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Some words on My South America Experience so far

June 3rd, 2015

 
I haven’t written anything regarding my South American adventures in forever so I’m going to change that now… I won’t talk about my experiences over the last 130 or so days as that would be too much but rather what’s fresh in my mind.
 
I’ve recently finished my time in Ecuador and I’m now in Colombia. Just to keep it short, from the little experience I’ve had so far here I’ve found Colombia to be incredibly much more than the naive preconceptions that a lot of us who haven’t visited the country before have. I feel a little ashamed about that but perhaps the media has had a large influence. So far I’ve found Colombia to be blessed with a great deal of wealth (although very disproportionately distributed) and friendly and embracing people. But more on Colombia another time after I’ve enjoyed more time here.
 
Speaking of time, for anyone who is short on it but really wants to come and experience a slice of South America then in my opinion I recommend looking no further than Ecuador. Ecuador has absolutely everything. Landscapes; lush Amazonia jungle, snow capped mountains and volcanos, tropical beaches and deserts and all only within hours of driving of one another. Not to mention the Galápagos Islands although getting there involves flying. Just as varied are the climates; again within a few hours you can go from hot and humid conditions at sea level to chilly conditions in colonial towns and cities at altitudes of over 3,000m. Not only this but Ecuador will also provide a very rich cultural experience, where even in the larger cities, beautiful ladies wearing traditional dress are abundant so too are the Ecuadorian men with their long pony tales wearing their famous hats that are so synonymous with Ecuador.
 
Above all I thought the people were incredibly friendly and generous. In fact getting away from Ecuador and speaking from on a more general sense, in my experience so far over these past 130 days in South America, I have felt a strong sense of community amongst the people all over South America. I feel like people here are less greedy, consuming and judgmental, and at least in my opinion, appear to be more generally content than western society.
 
Although I didn’t think it at the time, I feel that my Ayahuasca experience has changed me and allowed me to be more conscious than ever before in my life. 7 years spent sleepwalking after being “programmed” by western society, I feel like I’ve now woken-up.
 
 

 
 

The Experience of Patagonia

February 19th, 2015

 
The first thing that comes into my mind after my experience in Patagonia is how incredibly vast the region is. It’s so big and I’m still not quite sure where its boundaries lie. To my eyes the massive area that makes up Patagonia somehow follows a sliding scale all the way from the incredibly dull to the stunningly beautiful.

 
The western spine that’s fed by the largest ice field outside of Antarctica is abundant with arguably our earth’s most impressive mountain peaks and one of the largest concentrations of glaciers in the world. Much of the eastern region is barren, dry and wind swept. This blog summarizes my visit to one of Patagonia’s most popular national parks – Torres Del Paine in Chile. I hope to provide some helpful tips for anyone visiting in future and some incentive to do so! The other most popular national park is Parque Los Glaciers in Argentina which features the massive Perito Moreno glacier (Argentina’s no. 1 natural tourist attraction) as well as what’s arguably the symbol of Patagonia; the Mt Fitz Roy range. I’ll have to leave my experiences in Argentine Patagonia for another blog post in the near future.
 
What a magical place. The thundering sounds of avalanches in the distance high above were frequently heard, both by day and by night. Such was the sound they made that at the beginning I mistook the sound for actual thunder. In between were the sounds of flowing rivers and streams with the clearest water I’ve ever seen. Towering, permanently snow-covered mountains all peaking above 2000m were never too far from sight, as were the turquoise waters of the parks many lakes. Add to this the impressive vision of the massive 23km long Grey Glacier and Grey Lake dotted with icebergs fed to the lake by the always-changing face of the glacier.
 
My favourite and most memorable experiences were during the magical twilight time of day. Condors could be seen hovering and circling high above, which added to the majesty of Torres Del Paine. Perhaps the highlight for most however was the steep climb up to the base of the Torres; a national symbol and as iconic to Chile as Uluru is to Australia. Three uniquely formed 2000m plus towers standing side by side with a turquoise glacier feed pool at their base. Being the middle of summer where the sun doesn’t set until well past 10pm and with a long walk back to camp, I was the only idiot who stuck around for the sunset. The solitude of enjoying this iconic landscape to myself at this magical time is a moment I’ll cherish for many years to come. It wasn’t without its challenges however with a long and somewhat scary trip back to camp alone in the dark forest, after my paranoia set-in with the realization of there being Pumas in the park!
 
