Daintree Photographic Workshop 2019

Daintree Forest Fisheye (c) Maiva Smyth 2019

My wife and I have just returned from the Daintree Photographic Workshop absolutely buzzing with new ideas, knowledge and experiences.  Sitting on the plane coming back from Cairns, I wondered why there were not more of our colleagues and associates at the workshop and so I thought I should let everyone know who is interested in increasing their skills and knowledge what they are missing out on, because I sincerely believe that anyone who is seriously interested in advancing their skills will benefit hugely from attending this workshop (although you will have to wait until next year for the next one).

So, allow me a few minutes to tell you about the workshop experience and the educators.

Firstly, we attended the workshop with 25 other photographers, both  professional and amateur, people at all skill levels from beginner to advanced, so the opportunity for meaningful collaboration was already a given.  Having the opportunity to discuss all things photographic with such a diverse group of likeminded, passionate photographers could be a reason enough alone to go to such a workshop.  But there is more, much more !

Secondly, the presenters:

Dr Les Walkling is one of Australia’s leading photographic experts, educators and consultants.  Les studied Arts and Philosophy extensively before turning to photography in 1975.  Les is the “go to” person for anything photographic, artistic or technical in photography.  Well known professionals, museums and galleries all defer to Les’ knowledge, opinions and expertise.  Les recently was entrusted with the restoration and exhibition of images by the late Peter Dombrovskis by the National Library of Australia.  Dombrovskis’ images of the Franklin River were largely credited with saving this part of the Tasmanian wilderness in 1983.  A short video of Les discussing his approach to Dombrovskis’ legacy can be found here www.leswalkling.com/dombrovskis/  .It should be noted that Peter Dombrovskis is the only Australian photographer listed in the International Photography Hall of Fame.  Look it up here:  http://iphf.org/hall-of-fame/

Despite this incredible wealth of knowledge and expertise, Les is able to work with people at all levels and like our dear friend (Emeritus Professor) Des Crawley, can readily identify what an individual needs to move to their next level of understanding and skills development.  Having several one on one sessions with Les has taught us more about photography than anything else in the last 10 years, or more.

 Tony Hewitt is perhaps one of the best known living Australian artist/photographers.  Tony’s recent collaborative exhibition with Denis Glennon AO, entitled “Girt by Sea” has won wide acclaim as a body of work unique to Australia.  And that’s only the beginning.  Tony is also a writer, educator and poet.  Tony has presented his work at conferences and exhibitions around the world.  Tony is also very down to earth and personable.  Having one on one time with Tony has been incredibly valuable to us in having an independent and expert critique of our work, as well as a validation of our own approach and vision in our photographic work.  Tony’s work can be seen here http://www.tonyhewitt.com/galleries/

Les and Tony are ably supported by a number of other expert photographers, plus they have a number of sponsors who bring along equipment and software for us to try and use during the week.

The workshop is held at the James Cook University Daintree Canopy Research facility, located within the Daintree World Heritage area in far North Queensland.  This location allows us to be free of distractions – there is no mobile phone service, no Wi-Fi, and no Internet.  We do make use of the incredible rainforest area with several opportunities to make images in this remarkable area.

 During this intense week of workshops, lectures and one on one tuition, we also have ample time to complete the processing and resolution of images into the final stage – making a beautiful high quality print.  I don’t know a single serious photographer (professional or amateur) who does not think that the completion of the image making process is anything other than a beautiful print.  We have on hand several pro standard Epson and Canon printers, plus a wide variety of papers available to try – all free as part of the workshop.  We have each brought home $300 - $500 worth of prints, ready for display.  

 Also supporting the workshop were our friends Geoff and Libby – the owners of Momento photo books.  Geoff and Libby have presented previously at LCCP at our request and in case any members don’t realise this – financial members of LCCP have access to the Momento Pro service, including a 30% discount on your first order and 10% off thereafter.  We commend the service to our members as we know how much they care about producing the best quality books possible.  Did I mention that photographers like Tony Hewitt, Peter Eastway, Ken Duncan etc all have their books printed by Momento ?  Did you also know that their highest quality books are printed on an Epson Pro 3880 ?  This just goes to show that the best printing technology available today is at our fingertips.  The Indigo Dy Sublimation printer ($1m and up) used for the volume and lower cost books can’t compete with a printer that costs you and me less than $2,000.00.  As Les says, “Go figure !

