Category: Melbourne

Recently I was able to get a lot of Formatt Hitech gear that meant I could teach people how to do long exposure photography. I had found that many people who were doing the one on ones with me were really interested in the long exposure more, so I realised it was something that I should start teaching. I now have two options.
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It is almost a year since I got serious about Instagram and in that time I have gone from about 340 followers to 10.3 thousand. I like to think that is a great achievement, though I don’t know if it is. Mind you it has taken a lot of work to get that many and I’ve worked really hard. I haven’t really seen any benefits from it, but I do love Instagram and the images you see from others are awe inspiring. I get so much inspiration from looking at what is there. I’ve found new places I want to go and photograph.

One thing that I have found, is that I know, I don’t want to be a landscape photographer. Instagram is flooded with images of waterfalls and mountains with lakes in front of them. It has always been my thing to try to be different. It is so easy to fall into the trap of being the same as everyone else. Play the popularity contest.

I believe you have to be true to yourself and do what makes you feel good. I want my work to stand out from the crowd, and I know that often means an image won’t get so many likes, but it has to be about more than that.

I am an artist first, always. I don’t like to think of myself as a photographer, because I’m not, not really. Yes, I take photos, but I do so much more as well. I’m an artist and my medium is photography, and maybe Photoshop is also my medium. I love seeing what I can do on the computer and I will work on an image for hours, over a whole day sometimes. This is what I do.

I am going to start talking about this a lot more, I hope you won’t mind.

Here are my photos from the last week on Instagram. If you want to find out more about the images, take a look at my Instagram feed, there are descriptions and tips there.

steelwool-twirling-hosier-doorway-melbourne

A couple of weeks ago I was invited by a group to go into the city and do some night photography in the lanes. A couple of the guys brought along some steel wool to burn and then spin around. I have seen so many photos of it in the past, only tried it once, so I was quite excited to try it again. It wasn’t as easy as I thought, but lots of fun.

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We went to Hosier Lane and did some with the graffiti as a backdrop. It worked out really well.

I put this image on Instagram and it did so well. Can’t believe how many likes it got, my most successful image ever really.

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They were making use of the doorways and spinning in those. It was quite amazing. I didn’t frame mine very well for this one, but it is all a learning experience.

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We went down to another lane which wasn’t so well lit up. The lights in adjacent buildings can create too much light in the lanes. This one was quite dark. They did an orb sort of thing in it. Quite weird, sparks went flying and you had to be careful. I had to walk away from my camera because I was getting sprayed.

I used my 14-24mm for these, but I think if I were doing it again I wouldn’t go so wide. I had to get so close to be able to get anything. It wasn’t always a problem, but it meant I could get in the way of others there. I think next time I would use the 24-70mm, or something similar.

It was a lot of fun, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I would do it again, but only for fun. I can’t see myself trying to get a body of work doing this. I know there are people out there that doing it all the time, and that’s great, but I love doing other stuff more. I do hope I will get to do it again one day, you never know.

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One of the things that I have really been enjoying has been looking at photos that were done a while ago. Being fairly new to Instagram, or should I say being more serious about it has meant that I am always looking for images, and going through old ones has been great. I get to revisit and show them again.

This last week I’ve been looking at some of my long exposures.

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The Pinnacles on Phillip Island

This image I took over a year ago, but have only just got around to processing this one. I did it in monochrome as I thought it would work better. I think it was a good choice.

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Pier at Davey’s Bay down near Frankston

This is one that I did and I’ve just re shown it. I was okay with the way I processed it the first time.

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Pier at Davey’s Bay down near Frankston

This is one I showed previously, but I reworked it. I wanted to do more to the sky.

Thanks to Instagram I am getting to see lots of photos again.  If you want to follow my Instagram account, click here.

flindersstreetstation-afternoon-sun-shadows-melbourne

Sometimes you really are in the right place at the right time. It doesn’t happen to me very often, but last night, well, I was so happy to see the light that was shining onto and reflecting onto Flinders Street Station. It was soft, almost diffused light.

We had been down to Docklands to take photos, but the late afternoon sun was hot and too bright. We decided after awhile that we should head down to Federation Square and maybe do some sunset and early evening shots down there.

