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I love the night lights

I spent a rainy Friday evening undertaking a 3 hour ‘night lights’ photography course. While the course is run by Sydney Photographic Workshops, I purchased it via Red Balloon using a voucher I was recently given. Despite some nervousness related to walking around the city following a week of consistent rain, I had a fantastic time. While it did continue to rain, it was light and I managed not to step in any large puddles so my feet remained relatively dry.

We undertook a series of exercises at different locations through the city. These included

  • shooting a bracket to check which level of exposure we liked
  • making people ‘vanish’ through adjustments in aperture
  • ‘torch writing’
  • extremely slow shutter speeds to get ‘trails’ of traffic
  • using exposure adjustment to turn night into day, and
  • shooting crazy lights with lots of movement

We really didn’t go far in 3 hours. We started at the Opera House and made our way up to the Cahill Expressway where there was a fantastic view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We ended in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art which gave us another view of the Opera House and the bridge. In the end, it didn’t matter that much where we went or how far, or even how good our photographs were. The night helped me get a better grasp of the three pillars of exposure – Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO. Previously I was a ‘change the shutter speed’ junkie. I finished the evening with a new found appreciation of what I could do with aperture. That I could set the aperture to F22 and almost make people walking through my shot vanish was really pretty neat!

Here’s a few of my shots from the evening.

Sydney Harbour Bridge

18-55mm lens at 55mm, f/5.6 for 1/2 sec, ISO 1600

Capturing the mood

18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/4.5 for 1.3sec, ISO 400

Sydney Harbour Bridge from Cahill Expressway

18-55mm lens at 18mm, f/5.6 for 1/2 sec, ISO 1600


2012 Genre a month challenge: Wildlife Photography

I’m half way through my month of Wildlife and Nature Photography and I am getting better at shooting moving targets. My father grows a number of plants in the front garden which attract birds and bees. This one he calls the ‘cigarette bush’ which is not a particularly flattering name. Nevertheless, it remains enticing to bees. I had more than half a dozen bees to choose from, which was lucky, as the buggers are quick!

2012 Genre a Month Photography Challenge: Wildlife

18-55mm lens at 55mm, f/5.6 for 1/80 sec. ISO 125. Cropped slightly post production.

If you’ve participated in my Genre a Month Photography Challenge, please post a comment with a link to your efforts on this page

Christmas 2011

Chilly Long whiskers


Bondi Late Boxing Day

Baby, Grandma & Great Grandma I


Bromeliad II

Redfern Towers

Bondi Boxing Day 2011

Lysh & Io I

2012 Genre A Month Photography Challenge

365 day creative challenge? Umm… no. Postaday2012? Too adventurous. But after my moaning about my 80% completion of the Alice painting, the knitting, the sewing and many other things, I feel a target is order. I was recently reading The Complete Photographer by Tom Ang. He details a number of different photographic genres. It gave me the idea that choosing to focus on one genre each month was probably achievable. This is a personal challenge but if anyone else would like to join me for moral support, I welcome you. (Andrew doesn’t know it yet, but he’s already joining me!)

So here’s my plan:

  1. January: Wildlife & Nature Photography
  2. February: Travel Photography
  3. March: Landscape Photography
  4. April: Event & Milestone Photography
  5. May: Fashion & Nude Photography (I’m opting for the former!)
  6. June: Sports Photography
  7. July: Portrait Photography
  8. August: Documentary Photography
  9. September: Abstract Photography
  10. October: Macro Photography
  11. November: Urban Landscape Photography
  12. December: Pet Photography

If you are participating in the Genre a Month Photography Challenge, please post a comment including a link to your efforts on this page.

I almost made that last one ‘cat’ photography as they are the only pets I have!

Many of these subjects are in Tom Ang’s The Complete Photographer, a few are ring-ins.

I’m already doubting how I will achieve this. Is it ok just to have one photograph a month on topic? Yes, I will allow myself this! If I have several, all the better! I keep thinking that Wildlife & Nature Photography may not be the easiest to select in January. Firstly, it’s usually stinking hot in January (I’m in Australia) and most wildlife is well served hiding under a rock. Secondly, I’m not going to a zoo in January so that means I have to find some wild wildlife, so to speak. I made February Travel as I am going away for a short period. I could have equally made it Event & Milestone photography as it is Andrew’s 40th birthday.

The only one I think may be near impossible is ‘Sports Photography’. I really don’t do sports. When Andrew reminded me that his place is very near a football oval, I decided to retain the genre. It may be good for a laugh!

So, I think my Canon 550d is going to have a workout in 2012. Wish me luck!

January: Wildlife & Nature Photography

My first  and second efforts at wildlife lead me to pursue more of the nature route as at least it didn’t move as much (windy days aside). My three favourites for the month:

Sunset over the Redfern towers

Nature meets man

Insect Kuringai Chase National Park

Christmas is the bees knees dad

Bee's Knees I

18-55mm lens at 55mm, f/5.6 for 1/80 sec.

Merry Christmas dad, here’s the bee’s knees. I did a little internet research to answer your question. It seems that most people think the bees in bee’s knees is just one bee and therefore the apostrophe should go before the s. Hmm… might need to let the American who named this orchid know he misplaced his apostrophe! I also found out that the bee’s knees has many pseudonyms; including the cat’s pjamas and the cat’s whiskers. Some pseudonyms fell out of use. These include the flea’s eyebrows, the eel’s ankle, the elephant’s instep and the snake’s hip. Personally, I cannot imagine why they aren’t in use today. I think the snake’s hip would make a mighty fine name for an orchid. It beats all those other orchids which are named after women – Sylvia Fry et al – or, worse, sunsets.

For readers interested in photography rather than the idiosyncrasies of naming orchids, the above photo was taken using my standard 18-55mm lens. The one below, is with my new +4 close-up filter attached. All other settings remain the same (55mm, f/5.6 for 1/80 sec).

Bee's Knees II

18-55mm lens at 55m, f/5.6 for 1/80sec with +4 close-up filter.

After I was satisfied with the close-up of the photo – and let’s face it, I had no choice but to be satisfied as the +4 is the highest magnifying filter I have – I decided to give it another go on manual settings to see if I could bring out the colour a little more.

That’s when I got this shot, which I think is the bee’s knees.

Bee's Knees III

18-55mm at 53mm, f/5.6 for 1/2500 sec with +4close up filter applied

Merry Christmas dad and congrats on growing this little beauty. Just one little piece of advice: next time you have the opportunity to name an orchid, I think you can’t go past the flea’s eyebrows. It will be a bestseller!

There’s cat hair in my paint!

Paint tube no close-up filter

Photograph without close up filter

I recently acquired three close up filters for my Canon 550D: a +1, +2 and a +4. When I ordered them I have visions of taking beautiful close up images of flowers or insects. Instead, Andrew has used the +4 filter to take close up images of a tube of oil paint. This first image is the tube of paint without any filter attached. At this level, it’s still possible to see the shrek-esque green oozing from beneath the cap. I can even spy several white cat hairs, no doubt from Gesso, stuck to the congealed glob of paint.

Add the +4 filter and the truly disgusting nature of the paint spillage reveals itself. It is not just paint but a cocktail of brown gunge (a new word!) and cat hair. This little test has proven to me that a cheap close up filter is a worthy investment for someone like me. I imagine that serious photographers would find a macro lens to be preferable, however for an amateur like me the filter rings are an affordable substitute.

Paint tube +4 close-up filter

Same tube with +4 close up filter used

Now that I’ve satisfied my curiousity using a paint tube, I’ll try to find more visually appealing subject matter!

Like this little rascal…
Sleeping deaf kittenOne of the advantages in having a deaf cat is that it will stay asleep through rattling of dishes, or in this case, while I fiddled with the settings on my camera to get a close up shot.

Of course, this makes him look enormous. While I have little doubt that Gesso will grow up to be plump, he is for the moment an average sized kitten. It is surprising that his head has not grown to epic proportions, such is the frequency in which he is photographed. Sadly for poor Pickle, Gesso knows he’s cute and is learning young how to hog the limelight.

Not the nine o’clock fireworks

We set out to take photos of the 9 o’clock Darling Harbour fireworks show. We returned with this snapshot instead.

Louis Vuitton Paparazzi King St Sydney

5 men all taking photos with their phones of louis vuitton window

What was so fascinating about Louis Vuitton’s King St Sydney window, I’ll never know. The sight of 5 men snapping photos with their phones of whatever was in the window was a little bizzare indeed. Louis Vuitton worshippers perhaps? I thought their silhouettes against the red window made for a great photo in itself.

While I’m sharing photos, I have to include this one of Gesso. I was very pleased as I took it using the manual mode my camera (Canon 550d).

Gesso sleeps

[70-300mm lens at 70mm, f/5 for 1/10 sec.]

Yes, he’s beautiful when he’s quiet.

The broken crockery we found on the floor when arriving at Andrew’s place last night was nothing to do with this little sweetheart. I think I jinxed myself by thinking it would be nice to go home to my peaceful – ADULT – girls. That’s why I heard a thump during the night and woke to find my Wii on the floor. Unlike Gesso, Licorice and Saffron are smart enough not to sit next to the evidence. Indeed – PLAY with the evidence. Andrew yelling at the [deaf] cat to stop playing in the ceramic shards was hilarious – after the fact. For a girl who hates domestic duties I’m getting pretty good at cleaning up at Andrew’s place, thanks to this little devil.

My day in pictures

Sublime Point Lookout

Strawberry sauce

Tree dragon

Aloe vera flower

Using manual focus

High speed Abstract

Near Picton

Gesso sleeping