Tag: cloud

A bolt smashes down out of a rapidly building cell over the Ripley Valley in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia captured by Australian Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox

Ripley Stormcell

It was a long chase this afternoon. Storms were coming in from the west above the range but it was hard to predict what direction they were going to go once they came off the range. I headed out to a friends place at Gatton to get a better look and it soon became obvious I was too close.

Jumping back in the car I backtracked almost all the way back home and ended up at Ripley. There was lots of scud dropping down and the storm started rotating quite quickly. Hiking up a hill to get a look over the Ripley Valley I came across this amazing sight. There was colour in the cloud from who knows where, greens were popping in the core. Bolts were dropping down as well and the rain was coming on fast.

I took 3 series of 10 shot bursts and managed to nail this one shot with a bolt, very happy and thankful. Then the heavens opened and I had to walk back to the car getting absolutely drenched, I was not game to use an umbrella due to how lightning active the weather was and I carried my tripod as low as possible to avoid becoming a statistic. Thankfully my camera is fully weather sealed, just wish I was too!

A bolt smashes down out of a rapidly building cell over the Ripley Valley in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia captured by Australian Landscape, Storm and Weather photographer Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro, ISO 100, 12mm, F/11, 0.8 sec

That was it for this chase, the rain absolutely bucketed down causing flash flooding throughout the area and built into once massive line that headed over most of Brisbane and the bay.

I sell all of my photographs as Fine Art Prints, Canvas prints and Prints on either Acrylic or Metal, if you’d like one for yourself, simply contact me and I’ll send you pricing details. All photographs are limited edition to a run of 30, once sold out I’ll never be selling or printing another one.

I’ve also added this to my Storm Portfolio, so be sure to check that out.

That’s all for this week, stay safe!

Murray

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3 Lightning bolts crash to the ground out of a storm cell approaching Rosewood Queensland Australia captured by Australian Landscape, Weather and Storm photographer Murray Fox

Welcome Rain & Storms 6th October 2018

With weather finally closing in on the South East of Queensland Australia I had a chance to get out and see what storm activity I could capture. It was very messy from the start. Some systems were pushing in off the range to the west, but others were forming ahead of it.

I started by heading south of Ipswich towards the Kalbar area. There was a nice rain core showing on radar that looked promising. The issue I had was a microburst of rain appeared over the exact area I needed to be in so I could shoot the cell. Not good. Going off the main roads I made my way along a few backroads. As always, if I see something I shoot it, regardless of if it’s good or not. I could see the cool structure in the sky but I needed a foreground. Some locals were taking cover under a tree (dubious in my opinion, but I’m not a cow) and this was to be my first photograph of the day.

A storm approaches over the farmlands near Kalbar Queensland Australia as local cows take cover under a tree by Australian Landscape, Weather and Storm Photographer Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5.2, 12-40mm Lens, ISO 200, 30mm, F/4, 1/500sec, handheld

Now the rain was coming fast and I was out of options. I noticed another cell on the radar was pushing off the range and had a chance of meeting up with this one further north. So time to run back the way I had come. I stopped at a spot I know that has great views to the west to try and get a better sense of what was happening. You can see just how arid and dry the ground is, any rain to fall is certainly more than welcome! In this shot I’m looking west towards Mt Walker and the system I had just moved north of is coming in from the left. It’s not clear now, but the main action is actually taking place on the other side of Mt Walker!

The dry country side south of Ipswich Queensland Australia awaits the impending rain storm coming across the landscape in Queensland Australia. Photograph by Australian Landscape, Weather and Storm Photographer Murray Fox
ISO 200, 18mm, F/4, 1/4000sec

After watching for a little while near Purga, right on the edge of Ipswich, I noticed a very defined wall cloud was forming further west of my location. Time to run! In the car and a drive through the backroads later I came across an active core that was looking great! Lightning bolts were dropping out of the main part of the system, bucketloads of rain was falling for a decent sized core. A bit tricky to shoot as it was also raining right on top of me, thankfully the wind was at my back keeping the water off the front of my lens. I couldn’t use filters to get a longer exposure because of the rain so I resorted to the tried and true technique of Spray and Pray. By counting between bolts I worked out an interval of around 15 seconds was good. So when I saw a bolt, I started counting, and when I got to 13, I would hold the shutter down and take a burst of photographs until my buffer filled up. I missed a few, but I also got a few. This photograph is my favourite from the lot. All 3 bolts captured in the single photograph.

3 Lightning bolts crash to the ground out of a storm cell approaching Rosewood Queensland Australia captured by Australian Landscape, Weather and Storm photographer Murray Fox
ISO 100, 12mm, F/11, 1/5 second low speed burst mode.

By this time the system was getting too close. Everything to the north of me is up in the hills. I thought the view might be okay, but was also concerned about being high when there is lightning around. I decided to go have a look, satisfied with what I had captured so far. By the time I got to my view point, the lightning had stopped, the system had spread a lot further and wider and turned into just really good rain. I’m never going to complain about that and I managed to capture the last of the structure as it approached the hills north of Rosewood.

A storm front approaches the hills around Rosewood in Queensland Australia as captured by Australian Landscape, Weather and Storm photographer Murray Fox
ISO 320, 17mm, F/5.6, 1/80 sec, handheld

And that was it, time to call it a day, head home and start looking at my photographs on the PC.

It was a good but challenging chase, quite messy so tricky to work out the best location to shoot from. That’s mother nature for you, rarely predictable, always beautiful 🙂 To the locals out there reading this, I hope you got a drop, as we all certainly need it.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this weeks post. I do sell my photographs if you are interested in making a purchase. I can create whatever you need from Fine Art Prints, Framed Prints, Canvases, Prints on Acrylic, whatever you need I’m happy to help to get you the artwork you want on your wall. Just contact me and we’ll work it out.

Until next time!

Murray

 

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An absolutely stunning rural landscape photograph captured as the sun sets, lighting up the wheat fields around this beautiful old farming shack near Gatton in the Lockyear Valley, Queensland, Australia. Pure Australian Landscape at its best by Murray Fox Photography.

Little Brown House – Amazing Light After Storms

I had no luck chasing storms this weekend. They all developed further north of my location, too far away for me to get to in time as they formed quickly and moved quickly.

However, one thing I’ve learnt over the last 10+ years, some of the most amazing light comes during and just after bad weather. There were still a few unsettled systems around, the clouds were moving quickly, and it was midday. I figured it might be time to head out and have a play with some long exposures, all the while keeping an eye on the radar just in case something developed further.

I headed out Gatton way and met up with my good mate Craig. Craig is a local and with that comes local knowledge, and access to some amazing locations. We headed to a nearby property where there is a great old building. Waving to the lovely elderly owner as we came in, we setup around the shack and played with various filters, settings, framing, compositions while the clouds streamed across the sky. The colours were great, however it was very harsh light. We soon worked out around 12-16 stops of ND filters would give us around 4-6 minute long exposures if the sun was behind a cloud. Over the next hour or so we took a lot of photos.

In my mind I knew I wanted to get a black and white image. I put a polarising filter on, which had the two benefits of making the blue really pop in the sky (helps it go dark in conversion) and adding around 1-1.5 stops of darkness. Then I also put on a 10 stop and 6 stop filter. So all up, quite a lot of darkening to really get that super long exposure. Thankfully, Olympus has a great feature called Live Time. I set my aperture to F8, ISO to standard 200 for my camera, and the update interval to every 30 seconds. Then I press the shutter and the camera goes for it. Every 30 seconds the back screen updates with the exposure, and the histogram. It’s simply a matter of waiting until I think the exposure looks good and stopping the photograph. I converted the image to Black and White in Photoshop using Nik Silver Efex Pro and decided the darker moody look really worked with the side lighting that was going on and the amazing textures of the shack contrasting against the smooth sky from the long exposure. Here is the final result :

A stunning black and white long exposure of a rural shack near Gatton in Queensland, Australia
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro, ISO 200, F/8, 320 Seconds

This session was a lot of fun. We were in no rush and could really take our time and experiment. I showed Craig how I shoot panoramas, we played with taking time lapses, can’t beat a time like this. Finally we started noticing the colours were getting a little warmer, wow it was starting to get close to sunset.

Making the call, we moved locations to another fantastic shack that sits in the middle of a wheat crop. I’ve photographed Astro here before with Craig and this time were we hoping for one of those magic sunsets. As soon as we arrived and saw the colour of the golden wheat I told Craig we needed to get this photographed while the sun was still up as it would make the whole place glow. Well with the clouds still moving towards the west, the sun was breaking in and out so it was a bit of a race to setup, work out a composition and get some shots in the bag. I wanted to emphasise the amazing crop so I put the sky towards the top of the frame. I also didn’t want to make it all about the sun so I put it right off to the edge as best as I could while keeping a good angle on the shack. I used a Lee 2 stop hard Grad filter, angled slightly to the right to help balance the brightness of the sky with the ground. Within 5 minutes the sun broke through and I captured this photograph :

