Thursday, 4 July 2019

6 Tips on how to make your clouds appear dramatic

Here's a link to a feature of mine just published on about how to make cloud shots appear more dramatic...

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Land Recovered afer 1,207 days

It might not seem much but, when the (residential building) site next to us was developed, the ensuing (massive) excavation deliberately over-stepped its mark by over a 1.5m along a 25 metre boundary on our land, as well as along two other sides of the site. The fourth side is the Parramatta River. One day our fence was there, the next day it was in a 3.5 metre hole in the ground. 

If we'd not had a 20 foot storage container temporarily sitting close to the edge of our property, I'm pretty sure we'd have lost more of our land but the bessa block wall went, along with a colorbond fence.

Over the next 3.5 years we couldn't find anyone who was willing to help with our situation. Everyone had an opinion, but it always came down to the fact that there was nothing we could do about it - other than perhaps to sue the owner. 

No one we spoke to was in a position to enforce the replacement of our land before the development was finished. Not the Mayor (who we baled up about this on two occasions), not the Council (Ryde), which was very apologetic (but had abrogated all responsibility to external Certifiers, and not the lawyer we eventually sought council from. No one was going to help us, so we had to wait till the owner/developer had finished excavating (this took more than a year), then built their basement, then the ground floor, so we could finally get our thin strip of land back. 

And now, finally, three-and-a-half years after the first excavator began ripping into our land, we can finish our landscaping, finish installing our backyard gates (which had been overlapped and duct-taped to a post to get them to fit the narrower strip of driveway), and not be reminded every time we look out of the back window, of how much power developers have over individual rights in this council area. 
If there's a planned development next to your home, watch out!

Friday, 21 June 2019

Transport Weekend in Sydney

Reflections of a diesel locomotive in the windows of a passenger carriage from the Transport Museum. Pic by Robin Nichols, HDR, Aurora.
Steamed up and ready to go.
An unusually atmospheric scene at Central. Once the train moved off on its run to Hurstville and back, the steam and smoke cleared leaving me wishing I'd known about this event before all the tickets were sold out!

Pic by Robin Nichols
Big boys' toys
Surely every small boy's dream is to drive a steam train. Or is that just me?
Enthusiastic helper chatting to the steam loco driver, platform 3, Central Station.

Pic by Robin Nichols
Steeply angled light picking up the rivets and the red feature line on this coal tender. Pic by Robin Nichols
Long lens shot of this wonderful steam engine restored by the team at the Transport Heritage Museum, NSW. (I think this is locomotive number 3001).Pic by Robin Nichols
Steam!Post-processed using Aurora HDR 2019
Pic by Natalie Hitchens
Beautifully restored name plate detail for locomotive 3526.Pic by Natalie Hitchens
Close up of a sleeping car (a carriage that you can sleep in, not one that's asleep...).
Post-processed using Aurora HDR 2019
Pic by Natalie Hitchens
Post-processed using Aurora HDR 2019Pic by Natalie Hitchens

This is reminiscent of so many train stations built on a curve in the line - although in Central, on a straight platform, there's still a gap!.Post-processed using Aurora HDR 2019Pic by Natalie Hitchens
Post-processed using Aurora HDR 2019Pic by Natalie Hitchens
Tricky lighting in Central station required triple exposures and post-processing in HDR software
Post-processed using Aurora HDR 2019. Pic by Natalie Hitchens
Woman dressed up in mourning clothes poses for cameras in front of locomotive 3526 standing alongside mortuary station.
Post-processed using Aurora HDR 2019Pic by Natalie Hitchens
This is a Leyland Titan double-decker bus, first operated in 1949, still running pretty smoothly.Post-processed using Aurora HDR 2019. Pic by Natalie Hitchens
Inside the Titan, the view from the top deck of this great old double-decker was terrific and brought back a lot of memories from when I used to travel to work on a type of similar bus from London's Kensington to the city (many years ago).
Post-processed using Aurora HDR 2019. Pic by Natalie Hitchens

Enthusiast train engineers having a chat.
Post-processed using Aurora HDR 2019.
Pic by Natalie Hitchens
Mortuary Station, displayed in all its Victorian glory, was open to the public over the heritage event weekend. Post-processed using Aurora HDR 2019. Pic by Natalie Hitchens

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Images from ANZAC Day, Queenstown, 2019

Pic by F&F
"It is fortuitous for we photographers that ANZAC Day will forever fall in autumn, as our "outings" to a chosen destination - only qualification is to have a dawn service - are guaranteed to include a good dose of autumnal colour.
Lake Hayes
Pic by F&F

iPhone strikes again
Pic by Alan Stern
Nugget Point
Pic by Sue Caldwell
Caitlins Sunrise
Pic by Sue Caldwell
Harry's Swing, Lake Hayes
Pic by Ian Caldwell
Historic bridge, Lower Shotover River
Pic by Ian Caldwell
Braiding on the Shotover River
Pic by Lucie Loane

