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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Paul and Francesca's wedding

After speaking at the Understanding Your Camera workshop yesterday morning, my son Nathan and I had to head off to photograph Paul and Francesca's wedding. It was great to work with my son, and he worked very hard. His assistance in simply carrying gear, holding flashguns, getting lenses and second shooting was invaluable. He has quite an eye himself and I think he could become quite an accomplished photographer in his own right. We have already started a thread at the forum on my photography tutorials website to see who outshot who yesterday!

After their ceremony, Paul and Francesca had chosen The Silk Road, an exclusive bar in Collins Street for their unique shoot location. Never having been there before, I immediately went around scouting for light and locations. I realised quickly that this is a stunning location....and I had an hour to work with it. I decided on my locations and shots both inside and out and away we went.

Thanks Paul and Francesca for the honour of being selected to photograph your wedding. You and your families treated Nathan and I with such kindness and friendliness that we were made to feel as if we were guests ourselves. Here are a few images from your wedding....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Creative Flash Photography Workshop

Well, another Saturday, another workshop. But don't think for one moment that I am tired of doing them. No way Jose! I absolutely love running a photography workshop of any kind. It gives me the opportunity to combine two passions simultaneously - my love for photography and my desire to teach. 
Saturday's workshop at Abbottsford Convent was the Creative Flash Photography workshop. Because of the sheer logistics of the off camera flash element, it can be the most difficult workshop that I run. However, it all went very smoothly, and the assistance of friend and fellow Five Minute Photographer colleague, Berk McGowan, everybody was well catered for. Thanks for your help Berk! 
I don't get alot of opportunities to shoot at my workshops so the image of our model, Soph above was one of the few I managed. It was taken from a part of the day during which I was teaching the art of 'invisible flash', in other words, using the flash to gently supplement the ambient light rather than obviously overtake it. This was something that nearly all in the group had asked about during our morning introductions.
Thanks to all for attending and for Croydon Camera House for once again being such wonderful sponsors.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Saturday's workshop

Once again, I found myself teaching another group at my Creative People Photography workshop on Saturday at Abbottsford Convent. It was another great group of enthusiastic photographers who wanted to take their photography another step forward. My son Nathan and my nephew Jesse also attended. Jesse has a keen photographic eye but has not explored photography seriously as a pastime as yet. However, the chance to photograph a lovely young model might have given him some further encouragement! He actually came in handy while we waited a few minutes for Lisa, our model, to arrive. While she was stuck in an unexpected traffic jam, Jesse became my model for a few minutes. Being the handsome young lad that he is, I thought I could at least do some instructing while we waited for poor Lisa to arrive.
But arrive she did, and she was great. Thanks Lisa! I look forward to working with you again soon.
Incidentally, there is a Creative Flash Photography workshop planned for this coming weekend!

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Mum Goes Pro

My Mum and her new Nikon D60
Well, that is something I never thought I would see - My Mum with a Nikon SLR in her hands. But I will tell you this much. She loves it! My Dad, Nathan and I gave it to her as part of their recent wedding anniversary celebrations. The following day, my Mum and I spent an afternoon together doing something I never thought I would - walking around Queenscliffe seeing everything and taking pictures. 

Having a DSLR in her hands has given my Mum new eyes. Suddenly she sees the shadows that form on the footpath as the afternoon light sprays through a picket fence. She notices textures and shapes and even the drip forming on a tap in a park. Yes, she has found photography in the truest sense. My Mum has always enjoyed photography but never felt that she could do it 'properly' like her son does. But the 'point and shoot' ease with which she takes pictures now has made the entire process so much easier and so much more enjoyable.

There was a time when photography was difficult. Those were the days when cameras required that you knew what you were doing, that you understood metering - both incident and reflected and knew how to set the camera to match. They were the times when you needed to count the cost of film and processing and thus each image was a financial investment and needed to be worth the materials, let alone the effort.

However, digital has changed everything about that. Cameras are designed with such automation that nowadays you can’t even capture your subject with so much as a grimace. The smile technology makes sure of that. Exposure is automated in more ways than we ever thought possible and if you still don’t get it right, you can delete the image and take it again without it costing a single cent. So far, so good.

