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Quiet Thursday: Being Cheeky

It is Thursday again and I have to admit I’m being cheeky, or I am being naughty, I’m running away for the day to take some photos. It has been go go go here and I need to go and take some photos. So I am escaping, but before I go I have some things to share with you.

Are you ready for this?

Dynamic Range_Aug15-1

What do you think?

The cover of the magazine. How amazing does it look. I am so excited about it. Everything is really coming together and I can’t wait to launch it, so stay tuned.

On another note I’ve been working on images and putting them up on social media. It has been fun to just do one image here and one there. I am not going to talk to much about them, but will just put them in a gallery before I run away.  I hope you are doing something today that you love.

MM 2-21: Monochrome Madness 2-21

Next week is our next theme so I hope you have all been getting out and getting  your photos ready. I’ve going out and photographing bridges every where. I don’t think I have photographed so many before. I’ve found some great bridges, some bad ones, some in disrepair, some falling apart, some beautiful, some only half there and I have no idea what I am going to choose, you will have to wait.

If you have your image for the Bridges theme next week then email it to me, I’m looking forward to seeing them. I’ve already seen quite a few and they are looking good.


This is the fourth image I’ve done for this weeks MM. Not that there was anything wrong with them, but if you follow me on other social media sites then you have already seen them, so thought I might do something new. I took this image a couple of weeks ago and then forgot about it. Then when I went back and had another look and realized all the sheep were all looking at me, I knew I had to do this one for this week.

Don’t forget all the instructions on how to enter your own images are at the bottom of the post.  If you have entered an image then please remember to check your image in the gallery, scroll down and see if anyone has left you any comments.


Now, Monochrome Madness will continue next week and if you wish to participate and submit an image here is how you do it:-

  • You must email me the image you want to include and if you have a blog or website, or somewhere else, please include the link. My email address is
  • The image size should be low res, so the largest side should be 1000 pixels or less.
  • Please insert either your name or your blogs name in the file name.
  • Remember I am on Australian time, so with GMT I am +11 hours at the moment, I publish my post on Wednesday morning.
  • If you need more help with sending images, and get confused about time zones, etc, well, there is a great website called The World Clock, if you go to that and look at Melbourne time, if it’s before 6pm on Tuesday evening, then you can still send me images.  If it’s after that time, you can send me an image, but it will be set aside for the following week.
  • Remember to include a link to your blog or website.
  • Please remember to resize your images, it is fairly simply, you just need to go into any editing software and usually under Image you will find, resize, scale, or image size, something like that and you can resize your image there. Change the dimensions to pixels and make the longest side 1000 pixels or smaller, hit return, and for most types of software that should change the other side automatically as well. Just remember to save it with a different name so you know it is the smaller version.  If you have any problems, please contact me, I don’t mind helping out.

Please note you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger to be in this challenge, you can have a link to a Facebook page, a Flickr page, anywhere really, or no link.  We just want to encourage people to do monochrome images, just for the madness of it. Just to let you know also, that as soon as the challenge is published, all emails and images you have sent me are deleted from my computer.  I respect your copyright and would never keep any of the images.

Tuesday’s Bits and Bobs: The Countdown Starts

Another busy week ahead, but everything is definitely going in the right direction and moving on. It is quite an exciting time really. With the book moving along, the magazine getting put together and then there is my trip to the US coming up quickly. It is also a scary time, I really am embarking on things that are completely new to me.

Dynamic Range Magazine

It is all coming together and now it is time to start assembling it. The articles are all in and most have been edited just waiting on a couple, but all good really. It is getting really exciting but also really scary. I’ve never done this before and I really scbmx20111105-0195want it to look good. It will be good if people really like it as well, that’s the scary part.

My Book

We have made the decision to put it back a little, because while I have photos for nearly all the seasons, I need some more for the summer period. I am a bit relieved that I have that now. I love the idea of the seasons, but I knew I didn’t have many photos with summer, so I will have go looking for them.

