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Posts by Leanne Cole

Weekend Wanderings: Early Morning Along the Yarra River

This morning, not long after this post publishes I will be in a similar place with lots of other ladies photographing the river and the city over the river.  Mornings in Melbourne can be a great time to get so beautiful photos of the city and if you are lucky get it reflected very nicely in the river.  Unfortunately on this morning the river wasn’t being nice and wasn’t smooth, but we still go some great shots.


This was one of the first shots I took, you can see that with no clouds we weren’t going to get a good sunrise, still the colours were nice.


I know it wasn’t one of those brilliant red sunrises, but the orange and the silhouette or the surrounds is quite good.


The rising sun painting the city with gold, I like it when that happens in the morning.


We headed into the city and played around with the wide angle lens seeing what things up close looked like with it.


It was just before Easter, so I  had some fun taking some photos of the Easter eggs in the shops.


We went for a wander along Collins Street to Southern Cross Station and took photos along the way.

It was a lovely morning for photos and I really enjoyed it.  I am hoping that this morning is just as nice as well, maybe even nicer. It is going to take me a while to respond to comments, but I will get to them when I get home. I hope your morning starts off well and you have a great Sunday.

Weekend Wanderings: Photos Along the Bay

Melbourne was settled inside Port Phillip Bay, and many suburbs are on beaches, but because they are in the bay there aren’t big waves.  The other afternoon I went to Seaford and then Mordialloc, two suburbs on the bay, to take photos. It is an area I am not familiar with and when a friend suggested going down there I thought why not. We were met by another friend as well.  Always nice going out with friends to take photos.


We started at Seaford pier.  It was a lovely afternoon, not a cloud in the sky, a little windy, a bit chilly, but perfect for autumn. The water was a gorgeous aqua colour and so clear you could see through it, though I did a long exposure here and got that flat/smooth look on the water.


There were a couple of fisherman out on the pier and they were very chatty and we were having great fun talking to them.  It was pretty funny. They kindly let us take photos of them.


Once we were done there we headed down to the Mordialloc marina and looked around at the boats.  The sun was starting to set, but with almost no clouds we knew we wouldn’t get a brilliant sunset.  Still there was a golden glow.


The sun set, as you can see lots of orange, not much of anything else.  It was nice, but it could have been a lot better.  I don’t know why I never seem to get all the clouds.


So with not much colour in the sky it was all about the foreground and what we could do with it.  The above image was processed in Photomatix Pro and is a HDR and then I have done a lot more processing to it.  It wasn’t a long exposure, as in I didn’t use a filter, but it was a 5 image bracketed shot and those were all used in the HDR.

For those that don’t know bracketed shots are where you take a series of images at different exposure levels. With 5, one image is the correct exposure, two are under exposed, one more than the other and the last two are over exposed, one at one stop over and the other one at two stops over.

It was a lovely evening for taking photos anyway.  Though one of us, not me, didn’t come prepared for how cold it got and she was regretting not bringing a coat.  Not pointing the finger at any one.

I am going to leave with a gallery now.  I hope your Saturday is good and you have lots of things planned.  I will be off to meet a new person for a one on one photography session in the city today.

UfD: Travel Photography-Lessons Learned

Travel Photography-Lessons Learned

Last December Leanne invited me to write a post entitled “Up for Discussion- Travel Photography” for her blog and I happily accepted the opportunity. Both she and I were planning major trips to completely different destinations—New York City and Antarctica—and we asked readers to offer their thoughts on what gear we should be taking. The responses were numerous and full of good ideas.

My Antarctica trip is now completed and Leanne suggested a “Lessons Learned” post might be of interest. It also is opportunity to thank those who commented on the original article. Their collective wisdom was of great help in my pre-trip research. On the subject of pre-trip research I would also recommend a post by Susan Portnoy, an excellent travel photographer based in New York City.

Antarctica 21

Early Morning (38mm, shot at f/5.6, 1/1000th sec., ISO 800)

  1.  One Camera Body or Two? There is no place in Antarctica to rent equipment and several readers (Murray Foote, Chillbrook, and others) recommended taking two bodies, so I purchased a second D800E (used). Even though there was no breakdown, the second body had another important benefit discussed in Lesson #3.

