Normally I don’t like letting Bundy off his leash in public areas, there are a number of reasons for this but primarily I don’t want him accused of being aggressive because he is a staffy. Bundy is great with other dogs and generally ignores the noisy, over-excited ones when we go for a walk, however he does not like them trying to get amorous with him and he will tell them where to go in a not-so-polite fashion. Knowing this makes me a little anxious. My husband is completely the opposite so when we took Bundy to a dog friendly part of the beach recently he spent the majority of the time off lead, zig-zagging across the sand and running up to greet any person who walked by. There were only a few dogs around and for the most part Bundy ignored them, he is much more focused on being with us now that he is older and less inclined (thank goodness) to take off and disappear into the dunes. There was one large dog that he took a liking to, they played around on the top of a sand dune before zooming down the dune towards the water, I am shooting more in manual mode now and was too slow to capture their fun on my camera but I did get one shot, albeit incredibly contrasty (technical term 😉 ).
2014 was going to be the year for taking more photos, practicing what I’ve learned and improving my understanding of ‘manual’ mode. Not sure that I’ve succeeded on all counts but here are ten of my favourite photos from 2014, some you will have seen before.
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.
When friends come to visit it is nice to take them somewhere other than the shopping strip along the beach known as Surfers Paradise and the theme parks, two of my favourite places to go are Mt Tamborine and the Sirromet Winery. Yesterday was a little warm to be wandering around Mt Tamborine so we spent a few hours enjoying the food, wine and music at Sirromet. Queensland wines don’t have quite the same reputation as those produced down south in the Hunter Valley or Barossa Valley but don’t let that put you off, their fruity white wine and sparkling rose are nice and light for a summer afternoon of chatting with girlfriends.
The day was a typical hot and muggy Queensland summer day, thankfully the muggy didn’t eventuate into a huge storm and bucketloads of rain – we’ve had enough of that. The cellar door at Sirromet has many shaded areas, not to mention umbrellas and outdoor tables scattered around the green, we made ourselves at home near the cellar door and enjoyed a pinot gris while munching on cheese, crackers, fruit and nuts. If you’re really keen you can do a wine tour and if your budget stretches further than ours then lunch at Lurleens Restaurant is a must, the food is delicious and beautifully presented (if you’re into that sort of thing).
Every weekend the winery provides music as entertainment, it is a popular venue for hen’s parties and birthday parties and sure enough we hear a rendition of Happy Birthday sung as the band takes a break. The cheese and crackers were good, however the smell of food cooking tantalises our tastebuds and we order lunch. My friend and I can’t go past the German style Bratwurst on a bread roll, it is a huge meal and there is no way we’re going to be able to eat it without cutting up the sausage and roll. Not caring whether the wine matches our food we share a bottle of sparkling rose, bubbles are always welcome when a group of girls get together and they match our mood which is more important at the time.
I’m driving and so cannot have more than 2 drinks during our time at the winery, by 2.30pm all of us were feeling the heat and thanks to having a full belly and a drink or two, we were also a little sleepy. Sirromet is located on a hill and to one side is a lovely shaded picnic area, for us, the trees provide a great place to stretch out and cool down before getting into a hot car for the drive home. What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday: tasty food, nice wine and great company in a peaceful location.