The Colorado Plateau Revisited – Pt.1

Three years ago, in 2011 we did a photographic tour in the USA of the Colorado Plateau, mostly taking in the states of Utah and Arizona and their National and State Parks. The opportunity arose to re-visit the region in October/November this year armed with much improved photographic techniques and better equipment.  With three weeks and over 5,000 km of travelling behind us we have returned with some amazing images – too many for a single article. Enjoy the journey and the scenery as we work through the journey a bit at a time.

Commencing in Las Vegas we headed East to the border of Nevada and Utah to visit Snow Canyon State Park, a 7,400 acre scenic park. The State Park was declared in 1959 with the region being the original home of the Anasazi Indians and later the Paiute Indians who used the canyon from A.D. 1200 to the mid 1800’s. Mormon pioneers discovered the canyon originally named it the Dixie State Park until it was later named after prominent Utah pioneers Lorenzo and Erastus Snow.

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Multi-coloured Navajo sandstone deposits feature in the landscape.

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Wildflowers and bushy vegetation along with narrow leaf Yucca plants survive the low 7.5 inch annual rainfall.

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Prickly cactus trees are a feature.

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Yellow daisies contrast amongst the various blues and greens of the vegetation.

The Navajo sandstone is the predominant rock in the park having been created over 183 million years by tiny grains of quartzite sand carried by wind. In more recent geological times lava flows and waterways carved new canyons through the area. The variety of coloured sandstone and granite are prominent features of the region.

Patterns and layers of different coloured sandstone reveal the history of the area.

Patterns and layers of different coloured sandstone reveal the history of the area.

Lava, cactus and sandstone depict a harsh climate

Lava, cactus and sandstone depict a harsh climate

Coming soon…. Part 2 where we visit Zion National Park

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A Day At The Beach

With camera in hand and in the company of good friends, today was an ideal chance to explore and photograph a few areas of the Mornington Peninsula.  Of course one must get their priorities right, so it was essential to stop off at the local coffee shop in Sorrento and sample their famous vanilla slices along the way.

The timing and lighting wasn’t ideal for that perfect shot, but it did give us ideas for a repeat visit when conditions better suited the camera. Given what I managed to capture on the day, the following images lent themselves to some special treatment and even I was quite surprised with the results. I rather like the artistic painting effect, something I was never any good at with a brush.

All in all the day was most enjoyable and the images became a bonus.

Portsea Beach ART Blog Bay of Islands BLOG Shelley Beach ART Blog

Sky Show

Once again the pattern in our weather repeats itself. Hot (read as warm in this instance) strong northerly winds from the inland buffeting Melbourne are followed by a south-westerly cool change that sweeps across Port Phillip Bay.

In mid summer the consequences are much more dangerous when the temperatures are up around 40 degrees and bush fire risk is extreme. Fortunately on this occasion the Spring change heralded a drop from 25 degrees to 13 degrees so the fire danger was low. Still spectacular to watch the rapidly changing clouds.

Here’s how the stormy sky looked as the front rolled in.

Spectacular clouds as the cold front approaches mid afternoon.

Spectacular clouds as the cold front approaches mid afternoon.

Putting It All Together

For a long time, too long in fact, I have been planning to organise my local images into some sort of manageable order. By local, I refer to photographs from around the coastal area where I have always lived and photographed for many years. Rather than having everything arranged folders according to the years they were taken, and lumped in with every other photo shoot done in that year, I finally created some new folders that had a much more logical format.

The new format sorts the images into location and has brought everything into a much more user friendly order. Just that simple process has made me realise that I have some great images and the idea hame to mind to put it all together into a form that would make it easier to appreciate them. With that simple process I decided to create a calendar and a book. The title would be “Bayside – From Black Rock to Parkdale” and so the project began.

