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Posts by Leanne Cole

Quiet Thursday’s – The Night Sky

Last time I was up at the Mallee, you know I took photos around Lake Albacutya, but I also got to go to Jonesy’s camp and do some night photography of the milky way from there.  It was a beautiful clear night and the burnt trees from the bushfires in January made great foreground interest.

I don’t want to talk too much today, I have a Social Snappers event this afternoon, which looks like is going to be great, the weather could be perfect for it.  So today I am going to leave you with the following gallery.

MM34 – Monochrome Madness 34

Here we go again, Monochrome Madness 34.  Quite a few of you have been talking about how fast it comes around each week and I have to say, I agree.  I feel like I have just recovered from the previous week and then I have to start thinking about the next week.  I never know what image I will do until it is done.


I took this image on Monday morning when I was taking photos at Marysville with a friend.  We had planned on photographing something else, but we didn’t think much of it, so in the end we decided to go to Marysville and take some photos of Steavensons Falls.  The last time I went there the sun was shining on it, but this time it was earlier in the morning and it was much better to take photos of. I have written a post on it over at my other blog.


Laura Macky has sent in her image for MM34, and if you want to find out some more information on it, then please go to her blog, Laura Macky.

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 Bits and Bobs – Cokin Z Series Filters

Last week I told you that I thought the Cokin filters would have to go back and I hadn’t really had much chance to use them. Well I was given an opportunity to explore them some more and I’ve been trying to make the most of it.  I’ve been out a few times to see what I can do with them.  I suppose that is the wonderful thing about digital, it does make experimenting a lot easier.

In the kit that was sent to me, I got a 77mm adaptor ring for my lens, the Z-Series bracket, and 3 graduated filters.  I was lent the ND2, the Tobacco and a Blue filter, it is all part of a kit that you can purchase.

Graduated filters, for those that don’t know, are where the filter starts at the top and the colour goes down and then fades to clear. The coloured part covers about 2/3 of the filter, which measures 10cm to 15cm.  The advantage of that is that you can then use the filter as a graduated filter, or you can use the end as a filter that will cover your whole lens.  So I have been experimenting with both.


Stacking 3 Cokin filters, the ND2, the Tobacco and the blue filter. All Graduated filters

I found the adapter ring and bracket easy to use and didn’t have any trouble with them.  I had heard that the little things that stick out make it hard to use some filters because they wouldn’t go down, but I just pushed them back, which also made it fit more snugly on the adapter ring.  I actually found myself using it a lot, which surprised me.  I would fit it to the camera and just carry the filters I wanted to use in my pocket.

I tried to see what would happen if I stacked all three filters in the kit with the above image.  So it is an exposure with all three.

One of the things I found hard, at first, was using them as graduated filters, the filters are subtle and I couldn’t tell the difference from the clear part to the filter part, but with practice I got better at it.  The above two images show the difference between no filter and the graduated ND filter.  I was surprised at how dark the foreground was without the filter, but how with the filter it would leave it looking lighter.  I tried to get the ND2 on the sky and not the foreground.

These two were done the same way.  The filter has made the clouds more like the colour you would expect as well.

I tried using my ND400 to see if I could get smooth water, and then thought what if I stacked the ND2 on it as well.  I was told years ago that you shouldn’t stack ND filters, but then the guy I have been talking to at  Maxwell International Australia suggested I do that, so I did it with the second image.  The first image was a 10 second image, and the second a 15 second, so it gave me more time to achieve what I wanted to do.

I did the same here, using the ND400, but this time the first image was 15 seconds and then I added the ND2 and I got a 30 second exposure.  I know the differences are subtle and you really have to look carefully at them to see the differences, but they are there.  I was surprised at easy it was to stack them and the results.

I took these yesterday at Marysville. The first image is a close up the water without the filter, and the second is with it.  Again a subtle change, but the second was double the time of the first, so the water is more blurred.

I also want to add that all of these images, well the pairs, have been processed the same.  They were processed in Lightroom and then the second image was synced with the first so that the only difference between them was the filter, and some slight variations in composition.  The idea was to show how different the filters were.

One of the purposes of using the filter system was to see if it would remove the vignetting I was getting with my other Cokin Series, the P series, and I am happy to say that there was none of it.  I found it easy to use, and the covers for the filters were great to just slip into the camera bag or your pocket.  I don’t know that I would get the filters that came with this particular kit.  I think I would possibly go for the ND series more, so I would get the ND2, the ND4 and the ND8.  I do like the idea of the graduated filters and the options they give you, you do get more.

