Photography by Sandra Macheroux: Blog http://www.macheroux.photography/blog en-us (C) Photography by Sandra Macheroux info@macheroux.photography (Photography by Sandra Macheroux) Wed, 06 Sep 2017 04:34:00 GMT Wed, 06 Sep 2017 04:34:00 GMT http://www.macheroux.photography/img/s/v-5/u307279155-o857443119-50.jpg Photography by Sandra Macheroux: Blog http://www.macheroux.photography/blog 120 120 Sunset and Blue Hour Photography - Technique and Choosing a Location http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/6/sunset-and-blue-hour-photography---technique-and-choosing-a-location

This is my dilemma with photographing sunsets and blue hour. I am completely addicted to it! I love watching the sun set, I love it when a beautiful 'after burn' turns clouds into orange/pink/red gorgeousness and I love the stillness that comes over the city as blue hour ( well maybe 'blue 10 minutes' here in SG ) arrives and the city lights are switched on. 

When I am at home and see the beautiful golden light streaming into our lounge room, I feel quite sad and anxious that I am not out there shooting one of nature's most beautiful displays. Told you I was addicted. 

Each one is different and it is difficult to predict which one will be amazing. So I try to head out as often as I can. If I am blessed with a breathtaking sunset while out and about with my camera, I truly feel grateful to be capturing such beauty. I don't think I will ever grow tired of shooting at this time of the day. 

Luckily  we are moving to a different house soon and  the lounge room view will no longer feature an uninterrupted view of the setting sun. Even my boys have started saying - " Don't look Mama" and " Shall we close the curtains".  Rest assured we are not moving for this reason, but I think the family will feel a sense of relief too :) 

Here is one of those sunsets I watched from our lounge room window.......

 

 

This kind of photography is actually quite simple as long as you follow a few steps and turn you camera to M shooting mode.

Here is my 'recipe':

  • Go early. Choose one location and really focus on optimising all of the below points
  • Start setting up ( of course you need a tripod- buy a good one!)  and playing  with composition about 15- 30 minutes before sunset. 
  • Turn off your VR ( Nikon) /Stabilizer ( Canon) on your lens or in camera. 
  • Set your camera to M mode and adjust your Aperture, Shutterspeed  and ISO similar to this ( if you want to learn how to shoot properly in M then you can attend one of my classes. They are advertised here and will recommence in August when my boys are back at school ) 
  1. ISO - Maximise the image quality by keeping ISO it's lowest ( 100 usually)  at all times 
  2. Aperture - For most cityscapes an aperture somewhere between F8-16 is fine. This will offer a good depth of field, minimal diffraction and when the city lights come on, you get beautiful starbursts at the smaller aperture settings. I don't tend to adjust my aperture much for night shots.
  3. Shutterspeed - this is our main tool to ensure correct exposure. Shutterspeeds just gradually become longer, as the sun sets and ambient light fades. The nice side effects of long exposure photography are quite creative - like smooth reflective water and trail lights of moving objects ( cars, motorbikes, boats, trains etc) which have lights on them. If you want very long exposures and hence very long trail lights you can use ND filters on your lens to allow for even longer shutter speeds.  

 

  • During long exposures any movement of your camera or tripod will create a blurry shaky shot.  Here are a few things you can do to avoid this 
  1.  don't touch your camera or tripod at all while the shot is being taken
  2.  use a remote shutter release or your built in timer so you don't shake your camera, when you depress the shutter release  button 
  3.  remove or hold up any straps attached to the camera 
  4.  if it is a very windy day or the ground you are placing your tripod on is not solid ( e.g. jetties, rocks ) then you will most likely end up  with unsharp images. Sometimes it is not possible to get a good shot. Find a new location or come back another day. 

 

Here are my favourite locations in Singapore for sunset/blue hour shots 

GARDENS BY THE BAY EAST 

 

 

MARINA BAY - there are so many different perspectives all around the bay. You will need about 10 evenings to cover them all!

 

note the sun as a starburst ;)  Sometimes you get very lucky too!!

 

GARDENS BY THE BAY - especially this spot at the Water Lily pond 

 

 

 

THE BARRAGE 

 

SINGAPORE RIVER - so many locations up and down the river 

Can you see the trail lights in this shot? 

 

ANY ROOF TOP OR AWESOME BALCONY 

 

ANY NEIGHBOURHOOD THAT IS DEAR TO YOU WILL LOOK MAGICAL DURING BLUE HOUR  :) 

AND DON'T FORGET NATURE!  Reservoirs, lakes, fields and forests take on a new life during this wonderful time of the day 

 

So are you feeling the urge to head out tonight?? It's Friday - why not plan an outing this weekend? Let me know how you got on.

Have a great weekend 

Sandra x

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info@macheroux.photography (Photography by Sandra Macheroux) blue exposure hour long night photography sunset http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/6/sunset-and-blue-hour-photography---technique-and-choosing-a-location Fri, 16 Jun 2017 04:37:24 GMT
How to become a professional photographer http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/6/when/how/what-of-turning-into-a-pro-photographer This blog post is inspired by a You Tube video I watched recently. I had stumbled upon Steven Pressfield's  work on "Turning Pro" while listening to a podcast. I learned that he wrote a book about it and I was intrigued by this, so Google came to the rescue and led me to the video. 

I haven't read his book. Simply because for the last few years, actually since becoming a mum, I keep falling asleep as soon as I start reading a book. No kidding, it has nothing to do with the content, I just find it so relaxing, that I nod off every time. It's quite annoying actually, yet luckily I have discovered the joy of listening to Ted talks, audiobooks etc while driving or doing chores. This does not seem to make me fall asleep - thankfully! 

Ok back to the blog...

Steven Pressfield is a writer, not a photographer, yet his ideas are applicable to all creatives. Oh yes, I think all photographers  are "Creatives". 

