Rodney Campbell's Blog

Scoping Ross Jones Pool…

by on Oct.01, 2014, under Life, Photography

Located at the southern end of Coogee beach, Ross Jones Memorial Pool is a man made ocean pool. It was built in 1947 and is located next to the Surf Life Saving Club. Waves from Coogee Beach spill over the concrete walls of the baths during high tide and rough seas.

I’d shot at Ross Jones Pool here in Coogee once before with the Focus group but my friend Gerry hadn’t been here before so we met up here early one morning for a shoot.

The clouds looked somewhat promising early on but the tide was crap (a mid tide and rising) – I reckon this place would be much better at either high tide (preferably) or maybe low tide with more rockage next to the pool exposed.

Complimentary

Complimentary

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 45 mm, 154 sec at f/9, ISO 100

Firstly – there’s this unspoken etiquette amongst landscape and seascape photographers. You don’t just go putting your tripod in front of other peoples setups and you make sure when you’re moving to new spots in the scene that you’re not getting in other peoples shots – ask first – it’s just plain polite…

This place must be cursed… the first time I was here I was setup with half a dozen other photographers all in a row along one side just above the pool. We had cameras on tripods taking shots when a small film crew arrived with their RED camera and they just came down and without a word setup their tripod and stood literally directly in front of ours – I’m talking just 1m away right in front of my tripod. How rude is that…

Fast forward to today and this time it’s a photographer who arrived after us (by this time there were four togs here already shooting) and this guy just waltzes in and sets up his tripod right out in the middle of the scene. If you look in the horizontal shot below you see there’s this main pool which is filled with water and then on this side there’s a second pool (which is not because the tide is too low). He sets up right out in the middle of the second pool up near the front corner with his tripod up as tall as it can go and he stands there so he’s basically in everyones shot. He must have been in the zone because subtle jabs about being in peoples shots, etc had zero effect.

So the rest of us had to make do with trying to compose him out (or compose so I can clone him and his tripod out)… Sigh… some people are just thoughtless and rude…

Note: These images (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

The first shot above is from way up on the walkway above the beach and pool shooting down. I was looking for a simplified composition with just part of the unique telltale Ross Jones pool wall jutting into the corner of the frame. I think the colour version is too busy for what I was trying to achieve but still I found the colour effect was interesting. We have the deep blue of early twilight (it’s 5AM and about 40 minutes before sunrise) and at the bottom a mass of yellow toned scene tinged by the very strong flood lights which light the pool at night.

The following shot is from the walkway on the next level down and much closer to the level of the pool. It’s only 15 minutes later but the ambient has brightened significantly.

Golden Wall

Golden Wall

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 45 mm, 62 sec at f/11, ISO 100

A couple minutes layer and the high powered pool spotlights have turned off and we’re left with just a little light pollution from the street – it’s Lee LittleStopper time…

Blue – Light and Dark

Blue - Light and Dark

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 32 mm, 216 sec at f/8, ISO 100

and who can resist a little selfie action with those cool concrete blocks surrounding the Ross Jones pool

Me & Myself

Me & Myself

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 31 mm, 1 sec at f/11, ISO 100

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The Coal Loader…

by on Sep.29, 2014, under Life, Photography

The Coal Loader on the western side of Waverton peninsula is a location where many paths of history intersect.

It was first a place of physical and spiritual sustenance for Aboriginal Australians. The Cammeraygal people lived on the peninsula for thousands of years.

The Coal Loader, itself, is a former industrial site that operated from the early 1920s to the early 1990s. It functioned primarily as a transfer depot for coal from bulk carriers to smaller coal-fired vessels.

I’d heard about this location before and since I was in the area shooting sunset I figured I’d drop by in the dark and do a little reconnaissance.

Up top an elevated platform structure housed a large coal stockpile. Beneath the platform are a series of tunnels, each with a number of chutes through which the coal was transferred into coal ‘skips’. The skips operated on a cable-hauled railway system that ran as a continuous loop through the two western-most tunnels and then out onto the finger wharf in Balls Head Bay, where they loaded waiting steamers. This loading system was replaced by a high speed conveyor in the mid 1970s which then serviced ships carrying export coal until 1992.

The site operated for over 70 years before being decommissioned. It was dedicated as public open space in 1997 and formally transferred to North Sydney Council in 2003.

The Coal Loader has now been transformed into the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability and was officially opened in July 2011.

