Life Lessons

As we all walk through life be it our personal or professional lives we experience things and change who we are. 

Some are good and some are bad.  The key is to take and learn from the good and drop the bad.

Over my photographic career, I have learned sooo many lessons and made soooo many mistakes it’s not funny.  It is the things that I didn’t do right and totally messed me up that are the things I have learned from the most.


One of the key lessons I have learnt over the decades is that YOU should believe in yourself.  Believe you can make it and believe you can be the person you want to be and can be.  You can take your career in whatever direction YOU choose.


So don’t be afraid to take that leap of faith.  It can be good for you and it can be liberating, not to mention that you can only learn to fly when you do. 

Space the final frontier

Even as a photographer the search for space is always present.

We take hundreds of thousands of photos each year to ensure you can store all those images in a safe and secure environment where you also cater for things like fire, and hard drive failures, the best friend you have is a NAS (Network Attached Storage).

For those that are not sure what NAS is, it is effectively a heap of hard drives that you would normally have in your computer, added together to create mass storage.  The other key with this type of mass storage is that you combine hard drives together and they appear as if they are one hard drive so you don’t have to worry about smaller hard drives to store large amounts of files.

The other great thing and the reason why you should invest in a NAS if you have not already, si they offer security over hard drive failure.

What I mean by this, is depending on how you configure your NAS you can have 1 or even 2 hard drives fail and all your data and files remain.  So all you do is buy a new drive put it in the NAS and away you go.

How cool is that!?

I have used NAS to store all my photos for years and here is the problem with a NAS.

As you fill up your drives you have to upgrade your hard drives to bigger ones, which is exactly what I have been doing over the last week. To be honest, has been a bit overdue but the cost of replacing l the drives has made me put it off for as long as I could. 

Now the new drives are in and I have a heap of space once again, it’s time to start filling them up with the idea that I won’t run out of space.

Oh, the other thing about the NAS I have, is that it automatically backs up to an off-site backup so if my building burns down, I will always have a copy of the photos and can retrieve and continue on with no only minor interruptions. 

win-win I say. 

NAS Drives

Who Needs A Challenge

One of the things we really don’t do enough of is “Challenge Ourselves”

 

When I say challenge ourselves I mean both mentally, physically, and emotionally.  

 

It’s one of those things we generally only do when we have to, most of us don’t chase the challenge or go to the edge of where we feel comfortable. 

Snow Hiking

There are many ways in which we can challenge ourselves. 

The photo above was the start of a hike and weekend camp which I can safely say that 99% of people that live in Australia will never do. 

Like really what person in their right mind would go hiking and camping after a blizzard in the Kosciuszko National Park? hahahahaha

TBH – The hike on snowshoes was amazing, the countryside was even better.  THE LIFE EXPERIENCE IS PRICELESS!

Let’s fast forward to today, given the blizzard conditions over the last few days and snow falling In Canberra not to mention so early in the ski season, my question is.

If your dream was to walk up to the top of Mt Kosciusko and this weekend was the only time you had the opportunity, what would you do so you could achieve your dreams this weekend given the environmental factors? 

Crossing The Line

Between the light and the dark, there is the middle ground where things can seem like they on a tipping point. 

The same is true with your photography where some days your confidence is smashed like a grape at the bottom of the barrel under someone’s foot as they stand on you to make wine.

The trick I have found over photographing for many years is to try and look at things differently.  Take this photo for example.  This was a photo I took some time ago and left it there until I thought of a concept to bring it to life, and with that open the old photograhy cabmnet, dragged it out while blowing the dust from it to give it a dual look and feel. 

I wanted it to have a dark feeling with the image giving the impression that no matter which way she went it wasn’t going to end well. 

From one side the blue represents the dark emotional state we all often find ourselves in, while the red in front of her was put there to give the impression that going forward was leading into the fire and so she sits.  Stale and stranded at the bottom of the stairs with no place to go. 

After Woman on stairs

The original photo was taken with an Elinchrom ranger pack placed at the top of the stairs to give her some shadows and to highlight her body while also hiding her face. 

