For a while now I have been asking myself the question of whether I should enter photography competitions, or just do art ones.  There is a difference, and it is something I am still trying to work out, but after my last attempt at entering one, getting the results, I think I am beginning to understand.

murraysunset-pinklades-salt-bush-waterI entered a landscape photography contest and perhaps there were a few issues with me entering it, one being, that I don’t really consider myself a landscape photographer.  Well I do now, but it isn’t something that I think I have been doing for long.  It was perhaps too soon to enter.

The other issue is that the judges, and we were told who they were with links to their work, did work that was nothing like what I do. It is one thing you learn in the art world, you will succeed a lot more if you do work that the judges can relate to, or understand.

Though perhaps my downfall was really that my images were not the standard sort of images that people enter into photography competitions and I have realised that they are more technical and it becomes more about the technical aspect of an image.  Have you got the right exposure? Is the image composed correctly, according to photography conventions?  These things really came through in their criticism of my work.

murraysunset-pinklakes-ramp-saltlakeIn art competitions, the technical aspects of you work don’t matter, it is all about the image and the message you are trying to convey.  You’re image could be out of focus, and it wouldn’t matter, especially if it was a pleasing visual.  What matters is the image and do people get what you are trying to convey.

I know that sometimes when I am taking a photo or working on a photo, I don’t do everything correctly, but I have to just go with the way I want to do the image.  The “technically correct way” isn’t always important to me, but I can see if I want to enter some competitions, that it has to be.

Another thing I was completely astounded by was how patronising the feedback was.  I was told to consider exposure and maybe I should put my images into a program like Photoshop.  Seriously, how can you respect a judge, or judges that can’t tell that you have done that, especially on an image that has been completely changed in Photoshop.

This experience has lead me to believe that Photography competitions are not for me.  They are, I suppose, exactly how I thought they would be.  I think from now on I should look for competitions that are more about art.  I know I may not do well in those, but I would feel a lot more comfortable in that world.

On a side note, if you have enjoyed this post or learned something new, please remember this is how I make my living, so it would be wonderful if you would consider making a small donation, let me continue to help you by helping me.


sccity-hpm0374-2cepI have already done this post but the new formating things I’m trying completely deleted all my content and I was left with just a gallery.  So forgive me if this post seems rather short.  It is so annoying having to do things twice. However, back on topic.  Selling your images, I was asked the other day on Google+ about selling photos.  It is a tough question.  I told the person, that I didn’t know anywhere where you could sell your photos successfully.

Just imagine on the internet and on sites like Red Bubble, Flickr, SmugMug, there are millions of people trying to sell their photos.  With the age of digital upon us, the days of photography only being available to those really dedicated are gone.  Now, so many people are buying DSLRs or just using their camera phone, the competition is too tough. They all think their work is good enough and want to sell it, so how do you compete?

The reality is you can’t.  You might be lucky and sell a few, but if you are taking the same photos as everyone else, then it is unlikely that you will sell anything.  I would only consider buying the work of someone else whose work I thought was extraordinary.

You have to ask yourself if you would purchase other peoples work?  If the answer to that is no, then how can you expect others to buy yours.

I have sold very little.  I have tried sites like Red Bubble, Etsy, my own website, but the truth is I sell almost nothing, and I certainly haven’t sold anything for quite a while.  I also don’t try and sell work anymore.  I got rid of my Red Bubble account and my Etsy account. They were more trouble than they were worth.  People were looking at my work, but they were other photographers to see what I was putting up.  I have decided to put my energies elsewhere really.

So I would say if you are trying to sell your work, good luck, and I hope you do, but don’t be disappointed if you don’t.

On a side note, if you have enjoyed this post or learned something new, please remember this is how I make my living, so it would be wonderful if you would consider making a small donation, let me continue to help you by helping me.



It is the Monochrome Madness Challenge on my blog tomorrow morning and I thought I might have a look at how one image can be done one way and then in another.

LeanneCole-melbourne-banyule-warringal parklands-20140614-1366

I took this image last weekend in a park near where I live.  I really liked the tree, there is something about it. I have no idea what the tree is, not that it matters.  I took this image and then decided that I should play with it.  I wondered how it would look in black and white.


