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Thursday, July 30, 2009

High ISO, Low Noise on the Nikon D700

While it is an established fact and yesterday's news, I still appreciate the Nikon D700 for its low noise capabilities at High ISO's. I find myself constantly placed in situations where I just ramp up the ISO and shoot away, whereas once I would have to consider something like that very carefully - or use additional lighting.

The other night I was in at ANZ headquarters in Melbourne to photograph a very high level function. Its nice to be able to take fees from a bank every now and again! My job was to be as unobtrusive as possible and photograph the attendees as they naturally interacted in the room. I tried using and mixing flash for a few of the images but it just wasn't working - photographically or logistically. So I switched to 3200 ISO and just used the room lights. Suddenly the images became so much more realistic and pleasing. For the rest of the night that is what I did.

Click on the image for an idea of how well the D700 performed. I love it. it!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Today's Understanding Your DSLR workshop

Today's workshop was the Understanding Your DSLR workshop, which is one of the more difficult to run. This is a workshop that enables photographers to move forward in giant leaps with their photography as it establishes the necessary understanding of the basics of exposure and composition. Without this understanding, photographers flounder in a sea of confusion, never knowing how the images they desire are actually created. So you have to be Johnny on the Spot for the group as a whole and for each and every attendee as an individual. It is a very tiring but very rewarding task.

Natasha Humble was once again our model for this workshop, bringing her usual flair for humour and good spirits along with her pretty face and captivating eyes. She is perfect for our workshops in that she provides more than just physical attractiveness. She is a lot of fun and extremely patient. Today, she was even more generous, giving of her time on her birthday.

My old buddy Richard Annable was also there, along with his girlfriend, Tamara. My son, Nathan was also co-instructor today, a role he filled so very well that even he commented on the satisfaction it brought him. I look forward to working with him on many workshops in the future. He is fast becoming a very competent shooter in his own right. It also looks like he is going to be a very understanding and patient teacher also.

My good friend, Glynn Lavender, should receive all the accolades for his job as the organiser. As I always say - he is the brains and I am the bling...but then I believe he is pretty bling too!
For more information on our upcoming Ultimate Creative Photography Workshops weekend, click here. This is something you won't want to miss!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The end result...

It is interesting to see what clients do with your images sometimes. You may remember the shoot that I did in the city for Australian Traveller magazine...? Well this is the cover (above) that they have produced.
I like it, actually.
The desaturation of the colours (except for the model) was apparently decided upon so that the cover lines would stand out.
Again, I like it.
If you want to know the shoot I am referring here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A very proud father...

Anyone who knows me knows that my son and I share a very special relationship. It is unique to us, I believe. We are friends more than anything, and yet we understand the Father/Son relationship that must remain if we are to continue being who we are. I credit him with the maturity he has always had to know the difference and to respect its necessity.
When Nathan was nine years old I bought him his first SLR camera. It was a Nikon FE, the kind of camera I would have loved to have owned when I was twice that age. Even older. I picked it up at a camera swap meet for only $40. You should have seen him walking the street so proudly with his Nikon around his neck. He was just like his Dad.
Now, of course, he is 18. Nikon recently gave him a Nikon D90 in gratitude for the work he did in helping to launch the Nikon D5000 for Camera Action. With this action, I believe, Nathan will begin to forge his own style and his own reputation as a photographer.
He has just started his own blog. Click here to have a look at it. He has a wonderful eye, and a great vision for his future as an artist. I have always been very proud of the person my son has become and that can only swell to even great er volume. I know now, however, that I will also be proud of his vision and his art.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Amanda and Tom's wedding

The first time I met Amanda I was sitting in a cafe in Lygon Street. I had never laid eyes on this young woman who had kindly asked me to set aside her wedding date so that I could be her photographer. The moment she walked into the cafe I felt her energy. She had told me to look for a woman with a peacock on her dress. When we met I asked about a peacock I couldn't actually see. Laughing, she broke into a shimmy in the middle of the cafe so that I could see the peacock design on her dress more evidently. She still had to point it out, but I knew at that moment that this was a wedding I wanted to capture. Even the conversation that ensued made me look so very forward to her wedding day. When it finally arrived I was so happy to be there.

