Category Archives: USA
None of the following is meant to be taken seriously. It is merely a series of observations of trends which I have partaken in photographically since joining the ranks of social media some years ago. Many of these trends result in photographic popularity, fewer of them critical acclaim and possibly even fewer have resulted in a ‘purist’ type of personal satisfaction. Comments in italic are my real thoughts on the subjects after the opening frivolity.
1) So sharp it slices my eyes!
You know that fluffy stuff in the sky? It needs to be sharp enough to cut through aeroplanes flying through. You know that long exposure water, sorry, not sharp enough, give it a knife edge to deal with those seascapers who dare venture in!
[I believe that not every part of an image needs to be tack sharp. Clouds being one and any kind of water exposure that results in trailing being another. Representing reality isn’t a common goal for all photographers but next time you take a look in the sky or sea, do you get the ‘screen’ experience of sharpness? Canvas prints are probably an exception for me as the sharpness certainly gives a palpable texture. ]
2) Bleed me into ecstasy!
Oh what a lovely glow of light from the sun. Oh what an even lovelier glow of light from those wooden reflections. Oh wow, even the dark sides of the mountain are bleeding now, what a rapturous world we live in!
[The orton effect or other blur methods are frequently being used on highlights to give a sense of light bleeding from a source. I wonder if we should be a little more judicious so that the same effect is not visible from dark areas to give a ‘shadow bleed’. Like many photographic trends, moderation is probably the key.]
3) The stars illuminate us all!
The cosmos shines upon us so brightly as if it were day, so brightly as if the stars clustered together as one to bring twilight to universe and earth as one. What harmony!
[Milky way twilight exposure blends are definitely ‘in’. While the images can be striking , a few post processing factors arise when viewing this new subgenre. ‘Lighten’ blend mode is one of the methods which are used to blend these images and when composited from a different scene, it’s interesting to note stars in the land! Transitions to the sky can also look pasted in with odd transitions between sky and land and often a washed out kind of look of the land itself. Last of all, many shots appear to have a point source of light from a shot taken in sunny conditions. All this might not matter but it does cause me some confusion and takes away from plausability. ]
4) I demand your attention, I repeat, I demand your attention!
The first image of the scene was amazing, the second amazinger, the third amazinger still and the fourth the amazingest yet. Oh man, they all look the same, but they’re all amazing. YOU are amazing ❤ .
[Displaying portfolio images of multiple shots from the same scene is pretty commonplace. I personally do it up front before culling down on the platforms of display that ‘matter’ ; for example our print website. Personally, I find it a little less impactful when viewing a portfolio that is led strongly by the one scene with multiple repeats. I make sure that nothing goes up on our ‘proper’ site without at least having to stew about various versions for a few months. I wonder if the approach of multiple images gains more interest from the general public while the approach of limiting images from a scene may gain more respect from one’s photographic peers. To that end, whichever approach you choose probably needs to be tailored to the demographic of the social media platform chosen. ]
5) So creamy yet so crispy!
Wow, look at that amazing stripy sky and the crashing waves. Nature at its finest no doubt!
[Another trend for seascapers is to include an ethereally exposed long exposure foreground with smoothed white water motion but then a crisp dramatic sky that is clearly a very short exposure. Sometimes it is also done in reverse. These images have an undoubted impact but once again, like the milky way twilight issue, they tend to confuse me past the original wow factor]
6) I’ll call it moody.
So dark, so colourless, so contrasty, so awesome!
[Have you ever turned an image into monochromatic format just because the colours didn’t turn out right? I definitely have and I reckon probably none of those images are ones that I would consider portfolio worthy. Most of the monochromatic images I have set out to do have been shot in conditions which had me thinking mono to begin with. Also, just as a personal preference, what’s with the blue skies that are pitch black (not just dark) in the mono conversion? ]
7) A perfect reflection!
Wow , such a perfect reflection ! Must have been awesome to be near that dead still pond of water!
[Reflection shots can be dramatic but often you can tell when it is too perfect. A dead horizontal line at transition is a good way to shoot for presenting this style of image and is reflected in the final presentation. I have yet to see an unaltered image of a perfect milky way reflection to date but this is also being done with more frequency]
8) I live under a bridge, throw me some scraps!
