Alpine Valley

The road and drive up to Mount Buffalo in the Victorian Alps is one of my favourites in Victoria. The road snakes around the mountain and at various points provides excellent views to both the East and West for Sunrise and Sunset photography. There are lots of opportunities for landscape photography at Mount Buffalo, but some of the best in my experience are actually on the drive up the mountain. This photograph was taken just before sunrise looking into the Buckland Valley filled with fog. When I left my hotel in the pre-dawn dark and started the drive up the mountain I was unsure if there was going to be any opportunity for photography as visibility was so poor. After climbing half way up the mountain I emerged above the fog and cloud just as the sun was about to rise and was able to take this photograph literally from the side of the road. The swirling cloud and fog in the gum trees in the lower left hand corner of the frame provides the depth and dimensionality that make this photograph enjoyable for me. The orange and yellow glow of dawn adds a wonderful warmth and contrast to the cold blue of the fog. A higher resolution copy of this photograph is also in my Australian Portfolio on my website at

Are You Ready? Get Set…. F1!

This is definitely not the normal type and style of photography that I do – But I had a great opportunity this weekend to attend the 2010 Australian Formula One Grand Prix with a corporate ticket and excellent Pit access. It was to much to resist;  and simply had to so some photography. These are just a few of my favourites from the days shoot.

All up I shot over 1200 frames for the day; a fairly small number considering the FIA photographer I was shooting with cranked off that many in a single practice session. This was a very enjoyable days photography amidst the corporate hospitality and electric atmosphere that is Formula 1 .

Locked and Loaded
Ready to Pounce

F1 into the Pits

Lightroom 3.0 BETA Version 2

Adobe has now released the 2nd public beta for Lightroom 3.0. Has it addressed all its users wants and desires? Well.. maybe.. But regrettably there is still no sign of soft proofing – Adobe are you listening? I want soft proofing! I can only hope that Adobe is holding this ‘pot committed’ ace up its sleeve for the final full 3.0 release later this year. Soft proofing aside, there are some very nice enhancements to the new Beta and Ian Lyons has kindly put together a full feature review that is well worth the read for Lightroom users.

Extreme Ice

This post is going to be just a little bit left of centre to the sort of thing I have previously blogged about. In a nutshell, if you have an interest in landscape/wilderness photography and  are even mildly interested or concerned about global warming then I urgently encourage you to watch the PBS  documentary ‘Extreme Ice’.

The Extreme Ice documentary is both photographic in nature as well as politically topical. A small caveat – I don’t intend for this blog to become an outlet for political global warming issues. There are more than enough websites dedicated to this topic for anyone interested.

Extreme ice has been featured on the National Geographic HD channel in Australia in late 2009 and  has seen subsequent repeats early this year (as recently as a couple of days ago I believe). The documentary includes a team up with acclaimed photographer James Balog and scientists to document the runaway melting of arctic glaciers. As director of the Extreme Ice Survey, Balog considers himself a modern hunter-gatherer, collecting vital information to feed a public hungry for real evidence of climate change. His work in this field has put him in some amazing locations and his photographs speak volumes about the state of the world’s glaciers.

You can buy the DVD or the book or even just watch the trailer online at the PBS Extreme Ice Website. Highly recommended viewing.

The Hidden Gems

One of the great things about landscape and nature photography (and in particular photography whilst travelling) is those hidden gems and moments you occasionally stumble across when you least expect it. Because these finds and moments are unplanned there is never an expectation of just how good they might be (It’s not like to going to the Grand Canyon where one expects to get great photographs). Without the chance of an overly built up expectation I find they almost always produce results that are at the very least uplifiting to the photographic spirit and at best that can produce truly wonderful work.

Whilst travelling in the South Island of New Zealand last July between locations we stumbled across a well hidden slot canyon just off the side of the road – A hidden gem as it were. I would wager that more than 99.9% of people driving past this location would never even know its there. There are no signs and no markers of any kind. The only clue is a bridge crossing with what looks at first blush like a cave to one side. As we crossed over the bridge I happened to be looking in the right direction, as was Phillip our guide and I just caught a glimpse of what looked like a really beautiful glacial stream feeding out of a cave. Phillip turned to look at me to see if I had spotted the location; which I had. The excitement in the air was palpable and it must have been written on my face because Phillip had that cheeky look of someone about to reveal something truly very special. As indeed he did.

We immediately pulled over the side of the road, grabbed our camera gear and scrambled down the steep rocky and snowy gully under the bridge where all was revealed. From this vantage point we could see the pristine river flowing down from a stunning slot canyon. We took our shoes and socks off and waded up the freezing icy river to set up our cameras (I have never had feet this cold before – thawing them out afterward in the car was a very painful experience). A light mist and water run off dripped down from the moss and foliage at the top; which was lit from behind by the overhead sunlight. Conditions were perfect for photography and I literally could not wipe the grin from my face.The photograph below is my favourite from the hour or so we spent photographing in this location – which I affectionally dubbed ‘Shelob’s Lair’ – the obvious reference to The Lord of the Rings seemed apt for New Zealand’s South island. Truth is, if Phillip had not dragged me away (quietly kicking and screaming) I would probably have spent another hour photographing in the freezing stream and may well have ended up with frost bitten toes.

It was an interesting choice of how to shoot this as my first reaction was to reach for the polariser to remove any reflections from the photograph. What I concluded in discussion with Phillip was that we both agreed the wet rocks were what gave the whole scene its magic and that removing the wet look and reflections would overly flatten the image. So I photographed this strait with a 24mm lens without any filters. It was quite dark in the canyon despite being lit from directly overhead, so I used a tripod. The exposure was six seconds at F11 at ISO100.  The almost iridescent moss and  lichen combined with the crystal clear aqua of the stream being lit from above really speaks to me as small slice of nature untouched. New Zealand’s rivers and streams are truly stunning in their purity. Its quite hard to see in the small compressed jpeg on screen, but in print the backlit misty water and run off from the top makes the photograph. I also very much like the feeling this photograph invokes for what may be around the corner of the canyon. Before anyone asks – I am sworn to secrecy on the exact whereabouts of this slot canyon – sorry! But I am definitely going back and this time with a set of waders.