Grand Final HDR

The MCG - AFL Grand Final 2010

Quick blurb about the Grand Final, I had the opportunity to go along to the awesome game and do what I like to do, watch the people. No not the guys on the field. I actually saw very little of the actual game. My job was to get some images of the spectator reactions to the game play.

It’s an amazing experience being at the MCG with 100,015 of your closest friends and harshest enemies. Sometimes they are one and the same.

The noise the crowd makes as a pivotal moment approaches, the intake of breath as the moment is almost there and then the wild cheer or awwww when the moment succeeds or doesn’t.

The top image is an auto-stitch from my iPhone.

While I was there I took some bracketed shots and have created some HDRs of the scenes. I doubt they’ll get used for anything so I present them here.

The setting was turned all the way up to surreal so they have a saturation of colour and strong edges. I’ll also do what I initially took the photos for and tone-map the images to make the exposure look more even. This will still be HDR, just not as extreme.

And thanks for the draw guys, I now get to do it all over again! Very excited.

AFL Grand Final HDR

HDR Balloon

Now a clean version:

Grand Final HDR Clean

Tomato-Almond Pesto Linguine

Another recipe from Smitten Kitchen. My photos are still doing nothing for me as far as food is concerned, I was again both chef and photographer so I still have to get the hang of taking photos while panicking about buggering up dinner.

I used to work for Murdoch Magazines and by extension Murdoch Books. I have seen a food shoot in progress and I can easily say my photos will never have the polished look they had. We used to have a food stylist on hand to manipulate the food so it was just right for the photos. As far as I know we never used lacquer, or glue or any other strange non-food things in the styling. But we did occasionally have multiple kitchens going with the same recipe so it could be shot at different stages in the preparation chain. I wish I had gotten to view more shoots, but back then I was a very busy person.

This recipe I actually cooked prior to the Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie. But hadn’t gotten around to adding it to my ever eclectic blog. Without further ado…

_MG_3330

Tomato-Almond Pesto Linguine [from Smitten Kitchen]

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup slivered roasted almonds (or saute your own)
  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1 — 2 large garlic cloves
  • A few pinches of sea salt
  • 6 — 8 ripe mini-roma tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/41/3 cup olive oil
  • 500g linguine

Method

  1. Blend almonds in a food processor or blender (I used our Thermomix) until they are in coarse pieces.
  2. Scoop them out of the processor and set them aside.
  3. Put the basil, garlic and a few pinches of sea salt into the food processor and chop.
  4. Add the almonds back to the food processor (keeping them separate will keep them from getting too finely chopped as you get the basil and garlic to the right texture) with the tomatoes, cheese and olive oil and whirl briefly. Season it with freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Cook your linguine until it is al dente and could use another minute of cooking time. Reserve one cup of pasta cooking water and drain the rest.
  6. Immediately toss the hot linguine with the pesto and mix quickly so that it drinks the sauce up a bit. Add more pasta water if needed.

Pesto in the Thermomix
Pesto Waiting to be Used
Linguini
_MG_3355

Memories Fade

Halo James - Could Have Told You So

Halo James - Could Have Told You So

Halo James’ “Could Have Told You So” a crappy, pop-plastic 80s song to most is full of great memories for me.

I don’t know why but I vividly remember the day I bought it, not the actual date, but the experience of buying it. It’s weird the way our memories work.

I was in the city of Sydney with a couple of friends, about 16 at the time. We went into town for a day of shopping. It wasn’t a usual thing for a westy like me to make the trek into the city at this time. In year 11 at school I didn’t drive, we caught the train in and I was hanging to go to the big record store in the strand arcade. I think it pre-dated the Virgin mega-stores and it was MASSIVE taking up the whole basement level of the Strand Arcade.

Wandering around my friends were getting restless, I don’t think spending all their time in a record store was what they had intended on doing. After relentless pestering I finally agreed to leave.

