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.
Singapore is an amazing place to photograph, my list of shots that I still want to capture is ever increasing. Hope you like them!
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!
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!
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!
It’s a pretty dramatic landscape, but the buildings help define it and give it more context, don’t you think?
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.
Loved 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!
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.
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!
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.
Seriously, this whole area is a postcard around every corner!
Just having a play with a B&W version.
What do you think, does it work?
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.
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!
Scotland has some dramatic scenery, especially in the Western Highlands where I spent 10 days driving around. Some of the most spectacular is in the Glen Coe region between Oban & Fort Williams.
Unfortunately i was dogged by wild weather during a large portion of this period, with strong wind and persistent light rain that made for difficult shooting much of the time. The locals were fond of telling me that I should have been there a week ago. “Aye, we’ve been suffering a drought!” was a common comment!
I returned to this spot a few times in the hope that the weather would let up just enough to make the most of this location. Cloud I could deal with, but rain was the killer!
This was a shot I was forced to make by climbing down and shooting from under a bridge to escape the light rain that was frustrating me. Not the shot I wanted,but It came out well none the less!
Spring was late in Europe this year, so for most of my time over there there were lots of bare trees. When you tell Europeans that our trees in Australia keep their leaves year round, they find it hard to believe! It sometimes takes a little bit of explaining to somebody who has never been downunder.
This image attracted me because of the stark shape of the oak trees against a leaden English sky leading down to the tower of St Boltoph’s church in Newbold-upon-Avon
Black and White seemed to suit this image more than dull colour and a featureless grey sky. The other cool thing to witness was how fast the leaves return when they finally started!
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.
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 Cape Gloucester, looking toward Gloucester Is. just before sunset.
Lucinda is the mainland town closest to Orpheus Is. Only a small place, it has 3 of the largest sheds I think I have ever seen which are used for sugar storage. The sugar is then conveyed along arguably Australia’s longest jetty (6km) to ships offshore. Due to damage incurred during Cyclone Yasi the jetty and sheds are lying empty at the moment.
This image is of another jetty which used to take reasonably large vessels but due to shoaling is now only used as a fishing platform.
In the background you can see Hinchinbrook Island which has some huge peaks that are nearly always covered in cloud, in fact there are still missing aircraft from WW II that haven’t been found to this day! I was hoping to get some images of the island and the sugar jetty next morning but once again, the rain beat me!
Only made it up to Cradle Mt. once this time around. True to form, the weather was cold,blustery and RAINING which is the norm rather than the exception in this part of the world. I sat in the car for a while cursing my luck and eventually a break in the rain came through so hopefully I set off to a couple of spots that I wanted to check out.
Of course, 100 meters away from the car and a light rain started. I pulled out the camera gear a couple of times in the hope of getting a shot that wouldn’t have water spots on the lens and this was the only useable image.
I call this an environmental portrait of Cradle Mt. with the mountain taking a backseat to it’s surrounding environment of buttongrass plains which cover a large part of the surrounding area.
Anyway, hope you all like it!
This is a 14 image blend and stitch shot of Liffey Falls blended in L/R Enfuse , stitched in PtGui and processed in Lightroom 3 and PS CS5. First time I had used this technique which is probably old hat to many of you photographers out there! I have to say I am pretty stoked how well it popped out the other end, might play with it a little further sometime. If anybody has any ideas on how I can improve it, I am all ears!
Last image from here, off to the West Coast next!
I found this neat little scene on my way back fro Mossman to Cairns. Took off up a side road and drove for miles to find a spot where the sugarcane wasn’t obliterating the mountains in the background!
This is a scene that is so typical of FNQ and the fact that the Great Dividing Range is so close to the coast makes it a great area for photographers.
On another note, this will probably be my last post for a while. I am just about to head to Gladstone for 5 weeks as the Master of a 40m barge with a huge backhoe on it, basically a non-propelled dredge which is part of the push to build new infrastructure for the Port of Gladstone in Central Qld. It will probably be fairly dull but the pay is well worth it, which means a long overdue camera upgrade is definately on the cards! 🙂
Another view of the Port Douglas sugar shed but with an old time look to it. I had another set of images with a paddlesteamer in it which looked great until I realised that one of the images was a little shaky for some reason. Had to ditch the lot 😦
I have just arrived home from a little adventure! A good friend of mine who is taking a 60 ft luxury catamaran around the world needed a hand to sail from Airlie Beach to Cairns. Along the way she heard about Carnivale in Port Douglas so we ended up there instead with a stop at Low Isles along the way
Weather was pretty ordinary for most of the trip with strong winds and squally weather so good photo opportunities were few and far between.
Carnivale was in full swing when we arrived and the town was heaving with people and the local businesses were cashing in while they could! Port Douglas is a very pretty town and the locals are friendly. Managed to get a few images while I was there although the light was not the best for most of the time.
There are a couple of very good photographers in the area, Michael Seebock and Gareth Kelly stood out for me and another wildlife photographer whose work was outstanding!
Seeing their work and what I saw while driving between Mossman and Cairns makes me want to return and spend some time exploring a little more thoroughly.
This image is of the old sugar wharf at the entrance to Port Douglas on the one halfway decent sunset I saw.
There will be a few more images from this little trip coming up.