Yesterday, I got a nice surprise of a late Christmas present from a friend. A fabulous book:
A fine collection of images from underground London; sewers, rivers, railway lines past present and future, abandoned stations, and other ancillary tunnels and underground workings, such a fascinating read, you can buy it from Amazon.com really worth a look. Makes me want to have more underground adventures.
Image of the Day
Back in 2010 while visiting the Blue Mountains, NSW Australia, we took time to visit the many caves and tunnels in the Jenolan Caves system. These are really worth a visit, set aside a whole day to do them justice.
Preparing for my upcoming trip to Hawaii, so sharing some older images from around this beautiful country before I jet away for two weeks. WiFi at the various destinations will be patchy but I hope to share as much of the trip as possible.
This is a misty morning shot from Buchan in New South Wales, Australia. A camping trip and a visit to various cave systems in the area meant a great weekend away.
I’ve been told I have a skill, and that is capturing moments in time, in the images I take. One way to help others is to make your skill available and give your time using or doing what you do best.
In 2014, I started a relationship with a local children’s charity Cottage by the Sea, Queenscliff, providing them with my time, so they can benefit from my images to represent the fabulous work that they do.
This charity offers children and young people Inspiration, Fun and Opportunity through diverse programs offered in a wide range of environments. During their camp experience, they provide opportunities for building positive relationships with peers and adult role models to help participants learn and grow. Whatever the program participants are encouraged to have fun, take risks and explore options in a safe and supportive setting. They seek to assist young people to develop self-awareness, confidence and resilience, inspiring them to remain engaged in education, family and their community and to achieve their goals.
I look forward to 2015, a special one, as it is their 125th year, and to capturing more moments in time for them. Please take a moment out of your time to visit their site and seeing how you can help.
Image of the Day
Moment in Time
This image is one of many I took while listening to this busker on a busy Melbourne city street. I must have stood for 20 minutes, during which time he played non-stop and never looked up. I later found out this guy is blind.
The intensity and serenity of his frame, and the bustle behind him give a great juxtaposition to the scene, and provided me with a moment in time.
I submitted a version of this image as one of the first to be critiqued in The Arcanum, and was provided with some great advice regarding cropping that I have taken and this is a revised version of my original.
The slowish shutter speed gives me the movement of the traffic, the normal aperture gives me a sharp image from a normally not so sharp kit lens.
Colour correction and shadow recovery in Lightroom have enhanced the vibrance and clarity of the image.
The term is an affectionate nickname for Australia, but was actually born out of a less favourable quote from the book of the same name by Donald Horne in 1964.
“Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and, although its ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise.”
I do think things have changed since and many a notable Australian has made their mark on the world.
For my part, I feel extremely lucky to have been able to move to ‘The Lucky Country’ of Australia in 2001. The luck of my birth into a ‘free’ nation, the United Kingdom, allowing me freedom to choose, freedom to travel and indeed, freedom to leave, is not one afforded the vast majority of the world’s population.
I thank my Luck on a constant basis.
Image of the Day
The Lucky Country
This is a random image from my archive of a beautiful scene from the island state of Tasmania, which I have had the privilege to have visited 3 times now, and will again, no doubt.
No real playing with this one in Lightroom, it is what it is, beautiful. Just some sharpening, clarity and vibrance to enhance to beauty as I normally would with most of my images.
When it comes to genres, I am a pretty mixed bag, from pure Landscapes to Architecture, from Nature to People, from Travel to Street, I like a dabble in most. Some photographers will say you need to specialise to be truly good at something, but for now I’m not ready to box myself in, I look for a good shot in everything I see, for me it is about the interesting, or as a fellow photographer puts it “it is all about the awesome”, I love that saying and I know he would not mind others using it.
You will see the mixed bag as you continue to follow my blog, but even though I enjoy many genres, a certain style is starting to develop in my edits which can be seen across my portfolio.
Examples of my work at can be found on my website:
One thing I have not yet experimented with is Macro photography, but I do like what I call close-up photography instead, using a standard prime lens and get as close as the focus will allow, which in precise lenses is pretty close and getting the shot, this works particularly well in nature shots like this one of Lavender in my garden.
The out of focus areas of an image are just as important as the in focus, if you have a pleasing background that pushed your subject to the fore you have done a good job. Even parts of subject can be out focus like in this shot, just hints of individual flowers are all that is needed to tell the story.
