The stories behind the images

The stories behind the images
chairs, rome

Thursday, February 21, 2013

when to convert to black & white

The story behind the image:

This image was taken in the evening in Ragusa Ibla, Sicily. I was making my way back to my b&b and came across this piazza. I had seen the little boy go into one of the doorways on the piazza and wondered if he might come back out. I waited, he came out, I got my image.

Why did I convert this to black & white? I based my decision solely on mood. In this instance I just felt this image had to be in b&w.

But that doesn't help when you may have thousands of images to look through from your recent travels and you want to know which ones are going to work in b&w - if you went by your mood and feelings it might take all day just to get a handful of images selected!

Is there a better way?

The best b&w images come from colour images with excellent light, tone, contrast and composition, but identifying those elements can be hard if you're new to photography or unsure of what these terms mean.

Without going in to too much detail (I run a course on b&w photography, so believe me I know detail!) I think there is a simple starting approach to figuring out which travel images may have b&w potential. 

Please be aware that this approach is certainly not the only approach, nor will it necessarily be the best approach, but it is a way to get started. From here you can hone your skills and knowledge on b&w as you will start to realise which images work and which don't, and you can ask yourself why.

When to convert to b&w?

Sometimes I convert to b&w because I want a point of difference in a commonly-photographed scene. It could be the Taj Mahal, or Big Ben, or in this instance the Fontana di Trevi. We see so many images in colour, that a b&w version might be a way to differentiate your image.

When an image has strong shapes. Shape is one of the key elements of design and without colour, shape can really stand out and be a feature of an image.

When an image has good texture. Another element of design, texture can be featured without the distraction of colour.

When an image has good lines and patterns. These elements of design can work so well in b&w - they are always worth trying a conversion. (Of course, if the pattern is dependent on colour it may not be successful.)


When an image has lots of people or objects which can be distracting or overwhelming in colour. Removing the colour around the nuns allows them to draw our focus:

Likewise with the colour of the food at the market removed we can focus on the interaction between the vendor and the customer:

With the colour removed in this image we are able to focus on the people and their interactions and expressions, rather than their clothing:

Finally, sometimes I convert to b&w to salvage coloured images that have issues. In this image it is to make the most of a blown-out sky (top right-hand corner):

Remember, that a good b&w image has excellent light, tone, contrast and composition - so as you find an image that converts well, take the time to look at its characteristics.

How to convert to b&w?

How long is a piece of string? B&w conversions can be done in so many ways using so many different products that it is beyond the scope of this blog.

My big tip is to consider using a method that has presets (many of which are based on the old film-days of coloured filters, and many of which also tweak contrast and exposure/brightness). This is a good way to get started.

As a guest tutor for Bluedog Photography Workshops and Tours, I run b&w workshops in Queensland, Australia and soon to be online also.
If you would like to know more: 

Equipment and settings used in top image:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f2.8, 1/250s, ISO 1600, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 24mm

Happy Shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

buon anno

Buon Anno tutti! Wishing you a Happy New Year, and that your year ahead is filled with love, peace and happiness.

Happy Shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

a quieter side of venice

The story behind the image:
This image was taken early-morning in Venice, outside Caffe Florian (Italy's oldest cafe, first opened in 1720).
When I first went to Italy almost 20 years ago, I took so many photos of all the famous monuments and locations - I just couldn't get enough. Now, I find it is the small things that appeal to me. I get such pleasure shooting the quieter side of such well-known places.
The challenge with these more intimate images is ensuring they still have some way of identifying the location. Otherwise you run the risk of "oh, where was that taken?" - every travel photographer's nightmare!
With this image there were a number of elements I wanted to include - first, the leading lines and patterns (these appealed to my eye); second, the reflection of Piazza San Marco/St Mark's Square in the door (for location identification); third, the curtains on the pillars, the cafe stools and some of the lush cafe interior (to identify the subject); fourth, a person (for interest). I composed the image and then waited for the person to come along.
I feel this image was relatively successful in identifying it was taken in Venice. Perhaps the reflection is too subtle? Maybe for someone who had not been to Venice before - they may not recognise the tell-tale chairs and pigeons and background architecture as Piazza San Marco...
Of course I could have included more elements of the cafe to identify it as Caffe Florian, however my image wasn't about the Florian, it was about a cafe in Venice at Piazza San Marco (whichever cafe that may have been). And more than just that, it was about capturing what we would know or imagine to be a typically busy location in its quieter times.

These more subtle and intimate images are difficult to capture, however when done well they give us an insight into a location that we may not have seen before which makes them unique and unusual.

Are there lessons to learn here? Yes. When composing your image, make sure you include an element of location even if it is just a hint... a fellow photographer reminded me recently about the power of mystery. Not every image needs to hit you over the head with a sledgehammer.
However, if your image has to fit a brief (whether that be for a competition or for editorial purposes) you may need more than a hint.

