Australian Photographer of the Year 2014 Entry

November 16, 2014  •  4 Comments

My six image collection entry to this years Australian Photographer of the Year. See for more information about the competition. 

Here is my walk through of my images.

Patricia Cenan is an amazing ballerina, who has come over from NewZealand to study Ballet in Australia. She is very strong (as you can see!) and absolutely so so sweet and polite. The lighting in this image was a large half window at camera right - nothing to defuse the light, and to camera left I had a large softbox set up and speed light at full power. The softbox was about 5 metres from her so just a bit of fill in for her right side. f2.5-1/160-ISO160. 35mm 1.8 on a D7000. 

Here is a behind the scenes shot taken for you by my 3 year old. Yes I removed the bar in post. Why? Because I wanted to, its less distracting and cleaner without.


Mason Edstrom started Ballet only 2.5 years ago. He's brilliant, AND the second nicest guy I know (Husband being the first). This image was taken in the same place as the one of Patricia, on the same day, only I turned off the speed light so it was just window light - for more contrast. Mason is muscular and the contrast shows this off. While Patricia is also muscular I didn't want her to look masculine, hence the speed light stayed on for her (to lower contrast). f4.5-1/160-ISO160. 35mm 1.8 on a D7000.  The bar was left in this image to help show the height of this jump. 

This image, believe it or not (actually you'll believe me in a second as I've got behind the scenes photos for you), was taken in my car. I knew the EXACT lighting I wanted, and I needed it very dark around her, with only defused backlighting and a matte reflector in front of her. My car was the easiest place to use for this set up. f2.8-1/125-ISO100. 35mm 1.8 on a D7000. I prefer the colour version, (in my portrait gallery on this site), but I felt it was important to keep things consistently black and white for the competition. 

Here we go! Windscreen shield over the window to keep the light out (foil side in.. otherwise id be getting a blue colour cast), opaque fabric over the window, white cardboard reflector.. my new favourite reflector. Perfect perfect light, exactly what I wanted. Minimal editing and SO easy. Literally everyone has access to this cheap 'equipment' (as long as you have a camera... and a car).

These two images were both taken in a room with a black floor and lime green walls with one smallish window. Perfect conditions for low key, contrasty images. Both of these were natural light, and it was just a case of positioning Mason so the light hit him in the right spots. 
f3.2-1/160-ISO125. 35mm 1.8 on a D7000. 

f3.2-1/160-ISO100. 35mm 1.8 on a D7000. 

Another taken in the room with the black floors and lime walls. For this image I used a backdrop with stretch grey fabric over it (easy to transport stretch... it doesn't crease. Not always easy to photography though, annoyingly. However it didn't matter for this image as I manoeuvred manual settings on the camera, and then in post, so it would appear black). 

Here is a lighting diagram. Ive never used this resource before so maybe the options were there but I couldn't find them... the window wasn't that big and it was a 1/2 wall window (with blinds so we closed most of them down), the backdrop was dark grey not white, BUT this depicts the layout of the set up at least

There you have it. All simple shots with simple lighting, but effective and interesting! Light is there to be manipulated, manipulate it!


Phaedra Sian
Thankyou so much Melissa :)
I love every picture and what you've captured in each dancer. This is photography at its best.
Phaedra Sian
Thanks so much Nichola, and you'r welcome. There will be more to come :)
Nichola Boyd(non-registered)
Amazing Phaedra, I love your work. Thank you for showing how you set it all up.
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