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. I am a photographer, writer and multi-media artist.
Focussing mainly on Western Australia and Australia, I am seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.



Wednesday 27 February 2013

Travel photography and camera settings - manual or automatic?

Since I embraced the advent of digital photography when I bought my first digital camera for an overseas trip in 2005 my photography journey has been on a steady upward rising curve. I discovered that I LOVE photography! I now never go anywhere without a camera!  But I must confess until the last few years I basically only used "automatic settings" and they have served me pretty well I think.  I feel when I am travelling I need to grab the shot as it presents itself and not miss the moment. I tend to concentrate on composition. I don't feel like I have time to fiddle around with checking exposure and settings, but perhaps that is just an excuse for not "knowing" the technical side of photography.

This is Cable Beach, Broome -

and amazing Purnululu in Western Australia's Kimberley region, as seen in my article for On The Road magazine, November 2011.

even underwater!

I love wildflower photography and I do use Aperture Priority for flowers - as in this Rusty Hakea in the Fitzgerald National Park on Western Australia's south coast -

I have used "sports" mode for freezing the action at a dragon boat regatta -

and shutter priority to capture gentle light - when I have had a tripod with me - this is a road through Karri trees at Pemberton in our south west corner - 

TIME TO LEARN MORE - But using full MANUAL mode? this is entirely new to me. Setting the ISO, aperture, shutter speed and metering for exposure. I have got to the point with my photography where I think I need to step up! I have recently enrolled in a beginners photography short course which runs for 2 and a half hours, one night a week for 8 weeks with a professional photographer with many many years of international experience. Yes, I am going right back to the beginning to fill in the gaps I have missed out along the way. And the first thing we are learning of course - immediately - is full manual mode. I certainly have a lot to learn! We are doing portraits first, another area which I have difficulty with. I prefer candid shots.

Here is one of my first attempts - low light, on full manual, candid portrait of Spanish dancer - trying to catch a candid portrait while action is happening and checking/adjusting your settings but still "see" the shot is not so easy! Like I said it is time to step up - a new huge learning curve for me -

So where are you at with your photography? Do you use "automatic" or "manual" mode? Or do you use one of the priorities, ie Aperture Priority, and let the camera figure out the rest? After all cameras are very intuitive these days. You can make adjustments in processing, but I prefer to get it right in the camera. And this is what our lecturer emphasised today "get it right in camera".

Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and where you are at with your photography.
I am linking up with Travel Photo Thursday, please click on the link here to see the work and images from other contributors around the world - Travel Photo Thursday

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On the road in the Kimberley
Which camera will I take with me?

Sunday 24 February 2013

Photographing on black

Playing around with photographing on a black tile in my light box with my macro lens the other day. I must say I haven't used my light box for a long time, so it was fun to get it out and experiment.

 Truss tomatoes - I like the way the red really stands out against the black in this shot - just be careful you clean off all the specs on the black tile or glass - it is amazing how they show up on your image!

Cinnamon quills - 

Star Anise -

old spoons -

This one is mushrooms on a mirror with a black backdrop-

cherries on mirror with white backdrop -

and cinnamon on brown paper

and Orios! on white with white background -

 Thank you for stopping by. Do you spend time playing around and experimenting with your camera? Have a wonderful week.

If you would like to see more of my food photography please go to my Flickr page by clicking here Jill's food set on Flickr

I am linking up to Mosaic Monday  and Our World Tuesday  . Please click on the links to see the work of other contributors around the world. 


Wednesday 20 February 2013

Which camera will I take with me?

with apologies to Shakespeare - To Lug or not to Lug? That is the Question.       

While on holiday we always find ourselves climbing through gorges, walking along a trail to a sight that shouldn’t be missed, or exploring new towns and cities on foot. And as a photographer the question always arises, to lug or not to lug camera equipment?  Do I lug a backpack with cameras, lenses, filters, paraphernalia, tripod (all this surely yells “photographer” to any would-be thief!), with one camera easily accessible in a waist pack to grab photographic opportunities whilst I juggle walking poles – the poles help me with balancing all that weight in the camera bag on my back and I need the extra support on bush tracks ……. And if we are hiking and camping overnight, well there is camping gear as well......

