Tuesday, March 29, 2016

3 generation farming family.

When I arrive at a farm location I never really know what to expect. Sometimes the light is difficult, sometimes, like this time, it was fantastic. Add to that a really nice family that enjoyed each others company and we have a winner. As the light alternated between sunny and overcast I was spoiled for choice. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Here are four views of Istanbul that I took about two years ago. We have been there a couple of times over the years and it is a fascinating place where we have met a diverse range of people from all over the world. We have made a great and lasting friend, met and had coffee with a British Admiral, photographed the tailor who has made all the shirts for the James Bond movies, and many many other hugely interesting people. The showmanship of the restauranteurs is second to none and a simple walk down the street can be an epic event. 

If you have not been there, you really should try it.
The Ayasofya was built around 537 and was a Greek orthodox Christian church until 1453 when it was converted to a mosque. You could spend days exploring its rooms and corridors and soaking up its history.

Tram tracks in the streets of Istanbul.

 After a couple of days we opted to have breakfast on the roof of our hotel. So glad we did. This is just a small wedge of the 360degree view from our table.

This shot speaks for itself. Mostly the streets are less congested than this and easy to navigate, but at certain times it it probably better to find a cafe and let the world pass by.


Steve Scalone and I were in New York with a few photographer friends when we decided to have a competition for the best photo of the Statue of Liberty.  I won with this shot. I was, however, the sole judge.  

I like those odds.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Two Great Kids in the Rain

I just LOVE rainy portrait shoots.
This is from today's session on their own property.

... and the three generations portrait of the boys from the same day.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Julia and Griff at Flaxton Gardens

Griff and Julia's wedding last Saturday was at beautiful Flaxton Gardens in the hinterland north of Brisbane. The Gardens are made for wedding photographers. All it needs a is a good-looking couple to round it out and we certainly have that in Griff and Julia..

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Whenever I photograph a family I try to always make a nice, meaningful portrait of the father and his son. Not many photographers think to make this shot. I do this for selfish reasons because, other than a blurry shot from a box Brownie, there are no photos of me with my dad, and I wish there were. I don't want any of my customers to find themselves in a similar position and no way to turn back the clock to get that shot. Quite often the customer does not see the same value in it that I do and that portrait is not purchased, but at least I tried.

Who let the dog out?

When I photograph families, I try to keep as much personality in the portrait as possible. Sometimes things don't work out so well. With this session I had photographed them the previous day, but did not really capture the family in a way that really said much about them. This is the first time in two years that I felt I needed a reshoot.
Soooo.... next morning, set the alarm for 4am and drove back out to redo the portrait. The individuals and other groups were ok, but the family group, not so much. As the kids were getting dressed I walked around the property and found this location on the bank of the dam. Even the dog was feeling good about the location and tried to follow a goanna up the tree. I think he is the star of the show!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mud and Cuddles.

Another one of the families from last week. The mud shots were a bonus that happened after I had finished photographing the family. It had just rained and the kids launched themselves into the mud beside the machinery shed. This was a total bonus and was completely unplanned.

... and there are some times when only a cuddle from dad will fix it.

Don't smile if you don't feel like it.

Last week saw me out of Brisbane again when I photographed more people for a book on farmers.

These three farm kids were a real pleasure. Actually I think all kids are terrific. They have no fear of the camera like many of their parents and usually take instruction better than many of their parents.

One of the misconceptions about portrait photography is that everyone has to smile. In most cases this tends to destroy the true shape of the face and can even tend to cheapen the portrait. In the portraits below (which were photographed out beside the woodheap) a huge smile would destroy the beautiful calmness we see in their faces.

These have a more timeless quality about them.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Chris and Tammy's Wedding

Last month I went to my old stamping grounds, where I started my first studio and met my wife  .... in that order.

One of the weddings I photographed back then has, since then, produced three offspring and so far I have photographed the weddings for two of them.

This is Tammy. She met Chris and they decided to marry and chose the luckiest photographer in the world to photograph their big day. (that's me)

I have chosen some of their photos to put on the blog, but my wife says I have to keep some of the good ones so that the album will still be a surprise.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

IMAGE MANIPULATION: How much is too much?

On Manipulation of images using Photoshop.

I was recently brought to task for the apparent overuse of digital manipulation using Photoshop and it caused me think on the subject a little more.

First of all, what is manipulation?

