One of the things we really don’t do enough of is “Challenge Ourselves”
When I say challenge ourselves I mean both mentally, physically, and emotionally.
It’s one of those things we generally only do when we have to, most of us don’t chase the challenge or go to the edge of where we feel comfortable.
There are many ways in which we can challenge ourselves.
The photo above was the start of a hike and weekend camp which I can safely say that 99% of people that live in Australia will never do.
Like really what person in their right mind would go hiking and camping after a blizzard in the Kosciuszko National Park? hahahahaha
TBH – The hike on snowshoes was amazing, the countryside was even better. THE LIFE EXPERIENCE IS PRICELESS!
Let’s fast forward to today, given the blizzard conditions over the last few days and snow falling In Canberra not to mention so early in the ski season, my question is.
If your dream was to walk up to the top of Mt Kosciusko and this weekend was the only time you had the opportunity, what would you do so you could achieve your dreams this weekend given the environmental factors?
Between the light and the dark, there is the middle ground where things can seem like they on a tipping point.
The same is true with your photography where some days your confidence is smashed like a grape at the bottom of the barrel under someone’s foot as they stand on you to make wine.
The trick I have found over photographing for many years is to try and look at things differently. Take this photo for example. This was a photo I took some time ago and left it there until I thought of a concept to bring it to life, and with that open the old photograhy cabmnet, dragged it out while blowing the dust from it to give it a dual look and feel.
I wanted it to have a dark feeling with the image giving the impression that no matter which way she went it wasn’t going to end well.
From one side the blue represents the dark emotional state we all often find ourselves in, while the red in front of her was put there to give the impression that going forward was leading into the fire and so she sits. Stale and stranded at the bottom of the stairs with no place to go.
The original photo was taken with an Elinchrom ranger pack placed at the top of the stairs to give her some shadows and to highlight her body while also hiding her face.
You can move the slider to see the before and after. 🙂
One thing I do know is that if you don’t continue to educate yourself and actively go out and learn things you will never grow.
You become stale and the passion moves away.
For me, I am active in many areas of my life but I must admit that my photoshop in the creative sense has not been one of the things I have been pushing so given today was a cold day outside I got messing around some photos, this being one of them.
This was a photo I took of a model a bit ago and have had it sitting in the dusty draw to one day play around with it. Well, I guess today was that day.
When I took this photo I wanted it to be something that I can use in many different photos as the pose the model was in as I think you can agree is very generic with lots of ideas..
I mashed the photo of her with some other images and with the help of Photoshop I came up with something very different.
As with other images of this type they really don’t start with an end and just form along the way.
I am sure I will do a few more of her in different areas and scenes but really wanted to play around with fire and smoke.
This brings me to my first point of this blog…. We all keep learning and if you don’t keep looking for things to learn be it in photography, editing or just life….. you become stale….
COVID has changed the world forever and with more free time on my hands than normal for obvious reasons I figured it was a great time to give my website a long-overdue makeover.
So I whipped off the covers, pulled out the guts and threw them out. Employed a graphic artist to come in and change my site so it matched my vision of being a place of education and commercial photography services.
You would think that building a site from the ground up was be easy and straight forward right??
Well appreantly not… Well not when you want the ability to sell your images on my site (I currently use an external provider/website for this), have the ability to created courses that I can sell or give away, be able to have a members-only section on my site on top of this and fit into my marketing and email providers to keep people up to date on my of my site updates of promotions.
All that has taken many months of trial and error, building my site up on the side to test and trial to see what works and what doesn’t work but I think it was well worth it.
While my site is still bare-bones it now has the foundations of all the things I have been doing over the years in my place and on my main website.
I need your help
As I look at putting content back on my site, I have taken the view that I want to put up there what YOU want to see!!!
I want you to TELL ME what courses YOU want me to create
What pages YOU want to see
What categories of photography YOU want
What types of blogs YOU want.
For example –
Do YOU want to get free courses on using lightroom or understanding the basics of your camera?
Or maybe you just want blogs about what it’s like to be a photographer?
Or even black belt courses that teach YOU everything you need to know to go from zero to hero in photography so YOU can run YOUR own photography business?
The website and book are open for you to tell me.
Drop Your Comments and Ideas and Lets See What Amazing Things We Can Create.
Like just about everyone in the world we are currently restricted to staying at home to “flatten the curve” and I must say it has been interesting from a professional and private perspective.
My days are spent working from home and only going out to get supplies. Given I live alone the first few weeks were hard as I normally am around lots of people and I don’t spend much time at home.
As the weeks have gone on I have come to get used to only having the odd contact with people and enjoying the company of Scarlet (my all faithful dog) and my free-range chickens.
