In this the third of our Pentax Master Class Interview Sessions we’ve been catching up with a Pentax Legend, Mr Alan Small. Based in the town of Taree on the New South Wales mid coast, Alan has spent some decades behind the lens of his Pentax cameras making him a legend amongstPentaxians. His enthusiasm has also spread into his Taree Camera House store where he has dispensed an infinite amount of advice to aspiring photographers.
Possessing a wide photographic skill base, like that of other Pentax photographers we’ve interviewed, Alan is as equally at home shooting landscape, travel or portraits. It is in the macro world that we really get to see Alan’s talents come out with some of the most spectacular images we’ve ever seen.
[[MORE]]As part of the Pentax Master Class Interview Sessions, we’ve been fortunate enough to catch up with Alan and discuss the techniques behind some of his macro photography works plus have had unprecedented access to some of his amazing macro photography catalogue.
PSA - We’ll start as we often do and ask when did photography find it’s way into your life and what were some of the cameras in your collection at the beginning?
AS - My late father gave me a simple Kodak camera, together with two rolls of B&W film when I was quite young. I was stunned when I viewed the results after processing: here was a tiny time machine and it was mine. I could record places and events just as they were that day. It was exciting for a young, enquiring mind- and that was the start of a long and fascinating journey into imaging. This was strengthened later when my father gave me a small processing kit to do my own negatives & prints Later, despite a strong interest in journalism, science and aviation - imaging won out.
PSA - Your body of work spans landscapes and travel, with your macro photography being of particular interest to us. Has creating wonderful macro images been an easy learning curve or more of a journey for you over the years?
AS - Over the years, I have worked in almost every aspect of photography from professional aerial work to scientific and legal, but I didn’t enjoy the professional work and quit to become a dedicated non-professional, selling equipment and training people to achieve their aims in getting the best results. Macro photography has always interested me; it is a whole new world. No, it is not an easy journey. To do it well requires some specialised gear, a lot of patience and dedication- and at times, luck. A love of the natural world helps. There are two major problems with macro photography apart from subject material—lighting and depth of field, but of course they are both linked.
PSA - Photographers like Ansel Adams spring to mind when recalling great landscape images. Who are some of the photographers that have influenced your style of work over the years?
AS - Ansel Adams influenced everyone associated with photography – but there are so many great and inspiring names: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Margaret Bourke-White, Edward Weston, Ezra Stoller, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Edward Steichen, W. Eugene Smith—if you look at the work of these people it simply has to influence you. However I would encourage everyone to develop their own unique style and to make their own assessments of their work so that they become their own greatest influence.
PSA - We often come across amatuer photographers who have the view that macro photography is a highly technical field. In your experience, what are some of the challenges that need to overcome when shooting macro?
AS - Macro photography may appear to be be daunting to people without much experience but you can start fairly simply and then gradually upgrade your gear and your knowledge as you go along. Macro to most people means close up photography down to about 1 to 1 ratio—beyond that it becomes micro photography with more complications. A macro lens is desirable, but you can start with a set of three close-up lenses and either LED or flash lighting and build up from there. Ultimately if you are going to do macro photography well, you will need a dedicated macro lens, a dedicated flash and possibly a reflector and a diffuser for the flash. But the best dedication comes from the person behind the camera—to get one really good shot can sometimes take twenty shots. That’s macro……
PSA - Lighting macro subjects often requires a degree of skill to obtain amazing results. Do you have a preference between natural light and ring lights at all? And are there any rules that photographers should follow when lighting their scenes?
AS - As in photography in general, lighting is everything. Natural lighting is not an option with good macro work—there will be too many shadows and not enough depth – of –field, or zone of focus for those people who aren’t sure about depth-of-field. Many people prefer ringlights, but I don’t—the lighting can be too flat. A macro flash with two small tubes can be better than a ringlight if used carefully, but I prefer a floating flash—that is a dedicated flash “floating” with a dedicated flash cable and a diffuser on the front to soften the lighten. With a floating flash it can be harder work, but you can direct the lighting to your best advantage. Sometimes I use a second flash off-camera that delivers ‘edge” or ‘rim-lighting” of the subject increasing the third dimensional impression. Of course, the second flash must deliver less light then the primary, or”floating” flash.
