Photographs Waiting to be Discovered…in Capricorn

 
DSC_3333-Edit-2.jpg

When people think of Queensland, there are some common images that will automatically spring to mind. Most will think of the long stretches of sandy beach lining Surfers Paradise, the crystal clear water and white sand of Whitehaven Beach, Heart Reef in the Whitsundays or the towering skyline of Brisbane. If you are a keen photographer, you might also throw in Lady Elliot Island, Lamington National Park and Palm Cove in Cairns.

Each one of these places has a certain magic to them…. and for good reason, however there is definitely more to the Sunshine State just waiting to be discovered and uploaded to your Instagram account!

So where are these places that are guaranteed to make my friends envious you say? All right here in Queensland’s Capricorn Region, part of the Southern Great Barrier Reef. 

Now I’m a person that likes to share, and it just doesn’t seem right to keep all of these stunning locations to myself, so read on to find out my top 5 spots that are sure to generate some #FOMO in your social channels!  

Great Keppel Island

Great Keppel Island is only a stone’s throw from the mainland and township of Yeppoon. It has arguably some of the best beaches on the Southern Great Barrier Reef and the ‘Great’ part is, there are 17 of them so chances are you can have one all to yourself. If you can’t find a postcard worthy photo between the turquoise water, white sandy beaches and the abundant marine life then you might as well sell your camera ;)

If you fancy some underwater scenery, then Monkey Beach is the place to be….or if sea creature selfies are your thing, then I would recommend snorkelling around the old observatory. There are a variety of fish there that are always keen to photobomb your shots. For some spectacular views, you’ll want to try the walk to the top of Mount Wyndham.

Emu Park

There are a number of great beach locations for taking sunrise photos along the Capricorn Coast, but my ‘go to’ location would have to be Emu Park. Emu Park is a sleepy little coastal village approximately 20kms from Yeppoon. There is a rocky beach down near the boat ramp and because of the changing tide, you will always find new compositions to capture. A short walk from the car park and you will find the famous ‘Singing Ship’. The monument is dedicated to the commemoration of Captain James Cook’s explorations in the area but it also serves as a great focal point for photos.

Murray Lagoon

If I had to pick one place in Rockhampton for sunset then this would probably be it. Murray Lagoon is part of Rockhampton’s heritage listed Botanic Gardens, regarded as one of the best in regional Australia. Not only do you get to enjoy great water views, but there is also plenty of birdlife.

The reflections on the lagoon during sunset are stunning and there are numerous places along the banks to frame up the perfect shot. Just watch out for the geese…they can sometimes be a little cranky!

Blackdown Tableland

Blackdown Tableland is a massive sandstone plateau that rises abruptly out of the flat plains surrounding it. In amongst it’s rugged cliffs you will find deep gorges and plunging waterfalls with pristine swimming holes to cool off in after a moderate hike. My ‘must see’ suggestions here would be Rainbow Falls (Gudda Gummoo walk 2km) and the large, unusual pools at the start of the Mook Mook walk. To capture some jaw-dropping views, the best spots are Two Mile Falls (Goodela walk 1.8km) and the main lookout (Yaddamen Dhina) which is right beside the road on your way in to the National Park. 

Carnarvon Gorge

If your friends are hard to impress and you want to really bring the WOW factor then you can’t go past Carnarvon Gorge! This is a location that should be on every landscape photographer’s bucket list. It is a place that I personally, keep coming back to year after year because I just can’t get enough of it.

There are over 27 kilometres of graded tracks surrounded by towering sandstone cliffs. Around every corner you are confronted with views that are worthy of the hashtag #epic and while exploring, it is easy to forget about the outside world. The gorge is also a great place to see a variety of wildlife, with over 173 bird species inhabiting the area and other native animals such as platypus, kangaroos and king parrots. 

Now that I have spilled the beans on some of Queensland’s best kept secrets, the only question left is “Why aren’t you here yet?”

