November 2012

Just for a Photo

I was recently approached by someone wishing to purchase a photo that I had taken of a performer. They wished to use the photo on promotional flyers so that they could generate more income for the performer. When I advised them of the price the comment I received was “JUST FOR A PHOTO”. I’m not going to say how much the price was but will say that it was less than the cost of two new music CD’s. Nor am I going to name the person who made the comment as it is not my intention to embarrass them and the sole purpose of this post is to explain how my photos and those of other serious photographers are not just photos.

Have you ever given any thought to what goes into creating a good photograph?

You need passion, equipment, time, training, desire and skills. Photographic equipment is not cheap and it not unusual for a serious photographer to outlay between $15,000 and $20,000 purchasing cameras, lenses, speedlites, umbrellas, soft boxes, remote triggers, tripods, light stands, flash triggers etc.

The equipment also needs to be insured and that can cost another $600 to $800 per year. Then there is public liability insurance in case someone is hurt as a result of me or my equipment, that is another $500 to $600 a year that I need to outlay.

It doesn’t matter how good the equipment or the photographer is, most photos require some form post processing and software needs to be used. Purchasing software is not cheap either with the latest version of Photoshop retailing for in excess of $1,000. Then there are the multitude of plug-ins and associated software programs that are used to bring the best out of a photo. I would have easily spent another $700 on other programs used solely for photo processing.

I do not upload my photos straight from the camera. Before they are uploaded they are reviewed and culled. For the photographs that I consider worthwhile to process I then make decide on what work has to be done. For some photographs it is only minor adjustments such as sharpening, cropping and the straightening of the horizon that are required, whilst for others the processing time can be very time consuming particularly when they include performers as I always wish to show them looking at their best.

Photos are not able to be processed without a computer and the computer required usually needs to be better than the average computer on sale as photo files sizes these days necessitate the use a lot of computer RAM and to utilise more RAM you need a 64 bit computer.

Also with photo files increasing in size it becomes a problem trying to store them all and then you need to keep buying external hard disks just to store photos.

What about the cost of training? I have paid to attend numerous photography courses to help me become a better photographer. I also subscribe to photographic magazines which are used to educate me and improve my photographic and post processing skills.

How do you put a price on the countless hours of practice and self-teaching. I know for one that I have spent hundreds of hours developing my skills so that I can JUST TAKE A PHOTO.

Just getting to locations can be an expensive exercise, whether it is a music performance that I have to pay to attend (and there have been plenty of them), a National Park which I have to purchase a pass to enter or just the cost of the fuel and car running expenses to get to a location.

Particularly for landscape photos there can be a lot of planning involved including researching the location, checking of the tides, reviewing the weather forecasts, determining the best time to be there to capture the location in the best possible lighting conditions.

I and other serious photographers take a lot of pride in our work and I know that I am my own worst critic and will not upload a photo that I am not happy with. I may take a lot of photos but the majority will never be seen by the public as they do not meet my own very high standards.

When I upload a photo, it is one that I am proud to display and it shows that it has met my own high standards. So please, before describing a photo as JUST A PHOTO, give some thought to what the photographer has been through to enable him or her to take the photograph.

Jervis Bay Weekend

The last weekend of October, after a very hectic month at work I decided to take the Friday off and enjoy a weekend of photography with my mate Don.

After leaving home at 3.30am we headed to Bombo which is just north of Kiama, to visit what is known by photographers as “The Boneyard”.  The Boneyard is situated on the coast and is what remains from an old basalt quarry  – history of location.

It was an overcast day and the swell was a modest 1.7 metres which was enough for the waves to be crashing over the walls.

Thar She Flows


We spent about 4 hours at the Boneyard before heading to Kiama for a quick breakfast and then onto Jervis Bay.  Be careful shooting at Bombo as the rocks are difficult to walk over and I twisted my ankle when trying compose a shot.

After such a long shoot at Bombo we were both concerned about having enough memory cards so a stop in Nowra was required to buy another card each – Compact Flash cards are not easy to find in Nowra! Neither of us knew the Jervis Bay area very well so it was time for some exploring.

We visited Blenhiem Beach which is near Huskinsson and thought that it had a lot of photographic opportunities with the right weather conditions.  The photo below was taken early the following morning.

Blenheim Beach


Next stop in the exploration was Hyams Beach which is regarded as having the whitest sand in the world – I must admit that it was very white but can not vouch that it is the whitest.

Hyams Beach


Green Patch Beach was one of the next stops and we stayed there quite a while as the sun was setting – unfortunately the conditions were not the best for photography though and another visit will be required. My cable release also went for a swim and it did not like the salt water very much and refused to work properly!

Green Patch Beach


By the time we left Green Patch it was after 7.00pm and as we had not organised any accommodation we thought we had better do so pretty quickly.  We found an older style motel at Huskinsson for a reasonable price and after a quick shower headed into town for a quick dinner and a few beers.

The next morning we shot the sunrise at Blenhiem Beach before heading back to Nowra to find a replacement cable release (they are a necessity for long exposures).  I think I purchased the only Canon cable release in Nowra!  We found it in the discount bin at Harvey Norman after being told that they did not have any in stock.  I negotiated a large discount as I was buying something that I had been told they didn’t have!

Later that day we decided to explore a few more locations including a 5km hike to Steamers Beach (not easy with a sprained ankle).  As soon as we reached the bottom of the stairs at Steamers Beach Don spotted a Brown Snake before it slithered off into the bush.   As it was the middle of the day we tried some long exposure photos as ended up with a few like this:

Steamers Beach


After arriving back at the car for a well earned beer we explored a few more locations before finding somewhere to buy some lunch.

For sunset we decided to revisit Green Patch Beach and were pleasantly surprised to see a Wallaby with her joey on the beach.

Wallaby & Joey


Again the conditions were not what we would have liked but we have to make do with it is put in front of us.


The next morning we headed out for a quick sunrise at Hyams Beach before packing up and heading home.

All in all we decided that the Jervis Bay area had a lot to offer photographers and is well worth another visit in the future.  It has beautiful beaches and plenty of wildlife.

I have a few of the photos from the trip available for sale on Redbubble