PSA- We’ve seen some amazing yet frightening photographs from your collections of rather dangerous creatures, like spiders. What approach do you take when capturing shots of insects and spiders of the more dangerous variety?
AS - Few creatures are dangerous if you approach them correctly; this even includes venomous snakes, possibly the most misunderstood creatures on earth next to sharks. If the subject doesn’t feel threatened by your presence and you don’t display fear or sudden movement you’re unlikely to to a victim of most wild creatures, except perhaps the odd brown or tiger snake, or maybe a bad tempered hippo. Even paper wasps can be shot in the normal location if you move fluidly and slowly in their presence and avoid going within a metre or two of their nests—although I have shot within 30cm of their nests as they are building it, without incident.
PSA - We’re always keen to hear what’s in a Pentaxian’s camera bag. As a Camera House proprietor we’re guessing there may be some surprises in that bag of yours. Just what do you carry on a shoot?
AS - Very much depends what I plan to do. But in general my gear is fairly straightforward. The greatest surprise I guess to a lot of people who have accompanied me on a nature shoot, is how simply I work—and the fact that while I am actually working, I don’t like to talk with people; just later when I am finished is fine. In the bag will be a high grade lens hood for the particular lens I am using,(essential for best image result) a good quality lens cloth & a dust blower, a diffuser for my flash, spare batteries for the camera and the flash, and outside the bag, either a monopod or tripod (or both). If I am looking for bird pictures (always interesting) I will have a long lens plus a CPL filter. A CPL is also valuable for landscapes.
PSA - Your image “Praying Mantis” is breathtaking. It could easily sit amongst the pages of National Geographic. Could you share with us what went into setting this picture up?
AS - That’s very kind. The little fellow is only a day or so old in this shot and therefore very tiny and not at all frightened by my presence—a little wary perhaps. There were about thirty of these little guys when hatching was complete and this one was sitting on the edge of the leaf practising his moves (as you can see). I used a heavily diffused floating flash with a second smaller diffused slave flash off camera, secured on a swig by a velcro strap.The lighting enhanced the dimensional quality of the image. To achieve an almost black background was simple; (no you don’t have to use a black card) just shoot at around F22 to F29 and hey presto the background drops out and the depth-of-field becomes very realistic.
PSA - You’ve had a front row seat to watch the transition from film to digital capture, wet lab to ink jet and finally, post production on computers at home. How do you aproach post production and where do you think we may be headed tomorrow?
AS - this is a very important question. I detect that a lot of photographers believe that the more expensive their gear is, the less they need to do (or know) in post production. Not so really. It doesn’t matter how good your gear is or how well you operate your equipment, you will still need to craft your image to be more how saw it in the first place. Cameras don’t see how we see and in any event, a well managed camera will not ever produce a “finished” image. You should craft your post production work so that a good image gradually becomes an excellent image. Of course there is a belief that an average image can be made into a superb image with suitable software. Also not so. Capturing a really good image is essential and then it can be edited to be more like how the eye originally saw the picture, or how the author wants to present it. You’ll notice I stated “edited” not manipulated. Editing is not manipulation and vice versa. Manipulation changes the image dramatically from its’ original qualities, or may involve putting new elements into an image or taking some out, editing on the other hand involves taking the qualities that an original image contains and enhancing them so that they are closer to human vision, or at least, that is how the viewer will see it. I always say that you should edit like a surgeon and return to the image several times before it is complete. At times that process can take one, two or even three weeks.
PSA - The gang here at Pentax HQ have always benifited from a few words of guidance with our photography? What would be your parting words of advise to Pentax photographers reading this?
AS - Believe in your equipment. Approach each photo job with a professional understanding of your gear and the situation in which you are shooting. Develop a style of working which is yours and which people come to admire. Stop dreaming about the best gear in the world (whatever that is) and concentrate on your skills and understanding of lighting. Use technology only as a pathway to creativity—it is the creative values in your images that people will love not the technical quality, even though that is important to a point. Everything in your frame should contribute to the final result in your picture. Your final image which speak for itself; if it needs explanation then it hasn’t worked.
