Back from Binna Burra

From Monday 24th July to Friday 28th July, a group of seven of us from the Canberra Photographic Society journeyed to Binna Burra, Lamington National Park, Southern Queensland:  Ulrike and Hugh, Alan, Luminita, Greg and Murray and Jools.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Gold Coast and Hinze Dam from Beechmont Rd by Greg Wei.

On our way to Binna Burra and the wilderness of Lamington National Park, we caught a glimpse of the distant Surface Paradise, spare and bizarre, like a distant giant petrified forest.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

View from Alcheringa, Monday evening by Murray Foote.

We stayed at the wonderful accommodation of Alcheringa, a house and associated cottage easy walking distance form the Binna Burra Lodge but not part of that complex.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

View from Alcheringa, early Thursday morning by Greg Wei.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

View from near Alcheringa, early Friday morning, by Luminita Quraishi.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Tree ferns and tree stump, Daves Creek Circuit by Alan Pomeroy.

On our first full day, we set off on the Dave’s Creek Circuit.  This is a 12km round trip but we made the mistake of walking to the car park, which added about another kilometre to the journey.  This passed though rainforest, eucalyptus forest and open heathland.  We all found that our fitness levels were not as good as we might have hoped, especially Hugh, whose bad back played up on him on the return journey.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Curious red flower beside track near Molongolee Cave, Daves Creek Circuit by Luminita Quraishi.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Xanthorrhea flower stalk and hakea branches, Daves Creek Circuit by Murray Foote.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Natural Bridge by Greg Wei.

After the exertions of the first full day, we decided on a quiet day for the second.  Ulrike and Hugh just relaxed at Alcheringa.  The rest of us went for a short walk on the Tallawallal Circuit (no images to show you here) and then for an afternoon drive to Natural Bridge at the edge of Springwood National Park.  We experienced subdued late afternoon light, which was fortunate for photographing the waterfall.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Natural Bridge and River by Murray Foote.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Huge tree left from river flood by Alan Pomeroy.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

On the Coomera Track by Luminita Quraishi.

On our last full day, Ulrike and Hugh went for a drive to Natural Bridge and Springwood National Park.  The rest of us undertook the 17.5km Coomera Circuit, with rainforest and many waterfalls along the Coomera River.  This was to be our most productive day.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Bahnamboola Falls, Coomera Circuit by Greg Wei.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Bahnamboola Falls, Coomera Circuit by Alan Pomeroy.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Below Bahnamboola Falls, Coomera Circuit by Luminita Quraishi.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Bahnamboola Falls, Coomera Circuit by Luminita Quraishi.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

At Moolgoolong Cascades by Greg Wei.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Below Moolgoolong Cascades by Alan Pomeroy.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Forest on the return track by Murray Foote.

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Binna Burra, Canberra Photographic Society, Landscape, Photography, Travel

Paragliders, North Tambourine, by Murray Foote.

On the last day we had to leave by 10am.  Ulrike and Hugh were driving their own car.  The rest of us were driving back to the airport in a hire car.  We had some extra time so we took some back roads and were fortunate enough to see these paragliders who had just taken off.

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Excursion to Binna Burra

The Canberra Photographic  Society is planning an excursion to Binna Burra, in Lamington National Park in Queensland, for three full days and four nights, arriving Monday 24th July and leaving in the morning of Friday 28th July.

This is a rainforest destination with Gondwanaland flora, wildlife, creeks and waterfalls and some great vistas.  There are lots of walks available ranging from short ones to long ones.  Here’s a PDF map of the walks.   Here’s a summary of the walks from the BinnaBurra Lodge site and here’s some more detailed information from Queensland National Parks.  Binna Burra means “where the Antarctic Beech trees grow” in the local Aboriginal language and the Lodge opened in 1933.

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Waterfall near Binna Burra, Infrared Colour Film, 10 Jan 1981.

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The main reason for the timing is that rainfall is low at this period.  It is also fairly cool, with mean temperatures ranging from 10°C to 23°C.  This also means there are no ticks or leeches.

The excursion is for financial members of the Canberra Photographic Society only (and their spouses).

There is a variety of accommodation available.