Alternatively, you can caption your work, to remove any doubt as to location. Or create a diptych - on one side show a more "postcard" type image of the location, on the other side show the more intimate image.

Happy Shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Monday, October 8, 2012

places left in brisbane photography workshops this weekend


As guest tutor for Bluedog Photography Workshops and Tours, I am running two workshops this weekend. There are still a couple of places in each:

When: Saturday 13th October, 12.30-6.30pm
Where: Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
Cost: $275 (inc comprehensive notes)

When: Sunday 14th October, 9.30am-3.30pm
Where: Bluedog Studios, Mt Tamborine
Cost: $275 (inc comprehensive notes)

For more information email Danielle or Sheryn at

For information on all Bluedog courses:

I hope you can join us.
Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

travel and street photography - brisbane camera group presentation


Lisa is presenting at the Brisbane Camera Group next Monday, and will be showcasing images from Italy - as well as sharing tips and techniques for travel and street photography.

When: Monday 15th October, 7.30pm
Where: Brisbane Camera Group, 102 McDonald St, Albion
Who: all welcome

For more information:

We look forward to seeing you there.

Happy Shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

may 2013 photography tour

May 2013 Photography Tour

This is a two-week small-group photography tour, departing Rome Monday 6th May 2013 and finishing in Siena Monday 20th May 2013.

Destinations Rome, Amalfi Coast, Tuscany.

Venice extension from 20-25th May 2013.

For a detailed itinerary email Dianne and Lisa -

We hope you can join us on tour in 2013!

Friday, August 31, 2012

a personal favourite

The story behind the image:

It's Friday and I felt like sharing an image that is a personal favourite taken in Rome - it breaks many of the "rules" of photography (I could list them all but would run out of space!) but it works for me.

Remember that not all of your travel images need to be postcard-perfect. Your images need to tell a story, and sometimes the only person they may tell the story to is you. And that is ok. In this image I love the chairs, but I also wonder what or who the flowers are for...

Equipment and settings:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D

Settings - f8, 1/100s, ISO 400, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 43mm

Happy Shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Thursday, August 16, 2012

photographing la madonna

The story behind the images:

If there is one thing that unites all Italians, north to south, it is their love of la Madonna (the mother of Christ). Statues, chapels, tabernacles, altars devoted to la Madonna can be found everywhere. Likewise, framed pictures or simple cards, large and small, are ubiquitous.

This tabernacle above was tucked away on a stairwell in Positano on the way to my hotel. When I first came around the corner and saw her, it was love at first sight... perhaps it was my heightened sense of mortality (if you have ever stayed "up the hill" in Positano you will know how it feels to walk up ALL THOSE STAIRS!); or perhaps it was the play of light, shadow, illumination and colour that got me; or perhaps it was the serenity and beauty of la Madonna, even with her chipped nose and hands... whatever it was, I was officially smitten.

When photographing la Madonna remember these shrines are of religious significance and are maintained by the locals whose house, restuarant, shop, boat, bar she protects and should be treated with respect. I have seen photographers re-arrange flowers and pictures and other items that may be placed around la Madonna in order to improve the composition of the image. I do not feel that this is appropriate and would walk away and look for an alternative image. Trust me, you will have no problems finding another Madonna to photograph. 

Here she is in Rome, high up above a restaurant in Campo dei Fiori:

In fact, in Rome, you should walk around looking up - she is normally found above the streets on building corners and facades. As I spend more time in Rome than any other Italian city I think I may embark on a new personal project - photographing the Maddonas of Rome. I'll keep you posted.

Here she is again in Rome:

A technical point when photographing la Madonna if she is above you - you will need to tilt the camera and the moment you do that you will get converging lines/distortion. You will need to allow plenty of room around your subject to enable you to straighten her later in post-production.

Here she is a courtyard in Venice:

Whilst not la Madonna (I believe this is Saint Catherine), this is a beautiful alter overlooking the peaceful ancient Roman Baths in Bagno Vignoni, Tuscany (I imagine she is behind the grate to protect her from overzealous admirers): 

Irrespective of your religious beliefs, the deep affection and love the Italians have for la Madonna (and in fact all their saints) can't help but touch you. I think the appeal of la Madonna for me photographically is the variety of representations of her - every Madonna is unique and has her own special beauty and significance.

Equipment and settings used in top image:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f2.8, 1/160s, ISO 1000, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 51mm

Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f2.8, 1/80s, ISO 1000, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 48mm

Happy Shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Friday, July 27, 2012

two different perspectives of venice

The story behind the images:

Dianne and I were standing almost next to each other on the Grand Canal in Venice. We were looking at the same scene - but we captured two entirely different images.

