Here in the Whitsundays we have had some unseasonal weather for the last couple of weeks with strong winds & showers that just seemed to hang around forever! Not much fun if you are out on the water, but, as they say,” every cloud has a silver lining”. In this case,quite a few rainbows have appeared.
Frustrating and ephemeral things they are to capture. Firstly there needs to be rain AND sun, hopefully in the right positions relative to you. I have spent many a frustrating minute chasing rainbows over the years, with precious little in the way of ‘killer shots’ to show for it!
However, while looking through my archive I realised that I have a few nice images, so I thought I would post some of my better ones! Hope you like them.
Tip- To make a rainbow really glow with nuclear colour, a polariser is the way to go. You can even make a rainbow disappear!
Back in the days before trains and trucks much of Europe’s goods were transported by water. Holland,Belgium & France have extensive canal systems which are still used to transport materials to & from their North Sea ports today.
The U.K. also has an extensive canal system. Although it is not used so much for heavy transport today, it is still well utilised by canal boats that have been converted to live aboard mobile homes.
The local council put a series of lights in the Newbold Tunnel which runs for a quarter mile beneath farming land above. Unfortunately, a couple of different coloured lights were out at the time, but it still looks pretty cool!
It looks like a very relaxing way to see the English countryside to me!
Dinant (pronounced Dee-non) is a picturesque town on the River Meuse in the French speaking area of Southern Belgium. Dominated by the Church of Notre-Dame with it’s distinctive spire and the imposing Citadel sitting atop the cliffs, it is a charming place to stroll around and get a great meal at one of the many cafes and restaurants.
Settled since around the 7th century it has had a turbulent history and has had many episodes of devastation over the centuries with the German Forces wreaking havoc during the First World War being the latest episode. The Citadel has been used by occupying forces over the centuries and has a great museum outlining the history of the town.
Dinant is also the birthplace of Adolphe Sax who invented that great musical instrument, the saxophone. Up until a few years ago, about the only commemoration of this fact was a statue and plaque in the middle of town, but nowadays the bridge across the river is adorned with colourful saxophones decorated by artists from many European countries which are a welcome addition to this beautiful area.
While I was in Belgium I was staying near the picturesque city of Mechelen. Situated about halfway between Antwerp & Brussels, it can trace it’s history back to Roman times and like many European cities has had it’s share of of prosperity & decline at different times. For a brief period it was even the Capital of the Low Countries during the 16th century. Unfortunately, one of the city’s low points came during WW II when the Nazis used it as a Transit Camp for Jews being sent to the infamous death camps
Today it is a cosmopolitan provincial city with parks,canals and a bustling town centre which is dominated by the imposing St Rombout’s Cathedral which began construction in the 12th century.
Believe me, that carillon is huge and it is just as impressive on the inside! Every day just before they strike the hour, the bells play a tune which sounds a little like “Three Blind Mice”, quite pleasant to listen to as you stroll around town!
The Grote Markt is surrounded by cafes and at the other end is the Stadhuis which although not quite as grand as Antwerp, still draws the eye quite well.
Antwerpen is the Dutch name for Antwerp and literally means ‘hand throwing’. Legend has it that a race of giants cut off the hands of travellers who refused to pay a toll to cross the River Schelde on which Antwerp is situated. A heroic figure by the name of Brabo managed to kill the leader of the giants,cut his hands off and threw them into the river thus ending their monopoly and giving the the name to a city. This heroic feat is immortalised in the Brabo statue situated in the Grote Markt of Antwerp. That is one of the best stories for a place name that I have ever heard!
Antwerp has a long history dating from around the 6th century and today is one of the great trading ports of the world. Beautiful place to wander around and it doesn’t feel like a big city at all! Like a lot of European cities, history and culture are reflected in the grand buildings that surround you of which Cathedrals are some of the most impressive.
