Muscle cars calendars and secrecy.

Australian muscle cars are not a subject that Excitations often shoot.Two Australian muscle cars photographed in front of historical store front. Mildura photographer Excitations.

A bigger version of this image here.

However, shooting muscle cars is always a whole lot of fun. And apart from all the specular highlights and unwanted reflections, they make a great subject. Muscle cars along with most others mechanical transportation devices are very shiny and reflective. That is part of their appeal. And occasionally a photographers nightmare.

But back to these two. We shot them a while back under a shroud of secrecy. Michael Scullino decided he would surprise dad, Tony with a picture of their cars for one of those milestone birthdays. Getting a couple of cars as distinctive as these two. Out and about around town on a Saturday arvo, without someone noticing and spilling the beans… Seriously… How is that even possible.. But it happened!

Michael and co-conspirator, Michael Bozzi arranged a couple of likely locations. Including the one you see here. One word… Awesome. The actual shooting was the easy part. In fact the only challenge being those pesky reflections I mentioned earlier.

Retouching done, prints made. frames fitted, job done….

Then Michael S, has an idea to submit this picture to Australian Muscle Car Sales for inclusion in their 2017 Calendar. Something we were happy to arrange. Today we hear that not only did this pic make it into the calendar… But it made the cover.

How good is that… Not just one Mildura car on on the calendar cover… BUT TWO. In the vernacular of the period. Bloody Rippa.

We haven’t posted a picture of the calendar cover because of course that would be infringing Australian Muscle Car Sales copyright.

Summer sunset photo Mildura

Last nights summer sunset photo near Mildura

Summer sunset photo taken near Mildura. Panoramic format art styed photograph created by Ian McKenzie of Excitations, photographers Mildura.

While we were waiting for the main event last night. We spied with our little eyes. This tiny little bit of Mammatus cloud. Also known as Mammatocumulus. We were facinated by its shape and form. Naturally we decided it was worth “wasting a frame on”. One frame is all we shot. Which is a pity because while the rest of the sky show was amazing. Our images of it were not. Some days your hot…. Some days your not.

Anyway we liked the end result. We may fiddle with it some more. If you like it and would like to see a much bigger version of our Summer sunset photo over on our portfolio sight.

Wentworth artist Jan Coombe

Local Wentworth artist, Jan Coombe, exhibition now on.

PS Ruby a painting by Wentworth Artist Jan Coombe

Wentworth artist, Jan Coombe’s unique work is currently on display at the Wentworth Visitors Centre.

From time to time we are asked to make faithful reproductions of artworks. Our medium format digital camera is ideal for this purpose. Leaving anything achievable on an ordinary dslr way back in the starting blocks.

However, this is not about us, or our camera kit. I just wanted to give you a heads up to this amazing lady. Jan Coombe. Jan creates these beautiful….. I’m not sure what to call them. As they are not paintings in the true sense. And I know zilch about the dark arts practiced by the artists of this world. I understand, Jan uses a syringe to shape and draw her images onto artists canvas.  Don’t care much how she does it. But I do love the stories she puts on canvas. As a local Wentworth Artist, Jan is inspired by everyday stuff she see’s around the district.

There is currently an exhibition of Jan’s work at the Visitors Centre in Wentworth. If you are out that way. Go check out these works. If you looking for a piece of original art to ad colour and vibrance to your home or office…. Same thing. Hightail it out to Wenty and check out the work of Wentworth artist, Jan Coombe.Emu's by Wentworth Artist Jan Coombe

If you happen to have a thing for Emu’s, Jan won’t disappoint you. But you may have missed out on this mob cos, I hear they are going really fast.

 

Wentworth landscape

 Wentworth landscape or In the next 30 seconds

Wentworth landscape

On the run home from a quick trip to Rufus River the other night. We marvelled at the amazing late light dancing across the wide open plain country. Light and shadow  transforming this normally subdued Aussie landcape into a breath-taking vista of springtime splendour.

