Photowise commercial and wedding photography Pretoria, Gauteng

Taking inspiration from Ansel Adams……

Ansel Adams (Feb. 20 1902 — Apr. 22, 1984) was a photographer and environmentalist and has long been regarded as one of the masters of photography. 

“Adams developed the famous and highly complex “zone system” of controlling and relating exposure and development, enabling photographers to creatively visualize an image and produce a photograph that matched and expressed that visualization. He produced ten volumes of technical manuals on photography, which are the most influential books ever written on the subject.”


I took inspiration from Ansel Adams’ sea foam images for this series….







Continue Reading No Comments

Roush Mustang Road-Trip – By Maryna Cotton

yello-mustang-gt-in-smokeWhen a girl drives a supercar such as the Roush Mustang, it is not about how it looks, or how fast it is, nor pretty much about any of the petrolhead talk the guys get in to, it is all about how it makes her feel.

Being automotive photographers, my partner Sarel and I were loaned the Mustang for a few days, in order to shoot it on location, or as we like call it: “to make ‘car porn’”. As a girl photographing cars, I have to know just enough about this 6th generation Ford Mustang to make the right sounds and noises around the guys….so, I know it is a very powerful Roush supercharged 5.0-litre V8 and that the 500kW output and 800 N.m torque makes it an all American muscle car. I know it is fast enough to take my breath away and to make the monotonous Freestate roads I drove on more fun than I ever remembered them being. I know it sports very cool racing stripes, which the guys called “go-faster stripes” but, incidentally, I know too that it was Mustang who first sported racing stripes on a road car back in 1965. I also know that automotive journalists writing about supercars use adjectives such as “adrenaline-pumping”, “pulse-racing”, “sublime”, “thrilling” “engaging” “innovative” and “edgy” but as I am neither writing about the Mustang’s performance, nor about anything involving engineering or mechanics, I get to ignore those and focus on the sensory, albeit girly, experience of driving and photographing this car.

yellow-mustang-side-view-with-smokeIt is not unheard of for car manufactures such as Lamborghini, Bugatti or Mercedes-Benz to team up with fashion designers nor of fashion designers finding their muse in car designs, bringing super cars right into girl territory.

Of all the super cars I have driven, from a cat-walk-curvy Maserati, to blistering fast screen-siren-lipstick-red Ferrari, from the sporty-boho-elegant Porsche to the classy-cultured-haut-couture Aston, none has made me feel so much a woman, as did the Mustang. “Why on earth?” you might ask. Well, it is common knowledge that every girl loves an adventure and getting in behind the wheel of the Mustang is an adventure in every sense of the word in a tom-boyish kind of way. The no-fuss lack of finesse in the trim, the brushed metal on the dashboard and the masculine dials, even the Mustang badge on the car, filled my mind’s eye with images of rough and rugged cowboy-types ready to whisk me away on an adventure involving open spaces and wild horses.  This car is bad-ass and every girly fiber in me loved it!

yello-mustang-gt-in-approaching-stormWhen I realized that the cop who pulled me over somewhere en route to Bloemfontein, did so just to hear the decidedly magnificent sound the not-so-inconspicuous yellow Mustang made on a pull-off, my usually elegant good-girl driving style was momentarily replaced with a pull-off of such awe inspiring unladylike proportions that even Sarel was impressed. Definitively one of the most exhilarating moments of my life. My mother would be horrified…

My creative gypsy soul has incurable road tripping wanderlust and driving the Mustang made me wish the road would never end. It might be a supercar, but it is a surprisingly easy, comfortable ride. Even more surprising is the relatively good fuel economy despite the fact that all those untamed horses under the bonnet inspired less economic behavior from the girl behind the wheel. I wanted to let my hair down and drive with the windows down.

yellow-mustang-gt-in-low-light-1Every pitstop along the way was a crowd-pulling adventure in it’s own right. I had to smile at the newly found diligence of petrol pump attendants. Everyone wanted the opportunity to admire the mustang while filling her up and poor Sarel was drawn into conversations usually starting with “how fast is it?” and then the inevitable ” can I take a selfie?”. The biggest kick for me was a little more self indulgent… I loved the split second shocked-horror on the faces of the Freestate “ooms” when they realised that I was driving this unruly car, and the “tannie” holding on extra tight to her man’s hand…just in case. In all honesty, I might have just once or twice turned the knob thingy next to the gearshift to Sport-mode before the grand exit for a little extra noise and show! This girl was on fire and regretting not owning a pair of cowboy boots.

Photographing a beautiful car makes me happy. I can get lost in the subtle play of light on curves and lines, the boldness of a badge on an aggressive grill, or the magical reflections in a headlight. yello-mustang-gt-wheel-detail

The Mustang is a beauty, but in a butch kind of way. My favourite is the line over the back wheel arch seen in the driver’s side mirror. It is the perfect mix between masculine, strong, angular and bad girl sexy curves. The fact that this Mustang had been modeled after the classic Mustang Fastback means that even the smallest detail or subtle line is easily recognizable as a signature Mustang look. I was head over heals after the second or third click.