The Stadhuis (Town Hall) in the image above is covered in the flags of many nations EXCEPT Australia! I did notice that there was a missing flagpole so I reckon that an Aussie tourist has souvenir-ed it for a drunken bet, as you do!
City skylines are always changing and Antwerp is no exception, not too far away a redevelopment of one of the old dock areas is underway and the centrepiece is the M.A.S. Museum which is strikingly different from anything around it.
One of the pleasant surprises about Europe was the fact that I could set up my camera & tripod just about anywhere and nobody thought twice about it! There was no official tapping me on the shoulder to ask me for a permit or telling me it was not permitted. I photographed trainstations,cathedrals in the middle of a service,and other places expecting someone to say something and it never happened.
I wouldn’t bother shooting places like that in Australia because some petty official would start quoting some reason why you couldn’t do it.
The following image is in the middle of Antwerp Central Station which is a beautiful old station. I was hoping for a lot more people moving around but on this rather cold day not many people were out & about apart from this young girl who stopped in front of the camera for the 5 sec exposure. Her mother thought it was a great picture!
After a couple of months hanging out in Europe, I am back! Been a while since I have been o/s so this little trip was well overdue!
Briefly, My itinerary was Aus.-Singapore – Belgium-Scotland -Belgium -Singapore -Aus., saw some pretty cool things along the way and even got some photos as well.
To avoid the looong flight to Europe, I decided to have a break in Singapore both ways which is a little adventure on it’s own. Last time I was there was 2004 and there have been some changes! One thing I noticed about Singapore is that they are always building something new and when they do they don’t stuff around. Money seems to be no object and I suspect that environmental groups don’t get much of a hearing in the planning stages.
One thing I like about Singapore is that it is firmly striding toward the future but that doesn’t mean that the past will be forgotten either so the modern,ritzy side of Singapore seems to sit comfortably alongside the older,slightly crumbling areas such as Little India,Geylang and Chinatown. Many cultures,faiths and ideologies appear to co-exist harmoniously in this island state.
i had seen some photos of Marina Bay Sands & Gardens by the Bay on postcards so I thought I would go & see if I could get some dusk shots.
Even so, I wasn’t prepared for what I came across! To put it mildly,the structures in the following images are fantastic flights of imagination that have been brought to life.
Gardens by the Bay is a huge botanical garden in which they have built these stylised trees and the really cool thing is that eventually they will be covered in foliage themselves. All this is free to walk around except if you want to go on the suspended walkway and I think there is a cafe in one of the trees. A bit hard to get your head around the scale & cost of all this i have to say. Off to the left is a building that houses a rainforest with canopy walks etc.
As evening approached I found a spot down by the artificial lake to get some shots of the Marina Bay Towers which I will just let you see for yourselves.
I always thought the Spanish designer Gaudi had access to some good “gear”, but not on a scale like this! Although I didn’t go up to the observation deck where there is huge swimming pool just walking through the middle tower was an eye-opener’,opulence on a grand scale! Twice an evening they do a laser & light show set to music from the other side of the towers of which you can see glimpses of here, but that’s another story.
After spending an enjoyable hour or so with another photog who filled me in on some other things to shoot, it was time to see the ‘show’.
Heading back up to the main arena, it was like stepping into a futuristic fairytale. An Aussie band was doing a free concert and the lighting on the “trees”was set to the music. Pretty cool to watch, I probably should have taken a movie on the iphone but I was just trying to find places to take stills that weren’t obscured by the many trees in the area.
A nice peaceful image from one of my favourite short walks in the Cradle Mt area. The Dove Canyon track starts from near Cradle Mt Lodge and follows Pencil Pine Ck through beautiful Myrle Forest for the first kilometre or so before heading along the top of the Dove Canyon.
The full walk is quite a hike in places but takes you through some magnificent highland country but everytime I am in the area I always go for a short walk along this track because it is such a peaceful place and I am hoping to one day catch a glimpse of a faerie because I am sure they inhabit the area, or maybe a troll!