    Caption:  Lemaire Channel (35mm, shot at f/16, 1/640th sec., ISO 400)

    Lemaire Channel (35mm, shot at f/16, 1/640th sec., ISO 400)

  2. Weight Matters: There was a strong consensus that putting cameras and lenses in checked baggage is risky. Consequently, airline weight restrictions for carry-on baggage become the critical factor in limiting what one can take. The tour company advised that our flight to Ushuaia had a strict 5 kg policy (11 pounds). Yikes! But several readers (Murray Foote and others) assured me that airlines rarely weigh the bags. That turned out to be the case, although I had Murray’s Plan B (Winter Jacket with big pockets) if I got unlucky. The tripod remained at the hotel in Buenos Aires, a decision I did not regret. I retrieved it afterwards for the side trip to Iguazu Falls where it was heavily used. One reader suggested the F-Stop Loka Ultralight Camera Bag which weighs in at 1 kg (2.2 pounds) and has the perfect dimensions for overhead bins.

    Gentoo Penguin and Ice (31mm, shot at f/16, 1/400th sec., ISO 400)

    Gentoo Penguin and Ice (31mm, shot at f/16, 1/400th sec., ISO 400)

  3. How Many lenses? Many readers emphasized the need for at least two lenses, a mid-range and a telephoto. Several said a long telephoto (300mm at least) would be needed for wildlife. But weight considerations made this impossible. However, Sarina of Sariscorner among others recommended a tele converter. My Nikon 1.7x converter (9.3 ounces) increased my 70-200mm lens to 119-340mm. I left my 5-pound 80-400mm zoom behind and I’m glad I did. The two lenses plus the tele converter were sufficient. The second camera body eliminated the need to change lenses, a critical benefit because the numerous shooting opportunities in Antarctica are both fleeting and varied, not to mention the wet conditions. Sv-takeiteasy suggested a dry bag for the Zodiac trips, and I found one that fit easily in my checked baggage.

    Caption:  From a Moving Zodiac (200mm, shot at f/11, 1/1000th sec., ISO 800)

    Caption: From a Moving Zodiac (200mm, shot at f/11, 1/1000th sec., ISO 800)

  4. Prepare Yourself: Lensaddiction contributed some excellent points about one’s ability to cope with the conditions in which they are photographing. If you aren’t in shape, start exercising well before the trip. Have proper outdoor clothing, and stay hydrated at all times. As she said, “It’s not just the camera gear, it’s you.” When the weather turned really cold here in Virginia, it was an opportunity to test certain clothing options to see how they stood up. I found that NorthFace nylon rain pants (very thin material) as an outer layer provide excellent protection against wind chill in a stiff wind even at 10 degrees (F). But not all worked as advertised. A pair of Freehands gloves, for example, make camera operation easy but provide little protection even in moderate cold. Solution: use them as the inserts in ski gloves when not actually shooting.

    B&W Images Work Well Here (200mm, shot at f/11, 1/1000th sec., ISO 800)

    B&W Images Work Well Here (200mm, shot at f/11, 1/1000th sec., ISO 800)

  5. Trust the histogram: Antarctica provided a combination of challenges I had never experienced simultaneously: shooting frequently in low light conditions without a tripod, a need for depth of field (small aperture), and high shutter speed. This usually required a higher ISO than I typically used. The Histogram, and its trusty sidekick, the “blinkies” panel, are your best friends in a situation like this.

    Dawn (70mm, shot at f/5.6, 1/250th sec., ISO 800)

    Dawn (70mm, shot at f/5.6, 1/250th sec., ISO 800)

  6.  Shooting from a Moving Platform: I knew the definitions of roll, pitch, and yaw before this trip, but I had never experienced them while trying to take photographs. Of course, a high shutter speed will eliminate the effects of motion and horizons can be straightened in post-processing. That’s OK for single exposure images, but what about panorama scenes where several overlapping exposures are taken with the intent to merge them in post-processing? The rules for this technique insist the camera be in the same spot for all exposures in the sequence. But the ship was not going to stop every time I saw a pano opportunity. Having no other choice, I took each sequence as quickly as possible, averaging about 1 second between exposures. I could only hope that Photoshop would figure it out somehow which, as it turned out, was the case.

