Tag: scenic

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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How to Fake an Ultra Wide Angle Photograph

Astro didn’t work out for me this week, so I decided to practice a technique I’ve only used a couple of times. By stitching a series of photographs taken with a normal field of view lens, it’s possible to get an ultra wide angle photograph.

I’m now going to be vlogging all of my photo trips and putting them on youtube. I’ve uploaded my first vlog which goes into more detail about how I captured this photograph :

And here is the end result photograph :

3x3 Grid Stitched Panorama
A beautiful sunset near Ipswich, Queensland, Australia. This blog and Vlog show how you can fake an ultra wide angle photograph using a normal lens.

Here is a list of the gear I use. These are affiliate links, by following them and making a purchase you help support my photography at no extra cost to yourself.

* Camera : Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II Body Only – Silver
* Canon FD to M43rd Adapter : K&F Concept Lens Mount Adapter for Canon FD Lens to Micro 4/3 Cameras
* My Goto Landscape Lens : Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Black Len
* My Favourite Tripod : ZOMEi Z818C Carbon Fiber Camera Tripod With Quick Release Plate and Ball Head (Blue)
* Best Budget Filters Ever : Zomei 10 in 1 Square Z-PRO Series Filter Kit
* Best Budget Portrait Lens Made! : Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 45mm F1.8 (Black) Lens
* The Perfect Walkaround Lens : Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 Pancake Lens
* A great CPL for your 12-40mm : Manfrotto MFESSCPL-62 62 mm Essential Circular Polarizer Filter
* The Best Aftermarket Battery Kit : DSTE 2X BLN-1 Battery + DC133 Travel and Car Charger Adapter

Be sure to visit at least weekly to keep up to date with my latest blog posts and can I suggest subscribing to my email list to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



You can also 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 milky way core over the train tracks near Rosewood, Ipswich, Queensland, Australia

Midnight Express

With only a month or so left this astro season to get the Milkyway core, timing is becoming everything. This year the moon is really playing havoc. Ideally I want a thin sliver of moon, behind me when I’m looking at the Milkyway. Not this year, it will only be full moons and they will be right in the middle of the core, massive pain in the @ss.

So my only real option is to shoot when there is no moon. This weekend is the last chance for the next few weeks so I sat down on Friday night and figured out what I wanted to photograph. There are a couple of photos I really want to get, but they are just concepts in my head, I haven’t found the location that’s right to pull those off.

I settled on looking for roads or anything else that went in the direction of the core when it was around 30 degrees up in the West. There were a few promising dirt roads, but then I saw the train line running west from Rosewood, with a crossing, and knew I had to give this a try.

A quick trip from home, slowed down somewhat by the dozens of Kangaroos lining the edge of the road. They were all happily feeding but boy it makes you jumpy and your eyes get very sore as you keep them locked wide open looking for one who decides to try and race you. All good tho, I arrived on location without incident. Getting out of the car it was dark, it would take a bit of time for my eyes to adjust, but the one thing I could see was the core and it was incredibly bright! Crystal clear conditions, temps around 10 degrees C, no fog or mist. There was just a slight breeze coming in from the west and although that put a real chill in the air, it was keeping conditions amazingly clean.

I picked this spot for several reasons. One, its a crossing with notification, it also has a good kilometre or two of track in both directions, very easy to spot anything oncoming. I also had checked the timetables at home, not many things running at 12:30am out this way thankfully. So yes, there is an element of danger to this, I only spent time on the crossing to change settings and activate a shot, then I would move off the crossing and keep an eye down the lines.

Other than some ninja cows in a nearby paddock deciding to scare the bejezus out of me, there was nothing around. As there was no moon, I would have to blend exposures to get both the tracks illuminated and the Milkyway captured.

