Signed by Nature Studios: Blog en-us (C) Signed by Nature Studios (Signed by Nature Studios) Fri, 11 Feb 2022 21:42:00 GMT Fri, 11 Feb 2022 21:42:00 GMT Signed by Nature Studios: Blog 120 120 Through the Highland Wilds - North West Tasmania There aren't many better places in Australia to visit twice in the space of two months. With the covid pandemic postponing a previous planned trip, I took a second trip in late January up the east coast of Tasmania and then across to the highlands of Cradle Mountain. 

Cradle Mountain National Park was the highlight. A beautiful combination of mossy Pencil Pine and King Billy forests, peaks and lakes, it's a great location for landscape and nature photography. Sure, you have to work around the crowds and have to plan to put in some serious walking, but there are so many great, unexplored opportunities and locations to be had for photography.

I will be posting some of the images that I captured during the trip in the coming days. I hope you enjoy them.





]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) australia cradle landscape mountain nature photography tasmania wildlife Fri, 11 Feb 2022 21:41:45 GMT
Through the Southern Wilds: South West Tasmania Happy New Year folks.

I am back home after a seven day trip through southern Tasmania. This was my second trip to Australia's southern most state and this time I took in the south-west corner of the island, home to the beautiful and remote South-West National Park. Covering a vast expanse of wilderness, the south-west offers plenty of landscape and wildlife photographic opportunities. I certainly recommend it as a destination for those seeking solitude away from the crowds.

You can access the South West National Park from Hobart, travelling via road past the ever popular Mount Field National Park and Maydena. From Maydena onwards, you start hitting miles of ancient pine and myrtle forests, rolling button grass hillsides and rocky landscape before ending up in Strathgordon. Other than a wilderness lodge and a worker's camp for the nearby Gordon Dam, there isn't much going on in Strathgordon, so it's best you come fully prepared and ready to hike the surrounds. 

Mount Wedge

South-West National Park, Tasmania

8 seconds, f/16, ISO 100

I visited Strathgordon over the Christmas period during the height of the Australian summer. From this recent experience, here are a few tips that you can take away. Firstly, the days are long and bright, with the sun rising before 6am and then setting around 9pm. This means the optimal golden light window is small. I found the best time to capture landscape images was after sunset and in the subsequent 30-45 minutes of twilight. Dawn shoots weren't terribly productive as the area was almost always blanketed in cloud, but you can expect this change depending on the weather and season. Outside of these windows, I packed the camera away and went on a few hikes and explored new locations for those evening and dawn shoots. My second tip is to pack light but pack right. One camera, a tripod and a wide angle and a standard length zoom lens is sufficient. If you have neutral density and graduated neutral density filters, make sure you pack these. Finally and most importantly, be prepared to be creative with your compositions. You will be surrounded by magnificent views but capturing this vastness within the confines of a frame will be challenging. While there are many beautiful peaks, the peaks don't dominate any particular area like some locations you may find in New Zealand and elsewhere. So be prepared to be creative with your compositions by making use of strong foreground subjects and leading and/or angular lines where you can find them.


Lake Pedder from Strathgordon

South-West National Park, Tasmania

4 seconds, f/18, ISO 100 


In summary, the South-West National Park is certainly worth a visit and a landscape photographers dream. At the peak of the Christmas season, it was free of all the tourists and travelers who typically flock to the more accessible locations. I found it to be a great place to enjoy a quiet experience in the wilderness and focus on the core elements of what makes landscape and wildlife photography so addictive.

If you want any further advice or tips on how to get the most out of a trip to this region, please feel free to get in touch.








]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) australia landscape national park photography south-west tasmania travel wilderness wildlife Mon, 03 Jan 2022 09:40:34 GMT
Happy Holidays This will likely be my last update for 2021. Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support over the course of 2021. It's been another mixed year with plenty of ups and downs for everyone.

Have a good break and here's to a better 2022.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2021 by christmas happy nature new photography signed studios update year Thu, 23 Dec 2021 21:57:45 GMT
First impressions: Canon's EF 11-24mm f/4.0L USM lens I first tried Canon's EF 11-24mm f/4.0L USM lens at the MotoGP a few years ago. Since then, I have been keeping an eye out for one at a reasonable price on the second hand market. Fast forward a few years and I have finally managed to find one. I took it out over the weekend on a shoot in Lamington National Park and these are some first impressions.

First up, this is a heavy lens and the front glass elements sticks out like a sore thumb. The bulbous front element is also not compatible with front filters, so I had to get myself a set of Kase slide in rear mounted neutral density filters to suit my landscape work. Not ideal when you have already invested in a sizeable collection of filters.

Out in the field, the lens produces some truly unique images. At 11mm, it provides a near 180 degree field of view (it is probably a bit less but it feels like it draws in the world in front of you). With this, you have to be careful and watch what you catch in the corners of your images or else it can be distracting the composition. The lens is also a little soft in the corners in terms of sharpness and it has a slight fisheye effect, but I find this aids in drawing the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. If you work in damp conditions, especially a rainforest, just be careful to ensure you don't catch any moisture on the front element, as this will ruin the image focal or light flare. Autofocusing is reasonably fast for a lens of this type but just be careful in selecting your focal points. 

All in all, I am very happy with the lens. It lets you capture those shots which are impossible with other standard or wide angle lenses. It's a fantastic addition to the kitbag if you shoot landscapes, architecture or sports. Just be aware, its big, expensive and until an RF equivalent is released, increasingly hard to find on the used market.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 11-24mm angle australia canon first impressions lamington landscape landscapes lens national park photography queensland review wide Wed, 24 Nov 2021 09:54:19 GMT
Closure of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography It's a bit of a sad day today with the Australian Institute of Professional Photography announcing that it will be shutting its doors for good. After 75 years representing professional photographers in Australia, the AIPP places the blame for its closure on the ongoing effects of COVID19.

I have been an accredited member since 2011. While we can only reminiscence about what could have been, I can't but help draw a parallel between this and wider trends which have seen the commoditization of many trades and skills. The AIPP itself is also hardly without blame, as it could have done a lot more to keep up with wider trends and the needs of its members.

I won't be giving up any time soon, but I can't but help feel that I have lost a little bit of what distinguishes a professional from the masses.  

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) aipp associations australia australian closure institute of photography professional Thu, 11 Nov 2021 10:17:03 GMT
Tropical North Queensland After a another long COVID hiatus, it was good to get back on the road again and take a trip to tropical North Queensland. I spent three days in Cairns and another five days in the surrounds of Port Douglas. Although it was still the tail end of the dry season, the region around Cairns and Port Douglas is stunningly beautiful. I would love to see it again after some rain.

I am now in the process of editing and finalizing the images that I took. A series of these will start appearing across my Instagram and Facebook pages in the coming days. Limited edition prints, and some new panoramas, will also start making their appearance on this website.

I hope you enjoy them!

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2021 australia landscape north photography queensland travel tropical Tue, 02 Nov 2021 21:24:41 GMT
AIPP Silver Linings Awards - Finalists Announced The finalist for this year's AIPP Silver Linings Awards have been announced. Be sure to head over to this site to view the finalists and top 25 images in each category.

Silver Lining Awards - Australian Institute of Professional Photography Awards (

It's always good to participate in an event with such a strong pool of talent and worthy winners. Well done to all who participated.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2021 AIPP Australia awards competitions lining photography silver Sat, 17 Apr 2021 05:37:46 GMT
The arrival of 2021 I won't be alone in saying that I am glad 2020 is behind us. But let's keep things in perspective, it was nowhere near as bad as it would have been in 1939 or such similar period in history.

Let's hope the human race takes stock and learns from our lessons this year. Mother nature delivered a stark warning to everyone, first a fire that consumed most of the eastern seaboard of Australia and next a pandemic that forced the world to stop. Neither of these events came about by chance. We were the cause. We need to stop relentlessly clearing land. We need to stop pumping greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. We need to stop plundering our forests and oceans. We only have one home. There is nowhere else to go.





]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2021 conservation message nature new photography wildlife year Fri, 01 Jan 2021 00:11:06 GMT
Tasmania I returned a few days ago from my first and only photographic trip of 2020. What was originally meant to be a 10 day trip around the island of Tasmania was cut short by a few days due to illness. I did however manage to capture a few new and spectacular shots of the forests and world heritage sites spanning the western coast of the island.

I will be uploading these new images over the weekend, so enjoy!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) australia australian coast forests landscape photography Tasmania west Sat, 12 Dec 2020 02:14:55 GMT
2020 - A year that was 2020 is not going to be a memorable year for many by any stretch of the imagination. I can't say I'll be looking back with many fond memories. With most events cancelled and travelled restricted, I had to focus my photography on things much closer to home. But thankfully, the world keeps going and I'm hopeful that 2020 will mark a year of change and better things to come, especially for this fragile planet.

So here is to a better 2021 and more things to come. Stay tuned for more updates.




]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2020 by nature photography signed studios update Mon, 09 Nov 2020 10:18:14 GMT
New images added to galleries You will see a series of new images from my recent trip starting to appear across my galleries. Enjoy! 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) africa african announcement gallery images nature new wildlife Sun, 15 Dec 2019 00:52:10 GMT
On the road again.... Hi Folks, 

I'll be hitting the road again shortly. This time its back to Africa. I'll be out of touch for a few weeks but I hope to bring you plenty of new content across my pages once I get back.

Until then, happy shooting.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) africa by nature of office out photography signed studios wildlife Sun, 20 Oct 2019 10:50:18 GMT
2019 AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards My print case is in and the judging schedule is out. Let's see what the 2019 AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards bring! Good luck to all the entrants.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) accredited AIPP appa awards competition member photography professional Sat, 03 Aug 2019 10:22:27 GMT
Queensland AIPP Professional Photography Awards Well done to the organisers and participants for this year's Queensland AIPP Professional Photography Awards. There were some fantastic entries and some very deserving images that just missed out on receiving an award. I look forward to seeing who the individual category winners will be.

Now bring on the Australian AIPP Professional Photography Awards!

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) aipp australian awards institute of photography professional queensland Sun, 02 Jun 2019 08:57:10 GMT
Easter Road Trip to Outback Queensland I'm back after a very quick Easter road trip to outback Queensland here in Australia. The birds were down a bit this year, most likely due to the severe drought gripping much of the south western corner of the state. But all in all, it was a fantastic few days on the road. 

Some new photos will be coming, so please remember to check out my Facebook and Instagram feeds. 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) australian bird birds by nature outback photography road signed studios summary trip wildlife Mon, 22 Apr 2019 11:57:19 GMT
Outback Queensland It's been a quite couple of weeks but I'll shortly be heading off to outback Queensland. On the cards are Australia's beautiful outback birds. 



Happy Easter everyone!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Australia australian bird birds cameras canon nature outback photography Queensland wildlife Sun, 14 Apr 2019 08:28:25 GMT
Twelve Days Across New Zealand: Part Two This is the second and final entry in a two part series providing an overview of my recent photographic trip across New Zealand's South Island. After finishing off at Wanaka, this second part continues the journey from Te Anau.

Day Five to Eight – Te Anau and Milford Sound

From Wanaka I headed south to Te Anau through Queenstown and past Kingston. The objective of staying in Te Anau was easy access to the world famous Fiordland Highway leading to Milford Sound. 

It takes roughly 30-40 minutes of driving from Te Anau to access the stunning Fiordland National Park. From pristine forests to deep valleys to mischievous Kea Parrots, the park has a thousand photographic opportunities.

The Fiordland National Park has over a million visitors a year.  So be prepared for the fact that it’s popular and at time crowded. To overcome the crowds, I started my days relatively late, only leaving Te Anua at around 10 o'clock. This timing meant most tourist buses had already travelled up the highway and were at the entrance to Milford Sound by the time I passed through the park entrance. By 5 o'clock most of the day were heading home or back to their accommodation save for those that had permits to stay inside the park. This meant at golden hour, I could quite easily have large stretches of the park to myself. 

Walking away with a unique image from inside in the park is challenging despite the beautiful landscape in every direction. The high peaks stay fully lit in bright sunshine until the last moments before sunset while the valleys remain in deep shadow. Graduated neutral density filters were able to help with this, but not always.  To work around this lighting challenge, look for areas with consistent lighting and contrast. If you get an overcast day, that’s a bonus, so make the most of it. Find and isolate a strong foreground. You want simplicity in the frame, not clutter from every angle. If you are featuring water in the frame, such as stream or river, use a circular polariser to cut the glare and add a bit of punch to the sky and foliage. If a river or stream features, use it as a leading line to draw the viewer through the image frame. Again, don’t always photograph from where you can stop the car. Be prepared to walk to find a good location. I found several unique and accessible locations this way.

Fiordland National Park

Canon 5Ds, 200mm, 2 seconds, f/18, ISO 100

No special tricks with this image. I just applied a Lee 0.6 graduated neutral density filter to the top half of the image to bring the mountains back two stops.

If you want a chance to capture New Zealand’s most mischievous parrot, the entrance to the Homer Tunnel is where you stand the best chance of finding them. I lugged a 500mm prime lens to New Zealand especially for this. To photograph Keas, simply be patient and the right moment will present itself. In between pulling windscreen wipers off of cars and destroying door seals, they will often sit in groups of two or three on the rocks around the entrance to the tunnel. Approach the Kea’s slowly and you will manage to get a good frame. Keep a clear and natural background and avoid the manmade clutter which appears around the tunnel entrance and the parking lot. If you can’t get close enough, don’t harass them. The Keas will eventually come back.

Kea Parrot

Canon 1Dx Mark II, 500mm, 1/200, f/8, ISO 800

With a bit of patience, Keas are brilliant to photograph. The trick is to isolate the birds and keep the background clutter free. Make sure you press the shutter when a catch light is visible in the eyes, as this brings life to the  animal and the image. 

I spent three days travelling in and out of Te Anau along the Fiordland highway. This left plenty of time for scouting on the first day following by planned shoots on days two and three. Give yourself enough time, as the Fiordland National Park rightly deserves it place as one of the world’s most stunning and pristine roads. If offers  every conceivable opportunity for the landscape and wildlife photographer.

Day Eight to Eleven – Stewart Island to the Catlins

From Te Anua it was south again to Invercargill and then the port town of Bluff to catch a ferry over to Steward Island. Steward Island is 45 minutes by ferry from the southern tip of the South Island. With just one town and 85 per cent of the island consisting of the Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island is a magnificent and largely unspoilt wilderness area. It offers up stunning scenery and some of the word’s most unique birdlife. 

Everything on Stewart Island occurs in the one and only town, Oban. To go anywhere, you need to walk or catch a water taxi. So I recommend that you pack your photo gear appropriately as you are going to need to some serious hiking. I lugged one DSLR body and two lenses around the island; my 500mm f/4 super telephoto prime lens and a 16-35mm f/4 for wider landscape images and a deck of Lee neutral density filters. Add your water and a tripod and the basics for a day worth of hiking and your load starts to add up. So get rid of everything but the bare essentials.

Bird photography on Stewart Island is tricky. Everything is heavily forested and this presents challenge is terms of lighting and clutter on the forest floor. A fill flash can be used to fill in the shadows but this can present a relatively flat, lifeless image. I lugged a 500mm prime lens around to capture to birds, but if I were to repeat the exercise, a smaller 100-400 zoom lens or similar would have been more manageable. I would also suggest giving yourself a little bit more time on the island. I only had three nights on the island and this is probably a bit short in terms of allowing ufficient time for bird photography.

Outside of bird and wildlife photography, Stewart Island is a pristine environment for coastal and landscape photography. With broad sandy beaches emerging from lush forest, there are plenty of opportunities for scenic environmental shots. Throw in variable weather and you can have some interesting combinations. The only challenge is that you need to plan your locations carefully. To be at the best locations during the golden hour, you either have to walk several kilometres from Oban or catch a water taxi (and often these aren’t available for the hours that photographers tend to keep). I spent my nights trudging back to Oban in the dark. 

