Sunrise at Montforts beach, water returning to the ocean strikes and wraps around a rock in the sand.
In mid July I tried something new. I arranged a photography excursion to the Pinnacles at Phillip Island and posted the idea on Facebook as a public event. By August 4th, the day of the excursion, there were 16 people confirmed as going and a few more “maybes”.
I had a realistic expectation that perhaps half of those who had confirmed would actually show up on the day. Imagine my surprise when all who had confirmed actually DID show up at the meeting place.
It was the start of a wonderful excursion with like-minded people, most of whom I had never actually met before and I only knew via Facebook.
We couldn’t have asked for a better day in the middle of a Melbourne winter. Both the weather and tides worked in our favour and all of the participants seemed to come away from the day pleased with the experience.
Following are snapshots of some of the participants enjoying the day at the Pinnacles beach. If you have a Facebook account you can view more images from the event here.
One doesn’t usually associate the word “spider” with art. In my case I seem to be blessed by the presence of a very artsy Orb-weaver spider.
Each evening during summer the spider constructs an elaborate web between the house and a large tree in the backyard.
In an effort to capture the frantic web building activity I took my LX3 out into the backyard to see what I could catch.
The Orb-weaver was lit from some distance away by one of the house security lights.
I set the LX3 to an aperture of f/2.0 @ISO800 due to the dim conditions and caught the following beautiful movements as the spider hurriedly moved around.
For those who might be curious and want to try this I shot these images in aperture priority mode. The camera selected a corresponding shutter speed of 1.3 seconds to suit my particular lighting conditions. The camera was also in “Dynamic B&W” mode.
Following are some images from The Pinnacles rock formation at Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island. We were hoping for some nice big waves but unfortunately the conditions conspired against us that day.
The images were created using HDR techniques to capture the full dynamic range of this very contrasty environment, i.e. 3 bracketed exposures at 0,-2 and +2 EV. I had an ND400 neutral density filter on the front of the lens to allow longer exposure times and give some sense of movement to the water and clouds.
Below – “Chasing Dinosaurs”
Below – “Waiting for the Swirl of White”
Below – “Sea Level”
Below – “Lost in the Moment”
Below – “The Risky Swim”
An interesting way to create a fun portrait is to place the subject in the same frame several times creating a “multiple portrait”. Viewers are often intrigued and amused by the resulting image.
I had the pleasure of creating a couple of multiple portraits over the weekend for some neighbours.
So how did I create this image I hear you ask?
The camera was mounted on a tripod to hold the camera completely still. This is important because the aim is to take several shots with no apparent movement of the background. This simplifies the editing process later.
The camera was set to manual mode and the shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings adjusted to give me a good exposure. It’s best to use manual mode because it locks in the exposure. If you use any other mode then there is a good chance that the camera will slightly adjust the exposure from one shot to the next as the subject is repositioned within the frame. This fluctuating exposure level between shots causes the apparent brightness of the background to change making the editing process more difficult later.
So in a nutshell, with all of the above considered, I took four shots with Chris relocating himself within the frame between each shot. Now for the editing ……….
When it comes to the editing I’m definitely no photoshop guru. There are different ways to achieve the desired result involving the use of layers and smoke ‘n mirrors, but this is what I do.
I simply open all four images in photoshop. I use the first image as the base image then simply use the lasso tool to roughly select and copy the subject from images 2,3 and 4 and paste them into the base image one at a time.
I always include some of the background within each lasso because this makes aligning the subject into the image very easy.
Cape Schanck is located at the southern tip of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
The beaches here offer a feast of opportunities for photographers. At the tip of the cape sits Pulpit Rock, a huge monolith standing proud amongst tidal rocky platforms.
At low tide the rocky platforms are exposed allowing fairly easy access to a large number of rock pools. These pools are home to a variety of sea creatures including small fish, crustaceans and octopuses. Depending on the time of year the pools can contain various forms of brightly coloured seaweed, providing wonderful hiding places for the rock pool residents. This is a great place to dunk your waterproof compact camera if you’re lucky enough to own one. Unfortunately I don’t own one (yet).
Below – Pebbles at the Pulpit
The beach leading out to Pulpit Rock is covered by rounded rocks that roll around and pound into each other with each wave creating an interesting sound that’s quite difficult to describe.
Below – Cape Schanck Lighthouse overlooking the west side of the cape.