Another thing with the book is that all the natives are flowering down in Banyule Flats. I am going to have to spend some time down there and get som20110103-0925edsce images. I think that will be really good too. The wattle is coming out everywhere and I’m told there are 11 different species down there, so I will have to see how many I can find. There are some other things to find down there too.

Going to the US

Are you ready for it?

Really, are you?scbmx20111105-0303

I fly out in 5 weeks from today. I can’t believe it is almost here, and now I have to start getting things finalized and worked out. My friend has lent me her suitcase that she uses when she travels, though I told her I would probably pack the night before I go. Okay maybe the day before.

Travel Insurance, I remembered that I needed to get some, so have a quote I am happy with. Though I was a bit worried about my photography gear and how much it was going to cost me to insure it, but it seems the insurance I already have for it will be fine. Seems it will cover my gear all around the world, so score one for me. Now I can save just over two hundred dollars, that is fantastic.

Getting sponsors for the trip has been interesting. I managed to get some, Tamron, Lowepro and Merrell. I haven’t sccrits-3906been able to get any others, not sure why, though I am starting to suspect that I am the wrong sex for it. Perhaps if I were a man I might get more attention.  I’ve seen men who have less exposure than me get sponsorship. Hopefully the magazine is going to help women everywhere.

A few people have said they want to meet me when I come and so I have been thinking about having a get together, well two really, one in San Francisco and one in New York. So if you are interested, please let me know.


I try and show old photos, but I feel like I’ve shown everything. Then I came across some BMX photos I took a few years ago and thought why not show them. Then I saw some of the cycling ones, ones from the Bay Crits and thought why not.  So here is a selection of some of my cycling photos. It is nice to look back.

Influencing Me: Joel Tjintjelaar

If you love architectural photography then you will, I’m sure, know about Joel Tjintjelaar.  He is like a guru when it comes to architecture and long exposures. I know many of you already know his work and those that don’t will fall in love in love with it.  His work is something I aspire to be able to do and I plan work thinking of how he executes it. Shame he is in another country to me.


There is a rawness to his images, they are devoid of distractions. When you look at his work there are lessons to be learned on what you should include and what you shouldn’t include.


The work is about shape and form, and you look at the structure of the building. It is like an architects vision of what they thought the building would look like.


His work is predominantly black and white. It strips away more of the distractions. It helps make the buildings beautiful, but also very simple, if that is the right way of putting it.


Though I was also surprised to see that there are some colour photos. Actually one really, this was the only one I found, but still the image has the colour, but not much. It has been stripped of most and is just the bare essential colours.


His long exposures are also worth looking at. For someone who is experimenting with this process myself his work really is inspirational. Of course the water ones are, but so are the architectural ones.

Minimalism at its best really.  It is something I think many of us can learn as we compose our images and work out what to leave in and what to leave out.

Joel did give me permission to show you his work and I had to make sure that you knew that the work was his. I can’t find a website but he is on Google+, Facebook, and Flickr. I would also like thank Joel for allowing me to show his work to you.

Website: BW/Vision

I have a gallery with more of his images now.  Click on an image to get a larger image. I know you will enjoy them.

Weekend Wanderings: Macro Clifftop

One of the things that I said when I did my first post on the area called Red Rocks was that I didn’t have my macro lens with me. I knew before I went back that I had to take it with me the next time. So we walked to the cliffs first and did all the photos that I showed you yesterday. We knew it was downhill all the way to them, and the plan was to go to the bottom take our photos and then on the way back to the car use the macro lens.

The clifftops have been re-vegetated and all the plants there are Australian natives that were chosen, I’m sure, because they are native to the area, but also because they will survive in the conditions of where they are. The clifftops are subject to a lot of wind, and then there is the salt spray from the ocean below. It is very hard to get things to grow in those conditions so you need particular plants, ones that have been growing there for millions of years.

In Australia this time of the year is when you start to see many of the native flora flowering and if you want to see it you have to be prepared to get out in the bad and cold weather. It is something I need to do in the area I live as many plants are starting to flower right now.

I think we have some really unique flora here and I think I need to start paying attention. I don’t know what anything is and that is something that I need to get better at. I am going to start learning what our flora is. I am just going to put them into a gallery for you now, don’t forget you can click on individual images to see a larger image. I hope you are having a great weekend.  Take care.