Rakiura National Park, Stewart Island

Canon 5Ds, 16mm, 2 seconds, f/18, ISO 100

Dull, overcast days are no excuse to put away the camera. There are still images to be had. In this image, I tried to keep some movement in the waves breaking across the beach and receding between the rocks by keeping the shutter speed at a relatively quick 2 seconds.

Stewart Island is stunning, if just for the sheer wilderness experience alone. I only got to experience five per cent of the island, but the island and the Rakiura National Park stand as a worthy testament to what can be done to preserve and sustain the earth’s natural heritage. Let's just hope it stays that way.

Day Eleven to Twelve – The Catlins to Christchurch

After a very rough ferry ride back over to Bluff it was then on to Papatowai in the south eastern Catlins region of New Zealand. The Catlins is best characterised as a mix of rolling farmland, forest and rugged coastline. Along the windswept beaches, you will easily encounter fur seals and sea lions.  I wish I left more time for travelling through the Catlins. Despite this, over the space of two days, I still managed to visit Waipapa Point, Parakaunui Falls, McClean Falls and Nugget Point.

The first stop was Waipapa Point and the historic lighthouse which was built following a shipwreck in 1881. Standing forlornly among windswept tussock grass, the historic lighthouse makes for a pretty picture. The trick is to find the right angle that isolates a few key elements in the image frame and avoids the masses of tourists and the ugly footpaths which have been carved or worn into ground around it.  Admittedly, I only had a couple of hours to spend at Waipapa Point, all while the sun was still high in the sky, but it would be an ideal location for a sunset or nightscape shoot.

Waipapa Point Lighthouse

Canon 5Ds, 16mm, 1/15, f/18, ISO 100

At Waipapa Point, I wanted to try something different and capture a new perspective. The gale force winds added motion blur to the grass and help build the foreground leading to the lighthouse in the distance. 

Moving closer to Papatowai, there are a number of short forest walks and waterfalls which can make for dreamy images. The most accessible are McLean Falls and Purakaunui Falls both are which are accessible over well -formed tracks less than 20 minutes walk from the parking lot.

Purakaunui Falls is the most scenic of the two falls and the easiest to photograph as the three tiered falls are presented within a relatively small, natural amphitheatre within the forest. McLean Falls is much taller, cascading down multiple tiers through the forest. I shot both falls relatively conventionally adding just a three stop neutral density filter and a circular polariser. The three stop neutral density filter was used to slow the water while the circular polariser was added to make the foliage pop. When it started raining around McLean Falls, I was able to use just the circular polariser.

For waterfalls, I recommend retaining a little bit of movement in the water, so try not to let your shutter speed drop below two seconds, otherwise you get relatively flat, white ribbons streaking through the frame. In a heavily forested area, the best time to shoot is during the golden hour or during an overcast or rainy day. This provides relatively flat lighting which removes the strong contrast caused by sunshine filtering down through the dense canopy. If the rain falls, do not be deterred and keep shooting, as the causes everything in the forest to glisten and sparkle.

Purakaunui Falls

Canon 5Ds, 16mm, 0.4 seconds, f/18, ISO 400

Don't be afraid to boost your ISO in an effort to keep your shutter speed below 2 seconds when photographing flowing water. This helps retain movement in the water and reduces motion blur when the wind inevitably makes the foliage move.  To make the foliage pop and cut the glare off the water, I applied a Lee Circular Polariser. 

The last location was Nugget Point. With a narrow path leading along a cliff face to lighthouse perched high above a roaring coastline, Nugget Point is draw dropping. With the leading lines created by the clifftop walkway leading to the lighthouse, it is very easy to walk away with good images. I wasn’t fortunate to have a stunning sunset but what I did have a clear overcast day which lit the landscape evenly and helped create a moody atmosphere.  

Nugget Point

Canon 5Ds, 16mm, 120 seconds, f/18, ISO 100
I wanted to convey how variable and bleak the weather can be a Nugget Point. To do this, I applied a Lee 10 stop neutral density filter in front of the lens. This helped the clouds streak while also removing the people walking along the footpath. To add a bit of drama, I finished the image by converting to black and white. The footpath naturally draws the viewers eye through the frame and to the lighthouse in the distance.

Nugget Point is where you can try out a variety of different shots. For my images, I used a Lee six and ten stop neutral density filter to help remove the people walking along the pathway and flatten the ocean. These were then stacked with 2 stop graduated neutral density filter to darken the sky and the bright areas in the clouds.  I recommend giving yourself a couple of hours around the lighthouse to choose and compose your images, as the weather constantly changes. What started at as a relatively clear but overcast day changed to ominous rain clouds back and then back to patchy clouds followed by bursts of sunshine. The best part, is that while you wait for the weather change, you can look down on the sea lions and myriad of seabirds which occupy the cliffs around Nugget Point.

Day Twelve to Thirteen – Christchurch to Brisbane

From Papatowai, it was time to head back to Christchurch and then home to Brisbane. My plan for another early morning shoot along Nugget Point was stalled by pouring rain but I did manage to squeeze in one last session at McLean Falls between the showers. The best part about rain falling is that it ensured that I had the entire falls to myself.

All in all, I travelled approximately 3500 kilometres across the South Island. In my mind, it has to be one of the world’s top landscape and wildlife photography destinations. From rugged mountains with snow-capped peaks to lush rainforests to jagged coastline, New Zealand is ecologically fascinating. The only downside is that this beauty is attracting millions of tourists each year. How New Zealand will manage to sustain this remains to be seen.

As a photographer, I suggest doing your bit by ensuring that you leave nothing but your footprints and take nothing but memories. Stay on the marked paths and be aware of how your actions can impact the fragility of the stunning landscape and environment which surrounds you. Make sure its stays the way it is for other generations.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) best Canon Island landscape locations New photography south summary travel trip wildlife Zealand Mon, 18 Feb 2019 09:25:50 GMT
Twelve Days Across New Zealand: Part One February has arrived and I have yet to post an update on my December trip across New Zealand’s South Island. So, probably about time that I wrote something.

New Zealand is a fantastic country and a landscape and wildlife photographer’s dream. It is a microcosm of the world, all crammed into a series of islands set in the southern oceans of the South Pacific. So here’s a quick two part overview of twelve days across New Zealand’s South Island from a photographer’s perspective.

Day One to Two – Lake Tekapo

My first stop in New Zealand was the shortest and spent at Lake Tekapo. Surrounded by mountains and set against a beautiful backdrop of a turquois lake, Tekapo is now famous for one man made landmark above any other, the Church of the Good Shepard.  Busloads of tourists arrive each day to take a picture within its grounds. Sadly, it seems the eager crowds have prompted the need to construct a fence around the church. My arrival was smack bang in the middle of the construction. High visibility fencing and construction equipment surrounding the church on all sides. Not quite what I imagined.


Canon 5Ds, 16mm, 1.6 secs, f/18, ISO 100 with a Lee Pro IR 3 stop neutral density filter.


 I attempted two separate shoots of the church, one in the evening and then another at first light. The evening shoot was in bad weather and rain. The morning shoot produced clear skies and beautiful lighting. My approach was fairly conventional and I relied on a combination of my 16-35mm f/4.0 lens combined with graduated neutral density filters and a circular polarizer to make the sky pop. The major disappointment is that the fence now prevents you from accessing the grounds of the church outside of opening hours, so I spent the morning sitting on the perimeter trying to find a position free of the construction equipment. From 9am the church grounds open and you can roam around, but this is well outside the golden hour in the New Zealand summer. It seems social media has brought a little bit too much fame to the Church of the Good Shephard.

Day Two to Four – Wanaka (and ‘That Tree’)

The second leg of my journey saw me travel from Lake Tekapo to Wanaka. Like Tekapo, Wanaka is set in a valley against a backdrop of mountains and the equally scenic Lake Wanaka. Wanaka is a popular and growing, but fortunately it didn’t feel too busy. From a photographer’s point of view, there is plenty shoot in its vicinity. If you are feeling lazy, just follow the city’s list of the most photogenic locations. For the creatives, lace up the shoes and start exploring.

My recommendation is a trip up what must be one of the world's most scenic highways, the Haast Highway leading the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Twenty minutes out of Wanaka on the Haast Highway you’ll find it hard not to want to pull the car over every 5 minutes. To get the most of the landscapes on offer, make sure you explore, don’t just stop the car and shoot from the roadside.

One of the many falls off the Haast Highway.

Canon 5Ds, 200mm, 90 secs, f/18, ISO 100 with a Lee 10 stop neutral density filter and a circular polariser.


The landscape surrounding the Haast Highway is stunning. The challenge is to convert that beauty into the confines of a single frame (or a panorama stitch). This is where you have to simplify, build your composition and make use of the different colour palettes of the landscape. You will encounter streams, mountain vistas, rural farmland and ancient forest. To get the most out of it allow two or three days if you plan on travelling back and forth from Wanaka. During summer, New Zealand’s days are long, with the sun rising early and not setting until 10pm. So use the middle of day to scout locations and come back to them during the golden hour. If not, you will struggle to control the contrast, particular during New Zealand long, bright summer days. I thoroughly enjoyed the highway and  yet I only got to see a small portion of it. I would love to go back and travel further up the remote west coast.

Let’s admit it, no photographer can go to Wanaka without visiting ‘That Tree’. Set against a stunning mountain backdrop, the solitary Wanaka Tree has to be one of the most photographed trees in the world. On two separate shoots, I had no less than half dozen photographers set up around me, everyone vying for the perfect shot of Wanaka’s most famous natural landmark. 


That Tree

Canon 5Ds, 200mm, 20 secs, f/9.0, ISO 100 with a Lee 6 stop neutral density filter


Capturing a decent image of the Wanaka tree is very easy, providing you balance your light and composition. For my shoot, I used a combination of a Lee six stop neutral density filter and a circular polariser. Once it got a bit darker, I swapped the six stop for a three stop neutral density filter. To bring the clouds and bright sky down in the morning shoot, I added 0.9 graduated neutral density filter. Everyone seems to have an image of the Wanaka Tree, and now I have mine, but I can’t say I was disappointed by the experience, if a little bemused by the crowds (but lets face it, I was one of them).

So that’s a quick overview of the first leg. Stay tuned for part two …

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) canon for in island landscape locations new photographing photography review south tekapo top travel tree wanaka zealand Tue, 05 Feb 2019 09:44:53 GMT
New Zealand Trip I'm back from New Zealand. After a fantastic ten days travelling around the South Island, I have a selection of new images to add to the gallery. Bear with me as I get them uploaded.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) island new photography south travel zealand Sat, 05 Jan 2019 21:54:11 GMT
Happy Holidays! I will have to leave an early holiday message, as I'll be off to New Zealand for a few weeks. Thank you to everyone for your support over the year. I really appreciate it and I look forward to bringing you more great images in 2019.

Have a restful holiday season and a fantastic new year. See you in 2019!

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2018 2019 christmas happy holiday merry message Thu, 20 Dec 2018 04:30:00 GMT
MotoGP: Phillip Island I have posted some photos of the Australian round of the MotoGP championship at Phillip Island. You can find the album under the 'Featured Galleries' tab. Despite the championship being decided the week before, it was a great weekend.

Enjoy the photos. If you are looking for a particular rider or team, just let me know and I will post some additional photos. 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2018 Australian GP grand Island Moto MotoGP motorcycle motorsport Phillip prix racing sport Wed, 07 Nov 2018 11:06:46 GMT
MotoGP I'll be out of town for a few days to cover the Australian round of the MotoGP world championship. Marc Marquez has already wrapped up the championship but Phillip Island always produces brilliant racing.

Let's hope the weather holds out and brings the lovely spring lighting over the island. Catch you in the few days. 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2018 Australia Island MotoGP Phillip photography racing sports Wed, 24 Oct 2018 10:03:02 GMT
Wildlife Photography with the Canon 5DS A few weeks ago I posted a brief hands on review of the Canon 5DS. Since that review, I have been able to test my 5DS a bit more and see how it fares when used to photograph wildlife.

All up, the 5DS is a fantastic camera for wildlife photography. With a 50.6 megapixel sensor, it produces stunning 73cm native format images. This is brilliant for texture and detail in bird and mammal portraits. Combine this with a prime lens and the sharpness and clarity are stunning.

Working with a medium format image, you also grant yourself a fair degree of leeway in being able to crop while preserving detail. This is something which bird photographers will love. Ergonomically, the 5DS is a pleasure to hold for long periods and it's got the simple, yet effective user interface we have come to expect from Canon. There are also a number of nifty features which my older 5D Mark II doesn't have, the most useful of these being the easy access double exposure and HDR setting buttons and the in built gyro which provides an electronic level on both the display screen and in the viewfinder.

Canon 5DS w/500mm f/4.0L IS USM II Lens

1/640, f/5.6, ISO 400

There are some small trade offs. The 5DS is not a 'fast' camera. You will get a maximum of five frames per second in burst mode. Shooting at the maximum rate, you will need to ensure you have a very fast memory card, as each RAW image is approximately 52 megabytes. The focusing system is good, particularly when matched with the latest Canon prime lenses, but it's not on par with my 1Dx. Fast moving birds test the focusing limits of the camera. I haven't used my 5DS in low light to shoot wildlife yet, but looking at the results at ISO 400, I wouldn't want to push the ISO into the upper limits.

Canon 5DS w/500mm f/4.0L IS USM II Lens

1/1250, f/6.3, ISO 400


My Canon 5D Mark II has been an ever reliable camera. It's also a little unfair to compare it against the 5DS, which is several generations ahead and sits in the medium format category. But Canon have taken the best of the 5D Mark II and produced a stunning and versatile camera in the 5DS. It's the best of both the new and the old. I love what it offers for wildlife photographers. 

My 5D Mark II will stay in my kitbag but the 5DS is brilliant. Sure, digital photography is moving to mirrorless systems, but the trusty DSLR is not dead yet.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 5ds camera Canon equipment gear hands on photography review wildlife Sun, 30 Sep 2018 01:42:23 GMT
Canon 5DS: Hands On After many happy years, I have upgraded my Canon 5D Mark II for a Canon 5DS. Last weekend was my first chance to get out and the new 5DS. I had planned a few more shoot but bad weather intervened.

So what's it like? Layout wise, it's much the same as my 5D Mark II, except with some updates to the controls and display (similar to my 1Dx). It also feels solid and comfortable in the hands, as one would expect from a high end Canon DSLR. To test it, I headed out to Shorncliffe Pier with a stack of Lee neutral density filters and a Canon 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM lens.

I shot around 30 frames. Most of the frames were long exposures taken from a tripod while a few were handheld. Having processed and printed those images, I am impressed. The 50.6 megapixel sensor just draws in detail, enabling you to produce beautiful prints. The downside is all that detail requires your focus to be spot on. First impressions are that if you miss the correct focal point by even a tiny fraction, you will know about it in the final frame.

60 seconds, f/18, ISO 100

Taken in combination with a 3 stop neutral density filter and a 0.6 soft graduated neutral density filter. 

I look forward to getting out some more with this camera. It is the cheaper version when compared to the 5DSr, lacking a low pass optical filter, but so far, I am not disappointed (nor can I tell where that low filter would come into play). It feels great in the hands and produces beautiful results. With all the talk of mirrorless camera systems, some would call the 5DS old technology, but it reality, it's still a camera and it can still produce the same if not better results as the latest mirrorless systems.

65 seconds, f/18, ISO 100

In combination with a Lee Big Stopper neutral density filter.

So who would want a 5DS? This camera is targeted at high end portrait shooters and discerning landscape artists. It doesn't have the same high end ISO performance as my 1Dx, but I am keen to test it out during a wildlife shoot, as I'd love to get detailed portraits of birds and mammals.

On a final note, if you are thinking about upgrading to medium format camera like the 5DS, start thinking seriously about printing your images. It would be waste to have a camera like this and to not print. More to come!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 5DS camera canon exposures Filters format landscape Lee long medium photography review Fri, 31 Aug 2018 21:45:31 GMT
Photographing the Secret World of Birds Bird photography is one of the most accessible and rewarding forms of wildlife photography. At the same time is also immensely challenging. Here are five tips to help you along your journey (I am going to assume that you already have the gear and know the basic principles of photography):

1.       Understand and use your sources of light effectively


This goes with all forms of photography, but for bird photography, understanding how to work with natural light is critical. Chase good light and work with the light in the early morning and or the late afternoon, when it is softer and more diffuse. Use front lighting when you can but try to experiment with side lighting to enhance textures in feathers. Use backlighting to create more dramatic visuals and rim lighting around features such as bill and feathers.


