Mid-July, and I felt like it had been a while since I’d done any portraiture. I had a quick look around on Model Mayhem and found a local model, Danielle. I reached out, asked if she was interested in doing something, and we promptly organised to do a shoot in her house. She had a babysitter come over to watch her kids, while we experimented with a few different looks. Mostly shot with a single 60cm softbox off to one side, with a handful of images window lit.
Jayden and Bec
In October 2016, I was honoured to be asked to shoot the wedding of fellow photographer, Jayden Laing and his lovely bride, Bec.
The wedding was to take place at Mayfield Vineyard just outside of Orange in central New South Wales.
After my usual assistant deserted me in favour of attending his own sister’s engagement party (I guess I can cut him some slack for that one!), I enlisted the help of another photographer mate, Darren Purbrick to assist.
We awoke to a crisp morning in Orange which soon warmed to a pleasant and sunny Spring day.
Darren headed off to shoot the boys getting ready (at Jayden and Bec’s house), while I spent the morning shooting the girls getting ready at the vineyard.
And like most wedding days, it absolutely flew by!
Before we knew it, we were packing up at the end of the reception, exhausted but happy. But both Darren and I had had a ball shooting it.
Thanks Jayden and Bec for the opportunity! It was a blast!
Meetup #33 – Little Red Riding Hood
In May of 2016, I planned and hosted meetup #33 for my Sydney Photographers Meetup group.
The theme was meant to be a combination of Little Red Riding Hood and autumn colours.
The location I had chosen was Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains, West of Sydney, which was about to hold its annual Autumn Festival. Unfortunately, we had some unseasonably late warm weather which meant that the autumn colours we were expecting hadn’t really developed. It turned out that we were about three weeks too early.
Our model for the day was the wonderful Ama Garatshun, whom I’ve shot on a couple of occasions in the past.
South West Rocks
Late in June 2016, Cath, Max, Aztec (the dog) and I headed up to South West Rocks for a week of holidays.
Our first experience with Air B’n’B proved to be a roaring success. We hired a lovely 100 year old cottage for 7 nights. It had really high (10 foot?) ceilings, and the whole place was furnished with furniture from the 40’s and 50’s. It was literally no more than 300 meters from the beach, AND the dog was welcome! Couldn’t have asked for more, really!
One of the great things about South West Rocks is the fact that it is not on the Pacific Highway, which runs up and down Australia’s east coast. The highway passes by, roughly 15 km inland. This means that the only traffic through town is people who intended to be there.
We had a great week, walked the beach every day with the dog, and I got to spend some time just taking photos for the fun of it.
A very relaxing week was had by all.
Summer City Rumble
In April 2016, there was a weekend car show at The Entrance called Summer City Rumble. As you can see, it was a sweet collection of collectible and restored vehicles from yesteryear.
Cath, Max and I went up for the day and wandered around for an hour or so.
This is a collection of images I shot that day.
Throughout 2016, I was hosting my photography site on Adobe’s My Portfolio platform, which came as a “free” inclusion with my Creative Cloud subscription.
It was ok, but it didn’t blow me away, and I missed a lot of the features I’ve come to like about hosting on a wordpress platform.
While I like LR as a RAW converter and library manager, I was becoming increasingly annoyed/paranoid/skeptical by Adobe’s constant price increases. It is my prediction that at some point, they are going to turn around and say “Yeah, about that photographer-centric bundle of LR+PS…. yeah, we’re not doing that anymore. It’s the full suite or the highway.” Now, I might be wrong there. Only time will tell.
I have also, over the last 15 years or so, had an interest in exploring Linux as a desktop operating system. Around September of 2016, I installed Linux Mint onto a laptop I wasn’t using for anything else. I figured it was a good way to experiment and learn, without committing my main (desktop) machine to a change I didn’t know enough about.
Naturally, one of the biggest hurdles I would have to overcome should I embrace Linux was finding a replacement for Lightroom and Photoshop. I had heard about Gimp (Gnu Image Manipulation Program), which is Linux’s answer to Photoshop, but I wasn’t aware of a good Lightroom substitute. Well, it didn’t take me long to discover Darktable.
But this blog post is not about Darktable. THAT, I will cover in an upcoming post.
No, this post is about my triple decision to:
a) switch to Linux (for everything except audio and video editing),
b) ditch my Creative Cloud subscription at the anniversary (in March 2017), and
c) move this site back to a wordpress platform ahead of my divorce from Adobe.
