365 Challenge #324 - an afternoon in the mansion

Wow! It was a fast and furious few hours at a 70's Italian-styled mansion at Carseldine this afternoon! Krank Photography Workshops set up no less than 10 "scenes" for us to shoot, inside and outside the ornately decorated house which is slated for demolition in a few months. Enter the developers...

Photographers Glen Krohn and Deborah Boots were on hand to show us how to get the best out of the models, poses and camera settings. The stylist (Elisha Casagrande), and hair and makeup team from Elite Freelancing, did an awesome job, as did the lovely models who remained incredibly patient with what must have felt like a paparazzi's-worth of photographers in their faces.

The workshop was fun, and definitely piqued my interested in fashion photography. Now...I want to go do it all again!

There's no circus in this tent!

I'm loving the Colour II series of workshops I'm doing at the Brisbane College of Photography & Art. We're covering macro photography in a fair bit of detail at the moment, and this week we covered lighting options for macro work.

I'd seen light boxes and product tables in action very briefly at the Creative Photo Workshops Studio Lighting Workshop I did late last year, but was more focused in that session on shooting portraits of the glam models, than bottles and watches. 

Anyway, this week, we played around with a 80cm x 80cm light tent, and I really like the soft light a portable white box like this can throw around pretty much any object you put in it.

The lecturer was telling us that he'd experimented a lot with light tents and found that it really didn't matter too much where (on the outside of the) light tent you fired the flash (or studio lights) - that it would just throw a nice diffused light into the tent and keep harsh shadows out of the image.

So now, of course, I need to experiment for myself...I found a nice cheap light tent online, and am patiently awaiting its arrival. Watch this space for the practice attempts...

365 Challenge #321 - Super Moon meets River Cat on the Brisbane River

I finally got a great view of the last of this week's "Super Moon". This shot is what happened when Super Moon met the River Cat :).

Gotta love a full moon over the Brisbane River on a balmy evening. Happy days!

365 Challenge #319 - Round II was less than stellar

So - I'm playing in the Footy Tipping Competition at work, and have come to the rapid conclusion after just two weeks, that I suck at tipping. Last week, I scored what I felt was a respectable 4 points, but this week it nose-dived to just 3 correctly picked tips out of 8. Can't wait for the AFL to start...I'm hoping there's a Wooden Spoon Award in that category - at least I may have some hope of winning. Make that WINNING!

On the upside, I learnt how to take screenshots with my iPhone just now - so tonight's photo came from the Footy Tipping app, courtesy of the iPhone.

Maybe NRL is good for something after all....

365 Challenge #318 - who says you can't play with food!

The weather is still crapulous outside, and I was itching to do something with my camera today. So...time for an indoor photography project! It was the perfect chance to play with one of the techniques I learnt in last week's workshop of the Colour II course at the Brisbane College of Photography and Art.

We discussed and experimented with how to shoot translucent objects, like these gorgeous red onions. I love the colours and patterns that come from natural objects, and working out how to light them to really show off those naturally beautiful qualities.

I don't have a light tent or light box, and our tutor showed us a really simple and quick way of achieving the same effect. The next picture shows the ingredients - two translucent plastic chopping boards, two glasses (which prop up the large board), translucent ingredients like red onions or lemons, and some form of flash or continuous lighting.

My set up for the shoot was as follows:
1) Large chopping board propped up on the two glasses - ideally it's level!
2) Smaller board blocks off the back of the set up, to bounce light back in to the "box".
3) On reflection, I should have used white blocks or something other than glasses to prop up the chopping board, to prevent light escaping - but in this situation, it worked fine.
4) Flash or other light source (in this case, I was triggering mine wirelessly, but in class, we used a small desk lamp which provided continuous light).
5) Arrange ingredients over the board, and shoot. You can see the flash going off in the picture below,  and how it blows out the background, leaving just the onions.

In terms of the gear I used, my macro lens is out visiting a wedding this weekend, so I used the Canon 500D close up lens attached to my Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8 L lens on the 5D II. I hand held the camera (although really should have used a tripod).

