my (amateur) photography adventure


long exposure

Sydney – Night Long Exposures

Night long exposures taken at the Rocks (near the Overseas Passenger Terminal) in Sydney.  Both of these really appeal to me because they are clear and sharp, but also contain some movement.  Taking some pics was a great way to break up the pretty full-on business trip.

The swirls in the sky above the bridge are something (bats, I think) swarming around the bridge lights. 6s exposure.

The strong lines to the left of the Opera House are 5s of a ferry, outbound from Circular Quay, crossing through the shot.

Both shot with the assistance of my fabulously portable Joby GorillaPod (SLR-Zoom) which was all I could fit in my luggage for the short trip.

[click either pic for fullsize]


Night Eyes, part 2

Things just look different at night.

Brisbane River from South Bank, by night

Night Eyes part 1

Kings Beach Rocks

I may have become slightly obsessed with low light long exposures.  I blame Jeremy :)

I enjoyed the different looks of these two photos so much that I didn’t want to separate them.

Both are ISO100, 18mm.  Left photo is f/3.5, 6s and right is f/8.0, 30s.

These photos were taken on a productive day which also yielded these blog posts:

Wave Action

Wickham Point

I am getting away for a break soon, so will have some new scenery to inflict on you shortly :)

Point Cartwright

Above: Mooloolaba Skyline, from Point Cartwright, ISO100, 22mm, f/14, 79s + exp comp.

Another great night walk & long exposure shoot with my equally photography mad sister, at Point Cartwright.

Surf at Point Cartwright, 2s exposure
Pine trees silhouetted by the last light of the day, 30s exposure, with a bit of iPhone torch in the foreground.

Dusk at Alex Heads

It’s so nice to get an occasional day off.  These long exposure shots were taken at dusk at Alexandra Headland, at a little beach accessed from the headland.  A lovely way to spend an hour with my sister S and Miss Eight.

[click any picture for fullsize]

Beach at Night

Above: Waves breaking on the rocks beside the boardwalk, Kings Beach.  ISO800, 18mm, f/13, 129s

Long exposure experiments on a dark beach and boardwalk at Kings Beach, Caloundra.

Footprints, Kings Beach, ISO200, 18mm, f/3.5, 15s
Boardwalk railing, Kings Beach, ISO800, 18mm, f/13, 124s

McLean Falls (NZ South – The Catlins – Part 2)

Photos from the beautiful McLean Falls walk, taken on a showery August day.

These photos illustrate the cool rainforest sub-climate of the Catlins area perfectly.  Consider that there was snow down to sea-level in the Catlins one week after these photos were taken, and you’ll see how unusual this area is!

My wife and kids were unwilling to get out of the car to do this walk in the rain (admittedly it was about 6 degrees C and windy), so I did the whole walk in about 35 wet minutes.

[click any photo for fullsize slideshow]

Other posts from our fantastic NZ South holiday are here:

Light Stencils

Light stencils – long exposure, 72s.

It’s been a rainy Saturday afternoon and evening, which ruined my plans to shoot another ‘Long Exposure’ picture as I had planned.

So, I convinced the kids to give me a hand to try out a long exposure technique which I saw on F-stoppers – one which you can do indoors despite the rain!

You start with a shoebox and an off-camera flash.  I have this old Speedlite 300EZ, from my old film SLR (which unfortunately has shutter-stick problems now).  I can’t get the 300EZ to work properly with my 60D but it will be great for this.

Cut a fairly tight-fitting hole for the flash head to fit:

Next, line the box with a reflective surface.  I used leftover metallic gold cardboard from a previous craft project.  Remember that due to the inverse square rule, light intensity at the far end of the box will fall off quickly – this is why I have angled the reflector to try to equalise the total flash-head-to-stencil distance as much as possible (otherwise one end of the stencil would be much brighter than the other).

Aluminium foil works too – I used it in the box for the other stencil.  You obviously get a different sort of colour from the gold or from the alfoil. Cut a hole in the lid of the shoebox.  Do a neater job than I did, it shouldn’t be hard :P.  Get a piece of dark cardboard (preferably one which is not mangled like the one below – hey, I was working with what I had available!

Alternatively, you can cut directly into the box lid, but it’s harder to cut neatly since it’s thicker.

Cut out your preferred stencil shape.  Clearly my artistic ability is limited to photography :).  No doubt you will do a better job than this dodgy butterfly.

 Assemble as above with a couple of layers of cellophane of your preferred colour.

Tip: Unlike me, you should cut the shape in the middle of the card.  D’oh!

Assemble (patching your mistakes as necessary).  Cover any holes in the shoebox with dark card and tape the box seams.  You could also paint the box black but it’s probably unnecessary depending on the ambient light where you will be shooting.  This blue tissue paper was stuck behind the cellophane to change the red colour a bit and damp the flash.

After a bit more testing I stuck an additional piece of normal A4 printer paper behind all of that to damp the flash further.

Set up your camera on a tripod in a low light area.  I also used an 8-stop ND filter because it was still afternoon, so I needed to use Live View to compose and focus.