As a result of this switchback, all of my old (pre-2016) posts are still here (well, MOST… I ditched a few really old ones), but the few posts I made on the Adobe platform are not. I’ll re-create those soon.
Meetup #31 – Noir Trois
After a week of truly biblical rain here in Sydney, myself and three other members of the Sydney Photographer’s Meetup group got together last night for meetup #31.
Our third film noir-inspired shoot, naturally titled Noir Trois, saw a gorgeous Sydney summer evening, killer sunset and light clouds. We honestly could not have asked for a better night for this.
Tayler Lovatt (our female model from meetup #28 – Comic book heroine) had expressed an interest in doing a shoot in this style, and her suggestion came at a time when I’d been thinking it was about time to do it again anyway.
Although I’d lined up a male model 3 weeks prior, a last minute hiccup saw a replacement cast just 48 hours out from the shoot. Gabriel Robinson had reached out to me via modelmayhem saying that he liked the sound of the shoot and was interested in being a part of it.
And he proved to be a great choice.
The location I’d chosen was a set of sandstone steps in Pyrmont, which offered a variety of angles, shapes and textures.
We arrived early (around 19:30), caught up with old friends not seen in ages, before starting to shoot around 20:15… once the ambient light had dropped enough to be able to shoot black frames. This meant that we could then introduce whatever lighting we wanted to our shots.
I’d managed to source a couple of props… the fedora Gabriel is wearing, the pistol, the handbag (courtesy of photographer, Jeni Nagy) and some gloves for Tayler (which we never got around to using, sadly), plus I printed up a bunch of fake money.
Jeni Nagy had also brought along her fog machine which we had hoped to be able to run from my car (via a DC-to-AC inverter). Unfortunately, I think the power consumption of the fog machine exceeded the capacity of the inverter, as every time we plugged it in, the inverter would power itself off within a couple of seconds. Unfortunate, as the fog would have added a nice layer to these images. I’ll have to ensure that next time we shoot this genre, we have access to an AC power point.
As is typical of these shoots, time gets away from you VERY quickly, and before we knew it, it was after 11:30 and time to think about packing up.
Another successful shoot accomplished. Time to start thinking about the next one.
Meetup #30 – Country girl and a horse
Saturday just gone saw myself and a handful of fellow photographers from the Sydney Photographer’s Meetup group on Facebook get together for another shoot.
Funny story behind this.
Desiree, our female model at meetup #15 at Tobruk Station, reached out to me a month or so ago and said she’d love to do a shoot with a horse. I said ok, I’d see what I could organise.
I reached out to a friend who owns a horse and asked about using her land and horse. She said we were welcome, but that she could put me in touch with friends of hers who have just bought a beautiful horse ranch with nice post and rail fences at Jiliby on the Central Coast.
So, calls were made, deals were done, everything was set up.
Then, about 4-5 days before the shoot, Desiree advises me that she is unable to make it.
Of course, by this time, I have a bunch of photographers chomping at the metaphorical bit.
So, rather than cancel it, I organised another model.
She was super excited, and super keen.
The morning of the shoot, she texts me to tell me she’s crook as a dog and probably won’t be in a fit condition to shoot…. but, she’s found me a replacement, ‘casue she didn’t want to leave me high and dry!
The sky though… thick, grey, boring clouds. Blah.
So, we all arrive between 15:45-16:00. Britneigh (our sick model) and Angie (our replacement model) were there before me which was great. But then, Alana (the 17 year old daughter of the people who owned the place) joined us as well, as a horse-wrangler and second model.
So, we shot some stuff with both Angie and Alana, and Alana’s horse, Charlie.
Then, Alana had to leave to go to a party, so we moved around the property and shot some stuff near the dam, and at a little ‘balcony’ over a stream which housed a table and couple of chairs.
And as is so often the case with these shoots, 3 hour had slipped by in the blink of an eye.
But those who attended enjoyed themselves, as did Angie our model.
I’m taking a break during December, but am currently planning meetup #31 which will be Noir Trois (our third film noir-inspired shoot).
Tayler, our lovely comic book heroine from meetup #28, expressed a desire to be the female model for this. She will do it justice, I have no doubt! Really looking forward to that shoot!
Borneo 2015 – day 19
Friday 17th July
In all honesty, I will be glad to be home, and crazy as it might sound, I think I’ll be glad to go back to work. What I’m NOT looking forward to is the crazy cold winter that Sydney has put on in the 3 weeks we’ve been gone.
