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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Timing can make all the difference

If you live in a part of the world that's pretty monotone - think white snow, red sand, yellow canola fields - the challenge can be to introduce some contrast into the image.

Here in far north Queensland our colour of choice is green. As you can see from this image we have no problem finding green things to put in our pictures. What we do have though, is trouble finding other colours to put into our compositions to jazz things up a bit.

This is where a bit of patience comes in handy. I took this picture at a place called the Daintree Discovery Centre. I was on assignment for Lonely Planet working on a project to photograph various places in this part of the world for a Qantas in-flight touch screen guidebook.

The centre is in the heart of the beautiful Daintree rainforest and has an amazing walkway through the treetops as well as a tower that looks down from above the rainforest canopy to the walking tracks below.

The problem though is that from up above everything is pretty much the same colour. Impressive with the naked eye, not so good in a tiny picture. Added to that, even on a cloudy day the light levels on the ground are a lot lower than the treetops. So if you expose properly for the upper leaves the ground - and the wooden walking trails - are too dark to register properly. So to show that there's a place where you can walk you need some people. Not just any people mind you - people that stand out enough that you can see straight away what they are. Tiny, dark pin pricks in a corner of a wide-angle shot that you can hardly notice won't do it.

This is where a rainy day comes in handy because the tourists grab their umbrellas. Not everyone mind you. It took fifteen minutes of waiting before somebody (not 1 but 2 people at the same time!) came along with the right paraphernalia. Thank goodness one was yellow because if they'd both had green in them the shot would have been a dud. I kind of wish one had been red but when you leave everything to chance you have to take what you can get.

So when you have a lot of only one colour and you've exhausted your monotone photographs wait around for something different to come into view. How long will you have to wait? That's anybody's guess. Maybe it's time to work on that Law of Attraction theory. :)


Liz Welch. said...

Hi Paul,
Wish that my camera work was so clear.Camera settings send me nuts.I seem to rush out,take pics and find I'm on the wrong settings and everything turns out terrible.
I keep trying lol.
Liz Welch.

Paul Dymond said...

Hi there Liz,

ah the old camera settings. To tell you the truth it's best to forget them most of the time! Once you've done that you just need to learn one at a time until you really understand it and can control it automatically. Then when you get to that stage it's time to learn the next setting. Don't try and learn it all at once because it's just too overwhelming!

Love your site by the way