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Tag: Photography

Zig Zag Station

Zig Zag Station

Ello

There has been a lot of positive discussion on Ello about the future role of this relatively new social media platform. People like photographer Thomas Hawk, Ello co-founder Paul Budnitz and Ello user @bigpoppae have made eloquent posts in support of the site.

To me the very thing that makes Ello appealing is that there is a small community of people, most of whom share a creative bent – be that photography or other artistic endeavours.

I rarely use Facebook. I occasionally use Google+, and regularly use Twitter. But I find that Ello is the site that draws me in most, and I plan to interact there more than any other site in the coming year.

Zig Zag Station

The old Lithgow Zig Zag Railway line in Australia’s Blue Mountains operated from 1869 to 1910, after which it was replaced by a new deviation that operates to this day.

The Clarence Station was the centre of a railway town during this time, but today the restored station is the main remnant of the old town.

Around the old station lie a number of engines, carriages and other rolling stock that formed part of a tourist railway that operated from 1975 until 2012. Many of these items were damaged in the bushfires of 2013.

It is possible to wander about the site and view the rolling stock and station, with no fences or signs keeping people out. That said, some areas have asbestos, so it is best to avoid trying to go into any of the rolling stock.

The site is a bit overgrown, but represents an important piece of the early settlement beyond the Blue Mountains.

View this image on 500px, Ello or Flickr

Operatic Sunrise

Operatic Sunrise

Buying Photo Gear

I’ve bought some photo gear lately – mostly from Australian retailers. I am always amazed about how unsatisfying the experience is for high value items.

Retailers always remind me that the price includes ‘Australian warranty’ and ‘Australian GST’. By law in Australia these things must be included in the price quoted, so emphasising these factors is redundant.

I guess that retailers are sensitive to competing with (overeas) online vendors, but in many respects the lack of expertise offered and the references actually drives me towards online purchase.

Especially when I buy a lens and the standard upsell attempt of a filter is the best value add offered – even more so when the particular lens doesn’t have a filter mount.

I wonder why there aren’t photo retailers that better emphasise the photo experience, and treat the whole thing more like Apple does with their retail operations.

Happy New Year

Wishing everyone all the best for a safe, happy and successful 2015.

Operatic Sunrise

Today is New Years Eve, and the world’s eyes are on Sydney Harbour as one of the major focal points for seeing in the New Year.

This image of the Sydney Opera House, one of Harbour’s iconic landmarks, was made at sunrise a week ago, and I think it beautifully captures the dramatic air of this unique building.

As we move into 2015 I look forward to taking in as many sunrises and sunsets as I can!

View this image on 500px, Ello or Flickr

Narrabeen Pool

Narrabeen Pool

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.

Links to Sunrise

Links to Sunrise

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

A Morning at the Opera

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

Vivid on The Rocks

Vivid on The Rocks

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

Do You Make or Take Your Photos

Do You Make or Take Your Photos

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

Cronulla Pools at Sunrise

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+

International Fleet Review in Sydney

International Fleet Review in Sydney

This coming Friday, 4th October, marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival into Sydney of the first dedicated fleet for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) [1]. The RAN was actually the first of the former Colonial Dominion navies to become independent of the Royal Navy.

To celebrate this milestone, the Royal Australian Navy is conducting an International Fleet Review this week. Thursday (3 Oct) will see an entry by a fleet of around 16 local and international tall ships, whilst Friday (4 Oct) will see the Ceremonial Fleet Entry of around 40 warships – including 19 Australian and 18 international vessels [2]. This should be a spectacular affair.

On Saturday (5 Oct) the Governor General, joined by HRH Prince Harry, will conduct the Ceremonial Fleet Review. This will be followed by a Spectacular event, and then ships open days on the Sunday and Monday.

In the following days, there will be a number of events around Sydney, including Freedom of Entry parades in Parramatta (HMAS Parramatta’s crew) and Mosman (HMAS Penguin) and a Combined Navies Parade along George Street, Sydney.

This should be a spectacular week in and around Sydney. There will be marvelous photo opportunities around the harbour and at the various parades and events. It is also a great way to celebrate a milestone for our Royal Australian Navy, and the men and women who serve and have served.


