Rodney Campbell's Blog

Anzac Centenary…

by on Apr.25, 2015, under Life, Photography

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings by the ANZAC’s (ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). On the 25th of April 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture Turkey’s Gallipoli Peninsula.

Anzac Day goes beyond the anniversary of the landing on Gallipoli in 1915. It is the day on which we remember Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. The spirit of Anzac, with its human qualities of courage, mateship, and sacrifice, continues to have meaning and relevance for our sense of national identity.

100 Years of ANZAC

100 Years of ANZAC

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 45 mm, 1/800 sec at f/4.2, ISO 100

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 official state Dawn Service was held at the Cenotaph in Martin Place at 4:30am, which is believed to have been the approximate time at which the first Australians waded ashore at Anzac Cove on the 25th of April 1915.

Gerry and I got up at insane o’clock this morning to head in to the city for the Dawn Service. So at 2:40AM (after a 1:45AM wakeup for me… shudder…) we met up near Martin Place. Even though the service wasn’t starting till 4:30AM it had been reported that with the massive popularity of this years event – it would be full by 3AM. They were not wrong – by the time we were in there the place was already packed with tens of thousands of attendees – easily the biggest turnout ever.

Finding a position to photograph anywhere in Martin Place let alone near the cenotaph was near impossible. Thousands had been camping out positions overnight and by this time it was easily over 30 people deep. But somehow this very nice couple allowed me to setup my tripod right in front of them to take a number of shots before moving on. They were standing right next to a row of other photographers with their tripods with a great view from the steps across Martin Place.

Faces of Anzac

Faces of Anzac

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 17 mm, 1 sec at f/8, ISO 1000

The Cenotaph

The Cenotaph

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 1 sec at f/8, ISO 1000

Great chatting with you both and thankyou so much for allowing me to cramp your space for a while.

Later Gerry and I headed down to Circular Quay, The Opera House and the Cahill Expressway to shoot what turned out to be a very nice twilight and sunrise. It was looking very iffy before twilight but right on cue the clouds came in and saved the day.

Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 62 mm, 8 sec at f/8, ISO 200

Up on the Cahill Expressway the morning turned awesome around 6:20AM (right on sunrise) and it was another chance to test out my new 28-300mm travel lens as a landscape photographers tool. Here this six frame panorama taken at 28mm is stitched in the new Adobe Lightroom CC (using the Merge to Panorama feature).

Anzac Dawn

Anzac Dawn

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 28 mm, 1.6 sec at f/11, ISO 100 x 6 Frames

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Still Water Reflections at Bilgola…

by on Apr.24, 2015, under Life, Photography

Part two of a nice sneaky sunday morning out with friends Gerry and Deb at Bilgola Beach.

I do like still water reflections – I don’t really ever get to shoot them in the most ideal of locations – a nice perfectly still lake on a calm day. However when shooting seascapes on the coast there are a few instances where you can get somewhat closer. With a largish pool of water which stays undisturbed for small periods of time (before another large wave comes in and ripples everything :)) you can use a longer exposure to render the surface reasonably flat.

It’s not really still water but you can get someway towards the illusion of such.

Reflections of Fire

Reflections of Fire

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 1.60 sec at f/13, ISO 100

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.

One of the tricks with shots like these is to get down quite low to accentuate the size of the reflective surface.

Now that the sun had risen it was time for me to seek other shot opportunities. I don’t normally like to shoot towards or include the sun itself in my frames (once it is up and visible in the sky). I find including the sun too bright and dominating as it’s pretty much what anyone will look at first in any image. Here I’ve tried to add some visual weight elsewhere by filling the whole foreground with this interesting rock covered in sea plants and having the sun right at the edge of the frame.

One

One

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 2 sec at f/13, ISO 100

and an obligatory shot of the Bilgola pool itself, or at least part of it. Shooting away from the sun a bit but still including the colourful clouds and sky I’ve tried to compose something interesting with these nice curved railings and that strong blue edge around part of the pool. My daughter actually likes this shot best from all of the shots from this mornings session :).

Bilgola Lines

Bilgola Lines

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 1/2 sec at f/13, ISO 100

and when things get all bright and harsh it’s time to whip out the Lee BigStopper for one last frame before heading off for breakfast at nearby Newport. Note to Bilgola council – we would have stayed and eaten at the cafe right here on the beach but the expensive per hour parking starting at 6AM here was just outrageous.

