Saturday, 31 August 2013

A Portrait or Two

Dear fellow photographers,

Here are some portraits I took this morning of my daughter, posted with her permission.  I sent them to her unedited but I could not resist the chance to have a bit of a play with them as well.

I finished my two Saturday photo course yesterday, had a great time and learnt about metering an bracketing and shooting in Manual mode and much more .. I have much to practice. The last photo above is the result of using spot metering to deliberately lighten the background. However, I will take my tutor's advice to strive to take a technically good photo first and leaving the added effects to post processing.
Learning the full mysteries of Photoshop will come later..much later, when I'm ready.

Have a good weekend everyone,


Friday, 23 August 2013

Reflections over my shoulder

Fellow photo enthusiasts!

I am so glad there are photo sharing sites that feature collectives of people that photograph some of my favourite subjects on SkyWatch Friday and Weekend Reflections

The reflections site had me going out yesterday after work and looking at things in a different way and on a Friday sunset there were reflections everywhere. Here are two images of my journey home. A bit of cropping, nothing else.

Have a happy weekend everyone. I am off to do a two weekend photo course, first day today!


Thursday, 22 August 2013

I found the moon

Dear Reader,

I live in the Sydney basin, between the mountains and the sea. A large percentage of all Australians live within 200 km from the ocean. In the convict settlement days the first settlers survived with the aid of supplies brought in by boat, so maybe the sea is in our collective subconscious? That and a fear of the wide brown interior!

From birth the knowledge that the sun rises over the sea has been in my subconscious but I had no idea where the moon rose. Much reading and googling brought the knowledge that the moon, like the sun, rises in the east. The times and exact location vary with the rotation of the earth and the orbit of the moon but moonrise is opposite where the sun sets.

I've been trying to get a decent photo of a landscape with the full moon with the equipment I have, that is, a 18-135mm lens before I add a 200mm telescopic lens to my kit. I headed up the mountains and stopped at a tourist information centre and had a chat with a local as to the best places to see the sunset. I did not want to sound too crazy, like 'Hello I am a mad hobby photographer learning her thing and I'm chasing the moon...' The helpful guy said the sunsets up there were a gentle fade into a blue haze because of our forests of eucalyptus trees but that one great place was Govett's Leap Lookout which faces east. Ah Ha!
Edit:  It is actually a good place to photograph the sunrise but all I heard was the word 'east' ..

After a bit of meandering through the sights of Katoomba I headed further and arrived at Govett's Leap and watched a pretty but very subtle blue/pink/cool blue sunset. I set up my camera and tripod and remote cable and keyed in the settings and I waited and.. waited. Other tourists came and went. The car park is just metres from the lookout. It is very accessible. The light kept slowly fading and I wondered if indeed I was in the right place. The temperature kept dropping and the tourists left. I was turning around looking for a moonrise and wondering if I had got the location wrong when another photographer arrived and said 'What are you looking for?' I said ' Would you believe the moon?' He said 'You are in the right place'. It will rise over that ridge in about seven minutes. We chatted and then there it was, a red glimmer behind the ridge and then the full moon rising.

Regarding the settings I used a slow shutter speed and underexposed for the moon. I used an ISO of 1600 which in retrospect was too high. Next time I'll go down a bit but as far as moons go, this is my personal best. Watch this space!

Edited to add:  I have posted this at Sky Watch Friday link here

Friday, 16 August 2013

Morning Jog

Dear Readers,

I am still experimenting landscape photography and what lens to use and when to use it. Sometimes a look through the viewfinder is enough before any shot is taken. Sometimes is takes a comparison snap with one lens then the other to prove what a variety of books have told me, that a landscape with hills and a variety of foreground detail is better shot with a zoom lens. It compresses the hills rather than stretching them out. I like blue ridges and the blue colours. Much as I love sunrises and sunsets blue twilight is equally lovely.

Here is a beach shot done with my zoom lens which gives a more defined line to the hills and the jogger out for his morning exercise.

That is a pile of seaweed on the beach. The next tide will take it away.
I am submitting this to weekend reflections. See James's blog on my sidebar.

