Category Archives: Photography

The Johanna TG326 #TheClippertonProject

The Johanna with sails up (Photo by Ingi Sorensøn
The Johanna with sails up (Photo: Ingi Sorensøn

This post is a dedication to the lovely Johanna TG326, our main mode of transport when we were in the Faroe Islands on a residency with The Clipperton Project.

Johanna under Sail
Johanna under sail (Photo: Martin Drury)

Johanna was built in Rye, Sussex in the South of England in 1884 at the famous shipyard owned by James Collins Hoad. Johanna was initially named Oxfordshire, with the first owner being John William Haylock from Dulwick in Surrey.

Shackle from the Johanna
Anchor shackle from the Johanna (Photo: Martin Drury)

In October 1894 Grimsby shipownder Greorg Edv. James Moody bought the Oxfordshire, though sold it December 1894 to Jákup Dahl, a general merchant in Vágur in the southern most island of the Faroes, Sudaroy. It was the first sloop owned by Dahl, who later established the company A/S J. Dahl and purchasing several sloops and schooners over the next thirty years. A/S J. Dahl was one of the most important companies in the Faroes in the 20th century, operating more than 20 sloops and schooners and having several other businesses in Vágur.

Some of the ropes
Some of the ropes (Photo: Martin Drury)

The Johanna was part of the companies fishing fleet until the outbreak of WW2, when most of the Faroese sloops began to ice fish for the British market. Johanna remained part of the fleet as a fishing vessel until around 1972.

In the early 1970s only a few sloops remained in the Faroes, one of them being the Joahnna. From 1972, she remained in the Vágur harbour and was considered a nuisance. In 1980 A/S J. Dahl planned to sink Johanna, which had been the fate of many of the other sloops.

Ropes and rigging
Ropes and rigging (Photo: Martin Drury)

The Johanna was saved at the last-minute when a trust was formed to save Johanna and restore the sloop to the original condition. In 1981, The Trust Johanna TG326 bought the sloop Johanna from A/S J. Dahl for one Danish Kroner.

It took eight years to fully restore the Johanna, many timber parts have had to be replaced, but today the Johanna still retains her elegant shape and form.

The day we sailed into Sandoy was really special as another sloop, the Westward Ho docked beside us. Check out this great picture from Mhairi Law when she climbed up the mast.

Westward Ho docks beside the Johana (Photo by Mhairi Law)
Westward Ho docks beside the Johana (Photo: Mhairi Law)

Here are some more pictures of some of the details of the Joahnna.


The Snæfellsnes and journey to the centre of the earth #SIMResidency

Yesterday was an amazing day as I set off with some of the artists from the SIM Residency on a road trip to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, north-west of Reykjavik.

Our first stop was the historic town of Borgarnes, where we went to the Settlement Center. We had a lot of fun in the exhibit, where there are some 3d fibreglass interactive maps, a bow of a ship that moves and some great information about the early days of the Icelandic Sagas and the creation of the parliament in Iceland in 930AD (located in Þingvellir). Lots of buttons were pressed and plenty of laughs were had on the recreation of the viking boat. We also took a few pictures of the fjord behind the museum.

From there we headed to Stykkishólmur, where we enjoyed some great fish and chips on the wharf before heading to the Library of Water and checking out the incredible church.

We took our time heading west, taking lots of photographs along the way before stopping at Ólafsvík and checking out the triangle church.

Everywhere we went there were lava fields – I was amazed at how soft they felt – I always imagined them to be really hard. I think they would be dangerous to walk on as you could fall through the sections that are sparsely covered, or covered in moss.

The next stop was at the Saxhóll Crater, where you walk 300 metres up a flight of stairs to arrive at the top of the crater. There are fantastic views of the surrounding landscape, especially the Snæfellsjökull volcano.

The Snæfellsjökull volcano, glacier and surrounding landscape was the inspiration for Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which incidentally was one of my favourite books as a child. Although we were keen to go to the glacier, we were informed that it takes about five hours, you need shoes with metal spikes, an all-wheel-drive vehicle – none of which we had. We also learnt that much care was needed as there were cracks in the glacier as it is summer. We decided that it might be better to go with a guide another time.

