Tag: ipswich

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.

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A golden sunrise landscape photograph art at Tallegalla near Ipswich Queensland Australia as golden light lights up the trees down through the valley over looking the distant hills.

Golden Tallegalla – The importance of projects

Every now and then I think we all get into a bit of a rut, or hit a point where we are struggling to find something to shoot. With storm season this year being extremely quite, I turned my attention back to landscape photography and almost instantly found it really hard to find something new to photograph.

It’s taken me a few weeks but I’ve finally come up with a plan for the rest of the year, giving myself 3 projects on top of my ongoing storm photography. These projects will help me to focus on exactly what I am going to photograph, to develop a theme around the project, and make it easier to find locations. Giving yourself a project helps in many ways. It gives you motivation, it enables you to focus your skills and knowledge in the right areas, in pursuit of a goal. It gives you a goal to achieve, and each new photograph for the project is a massive boost to self confidence in your own work, and drives you to capture the next photograph. The failures also help. You soon learn why it didn’t work for you, maybe it needs to be in different light, better light, low light, nighttime? Regardless of the problem, you can only learn and grow by trying and either failing or succeeding.

The first of these projects is unseen landscapes. That’s not to say no-one has ever seen them, people will drive past them everyday, but no-one is out there photographing them. I’m looking for those little hidden nooks only locals know, the backroads, the dirt roads traffic never seems to go down. I’ve even made it more specific and want to shoot the majority in sunrise sidelight. Sunrise just works for me keeping a good photography/life balance. It’s also the time of day when there is rarely any wind, and it’s just perfect for landscapes. The trick here in South East Queensland Australia is that beautiful orange first direct light of golden hour, lasts a total of 3 minutes, I counted!

You have to be extremely well prepared. You need to know your location, know your subject, know the direction of the sun, have your camera setup, all your settings correct, composition framed and sorted, tripod locked down, and then watch that light like a hawk! As a rule I like to get to locations around an hour before actual sunrise, this gives me some time to get everything sorted, do a bit of testing. Then it’s usually a matter of lots of waiting, and 3 minutes of adrenaline heart pumping photography, checking histograms, bracketing if required, checking focus, double checking focus, focus stacking if needed….and it’s all over.

To kick off this project, I went to a location I came across last year but never got around to photographing. I had a very clear pre-visualisation in my head of what I wanted to capture. It would be that first golden light, coming across the tops of the trees. Anything else in the scene was going to be a bonus, including the sky. I was making this about the landscape and the rest be dammed.

We’ll, that golden light turned up right on queue, and it hit the foreground as well, and the sky while having no clouds, had amazing colour right across the spectrum. And the trees lit up with golden light, I achieved exactly what I set out to do. I have the first photo of this project in the bag. I have a Google Earth map chock with other locations to visit, right across the year. I’m looking forward to exploring the local landscapes, keeping to my simple project rules and putting together a great collection of photographs.

Here is Golden Tallegalla. I’ve added this to my landscape portfolio which will slowly be updated to photos from this project.

A golden sunrise landscape photograph art at Tallegalla near Ipswich Queensland Australia as golden light lights up the trees down through the valley over looking the distant hills.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro Lens, F/8, ISO 200, 1/20 sec. Polariser

Finally, I mentioned 3 projects. Well one of them is to work on an astro photography series, more oriented at this winter. The other I’m keeping to myself. I have a few images already in the bag, but I want to get together a collection of 10-20 photographs before I release those as a series.

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A beautiful big tree bathed in soft light at Flinders Plum near Ipswich Queensland Australia

Peaks and Creeks – Flinders Plum

Grey skies, drizzling rain, flat light, seemed like the perfect time to go for a hike at Flinders Plum up Sandy Creek. I’d been here once before on a workshop with the brilliant Nature photographer James Doyle. That was a great morning seeking out birds and other wildlife, however my plan this morning was to look for more landscape oriented photographs.

The drive in to this spot is almost an adventure in itself, a wonderful road that is dirt for the last section, winds its way alongside the creek, crossing it several times. I arrived at the end carpark around 6am, the sun was up but with so much cloud it didn’t matter, a slight drizzle of rain had set in, a light rain jacket took care of that and my Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, and 12-40mm pro lens are weather sealed so no issues there either.

Flinders Plum, as the carpark area is called, is the launching point for several walks in the area, the longest and most extreme being the walk to the summit of Flinders Peak. Today I was going to follow the track up Sandy Creek and see what I could find.

Before heading off, I just had to take a portrait of this tree right next to the carpark, it’s a beautiful big tree and the early soft light made it just look wonderful.

A beautiful big tree bathed in soft light at Flinders Plum near Ipswich Queensland Australia
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, Olympus 12-40mm Pro lens. ISO 200, f/8, 1/13 sec.

Next I headed off up the track that crosses Sandy Creek a few times along the way. I was definitely the first person through this way this morning judging by the amount of spider webs I kept walking into. Pro Tip, hold out your tripod in front of you when the path narrows! There was plenty of wildlife around with Roos and Wallabys hopping off into the bush as I approached and the calls of various birds echoing through the air.

Walking along the Sandy Creek track at Flinders Plum near Ipswich Queensland Australia in the Goolman Range
ISO 200, f/8, 1/30 sec

The first creek crossing I came too looked promising for a photograph, I scouted around a bit and carefully picked my way through the rocks to find this composition. I really liked how the trees were closing in over the creek. Running water would have been awesome but I think the area needs a lot more rain before that happens, something to keep in mind for the future however. I must note, the use of a polarising filter was critical on this day for remove reflections on the rocks, and leaves from that huge bright white light in the sky. It really brought out the colours and cut the glare.

A beautiful view up Sandy Creek at Flinders Plum in the Goolman Range near Ipswich Queensland Australia landscape photograph
ISO 200, f/8, 2.5 sec

Futher up the track I came across the old cattle yards. I looked around this area quite a while for a composition but due to a large amount of overgrowth I just wasn’t having luck this day. I decided to move on and around 10 minutes later I took a small detour off the main track to come across this lovely view south of the mighty Flinders Peak, the highest peak in the Teviot range.

A view through the trees of Flinders Peak in the Goolman range south of Ipswich Queensland Australia, landscape photography
ISO 200, f/8, 1/30 sec

Heading back to the main track I saw this wonderful view of Mt Goolman, shaped like a pyramid looming through the trees. This area is dotted with Bunya Pines which contrast against the typical aussie bush landscapes.

Mt Goolman through the trees in the Teviot range along Sandy Creek from Flinders Plum south of Ipswich Queensland Australia
ISO 200, f/8, 1/25 sec

By this time the rain was starting to pick up just a little and the wind had started to blow a bit stronger. I made my way back along the track to the carpark. I took one final detour down to the creek again at the start of the Mount Blaine track, looking downstream to another great creek scene with trees leaning in over the wonderful rock strewn bed.

The rocky creek bed of Sandy Creek at Flinders Plum in the Teviot range south of Ipswich Queensland Australia, intimate landscape photography
ISO 200, f/8, 1/2 sec

Finally it was time to sit down and relax and have a well deserved coffee. The picnic area here has all the facilities you could ever need including bbq’s and toilets, and great covered tables. All up my wandering took me 3 hours, it was a great start to the day and I’ll certainly be back to explore more. If you are ever in the area, I highly suggest making a trip out here, don’t forget your camera!

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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 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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