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Posts tagged ‘photography’

Tuesday’s Bits and Bobs – Going into October

The Mallee is now just another memory, as I arrived home yesterday.  It was another successful trip for me, and I have told you about things that I have done there, but the photos will be shown over the next few weeks.

The Mallee

I thought perhaps I should show you a map of the area that I have been talking about.

map of victoria

For those that don’t know where the state of Victoria is, well, it is in the bottom right corner of Australia.  I live in Melbourne, and since so many have asked where the Mallee was I thought I would show you.  I have circled it in Red, and in purple circled where many of the places that I go to take photos are. I hope that helps you understand where it is, maybe I should have done it with the satellite, then you would be able to tell what the country is like.

Nyah West Workshop

mallee-millky-way-light-starsThe workshop I ran just out of Nyah West went really well, and well overtime, but it was great.  I really enjoyed meeting everyone and going out and taking photos with them.  Where we went in the afternoon was fantastic, and we basically stayed there for the rest of the afternoon.  After the sunset we headed into town for dinner at the Nyah West pub. Nice meal, shame about the manners of aome of the staff, hopefully that gets sorted.  Then after dinner we went back out and took photos of the milky way over the salt lakes.  It is only the second time I have taught night photography like this and it was fantastic.  I think I have worked out the best way of doing it.  Once everyone had decent shots of the night sky, then we started adding some other elements with light.  It was a lot of fun and one of my favourite photos came from that session.  I have attached it here for you to see.

I really enjoyed running this workshop and it is something that I think I would really like to do a lot more of.  It is good to have a specific goal.  I love seeing peoples faces when the penny starts dropping on taking photos.  I might have to see if I can drum up some business to run some more.  I think one workshop that would be good would be something like learning your DSLR and how to use it to get the best from it.  I think it is something that people in the country might miss out on, and it is what I have noticed that people seem to struggle with the most as well.

Star Trails

woomelang-star-trail-silos-webI’m no real expert at taking star trails, I’ve only done two, and the second one was only done the other night.  I was asked how I did it, and really all I did was set up the camera for 30 second exposures, at f/2.8, ISO was, I think, 1250, and then off the camera went for an hour, oh I locked the shutter release so it would just continuously take photo after photo.

I was going to do it for 2 hours, it was really cloudy, and I didn’t think the photos would work.  When I stacked them I was so surprised that the clouds hadn’t mattered, so now I wish, of course, that I had done it for longer. Daylight savings starts here soon, so not sure how much of this I will do, will have to see.  I also don’t like the idea of being bitten alive by mosquitoes either.

Monochrome Madness

Since I have been away, I’ve received lots of emails with submissions, and I’m afraid I probably won’t have time to respond to them.  I am so sorry, but I have to go to Kinglake National Park again, testing the macro out there this time.  I will have to spend the time when I get back on the post and getting it ready for tomorrow morning.  I hope you forgive me.

That is about it for today, I think, I need to get a move on with some things.  I am going to leave you with some images of the milky way, and the above ones in a gallery.  The other milky way shots were done when I had finished doing the star trail over the silos in Woomelang.


Influencing Me – The Mallee

Finding what inspires you can come from anywhere and I have shown you places previously that I find influencial, but they have been places that I can’t really visit.  The place that I can visit and get inspiration from is the Mallee.  It is such a stark environment and I find it really amazing.  Every time I come up here I find something new to photograph, as I showed you yesterday.  So today I thought we might revisit some of my favourite photos that I have taken here over the last few years.  Of course, I have been photographing this area for a lot longer than that, but I thought I would just look at the photos that I have shown you before.


The old shearing shed in Woomelang is a building that so many people have photographed and found inspiration from, including me.


The Mallee gets some amazing sunsets, I haven’t seen a lot of them, a few here and there, but nothing really spectacular, well not when I have the camera out.  I will get a brilliant one one day, the odds are in my favour.