On the way back to Reykjavik,we were so lucky to see some Gray Seals at Ytri Tunga. When we arrived we were told by some other tourists that there was only one on a rock, but we thought it was worth walking along the beach anyway. When we got close to the rocks we saw the big one basking on a rock and then over the next 20 minutes around half a dozen appeared. Also the sun was just gorgeous, sparkling and golden as it was reflected on the water. Here is a short video of the seals – it is bit wonky as I only had my phone with me.

After leaving at 10am, I finally arrived home by around 1.30am – a huge day and biggest thanks to the awesome driver Ella <3. It was an amazing day and a taste of what an incredible place Iceland truly is.

Finding bearings in Reykjavik #SIMResidency

Tracey’s first blog post from Iceland 🙂

Tracey M Benson || Bytetime

The past few days have been much of a blur since finishing the residency with The Clipperton Project.

I arrived in Reykjavik to enjoy a few days as a tourist before starting my residency with The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (SÍM) at Korpúlfsstaðir.

The residency is located in what used to be Icelands largest dairy farm, on the outskirts of Reykjavík with gorgeous view of Mt. Esja. Korpúlfsstaðir has 40 SÍM artist studios, a textile workshop, a ceramic workshop, an artist run gallery as well a golf club with a golf course outside. I have also heard you can get a good coffee from the golf course.

When I first arrived in Reykjavik, I stayed in a lovely AirBnB on Laugavegur, one of the main tourist streets. It was very handy to walk to lots of places including the Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral and museums and galleries downtown.

Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral Hallgrímskirkja…

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Mykines, Faroe Islands

Yesterday we caught the ferry from Sørvágur on Vágar to Mykines – the most westerly island in the Faroes.

Mykines is a beautiful place, famous for its Puffin population and beautiful cottages with grass roofs.

The other thing Mykines is well-known for is the unpredictability of its weather, which affects reliable transport to the island. The ferry only runs during the Summer months and if there are southerly or westerly winds then the ferry cannot dock. The other transport option is helicoptor, but it is also reliant on the weather.

We are all hoping for good winds tomorrow as we head back to Vágar, though if we are stranded there are plenty of potatoes to cook 🙂

Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

The past couple of days we have been slowly orienting ourselves to the Faroe Islands and our next month as part of the Clipperton Project (TCP). At the moment we are based in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroes.

Tórshavn is a really gorgeous place – lots of interesting things to photograph!

To give a little bit of a cultural context – the Faroe Islands have been a self governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948. It has its own parliament and its own flag. The Visit Faroe Islands website has some great information about the history of the Faroes:

According to stories passed down for generations the Irish abbot St. Brendan in AD 565 went in search of The Promised Land of the Saints. One of the stories told of a visit to “The Islands of the Sheep and the Paradise of Birds” situated several days’ sailing distance from Scotland. Based on this story and archaeology excavations there is good reason to believe that Irish monks were the first settlers in the Faroe Islands.
In the 9th century Norse settlers came to the Faroe Islands. These were mainy farmers who fleed from Norway and ended up in the Faroe Islands in search of new land. The special constitutional status of the islands was originally founded on the ancient viking tradition from the 9th century AD (all free men convened at the Althing, later called Løgting, in the capital Tórshavn). From the latter half of the 12th century on – when attached to the medieval Norwegian Kingdom – they further developed their own culture, language and other social institutions, while at the same time adapting constitutionally to the surrounding political contexts of coming and going empires reaching out from the Scandinavian heartlands.
Little is known about Faroese history up until the 14th century. The main historical source for this period is the 13th century work Færeyinga Saga (Saga of the Faroese).

Anyway, we have only just started our journey with TCP – will share more soon!

Katmandu, Nepal – A Photo Essay

The recent earthquake in Nepal has bought back memories of an unforgettable trip I did the Nepal in late 2008, I hope most, if not all, of these places are still standing.

