Hamilton Island – Meeting the Locals

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo – Click to Embiggen

These gorgeous and noisy birds flocked around the trees in my hotel, coming and going through the day.  I confess to capture this image I did put some biscuits out which they did ask you not to do, as it is bad for the birds and teaches them bad habits.

It did mean I got visited by several birds including this handsome fellow who walked his way up and down the railing on my balcony and posed very nicely for several minutes.  There had been a big rainstorm just beforehand so the light was very flat and dull, and the angle of the light was poor as well so I made some adjustments account for that.

Post processing steps – all done in LR5

1. Adjust exposure, contrast, highlights, whites blacks and shadows globally.

2. Even out the background tones a bit better

3. Local adjustment with radial tool to the top of the head to tone down the bright patch.

4. Local adjustment with radial tool to the beak to lighten the shadows and capture some of the interesting texture.

5. Local adjustment with radial tool to the eye to increase the clarity and make it pop more.

6.  Give the yellow hue slider a nudge to make the yellow in the feathers to be a more correct tone – it really is very bright yellow :)

Taken handheld with my 7D mk 11 and I think the 17-55mm lens, I had time to swap lenses and this allowed me to get closer and get a better angle for clearing the background.

All comments and feedback welcome!

Posted in Image Processing, Photowalk or Fieldtrip, Posts with my photos | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

One Four Challenge – March Wk 1

Dead tree at Catseye Beach, Hamilton Island – Click to Embiggen

Here we are again for March for the One Four Challenge.  As I spent all weekend cleaning and sanding and prepping to paint all the trim in my bathroom (and have yet to START actually painting!) the easy route is being taken for this month.

This is a tree that according to photos in my hotel room, actually used to be alive, which is a bit odd as it lives about 20 feet out into the sea.  Maybe it was blown in on a storm and took root?  It is a mystery but it was something I had to go back with my camera and capture on our last morning.  This was taken after I waded out about knee deep to get a better angle.

Post Processing Steps:

1.  Import original into LR, straighten, crop and lens adjustment

2. Adjust exposure, highlights, shadows, clarity and saturation globally.

3.  Put an ND Grad filter over the sky and tweak exposure down a bit and add in more contrast and clarity to the clouds.

4. Export to Nik Silver Efex – this is the Wet Rocks preset

Colour version after LR5 adjustments – Click to Embiggen

The colour image is nice but I thought a BW would really work well, what do you think?

All feedback and comments welcome!


Posted in Image Processing, Photo Challenges | Tagged , , , , , , , | 47 Comments

ABFriday Wk 38

Sunrise PPeak AB post 1000 pixels-7928

Hamilton Island Sunrise – AFTER

My first entry for the weekly AB Friday Challenge – woohoo! This is the AFTER image above.

This image is of Passage Peak on Hamilton Island in Australia where I went recently for a conference.  Because we were 3 hours behind NZ it turned out sunrise was at a civilised time for my morning hating body and I got up to see a couple of sunrises with my camera.

This was the last morning and it was very windy so there was a lot of cloud in the sky.

Post Processing steps:

1. Import RAW file into LR5 and set lens corrections, straighten horizon and crop image.

2.  Adjust WB, contrast, highlights, shadows and whites, adding a touch of clarity and vibrance globally

3.  Bring in a ND grad filter on the sky, bring exposure and highlights down, contrast and shadows up, add more clarity and saturation.

4. Darken the orange hue to pick up the colour in the clouds

5.  Add a touch of pink/purple split toning to pick up the pink tones in the clouds better

That was it, all done in LR5 :)

Here is the BEFORE unprocessed RAW file.

Sunrise PPeak AB post 1000 pixels RAW-7927

All comments and feedback welcome! Isn’t it exciting what you can do when processing a RAW file?

Posted in Image Processing, Posts with my photos, Useful Tips for Beginners | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments

Trey Ratcliff Lightroom Tutorial on special

Now I haven’t purchased this deal myself but I have attended a day long workshop where Trey took us through his editing process and I learned HEAPS – in fact it was there I learned about the power of the ND Grad filter in LR and how it can make cloudy skies so much more improved.

So for anyone new to LR or looking to expand their skills this looks like a pretty good deal but only on for 48 hrs so GET IN QUICK!!

