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Monday, August 31, 2009 it was a bit of fun....

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Trash the Dress Workshop

Following the weekend of wedding photography workshops, it seemed only chronologically correct that we take the dress - and trash it. More than that, it seemed appropriate to make it a workshop, seeing that this is a trend that is growing in Australia and many photographers are selling the concept as a follow up for their wedding clients.
Natasha Humble, who has worked with me on many workshops and whose combined talents as a model, a photographer and comedienne has made my workshops so highly appreciated, always hated the dress that I have used thus far for my wedding photography workshops. So, for her this was a long awaited privilege, honour and joy to trash this dress. It was a dream come true. When I originally asked her to be the model for for this workshop the idea could clearly be seen to have a visible effect on her psyche, and a kind of 'Jekyll and Hyde' aspect to her personality began to manifest itself. The delight with which she accepted made me wonder if I needed to even pay her for the task. No longer was it the lure of the Queenlsand sun that attracted her to this assignment, but rather the desire to wreak havoc upon a garment she had come to detest. Having recently bought a new dress for our wedding photography workshops - one that she actually likes - it was time for her to exact her revenge on the abomination she has had to endure for the past year.
The thing to remember about trashing a dress is that you have to start gently. If you trash the dress too much too soon, you minimise your photographic opportunities. So, we started with small rock pools and slowly worked our way into the surf before the final moments of light limited our abilities to shoot more pictures.
Natasha was more than willing to do whatever we asked as her vengeance was wrought upon this poor dress. She lay in rock pools, danced and rolled in the surf and made sure that as much sand and grit was caught within the dress and its many layers as possible. But in her truly professional style, she made sure to bring her variety of attitudes for our lenses also. Those who came to learn how to photograph this sartorial subjugation were very happy. After all, its not everyday that you have a beautiful woman in a wedding dress reclining in rock pools and posing with attitude into the setting sun! I have to admit, despite getting very wet and very dirty, I loved every minute of this workshop!

Creative Wedding Photography Weekend, Rockhampton

It was once again my distinct pleasure to be asked to return to Rockhampton in Queensland's Central coast to run my Creative Wedding Photography weekend workshop. Some of the photographers who had been to the wedding workshops I ran there only a few short weeks ago repeated the weekend, and there were several new faces also. Apparently, those who repeated the class said that they had too much fun last time and wanted to do it again! Fair enough! Who am I to argue with them. Hopefully, they learned something as well, eh?

It is always interesting to see the varying levels of understanding that different photographers have before they undertake the responsibilities of wedding photography. Some are very adept at manipulating exposure, understanding lenses, depth of field and composition - and then others have very little knowledge at all. Nonetheless, these newcomers to photography feel that they can photograph weddings capably and creatively.
However, often it isn't until you are told what is possible that you realise what you don't yet know. For many photographers who attend my wedding workshops here and interstate, this is often the case and I feel a terrible sense of responsibility and desire to change and improve wedding photography if I can. This is not to say that I know everything as there is much I would like to improve upon myself. But if there has been one downside to digital photography it is the misconception that today's cameras will take care of everything for you and that all you have to do is come up with the idea. Nothing could be further from the truth. So, my workshops often become lessons in metering and basic exposure techniques, composition, lenswork and perspective. Much depends on the overall knowledge, experience and understanding within the group and this will vary from workshop to workshop. Wedding photography is not something for the neophyte photographer to undertake. Nevertheless, they try and it is understandable from one perspective. There is the lure of earnings and renown, and the unrelenting need for artists to be recognised for their creativity. But as wedding is a very responsible undertaking. It is the bride and groom's one day and they hire people who know their craft because there are no repeats of this event intended. The wedding photographer has one chance to get it right and hopefully that doesn't occur as a result of 'machine gunning' away a the bride and groom while using 'trial and error' shooting to correct exposurse that were just not well handled by the camera's programmed automatic modes. I couldn't tell you how many times I have heard these kinds of stories at my workshops. Wedding photographers need to understand light, exposure, dynamic range and the limitations there cameras have in all these respects. Plus they need to be creative, as well as technically proficient. I believe it is my job at these workshops to change their understanding of photography to the degree possible when it comes to their knowledge of these important factors and techniques.
I teach the benefits of selective metering, composition, lens perspective and depth of field so that images can be taken and printed directly from the camera and still be high quality photographs. I like to teach the principles of light and its importance and the notion of posing for the light as a priority. These things seem to click well (pun deliberately intended) for wedding photographers at my workshops.
One of the other techniques often well received at my wedding workshops is the use and understanding of off camera flash and various strobist techniques. On a few occasions over the weekend I found opportunities to teach the beauty of being able to put your 'sunshine' wherever you wanted it to be, manipulating the balance between ambient and flash lighting to create images in camera that do not exist to the naked eye. When these images appear on the back of a photographer's camera during the wedding, it empowers him or her as a creative soul that the bride and groom will trust implicitly with his or her ideas for photographs. This is just good business. The same applies for the use of selective metering techniques which can dramatically alter an image in camera. The bride and groom will probably have no idea how you created the image. They will revere you as a wonderful photographer who can create a beautiful portrait from a shaft of light and a concrete wall.
A shaft of light, a concrete wall and a bride
Once again, when this is done and the camera is turned to the couple to show them what is on the screen, they believe that you really are a true professional. This kind of trust and elevation of your skills can only work well for you on any wedding day. Again I say - that is just good business...