We jumped on a tram down Flinders Street from Spencer Street. I love it that trams are now free in the CBD. Still, it was incredibly busy and not a lot of them. We were jammed on one with lots of other people.

When we got off at Flinders Street Station I could see the late afternoon sun coming from the direction we had just come from. It was shining on the side of the station, but the front, which should have been in shade, also had light on it. It was being reflected off something else and gave the front a beautiful soft diffused light. It was stunning.

There were no trams coming so I could stand on the tracks and take photos before the lights changed. I was also very happy that I had my 14-24mm lens on.

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Once the image was opened in Adobe Photoshop CC I had to do a bit of work to get rid of the distortions that the lens creates, but I think this works. The front part was full of people, so I tried to darken that area, so while they are still there, they don’t stand out. I also did a little more work to make the front of the station station stand out more, but not a lot.

For me this was incredible. I had never seen the light on the station like this before. I love the effect of it.

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In Melbourne there are many bridges that allow you to cross the river. Some are for cars, and many for pedestrians and bicycles. One bridge that is one of my favourites to photograph is the Seafarers Bridge where it goes over the Yarra.

One Viewseafarers-bridge-yarra-river-melbourneThe things that go over are like ribs of a ship or a sail. It is like our mini opera house. There are so many angles to experiment with. This image is also a long exposure. I’ve really only done long exposures here once, but it is definitely a place I want to do more.

Another View

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This is from the other side. I’ve began to realize that I need to explore the angles a lot more.

One of the downsides with this bridge is how popular it is and there are always people on it, or so it seems at times. This is where the advantage of doing a long exposure comes in. If you can get a long enough time then you can get photos so that the people don’t show up. It is something that really interests me with long exposures.

I’ve been using the Formatt Hitech Filters, and the one I especially love is the Firecrest 16. I’ve now got several of their filters, and the full ND filters are the ones I like the most. I have the 6 , the 10 and the 16 stop, I just need to get the 13 and I will have the full set. I really like their filters.

The next thing to get is the filter holder and maybe the 10 stop to start with for my Nikon 14-24mm. I would love to be able to do some long exposure photography with that lens. That is next on the list.

I just keep wanting to go into the city and take photos these days. I find it so satisfying. The more I do it the more I can understand what sort of scenes I want to shoot. I have a purpose in mind and I can see that it is becoming a reality, if that is the right way of putting it.

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In the last couple of weeks I seem to be spending more and more of my time in the city taking photos. I really want to try some new things, and I know the images I’m taking are a little different to my usual work. Though, I have to admit, I’m not totally sure what I want to do yet. I know I seem confused and perhaps I am.  Then I was reminded that I promised to blog here more and I haven’t been. It is getting crazy, I have the next issue of Dynamic Range Magazine due out in about two weeks, my book on Banyule Flats has to be finished in the next month or so, and I have a whole new body of work I’m itching to start. See, crazy.  Let me show you what I have been doing.

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I’ve been going back to the city and isolated places and seeing what I can do with them.

I enjoy making them look isolated, mysterious and perhaps dark. I’m still playing around with the processing and seeing what I can do with them. I think it helps when I know what I am trying to do, what feeling I want to express.

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This is under the rail bridge that runs between Flinders Street Station and Southern Cross Station. It is an area that is often inhabited by homeless people, except when it rains. Then there is too much water. It is a beautiful underpass, if that is the right phrase. I liked how isolated it looked, almost lonely.

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Sometimes it is also interesting to just take some photos that have an almost abstract quality to them. I like the columns here. They are black and shiny, but everything reflects in them, so they almost blend into the surrounds. It is the second time I have been there to take photos, and I suspect not the last.

With all three images they are in places that I know I will go back to. It is nice to have places to photograph over and over and see what you can do. Get them in different lights and different seasons.

With the last photo I have also done it in black and white for Monochrome madness on my other blog.

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There is no doubting that I have come to Instagram much later than many others, but I am doing my best to catch up. I decided a while ago that I would post a photo everyday and see how I went. Luckily I’ve been doing photography for years, so I have years of photos to go back to. It is nice that many photos done previously can now get another outing.

While I was looking for a photo for today I went back to some I had taken at night of the Royal Exhibition Building here in Melbourne.

