Melbourne – How I Love Thee

This month I headed down to Melbourne for a few days with my wonderful husband to rest, I must admit, not much rest was done.  There is so much to do, it was hard to jam it all in but let me tell you we tried very hard.  In Melbourne, yes you can get all four seasons in one day but it is an amazing city full of history.

Our first day we arrived in the afternoon, it was overcast and raining by the time we got into the City.  Our hotel, Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne on Flinders Street was the perfect choice.  Centrally located, a Heritage Listed building which has been renovated beautifully keeping its feel and style of the 1913’s.  Our suite was grand to say the least, style historic and comfortable.

The weather did not stop us from hitting the street’s after check in, reacquainting ourselves with the CBD streets and where all the sights and streets are.   After wandering around until dark we decided to head back to the hotel and try out the in house restaurant for dinner.  Another great decision our meals were Devine accompanied by a great drop of white wine following with desert (Sorry no pictures, too busy eating and enjoying).

Our first full day in the City was massive – The skydeck, walk around Southbank, cafe lunch, National Gallery of Victoria for the Van Gogh exhibition and 2 floors of sculptures and photography exhibits, Graffiti lanes including the must see AC/DC Lane.  Phew, tired yet!

Not one that is a fan of heights, The Skydeck, is 88 floors up and on a clear day offers you spectacular views of Melbourne.   When you get up in the lift (44 odd seconds from ground up) you have 360 glass wall to wall viewing.  I won’t lie there were many anxious times and I had to stand back from the edges on several occasions.  For obvious reasons we decided not to go out in the “glass sky box”.

The highlight of the day hands down was our trip to the NGV and seeing the Van Gogh exhibition.  I can’t draw, let alone paint (that’s why I photograph), but I love and appreciate all types of art.  The theme of the exhibit was the seasons.  Honestly words cannot describe the absolute beauty and talent of this man.  The paintings are spectacular.  I personally was drawn more to the “darker” colours rather than the bold and bright, regardless of the colour I truly appreciated the raw talent, how he saw light, objects, scenes and the different techniques used in the paintings.

Van Gogh

NGV – Creative Overload

To finish the day we walked up to the “Graffiti Lanes” with one particular lane search in our minds … the AC/DC Lane.  As all good Australian rockers will know, AC/DC in 1975 filmed the classic tune “It’s a long way to the Top” on the back of a flatbed truck travelling down Swanston Street.  Previously known as Corporation Lane the Melbourne City Council honoured AC/DC and officially renamed it to AC/DC Lane on 1 October 2004.  The perfect end to our Day 1.

AC/DC Lane
For Those about to Rock we Salute You

Until next time.


Road Trip

What happens when three friends who also happen to be photographers decide it’s time to go looking for Sunflowers …. ROAD TRIP!!!!

Over the Christmas/New Year holiday break very early one morning I set off to meet up with my photobuddy and great friend, Karen, to head out west to see if we could find and photograph the sunflower fields.  For those that recall we headed out about 12 months ago but most of the sunflowers had been damaged with storms and as I say “At first if you don’t succeed try and try again”, or it’s a great excuse for a day in the county in the company of friends.

After about a 2 hour road trip in the west direction (I think) and over the range we arrived at our first destination to meet up with our other friend and photobuddy, Glenda.  Glenda is much of a local to these areas and was willing (does she know what she is in for 😉 ) and able to take us on a tour of back roads, interesting sites and various destinations.

Our first stop was close in town at the old Good Year store, Glenda had been wanting to photo this piece of history for awhile, when we first arrived we were disappointed to see a car right in the way however just as we were voicing our disappointment and wished that the car would move, within a minute, the car owner came and drove away.  The power of positive thoughts, right!   Out we hopped and had a great time photographing, one ticked off Glenda’s list.


During our day together we found many treasures, old churches, cemeteries and trees (lots and lots of tress) to photograph but unfortunately not many sunflowers, most of the large fields had been harvested early leaving behind just acres and acres of bare land.  I am unable to recall the actual names of the places we visited, there was just too many – loads of back streets and dirt roads travelled.


Of course with 3 photographers in the car there was the more than occasional –  “stop here, now” moment when something special was found and had to be photographed, thankfully we were not on any time constraints.  Truth be told when one of us couldn’t be bothered saying stop, and to the dismay of the other 2 of us, hung her camera out the sunroof, as the wind was howling, and just took photos that way.


Our last stop for the day was to enjoy a drink and late lunch at the Bar before we heading off for the 2 hour odd journey back home.  By the time I got home that evening I was very tired but so elated.  There is something about a day in the country that just calms the soul, maybe it was the great company, the many many laughs we had or the raw nature that we are blessed with – I think it is a combination of all these.


Thanks ladies, can’t wait to do it again.

Until next week.


Sunflowers and other things adventure part 2

As promised a couple of weeks ago here is Part 2 of my recent trip out west.  We pick up at lunchtime in Toowoomba 🙂 . After our wonderful lunch we headed back out to in the direction of Allora in the search of better sunflower fields. Along the way we couldn’t help it but take some side roads to see what we would find.

It was not long before we came across this charming little small town called Clifton. Clifton is known for been the backdrop to many Australian movies including The Thornbirds. The railway station was in service from the 1870’s and closed in 1998. Since 2012 it has been home to the Visitors Information Centre and has some great photo opportunities. One thing you do have to watch is when you are lining up a great low shot make sure to check your surrounds otherwise you may find something a little “extra” when you download your photos and find your photoshop skills are not up to the task of removing 😉 .

Clifton Railway Station Remember to check your surrounds you may end up with a little "extra" in your photo

Clifton Railway Station
Remember to check your surrounds you may end up with a little “extra” in your photo

Heading back out of Clifton we found an almost deserted road, detour time!   We came across this rustic old farm house, having the benefit of the afternoon light, we pulled over the car and got out to explore. One thing I found is that no matter how good a friend you have, when you are petrified of snakes, they will not hold your hand so you can get up to the fence to get a better photo (they want that photo for themselves), sometimes you just have to put on your big girl pants and either walk through the weeds or stand on the road and deal with the fence in the way of your shot. For those interested my big girl pants didn’t last too long 🙂 but I still got some awesome photos, even with the fence.

Beauty even with a fence post

Beauty even with a fence post

We then continued on to find other Sunflower field but unfortunately what we found was not favourable photographically with the direction of the afternoon light. It seems that these Sunflowers don’t actually follow and face the sun (something I didn’t know). It really didn’t matter we still found many things to occupy our time.

Sunflowers in the afternoon sun

Sunflowers in the afternoon sun

As it was getting late we were hesitant but needed to start our journey home. On the way back to the coast was a small sunflower field with a windmill that was filled with birds, we couldn’t help it and had to stop.  The sunflowers were very damaged but the birds were all around.   I didn’t have a lens long enough to just stay at the car and photograph the birds from the distance so had to take small steps across the road to try and to get close enough. Each time I moved so did the birds, we had to play the game of patience. At one stage I moved a little too fast and we were left in awe when the full flock of birds just flew off the flowers and tree trunks and flew directly above us and circled around. It was something that I can’t describe the feeling in words, all I can say is WOW what a magic moment to witness.


Off again on our way home, we had to stop again just before heading down the mountain due to an accident they were clearing away. I was ‘naughty’ and took the opportunity to put down the window and start photographing the mountain side with just the right amount of light. Make the most of every situation in life, right.

We couldn’t resist the afternoon light and made a few more quick stops on the way home (Lesson – If you are not a photographer don’t travel with one unless you are happy to be late). It was a wonderful and productive day spent with friends who enjoy the simple pleasures in life. We are so blessed Australia is truly the lucky country. There is just so much country to see, explore and shoot.

Our last stop  Couldn't resist the last light of the day

Our last stop
Couldn’t resist the last light of the day

Until next week.

A trip in the Country

When I find myself getting burnt out or just need to grab a fresh perspective on something, I grab my camera, phone and car keys and just head out for a drive, Destination unknown, time is not an issue, just me, my camera and my thoughts.

Sometime back when feeling this way, I took a drive into the country, in the North Coast of NSW I came across this small village not too far away from Lismore called “Bexhill”, this small village has a population of less than 500 people.  It might be small but is home to something very special.

When driving through the town I saw a sign directing me to Inspiration Point and the Open Air Cathedral, just perfect for a day like today when needing a place to be still.  I had to go and check it out.

On entering and walking up the pathway I was greeted with signs that told me a little of the history and purpose, they confirm this is a place of worship and is to be respected.  At the top of the archway mounted on some timber is a beautiful verse that I just had to stop and read, it certainly set the tone.