 In the pursuit of “that photo” I have lugged a camera backpack through the amazing domes of Purnululu,  up and down rocky ledges in magnificent gorges along the Gibb River Road, Karijini and central Australia, up mountains, around lakes, along beaches, rivers and forest trails, tramped around the base of Uluru, climbed to lookouts along spectacular coastline, and most insanely walked for two hours in 38 plus degree heat in the Keep National Park in the Northern Territory – we wouldn’t normally hike in 38 degree heat but we were on holiday! Make sure you definitely lug water and wear a hat for that one! 

Keep National Park, Northern Territory, Australia
Last summer we travelled to Denmark, Walpole and Shannon in the spectacular Walpole Wilderness area of Western Australia’s south coast.  And true to photographic endeavour I packed two cameras, 3 lenses, two tripods, paraphernalia, and a laptop to download photos. Normally my camera bag sits at my feet on the floor of the front seat along with a bag of maps, travel brochures and a notebook, with one camera on top to grab quickly.  It is a little crowded around my feet with all that stuff! However this time it was a little different.  The camera bag was relegated to the floor behind my seat, and I kept at hand my previous year’s acquisition, my Canon G11 – a light, compact, handy little camera with many great SLR features, swivel screen, macro, and 5xzoom. 

So when my husband pulled over to the side of the road so I could take yet another wildflower or scenic photo, or we strolled along magnificent coastlines, tramped through towering Karri forests, and photographed pelicans waiting for a feed from local fishermen on the beach, my hefty camera bag was left laying on the floor of the backseat, and my compact was given preference.  

Denmark, Western Australia
Whether you carry a backpack full of gear or one camera really depends on what you want to photograph and why you are taking photos.  If you are hiking a distance a small compact camera may be ideal, however if your primary motive is to take photos then a DSLR and accessories, including tripod would be preferable. It important to decide what your prime goal is, as whatever you choose to aid one goal may be at a sacrifice to the other. 

When I am travelling and using my DSLR, I always seem to be changing lenses – it doesn’t matter what lens I put on I always seem to have to change it depending on varying photographic opportunities – while my poor companions wait patiently under the shade of a tree or walk on to leave me taking off my backpack yet again and juggling with lenses (hopeless if you are with a tour group!)

Me and my camera - photo taken by my husband while waiting!
 I have started carrying my G11 with me everywhere, but I think I have now come to a place where I want to capture images as they present themselves, those moments in time, without planning ahead and worrying about the setting up. I am questioning “why do I take photos” and I want to return to just enjoying photography, not with the thought of a possible monetary reason.  However, as a freelance travel writer, a camera is essential for you never know when your next story will jump into view.  

Great Central Road, Western Australia
So did I get the shots I wanted on my trip to the south coast? I took a whole range of photos with my compact from flowers to landscapes.  As with all trips, some of the photos stood out, and some did not, but they did include saleable shots to go with several travel articles. Undoubtedly I could have done better if I had taken more time and used my DSLR, but I don’t always have the luxury of time. 

Shannon National Park, Western Australia
On our next trip I again lugged my backpack of camera gear – you never know when that award winning photograph will present itself, and you want to be prepared.

So the question is - does it really matter what sort of camera you have? I guess it all depends on what your end goal is – for yourself, for your blog, for magazines, or for printing on a huge scale for sale.

Uluru - Can you tell which is the DSLR photo and which was taken with my compact G11?
 In todays’ world of "instagram" phone photography and social media thousands of photos are downloaded every day to photo sharing sites.  To get a winning shot maybe it really just comes down to being in the right place at the right time with a camera -  any camera - and a photographic eye.  After all, the camera may be the mechanism to record the scene but it is the photographer that captures the image! 

Bibbulmun Track near Balingup, Western Australia
I hope you have enjoyed reading my ramblings. Have you had this delema? I am interested to hear your thoughts.
Did you pick which photo of Uluru was taken with the DSLR?

