Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Take Better Holiday Snaps

Having a family rapidly strips you of the notion that every shot must be painstakingly composed and lit.

Despite making a living out of photography, there are (just a few) times when I leave the DSLR's at home and just get holiday snaps with my point-and-shoot. Today I thought I'd share a few of my own holiday snaps along with a couple of tips on getting the best out of your point and shoot. I took all of these with my Canon Powershot G12 while Mrs C, Miss C(8) and I were camping at Glendhu Bay, Lake Wanaka last week.

Old FriendsNZ falconIMG_2705.jpgCockabully Creek

First, your point-and-shoot camera is built for convenience - so keep it handy! Life is full of Kodak moments (boy, that really is just a figure of speech nowadays), but they're gone forever if the camera is still at the bottom of your suitcase. From rare birds like this NZ falcon to rare moments with Miss C(8) and Mr A(8), I wouldn't have gotten these without the camera being in hand. 


Get the big picture. Nothing like some wide shots or panoramas to set the scene for your holiday pictures.

Shed SkinIMG_2755.jpgCicada invaders

Don't forget the little details. Today's point-and-shoots often come with a macro function for shooting little stuff up close. Use it to add some variety to your shots.

Shooting cloudsIMG_2702.jpgIMG_2697.jpg

Keep shooting. Captured moments are great, but little sequences can be real gold. When fun moments are unfolding, shoot in burst mode and keep your finger on the button.

IMG_2549.jpg IMG_2828.jpg

Get close. The first thing I ever did to improve my photography was to start filling the frame with what I wanted in the picture. Make every pixel count!

"What were you doing before your child drowned?"

We all have bad hair days and double chin moments. Don't let that put you off getting in the picture too sometimes. Your kids will thank you one day, even if they're more interested in the lake right now.

The Deep

Daylight flash. I laugh when I see folks firing flash in concerts, because there's no way the little light on a pocket camera is going to illuminate the stage. I also see a lot of other indoor night shots where the flash just hasn't reached the subject or it's just made for a flat-looking shot in a sea of darkness. I think your camera flash is best used in daytime for taking pictures of people.  It fills in the dark shadows and puts a little sparkle in your subjects' eyes. Or sunglasses. It works underwater too. Not that the shot below is an example of that...

Glendhu Bay Mermaid IMG_2512.jpg

The shots above should encourage you to shoot into the sun now and then, blocking it out with your subject to create a cool silhouette, or letting a little of the sun peek over an edge for a little creative flare. Daylight flash at work again with Miss C(8) above. See the little spark in her eyes?

The End of a Perfect day

Most importantly, if you like something, take a shot. Your flash card and hard drive don't care how many pictures you take.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My New Year's Photography Resolution

After a little thought about what I'd like to achieve this year, I came up with several good options... seeing out my 40's in as good a physical shape as I can (requires much effort), remodeling my house and garden (requires much expenditure) and working hard enough to earn an overseas family holiday (requires huge change in character). I've settled on one that I'm determined to fulfill: Doing some good with my photography.

I've never thought my shooting was ground-breaking enough to be really significant, nor had that large an ego to think my pictures made a big difference to the world, but last year as I cast my electoral vote, I decided I had to do more to help change the world for the better, so I'm going to try and use some of my shooting for good. Here's my first step.

The Dunes at Sandfly Bay Riding the Dune Sealion vomit.
Hooker's Sealion

You'll probably already know I live at the base of Otago Peninsula, a part of the world blessed with great landscapes and wildlife. Mrs C, Miss C(8) and I like to get out and enjoy what it has to offer whenever we can, and one of our favourite spots is Sandfly Bay.

There's a great big dune there that you walk down to get to the beach and once down there, you're likely to see some of our small breeding population of Hooker's Sea Lions.  They're magnificent beasts and despite their size and appearance, are pretty safe to go see - from a respectful distance.

Hooker's Sealion

The large males can be a bit protective of their territory, but mostly they're up on the beaches resting after a hard day at the office.

Hooker's Sealion Hooker's Sealion Hooker's Sealion

Here's the thing.  They're endangered and the New Zealand Government isn't doing what it can to prevent these beautiful creatures from being accidentally killed by squid fishing trawlers. They could easily place sea lions under the protection of the marine mammals act, rather than the fisheries act, and they could move to encourage the squid fishing industry that is licensed to fish our waters to use less damaging methods like jigging rather than trawling.

Hooker's Sealion

I hope you feel the same, and if you do, that you'll go here to the Forest and Bird website and sign the petition (its very quick and easy to do) requesting our politicians to make some changes. It's a small thing, but I'm hoping by doing many small things with my photos this year, I can make the world a little better or at least leave it as good as I found it when it's time for Miss C(8) to take her family to Sandfly bay. 

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Tease

Fortune Theatre have just started to tease their 2012 season and I can reveal just a tiny bit of the shooting I did for them, so here are some pics I did for a few of the new productions:

The Tease

My first session was late last year, with the lovely Elena working as the poster girl for the season. I won't go into details about which play this shot was for - I'll just say everyone will find the topic... stimulating. Sexy was the keyword here, so I made liberal use of my ringlight adapter.


Then there was the nude shoot with six lovely and rather brave women. I'm sure I was more nervous about the whole thing, but it went very well and the final result will be very good. Rest assured that in the shot they used, my flashes actually fired. Big, flattering light sources for this one.


The last shoot for the season was today with veteran Kiwi actor John Bach. John worked super hard to get into the character for this shoot, so I think the play itself is going to be pretty intense. I shot John against black for this with plenty of rim light for intensity, then I picked up on the red splatter at his feet and we started working around that. I've got a feeling one of those improvised shots will be the keeper.

I always enjoy working with the gang at the Fortune. If the shoot was anything to go by, it's going to be another very entertaining year in Dunedin Theatre.