You are warmly greeted when you enter

You are warmly greeted when you enter

Walking further through the path I felt warm, comfortable and welcome to this area, the benches invite you to sit down, whether for a minute or an hour, you sit and take in the incredible view.  I am surrounded by nature, love and peace.  When ready to leave I feel the weight of the world off my shoulders, it is certainly an experience to remember.

Open Air Cathedral and View at Bexhill

Open Air Cathedral and View at Bexhill

Open Air Cathedral at Bexhill

Open Air Cathedral at Bexhill

When I arrived home feeling refreshed I had to jump onto google and find out more.  “The Open Air Cathedral has been maintained by the Christian Church for over 50 years and is a perfect place for either an outdoor wedding or a quiet spot to sit and reflect.” “The Cathedral overlooks the Corndale Valley with views of the Nightcap National Park in the distance.” Yes I was right, a great find and a very special place.  If you are interested in more details please check out their website.

Until next week.



A Different Perspective

This month the AIPP (for those non photography blog followers, this stands for Australian Institute of Professional Photographers) held their annual Event, this is a photography conference that runs for 3 days and is packaged with guest speakers, workshops and of course some social and networking opportunities.

This year was my first time attending The Event and wow what a jam packed 3 days it was. Each day had a keynote speaker and then you had choice for either workshops or seminars to attend for the rest of the day.   For me there were many light bulb moments, absolute heart pulling, tear creating seminars and also some totally inspiring and thought provoking moments over the 3 day period.  Each speaker I saw deserves a blog on its own as I took different things away for each person, too much to summarise today.

This blog I wanted to focus on the seminar I attended by Tony Hewitt, Tony specialises in Fine Art Landscapes.  Tony has a very creative mind and can see magic in the plainest of subjects.  Tony has vision and can recite poetry on what he sees within his own mind and transforms into his fine art image.  Tony spoke about finding inspiration and creativity in your photography.   Tony said some key things during his talk “keep looking for your own style, it hides beneath you, allow your own style to come through, don’t be afraid to bring your vision to life as your mind saw it, don’t be afraid to try, give yourself permission to fail, this is how we grow.” All of this gave me plenty to think about.

After The Event was over I was keen to put what Tony said into practise, I am stuck in a rut and need to allow my creativity freedom to flow, it has been squashed by desk and paperwork for too long.  This is my chance to look for and find my own style.  Time for another road trip out west, this time we decided to head out to Warwick.  I didn’t want to just take my normal lens and camera and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to test out the Lens Baby Composer Pro, this is a manual focus lens that you drop in a specific aperture disk and use the swivel of the lens to find your focus area and allow some creative movement or blur effects in other areas of the photo – it’s pretty cool but needs some getting used to, some, well I should say a lot.  I was excited to get out for the day and “play” and see what I could create with this little “fun” lens.

I found the Lens Baby a little hit and miss, something you need to practise and need time to master but keeping Tony’s voice in my head each time we stopped I would take in the scene and let my mind decide what my photo was to be.  This is a great technique if you are struggling to find that creative edge or just need a push – again with Tony in mind, “allowing yourself to fail, to grow, that way if you are prepared to do the things that don’t really work, you will find out what does work”

As you will see by my photos, some ideas worked and some didn’t – some things that were in my head didn’t quite get the message across and some did.

The movement in the trees and earth yet a silent and still clear reflection of our beautiful earth

The movement in the trees and earth yet a silent and still has a part of a clear reflection of our beautiful earth, a metaphor for life (perhaps?)

The darkness of the forest trees from a new perspective

The darkness of the forest trees from a new perspective

Chaos on a clear winters day

Chaos on a clear winters day – did it work??? I’m not sure

So much more in my head.  I saw mist, light, trees, separation - all of which doesn't quite come through on this photo

So much more in my head.
I saw mist, light, trees, separation – all of which doesn’t quite come through on this photo

A different perspective.  Isolate, use lines and patterns. Don't be afraid to only show a part not the whole.  It might tell your story better

A different perspective.
Isolate, use lines and patterns.
Don’t be afraid to only show a part not the whole. It might tell your story better

So what did I learn and take away from this experience, new techniques – take time and practise to master.  It also takes time to allow your mind to open and visualise and let creativity flow, so spend time getting to know your location and play with the angles and above all else listen to that inner voice and allow the magic to happen, above all else don’t stop clicking and trying new things.

Until next 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, 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.