2.       Remove all the clutter


Simplify for visual impact and remove clutter which doesn’t add to the image. As a rule of thumb, two to three interesting things in the frame is a good baseline.


By stripping away all the unnecessary elements, you can create greater visual impact. This Brown Snake Eagle in isolation is a good example.


3.       Work with visual lines


The best bird images draw the viewer into and through the frame. Work out how to use leading lines and diagonals to build impact. Position yourself carefully in relation to perches, branches and natural features to ensure that these form interest components to the image.


The diagonal line of the perch creates interest in what would otherwise be a fairly plain front lit portrait of this Pearl Spotted Owl.


4.       Don’t be lazy and rely on cropping

If you are cropping more than 60 per cent of your image, you need to get closer or reassess how you are composing your image. Birds are difficult to approach, so consider using hides and blinds near good locations. There are a range of commercially made nets and portable hides available on the market. Anticipation and preparation is critical as birds seldom give you a second chance.

When you crop experiment with different aspect ratios to create variations in the visual balance. The 16:9 and 5:7 cropping ratios work well but there is no hard and fast rule .

5.       Understand birds and their behaviour

You are not going to capture award winning images with just a basic understanding of bird behaviour. Spend time studying and watching bird behaviour without a camera. Find out where species are distributed, what they feed on and when they breed. You don’t need to be an expert ornithologist, but a good understanding and appreciation of bird behaviour is vital to bird photography.


This Double Collared Sunbird was captured by setting a hide close to the flowers it was feeding on. With a bit patience it returned several times to the same flower without being disturbed.

When you head out to photograph birds, photograph for yourself. Don’t mimic the style of others or try and try to appease a particular audience. With time, you will be able to forge your own unique style and in turn build a dedicated audience. Most importantly, enjoy yourself. Birds are fascinating creatures and we can play a critical role as both photographers and conservationists in helping to preserve the legacy of birds for future generations.





]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) africa australia bird blog essay guide nature photography tips tricks wildlife Sat, 16 Jun 2018 23:56:47 GMT
Lee Pro IRND Filters I'm a big fan of Lee neutral density filters. The only downside has been their tendency to add a blue or cooling hue to images. Recently, Lee released the ProGlass IRND range, promising the cooling effect.

So before heading up to the Noosa National Park last weekend, I picked up a ProGlass 3 stop neutral density filter to test out Lee's claim. The weather wasn't great, but I managed to get a few shots in. I can safely say, the ProGlass range is a fantastic improvement over the standard neutral density filters. There is very little colour distortion across the spectrum. The image below  was shot on my trusty 5D Mark II was coupled with a 16-35mm f/4.0L IS USM lens. The settings were 1 second at f/18 with the ISO set to 100.

Having only tested the three stop neutral density filter, I would love to try out the rest of the range. Don't get me wrong. The standard Lee Filters are great and will remain a valuable part of my kit for years to come. For anyone wanting to invest in a set of neutral density filters, the Lee ProGlass IR ND range is a new benchmark.







]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 3 density filters glass irnd lee neutral photography pro proglass review stop three Sun, 27 May 2018 10:14:56 GMT
Brookfield Show I had a nice surprise tonight. I was awarded Grand Champion for the Brookfield Show in the nature category. While its only a local show, it's still great to see your entries on a display along with others. From capture to print, that's what makes photography. 

Well done to everyone who entered.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2018 brookfield competition nature photography show wildlife Thu, 17 May 2018 10:54:07 GMT
Trip to Outback Queensland I returned yesterday from a four day trip to Cannumulla. Cannumulla lies 800km west of Brisbane and at what is the start of 'outback' Queensland.It was baking hot and the flies were terrible but the birdlife was sensational. I ticked off so many new sightings and species and managed to capture some great images. 

If you haven't done it before, head west and see what you can find. You'll be in for a surprise.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) australia australian birds cannumulla destination outback photography travel wildlife Tue, 03 Apr 2018 10:24:15 GMT
World Superbikes I had a great weekend covering the first round of the FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island. It was good to catch up with many of my Australian colleagues and the shooting conditions were just right for most of the weekend. For those interested, I will make a selection of my images available across my social media accounts over the next few days.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2018 australia championship coverage fim island phillip photography press racing sport superbike world Tue, 27 Feb 2018 10:32:31 GMT
Superbike World Championship - Friday Phillip Island The first day of the 2018 Superbike World championship season was an eventful one. The weather created variable track conditions throughout the day. Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) was fastest overall during the two practice sessions followed by Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda) and teammate Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia).

Lets see what race day holds.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2018 championship fim island motorsports phillip racing speed sport superbike world Fri, 23 Feb 2018 21:47:47 GMT
Superbike World Championship - Phillip Island Next weekend I will be travelling down to Phillip Island to cover the first round of the Superbike World Championship. I am looking forward to finding out what the 2018 season has on offer for the different riders and manufacturers.




]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) australia island motorcycle phillip racing superbikes world Sat, 17 Feb 2018 21:38:32 GMT
In Review: David DuChemin's The Visual Toolbox On my end of year reading list was David DuChemin’s The Visual Toolbox: 60 Lessons for Stronger Photographs. I have one of David’s other books and this one looked appealing when I first picked it up. Truth be told, the real reason I bought a copy is that we could all do with a little bit of a reality check as photographers from time to time.

It’s a fantastic read and I suggest you order yourself a copy. DuChemin offers up 60 simple lessons in the book that challenge you to make better photographs (not take better photographs). In an era where everyone has a camera and a blog (including this author), there is always lots of advice to be found, but seldom is there advice which bridges the distinction between the technique and the craft of photography. In the book, Duchemin bridges this gap and speaks primarily about the craft, not the technique. I have reapplied some of his lessons during recent shoots and they work beautifully.

DuChemin makes a good point in the book. We all have a way to go as photographers and our journey is never complete.  But the journey itself is the reward and our creative output is never wrong. The Visual Toolbox: 60 Lessons for Stronger Photographs comes highly recommended as an edition to your summer reading list.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) book books david duchemin photography recommendations review techniques the toolbox visual Sun, 07 Jan 2018 03:30:41 GMT
Happy Holidays! Have a great holiday break and thank you for all your support over 2017.  I'll be back in the new year with new content and photos. 



Signed by Nature Studios



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) by holiday nature signed studios thank well wishes you Sun, 24 Dec 2017 05:12:15 GMT
The Kruger National Park: From Crocodile Bridge to Crook's Corner The Kruger National Park: From Crocodile Bridge to Crook’s Corner

The Kruger National Park has always captured my imagination and I have returned countless times. An expanse of wilderness the size of Wales set aside for the wilds and animals of Africa. In November 2017, I was fortunate to do something I have wanted to do for a long time. To complete one continuous trip over 13 days through the Kruger from the southern border to the northern boundary of Pafuri. Sure the Kruger has changed a lot since my first visit, but it is still a magical place.

To take in every region, I started from the Malelane Gate on the southern boundary and gradually worked my way up through Berg-en-Daal,  Talamati, Letaba, Shingwedzi, Punda Maria, eventually leaving through the Pafuri Gate. Lots has been written about the Kruger and where to stay and how to find the best game,  so I will try not to repeat what has already been said,  these are my tips for anyone planning to get the most out of a visit.


You don’t need a lot of equipment to take great photos in the Kruger. Most sightings are fairly intimate and the dense bush usually means that an animal is obscured from sight a few metres in. Lens wise, I would recommend having at least one lens in the 200 to 400mm range to capture close ups and a wide angle lens to capture the animals in their environment. These days, most DSLRs are excellent, so you can’t really go wrong. Just bring what you have.

A window beanbag is needed to rest your camera and lens on, as you will have to shoot out of a vehicle. If you use larger lenses, I would recommend renting a door bracket system or setting up a tripod and Wimberley head inside the vehicle. I generally don’t use a flash, but you can set up a remote system on a remote trigger to shoot out of your windows.

The roads in the Kruger are excellent, so you can visit in just about any type of vehicle. You will be spending a lot of time in the car, so my only recommendation is that you use something comfortable and spacious.


There are no ‘photographic rules’ you must follow when shooting in the Kruger. My only advice is to consider the context of your shots carefully. The bush in the Kruger is full of natural clutter and vegetation which can ruin photos. Keep your subject separated from the background where possible. Avoid high contrast situations which bring deep shadows and white highlights into an image, which usually means the bright hours between 10am to 3pm. Most importantly, understand the animals you are photographing and try and showcase their behaviour. Tight shots are great, but they get boring. Use lines to draw a viewer into the image. Use complementary colours to make your images pop. 

Most importantly, respect the animals and other visitors. You are photographing wild animals and they can be unpredictable. Never try to create a photo by chasing an animal, feeding it or throwing things (yes, I have witnessed all of the above). Be mindful of others and allow them to share in the excitement of a sighting. You will always walk away with new friends if you do this.

Where to Stay and When to Go

The Kruger has a variety of accommodation to suit different budgets. You can camp or stay in the relative luxury of a fully furnished house. Where possible, I would recommend staying away from the bigger camps like Skukuza, Lower Sabie and Satara. They have the convenience of shops and restaurants, but the ancillary noise of the restaurant and surrounding camp drowns out the sound of the African bush. The bushveld camps of Biyamiti, Talamati and Shimuwini are my favourites (although I would caveat this by saying that a troop of baboons outside your house, as happened to me in Talamati, can be even noisier than a generator). 

African Wild Dog, Talamati, Central Region

Canon 1Dx, 500mm, 1/500, f/4.0, ISO 400

There is no best time of year to visit. Each time of year presents its own opportunities. Winter is great for photography, as the sun is generally lower on the horizon, allowing for a longer golden hour. The bush is also not as thick as winter coincides with the dry season. The downside is that the bush tends to dry out and not be as attractive in parts. Summer, starting from November is great for birds and generally heralds the start of the mammal birthing season. You also get the emerald green of the summer growth showing through. My only word of caution is that summer, starting in November brings the rains.

You will need time to visit the Kruger. My recommendation is that you try and stay for at least seven days and in different camps if possible. The next questions is, where do you go?

The South

The southern region of the park is popular. So much so that you are likely to get crowded out of many sightings. If you stay off the tar roads and away from the popular Skukuza and Lower Sabie routes, there is a lot to see as most of Kruger’s large mammals can be found in the south.  The S114 and S23 roads near Biyamiti are recommended. The H4-1 around Lower Sabie is always productive, although it can carry a lot of traffic. The region around Lower Sabie is also good for eagles, kingfishers and bee-eaters (during the summer months). Baboons always congregate along the Sabie River road and they can make great photographic subjects, with behaviour resembling that of a feuding family at times.

Just be prepared to battle through crowds of people during peak holiday periods. The south of the park has always been the most popular region, but SANParks recent decision to increase accommodation capacity is having a detrimental effect on the overall experience, with more noise, more traffic and queues at the most popular sightings and venues.

Central Kruger

Central Kruger is popular with visitors seeking the big cats. The thorn thickets give way to open savanna, allowing for better photo opportunities. The H1-3 and H1-4 road leading to and out of Satara always has big cats present. For other game, the S100, S125 and S126 are always productive. Expect plenty of zebra, wildebeest, elephants and various antelope species. In the central region you can focus on getting of your classic environmental shots, showing the animals amongst the open savanna.

Elephant, Punda Maria, Northern Region

Canon 1Dx, 500mm, 1/640, f/7.1, ISO 320

The stretch of tar road just outside the Letaba rest camp running along the river is one of my favourite stretches of road. You always get good mammal and bird shots here and can stay out late until just before the gates close to capture those wonderful golden hour images. The S47 running along the Letaba River is also another scenic route, and makes for a good morning drive, with lots of birds and antelope present year round.

Northern Kruger

Most people say the north of the Kruger is very quiet, with little big game. This could not be further from the truth. You can find big game in abundance north of Shingwedzi, together with a multitude of bird species. This visit saw no shortage of buffalo, elephants, antelope and big cats. The best thing about the north is that it is quiet, allowing you to position your vehicle where you choose and not worry about having to let other visitors and traffic pass.

Baobab Tree, Punda Maria Canon 5D Mark II, 16mm, 1/125, f/16, ISO 1250

Baobab Tree, Punda Maria, Northern Region

Canon 5D Mark II, 16mm, 1/125, f/16, ISO 1250

The S56 outside the Shingwedzi Rest Camp is great for a morning or afternoon drive. The jewel of the north however is the S63 road leading to Crook’s Corner. Flanked by a magnificent fever tree forest, and weaving between the trees, the road is a bird lover’s paradise. Four hours on the S63 produced some of my best photos of the trip. At the end of the road, you are presented with the aptly named Crook’s Corner, the intersection between South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

All in all, I spent 13 days working my way through the park, travelling hundreds of kilometres and capturing thousands of images. Sure a lot has changed, but the Kruger National Park is still a magical place where time stands still. It is a place every serious wildlife photographer must visit.

If you are planning a trip to South Africa and a visit to the Kruger National Park and would like tips on where to stay and how to get most of your time, please feel free to contact me via the contact link at the bottom of this page.

All questions are welcome.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) go kruger national nature park photography stay tips to where wildlife Sun, 17 Dec 2017 05:44:49 GMT
Back in Australia After more than a month on the road travelling through southern Africa, I am back home in Brisbane. I managed to visit some truly magnificent places and in the process,  capture approximately 18,000 images. These images should start appearing shortly on my website and Facebook page. 

I hope you enjoy them. 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) africa kruger national nature park safari south travel wildlife Tue, 28 Nov 2017 10:00:58 GMT
Photographing Rainbow Bee-eaters I spent the past two mornings photographing Rainbow Bee-eaters along the banks of the Brisbane River at a place called Prior's Pocket. Bee-eaters are beautiful birds to photograph. They usually arrive in Brisbane between October and November to breed and generally hang around until January or February. 

Rainbow Bee-eater

1/320, f/6.3, ISO 800

While they are gregarious, bee-eaters like to keep their distance. Fortunately, they tend to return to the same perches. With a bit of patience, I was able to get some good shots by watching and waiting for the birds to return to their favourite perches.

Rainbow Bee-eater pair 1/320, f/5.6, ISO 100 Rainbow Bee-eater pair

1/320, f/5.6, ISO 100

I used my Canon 1Dx and 500mm f/4.0L IS USM II lens combined with a 1.4x extender to capture the images. To hold and stabilise the camera, I used a Benro tripod combined with a Wimberley gimbal head.

Solitary Rainbow Bee-eater

1/400, f/5.6, ISO 1600

To keep the backgrounds crisp and clutter free I used a wide aperture. I also kept my shutter speed high as bee-eaters tend to have rapid, jerky head movements. All in all, it was a good couple of days out with the camera.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) australia bee bee-eaters bird birds brisbane cameras canon colourful dslr eaters photography rainbow tips watching wildlife Sun, 08 Oct 2017 03:02:47 GMT
Oxley Creek Common Over the past few weeks I have made a number of trips to the Oxley Creek Common just outside Rocklea. It's a great spot for bird watching and bird photography. So far I have been able to capture some great images of the common species inhabiting the common. At the same time, I have had some great sightings of less frequent species such as the Forest Kingfisher and Pacific Bazza.