Before we even press the shutter release, we are effectively manipulating the image. In the pre-digital era, we would decide on whether we would use monochrome or colour film; then we decide on what aperture to use, which will have an effect on the depth of field apparent in the image. Depth of field is evident and peculiar to cameras with a lens and to a lesser extent we can see it when we close one eye and focus on a close object. We do not notice any softening or blurring of the image when we have both eyes open. So a two dimensional photographic image with shallow depth of field can be seen as a manipulation of the scene; shutter speed controls the amount of movement of an object registered on the film. Think of star trails over a horizon. This can never be seen with the naked eye; exposure controls the tones registered on the medium. We can cause any scene to be dark and moody or light and airy. Which one is correct? Neither? Both?

This line of thought can extend for every step of the photographic process, and so far we have only mentioned film. The digital photograph gives many more opportunities to make decisions. Jpg or raw? Straight image or composite? Etc.

We make conscious decisions every step of the way to a finished photograph. All of which can be seen as manipulation.

After the initial exposure in-camera, much of the decision-making is during post-production. We can look at an image and decide what can be done to improve it. In my case, it usually involves only selective burn and dodge, but many treat this just as a starting point and work from there with extensive manipulation.

Then take the portrait below.  This has quite a lot of manipulation compared to my usual. To keep the "feel" of the old car, I needed to change the colour of some shirts to keep a pleasing palette. Decisions had to be made about how much detail (or not) to leave in the background; a head transplant corrected a slightly less than perfect expression; I added highlights to the old car to increase the separation between the bonnet and the dark background. Finally, I reluctantly added a texture to the overall image to give it a grittiness that it seemed to lack. Compared to many or most portraits I see on the net, this amount of manipulation is minimal.

There is a saying that “you can't make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear”. Perhaps if you start with a SILK sow’s ear you are well on your way to success. A well composed, well exposed, well  thought-out image will give you a better final result than a hastily snapped, badly lit piece of rubbish. (having said that, there are many people who make a lot of money producing just that.) The former  could be used as components in a composite photograph that could stun the world.

Its a bit like making a cake. Using less than perfect ingredients will result in a less than perfect result.

Beautifully designed and lit components, aligned in a single composite image will be much more appreciated than a series of badly lit and poorly exposed pieces arranged on a canvas which then has a texture added to hide the imperfections.

I see the work of some of the Masters who regularly introduce several components into their image, and the results are truly amazing. Take Kenvin Pinardy in Malaysia http://www.pinardy.net who uses beautiful underwater images and adds in other, equally well photographed components to complete a final portrait.

So how much is too much?

I don't have the answer to this but can only offer my opinion.

Some years ago I had an image deemed ineligible to be judged because I had used a pencil to retouch a shoulder. Apparently it was not purely photographic. Carried through to a logical conclusion, that judgement would render many of the portraits in competition ineligible. The digital pencil, the Wacom tablet, would need to be banned.

Excessive manipulation is subjective. One man’s allowable is another’s excessive.

So I guess just about anything goes, but please, learn your craft and do it well.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Last weekend I spoke for the Leica Akademie at a full day workshop held at Fotofrenzy.
The main emphasis was to demonstrate and recognise how the existing light falls on a face and how to use that knowledge to create a well-lit portrait. The portraits below were made without any artificial help at all. No reflectors or flashes. Nothing but positioning the subject to make use of the existing light and pre-visualising the final print. I spoke about histograms and exposing the sensor to maximise the information so that detail can be kept in both highlights and shadows.  Armed with this file we can then print the file as we envisaged... all the necessary information is encapsulated within that range. 

These images are from the afternoon session and have been exposed using purely available light and then the tones were brought down using Photoshop or Lightroom before printing.

Below: These are the out of camera files from which these were made.  They are really not a great deal different from the final print. Certainly nothing that could not be done in a wet darkroom.

The candid portrait below is another example of exposing to keep the maximum amount of information in the file. It is generally referred to as exposing to the right and means that the bulk of the pixels shown in the histogram are slid to the right without clipping the highlights.  This was a candid shot of Stan while he was watching other things. When his portrait is printed down (darkened) as I had envisioned, we still have enough information in the highlights to keep detail. The only real Photoshop work was to remove the shoulder in the background.

You can see by its histogram from Bridge that there is detail held across the entire range from shadows to highlight. This gives a huge advantage instead of trying to restore highlight detail from an overexposed file. 

I think my next workshop for Leica will be in June. I'll let you know when I know.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

LEICA AKADEMIE training workshop.

I just put the finishing touches to my presentation on outdoor portraiture this coming Sunday.
Should be fun!  After some theory, where I give away all my secrets, we will spend a few hours of practical portraiture outdoors, indoors and between doors. After lunch at a great local restaurant, we have a couple of cooperative models to play with for an hour or two.

Like I said, should be fun.

Go here and book in if you are interested in learning about photographing people and things without carrying half a ton of gear.


These portraits below have one thing in common. There was absolutely no additional lighting or reflectors involved in their making.