Newsletter # 39 - 7 August 2015



Newsletter # 39 - 7 August 2015
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Newsletter from Kim Westerskov
Email: [email protected]
20 Greerton Road, Tauranga 3112, New Zealand
Phone 07-578-5138
Newsletter #39 – August 2015
2. TRIPODS – LOVE ‘EM or HATE ‘EM [Part 2]
8. “LANDSCAPES” WORKSHOP – 27th September
9. “GREAT PHOTOGRAPHY WEEKEND” – 17-18th October
Papamoa Beach two weeks ago
This newsletter goes out to many photographers in New Zealand and overseas - and to anybody who
asks to go onto the mailing list. If you know anybody who would like to be on the mailing list, please
get them to email me. It’s free and they can unsubscribe at any time, of course.
This month I’m delighted to bring to you the lovely photography
of Hazel Ellis. To accompany the photos, I invited Hazel to write
about herself and her photographic journey so far.
Hazel: “I have always been a ‘visual’ person. However I have only
recently realised and validated this. I have always been attracted
to art and the art of ‘creating’, having dabbled in many different
media over the years- a jack of all trades as they say!
I was given a camera for my 8th birthday. A Kodak Instamatic with,
of course, black and white film. I recall very excitedly taking
pictures of birds in bushes and being quite disappointed with the
results i.e. no visible bird, just leaves and twigs in a small print.
Fast forward to my 20s where I got my first SLR, and learned all
about the ‘Dark Room’. This was a great deal better nowsloshing chemicals around in the red light, and making my own
adjustments to my rather large black and white prints.
The following twenty years I was more ‘traditionally’ art driven
with canvas and paint; the camera only recording family events
and holidays.
Then about four years ago I suddenly realised that the world had
overtaken me with this thing called ‘digital age’. I had a lot of
catching up to do. I needed a huge upgrade. So I set about
choosing a new camera and enrolling on courses - the quickest
way to get anywhere, I thought.
So a ‘short’ journey has brought me to my present position;
attending some of Kim’s Workshops and in between spending
hours and literally hours [that I now have] out practicing all these
new and exciting skills, and loving it.
I have listened intently to Kim and he has made me realise that I
can apply all my artistic inclinations to photography - my camera
is now my paintbrush. All the pictures here are taken as a result
of attending Kim’s various workshops and getting out to do my
‘homework’, which has been quite the opposite of a chore.
I wonder what’s next?”
2. TRIPODS – LOVE ‘EM or HATE ‘EM? [Part 2]
Once upon a time if you needed a good solid tripod then you brought – and lugged around –
a big heavy tripod. Heavy tripods and heavy backpacks have caused many back problems for
serious photographers over the years, me included. Nowadays, there are much better
options – a wide range of high performance, light and often excellent tripods.
To say that I’ve ever loved a tripod is overstating the case, but the closest I’ve come to
“tripod love” is the relationship I’ve had for many years now with my Gitzo 1228
Mountaineer carbon fibre tripod [with a Gitzo 1275M magnesium ballhead]. This particular
model is no longer made, but a bewildering range of other Gitzo tripods are available.
Compared to the big heavy tripods I’ve used in the past [and still own], my 1228 is small and
light, quick to adjust, and will happily hold my camera still enough for a four hour night
photo. The trick is to hang something heavy from that hook at the bottom of the centre
column. The result is a smallish tripod that keeps my camera just as still as a big tripod. From
that hook I’ll hang my backpack, or diving weight belt or set of chains [which live in my van]
or anything heavy at hand – a sockful or bag of sand or rocks will do just fine.
I try to keep the weight I’m carrying to the absolute minimum. If I’m heading out and I don’t
think I’ll need my Gitzo 1228 but am not entirely sure, then I’ll take one of the tiny cheap
tripods in my collection. They take up very little space, and weigh 600-700 grams. They
don’t reach the same height as my 1228 but that’s OK. If I need extra stability I hang
something heavy with a piece of strong string [there’s always cord/string in my camera
pack] from the centre column. If I’m taking telephoto shots of the setting sun or wildlife I
may not attach the telephoto to the tripod but just rest it on top. There’s many ways of
keeping your relationship with tripods alive.
