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

Easter Sunset

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Another Easter
Passes quickly
As the sun sets
And the birds sing

Happy Easter to everyone celebrating today. I hope you’re having a nice day wherever you are in the world.

I spent my Sunday having a fairly quiet day at home before wandering down to the lake in the early evening, partly to walk off some chocolate (yum!) but also because it was a lovely, warm day and I thought it might be a beautiful sunset too.

It was! Just as I got down to the lake the sky seemed to explode with colour and different shades of pink, blue, purple and yellow stretched across the horizon. It was gorgeous and only lasted for about fifteen minutes before the sun disappeared but it was one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve seen in a long time.

I managed to snap a few shots. This one was my favourite as I thought it captured the colours and the sky perfectly. Definitely a nice way to end the weekend.

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2017

My Favourite Photos from 2016

A belated Happy New Year to everyone. I hope 2017 is a good year for you and a better one for the world in general.

I thought I’d start off the new year by posting some of my favourite photos from last year. They’re a mix of landscapes, portraits and street photos and there are a few images here I haven’t shared before so I hope you like them.

2016 was a pretty good year for my photography. I had several sales, started doing some portraits and in general I think my photography improved a lot during the year. I had a few setbacks as well – most notably a broken foot which has sidelined me for a while – but overall I’m pleased with how the year went and I’m happy with how all of these photos came out.

My main photography goals for 2017 are to keep improving and testing myself and to increase my exposure locally. I’d also like to experiment more with using flash creatively – which probably means buying another flash, so we’ll see!

I hope you enjoy the photos. How was your 2016?

Ripper Little Christmas (an Aussie Christmas Song)

I finished writing my annual Aussie Christmas song earlier today. I left it a bit later this year but I’m happy I got it done.

This is my eighth song now and this year I settled on doing an Aussie version of Holly Jolly Christmas called Ripper Little Christmas.

I chose it as it’s very recognisable and should be an easy one to follow. I also chose it as it’s just a fun song and we could all use a bit of fun after this year, don’t you think?

It’s more inspired by the original song than a true parody (I changed the rhyming and structure a bit as I didn’t want it to seem too cutesy) but it also lets me tell a bit more of a fun story, which is what I wanted to do too.

I hope you enjoy it and if you have any suggestions for next year’s song, let me know. 😀

Kangaroo Bauble

Ripper Little Christmas

Have a ripper little Christmas
It’s a beaut time of the year
We’ll have lots of fun in the sun
And a glass or two of beer

Have a ripper little Christmas
And when you go to the beach
Say hello to mates you know
And shout em a cold one each

Oh oh look how the lights glow
So pretty on the tree
Grandma’s baked a cake again
Save a slice just for me

Have a ripper little Christmas
Enjoy the fun and cheer
And make sure you have a ripper little Christmas
This year!

Oh oh look at Uncle Joe
He’s fallen asleep by the tree
The kids are playing in the yard
While we enjoy a cup of tea

Have a ripper little Christmas
Hold your loved ones near
And make sure you have a ripper little Christmas
This year!

My other Aussie Christmas songs:
The Aussie 12 Days of Christmas (2008)
Aussie Jingle Bells (2009)
We Wish You An Aussie Christmas (2010)
Deck the Ute (an Aussie Christmas Song) (2011)
Have Yourself an Aussie Kind of Christmas (2012)
Santa Matey (an Aussie Christmas Song) (2014)

I’m Dreaming of an Aussie Christmas (2015)

Sitting by the Tree

The Two CJs by the Tree

Lights, music
Gifts under the tree:
Another Christmas
Has come again

Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating today. I hope you have a wonderful day with much joy and laughter and have a peaceful rest of the year.

I took this photo last night for a bit of festive fun. I was trying to think of what I wanted for Christmas, then it hit me – I could really use another pair of hands around the house, so I asked Santa for a clone. My wish came true!  Thank you Santa. 😀

CJ and Friend

I took this one too which was fun. We have three of these mice, they’re very cute. And mischievous as you can see.

CJ by the Tree black and white

And this one too. I try to do a photo in front of the tree each year. I like how this one came out in black and white.

Merry Christmas. I’ll have my annual Aussie Christmas song posted later tonight as well. 😀

Photos and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2016

By Belmont Wharf

By Belmont Wharf

Purple light
Stretches along
The horizon
As another day ends

By Belmont Wharf black and white

These photos are from a couple of days ago, down near the wharf in Belmont.