P.S. When you do get here, don’t keep all your amazing photos to yourself. Make sure you share them with us and the rest of Australia using #VisitCapricorn #ThisIsQueensland and #SouthernGreatBarrierReef.

 

Favourite Locations from Tasmania

 

Since arriving back from Tasmania I’ve had a bit of time to go through most of the images I captured and I thought I would share some of my favourite shots and locations with you guys here on my blog.

Tasmania is definitely like no other part of Australia in that it can go from wild and rugged wilderness to pristine coastlines, rainforest, rolling green hills and snow capped mountains all in the space of a few hours in the car. The diversity in landscape makes this place a paradise for photographers and is one of the reasons why so many people from all over the world flock to our island state every year, in all seasons.

For as long as I’ve been a photographer, I have always wanted to visit Tasmania. I also knew that if I ever got there, it couldn’t just be a quick trip. It needed to be for a decent length of time if I was ever going to experience the diverse landscapes that I had seen captured so beautifully by the multitude of other photographers that I follow online. 

IMG_0564.jpg

I came to the conclusion that 9 weeks would be the perfect number for my journey around Tasmania and as you can see by my crude scribblings on the map, I was able to cover a fair bit of ground in that time.

For this post I am going to limit myself to 4 images/locations. I certainly have many favourites but in the interest of keeping this brief and to the point (as I tend to ramble) I will stick to 4 :)

 

Liffey Falls

The walk in to the falls is a moderate grade 1km hike that follows a series of cascading falls down the Liffey River to the main lookout. There are many spots along the walk that are worth stopping at and I found multiple vantage points to shoot from. Liffey Falls State Reserve is located in the rainforest areas of the Great Western Tiers mountain range in Tasmania's north and is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. You are certainly spoilt for choice when picking compositions here and the rainforest colours are sublime.

  Nikon D800 | ISO 100 | f/16 | 19mm | 0.8 sec

Nikon D800 | ISO 100 | f/16 | 19mm | 0.8 sec

Cradle Mountain

This would have to be one of the most photographed boat sheds in all of Australia. Because of this, capturing an original composition of this location is extremely difficult. I visited Cradle Mountain on two separate occasions during my time in Tasmania and it was only on the second attempt that I was able to come away with an image that I was proud of. Due to its popularity, the only time you are likely to get an image without other people in it is at either sunrise or late sunset/evening, and even then you may need to hustle past a few other photographers to find the best spot to shoot from :) Fortunately on my second visit it was pretty quiet and by the time I had waited til blue hour, there was only myself and a friendly couple from Melbourne who were also looking to gets some shots 'crowd free'. From the moment I set up my tripod I fell in love with this tree and I knew that I had to somehow include it in my shot.

  Nikon D800 | ISO 100 | f/16 | 19mm | 10 sec

Nikon D800 | ISO 100 | f/16 | 19mm | 10 sec

Freycinet National Park

Unfortunately I experienced a fair amount of overcast weather while visiting Wineglass Bay in Freycinet National Park. The fact that I was in such a beautiful location but not getting any decent images was starting to get a little depressing. This creative funk lasted until one afternoon on the drive back to camp I decided to go and explore a small beach called Honeymoon Bay. For thirty wonderful minutes the clouds parted just enough so that the sun could light up the surrounding mountains and change the colour of the clouds to beautiful shades of pink and orange. Needless to say I was running around like a crazy person trying to fit in as many shots as I could while the light lasted.

  Sony A7rII | ISO 100 | f/14 | 16mm | 13 sec

Sony A7rII | ISO 100 | f/14 | 16mm | 13 sec

Devil's Gullet

I had never heard of the Devil’s Gullet prior to visiting the area around Mole Creek during our last few weeks in Tassie. A local national parks ranger had told me about it and despite the foreboding name, it sounded like a great place to get some shots. Especially since there had been recent snowfalls on the surrounding mountains. The views on the drive up there were phenomenal and the final lookout took my breath away...literally. The wind was sooo cold. I was a little unprepared for the conditions and I had left my gloves back at the caravan. I have never felt so numb with cold as I did that afternoon, but I couldn’t help but have a big smile on my face while I watched this awesome light filtering through the valley. The light dusting of snow across the tops of these jagged columns really helped to highlight the dark foreground again the pastel colours in the sky.

