Before & Aftereffects

A picture is worth a thousand words but a good-looking picture is worth much more

Avoid the use of poor images for your promotions. The most successful publicity photos look lifelike, convincing, and are free of distracting clutter. Professional Photoshop retouching is a great way to correct poor photos to maximise the performance of your images. Being concerned with maximising image quality whether for reasons of pride if nothing else, is beside the point, because in the end everybody wants their pictures to look good on the web and in print.

The temporary home for the Christchurch Convergence dance school post 2012 earthquake featured a makeshift dancefloor made of plywood sheets ‘joined’ with black duct tape. As a result every photo of students and classes is marred by the distracting and unwanted black grid.

The good-looking image is uncluttered by unwanted objects and blemishes

Editing out the unwanted grid in Photoshop allowed the subjects of every dance studio photo to shine out as the “hero” of the image.

To shoot candid photos of students in the dance studio, the photographer elected to shoot ‘news reportage’ style. The result is high ISO jpgs, with the aperture wide open and a shutter speed of 1/80 th of a second.

This shooting strategy does away for the need for the flash, but it results in colour images that are grainy or “noisy”. Also, because of the interior low light the skin tones even of young children will be blotchy, also unsightly colour casts of green and yellow that are less than flattering may result from shooting under fluorescent lights.

The relatively slow shutter speed increases the risk that the slightest movement of the subject or the camera will yield “soft” out of focus images, slightly blurry and lacking in sharp contrast.

Portrait photography is a genre where black & white images really shine. A good black and white treatment has a way of stripping unneeded information from an image helping to emphasize specific elements to the viewer without the distraction that colour can provide. For a dance studio website the conversion of these grainy images to black and white was an optimal choice for the hero images to be used. 

Crop and straighten photos remove blemishes and unwanted objects

This photo captures the fun of the moment in this competition performance piece, but the original has some problems.

Cleaning up the image focusses the viewers’ attention on the subject.

To download the Before & Afterimage PDF click on this photo, or this link.

Clipping portraits from their backgrounds makes them very versatile

While the poise of the dancer caught in this moment is timeless and everlasting the imperfections of the original image are so distracting they subtract from her finesse.

Recomposing the shot and cleaning it up showcases the dancer’s grace and form as well as retaining a sense of place.

Once cut away from its background an image like this one becomes a very versatile publicity image that are used for many applications for print and web.

Colour & tonal correction make the image better looking

The first thing we always want to do is fix any overall tonal and/or colour problems in the image. These are commonly called “global” problems. Images that are underexposed and lacking in contrast like this one are fixed almost instantly. The image is straightened and the background elements are extended to the edges pretty quickly too.

Removing the specific blemishes and unwanted objects from the image is fixed with more time-consuming tools that take another level of specialised skills and expertise to yield the seamless result in the great looking edited image below.

Removing the specific blemishes and unwanted objects from the image yields a seamless result.

Unwanted objects impair the quality of photos

Unwanted objects impair the quality of images, making them vanish allows the simple beauty of this candid dance lesson photo to really shine.

Unwanted elements can distract from an otherwise eye-catching photo

A good black and white treatment strips away unneccessary elements and focusses the  viewers attention on the subject.

Because of the interior low light the skintones even of young children will be blotchy, also unsightly colour casts of green and yellow that are less than flattering may result from shooting under fluorescent lights.



Posters are a form of advertising that’s accessible and are quickly developed

Professional-quality campaign poster series are developed from great looking photos in a few minutes. Compared to other forms of advertising, posters are quick, easy and accessible means of getting the word out and building the right image for your campaign.

A professional’s camera will produce images that have better focus and more intention

As a photographer when asked by clients, “Can’t I just take good pictures by myself?” of course I’m going to advocate for my profession and say, “On balance it would be best to get them taken.” What my experience as a photographer and creative designer has taught me is a few things about the knowledge skill and care that goes into shooting a great photo, beginning with having the right equipment on the spot to do the job. Relative to amateur photography on compact cameras or phone cameras, it is better and more cost-effective to get your pictures taken professionally.

©magentadot brands

Cashel Street, Pop-up Mall, night photography, post earthquake, illuminated at night by WindsorUrban luminaires and lighting poles. Photo shot for WindsorUrban website redesign and rebrand project.


Craft means you care and you know about what you are doing

With any visual communications project first and foremost it is essential to represent your identity or brand with professional imagery. MagentaDot Brands makes every effort to work with our clients so that the standard of their imagery and visual art design is to a high-quality professional standard. In addition to the photography services below;

  • Event/location photography
  • Portraits
  • Product shoots
  • Group Photos
  • Action photos

MagentaDot offers documentary and event photography as well as capturing photos that are optimised for use online or in print. Our high-resolution DSLR camera equipment allows for images to be printed in formats as large as a billboard while retaining the sharp detail and image quality. When the requirements of a photography brief are outside the range of my capabilities or photography equipment I commission photography from preferred specialist providers.

