11 December 2013


I recently watched David duChemin's workshop The Created Image Video Series, Vol 1. which got me thinking again about my approach to photography. It's easy to settle into a rut, but this great video helped me get thinking again about what I'm doing when I take photographs. What I loved about the workshop was that it focused on the thinking, design, and intention of taking photographs, not the technical aspects. After all, the tools (camera, editing software, lenses, exposure settings) are only things I use to create an image that reflects my vision and feelings.
I love David's teaching style and his approach to photography. I strongly recommend his materials (books and videos).

As a result of this I visited Bronte Beach a number of times aiming to be more self-conscious of what "grabs" me when I'm taking photos. Here are my favourites:
Sunlight and clouds, Bronte
This next one is in black and white, which is unusual for me. David duChemin encourages people to always look at black and white versions of their photos and is a firm believer that shooting black and white improves your photographic skill. I'm not convinced because, for me, colour is such a big part of what I like in photographs.
However, I did see one of Ansel Adam's images at an exhibition of his work recently that was very similar to this. I loved Adam's image so I tried a black and white version and, to be honest, in this case it actually works better than colour.
Cut ripples - BnW, Bronte
Waves 2, Bronte

You can find them in the Nature/Coastal gallery, or, as always in the Recent gallery (for a few months only).

14 November 2013

Lake Hawthorn, Mildura

Mildura sits on the banks of the Murray River, but less well know is that there's also a lake there. I discovered Lake Hawthorn the previous time I was in Mildura. This time I spent an evening and a morning there hoping for some "interesting" weather.
The "interesting" weather never eventuated, but there were good photo opportunities. I worked out on paper (OK, I did it on my phone!) where I needed to be to make sure the sun was across the lake from me at sunset and sunrise. I had a bit of a walk for the evening shots since the road, despite what is shown on the map, wasn't accessible by car. I'm not good at navigating and I walked further than necessary because the lake I could see turned out to be Lake Ranfurly - not a lake at all, just a mudflat. I was a bit hot and bothered after trudging through the scrub with all my photography gear by the time I got where I wanted to be.
There were lots of dead tree trunks sitting in the mud which got me interested. The setting sun peeked under the remaining cloud cover and side-lighted the dead trees creating wonderful lighting and great colour contrast (yellow light, blue clouds).
Mudflat tree trunks, Mildura
By the time I got back to the car I was exhausted from all the walking and standing taking photos. I was a relief to crash into bed in preparation for an early rise to take more photos of the lake.

There were the remains of an old jetty at the location I'd chosen for the morning photos. The long exposures needed this early in the morning (about half an hour before sunrise) makes the water surface beautifully smooth.
Two posts at dawn, Mildura
A bit later on, the light is much brighter and there are some clouds in the sky. The clouds pick up a bright pink colour from the rising sun, which is still below the horizon.
Old jetty posts V, Mildura
From now on, Mildura will be associated for me with the beauty of Lake Hawthorn rather than the Murray River.
You can see a few more photos of the lake in the Water's Edge gallery.

I was in Mildura on a trip to visit family in South Australia. You can see the other images from the trip in the Recent gallery.

29 October 2013


I make a deliberate choice to not photograph flowers for a couple of reasons: there are many other people (such as Ronald Balthazor) who do an excellent job of creating wonderful images of flowers, and I prefer the challenge of looking for beauty in the everyday. But I've had to make a small deviation from my normal policy.
We have this scraggly looking rose bush in our front garden which I walk past every day. Every so often it puts out beautiful little flowers. As I went past yesterday I saw one with its pink petals against the grey of our concrete porch and I just had to take a photo of it. So here's one of my rare flower images.
Rose on grey, Blacktown
You'll find it in the Nature/Blacktown gallery.

28 October 2013

What a fortnight!

The last two weeks have been a very creative time. I've taken 800 photos, which is quite a lot for me. I kept 26 of these, which is about my usual ratio of 1 in 30 - yes, I'm ruthless in deleting photos that don't make my final cut.

