Away with David and Clare Oliver

Last weekend I ventured off to the Hunter Valley to attend a portrait and landscape workshop hosted by David Oliver, GM Photog., and his daughter Clare — the creative father-daughter team behind David Oliver Photography.

The two-day workshop consisted of two portraiture sessions using natural light, an afternoon landscape shoot, an early-morning aerial landscape shoot and some post-processing and Q&A.

During the weekend I captured three very pleasing images, and also learned more from these greats of photography.

While I have shot portraiture for years, using both available light and artificial light, the one key learning point from this weekend was the quality of window light from a south-facing window.

It is absolutely beautiful light for portraiture, and I can see why David and Clare use it extensively in their portraits.

Here are the three stand-out images I captured during the weekend:

Image: Clare Oliver

Clare Oliver

Clare Oliver is an accomplished wedding and portrait photographer, who doubled as a model for the workshop.

In this portrait early into the first portraiture session, we used window light from a south-facing window.

While I have used natural light in a number of my portraits, I definitely found the natural window light from a south-facing window to be very soft and pleasing.

Image: Father and Daughter

Father and Daughter

This is David Oliver, AIPP Grand Master of Photography, and his daughter Clare.

Together, these fantastic people make up the father-and-daughter team of David Oliver Photography.

During this session, both were posing in David's Hunter Valley gallery during the delivery of a portrait and landscape photography weekend workshop.

However, to me, this shot is more than a 'workshop shot', as it depicts a genuine, warm moment of the father-daughter bond which exists between David and Clare.  I was fortunate enough to have captured this fleeting glimpse of emotion during the otherwise clinical business of delivering a workshop.

Both Olivers are well known for their work behind the camera, but in this shot their work in front of the camera is as equally powerful to my eyes.

Image: Valley of Mount Richardson

Valley of Mount Richardson

A view towards Dungog from high above Mount Richardson in the Hunter Valley, taken early in the morning with David Oliver during his portraiture and landscape photography weekend.

This was the second time I had shot this area of the Hunter Valley from a helicopter (a Robinson R44 for heli-nerds).  In my experience with aerial photography, one takes many shots, but all one needs is one or two stand-out images, and in my case, this image was 'the one'.

I had it printed on Epson Hot Press Natural paper from David's Epson printer, and it looks absolutely stunning in print — far better than the on-screen version can convey.

All in all, it was a fun weekend, in which David and Clare shared their huge collections of experiences and tips, and where the quality of south-facing window light stood clear in my mind as a key tool to use in future portraiture sessions.

Published on Saturday, 9th August, 2014.