Yes, I have some BIG metal tripods too, but haven’t used them for years. The Gitzo does me
just fine. So well in fact that I may never buy another, but just keep using the 1228. It’s so
well made that it will probably outlive me. Gitzo are generally regarded as the best, but also
good are Manfrotto, Benro and Induro. Yes, you can do internet searches for which tripod to
buy, but these can take a lot of time, and many tripods look pretty much the same on your
computer screen. And if you’ve tried to figure out which camera or lens to buy next by doing
a web search, you’ll already know that this can be both time-consuming and often
frustrating – so many different opinions!
If you’re thinking of getting a new tripod, your two main options are a web search and
walking into a camera shop. Your best bet might be to do both. Cheap tripods [less than a
few hundred dollars] may not be anywhere near as good as a Gitzo or Manfrotto, but even a
cheap tripod is much better than no tripod at all. However…. if you think you’ll be in
photography for the long haul, it’s definitely worth paying more for “a good one”.
Photos from the recent workshop
Top two photos by Janet Munnings
Every now and then the clever people at Adobe develop a tool that really impresses me. I’m
already impressed [every day] with what Photoshop and Lightroom can do – my life without
Photoshop &/or Lightroom would be very different. “Content Aware Fill” was a
breakthrough that made my life much easier. Now Adobe has developed “Dehaze”. It’s so
good that it’s already one of my “go to” tools. Dehaze magically cuts through haze in
landscape photos, making it look like you took the photo in totally clear air. New Zealand air
is clearer than in many other parts of the world, but Dehaze makes photos significantly
crisper still.
Dehaze darkens shadows, enhances overall contrast, improves fine detail and increases
colour saturation. “Clarity” was good, but “Dehaze” is amazing. But they are different and
Dehaze does not replace Clarity. In fact they work well together. My workflow now typically
starts with cropping and spot removal, then getting the colours about right [“Temperature”
and “Tint”] and then a mix of Dehaze, Clarity and Contrast. These three form a kind of
triangle. I play around with this trio until I get the balance about right and then move on to
the other tools.
But don’t think that Dehaze is just for hazy landscape photos. It’s so good that I find it useful
for many other kinds of photos too. Of course, like all other tools/sliders in
Photoshop/Lightroom, you can push it too far. Restraint and subtlety can be good words to
keep in mind. Remember – you want people looking at your photos to say “Gee, you’re a
really good photographer!” and not “Gee, you’re really good in Photoshop!”
The only problems with Dehaze are [1] a small problem and [2] one that will be big for some
of you. The small problem is where to find it. I would much prefer it to live in the Develop
module along with Temperature, Tint, Contrast, Clarity, Vibrance and all the other basic
tools. However, Adobe have hidden Dehaze in the Effects section of the right panel in the
Develop module in Lightroom, and in the Effects tab in Adobe Camera Raw.
The bigger problem is that Dehaze is only available to those of us who have a Creative Cloud
subscription. I have such a subscription and pay Australian $10 per month [NZ $11] for the
privilege. Adobe’s subscription model bothered many [most] photographers when it first
came out, me included, but now I happily live with it. At about NZ$120 a year, it has to be
one of the best deals in all of photography. The subscription model [“Creative Cloud”] gives
you Dehaze and every other good new idea as soon as it is available. So for those of you still
using an earlier version of Photoshop e.g. CS5 or CS6 or the standalone Lightroom 6, you will
not get Dehaze. Even updates to Lightroom 6 will only fix bugs and give support for new
RAW capture formats - but not new features such as Dehaze.
