Monday, November 5, 2012

Bad Blogger!

Oh dear - it's like going to the dentist... the longer you leave it, the harder it is to face up to how long it's been since the last check-up, and you just know it's gonna hurt!  Yes, another 7 months has passed without a single post... I am not going to even try to bore you with excuses, so just accept my apologies, and let's just jump straight in.

First, a brief potted history of the last few months... I've been to Malolo Island (Fiji) again earlier this year - it is such a great place to relax that it is turning into an annual pilgrimage for us - I'd love to take my camera scuba diving with me - but that's a whole bunch of expense that I think I'll pass on.  This year, we flew in a seaplane from the main island out to Malolo itself, giving me a brief chance to do some aerial photography.  Then we traveled to the UK for a couple of weeks, via Paris for a couple of days on the way there, and Abu Dhabi for a couple of days on the way back.  Paris was a great place to stop and I got some nice photos there (Eiffel Tower, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and uhm... Eiffel Tower), but the UK was all about visiting the rellies, and opportunities for photography did not really abound.  There were some stunning buildings in Abu Dhabi, but it was so hot, most of my pictures were taken from within the air conditioned comfort of a dust covered Land Cruiser!

Our zoo membership expired, and when we didn't renew it straight away, the zoo offered us an extra 3 months for free - BONUS!!  So we've just renewed it again, and I'm looking forward to many more visits (he he - watch out for loads more Meerkat pictures :-] )  We never managed to get out to the Western Plains Zoo (that's the other zoo that is covered by our membership, but it's a good 8 hour drive away) during our last membership period, but maybe we can get there this time.

I've discovered a nice little area of bush/woodland near where I work, that has opened up more lunchtime opportunities for wildlife photography, especially birds, though it has also enlightened me as to some of the hazards of wildlife photography - even in a seemingly innocuous area of woodland just 200m from my office - like being dive-bombed by angry nesting magpies, bitten by giant mosquitoes, being on constant watch for deadly snakes and spiders, and finally, taking home a blood-sucking passenger or two...  It's all in a day's work ;-)

I've tried my hand at photographing the rugby out in the park near me during the winter months, and also tried to get some shots of my niece doing her gymnastics and physie competitions (in poorly lit sports halls, with no flash allowed...)  Neither of these attempts were particularly successful, but I'll maybe post some of the pictures and discuss the difficulties later.

I feel like I've reached a decision point in photography - I do enjoy photographing anything and everything, but feel like I'm just drifting and not really advancing my skills in any particular direction.  I'm a 'Jack of all trades, but master of none...', so it's time to choose a 'specialist subject' as they used to say on Mastermind ("I've started, so I'll finish.").  While I'd really love to do sports photography, I recognise that the pre-requisite of spending $1000+ on a nice bit of glass is somewhat prohibitive, and I have decided instead to learn more about lighting, and using it for product and portrait photography, which I can do on a small scale far more cost-effectively with a 'budget' DIY home studio setup.  Developing the lighting skills on inanimate objects (while hard enough) will be the easy part - developing the skills to direct people is the bit I dread but really want to be able to do...

I already have my daughter's SB-800 on long-term loan (thank you for never asking - but I'll give it back one day, I promise) and a Cactus V5 Duo radio trigger set, and I've purchased a cheap set of 2x500W workshop lights for some constant lighting.  I'm hoping to supplement this with another (cheaper) speedlight, some proper light stands, etc., as well as building myself a backdrop holder, and makeshift supports for reflectors and so on ("Stick-in-a-can" type, a la Jim Talkington).  Eventually, I can invest in one or two actual studio strobes perhaps, after I build up a selection of stands and modifiers (and learn how to use the speedlights effectively)...  I bought myself some white and black material for backdrops, and some white and black sheets of card for making reflectors this weekend, and am waiting to lay my hands on some empty paint cans - lucky one of my sons is a painter.

OK - enough for now, and lunchtime is over so I'd better get on with some work.   I'll be back with some actual photos in the next couple of days (or 7 months...)

Happy Snappin'

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