Ended up doing a little storm chasing in south east Queensland yesterday. I'd originally headed out to photograph shore-birds but when I saw the amazing clouds heading my way I quickly changed plans.
Here is a 10 second time-lapse. This 25 minutes compressed into 10 seconds. The storm didn't do what I expected and just fizzled out. Looks cool though :-)
Thursday saw an early start as our friends from Emu Run Tours collected the group form their various accommodations and we set off for Kings Canyon. We have been using Emu Run Tours for the last few years and cannot fault their service. The drivers are always friendly and very knowledgeable regarding all things 'outback'. They also work in with us from a photography perspective so that rather than the typical 'tourist' run with a stop, quick look, move on we are given the time to not only provide tuition, but also take our time to get 'the shot'. So while our group of intrepid 'Adventurers and Explorers' capture fantastic images, the 'tourists' race on by.
A quick stop at Erldunda for a coffee and to swap buses and we were on our way. I made that sound a bit too quick. It is a long way out from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon and in fact we cover over 750 kilometres by the time we get back to Erldunda for our overnight stop.
So, back on the road and along the way to Kings Canyon we had the opportunity to photograph among the sand dunes. The rainfall in the area has been above average in recent times and the grasses and plants are in abundance. To be honest it is difficult to find a bare patch of sand!
Seven of our group and myself opted for the optional chopper flight over the canyon and, oh boy, what a great ride it was with absolutely amazing views. We headed up to King's Canyon Resort to arrange the flights. To say the excitement levels were high would be an understatement. A very cooperative group of Spinifex Pigeons and a couple of very shy dingos kept the group waiting on the ground occupied.
We left the resort and headed to King's Canyon. When we arrived at Kings Canyon It was business as usual with stunning vista after stunning vista. The place is really a photographer's paradise. The group spread out as there are so many different aspects to this place as you'll see from the following photos. We did manage to get everyone back together at the top for a group shot. Aren't they all just a happy bunch of photographers?
All too soon we were back in the bus snoozing our way back to Erldunda for the night. Mother nature had other ideas though and put on the most spectacular sunset. Our ever helpful driver Calvin, pulled over and we all piled out to enjoy the amazing sight. The sky was ablaze with colour and really did look on fire. Stunning.
Dinner at Erldunda and then the entire group came out and braved the chill to try their hand at star trails and a little light painting. It was absolutely freezing but we had fun nonetheless. The results were spectacular!
Day 5 tomorrow and after a little sleep-in we will be back on the big bus heading to Kata Tjuta and Uluru. Woo hoo!!!
This could the shortest tip ever. Further to my landscape photography tips where I mentioned photography near water I thought it prudent to remind you to always have a lens cleaning cloth on hand.
Especially near water, you will very quickly have a build up of muck on your lens. You may not even notice it happening but when you get home and upload your photos you'll be faced with a massive cleanup job (of your images and lens) or worse.
The fine mist around coastal shoots or near waterfalls needs to be cleaned off regularly, sometimes between each and every shot. You will certainly notice the difference.
Just the simple act of wiping down your lens could mean the difference between a great shot and a binned shot.
It's Wednesday and we have an early start at the Alice Springs Reptile Centre for an amazing morning of geckos, lizards, snakes and even a few frogs. The centre is owned by Rex Niendorf, one of the Centres colorful characters. Rex has helped out TV and movie productions with his critters and handling skills including Sir David Attenborough. Rex brings his staff in early to give our Trekabout Photography Workshop group exclusive access to an amazing collection.
Justin is on hand to help out and is brilliant at keeping everyone occupied with a seemingly endless array of reptiles. The fact that Justin is a keen photographer himself helps with his understanding of what our participants are after.
One of the stars is always the Thorny Devil and of course he attracted a good following this time around too. Another of my favourites is the Central Netted Dragon. This little fellow is so cooperative! You just plonk him down in position and he'll just stay there posing away until you're finished.
Justin is able to provide 'glass free' access which made for some awesome photo opportunities. One of the highlights was the Death Adder and with Justin keeping it perfectly under control and at a safe distance our group were able to capture some amazing images.
Here are a few images from some of the participants.
After lunch we had another afternoon at the Alice Springs Desert Park where the group had another opportunity to fine tune their 'birds in flight' skills. From what I have seen from that session we sure had some talented photographers along.
The birds in flight photography at the Nature Theartre is quite a challenge. As you'll see in the following photos, our group members were up to the task.
The Alice Springs Desert Park has numerous aviaries, some of which are walk through. The bird photography opportunities are endless and again we were not disappointed.
The Sand Country habitat was alive with wildflowers this year. The macro session was held throughout this area and although a little breezy there were still some terrific photo opportunities. The wildflowers were alive with bee activity. Of course whenever there are bees and macro lenses around, there is bound to be the 'odd' bee on flower shot. Great fun too, trying to grab that perfect image of the bee hovering just as it comes in to land.
Tomorrow we head out to Kings Canyon. It's going to be a BIG day!!
