David Simmonds Photo Safaris: Blog https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog en-us David B Simmonds (David Simmonds Photo Safaris) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:30:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:30:00 GMT https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/img/s/v-12/u280396487-o954440420-50.jpg David Simmonds Photo Safaris: Blog https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog 90 120 Always Create More Than You See https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2019/10/create-more-than-what-you-see What you see is just the beginning of the creative process of making a great image

American photographer Ansell Adams said something like, "If I feel something strongly, I will make a photograph that will be the equivalent of what I saw and felt. When I'm ready to make a photograph, I think I quite obviously see in my mind's eye something that is not literally there." He is expressing something seen from within, rather than just taken from without. Thinking this way makes each photograph your own, and it's how I like to work also. Unlike Ansell, however, I often combine images to create the image I see in my "mind's eye", so I thought I'd share a little of this process of image making.

Rock JohannaI call this "Moon Dog Rock", Johanna

This image was unplanned so I was only equipped with one lens on my beach walk that day. As soon as I saw this fantastically shaped rock I wished for my 17mm Tilt Shift (TS) and a tripod! The TS is a specialty architectural lens, but is also great for multiple formats in landscape, as it allows creating formats equivalent to square (1:1), 6x12 (1:2), 6x18 (1:3) and 5x4 (the format of the older view cameras, and a good ratio for landscapes) ie. seeing outside the standard 3:2 frame, which was just not working for me.

I wanted more of the landscape but didn't want to go wider & further back. I wanted the intensity of being close to the  rock foreground, as well as the ocean movement & cliffs in the background.

The sea is always moving so I shot several of the water section on the left so I could choose the best version. To make sure the sections of my stitch join up, I rotated from the hips as I shot so keep it all on the same level.


I used Lightroom (Lr) to stitch my images in 3 steps - selecting Photo Merge, then Panorama, then Perspective. I saw this as a gritty black & white image in my mind, so I converted my stitched image to monochrome.


Now this is still far from the image I have in my mind (in homage to Ansell Adams). After adjusting the colour channels in the monochrome conversion I took it to Photoshop CC, adding a sharpening channel using High Pass in hard light mode (Filter-Other-High Pass). But I don't do this globally as I want to keep the sky soft but make the rocks gritty. I use a reversed (black) mask to add selective sharpening only on the rock surfaces and not areas the eye expects to be soft (sky & water). This finally gives me the gritty, high contrast look that reflects the feeling from this coastal landscape.

But there's still more to do to make this a really strong image, and two pairs of eyes can be better than one. Showing this to my astute partner, she said the sky bothers me, it dominates the rock. She was right, a totally blue sky can be boring sometimes! So I searched my library of skies and found some clouds I'd taken on a different visit to this same beach, now the image really "rocked" (see lead image above).

You never stop learning, no matter how long you've been doing this, so it's always good to show your work to another. We don't all see the same way and creative feedback is really helpful.

Nor do we have to accept the limitations of the conditions of the day, or of the equipment we have brought with us. With some curiosity, creative thinking and imagining we can go far beyond what literally presents itself.

So if you're inspired by this and want a little help with your own images, you can contact me for a personal (and supportive) image critique, coaching session or you can join me on my next workshop on our beautiful southwest Victorian coast & Great Ocean Road.

Next workshop is coming up soon 8-11 November 2019 and I'm teaming up with my good friend and number one, multi-awarded Tasmanian landscape photographer, Paul Hoelen, so check it out here!

(David Simmonds Photo Safaris) david b simmonds photographer great ocean road great ocean walk learn photography simmonds photo safaris https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2019/10/create-more-than-what-you-see Mon, 07 Oct 2019 12:26:37 GMT
When three shots are better than one! https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2016/12/when-three-shots-are-better-than-one Long exposures create beautiful soft water effects in low light on Johanna Beach. Walking the Castle Cove to Johanna Beach section of the Great Ocean Walk gives many wonderful photography opportunities. I'd lingered too long with the late afternoon light on the rocks at the very end of the beach. The fast falling light had not lit up the sky as I'd hoped, for which I'd selected my favourite Canon 17mm TS lens (and, of course, a tripod).

But the ocean is always about motion, so I shifted my focus to the water and moved in closer. With a long exposure I got the water effect I wanted, but realised I was missing the small but poignant setting sun. Shifting my lens (not the camera) upwards, I got the horizon with its subtle colours. But then there were clouds, and I wanted them as well.

So, another shift of the lens upwards. By only moving the lens element it makes combining the images so much easier, even with a lens this wide. When shooting this way it's critical to keep your f-stop, focus and ISO the same.

I used shutter speed 1/6th second for the water and a faster shutter speed (1/30th second) for the horizon and sky, as they were much brighter than the sand and water at my feet. Sometimes I plan this approach from the beginning, but sometimes I just respond in the moment to the challenges of the changing light.

