Giving Birth .... what do you need?

On this, the most exciting day of our lives to date, we don't really need to have a lot with us. The few things we do need are major : good support and love!
Here's a couple of things to keep in mind you may have not thought of.

 - if you have a support person there, ask them to turn their mobile on silent, it can be distracting if it goes off at the wrong moment.

- if your support person is taking photos make sure they turn the flash function off, especially once baby is born

- make sure your support person respects your decisions, as far as simple things like no lights on, the type of music you choose, candles or scents...right through to the big issues as well.

If you are having a hospital birth:
- don't forget a phone charger
- take some music to listen to, some birth rooms have docks for your music to stream through the      speakers, chose your music carefully, and have a good range and not too much of the same. 
- change of clothes for your partner as well, in case they want to join you in the bath?
- some loose change; if your partner or support person needs a midnight snack, sometimes you can only get supplies from hospital vending machines
- water bottle
- massage oils
- and of course all the obvious stuff like baby clothes, a change or two for yourself, toiletries etc.
- and maybe a nice treat to indulge in afterwards! You deserve it!

#cairnsbirthphotographer #cairnsbirth #birthphotography #birthstories #ilovemyjob


Genazzano Photography Retreat - behind the scenes

What a magical little patch of turf, surrounded by the lapping waters of Tinaroo Dam, noisy with birdlife, and a perfect mix of morning fog, dramatic sunsets, whispy clouds and beautiful sunshine.

September 2018

#Genazzanoretreat #genazzano #Photographyconference #qps #landscapephotography

I arrived at the retreat on the friday afternoon. A simple one and an hour bit trip took me 3. It was the skys was all streaked with whispy high clouds and a gorgeous deep blue.
I'm surprised it didn't cause a car crash with several photographers driving up from Cairns to partake in the weekends events.

The gorgeous undulating hills of the Yungaburra surrounds were perfect for some classic country scapes with this amazing final winters day sky.

As well as the retreats location itself being perfect for landscape photography with its watery landscape dotted with emerging dead trees, it was also an added bonus to be presented with a brilliant sunset to photograph on the first night, followed by a thick foggy morning.  Perfect!!

While I was waiting for the sunset colours to come out, I snapped these few images from the shore just a hundred metres from where we were camped. I have applied a split toning effect to them as they were a little "muddy" and just to make them a little different.

This is one of my favourite images from the first morning. The fog was sooo thick that you could see the moisture falling through the air. we had to wait for it to lift before we could see the emerging trees . It was worth it.

And a final one of some movement blur from the second night, the sky wasn't as dramatic so I had to get creative.


Behind the scenes - Blencoe Falls camping, without a bottle opener...

I treated myself to a fantastic 4 days away back in July.
I dragged my nephew along and we headed out to Blencoe Falls just south and west of Cairns. The turnoff is actually only 67km inland from the coastal main highway, but it took 3 hours to drive it! This gives you a bit of an idea of the road. Actually it wasn't too bad but the numerous blind corners winding up the mountain, black snakes sun baking ON the road, corrugations and a couple of creek crossings on the dirt road meant an average speed of 20-30 kms per hour. I wouldn't try a low normal 2WD sedan on it, though I didn't actually need low4 until I arrived as the most of the campsites were right on the creek bank and quite sandy. After a bit of exploring and deciding on our site, we set up camp and enjoyed the absolute tranquility.

It was then we realised the crucial item from our kit was missing. With an esky full of ice and coronas, and no bottle opener, we had to get inventive, so eventually we discovered a good old tyre iron sufficed.

When I camp (which I try to avoid as much as possible) I only take bare essentials. The idea of dragging along just about every item from home is just way too much work. I take a tent, mattress, chair, esky and basic cooking gear, (camp oven, saucepan and jaffle iron for baked bean toasties). The only drawback is whenever I need coffee I have to light a fire, but you know...there's a little bit of pyromaniac in all of us :)

Heres a couple of phone pics of our setup.

The following morning I woke up to the mad symphony of bird noise and the thickest lowest fog I have ever seen. Living in Cairns, fog is a rarity, so I was out there clicking away before my first coffee; also a rarity :)

This is when I made one of my favourite images.

It was also a great time for dew covered spiderwebs, but ho hum, we've all seen that before.

Our campsite was surrounded by fantastic natives on three sides, mostly wattle trees, and Blencoe Creek itself on the west side. Wildlife was pretty much limited to birds and possums, with the odd water rat. The campsites are on a cattle station so we had a couple of bulls visit us too!

Anyway heres some pics from my time there and would highly recommend a trip if you want to get away from it all, just don't attempt it in the wet season, though the falls would be much more glorious other than this trickle...
The campsite is actually few kms away from the falls, there's a walk that goes from the campground to the falls lookout, maybe an hours hike through the bush, but if you want to go to the top of the falls you would have to do some serious bush bashing. We drove around to this lookout which was about 5kms away.

Will be uploading some of these onto my website shortly.
Blencoe Creek and the old bridge crossing.


School trip - Centenary Lakes - Tanks

Recently I did something for my local school and tagged along with their media class to do some photography within our botanical gardens and surrounding areas.

The kids were great, very entertaining actually, and the sky was overcast which was perfect for what we were doing.

I took my own gear, showed them how to use a tripod, when you need one, and then a run through on basic camera settings.

Heres some pics I took and some tips of how you can improve on your typical tourist pics by some simple changes.

I was feeling a light and airy mood on this day so my images are deliberately a little overexposed. Here is a typical photograph of the chinese temple at Centenary Lakes.

So instead you could zoom back a little and get a little more of the gardens in the shot.

Then crop to suit, this removed the pandanus palm fringe on the LHS.

  To make another crop to a portrait shape makes it a much stronger image, keeping the structure off centre and white space above and below keeps it from being too busy.

1/200th sec f2.8 ISO 200
Compared to this first image here, this is a huge improvement.

Get a different viewpoint by looking up, can create nice bokeh (dappled light in the background) as well as enhancing features eg the texture on the paperbark

Also do the opposite... and keep it simple, main features off centre.

Get down low and shoot from ground level across textured floors.

These next few I have stepped back to include some greenery from the trees in the foreground, just to give more depth and another dimension to the image.

Same thing here but I should have stepped back further to get all of the reflection in the shot.

This crop is much more appealing.

I find these next two images too busy but a simple crop to a more pano mode improves the image.

Here's some post processing for improvements..
I removed the black fencing from the background and added a simple vignette to darken the edges and draw the eye to the main part of the image.

Another example of including some foreground in the images for depth.

Small depth of field with the focus on the centre on the palm, probably should have removed that bit of dead leaf first.

This is a great place to explore and learn a variety of different shooting techniques.
We also did some motion blur images using slow shutter speeds and shooting puddle reflections.

Thanks for having me and happy shooting!


Rodeo comes to town - bulls, dust and cowboys

Rodeos are not really my thing but have always wanted to photograph the action in the late afternoon light and dust.

July 2018

#mareebarodeo #mareebarodeo2018 #rodeophotography #actionphotography

I love to change up the pace very now and then and decided to visit the local rodeo a few weeks back.
I was looking for images shot in the last hour of sunlight, the warm winter sun highlighting the manes of the horses, outlining cowboy hats and stirred up dust giving a yellowish brown haze.

Most of these shot at 1/1000th sec f5.6 with a 70-200 with a 2x adaptor.

I have a heap of more but won't bore you too much, just a chosen few here with what I was trying to achieve.
And I got chosen for being a bulls target at one point as he roamed the arena looking for the exit, that was a bit exciting !!!

Needless to say, my camera was filthy after this and needed a good clean.


My new addition to the family.......100mm macro lens - super cool!

Yeah well its unlikely that I'll be having anymore babies, so lenses are it! Easier to maintain too!

The canon 100mm f2.8 L series lens is a pearler.
Picked this one up a couple of months ago.

So there's no zoom on this, its a prime lens. When shooting macros I find myself manually focusing it, just so I can pinpoint the exact area I am wanting to be in focus. Heaps of fun:)

The lens itself is quite light, compared to my others.
It's also a GREAT lens in low light with f2.8, so will be handy in shooting births so I can get nice close shots without getting too close!

So it has been raining A LOT here in Cairns over the past week or so and generally rain stops play, when it comes to outdoors shoots. Providing it's not pouring down I actually like the rainy days for shooting things you can't normally shoot in the middle of the day in bright sunlight, eg garden macros.

Now, my garden isn't really a garden, its more an "assortment of plants" and tough buggers too, as I am no green thumb. However shooting teeny weeny details, it doesn't matter so much. No one can see how messy my garden is :))))

Here's some snaps to look at, mostly shot from only a few cms away, focusing on one tiny detail.

f2.8 1/160th sec ISO100

f2.8 1/80th sec ISO200 and actually darkened the edges and underneath the dew drops a little using multiply blend mode in PS and because the dew drops were so bright it didn't affect them too much.

f4 1/60th sec ISO 320, had to get right inside this trumpet flower

The colours really come out in mundane objects like tree trunks, in the rain, but I have cheated little on this one and saturated only the oranges and greens in Lightroom.
f2.8 1/60th sec ISO 320

This one almost looks like fur and veins, like on a cats ear.
f4.5, 1/60th sec ISO 1000

This reminds me of Lord of the Rings, my favourite movies of all time!!
f4.5 1/60th sec ISO 1000

f2.8 1/60th sec ISO 640 These brown veins were quite orange and detracted from the section in focus, so selected oranges and desaturated a little in Lightroom.

f2.8 1/60th sec ISO 640

f2.8 1/200th sec ISO 100

f4, 1/100th sec ISO 200

f5 1/80th sec ISO 400, wanted a bit more depth in the focus for this one.

f3.2 1/80th sec ISO 400

#macrophotography #Cairns #100mmCanon #primelens

Dads and Birth Photography

Don't let your partner be the handbrake for your birth story!

Loads of Dads and partners are not so keen on having a birth photographer present for their big day.  There are two main reasons I am discovering: the $, and the whole idea that there will be someone else there, a photographer.

The $ part, I can do nothing about, that is what it is. I do the work before, during and after your birth. I do have registry options where others can contribute  to your birth photography. GREAT idea to give out details of this prior to a baby shower.

The second part I can.
I feel sorry for partners at times, they are unsure what to do, they don't know how to help, and seeing your partner going through labour can be a tough deal on their part as well.
Generally Dad has not had a good experience with photographers in the past. There's a lot of scary ones out there. Whether it was from their wedding or a childhood family portrait shoot that was simply too painful to forget. Photographers in their eyes are ANNOYING!!
Well, this is certainly is the case where they are NOT.

Birth Photographers have to be "there but not there", if you know what I mean.
We are not there to start conversation, but will join in if prompted.
We are there to capture snippets of the event as it unfolds, in all its craziness and beauty. We won't be taking 100 photos of mum in pain, nor asking anyone to pose for ANYTHING!
We will not get in the way, nor disrupt the birth space with lights.

All up, to be a birth photographer you have to be patient, respectful, friendly, caring, quiet, and supporting, NO MATTER WHAT!

FREE you partner from the worries of taking pics, so they can be there for you AND be in the pics too.

An old  favourite image I took many years ago, Dad with his bub.
#birth #birthphotography #cairnsbirthphotography #cairnsbirthphotographer


Prime Lenses - what are they and why are they so good!

Currently, my lens collection is 50% prime lenses.

And possibly my favourite of these is the 50mm prime, a photographers dream lens.

OK, so what is a prime... its a lens that has a set focal length. You cannot zoom.
Generally they are more expensive than zooms because the quality is superior.
So why would you want just a set focal length when you could have multiple?

Because there's no zooming mechanisms, these lenses have less elements to them, so the optics are sharper. If you are a portrait photographer, sharpness is essential, no matter what your style.

The 50mm is a VERY FAST lens with an aperture of f1.2. This is pretty extreme and you have to be super careful to get the correct area in focus at f1.2 but VERY handy in low light situations, so you can still keep your shutter reasonably fast and reduce blurriness from hand held camera shake. I LOOOOOOVE this feature, especially for photographing births, which is always tricky lighting.

The lens itself is much lighter in weight than a zoom within this range. This is important if you are hiking, or just carrying it around your body doing street photography for example.

Generally fine art and portrait photographers will prefer a prime simply due to the sharpness.
If you are on a busy schedule and moving location constantly eg weddings, then the zooms are more preferable to cover a range of situations, as you may not have the time to change lenses.

I took my 50mm out for a play last weekend for some street photography.

The primes also tend to make you work for the shot a bit more, you have to move your body closer or further away to get the frame you want, thus making you look for different angles and you get a bit more creative with your photography.

So heres all the boxes it ticks..
sharper images
lighter weight
generally better in low light
makes you more creative

#cairns #photographer #photography #primelens #50mm

These next few are processed using split toning, for effect.


Lifestyle Photography - what is it and why is it great for families

I LOVE  lifestyle shoots for young families and have started offering a product of short video clips blended with stills of your kids at home.
BECAUSE it is at home, they are comfortable. They know this place and are free to expose their unique personalities.
I spend some time getting to know them and for them to decide that I'm OK to be around. I open the curtains, flood the house with beautiful natural light, and off we go. It's all unplanned, just daily events that normally take place each day.

These events can involve mum and/or dad at times, just popping into the film here and there to give a helping hand where needed, or play or give a quick kiss. It all unfolds naturally which takes the pressure off mum and dad, and makes for a realistic and beautiful short film of how life is, something they can look back on in years to come.
I can also manage to snap some gorgeous candid shots of kids this way as they become oblivious to the camera after a bit.

The whole session can take 2-3 hours. I edit to keep just the highlights of the session, and integrate short bits of film with stills into a 5-6 minute story with licensed music. I keep some audio in parts, where I think warrants leaving it in, and then blend the music back in.

Heres a sample of one I did last month and some images from the shoot.

#lifestyleshoots #cairns #familyphotographer #familyphotography


My own birthing experience - turned off raisin toast for life!!!

My birth do it all myself! How hard can it be? There's no way I'm having that needle thingo in my spine!

Well.... my plan did not go to plan....

#birth #birthphotographer #cairnsbirthphotographer

Birth photography probably wasn't a thing back in 2000, well I certainly hadn't heard of it anyway. In fact I had only just decided to take on the career change of being a wedding photographer, from gold exploration geologist!
Heading out bush, rock licking was no longer an option.

I do have a few pics of my first born at hospital, but the resolution is very low and bad.

I wish I had just one shot of me seeing him for the first time. He looked straight into my eyes and was almost like "ah... so that's mum" .

It was a bit of an ordeal.
27 hours from when waters broke to delivery, which in the end was by emergency c-section as his heart rate slowed down too much.
By then, I really didn't care if they used a shovel. I was OVER it and just wanted my baby safe.

In the beginning, I was doing fine.  I discovered the hot shower THE BEST thing ever, so that is where I stayed until I went to hospital. My friend, who was a midwife, stayed with me. She asked if I wanted anything to eat. I was starving! She brought me raisin toast that I devoured in the shower. Heaps of it! I have tried to eat it once since, but couldn't do it. The associations were still too strong. Sorry raisin toast, nothing personal, but our days together are done.

The majority of the hospital part was a blur. Probably a combination of drugs and natures way.
I had ALL the drugs. Tried them all.

Its all carried out a lot differently now, definitely for the better.
The calmness of the midwives, the almost tranquility of the maternity wards, where you know behind  doors women are getting on with the job.

And I am quite happy now being on the other side of the camera documenting amazing women doing their thing :)