This policy at first appears aimed at encouraging photographers to switch to the
subscription-based Creative Cloud plan, but Adobe claims that they have no choice. A littleknown American law, the Sarbanes-Oxely Act, apparently prohibits them from shipping new
features in non-paid updates. So, if you use Lightroom 6 and want access to Dehaze, you
either have to wait for [and pay for] Lightroom 7, or move to the subscription model. For
me, now that I’ve seen what Dehaze can do, what would I do if I was still using Photoshop
CS6 or Lightroom 6? I’d move to the subscription model immediately. Dehaze is that good!
Now in its seventh year, the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year has rapidly
become New Zealand’s biggest and most prestigious photo event. For the 2015 competition
5,800 entries were received, a new record.
Last Thursday I drove up to Aucikland and spent the day with James Frankham, Convenor of
Judges for the competition [and owner and editor of New Zealand Geographic]. We had
already narrowed 1,493 entries in the Wildlife category down to a few dozen, but we
needed to be in the same room looking at the photos on the same monitor to decide the
winners. It took longer than we thought [thanks for the nice lunch James] but eventually we
got there. We both love New Zealand, the natural world, and photography, so it was a
pleasant and ultimately fruitful day.
All the Finalists will be printed at 1,200mm across, mounted, and exhibited in Christchurch’s
Cathedral Square from August 15th to September 6th., and then on the Auckland waterfront
in October. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Auckland on October 29th. You
– and everybody else – are invited to choose your own winner, for the popular “People’s
Choice” award. Last year, 36,000 votes were counted for this award. Vote at from August 15th.
On July 26th I had a most excellent birthday [thanks Anne, Gareth & Vivienne]. To keep the
celebration going, I thought I’d offer a 15% discount on all workshops booked during August
– not just the “Composition Workshop” in late August, but any future ones [“Landscape
Workshop”, ”Great Photography Weekend”] that you book in August. All you have to do is
mention “birthday” [or “Mick Jagger”] in your query or booking, and confirm the booking
before 31st August. Combine the birthday offer with an EarlyBird discount, and that’s a real
Good photography is not just about good subject matter, good light, good timing, and a
good camera. As many of you know, there’s much more to it than that. You can tick the
entire list above, but if you don’t arrange the elements in your photo in a pleasing way, then
you won’t have a good photo. Composition – arranging the elements in a photo – is one of
the most important skills you need
to achieve good [and great] photos.
That’s what this workshop is about:
as much information about
composition and as many exercises
to sharpen your skills as we can fit
comfortably into a single day. And –
as always – we try to make it as
much fun and as pleasant as
possible. By the end of
the workshop you will
have moved “far, far
beyond the rule of
thirds”. I will give you
tools rather than rules,
though we’ll cover “the
rules” as well.
We’ll cover a lot of ground, including:
• Compositional elements and techniques
• Taming the chaos – finding photos in the
complexity of nature
• What to leave in, what to leave out
• Handling complex elements within the
photo frame
• Positive and negative space
• Rhythm, pattern, repetition, texture,
balance, symmetry, coherence, unity,
• Shape, line, form
• Framing, cropping
• How much sky to include, including “thin
skies” and “thin horizons”
• The visual weight of different colours,
balancing colours
Scale, depth, space to breathe
Background, foreground
Numbers: odds, evens, the power of
Wide angle compositions & telephoto
Lines: diagonal, vertical, horizontal
The role of the emotional response
The balance between technical and intuition
Limited possibilities or limitless possibilities?
The one rule to rule them all
Common compositional problems and their solutions
Cost: Full course fee [which includes tuition, hand-outs, Vivienne’s
yummy catering, assignment and follow-up] $295 - or $245 for Early Birds – those
registering by 19th August. Fulltime students with ID $150
8. LANDSCAPES WORKSHOP – 27th September
Aaaah, landscapes! There’s not many of us who
don’t photograph landscapes some of the time – or
most of the time. On a good day, we’ll come back
with some photos we’re reasonably happy with.
Occasionally very happy. But on other days [far too
many] there’s nothing we took that approaches the
specialness of what was in front of us when the
shutter clicked. Something got lost in the translation.