I am linking up to Travel Photo Thursday. Please click on the link to see photographic travels around the world - Travel Photo Thursday 

Sunday 17 February 2013

Grapes are not just for wine

We are blessed to live in a Mediterranean climate in the stunningly beautiful South West corner of Western Australia, and not far from three prime vineyard, grape growing, and premium wine making areas - Geographe, Margaret River and Pemberton. 

According to my preserves book, Australia's Home Made Jams & Preserves, compiled by CSR -  The history of grape growing in Australia goes back to 1791 when Governor Phillip (Australia's first Governor who lead the First Fleet to Australia in 1788) provided grape cuttings and granted 140 acres of land on the north bank of the Parramatta River at the farming settlement of Rose Hill (as Parramatta was then called) in New South Wales to Phillip Schaffer who started what must have been one of the first vineyards in Australia.  Ten years later, two Frenchmen also began producing wine at Parramatta and the Australian wine industry began. 

For as along as I can remember my family have always had a grape vine in their backyard. When my mother and father moved to live in a retirement village nearer to us, I brought a piece of their vine with me. My son also took cuttings to grow in his garden. You can see our grape vine in this picture. We put net over it to keep out the birds, however they still seem to find a way in!

A few months after Mum and Dad were married Dad became Depot Supervisor with the Vacuum Oil Co at Goomalling (a country wheatbelt town in Western Australia). They moved there on 15th February, 1952. In the backyard of their rented house there was a grape vine with grapes hanging on it. Dad went to the store and bought a preserving pan and they made their first grape jam. Ever since, up until they moved to our town, they have had a grape vine in their back yard and made grape jam every year in that same preserving pan.  
 Dad still makes grape jam. In fact he made some this weekend from grapes which came from the vine in my yard.
Here are some stages of the grapes. 

My son and I carry on our family's grape jam making tradition. I fact, surprisingly, considering we live in a grape growing region, I have never seen grape jam anywhere else! Perhaps it is the huge job of taking out the seeds that is the problem! But I think the result is worth it.

The basic recipe is half the amount of sugar to weight of grapes. We always pluck the grapes off the bunches the night before, weigh them and put them in the pan ready to cook the next morning. Squish up the grapes with your hands to let the juice out. (I have great memories of helping to do this as a child out on our back patio. I loved the squishy feeling of the grapes between my fingers)
You don't need any water as there is plenty of juice. I usually throw in a couple of halved lemons and take them out later, as the pectin in the lemon peel helps the jam set. Cook the grapes for about an hour before adding the sugar. The seeds will rise to the top during cooking, and you will need to scoop them out. A seedless grape would probably make great jam as the seed removing is a huge job!

The scones you see in the bottom photo where made with unprocessed ground wheat flour straight from my brother-in-law and nephews farm at Bruce Rock.  The jam jar with the brown lid is a special jar with unusual cut sides. My mother gave me this jar and I always use it for grape jam. 

When I was a child and Mum was making pastry for a pie if there was any left she would roll it out in a rough shape, bake it and then spread jam on it. I still do this - I guess it is one of those childhood memories I hold on to. I am sure we all have memories we cherish from our childhood.

The last few weeks I have been doing a Lightroom e-course with Kim Klassen. Below you can see some different versions of the scones. I rather like the bottom right hand one - sort of an antique rustic country look.

 When the autumn comes I still enjoy photographing my grape vine.

To close, a little quote from Ruth Tearle.

 Do you make jam? Have you ever tasted grape jam?
Thanks for stopping by. I look forward to hearing from you.Have a wonderful week. 

I am linking up with  Mosaic Monday at Little Red House. And also Our World Tuesday  
Please click on the links to see the offerings of contributors from around the world.

To learn more about some of Western Australia's wine growing regions you can visit the websites of the Geograph, Margaret River, and Pemberton wine regions.

You can also learn more about the Geographe wine region at Jo Castro's fabulous Western Australian travel and lifestyle blog - Zig-a-Zag -  click on the link here - Wineries in the Geographe Wine Region 

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Spring Jam making  
Cumquats from tree to marmalade 

Wednesday 13 February 2013

What makes a good magazine cover shot?

