Lightning over the Lake

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A bright streak
Flashes across the sky
Lighting up the night
And your eyes

We had an amazing, fairly sudden storm this evening. It had been overcast most of the day but the thunder and lightning still seemed to come without warning. Luckily I was nearly home when it started and so I grabbed my camera and tripod and hurried down to the lake to try to get some shots.

Lightning is tricky to photograph and it took some experimentation – you’d think you’d want to use a high shutter speed to freeze the strike but because lightning is so unpredictable, I find you actually have to go the opposite way and use a slow shutter speed to give yourself more time to capture a good strike. Working out exactly how long though is a bit of trial and error so it can be fiddly and if it’s a short burst, you might not get anything at all.

I really like how this one came out though. It was a 25 second exposure which is about the sweet spot I find, particularly at night. I’ve taken a few lightning shots before but since moving to Belmont I’ve always wanted to get a dramatic one over the lake. I guess that’s one thing I can check off the bucket list now. 😀

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2019

2018 Favourites

With today being the last day of 2018 I thought it’d be fun to post a collection of my favourite photos from the past year. I hope you enjoy them.

2018’s been an interesting year for my photography. I actually didn’t start taking many photos until about April but it’s been pretty much non-stop since.

Part of that’s been that I decided to do a calendar for the end of the year. I thought it would help inspire me to get out and shoot more, which it did. It ended up being a really fun project.

Along with my landscapes I started doing more portraits as well, particularly studio portraits which have been fun and have helped my understanding of flash. I’ll be doing more paid work in 2019 so it’s been good practice for that.

In general I think my photography has improved a lot this year. In particular I’ve refined my editing a lot and I’ve found myself focusing on combining long exposures with movement which has created some really interesting images.

I also won the Lake Macquarie Float Your Boat photo competition and my calendar sold much better than I expected it to – it actually sold out twice and it came together very well in the end.

I also switched to Sony from Olympus midyear which was a bit of a learning curve at first but has worked out really well in the end.

So all in all 2018’s been a pretty productive year. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 will bring. 🙂

Happy New Year! Hope it’s a good one for you.

The Obelisk

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The Obelisk

For one hundred and seventy years
I have stood high atop this hill
A lone sentry watching over
The ever-changing skyline below
This place changes constantly
The boundaries always shifting
As the water meets the city
And the city meets the bush
Yet through all the changes
Still I remain
Standing tall
Surveying the world below

I was built as a guide for the mariners
A beacon on the hill
Where the old windmill used to stand
In my heyday I was magnificent
A gleaming monument
Visible for miles along the coast
During storms and calm seas alike
I would point you towards
The port of Newcastle
With its promise of safe harbour,
A hot meal, a warm bed,
And work in its growing industries

But now I am older
And the world I knew has changed
I have lived through great wars
And seen times of depression and despair
I have seen the birth of Federation
And watched the rise and fall of kings
I have been burnt by lightning
Broken by earthquakes
Desecrated by vandals
Surrounded by weeds
Oh the stories I could tell
But no one wants to listen

And so after almost two centuries
Still I stand here
Atop this hill
Watching the world go by
And I find myself wondering,
Will I still be here in another century
Or will I have been replaced
By something new?
Something more like the buildings below
That have replaced the green trees
That were once my friends
But now are only memories from long ago

Poem and photo © CJ Levinson 2018

Belmont Baths and Jetty

The new Belmont baths and jetty opened on Saturday. The old finger jetty was destroyed by a severe storm several years ago and the council used the opportunity to design a new one and reopen the community baths as well.

I live in Belmont so I’ve been watching the construction closely over the last few months and I popped along on Saturday to have a look now it’s all finished.

I quite like them. The jetty is fantasic and the baths look like they’ll be great on a hot day and they’re an interesting design. I was a little surprised by the boundary posts though; I thought there would be more connecting them than the shark nets but I guessmaybe that would have ruined the view.

I went back for a proper photowalk on Sunday to explore some more and catch the sunset. I like how the shots came out and the different views of the baths and jetty and the lake. They’re definitely interesting to photograph, I think it’ll be an interesting area to go back to every now and then.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2018

Self-Portraits (Part Two)

I took these last night for a bit of fun. I like to do some festive self-portraits in the lead up to Christmas and after I had a lot of fun doing my some studio-style self-portraits a few week ago, I thought I’d do these in the same style too. I like how they came out and I did some more normal, non-Christmas themed portraits too. Hope you like them.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2018

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