Panorama of the Lake

Panorama of the Lake from Belmont

To me peace is
Sitting by the water
And watching the world
Go by

After a few weeks of really cold, wintery weather, we had a lovely warm day yesterday and I decided to wander down to the lake to take some photos and shoot the sunset.

When I reached the lakefront it was almost the end of the golden hour and the lovely glow was starting to catch some of the clouds as well. It was a beautiful scene and I wanted to capture as much of it as I could so I decided to do a panorama.

Normally I don’t like doing panoramas over water as it makes stitching the images together much harder but I thought the water looked still enough to give it a try. So I took six images handheld and it stitched together quite well in the end.

I really like the final photo. I think it captures the scene well and I like how enormous the lake feels, almost like you’re being swallowed by the water. It really does feel that impressive in person too.

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2017

Playing with Fire

 

The photography group I’m part of here in Newcastle met over the weekend and we did something a little bit different from normal: rather than go for a photo walk or do some landscapes, we played with fire.

Fire is a really interesting subject to photograph as there are so many different ways to capture it and you’ll never get the same photograph twice. If you use a short exposure, you can freeze the flame and show its power; use a longer exposure and you can make the flame seem silky and fluid. You can even use sparks to draw in the air and create interesting patterns and images.

I’ve experimented with playing with fire and light before so I had some idea of what we’d be doing but it was a really fun evening and it was great sharing it with other photographers, swapping ideas. Our group’s organiser, Steve, was our fire model for the evening and enjoyed it so much that he didn’t even get to take photos himself!

We also were very careful about safety and made sure there was minimal danger. That’s one of the other things that has stopped me from experimenting with these kind of images more often as I don’t like shooting them alone, so it was great being with other people.

I was pleased with how the images came out and I particularly like the black and white ones. I like the mood and contrast and they seem to really pop in monochrome. I like the shooting sparks as well – they were fantastic and lots of fun to shoot.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2017

Sitting and Reflecting

CJ by the Beach

Sitting by the water
I hear waves crash
And gulls call
And my heart sing

I took this photo last week while doing a photowalk near Pinny Beach. I was feeling a bit tired after walking for awhile and had quite a lot on my mind, so I thought I’d sit, watch the tankers on the ocean and let my mind wander.

I sat for about ten minutes and it occurred to me while I was sitting there that the scene might actually make for an interesting shot. I really liked some of the contrasts (particularly the rock with the sky and water) and I thought maybe if I put myself in it too, it’d give an interesting sense of scale. So I put my camera on my tripod, set a timer for about 10 seconds and then ran like a maniac to get back before the timer went off.

It took a couple of shots to nail the timing but in the end I think it worked well and captured the scene nicely. I think it also captured me quite well too, which I wasn’t expecting. The camera happened to catch me looking out over the ocean again and I think that kind of quiet reflection is quite true to my personality.

I guess I set out to take an interesting landscape and ended up with an environmental self portrait instead, which was actually better. Funny how that happens sometimes!

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2017

Float the Boat 2017

There was an interesting event on last Friday and Saturday near where I live in Lake Macquarie – the first annual Float the Boat parade, with over 20 boats decked out with bright lights sailing to light up the lake.

The idea was inspired by some of the flotilla light festivals that have been very successful overseas and the idea was to follow both sides of the lake, with Friday night’s flotilla starting at Marmong Point Marina and ending in Belmont, with the parade on Saturday night ending in Wangi Wangi.

I caught the parade at Belmont on the Friday and it was a really fun event – it was very cold and overcast but thankfully the rain held off and seeing all the boats and yachts lit up was fantastic. Some of the designs were very inventive as well; there was one of a shark I particularly liked and a lot of the kids watching nearby loved it too.

Taking photos of the parade was an interesting challenge. I enjoy night photography but it’s not often that I’d choose to shoot fast-moving subjects at night as it’s very hard to capture them without motion blur and my gear isn’t what you’d choose for the situation.

So I ended up settling for a bit of a compromise by trying to exaggerate the motion to create some interesting shapes, then once the boats had finished I walked round to the Belmont 16s and took some photos of the boats themselves. I quite like how the photos came out in the end.

I also took this video which shows some of the parade out on the lake.

It was a really fun event. The plan is for it to become an annual event and be even bigger next year so I look forward to seeing it again in 2018.

Photos and video © CJ Levinson 2017

Nobbys Lighthouse at Night


I watch the stars shine
Over the ocean
While waves crash
And the wind roars

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago while on a photowalk in Newcastle. I’d started to pack up my gear after getting a few shots of the sunset over the Newcastle ocean baths and with night setting in, there didn’t seem like much point hanging around.

On my way back, though, I stopped to look at Nobbys Lighthouse for a while. I’ve always liked the lighthouse but whenever I’ve tried to photograph it I’ve often struggled to get a photo I’ve been happy with, one that feels unique.

Looking at the scene now though, with the stars out and the water reflecting the light, I thought it looked quite striking and might make for a really interesting and different photograph. So I quickly set up my tripod to take a few shots.

