Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Danie Nel Photography logs off for the year 2008!



This is a video Jeremy put together, initially as a prezzy for me, but we ended up adding some pics just to round the video off. It's 8min long, so normally I'm not that bandwidth insensitive, but once a year should be fine. It's kinda lo-res to keep you speedy. The intro is in Afrikaans, but basically Jeremy just say welcome, thanx me for the oppurtunity to work there....,and that's it!

2008 has been a fantastic ride, the best year business-wise, in the last 8/9 years of operation. At times I was booked up to 5 weeks and more in advance. When Jeremy started, things started becoming less manic in some ways, a little more crazy in others, as you'll notice in the video.

To all my clients, thank you so much for the loyal support. My very first client ever, when I was still a photography student, still occupied my studio a couple of days this year! To all the others, my suppliers, colleagues and supporters, thank you so much for a great year. I hope the holidays rejuvenate you and you are ready for another great creative year, next year.

To all the bloggers I followed, the bloggers that visited here and the inspiring people I have met over the net - see you next year!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

My Week Dec 2008 Photolog

I've had the good fortune of being asked by my client, MyWeek Magazine, to submit a photolog of a "day-in-the-life-of" As you can imagine it was a bit strange having a camera on me all day, with my wife, Jeremy and myself taking pics all day long of my mundane doings. Anyways, below is the photolog as it appears, otherwise, if you're in the Northern 'burbs of Cape Town, you'll find a free copy at select restaurants and most malls. Click on the pic to see the big version.



Friday, November 21, 2008

CEO at Webnow

We did a quick shoot at Webnow ( - the guys I use for my nifty newsletters, which you should be subscribing to, by the way - yesterday. Basically the brief was to shoot Jean-Pierre, the CEO, to get some imagery for general PR and media purposes. It's a funky, trendy company, so the images needed to reflect that.

Now this just made me very aware again of the need of companies to get a decent profile of media friendly images together for their respective MD's, CEO's, Managers and all who will have some media exposure. I cringe every time I see a photo in a business magazine grabbed while at a party by a mate (because I wasn't looking at the camera, and it looks friendly),  or while making a speech of some sort (grabbed by the event photographer from below, showing podium, powerpoint presentation, and oh, a pic of some indiscernable figure, basked in all colours of light), or the latest fad: the company bought a nice new camera for these purposes and my secretary will quickly take a pic for us. Because of the inherent damage such a pic will do to your press release, I must implore you not to go that route. Why not actually manage or even control the image you put forth? Magazines will be forced to search for ANY image of you if you don't supply decent imagery with your press release.

You need to remember, magazines don't just need mug shots. They need some creative options: i.e. image with copy-space, headline space, mast-head space (if you get cover you  know) etc etc. Designers like cropable pictures as an option.

Now, this call goes out to all companies: spend the money (and really, this isn't megabucks we're talking here) and get a decent profile of your people. Magazines are so much more likely to accept your submissions from you or your PR company if you have good imagery to go along with it, in a media-friendly format: (300 dpi, correct size, Adobe RGB colour space etc). Also, your newsletters, blog and Plaxo Avatar will just look so much more slick with a nice portrait.

Yes, photography will bring value to your brand. Just look at what all the big names are doing. Do not be caught unawares.

Now back to BTS talk:

We had 2 hours to shoot and get a couple of options. So strobists: it had to be my 2 Speedlites, brolly and bare, Elinchrom Skyport and trusty 5D to do the job. Oh, and Jeremy, also now affectionately known as Mary (or Mark) Poppins, because of his constant frolicking around with umbrellas. (Thanx for that Kanya...)


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Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Annie Leibovitz book

Celebrity (READ: I'm more famous than the people I photograph) photographer, Annie Leibovitz, has brought out a new book, discussing her behind-the-scenes workings and dealings, explaining a lot of stuff she felt, went through and got around. I haven't read it, but will hopefully be reading it soon.


If you're interested:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lighting Light

The other day we got a call to come and shoot some lamps at a company supplying lamps and interior decor items to some big retail chains. First catch: location, second catch: even background, third catch (my own gripe): lamps have to be lit, but in this case you can't see the power cord...


_MG_2967 Setting up. We had limited space, so 2 heads had to do the job. Visatecs with shoot-through and reflective brolly box.