  Nikon D800 | ISO 400 | f/8 | 150mm | 1/50th sec

Nikon D800 | ISO 400 | f/8 | 150mm | 1/50th sec

If you are interested in knowing more about the above locations and the techniques I used to capture these images please feel free to comment below, use my contact form or you can direct message me via one of my social accounts (Facebook/Instagram).

 

Tips for Photographing Waterfalls

 

I think I may have briefly covered this in a previous post but after recently shooting some waterfalls I figured it would probably be helpful to write about this topic in more detail.

Waterfalls and their surrounding forests are always a magnet for photographers of any skill level due to their serene nature, flowing water, beautiful green hues and glistening rocks. While these amazing locations look beautiful at any time of the day, photographing them can be a little tricky. Fortunately these issues can be overcome with a few easy steps.

As I mentioned above, I recently visited some falls in the Marysville region of Victoria. Being unfamiliar with the area and not knowing exactly what to expect, I arrived at the falls relatively early in the morning to allow time to explore. After a 1km hike through some semi-dense forest I came to the base of the falls. It was a beautiful sight. There was just one problem….The sun was shining down over the falls creating deep shadows and very bight highlights. Whilst these conditions don’t rule out shooting all together, they certainly can make capturing everything in one shot extremely difficult.

Just like any photographer, I love capturing that silky smooth long exposure effect on water. Our problem here though is that the dynamic range in this scene is far to great to capture in one shot without some minor tradeoffs. Yes we can bracket our images at varying exposures and blend them using Photoshop, but the end result can sometimes look a little unnatural. On this occasion I decided to try out a few compositions regardless of the conditions. I had taken the time to walk here, I might as well see what I can capture. 

To try and combat the harsh sunlight around the top of my frame I added a graduated neutral density filter to darken the upper third of the image. Whilst that helped a little it doesn’t give the long exposure effect on the water. To achieve that, I also added a 6 stop neutral density filter to darken the overall scene and allow me to lengthen my shutter speed. Finally, to cut through the glare on the water and rocks I used a circular polariser.

To best capture a scene like this in one shot, I always expose for the highlights. You can always boost the dark shadows in your images to even out your exposure, but you will never be able to recover blown out highlights. How much detail you can bring back in your shadow areas will be determined by your camera and it sensor. For this shot I was using my old Nikon D800 which retains pretty good shadow details so I knew I would be able to bring back the dark areas with only small amounts of noise.

 This is the RAW file straight out of camera

This is the RAW file straight out of camera

  ISO 100 | f/11 | 35mm | 1 sec - Edited and colour corrected in Lightroom

ISO 100 | f/11 | 35mm | 1 sec - Edited and colour corrected in Lightroom

Using these techniques I was able to capture the above image. I have included both the RAW file and the Lightroom edited version so that you can see the differences. Whist it is a true representation of the scene as it was, it is definitely not as pleasing to the eyes as what would be possible without the harsh sunlight. The result is a washed out and overly contrasty image. The easiest solution to this problem is to remove the harsh sunlight. To do this you can either pick an overcast day to come back and shoot, or in my case I noticed that the falls were situated in a valley surrounded by tall trees. All I would have to do is wait until later in the afternoon when the sun had set low enough that the hills and trees were blocking the light, bringing the entire location into shadow. 

Now that our light is completely flat, there are no bright highlights or deep shadows. This removes the need for the graduated ND filter and (depending on how dark it is) the 6 stop ND filter. One tool that I always retain though for shooting waterfalls is the circular polariser.  Despite the lack of sunlight, there is still reflection/glare on the water and rocks and cutting through that will not only improve your image but it will boost your colour and contrast. For this shot I still expose for the highlights however it is much easier to achieve a well balanced exposure due to the flat light.

