Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system, and often considered one of the seven natural wonders. While diving or snorkeling on the reef is an amazing and unforgettable experience, a helicopter tour over the reef offers panoramic views that have to be seen to be believed. The reef is simply breathtaking from the air, a seascape unmatched in beauty to any other on Earth, and an absolute paradise for nature lovers.
Allowing ourselves a week for the best chance of good weather, we grew increasingly anxious as each gloomy day was followed by another. On our final day, and only hours before we were due to fly home, the skies cleared nearing low tide, finally presenting us with ideal photography conditions; And wow did the reef take our breath away! Brilliant patterns of contrasting deep blues and bright greens, and as if by divine creation, sitting in its own little lagoon, the beautiful Heart Reef. Leaning out of the helicopter with its doors removed, camera in hand, our own hearts were pounding with the thrill of the whole experience. Incredible moments and images we’ll never forget.
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As we journey through life, all too often we allow the influence of others to guide our path. Whether it be from parents, teachers, a spouse, or society as a whole, we feel the daily pressures to conform, act responsibly, pursue respectable careers and to avoid risk. We feel we have to impress them; gain their respect.
But who’s life are we living? Don’t let others walk your road. After all, in life, you only get one shot. So listen to your heart. Follow your dreams.
It’s your road….. Your life.
“Through the Mallee” is a reminder to follow your own road in life. You can see the road all too clearly. Have you the courage to follow it?
Scouting and imagination: Scouting a location and pre-visualizing the “perfect” scene can lead to spectacular results.
Capturing great landscape images is often the result of thorough research and making the effort to find fantastic locations and viewpoints. Stumbling upon a beautiful location when the light and elements are at their peak is uncommon, but it does happen (more on this in Part 3). In Part 1 of this series we discussed the first essential step to creating great landscape images – research and pre-visualization. In Part 2 we’re now on location; time to find some awesome scenes! The art of finding these scenes is called “scouting”, and with a few tips you’ll be well on your way to finding your own gem of a location.
When arriving in a new area your first points of call should be the local Tourist Information Centre and Parks Information Centre. Having a flick through the postcards and any books on the area may give you inspiration or ideas on what to shoot and from where. Be sure to pick up any maps and hiking trail guides to help you plan your approach. It’s the attendant’s job to give information so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Their knowledge of the area is often extensive and they’re a great help in pointing you in the right direction. You can also purchase any required permits or day passes while you’re there.
The best and most unique locations often take some finding, so be sure to allow plenty of time for scouting. Instead of ‘putting your feet up’ during the harsh midday light, take the opportunity to spend a few hours ‘out and about’ exploring an area. It’s always best to have scouted out a few potential locations to give yourself plenty of options to shoot in varying weather and light conditions. Mother Nature is hard to predict at times so it’s best to have a few options up your sleeve. If you put all your eggs in one basket, you may walk away disappointed, but if you stay flexible and have a range of options, you may be able to salvage a fantastic shot in average conditions.
If you know what your main subject is, scouting becomes easier. The goal then is to scout “around” the subject, exploring different angles and potential foregrounds. Always be mindful of light direction and the bearing of important features you want to include such as a sunrise or moon. Be sure to be thorough, and resist the urge to settle on a location without fully exploring the area. Often the best location is just around the corner.
If you don’t have a main subject and you’re just “exploring” an area, there are 3 main tricks to keep in mind. The first is to cover plenty of ground. Whether it be driving, hiking or walking, just do lots of it! The second trick is to keep your eyes wide open. Subjects can appear from nowhere and sometimes take some imagination to visualize, so keep your eyes peeled. The third is to stay flexible. It’s easy to see something with potential and get a “one-track-mind”, only seeing other similar subjects to the exclusion of all else. See the “whole” landscape at all times, and be willing to change your train of thought.
Once you’ve found a location with potential, it’s time to pre-visualize again. It’s easy to dismiss a scene during the flat midday light, but with a little imagination that same scene could be the shot of a lifetime! Imagine what factors could turn the scene into an incredible image. Maybe a sunrise, moon, storm clouds, blue sky, snow, flowers, silhouette or water reflections? The possibilities here are endless! Once you’ve got a vision of the ideal conditions, write everything down. Include notes on location, time of day, season, weather conditions, lenses and anything else of importance. These notes prove indispensable when returning to a location months or even years later. Often you can plan the timing of future trips to that location around your notes to give your visions the best chance of becoming a reality. It’s also very easy to forget the scenes you’ve found, especially if you’ve scouted many potential locations in an area. So best to write everything down so you don’t forget. Scouting is very time consuming and you don’t want to have to do it all over again next time you visit!
Taking the time to scout well before you intend to shoot is essential to consistently capture stunning landscapes. And when you’re out scouting, keep a keen imagination and pre-visualize the perfect scene. Write everything down and most of all make sure you’re there when the magic happens!
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This right here has to be one of the greatest scenes we’ve ever had the pleasure of capturing. Just wow! Well played mother nature… You never cease to amaze us!
Named after it’s resemblance to a gold mining cradle, Cradle Mountain rises 1,545 meters above see level. The mountain is located within Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. At it’s foot lies the stunning glacially formed Dove Lake.
In this harsh and sometimes unpredictable alpine environment, it’s rare to strike weather conditions conducive to photography. Overcast, windy and cold conditions are the norm, often low lying cloud obstructing the view of the mountain completely. But on this particular morning, our very first visit to the mountain as photographers, conditions were absolutely perfect. There was hardly a breath of wind as the early morning mist crawled its way across the water. We set up our gear, and nervously awaited the sunrise. We were not disappointed! The sky erupted in a fiery display of vibrant colour, and was perfectly reflected in the mirror-like surface of Dove lake below. Sometimes you get lucky and find yourself at just the right place, at just the right time.
