Category: Fauna

Back from the Land of the Long White Cloud…

I have been back a week now, and starting to get some of the stock organised from the New Zealand (South Island) Junket. I had a fantastic time, and managed to improve my skill set immensely as well as come back with some beautiful memories and shots. I’d really love to get back there soon, and possibly move there in the future. It seems to be one of the last paradises left.

I was somewhat disappointed from the wildlife point of view, but I guess that’s because I aimed to see so much that I didn’t allow myself the luxury of the time necessary to just sit and wait for the local fauna to begin to ignore me and get on with normal activities. Somehow I lost sight of that in the euphoria of making the trip happen. Still, I met some great people, managed to generate a bit of free publicity for my business internationally, hopefully it’s generating further interest when each of those I chatted to gets home themselves. Best of all I enjoyed a magnificent country with a population working quite hard to live in an environmentally sustainable manner, with an environmental, economic and social focus. Fantastic to see in action.

Overall, I’d say there was not much I could have done to improve this trip being my first overseas working photography trip. As I said, unintentionally I think I prioritised scenery and flora over wildlife, but then on reflection I’m not sure in this instance I could have done it any other way now. I would need to have that focus purely for the trip I think as so much of the wildlife is birds, which requires quite a bit of waiting at times.

One of the other glaring gaps in my planning for the trip was the lack of a 35mm Lens. I can see that because I wasn’t originally planning to be doing so much landscape when I was organising the trip originally. Certainly I was planning on seeing the landscape, but hadn’t consciously realised I’d be shooting that above everything else. Still lessons learned, and still plenty of stock. And certainly I could do with more landscape stock. Still on landscape, I was very happy with my filter work (see featured shot above). I believe I’ve improved that significantly on the trip, and also found that I can achieve similar results with my AF-S NIKKOR 14-24MM F/2.8G ED (1.7X) without a filter with a bit of patience. Great considering a special adapter is required to use filters on such a lens. And it gives me great results such as this one below.

Barrow Downs 2


Although both the images in this post required a tripod, I did do far more handheld over the course of the trip, and also felt that my ability to shoot handheld in difficult circumstances improved significantly as too did my ingenuity for when I didn’t have a tripod but needed some extra stability.

Trips being Planned…

I’ve been putting together some plans for the next few trips to do some shooting.

Located on the far east “point” of Victoria, it’s about as far on road as you can go in this State. This seems like to be comprised of two components: a short 4 day trip to scout about and the second part a week long trip staying on a hired Houseboat with a friend. There are apparently plenty of jetties to tie up to at different points about the river & inlet.

It doesn’t matter where in the Grampians you go, there’s nothing but awesome scenery to shoot, along with beautiful wildflowers and in particular Orchids.

Located in the south of Victoria, there is some absolutely amazing Forest & Wildlife to be seen. In particular I’m looking forward to walking out to Sabine Waterfall. It’s an hour’s walk from the road, but approximately 130 metres high, so should be a treat! Apparently there’s a Black Carnivorous Snail that’s rare, apparently endangered, but a real treat if you get to shoot one.

Werribee Gorge
Apparently this is a area abounding with great scenery & walks for all skill levels. Walks go from the easy right through to tough!

Making Use of Unproductive Downtime…

So further on this 365 Day plan. Having thought about it a bit more, I’ve decided that the Goal should be to spend no more than an hour on the shot each day. That doesn’t include any post production afterwards. Normally that is 5 to 10 minutes maximum. However on Friday (which is the day of the work week scheduled for work on Shards of Arcadia business I will then spruce up the previous week’s collection of shots and post up on Alamy.

This is both an exercise in skill development as well as discipline. I hope, as time goes on that this practice will develop my ability to pull up stock art shots quickly and provide a quality shot in a minimum amount of time in comparison to my more “art focussed” work. Additionally during that period where I’m working on the stock in the Post Production Session, after uploading I shall spend a bit of time researching forums & blogs for what seems to be in demand (or lacking) at the moment. If I can develop some work around those themes, it’s likely something will be in a better position to sell.

Additionally I’m starting another exercise, building a collection of oddities that will serve as inspiration for shots when I’m struggling for an idea. So as I find interesting things that I think that could make an interesting shot, if it’s small enough it will go in the “Rainy Day Shot Box” for inspiration. If it’s too big to go in the box obviously I need to make a note about it in my “Inspiration Journal”. So if I don’t have a project on, or it’s not feasible to be working on one of the Projects, I can reach into either the “RD Shot Box” or the “IJ” for something to work on. Not sure my life can afford many more wasted moments.

