. In the professional creative world this does raise some interesting dilemmas. For a start, how do we protect copyright when everything is essentially just a copy of something created before. In Kirby Ferguson’s entertaining and illuminating TED talk, ‘Embrace The Remix', he points out how everything in art is actually a remix or a reworking of something that has come before. He uses the example of Bob Dylan who now jealously guards his own ‘copyright’, yet almost every example of his most influential work is actually a remix of other artist’s work. To put it succinctly - by today’s standards - Bob Dylan is a plagiarist. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Creativity Crunch - Fighting Photographer's Block

Writer’s Block. It’s a terrible thing. Anyone who has ever had to sit down and put thoughts onto paper and sound interesting at the same time knows the stomach churning terror that is writer’s block. One of the reasons I shifted Photo Writing to a wholly blog format was the stress and sleepless nights that began to mark the end of each month as the self-imposed deadlines of the pdf mini-magazine rapidly neared. Often I found myself gripped in the icy embrace of a creative slump. Writers block at its worst is a paralysing condition where the deep-seated concerns of non-creativity start to feed on themselves and the writer’s block itself turns into a black hole that simply sucks up any ounce of creativity only to leave the gnawing fear of the writer’s block itself. All this for a series of email-based ramblings that didn’t even earn me any actual income. No thanks.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Studio Lighting Workshop

Teaming up with Myllo Menorah, we'll be running a studio lighting workshop on the 26th of November at Ambassador House in Durban. Spaces are limited to only 4 photographers so that there is maximum studio time and learning with the model who we will be using for the day. 

The day's workshop will cover aspects of lighting such as the inverse-square rule, types of modifier to use, as well as shaping light. We will go through a host modifiers from the classic shoot through umbrellas to Parabolics and into the world of softboxes, beauty dishes and snoots.  

To book please contact me on the attached email link. Cost for day, which includes lunch is R1900.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Trending Continued - Photokina 2016 and beyond.

The dust has finally settled after this year’s Photokina tradeshow in Germany. This is the biannual consumer photography tradeshow where companies like to present major product announcements and the general photographic public starts to get an idea around what the future holds in terms of imaging equipment (or at least still imaging as the National Association of Broadcasters show - NAB - still tends to be the major announcement platform for the video industry). It’s not necessarily that companies are likely to sell more product if they present at Photokina, but what the show does is strengthen or potentially weaken consumers’ perception of a brand. Thus Photokina 2016 was a ‘win’ for Fujifilm and Hasselblad and to a lesser extent Sony. It was a middling affair for Canon, and arguably Olympus and Panasonic (the micro 4/3rds cameras had a better showing that Canon, but were overshadowed by Fujifilm and Hasselblad’s announcements). It was a complete washout for Nikon and Ricoh/Pentax.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sirui T-2204x Tripod Review - A Traveler’s Friend?

I like tripods. In particular I like big tripods. Big and heavy tripods. The reality though is that the vast majority of photographers don’t like tripods. They really don’t like big tripods and they positively hate big and heavy tripods. So when photographers eventually do get round to investing in a tripod they invariably buy the lightest, cheapest, smallest tripod around. Basically the worst thing you could possibly do as a photographer. Yet, I have to admit that as much as I like big and heavy tripods there are times when I wish they didn't physically hurt you on anything more than a 100m foray from your vehicle. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Kubu - Island of Giants

Landscape photographers seem to have a penchant for hard to reach out of the way places. Yes, we tend to seek beauty in the landscape, but there is also the quest to find the unusual. Places like Dead Vlei in Namibia are not so much beautiful as astounding. They defy our usual imagination of the world. The much photographed Yosemite Valley is alluring, not only because it is beautiful, but because it is otherworldly. Like the hanging cliffs of Vietnam, it looks more like something out of the imagination of a science fiction novel. Of course we tend to forget that Science Fiction is very grounded in what we experience and have in our own world, just on a imaginatively grander scale. When that grander scale turns out to be real, well it just floors the landscape photographer.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Blind Brand Loyalty

I had a fascinating conversation with a prospective student photographer a few weeks ago when she admitted surprise that I didn’t personally shoot with Canon cameras. She believed, so she said, that all ‘professionals’ used Canons. This tidbit of information she had gleaned from a photographic safari guide who apparently shot with Canon and authoritatively informed her that professional photographers all used Canon cameras. Amused as I was I went through the motions of describing how I feel one should choose a camera for personal use, not simply that you choose a camera based on what someone else has recommended (although word of mouth is most certainly the best advertising that one can have).