I have spent many many hours in my garden to give it the much-loved care that it should have gotten over the years of me always being busy. I have a pumpkin patch the size of a small country and I am not the selfie appointed Pumpkin King as I have produced maybe around 200+kg of pumpkin not to mention the 40 or more cucumbers and I really don’t eat either, so my friends are currently being targeted to take my excess. Some are now telling me they have enough but I still have lots and lots.. So all the neighbours around me have also woken up to midnight pumpkin fairies doing deliveries. hahahaha
Anyways over the weeknd I spent a lot of time in my garden and as I was cleaning up with the whippersnapper I came across a treasure trove that only weeks ago every Australian have killed for. No it was not toilet paper but eggs.
I have been wondering where my chickens have been laying their eggs but now I am the master the king of eggs. lol
Had my aircon changed a few months ago and with the rain over the period since then I have noticed a leak so with self-isolation the new fad, it gave me a good excuse to get the roof sorted and take some photos, with a Jazzy edit to boot. 🙂
And for good measure I thought I would throw in a quick vid of the process.
Australia has been ravaged by fires for months and anyone has followed me for a while knows that I go along and take photos from the roof of my house.
The other day I captured this photo and while it’s not the most amazing photo you will ever see it did make think and understand the power of photography.
This photo to me represents the idea that we are back to a normal, normal before fires and a normal before the summer heat. Sitting in my roof taking this photo took them back to many places and many times I’ve had on my roof with friends and family enjoying the scenery.
I guess the point I’m getting at here is that photography and photographs capture a point in time and they capture an emotion in time. For me looking at this view brings back feelings of friendship, love and well-being.
With every dark night, there is a sunny day. With every sad day, there is a day of happiness. With every broken heart, there is love. With every great photo, there are 8,498,094 shit ones. hahahahaha
The amazing thing about the Australian bushland is that it has the ability to rebuild after fires and in fact a lot of our flora require it.
Walking through the burnt lands and national parks what was amazing was how fast some of the plants have not only survived but even after being completely burnt have comeback.
What you will notice in these photos is that the leaves and grass have also come back and these photos were taken maybe 3 weeks after the fire has passed through this area.
I saw hundreds of ferns that have at least 30cm of new growth and littered the hills of the burnt-out wasteland where I would have thought all life would have been extinguished just like the fires had.
The bushfires across Australia have wiped out a shit load of our bush but what is worse than the trees is the wildlife that has been either killed or wiped off the face of the earth in many areas.
Any animals that did survive the bushfires had either run away from it, hid while it passed or doubled back on the fire as it burnt. As you can imagine any animal going back into the burnt fire ground there would be slim pickings in regards to food and what is worse for a lot of animals they rely on the cover of the bush to hide from feral animals, like foxes, cats and dogs.
Spending a few days in the burnt landscape I only saw one wallaby that was jumping through the grounds for what I could only imagine was in a hunt for food.
Driving down one of the roads we came across a feral dog that was walking along the road, the dog looked like it hadn’t eaten in weeks given the exposure of the hips and ribs, not to mention it was keen to travel the roads and come up to cars looking for food.
While the dog was in distress what crossed my mind was the image of the wallaby and all the other vulnerable animals coming back into these areas where these predators would be waiting.
What can you do to help to protect our vulnerable wildlife while it tries to recover?
I guess the first thing I would say it so keep any of your pets inside so they do not venture out into these areas for an easy feed.
The other idea I would think is that if you do see these feral animals in vulnerable areas that you contact the national parks wildlife service to let them know so they can deal with, or if you are licenced to do so, take some time over the coming month to go to these area and concentrate on ferals that are taking advantage of our vulnerable wildlife.
Spending a few days travelling up and down the bush fire-ravaged area of the Australian south coast of New South Wales sprinkle some money it was hard to not be freaked out by the destruction the fires have had in that part of the Australian, where I am sure it a scene that has been replicated all over Australian bushfires in the last few months.
There is kilometre after kilometre of burnt national parks, reserves, and farmland. In some places the destruction is so bad that there is nothing left on the ground, the bushes that may have been there before the fires are completely gone and so is any ash from which they would have ultimately turned into.
The landscape in some parts looks like the back of a balding echidna, with what were once filled with healthy trees and bush, it now looks like quills that are also so sparse that you can clearly see the landscape they once protected.
Stopping at one place to have a look around, what struck me was the complete silence. There were no sounds…. Like none…. No birds, no wind, no leaves, not anything… like there was nothing… It was both surreal and relaxing at the same time.
