Month: January 2018

Mt Moon in the Scenic Rim south of Boonah in Queensland Australia. Beautiful Dawn light as sunrise approaches, amazing purples and blues in the sky, cloud across the peak and mist laying low on the ground. Australia Day 2018 landscape photography

Australia Day Sunrise 2018 – Just amazing!

I’m always on the lookout for new locations to photograph. Finding those locations and then getting access to them can be tricky here in South East Queensland. We have a lot of rural areas, farms, parks etc that limit just how close you can get to the view you want.

Lately I’ve been interested in shooting more panoramas, last week I caught a great sunset over Lake Moogerah, this week I wanted more of a mountain shot. Scouting around I found a great peak south of Boonah called Mt Moon. it’s slightly off the main road so I’d never really paid attention to it. Google maps showed it could work very well for a panorama, with a couple of challenges to overcome.

First, you couldn’t get that close, I’d have to shoot from the edge of the road around 2-3ks distant. So I figured I’d have to zoom in and decided I’d use the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 prime lens in portrait mode. This lens is fantastically sharp, and stopped down a bit it would easily get all the scene I required in focus as the subject was a good distance away. I also figured I would shoot in the hi-resolution mode of my Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II to give me massive files with a huge amount of detail, and little to no noise. I would need approx 6 vertical shots across the scene to capture the width needed to get a final 3:1 panorama. I would be shooting with the sun (sunrise directly behind me) so it would be a fairly low contrast photograph which would suit the mood I was thinking of.

Arriving on location I picked the spot which would give me the panorama of Mt Moon that I wanted, however I was very soon distracted by the amazing light and colour coming up from behind me as sunrise approached. I simply couldn’t resist capturing a photograph of it and as you’ll see in the video, that colour just kept coming and coming.

Amazing colour in the sky as sunrise approaches the scenic rim near Mt Moon south of Boonah, Queensland, Australia
CLICK TO VIEW LARGE 13sec, f/5.0, ISO 200, Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, Olympus 12-40mm Pro @ 22mm

I was hoping that I could get colour in the sky above the peak, and that first direct orange glow of light hitting the peak itself. As usual nature decides to do it differently and when there was colour in the sky, the light was okay on the peak, lower clouds blocked the direct golden light I was planning on. However, the pre dawn colours turned out to be amazing, throwing up 360 degrees of amazing skies.

There was fog low to the ground in front of Mt Moon that kept coming and going, and some wonderful cloud around the peak. I took many series of shots, trying to time it so that I had both where they looked good. Finally, the reverse sunrise sky turned an amazing shade of purple with wisps of pinks through it. Here is the final photograph, Mt Moon Panorama :

Mt Moon in the Scenic Rim south of Boonah in Queensland Australia. Beautiful Dawn light as sunrise approaches, amazing purples and blues in the sky, cloud across the peak and mist laying low on the ground. Australia Day 2018 landscape photography
CLICK TO VIEW LARGE 1/8sec, f/5.0, ISO 200, Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, Olympus 45mm f/1.8 Lens, Six Shot Panoroama hires mode.

I’m very happy with the final result. The golden hour colour didn’t happen until much later after sunrise, and by that time the colour had all gone from the sky. In the future I may have to work on a bit of a time blend to see if I can put together best best of both parts of sunrise. I did head up the road a little way to a wonderful old abandoned farmhouse and captured the golden hour light shining through. The square crop worked very well for this and this is a perfect photo for my Instagram account.

An abandoned farm house is bathed in golden hour light as the sun breaks through the trees at sunrise, near Mt Moon, south of Boonah in the Scenic Rim Queensland Australia
CLICK TO VIEW LARGE 1/200sec, f/8.0, ISO 200, Olympus Omd Em5 Mark ii, Olympus 45mm f/1.8 lens

Finally, I’ve created a behind the scenes video of this morning, going into some of my setup in more detail, and just displaying some of the amazing light that happened on this wonderful Australia Day 2018.

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Beautiful star trail over Lake Moogerah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia with great colour from the last of sunset and blue hour over the mountains.

Early evening star trails over Lake Moogerah

At a recent meet up with the great folks from Scenic Rim Photo Walks I hung around after sunset to capture this great photograph.

Beautiful star trail over Lake Moogerah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia with great colour from the last of sunset and blue hour over the mountains.

To capture this photograph was actually quite simple thanks to the great technology in my Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II camera. I framed up the photograph in portrait orientation. I set the aperture to f/5.6 for good depth of field, and set the ISO at 400. I’ve found this to be the perfect ISO for my camera at night time where I want to keep detail/colour in the stars during trails.

Next I enabled the Live Composite function of my camera. This awesome feature will capture a photograph at your set exposure, and then update that exposure with only new light every time the shutter speed is reached. So for this one I set the shutter at 10 seconds. So every 10 seconds the camera updated the photo with only new light (in this case the stars), while keeping the rest of the exposure perfect. I ran this for 30 minutes and loved the final result.