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Why Post-Process?

An exposure blend of three images, manually stacked and selectively blended. The goal of the posr-production was to recreate the scene as I perceived it at the time.

Photoshop, or the use of post-production, is something of the naughty boy in class at the moment. From the heavy-handed criticism of Steve McCurry (see this article in The Wire) to the outright stripping of titles in competitions such as the World Press Photo Awards (World Press Photo Awards disqualified 20% of the finalists in the 2014 competition due to overuse of editing software). Celebrities too have suddenly gotten churlish around the use of Photoshop (which admittedly has been used so badly that the results are often more laughable than attractive). The public, desperate for some semblance of authenticity, jumps on the bandwagon and crucifies anyone slated with the terrible accusation of, “it was done in Photoshop”. So, ‘post-production’ gets to sit in the corner with the dunce cap on.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Tuli Wilderness Photography Workshop

Nestled into the south eastern corner of Botswana, spitting distance from Zimbabwe, lies the mopani wooded Tuli Block. The area is characterized by red sandstone ridges, snaking riverbeds lined with towering lead wood and apple leaf trees and a night sky like something out of a mythical story. This was the setting of the 'Romancing The Trees' Tuli wilderness photography workshop.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tips to Speeding Up Your Lightroom Develop Workflow

One of the primary advantages of a Lightroom-centric workflow is the ability to speed up post-processing and decrease the amount of time spent behind a computer. Here is a quick list of the some of the ways in which to speed up the time spent in the Develop section. This is geared in particular to large batches of images; the type of photography that event photographers would potentially have to deal with. However, the tips will benefit anyone having to work through a large amount of images with similar tonal attributes (Sports, Wildlife, Portrait etc.)

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Upgrade Path - Where To Spend your Money

There are oodles of new bits of kit hitting the market at the moment and it’s likely to only get more exciting as Photokina pops up on the near horizon. Wow, all the new toys. Which leads to the usual round of “should I upgrade”? To be entirely honest I have been in a similar quandary over the last few weeks. The announcement of the new Fujifilm XT-2 has had me practically salivating at the prospect of shooting with it. However, a careful look at the work that I shoot made me reappraise my longing for the small Fujifilm and think more carefully about needs vs. wants. A discussion with the Durban photographer Graham Carruthers, who is also very much entrenched in the Fujifilm camp, further cemented my thoughts on the so-called upgrade path.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Is Passion Important?

You often hear the advice that one should ‘follow one’s passion’. I want to break this down a little. What exactly do ‘they’ mean by ‘passion’. According to the Oxford English Dictionary that I still keep like a bible next my desk, passion is: 1) a strong, barely controllable emotion, 2) an outburst of anger, 3) intense sexual love, 4) strong enthusiasm. The wording really revolves around the intensity of the emotion. In some ways the Concise OED doesn’t quite define the intensity of the interest enough. The online urban dictionary does a better job in my opinion (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Passion):

“Passion is when you put more energy into something than is required to do it. It is more than just enthusiasm or excitement, passion is ambition that is materialized into action to put as much heart, mind, body and soul into something as is possible.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Understanding the Difference Between Catalogues, Folders and Collections.

When you have been working with a programme for years you can sometimes forget how confusing some of the basic concepts of that application can be to someone just starting out with that programme. A case in point is Lightroom. I have been using the programme pretty much since it’s inception. At first I only really used it to catalogue my finished images, preferring instead to rely on Nikon’s slow but image quality superior Capture NX 2. When Nikon ditched upgrades to their app, I was forced to swallow the Adobe pill completely. Still, this has meant working with Lightroom in a limited or full capacity for the last 10 years. Sometimes, as my assistant reminds me, I forget that the way Lightroom handles files can be confusing and frustrating to many. The single biggest ‘issue’ I have come across is the confusion between Catalogues, Folders, Files and Collections. Here is a rough guide to work one’s way through the confusion.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Wandering The Wild Coast 2016