On the way out there was a sale bin of 7inch vinyl singles and I took a look through while my friends pulled on my sleeves. Almost giving in my eyes spotted the name “Halo James” and my hands grabbed the record. It was on sale for $3.00

It was the only thing I bought that day.

First thing I did when I got home was listen to the record, I was immediately in love with the track and the b-side (“Well of Souls”). The second thing I did was transfer the record to a cassette tape. That tape spent forever in my Walkman. I spent a lot of hours singing away to the song in my room, in the street, at the park.

I had never seen the music video for the song. And I have never found the album for sale here in Australia. So there’s a blip of memory for you.

It probably didn’t hurt that back then I was also in love with the cover the single came in, I thought Christian James was dreamy. :P

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3qv1jcIbGo

Oh look Halo James have a MySpace page!

Cooking Away

P1010069

What a bunch of great looking produce, what a crappy photo.

As I was the one cooking, I didn’t think I could deal with both that task and using my 5DMKII to capture it. Especially when my hands would be wrist deep in buttery pastry while it is kneaded, folded and laid out in a pie dish. Next time I plan on setting up a photo-station before I begin so I can just put the stuff down and shoot it in a more controlled environment.

Baked Pie

I found the recipe on my new favourite website: Smitten Kitchen. I love the way the site owner uses stories to lead into her creations and I love the photos she uses. I couldn’t justify my constant visits without at least trying one of the recipes on the site. Which is odd cause I’m usually not very good at cooking.

After this event I realise cooking for me is like the first few times I drove a manual car. You drive the car, change up gears as you increase speed, then panic as you come to a corner, wondering how the hell am I going to get from 5th, to 4th, to 3rd, to 2nd to 1st before I reach my stopping point. Flustered and flabbergasted by the prospect of all the things that can go wrong, of the timing required, of the unknown.

Now of course driving is second nature, something I no longer even think that much about while doing it. Sure I keep an eye on the traffic, make sure no one is going to cut me off, but the basics of driving are no longer a concern.

With cooking I’m still on those first few driving outings. Still panic about what is a tablespoons worth, do they mean flat or heaped. An ounce? In an Australian recipe book, really an ounce? who does that, what does that equal in grams? And what exactly is a half a pound? How long will it take my thing to cook in my oven, why can’t someone tell me an exact time? It’s all basic stuff for a cooker. It’s all second nature, much like changing gears in a manual car now is for me.

But I had to try something from Smitten Kitchen. That way I can justify the time I spend looking at the beautiful photos.

Going through the pages I had to choose something vegetarian friendly, and there is a lot of that on the site. And I had to choose something fun. In the end I chose two recipes. Linguine with tomato-almond pesto and Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie [improved].

We started the morning with a nice breakfast at Cafe Penette in South Melbourne, then over to the South Melbourne Market for supplies.

Breakfast
P1010046

In the end we only picked up the rhubarb and strawberries from here. No one had tapioca (an ingredient in the pie), and I’m guessing from the looks on their faces when asked, some of the folks there don’t even know what it is. The rhubarb was $4.00 a bunch (I bought three only used one and a half) and the strawberries $4.99 per two punnet (I bought four only used two, ate another while cooking).

Rhubarb
Strawberries

Finally found tapioca at Coles, was supposed to be “fast cooking” but I couldn’t find any. So finally, here’s the recipe from Smitten Kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Smitten Kitchen’s All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough or double-crust pie dough of your choice
  • 3½ cups (about 680 g, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 2½-centremetre thick slices
  • 3½ cups (about 450 g) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup quick-cooking tapioca
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 30-centremetre circle and carefully transfer to a 23-centremetre pie plate. (I followed Deb’s suggestion to fold the pastry gently into quarters, to transfer it more easily, then unfold it in the pie plate.)
  2. Stir together the rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca in a large bowl.
  3. Mound filling inside bottom pie crust and dot with bits of unsalted butter.
  4. Roll second half of pie dough into an 27-centremetre circle and cut decorative slits in it (I actually did the slits after I had transferred the pastry, I didn’t trust myself not to bugger it up with all the slits in it.).
  5. Transfer it to centre over the pie filling.
  6. Trim top and bottom pie dough so that their overhang beyond the pie plate lip is only 2½-centremetres.
  7. Tuck rim of dough underneath itself and crimp it decoratively.
  8. Transfer pie to a baking sheet and brush egg yolk mixture over dough.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 180 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.
  10. Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. When fully cool (several hours later) the juices gel.

