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When I was at school, I was struggling with a photo-realistic painting of egg shells. I was trying to reproduce a highlight with a mix of white and black paint to make a super light grey. I could see detail in the highlights with my eyes, so I tried to replicate that texture in my painting, but the result was flat and lackluster. Then my art teacher, Neil Brown, walked by. He put down my paint brush, picked up a spatula and with solid white paint straight out of the tube, pasted in the highlights I was looking for. It looked fantastic!

The painting is still with me some forty years later. It stops the door of my car from being scratched on the garage wall. I can't hang it up anywhere (the painting, not the car), but I can't let it go either because it has been such an important influence and lesson.

Flash forward many decades and I'm exhibiting with the ND5 group up in Brisbane at Irena's Maud Street Photo Gallery (2013). We all have some great work from Shark Bay - even some of Christian Fletcher's were pretty good! And then Les Walkling pulled out his water study (above). Les and I got into trouble with Tony and Christian for taking too long on a flight over Dirk Hartog Island one afternoon, but it was worth it. And I remember the part of the flight when Les took his shot. I was concentrating on something completely different, so to see what Les had found was inspirational.

I love the photo, but even more important for me, was Les's use of pure white. Now, I might get into trouble with Les because maybe those whites have 1% or 2% black in them, but they are bold, strong and hold the image together. We're also told by many photography judges (and I'm one of them) to be very careful of leaving pure white in a photo, but here was Les, breaking all those 'helpful' rules and creating a masterpiece!

We're all locked down to some extent with this Covid thing, but I'm finding the restrictions on one side of my life are creating opportunities on another - opportunities to catch up on ideas and explore new directions. Christian and I spent last Sunday with Les and a small group of photographers learning all about 3DLUT Creator and how it's the best thing for tonal and colour control since sliced bread. It was a great day, done remotely via a Zoom session - and we all learnt heaps!

If you're interested in finding inspiration, may I recommend a Les workshop? Yes, your brain will hurt. No, you won't understand absolutely everything he says. But yes, you will be incredibly inspired and you'll understand why I think Les is a Living Treasure for art and photography. He will be embarrassed to read this - tough!

There's an extensive list of workshops on his website, but he has just announced two new ones: Crafting a Digital Print and Affinity Photo. But don't delay, they book out pretty quickly. For more details on all his remote workshops, visit

Thanks Les! 

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