Category Archives: Photography Tips

Products I love : Bamboo Photo Prints

It is important to me to be able to offer my clients photo prints that are on the cutting edge of sustainability.  As more people move towards a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, companies are able to deliver green options to consumers.  As I come across outstanding products, I will be sharing these with you, here on my blog.

I was seeking out the most eco way to print my photographs, and this bamboo product sounded fantastic.  I decided to try out this new eco style of photo printing.

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The quality of colour and contrast in this bamboo print really make the image pop

 

What I love:

– The print looks really good.  The texture of the bamboo has been maintained, so the finish has a beautiful, natural texture, reminiscent of art paper.  The edges have a beautiful, unique look, and the keyholes on the back make it easy to hang.

– It is made from bamboo which is incredibly sustainable.  Bamboo grows fast, can sequester more carbon than trees and generally doesn’t require pesticides or herbicides.

– The prints last for decades (or longer) due to the durability of bamboo, and the satin laminate protects against dust and UV rays.

 

Things that could be improved:

 – There is a decent amount of glue used in production which could be substituted with a more environmentally friendly product.

– At the time of printing, I was unable to find a company producing this product in Australia (or even Asia) so this had to be shipped from Texas, which leaves a HUGE environmental footprint (especially considering the heavy weight).  I’m sure similar products will be available closer to home before too long.

 

I would absolutely love to hear from you at info@aliciafox.net if you have information on sustainable printing options.

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The natural texture of the bamboo is maintained, which adds a beautiful feel to the image

 

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The bamboo edging creates a unique look

Stay tuned for more eco product reviews and join me on social media for updates!

Why be an “Eco Photographer”?

Being an Eco Photographer means reducing the environmental impact of every aspect of my business, and working with (i.e. producing photos for) clients that have a positive impact on the environment.  

 

I was trying to formulate an explanation as to why I’ve decided to be an “Eco Photographer” and what this actually means.  Then one day three things happened to me and I became so impassioned that I did what anyone would do… I got on my soapbox (i.e. my personal Facebook wall) and shared what I was feeling with my friends and family.  I received such an overwhelmingly supportive response that I decided to include my little story on this blog.  It gives you an idea of how I live my personal life, which crosses over into my business life.  So here it is:

 

I don’t often put unhappy things on Facebook but I feel the need to share this today  It has 3 parts, and hopefully is inspiring:
1. James came home and told me, with a smile, that he had a song stuck in his head all day, the song of some beautiful girls from the Ashaninka tribe we stayed with by Ene River, in the Amazon. Translated, the chorus goes: “Ene River, please take care of me”.
2. At my exhibition of Amazon photos on the weekend, a man came up to me and said, “Did you hear about the Amazonian tribe that can’t drink their water because the oil company poisoned it?”. I said, “Things like that happen all the time in the Amazon… It’s unbelievable!”
3. I went for a walk at lunch (in Sydney) and a man was blowing leaves around the road with a petrol powered leaf blower. He wasn’t actually moving the leaves anywhere in particular, just wasting petrol.I am as much to blame as anyone else for the poisoned water that is making my friends in the Amazon sick. We all use the oil that is being drilled, which is killing the fish, the animals and sometimes the children. Every day I will do what I can to stop supporting the companies that knowingly let this happen. I have given up plastic almost completely, I walk/ride nearly everywhere I go and I try my best in every other way to reduce plastic and petrol consumption. Sorry to be grim, but I just wanted to share this because most people that I talk to about what happens in the Amazon, have no idea. It’s not widely publicised.The good news is that every one of us can make a positive difference. Every time you spend money you endorse what that company is doing…so spend wisely xx  That’s all. Good night

 

(If you would like to hear the beautiful song about Ene River, it begins at 44 seconds in this movie)
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5 Tips For Being A More Eco Human/Photographer

1. Support local, small businesses.  This gives you a chance to meet the people whose company you are supporting, and find out how the products are made/grown.  Because it’s local you can walk there (or use less petrol to arrive there).
2.  Furnish your house/studio with recycled or upcycled  furniture.  It’s quite amazing what you can pick up at the op shop or market – people throw away some beautiful things.  In a place like Sydney or Melbourne it’s easy to find almost anything you need on the street side.  Each day I walk by anything from wide screen TVs to vintage furniture.
3.  Use chemical-free cleaning products.  With a few simple ingredients (bicarb soda, vinegar and eucalyptus oil) you can cover almost all of your cleaning needs.  Using these natural alternatives is also much better for your health.
4.  Go paper-free.  You can do almost everything online these days.
5.  Use a renewable energy plan or solar power.  