There continues to be an argument about whether or not photography is art. Nowadays I think it certainly is art. At first I didn't quite believe that it is worthy of as much respect and admiration, as an oil painting or a beautiful sculpture. I thought, that spending a long time on creating a piece of art, would give it greater worth. When I created a shot at a shutter speed of 1/500 second and spent 20 minutes on post production editing, it seemed a little inferior to someone spending weeks on a painting.

 

 

Haji Lane in the RainHaji Lane in the RainPrinted on 100 x 50 stretched canvas
A bright and bold limited edition print which is truly Singapore especially during monsoon season

I have changed my opinion on this. I now know, that a well executed shot can captivate people, make them feel a whole array of emotions and even inspire them. I now believe, that it is the onlooker's engagement in combination with the artist's passion, which gives the creation meaning and value, not the time spent to create it. 

 

 

This leads me back to subject of this blog - what makes someone a professional photographer? 

While studying my "Diploma in Professional Photography", I did not think I had it in me to ever be a "Pro". The title of the course actually put me off at first. Even when I wrote my last assignment - which is all about creating a business plan - I told my tutor, that this really was just a hypothetical piece as I had no intention of going "pro".  

The business plan I wrote back then definitely did not come true, but I was led down another path and I now proudly call myself a 'photographer' when people ask me what I do.  Ok, I have to admit, I do still tell people that I used to be a vet, if the conversation goes on for a while. Yet I have noticed that I do this less frequently now and my need to cling on to my previous profession is less pronounced. My self-respect seems well catered for by my new profession now . :) 

So what happened?

My first 'issue' with the term 'pro photographer' was, that I interpreted it to mean, that a pro's income is solely generated by photography. When I first started out, I was still working as a part time vet and I never thought I could make as much money as a photographer, as I was making as a vet. Hence I could never be a 'pro'. I was stuck in the belief that  work = money. 

Photography had something else in mind for me though and it kept on working on me. I fell in love with it. I spent more and more time going out to take photos, scheduling shoots, spending hours teaching myself how to edit in Lightroom and playing  with my images. A lot of the self directed studying took place while commuting to my real job and my nights were spent in front of the computer rather than the TV. 

Little did I know, that I was actually in the process of changing vocation. See, what was happening was, that while I thought I was enjoying and fine tuning a lovely hobby, photography was gently turning me into a "pro". Back then, my opinion of what it meant to be a professional, was based on many years in academia and having a very well defined career. Being a "creative" was just not a real 'job' to me. I was blocked by pre-conceptions.

Luckily Photography awakened my creative side and it wanted to be noticed! It had to fight hard to make me realise, that it is okay to change, to let go of a job that defined me for so many years and to embrace my new passion. Photography is powerful on many levels!

I learned that going 'pro' actually had nothing to do with money when your 'work' is to create a piece of art ( be it a painting, a book or a photograph).

When a creative goes 'pro' they need to treat their work like a job, even if they don't get paid for it. They need to spend hours and hours on it, schedule their day around it and let it play a major role in their life. It takes commitment and a willingness to fail and start again. It isn't a touchy feely or ill defined profession (which I thought it was). Actually it can be quite brutal, because you are much more vulnerable. You open yourself up to the unknown, when you let others see your art . To me it is much more scary compared to working in a clearly defined and scientific job for example. Hence I continued to hide behind the 'just a hobby' shield for quite some time. 

I guess the day when hubby said to me : "You are getting a bit obsessed with your photography", was the day when I turned 'pro' .....I just didn't know it yet. The realisation came a little later  when people were happy to pay me for it and I decided to stop working as a vet and to focus on building a photography business. It seems to be true, that if you are passionate about something and become devoted to it, the traditional reward i.e. money, seems to follow as well. A consequence rather than a priority. I like that. 

 

Steve Pressfield expresses the transformation from amateur to pro much more eloquently and hence I will leave you with a quote from his website STEVE PRESSFIELD

His words offered much needed clarity to me. I hope they help you too, if you are considering letting your creativity become you 'work'.

 

"TURNING PRO IS FREE, BUT IT’S NOT EASY.

When we turn pro, we give up a life that we may have become extremely comfortable with. We give up a self that we have come to identify with and to call our own.

TURNING PRO IS FREE, BUT IT DEMANDS SACRIFICE.

The passage from amateur to professional is often achieved via an interior odyssey whose trials are survived only at great cost, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. We pass through a membrane when we turn pro. It’s messy and it’s scary. We tread in blood when we turn pro.

WHAT WE GET WHEN WE TURN PRO.

What we get when we turn pro is we find our power. We find our will and our voice and we find our self-respect. We become who we always were but had, until then, been afraid to embrace and live out."

 

 

 

 

 

 

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info@macheroux.photography (Photography by Sandra Macheroux) Career Choices Photographer Pro Sacrifices Success http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/6/when/how/what-of-turning-into-a-pro-photographer Sun, 04 Jun 2017 15:21:30 GMT
How to choose a professional printer and why I love mine! http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/5/how-to-choose-a-professional-printer-and-why-i-love-mine Having your photograph printed, isn't as easy as we expect it to be. 

There are so many professional printing labs out there and hence I will try and give you a few hints, on how to find a printer, that will make your prints look as good as possible. I am sure there are quite a few of you, who have had photos printed and they looked nothing like they did on your screen at home.

 

Hint 1 - Make sure your computer screen is calibrated, so there is a higher chance that your prints match your display. Here is a link to quite a good review on the options you have for calibrating your screen. I won't bore you with the details. Calibrate your monitor

Hint 2 - When you have done your research on the most reputable printers in your area and are ready to first engage a printer, you must put your files on a USB stick and visit them in person. Using a cheap shopping centre printing service, where you just hand over the USB stick or uploading your files to an online service, can give you very disappointing results.