As a footnote, the images in this article were made using two Pentax digital SLR’s together with excellent Pentax and Sigma lenses. The full album containing the images seen here plus loads more can be viewed at http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.318773328183358.73392.130482700345756&type=1&l=4570c94c99
Alan, it’s been a pleasure as always chatting with you about your works. We especially pleased to be able to share some of your insights with the wide Pentax Snaps audience. We’re confident that you’ve gone towards demystifying the world of macro photography as well as inspiring more Pentax People to have a go.
For any questions reguarding Alan’s interview, post them here and we’ll pass them onto Alan for comment. Otherwise, you can visit the man himself at The Camera House Taree http://www.camerahouse.com.au/our-stores/nsw/taree.aspx
3 Inch LCD
Bright, high resolution 3 inch LCD with 920,000 dots produces a bright image for accurate framing and playback of images and video.
Fast 6 FPS burst mode is ideal for fast-action photography insuring the perfectly-timed shot at just the right moment.
100-25600 ISO Range
Flexible ISO range of 100-25600 ensures gorgeous noise-free imaging as well as fast, noise and blur-controlled low light photography.
Focus Peaking Mode
Focus peaking mode provides fast and accurate manual focusing for critical focus applications.
Built-in Flash and External Hotshoe
Built-in popup flash and external hotshoe compatible with modern PENTAX digital flash units provide flexible lighting options in dimly lit environments.
Durable machined aluminum frame under a stylish black, white, or yellow exterior.
1080p Video Capture
Full HD 1080p video capture at 30 FPS with h.264 compression (60 FPS at 720p) features shutter speed and aperture exposure control, video autofocus control, and a built-in mono or external stereo microphone.
1/4000 Shutter Speeds
Shutter speed range from 1/4000 to 30 seconds and bulb with a silent shutter action are perfect for inconspicuous street photography.
Multiple Shooting Modes
Traditional shooting modes include P, Av, Tv, and M for outstanding artistic expression, while powerful automatic modes such as Auto Picture, scene modes, and creative filters take the guesswork out of great photography.
In-camera HDR mode combines bracketed user-specified exposures into a single, perfectly blended still image with outstanding detail in shadow and highlight areas.
JPG & DNG RAW Captures
Captures JPG still images, but also open standard DNG RAW which is compatible with a wide range of Adobe-supported RAW processing software programs.
PENTAX’s 13th generation rugged waterproof digital camera is adventure proof, and perfect for almost any environment from hot to cold, dry to wet, in rain, snow, surf, sand, or dust.
Newly incorporated back-illuminated CMOS image sensor for high-quality images
The Optio WG-2 and Optio WG-2 GPS come equipped with the latest back-illuminated CMOS image sensor, which offers much lower noise even when camera is set to higher sensitivities. With the combination of a top sensitivity of ISO 6400 and 16.0 effective megapixels, this image sensor delivers super-high-resolution images. Its new imaging engine also applies the latest super-resolution technology to its image processing operations to assure sharp, clear, high-resolution images. These models also feature the new Handheld Night Snap mode, which captures four images of the same scene, then produces a single blur-free, composite image from them — all automatically.
Full HD movie recording for extended recording of high-quality movies
The Optio WG-2 and Optio WG-2 GPS offer the Full HD movie recording function employing the H.264 recording format, allowing the user to capture high-quality, extended movie clips (1920 x 1080 pixels) at a frame rate of 30 frames per second. They also feature a high-speed camera function* for slow-motion playback of captured movie clips and an interval movie function to simplify advanced movie-recording techniques. A micro-HDMI terminal (Type D) is also provided on their camera body allowing output of Full HD movie clips and sound to external devices.