    Merge of 3 Images  (200mm, shot at f/9, 1/800th sec., ISO 800)

    Merge of 3 Images (200mm, shot at f/9, 1/800th sec., ISO 800)

  7. Be Alert to Surroundings: A number of readers (e.g. Savannahhop9), mostly on the topic of Leanne’s upcoming trip to New York City, suggested that staying aware of your surroundings is an important practice. While perhaps less relevant aboard a ship than walking through a gritty urban environment at night, it was important several times during my time in Argentina and Brazil. Since I often am shooting in US cities after dark, I already knew this well and stayed out of trouble. Along this line, epadawon suggested using the free app from to register one’s gear in case it goes missing. I signed up for the service, but fortunately haven’t needed it so far.

    Moonrise (120mm, shot at f/5.6, 1/640th sec., ISO 800)

    Moonrise (120mm, shot at f/5.6, 1/640th sec., ISO 800)

Looking back on the trip and the photographic results, I would say that it was very successful. I can honestly say that much of that success is attributable to the excellent guidance from those who took the time to comment—many at great length—on the original post. I am very appreciative.

Antarctica 37

For those who like gear lists:

Cameras: 2- Nikon D800E DSLR bodies (total weight—2.04 kg)

Lenses: 1- Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 (weight—1.05 kg)

  1. Nikon 70-200 mm f/2.8 with 1.7 tele extender (weight–1.91 kg)

Accessories: 4- camera batteries, Memory cards (320 GB capacity), circular polarizing filter, variable neutral density filter, battery charger (combined weight—0.82 kg)

Camera bag: F-Stop Loka UL (weight with the added optional internal camera compartment—1.5kg)

Total Weight = 7.3 kg (16 lbs)

Antarctica 24

I hope you will all join me in thanking Robin for this great post.  It is great to see how the trip went and what he learned about the gear to take.  Robin has given us a lot of links, but none to him, so if you would like to take a look at his photos of this trip then go to his blog, photographybykent. Thank you Robin.

Quiet Thursdays: The Tamron 150-600mm Lens

It is meant to be my quiet day, and it is, really, but I thought I would start sharing you with you some of my thoughts on the Tamron SP 150-600mm lens that I have on loan from Maxwell International Australia. I have been using it a lot and am still constantly impressed with the images.  I recently went to the zoo again to take photos and it is a good place to test it out.


When you have it all the way to 600mm and trying to get something large the weight of the lens can make it hard, especially if you are hand holding.  I found my tripod wasn’t great for it and I was getting too much movement from it.  I seem to do better if I’m holding it.  Though I do get sore arms after a while.  I think I should start taking a monopod with me, help take some of the weight.  I’m planning on doing that this weekend.


Taking photos in cramped or enclosed areas I have found hard.  Though part of it I’m sure is getting used to it.  When what you are photographing is moving very fast it is difficult to keep up with it.  I’m getting better at the seals because I’ve watched the show a few times now and I can almost predict what is going to happen, like the shot above.


It is slower than say a Nikon 600mm lens and sometimes the focusing takes a bit of time to get there, but I think that is to be expected.  The Nikon lens would cost you around 10 to 12 thousand dollars, the Tamron around $1400.


Someone asked me if I thought it was sharp, and I have to say I do.  sometimes it takes a few shots to get that sharp image, but I do get them.

I have to say on the whole I think it is a great lens. I think it will be my next lens purchase.  Not sure when that will happen, but I know now that I definitely want one.  I enjoy using it and I enjoy that extra length I can get.  I also know that I would never be able to afford the Nikon equivalent, and for me, this one would be fine.

One a side note: yesterday someone told me that I shouldn’t photograph animals in zoos because it was exploitation of the animals.  I was quite disappointed to get a comment like that, and obviously from someone who hasn’t really looked into the great work that many zoos do now.

Melbourne Zoos is trying its best to help the survival of many species who might have been extinct now if it wasn’t for them.  A lot of care and attention goes into helping to make sure that their environments are close to what their natural habitats would be.  One of the best things that zoos do is to educate people, and show people what they can do to help these animals in the wild.  People also start feeling a connection with the animals and in turn, want to help them.

Melbourne zoo also only keeps animals that are endangered, and if they aren’t then the only ones you will see there are ones that cannot be returned to the wild.  The seal, Tarwin, in the above images, they tried to return and she ended up in trouble, so now she is there permanently. She is helping to educate the public on how to protect other seals in the wild.  I think that is fantastic.

Enough from me, here are some more images, all taken with the Tamron SP 150-600mm lens.

MM 2-8: Monochrome Madness 2-8

Next week is our theme again, so I hope you have all been getting out and taking lots of photos of fences.  I have to work out what I am going to do as well.  So many different types of fences to take photos of.  So, again, you don’t have to do the theme, there will be a gallery with the theme photos and then one of normal images.  Shall we get on with the madness that is monochrome now?


This image was taken on Sunday when I went exploring with my friend.  It is an bridge that you have to drive over to get to the Brisbane Ranges. Someone recently told me about the ranges, and I am embarrassed to say I can’t remember who they were, I’m so sorry.  They are wonderful and I will have to go back in Spring.  You have to go to a town called Steiglitz, which is amazing too.  It is completely off the grid apparently, so the people there don’t have electricity from the main power companies.  I need to find time to wander around around it.

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, 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
  • 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: Things are Getting Busy Again

Seems like heaps has happened this week and none of it to do with taking photos, though I am very happy to report that I have made a couple of times to take photos this coming week, which will be nice.  Things are starting to get very busy again, but that is okay, I do feel like I’m getting somewhere at this point in time.  Here are some of the things that have been happening.

My Website Theme

Maybe time to start looking for a new theme for my website.  The problem is finding a theme that will actually work.  I’ve been looking around, but they all seem to have problems.  They charge you money for them and then the things that are supposed to work on them don’t. I recently found sccity-hpm0418-embout that my contact form doesn’t work.  I’ve had it up there for months, and no one ever contacted me. Not that that means anything, but then recently someone found my email address and asked if I had got the first email they sent me, which I hadn’t.  Since I have removed the contact form, I’ve had further emails about potential work.

One on One Photography and Editing

It has been quite amazing how many enquiries I’ve been getting since I removed the contact form and added my email address. If you were someone who sent an a message through the contact form and didn’t get anywhere with it or I didn’t respond, I can pretty much guarantee I didn’t get the email, so I hope you will try again.

While I’m at it, can I give myself a plug.  I just want to remind people that I do One on One Photography sessions, they can be arranged to suit you, not just what we learn but also when.  If you are interested, take a look at this page, all the information you need to know about what I offer is there.

Dynamic Range – Magazine

I got some great ideas for the magazine last week, thank you to everyone who made suggestions.  I guess now it is about making it happen.

sccity-nikon9674One thing I need to do is get a design or something with the name.  I need to find a graphic artist who can put together something for the magazine.  Then I thought, what if we do it like the name, so if you are a graphic designer and would like to have a go at doing the logo, I guess that is what it will be called, then please, send me your ideas.  Once I have a few then I can show them here and everyone can vote on the best one. Perhaps the winner can get a free ad in the first issue.

I’m afraid at this point I can’t offer any monetary reward for it, but hopefully if the magazine is successful then we will be able to pay people with the money we make from selling advertising space.  Though, the space for advertising will be limited and we only want to get enough money to pay for people, if that makes any sense.  I hate those magazines that are full of advertising, so advertising will be kept to a minimal.

We are looking for contributors, so if you are a woman and think you can write an article for it, I would love to hear your ideas.

I think that is all I have about the magazine at this stage.  I’m really excited about putting it together, and I hope you are looking forward to getting it as well.  It is my hope that you will all share it everywhere.  Get as many people reading it as possible.

Digital Photography School

I have another article coming out for the Digital Photography School, I believe.  It is on Landscape photography this time and taking your own photos and processing them your way.  I don’t have the link yet, but when it is published I will add it here.

It has now been published, here is the link, Putting You Into Your Landscape Photography. So please share and leave your comments there as well if you don’t mind.  Would love to hear from you over there.

Photographing the Milky Way

screflect-city-hpm6482-2I going to try running a class on how to photograph the milky way in June.  I had a few people asking me last year if I would teach them, so here is the class. It is going to be down at Sorrento for anyone who is interested.  I have a Social Snappers Meetup Group so that might be a good way to keep up to date with excursions and classes that I am running.  The link is Social Snappers Meetups.

Social Snappers in the City

There is a Social Snappers outing this weekend. We are meeting at 6.30am in the city and the excursion is Take Early Morning Photos Along the Yarra. So hopefully we get some sort of sunrise, and a very calm mirror like river.

The photos that are in this post were taken of the city in 2012 and 2013.  You will see what I am hoping for on Sunday morning. I need to go and do some more planning. I hope you are keeping busy as well.

Introductions: Alan Wright

Today I would like to introduce you to Alan Wright.  He is another Melbourne based photographer and I know one day I will get to meet him.  He goes to some amazing places to take photos and I want to go to some of them to.  I have got to know him more because of Facebook and that is where you will find him, Alan Wright Photography.


There are places that he has taken photos of that I have been to as well.  It is always very interesting to see how other photographers interpret places, it helps give you inspiration and ideas.

I asked Alan where he was and how long he had been doing photography for.

I live in Werribee Victoria and I love being here because I am very close to The Great Ocean Road and Point Lonsdale. I have been shooting for around 3 years and I only learnt how to use a camera because I went to Thailand and I wanted to take a photo of a sunrise.  I shot in auto, like most newbies, and the flash kept popping up. Then it would flash the beach and the photo looked strange so I knew a guy who taught lessons on cameras so went off and got shown about cameras and the rest is history really.


His long exposures are amazing and I really like seeing what he does, and what he photographs for them.  I get so much inspiration looking at them, and they always make me want to know  where they are, and how he took them.

I asked him why he takes photos.

I take photos as I am a chef and it can be very stressful. It is my release from the stress and pressure. I also love going out into nature and just being calm and at peace. Nothing better than standing in a river and feeling the water in your shoes and getting that shot no one else will try cause they’re scared of jumping a fence and getting wet.


While Alan does do some monochrome work, I really enjoy seeing his colour images. I really like the colours of his work. They are warm, many of them, and the light invites you into the images.  There is something about the depth too, like landscapes that go on forever.

I asked him about inspiration.

My inspiration is just trying to always capture what I see in my eyes and being able to come home to show others the great things I saw. I have also decided I want to enter photo competitions and just push myself as much as I can to get better and excel. Last year I set a goal to within the next 5 years get a shot that is worthy of a silver award and 2 months i did just that and also got 24th place in the Ameteur section for the loupe awards. So that was a massive thrill to be included with people I look up to and respect have my name next to theirs. Now its to push and get a Gold but lets aim for 10 years for that lol.

Alan-Wright-Introduction1021I know there are lots and lots of waterfalls in Victoria, but I only know a few. I almost had a chance this week to find some new ones, but unfortunately it was happening on a day I couldn’t go.  I hope there will be other chances. I have seen some spectacular waterfall images by Alan and I want to try and get some of my own.

I asked Alan about gear.

I shoot with a Nikon D800 and a Sony A7. My fav lens are my Nikon 16-35 and my Art series 50mm. I always seem to have a ND filter on my lens and i own a few brands like Lee, Hoya and others.

I would like to thank Alan for giving me permission for featuring his work here on my blog.  You can find a lot more of Alan’s work on his Facebook Page, Alan Wright Photography. I am going to put a gallery now of his work, I’m sure you will love it as I did.


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