This will be my last post for a little while as I am off to visit Europe and hopefully Scotland for a month and hopefully return with some good images!
See you all soon!
If you have had a look through my blog you may have noticed that I have a fondness for mountains with clouds around them. When I notice stormy clouds settling around high ground I start looking for some sort of interesting foreground and hopefully some sunlight filtering through the advancing (or retreating) clouds, not always as easy as it sounds!
While driving around the Western Creek area in Tasmania I noticed clouds advancing across the Great Western Tiers, so after heading down a couple of side roads with no success I finally found this scene. It was just a matter of waiting for sunlight to hopefully illuminate the foreground to contrast with the threatening cloud over the mountains.
I was reading an article by Ken Duncan the other day and he was extolling the virtues of “wildlight” or “chíaroscuro”as it was termed by Renaissance landscape painters. “Wildlight” refers to the conditions where sunlight is broken up by passing cloud and is often associated with the back end of stormy weather. Great to find but it can be difficult light to work with!
Waiting for the light to fall just where you want it can be an exercise in patience and frustration interspersed with mild panic as a rain shower descends upon you! If you have the time to wait you can be rewarded with some great images.
This image was taken at Lake Mackintosh near Tullah in Western Tasmania, an area of rugged mountains covered in thick temperate rainforest and is subject to wild & highly changeable weather conditions. This really was an exercise in patience as I waited for the sun to illuminate the foreground & the cliff face simultaneously and get stormy cloud in the background! After attempting to tone down the bright foreground in the colour version with little success, monochrome was the answer!
Canon 5D II, 24 TS-E lens,1/60@f11, Iso 100
First of all, it appears this blog has picked up a small following, which kind of surprises me as I don’t consider my images to be anything really special. There are far better images out there than mine! But to those people who follow my blog and those who stumble across it and leave a ‘Like’ thanks very much! I will endeavour to keep it as interesting as I possibly can. Please feel free to leave a comment about the images I post,good, bad or whatever!
It occurred to me that most images of Cradle Mt. are shot with wide-angle lenses which show a lot of foreground which is hopefully interesting but also push the mountain into the background. Luckily, with that distinctive shape, it will still get the attention it deserves. As I was driving up to Lake Dove one day I noticed that at one spot the mountain seems to loom over the surrounding buttongrass plains with little else to compete with it. On the way back I decided to investigate that view a little more closely and this is the result.
It is a slightly different perspective of the mountain helped by the use of a 105mm focal length.
‘Confession’- I have replaced a rather dull, featureless blue sky with something a little more interesting! Canon 5DII, 105mm, 1/5s @f16, iso 100, polariser
Having a little look through my archives today and found this image from a sailing trip to Port Douglas a couple of years ago. We were anchored at Fitzroy Is near Cairns ,when a large rainsquall came in off the sea and settled over Cape Grafton for a little while. I pulled out the camera in the hope of getting some interesting light which didn’t eventuate (as usual!)
I took a couple of images when the cloud texture looked interesting and they have been sitting on my hard drive ever since. Decided to have a little play in Lightroom & Photoshop to see if I could make this one look halfway decent and this is what came out the other end. Considering how flat and uninteresting it looked when I started, I am quite happy with the result!
On my last night in Cradle Mt, I thought I would have a little go at lightpainting. This is Alec Ellis’s hut and as a bonus a visiting pademelon stayed long enough to be included in the shot!
This is a combination of 4 different images stacked as layers in Photoshop and all blended with with the Lighten blend mode. Exposure for each image was 30s @ f8, iso200.
Today is Australia Day! One thing that Australia is known for is our beaches. We just happen to be blessed with miles & miles of some of the best beaches in the world, many of which,see very little human activity apart from fishermen, surfers and the odd beachcomber.
