Images of a Big Island

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Goodbye to a Friend

Hi Everybody,

Last night I received the sad news that an old friend had passed away. I have previously posted about the Ellis Brothers here. Alec Ellis passed away earlier this year and Mort suddenly died a couple of days ago at the ripe old age of 98!

Like their brother Ossie, they were still active at the time of their passing so thankfully they all died ‘with their boots on’, Mort had been down to the nearest town, Sheffield, to get some groceries earlier in the week and looked fine according to a friend.

Thankfully, I had called in to see him back in August when I was last in Tasmania and  he was still in fine form, living simply in his shack at Cradle Mountain, expounding passionately on the evils of man’s greed and it’s effect on the natural world, still tinkering with his perpetual motion machine.

Simply Living

Axeman, trapper, cheesemaker, fisherman, miner, sawmiller, ferry-captain, these were just some of the occupations that Mort found himself in during a knock-about life  that had it’s fair share of hard times. Tough men during tough times, but for all that, Mort,Alec & Ossie were incredibly generous, with a twinkle in their eye and a humour that was uniquely Tasmanian.

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When I last saw him, Mort was a little bemused to find himself on the cover of a book, “Through Their Eyes- Glimpses of a Changing Australia” by Lucy Taylor, Published by Brigalow Press in which the author had travelled Australia recording the stories of people such as Mort. Well worth reading to hear the perspective of a generation that has seen more change than any other!

This time I didn’t make any photographs of Mort, in the past he has been very patient & generous with me and I was able to capture some nice shots of him and I have some great memories of a good friend to me & my late father.

Although he was not particularly sentimental and he always maintained that there was no ‘afterlife’ as many people would like to believe, I hope that if there is, he catches up with my father and his two brothers over a cold Boag’s or two and have some of those spirited debates that they were all so fond of having!

Mort Ellis

R.I.P. Mate.


A Lesson in Lighting!

Hi All,

Apologies for being absent lately, I just haven’t been doing anything particularly noteworthy over the last month. However, just recently I had the pleasure of spending some time with a Fender steel guitar and some handmade timber guitar stands which are made by a friend of mine.

These items are both works of art  but photographing them was an exercise in controlling & shaping light to show them both at their best!

I had the guitar for a couple of days before the stands arrived so I had a little play with a couple of speedlites, coloured gels and a white wall to see what I could come up with.

ShiningThis was one of the early images I got before I decided to get a little more adventurous with a red gelled speedlight bounced off a wall.

FenderI quickly learnt that polished steel will show up any imperfections pretty quickly so I spent a lot of time wiping off fingerprints! The other thing I learnt was that  even though you need a broad area of light (ie bounced flash) it was sometimes the smallest angle change that made all the difference to the reflection on the guitar.

When the stands arrived I had an idea that a spotlight type of lighting similar to a stage might work ok  so a snooted Speedlite held above the stand  gave me the light to show the stand to advantage without light going all over the place!

A Fender Guitar sits in a handmade Mantis Guitar Stand.The guitar need another speedlite fired through a diffusion panel on the floor to camera right. Both flashes were were in manual mode & fired by wireless triggers.

Mantis StandOnce again it was a game of small adjustments and the best way to attack this  is to adjust one flash at a time  and build it up from there. The end result was what I was aiming for and my friend was more than happy!

The Mantis Guitar Stands are more a piece of furniture than something you would use at a gig. Each  one is hand-crafted from re-cycled boatbuilding timbers such as Huon Pine, Mackay Cedar,Teak  & Beech to name a few. Steam bent and laminated with epoxy glues, each stand is an individual. 374July 09, 2014-Edit

 

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They really are a beautiful piece of work  and I hope the images do them justice! If anybody would like some more info, send an email to wokkasmith @bigpond.com

I’m off to Tasmania for a couple of weeks, see you when I get back!

 


The Beach

Some days you just have to walk out the door!

The BeachYesterday at a secluded bay not too far from home. Just another shitty day in paradise!


Flash Car Eh!

As I mentioned recently I seem to have fallen down a hole that involves artificial lighting, more specifically, Off Camera Flash or Strobism if you like. In theory it sounds fairly easy to get your head around but in practice it is a mine field at times! You need to look at light in a whole different way than you are used to and start to see the nuances in light which most of us take for granted.

I have been studying the Masters of Light ( Joe McNally, David Hobby and a whole bunch of others) and then gone out to try and put some of that theory into practice, with some truly horrible results at times (Slow learner!) and the rare success that keeps me going on this Quixotic quest!