Darling Harbour revisited

With my new interest in spots and impressions, I decided to visit Darling Harbour in Sydney as this place has lots of colour and lights. I liked it so much, that I went there twice in one week. I love the night lights as they create such a wealth of spot image opportunities. This one is one of my favourites:
Darling Harbour SP07, Sydney
Just for comparison, here's what the in-focus version of the same shot looks like:
Darling Harbour SP07 as is, Sydney

Parramatta Park

Jacarandas are out in full bloom at the moment and there's quite a few of them in Parramatta Park. I find that these colourful trees normally need a contrasting colour (preferably red or yellow) to make the image interesting. But with an impressionistic approach, it's a lot easier to get the colour contrast because the details aren't significant. A photo of blossoms on the ground isn't particularly inspiring, but it does create this amazing soft blurred image:
Jacaranda IM 03, Parramatta

Illawarra region

The coastal region from Sydney south to Wollongong is very beautiful with some classic scenic views.
Illawarra view, Stanwell Tops
I also love the feel of summer in this impressionistic image:
Beach IM01, Wombarra


The last two weeks has also been a period of destructive bush fires in and around the greater Sydney region. The very smoky skies give sunset an eerie colour and make the sun an angry red ball.
Here are three very different images of the impact of bush fires.
Burnt V, Wilton
Burnt IM01, Wilton
Smoky sunset, Sydney

You can see all the photos in the Other/Spots, Other/Impressions, Other/City, and Nature/Coastal galleries or see them all in the Recent gallery.

16 October 2013


I was watching the BBC's The Secret World of Pain (2011) [aside: worth watching - it's available on YouTube here http://youtu.be/utOuf3grM1s] and really liked some of the images used during voice-overs. Here are two examples:
© BBC 2011

© BBC 2011
I'm fascinated by these sort of abstract images and I started thinking about how to create some of my own. I know that out-of-focus lights create circles of light (also called "bokeh") and decided I'd try it out. I went into Sydney - Oxford Street, to be more precise - since I knew there would be lots of coloured lights there.
I took a whole lot of photos and didn't keep any of them because, as I discovered later, hand-holding the camera blurs the circles too much.

But now I knew what I was looking for and I took some more photos of cars at traffic lights in Blacktown, but this time I used the tripod. Here's an example of one of the images I ended up with.
Reservoir SP06, Blacktown
I plan to try this out in other places and see what other interesting things I can find. In the meantime, you can see more circle or spot images in Others/Spots.

But there's more!
I started taking photos during my visit to Oxford St before it was dark and took photos of other colourful things, just not lights. To my delight, these produced wonderfully soft, colourful, and above all, interesting images. They remind me of impressionistic paintings, except these images don't actually show you the actual objects. So these types of images is something else I want to play around with more in future (see Others/Impressions).
Oxford IM04, Syndey
I know that these images are not everybody's cup of tea, so I'll close with one of the Harbour Bridge at sunrise. I was hoping for a colourful dawn sky, but the clouds and sun didn't manage to get their act together.
Morning bright, Balmain

03 October 2013

New look-and-feel

SmugMug, the site that hosts Gracious-Light.com, has recently upgraded their site to provide a new look-and-feel. I think they've done a wonderful job and I hope you like the changes too.

Let me know via the Contact form (at the bottom of each page on Gracious-Light.com) if you have any issues or comments..

Lithgow and other places

In my previous post I mentioned that it had been a long time since I had written a post. Well, this time it's been even longer - 15 months! But it's nice to have taken some new photos and to share them with you.


I spent a week at Lithgow, which is only about one and a half hours from Sydney. That's far enough to just get over the Blue Mountains, yet far enough to feel that you are out in the country. Since this was towards the end of winter, there were a few foggy mornings. I love fog, especially if you can still get the sunlight shining through. You then get some warmth from the sunlight and the isolation of subjects from the fog.
This image was taken late in the morning out at Bathurst (another hour west from Lithgow). I liked the background colours and the softness created by the fog.
Morning fog, Bathurst
See the Nature/West (of Sydney gallery for the other pictures from this trip.


This is my overnight stop when I visit family in South Australia. I came across this small lake (Lake Hawthorn) on the outskirts of town with some interesting reeds on its shores. These are great for creating nice shapes silhouetted against the bright water. This next image reminds me of banners fluttering in the wind.
Reed flags, Mildura
See Nature/Water's Edge and Nature/Victor Harbor for more images from the trip.


Dawn and dusk are my favourite times in Sydney. You get wonderful views of the city against the near-dark sky. But this time of day also creates some unusual pink sky conditions, which allowed me to take this fantastic view of the city. Don't you just love the contrasting lines (vertical buildings, horizontal ripples)?
Dawn-pink, Mosman
See Other/City for additional views of this great city.

You can see all the new photos in one place in the Recent gallery.