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Landscape photography is easy; find a nice scene, get your camera out and take a photo. Done! Right……….?
Not so much! Aspiring landscape photographers seldom understand the ins and outs of creating great shots. We certainly didn’t when we were starting out! So we’ve decided to write a bit about what goes on in the mind of a landscape photographer; the thought process behind the making of great landscape images. It’s a lot more involved than you might think!
To avoid dumping a heap of information on you at once, we’ve broken down this subject into a series of posts. In part one of this series we discuss the importance of research and pre-visualization.
Research and Pre-visualization (Part 1)
Before arriving at a location, it’s important to do some research in order to give yourself the best chance of capturing something great. Maybe you have a specific shot or series of shots in mind, or maybe there’s a location of interest to you that you’d like to explore. If you do have specific shots in mind, write them down, and include as much detail as possible. Let yourself dream. Imagination is extremely important during the research phase. Imagining the scene you desire is part of the pre-visualization process. Many people think of pre-visualization when they’re on location, but it should actually begin at home, during the research phase.
With every shot or location you have in mind, ask yourself the following key questions:
Are special permits or permission required to access the area?
What would be the perfect weather conditions? Sunny, overcast, stormy, fog, snow, rain etc.
What season or time of the year would those weather conditions be most likely?
Do I need to consider rainfall? Waterfalls, creeks, rainbows etc.
Do I want Autumnal foliage or wildflowers?
What time of day would be optimal?
From which direction do I need the light?
If shooting at dawn or dusk, what times are sunrise and sunset?
Do I need to consider ocean tides and times?
Do I need to consider the moon phase and times?
Obviously the internet will be your greatest source of information here. There’s also many apps available that can help you determine this information and more.
With these questions answered, you begin to paint a much clearer picture of the conditions, seasons and times you desire to capture that perfect shot you’ve imagined. Now when you arrive at your location, you’ve shifted the balance of luck in your favour, giving you a much better chance of capturing something special.
Research and Pre-visualization in action
The payoff: The above shot, “The Mighty Murray”, is a great example of the power of research and pre-visualization.
Believe it or not, this shot “The Mighty Murray” existed in our minds before it materialized itself to become a reality. We were heading to the Murray River for a week of photography and fishing and began dreaming up ideas for a great shot. We had a vision of a beautiful old River Red Gum overhanging the river, with the full moon reflecting off the water at either dawn or dusk. Remember, at this stage we had no idea if this scene actually existed; it was just a “vision”. Now that we had our vision, the research could begin.
Firstly, the stretch of river we planned on visiting was within a National Park, so we knew there would be plenty of old River Red Gums. We then used an app called “The Photographers Ephemeris” to determine the dates of the next full moon. The day before and after a full moon are also acceptable to capture a full looking moon. Using the same app we then determined the best times to be shooting. For our vision, these times are when the moon rise is approximately 30 minutes before sunset or when the moon set is approximately 30 minutes after sunrise. This puts the moon at a perfect altitude for our pre-visualized composition. We now had a date and time for both the perfect dawn shot and the perfect dusk shot. That was it… Only two opportunities!
We then had to go one step further. As a river winds through the landscape in a snaking pattern, there would only be certain stretches that would suit our vision of the full moon shining along the river rather than across the river. Once again using “The Photographers Ephemeris” app, we pin pointed the stretches of river where the moon would either rise or fall at the end of a stretch. We now had our locations to begin our scouting.
As luck would have it, one of the stretches of river we’d identified had a grand old River Red Gum that would suit our dawn shot perfectly. The morning came, the moon fell into perfect position and the “vision” materialized itself into “reality”.
Such is the power of pre-visualization and proper planning.
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In the rat race of modern life, it’s common to feel overwhelmed. There’s deadlines to meet, things to buy, people to see and places to be. But you do have a choice. A blissful life begins with simplification. Identify what’s truly important to you, and eliminate the rest. Cull your commitments and belongings, limit your buying habits and spend more time with the people you love, doing the things you enjoy. Become the minimalist. Less truly is more.
“Solitude” is an image of simple beauty, and a reminder that sometimes we need to escape the complexities of life, and take a moment to regain our inner peace.
At 2375km, the mighty Murray is Australia’s longest river. It rises in the Australian Alps and for most of it’s length forms the Victorian and New South Wales border, ending it’s journey at Lake Alexandrina in South Australia.
The Majority of the existing River Red Gums along the Murray today are relatively young trees, as the older trees were felled for their timber during the paddle steamer days. To find a grand old gum with such character was a real blessing.
As the moon ends a nights journey it’s framed perfectly by a branch of the old gum. We can’t believe our luck at capturing such a breathtaking scene.
A manager uses a position of power and authority to command people to follow them. This is not true leadership. In 1963, 250,000 Americans didn’t show up to hear Dr. Martin Luther King speak because they had to; they did so because they wanted to. Like the life giving sea, great leaders stay low and humble, acting like servants rather than dominators. Suspending their ego, they empower and encourage others. Like the streams and rivers, those who believe and feel valued and inspired will naturally gravitate to the leader who stays low. Be the sea. Stay humble. Stay low.
“Sculpted Sands” symbolizes the power of true leadership. A stream naturally gravitates to that which stays low.
Too often we settle for comfort in our lives, the state of ease and satisfaction. Yet we are left wanting. If we are to see our wildest dreams become our reality, we must let go. Staying within our comfort zone is to stagnate and plateau. We must take a leap of faith and step outside our comfort zones to progress and grow. Try new things, be courageous and face your fears. Only then we discover how far we can really go.
To us, the “Tree of Ice” is a symbol of resilience; thriving in uncomfortable conditions. It’s simply incredible to think a Snowgum could withstand such an extreme environment since the mid 16th century!