  • There are rooms in the lodge.  Casuarina rooms can be double or twin share and have shared bathroom facilities.  Acacia rooms can be queen, double or twin share and have ensuites and mountain or rainforest views.
  • There are sky lodges which are 1, 2 or 3 room apartments with king beds or twin share.  They are more modern and a better standard of accommodation and have impressive views.
    • The Photographic Society of Queensland recently booked a stay at Binna Burra and particularly wanted to be able to take advantage of the evening view from the Sky Lodges.
    • There is also the possibility of an extra person on a sofa bed in rooms and sky lodges.
  • Then there is camping.  You can have powered or unpowered sites or a Safari Tent for from 2 to 6 people which is provided with beds, vinyl floors, a fire pit and lighting but no power.  You can also hire linen for the safari tent.

There is also the possibility of hiring a conference room for a few hours to have a showing and discussion of photographs.

Camping costs are straightforward.  $28 per night for an unpowered site, $35 for powered and $105 for a safari tent, irrespective of the number of persons.

Room costs are more nebulous because we can book as a group and get a group discount and may all pay the same rate.  When I can tell them how many will be turning up, they will offer us some options and rates.  Ostensibly, a Casuarina room with two persons and breakfast and dinner included costs $130 per person per night, an Acacia room with two persons $185 and a 3-room sky lodge with 6 people $147.  It depends how many people we have and what we may receive as a group discount.  See update below.

There are two main ways to get there.  You can drive or you can fly.

  • Ride sharing might be a possibility for the drive option though it’s too long to do in one hit – probably around 12 hours.
  • Perhaps the most likely option is flying, to Brisbane or Gold Coast airports and Binna Burra Lodge will pick people up from those airports.  Canberra to Brisbane direct takes 1 hr 40 to 50 each way and costs from $321 return.   Canberra to Gold Coast takes 1 hr 30 to 40 each way if direct flights are available on that day and costs from $311 return.
    • Binna Burra Lodge will pick people up from either airport for a cost per person each way of between $175 (1 person) and $44 (4 persons), $49 (5 persons) or $41 (6 persons).
  • Going by train is a third option for pensioners, who can go free (though $10 for first class and maybe $100 for a sleeper).  Perhaps combined with a rental car.
    • The Lodge also picks people up from Nerang Station but the logistics of getting there from Canberra may be more trouble than it’s worth.  (Perhaps they’ll pick up from Brisbane Station too).

So the cost per person probably works out to between $900 and $1,230 for rooms and flying, less whatever discount we get.  (Of course, camping could be much cheaper).

In order to get the group discount, we need to have a group.  So please indicate if you are interested.  People can join later but may or may not get the group discount and the fewer who initially commit the less the discount will be.  Also, group rooms may be together which may not be possible for people joining later.

 

To reserve a place you will need to record the following details in a comment below or send me an email at zenophon@velocitynet.com.au .  Places are still available.  See update below.

  1. Name (singles) or Names (couples)
  2. Definite commitment or expression of interest
  3. Preference and availability for dates, whether that affects commitment and whether you prefer to include weekend dates
  4. Whether you prefer a room or intend to be camping and any preferences you have in either respect.

Even if you send an email, please record your name(s) in a comment below.  This will facilitate group discussions later on.

Update (28 March)

A group of us are going and most of us are staying in a four-bedroom house near the Binna Burra Lodge, Alcheringa.  This appears to offer more spacious and better quality accommodation than the sky lodges and at better value.

Currently we still have space for up to an additional two singles or a couple.  Cost will be $105 per person per night for one single or $200 for two singles or a couple.

Excursion to Point Hicks

The Canberra Photographic  Society is planning an excursion to Point Hicks Lighthouse where we can stay in the lighthouse cottages.  Point Hicks is in Victoria at the end of a road from Cann River, about 4½ hours drive from Canberra.  The excursion will be for three full days and the tentative date is for the nights of 11th to 14th November, arriving on the night of Friday 11th November and leaving on the morning of Tuesday 15th November.  Final dates will depend on preferences of participants and what dates are available at time of booking.

The excursion is for financial members of the Canberra Photographic Society only (and their spouses).

Food, drinks and linen are not supplied.  Linen can be supplied for a $15 fee but they prefer not to do this.  There will be no wifi and some phone coverage at a few places.  A washing machine is available at $4 per load though probably no-one will need this.  There are fireplaces and wood in the cottages and bungalow.

Camping is also available at Thurra River, about three kilometres from the lighthouse.

Point Hicks is the tallest lighthouse in Australia, with a tower 150 feet high, and we will be able to enter the lighthouse.  There is a wreck a little way south of the lighthouse, there are large sand dunes nearby and there are two three-man canoes available for hire for use in the Mueller River, about four kilometres from the lighthouse.  If we are lucky we may see dolphins, seals, whales, wombats, goannas and a variety of birds.