If you are a keen bird photographer, I recommend that you check out the Oxley Creek Common. There is always something to see.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) australia bird birds brisbane common creek nature oxley photography queensland rocklea wildlife Sat, 09 Sep 2017 02:54:47 GMT
Signed by Nature Studios Hi Folks, 

You may have noticed that my website name has changed with the switch over to Signed by Nature Studios.  I wanted to create a brand which more closely aligns with my nature photography and the future direction of my business. I hope you like it and please let me know what you think!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) by hunter nature photography russell signed studios wildlife Tue, 15 Aug 2017 22:48:18 GMT
Business branding Hi Folks, 

I am in the process of re-branding my business to become Signed by Nature Studios. Some of galleries will be down as I switch everything over. It won't take long before everything is back up again.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) by hunter nature photography russell signed studios Tue, 18 Jul 2017 11:45:31 GMT
Neutral density filters: A great addition to every photographers toolkit A few months ago I added  a set of neutral density filters to my kit bag. My only regret is that I didn’t start using them earlier. Neutral density filters or ND filters are glass or resin filters that reduce the speed at which light passes through the filter element and in turn enters the camera lens. Neutral density filters vary in strength from a reduction of 0.3 stops to a much as 15 stops. They are ‘neutral’ in that they do not alter the colour or spectrum of the light passing through. They come in a number of styles, ranging from screw on filters attaching to the front of a lens to resin or glass plates which can be stacked in front of the lens using a custom mount.

So what do you use ND filters for? They have a number of creative uses, but I mainly use them for controlling the evenness of an exposure and for increasing the length of time which I am able to keep the camera shutter open for. Think in terms of shooting a seascape. You are often confronted with a bright sky and a dark ocean. If you meter off the sky, the camera underexposes and you lose the tones in the ocean. If you meter the ocean, the camera overexposes and the sky blows out. The result is an image which is never balanced. Using ND filters allows you to creatively control or ‘reduce’ the exposure in an area susceptible to highlight blowouts such as the sky.

There are two types of ND filters; graduated ND filters and full or ‘stopper’ ND filters. Graduated ND filters transition from a dark tint to a normal tint across the face of the filter. Graduated ND filters are most useful in reducing areas susceptible to highlight blowouts. Graduated ND filters usually have a reduction rating of 0.3 stops to 1.5 stops. They usually also vary between soft, medium and hard transitions.

Goodwill BridgeGoodwill BridgeBrisbane, Australia Brisbane City

A Lee 0.6 graduated neutral density filter was used in combination with a Lee 'Little Stopper' ND filter to produce this image. The 0.6 graduated filter allowed the clouds to be exposed correctly, giving extra punch to the top half of the image.The camera was set to 30 seconds, f/18, ISO 100.

 Full or ‘stopper’ ND filters are a uniform tint and they reduce the exposure of the image across the entire face of the filter. The reduction rating can vary from 6 stops to as much as 15 stops. This allows the user to use a longer exposure than what would normally be permitted. This in turn can have the wonderful effect of ghosting movement. For landscape photographers, this is ideal for making people and traffic disappear and giving water a lovely, misty appearance. The benefits of ND filters is that they can also be stacked allowing you use a stopper filter in combination with a graduated filter to reduce bright skylines and areas subject to highlight blowouts while also increasing the length of time for which the shutter can remain open.

Shorncliffe PierShorncliffe PierQueensland, Australia Shorncliffe Pier

Captured using a Lee 'Big Stopper' 10 stop ND filter. The 10 stop ND filter allowed the camera to be set to 125 seconds, f/18, ISO 100. 

Using ND filters is easy. Graduated ND filters by themselves can simply be gauged straight through the lens. Simply put the filter in place, look through the lens or viewfinder and decide which parts of the image you wish to darken. Stopper ND filters need an exposure calculation as they are not transparent to the naked eye. This is usually the reciprocal of the stopping power of the ND filter. For example, a six stop ND filter needs an exposure six stops lower than the meter reading on the camera without the filter in place. So, a shutter speed of 1/60 metered in normal conditions needs to be compensated to 1 second in order to produce a good exposure. Fortunately, there are dozens of apps which can do this calculation for you and they are readily available for download to a smart phone or similar device. From experience, it does help to know the fundamentals for those dreaded occasions when your trusty smartphone is not at hand.

In terms of brands, I enjoy using Lee Filters. But I have heard equally good reports about NiSi. I would recommend staying away from the cheaper brands. Nothing is worse than putting a cheap filter in front of an expensive lens and camera. To start out, I would recommend kitting yourself with at least one stopper ND filter and combination of graduated ND filters. I prefer ND graduated filters but you can get warming and cooling tints to add extra colour to skies and sunsets. In most cases, you will also need an adapter set to suit your camera setup. Throw in a polarising filter and you won’t have much change left over as good quality ND filters are expensive. Of course, with long exposure times, a sturdy tripod is a must as is a cable or remote shutter release.

BrisbaneBrisbaneQueensland, Australia Brisbane City & Story Bridge

Another example of an image shot in combination with a Lee 'Big Stopper' ND filter and a 0.6 graduated ND filter. The graduated ND filter reduced the exposure of the sky by 0.6 stops to even out the image. The Big Stopper ND filter allowed a very long exposure to be used, removing the river and pedestrian traffic and giving the water a lovely glass like appearance.

As a word of caution, ND filters are not supposed to alter the colour of the light passing through. The reality is that even best quality filters tend to produce a slight blue tint. This is great you shoot in black and white but some correction is required if you prefer colour. Set your white balance to a warmer tint or be prepared to do some extra post processing after your shoot.

ND filters have improved my landscape photography tenfold and opened a broad range of creative possibilities. Don’t make the same mistake I did. If you are serious about your photography, start using ND filters. You won’t regret it.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Australia Big Brisbane Filters Lee Little ND Stopper and black density equipment filter filters gear guidance landscape neutral photography review reviews tips using white Sat, 13 May 2017 09:25:16 GMT
Queensland AIPP Awards The Queensland AIPP Professional Photography Awards kick off today. Good luck to all contestants! 

If you want to see some of Queensland's best photography on display, head to Tafe Brisbane, Mt Gravatt Campus, B Block, 1030 Cavendish Rd, Mt Gravatt.

A judging schedule can be found here:

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) AIPP APPA Queensland awards competition photography professional Fri, 07 Apr 2017 21:33:03 GMT
World Superbike Images I have started uploading images from last weekend's World Superbike and World Supersport races at Phillip Island. Be sure to check them out and let me know what you think. 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2017 Australia FIM Island Phillip Superbike championship motorbike motorcycle motorsport racing speed world Sat, 04 Mar 2017 03:06:02 GMT
Back from World Superbikes The first round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship is done and dusted. It was a great weekend of racing at Phillip Island and the shooting conditions were perfect for Friday. I am in the process of going through the images and I hope to have some new stuff uploaded to the gallery shortly. Be sure to check back. 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2017 Australia Championship FIM Island Phillip Superbike Supersport World motorsport photography racing speed sport Tue, 28 Feb 2017 12:00:01 GMT
FIM Motul Superbike World Championship: Race Day It's the final race day here at the Phillip Island. Jonathon Rea won a thrilling first World Superbike race yesterday ahead of Chaz Davies and Tom Sykes. With the lead changing hands several times during the race, today's race two promises to be a thriller.

The first World Supersport race of the season also kicks off this morning . American PJ Jacobsen has secured a first place start on the grid for a shortened race which sees only 15 laps being run over the traditional 22 laps. World Supersport is always a hotly contested field and this afternoon's race promises to be no different.

The shooting conditions will be challenging today. It's bright and sunny with only patchy clouds. Let's hope the Phillip Island weather brings some overcast skies for race time.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2017 Australia Championship FIM Superbike World motorcycle motorsport one racing round speed sport Sat, 25 Feb 2017 22:54:10 GMT
World Superbikes I'll be heading down to Phillip Island  to cover the first round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship. The riders have just had two days of pre-season testing and the 2017 season looks like it will be a good one. Catch you down at the Island!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2017 Dorna Island Phillip World championship motorcycle motorsport racing speed sport superbike Thu, 23 Feb 2017 03:00:00 GMT
Sleeklens Adventure Collection Preset Pack: First Impressions A few weeks ago I was asked by Sleeklens to do a review of one of their Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom plugins, the Sleeklens Adventure Collection. Sleeklens is a new player in the photo editing and plugin market. Emerging in 2015, Sleeklens promises to provide photographers with products that work ‘with’ them, not ‘for’ them. The Sleeklens Adventure Collection consists of a set of 56 preset ‘actions’ designed specifically for landscape photographers.  The plugin replace traditional Photoshop and Lightroom manipulations with a panel of buttons to adjust fields such as brightness, colour, contrast, appearance and size. Photoshop presets do not normally appeal to me but I found some of the Sleeklens tools useful.

The Sleeklens Adventure Collection concept is very simple. The pack provides a set of pre-defined edits that operate within Photoshop to build up a particular effect. Unlike Photoshop effect packages like Google’s Nik Collection, there is no software interface within Photoshop itself. The actions are applied through the Action Toolbar using Adobe’s own edits. For example, one of the ‘All in One’ actions called ‘Warm Shadows’ works by building individual adjustments into the image for the curves, colour, colour balance and so on. So instead of having to make these individual edits one layer at a time, you just has to make one click and then adjust the overall intensity of the effect by an adjustment to the opacity of the action layer. If you want add another effect, you simply click on another action and it applies over the top of the previous effect.

So what comes included with the Adventure Collection? There are eight action groups provided with the pack. Three action groups target exposure, tonal and temperature adjustments. Four action groups provide unique Sleeklens developed adjustments. The final group resizes images for web display (there is even useful Facebook adjustment action to optimise your images for display on the Facebook platform. All the actions are intuitively named for easy identification. Need an edit to overcome dull weather? Sleeklens has that covered with an appropriately named action, ‘Use in case of dull weather’. Do the actions work well? To a degree, yes. I say this because preset actions should not be seen as a ‘one size fits all’ solution to editing. Images vary and the same effect applied to two different images can produce different results. Careful planning still needs to go into pre-production and post production editing to produce acceptable results.

The suitably named ‘All-in-One’ effects produced some pleasing results on the images that I tested. Of the various tools, I found the ‘Exposure’ and ‘Base’ presets to be the most useful. I edit my images through gentle tweaks to the exposure, curves and colour and ‘Exposure’ and ‘Base’ presets provide a useful, time saving compliment to this process. Instead of needing to use multiple clicks and build layers into an image, Sleeklens has reduced the effort to one simple click which you can follow with an adjustment to the opacity layer to vary the intensity of the effect. It’s very handy. For the other packs in the collection, such as the ‘Enhance’ and ‘Specialty’ packs, it is best to experiment. The ‘Sky Enhancer’ tool is useful, if a little oversaturated. Others such as the ‘Digital Image’ effect I see little practical use for.

The Adventure Collection provides a good set of tools to test the boundaries creativity within a landscape image and start you on your journey to effective post-processing. For me, I prefer taking images not editing them, so the pack is a useful compliment to my workflow, even though there are some presets in the pack that I probably never use. Sleeklens produce a number of different editing packs, overlays and bundles for nearly every genre of photography. To find out more, visit the Sleeklens website at: To find the Sleeklens Adventure Collection, visit:

Author’s Note: Please note that in return for a fair and honest review of their product, Sleeklens provided me with a free copy of the Sleeklens Adventure Collection.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Adobe Adventure Photoshop Sleeklens collection editing photo photography plugins review reviews software Sat, 18 Feb 2017 01:49:24 GMT
Sleeklens Landscape Adventures Review So the folks at were kind enough to give me a copy of their 'Landscape Adventures' Photoshop action pack in return for an objective review.

So, over the next week or two, I'll be doing review of the actions and seeing what they have to offer. So far it's looking pretty good, so standby for a further update.




]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Photoshop Sleeklens editing landscape photo photography review Sat, 21 Jan 2017 23:40:59 GMT
Queen Mary Falls Yesterday I took a drive out to Queen Mary Falls which lies just east of Kilarney on the Queensland/New South Wales border. My thermometer hit 39.5 degrees celsius on the way there, so it was a stinker. There was plenty of water flowing over the falls and the landscape was very scenic after the recent rains. It's a great day trip for anyone living in Brisbane and the surrounds. Next time I'll remember to take my bigger lens for all the birds that I saw!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Mary Queen Queensland birds day falls landscape national park photography trip wildlife Sat, 14 Jan 2017 21:00:44 GMT
Goodbye 2016! Well, 2016 is at an end. It had its ups and downs . I got access to places I've never been before, saw plenty of new things and even missed out on a few opportunities in between. 

To everyone who has visited my page over the year, a big thank you. Here's to a great 2017!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2016 2017 New Year photography thank you Sat, 31 Dec 2016 08:06:36 GMT
Rally Australia - World Rally Championship Rally Australia has kicked off with Shakedown practice this morning. There were no surprises, with current World Champion Sebastien Ogier securing the fastest time ahead of Andrea Mikkelsen and Ott Tanak. The dust is everywhere this year, making shooting a challenge.

Now it's time for the ceremonial start. 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Australia Ford Hyundai Rally Volkswagen World championship motorsport off racing rally road. speed Thu, 17 Nov 2016 03:56:02 GMT
Rally Australia - World Rally Championship I'm off to Coffs Harbour in northern New South Wales on Wednesday. The final round of the 2016 World Rally Championship will be taking place. Although the championship has already been decided, the Australian round always offers plenty of thrills with a fast, sweeping course through the New South Wales countryside. I look forward to bringing you plenty of great photos. 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2016 Australia FIA Ford Hyundai Volkswagen car championship motorsport off racing rally road speed world Mon, 14 Nov 2016 10:34:23 GMT
MotoGP photos I have started posting my MotoGP photos from last weekend. You can check out the galleries under the featured tab. I'll be adding photos from the Moto2 and Moto3 series over the weekend. Enjoy!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2016 Australia Dorna Island MotoGP Phillip championship motorcycle motorsport racing sport world Sat, 29 Oct 2016 08:56:23 GMT
Friday, Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix After a very wet and windy day, all track action was abandoned early due to standing water on the track. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit better! Catch you then folks.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2016 Australia Australian Friday Island MotoGP Phillip grand motorcycle motorsport prix racing Fri, 21 Oct 2016 06:27:13 GMT
MotoGP Bound From Thursday I'm off to Phillip Island to cover the MotoGP. While the championship may have been decided, the 'Island' always produces some great racing. I look forward to bringing you plenty of new photos. 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2016 Australia Island Lorenzo Marquez MotoGP Phillip Rossi championship motorcycle racing Tue, 18 Oct 2016 11:53:33 GMT
Moto GP - Phillip Island I'll be heading down to Phillip Island in a few weeks to cover the Australian round of the MotoGP. I'm looking forward to watching Marquez, Rossi and Lorenzo battle it out once again.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Island Lorenzo Marc Marquez MotoGP Phillip Rossi Valentino motorcycle racing Wed, 05 Oct 2016 10:24:40 GMT
South Africa's Best Destinations for Wildlife Photography South Africa is one of the world’s best destinations when it comes to wildlife photography. From spectacular mountains and to lush forests to arid deserts, South Africa has it all, including some of the world’s most magnificent large mammals.

Having grown up in South Africa and having travelled the country extensively, I have been fortunate to have visited some of its most stunning locations. This is my top five list of best destinations for wildlife photography in South Africa.

1.    Great Kruger National Park, Mpumulanga

Kruger National Park is the oldest of South Africa’s national parks. Comprising nearly 2 million hectares of conserved land, it offers unrivalled wildlife viewing opportunities and the best big 5 viewing in the country. The park itself is made up of three distinct regions, each having its own unique geology and vegetation ranging from the riverine thickets of the south to the Mopani Shrubveld of the north.

The Kruger is well developed and the big mammals and birds are habituated to vehicles, making many encounters unique and intimate. The downside is that Kruger is a popular destination, especially during school holidays. It is not uncommon to be crowded out of more popular sightings.
For big mammal viewing, I recommend the southern half of the park and camps such as Lower Sabie, Biyamiti and Berg-en-Daal.  Lower Sabie is a beautiful camp situated on the Sabie River and I have always had plenty of good sightings of lion, leopard, elephants and birds near the camp. For a more a more secluded experience, Biyamiti is a hidden gem situated along its own private road alongside the Biyamiti River. My last visit to Biyamiti proved to be an elephant bonanza, with several herds passing near the camp in the few days I was there.