Then, on to Goldston House

Friday afternoon in Rockhampton was scheduled for a shoot for Goldston House. It was at this lovely B&B establishment that we were to be for the next morning's wedding photography workshop. They needed a photograph of their fountain, and this is what we came up with! Ok...more to come soon!

Rockhampton Workshops - Thursday Last week

Hello Blog! Sorry it has been so long since I gave you something new to show! Its just that I have been so busy running my workshops in Rockhampton again...
Last Thursday was the start of it all. Getting up at 4am to catch the plane from Melbourne was difficult, but arriving in warm and sunny Rockhampton was its own reward. That evening I met with a small group of photographers who had booked for an Off Camera Flash photography workshop. We had a couple of Harley Davidson motorcycles on hand and Sarah, a Moulin Rouge dancer from Paris as our model. It was a great experience being able to show the few who were gathered some of the principles of off camera flash and the simple ways that any street scene can be transformed with a flashgun or two, some cellophane, exposure manipulation and a couple of PocketWizards. I don't do a lot of shooting at my workshops, but here are a couple of images quickly grabbed from the initial setups.
Then, after a quick grab of some take-away dinner, I was in the Rockhampton Camera Club rooms for a Creative People Photography presentation. I was told later that they were all very happy with the lecture and a few have signed on for some workshops should I return to Rockhampton...which I think I will.
Ok..that's it for now. More to come on the weekend Wedding Photography workshops and the Trash the Dress workshop that followed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Jimmy Choo, ANZ, My Two Sisters,...and me.

Above (left to right): Christina, Meryn Pratt (ANZ) Me and Natasha
Last night was another function for the ANZ bank. I have to admit, its a wonderful thing to have them as a client. I have photographed their functions, their corporate headshots and even their calendars. I never thought I would love a bank. But ever since my good friend from Kodak, Meryn Pratt, started running their events, I have really come to love the bank who keeps and plays with my money. Meryn is a fabulous woman who has kept me very busy over the years. She has become a good friend and I love her dearly. Working with her has always had its share of fun and adventure. She has been very loyal to me as a friend and photographer, and I have tried always to be the same. In business, relationships are very important. In life, even more so.

The Women in Philanthropy function last night was a catwalk fashion event, sponsored by Jimmy Choo. So it was all about the shoes and handbags. For me, it was about getting the chance to work with two of the most professional make up artists I have ever worked with - my two beautiful sisters, Christina and Natasha. What a joy to work with my two sisters, enjoying their company and seeing them do what they do. It was really wonderful to catch up with Natasha, who is expecting her first child. I haven't had a chance to hug her since I found out!

