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Thursday, 18 June 2009

Charlie Waite SPI-seminar

Yesterday afternoon saw the first in a series of photography seminars held by Digital Camera and Amateur Photographer magazines in conjunction with the School of Photographic Imaging. The seminar provided and opportunity to meet fellow photographers and hear from landscape photographer Charlie Waite how some of his greatest images were created. It was a thought provoking and inspiring talk, followed by a show of his images and the stories behind these images. Charlie is one of the UK's premier landscape photographers. Find out more about him on his web site (

The top tips I got from the seminar were:
  1. If you're a landscape photographer use a grad filter - because Charlie said so. Charlie's almost always used a grad filter in his work.
  2. Experiment with double / multiple exposures. Almost all decent 35mm SLR's have this function, but these days not many new DSLR's come with the function. I work almost exclusively with Canon digital gear (which doesn't have a multiple exposure function at all) and have completely lost sight of this amazing technique. I guess I'll be dusting of the old 35mm pretty soon - and I guess until then I'll cheat a little in Photoshop!
  3. If you 'get' 12 images a year, you are extremely lucky. This was the motto of one of Charlie’s inspirations, Ansel Adams ( Be strict during the selection process. Don’t accept the mediocre or anything “that will do”.
  4. Travel to places with interesting landscapes and go back many times. Namibia to Charlie was a life changing experience, but there are other places including France, Spain, Venice, Australia, and the United States. Or as Charlie put it basically anywhere where the landscape is "knobbly" in order to create "fantastic deep shadows" at daybreak.
  5. Find inspiration on your own doorstep. It might be something as simple as a wheelbarrow against a wall, a set of stairs, or a group of local villagers. See the beauty in your immediate environment.
  6. Depart from what you normally photograph... sometimes. This way you experiment with other subjects you gain new insights and ideas.
  7. Gear is important. Charlie uses 6x6 and 35mm film cameras. Yes, gear is important, but we should not always be chasing the "mega pixels beast". As photographers we need excellent gear and the best optics, but a more expensive camera and optics won't necessarily make us better photographers. Find equipment that enables you to express best what you see. A camera maker that Charlie mentioned is the great
    Gandolfi (
  8. Always think about what is it that you want to 'say' with each image. Learn from others, but there is a fine line between copying and learning.
  9. As a landscape photographer one takes the image before you even brought the camera to the eye. The challenge is to create within the limitations of the camera what you've seen in the landscape.
  10. Carry a ladder with you. Hardly anybody else do and it'll allow you to make images of scenes with unusual perspectives.
  11. Try not to be a Photoshop fraud. Loose the "you can always fix it later in PS" attitude. It is always better to get it right in-camera.
  12. Use polarising filters carefully. I think Charlie's precise words were: "'s like alcohol, at the time it seemed good, but the next day you realised you used it too much..."
  13. Be in control. Are you an out of control photographer or are you an in control photographer?
  14. Make peace with allusive nature of finding 'that' image, but be obsessed with the drive to get the perfect image... always!
  15. Have a plan and know what you want to do next to progress in your career as a photographer.
  16. And if everything else fails, make friends with the farmers as you'll be trespassing on their land.
For an interesting interview with Charlie Waite click here.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Early bird

Canon 40D, 1/320 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100, 300mm.

Just came back from a short visit to Namibia. This image was taken one morning early near a farm dam in the Kalahari.