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.

The Obelisk

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The Obelisk

For one hundred and seventy years
I have stood high atop this hill
A lone sentry watching over
The ever-changing skyline below
This place changes constantly
The boundaries always shifting
As the water meets the city
And the city meets the bush
Yet through all the changes
Still I remain
Standing tall
Surveying the world below

I was built as a guide for the mariners
A beacon on the hill
Where the old windmill used to stand
In my heyday I was magnificent
A gleaming monument
Visible for miles along the coast
During storms and calm seas alike
I would point you towards
The port of Newcastle
With its promise of safe harbour,
A hot meal, a warm bed,
And work in its growing industries

But now I am older
And the world I knew has changed
I have lived through great wars
And seen times of depression and despair
I have seen the birth of Federation
And watched the rise and fall of kings
I have been burnt by lightning
Broken by earthquakes
Desecrated by vandals
Surrounded by weeds
Oh the stories I could tell
But no one wants to listen

And so after almost two centuries
Still I stand here
Atop this hill
Watching the world go by
And I find myself wondering,
Will I still be here in another century
Or will I have been replaced
By something new?
Something more like the buildings below
That have replaced the green trees
That were once my friends
But now are only memories from long ago

Poem and photo © CJ Levinson 2018

Ghosts on the Sand

Ghosts on the Sand

Ghosts on the Sand

Wet feet
Childish laughter
Footprints in the sand:
Memories to cherish

I took this shot at Nobby’s Beach in Newcastle earlier this afternoon. It was a bit of a tricky shot as while I liked the way the light was falling on the headland and how it contrasted with the water and the rocks, there was an ugly wire fence in the way and none of the compositions I tried seemed to work very well.

I finally managed to find this composition by pushing the camera through a small space in the fence and just as I was ready to take the shot, a couple of children wandered into the bottom left of the frame. They had lots of fun running up to the water and jumping in, then squealing and rushing back the other way as the tide suddenly came back in.

I thought I’d try to capture some of that in the photo so I set up for a longer exposure. This was the result, I really like it… the motion blur’s almost made them look like ghosts playing on the sand. It captures the scene quite nicely.

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2018

Rise to Save Our Coast

Rise for Climate Newcastle Panorama

Rise for Climate Newcastle Panorama

The Rise for Climate event was on this Saturday, September 8. You may have seen some of the news reports about it over the weekend but if you didn’t, Rise for Climate saw hundreds of cities and towns around the world join together to hold peaceful protests and rallies calling on the world’s leaders to take action on climate change.

It drew some huge crowds around the world, particularly in the US and San Francisco where thousands marched ahead of the Global Climate Action Summit to be held in San Francisco next week.

Here in Newcastle, the RISE to Save Our Coast rally at Newcastle’s beautiful Bar Beach was organised by Stop Seismic Testing Newcastle and was attended by hundreds of people from all across Newcastle and the Hunter. It was a great event and the energy was fantastic despite it being a very cold and windy day.

Originally I didn’t think I was going to be able to go to the event as I had plans in Sydney for the weekend. But I ended up having to raincheck and in the end it worked out well as I was able to attend after all.

I shot the rally with a couple of other members of the photo group I’m part of and it was a busy hour of shooting but a lot of fun. It was very overcast and damp which was challenging at times but the atmosphere was amazing regardless and the clouds actually gave a nice soft, moody light that really suited the feel of the event.

Afterwards I went to a McDonald’s nearby and frantically edited some of the photos on my laptop to upload as soon as I could. We wanted to get them up within an hour if possible so the rest of the world could wake up to the event – it was tight but we just managed it. I don’t think I’ve ever edited so fast in my life.

I’m pretty happy with how the photos came out. I’d never shot an event like this before and I think most came out well and I definitely learnt a lot. On top of that this was only the second time I’d used my new camera so in the midst of running around like a demented chicken, I was still trying to work out how everything on the camera worked. Note to self: maybe don’t switch camera systems right before an event next time, CJ.

