Australian Winter

Winter, even here in Australia just the thought of the word conjures up cold wet days, dull gloomy outlooks and evenings where we all prefer to rug up. There is another side of course, there are days where the air is so bright and clear that the colours jump out at you, where clouds in the sky add texture to what is normally a wide blue empty space all summer and where your mind screams at you to get out there and enjoy it.

Snow on the mountainside in Victoria

Snow on the mountainside in Victoria

Recently I had the advantage of being on a mountain during the winter with days of bright sunshine, clear blue skies and deep snow, ideal conditions to get away from the crowds and take those shots that you wouldn’t normally find. Just remember when photographing on snow that the light hits the snow and is reflected back, this will fool your camera into thinking that the image is brighter than it actually is and the result will be a dull grey picture. You can compensate for this by adjusting your camera compensation by a stop or two but this will vary by the day so bracket your shots, at least with digital cameras you can see what you have achieved and adjust to suit.

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The weather closes in

The beautiful days on arrival couldn’t last of course with a snowstorm arriving a few days later but not to worry, just more opportunities right…………..

More images of the Australian Winter can be found in this sites gallery Australia in View’ as well as available through my online shop.

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There’s always time to take it

Evening rainstorm

Evening rainstorm

I’ve been asked when is the best time to take photographs, humorously the best answer is when you have a camera in your hand, mine is never too far away, my DSLR goes with me when I go out at weekends and a compact is permanently in the car, you never know when you will see something interesting, how often have you said “I wish I’d had my camera with me” when the unexpected image appears. The question of course really related to the weather and whilst the above is true enough most people associate good photographs with bright sunny days, blue skies and wisps of cloud in the sky. Generally this is fine after all who doesn’t like a sunny day however look at images that move you, when were they taken, often as not you would say sunrise or sunset or storm clouds moving over hills with the sun peering through.

Stormy Rural Landscape

Stormy Rural Landscape

Snowstorm

Snowstorm

Misty morning in England
Misty morning in England

As you have already guessed photographs need mood and therefore depend upon lighting available at the time to be really effective. I’ve taken photographs as a thunderstorm approaches, on a gloomy fog filled day, at night in the rain and even in a snowstorm on a mountainside; don’t be put off looking for a good image just because the weather isn’t kind to you. I’ve attached examples of each of these types.

High resolution versions of my photographs are available through my online shop, please enjoy.

Getting Closer

There’s nothing quite like getting in close and personal, getting in close to subjects often improves the image, a lecturer once told our camera club that if you wanted the subject to fill the frame then don’t use a longer lens just step closer, useful advice when on most occasions you just happen to have the one lens with you, though maybe not so practical when there are obstacles in front.

I have a Canon EOS 550D and often used the 18-55 IS lens and changed to the EFS 55-250 IS when the subject was just out of reach, often though that meant carrying around the zoom just in case I needed it, more unnecessary weight unless I’m heading somewhere specific and I know that I’m going to make use of it. Most days though the camera is just with me in a shoulder bag with the one lens, an EFS 18-135 IS which makes it lighter and more convenient for general use, especially when I’m climbing up hillsides on these hot days. This is Ok considering that I mostly take landscapes and use the 18mm end of the lens but every so often I find subjects where climbing closer would definitely help.

50mm-Image

50mm-Image

135mm-Image

135mm-Image

I’ve attached two images both of the same subject, a humorous haystack found in South Australia. As can be seen taking one shot at 50mm and the other at 135mm creates two very different images (in this case I couldn’t have walked closer as the farmer had built a barbed wire fence across my path).

The original concept though of getting closer still holds true, when you can do. I’m open to comment.

High resolution versions of my photographs are available through my online shop, please enjoy.

Ghosts

Ever seen a ghost? Me neither but I have been in a number of places spooky enough for me to believe that I may have seen anything or nothing, the mind plays funny tricks like that. Trying to catch a ghost on camera of course makes the chances even more unlikely although do a web search and there are strange looking pictures out there where someone has seen something.

For fun I decided that I would like some ghost pictures and of course thanks to photo editing tools the impossible becomes practical. The two examples attached gives an idea of what can be achieved when you play around with images.

Ghost Train

Ghost Train

In ghost Train I had an image of an abandoned section of railway track and it didn’t take much of a search to find an image of an old steam train coming head on to compliment it. Built in two layers the background is darkened and colourised blue to resemble a night scene. Cut-out the image of the train to be the foreground, scale to size, add a few extras like the lamp and smoke, add some motion blur to give it that out of focus look then adjust transparency so that the background shows through.

Blue Spectre

Blue Spectre

A similar process was used for the Blue Spectre except that I wanted this image in daylight. I’d taken this shot in the beautiful old basement of the ruined abbey at Battle England and thought it created the right mood and a great background. Previously I’d taken some shots of some dancers in medieval costume so utilising the same process I cut-out one of them, scaled, blurred and adjusted transparency to suit. The end result was I believe effective and a bit of fun though I don’t image for a second that they would fool anyone, I’m open to comment.

Further digitally manipulated images can be found in this sites gallery ‘Digital Enhancement’, as well as high resolution versions available through my online shop, please enjoy.

Sunset Opportunities

The sunset time of day can present more varied opportunities than just photographs of the sky with a few interesting clouds in them. That very low sun can set the mood for contra jour shots where as expected you take directly into the light, this would give a strong silhouette to the foreground structure which could be a tree, pier, building etc and show the brightness of the sky behind. The first of these two images demonstrates the basic silhouette effect achieved by shooting into the light and can be achieved at most times of the day.

Silhouette Marker

Silhouette Marker

Alternatively however the lighting of this time of day can be used to accentuate the foreground and produce almost no sky imagery at all, whilst still contra jour. This very different second image of the cyclists was taken utilising the warmth of the setting sun, this creates a very moody atmosphere.

The long ride home

The long ride home

This shot was taken whilst walking along the banks of the river Arno in Florence, the sun was directly in my eyes and all these cyclists were passing me heading home no doubt. The opportunity was too good to miss so with the opportunity of high shutter speeds from my trusty Canon EOS DSLR I listened for the cyclist coming up behind and shot as they went past.

High resolution versions of my photographs are available through my online shop, please enjoy.

Sunrise, Sunset

OK, there you are, on holiday, or down on the beach for the day, or having a relaxing stroll in the hills, its early evening and the sun is setting on the horizon when suddenly the sky lights up in gorgeous colour, yellow, orange, deep red. You know it’s only going to be there a short while and you have your camera with you, hands up those who would take the shot, then another and then watch the spectacle, well who wouldn’t, I see a lot of hands.

OK, there you are, its 5am and you’re snug in bed when suddenly the day breaks in gorgeous colour, deep purples and blues leading to oranges and yellows before disappearing altogether, your camera is on the drawers next to you so of course you leap out of bed, race out of the house and capture the moment. Better still you get up in the dark and head to a favourite location to capture the moment as it happens, hands up those who would take the shot, then another and then watch the spectacle, I don’t see many hands at all.

Sunrise in the Barossa Valley

Sunrise in the Barossa Valley

Sunset Example 1

Sunset Example 1

Sunset Example 2

Sunset Example 2

Both of course can be spectacular but you can guess which one there are more shots of. For the record I’m not really a morning person, I will take sunrise if I have to be up or specifically plan to be up but mostly I concentrate on sunsets so that I can use them as backdrops to create something else.

One thing is certain, lots of cloud formations make more interesting displays so straight after a storm is a great time. One other thing is certain, most times that you wait for a spectacular sunset to occur the light just fades away to nothing so when they do occur capture it all.

Attached is a sunrise and some example sunsets taken with my Canon EOS DSLR that could only end up as backdrops.

High resolution versions of my photographs are available through my online shop, please enjoy.

