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MM 39 – Monochrome Madness 39

It’s that time again, are you ready for Monochrome Madness this week.  It has been great to see more and more people sending photos for the first time.  I also wanted to express my thanks to those of you who take the time to leave a comment for all the photos in the gallery, it is fantastic and I am sure that people sending the photos appreciate the time it takes to do that.

To all those that let me know that you liked the idea of doing the Christmas Challenge, thank you.  It seems the MM 43, I think, before Christmas will be a monochrome image with a splash of colour.  Someone asked me to do a tutorial on how to do it, so I will work on that in the next couple of weeks.


This is an image I took on a Social Snappers outing a few weeks ago at Abbotsford Convent.  I wasn’t sure if it would work in monochrome, still not sure, but I had fun processing it.  I tried some things on it that I haven’t done for awhile, I was inspired by the architectural images I’ve re-shown lately.  It really has inspired me to get back into this.


Something different from Laura and if you want to find out who is in her photo, or find out more about it, you will have to go to her blog, Laura Macky and her post, My Two-Year Anniversary on Word Press! – Monochrome Madness.

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.

Now, 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
  • 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 Bit and Bobs

Again, I’ve been busy, but not a lot has been happening.  Funny how some weeks can be like that.  I am trying to get things put into place for next year, but don’t have a lot to report at this time.


There are lots of people doing their final image for Robyn’s One Four Challenge again.  It was the final week, and I found the hardest.  It seemed easy to come up with three things, but four, well it did take me a bit to work out what to do.  I played with things, deleted things, in the end I wasn’t so sure, but if you would like to see the image I came up with, and the others I have done as well, then you will need to go to this post, One Four Challenge November Week 4.

melbourne-banyule-flats-birds-102I just need to let people know too, that you can comment on it, and while it doesn’t look like anything happens when you do, it does.  I get all the comments, though I haven’t had time to approve and respond to them yet.  I don’t know why that blog is so weird to leave comments on.  I will have to get onto the developers and see what they can work out.

Don’t forget to go to Robyn’s Robyn’s One Four Challenge and check out all the other great images, there are pingbacks there you can click.  She has also has instructions for next month as well, so if you missed out on the challenge for this month, then you can participate next month.

After-Before Friday

Last week I showed you the before and after of the image I had done for Stacy’s After-Before Friday, and the link I gave at the time of the post was quite right, but Stacy sent me the correct link, and I thought it would be good to give it to you again.  You can melbourne-banyule-flats-birds-105go there and see what others have done, as well as get instructions if you want to do it try it too.

Grant Presentations

I have to attend grant presentation this week to get the money for my grant.  I hate going out in public like this, getting up in front of people, I hope there won’t be too many people there.  We have to go up and shake a councilors hand and they hand us a cheque.  I think the cheque is fake, because my understanding is the money will be deposited into the bank. The best part is that it means I will get the grant money, so I can start the project in earnest, but also I can get my own macro lens.

Tourism in Victoria

melbourne-banyule-flats-birds-111I had had enough yesterday and finally got around to sending a feedback email to Tourism Victoria.  I have sent them so many emails about posts that I have done about Melbourne and Victoria, and have never received a reply.  No acknowledgement at all.  I don’t really expect much, but is it too much to expect a reply for your email.  I love taking photos of where I live, and I love sharing them with you all, and I had hoped that it helped people to see what a beautiful country I do actually live in.  I did get a response this time, but it was for the add that I have on their website, that I paid money for and has never got me any work.  I just can’t believe they don’t have a page somewhere where you can register things like websites or blogs that have information on places to visit or information, photos, something, but you have to have an event.  It seems crazy to me.

Social Snappers

The final excursions for Thursday and Sunday are coming up.  I’m looking forward to these.  We are going into the city to photography the Christmas decorations.  We will get there before dark and see it in daylight and then we will stick around until melbourne-banyule-flats-birds-106the sun goes down so we can take photos of the Christmas lights.  Should be fun, if you want to come along with us, then go to Thursday’s Excursion, or Sunday’s Excursion.


There isn’t much more going on really.  I did go out last week and take some photos of birds.  I don’t think I am very good at bird photography, but I do have a few photos for you.  There weren’t many birds around, but I managed to see some Tawny Frogmouths, and some Butcher birds, I think they are called.  I thought I would share those photos with you here. Oh I want to say the one hanging upside down is a Minor bird, think it is called, apparently pests and do a lot of destruction to the native birds, and most people don’t photograph them, but it was hanging upside down, I had to get a couple of shots.  I hope you have lots going on right now too.


