Chris Jansen

Chris Jansen has been a member of Corio Bay Camera Club since August 2007, following in his father’s footsteps. We asked Chris about his varied photography interests …

What is your photographic background?

My first exposure (get it – exposure) to photography was my dad. He was always a keen photographer and has been a member of the camera club since I can remember. My first camera was a digital camera. I was about 21 at the time and it was a 3.2 Mp Canon compact camera. A Canon A70! I am one of the new generation of photographers that have only ever shot digital. I actually learnt how to use Adobe Photoshop (as part of my school Graphic Design course) before I started taking photos. Starting off with digital helped me to learn quickly by experimenting with different apertures, shutter speeds and ISO and seeing the result quickly on the back of the screen. I remember taking out my new camera and taking a long exposure photo of the post office in Ballarat. I thought it was a cracker of a shot and from then I was hooked. I look back now at the shot and shake my head at the many imperfections.  A few years later I graduated to a digital SLR and joined the Camera Club. It was great to have my photos critiqued. I enjoyed the constructive feedback and it improved my photography a lot.

I went over to Western Australia in 2009 and did quite a bit of diving. I purchased a Canon G10 and an underwater housing. I quickly figured out that taking photos underwater was really hard! I enjoyed the challenge and slowly got better. I am back in Victoria now and take photos under water whenever I get the chance but still enjoy taking photos on land as well.

What are your favourite subjects and/or locations?

I like landscapes, underwater, HDR and macro. I pretty much take photos of everything but people. I love taking photos underwater in Port Philip Bay. People are always surprised to see the amazing marine life we have here on our door step. Equipment has a big bearing on what you can do underwater so I tend to focus more on macro photography. One great side effect of this is that it slows you down while you are diving and forces you to look closer! I see many things that most experienced and seasoned divers never see.

Other than underwater I try and find projects or techniques to focus on. Things in the past that have caught my interest include HDR, Panoramas, Macro and even things such as time-lapse videos.

Who/What inspires you to go out and take photographs?

What:

Firstly the challenge! The technical aspect of taking photos underwater is really challenging. I shoot in full manual mode and use underwater strobes to try and get the exposure right. On top of this you have try and get your strobe positioning right to not highlight particles in the water and don’t forget about worrying about currents, surge and the fact that sometimes you can be 20m below the surface running out of air.

I love learning new things. There is always something new to learn in photography. In the past I have purchased a panoramic head and taken 360 degree photos. At the moment I am working on making wide panoramas look good compositionally. Learning new techniques on Photoshop is great fun as well.

The other side of taking photos in the environment is that it gives you a reason to be there. There is no other reason I would bother getting up before the sun rises or to venture out into the middle of the bay or wander around an abandoned power station if there was not a photograph to take. Photography gives me a reason to explore and experience things most people don’t bother to.

Who:

Firstly my dad! I love the competition at the camera club and never fail to remind him when I get a better result. He is a little more gracious when he (more often) gets the better result.

There is a strong community of photographers on sites such as Flickr. It’s great to see other local photographers work. It inspires me and gives me the push I need to make time to go and take more photos. They also give me ideas of good locations and techniques.

What do you like to communicate through your photography?

I think I just want my viewer to express wonder. To be amazed at the subject. I don’t think my photographs challenge the viewer or make them think. Just to show the world for the interesting, beautiful place that it is.

What sort of gear do you use?

I use a Canon 550D SLR with a range of lenses, including a Sigma 17-70mm, Canon 50mm, Sigma 105mm macro and a Canon 70-200mm. For my underwater work I use a Canon G10 with an Underwater housing and a 2 x Macro wet lens (a lens that screws onto the outside of the housing).

Which of your images is your favourite – why?

I don’t think I have a favourite. I think I like the photo project that I’m working on at the time best… maybe.

Is there photographer that you particularly admire? Why?

Having never really done any formal training in photography I guess I missed studying the masters and this is something I’m only just coming across now. But I am really not much of a fine art photographer and most of my inspiration comes from other local photographers that I connect with at the camera club or online. There are lots of great photographers in the region and they always have good ideas for locations and techniques. I guess I also admire anyone that puts their photographs out there to be judged.

Below is a selection of Chris’s photos. Click on then to get a larger view.

360 Panorama –  360° degree panorama of the foreshore in Geelong made up of about 10 or so images. I used a panoramic head to make it much easier to stitch together later in Photoshop.

Baye – I won Image of the Year for this image a few years ago. I found an old power station in Geelong and used HDR to bring out all the tones and textures in the place.

Cappadocia – Turkey – Taken from a hot air balloon over Cappadocia Turkey. Sometimes looking for patterns is fun.

Drop and Curl – At the time I took this image I was living in Cairns. On a walk through the rain forest I took this image. My partner is very nice and always waits patiently while I take images of things most people don’t bother to look twice at.

Frog fish – In an unassuming bay called Secret Bay (a gem for underwater photographers) in Bali Indonesia we found this frog fish pretending to be a sponge. No coral at this dive site just the strangest creatures you will ever see on earth.

Light House – Point Lonsdale lighthouse is a very popular subject for local photographers in the Geelong region. I got up one morning and took this image. It’s a panorama made from about 8 images.

Lovers – I work on dive boats from time to time as a deck hand. I took my camera along one day and took this image of some gannets that nest on Popes Eye in the middle of Port Philip bay. I like to think it captures the interesting courtship displayed by the birds.

Pictures 051 – This is an image I took when I was very new to photography. It went quite well in a competition and gave me the spur I needed to continue taking photos. It was taken in Venice Italy.

Pot Belly Sea Horse – Taken under St Leonards pier. Most people would never know what is right under their feet. St Leonards pier is a great spot to snorkel or dive.

Sea Dragon – Taken on a shore dive at Cottage by the Sea in Queenscliff. These shy creatures do their best to blend in with the kelp and move with the surge from the waves.

Shark – A Port Jackson Shark (that was very co-operative) off the end of St. Leonards Pier. Some people are scared of sharks. In Port Philip Bay this is probably the scariest shark you will likely see.

Speed – Panning while using a slower shutter speed I took around 300 shots and got around 10 to actually work. This was my favourite from the 2010 UCI Road World Championships here in Geelong.

Nudibranchs – These are said to be the butterflies of the sea. They come in thousands of colours and shapes. This is a local variety (Tamja Verconis Nudibranchs) found under St Leonards Pier. One of my dogs (Tambja) is named after them.

Water Drop – Raining one day and I didn’t know what to do. So getting out my macro lens I set this shot up in the laundry for some fun. It took about 100 shots to get the timing and focus right. I don’t tell people how many shots I took to get it. That would ruin the illusion.

White Tip Reef Shark – I love sharks! They are over 400 million years old and have been around before the dinosaur. They suffer a bad reputation and humans have nothing to fear from the vast majority of them. This White Tip Reef Shark was snapped on a night dive on the northern part of the barrier reef.