Category Archives: Blog
Empress Falls, Blue Mountains
This stream runs from the spill off of the Valley of Waters Creek. Taking millions of years to cut a narrow canyon (now known as Empress Canyon, it is now popular for abseiling) through the upper layers of the Blue Mountains Sandstone to end up here at Empress Falls where the water spills 30 meters from the gorge and into a deep pool, surrounded by fern-filled ledges.
Empress Falls was the 2nd waterfall along the 9km Wentworth Falls circuit. It was a tough downhill trail with an even tougher uphill stair climb that reaches inclines of up to 60degress. Your legs will be burning with lactic acid as you climb up the steep stairs up the side of a waterfall, but with every step you take you remind yourself to hold on to the rail or you could fall backwards very easily down 70m to your death.
While taking this shot, a well-built shirtless man in shorts and sneakers was jogging past, as I waited for him to clear the scene, I realised that he could be running around the same trail that my friend and I were hiking which I thought was pretty impressive! And this inspired me to run this trail one day. I think it would be awesome to run through these wonderful scenes and breath in the forest air while getting a punishing workout!
Behind the image
This is actually 3 horizontal images stitched together to make 1 image. This was due to the fact that I broke my wide angle lens on another expedition, and had to rely on my Sigma 30mm during this trip to the Blue Mountains. Fitted onto my Canon 50D, I had to take a lot of multiple shots to fit in these epic waterfalls and landscapes. Not only does this take up more room on the memory card, but I would later have to stitch up these images which was a long process. But frankly, I enjoy the whole process of seeing it come together. And it ends up making my images a higher resolution (more megapixels), with more detail due to the multiple shots.
After stitching this image up, I played with the perspective of the image to get more depth and visual aesthetic.
Then converted it into black and white in Photoshop, while paying attention to the tones, I burned (darkened) some of the shadows to highlight and focus the eye on the waterfall.
Here is the first part of the “Fitness spirit” photo shoot. The theme is holistic training, where cross-fitness meets spiritual development. This segment shows the scenes of stillness, serenity, joy, inner reflection and soft exercise.
The model for this shoot was the lovely Nadine Groat. She radiates inner and outer beauty and also trains holistically.
The resulting shoot was at Cronulla Beach in south-east Sydney on a quiet Saturday. What started off as a nice sunny day became over cast with the sun behind the clouds. We were hoping to have a golden sun-set but the weather didn’t hold up and it got dark quickly. I added abit of warmth on the images to fake some sun light and pushed the editing abit extreme to experiment with how far I can push an image to suit my original vision. Anyways, its just abit of muckin around in the early days and still evolving my photography and editing tastes and practices.
Just completed a super fun ‘no-pressure’ head-shots and early rehearsal photo session tonight for the musical production of Disney’s Mulan JR. presented by The Regals Musical Society. Promo shoots and dress-rehearsal shoots coming up soon. So excited to see the show in February!
Venue and datesThe show will be at held at Bexley RSL (24 Stoney Creek Rd. Bexley, NSW) on February 14th, 15th, 21st and 22nd at 8pm AND February 16 at 2pm.
About Mulan Jr.
Directed by Heather Riley | Musical Direction by Belinda Robinson | Choreography by Tracy Reid
Travel back to the legendary, story-telling days of ancient China with this action-packed stage adaptation of Disney’s Mulan. The Huns have invaded and it is up to the misfit Mulan and her mischievous sidekick Mushu to save the Emperor! Disney’s MULAN JR. is a heart-warming celebration of culture, honour and a fighting spirit. The score includes favourites like ‘Reflection’, Honour to us all’, and ‘I’ll make a man out of you’ as well as new songs that will get the audience up on its feet (*info sourced from the show’s flyer).
Book your tickets at The Regals website or on 0449 REGALS (734257).
Here’s a sneak peak.
Life in the fast lane
This image conveys the rapid urban development, emerging middle-class (with more income and prosperity), and the Americanization of the Chinese culture.
This particular street, named Wangfujing, meaning “Prince’s Mansion well” (after a sweet tasting water well was unearthed during the construction of ten aristocratic estates and a prince’s residence in the Qing Dynsasty- 1644 to 1912), is Beijing’s most famous shopping street that is located in a downtown district of Dongchen, dating back to the mid-Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) the markets, commerce and other consumer activities have been conducted in this area for centuries. It is only about one block long but consists of many large and small stores, consisting of Beijing’s most prominent brands (around 280) and many international brands.
There is also a section that is dedicated to food and snacks, with many street stalls and restaurants crammed together serving common and exotic street food such as fried scorpion, meat kebabs, desserts and candied fruits on a stick.
In the past this street was known to English-speaking foreigners as Morrison Street (named after the Australian journalist George Ernest Morrison – another interesting story).
