Green Point to Dendy Street Brighton with the Lee Big Stopper

Green Point is just a little further south of the popular Dendy Street beach at Brighton. A lovely stretch of beach and a favourite for visitors to Melbourne with its colourfully painted bathing boxes.

A visit on a rather chilly and windy day made for a great opportunity to do some long exposures where the movement of the waves could be flattened out and the clouds would streak nicely across the sky.

Using the Nikon D810 and a wide angle lens it was a matter of reducing the bright morning light sufficiently to increase the exposures to around 90 seconds. With the clouds moving quite quickly on the day, this was enough to produce some great effects using a 10 stop Lee Big Stopper neutral density filter.

With the filter in place and the eyepiece covered in order to block out any stray light creeping in through the viewfinder, the rest was just a matter of finding the right composition.

Here are a few results from the day, I hope you like the effect.

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Kilcunda Ocean Beach

A visit to Kilcunda on a field trip with our local photography group initially posed a few challenges weather wise. Overcast conditions and a few light showers passing through the region made one have to think at first as to how to approach the venture. Kilcunda is a seaside town located 117 kilometres south east of Melbourne between Phillip Island and Wonthaggi on the Bass Highway, in the Bass Coast Shire of Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. On previous visits I have only ever seen the area bathed in clear blue skies with white capped waves rolling off the gorgeous blue ocean. Today was a little different – dull and cloudy with a chilly wind. So what to do. I wandered around for quite a while looking at familiar subjects and trying to become inspired. It wasn’t until I actually picked up the camera and held it in my hand that ideas started to come together. It must be the magical powers of the SLR. Starting with the old trestle bridge that spans the Bourne Creek the problem was the wind whipping up ripples on the water that spoilt the reflections. Ok so some long exposures were needed to flatten out the water. Surprisingly the results were rather pleasing.

Trestle Bridge at Bourne Creek

Trestle Bridge at Bourne Creek

_GNE6065 _GNE6053 V3 BLOG With the low tide many of the rocks were more exposed than I had seen them before. This gave the opportunity to venture out a litter further than normal and once again some long exposures were the theme. _GNE6070 _GNE6092 DPI Blu _GNE6086 DPI Blu Well that took care of a couple of hours of the day, provided some exercise and fresh air in the lungs so all in all it turned out a rather successful venture. A quick visit to nearby Shelley Beach and a hearty lunch topped off the day. _GNE6096

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The amazing rock formations here are very different from the ones near the creek and would easily warrant another visit just for them alone. Yes there’s always another day and another reason to come back.

Having a Ball With Your Camera

Following on from my recent article on sunstars here’s another way of adding something different to your portfolio.

Firstly I might add that its a little quirky and may not win favour with the competition judges, but hey, who are you trying to please when you put your camera to your eye.

For me this is a little project that I’ve commenced and the end product will be in the form of a book when I have sufficient material. Ok so what’s he on about I hear you saying !

What I’m on about is Crystal Ball Photography

Using a pure clear crystal ball to capture the whole image as a miniature world has a fascination for me and I wish I had started earlier. I can now imagine how some of the iconic views of places like Monument Valley would have looked had I discovered my passion a couple of years ago rather than a couple of months ago. Anyway the project has begun and the ideas are as clear as crystal in my mind as to what I want to achieve.

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Here’s a shot of the set up that I use. Having the ball sitting on a tripod gives me flexibility to move around freely with the camera in order to compose the image just the way I want it.

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As you can see the distance you set yourself up from the ball will be determined by the focal length of your lens and the minimum focus distance it is capable of going down to. A lens with a macro focussing  feature will give you the ability to get much closer to the ball of course.

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What I do is to set the focus manually to the minimum distance and then move myself closer until the image in the ball is perfectly sharp.

I have found shooting in aperture priority gives me ultimate control of depth of field. The aperture that you use will determine just how much detail you will have in the background according to the dof. I am still experimenting with that and trying to decide whether I want  sufficient detail to place the ball image into context with the background detail or whether a totally blurry background drives the viewer’s eye to the sharp image in the ball. I am thinking that it really depends on the image as some seem to work better either way.

Here’s what I mean about context.

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The view of the background while very blurred still resembles the scene to the extent that you can recognise the shapes of the bridge and city buildings. This gives the ball a floating effect, especially if you eliminate the stand in post capture editing.

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Here in this shot of the Polly Woodside I have purposly blurred out the busy background so the ship is the only really recognisable feature.

One piece of optical physics that you will quickly discover is that your image in the ball appears upside down. That’s when you need good friends with photoshop skills that can teach you how to rotate the ball in relation to the background. It looks much better than having buildings hanging upside down from the sky.

Another thing I have discovered is that for it to be an interesting image within the ball it must be an interesting scene to start with so look around for interesting subjects.

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This image taken at Queenscliff was worthy of being photographed either way so a couple of “before the ball” shots are justified. Its all too easy to become so engrossed in what you are doing that you forget to lift your eyes and get the bigger picture as well.

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Going under the jetty was fascinating as the fish-eye effect really came into play in this shot in the confinement of the pylons.

Finally I discovered that sunsets work really well, with this shot taken on a warm summer evening at Half Moon Bay, Black Rock

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That about wraps up this session on having fun with your camera. If you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer them of course.

Oh and one last tip. Don’t hold the ball in your hand on a sunny day unless you are good at juggling. I learnt very quickly that the concentrated sun’s rays will burn just like a magnifying glass.

