Apologies for the non-travel related pictures for the last few posts. It has taken me a while to get around to editing and posting some images. I last travelled to Australia in August, to visit the family and also to graduate (woo hoo I’m now technically a Dr).
As a little backstory, I was born and spent my childhood years in the UK, my parents moved to Queensland when I was 16, and I moved to Melbourne when I was 24. This meant that after graduating in Melbourne I flew up to beautiful Queensland to visit my parents (and brothers).
They live in a small township called the Glasshouse Mountains, which if you’re ever travelling in that part of the world you should DEFINITELY visit. It is also next to Australia zoo, so if you’re into your touristy zoo and want to see a croc…you should probably go there too. A bit on the pricey side though.
Anyway, back to the mountains. I first took Candice to visit my parents years ago and we always intended to hike the Beerburrum track, but never managed to fit it in. Ok so it was mostly my laziness and it being too bloody hot or humid but still, we never actually hiked. This last time, however, I promised Candice I would stop being lazy and do it, but that we had to wait for sunset. After taking the 45-minute odd hike up we waited for about an hour and a half. Annoyingly about 2 minutes ahead of us were some French Instagram backpackers. How do I know they were instagrammers? Well, that would be the hour and a half they waited, then the 5 minutes of the sunset that they ignored to take a photo of one of them with a hoody on, looking forlornly in the opposite direction. The million photos that they took of the one guy “modelling” and then buggering off without a second glance at the sunset. I’m sure they have a huge following and are encouraged to continue being generally pretentious asshats but what annoyed me more was their general lack of respect and disregard for the environment by leaving their empty plastic water bottles on the ground as well as their joint butts.
Having taken the image we waited a little longer, picked up after asshat and asshat’s girlfriend (who had left as soon as the sun dipped below the horizon) and we started the walk back down.
All in all it was a great evening and the Qld slogan really came true for us that night. Beautiful one minute, Perfect the next.
Its been a bit of a hectic year so far, what with moving countries and then learning to live on my own for a while (visa issue, dont ask). So I have been neglecting to update or really solidify my portfolio.
Im going to make a special effort to shoot more and keep my portfolio updated. Lets start with the new look website found at www.alexanderdavenport.com.
I’ll still be maintaining this blog, especially to showcase my new images as they come up, but my portfolio will be much more of a stripped down version. I will be updating it and putting up new work both paid and unpaid, but the idea is that only the best of the best will be presented there.
Today’s image is one from a while ago, but it is of my wife showing me the local wildlife in the alpine region of victoria, Australia. It is also a celebration as she just landed a job at Parks Victoria, her dream organisation, so congratualtions!
For this post, I wanted to delve into the archive and pull one of my favourite images out. It was taken on a ski trip a few years back to the Australian Ski hill Falls Creek. Now Falls creek is one of my usual Australian Ski places, about 5/6 hours out of Melbourne. Basically, to get there you head up the Hume to Wangaratta and turn right towards Bright and then follow the signs to the Ski resort.
Now this shot was taken standing at the base of on of their jumps in the park:
I wanted to also let you know that this image was taken using what is now an old camera the Canon 5D. I used the Canon 70-200 f/4 and this specific shot was taken at f/8 (1/320) ISO 50. The thing is, it shows you don’t really need the best camera body to get an awesome picture. All you need is a bit of patience and knowing when to press the shutter button.
In this image you can’t tell how high the skier is, they could be 3 feet or 30 feet above the ground and gives the image an element of action, suspense and thrill. I love taking photos at ski resorts because you’re never disappointed. If it is foggy and a complete white out? BOOM atmosphere. A blue bird day? Great! I can get some awesome atmosphere. Raining and the snow is being washed away….I guess it’s Apres Ski time!
What’s your favourite place to take photos? Comment below, and if you have an example of one you love even better!
A friend was leaving Melbourne and as a gift my Image of Melbourne from the VCCC was given to her by our old work colleagues. This sparked me to go through some old images and reprocess one or two now that I have developed better skills in Lightroom and Photoshop. This one is of the city of Melbourne from Albert Park, back in 2014.