The camera settings were: ISO-100, f/11, 1/200, focal length of 50mm, manual focus. The speedlight was dialled down to 1/16 power. 

And voila! That's how I made translucent fruit. There's really no limit to how else this technique can be used - jelly babies and other types of see-though lollies, other fruits and vegetables, leaves....and on it goes. Next time I might add a gel over the flash, to throw coloured light into the "box"...the possibilities are endless!

Who says you can't play with food??

Insanely great photo projects and DIY ideas with photojojo

A few months ago, I came across Photojojo, a fantastic, zany little site with some very cool gifts and gear for photographers.

Photojojo!: Insanely Great Photo Projects and DIY IdeasAs well as awesome products like fisheye, macro and wide angle lens attachements for mobile phones, funky photo frames and "The Bottle Cap Tripod", photojojo sells a book full of "insanely great photo projects and DIY ideas".

I was doing a big order from Amazon.com (which I do every couple of months to make the most of shipping costs), and decided that any book that had as its cover, a picture of a dog with a small camera strapped to its head with a Joby Gorillapod, was up my alley. Imagine the images that you'd get from the perspective of your pooch :).

So the book arrived this week, and I've been flicking through for inspiration. You can also check out the photojojo Facebook page, which currently has over 34,700 fans, and provides a continual stream of funky, funny ideas.

The book shows how you can make ginormous photo mosaics, and all manner of holders and clips to display your photos. For example, there's a whole page dedicated to "how to turn a fork into a photo stand"!

One project shows you how to create your own photo Rubik's Cube, and for the slightly more vindictive amongst us, how to create a photo doll.

There's projects like "The Human Calendar", how to make personal snow globes, new ideas for 365 projects, DIY Time Machines...and on it goes. I'm smiling just looking at the photos of how to work through these projects!

Section Two shows how to make MacGyver-like tools like string monopods, flash diffusers, a cheap fish eye lens and a pinhole camera.

I love the way the book is written, and it really does seem to be full of "insanely great photo projects and DIY ideas." Now...which one to try first??

High speed water shots - and how to do them!

It's another wet weekend in Brisbane, and I found this post I'd started collecting notes about, but had not yet posted it.

I'm fascinated by high speed photography - particularly high speed images of water splashes, like this stunning one from Martin Waugh. Check out his website to see a consistently amazing portfolio of water splashes and water collisions. What's the difference? Keep reading....

(c) 2006 Martin Waugh at www.liquidsculpture.com
Martin describes in very general terms, his process for creating what he calls Liquid Sculptures and you can see a picture of his shooting set up.

I was so interested in his work, I scoured every part of his site, and came across this slow motion video which shows what actually happens to a water drop when it hits a shallow pool of water (a splash), and what happens when a water drop which has "bounced off the pool of water" and collides with another falling drop (a collision, like the image above).

Anyway, as the rain continues to fall, I'm feeling a bit inspired to keep playing with water and eventually get to images like Martin's. I suspect it's going to take a l-o-t of practice :)

Fabulous fashion photography with Krank Photography Workshops

© 2011 www.krankphotographyworkshops.com.au
Despite my vigorous attempts to show restraint in the 1) photography equipment purchase and 2) continuous attendance of workshops stakes, this one floated into my inbox this week (courtesy of Steve, the uber-Gadget man Peters).

Krank Photography Workshops seem to have recently started up in Brisbane, offering fashion photography workshops under the guidance of Brisbane photographers, Glenn Krohn and Deborah Boots.

The blurb for the upcoming workshop next weekend says "Krank Photography Workshops has lined up exclusive access to an awesome 70′s Italian-styled mansion decorated in ornate wallpapers, with grand staircase, chandeliers and period furniture. This workshop is aimed to give you an understanding of portable lighting equipment and how to use it creatively on a location shoot. Your photography instructor Glen Krohn, will take you through planning the styling of the shoot, briefing hair and make-up, casting and directing models."

It sounded so cool - the images on the Krank workshop so very glam! I pondered it for a few days, then caved to temptation this morning and booked into next weekend's workshop. 

All I can say at this point is, "SHOW ME THE MANSION!" Can't wait to see what will come out of this workshop, but I have a feeling it's gonna be good.

