Saturday, 27 July 2019

Sydney's Living Museums: Meroogal, Nowra

"Handed down through four generations of women from one local family, Meroogal tells a multitude of stories about the ‘Roogal’ women and the south-coast community in which they lived".
It's an easy two-hour drive south of Sydney and provides an interesting record of life as it was in Nowra, around 1885...

The drawing roomThis is the official room in which non-family guests were 'received. What's amazing about this, and many of the other properties managed by Sydney Living Museums, is that the house is packed with original furniture, original bric-a-brac and countless mementos either passed down thru the generations or donated by members of the family to the house. This gives the visitor a really good idea of what life around 1885 might have been like.
Because the house is both small and shaded - by a beautiful jacaranda on the street and by curtains and blinds inside, you really have to select a high ISO in order to achieve a good hand holding shutter speed. All the shots here were created from hand-held bracketed exposures and post-processed using Aurora HDR PRO 2019.

The laundry - pretty much untouched for decades apart from an electric washing machine left from the sixties (I think)...
One of the upstairs bedrooms - full of furniture!
Tryptich of features seen at Meroogal House, Nowra
The old water pump (still works!), drawing room and an old phone on its little seat!

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Sydney's Living Museums: Elizabeth Bay House

The interior view we all remember from a visit to Elizabeth Bay House. If you haven't been, it's only $12. The oval entrance hall and landing leading to the upper levels is spectacular and really demands the use of a super-wide angle lens which I didn't have on the day. All we took on this visit were 24-105mm lenses, which was OK, but next time I shall take an even wider angle lens (14mm fisheye) to capture more of its architectural glory.
(HDR pic by Natalie Hitchens).
Victorians liked to keep out of the bright light and sunshine which is why the windows in this room, and throughout Vaucluse House, are so heavily shaded with shutters, curtains and drapes.
(HDR pic by Natalie Hitchens).
Copper-bottomed pans like these hanging in the kitchens might be trendy today but back then it would have been a full time job to just keep them clean.
No dishwashers, detergents or scourers, just a lot of staff!
A wide open aperture (f4) was used to highlight the base of the shiniest pan in the upper foreground while effectively softening the rest of the clutter in the distance...
Another high dynamic range shot (i.e. three bracketed frames put together using Aurora HDR Pro 2019) taken in one of the reception rooms at the front of the house.
A different take on the breakfast room scene (another one is at the top of the post) using the same HDR shooting and post-processing technique. Doing this allows you to record more of the exterior tone without losing any of the far darker details in the interior. You really need a tripod to get this to work perfectly (to prevent movement (and therefore 'ghosting') between each shot but since using one here is strictly off-limits, I had to make do with leaning onto the door frame to gain a bit of stability - this I think gives between one and maybe two additional stops of sharpness (i.e. though the exposure might be 1/4s, it looks as though it was 1/15s or faster).
Another view of the staircase landing and cupola, looking more or less directly upwards using my Canon EF 24-105mm L lens, while trying to be as symmetrical as possible (with a little help in post-production).
Down in the basement of Elizabeth Bay House.
The basement covers a wide area under the main building and would have been a perfect place for storing food in the heat of the summer.
Again this is a three-frame HDR exposure (in Aperture Priority Mode), very necessary to capture some of the details in the very bright stairwell leading up to the ground level as well as the darkness in the basement itself.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Sydney's Living Museums: Rose Seidler House

Designed and built by architect Harry Seidler for his mum, Rose Seidler, in 1950, Rose Seidler House today stands as a monument mid 20th-century modern domestic architecture in Australia and is now owned by Sydney's Living Museums. It's not big, it's not as cluttered as many of the other houses managed by Sydney Living Museums and it only takes 15-20 mins to get round but it's so iconic, its bush setting and classic lines I think make this a must-see house...

The long pedestrian ramp running up to the outside patio is a signature feature of Rose Seidler House. I believe this originally led to the swimming pool, now filled in.
The patio features a renovated modernist mural that's eye-catching and nicely offset with the classic sun chairs

Under the slab you'll find a small studio (at left) and at right a clear view to the bush that surrounds the property. Seidler built two other houses for family members in the same location (just visible through the trees) which are not open to the public.

Rose Seidler House
The kitchen is fantastic - a bit small perhaps by current trends, but its coloured sliding glass-fronted cabinets and stainless steel bench tops are surprisingly contemporary today.
Classic sitting room design - glass-fronted cabinets, incorporating a stereogram, loud colours combined with a design simplicity that's a signature of this property.
What I also really appreciate about all of the Sydney Living Museum properties we visited in June is the dedication that its volunteers and guides bring to the experience. Their local knowledge brings an added dimension to the experience for the visitor.
(All images by Natalie Hitchens).

Monday, 22 July 2019

Sydney's Living Museums: Vaucluse House

Sydney's Living Museums encompasses 12 properties, most of which are in Sydney, with a couple further afield. A single entrance costs $12 which is great value but you can also buy a pass to visit all the properties for just $25 - the pass lasts for a month. It's terrific value if you have a few weekends free. Most of the images here have been processed with the help of Aurora HDR software.This is the wonderful drawing room at Vaucluse House in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.

Beautifully restored bedroom at Vaucluse House

Close up details, Vaucluse House

The wine cellar, Vaucluse House
(Repro) Maids smocks
Vaucluse House

Pic by Natalie Hitchens

Covered walkway between kitchen and rest of the house, Vaucluse
Pic by Natalie Hitchens
Letter and board games
Pic by Natalie Hitchens
Pic by Natalie Hitchens

Corner of the verandah
Pic by Natalie Hitchens
Original music score, Vaucluse House
Pic by Natalie Hitchens

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...