Also see my subsequent post Ama Dablam Trek, Nepal – A Photo Essay.

Quick Guide to Travel Photography

By Garry Benson
Edited by Tracey Benson

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

Travel photography is a creative adventure. Away from home, you have the opportunity to record the unfamiliar with a fresh eye. This can be as true of a regular family holiday as of rare and special trips to exotic places.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

Purely as records of experience, travel photos are often irreplaceable – you cannot go back. This means that to find, take and bring home an accurate record you need to be well prepared. An important section of these notes are such essentially practical matters as what equipment to carry and how to look after it. There are also general tips on travel formalities and on the challenges of different locations. And a final section shows how to put it all together in a slide show or trip album.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

But travel photos can be more than by-products of a trip. Holidays and journeys give you the luxury of time – time to observe the beauties or oddities of the world and to compose images that capture the atmosphere and spirit of people and places. By travelling as a photographer and with a photographer’s selective eye, you can come home with a collection of evocative images.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

1. Planning a Trip
Anticipation is one of the pleasures of travel. And with some advance knowledge of where you are going, you will waste less time in the wrong places and come back with a more interesting photographic record. Also, you will take better pictures if you have packed the right equipment. So before you leave, do some planning.

The first stage of preparation is to research as thoroughly as possible the places you will visit by going online, using guides, travel books, brochures, magazines and postcards. Such visual material will provide a starting point for your own photographs and websites like Tripadvisor help to inform you about other travellers experiences. You should also find out what kind of weather to expect, if there are strict rules about access to particular sites, and the starting times of any special events to be held during your stay. For example, a nearby town might be celebrating a festival; or a night scene reproduced in a travel book may suggest a good subject for time-exposure pictures. All this research will help you decide what equipment is vital and what you can leave behind.

The need for planning does not stop when you get to a destination. If you’re alone, you can work out a photographic schedule according to the subjects that appeal to you most. But if you’re holidaying with family or friends you’ll have to organise your photographic schedule around your companions’ plans. So try to organise your more ambitious outings for the days when others are indulging in more conventional amusements. For example, if you need to take a long, steep climb for an overall view of a resort, wait until your companions are relaxing on the beach, rather than drag unwilling hikers along with you.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

2. Travel Formalities
Camera equipment tends to attract attention from customs authorities, particularly at airports. In some countries, the amount of equipment you are allowed to bring in is surprisingly limited, and if you are flying overseas with more than one camera there may be problems.

Try to check the allowances beforehand with the tourist information services and Smart Traveller. In practise, customs officials have wide discretion over how strictly they enforce the rules. A reasonable, cooperative attitude will often work wonders. Remember that the regulations are generally designed to prevent people selling items at a profit without paying duty. Always stress that your cameras and equipment are personal effects.

A good tip is to list cameras and lenses, with their numbers, so that the list can be registered with customs, both when you leave your own country and upon entering a foreign one. Alternatively, suggest that the details are entered by customs on your passport so that you are obliged to take out the same items you brought in.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

3. Local Research
However well you prepare the ground for a trip before leaving home, there is no substitute for on-the-spot research. The more information you can glean from local sources, the more chances you have of finding unusual viewpoints or rich photographic source material. Begin with that published information – guides, maps and postcards from bookshops and kiosks at stations, airports and hotels. Studying postcards is particularly useful: you can put yourself in the photographer’s position, and then consider other possible viewpoints and approaches. next, visit the local tourist office and travel agents. There, you can get free, up-to-date literature and detailed information on subjects that interest you. A list of organised tours, even if they are too expensive or not to your taste, can be helpful when you plan your own excursions.

Finally, remember that your best sources are all around you: the local people. Never hesitate to ask and ask again. A sound policy is to ask several people the same question, because not all the information you receive will be reliable. The staff at your hotel or guesthouse will usually be very helpful, but if possible take the precaution of checking out what they tell you at the photographic site. For example, if you want to get shots when fisherman are retuning with their catch, make your enquiries at the harbour.

The first step at any site is to make a reconnaissance visit. If time and the site permit, walk around the subject to assess every possible angle. Make running notes of the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches, and try to imagine how changing lighting conditions will affect each view. Again, postcards of the subject will provide useful comparisons. Deciding when and how to take the picture will depend on what you want to convey about the subject.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

4. Judging a Location
Once you have research a locale and have a clear idea of the subjects you want to photograph, you should consider the best conditions for taking your pictures. Of course if you are recording an event. Timing, and to a certain extent camera position, will be predetermined. But for more stable subjects – scenic views and interesting landmarks and buildings – the time of day and the viewpoint you choose are all-important.

For example, to help you choose the most effective conditions, find out both the time and the direction of sunrise and sunset; these will depend on the season as well as the place. Remember that the angle and quality of early light change very quickly; arriving at the site even ten minutes late may mean missing the best picture. Where the climate is consistent, you can plan your pictures precisely. Otherwise, be prepared to visit a site several times until the conditions are right.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

5. Putting it all together
Photographs are meant to be seen, and the lasting pleasure of travel photography comes when the trip is over and you can browse through your images. Selecting, arranging and presenting your pictures are as much parts of the creative process as taking photographs and deserve as much care.

The advance planning, local research and notes you made about pictures along the way will now pay off. Instead of a random heap of images, including some you cannot identify, you will have a unique and vivid record of your whole trip. You might choose to arrange your images consecutively, in order of then places visited; or according to one of more themes planned at the time. And keep an open mind – you may find that an unexpected theme suddenly occurs to you.

Photographing Art for Print Publication: Part 3

This article is the final in a series of 3, by Garry Benson, which covers all the technical steps for succesfully taking shots of artwork suitable for print publication.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

On the left, the untouched image – on the right colour corrected image. The original was shot using the ‘Loo Paper’ alternative.

Many digital cameras behave like color slide film – the best images are often slightly underexposed, particularly when bright scene elements are involved. But this means you have a lot better detail in shadow and highlight areas that you can access to if you have access to image editing software. Use exposure compensation to feel out your own camera’s exposure sweet spots, but count on some variation with photographic conditions. When in doubt, bracket your exposures by about 1/3rd of a stop either side of your meter reading.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

Most on-camera flash units are too good! They pump out a very strong blast of light, so if you’re close to an artwork and want a subtler light try adding a few layers of loo paper or kitchen roll. You need to experiment to work out the best exposure but make sure that the flash sensor (under the words FZ150) isn’t covered up as it measures the amoiunt of flash light needed.

Sooner or later, you’ll have to deal with other digital recording mode issues like white balance and in camera sharpening, but it’s usually safe to accept camera defaults for starters. Digital cameras have more to do in preparing to take a photo than film cameras. Like film cameras, they have to focus the lens, however they also have to take a pre exposure to get proper colour balance!

The good news is that they are able to achieve better exposed, better colour balanced and in many cases better focused images than film cameras. The bad news is that this takes a fraction of a second and could cause you to miss a great picture.

What can you do about it? There are a couple of approaches that are very effective. The simplest is to just push the shutter button half way down and keep it there until you are ready for the photo, and then press the rest of the way. Pressing halfway signals the camera to immediately choose focus, colour balance, and exposure. The subsequent delay when you take your shot is now quite small, comparable to film cameras. When I am shooting I keep the shutter button half depressed, and I get great shots, even action.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

Invest in large memory cards for your camera. One of the most important reasons for using a massive memory card is to enable you to shoot at your camera’s highest resolution. If you paid a premium price for a 24 mega pixel digicam, then get your money’s worth and shoot at 24 mega pixels. Why not squeeze more images on your memory card by shooting a lower resolution and low quality compression settings? Because you could be missing out on a great picture and the quality will suffer. And if you take a beautiful picture at the low 640 x 480 resolution, that means you can only make a print about the size of a credit card.

