The year that was……..2016

2016 was a turbulent year, on a personal note I had many highs and some fabulous adventures, but globally there was so much sadness. 2016 was a terrible year for singers, writers and actors; Jon English, Prince, David Bowie, Glen Frey, we lost Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder and now George Michael and Carrie Fischer; just among the few. I won’t go into the horrendous acts of violence here, but there were far too many of them too.

We did a great many day trips and weekends away;

I was so lucky to get so many of my digital art pieces published, and hope to have many more in 2017.

I started my own Vimeo and YouTube channel…….please visit, like and share. I have created and printed two books and a range of greeting cards, and participated in many fun and exciting workshops, as well as ran many of my own.

It has been one hell of a ride…………I hope 2017 is just as full of amazing adventures, with less sadness and loss.

~ Julz

 

Another 52 Week Challenge – Week 14

The Girls who Dreams Awake is celebrating Winter this week in this 52 week challenge. I’ve just escaped Winter here in the South and in no hurry to see it back again. Maybe if we got some pretty snow, it might be worth the trouble, but all we get is cold, wind and rain; not very nice. I much prefer the warmer months and the longer days.

I did see snow this year, it’s just that it wasn’t very much of it, but someone found enough to make a snowman.

~ Julz

Winter Outings – Bruno’s Art & Sculpture Gardens

A few weeks back we went on an adventure in the Yarra Valley, in particular to Marysville, one of our stops was to Bruno’s Sculpture Garden, I have never been here before and until recently I had never heard of it…….it truly is a gem and a must visit location.

In February 2009 bushfires decimated the Marysville area, damaging, homes, businesses, farms and taking lives and livelihoods. Bruno Torfs wonderful sculpture garden was not spared either, the devastation was captured and displayed in various photos. With help from family, friends and complete strangers Bruno managed to rebuild his wonderful gardens and re opened just a few years back. If you would like to learn more about the wonderful Bruno or about the history of the place, please visit his website. Now on our visit we were lucky enough to have a guided tour by Bruno himself, as he showed some of his fabulous paintings that survived the fires and told us about the fire, the aftermath and the rebuilding……..he said he could have just given up like others, or he could shrug his shoulders and just get on with it, humble and inspiring and so very, very talented. Most of his sculptures a quite playful and humerous; spend five minutes with Bruno and you’ll understand he is such a joyous and funny fellow……….oh the stories he can tell.

Anyway, I took 100’s of photos, but I will just show some of my favourites here, maybe I will do a few more from time to time, some sculptures – one image is not enough, as there is so much detail.

Til next time, safe travels and happy snapping…

~ Julz

Winter Outings – Steavenson Falls, Marysville

After what seems like ages, Moth and I headed out for some adventure, heading towards Marysville in country Victoria to shoot at Steavenson Falls, amongst other things. It was a beautiful drive up, in the eerie fog and sunshine that eventually broke through.

DSC_9718

The mountain range surrounding this area is still suffering from the devastating bush-fires of 2009, so much was lost; people, property, animals and livelihoods. This is mostly a rural farming area and is only just now starting to come back to life.

Getting the the falls is easy, once you get to Marysville (approx 90mins from Melbourne)and are quite well sign posted, to get there drive to Steavenson Falls carpark, which is located 3km along  bitumen on Falls Road, from the heart of Marysville. Then it’s an easy 700 metre walk to an awe-inspiring view of one of Victoria’s highest waterfalls. Plummeting 84 metres the falls have been a favourite since the 1860′s. They are very accessible by wheelchair as well, with viewing platforms with spectacular views. There are also a few spots to go which have steps.

We had received a fair bit of rain this past week and all rivers were running freely and quite high, making the waterfalls a wonderful sight. I played with some long exposures on this trip, especially my Firecrest ND 16 filter, which I have only had a chance to use a few times.

DSC_9759

ISO 400, 20mm F/11, 1/60 second

DSC_9739-HDR

ISO 100, F/22, 18mm, 39 seconds, ICE ND 10

DSC_9757

ISO 100, 40mm F/9, 360 seconds (6 minutes)Firecrest ND 16

I just love the silky water effects you can get with a long exposure. I used my ICE ND Filter, which has a warmer cast to it and the Firecrest 16 which has a cool colour cast, I could have matched them, but I actually like the two different versions.

DSC_9764

I even spotted one of those rock cairns up on the waterfall………how on earth they managed to get up there is beyond me, or even WHY?

DSC_9758

We then went on from here to Bruno’s Sculpture gardens, but that is for another post.

Til next time, safe travels and happy snapping…

~ Julz

 

Winter Outings – Belgrave

We had a rare bit of beautiful Winter weather recently…sunny and not too cold, so we decided to head out for the day. First up we hit the local Farmers Market, they also do trash and treasure, arts and crafts. I think just about everyone in our local area went, due to the weather, as it was quite crowded (even though it may not look it in the pic); just look at the blue sky and sunshine!

wp-1470020754474.jpg

Seeing as it was far to nice to be inside we then decided to go for a drive, we had heard about this lake in Belgrave we have never been to before and is quite close to us. It was wonderful spot for a Sunday stroll……we should have bought the dogs.

