Byron Bay with Canon Australia

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If you’ve been following me on This Island Life since the early days, you might have noticed that photography has recently become a really big passion of mine. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some really amazing photographers over the years and while I often need to be in front of the camera, I’m now behind the lens at every chance I get.

So when Canon Australia invited me to Byron Bay along with a bunch of other amazing photography influencers like Matt Glastonbury (@mattglastonbury), Matt Vanderputte (@matjoez), Sera Wright (@photography_byron_bay) and Liz Carlson (@youngadventuress) for the Tales by Light Festival – a weekend-long celebration to support Canon Australia’s very first TV series on National Geographic Channel, I was beyond stoked. The series features five of the best photographers in the world; Peter Eastway, Krystle Wright, Darren Jew, Art Wolfe and Richard I’Anson as they push the limits in some of the planet’s most extreme and fascinating environments. Produced by cinematographer Abraham Joffe, the episodes show the story behind the image and are goosebump-level-inspiring.

Watch the epic trailer below 🙂

As if that wasn’t enough exciting enough, the team at Canon Australia had also included a bunch of Canon Collective hosted events. The Canon Collective is a select group of epic ambassadors who host unique photography experiences all around Australia for budding photographers like myself. Events are open to everyone and are often hosted by legendary Canon Masters like the ones featured in the Tales by Light series. A Canon Collective event can be anything from astrophotography, to underwater photography, to a workshop on how to best edit your images once you’ve taken that epic shot. Gear is provided and you’ve got access to the best people to give you all the tips and tricks you need. Basically you get to camera-nerd-it-up and if you’re lucky, you may get to wear a sweet Canon reflector vest like this when you shoot 😛

We had Canon Masters Krystle Wright (@krystlejwright) and Darren Jew (@darrenjew) on hand, as well as Canon Grand Master Peter Eastway (@petereastway) and boy did we shoot up a storm. First up we shot Main Beach in Byron Bay at dusk and were treated to a spectacular sunset. We then experimented with pixel sticks on the beach when the sun went down where I got to play with settings on my Canon EOS 70D using the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM (my kit for the entire trip) that I never knew existed. The next day we set our alarms for 4am and headed out into the hinterlands to shoot the sunrise from a hot air balloon with Byron Bay Ballooning (article coming soon). We even fit in an Instameet hosted by Matt Vanderputte (@matjoez) where we walked around shooting Byron Bay’s incredible coastline.

What I love most about the Canon Collective is how they nurture young talent. There were a bunch of super cute kids like Hunter Mills (@hunter_aqua) with their mums in tow getting one-on-one time with professional photographers they would never normally have access to, as well as young up-and-coming photographers like Jeremy Somerville (@jeremysomphoto) who blew me away with his shots from the weekend. With access to equipment like the Canon EOS 1DX – a $6K camera body – they were totally peaking out on life.

One of the best things about the weekend was the afternoon where we took part in a series of photography challenges. While the entire weekend improved my photography skills tenfold, it was the challenges that really pushed me. The Canon Collective set up camp at The Farm – an incredible property with an epic restaurant/café/bar situation that you guessed it, is located on a farm. The Canon Masters each gave us a photography brief – there were four in total – where we had 20 minutes to run around the farm shooting and had to present the unedited file for judging when time was up. The first brief involved using a pineapple as a prop – while I was excited for anything tropical fruit related, it was actually a really hard brief (hence why none of my pineapple shots made the cut for this article). I was pretty stoked to win first place in the challenge set by Canon Master Krystle Wright (@krystlejwright) with a golden hour shot of a group of people standing on a deck watching the sunset in response to her ‘open spaces’ brief.

A big part of the experience included learning how to properly edit our images. The Canon Collective crew used the Byron Community Centre as our base and had computers, printers and Adobe gurus on hand to show us how to use Lightroom like a gun. I find editing the hardest part of the photography process, so getting help from the experts was invaluable.

Take a look at my first venture into the world of manual mode below thanks to the Canon Collective crew and Canon Masters 🙂 To get involved in the Canon Collective experiences, visit canon.com.au/collective

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A massive thanks to Canon Australia for letting me be a part of their Tales by Light Festival and Canon Collective experiences. We stayed at the Apartments Inn Byron Bay – cool apartment style accommodation in the centre of town.

To get involved in the Canon Collective experiences, visit canon.com.au/collective

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As the founder of THIS ISLAND LIFE, Laura is an expert on all things summer. When she's not at home in Sydney, she's chasing the warm-weather to exotic destinations across the globe.

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