"Galaxy pic"

“Galaxy pic”

One of my client’s has just postponed their shoot (joy) so I have a bit of time to practice a few new photography techniques.

So, last night, I jumped in the car and headed about 200 kilometres west of Brisbane to take advantage of the new moon which, I’m told, lends itself to those galaxy shots you see of the night sky (I’ve written about this before (http://www.kirklandphotosblog.com/travel-photography-tips/2015/07/tip-63-shooting-stars-in-the-night-sky/).

There was a lot of fluffing around with settings  and light sources. Again, what worked best for me was F2.8 with my 17-35mm lens, set at infinity, shot at 6400 iso for 15-20 seconds on a tripod). Then it’s a matter of mucking around with temperatures, colours and layers in post production to get something that’s pleasing to the eye (above). I’m looking forward to putting a person or a landscape feature in the foreground next time now I know what I’m doing. That said, it’s not a shot I’d promise my clients too willingly. You need the night of a new moon, absolutely no clouds and no ambient light just to get you into the game. And you need to position the most colourful part of the Milky Way low on the horizon if you want a wider perspective (how hard can it be to re-position a couple of billion stars).

I showed my partner this picture and she asked how I’d use it in tourism (rather than astronomy I guess). Can you imagine this night sky above an orange tent lit from the inside and a camper sitting at a campfire, set against a distinctive silhouette. Or a couple taking a selfie of themselves next to, say, The Pinnacles, in Western Australia.

Otherwise, I’m also casting my net further abroad, looking for interesting commissions, having whet my appetite working with the national tourism authorities of  Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and South Africa (I’ve included a few pics in the previews below which you can view if you click the destination).

Anyway, next stop is Western Australia’s Coral Coast for a follow-up assignment to the one I did last year. There’s talk of Whalesharks and Humpbacks again, a sail boat this time and, of course, the region’s stunning beaches. Understandably, I’m looking forward to it.

Saudi blog


Postscript: Saudi Arabia has just been in touch and they’re keen for a return visit………(Someone must have heard me praying under all those stars).

Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu have two of the most advanced On-Line Photo Libraries in the South Pacific.

Tourism authorities from both countries – the TPA and the VTO – have just upgraded to our latest software which provides a range of new features to assist them promote their destinations.

The libraries provide travel agents, media and industry operators with instant access to hundreds of high quality photographs – generating thousands of dollars worth of free publicity in a world hungry for quality photography.

Travel Magazine Editor: “We have a full page on page three to fill. Does anyone know where we can get a high quality photograph quickly?” Travel Wholesaler: “We need a great cover pic for our annual brochure on the South Pacific.” Journalist: “I’ve written a good yarn. Where can I get my hands on some good photographs to go with it?” Tour Operator: I wish I had some appealing photographs of the destination to promote my business on the new web site.”

The libraries (screenshots below), have been customised specifically to the needs of tourism authorities, offering upgraded security, password protected access, the ability to monitor image usage and users, and responsive screens (i.e. for viewing on computers, smart phones or pads). Each library is directly linked to the tourism authority’s web site. Advances in the software we have developed also allows the libraries to be completely managed by the tourism authorities themselves. Once built, we merely host them, using our expertise as photographers to provide technical support where needed to ensure the libraries meet the tourism authority’s on-going needs and that the quality of the photography used is of an international standard.

….Certainly, we’ve come a long way since the days when we used to scan images, burn them to a CD and send them in the mail.


library entrance

I’m just finishing up a hotel shoot in the Solomon Islands – the first of a double commission. I head to Samoa a bit later to photograph a new resort opening there in July.

Here’s  a short preview (below) of some of the pics from this assignment:

heritage blog top

heritage bottom



The swimming pool of a resort or a hotel tends to be its feature so you need to be looking to capture it in optimum conditions (I’m in the Solomon Islands where my attention has been drawn to the subject over the past few days).

As a photographer, my first priority is to capture the pool the minute I see it under a clear sky as I know – particularly in the South Pacific – it may never look like that again while I’m there (and, I can assure you, the weather gods never tire of showing what I can shoot, then stealing it). The shot may not be great but at least I have something “in the can”; as a resort shoot without a pool shot is never likely to cut the mustard…..(what does that actually mean??!!).

Then I look to improve on the shot by studying the pool and identifying its features, working out its most appealing angles, anticipating where any shadows might fall, considering wind and sun intensity to determine the best time of day, and isolating unsightly elements that might steal from the photograph (i.e those that can’t be photoshopped out). There’s also the hotel guest traffic to consider, the water clarity and, of course, the maintenance guy who’s always there doing his thing the moment you’re about to press the button.

All that worked out, my attention shifts to dressing the shot and conceiving an idea that will strengthen the photo (this recognises I’m not working with a creative director, a talent agency, a makeup artist or an assistant – oh the luxury).

An appealing body to drop into the picture is always a good start – ideally a couple. And their swimming costume needs to look the part. There’s props to be sourced (in this case, the last $15 air bed in the local shop and a watermelon), staff need to be corralled, a ladder might be handy and there’s the ubiquitous cocktail that needs to be constantly refreshed when the ice melts if you’re planning to do close-ups.

And all this needs to come together in what, invariably, comes down to just a single, half-hour slot when, hopefully, the cosmos aligns to deliver you the shot you deserve.

….. (Thankfully, on this occasion, it got pretty close).

Just half an hour was all we had before the wind picked up, the guests came in and the shadows crossed the pool.

Just half an hour was all we had before the wind picked up, the guests came in and the shadows crossed the pool.

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I’m still in the Solomon Islands finishing up a hotel shoot. I’ll post a preview shortly. In the meantime, I quite like the simplicity and the old South Pacific feel of this black and white one.