Monthly Archives: October 2007

Daylight saving

Suburban nightmare

Daylight saving time has started again here in Melbourne and I love it. I love the long evenings that allow time for walks after dinner, or wandering around the garden with the dogs at my heels.

I love that, the minute it starts, it feels like Christmas is almost upon us; that barbecue dinners become regular occurrences and that – for a while – I am able to get up early enough to see the hot air balloons drift overhead in the mornings.

NanoWrimo starts tomorrow, so I’m going to have to be really organised if I’m to get all of the Christmas things done, as well as writing my 1,666 words a day! I’m making myself a schedule, though I don’t know how I will go at sticking to it, with these lovely long evenings and meals with friends to distract me…

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Sleeping in the sun

sleeping in the sunOur local park is a reclaimed  tip, having been filled and landscaped around the same time we moved into the area.

It is a lovely park, with lots of open grass for games, and lots of shade for families on hot days. There used to be a pond, too, stocked with yabbies. Unfortunately, the pond base cracked and there were problems with maintaining water levels before the drought, so once the drought and water restrictions kicked in, it really became a frivolity.

We used to have fun with the yabbies,though, luring them out of the water with a piece of meat on a thread, and then setting them up to race back to the water. Meg was only four at the time and, as much as I enjoy yabbie meat, I couldn’t bear to kill them when we had been playing with them, so after the yabbie races we would throw our bait into the water for them to eat. It seemed like a fair trade.

On Friday of last week, while walking the dogs, I came across this man sleeping in the park and enjoying the beautiful day. He was set up with a very comfortable-looking mat and pillow, and appeared to be completely at peace. I didn’t want to disturb him by going too close to photograph him, and so had to make do with this surreptitious image.

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Fairfield Bowling Club

Fairfield Bowls Club

The greens of the Fairfield Bowling Club are graced, on Thursday evenings during summer, with barefoot bowlers – many of them inexperienced. Gone are the white uniforms, stiff hats and stuffy attitudes of the ‘pros’- these sessions are full of laughter and camaraderie, and are held to promote membership of the club. They are also great fun to watch, and have caught my eye on more than one occasion as I’ve been passing.

I find it really interesting taking photos of my local area, as it has prompted me to look into a little of the history, to find out about the buildings/places in the images. In this case, I’ve learnt that the club was established in 1913, and that – although it has been through a few incarnations since then – it has functioned continuously ever since. For anyone interested in finding out more, their website can be found at:

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Fairfield station

fairfield railway station

Fairfield Railway Station

I’ve been searching the internet to try and find some historical information on Fairfield Railway Station, and the closest I can come is a photograph dated 1910, on the Darebin Historical Encyclopaedia: .

Regardless, it makes an interesting subject for photography, no matter what type of camera you are using. General paranoia about people taking photographs of public buildings such as stations can lead to you getting some funny looks, though, as I discovered when I took this picture yesterday.

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Blond pups

This little guy looked heartbroken.  He (she?) sat looking wistfully out through the bars of the pet shop cage, wondering what was going on. I’m a sucker for puppies at the best of times, but it was all I could do not to take this particular one home.

This is one place where using a mobile phone camera is ideal.  A quick snap doesn’t intrude on anyone, and doesn’t frighten or blind the puppies.

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In a spin

spin bikes

Spin bikes are breeding at my gym.  At first there was only one, but now there are 12, or maybe 13 – I can’t tell because they all look alike and they sort of blend in together when you try to count them.

These bright yellow, glorified exercise bikes are taking over the circuit room, too.  Everytime you turn your back, they seem to creep a little further forward, just like the players in ‘What’s the time, Mr Wolf”?

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Christmas Pudding time

Pudding Bowls

 It’s past the mid-way mark in October, and my mind has turned to Christmas. Meg and I are planning and buying components for gift making, and are well on the way to knowing who is getting what – although we still have to get everything ready in time.  I’ve given myself until the first week in December to get the presents ready for those interstate, which is the bulk of the family.

This year, because I am able to, I am spending time on presents, rather than money. At least, I am for those who appreciate it.  Not everyone sees the thought and effort that goes into making something from scratch. For these people, a gift of food seems to work where perhaps a handmade bracelet doesn’t.

So, the next thing on the list is the Christmas cooking. I’ve checked with my local nut shop owner, Ross, to find out when he will be getting the dried fruit in for the Christmas puddings, and have been assured that it will be in, in the week after the Melbourne Cup is run.

Making Christmas puddings has become a big deal for me.  Last year I made 13 – this year it will probably be 15. They are not all huge by any means. Some of them are only big enough to serve two; others are big enough to serve 12. I’ve got an arrangement with everyone who gets one, that if they return their empty bowl to me, I will refill it the next year. The image above shows the new set of pudding bowls I recently bought at Queen Victoria Market.  I love them so much that I won’t let them stray too far from home.

My Christmas Pudding recipe is a cracker – given to me by my mother-in-law about ten years ago, it originated in the Australian Womens’ Weekly, sometime in the ’70s, I believe. I make a gluten-free version for my coeliac friends, by substituting a wheat-free mix for the regular flour, and an alcohol-free version for my Buddhist friends from Tai Chi, so pretty much everyone is covered. In the latter case, I substitute orange juice for the brandy, and only let it soak for an hour or two before proceeding with the mixing. That’s the other thing I should mention: where the recipe calls for rum, I’ve always used brandy because I prefer the flavour it produces.