I served it cool, and also served it hot, with ice cream and custard. It tastes awesome. Notice the decorative leaves, a flourish I added because I remember Mum always used to put them on the Apple Pies she used to make when I was a kid.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie
Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie

Fashion Aid III – 2010

Too many flashes

Yesterday was a very busy day. The morning started with a cute little baby, then school and rounded out with shooting for a charity event, Fashion Aid III, sponsored by iSelect Insurance.

20100911_fashionaid_0165

I was lucky enough to be one of the photographers selected to work the event, I mean volunteer to work the event. And it’s an opportunity I would gladly accept again tomorrow. But one thing I know. If I’m going to shoot social events I’m going to have to study a who’s who guide. Some of the folks expect you to know who they are, others will act like they are someone when you’re pretty sure they’re not. Then there are the ladies who know how to work the red carpet. It seems like they may practise their poses for hours before they arrive.

As I arrived early I ducked in to the main room of the Palladium when I heard Jessica going through her soundcheck. It was great. From that point on I was settled (from my previous nerves) and looking forward to the night ahead.

Jessica Mauboy during soundcheck

Fashion Aid III was a charity event, of the 40 or so student photographers who were invited to shoot I think about 15 showed. Poor form on the part of the students who chose not to honour a commitment. And of the 15 that attended only about five of us were left at midnight, our official quitting time.

Aside from the student photogs there were also about 10 professional shooters, some shooting for newspapers, others for fashion magazines. The red carpet was a washout. I referred to it as a shark pit last night and stand by that in the light of the day. First of all we were all supposed to stay behind the barrier (a rope sash), when the first celebrity-like guest arrived that rule was instantly broken. In fact I was the only one remaining behind the rope.

I also now know why professional photographers “machine gun” their shots on the red carpet. On the off chance that everyone’s flash goes off at once you end up with a massive white frame. If they shoot in quick succession they are more likely to get a clean shot out of it. The example below is one of the ones I kept, I was deleting images as I went. The other reason I didn’t shoot massive amounts of photos was out of fear I’d run out of memory on my cards.

Too many flashes

Being one of the tallest I courteously stayed back, let the shorter shooters in front. BIG MISTAKE. I ended up with a lot of shots that looked like the one below as the photographers shot blind over the heads of those in front of them.

Better to be short

So next time, no more mister nice guy. Really though, who am I kidding, I am a nice guy. Not sure I could get too pushy and in the end one of the paid guys was nice, offered his metal camera case for me to stand on so I could see over the other photographers. Didn’t really work though. First of all the celebes were all tiny and made eye-contact more with those in their direct line of site, and being higher up didn’t stop the blind shooters I mentioned before sticking their camera up in my way.

Kelly Landry
Amber Renae
Geoffrey and Brynn Edelstein
20100911_fashionaid_0017
20100911_fashionaid_0062
20100911_fashionaid_0027

In the end I abandoned the red carpet and went to the end of the red carpet. You don’t get the best shots from there but I did manage to talk briefly to Jessica Mauboy’s publicist from Sony and was able to take a portrait of Ms Mauboy. I was stoked that I had the guts to a) talk to the rep and b) to ask Jessica to stand where I wanted her. Didn’t quite get her lined up where I wanted, but didn’t want to push my luck and was still happy with the result. She then went off to do more interviews on her way through.