Weekend Wanderings: Red Rocks Around Anglesea

A few weeks ago I was given another opportunity to go to Red Rocks near Anglesea. Chris from sv-takeiteasy took me to some great places to see the cliffs and red rocks. She knows the area quite well, which was great as I know I would never have been able to find it on my own. The rocks really are red and they look great against the ocean with the white spray from the waves.


Apparently they have a lot of iron ore in them to have that colour. Geology isn’t my thing, but I believe it. It is almost like they have the sunset trapped inside.

We were there in the afternoon in the photo above, but we decided that it might be good to see it in the morning, so the next time we went we headed early in the morning.


We had hoped that the sun would be on the cliffs, but we think we probably need to get there even earlier, sunrise maybe, you can be sure we will get there that early one day.


I put on a filter for the morning session to get more movement in the water. I like the effect. I do have a new Formatt Hitech ND filter that I will  have to play around with at some stage. I am hoping it will really give me good effects like this, but easier.


The views on top of one cliff to another were quite amazing. I like the wide angle view with the background, it is definitely something I want to explore a lot more.


The top of the cliffs are very windy and with so much salt spray it is hard for things to grow. When they do grow they can do so in very weird ways and shapes. I liked seeing them and photographing them. The only thing that I was disappointed about was that I didn’t have my really wide angle with me. I will make sure I have it with me next time.

I am going to put the above images and more into a gallery for you. Don’t forget you can click on the images and see them individually.  Open house in Melbourne today so I am hoping to see inside some buildings that you can’t see otherwise.  Should be fun. I hope you have some great plans for the weekend.

UfD: Workshop Lessons

Today for our Up for Discussion post Susan Portnoy from The Insatiable Traveler recently attended a photography workshop and she has written for us what she learned at the workshop. There are some great lessons here and I think we could learn a lot from this.  

Five Essential Lessons (and One Great Tip) I learned about Photography at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops


As a photographer always looking to hone my skills, I recently went on a unique adventure as the guest of the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops in New Mexico. I’d heard about the globally renowned workshops for years (the workshops are year round and boast an amazing roster of instructors) from photographers who were students and others who had the honor of being asked to teach.

The Santa Maria building where I stayed and where breakfast and lunch was served

The Santa Maria building where I stayed and where breakfast and lunch was served

The Santa Maria building where I stayed and where breakfast and lunch was served
The trip was a great learning experience and completely out of my comfort zone but exactly the kind of push I needed to up my game. When I told Leanne about my visit she thought you might be interested in reading about what I learned. And while it’s all a work in progress, here goes… ~ Susan Portnoy

When you first arrive at the Workshops, Reid Callanan, the company’s founder, will tell you that no matter what course you take the week is not about creating masterpieces, it’s about learning new approaches to photography, opening your mind and eye to fresh ideas and challenging your skills. It was all that and more.

My instructor was fine art photographer and Sam Abell disciple, Brett Erickson. The workshop: “Visions of the American West.

My fellow students and I (nine of us in total), quickly learned that for Brett, “visions” was the operative word. The American West was a backdrop, a muse for our creativity efforts, and we would explore these visions through black and white photography.

When our workshop began, Brett explained that his main objective was for us to “see” the world differently; to be keenly aware of the textures, shapes, and colors that make up a scene and use them to our advantage. He wanted us to discover the story within the photo, the nuances and the complexities, both literally and figuratively, in order to communicate our vision successfully. In short: to thoughtfully craft images rather than just “take” them.

Below are five lessons (and one neat trick) I learned that I believe will help me (and perhaps you) do just that:

1. Identify what you like about the subject or scene

When you come across something you want to shoot, take a moment to ask yourself what you I like about it? Brett explained, “We choose compositions because of the way they make us feel.” Meaning more often than not, it’s emotion not intellect that directs our eye.

At first I found it difficult to articulate what drew my attention beyond the surface (ie. the light is really pretty, or I love the way that looks), but the more I thought about my reaction, the better I perceived the scene. Taking the time to reflect—even for a few seconds—provided me with valuable insight on how make an image that would convey my feelings more accurately.