When I looked at the scene I decided I wanted to capture the vertical lines of the mooring poles and the woman (I saw her as a line also) and I shot at a low angle to include the solid shape of the path. So, this image for me was shape and line - with the woman, her arm parallel to the mooring poles, as a point of interest.

Dianne was interested in the gondolier working on his gondola. Dianne physically went much closer into the scene and framed her shot around him. (You can see this gondolier in my image, at the very right-hand edge of the image.) Dianne saw a story unfolding in front of her - the end of the day for a Venetian gondolier.

Not only did we shoot entirely different parts of this scene, we then used our post-production software - Photoshop and Nik Software - for vastly different final images.

My image is quite soft and muted, which is how I felt when shooting this scene. The evening sky was soft, I felt relaxed and quite removed from the scene. I was an observer.

Dianne's image is vibrant and energetic - its colours are strong - we can see that the gondolier is still working, tying up his gondola. We get a sense of the movement of the water. We are actively "in" this scene. I think Dianne even ended up speaking with the gondolier. The woman in my scene simply wandered off, completely unaware she had been an element of my image.

(Be aware that your feelings when you're photographing often dictate what you photograph - and that's fine unless you are shooting to a brief, or you need a specific image. You then need to be able to separate your feelings and really see all the elements and possible points of interest of a scene and capture the most appropriate for the brief.)

Any lessons here?

We would encourage you when next travelling to not just shoot what appeals to you, but maybe give yourself some exercises to broaden your vision. This is what we do on tour - it might be an exercise in looking for and capturing line or colour, or perhaps it's an exercise in telling a story in a particular town... stretching yourself like this helps you improve your photographic vision.

Better photographic vision means you can look at a scene in front of you and see multiple photographic opportunities.

Equipment and settings used in Lisa's image:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f7.1, 1/30s, ISO 400, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 24mm

Equipment and settings used in Dianne's image:
Camera - Canon EOS 7D
Settings - f3.2, 1/160s, ISO 1000, manual white balance, shot in jpeg
Lens - Canon EF-S 17/55mm f2.8 IS USM LENS
Focal length: 20mm

Happy Shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Thursday, April 5, 2012

live webinar - tour information sessions online


Reserve your seat now:


Find out everything you need to know about our small-group, boutique photography tours to some of the most beautiful parts of Italy.

See images to inspire you from Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany and Venice... and ask as many questions as you like in this live 45 minute information webinar.

By tuning in you will also be eligible for our special webinar-only discount. We hope you can join us!

Time Zone Conversions:
10AM AEST - 10am Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne - 8am Perth - 12pm Auckland - 8pm New York - 5pm - Los Angeles

8PM AEST - 8pm Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne - 6pm Perth - 11am London, Rome - 12pm Berlin - 1pm Istanbul

We hope you can join us.
Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

how to photograph people

The story behind the image:

Almost everyone who joins us on tour wants to learn techniques to photograph people. Capturing people is such an important part of travel photography, so let's look at some images taken in Italy on our tours and get the discussion started...

It's one of the questions we get asked most on tour - how do I photograph people?

The answer is very simple. It depends on what story you are telling.

There are three generally identified types of portraits (for the purpose of this blog we will use the term "portrait" to refer to any type of image that contains people).

Candid portraits (aka "fly on the wall") - the subject is not engaged directly with the camera; the subject may or may not be aware that you are photographing them. In instances where the subject is not aware of your presence, these type of portraits probably fit equally into the street photography / social documentary genres.

Environmental portraits - the subject is captured in his/her/their environment or background.

Formal portraits - the subject is engaged with the camera and is the only focus of the image, with little or no background.
Most of us have a preference for the type of people shots we take, however when you're travelling you will need to be able to capture all three types of portraiture as circumstances (and your story) dictate.

The image above is one of my personal favourites. It was taken on a reconnaissance visit to Sicily, in a bar (cafe) in Ragusa. I was inside the bar having a refreshing granita and taking a rest from the heat outside. Daily life was unfolding in front of me, and this was a moment I enjoyed capturing.  

Given our definitions of portraits, it's quite easy to see that this is a candid portrait. I didn't hide my camera, however I did not engage with the people in the bar. Had I spoken with the gentleman reading his newspaper, or the grandfather and child at the bar, the image would not have told the story I wanted. It would have lost its "slice of life" content.

Each photographer must make their own decisions about candid portraits. I have heard a number of respected photographers viciously attack the candid portrait (where the subject is unaware of the photographer) as being akin to stealing a subject's soul. I have also read a number of superb essays on the value of candid images in documenting time and place in history - think Cartier-Bresson and his amazing images of Scanno.

My personal moral standing is this: if I keep my camera visible and I treat people with respect in my capture of them, then I feel perfectly comfortable with candid portraits irrespective of whether the subject is aware of my presence or not. Remember, this is my personal moral code. You will need to think through and identify your own.

