27 January 2014

Travel Tuesday: Ishak Pasha Palace, Turkey

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When I first envisaged this blog, it wasn't as a site dedicated merely to long-exposure experiments and my undying love of trees. I very much intended for this to be a travel blog. I came up with the idea of having a Travel Tuesday post once a week where I'd dig into my archives and share photos of long-ago exotic journeys with you. I even drew up a list of all the places I'd cover in these Travel Tuesday posts, and in which order. I still have that list somewhere. Somehow, though, my plans for a travel blog fell by the wayside, and Behind the Lens gradually turned into a showcase for very Australian trees in very Australian coastal waters, all within fifty kilometres of where I live.

Well, I'm going to change that. Of course, I'm not going to stop posting long exposures of trees in water. I love those. However, I'm promising myself (and you!) that this blog will become a little more internationally oriented from now on, and that my range of subjects will become a little broader. I doubt I'll do a Travel Tuesday post every week, as I originally intended, but I promise you there will be frequent mementoes of my peregrine past.

Such as this.

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This is the Ishak Pasha Palace in Dogubeyazit, eastern Turkey, not far from the border with Iran. It was built on a hilltop overlooking a valley in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and is a rare example of an Ottoman-era palace. There aren't many of those left in Turkey. (Mosques, yes. Palaces, no.) It's a popular stop for tourists travelling the east of Turkey, and it's easy to see why; it's a pretty majestic place in a fairly spectacular setting.

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I visited the Ishak Pasha Palace in the autumn of 2006, with my cousin K, who is one of the best travel partners I've ever had. It was her photos of this palace, taken with a wide-angle lens, which convinced me that I needed a wide-angle lens myself. Frankly, her photos of the Ishak Pasha Palace are better than mine (they show the actual complex rather than just small parts of it), but I'm going to share mine with you, anyway...

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I wanted a photo of the old lady because her clothes matched wonderfully with her surroundings (and also because she was, well, a memorable presence). Sadly, she only wanted to pose for me if her daughter was allowed to sit next to her. The daughter kind of messed up my composition and colour scheme, but hey, I got a nice Turkish family snapshot out of it...

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Sadly, the palace is an empty shell these days. All the furnishing were taken out ages ago, which makes it hard for visitors to understand what kind of lives the inhabitants must have led. It's still an impressive place to visit, though.

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I've added yellow and red textures to all these images (all set to Overlay), so if they seem a little painting-like and strangely hued to you, that's why. I love playing with textures...

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Dogubeyazit, Turkey, 2006
Olympus OM-10 + Fuji Velvia 100

I'm sharing this post with Our World Tuesday and Texture Tuesday

8 January 2014

Stradbroke Island Revisited: Playing with Textures and Toning Curves

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It's been a while since I last played with texture layers and toning curves. I thought I'd have another go at it, and this is what I came up with -- five photos of a tree I photographed at Stradbroke Island last November.

I actually discovered this tree on a previous trip to Stradbroke. I walked past it on a long beach walk one day and immediately recognised its photographic potential, but somehow I was never in the right spot at the right time to get a good picture of it. I always chose to do my sunrise and sunset photography elsewhere. This time round, though, I stayed at a different place on the island, much closer to the tree, and I made sure to visit the tree both at sunset and at sunrise. Unfortunately, the sky left a little to be desired on both occasions (it was a dreary, overcast and rainy weekend), but the silhouette of the tree and the silky-looking water in the background somewhat made up for the lack of spectacular colours in the sky...

The above photo shows the tree just after sunset. Yep, that's the moon you see in the top right-hand corner, bathing the beach and the water in an eerie glow...

The three photos below were taken at sunrise the next morning. They're all colour photos which I converted to black and white before adding two texture layers (one blue, one brown) at Overlay, as well as a Butzi toning curve. I rather like the effect myself. Clearly, monochrome plus coloured texture layers is a combination that works!

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One photo, two treatments...

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The photo below is an unconverted colour photo with two texture layers. As you can tell, the sunrise wasn't too spectacular that morning.

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I wonder if this tree will still be there the next time I go to Stradbroke. They've had some pretty hefty bush fires there this week, and from what I've heard, some 60 to 70 per cent of the island has been affected. I've seen some unbelievable smoke clouds rise from the island. Here's hoping my favourite trees (including this one) will survive the fires...

Point Lookout, Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia, 2013
Nikon D300 + Sigma 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5 + Hoya ND400 filter + Manfrotto tripod

Linked to Skywatch Friday, Kim Klassen's Texture Tuesday and Sweet Shot Tuesday

26 December 2013

Variations on a Theme: Cradle Mountain

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I thought I'd post some non-tree photos for a change...

In January 2012 I visited Tasmania with a friend from Europe. It was my second trip to the island (the first being in 2007), and I ended up visiting nearly the same places as on my first trip, because said places had impressed me enough the first time round that I didn't mind seeing them again. I wouldn't be surprised if there were to be a third time, as well, some day. I love Tasmania that much.

One of the highlights of both trips was my visit to Cradle Mountain National Park, which is located smack bang in the middle of the island. The mountain itself, with its iconic shape, is gorgeous, and you can see it from all angles, as there are walking trails all around it. To make things even better, there are several lakes and tarns dotted around the foot of the mountain. The lake you can see in these images is Dove Lake, the largest body of water in the national park. Other scenic lakes in the area include Lake Lila and Wombat Lake, of which I posted a few photos last year. As you can see, it's a pretty photogenic place, and quite varied, too -- these images barely scratch the surface of what it's like to walk around in the park.

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I loved this little tree in front of the mountain...

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... and this other little tree near Lake Lila...

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... and the rocks and the reflections of the clouds in the water...

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Cradle Mountain National Park, Tasmania, Australia, 2012
Nikon D300 + Sigma 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5

Linked to Skywatch Friday, Weekend Reflections and Our World Tuesday

Since this will probably be my last post of the year, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful New Year. I hope to see you around in 2014!

19 December 2013

Sunset at Amity Point, Stradbroke Island

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I hate it when you drive a long way to the coast to photograph a sunrise or sunset, only to be greeted by a completely bland and unphotogenic sky. This has happened to me on quite a few occasions, and it never fails to disappoint me.

Every now and then, though, I'll be treated to a sunset that's worth the long drive. Such as this one.

These images were taken on Stradbroke Island back in February. I was staying at Point Lookout, on the north-eastern tip of the island, but was keen to drive to Amity Point, on the north-western tip of the island, because, being on the western side of the island, Amity is one of the few places on the Australian East Coast where you can watch the sun set (rather than rise) over the water. As it happened, I had obtained my driving licence just a couple of days earlier, so my then partner, who until then had been my somewhat reluctant driver on many of my photo excursions, told me to get into our car and drive to Amity on my own. This was the first time I ever did any driving on my own, and I made a few embarrassing mistakes along the way, but I made it to Amity Point in one piece, only to be greeted by this sunset. It was a good thing nobody was standing next to me as I took these photos, as I'm sure I made a ton of utterly ridiculous happy noises.

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If I have one regret about this series, it is that the water was so low at the time. If the water had been slightly higher, I could have focused more on the bottom of the pylons and their reflections. Alas, the tide was out. Maybe next time...

Amity Point, Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia, 2013
Nikon D300 + Sigma 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5 + Hoya ND400 filter + Manfrotto tripod

Linked to Skywatch Friday and Orange You Glad It's Friday

11 December 2013

A Few Last Beachmere Shots... Seen Through the Hipstamatic Lens

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A while ago I posted the long exposures I took at the ever-so-photogenic mangroves of Beachmere. Today I'd like to share the iPhone shots I took on that same excursion, in between the long exposures. Not being long exposures, these images lack the ethereal beauty of the previous batch of photos. They do, however, show off the scene as it was. It wasn't a bad view...

This was just before sunrise, when a vague pink glow lit up the sky...

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Then the sun suddenly rose behind the trees, surprisingly rapidly, and I couldn't run fast enough to capture all the different compositions that presented themselves to me...