For the foreground I put the camera in to Bulb mode, ISO 640, F2.8, and locked the shutter open. I used a torch to paint along the tracks for around 20 seconds, then let it run for a full 4 minutes capturing ambient light. This worked well and I could tick off the foreground shot. For the stars, I refocused carefully on a bright star making sure not to move the camera at all. I then changed my ISO to 3200, set shutterspeed to 15 seconds, still at F2.8 and got my star shots. It was an easy blend using a simple mask in photo shop to merge the two together. From there I went through my normal editing workflow to get this final result :

An amazing milky way core over the train tracks near Rosewood, Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 2 Shots Blended, 12mm

As you can see, I’ve kept the ground except for the tracks quite dark, but still with some detail. This is night after all. I also like how the light painting of the tracks came out, it’s almost like I’m at the front of a train, or walking the line.

I’ve added this photograph to my Astro Nightscape Portfolio, please check out my other works. You can purchase my photographs as prints, canvases, or metallic prints, simply contact me to request a quote.

Here is a list of the gear I use. These are affiliate links, by following them and making a purchase you help support my photography at no extra cost to yourself.

* Camera : Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II Body Only – Silver
* Canon FD to M43rd Adapter : K&F Concept Lens Mount Adapter for Canon FD Lens to Micro 4/3 Cameras
* My Goto Landscape Lens : Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Black Len
* My Favourite Tripod : ZOMEi Z818C Carbon Fiber Camera Tripod With Quick Release Plate and Ball Head (Blue)
* Best Budget Filters Ever : Zomei 10 in 1 Square Z-PRO Series Filter Kit
* Best Budget Portrait Lens Made! : Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 45mm F1.8 (Black) Lens
* The Perfect Walkaround Lens : Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 Pancake Lens
* A great CPL for your 12-40mm : Manfrotto MFESSCPL-62 62 mm Essential Circular Polarizer Filter
* The Best Aftermarket Battery Kit : DSTE 2X BLN-1 Battery + DC133 Travel and Car Charger Adapter

Be sure to visit at least weekly to keep up to date with my latest blog posts and can I suggest subscribing to my email list to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



You can also 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 view of the core of the milky way rising over a windmill in the rural countryside near Ipswich Queensland Australia as captured by Award winning Landscape storm and weather photographer Murray Fox

Windmill Core

The moon has gone again this weekend and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky for 300ks. The temperature was forecast to be the lowest so far this year (around 5 degrees C in town, more like 2 degrees in the countryside). It looked like a perfect night for some more astro photography. With a slight breeze, everything stayed perfectly dry, no condensation whatsoever.

I caught up with my friend and after packing a few supplies (Picnic chocolate bars and Ice Coffee…yes Ice lol!) we headed out to a location I knew, but had not visited recently. I had word that a new windmill had been erected here and it looked like it was going to be in good alignment with the rising core of the Milkyway. With Mt Walker to the east of it, I thought I could get a really nice backdrop.

Arriving on sight we spent 10 minutes walking around looking at the angles. We noticed that we had a couple of problems to deal with. The first one as the core was not north enough to really put Mt Walker into the framing I wanted with the angle of lens I was using. The big one was the head of the windmill was facing almost due south, making it extremely hard to get a good view of it, and the core.

You can see from this first photograph the layout of the scene and one of my first attempts at seeing what result I could get. Mt Walker is to the left and there just wasn’t a workable angle.

A great view of Mt Walker at night with the core of the milky way rising over a windmill in this pure Australian Night time landscape photograph captured near Ipswich Queensland Australia by Award winning landscape weather storm photographer Murray Fox
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro, F/2.8, 15 seconds, ISO 5000

Never one to give up, and we had a good hour window of shooting before the core was too high in the scene. I kept moving around working angles. Around 80 photos later (and they are all long exposures) I found I really liked this composition. Going vertical to really show the height of the Windmill, the core almost comes blasting out of it. And to top it off there were meteorites regularly dropping across they sky.

The peak of those is next weekend, it was great to see some real fireballs this night. I switched to a 20mm f.17 prime lens for this shot allowing a shorter shutter time (less noise) and a wider aperture (more light). This more zoomed in lens also enlarges the size of the core compared to the foreground, really bringing it into view. This also really captured the colours in the stars. The windmill and ground were illuminated with a torch my friend held to the side of the scene, painting over it with very quick movements. The slight breeze was enough to cause the windmill to turn, and I like the blurring effect during the long exposure, gives a nice sense of movement. The flat top of Mt Walker in the background is just enough in frame here to add some interest and give a sense of location.