_MG_2884 Jeremy inserting the magic in the lamp. Strobists, it shouldn't be too difficult for you to figure out.

_MG_2922 Jeremy placing the lamp, me in my default position for the day.

_MG_2929 Final raw shot.

Half-day: 60 odd products. Not bad going.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Good Taste Shoot

I recently shot a article for Good Taste magazine, featuring Giorgio Nava of 95 Keerom fame. The plot of the whole affair is that a chef rocks up at the designated winemaker/punter's house, and needs to put together a dish or 2 with whatever he finds in the kitchen. It was good fun, but called for some shooting and thinking off the cuff, as it all needs to be shot as it happens.


Go and view the images and article here:

Also see the neat little video - although it's only about cooking, you can see my Speedlite and my figure in the back briefly!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A poem relating to photography

Through Gods eyes

A photograph could be just that

An image of the all incumbent nature of sense and emotion

Pasted together by colour and light

A woman’s smile

A Veteran’s wrinkles

A child playing

A funeral

A tree

Behind the lens lies a potent instrument a master’s eye much more vigilant

It manipulates the palate and its artificial friend

To draw the truth by it’s reluctant thread to the other end

The Sadness within happiness

The long journey towards maturity

The young soul’s vulnerability

The farewell to flesh

The vessel of time

A photograph could be just that

Pasted in a book to fade and grow older

Forgotten forever

Or something more mysterious and bolder


An exhibition in the gallery of the Beholder

By: Nadine Potgieter

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

From a different era

I happened to come upon this little optical slave whilst shopping for some manual flashes. I was offered this Nissin Synchro-Eye Slave Unit for a mere R100 as a novelty throw-in with the SB-16 I was buying, which by the way, I overpaid by about R500 (it cost me R600...) .

Compare this little thing with the Falcon Eyes (the ones I use) or even an upscale Hama for packaging and presentation. Its just not quite the same anymore!


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Oh, it works by the way. I think the resin body is ingenious as it lets light in from everywhere. The suction cup sucks and generally it's a neat little product that stood the test of time. It's small, real small, about half the size of a normal slave.

I own a Nissin hammerhead flash, which seems new enough, but haven't been able to find any info on this little gizmo anywhere. Anybody?

Support this cause

A message from a muso friend of mine - please support his effort.


It's finally here! I wrote a song of hope and peace with 11-time Emmy Award Winner Andy J Gundell and Grammy Award Winner Julie Gold.

We're shooting for a World Record of 1000 000 'listens'.

Be a part of it - Let's wrap this song around the world together.



Surf around the Khululeka [freedom] site.

Listen and watch.

If you love it, click 'SHARE' and forward to ALL of your friends.

If you'd like to BUY the song, you are welcome to. ALL proceeds will go to the Desmond Tutu HIV foundation.

Go for it!

Lots of love


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

3 Ships Whisky


In the current issue of Wine Mag you'll find an article of Andy Watts of 3 Ships Whisky, pictured here in the barrel cellar. He is the distiller, master distiller, cellar master or whatever title one holds as creator of fine whisky, at the James Sedgewick Distillery in Wellington, South Africa. And lately they've been taking some awards home, specifically with the Bourbon Finish Cask which essentially is the whisky receiving its final maturation in old bourbon vats imported from the States (yup, mister JD himself's). In the States, by law, you're not allowed to mature whisky in second-use barrels. So they either sell'em or use em' for firewood. Here we can, and it ads a great smooth vanilla tone to the 5 year to create this beauty.

Normally one is not even allowed to answer a cell-phone in a cellar like this for fear of explosions, since whiskey vapour permeates the whole place, and they're busy filling vats with some alcohol of a high proof (% of alcohol/volume x2). Some years ago a brandy cellar went up in flames in nearby Worcester, if I'm not mistaken. If they only knew the wattage a pair of Speedlights put out and what would've happened had I dropped one and there was a spark! Well, I wouldn't be typing this to be sure. And this is no small cellar, it holds thousands and thousands of vats. Not just that, but the country would be in very short supply of whiskey and with the current upward trend in whiskey sales, that would be detrimental!


Strobists: Anyways, a dark cellar that size with no electrical powerpoints is a challenge for photographers, but luckily I had my Speedlights handy. ET-2 with 420 EX and 580 EXII. The 580EX II was keylight with a Gary Fong plonked on the front as a somewhat diffuser. Bare 420 EX. Ambient light was neglible. For the bottles I simply blew the 420 side on through a big diffuser and 580 somewhere in the corner of ceiling the tasting facility.

