2012 Plus One Collection

Way back in January I posted that my photograph Feel The Wind had been selected to appear in the 2012 Plus One Collection curated by Ivan Marakov and sponsored by the Kilgoris Project and the Photographers for Good Foundation. Well my copy arrived yesterday and looks (and smells) fantastic. A large format (12" x 12") ensures the pictures look great. The range and quality of photographs is simply awe-inspiring and I feel quite chuffed to have been included in such company. There are around 300 photographers included with a single photograph from each. Lovely :-)



Lensbaby Love

I have a Lensbaby.

For anyone unfamiliar with these nifty devices, it's a variable focus 50mm f/2 lens. The single lens element is fully adjustable to enable a focal 'sweet spot' to be found in creative photography. A particular setting can be locked and then fine tuned by rotating any of the three protruding long screw threads. To change the aperture, a series of magnetic aperture rings is provided and held in place in front of the lens element by a series three small magnets. It's a quirky lens with a maximum aperture of f/2 and produces a wide range of focal effects. Mine is a Lensbaby 3G ... which is now sold as the 'Control Freak' (can't imagine why ... I mean look at the thing!).


Picture courtesy Lensbaby

When I first received the lens (passed to me by a cinematographer friend who'd purchased it for cine-work but found it unsuitable) I put it on my D80 DSLR. It produced  some neat results but it wasn't a go-to lens by any means. Also the lack of adaptive exposure metering in the camera body meant more then a few frames to get the manual exposure just right ... it just seemed a bit of a chore. For this reason I had been putting off trying the Lensbaby on my new D600 body and but ... well ... whatever(!) ... so I took it along in my bag to the abandoned shops in the previous post. I put it on the camera, dialled in what I thought was my anticipated exposure setting and took a picture. Beautifully exposed! Well I wasn't expecting that! So I left the settings as is, re-composed and took another shot of something somewhere else ... and? Same! Great exposure! It was then I had one of those total 'Derr!' moments when I realised the D600 was automatically adjusting to bring in the best exposure for the scene ... it actually had very little to do with me and my settings ;-)

Now, this was fabulous news as I am essentially a lazy photographer at heart and I realised that the previous burden of adjusting exposure had been banished ... it was like I had a new lens ... which I guess I kinda do. Here's the same shops as seen through the Lensbaby ... Enjoy!







Lensbaby love ... have you ever fallen in love with a lens (or anything for that matter...) all over again?

Back on The Drops Again

I'm back on the drops again.

Anyone who has followed my photography for a time will know how much I love to play with water  ... I love how it plays with light ... how under the right circumstances it becomes a lens, refracting and playing and changing the world we see into something other ... something imaginative. Today I'm talking drop photography. Taking pictures of water is something I work hard at ... well perhaps work isn't the right term because I enjoy the process and the journey. There's the setup, which can get fiddly (not to mention wet!), getting the drips just right at a frequency which allows the drops to be singular and not interfere with one another. There's the choice of backdrop ... that's the image or pattern you want refracted (remember it will be upside down!). The distance between the backdrop and the drop itself determines how large the pattern will appear in the drop. Too far away and elements of your kitchen begin to appear in your drops ;-) 

Below is a behind the scenes shot of the setup I used to take these ones ... I even labelled it!


See, you can do this at home in your kitchen!

Using this stripy back drop provides refractions like these...



While I adore the symmetry of these first two ... did I mention I like symmetry? No? I like the tension of this last one in the stripy series...


I'm going to print some of these.

Changing the backdrop to a spotty one produces refractions like these



As I said it's fiddfly and there's lots of variables but it just takes some practice and a reasonable sense of timing little luck ... ok and the ability to live with a lot of empty frames ... oh and I used the fork in front of the backdrop to focus by holding it in the drop stream and focussing on it ... the fork mis good also because you get a feel for the way the drops are falling vertically or slightly off and can vary the focus accordingly.