Take this very simple example: Minutes before I landed in New York from Santa Fe, I took a picture of the wing and the beautiful twinkling lights below (above left). Then I remembered to ask myself why I was drawn to the scene. I realized it wasn’t just the beautiful lights; I loved the idea that I was privy to an extraordinary view of the city from my own little seat in the clouds.

With that in mind, I composed the next shot to include a portion of the window frame, giving the photo a completely different feel. A person looking at the image now has more context. They become a passenger peering through the window with me which is the essence of what I wanted to communicate.

2. Instill your images with Poetry and Metaphor

What makes an image compelling? Brett says, “Poetry and metaphor.” Since that’s a tad esoteric, consider it a sense of depth and meaning that goes beyond the literal scene. What story can you tell? What observation about life, love, friendship, or society, can you work into your image that will make a viewer connect on a level that stirs the emotions? Everyday Brett challenged us to create images with poetry using metaphor. Below are a few of my attempts.

Example 1:

On our second day of the workshop, we visited El Santuario de Chimayo, a tiny Roman Catholic church built in the early 1800’s. A modern day pilgrimage site receiving over 300,000 visitors a year. Outside the sanctuary, crosses made from pieces of unfinished lumber stood bleakly in front of the iron gate that separated the sanctuary from the parking lot. Behind a row of cars, I saw this small cross with the word “Hope” and the crudely carved phrase “Dear Lord Pray for Us All.” It was a passionate plea for help that I imagined had gone unanswered for “Hope” had fallen over.

Outside the gates of El Sanctuario de Chimayo in Santa Fe

Example 2:

Religion is a big business, even in the small town that plays host to Chimayo. In this photo, I wanted to show how commercialization feeds off of religion by featuring the mural of Mary juxtaposed to the litany of signs advertising local shops and businesses.

Outside the gates of El Sanctuario de Chimayo in Santa Fe

Example 3:

On our last day of shooting we ventured to a beautiful area with white rocks teaming with interesting shapes and textures. Brett’s assignment: use a model as a metaphor for something in nature. I was struck by the large, dark boulders that littered the white-washed wonderland. For this image my model, Diaolo, became another rock dotting the rugged landscape.

Outside the gates of El Sanctuario de Chimayo in Santa Fe

3. Slow down and explore your options

Ever see something that you like, snap a picture and then move on? Yep, me too. Next time, slow down and explore your options. In one exercise, Brett asked us to take five photos of something that made us feel. With each shot we had to move closer (or move back) and reassess the picture anew. Did the light change? Was there something new to the scene that we hadn’t noticed before? Did the intimacy of a close-up better communicate our vision or did everything fall apart? The deliberateness of the process forced us to slow down and really look at what we were shooting thus providing new opportunities for inspiration.

Example 1:

When I walked up to this area of the Chimayo sanctuary (photo on the left below), the first thing that struck me was how the telephone poles in the background echoed the cross of the sanctuary building in the foreground. But as I walked closer, I saw the way the soft curves of the archway framed the rectangle door. Then I became intrigued by the stain of the wet adobe and how its soft lines mixed with the multiple triangles surrounding the door’s frame. In the end, I felt the image to the right made a stronger statement than the wider angle that first grabbed my attention. If I hadn’t reminded myself to move in, I would have missed it entirely.

Example 2:

One afternoon, we went to Eaves Movie Ranch, a location used in countless westerns including the The Ridiculous Six, starring Adam Sandler, currently in post production. Thomas, who oversees the ranch, was one of our models and a perfect throwback to that era with his cowboy hat and garb, long hair and grizzly beard. I took him to an old barn that had amazing light to shoot a portrait. At first, I photographed him close up and straight on, but when I experimented with various angles, I liked this framing the best. Here you can see a piece of the paddock and the supply shed in the background. I found it to be more visually interesting, with its subtle layers and horizontal lines, while adding greater context to the photo.