  1. The RAN was actually formed in 1911 using the various vessels of the former Colonial navies, but 1913 marks the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the dedicated fleet.  ↩

  2. Unfortunately the international participation is slightly reduced from the original plans due to Russia re-tasking its vessels to the Mediterranean, and the Canadian participant suffering a mishap en-route to the Pacific.  ↩

Review: The Underwater Photographer

Review: The Underwater Photographer

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

There is one underwater photography book that has journeyed with me on every dive trip I’ve made over the past 8 years. Although I’ve read Martin Edge’s The Underwater Photographer from cover to cover several times over, it has always proved to be a valuable source of information and inspiration.


Now reprised in its third edition, author Martin Edge has embraced the digital era, giving succinct and usable information pertinent to every underwater photographer – seasoned or novice, using digital or film, compact or SLR.

Practical information is provided right from the outset, with Martin providing “thoughtful and considered” information. This is the crux of why I like this book so much – Edge focuses on his “think and consider” approach, and provides insights into his thinking as he makes an image. Technical information is provided to support the TC Approach, and is not in itself the central theme of the book.

Having embraced the digital revolution, Edge shares his own thoughts about the pro’s and con’s of digital imaging, equipment and settings. Practical, pertinent guidance is provided in an easy to understand way.

One of the impressive things about Edge is that shows how his own photography has changed over the years. As an example, he has openly modified recommendations about strobe positioning between the 2nd and 3rd Editions. An open mind is the hallmark of success in many endeavours, and Edge clearly displays this attitude as a leader in the world of marine imaging.

For me, The Underwater Photographer – Digital and Traditional Techniques is a book that should be on the reading and reference list for all aspiring and experienced underwater photographers.

Buy The Underwater Photographer: Digital and Traditional Techniques
from Amazon.com (aff)

Book Review Inner Game Outdoor Photography

Book Review Inner Game Outdoor Photography

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

Galen Rowell’s Inner Game of Outdoor Photography is a book that I have been meaning to review for some time, but with the recent, tragic death of the author in a light plane crash, its time to put pen to paper. For my money this is one of the outstanding books on photography philosophy, and should be part of every photographer’s library.


Galen Rowell was one of the outstanding adventure photographers of our time. A major proponent of “participatory photography”, Rowell’s unique approach was based less on equipment and technique, and more on vision and philosophy. Participatory photography is an approach where the photographer is not a passive observer of the subject, but someone who is interacting with the environment and the subjects. Rowell was an active participant, and as such was a noted mountain climber and hiker, skills that allowed him to get a unique perspective that most photographers don’t even get close to.

Most of us have seen those photos of a climber hanging delicately from a cliff face, and marvelled at the extreme situation in which that climber has got themselves into. Yet few of us stop to think about the photographer, who is right there in the same place taking that photo. Many times that photographer was Galen Rowell.

His remarkable photographs have been featured in National Geographic, Outdoors and Outdoor Photographer. He wrote 18 books; some of them coffee table books, others more instructive about his approach to photography, and some of them about climbing.

The Inner Game of Outdoor Photography is one of Rowell’s most recent books. Inner Game is a compilation of various articles that Rowell has written over the years for Outdoor Photographer magazine.

Clearly underwater photography is a form of participatory photography – it is difficult for the photographer to be passive. Although not known for underwater images, Rowell’s philosophy and approach is one that underwater photographers should consider. Few other photographers become so much a part of their environment as underwater photographers!

As a matter of interest, Rowell did in fact do some underwater photography, and some of these pictures are published in Inner Game. When you look at these, underwater photographers may notice some backscatter – a curse that most land based photographers never learn much about. But the composition, the organisation of the elements within the photo and the technical exposure are up there with the best, as you would expect. His landscape and adventure photography are without equal.

Many underwater photographers have an extensive library of books on our subject. Many of us read up on photographic fundamentals, landscape photography, macro photography and so on, due to the parallels between topside and underwater techniques. This book is different – it focuses on the philosophy and approach. These are aspects independent of environment.

The Inner Game of Outdoor Photography is a superbly written and beautifully illustrated book. I would recommend this book highly to underwater photographers, landscape photographers, and indeed to any photographer who understands the importance of vision in image creation.

See Galen Rowell’s Inner Game of Outdoor Photography
at Amazon.com (aff).