This image below is an obvious environmental portrait. In this image, the skipper is shown in his natural environment. A head-and-shoulders portrait would not have told the same story. He also looks incredibly comfortable and relaxed. That is the beauty of environmental portraits - your subjects are likely to be in their comfort zone, so less self-conscious.

Most environmental portraits lend themselves to wide-angle lenses to ensure the background can be included as part of the story. This image was taken at a focal length of 35mm.

This images below are  formal portraits, in the sense that the subject is engaged with the camera. He is the entire content of both images, the background / environment is minimal.

I feel that these are the most challenging types of portraits in travel photography. It is difficult for formal portraits to stand alone and tell a story without some sense of context - particularly in a country such as Italy where there is no clothing or even facial features that specifically identifies a subject as being a local Italian. BUT these portraits are often the most rewarding to take, and they will add to the depth of your story.

Often when you ask someone if you can take their photo, they will pose the way they expect you would want them to - a cheesy or forced smile. I will take that image, chat some more and then ask them to pose in a specific manner. In the images below, the gentleman posed with his cigarette, then he smoked it while we chatted, and then I asked him if I could take another shot. I asked him just to look directly into the camera. The second shot is the one I was after.

I enjoyed chatting with this man, he was a real character.

A few tips for people photography:
  • before you even turn the camera on, be aware of any cultural or religious reasons that may prohibit or restrict photography
  • know how to use your camera and what shot you want before approaching someone to take their photo - it enables you to work quickly, ensuring the subject doesn't become too self-conscious
  • don't be afraid to approach people - for every no there will be a yes... but...
  • be polite and respectful, and treat your subjects the way you would like to be treated and photographed
  • if you intend to sell (or enter into public competitions) the images you are taking, consider getting your subject to sign a model release form of some sort - in this risk-minimising, litigious world anything could happen
People photography can be very challenging yet rewarding, and portraits will add to the stories you are telling about the places you visit.

Equipment and settings used in top image:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f4, 1/80s, ISO 1600, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
Focal length: 57mm

Happy Shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Thursday, January 26, 2012

images on an angle - aka "but it's not straight!"

What is your reaction to this image (taken in Ragusa Ibla, Sicily)?

Does this image appeal to you? Or does the angle of the image bother you?

A tilted image can cause strong reactions in people viewing that image.

Having spent many years assuming these reactions were simply a matter of each individual's artistic and personal tastes, during the course of some professional development last year I read a fascinating book - Perception and Imaging, Richard D Zakia - which finally gave me an alternative reason: "Field Dependency".

Quoting from the book:

"Field-dependent persons will feel uncomfortable when something within their visual fields is tilted. The tilt creates a visual tension, a feeling of imbalance. I [the author] am such a person. If I am sitting in a room with a tilted picture on a wall, I either get up and straighten it or look away to avoid my feeling of imbalance."

Field dependency was first researched by Herman Witkin in the 1960's. Witkin built a tilting-room/tilting-chair apparatus - the person in the room is put into a non-upright position and then has to adjust their position by either tilting the room or the chair. Those that tilted the room (their visual field) were termed field dependent. Those that tilted the chair (their gravitational field) were termed field independent.

Perhaps you prefer this image:

We, as photographers, can consciously use the concept of field dependency to create an impact with our images. Looking for some visual tension, or want to stimulate a sense of disequilibrium? Consider turning your camera on an angle...

To find our more about field dependency and the visual process of seeing, our Australian readers can get a copy of Richard D. Zakia's book from Les Harden at Highcove Educational and Photographic Supplies. Click here for the Highcove Facebook Page. Les has an amazing collection of photography books - and if he doesn't have it in stock, he will get it in for you.

Equipment and settings used:
Camera - Canon EOS 7D
Settings - f/5, 1/400s, ISO 200, manual white balance, shot in jpeg
Lens - Canon F-S 17-55mm lens
Focal length: 35mm

Happy Shooting, from Dianne and Lisa at Capture Italy.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

buon natale

Buon Natale! May the joys of the Season lead the way to a bright and prosperous New Year. We hope to see you in Italy in 2012.

Best wishes from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

a venice favourite

"We can replace the variety of colour by black and white, or in any case not struggle against nature to make light... we must manage to put the sun behind the canvas, the picture must have the power to generate light." Henri Matisse, 1949.

This low-light image is one of my favourite's from our recent tour in Venice. Photography is emotional - we all respond to images based on our own emotional lives. Our favourite images may certainly not appeal to our family, friends, colleagues, fellow photographers. When you show your images to people after your trip, be prepared for this and never be disheartened if others dismiss your favourite images with a "oh, but it's blurry"... How we see and respond to photography will always be based on who we are, and we are unique individuals.