The East coast of Tasmania has some stunningly beautiful beaches that for the most part are deserted. This is one I found near Swansea and I spent a good two hours here without seeing another person, heaven!
This rocky outcrop was an obvious subject, combined with the colours of sea & sky, a couple of nice images was the result. I think you’ll agree!
Another image from Coles Bay, this time it is of The Hazards. Even though the light is not the best, I like the contrast between the bright, lichen covered granite in the foreground and the stormy sky.
Guess I will just have to go back one day and wait for the good light!
This is an image from Coles Bay which is the gateway to Freycinet National Park. It is a very different place from my last visit around 25yrs ago! Back then, it was a sleepy little place with minimal accomodation options and the nearest Nat. Parks office was an hour up the road at Bicheno. Now it is a tourist mecca during the summer months and there are people all over the place!
After seeing some beautiful images of The Hazards reflecting the evening sunlight I was hoping to get some nice images but the weather beat me again as frontal cloud moved in from the west and killed any chance if good light. As they say, if the eggs are broken, you may as well make an omelette, so I got some nice images taking advantage of the pretty cool cloud layer that moved in!
There will be a couple more from this area coming soon!
Boomer Bay is a small waterfront settlement to the east of Dunalley in SE Tasmania. It is off the main road and is probably missed by most people driving through to more popular places, in fact I turned around to investigate after glimpsing it through the trees.
The vivid yellow, dry landscape contrasted with the dramatic sky above and I thought the jetty made for an interesting foreground so I took a couple of images. Little was I to know that soon, the jetty would be a place of refuge for people with no place to escape as fire raced down the hillside and took out 15 houses in short order. Dunalley was at the time burning to the ground!
Here’s hoping that the fires are extinguished soon and people can get back on their feet and resume their lives!
This image is from earlier in the morning and was a brief show of colour around Cradle Mt. Back over my left shoulder the sky was aflame but I wanted that distinctive shape, so I had to hope that the slowly moving cloud in the mountain’s direction would ‘light up’!
A little tip for those of you contemplating a trip to Tassie for photography, at the height of summer the sun rises at about 5:30am and sets about 9:00pm. Add to that about an hour of twighlight at each end of the day and your photographic day is pretty long! Especially if you are travelling around as well.
Somewhere in that 24hrs you need to eat, download images, scout around, and do th0se other things that life demands AND get a good night’s sleep! Not to mention the amount of people that visit iconic sights like Cradle Mt & Freycinet Peninsula. Next time I go down it will be in March-April or August- Sept when the days are a bit shorter and Autumn colour or Spring flowers are showing.
Anyway, hope you like it! Canon 5D Mk II, 24mm TS-E Lens, 2 stop ND Grad Filter
If you have been following this blog you probably know that Cradle Mt. and I have a complicated history,photographically speaking! The weather Gods just seem to give me the thumbs down whenever I go there. During my little sojourn around Tasmania in a campervan recently I spent 3 days there with Mort Ellis to make sure I gave myself a fighting chance of getting some good images of the mountain.
This particular morning I got up there early and had the place to myself for a while before the holiday crowds started swarming and came away with some nice images of which this is one.
Funnily enough, the weather was actually a little too nice with minimal cloud around the mountain during the morning twilight but I managed to get a couple of nice ones which I will post soon. What made this morning pretty special though for me was the absolute stillness of the water which made for some great reflections.
Hope you like it! Canon 5D Mk II, 24mm TS-E Lens
As I mentioned last post, it is as dry as a chip here at the moment, so for wildlife, water is pretty scarce! I have friends who are part of a wildlife rescue network here in the Whitsundays. As they have an interest in birds, often when I visit they have birds that they are attempting to nurse back to health before release back to the wild. Mostly they are successful but unfortunately there a times when they are not.
