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“By three methods we may learn wisdom”

Above: A photo I took in Milan, Italy Canon 5DMK11 24-105mm lens By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. – Confucius

Developing your creativity and the art of smuggling cannoli

There are some things you just don’t notice because they happen so slowly, like fingernails growing, the earth spinning or the six extra kilos I smuggle home on my thighs every time I travel to Italy. I just wake up one day and notice my nails are long, or suddenly it’s the next day, or my favourite jeans don’t fit anymore. It always feels like these things just happen overnight, but it’s a slow and gradual process much like developing your style as an artist. Is your work evolving quickly enough? Many artists I speak to get frustrated by the fact that they feel like their work is not evolving quickly enough, or not at all. The reality is, if you are doing something towards achieving your goals consistently, there will be growth. The two extra cannoli I ate on the first day of my Sicily trip had zero impact,...

Light creep no more! How to remove a lightstand from an image using Photoshop.

Do you ever get frustrated by light creep? Light creep is where the edge of a light modifier or light stand creeps into the edge of the frame. This is often really difficult to avoid because the best portrait lighting is created when the lights are really close to the subject. I can easily avoid light creep by shooting my portraits really tight, but sometimes I find amazing backgrounds that I also want to include in my shot. My options were limited to moving my light further away from my model, and out of frame or not lighting my model at all. Then I discovered this really easy photoshop technique to remove lights and my entire approach to lighting portraits changed for the better. 1. A tripod is essential for this shot. It’s also critical that the tripod doesn’t move. If you are using a lightweight tripod, I recommend you...

Lessons in Lightroom from Nigella.

I’ve been binge watching cooking shows during the summer. Nigella, Jamie, Anthony and Man vs Food (don’t judge me) are a few of my faves. Food porn is awesome. I watch in a Homer Simpson style stupor “mmmmmm donuts….” and the great thing about these shows is I can gorge on them all summer long and still fit into my jeans at the end of it. So aside from learning how to make chocolate filled donuts using a brioche pastry (the secret to a good brioche is chilling it overnight), I also realised that many of the principles used to create amazing meals can also be applied to the way we edit our photos. 1. You can’t make a Filet Mignon with Spam I’m yet to hear Nigella, Jamie or Anthony utter the words: “just start with the cheapest ingredients, canned, packet, freeze dried is fine. Forget about the preparation,...

What are you looking at?

We spend a great deal of time taking care of our lenses, camera bodies, lights and accessories but very little thought goes into taking good care on the one item that makes it possible to do our job well: our eyes. For every hour spent shooting there is usually two hours spent editing and that means spending long nights staring at a computer screen, which may lead to irreparable eye damage. I’m a huge fan of alternative health hacks and the other day I heard a fantastic interview with Dr John Dewitt who had the following tips to maintaining great eye health when spending long hours staring at a screen. Try these out next time you’re pulling an all nighter editing photos. Your eyes will love you for it. Blink 20 Did you know that when staring at a screen most people blink 66% less than they should be. This...

5 photography lessons I learnt watching American Idol

I’m a sucker for reality music contests. Idol, X-Factor, The Voice, Romania’s Got Talent. Watching these shows makes me happy in the same way opening a fresh jar of Nutella, or spotting a Fiat 500 driving up a laneway in Sicily make me happy. The other night as I was binge watching American Idol’s final season, I realised that this is so much more than a talent show. American Idol has become my Mr Miyagi, Yoda and Oprah rolled into one. Yep, I think it’s that good. Here are a five lessons American Idol taught me about photography. 1. Passion vs Perfect “Work hard! In the end, passion and hard work beats out natural talent.” – Pete Docter If Passion and Perfect had a race, Passion would win. I have watched so many American Idol contestants step onto the audition stage and belt out pitch perfect renditions of Whitney Houston’s...

“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.”

Canon 5D MK111 24-105mm L series F22 @1/640th sec ISO 400 “Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.” – Robin Sharma

The Sweet Spot: What’s the sharpest aperture on a lens?

  There’s this famous urban legend about a woman who has a lump growing on the side of her face and when she finally goes to the doctor, he cuts it open with a scalpel and millions of baby spiders crawl all over her face. Then there’s the other urban legend about F8 being the sharpest f-stop on every lens. The first was made up to scare the crap out of us about spiders and the second may have been true for lenses built last century, but certainly doesn’t apply to digital lenses. The truth is not all lenses are created equal and the “sweet spot” or aperture setting that will create the sharpest image will vary from lens to lens. (If you really want to geek out on this subject and find out the science behind lens sharpness, check out Ken Rockwell’s blog) So here’s the non techy lowdown...

I had a date with Creativity and ended up going home with Fear and Loathing: How to survive burnout.

A few years ago I was working crazy hours, shooting six days a week, 12-14 hour days. I should have been feeling on top of the world. I was being contracted to shoot covers, billboards and promo shoots with all my dream clients. Yet something wasn’t right. I was struggling to keep up and had this constant “black mood”. I made a date with Creativity and Inspiration. It had been a while since we’d hung out, so I invited them to dinner. When the day of my dinner date arrived, I wasn’t feeling it. Normally it takes me two seconds to decide what to wear on a date but everything I tried on looked wrong. I was also having a bad hair day and a massive zit was camping on my left cheek, just below the large dark bags that had set up shop under my eyes. I yawned for...

Keep moving forward

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.” – Conrad Hall I took this image in Havana at dusk. I love shooting street photography at dusk because the streetlights and car headlights add so much depth to the shots and there is still enough ambient light to pick up other details.
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