But that’s not what this picture is about. No… This is about those few magical seconds after the sun slips below the horizon. When everything seems to become quite and the gently breeze of just a few moments ago… stops. When the eastern sky glows blue and magenta.

I spotted this lone tree, the sky and the  tiny coloured desert plants as we passed. Hitting the brakes, and  fully aware that I probably wouldn’t get back and set up in time, I determined I would try.

Our Troopy, isn’t the quickest stopping vehicle on this planet. Luckily she is excellent at high speed reversing. I jumped out. Figuring only one of the 3 cameras in the back was even remotely configured for the shot.  Grabbed our medium format rig. Which is not normally known to be a fast setup camera system. In fact the setup sequence is kinda like prepping one of Qantas’s A380’s for flight.

That said, medium format was going to be my best chance of pulling off this Wentworth landscape image. Also, I am fully aware that you never ever place the horizon dead centre of the frame. Nor does any photographer with even the slightest knowledge of composition place the main subject into the centre of the frame. Well…. one out of two isn’t bad.

Why did I break the rules… Simply because in the few seconds I had to compose this shot before the light faded…… It felt right.

Photography isn’t about rules, or techniques but ultimately about feeling. And if it feels right…. Then I press the shutter…..

 

When is a print not a print.

I’m not sure but maybe when the print becomes a work of art.

art print of spinifex plant growing in a soft pastel environment.

Robyn and I have for years resisted the temptation to refer to our portrait photography as works of art. Many of our city based colleagues have for years done so. Referring to the photography as art prints or “works”. I guess this gives a sense of added value to a photographic print.

This was brought home to me recently when a new client suggested that it was ridiculous for us to charge so much money simple for a print. A print that he could have made just about anywhere for cents. To him, the act of making the print, which is an art in itself, was the whole job. All the skill in “seeing” the image, setting it up, creating the shot then the hours of of colour profiling, retouching out pimples, spots, removing double chins and a few extra kilograms around the hips was valueless. The only thing he should have to pay for was the print.

And then there is the actual print. We’ve just had a fine art quality print made. Printed onto exquisite art paper by a printer with years of experience making art prints for galleries and museums. The cost…. More than we normally charge for a print that size. But it is a wonderful thing to behold. And providing we don’t do something silly with it, this work of art will outlive us by one or two hundred years.

Contrast this print with one.  I was recently shown by a fine art photographer.  Destined  to be hung in a gallery of some note. The photographer had taken the gallery owners advice and had it framed beautifully. Sadly the print job was rubbish. Very poor quality and very easily picked by any art buyer with even the slightest bit of knowledge. Worse still the print material used is rarely if ever these days accepted by the gallery world, because of its very limited life span. Temporary art if you like. Here today and gone in a very sort number of years. But as our fine art photographer friend said. Why would you spend money on getting a high quality print made when you can get a cheap job just as good from the supermarket. Why indeed?

Maybe its time we started thinking about our photography as art rather than just selling a print. Maybe it’s time we put a value on our time and skills rather than just selling a few prints.

Just saying……..

 

Fog, photoshop and play.

Or I’ve got nothing else to talk about this Monday morning.

Panorama photograph of early morniong fog over the billabong near Merbein on the Murray River. Photo by Ian Mckenzie photographer Mildura.

We did take an hour off yesterday morning to go and hunt for some misty river pictures. Nothing much happening as the early fog was way to heavy and by the time the fog started to lift… Well let’s just say the light was all over. Now I know we’re going to pay for taking an hour off work…. Because the work is stacking up quicker than we can get through it… Hate that!
We are heading into the week with a brand new version of Photoshop all loaded up and ready to go…. Time will tell but it seems to get through some of the heavy lifting jobs quicker. Love the type preview and improvements to linked objects. Haven’t  even tried the content aware tool yet but hopefully the promised improvements are there.

We’ll try and get some more interesting pictures up for you either today or later this week….. Enjoy this brand new week.

Excitations art prints

Excitations art prints on display at Trentham Esate Winery Restaurant.

We’re really proud to partner with Dag and Michelle Demarkow out at Trentham Estate Winery Restaurant to display some of excitations art prints in their amazing restaurant. Those of you who have been to this wonderful restaurant which sits on the banks of the Murray River, with sweeping lawns from the restaurant right the way down to the wharf at the rivers edge. Will  know that wall space in the restaurant is at a premium. With some many windows around the main dinning area to take advantage of the terrific river views there isn’t a lot of room for works of art. But we’ve managed to find a couple of spaces.

Instead of having a lot of prints on display, we will be rotating a number of excitations art prints on a regular basis. Along of course with some of our portrait photography, Art prints on display can be purchased at the restaurant of if you’d like to talk about different options of displaying art prints, Give Robyn a call on +613 5025 3368 during our normal office hours. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 10am and 5pm.

I can’t think of a better place to spend a lazy afternoon, enjoying a glass of wine and some of Chef Dag’s amazing food. Trentham Estate Winery Restaurant is also a great place to hold a wedding reception. Just saying.

Froom the collection of excitations art prints, this image of bark peeling from a tree has an other world feel to it. Photographed in very late twilight, the blue glow makes for an interestin take on a familiar subject. Excitations Art Prints, available at Trentham Estate Winery Reastaurant or from www.excitations.com.au

One of the excitations art prints that is in rotation que for display at Trentham Estate Winery Restaurant is this image of peeling bark. Photographed in very late twilight with a touch of moonlight chipping in to add to the overall blue tone. The subject is the normally smooth bark of a Lemon Scented Gum, which by the way isn’t a gum tree at all… But that’s a whole other story.

Big sky tonight.

Big sky out the office window tonight.

Panoramic photograph of a big sky over the australian outback at sunset. Photo by outback photographer Ian Mckenzie

Some days we are just plain lucky to have an office window that provides us with amazing sights like this…. Shhh don’t tell anyone I was supposed to be working. But what photographer could resist a big sky in both directions. Yup it was just as good out to the East.

There is a bigger version over at Google+  At least until I get a full size file up onto our server.

48 hours with a Skywhale

When Skywhale first started to form in artist, Patricia Piccinini’s mind, I have a hunch she knew it would create quite a stir when first presented to the public.

As you read this, the official embargo on talking about and showing images of this amazing creature has been lifted. That of course is mostly irrelevant, as pictures and video started to appear in the Australian press way before the embargo expired. I would love to know how Patricia Piccinini, quietly spoken, doting mother and passionate artist feels about the mixed reaction to her largest work. I for one hope she is thrilled by the response. After all, any piece of art, whatever its form, that makes joe citizen sit up and take notice, has to have already succeeded on a number of levels. Bringing art to the people in a fun and interesting way.

So when on Monday morning, weather permitting, Skywhale breaks free of her tether and drifts gently over Canberra, I’m prepared to bet, there won’t be more than a handful, who don’t stop, look and then at some point during the day, talk about Skywhale. Imagine that, people actually discussing art, looking at art and forming an opinion about a piece of public art. I doubt there are many pieces of modern, contempary art, anywhere that have achieved anything similar in recent times. Taking art to the people. Confronting them with it and even if for a moment making them think about art….. How un Australian!

So lets flash back a month and recount our 48 hours with Skywhale. In fact we’ll go back a couple of months. Our first inkling that something big was afoot, was when we started to get calls from Kiff Saunders of Global Ballooning. He was asking if we knew any places that would look good with a special balloon in the landscape. It has to be flyable, which is balloonist speak for We need to be able to launch, fly and retrieve without calling out the army or search and rescue. Also, keep the word “evolve” in your head while scouting locations.. Tip here for readers, if you are trying to work out what Skywhale is, the word EVOLVE should be there  in you subconcious. Anyway, despite our best efforts a couple other locations got up over ours.

Next thing we’re standing on a lonely, dark road in the middle of god knows where. The only activity is a couple of ground crew bustling about, lauching a small helium filled party balloon. Attached to it, a tiny bright LED light. All eyes are transfixed on that little light, as it scurries into the dark, starless sky. Carried aloft by a small helium balloon, hell bent on disappearing as fast as it can. Above the  constant rattle of 4 Toyota Troop Carrier Diesel engines idling over, an occasional voice will call out “heading one three zero,” then someone else will say ” 90 seconds, it looks like it’s kicking left.” All fasinating and mysterious stuff. However the purpose of liberating these small balloons has a serious side. Basically, where the little balloon goes…. so too will the bigger hot air balloon. You can tell how serious a pilot is about hiting a target, by the number of these Pie Ball balloons launched. At what intervals and from how many  locations. Eventually the precise launch site is located.

We meet Skywhale for the first time.

Special shape hot air balloon Skywhale being inflated for the very first ime in the early morning in a remote part of Western Victoria. Photo by excitations, Mildura.

Glowing a beautiful shade of orange as the first heat is shot into the massive envelope that is Skywhale. Admittedly we’re way to busy to take in the moment. If we’ve learnt anything about balloons over the years. Treat every launch and flight as if it is the only one. Tomorrow the weather maybe crap or equipment failure could have you stuck on the ground. So both Robyn and I ran around like chooks with our heads cut off. Get as much usuable stuff as we can and trying to stay out of the way of the “A Team”. A group of professional photographers and videographers incharge of getting great images of this new balloon no matter what. Our brief, far less demanding, made our shoot a pretty relaxed affair really. Oh and I forgot , there was a TV doco being shot as well. Talk about a crowded launch.

Hot air balloon Skywhale finally stands up in the pre sunrise light, creator Patrica Piccinini is in the forground with her young son.

This is a shot I wanted to get early. The artist, Patrica Piccinini, her son and Skywhale just as it first stands. History is made.  Sadly for me, Patricia turns to warn me that the camera balloon is starting to lean  toward me. Not an award winning image, but one that can’t ever be captured again. There will never be another first time seeing her work of art stand up. Tomorrow will be the second time…. the moment has past.

Australian artist, Patricia Peccinini takes a moment to pose in front of her hot air balloon, Skywhale. Photo by Ian Mckenzie.

Having missed the first opportunity. I broke probably the only rule I had set myself for this shoot. Everything had to be real… no posing, no set ups and certainly no bloody grip and grins. Oh, for you non photographers, a grip and grin is the old newspaper cheque, trophy or award presentation.. You know…. Ok guys just shake hands, look at the camera and smile… Grip and Grin. However I gotta have a shot of this moment somehow, and time/options are running out. I run as fast as an old dude carrying a bunch of cameras can, over to Skywhale’s pilot Kiff Saunders. I hold up one hand indicating please burn for at least five seconds. Luckily Kiff is one of the most photo aware people I have ever come across. I reckon he was onto my plan well before I could get my big hairy mit into the air with all five digits extended. That’s something else you may ponder while contemplating what is Skywhale. Human hand, five digits…. Just saying.

Patricia was wonderful. Shocked at first I think, to have a tall ugly photographer  emploring her to move over here just a bit. We hadn’t been introduced. In fact she’s only clapped eyes on me 30 seconds previously…. and then she was trying to save me from being crushed by 77,000 cubic feet of hot air.. Anyway not a picture I’m proud of. Wrong camera, wrong lens but we got a shot. Only shot 3 frames, one of those has done a fair bit of milage in the last few days, accompanying press reports about Patricia and Skywale. If only I had a chance to create a proper portrait.

Skywhale flies in front of Mt Arapiles, Western Victoria. Photo by excitations, Mildura.

If you ever have to photograph a balloon or just want a great view of a flight. There is only one place you need to be. In another balloon. The only proviso is that both pilots are good at their craft. Because if they are not good, with all the vagaries of  light shifting breezes you’ll end up miles apart in no time flat. No photo opp in that scenario I can tell you. I’m in luck on this occasion. If you need a promotional balloon flown precisely for a photo shoot…… Then there is only one phone call you should make. Global Ballooning in Richmond Victoria.  Tell em you need Kiff Saunders. Piloting the chase balloon today is another highly experienced and all round good guy Mark Ferguson. Our only handicap was having to fly  a long way ahead of Skywhale, so that we kept out of the other photographers shots. I would have liked to be up much closer. The old saying, if your pictures aren’t good enough…. you’re not close enough.

