PersonalPictorialPortfolio

Blog

Three Pole Dancers on the Beach

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

Last Sunday we experienced one of those glorious winter sunshine days...

It was warm enough to lie with our costumes on the beach and there were quite a few people in the water. As I said before, Thompson's beach surely is one of my favorite places on the Natal north coast.

My wife Cheryl and I went for a walk among the rocks and I took many photographs. As we lay on the sand just chilling, I idly watched a wedding shoot in the distance and wondered what could make this moment any better...

Well it got a lot better and I have the photographs to prove it!

In the distance I saw three woman carrying some sort of a contraption onto the beach. What I did notice was that one of them was quite well build. They proceeded to erect this contraption on the beach a pole sticking upright into the sky supported by a flat round template.

...and then they started to do pole dancing on the beach...!

Of course they weren't really dancing as I was to discover later but exercising. One has to have incredible strength to be able to do all the moves.

It turns out that they give classes in pole dancing. They were from Johannesburg and they have literally taught thousands of women pole dancing skills.

Looking at the images later I also couldn't help to notice how totally non sexual the whole performance on the beach was...just dedicated 'athletes' doing their thing. Totally removed from the stereo typical pole dancer image, at least from my male point of view...

If one good practice was reinforced that memorable Sunday, it was that a photographer should always have a camera on hand...one never knows who might turn up!

regards, Ivan

Three Pole Dancers on the Beach
Three Pole Dancers on the Beach
Three Pole Dancers on the Beach
Three Pole Dancers on the Beach
Three Pole Dancers on the Beach
Three Pole Dancers on the Beach
Three Pole Dancers on the Beach
Created: Fri, 29/06/2012 - 07:52

Surfs up!

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

Last weekend my wife, Cheryl and I went to Durban for the day.

Durban has lost quite a bit of its lustre that it had in the 70' and 80's when it was Johannesburg's holiday playground. Lately though there has been a revamp of some of the infrastructure with a new promenade, the imposing world cup soccer stadium and the new airport...

The sea was very very calm on this overcast day. We just walked along the promenade looking at the people and the sand art on the beaches. There are quite a few piers jutting far out into the ocean and we walked to the end of one of them. At the end of the pier one can look down on the surfers. The waves were not huge but there was this calm sea with the waves breaking right in front of me....

I used two cameras, my full frame Canon 5DmkII with the 35mm EF F2 lens and my Leica X1 with 36mm equivalent lens. Not the type of lenses one would photograph surfers with but that's all I had with me. I tried to keep my shutter speed on the fast side so that I could freeze the waves as they broke and exposure was set as usual on auto.

This is what I saw...

Regards, Ivan

Surfs up!
Surfs up!
Surfs up!
Created: Thu, 28/06/2012 - 11:26

Thompson's Beach

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

Thompson's beach is definitely becoming one of my favorite places to photograph.

This past weekend my wife, Cheryl and I spend the weekend at Salt Rock on the Natal north coast. Salt Rock is next to Balito the most sought after and posh town after Umghlanga.

I have never really liked the Natal coastal areas very much from a visual point of view. Obviously the Cape is far 'prettier' but the water is cold and its far...Natal on the other hand has wonderful warm weather in winter and the seawater is bearable and its much closer than the Cape.... and I am even starting to warm up to the 'visual' part of it...

On Saturday the weather was overcast but on Sunday we experienced one of those perfect sunny blue sky days....

We spend most of the day on the beach people watching and walking and photographing. It is all very very relaxing...

I used my Canon 5d mkII and the cheapest(and most plasticky) lens Canon makes, the 50mm EF f1.8. It gives a slightly narrower point of view than my 'standard' 35mm lens and works well to frame little details on the sand and rocks. The one drawback of a 'full frame' 35mm camera, like the 5DII is that with the 50mm lens the depth of field is relatively narrow even at f11 and looking at some of my images I can see that the images are not in focus from edge to edge. The only thing that will fix' that is a lens that can 'tilt' like the Canon EF 45mm F2.8 TS to give max sharpness (Scheimphlug principle) and then one would have to use a tripod as well or to use a camera with a smaller sensor like my Leica X1...

Another thing that I have discovered over the years is that it is quite difficult to get a good B&W image of beach sand. Thus the first batch of images from Thompson's beach are in colour.....( I am working on the B&W images!)

regards, Ivan

Thompson's Beach
Thompson's Beach
Thompson's Beach
Thompson's Beach
Thompson's Beach
Thompson's Beach
Thompson's Beach
Thompson's Beach
Created: Wed, 27/06/2012 - 09:37

...a (camera) system for all seasons...

