Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jindabyne (Day 4)

Had a nature imposed camera ban today. It was blue skies and sunny in the town, but the mountains had disappeared behind a white curtain which meant only one thing, snow! Sure enough, when we got there the car park was white and it was pelting down. Left the camera in the car and snowboarded for 5 hours straight. As it's still early in the season, the cover is a mixture of favourable powder in parts and unforgiving ice in others. At one point I was coming round a section, just in time to have Jayden come flying off a ledge and land right on top of me, sending us both cartwheeling down the hill. The lifts were empty due to the weather, and there were no lines, so we did a lot in 5 hours, and by early afternoon we were spent and heading back early. Snapped the above pic just outside of town, where the bad weather was meeting the sunshine. What the pic doesn't show is the whiteout behind me, and the fact that the wind was blowing so hard that there were little waves in the lake. At midday we reached the forecasted toasty high of -1 c on the mountain!

Jindabyne (Day 3) part B

After a full day on the mountain, I grabbed the Gary Fong Lightsphere to try it out against the setting sun on the drive down the mountain. As I suspected, it does hold it's own in providing a softer light and bigger lightsource than a normal flash. The wind was howling and the sun was goin down fast, but we pulled over on the side of the road and snapped a couple shots in a section with a thin snowcover. I used the lightsphere with the silver dome, and took all the shots in situation with backlighting, meaning that the subjects would have been silhouetted without the light from the Lightsphere.

Jindabyne (Day 3) part A

We had a bit of everything today. Got up on the moutain by 9am, and it was raining in the carpark. It soon cleared, and the sun came out. Allowing me to grab the camera, and take it down the runs with me for a bit. To many stories to tell here...enjoy the pics

Monday, June 29, 2009

Jindabyne (Day 2)

Woke to the smell of our host Anne cooking up a big breakfast. Heidi and I went to have coffee while the kids tried to kill each other (pictured) After our caffeine fix we headed to Time 2 Ride in town, where DC Shoe had organised our gear. Che and the boys there are real cool and had us decked in a jiffy, and before long we headed off in the direction of the mountains. Traveller tip: You will need a $185 pass to get your car onto the mountain for the week, but for only $5 more you can get an annual pass, which is valid for all of NSW national parks and includes a camping permit. So we got it in our own vehicle at home, then got a 7 day exemption for our hire car! On the mountain the snow was real fun and were carving down the walls of white in no time. I left my camera in the car so I could find my feet before having it on me.
Lightsphere update: Didn't use it today too much, it's pretty bulky.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jindabyne (Day 1)

We have arrived! After travelling all day, we pulled into the town of Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains at 4pm. The drive from Sydney was great, and after only a couple U turns we found ourselves here with no map and no GPS. We're staying with Anne Gray from Currumbin, who runs a beautiful lodge down here called Chamonix right in the heart of town. It's currently -2 and we're in front of the fire. For bookings ring Anne Gray on 0414341987.
Lightsphere update for all you techno wizzes; I pulled out the Lightsphere a couple times, but did find it a bit cumbersome to just whip it out, as you have to kinda strap it on etc, and it does feel stupid. My impression so far, in a confined space, i.e. indoors with a low enough ceiling to bounce a light off, doesn't really have anything over a Stofen. Outdoors I still think it can be pretty cool. It definately provides a bigger lightsource, and the amber dome can provide a real nice light against afternoon sun.
In the shots here: Interior of Car (Lightsphere with silver dome) Jayden overlooking valley (Lightsphere with Amber dome) Gloria Jeans Jindy (Lightspere with Amber dome).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Got marched off to the laundromat today. Apperently I'm responsible for us not having a dryer, and as such, if we are going away and clothes need to be packed, I have to go dry them. Go figure
I took my camera along to pass the time as I always thought laundry machines where photogenic. Am I strange?....hmmm
Anyway, all good now, warm clothes ready. Got home in time for my son and I to squeeze in one last surf out the front, then threw our clothes together for the snow.
Got a message from my good mate MC who has teed up our snowboards etc through DC Shoe. So stoked! Thanks MC and DC, drinks on me next time.
Having dinner @ Smithy's boatshed, then up at 5am to make our flight.
Next post from somewhere much colder than here. Report today says a high of -2 c. Should be fun!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who is Gary Fong and Why are you Touching His Lightsphere?

That's what I was thinking too when I heard of this thing, named, remarkably, the Gary Fong Lightsphere. Invented by, yes someone named Gary Fong.

So I'm planning this trip to the snow, a family holiday. And, self promoting nut that I am, blabbed about it to the guys at Camerasdirect.com.au. "Hey fellas, let me know if you have anything you need tested" is what I recall saying.
After sorting through the usual prank emails like "see if it's true that you really shouldn't eat yellow snow" or "try to photgraphically capture the term 'shrinkage", I got a couple geniune suggestions. One was to test out something called a Gary Fong Lightsphere. Being the self confessed lighting junkie that I am, I was secretly excited.
I gotta admit, being a bit of a nerd, I had heard of the Lightsphere. Mainly by fashion and wedding photographers. All of them would marry it and have it's babies if they could, everyone that uses one frickin loved it.
So, this is my mission. I'm gonna use it on an average family holiday, and see if has anything to offer.