You can move the slider to see the before and after. 🙂

After Woman on stairs AFTER
Before Woman on stairs BEFORE

You Don’t Know Jack

One thing I do know is that if you don’t continue to educate yourself and actively go out and learn things you will never grow.

You become stale and the passion moves away. 

For me, I am active in many areas of my life but I must admit that my photoshop in the creative sense has not been one of the things I have been pushing so given today was a cold day outside I got messing around some photos, this being one of them. 

Fire Lady

This was a photo I took of a model a bit ago and have had it sitting in the dusty draw to one day play around with it.  Well, I guess today was that day.

 

When I took this photo I wanted it to be something that I can use in many different photos as the pose the model was in as I think you can agree is very generic with lots of ideas..

Lady Sitting

I mashed the photo of her with some other images and with the help of Photoshop I came up with something very different.

As with other images of this type they really don’t start with an end and just form along the way.

I am sure I will do a few more of her in different areas and scenes but really wanted to play around with fire and smoke. 

This brings me to my first point of this blog….  We all keep learning and if you don’t keep looking for things to learn be it in photography, editing or just life…..  you become stale….

Don’t be stale. 🙂

Fire Lady AFTER
Lady Sitting BEFORE

This Is Crap I Give Up

COVID has changed the world forever and with more free time on my hands than normal for obvious reasons I figured it was a great time to give my website a long-overdue makeover.

So I whipped off the covers, pulled out the guts and threw them out.  Employed a graphic artist to come in and change my site so it matched my vision of being a place of education and commercial photography services.

Taking the clothes of my website

You would think that building a site from the ground up was be easy and straight forward right??

Well appreantly not…  Well not when you want the ability to sell your images on my site (I currently use an external provider/website for this), have the ability to created courses that I can sell or give away, be able to have a members-only section on my site on top of this and fit into my marketing and email providers to keep people up to date on my of my site updates of promotions. 

All that has taken many months of trial and error, building my site up on the side to test and trial to see what works and what doesn’t work but I think it was well worth it.

While my site is still bare-bones it now has the foundations of all the things I have been doing over the years in my place and on my main website.

I need your help

As I look at putting content back on my site, I have taken the view that I want to put up there what YOU want to see!!!

 

  • I want you to TELL ME what courses YOU want me to create
  • What pages YOU want to see
  • What categories of photography YOU want
  • What types of blogs YOU want.

 

For example –

 

  • Do YOU want to get free courses on using lightroom or understanding the basics of your camera? 
  • Or maybe you just want blogs about what it’s like to be a photographer?
  • Or even black belt courses that teach YOU everything you need to know to go from zero to hero in photography so YOU can run YOUR own photography business?

 

The website and book are open for you to tell me.

Drop Your Comments and Ideas and Lets See What Amazing Things We Can Create.

Touching Base With Nature

Like just about everyone in the world we are currently restricted to staying at home to “flatten the curve” and I must say it has been interesting from a professional and private perspective.

My days are spent working from home and only going out to get supplies. Given I live alone the first few weeks were hard as I normally am around lots of people and I don’t spend much time at home.

As the weeks have gone on I have come to get used to only having the odd contact with people and enjoying the company of Scarlet (my all faithful dog) and my free-range chickens.

I have spent many many hours in my garden to give it the much-loved care that it should have gotten over the years of me always being busy. I have a pumpkin patch the size of a small country and I am not the selfie appointed Pumpkin King as I have produced maybe around 200+kg of pumpkin not to mention the 40 or more cucumbers and I really don’t eat either, so my friends are currently being targeted to take my excess. Some are now telling me they have enough but I still have lots and lots.. So all the neighbours around me have also woken up to midnight pumpkin fairies doing deliveries. hahahaha

Anyways over the weeknd I spent a lot of time in my garden and as I was cleaning up with the whippersnapper I came across a treasure trove that only weeks ago every Australian have killed for. No it was not toilet paper but eggs.