Here are some links with more information :

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Looking down Point Hicks stairwell to Keeper on pulley, 17 July 1987
Arca-Swiss 5×4″ monorail camera. 90mm Schneider Super Angulon, Fujichrome 50

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Cost will depend on how many people go and how many dwellings we use.  There are two cottages and a bungalow.  Each cottage has a double bedroom, a twin bedroom and a bunk room with four bunks (each 1.9 metres long).  Cottage #1 also has a second bunk room.  The bungalow has a double room and an outside toilet.  All have cooking facilities and equipment.

That makes a total of 22 people but we will probably limit numbers to two per bunk room for a total of 16.

At up to 16 people, depending on numbers, costs per person for four nights range from $245 to $350 for double room, $200 to $280 for twin room and $127 to $173 for a bunk.  The bungalow is $480.

However, for standard rate December, January and long weekends, costs per person for four nights range from $238 to $390 for double room, $185 to $310 for twin room and $129 to $205 for a bunk.  The bungalow is $560.

The default date is for four nights starting Friday 11th November, for which both cottages and the bungalow are currently available (if the website is accurate).  We have booked Cottage #1 and the Bungalow.  We are still able to book Cottage #2 if we have a couple to take the double room and in that case, berths may be availoable there.

  • Other possible dates with both cottages and the bungalow available are for weekends starting Friday 2 December*, 27 Jan*, 3 Feb, 17 Feb, 24 Feb, 3 March, 17 March and 24 March.
  • Possible dates with Cottage #2 only and the bungalow are weekends starting Friday 15 October, 18 November and 10 March*
  • Possible date with both cottages (but not bungalow) is 20 Jan*
  • Dates with asterisk are at higher “standard” rate.

Beds will be allocated on a first-come first served basis.  Couples will have priority for double and twin rooms.  Bunks will only be available if double and twin rooms are full.  Default order of preference for rooms is as follows:

  • Couples:
    1. Double room
    2. Bungalow (outside toilet)
    3. Twin room
    4. Bunk
  • Singles:
    1. Twin Room
    2. Bunk

Reservations must be final, at least by midnight on the night of Thursday 9th June You commit to paying a 50% deposit in early June and if the default date is available, the remaining 50% in early October.  You must pay the full amount which can be refunded only if someone can take your place.  (Note:  I expect to be travelling between 14th August and 7th October, so I may not be very responsive to emails in that time).

You can record an expression of interest or commit to requesting a berth later than that.  Additional beds may be allocated if available and we might later be able to rent a second cottage or the bungalow if there is sufficient delayed interest and they are still available.

Final payments (in October) will be adjusted for any later participants so the amount may differ from the initial deposit (potentially probably less).

To reserve a place you will need to record the following details in a comment below or send me an email at zenophon@velocitynet.com.au :

  1. Name (singles) or Names (couples)
  2. Definite commitment or expression of interest
  3. Preference and availability for dates and whether that affects commitment
  4. Whether you accept the default order of preference for rooms, or else your preference
  5. Alternatively, whether you intend to be camping (you can arrange that yourself through the Camping link above when dates are finalised)

Even if you send an email, please record your name(s) in a comment below.  This will facilitate group discussions later on.

“What is the best camera for landscape and wildlife photography?”

This comes from a comment I made to an article on John Enman’s blog.  He had been asked by someone “What is the best camera for outdoor and wildlife photography?”  That stated me thinking.  I read “outdoor” as “landscape” but that makes little difference.

I think “what is the best camera for landscape and wildlife?” is likely to be the wrong question.

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Near Boolcoomatta Station, South Australia

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A better place to start is:

  • What do I actually photograph and what do I aim to photograph?
  • What forms of output do I use and aspire to?
  • What are the restrictions of my equipment including camera and lenses and support?
  • Am I getting the best possible results from my existing equipment, given its limitations?

Then, having considered and answered all those questions:

  • Are the limitations of my equipment restricting me and if so in what way?
  • Is purchasing new camera or lenses a sensible choice in these circumstances?

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White-tailed Sea Eagle, Hokkaido, Japan

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For example, if someone is only posting to the web and only shooting in the middle of the day, getting better equipment may not make much difference.

Landscape and wildlife photography have different requirements but are similar in many ways.