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The Hipstamatic combination I used for this set was Americana + Blanko C16. Blanko C16 is a fairly neutral film. However, the Americana lens gives images a mild turquoise cast, while also adding random blurry patches to the corners. I don't overly care for the smudges (they actually ruined one of my photos, which I won't share here), but I rather like the turquoise cast, which works well for seascapes and silhouettes.

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Anyhow, that's enough of Beachmere for now. I promise my next post will not contain any images of trees in water!

Beachmere, Queensland, Australia, 2013
iPhone 4s + Hipstamatic (Americana + Blanko C16)

Shared with Skywatch Friday and Weekend Reflections

30 October 2013

Beachmere Long Exposures

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Last June I posted what I consider to be one of my most beautiful photo sets to date: a series of images of the mangroves at the seaside resort of Beachmere, taken at dawn. My only regret at the time was that the water was quite low when I took those photos. While I loved the ripples in the sand that appeared when the tide receded, I'd made the trek to Beachmere specifically to take long exposures of trees surrounded by water, and I didn't get them because there wasn't enough water around. It was a bit of a miscalculation on my part, and I always meant to return to the place at some point to rectify the mistake.

A few weeks ago I finally got the opportunity to have a second go at those long exposures. One Sunday morning when I really should have been sleeping in, I got up at 2.45am to photograph the sunrise at Beachmere during a reasonably high 1.6-metre tide. I fully expected to have to wade waist-deep in the water to get my shots, but as it happened, the water was only knee-deep near the mangroves. High enough for some lovely long exposures, but not high enough to hide all the roots and ripples in the sand for the entire duration of my stay. Clearly I'll have to go back some other day when the tide is even higher (say, 2.2 metres)...

Anyhow. This is how my early start was rewarded...

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I took even better photos than these -- strong compositions of lone or paired trees, silhouetted against the sun. Sadly, these shots came out rather overexposed, to the point where the sun and the reflections of the light on the water are completely burned out. I think the images are salvageable, but it will take considerable Photoshop trickery. I'll post them once I'm done playing around with them...

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Note that the water is a lot lower in these post-sunrise shots than in the sunrise ones. It's amazing what a difference half an hour can make in a tidal environment.

Beachmere, Queensland, Australia, 2013
Nikon D300 + Sigma 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5 + Hoya ND400 filter + Manfrotto tripod

Linked to Skywatch Friday, Weekend Reflections, Weekly Top Shot and Friday Finds

3 October 2013

Stradbroke Island in Black and White... Sort Of

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I promised you all a few more Hipstamatic monochrome experiments a couple of posts ago, so here are a few experimental shots taken a while ago...

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This set was shot on Stradbroke Island last February. The two photos above were taken on a beach near Point Lookout, where I was staying. There are some great beaches there, as well as some lovely resorts which serve freshly caught seafood. If you're lucky, you can spot dolphins and whales from the shore, although I didn't spot any on this trip.

The remaining photos were all taken at Amity Point on the northern tip of the island. Amity Point isn't a good place to swim as there are rather a lot of hungry sharks around, but it is a great place for jetty photos in that it faces west and so is one of the few places on the Australian east coast where you can take pictures of the sun setting over the ocean. Needless to say, I thought this was worth a bit of a detour when I visited Stradbroke last February.

I took some long exposures with my DSLR which I'll post later. For now, here are a few more Hipstamatic shots...

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This time round, the Hipstamatic combination I used was John S + BlacKeys B+W. John S is a darkening lens whose effect can be clearly discerned in the high-contrast darkness of these images. BlacKeys B+W is a digital film which turns your pictures into black and whites while allowing some traces of colour to shine through. It also adds a thick white border with a date stamp set to twenty years earlier. I rather like the effect myself, so I can definitely see myself using this combination more often.

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Amity Point, Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia, 2013
iPhone 4s + Hipstamatic (John S + BlacKeys B+W)

Cross-posted to Skywatch Friday, PhotoArt Friday and Weekend Reflections