What’s in my Bag

I thought maybe it was time to do a blog on “What’s in my Bag” or essentially “what equipment do I use and love”. Now to many of my regular readers this really won’t mean a great deal but bear with me as you never know what piece of trivia you’ll pick up 🙂

Before we get into it let me tell you, you don’t have to have the latest and greatest gear (contrary to popular belief).  I was taught, actually had it drilled into me, that it is the photographer that makes the photo not the gear – you can definitely create magic without having to buy the biggest and best.

I am a Nikon girl and before I get any email unsubscribes from my Canon followers ( 🙂 you know who you are), Nikon is the brand I graduated to purely due to how it felt in my hand at the time.  Once you invest in a brand it is just too hard to justify the lost dollars to change over!

Back to the question: “What’s in my Bag?”  I shoot with a Nikon D700, a nice full frame camera which was introduced by Nikon in July 2008, as I stated above it’s not the latest and greatest but I know my baby inside out and can shoot stunning and amazing photos with it (even if I say so myself).  I have a few (about 4) lens – all Nikon brand, a nice 50mm prime lens, which is great for thinking outside the box and actually zooming with your feet; flashes (also called speedlites); a Bowens studio lighting kit; reflectors; plus, of course, cleaning gear.  Oh and lots of accessories like filters, bags, batteries, cables etc.  Honestly if I listed every single piece of photographic gear you would still be sitting here reading next week 😉

What's in my Bag A snapshot

What’s in my Bag
A snapshot

But wait, there’s more!  What’s my favourite piece of gear?  Well, at the end of last year I commented to my lovely husband that I was frustrated about missing photo opportunities when out and about in my normal Monday to Friday life as I felt it was just not possible to carry my Nikon gear with me all the time.  After some research (well truthfully that really involved hearing about and testing another photographer’s gear) I decided to add another “little” baby to my collection.  The baby I chose was the  the mirror-less, micro four-thirds, Olympus OMD-EM5 with a 12-50mm lens (a lens which also boasts a macro function!)  I named my ‘baby’ “OLY” and she (yes, I don’t know why but it is a she) has truly impressed and inspired me.  Although OLY may look like a toy camera, there is nothing toy-like about her other than her size.  This little baby fits nicely in my handbag and goes with me 24/7.

Macro Magic with "OLY"

Macro Magic with “OLY”

I am only really beginning my journey with OLY but so far she is outstanding when it comes to performance.  I have created some stunning images with her including some sunsets I’m very proud of.  She even has the ability to make panoramic or stitched photos so easily without loosing quality in the final image.

Sunsets with my OLY Bottom Image is a 6 image stitch

Sunsets with my OLY
Bottom Image is a 6 image stitch

I also love that due to her size, weighing in under 150 grams, I’ve discovered I can operate her at shutter speeds I would normally need a tripod for with my Nikon D700.  She is and will remain a vital piece of equipment within my bag and will be worthy of her own further in-depth review shortly 🙂

Until next week.



Giving Back Cancer Fundraising

This week I proudly participated in Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea.

Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is a simple, yet effective way to raise awareness and much needed funds for the Cancer Council of Australia.

Once we decided to participate in Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, the girls in the office and I decided what each of us would contribute to the event. One of my jobs was to make cupcakes for the day. I must admit I’m not a great cook however I saw this as an opportunity to spend some special one on one time with my teenage daughter (who is already a better cook than I am) and whip up some tasty treats. Yes, it’s true, my daughter did most of the baking – my excuse at the time was that I really needed to ‘document the event’ by taking photos and licking the bowl clean at the end was to save her having to wash the dishes 😉 Of course getting my daughter involved was actually my way of chatting and spending time with her and the bonus was having delicious cupcakes to take to the morning tea. Sharing this experience with my daughter reinforced to me why I’m so passionate about contributing to this worthy cause.

Cooking Time in the Kitchen

Cooking Time in the Kitchen

For those who are not aware just over 6 years ago my amazing sister-in-law was diagnosed with that unthinkable “C” word. Sadly she lost her battle just 18months later. Until that time, I’d never truly appreciated the physical, mental and financial toll it takes on an entire family. It is a shame it took such a personal experience for me to realise that my contributions can help fund vital cancer research that will one day save another life.

I have supported cancer fundraising in many ways, but have never made a big deal about it. This year I feel I need to shout it from the roof-tops – get involved, we can make a difference, every dollar raised does count! Life is precious let’s do everything we can to protect it.

Australia's Biggest Morning Tea "High Tea Style"

Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea
“High Tea Style”

I’ll continue my support for the Australia Cancer Council – whether I am supporting Karaoke for Cancer with a raffle prize donation of a framed photograph; walking in the Mother’s Day Classic; or donating a complete photography session to someone in need, these are just some of the ways over the past 5 years I have been able to contribute.