There are lots of old shacks, around, though it helps to know people who will show you around.  The more time I spend up there, the more people I am getting to know.


Sometimes I get to see things that I might not otherwise. I photographed the aftermath of the fires earlier this year, and now I am getting to see the areas regenerate.

I think the Mallee could end up being a massive influence and each time I come up here, I am trying to work it all out.  I think I am starting to work out what my story is for this area.  I will have to start working on it soon.

I am just going to leave you with a gallery of some of my favourite images from around here now.  Do you have a place or area that inspires and influences your work?

Weekend Wanderings – Mallee Salt Lakes

It always amazes me how you can discover new things in places that you think you know. I am up here in the Mallee again and in the last few days I’ve seen some things that I haven’t seen before. I was running a workshop over near Nyah West, a small country town, of no consequence, (I love that line) near Swan Hill, in Victoria’s north.  I spent much of my childhood in this area because my grandparents had property near there, but over the Murry River in another town called Koraleigh.  So when it was suggested that we have the workshop on the salts pan outside Nyah West, I was surprised, as I knew nothing about them.


On Thursday I went over to Nyah West to meet Lyn who was helping me to organise everything and this was her suggested place to go. I don’t think they normally have water in them, but the night before there was a massive down pour, I think state wide, and the Mallee got a lot of rain.  The whole area was so wet, but we thought it would dry out for the workshop, which it did somewhat, so we were able to go there and do the workshop.

It was incredible, the colours, the water, the dead trees.  I’ve never shot anywhere like this.  I just wanted to get in there and start taking photos.


As you can see there are places around the edges to walk, but salt pans or lakes can be very deceiving. You start walking on them and then you start sinking, so you really have to be careful where you step.


On the way there from Woomelang I drove past a couple of other salt lakes, then on the way home decided to stop and take photos. You can see the above one has fence posts, so it must have been farmland at some time, and now it’s being reclaimed by nature.


This is another lake, the tail end of a very big salt lake near Sealake, Lake Tyrrell. I would love to explore it one day, but I think I might need a 4 wheel drive.  I did have to stop at the tail and went for a walk among the salt bushes to take some photos.


This old house is on the road between Nyah West and the salt pans, or Towan Plains and we stopped to take a look and thought it might be a good place to bring everyone first for the workshop. We were very worried about snakes. Which turned out to be good to thing when one of the participants saw a big brown snake because we were already weary.  I guess the snakes are waking up from their winter slumber.

It was good to find some new places to explore and plans will be made to come back next time I am up this way.  I got some great photos from the workshop, but they will have to wait for another weekend wandering post.  I hope your weekend has been productive.

Weekend Wanderings – Snapping the City in the Dark

Last Sunday I went into the city for another Social Snappers Photography Excursion for a night photography session. We met at the MCG at 6pm, ended up at Flinders Street Station, and finished around 9.30. The idea was that we would start on the bridge that goes over the train lines, photograph the city from there, then slowly make our way along Birrarung Marr and end up at Flinders Street Station, or near there, to photograph car trails. I knew the area from riding a bike a few years ago, but I had never tried to photograph it, so it was new for me too.


The plan had been to try and get the sunset, but by the time we got there it was pretty much over, I think it was because there were no clouds.  One day, I will get it.  It was a beautiful clear night so we couldn’t complain about that.  Being a Sunday night also meant that there weren’t many trains.


So from there we started walking to the city.  There are paths and they are quite well lit, so it wasn’t hard to find our way. I think the most curious thing was that so many people wanted to know what we were shooting, or why we were taking photos.  I think seeing a group of women out taking photos is not something people see every day, it is something that I hope to change.