With our last few weeks in Australia ticking away, Alex wanted to get out of town and get a little more site seeing and photography in. He had the idea of a sunrise image of the Brim Silos, a site that in January 2016 had been turned into a road side Art attraction by world renowned street artist Guido Van Helten. This silo was to be the first of 6, as part of a 200km long art trail through the heart of Victoria’s Mallee District.
The Mallee and Wimmera regions are found in the north western corner of Victoria. The area is famous for Mallee Eucalyptus, wheat, sheep, gold and even a little world class rock climbing or sand dunes, depending on which corner you end up in. The Silo trail will be a collaboration between famous Street artists and the local governments, community groups and private companies, such as Graincorp, that work and operate in the region. Other supporters such as Taubmans paints, Loops Colours, Juddy Roller Art Management and the Regional Arts Fund, also providing the support necessary to get the project off the ground. The idea ultimately is to increase visitation and revenue from tourism in a region regularly hit hard by droughts, floods, fires and the ever fluctuating agricultural commodity markets. The plan therefore was to head out of Melbourne and explore this region in the north east of the state.
So leaving Saturday afternoon and hoping there would be enough daylight hours left when we got to Brim to pitch our tent, we started up the Calder freeway, with a 4 hour drive to our destination. Essentially a LONG way to drive for a sunrise shot especially when we weren’t sure if sunrise would work for the composition, not having visited the site before. Fortunately Brim has a lovely little recreational and campsite area with new facilities for visitors, including fixed BBQs and hot water showers. The tent or powered caravan sites work on the honesty system, a simple process of slipping $10 a night into the secure box on site.
We arrived just before sunset and set up our reliable little Vango Spectre 3 man hiking tent. Brim being a very small country town only has the 1 pub, a garage and 2 churches, making the choice for where to go for dinner very easy. The pub aka the commercial hotel was nice, had friendly owners and did a good steak. We have no review on the churches or garage. Luckily we finished eating about 8:10 and with sunset due about 8:35 we rushed to get back to the right spot. Ideally it would be good to be set up before golden hour starts but from experience we know that in the country, kitchens close early, so it was: eat then get the shot, or likely not eat at all. Luckily we were at the silos and shooting just as they were being bathed in a gorgeous warm glow from sunset.
Alex, with tripod set up and camera metered for the scene, had started shooting just as someone in a truck pulled up in front of the silos to take a photo of their rig with the artwork. The passenger and designated snapper apologised as she realised she had entered into the composition, as the whole interrupted scene lasted for about 2 minutes Alex just kept shooting throughout anyway. While post processing preference is for the image taken without the truck in the foreground, ultimately the interruption just provided a different narrative to shoot for a few minutes. The following day we would see many of the same make and model of trucks, filling up and depositing grain at other silos up and down the trail. Whatever had been the outcome, sometimes the right light is only there for 30 seconds and so continuing to shoot no matter what is the only sane approach; especially if you have just driven 4 hours to get to the place.
With the shot taken, we carried on shooting for about an hour and then headed back to the tent. Bathed in mosquito repellent we took in the stars, still trying to settle on where the southern cross was for the billionth time and decided to head to bed early. The possibility of trying some star trails, was discussed but as the reason for travelling up the day before was to get sunrise shots the next morning and with neither of us being known as early risers, getting some shut-eye won out. The alarm was set for 5:00am with sunrise expected at 5:50.
With 5 am came a chorus of native bird species, slightly drowning out the Banjo Frog calls that had echoed from the lake beside our camp site all night. For the amount of frogs we heard over night you would think the local mosquito population might be better kept in check, but a wetter than normal spring this year had proved to good a breeding season for the little buggers. The bonus of getting up early is no one is around and you really get to just enjoy the sounds of countryside sans traffic and people. With a nice smattering a clouds to add some interest in the sky and no one else out competing for the shot, the early morning start was definitely the right decision.
Being all wrapped up in Brim by 7.30 am, we headed north an hour to Patchewollock. The drive took us along the edge of the Wyperfield National Park, a nice break in the scenery of wheat fields. The silo in Patchewollock, painted by Fintan Magee, is of local farmer Nick Hulland. This idea of capturing real locals and the realities of life of the area is the truely great aspect of the art project. The silo in Patchewollock mark the end of the proposed trail and so we turned the car around and headed back towards Melbourne, with plans to see one more silo and find some breakfast.
