June has been and gone with a trip to the gold coast to show for it. It was our first visit and we were lucky to be visiting during the off season which meant that accommodation was cheaper and we did not have to battle crowds (in most places). During this trip, I tried to film some ‘field’ explanations of what I was setting out to achieve from a given scene and hoped that this translated into final results! I have processed some of the images with many more to come. This was a brief travel diary of our trip .
Tuesday 14th June:
- 5am wake up call, last minute packing and preparations. 6am kid rousing attempts. 715am departure for airport.
- 11am : Arrival to rain and grey skies at Gold Coast airport. General loafing and shopping for groceries until 3pm check in to our house at Surfers Paradise.
- 5pm: First sunset shoot from Evandale Park. The sky was nice but not spectacular facing west. I experimented with short exposures all the way to using 6, 10 and 15 stop filters to prolong the exposure by which time I ran out of light to play with! Plans to photograph twilight images were spoiled by a dump of rain and haziness. In the rush to pack up, my S3 fell into the Nerang river never to be revived! That kind of sucked since I had already downloaded my ‘viewranger’ (GPS app) maps and routes for Lamington National Park. The following image was taken with a 10 stop filter. (All ND filter shots on this trip were taken with Nisi filters)
Wednesday 15th June:
- 5am: Departure for Fingal head to arrive well before dawn. No star shots were possible due to rain , heavy rain and more rain. I spent most of the pre dawn time huddling under the vegetation there (with the fisherman you see in the image below) . Then just at dawn, it started to clear. No light at first, but I was happy to scout the location for future visits. And then, just as I thought the morning was done, the light finally did break through ! After a series of short exposures and attempted panoramas, this image was taken with a 6 stop ND filter for a 1 minute exposure (with rapidly moving cloud). The misty appearance of the water might give you an indication of the churn that was going on down there.
- 9am : We headed out to Dreamworld in not so good weather. En route, picked up a new phone from JB Hifi which Marianne set up during the drive. The rest of the day was spent visiting the theme park until the kids were getting tired and just generally ratty. By 3pm, they were asleep in the car on the way home. The following is a trip video from which much of the kids footage was taken from the Dreamworld visit.
- 5pm: we hit the seaside market at Cavell street. More fun with the kids and a dinner out and about. After dinner, the main task was prepping the phone for route finding purposes at Lamington National Park.
Thursday 16th June:
- 430am : Departure for Lamington National Park hoping to arrive there in time for a dawn shoot at Moran’s Falls. After the very winding (but epic) drive in the dark , I missed the trailhead for Moran’s Falls and had to guess from viewranger as to where it was. It turns out I missed the car park in the dark! It was too late for the ‘ole lantern illuminated selfie but the falls were beautiful from above. Walking in the cool water helped refresh my sweaty feet after a half jog to the top of the falls. The following image was blended from 18 shots (6 frames of 3 exposures).
Breakfast back at the trailhead at 730am and it was time to hit the Toolona creek trail! My turn back point was Chalahn Falls in order to allow me enough time to photograph some of the waterfalls and head back by afternoon to family activities. It took a TON of willpower to press on directly to Chalahn Falls instead of stopping at every turn to photograph the amazing scenery. Thanks to the GPS giving me some sense of destination, I arrived at Chalahn Falls to some beautiful muted light at 9am and spent the next hour photographing these iconic falls. I brought my waders to use at each of the waterfalls and did not regret it. The neoprene boots gave far more traction than boots or bare feet so I felt secure the whole time. Though 5 minutes getting in and out of hiking clothes and the waders for each falls was a bit of hassle! This is one of many frames I took of Chalahn Falls.
On the way back , I wanted to make a decent fist of Elabana and Box Log Falls knowing that it would be pushing midday ! Indeed, due to stops at Gwongurai Falls and Triplet Falls, I arrived at Elabana Falls in bright sunshine!
Pushing on to Box Log Falls, a mist rainbow greeted me around the corner. Rainbows are so fleeting that by the time I set up to take some shots and put my waders on, my initial shots were all that captured the rainbow while patchy light made shooting quite difficult here.
Elabana Falls was partially in shade by the time I returned from Box Log Falls and I spent a good hour wandering around various viewpoints there. My turnaround time of 1pm was already upon me and it was time to leave with a sad heart. I would have loved to take the Canungra creek route for more waterfalls but that’s for another day (full day). By the time I had half jogged back to O’reilly’s rainforest retreat, I had eaten my 4 trail bars and a coke and giant sausage roll disappeared in the depths of my growling stomach literally within 1 minute.
