Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.
I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.
I hope you enjoy scrolling through my blog. To visit other pages, please click on the tabs above, or go to my Blog Archive on the side bar. Please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of any of my posts. I value your messages and look forward to hearing from you.If you like my work, and would like to buy a print, or commission me for some work, please go to my "contact me" tab.
Thank you for visiting my blog and helping me "step into the light".

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Saturday, 24 August 2013

Getting that cover shot of the Holland Track, Western Australia

If you are a regular regular reader to my blog you might remember that we took a trip along the remote Holland Track south of the Western Australian Goldfields back in April.  If you missed it you can read about it by clicking here - Holland Track - Following the goldrush prospectors

The Holland Track is one of WA's great 4WDrive treks. It lies within the environmentally significant Great Western Woodlands which covers sixteen million hectares and is the largest and healthiest remaining Mediterranean climate woodland left on earth. 


I wrote about our trip for Go Camping & 4WD Adventures Australia magazine - Go Camping on Facebook  - and my story was published in their August-September 2013.

I was excited to see that they used one of my pics for the front cover! You can see the original image below on the left and the cover on the right.  Contrary to what I wrote about capturing cover images in my February blog post - What makes a good magazine cover - they used a horizontal photo, cropped to vertical. You don't always know what the design editor is looking for. So take lots of pics, from different angles and view points. Even though I always say your choice of camera is not important, just get the shot, using a good quality camera with a high resolution image will increase your chances - especially if the magazine decides to crop. But see how the image allows for the magazine's mast head, and space to tell prospective readers what articles they will find in the magazine.  I think what might have won this image over was the camper trailer in the shot.



The image I thought they would use for the cover, they used for the opening page to my article. You can see it below here. They have cropped slightly, but the big section of mud at the bottom of the shot has allowed them to print the first part of the article over the image for the opening page. 
When I presented entered this image at my photography group last month, I didn't receive a very good response for the judge. But I am reminded, that judging is subjective, what one person likes another might not. In this case I have been rewarded because the magazine have published and paid for my shot. 


Of course to get a shot like this you need to first "see" the shot before you take it, and then get out and prepared to stand in the mud and take lots of shots to get that one shot that the magazine will like. 

You need to travel with people who support you and are prepared to stop, wait and be patient while you take pictures. It can add quite a bit of time onto your trip if you are stopping to take photos. My husband is used to that call to "stop the car"! Numerous times I have been left on the side of an outback road while I wait for my husband to drive ahead, or back and then drive towards me so I can get a driving shot.

 As you can see the Holland Track was very muddy when we travelled in late April so you need to drive according to the conditions. It is best to travel the track during autumn and spring not during winter or after rain, and you should travel with others. The track was a variety of mud, sand, rock and gravel and in places corrugated and tightly winding with scrub and trees right up to the edge of the track (impairing driver vision ahead), or hanging low over the track. 


Of course I couldn't get pics like this alone. My thanks go to my husband who drives me where I want to go, to my eldest son and his family who went with us and who have travelled the track before so had had experience of it, to Ryan Butler, the DEC Goldfields Regional Fire Co-Ordinator for background information and who I quoted in the article, and to my youngest son who travels with us with good humour, well mostly good humour. Without them a trek like this would not be possible for me. 

Tracks like the Holland Track are also a fantastic way to introduce children to bush camping, nature and history, and gets them away from the TV and computer games. There is plenty to play with out in the bush!  Two more pictures from my article.



- Where is it? – The 4WD only section runs in a north-easterly direction from 56 km east of Hyden on the Hyden-Norseman Road to Victoria Rock Road, 78km south of Coolgardie.  

-  Distance - Broomehill to Coolgardie is 731 km. 4WD section east of Hyden to Victoria Rock Road is 170 km.

Including travel from Perth you can cover the Track over four days, so be prepared to camp. It is a very achievable trip for people wanting a remote 4WD and bush camping experience close to home.


Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have enjoyed this little review of my Holland Track trip. If you missed the original you can go back and see it by clicking here - Holland Track

I hope to bring you pics of our next camping adventure soon. 

As Jack from Perth who we met on the Holland Track and  who has been exploring lesser used tracks for over 35 years says  “There is always another track isn’t there.”

You might also enjoy - 

Cave Hill, Burra Rock and Woodlines
Camping with heritage - Karalee & Boondi Rocks
Bob Cooper - Australian survival expert




I am linking up to Mosaic Monday, Travel Photos Monday, Our World Tuesday, Tuesday Around the World, Travel Photo Thursday, What's It Wednesday, and Oh the Places I've Been. Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Our World Tuesday
Tuesday Around the World  
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
 Oh The Places I've Been

Monday, 19 August 2013

Travel and food - Clay Pot Chicken, Singapore

 Hi all, I decided to talk some more about food photography and travel as a follow up to my earlier post - Food photography is not just a bowl of cherries

Travel and food go hand in hand. Whenever we travel overseas I love to try different types of typical food. And it helps to be able to know a little about food photography to get a good pic to remember what you ate. I always have good intentions, but sometimes I have half eaten the food before I remember to take a pic!  And sometimes the lighting is not the best either.

A macro lens is a great lens to use for food photography, but I don't like carrying around my good macro lens, especially overseas, and anyway it gets too heavy after a while, and screams "photographer" ! On our recent trip to Singapore I took my great little Canon G11 - a go everywhere, light camera that has lots of SLR features and takes great pics.  Really it is not the camera that it is important, any camera and lens will do - it is you the photographer that takes the pic. 

You wouldn't want to get too close to this clay pot chicken cooking - a macro lens would be no good in this instance (although a 100mm would probably be ok) - those pots are hot!  Lucky there was a glass wall between the pots and the buyers and browsers.

We tried clay pot chicken at the hawkers food market at Sentosa in Singapore. It is great to take pics of not only the food, but the cooking, the cooks, the people, the location, to get the whole story. I take pics of information signs later as a way of collecting background info.


 From Wikipedia  - Claypot chicken rice (Chinese: 砂煲鸡饭, 瓦煲鸡饭 or 煲仔鸡饭) is usually a dinner dish in the southern regions of China, Malaysia and Singapore. It is typically served with Chinese sausage and vegetables. More often than not, the rice is cooked in the claypot first and cooked ingredients like diced chicken and Chinese sausage are added in later. Traditionally, the cooking is done over a charcoal stove, giving the dish a distinctive flavour. Some places serve it with dark soya sauce and also dried salted fish. Salted fish enhances the taste of the claypot chicken rice, depending on the diner's preference. Due to the time-consuming method of preparation and slow-cooking in a claypot, customers might have to wait a period of time (typically 15-30 minutes) before the dish is ready.


Thanks for stopping by. Do you take photos of food when you travel?

To find out more about food photography please go to my last blog post - by clicking here - Food photography is not just a bowl of cherries

I am linking up to Travel Photos Monday and Travel Photo Thursday, and Oh the Places I've Been, Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Travel Photo Mondays
Travel Photo Thursday
 Oh The Places I've Been

You might also like - Travel photography and camera settings

Food photography is not just a bowl of cherries.

Photographing food is an art in itself. I remember a food photographer saying "there is more to food photography than just taking a photo of a bowl of cherries". How true!


Recently I was thrilled to be asked to assist the Photography Group of Bunbury with a food photography workshop.  Photography Group of Bunbury


I wrote a few notes which I hope helped the participants with a tips to help them get started. 

Natural back lighting coming through west facing window
Lighting - natural, studio, spot, lightbox.  Back lighting or side lighting can be very effective.  You can also use reflectors and white board to bounce light.
You don’t necessarily need studio lights to photograph food.  A simple home set-up or speed-light works well especially when you are starting out.
Early morning light











Different types of lighting will evoke different emotions. 

Natural light on the patio


I love natural lighting. Study the light around your house - it will change during the day. For instance I know first thing in the morning that I have fabulous lighting on my patio, then it moves to my dining room window. In the afternoon the kitchen window and down the side of the house outside has nice warm lighting. 

Different times of year produce different types of lighting. The height of summer can be too bright and “hot” and create too much contrast between light and shadow.

 Don’t be put off by a cloudy day – clouds act as a great natural diffuser and even out the light.
Raining outside and you don’t have studio lights? – try a desk lamp or lightbox. 



Equipment - Don’t forget to adjust your white balance on your camera and learn to use manual camera settings. I think my photos improved dramatically when I learnt about manual settings.
Whilst a macro lens is preferable it certainly isn’t essential. Try a magnifying filter on a standard lens.
Consider using a tripod (although I often don’t, preferring to be able to move freely with my camera).

Food and travel go together -- but sometimes a longer lens is preferable - you wouldn't want to get too close to this clay pot cooking in Singapore - those pots are hot!! You can see some more pics and learn more about clay pot cooking by clicking here - Travel food pics & clay pot cooking


Take photos for different angles and viewpoints. The overhead shot can be effective.  Make sure your salad is fresh made.

Natural light diffused by cloud





 Background - colours, patterns etc. Simple is better. Are you going to photograph on your kitchen bench or include the whole story of the food. It depends on the feel you want to convey. 
Collect a range of backdrops and table tops - ie old wooden boards make great table tops for a rustic, country feel. 


You can find some great items in salvage yards, your dad’s back shed, and second hand or antique stores.

 









 
Or go for something dramatic like a black shiny tile. 



Props - Tell the whole story by using props - if you are photographing a plate of food, you might want to include napkins, servers, cutlery, another plate of food in the background, cups or glasses (include the drink).


However don’t clutter the image or have your props overpower the food – remember simple styling is usually better. 
You could try putting yourself in the image - of course you will need a tripod and use the timer function on your camera.


  Make sure the decorations suit the style of food you are photographing - ie you might not want to photograph an upmarket classic dish in a wooden bowl. 

Although sometimes something a bit different makes for a great picture.







A bowl of cherries will look completely different photographed in an elegant dish than when photographed in a basket or wooden bowl. 

Notice the nice side lighting highlighting the cherries and the glass dish. 


 Simple white china is classic and can be used for a variety of dishes. 


Collect a variety of plates, bowls, napkins etc, hunt through your grandmother's china cabinet and cutlery drawer!


Practice makes perfect! Plan your photo shoot. Think about your props, composition and light.


Start simple by photographing fruit or vegetables etc – ie something that is not going to wilt in 10 minutes. 

Once you have mastered the basket of oranges you might want to make the cake. The bonus is that you get to eat it afterwards. 


My husband always knows when I have been photographing food, as he usually gets something different for dinner! 

This cake tastes as delicious as it looks - cooked by Denise from the Photography Group of Bunbury for the workshop - and photographed, tasted and enjoyed by everyone!  




Cooked food creates different issues. You must have your table, background etc set up and ready before you bring the cooked food into the picture. The fresh just-cooked look disappears in mere minutes. There are only so many times you can add more cheese and reheat a pizza!

 Check the small detail.  Take a range of pics and then download and check your images – amazing how a stray piece of lettuce you missed when you were taking the photo is glaringly obvious on the computer screen.
Why isn't the red wine "in" the glass?
 
My next project is to find out about “tethered shooting” where you can view your images on a computer screen as soon as you take them. 



 And lastly - experiment and have fun!
Cupcakes in Singapore
ps –I am not a pro food photographer, but I have been playing around with it for a couple of years. I know I still have lots to learn, particularly about studio lighting.  But I hope these few simple tips will help you. I am hoping one day someone will pay me to photograph food! 

 Browse through cook books or websites for inspiration. 
 
You can see some great work on Flickr food groups.

You could even check out my Flickr food page - go to page 4 when you get there to see my latest food pics -Jill's food pics on Flickr



There are lots of great food photography sites on the net. A couple of my favourite sites are - 


www.dariomilanophotography.com –  Dario is in Sydney Australia – and see Dario’s tips and critiques on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/FoodPixels?hc_location=stream



My all-time favourite is Tartelette - www.tarteletteblog.com

Helene Dujardin is a French expat, lives in USA and has written a fabulous practical handbook for newbie food photographers – From Plate to Pixel. Helene started photographing food in her lounge room and now has a team of photographers working under her and runs food photography workshops.

Thankyou for stopping by to visit - I hope I have inspired you to look at food photography in a different way. I look forward to hearing from you. Have a wonderful week.

 I am linking up to Mosaic Monday, Our World Tuesday, Tuesday Around the World, Foodie Tuesday, and the "What's It Wednesday" party going on over at "Ivy and Elephants". Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Our World Tuesday
Tuesday Around the World  
Foodie Tuesday 
What's It Wednesday



You might also enjoy - 
Lemons and Lemon Butter
Cumquats from tree to marmalade
Delighting in a bowl of cherries

Monday, 12 August 2013

Take me under the sea - world's largest aquarium, Singapore

Today is cold and windy outside far removed from the warm sultry humid conditions of our recent trip to Singapore. So rather than show you pictures from around my cold wintry Western Australia, I decided to warm up by taking you back for a visit to another of our favourite Singapore attractions.  If you missed my last two posts about Singapore, please scroll down to the bottom to find the links.


The S.E.A Aquarium at Sentosa Island, opened in November 2012, is the world's largest acquarium, home to over 1000,000 marine animals.  But first we have to get there. 

There are several options, but we decided to take the Cable Car from Mount Faber (a taxi from your hotel might be the easiest option to get to Mount Faber). The cable car deposits you in the heart of Sentosa, and gives you spectacular views of Singapore and an overall view of what is install for you at Sentosa.  There is so much to see and do at Sentosa you could easily spend several days here - or stay in one of the hotels on Sentosa and be only a short stroll or bus or tram or monorail ride away from the many attractions.



But one attraction you must visit is the S.E.A. Aquarium -  home to 100,000 marine animals of over 800 species in 45 million litres of water. Comprising 10 different zones with 49 habitats, the aquarium takes you on an underwater voyage beginning in Southeast Asia,  through the Arabian Gulf and the Open Ocean. 
 But first up we went through the Maritime Museum where you can learn about the history of sea exploration and trade in Asia.


The entrance to the Aquarium is through a dome tunnel - we chose to go on a week day to try and avoid some of the crowds, but found out later it was a pupil free day in Singapore so there were lots of people! I loved the huge central round tank you can see in the second picture here.


 The various exhibits were amazing!  There is even a shipwreck and a dolphin tank !I And I couldn't help wonder what it was like for a dolphin living in a tank, even though he had some mates to play with. He kept zooming around and coming up to the glass to look at us. Were "we" a curiosity?


I was fascinated by this exhibit showing below and above the water - it represents the Sundarbans Mangrove, home to a myriad of endangered plants and animals found along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.


You wouldn't want to get tangled up with this elegant but stingy creature - the Japanese Sea Nettle.


S.E.A. Aquarium Senior Curator Grant Willis said: “S.E.A. Aquarium offers not only a stunning display of habitats, but also education and conservation programmes in which families and guests can participate.Younger guests will be thrilled to know that we have specially designed exhibits such as the Discovery Touch Pool, the Lens Aquarium and Floor Aquarium, to provide them up close
encounters with our marine residents.”
 Our grandsons were certainly enthralled with the underwater world only inches from them - 


 The centerpiece of the Aquarium is the Open Ocean Gallery seen through the world’s largest viewing panel - 36 metres wide by 8.3 metres tall. (how much water pressure must be pushing against that panel !)  The viewing area is tiered and there was soft "underwater" music playing in the background - you could just sit here being mesmerised by the amazing under water world. I can see now why my husband and son love scuba diving.(but I am not sure I am ready to take it up - too many "bities" for me!)

This manta ray was gliding up and down, turning over and over in a bubble stream. I must say I did feel a little sorry for him trapped in this aquarium, even though the aquarium is huge. He reminded me a bit of a big cat prowling back and forth in front of a wire fence at a zoo. 


If you are going to Singapore I encourage you to add Sentosa's Aquarium to your "must do" list, but plan to go to Sentosa for the whole day and make sure you allow a few hours to enjoy the Aquarium properly.  Of course, on the way out, you can always buy a souvenir of your visit. 



Afterwards you might like to relax on Siloso Beach, participate in some Fish Reflexology , snorkel with the fish, or enjoy the Adventure Cove Waterpark or Universal Studios (but Universal would take another whole day!) - just a few of the activities on offer at Sentosa. Don't worry there are lots of food outlets to keep your energy levels up! 



To find out more, please go to - SEA Aquarium and Sentosa

Thankyou for stopping by to visit - I hope you have enjoyed this little look under the sea. I look forward to hearing from you. Have a wonderful week.

 I am linking up to Mosaic Monday, Travel Photos Monday, Our World Tuesday, Tuesday Around the World, Travel Photo Thursday, Oh the Places I've Been, and the "What's It Wednesday" party going on over at "Ivy and Elephants". Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Travel Photo Mondays
Our World Tuesday
Tuesday Around the World  
What's It Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
 Oh The Places I've Been