Now for some tips. Ideally it is best to view the famous Torres at sunrise, so if you plan to visit then book well ahead in the summer peak time for a site at the Base of the Torres campsite. This will place you about 45mins away from the Torres, giving you a very achievable walk before sunrise. I unfortunately missed out and I was about a 2 1/2 hr walk away to the second closest campsite. Even better advice though is to visit the park in Autumn. The conditions are less comfortable but you will be rewarded with the colours of Autumn, more snow on the mountains and far less people. In the summer you will be surprised with how many bus loads of people arrive each day to embark on the same multi-day trek you are; definitely not a time to try and seek solitude in nature. My final tip is to not underestimate embarking on the very popular “W” or “O” multi-day treks. The shorter W trek is still approximately 100km with some steep climbs in some areas. I can tell you though it is well worth doing for the sheer fulfillment and the memorable sights that you’ll gain from it.
 
 

 
 

New Adventures in South America in 2015

December 8th, 2014

 
From the beginning of 2015 I’ll be making my way around South America and making as many images as I can along the way. Over 6 months, I’ll be travelling and seeing as much as I can of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Brazil and where I’ll be finishing up in Uruguay. I’m hoping that this solo trip will allow me to immerse myself in photography so that I can dedicate more energy towards further development and learning where I want to go in the photography world. I’m hoping to be able to completely disconnect from the distractions of our busy world so as to be able to better connect with myself and to try and instil this in my new imagery.
 
I’ll be sure to post some words and images along the way here on this blog. I hope you’ll enjoy.
 
Wishing you all a happier 2015.
 
Ric
 

AIPP 2014 Australian Landscape Photographer of the Year

September 27th, 2014

 
The annual APPA (Australian Professional Photography Awards) were recently held in Sydney and I’m deeply humbled to announce that I have been awarded with the honour of becoming the 2014 Australian Landscape Photographer of the Year by the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography). I want to send a heartfelt thank you for all the very generous, kind and thoughtful messages that I’ve received from so many special people. I also want to send an enormous thank you to the AIPP for all of the incredible amount of work that they did in organising and running the 2014 APPAs event and the excellent work that the AIPP continuously do as a whole in the interests of bettering the photography industry for all professional photographers in Australia. If you’re not a member already then I highly recommend you join. I also want to acknowledge all of the other photographers who entered this year’s APPAs and congratulate each one of them. I especially want to show my strong appreciation for the generosity of those few photographers that were kind enough to give up their time and help me prepare my entries. Finally, a big congratulations to Sheldon Pettit & Jackie Ranken – Thank you to you both for the inspiration.
 
Read the stories behind each awarded image here.
 

 
Just before I sign off, I just want to let you all know that I will soon be announcing details of a new photography tour to Patagonia in South America to take place in April 2015 with Luke Austin. Places will be strictly limited so contact us to register your interest today.
 

New Zealand South Island Experience – Sept 15-21, 2014

July 21st, 2014

 

Copyright Luke Austin

.
Join renowned landscape photographer Luke Austin and I on the jaw dropping South Island of New Zealand.
 
This tour will run for 7 action packed days  (6 nights) and will cover some of the most stunning mountain areas of the region.  The tour will concentrate on snow blanketed mountain scenes and lakes with the odd seascape and canyon along the way.  You will be provided full transportation from Christchurch, accommodation, and guidance as well as an optional exhilarating helicopter flight over the impressive snow clad mountains of the South Island. Please note: meals are not inclusive.
 
Although the tour is geared at getting out into the landscape as often as possible, when conditions are not favourable Luke and I will share “go-to” techniques, advice and information.  You are guaranteed to come away with magic images, experiences and memories.
 
Tour Price:  $1,460 AUD (20% deposit required to secure your spot)
 
* Accommodation is twin share. If you would prefer non share accommodation please state so when booking and you will be charged the non-share price of $1,995.
 
The tour is limited to a small group of approx.. 6 participants and at the time of this post only two spots remain. For further tour information, location list, and checklist please refer to the flier here.
 
Contact me to register your interest or for more information.
 

New Motion Exhibition and Book – coming in November 2014

April 21st, 2014

 
I’m very pleased to announce that I will be holding my second solo exhibition on a new project simply labelled ‘Motion’. The exhibition will present a unified body of images produced from experimentation using intentional camera movement to create non literal images possessing rich textures and light, and most importantly, images that demand interpretation. As part of the Motion project, a hard-cover coffee table book will accompany and compliment the exhibition. All images will depict the natural landscape. The project forms part of my broader vision in aiming to simplify the complicated mess that a landscape can be and focus on trying to capture space, light and textures.

The Motion exhibition and accompanying book launch will be held in Melbourne in November 2014. Details on the opening night and exhibition period dates and venue will be provided soon.

“It’s the removal of context that allows us to be free from the distraction of knowing what it is, which too often prevents us from truly seeing, and stops us from enjoying the texture of the colour, or some other quality we’ve never seen before. It also allows us to see other things to make up our own story.” David DuChemin

The project is inspired by the work of photographers such as David Baker and Steve Coleman.

