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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Grant and Eliza's wedding

Anyone who has been following this blog or who knows me personally understands that unlike many photographers I actually enjoy photographing weddings. Some weddings are an absolute pleasure to photograph. While I feel that way about most weddings I admit, there are some you really enjoy. Such was the case with Grant and Eliza's wedding over the weekend. Grant works for Camera Action in Melbourne and so he knows me as the editor of Better Pictures, the 'Camera House workshops guy' and of course as a photographer I suppose. Because Grant works in the photography industry, he understands the value of good photography at a wedding and the time it takes to create great images. So together, he and Eliza planned their day so that we could have the time necessary to produce successful wedding images from their day. Eliza looked absolutely beautiful. More than that, she is wonderfully photogenic. If there is one thing I have learned over the years its that beautiful and photogenic do not always mean the same thing. But Eliza was the perfect combination of both on her wedding day. She looked so lovely and her ability to pose with confidence, elegance and poise made my job so much easier. Grant was also enjoying himself too and had no problem either smiling, hamming it up or posing for his photographs. I made sure he got plenty of make out opportunities for the photos...the grooms seem to like that...
I make sure to have as much fun as possible at every wedding. The last thing a couple want on their wedding day is a wet blanket. A wet blanket might take great photographs but he will also be remembered for spoiling a good portion of their day. I like to make sure that to the best of my ability we are all having fun.I was accompanied on this shoot by friend and fellow photographer, Richard Annable (my regular comedy sidekick) and my nephew's girlfriend, Karen, whose newly rediscovered love for photography, helpful disposition and thoroughly cheeky personality made her company an absolute pleasure. She learned how to be a Voice Activated Light Stand (VALS) by holding my Nikon SB800 and Richard did his usual great job of assisting and second shooting. Together we 'Three Amigos' laughed and photographed our way through the day. And when we finished the wedding, we drove to my place, ordered a pizza and watched...the Three Amigos.
All in all, what a way to spend a day....
Congratulations Grant and Eliza. Thanks for honouring me with the pleasure of photographing your wedding day!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah campaign

Eynesbury is a new estate being established out at Melton, a satellite city west of Melbourne. The face of Eynesbury is Gold Logie award winning actor, John Wood and I was  honoured to be able to spend the day with him and David Ketels, a long time client and friend, taking photographs ofhim using Eyensbury's unique resource - recycled water.
The basic idea of the campaign is to let people know that while Melbourne is being struck with heavy water usage restrictions, those who live at Eynesbury can use as much recycled water as they like. So we spent the day photographing John washing his car, watering the garden - all the things you can't do freely in Melbourne. It was had such an impact on me that even I felt like washing my car - and I never feel like washing my car. Its a great idea, but I must admit that I felt like calling it the Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah campaign. 
Working with David is always fun, but I had never photographed John Wood before. John is a legend in the Australian television industry but working with him was an absolute pleasure. When we finally stopped and shared a beer and a late lunch together I had forgotten that I was working with such a well known actor. He is very laid back and easy to work with. I have worked with many celebrities over the years and admittedly some are easier to work with than others. Working with John was a pleasure. I hope I get to do it again.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Come on, Feel the Noise

With the D700, you can only feel the noise because there's one thing for certain - you sure can't see it. Sunday night saw me with my son and a group of friends in Fitzroy Gardens listening to the swing sounds of The Shuffle Club and watching people bop to their jive. They are a great little four piece and they had the place a-jumpin' ! 
Seeing as it was getting a little dark, I thought I would once again wind up my Nikon D700 and remind myself just how awesome this thing is with regard to noise.
This image of saxophonist Ash Gaudion was taken at 6400 ISO and the lack of noise is amazing. If you want to see just how good it is, the file from the camera is available at full size just by clicking on it. The Nikon D700's ability to photograph at high ISO's without degrading the image with excessive noise is incredible. It allows the photographer so much more flexibility, especially if much of his work is taken in available light. I have found this feature a lifesaver for me at weddings particularly. I don't have to use the tripod as much anymore and I am able to shoot faster and lighter as a result. At a wedding, this is paramount if you are to get the images as they happen. I can only imagine what the good people at Nikon will do with image quality next....

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Nikon D90 walk.

