Electronics TV and Internet rock star Leo Laport thumbed out a message on his Backberry. We were driving to the airport to head home from Tasmania as he typed, “10 days 24 photographers traveled 1354 miles, took over 100,000 photos.” Within seconds, the message was off to his 24,000 followers on Twitter. From there it spidered to countless blogs and social networks across the Internet. Thousands were following our travels and images on the web in real time. This is travel photography in a hyper digital age.
Leo’s impressive statistics tell only a piece of the insanity and magic of those 10 days in Tasmania. ASMPNorCal member Mikkel Aaland had assembled, on the island of Tasmania, an eclectic mix of photographers from around the world. We were there to photograph the essence of the Island while road testing the newest beta release of Lightroom 2.0.
During each of those ten days, we split off in rental cars packed with equipment, frantically chasing images to tease from the dramatic landscape and people of Tasmania. This assemblage of master photographic story tellers was both an inspiring and daunting crew to be a part of. Each had the liberty to photograph their specific interest. Tokyo and New York based commercial photographer Maki Kawakita was capturing self portraits, creating scenes dressed as the anime character Kiki in the very places that Miyazaki had conceived of Kiki while on a trip to Tasmania. German photographer Simone Mueller, with a car trunk full of strobes, batteries, and taxidermied endemic species on loan from the museum, was carefully lighting unnatural animals in natural settings. The images she created were unsettling but beautiful museum dioramas in two dimensions. Bruce Dale, long time national Geographic staff photographer, would dissolve each day into the landscape, to return at night with an impressive breadth of subjects. Not only did Bruce have stunning landscapes, but also intimate and rich stories of the people: A pirate wedding he was invited to for example, or the slaughter of a pig - subjects only obtainable to photographers with the master key to all of the proverbial doors a photojournalist might want to enter. And these were just 3 of the 24 photographers on the ground.
At night we all gathered in a room and pulled the tables together in as a circle to face each other. In another era, this circle of master storytellers would have a fire at its center, and we’d be telling the wild stories of the day. But instead of a fire, we had whirring hardrives and laptops. We’d share our visual stories using Lightroom as we tweaked, adjusted and edited the images from the day’s shoot. Walking around the circle one night I caught Aussie Photoshop publishing guru Philip Andrews laughing while hunched over Lightroom 2.0. Three or four photographers joined the fun, clustered around Philip giggling like school boys. Philip’s business partner, the famed Peter Eastway, who also on the Adventure, had a beautiful photo of the back end of a horse on the last cover of their magazine “Better Photoshop Techniques”. In classic Aussie irreverence, Philip was busy working on a spoof: An image he had made that day of the rear end of a pig with unreasonably bloated testicles. Around the table further was Peter Krogh, ASMP National Board member and author of “The DAM book”. Beer in hand, Peter was providing the soundtrack to the evening for all of us from his laptop. Inspirational acoustic music filled the room while some watched Peter’s Digital Asset Management in action. He demonstrated using Image Ingester Pro to automatically tag each image with geographic location gathered from the track log on his GPS unit.
The nighttime sessions in the conference rooms would go usually until 2 in the morning. Then we were all up again before dawn, sleep deprived but excited to start the next day shooting.
“Stone Soup” was how Mikkel Aaland described his “Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Tasmania Adventure” project. Mikkel brought out the cauldron with the water and stones, and inspired a community with seemingly limitless talent, enthusiasm and experience to add ingredients to taste.
Out of the rich “stone soup” we collectively created, Mikkel was getting beautiful images from great photographers for his coming O’Reilly Lightroom 2.0 book. But the project became so much more than that. All of the contributors, from the generous sponsors to the photographers, were getting much more than expected from the synergy and creativity of the people involved. Mikkel had masterfully brought the right community together, and the result was more than anybody dreamed.
Thank you to our partners: Adobe, Tourism Tasmania and O’Reilly and to our Gold premier sponsors Epson, Digital Railroad and Qantas for making the project possible.
Also thank you also to our Silver sponsor LowePro and our friends Hoodman, Lensbabies and Sanyo for the equipment sponsorship.
Tasmanians love to play in the outdoors. A couple of climbers I met swung by our hotel in Hobart at 2am and I followed them on a two hour drive out to the Tasman Peninsula. We were dodging wallabies, wombats and padimelons the whole way. Those are not fruits, but animals by the way. From a trailhead, we walked a couple of hours in the dark, before arriving just at first light at the climber's objective: The Totem Pole – a detached pillar of rock rising straight out of the sea.
I spent all day photographing the climbers from the adjacent cliffs. At one point, a friend of theirs who came was looking over the edge down at the climbers, and provided great scale to the scene.
Photographing a spire of rock hundreds of feet high is difficult. So this is a panorama of three images made with a 17mm lens on a Canon 5D, stitched with PTgui, and then adjusted in Lighroom.
We left spring in North America to arrive in Fall in Tasmania. In Tasmania, there is only one Native winter Deciduous Tree, Fagus. Often it grows more like a bush. Tasmanians enthusiastically “bush walk” big distances to see the Fagus change color in the Fall. But we were told that the Adventure was too early in the season, and that we wouldn't see the changing colors of the Fagus.
On the final day of shooting in Tasmania, I hiked to Marion's LookOut in Cradle Mountain National Park. Along the trail were views into Crater Lake, and low and behold, the Fagus was beginning to turn.
I’m particularly fond of the shot shown here which was really an accident. Jeff Pflueger and I were eating our sack lunches on the beach south of Bicheno, on the Tasmanian east coast, and I purposely threw bread at a few birds to attract enough of them to make a good photograph. Jeff, seeing what I was up to, jumped up with HIS camera and stepped in front of me, ruining, I thought, my shot. Well, of course, the shot with Jeff turned out to be the best of the lot.
I look at it now, an I'm struck with the title that Diane Byrne from the Events Tasmania office gave it when she saw it at our benefit auction. She titled it, "The Island of Inspiration" and she got it right. It truly was a few weeks of inspiration and even though I was happy to go home to my wife and two daughters, I am already scheming ways to get back.
“Island of Inspiration” was shot with a Nikon D3, 800 ISO, with a 14mm focal length set to f/14 @ 1/800th of a second. It was processed using Lightroom (of course!), and I created the “dreamy” look by sliding the Clarity slider to 0, which in LR 2 is a negative value and actually “diffuses” the image. Other than some minor tweaking of exposure and adding a vignette, the image is otherwise left alone.
Special Media Guest
From Adobe Australia
Photo Team from Germany
Photo Team From Great Britain
Photo Team From Japan
Stormfront Productions (Joe Shemesh, et al.)