Category Archives: Its Not Gear But The Idea

Just Because You Push A Slider – Should You?

When I first posted this image I got a lot of interest, so I decided to share my thought process and steps I completed.

This shot of the city skyline was pretty boring, given the weather at the time. I had gone to Bradley’s Head for a meetup with some members of the Landscape Photographers Network. It was supposed to be a long-exposure sunset shoot, but the prevailing weather has other ideas! After chatting with Dean, the shoot coordinator I thought that I would get a few “warm up” shots to begin. With a wide-angle shot I needed some foreground interest so I included the  sandstone wharf.


Final image

Final image

Step 1 - Original image

Step 1 – Original image

Step 2 - Add extra contrast & check overall exposure

Step 2 – Add extra contrast & check overall exposure

Step 3 - Crop image & open up shadow details

Step 3 – Crop image & open up shadow details

Step 4 - Adjust colour balance by making warmer & shift colour hues of yellows toward green.

Step 4 – Adjust colour balance by making warmer & shift colour hues of yellows toward green.

Step 5 - Apply graduated filter to sky to make darker and shift colour to match sandstone.

Step 5 – Apply graduated filter to sky to make darker and shift colour to match sandstone.

Step 6 - Use brush to change water colour hue more green & increase brightness.

Step 6 – Use brush to change water colour hue more green & increase brightness.

I used Capture One image processing software, but I think you could achieve a similar result in Adobe LightRoom, Apple Aperture etc.

After these preliminary edits I would generally export a 16bit file in .tiff format to then make more refined changes in Adobe PhotoShop. In this case the image is still a “work in progress”

#bradleyshead #phaseone #captureone #sydney

Looking For A Cover Shot

After sending some NZ snapper photos to my fishing buddies, Nick offered to show me a similar style of fishing here in Oz.

Nick is a very keen fisherman, who fishes various competitions. His boat is something to behold. Definitely not your average tinny. It is more like a racing boat. Apart from the seats & cockpit it is all flat casting platform. Even with Nick, his brother John and myself casting from one side it was extremely stable. The boat is bristling with technology. The sounder has maps and GPS built-in. It also features side to side sonar, so as well as the sounder looking directly below the boat, additional transponders point out the back to cover some 25m either side of the boat. The amount of detail it can resolve is astounding!.

On the front is a bow-mounted electric. This unit is linked to the GPS system and has a remote hanging on a pendant . You can get it to plot a course, or just press a button and it will maintain the current position – automatically adjusting for changes in wind and current.

Overall it was a relatively slow day on the fishing front. However, I still caught my personal best bream and on a lure as a bonus. I also caught several other species. We had fun and I got some great photos.

I generally like the shallow depth of field with a high contrast washed out colour in post, but this is not mainstream fishing magazine cover style.

Will one of them be a cover shot? – probably not , but I will keep trying….

John waits for a hookup

John shows off his 71cm flathead

Mark with his personal best bream

Nick prepares to unhook his first bream of the day

Nick shows off his 37cm bream

Nick shows us how to pose fish for cover shot






A Fleeting Kiss

I love how clouds are often so dynamic. I was working in the yard yesterday, hoping to cut the grass before what looked like an impending storm. However, every time I looked up I could see wonderful cloud formations. Quickly I grabbed my Phase fitted with an 80mm lens (this is equal to a 50mm on a DSLR) and shot this series of photos. The bright sun was a bit tricky to shoot, especially with clouds passing in front,  but I settled on 1/1000 sec at f6.3 (Iso35). Shooting in manual I then could just adjust the aperture to cut back the amount of light when the sun came out. I wanted to expose for those bright highlights, but careful not to let them blow out.

It is much easier to darken an image than it is to lighten it as far more detail and tones are stored in the brights than the darks, provided you do not over-expose. Once you over-expose there are no details left to recover.

I shot these series of images in under a minute! The clouds were swirling in fast. I really liked the gap between these clouds when all of a sudden they seemed to briefly kiss and were then gone.

The detail you see is really there, the medium format Phase just is able to capture it.

I have used the new version of Capture One to add some clarity, structure and contrast. Then I used Nik ColorEfex with a “bleach-bypass” filter to further emphasise those wonderful crazy textures.


Kissing Clouds 1


Kissing Clouds 2


Kissing Clouds 3


Kissing Clouds 4


Kissing Clouds 5


A Sense Of The Forest

This post is an extension my earlier “Dragging The Shutter” post. The New Zealand beech forests are wonderful places. Being a fan of TLOTR it is not hard to imagine seeing Hobbits, Elves or even Orks in these places. My natural shooting mode would be to create a huge wrap-around panorama. However, the light is fairly harsh, and there is a strong breeze blowing, so I abandoned my tripod to shoot intimate details of the forest that I hope will give me a sense of the forest.

The mind is an amazing thing, with only a few visual clues it is able to fill in the details!

The Phase is not really what I would call a point and shoot camera and to get shutter speeds up a suitable speed for hand-held I choose ISO 100 and f2.8. Using a 150mm fixed focal length lens I find that looking up at the back-lit leaves I can see interesting shapes.

