Category Archives: explanation

It’s Panoramic

I am a member of the Point Cook Camera Club, a recent club competition had the set subject of “Panoramas”. It has been a while since I have tried to make a proper panorama. I have read the theory about tripods and nodal points and such, and all that hard brain work put me right off them, not to mention having to join them together yourself in the early days before Photoshop introduced its Photomerge function.

My first attempts were made with PTGui, a very clever program but one that was a little beyond my skills at the time. One of the issues for me at the time was trying to deal with lens distortion, never did manage to get that right.

Not long back I read an article on Luminous Landscape by Kevin Raber, explaining a simple method for taking the images needed for a successful panorama. It semed easy enough so I had a few tries at it.

For the camera club competition, I took two panormas, one at a favourite shooting place near Geelong; Dog Rocks. And another on the outskirts of Werribee. The Dog Rocks panorama has 7 images and the Werribee Badlands panorama is 9 images stitched together using the Photomerge function in Photoshop.

Dog Rocks Panorama

Dog Rocks Panorama


Werribee Badlands Panorama

Werribee Badlands Panorama

Also posted in art, discussion, How I shot...

In search of monochrome…

Prior to switching to digital photography in 2002, I shot almost entirely in black and white. My film of choice was Kodak Tri-X and after experimenting with a few developers over the years, I settled on Rodinal. My favourite paper was Agfa, I loved the rich blacks and the contrast I could get from the Tri-X/Agfa combination.

In the early days of digital, I was captivated by the new world of colour I had had easy access to, plus my early attempts to create monochrome images pretty much stopped with desaturating the colour image; never really successful.

As I learned more about image processing in general and Photoshop in particular, I tried a few times to re-discover the magic Tri-X look, but I never managed to consistently produce images I was happy with. I wasn’t sure if this was because:

  • Digital didn’t produce good black and white images
  • I didn’t know enough about converting colour to black and white
  • I had been making colour images for so long I no longer ‘saw’ monochrome images
  • All of the above.

I have just had yet another day of trying to develop a workflow that will consistently produce results I can accept. This first image, Stobie pole, was processed using the Alien Skin Exposure Tri-X preset.

Stobie pole

The next image, Three trees, was made with the Nik Silver Efex plugin. Silver Efex doesn’t have a Tri-X preset, so I picked the nearest ‘look’ I could find for this image and that turned out to be the Ilford HP5 preset.

Three trees

Both images were then tweaked; extra contrast, some dodging and burning and other minor, darkroom-like changes.

I am still not entirely happy with the results, but I feel like I am making progress and learning more about how to change a full colour image into a monochrome one.

After that, must learn how to make good monochrome prints again.


Also posted in discussion, opinion

Tilting at windmills…

The windmill is a part of the Australian landscape, familiar to anyone who has driven through the Australian countryside.


The windmill is used to pump underground water into a trough or water tank sitting beside it. One of the fascinating things about windmills is that they are seen in a wide range of conditions, from brand new and shiny to completely collapsed.

Windmills are one of the re-occurring subjects in my rural photography. Who knows, they might even get an exhibition of their own.

Also posted in art, discussion, influences, Travel

Road trip

In June I took a road trip to the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia. This was part holiday and part hunting for images to round out my next exhibition.

The Yorke Peninsula has a unique character in South Australia. It has rich farmland, many small ports from which grain was shipped and in the north some serious mining, mostly copper.

A lot of the settlers and miners came from Cornwall and Wales, cornish pasties are the local cuisine. Just kidding. The landscape is littered with derelict stone cottages and the towns have a unique character.

Near Maitland, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

Near Maitland, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia



Near Yorketown, Yorke Peninsula, South Australia


Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

Also posted in art, exhibition

Daily, Nightly

Just outside of my home town Geelong, there is an area called The Dog Rocks. This area has been a great favourite with local photographers, such as Laurie Wilson and his beautiful monochrome Dog Rocks series held at the National Gallery of Victoria. The last time I photographed there was at least 35 years ago.

Just recently long-time friend Phil Thomson asked me to join him there for a sunset photo walk. The first thing that struck me is how close housing has encroached on this area that I remember being out in the country. Fortunately the top of the hill has been preserved.

I enjoyed wandering about the rocks and photographing the old trees again as the light faded. So much so that I returned during the day to see just how different the images would be.