Here’s the actual Introduction Page from the book:

Within this book you will find many beautiful images of a wonderful part of Port Phillip Bay, the eastern shores, from Black Rock to Parkdale. While Beaumaris and Black Rock fall within the City of Bayside and Mentone/Parkdale are part of the City of Kingston, I have concentrated mainly on photographing the Black Rock to Beaumaris area for quite some years until more recently.

My earliest photographs are of Half Moon Bay, Black Rock, my place of birth and where I spent my childhood. On the next two pages you will see two photographs, one in colour and the other black and white. I can remember very clearly the day I rode my bicycle as a teenager to take a few shots of the pier and boats moored in the harbour. That was in September 1964, some 50 years ago, and that very photograph appears on the next page. In those days it was black and white film, long before the invention of digital photography.

HMVS Cerberus 1965

HMVS Cerberus 1965

To celebrate the half century, I decided to re-visit the same spot to capture the effects of time and tide on the rusting hulk of the HMVS Cerberus. Upon arrival, I soon discovered that road making and building development meant that it was impossible to reproduce the exact same image. The main impediment was construction of the new Black Rock Yacht Club building that blocked a considerable part of the vista. To the best of my ability (and memory), I did manage to get somewhere near the same location and perspective in order to reproduce the shot.

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The same location 50 years later.

A lot has changed in that time. The Cerberus has partially collapsed and much of it is now below the water line. Not to mention the considerable list to one side. The pier has been renovated and landings constructed for boat launching. Most of the old wobbly planks that formed the deck have been replaced with newer timbers that too are showing some ageing but nowhere the character that the old ones had.

A lot has changed in that time. The Cerberus has partially collapsed and much of it is now below the water line. Not to mention the considerable list to one side. The pier has been renovated and landings constructed for boat launching. Most of the old wobbly planks that formed the deck have been replaced with newer timbers that too are showing some ageing but nowhere the character that the old ones had.

The moored boats and Brewer’s Boat Hire with its orange clinker built boats has long gone as too have the floating buoys that they tied up to. Of course the car park has been remodelled, paved and parking fees now apply to all but the City of Bayside rate payers who now bear parking permits on their windscreen.

Well that’s progress I guess, but how much of the charm of the era flows back to you when you can see it all before your eyes in the form of a photograph, especially those that you have taken yourself. The area is a part of me and I am a part of the area, and I guess that’s where my passion for photography began.

Half Moon Bay, Black Rock

Half Moon Bay, Black Rock

The following pages of images depict the changing moods as captured by the modern camera and extend a little further than my first ventures on my bicycle. Rickett’s Point and Beaumaris feature in the middle section of the book, particularly around the Marine Park area where the measured mile marker, a maritime navigational aid, creates a point of interest. Now days the area is often visited by flocks Pelicans that find food and shelter in the little coves and rock pools.

Navigational Marker - Rickett's Point

Navigational Marker – Rickett’s Point

Pelicans Feeding - Rickett's Point, Beaumaris

Pelicans Feeding – Rickett’s Point, Beaumaris

Mentone Beach

Mentone Beach

Moving along further south we visit the beaches of Mentone and Parkdale where an old timber construction features in several images. Many people wrongly think it is the remains of the old Mentone pier, which it isn’t. Others also wrongly believe it is the remnants of the old sea baths, but these were located further north nearer Seagull Rock. A local historian believes that it is the remains of what may have been a timber construction covering and protecting an old brick storm water drain.

Whatever is was is a matter of conjecture, however, I do know that it makes an interesting subject to photograph on the shoreline. I don’t know how much longer it will remain in place as recent storms have damaged parts of it to a point where the local council may well one day decide that it should be removed as it serves no other useful purpose other than to amuse us photographers.

This area of the coastline underwent many changes over the decades. As mentioned, there used to be a pier at Mentone and Sea Baths at Parkdale and lovely craggy sandstone cliffs between the shore and Beach Road. The cliffs were blasted and re-aligned during the 1960’s for safety reasons due to erosion and instability. That is something that would just never happen in this day and age.

How I wish that I had been around with my camera to record more of the history of the area before it was destroyed by a combination of nature and human intervention.

Old Sea Baths and Mentone Pier in the distance

Old Sea Baths and Mentone Pier in the distance

Mentone - Parkdale Beach

Mentone – Parkdale Beach

These are a sample of some of the images I have accumulated over the years. Many more appear in the book and a selection were also used to produce a calendar. Both these item may be viewed on the following links.

Another Spectacular Weather Event

Weather and photography, what a great combination of interests to have on a day when you can bring the two together. Today was just one of those days. Ok, so I am totally aware of all things Meteorological, with a lifetime interest in the weather and having spent several years employed by the BOM, initially trained as a weather observer. Then add to the mix a passion for photography and hey, I’m in my element on a day like this. This is how I enjoyed the afternoon and the event that unfolded.

With strong northerly winds for most of the day, the temperature reaches a pleasant 20 degrees, one of the warmest days for many weeks. Blue skies start to be invaded from the west early in the afternoon as a strong cold front approaches Melbourne. A check on the weather radar shows that it has passed through the western coastal parts of the state and temperatures there have fallen to around 9 degrees.

A sharp line of rain associated with the squall line appears to be rapidly heading towards the city and the advancing front is likely to create a spectacular view across Port Phillip Bay. So that means just one thing, time to grab the camera and head for the beach at Black Rock (where I grew up) for the best vantage point.


Blue skies start to turn grey

Blue skies start to turn grey in the north-west

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The front progressively advances towards Melbourne

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The sky darkens and the temperature begins to fall


The light starts to fail as the cloud advances. Still the strong northerly winds continue to buffet the coast and holding the camera steady becomes even more difficult in the conditions. Fortunately the direction of the wind is such that the local promenade and bluestone retaining wall escape damage on this occasion. The storm that struck the area more recently heralded damaging winds from the west and some of the temporary orange fencing closing off the area to the public can be seen in the image below.

and from the south-west

The view from the south-west

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One local resident takes a stroll oblivious to the weather event

Roll cloud associated with storm front

Roll cloud associated with storm front gets darker and darker

As the front passes through the chill of the fresh south-westerly wind can be felt and the temperature rapidly drops by about 10 degrees, heavy rain begins to fall so its time to put the camera away and head for home. Another spectacular performance by Mother Nature. Other than one or two curious onlookers most people missed the show that was there for all to see. But of course they will be turning on the TV to see the evening news unaware that they could have watched it in person and the tickets were free.

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A distinct flat base forms as the dark line of the wind squall begins to appear on the horizon

Panorama view of the storm front

180 degree panoramic view of the storm front









The Lights of Melbourne

As a part of the photography course I am running for our local camera club, I along with my team of helpers, took the group on a night shoot along the Yarra River. After a month of unusually cold and wet weather we were fortunate to have one of the mildest nights for a while. The temperature was around 13 degrees but best of all, there was no wind chill.

Arriving at Southbank and meeting up at 6.00 pm, we were early enough to catch the last of the lovely blue light that lingers for a while after sunset. With the city buildings still fully illuminated as the office workers headed home at the end of the day, the group were keen to capture the spectacle that lay before them.

Many arrived early and prepared themselves with the instructions issued the week prior and were already capturing the views from the Princes Bridge when I arrived. It was most rewarding to see how they were all getting spectacular results with little assistance. What does one do when toting a new camera purchased less than a week prior – join them of course.

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The first chance to put the Nikon D810 to the test and grab a couple of quick images while the twilight lasted was well rewarded. The lovely light gave the city buildings nice relief against the darkening sky with just the hint of light cloud to add to the interest. The new camera performed even better than I anticipated.

Once the best of the light was gone and everyone had their shots, we arranged the large group of twenty into smaller groups, each with an experienced leader from our training team. From the bridge, we worked our way along the river at various levels capturing the spectacle along the way. Everyone was getting great images with the groups putting into practice what we had taught in the class room over the previous month. Focussing, exposure compensation and managing to master a tripod for the first time raised some small challenges for various individuals at first but by the end of the night everyone had mastered the tasks and learnt a lot from the exercise.

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For me, it was a most rewarding experience. To see the group so totally consumed and enjoying what they were doing was wonderful. My assistants, Bob, Peter, John and my wife Val had an equally enjoyable time helping their group members and explaining various aspects of how to shoot the locations. They were also equally rewarded with the satisfaction of seeing the students capturing night-time images, in many cases, for the first time ever.

The night wrapped up with a hot coffee and a chat in one of the local Southbank establishments before we made our way home. The question was put to me “When can we do this again” which I think tells a story in itself.


Storm Damages Bayside Beaches

On June 24th, much of the Victorian coastline was battered by heavy winds and rain as an intense low pressure system passed our State.

The beaches along the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay particularly bore the brunt of the combination of high winds and the storm surge that saw huge waves crashing along the coast. Where I live in the City of Bayside we have some of the finest beaches and facilities on the bay and these too suffered the wrath of the elements.

At Black Rock we have a popular walking path along the promenade that was built during the depression years of the 1930’s. The retaining sea wall was constructed of bluestone blocks and capped with concrete slabs to prevent erosion to the cliffs by the sea. Shown below is the sea wall prior to the storm.

Sea Wall Built in the 1930's

Sea Wall Built in the 1930’s

Huge seas crashed against the wall for hours on end and as the backwash met the next incoming surge, massive amounts of water smashed over the wall and up as high as the road level. Capping stones and blocks of bluestone were tossed about by the force of the waves as if they were mere paperweights.



Huge waves break over the sea wall.

Huge waves break over the sea wall just south of the clock tower at Black Rock

The next day the full extent of the damage became apparent.

Rocks and debris litter the path

Rocks and debris litter the path

Opposite Third Street, Black Rock

Opposite Third Street, Black Rock

A little further north at Half Moon Bay more destruction was happening, this time it was the main jetty that was suffering the most damage. A landing at the end of the jetty broke away and launching ramp landings adjacent to the main jetty also broke up and washed up on to the nearby beach.

The landings before the storm

The landings before the storm


The landing before the storm

After the storm

After the storm

Damaged lower landing

Damaged lower landing

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Jetty landings lay on the beach in large sections

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Not even the recycling bins escaped being washed away

The remains of the jetty landings

The remains of the jetty landings

Half Moon Bay was a sight to be seen during the day with the main car park awash.  Waves were crashing over the rocks and water was flowing across the bitumen and out the other end near the main jetty. Rocks and debris littered the area.

View from the Half Moon Bay Lifesaving Club

View from the Half Moon Bay Lifesaving Club

Looking south from the car park Half Moon Bay, Black Rock

Looking south from the car park Half Moon Bay, Black Rock

Debris litters the car park as more storm clouds gather

Debris litters the car park as more storm clouds gather

The main jetty entrance  and HMVS Cerberus display gets a bath

The main jetty entrance and HMVS Cerberus display gets a bath

Meanwhile further down the line at Rickett’s Point, damage was occurring to the shoreline in the Marine Park. Much of the recently planted vegetation was being destroyed by the pounding waves, much to the despair of the locals involved in the recent restoration project. A massive clean up will be needed to restore the area to its former state once the weather improves.

Rickett's Point Marine Park carpark.

Rickett’s Point Marine Park carpark.

Water inundates the roadway.

Water inundates the roadway.

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The picnic table is now living on the edge

This is not the first big storm to hit the area, I have photographed similar events in 2009 and 2012, but neither were as damaging as this one. There is a history of such events, many dating back to the early 1900’s. Records indicate that 1936 was a bad year and many bayside structures were either destroyed or severely damaged.

We can be sure it won’t be the last either.