Improving Your Image Through Visual Communications

Journalist - Photographer - Writer

Monday 22 December 2008

Ben Boyd National Park

By Darren Stones

Our recent trip to the Ben Boyd National Park in New South Wales, Australia has been fruitful. Here's a small sample of images taken in the park.

All Ben Boyd National Park images can be viewed in my stock photography gallery at Flickr here.

Click images to view larger size.

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Entrance to Ben Boyd National Park

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The Pinnacles Lookout

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Walking track to Pinnacles Lookout

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The Pinnacles

Professional Freelance Journalism - the journey continues

By Darren Stones

As 2008 draws to a close, I'm taking a brief interval from my studies in Professional Freelance Journalism with Cengage Education. At this time of year, most people need a break to refresh - I'm no different as I'm a bit buggered.

The tutelage I've received from well-known Australian journalist of 46 years, Simon Townsend, has been gratifying. Simon's continued support and encouragement is inspiring me to gain confidence in my ability as a journalist, writer, researcher and photographer.

The Professional Freelance Journalism course requires me to successfully complete 16 assignments before I gain my diploma. To date, 10 assignments have been submitted, in which all have been graded the highest grade possible - an A. At one point I thought I'd received a C grade for an assignment, but that was an administration error that was soon rectified.

There's been times during the course where I've had to seriously contemplate my approach to assignments. All assignments have required weeks of reading tutorials, research via various methods, in-depth story development, writing of drafts, planning and executing photojournalistic-style photographs both near and far from home, conducting online, email and face-to-face interviews, and importantly contacting my tutor Simon for advice, guidance and support.

I feel I'm becoming more confident in my ability at this caper and believe that good things are ahead. It isn't an easy course - neither is getting a gig. It's making me call on all my energy, and at times I just need a break so I can step back, evaluate and pursue the set tasks with a refreshed mind. That's when I go and take photographs for stock and editorial purposes, and potential gallery exhibitions.

Having been a painter and decorator for the first 23 years of my working life, I'm finding the transition to my chosen vocation to be extremely challenging. I'm not rushing the process as I'm in it for the long haul - that decision was made a long time ago.

I've had minor criticism directed towards me at various times in the last few years, for no good reason, however I've successfully shaken those negative influences from my life and continued to press forward positively by surrounding myself with people I respect and trust. Gladly, my contact list has grown and I've met many new friends.

Anyway, as 2008 draws to a close, I feel content with my achievements during the year. The people who have assisted me in recent years are truly cherished. If it wasn't for them, I would have probably gone back to painting houses. Fortunately for me, I've connected with good honest people. The various tutors and confidants I have are giving me strength. And of course my family are No. 1 in my eyes.

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Gordon Stones at the Ararat Cemetery

Above, is my own personal favourite image for 2008. This is my father pointing to the spot where his father's headstone should have been laid in 1987. Dad discovered on 11-11-2008 that no headstone was ever arranged and laid at the grave site. That situation has now been rectified by him. Dad bawled his eyes out just after I took this photograph.

Thanks to those who have taken time out to look at and comment on my work in 2008. Much appreciated.

Season's Greetings.

Sunday 21 December 2008

Sapphire Coast travels result in new imagery and interviews

By Darren Stones

During December 2008, we travelled to the Sapphire Coast region in New South Wales to shoot a new series of images for stock, gallery and editorial purposes.

One of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the Sapphire Coast's biggest community market at Candelo. I conducted interviews with locals and visitors in the Candelo Hotel, and as a result I've made new contacts for future story development.

Bobby O'Brien, Nobby McMahon & Kevin Slater IMG_2253_Bobby_O'Brien_Nobby_McMahon_Kevin_Slater
Bobby McMahon, Nobby O'Brien & Kevin Slater - Candelo Hotel

We visited Quarantine Bay near Eden to witness Canberra-based fishermen return with their catch of the day.

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Catch of the day - Quarantine Bay, Eden

We visited the north and south sections of Ben Boyd National Park for photographic shoots. The work contains new imagery of forested areas, wildlife, plants, lookouts, walking tracks, roads, information boards, buildings, rivers, etc.

