Norah Head Lighthouse under the Milky Way

Went out with a friend last night to shoot a bit of astro. We went to Norah Head lighthouse on the Central Coast and I managed to get this despite battling the light from the lighthouse. Really like how it turned out.

It was nice being out under the stars again. I love the solitude and the perspective you get when you’re out shooting, particularly the moments between shots, standing there, staring up at the stars. It really makes you realise just how small a part of the universe we are. And how lucky we are to be here at all.

Photo © CJ Levinson 2020

Silhouette by the Lake

A young woman
Sits by the lake
As the sun sets
On another day

I took this shot yesterday evening while going for a walk along the lakefront. I loved the way the light was hitting the water and I was trying to work out a way of showcasing that when this young woman sat down for a breather right where I was looking at shooting.

Normally I would have asked if she minded being in the shot but with social distancing at the moment and as I was shooting telephoto and she was a fair way away, I couldn’t really ask. So I decided just to snap a quick shot but make sure she was in silhouette.

I like how the shot came out and it’s really about the contrast between light and dark so the silhouette works really well for the shot.

For what it’s worth I’m not really someone who likes taking photos of random people but I started out with street photography where having people in the shot can often add to a photo so I developed my own set of rules for what I was comfortable with and I’ve pretty much stuck to them ever since.

My rules are, if I can ask first I will but when that’s not possible, if someone walks into my shot or if having someone in the shot adds something interesting to the photo, then I’m okay with it. But the shot mustn’t put them in an unfavourable position and I prefer not to have them be obviously recognisable if possible. And if anyone would rather not have been in a shot, I’ll delete it no questions asked.

Basically I try not to be a dick. It’s not that hard really and it’s worked pretty well so far!

Haiqua and photo © CJ Levinson 2020

2019 Favourites

My 5 favourite photos from 2019 and a mix of my other favourites below.

It’s been interesting looking back over the year, I can see where a few themes developed that I wasn’t aware of at the time.

For one, I definitely photographed a lot of jetties and wharves! There are still quite a few around Lake Macquarie that I haven’t been to yet though, I might do some of those over the next year.

It was fun doing some astro photography as well. Definitely something I want to do more of in 2020.

I hope you like the photos. They’re in the order they were taken.

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Sunset 17/12/19

A bright sun descends
From an orange sky,
A portent
Of things to come

Watching the sun go down from the lookout at Green Point Reserve. After the weeks of smoke in the air from the bushfires, it was nice seeing the sun and a clear sky again, even if it’s probably not going to last for long unfortunately.

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.

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

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

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