Equipment and settings used:
Camera - Canon EOS 5D
Settings - f/3.2, 1/25s, ISO 400, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm L USM
Focal length: 64mm

Happy Shooting, from Dianne and Lisa at Capture Italy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

how-to guide to digital photography books, by guest blogger debbie scales

Debbie Scales has been a consultant with Creative Memories for twelve years and is based in Queensland, Australia. We met Debbie at a photography convention in 2010 and have stayed in touch.

Debbie is an avid traveller and photographer and jumped at the chance to put together her Top 5 Tips for creating digital photo books. Be sure to check Debbie's special offer for our Australian readers at the bottom of the article.

Over to you Debbie...

Someone once said “A good snapshot stops a moment from running away”. We take so many photos, especially now that the digital era is well and truly upon us! In fact we often take 3 times as many as we really want... or need. But with all these photos being taken, what does everyone do with their snapshots? They are on the computer... I share them on facebook... I still have them on the memory card!

So, my question to you is... If those moments were so special and memorable that you just had to capture them forever, why just leave them on the computer as purely a digital image? Why not do something with them so that we can easily share them with others and enjoy them for ourselves.

I know that when I purchased my first digital camera I struggled with the number of images that were quickly amassing on my computer. I also struggled with the thought that someone would only see those images on a screen or via email. Yes, photos do look good on a computer screen... but they look SO much better when they are printed in photo books.
If you are an avid photographer you will have thousands of images by now. do you get started? It is easy to say that you just do it... but here are my TOP 5 tips for creating digital photo books.

1. Select Photos for your book.

Whether it be a once in a lifetime trip to an international destination, or a week long beach holiday, a trip book is a great way to relive your experiences. Taking the time to put a book of photos together will ensure that your trip remains a favourite memory for many years to come.

Depending on the length of the trip and the number of places visited and events enjoyed, your book could be anywhere from the minimum 20 pages up to the full 80. For this book you will need to write down a list of places and events in the order that they occurred, and next to it indicate how many photos you would like to include, and therefore how many pages you will allocate to that event. You many need to consider full page images here too, as some of your photos will want the WOW factor. As a general guide, you could fit as few as 80 or as many as 400+ images in a full 80 page 12 x 12 sized book.

The little bit of time choosing your photos here will speed your book completion along.

2. Choose a Style for your project.

Now you have your list of projects, and some organisation around which photos to include in them, the next step is choosing your style. How do you want your book to feel? How do you want others to feel when they are looking through your book? Different styles of photobooks will need a different feeling, and you get to choose what that is.

• Classic and sophisticated styles are great for weddings and coffee table style travel books, or any book that you want to keep simply stunning. The images, often only one or maybe two per page, tell the story, and the backgrounds are mostly black and white. Add in a few special quotes or softened edges of images, to add some additional interest if needed. This is extremely quick and very effective in style.

• Fun and relaxed styles are good for annual family books and events like birthdays, new babies and fun holidays. Change the design and colours of pages throughout your book to compliment the photos. Think in double pages, as that is what is visible when someone opens your book to flick through it. Add text to tell the story, and fun titles to show the different sections of your book. Enhance with digital embellishments to add character and individuality.

In all good digital photo book programs, such as Creative Memories Storybook Creative Plus, there are many predesigned pages to choose from with all of these elements already included, or you can create your own with digital artwork.

3. Consider the size and number of pages.

Whilst the number of pages in your book can be worked out as you go along, it is certainly beneficial to consider the minimum of 20 and maximum of 80 pages. When planning a book with over 400 photos, you might need to consider splitting your project into two books, so that you are not limited on the photos you would like to include. This is where the little bit of time spent planning your project will enable you to create your book more effectively.
With most photo book programs the size of your book needs to be chosen at the start, as once begun, cannot be easily altered and you may find yourself beginning again.

The three sizes of Creative Memories books lend themselves towards different projects:

• 8x8 inches: This is a perfect small event, snapshot or gift book. Think birthday, mother of the bride and groom, pets and Christmas gifts.

• 11.5x8 inches landscape: Good for medium sized projects such as school journey, small holiday, family history.

• 12x12 inches: This is the most versatile of all the sizes. Perfect for travel as it can hold so many images, or wedding where you want lots of full sized page images. Good for the annual family album as you will end up with more photos and events than you thought you possibly could!

4. How much time do you have?

Is your project something ongoing or does it have a deadline? Did you want that wedding album done by your anniversary? Or that book printed in time as a gift for Christmas or your child’s 18th birthday? Your time available and deadline may affect the style that you choose.

• No deadline: Well, it is always good to give yourself a deadline otherwise you may never do it! But with that in mind, you can create as you choose. Be decorative or classic. Use pre-designed pages or create from scratch. The choice is yours!