The Colorado Plateau Revisited – Part 5 Arches National Park Region

Our next destination was Arches National Park with some stops along the way to view The Fluted Wall and other attractions. Following on are a couple of shots of Mesa Arch in Canyonlands N.P. renowned for the way the sunlight reflects up under the arch giving off a luminous glow at the right time of day.

I’ll let the images tell the story but as you can see the skies are again interesting with fluffy white clouds.

Highway Heaven

Highway Heaven

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The Fluted Wall

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Arches N.P. Utah

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Balanced Rock – Arches National Park

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Antlers In The Sky

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Abandoned Cart

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North Window

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North Window – Arches National Park

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The Fluted Wall

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North Window – Arches N.P.

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Turret Arch Sunstar

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Turret Arch – Arches National Park

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Fall Colours – Capitol Reef

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Mesa Arch – Canyonlands N.P.

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Mesa Arch – Canyonlands N.P.

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Mesa Arch

The Colorado Plateau Revisited – Part 4 Kodachrome Basin State Park

After Bryce Canyon we headed on to Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah. It is situated 5,800 feet above sea level, 12 miles south of Utah Route 12, and 20 miles southeast of Bryce Canyon National Park. On the day that we arrived it was obvious that there was a change in the weather happening as the sunny blue skies continued to darken with the approach of a heavy cloud bank. The walking tracks through the colourful formations were interspersed with wash-outs and dry creek beds. With the approaching weather one eye was kept on the sky while we spent a couple of hours exploring the tracks. A heavy deluge would have certainly spelt trouble but the photography had to be done never the less. Much to my surprise with all the threatening build, up not a drop of rain or snow fell on the park, it all went around us. Nearby peaks above 8,000 feet did get a covering overnight but we just got the spectacular sky show. Enjoy the images and watch the skies as I take you on a tour of this truly remarkable place. _GNE1587 Str _GNE1742_GNE1738 _GNE1718 _GNE1714 _GNE1712 _GNE1680 _GNE1670 Vt Pano _GNE1668 _GNE1667 Hat Shop _GNE1664 _GNE1661 _GNE1659 _GNE1658 WEB copy _GNE1649 PANO WEB _GNE1632 _GNE1631 WEB _GNE1628 WEB _GNE1620 _GNE1609 WEB _GNE1606 WEB _GNE1740_GNE1597 WEB _GNE1593 WEB

The Colorado Plateau Revisited Pt. 3 – Chequerboard Mesa, Red Canyon & Bryce Canyon

Moving on from the fabulous Zion National Park we headed for Chequerboard Mesa, Red Canyon and finally Bryce Canyon where we stayed at Ruby’s Inn, a fabulous western style lodge.

These first couple of images are of Chequerboard Mesa, a remarkable white sandstone formation carved into square blocks by the elements and the effects of erosion.

Chequerboard Mesa

Chequerboard Mesa

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Chequerboard Mesa & Old Tree

Our next stop was Red Canyon aptly named with its rich red colouring and stark blue skies. Traversing the tracks amongst the formations was rather difficult with all the loose gravel and stone. One had to be careful to remain upright and avoid ending up with a dusty red seat on their pants.

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Ridge walkers at Red Canyon

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Red Canyon Formations

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Red Canyon – Balanced Formations

Our destination of Bryce Canyon allowed for a couple of days viewing the Hoodoos – the name given to the towering columns, and exploring the canyon floor. A photographers delight, the richly coloured canyons and structures cast magnificent reflected light that simply glows as if it was illuminated from within in some cases. The following images taken over a couple of days will give you some idea of this amazing place.

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A lone photographer taking it to the edge.

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Clinging on for life.

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Tree roots suspended by the effects of erosion.

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The Colorado Plateau Revisited Pt 2….. Zion National Park

Following on from Snow Canyon we made our way to the town of Springdale, Utah, just outside the Zion National Park, our base for a few days of exploration within the park.

Surrounded by brilliant orange mountains that turn a gorgeous shades at sunset, the reflections of The Watchman in the pond at the back of our lodgings made a spectacular sight at sunset.

The Watchman Reflection

The Watchman Reflection

The Virgin River meanders through the Zion Valley with towering mountains of various shades of colour dominating the surroundings.

Virgin River

Virgin River

Virgin River

Virgin River

Virgin River Rapids

Virgin River Rapids

Formed over millions of years the different coloured layers of sandstone depict the expanse of time with their stratified patterns.

Huge  Canyons & Marvellous Views

Huge Canyons & Marvellous Views

Never happy with running water, the local Beaver population are hard at work designing and constructing their next dam project. Felling trees and blocking the river flow allows for a happy lifestyle.

Beaver work in progress

Beaver work in progress

Towering mountains and tall trees make a perfect location to capture a few Sunstars.

Zion Valley Sunstar

Zion Valley Sunstar

Emerald Pools Walk Sunstar

Emerald Pools Walk Sunstar

Scouts Lookout Sunstar

Scouts Lookout Sunstar

The long winding trail to Scouts Lookout was well worth the effort for the fabulous views along the way. Rising to over 5,500 feet above sea level the zig zag track seemed to go on forever.

Scouts Lookout Trail

Scouts Lookout Trail

Red glowing sandstone cliffs and sparse vegetation

Red glowing sandstone cliffs and sparse vegetation

The green cacti makes a stark reminder of the harsh conditions.

The green cacti makes a stark reminder of the harsh conditions.

Another beautiful tree

Another beautiful tree

As you can see Zion N.P. is a captivating place to visit and one I would recommend that you spend a few days exploring.

Watch for Part 3 of our journey coming soon as next we visit Red Canyon, Chequerboard Mesa and Bryce Canyon.