Now, you may think that I am biased when it comes to these two fabulous women, but I can honestly say that I would recommend their makeup services at even the highest levels. They are very concerned with the finest details of their craft and go above and beyond in terms of what they offer. Even thought they considered the task they were given last night as fairly straightforward, they were perfect in the application. If I was not convinced of their abilities and talents, I just wouldn't tell them about the shoots I have coming up! Mind you, they would probably find out and beat me up...

As it was, they not only impressed my client but also ANZ's, which was Jimmy Choo. So, hopefully there will be more work coming up for Jimmy Choo catwalk and fashion events. The models for last night's event were from Chadwick, one of Melbourne's top agencies, and they were great to work with. They didn't mind wearing Jimmy Choo shoes and donning the handbags either! Now, I am not a 'shoes kinda guy' but even I have to admit that some of these shoes were fabulous! Daaahling!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Creative Flash Photography Workshop

Today was another workshop, and possibly the most difficult to actually run. The Creative Flash Photography workshop has its share of difficulties both educationally and logistically. First of all, there are many who come who don't know their equipment very well and you spend a fair bit of time helping them sort out the features and functions of their own cameras and flash. Then you have the logistical problems of managing a dozen people with off camera flash. When the excitement builds as the photographers learn how to use their flashguns off camera, it can become a bit difficult slowing them down to teach them things! Of course, its always gratifying to know that you have changed their vision, helped them take some steps forward in their creative achievements and perhaps removed the clouds and mystery that hung over their flash guns and cameras.

In the end the day always ends up with the attendees having learned the vital principles of flash and exposure, lighting directions and balances. I make sure everyone has a laugh and enjoys the day too. There is no point taking these things too seriously after all.

I don't get much opportunity to shoot at these workshops, but I try to get a good one or two in for the day. This image was taken with the camera rested on the ground and the exposure in manual mode. I couldn't get in the way of the others so I just guessed the composition and fired.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Ricoh's latest baby...

After my brief and rather well paid shoot for ANZ yesterday, I met with Stewart Pickersgill from Ricoh Australia to have a look at Ricoh's latest offering - the GRDIII. I have had the distinct pleasure of using the GRD range of cameras on various assignments overseas as my 'carry around' camera, the kind of tool you use for those moments you need the perfect little street machine for those grab shots. Here at home, it is the perfect tool to have on hand at all times.
The great thing about these cameras is that they allow you complete control over your image, the kind of control you have in a DSLR. The lens is fixed at a 28mm equivalent, which would prompt questions from some who would never want a camera without a zoom. However, for me it is ideal. I am a fan of prime lenses anyway and knowing how the camera sees the world helps me to previsualise the photograph every time I raise my camera to my eye. Having the lens at a fixed focal length also means that there are no compromises for sharpness required.
The GRD range of cameras have received their share of criticisms for noise in the images. Personally, I have never had a problem with this in my images from the camera, remembering that rarely will I make a billboard from an image taken with a camera of this kind! I think that photographers and technicians need to remember that it is always a 'horses for courses' situation and the Ricoh has performed beautifully for me in times past.
That said, Stewart informed that they have now have a sensor in the camera that could accommodate 17MP resolution. Nonetheless, Ricoh have done the wise thing and kept it at 10MP, thus reducing the noise significantly. The images I grabbed at 1600 ISO were actually very pleasing.
I am looking forward to using this camera and regularly posting images to this blog and to the Facebook site dedicated to its existence. I imagine there will be several images from my upcoming tour through India and my few days in Kathmandu that will wind up on here too!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Today's Creative People Photography Workshop

Well, another Saturday..another workshop. I love running these things with my good friend Glynn Lavender. Today was another run of the Creative People Photography workshop. Our model today was a sweet young lady named Caroline. She is the daughter of a friend of a person who is a member of my photography tutorials website, The Five Minute Photographer.
While only 17, she was very professional and had a handle on the posing. She was so kind to everyone, and made the day so very easy. Here are a few images from the day.

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller