2018-09-05 - Rooftops and Gutters - Axsys

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Started the day early in order to be on time for photographing the sunrise from the rooftop at Axsys.

Solar panels, electrical installations, formal portraits, training sessions and yes, stormwater drains, all formed part of today’s subject matter.

Chrissi did a great job of setting everything up, then ended up sick in bed on the day of the photoshoot.

2018-09-03 - Think Tank Airport TakeOff


Think Tank makes the best travelling bags for photographers.

The Airport TakeOff rolling camera bag is my number one travelling necessity. It can pretty much carry half a studio, plus a fair bit of office, in relative comfort.

I usually fit in two pro-sized Canon camera bodies with my "most used" lenses attached, plus two additional lenses (all with lens caps), light meter, all the spare batteries, memory cards and filters I would normally use, as well as my laptop, tablet, phone and chargers for all the above. There’s even a stretchable side pocket for storing a compact tripod or monopod.

There are enough outside pockets to store pretty much eveything you may need in a hurry and a few waterproof zip pockets inside as well. More than enough compartments to keep everything organised - from backups of my paperwork to business cards, emergency medical kit to cash, sunglasses, prescription glasses, recreational reading ... everything but the kitchen sink.

With two of these - the second to carry Profoto lights, the “just-in-case” extra camera body, batteries, the make-up kit for portrait subjects and all the bits and pieces that didn’t fit in the first bag, you really do have everything you need at your fingertips.

The bag is made from fairly water-repellent, abrasion resistant material (featuring ballistic nylon and coated fabric) and has tall skid plates on the bottom that help protect the bag and your equipment from moisture, abrasion and dust, while the padded inside and padded, touch-fastening dividers cushion everything from shocks.

The dividers are all movable and removable and can fasten anywhere and in any orientation inside the case, so the layout is completely customisable. The sturdy YKK zippers are lockable, with the bag sporting a security cable as well.

The 80mm wheels are well designed, quiet and big enough to handle most terrain, and the telescoping handle is actually long enough at full extension so even a tall guy doesn't look like a knuckle-dragging gorilla when pulling it along. But the bag also has a neat set of tuck-away padded shoulder straps for those situations where the wheels can't cut it. Lastly it sports the traditional side carrying handle. as well as a top carrying handle with a second handle at the bottom - just in case you have to go fording rivers with the case held on your head ...

Lastly, at 355mm x 530mm x 220mm, it falls neatly within the size parameters most airlines have for carry-on bags. Which means even if they lose your luggage or leave it behind at OR Tambo International, you'll still have your most important equipment.

2018-08-20 - Farm life - Molatek - Vrede


He may be de-horned, but this bull still has an intimidating stare.

We are spending two days photographing cattle, sheep, maize fields, farmers, farm workers and generally everything around the farm for Molatek.

Today was a loooooong day.

Left Pretoria before the sun was up and worked until well after sundown.

Tomorrow we get to start photographing before sunrise and will probably not make it back to Pretoria before sundown.

Lukily the beds at the Vrede Hotel are soft and comfortable. Because my pillow is calling already.

2018-07-25 - Port Elizabeth & East London - Discovery Foundation Awards

We arrived Sunday evening and spent a relaxing evening in Summerstrand.

Monday started the whirlwind again. Four hospitals in three days. Luckily the weather is fine, the hospital staff are friendly and the accommodations at The Blue Lotus Guest House in Summerstrand are heavenly.

2018-07-20 - A whole lot of exposures for that one perfect image

Staša Jordan

So exactly how many photos have we alredy taken for the Discovery Foundation Awards project? How many does it take to complete this type of project?

Well, let me tell you, it’s a lot! So far we have taken over 3000 photographs at more than 20 hospitals, and we expect that the final count will be somewhere around 10000 exposures. That’s not counting “behind-the-scenes” shots taken by Michelle, Marinda and even the occasional passing nurse or bystander.

To give you an idea of why and how the numbers get that high, let’s look at some typical photoshoots during this project.

There are over 50 awards, some of them awarded to organisations or teams, others to research projects or individual doctors. We usually set up the formal portrait shoot first. We photograph each doctor individually, typically taking anywhere from 50 to 200 exposures from different angles and using different poses. After the individual shots, any that received an award as a team are photographed together, generating a similar batch of exposures. Sometimes, there there will also be shots of the hospital management, depending on their involvement in promoting the projects or individuals receiving awards.

Once all the formal portraits are done, we follow the award recipient around while they carry out some of the normal activities involved in their work. This usually takes about 3 hours in the hospital ward, clinic or laboratory, sometimes with additional time in the operating theatre and again generates a bunch of exposures.

Finally, back at base, we put together a set of contact sheets with all the exposures for a specific recipient or project and this goes to the client - Discovery - to choose their favourites.

For a single award recipient - the South African Breastmilk Reserve and their Executive Director Staša Jordan - we took 270 exposures, shown in the contact sheets above, from which the client selected their 12 favourites for editing and publication.