I love that I am able to give someone an opportunity to forget what they are physically going through and pamper them with a little beauty session before creating beautiful images to allow them to celebrate life.

In addition to this week’s activities, next month I am connecting with some very special people and gifting my You Are Beautiful Photography package to another beautiful lady currently fighting this disease. I can’t say too much until after the event as it is a huge surprise for this family. I promise to share when I can.

Until next week.


Top 5 Favourite Photos

Here we are already, it’s the middle of May and just around the corner we’ll be into the EOFY sale period. I can’t believe we are so close to half of 2014 gone already.  This got me thinking and reflecting on my photography this year so I thought today I would share with you my top 5 favourite photos so far of 2014.

January – so much to choose from this month, day trip to Toowoomba, holidays at the beach and spur of the moment trips to where ever the car took me, it was a tough decision but for me my favourite photo from January would have to be “looking up at the lighthouse” this photo represents my renewed inspiration to look at objects from all angles and then capture the image.  In doing this I allowed my photography to grow and as you can see magic does happen.

"Looking up at the Lighthouse"

“Looking up at the Lighthouse”

February – Back into work mode, long days at the computer and a busy month personally with Birthday’s and Anniversaries.  I didn’t pick up the camera as much as I wanted but when I did I found myself heading into the studio and this brings me to my favourite photo from February “Dare to Dream” I love this photo, to me it represents that it is worth dreaming and planning for great things to come into your future.  I love Paris and I know one day I will get there to photograph the Eiffel Tower.  In the meantime my Paris suitcase will just have to make do.

"Dare to Dream"

“Dare to Dream”

March – Wow this is a hard one, I had two amazing studio shoots this month, both of these ladies were stunning so it is very difficult to choose between them, since it is my choice and my blog 😉  I am going to share my favourite from each shoot.  Jaz is a strong woman (Her story has been already shared with you through my blog) and my favourite photo of Jaz shows both her soft and strong side in the one photo.  My other lovely woman, Heather, has the most striking red/pink hair and a skin complexion most of us would die for.  My favourite photo from our session is a close up showing Heather’s soul piercing eyes and all that hair and skin beauty.

Studio Shoots Jaz and Heather

Studio Shoots
Jaz and Heather

April – We are now well into Autumn and alot of my focus this month was on landscapes and those stunning autumn colours.  At this time of year, the early morning hours and the late afternoon hours are a photographers dream.  Again very hard to pick just one favourite photo but I if I have to I think for me it would be “Autumn Colours” an abstract sunset, showing off all those gorgeous colours of a sunset in a new and interesting way.

"Autumn Colours"

“Autumn Colours”

May – We are only half way through the month and the magnificent sunsets are still around but this month’s favourite photo is very easy for me to pick, “Exist in Photos – Mother’s Day” I am taking my own advice to you all this year and getting in front of the camera more often.  On Mother’s day I got a picture of my mother, my daughter and myself – 3 generations in one place on a special day, celebrating Mother’s Day.  What better photo for this month.

"Mother's Day 2014" The Three of Us

“Mother’s Day 2014”
The Three of Us

I hope you have enjoyed indulging me in a look back over the year so far.

Until next week.


Landscapes in Autumn

What happened to Autumn? Last weekend we had our first real cold snap, way too early in the year for my liking.  I don’t ‘do’ cold well however I did look at the positives of the cold change and realised that the photo opportunities for WOW landscapes has now increased.  Having clear, clean fresh air coupled with lots of wind in the sky certainly creates amazing cloud formations.

Landscapes with beautiful Wind Clouds

Landscapes with beautiful Wind Clouds

This week alone we have been blessed with several spectacular sunsets, well worth photographing even if the mozzies were fierce enough that I thought I was about to be carried away!  I can only assume the sunrises are just as good because this little black duck just can’t make myself do the 4am rise out of my warm comfy bed.  I’m working on how I can justify dragging myself up and out of bed, drive to a pre-scouted location, freeze my lovely behind off all in the ‘hope’ of it being a magic sunrise …  For now, I’ll leave that to the early birds.

So what does all this rambling mean – well it has renewed my love of landscape photography.  Those who follow my blogs will know that to maintain peace and serenity in my life I photograph flowers.  In essence, flowers had become a substitute from landscapes as I was feeling like I’d photographed all my local ‘haunts’ to death.  I was wrong.  As my photography skills grow I realise I continually look at things differently.  I look at the changing light, I look for new angles, new perspectives and I look for new ways to capture the scene.  Whether I’m using sun flares, capturing silhouettes or creating abstracts – all these methods have opened up a whole new world which has invigorated my love of landscape photography.