Below – Cape Schanck East. The eastern side of the cape provides a rocky beach where there are lots of opportunities for the photographer who enjoys capturing waves crashing over and around rocks. I took quite a few long exposures here.
Below – The Schanck. The white surf and dark rocks contrast each other nicely and provide excellent material for making great black and white images.
One of my favorite spots for photogenic wave action along the Mornington Peninsula is Flinders.
West of the township the rugged coastline features extensive cliffs with access to the rocky beaches in only a few places.
The deliciously dark rocks here provide a wonderful contrast to the bright white surf as waves from Bass Strait relentlessly pound the beach.
On this occasion I visited the beach during the early afternoon so conditions were extremely bright and contrasty.
I used an ND400 filter, sometimes in combination with an additional ND8 filter, to darken the scene and enable the use of slow shutter speeds to blur the moving water.
It’s always fun and games being close to the edge in places like this. Despite keeping one eye on the camera and the other eye on incoming waves I was caught by surprise on a couple of occasions during the afternoon and drenched by rogue waves exploding on the rocks.
This is really quite an extraordinary spot from a photographer’s perspective. Not so special for the grand seascape but more for the myriad of recesses where the surf dynamically interacts with the rocks.
The construction of the controversial desalination plant near the mouth of the Powlett River has yielded a temporary point of interest for photographers.
A large platform has been placed offshore to assist with the construction of the required underwater pipeline.
Although not the most beautiful structure in the world, it acts as a nice point of interest for an otherwise potentially boring background.
I’m in no way a supporter of this project but I decided to take advantage of the platform while it’s there and took a series of images from the spot where the Powlett River meets the ocean.
The idea behind the images was to use the lines created by running water and rock edges to draw the viewer into the scene towards the platform in the background. The images were taken in bright mid afternoon light using strong ND filtering to enable the exposures to be long enough to blur the water.
Below – Platform One
Below – Platform Two
Below – Platform Three
Below – Mouth of the Powlett – Looking north-west across the mouth to the sand dunes, the waves crashing onto the rocks in the foreground just appear as mist due to the long exposure time.
Ricketts Point is a marine sanctuary located south east of Melbourne in Port Phillip Bay. When viewed from the land it’s an unremarkable looking series of sandstone rock platforms. Apparently under the waterline the platforms support a great diversity of flora and fauna.
When viewed from a land-based photographer’s perspective the area looks pretty ordinary during bright daylight hours.
Towards the evening the area becomes more attractive as it provides an unobstructed view of the setting sun and also provides some foreground interest in the form of waves swirling around rocks at the edge of the platforms.
This provides a good opportunity to catch some nice long exposure images.
Prior to the sun setting, the rocky platforms serve as a meeting place for several species of birds. Amongst them are a very tolerant group of pelicans. They don’t seem to mind people getting relatively close to them here which provides a nice opportunity for bird watchers and photographers.
My excursions are never entirely about the photography. Often they’re about the escape, ….often they’re about self exploration, …….every now and then they might even result in a nice photographic image. Well, nice to me anyhow.
On previous visits to Grantville I’ve tended to concentrate on trying to capture an inspiring image or two from the mangroves dotted along the coast here. The mangroves are a fairly easy target for photography purposes. At high tide it’s possible to visually isolate them between the water and the sky which works to simplify the image by excluding potentially distracting background elements. On calm days the water can also act as a fantastic mirror for capturing reflections, particularly when doing long exposures.
This particular visit to Grantville was all about capturing the pier though, so here it is.
In the black and white image above I’ve deliberately over exposed the image to blow out the sky and increase the contrast between the pier and the background. I personally like the contrasty result here, but I know this style of image is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Pictured below – “The First Days of Sun” which is available to purchase as a print here.
This image from the pier was created from 3 exposures using HDR tone mapping techniques to maintain details in both the bright sky and the dark shadows.
Pictured below – “The Promise of Warm Days” which is available to purchase as a print here.
Another 3 exposure HDR shot converted to black and white and processed with a bit of dodging and burning in Photoshop.
Now for some serious business. I’ve discovered that the cafe on the corner of the Bass Hwy and Grantville Glen Alvie Road in Grantville sells excellent homemade meat pies made with flaky puff pastry. The coffee is pretty good there too.
(Disclaimer – I have no connection with this cafe at all, I just enjoyed the pie so much I felt the need to share it with you.)
