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Why would I want a birth photographer? Won't I look seriously triggered?

April 2018

WHY would you want to have your birth story documented?

Women in labour are much like cats. We like to go somewhere safe, dark, and where we feel comfortable so we can enter our zone and concentrate on the job to be done, undisturbed.

Why then would you want someone present WITH a camera, documenting all this?
Won't you look seriously triggered?? Feel exposed??

Well, there is a way to have this precious event documented, undisturbed and with the respect you need, so you receive a beautiful collection of clear images telling your story. 

But why? …..there are many reasons why.
Modern birth is becoming more and more “normalized”, which is simply brilliant! It needs to be. It is the most natural and beautiful empowering thing. It’s not something that should be kept secret or behind closed doors. By you telling and showing your story through movies and images, you can courageously share this with our future generations, steering them away from any preconceived fear of birth, and help make birth a positive and beautiful life event.

You will be able to look back on these images to see all you missed on the day. Labour can sometimes be a bit of a blur.  You can look back and see the love your partner had for you that day, the way they looked at you with a newly discovered admiration, the way they looked at their brand new son or daughter for the first time, full of emotion. Your eyes are full of tears so you miss all this, you only see snippets of these precious seconds. This love for this tiny bundle you have just made is immediate and a type of love that was completely undiscovered until right now at this moment.  Your support person will be in tears, I will be in tears.  This, to me, is the most important and powerful moment of a birth story.

Another reason is newborn bubs can change so super quickly from the moment they are in our arms.  Their little birthday suits of wrinkled, milky coated, purplish skin will start turning pink often in the first hour.  They can finally reach and stretch out of the fetal position, extend their fingers and see you for the first time.  Your images will bring this back to you.

Finally, and this is purely for you, you can look back on these images and see the strength and determination that you may have never known you had. You can see the protection for your child that you haven’t even met yet is already there.
You are capable of achieving amazing things.


iPhone 7 photo editor vs Lightroom editing

March 2018

Well I have not upgraded my phone to the 8 or the X as yet, basically don't like the big size. What is it with phone design, they start big then get smaller, then get bigger, then a new type comes out and we start the whole process again. iPads are the same.
Anyway, my recent trip to japan 2 months ago, I did not take the big Canon and all its heavy friends with me. I had a true holiday. A holiday from taking photos with my normal gear. Of course it would be an impossibility for me to go ANYWHERE without taking pics so the iPhone sufficed. It was super nice to not lug my gear around for a change, and the iPhone did fine. Once I got the thought out of my head of "oh the wide angle would've been nice or the 70-200 would be handy right now" I enjoyed the simplicity of just a phone to take pics with, in fact it made me get a bit more inventive.

So, I decided to compare the iPhone 7's pic editor with what you can do with using LR to post process some pics. Of course its not the same as using RAW camera files out of a DSLR BUT just for fun here's some comparisons and I am pleasantly surprised with the pic editor options.

Heres a great example of what the editor can do.

AND it's a big file. Matsumoto Castle

Heres a comparison first one is straight out of phone camera

this one is processed with LR

this one is using a warm filter with pics editor. I prefer the LR one here as I could control the highlights a bit more.

First pic is my fav, using pic editor, 2nd raw, 3rd LR. Matsumoto street scene

I think too it depends on how you saw the image when you took the picture, like I remember this image was almost "retro" in hues and the first image recreates how it looked to my eye at the time.

Same with this one, I prefer the colours in the pc edited one (3rd one) but the LR one is better with the highlights. There is a highlights control lever on the pic editor but its not that effective.

ONE of my favourite images from the trip, taken in Nozawa Onsen. I always thought the lone centre figure was looking into the shop but from their feet they are looking towards me, taking shelter from the rain perhaps. I processed the second one in LR using split toning to mimic the pic edited one but reduced highlights from the shop lights and in the shiny road reflections.
This image, to me, sums up Nozawa.

What's Nozawa Onsen without an onsen?
This one is unfit for humans at 72-73 degrees celsius, but is great for cooking veggies and boiling eggs. The safety barriers are pretty much non existent, mental note to self...don't come here after too many sakes!!

 Raw from phone

 Pic editor - think I like this one best, more punch and contrasty

Same with these three, this ones pic edited



Another of my favs, love the cobblestones, pic editor

Straight out of phone, no editing

 Cant pick between these three, first raw, second LR, third pic editor. Definitely more detail in the LR one, but I like the orange sun halo in the third one.