Extra-large, high-resolution 3.0-inch LCD monitor
New Optio WG-2 and Optio WG-2 GPS feature a new extra-large, high-resolution 3.0-inch LCD monitor with wide 16:9 proportions and approximately 460,000 dots. The AR (Anti-Reflection) coating minimizes annoying glare and reflections to assure a sharp, clear on-screen image even under harsh sunshine, while its wide-view design offers a clear view of the monitor from approximately 170 degrees horizontally and vertically, making it particularly useful in low and high angle shooting.
Digital Microscope mode with six LED Macro Lights for close observation of the microscopic world
By positioning six LED Macro Lights around the circumference of the lens barrel for macro shooting — compared to five on their predecessor — the Optio WG-2 and Optio WG-2 GPS provide brighter, more uniform illumination on the subject when the Digital Microscope mode is selected.* Thanks to the Macro Lights, the user can clearly see a magnified view of the microscopic world often unnoticeable with the naked eye on the camera’s LCD monitor and effortlessly capture it in eye-catching images. Its instant illumination enhance function, which automatically raises the illumination level of the LED Macro Lights at the moment of shutter release, has also been upgraded to allow for the use of a higher shutter speed to minimize camera shake and subject shake. In addition, the Macro Lights can provide other user-friendly features, such as a Self-Portrait Assist mode to check if the subject’s face is safely captured within the picture frame using the blink of an LED lamp; and a new LED lighting mode to use the Macro Lights as a lighting device in the dark.
Heavy-duty construction for underwater shooting to 12 meters deep, and up to two continuous hours
By further enhancing the water tightness of the camera body, PENTAX has upgraded the Optio WG-2 and Optio WG-2 GPS’s underwater performance to 12 meters compared to 10 meters for their predecessor , for up to two hours of continuous operation (equivalent to IPX8 or JIS Class 8 waterproof performance). These cameras are also designed to be highly shock-resistant*, dustproof**, cold-resistant ***, and crushproof****. All these features make the Optio WG-2 and Optio WG-2 GPS dependable, heavy-duty imaging partners in harsh, demanding shooting conditions.
5X optical zoom lens with 28mm wide-angle coverage
The new Optio WG2 and Optio WG-2 GPS feature a high-performance 5X optical zoom lens covering focal lengths from 5mm to 25mm (equivalent to approx. 28mm wide angle to approx. 140mm telephoto in the 35mm format). Thanks to this versatile zoom lens, the cameras capture beautiful, lively pictures in a wide range of subjects and scenes — from spectacular landscapes to family/group shots in a confined space. With their Intelligent Zoom function, the user can further extend the zoom range to approximately 36 times to cover the focal length of an approximately 1008mm super-telephoto lens (in the 35mm format) to capture extra-high-magnification images without compromising image quality.
Triple anti-shake protection for sharp, blur-free images
(1) Pixel Track SR mechanism
When recording still images, this sophisticated shake-reduction mechanism effectively compensates for camera shake by digitally processing affected images.
(2) Digital SR mode
When the cameras detect low-lighting conditions in still-image shooting, they automatically raise the sensitivity to as high as ISO 6400, making it possible to use a higher shutter speed to effectively minimize the adverse effects of camera shake and subject shake under poor lighting conditions.
FULL SPECIFICATONS AVAILABLE AT http://www.pentaximaging.com/digital-camera/Optio_WG-2_Vermillion_Red#!product-specs
The holiday season has started! Along with it comes that great Australian tradition of getting out and about for a summer break. With this in mind, the gang here at Pentax HQ have come up with ourbest 5 tips to help you get better ‘Travel Snaps’ this holiday season.
DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT – Take your camera out!
Great photographic moments can present themselves at anytime and be gone in a whim. So having your camera at the ready all of the time will see to it that you don’t miss a shot. With all the wonderful sights of a holiday destination, it’s very easy to become distracted by the surrounds. The tip here is set your preferred camera modes like the Av, Tv M along with your AF servo and white balance preferences that you’re most confident shooting with. This way you’re prepared for any great moments that come your way before they disappear on a whim.
The other good idea is to capture in RAW. This way if your exposure or white balances are off it can be easily fixed after the trip. If you feel that your Pentax DSLR camera is too much bulk to spend the entire day around your shoulder, try looking at some of the smaller options like the Pentax Q or theOptio WG-1 for down the beach.
