Upgrading lessons

Upgrading lessons

If you grew up hearing a song about a poor old woman who swallowed a fly, read on. If not take a look here for some additional context.

I recently had an opportunity to update my camera body at an amazing price. This is a good thing  but it also came with a reminder of a life lesson I want to share.

You are never updating one thing. Always look for the connections to avoid surprises.

Every time I have updated something, it set off a chain of other updates. When I switched to a digital SLR I had to work through and replace lenses to get the full benefits. I had to buy a new flash to take advantage of features like TTL. My darkroom had to be replaced with Adobe Lightroom. (Honestly, I miss the experience of printing but not the fumes, chemicals or the long nights and failures)

This lesson applies to seemingly small changes too. I was not expecting any compatibility issues with the new camera body and this has been the case with the lenses and flash. What I did not consider was software. I’m still on Lightroom 4 which apparently does not recognise the RAW files from the new camera. This is more of an annoyance as I was able to workaround the limitation but I will need to update to Lightroom 5. That also means buying some new books to learn all the new tweaks and tricks.

Another change I had planned for was storage. Doubling the megapixels on a sensor comes at a price of larger files.  I cleaned up my internal drive to make room for images but in the longer term, that drive will need to be replaced with a larger one. The computer itself will eventually need to be replaced too and no doubt that will trigger other changes.

This lesson applies to other aspects of life too. New educational qualifications open up new opportunities. So does moving to a new town.

It can apply to your creativity as well.  I want to take that same piece of advice above and reframe it.

In photography, you are never learning one thing. Always look for the connections and enjoy the surprises.

Think about that for a minute.

When I photograph someone, I’m not just refining or applying technique, hopefully, I’m engaging with that sitter and learning about them or perhaps I may learn something new about myself and how I relate to people. When I go somewhere and make images I learn about the area, it’s history, flora, fauna and where to get a good coffee afterwards.

Accept change, understand and manage risks and keep moving forward toward the next challenge.

Looking and listening this week

Looking and listening this week


It’s almost Orientation week and ahead is nine straight months of work with Summer school overlapping between the semesters. Only three more subjects lay between me and graduation.

This week I would like to share;

Gilmar (pronounced Hil-marrr) Smith  I just love how the work in this portfolio is lit.

Josh Wool has gone really retro, using tintypes as medium for his portraits. For me, this adds little, I would like the portraits anyway but he deserves some admiration for taking on a demanding technique.

I also got to watch this cool Greg Heisler interview

I have been diligently listening to all 116 episodes of the On taking pictures podcasts. What I like about the hosts is how candid they are about creativity and how open they are to influences from other art forms.



We are in conflict, wether we want to be or not. I understand but cannot accept that we seem unable to resolve our differences in more constructive ways.

I also do not and will never accept that any act of terror or attack on innocent people is justified. My deepest condolences go out to the families, colleagues and friends of the passengers of Malaysian airlines flight MH17.

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.


Looking and listening this week

Looking and listening this week


The semester break is coming to an end and I have caught up on a few things. I have also been looking around more and found some things to share.

Extraordinary Vision is an magazine for outdoor photographers that’s available for free through iTunes. (There are paid add-ins)

Reylia Slaby is based in Japan. Her portfolio covers a few themes and if you like Brooke Shaden or Leanne Cole, the work will appeal, without being a copy or homage. If you don’t, there is still something for you here.

Another portraiture portfolio worth checking out belongs to  Dalton Campbell

I also came across a good video about the power of perseverance in creativity.

Listening to Headland

About the Mojo

About the Mojo


The last few weeks I hit a bit of a slump and I realised it came down to a number of external factors and that I had to deal with so I could progress.

It’s common for anyone that makes or creates to get stuck occasionally.  Even famous photographer/international man of mystery Austin Powers…

For me it begins when that little voice starts up…

“You went there last time and you will end up with the same images if you go again”

“The light is rubbish”

“It’s raining and cold”

What we choose to do about it is key. The thing to do is to listen to that little voice but keep doing.

  1. Don’t make the same images, make better ones or use the same subject but use a different lens or time of day.
  2. If the light is rubbish BYO light. My definition of “available light” is any light, not just daylight. Use whatever you can to record what you see. I spoke about this in a previous post called faking it.
  3. Force yourself into uncomfortable situations. I made these yesterday on a two-hour walk in 2 degrees celsius  (that’s 35 degrees for those into Fahrenheit)

There is a mix of bold colour, muted colour, black and white, Lenses from 10 – 350mm, fixed and zoom lenses, natural and manmade subjects, large and small apertures, varied perspectives looking up, looking down and not just straight ahead.

All those options can be recombined to produce new and interesting images of the same subject. Some of the macro images are done with a telephoto zoom lens. The building could be photographed using a macro lens. The only image this approach could not apply to is the Kookaburra, unless you could get physically closer.

With point number three, I have mentioned photographing people is a problem I wanted to use this project to address. I had to overcome some anxiety and fear of rejection but now I am making progress. The block is not quite broken but I’m working through it.


Looking and listening this week

Looking and listening this week


The unread pile continues to slowly decrease. The weather has also meant there is less photography going on at present.

I’m also distracted by my recent decision to sell my bike to a wrecker. There is ten years of history together, a few near misses, a few that did not miss and some broken bits for us both along the way. After being hit last year there have been some reliability issues. the last straw was losing the high and low beams and having to ride back home with no lights. While that can be fixed, I no have confidence in getting from A to B, so the time has come to purchase bike number 4. Instead of getting out and making images or browsing for interesting photographs I am trawling bikesales.com looking at what I can afford. I think a new requirement will be to have something photogenic.

Tom McLaughlin has assembled some great abstract images.

Lovers shirts is a series of portraits with the subject wearing an item that had belonged to a partner. The images are simple but powerful.

Listening to Lior and Sia. The are great individually but this song is a wonderful collaboration.