I am not sure when they are going back, but I really hope to get down to the beach for a chance to try them out some more.  It would be good to try some of those slow motion images I’ve been trying to do with the filters, see what I get.  I am hoping to get down this week.

I know this hasn’t been a typical bits and bobs post, but I already told you my big news and really this is what I have been doing this last week, experimenting with the filters. I am going to put all the images into gallery, though all the pairs are also in smaller galleries.  I hope you have lots of experimenting happening where you are.

Introductions – MyGuiltyPleasures

When I think of the blog of today’s Introduction, I always think of spring.  I don’t know why and I wonder if you will find the same thing when you go to her blog.  Today I would like to introduce you to Viveka, and her blog MyGuiltyPleasures. I have known Viveka for quite a while now, I don’t know exactly how long, but it has been at least a couple of years. She loves traveling and though she is based in Landskrona, South West Sweden, though she doesn’t seem to stay there a lot.  I always love seeing where she has been and what she is up too.


There are lots of flowers on her blog, and I think it is something that she must love doing.  I like the way she looks at things and takes photos of them.

Why do you take photos? For me is more about test if my imagination and eye see the same object and view the same way.

How long have you been taking photos for? Since 1991 – with a break of 6 years.


She likes to experiment with her photography and try lots of things.  It amazes me sometimes what she comes up and I think it is really obvious that she loves taking photos.

What is your inspiration? Other photographers and postcards/cards.


Photos from her travels also play a big part on her blog and there are often photos of where she has been.  I think she might like travelling as much as she likes taking photos.  She seems to be on the move all the time.

Is there anything special about the way you work? I’m just a happy amateur. I like to take photos from an ant’s view – down on grass level and i take a lot of images on angle. I also try to capture the beautiful in a little more rough object and environment.


Viveka is also a generous person with her time and I’ve always enjoyed her visits to my blog when she can.  We have communicated by email and I am hoping she may make the long journey here so we can meet in person one day.

What gear do you use? Canon Powershot SX50HS & Canon PowerShot SX100IS

I love it when I can feature someone who loves photography and doesn’t feel the need to use a DSLR, is just happy with a camera like that.

I hope you will visit Viveka’s blog, MyGuiltyPleasures, and say hello.  I would also like to thank her for allowing me to showcase her work here, thanks Viveka.  I have a gallery now of some of the images that I really like from her blog.

Weekend Wanderings – Lake Albacutya 2

When I was in the Mallee last time I took lots of photos of the areas that had been burned out in the bushfire earlier this year in January.  It still has a long way to go, but it was really nice to be able to see things sprouting.  It is always amazing to see how nature recovers from fire, I know I have said this before, but nature does do a better job of it than us, I think sometimes.


The boat ramp at Lake Albacutya.  I know this doesn’t have anything to do with the fires, but I couldn’t get over the idea that we had driven through the lake and then when we arrived on the other side, we drove up the boat ramp.


This is the track that we had driven on. Lake Albacutya hasn’t had water in it since 1982, and apparently it fills every 25 years, so it is long overdue.  It is quite a deep lake too when full, around 25 feet, but you wouldn’t know that as you drive through it.  There are even fences in it.  I have other photos taken from the banks around the lake which I will put into the gallery.


As you can see the remains of the trees from the fires are still there, fallen down trees and bare trees that you know won’t get new growth now that it is spring.


But, if you look hard enough you see other signs of spring.  Wildflowers popping up everywhere giving this barren environment some bursts of colour.


As we drove around we could also see what Parks Victoria had been up to.  They are doing more planting to stop the sand dunes from moving.  The locals are still unsure of this, sand dunes move naturally, and they don’t understand why they are trying to stop them.  I don’t have the answers. I am a bit concerned about the plastic they have around the new plants, that are blowing off and away, I really hope it is degradeable and they aren’t littering the parks.  I saw many that had blown away.

I am not going to go on much now, I think in this case the images do speak for themselves.  I have done a video slideshow of some images that I took straight after the fires, I am hoping to use it for a presentation at the end of the year, but if you would like to check out, here is the link, Lake Albacutya – A Week After the Fires.