Lake Atitlan – Guatemala

I was looking for a place to stop and do a bit of work and I wanted to make it a kind of retreat, to get my creative juices flowing.  Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is the perfect place for a photography and writing retreat.  I spent time at some beautiful hotels in Panajachel, San Pedro and San Macos – three different villages, all tranquil in their own way.  I was doing work for hotels while also working on my own projects.

Here are a couple of shots from one beautiful sunrise I spent in San Pedro la Laguna.

Lake Atitlan has risen dramatically this year and buildings, shelters and lakeside recreational areas such as the one above have become submerged.  Some of the local Mayans think the rising water is related to The 2012 Shift, some just blame the rain.

These are the traditional fishing boats used by Mayan fishermen each morning on Lake Atitlan.  They spear the fish with reeds then take their catch home or sell them in their villages.  It’s beautiful to watch and a wonderful example of slow, simple living.

 

To see more of my travel photography, check out my website www.AliciaFoxPhotography.com

Humanitarian Photography in Guatemala

This week I have been shooting photos of women weavers in Guatemala,  for an organisation called Vision Guatemala, a grass roots NGO that provides micro finance and support to women around Lake Atitlan and Guatemala.

Above:  Cecilia is weaving a table runner in the style typical to San Pedro.  She spends a few hours weaving each day in between cleaning and making tortillas which she sells to her neighbours at lunch and dinner time.  In Guatemala tortillas sell at 3 for Q1, which is about 13 cents.  When she finishes weaving after 3-5 days, the table runner will sell for about $4.50.

Camera Settings: 1/50sec, f/4, ISO 400, 28mm lens

Above: The weaving loom, used by Guatemalan women.

Camera Settings(Above): 1/50sec, f/2.8, ISO 800, 50mm lens

 Camera Settings(Above): 1/50sec, f/2.8, ISO 400, 50mm lens

Camera Settings(Above): 1/60sec, f/4, ISO 320, 24mm lens, flash (bounced off wall)

Camera Settings (Above): 1/60sec, f/4, ISO 400, 65mm lens

Take a look around my blog to see more of my NGO & Humanitarian photos.  I’ll have a new folio on my new website dedicated to the humanitarian projects I’ve been shooting over here in Central and South America.

Thanks!

SURFGIRL Magazine Article

I am thrilled to have an article printed in SURFGIRL Magazine, the raddest womens surf mag in The UK.

The article is about my travels and photography work/lifestyle around Central America. I hope you like it.

Let me know what you think at info@aliciafox.net and if you’d like to see more photos of Central America visit my website.

NPO Photography in Latin America

My Article in EOS magazine

EOS magazine is a great photography publication coming out of the UK, focused on the technical side of photography and specifically of Canon EOS cameras.

I wanted to write an account of my experiences volunteering in Latin America, thinking it would appeal to EOS readers. The editor Angela August agreed and offered me a two page spread in the Nov 2011 issue. When the article went to print, it ended up as four pages.

I was really pleased to receive an email from Angela saying
“Very many thanks for your contribution. I must compliment you on your fantastic pics, sparkling, well-targeted copy and generally getting everything to me on time and in sensible order. You made my job very easy!”

I put a lot of effort in to making the article as polished as possible, so it’s so nice to hear I could make Angela’s job easier.

Here is a copy of the article.


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I love getting feedback, so please leave any of your comments here on email me at info@aliciafox.net

If you’d like to see more of my NGO photography, please check out my website www.AliciaFoxPhotography.com

Fall in California

Autumn in the Mountains

Recently, I was having a very interesting conversation with one of my closest friends in which she described heaven to me. I think of her every morning when I see the sun peek over the mountains and spread its long golden rays across the valleys before me, valleys that on most days are flooded by a thick layer of clouds. I’m staying in a beautiful part of the planet, where the intoxicating nature all around can let you forget about the developed, industrialised, fast paced world that begins down at the bottom of the mountain.