I finish this post with the ultimate confession of occasionally trolling for responses with posts that are said in a light tone but may provoke responses by those who think I am directly targeting a piece of work. Rest be assured that anyone reading this post could believe this post is about them given the frequency of the above #hotphotographictrends so this is not about you! . I firmly believe that the more one reviews one’s own work and practice with a critical eye, the more one can correct errors or traps which one may have unknowingly fallen into. Some of these traps though are nothing to do with images or scenes but rather a desired personal goal or direction. Perhaps THE most important point I would like to make is somewhat of a broken record: as a group of artists, we can push the direction of our field any direction we like. I do however fear that the appreciation of our end results may soon become an appreciation of the final ‘arty’ product itself rather than an appreciation of the natural world. I can appreciate the beauty of the Painted Hills of Oregon at twilight. I can appreciate gazing at the stars of the dark southern sky milky way. But is it to our benefit or detriment that we now have the ability to appreciate both at once no matter how naturally impossible ?
And now to finish off on a musically historical note from Carly Simon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQZmCJUSC6g
It’s time for a year’s end post from team everlook ! With another extension to family expected early in 2014 and our ‘retirement’ from wedding photography, we can probably say that 2014 will be a less productive year than this year has been. Let’s jump straight into some favourites of ours from different locations and genres!
Four weddings and a retirement.
We only photographed 4 weddings this year and actually attended 2 as guests which was such a nice change! We have tried to emulate our landscape ‘style’ of vibrant imagery into wedding photography as well as incorporate some landscape shooting techniques too.
The local weather lottery!
This year, the weather gods have been both kind and cruel at their whim. I tried to venture out on most weeks to participate in a 52 week project. I doubt I will be able to commit to this in 2014 for the reasons stated above but this year did take me to many local sites . The timing of these trips was all premeditated depending on work and other commitments so it was a good exercise to find ways of overcoming unfavourable conditions and maximising good conditions. These are some of my favourites from the ‘one shoot’ trips around home.
The weekend warrior jobs
A couple of times a year, Marianne and I set aside a weekend away. For 2013, we only managed to do this twice and on both occasions we had some dramatic weather to deal with. At Robe, sunny days became sultry and overcast while at Lake Bonney, the whole of South Australia was going through a cold snap during which it actually snowed on our 723m high Mount Lofty (well, not really snow but semi solid precipitation which the snow-naive might call snow!) A slightly longer weekend away took us to Merredin in WA where Marianne and I had the nerve-wracking honour of being speakers at the WAPF annual meeting.
The long trips :
Our first trip in the year was a return to New Zealand’s South Island. In 2012, we did the ‘typical’ alpine itinerary of travelling through the Tekapo, Mount Cook , Wanaka and Fjordland. This year we decided to visit the west coast and the north of the island. With a mobile 2 year old who wanted to explore by herself, we actually found it more difficult than in 2012 when Charlotte needed to be carried anywhere and quite often was asleep on our back as an 8 month old. We finished the trip off with some R&R in Sydney.
Our second trip of the year was to the Pacific Northwest (scroll back in the blog for more details!) . This region definitely NEEDS a revisit at some point in the future. It has given me a good incentive to stay fit and healthy such that if all things go well, and our children love the outdoors as we do, we might be able to walk as a family! The children would also appreciate and remember Disneyland more than Charlotte at this age I suspect.
Other projects /publications /commendations:
2013 started with a portfolio feature in Landscape Photography Magazine. We are currently also writing a piece for Digital SLR photography magazine. In between , we have had 5 postcards chosen for circulation by Pikitia , based in New Zealand. Our image of Robe won 4th place in the Epson Panorama Awards amateur division , we’ve been listed as a top 100 landscape photographer to follow, and our fan base seems to expanded internationally! It was such a thrill to know that photographers such as Miles Morgan and Tula Top had heard of us when we inquired about meeting in the USA 🙂 We were also honoured to be guest speakers at two local camera clubs where we were able to hone our presentations in the lead-up to being key note speakers at the WAPF annual event at Merredin.
Charlotte of course is our main focus on life at present. So far, we could not have asked for more from our adorable two year old who despite the odd tantrums and grizzles, never fails to put a smile on our face. We look forward to the years to come and in the near future, the challenge of reacquainting ourselves to the care of a new born in April . Hopefully, during this ‘down time’ of trips, we might be able to compile more ebooks and guides! Cheers to 2014 🙂
I’m speeding up the end of this series to the USA as I do feel I would like write about a few other topics! Here’s a summary of the rest of our trip and some tips about each image.