I happen to be extraordinarily lucky that I get to visit some amazing places with photographers of a similar minded disposition. That would be: individuals who are basically obsessed with photography and with the way that it allows us to view the world. A recent jaunt with a Nature's Light workshop down the Wild Coast was just such a trip. Incredible star studded nights, phenomenal morning light and an epic night shoot over one of the Wild Coast’s most iconic geographic features made this year's Wandering the Wild Coast workshop truly memorable.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Stolid and Dependable - The Sirui N-3004x Tripod Review

Choosing a tripod can be quite a difficult decision. There is always a compromise that you have to make somewhere. We want stability, light weight, low price and large size pretty much as an ultimate goal when selecting a set of tripod legs. The problem is that we rarely get more than two of those options ticked off. So we have to make a compromise. Good tripods essentially manage to tick off three of those four. Great tripods tick all four boxes with the large caveat that one of those criteria are in relation to its peers (for example ‘well priced’ in relation to its competition does not mean cheap). Aluminium tripods are an attempt to get the most bang for buck out of a tripod, but they come with the hefty (excuse the pun) drawback of increased weight.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Why Photograph? - The Experience, and why Canikon fails to excite.

In a TED talk by Joseph Pine on what consumers want, Pine discusses the fact that we are in a experiential economy. Marketers sell an experience. This is very different to selling a commodity, a good or a service. The gist behind the talk though, has more to do with the sense of authenticity that a particular product engenders. Further to this is the argument that there is no such thing as authenticity as all experience is manipulated in some way or another by humans (going for a walk in the mountains, a supposedly authentic activity, is done while wearing synthetic clothing to protect against the elements, a gps and map to help with navigation, a cellphone in case said navigation isn’t that effective while wearing boots made from cow skin and shod with rubber formulated in Italy…all manmade). Still, the idea is that manufacturers are trying to sell authenticity to their customers. The talk, which is a good one, had me thinking, but not necessarily about photography.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Context and Style - A commentary on a changing view of Steve McCurry

Tastes change. Yesterday we may have appreciated a particular artist for the work that they produced and tomorrow we may be indifferent to it, preferring that of another, potentially even of a contemporary of the former. Context changes too. Just consider the massive changes in technology that have swept through photography between the invention of the daguerreotype and the widespread acceptance of digital imaging. Each change of technology came along with new norms as to how to create imagery as well as how to read that imagery. A photographer unschooled in the history of photography might look at an image by Gustav le Grey and pronounce that le Grey was a poor technician of photography as his images lack acuity and that the compositions are far to central. The critic in this case is forgetting that Gustav le Grey was creating images in a time prior to even the 35mm camera, let alone roll-film and that his work was considered extraordinarily creative and artistic at a stage when the camera was predominantly seen as a tool of recording, not of artistic 'creation'.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Photographic Industry in Doldrums?

I was recently invited to give a talk on my work and being a professional photographer to a group of first year photography students. I thought it might be worthwhile delving into the business of photography as it often seems to be one of the subjects that is all but avoided by teaching staff at both university and technical colleges alike. Simple enough I thought. We could take a look at pricing work and getting into the industry. The talk itself went fairly well I thought. However, it opened an internal can of worms that have been wriggling around listening to the echo chamber that is the internet. Most notably is the fact that I have been reading a host of negative posts around the profession of photography. So a mini question mark erupted as to my own chosen profession.

(note: reading "The Future of The Profession" which I wrote in January 2013 makes for a good prequel to this post) 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Revisiting the iPad in the field

Several years ago I tried out traveling without my MacBook, opting instead to rely solely on an iPad for image backup and management (Read the article here to refresh). At the time I found the iPad was fairly limited due mainly to the lack of applications that could effectively manage images and the limited space that was available to store the images once on the iPad. A few small things have changed in the intervening years. The iPad has not only gotten lighter, but has grown in storage. Sadly not that much has changed in terms of usable applications. In one large instance, things have gotten worse.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Durban Street Photography

 Street photography is most certainly not my forte. Not by a long shot. In many ways my photography is an extension of my personality and control tends to be something that I need. I don’t like the feeling of being out of control. Street photography has always meant letting go in some ways. There’s a lot less control, particularly to someone who feels unfamiliar in the melee of street photography. Possibly ironically, I feel a lot more comfortable photographing in rural situations, possibly as a result of a background in rural research where I lived in a community in the Caprivi Strip for a while. at any rate, the constant movement and bustle of street photography has always alluded me for a variety of reasons. Most notable of these is the act of approaching a stranger and photographing them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Those Who Can't, Teach - What BS