Right now, the landscape here is making a dramatic transition from green to red to orange. It’s heavenly. Every day the fog seems to sit a little higher in the valleys as winter draws closer, and the deer, squirrels and jack rabbits are harder to spot. I find myself gasping in visual pleasure nearly every time I go outside.

.I didn’t do any post production on these shots other than developing them from RAW to JPG in Lightroom. I guess my photography style is changing and I am gaining appreciation for getting the shot right in camera, because I was happy with the photos exactly as they were shot.

.I love this as an opening shot because it’s so simple, yet it says so much – the age of the vehicle, the location and the feel of the surrounding landscape.

.I’ve always had a fascination with beautiful, old cars. The only car I have ever owned was a 1964 EH Holden, named Edwin. I love this shot for a number of reasons, especially the subject, the light quality, the angle and perspective and the dramatic clouds in the top corner.

I’ve always had a soft spot for wide angle shots.

I love these last three shots for the detail and texture.

.I’d love to hear your comments.

Free Photography Blog Handbook from Photoshelter

I downloaded this free handbook from Photoshelter. It’s full of lots of great info on blogging for Photographers, and the website has lots of other resources to help your photography business. Check it out.

What DSLR should I buy?

I often get emails from friends asking me what type of DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) Camera they should buy. There is so much information on the internet, but it is difficult to know what to trust. I hope this helps out anyone who is looking to upgrade from a compact camera to a DSLR.

Brands
In terms of DSLRs, I have only ever worked with Nikon and Canon. These are the two brands favoured by most Professional Photographers.

Personally, I prefer Canon. I think they are slightly ahead of Nikon, in terms of technology and quality. The camera body of a Canon tends to be heavier, which I actually prefer, for stability. I also think that Canon has a better range of accessories and lenses available.

I shoot with a Canon 5D Mark II, and I find it to be amazing. My main lens is a Canon Zoom EF 24-105mm. This gives me freedom to shoot from wide angle, to closer up without changing lenses. I also use my Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens a lot (beautiful for low light and selective focus images), and have a Canon 70-200mm lens (for close-ups and to shoot from a distance).

Camera Models
The model of camera that you choose largely depends on how much you want to spend. Most DSLRs now have quite a generous number of Megapixels. 12 – 22MP is plenty for most people, unless you intend to be shooting billboards in the near future.

Think about how much you can afford to spend, what you want to use the camera for and how long you intend to keep that camera. Is it for a hobby or an investment? If you are fully committed to photography and are happy spending a bit more, go for the next model up. The worst thing is when you spend $1000 and in a few months, realise that you should have spent another $500 and bought a better model. As soon as you purchase a camera, the value drops because you can never sell it for as much as you initially paid.

Accessories
The accessories you buy really depend on what type of photos you like to shoot. For a basic kit, I suggest a Canon body and good lens. Canon usually sells each level of camera with a basic lens, and you can pay a little more to upgrade to a professional lens. I definitely recommend upgrading the lens. Along with the quality of the sensor (the part of the camera which records the image), the quality of lens is extremely important, because this is essentially what the sensor “looks through”. I only ever buy Canon, rather than the cheaper, inferior brands.

Other accessories can be bought later, when you feel like experimenting a little, or you can bargain at the shop a little if you buy a whole lot of things at once. These might include:

• A tripod (buy a strong sturdy model. I always buy Manfrotto tripods)
• Flash (on camera flash can be used, but an additional flash will make photos look much more professional and flattering)
• Additional lenses (eg. for macro, sports, fine art photography)
• Filters – keep a UV filter on all of your lenses for protection. Other useful filters are Polarising filters, Neutral Density filters and Graduated filters.
• Extra Batteries
• Camera bag – make sure it seals perfectly to keep out all dust, dirt and moisture
• 8GB Compact Flash cards (CF cards)

Buying the Camera
In Australia, I buy my cameras from JB HiFi, because they always give me amazing discounts and it’s not hard to convince them to throw in some freebies like CF cards. Buy your camera from someone who will take the time to explain the features of a few different models, and let you play around with the camera and lenses before you buy. Think about extending the warranty when you buy the camera. The shop can usually organise this for you.

