Self Portraits

I took these self portraits a couple of nights ago. I’ve been thinking about starting to do more studio-style portraits and as I wanted to see if there was enough room to do them at home, I thought I’d try it out myself.

I took them in our lounge and I honestly wasn’t sure how it’d go at first but it actually worked out quite well. We have some dark blue velvet curtains which were great for the background and I used two flashes on light stands and stood about a metre from the curtains which more or less turned the background black. I had my camera on a tripod and triggered it with a remote which gave me time to pose and try different things.

I didn’t do any full body shots as I didn’t want to move any furniture out of the way but there would be enough room to do that if I wanted to in the future which is good to know. In this case I was more interested in shooting from the waist up anyway.

The main thing I found a bit hard was positioning the flashes given it’s a small room and if I wasn’t careful the light could spread too far; sometimes the background looked totally black in camera but later on my computer I found I could make out the curtains. So I think I’d use a proper background next time and maybe step a bit further forward to fix that. A textured muslin background would look good too.

They came out well overall though and for just a fun experiment I like them a lot. I particularly like the shots with the masks. I’ve been thinking a lot about the masks we wear in our everyday lives lately, how the person we are in public differs from the person we are in private. I wanted to try to convey that in the images: the tie and jacket contrasting with the mask, a scream of repression.

With the Venetian masquerade mask I was particularly thinking of the Uncle Sam Wants You poster from World War I and how governments use masks of propaganda to convince people of their cause and given a lot of what’s happening in the world at the moment, I thought doing a take on that pose was interesting. Looking at the final image, it feels a little accusatory which I like as well… it gives it another dimension and I guess it’s a reflection of what I was feeling in that moment too.

I also thought the masks just looked pretty cool too which was the main thing!

I hope you like the photos. I really enjoy making creative self portraits like these, I’ll have to get back to doing them more regularly.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2018

Lake Macquarie and Newcastle 2019 Calendar

Lake Macquarie and Newcastle 2019 Calendar (digital)

Just a quick note. I’ve spent the last couple of months working on incorporating a store into the site and it’s live now if anyone wants to check it out.

I’ve had a small store on Etsy previously but I think it makes more sense to incorporate it into the site. And cheaper too.

All the photos are digital files so they can be printed at home or through a print shop or used as wallpaper, etc. They’re $12 each.

I’ve also just finished making a calendar for 2019 which is on the store now too!

The calendar features 12 of my favourite photos from around Lake Macquarie and Newcastle, including some that I’ve never posted before.

It was a lot of fun to make and I really wanted the calendar to capture the spirit and beauty of Lake Macquarie and Newcastle and I really like how it came out.

If you’re interested you can order it here. There’s also a digital version which avoids postage costs.

I hope you like it. 🙂

Towards the Belmont 16s

16s at Night

At night 
The world seems so different
Like a mirror’s
Dark reflection

I went down to the lake earlier tonight to try to get a photo of the moon. It was a beautiful golden crescent and I thought it would make for a really great shot suspended just above the yachts. Well I failed miserably at that – I think I was probably using the wrong lens and it just didn’t seem to work.

So I decided to try something else and took this long exposure looking towards the Belmont 16s instead. It ended up being a 120 second exposure which meant a lot of waiting but it turned out well and better than the original idea I had. Photography can be funny like that, often it’s the shot you weren’t thinking of that turns out the best.

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2018

Boats on the Belmont Foreshore

Grey skies
And deep waters
Hold many secrets
But I keep none from you

Just a simple shot from a few weeks ago. It feels very calm and peaceful and I really like how the colours contrast with the grey water and sky.

I gave it a bit of a subtle, vintage-style edit as well. I like it, it reminds me a little of the Kodak film I used to shoot with years ago.

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2018

Through the Grass

Through the Grass

“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
—Dorothea Lange

I took this shot on the weekend near the 16s in Belmont. It was just before sunset and I really liked the way the light was reflecting off the water and falling on the grass. There was a nice breeze too and the whole scene felt very warm and peaceful.

