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

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fantastic FNQ photo Friday

Here in Cairns we're right in the middle of the annual Cairns Show. Some people call it a carnival, some a fair. Whatever you call it it's a fun place filled with animals, rides, showbags and lots of sugar-filled treats.

The Friday is always a local public holiday and thousands turn out to enjoy the day. In fact it's Australia's largest regional Show and a photographer's paradise.

The hardest thing about photographing the show is having enough equipment to be able to cover all kinds of lighting conditions without weighing yourself down so much that you can't walk! This image was taken late at night using a slow shutter to give that blurred effect, followed by a short, sharp burst of flash to freeze the motion of the people on the ride. Which means that I carried a tripod around all day. No way you can get out of it I'm afraid! This image was featured in the Australian Society of Travel Writers' annual calendar a couple of years back and is one of my favourite pics from one of my favourite events.

My boys will probably be up at the crack of dawn raring to go. You see they came with me the other day to wait around while I judged the photographic competition. None of the rides or anything were set up but the show bags were being laid out and they saw the Super Mario Bros. one and that's all I've heard about every since!

I've judged the photographic competition at the Cairns Show a few times over the years and it's always a great pleasure to get together with a couple of colleagues and express our (often vocal) opinions on which images deserve a gong. This year was no different and my fellow judges Frank Harrison and John Cornwell were great fun to judge with. Frank's a nature photographer so he had strong opinions on that section, me being the travel photographer became pretty opinionated when any image was taken overseas, and John is an expert in portrait photography.

At the end of the day when it comes down to the top few places it's pretty much always subjective. It's not really the judge's job to say categorically whether one photograph is better than another, just which one appeals to them more. So just because you don't get first with one set of judges doesn't mean you won't with another set.

I noticed something about the way I viewed the photographs this year. I've always been a sucker for sharpness in photographs. For me photographers like John Shaw with his rock-solid technique and razor sharp images have always been something to aspire to. So I found it interesting this year that I tended to be attracted to those which struck an emotion with me first and foremost, and very often that was the picture that was quite soft.

I also gravitated to those taken in beautiful light, which is something that has always been appealing to me. I don't care how spectacular a beach is, if you shoot it in the middle of the day it's just not going to appeal to me. Get up before sunrise and show me some spectacular light though and I'll sit up and pay attention.

If you go along to the Cairns Show pop into the photo competition and you can see which ones we liked. It would be great to hear if you agree with us or not.


Frank Harrison said...

It was a good way to spend a Sunday morning Paul!

I was there the day after the show to face the exhibitors ire "Why didn't I win?" & help others by giving kind & constructive critique to create confidence for next year.

You will be amazed to learn that the lady who entered the stunning dragonfly images that all 3 of us were blown away by, said that she was not going to enter them as she didn't think they were worthy of gracing the Cairns Show!

It was a wonderful feeling to put the wind in her sails & I'm sure she will indeed grace the show again next year.

Once again Paul thanks for continuing this superb blog, one of the few, truly worth 100% of it's salt on the web.

Frank "The Untouchable" Harrison
(The Elliott Ness of photography judging!)

Paul Dymond said...

Hey Frank,

I can't think of a better person to be there to help the entrants understand where their pictures fell down, or to praise them when they scored well. And so great to hear that the dragonfly lady was so happy to have won - a well deserved effort to be sure. Looking forward to catching up again soon.