Colour Casts – the digital age

After recently purchasing an old film camera I can seriously appreciate the ease of digital photography. Being able to ‘fix’ errors in photoshop later and adjust colours and exposure encourages a whole new approach to how you take photos. I have found over the years as my photoshop skills and exposure increases I will compose my photos and adjust settings with the photoshop actions in my mind – i.e. I will assess a scene and think “Yes, this isn’t going to look so great on the camera, but with some contrast and saturation and a couple of dodge/burn layers this could be great” and it’s this that I’m talking about.

The other great thing about photoshop is knowing that you can alter a picture so that it looked exactly as you saw it yourself with the naked eye. Photographs (in my mind) should be natural and a reminder of what you saw when you were in that spot – I don’t like over saturating and “creating” new skies and all of that just to make a pretty picture.

The below photos are shots taken at Trigg Beach in Perth and were taking using a Lee Big Stopper Filter to reduce the light and allow a soft water/cloud movement. The negative effect of this filter is that it adds a colour cast to the shot – you can see by comparing the photos that the overall effect is rather green, especially noticeable on the otherwise cream sand and limestone rocks. It detracts from the colour of the sky and is unnatural to what a human eye would have picked up at the scene.

Enter Photoshop.

I used Image>edit>match colour>neutralise mask to change the tones in this image (cs5) and then played with the exposures in certain sections of the rockwork and the sky. The second image shows more natural colour and is truer to how the ocean and sky looked that day.

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Exmouth & Karijini National Park

Over Easter, we took an extended break to dip our souls into the red dust of the north west of Western Australia. We drove from Perth to Exmouth in a day and left at the exciting hour of 2am to reach Exmouth early so we weren’t driving Suicide Drive at dusk. What’s “Suicide Drive” you ask? It is the treacherous stretch of road that goes into Exmouth and during the last few hours of light is inhabited by all manner of suicidal animals including and not limited to: goats, sheep, cows, kangaroos, emus, goannas, snakes, birds, rabbits and foxes. It is a dangerous stretch of road and I’ve heard it is difficult not to hit something on the way in during an afternoon. Luckily we got through with no worries and got to Exmouth at about 3pm.

A cracker sunrise put good light (haha) on the trip:

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On the way through to Exmouth we stopped to re-fuel and get some lunch at the Overlander Roadhouse. We parked down the back under the shade provided by two big trees that were completely covered in Butterflies.

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I had a checklist of “things to see in Exmouth” and one of my top priorities was a Perentie. This giant goanna is the largest native to Australia and the fourth largest in the world making it a pretty impressive creature. They are referred to as the “Lizard King”, are an apex predator and therefore afraid of practically nothing. This makes them fairly approachable for photos as long as you don’t get too close (Perentie toe nails would be a nail technician’s nightmare). We were lucky enough to catch one crossing the road; it was young and very clean, showing off its great markings and trademark white throat. It tolerated us for a few minutes before shifting into 4WD mode and running into the bush.

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The fishing was not so great in Exmouth unfortunately; limited to the land we threw hard bodied lures, soft plastics and stick baits around with very little luck. But what a paradise! The water there was crystal clear and a beautiful aqua blue. We didn’t make it to Turquoise Bay (got to leave something for next time!) but I found Sandy Bay pretty impressive:

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As a photographer and not having much experience in this part of the country I was especially excited to watch the sun rise out of the water. In Perth it rises over the hills and sets in the water but I have never seen a sun rise from the ocean. It didn’t hurt that the sunrises in Exmouth were beautiful either.

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And then it was time for the trip to Karijini. I have been wanting to get to Karijini for years, even before photography became a focus for me. What a place! We timed our trip to Karijini a little earlier than the prescribed “on” season in the hopes that going close to the end of the wet season would mean plenty of reptiles and lots of great clouds. Being there only a few days meant we didn’t get to experience much change in the weather and the first few days were cloudless and an easy 32 degrees during the day and 16 at night. On the last day the clouds were fantastic and we heard that they were expecting heavy rain to arrive soon.

Arriving on Easter Monday it seemed a lot of campers had left by that stage and each day more people filtered out and no one new seemed to arrive. There were a few big groups of European touritsts but the most likely visitors were young couples and young families. We camped in the eco retreat in Grevillea Loop, site 95- a great spot as we were completely secluded from other people and right at the front of the loop- closest to the showers and the BBQ block.

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We had 3 full days inside the park but the last day was taken up with West Oz Active’s “Red Gorge Tour” so we tried to make the most of what we could see and do in 2 days.

First stop was Hamersley Gorge. About an hour’s drive out of the park and well worth the visit! I think it was the most beautiful gorge with its purple hews and beautiful green water.

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Then we used the afternoon to visit Hancock Gorge – the gorge I fell in love with when looking at other people’s photos. I couldn’t wait to get through it and it didn’t disappoint!

