Sunday, December 19, 2010

Portrait Practice

Jeremy and Fon came over today and we had a mini-masterclass, swapping ideas, cameras, lights and lenses, practicing our portrait skills.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kundalini Yoga

Lots of fun was had by all during this warm-hearted photoshoot for two Kundalini Yoga Teachers. The studio is a lovely, bright, open space, with abundant natural light coming from a huge glass-wall on one side and the other white walls and sloping ceiling being perfect for bouncing the two SB900 flashes to give a clean, even light.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mother-Daughter Time

The Da Vinci Code... (Light Is Everything)

Light is Everything. It's true - everything depends on light: without it, plants wouldn't grow, lambs wouldn't frolic and the earth would just be a cold dark rock spinning in space. Photographic renditions of light have the capacity to define form, create mood, and transform a scene. No one knew this better than the Old Masters - like Da Vinci and Rembrandt - with their chiaroscuro revealing an exquisite play of dark and light - imagine what those guys would have done if they had cameras!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Making Portraits

Did a lovely studio portrait shoot on Sunday night, for my friends Richard Allen and Karen Pearlman of the Physical TV Company. We've known each other for the past 20 years and have done occasional collaborations in a variety of creative media. Karen needed a head-shot for publication in an upcoming edition of Reel-Time "Australia's Critical Guide to Contemporary Performing Arts". (...more about that in a later post.)

Portrait shoots can be challenging, because creating a good image is so dependent on the interaction between the photographer and the person - the trick being your ability to communicate effectively and to direct without being intrusive on the subject's process - all the while keeping your head across all the technical aspects of the sophisticated machinery you are driving - lights, camera, action! - It's quite a skill!

It was also quite interesting with these two, because although they are both professional dancers and teachers and film-makers and choreographers of many years experience - they still both expressed how difficult it can feel to find themselves in front of a stills camera... so it kind of got it across to me that if these two are at all disquieted about the idea, then why would I expect anyone to be comfortable about being photographed?! I might as well just accept that fact and learn to work it to everyone's advantage... Knowing that most people feel that a camera is a magic black box that will steal their soul goes a long way to beginning to understand how to approach portrait sessions and how to work with and allay the fears and reactions it can bring up. Seeing the shoot as a collaboration between the sitter and the photographer, in which both people create the image is a vital distinction. To affirm that a photograph is to be made, not 'taken' is a subtle but definite distinction that changes everything in the attitude and intention within a shoot. It got me thinking once again, that the real heart of photography is about communication, respect and trust.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Inviting the Muse

It's so true, you have to be willing to get bare and raw for the Work to begin, to strip away the fetters and baggage... So often the Known only serves to inhibit. Much of my best work has happened when I have no idea what I'm doing, where I'm going with it... It's certainly not dependent on 'feeling good' or even being the opposite cliché of the 'angst-ridden artist'. There's no 'state' that tells me how good the outcome will be according to my subjective assessment at the time of creation... Only that the state of complete immersion in the creative moment can feel entirely divine... It's peculiar, one never knows when the muse might strike - only that if the hand is not holding the paint-brush, or the pen, or the keyboard, or the shutter-release, then there surely won't be a conduit or a means for the muse to make an appearance. Only by the action of setting forth, a destination in mind, but no attachment to the actual end-point can creativity be explored. In opening up to chance and serendipity, one might end up somewhere entirely different from what one imagined in getting up that morning... but what a marvellous discovery that might be...!

Artist's Statement:

I went to a writers soiree last Sunday organised by Beth Yahp of a reading by students and teachers of memoir and travel writing. After hearing some of the fascinating stories and motivations of the people I met there, I was inspired to pen an 'Artists Statement', defining some of what I do when I engage with photography

Beth also announced the launch of her latest Writer's Trekk to Nepal in October 2011. I'm very tempted to go, if it's not drawing too long a bow to say that I want to 'write stories with my camera'...