Graphic design craft

Client design and branding projects often involve the typographic styling and layout of supplied text combined with imagery. This imagery is;

  • supplied by the client , or
  • stock imagery may be utilized,
  • custom photography is shot by MagentaDot graphic designer, or
  • a photographer is commissioned to shoot original works

Because I do all the production artwork for client projects, I ensure that before graphic elements such as photos are applied to any design project, quality visual arts design and graphic design principles are applied to all imagery.

Photography workflow

I am proficient in the industry standard Adobe Creative Suite software used for graphic design and desktop publishing. For photography I use a Lightroom and Photoshop workflow to develop and post-process all imagery to the highest graphical standards.

The visual arts design applied to a graphic design project will often entail some digital compositing, such as cutting product images away from their backgrounds or using the image editing tools in Photoshop to digitally assemble multiple images to make a final composite.

Photography portfolio pages

Eldee Velocette, front three-quarter, poster, A2, portrait, CraftsmanshipFully equipped and race-ready Eldee TT Velocette Classic racing motorcycle

Velocette Racing New Zealand organisation logo. Classic racing motorcycle enthusiasts organisation brand. ‘Coca-Cola’ style sloped and looped copperplate lettering in metallic gold on a black background, consistent with the historic livery of Velocette motorcycles. Brands for New Zealand / International organisations.Publicity/launch photos presented in a slideshow documenting the transformation from the 1950s Eldee-2 to 2014 Eldee-T.T. carbon fibre racing machine representing New Zealand at the Isle of Man Classic TT, 2014.

Horizontal Directional Drilling, Tru-Line Civil, Akaroa, documentary, photography, Akaroa Water Supply Stage 3, Reticulation Upgrade, Vermeer HDD,Horizontal directional drilling (HDD) Akaroa

Tru-Line Civil Logo. Brands for New Zealand companies, Greymouth, New Zealand.Documentary photography chronicling HDD installation method for new drinking , Tru-Line Civil. The slideshow documents the drilling of a pilot bore and the subsequent back reaming of a 120m long drinking water supply pipeline up to the summit of Coachmans Road, Akaroa

The 125mm pilot drill bit and HDD unit. Horizontal Directional Drilling, Tru-Line Civil, documentary photography, Parklands West, Christchurch, New Zealand, Gravity Wastewater Replacement, HDD.HDD Parklands West

Tru-Line Civil Logo. Brands for New Zealand companies, Greymouth, New Zealand.Continuing the ongoing project to photograph TruLine Civil’s range of work methodologies and then follow through by writing them up as Case Studies on their website.

Gallery mock-up of shots from the Kinetics portfolio.Phil Price Kinetics (PKP) gallery

This portfolio represents a selection of “personal best” images from an 8-year ongoing collaboration between myself and Phil Price (Phil Price Sculpture and MagentaDot Brands).

Planting_Tree_of_Life__Phil_Price_Kinetics-2682Phil Price Kinetics “Tree of Life” installation, Melbourne

The large scale, wind-activated kinetic sculpture “Tree of Life” is a major, permanent Public Artwork designed and made by Phil Price of Christchurch, New Zealand. This portfolio chronicles two days work in Karingal, Melbourne by Phil, his highly skilled employees and sub-contractors installing this major work in Melbourne, Australia, December 2012.

Zephyrometer_Phil_Price_Kinetics-0897Phil Price Kinetics Zephyrometer gallery

Zeph’ is a civic sculpture made by Christchurch artist Phil Price and was installed in 2003. It is a wind-and-gravity-activated kinetic sculpture consisting of a 3250 kg ‘balanced’ lead counterweight housed in a durable composite shell fixed to a gimbal at the base of a 26m tall needle.

Zephyrometer_reinstall_Titan_crane-0411Phil Price Kinetics Zephyrometer re-installation

April 10–11, 2014—After 11 years in action Zephyrometer was removed, fully refurbished and then re-installed in Evans Bay, Wellington, New Zealand.

Superior Hummer Limousines, A2 Poster art, display, Promotional design and advertising, digital illustration, photography

Hummer Limos poster: arrive in style

Superior Hummer Limousines letter replacement logo in two colours, black and dark grey on white. "Superior" is set in Javelin a joined-up slab serif italic font inspired 50s automobile badging, positioned above and left of Hummer which is set in all-caps. The first "M" in hummer is replaced by a line drawing of the front elevation of the Hummer. Hummer and Limousines words both set all caps in custom modified Antique Olive Nord font, horizontally extended consistent with Hummer branding. "Superior Hummer" are black, Limousines is dark grey, tucked in below Hummer, aligned right. Brands for New Zealand companies, Christchurch New Zealand.The “Wow!” factor of the stretch Hummer limo, the largest of its type in Christchurch, means that the vehicle is a real head-turner, literally its own best advertisment.

