Monday, 12 November 2012

Broken Hill Trip

Mid-October saw us drive, fly and train it to Broken Hill, 1200+km from Sydney, for a four-day photo shoot. For me it was well worth the drive as the outback looked great, with plenty of vegetation and heaps of wildlife. Including more emus than I have ever seen, kangaroos of every shape and description, and of course a fabulous amount of flowers and birdlife.
Here's a selection of some of the best images submitted as part of the final feedback session. Some beautiful work..

Sculpture Park by Belinda Baccarini

Gumnut close up by Belinda Baccarini
'Do the right thing', sign seen in Broken Hill's city cemetary by Gordon Chirgwin
'We forget', Broken Hill City cemetery.
Pic by Gordon Chirgwin
Argent Street, Broken Hill HDR by Kerrie Dixon
Impressive sunset, Sculpture Park by Kerrie Dixon
Outback cemetary, Broken Hill by Marietta McGregor

Sheep pens at Kinchega woolshed, Menindee lakes area, by Marietta McGregor
Woolshed still life HDR by Mary Barnes
Backlighting in the Silverton Tea Rooms. HDR by Mary Barnes
Old tool shed at the Kinchega woolshed complex.
HDR pic by Natalie Hitchens
Close up of bottles and antique artifacts. HDR by Natalie Hitchens
Wool baling machine. HDR by Phil Young
Under the gum trees in a dry creekbed. On the road to Mutawintji national park by Phil Young
Rugged country around Broken Hill by Steve Mullarkey

Silverton HDR by Steve Mullarkey

Menindee Lakes by Tina Brauer

Kinchega woolshed by Tina Brauer

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Shooting Cars

Though I've never shot cars for a living, I have worked (briefly) with people who do and appreciate how hard it is to get the right look when trying to make the car appear the only thing you ever wanted to own or drive. Currently that trend includes trying to make the vehicle appear to be moving at speed through some exotic landscape that evokes the ideals of 'freedom', 'escape' and 'style'.

I have to smirk at that thought - years ago I recall a colleague in Sydney bought a new Suzuki jeep. At the time it was a very cool 4WD to have and was badged The Freedom Machine - the advertising of course implying you only had the open road ahead of you, and, once in possession of the vehicle, a partner and happiness were only a step away. After a few weeks of driving this new machine she confided that it wasn't quite the 'freedom' she'd envisaged. "The repayments soak up half my income and I always end up working overtime to keep up, so never get to drive other to work and back every day...".  Such is life. Ever since then I've bought cheap, second-hand cars and travelled the open road as often a spossible...

On my recent road trip to Broken Hill I saw an opportunity to create my own version of that eternal advertising icon: the car shot.
The trick lies [mostly] in picking the right time of day, in this case, dusk, the right position (of the vehicle and camera) and ultimately for this look, the right lens. We parked on a slight rise with the sun setting behind the vehicle. I positioned myself at a very low angle 70metres off and shot with a 70-200mm lens. The image was made at full 200mm magnification with the EOS MkII, f2.8 @ 1/100s (an appropriate camera to shoot the VW EOS I thought..).

This is what the base file looked like after three different exposures were put together using Photomatix Pro
I was quite pleased with the final result - in retrospect I could have fired a few speedlight bursts [wirelessly] into the wheel arches to give the underside a bit of a lift, but for a quick car shot, I think it worked OK. The very low shooting angle is especially useful in creating a different and strong compositional angle. This would NOT have worked if I'd simply stood in front of the vehicle and snapped at head height. Getting down low also removes a lot of annoying and completely unnecessary background clutter.
Here's a close up of my other vehicle Ha! Actually this is from the Mad Max 2 museum in Silverton
Now that's a donk!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Outback Cemeteries

There are tens of thousands of cemeteries dotted throughout Australia brimming with tragic and beautiful stories. Ordinary people who have done extraordinary things, people dragged down in tragedy, poverty, disease, accident and human error.
Visiting one of these places is a fascinating experience, especially if you can do a little bit of reading about the history beforehand. Broken hill cemetery, for example, holds victims of the infamous Battle of Broken Hill (also known as the Picnic Train Massacre) where two disgruntled Muslims, angry over a series of essentially racist actions by the townsfolk, ambushed a group of white Australians on their way to a picnic on the local train. The would-be dacoits hid in the countryside three kilometres out of town and took pot shots at the train, killing and wounding several locals before they rallied round and chased the perps down and killed them. Each cemetery has its own unique and moving tales - some of which are revealed in the headstone inscriptions and some through a bit of research...

Bad luck comes in fours? Headstone in Wellington cemetery
Sometimes the simple graves are the most moving (Broken Hill cemetery)
Once all the relatives have either passed away or moved on, there's no one to look after the graves in these remote, hot and barren places (White Cliffs)
Lone angel in Broken Hill's town cemetery

Broken heart and broken headstone in Broken Hill
Black-and-white infra-red shot from Silverton cemetery
Cemetery at Silverton. Although most of the houses have been uprooted and the materials shifted back to Broken Hill, the cemetery remains. All 40 acres of it. It's an incredible place, covered in small shrubs, brimming with butterflies and bird life. This is an infra-red black and white image made with my converted EOS 400D.
Blighted Hopes indeed. Silverton cemetery, Canon EOS 400D infra-red
Some outback cemeteries seem to be almost exclusively populated by young children
A lone grave marker in the equally barren and exposed cemetery at White Cliffs
One of the best headstones I found at least, Broken Hill cemetery