Dead tree at Dog Rocks

The windswept tree during the day

Dead tree at Dog Rocks

The windswept tree at sunset

Also posted in How I shot...

Looking back

From time to time I go back through my store of images; looking for usable ones I missed the first time, or ones that I can extract more from due to new tools, more knowledge or just a different idea.

Recently I revisited images I took in the South Australian town of Marree during a trip in 2012.

At the time I was after a strong evening summer sun look, but wasn’t very happy with the colour in the shots. I have revisited them with new tools and some different techniques and managed to get them to be much closer to what I envisaged at the time.

Don’t forget to go back through your archives to find the hidden gems.


Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Marree, South Australia

Also posted in art, changed thinking, discussion, opinion, Travel

A wall in Wangaratta

On a recent trip to the town of Wangaratta in the north of Victoria, Australia, I walked down Victoria Parade, a narrow street near the centre of town.

It was late morning on a bright, sunny day and the shadows really stood out on the blue wall. As usual I had my walking around camera, the Olympus E-M5 with the 12-40mm lens.

Wangaratta, Australia

Wall, window and shadow

Wangaratta, Australia

Three windows

Wangaratta, Australia

Door with shadow

Also posted in How I shot..., Olympus, Travel

The making of a book cover

My clever step-daughter, Dr. Alix, has turned her doctoral thesis into a book, and it has been printed by Brill, a well-known publisher of scholarly books.

Her book, Problematic Identities in Women’s Fiction of the Sri Lankan Diaspora:
“…offers an insightful reading of nine novels by women writers of the Sri Lankan diaspora: Michelle de Kretser’s The Hamilton Case (2003); Yasmine Gooneratne’s A Change of Skies (1991), The Pleasures of Conquest (1996), and The Sweet and Simple Kind (2006); Chandani Lokugé’s If the Moon Smiled (2000) and Turtle Nest (2003); Karen Roberts’s July (2001); Roma Tearne’s Mosquito (2007); and V.V. Ganeshananthan’s Love Marriage (2008). These texts are set in Sri Lanka but also in contemporary Australia, England, Italy, Canada, and America. They depict British colonialism, the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict, neo-colonial touristic predation, and the double-consciousness of diaspora. Watkins examines the problematic identities in this fiction, revealing them as notably gendered and expressed through resonant images of mourning, melancholia, and other forms of psychic disturbance.”

I was very pleased and honoured to be asked to provide a cover shot for the book. Alix wanted the cover to suggest the themes of Sri-Lankan women and colonialism, which is how we wound up on a very windy St Kilda pier early on a Sunday morning. The pavilion at the end of the pier had the look of a colonial-style building and made a good background; early morning put the sun in the right place for me.

After dealing with wind, flowing hair, people wandering about on the pier, people fishing in inconvenient spots and the odd stray dog, we made a book cover. And as a bonus, I got to photograph the elegant and charming Chatu Gunaratne.

The cover image for my step-daughter's book.

The cover image for my step-daughter’s book.


Also posted in art, family, How I shot...

Up in the air

In June last year I was fortunate enough to get a flight over Lake Eyre in South Australia. This is spectacular country and I was fascinated by the patterns and forms in the landscape from up in the air.

I wasn’t equipped for serious aerial photography, but I was able to take a number of shots that not only captured the vastness of the land, but also had an element of the abstract about them.

The image below is of the dog fence that runs for more than 5,600 kilometres through South Australia and Queensland.

The dog fence, South Australia

Also posted in art

Under the West Gate Bridge

The West Gate bridge connects the centre of Melbourne with the western suburbs and the highway to my home town of Geelong.

The West Gate, or lack of it has been a main feature of my life. Before it was open, the only way to get into Melbourne city, or through it to the suburbs in the east, was a long, slow trip through the western suburbs and inner city suburbs. After it was built in the 1970s, I spent quite a lot of my time driving over it; and sitting in stationary traffic on it.

In October 1970, during the construction phase, one of the spans fell, killing 35 workers. There is a memorial park under the western end of the bridge to commemorate this tragic loss of life.

Recently a lot of maintenance work has been undertaken on the bridge to repair cracks and put up higher safety railings.

The West Gate can be a beautiful sight; it has the form of a long, sinuous curve and presents different aspects in different weather conditions.

Under the West GateUnder the West GateUnder the West Gate

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Also posted in art, exhibition