Your Shopping Cart

Your Cart:
0 Items
Order Total: $ 0.00
Your Shopping Cart

Better Photography magazine's blog is written mainly by its editor and publisher, Peter Eastway. Here you'll find a wealth of comments, ideas and, hopefully, you'll like some of the photographs as well. If a blog doesn't sit neatly into one of the other categories, then generally you'll find it here!

Click on the blog titles to read.

Better Photography Photo of the Year Winner!

2017 Overall Winner and Revealing Nature Category Winner: Hymakar Valluri

 

What an amazing photograph! Congratulations to Hymakar Valluri, the winner of the 2017 Better Photography Magazine 'Photo of the Year' award.

 

Hymakar's incredibly composed image of a hummingbird really caught the judges' eyes - such startling clarity and deft subject positioning. Technique is exceptional and, no doubt, so was Hymakar's patience (although the degree of difficulty doesn't impact the judges very much - for all we know it could have been a lucky first shot, we'll never know - but we do know that we very much appreciate and applaud the result).

 

Hymakar takes out the overall first prize and a cash purse of AUS $5000! Congratulations! Hymakar is also the Revealing Nature category winner, and as such, he and the other five category winners will take home a sponsor pack comprising a Datacolor Spyder5Express, a Canson Infinity paper pack, a Momento Photobook voucher to the value of $150 and a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium tablet and stylus.

 

 

Thanks to our wonderful sponsors for supporting our competition. And thanks also to our esteemed judges Peter Eastway, David Oliver and Tony Hewitt, AIPP Grand Masters of Photography.

 

This year there were 1212 entries and the majority of entries earned a Bronze Award or higher. A Bronze Award is given where the judges can see some elements of photographic skill and imagination and want to acknowledge what the entrant has submitted. And given the competition is entered by passionate photographers, it's gratifying to have such a high overall standard.

 

Each entry also received a short judge comment which will hopefully be of use to entrants for the future. If you entered, you can log back into your account to see your scores and read your comments.

 

To view the top entries in each category (they should be ready now, if not they will be very soon), please visit the Better Photography website and click through to the competition site, or you can go there directly at http://www.betterphotographyphotocomp.com/.

 

2017 Emotive Portrait Category Winner: Andi abdul Halil

 

 

2017 Incredible Sport Category Winner: Alamsyah Rauf

 

 

2017 Exotic Travel Category Winner: Michele Palazzo

 

 

2017 Creative Flair Category Winner: Jean Wilson

 

 

2017 Classic Landscape Category Winner: Peter Hill

Amazing Arnhemland Amazes

Cave window, Mount Borradaile, West Arnhemland.
Phase One A-Series 100MP, 23mm Alpagon lens, 1/10 second@ f16, ISO 100, stitched.

 

I'm not completely happy with this image as presented, but it has been sitting on my hard drive for too long and I feel I need to move on. I'm sure many readers have the same challenges with photos they like, but just can't quite crack!

 

It all started with an innocent walk up towards a lookout where we'd been the day before on my recent photo tour to Arnhemland. Stuart wanted to return to shoot some unfinished business, but when we arrived, the sun was still a bit too high. Our guide said, no matter, let's check out the cave system nearby. 

 

I looked around us. We were on top of a relatively flat hill, with large areas of bare stone and a few low shrubs. I couldn't quite comprehend where we were going to find a cave system, especially since we'd walk all over this area the day before and I had noticed nothing. However, I am obviously unobservant and a cave system there was!

 

And it was huge. And big enough to walk around. And there was amazing rock art on the walls and the ceilings. And there were skulls and bones - but we were asked not to photograph them. It wasn't for spiritual reasons, rather many years ago, the station received a visit from the police because someone in a Melbourne minilab had seen a tourist's photo of human bones and reported it! The fact the bones were hundreds of years old seemed to appease the police, but to save on administration and paperwork in the future, we were asked not to photograph them. So we didn't!

 

In any event, I had this shot in mind. Now, I'd like a more perfectly shaped tree, but the location was great if only I could fit it all in. I couldn't, so I turned the wide-angle horizontally and did a vertical stitch.

 

Back on my Wacom MobileStudio Pro, PTGui struggled to join the 8 images together, until I eliminated three of them and a five image stitch worked perfectly. But then I struggled a bit more, getting the feeling I experienced into the image. Back at the studio in front of the Eizo, I'm still not quite there, but there are so many other photos from Arnhemland I need to process!

 

Feel free to check out the starting point on my website...

 

 

Read more: Amazing Arnhemland Amazes

How Do You Set Your White Balance?

Arnhemland Aerial, inland from Aralaij Beach.
Phase One XF 100MP, 80mm Schneider lens, 1/4000 second @ f2.8, ISO 200

 

How do you set the white balance in a photo like this? It's hard to believe that earlier this month I was complaining about the hot afternoon sun, now that I am freezing cold down in Sydney! I visited Awunbarna for the second time with a photography workshop, this time accompanied by Kath, Martin, Stephen and Stuart. Based on their facial expressions as we shot unique landscapes from the helicopter, floated by open mouthed crocodiles and wandered through ancient cave systems covered in rock art, I think it was a success. Also called Mount Borradaile and Davidson's Camp, it's a very special place on Earth with only 1400 visitors a year and 700 square kilometres to play in! (If you're interested in a workshop in July next year, please send me an expression of interest - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

 

Yet in the landscape, setting the correct white balance can be challenging. Think of what it's like when you're shooting in a rainforest with all those greens - it's hard to get rid of a green colour cast, especially since it is really there. Yet our minds reject too much green, searching for a point of equalibrium. And it's the same with aerials. Last month in New Zealand and now in Arnhemland, getting the colour balance exactly right can sometimes be challenging.