If you want your printer to produce the correct colour, exposure and detail you need to go to the printer. Do have a chat to him/her and look at your shot on their screen. If there are discrepancies, do accept though, that it is quite possible that there is a problem at your end if you are engaging a reputable printer. 

 

Hint 3 - Saving money by trying to source the cheapest possible printing service is also not a wise idea. 

Think of your prints as a Gucci handbag or for the male readers a Porsche! Whether you want your print for your personal use or one you want to sell/gift  to someone else, doesn't really matter. Everyone can recognise a high quality item. It leaves a lasting impression. The first canvas and metal prints I received from a quite well known on line printer in Malaysia, were truly hideous compared to what I received locally.  I have kept that canvas all this time,  just to remind me to never compromise on quality. 

 

Hint 4 - Develop a relationship with your printer

The first time I contacted one of my lovely printers 3 years ago, I was very surprised to hear him request a short consultation with me. It all sounded a bit over the top, but boy am I glad, that I did agree to swing by in person. My images looked quite different on his screen and I would not have been happy with the result, had he just gone ahead with the print, as I had asked him to. He also showed me all sorts of different papers, that could suit my shots and being a very proud printer, he was happy to answer all of my questions in detail. 

It is so important that you are happy with your printer on a professional and also personal level. I now have 4 printers which I use all the time for my different products. I enjoy visiting them regularly. I could just have everything couriered to me, but I really love our chats and the connection we have now.

I have learned so much from them and they have freely given me suggestions and advice, which has helped me grow. Their positive input has also allowed some of my creative ideas to become reality.

Over the years, all of them have given me the occasional faulty prints and sometimes there were delays in getting jobs ready. Yet I always knew that these were genuine mistakes, made by genuine and very caring people, who only want the best for me and my business. Trust is so precious. 

Funnily enough the printer I use for my metal prints, could quite easily also do my canvas and paper prints. I am sure they would match or even give me a lower price, if I asked them too. Yet I feel so loyal and grateful to my original printers of those products, that I couldn't take that (potentially time saving and profitable) step. 

It is all about connection and even if you are just printing 2 or 3 pieces you do need to find a printer that you feel comfortable with. 

 

 

Hint 5 - Edit your images to suit the material you are going to use. You will need to seek advice from your printer for each individual image. I have one image that I print on metal and photographic paper. I have edited it very differently for the different materials. Originally I sent the version I already had for the paper prints to be printed  on metal. I was feeling confident that it would be just fine and would look fab. Well it didn't. Lesson learned - ask for even more advice from your printer, then change things as needed and print again. That's how you learn and improve. 

 

Hint 6 - Please discuss copyright with your chosen printer right from the start. You may be a world famous photographer one day ( hey you never know, so don't just say "yeah right..." ) and you want to make sure, that your printer fully respects and upholds his professional responsibility. Too many people have been burned. Don't be one of them. This is another reason why I like knowing my printers well and feeling connected to them. 

 

So I hope you will go out and find your perfect printer match. Then bring your images to life, free them from the computer screen, print them BIG and let them add happiness to your or someone else's home!  I believe photographs are meant to be printed !!! 

If you liked my hints and /or found them helpful please spare a few seconds of your time and comment below. THANK YOU xx

 

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info@macheroux.photography (Photography by Sandra Macheroux) http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/5/how-to-choose-a-professional-printer-and-why-i-love-mine Wed, 24 May 2017 14:33:12 GMT
The 10 Minute Habit - this trick will make you a better photographer! http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/5/the-10-minute-rule--it-will-make-you-better-at-photography-actually-at-anything

 

Of course I am not a neuroscientist, but it is a fascinating science and very encouraging for all of us who are learning new skills - such as photography!

More later. Let me tell you a little story first. When I started my Bachelor of Veterinary Science at The University of Sydney ( gosh I miss those days!), I had just turned 18 and I had never lived away from my parents. I was accepted into a wonderful on campus residential college just for women.  

I wholeheartedly enjoyed my newfound freedom and living on campus was an exciting new lifestyle! The course was demanding and life was fun. I made new friends. We talked for hours, played tennis, went out for dinner and drinks. I was so busy that I never had the hours of peace and quiet that I was used to, to focus on my studies. Well, I am sure you can guess what my first exam results were like. 

Being young I did not worry too much at first - this was a 5 year course after all. I had plenty of time. 

Yet time continued to be an elusive entity in my busy new life and I started to see that I really needed to change my ways and to study harder.

The residential college where I lived was an exclusive place and they wanted to ensure their residents did very well in their studies. They had a reputation to uphold. So they made us feel guilty but also provided tutors and study groups. One of the tutors was a young woman who was finishing med school. I remember she had very red, curly, long hair. I don't remember her name. She taught me one of those life lessons, which stay with you forever. 

She said:  "Have fun, enjoy uni, but use ALL of your time wisely. Whenever you have 10 minutes in between classes, before dinner, while you wait somewhere use that time effectively and study something! Make this a habit. It will serve you well." 

It took a while as these short and sharp study moments were not something I had ever done before. I had also never been this busy before. Still I started doing as she recommended. I wasn't a star student but my marks improved and by the time I was in 5th year I knew how to party and get good marks ;) 

The '10 minute habit' is still part of my life now and it is how I studied photography as well. 

Of course being a working mum with young children redefined the meaning of 'time poor' and 10 min of 'me time' can seem like an eternity now. All of you, who are parents, are probably nodding right now. I feel your pain! 

So, what does neuroscience have to do with all of this?

It seems that the "10 min Habit"  fits in perfectly with recent findings, that our brains are continuously reshaping themselves, according to how we live and what we do. It is called neuroplasticity and it defines how quickly we can learn a new skill ( and also loose old bad habits).

Here are some fancy graphics which explain this.