The area around Satara Rest Camp in the mid region of the park is a lion and leopard hotspot. Satara’s open vegetation is also more conducive to photography and there are plenty of encounters to be had with the larger herbivores. The northern region of the Kruger Park around Shingwedzi is quieter and popular with birders, especially during the summer months. Despite the seclusion there is plenty of large game to be seen, including some of the rarer species of antelope not commonly seen in the southern half of the park.

In short, the Kruger National Park is a wildlife photographer’s dream. To get the most out of a visit, I recommend a stay of at least 7 days, with changes between the different overnight rest camps. As you will be shooting out of a vehicle, I would recommend a DSLR and a good 100-400mm zoom lens and shorter range 24-70mm general purpose zoom lens to capture the large mammals. If you want to photograph birds, I would recommend a prime lens of 400mm and above. 

Many people say that the best time to visit is May to August when the vegetation is at its thinnest. The truth is, after numerous visits, each month has its own rewards.  If you love baby animals, October is a great month, coinciding with the birthing season for many of the mammals. November to January, the height of the rainy season is also great for birding. 

2.    Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, Northern Cape

Not many places come close to the peace and tranquillity that can be experienced in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park. Sitting on the fringe of the greater Kalahari Desert, the Kgalagadi boasts an outstanding array of wildlife. It is a big cat and bird watchers paradise, with some of the best bird and large raptor viewing to be had in Africa.

Just be warned, game density in the Kgalagadi is naturally sparse and you have to put in a lot of driving to get good sightings. Although the gravel roads are continuously maintained, they can be quite rough and I have had the misfortune of blowing several tyres over the years. So be prepared.
There are two major roads in the park, both of which form a ‘V’ and travel north and south along the Auob and Nossob Rivers. The good news is, as an arid park, the two rivers offer the only continuous source of water, so the animals have to congregate near the two roads. With little vegetation to block the view, good sightings of more unusual species such as cape fox, bat eared fox, meerkats, wild cats and brown hyena can be had. More common species include springbok, Oryx, hartebeest and wildebeest, and of course, everyone’s favourites, lions, leopards and cheetahs. My two favourite rest camps are Mata Mata and the Kalahari Tented Camp. Nossob Rest Camp is as a popular location for big cat viewing, especially leopards. Twee Rivieren Rest Camp offers plenty as well, with several different species of owl residing around the camp (with assistance from friendly camp staff, I was able to find four different species of owl within a 100 metres of my chalet). 

The Kgalagadi like Kruger, is a self -drive park and you will need a 2x4 vehicle at a minimum. You will also need spare tyres and provisions, including enough potable water, for the duration of your visit. The best months to visit are May to September, when daytime temperatures are mild and the winter sun is relatively flat, allowing for good photography between dawn and 10 am and 3pm and dusk. November to February is generally good for big cat viewing, although daytime temperatures can soar to the 40 degree Celsius mark. 

You will have to shoot out of a vehicle inside the park. Equipment rise, I recommend a DSLR, a 100-400 mm zoom lens, although a prime lens of 400mm or more is preferable given the openness of the park.  A general purpose 24-70mm lens also comes in handy for the chance close encounters. Bring a tripod to capture spectacular sunsets and landscapes from the rest camps (and the many owls which rest during the daytime in the trees surrounding the camps). As with the Kruger Park, I recommend a visit of at least seven days, including moves between the overnight camps. If you are lucky enough to secure a booking, you cannot go without a visit to one of the stunning wilderness camps of Kieliekrankie, Kalahari Tented Camp and Bitterpan.

For the seasoned traveller and photographer, Kgalagadi is a destination all of its own.

3.    Giant’s Castle, Drakensberg Mountains, Kwa-Zulu Natal

Giant’s Castle is situated at the half way point of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg World Heritage Site about six hours south of Johannesburg. It is one of the most beautiful places in southern Africa. Comprising a single overnight rest camp, Giant’s Castle links up with several hiking routes which link with the northern and southern region of the park. For the landscape photographer, there are stunning vistas, valleys and streams to take in, all set against the dramatic backdrop of the Drakensberg mountain range and the Lesotho highlands. For the wildlife photographer, the main attraction is the world class vulture hide, set against a cliff face overlooking the Giant’s Castle vista. From the hide you can catch a glimpse of various eagles, buzzards, vultures and the star of the show, the endangered Beared Vulture. The excitement peaks when these birds come in to land on the cliff edge just in front of the hide.

 To access the hide, you will need to book in advance. The Giant’s Castle rest camp will supply you with a key and a bucket of bones to set out for the birds once you reach the hide. While Giant’s Castle is accessible via normal sedan, you will need a 4WD vehicle to access the hide. The mountain road is not in good condition. The hide itself can comfortably accommodate three photographers and their equipment. Expect to spend a day in the hide, so bring enough food and drink and warm clothes if you visit during the winter months. I recommend visiting during April and September, when food is scarce in the park and the vultures are more likely to come in to land near the hide. I recommend setting up early in the hide from around 8am as the birds are most active between 8am-1pm during the winter months.

Equipment wise, a DSLR and a long lens are a must. If you can stretch it, a 500 to 600mm prime is ideal. Bring a beanbag to rest your camera on or a tripod with a fluid ball head or Wimberley type pivot to capture the action. The bearded vultures will spend quite a bit of time soaring past the hide, so set up your shooting position in the hide carefully. When the vultures are not around, there are always plenty of sunbirds and chats near the hide to photograph. For the other areas of Giant’s Castle, a sturdy tripod, a cable release, a DSLR level camera and general purpose and wide angle lenses are a must. If you shoot using neutral density filters, bring those with as the contract between the valleys and mountains can be significant. Giant’s Castle is a hiking destination, so don’t be afraid to go on a hike and explore the park, as there are many unique and spectacular locations to photograph.

Giant’s Castle’s clear mountain air and stunning vistas are ideal for recharging the batteries and reconnecting with nature. The vulture hide offers a chance to view Africa’s rarest and most stunning birds up close. It’s a place I can’t wait to go back to.

4.    Pilanesberg National Park, North West

Pilanesberg National Park is an easy two hour drive north of Johannesburg. Set in the crater of an ancient volcano, Pilanesberg offers excellent large mammal viewing amongst a scenic landscape. The birding is also very good. 

A mix of private and public accommodation is available around Pilanesberg to suit a range of budgets, with Manyane Camp generally proving the most popular. The park allows you to drive or join one of the many guided game drives on offer. Self-driving is best for photography. Mankwe Dam is at the centre of the park and has an excellent hide from which you can regularly see cormorant, kingfisher, herons and fish eagles. Larger mammals such as elephant, white rhino, antelope and the various cats can be seen from both the tarred and gravel roads that surround Mankwe Dam. 
The only downside to Pilanesberg is its popularity. It can get crowded at times with game drive vehicles and buses coming in from nearby Sun City and the many surrounding camps. Take the gravel roads to avoid the crowds and focus on the smaller, less popular sightings. May to September is generally the best time for photography when the grass and foliage is shorter. 

Recommended equipment for Pilanesberg is a DSLR, a lens with a 100-400mm zoom range and general purpose lens for landscapes and any close up opportunities that present themselves. As you have to photograph out of a vehicle, a beanbag rest is handy to place over your window to support your camera and lens.

Pilanesberg offers something for everyone. Being just two hours north of Johannesburg, it offers a quick getaway and rewarding photographic opportunities. 

5.    Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park, Kwazulu-Natal

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Park is Kwazulu-Natal’s largest and oldest big 5 park. It is situated four hours north of Durban and roughly 8 hours south of Johannesburg. It is one of the best locations in South Africa to photograph white and black rhino. There are also plenty of other game opportunities and good birding around the many rivers which cross the park.

Hluhluwe-Umfolozi has two main camps, Hilltop and Mpila and a number of smaller bush camps with limited facilities. Nselweni Bush Camp on the banks of the Black Umfolozi River is one of my favourite camps. The terrain in the park varies widely, from the rolling hills surrounding Hilltop to the savannah thickets of the Mpila region.  There is only one tarred road spanning the length of the park from which a majority of the large mammals can be seen. The rest of the roads are gravel and they vary in condition.

Birdlife in the camps is very good, especially during the summer months with some rare species making an appearance. A four or five day visit is generally enough to get the most out of Hluhluwe. As a self-drive park, you will need to photograph out of your own vehicle. Guided night drives are offered from the main rest camps. May to September is generally the best time of the year to visit when the bush is at its thinnest. While summer is good for birding, Hluhluwe can become uncomfortably hot and humid during the day, driving most animals to seek shelter between 9am-3pm.
As with Kruger and Pilannesberg, a DSLR and zoom lens of 100-400mm range is recommended to capture the larger mammals. A general purpose or wide angle lens comes in handy at many of the viewpoints, where you are able to alight from your vehicle. For the birds, a large 400-600mm prime lens comes in handy if you can afford it. A beanbag support for your camera is also a must have as you will be shooting from a vehicle.
While Hluhluwe doesn’t have the big park appeal of Kruger or Pilanesberg, every visit is rewarding and there is plenty on offer for the wildlife photographer. The trick is to look for the small things. 


There are many locations in South Africa that I still want to visit and photograph. Mapungubwe National Park, Ai-Ais/Richertersveld National Park and the Cape national parks are but a few. In short, South Africa offers wildlife photography opportunities to suit every budget and skill level. It is the world wrapped into a single country. To get the most out of any visit, plan carefully and know where and how to find the animals you want to photograph. Africa follows its own timeless rhythm and provides its own rewards. If you want some advice about where to go, don’t be afraid to get in touch.


Russell Hunter 

Russell Hunter Photography

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Africa Kgalagadi Kruger South animals gear nature photography recommendations review travel wildlife Sat, 27 Aug 2016 00:12:51 GMT
Round 5 - Australian Superbike Championship The Australian Superbike round at Morgan Park this past weekend was a great event. I am in the process of uploading a selection of photos from the Supersport and Superbike categories. Be sure to check them out. 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 5 ASBK Australian Morgan Park Queensland Superbike championship motorcycle racing road round supersport supersports Wed, 10 Aug 2016 09:41:09 GMT
Round 5 -Australian Superbike Championship Round 5 of the Australian Superbike Championship is on this weekend at Morgan Park. I'll be travelling up to Warwick to cover the event. It promises to be a good weekend. I'll have some photos up by early next week. 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2016 ASBK Australian Championship Morgan Park Superbike Warwick motorcycle racing Thu, 04 Aug 2016 10:03:29 GMT
Back from South Africa I am now back in Australia after a fantastic five week trip across South Africa. I travelled to the Kruger National Park, the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, the Drakensberg Mountains, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi and Mabula Private lodge. I managed to capture some great photos and I saw many new species orf animal for the first time. I look forward to bringing you all the photos!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Africa Kgalagadi Kruger South park photography safari travel wildlife Sat, 25 Jun 2016 10:34:03 GMT
Trip to South Africa I am counting down the days until I leave for South Africa. I've got an exciting schedule with trips planned to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier National Park, Giants Castle in the Drakensberg and Kruger National Park and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi. There will be plenty of photos to follow in the weeks ahead.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Africa Hluhluwe Imfolozi Kgalagadi Kruger South national nature park travel wildlife Fri, 06 May 2016 13:06:40 GMT
World Superbikes I am back in Brisbane after a great weekend covering the World Superbikes at Phillip Island. New galleries will be added shortly.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2016 Australia FIM Island Phillip championship motorcycles motorsport racing superbike world Tue, 01 Mar 2016 11:58:19 GMT
2016 FIM Superbike World Championship I'm down at Phillip Island for the first round of the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship. Race one on Saturday was a great start to the season with Kawasaki rider Jonathan Rea clinching the win ahead of Chaz Davies ( Ducati) and Michael van der Mark (Honda World Superbike). 

Race two kicks off at 3pm today after the World Supersport race at 1.30pm. It should be a great day. Photos to come.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 1 2016 Australia FIM Superbike championship one round world Sat, 27 Feb 2016 22:27:33 GMT
Round 1, 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship Accreditation secured. I'll be heading down to cover the first round of the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship at Phillip Island next week. It's going to be interesting with a new Saturday and Sunday race format.

Keep an eye out for new images coming soon!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2016 Australia Championship Phillip Island Superbike World motorcycle racing Wed, 17 Feb 2016 11:48:05 GMT
2016 AIPP Hair of the Dog Well done to the organizers for another fantastic Hair of the Dog photography conference. With a speaker lineup including Kelly Brown, Darren Jew, Mike Langford, Jackie Ranken and Nuran Zulu, it was a fantastic weekend of learning and inspiration. For those that haven't been, I can certainly recommend next years event!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2016 AIPP Brisbane Hair of the Dog Queensland conference photography Mon, 08 Feb 2016 09:27:52 GMT
AIPP Hair of the Dog Photography Conference It was a great first day at the AIPP Hair of the Dog conference here in Brisbane. There were some great presentations on offer and plenty of inspiration. I'm certainly looking forward to tomorrow!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2016 AIPP Brisbane Hair of the Dog conference photography Sat, 06 Feb 2016 09:05:39 GMT
AIPP Hair of the Dog There is one week left to go before the AIPP's Hair of the Dog photography conference in Brisbane. If you still want to register, visit Last year's conference was excellent. See you there.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2016 AIPP Australia Brisbane Hair of the Dog Queensland conference photography Thu, 28 Jan 2016 11:56:10 GMT
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Have a happy holiday season folks. May 2016 be even better than the year before and thanks for all the support. I look forward to seeing you back in the new year. 



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Australia Christmas Merry New Year photography thank you Fri, 25 Dec 2015 03:37:21 GMT
Round 16, MotoGP, Phillip Island Australia Yesterday saw a great start to the 2015 Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Spain's Marc Marquez topped the time sheets followed closely by Jorge Lorenzo. Valentino Rossi, who is fighting for a 9th World Championship only managed to secure 9th in the overall time standings. 

Today sees the start of qualifying and what should be plenty of on track action! 

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 Australia Australian Grand Island MotoGP Motorcycle Phillip Pramac Prix racing update Fri, 16 Oct 2015 21:41:26 GMT
Hands On with Canon’s 1Dx DSLR: A quick review of Canon’s Tenth Generation Pro DSLR Two weeks ago I took the plunge and traded in my trusty 1D Mark IV DSLR for the flagship 1Dx, Canon’s tenth generation professional DSLR. With just over two weeks shooting on the 1Dx, I can definitively say that it was well worth the upgrade. The 1Dx is a stunning piece of equipment and that lives up to all the hype.

For this review, I am not going to exhaustively review each technical aspect of the camera, as there are already dozens of similar reviews in circulation. Rather, I am going to focus on those things which made an impression when I switched over.

Picking the 1Dx up for the first time, not a lot has changed from the 1D Mark IV. The buttons and switches are familiar and are located in the same general position as the previous camera. What has changed noticeable is the weight. The 1Dx is more than a few grams heavier than my 1D Mark IV. It’s not significant but it is worth mentioned given that upgrades have seen weight reductions worked into the design. The good news is that 1Dx is still very comfortable to hold and very solid when attached to my largest lenses.

The 1Dx sees the CF and SD memory card slots seen on the 1D Mark IV replaced in favour of a dual CF card slots. The view screen on the back is also slightly bigger and it packs more clarity than the 1D Mark IV (approximately 1 million dot resolution versus 920,000 for the 1D Mark IV). Menus and function screens largely remain the same with the welcome addition of an auto level display which I first saw on my 7D.

ISO on the 1Dx can be expanded to an incredible 204,800. While I’ve only tested it to 3200 ISO, the noise results are impressive considering that 3200 ISO was the absolute limit a few years ago with most top of the line DSLRs. I firmly believe Canon when they say the 1Dx offers a two stop noise advantage over its predecessors. The 1Dx shares the same silent, single, high speed and low speed shooting modes as the 1D Mark.  With the 1Dx however 12 frames per second can be achieved in high speed burst mode, two frames more than the 1D Mark IV. Ten frames a second was already plenty when the 1D Mark IV was released so I’m interested to see what can be achieved with the additional two frames at the MotoGP later this week. I suspect it will mean a lot more editing!

