up, up, away

Remember when I said I love Sydney? Well I'm quite chuffed because this weekend I'm off to the unofficial Aussie capital again for a little pre-Christmas sojourn.

This aerial shot is not of Sydney, but I took it the last time I was on a plane. The scene depicts the Gold Coast, which I flew into and over when I experienced some splendour in the grass earlier this year.

On my last visit to Sydney - which was in fact exactly one year ago - I ran amok in the intoxicatingly vibrant Kings Cross, reconnected with my inner bohemian at the Glebe market, did the tourist thing at the House and the Bridge, spotted Kanye (complete with heavy-set entourage) on the streets of the CBD and pretended I was a rich person at The Rocks. All of which with my very adventurous sister in tow. Here she is walking down one of the many streets in Sydney that exist to me only as a memory rather than a definable location:

This time around I intend to laze in the Botanical Gardens, get all cultured at some (hopefully free) galleries, take trains and buses and legs on the trek out to Bondi, hang out with the ultra-cool indie kids at Oxford St and lose my shit at the Lomo store in Paddington. Most of the time, I imagine, this guy will be my worthy companion:

Oh, and I will also debut my gorgeous-looking, spanking-new hot pink Diana, in conjunction with my trusty Holga, in order to hopefully get a nice selection of two-dimensional keepsakes.

Maybe next year I'll try somewhere new, but for now it's all about Melbourne's perky blonde sister.


back to basics

I don't know who this girl is.

At a Greek festival held in the city earlier this year I decided to try and get a shot of the classic clowns. I stood there for so long, waiting (im)patiently while child after bratty child took their turn, hoping to get the clowns all to myself for a rugrat-free shot. The opportunity never arose, and so I reluctantly took the photo while my oblivious subject waited for something interesting to happen.

I was quite self-conscious taking this, because I never know how people (such as her mother) will react, and to seek permission would be to ruin the moment. Evidently the child's mother didn't take any notice because there were no immediate repercussions. I almost wish she had noticed, though, so perhaps I would have met her and could have eventually shown her the photo. But that wasn't to be.

Though I very much regret the visible wall in the foreground, I cherish this photo because of the subtle moment it has captured that just couldn't be posed, which to me enhances its loveliness. It's also a nice reminder that among all the flashes of colour, double and triple images and cross-processed hues (and no doubt that's just the tip of the plastic-camera iceberg), this gadget is more than capable of the essentials.

I don't know who this girl is, but by god, she's beautiful.


photography 101

You know how my 'about me' description says that sometimes my photos are terrible? Well until now I haven't posted any photos that I consider to be terrible. Hell, I've rarely even posted photos that I think are ordinary. Why would I? Well, I'll tell you why I am now: the only way I am going to avoid getting back a handful of failures every time I pick up a new batch is to learn from my mistakes. And, of course, from my successes. So, here are some don'ts and dos that I can take from my latest roll...

(don't judge me too harshly!)

don't take shady photos without a flash

This was such a sweet image in my head! A sweet Japanese boy in a sweet Japanese garden on a beautiful spring afternoon. The lush green, the crystal sky, the multi-coloured icy pole. But alas! There is none of that because I neglected to switch on the flash. Lesson Number One: if your subject is shaded with a bright background, use a fill-in flash to avoid images such as the dull, lifeless mass at the top of this post.

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don't take flash photos from a distance

Seems obvious, huh? Like when you see all the flashes going off in the stadiums at major sporting events and you just want to scream It's not going to make any difference!! At the time I took this shot, however, I was just concerned with getting everyone in the frame. Which has resulted in an unevenly lit image where the subjects in the background are barely visible (and what is visible looks rubbish). The worst thing about this is everyone looked smokin' hot that night, and the photo doesn't come close to doing these incredible ladies justice! Lesson Number Two: if you are lucky enough to be surrounded by such babes, don't be afraid to get in close.

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don't unload your film with the lights on

OK, I'm definitely open to light leaks. Sometimes it can look amazing, and add a whole new dimension to an image. Sometimes, though, it ruins photos. I don't think this image would have been amazing had the light not leaked in, but it would have been better than this. Lesson Number Three: if your camera does a mediocre-at-best job of winding on film, unload the film in a dark room and keep it in a light-proof vessel of some description right up until you hand the thing over for development.

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do get interesting silhouettes in front of a bright sky

The beautiful stars! I was super early for work one day so I stopped in the city to do a little skyward sight-seeing. I love all the tram wires over Bourke St Mall any time of the year, but when the Christmas decorations come out, the whole thing just bangs! I'm thrilled with this shot. The gorgeous colour of the sky (which unfortunately hasn't scanned as vividly as in the print), in addition to the glare off the Myer building, really conveys that distinct clarity and intensity that seems to only exist in the early mornings of super-hot days - you know, when it's not quite hot but you can just feel that it's going to be a scorcher? Dream! Lesson Number Four: a clear blue sky makes an excellent backdrop for anything that you want to silhouette.

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do take photos of dream babes

My oh my, these girls are so beautiful! There really isn't much more to say - just look at them! See Lesson Number Two.

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do take multiple exposures involving the sky, trees and people

There's that sweet Japanese boy! And he's visible! (Yes, this time I did remember to use a flash.) This photo conveys everything I feel about lazy spring afternoons in the park. It also puts me in mind of The Virgin Suicides. Maybe that's just because Brodie pointed out that Sofia Coppola likes to use shots of trees... But I digress - this image has my unabashed adoration. And makes the disaster shots above totally worthwhile.


farewell, winter

As Melbournians look ahead to a sunny week of low-30s and high-20s, it seems the time has come to pull the Havaianas out of the cupboard, wash the summer blanket that will replace the heavy winter doona, and drag the fan down from the garage shelves. (At least, this is what I have done today.) The days are longer, the nights warmer and the people generally happier at the reassurance that summer is knocking. Admittedly, this photo was taken in winter, but I'm posting it because with its beautiful beach, clear sky and vibrant colours (red and yellow being synonymous with those lovely lifesavers), I can't find an image of mine that better captures the Australian summer.

After seeing how brilliantly this slide film enhanced the colours of the beach, I thought, wow, I should take more slide photos at the beach. This was before I found out how vastly different the various slide films are, so the result is not at all what I had in mind. See for yourself:

As is often the case with my photos, upon seeing this for the first time my initial reaction was shock and disappointment at its distance from the imagined outcome. But, like other such photos, it has grown on me and I like it for what it is.

(But I still like the other one more.)

In any case, Hello summer! It's good to see you again.