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Moeraki Boulders

 

This was supposed to be a postcard from New Zealand, but I didn’t get a chance to put it up.  So instead it has turned into a kind of recap of my time there. Albeit a very short one. The above image is also a desktop wallpaper you can download by clicking on.

I spent near two weeks travelling New Zealand’s South Island and at least half of that time with my jaw on the floor of the rental car at the sheer majesty of the landscape. There were several occasions where I drove around a bend and had to pull over and just stare at the epic snow capped mountain range or rolling valley I was confronted with for a few minutes before remembering I had camera with me and I should probably make a photo or two.

In heading to New Zealand I had a few specific locations I wanted to visit and a broad idea of what I was looking for, but I really wanted to relax and let images find me instead of chasing them in the hope of making stronger images. This was not easy. In preparing to travel anywhere, you tend to look at images, get inspired and start thinking you’d love to do something similar. The end result being images that feel forced. Its a hard practice to undo. Especially as the excitement of pending travel grows. Sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I didn’t. Regardless, it was an inspirational and humbling time during which photography again taught me many things about myself. Not least of all that I have no patience. None. I think I actually have negative patience. Not an ideal trait for a landscape photographer.

The above image is of the boulders at Moeraki on the Otago coast. These huge, spherical stones were created by minerals solidifying around a central object in the same way a pearl grows, then due to the erosion of the coast line, fell or rolled from surrounding cliffs to their current place on the beach. Not by erosion from waves as commonly thought. Here’s the full Wikipedia explanation for the geologically inclined.

This image and the others I shot at this area were made by resting my camera on other boulders, my camera bag and the beach itself, sometimes propped up by pieces of clothing, books, driftwood and anything else I could find to do the job. I had managed to break my tripod earlier at Milford Sound (more on that another time) which was somewhat restrictive, but also forced me to be creative and innovative in shooting on the last couple of days. I also discovered I have more confidence than is warranted in my ability to hand hold a camera for a 1/45 second exposure in strong winds. Another lesson learnt.

More thoughts on New Zealand and images to come.

 

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London Bridge Great Ocean Road

I spent a few days recently at Port Campbell, home of the 12 Apostles on the Great Ocean Road.

The 12 Apostles are one of those locations that is always packed with photographers. Especially at sunset, it is hard to find a small square of real estate on one of the viewing platforms to set up a tripod. Its a bucket list kind of location.

Many people though pack up and head home when they’re done shooting the Apostles without taking the time to explore some of the other less well known but just as worthwhile landmarks. Being just before holidays start, most of the area was fairly quiet, except for the Apostles themselves which is constantly packed with tour busses.

Although I did fit in one session at the main attraction, this trip, I tried to spend more time exploring other parts of the coastline, and there is lots more to see. This wallpaper image is from London Bridge (no, not that one).

Just click on your resolution to download and please hit “Like” below if you do.

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Vietnam WallpaperDusk on the river near Hoi An’s Ancient Town

Back home from Vietnam and starting on the process of cataloguing, keywording selecting and developing a new batch of images for release into the big wide world. It’s a lengthy process but I think I’ve worked out a workflow to get them out there in good time.

As for Vietnam, this was my first visit and what I found was a beautiful country full of warm, friendly, hardworking and industrious people. We started in chaotic Hanoi dodging motor scooters in the Old Quarter before heading to Hue, an ancient capital full of history. Then on to Hoi An with its beautifully preserved old town before finishing in Ho Chi Minh City (still Saigon to its friends).

The only disappointment was not being able to visit Ha Long Bay due to a cyclone. That one will have to wait until next time.

I’ll post more on the experience in the coming weeks, but in the meantime, here are a couple of things I learnt:

1. In a location where sights, sounds, smells and textures can be overwhelming, often the best thing to do is choose a theme for photography and stick to that for the session. We always talk about broadening our vision, but we can do this in small steps. Try looking for interesting faces in the morning, colours and textures in the afternoon and movement and motion in the evening. I found that this way I was able to capture a broad range of subject without becoming overawed by every detail around me.

2. Vietnamese coffee is one of the best inventions in the history of humans.

3. You can fit anything onto the back of a motor scooter.

Lastly, I’ve made the above image into a new desktop wallpaper to enjoy. Just click on your resolution to download and please hit “Like” below if you do.

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Chinatown mural

Its desktop wallpaper time again and this one comes from the streets of San Francisco’s Chinatown. This is both the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest in North America. Its steep and narrow streets are full of wonderful colourful street art and murals. There is no shortage of interesting backgrounds for photo opportunities, and often all you need to do is choose your background and wait for the right characters to come along, which is how this image was made.

Feel free to download, and dont forget to “Like” if you do.

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Cherry blossoms

Just over a year ago I was in Japan and was lucky enough to have timed my visit with the annual cherry blossom bloom. I say lucky because blooms were out a few weeks early that year in Tokyo due to some warmer than usual weather for early spring. Naturally, I made many, many images and this was one of my favourites.

The cherry blossoms, or Sakura in Japanese, are out again now this year in Japan, parts of Northern America, China and a surprising number of other regions. However nowhare are they more revered than in Japan where they symbolise the cycle of life. Sakura parties are held where groups sit under the trees and eat and drink and appreciate the beauty of the delicate flowers and their significance to Japanese culture.

Feel free to download, and dont forget to “Like” if you do.

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Golden Gate Bridge

Its been a while since the last wallpaper, so here’s one from my last USA trip.

The Golden Gate Bridge sits up there with the Brooklyn Bridge and Sydney Harbour Bridge as one of the world’s most iconic (and most photographed) bridges.

This image was made at dusk from Presidio.

As usual, click on your resolution size to download, and please “like” on Facebook if you do.

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Fushimi Inari Taisha

This month’s desktop wallpaper is the thousands of torii at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan. Inari, as well as being the Shinto God of rice, is also patron of business. Each of the torii is donated by individuals or businesses in return for luck in business. Each torii is inscribed with the name of its sponsor and the date of their donation, and some of the larger ones fetch into the millions of Yen. The price of good luck.

As usual, click on your resolution size to download, and please “like” on Facebook if you do.

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Sydney skyline

This month’s desktop wallpaper will hopefully serve to help those in the middle of a Southern Hemisphere winter feel a little warmer. This image of Sydney Harbour was made at the end of a steamy 35 degree day in January. The harbour is magnificent at any time of year and day, but on a summer evening takes on a magical aura. It is the image that first comes to mind for many people when they think of Australia. Which makes it quite a difficult subject to photograph. The Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge dominate of course, but for this image, I didn’t want them to be centre stage, so focused primarily on the skyline.

Click on your screen resolution to download, and as usual don’t forget to click “Like” below if you do.

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Gibsons Beach

This month’s wallpaper is quite an unusual view of Gibson’s Beach on the Great Ocean Road and two of the 12 Apostles. It is unusual because of the mist that persisted all evening in rising from the wild Southern Ocean. At times the mist reached the top of these cliffs and almost blanketed them completely. These clifftops are around 40 to 50 metres high.

At first I was a little disappointed at seeing this and hoped that the mist would dissipate since the image I had imagined was a nice clear one of the Apostles and cliffs.  But in the end you work with what you get on location and I think that this ended up to be quite an original image of a well photographed location.

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Autumn Leaves

This image comes from the Dandenong Ranges National Park near Melbourne. A great place to find Autumn colours when the weather starts to change.

We all love the warm days of summer, but the Autumn weather provides some photo opportunities that you just can’t find during the hot months. While the weather cools, the colours found in nature warm up to brilliant reds and golds.

For the technically minded, specs of this image are:

ISO: 100

F / 5.3

Focal Length: 70mm

Shutter: 1/13 sec

Tripod mounted

Not a lot of post processing done on this one except for a little bumping up of colours, warming a little further with some white balance adjustment and applying a slight vignette.

Click on your screen resolution to the wallpaper. Don’t forget to “Like” if you do.

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