Electric Landscape

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Cape town is notorious for heavy storms, usually accompanied by rain and strong wind. What Capetonians rarely see however is thunder and lightning.  I have been waiting for months now to catch a good electric storm over the sea close to Table Mountain but when it happens it is usually at a time when I cannot get down to the beach, or the lightning is all over the place and not happening in the right spot. Two nights ago I went down to the beach for a normal evening of photographing surfers. As I got to the beach I saw the lightning coming towards us from across the sea.  I did not bring a tripod as I was not expecting lightning on the day and I was convinced that I was not going to get any shots.  Most of the lightning was also flashing behind Robben Island and I wanted it closer to Table Mountain.  When it got dark I drove home, but on my way I saw a few flashes in the direction of Table Mountain.  Without a tripod I knew it was going to be difficult, but I found a empty fruit carton box in the back of […]

In the mist of things

In The Mist Of Things

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I have mentioned before what the challenges are when shooting outdoors.  I usually plan my shoots according to the weather, especially if I am hoping to create a certain mood.  Although none of us can predict the weather to the T, at least we have some indication of what it is going to look like….. unless you live in Cape Town. Last night I had a shoot which I planned for a while now.  Various factors led us to postpone, especially previous weather conditions. The mood board which I had send to the model for approval had a summer breach scene and we were hoping for a nice sunset. Have I mentioned before that I love shooting while the sun sets?  Anyway, the whole day looked perfect.  The sun was shining, no wind, just a slight offshore wind and I was convinced that today was going to be the day.  As I was driving to the beach later in the afternoon, a message came from the make-up artists.  “I am setting up but it looks like it’s going to rain.” Although I knew that my sunset shoot was not going to happen, I was actually glad.  It wasn’t going to […]

Dad's Office

Dad’s Office

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“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”   – John Lennon Everyone probably knows this famous quote by John Lennon. I never thought that one day I would actually use this to assist my son with what seemed to have been a challenging question to answer at school.  He asked me after school what I did for a living?  I was quite intrigued by this question as I thought he might have been in a debate with his mates on whose dad is the coolest and I knew he was probably not going to win this one. I asked him why? It wasn’t that at all, it was only his teacher that was filling in a list of what the learners parents do for a living. Not sure why it has anything to do with the school, but I understand, so I asked him what he sad.  He said he wanted to say […]

Waiting On Weather

Waiting on Weather

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It’s not easy to rely on the weather when you are shooting with natural light.  Especially not if you live in Cape Town and you’re working towards a certain look or mood. I usually book my shoots according to the weather predictions.  Unfortunately this is not always easy, not of you have a model and a make-up artist that has their own schedules as well.  Sometimes I have a shoot booked but the weather does not want to play along.  Sometimes I have the weather but no shoots.  Usually on such days I try and look for any available model to do a TFCD shoot. This exercise turns out to be more hopeless than praying for a perfect sunset while the Southeastern is pumping. I have already postponed 3 shoots in December because of the wind. Then there are days when you have a shoot booked and for some miraculous reason the sky just turn into an array of colours.  Last night I had a shoot booked and the sunset turned out spectacular.  Here is some of the images from a shoot with Natasha. I did two seperate shoots with her, but my main aim with the red dress was […]

Let There Be Light

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I was following a post recently on facebook where a photographer were ranting about “unprofessional photographers” who do not even have “proper lighting equipment”. He actually called them by name, “natural light photographers”.  As a rule I don’t respond on facebook when someone gives an opinion, but knowing how much effort, time and planning goes into “natural light photography”, here is my opinion. I call myself a “natural light photographer” and there is more than one reason why I prefer to shoot outside with natural light.  Probably the first and foremost reason is because I want to be outside.  Shooting in a studio for me is like working in an office. Secondly I sometimes smile when I see the amount of equipment some togs carry down to the beach in order to shoot a model. A whole entourage of people carrying stuff, holding reflectors and speed lights and whatever gadget you can find to look more “professional’.  I don’t like carrying stuff, so the most advanced lighting technology you will find with me is probably a flash. I don’t even carry an extra battery with me.  Unless I want to create a special look or mood, you will not find […]

