18th March 2017
We all have them, but what makes them so?
One of mine is “Castles”
Castle Cove in Victoria’s Southwest… Leaving the Otway ranges behind it’s the westbound Great Ocean Road travelers’ introduction to Southern Ocean.
Known for the rugged cliff top vista, wildflowers, Blackboys (do we still call them that? No? Grass trees, perhaps) and millions of years of history being revealed in the dinosaur fossils stamped into the cliff walls, a must stop on one of the worlds great vehicular journeys. But, there is something else about the place that puts the jam in my donut and it’s not so easy to define.
For me there has always been something “other worldly” about the relatively short stretch of coast between Cape Otway and Princetown, but felt more so here at Castles than anywhere else. The imposing cliff face, heavy sand, awesome (and often intimidating) surf all combined are impressive but there is something more.
I recall, almost 40 years ago as a young teenager, making the drive for the first time through the Otways along the rough and dusty dirt road (The Great Ocean Road wasn’t always that great, at least as far as the surface was concerned) and what struck me then and still holds now is the sense of isolation. These days the cliff top is regularly peppered with enthusiastic “thumbs-up” and “peace-sign” waving "selfie" obsessed visitors capturing that all important portrait during their five minute stop on the way to the Twelve Apostles, however a short walk down to the beach sees almost all left behind and a sense of solitude is restored.
There is a definable difference between the attractive, yet populated coast East of the Cape and the rolling green dairy country that is revealed to the West, but less quantifiable is the contrast between the coastline South of the “Surf Coast” and that of the Southern Ocean. Clearly there is a geographical isolation from the nearest coastal metropolis but it’s more than that. The impressive landscape, powerful ocean, relentless prevailing winds and a mysterious “something else” all conspire to create a wonderful loneliness here at Castles and I love it.
I guess the best way to describe it is to borrow a wonderful quote from the Australian film classic “The Castle” (a happy coincidence)… “It’s the vibe of it!”
06 December 2017
Just back from an adventure in the Mentawai, west of Sumatra. Not a photographic trip specifically, but who can resist a great sunrise. The first morning, after the crossing.
More to come...
Australia Day 2017
Enjoy our day everyone!
17 Nov 2016
This casual little guy has become quite a regular obstacle on a road near home. Many an early morning or late afternoon has seen him sitting on or near to the white lines looking like a victim in the making. As it turns out he is easy to avoid, as he doesn't flinch... just aim to miss him and he won't move, couldn't be bothered it seems. I pulled over two nights ago to see if he was as approachable on foot and sure enough he walked over to me only to lose interest within seconds before moving on.
I remembered this time to ask my wife if she had encountered this little fella, her reply... "You mean Sid?" She'd seen him so often that she had already named him!
I give you... Sid
9 Nov 2016
I've had the opportunity to travel a little of late. A recent release, with many more to come... "Grace"
"RM WILLIAMS WAY" The Kangaroo Hwy...
1 May 2016
Last week. A quick hop over to the Flinders Ranges for an air to air shoot for a local helicopter company... 14 hour drive to get there, a day and a half hanging my head out of a little Cessna then 14 hour drive home, all so that I could squeeze it into the 3 days that I had available. Too much driving, I know, but I did the sensible thing and pulled over a few times for some much needed power napping. What I hadn't planned for however, were the incredible number of kangaroos during the wee small hours on what must be one of our most blood soaked stretches of highway, the "R M Williams Way". I hit three in the space of an hour (all hopped away uninjured) and must have seen fifty living and as many not so. I expect I'll be avoiding the midnight dash on the desert highways from now on... or at least until I have a decent deflection device up front.
One of the last images from the shoot, before heading off to dodge roos!
Thank the fox...
10 Jan 2016
Fox harassing dog = zero sleep. So a walk under the stars instead... serenity now!
31 Aug 2015
A cool offering for the last day of winter... "Red Johanna"
I don't do commissions, most of the time that is
20 Aug 2015
It’s not that I don’t enjoy the occasional challenge of interpreting a client’s vision, but unfortunately the requests that we receive from our gallery visitors more often tend to be a little vague and unrealistic. Can he photograph “My house”, “Something from (insert town or place)”, “Like that, but different?” Ok so it’s not really all that bad, but a brief doesn’t have be so… I’m not much of a mind reader, just ask my wife!
So why ask me to consider such a request? Because sometimes I’m surprised and motivated to accept a commission for reasons other than the obvious. One such moment sprung from a conversation in our gallery a few weeks ago. A wonderful lady shared her joy at finding just the right gift for her husband’s upcoming 60th birthday, “Princess Pier”. As it turns out, he is in the construction business and was involved in the redevelopment of the site amongst other major Melbourne projects. When I received the call, asking if I’d consider shooting a couple of other structures to complement the original purchase I jumped at it… after all, it’s for the gentleman’s birthday!
“Princess Pier” was captured on a stormy morning, so the main consideration was to keep the conditions reasonably similar (not hard in a Melbourne winter, admittedly) and ensure that the composition was suited to presenting in the same square format.
In the end… “Jim Stynes” and “Seafarers” bridges. Subjects that would not normally move me, however I do know that they mean a great deal to those involved in their construction and this made the project far more satisfying than I would have expected.
I’m glad I said yes!
Oh and happy birthday Sir.
Chasing the light...
6 July 2015
A couple of weeks ago an increase in solar activity had Aurora Chasers a buzz. I had previously been unaware of the possibility of witnessing the phenomenon from the Oz mainland, but having heard about it this time thought I'd have a look.
Night one was spent wishing away the cloud (that appeared to cover the Otway Ranges and me only). Seeing nothing between the cloud breaks after four hours I packed it in, only to discover that just before dawn the Aurora had been revealed in all it's glory! Ok, the forecast suggested a final opportunity the following night the skies were clear and lets go again.
Peaking at kp8 (Aurora forecast jargon, see link below) the chance of a spectacle was high, unfortunately not as high as the full moon. Great at illuminating the foreground at night, it seemed equally successful at diminishing the light show and by the time it had set the event had passed. This image shows the weak glow on the horizon... better luck next time.
For those weather and storm junkies, here's something else to keep you up at night... http://www.aurora-service.net/
18 March 2015
Great time of the year for the weather lovers in Oz!
10 March 2015
A recent short, solo trip to the edge of the Aussie Outback…
Vehicle serviced, maps, food, clothing, water, water, water and a plan.
But who plans to deal with TWO blown tyres in one day? Not me as it turned out!
Melbourne White Night Festival
22 Feb 2015
By all accounts, (and certainly from the images I’ve seen), Melbourne has once again turned on a stunning feast for the eyes in last night’s White Night Festival. So successful is this event that over one night, more than half a million people found their way into the city centre to witness this dusk till dawn explosion of visual art.
I wish I could have been there, as I too would be drawn like “a moth to the flame” towards such a sea of colour… it’s irresistible to me and given the attendance, I suspect it is to most of us. Which is why the question, “Was this picture taken during last year’s White Night Festival?” (asked many times about this image “The Forum”, displayed in our gallery) surprises me. Whilst this image is colourful, it is clearly no match for the Festival and in fact is reflective of the colour of Melbourne and probably most other cities at night.
Colour and light surround us. Perhaps most of us are too busy to notice and all we need is a gentle nudge to open our eyes to it; be it a small slice of a city as in this image or the extraordinary storm of colour projected before the masses last night.
Kudos to the Melbourne White Night Festival for opening our eyes!
10 Feb 2015
The Mungo Woolshed.
Originally part of the historic Gol Gol Station (now Mungo NP). A walk through the shed and my back screams "no way".
A small team of shearers, hand shears, heat, dust, flies and 50,000 sheep!
The 1860's... "When men were men and there was a 30 year wait for the first Chiropractor".
A Bridge No More
14 Dec 2014
A wild winter's morning; dark, wet and windy. Looking for a different angle on a well known landmark saw me hanging on the edge of a slick limestone cliff, hurrying to get this over and done with between squalls... invigorating, to say the least.
4 Dec 2014
The dawn silence... shattered by the shrill cries of a flock of lively cockatoos "Bird Noises"
21 Oct 2014
Last Saturday morning across the road from the Gallery... "Dawning"
2 Oct 2014
A new release sparking interest, "Autumn Blaze". A favourite of mine, but then again the latest work normally is... until the next one.
"Silence Of The Lamb"
6 July 2014
More often than I'd like, the promise of the right light at dawn or dusk is unrealised and is followed by a long hike back to the car imagining what might have been. Recently, on just such an occasion, I felt that I was not alone walking back in the decreasing light. Eyes side to side... nothing, a turn of the head... no one, but I was certain that I was being stalked. Finally I stopped, turned around and waited; the beast revealed itself. I stared down the predator (long enough to document in this pic), then quietly backed away to safety.
No images this particular evening, but a good laugh had at this little lamb chop's game made it worthwhile.
Wild Weather... "My Favorite!"
18 April 2014
A brief pulse of large storm swell accompanied by wild winds a couple of weeks ago saw masses of flying foam, grounded Mutton birds and gave the local cray fisherman a really good excuse for a sleep in.
A more gentle scene on the opposite side on the oceans fury... "Oceanfall"
What's in and what's out?
11 April 2014
Sometimes it can be difficult to decide on whether an image finds a place on the wall. A good example is "Southern Stars"... I like it and enjoyed the challenge of shooting it but when it came to exhibiting the image I couldn't help feeling a little uneasy about it.