Plan ahead for your landscape shoots. There's a lot to be said for managing your time when it comes to landscape photography and in particular sunset and sunrise shoots. Knowing in advance exactly where the sun will rise or set is important as you will then be able to scout your preferred locations and know where the best vantage points will be. Add the moon into the mix and your planning is even more crucial. If you can be at a location when a full moon is rising at about the same time as the sun is setting then you have a marvelous combination for stunning landscape photography. If you are planning a shoot near the ocean then tides also come into play.
I prefer low tide as the exposed foreshore is usually a lot more interesting.
Queensland's Sunshine Coast has some fantastic locations for sunset / moonrise opportunities. Point Cartwright is one of my favourites and indeed, a number of our Trekabout Photography Workshops 'Mountain to Beach Experience' photography workshops have been worked in with full moons. The resulting photographs have been awesome.
But you don't need to be on the Sunshine Coast to enjoy a full moon-rise at sunset. I have encountered amazing sights in the Red Centre for example with incredibly coloured moon-rise opportunities.
So how do you plan these shoots to be there at the right time. There are a number of tools that I use to good effect. The first of these is called The Photographer's Ephemeris or TPE. This is a free download for your desktop PC, Mac or laptop computer. You can also purchase the TPE app for iPhone and iPad and Android devices are also catered for.
TPE is easy to operate. In a nutshell it provides you with a map overview of your planned camera location and a graphic illustration of sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset. You do need to be online for the mapping which is where the app on a portable device is a great advantage. You can check out TPE by following this link...
It just so happens that the next full moon is on Thursday 2 August, and the moonrise is at 5.34pm with sunset being a few minutes earlier at 5:22pm. This has potential for some awesome seascapes as the moon rises out to sea into the pink afterglow of the sunset. Rest assured I will be on a foreshore somewhere :-) That same morning will also be a good for sunrise / moonset combination with the moon setting not long after sunrise.
Unfortunately, the tide won't be perfect as for sunset it will incoming and around 3/4 in. I don't think I'll let that stop me though.
Day 2 of the Trekabout Photography Workshops Red Centre Experience Photography Workshop and Tour was a complete contrast to the desert park with landscape photography being the genre of choice for the day. Or so we thought! We took the group into the East MacDonnell Ranges starting with a visit to Emily Gap. The area is known for Dingoes and moments after I said to our group to keep an eye out for them, one was spotted disappearing into the bush.
The lighting was perfect and we spent our time explaining metering, composition, focus points and more that we're appropriate for landscape work. It was a constant race against the sun to keep it just out of the image but create interest with the ever present glow coming over the cliff top. Set up the tripod, compose, take the shot, move, set up the tripod, etc., etc. I should apologise at this point for the image quality on this report as most of the photos were taken with my iPhone. As on all our workshops I try and keep my own camera use to a minimum so as to always be available to help the participants but I can always grab a quick shot with the good old iPhone.
As we started out of the gap, we noticed a small water hole (last year we couldn't get through the gap due to deep water but now only a tiny waterhole remains) and, as luck would have it, the birds were putting on a show having a drink. Large flocks of Budgies, Zebra Finches, Diamond Doves and the odd Yellow-tinted Honeyeater were putting on a show.
Out came the long lenses and an impromptu bird session ensued. In the end we had to drag the group away kicking and screaming to continue our trip eastwards to Trephina Gorge.
We had chewed through a heap of time so we passed on Jessie Gap and headed straight to Corroboree Rock. This is another magic place and we enjoyed the many angles of the rock formation to practice composition, depth-of-field and the good old rule-of-thirds. The rock itself is long, tall, and narrow giving many different opportunities for a unique landscape. The surrounding landscape and fauna is also quite fascinating and many wildflowers were in abundance. Consisting mainly of Spinnifex there are also plenty of Bloodwoods and Red Mallee to be seen. A sprinkling of Mulla Mulla adds to the colour with their distinctive purple flower.
Onwards to Trephina Gorge for a walk along the gorge rim and then back along the sandy floor. This is another of those 'wow' places that has an amazing scene around every corner. It is one of my favourite spots to visit in 'The Centre' and this year was no different. As always, it pays to look over your shoulder to see what the view is like from where you came. Trephina Gorge does not disappoint in this regard. Half way up the first ascent the view back behind is spectacular. The gorge has many nooks and crannies hidden away and is truly a photographer's delight. An ideal place to practice panorama photography there are numerous vantage points along the way. Once down on the gorge floor, the rock gives way to a sandy river bed, still flowing slowly after recent rains.
As in previous years we stopped at the huge Ghost Gum on the way out of the park. It is the biggest known Ghost Gums in central Australia. A quick stopover on the river crossings to photograph the River Red Gums and we ready to head for home. A great finish to an amazing day.
Tomorrow we're off to the Alice Springs Reptile Centre and back to the Alice Springs Desert Park for another go at those birds in flight. It is going to be a ripper.
To find out more about the Trekabout Photography Workshops 7 Day Red Centre Experience please click here.
