Category Archives: photography

Hippos in the frame

Lotus, the baby hippopotamus, with her mother, Primrose.

As one of our Christmas holiday activities, an extended family group went to Werribee Open Range Zoo in the first week of January. Naturally, I couldn’t resist taking my new camera with me, to see what it could do.

hippo-and-mum-low-res

 These pictures are as they came out of the camera (with the exception of resizing them, of course)

hippo-butts-low-res

As usual, I pushed the camera, yet with the zoom at 360mm and being hand-held, it still managed to pick up the grains of sand on the baby hippo’s bottom.

The colour rendition is good straight out of the box and there are lots of really clever things like a built in video camera that can record in different modes – including for uploading to the net, and an overlay grid on the lcd screen to help with composition.

All in all, I love it – but it was the hippos that made my day!

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Bill Bailey at Hamer Hall

 

Last Saturday night, when we were in town to see Bill Bailey at the Arts Centre, Grand Final fever was in full swing. There were people EVERYWHERE, in different stages of euphoria or despair. I didn’t consider the fact that it would be Grand Final day when I booked the tickets, but it wouldn’t really have mattered, because nothing would have stopped me in any case.

And it was SO worth braving the crowds – he was amazing (unlike my photographs, but this is the ongoing disappointment of trying to take pictures of gigs without the proper equipment, so we won’t dwell on it here). Needless to say, I’m looking at investing in a compact camera with a good zoom on a fast lens – maybe a Panasonic Lumix, because of their Leica lenses – for just this situation. Until I’m well known enough around the venues to be able to get away with taking my DSLR, that is… Oh well, I can dream, can’t I?

With his last show on in Melbourne tonight , I’m not going to give anything away other than to say that he includes local content that will have you in the aisles (can you say bogan?); plays a Theremin incredibly well (though you probably knew that already), and through the show swapped between it, an electric piano, a synthesizer, acoustic and electric guitars, a mandolin and a didgeridoo.

His story-telling is reminiscent of Billy Connelly’s meandering style, although with a more political bent, and his musical ability is staggering. The show was two hours long, not counting a twenty minute intermission, and during his time on stage he took us on a world tour through political commentary and his natural curiosity. Power companies, political leaders and tv shows all copped it, as did the Geelong Football club…

Speaking of which, I’m never going to be able to watch Friends again without thinking of Bill Bailey, though I can’t look at him without thinking of Manny in a shepherdess’s costume in the “Big and Beardy” magazine , so it only seems fair!

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The joy of reclaimed land

After dropping Meg at the railway station last Friday for the last day of school before the holidays, I decided to go straight up to Northcote to do the shopping. When I got there, I realised that I was too early for the particular shops I wanted, so I took advantage of the extra time and went for a walk around All Nations Park – something I haven’t done for months, despite loving it every time I do.

Having started out as a landfill (for non-putrescible waste), All Nations Park has become a focal point for the local community over the past six years since it opened. I admire the foresight of the people whose houses abut the park, as much as I admire those who made it, though for different reasons. When it was a tip, it was a dust bowl, and now it is green and leafy and beautiful. Wouldn’t mind having it outside my front door…

I’ll save you the pictures of ducks, today, and instead show you the very groovy toilet block (albeit one of those scary talking ones). I love that even a humble toilet block can be turned into something attractive. Got to love architects (which I do, by the way, as I am married to one).

Groovy toilet block

Talking toilet block

After wandering around the lake and watching the ducks (and the toilet block), I came across a sign, the back of which had been painted so that the eyes looked out at you from over the reeds and other plants.

Peek a boo

I don’t know anything about this particular piece of art – like whether or not it is a ‘sanctioned’ work, or has just been done by someone for the fun of it – but either way, I love it.

When I got to the top of the park, on the bluestone hill that was created as a focal point, I thought I’d try out the panorama function on my phone camera. The results are patchy – especially the view to the East, where the rising sun really caused the camera some grief – but it was fun to try, and was such a clear morning that it was just nice being out for a walk.

The view to the East

The view to the West

The view to the West

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Random things

The ceiling near the cinemas

Here are a few random images I’ve taken over the last week or so. This first image is of the ceiling at Northland Shopping centre, in the open space at the foot of the escalators that lead up to the cinemas: an unexpectedly creative ceiling and one that is easy to miss. I mean, how often do you stand around at the shopping centre, gazing at the ceiling?!

This second image has appeared recently on the wall of an old garage in Fairfield, at the northern end of the shopping strip. I like the fact that whoever painted it, used a rectangular hole in the wall (made by a missing brick,  perhaps?) as the mouth.

Another fun bit of graffiti - this time in Fairfield.

This morning when I walked past, someone had put a stick in it, so that it looked like it was eating.

My next image is another one of the shot tower at Melbourne Central.

In black and white you can really concentrate on the strong lines and contrasts. This was taken coming up the escalator from the station.

 

Finally, a detail shot of the carved paving at Federation Square. When the light hits it at an angle you can see all the carving in great detail, providing yet another focal point to consider. The more time I spend there, the more I discover and the more I like.

