Monochrome Madness 2-26 – Urban

For this week’s Monochrome Madness by Leanne Cole, we have a theme; Urban….I took this a little further to Urban Decay. A few weeks ago, I did a similar post on some Urban Exploration I had done. It was something I really enjoyed, the gritty, rawness of the imagery. So this week I thought I would take it a step further into Urban Decay on another level. Grungier, darker, grittier, but a ray of light, a touch of humanity or is it the light at the end of the tunnel?





Wow, halfway mark! I thought I would celebrate this milestone with a gallery of the last 25 images for Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness

Til next time, happy snapping

– Julz

Manic Mondays

Can’t believe it’s already been a week I’ve been back. Slowly getting back into the swing of things, however I managed to hurt my knee worse than originally thought, MRI Confirmed a torn meniscus (again – this time right knee), so I’m off to the Orthopaedic Surgeon, again, let’s see if it needs surgery 😦

So crawling around on the floor with newborns and little kids is currently out of the question, winging it at the moment. For something completely different I went with my Niece to a Victoriana Garden Party art exhibit on the weekend. Strange, but compelling in a truly great locale, The Conservatory at Fitzroy Gardens; more on this later.

DSC_3434-EditI am still waiting on approval for my Images from NT to write some more posts on our trip, hopefully it wont be too much longer. In the meanwhile I have a few posts on more desert blooms, some artsy images and some desert birds as well. Don’t forget September’s One Photo Focus!

CAASTRO – I wrote a review post last week about the Astronomy Weekend, it was nice to get a response from CAASTRO, stating that they have taken some of these points on board for next year and to thank me for my overview and feedback. I must say it is nice to be appreciated and it’s nice to know that people DO read your feedback. Well done CAASTRO – Bravo!

Now that the weather is on the improve (I hope), I want to be getting back out and about again (as long as my knee holds up), lots of places to visit locally. I have some photographic group outings booked as well as normal shoots. Well that’s it for now, I will leave you with a few images from this week’s posts…….just a taste lol

Have a great week


And now for something completely different………

A few weeks back, I was approached by a Professor from Melbourne University in regards to a ARC (Australian Research Council)Discovery Project based on Artworks and History in and around Melbourne, in particular the leading lights of Melbourne. They asked if they could use my images in their application which is a joint project between ARC, Deakin and Melbourne Universities on various areas in and around Melbourne. The idea is to show an image as an example of professional photographic work featuring the lights within the digital content for the area, plus my comment on what inspired me to take the photo.

The aim is for people to be able to view a range of records about different themes associated with the lights (in this case) that will let them see heritage images, photos/artworks (like mine), and other text and media to better understand the lights as a historic place and icon of the area.

I thought it sounded exciting and interesting and I said that I would be happy to offer assistance and images, among other images chosen they particularly wanted this one I took earlier in the year and posted on my Lighthouse series. And of course I get full credit for my image and a small comment about it.

Beacon Cove-4-2Will bring you up to date as it gets closer, but it was too exciting I could not keep quiet any longer. It will not make me rich, but I will leave my mark on that little piece of Australian/ Melbourne history. I guess that means I will live forever?! (well until the app is out of date and no longer working lol).

Til next time, happy snapping


PHOTOREHAB COVER MAKEOVER 9 – George Orwell’s 1984

PhotoRehab Cover Makeover for this week is George Orwell’s classic Novel ‘1984’.

” In George Orwell’s 1984, Winston Smith wrestles with oppression in Oceania, a place where the Party scrutinizes human actions with ever-watchful Big Brother. Defying a ban on individuality, Winston dares to express his thoughts in a diary and pursues a relationship with Julia. These criminal deeds bring Winston into the eye of the opposition, who then must reform the nonconformist. George Orwell’s 1984 introduced the watchwords for life without freedom: BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU.”