When we were up in Kudat last weekend, I was talking to a couple from The Netherlands about it (the weather in Sydney) and they simply laughed at me. I guess all things are relative!
We got ourselves a late check out from the hotel, left our bags there, and caught a cab to a nearby shopping centre to kill a couple of hours… Continue reading Borneo 2015 – day 19
Borneo 2015 – day 18
Thursday 16th July
Today is my paternal grandmother’s 91st birthday, so I gave her a call to wish her a happy birthday and apologise for the fact that I have not, in two and a half weeks of searching, been able to find her a birthday card.
I reminded her that we are currently in Borneo (she has the beginning stages of dementia), and she was happy enough that I had bothered to call her from here and not to worry about a card. This would be the first year since I was about 7 that I have not sent her a card. Perhaps I’ll send her one when I get home just to keep the record in tact, even though it will be late.
I rang her from Jesselton Point Jetty, which was where we were assembling for our day’s activities. We have booked a day with Diverse-Borneo, a watersport company who specialise in dive tours, snorkelling and the like. We are doing some snorkelling, and an island-to-island zipline. Apparently, this zipline at 250 metres (which runs between Pulau Gaya and Pulau Sapi, just a 15 min boat ride from the jetty in Kinabalu) used to be the longest island-to-island zipline in the world. Recently though, a new one has been constructed in the Philippines which is apparently longer.
Our boat ride included the 3 of us, a young Japanese couple who I don’t think had ever seen water before (later, they were snorkelling with lifejackets on!), and a handful of scuba divers who were on their last day of their Open Water Certificate training… Continue reading Borneo 2015 – day 18
Borneo 2015 – day 17
Wednesday 15th July
We’ve got a big day planned for tomorrow, so today was a day to just hang around in Kinabalu. We wandered the streets, visiting some places we’d seen two years ago as well as popping into a couple of shopping centres that were still under construction when we were here last.
The crazy thing about construction here is that companies will build a new shopping precinct, market the hell out of it, and when it’s ready for occupation, businesses will depart their current premises to take up a shopfront in the newly-opened centre. And then, the cycle starts all over again (or closer to the truth would be that the cycles actually overlap, because at this point, ANOTHER centre is halfway completed already). The next one opens, the businesses all move on. Why is it crazy? Because you end up with all these shopping centre buildings left sitting empty. They don’t seem to demolish them too often either… Continue reading Borneo 2015 – day 17
Borneo 2015 – day 16
Tuesday 14th July
This morning, we decided that even though it didn’t make for particularly spectacular viewing, we nonetheless would do some more snorkelling off the beach to kill some time.
Noon came, we checked out, and waited for a taxi to arrive. He picked us up around 12:30 and we began the 250km journey back to Kinabalu. In Australia, this would be a two hour trip, maybe 2 and a half. Here? 4 hours. We got to the airport around 16:30.
Along the way, I had received a text from the rental car company saying that because we had hit a pothole, we would be liable for the damage to the rental car and that that would come to RM3500 (about AUD$1200). I refused to discuss it over the phone and told the girl that we would talk about it when we got to the airport. Continue reading Borneo 2015 – day 16
Borneo 2015 – day 15
Monday 13th July
Monday dawned, and the SMS messages to and fro with the rental car company began.
We explained that we were booked into a hotel in Kinabalu tomorrow (Tuesday) night, so come hell or high water, we had to have transport of one description or another. They advised that they would be sending a colleague to Kudat on Tuesday and if we wanted to, they could send another vehicle for us to drive ourselves back to Kinabalu, or we could catch a taxi and they would reimburse us (it’s a 250km trip!). After finding that the replacement vehicle would not reach us until mid-afternoon, we said we’d catch a taxi… Continue reading Borneo 2015 – day 15
Borneo 2015 – day 14
Sunday 12th July
The lodge is absolutely beautiful. The chalets all face east, and we have an ocean-side view. There is a row of trees between our chalet and the beach, so that softens the sunrise a little bit as it hits your front door, but you can still see the ocean. The bathroom is an interesting design. The walls go up about 7 feet, but then there is a big gap between the tops of the walls and the ceiling. It gives you the feeling of showering outside, whilst still having your privacy. The floor is all wooden boards and there is no specific shower recess. The water hits the floorboards and runs through to a collection plate underneath. It’s all very eco-friendly feeling… Continue reading Borneo 2015 – day 14
Borneo 2015 – day 13
Saturday 11th July
After arriving back at the marina in Sandakan, we jumped back in the car and headed off to the Sandakan-Renau Death March Memorial.