Now the image has a completely different feel to it.  I tried to imitate an infrared effect, it didn’t quite work, but I’m not too fussed.  It isn’t an infrared image, but I like the wintery feel it gives the image.  The original doesn’t really have that. It is a great thing to do, to try and do one image in different ways, see what you can get.  I had to do it when I was studying photography, see how many different ways you can do one image.  It is an interesting experiment.  Why don’t you try it. Monochrome Madness Week 16 will published tomorrow morning and when it is I will add a link to it here.

Monochrome Madness Week 16 has now been published.

On a side note, if you have enjoyed this post or learned something new, please remember this is how I make my living, so it would be wonderful if you would consider making a small donation, let me continue to help you by helping me.



Werribee Mansion

Werribee MansionWhen I am teaching one of the things I try to get through to my students is about intention, basically why are you taking the image.


At school now, when students write something they are asked to answer who is their audience? Who are they writing it for?

I don’t see any reason why the same can’t be asked when you take a photo.  So here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Why are you taking the image?
  • What is in the scene that makes you want to photograph it?
  • Who is the photo intended for?  It is only for you, your family, your blog, or maybe a photography competition.  It is good to have some idea of who the image is intended for.
  • So you want the image to be a art image?  Are you intending to do lots of post processing.
  • Is the shot just a record of what you saw?

I look at lots of photos on the internet and often I see photos of say a building where someone has just gone straight up to the building held the camera up to it and taken the photo.  There is nothing really wrong with that, if that is your intention, so if you do it, is it your intention, or would you like to do more.

When I see a building that I like and want to take photos.  I try to think of the images that most people would take, and then I think to myself, what else can I do?  How can I try and make my image different to what everyone else takes?  I then have to ask myself what is my intention here, and what sort of image do I want to take.

We all have to do this and if you want to do something different, then start asking yourself, what is your intention?

On a side note, if you have enjoyed this post or learned something new, please remember this is how I make my living, so it would be wonderful if you would consider making a small donation, let me continue to help you by helping me.


LeanneCole-Melbourne-CrownCasino-yarra-9993Last week I started the Social Snappers.  It seemed like a great idea to get small groups of people together to go out and take photos together.  I also thought it would be a great idea for women.  An opportunity to get out and take photos with other women and socialise with like minded people.  I know there are lots of women who love photography, but don’t like going out on their own or don’t feel safe on their own.

I have lots of trips planned with places both in the city and out of the city.  I thought I would start with two groups, a Sunday afternoon session and then one on Tuesday mornings.  If it takes off I do hope that I will be able to offer more and more.

The groups are small and there will be no more than 8 in each excursion, the focus will always be on photography and it is easier for smaller groups to get the photos they want to take.

leannecole-banyuleflats-20140525-9485While I will be with the group and I know how to take photos, I am not there as a teacher, my role will be more to facilitate and get the group to where we want to take photos. Though, I am also there to give advice.  I don’t mind advising, like what aperture to use, or if you can’t get your camera to do something, I might be able to help. If you normally use your camera on auto, then for these you should keep doing that.  If you want to take your camera off auto, then you should look at doing my Practical Photography course in Eltham, or do a One on One with me.

As this is social as well as photographic, what camera you have for most of these won’t matter.  It will only be hard if you are using a point and shoot when we are doing things like night photography.

I hope I hear from lots of you who would like to join me for a Social Snappers Photography Excursion.  If you want to find out more about the Social Snappers and the excursions planned, then go to the page Social Snappers Photography Excursions on this site.

On Friday when I was teaching a One on One Photography Session my client wanted to know about panning.  I haven’t done panning for a while,

Panning is where you photograph a moving object so that the moving object is in focus, but the background is out of focus.  It is done a lot in motor car racing, motorbike racing and cycling.  LeanneCole-melbourne-trams-buses-20140606-0349

Panning is not hard, but it take a lot of practice, and not many people can just do it first time.  My first attempts were terrible.  It took me quite a while to really get the knack of it.  I would stand outside my house and practice on the cars as they went past. Cars driving past are great to practice on.

To do panning you have to control your shutter speed.  I would put my camera on shutter priority and pick my shutter speed. The trick to panning is to move at the same speed as the thing you are photographing, move your camera that is.  Sounds easy, try it and see.

To get the blur in the background you need a slow shutter speed, I did this with a shutter speed of 1/25 of a second.  I had  my spot on the front of the tram and I moved with it.  I kept my finger millimetres off the shutter button until I thought I was ready, then pressed to focus and just clicked.