Next time I set this up I might even do a little video if anyone's interested? Do tell :-)

On Printing

Last year a local gallery sold one of my large (44"x30") prints. They're keen to sell more, it's what most galleries like doing and so I recently took in some sample images on my tablet to show them a range of images I thought would work in their space. I had a set of 10 images to show which worked either individually or as part of a series of twos or threes. We eventually settled on three; two new images and a reprint of the one that sold. Jolly good ... now I need to print them.

For me as a photographer, and as an artist I guess, there is a stage of the process which quietly freaks me out ... I'm talking about printing and You, clever reader forearmed with the reading of the post's title, will no doubt have guessed this already!

wpid-20111008_NIKON-D80__DSC3670_1_2.jpg A couple of years ago I had my first exhibition. I wanted my pictures to sing, to look as good as they possibly could and so I set about looking for a printer ... not a machine ... a person ... an artist. Someone who understands what to me is a dark art ... someone who can take what I have created and take it to another level ... namely a wall. I didn't want a commercial sausage machine with automated calibrations. I was looking for someone who would create something special. I needed to trust them with my work.


When I first visited Stephen, who lives an hour's drive away in rural New South Wales and saw the tidy cottage which houses his printers and workstation I was quietly impressed. When he showed me the range of papers he collects and started to show me sample prints speak of black levels and colour absorbency and paper saturation levels and the depth of gloss and coatings I thought "He knows his stuff ... he certainly knows a lot more than I do..." I quietly nodded. It was when he spoke to me of his theory: that a viewer has two simultaneous reactions to a picture - the first is a response to content or subject, form and balance ... the second is a subconscious reaction to the colour and texture of the print itself and it was this subliminal aspect of the print and it's combination with the structure and form of the image the he strives for in his printing ... he got a faraway look in his eyes when as he explained it and I thought "you're the one" and so I entered a relationship with a printer. You have to trust them ... they can make or break your picture. (I'm paraphrasing ... he said far more eloquently than that) ...

There's a strict calibration setup for my monitors to ensure that the colour and tones you want are what Stephen will see when the images lands on his display. He understands implicitly how his inkjet printers interpret colour and tone and crafts an individual colour profile for each image to achieve that ... it's what he does and he does it exceptionally well.


When the printing's complete and the prints delivered I get tense and sometimes I don't want to unroll them or open the folio case ... the images have entered the tangible world ... they're now real things. Real things that people will look at and buy and hang on their walls ... I feel a buzz from that mixed with a weird sense of responsibility ... one which I hope I never lose.

Eventually of course I do open them and look and pore ... and breathe. Prints of this size are a reasonable investment ... they represent my investment in my talent as an artist. An acceptance and belief in what I'm doing ... trying to do ... should be doing. They look fantastic of course ... what was I worried about?



I took them to the gallery the other day and we discussed frames and mounts and wall space ... I signed them. There, now they truly are mine. Michael, the gallery owner, loved them and the first of the prints goes up on the wall this week. It's exciting.

Are you printing your pictures large?

Optical Galaxy and then some ... a trip to Cameron Offices

On Sunday afternoon I went for a little photowalk. I went up to the Cameron Offices, once a shining example of 1970's Brutalist architecture and future vision ... half has been demolished and the other half transformed into student accommodation ... still, amongst the concrete there is a semblance of the vision of the architects and designers ... in between concrete angularity and rigidity there flow streams and reflective ponds, stark white lift wells and sculpture. Optical Galaxy by Canadian sculptor Gerald Gladstone (1923-2005) particularly caught my eye ...

"Commissioned for Cameron Offices as part of the Town Square located opposite Mall 9. It was created by the Canadian sculptor, Gerald Gladstone who was striving to express humanity's concern with its position in intergalactic space. The sculpture comprises eleven truncated fins each standing 7 metres high that are curved to represent the form of the sine waves used in measuring light waves. On top of each fin is a Lucite block in which is suspended a sculpture of welded steel road to represent the swirls of planets in the galaxy. A specially designed water cannon emits a cascade of water over the work." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Gladstone)

The piece has been moved from its original location opposite Mall 9 and now stands somewhat external to the main complex and easily accessible although it lacks any form of descriptive plaque or insightful inscription ... I would love to see it in action with its custom water cannon but sadly I think it may be defunct.











