The Three Capes Track: Thoughts

I’ve been meaning to do the Three Capes Track in Tasmania for a while now. TL;DR, it did not disappoint. From the memory-foam mattresses, to the USB phone chargers and excellent track work, you can tell a lot of thought and planning has gone into the track overall to make it as enjoyable as possible. But the real standout is the scenery—cliff lines towering hundreds of feet, dolerite galore and shimmering turquoise waters. It surely has to be one of the most scenic walks we have to offer.

The Blade overlooking Tasman Island. You can see my friend Rob at the very top.

The Blade overlooking Tasman Island. You can see my friend Rob at the very top.

The track runs a span of 46km over four days, with three nights of (luxurious by hiking standards) accommodation. The walk is far from taxing. In fact, I’d hazard most of our group firmly fell into the later end of life. It’s designed in such a way you can really take your own pace, as fast or slow as you want, and I’d err on the latter if you’re looking for maximum enjoyment.

The price of admission includes entry to the Port Arthur Historic site and a boat ride to the start of the track courtesy of the excellent Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. There is talk of expanding the track to include Cape Raoul, but as its own I think it’s just about right.

The view from the helipad at one of the huts as a storm cleared.

The view from the helipad at one of the huts as a storm cleared.

There’s also a great deal in terms of environs. The last day in particular sees you moving through a mossy beech forest that could well be the South Island. There is almost always something to see, including a variety of keenly placed sculptures and art installations with apt names like ‘My Blood Runs Cold’.

Photography-wise, it can be a bit of a challenge. I took just one camera, the Sigma DP1, but it would have been nice to have a lens in the tele range, especially shooting from some of the huts where the capes are a bit further out.

Part of the magical beech forest heading up Mt Fortescue.

Part of the magical beech forest heading up Mt Fortescue.

The highlight was, of course, the Blade, a sharp, towering formation overlooking Tasman Island and the infinite beyond. This required a very early start the night before and a climb up in the dark and rain, but the view was well worth the effort and a must if you’re looking to capture the Blade in its best light. For astrophotography, it would be great, though the Sigma isn’t much good above ISO 100.

Having done a bit of rock climbing in the past, I was especially excited to see two young men tackle the Totem Pole at Cape Hauy while we were there, a rarity given only 20-30 climbers take it on a year. It required the lead climber to abseil right down to the water and then bridge the gap by penduluming off the main face and lunging for an anchor point, all while the swell tossed and turned only feet below. Talk about a heart-racing climb!

My favourite image from the trip showing  a sudden storm moving out into the ocean. Sights like these are a regular occurance.

My favourite image from the trip showing  a sudden storm moving out into the ocean. Sights like these are a regular occurance.

As for track tips, pack as much fresh food as you can, at least for the first day or two before everyone inevitably pulls out their Back Country dehy meals (never again). The kitchen facilities are excellent. I even managed to smuggle in a half-dozen fresh eggs. People were cooking up steak and vegetables, dhal, hand-made pasta… You name it.

I’d also suggest packing as light as you can, keeping in mind you can leave unwanted bulk at the Port Arthur Historic Site (at the visitor’s centre at the top, not down near the jetty). It’s a very short walk on day one, so you’re better off taking the later boat and exploring the port. The same goes for the last, and most strenuous, day to Capue Hauy and the postcard-like Fortescue Bay. The last thing you want to be doing is rushing to catch your bus.

A similar view prior to the rain and storm activity.

A similar view prior to the rain and storm activity.

Pack for all weather. We had everything—hail, rain, sun, storms. As it’s Tassie, the UV is a lot stronger as well, so be sure to bring ample sunscreen and a hat/long-sleeved clothing. While you’re at it, allow a day or two of R&R in Hobart. Visit MONA, eat at the Machine Laundry Cafe and take it all in. It’s a surprisingly happening part of the world.

More information HERE.

Tasman Island as seen from the very top of the Blade. I have to admit, it's a rather daunting position with the wind and exposure, but what a view!

Tasman Island as seen from the very top of the Blade. I have to admit, it's a rather daunting position with the wind and exposure, but what a view!

The track includes a boat tour. Here we have what our captain referred to as the 'nostril cave'.

Landscape Photography In The Warrumbungles: A Year With The Sigma DP1 Quattro

I recently spent a weekend in the Warrumbungle region, which apart from having the greatest name ever for a national park, is also ripe with photographic opportunity. We stayed at Coonabarabran, roughly a half hour from the Warrumbungle National Park. Coona itself is five hours from Sydney, so not too bad in the scheme of things. This trip also marked my Sigma DP1’s first birthday, but we’ll get to that later.

The big draw is the Grand High Tops circuit, a roughly four-hour loop that takes in all the famous peaks the park has to offer. The rock formations themselves are remnants of an eroded volcano active 13-17 million years ago. The volcano itself was estimated to be 1km high and 50km wide, so rather large. Standing up there, you can certainly picture it.

The Grand High Tops walk is impeccably maintained. There’s a paved track for a fair heft of the way, new staircases and plenty of rest areas. It’s far from the bush track it used to be. Even the camping facilities down the bottom are first rate. Just make sure you remember where you parked your car…

About 15min into the walk I realised I was going to get some serious blisters trying to break a new pair of boots in, but I pushed on. Suffice to say, make sure you’re prepared with not only proper footwear, but water, food and warm clothing, as it gets quite cold after sunset.

I didn’t realise that the region is dubbed the ‘astronomy capital of Australia’, but at night it soon became clear why. I have never seen so many stars so vibrant in the sky. The Sigma, with its lack of high ISO prowess, doesn’t do astrophotography, but if you have a camera that does, you’re in for a treat.

The main attraction in the Warrumbungles is the famous Breadknife, a thin (surprisingly thin) blade of rock that juts from the earth like something out of Jurassic Park. Rock-climbing is prohibited, but if you’re a crag fiend, fear not. There are plenty of other peaks to scale.

We headed up for sunset the first day where I shot the Breadknife from the top lookout, leaving Coonabarabran the following morning at 2:30am to catch sunrise back at the Knife at 5:30am. A word to the wise, camp at Balor Hut and save yourself the hiking.

Sunrise gifts you with golden light smacking the side of the Breadknife, but you have to be careful, as during certain times of the year the sun is blocked by Belogery spire to the right. I wasn’t aware of this, the sun only making it through by metres, enough to light half of the rock during the best light directly after sunrise. I don’t mind the look, however, as it provides shape to the dome in the background.

At the top lookout you can turn in any direction and find a mighty peak. Here’s Crater Bluff, an imposing peak that looks ripe for climbing. It was lit with the most magical light during sunset, but I wanted a comp a little out of norm. The result is actually my favourite image from the trip.