Starting the composite when I did while there was still a touch of colour in the sky worked out great, it’s the first time I’ve tried that. The stars also retained some great colour as they trailed, and I even managed to capture a couple of meteorites as seen on this zoomed in view.


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Finding shelter against the impending storm, these cows may be in for a rough time. South East Queensland Australia is well known for it's storm season each summer, this system caused widespread flooding and hail damage.

I came 11th in the 2017 Australian Photographer of the Year – Landscape category

Well the results are out and I came 11th in the Landscape category in the 2017 Australian Photographer of the Year competition. Thats a huge result for my first attempt at this major competition run by Australian Photographic Magazine.

The winning entries are just amazing, and coming 11th in such prestigious company is fantastic motivation to keep pushing and improving my photography. 2018 is off to a great start and I look forward to sharing many more photographs with you.

I’d like to give a shout out to Olympus, all the photos were captured with my Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II camera and the amazing Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 pro lens. So small, portable, weather proof and the quality is brilliant. Thank you!

Here are the 4 Storm photos I submitted from my current portfolio, click on a photo to see it in full.

An amazing storm with stacked layers in the clouds looms over a barn illuminated by light with flinders peak mountain in the background. Captured Christmas day 2017 at Peaks Crossing between Ipswich and Boonah in South East Queenland Australia.

This photograph shows a storm cell hail core as it passes over the landscape of Ipswich Queensland Australia. This area is well known for amazing weather, storms and views.

As the wall of this storm rolls across the landscape, a solitary tree that has seen this all before, stands against the impending weather.

Finding shelter against the impending storm, these cows may be in for a rough time. South East Queensland Australia is well known for it's storm season each summer, this system caused widespread flooding and hail damage.

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A stunning sunset over Lake Moogerah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia. This panorama shows the beautiful wide view of the dead trees in the water, with Mt Greville looming in the background. The sky is full of colour and the ripples of the water reflects this wonderfully.

Lake Moogerah Sunset Panorama

G’Day everyone. With the family all off to see Mamma Mia the musical, I ended up with a free afternoon. There was a meetup for the Scenic Rim Photo Walks group at Lake Moogerah, so all the gear was packed and off I set for the hours drive south to the dam.

It was a very hot and warm day, many people were taking advantage of the lake with jet skiers and water skiers zipping around. The clouds was starting to look very good as sunset approach, but the wind in the main part of the lake was still very strong, it didn’t look like I was going to get one of those perfect reflections.



I decided to head around to the southern part of the lake as it appeared the wind was a little less strong there. Driving down to the waters edge it looked like I was right, it wasn’t a mirror finish, but the ripples were nice and I figured that if there was colour for sunset, this could work.

I walked the shoreline trying to visualise for a panorama, not something I do often so its a little hard to get your head around. I ended up using my phone to take photos, and then crop them in phone to a rough 3:1 aspect ratio to help work out my composition. There were two stumps close to shore, I liked those and wanted them as my foreground interest. Two sets of taller trees on each side of the mountain could work as a nice framing element. After about 20 minutes of moving around I settled on my spot.

I had my tripod as low as it could go, I also had the camera mounted on a nodal point setup in portrait orientation. This basically allows the camera to rotate around the best part of the lens, so when you get back to stitching together the shots, you have very minimal loss of pixels, worked out great. The hardest part is to make sure your tripod is dead level.

I zoomed in to 34mm on my Olympus 12-40mm pro (equivalent to 68mm on a full frame camera). I wanted to bring all the elements of the scene closer to each other. When you are standing there, that mountain really looms over you and with a wide angle, that feeling would have been lost. I put the camera in full manual mode, ISO at my lowest which is 200, Aperture at F9 which gave me just enough depth of field being zoomed in (take a few test shots and check the sharpness on the back of the camera to get this right). I was also going to bracket my exposures as with such a high peak, using a filter would have darkened it down too much for my liking. My camera is the Olympus OMD, Em5 Mark II.

Now it was just a matter of sitting back and waiting. Sunset here in South East Queensland Australia can be a very funny thing, you will get waves of colours and just when you think it’s all over, another blast comes through. After witnessing at least 2 bursts of colour that didn’t light up the scene well, I thought this may end up a dud sunset, but I knew I something could happen so I just waited.

Suddenly the cloud to the right started getting a hint of red, and within 30 seconds it was glowing. I took my shots from right to left (starting where best colour was). 6 vertical shots overall to capture the width of the scene I wanted, 3 exposures for each shot at metered exposure, 2 stops under and 2 stops over. I ditched the underexposed photos as my metered captured the sky perfectly. Here are the final 12 exposures I would work with.

These are the initial exposures I will use to blend, stitch and then post process to create my Moogerah Sunset Panorama.

