Last year D-Photo ran our first Travel Photography competition with a chance to win a trip to participate in a weekend workshop with the Queenstown Centre for Creative Photography, flights and accommodation provided by Canon New Zealand.
Chris Fawcett’s quirky shot of ornate Versailles, France earned top spot in the competition (see D-Photo 44), securing a place for the photographer at Mike Langford and Jackie Ranken’s Otago-based Autumn Colours workshop.
This four-day experience involves roaming through the ruggedly beautiful Skippers Canyon and Macetown areas in four-wheel drive vehicles, chasing down some of New Zealand’s most sublime landscape opportunities.
Fawcett says the event was a mix of different types of sessions that all helped him try out new techniques and gain valuable insights from two of the country’s best.
“We had some straight camera technique instructions, we had time to critique our own and other photographs and we had time to discuss design and see some of Mike and Jackie’s work. However most of the time was out and around at Macetown and Skippers Canyon taking photos.
“It was great to take photos then be able to critique them and discuss technical aspects with two very knowledgeable professionals.”
In the master photographers’ own words, the workshop has been designed to encourage photographers to ‘take risks, to be inspired and energised, to be more open and expressive in your photography’.
“We consider the process of making images to be more important than in some cases than the product. You should leave this course knowing yourself a little better; and your camera and tripod will be your best friend.”
It’s an education that Fawcett certainly found rewarding, counting lessons in filters, contrast settings and white balance as well as beginning understand the elements of design as his most valuable.
“I learnt a way of looking at making photos – I did not expect to have to re-think how I was taking the photo, but this will be a great thing to take in to the future,” explains Fawcett.
“[Jackie and Mike are a] combination of being extremely talented and yet good teachers. In my experience this is a rare combination.”
Below are a few images Fawcett created while on the workshop, which he says he would highly recommend to any photographer.
Getting your favourite images from screen to print can be a trickier prospect than it might initially seem, especially if your looking to produce something that’s up to scratch for photography competitions. Award-winning photographer Jackie Ranken is here to share a few points to consider when creating your own, hopefully award-winning prints.
This article is an extension of Jackie’s look at the new Canon Pixma Pro-1 A3+ photo printer, published in D-Photo 48 on sale May 28.
Printing my own images is important to me, because it allows me to be spontaneous and responsive with my photography from the beginning to end. I believe that images become photographs only once they are printed and the benefits are that once printed it will last between 100-200 years. It is only in this final state that its visual impact is final and complete.
That is why we have ‘print awards’. It’s an integral part of our visual communication. Having my own printer allows me to celebrate my photography in the best possible way, there is nothing like getting back after a days shoot, printing a favourite image, pinning it up on the wall and having a glass of Chardonnay with Mike as we debrief. This is what being a photographer is all about, showing your work.
I will outline the results and the procedure I use to print my images for competitions and limited editions. I am going to suggest to you a printing technique I use to find the most appropriate paper and profile for the image (without using too much paper or ink). This article is not about colour management but you do need to understand about colour spaces and colour profiles to get the best out of your printing.
Start with a colour balanced and profiled monitor. I make a colour chart by making a collage of a range of my own images. I try and include a wide range of colours and tonal ranges that I like.
Before I print a full A3 or A4 image I will make a test print by selecting a strip of the print and dropping it onto a blank sheet (in Photoshop). If needed I then make consecutive test strips below that first strip. If the first test is not suitable I can make changes to the way the print is rendered, (Perceptual vs. Relative Colormetric) and/or allowing the printer to control the colour vs. Photoshop and/or create a custom ICC profile from the software supplied.
I own my own Xrite i1 Profiler and am able to create custom profiles that created a slightly more accurate print. If you buy your printer and paper (from a New Zealand company) they may create a custom profile for your favourite papers at no charge.
When printing full prints it’s important to write notes on the edge of each print, identifying what paper it is and what setting was used. When you have a series of the same image printed on various papers you can make valued judgments and see what papers work best with various types of images.
For instance, glossy papers tend to make the colours and the image jump off the page, where as, when you view a matt printed image you tend to sink into it. It’s an aesthetic that needs to be considered because it has an emotive effect. Choose the best paper to suit the communication.
Some of the top photographers from both here and Australia will soon be exhibiting their best efforts at a showcase of world-class landscape photography in Auckland.
Organised by the Contemporary Photography Foundation, the June exhibition features works from the likes of Ken Duncan and Christian Fletcher from Australia as well as locals such as Mike Langford, Jackie Ranken and Andris Apse.