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I processed this one at the time when I took it. I was thinking of putting it up, but when I looked I didn’t like how blown out the dome at the top was. I went back to the original photos to see if there was another one I could use as well.

The problem I found was that the originals that had the dome in nice light meant the rest was too dark. Then I thought, what if I did a HDR image, this is the perfect example of when it is useful. Images with lots of contrast between light and dark really do benefit from being transformed into a HDR image.

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This (above) was the HDR with 5 images processed in Photomatix. It give the lighting a much more balanced look. Of course, if you know me, you know I couldn’t leave it at that.

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I know before I start an image like this that I want to do it in Adobe Photoshop. I will want to work in layers and I want to do things to it that aren’t possible in Lightroom. I always do my “arty” images in PS.

I did some more work on it, mainly on the lower buildings to try and draw them out a little more. While they are fairly dark in the image and the dome is the star of the image, that didn’t mean the bottom part couldn’t stand out a little more. I also cropped it a little tighter.

It is endless what you can do on these kinds of images. When you decide that you are going to make it a manipulated image then it is up to you where you stop. In the end the only person that has to like it is you. I don’t think there is anything wrong with manipulation, but be upfront about it. Don’t claim the image is natural when you know you have done heaps of work to it.

I am reasonably happy with the final result. I might look at it tomorrow and wonder what I was thinking. I know there are definitely things I enjoy doing to images and since my trip to New York it has been wonderful to rediscover them.

I am so glad I found architecture again.

city-alley-empty-chair-melbourne

The other morning I went for a walk around part of the city I haven’t really explored before. I was looking for a good empty alley in the city. I saw lots of empty lanes and alleys. I know I am going to have to go back and explore them more. It was also an interesting part too because it isn’t part of the normal part where everyone goes it means it hasn’t been tarted up, so to speak.

I saw this and almost walked past it.

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I noticed the light shining on the brick wall first, then the chair. I thought how odd the chair was just dumped there. It was a relatively clean place otherwise. I wanted to know more about the chair, so I went in past a parked car to take the photo. I have processed it so that there is more emphasis on the chair and wall. The end of the line.

I will have to go back and do some more photography around this area. It would really suit some of the work that I want to do.

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Long exposure photography is very popular now. I really enjoy doing them and experimenting to see what I can do. I recently got a new filter, the Formatt Hitech 10 stop filter.  I already had the Lee Big Stopper, but I have really liked all the other Formatt Hitech filters I have so it seemed logical to get their 10 stop as well. I wasn’t disappointed.

This image was taken with the Lee filter.

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There is nothing wrong with how the Lee filter worked, but it does tend to give your image a blue cast. Admittedly very easy to fix.

This was a long exposure I took at the Dragon’s head at number 16 beach at Rye. I took it a couple of months ago and I have processed other photos from that day, but I did all of those in black and white. I looked at this image and thought it might be nice to try it in colour. I like how it has come out and a friend told me it was in my colours, which I thought was an interesting comment, do I have my own colour scheme?

Yesterday we did a big day along the back beaches. Crazy time to do it really as it is holiday time and that whole area, the Mornington Peninsula, is full of people. It was hard to find somewhere for lunch, but thankfully these beaches are no good for swimming so we could take photos. We found a new spot, Spray Point and we will be going back there, take a look why.

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Lots and lots of rock shelves. The tide was just starting to come back in. I’ve been loaned the Nikon 28-300mm lens and used it for all my photos yesterday. I had no desire to change lenses, I didn’t feel I needed to. I like that I can do wide and zoom in with it. It is a very versatile lens.

I used the Formatt Hitech 10 stop for this one. I didn’t want a complete long exposure as I really like being able to see the water moving, or how it did move. I described to someone how I was doing semi long exposures.  The new filter was great and I didn’t notice any colour casting at all. I have to say I was very happy with it, I think I found my new favourite filter.

My new Merrell shoes that I can walk in the water with are still a favourite. I love that I can just walk straight in and get shots. Of course the water wasn’t very high, and when the tide started coming in I had to be careful.  Still it was nice not to have to run out of the water because a wave came in.

A very successful day out I think. I really enjoyed the company and met some other great photographers that were out taking photos as well.