When Nikon released the D90, I was asked by Melbourne photo retailer Camera Action to run what they termed as "Nikon D90" Walk. It was offered to customers who had purchased the D90. Basically it was me, a couple of models, some of the Camera Action staff and a good walk around Melbourne with their D90's. It was fun! Using the D90's video capability, Camera Action star, the omniscient Adam Moore put this video together.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Other Passion

What ever you do, don't ever give me a microphone and a backing track!

And please, be kind with your comments...I am only human after all..

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Lunar Festival in Footscray

This past Sunday I spent the day with my old friend and fellow photographer, Bill Fagan, seen here at right. He looks pretty serious but he's one of the funniest guys you'll meet.Bill and I have been friends since I was about 15. He taught me the ropes - shutter speeds, apertures - and an undying love for all things Nikon. At the time he owned a Ricoh TLS Singlex and I owned a Minolta SRT 101. Nonetheless we both longed for the day we'd be shooting using the latest Nikons. Well, its been thirty years, but there we were on Sunday, using the latest Nikons! Ah, life is complete...Together we spent a fair part of the day photographing a Vietnamese Lunar Festival in Footscray. He was giving his new D700 its first real workout and I was just along for the ride and a few photographic opportunities.I believe its important for photographers to just get out there and shoot something every now and again. In fact, more than every now and again! The passion of photography needs to be kept alive by the actual DOING of it, and the diversification of your own vision. Anyone can become a master of one thing...and then probably become sick and tired of it if their mind is a constantly creative one. I believe that even if you desire to pursue only one arena of photography, it is wise to expand your vision in that arena by stepping outside your circle every now and again.However, the chance to photograph culture, people, colour and events is one of the reasons I enjoy travel photography so much. I have been to marketplaces and cultural events in many places all over the world.For this festival I only needed to sit as the passenger in Bill's car and listen to Led Zeppelin for a little while before we arrived in Footscray. It was an enjoyable day, and it was good to get out and shoot with Bill again. We haven't actually done that together in years! In fact, I can't remember when the last time was. Bill, we're gonna have to fix that mate! Here I am, getting underneath it all again.Thanks for the photograph Bill! Photo:Bill Fagan

Friday, January 09, 2009

You Never Really Know

Some time ago I started up a Flickr site. Its another way for people to see your images and hey, its a bit of fun. But there is much to learn from it also. Because your images are exposed to many thousands of people, you receive encouraging comments and critiques which can bolster your confidence in your abilities and also help you to expand your vision. You also learn what people like and the kinds of images which impress.
Take this image for instance. I uploaded it earlier this year to the Flickr site with a few other images from the wedding. For me it was a moment's inspiration, an image that took only a minute to establish and shoot and about the same to post process. And yet of all the images in my Flickr collection, it is the most popular. Personally, I think I have far more artistic images in my collection and yet for some reason this image has become my most popular, with over 8500 views. Perhaps it is the simplicity of the image that appeals. Perhaps it is its romance. Perhaps its the bokeh. I must admit, I couldn't tell you. I just look at the comments beneath it and learn. I know one thing though...I will have to do it again at my next wedding!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Apparently We are All Too Ugly