When waiting to pick-up or dropping off clients the unique Super-Stretch Black Hummer Limousine garners a lot of attention from passers-by. In addition to handing out the “Welcome aboard” brochure to prospective clients, the brochure artwork is designed to double as a pair of A2 promotional posters or advertisements. These display posters are used at trade shows and wedding shows, as well as mounted back-to-back on a display sandwich board information sign that is carried on board the stretch Hummer. At the chauffeur’s discretion these promotional poster advertisments are placed beside the vehicle. Handing prospective customers a business card and directing them to the signs saves the chauffeur from the ‘Groundhog Day’ experience of having to have the same conversation a dozen times a day with passers by.


Project name: Superior Hummer Limousines promotional poster
Client (Industry):
 Superior Hummer Limousines (Travel & transportation)
Disciplines: Copywriting / Digital Illustration / Photography / Print production / Promotional design and advertising / Typographic design
Format: Poster / Corporate communication / Direct mail
Date: 2010

Riding in style, the brand communications strategy

In 2010, the Superior Hummer Limos black super-stretch Hummer was only the third to enter operation in Christchurch. Two established firms had stretch Hummers in operation for a year or so. SHL’s limo was the first black super-stretch Hummer to enter the Christchurch market. Entering the already well served market presented a unique brand communications challenge and opportunity. The two incumbent operators promotional material rested entirely on the obvious novelty value and “wow!” factor of the vehicle’s exterior, along with their established positions in the limousine hire, wedding car hire and corporate transport operators industry.

You only get one chance to make a first impression

The colours of the Canterbury region, Christchurch City, and The Crusaders rugby team are red and black. Art directing the colour story of the website, and printed matter to be red and black, the decision to photograph the stretch Hummer in picturesque signature Christchurch locations—this creative direction was the product of the marketing communications strategy developed for SHL. Thorough research into the stretch Hummer limo market niche worldwide informed the creation of a coordinated set of original, punchy positioning statements. Combining these ‘headline’ statements with the big, graphical images we shot made for entertaining and informative printed brand collateral, and a strong design alliance between print and web which strongly connects customers with our client and contributed much to the establishment and ongoing success of a great Christchurch brand.


Printer: Art Fetiche Signs
Design firm: MagentaDot Brands
Copywriter: Shaun Waugh
Creative director / designer / photographer: Shaun Waugh
Font credits: Antique Olive Nord, Javelin

Jewelled gecko: Crafty low-tech screenprint

Documentary photos of our ‘Surface Active Art-to-Wear’ auto design and printmaking work method shot in 1995

Mail_order_catalogue_1991Surface Active was an auto-printmaking, craft and design business established in 1986 by Chrissie Terpstra and Shaun Waugh. Our continuing aim as Surface Active was to celebrate wonderful, natural New Zealand—the featured creatures in our range are unique and beautiful and we try to convey something of their preciousness with our art & craft.

How did we do it? Hours spent at the drawing board, artfully rendering each separate colour to give vibrancy and detail (Shaun). Crafty low-tech, hand-pulled screenprinting techniques allowed us to create finely detailed designs, brought to life on the garment (Chrissie)—wild art to wear.

Jewelled_Gecko_mail_order_catalogue_14It was a great job and we got to do it!

We used quality, pure cotton garments, locally manufactured in Canterbury. Ours was a 100% kiwi-made product and, given the right treatment, lasted for years.

The letter below, written by Chrissie best introduces this portfolio that chronicles one of the more complex Surface Active wildlife art designs from the drawing board to screenprinted garment.

December 1991
Dear Surface Dweller,

what began 6 years ago as a printing hobby on the kitchen table has now expanded to encompass the lounge, spare bedroom, laundry, garage and the whole of the back shed.

We are committed to producing original & indigenous designs of the highest design and printing standards, providing a more interesting and beautiful product than your average tee—wearable art that celebrates the unique assets of New Zealand.

Using our Flat Earth, Low Tech printing hardware, we have painstakingly perfected our craft, printing 6 colour blends and finely detailed designs like no other can (or will). They take a bit longer to produce but the results are worth it. We are proud to be using high quality locally manufactured garments.

The overwhelming encouragement we receive from our customers tells us that we must be doing it right.

Year-round you can find Surface Active at the the Christchurch Arts Centre Market (open Sat. & Sun.), we wholesale to selected shops from North Cape to Bluff and now in our Glorious Technicolour Mail Order Catalogue, we present you the fruits of our labour.

Actively Yours,
Shaun Waugh (Boss)
Chrissie Terpstra (Bossier)

This portfolio is a work in progress, please visit again…


Documentary Photos: Thanks to a young woman, student of Fine Arts at Ilam, University of Canterbury
Crafty screenprinters: Deborah McDonald, Chrissie Terpstra
Gecko Illustration reference photos: Rod Morris