News & New Prod­ucts

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Panasonic tar­gets pro­fes­sion­als with its new Lu­mix G9 mir­ror­less cam­era, Le­ica re­vives the CL badge on a new ‘APS-C’ mir­ror­less cam­era, a ma­jor firmware up­grade gives Has­sel­blad’s X1D a bunch of new fea­tures, Sony launches the A7R III which com­bines 43 MP and 10 fps, Ep­son ap­plies the EcoTank con­cept to an A3 for­mat photo printer, and much more. For the lat­est news from the imag­ing in­dus­try visit www.avhub.com.au

The prover­bial bus­man’s hol­i­day is de­fined by the dic­tio­nary as “a va­ca­tion dur­ing which a per­son en­gages in ac­tiv­ity that is the same as or sim­i­lar to his or her usual em­ploy­ment”. So, as the sum­mer hol­i­day sea­son is upon on us, does it make sense for pho­tog­ra­phers to pack away the cam­eras and do some­thing else dur­ing the break?

Per­son­ally, I don’t think so… at least not go­ing as far as giv­ing up pho­tog­ra­phy altogether. Be­ing freed from the nor­mal sched­ules, the de­mands of dead­lines and the day-to-day busi­ness of run­ning a busi­ness is the per­fect op­por­tu­nity to try some­thing dif­fer­ent pho­to­graph­i­cally, es­pe­cially if you hap­pen to be away from home and in new sur­round­ings as well. Af­ter all, to quote an­other pop­u­lar say­ing, a change is as good as a rest. More im­por­tantly, this is the time to recharge the cre­ative batteries and find new in­spi­ra­tions, ex­plore dif­fer­ent ideas, and add to your reper­toire of skills and tech­niques. It doesn’t have to be for­malised or have par­tic­u­lar goals – that’s a bit too much like still be­ing at work – but the idea is to be open to ev­ery­thing and any­thing.

Where to start? Well, when did you last take some time to look at the work of oth­ers? I don’t mean a quick browse so it’s all for­got­ten af­ter a cou­ple of min­utes, but a se­ri­ous im­mer­sion whereby you re­ally try to un­der­stand what it’s all about. And I’m not only think­ing pho­tog­ra­phers here, but other vis­ually cre­ative peo­ple… artists, il­lus­tra­tors, car­toon­ists, film-makers. Nor do they have to be con­tem­po­rary… pick one of the greats from the past and delve into ev­ery as­pect of their life and work. There are, of course, nu­mer­ous on­line sources of im­agery, but this too is a bit like still be­ing ‘at the of­fice’ – well, your com­puter prob­a­bly is in the of­fice any­way – so I’m sug­gest­ing go­ing old-school and vis­it­ing a gallery or buy­ing a book, new or sec­ond-hand. I’m a great fan of vis­it­ing the ma­jor metropoli­tan art gal­leries be­cause it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence, and the sur­round­ings – whether clas­sic or con­tem­po­rary – are con­ducive to con­tem­pla­tion. Don’t rush it, spend a whole day there (most have ex­cel­lent cafes where you can ‘do lunch’) – which isn’t hard to do in Syd­ney, Mel­bourne, Bris­bane or Can­berra. And art gallery book­shops can eas­ily chew up an ab­sorb­ing hour or two (not to men­tion tak­ing a se­ri­ous bite out of your credit card). Many smaller towns around Aus­tralia have ex­cel­lent re­gional gal­leries as well as a di­ver­sity of pri­vately-run venues so, if you’re on hol­i­day, set time aside to visit them all, be­cause it’s of­ten here that ‘un­knowns’ can stun you with their abil­i­ties. It’s very tempt­ing to dis­miss lo­cal art as some­how be­ing in­fe­rior, but how many pho­tog­ra­phers’ first ex­hi­bi­tions – per­haps even your’s – were in a small gallery space or pos­si­bly even in a cof­fee shop, restau­rant or vil­lage hall? Look and learn.

Just re­turn­ing to pho­tog­ra­phy books for a minute, there can be few more en­joy­able hol­i­day pas­times than set­tling down with a cof­fee (AM) or a glass of wine (PM) and spend­ing qual­ity time leaf­ing through pages of beau­ti­fully re­pro­duced images. A quick visit to the ‘Art & Pho­tog­ra­phy’ sec­tion of your lo­cal book­shop may just sur­prise you with the sheer choice of new vol­umes cel­e­brat­ing pho­tog­ra­phers both past and present… who said ink-on-pa­per is dead?

So what about some more ac­tive…er, ac­tiv­i­ties? It’s not dif­fi­cult to be in­spired by some­where new, but what about your lo­cal sur­round­ings? It’s easy to over­look the com­mon­place and ev­ery­day, but with a bit of spare time on your hands, what about tak­ing a closer look? Chances are you’ll start see­ing things that you’ve never no­ticed be­fore… and what about try­ing shoot­ing at night, or at dawn when a place is wak­ing up? Even quite small towns can be a hive of ac­tiv­ity first thing in the morn­ing. And – although I would say this, wouldn’t I – don’t use your work cam­eras, buy some­thing new and very dif­fer­ent to shoot with. I know cam­eras ul­ti­mately don’t make images, but chang­ing gear is ben­e­fi­cial on many lev­els… for starters, it’s fun be­cause you can buy some­thing you like, rather than need, and it also of­ten com­pels you to re­think things, change old habits or learn new ways of work­ing. I’m not sug­gest­ing go­ing feral here and re­turn­ing to film (too much like hard work), but there’s now so much va­ri­ety in the dig­i­tal cam­era world that, if you’re still welded (or, in­deed, wed­ded) to the D-SLR, it’s prob­a­bly time for a change. Try some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent, like an ac­tion­cam, for ex­am­ple. Al­ter­na­tively, the one-cam­era-and-one-lens ex­er­cise is al­ways an in­for­ma­tive one, es­pe­cially if you take on the chal­lenge of us­ing only a prime. Guar­an­teed you’ll start see­ing in new ways.

Notice that I haven’t men­tioned smart­phones or com­put­ers? It’s de­lib­er­ate. They’re too tied up with work. This re­fresh is all about dis­till­ing ev­ery­thing down to just you, a cam­era and plenty of time… in other words pure pho­tog­ra­phy. For­get fad di­ets, med­i­ta­tion, yoga or howl­ing at the full Moon… this ac­tu­ally works, and comes with the po­ten­tial for long-term ben­e­fits both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally. Take a break, take stock, take some great pho­to­graphs – and then be ready to take 2018 head-on.

Paul Bur­rows, Edi­tor

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