I have to agree with Desley this cover calls for something dark, grungy and warehouse like. Just some simple poster filter, a color overlay and some text, all in Photoshop



Friday Flowers – Desert Blooms

One of the many fascinating facets of the Australian Outback is the desert blooms, even in winter they are many and varied and full of color. To be honest I am not sure of the names for many of them, but there were Callistamon (Bottle brush), Grevillia, Gum nuts and blossoms, Wattle, Bush Orchids, among many others to numerous to name. My very favorite was a single bloom, found in a crack in the concrete, almost like a weed, it is fairly rare, even by NT standards these days;

Sturts Desert Pea,

DSC_4566-EditSwainsona formosa, Sturt’s Desert Pea, is an Australian plant in the genus Swainsona, named after English botanist Isaac Swainson, famous for its distinctive blood-red leaf-like flowers, each with a bulbous black centre, or “boss”. It is one of Australia’s best known wildflowers. It is native to the arid regions of central and north-western Australia, and its range extends into all mainland Australian states with the exception of Victoria.


In springtime, especially in Western Australia, the desert comes to live with miles and miles of bright spring flowers, it is a riot of color.


Tech Talk – Night Shoots Pt 2 (How to Astro Shoot – my way)

Location, Location, Location….

There are a lot of ways to shoot the night sky, and sure the location is the biggest thing to tick off, the further away from city lights and light pollution is a must. I was spoiled at Ayers Rock recently for clear skies, no moon and no clouds. No light or air pollution at all. So once you have established a location, ask yourself if there is any thing or feature to add to the image, dead trees, live trees, buildings, old cars etc etc. Make sure there is no moon (unless you are trying to shoot the moon). Get yourself an App like StarTracker for Android to see the night sky and position of various elements like the Milky Way.DSC_3299

I managed to catch a shooting light trail; a plane, space junk or a star?

Rug up……

Make sure you wear suitable clothing, winter time is usually the best time for photos, as the skies are usually clearer, but of course that usually means it gets very cold. Warm jackets, gloves, woollen beanies or hats, scarves and thick warm socks are a must. Make sure you wear good sturdy shoes as you maybe walking over rough terrain in the dark.

Get the right Gear….

A good head lamp is a must, a torch is OK, however juggling tripod, camera, gear, backpacks etc and a torch is tricky, I’ve done it before. A good head lamp that can dim as well as be red and has an emergency beacon is a good idea too. In saying that, don’t dump the torch completely they can be great for lighting up subjects in the fore ground; trees, buildings, cars etc.

Next is tripod, you just can’t shoot without a tripod, there is no way you can hand hold a camera steady for 20 – 25 seconds. You can use tables, rocks the ground or various other things, but you can’t beat a tripod. We have a really cool Manfrotto 190L which you can extend and pull out the centre pole and lay it back horizontally so you can shoot the camera directly up at the sky.

A remote (I have a basic corded remote, there are some fancy ones out there with timers and are wireless etc, I now think I want one of these!). Of course the camera is kind of important too.

Now with the camera, it needs a manual mode, preferably with a bulb mode, if your camera has Noise Reduction, or long exposure NR turn this on, it makes a huge difference to post production. I have seen people attempt night shoots with smart phone, sorry folks it just isn’t going to cut it!

The Shoot….

Wait until at least 2-3 hours after sunset to avoid the after glow (Unless you like and want the red/orange glow in the foreground or bottom of the image – it can be really cool too). Pick your spot and try a few 10 send shots as a test. Once you are happy with the composition, you can finish setting up. Run f-stop as large (smaller the number the larger the aperture) as you can, say f/2.8 – 3.5, then set your ISO…depending on how dark,  perhaps 3200 or 6400. If you camera has night shoot Hi3 or Hi5 you can try these as well (these require shorter exposure time, say 10 seconds). Set you focus to infinity and try a couple of test shots again. Patience is key. Don’t shoot any longer than 20 – 25 seconds or you will get movement of the stars, mostly blurred. Star trails on the other hand are different again, but I won’t go into it in this post.
DSC_4110If you have a secondary subject in your shot, try illumination with a low wattage torch, just for a split second… It’s amazing what a difference it can make. Even try different colors…..see my post on light painting.