I have introduced some split toning into this shot, giving the highlights a golden brown feel and the shadows a hit of blue. I enjoy using split toning in Lightroom to introduce tones that are not naturally in the image but compliment them.
Back in April of 2014 I graduated with a Diploma in Professional Photography, but my learning in this field of technical and creative endeavours will never end. I make a conscious effort to learn a new thing every day.
To help me with my ongoing development, I have become a member of The Arcanum. This organisation takes the theory of Master and Apprentice and applies it to the creative arts, Photography being one of its offerings. In fact, I completed my application nearly a year ago, and had actually forgotten about it for a while, then in November I was contacted by one of the ‘Masters’ to ask if I would like to be in his cohort. Each Master has a cohort of 20 apprentices and together we form a group of like minded people ready to absorb the experience of the master and in fact from each other. The live (and honest, but respectful) critiques of your work from a technical and creative standpoint from both sides is invaluable.
As you go through various challenges and learnings within The Arcanum you level up, a bit of game play there, and eventually you will reach a level where you can either apply to become a master yourself or go on to participate in more complex and personalised challenges either with your current master or even a new master to broaden your horizons. I must say to date I have had a ball, and I am only on level 5.
This is me:
Image of the Day
Coop’s Shot Tower is located in the heart of Melbourne, Victoria Australia. It was completed in 1888and is 50 metres high. The historic building was saved from demolition in 1973 and was incorporated into Melbourne Central shopping complex in 1991 underneath an 84 m-high conical glass roof.
Coop’s Shot Tower is 9 storeys high, and has 327 steps to the top. The tower produced six tonnes of shot weekly up until 1961, when the demand for the lead shot dwindled, because of new firearm regulations.
To do this structure any justice you need a wider angle lens that this 35mm, as there is very little space to physically retreat in the shopping centre, so I think I have done the best I can with the equipment I have.
In Lightroom, among other things I have used the Highlights and Shadows sliders to somewhat of an extreme to accentuate the brickwork and reduce the glare from the daylight beyond the glass roof.
Just a short post today, as my wife and I are off to a wedding this afternoon. 41 degrees celsius and gale force winds with a storm set to hit just around the ceremony time will perhaps make this an interesting day.
In my post on 1 January, I talked about being happy and improving the intentional activity in my life. Yesterday I started another project that I have seen posted on social media a couple of times over the last few days. I have got myself an empty jar, and each day I will write a short note to myself of something good that happened on that day, pop it in the jar and leave it there for the rest of the year. I will do it each day without fail, even if I have a bad day, there will be events on that day that were not so bad as others. This will become a record of the good times in my life.
At the end of the year, I could delve into the jar and pick at random some snippets from the year that have made me happy. There was one suggestion that you keep it going over many years, so that when you are feeling particularly down, that you could again delve into the jar and improve your happiness with previous happy thoughts.
While I am not really known for carrying my projects to their conclusion, I will see how I go. Maybe I will let you know some of the thoughts at the end of the year.
Image of the Day
In August of 2014, we made one of our many visits to the Grampians region of Victoria, Australia. I particularly love this area for its bush mountain setting, its great vistas and many a photo opportunity. While this image does not show much of these, I thought it particularly apt for today. There are many walks around the region some easier than others, but all give a great feeling of being out in the bush with the sounds of the wildlife and smells of the gum trees. I will be revisiting this region often, so be prepared.
While this image was just fine straight out of the camera, I enjoy tinkering on Lightroom and other software to give images a bit of an edge. I quite often use purchased presets as my starting point for inspiration and adjust my image from there. The preset used on this image was purchased from a great photographer that I admire Trey Ratcliff at stuckincustoms.com, then I took the image into Colour Efex Pro from the Nik collection that I was trialling at the time to give to that distressed look.
I thrive on not much photographic equipment at all, at the moment. Just a standard crop frame DSLR from Nikon and three lenses. Mostly not through choice but necessity through lack of funds. So when the family asked what I would like for Christmas I jumped into my wish list. I found it hard to decide between two things, some new software, which was probably going to be Google’s Nik Collection or a travel tripod. I chose the latter.
As you can probably see from the side bar countdown, my wife and I are heading off soon for a great two weeks in Hawaii, so the decision was made to order the tripod from the US and have it shipped to our first port of call. The family saved a few bucks going this route ordering from Amazon.com, rather than an imported item in Australia. I am hoping that everything falls into place and it arrives ready for when I get there.
