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...Close your eyes. Now shoot.

We're in Granada...  June.  Not as hot as it gets but good enough...

Hiking up above the city, I saw some elements that might make a photo and tried wrangling them together.  The light was low-ish and interesting, moving through the hillsides of olive groves in the not quite Sierra Nevadas here in Spain.

I tried, no good.  A bit lower, ok but not quite.  Around a cactus, all the way down...  This is it!  It's working!

Meanwhile, I'm dripping sweat...  It's about 7 pm but it's still hot as hell.  I'm all contorted to get this shot and the sweat starts running directly into my eyes.

I'm in position... I know the elements are there.  I open my eyes for one last second to see if the shapes look about right.  The sweat burns them shut again.

Click.  Click.  Click.  I bracketed 3 shots.

You know how you can never go back.  Like, 'Oh, I'll go back to get that shot tomorrow'.  Well it doesn't happen.

The light was moving, the clouds were shifting...  I was in place.

I took the photos with my eyes closed.

It seemed easier to trust than waiting for everything to align again.

Close your eyes.  Take the shot.

Best Photographic Models... Ever.

There's a certain subtlety required when you stand in front of  camera.  This is one of the primary reasons I rarely find myself in front of the lens.  But this week I stumbled on a little gem... Equestrian Students.

Since meeting my partner Trish I have slowly gotten to know some of the equestrian community around the world.  This is a fascinating subset of people who you have probably never encountered if no one close to you rides, trains or competes.

But there is an amazing body awareness and physical subtlety required to train a horse (and train yourself).

I'm talking movements in millimeters.  Literally.  The slightest, imperceivable (to me) movements on a horse communicate dozens of commands that make a well-trained horse respond.   The rider's attention and awareness of his or her body translates beautifully when being directed by a the guy behind the camera.

While training, they spend hours per day being told how to sit, where to move their wrists, ankles, eyes... even ears!  With the camera,  'Chin up a bit'...  'Half step to the left'...  'Nose follows my finger'...  Brilliant!

This is Giovanni.  He has returned to train at Morgado Lusitano in Alverca, Portugal for the week and was an absolute pleasure to photograph.  Obviously, the classic Italian riding clothes topped off by the Sherlock pipe helped take the image to another level.

Some details...

Classic!

Thanks Giovanni!

Who Wants to Shoot Behind the Scenes Video and Stills?

Thursday March 22nd is Oxfam's National Close the Gap Day
I am shooting an indigenous gathering/ event in Laidley, QLD (about 1 hour out of Brisbane towards Gatton).

This is what I'm looking for:
Behind The Scenes footage (primarily video, but stills too) of me doing my job.
1. Shooting portraits of people around the event
2. Interacting and laughing with people
3. Me getting into the helicopter and going up/ Organizing & Shooting the aerial/ Coming down and getting out of the helicopter
4. Covering the crowd on the ground during the aerial shoot
I am happy to have 2 people if available...  One shooting video and one shooting stills.
This is a Pro Bono shoot.  I don't get paid by Oxfam for the work I do for them so there is no money involved to create the BTS.  It's a chance for someone emerging in the industry to flex their creative muscles (with an international brand as a backdrop, which always looks good in a portfolio!).
Send me an email if interested or pass this along to anyone you know that might be!
shoot@jasonmalouin.com

Canon ST-E2 for Sale...

I'm passing on my Canon speedlight trigger...  I basically light everything manually these days and rarely use TTL.  So if you know anyone interested, send them this ebay link:

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/250891189796?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649#ht_549wt_1141

I'm officially only shipping it within Australia but I'm happy to consider any specific requests.

Well put, Mr. Waits...

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="250" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]Tom Waits during an interview in Buenos Aires,...[/caption]

‎"We are burdened beneath the weight of Information which is being confused with Knowledge... Quantity is being confused with Abundance; and Wealth with Happiness..."  - Tom Waits

I can't wait for the new album!

He's got loads of amazing quotes over at his site...  http://www.tomwaits.com/wit/

Food... Glorious Food!

Something I'm excited about adding to my bag of tricks is Food Photography.

It's a genre I've admired for a long time... not simply for the aesthetics (which are magnificent... at times) and the technical component (which proves to be a real challenge to do well);  But for the fact that it's universal to everyone's experience.  In fact, the only thing I can think of that's more universal is probably breathing or circulating blood - and those things are far trickier to photograph!

One of the most inspiring explorations is the book 'Hungry Planet: What the World Eats' by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluision.  But that's another a very different blog post...

I made my first attempt at the 'nuts and bolts' of it a few days ago.  You know... just taking the time to do some tests and figure some basics out.  Plus, I've got a gig coming up for a very cool cafe in the Valley and didn't want to go into a food shoot cold.  That would just be poor form.

So I went down to the store and bought some bread and vegetables... About $50 worth, all chosen for their size, shape, color and texture.  The shopping part was actually lots of fun and inspired some amusing conversations...  "That's a lot of bread you've got there", noted the veggie vendor.

Overall, I'm pleased with the results.  One of my goals was to really accentuate the shapes and textures; making the food pop off the page and make people want to eat it.   It's not as easy as it seems.  Much of the time was spent styling the shots which was also very educational.  First and foremost I learned that I'll hire a proper food stylist next time!

Oxfam Trailwalker - Sydney

I'm finally finished sifting through all the images from last weekend's epic shoot with Oxfam.  I was covering the Trailwalker event in Sydney which raised over $3 million for the organization's amazing projects all over the world.

I flew down to shoot the 2 day race that began north of the city in Brooklyn and wrapped up 100km later where teams came stumbling across the finish line in Mosman.

Overall, I spent 35 hours of the total 48 covering the event.  It was absolutely epic and quite a challenge both mentally and physically.  But I learned a lot, got to experiment with some new gear and made some great photos.

The conditions were pretty wild at times which made for some interesting shooting.

It was quite tricky photographing racers in teams of 4 who had been struggling onward for hours and hours - most without stopping to sleep at all and only briefly resting at checkpoints where support crew set up elaborate stations for refueling, refilling, changing and bandaging.

Sometimes I was able to infuse the encounters with energy and enthusiasm that gave folks enough of a boost to at least fake a smile for the camera.  Then there were the teams really up against the odds that basically told me to f*ck off.  And of course still others that seemed to have as much energy half way through as they did at the start!

I didn't have much time to really slow down and craft images since you just kind of had to take it all as it came...  But at one checkpoint I saw something I really wanted to do.  So I spent some time setting up my lights and dialling it in. Eventually, I found a complete group of 4 who were happy to stand for a small session (which only took about 15 minutes to shoot...  but that's asking quite a lot under these circumstances).  I'm happy with how it turned out.

This shot was a real test of the speedlights.  I used one 580exII and two 430exII on a Lastolite TriFlash Sync bracket which is just the coolest little toy for combining your small lights (reviewed here by everyone's favorite Strobist, David Hobby).  It was midday but overcast... That's a bit of a stretch for speedlights when you can't use High Speed Sync.  I had all 3 turned up to full power.  Fortunately I was using a very wide lens so I could get away with f5.6 since I had to get that Oxfam banner in the background sharp enough to read.  I really wanted to balance the day light against the flash with a very light touch making it look like it's not really lit.   (Subtlety is a new favorite skill that I'm developing... in photography and life.  Quite a leap for an American!)

As the race went on, I was uploading images to the control center for use on the websites and blogs that were constantly streaming out, keeping everyone updated.  So many of the blog images are mine.  Pretty cool.   Here's a screen shot I grabbed from one of the blogs on the Trailwalker website.  While the race was in progress I even had an image on the front page of the Oxfam website!

The crew that put together this incredible event were an absolute delight to work with... Especially the photography coordinator Michael Myers who does some fantastic shooting himself.  I was so well looked after I felt like I was right at home!

So hopefully, I get to do some more work for organizations like Oxfam.  I can't say I fully identify with the 'Commercial Photographer' title.  I think 'Humanitarian/ World' photographer fits me a lot better.  So I'll be chasing down some more gigs like this one, for sure.

Study yourself Failing...

Here's a little talk that came down the pipe though the Behance Network and their own version of TED for creative professionals which is call the 99%. I have yet to actually upload a gallery of my work to the Behance network (as I've intended to do for months...) but I always get the monthly newsletter in my inbox since joining...

There are often TED-quality types of ideas and blogs and videos that really feed my creative spirit and spur me forward...  This is another example of 17 minutes worth of video that has already helped me discover who I am as a creative professional and where I'm going...

Enjoy!

http://the99percent.com/videos/7061/Joshua-Foer-Step-Outside-Your-Comfort-Zone-and-Study-Yourself-Failing?utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=ALL&utm_campaign=MIH%20August%20%2711

Milton (Potter) and the Chamber of Commerce...

Well, I'm back in action after a pretty wicked disk problem that had me fully laid up (which eventually landed me in the hospital!) I'm finally in the process or rescheduling all the shoots that had to be postponed due to the injury... So I've begun a project for the Brisbane Inner West Chamber of Commerce.

Lynne Brown, the amazing lady responsible for making it all happen, wants to spruce up the website since it's in dire need of some quality images.  The first brief required some images of Milton...  Images of some of the various members around Milton, plus a few iconic shots that just absolutely scream 'MILTON!'

This shot really combined the two sides perfectly.

Westpac, The Milton and the XXXX Brewery are not only Milton icons; but big supporters of the Chamber.

There are lots more photos from the first session, but this one is definitely my favorite.

 

Dinosaurs!

I Just finished assisting a shoot for Terra Nova... Some new series airing on Fox next year... It's set in the past where dinosaurs are running around...  I've never seen such a massive production. They've been here shooting outside of Nerang for over a year already!  There's a whole village built on someone's property.  And they've been working on it for so long that it actually seems lived in! Today I was assisting Hugh Stewart and his regular assistants shooting for The Hollywood Reporter.  Very cool experience!

The Ring Flash...

Wow.  What can I say?  What a crazy light!  It is quite a tricky beast to control and I hadn't really taken the opportunity to take a proper crack at it until a few weeks ago. I had a bit of success balancing a ring flash with an on-axis umbrella in a couple tests I did some months ago, but this time the ring was flying solo.

 

I was shooting some basic headshots for an actor's portfolio and we had some spare time to try a few character shots.   Anticipating some extra time, I set up the ring flash when I prepared ahead of time so it was ready to go. (It's an awkward beast too... Not something you just grab real quick and use).

So, the goal I had in mind was to create a powerful portrait that could actually be used in an actor's portfolio using just a ring flash.  There are a couple tell-tale signs a photog has used a ring flash and sometimes (especially from some fashion work I've seen) those signs are accentuated for effect.

The one that turns me off is the crazy, surround shadow that's thrown behind a subject.  It creeps me out, so we spent the most amount of time adjusting our distances...  The distance between subject and background, the distance between me and the subject and the distance between me and the background...  After what felt like quite a bit of time fiddling we finally got to the point where the subject had that classic ring flash fall off on the skin, the great catch light in the eyes that you can't really create with anything else and NO creepy shadow!  Success!

In the end we got some great results.  But most importantly, the value gained from an hour of Out-of-My-Comfort-Zone gear usage was two-fold.  First, I managed to grasp a light mod that had basically scared the crap out of me.  But most importantly, it pushed me to think in a non linear, creative way to get the results I needed.  When most of what you know or normally do doesn't work, you're forced to expand.  You physically create new connections in your brain allowing exponential growth within by making fresh paths that previously didn't exist.

What comes out the other end is greater confidence, an expanded bag of tricks and some excellent results... (if I do say so, myself!)