Mungo and Uluru

Aug 26, 2015

Day 1
 
We drove from Melbourne to mungo through mildura. We saw the lunettes at mungo and stayed up late for one of the clearest night skies that I’m ever likely to see. Saw emus and mobs of kangaroos, almost smashed into one of them. I’m shooting with the 5ds which is on loan from TEDs. The intervalometer function really saved me as the batteries ran out on my canon cable release. I had batteries in the car but as we found out later that night it was difficult to get back to the car in pitch black darkness (the moon was down).
 
We witnessed the clearest view of the milky way I’d ever seen and I believe witnessed the tail end of a meteor shower. Hopefully the images turn out. It really was surreal being in that environment.

 
5ds vs 5d2
The 5ds is clearly the superior camera. It feels bulky compared the the mark 2 but the additional features make it an amazing camera. I was shooting the milky way under a moonless sky and I realise that my trusty intervelometor had run out of batteries. I can use it as a remote but nothing else. This is where the 5ds saved me. I had fresh batteries in the car but that was so far away on such a dark night. It didn’t all go smoothly though. I set the camera to take 25 images. It captured a few then stopped. I thought the buffer might be the issue, it wasn’t. I finally figured out that the camera was calculating the interval multiplied by the number of shots. Well I was shooting at a shutter speed of 20 seconds which was much less than the interval of 5ish seconds. Silly that this is an issue but the workaround was easy. I put in an interval of 9 seconds and a shot count of 85. That was plenty of time to get the shots I needed.
 
The other issue I had with the 5ds was learning the buttons. Not an issue with the camera but I had fun trying to figure out which button did what. It all worked out eventually so no dramas. I really like the 5ds. It made me question my decision to buy an a7r2 instead. Unfortunately my a7r2 didn’t arrive till after the trip so I’ve had to use the 5ds instead. This worked out really well actually because now I’ve used both cameras. (UPDATE) After reviewing some of the images on the computer I am confident that the 5ds is a much better camera than the 5d2 and possibly has an edge over the a7r2 in terms of resolving detail. I may end up adding one of these to my kit once the price comes down. For now the a7r2 has arrived and I look forward to testing that camera soon.
 
Day 2
 
Got up early after a night of no sleep. Witnessed a kangaroo go arse over tit in an attempt to hop away from the car. Unfortunately sunrise was underwhelming at the walls of China. So we scouted out some shooting angles again for sunset. Saw more kangaroo’s and emu’s. Had a great sunset and went out to shoot the stars again. This night was even clearer than last night. It was amazing. The moon set to a blood red tinge as it had the night before. The clarity in the sky was beyond belief.
 
Day 3
 
Got up early again and shot the sunrise at the walls of China. This was far better than the day before although we didn’t have much time to enjoy it. Went to get on the road when I hit a kangaroo on the way to mildura. Stuffed up the car but fortunately no damage was done internally. Stopped for lunch at a nice little town called Burra. Saw a picturesque abandoned building so I stopped to take a shot. Saw many canola fields and beautiful landscapes as we drove. However we were behind schedule and needed to reach coober pedy by 9pm. Eventually we got there on time. The beds were very comfy after what we’d been used to at mungo. Got a notification that my a7r2 had arrived. Thanks Sony but you are a bit too late. Meanwhile I’m continuing to enjoy using the 5ds.
 
Abandoned house near Burra
 
Day 4
 
Got up early in the morning to get to the painted desert. I think this was worth the effort even with the amount of cows we had to stop for. We saw several mountain ranges that looked stunning but we were glad to leave the dirt road driving behind us. We pushed hard and made uluru by 2:30 and prepared ourselves before heading to the national park for sunset. The sky behind us was better than the sky in front of us but even though it was nice I had come here to shoot uluru. I want to leave here with some good shots. I don’t think I’m a good enough photographer.
 
Painted Desert SA
 
Day 5
 
Got up early for sunrise at Ayer’s Rock. We were the third car to reach the gate but got to the lookout spot first. Witnessed some lightning before shooting the rock. Climbed the rock or most of it at least. I’m too unfit at the moment. Ate lunch at a local cafe.
 
Walked through Walpa Gorge at the Olgas. It was beautiful. Witnessed sunset from the sunrise viewing platform. I will return tomorrow.
 
Uluru and Walpa Gorge
 
Day 6
 
Went to the olgas (Kata Tjuta) for sunrise. Then did the valley of the winds walk. It was the most amazing of the trip. Stopped many times to take pics. It was fun trying something different. Sunset was back at Uluru. Tried a slightly different position this time after being yelled at by park staff for being in a non-designated photo area. Seriously the rules here and at Mungo are very annoying. Had a decent sunset and went back to Yulara for dinner.
 
Uluru at sunset
 
Day 7
 
Got up early for sunrise and for once I wasn’t the first one to get to a certain spot. Luckily the photographer next to me set up in a position that I wouldn’t have set up in so it was all good. Took a quick walk around the base (not the whole thing, just the mala walk) and really enjoyed the walk. We were on the road by 9:30am and went straight for Melbourne. I was very tired at the end of this trip.
 