Finding the right location and light for a photoshoot of a specific car is often a challenge for automotive photographers. The Mustang however, was equally photogenic next to a country road, in a soot-blackened coal shed or on a suburban driveway and our custom made soft lighting made highlighting every curve and line in true fashion model style a breeze. It is impossible to make a bad image of this car.

yellow-mustang-gt-in-scrapyardAfter three days of adrenaline-pumping, pulse-racing, sublime and thrilling driving in this engaging and edgy car, we were all photo’d out and I settled into the passenger seat for a comfortable meander home. Reflecting on whether I want one?  Yes, please – although I would drive it on the open road, far away from city lights, where at just about every intersection, everything with two wheels or more, invites you to a drag-race. But then who can blame them?

Continue Reading No Comments

Multiple Exposures in Camera – April 2015 – By Maryna Cotton

“Double and multiple exposures allow you to indulge in fantasy, but one of their strongest uses is the intensification of reality” – Freeman Patterson – Photography for the joy of it.

The drive through the Eastern Freestate this past week-end has left me with memories that are distinctly pink and white in colour. For most of my life I have waited for the happy Cosmos to bloom every year– their appearance signifying the end of summer and the happy occurrence of the Easter holidays. Over the years I have photographed the little flowers from every angle and this year the challenge was to come up with something new, with the added challenge to tell the story of these pretty little weeds authentically.

On contemplating exactly what that story was, I was again struck by a few truths. Cosmos are pretty and simple in their design, but rather disorganized in their scattered groups. They grow very tall on rather thin stems, resulting in the tendency to dance in the slightest of breezes. The combination of pink and white is perfectly set off and intensified against the blue skies and as if this is not intense enough the collective of the vast numbers scattered over the country side is breath taking.  If I could be allowed the cliché of humanizing them, I would say they are humble and despite the fact that they are mere weeds growing in the most inhabitable soil, they always appear happy.

The challenge of telling the story of happy abundance, simplicity, intense colour and organized chaos made Multiple Exposures the obvious choice.

Multiple Exposures are images where two or more exposures (images) are superimposed in a single frame (image). Granted in the old days of film these were more complicated to make or at least we had to think harder, unlike the “shoot and see what you get”  of  the digital era. One had to have an understanding of negative and positive values, where black in an image represented no exposure at all and this created the perfect conditions for overlaying a second exposure.  Also one had to consider the actual exposures, as the combined exposures could result in the over-exposure of highlights in the final image. This resulted in the need to under-expose each exposure in order to end up with correct exposure for the final image.

Most of the modern digital cameras can do Multiples exposures in camera – ranging from 2-9 exposures overlaid. The good news is that the compensation for the exposures is done automatically. Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 1D X, and 70D; most Nikon DSLRs; Fujifilm’s X-Pro1 and X100s; and the Olympus OM-D E-M5, among others can do in-camera Multiple Exposures. In the event of your camera not able to do Multiple Exposures all is not lost. Multiple images can also be overlaid in Photoshop. The motivation for including Multiple exposures in-camera was actually for a whole different reason that the creative expression I intended. It is used widely for White Balance tweaks in Commercial Architectural Photography, or to create the effect of long-exposures despite bright light conditions.

I set my Nikon DSLR to 9 shots and started playing.

02 - Multiple Exposures in Camera April 2015 IMAGE1

Moving the camera between exposures creates dynamic images and each one is unique. Do not to get caught up with the technical aspect of Multiple Exposures, experiment and gain understanding from experience and trial and error.

Very little editing is needed  – I usually only make level adjustments.

02 - Multiple Exposures in Camera April 2015 IMAGE2

Continue Reading 1 Comment

Composition: Beyond the labels – Seeing Part 1

I have had the incredible privilege to photograph with and learn from Freeman Patterson on visit to Namaqualand some years ago. Freeman was one of the main catalysts who started my photographic journey and I keep on finding inspiration in his books and photographs.

One of the main subjects of the conversations I had with Freeman was that we as photographers should learn to look at the world around us, without attaching labels to things.

Our first words spoken as babies are nouns aka “labels”. We name things – we describe by attaching labels when identifying objects and in our conversations, thoughts and dreams. Labels often act as the filters, which determine how we will use our senses to experience something, often excluding all but one or two of our senses. Stopping to connect and interact with something, experiencing it honestly enough, to get beyond the “labels”, is where we need to go to really see……we then think in terms of shape, lines, balance, rhythm, repetition etc. It is in this “alternate reality” where waves ebbing and flowing over rocks can be captured as “passing time” and frozen in a single exposure. Or where a range of sand dunes can become a collection of repetitive lines or shapes – almost abstract in their simplicity.

During some pre-dawn moonlit walks, I was struck by how hills, rocks and trees, stripped from detail, colour, form and texture – reduced to mere flat shapes – allowed my senses and imagination to experience them as anything but what they actually are. Two strong lines of repetitive shapes formed by a rocky ridge in the moonlight, had completely disappeared when I went looking for it in daylight. Yes, they were there, but the brownish mottled colours and varying textures had now completely “overwritten” the repetition I had seen in the moonlight. The lines and beautiful repetition had now been reduced to very uninteresting rocks. The strong formidable upright, almost authoritative, monochrome silhouette of Helmut’s tree, became a rather feminine Akasia, decked in pretty yellow blossoms in the morning light.