Amanda and Tom decided to marry at London Bridge in Portsea, Victoria. This is a brave decision for anyone at any time of year, but July? This is mid winter in Victoria! But the weather held out and I enjoyed photographing them both as they stood perched on one of the rock ledges of this geological structure. We didn't get much time for photographs thereafter as it did begin to rain and howl...but it was not a problem at all.
I will get some more details here soon, but for now...Thank you Tom and Amanda. The kind words you said to me, Tom, were among the most complimentary of my career, and your hug, Amanda, as I left, was perhaps the most insistent I have ever received from a grateful bride. You made me feel so very honoured. Thank you both!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Simple Lighting Rig from Your Auto Parts Retailer

My recent wedding photography workshops in Rockhampton gave me the opportunity to try out a new little lighting rig I have put together. Basically it consists of 4 SCA 24 LED magnetic lights - the kind that auto mechanics use. The four of them came to just under $40.

They are bright and the white balance is actually cool enough to mix fairly unobtrusively with daylight. Because they have magnets on the back, you can quickly plonk them onto a metal plate and you have a small and very portable lighting rig.

My friend Sharon Mahoney asked her husband to make me a metal plate with a handle on the back, which he very quickly did in his back shed.

And - Voila! Portable light.

Because I have four of these babies on a plate I can turn them off and on according to my lighting needs. The image above was taken in Rockhampton at dusk. The image below in a livingroom that same morning.

I am looking forward to using these babies often!Thanks to Di Collins for the photo (above)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rocking in Rockhampton

I have just returned from a warm and sunny few days in Queensland. It was an honour for me to once again be invited to run even more photography workshops in Rockhampton, situated along the central Queensland coast. I have now been there four times, and each time has been wonderful. This time, however, was unique.
I was asked by Rockhampton photographer, Sharon Mahoney, to come and run a complete wedding photography weekend, taking the local wedding photographers through the process of a wedding day and helping them overcome some of the difficulties they encounter that are unique to them as photographers and unique to their part of the world. This included offering a fresh perspective on everything from typical (and not so typical) Rockhampton locations and the harsh afternoon light that all wedding photographers battle with...especially in a place such as Rockhampton.

Sharon was wonderful in making everything happen. She had organised everything I needed - from a large church for ceremony photographs to a 1925 Essex vintage car...and much more! There was nothing I needed to do except turn up and run the thing....which is exactly how I like it! I can run a mean workshop but I am not the best organiser in the world...

So, Saturday morning found us emulating 'home of the bride' photographs', followed by the ceremony photographs in St Joseph's church. I had been asked to assist with these things particularly, and even though Goldstone House was the location for our 'home of the bride' photographs, we actually used it in such a way that proved to all there that no matter what the nature of the location, beautiful bridal portraits can be achieved - if you know how to use and meter for light. Essentially that was my message for the entire weekend.
After our meal together on Saturday night me met on Rockhampton's river bank for a photo session with a beautiful old Essex car. Not liking the light, we simply moved to a better location only a hundred meters or so away. I did this deliberately. I wanted the group to learn to never settle if a change can be made for better light and a better context. Sunday afternoon saw the entire group of us walking along the street that runs along the river, using whatever we could find to create wedding images. What was interesting was that the group soon learned that great wedding photographs are not created in beautiful locations. They can even be created in parking lots if you know how to use and manipulate light.
Monday found me tired but excited. I had an appointment to be on Radio 4RO with host, Michael Harvey. He is a lovely guy. In the studio with us was Rockhampton Mayor, Brad Carter. We all just chatted about photography for a little while. I do love being on radio talking about photography!

I pour my heart and soul into my workshops. They exhaust me and uplift me at the same time. They exhaust my energies and renew them also. I love the entire experience, despite its rather tiring nature. That being the case, its gratifying to get testimonials like this...

"It was totally awesome. The off camera flash shoots we did just rocked. I just ordered my 'cactus' gear.'re a about laugh laugh laugh and laugh some more!The lessons were very very rewarding. THANKS SHELTON. YOU ROCK!!!!"

Thanks Tanya.Thanks to all of the fun photographers who came to the workshop and especially to you, Sharon, for making it possible. I am looking forward to coming up again soon!

Monday, July 06, 2009

A cover shoot

Waking up on a Sunday morning at 5am is not what Sunday mornings are supposed to be about. However, when new and potentially important clients need you to be somewhere for an early morning shoot, that's what you do!
So, Sunday morning found me in at the Hyatt on Collins for a 7am meeting with my new client. (All will be revealed when the magazine is printed). I brought with me my friend and fabulous assistant, Richard Annable and his lovely and very capable girlfriend, Tamara. Together we sat over coffee with my client to discuss the shoot ahead. This was very quickly followed by a fabulous Hyatt buffet breakfast, which really went down well.
The idea of the shoot was about Shopping in Melbourne. For that, we needed to show our fair city as the sunny summer destination that it is...except that in July - it isn't. It had been raining all day and all night the day before and there was little sign on sunlight for the day ahead. So, armed with a couple of Pocket Wizards and some off camera flash units we made our own sunlight and it seemed to work well.