I have been wondering where my chickens have been laying their eggs but now I am the master the king of eggs. lol

The Secret Stash
The Mother Load of Eggs

Leaking Roof

Had my aircon changed a few months ago and with the rain over the period since then I have noticed a leak so with self-isolation the new fad, it gave me a good excuse to get the roof sorted and take some photos, with a Jazzy edit to boot. 🙂

Fixing broken tiles while in ISO
Fixing broken tiles while in ISO

And for good measure I thought I would throw in a quick vid of the process.

On The Roof Fixing Some Broken Tiles

WOW, what a change!

Australia has been ravaged by fires for months and anyone has followed me for a while knows that I go along and take photos from the roof of my house.

The other day I captured this photo and while it’s not the most amazing photo you will ever see it did make think and understand the power of photography.

This photo to me represents the idea that we are back to a normal, normal before fires and a normal before the summer heat. Sitting in my roof taking this photo took them back to many places and many times I’ve had on my roof with friends and family enjoying the scenery.

I guess the point I’m getting at here is that photography and photographs capture a point in time and they capture an emotion in time. For me looking at this view brings back feelings of friendship, love and well-being.

What feelings do your photos bring back to you?

New Life

With every dark night, there is a sunny day. With every sad day, there is a day of happiness. With every broken heart, there is love. With every great photo, there are 8,498,094 shit ones. hahahahaha

The amazing thing about the Australian bushland is that it has the ability to rebuild after fires and in fact a lot of our flora require it.

Walking through the burnt lands and national parks what was amazing was how fast some of the plants have not only survived but even after being completely burnt have comeback.

What you will notice in these photos is that the leaves and grass have also come back and these photos were taken maybe 3 weeks after the fire has passed through this area.

Ferns coming back after the 2020 bushfires

I saw hundreds of ferns that have at least 30cm of new growth and littered the hills of the burnt-out wasteland where I would have thought all life would have been extinguished just like the fires had.

Tree coming back after the 2020 bushfires
Ferns coming back after the 2020 bushfires
Ferns coming back after the 2020 bushfires
Ferns coming back after the 2020 bushfires

They Are Here To Kill, You Need To Help!

The bushfires across Australia have wiped out a shit load of our bush but what is worse than the trees is the wildlife that has been either killed or wiped off the face of the earth in many areas.

Any animals that did survive the bushfires had either run away from it, hid while it passed or doubled back on the fire as it burnt. As you can imagine any animal going back into the burnt fire ground there would be slim pickings in regards to food and what is worse for a lot of animals they rely on the cover of the bush to hide from feral animals, like foxes, cats and dogs.

Spending a few days in the burnt landscape I only saw one wallaby that was jumping through the grounds for what I could only imagine was in a hunt for food.

Driving down one of the roads we came across a feral dog that was walking along the road, the dog looked like it hadn’t eaten in weeks given the exposure of the hips and ribs, not to mention it was keen to travel the roads and come up to cars looking for food.

While the dog was in distress what crossed my mind was the image of the wallaby and all the other vulnerable animals coming back into these areas where these predators would be waiting.

What can you do to help to protect our vulnerable wildlife while it tries to recover?

I guess the first thing I would say it so keep any of your pets inside so they do not venture out into these areas for an easy feed.

The other idea I would think is that if you do see these feral animals in vulnerable areas that you contact the national parks wildlife service to let them know so they can deal with, or if you are licenced to do so, take some time over the coming month to go to these area and concentrate on ferals that are taking advantage of our vulnerable wildlife.

Feral Dog looking for prey after the Australian Bushfires
Feral Dog looking for prey after the Australian Bushfires

Total Destruction and Houses Saved

Spending a few days travelling up and down the bush fire-ravaged area of the Australian south coast of New South Wales sprinkle some money it was hard to not be freaked out by the destruction the fires have had in that part of the Australian, where I am sure it a scene that has been replicated all over Australian bushfires in the last few months.

There is kilometre after kilometre of burnt national parks, reserves, and farmland.  In some places the destruction is so bad that there is nothing left on the ground, the bushes that may have been there before the fires are completely gone and so is any ash from which they would have ultimately turned into. 

The landscape in some parts looks like the back of a balding echidna, with what were once filled with healthy trees and bush, it now looks like quills that are also so sparse that you can clearly see the landscape they once protected. 