• Short deadline: Go for classic style or predesigned pages. Keep it simple! It will look great. Use an auto-populate feature: If you have all your photos chosen and in order, and you want to use the same theme of predesigned pages throughout, in Storybook Creator Plus you can use the auto-populate option. The software can intelligently work out the number of photos per page and position them accordingly. All you need to do is tweak the pages to suit, once the software has done the work.

5. Ask for help if you need it!

One of the benefits of choosing Creative Memories for all your photobook needs is that you have a consultant ready to help when needed. Whether you need project ideas, organisation help, software tutorials or special effects lessons, just pick up the phone or send an email and I can be available to assist. Your query can be answered quickly, enabling you to continue with the fun and creative side of creating fabulous storybooks
Where do you go from here?

You can visit my website to further explore the options available to you, and register to receive a monthly newsletter. I have available hands-on workshops in the Gold Coast/ Brisbane area to assist you as you get started, and ongoing events to guide your completion as needed.

As a special offer to Capture Italy clients, contact me prior to book completion to receive 15% off the printing costs of your Storybook.

Remember, photos connect us through time and the generations. A Coffee Table book of your favourite photos, especially ones you have taken, will be a cherished book on display in your home for a lifetime.

Debbie Scales

Thanks Debbie.

Debbie can be contacted through her website

Happy Shooting, from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Sunday, December 18, 2011

camera maintenance - top tips from guest blogger anderson camera repairs

Mark Meier, Manager at Anderson Camera Repairs, Brisbane, gives us his top tips for camera maintenance:

1. When not in use, keep zooms retracted.
Not like this:

Like this:
2. Don’t put lens caps, rear caps, and body caps in pockets as the lint will stick to the cap then transfer to the lens or camera

3. Keep memory cards in protective cases not in bottom of camera case or pockets. Dust or grit can cause damage to card and also damage to pin assembly in camera.

4. Keep camera cases and lens pouches dust free vacuum on regular basis

5. Keep lens contacts (below, silver dots on lens) and body contacts clean with a soft cloth. You will know if they needcleaning when F— or F ee is displayed on the LCD it means there is bad connection between body and lens. When cleaning the body contacts care must be taken not to touch the mirror or focus screen. In some cases the contacts will need to be replaced by a service center.

6. Keep the cameras firmware up to date. Firmware is the operating instructions that your camera follows to work correctly. Sometimes the manufacturer will update the firmware for the camera to improve its operation. You can download this from their web site, but you must follow the download instructions or damage can be caused to the main circuit eprom.

7. Keep the flash hot shoe terminals and the steel slide rail where the flash mounts to clean. Use a pencil eraser which is mildly abrasive to polish the silver contacts. Also the terminals on the flash will need cleaning occasionally.

8. If cleaning the CCD yourself always make sure you have a fully charged battery or are using the AC adapter. Use the facility in the menu of the camera that will allow sensor cleaning, don’t use the Bulb mode. Follow the cleaning products instructions or you will risk damage to the low pass filter which protects the CCD unit. To replace a damaged filter is expensive. Preferably bring the camera to a service center for professional cleaning.

Mark and the team at Anderson's can be contacted on, or on +61 7 3245 6444.

Happy Shooting, from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

the importance of focus

Capture Italy are big fans of American photographer Stephen Shore's "The Nature of Photographs". In his book Stephen talks about the importance of focus. What you choose as your point of focus will in turn focus your viewer's eye, which in turn focuses their attention, which in turn focuses their mind. In Dianne's image, the focus is on a rather pensive-looking (or perhaps reflective?) nun - what is she thinking? Let your eye, attention and mind focus and see where they lead you.

Equipment and settings used:
Camera - Canon EOS 7D
Settings - f2.8, 1/200s, ISO 100, white balance 5600K, neutral picture style, shot in jpeg
Lens - Canon EF-S 17-55mm
Focal length: 38mm

Happy Shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Capture Rome Photography Workshop September 13th - 15th 2011, Rome

Learn how to capture the grandeur, beauty and decay of this eternal city on our three-day hands-on photography workshop held in Rome.

Locations include the Campo de' Fiori, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Villa Borghese, Piazza di Spagna, Fontana di Trevi, Colosseo, Campidoglio, Piazza S. Pietro.

Expert tuition, lunch and notes included.

All levels of photography experience welcome.

Maximum of eight participants.

COST: € 445.00 (total for three days)

Meeting Place: Hotel Adriano, Via Di Pallacorda 2, Rome
Date: Tuesday 13th, Wednesday 14th, Thursday 15th September 2011
Time: 0830 - 1930

To book or to request an itinerary please email Lisa or Dianne on

We look forward to seeing you.

Happy Shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

Monday, July 18, 2011

perfect polarisers - guest blog by danielle lancaster

There is one piece of photography gear I never leave home without. Its small, weighs next to nothing and is invaluable when I want to get as much of my image making correct in camera: a necessity for many of us travel photographers. We want to be travelling, not spending precious hours processing.

