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Sunshine in winter

For the last two years now, we’ve headed up to Queensland to escape the Adelaide winter (not that it’s that severe). Each time, we’ve been blessed with variable conditions. This year’s trip was an extended family trip to the Sunshine Coast where we were based in Tewantin. This made it a great base to explore Noosa Heads National Park in particular. I’ll explain the rationale behind some of the images from each location.

Day 1: Morning at Dolphin Rock.

The reason I wanted to visit this location was due to its influence on my early photographic ‘career’. I had seen numerous images of this rock at Point Cartwright by flickr contacts and wanted to see it for myself. Given how short our trip was, I had no option to plan appropriate tides so I really had to deal with what I was given. Thanks to rough directions from Brisbane photographer Martin Canning, I was able to find the rock very quickly after parking the car at the nearby lighthouse car park. The timelapse below shows an advancing tide with the evolution of light. My aim was to capture dynamic motion flowing over the rocks and eventually, to capture a sunstar image based on the ‘tip’ of the dolphin’s nose. I managed to catch up with long time flickr friend Adam Randell here as well.

Sunstar over Dolphin Rock at Point Cartwright

Day 1: Raining light at Noosa heads

On our first evening, we walked to the first cove along the coastal trail at Noosa Heads national park. While we were exploring the area looking for crabs and other wildlife with the kids, I spotted a group of rocks which I thought might light up well at sunset. As a downpour occurred which sent the rest of the family running for cover, the area was lit in a haze of orange and gold which I tried to capture with my hastily scouted foreground elements. ¬†Due to the rain, I shot most of these images without filters and gave the kim wipes a great workout to keep the shots clean! Unfortunately, this was the last shoot with my Sony A7r2 as I fell in the water with it ūüė¶ . I met Stephen Waller by chance here as well .

Light breaking through rain and clouds

The last series of shots before camera death!

Day 2: Smooth Granite

On the following morning, I was on a bit of a downer as the camera had not managed to revive itself overnight. Nonetheless, I did bring two bodies on this trip (1 for timelapses). My goal for this particular morning was to scout the coastline along the northern shores of the national park. The tide was high which restricted many opportunities but I settled for photographing the smooth granite boulders at the appropriately named Granite Bay. There wasn’t much light on offer due to thick bank of cloud on the horizon but an after dawn, the sun finally made its appearance. I wanted to capture a long exposure with accentuation of the foreground rock patterns leading toward the tall granite boulder. This was best achieved as wide as possible using the Laowa 12mm lens. I also wanted to capture golden light falling upon the rocks but during a long exposure, I would have been very limited by the huge dynamic range involved with attempting this as a single capture. I therefore blended the long exposure shot with a few shorter exposures for the light on the rocks taken without any filters on.

After I had finished shooting at Granite Bay, I did some scouting for potential evening shoot locations. I decided to take some travel oriented shots of the many surfers at Tea Tree Bay enjoying the beautiful winter sunshine.

A blend of several long and short exposures to accentuate the smooth textures and light. Long exposure taken with 10 stop ND filter.

Image with ND filter on the left for smooth skies and water. Image without filters on the right for the light on the rocks

Tea Tree Bay in the early morning

Day 2: Suburban Forests at Buderim

During the day, we took the kids for an easy rainforest walk to the base of the waterfalls at Buderim . We found it remarkable that such lush scenery could be in very close proximity to surburbia. There had not been much rain in the preceding week, hence the waterfall was barely flowing. I noticed light falling upon a fern in front of the waterfall and set out to photograph the scene with the fern framing the waterfall. It was quite difficult to obtain this perspective and I ended up having to take my ballhead off the tripod and wedge it on to a rock to keep it steady while taking these 0.3 to 0.5 second exposures. The morning made for a great family outing with relatively easy access. Thereafter, the kids had fun at the Ginger factory before we returned home for Jaime’s (our 3 year old) nap.

Serenity Falls at Buderim Forest.

A video of the girls fun activities in Noosa.

Day 2: Reflections from Tea Tree Bay

This set of rock pools caught my eye as I was walking back from the morning shoot, so I had an easy destination to head toward in the evening. It was fortunate that I had scouted the position earlier in the day as I nearly missed sunset due to the parking madness at the National Park on a Sunday evening. Fortunately , after stalking some departing surfers, I was able to find a park and dash off to Tea Tree Bay. For the earlier image (middle) I had set up to photograph a focus stack with foreground rock and sky frames. While waiting for the light to evolve however, I found more appealing shapes in the same area and photographed those instead. Unfortunately, in the rush of moving around, I did not focus stack so there are some soft elements to the very immediate foreground.