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Ducks in suburbia

 

Driving Meg to school one morning last week, we were thrilled to see three ducks wander across the side street in which we park, to forage in the dirt of a building site.

I don’t know what type of ducks they were – they were brown and speckled and cute, and completely unfazed by us – but what variety, and whether they were wild or domesticated, I couldn’t say.

I know it is a little un-pc, but we hastily pulled a piece of bread from Meg’s sandwich and the ducks happily took it from her. It was a lovely way to start the day, with an unexpected sight and the chance to get up close. Their comfort around people makes me think that they were probably pets. Either that, or they are so used to being fed by well-meaning passers-by that they are completely accustomed to the company of humans.

 

On the previous Sunday, a trip into town to see the VCE Top Arts exhibition at the NGV in Federation Square, provided its own excitement.

We made a point of going because we know one of the exhibitors – Andrew Fanning, the brother of one of Meg’s friends. Andrew was selected to exhibit two of his pieces: a self portrait and (in Top Designs at the Museum) an intricate chess set.

It is amazing to see the talent of the top year 12 art students in the state, and the calibre of their work, but not a stretch to see whose names will be appearing around the art world before long.

 

On leaving the NGV we wandered across to catch the City Circle tram and I was struck, as I always am, by the intricacy of the Forum Theatre building. The cross-hatching on the building’s facade makes me think of Moorish architecture – apparently with cause. According to the website Walking Melbourne, it is one of the few examples of this style in the city.

Built in 1928, the building was formerly known as the State Theatre.

I love it, though the angle I was on has given it a little bit of a lean in the photograph. Not one I can fix, either, without sacrificing the straightness of something else, like the traffic light!

My last photograph of the day was unplanned, but I quite like the result. Let me know what you think…

 

I like it for the strong diagonals, and the lone cigarette butt sitting on the right hand vertical third.

By the way, we were getting on to the tram to go up to China Town for yum cha, and due to queues at our restaurant of choice we ended up at another, less crowded establishment. Should I state the obvious, that it was less crowded for a reason…? If I say that it was the Chinese restaurant version of Fawlty Towers, would that tell you everything you need to know?

Next time we’ll wait, or at least go on recommendation. Oh well, live and learn.

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An Amazon Lily and a soapbox

Lily pond, Adelaide Botanic GardensAdelaide Botanic Garden’s Amazon Lily

When we visited Adelaide last month, we were almost lucky enough to see the giant Amazon Lily in flower in the new purpose-built pavilion in Adelaide Botanic Gardens. I say almost, because we saw some buds and a spent lily, but didn’t actually get to see a flower fully open.

According to the Botanic Gardens’ website, the first flower that opened this year in the new lily pond, did so on January 1 and measured 30cm across! I didn’t check, but the larger leaves looked to be more than a metre across (the largest is 1.65m, apparently!), and had wicked spikes on their edges, a hint of which you may be able to see in the photo, above.

The building on its own was quite amazing, being largely built out of glass and with what looked like lily-pads on poles supporting the roof.

Now for the Soapbox part…

Terry Lane, who has an article in The Age Green-Guide every Thursday (Imaging, in the Livewire section) has a blog – DPExpert – which has reviews, information and advice on digital photography.  One article,  regarding the use of phone cameras and the lack of prints being made from them, was printed in the Age in January and really struck a chord.

The technology has changed so much in the last couple of years, and the quality of the images from phone cameras has improved so greatly, that there really is no excuse for not having them printed. That, after all, is one of the basic tenets of this blog – that we have a greater chance to be social historians than we’ve ever had before – but if the pictures aren’t printed, they could very easily be lost forever.

A 2mp camera on a phone can easily produce a 10x15cm image (standard-sized print), and there are many places that can print them for you at reasonable prices. My favourite places for printing are: GetDigital.com.au, (they do great quality standard-sized prints from 10c each), and MOO, (who make really great minicards, notecards, stickers and postcards) at very reasonable prices. Both companies provide excellent service, as well. And, No, I don’t work for either of them!

So, whatever is holding you back – whether it is mastering the technology, forgetfulness or simply that you hadn’t thought to do it – don’t let the precious memories you carry around in your phones be lost – get them printed!

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The colour of envy

Green motorbike #1

 I’ve never been one to ride motorbikes, but I think some of the older ones are just beautiful, with their mixture of glossy paint and chrome, and their smooth curves.

I would have liked to spend more time photographing this bike, and actually had my DSLR with me, but the rain wouldn’t let up and I didn’t want to risk getting it wet. Yet another advantage of phone cameras – they are so compact, and so quick to use, that the rain wasn’t even an issue with it!

As it was, I couldn’t spot the owner anywhere, and felt it would have been appropriate to speak with him/her before taking a more elaborate ‘portrait’ of this beauty (if only to be able to share the image with them). So – armed with my trusty phone camera – I settled for taking a couple of quick shots for this blog.

The limitations of this type of camera are obvious, too, in these shots: the highlights are blown, and with no way to alter depth of field,  selective focus was out of the question. However, careful compostion has produced two quite passable images, despite these limitations. Of course, the rain helped, too, by making the colours so much more vivid than they would have been in dry weather!

Green motorbike #2

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