Ello to the future of social media?

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Thomas Hawk on his movement from Facebook to ello.

I’ve been increasingly disappointed with my experience on Facebook. I find that fewer and fewer of my friends are seeing what I post and engagement is increasingly going down.

I’m seeing more and more “sponsored” posts and advertising crowding out organic content, which probably plays a part in this…

I have danced with completely deleting my Facebook account for quite some time. There are a few reasons why I haven’t done so yet, but I view content there occasionally and post content there rarely. When I do post to Facebook its generally reposting from a blog post, or cross posting from my Instagram feed.

Again, Thomas Hawk nails it:

I feel respect for my content on Ello, which is shown large in full high res glory. This is why I put more of myself into my art and photography on Ello than any other site. The respect feels greater.

I am playing with ello too (find me at ello.co/desparoz and will certainly try out posting some images and words there to see what feedback I can get.

For me, for now, DesParoz.com remains my main venue to posting content (images and words), but some social media will continue to play part of communicating that – and will be an increasingly important part of the conversation that continues after the post. [1]

I have lots of questions about the future of Ello, but at this time Ello is seriously interesting.


  1. While comments are currently still enabled on DesParoz.com, I prefer the conversation to happen elsewhere – such as on the commenters own site, linked back, or perhaps now on Ello. I like John Gruber’s approach of keeping the site clean, an approach that sites like Re/code are now following.  ↩

Narrabeen Pool

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Sydney has a lot of wonderful ocean pools, most of which are photogenic, particularly at sunrise and sunset.

The pool at Narrabeen on the Northern Beaches is perhaps one of the most interesting photographically, and is an extremely worthwhile destination for pre-sunrise photography.

The beautiful light in the morning twilight, coupled with still waters yet to be disturbed by keen swimmers makes this an excellent location.

This image, of course, use HDR techniques to capture the beautiful range of colours visible to the eye, but invisible to most cameras.

This image was created with a Panasonic Lumix GX–7 micro four-thirds camera and an Olympus 9–18mm lens, at the widest range.

View this image on 500px or Flickr.

No Diving No Dogs No Stairs

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Sunrise at Mahon Pool, near Maroubra in Sydney’s east.

On a morning with sunrise potential, there are often photographers out at Mahon Pool. Most are shooting the sun rising over the pool or the nearby rocks. After the sun has risen, most pack up and go, but it is worth hanging around for and look at what the sun is doing on the interesting rock formations on the nearby coastline.

I was quite taken with these stairs to nowhere – clearly a relic of some bygone era. The current stairs are in the background, but these were quite interesting in how they just stop.

Not only is Mahon Pool a great spot for sunrise photography, it is also one of Sydney’s best shore dive spots, but only in a calm sea, due to the rather exposed entry and exit point.

View No Diving, No Dogs, No Stairs on 500px or Flickr.

Links to Sunrise

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Links to Sunrise

Sunrise at Mahon Pool, near Maroubra in Sydney’s east.

The chain fence around the pool was the key feature for this image, and I used it to form the basis for the composition. The chain fence is a leading line through the photo, and the key linking feature—the link between the pool and the ocean, the link between night and day (sunrise), etc.

The ‘golden hour’ before sunrise is generally a magic time for photography. A site like Mahon Pool is magic on a slightly cloudy day at sunrise, with the intense redness being reflected into both the sea and the pool.

Not only is Mahon Pool a great spot for sunrise photography, it is also one of Sydney’s best shore dive spots, but only in a calm sea, due to the rather exposed entry and exit point.

View Links to Sunrise on 500px
View Links to Sunrise on Flickr

A Morning at the Opera

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Sydney Harbour is one of the most scenic harbours in the world, at least in part due to some of the world famous landmarks like the Sydney Opera House.

The image was made from Milsons Point using a Nikon 18–200mm telephoto zoom. Finding the right position was challenging because I had to shoot under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

With the sun coming up somewhat behind the Opera House, I exposed three images and tone mapped them using HDR. A little bit of sharpening was also applied.

Sydney Harbour is a beautiful waterway, and I enjoy exploring different parts of it for sunrise and sunset.

See A Morning at the Opera on 500px
See A Morning at the Opera on Flickr

Pool of Fire

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Sunrise at Mahon Pool, near Maroubra in Sydney’s east.

The ‘golden hour’ before sunrise is generally a magic time for photography. A site like Mahon Pool is magic on a slightly cloudy day at sunrise, with the intense redness being reflected into both the sea and the pool.

Not only is Mahon Pool a great spot for sunrise photography, it is also one of Sydney’s best shore dive spots, but only in a calm sea, due to the rather exposed entry and exit point.

View Pool of Fire on 500px
View Pool of Fire on Flickr

Vivid on The Rocks

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Vivid on The Rocks

Vivid Sydney is a festival of light that takes place every May around CBD precincts, including Circular Quay, The Rocks, Martin Place and Darling Harbour.