If you are starting this, I would start with a faster shutter speed, around 1/150th of a second.  If you can pan the image and get the object you want in focus, then try going down to 1/100 of a second, then when you can do that go down again, just keep going down until you can get the moving object in focus and a lovely blurred background.

Good luck.

Since I’ve been teaching I have heard many times how people think that night photography is really hard.  LeanneCole-Melbourne-CrownCasino-yarra-9993

I thought perhaps I might give away the secret of night photography.

When I am teaching a class I tell them that there is really nothing different to taking photos at night than there is during the day.  Perhaps the only difference is time.  Photos at night take a lot longer.

When you are taking a photo of something during the day you decide what aperture you will use and then decide what ISO would be best.  At night you put your camera on a tripod and then decide what aperture, probably the same as you would use during the day.  The ISO can be very low because you are using a tripod, and if you have a 30 second shutter speed, it doesn’t matter.

So don’t be afraid of photos at night, just try it and see how you go.  Good luck.

On a side note, if you have enjoyed this post or learned something new, please remember this is how I make my living, so it would be wonderful if you would consider making a small donation.


Everyone wants to take photos of sunrises and more want to get a good sunset. I did a quick post last weekend on how I get the colours of those, and today I thought I would give you some tips on how to predict whether you will get a sunset or a sunrise.

One of the things you need to keep an eye on for sunrises, and sunsets, is the weather.  You really need to watch the weather forecast.



To get a good sunrise the weather for the day you want to take photographs has to be bad, or will be changing for the worse.  If the forecast is for a storm that day, or rain, or something that will be worse than the previous day, then the chances are good for a great sunrise.

The other thing you need is some cloud.  Not so much that they block out the sun as it comes up, but scattered clouds.  If you wake up and can see that the sky is overcast, then chances are you won’t get much.  I usually stay home then.  If you see that there are no clouds in the sky at all, you will get some colour near the horizon, but it won’t be brilliant.  Remember the colours are the sun reflecting off the clouds.



Sunsets work the same way with the clouds, if you want the ribbons of colour, or the brilliant colours in the sky, then you need the clouds.  Overcast and too think clouds will show nothing.  scattered clouds are the best.

Unlike sunrises, the forecast has to be for brilliant weather the next day.  I think it is good if you have a good day and the forecast for the next day is even better.  The better the weather the next day, the better the sunset.

Of course this is what we predict, it doesn’t actually mean it will happen.  It can all seem like the perfect conditions, and then nothing happens, or not much. Then there will be days where you thought you woudn’t get anything and you get something spectacular. You will also get better sunsets or sunrises depending on the time of year and where you live, that is something that you will have to experiment with.

Good luck, I hope this helps you get some great photos of the colours in the sky.

On a side note, if you have enjoyed this post or learned something new, please remember this is how I make my living, so it would be wonderful if you would consider making a small donation.


leannecole-milkyway-pointleo-9768I showed some photos today on my main blog of the Milky Way, that I photographed last night and I have had quite a few people ask me what settings I used, so I thought I would do a quick post on what I did.

We traveled away from the city lights as much as possible, so were down on the coast.  We both had apps on our phones that would tell us where the milky way was, though you can kind of see it.

I used a Nikon D800 camera with a 14-24mm 2.8 lens.  Earlier in the day I tried to focus the lens for infinity, put tape on the lens and then turned the lens and camera onto manual focus.

The camera was mounted on a tripod and the lens was pointed in the direction I wanted.  I sent the mode to manual on the camera, put the aperture on f/2.8, the shutter speed on 30 seconds and the ISO on 6400.  Then I took some photos.  You do have to do stuff with the images on the computer, but you can do what you need to with Lightroom.

I did play around with the ISO and took some at 3200, some at 4000, but most of them were at 6400.

It is quite easy to do once the camera is set up, you just keep clicking.

Good luck.

On a side note, if you have enjoyed this post or learned something new, please remember this is how I make my living, so it would be wonderful if you would consider making a small donation.


The other day I went to an event and it was about creative portraiture, or conceptual photography.  I tend to call conceptual photography Fine Art Photography.  The event was to teach people how to do conceptual photography.  I didn’t stay for it, I realised after a while that it really wasn’t for me and is something I have been doing for many many years.
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