Stopping at one place to have a look around, what struck me was the complete silence.   There were no sounds….  Like none….  No birds, no wind, no leaves, not anything… like there was nothing…  It was both surreal and relaxing at the same time.

The other thing that I took away from looking at hundreds of kilometres of burnt-out land was the incredibly high percentage of houses that survived even while everything was burnt around them.  Their fences were gone, gates were gone, trees around them were gone but the houses looked untouched.  House after house, as I drove up and down the south coast, was like this.  With everyone I saw it was hard to figure out how they were not touched, I know the RFS would have been there for some and residents were there for others but I am sure good old fashion good luck played a very valuable role for most.

Some, on the other hand, was not that lucky.

Aerial view of a house and property that was destroyed in the 2020 bush fires near Nowra
Aerial view of a house and property that was destroyed in the 2020 bush fires near Nowra
The landscape is just sticks after the bushfire
The landscape is just sticks after the bushfire
A burnt-out car on a property surrounded by national park
A burnt-out car on a property surrounded by national park
A burnt-out boat next to a shed on a property that was destroyed by the bushfires
A burnt-out boat next to a shed on a property that was destroyed by the bushfires
A sign marking the T intersection that has seen better times after the bushfires
A sign marking the T intersection that has seen better times after the bushfires
No that is not a tank but an expensive burnt-out boat from the bushfires
No that is not a tank but an expensive burnt-out boat.
burnt-t car from the 2020 bushfires
At least the headlights sort of made it through
Kilometre after kilometre of bushfire ravaged national parks
Kilometre after kilometre of bushfire ravaged national parks
Jerrawangala National Park sign that was burnt in the 2020 bushfires
Maybe not the best national park to visit at this moment in time.

The Fires Are Out!!! Ok Some Of Them

Looks like my predictive rainbow for my previous post seem to be correct, as the rains did come and they come hard and constant.

Since my rainbow photo and the following rains, NSW rural fire service has been able to extinguish:

  • Gospers Mounting – Hawkesbury
  • Myall Creek Road – Richmond Vallery
  • Erskine Creek – Blue Mountains
  • Kerry Ridge – Muswellbrook
  • Green Wattle Creek – Wollondilly
  • Morton – Wingecarribee
  • Currowan – Shoalhaven

These fires equated to a total of over 1.5 million hectares of land burnt, so to have the out is a huge relief.

I spend the weekend down on the south coast to not only sprinkle some money into these communities but also capture the recovery of the native bushland and see first hand and document some of the destruction that it has caused.

To have rain so heavy that we couldn’t see the road was freaking amazing!!! The roads were flooded and where there were dry creeks the day before, now there were rivers overflowing with liquid gold. Truly was an amazing transformation over 24 hours. Where I was we had over 130mm of rain in the 24 hours, so you can understand how that was able to full almost any dam that was previously empty.

Let’s just hope the rain continues and gets out west where it is really needed for people to survive.

Main Street of Ulladulla as the fire stopping rains fall
Main Street of Ulladulla as the fire stopping rains fall

Looking After The Animals

Wondering around the fire zones and around the suburbs one thing that sticks out from the norm, is our need and want to care for our native animals.

From people putting buckets and tubs out behind their houses to what I saw today deep in the fire ravaged area.

From a distance it seemed weird that a plastic bottle had survived the fire but on closer inspection it was in fact a home made bird feeding station.

It was filled with seed and had some holes in the bottom so as to slowly release the seed and from what I could tell is that it was working as there was no sigh of seed on the ground.

For me it really shows how compassionate some of us can be and there should be more of it.

I’m interested to know what are the things you are seeing in your area to support our wildlife through this bush fire crisis?

DIY bush fire bird feeder

Now That’s HOT!

Got the opportunity before the bushfires to photograph what is a great looking motorcycle. A Yamaha R1!!

These bikes are just weapons on two wheels, the have the speed and agility to go from zero to stupid speeds in less time it has taken you to read this line.

They really are one of the top bikes in the supersport category.