There are many travel tripods to choose from, but this was my choice.
It is light, just 3.6lb (decided that the weight saving of 0.5lb for the carbon fibre was not a big enough incentive to pay twice the price (or perhaps I should say, persuade the family to pay).
It converts to a monopod using one of the legs and the centre column.
It folds down to just 15inches into its own bag.
Recessed centre column hook for adding weight for stability if needed, and the usual things like precision ball head, bubble level, 360 degree pan and individual leg angle positioning.
I’m pretty happy with my choice and can’t wait to get to grips with it on my first try out in Hawaii.
Thank you Family.
Image of the Day
Memories of Harold
Coming close to the end of my tour of Point Nepean on the Victorian coast of Australia (previous images can be found on my Facebook Page and my G+ Posts). But we can’t carry on without a mention of Harold Holt, 17th Prime Minister of Australia, holding the post for only 22 months.
Why such a short term, well on the morning of Sunday 17 December 1967, Holt together with 3 friends and his 2 bodyguards, drove down from Melbourne to see the British yachtsman Alec Rose sail through Port Phillip Heads in his boat Lively Lady to complete a leg of his solo circumnavigation of the globe, which started and ended in England. Around noon, the party drove to one of Holt’s favourite swimming and snorkelling spots, Cheviot Beach on Point Nepean. Holt decided to go swimming, although the surf was heavy and Cheviot Beach was notorious for its strong currents and dangerous rip tides.
Ignoring his friends’ pleas not to go in, Holt began swimming, but soon disappeared from view. Fearing the worst, his friends raised the alert. Within a short time, the beach and the water off shore were being searched by a large contingent of police, Navy divers, Air Force helicopters, Army personnel and local volunteers. This quickly escalated into one of the largest search operations in Australian history, but no trace of Holt could be found.
Cheviot beach is off limits to the public, and gates leading to it have warning signs of unexploded bombs, which in itself would be a deterrent.
Not much Lightroom adjustment here from SOOC (Straight out of Camera), small bit of clarity and vibrance and some sharpening to get this image on a glorious summer day.
Why the quotation marks? Well, because for the first post in this new venture, I want to talk about ‘Happy’.
Recent research into happiness has shown that 50% of your ‘Happiness’ comes from your genetic makeup, only 10% comes from your job, health, social status, age etc., the other 40% depends on your Intentional Activities.
For the past 2 years and probably more, I have struggled with my happiness and I am not sure from what part of that pie my melancholia comes. On the chance that it comes from that 40% part (and to a lesser extent where I can affect it, the 10% part), I have done a number of things to change my life over that time: I gave up my job that made me unhappy and anxious (a big thank you to my wife for her support). I have reduced some harmful things from my diet, like processed sugar and caffeine (not given either up completely yet, but I’m working on it), included beneficial things in my diet like vegetable juices & calming teas and others that I won’t go into here and now.
But by far the most beneficial to date and that shows some credence to the research, is my renewed love of Photography. People say ‘you’ve got an eye for that’ or ‘your pictures are great’ and ‘how do you know all this stuff’. These comments are gratefully received and give me short lived happiness. The research shows that people who get into the ‘flow’, as it is called, of something they enjoy release natural endorphins that make them happy, I am sure there is many a runner out there that know what I mean. My ‘flow’ at the moment is to get behind a camera and capture the scene, then to get in front of a computer and process that scene. But more than that, also to pass along any and all information I have gathered during this pursuit, so that others can benefit too. After all, it’s not my secret, I didn’t invent it (well not yet), so why not?
These daily posts will be another piece in the jigsaw to enhance my 40% Intentional Activity, I will get a lot out of it. If you do too, then that makes me Happy. There will be other stuff mixed in with the Photo-geekery, like travel, good times, you know, Life Stuff, so hang in there and come along with me for the ride.
Image of the day
Today’s image continues my series from Point Nepean, I have been sharing (previous ones can be found on my Facebook page or my G+ posts). Fortifications have been built on this strategic location at the entrance to Port Phillip guarding the city of Melbourne, since 1878 and enhanced during world war II, but now abandoned. In the background on the right is the entrance to Port Phillip known as The Heads or The Rip with a tug entering and the Point Lonsdale Lighthouse beyond.
Taking a shot at 12:40 on a bright sunny day is not ideal, so some work on reducing highlights, playing with contrast and clarity in Lightroom have brought out some good detail in this shot.