 

David Baker (Milou Vision)

Copyright David Baker (Milou Vision)
 
Steve Coleman

Copyright Steve Coleman
 

Free Landscape Photography Photoshop Techniques

November 28th, 2012

   
I’ll be participating in a free Google+ Hangout session called ‘Australian Landscape Photographers Hangout’ that will occur on November 29th at 8pm AESDST and will be broadcast online over YouTube and Google+. I will add a comment to this post on the day of the event where you will also be able to watch on via a webpage without needing to login anywhere. Below is a transcript of my contributions to the session which will be a number of more advanced Landscape Photography tips. I’ve documented these in a step-by-step process to make them easy to follow. Simply click on the e-book cover below to download my transcript.
 

 
I’ve also recorded a small video of me demonstrating a practical use for one of the Landscape Photography Photoshop techniques that I share. Simply Watch the embedded video below to see it. The video is password protected so please enter ‘nali’ as the password to view it.
 

    
I hope you get something out of these resources and should you be interested in receiving more free tips and tricks then subscribe to this blog to receive good quality, helpful and best of all free information on landscape photography of Australia. I also run popular affordable One-on-One Landscape Photography Courses in the Melbourne area to get you achieving professional quality results in no time. To get you started however download the free 20 Tips and Tricks to achieving Professional Results in Landscape Photography guide to learn many of the tricks that the pros use!
    
For even more free tips and information and to receive exclusive offers, sign-up to the mailing list! Also you can subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss out on any other free info in future!
 

Alumalux – a new revolutionary medium

May 17th, 2012

 
Printing on Alumalux is now available. Allumalux is a contemporary product where the print is infused within aluminium to produce not only vivid colours and sharp detail but also, a scratch and water resistant finish that is ultra-light-weight. Useful applications for this medium include alfresco areas to add some colour and style to your home’s outdoor entertaining area. The results are incredible so feel free to contact me on how you can inspect a sample. Printed exclusively for all images here by the Fitzgerald Photo Lab and available in the following sizes: 20”, 30” and 40” on the longest side. Please contact me should you require a custom size.
 

 

 

My Top 5 Tips on how to improve your Photography

April 11th, 2012

 

The following 5 tips represent the top 5 things that have helped me the most to develop as a photographer and I continually refer to these to further my development. I hope they too can help you along your own journey.

 

1. It sounds simple but it’s true; looking at good photographs will make you a better photographer. Study images captured by the best photographers in your field.

Personally I’ve found continually looking at other photographers’ work and studying what it is that appeals to me in images that I like to have led to the most improvement in my photography. I really recommend you to be stern in which images you study – don’t study good photographs but rather only study ‘great’ photographs. A great photograph will make you stop and take notice and capture your interest. When looking at such images ask yourself the following questions:

1) What elements immediately appeal to you in the image? Is it the light? The subject? The composition? Perhaps it was the low angle viewpoint? Understand what it is that you like so much from the image and then set out to include these elements in your own work. The more images you study the more apparent trends in what you like so much become.

2) Observe the time of day that the image was captured? Was it at pre-dawn or after sunrise? Try and establish a trend and then set-out to shoot during the same times of the day

3) Observe the direction of lighting; is the light hitting the subject from the back, front or is the subject side lit?

4) What subject continually makes for a strong image?

There are numerous online sources where you can seek out great photographs but none better in my opinion than www.500px.com. Simply visit the ‘Popular’ and ‘Editors Choice’ sections and choose your respective genre (i.e. Landscapes). There is even an iPhone App that you can download so that you can be inspired whilst you’re on the go.

 

2. Only show your very best images – not just images you’re reasonably happy with but images you feel proud to show. There was once a question asked in a presentation by a successful photographer and they were asked a simple question from one of the audience members. The question was how to do you become a great photographer? The successful photographer’s answer was then just as equally simple; “never show anyone your bad photos”. I think this is very true and just very recently is something that I’ve began to do better after a recent moment when I realised that I was sharing images on social media outlets because I felt the need to keep producing images regularly and by doing so compromising on quality and ultimately compromising my reputation along the way… Don’t make the same mistake that I made and only show your very best images. If you’re in two minds or not sure about an image then such an image is just not good enough! Only show images that you’re absolutely convinced that they are a hero shot. Showing only 5 very strong images is much better than showing 8 very strong coupled with two weak images; those two weak images will greatly weaken the impact of the other eight and cause the viewer to change their perception about the quality of you as a photographer. The old golden rule still remains; quality is better than quantity.