I recently stumbled across a Perth photographer by the name of Brodie Butler who does some outstanding work with cars and glamorous girls and shares some of that knowledge on his blog. Although most of the work he does involves Elinchrom Studio Flash, great car images can be done with Speedlights and imagination!

I had a crack at an auto shoot the other evening with my two 580 EXII Speedlights and I am pretty pleased with the result!

Elantra

Ok, it’s not a Lamborghini, but this represents a significant upward tic on my learning curve!

A lot of auto images are shot at dawn or dusk using the sky as a gigantic softbox and take advantage of the sky reflecting of the polished panels and windows of the car.

Queensland,Whitsundays,sunset,Hyundai Elantra,Strobist,Light was not quite as well balanced on this one, but I can see what needs to be done! Now all I need is a Supermodel and a Porsche!

 


Blood Moon

Hi Everybody,

Once again, apologies for my absence! An infection in my leg has forced me to spend a lot of time off my feet over the last couple of weeks, so photography has been on the back- burner for a while. 😦

I was sorting through some recent images shot before all this happened when I came across this one of the ‘Blood Moon’ that happened a couple of months ago. This particular blood moon happened at moonrise on the full moon, so the moon was very dark  for about 20- 30 mins after sunset. By the time I could actually see it, it was nearly dark and this image had a 30s exposure time at is0800, so there was movement in the moon over that period.

In the interests of experimentation, I decided to see if I could perhaps improve the image with a stationary moon.

After cloning out the original moon I dropped in another full moon that I had on file with a red & yellow gradient over the selected moon. After a couple of false starts I finally got the moon to look as close as possible to the original and ended up with this image.

Blood Moon


Lest We Forget (Part 2)

Before heading to Ypres for Anzac Day, I had been doing some research  to find out more about the Ypres Salient and Australia’s involvement. I discovered that about 20 km south of Ypres, amongst all the other Commonwealth War Cemeteries lay one of the only two Australian only cemeteries on the whole Western Front. Ploegsteert or ‘Plug Street’ as it was known to the Allied soldiers  was  the sight of some intensive combat and also one of the first places where the Germans deployed the deadly Mustard Gas.

The fact that an all Tasmanian company – with men from the same district as my family came from – had been mentioned by an official historian sealed my decision to visit the site.

Traveling through the Flemish country side, it was hard to reconcile the peaceful farm lands of today with what surely must have been the closest thing to hell on earth back then. Only the stark white headstones of the numerous Commonwealth War Cemeteries scattered over the landscape gave any indication of the bitter struggle that had happened here. it was also sobering to reflect on the fact that the remains of thousands of young men on both sides lay beneath these fields, but had disappeared, perhaps forever.

It was a suitably gloomy day as we found our way down country lanes and a final short walk through the woods to find this peaceful last resting place of some Australian Diggers, ironically in a cemetery called Toronto Avenue.

In Flander's Fields

 

In this quiet little corner of the woods lay the immaculately kept ( as all Commonwealth War Graves are)  resting places of  78 Australian soldiers (mostly from NSW). Wreaths had been laid at the central Memorial and each headstone had a small plywood cross inscribed with a message from schoolchildren back in Australia. Even in this far-flung corner of the world they were remembered by their countrymen.

At the end of one of the rows of headstones was a poignant  reminder of family bonds. Private J.S Luff had left behind a young family in 1917, in 2013 his Grandchildren had paid him a visit to leave old photos of that family and to let him know that he had not been forgotten.

Remembrance

 

 


Lest We Forget (Part 1)

April 25th is a very special day in Australia. ANZAC Day is a day that commemorates all the Military personnel who did not make it home from the various theatres of war that Australia & New Zealand have sent troops to since the Boer War at the beginning of the 20th century.

ANZAC actually stands for the Australian & New Zealand Army Corps that was formed in Egypt in 1915 and sent to fight in the ill fated Gallipoli  campaign in Turkey in WW1. It was there that the ANZAC legend was  born and the Australian Diggers are remembered with a traditional Dawn Service and street parades throughout Australia.

Australian troops were involved in the horrors of the Western Front in Europe, where for four long years the opposing sides waged bloody & futile trench warfare with neither side able to score a decisive victory while whole towns were sometimes wiped off the map in the heavy shelling. ANZAC Day is also commemorated in small towns in Northern France where there are many Australians buried.

This time last year, I was in Belgium and had a loose plan of being in France for Anzac Day. When I mentioned this to some Belgian friends, a town called Ypres in Flanders was mentioned as having ANZAC Day ceremonies and that the Last Post was played every evening. I vaguely remembered reading about Ypres and WW1 so I thought “Why not”?

The Ypres Salient was a part of the Western Front that  is not as well known about in Australia as Gallipoli or the battlefields of Northern France, yet there are many Commonwealth War Cemetaries, large & small, scattered throughout the peaceful farming lands of Western Flanders in which Australians are buried

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The Menin Gate in Ypres is a huge Memorial to the 55,000 Allied soldiers who fought & died in  this part of the Western Front and have no known grave. Each of their names are inscribed on the walls of this Memorial.

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Of that number, approximately 6000 are Australian, 7000 Canadian, but the majority are by far from Great Britain. It is indeed a humbling experience to walk around this Memorial and when you think about the numbers of men who lost their lives during this futile ,bloody conflict, the thought inevitably comes that those who glorify war have really missed the point & perhaps the politicians who send young people to war should be sent into the battle themselves!

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Winston Churchill , when he first saw the  utterly ruined town of Ypres, said that the town should be purchased and left in it’s ruined state as a reminder to future generations never to let a conflict like this happen again. The citizens of Ypres had a different view and so the Menin Gate was built to honour those who had disappeared into the Flanders mud. Sadly, the world did not learn from this madness!

After the town was rebuilt, the citizens of Ypres have honoured the Allied soldiers who were stationed in the area, every evening (apart from during WW2) by playing the Last Post. ANZAC Day  draws large crowds to remember the fallen from the ‘War to end all Wars’!

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Lest We Forget

 

 

 

 


Singapore Lights

Hi Everybody,

For those of you still following this blog, many apologies for the lack of posts recently! I fell down a rabbit hole and have been absorbed in teaching myself about Off-Camera Flash which has been an interesting journey full of frustration punctuated by the occasional AH-HA moment! I will post some more about that at a later date once I have climbed back out of the hole and let it all rattle around in the vacant space between my ears for a while.

In the meantime, fellow blogger True North Mark recently posted some great images of Singapore which inspired me to dust off and post some images that I shot on my way home from Europe last year.

Fantasy Land

Strangers in a Strange Land

Singapore Sunset

Convergence

Helix Bridge

Singapore is an amazing place to photograph, my list of shots that I still want to capture is ever increasing. Hope you like them!

 


Skye Boatyard 2

Hi all,

It’s been a filthy couple of days outside due to a Tropical Low/cyclone which has been wandering around the Coral Sea for the last week, trying to decide whether it will cross the coast or not!

Recently I upgraded from Lightroom 3 to LR 5, so, while the weather has been wet & wild, I have been going back over some of my files to see what difference it makes. Without going into too much boring detail, the upgrade was well worth it with some new tools such as the Radial Filter  and a revamp of exsisting tools such as the Spot Removal giving you more options  for tweaking your images.

One tool I have been impressed with is the Highlight Slider which is brilliant for retaining detail in  skies which I was always struggling with especially when conditions were light o/cast skies. It is nearly like finding an extra two stops of dynamic range in your camera!

The Clarity slider has had a makeover as well and they seem to have put it on turbo so it needs to be used carefully unless you want mid-tone contrast to make your images look like they have a sandpaper texture applied.

I have previously posted about this Skye Boatyard, while having a look at some files I played with these two different viewpoints of the same scene.

Abandoned

Waiting

For me, they really bring back the bleak & forlorn weather & scenery of that day!


Go Fly a Kite II

A couple more images of the kiteboarders for your viewing pleasure!

Lift Off

High Flyer


Go Fly a Kite!

G’day All,

Sorry for the absence over the last month, I have been away from home for medical treatment. Not as bad as it sounds, treatment only took about an hour out of my day and then I had lots of time to explore!

Townsville is a large city in Far North Queensland which I had visited briefly or passed through many times over the years. This time I had lots of time to find out a bit more about the city & surrounding beaches.

Along the way I got to meet some people who make the most of the winds that most others take for granted or rarely notice at all. This mob attach themselves to rather large kites, step onto small boards, tear across the water at blistering speeds and if they are skilled enough will launch themselves into the air at regular intervals,usually turning themselves inside out in the process. Kiteboarders!

Visually, it is a spectacular sport,photographing it is a another thing entirely. In a past life, I shot a lot of surfing & sailboarding where the action & colour is contained and reasonably predictable, kiteboarding is much faster, less predictable, and the colourful bits (kite) are a long way from the action (surfer) making it difficult to get them both in the same frame!

These are a couple of shots I managed to get and maybe will give you an idea why these guys love the sport!

Slash!

On The Edge

The Need for Speed!

If someone tells you to go fly a kite, this is a pretty good option!

If you are into kiteboarding, and find yourself in Townsville, call in & see Marvin at In The Loop Kiteboarding, Gregory St, North Ward (near The Strand)


Edinburgh Cathedral

G’day Everybody,

                          I hope you all had a Happy & Safe Festive Season and made lots of great images!

 For most Europeans, large cathedrals are probably a bit ho-hum, but for most Aussies, they are not something we see on a regular basis.

So when we travel to Europe we go a little culture crazy, visiting cathedrals,castles and other large old buildings whenever we can! I am no exception and having a camera gives me even more reason.

I had a couple of hours to kill in Edinburgh before catching a flight back to Brussels. Couldn’t leave my luggage at the station so decided to wander around for a little while. Within 10 minutes I came across this magnificent cathedral and managed to get a few images with the 24mm Tilt-Shift lens. The young lady obligingly decided to catch some sun in the arch and gave the image a sense of scale!

Image


Ho, Ho, Ho!

All the Best from Downunder!

Xmas CardSee you all next year!


Whitsunday Moonrise

Well, it has been a long 6 weeks of rest & recuperation after  surgery but I am slowly getting out & about more regularly!

This is one of the first images I have shot for ages and is one I have had in my mind for quite a while,but the moon hasn’t been in the right place until last night’s full moon when it all came together at last! There is something magical about the moon rising over the Whitsunday Islands on a balmy tropical evening, reflecting across the water, a sight I never tire of!

La Luna

All the Best for Christmas & New Year to you all, make it a Happy & Safe  one!


Still here!

Hi Everybody,

you may have noticed a lack of posts over the last month! Unfortunately I have been playing medical merry-go-round  with a couple of visits to hospital! 😦

Still not 100% but slowly on the mend and hope to be out shooting again soon. Just before this all started,I was in the process of building a website at www.whitsundayphotos.com

It’s still a work in progress but I would be interested in any feedback as to what you think, good,bad or indifferent, leave your comments here on the blog.

Cheers,

Tim


Quiraing

These are images of an area in NE Skye called the Quiraing which is an area of huge landslips. In fact the area pictured is still slipping to this day! It’s a surreal, almost Tolkiensque landscape that I had to myself for an hour or so and the howling gale just added to the wild, untamed feel of the place. On more friendly days it is very popular with walkers for obvious reasons.

Being careful not to get too close to cliff edges in case I got blown off, I managed to get a couple of shots that were fleetingly lit by the sun peeking through the racing clouds which was just above me. An exhilarating photo session indeed!

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White Houses

One thing I loved about driving around Scotland was the farmhouses, they just seem to suit the landscape perfectly no matter what the weather! White is the universal colour, chosen because it’s cheap and easy to re-apply.    I would drive through a landscape devoid of trees and buildings and around the next corner there would sit a white house as a counterpoint to all the dun coloured grasses covering the slopes.

These are a couple of images I managed to get on a blustery morning in the north of Skye,blowing a gale and frequent showers!

Skye Line

 

 

Hebrides Highlands

It’s a pretty dramatic landscape, but the buildings help define it and give it more context, don’t you think?


Skye Boat

I am a great one for heading down side roads just to see what’s there. In Scotland, once you are on the road track you are commited to the end as they are so narrow!

Sometimes you find something interesting, often it’s a bust. This road ended at a rather non-descript jetty & boat ramp but as I looked around I spotted a rather different boatyard than in my last post.

_MG_0030-Edit-2Loved the Scottish colours (blue & white) as well as the rock enclosures but what really intrigued me was the stone anchors which I guess was to stop these heavy boats being blown away by the strong winds which these islands are subject to!


Skye Boatyard

My first night on Skye was spent at Kyleakin which is near the end of the Skye Bridge. I decided to go for a walk out to the ruins of Castle Moil and came across this boatyard which had seen better days. The lowering leaden sky and the cries of the gulls seemed to suit the melancholy look of this place so I spent the next half hour here. Never did make it out to the ruins!

Skye BoatyardCastle Moil is in the background, legend has it that it was built in the 15th century for a Norwegian princess called ‘Saucy Mary’ who would hang a chain across the narrow strait and charge a toll on boats trying to use the strait!

 


Full Moon Rising

Full Moon RisingThis is an image I shot at moonrise last night. I actually saw this image the night before during that brief period when the eastern sky gets a beautiful magenta glow and you can actually see the earth’s shadow.

Couldn’t do much about it at the time as I was on the road, but I returned the next night knowing I would probably need to take a range of images and blend them together to re-create what I had seen the night before.

Remember that the moon rises approx. 50 mins later each night, so I knew that the moon would be too low in the sky during the 10min of Magenta glow.

Following, are the 3 images I took to get to the final image you see above.