"When I practice photography, I am engaging in a creative space in much the same way as I might practice Yoga or meditation. It is an entry into a sublime space of contemplation. Which is not to say it is always quiet or retiring: sometimes it is fast and active, strident and joyful; and at other times it may be about hours of waiting, silently, observing the light. Or it might be all at once: playful, serious, determined, engaging, free. Outward and inward. It is an action that moves me through all states of mind, all states of being - and challenges me to transcend. In the moment that I make a photograph, I am not attempting to 'capture' anything. When I press the shutter, it is very often to express appreciation for something I have seen, or more often something I have felt: a connection; a presence; a moment of being. It is an applause for what IS. When I press the shutter, it is, for me, the sound of one hand clapping."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Critical Path

My friend Richard James Allen invited me to document a dance performance he had choreographed and was performing in as part of a month-long residency at Critical Path, a dance research studio in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney. The residency involved a collaboration amongst a group of choreographers and dancers with some German esoteric lighting and sound installation artists. The dance space of the performance was set with a series of fluorescent tubes suspended from the ceiling in a 6 x 6 grid. The whole lot was then rigged up to infra-red sensors that fed into a synthesiser and computer system so that sounds and light were triggered by people moving closer and further from the tubes. Both the audience and the performers were able to trigger the effects, and the audience was encouraged to move around the space while the dancers were performing, to increase the serendipity of the effects.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I've Just Been Published!

Woo-hoo! I've just recieved my copy of "World Music Global Sounds in Australia" by Seth Jordan, featuring a photographic portrait by yours truly of Reggae Soulmaker Sound System legends JJ and Jono Roberts, on page 89. Thanks Brent Clough for making that match happen! My friend Afro Moses also gets a mention on pg 118 -119 - small world!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Photographing Friends, Spring 2010

Out for a chillaxing sunday photo-walk with Richard and Kat in the Sydney Botanic Gardens. Gorgeous day, the air was full of blossoms and you could see people unfolding from the chill of winter, stretching themselves towards summer...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Afro Moses at NOTES in Enmore.

Afro Moses, who I made some photos with last year at the Opera House, sent me a ticket to his gig last night at Notes, a new music venue in Enmore, at 73 Enmore Rd. A singer, composer, multi-instrumentalist and teacher of music, Afro Moses was born in Ghana in West Aftica where he hit the charts as a teenager, becomming known as 'The African James Brown'. Moses makes the most joyful, spirited music, using traditional instruments played masterfully - the thumb piano, a beat-box, his voice - to share his message of unity and individual beauty and talent. At the Notes gig last night, Moses was supporting the tour-launch of another group based around Indonesian singer-guitarist Tommee to celebrate the release of his fourth album “Material is Thick”. Tommee is a renowned musician who has also toured with The John Butler Trio, Harry Manx and Blue King Brown as well performing in Indonesia, Canada, Europe and Japan. The group is a fabulous trio comprised of Tommee and his exciting new rhythm section, Rory Brown on Double Bass and the very fluid Walter Piccolruaz on the Pandeiro (electric Tambourine). Of course I took my camera along...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Just Show Up...

My friend Audrey recently asked me to join her in writing for her new blogsite which she has initiated for sharing of creative inspiration, called 365 Just Show Up. This image is one I posted there recently, after an early morning shoot with friends near Palm Beach in Sydney's north.

With photography, light and timing is everything. And sometimes that means 'showing up' when the rest of the world is sleeping. This weekend, fellow photographers Richard, Anastasia and Vlad and I arranged to meet near Palm Beach on Sydney's northern beaches area, to catch the sunrise over the water. We needed to arrive at the location somewhere between Astronomical Twilight (which was 5.17am on 7/8/10) and Nautical Twilight (5.46am on 7/8/10), in order to scout the location, get set up, and have an hour's shooting time in the magical pre-dawn light.

For those of a technical mind, Twilight has 3 defined phases: Astronomical, Nautical and Civil that refer to specific points in 6° increments of the sun's angle to the horizon before sunrise and after sunset. Each phase lasts approximately half an hour. (Australian readers can use this Geoscience Australia calculator to obtain the Sunrise / Sunset and Twilight times.)

Astronomical Twilight = the instant in the morning (or evening) when the centre of the sun is at an angle of 18° below the horizon. At this time it is possible to still see the light of stars in the sky.