While the Grand High Tops is great, there are so many other peaks around the area that seemingly go missed, such as Timor Rock right next to the road. One morning we waited for sunrise and drove madly shooting all the peaks we could in the good light. Although the bushfires a few years ago were terrible, what they have done is remove the vegetation from many of these peaks, giving them an alien, spiny look. The lack of trees really allowed you to see the shapes and structures of the peaks unhindered. The new growth coming through is also photogenic in its own right.

Often I find the journey to a destination is just as interesting as the destination itself. The ‘Golden Highway’ is alive with expanse fields and rolling hills, but I was particularly drawn to abandoned structures, such as the motel and train station below in Dunedoo. I took these images handheld and they are perhaps the least processed of any of the shots I took during the trip.

A perfect stop on the way back to Sydney is Lake Windamere with its haunting trees. I could resist a quick long exposure (read: 30sec).

So, what are my thoughts on the Sigma DP1 Quattro after a year then? It truly has been a game-changer for me, putting me much closer to the kind of images I want to take. The detail and dimensionality continue to blow me away, but it is not without its faults. My biggest gripe is dynamic range, especially when the Sony sensors offer so much. I’m hopeful the new SD-H might address this, and a few other issues, such as a viewfinder and exposures longer than 30sec. It will be interesting to see how it compares.

Perhaps the greatest part of travelling with the DP1 has been its portability. It really is a pocket camera, taking up barely any room in my bag but delivering files that rival medium-format. Given its lack of high ISO usability, average screen and so on, it’s very much what I imagine using an older Phase One P25 would be like. I’d love to do a side-by-side some time.

People still look perplexed when I pull the DP1. Sitting next to a Mamiya RB67 on my shelf here it looks very, very small indeed. Honestly, I don’t think fellow photographers take it very seriously at all. Their loss, I say.

As for the Warrumbungles, get there ASAP if you can. The walks are super-accessible and I dare say the view from the top of the Grand High Tops is one of the best in the whole country. It’s ancient, mysterious and complete cat-nip for photographers. Go and see why.

Sigma Quattro DP: Medium Format In Your Pocket

For the last couple of years I’ve been agonizing over a replacement camera for my landscape work. My Canon 5D MkII served me well, but it was time to move on. At one stage I was a mouse click away from an A7R, looking forward to the increased dynamic range, portability and lack of an AA filter. When I started looking a little closer at the kind of photos I wanted to produce, however, I realised what I really wanted was the look and feel of medium format, that depth, detail and clarity you can never get with a 35mm sensor. So, I got serious about an older Phase One, something like a P25+ in the range of $10,000 AUD second-hand with body. I realised it would be no good at high ISO, slow and outdated, but it seemed like the only way to get on the Phase train.

Sigma DP1 - Looking up at orange lichen-covered rocks at Cape Forbin on SA's Kangaroo Island. f10, ISO 100 1/3sec

Sigma DP1 - Looking up at orange lichen-covered rocks at Cape Forbin on SA's Kangaroo Island. f10, ISO 100 1/3sec

The Pentaz 645Z popped up. I started looking at the older 645D as well, but both were still a grand investment. This was around the time award-winning Australian landscape photographer Christian Fletcher started preaching the Sigma Quattro gospel. I’d looked at the Quattros before, thought of them as a gimmicky love child of a boomerang and a remote control, but the more I looked at Christian’s Sigma files, the more I could not tell them apart from those shot with his Phase. Even Christian himself admits the Sigma Quattros are ‘medium format in your pocket’ and some of the best value cameras on the planet. When he told me you can happily print the Sigma files up to 60x40 inches without a problem, I was sold. Combine that with a frame and you’ve got a serious piece of art on your hands. It’s certainly large enough for my purposes.

Honestly, the last camera I expected to buy was a Sigma Quattro. I was expecting to pay $10,000 for a medium format camera, not $999 for a glorified compact, but I’m glad I took the gamble. What I’ve discovered since is that Sigma’s Foveon sensor combined with the fixed lenses of the Quattro series provide mind-blowing amounts of detail and a dimensionality (there’s a word for you) much more in line with medium format. It instantly stands out. I look at my Canon files now (anything non-Foveon, actually) and cringe. The Sigma ‘look’ is something that cannot really be defined, but something I believe will help distinguish my images from everyone else's out there. As someone said once, somewhere, in some place, if everyone is headed in the same direction, the only to stand out is to go against the stream. Amen.

Sigma DP1 - The unusual and remote Cape Borda Lighthouse. Defined subjects like this work very well when converted to 32bit HDR files from the DP1 if you want to suck out every last drop of detail. ISO 100, f7.1 1/125sec

Sigma DP1 - The unusual and remote Cape Borda Lighthouse. Defined subjects like this work very well when converted to 32bit HDR files from the DP1 if you want to suck out every last drop of detail. ISO 100, f7.1 1/125sec

 

ERGONOMICS

To put the Quattro DP1 to the test, I recently thrashed it on a three-day family holiday to South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, staying at the remote Cape Forbin. I took my 5D MkII as well, mostly for shots of the kids, but what actually happened is that the only shots the 5D took were of the Sigma.

The Quattros are fixed lens but come in a few different models. I went with the DP1, around 28mm converted, so wide, but not ultra wide. Much like Sigma’s Art-series lenses and complete brand overhaul, the Quattros share that same Batman-esque, minimalist aesthetic, one that has actually grown on me. Many have been quick to level criticism at the camera’s handling, but once you know how to hold them they’re actually much extremely stable (see here).

The slick styling runs into the menus and every aspect of the camera. It really is a stripped down, image-dedicated machine without fluff like video and 10,000 user modes. It has few buttons and many quirks. For example, shutter speed is limited to 30sec, ISO is only really decent between 100-400 before serious noise and the screen's a bit hard to see in direct light. Once you get to grips with everything, though, and the minimalist approach, it’s actually a beautiful and very simple camera to use.

Almost always looking for maximum detail and DOF without diffraction, it was simply a case of setting focus to infinity on screen, manual mode, ISO 100, a 2sec timer and somewhere typically between f8-f11. With those settings locked in, I found I was freed up to spend more time on what matters—subject and composition.

Sigma DP1 - The infamous Remarkables are massive, the size of houses, and a perfect study in composition. ISO 100, f8, 2sec

Sigma DP1 - The infamous Remarkables are massive, the size of houses, and a perfect study in composition. ISO 100, f8, 2sec

This is where the Sigma has improved my photography. I had to work within the constraints of the camera. That forced me to think and to shoot in different and unique ways. It was so refreshing not having to consider what ISO I needed, what f-stop and what lens to grab. All that was removed, allowing me to concentrate on the landscape itself and spend my time poring over possibility,

From the very first image that popped up onto the back of the camera, I knew I was onto something. I don’t know what voodoo is going on in that sensor, how many virgins have been sacrificed putting it together, but it is amazing. Almost like film, I’m dying to get back home and open the files up to 100% just to see the detail gathered—every little pebble, grain and blade of grass. The lack of an AA filter helps, but it’s the fact Sigma has been able to match the lens perfectly to the body that delivers such incredible results. Just look at what they’re doing with those Art lenses of late.