Cocktail fact: Whiskey vs Whisky. It is indeed an urban legend that "Whisky" is the domain of Scotland. Actually, "Scotch" is only allowed to be used by Scottisch distillers in SCOTLAND. However, "whisky" is distilled here in South Africa as well as the rest of the world, but "whiskey" is the mark of an Irish or American dram, for the pure and simple reason of  different spelling.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My hobby

Maybe not all of you might know this, but for fun I make music. Below is a playlist of songs as you'd find them on . Check out for my seriously DIY homepage for my music. I like music, it gives me joy, I can practice my faith using it, and I enjoy seeing people enjoy it.


Go have a listen at:

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Website

The new Danie Nel Photography website is up-and-running. Streamlined galleries and navigation, and a choice of html or flash viewing. Go and have a look right now!


Let me know what you thinks.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Sunu Gonera/Pride

Sometimes it's true. You just don't quite have a clue. I had such an experience recently.

Last year I photographed a young guy, Sunu Gonera, for O Magazine (Oprah SA) at Kennedy's Cigar Lounge in Cape Town. As is often the case, you're actually not briefed on who the guy is, or who he is becoming. I found out as I was shooting him, that he was indeed a film director. Now, in a city that spawns hundred and thousands of ads, music vids and features annually, that in itself is not a big deal. He did mention that he had just gotten a great contract in Hollywood and that he would be leaving for the US soon to go and direct a movie.

As I've often heard that type of story, I assumed it's a low-budget, possibly TV-movie, or at best, a seriously obscure art movie. Snotty and cynical, I know, and I repent! Anyways, if the guy is such a big deal, why get me to shoot him? (Ok, we all have a  bit of insecurity to deal with!) Also, he was wAAAAAAAAY humble, and cool. My experience of people on their way to going places, as opposed to those who have actually made it, is that they tend to be a bit arrogant. Not him. Really, if you ever get to sit down with this guy over a beer or a coffee, I'm sure time will fly. He is a Zim-born, South African resident. By the way, he has the most gorgeous little daugther and cool wife, they were at the shoot as well. Now that alone score points with me, 'cause I've got kids and have had my wife at a couple of shoots. I've used my daughter in 2 or 3, but that's a different story. Point is, I didn't think much of the big Hollywood movie idea. (Jeez, I'm really starting to feel bad.)

Anyways, the shoot came and went and I never even saw it in publication. Then, a couple of months back I get a syndication notice that the image of one Sunu Gonera has been sold somewhere else and some royalties was coming my way (yay!). In such instances you suddenly start remembering every single detail of said shoot, which at first glance I thought was a mistake, as I couldn't initially remember it. Then, about the same time, I see a trailer for the movie Pride and the name Sunu Gonera pops up. Now, I'm not John from a Beautiful Mind, but I can pick up the most basic of patterns. (Pattern by the way is a secondary principle or building block of visual perception according to the laws of Gestalt, a psychologist. Pattern is referred to as rhythm, and since 79% of our sensory perception happens visually, this is a big deal for any image maker...but more on that some other time...)

Getting back to the aha! moment. I realized this was the guy I photographed. Just to make sure, I checked the net and indeed, it was him. I then also remembered promising him to send him a pic of his daughter, and then somehow losing his email address. Well, finding that now amidst all the PR and Hollywood hooha is near impossible. Talk about going to the orthopedist to retro-fit your leg so you can give yourself a huge kick in the backside! 

By the way, Pride (, features the likes of Bernie Mac and Terrence Howard in the lead. Now, I really wouldn't mind to shoot either of those gents. And had I kept his email address, WHO KNOWS?