Trey Ratcliff Lightroom Tutorial on Special

Trey’s Lightroom Tutorial for Beginners and Beyond (BONUS BUNDLE)

SAVE $30! The BONUS Bundle includes:
– 2013 Collection of Trey’s LR Presets ($20 value)
– 2014 Collection of Trey’s LR Presets ($20 value)
– Capture of the Photo Edit & Q&A Session
– Several of Trey’s RAW files to work along with
– Access to the Stuck in Customs clubhouse




Posted in Image Processing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Camera Etiquette Questions

(Reposted Feb 2015)

Someone posted a question about this in a forum I browse regularly, and it got me thinking. Most of the responses the poster got was around wedding photography (there may have been an element of that in their original question, I forget)

As I think about it there are several layers of camera etiquette, and I am still feeling my way around them. Here is where my head is at:

Street Photography – not something I have really tried yet. I gather that you are more likely to get the best candid shots when people don’t see you point the lens at them, so there is an element of ‘shooting from the hip’ where you shoot without even holding up to your eye? Or is that just a descriptor for some other technique I don’t know yet?

Of course, in this day and age of paranoia of terroism, it is becoming more and more difficult overseas to be a photographer in the open. Various articles I have seen have lots of bad things to say about your ability to walk the streets as a tourist photographer, and the assumption that the law has the right to demand either your images be deleted, or confiscation of your camera, with no allowance for explanation or reasonable compromise. This is a concern, and I feel for the people who live in those countries :(

Wedding Photography – given that weddings are usually held in some form of house of religion and they often have their own rules about what is allowed (usually no flash inside is the one I am most familiar) if you are ‘the event photographer’ then you get right of way so to speak. But what if you are an invited guest, who is also a keen photographer and happens to have pro looking gear? If it was me, I would introduce myself to the event person, explain my reason for being there with a camera, and ask politely if they minded if I shot around the edges? And if they objected, I guess I would have to abide by that. Perhaps useful to check in with the bride/groom beforehand and ask them to check with the event photog first to save the embarrasment?

How many times would a pro shooter be likely to deny you the opportunity? I guess it depends on their ego or them seeing you shooting stuff for free that they would be charging for. I would probably pick a few of the very best images I took and gift them as nice sized prints to the couple as a present (if I got any decent shots), would a Pro respect that? Its potentially a delicate balance to walk. If you were a Pro how would you handle it.

People Photography – I have had a little bit of experience with this as part of a course I did, and it was really good experience. We went to a popular center city marketplace and got let loose to see what we could come back around composition (that was the course). At first I was very shy and stuck to architecture, sculpture, buildings etc. But I happened to be in a situation with the camera out where I saw a mother with her baby that was very photogenic. And I asked her if she minded if I shot some shots. I was with a couple of classmates, so we all let loose for a few minutes. I got their contact details from Dad and all seemed to be happy.

It made me braver. So far I have approached several people after having shot their offspring (usually after the fact) but after introducing myself and getting their contact details to send pix details, I haven’t had a bad experience, yet. I think it helps a great deal that I am a woman, and potentially seen as non threatening. And I certainly try to come across as such. And if you offer to send them sample pix, so far they have been keen to supply email addresses, and so far liked what I sent them :)

Event Photography – I have been doing a lot of shooting for my local Swing Dance group and I had some good learning experiences over a big 3 day weekend event where we had probably 100+ out of towners come down for it. And I shot at all the big events. It was an interesting experience, learning to try to be low profile and stalk people to get the candid shots. I also got out of my comfort zone asking people to pose, and most were obliging – I found that a an inquiring look on the face as I lifted the camera up a bit and smiling got a positive response – most people posed or grouped together for a shot with little more prompting than that. Again, I suspect being a woman and less threatening helps in this sort of situation. And not being pushy – I hate having my photo taken so I am happy to respect that and give people the space to opt out of a posed shot.

And I also make sure that I *never* post the really embarrassing shots so that they are generally happy with seeing the shots I do show :) I think that is a key but largely unwritten covenant between the photographer and their subjects.

One of the issues with the swing dance photography is that it is often in very bad light, and while there is a lot that can be done with fast lenses and high iso, sometimes you have no choice but to use a flash. I am limited to the oncamera flash, but the one time I used it most of a nights dancing, I positioned myself up on a balcony to try and give as much space and not overwhelm people with the flash. I asked after that night if it bothered anyone, and lots of people said they saw me up there but never noticed the flash, so that was good. I aim to get an external flash I can put some filtering on, and try to bounce it to get a better indirect option and make it less intrusive.

General wandering around with your camera is a bit of an interesting experience when you have pro grade gear. You get a lot of comments about the size of the equipment “that must be a flash camera” that kind of thing. Sometimes from other shooters (usually with P&S) and sometimes from passersby. I got asked by some tourists with a P&S to take a photo of them with it, as I had fancy gear so obviously knew what I was doing LOL.