The portability is a thing of beauty. Medium-format cameras weigh a ton, as do DSLRs to an extent. This was like carrying around a feather. My Induro tripod (number six in a long line and the best so far) weighs about five times as much as the Sigma. The two look especially silly combined together, but I like things rock solid. And yes, you can fit the Sigma in your pocket, albeit awkwardly. It just looks a bit… weird. Definitely don’t try it on the subway.

Yes, the tiny Sigma looks very, very silly atop my Induro tripod, but its strength lies in its portability.

Yes, the tiny Sigma looks very, very silly atop my Induro tripod, but its strength lies in its portability.

It’s all so damn light in the backpack. Hell, you don’t really need a full backpack for it. You’d never guess it either, but the Sigma attracts a lot of attention from other photographers, mostly keen to see what the hell that “doorstop-looking thing” on your ballhead is. True story.

Sigma DP1 - The use of a polariser did away with glare and allowed the camera to see right through the crystal clear water surrounding Kangaroo Island. ISO 100, f11, 1/2sec

Sigma DP1 - The use of a polariser did away with glare and allowed the camera to see right through the crystal clear water surrounding Kangaroo Island. ISO 100, f11, 1/2sec

 

PROCESSING

Workflow has been serious issue for most who have tried the Quattros. They key is keeping it consistent. I shoot RAW and JPEG HI together. This allows me to quickly look through the JPEG files back home to see what I want to process before moving into the Sigma RAW editor, Sigma Photo Pro 6.

Much has been written about Sigma Photo Pro, most of it scathing. Many suggest it’s a deal-breaker in terms of speed, but with recent firmware updates I found it fine. You wouldn’t want to process a wedding with it, no, but for landscapes and a small group of files, it’s more than adequate. Speed isn’t blistering, but even with my humble PC it was a non-issue, especially batching.

The software itself is actually quite good. It really makes the most of the RAW files, tampering noise and doing away with the fringing that seems to plague this sensor. The fill-light function in particular is rather magical. Even shadows can be rescued significantly.

For more urban or structured images, I will use the camera’s in-built auto bracketing to shoot +2 0 -1 and then convert this to a 32bit HDR image in PS. It can then be worked on like a RAW file retaining all detail. The clarity slider can be pushed to new extremes in this way. Often, though, I find myself processing a single RAW file, or even using the JPEG if there are no fringing or noise issues that need addressing in SPP.

Sigma DP1 - A handheld shot down by the beach at Cape Forbin. Sometimes I find that when you can't find a comp or something interesting looking ahead, you have to look down. ISO 100, f5.6, 1/100sec

Sigma DP1 - A handheld shot down by the beach at Cape Forbin. Sometimes I find that when you can't find a comp or something interesting looking ahead, you have to look down. ISO 100, f5.6, 1/100sec

From SPP, I shift over to Photoshop for the bulk of processing. Oddly, I’ve found myself doing less processing than I normally would with these files. I’m also adding a lot less sharpening, actually removing it on the web files in many cases. Colours in particular took some getting used to given they’re much more on point. I use the ProPhoto colour space almost exclusively but sometimes delve into the Joseph Holmes DCAM 3 profiles if an extra push is needed.

Note that the dynamic range of the Quattro isn’t amazing compared to the Sony sensors. It tends to be quite harsh with highlights especially, but this is nothing to worry about if, like myself, you are familiar with blending exposures with the use of luminosity masks and the like. It’s a bit of extra effort in post, but given the extra detail and depth offered by the Sigma, I think it’s worth it. It’s also possible to focus stack, but I found at f8, f11, etc. I had no issues with DOF.

Sigma DP1 - You can bet I was hanging onto both tripod and camera real tight hanging out into the open over this drop. ISO 100, f8, 1/3sec

Sigma DP1 - You can bet I was hanging onto both tripod and camera real tight hanging out into the open over this drop. ISO 100, f8, 1/3sec

 

IN THE FIELD

Because it was winter, the weather was really on and off during the trip. Sun, rain, fog, seaspray, mud… the Sigma took it all on and came out unscathed. It does burn through a lot of batteries (Sigma actually supply two in the box), so I took four with me, but really the kit was super simple—the camera, a cloth and two filters (an ND10 and a polariser in 77mm). I just held the latter against the lens when I needed them, but in the future I might grab some with the right thread. I did have a release for the Sigma, but the 2sec timer was so effective I found I didn’t need it, so don’t waste your money. The ND10 was probably overkill given the 30sec exposure limit, so perhaps consider something a little less savage if you’re a fan of long exposures.

Sigma DO1. Yes, the Sigma does handle long exposures up to 30sec (camera limit) fine with no additional noise. ISO 100, f10, 20sec ND10

Sigma DO1. Yes, the Sigma does handle long exposures up to 30sec (camera limit) fine with no additional noise. ISO 100, f10, 20sec ND10

I’d read from the internet elite the Quattros were useless handheld, with poor AF and read times that killed any idea of candid shots. Funnily enough, I ended up using it for all the shots of wildlife/kids (same thing, really) on the island. In decent light the AF is surprisingly fast, and accurate. The colour rendering on the Sigma is also much better than the Canon, and the detail… well. That said, it works brilliantly tone- and detail-wise for the porcelain skin of kids, but your SO might not be too happy when you look at the files and can suddenly see every single little wrinkle and pore on their face.

Sigma DP1 - A candid of my daughter Emilie. I actually found AF to be surprisingly good. ISO 100, f2.8 1/320sec. Here's a look below at 100%. Note the detail in the hair above and below the lips and even specs of sand on her face even at f2.8. This is a straight JPEG from the camera. No additional sharpening added.

Sigma DP1 - A candid of my daughter Emilie. I actually found AF to be surprisingly good. ISO 100, f2.8 1/320sec. Here's a look below at 100%. Note the detail in the hair above and below the lips and even specs of sand on her face even at f2.8. This is a straight JPEG from the camera. No additional sharpening added.

SDIM0590.jpg

 

THE WHY

To wrap up, this is a perfect example of why you can’t always buy into what you read online, especially from keyboard warriors stuck taking pictures of their cats and coffee mugs. Take the advice of those out there using this stuff on a regular basis and be surprised. I know I was. I’m excited about photography again, excited about getting out there and then getting home to check out the tones and detail offered by the DP1.

