30 October 2013
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...
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...
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 and Weekly Top Shot
3 October 2013
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...
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...
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.
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
26 September 2013
A few days ago I visited Nudgee Beach, home to one of my favourite mangroves, for the first time in quite some time. I got up at 3.45am to be able to catch the sunrise behind the tree. Sadly, the sunrise was a little underwhelming as there were no clouds around -- something I should have expected, since we're in the middle of a heatwave and I haven't seen a cloud for days. However, the reflection of the tree was as gorgeous as ever...
The ripples in the sand make for good photos, too, albeit more so with my DSLR than with my phone camera as you really have to be able to set your depth of field to make this sort of photo work.
One of these days I hope to return to Nudgee when the tide is a little higher, so as to get a completely smooth watery surface, uninterrupted by sand and roots. It's hard to find the right time, though. Generally speaking, when the tide charts tell me that the water level is just right, I'm either busy or the weather is so unphotogenic that I can't be bothered driving all the way to the coast for a photo shoot. And when the water is just ever so slightly too high, I can't get to my tree without getting drenched and eaten alive by mosquitoes. It's a tricky business, getting the perfect sunrise shot in a tidal environment...
(For those of you who are wondering, the green tinge in these photos is due to Hipstamatic's John S lens, which gives images a noticeable green-and-blue cast. It doesn't work for all pictures, but I tend to like the effect in sunrise photos.)
Nudgee Beach, Australia, 2013
iPhone 4s + Hipstamatic
Top photo: John S lens + Robusta film
Bottom photos: John S lens + Ina's 1969 film
Linked to Skywatch Friday, Water World Wednesday and Weekend Reflections
One of my new year's resolutions for 2013 was to play around with Hipstamatic's many lenses and films, and over the last nine months, I've done just that, with some interesting results.
For those of you who don't know, Hipstamatic is a mobile-phone app that allows you to take square photos with lots of cool effects, which differ depending on what (virtual) lens and film you use. Hipstamatic differs from apps like Instagram in that you have to pick your filter before you take your photo, rather than afterwards. Once the shot has been taken, you can't change the filter; if you don't like the effect, you'll simply have to take the photo again using a different combination of lens and film. Most people (myself included) stick to combinations they know and trust, but for those who are a little more adventurous, there's a 'shake-to-randomise' feature which allows your phone to pick a random combination of lens, film and flash every time you shake it. I hardly ever use this feature because the results tend to be fairly hideous, but it's a good way to become acquainted with the various lenses and films...
Anyhow, like all experiments, my 2013 Hipstamatic experiments have yielded both pleasant and unpleasant surprises. I've discovered several combinations I'll avoid like the plague from now on because they come with ugly colour casts and too-strong light leaks that hurt my eyes. However, I've also discovered quite a few combinations I do like, both in black and white and in colour, and these are the combinations I expect to be using a lot over the next few years.
At the moment, my favourite black-and-white combinations are probably John S + D-Type Plate film, which results in strong, contrasty images which look like nineteenth-century tin-type photos, and John S + BlacKeys B+W, which heavily desaturates images but leaves just enough colour intact to give the resulting pictures some pizzazz. I'll post a bunch of photos taken with these two combinations later, in separate posts. For now, I'd like to focus on some other, more neutral black-and-white combinations...
All three of the above photos (taken in Cairns, Fraser Island and Cape Tribulation, respectively) were shot with the John S lens and AO BW film. As you can see, the resulting photos are fairly dark, with solid black shadows and relatively dark midtones. I adjusted the midtones somewhat in Photoshop to give the photos their current look, but the images remain quite dark, mostly due to the darkening effect of the John S lens. Used with almost any other lens, AO BW is a fairly neutral black-and-white film, I think.