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We got up for a sunrise at Joffrey falls but the light didn’t come across and stayed a very muted colour unfortunately:

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So we popped around to Kalamina Gorge which whilst simple, was still very pretty. I think I liked the view of the water from up top the best:

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And to finish the day off we stayed and watched the sunset at Oxer’s Lookout.

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Day 2 had us down to Fortescue Falls, Fern Pool and then we circled back across Fortescue and into Dales Gorge then continued on to Circular Pool. Unfortunately we didn’t get to Fortescue Falls or Fern Pool early enough and half of each waterfall was cast in deep shadow making it impossible for good photos. When I go back to Karijini, I will ensure I am there at sunrise for well exposed photos.

Took an above view of the falls on our way back to the carpark at around 2pm.

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Circular Pool:

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And a last sunset at Knox Gorge. This was a better choice than Oxer’s only because we had it to ourselves and Oxers had been full of people and it was difficult to take long exposures on the platform.

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Do you self-sabotage?

Hi, my name is Imogen and I am a self-sabotaging photographer.

Signs you are a self-sabotaging photographer:

-         Over planning destinations to photograph

-         Saving images from google and award winning landscape photographer’s websites and basing your trips around these stunning locations regardless of impracticality

Effects of self-sabotage:

-         Being angry when conditions are not the same when you arrive as said award winning landscape photographer’s photos

-         Leaving a place feeling deflated and disappointed you didn’t get the shots you wanted

-         Perhaps shedding a tear when the extended hours of sunrise photography have worn you out and you STILL haven’t seen colour in the sky and probably never will

-         Frustration explaining to non-photographers why your trip was ruined

This is me.

I have done this possibly for every trip I have been on since 2010 when I joined forces with my Canon DSLR. It is disgraceful…completely unreasonable and absolutely impossible NOT TO DO. I simply must do it.

My main fear is that I have not researched the best positions for sunrise and sunset photography and therefore will be unprepared on arrival at an unfamiliar destination but I take it too far. TOO FAR. I delight in self-sabotage and the need to stunt my creativity in finding unique vantage points and compositions and it is truly disgusting that I continue to do this to myself.

My main reason for this post is that I am planning a photographic journey through Western Australia’s Karijini National Park and this park is so huge with 7 wonderful gorges to explore that I simply HAD to know which ones were best due to time constraints on the visit. This, you think, is a good idea – I should know where to visit first and where the best sunset vantage points are and good sunrise locations and, and, and…. And should I? Or…..should I leave it up to chance, be a true explorer and just follow the light? I believe this is called “winging it” and is a term I have always been 100% uncomfortable with when applied to photography. But I think it’s time I stepped outside my comfort zone and left my OCD fears behind me. Karijini will supply the goods I’m sure of it.

Posts of Karijini to follow upon my return. 

..Wow that was a really long boring post for people who are not me to read. I can only assume that you stopped after the first sentence and deleted your subscription. To those of you who read the whole thing… you deserve medals. 

Trigg Beach

Another stop past Trigg Beach on saturday night (8th March). Arrived just on sunset and was flustered due to the sheer amount of other photographers there! It was one of those rushed evenings where you just have to pick a spot and hunker down rather than having the freedom to change your position and point of view. I was a bit sneaky and got in right behind someone to take a few quick ones, but I gave up and decided to shoot abstract instead. This is my second time shooting with the Lee Big Stopper 10-stop filter and I love,love, loooooooooove it! Also didn’t have time to calculate my exposure so did it in my head and hoped for the best- came out a little underexposed and needing fixing in photoshop.

I love this place!

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The best places in Perth to photograph landscapes…

One of the things I often find myself using google for is pinpointing great places in Perth to shoot sunsets and sunrises. Sometimes you are limited (as small as Perth is!) by geography and just general awareness of those special spots that encompass many of the things that make a great photo. For me, these things are:

1. Colour

2. Lights

3. Water / reflections

4. Symmetry

5. Leading lines

6. Movement

Obviously these things would make many photographers happy but few places exist where you can tick off more than 3. Recently I took my camera gear down to Trigg Beach and was amazed that I had never before made the effort to photograph this place with all its beautiful exposed reef and rocks and it occured to me that there must still be so many great places in Perth that I haven’t been to yet. Now, we’re just talking Perth Metro here – i.e. 45 minutes drive from Perth City… let’s not even get started on the South West!

When I lived north of the river, one of my favourite places to run down to after work was Lake Monger. If you get there early enough you can capture the swans on the water otherwise you can set up in a miriad of locations to catch the sunset. It’s a great body of water that is large enough to give different views and points of interest along the way.

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Another location that is easy to get to (obviously depending on your location) is Kalamunda. Here you have views of the city from up high – beautiful views of natural Australian bushland either from the lookout at Gooseberry Hill or on the ZigZag – if you do go with the zigzag, beware that it is one way only and just slightly wider than one lane with limited pull over stops. I prefer the lookout on GH personally, having had more luck there in the past. You can also park there and walk through the bushland off to the right to get to other lookouts.