As a casual freelance travel magazine writer and photographer, one of my ultimate goals is to have one of my photos on a magazine cover.  For me it is a thrilling huge achievement. I am happy to tell you that I’ve just had my second cover shot published on Go Camping Australia magazine February-March 2013 edition. Read on to see how this cover came about and a few tips that may be useful for creating your own cover shots. 

 Often when we are on a touring and camping trip I say to my husband “stop the car!” This is not because we have had an argument, or I need to find a bush to crouch behind. It is usually because I have either seen yet another wildflower I want to photograph or a “travel” image I need to capture right at that moment. My husband is used to my requests, but I need to be careful I don’t request it too often, or a four hour drive may take eight hours – it’s been known to happen as we ramble around the countryside taking an alternate route to see something different. If you don’t drive a different route you won’t see anything different will you? In fact renowned Australian photographer Ken Duncan reiterated at a photography seminar I attended, if you see an image while you are out travelling you should stop and take it. Thank you Ken!  I feel justified.

I’ve even dropped everything in the middle of getting dinner to run and capture a golden hour shot. I was actually in the middle of peeling vegetables in the kitchen of our rented beach cottage in Denham (Shark Bay Western Australia) when I saw this image and ran out to take it, leaving my husband to finish preparing dinner. Like I said, my husband is used to it by now.

It's waiting for its own cover - I have a vertical image too - remember to shoot both vertical and landscape.  They both have their uses when you are pitching to a magazine. 

I love the ‘drive-by’ shot. I think they are great for travel articles. On many occasions I have been left standing on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere to take a ‘drive by’ shot, trusting that my husband will come back for me and won’t just go disappearing down the road into the distance, never to return, or as in this case, over a crocodile infested river! Perhaps I asked him once too often to "stop the car!"

Be always careful however with a drive-by particularly if you are going to step out onto the road to take your photo.  Look for traffic before you do. I mostly only do drive-bys on quiet roads. No photo is worth being hit by a car. 

It was one of my ‘drive-by’ shots that appeared on the front cover of Go Camping Australia magazine. Two years ago we travelled the Great Central Road between Kalgoorlie in Western Australia and Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. We had gone on ahead and were waiting at the side of the road for our son who was travelling with us with his family. When he came over the sand ridge I saw the image and I fired off several photos in quick succession. With the blue sky, the outback environment, and the 4WD kicking up the dust on the red road disappearing over the rolling desert sand hills, I knew it was a perfect cover shot.  

 Good covers are very important for magazines as they drive sales.  Have a look at the magazine racks and see what covers attract your attention. Why do they? What makes a perfect cover shot? I am no expert, as in eleven years of casual Freelance writing, I have only had two covers, but I have a few tips you might like to consider.
  • Always have your eyes open to see the shot and recognise its potential. 
  •  Always have a camera at the ready. I take my small Canon P&S with me everywhere.  You never know when ‘that shot’ will pop up in front of you. 
  • Take several images to make sure you nail the shot. It is amazing what a slight change in position or lighting can do for the shot.  Search out images to take during the golden hours, although you can’t always be everywhere at the perfect time. You need to take the opportunity when it comes. 
  •  The image must have impact, and a ‘must see inside’ look. 
  •  The image needs to be ‘portrait’ orientated.
  •  Different genres require different sorts of images. Study the magazine you are pitching at, know their market and what sort of cover shots they use.  Ask them for contributor guidelines.
  •  The image needs space so that it can work with the magazine’s masthead. There needs to be room to place the magazine’s name and cover lines which tell readers what articles they will find inside the magazine.  There needs to be room around the image to include all this without impacting on the image.  When you take the photo try to leave room around your focal point. The magazine can always crop. 
  •  It is ultimately up to the editors and publishing staff, as sometimes an image  that initially screams  ‘cover’ doesn’t actually work once they start laying out the mast head and teaser lines. 
  •  Know what images you have on your hard drive, so when an Editor sends out a blanket email to her writers asking urgently for a cover image, you know what you have to offer. This is how my shot landed on the cover of the latest Go Camping Australia. I knew I had the shot, and where to find it quickly. 