Thomas at Eaves Movie Ranch in Santa Fe

4. Make the most of compositional tools.

Leading lines, diagonals, repetition, frames, patterns, layers, triads, triangles… these are compositional elements photographers use to move the viewer’s eye through the frame creating a more compelling image. And that’s what we all want, right? It wasn’t the first time I’d thought about leading lines or patterns and the like, but working with Brett in a workshop environment brought my awareness and understanding to a whole new level.

Example 1:

In this image I was drawn to the repetition. First the eye focuses on the crosses to the right that are in focus. Then the vertical columns move the eye to the back where the crosses are repeated in the door and on the column to the left of the entrance. The lines in the ceiling also lead the eye to the back where the arches are repeated in the windows and doors.

Thomas at Eaves Movie Ranch in Santa Fe

Example 2:

This was taken from inside the studio doorway of a rather eccentric, 70+ year old painter I met while shooting along Canyon road on our first day. I first noticed the sign on the door and I couldn’t help but think that it’s semi-schizophrenic handwriting suited the quirky artist. Outside, stood his old school bicycle, another glimpse into the man’s unique personality. I loved the combination of the two together.

From a compositional perspective, the open doorway is a strong visual element that splits the image in two, thus grabbing the viewer’s attention. The horizontal plank below the sign is like an arrow leading the eye to the right to where it finds the bike, while the vertical edge of the door echoes the wood in the fence post.


Example 3:

Two horses snuggle in another shot from Eaves Movie Ranch. Besides the obvious “adorable” factor, the image combines three triangles, two are created by each of the horses heads while together they form one large triangle, keeping the eye fixed on the center and the equine bromance.


5. Wait until the next day to look at your pictures

During the workshop I was struggling. Every day we got a new assignment and every day I was convinced my work sucked. I would do my best to create wonderful images that were exploding with poetry and metaphors and nine times out of ten I wanted to throw my camera against a wall. Intellectually, I knew what I was learning was incredibly valuable. Emotionally, I hated that I wasn’t instantly fabulous. It was hard. Granted, I put enormous pressure on myself. I think most creative folks do, which means if you’re reading this, you probably know of what I speak. Here’s my advice, if you’re not happy with the way a shoot is going, stick it out, do the best you can and then leave the pictures alone. If you keep going over it in the moment you’ll just spin yourself into the depths of emotional self flagellation. When I stepped away and gave myself the opportunity to disconnect from the shoot and my frustration, I usually found that when I looked at the images again they weren’t so bad. In fact, sometimes I would surprise myself and find something I really thought was good. Perfectionism is a dangerous thing. Don’t let it get the best of you.

(The Trick) Try shooting black and white in camera.

When I first read Brett’s description of the class, he explained that monochromatic images would play a big part in our workshop and it was part of the reason I signed up. I love the look and feel of black and white photos but I’ve never felt particularly at ease creating them. Like most people, I shoot in color and then convert in post-production using Lightroom and Nik filters. More often than not, I’m not sure whether the conversion will look right until it’s done. It’s always been a bit of a crap shoot for me.

Brett wanted us to be able to see the world in black and white, to instinctively know how various colors would look in grey-scale so that we could be deliberate in the creation of our black and white images. His trick to train the eye: shoot black and white in camera.

By setting my Canon 1-DX to monochrome and then changing the “image quality” to capture both a RAW file and a jpeg (Nikon users don’t need to add the jpeg), I could see a black and white jpeg on my LCD screen in real time, while simultaneously capturing a RAW color file for use later while editing. (You’ll want those color channels available so that you can tweak tonalities.)

I have a ways to go, but I’m slowly understanding how colors will convert so that I’ll be able to spot compelling contrasts from the get-go. Eventually I’ll be able to see the world in black and white without having to look at it on my LCD. At least that’s the plan.

If you have any questions or comments about the photos or the workshops, please ask in the comments below and I will be happy to answer. If you’ve been to SFPW or other workshop, I’d love to hear about your experience.

Susan will be responding to comments, so please if you have questions please ask. I would also like to thank Susan for writing this for us, don’t forget to take a look at her site, The Insatiable Traveler.


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