If you were following this blog two years ago, you may recall that we visited the memorial at Kundasang, a small village not far from Renau. Renau was where the Death Marches are said to have ended, upon the death of the last 40 or so soldiers who were involved. They were executed by firing squad.
The memorial in Sandakan though, is built on the actual site where the POW camp was located during the closing years of the Second World War. Not sure why, but when we visited today, the only section that was open was the Australian part of the memorial… Continue reading Borneo 2015 – day 13
Borneo 2015 – day 12
Friday 10th July
This morning, we were up bright and early, breakfasted, bags packed, and out of the hotel by 08:30 ready to catch our island transfer at 09:00.
Just off the east coast from Sandakan lays a group of three small islands (Pulau Selingaan, Pulau Gulisaan and Pulau Bakkungan Kechil), now referred to as the Turtle Islands Park for the reason that they have beaches favourable to sea turtles (remember the sea turtles from Finding Nemo? Yep, just like them!). Today, there is a fantastic conservation program in place across the 3 islands. Tourists are shipped in each morning, given the afternoon as free time, and then from 18:30, the beach is off limits until 06:30 the next day.
After dinner, we were shown a short documentary about sea turtles. After that, we were told we would have to sit in the dining room until one of the Park Rangers came and announced that a turtle had come ashore to nest. We were advised that that could be as early as 20:00 or as late as 23:00! Thankfully, we got the summons at 20:30. We all headed off down toward the beach, following the Ranger… Continue reading Borneo 2015 – day 12
Borneo 2015 – day 11
Thursday 9th July
This morning, it was up, have breakfast, pack our bags, and we were ferried back across the river to where we’d left our car. We got on the road, and were ecstatic at what we had experienced over the previous 36 hours, but there was more awesomeness to come.
Our next planned stop was Gomantong Cave, which was only 20km or so back along the road to Sandakan. We arrived, paid our money, and headed off along the boardwalk into the rainforest in search of the cave. The cave was typically full of bats, bat poo, starlings and cockroaches. The light inside was also beautiful, as caves generally are. Walking around it, I wanted to shoot it from every angle, but didn’t want to be there all day, plus the smell of ammonia in the air (from the bat poo) was quite overpowering. This was another cave which was unguided, allowing you time to shoot it the way you wanted to, providing you had the time! Continue reading Borneo 2015 – day 11
Borneo 2015 – day 10
Wednesday 8th July
The next morning, we headed out in the boat again, nice and early at 06:30. I asked yesterday afternoon if it was safe to swim in the river. I was given a very definite no, there are crocodiles in the river. Right then! No swimming, it is. So, I was pretty keen to see a croc. As we cruised down river, Liam suddenly swung the boat in toward the shore, pointing. I didn’t see it until it moved, and unfortunately, I had my camera on all the wrong settings. By the time I’d got my settings right, the croc had slithered into the water and disappeared. He was big, too. Probably 9-10 foot long. I made a mental note to constantly be aware of what settings I had dialled in on my camera. If we were cruising in a shaded area of the river, I’d alter my white balance settings to ‘shade’. If we headed back into sunlight, I’d switch it back to ‘daylight’. Some of the time, I’d shoot on manual exposure, and some of the time, I’d shoot in aperture-priority… Continue reading Borneo 2015 – day 10
Borneo 2015 – day 09
Tuesday 7th July
It’s now Thursday afternoon, and we have just arrived back in Sandakan after our 48 hour adventure to the little river village of Bilit.
More on that in a sec.
We left Sandakan around 08:00 Tuesday morning, heading for Sepilok, an outer suburb which is home to one of the largest orang-utan sanctuaries in Borneo. Despite all the good things we’d heard about the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre, after Semenggoh, this was an utter disappointment… Continue reading Borneo 2015 – day 09
Borneo 2015 – day 08
Monday 6th July
We awoke at 07:00, headed up to the restaurant for breakfast and a re-shoot of the family portrait we shot last time we were here, then it was back on the road east.
Unfortunately, the area we had to pass through from the middle of the island to the east coast is one that is heavily under the thumb of the palm oil industry. Sadly, we spent many a mile stuck behind slow-moving trucks, many of which were carrying palm pods to the mills for processing… Continue reading Borneo 2015 – day 08