The Ambient Portraiture project



I am beginning a new project, and I really need help.

The project entails a new approach to portraiture. By using specially prepared cameras, I will be producing beautiful, semi-abstract images that mix the human form and the environment.

My creative input is the design of the scenario and the preparation of the camera, which I can mail anywhere in the world.

No matter where you are in the world, you can be involved.

I need models who are willing to pose, clothed or nude, in a natural environment that has meaning for them.

I need photographers or just interested persons who are willing to be intermediaries, and operate the camera to my instructions. Just contact me on the email above.

I am especially interested in hearing from models in CQ. I am happy to pay for your time. 

I hope the images below will encourage you to get involved. None of them represent technique I want to explore, but all have elements of the approach I want to take.










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Four photographs from Robe

Robe is beautiful place. It is like a bizarro version of my own seaside home town. Or maybe Yeppoon is a bizarre version of Robe. Either way, they’re the same basic plan but furnished to very different tastes.

I’m not going to say anything about Robe, except that the Union Cafe is the excellent spot that has kept me connected to the world through their generous free WiFi.

My time here has been very relaxing,  split between appreciating the beauty of the place, enjoying family and wondering at the exotic inhabitants. Here are four photos that pretty much sum this up.











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Even the dogs go mad here

This is Jock, long time resident of Australia’s first opal mining town White Cliffs in remote north-western NSW. Jock offers tours of his house/dugout/mine/hoard/trove. Do not miss it if you ever have the opportunity. It is like being inside a Tom Waits song.

Jock was happy for me to photograph and film, and to put the results to any use. So here he is:

Here is one of the dugout chambers on the lower level of the mine:

Here is an old framed image he had:

Here is a lizard:
How it lived so far down I don’t know. Even though there were dozens of empty antique powdered milk tins, I don’t see there could be much fare there fit for a lizard. At first we were not even sure if it was real. It seemed soft enough at first tentative touch. To confirm, we gsve it the gentlest od pokes and it seemed to inflate and deflate slowly, so alive it was, although just how much we weren’t sure.

Jock is a kind soul who knows a lot about White Cliffs, a town with a history mixing success and failure, riches and unspeakable tragedy. A visit to Jock’s is a most singular experience. I’m sure my kids will remember it for the rest of their lives.

If ever you can, visit White Cliffs, and visit Jock’s.

But don’t stay too long, Jock warned us.

“Even the dogs go mad here.”

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White ochre, blue paint, empty pixels

mutawintjiMutawintji National Park is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. I was there all of forty minutes- a quick visit stolen from a long day of travelling – but the landscape and the sense of history made a big impact. So did the heat, and the squabble with the kids, who were not so keen on a thirty minute walk in desert conditions in the middle of the day. But that’s another story.

In the short time I had I just couldn’t do justice to the landscape I saw, and I’m not going to try. Flickr user Beppie K has a thorough set with lots of information, and it is well worth looking through.

The casual visitor such as myself can still see a lot in a little time. A short walk takes you to an escarpment with some ancient art and handprints made by the  Paakantji people.

If you read the official web site for the park, it rather diplomatically mentions a rock face with historical marks of Indigenous and European significance. Reading between the lines, I hadn’t liked the sound of this. And indeed I found Paakantji rock art and European graffiti.

William  Wright passed through twice, on both occasions leaving his initials in a triangle of blue paint on the rock wall. Both of these marks remain visible. One is on what at least now looks to be a blank area, well away from the rock art. The other is plastered over the most prominent figure painted by the Paakantji.

I wonder what changed his attitude. I didn’t take note of which of the triangles came first.

Wright is best known for leading a support team for the tragic Burke and Wills exhibition He wasted months before setting off, and was of no use. He was pilloried in the government report into the ill-fated expedition.

The Paakantji ochre seems to be weathering better than Wright’s blue paint. I want to add to this palimpsest, so I offer this, in which I have done my best to remove Wright’s graffiti. Even though all my shuffled pixels will endure for a tiny blip of time even compared to the duration William’s blue paint, it felt very calming creating this image. I’ve left some Photoshop artefacts to indicate this is s concoction, not a reversal, not a revision. Even so, I don’t quite know how I feel about this image. I’m interested to hear what you think. Comment away 🙂



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Photos at Robe

So you’ve seen my flyer and are curious?

I am an art photographer with an interest in using antique, lo-fi and home made experimental film cameras.

I am in Robe for a few days, and keen to take some photos.

I have put a price of twenty dollars per session on the flyers. Film photography is not like digital – old format film is costly, as is the developing process. I’m just trying to cover costs.

You’ll get a medium-resolution digital image (or images) and I’m happy to print them at a normal snapshot size and post them to you.

You and I will share rights to the photos that result.

In addition.

I will be happy to sell you larger prints or the original, high-resolution film scan at cost + whatever you nominate.

Working with old style film is slow. You won’t see the results until I have arrived home from my trip, develop and process the images.

Interested? Give me a call on 0413 171 zero-eight-nine.