In editing it I wanted the photo to have a bit of a vintage, filmic feel as I thought it really leant itself to that style and my landscapes seem to have been moving more towards that lately. I guess it’s normal for our tastes to change and I feel a bit nostalgic for film as well sometimes. Maybe I’ll have to pick up a film camera second-hand to play with.

Photo © CJ Levinson 2018

Looking Across Warners Bay

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.” — Ansel Adams

I took these photos a couple of days ago at Warners Bay. It’s a beautiful area, one of my favourite places to sit and take some photos as the sun goes down, although unfortunately on this day it was a bit clouded over. The clouds gave the scene a nice atmosphere though and the light was very soft and even.

I was in two minds about going originally as I thought it might rain but I decided to risk it as I hadn’t been to the foreshore in a while and I really wanted to get a shot with this sculpture that was installed there recently.

The sculpture is called Soloist by Alex Seton and it’s a very interesting piece, definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area. Ironically it was actually an accident that it ended up on the foreshore at all – Seton had been commissioned to do another work by the Lake Macquarie City Council for its Creative Lake Art Trail but the piece wasn’t ready in time, so Seton lent Soloist in its place until the other work could be installed. But the sculpture created a lot of interest and debate and it’s now staying permanently.

I really like it and I think it suits the landscape perfectly. There is something very meditative about it and it makes me think of the importance of finding your peace in our hectic world, of allowing yourself a moment to just sit still and be. I guess that was the feeling I wanted to try to capture in the photos. I think they came out quite well in the end.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2018

Ghosts on the Sand

Ghosts on the Sand

Ghosts on the Sand

Wet feet
Childish laughter
Footprints in the sand:
Memories to cherish

I took this shot at Nobby’s Beach in Newcastle earlier this afternoon. It was a bit of a tricky shot as while I liked the way the light was falling on the headland and how it contrasted with the water and the rocks, there was an ugly wire fence in the way and none of the compositions I tried seemed to work very well.

I finally managed to find this composition by pushing the camera through a small space in the fence and just as I was ready to take the shot, a couple of children wandered into the bottom left of the frame. They had lots of fun running up to the water and jumping in, then squealing and rushing back the other way as the tide suddenly came back in.

I thought I’d try to capture some of that in the photo so I set up for a longer exposure. This was the result, I really like it… the motion blur’s almost made them look like ghosts playing on the sand. It captures the scene quite nicely.

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2018

The Lake at Night

In the dark night
The world looks similar
But different;
I walk on

I took these photos along the Belmont lakefront last night. It was a lovely clear night and I thought it was a good chance to see how my new camera performed at night as well as to stretch my legs.

I used to do quite a bit of night photography in Sydney but it’s not something I’ve done as much of lately. I’ll have to do more of it. Night shots can look quite unique, particularly street photography, and I like how it can give a new perspective to subjects you’ve photographed before as well.

Photos and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2018

I Can’t See New York

Seventeen years ~
Feels like a lifetime,
And yesterday ~
We remember

In some ways it’s hard to believe that it’s been seventeen years since September 11. It seems like an age ago – it was more than half my lifetime ago now, in fact. The world has changed so much.

And yet in other ways it barely feels like much time has passed at all. I still remember seeing it so clearly on television; watching the second plane crash, the towers fall. The horror, the shock, the disbelief.

Perhaps that is the way of historic moments though. In searing themselves into our consciousness, they change us, change the world. And so when we think of them it’s almost like time continues to stand still, even after so long.

I wanted to do something to mark the day besides a short poem, so I thought I would share a song as well. Tori Amos is one of my favourite artists and it was actually through this song, I Can’t See New York, that I discovered a lot of her more modern music.

It’s from the 2002 album Scalet’s Walk, which is about a young woman’s journey from one side of America to the other, exploring Native American history and learning about political extremism and American culture, as well as a thousand other things.

The album is a masterpiece and as Amos’s protagonist approaches the end of her journey, she puts her on a plane above New York, circling above ash and dust, confused and terrified as a plane crashes and 9/11 unfolds.

It’s a hauntingly beautiful song and I’ve always thought one of the most powerful songs about that day. So many years later it still captures that awful sense of confusion and sadness so very well.

My thoughts to everyone in the US today.

Haiqua © CJ Levinson 2018