Introductions – Jeff Sinon

The person I would like to introduce you to today is someone I don’t really know, but would really like to.  Kaz from Days and Months has been telling me about some of the photographers she really enjoys and Jeff Sinon, and his blog Jeff Sinon Photography was one of them.  I was blown away when I saw his blog and knew that I had to seek permission so I could shoe you his work, though I am pretty sure many of you already know him. I could tell he photographed an area that was nothing like where I lived, so he told me he lives in the lakes region of New Hampshire. “Putting me a short drive from both the seacoast and the mountains. Most of my photography is focused on New Hampshire with some time in Maine as well.”

Autumn On The Isinglass

One of the things that really get to you first is the colour, or the colours in his work, they are very warm.  There is something very inviting about them.  So different to my own work in that respect.  I seem to make everything dark.  I love the way Jeff portrays what he sees.

As usual I also asked Jeff how long he had been doing photography and why he takes photos.

I first picked up a camera back in 2008. I’m not sure how to answer this one. I love being outdoors, and since getting my first camera and realizing I had a knack for nature and landscape photography, I feel almost compelled to capture and share some of the amazing things I’ve seen. I can’t not photograph.


I imagine living where he does he would see a fair bit of the white stuff, snow.  Anyone who has been following me for a while knows that I love photos of snow.  It fascinates me, and intrigues me.  We get snow in Australia, but only in a small part and not a lot, and we certainly don’t get rivers and lakes freezing over, it never gets that cold here.  I was so happy to see that Jeff has lots of “winter” style photos on his blog.

I asked Jeff about inspiration.

Like most of us I’m inspired to create great photographs. As primarily a landscape photographer I spend a lot of time chasing the most dramatic weather and light. I’ll take storm clouds at sunrise over clear blue skies every time.

Mad River Falls, Farmington, NH


After reading about his inspiration it makes sense when you see his photographs.  Who wouldn’t be inspired if they lived this close to such beauty.  I think, I sometimes look at images like this and feel a sense of sadness for myself, that I don’t live near this sort of thing, but I have to keep reminding myself that I am lucky that I live in a different country that often offers landscapes that are so different.  I do think we should all make the most of what is around us and see the beauty there and I think Jeff does that so well. It is a good reminder for all of us.

Is there anything special about how you work, is always one of the questions.

Is there anything special about my work? No, I don’t think there is. I would like to think that my photos showcase the natural beauty of New Hampshire, yet I often tell people that my biggest talent as a photographer is the willingness to put in the effort to be there when Mother Nature is showing off.

Winter Nubble, Pastel Sky

I don’t do that enough, being where Nature is showing off, it is something I will take from this and try and make more effort to do. There is something so pristine about his images, it is wonderful.  I love the way Jeff sees and the way he takes photos, it is very good, there is a calmness about it, it is very relaxing to look at.

My final question, what all photographers want to know, what gear do you use?

I’m a Canon guy. Currently I’m shooting  7D Mk II and my go to lenses are the Canon 17-40 F/4L and the 70-200 F/4L IS. I never leave home without my tripod and prefer to use filters in the field as opposed to trying to duplicate them in the computer.

The point about filters is a good one, and one that we have been exploring here quite a bit recently.

I would like to thank Jeff so much for allowing me to show his images to you here.  I have rather a large gallery, I was finding it hard to stop picking images, so there are still a lot more for you to go and see over on his blog, Jeff Sinon Photography, I know you will find lots to love there. Here is a gallery of some of the images that I really liked.


Weekend Wanderings – Snaps Around the Docklands

Last Sunday I had to go into the city for another Social Snappers excursion.  There are so many aspects of these that I love, one is that a trip is organised and I know I will be able to get some photos.  The other thing, which really stood out for me last week, was that I can get ideas from watching the others.  We can all feed off each other.  I’m sure if I had gone there alone many of these images wouldn’t have happened.



It is good to take photos of an area, and just photograph what’s happening and what you see.  I love Melbourne trams and I love the old ones that they are running for the City Circle.  Trams are a big part of who Melbourne is, and the extensive public transport system for trams is amazing.


The night before and that morning it had been raining, but by the time we got to the city all the rain was gone.  The sky was still overcast and there were still puddles on the footpaths with reflections.  I love reflections in puddles.