This shows,that if we are in the habit of thinking about or doing anything related to photography repeatedly and regularly, we will get better at it much more quickly. We are never too old to learn a new skill, as long as we PRACTICE, PRACTICE,PRACTICE!!

Isn't that great news? Nature rocks! 

The above infographics are from this article Rewiring your brain for optimal learning. I loved reading it, maybe you do too. 

If not, then you can still make the '10 Minute Habit" your own tool to become a better photographer ( or anything else you want to be!) without understanding 'why?'. That is what I did back in those fabulous uni days and I can promise you it works! 

Of course actually taking photos and reviewing them on the computer is the best way to learn. You do need to make time for that, but why don't you give these 'camera free' ideas a shot ( no pun intended ;) every day from now on and start strengthening those photography pathways in your brain!

 

I am sure you can come up with many more ideas! Why don't you share some in the comments below so we can all expand our repertoire. 

 By the way the clever scientists also say that when you learn from failure the lesson learned has an even more profound effect on becoming better at something. Take lots of pics, get a 'happy hormone release' from the ones that worked out and learn big lessons from the ones that turned out awful.

It's all good stuff that will restructure  your brain to allow you to become a more skilled photographer.

Hope this inspired you and let me know if you will also start your very own "10 min Habit". 

Oh and I hope reading this post didn't take you more than 10 minutes! 

Sandra xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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info@macheroux.photography (Photography by Sandra Macheroux) Good habits Learning Photography Neuroplasticity The 10 min Habit http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/5/the-10-minute-rule--it-will-make-you-better-at-photography-actually-at-anything Fri, 05 May 2017 15:06:14 GMT
My top 5, easy peasy spots for great Singapore street photography - a fun way to start the day. http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/4/my-top-5-destinations-in-singapore-for-photos-of-awesome-backstreets-doors-shophouses I am writing this with a heavy heart as I heard from a distant friend, that for the last year she has been battling with breast cancer I am sure all of you have been touched by cancer in one way or another.

Every time it happens to me I say to myself "This is a reminder Sandra. Life is precious. Live it well. Do what you love and avoid regrets." Every time I am even more grateful for how photography has taught me to take time to really look and to see....

I need my photography time to centre myself and to feel fulfilled. Some use exercise, meditation or chats with friends ....I use photography.  

I hope that intro did not get you down because it is meant to encourage you to get out there and explore the world around you.

As many of you know I love capturing Singapore's historic neighbourhoods. I love their backstreet treasures, the glorious shophouses, groovy shops and fabulous coffee!! 

I have my favourite 'hangouts' and I visit them regularly with camera in hand. These are fab even if you are not keen on photography ..... although I think that even those people would not be able to help themselves and they would reach for their phone ( Aiyah!)  to snap a few shots ;) 

Yet Singapore is HOT and HUMID!! I don't like being in the heat for too long ( my camera is heavy!!)  and I am not a great fan of public transport ( getting better with this one) or taxis( will never like them). I get motion sick very easily and I am a control freak. Hence I like driving myself! 

In order to maximise my chances of getting great shots and to sweat as little as possible, I have developed a little routine that usually feeds both of my addictions - street photography and coffee. 

I take myself on small but productive outings whenever I have a spare hour or so. I no longer go on very long walks and I don't aim to cover one area in one visit. I go back many times and explore different parts. I will research the area on Google the night before and I look at images online. I will have some shots in mind but usually some even better ones pop up.

 

I also ensure I do these 6 things 

  • I go on my own ( no time to chat! )
  • I do it straight after the boys have gone to school ( coolest time of the day and morning light is best) 
  • I plan where to park, which streets to visit and I get my gear ready on the day before. 
  • I set myself a time at which  I will be finishing. Usually 10 am as the light gets too harsh after that  and SG temperatures rise quickly.
  • If possible I will park near a nice coffee shop as well so I can feed my other addiction ;) 
  • I then go home and put all of my images onto the computer straight away. I will catalogue them in Lightroom ( amazing Adobe software) and then edit only the best ones. I delete anything that is not good enough. You have to cull straight away or you will never get to it again! 

This little routine works well and doesn't take up too much time. 

These are my favourite destinations which always cheer me up! 

 

1. Tiong Bahru

It has it all - A gorgeous temple, a relaxed atmosphere, low rise original art deco house, great backstreets, quirky shops, great coffee and easy parking! Even a book vending machine! 

 

2.Joo Chiat

It is such a treasure box over on the east side.

Obviously I love the shophouses in Koon Seng Road. They are still my best selling prints on canvas, on paper, big or small. They have enchanted many of my clients and the prints have truly gone all over the world. Sometimes I wish I could visit all the places where they have gone to!

Yet there is so much more to Joo Chiat. One hour of walking around the areas adjacent to these rows of shophouses will yield so many shots that will make a fabulous collage depicting many quirky aspects of Singapore. Head for the back alleys and along the main road. Lots of fab photos opportunities await you! 

That's why this is still one of my most popular locations for photography outings with students.

BTW you can find all of my photography courses and photowalks here Photography Classes and Outings

 

 

3. Kampong Glam 

My kind of neighbourhood! 6 months ago I opened my gallery at 16 A Haji Lane. Yet I have loved this area for quiet some time before that rather serious business decision.

This would have to be one of the most colourful, grungy, arty and also culturally rich areas of Singapore. Stress levels always drop for people who walk around the area. They can enjoy  quirky " totally not Orchard" kind of shops, street art, a fantastic meal or an excellent coffee. It has an amazing energy every day of the week. Photography in this area is equally delightful. From the stunning Sultan mosque to the hip Haji Lane. There is so much to shoot. The street art attracts many tourists and locals alike. If you do come and explore this area pls drop in and say Hi! 

