The stories behind the images

The stories behind the images
chairs, rome

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

      Monday, February 14, 2011


      The story behind the image:

      One of the key elements of design in any visual art-form (including photography) is shape. Shape is defined by its perimeter/outline, and silhouettes are the purist and strongest of all shapes.

      For a successful image using silhouettes, you must remember that you are telling a story with shape only - often the other elements of design such as colour, texture, form are missing.

      Unable to rely on the full range of elements, the shapes in your images must therefore be easily identifiable. They must also have have unity yet variety, rhythm and movement, proportion and scale - and they must work together to create a visually interesting and balanced image.

      Successful silhouettes can take time to compose. After wandering through the beautiful Villa Borghese gardens in Rome, I made my way to the Pincio. This terrace offers a wonderful view of Rome over the rooftops towards St Peter's dome. As I approached the terrace I identified the opportunity to create a succesful silhouette image as the strong sun was backlighting the people on the terrace.

      Rather than just shooting straight away, I waited until the people on the terrace were in positions that could be easily identified from only their shapes.

      From left to right you can see someone covering their eyes to block the sun, someone with their arm up holding their camera, someone looking down at their lcd screen to review the images they have taken with their camera, two people looking down at the view in front of them, two people talking to each other (one gesticulating in conversation), someone posing for a photo, someone taking the photo, someone looking at the person they are with as that person takes a photo.

      So, as you consider using silhouettes in your images really look at the shapes in front of you. Are they able to tell the story you want to tell?

      Equipment and settings used:
      Camera - Canon EOS 5D
      Settings - f8, 1/1600s, ISO 100, -1 stop exposure compensation, 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.

      Friday, January 14, 2011

      Our thoughts go out...

      Capture Italy is a Brisbane-based business and many of our fans are also here in Brisbane and Queensland.

      Our thoughts go out to everyone who has been affected by the tragedies in our state, and we wish you the very best for the recovery ahead.

      Dianne and Lisa