Here’s some examples of what I do:



PX-100 Silve Shade Polaroid of a girl

PX-100 Silve Shade Polaroid of a girl

the leap

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I have recently traveled from Queensland to South Australia. Me and two of the kids, driving thousands of kilometers.

Some time I’ll take this trip with all the time in the world, accompanied only by a photographic assistant. With kids, with a family Christmas looming, it becomes less Zen and more “are we there yet?”

One day we drove from White Cliffs to Broken Hill along a gravel road in 42 degree heat. We passed one car all day.

The ancient Bynguano ranges.

The ancient Bynguano ranges.

That day I was determined to make into a photo safari – at least as much as possible. There was so little to see, but so much.

[erfect desert tree

The road to Mutawintji National Park

We reached Mutawintji National Park. It was hot. There was nobody.  A thirty minute walk led to some rock art. It was not a harmonious experience. But we got there.

Soon after driving out of the  empty park, we passed a sign saying “Acacia Downs”.

It rang a bell.

At Broken Hill, I googled it.

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Hedrich Blessing goes to the beach

Hedrich Blessing is a reknowned US photographic firm, established way back in 1929. Check out their blog.

I guess they finally turned their back on digital gear a couple of years ago. I was wanting an affordable f1.4 lens, and went to eBay looking for something old but sound.

When the lens arrived I noticed immediately that it was emblazoned with “Property of Hedrich Blessing, Chicago Il.”

A special lens. Who has used this before me? If I bought one of the many Hedrich Blessing books, which wonderful architectural photos would have been taken with “my” lens?

I put the lens on my digital D5000 camera. It was impossible to focus through the viewfinder – it seemed there was another, smaller aperture making  the field look deeper than it was. It was a little more accurate focusing in live view, but this was not easy.

I took many, many nearly beautiful, nearly focused shots. I embrace mistakes and chance – but these were just faulty takes. I gave up. My lens was too good for my camera. So I went back to eBay.

Classic cameras are trendy now (thanks Hipsters). But recent models from the 90s are not collectable. They have ugly styling, are automated and using them is too much like shooting with a DSLR. So I found a very affordable Nikon N90S, an ugly but hefty and very fully-functioned automatic SLR. Manually focusing the 1.4 through the huge N90S viewfinder is a dream.

Recently my friend Bob bought a beautiful Seagull TLR at a swap meet, and our respective families got together at Sandy Point for a TLR shoot. Bob with his wonderful “new” 4A, me with my horrible Lubitel.

But I don’t go anywhere without my N90S/Nikkor 1.4

The grain of the 400 speed film really adds something to these shots, which were taken with the aperture right at 1.4, in afternoon light. I wanted to slice up the sea. I think it worked and that the film grain really anchors the shots. I can’t imagine these looking as “real” if the looked more “realistic.”

Or am I beginning to suffer from anachronistic hipsterism?



1.4 sea

watching the sundown

watching the sundown


late arv

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The thread to the unknown

These images mix traditional photograpy (that is, the capturing of images of the outside world) with imagery that is totally filmic. By utilising film in three dimensional configurations within the space of a pinhole camera, these photographs demonstrate the image-making properties of film-without-image. While the medium of film is well explored, some might say exhausted, these images chart the Unknown that remains when the verisimilitudinous logic of film has been undone by the advance of digital imaging technology.
I propose that these works form an exhibition at the 2012 Image Conference Special Exhibition.

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Voyages to analogue space

I have this concept that I want to explore. We used to live partly in this analogue memory space. We tried to hold on to the past with albums of prints. We’d take Polaroids to prove that things were real. But the shininess and noise** of digital enticed us away. Now we are trapped by our images. The digital image is devouring out actual experiences, tweet by tweet, like by like, blog post by blog post.

There’s nothing left in in an analogue space. It’s a void, and yet it is full of all the filminess* that we could never see when it was full of us.

I’ve been going back into analogue space. First with a Holga, just a little way. Further still with pinhole and polaroid. Now I’ve crossed the event horizon, with my tins and boxes and pins and hammers and glue and marbles and film and blu tack and glass and tape.

It’s a big place. You can get lost in here.









*”Truthiness”  got into the Merriam Webster Dictionary a
few years ago. Surely “filminess” can’t be far behind.
**”shininess” + noise = truthiness?
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On the beach (sand in the sprockets)

There aren’t really any sprockets if you use 120 film, of course. And I took a lot more photos with my phone than with my bright red  plastic Holga. But if there were sprocket holes in the film in the Holga, then there would have been sand. That’s the kind of look I was after. That’s the kind of day that it was.

An autumn afternoon, a family (us) photographing each other for posterity. Or maybe because that’s just what one does to make a wilderness seem part of our digitised life, so we don’t feel that we’ve walked off the grid, out of the net. Or maybe art is a form of addiction.

Anyway, family photos today, the familiar. And  one shot of strangers, who thought I was stranger still.

And no more words.























Posted in art, black and white, Holga, lomo, photography, visual art, Yeppoon | 6 Comments