The dusk light was lovely and the reflection off the lake was very beautiful. The perfect kind of scene for a long exposure and I’m pleased with how the photos came out.

I like the scene in colour but I also really like it in black and white, particularly with all the texture it brings out and the way the shadow near the bottom helps draw the eye in to the photo.

Usually I wouldn’t edit two photos with such similar framing but I really like both photos. I think they show the scene in very different ways despite their framing and it shows that sometimes you need to be willing to break your own rules. I’m glad I did here.

Photos and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2016

Self Portrait in Black and White

Self Portrait in Black and White

Sometimes I wonder
Who I am in this strange world?
I am simply me

I took this photo as a bit of an experiment. I’ve been playing around with flash in my spare time, trying out some different settings and ideas so I know I’ve got a few more styles to default to for portraits when I need them.

I’ve been using myself as a stand in and wasn’t expecting to use any of the photos but I actually really like this one. In this case I was experimenting more with creating mood and atmosphere and I think it’s quite effective, particularly in black and white. Reminds me of some of those dramatic sports profiles you see in magazines sometimes.

For anyone wondering how to create a look like this, it’s actually quite simple. I only used one flash (off-camera) and used a black reflector behind me to create the background (a black bed sheet or piece of fabric would work well too).

I had my camera on a tripod and sat about half a metre in front of the reflector and angled the flash across the right side of my face. At about 1/8th power that allowed the flash to illuminate just that side of my face without reaching the background.

It’s a simple setup and while this looks moody and dramatic, it works well for normal portraits too. It’s very versatile and a good setup to learn if you’re just starting out.

I don’t take that many self portraits but I’m fairly happy with this one. Might have to keep experimenting and do some more of them.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2016

Sunset Reflections

Purple Reflections

Reflections stretch
Across the lake
As I sit and think
About the world

I took this photo a couple of days ago. It was the day after the US election and I went down to the lake in Belmont to try to clear my thoughts.

I’m not going to say too much about the election as I plan to touch on it in a Q&A post soon but I will say that Trump’s win shook me a bit. Obviously I’m an Australian and not directly involved but the US sets the cultural tone for the world and affects all of us; we often say that when the US sneezes, the rest of us catch a cold, and that’s why we were following the election closely too.

It was an extraordinary result but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that many of us aren’t concerned by it and that was my immediate reaction. Not just because of Trump’s rhetoric but particularly because internationally we have little idea of what to expect from a President Trump and his presidency leaves the US-Australia Alliance, NATO and the future of the Asia-Pacific region up in the air.

So yes, like everyone I was a bit shocked by the result and as it continued to dominate the news the next day, I felt like I needed to clear my head and try to get away from it for a while. So I went down to the lake for the sunset.

It was a beautiful sunset and I just sat and watched it for a while as the sky turned a beautiful shade of purple and the reflections started to stretch across the water. After a couple of minutes I set my camera on my tripod and took a couple of long exposures to try to do the scene justice. This was one of them and I’m happy with how it came out, particularly the vibrant colours.

I felt better for my time by the lake. It was very peaceful and I think sometimes it helps just to get away from the world for a little while and not think about things too much. This definitely did that for me.

Sunset

I saw this woman walking her dog by the lake a little earlier as well and took a quick photo. She spent quite a few minutes standing there, watching the sun go down. I guess maybe she was reflecting on things too.

Photos and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2016

Pigeons Above the Gate

Pigeons Above the Gate

Life is
Full of surprises ~

We must try to welcome them
When they come

The weather has been really weird around Newcastle lately. We’ve had some really nice, warm days and then some bitterly cold, wet ones – sometimes we’ve had both in the same day and it’s been very frustrating.

That’s pretty much what happened yesterday. I was going to meet a group for a photowalk around the Newcastle Baths in the evening but I didn’t get there in the end as it poured with rain. I got about as far as the Customs House Hotel before the rain came and then it didn’t stop for hours.

I managed to find cover underneath an awning in Foreshore Park and while I sat around for a while, waiting to see if the rain would stop, I spotted this interesting gate nearby.

I found the different textures and the colours quite striking and I also liked how the pigeons were all in a row, sheltering from the rain. So I snapped a quick shot and I’m really pleased with how it turned out and the symmetry in the photo.

When I left to go to the Newcastle Baths yesterday I had a few ideas in mind but I certainly didn’t imagine I’d come across a photo like this. And I probably wouldn’t have if it hadn’t rained. It just goes to show how you should always be open to the world around you and not focus on just one idea or thing. You never know what you’re going to find.

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2016