The Foundation has arranged the landscape exhibition, running from June 15 to 17, as part of the citywide Auckland Festival of Photography and is the first of its kind, says director Ronald Winstone.
The exhibition will be held at Parnell’s Kinder House where all works will be available for purchase.
Jackie Ranken finishes off her wonderful guide to lighting techniques for travel portraiture in D-Photo 47, on sale today. For those ready to pack their bags and put these lessons into practice Jackie has also put together this handy checklist of the gear she find most helpful in her wandering photographic adventures.
My Travel Kit
Many people struggle with decisions about what lenses and camera to take on a trip. My answer is to take gear that will allow you to take the kind of images you aspire to make. My motivation to travel is to photograph landscapes as well as people so I make sure I carry a sturdy tripod. I dismantle the tripod head from the legs so that it will fit into my checked luggage. I ‘carry on’ my camera bag and laptop bag. I know airlines say you can only ‘carry on’ one bag, but I have found two bags with electronics will always get through as long as they are not too heavy (placing a laptop in your camera bag can make it too heavy). My Kit includes:
The wide-angle lens on my full frame sensor Canon 5D mkII is f/ 2.8 16-35mm, to see the equivalent view on a smaller sensor camera you require a 10-22mm lens.
These ultra-wide-angle lenses are primarily used for landscape photography but it’s also handy for environmental portraits. These portraits show what the person looks like as well as what they do and where they are. The largest and sharpest objects in the frame become the most important elements, followed successively by other subject matter.
An f/2.8 24-70mm is equivalent to 17-42mm on a small sensor camera. The wide on this lens would be wide enough for most environmental portraiture (many people opt for an 18-200mm lens as a travel lens because of it’s versatility and less changes of lens means less chance of getting dust on your sensor).
An f/2.8 70-200mm is the lens that helps separate my subject away from the background. My f/2.8 lens is quite heavy because the glass elements within the lens are much bigger. It’s the lens that I have and I love it, so I am prepared to travel with it. An f/4 lens will also do a very good job. What’s most important is the idea and the correct use of the equipment you have.
Tripods and camera shake
Whenever your shutter speed is between 1/15th of a second and one second camera shake can be caused by the simple press on the exposure button. The best technique is to use a cable release or infrared cable release to fire the shutter. If this is not available another option is to use a two-second delay timer.
The best travel tripod is the tripod you are prepared to carry with you and not leave back in the hotel. Generally your tripod should weigh more that your camera body and lens or the whole set-up can be top heavy and unstable. Many tripods have a small hook at the bottom of the centre post so you can add weight and thereby add stability. The next consideration is a camera bag that allows you to attach your tripod so that you can still have your hands free. Cheap tripods can be dangerous for your gear.
I have a small halogen torch that has two settings; a bright spotlight and soft diffused light. It’s lightweight and can also be mounted on my forehead to leave my hands free for walking or looking for gear when it’s dark.
I don’t take a flash when travelling; in my next article I will write about using flash for portraits.
A comprehensive guidebook to practical landscape photography in new Zealand, written by two of the country’s top photographers, is now available in digital ebook format.
Creative Landscape Photography by Queenstown photographers Jackie Ranken and Mike Langford is now available as a downloadable PDF from Camera Labs for US$9.97 (about NZ$12, the PayPal service handles conversion).
The downloadable PDF file is 33MB large and contains all 86 pages of the original book, including quick guide, in-field tutorials and technical notes.
The PDF file can be viewed by almost all computers, laptops and tablets (including iPads) – check your specific model’s file compatibility if unsure.
The book, which was released last year, is accessible for beginners and covers basic camera functions, modes and settings before delving into the landscape specifics. Read the rest of this entry »
Continuing D-Photo’s online coverage of this year’s Epson/NZIPP Iris Professional Photography Awards we present the winners of the Landscape, Travel and Student/Assistant categories.
Jackie Ranken makes yet another appearance on the list, adding the Landscape category to her haul, which also includes Illustrative and Editorial/Photojournalism prizes this year.
A Master of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography and dedicated D-Photo contributor, Ranken is also twice winner of Australian Institute Landscape Photographer of the Year and World Press Award.
Palmerston North-based Gerald Wilson took out this year’s Travel category with a number of his internationally acclaimed portrait shots.
Wilson chalks up his portait success to a love of ‘family’, considering it a privilege to help New Zealand families honour themselves and their loved ones by way of enhanced hand-made portraiture.
This year’s Student/Assistant category was won by UCOL student Aimee Thompson.
Thompson is a second year Bachelor of Applied Visual Imaging student at the school, which for the last six years has been named Institute of the Year, a category that was discontinued this year.