Weekend Photography Retreat on South Stradbroke Island

I believe it’s extremely important, as a photographer, to continually learn and develop (pardon the pun) my photography skills. I attend various courses each year for this sole purpose. Recently I went on a photography retreat hosted by Live in Love Photography and Splash Photography over on South Stradbroke Island staying at the fantastic Ramada Couran Cove resort.

I was super excited about spending the weekend with a group of girlfriends who also happen to be a ‘bunch of photographers’ (I wonder if there’s a name for that?!) guaranteeing it was going to be a weekend jam packed with fun, food & photography skills.

After we had settled into our gorgeous accommodation we headed to Spa Island for sustenance and a brief run-through about the weekend ahead.

We grabbed our gear and headed off on an orientation walk around the resort. Wandering through the rainforest and ending up on the beach. The first ‘brief’ I received was to ‘see’ everyday objects and look for a new angle or way to photograph them. Sounds easy, right? They tell you it’s a ‘brief’ but then giggle that they renamed it from ‘challenge’ so we wouldn’t think it was too hard to achieve!

Rainforest and Surrounds

Rainforest and Surrounds

We were treated with a stunning sunset that afternoon as the sun set over the water. Our photography ‘brief’ (aka challenge) was to capture a silhouette.

Of course with a retreat, it can’t all be about the craft. Food, fun and fantastic company is also hard to beat. We all met up for dinner, in what is aptly named The Restaurant, to enjoy some fine wine, fabulous food and great company.

After dinner we had a tutorial on smoke photography. I can assure you there was more fits of laughter than photos taken and although I’m sworn to secrecy about what had us giggling like school girls, let me just say I’ll never be able to ‘bang’ into a table again without laughing out loud… Our smoke photography session went into the early hours of the morning but eventually we all crawled into bed dreading the alarms that would wake us for sunrise in just a few short hours.

Sunset & Smoke Photography Challenge

Sunset & Smoke Photography Challenge

I think I managed about 3 hours of sleep before I was tapped on the shoulder and woken up for our scheduled sunrise photo shoot – for those that know me, you’ll know that I don’t wake up before coffee and given coffee was not on offer (that would have required waking up even earlier), I was pretty hard to drag out of bed. While travelling to the eastern side of the island in the dark with the moon still visible all I could think was ‘this better be worth it…’ I am happy to say it was well and truly worth it – the predawn was glorious and the sunrise displayed intense purples, pinks and oranges. Even while my eyes felt like they were half closed, I was thankful for getting up to witness this scene.

After sunrise we went back to the resort to download images and enjoy some breakfast. After a delicious and filling breakfast and my much needed coffee, we returned to the beach exploring the water’s edge and into the sand dunes.

Look the Moon Oh wait ... Here comes the Sun

Look the Moon
Oh wait … Here comes the Sun

I’m happy to say the weekend continued like this; more food, photography ‘briefs’, fun, laughter and at the end of it all a sense of achievement and images I’m proud of.

I highly recommend the Live In Love Photography and Splash Photography Weekend Retreat, it delivers amazing food and photography tutorials at a perfect pace – time for looking, shooting, improving, processing. Sheryn and Anita were constantly on hand to assist, guide and introduce new techniques both in camera and during our post processing sessions.

To finish off a perfect weekend we all sat around enjoying the outlook from the deck and sharing our photo adventures (and maybe we had a cocktail or two just to celebrate such a lovely weekend away).

Our last hour ... Farewell for now

Our last hour … Farewell for now

This retreat certainly delivers on food, fun & photography and with their next photography retreat scheduled for Friday 25th – Sunday 27th July 2014 you’d be mad to miss it. To enquire or book into the retreat contact the girls: Sheryn@liveinlovephotography.com.au or anita@splashphotography.com.au

Tell them I sent you along 🙂

Until next week,


Abstract Landscape Photography

On a recent outing scouting for new shoot locations I stumbled across a great area – semi industrial, semi rural.

After taking photos of the industrial side including some awesome graffiti walls I turned around and saw this rural field and immediately had a vision in my head for a abstract art photo.