Now a gallery, the close up of the flower, the white and yellow one is a poached egg daisy, and I think the orange one is a poppy of some sort, and I don’t know the others, sorry.


Weekend Wanderings – Getting Dark in the City

Yesterday I was in the city doing some photos with someone.  We started in the late afternoon and took photos until just after 9pm, it was really getting dark in the city then, so I thought I would do some of those photos as my Weekend Wandering post today.


Melbourne Town Hall, it is looking rather ordinary at the moment, but in a month or two I’m sure it will be decorated for Christmas.  I like photographing the same buildings over, they are always different, whether it is the light, or what they have on them.  I would like do a great fine art architectural shot of this building.  I realised yesterday that I will need to use my wide angle, otherwise I can’t fit in the tower.


Stopping at the Hopetoun Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade is almost something I can’t stop doing.  I didn’t get many photos as by the time we got there they were clearing the window.  I might have to try getting a shot of that one day.  I did ask some questions about the window, so will try some more photos soon.


Can you see the bright lights in the water, something reflecting off the bridge.  It was really strange, but we had fund trying to get photos of it.

These two photos look the same, well they are really. except one has a blue sky and the other one is browner.  Maxwell International Australia has let me keep the filters a little longer so I could experiment a little more.  The sunset we got in the city was terrible, really, not much colour, so I thought it would be interesting to try the tobacco graduated filter.  It really warms the image up.  I have been playing around more and on Tuesday will show more photos and talk about the kit a little more.


We saw the gas going off outside the Casino.  We got there hoping it would happen at 8pm, but then some other people who were there looked it up and said that it wouldn’t be on until 9.  We thought, oh well, and just kept taking photos of other things, and then all of a sudden, on they came.  I hope the people who thought it came on later still saw them.  Unfortunately for us, we didn’t think it was going to happen, and so weren’t really prepared, still we got some shots, I just wish I had got a little more of the reflection.


Then it was time to do some night photos of the city.  I love photographing the city at night.  I love seeing how it looks.  So I love it when people say they want to do it. I especially love doing One on One Photography Lessons for people who want to learn night photography. I don’t know that I will ever tire of it, there are always different places along the river to go.

I am going to leave you with a gallery now, I need to start planning a driving trip today for my daughter to get in some more driving hours, but also so I can go somewhere to try out the filters again.  Have a couple of ideas, but you will have to wait and see.  I hope you have somethings planned for the weekend.  I am back into the city tomorrow for Social Snappers, we are doing architecture along Collins Street, should be great.


Up for Discussion – Backing Up

This post today is written by me and has come out of something that recently happened to me.  It was something that was scary and has reminded me of how important it is not to keep all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.  Today’s Up for Discussion is going to address how important backing up can be.

I started taking photos seriously with a DSLR, I don’t know about 5 years ago, when I was taking photos of cycling.  My daughter was cycling, so I started taking photos of her and a few other people, then it progressed to me taking photos nearly every weekend at some cycling event or another.  During the weekends it could be nothing for me to take two or three thousand photos.  I think the most I ever toscmu2-4hpm2487-7-3ok in one day was three thousand.  I was also selling them, so I had to have a back up of all my photos.  I became very concerned about it.  About 10 years ago I had a hard disk in a computer die.  My husband, Dave, had never felt my stuff was worth backing up, so he never put anything into place.  It isn’t a good feeling, I think it is a bit like being robbed, for months you remember new things you lost. He changed his tune after that.

So  for the cycling photmurraysunset-pinklades-salt-bush-wateros, he bought two external drives, one the main one, the other the back up. Then they started filling up, so he did some investigations and decided to get a NAS.  Now don’t ask me to explain what it is, but it sits near the tv, has 4 drives in it, and is connected to the network, so anyone in the house can have access to it.  I can see photos from it from either computer.  When I am done with photos, I back them up onto the NAS, the images go on one disk and then they are automatically backed up onto another one.  It has been a great system, though I have worried about something happening with the NAS, like the house burning down, or it being stolen.  I have been trying to decide what to do.

We have 4 TBs of storage in the NAS and we filled them up.  Not just with my photos, but other things as well.  That is what caused the problems, we think.  We had purchased some more space in it, but Dave had been waiting for me to get LeanneCole-citylight-1404054920_HDRthings done first, and I was slow, I admit it.  Then when he finally started looking at the NAS, he made an announcement, “the NAS was dead”.  Who said men aren’t melodramatic?  I told him it better not be because I had 5 years of work on it, and I didn’t want to lose any of it.  He was a bit flippant about it, I have to say, not really sure he takes what I do seriously.

After putting in the other disk we had purchased, and a bit of mucking around he was able to get all my photos from the back up and it looks like I didn’t lose anything.  I think sometimes being married to a programmer can be more of a burden, they can do things in more complicated ways, and really if something happened to him, well, I would just about lose everything any way, I don’t knoleannecole-thea-20131116-1477w how to do things on the NAS.

Now, sorry, it is a long post today, but the end of it is that I really need to make sure I have better back up systems in place. I had quite a few sleepless nights last week, and I don’t want that to happen again.

I have been thinking, that while I have the NAS, I need to look at other things as well, so I don’t have all my eggs in one basket.  I have now purchased a 4TB external drive, and my photos are on it as well now.  I am going to leave that with a friend at her house.  Then in about a month I will purchase a second one, and then start swapping them over.  That way if something happens here, then leannecole-klara-7353-4she will always have a fairly up to date drive with my photos on it.  So far I have filled over 2TB.  I think I also need to be pickier about what I save.  I shouldn’t save everything, some of the photos are no good and I know I will never use them.

The other thing I have been looking at is the possibility of using some form of internet storage.  I haven’t made up my mind, though if I do, I will just start it from now and possibly only put photos that are really important to me.

I thought I would ask some people here on the internet what they thought.  I asked 4 guys who I think take a lot of photos.  I also thought that sometimes men and women do think differently about this and it might help to get a different view on it.

I asked Victor Rakmil.

My back-up system is relatively straight forward. Here’s the explanation:

“I put effort into taking my photographs and processing them. I worry about the possibility of losing them. To solve the back up problem I use external mobile drives, not my computer hard drive. I import my photos into Lightroom in the DNG format, with copies in the original Nikon NEF format, to a second external drive (that way if by chance DNG is no longer a viable format I have my original Raw files). As I work on my files I copy the DNG drive to a third back-up drive and put that drive in a safe place. In the end I have three copies of all of my photos. With one set off-site.  Which reminds me, I have a drive to copy and take to the bank.  :)”

Victor also gave me a link to a page talking about this and it had a survey asking people what they do.  Photo Backup Survey

I asked Robin Kent.

On the subject of back-up, my approach is not particularly exotic, but it is one way to protect one’s image files from various disasters.   The cost of storage is relatively cheap today which helps because the size of my inventory is approaching4 Terabytes. My starting point is the computer platform which has three internal hard drives, and four external drives.  I no longer use a NAS solution, although I do have an Ethernet network with NAS capability.

laurent-melbourne-littlecollins-building-monochromeOne of the two internal drives is a 512 MB solid state drive (SSD) where Photoshop resides and processing occurs.  All image files, whether processed or not, are stored on the second internal hard drive, a 4 TB hard drive which is the Master Drive.  At this point I have 1 copy of my inventory.  From here the tactic is to create additional copies in case the prime drive fails.

The Master Copy is backed up using the standard Apple Time Machine back-up software. This is the Back-up drive (3rd internal drive) and would be used if a file restore is needed.  However, some experts feel that the Apple system is not totally reliable, so I don’t consider this drive as one of my copies.  I also have a simple back-up software application with an automatic schedule to make copies each day of my image files on two separate external 4 TB hard drives.  It adds new files since the last copy and records any changes made in existing files.  So at any given point in time, I have three connected copies on-site, two of which are no older than 24 hours.

The third step is off-site storage.  Mechanical failure is not the only danger, only the most likely one.  It doesn’t matter how many copies you have in your building if something happens to the building.  If I happen to be here when that event occurs, I could quickly detach the two external drives and leave, not something I could have done with my rack-mounted NAS drive.  But chances are I won’t be here.  So I have two additional 4TB drives which are stored in a separate location (my wife’s office) office about 10 miles away.  They are refreshed once a month.

I don’t use any of the “Cloud” services as a back-up solution because they are not reliable, nor secure despite their claims, and are subject to policy changes at any time.

I ask Benjamin Rowe as well.

Backing up files can become an obsessive compulsive, although there is no perfect solution, anything can go wrong. I happen to work with two computers and part of my back up process lets me share the files across the two.

