A PHOTO FOR THE WEEK 25 NOVEMBER

Sometimes, when we look through an old album of faded photographs, there is one that stands out from the others.  We don’t always know the reason… but there is something in it that catches the eye.  This week’s photo could be such an example, except that it was taken on a grey day, only three months ago, on a trip south through The Broadwater in Northern New South Wales. As I drove along the river’s edge I was taken by the serenity of the scene and felt compelled to turn back and try to capture the mood.  The road, narrow and busy, forced me to drive some distance before I found a side road where I could make the turn.

A grey day on the river at Broadwater in NSW

The day was so dull and grey that it has made the photo almost seem like a Black and White even though it was taken in full RAW colour.  Post processing has been minimal as everything I tried to do to make it less dreary seem to spoil the effect.

As in all things in the photographic world, the image is only appreciated at the wit of the observer and each of us will have his or her own take on what they think of it. Some one once coined the phrase about the eye of the beholder and  me…..  well, I kind of like it….. I’d love to get some feed back as to what you, the critic, feel about it…. Good or bad, there is no wrong answer, so please leave a comment below…

Brunch At A Marcoola Cafe

Waking this morning with the sound of the rain on the roof of my van….. Put me into a mood to spend the day relaxing and taking some time to catch up.  Nothing in the cupboards tempted my taste buds and so here I am at the “Bulli” cafe at Marcoola Beach, just a few kilometres up the road from Maroochydore.

Taking some Me time, enjoying brunch at Bulli Cafe in Marcoola

This little backwater block of shops is not a place you would normally stumble on as you make your way along the David Low Way towards Noosa.  To get here you will need to turn off just after the northern end of the Sunshine Coast runway and head towards the beach.  Turn in by the shops and you will find it secluded but busy at this time on a Saturday morning.

The Specials Board at Bulli cafe at Marcoola Beach

I was welcomed with a friendly greeting and shown the choices from the menu, as well as offerings from the specials board.  I decided on the baguette, with avocado, cheese, tomato and bacon.  To this I added an orange juice and a short black coffee.  Total price $15.50.

Faced with a choice of inside and alfresco dining, I opted for a table just outside the door, but far enough under the awning to get protection from the drizzling rain.  The outlook gives the impression of a little beach town, almost left behind from the maddening world, with a little park and pagoda across the un-curbed street and back-dropped by low sand dunes shielding it from the coastal breezes. 


Staff providing great service at Bulli Cafe in Marcoola


I found myself looking at a fellow patron, a couple of tables over, who looked extremely familiar.  Try as I might, I could not get the brain cells to dredge up the memory of who he was, or how I knew him.  Such a frustration… so much for relaxing the mind.

The orange juice arrived first, followed closely by the short black.  With the number of people here, I had expected a bit of a wait but, within a very short time, the baguette arrived, nicely presented, and I tucked in.

My Brunch… Bacon, Avocado, Tomato and Cheese

Now baguettes are not a staple of my diet….. I don’t eat a lot of bread… but this one was definitely good.  The bacon, not so crispy that it shattered (just as I like it) but cooked enough to satisfy most tastes.  The coffee was strong, (just as it should be), and there was a refill offered not long after I had drained it.  The orange juice was…. well there isn’t a lot that you can say about orange juice… it is what it is, but in this case it was cold and refreshing.

As I sit here writing this at the cafe table, the rain is starting to fall more heavily meaning that the walk back to my truck will be wet.  This is, of course a sign that I should order another coffee and wait it out.

The group with the “guy” that has cause me so much frustration got up to go and I stopped him to ask…..Alas,  He didn’t know me..  came from Brisbane and had a brother in North Queensland who looked just like him but none of this gave me that lightbulb moment.  We parted company with me none the wiser.

Across the street, a family has become stranded in the pagoda as the rain increases intensity.  Although it is not a downpour, it is enough to make even a short dash across the street uncomfortable.


Stranded in the rain


This is November on the Coast, but today is definitely a jeans sort of day.  It is not cold, but the rain kind of makes you feel that you need just a bit more cosy-ness in your day.  Just the right sort of weather for brunching at Bulli in Marcoola

An Artists Impression

How many times do we hear the old cliche, ” a photograph never lies”.  In the digital world this is now, most surely, a myth. The image that the viewer usually sees is processed, often in the camera This means that it is a rendition of what a programmer at Canon or Panasonic believes is the best way to interpret light, contrast, and colours from the original raw data captured by the camera.