 

4. Everton /Blair Road 

The first time I visited this area I went to the ANZA office on Kampong Bahru Road. To be honest I was not impressed by the many Karaoke bars and never ventured further. Yet people kept on mentioning this area to me as my street photography developed. So I explored the wonderful residential areas located behind the main street. I was so pleasantly surprised. Everton Road and Blair Road  are simply gorgeous. If you like shophouses, cute doors and beautiful house entrances then you have to visit this area. You will love it! Plus you get to see Yip Yew Chong 's first mural "Amah" in Everton Road. This mural led me to get in touch with YC and we have met and chatted on line a few times. We are both a bit nostalgic :) He is an amazing man and you should all look him up and visit his murals! 

 

 

 

5. Emerald Hill 

Last but certainly not least is this Peranakan gem of a neighbourhood just off Orchard Road.

There is a nice write up for this neighbourhood and conservation area on Wikipedia. Here is the link Emerald Hill.

It is hard to believe that this area was once a nutmeg plantation! This neighbourhood is quite small so it can easily be explored on foot before an exciting day of shopping on Orchard Road. I mention this area to so many of the tourists who come to my gallery as it is conveniently located and a great way for anyone to see some Peranakan heritage buildings. If you head up to level 11 of Orchard Gateway you can get a bird's eye view of it as well. In the evening the restaurants and pub near Orchard Road are very popular with locals and visitors alike. A fun and relaxed area at all times of the day. 

 

 

Well there you are. A quick spin around the historical and gorgeous parts of Singapore that make this city so special  and will give you great photos.

I hope you will also explore them. Let me know if you do! 

 

 

 

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info@macheroux.photography (Photography by Sandra Macheroux) http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/4/my-top-5-destinations-in-singapore-for-photos-of-awesome-backstreets-doors-shophouses Sun, 23 Apr 2017 14:03:32 GMT
Yeah! I bought that fancy camera! Now what?? http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/4/yeah-i-bought-that-fancy-camera-now-what

 

So in my virtual blog world I am presuming that after my last post you have now all gone out and bought yourself a nice new camera. What did you get?? 

Or maybe you have owned a DSLR/mirrorless camera for some time already but it has been spending more time in the bag or cupboard than out and about with you, as you explore the world. 

I am also presuming that you have not found it to be 'CHILD'S PLAY ' when you take photos with your proper camera. Most of you would have taken some really fabulous shots and a lot of very ordinary ones. You don't know how you got that awesome shot, so you can't repeat it. You don't know why so many shots are dark, not sharp or just plain boring. You have played with the dials and maybe even read a few pages of the menu, but found it to be a powerful tranquilliser, rather than an enlightening read. 

 

 

You may have 'seen' this when you carefully composed your shot 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUT got this instead 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OR you wanted this kind of shot 

 

But got this instead 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You have tried to photograph a moving subject and maybe even still life photography and the subject is often blurry or not in focus.

 

Those stunning shots you had hoped for when you paid a small fortune for you gear, seem completely out of reach!  

 

 

Does all of this sound familiar ?

A few of my upcoming blogs will be about how to increase your chances of getting THAT shot which you had pre visualised.

Let me talk about pre visualisation for a while. Our camera is our tool. It is a workhorse, which is meant to allow us to create an image which looks exactly like the one we have 'in mind' i.e. we have seen it already in our minds. We have pre visualised it  before we even picked up the camera. Being able to do this is a great attribute!! Shooting for quality rather than quantity is the aim of the game. 

A camera is not some magic piece of gear which can churn out wonderful, print worthy images all by itself. No matter how much money you spend on a camera it will never give you anything more than a snap shot if you just point and shoot and click a few hundred shots with it in Auto.

As I mentioned before you may occasionally get a really lovely shot, maybe not what you had pre visualised  but still lovely. Those shots a pure luck and often you would have been in great  light conditions at the time. I am pretty sure that as you take photos indoors in darker light conditions your 'lucky shot rate' will decrease dramatically. 

Light is everything to a photographer. Photography actually means " painting with light". Cute right?

Us Togs ( jargon for photographer and makes us sound cool ;) ) carefully consider how we allow light to enter our camera ( i.e. via the lens)  and how it will be received by the sensor inside our camera.

With the aid of the light meter which is built into our modern little units, we can ensure that images are exposed just the way we want them to be. That may even be under or over exposed.  

We also decide, what will be sharp/in focus and whether moving object are frozen or blurry. We pre visualise all of that.

 

If reading this far has made you feel dizzy and inclined to shove the camera back in the cupboard, please take a deep breath, stay calm and read on. 

I have taught quite a few photography courses now and I hope it makes you feel better, when I tell you " You are not alone!". The vast majority of my students start their beginner classes feeling quite frustrated by their camera and doubtful that they can 'get it'.

EVERYONE CAN 'GET IT'!  

Some struggle with some concepts at first but it is not rocket science. If you spend a bit of time reading up, watching some 'you tube' videos or attending a photography class then you can get really good at making your pre visualised images a reality.

In my classes I make it my priority to give my students the power (knowledge) to master their tools (camera and lenses ). I want to liberate my students to be able take charge of what they already own and to be creative togs asap.

This may all sound a bit artsy!  After all, isn't there a whole heap of technical stuff and physics about light which we need to cram into you when we teach photography? Well there is a little bit, but I believe we need to keep this to a bare minimum at first, so your passion for the end result is not suffocated by too much theory. If you get lost in theory, you may become overwhelmed and  just shoot in AUTO. That would be a real shame because your camera can do so much more 

I have come up with the concept of ' 6+2 ', which I promise you, will make a huge difference in your photography straight away. If you understand these 8 goodies and how to adjust them on YOUR camera, it will give you a firm foundation on which you can build up your photography knowledge as much or as little as you wish. 