Now to the interesting stuff. The 18.1 megapixel CMOS full frame sensor on the 1Dx is mind blowing. It manages to capture an incredible level of detail and it is very forgiving in its exposure profile. The bird images which I took over the course of the weekend show an incredible level of detail, even with a significant amount of cropping applied. So bird and wildlife photographers will love the 1Dx.

While the autofocus system on the 1D Mark IV was no slouch, the 1Dx sets a new benchmark for DSLR AF systems. There is a 61 point autofocus system that can be adjusted and fine-tuned to an incredible level of accuracy. Spot, single point, single point with surrounding point selections, zone selections and automatic AF modes are all possible. If this isn’t enough, the AF system can be further tuned according to the movement of the subject and the type of lens used (assuming a Canon EF lens is attached). The result is even fewer missed shots, as my deliberately sloppy test shooting at the local bird pond showed.

I haven’t been this excited about a new camera for a while, but the 1Dx appears to break new ground. Yes, it is heavier and more expensive than my 1Dx, but it is a significant and worthwhile upgrade from the 1D Mark IV. While I have yet to scratch the surface of the camera’s capabilities, I cannot wait to start using it more extensively. My only question is this; with the 1Dx Mark II set to be released next year, what could Canon possibly have found to improve on?


Russell Hunter Photography

T: +61 (0)438 717 307



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 1Dx Canon DSLR camera digital equipment photography professional review Sun, 11 Oct 2015 11:02:14 GMT
MotoGP Bound I'll be packing my bags and heading down to the MotoGP at Phillip Island this week. It promises to be an exciting round with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo battling for the championship. Looking forward to it!

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 Australian Grand Island Lorenzo Melbourne MotoGP Motorcycle Phillip Prix Rossi Valentino Sat, 10 Oct 2015 01:47:54 GMT
2015 FIA World Rally Championship - Rally Australia Gallery My Rally Australia Gallery has been updated. You can find photos from the weekend under the featured galleries tab. Enjoy!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 10 2015 Australia Rally WRC championship rally round world Mon, 14 Sep 2015 11:03:09 GMT
Ogier claims victory at Rally Australia Volkswagen Motorsport driver Sebastien Ogier claimed yet another Rally Australia victory earlier today. Ogier also managed to wrap up the 2015 driver's world championship with three rounds still remaining in the season.

I'll be updated my album from the weekend shortly.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 Australia Championship FIA Ogier Rally Volkswagen World Sun, 13 Sep 2015 09:02:26 GMT
Saturday, Rally Australia 2015 It has been a great few days covering the 2015 Coates Hire Rally Australia World Rally Championship round. I have managed to cover a total of seven stages and I am looking forward to the final day tomorrow. Who will be the winner of Rally Australia for 2015? Sebastien Ogier or Kris Meeke?

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 Australia Championship Citroen Coffs FIA Ford Harbour Hyundai Rally Volkswagen World Sat, 12 Sep 2015 11:49:24 GMT
Rally Australia I'll be heading down to Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales coast to cover the World Rally Championship round from tomorrow. Last year was a great event and I'm looking forward to Rally Australia 2015.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 Australia Championship Coffs FIA Harbour Rally World championship motorsports racing rally world Tue, 08 Sep 2015 12:04:49 GMT
Mount Cootha Classic I'll be shooting the Mount Cootha Classic car race and show event in Brisbane tomorrow. Looking forward to a great day of hill climbing and displays. Stand by for updates.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Brisbane Classic Cootha Mount car motorsports photography racing Fri, 04 Sep 2015 09:48:18 GMT
Kayell Australia: Basic Studio Lighting Masterclass Workshop I attended a great workshop today hosted by Cameron Attree and Kayell Australia. The workshop covered the basics of studio lighting as well as delving into a number of basic lighting setups.  It was a great, hands on learning experience and I would recommend attending any future workshops. Thanks to Cameron Attree for sharing his wisdom. 

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 Attree Australia Cam Kayell equipment photography workshop Sun, 16 Aug 2015 09:43:18 GMT
New Canon Camera Rumours For Canon users, rumours are in the pipeline that 2016 will see the introduction of a EOS 1DX Mark II and a EOS 5D Mark IV. The 1DX will likely see a 24mp sensor and a shooting rate in excess of 12 frames per second. The 5D Mark IV is rumoured to have a 4K video capacity and a sensor between 18-28mp.

Exciting news but I still love my 5D Mark II and 1D Mark IV!

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2016 Canon cameras equipment new releases rumours Sat, 08 Aug 2015 11:24:52 GMT
21 perfectly composed images Ever wondered how the rule of thirds and composition work to create a fantastic image? Check out the photos below from

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) composition examples of photography rule thirds Sat, 11 Jul 2015 01:26:19 GMT
Winter Landscapes With the arrival of winter, South East Queensland has put on beautiful, crisp mornings perfect for landscape photography. Be sure to make the most of these days. You won't be disappointed with the different hues of blue, pink and orange.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Brisbane Canon Queensland landscape photography Sat, 06 Jun 2015 01:15:54 GMT
Round 2, 2015 Australian Superbike Championship Well done to all the participants in today's round of the Australian Superbike Championship at Morgan Park Raceway. It was a cracking day of racing across all of the categories. Galleries will appear shortly!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 Australian Championship Morgan Park Superbike Sun, 12 Apr 2015 11:28:54 GMT
Australian Superbike Championship: Round 2 The Australian Superbikes will be hitting Morgan Park in Warwick this weekend. I look forward to bringing you plenty of action from the track.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 Australian Championship Morgan Park Superbike Thu, 09 Apr 2015 10:09:48 GMT
UV Filters: Usefool Tool or Unnecessary Expense? I have always used a screw on ultra violet light filter ('UV filter') to protect the objective element of my lens. But is there any merit to this? Do UV filters or their clear counterparts serve a purpose or are they just another expensive and unnecessary edition to lenses which already have sufficient inbuilt ultra violet filtration? For what it's worth, I'll weigh in with my own experiences.
In a side by side comparison using a high quality filter, I cannot tell the difference between images shot with a UV filter and images shot without a UV filter. As a result, I do not consider UV filters to be useful from an image quality standpoint. Where UV filters do serve a purpose is as an initial protective barrier to the more expensive objective elements of my lenses. I have dropped my lenses before and on at least two occasions the UV filters have saved the lenses from objects penetrating through the lens hood. Job done and I avoided an expensive repair to a $2500 lens and the loss of a vital piece of equipment on a shoot.
So for those weighing up the expense of purchasing a UV or clear filter to complement their lens, my advice is this. Buy a UV or clear filter as a form of cheap insurance. However, do not match a cheap UV or clear filter with an expensive lens. You will just undo the high tech optics that come standard with most lenses and your image quality will suffer. Buy something that matches the quality of your lens.
If you choose to go without a UV or clear filter, you do not stand to loose anything. If you are careful, most lenses have sufficient inbuilt protection to limit damage to all but the most careless of circumstances. I just choose to go with that added bit of protection as a form of cheap insurance.


Russell Hunter Photography

T: +61(0)438 717 307


]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) UV camera equipment filter lenses photography reviews Sun, 05 Apr 2015 03:34:12 GMT
QLD AIPP Professional Photography Awards Well done to all the participants in todays segment of the QLD AIPP Professional Photography Awards. There was some great photography on display and many worthy winners (and some great images which were unlucky to miss out).

Judging continues tomorrow across the illustrative, wedding, travel and family categories. If you can spare the time, I recommend heading over to TAFE Brisbane on 1030 Cavendish Road, Mount Gravatt to have a look at the judging.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 AIPP Awards Photography Professional QLD Sat, 28 Mar 2015 09:46:15 GMT
AIPP Accredited Professional Photographer

Hi Folks,

After spending a few years as an emerging member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP), I have transitioned to become a fully accredited professional photographer. This means that my work has been assessed by a panel of my peers and I have been judged to meet a professional practice standard set by the AIPP.

It's a positive step for me and I hope it serves to raise awareness for the value of the profession and the photographers who share th...e same accreditation.

Of course, the journey never ends and I still hope to bring you ever better photos!



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) AIPP accredited and environment nature photographer professional science sport wildlife Wed, 18 Mar 2015 10:01:33 GMT
Capturing Great Motorsports Photographs Few sporting events match the excitement of motor racing. From the spectacle of speed to the frenzied activity of pit crews, there is plenty of drama to capture over the course of a race event. Capturing it effectively can be challenge, so here are some tips I have learned along the way.

1. Research the event and the location

It goes without saying that good photos always come from an understanding of your subject. Motorsports event are no different. You need to understand the nuances of the event that you are capturing. You need to understand the race format, the dynamics, the vehicles and personalities involved. Do the vehicles skid, lean or slide in certain areas? Do they brake hard coming into a certain corner? How is the race organised and conducted? Experience has shown that free practice and qualifying sessions are the best time to capture individual photographs of teams, drivers and riders. This is when they are at their most focused to produce the fast lap times needed to secure a grid spot for race day. It is also when there is the greatest separation between the vehicles on track, allowing you produce clean, uncluttered images.

Race circuits tend to vary so make sure you identify good photo locations early. You don't want to be stuck in a bad spot on race day when there is a long walk to an alternative location. Long flowing corners, hairpins and elevation changes tend to work well for circuit racing. For off road racing, choose muddy or dusty areas where the vehicles slide as they try to keep traction. Just be prepared that with an increasing emphasis on safety, good shooting areas are often limited by crash barriers, fencing and stand off. A long lens comes in handy for this, otherwise, work around the obstacle.

2. Capture the drama

Photography is all about capturing a moment a telling a story. You need to be able to link the action on track to the wider event. For example, the race winner passing the chequered flag. The tricky part is that these types of photographs are the most difficult to capture and require good planning and the ability to weave a narrative visually. It is something that I am still learning, so don't worry too much if you don't manage this in your first few event.

3. Equipment

As much as I hate to say it, motorsports photography for the most part requires expensive gear. Especially if you plan on capturing circuit racing where barriers and separations are put in plan between the track and spectators. So take your longest focal length lens to an event and smaller general purpose lens to handle close up action like a pit walk. A flash also comes in handy to fill in the shadows produced on bright, contrasty days. I generally use lenses of a focal length of 300mm and a above for capturing on track action. If you can manage it, a 70-200mm zoom lens is usually a good starting point.

4. Shutter speed

The speeds involved in motor racing demand a high shutter speed to capture the action. Particularly for motorcycle racing.
 Start with a shutter speed of 1/1250 to freeze the action and work from there. For vehicles moving towards you, you can drop your shutter speed to 1/500. Don't be afraid to set your ISO relatively high. Most digital cameras now can handle high ISO settings and still produce very clear, noise free shots. The benefit of a high shutter speed is that you can capture action nearly invisible to the naked eye, including wheel lockups, motorcycle chatter, skidding and debris. A high shutter speed also allows you to handhold the camera, bringing me to my next and final tip.

5. Panning

While many photographers love to swear by the use of monopods, I think an effective handholding and panning technique produces better results. This is because panning aids the camera’s autofocus by acquiring and tracking the subject before the shot.  So the next time you go to an event, try this technique. Set you shutter speed to 1/1250 or higher and your motor drive to high speed or ‘burst’ mode. If you can, manually set your focal point to the left or right hand side of the viewfinder, depending on which way the vehicles are travelling. This gives you sufficient trail to keep the lead vehicle in focus while the other vehicles follow behind it.  

Find an area which allows good visibility. While the vehicle is still out of good shooting range, acquire it and track it until it comes into range. When the vehicle is in range, release some shots using the high speed motor drive but do not stop tracking the vehicle until a few seconds after your final shot is released. This maintains continuity and prevents you from subconsciously altering the path of the camera and introducing unwanted ‘shake’ into the image.

Once you have developed this technique, try this next step. To give your photograph a feeling of speed, try ‘dragging’ the shutter while using the same panning technique. This involves using a slow speed of 1/125 or 1/160 and an aperture value of f11 or smaller. The result is a sharp subject and a beautifully blurred background. This effect requires a steady hand and a smooth panning technique and it generally works best on smooth flowing corners.  Be prepared for a lot of ‘throw out’ shots using this technique. If I take ten photographs usually only one or two are ‘keepers’ from the batch.   


Applying the tips will take time and practice. From experience, I found that my best pictures only came after attending several events. Just as importantly, do not forget the basic rules that always apply to photography like subject, composition and lighting. 

A good place for you to start coming to grips with motorsports photography is your local club racing meet. Most clubs get together either weekly or monthly to race at a variety of venues. Entry is usually only for a small fee and usually there is plenty of on track action, depending on the membership and organisation of the club. You are also usually relatively free to roam around the outside of the track and the pit lane. As a warning, if you intend to offer your photographs or services for commercial sale or intend to distribute your photographs, seek the permission of the race organizers first. Professional courtesy goes a long way and it will endear you to both the organizers and the participants.  

Once you have developed your technique, you can develop the confidence needed to capture good shots of larger events. If you are dead keen, you can later move to gaining full accreditation as a media member for major events like the V8 Supercars, the Formula One, the MotoGP and the Superbike World Championship.  Or if you are simply an enthusiast, you can come away with a great shot of your racing hero.



Russell Hunter


Russell Hunter Photography

T: +61(0)438 717 307





]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Canon DSLR equipment motorsports photography racing techniques Sat, 07 Mar 2015 00:44:19 GMT
2015 FIM World Superbike Championship - Photo Galleries Uploaded I have uploaded a selection of photos from the previous weekend's World Superbike round at Phillip Island. Drop by and have a look . It was a great weekend of racing.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 Australia Championship FIM Island Phillip Superbike World galleries photography photos Sun, 01 Mar 2015 04:36:37 GMT
2015 FIM World Superbike Championship The first day of round 1 of the 2015 FIM World Superbike Championship is done and dusted at Phillip Island. I managed to capture some great images and I'll be uploading these to a new gallery shortly.

Aussie rider Troy Bayliss made an appearance today in the World Superbike clas for Ducati after retiring from competitive racing in 2008. He didn't manage to complete many laps but the crowd will be looking forward to seeing more of him tomorrow. 

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 Bayliss FIM Troy championship superbike world Fri, 20 Feb 2015 07:34:09 GMT
20% Discount Offer With a new racing season kicking off, I'll be offering 20% off across all of my motorsports images. This includes individual prints, canvases, frames and art blocs.

Be quick as the offer only lasts until 19 February, 2015.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Discount images motorsports offer Fri, 13 Feb 2015 22:13:22 GMT
QLD AIPP Hair of the Dog 2015 Day 2 Today was another great day at the Hair of the Dog conference. I was fortunate to sit through two fantastic presentations by Benjamin Von Wong, a very talented fine art photographer from Canada. I highly recommend checking out his work and his elaborate pre and post production techniques. This was capped off by a dual presentation by Wayne Radford and Rob Heyman on the fundamentals of 'classic' portrait photography. All in all it was a great day of learning.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 AIPP Brisbane Dog Hair Queensland conference of photography the Sun, 08 Feb 2015 11:29:56 GMT
QLD AIPP Hair of the Dog 2015 I attended day one of the Queensland AIPP's Hair of Dog photography conference in Brisbane today. It was a great day and I was able to attend some inspiring seminars by Australian Sports Photographer of the Year Matt Palmer and Australian Commercial Photographer of the Year William Long.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 2015 AIPP Dog HOTG Hair Queensland conference of photography the Sat, 07 Feb 2015 09:12:58 GMT
Canon’s 100mm f2.8L IS USM Macro Lens in Review Canon’s 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens leads the class in combining the rugged quality of an ‘L’ series lens with stunning macro shooting capabilities. With a starting price of around $AUS 1000, it is still a relatively expensive specialist lens compared to its nearest rivals. But it packs a lot of punch and in my view it’s much better value and more versatile than its larger sibling the 180mm f/3.5 L IS USM Macro Lens.

The first thing you will notice when picking up the 100mm f/2.8 IS USM Macro Lens is that unlike its other ‘L’ series cousins, the body is made of a hardened polymer plastic as opposed to the metal that is typically seen on other ‘L’ bodies. Despite my initial concerns this polymer construction has proven to be rugged and capable of withstanding the rigours of a professional shooting environment. It also comes with a significant weight benefit compared to my other ‘L’ lenses. Dust sealing features at the base of the lens giving it a weather sealed capability when combined with Canon’s higher end DSLR bodies. I haven’t tested the lens in very poor weather conditions but it certainly holds up to light rain and splashing.