The other thing that I took away from looking at hundreds of kilometres of burnt-out land was the incredibly high percentage of houses that survived even while everything was burnt around them. Their fences were gone, gates were gone, trees around them were gone but the houses looked untouched. House after house, as I drove up and down the south coast, was like this. With everyone I saw it was hard to figure out how they were not touched, I know the RFS would have been there for some and residents were there for others but I am sure good old fashion good luck played a very valuable role for most.
Looks like my predictive rainbow for my previous post seem to be correct, as the rains did come and they come hard and constant.
Since my rainbow photo and the following rains, NSW rural fire service has been able to extinguish:
Gospers Mounting – Hawkesbury
Myall Creek Road – Richmond Vallery
Erskine Creek – Blue Mountains
Kerry Ridge – Muswellbrook
Green Wattle Creek – Wollondilly
Morton – Wingecarribee
Currowan – Shoalhaven
These fires equated to a total of over 1.5 million hectares of land burnt, so to have the out is a huge relief.
I spend the weekend down on the south coast to not only sprinkle some money into these communities but also capture the recovery of the native bushland and see first hand and document some of the destruction that it has caused.
To have rain so heavy that we couldn’t see the road was freaking amazing!!! The roads were flooded and where there were dry creeks the day before, now there were rivers overflowing with liquid gold. Truly was an amazing transformation over 24 hours. Where I was we had over 130mm of rain in the 24 hours, so you can understand how that was able to full almost any dam that was previously empty.
Let’s just hope the rain continues and gets out west where it is really needed for people to survive.
Got the opportunity before the bushfires to photograph what is a great looking motorcycle. A Yamaha R1!!
These bikes are just weapons on two wheels, the have the speed and agility to go from zero to stupid speeds in less time it has taken you to read this line.
They really are one of the top bikes in the supersport category.
The day I look this here in Canberra we had smoke all over the place and we were rated one of the worst places in the world for air quality due to the bushfires that have been burning up this country. I must say the smoke in the background of the shot is something I couldn’t pay for as its just freaking amazing. It adds that extra to the image and with the short depth of field it really brings your eyes to the R1, which is hard to believe you would look anywhere else but hey that photography right?
Looking out across the valley and into the hills where they are doing back burning the image is outstanding.
The image is also kind of a trick, what I mean by that is that the compression of a super long lens has brought the hills close to the houses when fact it is actually at least 10 km away, compression of the super-telephoto lenses is one of those things which can use all sorts of situations we want to bring the background into the foreground and give that impression that they are close.
It is something that is used a lot to give that deeper feel to the image. It also means that if you do have a long lens chances are that no one else can take a photo like yours as a super long lens, especially quality lenses cost a bomb but when you use them they worth every cent.
I would say that I am not really a believer of a higher being however there are times when you just have to sit back and think “Is the universe trying to tell me something??”
And this photo was one of those times!!
To give some of my rural friends some situational awareness of the fires, I once again popped up to the top of one of their hills to capture the fires.
Shooting away for about 15 minutes light rain started to fall. I could feel the cool water on my face and all I could think of was “I hope this continues and hits the firefront”.
Turning around the most amazing rainbow appeared, and not only was it amazing cause of the clarity but it was a complete rainbow, and parts were a DOUBLE RAINBOW that seems to look like a shield protecting Canberra.
The left end of the started over the Canberra city just near Black Mountain and ended over the southern suburbs of Canberra, like Banks, Conder and Gordon.
I am not sure about you but for me looking at this, it gave me a sense of protection and with heavy rains forecast to fall across Australia, I think it was a sign from mother nature to say “I’ve got this and everything is going to OK!”
As the fires rage through the country we all look to the authorities to keep us up to date, informed and safe.
As mentioned in my previous post I have been volunteering as part of a fireteam helping to defend rural properties, this also means I have exclusive access to these rural properties that are currently under threat in the Southern areas of the ACT (Australian Capital Tettoriy).
Just like 99% of every Australian, I am by no means an expert on fire activity and movements, nor do I have any idea of how to really tackle such an enormous job of controlling, steering and eventually extinguishing these fires. What I do know I have the ability to use the equipment I have at hand to get visuals of the firefront and its movements as it crawls along with the mountain ranges like the snowline melting after the winter.
I have at my home a great view of the eastern side of the fires and a northerly view from the farms. Capturing, watching and reporting these fires out to people that are in their path has allowed me to keep these people informed so they can make the right decisions but the side effect of taking photos so they can see what the fire is doing, is that I do get to take some incredible photos and the ones sit at the top of the pile are the sunsets.
Here is just one of them.
In the photo below you can see to the left half has the fire in the hills while the right after is yet untouched.
As I look at this image I can see and feel the destruction the fire has had on the impacted areas. I look and wait knowing it will pass to the other side bringing with it a renewed pressure to bring this fire under control.
The other interesting this about this image is the cloud formations above the fire ground on the left of the image to the clouds in the yet untouched areas.
To me, it looks like the heat of the fires have pushed the clouds up where on the right the cloud cover is flat. I’m a sure someone much much smarter than I that can tell me if what I am seeing is actually what is happening here. 🙂
For the locals some more details in the photo:
From left to right, you can see the firefront moving as it snakes its way from the Tharwa village towards the Corin forest area and then onto Tidbinbilla. Mount Tennent is out of shot to the left, while the valley to the left of the hill in the middle is the Corin Road and the hills in the far right is the Tidbinbilla nature reserve and the Brindabella Ranges.
For anyone that doesn’t live in Australia, this country has been under attack from bush fires for almost 3 months.
They have burnt more forests than you could ever believe and as I type they continue to burn and all across the country.
Here in Canberra where I live we have up until the last few weeks have been immune to the rages of this years bush fire season however given that everything is burning around us it was a ticking time bomb.
And it was our turn. The fires have take out most of the Namadgi National Park and have come close the the urban fringes of Canberra.
People all across this country have been out helping others be it through boots on the ground fire protection, donations, supplies, putting people up in houses or emotional support.
Having been one of those people trying to help from afar and feeling very powerless to assist as the fires come closer to Canberra, I like many others put out the offer off assistance.
For me, that takes shape in helping rural landholder mates and others to understand the fires but also be part of their active fire team to defend their properties when and if the fire reaches their boundaries.
The other part of this is to be able to photograph the fire as it moved and shaped around the landscape, allowing them to understand fire moments and when they might be impacted.
In helping these farmers it also gives me exclusive access to view points that most of the public is not allowed as the entire rural south of Canberra has been blocked due to safety concerns.
I have a few different photos of the fires that are happening as I type but I wanted to share this photo with you as it seemed so comforting watching it move and shape its way around the hill that it is hard to remember the death that this fire is bringing to the landscape and the native wildlife.
For the locals this photo was taken the night of the 2rnd of February 2020 from Tharwa facing the fire that was moving on the north side of the fire and into Corin dam.
Talking with the locals that have both lived in the area for many decades and have been in the fire service for many decades they say the risk of this northward moving fire has the potential of moving from the rural landscape into the urban interface and causing loss of houses and property.
Will that come true, who knows but what I can say, sitting back and watching this fire at night and from a distance has given me a new found respect for the fire but also the beauty that it brings, though things like the night fires but also the rejuvenation of life with the bush land after the fire.
Right now the night time allows us to take stock, and look at the positive side before the daylight come where we know so will the destruction of bushfires.
Last weekend I once again was the official photographer at the annual STOMP charity dance event and as always it was both an amazing group of people that put together an amazing show for the people that attend.
For those of you that don’t know what I am talking about, STOMP was the brainchild of a gentleman named Mark McEwen created after the tsunami on boxing bay in 2004 with the first STOMP in 2005 where it raised money for the fishing boars in a small Sri Lankan fishing village that was wiped out.
It initially started out as an Adhoc event but has since transformed into one of Canberra premiere annual Latin dance event. For more information about their history check this link out.
Since that time STOMP has raised over $150,000 towards their selected charities, here each year they select a few different charities to sponsor. One of the main charities they do sponsor is the local Rotary group with most of the money raised going to them.
One of the great things for me as a photographer is that each year has a theme and EVERYONE dresses up in that theme, which I must say is very unique given people come from over 300km away to be there and a range of locals. I can only put it down to that because this is a dance event that the dance community just love to dress up and they are super supportive of each other and enjoy being a bit flamboyant. Either way its always a surprise of what theme the will come up with and something that I always look forward to photographing and being part of.
The event typically runs where people show up at around 6:30 pm to relax with a few drinks from the bar and find their seats. They have about 1 hour of dance performances which are performed by dance studios both from there and Sydney which I think is just amazing. After the performances, they clear the hall and set up two rooms each with their different theme where people can move around as they see fit. Each room has its own personal DJ with the main hall having all sorts of cool lighting that brings out the heritage-listed architecture of the building.
I am not sure what the thinking is behind each performance but what I can say having seen many years of them, they are always just amazing. Its a mixture of both professional and beginners that want to just have a go and perform for the pleasure of others.
