Rodney Campbell's Blog

It’s Remarkable under the Stars…

by on May.28, 2015, under Life, Photography

Ever since I knew I was going to be staying on Kangaroo Island I was hoping and praying that I’d get the chance to shoot the remarkable stars over the Remarkable rocks.

Calling Home

Calling Home

NIKON D600 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 25 sec at f/3.2, ISO 6400

Unlike the skies in Sydney where I live, there light pollution makes it almost impossible to see the heavens clearly. Kangaroo Island is perfectly suited to shooting the stars. This is the epitome of “dark skies”, with minimal light pollution at this very remote location in the most south west corner of the island. There is nothing south of here till you reach Antarctica.

Unfortunately the skies had been overcast every evening of our stay so it wasn’t looking good. However on the second last night the skies looked clear just after sunset so there was hope.

I’d been shooting at Admirals Arch with a newfound friend and photographer (Jarrod Koh who was over here with his family from Adelaide). We decided to head to Remarkable Rocks in the hopes of using starry skies. Jarrod was aiming to get some shots of a comet with the clear dark skies and I was just hoping to get some shots of the milky way over the rocks and then later setup for some star trails.

The Milky Way wasn’t really in a great position at this time of year. The core of those remarkable stars and galaxies remained over the horizon and most of the star band ran sort of south to north almost directly overhead. Still it was very dark and clear and so the stars were very visible.

Whilst Jarrod setup his tracker for his Comet, I went wandering looking for compositions I could work with and light paint.

The first image above was one of my first (around 10PM) and probably my favourite from the evening. This is looking from the south side facing northward up at the Remarkable rocks with those remarkable stars in the sky.

This one from the northern side facing more south east and including the milky way with this fabulous rock shape.

Reach for the Stars

Reach for the Stars

NIKON D600 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 25 sec at f/3.2, ISO 6400

Faces in the Dark

Faces in the Dark - Remarkable Stars

NIKON D600 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 25 sec at f/3.2, ISO 5000

I think the secret with shots like these – other than the composition and the technical aspects of the shot (shutter, aperture and ISO) – is the light painting. Both the remarkable rocks and the remarkable stars as their name implies are quite remarkable, but without the light painting you essentially have some stars in the sky over a black silhouette. The silhouette can work (as seen below) but only if you work the silhouette into the composition.

It’s also not about just adding flat fill light either. Sure you can light the rocks like it’s daytime but personally I don’t think it generates the right feel for the scene. This low more directed lighting with lots of shadow, lines and texture I think produces a much more interesting and satisfying look.

… and one where the shadowed silhouette can work :)

The Howling

The Howling

NIKON D600 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 25 sec at f/3.2, ISO 5000

Then at around 11PM the heavy clouds came through from the south west and completely covered the skies :(.

The remarkable stars were done and unfortunately star trails were right off the menu. Still I was very happy for the hour we did have here with these amazing sculptures of nature. Truly those remarkable stars were just that and I was satisfied with what I had in the can.

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Flora as Art…

by on May.26, 2015, under Life, Photography

I’d been reminding myself to shoot things other than straight grand landscapes. I’m so enamoured by the huge majestic vistas and the wide open views that I sometimes forget to stop and smell the flowers (or flora as it were)…

Sometimes detailed ‘scaping and a more concise view yields interesting results.

As we were exploring the Platypus Waterholes Walk today I saw it as a chance to hone those lesser used skills and shoot some flora as art. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see even a hint of any Platypi but the walk was pleasant enough on this lovely crisp clear day.

Ribbons

Ribbons

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/80 sec at f/4, ISO 100

I just loved the way the backlight was coming through these green fronds. My shot of the walk I reckon and definitely befitting my flora as art mood…

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.

Finely

Finely Flora

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/200 sec at f/3.2, ISO 100

I “crafted” another one of these shots by placing this very red leaf on the face of this exposed cut trunk. Whilst it did stand out really well against the silvery tones of the weathered wood it was however just “too flora fake” :).

Rings of Time

Rings of Time

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/80 sec at f/5.6, ISO 450

Serenica

Serenica Flora

NIKON D600 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 70 mm, 1/160 sec at f/2.8, ISO 100

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Remarkable Panorama…

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

It was 8:30AM and now more than two hours after sunrise at Remarkable Rocks. Still no-one was here other than the one other lone photographer who’d braved the early morning here.

The upside of shooting at a very remote location like this at times like this is that with no-one around it’s very easy to create wide expansive images without having to worry about crowds of other people in your shots. When I shot here at sunset a few times I tended to use a longer lens (and a lot of patience) to get more isolated views without other tourists in them (especially as they tend to be climbing all over the rocks).

The Volcano

The Volcano

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 1/8 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.

I saw my newfound photographer friend photographing this smaller mounded rock off to the side of the main granite base. It’s right near where the path comes out so you basically see it and walk past it to get onto the granite base of Remarkable Rocks. She was setup down near the bottom of this slope quite close to the rock.

I decided to setup a shot up here to include this large interesting orange slab in my foreground with the orange volcano (or pimple if that makes more sense :)) in the middle with the lush low green shrub covered land behind. Off to the right you can see the boardwalk which brings you down here from the carpark.

Pro Tip: Most beginner landscape photographers get so enamoured with the amazing view in front of their eyes in the middle ground or distance that they forget to look at their feet. It’s one of the things which I think many photographers take for granted when they capture horizontal shots of the landscape in the distance (because it frankly looks amazing out there to the naked eye). However when you look at these shots afterwards they look very flat and two dimensional – because they are – photographs by their very nature are two dimensional. What you sometimes need is something in your two dimensional frame which implies the feeling of three dimensionality. Often the easiest thing to do is connect the foreground to the background of the image in some way so that your eyes are drawn into and through the image.

I waited and once she had finished her shots and moved on I decided to take mine. For something a little different I thought I’d add myself for scale and go down there and get in the shot. It’s actually pretty tricky getting up on that rock. It’s probably at least five metres tall with very smooth steep sides. All around there’s no actual cracks or handholds for climbing up so I found the best way up was to just gather some speed and run at it and hope you had enough momentum to get you near the top so you could grab in. I’m sure my friend thought I was crazy as she watched me do this.

Now the real reason I’ve included the above image is to give you a frame of reference to the image below.

This Remarkable panorama is a full 360˚ stitched panorama comprised of twelve vertical frames taken at 19mm. The tie to the above is that I took this panorama standing on top of the pimple of rock you see me on below. Let me tell you getting both my tripod and gear as well as myself up onto this rock was no mean feat :).

360 Remarkable Panorama

360 Remarkable Panorama

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 1/8 sec at f/11, ISO 100

It’s just before 9AM so it’s time to head back to our Lighthouse accommodation and greet the rest of my family for the days activities ahead :)

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Before the Dawn…

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

Just another day before the dawn… Waking to find the sky filling with wondrous morning colour whilst the valley below the city skyline is filled with fog and the whisps of early morning mist trying to obscure the treetops.

Here it is right on sunrise (6:24AM) and I’m using a new lens for a little telephoto landscaping. This wondrous 28-300 general purpose lens thankfully has 77mm front filter threading which allows me to make use of my Lee filter system. I’ve dragged out this exposure from half a second to 30 seconds with the use of the Lee LittleStopper to help smear the sky for the look I was after.

Before the Dawn

Before the Dawn

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 160 mm, 30 sec at f/16, ISO 100

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Vivid Hits Chatswood…

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

It’s once again Vivid Sydney time. This year some new Precinct’s will be opening up (outside of the CBD) including one in my home area – Chatswood.

In a few days time the onslaught will begin – the crowds, the cameras and the cacophony of light and music which is all part of the amazing Vivid Festival each year here in Sydney.

Light Under the Sea

Light Under the Sea

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 1/2 sec at f/8, ISO 100

This year I’ll getting out of Sydney during the opening weekend :) – however both before and after I know I’ll be drawn once again to joining those crowds and shooting those amazing light installations.

Last night I took my gear and headed into my local shopping district (Chatswood) where a number of light installations will be playing during Vivid (22nd May through to the 8th of June). I wanted to recce the area where the installations would be so I could get a better idea for where they were and work out some test compositions for when it was all lit up.

As luck would have it one of the people working on the projections was someone I knew and he was kind enough to light it all up for me and even better freeze frame some projections so I could shoot at a cleaner low ISO with longer exposures rather than having to shoot fast shutter and high ISO to freeze the animations.

The theme this year in Chatswood is an underwater aquarium feel and all the installations across Chatswood expand on that theme.

Whether it is one of the glowing oriental sea creatures brought to life with lighting (by 32 Hundred Lighting) as seen at the top of this post, or the underwater aquarium projected in the mall outside Chatswood Westfield.

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.

Norbert the Nautilus

Norbert the Nautilus

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 17 mm, 2 sec at f/6.3, ISO 200

It is however the fantastic projections (designed by the awesomely talented team at Ample Projects) onto the modern architecture of the Concourse building which steal the show in my opinion. It’s amazingly impressive how they’ve managed to wrap this piece of modern structure and is probably some of the best I’ve seen. The five minute loop is fantastic and definitely one for the young through to the young at heart to watch.

Dancing with Jellyfish

Dancing with Jellyfish

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 17 mm, 3 sec at f/7.1, ISO 200

The Nautilus and the Sea tells the story of Norbert the Nautilus and his brave journey to find a new home. Trapped in a bleak world of discarded human refuse, Norbert lives in a homemade shell created out of lost objects. The surrounding environment is a stark, black and white underwater world fastidiously patrolled by Lieutenant Angler. Our hero breaks free, to embark on a perilous journey to discover a vast ocean, and a reef teeming with life.

Fishing

Fishing

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 3 sec at f/8, ISO 200

Rays

Rays

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 3 sec at f/8, ISO 200

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