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

..and now for a commercial break...

My day job is being a freelance photographer.

I do all sorts of photography, from interiors, architecture, portraits, industrial, advertising even flat art copy work....sort of a 'jack of all trades and still trying to master some...'

As Ted Orland said, even Ansel Adams has to make a living!

Recently I was asked by a good client of mine to do portraits of all 150 of their head office staff for inclusion in their e-mails...more mug shots than anything else, with quite a limited budget.

The staff were photographed over two three hour sessions in a small office. I used my first digital camera, a Canon Eos 20D for the job because of the low pixels, only 8mp, which makes processing 300 images much easier than the 22mp of my regular Canon Eos 5D2, and because then my Canon EF 100mm f2.8 macro will be about a 160mm lens which gives a nice perspective and also because I used a smallish size backdrop.
I used a white paper seamless hung from a custom made 'gutter' which is easy to transport and the whole backdrop can be used on one stand only. The steel 'gutter' is like a 1 meter long trough, and the roll is just 'dropped' into it.

For lighting I used my three Canon flashes and the Canon Speedlite Transmitter ST-E2 to trigger them. The mainlight was a speedlite 580 EXII with a translucent umbrella and a Canon Speedlite 430 EXII to light up the white paper backdrop and another Canon Speedlite 430 EXII with umbrella to give some light on the shadow side of the face...a bit like a hair light but not quite.

For portraits I usually put a bit of 'invisible matte(all skintones) ' base powder on the face with a brush...it takes away some or all of the shine and takes less than a minute to put on myself...I use the Clinique brand for this. But with these mugshots there was no time to do this.

Because of a limited budget I only took two photographs each, a smiley and non smiley one...

This week I had to photograph trucks early in the morning, long before sunrise. When I arrived at the warehouse I realized that there wouldn't even be enough time to 'light' these trucks properly because the whole loading process went so quickly and the drivers couldn't wait because then they would incur penalties....so I used on camera flash with my Canon Eos 5d2 and ISO 800 to 1250 to give my flash extra reach, and a tripod. I haven't used on camera flash for quite a while...My exposures were around 1/4 sec f8 using my Canon EF 17-40 f4L zoom lens and fill in flash with 2stops overexposure because the trucks were all white. Luckily my client and her client was also there so they could see exactly under which conditions I was working...

Then we drove to a nearby highway were I was to photograph the same trucks driving past me...Here I used my 5D2 again but this time with my Canon EF 70-300mmF4-F5.6L IS zoom lens. The camera was set to AI Servo, which means the camera will follow focus on the truck as it drives past me, automatically. All I had to do was follow the truck and zoom in and out to keep the truck nicely centered in the frame....I filled a Sandisc UltraII 8 gig card with trucks speeding by....almost all of the images were nice and sharp with the road slightly blurred.

After the shoot another client of mine phoned to ask me if I could do some family portraits on location for him that afternoon....!

When I got back to my 'home office' to pack my gear for the afternoon's group session I heard an old aeroplane flying past.

I live near a military airport. Once again I grabbed my 'old' 20D put on the 70-300 lens wich wil become a 112 to 480mm lens...long enough so that the aeroplane wouldnt be just a speck in my frame, and waited hopefully for another flypast. It did happen and I got a few passable images.

So onto the group session at a nearby hotel with large gardens...My 'big' 580EXII Speedlite did duty again as main and fill light triggered once again by the Speedlite Transmitter. I used my 5d2 this time with the Canon Eos 24-105F4L IS zoom. I posed the family under a large oak tree and I thought with the setting sun lighting up the yellow leaves made for quite a 'pretty' picture...

So why am telling you all of this?

Because when the pressure is on under a variety of totally different shooting conditions one needs a reliable and versatile system.

Canon makes a system like that and so does Nikon and I think Sony is not far behind.Is one system better than another? I really don't think so...but I like the fact that there is competition, it keeps all of us on our toes!

These tools make our jobs so much easier. They take care of the basics which is exposure and focusing. They have a tool for our every need. They work reliable and accurately for assignment after assignment.

They just do the job....thank you Mr Canon!