Using the Camranger

I have to say that I looked at this device a while ago when I realised that Nikon just wasn’t going to put wireless on a lot of it’s cameras for a while yet. It also offered way more possibilities than the Eye-Fi devices did, even though they were handy. I still use them on occasion, for a quick transmission of photos to show someone. The Nikon Wifi units such as the WU-1B or WU-1A themselves seem of little use to me in their current incarnations, and better units cost significantly more but with no better functionality until you reach the $1000 price range.

The best feature for me is of course the iPad application. It allows me to stop cramping myself into some ridiculously tight spots.

Just One More Fork in the Road (we’re on)…

Well now that I’ve launched my Online Store this blog will probably take a little bit of a different focus from now on and although it will still be updated with photos regularly, some will also go in the shop too. However there will still be photos on here that I don’t think will sell for one reason or another, so they won’t be available to see via the Online Store. So there will still be a reason to visit this site too for those only interested in seeing the photos, and not really interested in technical discussions.

Over the next couple of weeks the organisation of this site might change a bit, not greatly, but enough to reflect the different flavour the site will take on.

There’ll be more discussion on techniques, or the exploration of a theme and some series I will be beginning to work on shortly.

Maintenance Time…

Well I was up serious about an early morning shoot to get back into the swing of things with a tryout of the Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 lens. But after a 5 minute wander outside at 05:30 I decided my cold infested lungs that felt like I had razor blades & ball bearings in the bottom of them were not up to the challenge. I’d stay inside and come up with something else. So I decided to do what I’d been intending to do all week since the arrival of said addition to the kit. This was create a new car kit, and review everything since I’d originally put it together as quite a few things have changed.

Gone is the D3100 that was tucked in there, I gave that away to a friend a couple of months ago after getting the D810. The D7000 now becomes the all reliable “yes you have a camera in the car”! It’s had a sensor clean, and I’ve given it the small backpack I was using as I’ve recently purchased a new manfrotto pack with more room for the larger lenses I’ve gained over recent times. So it was a shuffle of camera, lenses, cards, batteries, flash, remotes, and other peripheral gear between small pack, vest for other gear, and some for the larger back.

The D600 got a sensor clean, it’s needed one for a while, but finding quality cleaning gear cheaply is not easy. However it came up magnificently again, and is shooting as it did when I bought it. Those who know about the D600 know it was notorious very quickly for a defect where lubricant collected on the sensor. I had hoped I’d bought from a batch where the problem had been “silently” fixed as Nikon seems to be somewhat fond of doing in recent times. But in the last couple of months it seemed not so at some point it was going to require regular cleaning. I’ll see how it goes, it’s still a great camera despite this manufacturing defect. I took a chance, I was aware of the issue, and it seemed like as time went on your chances of getting one that didn’t have the issue seemed better. But that’s the crumbling cookie as they say. Anyway after the clean I had just enough light to run a quick test of the Nikkor 70-200mm F2.8 and see what I was paying for in a big way.

And the attached Tiggakat is a nice start.

A not so “Elegant” Gypsy…

This little lady was bolting along like her tail (if she had one) was on fire! Never stopped for a second on her mission! I wouldn’t have noticed her except she bumped on the study window a couple of times in her trek about the back of the house. Then she continued on around the patio and I opened the gate for her so she could get out the front rather than have the furbags pester her too much. They were more curious than anything else. Tigga’s seen several now, but for Chemoux this is her first.

I did have to stop and slow a few cars for her while she was trundling along under some cars parked on the side of the road. I usually see two or three of these in a year. This one is probably quite young as she’s the smallest I’ve had wander through in the last six years. Unfortunately the dull day, and her constant movement made shooting difficult and I didn’t want to use flash as her eyesight isn’t great at anytime. These little critters use their nose more than anything. So these are pretty ordinary shots, most of which I deleted, but many people don’t get to see these too often these days so best of a bad bunch.

Claws of Death…

Chemoux is proving herself just as photogenic as Tigga. She’s also proving every bit the huntress just the same as her “Aunt”. Chemoux still lacks the patience of the “seasoned” hunter, but she’s no less deadly!

A Moment that Needs No Words…

I have nothing to add that this photo doesn’t say without me.

There’s Days You Do and Days You Don’t…

A day of returning to previously scoped sites and scoping and new sites. Some of Sunday, and some of Monday was spent following up previous leads, and generating new ones. Not sure I managed to catch a definitive shot on either day for the sites concerned, but getting back home and reflecting on the shots has generated some new ideas for some future shots in both these locations and potentially future locations, by virtue of any similarities. So a learning lesson. And as long as I walk away with that, I’ve walked away with something, and the shot will come later at a future instant!

I’ll need to go back to Dean for another couple of shots, now that I’ve been provided some interesting information about one of the tumbled down buildings there. I’d hoped to get some interesting wildlife shots from the Gong Gong reservoir, but clearly it’s too dry there for what I was looking for, and perhaps just a bit late in the day for the birds, and other retiring wildlife.