Early Autumn is a great time for spending a day at the beach, it is still quite hot with temperatures between 28-34 degrees celsius and we’ve had a couple of mini-heatwaves this March. Yamba is a beach town in Northern New South Wales on Australia’s east coast, a pretty spot and extremely popular during the holiday period. We had never been to Yamba, with time to spare and the weather in our favour we packed up the car and the smallest of our black dogs and headed south.
Hubby likes an early start so we were in Yamba in time for breakfast, a tasty meal of bacon and eggs on turkish bread overlooking the beach and headlands. The surf was what my husband calls messy, it didn’t stop the surfers from heading out into the water and there were plenty of people out walking their dogs and having an early morning swim. In search of a dog friendly beach we drove to the southern end of Yamba and came across Pippi Beach, a long stretch of sand and seemingly very popular with dog lovers. Dogs of all shapes and sizes were coming to and from the beach, Bundy would have loved to have said hello to all of them but not everyone loves an exuberant Staffy.
Once on the beach Bundy found stinky stuff to roll in, wet sand to dig up and he had a ball running in and out of the small waves. Bundy’s recall isn’t 100% especially when he sees children and other dogs, thankfully with hubby in the surf Bundy was more interested in keeping close by so he could watch for his Dad. There was one little dog, a honey coloured staffy cross, he looked as though he was still quite young and he was full of energy. That little dog ran up and down the beach chasing seagulls, his two legged siblings had a difficult time keeping up and every now and then his Dad would let out a big whistle to stop him from disappearing further down the beach. Bundy ran in circles with the honey coloured staffy, in and out of the water, stopping occasionally to check on us and possibly to have a bit of a rest.
All the activity wore Bundy out, the ride home was a good opportunity for him to have a snooze and snooze he did, I swear I even heard him snore.
A great spot for a picnic breakfast overlooking the beach at Yamba
One of my favourite Christmas presents was a gift voucher for an evening photography class with BlueDog Photography, it entailed spending a couple of hours on the beach at dusk with a small group of 4 photographers and 1 instructor, each of us capturing different perspectives of our surrounds as the sun set. Being the least experienced (the rest of the group already working primarily in manual mode) my intention was to learn more about the technical aspects of low light photography, how to balance the exposure during a sunset and capture a shot of the city at night without upping the ISO and losing colour.
Tripod in hand I clambered over rocks and set up in the sand, my tripod is very light and easy to carry but I learned that it wasn’t really sturdy enough to cope with my camera and the 300m zoom lens and it wobbled a little, regardless I found a spot and set about taking photos of the surf, skyline and seagulls. With such a small group, it was close to having one-on-one tuition and our instructor encouraged me to experiment with slower shutter speeds and white balance to create different effects, the slow shutter speed was great for photographing the water washing over the rocks, not so good with seagulls who have a tendency to move as they keep a watchful eye out for food. One of the most useful tools a photographer has for changing the perspective and getting creative is their feet, not content with staying in one spot I moved around a little, wary of soft sand and water creeping in as the waves rolled over the rocks. I have to admit, I struggled with composition a little and my photos all look very similar, in the end I didn’t worry so much and instead focused on the effects I could get experimenting with shutter speed and white balance.
What did I learn?
A cable or wireless remote is essential for avoiding the wobbles and getting a sharp image (don’t leave it behind)
Take a torch, it is useful for changing the settings on your camera in the dark
Adjusting the white balance to ‘cloudy’ provides a cool effect to a night time shot of a city skyline
You don’t have to up the ISO to get a great night time shot if you have a tripod and a remote
Focus on what it is you want to get out of the activity
I must get a more sturdy tripod
Overall it was a fun evening, and I got a few shots that I was happy with even though a couple of them could be a little sharper, doing these types of classes really does encourage me to get out and about a little more and experiment with my photography – just have to choose my next location (within driving distance) and go.
Waiting for the sun to set
Watching the light change as the sun sets
Colours of dusk
Surfers Paradise, where high rise buildings tower over the beach.
Burleigh at dusk
Surfers Paradise at night
Slowing down the shutter speed to get the dreamy effect of water washing over the rocks
This morning we are up early, before the sun rises and long before our two black doggies usually get out of bed. Outside the air is cool, inside the aroma of freshly brewed coffee motivates me to get moving and get dressed for a trip to the beach. You may well wonder why anyone would want to go to the beach while it is cold and dark, but with a beautiful day forecast we know the temperature will rise and it is a perfect time to practice my photography and capture a sunrise. Eventually excitement reaches the dogs and they happily sit on the back seat of the car with tongues out and the drool slowing dripping onto the console and window sill of the door. As we cross the bridge that takes us towards the beach they start to fidget as familiar smells and sounds reach them, both are itching to stretch their legs on the sand, splash about in the waves and maybe roll in something dead and smelly.