Sigma DP1 - The Quattro DP1 is especially good in B&W thanks to the tonal graduation offered by the Foveon sensor. ISO 100, f8 10sec

Sigma DP1 - The Quattro DP1 is especially good in B&W thanks to the tonal graduation offered by the Foveon sensor. ISO 100, f8 10sec

It is said a good photographer doesn’t need good gear, but I think you should still be inspired by the equipment you have. The Sigma has provided this inspiration. There’s a lot it won’t do, but what it does do it does amazingly well. I’m actually going to grab a second Quattro soon in the telephoto range (DP3). I think the combination of semi-wide and tele will allow for most subjects. Stay tuned for more on the Super Sigs soon. In the meantime, check out more images from the trip on 500px.

Sigma DP1 - The grass was especially green after recent rains. ISO 100, f16 1/15sec

Sigma DP1 - The grass was especially green after recent rains. ISO 100, f16 1/15sec

Note: If you’re keen on giving the Sigma a go (and for $999 you’d be mad not to), I highly recommend Team Digital in Western Australia. PS: They’re also Phase dealers should you need to forgo a house deposit and grab the medium-format real deal instead.

Note note: I am not sponsored by Sigma (sadly). These are just my honest and truthful impressions of the camera. Don’t buy one. Just like Kangaroo Island, It’s probably best kept a secret.

Sigma DP1 - That water. Second Valley heading towards the Cape. ISO 100, f8, 1/20sec (blended)

Sigma DP1 - That water. Second Valley heading towards the Cape. ISO 100, f8, 1/20sec (blended)

URBAN DECAY

Along with the natural world, I am always interested in the urban environment, and especially that in decay.

These houses are all set for demolition, abandoned now for almost three years near my day job in Sydney's inner west. It's been quite remarkable to see these structures literally break down and the natural world begin to take over again. They have also made for an interesting composition study. I hope to do the interiors soon.

INFOCUS, YET AGAIN

Tada...

I apologise if I harp on about Infocus Australasia a lot, but it's just a fantastic magazine. I've been a traditional magazine editor for almost a decade now, and while I've watched as print mags have withered away to almost nothing in terms of readership and sustainablity, mags like Infocus are the future. The readership is there, the advertising is there and, most importantly, so is the content.

I was lucky enough to have one of my images grace the latest cover again recently. Inside you'll find an extensive feature I put together on dynamic range and panoramas, including many of the tips and techniques I have learned over the last few years.

The image on the cover was taken at a glacier on the South Island of New Zealand, handheld at at a low shutter speed to retain a low, and thus noise-free, ISO. It was absolutely freezing. I actually thought my hands were going to drop off as I was taking this in the rain and sleet. I didn't make it to start of the glacier, but I couldn't resist popping off a few frames of this very Lord of the Rings-style scene on the side of track as everyone just kept walking on by. As they say, it's sometimes the journey, not the destination, that matters.

Grab Infocus today. It's free!

Top 10 Landscape Photographers 2013

This list could be a lot longer, but for now here are my fave 10 landscape photographers in no particular order. I've also updated this a bit since my first list back in 2011.

 

1. Marc Adamus - www.marcadamus.com

For me, Marc is the ultimate landscape photographer. He spends lengthy periods in nature searching out the perfect, off-the-track spots, picks his moment perfectly and then wraps it up in post with cutting-edge techniques. It’s a shame that some people have started up a personal attack on the guy. Jealousy, I can only assume. Marc’s always pushing the boundaries, blowing me away and is my current fave landscape photog. I think the high standard of sharpening around also owes itself to the odd, but awesome Adamus method.

 

2. Zach Schepf - www.zschnepf.com

In a similar ‘hyper-real’ style to Marc, Zack’s work is, in a way, just as impressive. Some of his shots of mountain ranges hurt my brain they are that good. Again, it’s just a case of someone waiting it out for the right moment and being there to pull the trigger, or press the shutter, rather. Zach’s part of the Photo Cascadia team, all of whom are extremely talented photogs. There’s a heap of quality info on their site and blog. Zach’s recent downloadable Luminosity Control tutorial is also a fantastic resource. It goes through some advanced concepts, but is well worth the time. Hopefully it will take my own landscapes to the next level.

 

3. Ken Duncan – www.kenduncan.com

ProbablyAustralia’s most well-known landscape photographer, Ken’s done the time and helped get panoramic landscape photography out there to the world. Ken’s probably the reason I got into landscape photography to begin with, having visited and been amazed by his galleries when I was younger. He’s also a genuinely good human being, a vessel of wisdom and a true-blue philanthropist, or so I’ve heard. What amazed me recently is that all these years he’s been shooting 3D alongside his 2D work waiting for the time when the technology arrives to put out 3D prints. Given what I’ve seen of late, I don’t think that will be too long.

 

4. Christian Fletcher - www.christianfletcher.com.au

Heading a little more to the fine-art side of things, Christian Fletcher is a household name amongst the Australian landscape world, particularly his recent work with Phase One. I find Christian’s work hard to put into words. It’s a very ‘painterly’, organic and natural style that’s quite different from the other photographers I have listed here, falling into the fine art realm. The compositions and framing, too, are quite unique. Plus, it seems like Christian’s got a great sense of humour if you follow his blog for any length of time.

 

5. Matt Lauder – www.mattlauder.com

I really admire NSW photographer Matt Lauder. Working with both film and digital, he’s certainly covered a lot of area, with some really incredible panos. His processing is towards the natural side of things, but what I find really crazy is that he also runs the Rubbing Pixels website, a paid resource full of hours and hours of Photoshop tutorials specifically geared towards landscape photographers. At the current price of $69 for six months, it’s almost criminal how much insider info he’s giving away. His recent aerial work, too, is excellent.

 

6. Mark Gray – www.markgray.com.au

Yet another Aussie panoramic master, Mark Gray’s work tends to be a lot more saturated and colourful than most, which I actually quite like. He’s also got quite a bit from the far south coast of NSW, which seems to be a really untapped region in terms of locations. His processing is great, his work full of life and just generally spot-on. If I could put out work a fraction of his, I would be a happy man.

 

7. Peter Lik – www.lik.com

Peter was one of the 617 pano pioneers here in Australia before eventually taking his galleries to the US. He's the photographer photographer's love to hate, so I guess it's just as well his work isn't marketed to photographers... Regardless of what you think of his work, and in my opinion he does have a lot of great material, he's a marketing machine, carefully cornering the top end of town. Famously, one of his single edition prints sold for a million dollars. My own single edition prints will probably sting you a little less...

 

8. Dylan & Marianne Toh – Toh www.everlookphotography.com

These guys are a husband and wife team, but I'll list them as one. Personally, I think Dylan and Marianne could be the most talented landscape photographers in Australia. Certainly, they have an extremely strong prescene on websites like 500px, a few of their images having been viewed 10s of thousands of times. In particular, their compositional sense is absolutely spot on, and this is often neglected by most. I must admit, having been faced with the same locations, I couldn't resist borrowing one or their compositions or two. 