An absolutely stunning rural landscape photograph captured as the sun sets, lighting up the wheat fields around this beautiful old farming shack near Gatton in the Lockyear Valley, Queensland, Australia. Pure Australian Landscape at its best by Murray Fox Photography.
ISO 200, 12mm, F/5.6, 1/400 sec, 2 stop Lee Hard Grad filter

I honestly think this is the best rural landscape photograph I’ve captured to date and I’ve added it to my Landscape Portfolio. I’m absolutely in love with this image and it brings to my mind some of the awesome building/shack photographs that my idol Ken Duncan has captured over the years in panorama format. I work in 4:3 ratio as that is the standard of my camera and I really just love how everything fell into place with this photo. This will be 100% going on the wall at home.

We stayed until well after sunset, right through blue hour, hoping for more colour in the sky but the clouds to the west ended up blocking the rest of the light. I’m so happy we got here early enough to get this photograph. The title of this photograph was not selected by me, it’s actually the owner of the property who insisted we call it this if we get a photograph, so in honour and with many thanks for the access to his private property, I have called it Little Brown Shack, may she stand over the fields of gold for many years to come. Please make sure you have permission to get access to any locations on rural properties, it’s so important to respect their land.

As a bit of fun, I’d love to know what you think would be a great title for this photograph, post your ideas on the comments below!

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this weeks post. I do sell my photographs if you are interested in making a purchase. I can create whatever you need from Fine Art Prints, Framed Prints, Canvases, Prints on Acrylic, whatever you need I’m happy to help to get you the artwork you want on your wall. Just contact me and we’ll work it out.

Until next time!

Murray

 

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Stunning sunrise from Govenors Chair Lookout at Spicers Gap overlooking the Fassifern Valley in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia by Award Winning Australian Landscape Photography Murray Fox

Govenors Chair Sunrise

This morning was a sunrise meet up for the Scenic Rim Photo Walks group and the plan was to shoot sunrise from a fantastic location. Govenors Chair lookout has a stunning view over Mt Greville and the Fassifern valley. The plan was to arrive around an hour before sunrise which was just after 6am. Being around an hours drive from home, my tired brain set my alarm for 4:40am…uh oh. A quick race out and thankfully no traffic, I was just in time for sunrise. The early colour lit the clouds nicely but I was looking for the light after the sun rose.

Fog was nestled in locations throughout the valley, and there was a lovely haze in the air that just lit up with the morning glow of the sun when it broke through the clouds. This first photograph was looking south east, encompasing a wider view and showing the magnificent gradations of light and colour on the landscape, I absolutely love light like this and this photo shows why. Mind the step tho, that is a straight drop off at the end of the rock! You must practice extreme care photographing here.

Stunning sunrise from Govenors Chair Lookout at Spicers Gap overlooking the Fassifern Valley in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia by Award Winning Australian Landscape Photography Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm, ISO 100, F/10, 1/500 Sec, 2 Stop Grad ND Filter

I also had my Lubitel medium format film camera with me. My first go at shooting colour film, I spent a lot of time metering and taking shots of various compositions as the light changed. I’ll have that roll back in a week or so, very excited to see what results I got, hopefully the exposure is okay because the colour should be amazing.

In between taking film shots, I took a more intimate photograph of Mt Greville. This is a beautiful peak from any direction and lies at the southern end of Lake Moogerah. The way the haze was lighting up the mountain, and the layers of the hills below me created beautiful steps of light that lead into the photograph. I composed this in portrait orientation to get as much of the hills below me in the shot while zoomed in a bit to really capture the size of Mt Greville. Let me know in the comments what you think of this photograph.

Mt Greville in the Scenic Rim of South East Queensland Australia at sunrise, viewed from Govenors Chair Lookout at Spicers Gap with stunning orange colours and light streaming through the landscape by Award Winning Australian Landscape Photography Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, ISO 100, F/10, 1/800 sec

It was a great morning, lovely to catch up with everyone on the photo walk. They are held monthly, I suggest checking the site out and coming along to a walk if you are in the area, it’s a great way to explore and see things you don’t normally see.

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An amazing landscape panorama photograph of the hut in Glen Rock state forrest, east Haldon, Lockyear Valley, Queensland, Australia as the sunsets, painting orange colour and light across the peak.

Went Exploring, found Gold!