6+2 includes :

1. Aperture 2. Shutterspeed  3. ISO 4. White balance 5. Metering 6. Autofocus mode and points  + 2 creative tools - Depth of Field and Motion

 

 

This is where I get on my bandwagon about learning to shoot in M mode and to kiss AUTO goodbye. 

 

 

That green little symbol for 'full auto' is like a PRISON for your creativity.

It takes away all of your control and just guesstimates what kind of shot it is that you are after. 

As far as I am aware it is not a mind reader, can not id your kid on the soccer field and does not care if your shots look very grainy when you shoot indoors. 

Sure you can fine tune your AUTO by choosing Scenes such as a 'portrait' ( lady with a hat) which will give you a blurry background ( btw it is called Bokeh - not to be confused with  'bouquet which is what I called it for quite some time )  or 'sports' (person running)  to freeze  motion.

Yet you are still not really in charge. Although I have to admit I would sleep better at night, if you used 'Scenes" rather than the horrid green 'Auto' setting because at least you would be pre visualising  before you press the shutter release button. 

Anyone who has never learned about 6+2  is just a slave to the camera's AUTO mode. 

Don't let that be you. You have a great camera. It can shoot great photos if you tell it how to! You obviously have a passion for photography or you would not be reading this. So embrace it and empower yourself with some simple knowledge.

In some of my future blogs I will discuss some aspects of my " 6+2" concepts in more detail. Or you can of course  join one of my photography course in which I teach you all of the above and more.  Which ever path you take, just make sure you build on a solid foundation in order to reduce the frustration.

11.45 pm yeah I am finished before midnight 

High five to you again if you have read to the end. 

Let me know what you think please. Was it helpful? Do you have any questions??

 

 

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info@macheroux.photography (Photography by Sandra Macheroux) camera course learn lenses photography understanding http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/4/yeah-i-bought-that-fancy-camera-now-what Sun, 09 Apr 2017 16:17:50 GMT
I am a newbie - which camera should I buy?? http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/4/a-sensible-camera-for-a-beginner  

Where is the pot of gold?? I need it to buy more gear!

 

Yeah Blog post No 2!

Now that I have told you my 'from clinic to camera' story I hope that many of you feel inspired to give your own photography a big boost. 

If you missed my first blog post you can read it here My first ever blog post :)

I recently asked for blog topic suggestions on my Facebook page. One topic that popped up several times was along the lines of:

"What is a good (and not too expensive) starter camera that a newbie can consider?"

This is great subject to start off the 'educational' subjects I intend to blog about, as all the tips and tricks I want to share with you are really of no use if you don't have a camera, right?

BTW - a phone is not a camera it is a phone. A camera doesn't ring, vibrate or give you the option to whatsapp. 

It is worthwhile keeping this in mind though right from the start. That way you can't say I never warned you :) 

It's true!

 

 

Photography is a journey - make sure you are off to a good start. 

I like to keep things simple and I promised these blogs won't be too long. Hence I will only suggest two cameras. A Nikon and a Sony.

That's because I shoot with a Nikon and know my Nikon models and because I think the Sony mirrorless cameras really needs to be considered by you as well. 

Of course Canon and other brands make cameras with similar attributes and of the same quality. I don't know enough about the different models to advise you on them. The Nikon vs Canon debate is really not worth having.....unless you are in the mood for an endless argument or you want to tease someone. 

Please also note that the 'not too expensive'  part is very tricky for me to judge. Your budgets will vary widely. I have had complete beginner come to my classes with pro level cameras!  Plus I am going to assume that you want to kiss auto goodbye asap and to learn to shoot in more advanced modes. I also will presume that you want to design and create your shots rather than just point and shoot. You need a camera which you won't outgrow too quickly. 

The two cameras (with a standard entry level lens) which I am happy to recommend, retail at around S$1000 - $1500. If this is out of your budget, then I would suggest you wait a while and save up. I would not want you to spend $600 - $700 on a camera that is soon going to frustrate you as your skill level increases. 

 

Some important general points first :

  • your camera is not a long term investment. If you start to really enjoy photography, want the highest quality pics and the latest features, then you will want to upgrade your camera sooner or later. Your first camera should be one that you use to the max to fine tune your skills. Then when you are a skilled photographer you will want a better camera body ( larger sensor, better functions such as autofocus, faster shutter speeds etc ) to maximise the quality of your shots not to make you a better photographer. Better gear does not make you a better photographer, but it will create higher quality images. Quality being higher resolution, ability to print them larger, possibly better colour rendition and so on. 
  • don't just think about the camera body. Your lenses will be the deciding factor in what style of photography you can do. Buying a camera that allows you to exchange lenses is paramount in my humble opinion. It allows you to buy the lenses which best suit your favourite type of photography. There is no point getting a wide angle lens if you enjoy bird photography. Also lenses are your long term investment. If you look after them properly they can last for many years. Some lenses even increase in value as they age.
  • Kit lenses ( the lenses that are usually sold as a set with your camera)  are cheap and mass produced. They have no value on the second hand market and they produce less sharp images. They will do just fine in the beginning though and they will teach you to maximise your skill level to compensate for some of their downfalls. Plus you can treat them poorly, take them anywhere and hence really practice a lot without worrying about damaging very expensive gear. 
  • You will outgrow your kit lenses quicker than the cameras which I will mention below and you will become obsessed with purchasing better glass. This may be a good time to warn you- photography is highly addictive! Unfortunately the price of a good lens will go up tenfold. Photography is an expensive hobby! Quality over quantity is a good mantra to follow if you want to stay happily married. 

 

 

And another quote. I hope you like quotes because I love them! 

YES!!!

 

But you have got to start somewhere so it's time to shop! 