It used to be a street for vehicles to travel through, but since 1999, much of it has been pedestrianized. The hustle and bustle never seems to stop here, open and busy during the day but much more alive during the night with the bright lights and more locals and tourists out to eat and shop.
Creating this Panoramic Photo
Captured using the Canon 50D with a Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens, mounted on a Benro carbon-fiber tripod and remotely triggered to capture four separate long exposures to create one seamless photo using Photoshop. Not much post-editing was required, as I like the way my Canon camera renders colorful night scenes, so I just boosted the sharpness and contrast a little.
Would have been easier to do this with a landscape lens but my Tokina 11-16mm broke before my trip to Asia and was under repair. So for all the landscape shots requiring a wider perspective, I had to make-do with the Sigma 30mm (which has a 50mm perspective) during 90% of my Asia trip, shooting multiple images to stitch up later on the computer. A very time-consuming task!
I’m glad that my images turned out OK, considering the difficulties. I certainly learned a lot about composition with a prime 50mm lens and also improved my understanding of making panoramic images.
Temple of Heaven
Built in Beijing in the 1420’s during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) for the emperors of both Ming and Qing (1644 – 1911) Dynasties to hold Heaven worship ceremonies.
Only recently in 1988 did the government authorities open it up to the public to revel the ancient philosophy, history and religion of this old civilisation.
The complex is 2.7 million square meters, bigger than the 740,000 square meter Forbidden City (where the Emperors resided) because the Emperors were seen as the “Sons of Heaven” therefore they were prevented from building any dwelling for themselves that was bigger than the Temple of Heaven Complex.
This main temple, is surrounded by other fantastic monuments such as the Circular Mound Altar, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.
The design is semi-circular in the north and square in the south, this symbolizes Heaven as a circle and Earth as a square, and the former is always elevated higher than the latter. Which reminds me of the Hermetic maxim of “As above, so below”.
Creating this Pano
This image is made up of 7 hand-held vertical images taken on my Canon 50D with a super-sharp Sigma 30mm F1.4 prime lens. Originally I had used ‘bracketing’ mode to shoot 3 exposures per shot but I just stitched together the normally exposed shots in Photoshop CS6 to create this image. After some fiddling, I did experiment with making the HDR version, but it didn’t look as good or realistic, with a lot of ‘ghosting’ where the people were moving in the shot. It would have taken too much time in post-processing so I abandoned it to work on this pano. It wasn’t a very contrasty day requiring high dynamic range so the normal exposures were fine, I did however have to brighten the shadows on the temple to bring out the details while sharpening and tone-mapping the overall image.
There was one major optical obstacle to overcome such as a guard rail in the foreground that I wanted to remove because it posed as a distraction, this tested my healing brush and clone-stamp technique in Photoshop.
Purchase your own copy of this panoramic image and many others at my Stock image page.
This couples photo shoot took 3.5 hours with Maddy May and her friend Jacob. We endured high winds and sand-blasting at Balmoral beach located in North Sydney. My eyes, ears, hair and pockets copped most of the sand and my models did really well to carry on to get the shoot done. While my poor camera and lenses are gonna need a good cleaning and some TLC.
Thankfully the weather was fantastic and the late afternoon sun was just divine, especially during the golden hour. There were many locations in the area that made perfect backdrops for a romantic couples photo shoot, with much more I need to go back and discover. A big thank you to Maddy May and Jacob Duque for giving me the opportunity, and also to Karen (Maddy’s mum) and Carina Jager for being very patient while accompanying them and providing moral support with added critiques. Lovely to meet and spend the time with you guys, it was good fun!
Enjoy our couples photo album and hopefully you get some great couples photography ideas. Please get in contact with me to set up a couples photo shoot through my Contact page.
Blue Haze at Blue Hour
It’s twilight (aka blue hour) and as the sun sets off to one side of the horizon, darkness begins to takeover, and a blue mist lingering over the valley becomes more visible.
This phenomenon is where the Blue Mountains receives it’s name, and is caused by the oil bearing eucalyptus trees releasing fine droplets of eucalyptus oil mixed with dust particles and water vapour.
Standing at a lookout in Wentworth Falls, off to the distance we can see Mount Solitary. It is surrounded by Jamison Valley to the left and Narrow Neck Plateau to the right.
Jane Bronwyn and I met at a previous collaborative photo-shoot where we captured some themed glamour shots for her Everchange clothing line and to improve our portfolios along with a few other designers, models and hair and makeup artists (See my previous Day of the Dead [Dia de los Muertos] post). She had recently asked me to photograph her new ‘Artistic Dimensions’ collection, I was honoured and grateful for the opportunity to say the least. In my humble opinion, her creative designs are an infusion ranging from raw, gritty but glamorous and chic with a bit retro and contemporary (See the Everchange collections here). Photographing her designs are fun and interesting, they are stylish and look fantastic in real-life and on camera/computer.