One of the great hidden features on digital cameras is the fill flash or ‘flash on demand’ mode for when you want it (the name may change in different cameras). By taking control of the flash so it goes on when you want it to, not when the camera deems it appropriate, you’ve just taken an important step toward capturing great photographs. How many flash settings does your camera have? In ‘flash on demand’ mode, the camera exposes for the background first, then adds just enough flash to illuminate your subject. The result is a professional looking picture where everything in the composition looks good. Wedding photographers have been using this technique for years.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

A huge gallery exhibition like Cai Guo-Qiang: Falling Back to Earth is a challenge – there’s no alternative but to go with the gallery lighting.

Photographing art in a gallery situation will often present difficulties. When you have work in a gallery it is usually illuminated by spotlights and the colour balance is very ‘warm’, similar to the light you see at sunrise and sunset. Unless you have supplementary lighting or have a good flash unit on your camera, don’t submit these types of shots. The colour isn’t true, often spotlights create lots of shadows and you’re just not doing justice to your artwork.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

This image was presented for publication. Notice the blue daylight streaming in from the left; the fluros in the ceiling and the fact that to avoid reflections in the glass the photographer had to move to the left. See below for hints on shooting images through glass.

The solution is to turn off all the spotlights, house lights, fluros etc and just use your camera flash that is colour adjusted for daylight. If you have the luxury of a remote flash head setup place two of them either side of the camera at 45˚ and turn off your in-built camera flash. A cheaper solution is to use your camera flash, place some large sheets of white packing foam (save them when you buy a large item like a new fridge or 50″ LCD TV!!) close to the artwork at 45˚ and they will help ‘fill’ in the shot.

I scrunge up Alfoil on the other side and glue it on the foam sheet – this is for sharper, broken light and is also good for portraits. Oh, and if you’re using reflected light (off walls or ceiling) check the colour – white walls are best but any other colour will change the colour balance. If you’re shooting in daylight any stray window light will be OK as long as it’s not too strong or ‘modelling’ (from one side).

In a gallery open to daylight and no spotlights but fluorescent lights there’s another problem. Unless the fluorescents are special daylight ones the images will look greenish – again, turn off the fluoros and use your flash. One last hint; make sure you are taking the shot lined up to the centre of the work, both vertically and horizontally.

I was shooting a documentary in the APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Lands in Central Australia when the producer received a call from her book publisher – all the gallery shots of paintings were unusable due to the mix of fluoro, spotlight and daylight on the images. Could I help? Well I waited until midday (good daylight balance), turned off the spots and fluoros and shot with a ‘soft’ flash (some layers of loo paper over the flash head) to soften shadows.


Softening the flash effect also helps when photographing works under glass but inevitably glass is a problem. The best solution is to demount the work but galleries (and artists) get a little twitchy when this is suggested. The next best solution is to buy a Polaroid filter.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

Sometimes you can use reflections to get a more interesting image. This poster in Avignon was interesting but with the reflections added it achieves a different result…

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

…and it’s an interesting way to get a ‘selfie’ – you can just see my reflection in this shot in the lanes of Venice, Veneto. ©2014 garrybenson

Polarizing filters need to be rotated to alter the effect they have on reflections. Slowly rotate the filter while looking through the lens and most reflections will magically disappear – but be careful you’re not lit or you’ll be reflected, camera and all.

Garry Benson
Garry Benson

The old images of ancient photographers hiding under black drapes seems crazy now, but a large (say 2 metre square) piece of black velvet is perfect for blocking out the shiny bits of your camera and tripod, not to mention my shiny bald spot! And it provides a perfect ‘black hole’ background when photographing small objects.


And the most desperate solution if you don’t have a filter? If you have a pair of good quality, clean and scratch free Polaroid sunnies you can use them as a filter by holding them over the lens and rotating them to block reflections. Definitely the last option as the quality of sunnies glass is not as good as the quality of your lens.

So as you can see by the above, the whole process of taking your own great photos of artworks is relatively easy – not! But why not try it, get some experience by shooting lots of images and like this once 15 year old trainee you will gradually learn how to take your own great images of your own great artwork. Just another hint – don’t forget to delete all those crappy experimental shots so only you know how bad they were!

Photographing Art for Print Publication: Part 2

By Garry Benson

This series of three articles covers all the technical steps for successfully taking shots of artwork suitable for print publication.

Traditional printing methods use patterns of dots to render photographic images on a printed page. While pixels on a monitor are square and in contact with the adjacent pixels, printed dots have space between them to make white, or no space between them to make black.

© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson

Colour photographs are printed using four inks, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK), and four separate dot patterns, one for each ink. A dot per inch (dpi) refers to printed dots and the space between them, while pixels per inch (ppi) refers to the square pixels in a digital image.

Digital and film photography are far more alike than they are different, but digital image recording opens up many new, valuable and perhaps unanticipated opportunities. For starters, assume that everything you already know about getting good pictures still applies.

© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson

With the cost of another shot at nothing, why hold back? The pros typically take dozens of shots to land a few keepers. Now you can do the same – and there’s no better or faster way to learn. Instant feedback is one of digital photography’s most powerful advantages.

© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson

Before digital cameras became affordable for the consumer market, choosing what photos to take was a matter of finances and processing time. Everyone envied the contributing photographers for glossy magazines that had deep enough pockets to afford taking a hundred exposures to get that one keeper for the cover.

Digital photography has made it economically feasible for the amateur photographer to feel more relaxed and experiment by taking numerous exposures and sort through them quickly without the long processing time. Should you take the photo? Take 10 and choose the best!

© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson

In reality it’s not the camera that makes a good picture, it’s the photographer. You can buy the most expensive camera on the market, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll take better pictures. Novice photographers – and photographers who have no interest in editing their digital photographs – should generally leave their cameras set to capture JPEGs. If you save them as RAW files and high res JPEGs you have the best of both worlds.

However, to take advantage of the high resolution and quality of the camera’s sensor and image processing system it is pointless to shoot with anything other than the camera’s highest resolution and quality settings. When you take a picture in a JPEG format, the camera does things to it before it’s saved. The image sensor converts analog to digital, adds any specifications that were made, like white balance, sharpening, contrast, image effect, digital zoom, etc. After all of that is done, the image is saved to the memory card.

In a lot of cases, that is the best way to go, because the camera is very smart about interpreting the surroundings and adding the right specifications. Always shoot with the image size on the largest image setting possible and the quality setting on Fine (or Super-Fine if the camera offers it). As I said above that’s why most pro photographers shoot the largest possible images in RAW format (unedited in camera) and JPEG.

© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson

Don’t burn your digital images by doing too much post-processing and always maintain the original file as every time you work on a JPEG file (for example) you lose quality as soon as you save it (see the Hints that I’ll include part 3). It’s easy to reduce the size of image files post-capture if you want to send them in emails or post them on the Web but ALWAYS use the ‘Save as…’ command or work on a copy of the original. Be careful – it’s impossible to put back image data that wasn’t recorded in the first place because the camera was set on Small size and Normal (or Basic) compression.

Part 3 looks at practical explanations on exposure and white level as well as some handy hints for artists looking for publication opportunities.

Photographing Art for Print Publication: Part 1

by Tracey Benson

Photographing art will be a trilogy of articles from regular contributor Garry Benson. This first post is also a playful and whimsical personal journey into understanding photographic techniques for documenting artworks. Garry talks about his background and career as an artist and cinematographer, sharing how this experience has informed his expansive knowledge of photography. We hope you enjoy these new posts.

Photographing Art Part 1
by Garry Benson

This series of three articles covers all the technical steps for successfully taking shots of artwork suitable for publication. What does this have to do with travel? Well, most of us spend our travel time visiting art galleries or buying art so for insurance purposes learning to shoot good images is important.

SLOW FADE TO BLACK. PLAY SOPPY MUSIC (Borodin’s Nocturne – String Quartet No. 2 in D Major).

At the tender age of 15 I had just started Year 11 at Kedron State High School when I was offered a job as a trainee cinematographer with a film production company in Brisbane. Back then everything was shot, processed and printed on 35mm film, so I had to learn the whole process. When I asked my boss how to become a good photographer he said ‘Take lots & lots of photos and then assess them.’

© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson

Do you remember the film ‘Newsfront’ about early Aussie newsreel camera men? Well, that was my life. When we shot newsreels for Cinesound News we had ‘short ends’ of 35mm film that I could load on to film cassettes and use. And every frame I shot was critiqued in painful detail by both the film editor in Sydney and my boss in Brisbane.

© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson

A couple of years later at 17 I inveigled my way on to the sets of Theatre Royal & Bandstand at BTQ Channel 7, shooting stills of people like George Wallace Jr, Patsy Ann Noble, Bill Thorpe & the Aztecs, Col Joye & the Joy Boys and Little Pattie. I sold prints to the artists and to magazines like TV Week.


© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson
Sunday Mail, 24 June 1989

In the 1980s I’d returned to Australia after a number of years working in film, TV and as a photojournalist in SE Asia, the Middle East & Europe. I was teaching photo-journalism and TV production in Adelaide, writing articles for magazines such as Craft Australia, Craft Arts, Pottery Australia and American Crafts magazine. I was editing & designing a magazine called SA Crafts – oh, and I was also weaving & exhibiting haute lisse tapestries. One day I had a call from a young lady called Janet De Boer who was about to launch her magazine into colour production – could I help?

© Garry Benson
Cover: Textile Fibre Forum

‘Gazza, why can’t I take photos with my little digital camera that are good enough for publication in the magazine if I have an emergency?’ asked my editor Janet De Boer of Textile magazine, showing me one of her shots. ‘How do I know if my shots are good enough?’

Technically speaking Janet would just get away with her shot, as her camera is 10 megapixels. I checked the images on my Photoshop program and the image was a JPEG, 3.1 MB, 180 dpi and 3648 x 2736 pixel size image, suitable for a medium size image in the magazine. When converted to a TIFF file that include all the CMYK or RGB channels the image would be around 28 MB.

The other problem is that any shot taken with a digital camera will need at least some degree of colour correction and exposure balance in a digital editing program – a task undertaken religiously by Janet’s designer Paul if the submitted image isn’t already colour & exposure correct.

For most artists there are two options – take the photo yourself or get a professional to do it. And ouch, yes, professional photographers do cost a lot of money. But think about this – how much would you have to pay to get your work seen by thousands of people throughout Australia & NZ? It’s a no-brainer!

Let’s say you want to take your own shots, how do you go about it? Well, just as in life there are people who chose VHS over Beta video systems; Mac over Windows or Nikon over Canon (a personal bias) there are two options – people with access to editing software (such as Photoshop) and people without that access. Photoshop costs anywhere from $1000 to $6000 and you need a computer to use it.

And when you take a digital photo for publication you need to have a file of a certain technical standard. That’s a TIFF file, 300 dpi, at least 3000 pixels on the widest side and approximately 15-20 megabytes.

It’s literally impossible to work this out without software, so below is a guide to help you choose whether your camera is up to the challenge – but remember, the above rules are essential for printing quality images in a magazine:

Megapixels vs. Maximum Image Size
Megapixels Pixel Resolution*
4 2464 x 1632
6 3008 x 2000
8 3264 x 2448
10 3872 x 2592
12 4290 x 2800
16 4920 x 3264
35mm film, scanned 5380 x 3620

*Typical Resolution. Actual pixel dimensions vary from camera to camera.
**At 150ppi, printed images will have visible pixels and details will look “fuzzy”.

You’ll notice that the good old 35mm slide has a much higher resolution rate than any of the above digital cameras. Even though ‘dots per inch’ (dpi) and ‘pixels per inch’ (ppi) are used interchangeably by many, they are not the same thing.

Part 2
Looks at this conundrum – ‘In reality it’s not the camera that makes a good picture, it’s the photographer. You can buy the most expensive camera on the market, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll take better pictures.’