One of the great things I love about STOMP is the people…. The people that give up so much of their time to support and give back to others. While I have been photographed all sorts of dance the Latin dance (not be be confused with Latin that is related to ballroom) is the most open and friendly of them all. They give back and in all the years of photographing this style, I have never, ever heard anyone be bitchy or backstab anyone which unfortunately is rare given I have sooo much all-access to all-areas I hear a lot of things. Not from these people.
Most of the night is filled with social dancing and a great chance for me to capture people interacting without them knowing I am there so they are more natural than any staged shoot I could ever do. 🙂
All in all, it was a fantastic night.
So the figures are in and for that night they raised $10,600 which an amazing feat. Here are their official results * Pets In The Park ($2,120 / 20% of funds). * Kelvin Davies 4 the Rainforest ($2,120 / 20% of funds) * Karinya House ($2,120 / 20% of funds) * Rotary Club of Canberra Burley Griffin local community programs ($4,240 / 40% of funds).
I do have a special mention is to 303 Industries where they come up with a white backdrop allowing them to project all sorts of lighting stuff on there. Truly a great idea and it really worked as you can see.
While his website sucks arse the ability to light up a room in a special way is just fantastic. Here is some of his work of his website and in that page, you can see a link to the background and lighting I am talking about. NOTE: If you look closely at the super bright moon in the middle it’s my bald head reflecting off the light. hahahahaha
As I do at the end of every STOMP I look forward to next year. 🙂
If you want to see my other posts about STOMP you can find them here
Every year I am invited back to photograph the Canberra elite public and private companies in the computer-related industries as they fight to win the top prizes at the iAwards.
This event is a combination of cocktails drinks, gala dinner and awards ceremony with a splash of being a convention with a hand full of lucky providers being able to show their wares at the back of the main dining hall.
It is an event like no other in the ICT space here in Australia as it is across the entire country with the local winners going on to the National awards in Melbourne later in the year.
For me, it is an event that I look forward to every year for a few reasons. Other than it being a very formal black tie event I get a fly on the walls insight in the trends and future of ICT here in Australia and has been shooting for the AIIA for maybe 6 years I have seen the growth and effects winning such an award has had on their business and their ability to grow and take their business to another level.
Every year like all the other gathering where they have a keynote speaker I get to meet and learn a lot about what is going on. A few years ago we had the artificial intelligent professor, they have had the owner and founder of AIE and as with almost every year, we have had government representatives to give their vision and support to the ICT industries.
All in all it was another great night and great to see so many people involved and to hear the stories of what they are working on and what the future holds in terms of ICT.
I personally can’t wait until next year to see what other amazing things the switched on ICT industry comes up with. 🙂
I have dedicated my photography career in the pursuit of capturing the very essence of what I am photographing so as to bring the “forever memories” back to life. Through this, I now have the ability to share my years of experience with you through my on-line courses.
“Yes, I was very pleased with the photos. I was hoping for a nice family picture but ended up with so much more...I love the story behind the photos (like the fake laugh!), hence me ordering a number of the candid ones. My mum is visiting at the moment and she picked a few for herself too which is great."
Alanna GregoryBredbo NSW
"BTW thanks very much for the special gift, kids love those photos!!! And will find a use for the voucher if I can."
"Fantastic Brendan, I'm very much looking forward to receiving them!"
"So many people have said how amazing you were on Saturday and that you are such an amazing person :)"
"They look amazing! Thank you I'm very happy with my final photos."
"Hey Brendan, thanks for the photos - they're fantastic. I gave Jenny (the girl in the photos) her copies and she was very happy. Thank you very much!"
"I've been dancing since I was three years old. For me, dancing is how I express the depths of who I am, each fluid movement allowing me to tell a story about an emotion, a time or a person.
What I loved about Brendan was his ability to capture that expression, story, and reveals more about me that a simple happy snap."
Sarah KateDance Instructor
"We loved the passion and artistic angles Brendan Maunder put into our photos from the National capital championships, the service Brendan provided was 10/10 and the comments we got on the photos after we posted them on our fan page was overwhelming"
Andrew Buswell and Kelsey PincerInternational Dance Instructors and Winners
"Brendan I just saw a few of the wedding photographs they are just beautiful. The ones you captured of the moment I realised the music playing was from our wedding day are so special I cried seeing them a beautiful moment captured by you. I cannot thank you enough and look forward to seeing them all later this week when I sit down with Jodi and Jamie. Thank you x"
Ali RaybouldMother Of The Bride
"Thank you again so much for all the did on the day, having you there made it so much more personal "
"Lookin great, mate! I can't wait to see what you got yesterday. Also, we all really enjoyed your company; and I'd like to extend a permanent invitation to you to remain as our series photographer from now on "