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The Setting Sung

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Of course, one of the most visited places during Winter/Spring is Araluen Botanical National Park in Roleystone. A little further, but well worth the visit if you’re a tulip fan!

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Hillarys in another location I have always liked due to the many different photos you can expect to capture here- you’ve got a lot of restaurants/cafes around which add to the ‘lights’ aspect after dark, plus mooring posts, a jetty structure, rocks, water with sunset views…the list goes on!

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The swan river of course is a brilliant landmark to use for sunsets and sunrise photography in Perth – many structures sit on the water not to mention the backdrop of Perth’s city buildings (let’s not call them sky risers because they’re just not). Probably the most over done spot is the Crawley Boathouse (I have STILL not got a good photo from this location and find it very off putting!). It’s a rickety little walkway out to the boathouse which is quite sweet in the right light..otherwise it looks plain ugly. I would google this location to see the masterpieces people have created with this location; I’m just not up to the task.

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Like I said, I only took my first visit to Trigg recently but I know that this spot has massive potential. Also, google images told me so.

TRIGG BEACH

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OK guys. This is my favourite, favouritest -ever- winter spot for sunrises (I’ve never bothered to shoot a sunset here because the sun would set behind me out of view…maybe I’m missing something huge?) It’s the jetty in applecross… It’s nearer the canning bridge side on The Esplanade and is simply beautiful. Take note: a popular fishing jetty, jogger lookout point and mooring station for boats – try not to get too annoyed! I have also lost 2 lens caps here so try and be more organised than me! There are other jetties in applecross that I haven’t tackled yet… would also like to try my hand again at the Canning Bridge/Raffles area.

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Another great sunrise location is Matilda Bay. Ahhh, Matilda Bay. Many failed mornings here with no colour to be seen and also a complete lack of cloud. WHY. There’s nothing worse than your alarm forcing you out of bed at 4.30am on a saturday to be available for a sunrise shoot when nothing happens. Anyway, there have also been some truly magical moments from this spot as well.

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Whilst we’re in this area, let’s not forget Kings Park please. It’s a ridiculously beautiful lookout over Perth City not to mention beautiful naturescapes in every direction. This is a much better sunrise location, but if there’s plenty of cloud around the sunsets can be rather stunning as well – the photo below was a sunset so you can see how the colour can come across (although again…google image search this location) – this is another place that I really want to crack so I’ll be back here at some stage during 2014 perfecting this shot. Another great lookout of Perth City is from the South Perth Foreshore…. I haven’t captured anything worth showing from that spot but there are many opportunities to be had there, including the narrows bridge and the Old Swan Brewery plus another jetty.

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I also haven’t been to this place much either…just the once for photography…but what a night! The sunset was unreal and I have also seen some beautiful sunrise pictures of Cottesloe Beach. Well worth a visit!

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Lesmurdie is another good spot (similar surrounds to Kalamunda) for a Sunset view though I haven’t been there often. The place I have been to is Lions Lookout. Lesmurdie falls are also a good spot for photos – going during a week day will limit the amount of people around too.

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Fremantle..another iconic spot in Perth although again not one I have ventured to photographically more than a couple of times. 

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These are the only places I am happy to recommend so far because I have not explored (and nailed!) other locations. Hopefully throughout 2014 I can add to this list!

Happy shooting!

x

My favourite pictures of 2013… a year in review

2013 is well and truly behind us now and 2014 brings with it a whole new list of adventures! 2013 was not a huge photographic year but did see many new fluffy and scaly additions to the family which shortened the opportunities for photographic excursions. If anyone has raised a puppy like a child…they’ll know what I’m talking about. So this year my top photos are less landscape based than I would like but beggars can’t be choosers. The highlight of 2013 (both personal and photographical) was definitely the family trip to Kununurra – what an absolutely stunning place…book a trip immediately.

Hopefully 2014 brings more landscapes into the equation. 2013′s gear was a Canon 6D (love, love, love!) my 100mm 2.8 Macro, 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.8 and I was finally able to ditch my horrendous 24-105 f/4 for the 17-40mm f/4 which I am enjoying immensely on the full frame.

These are 2013′s best shots: (to visit 2012′s year in review please click here)

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Scales

For something a little different, here is a photo of my sister holding one of my pythons. He’s the biggest one I have at the moment and he is a South West Carpet Python named Tom. Originally, he was very snappy when he was young and we called him Snappy Tom (after the cat food) and the name stuck. Now he’s settled he’s just “Tom”. He is a tad on the temperamental side and enjoys a good intimidating hiss and exhibiting the well known “S-bend” when woken up. He’s only three years old but behaves like an old man.

I think he looks lovely in black and white :)

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