The colour finally finished so I made my way back to the day use area to meet back up with the group. I captured a great star trail shot which I’ll share up next week with the details on that one.

Post processing this image was going to be a lot of work and I actually had several goes at it. I finally decided to exposure blend the metered photo and the 2 stop over exposed photo from each shot, to bring back some of the detail in the darker parts of the middle ground. This involved taking both photos into Photoshop and using luminosity masks to blend. I finally ended up with these 6 photos ready for stitching to a panorama and then post processing.

These are the photos I will stitch together and then post process to create my Moogerah Sunset Panorama

Now the post processing begins. I created the panorama in Photoshop and then began my adjustments. I did some colour correction to get the colours to where I remembered them. I then used Nik filters to boost the contrast and colours. A final round of sharpening and I was very happy with the result. The final image ended up at 40inches wide at 300dpi, I’ll certainly be able to print this very big.

A stunning sunset over Lake Moogerah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia. This panorama shows the beautiful wide view of the dead trees in the water, with Mt Greville looming in the background. The sky is full of colour and the ripples of the water reflects this wonderfully.

I really enjoyed the process of capturing this panorama, and I’m starting to learn how to visualise the shot. I’m looking forward to repeating this process more this year, keep an eye out!

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A very tall lightning bolt strikes the waters of Moreton Bay east of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia as this storm system passed out across the water heading for Moreton and North Stradebroke Islands.

Lightning over the Bay

Storms had been predicted by the modelling all week for this Saturday. With temperatures pushing 40°C but very low humidity it was beginning to look like they wouldn’t eventuate. When a very small system formed straight over home moving east, I decided this could be something and made the hour run to the coast.

Cleveland Point east of Brisbane Queensland Australia is a great spot for capturing sunrise/sunset and storms over water as it’s surrounded on 3 sides. I sat for a while, watching the radar, I could see something coming, and a very faint cloud structure began to appear. Before long it formed into a wonderful front and as soon as it passed over the bay, amazing lighting began to fire from the clouds.

Rain made it difficult to capture the bolts, there was still a lot of light around so I had to rely on a 6 stop ND filter to reduce my shutter speed to 1/2 a second. Iso was set to my base 200, and the aperture to F4, which wasn’t over exposing the bolts, perfect.

I again used the live composite feature of my Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, this allows camera to keep recording over a period of time, only adding new light. I actually only need to run for about 4 seconds to get this shot, the time added a bit of blur to the water which I really liked.

I’ve processed this to my taste, adjusting the white balance to add some blue to the scene, the grey was a bit too drab for me. Local contrast adjustments to bring out the white wash in the water, and make the lighting pop with a final pass through Nik Color Efex for some finishing touches and contrast.

Here is the final result for you :

A very tall lightning bolt strikes the waters of Moreton Bay east of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia as this storm system passed out across the water heading for Moreton and North Stradebroke Islands.

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A beautiful sunrise at Redbank near Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. The sun is just peaking through the trees, illuminating the grass on the rolling hills and lighting up the clouds and sky with amazing colour.

Redbank Sunrise – Importance of practice

With the weather calming down from the recent spate of storms, its time to get back into shooting some landscape photography. I’ve been reading up on a few techniques including focus stacking and exposure blending, so this morning, armed with a brain full of ideas and a nice local location, I set off to see if I could put those techniques into use.

The visualised photo in my head I wanted to shoot, was direct into the sun, have the light directly onto elements of the landscape, be pinpoint sharp from front to back, front elements extremely close to camera (around 20cm) and have detail in shadows and the majority of the highlights. I wanted colour where the sun is, but not necessarily detail, a nice glow would be perfect. Finally, I was going to shoot in portrait orientation as this allows me to really put the foreground very close to the lens and still show the sky, trickier in landscape orientation without an ultra wide lens.

I used my Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II camera, the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8 pro lens, I had a manfrotto circular polarising filter on, not to bring out colours (impossible when facing towards the sun), but to help knock a little reflection off the greenery, and finally a 3 stop soft graduated filter, just to help keep the sky/highlights under control.

I arrived about 30 minutes before sunrise, this spot is very close to home and I as I was wanting the sun up in the sky there was no real point getting there earlier, even tho the early pre dawn sky colour can be the best, that wasn’t the goal here. I found a nice composition, where the hills act as layers going into the scene, and I had the tops of some nice grasses as my foreground.

For my first tests, I put the camera in aperture priority mode, ISO 200 (base ISO), f5.6 (sharpest point of lens), and camera decides the shutter speed. As I’m on a tripod I wasn’t worried about shutter speed at all. I then enabled the in camera focus bracketing. All I had to do was pick a focus point closest to the bottom of screen, then the camera would take a series of photos, shifting focus until it figured it had everything. At these settings it was taking around 17 photographs. Now storage is easy but that seemed like too many photographs for me, and a review on the back of camera showed a lot of the final ones had been taken well past infinity and were blurry again.

