Scorched leaf detail, Arnhemland.
Canon EOS 5DSR, 100mm macro lens, 1/160 second @ f4, ISO 400, tripod.
Click the YouTube link below to see a mini-slide show.
In many parts of Australia, fire is part of the seasonal ebb and flow. Flying into Arnhemland last year, we could see lots of spot fires all around. My understanding is some are lit by lightning stikes, others are intentionally lit for land management. Whatever the reasons, they add an accent to the landscape.
What struck me most about the aftermath was the colour. Rich orange and red browns dominated small sections of the bush and so the challenge was to create an interesting composition. However, as you will see from the location shot (you'll see it on the website), it was a very busy area with strong overhead light. It was challenging!
My solution was to get in close using a macro lens. I also looked for areas where the leaves were backlit by the sun, but the background was in the shadow of a hill or outcrop, thus making a dark background against which the leaf would stand out.
For macro work, I like to work on a tripod so I can precisely control my focus. The closer you focus, the less the depth-of-field, the less of your image will be in tack sharp focus. However, I didn't want the entire leaf to be sharp, just a section of it.
So with the camera nice and steady on a tripod, what's the problem? There was a very slight breeze. It really was hardly a hint of moving air, but it was enough to move the leaves ever so slightly. To maintain my aperture, I needed to choose a higher ISO setting (400 in this case) to keep my shutter speeds fast enough to arrest any movement.
In post production...
Canon's new EOS 77D - very connected
Canon isn't the only manufacturer to offer an app to connect its camera to the world, but interestingly, it says only around 10 percent of its users currently take up the free app and use it.
Now, with the greatest respect to Canon, the first iteration of its app was not the most svelte piece of software every written, but the new version looks much more user friendly and Canon claims to have ironed out all the interconnectivity issues by using a combination of Bluetooth and wireless. Again, Canon isn’t the only manufacturer to follow this path, so it's a sign of the future.
So where does that leave readers. If you purchase Canon's latest EOS 77D, you can use the Canon Camera Connect App to transfer your photos via wi-fi to your favourite social media platform. Set the camera to capture both raw and small JPEG files and just the JPEGs will be transferred, along with any picture styles and other settings. The results have to be a step up from what you're capturing now on your smart phone - even if it's just access to the shallow depth-of-field offered by a larger size sensor.
Canon realizes that not everyone buying its EOS cameras is an expert, so the EOS 77D includes built in visual guides that will show you what the different shooting modes do as you become more familiar with different settings.
There's a 24-megapixel sensor, a 45-point autofocus system and you can shoot at six frames per second. The EOS 77D has a top ISO setting of 25,600 and uses a Dual Pixel CMOS Auto Focus system to track subjects while shooting Full HD video.
For more information, visit www.canon.com.au/cameras/eos-77d
And if you're interested in a photography workshop in the next 12 months, I have places left on trips going to Arnhemland, Iran, Canada and Mexico. Full details on the Better Photography website!
Kath Salier was our 2015 Better Photography Photo of the Year winner and she is once again in the winner circle, this time with a highly creative image of an Icelandic lighthouse. The subject matter itself is popular and emotive, but it is the details and the treatment that take it out of the ordinary. It's not 'just a lighthouse'.
"The original image is of Reykjanes Lighthouse in Iceland. I was on a photography tour and this was one of our first stops. It was so windy here, it was hard to stay upright. In fact, I remember using one of the other photographers as a wind break! The sea was enormous and the ocean by the cliffs was just like a washing machine."
Kath used a Sony ILCE A7r with a Canon 70-300mm f4 lens (one of her favourites). "I had been shooting the waves using a fast shutter speed (1/1600 second @ f8.0), when I turned around and the lighthouse caught my eye. With the long lens. I was able to fill the frame."
After capture, Kath imports, catalogs and adds keywords in Lightroom, plus she makes some global adjustments to her selected raw files. Then it's into Photoshop.
Barry Shaw's title for his portrait entry is “Time Lines” and it is an image of a local character Shane.
"He's a guy with a very interesting life and personality. He has done many jobs and lived in many places; and his face is etched with many experiences. As a photographer, you can’t walk past him without not wanting to photograph him.
"Shane is one my subjects for a developing collection of portraits of locals and subjects of photographic interest. I am slowly building the collection with the aim of holding an exhibition to show people my style of work; to generate work and fulfil my goal of doing photography fulltime.
"You could say that I am a late bloomer with my photography. At 56, I am a more recent convert to digital photography, having worked in film for many years, with a love of black and white developing and printing. It is these skills that I now bring to my digital work and I really enjoy the creative freedom and possibilities that digital photography now presents. For my portrait work, I enjoy adding textures and building painterly effects that match the individual and give the image extra visual power and appeal."
Tidal stream, Arnhemland.
It's interesting what 'the judges' pick as being successful photographs. At the recent WPPI Awards held in Las Vegas, this print was lucky enough to earn a Gold Award, while three others from the same shoot and area earned Silvers or a Silver with Distinction. What makes this image better than the others?
You can see the other images by clicking through to the website, but I am going to suggest that I really don't know! I can't know, because I'm the author. I have so much baggage attached to these images that it is hard to be objective - and I don't want to be objective.
Unlike the other images, this photograph has very distinct lines breaking up the frame. Looking like a dirt road, they are tidal watercourses in Arnhemland photographed from a helicopter while on my photo workshop last year. The other images are more random in their design and not as compositionally obvious, and sometimes I think that the photographs that are elevated to Gold status are helped by being a little more straightforward.