People pay me to take their photographs. They pay me well. And I don't object to that at all. In fact, I kinda rely upon it. But it appears that the comment about a prophet never being honoured in his home town also appears to apply to photographers. I feel for the prophets. Don't get me wrong. They always seem to get the bad end of the stick. But we photographers don't always get it easy either. Turn up with a camera to barbecue and watch as everyone starts running like a scene from an old Godzilla movie.
When a photographer sees beautiful light he just can't help himself. And when the golden light of afternoon falls on a landscape, you have two options. You can photograph the landscape, or put people in it. Being the people photographer that I am, I selected box number two. In retrospect, I think the landscape would have been easier. You see, trying to photograph friends and family at a recent barbecue was more like trying to pull teeth - especially when it came to my two nephews' girlfriends, Nicky and Karen. Karen is seen above. Nicky's portrait is the one at the bottom of this post. Now, you would think that the offer of a free portrait by a fairly well known and respected photographer would interest some people. Nope. Apparently everyone is ugly in this world! Or maybe just everyone at this get-together. That is at least what I learned over the weekend.You see, Sunday found me at my sisters family home in Yarra Glen. This is my sister. She has to be the Grooviest Granny around. She loves Velvet Revolver, AudioSlave, Creed and well..anything that has a wall of good noise coming out of it. She is almost 50, but you can hear her car coming from a mile off - and its not the engine, its the subwoofer.And despite this, she loves the peace and quiet of her 15 acre property in Yarra Glen. It is a lovely property and she and her husband were having a going away get-together for two of her friends. My son Nathan and I had just returned from camping near Jamieson and needed a shower real bad. I mean, real bad. But, hey, we stayed on for the free food and drinks. Why not? Well, seriously, I love my family dearly and I never pass up the chance to catch up with my parents, my sisters and their husbands and my nieces and nephews. I do have a wonderful family. Nonetheless, I was informed that I needed to earn my keep. So, my part was to play the guitar around the fire later. By so doing I would earn my potato salad and meat. Maybe even a beer. No worries. Can do.
But the light began to warm and the sun began to soften and descend. Being the people photographer that I am I saw opportunities that I just could not pass up.
Quickly I gathered up my niece Jade and her husband Dave and their baby, Max. I haven't had a chance to photograph Max yet, so here was my moment. And there was no argument from Jade and her husband! they were great, as was little Max. Generally, I agree with WC Fields. 'Never work with children or animals'. I don't do kids. As much as I love them, I don't think I could be a child photographer. I prefer to play with them. But Max is my niece's son and the light of my sister's eyes. And he is so cute! So it was all about the love. Little Max just sat in the sunlight and smiled for his Great Uncle...and I am a great uncle!
Ok. Now I was on a roll. I began suggesting to friends that they might like to have some photographs taken. The light was lovely! 
In typical self-deprecation, I found the women were just not interested. Apparently they are all too ugly. I am sure their husbands didn't think so. As for me, I thought they looked just fine. They were all dressed nicely. They had make up on. And the light...was lovely. I managed to coerce a few of them to sit in the grass and let the setting sun rimlight their faces. But it wasn't easy.
Then came the hardest part. Without doubt, two of the prettiest girls at this party were Karen and Nicky. I knew that my nephews did not have any real photographs of them so I thought I would once again reinstate my Hero Uncle status by taking photographs of them. But it was not the easiest thing to do. Apparently, they are ugly too. And their clothes were wrong. Their hair was a mess as well. I don't know what mirror they are looking into, but I thought they were beautiful. So do my nephews of course.
Using my well practiced arts of coercion and blackmail, I managed to convince them to follow me into the fields and take some portraits of them. They sat, followed instructions and did what they could do to cooperate. They are both lovely, sweet girls and we get along very well. Of course, they both still believe that they are too unattractive to be photographed, but what do they know? They are young girls after all. In twenty to thirty years time they will look at these images and wish to be that ugly again.
Jared and Karen

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Five Minute Photographer Meetup

The crazy gang at my photography tutorials website, Five Minute Photographer, have been asking me to come along for photography meet-ups for a while now. With the site growing and people joining up regularly, it is becoming quite a creative little community. Not that little actually! And getting together is a great idea. I wish it was mine, but alas it has been the brain child of Richard Annable, who has now invited me to no less than four of these things. I claim ignorance and say that I was never invited, but my lack of attendance so far has actually been a simple case of bad timing. However, when my friend Richard organised an end of year meetup for the Melbourne contingent of the site, I simply had to be there. He even made it happen down my end of the woods so it would be easier for me to attend. Mordialloc Pier, 5:30 pm. Richard has been a great asset to the site and has even contributed video tutorials.
When I arrived the light was pretty average and the wind was a killer. So we had something to eat. My son Nathan arrived from his day working at Camera Action. We had some photography fun at his expense but the light was still bad and the wind was a killer.
So we waited for more people to arrive and then...we had something to eat. One member of the site, Charmaine, had traveled from Queensland to attend! So, I was getting a little concerned. Its a long way to come just for some fish and chips on the beach with a few lunatics from Five Minute Photographer.

The hard part about this for me is that I am looked upon to lead by example. In my role as the teacher and mentor at Five Minute Photographer, I suppose it falls to me to get things going and to make images happen. I eagerly looked for opportunities and began shooting, making some time exposures of the waves as they moved around the fixtures and the pier. There is always something to create and photograph if you put your mind into gear.
But then, we started to get some interesting light. The off camera flash shots were also starting up and we all got into the zone. As the sun plunged toward the horizon the sky became orange and the clouds were amazing. The fishermen at the end of the pier were 'happy' to pose for photographs and we all had a great time. It was only after the sun had set that we decided on a celebratory coffee together.

I look forward to the next meet-up gang! Lets do it again!

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller