Grey Nomads…

My parents are Grey Nomads – that not so rare breed of retired folk who travel to warmer climates for the winter. In the case of my grey nomad parents they have been travelling all around Australia (mainly northern Australia) in their car and caravan for a number of months every year for the past 23 years.

The Collins Dictionary defines the Grey Nomad as “(Australian) any elderly retired person who spends time travelling around the country in a mobile home”.

Whilst I’m not quite in the grey nomad bracket yet, two years ago I semi jokingly suggested I should join them sometime and take photographs of the amazing Australian outback on the way.

Six months ago my parents seriously invited me to join them for part of their trip this year. The part which went through what they considered the most amazing, remote and beautiful parts of the country.

So plans were set in motion, 80 days of leave were taken and I took my youngest daughter out of school for a number of weeks to set off on a trip of a lifetime.

Adventure Bound

Adventure Bound

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 135 mm, 1/160 sec at f/8, ISO 100

We flew to Darwin – the capital city of the Northern Territory – and the northernmost major city on mainland Australia.

I (& of course my daughter) had never been here before and it was quite a shock going from the bitter cold of a Sydney winter of under 10 degrees to the modest 35 degrees of Darwin :). My daughter said it felt like we were in an oven :).

My parents picked us up from the airport and we headed to the caravan park where we’d be staying whilst in Darwin.

My daughter and I had never been caravaning before either so that would also be a new experience for us. My parents were seasoned Grey Nomad veterans tho, who’d travelled the whole country over many years.

Backdraft…

Another epic sunrise missed… well almost… This backdraft from the fire gods descended on Sydney the day AFTER I’d gone out to shoot a cloudless sunrise seascape session… sigh…

It’s always the way, decide not to get up early for a shoot and this is what happens!…

Morning Fires

Morning Fires

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 100 mm, 1/100 sec at f/5.3, ISO 500

For some reason I woke early this morning – just in time to look up from bed and see that the room was glowing red, the ceiling, the walls…

Damn this could mean just one thing… So I quickly got up to take a look out the bedroom window to be presented with this. It was already 6:45AM (just ten minutes till sunrise) and it was still this good – amazing!…

I quickly grabbed the camera and shot these handheld through the window trading ISO for stability with the long lens. These shots are essentially straight out of camera – it was so good it hurt. This was possibly the best sunrise I’d seen in Sydney this year…

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.

Backdraft

Backdraft

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 92 mm, 1/100 sec at f/7.1, ISO 800

Ah well next time perhaps I won’t be so lazy and will set the alarm for an early rise and on location an hour before sunrise again… just in time for the cloudless skies or 100% overcast. Still better than torrential rain I say… better luck next time.

Three’s Trouble…

A day out with my three girls in Melbourne, shopping, checking out the sights…

Lunch in a quaint little cafe in Degraves St amidst all the hustle and bustle of the busy city…

Degraves

Degraves

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 62 mm, 1/60 sec at f/5.6, ISO 2200

I purposely underexposed this (by 1 and 2/3rds of a stop) to both retain the highlights and also give it a deeper moodier feel with rich darkness. My three girls standing in a pool of light amidst the chaos and shadows.

Then a walk along the Yarra river across to Birrarung Marr Park to take a look at the Circus Oz tents set up there which we could see from our apartment windows.

Three for Birrarung Marr

Three for Birrarung Marr

NIKON D750 + 28.0-300.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 170 mm, 1/250 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

and we purchased some tickets for the family to come back that night to go to the Circus :).

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.

Back crossing the Princess Bridge heading back to the apartment to get ready to go out again :).

Princess

Princess

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm, 1/320 sec at f/5.6, ISO 100

After a quick dinner we headed back across the river to Federation Square so that the girls could go Ice Skating on the River Rink during twilight when the lights would come on.

Ice Queens

Ice Queens

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 58 mm, 1/125 sec at f/2.8, ISO 1000

Then we were back to the Circus in time for the evening session.

Three’s a Circus

Three's a Circus

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 1/25 sec at f/5.6, ISO 9000

Webb Bridge…

Finally it was dark enough to go back and try shooting the Webb Bridge.

Having seen many other shots of this bridge online I’d wondered if shooting from the corner bend where the bridge sort of loops back on itself was really the only spot to shoot from but once inside it is the obvious choice.

You can of course shoot anywhere but most other places you’d only have a sort of single tunnel view.