...staff portraits for Africa...
...staff portraits for Africa...
...a few of the staff in greater detail...done my way...
...a few of the staff in greater detail...done my way...
...a family group photo on location in a winter garden..
...a family group photo on location in a winter garden..
...family group photo..
...family group photo..
...from my balcony...
...from my balcony...
...this plane is called the 'Outeniqua'...
...this plane is called the 'Outeniqua'...
...trucks for Africa...
...trucks for Africa...
...my 'standard' portable lighting setup...
...my 'standard' portable lighting setup...
Created: Wed, 20/06/2012 - 12:37

From Centurion to Weppener...the journey begins...

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

At 0km...,

In December 2011 my wife, Cheryl, and I took a quick three day photographic journey to Philippolis via Bethulie. Both these towns are in the Southern Freestate. The area is quite arid and flat with the big 'feature' of course the 'mighty' Orange river flowing into the Gariep dam.

We stayed in Bethulie the first night and then drove to Philippolis for our 2nd and last night. On the third day we drove back home. We drove a total of about 1600km over the three days.

I wrote about this journey in my blog starting at the end and working my way back to the beginning....

So....this is the beginning....

At 210km's...

We left Centurion early the morning and drove as much as we could to get out of the City environment and to reach the 'platteland' as quickly as possible. Our first stop was at 210km where I was attracted by the row of bluegum of trees on the horizon and the ubiquitous watermill that is found all over our country.

At 416km's...

Because of roadworks on the main road to Bloemfontein we took a detour through Brandfort. We stopped and stretched our legs in front of this beautiful and well preserved old Dutch Reformed Church...

At 511k's...

Bloemfontein was a big disappointment, not that we wanted to stop and take photographs, but it just looked so tatty and dirty, and this was just before the 100th anniversary of the ANC which was held there a few days later....I hoped the city council made an attempt to clean up the city..

After we had left Bloemfontein we drove through the townships adjacent to the city for a very long distance before we reached open and clean landscapes. It is quite nerve wracking driving through the township areas as the normal rules of the road don't apply. The are no more fences next to the road so one would have cattle and goats casually strolling across the road in front off incomming traffic, pedestians walking all over the place and taxis doing what South African taxis do.....

Once we had left the city behind we were in the typical Freestate landscape again were there are only yellow grass land, clouds and telephone poles....

At 558km's ...

On the road to Dewetsdorp we saw this typical rural bridge over a small river. The bridge was painted white and reminded me of my youth. In those days we didn't have any highways and we always traveled on roads just like the one we were on now.....narrow roads through an unending flat grass landscape with the only points of interest the telephone lines, black tar roads and every now and again the little white bridges.....and I remember vaguely the massive dust storms I saw as a small child sitting on the backseat of my fathers car...

regards, Ivan...

...at 210km's...
...at 210km's...
...at 416km's...
...at 416km's...
...at 416km's...
...at 416km's...
...at 511 km's...
...at 511 km's...
...at 558km's...
...at 558km's...
Created: Fri, 15/06/2012 - 10:21

Weppener...

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

At 599km's...

Weppener is a small Freestate town named after Kommandant Louw Weppener. It is a very sad looking town with a part of the once beautiful Town Hall burnt down...and with no sign of any activity to repair the fire damage. Once again, unfortunately, proof that many of the small towns are very poorly managed by mostly uncaring, unqualified, incompetent and corrupt councillors...

It must have been a beautiful town in its hey day and there is even an arch across the main road as you enter town signalling the pride that was once here...

regards, Ivan

Weppener...
Stefan the mechanic...
Stefan the mechanic...
Weppener...
Weppener...
Weppener...
Created: Tue, 12/06/2012 - 07:46

From Weppener to Bethulie...

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

At 671, 738, 769 & 783km's...

We left Weppener after a picnic on the lawn of the Dutch Reformed Church and looked forward to the last leg of our journey to Bethulie. The areas we drove through were quite remote with few things to see except windmills dotted all over the landscape.

Just before Bethulie we crossed the Slyk river and in the distance we could just see the tip of the symmetrical hill that was the 'star' of my previous post. It was also one of the few 'green' areas that we had seen with the landscape up to now mostly just yellow grass fields...

I hope these images give a bit of the feeling of desolation and the heat of a hot summers day. To achieve this 'feel' I desaturated the images more than usual, increased the blacks and removed some blue from the sky. I used mostly Adobe Lightroom 3 for these actions with a few minor tweaks in Photoshop...

regards, Ivan...

From Weppener to Bethulie...
From Weppener to Bethulie...
From Weppener to Bethulie...
From Weppener to Bethulie...
From Weppener to Bethulie...
From Weppener to Bethulie...
Created: Mon, 11/06/2012 - 16:07

...a Symmetrical Hill before Bethulie...

