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 😉 ).
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.
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.
A wedding on the Sunshine Coast gave us the perfect opportunity to spend a weekend in the coastal town of Caloundra, about one and a half hours north of Brisbane. The wedding was held on the headlands, thankfully there was no rain but the ocean breeze made things a little interesting for the bride and her veil which had to be held by the bridesmaids throughout the ceremony. It was a beautiful wedding and a fun evening of celebration with the usual dancing and champagne, still, we managed to be up early for a walk along the beach even though the hours of sleep were few.
Caloundra has made the early morning walk easy, where there is no sand to walk on you can walk along the footpath and a boardwalk makes navigating rocky heads much easier. Serious photographers (not me) were out with their super duper zoom lens’ and tripods, I settled for minimum baggage and more often than not, tilted horizons which were easy enough to fix on the computer 🙂
Despite the beautiful sunshine, at 7am it was still quite cool with a slight breeze coming off the beach and much of the path still in shadow. Dog walkers, joggers and surfers were already in action, at one point we just stood in the sun watching the waves role in and loving the fact that we had made the effort to get out of bed.
As we walked back towards the centre of town and the plethora of cafes open early for all the tourists and locals who like to get their morning caffeine fix we saw several very cool cars parked near the BBQ area. Not sure whether this was a usual haunt for car aficionados or a stop for car loving friends out on a day trip, but I couldn’t resist taking a photo. Don’t ask me what sort of cars they are, cars are not my thing so feel free to leave a comment telling me what they are if cars are your thing.
We stayed at the Oaks Oasis, a nice hotel however, eating in the hotel restaurant when there were so many lovely little cafes by the beach seemed a bit silly. We dodged the cafe where all the cyclists were meeting because who wants to be surrounded by sweaty, smelly men in lycra, and chose a small, but busy cafe not far from the water. Hubby and I love Merlo coffee and we could spot the big blue Merlo banners and umbrellas from a mile off, the bonus was the extensive range of delicious sounding options on the breakfast menu and there was no resisting the Eggs Benedict with bacon.
Another weekend over and we’re just that little bit closer to Christmas and the dawning of a near year. I was looking forward to a quiet weekend at home before launching into preparing for Christmas with my family, but my husband had other ideas, thanks to his work, we were lucky enough to be included in the 4 ASD Kids charity weekend at the Salt Mantra resort at Kingscliff. I could talk about the great work that the charity undertakes in assisting families and children with autism, but you’re better off reading the information on their website, 4 ASD Kids.
Apart from getting sunburned lying around the pool and drinking far too much alcohol on the Saturday night it was an enjoyable weekend, our room had an ocean view and we could watch and listen to the waves crashing on the shore. The Special Olympics Dancers performed on Saturday night at the Gala event, they were wonderful and received standing ovations, on Sunday they were the most active and enthusiastic participants on the beach volleyball court.
The Kingscliff area is a beautiful part of Northern New South Wales and not far from the border separating the state from Queensland, the beaches seem to go for miles and there are many popular spots for enjoying a picnic or barbeque. The cafes that line the esplanade offer hungry visitors a variety of tasty treats ranging from freshly baked cakes and pies to Thai food and Salt and Pepper Calamari. The lighthouse at Fingal Head is also worth visiting, at the edge of the cliff you can see the huge beach or look in the other direction at the columnar-jointed basalt called the Giant’s Causeway.