- 5pm: After arriving back to the kids having woken from their afternoon rest (already), we headed to skypoint observation deck for some evening cityscape shooting. Marianne’s self invented lens skirt worked wonders for cutting our reflections as I took several long exposures to achieve trailing clouds and car trails at twilight and blended them using photoshop’s lighten mode . Thereafter, we ate dinner out at one of many asian restaurants there accompanied by pre meal grouchy 2 year old tantrums.
Friday 17th June:
A morning in for us all with a good sleep in to be had by all. Despite the grey morning there was still a little light breaking through. The plan for the day was to visit Springbrook national park to see how much we could cover with the kids in tow. We had a dinner date to be back for that evening with some friends from Adelaide who were coincidentally holidaying in the Gold Coast!
- 1030am: The walk to Natural bridge was a short one and well managed by Charlotte while Jaime was ferried down in our child carrier. There was initial excitement for the kids, followed by restlessness and a growing dislike for the loudness of the waterfall within the glow worm cave. I had one shot at taking a panorama of this beautiful location before heading back up. Along the way, Charlotte spotted some interesting fungi to photograph too.
- 12pm: Lunch at the Springbrook road side of the national park was again accompanied by pre meal toddler grouchiness. By this time, the weather started to look quite threatening as we viewed the canyon below and took a walk to the top of Twin Falls. Some day I would like to do the Warrie waterfall circuit below as well, but not accompanied by children (until they are significantly older). While driving back, everyone else had a snooze in the car as we had made plans for a catch up with friends that evening.
- 5pm: The ‘asian’ in us wanted to maximise the use of our three day pass to Dreamworld and Skypoint , so we headed up again to kill time before dinner. The plan was to shoot south with a similar approach to the previous evening. It was at that stage that two things happened. Firstly, I tripped and managed to fall on my 15 stop ND filter – gone, busted. Secondly I noticed that my filter holder was missing…..knowing that the Natural Bridge was the only location I had used it, I wondered if by some miracle it would still be there . Marianne gave it a 5% chance. After the disappointment, dinner at Sizzler (which is no longer in Adelaide) did pick things up somewhat for the relived novelty value.
- 9pm: Kids were asleep and I drove out to Natural Bridge. 5% became 100% as by some miracle, no one had picked it up from the exact spot I was photographing the panorama above! I noticed that there were already busloads of tourists were already gathering to visit the glow worm caves. Mindful of fatigue and the fact that there were flashlights going off everywhere, I gave myself one hour to photograph some long exposures but would like to return without interference some day. It seems that a visit coinciding with clear skies and a full moon is a great time for viewing the cave as the waterfall is eerily lit while the glow worms glitter away. 12am and sleep came quite easy.
Saturday 18th June
530am : A brief sleep and a quick trip out to Currumbin. The rock formations there were amazing and I managed to get some shots of the rock, some water motion and the distant skyscrapers of Surfers Paradise in the background. It seemed a popular spot for a surf ! It was a good shoot to finish off the trip photographically.
The rest of the day was spent taking the kids swimming followed by my return favour to look after the kids while Marianne took care of some retail therapy solo. I wonder if Marianne’s little trip to Harbour Town was more productive than my photographic two days prior! It was a quiet dinner in to finish our leftovers as the forecast for rain in the next 24 hours predicted up to 100mm of rain. That night, I spent my time backing up all the images and keywording them in preparation for transfer back on to my working PC at home.
Sunday 19th June:
Transit to home and back to reality.
Brief notes on gear:
- Nisi filters were used for practically every one of these shots except for the rainbow shot. 9 months into the first set of filters and they are all going strong with little sign of wear and certainly nothing that would make me consider taking them off for fear of image degradation. To date, I have not had any issues with the filter holder falling off (which was an initial concern).
- The Kaiser Baas x150 action cam was a quick replacement for our old gopro hero 3 since it had started to malfunction. At half the price of the hero 4, it seemed an attractive option. Unfortunately, the video quality and dynamic range is far less impressive than the go pro. You can see evidence of this in the children’s video above. It tends to randomly change white balance during video clips at times too. The positives are the price, its design which does not make it prone to turning itself on or off (or the wifi being accidentally activated), and its casing means that even in windy scenes or scenes with rushing water, I can still hear myself talking which is important for recording field videos.
- Sony A7r2 : This camera is growing on me. The metabones jiggling is still annoying but not insurmountable. The processing of day time images is fantastic but I still have issues with the way the RAW files handle crimsons and magentas.
- Caddis waders worked a real treat. This was the first trip that I really put them to the test and they passed with flying colours. Comfy, waterproof and the neoprene boot design has two advantages. Firstly, the kit weighs less than 2kg. Secondly, the boots themselves have better natural grip to wet rock than bare feet or hard soled footwear.