 What was my first cover shot? This one of the Thrombolites at Lake Clifton just south of Mandurah in Western Australia, published in Australian Coast and Country magazine, Edition 1, 2008. We just happened to be there during the "golden hour".

·       Landscape orientated images can work too for opening spreads for your articles. The image below was actually taken through the windscreen of our vehicle on the dusty Gibb River Road. I saw the image – “Queen Victoria’s Head” rock with the two laden 4WDs coming towards us. I was ready with my camera but I only had time to take one quick shot, which appeared as the opening spread for my article about the Kimberleys for “On the Road” magazine - November 2011 edition.  See how in this shot they have been able to overlay the writing over the sky.

Take it from me – seeing YOUR photo on the front of a magazine is a fantastic feeling! 

          Be ready with your camera
          Have a patient driving companion and 
          If you are going to jump out of the car and stand on the side of the road to do a ‘drive by’ shot, protect your camera from the dust. I lost a valuable camera half way through a trip through dust getting into the lens. Luckily I had another camera with me.

  I hope this has been useful reading. Happy travelling and have fun with your photography. You never know where it will lead you

If you would like to see more of my published work, including layouts of opening spreads on my articles, please go to my tab "published work" along the top of my page. Thanks. 

You can also read more about the Great Central Road by clicking on my post here - Free camping on the Great Central Road
The image on the left is from my article about one of it's free campsites, Yarla Kutjarra, which was featured in On The Road's Free Campsites 2012 guide.

 Today I am linking up to Travel Photo Thursday. Please click on the link to see images from around the world. You might find your next holiday destination!  Travel Photo Thursday  


Monday 11 February 2013

The fruits of summer

I love the fruit this time of year, especially the beautiful stone fruits that we can buy locally grown in our area - peaches, nectarines, plums. The plums with the dark red flesh are my favourite. I used to always buy satsuma plums, but now they are hard to find, so I buy a "rosa" plum variety. Evidently the red flesh varieties are very high in anti-oxidants. 

According to the Department of Agriculture and Food "The south-west region has a temperate Mediterranean climate, suitable soils and availability of good quality, irrigation water which favours the production of high quality, flavoured and well coloured stone fruit". So how lucky are we!
Mixed in with that we also have strawberries, blueberries, grapes, cherries, rhubarb, bananas, apples.... No wonder I love the fruits of summer!

hmm...where are the strawberries! We haven't grown strawberries for years. At one time we used to go out to a strawberry garden just out of Bunbury where you could "pick your own" (tastings allowed). We used to pick a few kilo, eat them fresh and make strawberry jam - so delicious straight from the vine.

We only have a small back garden, but we have an apricot, lemon, and orange trees and two grape vines. And during summer a few tomato plants. Below you can see our trees. On the RHS of the top picture you can see the net "structure" made from irrigation pipe that we put up over our apricot tree so that the birds don't take all our fruit. The apricots are usually finished by mid-January, so then we take the net off and put it over our grape vine (LHS). It is the only way we can keep the birds away, but still they manage to find little holes to come through.

So from apricot flowers to fruit - 

How about a beautiful apricot dessert -

This one has Tiramisu  mixture on the top - 

or a delicious apricot and almond dessert slice with cream. I made this with home bottled apricots, you can see them in the background.
Recipe compliments of Tartlette - go here for the link - Apricot & almond tart

Or how about a simple fresh summer fruit bowl with yoghurt or for breakfast with musli? I don't know why I don't have a breakfast like this every day this time of year!

And of course you can't forget the jam making

So there you have it. The fruits of summer. Do you have fruit trees growing in your back yard?
Next week I will come back and tell you about the grape jam making - it is a tradition in our family.

Until then...... I'm having breakfast on my patio with the travel section of the newspaper while I dream about our next holiday.  Have a wonderful week. I look forward to hearing from you. 

I am linking up with Mary and the other wonderful contributors at Mosaic Monday at Little Red House and Our World Tuesday. Please click here on the links to see their contributions...... 

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