This is the original image taken from a car as we passed by her in the street. The woman in behind is kind of a distraction. This what the camera saw
With just a few strokes of my Apple Pen in an app called Photoshop Fix, the distraction has gone and there is a faint smile touching the subjects lips.

 

I guess it may be true when we look at the RAW image as it is first captured. RAW data is the light that is captured,  exactly as it falls on the camera sensor, when the shutter is pressed. There are, however, very few image viewers that will let you see these RAW images on the screen.  The ones that do are usually editing software that allow us to make a lie of the final version of the image.  We can make it darker, lighter, more contrasty, or change the way the light is represented from warm orange tones to cold blue ones. We can even substitute an unfavourable element within the scene for a nicer one that has been pirated from a completely different photo.

This being so, a big part of the photographer’s craft is in post editing.  That is what happens when the RAW image is transferred onto a computer.  To do this, the camera must be set to capture the RAW data.  Most DSLR camera’s can do this, along with an ever increasing number of compact models. In many ways the RAW image represents the old film negative, and post editing is equivilent to what the technician did in the dark room when he processed the images of the photographs we placed into our old albums and then stored them away in the cupboard.

Modern software can let us do almost anything with our digital images making a lie of the saying that a photo never lies.  This effect was achieved while processing the Raw image in Affinity for Ipad 

 

Even back in the film days, it was posible to adjust the way the light fell on a particular part of the image by a process called dodging and burning.  One made the image darker, while the other made it lighter.  This could be applied both globally or locally within the scene, depending on what was required.

 

The background of this photo is just a little bla with the uninteresting clouds and splash of blue.

 

The background of this photo was a bit bla and the people on the steps too dark and really just a bit inconsequential. Using Affinity Photo for iPad, I whitened the sky and brightened the overall scene make the people the stars of the show.

 

Modern software programs, such as Lightroom or Affinity Photo, still follow those same methods, albeit in a digital fashion. You will still find a dodge brush or a burn brush in the tool box available to the photographer.  In this, the complete art of the craft is more readily available to even the most amature of photographers.  It means that they can take a photgraph, process it on their computer and then either print it or publish it on one of many online forums such as Facebook or Instagram.  A great benefit is that the images can be stored on thumb drives and plugged into a TV or digital photo frame. This keeps the images alive, right there in the living room, instead of being hiiden away in dusty old albums that rarely see the light of day.

So what does this mean for the point and shoot photographer?  Well, nothing much.  The camera will usually produce a fine JPEG photogragh that can be printed or posted even with the limited adjustments that are availble to make it pop. However, if you want to do more, consider capturing your images in RAW format and have some fun with editing.  There are a number of programs that will allow you to do this, from the free versions to those that you buy or subscibe to.  There is a learning curve, but you will be more than happy with the better images you get as a result

What sort of images do you shoot?  RAW, or do you let the camera develop the photo for you?

What editing software do you find useful when editing?

Myall Lakes

It’s strange how we can travel a stretch of highway time and again, yet so often miss hideaways that sit just off the main roads as we hurry from one city to another.  For me, that stretch of road was on the Pacific Hiway between Sydney and Brisbane. I have travelled that road several times, but never had the chance to drop in on the beaches and bays along the way.

I had heard about a place called Bluey’s Beach, just north of Newcastle, and on my previous attempt to stop here, my travelling companion, a massive storm, forced me to keep on driving.  I now had an opportunity to take a more liesurely drive down to Sydney to deliver a car to my son.  I took a week off work and slowly made my way south.

While I had covered this distance often in a semi-trailer on an overnight run, because there were a few things I needed to fit in and it was two days before, just after dark, I drove into the little village of Tuncurry looking for a motel to stay the night.  I checked out a couple in Tuncurry and over the bridge in the twin town of Forster before continuing on down to Bluey’s Beach, some twenty kilometres south.  Here, Vodafone fails badly, and so having some internet work to do I was forced back to Tuncurry and settled on the first place I had looked at.  It was a small motel with small rooms, but big enough for me to spend the night and was well priced for a short stay.