Three switches on the side of the lens allow you to toggle manual and automatic focus, activate the stabilisation mode which claims a three stop shot shooting advantage and set the automatic focusing distance. For this model, the stabilisation mode features a unique ‘hybrid stabilisation’ capability to cater for the sensitive vertical and lateral movements which can throw out a macro shot. Another unique feature of this lens is the textured plastic that the lens hood is made from. Compared to smooth plastic seen on Canon’s other lenses it doesn’t scratch and scuff nearly as badly. This is something I’d like to see Canon introduce on its other lenses.

So what do you get that set this lens apart from the cheaper competition? Well most importantly, it is the 1:1 shooting ratio that it produces. This means that your macro subject is replicated on your sensor at its visible ‘through the lens’ size (optical effects in other lenses generally apply a reduction). This means that a very small object like an insect or a flower can fill the frame and be rendered in stunning detail. The focusing system is fast and quiet, as you would expect from an ‘L’ series lens. The image stabilisation system incorporating elements of ‘hybrid stabilisation’ works well and can compensate for the shooter’s natural vertical and lateral jitteriness that typically puts small subjects out of frame. Sharpness towards the edges of the frame at f/2.8 is relatively good but improves once your move into the middle of the aperture range (this is where you’ll be shooting most of your shots anyway).

Now here is the tricky part. As a macro lens, the focusing plane on the 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens is paper thin. To render small subject like insects in focus you will need to use relatively small apertures of f/8 and above.  This means that you’ll need lots of light or flash, a high ISO setting, a tripod and at times a combination of all of the above to produce good results. So I’ll leave by saying the 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens is a trickier lens than most to master effectively. But the results are well worth the effort.

So insect and flower shots come spring to mind immediately when thinking of a macro lens. So what else can you use the 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens for? I’ve found a niche use for the lens shooting small products for my clients. For the home user who may sell items online, the lens is ideal at providing the extra clarity and appeal detail needed to market and sell items effectively. Portraits are also a possible with the lens but be careful to avoid highlighting natural skin imperfections and blemishes with the 1:1 image magnification. If you are left without an alternative, landscapes are also a possibility although the focal length isn’t terribly practical.

So to sum it all up, the 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens can provide a lot of fun and add a new dimension to your shooting possibilities. Macro photography is a world in itself. Although it’s tricky to master, there is plenty of reward to be had with this lens. If you are keen macro photographer, you should consider stepping up to this lens if you haven’t already done so. If you can afford it and just want another fun lens the 100mm f/2.8L IS USM macro lens comes highly recommended.


Russell Hunter

Russell Hunter Photography

T: +61 (0)438 717 307

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Mon, 26 Jan 2015 07:03:31 GMT
Canon’s 24-105mm f4.0L IS USM Lens Quick Review Canon ‘L’ series lenses are synonymous with quality. But this quality often comes with a high price tag. Fortunately Canon’s 24-105mm f4.0 L IS USM Lens is one of the most affordable and best value lenses in the professionally orientated ‘L’ range. With new prices starting at $AUS 909 and plenty of good quality second hand units available, it’s relatively easy to pick up a bargain. I’ve had my 24-105mm for a couple of months now and I’ll say that it is by far one of my favourite and most versatile lenses.

If you are stepping up to the 24-105mm the first you will notice is the build quality. Combining a tough metal body and dust sealing around the base, you are unlikely to break this lens in a hurry. The zoom extension mechanism and manual focusing ring operate smoothly and fluidly allowing you to accurately frame and focus your shots. Although I rarely use manual focus, I’ve found the system to be very accurate and easy to use when combined with a 5D Mark II body. A handy feature is the IS or ‘Image Stabilization’ system built into the lens and activated by a switch on the side.  Canon claims that you can get a three stop advantage with your shots in low light conditions with the system (meaning you can hold a lower shutter speed or a smaller aperture without introducing camera shake). Having used the lens in low light conditions, I would tend to settle for a more modest one or two stop advantage with the system. It is however a great feature and I seldom turn it off.

I’ve used my 24-105mm for portraits, landscapes and action shots so far. Wide open at f/4.0 the lens produces a very pleasing bokeh useful for portrait shoots (bokeh is the background and foreground blurring that occurs when a lens’s aperture is at its widest setting). So if you shoot portraits or simply want better photos of the kids this lens is for you. Color and contrast are excellent throughout the range making this an excellent landscape lens. At small apertures I've found the lens to maintain excellent sharpness up to f/16 with some deterioration noticeable at f/22. Although landscape specialists may prefer a wide angle prime lens, the 24-105mm makes for a perfect travel lens allowing you combine portrait and landscape capabilities in a single unit. If you want to shoot macro there is a reasonable macro ability built into the lens but Canon’s aftermarket extension tube will improve results. I am fortunate to own a specialist macro lens so this is one area where I haven't properly tested the 24-105mm's capabilities.

So would I recommend the lens to someone wishing to step up a ‘L’ series lens? You bet and you certainly won’t want to turn back. There is nothing this lens can’t be used for. Considering that the nearest competitors to the 24-105mm in the ‘L’ range are nearly twice the price, this lens offers quality and versatility unmatched in its class. It’s one of my favourite lenses and one that should find a use in every photographer's kit bag. 


Russell Hunter

Russell Hunter Photography

T: +61 (0)438 717 307

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Canon equipment lenses photography review Fri, 02 Jan 2015 00:11:49 GMT
Happy 2015! I hope everyone had a safe and happy New Year! Thank you for all your support over the course of 2014 and I look forward to bringing you an even better 2015.



]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) cameras photography Wed, 31 Dec 2014 21:56:19 GMT
Canon EOS 7D DSLR in Review Although it’s now a few years old, Canon’s EOS 7D DSLR punches above its weight in providing a cost effective entry point into the world of professional DSLR cameras. I had the pleasure of owning a 7D for several years and I cannot recommend it highly enough to those looking to take a step up to a professional grade DSLR. So what do you get for your money and how does the 7D perform in the real world?

For starters, you get an impressive 18 megapixel APS-C sensor coupled with a 19 point autofocus system. You also get a 100 per cent coverage viewfinder as opposed to a cropped or limited viewfinder. This means that you can accurately choose which elements you want to include in your final image without having to guess the correct framing (some test reports indicate that the coverage is not a true 100 per cent, but I found it to be close enough).  To make use of the 19 point autofocus system you can choose between a one shot, an AI based focusing mode and continuous servo driven focusing mode.  I rarely take my cameras out of the continuous AI servo drive mode and I can attest from wildlife to sports, the 7D focused quickly and accurately in all but the harshest of conditions. By harsh, I usually mean high contrast environments featuring bright sunlight and atmospheric interference.

 In AI Servo focusing mode the 7D cleverly recognises what type of lens is attached and attempts to make focusing adjustments based on the predictions of where the subject is likely to be when the shutter opens. It’s a good system but it’s not fool proof and sometimes it pays to manually select your focal point to help in framing a shot correctly and achieving correct focal balance. The 19 focal points are tightly grouped within the viewfinder and allow you to accurately select single or multiple focal points. You are also able to select a cluster of focal points through spot AF selection and zone AF selections. All in all, it’s a good system that provides plenty of functionality to aid in the correct focusing and framing of shots.

Of course, all those megapixels and focal functions count for little when you don’t have an effective metering system on your camera to allow for proper shot exposure. Canon’s 7D employs a highly effective 63 zone metering system that accounts for focus, colour and luminance in a series of complex calculations. To utilise this effectively, you can choose between the four standard metering modes. These modes are shared across the Canon DSLR range.  I can say that after thousands of images, the system is very accurate. Very rarely were my shots outside of acceptable exposure ranges even after dialling in correct exposure compensation.

The standard ISO range on the 7D covers 100-6400 ISO with an option to expand this further. Noise is well controlled between the ISO ranges of 100 to 800. A bit of noise starts to creep in at ISO 800 while ISO 3200 and above presented an ‘emergency only’ option in my opinion. This makes the 7D a good performer in low light but not as good as the 5D series and the 1D series DSLRs. To avoid using the higher ISO settings on the 7D you need only employ a tripod or other stabilisation in low light conditions, but I understand this is not always an option. In such a case, post production noise reduction measures are usually more than enough to cope with any residual noise the 7D introduces at the higher ranges.

So what kind of images can the 7D produce? Without getting too bogged down in the nitty-gritty, some of the best in my opinion. Sharpness, resolution and colour are very well managed. Compared with images produced by my 5D Mark II and my 1D Mark IV, the 7D appears to give little away to all but the most discerning eye. A close zoom in does  however reveal a drop in sharpness and finite image detail for the 7D compared to the other two bodies. But this can be expected given the price difference between the three cameras. It is certainly not a huge disadvantage.

Two unique features on the 7D help make an already good camera a stand out performer in my opinion. The first is the inbuilt electronic dual level axis while the second is the integrated speedlite transmitter built into the 7D’s flash system. The electronic level produces a display on the camera’s LCD screen which shows the horizontal roll and pitch of the camera relative to the horizon. I’m a bit sceptical of gimmicky camera functions, but this is a very useful feature when setting the camera up for landscape and architectural shoots as it avoids generating skew horizon lines and leading edges in your images. It’s a shame this feature hasn’t made its way onto Canon’s other cameras.

The integrated speedlite transmitter is the second stand out feature. By using the 7D’s inbuilt flash as a trigger, the camera can control multiple off camera EX 430 II or EX 580 II flashes. For those who have yet to experiment with the use of off camera flash this feature provides a functional starting point without having to delve in to the sometimes very expensive world of aftermarket wireless flash transmitters. If you only have a single external flash, the 7D’s built in flash unit can still act as the master flash while controlling the external slave unit.

The only downside to the speedlite triggering mechanism is that it operates line of sight and is sometimes susceptible to harsh lighting when employed outdoors.  I did however test the system extensively indoors and I found it to work very well providing off camera flash triggering during standard studio shoots and indoor architectural shoots. In all fairness, external speedlite setups can cost a fortune, so the inclusion of this system on the 7D is a real bonus and provides great functionality for the average and even the advance user.

Build wise, the 7D is solid as you would expect from a professionally orientated body. Magnesium alloy is used in the construction of the external housing while weather sealing is integrated into the controls and buttons. I used the 7D in both rain and dusty conditions and found it to be more than capable of standing up to the rigours of daily use and tough conditions.  The 3 inch LCD display is flush mounted to the back of the unit and provides and clear and detailed display which I consider to be a vast improvement over Canon’s older generation of camera LCD displays (I use my previous 1D Mark III as a comparison point). In the field the 7D fits snuggly in your hands and is comfortable to use for long stretches when combined with most standard and medium focal length lenses. If you are lucky enough to use super telephoto lenses you may want to consider using the 7D’s aftermarket battery grip to provide an extra counterweight to the lens and an easier transition to vertical shooting.

The 7D also comes with high definition video function which is an improvement on the systems seen on the older 5D Mark II. I’m not one for taking extensive video so I won’t delve into a review of this function on this occasion. It suffices to say that the 7D is often employed in professional video applications, so it is more than capable of delivering for the average user.

The 7D is a fantastic camera and I hope Canon chooses to keep it in its line up. With current prices around the $AUS 1000 mark, the 7D provides a big punch as well as some useful additional features befitting a professional level DSLR. It’s well worth the price and you won’t be disappointed.


Russell Hunter Photography

T: +61 (0)438 717 307

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Canon DSLR cameras equipment review Sat, 20 Dec 2014 07:02:25 GMT
Travel Photography Packing Essentials So you’ve planned and paid for the big trip. The airfares have been organised, the accommodation has been booked and you’ve planned your itinerary to take in all the landmarks. So what equipment do you need to pack to bring home great travel photos?

Firstly, try and determine what types of photos you are going to be able to take. Many people leave on trips with fantastic expectations, only to find that their expectations don’t materialise into great photo taking opportunities. In Africa, I’ve come across countless tourists on safari who are disappointed that they didn’t get a prime photo opportunity with a leopard or other African big cat. What they failed to realise is that by setting the bar so high and trying to capture the African bush’s most elusive animals, they missed dozens of great opportunities amongst the more common species. The same applies for landmark and landscape photography. Don’t be so distracted by the pursuit of perfection that you miss opportunities right in front of you.

So ask yourself, are you going to be close or far away to your subjects? Are your subjects elusive or easily accessible? Do you need a permit to photograph at certain locations? Determining what types of photos you can realistically take will let to choose the right equipment to bring along. The key to remember is that luxury adds weight. A heavy zoom lens or an extra macro lens that you are unlikely to use will become a burden to you later on. By the same token, a shortage of essentials like memory cards could have you paying inflated prices for replacements in tourist traps.

So here’s what you’ll need equipment wise as a bare minimum. Of course you’ll need your camera and a compact backup would be even better. Then you’ll need all your charging cables and suitable adapters. You can’t afford to leave these out and there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to recharge your camera because you don’t have a European plug adapter! The next crucial thing is memory. Bring lots! It’s much easier to delete photos than to have to forgo opportunities because of a lack of memory space. Lens wise, on most trips you will suffice with just two lenses. A general purpose 24-70mm zoom lens will let you capture portraits, landscapes and even small macro subjects with the right technique. For the subjects further away, like animals that you may encounter on a safari, a general 70-300mm zoom lens will come in handy. These are usually small and light enough to stash in a day bag and they offer great versatility. Bring a flash unit if you don’t already have one attached to you camera. Remember in some places, especially museums and holy sites, flash photography is strictly prohibited, so always check first. And don’t forget that these items may also need their own batteries.

Many photography guides say that a tripod is an essential piece of travel photography equipment. I tend to disagree unless you are a dead set landscape photography fanatic and perfectionist. Tripods are often heavy and cumbersome and in many areas you are not allowed to use them.  I’ve found that on many trips, I can get by without a tripod, providing I use a substitute. A useful substitute for a tripod is the ‘Gorrillapod’, a small collapsible tripod with moveable legs which was released onto the market a few years ago. The ‘Gorillapod’ can be shaped and placed on anything to stabilise your camera, making it useful for any number of situations. It is also small and can be comfortably carried in a day pack and set up quickly without any fuss.

The final items that you will need are a cleaning kit and a day bag to carry your camera as you travel around. This is can easily be put together with some soft cloths and an ordinary back pack but a specialist camera bag sometimes works better. A few plastic bags also come in handy to keep your camera and memory cards dry during bad weather.  The last thing you want is a ruined camera or damaged memory cards. Depending on the length of your trip, you may want to consider packing a laptop to process your images. On shorter trips however, I often forgo this extra weight in favour of a specialist back up device.

So you’ve got all your stuff packed and you’re on the way. The last thing to remember is to take care of your gear and yourself. Don’t leave your stuff unattended and always be aware of your surroundings. If you do not have specialist camera insurance, an overseas trip is probably a good time to start. Many travel insurance packages will not cover camera gear above a certain value.

Take care to note that cameras may identify you as a tourist. Be sure to respect local customs when it comes to photographing new areas and people. People may not appreciate having their photo taken and some areas surrounding government buildings and facilities are often strictly off limits. If you are unsure, consult a travel guide. If you still aren’t sure, ask a local, your travel guide or the front desk of your hotel. I’ve always found that many locals will go out of their way to assist a foreigner, even if you’re presence arouses some curiosity. Just be polite and ask first. The rest is up to you!


Russell Hunter

Russell Hunter Photography

T: +61 (0)438 717 307

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) equipment photography travel Thu, 11 Dec 2014 06:31:29 GMT
Unpacking Shutter Speed As implied by the name, your camera’s shutter speed determines the amount of time that it takes your cameras shutter to open and close. It is usually displayed as a fraction, for example 1/40 of a second. This opening and closing plays an important role in determining the amount of light that is able to penetrate through the camera and reach the sensor (or the film if you still use it). As a result, it is the cameras primary control and the most important in determining image capture quality. After all, your focus may be perfect but it’s no good if you have underexposed the subject by not allowing enough light to enter the camera body. 

