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)

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

Sunset on the Lake

Sunset on the Lake

The sun sets
And a breeze blows
As I find a moment’s peace
From the world

I took this photo a couple of days ago, down by Belmont Wharf. It was a beautiful sunset and the colours reflecting off the water were spectacular.

It was very peaceful by the lake and a lovely way to end a long day.

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2016
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Some Thoughts on the Election

Like a lot of Australians, I’m still digesting the results – or rather lack of results – from Saturday’s election. I thought I’d share a few thoughts while it’s all still fresh in my mind.

  • At the moment we still don’t know the final result and won’t know until Tuesday at the earliest, probably later. Right now the most likely outcomes look like being either another hung parliament or possibly the Turnbull government just hanging on by the skin of its teeth and forming a slender majority by one or two seats. Either way it’s not what most people expected.
  • My overall impression of all this is, well, what a mess. The prospect of another hung parliament isn’t something I particularly relish; while the 2010 parliament did actually pass some good legislation, the whole process was so chaotic and there were so many wasteful promises that in the end it just seemed incredibly disorganised and unstable. Likewise the Turnbull government being returned with a tiny majority doesn’t seem very workable either as Turnbull would have to keep his entire party in line and that seems unlikely to say the least after this result.
  • Personally I was hoping that, whoever won the election, we’d get a clear result to end the chaos we’ve seen in the recent past. But now it looks like the only way to get that would be through another election, which would be expensive and after such a long campaign already, there’s very little appetite for that. And even if another election were held, there’s no guarantee we wouldn’t end up with a similar result either. So, yes. It’s all looking like a pretty big mess unfortunately.
  • To be honest, though, Turnbull only has himself to blame for this result. This should have been a fairly comfortable victory given his popularity after replacing Tony Abbott last year. But that support disappeared and then the Coalition’s entire campaign felt lacklustre and uninspired – we barely even heard about the main premise for the election throughout the campaign, the government not being able to pass its ABCC legislation, when you’d expect that to be one of the main issues. And that’s just one example. Likewise Turnbull seemed strangely disengaged, like the whole process was taxing and something he was simply enduring before getting back to the main business of running the country. Add a clever campaign by Labor built primarily around Medicare and this is the result, a government that may be on its way out after only one term.
  • So what went wrong? Honestly I think you’d have to say that most of this result is due to people becoming very frustrated with Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition in general. When Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott as PM there was a feeling of relief in the community, like Turnbull would be able to change direction and align the government more closely with public sentiment on issues like climate change and marriage equality. But the Turnbull who emerged as PM was not the one people expected; he was hamstrung by the right faction of his party and it gave the impression that he stood for nothing and had sacrificed his convictions to become PM. In the end it seemed like very little had changed, just the face of the government, and when you add in the disappointing campaign performance by Turnbull and the Coalition as a whole, it’s not that surprising that people turned to Labor and the minor parties as their trust evaporated.
  • To be fair to Turnbull, much of the public expectation when he became PM was unfair. He was never going to be the PM they wanted, not just because the right would go after him if he even dreamed of trying to be, but also because that simply isn’t who he is as a person or as a politician. He is a pragmatist and realistically the best chance Turnbull had to change the government’s direction was after the election, by winning with enough of a margin to claim a mandate and to slowly move the government more towards where he wanted them to be over time. The irony though is that he’ll probably never get that chance now as the result means he’ll have to be even more beholden to the right to survive – saying he can survive after this result.
  • While the Coalition’s campaign was lacklustre, I also don’t want to take credit away from Labor either. Labor did extremely well in the campaign and Bill Shorten performed extraordinarily well as leader. He transformed himself into a true alternative PM during the campaign and his enthusiasm and enjoyment for the process was infectious, which was particularly impressive given it was such a long, exhausting eight weeks.
  • Looking objectively, Labor ran a very professional campaign, particularly at the grassroots level, and they successfully presented themselves as a party with new ideas for the country. It’s no surprise that they emerged reinvigorated and that is the truly good thing to come out of this election; at the very least it’s shown that they’ll be a strong opposition and as any democracy is only as strong as it’s opposition, that’s a good sign. And they look capable if they do somehow claim government too.
  • The one thing I didn’t like about the Labor campaign though was the Medicare scare campaign. I thought they pushed it way too hard, particularly in the last week of the campaign. I don’t think it was accurate or necessary to go so far as to suggest that the government was thinking about privatising Medicare when there was little evidence of that; there was already enough concern over GP co-payments for Labor to make their case about health and Medicare and it took their campaign into negative territory which I didn’t like at all. But it worked and ended up being one of the biggest issues for them, so I can’t really argue with it, I guess.
  • Labor did very well but I think the big winner, though, was Pauline Hanson. At the moment it looks like One Nation has secured two senate spots and may end up with as many as four. It’s a remarkable resurrection for Hanson and will give her much of the balance of power in the senate.
  • I can’t begin to say how disappointed I am to see Hanson not only back but potentially wielding that much power. As far as I’m concerned One Nation is a party based on fear and ignorance and I despaired when I saw the result. Listening to Hanson today, it seems One Nation wants to abolish the Family Law Court and will be pushing for royal commissions into the science of climate change and to examine whether Islam is a “religion or a political ideology”. All of which sound utterly bizarre to me.
  • One Nation’s views don’t surprise me – it’s the same old ignorance, just with new targets – but I guess I am disappointed that, after twenty years, people continue to not be able to see through them as hollow and xenophobic. But to be honest One Nation’s success is not unique or even that unexpected, if anything it’s just another example of the continued rise of far-right parties and figures that we’ve been seeing around the world over the last few years. The same fears about immigration, muslims, the economy and the decline of the working class that drove the Brexit outcome and are behind a lot of Donald Trump’s support are the same reasons many people voted for One Nation too.
  • Given that trend and how many votes One Nation received in this election, you’d have to say that the main parties have good reason to be worried about the growing power of the far right fringe. It’s becoming harder to dismiss that support as just a small number of people; it’s a growing and very vocal minority that is very dissatisfied with the political system and wants to shake it up or overturn it entirely. I’m not sure what the parties can really do about those people either except to try to find a way to reengage with them, which would be very difficult, perhaps even impossible at this point. Either way, it gives a voice to some of these kinds of views for at least the next few years and will make negotiating with the senate a nightmare.
  • So how is all this going to play out? At this stage I really have no idea; the election is so close that pretty much anything could happen. I think the most likely scenario is a hung parliament with the Coalition getting about 74 seats but I honestly do not know how it would play out from there. If that were to happen I’m not sure I could see Labor securing enough crossbench support to form government, and while theoretically the Coalition could, I’m not sure how workable it would be or how tenuous Turnbull’s position would then become, particularly given the senate.
  • If I had to guess I’d say that I think the Coalition will just manage to form a minority government but I would not be at all surprised if it all falls apart very quickly. I also wouldn’t be surprised if neither party can form government and we have to have another election. Which honestly no one would be happy about but I think would probably be the fairest outcome at this stage.
  • Either way I just hope we get a result soon and that somehow, some way, whoever forms government manages to provide some kind of stability. The chaos has gone on for far too long. But I doubt it unfortunately.
  • What a mess.

Sydney Photo Collage #2

This is another collage of Sydney photos that I made recently. It’s the third collage in the series and I really like how it came out.

Like the second collage, the photos were all taken around places I knew well while I lived in Sydney like Centennial Park and the QVB but I tried to choose ones which were a little more recognisable this time, like Centrepoint Tower.

The photos were taken over about five years and several of these photos are actually among some of my earliest serious works – the one of the Bali Memorial statue, in fact, is actually the very first photo I ever took with an SLR.

I think they work well together and show glimpses of the Sydney I know and love, which is what I wanted to try to represent. I look forward to hanging it on my wall.

Photo © CJ Levinson 2016

Sydney Photo Collage

Collage 1

I finished the first of my Sydney photo collages earlier and thought I’d share it after sharing the Newcastle one yesterday.

I like how it came out, particularly the way the photos stand out from each other but also how the repetition of colours and styles gives it a feeling of consistency too.

I was aiming for something slightly different with this collage as the photos were all taken around where I used to live in Randwick and other places I used to visit regularly in Sydney, like Centennial Park and Queen’s Park. In fact the photo above the bottom right is of the Parish Centre at St Jude’s Church in Randwick, which is where I used to live with my parents in the early 1990s when they worked as vergers at the church (pictured on the left).

I chose the photos as I thought they worked well together and that it would be nice to have a reminder of my life in Sydney. It’ll look very nice once it’s printed and hung next to the Newcastle collage on my wall.

Photo © CJ Levinson 2016
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Election Thoughts + More Memes

Abbottlanche or Ruddicide

Congratulations to Tony Abbott and the Coalition. It’s only the seventh time in sixty years an elected government has been defeated, so it’s quite an achievement, particularly to topple a government that’s only been in for two terms. It’s something I never thought would happen when Abbott first came to the leadership, it seemed so unlikely and Abbott such an unlikely alternative PM. But the Coalition ran a very clever campaign and then again, I never thought I’d see a PM torn down in his first term either, so I guess it shows anything can happen in politics.

I’ll be frank: I did not vote for the Coalition and will never vote for the Coalition as long as Tony Abbott is leader. His policies and social attitudes scare the hell out of me and I’d much rather see Malcolm Turnbull as PM – if he had been, I would definitely have supported the Coalition and I think they would have won with an even bigger majority. But putting that aside, Labor didn’t deserve to be re-elected at all and only has itself to blame for the outcome. When you spend all your time fighting over the leadership, surrounded by bickering and countless distractions of your own making, rather than actually governing the country, you can’t seriously think the public is going to vote you back in.

The government’s problems are strange in some ways because it’s not even that they’ve been a particularly bad government overall when you look at their ideas and achievements, particularly the NBN and the NDIS, it’s really more that they’ve spent the last six years tearing each other apart from the inside out, have kept back-pedalling on policies that they had made into central platforms (you can’t say climate change is the “greatest moral challenge of our time” and then try to back away from it, for instance, it makes you look like flip-floppers at best and a party lacking moral integrity at worst) and that they’ve been completely incompetent in selling their achievements – especially the strength of the economy, which is relatively strong, particularly when compared to the rest of the world. Abbott’s been an effectively negative opposition leader but in normal circumstances there’s simply no way a government should find itself in this position after just two terms. Which is what I meant with the caption above – in the end I’m genuinely not sure if Abbott won this election or if Labor lost it and essentially committed suicide. Or maybe it’s a bit of both.

I’m not sure what kind of Prime Minister Tony Abbott is going to be and like I said, he wouldn’t be my choice by a wide margin on either side of politics, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and I hope he’ll be one who is consultative and doesn’t try to force an ideological agenda through parliament (although that is one thing that potentially concerns me about him). In many ways because he has been such an effective negative campaigner I don’t think the public has been able to get a real idea of who Abbott actually is (which incidentally I think is also why he’s always performed so poorly in leadership polls, because it makes it seem like he’s stilted and has no personality), so it will be interesting to see if we start to see a new side of Tony Abbott and perhaps that public view of Abbott starts to change. It’ll also be interesting to see how he goes on the international stage – I actually think that’s one area where he might do quite well, with the exception perhaps of our relationship with Indonesia, which will depend a lot on what happens with asylum seekers and the boats.

I also hope that we can start to put the misogynist statements to rest once and for all as well. Gillard’s speech on misogyny was one of the defining moments in modern Australian politics and on a wider level was very true but looking at it objectively, it was also at least a little unfair on Tony Abbott. There are many, many things I do not like about Abbott but he’s not a misogynist – his wife is an incredibly strong influence in his life, he’s helped to raise three daughters who seem to be incredibly intelligent and articulate young women that any parent would be proud of and he’s introducing a paid parental leave scheme that is very generous towards women. What Abbott is is very old fashioned and extremely awkward and gaffe-prone but that doesn’t mean he’s a misogynist. It also doesn’t mean that Gillard’s speech wasn’t true either, just that it was truer on a broader level about society and I think that’s why it resinated with so many people. But hearing people constantly calling Abbott a misogynist during this election – often I think without their even knowing what a misogynist really is as well – is one of the things that’s really grated on me and I’m hoping now people will at least try to give him the benefit of the doubt. No matter what you think of Tony Abbott, the office of the Prime Minister deserves more respect than that – just as it did when Gillard was PM and she was treated so abysmally, particularly by men, many of whom were in the media, and in her own party.

In any case I guess like everyone I’m mostly just relieved this bloody election is finally over. It’s been mind-numbingly tedious but good luck to the Coalition and here’s hoping the next three years won’t be as divisive as the last and the economy stays relatively strong.

I made some more election memes last night while watching the results come in as well, so I thought I’d post them with this for a bit of fun. The one about Jason Wood was just spur of the moment – I’d not heard his quote before and it came on during the coverage and my head just about exploded when I heard it. I used the photo of Gllard as that’s pretty much how I imagine she would have reacted when she heard it too – and it’s not a bad approximation of what my face was like too. I mean, seriously Jason, WTF?

Hope you enjoy them. Who knows, I might start doing these regularly as they seem to be popular. 😉

Budgie-Man

Batman, meet Budgie-Man, our new PM.

Rudd's Concession Speech

Bye Kev. Remember, PMs come and go, selfies live forever.

Genetically Modified WHAT?

Jason Wood, one of Australia’s great visionaries.

Finally Over

Here’s hoping.

Election Fun

Abbott and the Philosoraptor

I’ve been getting into the political mood recently by making some election memes. I’ve shared most of them on Twitter and Facebook but with the election on Saturday, I thought I’d post them here too.

For the record I don’t really lean towards one party or the other and I’ve tried to skewer both equally. It’s been fun making them… it’s been a very long, dull election and being able to poke fun at it all has really been the only thing that’s made it bearable.

Hope you enjoy them and if you’d like to share any of them, feel free. If I make more I’ll post them before the election too.

Kevin Rudd and the Milky Bar Kid

Is there something you need to tell us Kevin? The resemblance is uncanny.

Tony Abbott and Budgie Smugglers of Doom

Or maybe they’re his “budget” smugglers?

Coalition of Misogynists

Glad to say I don’t own many blue ties.

Julie Bishop's Death Stare

Wonder who’d win in a staring contest between Julie Bishop and Hillary Clinton?

KRudd and the Selfie Craze

Poor Kevin. He’s so misunderstood.

Tony and the Pony

We can trust them. They’re politicians.

The Real Reason We Need Fast Broadband

GoT. The real reason we need fast broadband.

Joe Scissorhands

No truth to the rumour that the scissors were removed from Julia Gillard’s back though.

Tony Grows Up

Sorry, everyone has to grow up some time Tony.