Definitely prefer the second LR one processed with split toning. Typical Nozawa street scene with the rugged up visitors, steaming dumplings on the street, and narrow roads.

Raw. LR. Pic editor, prefer the hues of the pic edited one, keeps it looking steely cold, as it was.

Couple of Niseko, Hokkaido. pic edited

Pic edited and LR, prefer the LR one, processed with split toning

Pic edited

Niseko street scene, not a lot of difference between these 3, second one maybe (LR)

pic edited vs LR, prefer the LR with split toning

Pic edited.
Really the difference isn't much but in most cases the pic editor does a great job. Highlights are a problem, but hey, for the comfort and convenience whilst on holidays, that'll do me just fine!

#lightroom #iphone7 #iphonography

Why pay a professional - can't my friend just take the photos?

I hear this a LOT! Yeah sure you can. YOU GET what you PAY FOR, or not pay for in this instance.

Getting a friend to take photos of ANYTHING that is important, puts not only a lot of pressure on them, but also on your friendship.

Take birth photography, for example, this is one instance where "the friend" typically seems to get given this job.

The friend is there in the first place to be part of your support system, as well as your partners support, to help out when needed, when one of you gets tired etc etc.

Well here's a few more reasons why this is not the best idea.

Firstly, to get good coverage and to tell a great birth story, professional birth photographers ( I'm going to call them BP's) need to be present at the right times. Usually from active birth right through to an hour or so after birth. This means they need to be ON CALL and available at this time. This could be at 2am and go all day!! They would have to be a pretty good friend to do this. A professional won't be caught snoozing at the critical time.

Secondly, a professional BP will be concentrating on just this one important job. They have the experience in knowing when to take a shot, when to do a short video, when to leave the room. They will only speak when spoken to and be respectful of your space. They also know where to BE at the moment of birth, so this complies with your wishes of what you do and do not want captured.

Another reason is simply a technical one. BP's will have awesome gear. They won't be dancing around the room flicking on light switches so they have enough light. They won't be shooting off flashlights in your face. They have the gear that can perform in low light without you having blurry, grainy, dark images. At the other end of the scale, they know how to cope with bright harsh hospital fluros.

Lastly, a good friend may get caught up in the drama going on and may even forget that they are meant to be capturing all this, and as they are usually close friends they may be too emotional to do the job. You are doing them a favour by not asking them to take this on.

I have heard people say that one of their most treasured photos is the one of their just born baby being handed to them, taken on someones phone camera, it's the only pic they have. The emotion that this simple image conveys is so super powerful.
Beautiful clear images of this special day that you become a family are priceless.

#birth #birthphotography #birthphotographers

Heres some cool pics of some AMAZING birth images captured by Lielani Rogers.




Birth Photography - is it the new thing?

#birth photography #birth photographers #birth #birth photography cairns

Birth photography is fast becoming a popular choice. Some people are a little frightened of the subject, but its not all about the birthing moment. Above all, its about the human emotions we go through on this day, the day we become responsible for the little human we have created, the day we become parents!

A couple of years ago when I decided this was going to be MY new thing, I gave it a try, and LOVED it. Documenting a birth is possibly THE most rewarding subject I have ever photographed. Aside  from being on a high for about a week afterwards, the "post birth" work was also very rewarding.

Shooting the birth is the quickest bit.
I have not come across any technical problems during photographing births, UNLESS I am set up for low light which it usually is (high ISO, wide aperture, slow shutter) and then if a doctor needs to be present, they can turn on the brightest harshest lights, right at the very moment that things are happening and I mega quickly have to change ALL my settings to cater for this sudden light.

Making a movie from the stills and snippets of video takes awhile, especially trying to find the most appropriate MUSIC to go with the movie. It's the music that makes it, really. The song has to be uplifting as well as building in the high moments and soften in the right moments. It has to be the right length and preferably instrumental only. Occasionally I find a song that suits that does contain lyrics, but you have to be careful with lyrics and what they are saying.

Its not until I put together the music alongside the movie timeline that I begin to feel the magic.
If I don't cry the first time I watch it, then it's not good enough, time to look for a different song.
Looking for the song can take awhile, but since I have found musicbed.com I haven't looked elsewhere.

The length of the movie is also very important. If its too long it gets boring, too short and it's not enough. The entire experience can be a bit of a blur for those involved, so my job is to capture snippets of this experience, and blend them together into a beautiful story to look back on in years to come.