BUCK THE TREND – Shoot the cliché from new angles
It really is exciting arriving in person at famous landmark or destination and that icon image you’ve always known springs to life. These famous attractions usually have their fair share of travelers all trying to get their own photo just like the magazines have.
Bucking the trends at The Mull of Galloway Scotland with a down low perspective
Our tip here is to buck the trend. Look at different ways to shoot it. Be that a new angle, higher, lower or even a different time of day. There is something great about sharing yourtravel snaps and being told that you were the first to capture it from a new perspective.
LOOK INTO LOCATIONS – Pick a few must see locations
Your break is all planned! The tickets have arrived, the hotel booked and bags packed and away you go. So why not spend a little time choosing a couple of locations that you really want to take some travel snaps at.
To give you a feel to the types of photos you could possibly find once you arrive, try browsing images surrounding the area you’re headed to using websites such as Flickr. Think of it like scouting a location. The tip here is it gives you an insight to how you might set the camera up ahead of time. The time saved doing a little research before you arrive means more time to capture perfect travel snaps.
LENS BARREL EYES – Use your own eyes occasionally
Heard the old tale that watching too much TV makes your eye go square shaped? Same can be said for holiday makers if you’re looking through the lens all of the time. You’ll end up with eyes the shape of lens barrels and perhaps worse, camera fatigue meaning you just can’t get inspired to shoot anything!
The tip here is to avoid ‘Lens Barrel Eyes’ simply by taking the time to enjoy your surrounds, instead of looking for a cover shot for Australian Traveler magazine. Our tip, use the time to absorb the vibe or feeling of your holiday spots without the camera. You’ll get see the real essence of your destination which will come through in your travel snaps.
Hard to duck home for forgotten bits & pieces from up here!
DON’T FORGET YOUR TOOTHPASTE – Or your essential gear too!
Plane tickets…check. Passports…check. Camera bag….check! All set for a great summer holiday right. That is until you open the camera bag only to realize you’ve forgot to pack yourmemory cards or battery charger. It’s such a simple thing to forget these things. Believe us, camera stores in popular holiday locations will charge you a premium to replace memory cards and battery chargers. So our last tips is do a double check on your camera bag at the same time as the passports and plane tickets. We guarantee that you’ll get better travel snaps with this simple tip!
Marc Newson, world renown designer talks about the inception, creation and design behind the new Pentax K-01 mirror less camera.
How to Capture Lightning
Its Summer time in Australia and apart from “the living is easy” as the song goes, it storm season, especially in the top end. Pentax People are well equipped with a range of weather proof cameras such as the K20D, K-7 & K-5 perfect for getting in the action and capturing lightning.
Image courtesy of Bob Litchfield
The Gang here at HQ are not as crazy as Bear Grylls when we go storm chasing with our K-5’s, but we do have these tips to help our Pentax People to ‘Capture Lightning’.
No.1 ‘Thunder and lightning, very, very frightening me’, yes storms can make it hard to keep steady while you shoot. Set your camera upon a sturdy tripod on a level surface where you can. If the storm arrives without warning and you’re without a tripod, substitute with a bean bag or something similarly soft and pliable.
No.2 With your camera upon the tripod, the next tip is to set a long shutter speed or ‘exposure’. And we mean long, in the range of 20-30 seconds. The best option is using ‘M’ manual mode to set the shutter, as it also allow you set your aperture (we’ll touch on this later). A cable release set to bulb is another great tip. Use the self time to release the shutter to keep camera shake away caused by your hand pressing the trigger. So you can reach a slow shutter speed and not ‘blow out’ the exposure, set your ISO to 100.
Image courtesy of Bob Litchfield
No.3 Switch your lens to manual focus. As the sky will be dark and lacking contrast, the auto focus system will tend to hunt for focus. If you’re clever, you’ll be shooting the action from a safe distance we’re guessing. Set the focus distance on the lens to infinity ∞ as this is where the lightning will strike. For good Depth Of Field - ‘D.O.P’ select a moderately wide aperture around f8. Using ‘M’ manual mode with the shutter speed set, dial in this aperture. To adjust the exposure select apertures either side of f8. Choose f5.6 to lighten and f11 to darken your exposure.
