Photography Travelogues – Papua New Guinea 2/3
December 29, 2011 2 Comments
Tami Islands, Papua New Guinea
There aren’t many places in the world as remote as the Tami Islands. On a map, they aren’t that difficult to find and anyone with a ship or a yacht can get there, but in terms of interaction with the outside world, few people are lucky enough to visit a tropical island paradise like this. No hotels, no shops, no transport. Perfect!
There are just four small islands arranged around a central bay. I visited the Tami Islands with Orion Expeditions, a luxury ship that is based in Australia and travels the world. What’s great about Orion for a photographer is the access it gives you to remote locations. The ship and a number of small communities along the Papua New Guinean coast have a relationship where the locals dance for the ship’s passengers, and the passengers purchase carvings and artefacts that generate the income the locals need to send their children to school. It seems to work very well.
After watching a series of wonderful dance performances, we were free to wander around the small island and I headed down towards the beach. I love the ‘old’ canoes which still appear to be made the way they have been for hundreds of years (although I am sure the green paint on one of them is a more modern addition).
However, children being children, who also haven’t changed for hundreds of years, are incredibly curious and as soon as I pulled my camera out, I had both an audience and attentive subjects. In fact, it was hard to take a photograph with just one subject in the frame and if it did happen, I had to work quickly.
What I love about this portrait is the ‘old man’s pose’ adopted by the young boy. Using a walking stick he doesn’t need, he simply sat down as you see him.
An 80mm lens with the aperture wide open at f2.8 is like using a 50mm lens at f1.4 on a full-frame DSLR camera. It throws the background out of focus so that the lines of the canoes on the beach don’t compete too strongly with the subject. I also like the line of the overhanging tree in the background as this is one of the features I really like about the Tami Islands.
Photographically, this is quite a contrasty lighting situation. One of the disadvantages of expedition cruising is you are rarely on shore for first light or even last light, so you use what you can. To deal with the strong sunlight, in Capture One I set the Curve under Base Characteristics to Film Extra Shadow. This provides a softer starting point for my adjustments, which essentially means I have detail in the shadow areas which I can retain or remove later on as required.
The original doesn’t have perfect light, but my subject is top lit from behind and the potential is there if I can lighten the subject relative to his background. For the background layer, I darkened the exposure to ensure the sky was correctly exposed, then I added in three local adjustments. The first lightened up all of the foreground up to the horizon line, the second lightened up the boy’s face, and a final local adjustment darkened the sand back down a little.
Peter Eastway is a professional photographer and photography magazine publisher based in Sydney, Australia. To see more of his photography, visit www.petereastway.com. Peter also offers an online Landscape Photography MasterClass. Details can be found at www.betterphotography.com.