Using Bulb mode – trigger the shutter.  Fire the flash in the stencil box in your target focus zone.  Switch stencils – repeat.  Close the shutter.  Look at the back of the camera to see whether you have triumph, disaster, or (like me) something in between :).

Here are the results of my first proper attempt, after a few test shots (settings: ISO100, 18mm, f/7.1, 50s, 8-stop ND filter).

First attempt

Just to be clear – this is one exposure – no Photoshopping or merging images etc.  You can’t see my assistant Miss Eight who is holding and firing the flash in the stencil box because she is moving, and there is insufficient light on her for her to register on the sensor. Actually, if you look at the right-most flower, you can see her long hair getting across the front of the stencil while the flash is firing :).  The flash has fired 8 times in that exposure – 4 times in the flower stencil box and 4 times in the butterfly stencil box (which had a much worse light leak problem).

There is an obvious problem with this picture – the white vertical lines.  These are light leaks from the hole around the flash head – even though the hole is quite tight-fitting, it’s not tight enough to stop this.

I fixed this (mostly) with some black plastic garbage bag around the flash head hole – a bit awkward, but it did the trick. (I still had a light leak – much smaller – but I ‘healed’ it in Lightroom for the final print).

Also, the shot looked a bit ’empty’ to me so I added a green-cellophane torch waved on the rear wall (at the end of the shot, after Miss Eight had fired the flash off ten times and exited the frame).  Here’s the final result:

The final product – ISO100, 18mm, f/7.1, 72s exposure, 8-stop ND filter

I used Lightroom 4 to increase the exposure slightly, play with black levels a bit, and to fix the light leaks (most of them – you can still spot one) with a spot removal brush.

This will be my second photo for the Nick Exposed / Seeing Spots Photo Long Exposure collaboration :).  The girls had fun (most of the time) and made their own ‘versions’ of the shot – and I hope to have some improved versions of this kind of shot in future now that I have ‘proven the concept’.

Wickham Point

Taken at the headland between Kings and Shelley Beach, Caloundra (aka Wickham Point).

The featured picture above (2s exposure using an ND filter, virtually SOOC) is also one of my pictures for the Nick Exposed / Seeing Spots Photography “Long Exposure” collaboration.

Bath time

Night Eyes


Night walk from South Bank across the Brisbane River.

Paniyiri Greek Festival in the city – Reddacliff Place

The Wheel of Brisbane

The Wheel of Brisbane is located in the Cultural Centre Forecourt, at South Bank, Brisbane.  It was a fun subject for some Friday night photography – popular too – I spotted at least 5 other keen photographers doing something similar to what I was doing.

Reflection, The Wheel of Brisbane
Brisbane Skyline – Treasury building at the left, The Wheel of Brisbane in foreground.
ISO 100, 36mm, f/29, 30s

My new tripod got a good workout, as you can see.  I am glad I decided to buy the taller and heavier one – so long as I’m dragging any tripod around, I don’t really mind how heavy it is, and it’s nice to be able to put my eye to the viewfinder properly on the tall ‘pod.

The Arbour, from Cultural Centre Forecourt, South Bank, Brisbane
ISO 100, 67mm, f/5.6, 4s

There was a guy standing beside me when I took this next one – he had his tripod, a 5D (I think) on the tripod, and a spare 60D for ‘snapshots’.  I’m not envious…. much….

The Wheel of Brisbane, looking towards South Bank.
ISO100, 18mm, f/22, 13s

I’d just like to acknowledge my inspiration for this next shot, which was a shot taken by Francois Lourette, another keen amateur photographer, who blogs as Almates.  I wouldn’t have thought to try such a shot, until I saw his.  You can see his ‘flags’ shot here: Long Exposure Ottawa.

Annie flags, Cultural Centre Forecourt, South Bank Brisbane. Victoria and Kurilpa Bridges in the background.
ISO100, 45mm, f/8, 15s.

I have previously posted about Kurilpa Bridge, here. So, obviously, my “What am I?” pictures from last night were detail shots of the Wheel of Brisbane.  The combined shots are below.

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I hope you enjoyed the pictures – I had fun taking them and was pretty happy with how they turned out.  I got some reasonable skyline / river shots as well – a post for another day!

If you’re interested in visiting or riding on the Wheel – its website is here:

What am I?

Friday Night Lights – what am I?

Hungry Robot?

More pictures later.

The Arbour – Southbank – Friday Night

Brisbane – Australia’s new bus city

Brisbane City Council has been building buses just about as fast as they can over the past few years.  They’ve just delivered 500 new buses and the lord mayoral candidates have promised 360 more.  Where will they all go?

While on the topic of transport – some people seem to prefer theirs more personalised…


Moonlight in the Garden

Moonlight in the Garden
ISO100, 18mm, f/3.5, 105s

Taken in the Buderim Studio with only moonlight as a light source.  I took shots at varying exposure lengths – this one was 105s (thanks to my trusty GorillaPod SLR-Zoom), and I have still brightened it by nearly one full stop in Lightroom afterwards

The shot below involves a bit of extra experimentation – a 48s exposure which included me lighting the scene with a torch which I basically waved around on the subject from behind the camera.  Included just for fun :).

Moonlight in the Garden
ISO100, 18mm, f/3.5, 48s with added artificial light

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