 

3. This third rule is more applicable to Landscape Photography. In order to improve as a Landscape Photographer you need to be incredibly persistent! If you visit a scene and you’ve captured an image that you’re not quite happy with because the lighting conditions may have not been the best, then don’t settle; return to the same location until you capture an image of the same scene in amazing light. If you speak to any seasoned Landscape Photographer they will tell you that most of their trips and those painful early pre-dawn starts prove fruitless… Accept that you are not always going to come back with images to share and if you’re finding that you’re capturing a worthwhile image on each of your shoots then it’s not because you’re lucky but rather your quality expectations are not high enough! It takes years to build a collection of images that you can feel proud of and I have the upmost respect for successful landscape photographers for this very reason as I have a somewhat understanding of just how much effort has gone into producing their collection of images.

 

4. Learn as much as you can about your favoured genre of photography. It’s very true; you never stop learning and I like to think that I’m only just learning the basics in a lifelong quest to feel fulfilled. I never stop trying to learn and I quite regularly seek tuition and workshops from photographers who I deem to be among the best in Landscape Photography in my area. I love to learn more and fuel my desires to learn as much as I can about the craft of photography. I’ve met some great people along my short journey so far and I’ve found that the community of Australian Landscape Photographers to be a friendly one where we try to share knowledge to benefit one another. Identify your favourite photographers in your area and don’t be afraid to contact them about receiving some paid for knowledge sharing. Don’t expect that these photographers will just tell you everything that they know for free and instead respect that these photographers need to make a living from what they do.

 

5. Finally my last tip is to just simply get out there and shoot! Learn by doing! Stop talking about it and just do it! Achieve better results through committed action. There will be many frustrations and mistakes along the way but mistakes are another word for experience. For each failed shoot a lesson will be learnt and this is what will greatly help you become a better photographer. I’ve made my share of mistakes and I’m quite sure I’ll continue to make a few more as I get more experienced but I can tell you that I am much better for each mistake that I’ve made. For example I once left behind an L bracket that holds the camera on my tripod head in the car where I was off bound for a pre-dawn waterfall shoot . Only once I had arrived after completing the hour long trek in the dark did I realise that I forgot the L Bracket… Year’s on and I’ve never forgotten that same L bracket ever again…

 

I hope you got something out of these tips and if so I would greatly appreciate you letting me know. I would love to hear your comments.
 

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The Use of Light in Landscape Photography

March 21st, 2012

 
Landscape Photography Tips from Australian Landscape Photographer Ricardo Da Cunha
 
For more free information please download a free Landscape Photography Tips and Tricks guide.
 
Along with composition, the quality of light is perhaps the most important factor affecting the success of a landscape photograph. Whilst composition can be completely controlled, good quality light on the other hand cannot. We can however control the direction of the light and therefore use the optimum angle of light to enhance the appearance of our main subject and ultimately the success of our landscape photograph. There are four main types of lighting; top, side, front and back lighting. Consider how your envisaged scene will appear under each type of lighting and then choose which type of lighting will best portray your subject and shoot at the specific time and in the specific position to capture your subject in this light.
 
Occurring during the middle hours of the day:
 
Top Lighting
Generally speaking for landscape photography, top lighting is to be avoided as it does not cast any shadows and therefore does not convey texture, form and shape which are so important to emulate dimension in a landscape photograph. The only exception to using top lighting is when you wish to capture water at its most turquoise colour which occurs when the sun is positioned directly above.
 
Occurring leading-up to sunset and a short time after sunrise:
 
Front Lighting
Similar to top lighting front light also does not produce texture, form and shape and even worse your shadow will more than likely appear in the scene. Try and avoid this lighting in any situation.
 
Back-lighting
Back lighting is difficult to shoot in not only because of the extreme brightness between the subject and background but also because lens flare becomes an issue. If you do choose to shoot in back-lighting conditions then it’s recommended to use a lens hood to shade the top of the lens in order to prevent flare. The only exception to using back lighting in landscape photography is when you wish to create a silhouette of your subject which is only possible using back lighting.
 
Side lighting
Side lighting is the ideal light source to reveal a subject’s texture, form and shape as it casts beautiful subtle shadows to provide a sense of dimension of the subject and therefore creating a more ‘life-like’ image that the viewer can better relate to. As creating a three dimensional image is often one of the main goals of the landscape photographer, strive to capture your subject using side lighting.
 
To control the direction of light simply change where you stand and capture the image from!
 
Finally an interesting note is that shooting during the different times of year can actually produce different results under the same lighting conditions and angle. For example the colour of water is different depending not only on the angle of the sun but also the time of year. For example trying to achieve turquoise water is best achieved right in the middle of the day as the top light penetrates straight thru the water. However the same image taken at the same time in winter compared with summer will result in the water not becoming as turquoise because the sun does not completely travel overhead during the shorter winter days and instead only rises up as far as ¾ during the middle of the day. Interesting yeah?
 
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I hope you found this information helpful and I would love to hear any requests from you for any other areas of Australian Landscape Photography that you would also like to learn about.
 
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