My first impressions:
Appearance = As soon as I picked it up, I felt like an idiot. I looked over my shoulder to make sure noone I knew was around. Let's face it, the thing looks about as cool as pooping in your pants. It is literally tupperwear that goes over a flashgun.
Build Quality = This thing redefines the term "simple concept". The most complex thing about it is the velcro strap that is used to attach it. I hate myself for not inventing this thing.
The setup = 1 tupperware looking thing with different tops which resemble giant contraceptive devices to adjust white balance, in "amber (golden glow)" "cloud (neutral)" and "silver (no idea)".
Size = Cumbersome. Doesn't really fit in my camera bag, so dont know how I'm gonna carry it around.
Initial results = Frickin awesome! I fired off a couple frames at home on camera and want to make little brown babies with it. Really nice soft lighting, eliminates harsh shadows, and is almost impossible to overexpose...practically foolproof!
Over the next couple days, I'll be reporting on the Lightsphere, the snow, the southern Australian Alps, the ups and downs of travel and everything in between.

Bookmark this page and keep checking for updates.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

For All Creatures Great and Small

Got to shoot my good friend model Alana Brennan today. The RSPCA magazine interviewed Alana and needed a shot to go with the interview. Alana brought her dogs Ike and Saba (both originally from the RSPCA) down to the beach and we shot a couple nice natural shots. Had to get the shot today as Alana and fiance Dean Morrison fly to Brazil tomorrow early for Dean to compete in the next event of the ASP World Tour. We got lucky and in between rain squalls (pictured) we were able to get some shots.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

On the Move with a 70 - 200 2.8 Strobist Style (Part 3 of 3)

Today's stobist shot had been in my head all day. I wanted to use the flash to simulate the lighting from my laptop screen.
I used the sun as a rim light, to seperate me from the background
All you techies view the setup shot here

On the Move with a 70 - 200 2.8 (Part 2 of 3)

I you read part 1 of this series, you'll know that I have challenged myself to try using the Canon 70 - 200 2.8 ISL as a "walkaround lens" while I'm travelling in Queensland. On top of that, I've decided to make things interesting by taking a strobist shot each day with the same setup. As a wlkaround lens, it's got it pros and cons. Cons; it's heavy, and not discreet. Walking into a cafe with it you might as well be holding a bazooka. It's often too long so you have to back up a lot (if there is room). Pros: Image quality - enough said

On the Move with a 70 - 200 2.8 Photos

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On the Move with a 70 - 200 2.8 Strobist Style (Part 1 of 3)

Well, today I'm in Gladstone QLD on a work assignment. For those who don't know, Gladstone is 550 km north of Brisbane on the central coast of QLD. It's an old fishing town and the gateway to Heron Island and the great barrier reef.
Things are pretty different here since last time I was here last year. Last time, the place was on a resources boom-fuelled high. The town was packed, new businesses where popping up all over, and the main street looked like Noosa. The mine outside of town was digging up the ground and sending it to foreign lands like there was no tomorrow. Workers came in from all over to make quick and easy money.
Now, the boom has gone to bust, the mine has slowed production, the temp workers have gone home, and brand new restaurants sit empty on the main street and still charge prices higher than you'd see in Brisbane.
I spend my off time (and there is a lot of it) texting home, and thought I'd do a street assault on this sleepy town, with one strobe off camera strobist style. Since my good friend David at cameratalk.com.au recently did a travel series with a Canon 50 1.4, I thought I'd go the other extreme and do a mini series with a Canon 70 - 200 2.8IS L.
For all you techie nerds, I even threw in a setup shot here

Monday, June 15, 2009

Here are my good friends Kurt and Nikki, who were nice enough to pose for a series I'm doing. This is an outtake when we were all just laughing and fiddling with the lighting, and I really like the expressions on their faces.
Stay tuned for the whole series coming soon

Strobist info :430exII camera right, reflector camera left

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It’s been said that the best camera is the one you have on you. And that is never more true then when you’re trying to get somewhere. In travel there are these big pockets where a lot of waiting takes place, waiting for flights, waiting to land, waiting for food, the list goes on.

The times where I’ve enjoyed the wait have been the times when I’ve had a camera, and looked for photographic adventure. I mean, how often do we just have time to drive and see what’s around the corner?

Rather than sit in my hotel room and watch a rerun of the 2004 World Lawn Bowls Championships, I head out and try to see what I can capture that I don’t get a chance to at home.

The shot pictured was taken at 5 am. I was driving around the town I was doing some work for a client in, and I came across this little marina just as the sun was rising. At first I was a little annoyed at the jetty which sort of spoiled the serenity of the scene as it appeared just as a black object in the first couple frames I took. Then, I had an idea, why not turn my hirecar into an off camera lightsource and turn the boring jetty into a feature?

It took me a couple goes to get the car lined up straight so that the railing looked even, but eventually I got it to a point where I was happy with it.

I’m gonna call it hire car strobism.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fake it till you make it. That's what we had to do during this shoot. I turned up and the sky just went black with rain ruling out a location shoot.
Our only option was Alana's balcony. It took a little time to get warmed up, but after a while the shots just started to come. We wound up doing a number of cool shots, in a pretty tight space.
In this one I had Angela Shepherd (make up artist) hold a reflector up to the window to the right of Alana, bouncing back some light from my strobe on the left.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This is musician and surfer Matt Pitts. We took a series of shots for his upcoming album "Ride". This one is actually an outake, but I like it cause I kinda dig his expression and body language.
I actually shot it on the wrong side of the road too just in case they decided they wanted an overseas feel. You can view the shot that actually made the cut here

Well, another Wintersun Festival has come and gone. I didn't join the beatniks this year, but here is a shot I took at a couple years ago......dedicated to all you rockabilly's out there

This is Alana Brennan. Alana is the face of Billabong Girls, and an accomplished surfer and actor. Since Alana is known for her work in the surf model look, I thought it would be cool to capture her a bit differently.

Monday, June 8, 2009

R&B Group Evolve Promo Shoot

Did someone say 1950's Gangsta?
View the rest of this series here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kennysmith/sets/72157619419743078/