In 2012, we were informed of the Epson Pano awards just before we were due to fly to New Zealand. I chose some images very hastily and managed to get 1 silver and 3 bronze awards.
In 2013, I utilised a secret weapon to help me choose images : Marianne! I am one of those photographers who finds it difficult to separate the emotion attached to a given scene from the end result. I believe that this results in biased and sometimes ill-advised selections for competition purposes. After browsing the 2012 winners’ galleries, Marianne and I sat down to choose four images. All of those received silver awards. I added another two monochromatic images, one of which scored a bronze, the other a silver. Overall, we were ecstatic with the result of 5 silver awards and 1 bronze award from the 6 images entered into the amateur nature division.
I thought that it might be useful to show the context behind each of these scenes to show why a panorama was taken. I would not consider myself a ‘master’ of panoramas but I do know that I when I choose to do a panorama for the wrong reasons, it more often than not turns out to be a ‘ho-hum’ image. Some of those ‘wrong reasons’ include : “ I just want to fit everything I see into this scene”. In this situation, the panoramas I have taken often do not have a focal point nor do they have a start and end point. Another wrong reason is “single frames aren’t doing it for me here, I’ll just try a pano!“. It’s probably self explanatory why this approach doesn’t usually work! With that in mind, here are the four images which ranked in the top 50 and a brief rationale behind them including the lightroom catalogue screenshot! (images tagged as ‘yellow’ are my code for panoramas in lightroom so you can see which frames were used for the final result)
As you can see from some of the top frames , the mist was the main attraction of this magical, subzero morning at Glenorchy lagoon. There was a thin band of particular interest with the fall colours enveloped in mist and the swans in the water. Below this were a few distracting reeds, above this was plain sky. Hence the use of a long lens to capture that ‘band of interest’. The images in between were those taken by Marianne at another location shouting to me to come over! Charlotte meanwhile was asleep on my back.
#29 The Catlins River Valley
You can see from the top frames taken at Nugget point that it was a rainy, overcast day. When I returned back to our accommodation in the valley, there were beautiful periods of breaking light in between showers which led to the rainbows that you can see in the middle images. Once again, there was a thin band of particular interest with the light falling on the lush green hills and in particular, the sheep. This was also taken with the 70-200 from across the valley.
#9 Motukiekie beach
This image was taken as I was exiting the beach with an advancing tide. I visited this location twice during our trip. On the first occasion, we had spectacular light but unfavourable tidal conditions and the rain had been absent from New Zealand for some months after a prolonged drought. This waterfall was barely flowing. On the second occasion, a low pressure system had brought steady rain for several days preceding. Unfortunately, low tide coincided with 1pm which meant that there was little in the way of dramatic light. By the time I was leaving the beach, there wasn’t a part of me that was remotely dry , not even the lens. You can see that for some of the frames I took a couple of exposures mainly because the moisture made them unusable. In the end, I let the water just film over the lens and this made the overall image softer. The black and white conversion reflected the conditions on the day : dark and dramatic. The idea for composition was to have the water flow from right to left and out to sea. The rest of the day was spent drying up and entertaining Charlotte indoors!
#4 Robe Obelisk
This was just one of those special mornings that etch their way into your long term memory. After settling down to a great predawn at Robe jetty, I noticed that behind me, the clouds were glowing even brighter! I ended up chasing the light and speeding off to the end of Cape Dombey to witness this scene. In my haste, the last frame on the right was slightly blurred hence I only used the first five images. I knew that when you shoot wide angle panoramas of 180 degrees or close to, straight lines in the sky will appear arched as was the case with this band of advancing cloud. The anticrepuscular rays were also astonishing for me as I had never seen them this clearly before. This was my favourite entry and I was very excited to have scored a place in the top 5 🙂
The top 50 in open and amateur sections of all categories in the competition are literally filled with inspiring images. So if you haven’t paid the site a visit, go ahead and spoil yourself over at http://www.thepanoawards.com
Since our return from New Zealand in May, we have tried to venture around our local environment with a view to obtaining images which are different to those we have photographed ourselves or those we have seen from other photographers. There are a few ‘hotspots’ for photographers around Adelaide , notably the coastline. Putting a different spin on some of these areas has been a great exercise in either exploring the area further or exploring photographic options with deeper thought. These are some of our forays with a brief story behind the images.
After extended periods of rain, the lower two waterfalls at Waterfall Gully really start to flow. I have already taken quite a few images of these falls and wanted to achieve something different. One of my favourite elements of waterfall photography is capturing the way water splashes off rocks. Instead of a rock, I inserted myself into the scene (with plenty of warm clothes and a thick towel on standby after the 10 or so attempts it took to get this right!)
After the Waterfall Gully effort, I wondered if I could put the same principle into practice with a seascape! Basham’s Beach at Middleton has some very dramatic rocky outcrops but once again, I had been here several times already and wanted to try for originality. It so happened that a 52 week project on flickr had its theme for the week set at ‘Still Water’ which gave rise to this shot. Because I don’t have a good remote shutter release, let alone one that might withstand salt water, I took a timelapse of this scene as I did not know how long it would take for the water to settle after I broke the surface of the pool.
In 2012, Marianne and I took our first trip ‘upriver’ to Mannum in winter. We loved the tranquility and peace away from home and the scenery around the Murray River, so we decided to partake in the very South Australian weekend away up-river again this year. This time, we headed to Barmera along the southern shores of Lake Bonney. The weather during this particular weekend was wild and cold and Charlotte was also a little ill at the time. This meant that we couldn’t explore as far as we would have liked but the lake is home to fantastic landscape opportunities and the night skies are clearly visible when the cloud abates. Incidentally, I have noticed in our recent catalogues that we have been taking far fewer very long exposures. Personally, I’m going through a phase where I like to see texture in clouds and water but on this weekend, with Charlotte running around, it’s actually easier to set up a long exposure before turning my attention to her for the duration of the bulb exposure. These are some examples of long exposure images from that all-too-brief weekend away.