 


Pinnacles at Phillip Island

Jan 02, 2014

Went to Phillip Island to photograph the Pinnacles, another place on my list. It was great to take a long drive and have some time to think and listen to some great music at dangerously loud levels. The weather was very average on the way there so I was thinking it would be a terrible photo shoot. I followed a guide on how to get there from http://www.freephotoguides.com. The guide was 100% accurate and it would’ve been hard to find this spot without the help of this guide. Getting down to the bottom was the hardest bit but once you are down there you are glad you made the effort.
 
When I got there I did a bit of exploring. The entire area is beautiful and it is well worth coming early to see as much as you can. I also got to see a baby seal enjoying itself by sunning on the rocks. The weather had remained not that great until the sun had fully gone down when the magic started. It wasn’t a great sunset till after the sun had disappeared and the clouds started to catch fire. There were a couple of other photographers there but it was mostly quiet. After taking these shots I started to head back when thousands and thousands of birds started flying overhead. All the people there were in awe. I’d never seen so many in my entire life. It was like something out of a movie. I saw many wallabies as well on the way back. This is a spot I highly recommend that everyone visit if you have the fitness/agility to get down that last slope at the end.
Pinnacles at Phillip Island
Pinnacles at Phillip Island


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Melbourne at dusk

Dec 14, 2013

I have to admit that I’m scared of heights. So doing photography on top of the Eureka Skydeck seemed like a great opportunity to me. I got a pass for a full year so expect me to take more shots from Skydeck. Just walking around at night and getting a 360 degree view from 88 floors up is amazing. It’s just one of the many reasons that I love Melbourne so much. I can’t wait to go back.
 
Just a quick note that if you are going to be shooting through glass you will probably have to deal with reflections. Wear black and purchase a circular polariser if you don’t have one already. This won’t eliminate all reflections but it will help remove some. Getting your camera as close as possible to the glass will also help. I’ll be using a lenskirt next time I shoot and that should remove all reflections.
Melbourne at night
 
Once I was done at Skydeck I decided to try to shoot the Webb Bridge. This was on my previous to do list. Once there I met some of my cousins. Andrea was hosting a night photography class and I just happened to bump into her half way through my shoot. You should check out her website as she is quite talented http://www.andreaperrin.com.
The Webb Bridge at night


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Grampians

Nov 09, 2012

We headed up to the Grampians at about lunch time on Friday. We stayed in Halls Gap which was amazing and went to the balconies lookout at Sunset. It was only a km or two from the carpark. The next day was the fun bit. It took us almost an hour to reach the top of the Pinnacle but it was well worth it. Seeing sights along the way like the Grand Canyon (nowhere near as impressive as the U.S. version) and silent street made the journey so much fun. We had also made the trip to MacKenzie Falls and then finally the Boroka Lookout (below) before heading home. I had to climb over the rails to get to this vantage point but because I am scared of heights my heart was pounding. It was truly an exhilarating moment. I wish we had more time to stay…
 

View from the Boroka Lookout at the Grampians

View from the Boroka Lookout at the Grampians


1000 Steps

Aug 18, 2012

In the hopes of getting a little bit fitter myself, Greg and Chungy ended up doing the 1000 steps today. I really don’t think that there was 1000 of them though.
 
 


A long drive in Victoria

Aug 12, 2012

So yesterday was one of those days that I decided I needed to do more exercise. Greg an I set out from Melbourne and we made our way up the Great Ocean Rd. The idea was to go on some walks to get my fitness up, see some of Australia and also to keep practising photography. We made our way up Skenes Creek Rd all the way to Beech Forest. Along the way we tried to stop at some waterfalls. I didn’t take any photos when we arrived at Erskine Falls however I did use it as an opportunity to use my glidecam hd 2000. Before we got to Beech Forest we tried to go to Beauchamp Falls which was near Hopetoun Falls. However the falls were closed due to falling trees and an eroding track.

Triplet Falls
 
We decided to have lunch and then stop in Beech Forest for a coffee. The view from the cafe was magnificent. So then we headed to Triplet Falls and decided to brave the rain (above). The walk was well worth it and amazingly there were quite a few people around despite the rain. People were polite and I talked gear with a couple of photographers there at the same time. I decided to try something different and not shoot the waterfalls but rather other parts of nature. I was enjoying the way the trees of the forest had been overrun with fungi and moss. Multiple people stopped to ask me just what I was taking a photo of (below). Oh, and I was using my 1DmkIII as Greg was using the 5DmkII.


 
We then headed to Maits Rest which was on the Great Ocean Road. Maits Rest was actually an interesting looking tree. This short walk concluded the walking side of our adventure. My Camera was soaked by this point. After we got home we realised the trip took us 590km.


 
Tip: When shooting landscape the best investment you can make (after a good tripod and lens) is a circular polarizing filter. This increases contrast and cuts the light from one direction. This is key when shooting trees and removing reflections. Also try using a long shutter speed when shooting flowing water. Images here ranged from 2 – 30 seconds in length. This is where a good tripod is a must. It is also better to use a 2 second self timer or remote to remove any vibrations when pressing the shutter button.
 
Cheers,
Ben
 
 


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