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

At 789km's...

Just before we reached our final destination for the day we saw, from afar, on the horizon a symmetrical 'koppie' or hill.

I stopped to take some photographs, which wasn't easy as we were close to our last stop for the day and having travelled almost 800km since we left Centurion early that morning, we were very tired to say the least.

This post is really an exercise in 'variation'. All the photographs in this post are of the same subject matter, the symmetrical koppie. I only had to slightly change my point of view to incorporate all the different elements I found close together near where I had parked.

There was a road marker, telephone pole and lines, a tar road and markings on the road.

By walking around I could change the foreground completely with the background, the koppie, staying the same.

In all the photographs I placed the koppie in the middle of my photograph. I know this is a 'no no' but I like to break rules and the 'golden ratio' or 'rule of thirds' regarding composition doesn't mean much to me and I would never consciously use these rules while looking and composing through the viewfinder. In fact I more often than not like to put the centre of attention smack bang in the middle of my photographs...

The solarized images were processed with Nik Color Efex 3.0. The actions are rather straight forward and there is not much to explain except to play around a bit and stop when what you see on the screen, looks pleasant to your eye. One can get carried away a bit with all these actions and one has to guard against silliness.

I used the Leica X1 for all these photographs and the exposure was automatic with the aperture set to F11. I almost always use the hyper focal distance to get maximum depth of field.

regards, Ivan...

...a Symmetrical Hill before Bethulie...
...a Symmetrical Hill before Bethulie...
...a Symmetrical Hill before Bethulie...
...a Symmetrical Hill before Bethulie...
...a Symmetrical Hill before Bethulie...
...a Symmetrical Hill before Bethulie...
...a Symmetrical Hill before Bethulie...
Created: Thu, 07/06/2012 - 15:58

Bethulie Accommodation

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

I have posted quite a few images and thoughts about our photographic journey to Bethulie and Philippolis.

Undoubtedly the non photographic highlight was our stay at the 'Old Watchmakers Guesthouse and Bistro'. We only stayed there for one night, and I am sorry we couldn't stay for more..

When I phoned to book I jokingly mentioned that I must be the only person in the country that would travel all the way from Centurion to Bethulie to celebrate his wedding anniversary...! The owner of the Old Watchmakers, Mrs M Frewen, immediately offered to put flowers, champagne and dark chocolate in our room....she also asked if we would like to have dinner...not knowing whats available in town I accepted the dinner reservation.

When we arrived there late the Saturday afternoon we warmly greeted as only South Africans can and shown our superb room. In our room was the champagne, flowers and Lindt dark chocolate..as promised! One must understand that Bethulie is about 200km from the nearest large town where luxury items like this can be purchased... it must have been some effort to get all this for ready for our arrival. The Karoo lamb meal that evening was also superb and was personally made by Mrs M Frewen, the owner. So was breakfast the next morning...

But our biggest surprise was that all this came to a grand total of about R700-00 ( about 70 euro)...!

I can heartily recommend this establishment, and I can honestly say that we were treated like royals!

Check out their website at...http://www.oldwatchmakers.co.za/

regards, Ivan...

Bethulie Accommodation
Created: Wed, 06/06/2012 - 14:08

The Boys from Bethulie

A Blog Post by Ivan Muller

Still at 800km's...

As we drove out of Bethulie on our way to Philippolis I saw a new RDP hosing project being built. I stopped to take a few photographs of the toilets....I remembered that this was a favourite subject of documentary photographers in the days of apartheid. I looked at them and wondered....

While I was doing this bit of daydreaming two guys walked past with a little shopping bag. I asked them if I could take their photograph. While I was busy with this one of their friends a distance away shouted and asked if he could join them. I waited for him to join the group and took a few more photographs and then another guy came running and joined the group...it was laughs and jokes throughout the whole ' group photo session '.

I had a chat with them and discovered that most of them are unemployed except one guy that had a job. When asked what they were doing here in Bethulie they said that here was less crime here than in Capetown....

Martino, Klaas, Russel and Seune are part of a group of people known as the 'so called coloureds' a name that is often used to describe them while we wait for an 'official' name for this group...

I often wonder why we still have racial classifications here in my country so many many years after our 'liberation'......and does that dog also think his master is a 'so called coloured'....

regards, Ivan...

The Boys from Bethulie
The Boys from Bethulie
The Boys from Bethulie
Created: Mon, 04/06/2012 - 17:26