The below image is from the afternoon shoot. The results are 100% better in my opinion. You can fully appreciate the colours and your eyes are not distracted by the overly bright highlights. I realise that in some situations it is not always possible to wait for a rainy day or come back at sunset. There have been many occasions where I just had to make do with the conditions available as that was the only time I had in that location. If however you have the luxury of time, I would definitely recommend visiting a location initially to scope out the area and compositions, then return when the light is right. It makes our job as photographers so much easier and it can take our images to the next level.

Summarised Tips

  • Shooting in flat, even light will always yield the best results
  • Always use a polariser
  • Graduated and regular ND filters can help control uneven lighting situations
  • Expose for the highlights
  • Always shoot in RAW to give you more editing power in Lightroom when it comes to boosting shadows and reducing highlights
  • Check out your shooting location ahead of time to work out where the light falls and the best time of day to shoot. 
 ISO 100 | f/16 | 24mm | 0.4 sec

ISO 100 | f/16 | 24mm | 0.4 sec

 

2017 Projects In Review

 

I realise that 2017 isn't quite over yet but I'm normally not very organised when it comes to writing blog posts so I figured I'd get on top of this while I think of it :)

Photography for me is a dream job and it is a profession that I hope to have the privilege of continuing in for a long time. Since taking my photography business full-time this year, I have had some fantastic clients and worked on a variety of projects ranging from aerial photography and video, 360 VR tours, event coverage, workshops, landscape prints, client Google Street View updates, portraits, formals, real estate photography and a few others.

One project in particular though stood out as the most enjoyable, the most challenging and the most rewarding. This job was shooting new destination and tourism images for the Southern Great Barrier Reef (SGBR) region. SGBR is the combined regions of Capricorn (Rockhampton/Yeppoon), Gladstone and Bundaberg.

Despite some monsoonal weather and a few other hinderances, I feel that I came away with some great images that will hopefully get put to good use in marketing these three amazing regions.

While most of you probably follow this page for my landscape photography... commercial photography actually makes up approximately 90% of my business. To give you a little taste of my work in this space, I have included a few of my favourite images from the recent SGBR tourism project.

Comments and shares are very much appreciated.

 

The Importance of Photographic Prints

 

The majority of us view images these days on our computers and phones, but it is becoming increasingly rare to actually view a physical copy of that image in person. 

While I love admiring landscape and travel photographs posted to Facebook and Instagram, the experience can't compare to viewing an image in print. Especially when it's a large print.

GalleryProof.jpg

There is something about seeing a physical representation of an image, the texture of the paper and the depth of colour that adds a completely new dimension. Even if you have seen the photograph before online, I find that its almost like seeing the image again for the first time.

Late last year I visited world renowned Australian photographer, Ken Duncan's gallery in Erina Heights, New South Wales. This was a revelation to me. I, like most people don't often have my work printed. Yes I have a couple of images hanging on my walls at home that I love, but the majority of my work can only be seen online.

Walking into Ken's gallery opened my eyes and gave life to a new inspiration and desire for photography that I had never felt before. It brought about the realisation that printing completes the cycle - From the eye of the photographer and the process to capture the image, to the digital post processing and finally the printing to create a piece of art. 

 60x40 Canvas

60x40 Canvas

In our digital society, photographs are shared/consumed online and within 24 hours they're gone. Printing your photography gives your images a life of their own. They no longer have an expiration date. For all the work that goes into making an image, it's a shame that after the initial post to social media, they then sit on our hard drives, never to be seen by anyone else again.

If you are a photographer, whether as a hobbyist, enthusiast or professional - you need to experience your own work in print.

While I know that 85-90% of my work will continue to be in a digital format, I don't think it will ever compare to the addictive rush of seeing a completed large scale print. 

To finish off, check out this great video from one of my YouTube favs Peter McKinnon on why you need to be printing your photos.

If you are tired of looking at that empty wall in your home or the office, please consider browsing my galleries for the perfect image to complement your space. My work comes in a variety of sizes and mediums ranging from canvas, metal and standard fine art prints.