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Sunset in the Solomon Islands (1000 iso @F5)

One of the many virtues of digital photography is that you can shoot to specific post production techniques you’ve mastered (at least in your own mind, he adds).
In this photograph (above), I knew I wanted more than the safe option of just a silhouette of the kids jumping which I could have got by simply focusing manually and exposing to the sunset.
So I chose to override my camera’s auto settings and shoot a relatively fast ISO (1000), set the camera’s aperture to F5 and concentrate on the children splashing. I needed to be careful – too high an exposure and I’d blow out the sunset; too low and I’d lose the detail of the children, yet I needed the speed. If I went too fast with the ISO, chances were the picture would be too grainy.
Still, despite the obvious darkness I could see on the back of my camera, I continued to shoot, confident I could pull the highlights back and draw out the details from the shadows on the computer to get a half-way reasonable shot.
In summary, without being familiar with this technique in the post production process, I would never have confidently shot for this picture.

The Details:
I did most of the post production work in Lightroom and completed the process with some dodging and burning in Photoshop before warming the overall temperature to bring back some of the colour of the sunset. For an extra bit of punch, I duplicated and overlaid the layer then drew back its opacity to about 18%, before merging the two layers and sharpening the picture.

Blog noseJust watching Ben sewing the turtle-shell Nalor (nose ornament) through his septum and plunging two rods through his nostrils (above) was enough to make my eyes water.
I’m doing a 10 day shoot in the Solomon Islands where the priority of the first stage of the assignment is to capture some culture shots that distinguished the Solomon Islands from their Melanesian competitors (Vanuatu, PNG and Fiji).  Having just returned from the Santa Cruz islands in the south where I shot these pics, I’m now back in Honiara – albeit briefly. Tomorrow I leave with talent to the destination’s more popular playing grounds of Gizo and Munda in the Western Province.

I’ll post a preview of the shoot when I come back through in about a week.

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From the wilds of Papua New Guinea to the wildflowers of Western Australia – surely I could be forgiven for expecting a somewhat less demanding assignment.

However, as I have learned, “wildflower photography” has its own challenges.

First, you need to find the wildflowers that flourish in the vast expanse of central Western Australia. Not the scattered patches which I started with and photographed in early desperation mind you, but the planes of them which I subsequently discovered lay several hundred kilometres further north. You also need to realise that the flowers that appear in broad daylight which you meticulously planned to return to and photograph with talent were likely to disappear in the late afternoon (yes, of course I know some flowers retract in the cold; everyone knows that). Then there’s the importance of remaining in cruise control in your car as you rush to harness the early morning light (result: a $200 speeding fine), knowing the difference between a much sought-after wildflower and, well, crops (who would have thought the bright yellow Canola wasn’t a wild flower) and, finally, assuming as accurate, the advice of the dear old biddies who volunteer their time at the visitor information centres when they tell you the rare wreath flowers you are seeking are ” just 35 kilometres from here” (…..or maybe that was last year).

Still, it was a productive shoot (thanks Jess and Kaylee who came up from Perth).

If you’re looking to travel the Australian outback, you couldn’t pick a better time of year (August) – particularly after a good rain.

Next Stop: I return to the Solomon Islands in a week to finish off the national tourism authority’s On-Line Photo Library.

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Here’s a short preview of the shoot I just did in the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea.

It was the second of two up-market wilderness lodges I shot in back-to-back assignments for Trans Niugini Tours – the country’s premier tour operator.

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Here’s the link to the preview from their other wilderness lodge at Lake Murray in the Western Province:

WILDERNESS SHOOT IN PNG

Next Stop: Outback Western Australia (just three days after I get back) then it’s straight up to the Solomon Islands to finish off the national tourism authority’s On-Line Photo Library.

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Above: The view from my cosy bed at Rondon Ridge Lodge at sunrise –  7,000 ft above sea level, watching the clouds roll across the Waghi Valley in the Western Highlands of  PNG.

Snapped on my i-Phone 6 (…..’cause I wanted to savour the moment and I was too lazy to get out of my bed to grab my camera).

Next: A preview of Rondon Ridge Lodge.