No.4 Timing is everything in capturing lightning. It takes milliseconds for a bolt of lightning to cross the sky. We humans simply don’t have the reaction time for releasing shutters as we see the flash. Using the long shutter speeds, foreground details will be rendered, and the lightning will strike during the exposure. Like we covered in our fireworks Tips & Tricks, the intensity of the light will be so extreme that it will expose perfectly.
No.5 Lightning is pretty darn impressive we’d say, but don’t rely on this element alone to get a brilliant image. Take the time to compose your frame to include interesting foregrounds like buildings which will add scale or shapes that will create interesting silhouettes and reflections from the intense light being given off.
Image courtesy of Bob Litchfield
Be patient when trying to capture lightning! They can’t be cued to go off when you want; it really is a waiting game. Bit like fishing really. If it’s your first attempt, use a few different exposure settings to see the different effects they create, remembering that you’ll learn more with every attempt. Oh, try not to shoot from under trees on golf courses either!
All images supplied courtesy of Bob Litchfield Photography www.boblitchfieldphotographer.com.au
In this, the first edition for 2012 in the Master Class Interview Sessions, we’ve been talking with Pentax photographer Steve Broadbent, who is well known in Pentax circles both for his children’s portraits along with his glamour model photography.
Hailing from Kurrajong in the foothills of the Blue Mountains in Sydney, Steve has a clear affinity with nature which is clearly apparent throughout his photography. With an exceptional eye for capturing beauty, Steve’s style of photography has amazing production value while retaining a ‘natural’ feel within his images. His natural style is especially evident throughout his portraiture work, where his use subtle lighting brings the viewer to focus entirely on the subject.
For this edition of the Master Class Interview Sessions, we’ve been catching up with Steve to learn more about the techniques that come together when creating of his style of portrait photography.
There is the old addage “Never work with children or animals”. The gang here at Pentax HQ are curious, is it really as tough as some may portray, shooting portrait assignments with young children?
I hear that all the time. I don’t find it too difficult as my day job is as a high school teacher. I also work a lot with children with special needs. I don’t believe it is about patience as much as having an understanding of the psychology of people in different stages of their lives. I find that getting adults to say “monkies” to get the smile works better than saying it to children. They laugh at the stupidity of it, but the important thing is that it makes them relax. Children are very different and I don’t like posed shots very much. You put children in an environment where they can concentrate on something other than the camera, something that shows their innocence and you get a much better result. Also, don’t be afraid to get down to their level, on the floor. I am a big kid, so it isnt very hard for me.
In the intro, we learnt that you grew up around the picturesque Blue Mountains of Sydney, which could have lead to you becoming known as a landscape photographer. Were there any defining factors that drew you towards shooting portaiture?
I have gone through phases as I learn. I have numerous landscape photos, but I do not do it as a business. I am a people person and enjoy conversing and the strategies that I need to employ to get the subject/model to portray the feeling or look I want. People photography is often hard but it is very rewarding when people see the final product and really love it. It would surprise you to see how many beautiful people have a bad self image. I like to make people feel better about themselves. I guess the reason I prefer to shoot with people in nature is inherent from where I grew up.
There are some amazing images in your portfolio we’ve seen in your online galleries. Were you ever involved with photography back in the days of film and the Pentax MZ series SLR’s at all?
It still is the days of film! I love fiddling with film but find it costly from shoot to shoot, so I only use it sparingly. I have a Pentax MZ-60 and a K1000. I love the K1000, but not as big fan of the MZ-60. I wasn’t involved in photography back in the film age. Technology fascinates me and I am a bit of a tech nerd. I think one of the reasons I got into photography might be because my Dad bought a digital camera (Nikon Coolpix5000) back when I was about 16 years old. He wouldn’t let me use it (even though he didn’t know how to use it). As most people know, if you tell a teenager they cant do something, it will be all they think about until they can. So I picked it up a few years later and asked if I could have a play. It died….. I never got to use it. At least by then I could afford my own. I bought a point and shoot with some manual control and the rest is history.