Hopetoun, is the largest town we went through on the northern part of trail and seemed the most likely place to find an open cafe on a Sunday morning. Fortunately, it was also only about 40 minutes south of Patchewollock. The breakfast wasn’t going to be gourmet, just a good honest country fry up and a great cup of tea, exactly what one needs after a night in a tent. Alex, an English man through and through, after 5 years in Melbourne is now so used to specifying what type of tea he’s after, asked for his standard “English Breakfast Tea” and was delighted when the lady looked at him blankly and said, “Sorry, we only have normal tea, is that ok?” Appetites satisfied it was onwards south to Sheep Hills.
After about an hour we arrived at the third silo, still in the process of being painted by Adnate. His work is amazing, with many of his amazing realistic portraits seen on walls and down laneways in Melbourne. The work at Sheep Hills, features the Wimmera Elders Ron Marks and Regina Hood with a young indigenous boy and girl. It symbolises indigenous knowledge being passed down to the younger generation. It is just beautiful and unfortunately thought we ended up being a week too early to see the completed project.
When the silo art trail is complete in Mid 2017, with the three remaining locations in Lascelles, Roseberry and Rupanyup, finished, it will truly be well worth the drive out of town. Even with only three of the sites complete it was a great way to spend 24hrs, seeing some world class street art and exploring a little more of country Victoria.
This is just a quick one, that isn’t so much travel related but still camera and photography related.
Last night, my brother-in-law (BIL) wanted a headshot taken. My instant thought was “Excellent! I can try out the 7D Mk I, portraits was one of the reasons I bought it!”. Turns out though I’m an idiot and don’t have a card reader, so that wasn’t going to be an option. Canon 6D it was then!
BIL put on a shirt (and trackie dacks…) and we started fiddling with poses and settings. BIL spent his time getting his facial expression right, and I fiddled with the exposure and flash settings.
For these photos, I bounced the flash off the ceiling to soften the light and light the entire scene. I tried putting in a silver reflector but it kept reflecting in his glasses so I took it out and used a white reflector.
The basic Headshot
Black and White headshot
I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. It helps to have a good looking model. I took out a flash reflection and did a little colour blending in photoshop which took a total of 5 minutes or so. All in all a quick headshot with not much setup and some satisfying results.
I also just want to add a little photo here showing that you don’t need a huge studio to take a good headshot.
A simple chair in front if the wall, door closed and bounce flash on the ceiling is all you need!
This blog post is not about any of these dumpling places. Oh no. This blog post is about the institution that is known as Camy Shanghai Dumplings on Tattersall’s Lane. Anyone who knows what I’m talking about has just rolled their eyes. For the uninitiated this place is quite literally the worst place in existence, and yet I keep finding myself here.
The food is not good. It tastes like a used jock strap wrapped in slime.
The wait staff have become less grumpy over the years. In the past they used to almost throw the food at you and hurry you through you meal. They don’t do this now.
The atmosphere is fine until some joker tells the staff it is their birthday and they play some happy birthday song at the loudest volume over crappy speakers. Which is repeated after multiple people cotton on. I hate you people.
Yet I keep coming back. I don’t know why I think this time it will be different. In the end I guess I just go back for the nostalgia. It has never been good. Rumour has it they have been closed multiple times for food safety or liquor law breaches, but it was where we used to go to have a meal with friends that didn’t cost the earth. So it brings back happy memories and I’d be sad, but not surprised when it finally gets the push.
Melbourne has a lot to offer, and once you arrive there is little doubt as to why it has been named the world’s most liveable city 6 years in a row. Coincidentally that is the same number of years Alex has lived in the city, 5 and a half years of which were with Candice.
Melbourne is home, probably always will be, but the adventure originally started in 2007 in Kelowna, B.C. Canada. In this town at the base of a ski resort, within a backpackers, Alex meet Candice, flipping pancakes in rocket man pyjama pants. Since that time we’ve figured out what that first meeting has come to mean, finally tieing the knot in November this year.
This blog kicks off just as we’re about to start another adventure. An adventure to Alex’s original home, the United Kingdom.
Feel free to check back often to view our exploits.