Newcastle Ocean Baths in Black & White

The Newcastle Ocean Baths is my favourite spot to shoot in Newcastle. There’s just something about the light and all the interesting areas to shoot and the rich textures that really inspires me when I’m there. I think it’s almost impossible to get a bad shot there.

I did a photo challenge at the Baths with my Newcastle photography group last weekend. The idea was to try to shoot in a way that you normally wouldn’t so I used a filter on my camera to shoot entirely in black & white. At the time I thought it was going to be quite limiting but it was actually fantastic. There’s something about seeing your composition in b&w at the time rather than converting it later that feels really liberating and I almost felt like I was seeing the place with new eyes.

I’ll have to do the challenge again from time to time just to change things up. Maybe try shooting with a different lens too. I hope you like the photos.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2019

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

Central Street Revisited

Central Street Revisited

Central Street Revisited

Just a day, just an ordinary day
Just trying to get by
Just a boy, just an ordinary boy
But he was looking to the sky
~ Ordinary Day, Vanessa Carlton

I took this photo about a year ago during a day trip to Sydney. It’s of one of my favourite spots for street photography in the Sydney CBD, Central Street, a little avenue opposite the Event cinemas on George Street.

I’ve taken several photos there over the years, including this one which is one of my favourites. It’s a great little spot to go back to as the scene is always changing and there’s always something new and interesting to photograph.

I was quite happy with how this one turned out. It’s very simple but captures a slice of ordinary life that I find really interesting and I like the tones and textures as well.

The area looked very different the last time I was down as well with all the construction going on at the moment. I’ll have to get a couple of photos of that too.

Photo © CJ Levinson 2017

Sunday Afternoon on the Lake

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Another weekend
Comes and goes
With the setting sun –
Time marches on

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It was quite cool and a little overcast yesterday, the perfect kind of weather for black and white photography, so I went for a walk with my camera down by the lake to see what I could find.

The water was lovely and still and I was quite happy with how these two shots came out. I like how they look in monochrome and I particularly wanted to capture the relaxed feeling out on the lake and I think that comes across well. I can imagine far worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon! 😀

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2017

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

Branch in Black and White

Branch Against the Sky

We are all branches on
The tree of life;
We blow with
The winds of change

This is from a tree just outside my flat. It’s quite a small tree with very fragile, spindly branches and I noticed it blowing madly in the wind a few days ago while taking some sunset photos. I really liked the silhouette it made against the sky and thought it would make an interesting black and white image. I find it quite striking in a minimalist kind of way.

Photo details: Olympus OM-D E-M1 + 40-150mm f/4-5.6
1/1000 sec @ f/5.6, ISO 200

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2014

Tanker in Black & White

Tanker in Black & White

A tanker waits
On the ocean
While the wind blows
And the eagles soar

A tanker on the ocean this afternoon. I was trying to create a kind of film-like look in editing it; I used to love shooting with film when I was younger and much as I love digital photography, it often doesn’t have quite the same feel. Fairly happy with how this came out in the end; it’s not the same as film but does reminds me a little of some of the Fuji and Kodak films I used to shoot with. Happy memories.

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2013

Dreams

Stone Cross

Burnt alive in a house fire
Choked to death in my own bed
Overdosing on morphine
Shot four times in a robbery gone wrong
Drowning in a pool of water
Stabbed to death in a fit of jealousy
Pushed from a great height
Beaten and left for dead in the middle of nowhere

And she finds me in the night
And holds me and says it’ll be okay
She holds me and says it’ll be okay

Thrown out of a moving train
Sucked out an airlock into the vacuum of space
Going down in an aeroplane
Hanging on to a railing for dear life
Jumping from a high balcony
Hit by a car while crossing the road
Killed in a terrorist attack
Executed as an innocent man

And she finds me in the night
And holds me and says it’ll be okay
She holds me and says it’ll be okay

Betrayed by my best friend
Flatlining on the surgeon’s table
Crucified next to Jesus
Suffocated in my sleep
Crushed in an earthquake
Mauled to death by wild animals
Struck down by a heart attack
Dying in my old age sad and alone

Every night I dream these dreams
I dream of death and an endless pain
I dream of my death again and again

Electrocuted by a faulty wire
Set on fire for speaking heresy
Praying for mercy to a god I don’t believe in
Dying of a broken heart

And she finds me in the night
And holds me and says it’ll be okay
She holds me and says it’ll be okay

She holds me and says it’ll be okay


I wrote this poem last night after lying awake most of the night with a series of vivid nightmares. Each time I closed my eyes I saw myself dying and it’s been happening off and on for most of this week. I had similar dreams a couple of years ago when I went through a traumatic period and I guess everything we’ve been going through recently, first with my father and losing our home and now with my grandparents’ dementia as well, has reawakened some of those dreams and flashes.

I was debating about whether or not to post this as it’s so personal and I didn’t want to worry anyone or give them the wrong idea about what I’m feeling (that I might be suicidal or something). I decided to in the end as part of the process of dealing with all this is opening up and making my feelings public. I don’t think it’s my best poem but it’s not meant to be. It’s meant more as a stream of consciousness and in a small way writing it has helped me to deal with some of the shit I’m going through at the moment, which is all I wanted it to do and I’m happy with how it came out.

The photo is one I took a couple of years ago, of a grave in the cemetery of St Jude’s Church in Randwick. I’ve always liked it and the atmosphere in the photo and I thought it suited the poem quite well.


Photo: Stone Cross © CJ Levinson 2011
Poem licenced under Creative Commons