So I decided on a different route, and this turned out to work extremely well and easy. I set the shutter activation in the camera to 2 second delay, and turned on the select and shoot function of the rear LCD screen. I also stopped down the lens to f7.6 so each photo had a little more in focus. Then it was simply a matter of touching the bottom of the screen, waiting 2 seconds, camera took a shot, then touching a little above that, repeat. All in all I could take photos from front of scene to back in 5 shots, then for the final photo I stopped right down to f22 (aiming for sunstars), dropped the exposure by 2 stops and took a final shot clicking on the horizon to capture detail in the brightest parts of the photograph.

Here is the series of photos I ended up with, the first photo is the completed image. Then there are 5 photos used for focus stacking, and the final f22 exposure that was used to bring some sky detail back (the exposure is adjusted here, it was captured 2 stops darker)  :

Display of the selection of photographs used for focus stacking with my olympus omd em5 mark ii as well as for exposure blending.

To post process all of this I started in Adobe Camera Raw. Working on the first image of the focus stack, I made my initial adjustments and then synchronised those settings to the other 4 in the focus stack. For the photo where I was only going to use the sky, I made some specific adjustments relating to that, as well as adjusting the overall exposure so it was very close to the other photographs, I find this helps with blending.

Next I brought everything into Photoshop. I put all the images for stacking into layers of one photograph, auto align, then auto blend > stacking. This gave me a base photo with everything tack sharp front to back, first success!. I then created some bright luminosity masks, selected one that would allow me to merge in the highlights with detail from the f22 photo, and did the blending. I now had a perfect starting photograph, all of my testing this morning had given me the results I wanted to achieve.

From there I went through my normal post processing, which is to use some curves for local contrast adjustments, then take the image into Nik Filters for some final polishing.

Here is the final photograph in detail, I think you’ll agree the results are great, the realism is still there, I’ve been able to get everything tack sharp which is always a challenge, and I have detail in both shadows and highlights where I want them, a success for me!

A beautiful sunrise at Redbank near Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. The sun is just peaking through the trees, illuminating the grass on the rolling hills and lighting up the clouds and sky with amazing colour.

Now it’s possible to get this all in one photograph, and in fact I did. But I’ve found the highlights aren’t quite as detailed, the over all image required a lot more sharpening and noise reduction, hurting the details somewhat. However, I like to enter photographic competitions, and a lot of them don’t allow the techniques used here, so I always endeavour to capture a single image photo as well and keep that just for those times where I wish to use it in a competition. This one, using stacking and blending, is perfect for printing, in fact I’ll be doing that today and adding this to my personal photo wall.

I’m now confident that next landscape photo I take, I can replicate the process with ease and get the results I want. It pays to practice!

I hope this post has given you some ideas, it’s important to experiment, have those practice sessions where there is no pressure, see what works, see what doesn’t (I won’t bother with f22 next time, the nice stars that were over the ground lost so much detail from diffraction I couldn’t use it).

If you want to learn more regarding exposure blending, I highly recommend watching Jimmy McIntyre’s free videos over at http://www.shutterevolve.com/ and if you use Olympus, your manual has very good information on focus bracketing and the Em1 series can focus stack in camera (I do prefer to do it after the fact in Photoshop, more control). Feel free to ask any questions you have and I’ll endeavour to see how I can help.

Be sure to visit regularly, follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I’ll post links to each new blog post as it happens, also follow me on Instagram where I post up my photographs, and My Story will have lots of behind the scenes photos and videos.



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An amazing storm with stacked layers in the clouds looms over a barn illuminated by light with flinders peak mountain in the background. Captured Christmas day 2017 at Peaks Crossing between Ipswich and Boonah in South East Queenland Australia.

Happy New Year for 2018

A very Happy New Year to you all. I’m kicking off the year with a big emphasis on my photography and this website. My blog is now re-invigorated, I’ll be posting about my latest editions to my portfolios, about recent photograph shoots, trips and tricks, and giving you an insight into the behind the scenes of my work.

Christmas day was a real winner for me, a late afternoon storm saw me out south of Ipswich looking at this marvellous cloud formation. As luck would have it I had the perfect scene to compliment the photo. I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a perfect addition to my fine art storm portfolio. Check the full story and photograph here : BARN or click on the photograph below.

An amazing storm with stacked layers in the clouds looms over a barn illuminated by light with flinders peak mountain in the background. Captured Christmas day 2017 at Peaks Crossing between Ipswich and Boonah in South East Queenland Australia.

 

Be sure to visit regularly, follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I’ll post links to each new blog post as it happens, also follow me on Instagram where I post up my photographs, and My Story will have lots of behind the scenes photos and videos.



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