 

9. Peter Eastway  – www.petereastway.com

Peter's style, to me, is much in line with Christian Fletcher as above. That's no surprise, given both are part of the ND5 group, hold regular workshops together and shoot the same format. Peter also runs Better Photography and has an extensive landscape photography course online that looks pretty comprehensive. He's also been to some truly incredible parts of the globe, from icy continents to the hidden kingdom of Bhutan. Another Aussie great that's given a lot back.

 

10. Kilian Schoenberger – www.kilianschoenberger.de

Kilian is probably the oddball on this list. His style is quite different, fresh and he shoots European landscapes most of us would not be terribly familiar with. Always, however, he features excellent light, and at the end of the day that is what counts most

InFocus Australasia Magazine

For a few months now I've been a contributor to the iPad-only InFocus Australasia Magazine. It's been a great experience and I've had the privilege of interviewing some of the biggest names in Australian photography. Putting together the cover story for each issues has also been interesting, so far detailing everything from the rise of UAVs to current copyright practices. It's provided much food for thought, put it that way.

If you haven't checked out the title yet, definitely grab a copy. It's free! The company behind it is putting in the hard yards making sure it's as polished as possible, and it shows. Coming from a traditional print magazine background I can see that this digital format is the future, videos and multimedia able to be incorporated right there into the magazine itself, making it highly interactive and entertaining. The iPad layout also makes flicking through it a breeze, plus it doesn't take up space like a regular magazine.

You can grab a copy here, each new issue out monthly.

Chris Morrison - Interview

Welcome to our series of photographers who inspire me. This time it’s Chris Morrison, an Australian-based landscape photographer who I originally stumbled upon quite by accident. I was blown away by the detail in his images and careful compositions. It’s rare to find photographers who can so seamlessly switch between film and digital, but Chris is one of them. You only need to look at his monster list of awards to realise the universal appeal of his images, including AIPP ACT 2012 Landscape Photographer of the Year.

What are the greatest/most extreme lengths you’ve gone to for a photo?

Photographing “Alpenglow on the Torres del Paine, Chilean Patagonia”. It may not be in the “Bear Grylls” category of story, but for me it was a big challenge and very rewarding.

To start with, I was about 40,000km and 70 days into a 60,000km, 92 day round the globe expedition – although I love travelling and photographing, you do get tired if you don’t get enough rest and look after yourself.  The trip took months of planning and I was also 60 rolls into my 80 rolls of 617 velvia film – hard to acquire at the best of times, let alone in Patagonia.

It was day 3 of the trek, and I had heard word there was one bed left at Refugio Chileno, the mountain hut I needed to stay at in order to get up to Torres del Paine for any hope of a sunrise shot. Luckily I secured that final spot with some negotiation, got up at 2:30 the following morning, and started the 2.5 hour walk up to the mirador lake. Some people kindly warned me “there may be pumas around this area, but don’t worry, there has only been one recorded death a few decades ago”.

When you’re backpacking completely alone in the dark in the middle of Patagonia with only a few metres of light from your head torch, and only the sound of your footsteps, your mind can certainly conjure up some fear of pumas at the sound of some leaves falling from a tree! I got up to the mirador about 30 minutes before dawn. As it was still very dark, it was difficult to walk over the bouldery terrain as they all had snow on them. I got down to the lake, and set up in an awkward spot where it was neither comfortable to stand or sit. I then had the frustration of seeing the beautiful light begin to appear and try and take light readings, calculate long exposures taking filters into account, and change film, all with freezing fingers.

I shot two rolls of film (only eight shots, and really only four shots, as I bracketed) before the magic light disappeared, but was quietly confident I got the shot. The worst part of it all was having to then wait another three weeks to get home, and a further two weeks, to see the developed shots on the lightbox, and a further two weeks to have the shot drum scanned, before I could process it to the final result I had visualised at the time of capture, over two months prior.  I suppose in hindsight, it was a whole combination of factors which were satisfying to overcome for the final result, as I had eyed off this location for years and managed to capture it as I wanted with only one chance.

 

What’s on your current Australian location ‘hit list’?

This is always a tough question for the landscape photographer! I did a phenomenal trip to the Flinders Ranges last year and came back with many more images than hoped for, sometimes the weather is kind to you and sometimes it’s not – this time it was. As for a hit list, you start making lists, as the more you see, the more you realise you don’t even know about. There are so many beautiful areas in Australia beyond the tourist brochures that the majority of people never know exist, or even bother to explore or notice. To answer the question, however, for a short trip I’d like to see the Great Otway National Park in Victoria, and I’m going there in two weeks. For a medium length trip, I’d love to see much of the Kimberley region, and Karijini National Park. I haven’t been to Western Australia yet, but this place is amazing on all accounts and it’s at the top of my aussie list.  Apart from those two ideas, I plan to explore and capture more of the alpine region (both NSW & Victorian alps), Tasmania and the NSW South Coast.

 

You use both 617 film and also digital. What do you find are the specific challenges associated with each?

617 film: film presents its own challenges, and medium format film multiplies these challenges. 617 format, although shot from roll film, is really large format. As mentioned above, the fact you have four shots on a roll before changing (which takes time) is certainly a burden. When shooting with other photographers who primarily shoot digital, it can be frustrating hearing their shutter go off constantly, while I’m still feeding my film delicately through the holder and rolling it on, taking light readings and doing calculations in my head – you get into mental head space where you really have no idea what’s going on other than the task at hand. Having said this, this is a both a constraint and a blessing. Being limited to four shots means you better make sure that when you press that shutter, you’re photographing something good. Don’t bother with light that’s almost good enough. This forces an extremely selective approach to subject and composition, and has improved the way I see. This approach has benefited me when shooting digital, as I think my ratio of keepers:trash is surprisingly high compared to other photographers. However, when I want to experiment, then digital wins hands down for freedom. On the post-capture end of the challenges, everything continues to be slow in the process. As mentioned above, the process of developing, selecting slides on a (physical) lightbox and having them scanned is expensive and time consuming.  However, when you see a final, well exposed, sharp scan (800mb tiff file) the result is amazing and much more detailed than my 5D2. It really is amazing. Additionally, the colours you obtain from sunrises/sunsets from velvia are almost impossible to replicate with digital. One more thing, carrying all your film in lead film bags when travelling overseas – takes up a lot more room than a few CF cards!

Digital does have its own challenges too, for instance, shooting star trails on film is great as there is no noise from the sensor and no battery – you just leave your shutter open as long as you want (but do have to remember to close before sunrise!).  So that’s one thing the 617 has over my Canon 5D2.  The other challenge, and probably less obvious, is composing 3:1 ratio panoramas. With digital, I find this very difficult when merging photos as you can’t put a frame around it.  With my 617, I can walk around with my ‘finder’ (a small attachment about the size of a miniDV tape) and frame exactly how I want to compose the 3:1 panorama. They are custom made to the lens and the camera by Linhof, and unfortunately cost about $1,000 each (should give an indication to the price of the actual 617 schneider lenses)!  Additionally, as you’re shooting the 3:1 composition with one shot, through one lens from one fixed position, the perspective feels very natural, which is difficult to achieve when merging digital files. Also, I have multiple finders for my 617 camera, so I can instantly choose which composition I want for two different prime lenses, as opposed to having to put both lenses on my DSLR, and having to switch lenses, just to see the difference. They really have made the difference Not having these on a DSLR is a definite frustration for anyone shooting prime lenses, for which there is no solution other than to have a finder.

 

What’s involved with your post-processing workflow, and what tips do you have for readers in regards to post?

This is a very important part of the process.  I take an approach that I remain true to the original scene whilst allowing my creative expression to come through. I also believe in the value of hand-crafting as much of the process as I can, to make the image unique. This means I have few automated actions where I apply the same processing to all my images. I’ll usually start with the raw image or raw scan, and think about where I want to take the image, which means each workflow varies and prevents repetition and all my images looking the same.  The main rule is not to overdo it, and always ask for feedback on the image, as it’s easy to go too far. Another tip is to process an image and come back to it a few hours or a day later, as you may have a different take on it. Your mood can also affect the way you process it. I love to listen to specific music as I find I can lose myself in the creative process and enter a good mental ‘flow’, but this may not work for everyone.

 

What can we expect from you in 2013?

A new set of images released shot during 2012, including some shot on the Phase One IQ160 which are beautiful and detailed. More trips, including an international trip (destination TBA) and possibly an exhibition in conjunction with the Canberra centenary celebrations, among a few other things in between.  I’ve also expressed interest in becoming a landscape category judge at the AIPP state awards late next year.

 

You can check out more of Chris’s work via his website www.chrismorrison.com.au

Tim Wrate - Interview

I discovered Tim through Flickr. He’s one of those annoying photographers who every time he posts a photo you go ‘damn, this guy’s just too good’ and hang up your gear. He has not only an excellent sense of composition, but a love for his surroundings, which I think filters down into his photography. As yet another master medium-format Aussie landscape shooter, he was a shoo-in for our interview series.

1) What’s the most challenging photo you’ve taken to date and why?

The concept of what defines a ’challenging photograph’ is an interesting one. Many of the images in my portfolio were challenging for a number of reasons, including adverse conditions, technically difficulties and challenging journeys to capture the image. I will take the liberty to explain a couple examples below.

 

Technical Difficulties

I principally use a medium-format film camera, a Fuji GX617 with slide film. As a consequence of using slide film, which inherently has a narrower dynamic range than digital camera, I frequently face a myriad of challenges detached but still akin to the challenges faced by a digital photographer.

Technically, the most difficult image I have captured is my image of Sylvia Falls in the Blue Mountains entitled ‘Nature’s Veil’. Shooting a fixed focal length lens has its drawbacks: when a zoom lens can go from narrow to wide, I must use my feel. In this image, I found myself knee deep in cold water with wild rain and fog being blown off the valley causing a range of metering headaches. During my exposure, the ambient light changed about 2 stops (from 4 minutes to 1 minute) combined with the added complexities of reciprocity failure (the film’s exponential inability to record light during long exposures) I was looking at a change in shutter speed from approximately 10 minutes to 2 minutes. I did some quick calculations (read: guessed the exposure) on the fly and released the shutter at six minutes. Thankfully the image turned out. The fog blew off the valley, and I only had one opportunity to capture this scene. Thankfully, it worked.

Challenging Conditions

In regards to challenging conditions, my image of Craig’s Hut entitled ‘Stockman’s Ride’ is near to the top of the list. This was the third time I actually attempted to shoot Craig’s Hut as it has always been high on my list of locations. The first two attempts ended short of the goal due to road closures from snow and flash floods. My third attempt almost ended the same way with the main access route closed for the winter season. Thankfully, with a little bit of initiative, we found our way in via a 4×4 trail. After a bumpy and sometimes treacherous journey we found ourselves at Craig’s Hut just as a snow storm was blowing in off the mountains  As the sun dipped and the incredible light stretched across the scene, the snowfall got harder and harder, and the temperature dropped below freezing. I reached into my bag and found an old plastic shopping bag that I modified into a raincoat for the camera and a umbrella shielded snow from hitting the lens. Despite the conditions, it certainly was a rewarding shoot and I came away with one of my personal favourite images.

Challenging Journey

As far as challenging journeys go, it’s hard to beat my recent 18-hour canyoning expedition that almost ended in disaster. Ever since I saw the incredible images by National Geographic photographer Carsten Peter, I had an insatiable yearning to photograph Claustral Canyon in the Blue Mountains. The day started before dawn and we reached the entry point at 7am to find the entry route closed by private property. Unperturbed we ventured in the style of Bear Grylls, wildly bush-bashing through the eulcytpus forests and abseiling down cliffs. We reached the canyon proper just before lunch and were immediately met with three 10m-15m abseils down waterfalls in the narrow constrictions of the canyon where the ambient light was almost nil.

Once we hit the bottom of the canyon, the landscape was like nothing I’d ever seen; like the canyons of the Antelope slots meets the Amazon. Due to time constraints, we only managed about 30 minutes of shooting before we had to start the exit. This is where the story turns pear shaped. We took a wrong turn at the exit ravine, and soon faced a cliff. Naturally, we thought, we had to climb it. Once at the top, we quickly realised it was a mistake and we were bush-whacked. After consulting the map, we quickly figured out where we had to be, but it involved a 60 metre abseil with 30 metres of rope (we had a 60 metre rope, but when abseiling you double the rope on itself). Thus, we had to abseil half way down the cliff, then pendulum swing across 10 metres at the bottom of the cliff to a tree where we rigged up another abseil. We hit the bottom of the cliff just as the light was fading into darkness and were faced with a 600m vertical climb (over 5km) out of the canyon to the safety of the road, in the dark. The climb was utterly exhausting and the track at times non-existent as our supplies of food and water dwindled. We finally reached the safety of the road at 1am the following day.

… all that for 3 rolls of film. I haven’t had the images scanned yet, but they will be uploaded in due course.

 

2. How did you find the transition to medium-format film photography? What are its advantages/disadvantages?

As I alluded to above, shooting on medium format slide film presents its own set of unique challenges, but for this very reason I find shooting film enriching and more rewarding than shooting on digital. The most apparent challenge I faced when I initially started using medium format film was the inability to review images on-site. The modern convenience of hitting a button and reviewing the image for exposure and composition was lost and I was forced to shoot on instinct. Understanding the concepts of appreciating light, the mechanics of exposure (aperture, ISO and shutter speed), reciprocity and the aesthetics of film became critical to developing this instinct.

The advantages of medium format film photography are obvious. The aesthetics of Velvia 50 (my film of choice) hallmarked by rich saturated colour and crisp contrast are hard to replicate in Photoshop. It all makes sense upon seeing a well exposed transparency on a light table. Furthermore, the image clarity and sharpness are second to none, not to mention the huge file sizes.

It wouldn’t be a fair comparison without mentioning the cost of film photography. It’s expensive, very expensive. The costs are not limited to film and processing costs but also the cost of scanning the image for digital production and display.

Learning medium format film photography certainly was a steep learning curve but I feel that I have crafted an approach to my photography that emphasises the interplay of light and form within a landscape.

 

3. How has your post-processing style developed?

Despite shooting on film, post-processing is still central to my image making. Digital post-production techniques range from simple image improvements at one end of the scale to outlandish and imaginative image alterations that bear no semblance to reality at the other. My approach sits firmly in the former, not the latter.

Many film photographer think it’s ‘cheating’ when you use digital techniques to change an image from its original capture as it augments reality, however it is my opinion that this is not a logical argument. No film-based photograph truly represents reality, so why should photographers limit themselves in a digital world, despite the method of capture? A photographer must possess a combination of skill, patience, knowledge and a vivid imagination to create wonderful vistas and striking landscapes. It’s my opinion that digital post0production allows me more creative bandwidth to transform my observations into my visualisations. I don’t use wholesale digital editing techniques; rather I use my digital post-production to enhance my photographs through minor contrast, colour and exposure alterations.

 

4. What’s on your ‘to shoot’ list?

Like many photographers, my ‘to-shoot’ list is a dynamic list: it grows longer by the day and rarely shrinks as for every location I shoot another two are added. While I have ambitions of photographing some of the world’s most striking landscapes, I want to concentrate on building my portfolio of Australian images first, thus locations in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Tasmania are high on my list.

 

5. What can we expect from you in 2013?

I have a 10-day trip to Cairns booked in March 2013, so (weather and conditions pending) I’d like to come away with an array of images from the Tropical North, including plans to shoot the Great Barrier Reef from the air. Furthermore, I have plans in the works to photograph the Snowy Mountains in winter, so hopefully I get the opportunity to capture some unique images of Australia’s alpine region under snow.

Chip Phillips - Interview

There are some scary, scary good landscape photogs in the US, and right up there is Chip Phillips. I would go as far to say that he is one of the best not only in the US, but the world. I came across Chip through the Photocascadia website, a fantastic resource for landscape photography, and was blown away by his attention to light, detail and composition. Chip has also recently released a series of instructional videos via his website. I would strongly suggest you check them out, as they offer a keen insight and great overview of how he works. Chip was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us:

1. Hi Chip. How did you get started in landscape photography?

I have always been active in the outdoors. I have hiked many miles with my dad in the Alpine Lakes Region of WA State. About 6 or 7 years ago, my wife showed some interest in my dad’s old Pentax film SLR. We got it rebuilt by a local camera shop and I began using it. I was immediately hooked. I had no idea how much creativity and control was involved in “real” photography, as opposed to point and shoot. From there, I just kind of went with it purchasing a digital SLR soon after. Shooting in the outdoors was a natural fit.

 

2. What locations are still high on your ‘to do’ list? What are your personal favourite locations?

I have always wanted to shoot deep in the Southwest and probably will this season. I am also always trying to explore new areas closer to home such as “off the beaten path” spots in the Palouse and Cascades. Rockies as well. I recently backpacked in the Wind River Range of Wyoming and have to say this was a highlight. I can’t wait to go back. I also made it deep into the backcountry in the Tetons and loved that as well. Two of my all-time favorite locations are Banff National Park, and Grand Teton National Park. (And now the Wind River Range as well).

 

3. Is there one particular ‘shot’ you find forever alludes you?

Not necessarily one particular shot, but abstracts in general. I am constantly shooting them, and seldom do I get ones that really speak to me. When I do, I really feel I have accomplished something special.
It is easier for me to shoot the grand landscape. I like to try and challenge myself to look beyond that as often as I can.

 

4. How has the reaction been to your video tutorials? Are there plans for more down the track?

My videos have been a great success – more than I had imagined. I am so glad that so many people are finding them useful. I definitely plan on making more sometime early 2013.

 

5. What can we expect to see from you in the future?

I have many more adventures planned and am constantly shooting, so expect many more images, and more learning material in the future.

 

To see more of Chip’s work, and to download his instructional material, visit www.chipphillipsphotography.com

Brent Pearson - Interview

Brent Pearson is a prolific, Sydney-based photographer that not only takes great images but is extremely generous in what he gives back to the community via photo guides, tutorials and instruction. He’s forever pushing the boundaries and looking at new techniques, including exploring light-painting, off-camera flash and night photography well before the masses. He’s also been lucky enough to travel the world and we caught up with him after he’d just arrived back from the Burning Man festival held annually in the Nevada desert, USA. He was kind enough to answer a few quick questions.

1. Hi Brent. What landscape photographers inspire you?

I really like Christian Fletcher’s work in terms of ‘traditional landscape’. I also love some of the minimalist B&W photography from photographers such as David Fokos and Michael Kenna.

 

2. What locations are still high on your ‘to do’ list? What are your personal favourite locations?

DefinitelyIcelandis high on my ‘to-do’ list. Hopefully I will do that in 2013. Also,South America. I’d love to travel and photograph many places in that continent. I haven’t yet photographed theKimberley… but I will get there one day.

My personal favourites? Namibia is one. Karijini NP is another.

 

3. You’ve said you love photography too much to make it your day-job. Do you think trying to monetize photography takes away from your enjoyment of it?

No, I don’t think it is the act of monetizing photography that takes away from the enjoyment, I think it is about photographing because you have to, not because you want to.

If you are taking assignments to pay the bills, you can’t be too fussy unless you are very, very good at what you do. That inevitably means that you are doing work that you wouldn’t choose to do, and there is a good chance that it doesn’t inspire you artistically… so it becomes ‘work’.

I’ve met quite a few professional photographers who have lost the ‘love’ of photography… and some of them have even said they don’t even take their cameras away with them when they go on holiday because they want a break from it.

When I pick my camera up, it’s always because I want to, not because I have to. Big difference!

 

4. What are some of the specific challenges you’ve found shooting and light-painting landscapes at night?

Specifically, I found understanding the quality of portable lights challenging — even-ness, colour temperature, power, quality. Also, estimating the exposure as you are light painting and getting it right.On top of this, you have to blend it with a well-exposed ambient image.

 

5. What can we expect to see from Brent Bat in the future? Are there any new techniques you’ve recently discovered that have you excited? 

I’ve been getting more and more into off-camera flash lately… and enjoying the control and creativity that strobes can bring to photography. I like to use flash out on location rather than in the studio, and in situations where flash is not typically used. The work I have just done in Burning Man is a good example of that.

 

To see more of Brent’s work, visit his website and blog at http://brentpearsonphotography.com

Colin Bates - Interview

I follow a lot of photographers on popular photo sharing site Flickr. One that has always stood out to me is local photog Colin Bates. For me, its his minimalist B&W images that really stand out. They always look so effortless, so well-composed. Colin has a style you just recognise right away, a signature  if you will, but he’s not just limited to B&W, producing great work across a variety of genres. Here’s what he had to say.

1. What draws you to minimalist black and white photography?

Just the pure simplicity. As the saying goes, sometimes less is more.

 

2. What are three photographic tips or tricks you wish you’d known about five years ago?

- Always make sure your horizon is straight.
- Knowing what ND grad filters are and how to use them.
- How to open Photoshop, let alone use it.

 

3. What photographers do you look up to?

That is a hard one, as there are so many talented photographers out there. You only have to look at Flickr or 500px. But I would say some stand-outs would be:
- Peter Eastway: His landscape work and post-processing really appeals to me, so much that I purchased his masterclass workshop. Money well spent.
- Christian Fletcher: An amazing landscape photographer, and his Photoshop skills are brilliant.
- Brent Pearson: His seascape work is fantastic which inspired me to contact him for a private lesson.
- Andy Brown: A master of the B&W long exposure. His minimalistic work is just breathtaking.
- Ian Bramham: Creates some amazing images in colour and B&W. A class act indeed.

 

4. Where are your favourite spots to shoot and why?

I absolutely love shooting the NSW south coast. This coastline and countryside holds a special place in my heart. I still remember my first sunrise shoot at the Glasshouse rocks in Narooma. It was just before first light when I walked onto Cemetery beach and saw these two huge rocks. I felt a real presence and it still sends a shiver down my spine. As the Blue Mountains is right on my doorstep, this is another place I enjoy taking the time to explore, discover and shoot. It just has so much to offer – from the windblown peaks to the gorgeous waterfalls, canyons and rainforests.

 

5. What can we expect from Colin Bates in 2013?

2013 is shaping up to be a good year with quite a few plans and ideas on the go. Some adventures planned so far are a two-week shooting fest in New Zealand’s South Island, Hill End in the Autumn, as well as a trip to Lightning Ridge and Tasmania.
I am also planning on advancing my skills in natural light portraiture as well as strobist work and upgrading to the Nikon D800E.

 

To see more of Colin’s work, visit his Flickr page here.

Dylan Fox - Interview

Dylan Fox (http://dylanfox.com.au) is one of those local young guns that makes me want to cry. One of his recent images popped up in the Canon Australia FB feed and I was totally blown away. Further investigation showed me a varied and full portfolio, including some really unique comps I hadn’t seen before from popular Western Australian destinations. Check out what Dylan had to say in his own words below.

1) What’s a favourite image you’ve taken and why?

My answer will change on a fairly regular basis. Usually it’s one of my most recent photographs. As my style is tweaked and evolves my views on older photographs will have changed. As with most artists (or at least photographers), I am very fussy with my work and always evaluating pieces, which is I guess is why we progress.
Right now my favourite piece is ‘The Reward (see first image in slideshow above). I had previously captured a very similar composition to this photograph but under very different conditions, but when I arrived back at this beach I couldn’t resist setting up for this frame with the clouds looking like they would provide a colourful sunset and the tidal and swell conditions were right to shoot it again. The shoot was exciting to say the least. A number of times the water rushing through the channel was completely engulfing my tripod as it was set very low and only falling shot of reaching the camera by about 10cm! Not only that, but incoming waves were splashing at me so I had to keep an eye on them to ensure my gear didn’t cop any of them! Then to my surprise, as the colours were peaking lightning started striking regularly, landing right at the end of the channel! I was so stoked with the distant strikes, but when the bright one landed so much closer to shore than any of the others and I captured it, I was thrilled!
I wanted the photograph to be a fairly soft image with the lightning strike interrupting that calm feeling of the photograph. I love to photograph with a ‘no risk, no reward’ attitude, and this photograph in particular I considered a reward.
It was such an awesome night knowing I had captured lightning strikes in a colourful sunset! Lightning shots were something that had eluded me until recently.

 

2) If someone was visiting Western Australia for the first time, what spots would you consider photographic must-dos?
I would always suggest the south-west. You can look in any direction down there and find something amazing. I love visiting the Cape Naturaliste area. The coast is stunning with brilliant rock formations. I have so much shooting I still want to do down there. Every time I visit the area I go down with one particular shot in mind that I want to capture, so there will be many trips south in the future! You can also head further south and visit Esperance and other towns. I am yet to get there but cannot wait to make the drive down!

 

3) How does your post processing differ from other landscape photographers?
I really don’t know… I don’t really read or research all that much when it comes to post-processing techniques, so I don’t really know what a lot of other photographers do. If there is a certain look or feeling to a photograph that I want to achieve I will often just work out a way to do it on my own. There are so many different ways to go about creating similar effects. If there is a technique that I really want to know I am not afraid to ask a photographer who does it well, and more often than not they will tell you how they do it or point you in the right direction. I would simply suggest trial and error. If you know your way around Photoshop and know what you want to achieve, you will often be able to achieve that result with a bit of patience.

 

4) How successful have you been monetizing your photography, and what advice would you give to others looking to do the same?
I am quite proud to call myself a professional photographer now. It was a title I held off on. I am a full-time photographer keeping busy with shooting landscapes, continuing to build my print sale figures on a yearly basis, and picking up contract work. The dream is to one day not have to take on the contract work and only shoot what I love. I have a commerce degree with majors in marketing and advertising, so I am going about things in regard to my landscape work in a very strict manner, which I guess could hurt the pocket in the short-term, but I am making these decisions for long-term gain.

 

5) What can we expect from you in 2013?
I am excited about 2013. So far it has been a great year. I have a list of goals that I want to get through. I have a trip to the States in June/July and hope to get a number of trips in around Western Australia. I am wrapped with the direction my photography is taking and really can’t wait to get out in search of my next shot! If I can add 12 or more photographs to my collection that I am proud of I will be thrilled. I plan on doing a bit more night photography this year as well. I have a number of photographs in my head; just waiting on the right conditions for some of them. Some of them have to wait until I get to the US.

 

Be sure to check out more of Dylan’s extraordinary work via his website.