It’s my polarising filter. In fact, I have one for every lens and only take them off when I don’t need them.

Most may already know the polariser gives us wonderful blue skies and white clouds but its uses are far more than just that. They also increase colour and saturation in our images more to what our human eyes tell our brain we see.

Another use is to cut down or eliminate reflections. This can encompass a myriad of situations such as:
• photographing from within a vehicle such as a tour bus, plane or train;
• subjects behind glass panels such as in shop windows or in aquariums or zoos;
• reflections from foliage;
• reflections from water, sand, snow, ice
• reflections off many objects covered with water such as marine animals, rocks

Image by Anita Bromley/ Bluedog Photography
This splendid animal of Africa was captured at Australia Zoo on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland Australia by Bluedog Photographer and teacher Anita. The tiger was sitting behind a huge glass panel and the polariser eliminated the reflections on the glass of other people watching the animal beside Anita.

Image by Danielle Lancaster
This magnificent image of a humpback whale was taken by Danielle during one of the Bluedog Photography Fraser Island Tours where participants get to go on a whale watching tour. Without a polarising filter, the whale’s body under the water would not be visible and there would have been unsightly highlights caused from water reflecting off the whale’s body out of the water.

Many think a polariser should never be used on an overcast day, yet I disagree. I use my polariser while photographing in the rainforest on overcast days as it increases the contrast and saturation to what my eye tells me I see. In the end what I get out of camera is closer to what I really see and therefore less I have to do in my new digital darkroom which simply means more time for photography!

Image by Danielle Lancaster

And one of the best uses is when photographing a rainbow. They work absolutely brilliantly in this situation to give wonderful colours but be careful you can remove the rainbow from your scene by simply turning the polariser!

A couple of tips when using a polariser:
• Make sure the polarisation is not uneven;
• Make sure the polarisation is not overdone or looks too unnatural unless there is a specific mood you are creating;
• Watch your shutter speed – the polariser absorbs light. Most TTL metering systems inside your camera compensate for this;
• Don’t forget to turn it – yes I know it sounds simple but believe me I’ve met many who did not know they even had to turn it in the first place.

And if you haven’t bought one yet, only purchase a circular polariser as they work with any lens on autofocus. A must for any busy travel photographer and wildlife photographer.

Danielle Lancaster is a professional photographer who loves sharing her passion with others. Her company Bluedog Photography shoots a range of imagery for corporate and private clients and runs Bluedog Photography Courses, Retreats and Tours
Contact: (07) 5545 4777 or visit

discount on bluedog fraser island photography tour

Last year Capture Italy was introduced to Danielle Lancaster from Bluedog Photography Workshops, Retreats and Tours. We caught up with Danielle again recently and she has kindly written a guest blog for us to share with you – see above. It’s about that essential photographic tool she never leaves home without!

Danielle and her team run a wide range of workshops and tours. Like us, Danielle shares a philosophy of small group tours catering for all photographers whether they are enthusiastic beginners or experienced professionals.

Check out the Bluedog website

A special tour Bluedog holds each year is the Bluedog-Kingfisher Bay Resort Fraser Island Photography Tour. This fabulous Tour into a World Heritage listed wilderness area includes the lot and allows you to explore some of Danielle’s favourite haunts on the island – even the four wheel drive and driver are supplied so you get to concentrate solely on your photography!

A few of the highlights of the tour include visiting ancient rainforests, sand blows, spectacular fresh-water lakes and seeing remarkable wildlife, the famous 75-Mile Beach, coloured sands, shipwrecks and a whale watching your to photograph the giants of the sea, the mighty Humpback whales, up close!

We are delighted to announce that Capture Italy clients will receive a $100 AUD discount on the 2011 tour which will run from Friday 26th August to Monday 29th August! There are still limited spaces available at the time of writing and don’t forget to let them know you are from Capture Italy to get this great discount!

For more email or visit

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What story do you want to tell with your photos?

The story behind the image:
I love this quote from American photographer and author Stephen Shore -

Where a painter starts with a blank canvas and builds a picture, a photographer starts with the messiness of the world and selects a picture. The Nature of Photographs

On this day our "world" was Via del Governo Vecchio in Rome, an eclectic street just off Piazza Navona. It's one of our favourite streets for photography in Rome.

We always shoot in this street on our tours. Its diversity offers photographers of all levels of experience an opportunity to tell a story. At the end of the day, when we review our images, it never ceases to amaze me how many different stories come out of the one street!

When you are traveling it's important to ask yourself each time you bring your eye to the viewfinder - what picture am I selecting, what story am I wanting to tell?

Most of us shoot what we like... it's an emotional choice.

Good photographers add to that by actively choosing and making decisions about their images - they decide where to stand (sit, squat or lie) to take their images; they decide what to include in the frame (is the photograph a fragment of the larger world, or a world unto itself); they decide the duration of exposure (will time be frozen, blurred, still); they decide what to focus their lens on; they decide when to press the shutter (the decisive moment).

