Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge – Geometric Shapes

Cee’s Black and White Photo challenge for this week is Geometric Shapes. I visited several spots along the Ballerine Peninsula in Victoria this week, I got some great shots, all with a geometric edge to them, some with multiple (Circles, Squares, rectangles.


Using ND Filters for the first time

OK So I am a relative newbie, when it comes to photography, I have learned to take the training wheels off my Nikon D5300 and shoot in manual, in particular I would like to thank several people and several blogs,

I know there are so many more, but there are to many to name.Some have taught me a lot, many have simply inspired me, whether you know it or not you have all taught me, or urged me forward my so much. Anyway I do digress. So apart from shooting in manual and doing my own post processing, I have learned a lot various challenges as well, Cee Neuner’s Fun Foto and B& W Challenges, Photo101, Weekly Photo challenge, One Word Challenge, Monochrome Madness………..need I go on?

Yesterday for the first time really I got to play with my Hoya adjustable Natural Density Filters……..I have had them for so long, but never really got the feel for them. I was out with Leanne Cole’s Social Snappers yesterday at Cape Schank (on the Mornington Peninsual) and she guided me through using them step by step. Thank you!

Picnic Dinner

Cape Schank & Pulpit Rock

Now I will admit, that these two pifling trifles are nothing compared to the likes of other photographers, however I was quite proud of them. I am sure I will look back on this post in 12 months and cringe, but hey, that’s part of the learning process! As A newbie I would like to impart some words of wisdom; to the professional photographer these are probably common sense, but when you are trying to figure out a dozen things at once the simple things tend to slip the mind. Kind of like learning to drive and forgetting the blinker!

Learn you camera, not just play with it, but learn it. Read the manual, read forums, ask questions. This does not happen over night it takes a while for everything to sink in. I have had my camera less than 6 months and I still keep finding out new things. But the more you know the better the photos, or get less head aches! Same goes with your equipment. Yesterday I took my new Tripod, (OK so not a super expensive fancy toy, but it was not a el cheapo no name either). But my camera kept wobbling on the head piece. It was not until I got home that I realized there was this stabilization pole that needed tightening……D’oh moment! The other thing about my tripod, is that it is kind of heavy when you have to carry it everywhere, I must have bought the only one that did not come with a bag and carry strap! So I will be investing in those after yesterday. And even though it seemed really heavy after carrying it everywhere, when it mattered it really wasn’t heavy enough in the wind, and I had to keep a very tight hold so my camera didn’t end up going for a swim. I have noticed on some tripods have a hook to hang you bag off and add some weight and stability – I think Moth will make something up for me for my tripod. The other thing I made sure when I bought this one, was that it would take the weight of my camera. My old tripod was bought for a much smaller lighter old Olympus and really was not suitable for the new Nikon, which is much heavier with the bigger lens attached. So when looking at tripods, make sure you look into that. There are a lot of other things that I never looked into and probably should have. Check out these two Posts on Tripods & Tripod Accessories. But I have what I have now, bought in a rush when I thought I knew what I needed! Huh?

Also when you are taking long exposure shots you need to keep the eye piece covered, in the bottom picture you can see the whites blown out on the sides? I think this is because the so called ‘clever’ eye piece cover that came with my camera was useless and fell off the first time I tried to take a photo, and then I lost it in the rocks……..thanks Nikon! I saw Leanne had a hat she put over the eye piece and view finder when she took her pics! Great idea, so I am throwing in a hat, as well as my trusty plastic poncho, I can put it on my head when I am not taking photos, the hat, not the poncho!

I also learned that my 18-200mm Nikkor lens only goes to f22 but my 18-55mm will go to f25. Plus my Hoya ND Filter fits my 18-55mm lens anyway, the higher the number the smaller the aperture and the less light. And when you are taking long exposure shots you want to minimize the light. I tried with a filter held over my bigger lens but even with the ISO set to 100 it was still letting in too much light. I need to learn to manually adjust the exposure and make it underexposed by 1-2 stops to counteract the over exposure……….does that make sense? That brings me to the ISO, the ISO needs to be really small (ISO100) if it is too high it also lets in too much light, besides the lower the ISO the less grainy the image will be, crisper and clearer if you like. I thought I knew most of this, but when push came to shove it all seemed to go out of my head?

I guess that brings us to the remote shutter release. I bought one off Ebay, for about $20.00……….guess what? it is $20.00 piece of junk….it only works half the time and you have to push the button down really hard……….all this while trying to hold my tripod steady, cover the eye piece and focus a photo……………it’s a minor miracle I got any pictures at all! I have used Smart Phone Apps as well, however I only get 1-2 photos and then I have to reset everything again…………..such a pain, hence why I bought the remote trigger release. I guess I might have to look into a decent one!

Oh and if you are shooting at the beach, don’t forget to bring alcohol and lens cloths to get rid of all the spray off your filters and or lens………….I had already learned that one the hard way in NZ! I guess that brings me to filters……..there are so many, and some of them a really expensive……….some a really cheap, after my remote trigger I am glad I didn’t get cheap filters, I got good ones without going too expensive, Hoya and Kenko. Also I went glass not plastic……I got told they are far better, but I can’t really compare? I have UV Filters, mainly to protect my lens, I have Circular Polarization filters which I usually use outside, especially at the beach! and I have 1 x HD Filter it is fitted to the lens itself and you can adjust it by rotating the ring. The Downside is if you have cold fingers they can be difficult to get off! Same for UV filters and such……………and DO NOT RUSH getting them on or off if you damage the thread on your lens!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG…………not good!

