25 April 2011

Adelaide Trip

I drove down to Adelaide - actually, it was Victor Harbor but with a stop-over in Adelaide - to visit family. I just love the solitude and peacefulness of long distance driving. I would far rather have the pleasure of driving thousands of kilometres on my own than catching a plane.

Hay Plains

I decided to break the journey at Mildura, just across the border in Victoria. It's 1,000 km from Sydney and I wanted to see, again, if I could do it on one tank of fuel. I came awfully close, but the lack of petrol stations between Eunston (the last town before Mildura) meant that I wasn't prepared to risk running out just before getting to Mildura. So I filled up after 950km.
Clouds, Hay
I won't pretend that the drive is inspiring - it isn't. The road is flat for more than 700 km (Wagga Wagga in NSW to Renmark in South Australia). But you do get lots of sky.

Overtaking is a breeze on this road. You just keep travelling at your normal speed, move over to the other side of the road and wait until you are past the slower car before pulling over again. You have lots of time to do this and can see oncoming traffic for miles before they get to you.

Mildura

The border between New South Wales and Victoria follows the Murray River. I discovered that the Ranfurly Bend, just a couple of clicks (kms) out of Mildura is a good spot for taking photos of sunrise on the river. Reviewing some of the photos I took the next morning, I realised that I wanted to get one of the river gums standing out against the dark background. I had to wait until my return trip to get the photo I wanted. I love the moodiness of the lighter tree trunks against the shadowy darkness.
Murray Gums 2, Mildura

Victor Harbor

I staid the next night in Adelaide at my niece's place. I also dropped in on my nephew and we talked photography (he has a Canon 7D and I'm jealous). His wife patiently put up with us talking shop - he takes great portraits (see the links on his blog). My niece and I went out for dinner at Semaphore and walked on the wonderfully long pier, saw dolphins, a pelican close up, and a full moon rising just as the sun set. And I didn't take any photos - it's sometimes best to just enjoy the beauty without trying to capture it!

I spent the next three days in Victor Harbor with my mother, sister, and brother-in-law. Victor Harbor is a beautiful place. It's right on the water, with a harbour surrounded by hills, a headland where you can see both sunrise and sunset, and islands in the harbour.

I never got to take any sunset photos, but sunrise on one of the mornings was just to my liking. I was captivated by the bright reflection off the water with Granite Island in the background.
Gold Granite Island, Victor Harbor

Home Again

I then did the trip in reverse. The weather was great for driving, but not that good for photos. I was hoping to take some of the trees standing in the Murray River at Renmark, but the grey overcast sky put paid to that.

I also had a late start the next day from Mildura as I was up taking photos of the trees at dawn (the one I showed you above). But this meant I was in Goulburn for dinner (McDonalds) and sunset. The combination of some light cloud and contrails (condensation trails from jets) created an interesting image.
Pink Streaks, Goulburn
I arrived home 8 days after I left, having done over 3,000 km. You can catch all the photos in the South West Plains and Victor Harbor galleries (or just browse the Recent gallery).

03 April 2011

Mt Victoria Sunset

I went for a drive out to Mt Wilson last weekend. It's a little town in the Blue Mountains and is famous for wonderful autumn colours. Unlike the rest of the Blue Mountains, which generally has gum trees, Mt Wilson has lots of trees that change colour during autumn (or "fall" for you Americans). I go up there on a regular basis during autumn to see if the colours have changed and this trip was my first visit this year.

Because we haven't had any cold snaps yet, the colours were still mainly green. But it was nice to go for a drive.

On my way home via Mt Victoria, a place I love for the the two small coffee shops, I realised that there might be a very interesting sunset. There had been heavy, dark storm clouds all day but, out to the west, there was a small gap in the clouds just above the horizon.

As I drove along the Darling Causeway - the road you take when driving between Mt Vic to Mt Wilson - I kept looking for good viewing spots. Even though the road runs along a ridge, you'd be surprised how few places there are with a clear look out west. I eventually found a place near to Mt Victoria.

I quickly set up my tripod and started taking photos. I started using my 70-200 mm telephoto lens but, because the gap in the clouds was quite narrow, I then added the 2x teleconverter. The sunset turned out to be stunning and the quality of the light quickly changed as the sun dropped from the edge of the cloud cover down over the horizon. I was really excited about the photos I was getting and couldn't wait to get home to see them on the large screen.

I ended up keeping four (out of 75) images, which is about normal for me. I had troubles with editing two of the photos. I kept changing my mind as to what I wanted from them and it's taken me all week to finally settle on the look I liked best.

This is my favourite image and the one that's caused me most grief in terms of editing. I needed a balance between the softness of the sidelight and still bring out the stunning colours. It took me a while to get the colours right (too saturated and you lose the soft feeling, not enough saturation and it looks washed out).
Sidelight, Mt Victoria

My other favourite (I have difficulty choosing between it and Sidelight) is this one. I hardly had to do any editing on it.
Gold, Mt Victoria

You can catch all of them in the Blue Mountains gallery.