Very often the mention of childrens portraits bring names like Australia’s Anne Gedes to mind. Your style is a refeshing departure from her studio works. What shapes your portrait style? The clients brief or your own artistic vision for your work?
I guess people come to me because they have seen shots that I have done for people they know or on my website. I do shoots on an individual basis. Each person is different and it would be silly of me to try to do the same shot for them as I have done for others without putting their own individual spin on it. I can always reproduce a style of lighting by choosing the right time of day and lighting equipment to suit. It often comes down to what the day gives me to work with. I personally like shallow depth of field for isolating the subject from the background. I usually prefer natural light and often a nice rim light on the subject either naturally created by the sun behind the subject. If the sun is too strong or too high like noon on a summers day, I put the person in the shade and you can fake a nice afternoon sun rim light by having a flash triggered behind the subject just out of the frame. I also like to have slightly over exposed backgrounds which gives a bright happy feel to the photos I take. That paired with shallow depth of field created by using a fast telephoto lens creates a silky smooth background.
A great deal of the work in your portfolio is shot on location. At the planning stage, are there set locations you prefer for shooting, or do you work with clients to decide on locations?
Having grown up in nature, I generally like to shoot in natural locations. I always offer up my favourite locations to clients, but they often have a nice location that may be sentimental to them, or they may have visited and liked. I am happy when they offer up new locations as it helps add to my personal collection of favourite shooting locations.
The quality of your work would lead some photographers to believe that there is an amazing aray of gear on location for your shoots. What set ups and gear do you usually use on location for childrens portraits?
I am a bit of a gear junkie. I have heaps of old, second hand lenses, but some new top spec lenses for my main kit. I buy almost all of my camera gear from Craig Morton in Richmond (NSW), who has been using Pentax longer than I have been alive. He has been a great mentor to me and helped me in chosing the right gear for my kit over the past few years. (Ed, He’s a true gentleman of the photographic industry)
On location I take my backpack which holds my:
Two camera bodies (K5 and K7)
Pentax DA* 16-50mm f2.8
Sigma 70-200mm f2.8
Sigma 50mm f1.4
Sigma 85mm f1.4
Sigma 105mm f2.8 Macro
Sigma speedlight and pentax speedlight.
Lots of cheap flash triggers I bought from ebay.
I also take my Bowens studio flashes and a Glanz battery pack to run them without plugging into a wall. My reflectors are always there and a load of different stands. All of the other lenses I own are backups and/or for use with my film bodies, because the new SDM and HSM lenses don’t work with them and don’t even have an aperture ring.
I don’t need all of this every time, but it is my job to be prepared. I have a very portable speedlight setup for when I have a lot of walking or location changes, the studio flashes are very heavy and not so good for location changes. I do family photo days where I set up once and do 10 shoots in a day which requires the studio lights. Smaller family shoots generally don’t need the big “work all day” setups.
I don’t believe that you need all of this to create great shots, but as a business, you need to be prepared for anything if you want to be reliable and trusted. Often I take all of this to a shoot and still only use one or two lenses with my K5 and a reflector. Some of my favourite shots have been done that way, or with even less.
This image which you posted on Pentax Snaps caught our attention for it’s beautiful lighting. How do you set up to capture this image?
My brother and his wife has just had a new baby and it was at a party to celebrate her coming home. The sunset was beautiful that afternoon. My cousin’s son was playing around with the grass with the sunset behind him and it just looked so amazing and serene. I grabbed my K7 with the Sigma 105mm Macro which is incredibly sharp at f2.8. I took my cousin’s son to my favourite portrait spot on my parents property, which was only a few meters away from where he was. I honestly didn’t set up any lighting and I always shoot in manual I set the aperture to f2.8 and shot off a few pictures after I had the right exposure. So there is an example of success with nothing other than a camera and a lens.
We can see here that you had to deploy the highly technical photographic tool, the Cherry Ripe to get this shot. How often do you encounter these moments and how do you overcome them?
