Back in Sydney after almost a week in Tasmania, which is as wonderfully out of the way relative to everyplace else as its name might suggest. Lovely land, wonderful people. I was assigned by Tourism Australia to do a somewhat open ended assignment described as the Faces of Tasmania. I fully disclosed to them beforehand that I was a relatively awful rock and tree shooter, and preferred to stick with subject matter that talks back. (There have been location days of course, and people subjects, that have made me dearly wish I was better at the rocks and trees.)
But, I am, resolutely, a people photog, despite (or because of) its unrelenting unpredictability.
By pure chance, and by asking some questions of Sam, our intrepid ATV guide and mentor, we ended up photographing a terrific Tasmanian character nicknamed Muddy. He’s worked the water his whole life, and we asked him to come down to the dock for sunrise, which was a tad earlier than generally required of him. His fee for this was a case of VB beer. Done.
He’s got a wonderful, knowing gaze, the kind that says, in unspoken fashion, something along the lines of, “Get this over with, silly ass photographer and let me get to my work, and my beer.” Which is okay. I’ll gladly ride through any sort of ridicule to photograph a face like Muddy’s. Very brief, but fun, shoot.
Out there on the dock with the Numnuts Ezy box. Really fond of it as a character driven light. The white interior is pretty rich and forgiving, unlike its cousin with the silver interior, which is naturally a touch harder and more splashy. And, even though I only met him for a few minutes, I’ll venture to say that Muddy doesn’t do splashy. Also, for reasons of air travel and price per kilo of baggage, we left behind the c-stands, and used a Manfrotto stacker stand fitted with a extension arm.
Also, it being a portrait, I was able to orchestrate wardrobe, believe it or not. I saw an old pair of yellow slicker pants in the wheelhouse of the boat Muddy was working, and asked him to wear them. The touch of yellow up front resonated well with the blue of the background sky. I didn’t go into color wheel theory with Muddy. I was just happy he was easygoing about putting them on.
We had a another early morning photo session with Rob Pennicott, the Tasmanian of the Year in 2012. An entrepreneur, environmentalist, and sailor extraordinaire, he recently completed the first circumnavigation of Australia in an outboard powered vessel. The feat was accomplished in conjunction with the Bill Gates Foundation in an effort to raise money to eradicate polio.
We got a good portrait here mostly due to Rob’s good graces, and the fact that, pesky photog that I am, I asked him to come down to the dock at 7am, instead of the 2pm slot that the tourist board had originally arranged. Two pm light from a cloudless southern sky is the rock and the hard place, simultaneously, and a portrait shot then could have easily been DOE (dead on exposure). Turned out that Di, our irrepressible guide, knew Rob and made the call. He joked on the phone about whether there would be nudity involved. I answered that, if we headed that direction, it would only be partial nudity, which he was comfortable with. He is, as they say down under, a good bloke.
And, it being a tourism type shoot, I couldn’t leave Tasmania without a portrait session with one of its most amiable and recognizable faces.
Greg Irons and Petra Harris run an animal sanctuary called Bonorong Park, where they take in orphaned or injured animal infants, nurse them back to health and then release them into the wild. With the wombat, such as Petra is holding below, this can be a two or three year process, waiting for the dawn of wombat adolescence, and its naturally rambunctious push for independence.
They are also participating in efforts to discover the cause and cure for a cancer of the mouth that has decimated the Tasmanian Devil population. Called devil facial tumor disease, it can be transmitted from critter to critter, unlike most cancers. The Tasmanian wildlife community is rallying around the devil, trying desperately to contain and eradicate the disease.
Back in Sydney now, preparing for our last Sydney workshop, to be held this Monday. After that, off to Melbourne, where we’ll be for Aussie PMA, and doing another workshop, keynote and seminar. It’ll be a super busy week, and then, home and Annie…..more tk…