Herewith - shoot notes:

The book infront of him in the poker room,... I don't remember if that was the real script. Now, what I hugely respect in anybody I photograph is the ability to give me a hearty guffaw-laugh on command, and as this was for Oprah Mag, I had to have a couple of those. I wouldn't have minded just shooting in the serious poker-faces in the poker cubicle for hours on end in low light with ISO 1600, but hay, I want to get paid. The Danny  Devito poster in the back was just serendipitous, and I was really glad I could shoot him in front of it. The great thing about actors is that you can direct their expressions and speak in terms of "sense" and "feel" and "moments". Models are a tad plastic-y when it comes to showing real-life emotion and expressions. Another such an actor is Dean McCoubrey (Standard Bank internet web-cam ad guy), also a great client of mine. He'll actually step into the moment. When he's art-directing shoots, it's great, cuz not only is the model properly let into the idea, but also myself, the photographer, but again, I DIGRESS!!! Herewith - pics:


1 Visatec 300W head in the lounge, with 60x60 soft box. Poker room - 1 times 60W Tungsten bulb, at about 1600 ISO.

Sunu Gonera 0046i Sunu Goneralr

Sunu Gonera 0029lr Sunu Gonera 0038lr

Friday, October 03, 2008

I enjoyed this shot...

I was recently shooting a story on some current sushi-hotshots -and spots, and had the privilege to shoot Edwin Santa Ana at Chai Yo in Durbanville. I loved watching the chefs work and see their skills with knives.

Alas, I still don't like sushi, sorry. It's too jelly-ish, weird,....and raw. Interesting topic to cover though.

Find below the pic of Edwin.

Strobists: Speedlights only...


Ewin Santa Ana20080919_IMG_025

(C) 2008 Danie Nel

Protected by laws, voodoo and all such stuff.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hemel-en-Aarde-Vallei /Heaven and Earth Valley

This piece of valley in the Overberg region, the Walker Bay area, behind Hermanus, nestled in the mountains, are becoming quite the wine region these days. With such notables as Bouchard Finlayson, Creation Wines, Sumaridge, Hamilton Russel Vineyards, La Vierge, Newton Johnson and more recently Artaraxia, this area is a must-visit for any wine lover.

Wine Magazine commissioned me to go and shoot a cellar door comparison at Bouchard Finlayson and Hamilton Russel, then just carry on and shoot a travel supplement of the rest of the valley. But we have between 0900 and 1630 when the last winery closes. Total number of wineries to shoot? 7.

We started the day arriving at Hamilten Russel just shy of 0900, then carrying on to Bouchard Finlayson (where we grabbed a quick moment to do a little animation while waiting in the cellar - watch this space in the next couple of weeks) and then hitting the dirt road hard to get all the shots. At La Vierge we got some food and restaurant shots, in Hermanus some seaside shots, Sumaridge showed us some funky fishing signs etc etc. These pics however more show our journey than the result thereof.

Here are some of our memories of the day. Note the pics of the pigeon is where we ended in Walker Bay, Hermanus, sitting by the side of the ocean, eating some take-aways, catching our breath, before taking the 2 hour trek home. Jeremy felt these birds weren't fat enough and started feeding them pieces of the Colonel's finest. Naturally they started pooping everywhere around us and we felt we needed to leave.

Hitting the Road   Sumaridge Sumaridge Walker bay

La Vierge Salmon and Avo Wrap Trying to find Artaraxia Jeremy at Hamilton Russel Danie at Hamilton Russel The Birds by Alfred Jeremy Hitchcock

Early Morning Car Shoot

Last month Jeremy and I had to quickly go and shoot a car at a studio out in Kontermanskloof-area, Cape Town.

The shoot presented a couple of challenges:

  • We had to start shooting at 05:30 am and finish by 08:00
  • We couldn't really do much about the light set-up as we were shooting in between film shoots, using their lighting.
  • The film crew was utilizing a reflective scrum, lighting reflectively from the scrum - not great for reflections on cars. The studio was waiting to install a proper shoot-through/translucent scrum, that is also operatable with a pully system from the floor. This one needed rig-setting from the roof, which meant I couldn't drop the scrum.
  • 5000W Bambino's are powerful light-sources, but in a studio of this size, small. Exposure ended up at 1sec f22, 3200K.
  • It was a test shoot, so I wasn't paid!
  • BUT

The studio is amazing for:

  • SIIIIIZE! What you see in the video is less than half of the total space.
  • Huge curve
  • 3-phase industrial juice
  • A revolve fitted in the studio floor on which to rotate the car without having to move light set-ups, or even touch the car. Built for film to shoot rotating shots of the cars.
  • Floor to ceiling curtaing.
  • A black- and black-out studio option.
  • Friendly helpful staff.


See video...

