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Recent Blogs from Better Photography

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Are We Travelling Again?

Preliminary Edit: Kimberley Region from the air, 2016
Phase One XF 100MP with 55mm Schneider lens, f4 @ 1/1250 second, ISO 400

I was listening to Light Minded's 100th episode recently which featured Adobe evangelist Julieanne Kost. When asked what she'd been doing during the Covid lockdown, she said she'd been experimenting with different techniques and ideas, things that she normally wouldn't have time to do because of her travel commitments.

I felt a pang of guilt that I hadn't done the same, but then I reflected a little and realised I had done something similar: I had been processing lots of 'unfinished business', like a shoot back in 2016 during a PODAS (Phase One Digital Artist Series) workshop. You can see one of the images above. So far, I have processed a dozen or so raw files from Capture One, but I have yet to finish them off in Photoshop - to refine the tonal and colour mapping.

The photograph is taken from a helicopter and you'll notice the fast shutter speed. Talking with Tony Hewitt, we both agree that 1/2000 second is best for aerials, if you can get it with your equipment, as there will be times when slower shutters speeds will suffer from camera shake and aircraft movement (the landscape itself is generally quite stationary)! However, this is just an aim point and you also have to manage the aperture you want (sometimes wide-open isn't quite as sharp as a stop or two down) and ISO (this is becoming less of an issue as modern cameras really excel at higher sensitivities these days). It is certainly possible to get sharp photos at slower shutter speeds, but your success average maybe a little lower.

So, as I write this, it's looking like travel to New Zealand is on the cards. We had two Middlehurst workshops sold out before Covid hit with a combination of Australian and international participants. We have now fully booked one week with Australian and New Zealand participants in July and are looking to add in a second week if there's enough interest. 

There's also a voyage to Antarctica which leaves and returns to Hobart, so while not much use for international readers, Australians with a few bob to spare may be interested in a January 2022 voyage - visiting parts of Antarctica that are less frequently visited by tourists and photographers alike!

What Does B&W Do?

Monk, Mongar Dzong, East Bhutan
Phase One XF IQ4 150MP, 110mm Schneider, f2.8 @ 1/125 second, ISO 1600

Black and white strips out reality. It's a bold statement perhaps, given the history of photography itself begins with monochrome (and the photo above isn't strictly speaking black and white, rather a sepia tone). However, most of us see in full colour and so when we look at colour photographs, there's an element of expectation involved.

In the photograph above, colour would completely change the myth and mystery surrounding the portrait. The bright, gaudy yellow tent we are in is throwing sunshine colours all around, the monks are dressed in brilliant crimson, the ornamentation in the ceiling has every colour of the rainbow. The scene is festive, exciting and alive, yet amongst it all, the monk is poised pensively, quietly looking past the photographer (me) at something behind. Some of the other monks are looking too.

To concentrate on the monk and his expression, I felt that I needed to remove the colour. I wanted to reduce the image to just the key points, but without removing the context. Black and white does a lot of this. Darkening the surrounding figures and blurring them slightly helps as well, but it is the monochromatic rendition that does most of the work.

Fingers crossed we can get our tour to Bhutan happening next year - it's a wonderful place to visit.

Blue Mountains - Capture, Edit, Print Workshop

Ignacio Palacios never sits still! If you have met the dynamic Spaniard, you'll know exactly what I mean and we can't but admire his industry and enthusiasm! And he doesn't take a bad photo or produce a bad print, either!

So, Ignacio and I are joining forces for a weekend up the Blue Mountains shooting, editing and printing our work. We've convinced Luke from Kayell to come up with his Epson 906 printer and he'll show everyone just how easy it is to set up - and answer any technical questions.

We have four shoots planned at sunset or sunrise, you cover your own accommodation and meals (although we have booked restaurants for our meals), and you'll return home with one or two amazing prints of your work (or you can bring up a file of a favourite image for printing if you'd prefer). 

It's a relaxed weekend, it's full of photography and you can read more details on the Better Photography website (www.betterphotography.com). The price is $1390 per person and it is limited to 10 participants.

However, to book, you'll need to touch base with Ignacio via email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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