I set up my tripod in a couple of different spots, clicking away madly whilst the dogs take turns dashing across the sand, retrieving sticks and balls for my husband. Soon Maxi joins me for a rest, at her age there is less dashing and more strolling, she still loves to paddle in the surf and can never resist digging holes in the soft sand. Only one other photographer has joined me on the beach, we aren’t at the most picturesque spot on the coast nor the most popular place for surfing so for many there is probably no reason to venture onto the sand, camera in hand, but for me and our little family it is the perfect place.
Looking back I realise that I should have focused more on the clouds as the rays of sunlight peeked through, experimenting with capturing the motion of the waves and the reflections distracted me yet I am happy with these few images that I am sharing with you and hope that you will be too.
Thank you to everyone who liked my shots of the Swell Sculpture Festival in previous posts: series one and series two, I now present the final series of photographs from the festival and I hope that you’ll like them as much as the earlier images.
A familiar sight on surf beaches all around the world, this piece of work attracted alot of attention and it had me wondering how they managed to keep the towels in position overnight.
Bundy loves attending the Swell Sculpture Festival, not only does he get to ride in the car and go for a paddle in the surf, he also gets to pose with the sculptures and assist with providing a sense of scale to the artwork.
This really didn’t look out of place on the beach, the large rock close to the horizon is known as ‘Elephant Rock’ and you can see the high rise landscape of Surfers Paradise in the background.
There is always a nautilus shell featured in the exhibition.
Water tanks are normally pretty plain and boring, you will find one in most Aussie backyards but they certainly don’t look like this and I can’t imagine that it would hold much water anyway.
I’m guessing the motion of waves inspired this sculpture (no I didn’t read the exhibition program), those made by water and by humans.
Like many native species, the tiger and koala are struggling to stay alive in our constantly changing environment. In Australia, Tiger conservation is a highly promoted and supported, however our native Koala which is in danger of disappearing from our region as a result of growth in development and traffic, has only recently been acknowledge as being in danger by our government. It is shameful that the majority of the Australian population take this beautiful creature for granted, its plight has become ‘invisible’.
A daylight shot of the giant mosquito featured in series one, this thing is huge!
The Swell Sculpture festival is on again and I plan on cruising down the Currumbin esplanade sometime this weekend to view and photograph the amazing sculptures on display in the open air. Today I want to share some of my favourite Swell sculptures from the last few years.
The Swell Sculpture Festival is held each year in September, this year is the 9th year of the event and I always try to spend a couple of hours meandering through the art, dodging other onlookers and feeling the sand between my toes. The art is free to see, the backdrop is the blue sky and white sand of Currumbin beach on the southern end of the Gold Coast in Queensland. You can buy programmes, vote for your favourite sculpture or just sit in a cafe across the road and enjoy the view.
For the last two years we have used the event as a day out with the dogs, last year we went in the afternoon which meant it was cooler for two black dogs and the changing light as the sun set enhanced the sculptures. This year it was mid-morning, no dogs because it was much too hot and on a beautiful Sunday we knew that there would be too many people about and navigating with dogs the size of ours can be difficult in a crowd. Parking was not free, for $5 we parked in the car park of a the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, the money going to a good cause and we were guaranteed a place to park.
The range of sculptures is always fascinating and after a few years attending the event you can identify the particular style or medium used by an artist: metal, resin, timber, stone, plaster or clay. The sculptures are usually lined up along the esplanade with only a couple located on the beach however this year there were many more on the beach and I particular liked the green polar bear and reflective sculpture, they do have proper titles but I was stingy and didn’t buy a programme. The heat coming off the sand and the glare of the sun on some sculptures proved too bright in some instances, we stood in the cool water watching as the waves rolled in, the water splashing our legs cooling us instantly and the ocean breeze certainly helped as well.
In the end the heat was too much for us and it was getting close to lunch time, the soft serve ice-cream we bought from a lovely lady in an ice cream van was delicious but we craved real food and some air conditioned comfort. Next year I think we’ll venture down in the afternoon, being the 10th anniversary of the event I imagine that there will be some spectacular displays and celebrations.