Bilgola Big Blue

Bilgola Big Blue

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 245 sec at f/10, ISO 200

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Autumn Colour at Mt Wilson…

by on Apr.22, 2015, under Life, Photography

Headed out for another Sneaky Sunday with Gerry and Deb to Mount Wilson in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. It was the right time of the year again for Autumn Colour (or Fall Color for our North American friends).

I’d been here to shoot Autumn Colour once before four years ago and the colour was nicer and more consistent then from memory.

The weather forecast looked reasonably enticing – potential fog, clouds and increasing rain. We’d planned to shoot Autumn colour at Mt Wilson first up, then maybe some waterfalls and then more Autumn colour at nearby Mt Irvine.

The Avenue in Fall

The Avenue in Fall

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 3 sec at f/11, ISO 100

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.

It was a very early start this morning – we’d planned to meetup at Mt Wilson just after sunrise (6:20AM) and it was a two (2) hour drive from home. I left my place around 4:20AM and picked Deb up at 4:30AM. Gerry had arrived just before us when we arrived in the main st (aptly named The Avenue”) of Mt Wilson. We moved our cars off into one of the side streets so the street would be clear and set to look for some shots.

At 6:30AM I started with a sequence of shots for a stitched panorama standing in the middle of the main street. It’s one of those things you can do when you’re here early enough… Stand in the middle of the road taking numerous shots without being run down :). Something we used to our advantage for the next hour or so.

To be honest we were expecting things to be better, the promised clouds (and fog) were nowhere to be found and the tree’s on one side of the road were essentially already bare (likely rain had smashed the leaves off) and on the other side of the road the colour in the leaves hadn’t fully developed yet. Not just here on this main street part of The Avenue but also on the roads coming into town.

Still it was a pretty enough scene, and one not normally seen here in Australia so it was ready for all the cliche shots of The Avenue in Fall.

This is the stitched pano I took when I first arrived. Eleven (11) vertical frames taken with the 24-70 at 24mm. I didn’t bother bracketing these shots basically because I didn’t think much of the composition or the conditions. Still it stitched fine and it does give you a good view of what the main street of Mt Wilson looks like. You can see here what I meant by the bare trees on one side – right here in front of me in the middle of the frame. You can however see a few very nice looking and very red trees in peoples gardens along the street.

Mt Wilson in Autumn

Mt Wilson in Autumn

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 5.00 sec at f/11, ISO 100

I decided to leave Gerry in the shot (he’s just on the right side of the road heading off to the left) instead of cloning him out…

I think the first image up top is probably the best of the shots from this early part – taken at 6:50AM and using a longer focal length (70mm) to look down The Avenue from the end of the street. At this time the cars havn’t destroyed all the leaves on the road and there’s no vehicles in the street plus the sun has just risen behind me on my right so it’s early golden rays were just streaming across the landscape.

I’ve got to admit upfront that I’ve had to “help” this shot in post…

I took a bracketed set of frames – 5 shots at 1EV intervals (-4, -3, -2, -1 and 0EV) and merged them in post.

I’ve then adjusted the result using Adobe Camera Raw (the same processing engine as used in the Develop Module in Lightroom). In ACR I’ve done a few things like adding some Contrast, Clarity, Vibrance and Saturation and then in the HSL section I’ve adjusted the balance of the Reds, Oranges and Yellows to bring them out a little more.

I’ve then duplicated the layer and then used a little trick I’d previously seen online to boost the feeling of Fall Colour. First convert the image to LAB colour and then use Apply Image and in the dialog box choose “b” from “Channel” and for “Blending” choose “Soft Light” or in my case for a more dramatic look “Overlay”, and adjust the Opacity to taste (I used 40% for my image). After clicking OK I then converted back to RGB colour space and then adjusted the Opacity of this layer and the original underlying layer to taste. Also with a layer mask over the Autumn Colour enhanced layer I was able to paint back in parts of the original version where things had gone too wild for me.

Back in Lightroom I gave it my usual finishing touches and voila here we have The Avenue in Fall (not quite as it appeared on the day but perhaps a little more how we wished it would have been)…

By now other photographers had arrived for their chance at Autumn Colour glory so we headed out of town a little to try our luck on some of the roads leading into town.

This is still on The Avenue outside of and looking back towards town. I loved the play of low sunlight coming through the trees and being early still (twenty past seven and just an hour after sunrise) the roads were still pretty quiet so I could get down low on the road and play with a few compositions. As is the case with many of my shots I end up liking the very first composition best in the end… so I didn’t need to have leant over and put my hand right into a stinging nettle (sort of like poison ivy for our North American friends) on the side of the road :(.