Then on the way home we saw a sign we have never noticed before for Glen Harrow Gardens, we were in no hurry so we decided to check it out, even though it was getting quite late.We even had to stop to give way to the old Puffing Billy steam train, an adventure in itself lol.

wp-1470020714642.jpg

We finally found this ramshackled overgrown spot…….OH My…….this place was a photographer’s paradise, or maybe just me? I have barely scratched the surface, I really need to go back!

DSC_9634DSC_9615DSC_9626DSC_9608

It’s Victorian and rustic and abandoned and in ruins………the gardens are fabulously overgrown. They are working with arborists and such to bring the gardens back and the current owners have spent 20 years renovating and restoring the cottages as a B&B, but this bit is just fabulous! I would so love to do a shoot here!

Til next time, safe travels and happy snapping…

~ Julz

 

Winter Outings – Reptile Encounters

WOW! It really has been a crazy mixed up week, this week; I went from a boudoir shoot, couples shoot, some still life and a reptile shoot. I have loved every minute of it, by far the most challenging, but heartwarming for me was the reptile shoot………sorry all my wonderful human models, but when someone hands me a handful (literally) of green tree frogs; my heart just melts; I mean seriously look at these little guys!

We also had crocs, bearded dragons, frill necked lizards, geckos, blue tongue lizards and paddy melons (Wallaby/ giant mouse type thing), and of course pythons. It truly was a wonderful morning and such a privilege to be a part of. We used some black perspex (same as for product shoots) and we took my studio lights, it was quite dark, and humid in this garage where all the animals are stored. Tight, cramped conditions to work in, with nine photographers. This was a trial run to see if it all worked out for future workshops with my photography group. With more lighting, larger floor area and I think it will work out fine. This was so dark, we were shooting at ISO1600, F/2.8. So images are quite grainy and a little soft.I also shot all of these with my 50mm Prime due to the poor lighting conditions.

I can cope just about all Australian animals, we have such diversity and such strange animals; but you can get rid of the spiders………..eeeeeeeeewwwwwwwwww yuk!

~Julz

Winter Workshops – Still Life #2

On Sunday Moth and I hosted the second of our Winter Product/ Still Life workshops. This was a very different group from last time, no less keen, but a few more seasoned photographers and perhaps a little more laid back. Still super and trying out new ideas, but also adding their own.

We had a special treat, well actually two……….one Lady brought in some vintage cameras for use to use, and one guy brought in some early mobile phones (I did not however manage to get any images of those). We split again into two groups and focus on Product Shoot on the Glass and Black Perspex, and the other group on Still Life, with fresh flowers, crates, old teapots and the like, on softer white and timber backdrops.

After lunch the groups swapped sides and then proceeded to switch back and forth, we even set up a third smaller table for some pretty flower shots as well. This group finished a little earlier for us this time, so Moth and I got a little time to play as well.

Also Bev let me hold onto the vintage cameras for a little while longer, so I could play in my own time………isn’t that nice?

That’s about it, til next time, happy snapping…

~ Julz

Birds of Prey – Private Bird Experience

I have been very privileged with people I have met through Photography and various Facebook Groups, to be offered some very exciting opportunites; one of which was a Private Bird shoot with some birds of Prey. So on a cold, wet Saturday Moth, Myself and 18 other people drove up to Garibaldi (near Ballarat) to stand in a field with a keeper, various different birds and our cameras at the ready.  I have not had a huge amount of luck with Bird Photography. My last effort yielded a few fabulous shots, but mostly air and a bit of tail! Sure I’m fine when they sit still………but they fly so fast!

Bird 1

Wedgetail Eagle

Bird 2

Nankeen Kestrel

Most of the birds are rescue birds, some with physical difficulties (Blind, damaged wings), some are imprinted (ever seen a Wedgetail Eagle snuggle and hug a person – it’s cute, but weird), Martin (The keeper) discussed each bird with us, the natural traits, conservation efforts, natural dangers and how that particular bird came to him. Each bird was displayed (quite happily) on Martin’s gloved arm and then he let most of the free fly. This is were the conditions, my camera and my own physical limitations hit a wall. My camera is not overly fast, great for what I normally shoot, but not fast, add the very dark, gloomy conditions, meant cameras had to shoot even faster, and then the birds, some of which are incredibly fast (60kms)……..to put it bluntly I got a LOT of blurred air photos, a great shot of the car park, other photographers lenses……….but not much in the way of birds in flight.

Anyway this went on for about 1 & 1/2 hours and then we had a lovely afternoon tea. We got to see Nankeen Kestral (Australia’s smallest falcon), Wedgetail Eagle, Little Eagle, Barn Owl (So pretty and soooooo soft), Peregrine Falcon. It was a educational and very interesting day, especially to see these birds up so close.