Chapter 15: Any ‘ole mountain
When I was doing my virtual research for walks around the Mount Hood area, I came across several pictures of Mount Hood with Mirror Lake in the distance below. I actually thought people were ‘taking the mickey’ of the walk by saying that they climbed ‘Tom Dick and Harry Mountain. Now I know it is a real place, and I also know that it isn’t just any ‘ole mountain. It happens to have a superb view of the whole area. Our accommodation was the little town of Government Camp which meant that I had very easy access to this trail and decided to do it in the dark. There were no issues with path finding but for my recovering lungs, it was a challenge to walk at my usual pace up the mountain. The path itself is never particularly steep or challenging but more unrelenting in its slow climb.
Photo tips to achieve sunstars : Try to have the sun partially obscured. Shoot at a narrow aperture (f16 or smaller). Have clean glass. Have less glass (exposure blend if you have to rather than having layers of filters which can create extra flare). Place an object (like your finger) over the source of light to prevent flare over the rest of the image. Consider taking shots on either side of your desired image (like a panorama) with your flare suppression technique such that any residual flare can be recovered from an overlapping image source.
Chapter 16: Mojo returns
By this stage of the trip, we had thankfully returned to health but Marianne’s recovery took somewhat longer as the pregnancy no doubt also took it’s impact on the course of influenza. I was glad that some time while in the Mount Hood area, her mojo for photography returned. Our second day in the Mount Hood area was spent doing a beautiful hike to Tamanawas falls. The trailhead was about 30 minutes drive from Government camp and ascends slowly through lush forest scenes toward the falls. At the time of of our visit, the fall colours were among the most vivid we had seen all trip and Charlotte certainly appreciated the walk from her seat on my back. She was so comfortable that she once again fell asleep during the walk! Whenever this happens, we adjust our plans to wander around for an extra hour to give her undisturbed sleep. While we were doing this, we were able to find many species of fungus which we attempted to photograph. This fungus exploration and the walk’s photography was largely led by Marianne while I kept the paces going to lullaby Charlotte’s ongoing snooze. The evening was once again completely clear and so, we stayed home while munching some fries and spending some down time watching TV.
Phototip on shooting waterfalls and foilage: Often the wind will be blowing and moving foilage so your long exposures of the water will be accompanied by blurred leaves. You can take separate images at higher iso or larger apertures with a shorter shutter speed to overcome this problem but when you do so, try to compose to have the leaves not directly opposed to water as your shorter exposures will also include shorter exposures of the water motion.
Chapter 17: Pumpkin Mania!
The drive from Mount Hood to Mitchell is a beautiful one through agricultural land and a gradual departure from alpine scenery. Along the way, the autumn colours were blazing as were the oranges of pumpkin fields the likes of which we never see back home!
Phototip on shooting landscapes with long focal lengths : One of my favourite aspects of shooting landscapes at long focal lengths is to achieve what is known as ‘compression of planes’. Simply put, the perspective of a highly ‘zoomed’ image minimises the apparent distance between different objects of interest. In the shot below, Mount Hood to the naked eye , though visible and looming appears much more distant than this image portrays.
Chapter 18: Dali-esque landscapes:
The painted hills are an amazing array of bald , eroded hills in Central Oregon. They are part of the larger John Day Fossil Beds national monument. We based ourselves in the town of Mitchell in some beautiful holiday homes. (www.paintedhillsvaction.com) . The weather was once again clear which meant that the landscapes did not compete with dramatic skies for attention.
Phototip for choosing lighting direction: At given locations, consider how much of the detail in the landscape you want. In front lit scenarios shooting into light, it can be difficult to extract detail from the landscape due to broad dynamic range but the results can often be striking in terms of contrast. In back lit (or side lit) situations, the scene is often easier to capture and the risk of losing detail from flare or incorrect exposure is lessened. Side light can also provide some interesting shadows. At the time we visited, the painted hills overlook appeared to be best shot at sunset for a slightly side lit appearance.
Chapter 19: From nowhere :
The next leg of our journey took us back to Eastern Washington with much more arid landscapes passing by the car window. Our final destination was Colfax in the Palouse region. Naturally we had been attracted by the rolling hills and greenery we had seen in previous images but we were visiting at the wrong time of year for those conditions. The land instead comprised of tilled earth with groves of autumn colours speckling the undulating land. Just over one hour from Colfax, Palouse Falls makes a sudden appearance seemingly out of nowhere. There was no hint of gaping chasms or any flowing water for miles around before arriving at the state park.