Haha! You like that one huh? It helps to have treats or bribes to get the results. There was no pleasing this child! It was taken at one of the family photo days I mentioned earlier. Each family only gets half an hour with me, which includes 15 mins shoot time and 15 minutes review time. I did the best I could with her, but the result melted the family’s heart. You cant help but laugh at the sheer emotion portrayed, despite the bribe in her hand.
Shooting commissions for clients means that you would have a uniquie work flow compared to some photographers. What are some of the approaches you take in your post production work ?
It depends on the job. You need to get the shot as good as you can in camera. I shoot in RAW and use Adobe Lightroom 3 for general leveling, noise reduction and getting the best colour and detail out of the photo. Not often, but if it needs it, I work on the photos in Photoshop Elements 10. I had used Photoshop CS, but found that I didn’t need the extras, and was happy with Elements. The clients pick the photos they want to purchase in lightroom and I add them to a quick collection. They get most of their editing done in lightroom but I barely need to do any post work to my photos these days. It pays to get it right in the camera.
Finally, we’d like to know which one of your photos that you’re most fond of and how you captured it?
I couldn’t pick one but there is one that sticks in my mind that is not a childrens portrait. It is all natural light with natural sun flare. It was taken with the K7 and a cheap second hand Tokina 70-210mm f4.5. The settings were: Exposure of 1/60 seconds, 70mm at f5.6. There are reflections from the water that light-leaked onto the sensor in a weird way which was pure fluke. You can also see little bugs flying around in the air reflecting the sunset. It is seductive and innocent at the same time.
Steve, it’s been great to gather some insights to your work and just how you create the beautiful image that you’ve shared with us here. The gang at HQ have enjoyed learning about your approach to your photography as we’re sure other Pentax photographers will too.
For any questions reguarding Steve’s interview and the images he creates, please take a look at his online galleries at http://www.stevebroadbent.com.au/index.php or post your comments here.
It’s ‘Summer Down Under’ and we Aussies like nothing more than going into the great outdoors of this Great Southern Land and taking photos. From the wet sands of Bondi Beach to the red sands surrounding Uluru, there are some spectacular vistas to be captured in Australia.
Along with the beauty of these scenes come some uniquely Australian challenges for cameras capturing snaps in these parts. There is the dust of the outback, rainy season in the tropical north, surf at our beaches and snow on our peaks. There really isn’t any other country in the world that can through up all these challenges at a camera.
The good news is that Pentax have the 12th generation Optio WG-1 in the rugged range, which is almost custom built to tackle the challenges of outdoor photography in Australia.
Macro mode with LED lighting mode
So what makes the Pentax Optio WG-1 so suited to the Australian landscape? A whole list on features in fact! Here is just a sample of what this rugged camera has to make it cope so well.
Waterproof – The WG-1 can handle a massive depth of 10 metres, great for advanced snorkelers.
Dust Proof – Water is not the only enemy of the camera, so is dust! Deploying advanced technology, the WG-1 protects against the perils of dust too.
Shockproof – Drop it, no problems. Crush it, no problems. The WG-1 is designed to sustain drops from 1.5 metres and sustain force of up to 100 kilograms.
Cold Proof – Equally capable in the snow as in the surf, the WG-1 can handle the extreme cold of a ski trip down to minus 10 degrees. Add in the shock proof feature and it’s build to survive the biggest stack.
Tough down to -10 degrees
Apart from being rugged and tough, it also has some great features for taking photos too.
Wide Angle lens – Boasting a 5 x optical zoom equivalent to 28-140mm the WG-1 offers a versatile focal length perfect for most scenes.
Microscope Mode – With a minimum focusing distance of 1cm, the WG-1 also has the added feature of LED lighting specifically designed for macro photography.
Video Capture – If movie making is more your style, the WG-1 will allow you to film where most cameras can’t! With high resolution 720p at 30 f.p.s you’re able to shoot above and below the water.
For full specifications on the WG-1, visit us on the website at https://www.crkennedy.com.au/pentax/index.php?q=node/266