My partner and I are on holidays on the South Coast- three hours south of Sydney in the sleepy town of Culburra Beach. It has become a twice-yearly ritual to get away from the city and relax.
Bruce gets to bark at the birds, we get to make a roaring open fire and eat hot chips and drink champagne.
It is also a wonderful opportunity to photograph the beautiful landscape and spectacular sunsets. Even more amazingly, I videoed the process too- please check out the video. This is my first video.
In the video I touch on making the effort to just go out and shoot. But really, that principle could apply to one hundred different things. I have a list (on Asana-a great app) and the thing at the top of the list that I don’t do is usually the most important thing to do.
I am slowly building a collection of monochrome flower portraits as a side project.
Now days I don’t usually process in black and white, but by stripping away the colour on a couple of photos- with white or pale colours- I thought it a way of concentrating on the form and texture of the flowers.
The chrysanthemum, peony and butterfly grass seem to be the strongest of all images. Perhaps it was the lighter petal tones that suited the transformation to monochrome. (They are also images that had the most interesting shapes or patterns in them so I think that helped.)
For all the images I used the same simple setup: Natural, diffused light coming from a side window with a silver reflector twice the distance from the window. The flowers sit near the window on a white surface.
I shoot with a full-frame DSLR: a Nikon D750. Most of the time I use a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro lens with it. It is not a super expensive lens, but they do get excellent reviews everywhere you turn. For shooting flowers, this is a perfect lens that I highly recommend. This is as close as you can get, focus-wise.
Normally, I shoot with pretty slow shutter speeds. I don’t have a great deal of natural light in my studio, and I like a wide depth of field (usually around /f16), so that means shutter speeds around 2-3 seconds. Very slow! But, it gives me the results I am after- and that is what matters.
All the images were processed in Lightroom RAW. There are great alternatives too: Check out the Nic Collection and Perfect B&W. I Have been using both of these programs for many years with amazing and fast results.
As this is a work in progress, I can take what I have learnt and move on. Discarding images and ideas and building as I go.
Photography, or any art for that matter, is not a race. Nobody wins anything, really. Photography is a journey in discovering about yourself and world around you. Learning to see, and learning to capture what you see. In another six months I may have another collection of monochrome images to post, and look at these a think how much I have matured in that time. Hopefully.
It is important, as an artist, to keep creating and experimenting- even if the results are not as spectacular as you would have hoped. It gets the brain moving and thinking differently instead of staying in a rut and doing only what comes easy.
Now wouldn’t that be boring?
Thanks for the support, and until next time, best wishes!
I love the ocean. Growing up and living by the sea, I have great respect for the ocean- it can be incredibly dangerous and sometimes, surprisingly, safer than being on land.
When I was young, I lived in Bronte Beach, Sydney and again lived there in my 20’s. It is one of my favourite beach in the world. It is also my closest beach to where I live- a 15 minute drive on a quiet morning. Bronte is a couple of beaches down from the more (in)famous, Bondi Beach. It is a more beautiful, family beach with big cliff faces, a rock pool and swimming pool. The surf is always way better than it’s famous neighbour.
This is where I bodysurf through the warmer months. The surf can be incredible. I have had so many amazing days swimming here, so recently I turned my camera towards it.
These were taken just as the sun faded, and as families started packing up and going home. Surfers started coming in and beach grew quiet. I noticed, and you can see in one of the photos, a photographer enjoying the late afternoon light too.
I was shooting with my new camera, a Nikon D750, swapping between my wider 28mm lens and the narrower 90mm Tamron lens.
Other than being in the studio shooting flowers, this is another ideal way to shoot. No pressure, no crowds. I can be calm and take my time. It suits my photography style.
Of course, a sturdy tripod is essential. I use a Vanguard Abeo 243AB. They are very durable and well priced for what you get. I also used a shutter release cable. Not a branded Nikon one, just a budget one- it does the same job without costing a fortune.
These three photos were taken at f/18 and with a shutter speed of around 10 seconds. The longer shutter speed gives the smooth milky look to the ocean.
I’m planning more adventures, over the coming months here on my new website. I hope you stick around.