Later, in Adobe LightRoom and Photoshop CC2017, I combined the images then worked with the colour intensity for the sun, and subtly for the clouds (graduation filter). Then high pass sharpening selectively on the rocks and swirling water, which was more like a mist floating above the sand.

You can see the three original images I started with below. My final image will still take a bit more work, but for now I'm happy enough with it to share it with you, so you'll know some of the things you'll see, experience and learn with me in my January 2017 weekend photography intensive.

One last tip: always keep a weather eye on the ocean while you're concentrating through your viewfinder, or you just might end up with very wet legs and equipment from that one "rogue" wave that's bigger than the rest!

(David Simmonds Photo Safaris) david b simmonds photographer great ocean road great ocean walk learn photography long exposure photography low light photography ocean photography otways photography workshops simmonds photo safaris https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2016/12/when-three-shots-are-better-than-one Fri, 16 Dec 2016 06:32:35 GMT
Flowing Water https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2015/8/flowing-water Oceanic (Johanna Beach)Oceanic (Johanna Beach) © David B Simmonds

Time off from the normal routine is a great opportunity to get the camera out and experiment, discover new subjects or new angles on favourite places and subjects. One of mine is Johanna Beach. While I have lots of beautiful images of the beach, waves etc my current fascination is capturing the constant motion and energy of the ocean in a soft abstract treatment (think mystery, dreamy waterscapes, the unconscious realms).

So I’m using long exposures that run many minutes and a Neutral Density (ND) filter that will take off 5 stops of light. And if that’s not enough I add a ND4 to get as long an exposure as possible, shooting from late afternoon into dusk, hoping for good colour in the sky to mix into the reflections in the water.

So if you’re shooting this weekend: have fun, push out, try something new. Then take time out to edit right away while your inner vision is still bright and clear (don’t leave your images on your card or hard drive until the next long weekend!). Or if you think some one-on-one coaching would help you realise your vision for your images, why not book a session with me.

(David Simmonds Photo Safaris) david b simmonds photographer great ocean road neutral density filter otways simmonds photo safaris water photography https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2015/8/flowing-water Wed, 19 Aug 2015 14:03:15 GMT
Winter Fungi, Winter Fun https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2015/8/winter-fungi Otways FungiOtways Fungi © David B Simmonds 2015 Otways FungiOtways Fungi © David B Simmonds 2015 Otways FungiOtways Fungi © David B Simmonds 2015

Otways FungiOtways Fungi © David B Simmonds 2015 Just because it's winter doesn't mean you put your camera away. The Otways ever changeable beauty is still wonderful and inspiring. Fungi of all shapes, colours and sizes have been springing up in the forest and leaf litter. So macro photography’s been high on my list at the moment. They’re quite amazing, and often look best in soft overcast light, or filtered sunlight, in other words the light of winter.

Most of these images I’ll eventually combine into a large montage compilation “In an Octopus’s Garden, Beneath a Leaf Green Sea” (working title). This is the idea that’s guiding my fungi photography.

TIP: It’s good to have an idea, or a goal for what you want to achieve when you’re out shooting. Not to limit or restrict you, but to bring initial focus. From there you can branch out as your creativity (or the light) calls you. 

(David Simmonds Photo Safaris) david b simmonds photographer fungi great oc great ocean road macro photography otways simmonds photo safaris https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2015/8/winter-fungi Tue, 18 Aug 2015 13:54:21 GMT
From Ceduna to China...a Segue https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2014/7/from-ceduna-to-china-a-segue I was cruising my friend Nick Rains FB timeline when I came across his Ceduna post accompanied by a beautiful shot of the nearby sand dunes just up the road at Fowler’s Bay. Nick was lamenting Ceduna’s accommodation conditions, TV & fridge not working, dirty shower…

Well at least it had those “amenities”. Sounds like Ceduna has improved a tad since I hitch-hiked through there on my way from Brisbane to Perth back in Jan ‘72. We slept in a wheat bin with just a tarp for covering (quite comfy), and I was too busy over the next 4 days trying to get a lift across 360 miles of unsealed Nullabor road to find or shoot anything as beautiful as Nick’s dune. But I’m reminded of my trip to China some years ago with similar experiences, and it’s a good excuse to show some images…

Mystic Grand CanyonMystic Grand CanyonMystic Grand Canyon in the Tianshan Mountains, Asku, Xinjiang Province, China. Like Australia, China has vast open desert spaces that make you aware of how far from anywhere you actually are. The light paints the surrounding mountains in an ever-changing palette of colours.

I was a guest of the China Photographic Society with 39 other international photographers. We stayed in a motel at Mystic “Grand” Canyon in Xinjiang province which had no head on the shower (I had to bounce the water off the opposite wall), only COLD water, no fridge or any cold beer, and the bed was just planks that were so hard I was up before dawn. This proved a blessing in disguise as it got me outdoors to find this beautiful image of the canyon rim (above). The lesson? There’s a photo opportunity in every experience if you look for it. Here’s some more of my favourites from that trip.