What about you? where was your last photowalk? Did you take any pictures? Sometime I go on a photowalk and leave the camera in my bag the entire time ;-)

ps ... thanks to everyone who let me know just how much the gallery option didn't work for them ... we're back to inline images again :-)

Collective Thoughts

I have been getting back into taking pictures again. This follows on from my moving and renovation experiences late last year when I took almost no pictures of anyone or anything except the progress (and at times ... total lack of progress) on the renovations to my flat. It was a period of perhaps six or seven months where I took next to no pictures purely for the pleasure of taking pictures ... it was like my photo-mojo had vamoosed. I like to think of it now as a kind of enforced sabbatical ... a time when I reflected upon other things and new directions ... though I recall at the time finding it confusing and debilitating.

I mean, after a while you start to think about whether you'll be able to take pictures again. You look back on the remarkable things you've captured and published before but they feel like they were taken by a different person and there's so much going on in your mind, things are moving so quickly, that even beginning to write a post feels like it's passed before you even start.

I knew the mojo would return ... I could feel it circling me. I began to see pictures again ... the ones the you compose when you aren't carrying a camera. You see the picture ... the light, the crop, the depth and the colour even though you didn't actually take it. Truth be told that's how most of my pictures are captured ... I have a large mental store of those ones ... the ones I saw but didn't take.

Enter The Ellis Collective; a six piece folk-rock (also referred to as 'Bloke-folk' ;-) ) group from Canberra. I'd shot them before and we were both very happy with the results. I met with Matty Ellis (the large chap with the shaved head) in early March and we tossed around some ideas. There were to be two separate shoots ... the first of the band having a picnic and the second ... well ...

Matty had this idea of a shot with band at night standing in front of a car's headlights and I began to think of how I'd do it. This was one of those times when you know technically how you would take a shot but have never actually taken a shot like it. I knew from my Strobist readings many years ago (that's a great site if you're into using any kind of flash in your photography btw) how to expose for the background lighting and illuminate the foregound with speedlights or flash.  I knew I could do it and I wanted to do it and the band were into it but I'd never attempted it before ... and certainly not with paying clients! There was a real risk that we would come away with nothing ... that I'd assembled the group in the dark for nothing ;-)

The shot called for a stretch of deserted road ... I used trusty Google Maps and found a spot amongst the fields of Pialligo out near the airport, arrived at sunset and began to set up. We moved a car into position and I got the band to stand in front but it became clear that I needed more light ... so we moved another two cars to just out of frame ... now we had plenty of light :-)

Now for the speedlights, I used two (Nikon SB-910 & SB-800) atop two mid light stands on either side of the band. The SB-910 on the right of the frame sported a Honly speed grid to provide harsh, directional light across the band. I controlled the power of the speedlights using the the D600 camerabuilt in flash as a commander. The camera uses the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) to alloow the body to remotely control the power setting of speedlights. The camera was atop a tripod and the pictures shot through my 70-200 f/2.8.

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The road was dusty and I got the band to kick up some dust to produce a smokey effect. One hassle with that was there a light breeze blowing across the frame from right to left ... I left the camera (with my remote in my pocket) and went down to band to get some dust in the air. However, the remote sensor on the Nikon is on the left side of the body and wouldn't trigger from my upwind side ... for these pictures I threw the dust, ran across the frame, fired the remote and got the picture ... fun! I do like a picture you have to do some work for :-)

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I even did a lighting diagram just for you :-)

Ellis Collective lighting diagram


And some from the picnic shoot too :-)

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bookcover The Grimalkin's Secret

Look what arrived in the mail today

bookcover The Grimalkin's Secret

A book! The Grimalkin's Secret by Kara Komarnitsky

A book with my dragon tail image featured on it's back cover. There was a lovely handwritten letter from Ms Komarnitsky enclosed as well.