From my perspective, this also has its distinct disadvantages. The foremost among these in my mind is the lack of understanding that is perceived by the masses as no longer being required. I mean, after all, if the camera is going to do everything for you, why learn anything? However, it is that kind of thinking that not only prevents many gifted photographers from improving and reaching their full potential but also deprives them at core level of the absolute joy of having created the image and controlled its creation at as many levels as possible. That part of the joy of photography should never be overstated.

Conversely, as I say, my mum has just become the proud owner of a new Nikon D60. Once upon a time a Nikon SLR camera would have frightened her beyond thinking. But you see, its all different now. The camera is a point and shoot DSLR with the ability to remove all the confusion of exposure and focus and simply allow her the fun of taking photographs. She is allowed to see and to shoot without any problems of cost or the frustrations of not completely understanding the technology. In fact the technology exists for the sole reason that she doesn’t have to understand it.

Will my Mum ever get past using the camera on the ‘little green camera on the dial’ setting? I doubt it. And if she does, it will be slowly and with limitations. This is not to say that my Mum is unintelligent. In fact the opposite is true. But there are some things you perhaps don’t want to learn at her age. I might have to give her a complimentary membership to my photography tutorials website! In the meantime though, she is enjoying her new found love of photography immensely.

And that is good enough for me.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A snapshot, a rite of passage

There are only a couple of images on this blog that have not been taken by me. 
This is one of them. It was taken by John, the bartender.

"Now John at the bar is a friend of mine
And he gets me my drinks for free.." 
Billy Joel

The snapshot above is of me and my son at the Chelsea Hotel. Last night we went out for our first official beer together. It was his 18th birthday yesterday and ordering two beers at the bar was a natural rite of passage. 

So while this is only a snapshot and not in any way creative, it is more important to me as a photograph than perhaps anything that has appeared on this blog at any time. It is a moment in time captured to recall the precious relationship I have with my best friend - my son Nathan. He is the blessing in my life that no words of gratitude can possibly convey. So this photograph represents something more precious than my love of photography. It is probably the most important photograph this blog has ever contained. It is a snapshot of my son and me having our first beer at the bar. It is a photograph of a simple rite of passage that represents the passage of time, the blessing of our friendship and the hope we share for our future as father and son.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I shot a model - and fed an elephant.

Yesterday was an interesting day. Yes, I shot a model, and fed an elephant. Allow me to explain. For some time now I have enjoyed working with a Melbourne model named Soph. She and I first worked together when I needed a model for the cover of Total Image magazine. She has often worked as the model for my photography workshops and I would be happy to work with her for a number of other projects as well. She is a great poser!
She asked me some time ago to help her with some corporate fashion photographs and I was more than happy to oblige. We just needed to work out a time, which, between her schedule and mine was not easy to do. But yesterday morning, it all came together. I picked her up from her home and we drove to the ruins in Sunbury where I photographed Samantha Bennett recently with my old friend, Glynn Lavender. Whereas corporate fashion is often photographed in corporate surroundings, I wanted something different. Hence, the return to these ruins. Soph was a trooper, risking her ankles and her shoes on these broken bluestone bricks at her feet and even standing in the archway being blown about by the wind knowing that behind her was only a sheer drop and a jagged end to her fall. But, we had fun. 
After that, I had to get to Eynesbury Estate for a wedding I had to photograph. This time however I was not the official wedding photographer, but rather a commercial photographer capturing candids of an actual wedding in process for Eynesbury's own wedding advertising. The professional covering the wedding allowed me a few minutes to set up this photograph so I could incorporate the wedding cars, the couple and the Eynesbury main building for an advertising photograph. I had a about three minutes to do it, so I quickly had the cars put in place, set up my off camera Nikon CLS flash system and took a few photographs.
I had been informed that the real reason Eynesbury had asked me to come to this wedding was because there was going to be an elephant here. Somehow, some way, an elephant had been organised for the bride and groom to feed on the wedding day. Because the estate boasts a lot of old National Trust fences etc, the elephant was not allowed to leave the truck. Nevertheless, the bride and groom got to feed it, have their photo taken with it and get a few blasts of elephant snot in the process! I mean, who wouldn't want elephant snot stains on her wedding dress? It makes perfect sense to me! After seeing me try to get photographs of the elephant and the bride and groom, one of the guests asked if I wanted a photograph taken feeding the elephant. Hey! Why not? I mean, I have seen some bizarre things at weddings, but this was entirely new!

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller