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Friday, November 28, 2008

One Night at the Walkley Awards

I was honoured to be invited by Nikon Australia to attend the Walkley Awards last night. The Walkley Awards honour the work of Australia's journalists in all fields of the Australian media.The room was filled with renowned journalists, presenters and TV personalities.
Photographer David Gray was awarded the Nikon-Walkley Press Photographer of the Year Award. Gray went to extensive lengths to photograph and capture the pain and devastation after the crippling earthquake in China's Sichuan Province, contrasting that with some incredible images of the more triumphant moments during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Daily Telegraph's photographer Phil Hillyard won the Walkley Award for Sports photography, and Craig Greenhill, also from The Daily Telegraph, won the award for Daily Life/Feature photography. I spoke briefly with a very gracious Craig Greenhill after I saw him being photographed with his Walkley by a fellow Walkley winner. I simply walked over and asked which compact a Walkley Award winning photographer uses to take his snaps with! It turns out he had only just purchased his Leica D-Lux 2 that day.We spoke about his love for the Nikon D700, which of course is my new baby, and the Nikon D3 - which is a camera built more with the photojournalist in mind. He has fine taste in cameras even though he has to use Canons...
It was an interesting evening for me, I must admit. You see, it was April 9th, 1980 when I walked into Fletchers Fotographics, 59 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, to enquire about a secondhand zoom lens for my pride and joy - my Minolta SRT 101. It was my 17th birthday. I didn't buy the lens, but I was given a job. Its funny where life takes you. One week you are leading a photo tour through Patagonia and the next you're in a suit at the invitation of Nikon Australia to attend the Walkley Awards as a fellow journalist.
Its an interesting ride...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Another Wedding Workshop Completed!

Well, another Saturday, another wedding....workshop. Yes, I was once again to be found wearing my teaching hat on Saturday, running a wedding photography workshop at Abbottsford Convent on behalf Camera Action Camera House.
I was very happy to work once again with the lovely Elise, who in real style turned up to play the part of the bride while being in real life 6 months pregnant.The last wedding workshop she brought along her husband, but he was not available this time unfortunately. So this time our expecting mother had to pose with the handsome Shyam, who brought his wife along too. Yes, it was a regular Peyton Place at the convent yesterday.If there is one thing I find incredibly rewarding, it has to be seeing the little lights go on in people's eyes, knowing that at that moment I have made a difference to the way they will be enjoying their photography from then on. Sure, I like getting paid for my work and I am paid fairly well to do it, but the real rewards are far more personal.For instance, an email just came in from one of yesterday's attendees. It reads:
"Just wanted to say thankyou once more for a great day at your workshop.
I had a really great time and did learn heaps, looking forward to future workshops with you."
Yep, I do enjoy my work - for many reasons, and emails such as this are at the top of my reasons list.
For my photography tutorials website, click here.
For more information on upcoming workshops, click here or here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back from Patagonia

Cerro Torre at Sunrise
It was arduous.
It was exhausting.
it was uncomfortable.
It was freezing cold.
It was dangerous.
It was perhaps among the most exhilarating things I have ever done.
Some time ago, Darran Leal from SafariWise asked me to lead a photo tour through Patagonia. Ever since I saw Galen Rowell's magical images of this place I have wanted to do so. The answer was an obvious yes.So, I loaded myself up with over a dozen large Sandisk Extreme III and Extreme IV cards so there would be nothing I would miss. I chose not to bring a back up hard drive or laptop as there was already a space and weight issue to contend with. After all, when I travelled in years prior I always carried film. I didn't have back ups or back ups of back ups. Just the film. These days, film is digital and probably more reliable. A dozen large 8 gig Sandisk cards would prove to be all I needed.
I also took with me two new Tamron lenses, thanks to the good people at Tamron in Japan and Australia. I took the new Tamron 70-200 f2.8 and the revolutionary Tamron 18-270 VC lens at the request of Tamron Japan. This incredible lens became permanently fixed to my D200 body, while I concentrated most of my photography efforts using my new Nikon D700.
Photographing Patagonia is no easy trip. For mountains like Fitzroy and Cerro Torre, you need to camp and hike in if you want to catch them at sunrise. The nights are cold in Spring, and the weather during the day is always unpredictable. As I was leading the photo tour it fell to me to wake at 4:30 each day and check for a starry sky. If I could see stars it meant getting out of my sleeping bag, out of the tent, waking the others and hiking to our vantage point to photograph the sunrise on these mountains. There was no driving up to the parking lot for these babies. But when the sun rises on Cerro Torre, it is nothing like you will ever see anywhere else. It is among the most spectacular things I have ever seen.

We were very fortunate in fact. The day we arrived to see Fitzroy, the clouds cleared and we were able to photograph its magnificence unhindered for hours.For almost two weeks prior to our arrival, no one had seen this spectacular peak because of the almost constant cloud cover. The same thing happened with Cerro Torre and Torres Del Paine.Speaking of which, we crossed the border into Chile to witness the unbelievable reality that is Torres Del Paine. These mountains have to be seen to be believed. They are like no other mountains I have ever seen. The landscape that surrounds these mountains is also spectacular, but requires the photographer to be patient and to endure the constant winds for which these regions are known.
It was an extreme version of these winds which had us pinned to an incline for several minutes at Salto Grande, a waterfall in the Torres Del Paine National Park. Freak gusts of wind are not uncommon but the ones we experienced at Salto Grande were incredible.So much so I could very easily have been killed by the gusts that pinned me and a couple of others on the tour to the cliff wall for several minutes. Had I been standing on the edge of the waterfall as indeed I had been only two minutes earlier this blog would not ever have been updated.For my work I find myself photographing people more than any other subject. This trip was about mountains, waterfalls, landscapes and wildlife. It was a real change for me, evern s as a photographic tour. No doubt I will find a whole bunch of new images to use for tutorial videos in my photography tutorials website, Five Minute Photographer.
Photographing Patagonia was without doubt the most demanding photo tour I have ever had the pleasure to run. It was exhausting and difficult. But it was exhilarating...incredibly exhilarating.

And I would do it again in a heartbeat.>

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Status confirmed...


My good friend Scott recently recently returned from Tasmania and brought with him a gift that confirms my official photographer status.Behold...my Cup.
Now, I do not know how I have managed to maintain this rather ridiculous title, but I remember it being given to me by the Melbourne Herald Sun after that newspaper ran an article by me in a photography supplement inside.
Since then I have been known as "the Guru".
Ok..You have all had your little fun....

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller