Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Displaying photos

In the past if we wanted to display our photos we would get them developed and then carefully put them into a photo album for safe keeping. Over the years we would accumulate many albums each covering a stage in our lives that was important. These days however with digital photo files our options are far greater.

There are digital frames where you can have a selection of images rotating through at 3 or 4 second intervals. How awesome is that? Each time you take some new images you can change what is in your frame so that it is always displaying the most current photos. You can get your favourite photos printed on teeshirts, caps, teatowels, jigsaws, calendars, mugs, bags and even birthday cakes, and it doesn't stop there! There are way too many options for me to list them all here.

I am enjoying the ability to produce my own photobooks. I have photographed several family events and then created hard cover photobooks as a record of the event. The books become something that can be left on the coffee table, or in the bookcase and are not going to fade with age the way a photo does. And we are totally spoilt for choice as to where to get our photobooks from. I have tried several different websites that produce them and have two or three sites that I use often. Certainly worth giving it a go, the software is free and the prices are usually quite reasonable.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I had a go at taking some shots for the photo 3 competition for club today, but I really couldn't get inspired. There are three objects that need to be incorporated into the images and try as I might I just can't think of any way to do this that would also be interesting enough to stand out from the rest. So I will probably give this one a miss this time.

It got me thinking about the types of photography I enjoy the most. My husband thought it would be the portraiture because I do quite a bit of that, but infact I am more drawn to nature photography. With nature photography it is important not to modify the images other than the usual sharpening and cropping and I like this as it puts things on a more even keel when it comes to competitions. It's not about who is the best in photoshop, it's about who can take the best shot on the day.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wairarapa bound

Once again the weekend is here and the weather is foul, but that didn't stop us from heading over to the Wairarapa to have lunch with friends. Of course I took my camera just in case, because we had no idea what the weather was going to be like when we got there. Unfortunately it was no better and the camera stayed in its bag.

After lunch we headed home and just down the road I spotted some alpacas watching the cars go by. I stopped the car quick smart and finally got my photography fix. I stood there in the rain photographing these curious animals inbetween cars whizzing past between us. I didn't want to get too close in case I scared them off, so stayed on the other side of the road.

After that we went out to Stonehenge Aoteoroa. This was a really interesting visit. We were shown a video presentation explaining exactly what the stones represented. I learned something there today.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

What to do...

It's getting hard to find something to write about every day but I will give it a try all the same.

The problem with having photography as a hobby is that I want to be going places where I can use my camera. It's winter right now so I want to be out where there is snow falling and icicles hanging so I can capture the moment. Spring time I want to be where the lambs are frollicking and the cherry trees are flowering. Alas, with work and family committments it's just not that easy to get away.

We are heading over to Melbourne later in the year and I am so looking forward to the trip. Photography is not the reason for the trip but I am hoping that there will be a lot of opportunities for some great photography while we are there. A trip to the Melbourne Zoo is a must!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Props and things...

Sometimes it takes more than just the right model to make a good photo. The right props are what give the image believability. When I photographed Abigail at 10 days old her mother bought a large box of props that she thought would be good for using when we shot the photos. Some of them we used and others we didn’t – but they were there if we wanted them so we had options.

When these two lovely ladies arrived at my house last weekend I am sure the neighbours thought they were moving in! There was a giant suitcase full of clothes, lingerie and shoes for one of them, and several more bags for the other – including the very cute little table. Between the two of them they pretty much had everything they needed to create the look and era that they wanted to achieve in their photos. It was my job to make it all work together.

I can see now why they have a Creative Director at the photoshoots on the Top Model programs, it can be difficult to see every detail though the camera lens. Often it isn’t until you view the images on the computer screen that you nothing something has slipped or isn’t in the right place. Not having a Creative Director didn’t stop us, but it did mean that from time to time we decided to reshoot a particular image.

What I have also found is that the atmosphere you create is vital to the comfort of your models, and the more they relax and have fun, the better the resulting images. Music, props, refreshments, and having a fun attitude are all important to the success of the shoot.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Last year I was involved in a couple of camera club committees and was really quite busy for most of the year. When I resigned from the committees I had hoped that I would have much more time to work on my photography and be able to enter the local competitions a bit more often. The year started with a hiss and a roar and I managed one ladder competition and that has been it. I just don’t seem to be able to find the time to organise myself that well and entry deadlines fly past before I have even clicked the shutter button.
There are still a couple more that I am keen to try for. The PSNZ Central Regional Salon is one, though at this stage I am not sure what I will enter. They have a Nature category and Open in both projected and print formats. I am going to be attending the convention this year all going well so will be able to see all the entries on display. It’s always fun when one of your own images is displayed among them.

The PSNZ Canon Online competition is another one that I have entered from time to time. It’s a bi-monthly thing for PSNZ members. I have yet to get any of my images into the top ten but I will continue to try when the time allows.

Tonight I collected a package from Camera Club for a 'Photo 3' competition. Much like the Canon Photo 5, this is a club run event where we are given certain objects that must be in the image. I will show you my attempts once I have them done - I only have two weeks to have them ready for judging.


Continuing on from yesterday’s post, today I have been thinking about post processing and what it means to me. I know that some people spend a great deal of time touching up and modifying their images and they end up with some really spectacular stuff – but are they still photographs? How much modification does it take before an image becomes more computer generated than the original photograph?

I am of the school of thought that a photo is a photo is a photo. I like to shoot an image that only needs the usual cropping and sharpening (if any) to make it work. I don’t want to have to modify it to fit into some fantasy realm or to have it so air brushed that you can’t tell what is real and what is not!

Yes what they do is art, and a very skilled art at that, but so is photography. Why let the ability to digitally alter images dilute the quality of the art of actually taking a good photo. I am not a graphic artist and never will be. I am a photographer and that’s the way it is going to stay.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shooting Raw

When I first started using a digital camera I choose to shoot in jpg and didn't even think about the resolution. It wasn't until someone said to me that it would be crazy not to use all the mega pixels that the camera has to offer that I actually thought about what the resolution of the photo really meant to me.

The first thing to think about was what I was going to do with the photos. If they were going to be printed then high resolution was a must, so my camera setting, while still on jpg, was set to the largest it could be. However I didn't stop there long. After talking to folk at camera club and seeing what they manage to achieve with their photos it wasn't long before I braved shooting raw files.

Suddenly a whole new world of post processing was opened up to me and with it a whole new lot of questions. Which was the best software to use to process the raw files? Over the last few years I have tried many different programes for processing. Photoshop, Lightroom and Digital Photo Professional are the three that I tend to use the most.

The software that came with the camera is designed specifically for my camera and the settings on the camera are mirrored within the software. I enjoy using this software, especially when doing black and white images. I like that I can easily apply coloured filters which are great for skin tones and such like.

So anyway, these days I never shoot in anything other than raw files and I believe my images are much better for it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dress Ups

Today a couple of friends came over with a huge suitcase full of clothes, shoes and props. I supplied drinks and nibbles and the fun began. You know that song that says "girls just wanna have fun", well these girls sure did. They played dress ups for the camera and I had a great time photographing their antics.

Sometimes when we do these kind of photo shoots it takes a bit of time to let the models relax and get comfortable with the camera but when they do it is magic. I have learnt so much about how the light and shadow can make such a difference to a portrait. How a bit more makeup in just the right places can change a look from ok to dramatic. It also makes a difference when the girls get hair and make up done by professional hair and makeup artists. They know that makeup for the camera can be more dramatic than you would normally wear and come up with some stunning looks.

I have been watching the modeling reality shows on TV when they do their photoshoots. I have picked up many tips and tricks from these shows watching the professional photographers work with the girls, seeing how they encourage them to work with the camera rather than struggling against it. I am learning how to explain what it is I am trying to achieve with the images and how I think we may be able to do that.

Friday, June 18, 2010


Some days you really just can't get motivated to do anything and when its cold, wet and the middle of winter it gets even harder. I am sure that if I didn't have this blog to keep me going I most certainly would not have braved the cold as much as I have so far. The blog gives me a reason to be out there.

It doesn't matter if the images I shoot are not that great, what matter is that I am out there every weekend taking photos. Practice makes perfect and I intend to get a whole lot of practice. Every now and then I will shoot an image that stands out and that's great. Those are the images I will enter into competitions and such like, the rest are still a part of the process. For one to stand out, it needs there to be others to stand out from.

This weekend I have an indoor shoot on the one day when the weather report says it might be fine but hey, you don't know what the weather is doing when you book dates. I have two lovely burlesque models to photograph in all their finery. Hopefully we will be able to come up with some cute pin up shots to show you.

I plan on exploring some more of the new camera's special features and try playing with a couple of different lenses for this shoot. It will a good opportunity to experiement.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Melissa is the daughter of a friend of mine and she hates having her photo taken. She hates it almost as much as her mother and me. Regardless of how much she hates it, she is a very pretty girl and this shows very clearly in the resulting images when she does get in front of the camera.

I don't know what it is about the camera but personally I shy away from it every time. I don't like the way I look in a photograph and usually focus on the negatives of the image rather than the whole. So when someone tells me they don't like themselves in a photo I first ask them what it is about the photo that they don't like.

Is there a way we can avoid that happening, or find a position that doesn't accentuate the bit that is not liked. Usually the answer is yes we can avoid it when just a little bit of thought. We do have a good side and a bad side - no argument there - it's just finding which is which and recognising it. As a photographer it means looking with the finished image in mind and making whatever small changes are required to achieve a positive outcome.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Auto ISO

The cold winter weather has finally caught up with me and I am feeling a little fragile at the moment, so I have snuggled down on my recliner under a blanket with my laptop and have the fire roaring. I have certainly had enough of winter already and it has barely started.

One of the features on my new camera that I am enjoying is the Auto ISO setting. Usually I would stear clear of using such a feature in fear of getting a bunch of grainy images that were no use to me at all. Usually auto functions tend to use the high end of the range more often than we would use if we chose them ourselves. The Canon EOS 550D has a cunning new feature that allows you to set the highest limit that you are prepared to go to and it will move within that range only.

The camera goes up to 6400 but I am a little twitchy about that high a number so have set my camera to top out at 1600. I have tested this is various low light situations and have had nothing but good results so far, so I am really liking it. One less thing to worry about. I know many people would say you should use everything on manual settings but I am of a different mind. I have paid for a camera with a very complicated computer in it and see no reason not to use it.

Most of my images are shot on P for programe and with the ISO set to top out at 1600 there isn't much left for me to worry about other than focus. This is where I often will go to manual as the auto focus can be very annoying at times, focusing on the wrong things.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Wet wet wet

Saturday morning we braved the weather - which wasn't too bad when we left home - and headed out to the Kaitoke Regional Park. There are some lovely bush walks around the river forks there, and it is also one of the venues for the filming of the Lord of the Rings movies. Rivendell is found nestled in the Kaitoke Regional Park.

We chose a short walk due to the weather, thinking we wouldn't get too wet. The sign said 30 minutes return to the forks and back. "Lets just go a little way in and then decide" says I. Big mistake. A little way in was a very steep climb which wasn't too bad until we thought about the return walk back down. It was very wet and slippery.

So we continued walking the track to see where it was going to take us and hoping that there would be another way out, thereby avoiding the very slippery downhill track. I am not sure my back was up to falling down bush tracks. We eventually came to the end of the track after stopping every now and then for a few photo opportunities and we found the road that would take us back to our car.

As we started walking up the road the heavens opened and we suddenly found ourselves getting very wet. Now at this stage we figured if the track was only 15 mins each way, then the car shouldn't be that far down the road. Wrong! We walked solidly for another 30-40 minutes in the heavy rain before we found the car again. It was an adventure I don't think I want to repeat too often.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

30 minutes of sunshine

I had plans of going to Nga Manu today but it didn't happen, the weather was just too nasty so we hit the malls instead. So sad that we had to go shopping instead of taking photos but hey, someone has to do it.

Later on the weather started to clear a little and once again there was the chance of getting out the camera. We weren't far from the beach so that's where we headed. It was cold and windy but the sun was shining. I was amazed to see just how many people had made it down to the beach when only minutes ago it was raining cats and dogs!

I didn't spend much time down on the beach myself, it was just too cold because of the bitter wind. We decided to stop somewhere more sheltered on the way home but alas it wasn't to be. The clouds rolled back in and with them the rain. Oh well, there's always another day.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Back when my children were younger there were no digital cameras, so I didn't get huge amounts of photos of them. Developing the films were beyond my budget back then so photography as a hobby was out of my reach. Now my children are adults so the opportunities to photograph children are few and far between. I have to be patient and wait for grandchildren to appear but the chances of that happening anytime soon are pretty slim.

Today one of my son's friends visited with her young son. He told me he was three full halfs old but really he is three and a half years old. He is one cute little guy who has definite ideas of what he will and won't do. He took a fancy to some mega blocks that we have and when I asked him if he could build me a house he immediately went for the instruction book for plans.

So anyway I had a small window of opportunity to photograph Brogan and getting him to smile for the camera took some reverse psychology. Tell him not to smile and we get a cheeky grin - I will settle for that. It may have been a short photoshoot but small children don't have huge attention spans.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Golden glows

Its raining yet again in Wellington. The other night in the local newspaper they showed a calendar of the weather for last month. One fine day in the month was all we had, it's no wonder I haven't been able to get out much with the camera. This weekend is going to be no better what I have heard, with snow predicted on the Rimutaka hill on Sunday. That means the fire will be stoked up and we will be huddled around it trying to keep warm.

I do have a busy weekend planned though, some friends have asked me to do a portrait shoot for them which I am happy to do. How it is going to turn out is anyone's guess because neither of them like having their photo taken! I am up for the challenge and if they let me I will post the results here for you to see. If I get smiles my job will be done :)

On Sunday I am hoping to visit the Nga Manu Nature Reserve again on the way to a family lunch. I haven't been there with my new camera so I am keen to see how it performs with the birds. I will of course, take care not to step off the track again, falling down holes is not fun.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What's in a name?

I have been thinking about the name of this blog and whether it is actually that appropriate. If you searched for ‘portrait’ on google you probably wouldn’t want to be ending up at my blog, but it is entirely possible that you do. So I have spent a bit of time over the last day or so considering what to rename it. I want something unique, catchy, useful to search engines and relevant. It’s a big ask but hey challenges are good for the brain – or so I am told.

So I googled other photography blogs in my search for inspiration and came up with nothing. Then I looked for other people looking for ideas to name their blogs and found that I am not alone! There are heaps of folk out there with unnamed blogs all looking for those magic words to draw in the readers. After all, what is a blog without readers? They are a very important part of why we do this who blogging thing.

I came up with lots of ideas and tossed them all out. I think I have finally settled on “Shutter Clicks” as it is both appropriate and catchy, so I will give it a try for now. If you can come up with a better name for my blog feel free to leave a comment below.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cold southerlies, rain and hail

Tonight I should be going to the camera club meeting. It's a social night as far as I can work out with a matting workshop attached. The weather outside is just plain nasty with rain, hail and in some places even snow, so there is very little incentive to go out in it.

If you have any interest in photography at all at an amateur level then I strongly recommend joining your local camera club. It is a place where you can learn from others who have a similar interest, join in on club activities and challenges and in general have a lot of fun with your camera.

I joined the Upper Hutt camera club back in 2004 and not long after that shifted to the Hutt Camera club. The Hutt club were more structured which suited me much better. They have regular inhouse competitions and also participate in inter-club competitions both regional and national.

Over the years I have made a lot of friends at Camera Club and being as I didn't know a lot of people in the area when I joined it has been very helpful in allowing me to establish a whole new circle of friends. Ok so now I am starting to feel a little bad about not going tonight, but then I look out the window at the weather and remember why I decided not to go. I will just stay here in the warm by the fire and chat with you all.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Blue skies and bananas

Wouldn't you know it, the long weekend is at its end and now the sky is blue. It has rained all weekend and with the prospect of going back to work only hours away the weather finally takes a turn for the better. How unfair is that?

I decided to stay indoors today, it was too cold and nasty outside to even try to get out taking photos. I had planned on going through my archives clearing out any rubbish files I have saved over the years. The files from my new camera are so much larger than the previous ones and are going to be fililing up my hard drive very quickly if I am not careful.

It's hard to know sometimes, what to keep and what to throw out. Some of them could be improved with editing but do I really want to go to those extremes? I have always said that a good photograph is one that doesn't need huge amounts of editing to make it good, and I still stand by that but I just can't bring myself to hit the delete button that easily.

So I just delete a few and fool myself into thinking that I have tidied up my files a bit and I can always do more next time I sit at the computer - but will I? These days I find myself using the laptop more and more so that means much less time to clean up old photo files. It will happen, just not any time soon.