Japan..."stay strong and united"

A small plaque at Naritsan Temple just six weeks ago...
It's hard to believe that just six weeks ago, my wonderful week-long holiday in Japan was coming to an end. Mum and I were diverted home from Tokyo via Singapore after our outbound flight was cancelled due to volcanic ash in the Kyushu area. Perhaps that was a warning of things to come...

For me, our brief trip to Japan had provided a much welcome escape from Queensland's "Big Wet", and the unplanned evacuation from and re-location back into my Teneriffe apartment during the devastating floods which engulfed large parts of Australia's third largest city. At least I had a dry, undamaged home to return to.

We were fortunate to arrive home from Tokyo just a few days ahead of Cyclone Yasi, one of the most powerful cyclones ever to smash the Far North Queensland coast. A couple of weeks later, a massive earthquake struck the beautiful New Zealand city of Christchurch.

It feels like the news in 2011 has been one continual waterlogged story of death and devastation. It feels like each of these natural disasters has grown exponentially in scope and destruction - the stories of loss seemingly far outweighing the stories of survival. And yet, I've been morbidly transfixed by the TV footage and unbelievable, "before and after photos" each day. There has also been an incredible display of community spirit - locally and globally - after each disaster. Each day seems to give birth to yet another much needed disaster relief fund.

And just when we in the Pacific didn't think things could get a whole lot worse, Mother Nature threw a complete hissy fit last Friday and squeezed out an 8.9-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Northern Japan. As if the quake, which apparently rocked and rolled the beautiful island nation a couple of metres sideways - permanently, was not bad enough, a series of tsunamis then smashed the coast and everything in their path.

The Japanese coined the phrase "tsunami". Situated in the Pacific "Rim of Fire" atop a couple of restless tektonic plates, this is a country used to earthquakes and the subsequent big waves which such massive releases of energy generate. Sophisticated early warning systems are located around the Japanese coastline, and the buildings are apparently built to withstand pretty severe shaking.

But we've since learned that this monster quake was some 8,000 times more intense in energy than the Christchurch earthquake. Who'd have thought that was even possible?

We've heard that a wall of water, in some cases up to 10 metres high and travelling at 800 kilometres an hour - the speed of a jet aircraft in flight - completely flattened towns such as Sendai, Otsuchi, Minamisoma, Minami Sinraku, Rikuzentakat...and the list goes on.

It's heartbreaking to think that several thousand people have already died in this latest tragedy; that some four days later, there are thousands of missing people who will most likely never be found; that search and rescue teams and the armed forces still can't even get into some of the small villages to begin to assess the loss; that hundreds of thousands of Japanese people are tonight separate from their loved ones, still without homes, power and food - all of this in the middle of a cold winter. Add to that the growing threat of multiple nuclear emergencies, and you can't help but wonder, WHEN WILL IT ALL STOP? When will this battered country get some sort of a reprieve and see an end to a disaster which just seems to keep unfolding?

My heart breaks with every tragic image I see of this awesome country in turmoil. I am desperately sad seeing images of the stoic Japanese people, whose world has fallen apart - yet who remain calm, and warrior-like in their resolve to keep going, seemingly against all odds. They are indeed inspirational.

I took the photo in this post on my first day in Japan - spotting it by chance out of the thousands of similar little handwritten messages hanging off racks around the Narita-san temple complex. After the Queensland floods, it was like I was meant to see that little plaque.

And so to the Japanese people, I say in return, that I hope you too can overcome this disaster, and stay strong and united. xx

365 Challenge #310 Hope & Ed's Wedding

I went to the lovely wedding of Hope and Ed, on Friday. It was held at An Island Hideaway on South Stradbroke island.Such a beautiful setting - even the persistent rain didn't dampen the happiness of the day.

Hope and Ed had met at a local Lifesaving Club in Victoria, and the whole wedding was themed around the beach. Even the wedding cake was decorated with star fish and shells, with raw sugar providing the "sand" - I thought it was all gorgeous!

Congratulations to Hope and Ed on an awesome day, and for a long and happy marriage.