three hours with ben lowy

I was lucky enough to join a small group to spend 3 hours with professional photo-journalist Ben Lowy from New York in Sydney yesterday learning about mobile photography as part of the Head On Photo Festival. I made the most of the time to not only take some photos of Bondi Beach but also quiz Ben about his technique and some general information about photography.

Here’s my photos:

And here’s my notes:

  • First find your perfect shot, then take three more steps forward
  • The picture that is far away that’s the easy one – the picture that’s right close – they’re the picture people want
  • Every picture you take captures your soul: make it yours
  • We’re in a golden age of information with more available than ever before – not so golden for people who make a living off making images
  • Wait out for the shot – until it happens, it comes alive – wait for something to come into the frame
  • Don’t create an fake shot – but if you must – make it outrageous so you can’t possibly believe it’s real
  • Pay attention to everything – practise doing over and over – layering
  • Cheerios rule – don’t make people vomit eating their breakfast
  • Photography is very insecure thing – it’s a weird in between art – for example to paint a scene takes few hours but you could photo it as you’re running
  • Taking photo is one part – express yourself afterwards
  • Your phone is a darkroom in your pants
  • Images don’t need to live in proverbial shoebox – share them
  • Total strangers giving you a pat on the back – Instagram or tumblr – doesn’t cost anything
  • Find your little voice – so many good options
  • Explore weird hashtags on Instagram – horribly disturbing or amazing
  • Watch out for banned hashtags eg.  #photography  negates all others you have on a photo
  • Cliche photos of NYC:

iPhone Tooling Suggestions

  • Freedom film on hipstamatic
  • ProCamera 7

Main Editing

  • Snap seed first – selective adjust tool (not in photoshop), vignette, Colour space ring
  • Then photoshop express clarity adjust and reduce noise


  • Alt photo: b&w – triex – tungsten film
  • Photogene
  • Anticrop app – extends original image – only do blue sky etc – not ethical photojournalism
  • Retouch app – samples an area and can get of it
  • Big photo app – resize up an app –
  • Actual pixels app – view the actual image
  • Rays app – rays of light
  • Polomatic – Fake poloroid
  • Oogle app – allows you to change lens and apply hipstamatic lens after
  • Beemer – virtual magazine

put down your camera

I was recently looking at some of the amazing images of the Endeavour’s 19km road tip though Los Angeles, and like when anything amazing like this happens, it seems that people are often too busy taking photos of it to actually enjoy it.

I think that last picture is a perfect reflection of the life many of us lead. Always behind cameras/iPhones/iPads, giving up a current experience for a future reminiscence, not realizing how many professional photographers will take much better photos than you can and they will be freely available on the web for anyone to see at any time.

It isn’t an isolated occurrence, take the Queen’s visit to the races in England last year.

Seriously? Stop living behind a 3 inch screen. As a Jason Mraz concert goer recently wrote:

The Mrs. is a HUGE Jason Mraz fan (I’m like “meh”, but whatever). We got 3rd row center seats to his show last night. Throughout the whole show just about EVERYONE around us was holding up their cameras, ipads, whatever for the ENTIRE FUCKING show.


The funny thing is, he has a very large band spread out all over the stage (bass, drums, horn section, violinist, bongos), so all these idiots missed everything that was going on around the stage just to hold their stuff up in the air so they could show their friends how cool they were, not to mention potentially blocking the view of the people behind them. I wouldn’t have believed this if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes…I wanted to yell, “PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE, YOU’RE MISSING A GREAT SHOW, DUMBASS!”


mt coot-tha botanical gardens: flowering succulents

I rode my bike last weekend to Mount Coot-tha to visit the Botanical Gardens. The great thing about this time of year, in addition to the clear skies, is that a lot of succulents flower in winter. I really like the aloes in flower at the moment, and the garden was full of wildlife feasting on the aloe flowers, including some rainbow lorikeets I managed to get fairly close to.


world aridland gardens at roma street parklands

I went for a crazy 17 kilometer walk around Brisbane on Saturday. My favourite part was getting to explore the Roma Street Parklands. I had never really spent much time there, and I was delighted to discover the World Aridland Gardens: a collection of succulents from around the world! I couldn’t believe that they had flowering crassula gollum/hobbit (coral shaped jade plants). Wow. I have never seen one flower before. Amazing.

morning fog

There was an amazing fog in Brisbane this morning. It was really spectacular crossing the bridge as I walked to work: enough to warrant a temporary stop to take a quick snap with my phone. I think the photo came out well.


the world according to otis

As a child I had a pure white cat called Otis. He was named after the movie The Adventures of Milo and Otis, but quite oddly I choose the name of the dog from the movie instead of the cat. For the first few months we didn’t know Otis’s gender, so his name switched between “Mrs Otis” and “Mr Otis” until we finally realized he was a boy and just called him plain “Otis”.

I once bought a disposable camera and took some photos of Otis in trees; boy how he loved to climb. I recently found some of these photos cleaning up, and scanned them digital for keepsakes. Kitty loves the style of photography, I personally don’t really know what I was thinking.

Sadly, one morning Otis was asleep on the back tire of my Mum’s Honda Civic, and when she reversed out of the garage on her way to work, Otis was fatally injured. My brothers dug a hole in the backyard and buried Otis; I was too upset to see.

st patrick’s day rainbow

Last week, on the morning of St Patrick’s Day, I woke to find a beautiful rainbow outside. Since I can’t remember the last time I saw a rainbow, I am led to believe it was created by a leprechaun to show where he had hidden his pot of gold on the yearly Irish holiday. The rainbow was the best thing that happened to me on St Patrick’s Day, which is normally a day I despise due to its associated public drunkenness.


beautiful succulent in a swan

When we were in the USA last month we purchased an awesome white swan planter from Anthropology and, thanks to Kitty’s advanced packing skills, we managed to get it home in one piece.

A couple of months back my very thoughtful sister-in-law gave us a succulent similar to one I commented on at their place. I decided to plant the succulent in the swam two weeks ago and since it has begun flowering. It’s a visual delight.

Swan with succulent

Bonus points if you can name the type of succulent.

home sweet home

I am glad to be home in Brisbane today after a long flight from Los Angeles last night.


I was very relieved to find our plants looking very healthy after much rain over the last week or so.


It is always a great feeling coming home to Australia after being overseas. Not that overseas isn’t awesome, but we are truly lucky to live here. This afternoon in Brisbane was no exception, the sun came through the clouds over Mount Coot-tha and put on a spectacular show.


juiced nyc

We’re currently flying from New York City (JFK) to Los Angeles (LAX). Yes, that’s right, I am writing this at 35,000 feet in the sky, thanks to Virgin America’s inflight wifi internet which is unreal.

I thought I would take this opportunity to post photos of some of my favourite parts of NYC. After a week there NYC is immediately is in my all time favourite cities list, it’s just such an amazing place: architecture, food, art, culture, style… everything. We felt very safe the whole time we were there, didn’t feel threatened once, unlike San Francisco.

Not sure if we can visit NYC again in the near future (it’s a loooong way from Australia) but the memories should last a lifetime (oh, that sounds so cheesy).