I would love to show some of my stories BUT as they are extremely private, I don't, unless its a marketing shoot.
I have a new addiction...

Here is some shots from my first birth story from a couple of years ago.


Corporate Headshots

Why you should update your image

#headshots #corporateheadshots #updateyourimage

WHY is it that celebrity headshots look so good??

Well they kind of do NEED a good profile shot as their LOOK is very important.
Usually they get this done by a pro photographer
They redo their profile shots regularly, so they are used to being in front of the camera and this amounts to the super important factor (which makes them look so good) is CONFIDENCE.
They also know exactly HOW they look their best, whether its smiling with teeth showing, without teeth, smiling with eyes, laughing, looking super serious etc etc.

Your headshot is very important these days as it is often the first time a potential client will see you.
There's a couple of essential tips for getting a good shot:

Lighting - must be good flattering light, unless you are an artistic type and want mood to be reflected in the shot. Strong shadows work well if you want to look more rugged (eg male headshots with black background)

Confidence - will show through when you are comfortable

Attire - overdressed for corporate types, or normal work uniform, hair and makeup

Where - studio images with clean simple backgrounds OR environmental portraits at your place of business

A lot of these factors will depend on WHO you are.
For example, real estate agents, usually a simple white background, suit jacket and collared shirt, confidence plus but no cheesey smiles! Good lighting and a sparkle in the eyes.
Environmental headshots work well if you are an architect or builder and have your portrait taken in front of your latest building or place of business.
If you are an entertainer, a candid headshot laughing or looking away from camera, you can be a bit more creative.

Modern headshots today are generally taken in landscape mode rather than portrait, have the top of the head cropped off and showing a little more below the neckline, so the top part of your clothing is important.

Tips before a photoshoot:
Bring a few outfits that suit your profession
Avoid singlets and bare arms
Avoid busy patterns, logos and definitely avoid stripes (stripes clash with computer screens)
Wear glasses if you normally do
Work out beforehand if you look better with showing teeth or not when you smile
Makeup - don't overdo it (unless you are a makeup artist)

Some samples



January 2018.

This is one place I have been itching to get to on previous trips to Japan, but was never quite practical. In fact getting there this time was not easy either, but I made it this time around!

Normally the trip up the highlands from Osaka involves a couple of JR trains, then a private railway to the end of the line, then a final leg up the mountain via cable car, but due to Typhoon Lan last year the end part of this journey was in disrepair and I had to bus it from Hashimoto.
This bus journey was possibly the scariest bus trip I have had...to date. Parts of the road were only single car width and the bus often had to use provided roadside mirrors to see if the way was clear before attempting cornering. Top marks to our driver for getting us there, but made a mental note not to sit right up front on the way home..."what you don't know won't hurt you" reasoning.  The bus trip can take from 1 to 3 hours. We got there in 1.5 hrs from Hashimoto station, so a total of 3.5 hours from my cosy hotel in Osaka.
Cosy it was NOT in Koyasan. Luckily I  stuffed my backpack with all things fluffy and warm and at one point had donned all of these items in an attempt to keep warm.

Once arrived, I got the "hop on hop off bus ticket" and ventured straight to the main reason for my visit. There was patchy snow on the ground from the previous night and my phone was telling me it was 1 degrees Celcius. A scan of the sky told me there was either more snow or miserably cold sleety rain coming at any moment, so no time like the present to get going.

I did this trip alone, since all my family members were "templed out" and the others from the group headed to Hiroshima for the day. I knew the last train from Hashimoto back left at 7ish so made it a point to be busing back down the mountain by 4pm, just before dark.
It would be an amazing place to visit just on dusk, actually I would recommend staying the night and doing the walk through the cemetery just on dusk. Okunoin Cemetery is the number one tourist destination for Koyasan.

All these pics were taken with Iphone7 as I needed a holiday from my Canon (and it needed a break from me!)

The lone monk I managed to stumble into right at the end of the cemetery walk

This was underneath a temple, housing and recharging all the thousands of lanterns that get used around the temples and grounds and cemetery pathways, this is why it would be specie at dusk.

After the walk, and somehow the skies cleared, I ventured back into the main part of the village and grabbed some curry, soup and hot chocolate.
I spent the last hour here marvelling at the architecture and "Kill Bill" style rock gardens with their little raked pebbles and bonsai trees. Most of these temples are ryokans and are available to o/n at, but you must book in advance.