In both cases the most important thing apart from lighting and exposure is that it should be sharp where it needs to be. And unless you can use a shutter speed high enough to get images as sharp as they would be on a tripod, you should use a tripod. You should test to see what that will be at different focal lengths and it is likely to be significantly higher than the old film standard of one over focal length (depending also on VR/IS). A cheap tripod may not be much use, though. It should be a good tripod (which is likely to be expensive) and carbon fibre if you want a light one.

For landscapes, any lens may be suitable, it depends on the subject and your preferences.   I perhaps prefer ultrawides but in that case you have to understand how to compose with them. Long telephotos are the go for wildlife, really good ones are very expensive and don’t expect an all-purpose ultrazoom to be very sharp.

If we’re talking DSLRs or mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses, the quality of your lens is likely to more important than the quality of your camera. In general, though, the smaller the sensor of your camera, the less capable at higher ISOs. This is compounded if you are using a slow all-purpose zoom.

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Assynt, Northern Scotland

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You should in general shoot landscapes at low ISOs, using a tripod where necessary, and adjusting apertures for optimal sharpness (look at reviews for your lens) and optimal depth of field. In this case, high ISO capabilities of the camera are not so important. Street photography in low light, though, is a different matter. Also, for night landscapes in the unlit countryside, it is useful to have a fast lens and a camera capable at high ISOs so your exposure times with star trails don’t spiral out of control, or so your exposure times can stay low enough (10 secs say) to keep stars still.

For wildlife, though, you are likely to use high shutter speeds and often need to shoot in low light. So as well as a long lens, it is advantageous to have a fast lens and a camera that is capable at high ISOs. The longer the lens is, the more essential a tripod is likely to be as well.  Also, autofocus is critical and DSLRs still have the advantage here.

A final constraint is weight, particularly where you are carrying your equipment in a pack or are travelling. If your back is OK, your legs are OK, your health is OK and you have a good pack, you can carry a heavy pack for considerable periods of time should you choose to do so. This may be very valuable to get the right shot in the right place at the right time. I used to carry a 25 kilo pack in long walks in my 30s. These days I would probably keep that to 16 kilos and my light pack (mirrorless equipment) is probably about 8 kilos. However, there is no point carrying equipment you don’t use and sometimes travelling very light can be an interesting exercise.

 

Elements of Composition (for Landscape Photography)

When you are approaching the composition of a landscape remembering some of the following basic ideas will help you create a stronger image. Sometimes you may wish to ignore these elements to make a creative choice. To retain creative control, do this by design rather than by accident!

1. Tell a story

If you aim to tell a story, that will help you decide what to put into the frame and what to leave out. Think

  • What am I feeling?
  • What am I seeing, what do I want my viewer to see?

The main tools that assist with effective story telling are to:

  • Have some element of interest
  • Strive for visual balance
  • Control the way the eye moves in the image

2. Consider the following basics elements of an image:

  • Framing: Is it horizontal, vertical or a panorama? Bear in mind that a frame is an artifice – we don’t see in letter-boxes with hard edges. Our eyes behave differently when constrained by a frame, so how you frame is a critical component of your image. Consider using a frame within a frame (such as a doorway, foliage) for a stronger effect.
  • Visual balance within the frame. Landscapes generally work best if there is a foreground, a middleground and a back-ground. If your image is not satisfying to you, see if you are leaving out one of these elements, or if they are not balanced. Placing items of interest in accordance with the “rule of thirds” can also help make visually balanced images.

3. Learn how to control they way the eye of the viewer moves within your frame. Generally the eye moves:

  • To light areas
  • To areas with contrast and sharpness
  • Along lines
  • To colour – more to saturated and warm areas
  • To contrast
  • To eyes, human forms, animals and representations of human influence.

4. Include elements that the eye finds pleasing:

  • Patterns
  • Repetition
  • Symmetry
  • The odd one out in a pattern or repetition
  • Simplicity or complexity but not busy-ness and clutter

5. Avoid things that the eye finds displeasing:

  • Distractions – light areas in the wrong spot
  • Lines leading out of the frame
  • Cut edges and overlapping forms.

In order to reduce displeasing elements,

  • Always check your image and subject edges
  • Look for separation between elements.
The loneliness of the lighthouse keeper's wife

The loneliness of the lighthouse keeper’s wife

This image is an example of a frame within a frame. The door invites the viewer into the image. The colour of the sea attracts the eye. The door, rug and picket fence tell of domesticity. Although the scene is beautiful it is empty, hence the caption. This was taken at the lighthouse cottage at Green Cape. The lighthouse keeper’s wife had little company or support in raising her family through all weathers and in sickness and in health.