An amazing view of the core of the milky way rising over a windmill in the rural countryside near Ipswich Queensland Australia as captured by Award winning Landscape storm and weather photographer Murray Fox
ISO 3200, 8 seconds, 20mm, F/1.7

This photograph has been added to my Astro Nightscapes gallery, really flowing well with my recent captures.

Here is a list of the gear I use. These are affiliate links, by following them and making a purchase you help support my photography at no extra cost to yourself.

* Camera : Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II Body Only – Silver
* Canon FD to M43rd Adapter : K&F Concept Lens Mount Adapter for Canon FD Lens to Micro 4/3 Cameras
* My Goto Landscape Lens : Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 12-40mm f2.8 PRO Black Len
* My Favourite Tripod : ZOMEi Z818C Carbon Fiber Camera Tripod With Quick Release Plate and Ball Head (Blue)
* Best Budget Filters Ever : Zomei 10 in 1 Square Z-PRO Series Filter Kit
* Best Budget Portrait Lens Made! : Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 45mm F1.8 (Black) Lens
* The Perfect Walkaround Lens : Panasonic 20mm F/1.7 Pancake Lens
* A great CPL for your 12-40mm : Manfrotto MFESSCPL-62 62 mm Essential Circular Polarizer Filter
* The Best Aftermarket Battery Kit : DSTE 2X BLN-1 Battery + DC133 Travel and Car Charger Adapter

All of my photographs are available for purchase as Fine Art Prints in A2 and A3 size, as well as ready to hang Canvas Prints. Just contact me for pricing.

Be sure to visit at least weekly to keep up to date with my latest blog posts and can I suggest subscribing to my email list to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



You can also 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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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.

Please subscribe to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



 

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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A beautiful dawn sky lights up the landscape over this old farmhouse in South East Queensland Australia

Beautiful Farmhouse Sunrise

I honestly think Queensland has the best old farmhouses in Australia. These beautiful old buildings dot the landscape, usually tucked away in little corners, some more known that others. I discovered this one a few years ago and finally thought conditions would be right to try and photograph it.

It’s a good drive from home, so another early start was required to get to my spot an hour before sunrise. I often find the best colour of sunrise to be before the sun gets up, the deep saturated colours look amazing and to capture them, you need to be on site well before time, setup, framed, and ready to shoot.

Battling my way through neck high grasses I got to my vantage point on the fenceline (thankfully a bit clearer) and set up shop. My aim this morning was to capture two, maybe three photographs of the same scene, each in their own different way.

The first photograph I captured was during the peak colour of dawn. The colour penetrates far into the sky, illuminating several layers of clouds which is always great as it puts colour everywhere. There was a little bit of a breeze, adding  to softness in the grass in the foreground due to movement over a long exposure. I framed everything quite centrally as I find it gives a lovely feeling of calm, just the thing for a scene like this. I used a 3 stop graduated filter to control the brightness in the sky.

A beautiful dawn sky lights up the landscape over this old farmhouse in South East Queensland Australia
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark 2, 12-40mm Pro @ 30mm, ISO 200, F/5.6, 50 second exposure

Next I decided to extend the exposure time even long and added a 6 stop filter. The clouds weren’t moving as fast as I hoped, but I waited for the light to be bright enough to give me around a 3-4 minute exposure, set my camera to live time and let it rip. Live time allows you to see regular updates of your exposure to ensure you get it perfect everytime. I had updates at every 30 seconds for this shot.

I do like this effect, the clouds soften right up and the foreground became even softer giving an almost dream like effect.

A stunning long exposure of a farmhouse with an amazing colourful dawn sky in South East Queensland Australia
ISO 200, 4 minutes, F/5.6

The final photograph I wanted to capture didn’t happen. The sun was to rise above the farmhouse right next to the mountain in the background. Unfortunately the clouds closed in and kept that light from happening. Welcome to landscape photography and I wasn’t upset in the least and very happy with the two photographs I got. I think it’s important to take the time and stay in your location for as long as possible to cover all the variations in light that may happen.