Monday, September 22, 2008

5D Mk II

Yes - I've checked it out and it's going to be amazing. I WANT ONE!!!!!!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Elopers - Michael & Jasmin

A month or 2 ago (sorry, I'll be posting some belated, but interesting projects as well, from time to time), Michael & Jasmin got married at the Slangkop Lighthouse, Kommetjie, Cape Town, South Africa. (They're in good company as Richard Gere (or company at least), is currently filming his latest offering there among other places.) Well, at, is not an accurate description, but rather, in, and more specifically; at the top. 33 meters up a circular stairway, next to a lamp that will take me from caucasian to roughly Pantone Firetruck Red in a glance.

All this is still fun, you see, as I don't mind heights, and I have done jobs up there before, and I like different locations. And I'm not indifferent to the odd European elopers who wish to get married in our fair town. Weddings are a creative break for me, and I find focusing on these small, intimate weddings keep my interest in creative, thinking-on-your-feet shooting, without the hassles of big wedding drama etc. I still do the odd local wedding, but prefer these, as the total production and turn-around for such a wedding is 3 days, versus months of a local wedding.

Michael and Jasmin, if memory serve correctly are residing in London, but are German by passport. Most of these couples are German, Austrian or Swiss, as my agent focuses on these. I often sign as witness as well.

Anyways, below are some happy snaps from the day including a pic of Jonty Acton, videographer ( , who just happens to be very indifferent to heights, i.e. he has some vertigo issues. We made sure he was safely secured to his spot in the top mezzenine, before the rest of us commenced with our different tasks. Rob (the marriage officer) to marry them, Christiane ( being the agent and hanging onto the ladder, Michael and Jasmine to say "i do" and myself to take ravishing pics.

M&J_013 M&J_015 M&J_108

The black and white image of the tower was taken as an after-thought, and has since been printed on canvas and hung from my brother's entertainment room wall. The effects on the image include a really funky infra-red type action and some other thingies.

M&J_210 M&J_222ii

As you can see though, good fun accompanies good work. Whenever you are in the area, go and have a peak at the beautiful view of Kommetjie and the South Peninsula, ask some questions and try to go up the stairs, all the way to the top, in one breath!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

At the Library

Well, the last couple of posts has featured Jeremy, and this one will as well, as after 8 years of working on my own, he is definitely bringing some new experiences to DNP.

Last week we were commissioned to shoot "The Library", owned by Minki van der Westhuizen and hubby Constant Visser, in Stellebosch for Wine Magazine.  The general brief was lifestyle, Minki, food etc etc as you would expect on a restaurant featured owned by celebrities. This however is not the point of the post.

The Library's decor consists among other things of wallpaper made up of paper-back and other more refined book-covers. To top it up there are shelves put up along the whole restaurant filled with books (which apparently numbers approximately 2500). While waiting around for the journalist (Leigh Robertson) to arrive, Jeremy started looking around. Among the 2nd hand books that was used to create the Library effect he found an old sketch-pad with 2 pastel sketches in it. The rest of the pad was..... empty empty empty (echo). To a creative mind that is just too scary or exciting and he immediately decided that it would be ok to start drawing in it. However, halfway through his Bic-pen masterpiece we had to start working, so the drawing of a funny looking "Woody Allen"-ish type figure without arms chased by/chasing (?) jelly-fish, had to be stopped half-way. However, is this bad? No, not in the mind of Jeremy. This is fate en the drawing stopped right there.

Upon arriving Constant noticed the drawing lying there, and shortly after most of the staff and attendees of the shoot as well. All were well impressed with the art. Thus the idea was born: guests need to use this sketch pad while they wait. Jeremy promptly signed it, with a cool little message I can't recall, and we put down the particulars of the day: Shoot for wine blah blah blah. So whenever you're in the vicinity of The Library in Stellenbosch (in the square behind the Spur), and feel peckish, swing past there, order some good food and grab the old A4 Croxley sketch pad. First turn to Jeremy's drawing for inspiration and get cracking!

The pics turned out great as well, on a photography note, with me having to create a summery feel in a dimly lit restaurant, but we managed well, (STROBISTS: 1 800 W Head and another 300W head to the back, sunlight diffused by awning to front). Anyways, here it one of Minki is, and of Jeremy holding his sketch.

NOTE: These images are exclusively licensed to Wine Mag, so see the October issue for the article and the rest of the pics. Bad Karma and much litigation awaits the one who dares use these images!