I hope this helps you. Please put a comment below or email me if you have any more questions.
Sun setting behind a beach shack in Chicama, Peru.  Alicia Fox Photography

Sayonara Japan : Hola Peru

After 6 amazing months in the east, I have left my temporary home of Japan and headed to new shores. I now call Huanchaco home – a little seaside town in the north of Peru.

The lifestyle is very different and pace of life is much slower than in Japan. For this new chapter of my life, I will be take a break from fashion photography and focus my energy on the surrounding environment with more of a documentary style. I will be travelling around South and Central America for 2 years – surfing, dancing, working with NGOs and documenting the journey for magazine/newspaper articles and an upcoming book, with my partner James Galletly.

I look forward to putting up new photos for you to see from this side of the world.

Here are some of my final photos from Japan
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Above: Early morning fishermen (and women) gather on the beach of Ichinomia to gather food the old fashioned way in this dramatic landscape. (See more photos in the TRAVEL folio on my website)

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Above: James and I spent our final month in Japan relaxing in the Okinawa Islands. This was one of the many glorious sunsets I enjoyed there.

The cutest little boy in Japan.

This is Aki-chan, my new little tomodachi. We were hanging out this week, on a rainy day, and I couldn’t help but pull out my camera to capture the essence of his character.

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Above Pic: It was pouring rain and Aki was having a great time playing in the puddles. I was balancing my camera in one hand and umbrella in the other. We were playing a game which was getting him very excited. I managed to get this shot at the perfect time, between his serious moments of concentration and his animated screams.

Technical: I squatted down to shoot this at the same height as Aki. With a 50mm lens, I used f/2.8 @ 1/100sec. The overcast lighting was fairly flat, so I increased contrast in post-production and added vignetting.

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Above Pic: Portraits don’t have to be of the face, and other details can ‘say’ just as much about someones character.

I used the beautiful backlight from the door to capture this natural image of Aki’s adorable little feet, as he dropped the letter he was reading to look around inquisitively at other things in the room. With my 50mm lens, I pumped the ISO up to 250, to use f/2.2 @ 1/150sec.

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Above Pic: Aki was standing on top of slippery slide in his room, taking advantage of his new-found ability to reach high things. He was fascinated by the rice-paper light hanging from the ceiling. I managed to catch him as he looked down at me for a second to see what I was doing.

Technical: The tungsten light was the light source illuminating Aki with a warm tone. It’s brightness blew all detail and colour out, to create a pure white space. This was shot at f/2 @ 1/60, ISO250.
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Above Pic: Aki seemed completely unaware that I was still with him as he marched through the rain, down this drain covering. The colours of the foliage were so lush in the wet, and the green surrounds were a perfect contrast with his red shirt.

I love the leading line of the drain, which dissects the image down the centre. The symmetry is thrown off by the tilted umbrella on the left, which balances Aki’s positioning to the right.

The diversities of travel

Last Sunday I was sipping on a $25 cup of herbal tea at one of Tokyo’s finest hotels, as I waited for my models and stylist to arrive for a swimwear shoot. Within less than 24 hours, I had headed down the coast to a farming town and found myself up to my shins in mud in a rice field, as I began my first WWOOFing experience on an organic/natural farm.

Traveling provides me with opportunities to be completely diverse, random and extreme, and I can follow a path to wherever my life takes me. Of course I could be living like this at home as well, but for some reason I feel freer when I’m on the road. And that is one of the reasons why I plan to spend the next 2-3 years exploring the world.

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Pic: This is Nao, one of my farming friends.
Technical: I shot this with a Canon 50mm f/1.8 lens, at f/2.8 @ 1/100sec. I chose the wide aperture to blur the edge of her hat, and the background. In post production in Adobe Bridge, I used a split toning effect to give the image a slightly old fashioned, yellow tone. I used vignetting to darken the edges.

I love where I live

Here are some photos of around where I live, in Ichinomya in Chiba, Japan…

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I got up at 4:30am to get some sunrise shots on the beach. It was Sunday, and even at sunrise the beach is crowded with surfers – many from Tokyo on their weekend break – quite possibly their one day off each week.
Technical: I exposed for the background of this image to silhouette the figures against the back light. By setting the white balance to flash, I enhanced the colour temperature to an even warmer tone than the true early morning light.