Thank you for reading this post. I would love to hear your opinions on this post or even just when is your favourite time of day in the comments below.

Please subscribe to receive occasional Tips, Ideas, News of Prints and Offers.



 

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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A beautiful old tractor sits in the paddock as the core of the milky way lights up the sky above it near Kalbar and Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia south of Ipswich.

Kicking off Milkyway Season with a Bang!

With clear skies at night, not too cold and not too warm, conditions were absolutely perfect to chase some Milky Way photographs. It would mean a couple of late nights as the core only started to rise around 11pm, with peak time 1-2am however it certainly was worth it.

During the off season I’ve been watching a lot of videos and reading up on various techniques used by the best of the best when it comes to night time and astro photography. I had a head full of new ideas, which included changes to how I worked in the field capturing the images, as well as how I post processed the photos back on the computer.

Now I’ll be very up front about this, none of these photographs are a single image. It’s possible to do, however I don’t believe you can get the quality of file, increase of detail and control of noise in a single image, that you can get with multiple exposures. Some people get their knickers in a knot if it isn’t a single photograph, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. My simple goal was to create an image of the vision in my head, using any tools and methods I could.

I met up with a very good friend and we decided to head south of Ipswich towards the rural farming areas. I knew of a couple of barns and other items that could make for a very interesting foreground, and hopefully would line up with the Milky Way behind them. I simply cannot pick which photograph is my favourite.

First stop was a barn and god was with us as it was full to the brim of bales. The sky here is so dark you can easily see the Milky Way with your eyes and that makes framing a since. I setup my gear, firmly locked down my tripod and focused on the stars (Olympus is amazing in that you can use focus peaking on the stars, just pick a bright one and it’s done). I proceeded to capture 8 photographs at ISO 5000, F/2.8, 15 seconds per exposure, at 12mm (equivalent to 24mm on a full frame camera. The 15 seconds ensures no star movement for pinpoint lights. I really racked up the ISO as I knew I would be stacking in and that will significantly reduce noise.

Once the sky shots were done, the fun began. I switched my camera to Live Composite mode, dropped the ISO to 400 for a lot cleaner file, and let it start. I used a torch to light paint the barn, first from the left side until the exposure was where I wanted it, then added a little fill from the right to soften the shadows.

All of this was stacked, blended, merged etc in Photoshop, there are some great videos on youtube about how to do this. And here is the final result!

An amazing night time photograph of a barn full of hay bales, beautiful illuminated with the core of the milky way rising behind it near Kalbar and Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia south of Ipswich.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro, Multiple Exposures

Next we moved on down the road to where I had previously seen a tractor. Not knowing it was still there, I was very thankful I had spotlights on my 4wd to help light up the sides of the road, otherwise I may have missed it.

For this photograph the techniques used on the barn would be the same. This time I had to set the camera lower and closer, trying to fill the frame with as much of the tractor as possible, but still allowing room for the Milky Way around it. We could hear a pump running out in the field and before long, the Farmer who owns this land was out on his bike in the dark (stuffed if I know how he didn’t hit something!) checking his sprayers. He dropped over to say G’day (and check what we were doing). He was off to bed for a few hours nap before getting up to check the sprayers again. Life can be gruelling for a farmer, they all have my utmost respect.

Again, I captured 8 images for the sky and one light painted one for the tractor and ground. I always recommend painting from both sides to even out the light a little.

A beautiful old tractor sits in the paddock as the core of the milky way lights up the sky above it near Kalbar and Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia south of Ipswich.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro, Multiple Exposures

There was one more photograph I had envisaged to capture before heading out this night, and that was of some beautiful crop lights with the Milky Way over them. Unfortunately it looks like I missed out by one day as all the fields had been just harvested. I’ll just have to wait until later in the season to get that photograph. So instead we took a drive back into Peaks Crossing where you have a clear view of Flinders Peak to the east. By this time (2am) the core was at a nice height in the sky. Again I captured 8 images to stack for the sky, and used my torch to paint in the foreground. On a clear night light this, if you are staying in an area with pretty much the same light pollution levels, you rarely need to change your settings, allowing you to spend much more time on the important things like composition and spooking yourself in the dark.

