Vanuatu Smile

Small boy threatens to smash my head in with a hardwood club. Canon 5D Mark II camera and Sigma 50mm f1.4 EX DG HSM lens. Exposure Details: 1/250 second @ f3.5 ISO 2000.

Yes it’s true, this is a photo is of a small, club-wielding boy threatening to smash my face in. I suppose if the mischievous lad had actually cracked my skull, my camera would not only have been broken, but also permanently embedded into my face. It may even have replaced my face altogether, forcing me to forever view the world through a shattered lens welded to my eye socket. I’d probably come to appreciate my new crazy house of mirrors perspective of the world, but I digress. That’s because if such an event did come to pass, I would not only have been killed, but eaten. Or so was suggested in this elaborate re-enactment of European first contact with the locals of Tanna Island, Vanuatu. In retrospect, perhaps the giddy, maniacal blood lust in this kid’s eyes should have been cause for concern. Sadly, instead of resorting to hand to hand combat, my reaction was to murmur woooahh and grab a few shots. I suppose my photography has come to a point where it over-rides my survival instincts, a sad state indeed.

Luckily however, I was actually in present-day Vanuatu, a place where I can honestly say the people are the happiest and friendliest I’ve encountered on the planet. So we can just drop the whole ruse that I might actually have been decked, it’s carried on long enough! As for any more on the context surrounding the image, I’m afraid I can’t elaborate because I’ve been sworn to secrecy. So I’ll just move onto the camera settings of the shot (if you’re not interested in that just skip to the new gallery on my website from my awesome 11 days in Vanuatu).

With screaming crazy-eyed club wielding maniacs ducking and weaving all around us, I figured I’d better move my shutter speed somewhere up above 200/sec on account of their wily and rapid movements. Given that I was deep in tropical jungle however, the shade was pretty intense, so I had to crank the ISO up to around 2000 to allow that, even at f3.5. I would have liked to go a little wider on my aperture but to my great disappointment the autofocus on my sigma 50mm leaves a lot to be desired in dark conditions, meaning I figured I better go for a slightly safer f-stop. With the ISO up so high it was almost inevitable I was going to make it a black and white on account of unsightly noise. In retrospect I probably should have gone way higher on the ISO to get a faster shutter speed, but this moment was a complete surprise, and I think the result was surprisingly good!

Cheers, thanks for reading, don’t forget to RSS this blog if you’d like to keep up with it, I suggest Google Reader to manage your feeds if you’re unfamiliar with the process, it’ll rock your world. Again you can check out the full gallery of Vanuatu Smile on my website. If you want to make any kind of comments go for it. I had a great response from the Sunset Over Nouméa post, thanks for that! Next week I’m off to the Bogong Highplains in Victoria’s alpine region to do some shooting with Bogong Horseback Adventures on a 5 day horse adventure, really looking forward to that! I’m sure I’ll be getting some nice shots to put up here, and I might even make something of some panoramas I took down at Wilson’s Promontory last week which I still haven’t had the chance to process yet. Much to look forward to, it’s 1am though, so I’m going to bed.

Till next time,



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