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PIXelations 29


by fotofinish , 03-09-2010 at 07:34 PM (1068 Views)

The next stop on our recent Australian trip was to Melbourne. Although located at the southern end of the continent there was no relief in the heat. The temperature and humidity continued to be almost as high as it was in Cairns.
Phillip Island
One tour we took was to Phillip Island to see the March of the Penguins. Each night, around 9pm, 600 to 800 Little Penguins come out of the water and waddle along the beach past our viewing stands as they make the climb up the hills to their burrows for the night. No photography is permitted and is strictly enforced. The reason is that past visitors used their camera flash which permanently blinds the sensitive eyes of some of these penguins.

Here’s a picture I took during the day on another part of the island where we were allowed since it was daylight and no flash was needed. I had to hang upside down and shoot under the boardwalk to get this:

This is what the viewing platform looked like:

We also visited Churchill Island and its kangaroos in the wild; the Nobbies and its beautiful coastline; and also the Koala Preserve with its wonderful Koalas in the wild.
Here’s one of the Nobbies:

And of course, one of those Koalas:

Port Campbell National park
My primary reason for traveling to this city was to be able to visit Port Campbell National park, the site of the “12 Apostles”, large rock formations just offshore. Unfortunately, it rained, obscuring most of the formations. I did manage to get a few pictures, however.
Here’s my best of the 12 Apostles:

To get there we had to travel the famous Great Ocean Road, similar to California, with its wonder ocean cliffs, beaches, and even wild koalas!
And this is one from the Great Ocean Road:

Other tours
Other tours included visits to the Grampian Mountains and its scenic heights and views, and the Healesville Wildlife Santuary. This sanctuary is really special since the inhabitants there, although contained, are not behind bars and are in more natural settings. You get to go around with a knowledgeable guide from the Sanctuary who told us all about the habits and wonders of each of the animals and exotic birds. They also have a wonderful animal hospital there which saw a lot of action last year with the devastating fire that occurred north of Melbourne.
After all of those years of watching cartoons as a kid, below is a picture of a Tasmanian Devil!

This city surprised us. At first sight, it is an older city. But upon closer examination, it had a wonderful, vibrant life. It has an excellent in-city free trolley system, the kind you can hop on/off and visits particular sights. Jayne especially enjoyed the Queen Victoria Market. It is a tent complex with a host of vendors with goods that are really cheap to exotic and expensive. It was enjoyable to walk the streets at night and find local musicians on the street corners, or even escape artists!

Here’s one of the night shots:

You can see the rest of my Melbourne series here.


by fotofinish , 03-13-2010 at 09:06 AM (1484 Views)

Our final stop was in Sydney. The first impression I remember having was that it reminded me a little of San Francisco with its big hills and majestic harbor. The main transportation center is called the Circular Quay (pronounced “key”). There, it was fun to buy a “Daytripper Pass” which gave you unlimited access to their buses and ferries for the day. One of our days, we had fun ridding those ferries to the various islands and ports along the harbor. Darling Harbor was the most fun with all of its many shops and restaurants lining the harbor area. There also is frequent fireworks several times each week for apparently no reason. What a modern, architecturally-magnificent city! The harbor bridge was beautiful. And people can actually walk atop the main truss all the way to the top of the bridge. With my fear of heights, this was not for me!

Here’s a picture of what I mean:

And here’s a night shot of Darling Harbor:

Blue Mountains
These World Heritage mountains were not very tall but they were scenic. Unfortunately, there is frequent haze. The reason for this and the reason they are called the Blue Mountains is because of the eucalypt moisture in the air from its many eucalypt forests.

This next picture is from the Blue Mountains, a site called the Three Sisters:

You can see the eucalypt moisture in the air, or just call it haze!

Jenolan Caves
This is the world’s oldest known and dated open cave system with a spectacular array of illuminated stalactites and stalagmites. Unfortunately, I didn’t bother bringing my tripod since we were part of a packed group of tourists, so I had to shoot what I could quickly, handheld. Needless to say, the results were less than stellar technically, but the abstract patterns are stunning! I bumped up the ISO to 3200/6400 and F8 in aperture priority and hoped for the best.

Here’s one that worked:

Sydney Opera House
Here is another World Heritage site (are we detecting a pattern yet about the quality of photographic locations in this country??) that is a mecca for the abstract photographer! I had a ball, even though, again, I was part of a group and not able to conveniently set up a tripod.

And of course, one of the Opera House:

The fairy-tale trip Jayne and I had of course had to come to an end. But we will always have these fond memories of the sites and the easy-going and helpful nature of so many of the people we met Down Under. G’day, mates and no worries ever!

You can see the rest of my Sydney series here.

Ah..Sydney. How I miss thee…Surprisingly,I’ve been to all the places that you’ve mention up there. Except for the caves.

Yes, Nathan, Sydney was (is) special. Close friends of ours are over there right now. Thanks for the read.

The Daintree

by fotofinish , 03-21-2010 at 04:18 PM (1605 Views)

I recently wrote an article for the photozo about my experiences in the Daintree rainforest. This visit has changed my view of the importance of rainforests to humanity. You can view this article here.

