Jay Daley


Jay Daley (@jay_a_daley) is a self-taught Sydney-based photographer with a passion for packing his tent and getting off the beaten track to explore wild and remote scenery from around the world. Over the past decade, Jay has traveled to some of the most remote parts of Australia, South America, China and the arctic to find and share exotic locations with others. His images include night photography, landscape photography and most recently, aerial drone photography. Jay’s love for adventure and nature drives him to inspire others to get outside. He is passionate about educating, contributing his experience in photography and collaborating with others who share his enthusiasm.

Landscape Photography with Lume Cubes and Jay Daley

Q: Where are you from? Where do you live now?

A: I’m an Aussie. I grew up in a little beachy town on the east coast and now live in Sydney NSW.

Q: What is your full - time profession?

A: I’m a product marketing manager for an Australian based software company. We build software that helps retailers connect their online and offline channels into a seamless consumer experience.

Q: How long have you been involved in photography?

A: I’ve had a keen interest in photography since I was in high school but the defining point was when it moved from an interest to a passion that happened around 12 years ago.

Q: How did you get into photography? Tell us the whole story. 

A: You’re probably going to need to get comfy. I had been given a cheap Minolta film camera and never used it. I liked the whole ‘filmography’ idea and figured maybe I’d have more fun with a video camera so I started saving up.

Minolta had just been taken over by Sony, and their first DSLR, the Sony A100, was about to be released. I’d read about it and thought it was cool, but my heart was set on a video camera which, at the time, was about $1,000 more. Then I saw a sale at a local store. I had saved up the exact right amount for the DSLR but still had months to go for the video camera and that was it.

Patience was never a virtue of mine and I’m glad it wasn’t because I fell in love with that camera. I had no idea how to use it, so I bought a second-hand book on photography and started teaching myself. The more I learned the more I enjoyed it and before I knew it I had a tripod and camera bag and I was out every morning before work, practicing and learning.

Q: How did you get into landscape photography?

A: I gravitated towards landscape photography right from the beginning, not for wanderlust but because it was the most accessible subject to shoot and practice with.

In the following years as my photography matured, I expanded my genres. I was breaking into old abandoned warehouses to shoot graffiti, I was shooting fashion and I even started and ran a successful wedding photography business for a few years.

Landscapes remained my go-to when I needed to switch off and I think that’s why I’m where I am today. Photography is a passion and landscape photography is an opportunity for me to take that passion out into the wild, to see mother nature at her best or worst and to explore amazing places while doing something I love.

What’s more, landscape photography is boundless, it’s a truly endless pursuit where you’re at the complete mercy of the natural environment and there is simply no perfect shot.

Q: What was the key to learning what your voice/vision in photography is?

A: This is a good question because it’s one I’ve wrestled with since the early mornings with my first DSLR and, to be honest, I’m still not convinced I can answer it. Even today, when the majority of my work is a single genre, I’m not yet sure I have an identifiable style.

In a roundabout way with a little self-reflection, I think that’s my learning. My photographic vision is to give my images a voice. To find a way to convey what I felt at the time I shot them. I’ve spent too long questioning my authenticity as a real photographer without an identifiable look or characteristic to my shots but, maybe that is just my style.

Q: The Passage of time, and recording or making that passage seems to be an important element in your images - How did that come to be an important part of your photography?

A: That’s an interesting observation, so thank you. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of capturing a scene in a different way than it’s been previously captured.

Long exposures and astrophotography give me the chance to apply a different set of technical attributes to my images, they’re also a lot of fun. I guess this all comes back to my ambition of channeling an identity and personality to my images.

Landscape Photography Light

Q: And when did you add aerial photography to your interests?

A: My first drone was in early 2016. Drone photography had been around for a little while and I had been watching it closely, but it was still in its infancy. My reservation had been the lack of a decent camera option so the tipping point for me was the release of the DJI Inspire 1Pro with the micro 4/3rds X5 camera. I haven’t looked back since then.