I do like this life.

It made my afternoon ... it really did. I'm still smiling :-)

Man Up Geoff!

Man Up Geoff! says the photo-bombing carp

So, my ADSL went kaput last Monday night sometime. ISP checked all they could, have sent replacement modem (which still hasn't arrived) not that it's likely to do any good as the line tech who came this afternoon discovered that the line appears to have been disconnected at the Civic exchange. A line trace from the exchange end returns a line length of zero meters!

That's fine, I guess, they just need to reconnect it right? You'd think so. But then I receive an SMS from my ISP late this arvo saying my fault requires 'further investigation' and is expected to be rectified no later than 7pm 15th March! Tha Fuck? 15th of bloody March!

Grumbles bloody mumbles.

That's right Geoff just MTFU... it's likely a healthy thing really.
So now I'm trying to post to my blog via my phone. It's a bit slower!

Lucie Thorne - The Front - 24th February 2013

I had the pleasure, in between passing cells of heavy rain, to see Lucie Thorne perform at my local pub/gallery/cafe The Front yesterday afternoon. Lucie sings finely crafted stories of longing with aching melody and feeling. The Front provides an intimate setting to see performers and Lucie did not disappoint.

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Apparently she's become quite famous!

You can visit her here.

Lucie Thorne - The Front - 24th February 2013

Last of the Summer Rains


It rained last night, a soft gentle rain that collected in heavy droplets and made everything glisten this morning before the clouds moved in again.

I do love water drops ... 

blurred landscape of indeterminate origin

Sum of the Parts #2

blurred landscape of indeterminate origin

earth and sky 
we walk between 
pondering both

A new piece for my ongoing project the Sum of the Parts where I'm intentionally blurring a scene during capture in an attempt to deconstruct them into their component parts. The result invites the viewer to ponder and create their own landscape ... a new sum of the parts. One day I'll get enough of these to put a show together.

I particularly like the way this one remains ambiguous. Is it dusk or midday? Inland or coastal?

Monochrome self portrait with white light bars across my face

The Wind In My Heart

Monochrome self portrait with white light bars across my face

Searching, it's a common theme here on this blog ... searching for that indescribable piece that falls into place the moment we find it. The thing you don't know what you're looking for until you've found it. That thing.

I've been looking for pictures to post ... this is Pictures with Words after all ... but I've come to realise over the course of this search that I'm grown dissatisfied with my body of work. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike them, they remain good photographs but they don't represent where I am now. What to do about that? Well take some more obviously! Like this one taken this afternoon as the sun was beginning to set out the window of the flat. Those beams of incandescence, hot and bright. I felt them as I closed my eyes and breathed.

The wind in my heart

The wind in my heart

The dust in my head

The dust in my head

The wind in my heart

The wind in my heart

(come to) drive them away

Drive them away.

Listening Wind, Talking Heads, Remain In Light


as I ride the wave
the rush and churn of new over old
I am still.
centered and reflecting a blue sky


I love gerberas.

Sydney Archistracts

A term I found in the Plus "Archistract" or an Architectural Abstract describes seeing a building in an abstract way ... it's something I like to try when I'm visiting a new city (or a city that's not my city). The trick for this technique, the real trick, is to look up. These are from my walking around Sydney last weekend. Archistracts seem to work best in monochrome ... which suits me at the moment because I'm on a real monochrome kick at the moment :-)





Towards The Within

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On a monochrome kick.

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Step into the white mist at the foot of the stairs ...

Sometimes I find colour distracting. When I feel like this I like to strip the colour out ... bring the photograph back to basics so speak. Let tone and contrast and form tell their stories of how they work together to create something your eye can interpret as clouds, as stairs ... as a face ... as light and dark. Strip off the gloss and the patina ... return to an essence.