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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Building a new website...

At the moment I am putting the finishing touches to my new website. It has been built using the templates and hosting services of PhotoMerchant, an Australian company specifically oriented for constructing websites for photographers in Australia. The above is the video I intent to have running on the front page. I will keep you posted as it progresses. I am creating a few customised aspects to the site. If I wasn't adding these personal touches, PhotoMerchant makes it so easy that it would be done already! 
One of the great things about the PhotoMerchant setup is that they are aligned with Australia's premiere professional print lab, Nulab. This means that you can set up your site to sell prints directly. The order is placed on the site and sent directly to Nulab. They print it, pack it and send it straight to your customer. All you do is collect the money. So while you are out having coffee or watching a movie, you can be selling portraits or wedding prints and making more profit. 
I am very happy with the site so far...and I am not finished. Adding images is a simple case of drag and drop, and making changes to the look of the site is very easy. So, the question must be asked...will I ever be finished?
Probably not. But at least the ride will be an easy one!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Advanced, but Simple....

I might be doing myself in with the title of this blog entry. After all, how am I supposed to convince anyone to come to future Advanced Flash Photography workshops if I admit to them being simple? Or, perhaps, is that the attraction? I mean, life is hard enough as it is, isn't it?
Anything is simple when you know how, so they say. Usually, once the principles are established, most people are able to build, adapt, alter and interconnect all their tools from that point forward. So, in essence, our Advanced Flash Photography workshop is exactly that.
Yesterday's workshop was a flow on from CPW's  Creative Flash Photography workshop. It takes the photographer from a basic understanding of flash exposure, on and off camera flash techniques and a new love of flash to the use of two, three and more flashguns, Honl flash modifiers, strobist style studio portraiture and other funky stuff. And, once the principles are established, it is only up to the photographer's imagination to take it from there.
Creative Photo Workshops is not the place where you are told you need the most expensive equipment or that you can only stand and watch while we take photographs and indulge ourselves at your expense. Far from it. In fact, the tutors at each workshop don't get to take many photographs at all. We need to get a handful for our promotions and blogs, Facebook and personal satisfaction, but we prefer our customers do the bulk of the shooting. We are only there to establish and explain the images they will take. 
We are, as I said, also dead against the idea of expensive equipment if it is not necessary. Our flash workshops promote the use of generic flashguns such as the FotoBestway strobist kit. We also prefer to use FlashWave III triggers, which are much cheaper than PocketWizards and have never let a customer down at a workshop. By teaching principles of photography we educate our customers in a way that does not rely upon technology but rather their own intelligence to solve problems and use generic equipment. Yesterday's workshop relied upon this approach, compelling one of our customers to express his gratitude for saving him a lot of money that he was about to spend on more technologically advanced (but unnecessary) equipment. Now that he knows the principles, he can save a serious amount of money. That makes coming to our photography workshops a serious money saving exercise, doesn't it?
Sorry for the shameless plug folks...

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Saved by my Ricoh...

Models: Taisen Blackwolf and Michelle Grace Hunder
Camera: Ricoh GRDIII
Our Creative Photo Workshops events are popular. We are often asked to repeat them - in the same city, and in different cities around the country and even around the world. Our Film Noir event is perhaps the most popular so far. It is even being copied, so I hear, by friends in other cities. That's ok. Imitation is the best compliment after all. 
Last week, we repeated our Film Noir event - for one person. Yes, folks, one of our customers had been unable to attend either of our two Melbourne Film Noir shoots and so she booked us to run the thing for her. In the end, she brought a friend along. So, Glynn, David Oakley and I spent the evening at Abbottsford Convent once again setting up the lights and the fog machine, dressing up our models and teaching our two customers not to be afraid of the dark. After all, darkness is what Film Noir is all about.
It was a perfect night for Film Noir. It was actually dark and stormy. Don't all the movie narrations and gangster novels start that way? So, I wasn't complaining at all. The scene was set! Arriving at the Convent, I realised that I had left my gadget bag and all my DSLR equipment at home. Silly me! I was all dressed up with no place to go. Or was I? You see, I don't really need my equipment at a workshop, other than to perhaps shoot for fun and blogging and lead by example. But we usually get a base shot and then hand over to our customers. It would appear that I couldn't even do that. At first I considered that I have done this event twice before and it really didn't matter too much. Secondly, I could devote my time and thoughts to the process of exclusively assisting our two customers that night. Glynn and I are very hands on at our workshops, making sure that the group is looked after as an entity, but also that each person's needs are met to the best of our abilities. Perhaps tonight was going to be a chance for me to just teach and not shoot. I was just going to have to settle for that.
However, I did have one back up. I carry my Ricoh GRDIII with me pretty much everywhere. I love that thing. To me, it is the perfect compact camera for the DSLR shooter. I believe it has been designed specifically for that very purpose and place within the market. It is ruggedly built, has a 28mm (equiv) f 1.9 fixed lens, complete manual override (with dials, not menu options) and a 10 MP sensor. It shoots in Adobe DNG RAW also, and so the possibilities for quality are seriously improved. It is well designed for the DSLR user and the images it produces are wonderful. Because the lens is fixed, it has no need for optical compromises. Also, because the camera is compact and has an f1.9 lens, you can hand hold the little beastie in very dimly lit conditions without having to raise the ISO.
The great thing about being limited in this way - not having my DSLR and my bevy of lenses - is that you are compelled to previsualise in one particular way. You have only one focal length to work with and it therefore simplifies your choices. You know where you need to stand. You know how you need to compose. You know what you can do, and what you can't. That is what I love about fixed focal length lenses. They teach you to see because they offer you only one option. I would suggest that every photographer try their hand at using lenses that cannot zoom. Knowing how a lens sees and having to use your feet to move backward and forward, positioning yourself in the right place for the right composition has been a valuable lesson for me. While I do love my zoom lenses, I know that it is not my place to simply stand anywhere I like and zoom in and out for my own convenience. I realise that I need to select the focal length first and then position myself according to it, and not the other way around. For this reason, I often use my zooms at their extremities. Funny, that. 

The Life, Times and Images of photographer, Shelton Muller

Images on this blog are copyright Shelton Muller