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Black, volcanic sand with tetrapods protecting the land from typhoon swells and tsunamis. People leave their surfboards, bikes and shoes lying around, because nobody steals things in Japan.

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I love the morning sunlight on this boat.
Technical: The hazy atmosphere diffused the sun to soften the warm early-morning sunlight. I shot at a fairly wide-angle to distort the shape of the boat and enhance the surreal feeling of the image.

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A few of our neighbours, with rice paddies in the foreground. Japanese people tend to have different taste in housing colours, to what I’m used to back in Australia. Pink is a bit of a favourite choice around here.
Technical: Breaking the rule of thirds, I cut this image in half, which I think often works really well for reflections. The air was completely still, so I was able to capture this perfect reflection, without a single ripple on the water.

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Afternoon light on our neighbour’s rice crop – just before planting
Technical: Shot at f/1.8 on a 50mm canon lens provided very shallow depth-of-field
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Technical: Shooting this bike at ‘correct’ exposure gave a really average shot, so I underexposed dramatically to capture the thick, heavy atmosphere, typical of many Asian places. The particles in the atmosphere are what give tone to the sky here.

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I waited for the tide to bring the water in to the perfect place to reflect the sun like this, contrasting with the black sand.
Technical: I shot with a fast shutter speed to freeze every detail of the moving water.

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So many surfers, so little waves
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Car insurance/registration is really expensive in Japan, so many people choose to just leave their car to rust away and buy a new one. Similarly, it’s expensive to have your rubbish collected so a lot of rubbish is also left lying around the countryside in people yards….or cars.

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Rubbish needs to be sorted into cardboard, plastic and styrofoam, or combustible and non-combustible – Yes, the burnt it!

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Our new seedlings – beans, capsicum, cucumber

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Our ‘hashi’ – chopsticks

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The surfer in our toilet – when you flush, the water refills through the top of the cistern, so you can wash your hands, and the water is recycled into the tank – Absolute Brilliance!

Alicia’s First Japan Blog

Hi and welcome to my first blog entry.  I am Alicia Fox and I’m a Professional Photographer from Melbourne, living in Japan.  I live in a little coastal town called Ichinomya – the epicentre of Japanese surfing culture.  Everyday I am surrounded by beaches and farmland, with Tokyo city only 1 hour away.  It is the perfect balance of work, fun and inspiration.

I moved my life to Japan for a cultural shock.  I am inspired by extremes and new cultures.  So far I have found Japanese people to be the most polite and generous that I have come across. Everyday things like vending machines on nearly every corner, and heated toilet seats are uniquely Japanese and still make me smile every time I come across them.   Cartoon porn magazines and Maid Cafes are something that would probably never take off anywhere else in the world, but are just some of the things that make Japan so unique and exciting.

I am currently working on a range of projects including my first solo photo book, photographic submissions for Australian and international magazines/newspapers, and stock photos for Alamy (U.K) and Gekko Images (Australia).

On top of this, I am about to join up with model agencies in Tokyo to help new models and actors to get beautiful folios.  I am also about to launch my photo tours in Tokyo, aimed especially at English speaking residents and tourists hoping to get a better understanding of their cameras and how to use them to create striking photographs.

That’s enough text for now.  Enjoy my blog, until next time……..

Spring Flowers in Asahi

My boyfriend James and I were wandering through the countryside in Asahi when I came across this vibrant tree. I got down low to frame the pink against the perfect blue sky.  This is one of my favourite photos from Japan so far, because it depicts some of the amazing natural beauty this country offers.

TECHNICAL:  I used my Canon EF24-105mm zoom lens at 60mm, f/4 for shallow depth of field.

Ava Blue Shoot

This is one of the last shoots I did in Australia.  It featured local model Ava Jinx, make-up was done by Lysha-Maree and I did the styling and photography.  It was done in my home-studio and we had a lot of fun playing around with paint, eyelashes and props. Please note:  there is a little bit of nudity in this video.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c03fEUcNo-w

TECHNICAL:  I kept the lighting fairly simple, with one light illuminating the white backdrop, one main light to camera-left and a hair-light skimming Ava’s hair on camera right.

Check out my website for more fashion photos:

www.aliciafox.net