Friday, February 25, 2011
One of my longest and favourite clients is James Cook University. They always seem to come up with these amazing lecturers and researchers to photograph and send me out there to do my thing.
A morning out on the ocean with jellyfish researcher Matt Gordon was one of those assignments. The sun was out, the ocean was glassy calm and Palm Cove was looking like paradise on earth. Only we were just off the beach scouring the pristine waters for deadly box jellyfish. A total contrast if ever there was one.
Jellyfish are a fact of life in the tropics during our wet season. You definitely don't ever want to be stung by one, but these guys catch them on a regular basis so they can study them to find out more about them, and possible ways to cure people once stung.
So my job was to follow Matt and photograph him while he worked. My aim was to show the serious nature of the work, highlight the scientific equipment they used and provide images for the marketing department to promote the great work they're doing.
But I also wanted to show the environment. I'm big on environmental portraiture. I love to show the surroundings that shape a person's work and life. So when we were cruising up the beautiful coastline it was a no-brainer to contrast a serious looking Matt, looking for box jellyfish, with the beautiful tropical scenery in front of us.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
The rest of the sky can be totally clear and there'll be a great big cloud right in front blocking the sun coming through. Or maybe that's only on the days when I get up early!
Either which way it completely changes the way you want to photograph at this time of the day. When the sun is nice and clear and shining beautiful light on the beach where I'm standing (and it's usually a beach - what can I say!) then I often reach for the wide-angle lens.
But when it's cloudy like this then usually the area where I'm standing is just really ordinary. There's no golden light, no nice long shadows. Just plain ol' ugly, boring light.
And that's when I reach for the telephoto lens - the longer the better. Because often all the action is happening way out on the horizon. Even if the sun is hidden behind the clouds you often find it sending shafts of light down over the water. Lots of beautiful light in the sky, just none close to where I'm standing. And because of the huge range of contrast between the sky and the ocean, it often turns a really dark shade - almost black - allowing you to create some really graphic compositions.
So if you're up this way on holiday and disappointed because it's a cloudy sunrise - consider it par for the course and reach for the telephoto lens.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
I have a general rule about donating my photography. I only do it for groups whose cause I passionately believe in, and everybody else working on the project has to be doing it for free as well.
A lot of charities have budgets and can afford to pay for quality photography. Indeed if they don't pay for the best they don't get fantastic images which help them bring in much-needed donations. But there are small, local charities run by volunteers who need all the help they can get. And seeing as I'm not a particular expert on tropical frog diseases I figured a great way to help out would be to donate some time to go in and photograph sick frogs.
This shot is one of the only ones I have that doesn't show yucky diseases (well visually yucky anyway). This images shows a normal, healthy frog on the right versus the small, yellow frog on the left which has an unknown infliction which causes it to go this colour and impeded its growth.
It was taken at the office of the Frog Decline Reversal Project which very conveniently happens to be just down the road from my house. I'd read about them over the years and knew they did great work and so I gave them a call to see how I could help. Turns out they don't really need pretty pictures of frogs for advertising but they do need someone with a knowledge of off-camera flash techniques to highlight symptoms of the diseases they've been discovering.
So now I go in every few weeks and photograph new cases for them, which all contributes to them being able to share their knowledge with scientists all around the world and help cure the frogs. Pretty pictures? Not by a long shot. Make me feel good to be able to help someone? Without a doubt.
So if you're feeling a bit lost with your photography and not really sure what to point your camera at then why not consider helping somebody who could really use it. You'll hone your skills and generate some good karma all at the same time.