Category Archives: opinion

In search of monochrome…

Prior to switching to digital photography in 2002, I shot almost entirely in black and white. My film of choice was Kodak Tri-X and after experimenting with a few developers over the years, I settled on Rodinal. My favourite paper was Agfa, I loved the rich blacks and the contrast I could get from the Tri-X/Agfa combination.

In the early days of digital, I was captivated by the new world of colour I had had easy access to, plus my early attempts to create monochrome images pretty much stopped with desaturating the colour image; never really successful.

As I learned more about image processing in general and Photoshop in particular, I tried a few times to re-discover the magic Tri-X look, but I never managed to consistently produce images I was happy with. I wasn’t sure if this was because:

  • Digital didn’t produce good black and white images
  • I didn’t know enough about converting colour to black and white
  • I had been making colour images for so long I no longer ‘saw’ monochrome images
  • All of the above.

I have just had yet another day of trying to develop a workflow that will consistently produce results I can accept. This first image, Stobie pole, was processed using the Alien Skin Exposure Tri-X preset.

Stobie pole

The next image, Three trees, was made with the Nik Silver Efex plugin. Silver Efex doesn’t have a Tri-X preset, so I picked the nearest ‘look’ I could find for this image and that turned out to be the Ilford HP5 preset.

Three trees

Both images were then tweaked; extra contrast, some dodging and burning and other minor, darkroom-like changes.

I am still not entirely happy with the results, but I feel like I am making progress and learning more about how to change a full colour image into a monochrome one.

After that, must learn how to make good monochrome prints again.


Also posted in discussion, explanation

Melrakki by Joshua Holko

Melrakki is the Icelandic name for the Arctic Fox, the only mammal native to Iceland. Melrakki is also the latest project from renowned Melbourne photographer Joshua Holko.

Melrakki features a beautifully produced, limited edition book (I have number 5!), plus a superb print in an embossed folio cover.

Melrakki by Joshua Holko

Melrakki by Joshua Holko

The book features a foreword by Dr.Ester Rut Unnsteinsdottir of the Icelandic Institute of Natural History and extensive field notes by Joshua. Melrakki is the culmination of three winters of patient waiting to capture the magnificent images.

There are only 100 copies of this limited edition work, so if you want one, don’t mess about.

More information…

Also posted in art, collection, Iceland

Michael Reichmann remembered

Just recently I was saddened to read of the death of Canadian photographer Michael Reichmann. I had been a regular reader of Michael’s website, Luminous Landscape, practically since the beginning. LuLa became a daily must-read as I wondered about switching from film to digital photography. It was a daunting prospect, there seemed to be a huge amount of new techniques and information to master. And being a darkroom person, making prints was a must, so there was the whole other topic of inkjet printing.

At that time around 2000 – 2001, digital photography and printing were in their infancy and Luminous Landscape was one of the major forums for discussing this new technology and how to get the most out of it. A major debate raged: Will digital photography ever be as good as film.

In May 2002, Michael wrote in one of several reviews of the Canon D60 dSLR:

“35mm Photographers: If you’ve been waiting to make the move to digital but haven’t felt that the cost / quality / image size equation worked for you yet‚ well, I think the time has come…”

And with that, the decision was made. I purchased a Canon D60 from Michael’s Camera store in Melbourne shortly after and began the long process of learning digital photography and inkjet printing.

Michael excelled at giving other photographers space on his website. Through Luminous Landscape I ‘met’ other photographers who have helped me with advice or timely information or just entertained me through the years; Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer, master printer Ctein, Jeff Schewe and Melbourne photographer Joshua Holko. All have played a part in my development as a photographer and printer.

In March 2008 Michael visited Melbourne. I was privileged to meet him in person, shake his hand and thank him for all of the free information and advice he made available through Luminous Landscape.

Rest in peace Michael, you are one of the greats.

Also posted in influences, Photographers

Looking back

From time to time I go back through my store of images; looking for usable ones I missed the first time, or ones that I can extract more from due to new tools, more knowledge or just a different idea.

Recently I revisited images I took in the South Australian town of Marree during a trip in 2012.

At the time I was after a strong evening summer sun look, but wasn’t very happy with the colour in the shots. I have revisited them with new tools and some different techniques and managed to get them to be much closer to what I envisaged at the time.

Don’t forget to go back through your archives to find the hidden gems.


Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Also posted in art, changed thinking, discussion, explanation, Travel

A visit to Dubrovnik

It’s been a little while since I said anything here. During September I was traveling in Europe after attending a wedding in Poland, a great experience.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

The roofs of Dubrovnik from the wall

The trip included a week in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik. The old town and port have been restored and rebuilt after a umber of tribulations, most recently the 1991 siege following the breakup of Yugoslavia.

