ND Filter Play

It’s a nice warm Saturday morning and after some time in the office it was time to get out and enjoy the sun.  A perfect opportunity to grab the camera bag and finally try out my new (well I have had it since April) ND Filter.  I have a specific photo in mind that I am wanting to capture so it’s a trip to the beach, somewhere with rocks.  I know just the place, time to head south.

Arriving at Hastings Point around 11.30 I find the tide is on the way out, a little further out than I was hoping but why let that get in the way.  So I head off down the track to the beach from the point lookout scouting the location for a good spot to set up.

Now most people who understand photography would be screaming that it is the wrong time of day to get great photos, the sun is high and harsh – balancing light is a real challenge.  This is where my new ND Filter comes into play.  It’s a Hoya ND 500 (for the tech heads that’s 9 stops of light loss).  I can still achieve that slow silky water look by adding this filter on my lens.

Finding a somewhat good location I proceed to set up my tripod keeping it quite low, almost dangerously close to the water should a good wave come in.  After setting up and turning on the live view option on my camera (thinking that it will be easier to see what I am about to photograph) right you may think – wrong.  The sun is streaming down restricting my view of the screen, the tripod is so low that unless I am going to become a mermaid I can’t see through the viewfinder.

Plan B, pick a focus point, put camera back on tripod, switch to manual mode, screw on ND, dial in settings, push button on cable release and hope for the best 🙂 (yes, that’s right – hope for the best).  On first attempt I used a shutter speed of 30 seconds, image looked a little over cooked (over exposed or blown out), so I dial it back to 15 seconds and go again.  Now to see if I am actually capturing anything decent, I pick up the camera (tripod and all) and head over to my bag, using my tshirt and hat I cover the screen to see how my photo looks.  YES – success of some sort, now my horizon is completely falling off the universe (sorry Aug 🙂 ) so will have to fix that in processing (note – not a good habit to get into).

Ok 2 photos down now to try again in a slightly different position.  So I start the process all over again.  This goes on for just about 1/2 an hour and then I decide I must get a photo from another angle, problem is there is a rock in the way and the water is coming in the area I want to put my camera.  So another plan B – I use the rock to hold the tripod from going into the water.  Just to make sure whilst taking the photo I have one hand very close to holding the tripod just in case the water takes the tripod and camera.  Very happy I made that decision as just before I go to take the next shot the wave comes in, drenches my jeans but missing the tripod and camera.  Time to pack up and head home.

After downloading my photos I am pleasantly surprised with the results but as with all things in life, mastering the techniques required is a work in progress and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to play again.

Close to my vision Black & White mist with rocks and water

Close to my vision
Black & White mist with rocks and water

Colour Versions  Left side - Abstract Pastels Right side - Colours of Sunshine

Colour Versions
Left side – Abstract Pastels
Right side – Colours of Sunshine

A few things I learned from today –  Looking at the RAW images I could have pushed the shutter speed to around 20 seconds and got a little better exposure straight out of camera.  I need a back up plan for viewing images and less clothing 😉 .  A few more tips when doing this type of photography, make sure when your camera is on a tripod you turn off any image stabilization on your lens and most importantly clean all your equipment when you get home from the beach – that includes giving your tripod a good long shower (yes, you heard right) as salt water and sand will damage and seize up your equipment real fast.

Until next week.



Just a girl and a Nikon on a Road Trip

Last weekend was Queen’s Birthday long weekend and I had a to do list – after looking at the paperwork in the study and reading the instructions to re-calibrate my computer monitor I decided it was better to grab the camera bag and go on a road trip.

Heading down the highway at 100k we take off heading south no destination in mind just drive until we find something interesting or run out of light.  Just south of Byron I see some parachuter’s, so me being me, I hang my head out the window with camera in hand (yes strap on wrist, thanks to hubby for reminding me) to shoot them, can’t be that hard at 100k I mean dogs hang their heads out windows all the time and they are comfortable and love it.    Wow firstly the shock of the wind hits me, then try and hold the camera straight and still, then focus and actually take some photos, great idea this – not!!  Lucky I did manage a few photos.


About an hour down the road and through the cane fields we stop to grab a drink and I find a unique building that could have either been an old fire house, church or small school.  On the side of the building there is a bell tower with a small bell, only one small issue that I can see is the rope to pull the bell is all the way up at the bell.  I guess this bell hasn’t rung for years but on a positive note a great subject to photograph.


We drive further until we fnd the sea, our stop was Woolgoolga as we stumble upon the Solitary Islands Coastal Walk.  The afternoon sun is behind us as we stroll from point to point, bench to bench and take in the scenery of the beautiful NSW coastline.  I am careful to follow the path, keeping away from the cliff edge, who knows what could happen with my two left feet.


Our final destination for the day is Coffs Harbour, wow has this place changed since I was last here.  It’s all modern and very chic, have to be honest I was a little disappointed not to find some great old historic buildings in the town.   We headed down to the waters edge and the Jetty, it was there I managed to find a little history with the Australian Navy Cadets base and training ship TS Vendetta.


As we head out onto the jetty itself, it is around 4.30pm and the sun was starting to set over on the hills in the distance which is adding some golden light onto the Jetty timber and underneath beams as well as shadows and reflections, perfect opportunity for a sunburst or two.



In the end hubby had to drag me away as the sun faded away and our road trip journey came to an end and we turned the car around and headed back home to Queensland.  A wonderful day exploring, leaving the study and paperwork a distant memory.

Until next week.