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Photoshop Books Worth Reading

For the PS CS3 fans out there, this is a great book. My very intuitive wife bought me this book as a present, a month or so before upgrading to CS3. How she knew I was planning to upgrade, I'm not entirely sure, but anyway, I have it, and it's a great resource.


If you don't have a heck of a lot of time to study, but need a quick reference, as to how to achieve certain effects in CS3, CS3 colour corrections and workflow management, this is the one.


Another great, slightly more technical book on the topic of colour correction is:

With this one, you need to read the book cover to cover, and only then start referencing. It takes you through the whole colour management process, output settings and calibration of various imaging devices to get consistent results. In my opinion, the best book on the topic I've encountered.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Introduction to Jeremy Purèn

As promised, I will introduce the new face at Danie Nel Photography. Some of you might've met him already, while on a shoot, or a delivery, or tearing down the highway on the studio's yellow Vuka.

_MG_9244 lo-res He is pictured here while reflecting on a shoot recently. Jeremy's job description is digital asset manager/assistant photographer, but he does a heck of a lot more. The workflow at the studio has been streamlined, a day at the studio is less lonely, and generally we just have a load of fun. Oh, and my beverage intake has quadrupled.

Jeremy is a BA Arts graduate, with a penceant for stop-motion/stills-animation film-making, installations and generally BIG ideas. He has recently been featured on an episode of Headwrap  on SABC1 for a collaboration with a traditional Venda potter in Limpopo.

These days the sounds that permeat the studio are that of Fleetwood Mac, Electric Light Orchestra mixed with my own eclectic collecion of Van der Want/Letcher, Dave Matthews Band and also, us jamming on the guitar in the studio. Sometimes he'll grab the guit and knock out some open-tuning vibes while I hit the spoons, or I'll grab the guit and he'll tackle some form of percussion and loudly exclaim now and again in Afrikaans: "Mal!".

So it's all good fun these days. And lotsa hard work.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I've not been very active on the blog lately, mainly because we've been fairly busy, I've contracted pleuritis (haven't missed a day of work) and had some extensive chiropractic treatment for a back I managed to mess up a bit while picking up a toolbox. Also, Jeremy and I have been getting the studio up to scratch, I've been training him in the ways of the DNP method, and and and.

I've promised to put up some piccies of the two of us at work, and Jeremy's been working on a short video compilation of our goings on, which includes shooting up the winelands, shooting the Mercedes S320 CDI at Propaganda Studios, stuffing our faces and drinking totally unbuyably expensive brandy at an Alchemy of Gold food and brandy pairing at Geisha Restaurant, etc etc. But I haven't gotten around to it. And I won't quite today, but soon!

So what am I up to now? Meeting clients at a coffeeshop, doing some shopping for the studio and then back to the studio for some retouching and then to home (half-day - doctor's orders).

Since appointing Jeremy as my digital asset manager/assistant photographer life at DNP Studio has been much more efficient, streamlined, filled with fun and honestly, better work. Having someone to carry the load of the usual business carry-ons (deliveries, retouching etc), enables me to really focus on my work, ideas and giving you even better final product.

Anyways, watch this space as we'll be posting behind-the-scenes images of our shoots shortly. Also, expect a formal introduction to the work and mind of Jeremy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I've recently stumbled across the everyday project by Noah Kalina. Noah is a commercial photographer in Brooklyn, NY, USA. The project is a collection of 2356 self-portraits taken on successive days. With other words, 6 YEARS! He then compiled it into a video and has since been nominated for a YOUTUBE award, and received 9 and a half million views to date! I found the video oddly fascinating, intriguing and somehow disturbing. I think it is one of the best photo projects ever. The photography is secondary - turn the camera around and snap - but the idea and the sheer dedication to the project is inspiring. Check this out. Video below.

Shortly after I was asked to shoot some self-portraits for a contributors page for Food&Home Entertaining Magazine (story on Albert Roux at Armajaro/Vondeling Estates - check August 08 issue).

Well, I've always had pics of myself on shoots where I did light-tests, like my blog header, but I seldom shoot myself. (Strobists and technophiles - I use a generic Cactus remote to my 5D. You can use the Canon one, but the difference is about R2k, although the Cactus does fail now and again! Check my bag for details).