To show you what I did firstly I need to show you a photo of the landscape as is

This is what you see in real life

This is what you see in real life

To create the type of abstract I had in mind in camera you need to move the camera up or down during exposure.  Shooting in manual mode and using a circular polarizer filter over the lens to help reduce glare and light I dialed in an aperture of f22, the smallest I can go on this lens (remember small hole = big number) set the iso at 200 and shutter speed at 1/10th second to have time to move the camera during exposure. I shoot in raw mode and my results have only had the basic processing, here is my result

This is first attempt. Settings f.22 1/10th ISO 200

This is first attempt.
Settings f.22 1/10th ISO 200

Looks interesting but no quite what I had in my head, a little to dark, I want more pastel effect so changing nothing but my ISO to 640 I achieved what I set out.

Beautiful pastel colours and you still see the line of the hill, perfect!

Beautiful pastel colours and you still see the line of the hill, perfect!

Just because I have been taught to shoot it until it is dead – I tried moving the camera to the side, this is what I got.

Camera moved during exposure sideways

Camera moved during exposure sideways

As you see these photos are in my opinion art and very subjective.  The sideways photos is not quite what I had in my head so in the end I prefer the other photo. I would love your opinions on this subject.

Until next Friday, have a great week.


Having a Swell Time

The Swell Sculpture Festival at Currumbin Beach began in 2003 however I only discovered this Festival in 2011 and was delighted and amazed at the sculptures, the artists are just so talented and each year it is a must see event on my calendar.

The festival is held on both the beach and broadwalk area of Currumbin during September each year and from a photography point of view each piece can be very challenging to capture with the combination of the elements and amount of people around.

Even knowing this upfront I still wanted to challenge myself this year photographically, to look at the sculptures from all angles and aspects and find the best way to showcase each sculpture using natural light.

Using Natural Light to enhance this cool Sculpture

Using Natural Light to enhance this cool Sculpture

I headed down last Saturday morning around 7.30 thinking that the sun would be in a good position and not too bright or encompassing, I was wrong.  However I was pleased to discover that I could still create some magic shots with the elements I had to work with.

Harsh lighting and People on the Beach made it challenging to capture each ball.

Harsh lighting and People on the Beach made it challenging to capture each ball.


A pair of Pear's in the harsh Sunlight

A pair of Pear’s in the harsh Sunlight

Here are some more of my favourite photos from this year.

A cool thing to have on the Beach

A cool thing to have on the Beach


High Five - The light created some beautiful pattern inside this Sculpture

High Five – The light created some beautiful pattern inside this Sculpture


"Turtle Ball"

“Turtle Ball”

Lastly to finish out this weeks blog my personal favourite was the Blue surfing girl on the Beach.  Here is one of the many angles I photographed her this day.

Surfer Girl

Surfer Girl

Until next week.


Travelling around the Countryside

Last month I caught up with a wonderful friend and photographer buddy while she was visiting Australia from her island home, Cocos (Keeling) Island.

After a coffee we decided to grab our camera’s and head west into the country and to look for interesting and/or historic things to photograph. Our first pit stop was at the town of Canungra, as we wandered through town we found a small quaint historic church. On closer investigation it was disappointing, photographically, the stained glass windows of the church has been altered and now have perspex secured to the outside of each of the windows – a sad sign of the times we now live in.

A Sign a the times Perspex over the window

A Sign a the times
Perspex over the window

A little deflated this early in our adventure with nothing else catching our eye and with the weather threatening rain, we decided to grab some lunch at the Canungra Pub.

The clouds cleared and we decided to keep heading west towards Beaudesert. We are looking, searching, wanting to capture the afternoon light streaming through the dark clouds.

Driving along, my job is to be the lookout, after all Karen is driving and needs to watch the road so it is up to me to find what we are looking for as we drive along the windy roads through all these wonderful country scenes. I see a beautiful patch of light and we stop on the side of the road in order to capture the streams of light across the country landscape.

See the Light

See the Light

At this stop we take the opportunity to look around, check the scene from all perspectives and photograph many things that catch our eye.