Portraits of the light at Tea Tree Bay

Day 3: Paradise undiscovered

This was to be my last morning of shooting on the trip. I had read about some caves along the Eastern Beaches but knew it might be a little dicey to reach them since I had not scouted the area and would be approaching in the dark. After a couple of false trails leading to cliff faces, I found my way down to the shoreline north of Alexandra Beach and looked around in the dark for the caves. It turns out that one of my false trails in the dark was actually the right trail ! Next time i’ll know where to go to get into the caves proper but for this particular morning, I kept the shoot relatively dry and watched as a grey dawn turn gold yet again once the sun peeked through. All in all, it was a great short break which I found very refreshing since Noosa is a much more relaxed part of the world than the Gold Coast. In between family outings, most of the coastal locations were relatively to access with lots of different possibilities at dawn and dusk. Hopefully , we will return in the future!

The waves can really crash hard at this location – I chose to play it safe having already lost one body for the trip.

Long exposure panorama of the churning coastline at Paradise Caves (to the left of frame)


June Jaunting

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)

Golden Skyline taken at dusk with Nisi 10 stop filter

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.

1 minute exposure after dawn , taken with Nisi 6 stop ND filter and 3 stop hard edged GND

  • 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).

Moran’s Falls panorama

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.

Reflections 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!

Gwongurai Falls ( I think!)

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.

Fleeting rainbow at Box Log Falls

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.

Exposure blend of 2 images taken from Q1 observation deck. Video explanation below

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.

Panorama of 30 shots put together : explanation in the video below

  • 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.

This shot of Surfers Paradise looking south toward Broadbeach was taken with a sad face

  • 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.

An attempt at photographing glow worms (focus stacked) with the waterfall beautifully lit by the moon above.

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.

Currumbin Rock(s) dominate the scenery

Waiting for the right wave at Currumbin (shot from on top of the smaller rock)

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.


Tasmania Adventure part 2 : On a whim

Continuing on from our departure from the Labyrinth, we once again had a tired discussion about what to do for the following three days. As commercialized as it is, I wouldn’t have minded embarking on the three capes walk but that would have meant removing the option to fly at the end of the trip if we wanted to keep things cost neutral. ¬†As it turned out, the weather was pretty dicey for the rest of the trip anyway!

Wednesday evening was a quiet one spent getting clean and not even attempting any shooting. Somehow time skipped past and an intended early night turned out to be reasonably late. It was one of those sleeps where not two seconds after falling asleep, you’re being awoken by an alarm, in this case, an ever enthusiastic Francois inviting us to get up! The skies did not look promising with heavy bands of showers passing over the entire state (though unfortunately not necessarily where the fires were located). Nonetheless we headed out to the Tasman Peninsula well before dawn and Francois took us to check out a cool spot at Fossil Bay where the opportunity to photograph giant waves with golden morning light could have occurred had the light been conducive. Instead, we opted to wait it out at the Tessellated Pavement as the rain swept past. While the guys slept in the car without optimism, I went down to the beach anyway , not expecting any light but more just to get out there and give some spite to Norman.

Initial greyness at the Tessellated Pavement

While I was setting up , light actually began to build as the rain and clouds cleared directly out to the east while behind us the gloom persisted. I had taken a series of shots and decided to try out the 16-35mm F4’s image stabilisation capabilities. I tried going to as low as 1/3 second at 16mm but not a single shot turned out tack sharp. They were probably OK for some social media web presentation.

Light on the pavement!

Francois photographing the waves while I was testing IS on the 16-35mm F4

Francois photographing the waves while I was testing IS on the 16-35mm F4

As we left the pavement and headed toward Fossil Bay again, I thought I had misplaced my filter pouch! In a moment of panic, I drove back to the pavement while the others stayed to photograph crashing waves. After revisiting the beach and cursing the dark side of human nature upon the THIEF who stole my pouch, I wandered back up to the car and had less of a panicked boy’s look. And there it was sitting in a gap between seats with the imaginary face of Norman full of cheerful spite. By the time I returned to Fossil Bay, I wasn’t expecting to stay long as the guys had been photographing for a good half an hour by this stage. However, the hypnotic pull of large waves and backlit green seas meant that we all stayed shooting that little bit longer while our stomachs grumbled. The nisi filter holder system here was quite advantageous as I was experimenting with polarisation and different densities of ND filtration to achieve crisp waves or direct splash action.

Longer exposure with Nisi filter setup

Shorter exposure with polariser alone

After a hearty breakfast, we embarked on what was meant to be a short walk to Crescent Bay in full sun. From here, Francois had been eyeing direct long lens shots of Tasman Island from the beach. We soon found that the most direct path to the beach traversed private property and so, do-gooders as we were, we decided to walk around the property. This very quickly degenerated into a disoriented bash through scrub following indistinct wombat pads through the bush. Finally, after uncountable switchbacks and reaching walls of scrub, Luke’s phone saved the day. We had reception and a version of pdf maps application found us a way back to the original path which was really only 50m from where we were! By the time we reached the beach, it was a good hour after we had planned but the sun was beating down and beckoning a dip. And so we were headed until we climbed the last dune before the Bay and were mesmerised by the green/blue waters below. Only Francois and I headed down to the actual beach as we spent more time shooting from above. I’ve definitely bookmarked this spot for future family summer visits! We even tried our had at boarding down the dunes on a left over real estate sign and sheet of perspex¬†. I had visions of ‘Rey’ from Star Wars on a salvaging mission returning home with a triumphant slide down the dune which ended up in a frustrated bum shuffle that went nowhere …..I believe one of the guys may have that accompanying video .

Francois wandering down to Crescent Bay

Light over Tasman Island from Crescent Bay sand dunes

A late lunch was gobbled down at Port Arthur Lavenda while I hunted for some gifts for Marianne. It was then , that the weather started to turn sour as the rain which had been dodging the area finally settled in. Dramatic clouds flew in as we debated whether or not the sunset was going to survive. While this was happening, I hoped to add to Francois’s backyard panorama collection by taking one of my own! I no longer have the motivation to take #dbreezied shots from my backyard given the setting of his. After many thoughts to and fro-ing, we decided to head to the Mortimer Bay fence. To cut a long story short, we got wet, I got to test my makeshift garbage bag raincover (which worked) , Francois did an ‘instaceleb’ routine for us, and Norman again, smiled sardonically at us.

Poking fun @instaceleb shots

With the weather that was around, we decided the best option was to photograph waterfalls the following day. The following day once again arrived after seemingly another 2 minutes of sleep which was actually a few hours. Francois and I decided to chance it heading up to Mount Wellington in the hopes that the clouds would clear. They didn’t , and we ended up sleeping in the car until after dawn. As we were driving back down, it appeared that the forecast for rain was true and all that was on show was grey cloud. After picking up Tim and Luke, we then headed to Secret Falls in heavy rain. As we approached, it was apparent that all four of us would not be able to photograph each of the waterfalls so we split up into pairs with one of us holding an umbrella for the other while we took our images. Luke and Tim apparently acted as good bait for leeches as Francois and I were not troubled by them! Both falls steadily grew in flow during the time we were there and though I struggled to find anything original to photograph from that location, it was still great to see this beautiful spot which lures photographers like flies to a popular flower.

Luke and Tim teaming up at Secret Falls , while leeches rained down upon them !

Secret Falls

Myrtle Gully Falls

As we were heading out, thunder and lightning were roaring all around us as we made a quick trip to Strickland Falls as Francois had a family deadline to meet. On the way, we noticed mammatus clouds , mmmmm, mmmmammmatus. Strickland Falls is in a bit of a mess with recent fallen debris from upstream so if I were to give one a miss on a future trip, this might be it!

Strickland Falls

Can you say mmmmmammmmatus?

As we drove home for a relaxing afternoon, the last of the leeches finally fell off in Francois kitchen…. Francois surprised the three of us with fresh pairs of dry, non-stinky socks which was HUGELY appreciated. From the week of dampness, I still ended up with a case of athelete’s foot on my return home but no doubt this kind gestures at least stave it off for a little while!

Thunder and rain roared overhead as we headed back out to Mount Field National Park. We were hoping that the dryness we had encountered during our initial walk around Lake Dobson would be remedied by the constant rain. Indeed when we arrived, water was flowing briskly and the forest was looking at its moist, green best. The only competition we would have for compositions were a trio of Irish (who we somehow became convinced were having a threesome party at the back of their motorhome???) who seemed to be either on a funded marketing campaign, or were just very happy to strip down while being filmed by a rig of four simultaneous gopros .