Crazy girl and Her Nikon

It’s a Friday morning in Spring, the weather is glorious, the sky is blue, the sun is shining and the birds are singing.  Sounds just about perfect, however at our place you also have the cat who is constantly talking to me so that I finally finish my breakfast, get up off the couch and open the front door so she can go and impersonate a rock for a few hours.

After about an hour of web surfing and a couple of cups of coffee I finally give in and let her out the front.  The day does look so inviting so I decide to take the opportunity to do some photography.  Within a photography group I belong to we have a weekly challenge set by the previous weeks “best photo” winner, (just a bit of fun and to keep us picking up the camera). This weeks theme is water.  I have a great idea in mind, so after letting out the cat I get myself all prepared.

Now this is where the crazy comes into it, picture this, girl (well woman in her 40’s) in oh so comfortable “home pants” that have penguins on them, my “home shirt” a bottle of water, a funnel, a kickboxing bag and of course my Nikon heading out to the front lawn (in full view of the neighbors and all the parents dropping their little darlings off to school).

So I first put down the kickboxing bag onto the front pebbles (I bet you were totally wondering about that piece of equipment 😉 ) sit down on the bag, grab the bottle of water and funnel and proceed to pour water over my Agave’s to create water droplets with a view to get some photos.  Ok first water pour didn’t work that well so with a bit of adjustment of the leaves and myself I go again and now I get some nice little droplets on the leaves (I did however forget to clean them first) never mind, adds character, right? 🙂


Once I have got enough I move the kickbag over to the bottlebrush, which looks about dead after the birds have finished feeding on it over the last few weeks.  Now I am kneeling, again using the funnel pouring water onto the tiny bit of bottlebrush left and of course missed the plant and got the pants, oh well (imagine what the neighbours are thinking now, they must really be worried 😉 ).  The cat is also wondering what I am doing and decides to get into the act and rubs up on me whilst I am getting ready to focus and take a photo.   Take 3 and got the tinest drop on the plant, now for the photography part – this angle, that angle, get below, get above – gee now comes the breeze – this creative stuff is hard work.   I think I might have nailed one shot.


Time to move on so I decide to head into the back garden to see if there is something pretty and colourful in bloom, whoops lucked out there, forgot I don’t like gardening and have brown thumb.  I find a succulent growing amongst the bushes and decide to give this a go.  Grab water bottle and funnel, pour the water and see what happens, whilst waiting to see the droplets, I now have our Labrador (part Kangaroo) jumping on me to say hello, very hard to focus a camera on the tiniest little water drop and take a photo as well but somehow I managed to get one or two.


By this time I am spent, I am wet, I have cat and dog fur on me and I have at least one water photo, an adventure to tell and I haven’t even left the house.  Amazing after all of this I still believe the littlest things in life can be the most pleasurable and rewarding.

Until Next Week.


What’s in my Bag

I thought maybe it was time to do a blog on “What’s in my Bag” or essentially “what equipment do I use and love”. Now to many of my regular readers this really won’t mean a great deal but bear with me as you never know what piece of trivia you’ll pick up 🙂

Before we get into it let me tell you, you don’t have to have the latest and greatest gear (contrary to popular belief).  I was taught, actually had it drilled into me, that it is the photographer that makes the photo not the gear – you can definitely create magic without having to buy the biggest and best.

I am a Nikon girl and before I get any email unsubscribes from my Canon followers ( 🙂 you know who you are), Nikon is the brand I graduated to purely due to how it felt in my hand at the time.  Once you invest in a brand it is just too hard to justify the lost dollars to change over!

Back to the question: “What’s in my Bag?”  I shoot with a Nikon D700, a nice full frame camera which was introduced by Nikon in July 2008, as I stated above it’s not the latest and greatest but I know my baby inside out and can shoot stunning and amazing photos with it (even if I say so myself).  I have a few (about 4) lens – all Nikon brand, a nice 50mm prime lens, which is great for thinking outside the box and actually zooming with your feet; flashes (also called speedlites); a Bowens studio lighting kit; reflectors; plus, of course, cleaning gear.  Oh and lots of accessories like filters, bags, batteries, cables etc.  Honestly if I listed every single piece of photographic gear you would still be sitting here reading next week 😉

What's in my Bag A snapshot

What’s in my Bag
A snapshot

But wait, there’s more!  What’s my favourite piece of gear?  Well, at the end of last year I commented to my lovely husband that I was frustrated about missing photo opportunities when out and about in my normal Monday to Friday life as I felt it was just not possible to carry my Nikon gear with me all the time.  After some research (well truthfully that really involved hearing about and testing another photographer’s gear) I decided to add another “little” baby to my collection.  The baby I chose was the  the mirror-less, micro four-thirds, Olympus OMD-EM5 with a 12-50mm lens (a lens which also boasts a macro function!)  I named my ‘baby’ “OLY” and she (yes, I don’t know why but it is a she) has truly impressed and inspired me.  Although OLY may look like a toy camera, there is nothing toy-like about her other than her size.  This little baby fits nicely in my handbag and goes with me 24/7.

Macro Magic with "OLY"

Macro Magic with “OLY”

I am only really beginning my journey with OLY but so far she is outstanding when it comes to performance.  I have created some stunning images with her including some sunsets I’m very proud of.  She even has the ability to make panoramic or stitched photos so easily without loosing quality in the final image.

Sunsets with my OLY Bottom Image is a 6 image stitch

Sunsets with my OLY
Bottom Image is a 6 image stitch

I also love that due to her size, weighing in under 150 grams, I’ve discovered I can operate her at shutter speeds I would normally need a tripod for with my Nikon D700.  She is and will remain a vital piece of equipment within my bag and will be worthy of her own further in-depth review shortly 🙂

Until next week.