I had about 10 minutes so I set up a single flash from almost 80 deg overhead (a Electra 750W) with a dog-bowl (bare bulb reflector), hence the hard shadows. I don't like to come across as someone who comes across as too serious about myself, so I just used a couple of my everyday (no pun intended) expressions. Hence I came up with the piccies below. I used channel mixer with red channel at 100% and some selective masking and blurring to create the rail-camera movement effect on one.

Anyways, drop your comments. Would like to hear what you think of shooting yourself.

Ps - yes, I did feel like an idiot making faces at my camera all alone in my studio.

PPS- as much as I appreciate you emailing me your comments, rather post them on the 0 comments below, or open the post in a new window and drop them in the comment box, because I'd like others to see your valuable input. 

IMG_8749ii IMG_8751i IMG_8756i IMG_8753

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Kick-Butt Photo Studio Set-Up

I'm in the midst of rearranging my workflow, studio, set-up, work-life, philosophies on work-flow and systems, equipment, financial systems etc etc.

I put off to appoint a studio assistant for 8 years, well, now I'll have one. My digital workflow, and especially archiving is undergoing a facelift. My studio is always being worked on, but last month it received its long awaited black walls and ceilings. My equipment is always being updated with little gadgets being added almost weekly. This month alone - new laptop (I highly recommend the guy I bought it from, follow link), boom stand, ThinkTankPhoto bag, servicing of equipment etc. Also, I'm upgrading my insurance, which will double my premiums per month, but I can't risk being without equipment. That however is only for my most essentials. 1.5% per month of replacement value on equipment can amount to 1000's per month.

What is my aim? More professional, more excellent, more reliable, and a little more space to breathe amidst all the clutter. I've been fortunate to be blessed with loads of work, but if not well handled, this can be the downfall of quality, consistency and reliability. Before that happens, I decided that I need to look at long-term adjustments.

Also, I need to look after myself. I'm still the company's biggest and most important asset, and a happy me will mean a more productive, excellent me, and by default, service to you. Physically speaking, I started Judo-classes with a friend (he's Jujitsu trained, I did Chinese Kung-Fu for a long time) to get me fit, I'm making more time with family and ministry (God is and always will be my #1 priority and source of strength) and I'm going to the chiropractor next month. After 9 years (1 year for another photographer and 8 years for myself) of lugging around equipment in crates and bags that are not designed for skeletal stability, I'm in discomfort most of the time.

So what is all this to you? Well, look out for even better service, better quality and a better experience. I've drawn a lot of inspiration from the following photographer in the US and France and his set-up and work ethic. Check out Chase Jarvis.

Monday, June 09, 2008


I'm the first one to admit that you cannot live life by others' opinions of you, but unfortunately in business, your clients' opinion of your service will determine its success.

Have a look at what some of my clients have had to say on my LinkedIn profile.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Position filled!

I appointed an assistant! Congratulations to Jeremy Puren who will be working with me from 1 July 2008. Jeremy is a BA Arts major with a solo exhibition under his belt already. More on the new addition once he is here. Other applicants: feel free to leave your details on the comments (click on 0/1/3/comments) page for others to grab your details.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wine on a Yacht

It's a yacht, NOT a boat. Before you get on any yacht, take off your shoes and don't refer to it as a BOAT. You'll be walking the plank sooner than walking the deck. Not my rules, but all the yachty types'!

Earlier this year I was commissioned to shoot Wedderwill Wine Estate's Sauvignon Blanc 07 (one of the highlights of my wine drinking year - try and get your hands on some!) on this yacht, moored in the V&A marina. For the sake of privacy of the owner, I'll not divulge the yacht's name. What I'll say of that shoot is that SPF30 cream is essential when shooting in high summer on a yacht. My arms and legs normally have a full stop reflection value in a shot, afterwards I had a 3000K warming effect on all shots. See insert image.

Well, to keep the idea and spirit of the ads the same, I was recently commissioned to do the follow-up shoot. The Cab shot was to be done inside the yacht with the same model - Wolfgang - who also doubles as the companies Marketing Director! The idea is for the red wine to have a more wintery feel. Well, as luck would have it, it was a balmy 25 deg, but being inside the cabin it didn't matter.