Post Production…

Now once taken, you can import images into Photoshop or Lightroom (Or any other program of your choosing), and you can adjust exposure, increase luminosity, adjust blacks as required. One of my cameras is often a little too red, so I drop the amount of red…..all until I am happy with the result. These are single shots SOOC (Straight out of Camera), I don’t stack my images,  I don’t blend my images, just good images.

Some feel you should use a grey card and a white card, but I have never done it, to be honest I keep forgetting. Other’s also feel that it is necessary to stack shots, but I have honestly never felt the need, a really good exposure and composition and the sky will speak for itself in the right conditions.

That’s it…..the sky is the star, dead trees etc. can add character, but it’s all in the set-up. So go out there and have some fun, don’t be afraid to experiment.
– Julz

King’s Canyon, NT – Outback Australia

This was actually our last full day in the Center, so I am kind of working backwards. We were picked up in the middle of the night, 4:30 am, for the 4 hour drive out to Kings Canyon, which is part of the Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory. Sitting at the western end of the George Gill Range, it is 323 km south west of Alice Springs and 1,316 km south of Darwin. The walls of Kings Canyon are over 100 meters high, with Kings Creek at the bottom. The first European to see Kings Canyon was Ernest Giles during his 1872 expedition to the North of Australia.

Typically, the most amazing sunrise we had seen to date happened that morning, as we were traversing the landscape in a luxury coach, which was not stopping for photographs, we could only look out the window and enjoy the sights for ourselves.

Sun dappled shade is nice even in winter

Sun dappled shade is nice even in winter

When we finally did arrived, there were two walks we could do, (There are actually three walks at Kings Canyon, but we did not get given the third option). The two km (return), one hour Kings Creek Walk, which follows the bottom of the gorge to a viewing platform, with views of the canyon walls above, and then retraced our steps back again, this is the walk which Moth and I did.  The six km (loop) Kings Canyon Rim Walk traces the top of the canyon and takes three to four hours to complete. A steep climb at the beginning of the walk, which locals call “Heartbreak Hill” (or “Heart Attack Hill”, due to its steepness), takes visitors up to the top, with spectacular views of the gorge below and of the surrounding landscape. This walk looked beyond our fitness level, I had been pre warned by on-line friends and travelers, that it is a walk from hell!


The easier creek walk was stunning with majestic ghost gum tress shading the valley floor from the harsh sun beating done from above. Unfortunately the creek was bone dry, it must be truly stunning when running. Surrounded on all sides by beautiful rock walls, with native birds flying, swooping and calling to us from every angle, but rarely seen. It was a leisurely walk (unlike the Rim Walk) and we returned back to the bus and Kings Creek Resort (A pub and camping ground really) with enough time for a Helicopter flight over the Canyon.

Yes you heard me correctly, I got up in a helicopter, Moth could not believe it either! I was beyond scared and at the end had difficulty letting got of the grab handles which I had been holding so tight the whole flight, and had to be helped off the helicopter! But it was amazing and I have video footage, shame about the window reflection, however if the door or window had been removed, I may not have gotten in; it was a catch 22.

wpid-img_20150817_172057.jpgAfter the helicopter flight, I was in need a good stiff drink, so we headed to the bar for a few drinks, then a leisurely lunch and to watch the traffic pass by (we saw 1 truck, 2 dingoes and a few flies!!) Obviously very outback, off the beaten track here folks! Once the rim walkers returned (after several hours), we piled back into the bus and headed the 4 hours back to Ayers Rock. We stopped briefly at some salt flats for photos and then Curtain Springs Cattle Station for a quick look around and a cold drink or a cup of tea.

It was a long, exhausting day, but completely worth it, I would love to come back in the wet season to see the Creek running and the Canyon in it’s fill glory. We had crystal clear blue skies and the temp was approx 24C…….pretty much as it was our entire trip.

Til next time, happy snapping,