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31 Dec

My wife and I sat down to watch the news the other night together, both of which are rare happenings. Usually one of us is working or the kids are doing sport, scouts or something. The normal bad financial news, followed by rising crime statistics, and then a cute and furry animal story. In other words the norm, however interspaced amongst all this was a brief story on Graffiti, and how it was a blight on our city scape. The reporter went on to reveal the new initiatives  for prevention and clean up, which in fact sounded remarkably like a rehash of previous ground breaking plans.

What this article did however was spark a conversation between my wife and I regarding Graffiti and art. Surprisingly we agreed that in the main genuine graffiti inspired art was in fact worthy of public display and as valid as cubism, Pollock’s Blue Poles that hangs in the National Gallery or any other art style that over the years has inspired debate. Now one of the glaringly obvious differences’ is that the art (graffiti) is applied to public and private buildings etc often without permission, the other of course is the tagging etc that is included in the genre. To me this is just defacing something that doesn’t belong to the tagger for reasons that seem a little akin to a male cat spraying to mark its territory.

Some of the genuine art is so very clever, especially when you consider that these murals are completed with spray cans. Now when I use a spray can I get covered, and so does everything within a ten foot radius.

This morning I went looking for graffiti of both styles around the lovely Burleigh Heads and found to my delight that there was a great deal of Imaginative art and very little vandalistic tagging. By the way all these images were taken with the Nikon D700 with the cheap but brilliant 50mm 1.8, I just love this little lens, it makes you think and move.

Thanks to all for taking the time to read this little blog and look at the images displayed. A happy and safe New Year to all and your families and I look forward to sharing blogs next year.


Stepping outside the box……………..

14 Nov

Those of you that have read this blog before know that I shoot people..mostly. Models, kids, everyday Joes’, this is the genre for me. I have even started taking an interest in weddings #@!%#@ !!!!!..yep, now that a more editorial style is becoming popular and moving away from the 5 or 6 standard poses, its starting to be a bit creative. People like Sue Bryce, Paul Mac and JM Tran are really pushing into new and fun territory. Even Nathan and the guys from Dreamspace productions are getting involved.

So from what you have just read you are now expecting to see an image from a wedding, a cake, shoes or a cutesy wedding ring with heart shadow..wrong, what this post is about is stepping out of the comfort zone, trying something new. From my last post you will see that I have also played with seascapes (arrgh, harder than I thought). Well today folks I will present a faux HDR of a construction project, faux because I haven’t invested in the program as yet. I have shown this image and others like it to a few commercial would be clients recently and almost to a man they have expressed interest in having at least some of this style in their commercial advertising material. I haven’t signed anybody up for it yet, but I strongly believe in perseverance , bug them enough and they will give in just to shut me up. If nothing else it made me look at a pile of steel in a different way. I wonder what an ebony model in a silver catsuit would look like in this, umm……………

Seascape photography…….bloody hard work!!

13 Nov

Those of you that know me realise that I subscribe to the photographic persuasion that believes “if the subject doesn’t have eyes, its boring”. Well soon to be stunned reader, I let you into a revelation, Seascape photography is complex, difficult and anything but boring. The waves don’t stand still, they refuse to take direction, they will not reset because the photographer would like to change angle. Then there is the lighting, you can’t move light modifiers to suit a new composition and try placing a flag or gobo on the rapidly rising sun. Sure there are clouds to help soften or spread the light, but lets face it they drift around aimlessly anyway.

If these issues’ weren’t enough to deal with, no sooner do you set your tripod up on wet sand but it starts to sink, or, and this happened to me just the other day, a particularly devilish wave sneaks up while you are adjusting settings with the sole intention of testing the water tight integrity of the mighty Nikon…not funny, Poseidon . Then just as you are getting comfy with the ever-changing environment,  you realise that settings are changing faster than the incoming tide and you require at least 5 more stops of filter to compensate for the sun frying your sensor.

So you get a few shots, pack up your gear, wash your tripod in fresh water  and then download your images to the Mac only to find…….lets see, umm mediocre at best. This seascape thing, whilst still not my passion, is no doddle. You cannot just take a point and shoot to a pretty location and bingo, have a hangable masterpiece, no this genre takes practice, dedication and perhaps a degree of insomnia. One of the masters of this art form here in Queensland , William from Liquid Boulevard, said to me only two days ago,” If you’re not on the beach by 3.45am, your too late”, OMG !!

The plus side beside the chance to record some stunning emerging light, is that this genre gets you outside taking in the natural wonders that are on our doorstep here on the sunny ( at about 4.15am ) Gold Coast, I have to say though I kept thinking “wouldn’t a raven haired model wrapped in golden silk look good on that rock”,  sorry I still like eyes……………

Its a hard life (not)………

5 Nov

When a designer says ” do you think you would have time to do some shots of some of my designs for a magazine editorial?’, I have to say it doesn’t take long to reply yes!!.