Q: How did using drones change your photography? 

A: It hasn’t changed it, it’s added to it and it’s added a lot. Landscape photography is all about light so being on location at sunrise or sunset is so important and that hasn’t changed for me.

Shooting from a drone alleviates some of this light dependency so now I can finish a morning shoot and then put my drone up. In the past, I would have been on my way home the moment the sun was above the horizon but now I can use my drone to re-shoot the scene I just captured but from an entirely different point of view and come away with 2 or 3 shots instead of 1.

What’s more, drones have opened a whole swag of new options for me. Beaches and pools aren’t always too interesting on the ground but can make for amazing images from above.

Q: What's in your camera bag right now?

A: I was a Nikon boy for many years but now I’ve gone full circle back Sony. In my bag right now is:

Two Sony A7Rll’s
Voigtlander 12mm f5.6
Laowa 15mm f2
Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f2.8
Zeiss Loxia 21mm f2.8
Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm f1.8
Sony FE 85mm f1.8
Three Lume Cubes
DJI Phantom 4 Pro

Q: Do you have any advice for someone just starting out in landscape photography or aerial photography? 

A: With drones becoming so accessible there’s a big movement towards aerial photography which is fantastic, but it feels like a lot of people are trying to run before they can walk.

My biggest piece of advice for anyone starting out in aerial photography would be to learn the principles of photography. Spend some time learning the difference between shooting an image at 1/400th + ISO 800 vs 1/50th + ISO 100.

For anyone with a passion for landscape photography, my advice wouldn’t be too dissimilar. All landscape photographers will agree that for every great shot they’ve taken, there’s been many that never made the cut.

It’s about persistence and finding a way to take learning out of every experience. I’ve driven through an entire night and come away without a single photo many times, but every landscape photographer needs those failed endeavors to grow and improve.

Q: What's your favorite quote?

A: I’m a bit of a quote junkie so I’ve got a few. This one is from an unknown author:
The best views come after the hardest climb.

It’s always true on the mountain but, in a metaphorical way, it seems to be pretty true in life as well.

Q: You've been experimenting with Lume Cubes on the DJI Phantom 4 Pro - Can you tell us a little bit about your experience? 

A: Crazy fun!

The drone doesn’t feel nearly as weighted down as I thought it would and controlling the cubes from my phone on the ground is amazing.

I’ve got a long list of shots I want to do by using the cubes on the drone to illuminate a subject that I’ll shoot from my camera on the ground. I’ve tried a few and have loved them.

Q: What do Lume Cube let you do either with your aerial or landscape photography you weren't able to do previously?

A: I’ve had a lot of experience using flashes over the years and there are many creative applications for them but they’re bulky and need wireless triggers.

Up until now, I’d usually forego my flashes unless I had a specific shot in mind but now I’ve got 3 Lume Cubes permanently in my bag.

They take up less room then a lens, I don’t need any wireless triggers and they’re easy enough to perch on a rock or in a tree meaning I don’t need a separate light stand or tripod just to use them off-camera.

Q: Can you describe how you made your favorite image with Lume Cube? 

A: It was such an amazing night. We were in northern Norway, racing around chasing the aurora.

We stopped at a bridge to shoot a lake off to the side and I decided to sit on the road in front of my camera holding the cubes. My camera was on a timer and I let the light from the cubes pierce out around me to form a kind of backlight.

Night Landscape Photography with Lume Cube

Q: Any recommendations on how to get the most of some Lume Cube while learning?

A: Two cubes open up more creative possibilities than one because you can experiment with moving the cubes to shape the light differently.

Familiarise yourself with the app as well, I can’t explain how far it feels like we’ve come with lighting when I use the app. Finally, spend time learning how to modify artificial lighting using exposure. For example, adjusting the shutter speed or ISO is very different then adjusting the aperture if you’re triggering the cubes and different again if you’re using the cubes as constant light.

Q: Describe Lume Cube in 5 words or less.

A: Easy, fun and creative.