The five images above depict the Maheno shipwreck, a glorious pile of corroded iron which has graced Fraser Island's famous Seventy-Five Mile Beach ever since 1935. The pictures were taken using the Wonder lens and AO BW film. Like the John S photos at the top of this post, they came out a little dark for my taste, so I had to adjust the levels in Photoshop somewhat, but that didn't diminish my appreciation for this combination. I'm fairly certain I'll be using Wonder + AO BW again at some point.
Finally, this is a picture of one of my favourite trees, a lone mangrove at Nudgee Beach, taken just before sunrise yesterday. I used the Lucifer VI lens and BlacKeys Supergrain film. While I like the photo itself (trees and reflections -- two of my favourite things!), I'm not crazy about the combination of lens and film, which seems to result in somewhat drab and lifeless images, especially when used in low light. Maybe a flash or gel (say, DreamPop) could have added a little oomph to this shot. I may try that one day when I'm in a mood to play around with Hipstamatic's hitherto largely unexplored flashes...
Queensland, Australia, 2013
iPhone 4s + Hipstamatic
Cross-posted to The Weekend in Black and White
19 June 2013
A little while ago I went on an overnight photo excursion to Beachmere, a tiny coastal community some sixty kilometres north of Brisbane. I'd seen pictures of the highly photogenic mangroves there and just knew I had to take some sunrise photos there, so one afternoon I drove to Beachmere, went on a scouting trip in the mudflats, found the trees I was looking for (just before it went dark -- phew!) and checked into a motel. The next morning I got up very early to get my sunrise pictures. Sadly, the water wasn't as high as I'd hoped, which meant that opportunities for long-exposure photography were a bit underwhelming. On the plus side, the sunrise was quite nice, so I did leave the place with some beautiful shots.
I'll be back some other time when the water is a bit higher for those long exposures..
Once the sun was well and truly up, my eye was caught by some interesting shadows on the mud...
... as well as some stunning reflections in the water.
I can't wait to go back...
Beachmere, Queensland, Australia, 2013
Nikon D300 + Sigma 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5 + Manfrotto tripod
Linked to Skywatch Friday, Photo Friday and Weekend Reflections
30 May 2013
Good heavens, it's been a while since I last posted anything here! I promise it won't be as long until my next post. In fact, I suspect I'll be posting rather a lot over the next few weeks, as I've just been on a holiday and have some lovely pics to share...
The pictures below were taken at Cow Bay Beach in far north Queensland, where I just spent a couple of days with my parents and brother, who were over from Europe to come and visit me in Australia. It's a gorgeous little beach, and I was lucky to be able to shoot this gorgeous sunrise there.
Apart from straightening the horizons, removing the borders and adding a watermark, I did not edit these photos in any way. I considered removing the sun flares from the second and third photos, but decided against it as I actually rather like them. I didn't do anything to change the colours, either; the funky colours are due to shooting with the John S camera, which gives photos a lovely green hue.
And just half a minute later, it looked like this...
And then the sun disappeared behind a huge cloud, not to be seen again for several hours...
Cow Bay Beach, Queensland, Australia, 2013
iPhone 4s + Hipstamatic (John S + Pistil)
Linked to Skywatch Friday
Long exposures of the same sunrise taken with my regular camera will follow later...
18 January 2013
I thought I'd try my hand at a black-and-white version of the leaves photo I posted the other day. I rather like the result myself...
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 2013
Nikon D300 + Sigma 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5
Cross-posted to The Weekend in Black and White and Catching the Light
15 January 2013
My lace umbrella on Deadman's Beach, Stradbroke Island. It's been nearly a year since I took this photo, and the umbrella still smells of sun, sea and sand...
As peaceful as the photo may look, its taking was anything but. Just seconds after I'd pressed the shutter, a gale blew the umbrella across the beach, very nearly into the surf. I had to run very hard to retrieve it and may or may not have let out a few shrieks of anguish in the process. I'm sure I made quite a spectacle of myself on the beach that day!
Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia, 2012
Holga 120 CFN + cross-processed Fuji Provia 100F
Linked to 52 Photos Project and Weekly Top Shot