The logistics of these style of shoots can blow all out of proportion to the end result, but for this shoot for award-winning designer Nerina Battaglia, it was easy. Her design office is located one street back from Gold Coast party central, Caville Ave, in an 18 story building with two pool decks,nice!! With the setting sun as a backdrop for the first part of the shoot, mother nature provided a colourful canvas. Using only two Nikon SB600s as fill we managed to capture both the amazing detail of Nerinas workmanship and the beautiful display that so often is provided at sunset here on the Gold Coast of Queensland.

The awesome ability of Olivia from Warpaint Make Up meant that by the time we had relocated to the lower pool deck opposite the Hard Rock Cafe, our South Australian model Sheree had a complete clothing change and new make up applied. Never underestimate the importance of a great make up artist, not only do they do the make up but their ever critical eye can pick up all the faults that take so long in post production to fix. All too soon, thanks to the great team we had, the shoot was over, and I was left realising that, taking pictures with great Nikon products surrounded by talented, enthusiastic people in one of the world most beautiful locations isn’t so bad. It’s a hard life, not!   

History surrounds us…..

1 Nov

In this very young nation, we tend as a whole, to be focussed on looking forward and only remembering snippets of our short colonisation history.

Older countries such as England or Italy revere their past, and even the good ‘ole USA pays homage to the early settlers with much more fanfare than here in Oz. The older city’s of our great nation have monuments dotted around and some truly wonderful examples of colonial architecture. But one area that we tend to shun is cemeteries. These are archeological sites where no digging (creepy) is required.

Overseas’ it is seen as quite normal to make a wax rubbing of a persons headstone, whether they be famous, infamous or that the headstone is unusual. Here in Australia, there are only a handful of groups that participate in this art of recording the past. I am aware that there are only a relative few famous headstones that can be viewed or rubbed, however there are small, obscure grave sites dotted all over the wide brown land, and they tell stories of hardship, boom and bust and diversity. Next time you’re in the country and you see a small grave site, take a five minute break and have a look. It’s not disrespectful, after all your just stopping by to say gidday.

The following image was taken in a relocated cemetery near the Qld/NSW border that had been moved for the construction of the freeway. Headstones in this location dated as far back as 1824, a long time in our short history

Fairies in the forest……..

23 Oct

I had the pleasure of working with Shay, a young model with great attitude and ability, on a fairies in the forest themed shot. I always think to myself that a lot of these style of shoots are at best cliché, and more often than not just plain bad, so it was with a far bit of trepidation that I undertook this project. But as I worked through the logistics’ of the concept, it occurred to me that I was stepping out of the comfort zone yet again. No air-conditioned, light controlled studio environment, oh no gentle reader, this was location at its worst time. Almost midday on a very typical sunny Gold Coast day, what clouds there were took one look at the Nikon D700 and floated away south over the border leaving me with full sun and incredibly hard reflections. We set up under the most substantial corpse of trees we could find, and proceeded to erect and test the four speedlights, triggers, gels, diffusers and got down to establishing our settings, etc.

Of course the make up and hair stylist knew I would need a little extra time to get the test shots and waited just long enough to bring the model to the set, we proceeded to place her into the pre-tested location and bingo…..second shot of the day and there were smiles all round. The moral, know your gear, be able to produce results regardless of the conditions and be ready to work. When todays client said when will the images be ready, a look of amazement crossed her face when I replied tomorrow. Here’s the key, test shots to establish settings, compose in the camera and only take enough images to satisfy the brief. Once loaded into the digital darkroom of your choice, your time to complete the project will be reduced greatly. A previous AIPP POTY winner said anything more than a minute or two in post production per image is too long…Bravo!!

Now the following image did take a little longer than a minute or two to process, however this was really only due to the need to remove the ladder that the model was standing on, Lighting, exposure and composition hardly altered from the RAW file.

Real Glamour……

22 Oct

Those of us in the photography game (and it truly is a game), see advertisements for glamour shoots all the time. Heavily discounted, some as low as $50.00 including make up and simple hair styling. Targeted at a certain demographic usually, these studios in the main have 5 or 6 poses and styles, use the same lighting every time and then charge huge amounts for the finished product weeks later. If this is what your heart desires then great, however I truly believe that most women given correct lighting, creative direction, costuming that doesn’t make them feeling uncomfortable to the point of being embarrassed have the ability to be glamorous. Hollywood got it right in the thirties and forties, great lighting is the key and then add a little softness and you have real glamour. Copious amounts of bare flesh is not glamour, although in the right setting it can be glamorous but that is a whole different genre.


Iconic Australian Landscapes……..