Australian Abstracts

by fotofinish , 04-06-2010 at 08:04 PM (1550 Views)

I have been experimenting with some of my Australian abstracts. I tried some in color and in black and white. For the most part, these were taken inside the Jenolan Caves or inside of the Sydney Opera House. Assorted others, were reflections from Darling Harbor in Sydney at night, while the rain abstracts were taken on the tour bus. I was bored and not looking forward to the prospect of having a rainout at Port Campbell National Park. Afterall, being able to shoot the famous “12 Apostles” was the reason I wanted to visit Melbourne. So, I decided to try to make lemonade…

Here are a few examples.

You can see the rest of my color abstract series here.

You can see the rest of my black and white abstract series here.

Tell me what you think: do any of the color ones work better than the black and white ones?

Really like the shots through the rainy glass. Was just looking at doing that the other day, but got sidetracked by my son

The B&Ws are stunning overall – this is definitely my favorite All the lines, shapes and patters make for an awesome photo!

Hi Isaac,
Thanks for the compliments! I especially appreciated your your telling me which one and why it was your favorite. This helps me understand what has worked. Thank you!

I really like your perspective. Reminds me of the impressionist movement; similar to many of Monet’s paintings.

Thanks for that feedback!


by fotofinish , 05-02-2010 at 01:53 PM (1295 Views)

Just recently I downloaded my upgrade to CS5. The reason I upgraded was due to two new features in particular, which for me was worth the price of the upgrade:

Complex selections made easy
This was my number one feature. It allows you select a person against a busy background and actually include her hair very easily!

Content-aware fill
This is my second most favorite feature. You can make a quick selection, like the area around a lamp post. Select the healing brush, and click the content-aware checkbox. It then samples the area around it and seamlessly removes it like it was never there!

Here’s a link to the CS5 New Features.

And here’s another video that describes five new features in more detail.

Content aware is sick i have to agree one of the best new features

Thanks, Michael!

No more photography…

by fotofinish , 06-06-2010 at 01:04 PM (1892 Views)

I’m done. No more photography for me. Why would I do such a thing? Why would I cast aside the years I have labored so hard and so seriously to improve my technique and train my eyes to be more seeing? Here are my reasons.

I have mentioned on numerous occasions in this blog during the past year or two about my growing boredom with “straight” photography. The problem is, that there are so many beautiful and artful pictures out there on the internet, my eye has become jaded. TV ads, magazine spreads, endless, pushy commercials, even video games present wondrous landscapes to compete for our attention. Now when I see one of these brilliant photographic images, the impact seems to be diminished by the huge volume of similar images shown everywhere. There will always be the “wow” images, but there are just so many of them, all of the time, it seems, and the “wow-ness” doesn’t last as long as it did years ago. I am left with the feeling that the ability to be expressive and somewhat unique is rapidly fading into the always-in-your-face landscape that surrounds us and competes for our constant attention. Our need for imagination when looking at these images feels like is beginning to vanish.

I often look at the shelving in my basement with an increasing sense of frustration and dissatisfaction. It is cluttered with spindles of images that have been archived to CD or DVD over the years I have been doing photography. I go out on these marvelous trips and locations and return with yet another pile of images which are destined for the same dusty fate. Sure, some will make it onto the internet. Some will be printed to show friends. Some remain on my computer. But it just seems like such a waste of time and resources and energy. Don’t get me wrong. The reward of being in an awe-inspiring location where I capture an image with the intention of being artful, and, for me, the final prize of holding a print of this scene on fine art paper is reward enough and satisfying enough, in the short term. But I have become restless with this, in the long term.

During the last couple of years, I have taken classes and have explored other artful areas and directions. Abstraction in the world around us is the siren call that has been beckoning me. Peeling paint and rusting metal and similar images, though satisfying to explore, do not feed my craving to “say” something more meaningful.

My creativity class with John Paul Caponigro changed the way I see the world around me. I just never understood how it changed me, until now. His work and the work of other visual artists like Jerry Uelsmann seem to go beyond recording the moment or merely expressing a feeling. They try to have a message!

So, I have “crossed over” into the world of visual art. I will now be able to go back through all of those CDs and DVDs in my basement and take pieces of those pictures, harvesting their seeds of imagination and inspiration, and build through the power of Photoshop a new image that may come closer to the voice and message I continue to seek. If I can make my viewer pause longer in front of my projects than what I could have achieved with my “straight” projects, then I will consider this a measurement of my success.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to take all of those hikes with my wife and capture all of those the sights and locations during our travel years ahead. I will. I still enjoy this, and always will. But now these images can become for me more meaningful and more satisfying as I try to use them as the springboard for future artful and creative visions. Even if it is only in my own mind. Aren’t we, afterall at the very least, legends in our own minds?

Goodbye photography; hello visual art! I can hardly contain my excitement…

Good luck with that matey. Art moves in mysterious ways

Hey,Nathan, thanks for the encouragement. Art DOES work in mysterious, and at times, frustrating, ways!

A new journey awaits you. I’m waiting in anticipation to see the results. Good luck.

Thanks, Ari, it is a gamble…

I’ll be honest, I have been feeling the same way. I buy new gear, think of the photos I want to take, and then think… this has all been done before, and better. it is a little disheartening. i think you should just stay away from forums and looking at pictures for a while.

when someone that is not into it as much as i am looks at my photos, they love them. you just have to remember there ARE people out there that will be impressed, but it will be very hard to be impressed yourself. best thing might just be to stop comparing to other work?

Hi Irfan, basically you must decide what satisfies you. In the long run, I am the one who must decide if I achieved my artistic goals…

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