Silhouette vs Contre-jour

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I remember as a kid when we took photos of each other we always said “turn towards the sun”. I think even today still people believe that you have to turn your subject towards the sun if you want a “nice” picture.  If you don’t do that you will end up with what we call “silhouettes”, or mostly just a very under-exposed photo.  Not that there is anything wrong with silhouettes or underexposed subjects, we all love silhouettes and the mystery they contain.  Shooting sunset pictures often result in silhouettes, but there is actually a photography technique called “contre-jour” were you want your light to come from behind. Contre-jour translates from French as “against daylight.” Thus, contre-jour images are in a similar class as silhouettes and use low-key lighting, but they differ in other ways. A well executed contre-jour image creates an outline, achieves the aim of using a point-source of light behind the subject to create a bright glow that creates the form and reveals the image. Subjects within a contre-jour image can retain detail within the shadow areas, where as silhouettes is usually just a black subject with no detail visible. Contre-jour adds a touch of dramatic to your pictures and […]

Cleaning Out My Closet

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Like most photographers I sit with a huge “closet” full of pictures.  Every time I do a shoot, I end up using less than 10% of my images.  These images are edited and given to clients, the rest stay on my computer for maybe one day when someone asks me to look back for a picture.  For normal shoots I usually delete the images that I cannot use, but for the surfing shoots that I do voluntarily at the beach, I keep. Well, needless to say I run out of storage space very quickly so I decided today is the day that I am cleaning out my closet. If you as me if I shoot in RAW or Jpeg, some people might be surprised that I shoot 99% of the times in jpeg.  And the reason for this is exactly what I have described above.  I just cannot store so many pictures anymore and RAW files are even worse.  It does occasionally happen that people ask me to go back and find images for them, which I normally do.  Usually they don’t buy any of the images and that made me wonder. What is the most economical way to approach […]

Shadowban

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Very recently I wrote a piece on my facebook page about the manipulation of our followers on Instagram.  I noticed a steep drop in my follower growth which I first attributed to maybe reaching my limit in followers. This however had me wondering when someone offered me a  service to break this trend. I realized that I was not imagining this and that IG does actually have a way of manipulating what happens to your posts, your hashtags that you use and subsequently the engagement that you have with other users on the platform.  My first suspicion was that it is another way of making money because according to other sources as well, Instagram wants you to pay for people to see your posts. Especially if you have a business account. Today I stumbled across a website that actually gave it a name.  Shadowbanning.  It is obviously implemented by what the clever people call algorithms.   IG has the means of “blocking” your posts from appearing in the normal feeds and hashtags searches. It also means that new people might never see your posts at all making it impossible for you to gain more followers.  Today I am totally convinced that […]

An i or and iPhone?

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Just like Video killed the radio star we all know that digital killed film. Shooting with film was a skill not mastered by many.  I cannot even explain how hard it was because the closest I got to film was the 24 Kodak films from our point-and-shoot which we gave in to be developed after holiday seasons.  I didn’t know anything about film, I just knew that we should not open the film because then all the photos would be ruined, or that was what someone told me. Later I learned it had something to do with exposure, but that is basically where my knowledge on “shooting with film” ended. Then came digital photography and suddenly everyone could take pictures if you could afford a digital camera.  What was even worse was the day every cell phone manufacturer decided a phone should do more than one thing. Adding a camera seemed like the obvious thing a phone should be able to do. I cannot say that cell phones killed digital because they are also digital, but it definitely killed most photographers’ dreams of making a living out of photography. Now everyone was staking pictures and it got so bad that […]

So(cial) Confused

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Let’s face it, after simplifying my life two years ago I feel much better as a person, mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually, etc. I have however something that I still need to sort out.  I call it “social confusion” and often say that “I am so(cial) confused that I don’t know where is up or down anymore”.  I have have too many social media accounts. Period.  I created a blog for my travels, then created an Instagram account for my pictures, then a webpage for my business and another webpage for my other business. Then I created a facebook page for the one business and another one for the other business. After that I created two more IG profiles for other types of pics and as if that was not enough I created another blog for the wisdom I have accumulated over the years.  So after having a chat the other day with a friend over a glass of beer, he mentioned something about effective blogging and marketing.  I realized there and then that I have to sort out my own sh*t otherwise I am going to kill myself with the only thing I have not completely thrown out of my […]