Russell Falls and Horseshoe Falls are among the most photographed falls in Tasmania and it’s probably quite difficult to capture anything resembling a unique angle. Nonetheless, I went for it and placed emphasis on exploration rather than photographing what I know could be effective. Besides, I had always wanted to find my way up to the second tier of the falls and it was surprisingly easy to follow a pad in that direction. Rain and spray made it difficult to take an effective image but I have ideas to return here with direct sun and hopefully some mist in the future (not asking too much of mother nature of course!).

Second tier of Russell Falls

Russell Falls from above

By the time I had reached Horseshoe Falls, it was already nearing on 8pm and light was fading. It looked like our plans to walk to Lady Baron Falls would not come to effect as is often the case when you get lost in trying to create works of art ! My 16-35mm had already been dampened with a screw on CPL and the Nisi CPL wet beyond its ability to take clean images. As a result , I had to think differently to take images of Horseshoe Falls with the 24-70mm and ended up opting for a few sets of panoramas. Surprisingly, despite a barefoot dip in the water, no leeches for me! By the time we had finished photographing, it was well after sunset and nearly dark. A dinner worthy of Argentinian timing (after 930pm) was yet again gobbled down before we yet again ended up sleeping later than intended.

Horseshoe Falls : Panoramic view with the 24-70


At the risk of sounding like a broken record, that night’s sleep also literally felt like 2 minutes worth! Somehow Francois manages to have that ‘I’ve slept 8hours look’ about him at 4am in the morning but I’m pretty sure the rest of us look like its 7th consecutive day with sleep shortage! Charged with some milo (since I bucked the trend of caffeine and alcohol on this trip) and sugar, I offered to drive initially to Boomer Bay where we had scouted out a boatshed with a remarkable resemblance to the Crawley boat shed in Perth. As we arrived though, there was a boat right in front of the shed, and the conditions seemed better out North toward Marion Bay. Zooming along so as not to miss light, I missed the fact that there was a huge depression in the dirt road as Francois’ Subaru Liberty went airborne before landing with not so much as a skid. Believing that we had escaped damage, we set off from the car park as fast as we could as the light was peaking while we were parking! The beach itself is a drainage point for a tanin filled stream which , after the rains, was gushing out into the sea. It was a case of shoot now or miss the light!

Marion Bay as light was peaking

Thereafter, things calmed down as the light faded to a small region on the horizon. I wandered over to where Luke was shooting and started shooting a stray piece of driftwood which we all ended up congregating around. I’m sure this sort of thing happens frequently¬†on photography workshops, but having never been on one, it was a novelty for sure!

A popular piece of driftwood for the morning!

As luck would have it, the light really broke through the cloud spectacularly as we were walking back. I don’t think I have any awesome shots from this location but I wonder if Luke does!

Luke and some late light!


We were on a bit of a high following the good light we experienced, one of very few moments during our trip. This bubble was quickly burst when we noticed a flat back left tire, undoubtedly from our little airborne experience an hour ago. Fortunately some holidayers at the car park were able to loan us a pump to reinflate the tire temporarily as we drove slowly back to paved road. The air pressure seemed to be holding as we headed toward Sorell to reassess its progress. We were met with a ‘she’ll be roight’ from the tire guy as the pressure did indeed seem to hold though we would find out after the trip that it was indeed a slow leak. The rest of the morning was spent working out the logistics of our flight including how we might make ourselves some lens hoods to stop reflections from the plane windows. After several suggestions of black cardboard all the way to a black flower pot, we somehow arrived at the allegedly genius solution of using a felt top hat from the dollar shop with a hole cut at the top.

Having never done any aerial photography (apart from a joyride over the Barrier Reef on our honeymoon), I was basically setting the bar low for any images I would personally get so I was happy to sit wherever people didn’t want to. Luke seemed particularly pumped about the flight and was probably feeling more pressure than the rest of us to produce some good images given that he was the one who negotiated our flight through Tourism Tasmania and Par Avon Wilderness Flights.(