There is always something to photograph

There is always something to photograph


Finding the light even though barb wire

Finding the light even though barb wire

Back in the car continuing our adventure we have times where the gray clouds are working against us but other times where the light is just right. During the month of July I was doing a photo a day project (APAD) and I had a preconceived idea for today’s photo, I needed to find a bare boned, dead tree. I didn’t think it would be too difficult to find the type of tree I was after out here but it still has to be that perfect tree to fulfill the brief.

Of course it’s while we’re travelling around 80k per hour with cars and trucks behind us that I shout to Karen “oh my goodness there is my tree, quick stop!”. Karen laughs, it was simply not possible to stop at that moment. We find a place to turn not to far up the road and back we come parking the car in a safe spot on this busy country highway and walk the rest of the way down to the tree.

My Tree - Quick Stop!

My Tree – Quick Stop!

The gods were on our side and by the time we got down there the light was just perfect and that shot that was in my head become a reality.

My tree shot comes to life

My tree shot comes to life

What a perfect end to our adventure. Great photos, great company and learning that if patient the light will shine and so will your photos.

Patience rewards you with light

Patience rewards you with light


A great end to a great day

A great end to a great day

Enjoy your week.


Temples of Cambodia – Part 2

Through the Ruins and Trees of Ta Prohm

So excited this week to bring you another instalment from the time I spent last year in Cambodia. Today I will share my experience of visiting what turned out to be my favourite temple, Ta Prohm.

On arriving at the “compound” you may at first feel a little deflated as all you see is a large open space and an archway – no temple in sight! Walk through the archway and enjoy the peaceful walk down the dirt path, lined with scrub and trees, and all of a sudden the scrub opens up and you get a real ahhh moment as you first glimpse the ruins of Ta Prohm.


First Glimpse

The first thing that hit me was how beautiful the combination is of nature trying to take back the temple that is Ta Prohm.

If you squat down at the entrance, before going too far, you get a real appreciation of the battle going on between the temple, Ta Prohm, and nature, there is a green “carpet” of moss that has overtaken the rock floor and the magnificent trees are growing straight out of the middle, it is truly breathtaking.


Green “Carpet”

It amazed me just how the tree’s wind, entwine and climb their way through the stone and create such interesting and stunning pieces of natural art.


Trees Entwined

As I walked down one of the corridors I took some time to stand still and watch the way the light was falling in different places creating such amazing patterns on the stone work.  As I wandered further I came across a sculpture and offerings to the spirits, this cemented for me just where I am and how spiritual this place is.


Offerings to the Spirits


Corridors of Light

After exploring some of the many alleyways and corridors, I wound up in a large open area. Here I stood in the far back corner and waited with our guide, just long enough to capture the scene without any human elements. I felt a true sense of being ‘connected’ spiritually to this place and words can’t adequately describe how I was affected by Ta Prohm.


Temple Area without the Human Element

Allow yourself plenty of time to wander around the many paths and tunnels within Ta Prohm. You will notice the areas of rubble that have been abandoned long ago and you will see the current extensive restoration work that is underway which will ensure Ta Prohm is restored to its magnificent “old” self.





As I finish out this blog I can’t forget to mention “The Famous Tree”. The Tree which featured in the movie Tomb Raider. Yes, it is more stunning in real life than on film and well worth a trip to Ta Prohm, just for this purpose. I know I will be returning to it soon.

"The Famous Tree"

“The Famous Tree”

Until next Friday, enjoy your week.


Temples of Cambodia – Part 1 Bayon

As promised here is another installment of my Cambodia adventure last year.  In this blog I want to share my journey about one of the extraordinary temples I visited, Bayon.

My journey begins: we left the hotel shortly after breakfast and I enjoyed the morning tuk tuk ride through the city to the temples, watching as the people went about their daily duties and so many children walking, cycling and making their way to school.

Children heading to School

Children heading to School

Once inside the official complex we paused near the entrance into Bayon Temple. There are a row of ‘warriors’ protecting the entrance way and many of them are still headless from the senseless looting of the precious artifacts inside the grounds.  Some say the carved works are protected and I can attest to this strange phenomena. I believe the spirits and protectors were doing strange things to our camera on this day. Photos were difficult; if I tried to expose the structures correctly my images just didn’t work like they should yet if I turned my back and photographed something else my exposure was right. Was it me or a play on light or a dance with the spirits? That was my first taste of just how spiritually rich this sacred land is.