I was recently reading an article on the merits of quitting the day job and going ‘all-in’ to freelance photography. The article in question sounded a more negative note than many that float around on the internet. I agree with the caution that the writer recommends. I’ve written before about the realities of working as a professional photographer. However, there was one line, flippantly added, that raised my ire. In the writer’s words: “Those who can’t, teach,” is perhaps more real in photography than any other creative field. I certainly agree that there is a load of bumpkin on the internet regarding photography. It’s the internet after all. It isn’t exactly like there is a panel of peers vetting the quality of information that gets out there. But that one pithy line, taken as a truism by many, also disregards the importance of good teachers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Sirui K40x Ballhead Review

I have started to become quite familiar with some of the equipment that Sirui have to offer. I now look forward to playing with the various pieces of support gear that TheSunShine Company are kind enough to loan me for testing. Before even starting this review, I have to point out that my opinion of Sirui is that they manage to produce attractively priced, competent, professional equipment. At least for the South African, the concept of attractively priced is probably the most important feature of new equipment. The point though, is that the Sirui heads can withstand most of the abuse that we hurl at the European and American equipment that costs up to four times as much. Testament to my respect for the company is that I own and use some Sirui products.

So, I was excited to receive the relatively heavy package containing the Sirui K40x ball head. Unlike other pieces of equipment that I have reviewed in the past, I happen to have kept my hands on this unit for a relatively decent period of time. A year to be exact. The K40x has been my de facto ball head literally since the beginning of 2015 (I am finally writing this up in April 2016). Although it wasn’t a match made in heaven to start with, I grew to thoroughly respect this tough ball head.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sirui R-5241XL Tripod Review - The Three Legged Tank

First impressions are lasting apparently. That certainly seems to be the case with the Sirui R-5241XL tripod that I was loaned by The Sunshine Company towards the end of 2015. As soon as I received it I was gobsmacked by the size of the carbon-fibre behemoth. A casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that this is a field artillery piece rather than a tripod. It is seriously large… and heavy. This is not a casual tripod. It is not a ‘let’s go for a quick hike and bring the pod in case’ tripod. It is not a ‘keep under the airline limits’ tripod. It is not a tripod for the odd bit of photography. This is a serious tripod. It’s for photographer’s who appreciate serious support. It’s for pedantic landscape photographers, demanding cinematographers and studio photographers who feel like having an enormous set of legs to impress the models with. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

An Ode to the F

67 years ago this April Nikon announced the Nikon F SLR camera. To me, this is one of the most important cameras to have emerged in the 20th Century. Certainly, there were plenty of firsts from other manufactuers, such as Contax which produced the first pentaprism viewfinder for a camera in 1949 (the Contax S) as well as the first automatic diaphram lens in 1956 (the Contax F). The precurser to Pentax, Asahiflex, introduced the first automatic return mirror (the Asahiflex IIb) and of course the first true Single Lens Reflex camera was the German made Ihagee Kine Exakta in 1936. What made the Nikon F special was that it put a bunch of ‘firsts together’ and went on to become the professional system camera of choice for over a decade (some would argue for far longer). 

Street Photography Workshop with Myllo Menorah

Photographing people on the street has to be one of the most daunting things that a photographer can do. Some of us look at street photographers of yore as well as of today and are incredulous as to how they manage to do it. What exactly is that secret sauce that allows photographers to approach complete strangers in the street and create photographs of them? This has long been a question of mine too, and one which I grapple with constantly when I shoot on assignment. Enter, Myllo Menorah, a Durban based street photographer whose work is truly inspiring, brave and filled with pathos. Nagging and tugging on his arm and has finally relented and agreed to run a street photography workshop a small group of photographers. 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Introduction to Nik Color Efex Pro and U-Point Selections

I have just posted an introduction video on using Nik on vimeo which can be accessed on this link: https://vimeo.com/161909460

A couple of weeks ago Google announced that their popular Nik Collection of editing plugins would now be free. Gratis. No charge. Originally, before bought Nik, the full collection was a whopping US$349! Photographers believed that it was worth it that price. A couple of years ago Google bought out Nik and began to charge $149 for the collection. Fantastic news for everyone. Then the price was dropped further to $99. At that price it was hard to ignore. Now that that the full Nik Collection os completely free it would be silly not to give it a try. Even if only to use the excellent Silver Efex Pro2.