Sense of the Forest - One

Sense of the Forest – One

Sense of the forest - Two

Sense of the forest – Two

Sense of the forest - Three

Sense of the forest – Three

Dragging The Shutter

My daughter and I  recently attended  photo workshop to the  Fiordland District in New Zealand.  Mike Langford and Jackie Ranken are multi-award winning Canon EOS Masters that operate the Queenstown Centre for Creative Photography (QCCP) and run numerous workshops.

During one of the workshop presentations Jackie suggested that not all landscape photography is about everything in focus and perfectly exposed etc. She suggested trying to capture mood and emotion and “the essence” of a place by using really shallow depth of field and even introducing motion by using very slow shutter speeds.

Hence the title of this post “Dragging The Shutter”

I experimented with various shutter speeds, but finally settled on around 2 seconds.  I found a shutter speed longer than this resulted in too much blur. Rather than trying to get too complicated I choose simple small amount of vertical camera movement.

This method is completely opposite  to my normal methodology regarding shooting with medium format. In my previous posts I describe always shooting on a tripod, using mirror lock-up and often focus-stacking! (iPhone vs Phase aka David vs Goliath In The Camera World)

I am very happy with the images I took. It was a very useful exercise on a number of fronts:

1. I tried a completely different approach.

2. It pushed me out of my comfort zone.

If you are going to New Zealand and are planning to visit Queenstown I would highly recommend attending one of QCCP‘s numerous workshops.


Oreti Flow I

Oreti Flow II

Oreti Flow II

dragging the shutter - abstract fores image

Oreti Flow III

slow shutter abstract forest image

Oreti Flow IV


iPhone vs Phase aka David vs Goliath In The Camera World

I would say that up until recently cameras would be simply summed up by megapixels (MP). Often image quality and usability was swept aside by the MP count. I think that the megapixel war seems to have dissipated somewhat. Yes, the latest bunch of DSLR’s have bumped up the MP count, but some seem to be concentrating improvements on low-noise high ISO and better focusing as well.

Winter Blues (iPhone)

Blue Ice (PhaseOne)

I am lucky to have two extreme examples of cameras. I have a PhaseOne digital medium format system. This camera has a 80MP back!! Arguably the best camera currently available. Owners of other brands would no doubt beg to differ. I also own an iPhone4s with its 8MP camera and use a bunch of cool apps including Snapseed (my favourite), AutoStitch, ProHDR, ProCamera, and ScratchCam.

Press, Cockatoo Island (iPhone)

Karijini Volcano (PhaseOne)

Apart from the obvious MP count these two cameras could not be more different. For starters the vast difference in sensor size has an interesting side-effect. The iPhone has a huge depth of field, so objects both near and far are all in focus. On the other hand the medium format with its large sensor has the opposite, a shallow depth of field.

Branch (iPhone)

Landmannalauger 1 (PhaseOne)

For landscape work it is generally accepted that you want everything in focus, so this presents interesting challenges in itself. For portrait work this can be advantageous. Further, to optimise image quality normally  you shoot at f8 or f11 (higher f-stops increase depth of field, but also diminish image quality through diffraction of the small opening). Using these apertures also contributes to a shallower depth of field. You have two creative choices:

1. Go with the shallow depth of field and use it to to separate your subject from the background. For example treat a tree or a rock as if it were a portrait.

2. Focus stack. This involves taking multiple images, but focusing at different points in the scene, from close to far. All these images are then combined into a single image. (this will probably be a subject of a future blog)

Reach (iPhone)

Lake Wakatipu (PhaseOne)

The other difference is shooting technique. Most people would be familiar with taking images on an iPhone (or similar smart phone). Pretty much just whip it out and click away. The Phase on the other hand is a very regimented approach (especially for landscape work). Setup camera on a very substantial tripod, plug in cable release, turn camera on to mirror lock-up, turn digital back on, compose, focus, trigger mirror lock-up, wait 4-5sec for any possible vibrations to subside, take image, double-click on digital back to zoom in at 100% to check focus.

Line of Loos (iPhone)

Philosophers Falls (PhaseOne)

This beast is not a point and shoot camera! Its awesome amount of MP is a two-edged sword. The amount of detail it can capture from a scene is simply staggering. However it will also highlight any deficiencies in shooting technique.

Autumn Leaf (iPhone)

Karijini Drive III (PhaseOne)

“Pixel-peeping” on the internet is not really a true test of image quality. The Phase can be fiddly to shoot with, but when technical aspects come together, the printed image quality really has to been seen to be believed. I have been pleasantly surprised with printing from the iPhone, however it pales into insignificance when compared to a 1.5m wide print. (Mind you this is not even at the limit of the size print you can create.)

Blowhole Point, Tasmania (iPhone)

Tarkine Canopy (PhaseOne)

In the end each camera is best at what it does best. Ultimately it depends on your purpose for your final image. The advantage of the iPhone is that I nearly always have it on me. However, both are fantastic to create images with. I hope you enjoy the images in this blog.

Cradle Mountain Padana (iPhone)

Straight Trough I (PhaseOne)