Arrived back in time for the second last train, and back in Osaka for a late dinner.
I am so glad I did this, even though it was way out of my comfort zone and I did it alone (and didn't get lost) it just felt "magical", almost surreal, hmmm now to go back with the Canon....and stay the night.....who's in??



Fireworks Addiction

November 2017

#fireworks #longexposures #focuspull #focus #nightphotography

Well it's not as bad as my COFFEE addiction, but still....it continues. Though, must admit I am not attending EVERY SINGLE ONE in town anymore, becoming a little more choosy.

I'm talking about my fireworks long exposure shooting "addiction", the mere word "fireworks" gets plenty of eye rolling in my family.

Anyway, here are some recent ones from a small display last week.

The best ones to capture obviously are the high single boom ones, where I did manage to get an almost perfect flower effect, but also got lots of new different effects as well.

Green sky monster: All these are at 1.3 sec and vary from f4-f6.3
Generally there is not time for any changes to settings, if you do have time for anything it is tilting the lens direction and maybe an aperture change and thats it, or be prepared to miss out on a few.

 Love the colour variations in this one

Shot between two different blasts so have the after effects of one and the shooting trail of another.

I actually prefer this one inverted.

This being the almost perfect one, but not wide enough to fit the entire blast in.

Missed this one completely, but don't mind it, for something different

I call this the "rocket launch" shot. Lots going on.

The finale... whispering out


So I will miss the NYE fireworks here in cairns the year, but will be in a place where there may be some bigger ones, stay tuned.....


Photographing in Aquariums - some useful tips

Cairns Aquarium

#aquarium #photography

October 2017

Well the nice wet weather we are having made this a perfect time to visit Cairns' newest attraction.
How did we get away with NOT having one of these, being gateway to the reef etc etc...There used to be one years ago (I'm talking 15ish years ago) in the Pier but it was only little.

Anyway, it's here now and it is pretty awesome!

I didn't want to go and just shoot images of fish, I wanted to do something a bit different. In the end with all the challenges shooting in this environment, I did get a few images of "just fish"  and I'm OK with that, ha ha.

Here we go for some tips!
Firstly even though the tanks look nice and brightly lit, this light does not compare to sunlight. A tripod is a must for shooting the slower moving animals. If you don't have one then push the ISO up. Tripod of course eliminates the need to do this as you can shoot slower shutter speeds.
Ideal for turtles and the entrance displays of eels, mango jacks, pythons, frogs etc. As the tank water is treated with various nutrients and/or salt the water is not the clearest so pushing the ISO up will make it quite grainy. Please do not use flash - think of the animals.

Heres a few from that section:

This mob of gangsters were hardly moving so was easy to capture them.

Sunbaking Lizzy was not in the water here so he was easier to get a sharper image.
Sharp images are a challenge in here, the lens had trouble focusing through the glass, even when I could place on the glass, so manual focusing was used a fair bit.

This cute fella was about a foot long and posed for me on a log just under the surface so I could capture his reflection.
Speaking of reflections... be careful of these in the glass reflecting yourself or the lights from behind you, position yourself at a slight angle to the glass or move to a darker area where there are no reflections.

Further in most of the fish moved about fairly quickly. So teamed with manual focusing and low light I had to push up the ISO for these.
ISO 250 and 1/100 sec f2.8
Try and get some different angles and spend the time watching and waiting for the right moment.
Some of these I had to pan the camera with the fish so it took some time ( I was there most of the day).

As I moved into the barrier reef section everything seemed to be on steroids! Speedy little fish everywhere. It all takes time and patience.
The best thing is to take your iPod/phone and listen to a playlist of music, they had "Canon" playing in the main tank area, but it just makes it a much nicer atmosphere with your own earphones (and shuts out any kids yelling at each other too!)
ISO up to 640 here.

This fella was extremely had to snap, very fast moving and timid.

Now...my favourites! 
The jellyfish move fairly slowly and their tank was extremely dark and constantly changed colours.
I somehow timed it perfectly with feeding time, all those tiny white specs in the water are tiny little sea monkeys and as the jellies feed you can see them accumulating the white specs on their outer rims and their abdomens. Very cool to watch! Especially to a bit of Coldplay!

While they were feeding the lights were just on bluish white, so much lighter and easier to shoot.

One thing I couldn't get sorted was my white balance, with so many different light sources and colours the tungsten or fluoro white balance options were way out, so I shot "shady" WB and colour corrected in Lightroom.

Found Dory!

These tiny sea horses are only about 5 cm in height.
Spent ages here, love the way they move about. Two were quite interested in each other, holding tails and dancing around.

Towards the end there is a bendy tunnel you can walk through to have the sharks and rays etc glide over you. Pretty cool. One tip here, the glass is closer than it appears and it is easy to knock your lens into the glass, keep one hand out to guide you. I saw one lady knock her head on the wall, more than once.
I left this one dark and mysterious, as it suited the subject.

I think I will be going back! Well worth the visit.


Photographing Light Orbs

August 2017

#lightpainting #cairnsfestival #nightphotography

As part of a local festival, our council set up a orb photography workshop with Peter Solness, a wonderfully natured and very patient light painting photographer http://www.illuminated-landscape.com

I attended two of these events.
This is about the first one at Lake Placid in Cairns.

Due to the high number of attendees (which did kind of spoil it a bit as I couldn't get in a central spot) we had to move our session to a bush park reserve.

All settings are pretty much 30 seconds exposure, f8 and either 100 or 200 ISO.

Firstly we had to set the focus manually while it was still daylight.
Once it was dark enough we shot a few orbs, some shots with light painters on the rainforest background and grassy foreground.
I particularly like the orb tunnels.

Peter also had a 3m long light stick that he could set to one colour rainbow or alternating colours.

We added a few volunteers for silhouettes and to give the images some depth.
The volunteers did a great job of standing still for up to a minute each time.

Peter would rotate and move the stick through different patterns each time.

Love the effect on the foreground here.

It was a lot of fun, love long exposure photography! I will be going again next year!


Shooting fireworks - with a twist...behind the scenes

August 2017

#fireworksphotography #focus #focuspull

Its the time of year here in far north Queensland, where there seems to be fireworks coming up every few weeks at various functions until the grand finale at NYE! which I won't be here for but will get in plenty of others before then. Photographing fireworks is always a challenge, and you don't really get to enjoy them at the time, but nice to marvel at later.

The main problem people have with photographing fireworks is overexposing. They are very bright patches of light in a very dark background. Quick shutter speeds can usually resolve this but everyone does this type of shot. Being a bit more creative with fireworks is a bit trickier.

I recently attended my kids school fete, so the fireworks didn't actually go for as long as some, but I will be better prepared for the next lot.

I was attempting, for the first time ever to shoot the fireworks differently, with the "focus pull" technique. Now this is really hard to do, especially in the dark.

To do this you need the following:

Lens where you know where you know the "sweet" spot is of infinity focus
maybe a second person to take the shot with a remote would help too

There are two tricky bits to using this technique.   The whole idea is to shoot out of focus and before the shot is complete bring the lens into sharp focus, all before the explosion has disappeared. This means you only have 1- 2 secs to do this.
The end result being a very creative almost flower-petal  like effect. The other tricky bit is the timing. You have to hit the shutter button just as the firework explodes and sends out the bursts of colour. If you get this timing wrong it doesn't really work.

Heres a few early ones...

Good flower petal like effect but didn't get the sharp tips of the ends of the petals as didn't focus properly at the end of the shot.

Lens 24-70mm f2.8 1sec
In fact all these are 1sec exposures, might try a little longer next time.
The reality is you don't get any time to review your shots or think too much about anything, its all happening and over too quickly.

The bigger your aperture, the fatter your petals will be (more light coming in) but you have to be careful that not too much light comes in and you overexpose and lose the colour.

f5 kind of like the bokeh effect left from a previous explosion

Started to get it here at f5

Zoomed in a bit more for this one, still not quite what I was after

Got it here, but no colour...aarrgghhhh

This one was shot a bit early, but kind of like the effect

Nice effect but a bit messy

Bit better f6.3

Finally this is the effect I was trying for....
f6.3 zoomed in a bit

Bit late with the timing, but kind of like it, realising by now that I needed to rotate the focus a lot further back initially.

f6.3 seems to be the go... This is exactly what I was after, but missed raising my camera as the fireworks sequences started going a lot higher.

Love this one too, even though I only captured half of it...and didn't get the proper effect

So in summary, next time I will get someone to come along and watch the action so they can press the shutter at the right time via remote, and I can concentrate on the focusing action....maybe then I can get something decent, but happy with my first try.