Boat at Fishpen Jetty

Boat at Fishpen Jetty

This image is an example of framing, leading lines and light. The early morning sun has just kissed the wooden jetty. This image is not that successful as the leading lines go nowhere. However, if there weren’t complete separation of the boat, it would certainly not be a successful image.

Laguna Blanca - Bolivian Altiplano

Laguna Blanca – Bolivian Altiplano

This image has a foreground, middle and back ground that all work well together to tell the story of isolation and a grand landscape. The human element adds to the story – they have obviously travelled without the benefit of roads. They are dwarfed by the landscape features.

Precarious Tree on Cliff at Oxer Lookout, Karijini

Precarious Tree on Cliff at Oxer Lookout, Karijini

This image shows the tree on one of the “line of thirds.”  The eye finds this off-centre approach appealing.

Greenland Fjord

Greenland Fjord

Another example of an image with a fore- middle- and background. The real subjects are the magnificent icebergs and interesting light on the clouds. However the human element in the foreground, and the extensive middle ground add to the sense of scale.

Tatio Geysers, Chilean Altiplano

Tatio Geysers, Chilean Altiplano

Another classical fore-, middle and background construction. Note that if the geyser steam had been curling the other way, the image would have been less successful.

Uyuni Salt Train

Uyuni Salt Train

Classical leading lines illustrate that, culturally, we tend to read lines from the bottom left of the image as the strongest lines. Other elements are balanced, with the central train flanked by two volcanoes (a trio of elements). The main subject is the most colourful element.

Knox Swimming Hole, Karijini, WA

Knox Swimming Hole, Karijini, WA

Leading lines and strong colour tell the story of an inviting and tranquil pool.

Judy on the Rocks: Merimbula

Judy on the Rocks: Merimbula

Strong colour and leading lines – as taken.

Judy on Rocks: Image Flipped

Judy on Rocks: Image Flipped

To my eye, this image reads much better as the strong lines coming in from the bottom left travel through the whole image before being turned back. They eye therefore travels around within the image, which it doesn’t do in the top version. The human form adds scale and interest.

A single cone in the vast salt lake of Uyuni after rain

A single cone in the vast salt lake of Uyuni after rain

As I was looking for this image, the thought running through my mind was “Simplify, simplify, simplify.” The single salt cone and snow-clad volcano hang in a sea of light.

Phil at Sani Pass, Lesotho

Phil at Sani Pass, Lesotho

Again I was looking for a simple image. Note that the cloud in the middle ground separating the fore and backgrounds is what makes the image. The human element adds interest. Without the cloud and the figure the image would be boring.

The vast salt flats of Uyuni, Bolivia

The vast salt flats of Uyuni, Bolivia

I was looking to simplify to tell the story of the vast open space, and to convey the feeling of being suspended in a blue bubble.

Bryce Canyon Rock Formation

Bryce Canyon Rock Formation

Interesting light can be the most important element in a successful landscape. Here the first rays of the sun light up and isolate a rock formation in a complex canyon.

The following images illustrate the use of repetition and patterns, and the effect of breaking a pattern (white railway trucks on a red train, a village in rice terraces).

Bridge over the Tigris, Turkey

Bridge over the Tigris, Turkey

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Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces and Traditional Village

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Two boats at Merimbula

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Salt train from Uyuni

Finally the following images illustrate the importance of separation. The pre-dawn light is soft and the silver bark gleams. There is no overlap between this tree and any other. This sometimes takes a bit of effort to find. In the wharf silhouette, the rocks of the foreground are just separated from the background by the water. Without the fishermen facing in to the scene, the image would be bland and boring.

Eucalypt in pre-dawn light, Karijini

Eucalypt in pre-dawn light, Karijini

Merimbula Wharf at Sunset

Merimbula Wharf at Sunset

Recent Articles from the Web

(News from the Ether)

The Nature of Creativity by Steve Gosling

The Epson V850 Pro scanner in Context by Mark Segal.  Includes a link to a very detailed review with comparisons of other scanners.

Sony A7II and Tamron 150-600mm in Antarctica by Michael Reichmann

A Spanish Aussie in the USA by Ignacio Palacios

Astrophotography Image Processing using Modern RAW Converters by Roger Clark

Macro Photography Tutorial by Spencer Cox

Best and Worst Sony Lenses for A7 Cameras by Nasim Mansurov

Photographing the Milky Way by Aaron Priest

Astrophotography Tutorial by Wei-Hao Wang

How Much Resolution do you Really Need? by Nasim Mansurov