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Quiet Thursdays: Some Time to Relax

It has been crazy, good crazy, but still crazy this year.  I love being busy, but I think I need a holiday now. I’m off to a breakfast this morning to celebrate International Women’s Day which should be nice.  Though I have to say, I have heard the political party that is in power at the moment, the Liberals, apparently have organised an event to celebrate International Women’s Day as well, but it is in a men’s only club.  I am not sure what message they are trying to say, but can’t help thinking it’s that they really don’t care about women, which has been proven time and time again.

Last weekend I was in Jan Juc, which is near Torquay with Chris from sv-takeiteasy and we took some sunrise shots and a few others around the beaches there.  It was very relaxing, though the sunrise was a bit disappointing, one minute it was there, the next, it was gone, we only got a couple of shots.  Then we walked along the beach and took more.  After breakfast we went for a drive to Bells Beach and there is one shot from there.  I still have lots to work on one.  It was good fun and playing around with slow shutter speeds was also good.

I am just going to put them into a gallery for you now, there aren’t many, but expect you will see more as time goes on. To all the women who follow my blog I hope you have a lovely International Women’s Day.

MM52: Monochrome Madness One Year On

We did it. Congratulations everyone who has participated, what a great achievement.

We made it to our first anniversary for Monochrome Madness.  I don’t know about you, but I have produced so many monochrome images in the last 12 months, well, at least 52 as I have done one every week that we have done this.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of doing this, and love how it drives me to keep going each week and doing more monochrome images.

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I had to get help with what image to choose, it was so tough, but in the end my friend Chris and I decided this was a stand out.  I took this earlier this year at the Pinnacles on Phillip Island.  It was a long exposure and I do love how it came out.  So this is my favourite from the last 12 months.  Of course there were others, but I do really love this one.

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Laura Macky has sent her favourite image from the last 12 months and this is it.  If you want to read more about it then go to her post, One Year Anniversary Monochrome Madness 52.

Don’t forget all the instructions on how to enter your own images are at the bottom of the post.  If you have entered an image then please remember to check your image in the gallery, scroll down and see if anyone has left you any comments.

MM52 One Year Anniversary

Here are the submissions for this week.  Don’t forget to check out the links for the galleries of their favourite MM favourite images.

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Now, Monochrome Madness will continue next week and if you wish to participate and submit an image here is how you do it:-

  • You must email me the image you want to include and if you have a blog or website, or somewhere else, please include the link. My email address is leanne@leannecole.com.au
  • The image size should be low res, so the largest side should be 1000 pixels or less.
  • Please insert either your name or your blogs name in the file name.
  • Remember I am on Australian time, so with GMT I am +11 hours at the moment, I publish my post on Wednesday morning.
  • If you need more help with sending images, and get confused about time zones, etc, well, there is a great website called The World Clock, if you go to that and look at Melbourne time, if it’s before 6pm on Tuesday evening, then you can still send me images.  If it’s after that time, you can send me an image, but it will be set aside for the following week.
  • Remember to include a link to your blog or website.
  • Please remember to resize your images, it is fairly simply, you just need to go into any editing software and usually under Image you will find, resize, scale, or image size, something like that and you can resize your image there. Change the dimensions to pixels and make the longest side 1000 pixels or smaller, hit return, and for most types of software that should change the other side automatically as well. Just remember to save it with a different name so you know it is the smaller version.  If you have any problems, please contact me, I don’t mind helping out.

Please note you don’t have to be a WordPress blogger to be in this challenge, you can have a link to a Facebook page, a Flickr page, anywhere really, or no link.  We just want to encourage people to do monochrome images, just for the madness of it. Just to let you know also, that as soon as the challenge is published, all emails and images you have sent me are deleted from my computer.  I respect your copyright and would never keep any of the images.

Tuesday’s Bits and Bobs: Catching Up

Slowly but surely I am starting to catch up with everything.  Things are starting to take shape and I can start planning some new things.

Newsletter

The Newsletter finally went out yesterday.  Sorry, it took me so long to get it out.  I will make sure that doesn’t happen again. I had problems with my computer and I couldn’t do any tutorials, but hopefully that will be fixed for next time.

