When the river runs dry

When the river runs dry

It feels strange to stand in the middle of a river, having become accustomed to seeing it full. The big rains did not come. It has been a while since they did.


The stones of the river bed become islands, with Autumn providing some semblance of foliage.


That which lives off the river adapts. Plants spread down to the river bed while birds forage within the remaining pools of water.


The water hid things from view that are now exposed.

The rain will come though; it is only a question of when.



More Kyneton

More Kyneton

One of the reasons I like revisiting Kyneton is that I keep finding new subjects and get to see others presented in different ways as the seasons progress.

To illustrate that here are some images from a walk that kicked off in Piper Street just after sunrise yesterday.


A selection from 2014

Ever watch a series on television and there is an episode made up almost entirely of bits from previous episodes?

Yep, that’s what this is. I went back through the year to find some images my most recent followers may have missed and to remind myself of what I got up to.

For those of you who have stuck around, thanks.


More little things

More little things

Last week I talked about little things in the form of mistakes. This week I want to explore how little things can affect the context of an image.

Anyone that has followed this blog for a while knows I tend to revisit things. Last week it was Kyneton and the old shed that was carefully taken down moved to the botanic gardens and reassembled piece by piece. It’s a subject that offers a lot of different opportunities to experiment.

That said, I was surprised to see balloons tied to the posts, evidence of a recent party.

Initially, they seemed a little distracting but as I moved around the backlight kicked in. That really made the colour stand out against the shadows and duller colours of the shed. Just a little thing that enabled a different perspective and approach.

A little further down from the shed, I saw one purple flower lost in a mass of yellow ones. I tried to get a clean separation between the flower and background but there is still a lot of distraction in the frame. The images where all taken from the same position as I would have needed waders to get closer. I couldn’t really do much more so I moved on seeking flowers I could get nearer to.

I did not manage to find one with the same background but I did find this;


Reducing the working distance solved the background issue. There is another flower in the background but it’s far less distracting. The second stalk is though. In contrast with the shed pictures, the little things in these images were not adding to it. I realised I wanted a clean background and it did not take long to find this;


So, it’s worth keeping in mind little things in the context of what we choose to add, remove, highlight or hide when making images.


Go around the back

Go around the back

I finally get to have a breather after an intense few weeks getting the latest paper ready for submission. A walk around Kyneton yesterday morning produced some images I’m pretty happy with. I took a different route through town and was rewarded. The peeling paint was found off the main street behind an old hall. The “building” theme for this month can be ticked off now.

I also took a different approach in that I packed light and limited myself to prime lenses a 40mm macro and my old 90mm macro. It got me moving rather than zooming, and my back was very grateful for the reprieve as I used an old Lowepro bumbag instead of a heavier backpack. That 90mm lens has been with me for 20 years. It gives me a good working distance for macro and doubles as a portrait lens. Unfortunately it needs replacing as the focusing has problems, so it is at the top of the wish list.

While I’m on the topic of upgrades, I mentioned some issues in a previous post that meant I have been looking at a new way to work with RAW files. I was going to upgrade to Lightroom 5 but I have too many reservations and so I am looking at alternatives, including Capture One Express which was used for these images. It does look and feel a lot like Lightroom but the range of presets and export options is limited. I’m not sure that is a bad thing and it had no problem with RAW images from my camera. Based on this and what happened with my lens selection yesterday I am starting to think less is more…

Less is more

Less is more

I mentioned recently that I my new camera has set off a string of other changes. Since writing that I found another one. The capacity on my SD cards is effectively halved but I’m not sure if this is good or bad.

I think it’s bad because there is now a real possibility of running out of space and missing out on making something special. I don’t spray and pray but I do like to approach a subject from several different angles and explore composition and lighting combinations.

At the same time, this limitation is not a new experience for me. I used medium format cameras and you only got 12 images on a roll of film. This made you more selective. I think that’s good.

SD cards are cheap compared to film and processing so I will buy some more cards.Using a larger capacity cards introduces a risk of losing more images if the card fails, so I’m thinking about sticking to the same capacity. This way I still have to work with less but have space in reserve.

These images are from a yesterday morning on the Campaspe River trail at Kyneton. The sky was overcast and the soft lighting lent itself to macro and detailed subjects.

DSC_0017 DSC_0008

Time and weather

Time and weather

It was good to spend some time away but this week the clock and clouds have been working against me. My focus has been on writing a paper and I was looking forward to break at Kyneton Saturday morning but there was rain. Normally that does not discourage me from pulling a camera out but there was no light either. It was dark, flat, dull lighting and I think I was feeling the same way mentally after so much writing and reading.

Disappointed, I came home and continued working with an image I made after my last visit to Kyneton a few weeks ago. Like a lot of my images, I consider it a work in progress as I try different ways to break a subject down. This is what I have right now.

The old shearing shed Kyneton

You can find this building in the Botanic Gardens. It appears to have been an old stockyard building or shearing shed that must have been relocated and partially restored. I made this in the early morning with the light behind me but the building is surrounded by tall trees so it was in semi shade. The contrast range was extreme so I decided to do a five-stop, bracketed exposure to create a high dynamic range composite. Ironically, this would not have been a problem on dull, rainy day like Saturday.

I do initial processing in Photomatix, then make final changes in Lightroom. There are a lot of decision points along the way. With black and white there is a choice about when to drop colour. You can opt to do this in Photomatix but I prefer to bring colour images into Lightroom for more precise control of tones.

While I think this result is okay, there are some more things I can do to pull out detail in the shadow and to reign in the highlights. I used a graduated filter in Lightroom to darken the trees to the top left and middle of the frame but using a physical graduated neutral density filter on the lens would help more. The other thing I want to try next time is to place a cordless remote flash set on low power behind one of the posts to put some more light under the roof without being too obvious. These measures should reduce the overall contrast and hopefully I will get the opportunity to try them next time.

In fact this subject lends itself to a range of different approaches and I hope to eventually work through all of them. It will work as a subject for light painting. I want to see what it looks like on a foggy morning or later in the day during summer. It has a lot of potential for further exploration.

The rain started to ease up Saturday afternoon and I took a quick trip outside to the garden after I spotted some droplets on leaves of the plants. I may end up cropping this image to the bottom left of the frame as that has a lot more interest. I put this image up on 500px and it has been getting a really good response.



So this post has been a bit of a ramble but the point is this, you can make images in poor weather provided there is some light to work with, even if that means that sometimes you have to supply that light yourself.