My concern stemmed from the obvious surreal look of the stars and foreground and the potential criticism... "that's not real!" Our eyes are poor in low light, but digital sensors are not and this is the result. A little stylized sure, but a faithful representation of the scene as it was.
Ironically having bitten the bullet, hanging it in the gallery it has become one of our most popular works.
Lesson learned... don't be afraid of criticism, welcome it, let people love or hate it (developing a thick skin doesn't hurt either).
Old School Skatey
1 May 2013
An Aussie Icon… The “GT Skateboard”
Chances are if you were an Aussie kid skating the streets during the mid 60’s to early 70’s you rode either a “Surfer Sam” or this, the “GT” skateboard. Both made locally, the GT by the coffin makers “H.H Webb and Co” of Footscray (come unstuck on one of their timber products and you could be buried in another, nice!)
So, was it a good board to ride? Not a chance, a stiff, heavy, flat wooden deck upon which were screwed a pair of poorly designed trucks… then there are the wheels!!!
The loose ball bearing clay wheel (the white type known as chalkies), were typically a composite of plastic, paper and walnut shells. Bone shakingly harsh, no traction and incredibly eager to grind to a halt upon hitting the tiniest pebble or crack in the pavement, often resulting in the launch and painful landing of the unsuspecting skater. The pre-urethane wheels were incredibly unforgiving.
Looking back at the technology I’m not at all surprised by the bruising and loss of skin that we all enjoyed, or that wonderful experience of having the wind knocked out of us whilst having to endure the wild laughter of friends as we gasped for a breath like fish out of water, struggling to come good (before dusting off and getting right back on the board seconds later). Dangerous bit of kit by today’s standards yes, but I wouldn’t have given up riding these crappy weapons for anything.
Everything that’s wrong with the old school skatey is everything that’s right about it… “Rough as guts and as fun as you like”.
21 March 2013
Surfers of the Fifties and Sixties stumped up heaps of cash for, and rode and loved the Longboard until the Shortboard revolution bulldozed its way into the line-up during the early Seventies. The new generation young surfer had almost no interest in the aging craft, so much so that it soon became a rarity to see a Mal rider and most of the old sticks were left to gather dust in the “Old Man’s” shed… well, almost. You see, surf starved groms did find a use for them at times. Given that the old logs could catch the smallest, most unridable waves of the hottest summer days, they were often dragged (literally at times) out for a paddle.
The tragedy… They were heavy with no perceived value and, after a day’s fooling around, they were often abandoned on the lawn and on occasion didn’t even get that far. Rip out the fin and it carves up the sand dune, break it up by dancing on it like a gorilla and ten feet of foam or balsa breathes life back into a flickering campfire, or leave it behind because it’s just too heavy.
I witnessed this all first hand because, as it turns out, I’m one of the kooks that committed these crimes in my youth. I’m still haunted by the memory of an as new, completely unmolested original balsa Mal that seemed to be worth all of the “three dollars” that I sold it for to a friend with longer, stronger arms than mine. I bought fish and chips with the loot and he took a piece of Australian history home to his brother… Who cut it down to make a shortboard!
Anyhow, four decades later I’m hoping to make amends for my part in the desecration of our surfing treasures by giving these aging Australian surf vehicles a good home… If you know of any of these boards sitting unloved and dying in a shed somewhere I’d love to hear about it. I promise not to set it on fire!
21 Nov 2012
Many a day begins pre-dawn with the promise of an impressive sunrise, ending more often than not with anything but. Today was just such a day... low cloud on the horizon, preventing the suns rays from illuminating the otherwise perfect mottled cloud base.
I noticed with interest, a lone fisherman on a nearby pier patiently waiting for strike. Two of us equally enthusiastic about a possible reward, a coloured sky for one and a breakfast for the other... Mother nature didn't offer up either.
Better luck next time...
Heritage Listed "Princess Pier"
2 Nov 2012
One hundred years of history saved from the ravages of the elements and decades of neglect.
To my mind, the success of the Princess Pier restoration lies in the restraint of its design. Tastefully redeveloped, less than a third of the heritage site has been revamped as public space, leaving the bulk of the aged piles in tact. It is now touted by the Victorian Government as "a heritage and sculptural centerpiece"... I couldn't agree more.
12 Oct 2012
A chilly Autumn morning... cold dry hands and the wedding ring is off and hiding in the frosty grass!
Image captured in the first twenty minutes, the hunt for the ring whilst concocting an acceptable explanation... Two hours!
Ring found, future happiness assured.
12 Sep 2012
With all the rain around at the moment I'm reminded of this shot taken a few years ago.
Two winter hours walking in the rain, predawn, frozen fingers and wet to the bone... Heaven!