Lake Hayes in the mist
Pic by Lucie Loane

Our Tree, Lake Hayes
Pic by Lucie Loane

Pic by Ian Caldwell

Wooden Bridge, Lower Shotover River (Built in 1871 - now restored)
Pic by F&F

View from Mt Difficulty Cellar Door
Pic by F&F

Shotover River with Coronet Peak (at left) and Brow Peak, at right
Pic by F&F

Overlooking Lake Wakatipu from above Queenstown
Pic by F&F

Lake Hayes takeoff?
Pic by Alan Stern

Pic by Alan Stern
ANZAC dawn service
Pic by F&F
Having started this tradition in 2012, this year we decided it was time to venture to the NZ part of ANZAC, Queenstown in particular. Basing our group of seven in accommodation on the hill above Lake Watatipu, we ventured in all directions - to Lake Hayes and Arrowtown, Glenorchy, Cardrona, Cromwell and Bannockburn. 
On ANZAC Day we all went to the dawn service which was particularly moving. Due to the recent horrific shooting in Christchurch, the authorities had decided to cancel the street march later in the day, so it is possible that the dawn service was better attended than in other years.

In any case, Fraser was the only one of us to make it forward to the front row to take some photos. We felt right at home when the singer sang the Australian anthem before singing the dual language versions of the New Zealand anthem.
Oh, and did I mention the excellent local food and wines?
In previous years we have been to Broken Hill (2012), Tumut (2013), Canowindra and Cowra (2014), and the Southern Highlands (2017). Fay and Fraser, Alan and Kerry, Ian and Sue, Lucie."

Monday, 27 May 2019

Vivid Sydney, from the deck of a cruise boat...

Vivid 2019
How do you record a boat trip experience on the night Vivid 2019 opened and still get interesting colourful images? As it happened it was very hard because pottering about in the harbour on a large boat was a bit like riding in a washing machine. On several occasions all the guests had to hang on for dear life as we bobbed and corkscrewed about in the washing machine. High ISO was the only way out of this mess. Unfortunately very high ISO. I was pretty happy with this HDR image, shot at ISO12,500. A bit soft, a bit grainy but somewhat better than the lousy results produced by my smartphone.
Zooming with the lens while moving on a boat is not the best recipe for success. What I did here was to take one zoomed shot that looked really dynamic in one half and was mostly black in the other then duplicated the layer, flipped it to give this mirrored effect - and finished it off by changing the Blend Mode from Normal to Difference (which highlights any tones that are not 100% on top of each other - because they were effectively reversed by the flipping action, it fills the entire frame with more colour. (Pic by natalie Hitchens).

A similar zoomed shot, flipped and with the Difference Blend Mode set on the top layer.
(Image by Natalie Hitchens
Another zoomed shot, flipped and with the Difference Blend Mode set on the top layer.
(Image by Natalie Hitchens
Taken before boarding the vessel with some light still illuminating the Sydney sky. 1/15s @ f2.8, ISO 3200
(Three bracketed frames processed using Aurora HDR Pro)
Another almost impossible shot to get because it was so dark and the luxurious motor cruiser was quickly throbbing into the gloom behind the Harbour Bridge.
1/50s @ f2.8, ISO 8000
Zoomed abstract detail of a tower block in Darling harbour
Panned shot of a small harbour boat passing our much larger harbour boat. Kinda tricky to get a good panning shot when both subject and the camera are moving at different speeds.
Another nice, zoomed shot.
Because zooming at night can basically fill the frame with a lot of black, as well as colour movement, I select and copy some of the better-looking 'zoomy' bits
and paste them back into the file to cover over the really dark areas, making sure that they line up with the original sections by adding a bit of transform.perspective distortion to give a near perfect zoomed effect.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Weird Japan - Fighting the Golden Week Crowds

Golden Week, at the end of April till the first weekend in May is a time when most Japanese get time off from work - so they all go travelling. Things get very, very crowded.
Smartphones and cameras as thick as the bamboo grove itself.
Even on a drizzly day, the World Heritage bamboo grove at Arashiyama teems with tourists at all hours of the day.

A family poses in a cut-out of a cartoon character at Himeji castle
Capturing the perfect wisteria snap is tricky because there are so many other keen photographers trying to do exactly the same. Uji near Kyoto
You literally have to stand five or six deep to get the best angle...
Modern Japanese poster seen in Kyoto
Natalie could not resist posing with whatever this is in Kenroko-en garden
Secret push button door bell at the main gate of Nijio Castle
Panorama of moving people never works!
Fuji (wisteria) fever at Nezu shrine, Tokyo