Jessica Mauboy
Jessica Mauboy is interviewed

Shot a few more of the celebrities, probably can’t say too much about them for fear of saying the wrong things. Suffice it to say some of them dress as they are expected to dress. Others are fully prepared and revel in the red carpet parade. They are ready, they have their poses down. Some of them have a crazed look in their eyes, yet only about one in twenty were people who walked the red carpet I could recognise.

1,200 guests and less than 100 of them would have walked the carpet, the rest opting to go round the back. Some of them walked the carpet twice.

The event finally officially started at 7:30. There was a quick whip around where they asked the folks for more money (having already paid at the very least $220 per seat for a table of 10). This was followed by a talk from the CEO of Mission Australia extolling the virtues of their work. Finally introducing a young kid who has been helped by Mission Australia.

The introduction included his talk about how his two 17 year old girls have progressed beyond shopping at Target, how they now insist on shopping at stores along Chapel Street, Sass and Bide being their favourite. Perhaps it was his way of trying to connect with the audience who clearly aren’t too bad off. It just seemed a little bit wrong to talk of opulence when introducing some poor kid to say how great you are.

The kid talked about how his family had dealt with alcoholism, petty crime and abuse. How Mission Australia had turned his life around and how it hadn’t always been easy. His story was, at times, heart wrenching, but he was well groomed (in both the look and the way he presented). His story may well have been better received had it not followed the CEO’s introduction and without the stare that seems to say “don’t you f*%k this up.”

CEO of Mission Australia

A fashion show followed featuring designs from Kooey, Mina & Katusha, Black Betty, Lisa Brown and Jason Grech. The show was fun and featured a vocalist, violinist, dancers and of course models in nice clothes.

Fashion ShowFashion Show

Jessica Mauboy performed next. Running through several of her songs from her previous album and announcing her new album due out next week (I think). I personally think Jessica is awesome. She looks and sounds great. The funniest highlight of the performance though was when the dancers removed their shirts and all the girls in the audience (and some of the boys) watched the dancers who were futher back on the stage, rather than Jessica who was down the end of the catwalk. And included in the girls was Lillian Frank, she was dancing grinning from ear to ear. It was cute.

Jessica Mauboy PerformsJessica Mauboy PerformsJessica Mauboy PerformsOne of Jessica's DancersJessica Mauboy and her Dancers

Crazy auctions followed next. We photographers took this as a time to have a little break. It went on for ages and apparently some folks decided to drunk bid and refused to pay up when the time came, because of this they had to re-auction three or four items.

20100911_fashionaid_0588 20100911_fashionaid_055620100911_fashionaid_0584

The final performance of the night was a group called “Collective”, a Melbourne-based cover band who did a pretty good job getting the people on their feet and dancing. Of course this was helped by the free-flowing alcohol that had been served all night.

Collective - SingerCollective - DJCollective - SaxophonistCollective - GuitaristCollective - Drummer

In conclusion my results weren’t super, but then as “student” photographers there were defined rules about where we could stand, especially during the fashion show. I think I need more practice shooting in the mixed-light environment that events provide. I also had one point during the night when my flash decided it wanted to always shoot at full power, and wouldn’t let me into the on-camera settings to adjust it. Youchy. In the end I had to clean the terminals and reattach the unit. Kind of weird it happened part-way through.

I’d do it again and will say as much in the note accompanying my disc. It was fun. I met a few more of the students from the school and got to see how the industry photographers shoot. Any thing that pushes me out of my comfort zone is an all-round great experience.

Digital Class is a Pain

Still Life, minor digital manipulation to add another end to the sprig of leaves

Seattle skyline, with an addition

Every Saturday for the past seven weeks I’ve gone along to a class which is part of our core requirements for my Advanced Diploma of Photography at PSC. On first review of the class outline I thought, this will be great. I’ll learn all about printing at print labs, cause it’s not something I do that often now, but of course will be doing a lot in the future.