"The Warriors"  Image as seen in Camera

“The Warriors”
Image as seen in Camera

Through the gate we went and again I sat back and took it all in.  Monkeys, people, elephants, temples: a photographers smorgasbord.

Elephant at Bayon

Elephant at Bayon

From a distance Bayon appeared like a pile of rubble in some areas but as we drew closer I saw the large towering smiling faces, this was simply breath taking and the need to explore grew more urgent ..

Arriving at Bayon

Arriving at Bayon

As you begin to immerse yourself in this maze-like temple you get to appreciate the many galleries and corridors, so much to take in and explore, it doesn’t matter which way you go you will eventually get to the top and that is where the magic unfolds and you see these face carvings up close and personal.

The smiling faces of Bayon

The smiling faces of Bayon

As I wound my way through the corridors I found myself drawn to photographing things in frames and creating doorways with elements of the structure without meaning to – there was something that was drawing me to this.  I began to see how, without thinking, I was combining the carvings with stone doors ways and windows was giving me a sense of peace and at the same time creating a beautiful photo.

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After you have wandered within the temple be sure to explore the outer walls too as the outside has a timeless beauty that I felt set it apart from some of the other temples I would later visit.

I could honestly write for days about my thoughts, emotions and how I ‘found’ myself in these places but I am not sure you would still be reading. I have only touched the surface of this land, there is much more to see and explore and it is a very peaceful and spiritual place that affects me like no other.  If you get the opportunity go and experience it for yourself.


Until next Friday. Have a great week.


Cambodia – A Photo Essay

I am so proud to bring you my first Photo Essay slideshow which I created during my trip to Cambodia last July.

With the assistance of Owen Lyell, a video guru, he helped create the full video by adding music and text sections to my slideshow.

This is a beautiful piece of history that I wish to share with you.  I left a small part of myself in Cambodia and hope to return soon.

Please enjoy. Kassy

Cambodia, Siem Reap – A story of love, appreciation and spirituality

This story starts with love. The love of my wonderful husband who surprised me with a gift I had been dreaming about, he had booked me into a photography tour to Cambodia.

In July 2012 I joined a fantastic group of people on a seven day photography tour in Siem Reap, Cambodia.  Little did I know, that my experiences on this trip would not only push me photographically but would change the way I looked at life.

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Keen to explore, I dumped my suitcase in my hotel room, jumped straight into a tuk-tuk for a mini tour around Siem. During this time of year the rain comes and goes, and when I say comes, first you see the grey cloud appear then shortly after you hear it, don’t blink because next it pours.  It wasn’t long before I experienced this first hand. Our tuk-tuk pulled over, pulled down the rain covers and there we sat, it was amazing – sitting on the side of the road looking at the beautiful countryside on one hand and watching the local kids run out and play in the rain, on the other, some had clothes others didn’t but no one cared, they were just having fun.  Watching this took me back to when I was young. I smiled and enjoyed the warm ‘fuzzy’ feeling inside, this is what life should be about.

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The people of Cambodia live simply, are happy and extremely friendly. Children are not sitting in front of computers, they are out playing, laughing and having fun.  They appear not to have a care in the world however the reality is many of them are struggling.

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For every high there is a low and during our visit to one of the killing fields sites I was confronted with the horrible reality of the recent history of a country that lost almost an entire generation. It was here that life takes on a new meaning, life is not about the possessions I own, nor how much money I have, there’s no reason to ‘keep up with the Jones’s’ – life is about living, living honestly and with love in your heart.

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Due to our contacts one part of the tour was a visit to a local village where we met a medicine man running a hospital from his home. His patients were people who had nowhere else to go to recover from the broken bones, illness and other medical conditions they were suffering from.  The conditions were sub-standard to say the least compared to our modern world.

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Cambodia opened my heart and mind.  I found peace and I know that one day I will go back to this wonderful place to explore further and share this amazing place with my family. I believe Cambodia has something to offer everyone young, old and in between.  There is much to write and say about Cambodia and I look forward to sharing more of my experiences with you in future blogs.