 As part of the workshop we also have access to a wealth of notes, custom printer profiles for our beautiful fine art papers – each one lovingly prepared by Les and his son Andrey.  Sadly, I can’t share these with non-attendees, but these alone are worth serious money, for anyone serious about printing their heritage.  Did I mention that Les personally developed the “Platine” paper for Canson – a company that has been producing fine art papers for nearly 500 years ? 

 Apologies for this rather lengthy “rant”, but you may now have realised that we want to share the benefits of attending this workshop.  Tony Hewitt told me that in his opinion, this workshop surpasses anything else offered anywhere in the world (and not because he is part of it this year)

So, if any of you are really serious about developing your skill and vision as a photographer, you cannot do better than put next August in your diary and start saving now.  Buying a new camera body or lens won’t make you a better photographer, but investing in yourself undoubtedly will do that in spades.

P.S.  As a final part of the workshop, each of us submits two images made in the Daintree for evaluation by the JCU staff.  I am pleased to note that Maiva’s image was one of 5 selected and as a result, we are now the proud owners of a limited edition Tony Hewitt print, valued at over $500.

Going Soft

I like detail, mostly the more the better, especially for wildlife subjects where it is good to show the creature in all it’s glory. However, sometimes a softer approach helps to lend an image character and provide a more creative interpretation. Here the spectacular cliffs along the Bruny Island coast were suited to a more painterly treatment. The image was processed in Lightroom with negative Tecture and Clarity, then finished off with some Nik Glamour Glow in Photoshop.

Abstract Cliffs, Brunie Island Tasmania (c) 2019

Abstract Cliffs, Brunie Island Tasmania (c) 2019

In Search Of The Tasmanian Devil June 2019

The Tasmanian Devil has been under threat for several years from the Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) which threatens to wipe out the wild population. Fortunately, there are several projects under way designed to breed devils that are resistant to the deadly disease. One of these is Devils@cradle, a privately funded conservation facility. We recently had the opportunity to vist and tour the facility, located close to Cradle Mountain National Park. The facility is also engaged in breeding the Spotted Tail and Eastern Quoll, also threatened by feral cats. These nocturnal animals are difficult to see in the wild, so being able to observe and photograph them in captivity is almost essential.

You can see more on Devils@Cradle HERE…

Tasmanian Devils

Arctic Adventures on the RV Kinfish

Waiting for the ice (c) Michael Smyth 2018

We have recently returned from a small ship expedition to the islands of Svalbard in the High Arctic. Svalbard lies well within the Arctic Circle, so in Summer it is light 24 hours a day. The image above was taken at about 1:30AM on a cloudy day. Svalbard is regarded as the “Jewel of the Arctic” due to its abundance of wildlife, spectacular scenery and historical sites.

We are working on a new series of guides called “Travel Tales” that documents unusual travel locations and provides information to help with planning your own trips.

Guillemots (c) Michael Smyth 2018

A Tribute to Stephen Hawking, 1942 - 2018

The Big Bang

With the passing of Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds we have ever known, it seems fitting to create an image that illustrates some of the strange and bizarre aspects of Theoretical Physics.  Here I have been experimenting with some techniques that yield some interesting and unpredictable results.  Each photograph starts out as a "normal" image, a landscape, architectural form or something similar.   I have then applied some standard photographic techniques to create the image I have imagined for the subject.  There are several steps to achieve the result you see here, I use filters and adjustments on the base image until it looks like the image I want.  This image represents the violent events that occurred at the time of the Big Bang - the beginning of the Universe.  Another example in this series can be seen on the home page.  

New Tutorial Added - How to use the Clarity tool in Lightroom

Correct use of the Clarity tool, along with other techniques in Lightroom can improve images dramatically

Correct use of the Clarity tool, along with other techniques in Lightroom can improve images dramatically

Many photographers are unaware of the use of the Clarity tool in their imaging workflow.  In another of our short tutorials we show what Clarity does and how to use it effectively.  

To go directly to the tutorial, click  HERE  or go to the Tutorials section and choose Processing and Enhancement.