Our model was Arabella Forge, a beautiful and very humourous nutrionist who also models for various clients. She was great fun to work with, especially considering that her outfits were not particularly made for a cold winter day. Nonetheless, she soldiered on through the various renditions of Richard and I singing "Tropical Heatwave" in a vain attempt to keep her thinking warm thoughts. She was fabulous!
My client had asked me to set the day aside, thinking that the shoot would take the better part of the day. However, I had impressed my client so much by the time 12 noon rolled around that she looked at me eagerly enough and said "I think that's it. I don't need any more. We're done!
When a client knows that the shots are in the bag hours before it was thought that they would be, you know you have done your job. There is also every chance that they will work with you again. And, after the fun we all had, I hope so. I really want to work with these fun and creative people again!

Behind the Scenes images courtesy of Tamara Bodor.

Saturday Night...

Saturday was a day off. I had a workshop planned but lack of numbers meant that it could be postponed. Wow! A day off! Woohoo! Not that there was nothing to do, but rather that I didn't actually have to do anything. What I did was a matter of choice. Except for one thing...and that was perfectly ok by me.

My nephew Jesse and his girlfriend Nicky had made an appointment to come over for their first official portrait of the two of them together.
Nicky is an exquisitely beautiful girl with a sweet, soft and endearing face, beautiful lips, fabulous cheekbones and two of the most beautiful and engaging eyes I have ever seen. When she smiles her entire face brightens the room. Combine these wonderful physical attributes with her sweet personality and kind heart and you have someone very special. And she is. No wonder Jesse is so enraptured with her. And she lights up when he enters the room. I saw it in her eyes when I was photographing her.
Jesse is himself a fine young man and I am very proud to be his uncle. He is also rather handsome. Its in his family, on his uncle's side....

So, as you can imagine, photographing these two young people was going to be an absolute pleasure. My sister, Christina is a professional make up artist and her work on Nicky's face was exceptional. Her attention to detail makes the nuance of difference that only a real professional can see or make.

As for me, I kept the lighting simple. One main light, one hair light and a reflector. I prefer to work that way and find that it usually works best to keep everything simple. I already had two fabulous faces to photograph and so much of my job was already done!
Thank you Jesse and Nicky! I had fun!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Another Workshop

Yesterday saw Glynn Lavender and me at Abbottsford Convent once again, running our Creative People Photography workshop. It was a small group but the day was a roaring success. Our model, Natasha Humble, was once again in fine form, brightening the atmosphere with her infectious humour and her gorgeous smile. She is a wonderful model for our workshops as not only does she have a beautiful face but also a bright and willing spirit. She told me later that she was not actually feeling very well, and I really appreciate how wonderful she was. Thank you Natasha!
For more information on upcoming workshops, click here or email me at
For my online tutorials, click here

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Back from PMA 2009

Well, I actually got back on Monday, but this is the first chance I have had to update my blog! Yeah, I kinda hit the ground running! This year's Imaging Technology Show 2009 was fabulous. There were so many stands and the public support was wonderful. I got a chance to get my hands on the new Olympus Ep-1 and the promise that very soon I will receive a review camera for my magazine. The problem Olympus are going to have is actually getting that little beastie back! I must admit to not really having been a huge fan of Olympus cameras over the last couple of decades, but this is different. I really do like it, and I want to take one to India with me when I go there in late October. It is a great little 'street camera'.
Apart from that I had my new DVD's with me and managed to sell a few dozen of them, which was nice. I also spoke at the Picture Place, the theatre where the public were welcome to sit and listen to professionals and industry figures give half hour lectures. I was scheduled to speak last on each day as apparently I tend to go a little overtime...
Having my son, Nathan and my friend Richard Annable with me was also great, and being able to catch up with my business partner, John Pospisil was also fun. He is a great guy and a pleasure to work with.
It was also refreshing to have so many people from my digital photography tutorials website The Five Minute Photographer come to the stand and say Hi. This was enhanced by the constant stream of 'G'day Shelton' from listeners to the podcast I do with Bruce Williams, Shutters Inc.
Speaking of which,...our time in Sydney was celebrated on our last evening when Bruce invited Nathan, Richard and myself into his home to record a mammoth episode of Shutters Inc. Basically, it was four guys who love photography sharing a glass or six of red wine, some pizza and a three hour chat. To hear the madness and the philosophical banter than ensued, click here... From what I have heard from those who have endured it, its rather fun to listen to!
Well, it was another year, another chance to catch up with some fellow editors, photographers and friends. I look forward to next year...

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller