Just Because You Push A Slider – Should You?

When I first posted this image I got a lot of interest, so I decided to share my thought process and steps I completed.

This shot of the city skyline was pretty boring, given the weather at the time. I had gone to Bradley’s Head for a meetup with some members of the Landscape Photographers Network. It was supposed to be a long-exposure sunset shoot, but the prevailing weather has other ideas! After chatting with Dean, the shoot coordinator I thought that I would get a few “warm up” shots to begin. With a wide-angle shot I needed some foreground interest so I included the  sandstone wharf.


Final image

Final image

Step 1 - Original image

Step 1 – Original image

Step 2 - Add extra contrast & check overall exposure

Step 2 – Add extra contrast & check overall exposure

Step 3 - Crop image & open up shadow details

Step 3 – Crop image & open up shadow details

Step 4 - Adjust colour balance by making warmer & shift colour hues of yellows toward green.

Step 4 – Adjust colour balance by making warmer & shift colour hues of yellows toward green.

Step 5 - Apply graduated filter to sky to make darker and shift colour to match sandstone.

Step 5 – Apply graduated filter to sky to make darker and shift colour to match sandstone.

Step 6 - Use brush to change water colour hue more green & increase brightness.

Step 6 – Use brush to change water colour hue more green & increase brightness.

I used Capture One image processing software, but I think you could achieve a similar result in Adobe LightRoom, Apple Aperture etc.

After these preliminary edits I would generally export a 16bit file in .tiff format to then make more refined changes in Adobe PhotoShop. In this case the image is still a “work in progress”

#bradleyshead #phaseone #captureone #sydney

A Tiding of Magpies

The result was not anything like I had expected. The creative process is not always straight-forward. I had ended up with images much different to those I had envisaged. When Shirley, the Gallery Director asked me did I want to take part in the group show “A Tiding of Magpies” naturally I said yes. About 10 seconds later I realised that I did not actually have any images of a magpie!

Hmm – this sounded like a challenge…

I am not overly concerned,  it should be easy to get a photo as we often have a family of magpies in our yard. When I am out working in the yard, they will often follow me around as I stir up a bit of a smorgasbord for them. The parents attend to a rather large chick, who always seems desperately hungry if you judge by its constant cries. However, they became shy as soon as I got my camera out. So rather to try to approach them, I just started pulling out weeds like I normally do. It was not long until one of the parents come closer for a look through the pile of weeds. I managed to grab a couple of frames, and headed inside to download.

One of the frames was perfect! Despite the shallow depth of field, the eye was tack-sharp and I really liked its stance.

I had decided to make a black and white image, but when I looked on the screen, I thought it was boring. Recently I had played with a series of macro shots of Rosella feathers as possible scarf designs. A thought crossed my mind of what if my Magpie was a Technicolor one, and that maybe my scarf design could be somehow draped over. After a few attempts this also was not working for me.

Finally I wondered what this magpie would look like in a Warhol inspired series. So I placed the magpie into each very bright background, then brushed some of the visibility back to make the magpie seem to burst out of its background.

I am really happy how this series turned out and that the images work well on their own, or as a set. What was amazing was that had I not been asked if I had any images of magpies, then almost certainly these images would never been made.

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A Tiding of Magpies

#magpies #southernhighlands #milkfactorygallery #warhol


Warhol Magpie One

Warhol Magpie One

Warhol Magpie Two

Warhol Magpie Two

Warhol Magpie Three

Warhol Magpie Three

Warhol Magpie Four

Warhol Magpie Four





Is It Better to be Stubborn or Determined?

Just as I got the shot, I realised I was going to get wet! No time to put on the wet weather gear, I just grabbed my trusty fold-up umbrella & held it low over my camera. The wind was blowing the rain pretty much side-ways and perched high on Malabar Hill on Lord Howe Island there was no-where to shelter.

Earlier I was sitting among the Banyan trees and Kentia palms trying to figure out how to best capture this amazing forest. The trouble is for the most part it is very messy and chaotic. With our eyes we are able to filter out the clutter, but our camera does not. This is the challenge. I could see all these wonderful forms and textures, but when I looked on the back of my camera it did just look as good. So feeling a bit frustrated I just found a nice clear spot and sat down.

Maybe I had dozed off, I certainly was tired after all the 4:30am starts, but I became aware of subtle sounds in an otherwise almost silent environment. Wood hens seemed oblivious to my presence and happily scratched around the forest floor within arms reach. I looked up and immediately saw the shot of the Banyan tree I had in mind. The location I had chosen favoured the morning light, so I locked that spot away for the shoot for the next day.

The day before our group had climbed to the summit of Malabar and it seemed I was 20 seconds too late with all my shots. If I went one way the light was not as good by the time I relocated. Yes, in hind-sight I maybe just should have been more patient and waited – however, it is impossible to sit still when you see amazing light, you just have to try to capture it. Also, those places that were beautifully lit up were actually one-off occurrences, so waiting int the one spot would (on this occasion) not have worked.

So sitting in the forest on a fairly sunny, but windy day I was wondering if I should bother lugging all my camera gear to the top of Malabar again? A sensible person would have probably thought, just walk back to the resort if you hurry you might just make it back for afternoon tea. Determined to try to get some shots that I missed the day before, I headed off to the Malabar Hill trail head.

It is a steady climb up the well-defined track. The walking guide suggests it is a class 4 walk, but carrying too much camera gear and a tripod for the second trip feels otherwise.

When I reach the summit the light is just bright sunshine, and fairly uninspiring. I can see the thick band of cloud hanging on the horizon as it has for the past few days. This band of cloud has been problematic. No sunsets or wonderful late glows but the light just shuts off, like someone flicking a switch. Feeling totally uninspired and maybe thinking that the afternoon tea might have been a better option I look around to see what are my shooting options. I am actually a bit early, so I decide I will push on and head off to Kim’s lookout. When I arrive there the wind is blowing so hard, it almost knocks over my tripod. I am sure glad I a good grip of the camera strap. The light still is horrible, so I get a quick shot looking down the western edge of the island and head back to Malabar.

I sit down and have a bit of a rest for 10 minutes since the sun has gone behind the cloud bank and decide that the light is not going to co-operate so I will get a couple more “record” shots and call it a day. As I finish and pack up my camera I suddenly notice a large rain cloud sweeping in. Not sure where it has materialised from! Just as I clamp my camera onto my tripod the sun breaks through the clouds and illuminates the rain cloud. WOW!! I flick off a few frames and check all is good. However I soon realise I am about to get wet. I quickly get out my fold up umbrella and after wiping raindrops off my lens shoot two more frames before the rain hits. The light shuts down as quickly as it appeared. Turning to shield my camera, the wind catches the umbrella and flips it inside out. Out of the corner of my eye I see a rainbow behind me. Actually it is a double-rainbow! No time to fiddle about I put the umbrella on the ground and stand on it to stop it blowing away. A quick wipe of the lens and fire off 3 or 4 frames. Already the rainbows are starting to fade.

Whew – I reckon this all occurred in under a minute! I have another quick check on the back of the camera and smile to myself that I am glad that made the effort.

I remember reading somewhere “Bad weather = Good photos” I am sorry I cannot credit the author, but how true is this?

How often after a huge storm has light broken through the clouds or as in my case sun shining through rain. This creates magic and dramatic light.

If  I was not determined to try to get that shot, I could have easily just had a rest and not have worried. Sure, the weather could have just been nice and sunny and boring but it wasn’t. One thing for sure if I wasn’t out shooting I definitely would NOT have got anything!

So is it better to be stubborn or determined? I would like to think I am just determined, but I know many (including most of my family and friends) know that I do have a certain “stubbornness” when I set my mind on something, so I guess its ok to be both!

I know I got wet, but I also know I got a couple of great images.

Raincloud passes over Lord Howe Island

Rain cloud

Rain sweeping in

Rain Cloud II

double rainbow Lord Howe Island

Double Rainbow over Soldiers Gap

Lord Howe Island - Ned's Beach

Ned’s Beach Passing Storm

Lord Howe Island

Ned’s Beach

A log exposure of a passing storm from the wharf at Lord Howe Island

Passing Storm


#lordhoweisland #Malabar #rainbow #storm #landscape

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Vixen or Victim – TAFE Film Noir Project

We love our TAFE course. We always learn new stuff and have fun – so what’s not to like about that? Our latest project is to create an image in the film noir genre. Rather than re-pick teams out teacher decided just to use the same teams as for the Cocteau Madness project.

We had the idea of Pegg waiting for a bus (1950’s style) & then playing with shadows let the viewer decide what was about to happen, or had just happened.

Some of the variations included:

  • shooting front-on with a menacing shadow behind her
  • swapping her shadow for another (subtle but spooky)
  • revealing a shadowy figure

Pegg really went to town with this project organising nearly all the associated props and costumes. She was definitely the star of the shoot. Caleb was our “mystery man”, whilst Helen was talent wrangler, props, wardrobe and continuity supervisor.

I hope you like the results, we certainly had fun making them.

Vixen or Victim 1

Vixen or Victim 1

Vixen or Victim 2

Vixen or Victim 2

Vixen or Victim 3

Vixen or Victim 3

Vixen or Victim 4

Vixen or Victim 4

Ms Pegg strikes a pose

Ms Pegg strikes a pose

Mark & Caleb - "blue steel"

Mark & Caleb – “blue steel”

Team Snake

Team Snake

#tafe #filmnoir

Thrilled With APPA Results

I entered the Landscape category of the Australian Institute Professional Photography (AIPP) Australian Professional Print Awards (APPA). This annual event is the highlight of the AIPP calendar.  The judging of prints was held in Melbourne as part of the Digital Expo at the Melbourne exhibition centre. It was both nerve-wracking and exciting to sit in the audience and listen to a panel of five esteemed photographers discussing one of my prints – especially when one of the judges challenged the score!

Of the three prints I entered I received scores of 87, 81 & 78 which meant I qualified for a Silver Distinction Award and a Silver Award.

This is a link to one of my blog entries that describes the judging process “the judging process

The standard of the entries was very high and I feel extremely proud to achieve a great result!

Tony Hewitt won the Landscape category with a series of wonderful aerial abstracts, and won the overall Professional Photographer of the Year.

Info from the AIPP’s website can be found here

Silver Distinction - Misty Pines

Silver Distinction Award – Misty Pines


Silver -Gnarly Gum

Silver Award -Gnarly Gum


No Award - Tangled Mind

No Award – Tangled Mind

My print on display with other award winners

My print on display with other award winners

#aipp #appa #awards

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TAFE Cocteau Madness Assessment Task


Using the Phillipe Halsmann photograph of Jean Cocteau as a starting point I want your team to design, plan & co-ordinate a shoot and create ONE image for assessment. There are two aims here: to work effectively in a team as well as create an image that is “surreal” in nature. Also, the objective is to capture as much as possible in-camera with little or no post-editing.



Apple is taking over the world. It is so pervasive in its many devices. Apple is stopping us thinking. Everything is within instant reach. Calab is a perfect example of the “connected youth” of day. He regularly multi-tasks, often he is using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all whilst having a conversation.

Calab has been integrated into the iBM iThinkPad. He is part human, part cyborg. He plays with his iPuppy, whilst connected to an array of iPhones, iPads & iPods. He holds an iCream (complete with Apple logo).


Technical Details

It will be shot in an ultra-modern yet grungy style. A backdrop will suggest he is part of the iBerspace Data Cloud. To enhance the theme images of computer circuitry will be projected onto the backdrop. A smoke machine will further embellish the scene. Whilst the interaction of the projected images, studio lights and smoke is an unknown the in-camera effect is expected to be fabulous! An added bonus is that apart from all team members wearing black, the fog should help conceal our bodies and we will morph into Caleb’s central torso.



Whilst the brief only requires one final image, it is envisaged that several variations will be explored. From these a final presentation image will be chosen. We may find that there are too many competing elements that distract, rather than support telling the story. Also, experimentation with arranging the chosen props may be required to achieve a preferred composition.

Alternate expressions may include:

  • Endless stare, where his thoughts are completely engaged with the cloud
  • Laughter at his amusement of a joke a friend has just shared
  • Horror, as the power has just gone off & he is disconnected


Jean Cocteau Original

Jean Cocteau Original Photograph

Concept Sketch

Concept Sketch

Lighting Schematic

Lighting Schematic

Final Image

Final Image

Team Snake - Helen, Caleb, Mark & Peg

Team Snake – Helen, Caleb, Mark & Peg


Just for fun I also did a quick video (18sec) timelapse of setting up the studio


I hope you enjoy!

Joadja Club Trip

Last weekend the Southern Highlands Photographic Society (SHPS) held a club field trip to Joadja. This historic village is nestled in the Joadja valley some 28 km from Mittagong in the Southern Highlands.

This site is of cultural significance due to kerosene shale being discovered there in the mid 1800’s. At its peak some 1200 people lived and worked in the valley. It is hard now to imagine a huge industrial complex of mines, a bank of retorts and a refinery. The shale was “cooked” in banks of retorts to release kerosene oil. This oil was then refined into paraffin was, kerosene, grease and oils.

Life was tough and the community was by necessity mostly self-sufficient.

I have visited Joadja now 4 or 5 times and I still see images everywhere! It is not an easy place to capture successful images. There is so much photographic material there, but there are mostly remnants and overgrown ruins of the original operations. The challenge is I think to try to un-clutter the mess. Instead of shooting wide, try going in close and concentrate on details. That being said I have also shot a number of very wide panoramas that I am happy with!

The bright sun just adds to the challenging conditions, especially if the scene has a couple of “hotspots” that spoil the composition.

Joadja is privately run operation more information can be found from their website Joadja Town.


Family Tree

Family Tree

Hiku Rust

Haiku Rust

Retort Pastels

Retort Pastels

Indoor Garden

Indoor Garden

Whomping Willow

Whomping Willow

Blue Danube

Blue Danube

Global Warming

Global Warming

Grab the bull

Grab the bull



#joadja #southernhighlands #historic #landscape #abstract

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SlideShow 0.1 Photomedia – A Success!

I was invited to present at the inaugural Australian Institute of Photography’s SlideShow night. It was organised by Hamish Ta-mé. His idea is to connect artists from different disciplines whilst giving artists the opportunity to showcase their work. This is especially important in regional areas such as the Southern Highlands.

12 photographers presented a vast range of works. The presentation style was based on a slideshow series called Pecha Kucha. Basically it is a style that the presenter gets 10 minutes to present 20 images.

Rather than just discuss particular photographs as they appeared on-screen, my presentation was a technical discussion about panoramic images including various techniques and solutions to potential problems.

I think later I realised that every one of my images had received awards.

It was also an interesting history lesson as I presented my images in chronological order, so it was interesting to see changes in both my technique and style.

The night was great fun and it was a privilege to co-present with such a range of wonderful photographers.

Hamish has also compiled a 7 minute video of the presentations by clicking on this link


Philosophers Falls pano

Philosophers Falls – TAS

Icelandic Glacier Pano

Icelandic Glacier

Sunshine Camp Pano

Sunshine Camp – WA

Joadja Tree Pano

Joadja Tree – NSW

#panorama #southernhighlands #landscape

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2013 Epson International Pano Awards

I just received my results from my three entries to this years Epson International Pano Awards in the open section.

Silver: “A Bridge Too Far”

Bronze: “Oxers Lookout – Karijini NP”

Bronze: “Into Mordor”

600px is not really suitable for viewing these images. Oxers Lookout is a 3m wide print hanging in my gallery space and is just stunning!

Silver - "A Bridge Too Far"

Silver – “A Bridge Too Far”

Bronze - "Oxers Lookout - Karijini NP"

Bronze – “Oxers Lookout – Karijini NP”

Bronze - "Into Mordor"

Bronze – “Into Mordor”

Print Print

#Epson #Pano #awards

Penrose Yacht Club

When I first moved to the Southern Highlands I had heard stories about a steel-hulled yacht in Penrose State Forest. Until recently, I had long forgotten about it. I wanted to check the hashtag for SouthernHighlands and one of the images that popped up was a yacht in Penrose State Forest! I then commenced searching on-line for clues as to its possible location. Despite it being a geocache destination I could not find specific co-ordinates. However armed with a topographic map and cross-referencing various mentions on the web I thought I had narrowed down its location.

Inserting a way-point and a possible route into my GPS I set off with my daughter armed with our cameras to see if we could find it. Despite being reasonably confident that I was on the right track we arrived to an empty intersection. From published photos, this surely was the right place! We persevered up one trail and found two old wrecks. After a quick look we decided to continue our search. After back-tracking we continued down another track and how exciting it was to catch a glimpse of the yacht through the trees!

I am not sure the story behind why they yacht is in the forest in the first place. On the web there are various theories. Whatever the case, this is a large steel-hulled vessel that would require a significant amount of effort to get it there.

What is weird is that periodically it gets relocated!

If you can shed more light on this mystery I would love to hear from you.

Yacht Bow

Yacht Bow

Yacht Stern

Yacht Stern

Yacht Hull

Yacht Hull

Handrail Detail

Handrail Detail

Deck Detail

Deck Detail

Hull Graffiti One

Hull Graffiti One

Hull Graffiti Two

Hull Graffiti Two

Hull Graffiti Three

Hull Graffiti Three

#SouthernHighlands #Penrose  #Yacht

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