Digital Manipulation 1

Bit of a mouthful, in other words things you can do to an image to change it into something else, or enhance it. The question is often asked whether an image should be changed at all, well I think that it depends on what you are trying to achieve. If it’s a record shot then change nothing, what you record is exactly what you want to remember. However lots of us photographers are not after record shots, something for the history books or the family album what we are trying to achieve is a final impression, a mood, a feeling, creating something that you enjoy looking at and others will enjoy also. I’ve seen some wonderful landscapes taken by the pro’s who have staked a location and waited for the right season and time of day to take the shot in, I wish at times that I had the capability to do that. For most of us though when photographing landscapes nature is not always kind enough to present the ideal environment, just the right lighting or just the right colours and often this could be the only visit, you are locked into that day and time of day, so take the shot anyway and back on the computer give it a little help.

 

Take the original tree, remove the dull sky, boost the colour and lighting on the tree itself, embed the new sunset sky as a background and boost its colours to suit.

Happy, then merge the sandwich and save as a new image “Winter Sunset’.

The result is a more pleasing image after manipulation, of course if you prefer the original record shot then you still have the dull flat tree shot…..

Rome, the Dream

Rome, I dreamt of going there for a long time, even when I lived in England and it was only a short flight away, every year there always seemed to be somewhere else I had to go. When you have a young family life’s like that.  Now I live in Australia, the family’s grown up and all I had to do was go. The dream became reality in 2011, armed with my trusty Canon EOS 550D and a couple of lenses I was determined to record every living moment of it, from the small hotel we booked into to the splendour of the preserved ruins seen from the Palatine hill, Rome truly is a wonderful city.

The Coliseum of Ancient Rome

The Coliseum of Ancient Rome

The views attached are of The Coliseum (a must see although if you are intending to visit the old city ( Palatine) next to it then I suggest that you go there first, the queues are much shorter and the ticket also gives entrance to the Coliseum afterwards so you can bypass the long queues and just enter). The Vatican City, just for the splendour whether you are catholic or not and the Saint Angelo Bridge leading to the castle which is in itself interesting enough but there is also a café on the top where you can sit in a gun embrasure with coffee and enjoy some great views of the city.

Vatican City

Vatican City

Add to this the numerous piazza’s with their beautiful fountains, restaurants, cafes, markets and wonderful buildings like the Pantheon, 2000 years old and still in use today, the very ornate cathedrals and older churches. The list is endless, every road I walked seemed to lead to something new to see and record.

Sitting in a small café one lunchtime enjoying pizza and a local beer (what else) gave time to reflect and enjoy the moment, 8 days was definitely not long enough for me, and will I go back, well I can dream can’t I.

Saint Angelo Bridge Rome

Saint Angelo Bridge Rome

Further pictures of Rome can be found in this sites gallery ‘Images outside Australia’, as well as available through my online shop, please enjoy.

Australia – Flinders Ranges

The outback, an unforgiving land of dry arid desert, wide open spaces and views that can go on forever that can be both dangerous and stunningly beautiful. For the photographer the scenes and opportunities are endless. The views attached taken with a Canon EOS digital camera are from a small part of this vast wilderness, the Flinders Ranges are about 430Km inland from Adelaide in South Australia to one of its best known locations Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheatre of mountains that is now a national park and tourist attraction. There is a wonderful feeling of remote isolation climbing to the top of a bluff and not being able to see another person in any direction as you wait for the light to change to photograph the scene below.

More images of the Flinders Ranges can be found in this sites gallery ‘Australia in View’ as well as available through my online shop.

Australia, the Barossa Valley

Barossa Landscape Australia
Barossa Landscape Australia
Australian Landscape

Barossa Landscape in Autumn

Australia, a land of variable landscapes and conditions, being so huge its understandable that there can be tropical rainforests in one area and arid deserts in another. Living near Adelaide in South Australia the climate is more what you would expect in the Mediterranean and out here in the Barossa Valley the area abounds in Vineyards and Wineries so naturally my photography encompasses views of the area as the seasons change. During autumn (March to May) the vines change to a golden colour and the lighting gives images a warm feeling, an ideal time for photography. Continue reading