Happy Jogging,


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

First light at the edge of the world

Dear photo enthusiasts,

I have been reading a book by photographer Richard I'Anson called Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Photography. Apparently this book is something of a classic and in it's fourth edition. I am finding it very clear and helpful about photography in general. I have been looking for a quote that I can't find so for the time being I will paraphrase it. He said something like "No one ever got a great sunrise shot by staying in bed".

So, dear reader, earlier in the week when I had a day off I set my alarm before dawn, dragged myself out of bed and drove to the coast to photograph the sunrise. I had bought my first wide angle lens, a 10-22mm 3.4-4.5 and wanted to try it out. I'd also bought a Hoya UV filter. I had my tripod with me.

I experimented with a variety of settings with varied success but the very best results were using HDR, a method where three consecutive images are shot at three different exposures. This works well for backlit scenes. Before you get too impressed I will admit that I'd found out that my camera has a setting that does this for me. Sweet!

One such shot..

But my favourite shot is this one, in Av, handheld, done with a panning motion when I saw the bird.

I hope you like!


Monday, 12 August 2013

Sydney Winter - One Two Three

Dear Readers,

As one of my international commenters has noted, winter in Sydney is temperate. The grass stays green, the sky stays blue (mostly) and running around by the sea is a favourite pastime. Here is a seaside park.

By the way, that's not distortion. Those Norfolk pines are hanging off the side of that hill at a rakish angle!

These were shot with my regular 18-135 lens but I have recently bought a wide angle and had some exciting results. Stay tuned!


Friday, 9 August 2013

Winter morning Hawks Nest beach

Dear readers

I am breaking into my Sydney winter series to post a photo from a quick break a couple of months ago to Hawks Nest on the central coast. I was experimenting with the shutter priority setting to get shots of moving water and got this early morning reflection of clouds on the beach.

I am going to post it over at Weekend Reflections. See blog roll. I am there with all the other contributors at the bottom of the page at no 47!
If you've visited here and like my fledgling blog leave a comment!
Have a good weekend,

Hidden cove

An hour's drive south of where I live leads to coastal park with a bush track and there by the water are little corrugated iron shacks .. but why? Then the mystery is solved. They are boat sheds.

I do not own a polarizing filter, these were the colours of the day, but we wait for summer and the languid heat. Then the little boat will come out and be put to sea just for the fun of catching the waves, or catching a bream, or being on the water and talking about nothing.

Happy weekend everybody.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Chair

Today was a beautiful windswept but sunny day. South of Sydney if you head towards Wollongong along the coast, there are a chain of picturesque beaches. On one of those beaches under a large Norfolk Pine there is a chair made out of old fence palings. It sits facing the ocean and has 'RT' engraved on it. If only objects could talk.

What stories they would tell ..


Sunday, 4 August 2013


Packing up after the picnic.

Friday, 2 August 2013



Today is a good day. I have done something that's been on my mind for a while. I've set up a photo blog where I can post and you can comment and I can share my learning curve regarding photography.

Cymbidium Orchids on my balcony, early flowering because of the warm-for-winter July that Sydney has had. Newly opened, perfect.

I love how they catch the light.



What's an Osteospermum? Just about the most photogenic flower on the planet. As soon as I saw one I had to go out and buy them to plant out and photograph, of course.

Osteo means bone in Greek but to me the petals look like fingers.
From Wikipaedia: The scientific name is derived from the Greek osteon (bone) and Latin spermum (seed). It has been given several common names: African daisy, South African daisy, Cape daisy and blue-eyed daisy.

By the way, now that I have come out of the closet, so to speak, and started this blog please be gentle in your comments. I know I have a long way to go while I strive for photographic perfection *cough*but  my main aim is to share a hobby I love.

I have learnt that when getting close to the subject it is very hard to get the balance of composition and focus just right. The orchids in particular, having such a variety of depth to the flowers, left me thinking that no close up would ever do them justice. The more I learn the more I am sometimes frustrated. I have to remind myself that this is something that gives me 'yippee' moments..

Thanks, Val.