This would have to be one of the best afternoons I’ve had in photography for quite a while. I didn’t really have any fixed plan. I knew of a spot with a cool looking hut that I thought might be okay, if the weather played ball. Unfortunately it looked like there was going to be lots of cloud towards the horizon at sunset, so I wasn’t feeling hopeful and notched this down to just an exploration day.

There are a few lines of mountains that run north/south as you approach the Great Dividing Range. Some of these have valleys between them with access. It was one such valley I headed for. On the way in, the peaks started appearing. This one caught my eye so I quickly pulled a u-turn and captured this shot. It’s nothing amazing, but the diffused light on the hill was really illuminating the brighter parts, contrasting against the darker sky.

A peak rises next to East Haldon valley, south of Gatton in the Lockyear Valley of Queensland Australia as the light plays across the face in the beautiful landscape photograph.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, Panasonic 20mm @ f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/640 sec

Heading right up the the end of the Valley I found the hut I was looking for. It’s actually an information centre for the area (not manned) and there is a nice campground across the way, I definitely will be back here in winter astro season, the landscapes around here are fantastic. For this next photograph I thought I’d try a fun technique. I don’t have what is called an Ultra wide angle lens. The widest mine go is 12mm on Micro Four Thirds which is equivalent to 24mm on a full frame camera. Pretty wide, but it’s certainly not ultra wide. Ultra wide lenses make objects very close to them appear very big, and objects further away very small. This is used to great effect by a lot of landscape photographers. To achieve a similar effect, I used a Panasonic 20mm prime lens (equivalent to 40mm) and took a 3×3 grid of photographs starting point almost straight down to well up into the sky, with good overlap side to side and up and down. Make sure you have your camera in full manual exposure mode so nothing changes. I set the exposure with the camera aimed at the brightest part of the scene, and leave it fixed there.

Focusing is also important with this technique. I was very close to the front fence, and that peak is off in the distance. I also was using a very normal lens. It’s physically impossible to get everything sharp in one shot for the framing I had. So I simply used autofocus, set the focus point to centre, stopped down a bit. Each shot focused at the prime position and not only does stitching the photos together create one big, ultra wide angle looking photograph, it also has the effect of focus stacking the images as well for front to back sharpness.

Now, yes, this is a lot of work you may say, and what if something moves, then it won’t work. It took all of 30 seconds to capture the images, and it took 5 minutes in Photoshop to join them. The wind was blowing quite strongly and I can’t see any stitching errors. I also ended up with the equivalent of a 60+mp photograph which is awesome 🙂 I think I’ll be using this technique a lot more often until I can get my hands on an UWA lens.

The information centre hut at east haldon in the glen rock state forrest. Awesome hut with the mountain peak behind in this beautiful landscape photograph
9 photographs in a 3×3 grid stitched. ISO 200, f/8.0, 1/100 sec

Next was time to wait a bit. I was here to try and capture this hut at sunset with the peak behind. Unfortunately the trees were not letting me get the angle I was initially thinking of. I spent a good 40 minutes walking around with my phone, taking shots from various locations and I kept coming back to a wider view of the shack and the peak. So I settled on trying to create a 3:1 panorama photo. This will need around 6 shots with the camera in vertical position. I kept the Panasonic 20mm lens on, it has almost no distortion, and is so sharp. This lens is just awesome for panoramas on my Olympus, just keep an eye out for chromatic aberration in really high contrast areas.

So I setup the tripod, made sure it was 100% level, took a few test runs and then just waited…and waited…and waited….I was beginning to worry nothing really would happen. The sun had already gone behind the mountains behind me, clouds were streaming across, and the wind was picking up again. Right through golden hour I got nothing, the light was just flat. And then literally the moment of sunset, something west of me must have cleared and this amazing light hit the peak behind the shack, also bouncing off the clouds and lighting up the whole scene. I captured my 6 shots as quickly as I could while making sure everything was in sharp focus (let your tripod settle a few seconds after each camera movement). I got two runs at it and then incredibly the light was gone! I worked out looking at my photos it lasted a total of 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Wow…it really proved to me preparation is king.

An amazing landscape panorama photograph of the hut in Glen Rock state forrest, east Haldon, Lockyear Valley, Queensland, Australia as the sunsets, painting orange colour and light across the peak.
6 Vertical Photo Panorama, ISO 200, f/8.0, 1/30 sec

I hung around for another 10 or so minutes but it was becoming obvious that there wouldn’t be a second run of light. I packed up my gear and started to make the couple of hour drive back home. As I went past a local pecan farm, I spotted a water tower in amongst the tall trees. It was getting very dark, but I make it a habit, if something catches my eye, go back and look and take a photo, whether you like it or not. I changed to my Olympus 12-40mm pro lens, quickly setup the tripod and went for the vertical composition. I really just liked the height of everything and the contrast of the water tank to the pecan trees. A bit of fun in editing with the colours and this has to be one of my most favourite Instagram type of photographs I’ve captured. This will be going up on my photo wall for sure.