Phototip for shooting icons or well shot locations: Certain vantage points do offer the best view and most pleasing composition of a given scene. I found this to be the case at Palouse Falls with the ‘traditional’ top down view of the falls seemingly squeezed in on the left of frame. When visiting locations like this, I do like to photograph ‘that’ scene but try to achieve something else either by exploring the area more thoroughly or visiting at different times of the day. These are some of the takes of these magnificent falls :
Chapter 20 : Grass is greener
We had a very relaxed three days based in Colfax where we didn’t adventure past Steptoe Butte to the north and Kamiak Butte to the south. The skies were once again crystal clear on the first two dawns there before unexpectedly firing up for the last morning when we didn’t have plans to shoot!
Phototip for travelling and sunsets: We had been getting used to a sunset at approximately 6pm for most of our trip and planned a sunset shoot on our first evening in the Palouse for about that time. However, remember that when travelling east within a time zone, all times are pushed back to a varying degree! In turned out that the sunset was about 20 minutes earlier in the Palouse than around the Portland area meaning that we arrived late on the scene. The safest thing to do of course, is to double check with tools such as ‘The photographers’s ephemeris’ rather than make assumptions….
Chapter 21: Happy returns
For the last two nights of our trip, the original plan was to visit the Stevens Pass area and possibly do a strenuous return hike to one of the alpine lakes in the area. However, given that our initial visit to Mount Rainier was plagued by influenza and the closure of the National Park, we decided to return to the area to close out the trip. It would also mean a shorter drive to the airport on our last morning. We are very glad that we chose this option as we were finally able to appreciate the park itself and in good health. From Reflection Lake, Mount Rainier itself initially proved to be elusive before bearing too much of herself with the absence of any cloud on our last day. Of the two lakes we visited, I’d say the view of Mount Rainier is more complete from Bench Lake even though it is a short muddy slog down to its shores.
Phototip for shooting alpine conditions: Simply this, don’t give up on the light! On the first evening at Mount Hood, there was constant drizzle and no visible sky as we drove from east to west across the park. Returning to Reflection Lake at sunset, there seemed to be no chance of any light or visibility of Mount Rainier but out of the blue, some spectacular light fell across the mountain albeit shrouded in cloud.
Chapter 22: Transition back to Urban life.
“Charlotte , do you like forests or the city?” . To which Charlotte repeatedly responded “Charlotte like forest”. That’s our girl! After leaving the crisp cool autumn of the Pacific Northwest on a beautifully clear morning, we headed to our last stop before returning to Adelaide. Marianne and Charlotte had not been to Los Angeles before while I had visited as an emo-driven teenager who did not necessarily appreciate. In a short visit there, we planned to visit Hollywood itself before spending some time in Disneyland. Even though those aspects of our visit were fantastic, we also encountered the most stress while here for the entire three weeks away. We had to wait in a rental car queue for 2 hours while trying to prevent a 2 year old meltdown. Driving itself wasn’t as bad as I had imagined but on our departure, we experienced lengthy delays due to a shooting at LAX a few hours prior to our departure! On the positive, Charlotte enjoyed placing hands and feet at the Chinese theatre and surprisingly enjoyed most of the fast moving rides at Disneyland! On our last night, I managed to talk my way into obtaining a ticket to Mickey’s Halloween party after hours which was absolutely packed on Halloween evening.
Phototip for photographing your toddler on the go!: As posing and standing still are not two things toddlers are accustomed to doing, your shutter speed needs to be relatively high. Regarding movement to and from the camera, picking very wide apertures is highly likely to miss focus no matter what funky artsy shot you might be aiming for. After all I’m more taking images of Charlotte as a record rather than artistic statement. For those reasons, I try not to open up below F4, I try not to reduce shutter speed below 1/100 (even when we’re posing for a family shot) and adjust iso accordingly.
Phototip for shooting multiple trails of fireworks: Prior to the display commencing, work out what exposure you need for the background at a low’ish iso. Then probably halve that exposure time (for 1 stop less light) and keep that exposure time in your mind. When the fireworks start, leave the camera in bulb exposure mode with a black card over the camera until fireworks are launched. Count how long you have left the black card off for and end the exposure once you’ve reached your approximate exposure duration after varying salvos of fireworks. I hope that works for you as it did for me during Mickey’s fireworks over the castle!
Lastly, Charlotte has the last word in this video of her trip experiences!
Well, that rounds out a fantastic trip to the USA and hopefully we’ll be able to return in a few years time with an older Charlotte and sibling at the same stage of development 🙂 Have a merry christmas and happy new year everyone!
-D & M & C & (yet to be named infant!)