Well that is about it, seasoned photographers are probably all laughing themselves silly by now, at my probably pathetic attempts at long exposure, some at what I have to say or some at them selves for doing the same dumb things! But we all start somewhere and if I can help out or inspire 1 person…………then hey it’s been worthwhile post!

– Julz

P.S. I really would like to say a very big thank you to Leanne Cole who has taught me so much and never seems to mind how many questions I ask! If you have not been to her Blog, please do she has amazing long exposure shots, so you can see what they are REALLY supposed to look like.



Mirror Lake

I have had a few comments regarding an image I posted of Mirror Lakes, and I am shocked to realize I never actually write a post of this amazing place. It is unthinkable.

Milford SoundNow Mirror Lakes is on the Milford Track before you get to Homer Tunnel, part of the Fjord-land National Parks in New Zealand. It is a perfect, still, clear lake that has amazing reflections of the Alps, well once the duckling finally gave up on his bath and left me to my photos. Normally I would not begrudge a duckling and his Mum having a bath, but it was literally freezing and I wanted to take some photos before the lake froze up!I was incredibly lucky, we had had snow for 3 nights in a row and woke to crystal clear, blue skies, no wind, and that clear sunshine you so rarely get, it’s that clear mountain air.

I stood there awestruck for several minutes before I even thought to take my first photo. It was simply breath taking (soon forgot just how cold it was too). I simply stood there taking a few happy snaps, no real thought to it. Finally my artistic, creative side won out and I re assessed and then re shot. Obviously I would have to take lots of images to make one large panorama (which is the top image) this was edited from about 10 different photos in Photoshop. To be honest this was only one quick stop on a whole trip to Milford Sound, but I excitedly anticipated it after finding a few images on the net before we went. I will get around to posting some images of Milford Sound, The Chasm and Cascade Creek soon.

– Julz

One Four Challenge – March Week 2

This week for Robyn’s One Four Challenge I have been playing with backgrounds. I know I said I would do something a lighter……..but I’ll hold that for next week. So for this week, I removed the gloomy grey background from last week’s effort and replaced with a moonlight sky in Photoshop and highlighted the moon to accentuate it, then added a Moonlight Filter back in Lightroom. But I still wasn’t finished so I went into Color Efex Pro 4 and added some fog, then I added some more moody clouds,  illuminated the lighthouse and added a subtle vignette. It’s still dark and gloomy, but now it has a real mystical night time feel to it. I wish I had some astro photography shots I could slot in too. Oh well, maybe next month. So I think I will keep changing up the backgrounds to see if I can give this picture a completely different look each week.

Akarao Lighthouse

Akaroa Dolphins

March Week 1

Last week’s version I removed all the color, except for Red, and then over saturated the reds, but this was all just in Lightroom. Maybe next week I can try for something a little lighter, a sunrise or sunset?

– Julz


Travel Theme: Environment

I was checking out everyone’s posts and came across a challenge I have not seen before, and everyone knows by now I love a really good Photo challenge, so without further a due I will hope on board; Travel Challenge by Where’s my Backpack? These week’s theme is Environment.

I honestly wasn’t quite sure where to start on this one so I selected a few of my favorite pics from areas that require conservation, that I have traveled to.

Church of the Good Shepherd – Lake Tekapo

There were a few places on my bucket list when I was preparing this holiday to New Zealand, all from a variety of amazing photos; Hobbiton (See previous post), another was The Tree at Lake Wanaka and the other was the Tiny Little Chapel, with the big reputation. The Church of the Good Shepherd, at Lake Tekapo.

Lake Tekapo -Church of the Good Shepherd

Apparently things have changed there a bit lately, there is a very stern Minister glaring at anyone with a camera, there is a sign on the steps (I have removed them in the pictures) saying no photography allowed, it didn’t seem to stop anyone else, so it didn’t stop me either. However He would not let anyone in the Chapel with a camera…….it was even a Sunday Morning! So no pics inside, but the views from outside are breathtaking. There were people with cameras everywhere. It really is a beautiful spot and I was not disappointed in the least. I just hope someone asks the Minister to ease up, we are not hurting anyone, just capturing the beauty of his Chapel and the surrounding area. I do wish one day to take some night time shots as apparently the cleanest air in the world can be found in this area and it has been listed on World Heritage list for Astro photography and solar observatory (Mt John and Mt Cook are both nearby – but I didn’t get to visit either of those on this trip).


5 Day Black and White Photographic Challenge – Day 3

Day 3 of the 5 Day challenge I was nominated for by Cee NeunerChristchurch City – This is a shot I took in Christchurch, when we were there, 4 years on and there is still so much devastation from the earthquake. This old theater still has it’s seats, lead lights windows and some of the wooden paneling left standing, but the rest is long gone. You can’t see it in this shot but the front facade of the building is being help up by large metal stabilizers (I have put in a small color shot below).

Christchurch City I would like to nominate Jennifer Nichole Wells to join us in this 5 day challenge, she always has some great color challenges going on, so I thought she might enjoy a B&W! If you havent been to   her page, I encourage you all to go, she has some very cute and zany images which are a lot of fun.