It seems to me that Cement Creek was dealt an injustice when it was first named.
Despite it’s odd name, it really is quite an attractive location and a fine example of lush Victorian forest.
Cement Creek in located at the foot of Mount Donna Buang, near the intersection of Donna Buang Rd and Acheron Way.
On this excursion we gained access to the creek by walking along raised platforms which got us most of the way, then we jumped the handrail into the forest to get to the flowing water. At this location you need to be prepared to get muddy and wet, so it’s advisable to keep a change of clothes in the boot of your car.
The main hazard here is the slippery moss covered rocks. A minor hazard is the hungry leeches.
The following images were experiments using HDR tone mapping techniques combined with the effects of long exposure times.
Each image was constructed from at least 3 separate exposures using in-camera auto exposure bracketing. In my case, being a Canon shooter, I used 3 exposures of -2,0 and +2 simply for convenience. I believe Nikon shooters have a bit more flexibility in this area.
The images were all taken during daylight hours so it was necessary to use some heavy ND filtering in order to increase the exposure times and achieve a nice misty look to the water. In my case I used an ND400 and an ND8 filter stacked together to achieve this.
With the camera set to aperture priority mode I adjusted the aperture and filter combination (sometimes removing the ND8) to achieve an exposure of 8 seconds. When the shutter button is depressed the camera would then give me 3 exposures at 8 seconds, 2 seconds and 30 seconds (which is close enough to 0,-2 and +2). My particular camera doesn’t let me expose for longer than 30 seconds unless I go to bulb mode and use a remote timer, so out of laziness I tend to limit many of my exposures to 30 seconds.
The exposures were then combined and tonemapped using HDR software and tweaked in Photoshop to achieve the end result.
Despite all of this sounding a bit technical it’s really quite simple and I encourage you to try it. The results are often very rewarding.
BELOW – Jurassic Afternoon – Sunlight and waves break through a slit in the prehistoric Pinnacles rock formation on Phillip Island.
BELOW – The Mist of St.Pauls – A long exposure at St. Pauls beach, Sorrento, Victoria, Australia.
BELOW – Prehistoria – An image from The Pinnacles, at Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia.
BELOW – Swimming with Dinosaurs – Down amongst the prehistoric Pinnacles rock formations at Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia.
Here are some more images taken at various places around Westernport Bay, Victoria, Australia.
It’s always a lot of fun shooting around here at low tide. The beaches feature a fine grain sticky mud that slowly tries to draw you beneath the surface. With each step that you take you risk losing your footwear.
Taking long exposures is certainly interesting as the tripod gradually sinks into the silt.
This is just the sort of place where you should take emergency pants in case you unexpectedly sit down in the mud.
The following image was taken at Crib Point beach.
This image Barnacle Build was shot at Balnarring beach.
The following image The Threat of Punishment was taken at Grantville beach. All of the ground in this shot is mud.
These images were taken on a recent dusk excursion to Koonya beach on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia.
Dusk is my favorite time of day for shooting, ……it’s certainly MUCH more user friendly than that other time of day, …….what do they call it, ….”dawn” or something like that.
A long exposure taken after sunset at Blairgowrie beach.
This photo is available to purchase as a print in various sizes and forms – here
Photo taken at the Oakridge winery, Yarra Valley, Australia.
This winery is well worth a visit.
This image is available to purchase as a print in many sizes and forms here
Two sample shots taken using the Canon 50mm F1.8 lens, also known as the “Canon Nifty Fifty”. This lens is cheap to buy and noisey to use, but it’s great fun to play with such a wide aperture.
Sunset at Sorrento beach.
Title – Diamond Night – is available to purchase as a print here
Title – The Diamond’s Call – is available to purchase as a print here
A trip to Point Nepean provided some interesting photo opportunities. It’s home to Fort Nepean, an abandoned military site overlooking the entrance to Port Phillip Bay. There is an atmosphere of cold and concrete wherever you go within the underground maze of tunnels, rooms and gun emplacements.
When you wander around outside there are polite signs warning of unexploded munitions encouraging you to stay on the defined pathways.
Title – Life during wartime.
Title – Death by Machine.
Title – Grind.
Images from the ANZAC ceremony in a small town in the Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia, 2008.
For overseas visitors who aren’t familiar with the ANZAC tradition have a look at this link, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ANZAC_Day