If you want a great start to a beautiful journey then I would recommend these two cameras: 

                                                                                         NIKON D5600 - a DSLR - not too heavy not too light

 

                                                             SONY a 6000 a mirrorless camera - main advantage is it's smaller size if that is what you fancy

 

They both have lots of awesome features and allow you to take fantastic photos. I won't bother you with technical details, because if you are a beginner you are not expected/going to understand them. If you are not a beginner then you can easily google all the specs and reviews.  All I want to do is to reassure you that either one of these two cuties will serve you very well from a Beginner - Intermediate skill level. In the realm of photography these two are reasonably priced as well. 

 Join one of my classes once you own your new baby and I will show you how to get the most out of them. When I have classes available I will post them here Photography courses. You can choose to follow me there and then you will receive an email when I post new classes. 

Now I am a newbie in the blog world. So I need your help too. Let me know if this was a helpful post for you, what can I improve on and so on. Eduction is the key to success. I look forward to learning from you as well. 

12.15 am again! Good night. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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info@macheroux.photography (Photography by Sandra Macheroux) http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/4/a-sensible-camera-for-a-beginner Sun, 02 Apr 2017 16:16:25 GMT
From Curious to Pro - How photography took over my life http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/3/from-curious-to-pro---how-photography-took-over-my-life Well here we go. My very first BLOG post!!

It's 9 pm. Kids are in bed, animals have been fed, I have turned off Facebook, I am munching on Jalepeno chips and hubby is cooking his own dinner.

I can smell burned meat but now it is MY time and after all I am a vegetarian so it is only fair that he cooks his ribs himself. :) 

So here we are -Mama, wife and photographer turns into blogger!

I am laughing out loud as I type this because I have avoided writing blogs for so long. Life is busy and it seemed unnecessary, yet I am now in a growth phase as a business woman and I am learning more about how to positively drive my business growth. Plus I like to tell a story. 

For the last 4.5 years, since I started photography, it has been a constant juggling act as I 'switch hats' throughout the day. Evenings are my most productive time and I work until midnight most evenings. I occasionally watch a movie or have a special night out, but generally I work most evenings.

My life may seem boring to some, but I don't mind it because I truly love my work. Without that passion I would not be where I am now. Writing a blog is the next step on my winding path of reinvention. I hope you will enjoy them. Please let me know what you think. 

Here is a pic of my family and I. Taken by my friend the highly talented  Julia Whale when we thought our dog had days to live ...that was over 9 months ago, Kari is a tough old chook and it helps when Mama is a veterinarian. :)

 

My greatest treasures in life

Yes I am also a vet. I often get asked about how I became who I am now. How I turned a hobby into a profession and why I gave up being a vet.

Well it seems only fitting, that my first blog will attempt to answer these questions. You might as well get to know me first. It is a bit of a long story.

Please bear with me. I promise to be more concise and focused on being of value to you in my future posts. 

My love affair with photography started 4.5 years ago. Sometimes I still can't believe my own journey and to be honest I don't think I always had full control over it. It seemed to have a life of it's own and I was happy to go along with it, as it was (still is) a pretty enjoyable and highly educational ride.

So let's go back....way back....feeling old again!

24 years ago I graduated from the Veterinary School of the University of Sydney. What a day! I was  finally a REAL vet! For 20 years my whole life revolved around this amazing career and of course animals. I practiced my much loved profession in Australia, Hong Kong, UK, Thailand and Singapore. It was a very demanding but equally rewarding calling. 

 I became a proud Mama for the first time 12 years ago. Unfortunately I soon realised that not being able to be at the clinic until all hours of the night to look after my patients and to perform cool surgeries was starting to get me down. I worked part time for many years and enjoyed it, but the passion was gone. I had to accept that my career was no longer giving me that amazing energy and feeling of fulfilment. It made me a little sad and frustrated as well. There was an empty space within me, that needed filling to make me feel good about myself and my work. 

5 years ago, when we were still living in London, my husband bought a Nikon D5100 with an 18-105 kit lens. Little did I know that this camera would allow me to fill THAT space, unleash a creativity that I had no idea was residing within my science orientated 'Veterinarian Self' and to find a second career that fulfilled me and gave me great energy and joy. 

It wasn't love at first sight! This first  camera intimidated me because I had NO IDEA how to use it. Sure I could pop it into Auto and snap away yet I had so many awful pics. Many were not in focus and of poor quality. Most of them were sooo BORING!! Occasionally I would get a lucky nice shot, but overall I had a stack of lousy shots. At first I blamed the camera, but hubby was kind enough to let me know that it was me. I wanted to learn how to take a good photo and I wanted to master the little 'black box'. This curiosity to understand the 'why/how/ when?' of a great shot has been a great driving force for me ever since then. Even now I will closely study the work of other photographers to try and understand what it is about the image that made me stop to take a closer look. Some images have a certain magnetic magic. They want to be viewed, they need to be printed and immortalised. The truly speak to people. 

It wasn't until we moved back to Singapore  that I found the time to look for answers. I was still working as a vet but I had time at night. I had spent half my life in academia, hence education seemed like a better option than trial and error. I started looking for an online photography course. I found The Photography Institute . I convinced my husband that this really was what I wanted to do. He asked me "Why do you want to do this?"  and I remember saying   " I don't know! I just feel I need to do this".  All my life I had moments where I get a strong feeling to do something that wasn't quite explicable or even reasonable. I call it my 'dolphin vibe' ( ask me about it one day, I better not  get side tracked now) others call it a sixth sense. These moments are often positive opportunities in my life that could be easily missed if I didn't pay attention to them. I embrace them and hubby does too now. It is so important to trust your inner voice!

Needless to say I LOVED the course. It opened up a whole new world to me.  The assignments made me focus and study I finished it within 8 months and I realised I had quite a good eye. The FB community was fantastic and offered so much help and support throughout the course. I became brave and posted some of my images in the group for constructive critique and hence grew even more as a photographer. Nowadays I still visit the group occasionally and offer my support to those who are just starting out. 