Skywhale drifting low over trees near Olivers Lake, Natimuk. Photo by Robyn Mckenzie of excitations.

As the morning drew on our camera balloon drifted away from target and shooting was over for me. Luckily, Robyn is right in the thick of it, capturing some great images of Skywhale, as Kiff  takes her down close to the deck. One to get shots like this, where Skywhale looks like a giant bird about to land in a tree. The other reason for getting down low was to wash off  speed… Allowing video teams to get into position for a low level lake crossing.

Hot air balloon Skywhale down real low with lots of sun flare. Picture by Robyn Mckenzie of Excitations, Mildura.

Robyn’s really on a roll here, again Skywhale’s  down low and flying straight into the sun. This is one of my favorite shots from the 3 days. I have heard, that at this point, our artist Patricia, who is riding in Skywhale, is thinking the balloon looks a whole lot better from the ground. Exilerating and terrifying at the same time I think I head her say. She needed have feared though. Apart from having Captain Kiff in the basket, the other passenger was Nick Purvis from Cameron Balloons in Bristol, England. Nick is a very experienced lighter than air pilot having flown just about everything there is to fly.

Skywhale flying low over Olivers Lake near Natimuk in Northern Victoria. Photograph by Robyn Mckenzie photographer with excitations Mildura photographers.

Still riding with Robyn as she chases Skywhale to the edge of Olivers Lake near Natimuk in Western Victoria. She got a whole bunch of interesting images here. This one is my favorite because of the Black Swan and other assorted birdlife flying past, adding to the sense of Skywhale fitting into the natural environment. Earlier in the flight, a large eagle started to slowly circle Skywhale. Probably trying to decide whether whale meat would be worth the bother of draging it home.

Creative photograph taken from inside skywhale of a desolate landscape. Photo robyn from Excitations.

OK so this is starting to not be funny. Day 2 and Robyn has been dragged into the basket of Skywhale and is getting all creative with her…. ahhhhhhh dangly bits.  One, two, three, four, five…. hmmmmm. I love this shot so much. And I’m super jealous of the images coming out of Robyns’s camera…… Think I might take it off her! Just kidding…  Ok, robyn is in Skywhale today. the light is… well there is a word for it but some little kid might be reading this, so lets just say flat. The camera balloon has been grounded , as a light aircraft has been swung into action by Mark Chew, the main photographer on the shoot. Mark I suspect is capturing some amazing images looking down onto Skywhale and contrasting her against some very cool  burn marks in the fields.  I think the TV guy is also airborn, while I’m trying desperately to get a shot… Any shot would be good. Find a promising location. Set up wait….. light won’t come out to play, so pack up, run like an idiot back to the troopy and try another likely spot before a massive great Skywhale drifts past and outta sight.

Hot air balloon Skywhale framed by rocks with Mt Arapiles in the background. © excitations

Run half way up a mountain carrying 30 kilos of camera gear for this shot. Twice infact. It’s not often that at 8:22 in the morning of a cool April day, do I have problems with perspiration running into my eyes and getting all over my glasses. Seeing to focus was to say the least challenging. The lighting gods for some reason descided to punish me this morning, by turning the early morning sunlight off.

Here’s a tip for photographers. If you’re chasing a balloon always know where it should be. A lot of the time you won’t be able to sight it. Yeah, I know they’re massive but trust me you’ll loose sight of it often. Secondly you think they are only moving slowly… true but they cut corners, so while you’re going around the long way…. the balloon is 3 clicks away.

Artist Patrica Peccinini waits on the ground as Skywhale gently takes flight. Also in shot her young daughter and John Sanderson from GloballBallooning.

This is the last of Robyn’s pictures today. It’s not included for  artistic merit, although I do kinda like it. Mum taking a picture of Skywhale just leaving the ground with a protective hand on her daughters shoulder. I also love the stance and attitude of the guy on the right hand side of frame. His Name is John Sanderson. I’m not sure that he has a job title. I know, I’d hate to try and think of a job description for what he does. Sando, is one of those guys who makes it all happen, he has two-way radios in the hands of people that need them, maps for those who need maps. He’s out in the bush, locating a lost and bogged member of a TV crew, in pitch blackness at 4am in the morning. He’s the voice on the radio or phone saying “Ian take the turn 400 metres on your left.” He’s the guy talking to land owners and getting access to remote an inaccessable areas so that we can do what we do. Take Photos.

Sando, Johno or John as I’ve variously heard him called, is a part of an amazing group of people at Global Ballooning who make it all happen. The ground crew, a group of hard working professionals, all equipt with individual  and very special skills, all of whom, go practically unoticed in the hustle and bustle of trying to coax hero images from a sometimes reluctant balloon. These unsung heros of the ballooning world are the engine room of any succesful ballooning photo shoot. If after all their work and the skills  of our  pilots, we don’t have pictures, we have only ourselves to blame.

Skywhale drifts effortlessy over grazing land in Western Victoria. Medium Format digital photo by excitations, Mildura

Some of our last momnents with Skywhale, for me were the best. She drifted gently across farmland to become part of a new landscape. For a fleeting few moments the lighting gods smiled upon us. Single knarled dead and living trees framed this amazing piece of flying art. While I happily chased her down tiny two wheeled bush tracks an across fields of dry stubble. The technique was simple. Get ahead, find a shot where I could frame the lady, shoot and move on. The back of the Troopy set as an open space fully padded, so that gear could  be accessed in a heartbeat, and thrown back in with the least expenditure of time possible.

Landscape image featuring the hot air balloon, Skywhale. Medium format digital photography by excitations.

It was with a degree of sadness that I heard the radio crackle into life annoucing that the flight should end now as there was little likelyhood of any futher photo opputunities arising. It was at that moment that I got  the shot above. Of all the images I created over the two days, this is the one that makes me smile. Wide open spaces, an interesting dead tree and a massive work of art introducing herself to a small flock of sheep just below and to  the left of the picture.

The whole crew relocated to a new location for the next days shooting.  Some of us travelled into the night to get there, others slept and then hit the road at 2am to prepare for launch that didn’t happen.  Our new location, a  massive salt lake with endless picture opportunities, a soft early morning mist, perfect light and for me the best seat in the house. Only to have the star of the show decide at the last minute that today, there would be no flight. Massive disappointment at pictures not taken. Moments not shared.  At the same time, emmense gratitude for the opportunity to catch up with old friends, meet new friends and for a short time, reconnect with our environment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Late evening storm Wentworth.

Chased a couple of small thunder cells  near Wentworth.

Rarely get the chance to chase any weather pictures. Usually already committed to other photo jobs. Such is life I guess. Long story short, we spotted the potential for something to happen this evening a couple of days ago. Left the time open just in case. Then tonight,  as we got closer to sundown, there were 3 small thunderstorms heading in a westerly direction which would put them  a bit north of Wentworth. Gear loaded and off we went.

Chasing weather is frought with difficulties. Number one opponent is mother nature herself. She never seems to play by the rules. Tonights shoot was no exception. As we’re heading out on a shoot like this we rate our targets from most likley to produce a picture to least likely. Tonight at least we got that right. Our least likely rated storm cell was a fizzer. Washing out to nothing very early. Great news, to many times, I’ve been following the one that dies. Our number two pick was also starting to fade, but luckily some light hit it just after sunset and popped a bit of life into it.

Late evening thunderstorm north of the small rural outback town of Wentworth. Photo by Ian Mckenzie, all rights reserved.

That’s storm cell number two above. Really love the 3 brighly coloured little clouds following along after the event so to speak. What happenned to our first choice. We’ll like I said mother nature can be a bit of a pain when you’re out shooting. Tonights promising thunder cell, reversed direction and headed back towards Mildura. Were, as I type this, it is dumping a small amount of rain and putting on a bit of a light show.