Musings of a Photographer | Matt Burke Photography

Matt Burke Photography

long exposure of Rye Pier and the surronding water at sunrise with a LEE Big Stopper filter.

Effects in camera – time worthy?

Posted by | filters, landscapes, tilt-shift | No Comments

Camera effects – time worthy?

Taking the time to create in-camera effects, as you shoot, really slows down the process – but in a really good way.

There are so many plug-ins, filters and things that you can do in Photoshop that sometimes it seems that you should just run out, grab a shot and then fix it all later on the computer. Whilst this is an option, it can seem that a lot of the art of photography is going, whilst the new art of digital illustration jumps ahead in leaps and bounds.

I’ve been having a lot of fun recently with a new filter I got – The lee Big Stopper. It’s a filter that you put in front of the lens that cuts out 10 stops of light, allowing you to create movement in the image through long exposure times at any point of the day. Add this to my tilt-shift lens and suddenly there’s a whole new world of fun to play around with; a whole lot of fun. However, when people see me set all this up I invariably get asked the question – “Isn’t it easier to do this on a computer? Why bother buying the equipment for it?”. While this is a completely valid question, it is one I don’t really understand. Perhaps it’s because I learnt how to print photographs in a darkroom, and used to process my own films, perhaps it’s because I quite enjoy slowing down the process of capturing an image.

I spent the other night waiting for the moonrise and was treated to an electrical storm over a group of apartments. Waiting for the shot to come into play (it eventually didn’t due to cloud cover, but I did get other shots) was like fishing, but a little more suited to me. I had the chance to experiment with the above mentioned lens and filter, all without a care in the world. I recommend that you (and myself) slow down a little and think about that shot next time, what’s the worst thing that could happen?

Mushroom bruschetta and beer, stout and ale, at the Iron House Brewery in Tasmania

Food & wine holidays

Posted by | food, travel | No Comments

Food & wine holidays – Matt Burke Photography

I enjoy getting out of the city. Let me rephrase that – I absolutely love getting out of the city, whether it be down the coast, into the bush, or up a mountain. Waking up in a tent in a remote location always starts the day in one of the best possible manners. Getting a good hike in, with the chance to photograph things along the way, is a way to top that.

However, the food isn’t always great. Carrying all your camera and camping gear means that something has to be sacrificed. Even when we are in the car, the food we can make is limited to the tiny gas stove we have, and the base ingredients that won’t spoil. This is where food (and wine) holidays come into it. I’ve found that over the last few years we travel to places with decent food options around. I wholly endorse buying locally and supporting the small person, and thus travelling in regions which are known for food is such a treat.

We had the opportunity to spend a few weeks travelling around Tasmania, and we were not disappointed with either the hiking or the food. In fact, you can even buy a gastronomy guide to Tasmania and look up what’s in the area you happen to be in. Doing this, we were able to find so many places that we would never have know existed otherwise. Another option, and this is something we do often, is keep an eye out for any produce signs and take that not so commonly used road. It’s generally worth the trip, if not food-wise, there generally tends to be something photography-wise that I would have never found.

Researching the area and knowing when to visit, based on harvest times, is also a great way to learn about what is there. Is there anything fresher or better tasting then the produce you buy from the place it was grown, in the season it was supposed to be grown in? Researching this info beforehand gives you a greater chance of sourcing what you want and also a greater understanding of what is available in the area. Is there any better way to have a food & wine holiday?

Natural medicical herbs and flowers growing in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains in Twisp, WA

Visiting a medicinal herb farm in Twisp, WA

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medicinal herb farm photography

We had the good fortune of visiting a medicinal herb farm outside of Twisp, WA during a recent trip to the USA , accompanied by the lovely and super knowledgeable Rosalee de la Forȇt, a well-known clinical online herbalist.

Not only was this a wonderful chance to see so many of the herbs and plants I know by name, but I was also explained the uses of each plant; If only I had had a dictaphone. It was such a peaceful setting within the valley and the colour from the plants really made an impression on me. I really enjoy photographing plants (though the summer midday sun can be challenging) for a variety of reasons.

1. They are so beautiful, no matter what they are. Each plant has it’s own character.

2. The detail that you can choose to focus on.

3. You can create a landscape with them.

It was really such a beautiful setting – at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, and to see all of these wildflowers in one spot was an incredible experience. That said, Rosalee had shown us a lot of these growing naturally in the mountains, but I guess that knowing that people were growing them for medicinal use was really sort of special. If you get the chance I highly recommend visiting this beautiful area of the world, and if not you can still contact Rosalee if you are interested in finding a wonderful herbalist: I can personally guarantee her services. Have a look through and if you know any of the medicinal herbs please let me know as I’m too ashamed to tell Rosalee that I have forgotten them…all.


pears in season grown by Howell's Farm for sale at Abbotsford Convent farmers markets

Eating in season – Seasonal Regional

Posted by | food, Food for thought | No Comments

Eating in season – Seasonal Regional

Photographing food gives you a great insight into the quality of the food, and there is nothing fresher, or better tasting, than something in-season. During my work for the Sustainable Table, specifically photographing their most recent book Seasonal Regional, I was able to personally meet a lot of the growers and producers in Victoria.

This gave me an invaluable insight into the challenges they face, yet also the rewards of growing / making your own product with the best possible environmental practices. During this job I must have put on quite a few kilos as I ate my way around Victoria. The great thing was I didn’t have to cook much myself as most producers sent me on my way with a little something, and wow, was it good!

Keeping this in mind, and also looking at how I have been slowly changing the way I eat has made me appreciate what is out there – real food, with no added ingredients. I compare what I get at the market in Melbourne to what you can find at a supermarket and I scratch my head at what sells more. Shopping at the market allows me to build a connection to the people there and chat to them about what is in season at the time. Recently, this has given me the opportunity to try new season apples that I probably would skip over. Luckily, I did, as it has shown me a flavour spectrum that I never knew existed in apples, from almost apple pie tasting to exceptionally tart and crisp. I’ve made it a little goal to follow the taste of these apples over the next few weeks to see how the taste changes, and I must admit, it’s very noticeable. What does that say about what we eat?

Next time you pick up a fruit or vegetable, think about what time of year it is. It’s so beneficial in so many ways – looks better, tastes better and it’s even cheaper as there is a general abundance at that time. It’s when you get the opportunity to actually taste the fruit as it should be.

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