For those who don’t like dried fruit (though I find it hard to imagine myself),  I make various other confections, with Meg’s help: shortbread, gingerbread, chocolate balls (rum balls without the rum) – even jars of laksa paste and chutney.  Throughout November and December, the house is full of the smells of Christmas. I can’t wait.

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Using my mobile phone camera to take photographs for this project has reinforced my belief that the strength of an image lies not so much in the camera used to capture it, but in the ‘vision’ of the photographer.

I’m finding that, although I have very little control over exposure or focal length, and am often shooting blind because I am reliant upon using the lcd screen to compose, I am getting  images that I’m happy with,  and that are comparable to those taken with my (much more versatile) DSLR.

Composition, as always, is paramount.  The ‘rule of thirds’ is a compositional rule of thumb in photography and other visual arts such as painting. The rule states that an image can be divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines. The four points formed by the intersections of these lines can be used to align features in the photograph. Proponents of this technique claim that aligning a photograph with these points creates more tension, energy and interest in the photo than simply centering the feature would.(Source: Wikipedia)

However, sometimes these rules can be adhered to, to the detriment of the final image.

The two images I’ve included here – taken on my walk along Birrarung Marr on Friday -demonstrate how sometimes breaking the rules can produce a better image.

The image above does not follow the ‘rule of thirds’.  The bridge, which is the main subject, almost bisects the photograph, rather than falling on one of the ‘golden’ or ‘power’ points/lines of the photograph, and yet it works because of the effects of perspective on the bridge.  The bridge leads you into the photograph from the right hand side to the left, and gives a sense of movement to the image.

12102007006-web.jpgThe image to the left, follows the ‘rule of thirds’, with the Eureka Tower falling on the right-hand vertical ‘power’ line, and the bridge falling on the lower-third ‘power’ line, albeit on a bit of an angle.

The composition of this image – although more in line with the ‘rule of thirds’ – is much less pleasing.  The portrait format contributes to the unsatisfying final result, with the curve of the bridge being interrupted by the narrow frame.

Taking ‘arty’ photographs with your mobile phone camera – or with any other camera for that matter – is not everyone’s idea of fun, I know. However, if you – like me – are entranced with image making, you will automatically try to get the best out of any camera in your possession.  Remembering the rules of composition will help make the end result something you want to include in your album – or put on your blog!

Now I’m off to play with my latest ‘toy’, which is both literally and figuratively a toy – my new Holga medium format camera.

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Bells and whistles

Wheel and bellsYesterday, when I finished my editing class in town, I decided to walk along the Yarra river to Jolimont station instead of catching the train at Flinders Street, as I usually would.  I’ve only done the full walk along Birrarung Marr once before, and it has been a revelation both times.The ferris wheel is the most obvious landmark – as in physically obvious – though not the most notable attraction, in my opinion. The image at left shows a view from the footbridge behind the wheel.  (You can see that a storm was just about to break, and the clouds provided a really dramatic backdrop and muted the gaudy colours of the wheel.)

My favourite discovery – although is has apparently been in place since 2002 – was the Federation Bells installation.  I saw what I thought was a really interesting-looking sculpture, and then was delighted and amazed when the bells started ringing.  It turned out that I had arrived, by chance, at the start of one of daily ‘performances’. I must have looked like a dill,  standing there with my mouth open, but it was absolutely entrancing.

Federation bellsThis image shows the Federation Bells, with the ferris wheel as a backdrop.

The only part of the area I dislike is when you go over the footbridge towards the MCG and Rod Laver arena. Speakers set into the sides of the bridge play snippets of songs in Language, with each new section slightly overlapping the last, so that the resultant soundscape can be quite unsettling – at least I found it so.  Personally, I would much rather hear something in its entirety as I walk the length of the bridge.  I don’t really think the format does the music justice, either, but that is just my opinion.

Overall, I had a fabulous walk. Although windy and – eventually – wet, I got a great view of the Yarra; saw what appeared to be an Indian bridal party having photographs taken (though it may have been a commercial photo shoot – who knows), and found the Federation Bells. I also got some photos I am quite pleased with – I think I’ve got the hang of my new phone camera, now.

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Fish filters

Fish filters

Okay, I’ll admit that this image isn’t straight out of my phone… In fact, this was taken three weeks ago with my old phone, and was a bit dodgy. So, I had a little fun in Photoshop, using a filter to add texture, and changing it from colour to black & white, so that it looked a little like it had been drawn with charcoal.

 Here’s the original:

Fishy original

 I personally think that the ‘filtered’ version is preferable, although I do like the colour in the original.

Of course, not everyone has access to photo editing software like Photoshop, but if you do, you can have a lot of fun making simple changes for dramatic effect.

My favourite thing to do in Photoshop is restoring old images to their former glory.

Here is an example with a before and after shot:



 This is a portrait of a dear friend’s mother.  It could still stand a little colour balancing, as it has a cast, but is acceptable as it is, particularly as I have no way of knowing for sure if her dress was white or cream.

I’m a bit of a traditionalist, with applying the occasional filter about the wildest thing I do in Photoshop at the moment.  I am working hard to break myself of this habit, to give me flexibility to develop new skills, but it is a slow process as I get so caught up in doing restorations that I forget to do anything different.

It gives me such a charge to see photos brought back to their original state, and to see the faces of the people whose pictures I have repaired, that I feel like I’ve been given a gift.

I’ll share more of my Photoshop work with you in the coming days and weeks, but in the meantime, go to if you’d like to see some of the photos I’ve taken with my other camera (a Canon 10D).

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