The old town is surrounded by a high wall which, for a price, can be walked. I can recommend that this is done early in the morning during the season, before it gets too hot and too crowded.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

The tiled roofs of Dubrovnik

Staying in the old town is an experience, though getting to my accommodation in this car-less city included a climb of 83 steps up the hill to the apartment between the St Ignatius church and the music school.

Sunset Dubrovnik Croatia

Evening in Dubrovnik,

The evenings were warm, just perfect for sitting in an open air cafe in a small square. I can highly recommend a visit.

This trip I traveled light, only taking the Olympus E-M5, the 12-40 f2.8 lens and the kit 40 – 150 zoom. It performed flawlessly the whole trip.


Also posted in Olympus, Travel

New Gallery

I have just added a new gallery of images to the Galleries menu. All of the images were taken at Jökulsárlón, the glacial lagoon, in the south of Iceland.


The lagoon sits between the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier and the sea. Chunks of ice collect in the lagoon and eventually make their way out to the sea, where wind and tide can wash them back on to the black sand and ash beach.

A lot of people take lovely images  of the ice lagoon with bright sunshine and clear blue skies. I however, have only seen rain, heavy overcast and drifting ash from the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull. This did make for some dramatic images.

This set of images may become my next exhibition.



The Challenge

On Facebook (a social media site) there is an on-going challenge. This involves being nominated to post five (one each day) black and white images and then nominate someone else.

I don’t usually involve myself in such things as I don’t like my photography being restricted by artificial constraints or by some proscribed ‘have to’ deal.

However, this time the request came from a highly respected photographer, Ragnar Steffanson. These are the images I chose. I didn’t nominate any other photographers because I didn’t know any that hadn’t already taken part.

Best Father’s Day…

When my son was 8 years old, we were looking through the For Sale ads in a car magazine. He spotted an ad for a black 1967 Mustang fastback. He said “That looks fantastic, we should buy it”.

We did.

For Father’s Day this year, my son, now 30, and I took it for a drive. I even let him drive it.

Live update

In a previous post I mentioned that I am auditioning an Olympus E-M5 micro four thirds mirrorless camera for a more important part in my photography. This has been based on weight as much as anything else. But the more I use the little E-M5 the more it impresses me.

One type of photography I like to do is long exposure, using neutral density filters to create movement over time, such as a waterfall or river.

I wasn’t sure if the E-M5 would be up to this, but I discovered a feature called live update. As the shutter is held open in manual bulb mode, the LCD screen on the rear of the 5 updates the image at user selectable intervals. You just watch your image develop.

I tried it out down at the remains of the old pier at Clifton Springs, near Geelong. It was an overcast, rainy day but I managed to get a break in the rain to try some images. Neither the camera nor I was bothered much by the rain, but rain drops on the ND filter show up nicely.

The only major drawback I have is trying to manually focus with the electronic viewfinder (EVF), neither my eyes nor its resolution are quite up to accurate focusing all the time.

Clifton Springs pierClifton Springs pierClifton Springs pierClifton Springs pierClifton Springs pier

Wandering around in manual mode

After toting a full frame camera plus lenses around a number of European cities while on holiday last year, I decided that something lighter and easier to carry might be the future of my travel photography.

After much reading and thinking and sorting out of ‘must haves’, I decided to test the quality and usability of micro 4/3. Not wishing to spend a large sum of money and then find out that the micro 4/3 system couldn’t deliver the image quality I needed to do large prints, I decided to go for the Olympus E-M5 and the kit lens.

Getting used to the electronic view finder and a complicated menu system has been a bit of a challenge, but so far, the Olympus has performed way above it’s price range. Considering the price difference between the E-M5 and my full-frame Canon plus L series glass, the Olympus is amazing. I have no trouble producing high quality A2 prints from the 16mp small sensor.

Setting the camera up to work the way I want it to has been a bit of a challenge but the other day I went for a wander around Williamstown (a suburb of Melbourne) with the E-M5 in full manual mode to see how easy it was to use. Surprisingly easy after I set up a couple of custom functions as it turned out.

The Olympus E-M5 is a lot of camera for the money.

Williamstown, Victoria, AustraliaWilliamstown, Victoria, AustraliaWilliamstown, Victoria, AustraliaWilliamstown, Victoria, AustraliaWilliamstown, Victoria, AustraliaWilliamstown, Victoria, Australia

Also posted in equipment, Olympus