This image was created at The Rocks, one of the oldest parts of Sydney, with the CDB lit up in the background.

This is a HDR night image, using three images. I used a Gorilla Pod mounted to a light post to stabilise the camera and get a higher perspective. I used the Panasonic iPhone app to trigger the shutter release remotely.

View Vivid on The Rocks on 500px
View Vivid on The Rocks on Flickr

Feeding Time

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Time to post an underwater image!

To be honest, I am not sure how exactly I feel about shark feeds.

In general, shark feeding can change shark behaviour—making them reliant on being fed at a certain time and certain place, and perhaps on food stuff they wouldn’t normally consume.

In the Marovo Lagoon region of the Solomon Islands the shark stocks were almost wiped out by overfishing, namely by fishing boats from Greater China who paid local communities for the rights to fish out the shark stocks.

Uepi Island Resort has worked with a variety of conservation groups and the local communities to build awareness of the value of sharks to marine diversity, and the value in terms of tourism dollars.

As part of this, Uepi conducts feeds under the pier whereby photographer guests can get in and shoot as I did, whilst eliminating waste food product. The feeds are conducted irregularly, at different times of the day.

There has been a noted rebuilding of shark life around Marovo Lagoon.

So a shark feed for the sake of an adrenalin rush alone I am against. But when it is being done as part of a concerted effort for conservation purposes I can support.

I did enjoy the adrenaline rush, but I also have to say that I was honoured to have the chance to document the experience.

Photographically this was a tough gig—the water was already a little cloudy on the day. Throw in the food stuff and a bunch of sharks to stir things up, and it made for quite a challenge.

I was under the pier snorkelling, with the pier itself affording some protection from curious sharks (they were never aggressive).

Meanwhile Belinda was on the pier above me with another camera. As they were both time synced, it was interesting to see the sequence of shots—in some cases Belinda and I made shots of the same ‘action’ from above and below.

View Feeding Time on 500px

View Feeding Time on Flickr

Do You Make or Take Your Photos

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The following article was originally published on my website BlueBeyond.com.au. I’ve decided to move it over here for reference.

Recently I read a great book called The Inner Game of Outdoor Photography by Galen Rowell , a renowned outdoor photographer from the US. This book is one of the best photography books I have read, even though it hardly even touches on technical aspects – there are no explanations of apertures and shutter speeds, except in discussing how to capture a particular image.

Instead, this is a book that delves deeply into the “inner process" of photography, and the important philosophical approaches that differentiate the snapshooter from the serious photographer. Irrespective of whether you shoot underwater or topside, outdoors or inside, close-up or wide-angle, your thought processes help you to identify potential subjects, backgrounds, compositional opportunities, lighting approaches and technical requirements to express your vision through a photograph.

One of the things that struck me on reading this book, and set my mind thinking, was that the essence of the language used by Rowell expresses his philosophy. Rowell never uses the phrase “taking a photo“ – instead he contemplates “making a photo”.

From our earliest introductions to photography, we are exposed to the phrase “take a photo", and indeed the common vernacular enshrines this expression as the standard amongst all of us. But if we stop for a minute to consider the expression, we note very quickly that it suggests a passive approach to photography – one of recording the moment.

It is no secret that the vast majority of photographers are snapshooters – people who are simply recording the moment. These “momentary records" have an important place – they show family, friends and scenes that are important to the individuals. They have a context and value to the snapshooter and those close to them. In many cases, however, these momentary records are otherwise unremarkable.

Early Light

Likewise, many underwater photographers are snapshooters, and again, their photos have a meaning to them that is also implied and contextual. They take good photos that trigger a memory for them.

In an effort to move beyond the simple snapshot, we invest time, money and effort into the process of photography. We get better equipment, we study composition and lighting, and we try to take control of the photographic situation. We are no longer passive “takers of photos" – we are looking for more than the momentary record.

We are now actively “making" our photos, not taking them.

To be active in the process of photography, whatever the setting, we need good technical skills, and good equipment. We also need a thorough understanding of our environment, the behaviour of our subjects, and how we can interact responsibly with them. We then need the mental approach to put all that together to make great photos.

Do you take or make photos?

Cronulla Pools at Sunrise

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Cronulla Pool at Sunrise

The pools around the beaches on the NSW coastline are stunning locations for photography—especially with the east coast sunrise.

There are dozens of these pools along the Sydney coast, with several picturesque ones at the southern suburb of Cronulla.

This image was made in April 2014 and really brought out the sunrise colours, and the contrast of the smooth waters in the pool with those of the ocean.

This was one of the first sunrise expedition with my Panasonic Lumix GX–7, with the one lens I am currently using—the 20mm non-zoom. I decided to learn the camera first before jumping into a variety of zooms.

View Cronulla Pool at Sunrise on Flickr

View Cronulla Pool at Sunrise on Google+