Shooting at night, particularly with a moving subject, is often tricky as you need to balance quite a few factors to get your composition and exposure right, most notably your aperture and ISO. I find it takes some experimenting to get it right and it took me quite a few shots to get the effect I was looking for.

I like the result though. The colours and the contrast with the dark sky really make the image pop for me and I find it very peaceful, which was what I was hoping to capture. I’m definitely glad I stopped!

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2017

Dusk Silhouettes

Moments fade quickly
There is only how you live
And the way you love

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago now. I had thought I’d shared it after I took it but I just noticed that I didn’t. Oops! I guess I’m getting forgetful in my old age. In any case I really like the photo so I thought I’d share it now anyway.

I had popped down to the lake to shoot the sunset and I’d been down there for a while without getting anything interesting… it was one of those lovely days that you hope will end in a beautiful sunset but ends up being a bit of a fizzer unfortunately.

But just as dusk settled and I was about to give up, the light changed and this beautiful band of yellow light spread across the horizon – the day’s dying rays.

So I started setting up my tripod to capture the scene, fiddled with the composition, and then… just as everything was finally ready and I was about to take the shot… a mother and her son walked into the frame and started fishing!

I know there’s not much you can do when something like that happens – it’s just bad timing and it is a public area, after all – but honestly at the time I couldn’t help but feel a little pissed. I thought I’d lined up the perfect shot, only for someone to walk right into it. Plus I was there first and it was obvious what I was doing – couldn’t they have waited? I only needed a few seconds!

I grumbled a bit to myself under my breath and wondered what to do… I still had a shot lined up but usually I don’t like taking photos that have children in them without permission, particularly if it might show their faces (occasionally I will with street photography when they walk into a scene but again I try not to show faces). But the mother looked over at me and sort of smiled and nodded at me so I took that as permission and took a couple of shots.

It was actually nice watching them fish through the lens, they were laughing and having fun and I felt guilty for feeling a bit annoyed before. So I took the shots and then left them to their fishing and headed home.

When I got back I loaded the photos to have a quick look and this one immediately jumped out at me. The dying light and the colours and the water were beautiful, but it was the human element that really jumped out at me; the emotion, obvious even in simple silhouettes. And ironically, after all the fuss, I think it is that element that helps to make it a far stronger image than if they hadn’t been in it at all.

My only regret now is that I hadn’t thought to offer them a card, I thought afterward that they might like to see it. Oh well. Maybe next time.

Photos and haiku © CJ Levinson 2017

Dusk on the Lake


Sitting by the lake
I watch the light fade away
And day turn to night


I was planning to go for a photowalk this past weekend but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to. I always feel a little more tense when I haven’t shot anything for a while so I thought I’d try to go down to the lake this afternoon to take some photos and shake off the cobwebs.

Unfortunately though it was pretty cold and overcast for most of the day and for a while I didn’t think I’d get there; it was very apt weather for a Monday but not particularly inspiring for photography! But luckily it cleared just before sunset and so I managed to go for a quick walk and take these.

The light was quite interesting and I really liked the interplay with the clouds and the rays shining through… it felt quite dramatic and I like how that’s come out in the photos.

I got a couple of other shots too that I haven’t edited yet and may end up posting tomorrow – originally I was planning to do somethink in black and white today and I’d still like to. I think a couple of them will really pop in monochrome.

Photos and haiku © CJ Levinson 2017

Revenge of the Fifth


A long time ago
In a shopping centre
Not so far, far
Away

Yesterday was May the Fourth, or Star Wars Day for fans of the series. It’s a fun day where fans show their love for the series and generally just embrace their inner geek (myself included).

In that spirit I was out shopping yesterday afternoon and came across some of the Southern Cross Garrison of the 501st Legion in full costume outside 2012 Tattoo in Charlestown Square. 2012 Tattoo were having Star Wars-themed events all day and the 501st were there posing for photos for a gold coin donation for charity, so I gave them a couple of dollars and took this.

For just a quick portrait I really like it and it was nice meeting some of the members of the 501st. Their costumes are absolutely fantastic and they do great work for charities and helping to bring cheer to sick kids in hospitals etc. I’ll have to keep an eye out for them when Episode VIII opens and maybe see if they ever need a photographer to cover any events for them, it looks like fun!

I meant to post the photo yesterday for the 4th but ran out of time. So I’m posting it today instead – on the Revenge of the Fifth! 🙂

Photos and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2017

On Nobbys Beach

I’ve got sand
Stuck in my shoes,
Reminds me of us
And who we were

We had a beautiful Autumn day yesterday, sunny blue skies and nice and warm with a cool breeze, so I thought I’d make the most of my Saturday and go for a photowalk.

I’d not gone on one in a while and I decided to go to Nobbys Beach in Newcastle as the last time I went I didn’t get to photograph the lighthouse there and I thought a beautiful day like this might be the perfect chance!

Well, that was the idea anyway… turned out I didn’t quite make it to the lighthouse. I found a few other great spots first – and then suddenly the best of the light was gone and I still hadn’t reached the lighthouse. Oops!

Oh well. Next time I guess. I still got some good photos and it was a beautiful sunset. What better way to spend the end of a beautiful Saturday? 🙂

Photos and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2017