We found a heap of statues, they are great, but this one, well, we thought it was Kylie Minogue, but it isn’t very flattering and I think if I was Miss Kylie I wouldn’t be too happy with it.


I love photographing the Melbourne Star.  I’ve never noticed these letters on the poles before.  One of the ladies in the group pointed them out so we went over to take a look.  I had the wide angle lens on and when I stood right in front so you could see all the letters, but then the actual wheel looked straight up and down, not good.  I used the wide angle to do it slightly from the side. I think this worked much better.  It is one of the things that I teach my students all the time, walk around and try things from different sides.


There was also a little amusement park there that had up their decorations for Christmas already and I took this shot and thought it would be a good one to demonstate the Christmas theme for Monochrome Madness, well what we could do for it, or you.

The sun came out a couple of times, but the light was really nice, especially when it was raining all morning and I thought the weather was going to be dark and horrible.  It was great walking around just taking photos and seeing what we could see.  I have a gallery for you now of more images and things you can see when you wander around the Docklands.  I hope you have all been doing your own Weekend Wandering.

Weekend Wanderings – Kinglake Reminds Us

In Australia Summer starts on the 1st of December, and while we tend to think of summer as hot weather, beaches, sand, barbecues, water, flies and snakes there is something else that usually happens that none of us want to think about, bushfires.  There are always fires here,  somewhere.  It is the unfortunate reality of a country like Australia, there will be fires, and we just hope they aren’t anywhere near us and that the loss of life will be nil or close to that. The other day I was back up in Kinglake taking another look at how the bush area there is growing and I also went to some areas that I hadn’t been to before.


In February it will be 6 six years since the worse bushfires in Australian history, the Black Saturday fires.  It all happened, pretty much, in one day, 173 people lost their lives and 2100 homes were destroyed, and it is something that none of us ever want repeated.  Now, 6 years later the communities are still rebuilding and the only place where you can still be reminded of the fires is the bushland.  The new trees are growing, but the dead wood of the burned trees still dominant over the landscape.


Kinglake was one of the worst affected areas with the fires decimating the surrounding area.  The bushland around Kinglake, the national park, was completely destroyed,  most homes around it were as well.

I love going back and watching how the area is slowly growing back, one day you will hardly be able to see the dead trees sticking up out of the canopy.


There are already areas that have regenerated enough that it is almost impossible to tell that the fires went through there.

So I thought I would dedicate this post to the bushfires and the victims as a reminder to all of us that we need to be vigilant and that we need to be very careful, especially anywhere where a fire could start.  The black Saturday fires were close to home for me, they stopped less that 30 kms from my home, and if the wind hadn’t changed when it did, well, a lot more people would have been homeless.

This is what summer in Australia can be, it is part of what happens here and we have to be prepared for it.  I should apologise, I didn’t mean it to be a morbid post, but more a reminder of what was and what is now.

I’ve seen some photos of the snow storm that has hit part of the states, and I hope everyone there is safe and sound. I also hope the snow has stopped.  Take care if you live there, Amy if you are reading this, I mean you.  So I will leave you with a gallery now, my reminder of what can happen, but also how much we recover and move on.

Up for Discussion – Critiquing

This is a topic I’ve been thinking about doing for a while.  I’ve also heard other people complaining about it, so I thought it is something that should be addressed and this forum seemed like the perfect place to do it. I am going to do it in two parts, asking for your images to be critiqued, then critiquing other peoples images when not invited to do so.

Asking to Have Your Images Critiqued

From time to time, well, maybe more often than that I get asked by various people if I will take a look at their photos, tell them what I think.  I always politely refuse, and try to find a good reason to not do it.  One of the main reasons is that I am very uncomfortable doing it.  I am not an expert on photos, and I don’t think I have the right to give my opinion just like that.

The other thing that people don’t seem to realise is the time it really takes to give a good critique.  It can take me an hour or two when I am doing it for other people, if I do it, I want to do it well.  I do offer critiquing as a service and it is often part of my online scschool-hpm5544-8courses, but it does take time.  You have to look at the images, and then seriously evaluate them, and sometimes write a report.

It is important to be careful about who you ask too.  I am kind, well I hope I am, but others may not be.  Your photography, anyone’s photography is something that is very personal, and people are attached to it.  The last thing you want is someone to critique your work that makes you want to give up photography altogether.  Positive sandwich, a term I heard recently and it is something I’ve always tried to follow.

There are lots of ways of getting your work critiqued without directly having someone do it.  Enter competitions, see how your work goes.  Find groups on Facebook and Google+ where you can put your images and see how many people like or +1 it.  There are lots of places like that.  Though you need to work out why you are taking photos too, if it is just for yourself, scschool-hpm5459-7then what does it matter what other people think?

Learn to be more critical yourself. I look at other peoples work and wonder what I like it about it, why I like it, and then how I can apply that to my own work.

Giving Critique When Not Ask to

This is one that I hear people complaining a lot about.  That they will put up photos and then someone else will go through their photos and tell them everything that is wrong with them.  This is unwanted criticism.

I have been the victim of it in the past, and sometimes it really upsets me, so I know why others get upset with it as well.  Often my first thought is, who the hell are you to be criticising my images, then I have to think of ways to get around it.  I don’t like upsetting people.  I tend to just respond with, but I like it like this, this is how I wanted it.

scschool-hpm4033-6It is hard to know what to say to people who do this and to get them to stop.  I have a couple of people that I love and trust, and if I really want an opinion on something I ask them. I know they will be honest with me and let me know.  It is good to have people in your life that are like that.  I had a friend from Uni and one of the things she used to say was, it’s good, but it’s not the best you’ve done.  I hated it at the time, but her opinion was valuable.

I also go by the old saying, “if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all”.  I’ve had people saying things about my images and they have had nothing nice to say, and they are just being nasty, for whatever reason.

So what is my point, if you are critiquing peoples photos and telling them what you think they should do to them, then don’t.  Think about what your constant criticism of their work is doing to them, and I can tell you, the people aren’t sitting back and being happy about it, they may be too polite to tell you to just stop it. I can tell you they don’t like it.

scschool-hpm5434-5If you really want to help someone, ask first.  Ask them if they would mind you giving some advice.  One of the ways I’ve had people doing it to me is to suggest what they would do if the images was theirs.

I often see images and I think, oh I wish they had done this, or done that, but then I think, it isn’t my image, and I have to respect how the person has done it.  You can tell if someone is really happy with what they have done, if they are, then it is best to not say anything.

I think the best policy is don’t critique, unless invited to, and if you are invited and accept, then you still need to tread carefully, remember the positive sandwich, always put positives around negatives.  I had an art teacher once who was great, she would say what she liked about what you were doing, and then say what she thought you could work on to make the image better, or better next time.  I loved it and I have always tried to follow that way of doing it.

Wow, this has turned out far longer than I had expected.  I hope it all makes sense. Critiquing is a very personal thing, as are images, and whether critiquing or getting wanted critique there should always be a massive dose of respect.

The photos for today’s post were taken and processed a couple of years ago.  There were taken in an old school that has now been pulled down, apparently to make way for more houses.


Quiet Thursday’s – AB Fridays

For today’s post I thought I might highlight another challenge that has been going on, some of you know about it, others not, but the challenge is being held over on Stacy’s blog, Visual Venturing.  The challenge is called After-Before Friday, the idea being you show a before image and then the after.  The results can be great.  You put the images on your blog, and send them to Stacy where she puts them up in a post on Fridays. I’ve done it a few times, but over on my other blog.  I thought it would be nice to show some support and do it here this time.


This is my before photo, it is one I took last Sunday at the Docklands.  I see this building all the time when I catch the train, and I’ve tried photographing it before, with mixed results.  I love how it sits, the layers of the floors and the vertical lines in the glass.  It is an interesting building.  So I wanted to take some images of it, especially with the crane reflected in the glass, there is always new things going up around Melbourne.

I never have any idea what I will do to an image until I start playing with it. So I started playing and a couple of hours later I had this.


I put in a new sky and gave it some blur.  I tried to bring out the glass in the building.  I darkened parts and lit some up more. I saturated some parts, and desaturated others.  I tried to bring the focus to where I wanted it to be.  I hope you can see the difference, according to my daughter there isn’t much difference.  I like the change, I like how the building comes out.

If you are interested in being involved in Stacy’s challenge, then check out the After-Before Friday Forum where you can find a list of other weeks, and more importantly you can find out how to participate and what you need to do.  I hope you will read them better than me, sorry Stacy, I should have read it more closely.

The next AB Friday is tomorrow, well it is Friday here, and if you want to see what is happening you can go to Stacy’s blog, Visual Venturing.  For now the link is just to her blog, but as soon as I know it is published on Friday I will change the link. Here is the link to the actual page, After-Before Friday Week 27

Thanks Stacy for another great challenge.



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