I found the responses I get when I set up my tripod in a public space interesting – we had a Buskers Festival here recently. I made a point of getting there early and setting up in a corner spot and gave everyone a chance to see me setup and most people were obliging about not blocking my line of sight. The most interesting thing was the number of acts who actually commented on the camera, and played up to it, and straight out asked me who I was shooting for in the middle of the act. Wasn’t expecting that question, and had no answer other than “Me” which didn’t seem to bother them. And they were happy to hand over a card so I could send links to pix online (must pull finger and edit some more and do that LOL)

I guess what I am saying is that there is a certain perception of you if you walk around with the big gear. And given I am totally a beginner I guess I found this interesting, and also amusing. Smile and nod your way through it usually works. I don’t know if I am lucky or just careful, as I do make an effort not to poke my camera into people’s personal space, and if I am at a public event, its fairly obvious that I am there to take photos, once you have the gear up on a tripod.

I haven’t gone to something that has a pro shooter already there (like professional sport) so haven’t had any issues with taking my gear in or shooting while at that event. Though I have heard of other people in NZ who have had issues. I guess its important to check the rules and requirements in advance, but it was a surprise to me initially as I had never come across any event situation where you were not allowed to take in a camera at all, or only take in small P&S style. So I learned a lot there, and will have to remember to check if I go to any similar events.

So what other things etiquette wise am I missing – there are a lot of situations and experiences I have yet to be in. But I never want to be the ‘jerk with the fancy gear’ or the ‘ignorant idiot photographer’ in any situation so please, let me learn from those who know :)

Posted in Photography Questions, Useful Tips for Beginners | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

100 things I have learned about photography

(Originally posted Jan 2012 – reposting Feb 2015)

Actually I havent learned 100 things according to this article, I have learned about 58 things.

Still the good news is I *have* learnt something. And many of these are things I didn’t know before I took up photography seriously, and some of them are things I didn’t know about myself.

Here are some of the key things I personally have learned in the last couple of years:

Check your gear BEFORE you leave – arriving with no battery or no memory card is a bad move.
Check your settings before you shoot, no need to shoot at ISO1000 in the middle of a sunny day.
Buy the most comfortable camera bag you can afford (you will buy several over time, there is no such thing as the perfect bag, its the Holy Grail)
Don’t buy the fanciest lightest carbon fibre tripod (unless you make megabucks) they aren’t really that much lighter, and not that stable in a windy environment.
Always have good footwear
Pack sunscreen and water
Stash a torch in your bag somewhere
Keep an umbrella in your car
Participate in your local photographic community, those other photogs are groovy people who know stuff you can learn from
By all means suffer from gear envy but if you have the nice stuff, don’t be a dick about it
Sometimes you lose your mojo, do whatever feels right at the time to deal, eventually it will come back but don’t beat yourself up about it
Printing is LOTS more complicated than you think
Be honest but nice when critiquing others work
Even if it doesn’t feel right, go out anyway, the strangest things can inspire you
Its *all* about the light, everything else is just icing
Have a process that works for you, some like RAW some don’t, experiment so you know what works for you
Sunsets are cool, but the best ones are almost always the ones you stay home for
Sunrises involve getting up waaaaaay too early in the morning
Be Prepared
Remember its supposed to be fun
Push your boundaries
Have structure in your process
Don’t overuse whatever effect du jour you are using (HDR as an example)
Have a map and use it

Seagull taking a bath in a pond – I was there shooting something else but saw this opportunity and had a play with faster shutter speeds.

Posted in Photography Questions, Tech Tips, Technique I have learned, Useful Tips for Beginners, Waffle and Burbling | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

One Four Challenge – Feb Wk 4

One Four Challenge Feb Wk 4 – Click to Embiggen

Last week for the Feb One Four Challenge and I had this idea about combining the tiger with chinese characters in some way, given that tigers come from Asia.

After looking online I found this image that had many different layers and styles of characters running up and down the page and thought it might make a nice background.

Post Processing Steps:

1.  Open up last weeks PSD file where the rock was removed

2.  Consider a BW conversion and open up image in Nik Silver Efex.  Instead find a sepia tone with a pale vignette that looks nice.

3.  Find the chinese character image, bring into PS, resize to suit and add as a layer above, blend using multipy and paint a mask over the tiger to remove the characters off him

4.  The two different images were different shades of sepia so add a Hue/Saturation layer on top, pick the Sepia preset and tweak it until happy.

I am not 100% happy with the detail around the front paws, due to the tonings in the chinese character layer, and the ear looks a bit cropped, but that was an angle thing.

Like it?  Hate it?  Did my asian connection concept work?

All comments, tips, tricks and feedback welcome!

Posted in Image Processing, Posts with my photos | Tagged , , , , , | 52 Comments