An early morning Fisherman heads out for a day on the water
Boats moored along the edge of the river at Tuncurry
The waters edge at Tuncurry is a maize of pipes and piles where fisherman have set up business

After an early start I made my way down by the river where the early folk were going about their morning routines.  The council workers were busy cleaning and clearing after the people who has spent the last evening in the park.  There were joggers and walkers and those who just seemed out for a stroll.  The river was pristine and sparkled under the rays of the early morning sun. All in all, it was a pleasant atmosphere.

Cleaning the Barbeque
A council worker clears away the rubbish left behind by those who didn’t care
A young woman takes a brisk walk along the river path at Tuncurry

I decided a nice breakfast in the sun was in order and I crossed the bridge into Forster to hunt down a cafe in the main street.  The town centre is reached by doing a U-Turn at the first round-a-bout and then slipping down a narrow street on the left.  The street is one way with shops and cafes spilling out onto the footpath, bathing the scene with a friendly ambiance.

The Bridge between Tuncurry and Forster NSW

At this time of the morning, the narrow street was shaded and it was impossible to find a table in the sun.  I selected a cafe and settled down to choose my order.  Coffee was a given but the food selection did little for my appetite.  I finally chose pancakes and was soon served up a lovely looking dish.

Downtown Forster waits for the sun to warm the sidewalk where I got my breakfast

Sadly, that was the best it got. The first taste was dry and super sweet.  Even the syrup did little to moisten the pancake mix but I struggled through wishing I’d stayed with my usual mundane poached eggs on toast.  The coffee was nice tho, so all was not lost

While it looked tasty, even the sweet syrup couldn’t moisten the pancake dough

With no plans for the day, other than to make my way south towards Bluey’s Beach and I wandered out behind the shopping strip to where the river made its way out to the ocean.  What a tranquil scene….. the breeze, just barely kissing the water, smudged the reflections and shadows under an impossibly blue winter sky.  Such a pretty scene hidden away where so few would ever see it.

Hidden behind the strip of shops in downtown Forster lies a pristine river view

Back on the strip I checked out the shops, many of which were just opening their doors for the day’s trading.  There were stands to be wheeled onto the footpath and cobbles to be swept.  It was here I ran into a reluctant stranger.  You may recall my “100 Strangers” project where I am making a point of meeting strangers from all walks of life and writing a small piece on who they are. Well “Tracy” was my first stranger on this day.  We chatted a while and I explained my quest.  It was then that she became shy and asked to remain anonemous.  While this gave her an aura of mystery, I believe it disqualified her from the project.  We agreed on a fictitious name of Tracy and she happily allowed me to shoot a few photos of her going about the morning chores.

Tracy, A Reluctant Stranger

From Downtown Forster I headed up to the Forster Town Beach.  This beautiful stretch of sand ran out beneath the seawall towards the headland from the cafe and surf club at the northern end.  I was beginning to rue the choices I had made for my breakfast after seeing the fare available here and the veiw from the tables..  I stood and watched people being people while a whale watching boat, loaded with eager nature lovers headed out to sea in search of that plume of spray as a whale breached and gasped a breath of air.

Folk play on Town Beach as a whale watching launch heads out to get close up and personal with the passing parade of whales
The Town Beach at Forster set behind the Seawall with a sea water pool against the headland
The Cafe at Town Beach was a popular breakfast spot

 

Morning strollers along the board walk at Town Beach

My meanderings took me south to Second Head where a rocky shore mixed with the sands across the wide bay.  Standup Paddle Boarders made their way out past the out crops, maybe searching for their own inshore whale. A broad pathway wound its way along the forshore and there were more than a few out taking in the morning air.

A pair of paddle boarders make their way out to the waves off Second Head Reserve

The rocks along the bay had an almost tesselated structure, as if they had been stacked in rows, one apon another where sea birds rested and preened their feathers in the cool morning breeze.

A Cormorant takes a rest from feeding on the tessellated rocks at Second Head Reserve

The next stop at Bicentennial Park reunited me with the whale watchers, albiet these were onshore spotters who seek the elusive spray plumes through powerful binoculars before radioing the boat with directions to get them close. I wonder how long it will be before these jobs are taken over by the drones that are beginning to fill the skys these days

Spotting whales for the whale watch boats

From the road to the shore, there are boardwalks that take you through woody scrub where the air is filled with bird song and if if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of a robin or wren.