More importantly, though, it was great to be a small part of a cause I really believe in. I’m a pragmatist so I don’t expect the world to change overnight but unless we as citizens speak up and call for change, there is no incentive for our leaders and politicians to ever act decisively on climate change (or any issue). I see events like this as a vital part of that.

And, hopefully, part of leaving the world a better place for our children and grandchildren to live in.

I hope you enjoy the photos.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2018

Newcastle Customs House

Customs House Hotel

Customs-House-watermark

This is one of my favourite buildings in Newcastle, the Newcastle Customs House. It’s a beautiful masonry building designed by James Barnet, who as the New South Wales Colonial Architect also designed many of NSW’s most distinctive buildings, like the General Post Office in Sydney’s CBD.

I particularly love the tower; it’s 32 metres high and the clock, lantern and time ball are still intact, one of only three such examples in Australia. It must have been quite a sight in its heyday.

The building is heritage listed and known as the Customs House Hotel now and run as a popular restaurant and bar. You can still really feel the history though and they’ve done a great job of preserving the old while welcoming the new too.

I’ve tried taking photos of the building before but I’ve never been very happy with the results. It’s quite a tricky building to photograph, particularly at night. I’m happy with this one though. It feels bold and dramatic, which I think it needed to be to do the building justice.

Customs House Hotel black and white

 

I also like it in black and white. It feels a little more timeless and I think that suits the building too, in a different way.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2018

Golden Trees

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Never have I seen
A tree or lake
That could not take
My breath away

Beautiful light on the Newcastle foreshore last Sunday afternoon. I was heading to the ocean baths to shoot the sunset and stopped quickly to shoot this scene on the way. The light was amazing… I was definitely lucky to be in the right place at the right time!

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2018

The Leaning Tree

I am like a tree
The wind blows me to and fro
But still I stand tall

I spotted this tree on the Newcastle foreshore while shooting the sunset last week. I thought the way it was leaning was interesting and I really liked the way it framed the scene and the dying light.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2018

Nobbys Lighthouse at Night


I watch the stars shine
Over the ocean
While waves crash
And the wind roars

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago while on a photowalk in Newcastle. I’d started to pack up my gear after getting a few shots of the sunset over the Newcastle ocean baths and with night setting in, there didn’t seem like much point hanging around.

On my way back, though, I stopped to look at Nobbys Lighthouse for a while. I’ve always liked the lighthouse but whenever I’ve tried to photograph it I’ve often struggled to get a photo I’ve been happy with, one that feels unique.

Looking at the scene now though, with the stars out and the water reflecting the light, I thought it looked quite striking and might make for a really interesting and different photograph. So I quickly set up my tripod to take a few shots.

Shooting at night, particularly with a moving subject, is often tricky as you need to balance quite a few factors to get your composition and exposure right, most notably your aperture and ISO. I find it takes some experimenting to get it right and it took me quite a few shots to get the effect I was looking for.

I like the result though. The colours and the contrast with the dark sky really make the image pop for me and I find it very peaceful, which was what I was hoping to capture. I’m definitely glad I stopped!

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2017

On Nobbys Beach

I’ve got sand
Stuck in my shoes,
Reminds me of us
And who we were

We had a beautiful Autumn day yesterday, sunny blue skies and nice and warm with a cool breeze, so I thought I’d make the most of my Saturday and go for a photowalk.

I’d not gone on one in a while and I decided to go to Nobbys Beach in Newcastle as the last time I went I didn’t get to photograph the lighthouse there and I thought a beautiful day like this might be the perfect chance!

Well, that was the idea anyway… turned out I didn’t quite make it to the lighthouse. I found a few other great spots first – and then suddenly the best of the light was gone and I still hadn’t reached the lighthouse. Oops!

Oh well. Next time I guess. I still got some good photos and it was a beautiful sunset. What better way to spend the end of a beautiful Saturday? 🙂

Photos and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2017