The photo-shoot took place at the White House Institute of Design using their white-walled industrial-chic style catwalk room as a studio and then later on we went for a short walk (painful for the models, who were in high heals) outside for some location shots in the late afternoon sun. We settled on a location that had a lush wall of climbing evergreen plants. The wall made an interesting back drop for the models to do their thing.
Setup and gear
I got to use different light sources and locations to achieve different looks for the 4 gorgeous models and their ‘Artistic Dimensions’ outfits. All of the shots in the studio used natural light for back (rim) light mixed with the indoor cool-white lamps, while the outdoor shots needed a reflector to bounce the late afternoon sun to fill-light onto the models.
My one and only Canon 50D was the weapon of choice, with the battery-grip (which is always on there), it was in-valuable because of all the portrait-oriented shots I required to take, and made it much more convenient for setting the manual controls. The lenses I brought along were the Canon 16-35mm F2.8L and my Canon 70-200mm but the 16-35mm stayed on the camera the whole time because I was doing alot of full-body shots and didn’t have enough space to use the 70-200mm (112-320mm on cropped camera) nor the time to change lenses because we were on a tight schedule and I wanted to keep the shots consistent.
On-camera and wireless off-camera speed-lights were used but I wasn’t too successful with those shots as they cast undesirable harsh shadows and I preferred the softer natural and available light, opting to raise the ISO for the indoor shots.
During the outdoor shoot, the sun was behind the evergreen wall, therefore casting a shadow and requiring the reflector to bounce the late afternoon sun onto the subjects. While I was doing the shooting, we had a volunteer assistant (one of the model’s friends) hold up the reflector for me. we tried the silver side and the effect was too metalic and shiny, then we tried the white side and it was unnoticeable, because where my assistant had to hold the reflector was too far away to light up the subjects. Eventually I chose to use the gold side as this gave a rich warm-colour cast onto the green leaves and models skin. At times the effect of the colour cast was too strong and made the post-editing process a bit longer. This required desaturating some yellow and orange colours from the overall image to balance out the tones.
You can see that I have chosen a few different post-editing styles to showcase my diverse skill set, from contemporary editorial to classic black and white. Some colour accenting black and white shots were used too, but I’m not sure if the client will like it. I really like all the styles presented here. And it will be up to the client to let me know which style I should do for all of them, or make some adjustments or simply keep them the way they are.
Designer: Everchange by Jane Bronwyn
Models: Katrina-Leigh Beasley, Rebecca Marie Zetterlund and Jasmine Hilder.
Melbourne Cup is an annual horse racing event in Australia, one that is so heavily invested in that it is touted as ‘a day that stops the nation’. Bars, clubs, hotels, workplaces and houses televised it, I personally could care less about gambling, horse racing and the getting caught in the hype. But watching and capturing the moments and reactions of those that did have some investment in this event made me excited too. It was contagious!
A spectrum of emotions experienced ranging from anxious anticipation to elation and celebration. The room was certainly alive and filled with cheer during the main race.
While most patrons lost their bets, some won their money back or made a little more, only 2 patrons picked the winning race horse and lots of loot.
Because The Vault Hotel is located in the CBD of Sydney. The patrons consisted of business people. The Vault Hotel had put on a special event for nearby organisations to have work functions and the women got dressed up, wearing their cocktail dresses, big, bright and bold hats and luscious red lipstick. Lunch was catered for while the races were projected onto the wall for the spectators. There was around 7 large groups while walk-in patrons turned up later towards the start of main race.
Because of the nature of the work functions, a lot of people didn’t want their photos taken. Nor did I want to interrupt them during their lunches. Some groups snuck-out of work and didn’t want their incriminating photos taken and posted on The Vault’s website for the fear of their bosses catching them out later.
This was a challenge for me because there were times I felt like a pest and I also didn’t want to dampen the patrons experience at The Vault, but I also needed to do my job, so I resorted to subtle candid and posed shots of the groups that allowed me to take pictures of them. After the main race had finished and the crowd was hyped up from cheering and celebrating, they were more open to photos.
What I took away from this experience is that a lot of times you will get rejected in these environments, people are a bit camera-shy during the day (or during work hours) and just want to enjoy their time out without the paparazzi invading their space (and that’s completely understandable), whereas in night events, people start the night camera-shy but after having a few drinks, they usually can’t get enough time in front of the camera!
You just have to shoot what you can without upsetting anyone.
A note on the gear used for this event: I packed very light because I knew it was going to be crowded so moving around with a backpack was not feasible. I took my trusty ‘gripped’ Canon 50D, a Canon 16-35mm f2.8L lens and an on camera Oloong SB690 speedlight packed into my medium Lowepro Toploader Pro AW 70 holster bag. In hindsight, I could’ve used my Canon 70-200mm for even better candid shots.