A solitary Robin pauses on the railing , before darting off into the bush in search of breakfast
Like a giant waterfall of sand this Dune is a popular spot for beach goers around Forster In NSW

One of the sites of this area is the Dune.  This massive wall of sand, falls to the sea much like a flowing waterfall, and indeed, more than a few surf this wave on boogie boards or simply just roll their way to the bottom.

The Tower Look out gave a great view of the whole coastline

At ElizabethBeach, a short but steep walk took me to the look out at the top of the headland.  Here a two storied structure provides a grand view from way north to way south.  From here the size of the dune is given its true perspective.

The size of the Dune is clearly seen from the lookout

I passed by some of the bays as the days was getting late and soon found myself on Bluey’s.  By now the wind had freshened and the onshore breeze was bringing in some larger swells from the Pacific Ocean.  There were rock buttresses here that stood firm against the waves as the tossed their spray in frustration at not being able to drive on inshore. High on the headland the tall tower of a lighthouse at Seal Rocks stood proud against the sky line.

Waves battering the rocks along the shore at Bluey’s Beach
Frothy Coffee at the boathouse on Smiths Lake

From Buey’s Beach, it is necessary to head inland around Smith’s Lake and, craving a coffee as I sometimes do, I followed a sign to Frothy Coffee on the waters edge across the bay from the Sandbar.  This hard to find gem was well worth the wrong turns I took on my way.  Broken signage provided ambiguos directions as I navigated my way through suburbia until, quite unexpectedly, I came upon a blue shed set right on the edge of the lake.  The deck was built out over the water and it was a very pleasant hour spent sipping coffee and watching the occaisional fisherman as they cruised passed on the lake.  Across the water you can see the sandbar which, is a narrow strip of sand that cuts Smiths Lake off from the sea.

A Narrow strip of sand is all that stops the waters from Smith’s Lake from joining the sea. It is just visible from the deck at Frothy Coffee
Smiths Lakefront at Frothy Coffee

From Smiths Lake I headed further south to Seal Rocks where I found a set of rocks that may well have given this place its name

Where the bay gets it’s name, I assume
The afternoon sun baths the lighthouse at Seal Rocks with a warm glow

I followed Kinka Road, past Boat Beach, to it’s end where I took to walking up the path towards the lighthouse I had seen earlier in the day from Bluey’s Beach.  The path was wide and for a time I wondered if I was headed the right way as the direction I was headed seemed to have the lighthouse over my left shoulder and falling away behind me.  Slowly the track began to swing around and soon enough the lighthouse was dead ahead again.  I was hurrying now as the signage had said the grounds closed at sunset, and the sun was getting perilously close to the horison behind me.

I passed a bunch of sugar loaf rocks, seperated from each other by deep and narrow cuttings that had been weathered away by the sea over the ages.  Behind me the sun began to burn the horison as it dipped ever so slowly towards night.  I hurried on and arrived at the precinct with the shadows casting long and low, but the lighthouse, sitting atop the headland, was still bathed in the soft evening light.  Ahead of me was a steep path with a few steps to ease the way.  It was a breathless climb. With time running out, I was determined to get some sunsets shots before they closed the facility.

The steep path that leads to the Lighthouse

I stayed at the top, watching the light slowly fade as the sun cast it’s final rays of the day across the land.  I was joined by a group of backpackers who climbed the stairs around the lighthouse tower to get a better view.  Finally, the light gave way to darkness and we all trooped back down to the buildings below.

The old keepers quarters have been renovated to be able to take overnight tourists.  My back packing companions, it seemed, would be staying here this night and so I set off along the dark pathway, retracing my steps to my car.

The old Keepers accomodation has been renovated into motel rooms for overnight stays
The sun below the horizon seems to set the clouds on fire as the day slowly turns into night

It had been a long day and I made my way back out to the main road to look for a place to rest my head for the night.  The next day would take me into Sydney where I would meet up with my son and deliver his car before flying back to the Sunshine Coast and the grindstone that earns my daily bread…Ah well….