17 Oct

So, the make up artist is booked, costumes are organised and the locations checked for sun position etc and the model get sick!. Too late to cast a new model, and besides the poor girl can’t help being ill and she is perfect for the concept. The dilemma I face is that I now have an intense need to make some pictures. The sun is shining and my first thought is go to the beach, get some photojournalistic stuff, there is always something happening. But by chance the traffic is already heavy in that direction so I head into the Gold Coasts stunning and under publicised hinterland. This the world of “Terra Nova”(, cycads and dinosaur type landscape, creeks and waterfalls at every twist in the road. This is so far removed from the bright lights and bikinis of Surfer Paradise and yet it is only 20 minutes drive. As I drive further up one of the valleys there large rocky outcrops and sheer escarpments on both sides, and I can only wonder what sort of landscape photographers nirvana lies hidden behind the vines and ferns. I’m not alone on this twisty road, a peloton of middle-aged lycra clad cyclists have found this peaceful and scenic route ideal for their sunday jaunt and no doubt will stop at a peaceful and charming coffee shop to get their fill of Lattes and scones before riding home. Armed only with my Nikon D5000 and the terrific, versatile 18-200 DX VR, I shoot some of the landscape, more than anything to add to the location file for later shoots. The road eventually becomes a track and then nothing and I am forced to turn around, however when I get out the car to shoot the following scene, my senses’ are assaulted by the smells of steamy and humid tropical rainforest, fetid yet incredibly clean aromas that are such a contrast to the smells of the Pacific ocean only twenty minutes away. On your next holiday or outing to the Gold Coast do the ‘worlds’, Cavill Mall and Surfers but also spend some time up in the hinterland, you wont regret it.This image was converted to “Water Colour” in Photoshop and is available for sale in various sizes printed on canvas.

FIFO…not a dogs name

14 Oct

I know I have said many times that Australia is the lucky country..and it is, however one of the greater social implications of the being the lucky country is our reliance on the mining industry. Now before anybody  gets up in arms and I get hate mail or fan mail depending on which side of the green debate you support, I will make it quite clear that myself and my family have benefitted directly from participating in mining. The pay is great, and no one with a family can help but be tempted by the lure of a high level of both financial freedom and job security. Turn up, do your job and the company will ensure that you are safe, well fed and clothed and paid handsomely .

Now here comes the rub…you see it’s the turn up part that tests the way we live and the way families interact. Dad or mum, gets in a taxi, goes to the airport then flys away ( sometimes crossing the country) and then stays away for extended periods of time. Some rosters have their workers away for a month and return them home fatigued and  socially mal-aligned  for everyday society for a week. They take a day to get over the work rotation and travel, then have five days to cram in a months normality, then spend a day returning to the coal face ( no pun intended ).

Rates of family breakdown are high within these workgroups and those that make a good go out of it are realistic enough to understand that the time away can never be recovered.  Listening to your child describe an exciting event over the phone just isn’t the same as being there. The interesting things is that these FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out ) workers form little like-minded groups. Of course there is the so-called “Aussie drinking culture” . But when you stand back and look at who is involved it’s usually the hard-core oldies or the very young and new, lots of money for the first time and no mum or dad to tell them when to go to bed. Then there are the fitness fanatics, and I use that word kindly, they have time to kill and keeping fit keeps them away from the bar. A few study and a few play music.

These blokes were sitting around playing some R & B classics, having a quiet drink and a laugh. All of them would rather be home, but as they say no jobs back home, or that they want to give their kids every opportunity in life, I understand, I really do, but I can’t help feeling that not only do these husbands and fathers miss out on so much, but also their families are not as well off as they think because of the long periods of separation. This might be a case where being the lucky country comes at a cost. Next time you are at the airport and see a bunch of miners or construction workers in their distinctive hi-viz reflective clothing and safety boots, don’t just envy them for their high income, also remember the heavy cost it comes at.

PS. The colour cast of the above image is caused by the covers on the accommodation blocks fluorescent  lights that don’t attract insects… much!!


World Record Bikini Parade…

2 Oct

Queensland’s sunny Surfers Paradise confirmed the “paradise” tag today when the new world record was attempted for the number of beautiful girls in a bikini parade. Setting out from the Surfers Paradise Surf Life Saving Club, the collection of tanned, toned and made up girls promenaded along the beach for a distance of 1.6 kms and were counted through a stage/runway to the cheers of the thousands of people who had turned out on this glorious day. Not only had all these lovely girls given their time to attempt the record, but they had also paid $25.00 to register for the event.

All the money raised was then donated in full to the wonderfully dedicated people at the Surfers Paradise Surf Life Saving Club. These funds will be put to great use protecting the thousands of people who yearly flock to this iconic stretch of sand.

A big thanks to the girls for posing for photos, and a huge pat on the back for the organisers for making it all happen.

Now did the record get broken, well no, it got smashed, 332 bikini clad maidens were required and in true Aussie spirit, 357 girls of Queensland strutted their stuff. Well done all, great fun, great location and a very worthy cause.