Nautical Twilight = when the centre of the sun is at an angle of 12° below the horizon. At this time in the absence of moonlight, artificial lighting or adverse atmospheric conditions, it is dark for normal practical purposes. For navigation purposes at sea, the sea horizon is not normally visible. (Occurs approx. half an hour after Astronomical Twilight)

Civil Twilight = when the centre of the sun is at a 6° angle below the horizon. At this time in the absence of moonlight, artificial lighting or adverse atmospheric conditions, the illumination is such that large objects may be seen but no detail is discernible. The brightest stars and planets can be seen and for navigation purposes at sea, the sea horizon is clearly defined. (Occurs approx. half an hour after Nautical Twilight)

Sunrise: (Occurs approx. half an hour after Morning Civil Twilight)

The reverse occurs in the Evening: Sunset, Civil Twilight, Nautical Twilight, Astronomical Twilight, fading into the darkness of night.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Here Kitty Kitty Kitty...

Sometimes, on peaceful sunny afternoons, my neighbour's cat comes visiting. The tag on his collar says his name is 'Biggie'... I googled blue cats with yellow eyes and apparently he is a Chartreux, which are monastery cats that the French Carthusian monks used to keep the mice away from their Camembert... According to the Oracle (bless Wikipedia) the first letter of the official name of a Chartreux cat encodes the year of its birth; all Chartreux born in the same year have official names beginning with the same letter. The code letters rotate through the alphabet each year, omitting the letters K, Q, W, X, Y, and Z. For example, a Chartreux born in 2002 would have an official name starting with the letter T. Which means Biggie was born in 2006, making him four years old. He still has a playful kittenish spirit - his favourite game is to hide under garden furniture and then rush out to bat my feet while I'm hanging out the washing...

I Can See You!

Just learned how to post my images larger on the blog, so they can be seen in all their detailed glory! Turns out I was using an old version of Blogger Updater which was hiding all sorts of useful features to me. The Updated Editor button in Blogger can be found under Basic on the Settings page, near the bottom, where you can check to see which one you are using. The new one will let you see a blue menu bar with the sizes and positions when you click on your uploaded photos. It doesn't change my old posts, but at least new posts will appear Bigger and Better. Thanks Blogger Help - now my blog looks Just-Like-I've-Always-Wanted-It!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thanks for the feedback!

Following a suggestion from my friend Becs in Lismore who is also a keen photographer, I made a new version of the Newcastle headland photo in Lightroom3, using a combination of sharp (the man and the sculpture) and misty (the sea and the railings) - and this is EXACTLY the effect I was looking for. Well done, Becs! Thanks so much for your insight - a collaboration always makes more than the sum of its parts!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sculpture By the Sea - Newcastle NSW

Early morning walk around the headland of Newcastle Beach. Two versions... a misty one and a sharp one - which do you think works best?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Ah, Grasshopper!

I found this li'l martial arts expert in one of the cumquat trees in my backyard on the weekend... He was only 5mm long, so the Sigma 150mm macro lens came in handy. I am also indebted to Alex Wild for his kindness in sharing his insect-photography techniques.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Twenty-Cent's Worth

When I was looking for a new 'point and shoot' for the times when the lovely-but-large Nikon D300s is too inconvenient to lug, Canon's cameras stood out from the crowd. After reading the forums, it was a toss-up between the S90 and the G11... I was almost ready to flip a coin, 'cos I couldn't decide from reading the tech-specs alone... but when I held them side-by side in the store and popped off a few test shots, the superb macro capability of the Canon G11 won me, hands down!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Photoshop Post-Production

After reading an article on New Photo Pro Blog today about Photoshop Post-Production, I was inspired to give it a go and deepen my (currently ripple-thin) understanding of Layers. I took some lovely textured art papers, scanned them into jPegs and then spliced them in Photoshop with some of the images we made on the shoot with Melinda. I feel like I learned some useful things. Here's my first three pieces:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tonya and Jess - Happy Valentines!

Here's a really sweet portrait of Tonya and Jess, from a photoshoot we did at Coogee Beach.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Picture Postcard Family Photoshoot

My friends asked me if I could do a family photoshoot so they could share some pictures with their family and friends. So we went to Bicentennial Park at Homebush where the kids could run around with lots of lovely peaceful landscaping. The day was over-cast, making perfect soft light for portraits. I worked this one in Lightroom to create a 'post-card' effect. Thank you my dear friends, for such a fun day and for making such beautiful and heart-warming photos!

Family Photoshoot