Sunset 9/9/17

Pelican on the Lake

Oh to have the wings
And grace of a pelican
How far I would fly

It was a lovely warm day in Newcastle today; while the nights are still cool, the days are very pleasant at the moment and it’s starting to feel like Spring has sprung. Which is good for me as I find staying motivated difficult during the colder months – I love Winter itself but I pretty much just want to rug up and stay indoors a lot of the time. So I’m glad it’s getting warmer now and I’m starting to feel like shooting more regularly again.

Given it was such a nice day I wandered down to the lake for an hour or two to catch the golden hour and the sunset afterwards. I got a couple of decent shots and really like this one. The pelican came into the frame just as I was about to take another shot, so I quickly readjusted and managed to catch it before it passed. Good timing!

The sky was very vibrant and I didn’t need to edit this too much beyond just some fairly basic adjustments. When you get a sunset like this nature’s beauty speaks for itself.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2017

Belmont Sunset

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The light on the lake
Shimmers like golden fire,
Reminds me of you

I took this photo last week while walking home after doing some shopping. I wasn’t expecting to take any photos and didn’t have my best gear with me but the light was so beautiful that I knew I had to stop and try and take a photo anyway. I’m happy I did as it turned out well in the end. It’s true what they say, the best camera really is the one you have with you.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2017

Dusk Silhouette

Belmont Dusk Silhouette

Blue and yellow skies
Fade across the horizon
As day turns to night

I took this photo a couple of days ago when I went down to the lake to catch the sunset. I took a whole bunch of sunset shots but I actually liked the ones I took around dusk more in the end. With this one in particular I thought the colours really seemed to pop and it just felt very peaceful.

I took a photo for a nice couple while I was there as well. They wanted a nice silhouette with their phone of them looking toward the setting sun. I was already setting up for the above image at the time so it was interesting that they wanted something similar. Great minds think alike, I guess.

I like how my photo turned out and I actually edited it on a 12.9 inch iPad Pro I bought recently, which was very interesting. Very different to how I normally edit photos but I can definitely see it becoming part of my workflow going forward as it’s so immediate.

I think I’ll post a review or some impressions soon; maybe it’ll help someone and it’ll give me an excuse to play around too!

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2017

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

Dusk on the Lake


Sitting by the lake
I watch the light fade away
And day turn to night


I was planning to go for a photowalk this past weekend but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to. I always feel a little more tense when I haven’t shot anything for a while so I thought I’d try to go down to the lake this afternoon to take some photos and shake off the cobwebs.

Unfortunately though it was pretty cold and overcast for most of the day and for a while I didn’t think I’d get there; it was very apt weather for a Monday but not particularly inspiring for photography! But luckily it cleared just before sunset and so I managed to go for a quick walk and take these.

The light was quite interesting and I really liked the interplay with the clouds and the rays shining through… it felt quite dramatic and I like how that’s come out in the photos.

I got a couple of other shots too that I haven’t edited yet and may end up posting tomorrow – originally I was planning to do somethink in black and white today and I’d still like to. I think a couple of them will really pop in monochrome.

Photos and haiku © CJ Levinson 2017

Blue Hour on the Lake

Blue Hour on the Lake

A hot Summer’s day
Begins to fade into night
As birds sing farewell

It’s been very hot again this last week so I haven’t been able to get out and photograph as much as I would have liked to. As you can probably tell I’m not much of a Summer person so I’m definitely looking forward to the beginning of Autumn soon!

I did manage to get down to the lake once it had cooled off a bit this evening though and I took this while I was down there. It was a little after sunset, right in the blue hour, and I thought the still water and the yachts made for an interesting contrast with the clouds and dying light.

Most photographers love shooting in the golden hour (the period just before sunset) and I do too but on the whole I actually prefer shooting during the blue hour personally (late dusk). I find it works very well for creating drama and mood and often produces very strong black and white photos.

I mention it as I know a lot of people leave straight after photographing a sunset but if you have time, try hanging around for a while afterwards – you might get something interesting and a little different in the blue hour.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2017

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

Across the Lake

Across the Lake

The passage of time
Marks us all differently
But leaves none behind

I took this photo at the same time as the ones in my last post. It was a lovely sunset and as the light started to fade afterward, the lake started to become quite ethereal and very beautiful so I used my tripod and an ND filter to take a longer exposure to try to capture the remaining light in the scene.

A long exposure means using a slow shutter speed and that also helps to blur the appearance of water so getting the timing right was a bit of a juggling act as I still wanted to include some motion in the image rather than have the water be totally still. I settled for about 1.5 seconds in the end and it worked well – it feels dreamy but not too dreamy and I really like the final image.

It also made me think about the idea of time slowing and passing and how it changes us all, which inspired the haiku.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2016

Water on the Rocks

Water on the Rocks

Nature’s full power
Can be a terrible thing
But beautiful too

It was very windy this afternoon and the water was very choppy on the lake when I went for a walk earlier to watch the sun go down.

I tried taking a few photos of the water but the choppiness made the images seem a bit too busy so I thought I’d try to give the water a smoother look instead.

I took this at 1/3 of a second and I like the effect; it’s smoother but you still get a sense of movement and power which is what I wanted too.

I actually took this handheld as I didn’t have a tripod with me. The image stabilisation in my Pen F is excellent and helps me to get sharp shots I never would get otherwise. I can’t imagine shooting without that stabilisation anymore.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2016