There is a lot to be said for building from a foundation of strength and knowledge (and using a reflector to lighten deep shadows and balance you exposure without resorting to HDR). It can be tricky to get exposure right on something this contrasty so using manual mode is a must.

Same image without the reflector just exposed for the highlights. I actually don’t mind this as there is still a hint of detail in the shadow and the diagonal line from the middle to bottom left is stronger but all that black makes it look top heavy to me. I could work if the image was square though.

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Not sure who said it originally but the skills that make a good photographer require regular exercise, not just to maintain them but for any extension of ability. Ultimately it gives you creative choices and control.


Two out of three

Two out of three

Important tips when photographing flowers if there is the slightest breeze…

Don’t do it!

Okay, sometimes that isn’t a choice so you can improve your chances with this advice.

  1. Try and secure the stem to save reframing the image every few seconds.
  2. Assume your depth of field is insufficient and increase it by at least two stops, especially as you get within an arm’s length of your subject. f5.6 won’t deliver the sharpness that f16 will at that distance.
  3. Keep your shutter speed high to avoid blur. More wind equals higher shutter speed.
  4. Assuming you do steps 2 and 3, raising the ISO on your camera is the only way to have both.
  5. Never assume the focal point you chose will be what you end up with. Try and wait for the breeze to back off then press the shutter button.

Here is the same plant on a calmer day…


Deliberate practice


Just a bunch of pencils right?

There is more to it because this is practice, not just getting the lighting, exposure and focus right but starting with a pile of pencils and just looking at them, playing with compositions and placing them in different colour combinations.

If your eye is drawn to the yellow pencil, that’s no coincidence, it’s practice.  It’s all about repeatedly trying , failing and learning.

If only I had a sitter as patient as these pencils…

Looking and listening this week

Looking and listening this week

It’s been a good week.

My Father In-Law graciously agreed to sit for me and while I was happy with the result, there is a lot more I need to be thinking about in my approach to portraiture and that means more practice.

I finally got started reading Annie Liebovitz: A photographer’s life 1990-2005 I have had it for a few months but not even opened it. To be honest I had seen the hardcover of this and the cost put me off but my wife spotted a soft cover edition and got it for me.

The folio pick for this week is Ian Munro. I like images that tell a story and Munro’s character portraits do that for me (warning some images are not safe for work)

Listening to Nataly Dawn who is one half of Pomplamoose

All about fear, uncertainty and doubt

All about fear, uncertainty and doubt

Last week I spoke a little about the fear of disappointing someone who sat for me and that it was necessary for me to fail in order to progress. The first thing to know about fear is that it never travels far without uncertainty and doubt tagging along. They are a tag team evolved to keep us alive but often keeping us from doing things we want too.

In contrast, confidence is accompanied by passion and knowledge. The confident person is no more certain at the outset but determined to overcome that by learning skills and applying them. They also keep going after failing when others falter.

Determination is key. There is a great quote from Dr Mark Goulston that nails this.

“The essence of it is that you need to have a clear, precise, compelling and totally convincing vision of what your best life looks like. When you see it, commitment naturally follows. If commitment doesn’t follow, the vision wasn’t important enough.”

Sometimes the bogeymen are all in our minds…