The landscape you were standing in front of looked
great – which is why to you took the photo[s].
Unfortunately, gremlins from a parallel universe got
into your memory card and by the time you looked at
the photos on your computer, they didn’t look
anywhere near as good as you hoped, and expected.
This workshop is about correcting that – de-gremlinizing your landscape photos and
showing you how to get the good gremlins [from a
different parallel universe] to help make your
landscape photos “pop”. Translating the “Wow” you
felt standing in front of a good landscape into a
“Wow” photo. Techniques, approaches, tips, tricks
Landscape is a big topic and there’s many ways of
approaching it, so we’ll be covering a lot of ground.
Topics covered will include:
• Grand landscapes and intimate landscapes
• Clouds, weather, light
• Time of day, sunrise/sunset, “golden hour”,
blue hour”
• Getting your composition right
• Water: waterfalls, rivers, lakes, estuaries
• Forests, hills, mountains, geothermal areas
• Dealing with scruffy foregrounds, “blah”
backgrounds & boring skies
Dynamic landscapes and quiet landscapes
Common problems – and their solutions
Lens choice: wide angle vs normal vs
Choosing your gear; camera, lenses, tripods,
filters etc.
Stars, night photography
Colour, black and white
Choosing the best camera settings
Some good places to go
Our wonderful sea shores
Post-processing – to get your photos looking
more like how you remember the landscape
And much, much more.
It’s a huge and very rewarding subject. One of the
best that photography has to offer. Care to join me?
Cost: Full course fee [which includes tuition, hand-outs, Vivienne’s yummy catering,
assignment and follow-up] $295 - or $245 for Early Birds – those registering by 17th
September. Fulltime students with ID $150
This is the biggest workshop I run, a full weekend of workshops and field trips, followed by
an assignment and an evaluation evening about 3 weeks later at a time that suits everyone.
Learning will be via many paths: a creative mix of modules with summary handouts,
live demonstrations, screen-projected images, questions answered, and taking real photos
in the field.
** Cost: $475. Great value, I believe. The Early Bird special is even better value - $425 if
you book before 7th October. Price includes the workshop, follow-up, detailed hand-outs,
and yummy catering [courtesy of Vivienne] on both days. You will feel well looked after.
Special rate for fulltime students with ID $235.
For anyone living outside the Tauranga area, there are three good motels within 7 minutes’
walk of Kim’s studio. More details in the next newsletter but mark this date on your
calendar if you’re interested.
I’ve been mentoring photographers for quite a few years now, though we never called it
mentoring, and there was never any formal structure. We just did whatever was needed at
the time. With the photographers involved, I’m happy to keep doing this, but I’m now also
offering a more structured option. We’ve called it “Mentoring by Kim”. Details and pricing
were in earlier newsletters. Or email me for more information. One photographer recently
approached me asking for a more in-depth option than the two I was offering. “Yes, of
course” was my reply, so we’ve tailored a programme to suit this photographer. So if you’re
interested, yes, I’m happy to look at tailoring a programme just for you.
A good and cost-effective way of moving your photography ahead rapidly. Details as usual
[see earlier newsletters – or ask me]. The next In-Depth Evening will be on Thursday 20th
August, starting at 7.00pm. Book by email. Cost: $55 for the evening.
Details as usual [see earlier newsletters – or ask me]. Book by email. Free [no charge]. These
evenings are always fun and friendly. The next one is on:
Tuesday 1st September, starting 7.00pm.
Yes, like you I’m usually busy doing “other stuff” too, but I can nearly always fit private
tuition in, and am very happy to do so - as I enjoy teaching and mentoring ☺. So – if you’d
like some tuition or mentoring, give me a yell. Details as usual [see earlier newsletters – or
ask me]. First 2 hours: $80 per hour, after that $70 per hour [forever!]
Photos in this newsletter copyright © Kim Westerskov and copyright © the
individual photographers named. All rights reserved.