Online Classes

I just want to mention them again as I have just had one person sign up, so it reminded me that others might be interested.  They are a great way to get individual tuition.  I charge $350 for five claripponleal-20131011-8938sses and they last for an hour to two hours, depending on how we go.  We can look at camera skills or photo editing.  It will really be directed by you.

Writing

I have decided to start writing some better articles for the Up for Discussion posts.  I want to get better at writing and I need to experiment with you guys, so I am hoping to start writing better articles on photography for you.  It is a direction that I think I would really like to go.  Especially since teaching is so much harder than I thought it would be.  So look out, hoping to do my first this Friday, one on Tripods.

Social Snappers

I’m also thinking about making some changes to Social Snappers and perhaps expanding it to something else as well.  I have been trying to advertise it  here in Melbourne, but it has been great, people are looking at the excursions but not doing them.  I enjoy them so much so I want to see what I can dripponleal-20131011-8846o to get more people to come to them.

I also want to start offering some Social Snapper one off classes, like teaching night photography in the city, or doing a class down the coast on photographing the milky way.  Doing editing classes.  Make it a more complete thing, rather than just going out and taking photos, but offering more as well.

I will announce more soon.

Trip to the USA

ripponleal-20131011-8917No more word yet, it looks likely I will be there early in September.  I don’t know what it will be like there. I suspect I will miss the fall colours, too soon, but we can hope for a mild summer and an early Autumn.

Photos

Today I went back into the archives to look for photos.  I found some that I remember taking, it was of Ripponlea.  I loved going there, it is such a beautiful building, but it is the gardens that are lovely.

I’m off now, I will be out getting more photos today.  I feel like I am doing it all the time at the moment, it is wonderful.  I hope you have a good day.

 

Introductions: Alien Shores

Today I would like to introduce you to a blog I found and have been keeping an eye on for a while now. I would like to introduce Alien Shores, which, according to his About page, is about, “Searching for Light … here on earth, and in the dusty lanes of the Milky Way where alien shores beckon”. What a great description and as you go through his blog, that is what you find.

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There are quite a few photos of the Milky Way, something I really enjoy doing and hope to get back into once daylight savings finishes here.  I really enjoyed the country settings he used in his image, which would probably be because he lives in Bathurst, a town in country New South Wales here in Australia. There would be plenty of places to go and photograph the milky way out there.

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Lots of misty morning shots, the use of the weather is an important lesson for me.  I like how he has got these early morning shots, I’m assuming they are morning judging the fog, and the light, stunning really. I also really like his use of colour in the images. To me they say early morning, and that time of day really brings out that intensity, that brilliant gold.

I asked him how long he had been taking photos for!

I started taking photos of landscapes and buildings during University days in the 70’s when I studied Architecture at UTS … The camera back then was an Olympus OM10. In time the equipment failed, and life took me away from photography until a few years ago.

Then I asked why!

A few years ago nearing retirement, I fulfilled a life long wish to own a serious Telescope for astronomy.

While the eyepiece of a large scope like my Celestron 9.25 reveals a wonderful universe, nebulae and galaxies viewed only with our eyes limits the detail of what can be seen, and so I purchased a digital camera to image objects with long exposures. At the same time, having a quality camera also directed my attention back to sunrise and sunsets in the hills and along the rivers surrounding my home in Bathurst, NSW.

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I was looking at some of his images and wondering how he got them, now I know and so do you.  Through a telescope.  I would love to the world around our planet through a telescope and one day I hope I can.  I am so glad he was able to fulfill his life long wish.

I asked about inspiration.

There is a wonderful quote from Robert Frank, the iconic American photographer …
“When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice.”

That has been enough inspiration for me to always strive for something beyond just recording “being” in a place … To capture the unique atmosphere or mood of the landscape at the precise moment when it wakes to the pale dawn bathed in winter fog, or the Milky Way as it arches across the sky into the dusk while conveying that emotional feeling to the viewer is the challenge that never ceases. I could never tire of chasing the night sky at both ends of the day. Astrophotography – even with very basic technique and equipment allows us to see into the past. I enjoy creating and then revealing those images to people.