Here however, the logistics were different. I was stuck in a space about 4m2 in size with a bottle, a model and a cabin to try and get in the shot with adequate depth and lighting. My trusty strobist set-up, in this case a 580EX II, 420EX, 2 small Amity's and 2 perspex diffusers were the main pieces of photographic gear. Oh, and my camera (see my camera bag listing in the Shifting Gear section). A tripod was out of the question due to space, so it was all hand-held and flash-lit baby.

In the wide shot above you'll see Pam (Pam Westaway Public Relations) holding up a reflector/diffuser, for the simple reason that it's better if your client gets involved! ;) No, we were strapped for space and couldn't rely on a bottle to hold it up. Perspex tends to be heavy for its size, much like glass. We needed the bottle to be elevated, and for that we had to raid the yacht's mini-bar, to find adequate sized soda tins. These were used to get some elevation on the bottle. What you can't see - if you could this sentence would be obsolete - is the myriad of reflection coming from cabin at my back. I was sitting in one of the bunks, rather awkwardly, to get the framing right. This left me and all the sailing paraphenalia reflecting in the bottle. I used my 5-in-1 reflector on black to cover everything behind me. I also used a white reflector behind the perspex one on the right to bounce my 580EX II with Gary Fong Lighsphere II with a soft dome back through the perspex.

To light Wolfgang I used the 420EX directed at the wooden staircase, to give a warm reflection and avoid hard light. The little Amity's were used to lift the shadows in the bunk on the left and as a shadow filler overall.The rest of the shot was merely composition and getting the model settled. We did a couple of variations and then one or 2 other set-ups as well, but it is very restricting in such a small space. I ended up shooting some details of the yacht's interior for use in the final layouts of the ad. Important to note on the "final" shot, is that it isn't in fact the final final. The image shown here is pre-post production, where softening the reflections, and all the usual cosmetics still needs to be done. Is is the most amazing bottle shot ever? No. But in the circumstances provided, we faired really well. Bottles with gold foiled labels are seldom plain sailing, anyways.

Even though the logistics might've been complicated, doing projects such as these really inspire me and ignite a bit of an engineering desire in me. Don't you just love "building" something from scratch, until it suits your desires? Well, building pictures are no different.


Wolfgang Loeper - Marketing Director, Model, Photo enthusiast
Pam Westaway - PR, allround light gaffer and good company
Me: Photographer and soda-drinker

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Another cover for Wiel

As I was writing the previous post I recalled last year's cool April cover of the Total Rally Toyota RunX owned by JP Damseaux. In this case a very symetrical front-on studio shot of the car was snipped in 2 for these collector's item covers. It's also a nice way to get people to buy 2 copies of the mag!

Do not be fooled: it didn't take 5 minutes to shoot this pic, but we did get some time to shoot some extras for the 4 page feature inside..., and revel in hearing the engine being started up, and revved for our pleasure.

It's then quite a coincidence that I would drive past this car yesterday on the Sir Lowrey's Pass, outside Somerset West (on my way back from shooting apples in Grabouw), where it was undergoing some tests, or just being driven for fun by its owner presumably.

For you petrol heads go check out the car's specs HERE.

Wiel April 2008 Covers


The art director at Wiel came up with a cool idea for the April issue of Wiel this year. As it was their 30th anniversary issue, something needed to be done that showed they've got a track record, it's an exciting mag and they're fast, furious, and seriously funky. As the mag's cover is printed using web-printing (not internet-web) technology, it allows to run 3 different cover designs of the same print-run. It was decided that the 30th issue will have 3 different covers, with different colours, and slightly different photos, yet the same in style. This is seriously cool if you're into collecting magz. Go to Wiel to subscribe to this great publication.

We ended up shooting against a black studio wall, with my smoke machine (yup, I have one) doing the honours to create the sense of screetching tyres and lotsa gels and about 2 studio flashes and 4 little flashes off-camera for hi-lites and colour filling. The tread on the ground is real, and not photoshopped in afters. We had to paint a Opel Zafira OPC's tyre black and roll it back with a stencil on the tyre to create the 30. The colours are not PS'ed in after either, and needed to be shot as is seen in final. To get smoke, light and bio-wizards to work seamlessly takes patience, misfires, patience, quick hands, misfires and some more patience. Then you get it right.

After about 4 hours of work, shooting, laying out, etc etc, we came up with these 3 covers that we're very proud of.

Team: Art Dir - JP (aka Romario Sanchez), Photographer - Danie Nel, Design & PS - Elgee Strauss