The day I look this here in Canberra we had smoke all over the place and we were rated one of the worst places in the world for air quality due to the bushfires that have been burning up this country. I must say the smoke in the background of the shot is something I couldn’t pay for as its just freaking amazing. It adds that extra to the image and with the short depth of field it really brings your eyes to the R1, which is hard to believe you would look anywhere else but hey that photography right?

Yamaha R1 in the bushfire smoke around Canberra
Yamaha R1 in the bushfire smoke around Canberra

Backburning on the range

Looking out across the valley and into the hills where they are doing back burning the image is outstanding.

The image is also kind of a trick, what I mean by that is that the compression of a super long lens has brought the hills close to the houses when fact it is actually at least 10 km away, compression of the super-telephoto lenses is one of those things which can use all sorts of situations we want to bring the background into the foreground and give that impression that they are close.

It is something that is used a lot to give that deeper feel to the image. It also means that if you do have a long lens chances are that no one else can take a photo like yours as a super long lens, especially quality lenses cost a bomb but when you use them they worth every cent.

CANBERRA ACT, AUSTRALIA -February 6th 2020: Backburning on the hills around Tidbinbilla as seen from the South Canberra Suburbs of Conder

It’s A Sign

I would say that I am not really a believer of a higher being however there are times when you just have to sit back and think “Is the universe trying to tell me something??”

And this photo was one of those times!!

To give some of my rural friends some situational awareness of the fires, I once again popped up to the top of one of their hills to capture the fires.

Shooting away for about 15 minutes light rain started to fall. I could feel the cool water on my face and all I could think of was “I hope this continues and hits the firefront”.

Turning around the most amazing rainbow appeared, and not only was it amazing cause of the clarity but it was a complete rainbow, and parts were a DOUBLE RAINBOW that seems to look like a shield protecting Canberra.

The left end of the started over the Canberra city just near Black Mountain and ended over the southern suburbs of Canberra, like Banks, Conder and Gordon.

I am not sure about you but for me looking at this, it gave me a sense of protection and with heavy rains forecast to fall across Australia, I think it was a sign from mother nature to say “I’ve got this and everything is going to OK!”

Mothers Natures way of saying “We are going to be OK”

Two Sides To The Orroral Fire

As the fires rage through the country we all look to the authorities to keep us up to date, informed and safe.

As mentioned in my previous post I have been volunteering as part of a fireteam helping to defend rural properties, this also means I have exclusive access to these rural properties that are currently under threat in the Southern areas of the ACT (Australian Capital Tettoriy).

Just like 99% of every Australian, I am by no means an expert on fire activity and movements, nor do I have any idea of how to really tackle such an enormous job of controlling, steering and eventually extinguishing these fires. What I do know I have the ability to use the equipment I have at hand to get visuals of the firefront and its movements as it crawls along with the mountain ranges like the snowline melting after the winter.

I have at my home a great view of the eastern side of the fires and a northerly view from the farms. Capturing, watching and reporting these fires out to people that are in their path has allowed me to keep these people informed so they can make the right decisions but the side effect of taking photos so they can see what the fire is doing, is that I do get to take some incredible photos and the ones sit at the top of the pile are the sunsets.

Here is just one of them.

In the photo below you can see to the left half has the fire in the hills while the right after is yet untouched.

As I look at this image I can see and feel the destruction the fire has had on the impacted areas. I look and wait knowing it will pass to the other side bringing with it a renewed pressure to bring this fire under control.

The other interesting this about this image is the cloud formations above the fire ground on the left of the image to the clouds in the yet untouched areas.

To me, it looks like the heat of the fires have pushed the clouds up where on the right the cloud cover is flat. I’m a sure someone much much smarter than I that can tell me if what I am seeing is actually what is happening here. 🙂

For the locals some more details in the photo:

From left to right, you can see the firefront moving as it snakes its way from the Tharwa village towards the Corin forest area and then onto Tidbinbilla. Mount Tennent is out of shot to the left, while the valley to the left of the hill in the middle is the Corin Road and the hills in the far right is the Tidbinbilla nature reserve and the Brindabella Ranges.

On the right is the untouched bush and on the left is the out of control  Orroral Fire
On the right is the untouched bush and on the left is the out of control Orroral Fire