Around their home they have some birdbaths that the local avian population take full advantage of to cool down and have a drink during the early morning and late afternoon. After seeing a great image years ago of a Kestrel coming to roost in a tree taken with the aid of fill flash, I wanted to have a crack at a similar image with off camera flash. Not as easy as it looks , you need to have lightning fast reflexes to catch them as they land or take flight! Still, I managed to to capture a few nice images of two Australian Icon birds as well as a few shots with tail feathers exiting the frame!
The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is the raucous clown of the bush and was a pleasant surprise. He didn’t appreciate the flash going off and you could see him visibly start every time I tripped the shutter!
Both are wild birds and were not harmed in the making of this blog post!
Canon 5D II, 580 EX II off camera flash, Manual mode, triggered by Yongnuo RF-603 remote triggers
Over here in Queensland it is as dry as a chip! No decent rain for a few months and it looks like being a hot,dry summer. I am hoping for some wet season rain just to green things up and give the streams & waterfalls a much needed flush out! Sitting on the cusp between La Niná and El Ninó conditions means the chance of good flooding rains is not great.
This is an image I have had on file for quite a long time. I have always passed it mover for more “conventional’ looking stream images. although I have always liked the lighting in the image. Going through my archive the other day for some new calendar images, I looked at this and thought “Why not!”
After very little post processing,here is the result.
At the moment this spot has no water flowing down it, bring on the rain I say!
Work commitments have kept me away from anything photographic over the last couple of weeks which is getting frustrating as I have recently purchased a new Canon Tilt-shift lens AND a Canon 5DMk11 which have both been sitting idle! I am raring to get out and really put them to work!
In the meantime, this shot is from one of my early forays with the Tilt- Shift Lens down to Conway Beach. I was just testing the lens out to see how it worked, when I noticed this little scene.
As the tide recedes, Soldier Crabs start cleaning out their burrows by rolling sand into balls and moving them away from their holes. Lower down the beach there are millions upon millions of these burrows and sandballs! This little guy was obviously not one to move with the crowd. This seemed like a good test for the Tilt- Shift lens so I got the camera about 12-15 inches from the burrow, shifted the lens down for perspective and then applied about 6 degrees of tilt to bring the foreground and background into the same plane of focus.
Unfortunately he wouldn’t show his face but the juxtaposition of the the burrow & sandballs with the smooth sand looks kind of cool! At full size, the image is sharp from foreground to horizon. These are a very versatile lens!
As we move into summer up here in the tropics Poinciana trees begin to flower adding bright splashes of colour to the landscape!
I have always been a fan of the Tasmanian wilderness photographer Peter Dombrovskis, he would hike off into the Tasmanian Wilderness with a large format camera and return with beautiful images which he would publish in the renowned Wilderness Calendar.
Apart from his discerning eye for light, the images would nearly always have a very strong foreground leading the eye through the image and they were sharp! I have tried with varying success to emulate that look at times but wide -angle lenses always introduced distortion as soon as they were tilted from a vertical axis. After thinking about it for a while I recently purchased a Canon 24mm Tilt Shift Lens (TS-E f/3.5L II) to see what they do.
Expensive,yes, but they are a very versatile lens indeed and sharp! They are a large lens because if the tilt/shift mechanism and manual focus only, they are also a little bit fiddly so a tripod is pretty much a given. No firing of a quick sequence with this lens.
What can you do with this lens? Panoramas both vertical & horizontal are a breeze using the shift function and because there is no rotation of the camera the stitching software loves it. With a crop sensor camera 3:1 ratio panoramas are normal.
As the shift function operates in 8 directions,large resolution square images are also possible but probably best used with static objects due to the time factor.
Combine the shift function with focus stacking and a low viewpoint camera and you have a wonderful combination!
They are not easy to use by any means and they are not for everyone, but if you are willing to spend time with one of these lenses it is well worth it! To get an idea of what is possible with these lenses there is a great e-book written by Darwin Wiggett available fom his website.
I have only used the tilt function of the lens a couple of times so far but I intend to get to grips with it soon, Stay tuned!