The first six weeks have been almost unbearable. If it wasn’t for the fact that I have such nice classmates I think I would be pulling my hair out.

Week seven finally came around, we were going to talk about printing. YAY I was finally excited. Then bam! The whole talk about printing (so far) is: You should always submit your photos to the print lab using their specifications.

Ummm yeah, of course.

“And here is a PDF showing the pricing and print specs for the PSC print lab.”

I was like, what tha! That’s it, seven weeks of boredom and THAT’S IT!

Argh. Funny thing is I probably could have gotten an out on this class. But having seen what another classmate had to go through to do so, and he works in a print lab. I’m not sure I could have successfully proven prior knowledge to their satisfaction given that I’ve never worked in the print world AND I’ve never actually sent a print job to a professional lab before. Well once before via work. And the guys at work checked my file first.

So fingers crossed the next five weeks aren’t as lame, we will be talking more about the extra tweaks we should make to our photos prior to printing, additional sharpening etc, and how to soft-proof with colour profiles prior to submission. Which reminds me, I have to remember to borrow the monitor calibrator from work this coming week to make sure my new iMac is correct.

We’re not required to create a print at school for two weeks, because some of the rest of the class is a little behind and we’re slightly behind schedule. But I’m going to give it a go. Now we’ve had the “print lab chat” we’re allowed to start sending files to the lab.

PSC has lots of little things like that. You can’t use the print lab till you’ve had the chat. Same with the studio space, once we’ve had our workshop in October we can book in to use the space for our projects and external work, as long as it supports our education.

I also learnt last night, from a couple of second year students shooting Fashion+Aid with me, that PSC has a couple of large and medium format cameras available for loan (or hire, can’t remember), but not until we learn about them in year 2.

So for now I’ll sit in a class I don’t really need to take. Listen to yet another tutor tell us all how our other tutors may have their way of doing things but he’d prefer we investigate using HIS way. A practice which continues to confuse sections of the class.

And while this is becoming a bit of a rant, please indulge me while I continue.

The tutors ALL have different ways of doing things. They ALL tell you their way is better. This is from the file formats we should use (either the camera’s own RAW format or DNG) to the way we should sort and store our files (some in chronological folders with shoot names, some without names, cause why would you need them when that information is in the EXIF data anyway). For the record I prefer to keep mine in their original format. Making them DNG doesn’t really do that much to future-proof them anyway (which is one of the reasons for conversion) and it takes heaps longer to import the files. And on naming conventions, I’ve tried both since starting my classes. Hate the one where you’d just use a date format for folder and file names. much prefer the ones with an attached name, makes it much easier when you are scanning your folders or on another computer that doesn’t have the same search facilities as the Mac (Spotlight is awesome for searching any data in a file, but I may not always be on a mac).

Constantly switching what we are taught is a BAD practice for the students who have little to no idea about computers. It continues to confuse them and doesn’t allow them to fully get into one way of doing things before it is changed up.

Our current digital tutor also tends to be halfway through showing one way of doing something in Photoshop, only to remember there is another way to do it and switches to that way, confusing the crap out of the students who could barely follow along in the first place. His favourite saying in class is “there is between 3 and 30 ways of doing everything in Photoshop”.

And I’m a little loath to assist the other students myself. Not because I don’t want to or can’t (I most certainly can) but because once I start the tutor will notice and leave another student he was halfway through assisting to come and take over from me, leaving the student he left with only half a solution and confusing the student I was helping by starting all over again and leaving the point we were up to.

So that’s my rant, six (no seven) weeks of pent-up frustration having to sit through a class I don’t think I really need to do, right in the middle of Saturday afternoons!

Photo above is the Seattle skyline I took while in the US earlier this year, you may notice the digital manipulation in the photo haha.

Coming to the Pointy End

Not exactly the end, maybe a pointy peak in the middle. On Wednesday in class we were apparently told next week we’ll be presenting our concept proposals for our end of term portfolios. This means not only do we have to have our written proposal complete, we apparently also have to create a presentation to outline our concept. I say apparently a lot because I wasn’t in class last week.

