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It's dark. There's just a glimmer of light in the eastern sky and we're walking by torch light along a board walk."It's somewhere along here", said John Armytage, as we turned off into the bushes..
We walk along a bit further. "I think", he adds. I love his confidence.
I have no idea where I'm going, except it's to a rock called Horse's Head. I saw it the morning before, but from the opposite angle and, no, it didn't look like a horse's rear. But the location was great, the coarse shingle beach, the submerged rocks, the crashing waves. I was looking forward to this shoot.
So was the rest of the Focus group. The formal title is FOCUS - (Australia - Seascape & Landscape Photography) group and they meet virtually on Flickr and personally most weekends somewhere or other around the Australian coastline.They'd probably have a lot more members if they had a shorter name. And you're welcome to join them - just join Flickr first and then search the groups.
I was invited to lead a weekend of photography, based out of Narooma on the NSW south coast, but at this point in time (in fact, for most of the weekend I think), I was following.
We started heading up a hill and this made sense - it must be the headland. Then the land stopped and the cliffs began. We could hear the surf and feel the light breeze from the beach far, far below. Our problem was finding the track that lead down, a track John had assured us was there.
"Gee, it looks a little overgrown compared to last time", said John. Someone else said they thought they had found it and naturally we all followed.
Now, I can't blame it all on John, but the following day, most of us had very sore thigh muscles from scrambling down that steep, clay cliff. I'm sure some of the others simply slipped down without a care in the world, but I was a little slower, extending my tripod legs to help myself down a few of the steeper sections. I didn't plan on losing my camera bag with its contents - my insurer will probably be having apoplexy just reading this post!
Suffice to say, the morning was glorious, if a little cloud free. However, I managed to take one or two frames which made the expedition worth the effort.
And no, we didn't climb back up the track, we walked the long way around the base of the cliffs, with a rising tide and a lively swell. However, that is another story!
To understand my workflow, there is a series of video publications all about Photoshop layers for purchase on this website, or try my Landscape Photography Masterclass. Click the Member and Shop links in the top menu for more information.
ONE PLACE LEFT FOR OUR NEW ZEALAND TRIP DUE TO A CANCELLATION
Be quick to secure this spot!
Date: 28th April to 3rd May 2014
Spend six days with AIPP Grand Masters of Photography Peter Eastway and Tony Hewitt in some of New Zealand’s most picturesque country, including special access to a working sheep station and a trip across amazing spit sands.
The price includes photographic counsel, all transport ex-Blenheim, all accommodation and all meals. Other snacks, beverages and alcohol are not included.
For more details, please download the full workshop program.
Okay, so is the colour a bit strong? I was giving Tony Hewitt a hard time the other day about the colour in some of his Shark Bay photographs. Of course, he just laughed at me. I'm not wondering why...
Svartifoss is tucked away up the top of a hill in Iceland, not too far from that black sand beach where all the icebergs wash in with the waves (Jokulsarlon). You can take a car most of the way up and then it's a relatively easy walk. You see the waterfall in the distance as you approach it, but nothing really prepares you for the amazing rock formation from which it is carved. I'm sure our geologist friends are in raptures when they see it.
I have to admit it was a lot of fun, painting in sections and washing over the colour using the Wacom Cintiq 34HD touch. There's something about using a pen directly on the photo that just makes it work.
So, this is stage one. I'm still thinking about it. I will take suggestions. I am thinking of knocking back all the colour and I have a longer exposure as well which might work better in the pool. Or is the colour okay? I reckon I will get a 50:50 response! And I'd love to go here in winter when there's snow all around. Hmmm. Better not tell Christian Fletcher about this place... he is going to Iceland soon!
The photo as processed out of the raw processing engine is shown below. The techniques used in post-production are using layers, as you can see in our eBooks on this site.
If you're travelling to the South Island of New Zealand, Milford Sound is probably on your hit list. It is an iconic location and everyone should go there. However, when you get into Te Anau, which is the gateway to the fjords, you have a choice of going north to Milford Sound or south to Manapouri and Doubtful Sound.
Milford Sound can be reached by road. Doubtful Sound is reached by a combination of ferry and bus, followed by a ferry to take you around the Sound itself. Both are amazing locations, but Doubtful is less travelled and more expensive to reach. It seems less touched, although there are still plenty of ferries and launches to ship you around a myriad of coves and inlets.
My visit was on a rainy, overcast day. This is doom and gloom for some people, yet friends like Mike Langford and Andris Apse have always said that this is when the fjords come alive. This is when you see hundreds if not thousands of waterfalls cascading into the fjords, even if the peaks themselves are shrouded in cloud.