As a rule, the higher the shutter speed the greater the ability of the camera to freeze action. The slower the shutter speed the brighter the subject but the more likely that the subject or image will ‘blur’. This reciprocal relationship means that you need balance your available light the shutter speed to achieve the results that you want.

I’ll leave you with two general guidelines to follow when setting shutter speed. The first is known as the ‘sunny sixteen’ rule. This rule outlines that if camera is set to an aperture value of f/16 on a sunny day, the correct shutter for a good exposure is the reciprocal of the ISO value that you are using. So, if you are using 100 ISO, you need a shutter speed of 1/100 of a second and so on. The second rule is known as the focal length rule. I prefer to call it a guideline as it tends to break down. This guideline outlines that in order to freeze a subject, your shutter speed must equate to the focal length of your lens. So if you are using a 24-70mm lens, you’ll need at least a shutter speed of 1/80 of a second to freeze your subject. A word of caution however, the focal rule tends to break down once the focal length of your lens exceeds 100mm. So if you are using a 300mm zoom, you’ll need to calculate what shutter speed to use by another method.

No other parameter is more important in determining the ability of a camera to capture an image effectively. So play around with your shutter speed to see how it affects an image. Try shooting static objects and then progress to moving objects. Shoot in bright and dark conditions to see what kinds of shutter speeds can be achieved. Adjust your ISO to ‘push’ these speeds. You need to understand the relationships at play and experimentation is the quickest way to learn. 


Russell Hunter Photography

T: +61 (0)438 717 307


]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) cameras equipment photography shutter speed techniques Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:46:21 GMT
Understanding Aperture  

A cameras aperture setting is perhaps one of the most counterintuitive camera settings. I find that it is where new photographers have the most difficulty. Breaking it down, your cameras aperture setting determines the relative opening width of your lens and conversely how much light your lens can let into the camera body (it’s more technical than this but I’ll keep it simple). This width is expressed an ‘f-value’ or on some models of camera as an ‘Av’ or aperture value. Under this system the smaller the f-value is the wider the opening of the lens. Conversely, the larger the f-value the smaller the optical opening of the lens is. So an f-value of f/2.8 lets in twice as much light as an f-value of 5.6.

Now here is the tricky part. As well as dictating how much light enters the camera, your f-value also determines the focal distance or how much the camera can ‘see’ in front of and behind the subject (the subject being the ‘focal point’). This is called the ‘depth of field’. Small aperture values like f/2.8 give your lens a wide opening, allowing plenty of light in but giving you a relatively narrow or short depth of field. You can see this as a soft blurring of the background in a photograph. When you use a large aperture value like f/16 you gain a greater depth of field in front of and behind the subject. At the same time however, you diminish the amount of light that is able to enter the camera.

So with this in mind, here are two tips for managing your aperture settings to best effect. Remember that while a small aperture value allows plenty of light into the camera it does so at the expense of depth of field. So you’ll need to be careful when focusing to ensure that your subject remains sharp. For example, if you take a close up portrait of a face using f/2.8 at distance of 2-3 metres using a standard 24-70mm zoom lens, you will need to be careful to ensure that the key features like the eyes are in focus. Otherwise, the short depth of field risks softening the critical features and ruining the image. Illustrating this, in pet photos we don’t want to see the nose in sharp detail, we want to see the eyes. I have found that while a ‘wide open’ image shot at f/2.8 looks fantastic when focused correctly, anything less than perfect focusing usually consigns the image to the recycle bin.

To counter the risks of sloppy focusing when taking portraits, I usually compromise with an aperture value of f/4 of f/5.6 to make the facial features appear sharp (unless I opt for a creative effect). It still provides plenty of pleasing background blur while giving the image enough leeway in the event that it is anything less than perfectly focused.  Just be aware that longer lenses tend to magnify the depth of field. An aperture value of f/5.6 on a 300mm zoom lens will still give a relatively short depth of field at distance compared to f/5.6 on a 24mm wide angle lens. For specialist lenses like macro lenses, relatively large aperture values like f/16 provide can provide wafer thin depth of field.

While the quality of lenses has improved astronomically over the years, I still find that most lenses have a ‘sweet spot’ or an area where the sharpest images are produced at both ends of the f-value. So when you want lots of depth of field, trying shooting at f/16 instead of f/22 to give images a little more sharpness around the edges. By the same token, instead using f/2.8 try using f/3.2 instead. Due to optical effects you’ll hardly know the difference in terms of depth of field, but the image quality will be noticeable, particularly around the edges where lower grade lenses tend to lose some detail and the effects of fringing.

The easiest way to come to grips quickly with your cameras aperture control is to experiment using this simple method. Line up a row of bottles one after the other. Set your camera to aperture priority mode or ‘Av’ mode and choose a single ISO setting. You will need to use a tripod to avoid introducing camera shake. Using the first bottle as your focal point, take a photograph using an f/2.8 aperture value. Repeat this, each time increasing the aperture value. Have a look at the photos once they have been developed and take note how the depth of field changes as you move up the aperture range and how your shutter speed also slows relative to the aperture setting. Continue experimenting, this time using a model like a pet and take note of how important the focal point becomes.

Mastering your aperture setting is easier than it sounds. But once you have the basics down you can unlock a whole new dimension of creativity. 


Russell Hunter

Russell Hunter Photography

T: +61 (0)438 717 307

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) aperture cameras equipment photography Sun, 16 Nov 2014 23:25:32 GMT
The Photographer's Trinity: Subject, Composition and Light When we open a National Geographic magazine we all know that every photograph featured within its pages is special. So what is it that distinguishes these ‘perfect pictures’ from the ones that you and I take? Usually it all comes down to three simple elements or what can be referred to as the photographer’s magic trinity. They are the elements of subject, composition and light. How these elements are managed distinguishes the true professional from the happy amateur.

It seems obvious that every photograph requires a subject. But how you manage and exploit your subject within the picture is the key.  Photographers like Ansell Adams optimized this for without his subject, in his case dramatic landscapes, the photograph would never have achieved the same effect. The same can be said for Steve McCurry’s mind blowing portrait of the ‘Afghan Girl’ taken for National Geographic in the 1980s. The most common errors that photographers make when approaching the element of subject is clarity and interest value.  Bad photographs tend to have subjects which are either not clear to the viewer at first glance or are confused in the clutter of the photo. To overcome this simply pick what you want to photograph, get close and eliminate all the unnecessary elements so that your subject ‘pops’ from the frame. Minimalist photographs are usually the ones that are the most striking, so get rid of everything in the frame that detracts from the subject. Simplicity is the aim.

Making your subject interesting is the next challenge.  A common excuse that we here is that we either don’t get to travel to Africa or South America like the National Geographic photographers or we don’t have the $12,000 lens to allow us to capture the perfect shot.  The fact remains that the most interesting shots are usually of the most mundane items which are then exploited for a creative effect.  A bucket of paint being splashed, a fly sitting on a piece of fruit or an old shed in the morning mist make for fascinating subjects and usually we don’t have to go far to find these. The trick is to be creative and make the ordinary appear extraordinary.  

Once you have decided on your subject your composition is the next critical step to a good photograph.  Good composition draws the viewer’s eye into the frame. It also holds the viewer’s attention and makes them look beyond the apparent elements. To do this offset your subject in the frame and do not make it appear absolutely symmetrical (although this in itself can be a useful composition tool at times). Avoid having the horizon running through the centre of the frame and avoid large expanses of dead ground or uninteresting fillers like flat water or building edges that run parallel to the square edges of the frame. A useful comparison is to think of how Renaissance era artists distributed the primary and secondary elements in their paintings. Da Vinci and Michelangelo's paintings where never square.  The subjects were offset from the center and the horizon often appeared in the upper third of the painting. Moving forward to a more contemporary comparison, Steve McCurry ‘Afghan Girl’ photograph does not sit square in the center of the frame. The girl is offset slightly from the center with her head appearing in the upper half of the frame. It is this distribution which achieved the magic formula of composition for artists through the ages.

Any conversation with a photographer invariably brings up the subject of light. It something most photographers spend a large part of their time obsessing over. It is also the final element which makes a photograph.  Arguably you can take a picture in any lighting condition, so long as there is enough light to reach your camera’s film or sensor to achieve a correct exposure. But certain types of light work better than others and what you are looking for is light that expresses the full tonal range of an image. That is, you want light that expresses every variation between the lightest and darkest shades of black and white in the photograph. The light which produces these tonal ranges is invariably ‘soft’. This includes early morning and late afternoon sunlight that produces a soft golden hue and texture enhancing shadows as well as sunlight shining through overcast clouds producing a uniform fill to a subjects shadow area. The ‘strong’ lights which tend to mask these tonal ranges are invariably midday sun and artificial lighting produced by strong floodlights or even incorrectly calibrated flash. What this strong light creates is an absence of tonal definition, so you either get black or pure white in your photograph with no colour latitude and the image ends up looking flat and uninteresting.

Despite this, even harsh lighting can be used to produce stunning photographs that exhibit striking variations in contrast. The trick is to ensure that the light is controlled so that it creates the correct effect. You can do this by managing the direction of the light when you are outside photographing or you can manipulate the light through the use of a few simple tools like reflectors and artificial light sources like strobes and flashes. Managing the direction of the light is however a more fundamental technique and something which can be applied in any lighting situation, particularly during the day. Light angled at 45 degrees to the subject generally produces the most pleasing results, providing gentle shadow and soft filler in areas like the eyes. Ninety degree light produces dramatic shadow and texture useful for emphasizing the details of a subject. Light positioned directly in front of the subject generally produces the least dramatic results and washes out the shadow detail and texture. For portraits it can also overblow skin tones and skin imperfections in a subject. Light behind the subject does the opposite and causes all the details to be lost in shadow. ‘Behind the subject’ lighting can produce some striking silhouettes, particularly at sunset or dawn, but it is a lighting technique that needs to be managed carefully according to subject.

So there you have it. Photography is all about the combination of three simple elements that offer endless possibilities. The important thing for the photographer to remember is that these elements are never ‘perfected’ in a single shot. Rather they are applied in any number of ways to help achieve the ‘perfect shot’, an image that makes you stand back and say wow.


Russell Hunter

Russell Hunter Photography

T: +61 (0)438 717 307

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) photography Fri, 07 Nov 2014 01:23:32 GMT
Choosing the Right Camera With advances in digital technology there is a now a bedazzling array of cameras to choose from. But amongst this array which is the right choice for you? When looking at consumer cameras, buyers are generally presented with two options: digital compact cameras and digital SLR or ‘single lens reflex’ cameras. The first obvious difference between compact cameras and SLRs is size but don’t let that fool you as there is often a cross over between the two.

Digital compact cameras are your camera of choice if you want something that is small, lightweight and can give you great pictures in a variety of environments without having to make constant adjustments. To this end, most compact cameras now carry a variety of pre-sets which allow you to take good photos whether you are out on the town with your friends or visiting a famous monument overseas.  So look for features like face recognition, night and landscape modes on the camera. While features like inbuilt GPS may sound like a good idea, they are often simply gimmicks used to lure buyers, as most of us don’t venture that far off the beaten path to need to know where a particular picture was taken. 

The next step is to make a choice from the dozens of models available from Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax and other brands. There is no winning brand, despite what the manufacturers want you to believe.  It is however important that you choose something that fits in your hand, has a clear display screen and is easy and intuitive to use, so ask the sales person to start the camera up for you.  You also want something that feels sturdy as it is likely to encounter many bumps and scrapes as you carry with you. If you are looking for something to experiment with down the track, ask your camera salesperson to show you some of the higher end compact cameras which allow you to control parameters like shutter speed and aperture.

So what about SLR cameras? Isn’t that what the pros use? Sure most pros use SLRs but the good news is that consumer digital SLRs are now easy enough for most people to use. The benefit of an SLR is that you are given the ability to control vital parameters like shutter speed, aperture and ISO, all while looking directly through the lens. Controlling these parameters is vital if you want to start taking your photography to the next level. You also have the ability to switch lenses and interchange a variety of accessories like the flash, allowing you add zoom, wide angle or even macro capability to your camera down the track. The downside is that SLRs are quite expensive in comparison to their compact counterparts. They are also heavier and bulkier and sometimes lack the many of the user friendly features seen on compact cameras.

Like their smaller cousins, digital SLR come in a variety of formats and are made by most camera manufacturers. Canon and Nikon have long been the SLR camera stalwarts and both have an enormous array of accessories for their cameras but smaller companies like Pentax, Olympus, Sony and Pentax are catching up. When choosing an SLR, it is important that you choose a camera that is comfortable and durable, easy to use and has a clear viewfinder as this is what you will be looking through to take your photos. I also recommend that if you want to start taking your photography seriously that you select a camera with a fully manual mode and that you save some money for purchasing good quality lenses.

So, I’ve got my camera, am I guaranteed photo success? Well that depends. As a hard and fast rule, it is not the camera which makes the photo, it’s the person. To this end, you can have a cheap compact camera or a top of the line SLR, but neither will guarantee you success.  That’s called the photographer’s eye.


Russell Hunter

Russell Hunter Photography

T: +61 (0)438 717 307




]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Canon DSLR equipment photography Sun, 02 Nov 2014 21:53:31 GMT
Welcome! Welcome to my new website. I am still uploading content but I hope to get everything up and running shortly. Cheers, Russell.

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) Thu, 30 Oct 2014 22:07:15 GMT
Hands on with Canon's 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM Lens I was only able to get my hands on the 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens for a few hours at the MotoGP courtesy of Canon Professional Services. So this review is fairly brief and only offers a couple of first impressions. Aimed at professionals and wealthy amateurs, the 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens is best suited to wildlife and sport photography. For the short time I had it, it excelled at capturing the fast action of the MotoGP. The older 600mm f/4.0L IS USM lens was undoubtedly no slouch but the new lens is impressive.

The first noticeable aspect of the lens is that it weighs remarkably little for such a big piece of optical equipment.  It weighed less than my 500mm f/4.0L IS USM lens and the Canon technicians assured me that the weight savings over its predecessor were significant. As a result, the lens can be handheld but its overall length makes it an award undertaking. At the MotoGP, strong wind ensured that my unit remained firmly attached to a monopod.

Canon has moved some of the switches further back on the unit to avoid unexpected contact during shooting. This is a good improvement as I often trigger the autofocus and manual focus switches inadvertently on my 500mm f/4.0L IS USM lens while handholding.  As would be expected, the rest of body remains standard Canon L lens fare and more than capable of handling abuse in the field. It is weather sealed and can handle rain with suitably sealed Canon DSLR units.

The switches would be familiar to Canon users with exception to the new three mode stabilisation options. I only used the standard “1” stabilisation mode providing stabilisation in all directions, so I won’t go into detail about the other modes. It suffices to say the stabilisation on the 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens matched, if not exceeded, the stabilisation on my 500mm f/4.0L IS USM lens.

Shooting the MotoGP, the autofocus pick up on the lens was excellent. My 500mm f/4.0L IS USM sometimes fails to catch fast moving objects like motorcycles but this lens focused accurately and quickly every time. I did have the lens during overcast conditions, so this would have assisted the autofocus, but it would be interesting to see how the autofocus performs in high contrast situations. Needless to say it was quick and accurate. Image quality was impressive, as would be expected from such a high end lens. Detail was rendered beautifully with no obvious vignetting, barrel distortion or aberration.

Ultimately, those lucky enough to get their hands on the 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens won’t be disappointed. Its biggest advantage is the significant weight savings achieved over its predecessor 500mm f/4.0L IS USM and 600mm f/4.0L USM units. Large lenses are always a pain to lug around and Canon have done their homework. Combined with excellent image quality, quick autofocus pickup and refinements in the stabilisation modes, the 600mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens will undoubtedly be a class leader in the years to come.  

Russell Hunter Photography

T: +61 (0)438 717 307

]]> (Signed by Nature Studios) 600mm Canon L equipment lens supertelephoto Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:16:45 GMT