I became quite addicted to it all, but throughout the whole course I seriously doubted that I had it in me to become a professional photographer. I was still working as a vet and it didn't occur me that I could switch from clinic to camera. I learned to master the camera, took a gazillion photos of my kids, my dog, flowers and still life. My photos became so much better but I never believed anyone would want to pay for my services or images. 

My desire to get very good at photography grew constantly. I read books and photography magazine, watched you tube videos, taught myself post production editing etc etc. I was completely in love with all aspects of photography! This was the beginning of me 'working' late at night every night. No more TV ! 

Note:  it is now 11 pm - writing a blog is hard work!

Only practice makes perfect and my family was starting to get sick of my camera and I. So I started to offer my services for free to friends and charities. I took headshots of staff at my work  Best Vet in SG, offered to photograph shelter dogs that needed some nice pics to increase their chances of finding a new home, took photos of friends, at events and so on. It was getting busy. Yet I wasn't being paid yet. 

I started to feel that maybe there was a chance that this could become a new profession for me. So after much procrastination ( fuelled by the fear of failure) I created my FB page Photography by Sandra Macheroux . My friends were very supportive, bless them! They gave me likes and positive comments. It encouraged me to keep on posting. Suddenly strangers started liking my page and my posts and I began to feel like a proper photographer rather than just a hobbyist. 

I continued to play in the field of  pet photography, portraiture, events and even a wedding ( luckily just as a 2nd shooter and never again haha !)

None of them felt quite 'right' but I kept doing the family portraiture because I was finally brave enough to charge a ( ridiculously ) small fee for my services. Clients referred more clients to me and so it grew. I took any paid job Icould get and also continued to shoot for free for animal welfare groups. I started to get featured in pet magazines, ANZA magazine and so on. The wheels were in motion and word of mouth and a small amount of advertising pushed them along nicely. Slowly but surely  I knew I could actually become a professional photographer.

Not your usual family portrait This would have to be one of my most favourite family portraits ever. So much fun!

This was my next big growth phase- I had to become a small business owner! I never wanted to be a business owner. My father offered me the funds to start a vet clinic many times. He left the corporate world and started his own business in Australia. He wanted me to have the same freedom. I didn't. I liked working for established vet clinics, charities even a university teaching hospital. 

Yet photography was different. I actually wanted to establish myself and my own brand. 

I registered as a business with ACRA and applied for my 'Letter of Consent' with MOM. It was a very exciting day when it arrived in the post! Yet it also meant that I could no longer work as a vet since expat women on a DP pass can only have one LOC. I had to make a choice, so I changed from clinic to camera. I also upgraded my gear which was pretty exciting! 

I did not really ask for much help or input from my husband. He was more than willing to advise me but his advice was too "corporate world-ish". I wanted my business to be warm, genuine, personalised and most of all fun. So I looked for help in a variety of different places.

I can't remember how  I found the Business Women Network SG but through it I met so many lovely women who were also trying to establish themselves in their chosen field. I felt the power of women supporting each other and I learned so much about running a business. Many of them have now become good friends and the FB community is still a great platform for me to share, learn and network. 

Most of you know me for my street photography. It finally came into my life on a Singapore River cruise. I photographed the shophouses and high rises along the river and posted those shots in an expat wife FB group.

My first attempts at SG street photography

 

I received so many likes and people really enjoyed my images. They even enquired about buying prints! It appealed to me because I did not have to deal with people and I did not have to go out shooting every weekend. I decided to put some energy into this kind of photography. I took myself on many walks all around town and since my skill level was pretty good by now, I managed to get some nice shots.

It lead to more social media interest and I started selling my prints from home and at weekend markets. This is my first print on FOAM BOARD - omg so cheap and nasty. Well I have learned a lot about printing as well ( that will be another blog post one day!).

 

My first skyline print EVER on a foam board. Cheep and nasty but it showed me that photos deserve to be printed

 

 

I also realised that there were many women in the same situation that I was in 4.5 years ago. They had all the gear but no idea ! So I started offering free photography classes for a while, founded a FB page for those who were interested in learning more about photography and then this got so busy that I also needed to take it more seriously. I found a nice space to teach in and a started charging. Most of my clients now are still women ( 95%). I enjoy helping women to conquer a skill that many feel is just too technical, too hard or more of a 'man thing'. The group has grown and has a lovely atmosphere. You can join as well if you are still learning and  of course men are welcome too. I am happy to teach any beginners who share my passion  for photography Photography Workshops Singapore - educational and fun Through my classes I hope to educate and inspire others to become much better photographers.

Raffles The location of my very first outing with students!

I soon set up a website, looked after my FB page on a daily basis and it just kept on growing. I educated myself continuously throughout this growth phase and I still do so now.  

To me curiosity + education+ passion + commitment  = Success  

I  have so much more to learn and have so many ideas and new plans for the business. It is amazing to me, that I now have a photography gallery and retail space at 16 A Haji Lane! Kampong Glam is such a fabulous part of town. 

Singapore Squares - Kampong Glam one of my bestsellers

 

The location itself is inspirational and having people come upstairs to view and buy my work is such a buzz! The positive feedback is humbling and I am determined to continue to impress my followers, to create beautiful wall art with my Singapore photography prints and to also put more energy into my charity work. I am even employing my first staff member this week!

 

It is 1 am now and writing this blog was exhausting but actually quite therapeutic. I had never written all of this down.

I am impressed if you read all the way down to here. High five and thank you to you. Let me know what you think of my wonderful photography journey. xx 

As I promised future blogs will be shorter and of more real value to you. So please stay tuned! 

Love Sandra xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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info@macheroux.photography (Photography by Sandra Macheroux) http://www.macheroux.photography/blog/2017/3/from-curious-to-pro---how-photography-took-over-my-life Wed, 29 Mar 2017 01:52:36 GMT