According to my classmates we need to provide a minimum of five images by other people supporting our theme. We also need to shoot a minimum of five of our own images to support our theme. They don’t need to be quality they just need to support our portfolio. They may be shots of locations we intend to use, sample shots of concept work. They can also be supported by work in our visual diaries, drawings of shot set-ups.

In the past these have been presented as powerpoint, keynote, PDF etc. Sometimes with props sometimes, as reported by members of my class, as small low-budget motion pictures. I find it nuts that we only hear about this one week out but we get two weeks to work on single shots like a self portrait or a mood lighting shot.

So today I hope to take a little road trip, I’m looking for a wood/forest to support one of my concepts, I have two and haven’t yet ruled either out. My tutor, on hearing my two concepts suggested I could perhaps combine the two. Not sure they would work together.

Our portfolio is also supposed to be “about” something and well to be honest I don’t think either of mine are. They are just fun concepts. Perhaps in working up my documentation I’ll come up with a rational for them.

So I have a busy few days ahead. Wish me luck.

My Casting Calls

When Life Was All About Fun

Hey All,

I’m a student photographer looking to create my portfolio for the end of second semester and I’m looking for models to achieve the desired outcome.

I’m posting two casting calls as I have two concepts I’d like to explore.

This one is “When Life Was All About Fun” and it’s an exploration of adults doing activities usually reserved for children. The activities we give away as we grow up.

The shots will include activities like:

  • Playing hopscotch using a chalk-drawn hopscotch on a road or path.
  • Running through the sprinkler or a hot summer’s day (we’ll have to fake the summer’s day part)
  • Playing knuckles/jacks sitting cross-legged in a circle
  • Having a spacehopper / sack / three-legged race
  • Climbing a tree, hanging from its branches
  • Getting a scrapped knee and a bandaid applied
  • Playing on a Pogostick
  • Playing in a park, on a roundabout (if I can find one these days), a slide, hanging from bars
  • Big birthday cakes with candles and sheer joy on the face of the model
  • Any activity that is viewed as something for kids.

I’ll also try to source clothes with a 70/80s feel to date the concept cause let’s be honest most kid activities these days revolve around a computer of some kind rather than the outdoors.

Prefer to do this as TFCD as I don’t have a huge budget.

There will be street / park locations and I’ll obtain permits where required, I’ll also source clothing but am open to anything models may have that would suit.

Don’t require the same models for all shots so if there is something that interests you we can shoot shots individually.

The long date range is because it will be an ongoing project with some planning and because shots can be taken over time, we don’t have to try and get it all done in one day. Having said that, if I can get a group of about five models we may be able to shoot it all on a single shoot.

If you’re interested or have any questions about the concept please let me know.

A Forest of Fashion

Hey All,

I’m a student photographer looking to create my portfolio for the end of second semester and I’m looking for models to achieve the desired outcome.

I’m posting two casting calls as I have two concepts I’d like to explore.

This one is “A Forest of Fashion” and it’s basically a fashion shoot on the darker side. Shot in a heavy wood where the light heavily filtered by the trees and augmented by low-power strobes to light up the model and clothing.

I’ll try to source clothes once models are worked out, but it would be awesome of the model/s have appropriate clothing.

Prefer to do this as TFCD as I don’t have a huge budget but can chip in for any travel costs.

The locations I’m looking at are Long Forest (north west of Melbourne), Mornington (south), Dandenongs (east), King Lake (north), Ottways (south west), which ever is closest to the models. Long Forest being preferred but can do any dense wooded area.

Would be great if I can get three to four models of mixed gender.

The long date range is because it will be an ongoing project with some planning and because shots can be taken over time, though ideally we’ll knock it out in the one shoot of a few hours.

If you’re interested or have any questions about the concept please let me know.