The instant that the Nik Collection became a free to use application, I received a stream of requests on how to use it. Here is a short video on the use of Color Efex Pro 2, and in particular the use of the u-point selection point for localized adjustments. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Shooting A Personal Project - Faces in my Life

The advice that is given and often ignored is to shoot a project. From the conversations of David Hurn and Bill Jay to the more recent Angela Farris-Belt, to the ever popular internet sensations like Scott Kelby; everyone advises budding photographers and old hands alike to shoot personal projects. Personally I have always found this extremely difficult. My mind needs the crunch that is a client based deadline to be proactive. Otherwise I find myself swanning from one thing to another. Projects like the book I produced for Standard Bank or the timelapse video I put together for Nature’s Light are a lot easier for me to do because someone is relying on me to do it. Give me a project and it gets done. The fear of letting someone down is an extraordinary motivator. When it comes to personal projects the only person there is to let down, is yourself. Maybe that’s worse. What it has meant though that personal projects in the past have been non-starters. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Colouring The Light Fantastic

The caste of 'Maddams' family in 2015. The image was created using the 'one-light wrap around' technique as well as gelled strobes (Magenta, Blue and 1/2 CTO)

Light has colour. It’s part of the reason why we love sunrises and sunsets so much. That golden glow on the skyline is warm and inviting. The colour of candlelight is similarly warm and inviting. On the other hand, I don’t think I have ever heard anyone talk about the intimacy and warmth of fluorescent tube lighting. Then you get the new LED lightbulbs with their cold blue light which manufacturers go to great pains to transform into a warm glow reminiscent of tungsten bulbs and candlelight. So the colour of light is important. As photographers we need to be aware of this colour, and more to the point, how to change it.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Amateur, Professional, Image Maker.

A photograph I created before I started Limephoto and trying to earn a living through my camera 
There is often the conflation that serious photographers are professional photographers. On top of this everywhere you look there are people claiming to be professional photographers. I guarantee you know someone who is a ‘professional photographer’. In fact you probably have one in your family. I get regular calls from individuals wanting to get some basic training under their belts so that they too can “make money out of photography”. So when you look up someone on Facebook and they claim to be a ‘professional photographer’, they probably are, in the simple sense that they earn an income through photography. Professional does not necessarily mean good, and by no means does it mean masterful.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Strobist Approach 2.0 - The Middle Ground

Several years ago I wrote a short article entitled the Pros and Cons of the Strobist Approach. In the intervening years a lot has happened in the world of flash photography. I repeat, a lot! The original article looked at the differences between strobism, which involves the use of small flashes to make big light, and the use of studio lights, or monoblocks. I’d urge you to read the article before continuing, but in nutshell it came down positives of hotshot flashes being cost, durability and flexibility, while their inherent weaknesses were again cost, significant lack of power and modifiers. The most significant change from when I wrote the original article is the advent of affordable battery pack strobes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The One Light Wrap Around

Picture a scenario where you have to photograph an object. A large object. Think vehicle, or perhaps even a building. Now you have to light this object with strobe light. What do you do? Do you hire a truck load of lighting equipment? There's a trick I use to create a unique lighting effect with the use of one small strobe. Essentially it's the same principle as painting with light; I light the object multiple times and from different directions. The result is a buildup of light around the object, giving the effect of multiple lights being used.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Finding Balance (In Our Image Making Approach)

One of my more artistic impressions. Power-lines in Namibia marching over the sands

Psych tests. If you haven’t already completed one, you are likely going to find it in your social media feed in the next few days. I’m referring to the current fad to take the left/right brain tests that seems to have cropped up on social media of late (in between the even more vocal accusations, assertions, and excuses for racism and bigotry…but that’s a different post). So I took the one presented to me by my wife at 5:30 in the morning. Bleary eyed, I completed it and moved on. Then more people started to talk about and it got me thinking a little more about the results and whether they have a meaningful insight into my life as a photographer. My eventual conclusion: they explain what kind of a photographer I am, not whether I am a photographer, or a even a good photographer at that.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Colour Shifts and Working Without Gels

