Monday, September 3, 2012

Envrionmental Portraiture in Cairns

  There's a little known secret about travel photography - many of its practitioners earn part of their living from other areas of the business. It may be writing, it may be teaching and leading photo tours or it may be working in other areas of photography as well.

In my case I write a little, teach a little and have the great pleasure in creating dynamic portraits of some really amazing people here in Cairns for both editorial and commercial clients.

Over the years one of my favourite clients has been James Cook University. Not only are the assignments often a photographic challenge - eg illustrate a postgraduate student studying terrorism! - but they give me the opportunity to meet some really interesting people.

One such lady was the amazing Jennie Gilbert. Jennie runs the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre out on Fitzroy Island, just off Cairns, and is also studying her post-graduate at JCU. She's just about to officially open a brand new facility over on the island, and in the meantime I had the opportunity to photograph her at a makeshift facility in the port area of Cairns.

The biggest challenge here was visual. The turtles live in big plastic tanks under a green shade cloth, surrounded by a lot of debris as they were packing up to move house! So we couldn't shoot wide because we would get all that stuff in that photo. The other challenge was it was very bright outside and very dark under the shade cloth. So in order to have Jennie appear nice and bright whilst still showing some sky in the background we needed to set up lights.

In this case I used a nice big shoot--through umbrella with a Canon Speedlite shot through it. I usually use TTL but my infrared trigger wasn't working too well in the bright sun. Enter my super-duper long TTL cord. It runs about 7.5 metres and I use it outside all the time.

We had to work quickly and efficiently so the turtle didn't get too stressed at being out of the tank. On this shoot I got to take my boys along as well and they were so impressed at being able to hold a turtle. I'll let you know when the Fitzroy Island site is up and running - it should be fantastic!