The South Australian countryside is strewn with old, unused buildings with a rustic and aged charm. This hall at Bondleigh (20 minutes from Callington) made for a beautiful subject in quite different conditions. On my first visit, I was hoping for a good sunset but ended up with drizzle and greyness. On the second visit, the Perseid meteor showers made an appearance though in the wrong aspect for shooting the milky way. Nonetheless, this was a great evening out spent with local photographers Peter Fuller, Joel Dawson and Kelli-Ann Maddern. I will be looking for more of these locations and would welcome any suggestions!
Lessons from the field
Marianne and I have been trying to create a series of tutorials stemming all the way from field capture to the final product. I chose to visit Ingalalla falls to record a video regarding waterfall photography. Unfortunately, one of the lessons learned about using external microphones is that you need to remember to turn them on! I ended recording alot of hand gestures with no sound but may still produce the video with a voice-over though that lacks a certain authenticity. Finding a different aspect to photograph the falls was also a challenge so this was my attempt from the top of the falls.
The Landscape Impostor
One of our ‘bucket-list’ locations for the future is Karijini National Park. I would love to see the waterfalls cascading through narrow canyons with the vibrant rock colours and textures. Thankfully, closer to home, we have a miniature version to fulfill these needs for the time being. Mannum falls is located about 10 minutes drive from Mannum. After a short walk from the parking lot followed by a slippery scramble , you will end up at some picturesque rock pools at the end of the falls. At the time of this visit, the falls were barely flowing but this meant the rock textures were well exposed for me to attempt my Karijini impersonation.
Home sweet home!
Lastly, while it seems like we’ve done a fair bit of travelling lately, most of these shots have been taken on a premeditated weekend opportunity with limited planning. Luck had to play a large role in getting good conditions and when luck was not evident, we had to improvise! There have been an amazing number of striking sunrises and sunsets which I have seen from the window of our loungeroom while playing and feeding Charlotte in the early hours of the morning. These are just as fulfilling from a different standpoint. Nowadays as Charlotte looks at daddy gorking out the window, she is learning to appreciate and tell me about the ‘pretty clouds’ 🙂
Our next stop is as guest speakers at Merredin for the WAPF annual meeting! Another report from that trip as well as a round up of the Epson Panorama awards will be the topics of our next posts. Thanks for reading!
A new year is upon us and like millions of others out there, Marianne and I have joined in the collective resolutions of all would-be self improvers. I wonder what fraction of these resolutions come to fruition or persist until December 31? Only time will tell. Photographically, we wanted to keep the fun and mystery of shooting while hopefully producing some portfolio images. As such, we have both embarked on a project 52. My project centres around my weekly travels as part of a ‘destress’ program after a long week of work. I will try to get to places I have not previously photographed or perhaps document familiar locations in different ways. Marianne’s project will focus on creative visions of our home surrounds , which will be dominated by Charlotte’s toys! We will try to keep you up to date with our intentions and results. Many of the images will be snapshots more suited for a diary, others will be planned landscape shots, and hopefully others still will be completely new to us.
Mr resolution begain early at 8pm on new years eve. Since our household is usually fast asleep by midnight, I thought I would buck the trend and walk the town leading up to the new year countdown. My intentions were to create a timelapse video while taking some stills of the scenes where I had set up the other camera for the timelapse frames. In between locations, I tried to experiment with hand held long exposures to create a rapid sense of motion between the scenes. These are some of the end results of week 1:
The timelapse video:
Some stills from the night:
Marianne’s week 1 resolution was to try taking some images of Charlotte using our gopro. After years of using point and shoot cameras and DSLRs where feedback is immediately apparent, we have found it hard to take stills on the gopro without that feedback. This picture was one of a series taken on a 42 degree day in Adelaide , the likes of which seem to be more frequent this summer!
There are so many locations in South Australia I have yet to visit. Many of these are within a 1 hour radius of my house! Since the construction of the southeast freeway years ago, access to Lake Alexandrina has never been quicker. At 4am in the morning, I can be on the shores of the Lake within 1 hour from hom . I had previously visited Milang on several dawns but had not ventured to Clayton a few kilometres further south. After doing some virtual scouting on google maps, I headed down hoping for some good light on my one weekly opportunity. Unfortunately the skies were a little too clear for colour but the sense of calm was as peaceful as ever.
Marianne’s week 2 centred around Charlotte’s development. Recently, she has started trying to sing ‘Old Macdonald had a farm’ , rich with impersonations of animal sounds. Some of her favourite sounds include an emphatic ‘BAAA’ for sheep and ‘AHRRRRR’ for tigers. Our lawn has also recently taken root over summer with some explosively green results! These were the themes for this image.
This most recent week gone by has been a combined effort from the both of us. We were given the privilege of photographing a three month old baby of dear friends. This is always a challenge due to the relative lack of control over the situation. The further challenge was that one of us was minding Charlotte while attempting this shoot! If there’s one thing we have learned from baby shoots, it’s that once baby has had enough, the baby has spoken! Also during this week, I went in search of a sunset at a local spot which I had not previously photographed. These are some of the results.
We hope we can keep this up for the rest of the year and hope to keep you updated 🙂 As a preview, 9 of the weeks should be taken up by travel shots, 5 of the weeks with wedding images and the rest of the weeks will reveal themselves accordingly !
Cheers! Until we next have the resolve to type 🙂