It is easy to be inspired by legend photographers and I could fill bookcases with them. My inspiration to return to landscape photography in particular though comes from my son Craig, whose passion for the art and attention to achieving perfection is outstanding. He is always busy working and raising a family but finds time to drive well before dawn to remote and spectacular places to capture moments in nature just when they need to be captured.

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Here is a storm happening before our eyes, and from what he just said, that inspiration to actually go out and get it, is something I am not good at, I wish I was, but realistically speaking, I tend to want to stay home too much. I find it incredibly inspiring to see how others go out and capture these moments of our world.

My fourth, or is it fifth question, was if there was anything special about the way he worked.

My portfolio of work as anyone can see is almost devoid of people, certainly portraits. I’ll leave those and street photography to others. In a perfect life I would be out of the house well before dawn every day either imaging the Milky Way or some deep sky object through the telescope, or waiting on a lonely mountain for the first rays of the sun. I prefer morning to night for Astrophotography as the sky is cleaner and devoid of the ground and structure heat that sometimes ruins an otherwise great shot of the night sky. And I’m a morning person anyway.

My focus when shooting anything is to wait for light to weave its magic in some special way … And that often fails to happen and the moment passes away. When planets align and you happen to capture the moment the effort always feels worthwhile.

I always shoot RAW so there is a fair amount of processing to do with Astrophotography – especially the stacking of multiple frames (maybe around 60) … And the Lightroom work to develop the final image.

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In more of his recent work I’m noticing a layering effect in his images.  I don’t know if they are double exposures, or he is doing this in post processing, but you can definitely see images on images. They can give quite an interesting effect.  It is like layering of memories, everything getting jumbled together. It is nice to see his experimentation and processes.

As always the final question was about gear.

  • Canon 7D
  • Canon 24-105L
  • Canon 70-200L
  • Rokinon 14mm Ultra-wide Prime
  • Various Grad and polarising Filters
  • Celestron CPC 9.25 Alt/Az Telescope
  • Processing with Lightroom and Gimp

I would like to say thank you to Alien Shores for allowing me to give you a glimpse into their world and beyond.  I hope you will go and take a look at the blog Alien Shores and say hello.  I have a gallery now of some of the images that I especially liked from the blog. You will also notice many images from other parts of our planet, and if you want to see more, there are plenty more on his blog.

Weekend Wanderings: Yackandandah Part 2

Here is the second part of my trip to Yackandandah.  The man from the Spiritus Art Gallery and gave me some directions and ideas of where to go.  I knew I had to get a move on, as I would have to head back to Wodonga soon, and also the sun was starting to get to high for any decent photos, so they aren’t great, but they do give you an idea of what was there.

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This was part of the road into town, beautiful scenery really, the whole drive, from Wodongo to there.

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After leaving the main street I went to find petrol for the car, and saw a lovely park that I went for stop in. It had a small creek or something at the bottom and they had built steps that you could walk down and then go and walk around.  It was really nice in the morning light.

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At the back of the petrol station I saw this building, another art place, only this one is fall of studios.  My friends who told me about Yackandandah had suggested that I find it, they thought I would be interested.  I was, and I thought it was great.  I got talking to Helen Lemke, a ceramic artist. She was waiting for students to come to her class and we had a small chat and she told me about the place.  It is built on where the old station was, or near it. Not sure exactly, but it has to do with the old train station.  Definitely worth checking out if you go there, say hi to Helen for me.

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The man I spoke to in the Spiritus Art Gallery also suggested that I should go and check out the Gorge.  He said it wasn’t far out of town, and I wouldn’t have to walk far to find it. which was true I didn’t. Though I did almost drive straight past it.  I also had trouble finding what road it was on, there were no signs in the town to direct you to.  Maybe they don’t want people going there.

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This is the gorge. Not big, but from what I can read women made it, I don’t know. It was done during the gold rush to get water for the men mining the gold.  It is incredible to think how these things were built back then, when you consider they didn’t have the tools that we have today.

By the time I got to the gorge, I knew the beautiful early morning light was gone and that the photos wouldn’t be that good, but I had to go and take some photos, for scouting purposes if nothing else.  I would like to go back, but if I do I would go much earlier in the morning, when the sun was hitting it in a soft way.  Though, if I’m truthful, I think I would go back in winter, no chance of snakes, and the light is better then too, so much softer.

Someone mentioned looking it up on Google maps and I realized I hadn’t included a map so here is a map so you can see where the town is.

I have more photos for you now. I hope you are having a great weekend, I have Social Snappers this afternoon, we are going to the Healesville Sanctuary, so I guess there will be more animal photos soon.

 

Weekend Wanderings: Yackandandah Part 1

Last week or the week before I had to go to Wodonga with my daughter, she had to do something at the University there, and in the morning I had some time to kill so  some friends suggested that I go to Yackandandah to look around and take some photos.  It is an old Gold Mining town, and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed.

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There you are the sign says it all. Like many places in Victoria gold played a big part in their history.  You can see the remnants of that period in them as well.

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The wide footpaths in the main streets with the verandah part covering the whole part of the footpath.  Such an old fashioned thing now.  I love seeing them.  Walking along the street here I was very much reminded of Maldon, another gold rush town in Victoria, but Maldon is so much busier, and I don’t think nearly as pretty as Yackandandah.  There was a beautiful quaintness about it that I feel in love with.

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There are the nods to the history of the town as well.  They embrace that history and you can find information about it in many places.  I discovered this place and some others just from wandering off the main street. Sometimes it is good to have the time to just wander around and see what you find.  I wish I’d had more time to spend there. My daughters class was only three hours, so I was limited to that.

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It was very quiet when I got there and places like the skate park were very quiet.  The light on that morning was wonderful, and it really brought the colours out everywhere.

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This guy caught my eye, how could he not really.  It looks like he is guarding the Yackandandah Motor Garage, although it doesn’t take long to realise it is no longer the garage, but now it is the Spiritus Art Gallery and the creature in front is one of the main artworks that are available for sale there.  I took so many photos of him, that will be in the gallery.  I also took some photos inside the gallery.  Not really meant to, but was given permission for the blog.

I spoke to the guy who ran it, and I am so sorry I can’t remember his name, but I think it was Wayne.  He gave me lots of information about the town and told me some spots to go to take photos.  See talking to the locals can be great.

I have a gallery for you now of the images I took while walking around the town.  Tomorrow I have other photos that I took while driving, well I wasn’t driving when I took them, but I had to drive to get to the places.  You have to love a town that is fun to say, and Yackandandah was a great place, shame it is 3 hours drive away, but I I would like to go back.  I think a weekend trip might be in order, anyone recommend somewhere nice to say that won’t cost me too much.

 

Up for Discussion: Winter Photography

Recently I put out a call for people who wanted to guest blog.  I like people guest blogging, it means a day I can hand over to someone else, and it means I may learn something new too.  I received an email from John Feist, and his blog John Feist Photography saying he was interested in doing a guest blog on Winter Photography.  I have no experience with this, and if I live in Australia for the rest of my life I will never experience it, so this was an intriguing idea for me.  So today I have a post for you from John.

Winter Photography

by John Feist

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Shooting in winter conditions poses a number of challenges that the other seasons do not. Some are physical and others technical. It also creates some beautiful and unique opportunities. The key elements of classic winter shots include harshness, cold, contrast and lack of color.

In winter the photographer needs to understand how to dress in order to stay warm and still be able to move about to capture good images. Remember, snow is water and it can melt into your clothing. Being wet in the cold is no fun. If you are not familiar with being out for extended periods during the winter, read up on it before you go.

Another temperature related concern is your equipment’s operating temperature range. In most cases, temperature is not a concern. However, if you will be working in temperatures below 0F (or -18C) some equipment may run into issues as well. Check your gear’s documentation for details.

Snow is one of the elements we want to photograph. Remember that it covers everything. This means if you don’t know the area where you will be shooting, you need to be aware that the snow may be covering thin ice on streams, lakes, depressions and many other hazards.

When it comes to actually making images, all of the rules for good photography apply. There are some “gotchas” that need special attention. The biggest concern is white balance. Shooting in the snow throws the sensors off because there is so much white. Snow is also very bright compared to most of the rest of your shot. Normally the white balance needs to be well into the blue (cool) end of the range, rarely over 6,000. Try a couple of test shots to get your white balance. It’s a lot easier to have the camera capture good white than to have to remove blue from your snow in post processing.

Consider applying a couple of stops of exposure compensation as well. This also helps to offset the preponderance of shades of white in the snow. Again, a couple of test shots can save a lot of post processing time.

Shooting in bright sunshine in the middle of the day is always a challenge. In the snow it is even worse. If you’re going to be out in those conditions, have good sunglasses for both yourself and your camera! In bright sun use the lowest ISO setting you can. Obviously, you will be working with fast shutter speeds and probably smaller apertures. This is a good time to use your neutral density and polaroid filters. They allow you to get longer exposures and give you the flexibility to change your depth of field as needed.

It is better to under expose than over expose. You can bring out details from the underexposed areas, but those areas where everything is burned out are lost. By contrast, gold and blue light in winter can be spectacular. The image at the top of this post was taken about half way through golden light.

Winter is also a great time for some other techniques. With all the differing textures in the snow, long exposures can yield stunning results… another good use for your neutral density and polaroid filters! Be sure your tripod is on a steady base and that you are not dealing with wind that can shake your camera or even knock it over!

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Winter, at least in my experience, tends to have lots of overcast days. That means lots of flat light that yields soft images. This can either be challenging when it comes to the sky, or result in some interesting skies with subtle shading and transitions.

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Outside of gold and blue light, winter shots tend to have a limited amount of color. Taking your images into black and white is a great way to convey the stark harshness of the winter scene.

Snow gets blown around pretty easily, and can settle into some unexpected and unusual patterns. As with all photography, it is essential to keep an eye out for these. Remember, even here, the angles make a big difference.

Snow has an interesting cousin. Ice is another component of winter photography that produces beautiful images. Ice can extend your view, create interesting patterns and reflections as well as help to convey the cold environment in which you made the image.

I know a lot of people who think of winter and wildlife as mutually incompatible. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Yes many animals hibernate or migrate with the seasons. Those that remain have a variety of survival mechanisms and techniques that make them wonderful subjects. You will need a long lens and some kind of “hiding place” to get good shots as there isn’t as much natural cover available.

The bottom line on winter photography is that it has its challenges, but with a little understanding and preparation, it can yield truly beautiful images.

I live in central New Jersey (U.S.A.). This year, we’ve been “blessed” with great conditions for winter photography. I’ve been shooting for most of my life, starting back in the film days. I got serious a about my photography a few years ago. My go to camera is a Nikon D7000 with a Nikor FX 28-300 lens. For longer shots I use a Sigma 150-500. The camera sits on a 3 Legged Thing which is light enough to carry around all day, sturdy and flexible enough to shoot in a wide variety of conditions.

You can see more of my work on my website, http://JohnFeistPhotography.com. I also have a Facebook page and blog of the same name. love hearing from other photographers. Just drop me a note to info@JohnFeistPhotography.com.

When I’m not working to support my photography or doing things photographic, I also teach yoga and make some of the best oatmeal cookies around.

Finally, I want to thank Leanne for allowing me to be a guest on her blog. One of America’s iconic artists, Norman Rockwell, used to tell people that he painted winter pictures in the summer and summer pictures in the winter. His rationale being that this way he felt cooler in summer and warmer in winter. I suspect Leanne had a similar reaction when I proposed this subject!

Thank you

I would also like to say thanks to John for preparing this post for us.  I don’t know if I will ever use this information, as I rarely see snow, but I am sure many of you will get a lot out of it.  I am amazed at how difficult it seems to shoot in the snow, quite incredible. John also sent extra photos, so I thought I would put the above ones and the extras in a gallery for you now.  John is also going to answer questions, and comments, which is lucky, I wouldn’t know how to help anyone.  Thanks again John.

Don’t forget if you are interested in doing a guest post send me an email, leanne@leannecole.com.au

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