With all this rain around, again, it would be prudent to ensure good moisture reducing practices with your camera equipment and lenses. I always keep a couple of those dehumidifying 'Closet Camel' type packs where I store my gear. Even in the back of the car you would be surprised how much moisture they collect. Keep some silica gel packs in your camera bag and make sure, if you do get caught out in he rain, that you wipe off as much of the damp as you can. The BRNO Dehumidifying caps look like a good idea too. I must admit that I haven't tried them yet but they are on my shopping list. A little preventative maintenance now might save you a lot of money down the track having fungus and mould removed from your expensive lens.
What an amazing week in the Red Centre.
The Trekabout Photography Workshops 'Red Centre Experience' workshop and tour is over for another year, but what a workshop it was!
Apart from low temperatures the weather was glorious. Incredibly clear blue skies and crisp cloud free nights saw some amazing landscape and starscape opportunities presented. Michael and I arrived in Alice Springs a few days early to give us a chance to photograph before the workshop commenced. We knew we were in for a treat.
We kicked off with the usual meet and greet on Sunday evening with nibbles and drinks and it was immediately obvious that we had a group that would get on like the proverbial 'house on fire'. Di, Natalie, Pamela, Wolf, Steven, Chris and Ken were to spend the next six days together and it was great to see new friendships formed and a strong 'photographers bond' develop.
Day one commenced with an informative talk by Doug from the Alice Springs Desert Park. Doug explained the layout and a brief history of the park, the animals we might encounter and a description of the different habitats. Alice Springs Desert Park is one of the 'must see' spots in the red centre. It has been set up painstakingly to create the various types of desert country.
Sand country, desert woodlands and desert river country are represented perfectly with the amazing backdrop of the West MacDonnell Ranges rising up to the south.
One of the key highlights of the park is without doubt the Nature Theatre. The Nature Theatre runs a magnificent 'Birds in Flight' display twice daily giving aspiring nature photographers a fantastic opportunity to practice their skills. Make no mistake, photographing birds in flight is not easy but having them right there in front of you flying back and forth allows for fine tuning of technique.
We like to challenge our workshop participants so we kicked off the photography with a session in the Nature Theatre. There is method in this madness though.
Without exception, everyone had a ball. Some of the group captured some terrific images and everyone wanted more. It was our way of giving he group a taste of things to come. There were two more opportunities during the week to revisit the Nature Theatre and by the third, everyone was getting 'the shots'. Michael and I were also able to grab some shots as talking during the show is not permitted. Rather than just sit there we had a ball trying to grab that elusive, perfectly focused Whistling Kite or Brown Falcon whizzing past against that magnificent mountain backdrop.
We visited the Desert Rivers Habitat that first day also and, again, birds were on the agenda. Michael and I explained the best techniques and helped the group constant tips on camera settings and technique to attain great images. A number of aviaries are 'walk through' so there is no glass between the photographer and the birds. Patience is paramount along with fast reflexes but, oh boy, didn't I see some fantastic results.
Each of the habitats has a number of aviaries which contain birds endemic to that habitat. The variety is stunning. Australasian Grebe, Western Bower Bird, Red-tailed Black Cockatoo, Australian Ringneck, Black-winged Stilt, White- browed Babbler, families of Masked Woodswallows, the ever present Chiming Wedgebill and many others were the subject of our group's photography in the Desert Rivers Habitat walk through aviary.
Day one also saw us squeeze in a session in the Nocturnal House. This awesome facility is home to many species of snakes, lizards, mammals and birds. The reptiles are presented in authentic displays including the habitat in which they would normally reside. Thorny Devils, Taipans, Death Adders, Central- netted Dragons and many, many more are all available to photograph through glass. Michael and I advised on the correct methods for shooting through glass to avoid reflections and allow for the artificial lighting.
The end of day one involved me presenting an introductory Lightroom session where we also looked at Steven's images taken throughout the day. We discussed file transfer, composition and basic adjustments. Throughout the week I presented two more similar sessions covering other topics including panorama stitching and HDR technique as well as many other trips and tricks. So that was day one finished!!
Tomorrow we head east into the East MacDonnell Ranges for Emily Gap, Corroboree Rock and Trephina Gorge.
Red Centre Photography Workshop and Tour
Every year we head out to Alice Springs in June or July to run the Trekabout Photography Workshops 'Red Centre Experience' photography workshop and tour.
What an awesome week is is too!!
We visit the East McDonnell Ranges taking in Trephina Gorge, Emily Gap, Jessie Gap, Corroboree Rock and much more.
We spend time at the amazing Alice Springs Desert Park where the presentation of Australian desert flora and fauna is second to none. The bird life here alone will have you captivated for hours and hours and .....
We have a special access session at the Central Australia Reptile Centre to get up close and personal with many creatures of various deadliness :-)
Of course no trip to 'The Red Centre' would be complete without a trip to Uluru. We overnight to 'The Rock' and also visit Watarrka (Kings Canyon) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) along the way.
An amazing, amazing week and it's almost here.
For more information please click here...
After rain during the preceding week we were blessed with fantastic weather for a wonderful garden wedding at Noela's Garden in Donnybrook. Fantastic venue and a fantastic couple. Enjoy! Sunshine Coast Wedding Photography is always wonderful.
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