This image is a merge (manually blended using layers in photoshop) of three exposures (-3EV, -2EV and -1EV). I reckon I could easily have processed the single -1EV frame to end up with this result but again I was experimenting with processing technique and in this case the use of luminosity masked layer blending.

I actually originally tried a 32bit HDR blend of all five frames (-4, -3, -2, -1 and 0EV) but the end result was meh, perhaps even bleh…

Sweep of Autumn

Sweep of Autumn

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 28 mm, 1 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Some of the best colour about wasn’t along the main streets but rather in the gardens of the people living in Mt Wilson. For example this little pathway into a property off the main street…

The Red Gate

The Red Gate

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 58 mm, 6 sec at f/11, ISO 100

and amazing red Japanese maples like this…

Flashes of Red

Flashes of Red

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, 1/320 sec at f/5.6, ISO 560

The shot above was also an opportunity for me to try my first shots with a new lens I’d just acquired for my trip away in the middle of the year. I needed a lens which had a reasonable focal length that I could use as a walk around lens for weeks but which could also replace the use of my 70-300mm lens for a travelling long lens. It would also needed to be used with filters on landscapes if needed (and if I was to somehow damage or loose my primary landscaping lenses – the 16-35/4 and 24-70/2.8 – it would be my backup).

This one was pretty much as is straight out of camera so I’m pretty happy with the rendition from the lens (at it’s maximum 300mm focal length no less) so far.

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Vivonne Bay & Kelly Hill Caves…

by on Apr.20, 2015, under Life, Photography

Today we were heading back along the southern cost of Kangaroo Island to Vivonne Bay and the nearby Kelly Hill Caves and Conservation Park.

One of the reasons to head down this was was to check out what was the closest grocery store to where we were staying – Vivonne Bay General Store. It was also one of the closest places to get some fuel for the car.

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.

To be honest the range of groceries is very limited and lunch options here are also similarly limited. We opted instead to check out the Andermel Marron Cafe at the Two Wheeler Creek Winery. To be honest it’s a very rough drive on a pretty terrible dirt road – about 15km’s from the Vivonne Bay turnoff. Once there however the cafe was large and airconditioned and the food was suitably tasty (to match the price :)). It was however great to have a good meal.

Then it was back to Vivonne Bay proper – just a short drive past the General Store. Vivonne Bay is characterised by its long, sandy beach and the jetty which is used by cray fishermen for off-loading their catch. A group was offloading their gear just as we arrived – using that trolley on the rails to move back and forth.

After they were done my girls all ventured onto the jetty to take a look at the lovely bay with the spectacular green waters.

Vivonne Bay

Vivonne Bay

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 66 mm, 1/100 sec at f/8, ISO 100

Greenscape

Greenscape

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/320 sec at f/4, ISO 100

and this is what the jetty looks like looking back from the point.

Vivonne Bay Jetty

Vivonne Bay Jetty

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 60 mm, 1/125 sec at f/8, ISO 100

Then it was off to Kelly Hill Caves.

The name of Kelly Hill Caves is a result of the story, how it was discovered. In 1880 a local stockman called Kelsy, riding on his horse Kelly, was chasing sheep that had strayed from his property. Unfortunately both of them fell into one of the big sink holes in the area. Kelsy managed to climb out, but he had to leave Kelly at the bottom of the sink hole. He returned soon with help to rescue the horse, but it was gone.

Straws

Straws

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 48 mm, 1/50 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1600

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 35 mm, 1/60 sec at f/4, ISO 3600

As one of my daughters is now doing ballet this particular cave formation rang a bell :)

The Ballerina

The Ballerina

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/80 sec at f/4, ISO 6400

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Kelly’s Falls…

by on Apr.18, 2015, under Life, Photography

After our wet sunrise session at Coalcliff we headed towards the Seacliff bridge for a quick recce for a potential future shoot and then went in search for breakfast. It was Easter Friday so, well, not a lot was open (in fact nothing in this area).

So since the conditions were still very overcast we decided to head to nearby Kelly’s Falls at Stanwell Tops first and we’d do breakfast/brunch afterwards. The conditions were ideal for shooting waterfalls – pretty much 100% cloud cover giving a soft diffuse light everywhere and it had been raining heavily overnight (and it was still drizzling a little) so there was enough water about and all the rocks were nice and wet.

Lower Kelly’s Falls

Lower Kelly's Falls

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 18 mm, 2.5 sec at f/11, ISO 100

It’s a very short little drive off the main road to the car park at the top of the falls.

There are in fact two large sets of falls here and for each there’s also a small set of upper falls with the main falls cascading over the high cliffs down into the gorge below.

We’d arrived around 9:00AM and after checking out some of the vantage points from up top we looked for the way down to the bottom of the gorge.

Some vague instructions online indicated looking for a large stone chair and for the “track” opposite it going down the cliff to the gorge below.

The track down was fine until we get to the part where it dropped over a small cliff a couple of metres high. There was a couple pieces of rope tied to various things on the rock face including the main one to a very small springy sapling with a trunk much thinner than my wrist.

Unfortunately Deb didn’t think she’d be able to make it down (or back up) so she left us and headed back to the upper falls whilst Gerry and I scrambled ever downwards.

Soon we were down at the bottom and we made our way to the base of the main lower Kelly’s Falls.

In the shot at the top it’s 9:40AM and I’ve setup just below the lip of the large pool at the bottom of the falls. You can see that the water drops down the main cliff in the background into a large pool at the bottom (I’d say it was a good ten metres or more across) and then on this side of the pool there’s a rock edge and the water cascades down again and over the rocks into the gully behind me.

I’ve actually got the tripod perched precariously spread across two very large pointy boulders which are insanely slippery. It was all I could do to stop myself and my gear from sliding everywhere and breaking everything – gear and body parts…

I actually wanted to be slightly higher for this shot but just couldn’t safely get there.

Gerry is behind and below me down the gorge taking this shot here at the same time.

Like Gerry I took some bracketed frames for this image however in the end the awesome dynamic range of these recent set of Nikon full frame cameras saved the day. The normal exposure RAW had all the shadow and highlight detail preserved so I just processed the single frame (maybe ‘cause I’m just lazy :)). Plus I liked the natural vignette the shadowing trees already gave the scene.

There were two massive head trees in the gully behind me (one is in Gerry’s shot). I liked the look of the other with all it’s twisty gnarled branches but where it was positioned it didn’t look like it was ideal for any sort of clean shot. Still I decide to head around and down to where Gerry was to check it out.

Second Kelly’s Falls

Second Kelly's Falls

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 8 sec at f/16, ISO 100

The wet ground and rocks here made for an extremely slippery experience. You really have to be sure footed and careful lest you slip and break some bones on the sharp edged rocks or worse fall down a large drop.

I decided to go around instead of straight down and on the way I could see some other falls in the distance over to the right. I decided instead to detour over there and when I got closer I could see these falls were (in my mind at least) even nicer than the main falls. I shouted over to Gerry to indicate they were good and he indicated he’d be over in a while :)

I liked these falls better for a number of reasons, the pool at the bottom was much smaller and the shape of the falls at the bottom was in my opinion much nicer. Lastly you could actually get closer to the falls to shoot (even right up to the falls as evidenced in this Waterfall Selfie of Gerry’s.

The shot above is a manual layer blend from three separate exposures. The bulk of the image comes from a 0EV exposure for the scene. I’ve blended a little of the foreground in and some of the upper falls where it got quite bright from the -1EV shot and a little of the darker areas in the greens and crevices on the cliff face are brought out using the +1EV frame.

Inspired by Gerry’s antics – watching a gangly tall man slide crab like slowly across the very slippery cliff face to get in position for a selfie I figured (after taking some shots of Gerry taking his shots :)) I’d do a somewhat less precarious selfie of my own…

Admiring the Fall

Admiring the Fall

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 24 mm, 1/2 sec at f/9, ISO 200

We’d been down here for nearly an hour and a half now so we figured it was time to head back up to see if Deb was still alive :)…

but not before one last shot at the base of Lower Kelly’s Falls. This is that large pool I spoke of earlier and the small slippery stone walkway which crosses the gully at the end of the pool before is cascades down further into the gully to the right.

Kelly’s Falls Pool

Kelly's Falls Pool

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 2.5 sec at f/16, ISO 200

Back up the top we met Deb who suggested we go take a look at the bottom of the upper falls, so…

Upper Kelly’s Falls

Upper Kelly's Falls

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 5 sec at f/16, ISO 50

Collecting some nice coloured leaves to place in a not so natural looking “random” pattern :(. So I admit that we did arrange these leaves, looking for something in the foreground than just the flow of water. Heading into Autumn there were plenty of nicely coloured leaves just ready to be abused like this :). Sigh nature just does a better job of this…

Leaf Action

Leaf Action

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 5 sec at f/16, ISO 50

Pro Tip:If you are coming to shoot at a place like this – waterfalls, wet rocks, wet leaves – a circular polariser is a MUST. If you don’t want all your rocks and leaves to be bright, hazy washed out patches and you want the smooth flowing water to stand out white against a deep rich background you need to be using a polariser – period :).

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