_MG_0006September 19, 2013_MG_0007September 19, 2013_MG_0015September 19, 2013The first image was taken to get the best exposure for the foreground, the second image was exposed for the sky, you can see that colour happening in the sky! Notice that the moon hasn’t even appeared yet, now I just need to wait for it and shoot with a 200mm lens.

By the time it is high enough in the sky which is about 20mins later everything else is getting pretty dark but that is ok, all I need is an exposure to get detail in the moon.

After a little work in Lightroom to get each image where I want them, I import the first 2 images into Photoshop where I can exchange the sky in the first image with the darker sky in the second image using a Quick Selection and a Layer Mask

After flattening the image I apply a curves adjustment which as a side effect saturates the sky a little bit more, but I don’t mind that.

Next, I import the moon image and and reduce it’s size by 25% so it fits the image better. Select All, Copy and then Paste it on top of the blended foreground image. Using the Move tool I can then put  the moon wherever I like, in this case I put it a little bit higher in the sky to better balance the image

I then change the blend mode of the Moon layer to Screen and voila, the black sky disappears leaving that moon just hanging in the sky about where it was in reality. It is a little bright so I drop the Opacity to about 70% and flatten the image.

This is what Full Moonrise actually looked like.

Full MoonShot with a TS-E 24mm.


Highland Drive

The drive between Fort Williams & the Isle of Skye through the Western Highlands would have to be one of the most spectacular that I have done so far!  Overviews of the Nevis Range are the first that you just have to stop for before heading down to Glen Shiel.

Ben Nevis

After heading along the shores of Loch Cluanie, the Cluanie Inn is a welcome stop for a bite and coffee. Their Bar stock over 200 varieties of Malt Whiskey, which I am rather partial to but the views of the surrounding ranges was what got my attention!

The Highlands

I was struggling to find a decent foreground for this image and had to settle for a clump of rocks poking out of the grassland but this is typical highland country, as you can see there are not many trees.

Heading on down Glen Shiel, I spied this old bridge which is part of the old military road built around the 1750’s. Not far from here is the site of one of the last battles of the Jacobite Uprising where British forces defeated a combined force of Spaniards & Jacobites in 1719. Rob Roy Macgregor was involved in the battle and managed to evade the British.

Glen Shiels

Seriously, this whole area is a postcard around every corner!


Kilchurn B&W

Just having a play with a B&W version.

Kilchurn

What do you think, does it work?


Castle Kilchurn

Of course,no visit to the UK or Scotland is complete without castles of which there are quite a few. One of the most famous in Scotland is Eilean Donan near the Isle of Skye but that was festooned in scaffolding.

Castle Kilchurn sits on the shores of Loch Awe, dates from around 1450 and was the ancestral home of the Campbells of Glen Orchy. Originally, it sat on a small island which is now connected to the mainland after water levels were adjusted in the Loch.

After many alterations and a sometimes turbulent history it was abandoned in1760 after being badly damaged by lightning.

Castle Kilchurn

Once again, weather was not my friend! it had been blowing a gale with light rain most of the day. I walked down to the Loch edge during a break in the rain and as I set up, the sun broke through. A light sun shower forced me to cover the camera so at one stage I had the castle with great light on one side, a brilliant rainbow on the other and I was getting rained on!

Of course, when the rain stopped, the great light disappeared as well! Scottish photogs must have the patience of saints!

 


Pushing my Luck!

“Whitsunday Magic” pictured here is a bit of a jinx ship! She was bought out from Turkey and for a few years was one of the largest vessels in the Whitsunday charter fleet, (I was briefly one of her skippers) before mysteriously sinking at the wharf. After refloating she was sold to someone who had plans to turn it into a floating restaurant down on the Sunshine Coast. After basic repairs they set off, only to have engine trouble shortly after and decided to return to Airlie Beach where the boat sat on anchor for quite a while until earlier this year when  the remnants of TC Oswald created havoc along the Queensland Coast.

“Whitsunday Magic” was driven ashore along with many others and has stayed there since with the tide flowing in & out of her hull. I took advantage of the lowest tides of the year to walk out to her across the sand/mud flats & see if I could get some interesting images.

Beached

After this shot I waded out a bit for a different angle & that’s where it all went pear-shaped! While trying to extricate my sandal from the mud that I was slowly sinking into, I lost my balance, ended up on my knees and my 5D Mk II with 24mm TS-E came perilously close to going for a swim. Unfortunately they did get a bit of a light shower so the 5D is on it’s way  to hospital as I type this!

I guess it would have looked pretty funny to anyone who might have been watching, but at the time………………….