I was set an assignment at Bokbalbaai – a stretch of coastline approx 1km long, consisting of nothing but pebbles, rocks and kelp of varying colours and shape – to photograph anything but pebbles, rocks, kelp and sea. I sat on a rock feeling a lot of despair, looking at millions of rocks and pebbles…..

Remembering what I had taught so many of our students, I knew I had to simplify the scene in front of me, in order to make any sense of the assignment. Using the viewfinder, I limited my perspective to what could fit in the frame and deliberately deleting the labels “rocks” and “pebbles”, I started seeing shapes, curved lines, shadows repeating the curves and patterns to create form and repetition. It comes as no surprise that “simplify” is the first “rule” first composing great images….

Sea Close-up_Maryna_Photowise

Sea Close-up_Maryna_Photowise5

Sea Close-up_Maryna_Photowise4

Sea Close-up_Maryna_Photowise2

Continue Reading 1 Comment

Doing what we love most….

Sarel and I, presented a Macro Workshop for Nikon at Nikon House recently, and as always loved every minute of it! Macro photography has always been a firm favourite with photographers, novices and pro’s alike. Illustrating that it can be really easy and affordable on top of that, gives us such joy. I believe that it is for this reason that the McRofuzer  lies so close to our hearts.

I have pondered my own fascination with photographing little things and goggo’s and the “usually unseen” on many occasions? What is it in human nature (and my own) that makes Macro Photography so irresistible?

I suspect that in my case it is the sense of discovering something wonderful when you realize that there are hairs on bees or ants. Or perhaps the marvel that creation is spectacular and that we mostly do not stop for a few extra seconds to look or to actually really see. What adds to the experience for me is the actual “stopping”. I run too much, I am way too busy and even my photography has become about “how many shoots in a day” or “how quickly can we do this shoot?”. Macro in a sense affords me the luxury to just stop! To spend time on pondering exposure, how to sneak up on my subjects and how to light them. It challenges me to apply my skills and knowledge and to actually think about it. Ever noticed how aware you become of your breathing?

I love quoting Freeman Patterson: “Photography – both the craft and the art – helps me to be. It allows and enables me to live creatively, which is to honour Creation and my own existence.”

That is Macro Photography for me!








Continue Reading No Comments

Time To Slow Down? (November 2013)

#126 on my bucket list: “Photograph the rat race that necessitate the existence of a photographic bucket list in the first place”.


“One step at a time
There’s no need to rush
It’s like learning to fly
Or falling in love
It’s gonna happen when it’s
Supposed to happen that we
Find the reasons why
One step at a time”

Lyrics: Jordan Sparks

How to:   Slower Shutter speeds (relative to the movement happening in the scene).

These were all 1sec exposures.Feet by Maryna Cotton - Photowise

Maryna Cotton - Feet (Photographer from Photowise)

Continue Reading No Comments

Holiday Ghosts (Some time ago)

During the school holidays I had a unique set of challenges:

~ Get as much as possible camera time – it is so good for my soul
~ Amuse the kids (parking them in front of the TV is not an option) – quality time
~ Get some funky images for my portfolio
~ Write a blog

If I have learned something about children over the years, it is that they have imaginations second to none.  Alternate universes do exist and in these far away awesome places anything goes and everything is possible and real. With this ability to believe almost anything, comes a good dose of curiosity. It was exactly these characteristics I intended to use (read: misuse) to entrap my poor innocent victims to a few hours of photography bliss.  A quick explanation and demo had them convinced that my camera could see through them and that they were in fact mere ghosts (friendly ghosts, specifically).

Continue Reading No Comments

The Love Story Continues (October 2013)

I have been complaining to those close to me recently, that I would have to make a definite effort to photograph in ways which are outside of my comfort zone. I would have to go and do the landscapes and the wildlife stuff and not always do macro and creative photography. The challenge is my life style (and I am not making excuses) – I am just too busy!  Macro is just so convenient! 30 minutes with my camera and window light from the dining room window and voila! I have images. My garden is so beautiful this time of year and the straight forward record type shots are just not doing it justice….. macro remains the firm favourite, but all the creative techniques are just so much fun and images are generally “show stoppers”.

Continue Reading No Comments

True Colours (April 2013)

“But I see your true colors
Shining through
I see your true colors
And that’s why I love you
So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful,
Like a rainbow”

Lyrics: True colors – Cindy Lauper

Those of you who have been reading my recent blogs or have listened to me going on and on about visual design, the analysis of the design elements and also the potential symbolism of the elements would not be surprised by what follows:

Continue Reading No Comments


N4 Gateway Industrial Park East
Willow Park Manor, 0184
Cnr Solomon Mahlangu and
R104 Bronkhorstspruit Rd

Location Inside the Park:
49 Sneeuberg Street
Unit 3

S 25°45'16.358"
E 28°21'51.222"

Contact Us

For General Enquiries:
012 803 1370

Sarel van Staden:
082 4150 474

Maryna Cotton:
082 8570 479