On top of all of this, each and every photographer brings their own unique combination of life experiences to their images.

Dissecting my image above - I wanted to tell the story of everyday Rome - the Rome beyond its amazing monuments... the Rome I became a part of when I lived here. My life experience.

I made the following decisions:

  • I selected two shops that had very little tourist appeal and no signage in english

  • I shot at normal height as I was wanting a photo-journalism / documentary feel

  • I shot wide to include a hint of the doorway of an adjoining building to give a sense of the continuation of the street

  • Knowing it was only a matter of time before a motorino zoomed past, I chose a shutter speed that would give some blur and NOT freeze the movement

  • I then waited for a customer to walk into the scene, and for the motorino to zoom past - the decisive moment

  • In post production I stripped out some of the colour to again give it more of a photo-journalism result - I didn't want the colour to overwhelm or distract from the story

    • This shot tells the story I want to tell. It is a slice of everyday Roman life.

      Dianne's image below, of the same street a few shops down, captures an entirely different mood and story.

      As travel photographers, we must know what story we want to tell, what picture we want to select well before we have released the shutter.

      Equipment and settings used on top image:
      Camera - Canon EOS 5D
      Settings - f4.5, 1/80s, ISO 400, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in RAW
      Lens - Canon EF 24-70mm f2.8L USM LENS
      Focal length: 24mm

      Happy shooting, from Dianne and Lisa at Capture Italy

      Monday, May 23, 2011

      discount on adriatic photography tours for our clients

      Earlier this year Capture Italy was introduced to Luka Esenko from Adriatic2Alps Photography Tours.

      Luka and his team run photography tours through Slovenia and the Adriatic region. This fascinating region is fast becoming a photography hotspot with its diverse history, culture and natural beauty creating unique photographic opportunities.

      Luka shares our philosophy of small group tours, and like us his tours caters for all photographers whether they are enthusiastic beginners or experienced professionals.

      One of the most beautiful tours Luka runs is the 15-day Adriatic2Alps Tour through Slovenia and Croatia - the tours starts in Dubrovnik, “the Pearl of the Adriatic” and a UNESCO World Heritage Centre; then takes you through two national parks of magnificent peaks, valleys, rivers and lakes; and finishes in the beautiful city of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.

      There are only a few places left in the June and September tours, so we encourage you to find out more:

      We are delighted to announce that Capture Italy clients will receive a 175 € (EUR) discount on all Adriatic2Alps photography tours, so please let Luka and his team know that you are one of our clients (or facebook fans) when you make your booking.

      For all the Adriatic2Alps photography tours visit:

      Happy shooting from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy

      Friday, April 8, 2011

      early-bird pricing finishing soon

      Early-bird pricing is closing on Thursday 21st April for the September Late Summer Tour (12th September - 26th September 2011).

      Savings are AUD $250 per person, AUD $500 per couple.

      You can view the itinerary here:

      We look forward to seeing you in Italy.

      Lisa and Dianne

      Capture Italy

      Wednesday, March 30, 2011

      quick tips for authentic travel photos

      The story behind the image:

      On our Capture Italy tours we visit a wonderful pasticceria - La Zagara - in Positano. They make the most delicious pastries.

      As a photographer, it's second-nature to want to capture the food and produce of the country you're visiting. Two of the easiest ways to add authenticity to your Italian travel photos are to ensure that

      1. what you're capturing is distinctly Italian or, even better, distinctly regional - in this instance the sfogliatelle pastry is considered a Neopolitan specialty, but legend has it that the sfogliatelle recipe now used throughout the whole Campania region originated from nuns in a convent on the Amalfi Coast.

      2. any signs/tags/labels are in Italian (not English for the tourist's benefit) - in this instance "coda di aragosta" - which as an fyi translates to lobster tail - given the shape of the pastry.

      The same applies for shop windows. Again, make sure the signs and labels are in Italian and also ensure that the products you are photographing are distinctly Italian (and not something you can pick up from the local supermarket at home).

      And if you love flowers (or whatever else has caught your eye) and there's no label in Italian, at least make sure the price is in euro.

      As a photographer I rememer being disappointed that the euro was coming in to replace the lire (the lire virtually screamed "italy") - and to me, the euro was one more indicator that the world was becoming more and more homogenised. Anyway, that's enough of the philosophical stuff for today...

      Equipment and settings used for top image:
      Camera - Canon EOS 400D
      Settings - f5.6, 1/100s, ISO 800, auto white balance, neutral picture style, shot in jpeg
      Lens - Tamron AF 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 Di-II LD Aspherical (IF) LENS
      Focal length: 77mm

      Happy shooting, from Lisa and Dianne at Capture Italy