A stunning view of the core of the milky way as it rises over Flinders Peak near Peak Crossing in the Scenic Rim south of Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, 12-40mm Pro, Multiple Exposures

Finally as a bonus, I had headed out the night before this to South Ripley to do a test run of my settings, post techniques etc. I captured this photograph. I think it’s came out a bit dark, ISO used for the sky was 3200, which is why I upped to 5000 for the next night. Practice pays.

A beautiful clear night at South Ripley, near Ipswich Queensland Australia as the core of the milky way rises over the farmland.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark 2, 12-40mm Pro, Multiple Exposures

As the season progresses, I’ll be doing a lot more astro photography. Thank you for reading.

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A beautiful misty and foggy country landscape captured near Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia

When nothing goes to plan, Improvise!

Well sometimes the best laid plans go completely array. When it comes to landscape photography this can happen more often than not, that’s the way of mother nature. There is a very photogenic mountain peak south of where I live. I had worked out a location I wanted to shoot from, and I was going to experiment using a long lens (in the realms of 140-200mm) to see what compositions I could get.

To get there an hour before sunrise I had to leave home at 3am for the 1.5 hour drive south. As soon as I left home I knew something wasn’t right. It has been raining, and I couldn’t see clouds or stars. A low cloud layer was blanketing the area. Never one to give up, I kept going, and started driving through intermittent rain and fog. I finally arrived at my location to be greeted with a wall of white.

Well this wasn’t what I was after. I waited over an hour and a half until after sunrise, with the faint hope some sun might break through, or the peak would at least become partially visible. This photo shows the result however, the peak was still buried in the fog. I used a long lens to compress the fence line and bring everything closer.

A fence line stretches across the paddock and into the fog and mist near Boonah Queenland Australia in the Scenic Rim.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, Adapted Canon FD 70-210mm Lens, F/8, 1/100 sec, ISO 2000 handheld

I finally gave up on this location and decided to improvise. I began looking for scenes that caught my eye, ideally with a leading valley through the scene and a main subject to frame. This next photograph is the first one I came across. Again use the adapted long lens I was able to compress the scene, isolating the trees from the rest of the scene. Long lenses are great for when you don’t have an immediate foreground. You can still get a great result and composition, it does take some practice however to find a scene that works. Its an area I’m still learning and will be exploring more for sure.

I focused only on the trees so the background went a little soft as well. I think this one came out quite nicely and just a touch more sun was finally getting through to add some contrast to the ground.

A small Stand of trees stands out against the landscape near Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia.
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, Adapted Canon FD 70-210mm F/8, ISO 200, 1/4 sec

The final scene I found called for a lens change, I had a foreground interest nice and close, so I switched to my Olympus 12-40mm pro lens and spent some time framing up a composition. Again the portrait orientation worked, eliminating some clutter from the sides and bringing focus to the dead wood and then the main tree in the photograph. You can see by this time a lot of the fog had cleared, but the low cloud was still incredibly thick. I never did see the mountain on this morning. A return trip is definitely on order as I think it will be an amazing photograph in the right weather and light.

A beautiful misty and foggy country landscape captured near Boonah in the Scenic Rim of Queensland Australia
Olympus OMD Em5 Mark II, Olympus 12-40mm, ISO 200, 1/50 sec, F/8

I’m still deciding whether the second or third image is my favourite from this day, comment below and let me know which one is yours.

Landscape photography can be very frustrating at times. All the best laid plans, all the pre-visualisation and effort you put into capturing a photograph can come to naught in a very short space of time. It pays to at least be somewhat prepared to seek alternatives if things don’t work out. It could be making sure you carry a few different lenses, having the tripod in the car if you are planning to shoot handheld, or even waiting a few hours to see if anything changes or improves (pro tip, have some food and drink with you always!). This day did not go the way I planned, yet I’m very happy with at least two of the photographs I managed to capture, and now I’ve done a practice run to the location, I know it will be perfect when the light and weather are right. I might not get it next time, but I will get it. Persistence pays.

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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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