Martin and the birds are from Leigh Valley Hawk and Owl Sanctuary. Til next time, happy snapping…

~ Julz

Winter Wanderings – Warburton & Mount Donna Buang

On a recent trip away with two other couples, we went from Warburton to the Rainforest Gallery in Donna Buang, this is apparently a little known treasure in the area, I guess with the name people think it’s an art gallery instead of a nature walk!

This beautiful site features a 40 metre long observation platform (one of only three of its type in Australia) which takes you into the rainforest canopy 15 metres above the ground. A 350 metre long elevated walkway takes you through the Rainforest Gallery where you will see magnificent 65 metre tall old growth Mountain Ash trees, ancient Myrtle Beech trees (many of which are 300 to 400 years old), ferns, mosses and other plants that make up this damp and diverse rainforest environment.There are several viewing spots along the walkway where you can pause and enjoy the sounds of Cement Creek flowing past on its journey to the Yarra River.

~ Parks Victoria

There are a few steps, but overall it is easy access, there is so much to see that the 350m walk took quite a while to do, and given there was 4 photographers keen on long exposures, it took longer than anyone expected. Oh not to mention a few laughs along the way. Poor Deanne drop a lens cover over the railing, so hubby Bill went for a little off trail discovery himself! Our other character for the Weekend was David….the Three men spent a bit of time acting the clowns and keeping everyone entertained.

It was a true rain-forest, and I was constantly being dripped on, the moss was covered in frozen dew drops, just starting to melt in the early morning sunshine just breaking through the breaks in the trees, it was quite dark so photography was a bit of a challenge.

We then continued up the Mountain to the summit. Now Mount Donna Buang is at an elevation of 1245 metres, so not overly high and not one of Victoria major snow resorts, but it does get snow, as it did this weekend, just enough for snow men and to keep tourists happy, later in the season they do tobogganing from here. The summit also features a lookout tower which is 21 metres high and offers panoramic views over Melbourne, the Yarra Valley, Dandenong and Cathedral Ranges, Mount Baw Baw and the Alps.

After leaving the summit we continued our drive towards Healesville, mainly dirt tracks and mud……….lots and lots of mud, and fog, mist and low cloud. We stopped briefly at a Hang Glider launch place, with great views……..One of the guys decided to have fun by posing for us on the ramp and pretending he can fly, such a hoot!

We stopped in Healesville for a late lunch and then drove back to Warburton for happy hour and dinner. We had all gone in two 4WD and had walkie talkies, so many laughs were had on the day.

Til Next time, safe travels and happy snapping…

~ Julz

 

 

 

Winter Wanderings – Warburton

DSC_7715

Frosty & Merlot

Recently, a photography friend invited Moth and I, away with them and another couple for some fun and light painting in Warburton, Victoria. It was Queen’s Birthday Long weekend……the official start of Victoria’s Snow season; and we were heading right into it!

So we went prepared with a car full of hiking boots, hats, scarves, gloves, jackets, thermal underwear, more hats, gloves, scarves and jackets and hope to keep warm! We did so much on this 3 day trip I may have to break up the posts. We all arrived and met up Saturday Afternoon and spent time chatting and having a few social drinks, while working out our plans for the rest of the weekend. We had already done some exploring on the way up (as the others had done too). We had a lovely dinner out, loads of laughs and great food. We had planned to go the the Redwood Forest to try our hand at a few new ideas with Light Painting, Moth and I planned to do our own thing Early Sunday Morning (I mean early) and then we went for a walk through the Rain Forest Gallery, followed by a touch of off road (more mud than anything) down to Healesville…….it’s a lovely scenic drive. We also went to Mount Donna Buang and played in the snow from the night before. The Snowman above we dressed ourselves (yes I took a Top Hat camping – don’t you?) and Merlot the dog……..usually referred to as Muddy Merlot; he belongs to Dee and Bill who went with us as well.

MushroomWinter LeavesFreeze

We found treasures in the forest and along the Yarra River, moss and tress and toadstools, the cascades were wonderful for long exposures and with 4 photographers in the group it took us awhile to do the short walk :-)……..too many photo opportunities.

The evenings we spent with good food and lots of laughs, followed by freezing in nearing 0c temperatures playing with lights and flaming steel wool in the forest and on top of Mountains.

I still have so many photos to go through. I will break it all up into a few posts, I think and go into more detail for each. We also did a bit of antiquing and junk shop hunting and picked up a few bargains, a few treasures for still life and my new concept shoot. We spent a little time exploring the township of Warburton as well, but it is not very big. On Monday morning Moth and I slept in a little, did some shopping and exploring and then finally made our way home. It was a wonderfully funny and relaxing weekend with good people, good food and good fun (albeit very cold).

Will post some more photos soon, once I have gone through some more. Til next time, safe travels and happy snapping…

~ Julz