The other day, whilst waiting for the colours to turn, I was thinking how it would be nice to have a wider angle lens – I think the cold froze my brain.  I remembered I had everything I needed – a scene in front of me that I could manually create a panorama with.  I do this by taking a series of images – side by side, making sure they have an overlap of subject of around 30%, then using the magic of an editing program called Photoshop, I stitch/blend the said images together and ‘Bob’s your uncle’, wide perspective without the expense of another lens.

Landscapes in Abstract, Different Angles and Panorama Stitching

Landscapes in Abstract, Different Angles and Panorama Stitching

This is another example of how you really can create magic with what you already have to work with.  You just need to open your mind, be creative and let yourself flow.  As you can see from my favourite photos from this week, I think you will agree that staying out was well worth the mozzies.

WOW Landscape with Sun Flare

WOW Landscape with Sun Flare

Just before I finish off this week, This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day, a mother does so much for you in life and asks so little, so please from me to you, please acknowledge your mum with love on Sunday and remember the best gift you can give her is a You are Beautiful photo session with Solo Images Photography (yes a shameless plug but I promise she will love you for it) and the best gift a mum can give you is to be in the family photo this Sunday – make it a memory that is frozen in time forever.

Until next week,


Weekend Photography Retreat on South Stradbroke Island

I believe it’s extremely important, as a photographer, to continually learn and develop (pardon the pun) my photography skills. I attend various courses each year for this sole purpose. Recently I went on a photography retreat hosted by Live in Love Photography and Splash Photography over on South Stradbroke Island staying at the fantastic Ramada Couran Cove resort.

I was super excited about spending the weekend with a group of girlfriends who also happen to be a ‘bunch of photographers’ (I wonder if there’s a name for that?!) guaranteeing it was going to be a weekend jam packed with fun, food & photography skills.

After we had settled into our gorgeous accommodation we headed to Spa Island for sustenance and a brief run-through about the weekend ahead.

We grabbed our gear and headed off on an orientation walk around the resort. Wandering through the rainforest and ending up on the beach. The first ‘brief’ I received was to ‘see’ everyday objects and look for a new angle or way to photograph them. Sounds easy, right? They tell you it’s a ‘brief’ but then giggle that they renamed it from ‘challenge’ so we wouldn’t think it was too hard to achieve!

Rainforest and Surrounds

Rainforest and Surrounds

We were treated with a stunning sunset that afternoon as the sun set over the water. Our photography ‘brief’ (aka challenge) was to capture a silhouette.

Of course with a retreat, it can’t all be about the craft. Food, fun and fantastic company is also hard to beat. We all met up for dinner, in what is aptly named The Restaurant, to enjoy some fine wine, fabulous food and great company.

After dinner we had a tutorial on smoke photography. I can assure you there was more fits of laughter than photos taken and although I’m sworn to secrecy about what had us giggling like school girls, let me just say I’ll never be able to ‘bang’ into a table again without laughing out loud… Our smoke photography session went into the early hours of the morning but eventually we all crawled into bed dreading the alarms that would wake us for sunrise in just a few short hours.

Sunset & Smoke Photography Challenge

Sunset & Smoke Photography Challenge

I think I managed about 3 hours of sleep before I was tapped on the shoulder and woken up for our scheduled sunrise photo shoot – for those that know me, you’ll know that I don’t wake up before coffee and given coffee was not on offer (that would have required waking up even earlier), I was pretty hard to drag out of bed. While travelling to the eastern side of the island in the dark with the moon still visible all I could think was ‘this better be worth it…’ I am happy to say it was well and truly worth it – the predawn was glorious and the sunrise displayed intense purples, pinks and oranges. Even while my eyes felt like they were half closed, I was thankful for getting up to witness this scene.

After sunrise we went back to the resort to download images and enjoy some breakfast. After a delicious and filling breakfast and my much needed coffee, we returned to the beach exploring the water’s edge and into the sand dunes.

Look the Moon Oh wait ... Here comes the Sun

Look the Moon
Oh wait … Here comes the Sun

I’m happy to say the weekend continued like this; more food, photography ‘briefs’, fun, laughter and at the end of it all a sense of achievement and images I’m proud of.

I highly recommend the Live In Love Photography and Splash Photography Weekend Retreat, it delivers amazing food and photography tutorials at a perfect pace – time for looking, shooting, improving, processing. Sheryn and Anita were constantly on hand to assist, guide and introduce new techniques both in camera and during our post processing sessions.

To finish off a perfect weekend we all sat around enjoying the outlook from the deck and sharing our photo adventures (and maybe we had a cocktail or two just to celebrate such a lovely weekend away).

Our last hour ... Farewell for now

Our last hour … Farewell for now

This retreat certainly delivers on food, fun & photography and with their next photography retreat scheduled for Friday 25th – Sunday 27th July 2014 you’d be mad to miss it. To enquire or book into the retreat contact the girls: Sheryn@liveinlovephotography.com.au or anita@splashphotography.com.au

Tell them I sent you along 🙂

Until next week,