(David Simmonds Photo Safaris) china david b simmonds photographer landscape photography travel photography xinjiang province https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2014/7/from-ceduna-to-china-a-segue Tue, 29 Jul 2014 06:09:02 GMT
Full Moons...or not? https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2014/6/full-moons-or-not Full Moon? (© David B Simmonds)Princes Pier Information Booth, Port Melbourne

As the great American photographer, Ansell Adams, said:

"The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it."

It’s not what you see but how you see it. As a professional photographer, this is the skill I bring to my clients. Seeing more than appears on the surface, or at first glance. It’s a bit of a cliché but seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary is an important part of my craft.

Last week was January full moon time. I saw this “full moon” in the daytime in the rust-patinaed Information structure down at Port Melbourne’s Princes Pier, with its circular roof opening. The patches of light cloud, the blue sky and light in sharp relief against the dark interior were very evocative in my imagination. Back in my studio I enhanced it a little in Photoshop and voila! A full moon.

I’ve begun to notice a number of earthly moons and have started to photograph them. Here's another one from my Instagram feed taken in the Otways.

[NB: This blog first appeared on my tumblr blog and Instagram feed, but I thought it was relevant to post it again here. Hope you enjoy it.]

(David Simmonds Photo Safaris) david b simmonds photographer great ocean road moons otways port melbourne princes pier simmonds photo safaris https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2014/6/full-moons-or-not Tue, 03 Jun 2014 13:49:50 GMT
Funky Fungi https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2014/5/funky-fungi Autumn in the Otways is a wonderful time as seasons change and winter approaches. It's a good time to be out with your camera and on your knees. Quite likely "flat out like a lizard drinking" because there's exciting images to be found on the ground. The mass of fungi is amazing! All shapes and colours and sizes, including these old funky fungi with attitude.
This funky old fungi had real presence and attitude, like an old warrior, so I wanted to get down low and accentuate his size. The light on the day was softer than I'd have liked so I added contrast via high pass sharpening afterwards.
To do these beauties justice you have to get down low, watching out for cow pats and ant nests before you settle in. It's a still life but also a portrait. So light and a good angle is important, with a shallow depth of field to separate the subject from background and foreground. 
My choice of lens is a Canon 100mm 2.8 macro, which is also my favourite portrait lens, but you can use any lens that will let you focus close enough. The idea is to fill the frame and bring some drama and poise to the subject. If you have trouble focussing closer pull back a little and then do the ideal crop after in Light Room or CC. Another way is to get an extension ring, not expensive as they have no glass in them, which allows you to halve your minimum focus distance and get closer to your subject.
So even when the weather turns cool and damp you don't have to look very far to find interesting subjects on which to hone your skills.
(David Simmonds Photo Safaris) autumn photography david b simmonds photographer fungi great ocean road macro photography nature photography otways simmonds photo safaris https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2014/5/funky-fungi Wed, 28 May 2014 05:38:05 GMT
Jessie & Joe https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2014/3/jessie-joe I had a great time taking Jessie & Joe on Safari on Johanna Beach in the Victorian Otways. An overcast day cleared brilliantly to make for some very interesting & challenging late afternoon light (my favorite).

While the Safari was essentially for Jessie as a gift from Joe he still offered to carry gear and was very good company, wandering off to do his own thing as he felt like it. He even went for a swim (brave man!) which made one of Jessie’s best pictures. As she was shooting into the light with two fishermen in silhouette, Joe burst from the water (it was cold!) and Jessie caught the moment.  I'd asked Jessie to set her camera to RAW capture at the beginning of our session, as it's universally the best way to digitally capture any image. The extreme contrast and back light then becomes much less a problem when processing than if shooting in JPEG. Later we did a little editing, converting to Black & White and some non-destructive cropping in Adobe Light Room, while enjoying a wine.

Johanna Beach © Jessie C Hopetoun Falls © Jessie C

Safari is about a journey of learning. Travelling, learning and fun for me go hand in hand. Jessie really liked the Light Room program as it’s so intuitive and she picked up the essentials easily. She was a delight to teach and ready to have a go, but the very best part of the Safari happened the next day when Jessie and Joe went to Hopetoun Falls to put the days learning into practice. We met next day for a follow-up session. I was thrilled and pleased to see what we'd practiced turn into some strong images of the falls.

I look forward to following Jessie’s progress (I encourage people to stay in touch re their latest work) as she comes back to me from time to time for a refresher, or just calls to say "where was that thing-a-ma-jig", button or setting. No need to waste time struggling with finding a menu item if you can get the information you need on the spot and then get back to making beautiful pictures. It's all part of the service, and all part of being a fellow traveller on a Simmonds Photo Safari.

(David Simmonds Photo Safaris) david b simmonds photographer great ocean road johanna beach otways simmonds photo safaris https://www.simmondsphotosafaris.com/blog/2014/3/jessie-joe Wed, 05 Mar 2014 01:04:12 GMT