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Pinnacles Lookout - Ben Boyd National Park

I'm currently researching aspects of the Ben Boyd National Park with a view to returning in 2009 to conduct interviews with staff from the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service.

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Boyds Tower - Ben Boyd National Park

Trust you've enjoyed viewing this sample of photographs. More are being added to the Darren Stones Stock Photography library at Flickr for viewing.

I have a gallery at RedBubble and images there can be purchased as greeting cards, calendars, laminated prints, matted mounted prints and framed prints.

Inquiries are most welcome by email and phone.

Contact details here.

Saturday 20 December 2008

Music that makes one contemplate

By Darren Stones

Whilst listening to the easy-listening track So far away by Tania Rose, it projected me into the future. It may sound morbid, but Tania’s song made me contemplate losing those who are closest to me.

I have a strong and reliant bond with my parents, brother and partner. To lose these people in my life would test my resilience. I’ve witnessed my parents’ emotion as they both lost their mother and father to god. They say time heals, but after many years have passed, my parents still shed a tear.

Tania’s voice is both soft and melodic, and frankly, I enjoy it. I’ve played So far away continuously as I’ve worked in my home office because it makes me think of the good times I want to share with my family in the future.

To me, So far away is a song that I look to as a guiding light. I’ll share this song with my family during the festive season and tell them what it means to me. It’s best I do that now, because eventually we’ll all be so far away from each other.

So far away is the "hidden track" on Tania's Journeys CD. It can be purchased online by visiting her website.

So far away by Tania Rose

Friday 5 December 2008

Editorial Stock Photography

By Darren Stones

Images contained in the Darren Stones Stock Photography library at Flickr are available for editorial use by licence at competitive rates.

Art directors and interested parties from media outlets are welcome to inquire by email or phone to discuss short, medium and long term editorial requirements.

Being involved in the media, I'm familiar with the needs of editorial staff and art directors.

My contact details here.

The foundation of my photographic work is Australian travel, people, places, festivals, events and documentary.

My images have appeared in national magazines, been licensed for exhibition purposes, licensed for magnetised calendars, licensed for canvas printing, sold as cards, calendars, laminated prints, mounted prints, matted prints and framed prints.

Upon your request, the transaction is simple and quick. My license agreements are tailored to suit your requiremments.

Darren Stones Stock Photography library


Monday 1 December 2008

Digital camera sensor cleaning and those rascally rabbits

By Darren Stones

Camera maintenance is an important habit to get into, but of course no one has to be too meticulous about it. Hell, housework is certainly not my strong point.

This morning I gave my baby (Canon 20D) a spruce up. I thought it was perfect timing with the sun shining and a stunning blue sky – just as you’d expect in Melbourne. Of course at time of writing the clouds have rolled in to provide a diffusing effect to the scenery.

The camera sensor was due for a little dust removal. So, off I toddled with the 50mm prime lens attached and I set the camera to manual mode and proceeded to take exposures at F/22. F/22 is perfect for revealing those dust bunnies. You know the one’s, those darn spots that we remove in photoshop and are a right pain in the ass. What fun – not.

Anyway, I soon found a big dust bunny had come to the party. The bloody thing was bigger than Bugs Bunny. Huh, that big bugger was in fact on the rear lens element, so after a few exposures rocket science (a brain wave) soon dictated that he/she had to be exterminated with a quick wipe with a soft lens cloth. Done.

Onwards we go to a little fiddling in photoshop and a play with the auto levels option. That was interesting to say the least and clearly revealed those dastardly bunnies at their worst. After a few goes at exterminating them I have a relatively clean baby all ready to take for a spin.

Click images below for a larger view.

Sensor before cleaning

Sensor after cleaning

Sensor before cleaning with auto levels adjustment in Photoshop

Sensor after cleaning with auto levels adjustment in Photoshop

I use the Copper Hill kit products as supplied by Quality Cameras in Perth. I have no affiliation with them, but can recommend their prompt and courteous service and cleaning kit products.

Of course I couldn’t get rid of all the bunnies, so I suspect the mummy and daddy bunny will make more little bunnies for me to exterminate in the future. Those rascally rabbits.

Some great info here to assist.

And this is the way I do it.

Advice articles can be found on my site here