Our flight was slightly delayed as we settled into our crammed seats with Luke aside our pilot , Tim and Francois in the second row, and 60kg lightweight me in the back. The first challenge was encountered very early  : the top hat setup was too large for me use as a lens hood so I ended up not using it at all. This was compounded by the fact that there was significant turbulence flying close to the mountains . To combat this I would anchor the lens onto the window using my left hand flush on the window ; again precluding the top hat use! The next limitation was that there were only moments of brightness so I decided to take off all of the polarisers from my lenses once the bright sun disappeared behind cloud after the first half an hour of the flight. Shooting through glass was also a challenge due to the reflections in the windows from either stray light or my supporting hand. The major limitation of the flight for me struck about 1 hour into the flight just as we were entering the mountains as the constant live-viewing and turbulence conspired to bring on air sickness. As a result, for large portions of the flight, regardless of light or scenery, I had to sit looking at the horizon while waiting for blasts of cool air whenever Luke opened his window for some top down shots. These short bursts of cool air seemed to temporarily relieve the nausea. The following images are part of a series of 800 odd images I took during the flight , some of which were spray and pray series during severe  turbulence over the Arthurs. My go to settings were iso400-800, F4-5.6, shutter of at least 1/1000.

Lion Rock on the south coast. One of the last shots I was able to take with a CPL due to available light falling off.

Federation Peak and the Eastern Arthurs. This looks like a great one to do from the East though I’m dubious about actually summitting Fed peak.

Lake Oberon and the Western Arthurs with Mount Sirius in the foreground.

Patches of light from above. Mount Anne was covered in mist so we flew straight on to Lake Gordon.

Dead trees in Lake Gordon

Damage from the Strathgordon fire. It was no wonder the access roads to the Arthurs were closed off.

Wearing my ‘top hat’ and the Cessna we flew in

By the time we landed, it was just about sunset and despite the light that was developing, we didn’t really have the energy to take images overlooking the Tasman bridge. Instead, we headed back to Salamanca to meet Nick Monk ( for a quick drink. Naturally, we were #dbreezied.

#dbreezied, Salamanca style!

Salamanca was full of the kind of crowd who at our age , made us think that we were too old to be there. Indeed on several occasions a few of us were randomly denied entry on account of our attire. Perhaps my top hat would have sealed the deal? We discussed all sorts of things related to photography with the highlight being Nick’s @instaceleb hand drawn series of images . We introduced Nick to the concept of ‘nutscapes’ and challenged him to combine multiple aspects of instagram fame into a single glorious satirical piece. ¬†Perhaps the head of a canoe pointing into mountains with an overblown sky and two hairy , out of focus balls hanging from the top with a caption listing a random brand name and sponsor? On our way out we encountered an American tourist after the ‘real beer’ and none of this ‘craft beer’ he was experiencing in Salamanca. Fortunately we had Nick to point him in the right direction.

The next morning, we hoped that we might catch Norman unawares and experience a golden dawn from atop Mount Wellington. Unfortunately Norman was well and truly aware of our plans and gleefully greyed¬†out the summit until just the very minute we descended from the mountain. Eager to capture some light, we did eventually end up at Signal Station overlooking the east side of the bay. I think we were relatively spent by this stage and only took a handful of images before settling for a fast food breakfast. Thereafter, it was a repack into lighter bags than when we started and we parted ways after a week of constant decision making we never thought we’d had to do.

Signal Station , and signing off from Tasmania for this year!

Despite the challenges, I thoroughly enjoyed myself on this week away with the guys . We were all very grateful to Francois and Erin who put us up and fed us from time to time and I’m very grateful to Luke for having brought his metabones else I would have literally done no shooting during the trip! I like lists, so here’s a random lists of things I learned from this trip to sum things up.

  • I learned that I could travel with other people without going crazy, though travelling with other photographers made me want to take images that they weren’t . This meant that we wouldn’t all end up with the same images. I think this mindset made me think laterally more than I otherwise would have
  • I learned that the Tasmanian landscape photographic community¬†as a whole, are very passionate about preserving the unique landscape and this passion rubs off on you just by being in their presence.
  • I learned that with a positive frame of mind, Tasmania has plan B all the way to Z so it doesn’t matter if plan A has been ‘Normanised’. If you have your own inner Normans to deal with, just laugh at him and pretend he wasn’t there to begin with and any plan will then be a good one.
  • I learned a lot about how different people work a scene whether it be how to proficiently take panoramas (Tim) , how to consider timelapses (Franocois) and the benefits of infra red photography (Luke).
  • I learned that not matter how much easier life seems without the kids and Marianne, I was very eager for to see them on my return. And it seems, they were too ūüėČ

Next up, the trip video! (and planning our next little getaway to Kangaroo Island for 5 days)

The Western Arthurs from above and path we hope to walk with our own boots one day!