On my main computer I import my raw files to my second drive. When I have finished editing those files are archived on to an external hard drive. DNG copies of my raw files are also backed up on my cloud storage where I have access to them on my laptop. Also once I have finished editing I export full size Jpegs to a different cloud storage service and burn them onto DVDs.

LeanneCole-Alannah_AliceWhen traveling I pack two external drives; one that I can download images to while out shooting and another that I can copy the files to. I will also download them onto laptop for organising and editing. Backing up also takes place on my phone with all my pictures being backed up to the cloud and then once a month backed up to a hard drive. In case drives fail I have a recovery program that I can use to help rescue my files.

I tend to use different drives as well as different cloud storage services because if one fails there is another. I haven’t started using multiple drives backing each other up automatically, but I can see myself doing that in the future. What I need to work out is how to have access to files when there is no electricity.

Finally I asked Ray Laskowitz.

I was exchanging emails with Leanne when she mentioned that she almost lost five years worth of work when her backup system failed. Luckily, her husband is a computer analyst so he’s been able to help her recover her files.

That’s scary. Very scary. And, I completely understand. I’m a Hurricane Katrina survivor. No. I didn’t go through all the scenes you may have seen on your news stations. I left a day prior to the storm making landfall. Even back then, I backed up my work on multiple sources. At the time I used external hard drives and CDs. I packed the hard drives into small Anvil cases and packed them securely in the car. I thought that was the right thing to do. It wasn’t.

Every one of of those external hard drives broke. I didn’t lose the data. But, the software that provides the connection to the computer was damaged. The computer could not find the hard drives when I tried to mount them. I was able to retrieve the data at a rather large cost.

I vowed that would never happen again.

Here’s what I learned. External hard drives are great… if they are portable. There’s a big difference between external desktop models and a small portable hard drives. Desktop hard drives are essentially the same hard drives that are used in a desktop computer. They are meant to stay in one place. Portable hard drives are very similar to the ones the are used in laptops. They can to be moved. I learned one more thing. Bigger is not necessarily better. For instance, according to statistics kept by the folks who monitor such things, 4 TB hard drives are almost three times likely to fail than 1 TB hard drives. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it has to do with the heat they generate as well as length of time in hard service — being used every day.

I also looked into RAID and NAS systems. They actually have pretty high failure rates. That’s fine if a hard drive breaks since they are supposed to be redundant. But, if the main link breaks, you run into the problems that Leanne had.

Of course there are CDs and DVDs, but they corrupt a lot faster than anybody anticipated unless you use gold media. That’s costly and you still really should back up your files twice. Besides, hard ware changes. You should reborn discs every few years.

Of course there are clouds, which are really just offsite servers. I use them, but don’t really trust them completely. Electricity can fail. Internet service providers can fail. I use them. But, not exclusively.

milkyway-sorrento-stars-back-beach So, here’s what I do.

I mix and match. I use two portable 1 TB hard drives at the same time. Once they are filled — not to their maximum storage capacity because that can cause problems too — one goes offsite to a safe deposit box, the other stays with me. I also use two clouds only for master files, one from Apple. The other from Adobe.

Here’s why.

It’s about workflow. There is no one correct workflow. What you organize depends on what photograph and how you work in the field. I download my RAW files to both portables. I put a third set of files on my desktop. Those are the ones I curate and edit. Those files become my masters. They also are uploaded to both portables and the clouds. Once that’s done, they are the files I experiment with… the ones that you might see on my blog, Storyteller. They go onto both hard drives as well.

When I’ve finished with everything, I have two sets of RAW files. Three sets of masters and two sets of experimental files. The funny thing is that I come from the film era. In those days, we had one set of “files.” Negatives and slides. Collections were big and bulky. They were very hard to move in the event of some disaster. Today, we have multiple back up methods. Use as many as you need.

Thank you to those guys, they have similar things, and some things are different.

I know this has been a long post, but it is an important post, and it is something that all of us photographers should be thinking about.  Do you want to risk losing everything? Do you have a backup system in place?  Is it good enough? I will try and answer questions, but I am hoping that Victor, Ben, Robin and Ray might pop in from time to time and answer questions.  I might even be able to get Dave to give some advice, you never know.

The photos I have put in this post are some of the ones I would have lost if I had not been able to recover my images.  They are some of my favourites, and some you have seen a few times.



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