 

So, what's my approach? I have many and they all depend on the result I see on my Eizo monitor back at the studio, or my Wacom MobileStudio Pro when out on location. The importance of a high quality monitor when it comes to assessing colour balance cannot be over-emphasised.

 

Working in Capture One, Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw, the white balance settings are much the same mechanically, although the results can be quite different. So for me, step one is to use Capture One because I prefer its 'definition' of colour.

 

Step 2 is to use one of the presets, usually As Shot, Auto or Daylight. More often than not, one of these works.

 

If not, Step 3 is to use the white balance selector tool and click on various areas within the image. Where I click, the software will neutralise those pixels to a neutral grey, and all the other colours will adjust accordingly. I find this works very well on subjects such as the tidal flats in the photo above. The sand is actually a yellow brown colour, but I have turned it grey by using the white balance selector tool. The white balance doesn't have to be accurate, it just has to look good.

 

The fourth approach is to use the Kelvin and Tint sliders, but I confess, this is a last resort as I really struggle to know if I have gone far enough, or too far. If in doubt, I do the best I can and put the photo away for a few hours or a day, prepared to reassess  another time!

  

The white balance in Antarctica isn't too difficult... And funny I should mention that because I have a photo tour going to Antarctica in December 2018 (back for Christmas) with Aurora Expeditions. And there's a 15% discount offer on some berths if you book before 31 August this year, so if this is sounding like you, visit the website and have a look here.

Be Careful What You Wish For!

Near Paradise Bay, Antarctica.
55mm lens, Phase One XF 100MP, 1/1250 second @ f8, ISO 100

 

Naturally when I packed up my four prints for APPA this year (the AIPP's Australian Professional Photography Awards) I was hoping for four Golds. I didn't send Silvers down in my case, that's for sure, but that's how they came back - four Silvers With Distinction (which means 85 or higher). Now, some readers will be tuning out, thinking Eastway is a loser with only four Silvers. Others will think he's boasting and a bit of a w*&^er since that means all four images were in the top 20% - but does all this matter?

 

No!

 

Entering competitions is about pushing yourself and learning. The benefits are already made by the time you send your entries off because of what you have learned in the process - and you're always learning and re-learning.

In this case, it was all about the use of clarity and contrast.

 

The image above has next to no clarity. It is intentionally high key, trying to emphasise the 'whiteness' of the southern continent. One of my earlier edits (which you can see below on the website), has a bucket-load of clarity. It looks quite 'interesting' at a small size, but I can assure you that when it was printed out, it looked horrible! 

With a bit of luck, I'll get another crack at this location in December 2018 (Aurora Expeditions has extended its 15% discount offer until the end of September - see the links on this page), and I'll know what to do! However, check out the other version here.... 

 

Read more: Be Careful What You Wish For!

Astrolabe Island

Astrolabe Island, Antarctica.
Canon EOS 5DSR, EF11-24mm f/4L USM lens, 1/320 second @ f7.1, ISO 100

 

Astrolabe Island was just being released from the ice when we visited in December. There are lots of islands around the Antarctic Peninsula and the ones you visit are often determined by the weather as much as anything else. And while Deception Island is a favourite, my time at Astrolabe Island was quite fruitful.

 

The accompanying photos show how an ultra wide-angle lens can create a great sense of depth and perspective, especially when you have something of interest in the foreground. All these photos are taken from a zodiac, an inflatable dingy. I'm seated and leaning over the edge, so my camera is maybe 30 centimetres above the water for most of them. I'm filling the frame with the detail of the foreground.

 

At the same time, the ultra wide-angle lens turns towering peaks into relatively small, insignificant landmarks on the horizon. Photographers have a love-hate relationship with ultra wide-angles because in order to fit everything in (to create that amazing perspective), they have to shrink everything and so you are at risk of losing the grandeur of many locations.

 

To bring out the texture in the ice and water, I use contrast. Sometimes it's just a contrasty curve adjustment layer, but I also use clarity in Capture One (or Lightroom), and the high pass filter technique with a soft or hard light blend mode in Photoshop. However, I generally add this contrast in locally - meaning I brush it in over the foreground, but don't touch the background (or if I do, I use a different setting for the background as normally I don't want it to be as contrasty and strong as the foreground).

 

And for those fortunate enough to be thinking about it, I have a photo tour going to Antarctica in December 2018 (back for Christmas) with Aurora Expeditions. And there's a 15% discount offer on some berths if you book before 30 September this year, so if this is sounding like you, visit the website and have a look here.

 

And here are a few more photos from Astrolabe Island... 

 

Read more: Astrolabe Island

Login here! You will need to join (Create an account) to get access to some sections of this website. If you do join, we'll send you our newsletters (you can unsubscribe at any time), but other than that, we won't bother you!