Pixelstick Mess…

This is what happens when you let three lunatics loose with a Pixelstick :).

It had been two and a half years since Gerry, Suren and I had been on our last “roadtrip”. Back then we spent a couple days up near Stockton Dunes for some fun filled photography sessions.

Pixelstick Mess

Pixelstick Mess

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 299 sec at f/7.1, ISO 200

For this trip we decided on a quick trip out to the Blue Mountains.

First up an evening light painting session – the stage was Pulpit Rock Lookout. Unfortunately the clear skies we wanted for a milky way and star trails session with some foreground light painting was a total bust. We had the massive fog bank come in which completely obscured the sky (and the ground).

So we mucked around with Gerry’s new Pixelstick and when we’d have enough of the waste of time frivolities (at 1AM!) we bailed back to our salubrious accommodation…

Sugarloaf DeLight…

Here we stand in Sugarloaf Creek. The creek runs under Eastern Valley Way and through a rainforest before entering Crag Cove next to Castlecrag. This little gem of a creek sitting right next to roads and houses in suburbia is host to two larger sets of falls along with two smaller sets of cascades. Plenty of waterfall opportunities should you come here after rains.

The Fernery

The Fernery

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm, 4 sec & 1/13 sec at f/11, ISO 50 & 400

Downstream from Eastern Valley Way, the creek flows over a fairly large set of falls (up behind me). Here, the water cascades into a 15 metre high semi-circular rock overhang into a pool, and then passes over and around giant boulders on its way to Crag Cove, Sugarloaf Bay and eventually on to Middle Harbour.

I’m standing amongst these beautiful green moss covered boulders under a canopy of beautifully lit ferns. We are positioned between the upper falls and a middle set of cascades behind the camera.

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

Sugarloaf Light

Sugarloaf Light

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 10 sec at f/13, ISO 50

This lovely little cascade is surrounded by these luscious ferns and the light filtering down from the overcast skies was fantastic today. Not to mention having a nice strong flow of water from all the heavy rains Sydney has been experiencing for the past few weeks.

Gerry is there crafting a composition from atop a rock on the level above.

Vertical Tumbling…

So… as is pretty typical these days I get a late night message from Gerry – “keen for some action tomorroz?”. Of course it’s been pouring here in Sydney for a week or two, with vertical and horizontal rain just bucketing down.

Vertical Tumbling

Vertical Tumbling

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 27 mm, 1.3 sec at f/16, ISO 100 x 4 Frames

After some debate as to potential locations from far and wide… With all this rain we’re looking to shoot some more waterfalls and maybe a spot of macro. I eventually suggest we forgo sunrise (I figure it’s going to be horrendous anyway – if it isn’t pouring) and opt for a mid morning start after we see what the rain is doing.

The image above is my first shot of the morning. Again I’ve lugged my Novoflex pano kit in so I start with that for this four (4) frame vertical panorama (vertorama). I decided to forgo the upper falls first up and headed downstream to these fantastic boulders and lush green growth with the water bubbling this way and that. I’m actually pretty damn happy with how this turned out for a first shot of the day. Thats Gerry up there on the right – shooting the upper falls.

The image below is a single vertical composition from a similar position.

Splash and Sluice

Splash and Sluice

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 32 mm, 2.5 sec at f/16, ISO 50

Oh yeah – where did we decide to go… well we opted for something nearby (in fact it’s within my 15 minutes from home circle so gotta be happy with that). This is Sugarloaf Creek in the leafy and expensive north shore suburb of Castlecrag.

It’s actually pretty amazing these waterfalls exist so close to suburbia – I mean major roads and houses are literally just a stones throw from here.

Stoppin’ Time…

Two takes on one scene to show you just how much difference stoppin’ time can make.

These two frames were taken consecutively one morning – less than one minute apart. Which is basically the time it takes to get out the heavy ND filter and insert it into the frame and roughly calculate what I think the required exposure time will be.

The first is a traditional exposure of the composition using a circular polariser stacked with a three (3) stop graduated neutral density filter. Dropping the ISO to 50 and using a slightly stopped down aperture of f/11 lets me extend the exposure time out to 1 second. At this level the water isn’t frozen in motion but it isn’t totally blurred as it moves. So we are left with the stringy texture of the moving water in the frame. It’s a nice enough shot but I wanted more and I wanted a level of simplification and peace to the image.

Outta Time

Outta Time

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm, 1 sec at f/11, ISO 50

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

Queue the Lee BigStopper – which is simply added to the stack of existing filters. This ten (10) stop ND does however reduce the incoming light down to 1/1000th of the normal light. This dramatically increases the required exposure time.

I didn’t have all day to wait so I bumped the ISO to 200 (three stops higher) and let it rip for 430 seconds (over 7 minutes). The end result – exactly the same framing and composition but the final images are drastically different.

Stoppin’ Time

Stoppin' Time

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 38 mm, 430 sec at f/11, ISO 200

Within the Edge of Beyond…

It was a grey old overcast morning – which was looking good for the waterfalls we were actually intending on shooting this morning. Time to go back to the tidal pool at Collaroy and see what was within.

Flow

Flow

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 2 sec at f/11, ISO 100

When I was back within reach of the pool we had the peak of our morning colour. Which was to say just about nothing – the sun had already risen ten minutes ago but was still locked behind the cloud cover. Just a hint of light and colour breaking through the clouds above.

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

Entering

Entering

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 1.30 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Time for a little selfie with the light spilling out in a patch onto the wet concrete at my feet.

Looking Within

Looking Within

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 1 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Gerry and I spent about half an hour looking for compositions out on the rocks and further south along the next beach but it was pretty meh… This moody black and white taken just as we were about to head back to the cars was about the best I could come up with.

Threatened

Threatened

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 1/2 sec at f/14, ISO 50

To be honest we were just keen for a bit of breakfast and to head off to the waterfalls before the clouds broke up messed up any plans for nice dark overcast light above the falls.