I've tweaked this image a little to give a sense of what it was like to be surrounded by these massive peaks which drop steeply into the water. And if you keep your camera out, every now and then a little islet would appear close to the boat, creating a great centre of interest.
New Zealand is an amazing place and for Australians, it's so close to home. I know I'm going to Patagonia and Bhutan this year, but I will also have three trips to New Zealand!
To understand my workflow, I have a series of video publications all about Photoshop layers for purchase or try my Landscape Photography Masterclass. Click links below for details:
How To Master Photoshop Layers - ebook, click here.
Landscape Masterclass, click here.
Except of course the X-T1 is not a DSLR, rather a CSC (Compact System Camera). It doesn't have an optical pentaprism, despite a body design that looks like it does. Nevertheless, it is a large, bright electronic viewfinder that is very impressive to use. EVFs have come of age.
I was at a press launch on Wednesday at Sydney's Luna Park and had a scant few minutes to play with the new X-T1. The camera was set to capture JPEGs only and I didn't really take the camera off aperture-priority mode. Bundled into a Ferris Wheel cabin with Pro Photo Editor Paul Burrows, I soon found myself aloft, shooting with the new XF 56mm f1.2 lens. With the APS-C size sensor, this is like an 85mm portrait lens (or thereabouts) and at f1.2, it produces a simply delightful bokeh. And it is very sharp, as you can see the photo at the bottom of the page - it's a section of the image above.
The X-T1 uses the same sensor design found in the X-E2, for example, providing a very crisp 16-megapixel image. Megan Lewis launched the camera with a series of sensational photos and her large, metre-wide sample prints produced show that the camera is very capable indeed.
When looking at my JPEG files afterwards, all I can say is that I was very impressed with the clarity and colour produced by the camera and the lens. After all, it's the whole system that creates the end result, from Fuji's innovative sensor design (with no OLPF to soften the image) to the lenses themselves. Even wide open, the results are super sharp. This will be a fun camera to use!
For more information, visit the Fujifilm Australia website: www.fujifilm.com.au
I'll be honest: our Karijini workshop is a little slow this year, which is a pity because I love going back each year but Christian is thinking we need to go somewhere new. Well, new is good, but Karijini is so great, I'd miss it!
I've just posted a blog on my website which shows a few photos of last year's group having fun above and in the gorges. There are several pages - so click on through. It might give you a better idea of the locations and the adventure involved, from the eco-tents we stay in to the tracks and paths we climb down into the gorges. And why we need a good waterproof bag to get us to the end of some of them!
The photo above is an example of what we find at Karijini. It took me two trips to get this just the way I wanted it. The exposure is around half an hour after sunset, this particular frame a 16 second exposure at ISO 200 and f5.6 (the Rodenstock lens's maximum aperture). The detail is soft and grainy, partly because the Phase One sensor struggles a little in low light, and partly because it's not really designed for ISO 200 either. But I'm being super critical because when I look at the print, I love it. The result is an arty grain texture which is undoubtedly lost in the small rendition you see above.
A client has just purchased a 50-inch version of this, which is the reason you might be seeing this again. I made a few refinements to ensure it enlarged properly and, in the process, I was looking forward to returning in April to see what else I could find.
The challenge in a photo like this is matching the highlight exposure in the sky with the shadows in the gorge. Two exposures would be a good idea, but the light was dropping so quickly, I just kept shooting as I lengthened the exposures and raised the ISO. It really was almost dark down the bottom.
In post-production, the extended dynamic range of the Phase One back helps out, but if I had shot it on a Canon or Nikon, well, I could have bracketed and solved the problem with extra exposures. I could also have shot at f2.8! In darkening the sky, the trick is not to put the darken-edge along the horizon. I darken down into the landscape, but I also darken short of the horizon line, using several adjustment layers.
For further details or bookings for the 2014 Karijini trip, click here to visit our online shop.
Time to get cracking! Head On has four great photography competitions coming up and the closing deadline is 9 March 2014.
Naturally, Head On is all about portraiture, but being 10 years old, it's grown up and the formal name is now the Head On Portrait Prize. This is joined by the Head On Landscape Prize (Head Off it appears has headed off), the Head On Multimedia Prize and the Head On Mobile Prize. In total, there's around $50,000 in cash and prize up for grabs!
There's a $25 entry fee if you're a member, or a $30 entry fee if you're not a Head On member. Membership is definitely worth it if you plan on attending some of the great exhibitions and seminars planned for later in the year at the Head On Festival.
All is revealed on the new look Head On website - visit www.headon.com.au.