This is the Birrarung Marr bridge.  It helps link the city with the MCG.  The MCG is one of our major sports arenas, possibly Melbourne’s oldest.  If you know about Melbourne, you would know how sports mad this city is.  The photos we got from here were wonderful, but it was an area that drove us insane. They have speakers on this bridge that play music, like folk ditties and stuff, and they have more than one going at a time.  It is horrible.  You can’t hear anything, and, well, you just want to enjoy the sounds of the area, but no, you have to listen to a whole bunch of songs and music playing at the same time.  Please Melbourne, turn off the music.


This is a massive sculptural piece that is by the river.  It used to be in front of the National Gallery of Victoria, but was moved a few years ago. Not an easy piece to photograph.  There are too many things in the way, rubbish bins, bright lights.


Finally, we went back into the city, where we all had fun taking photos of the car trails.  This is an iconic image and most people want to get it.  Every time I go and take photos here there are always lots of other photographers there as well. It wasn’t as busy as it normally is. Sunday night probably had a lot to do with it, but it was nice to get more photos.  The above photo is another stacked image, I can’t remember how many, I think around 20.

It was a very good evening.  One of the women that came along has said that she was feeling a bit shy, and was worried about doing this sort of thing, but she said that I gave her lots of information and that she learned a lot.  Her tripod broke and we had to share mine, which was fine.  She started using a lunch box to support her camera which, surprisingly, worked rather well.  I had so much fun, and I can’t wait to do more of these excursions.  I really think Social Snappers is such a great idea, it is good to go out with a group of women and just enjoy taking photos.

I’m running behind today, I was out all afternoon photographing Lake Albacutya, and then last night doing the milky way at Jonesy’s Bush Retreat.  Today, I’m off to Nyah West for my workshop on landscape and night photography, that should also be really good.  So for now, I have a gallery of images from last Sunday.  I hope your weekend is good and you get lots of chances to take photos.


Up for Discussion – Alternative Editing Software

Omar from the blog, My Photoblog, has written a post for us today on editing software, or rather introducing us to a new one, well it is new to me.  It is one that is open source, or free.  Many of you know that I love Linux and have been using Ubuntu on my computer at home for many years, and have used open source editing software.  Omar suggested writing a post on it here for all of us.

Basic Photography tools with Open Source

In todays IT industry, Linux has gained a lot of ground in the server rooms, but it is also a great alternative to Windows, and Mac OS X on the desktops/laptops at home.  I administer linux servers for a living, and I’ve been using it at home since 2005.  I have to admit, it can be a little rough around the edges, with upgrades breaking a system, but I’ve never had a problem that I couldn’t find a solution for online.  I also love photography, as a hobby, so I had to find tools to get organized, edit, and develop RAW images,  I would like to introduce digiKam for photographers. It’s an advanced digital photo management application for Linux, Windows, and Mac-OSX, so you can also try it if you are using one of those operating systems.

  • Workflow using digiKam
    • Downloading Images
    • Selecting Keepers
    • Tagging
    • Rating, sorting
    • Basic Editing
    • Sorting/searching
    • Batch processing


Downloading images, either using digiKam, or a simple file manager such as krusader or GNOME Kommander, or File Explorer on windows, or the Finder on OS X.

Selecting keepers: you can use the regular preview mode, or if you have multiple images of say the same subject.

selecting images

Using the light table is a great way to compare 2 images next to each other.


This is the Light table view, where you can compare two similar images.  Clearly the second one is a keeper, where the first will be deleted.


Using keyboard shortcuts, you can easily assign labels, Alt+1: Rejected, Alt+2: pending, and ALT+3: Accepted.  I usually also assign it a rating, 1 to 5 stars, using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+<number>.  This comes in handy in the next steps.

Once you finish going through the images, you can go to the filters, and select all the images that are rejected, or with a less than 3 star rating, and simply delete them.

Once the selection is done, and the keepers are rated, you can start tagging.  digiKam creates XMP sidecard files, using the same filename with an xmp extension, which is a standard used so that other applications can read them as well.

I usually add tags to my images, like Camera I used, location, if there are people in the pictures then I usually add their names, so I can easily search for them in the future. Here you can see the tagging/caption filtering screen:


You can also use digiKam’s built in image editor for basic image manipulation.  It has many useful, but basic features. You can always right click on an image, and open it in another application such as GIMP.  Another great feature of digiKam, that you can do non-destructive editing.  Since I mostly work with jpg files, I open the image in the editor and then save the final image in a new version which is usually the same filename with an _v1 at the end of the file name.  This way you still have the original, if you wish to do further editing to it in the future.

Once you add all your tags, and Copyright information, you can use the built in tools to export your images to many online services, such as flickr, SmugMug, Facebook, and many more.

Another great feature of digiKam, is the batch processing.  Where you can select multiple files, and apply settings, resize, save in a different format, add watermark, if you want or even batch edit exif information of images.


You simply select the change you want to apply, add it to the assigned tools, and then run the batch.  I use this frequently to export re-sized images, and rename the files as well.

Sharing is made simple as well, and there are many services that can be shared to like facebook, SmugMug, Picasa Web (photo’s on google), and Flickr to name a few.  It’s pretty convenient, since you can resize the image on the fly, so you won’t have multiple sizes, hanging around your hard drive.


digiKam, can also open/view RAW files, and the basic settings work fine for me, but for RAW images I like to use a separate application called Darktable.  I am still learning it so I can’t call myself an expert, but it fits my needs, for white balance correction, some sharpening, contrast, saturation, and exposure correction.  It can do more powerful processing such as masking, that I am still learning to use.

A few before and After images using digiKam, basic editing tools on .jpg images:




Since edits are non-destructive, you can also check on what you did with the image in the Versioning screen:


As you can see, I used the Auto Levels, and Noise Reduction filter to get the final image

In the end if you are into photography, and are using Linux, you shouldn’t worry about not having applications that can handle your RAW images, or do basic Tagging, and organizing.  Paid software such as lightroom, and photoshop will probably always be top notch, and be used in the professional world, but for the rest of us, there are Open Source alternatives, that can achieve similar results.etc

My Contact information:

Blog: My Photoblog

Thank you Omar, it is something new for me too, am I write in saying it seems a lot like Lightroom, so for people who can’t afford Lightroom, this is something alternative they could use.  Great idea.  I am going to put Omar’s images into a gallery so you can see bigger versions of them, make it easier to see all the small details.

Quiet Thursday – Fun with Macro Flowers

The Mallee is being unpredictable again and yesterday it was overcast and raining, though I hope it will clear soon.  I don’t want to have horrible weather again while i am here.  I did get a chance to head outside yesterday to take some photos of my mothers flowers with the Tamron Macro Lens that I have a loan of right now from Maxwell International Australia.

I don’t want to talk about it too much, it really is too soon to be giving you my opinion of the lens.  I did find it easy to use, and it was fun just taking photos with it.  Hoping to get another chance to go out and try it with the extension tubes before I have to head home.

That is enough, here a selection, or some of my favourite photos that I took.

MM30 – Monochrome Madness 30

When someone sent me an email with MM30, I was slightly shocked, 30 weeks already.  It seems to hard to believe that we have done that many, so in real terms for me, that means I have made 30 monochrome images that I otherwise wouldn’t have.  I think that is fantastic, so thank you everyone who sends images, to everyone who looks at the images, to everyone who comments, really to everyone who supports this series, I really appreciate it.


For MM30 this week I thought I would try these cray pots that I saw stacked up in Apollo Bay.  I had thought of doing another one once before, but I liked the colour version better.  I decided this time to just do it and get rid of the colour quickly, you know, before I had a chance to change my mind about it.  I don’t mind it, I think the monochrome version is nice, though now I’m starting to wonder if shouldn’t have added a sepia tone or something like that.  Mm, maybe another day.


Laura Macky has sent me her image and if you want to find out more about it, then please go to her blog, Laura MackyOn The Road Again – 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.



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