Standing inside the lit curved web interior of the Webb Bridge you immediately think wide angle view is needed. I’ve seen shots in here using a fisheye lens, I hadn’t brought mine on this trip but I don’t think even it would be wide enough for the view I wanted to portray anyway.

Webb Filled Eyes

Webb Filled Eyes

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 15 sec at f/11, ISO 100 x 6 Frames

I decided a stitched panorama encompassing a greater than 180 degree view would be required.

I’d worked out two places on the bend where I thought a good composition might work.

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 first above is shot from a little higher up on the bend and allows you to see more down the left tunnel which is the longer wavy part which eventually joins the original Webb Dock Rail Bridge portion of the bridge which links over to Docklands.

Whilst I like seeing the curved web tunnel lead off into the distance this spot also see’s more of the closer city buildings (especially on the right).

This was a stitch of 6 vertical frames using the 16mm end of my trusty Nikon 16-35/4.

However even 16mm wasn’t quite wide enough for me so I switched to the Samyang 14mm prime for the second location and composition. Some may find it quite surprising how much of a difference that tiny 2mm can make. Take it from me the view is “MUCH” wider.

After taking the shots for the first panorama sequence I’d felt like I wanted a little more colour in the sky – it was already pretty much at the end of twilight at 6PM (50 minutes after sunset). The lighting inside the bridge was also very bright especially at the bottom behind the railing wall where the bulbs were projecting light up the ribs.

I moved a little further down the curve towards the lower entrance to the Webb Bridge with a view that sees more of the lower right hand tunnel curve.

With the aim of protecting highlight detail along with extracting more light and colour from the now near black sky I figured I would bracket each frame of the panorama and massage the images in post.

I set my camera to bracket 7 frames at 1EV steps starting around a base exposure of -1EV (so -4, -3, -2, -1, 0, 1 & 2EV) and then took the four sets of seven bracketed frames for the panorama sweep. Actually I did this whole set twice just in case (with so many people and bikes moving back and forth through the tunnel it was a patience game trying to wait for the optimum time to start a sequence of seven bracketed frames (running from half a second out to 25 seconds) without having bike lights or people mess up some or all the frames :).

In post I took one of the sets of seven bracketed frames and HDR merged them to see if it was giving me the look I wanted. As it happened it didn’t and I much preferred the more contrasty darker look rather than the washed out merge which squashed the highlights and washed out the shadows.

Finally I opted to just use the single -1EV frames to create the final panorama here :).

Shooting Webbs

Shooting Webbs

NIKON D750 + 14.0 mm f/2.8 @ 14 mm, 2.5 sec at f/8, ISO 100 x 4 Frames

Here I opted to use the second set of frames I took where this photographer had arrived and setup their spot whilst I was taking this sequence. I decided to leave them in since they stayed still long enough during the set I took when facing them.

ANZ…

I was still whiling away the time waiting for it to get dark enough to shoot some compositions inside the Webb bridge here in Melbourne. Playing with long exposures facing down the Yarra river past this modern glass structure of the ANZ corporate headquarters on North Wharf.

The ANZ Centre is ANZ’s new global headquarters and is the largest, single-tenanted commercial building in Australia. It is a 14-storey, low-rise groundscraper.

The clouds and the interesting slashes of light through the clouds were still moving quite rapidly across the sky so I was opting to continue with the long exposures for now. I’d shifted back along the bridge a little for a better angle on the ANZ building and setup for the new composition.

A five (5) minute long exposure with the Lee 2 stop GND stacked with the Lee LittleStopper.

ANZ

ANZ

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 18 mm, 297 sec at f/9, ISO 100

I loved the way the streaks of interesting light were smearing across the sky in the long exposure. Even the relatively “shorter” normal exposures were still quite nice though – see below.

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.

Here is the next shot taken a few minutes later with the LittleStopper removed.

Warp

Warp

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 18 mm, 20 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Again the light was still fantastic. With the light levels dropping – a few minutes later again I’m adding the Format-Hitech 4 stop ND for another multi minute exposure. By now the lights have really come on in the office building and the balance between the lit buildings and the ambient is just about perfect.

Afterlight

Afterlight

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 18 mm, 246 sec at f/11, ISO 100

It’s now 5:35PM (almost 25 minutes after sunset) and with my favourite shot of the night above in the can, it’s time to head into the Webb bridge to see what I can do there. The lights had come on inside the bridge structure about ten minutes ago so it was now all lit up and ready to go. It was at least now looking more interesting and somewhat promising….