I wasn’t expecting to find one of the tunnels lit at night so it was out with the tripod and gear for some shots in this fabulous long stone carved tunnel.

I was hoping for a location where we might try some light painting at night – it’s probably too well lit for most light painting but I reckon some steel wool might be viable – will have to head back one night…

After checking out the tunnel there was a reasonable amount of water on the ground at the southern (further from the entrance) end so I got down low on the tripod for some nice reflections.

This was also my first time using my new (extremely inexpensive) Kood slot in graduated neutral density filter. The one I have is a 3 stop soft grad (because I didn’t have any soft grads) and it was only $38 delivered from Cooked Imaging in the UK. I’ll do a full review of the filter at a later stage.

What Lies Below

What Lies Below - The Coal Loader

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 35.00 sec at f/10, ISO 400

and this is the view from the northern entrance – I particularly like those whisps of soft green ferns growing in the cracks on the right and left.

Coal Loaded

Coal Loaded

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 35 mm, 31.00 sec at f/11, ISO 400

With a native exposure of around 30 seconds @ f/11 and ISO 400 we should be able to easily do a minute at f/8 and ISO 100 which should be fine for some brighter light painting – like steel wool or maybe an orb.

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Lighting the Bunkers…

by on Sep.27, 2014, under Life, Photography

Having just finished light painting the first of the WWII Bunkers on North Head I convinced Gerry to explore a little more and check out the second bunker further up the coast.

Things got very tricky getting to this second bunker – after scrambling down half a cliff we finally made it to this more awkwardly placed bunker placed partway down the side of the hill.

This one was far less interesting than the first bunker – it was much smaller, had very little interesting graffiti, it was essentially just a half open concrete box.

Still we’d scrambled here so we figured we’d make do. Time for some more light painting.

This shot is pretty simple really – a single take super long exposure (486 seconds), some red light inside the bunker (for part of the exposure) and both of us providing some EL wire flow coming down the rocky path from the bunker towards and under the cameras. First take and we’re done…

Fire in the Pit

Fire in the Pit

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 486 sec at f/8, ISO 100

and another take from exactly the same position. This time blue torch inside the bunker along with Gerry adding some selective directional light from the side. Had to do a number of takes on this one – the first was way overlit and the second almost worked – third is a charm – top work mate…

Blue Eye

Blue Eye

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 309 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

Standing there waiting for our stuff to finish tho gave me time to look around and what was starting to interest me much more was the funky stuff going on out in the sea. We were setup precariously close to the edge (it’s pitch black so we can’t actually see how bad or high it is – I’m sure during the day it would be more “interesting”).

Out in the water you could see these white lines everywhere in the water but even more interesting right up close to the shore where the water was crashing into the rocks underwater it seemed like the point where the water was hitting the rocks below was literally lighting up. It was like some sort of underwater bio luminescence. Gerry was trying to convince me that it’s just due to the water churning up and bubbling more air but I was thinking some sort of microscopic bioluminescent organism being churned at the edge because it appeared to be lit from within and emanating light briefly.

So we climbed up onto the roof of the bunker and shot down into the ocean below. This shot is the last of the night – an unusual take to be sure…

Luminescence

Luminescence

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 18 mm, 184 sec at f/5, ISO 1250

One it was composed pretty much on luck… I couldn’t see at all through the viewfinder so I simply pointed my camera in the right general direction, ensured it was horizon level using the camera’s built in electronic level and pointed downwards appropriately by feel :)

Secondly it’s a very long exposure (over 3 minutes) but shot almost wide open (at f/5) and at high ISO (1250) with no filters at all and it was still about four stops underexposed – shows you how very dark it was out there.

Of course in my long exposure you can clearly see my band of blue bioluminescence :)

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WWII Bunkers – North Head Lightpainting…

by on Sep.25, 2014, under Life, Photography

Gerry joined me for a light painting session with the WWII Bunkers on North Head.

These WWII bunkers are located on the easternmost point of Sydney’s North Head at the entrance of Sydney Harbour near Blue Fish Point – the area is close to the North Head Water Pollution Control Plant, the Former North Head Army Barracks and Manly Hospital.

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

The bunkers were part of a set of coastal batteries and other fixed defences protecting Sydney Harbour from the early 19th century until the 1960s. These defences were constructed to protect Sydney from attack by enemy warships and submarines.

All Fired Up

All Fired Up

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 65 sec at f/8, ISO 100

I’d originally intended this to be a session primarily to shoot the stars (either the milky way or star trails) with the bunkers as foreground interest. The conditions were looking promising – we were near the new moon and the moon was setting early and during the late afternoon the sky was completely clear and even sunset was particularly forgettable with no clouds in the sky.

We met at the car park as close to the area as we could get and walked over to the coast. Unfortunately soon after we’d arrived the clouds which were no-where to be seen during the day started to roll in. We’d only just taken a few test shots to adjust our compositions with the stars and to ensure we could see the stars given Sydney’s light pollution, then the clouds came in force ending our hopes of trails. Before that it was actually looking quite promising with nice long trails when shooting eastward too.

Fortunately we’d come with a backup plan – we’d brought some light painting kit – EL wire, coloured and plain torches along with steel wool…

Plan B – light this sucker up

The image at the top is a merge of three separate exposures:
– one for the WWII Bunker itself and the sky, stars and clouds. This base shot was actually the last of my test shots for star trails – an 82 second exposure at f/4 (wide open for this lens) and ISO 1250. This provided the overall ambient exposure – with the building lit nicely during the long exposure at high ISO (light pollution bouncing back down from the clouds). See the base shot (Bunkered Under the Stars) below
– one for the steel wool spin inside the building and shooting out of the two windows on the left and right (f/8 at ISO 100)
– another for the steel wool spin up on the roof of the building courtesy of Gerry (also f/8 at ISO 100)

To do this I opened all three as layers in Photoshop with my base shot as the top layer and the two steel wool spins below it. I applied a Screen layer blend mode between the two steel wool shots to “blend” the two and then applied a Linear Dodge (Add) layer blend mode to my top base layer to create the blend of all three. A couple Curves and an Exposure adjustment layer later and we have the final result.

Bunkered Under the Stars

Bunkered Under the Stars

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 82 sec at f/4, ISO 1250

Then it was time to get all spooky with some EL wire

Ghost Bunkers

Ghost Bunkers

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 478 sec at f/8, ISO 100

again this is a merge of three separate exposures:
– one very ling exposure for the EL wire work around the WWI bunker along with the ambient sky and clouds. Gerry on the EL wire on the right of building and me on the left plus flowing towards the camera at the front and up on the roof. This base shot (487 seconds at f/8) I let run well past us finishing the EL wire work to let the ambient burn in a little more. Even with an 8+ minute exposure it was still very under exposed so I had to rescue it in post. In hindsight ISO 200 at f/5.6 would have been more sensible but we only did one take because we couldn’t be stuffed with another ten minute redo :)
– one where Gerry lit just the building and the shrubs to the far left and right using some extreme side lighting (also f/8 at ISO 100)
– and finally one for Gerry’s steel wool spin inside the building and shooting out of the two windows on the left and right (f/8 at ISO 100)

Similar to above I’ve opened the three images as separate layers in Photoshop with the EL wire as the top layer, the lighting of the building as the middle layer and the steel wool on the bottom. In addition to Screening the bottom two layers and Linear Dodge on the top layer I’ve used some layer masks to selectively paint out bits of the layers below I didn’t want.

…and again here is the base shot with just the EL work on the WWII Bunker.

Ghost Ship

Ghost Ship

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 478 sec at f/8, ISO 100

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Light the Night…

by on Sep.23, 2014, under Life, Photography

On the weekend my daughters (and their school dance groups) danced on stage as part of the Leukaemia Foundation’s Light the Night event here in Sydney (#LightTheNight).

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

Light the Night is an inspiring twilight walk to help the Leukaemia Foundation fund research to cure blood cancer forever.

We gathered with family, friends and colleagues to shine beautiful lanterns of hope:

– Gold, to remember a loved one
– White, to reflect on your life with cancer
– Blue, to support others

Giving Hope

Giving Hope #LightTheNight

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/80 sec at f/2.8, ISO 4500

NIKON D600 + 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 @ 190 mm, 1/400 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1250

NIKON D600 + 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 @ 155 mm, 1/320 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1800

NIKON D600 + 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm, 1/400 sec at f/4, ISO 4000

NIKON D600 + 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 @ 200 mm, 1/400 sec at f/3.5, ISO 6400

NIKON D600 + 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 @ 125 mm, 1/250 sec at f/4, ISO 1100

NIKON D600 + 70.0-200.0 mm f/2.8 @ 102 mm, 1/250 sec at f/3.5, ISO 2800

Light the Night

Light the Night #LightTheNight

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/80 sec at f/2.8, ISO 8063

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