I found myself on a photoshoot a few weeks back without my lighting gels. The horror, the brief moment of panic. Not my finest moment admittedly. However, there is a very simple fix in Photoshop that probably does an even better job than using gels in the first place.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Where the *%*k are my pictures!?!? Synchronising files in Lightroom

If you have been using Lightroom since it’s inception it might seem absolutely natural to you and finding images is as simple as using the efficient and simple filters. If like the 90% of photographers I have worked with, Lightroom seems to have it’s own nascent (and petulant) brain that apparently throws your images away, then this article below might make some sense of Adobe’s enfant terrible and its unruly behaviour. At any rate, it might at the very least stop you from throwing your iMac through a window.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

In The Mood For A New Camera - New (Important) Toys

In the mood for a new camera? Despite the camera industry being in turmoil and sinking wherever one looks, there are some truly spectacular cameras that have just been announced. Will they improve your photography? doubtful. They will take a sizable chunk out of your wallet though, all so that you can have the latest greatest iterations out. That, is what these new cameras are: iterations. However, they are extremely important iterations that set new benchmarks. I’ll check my sarcasm for a moment and make the point that they are quite likely some of the most important iterations in cameras that we have seen in almost 5 years.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Quick and Dirty Layers Mask Tutorial

In collaboration with Nature's Light (a photographic expedition company that I partner in) I have just uploaded a new video tutorial on layers and masks. The tutorial can be viewed on Vimeo at this link

Monday, February 8, 2016

Giving It The Finger - A Photoshop Layering Technique

As much as I am a fan of the single capture approach to image-making, there are times that the opportunities that digital photography and multiple image capture offer, open up a whole new realm of picture possibilities. I don't mean that Dali-esque images are possible - which they admittedly are - but that we are better able to create images that match our experience of the scene. A case in point is photographing into the sun. When we look into the sun we are able to take in a lot more of the scene's tones through our naked eyes than through any kind of camera, be it digital or film. A solution that has been used extensively by digital photographers, but also by film photographers of yore, is to shoot multiple frames as different exposures and then blend the images to create a result with a wider tonal range than is possible from a single frame capture. Than are other complexities than the tonal range though. A particular issue is that of flare. 'Giving it the finger' is my solution to this.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Importance of Post Production

“….a negative is only an intermediate step toward the finished print, and means little as an object in itself. Much effort and control usually go into the making of the negative, not for the negative’s own sake, but in order to have the best possible “raw material” for the final printing.”

Ansel Adams: the opening paragraph to ‘The Print’.

An image of a close family friend shot on film for a personal project. Despite being shot on Ilford film, post-production is involved.
In some ways not much has actually changed since Ansel Adams wrote the above opening to his book, ‘The Print’. ‘The Print’ was first published in 1983. If you replace the word ‘negative’ with ‘RAW file’ there is a remarkable applicability of the concept to our current understanding and usage of photography. Then, as now, the final image was the most important factor in the creation of the image. The negative was only a half way step to the final image. Even if photographers used transparency film, often the final print didn’t look exactly like the original transparency (although adepts of ‘straight’ nature photography loved the simplicity of the transparency, albeit with the concurrent difficulties of capturing a range of tones on a medium of such limited exposure latitude). To me, post-production is really the same as Ansel Adam’s print. It is a mechanical and artistic process by which we transform the RAW file into a presentable image.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Speeding Trucks

I really enjoy the process of working through a brief to try and actualise a client’s ideas or vision. The odd part is that a lot of clients get excited about the ideas, but then falter once you put the logistics behind a photograph on the table. Images don’t just create themselves; you have to work hard to create something new. That’s why I love it when I meet a client that gets excited about the process and is prepared to put the effort into creating great images. Thankfully, I met one such client towards the end of last year.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Digital Permanence - Reminiscing the Fading

Paging through an old family album, someone who has grown up in the digital era will notice something that to many of us born pre-digital (if there is such a thing) is commonplace. The fading image. Yellowed images and hue shifts are usual amongst the dozens of kodak printed postcard sized images that adorn the large photo albums that mark the passage of time for a family. Now the passage of time seems to be marked by a 'timeline' that pops up on our social networks; viewed on a computer screen dispassionately rather than sitting together on a couch and reminiscing.