A great looking raised water tower stands between the rows of Pecan Trees near Gatton in the Lockyear valley, Queensland, Australia, Landscape Photography
ISO 200, f/8.0, 6 seconds

After capturing this photograph, I remembered a collection of structures further up the road I had passed on the way in. I was thinking if there was still enough light I might be able to capture an interesting photograph with them. Coming to the location I had to shoot fast, and work out a composition. This is what I finally settled upon after trying wider and closer. I like the balance between the 3 structures, the low low light gave a bit of an ethereal feeling to the scene, and the clouds still moving quite fast overhead blurred out quite nicely.

One thing I simply love about mirrorless cameras is having an EVF viewfinder. I managed to focus on the middle barn, in near darkness (exposures were out to 30 seconds) manually and could see 100% I had the focus nailed. The live view couldn’t even keep up, but boy, does that EVF with it’s auto gain and focus peaking really make it so easy in low light, absolutely love it. I cropped this to a 2:1 ratio to give a nice balance to the scene.

3 structures in the twilight at Haldon south of Gatton in the Lockyear Vally, Queensland, Australia making for a wonderfully peaceful landscape photograph.
ISO 200, f/9.0, 30 seconds

It pays to get out and visit new areas. It also doesn’t hurt when mother nature decides to play ball and throw some great light around. I’m going to be exploring more of the back valleys and roads, to find more of those little gem locations that mostly only locals know about.

Make sure you subscribe to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers, and find out when my next photo in a project is released!



 

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An amazing lighting bolt strikes the ground on the leading edge of a huge storm system at Redbank Plains near Ipswich Queensland Australia before it moved on to Brisbane causing widespread damage and blackouts.

Massive storm Redbank Plains to Brisbane 11/02/18

All I can say is wow! I’d been watching the forecasts and predictions all week, Sunday was looking promising for some late afternoon storm action. The day was very hot but also had very low humidity, none of the usual forecast websites were warning anything tho so I wasn’t getting my hopes up.

Come the afternoon, bits and pieces of weather were coming down off the range to the south west, with most of the action over the border ranges in NSW. I still wasn’t expecting anything. By around 5pm things looked to be getting a little more organised so I headed to a local spot and met up with Bobby from Mr S Photography (search for him on facebook, great photographer). It was right about this time the storm very suddenly gained structure, and made what appeared to be a right turn and came directly at us.

The sun was setting to the west, throwing some amazing light across the landscape. The wall front was so big, I had to use 7 photos at 12mm (equivalent to 24mm on a full frame camera) just to capture the entire front. Settings on manual, ISO 100, F11 to help get a longer shutter speed and shutter at 1/2 a second. I fired off my shots and stitching the photos together on the computer came up with this amazing panorama.

An amazing panorama of a huge storm wall cloud approaching Redbank Plains near Ipswich Queensland Australia on the 11th of February 2018 11/02/18 before it moved on to Brisbane.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, Olympus 12-40mm pro lens. 7 vertical shots stitched

The storm at this point picked up some quite fast rotation and really started moving. It was no longer possible to capture the entire front so instead I focused on the leading edge to the east as that had the best structure. This time I turned on the live composite function in my Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II. This great piece of technology allows the camera to take a normal exposure at my settings, but it then keeps the shutter open and only adds new light to the base exposure. By running this in 10-20 second bursts, I could keep detail in the moving cloud, but easily capture this huge lightning bolt as it struck the ground.

One of my best storm photographs to date, this ended up on several media websites as well as making page 5 of the Courier Mail.

An amazing lighting bolt strikes the ground on the leading edge of a huge storm system at Redbank Plains near Ipswich Queensland Australia before it moved on to Brisbane causing widespread damage and blackouts.
OMD Em5 Mark II, ISO 100, F8, 1/2 sec, Live Composite, run time 8 seconds.

Very quickly after this we had no choice but to leave. We tried to get a head of it by heading towards the river, however even travelling at 100kph on the highway, this storm now outpaced us and it was a quick wet drive back home, and sit and wait for over an hour for the system to pass.

Make sure you subscribe to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers, and find out when my next photo in a project is released!



 

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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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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 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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