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

Lake Macquarie and Newcastle 2019 Calendar

Lake Macquarie and Newcastle 2019 Calendar (digital)

Just a quick note. I’ve spent the last couple of months working on incorporating a store into the site and it’s live now if anyone wants to check it out.

I’ve had a small store on Etsy previously but I think it makes more sense to incorporate it into the site. And cheaper too.

All the photos are digital files so they can be printed at home or through a print shop or used as wallpaper, etc. They’re $12 each.

I’ve also just finished making a calendar for 2019 which is on the store now too!

The calendar features 12 of my favourite photos from around Lake Macquarie and Newcastle, including some that I’ve never posted before.

It was a lot of fun to make and I really wanted the calendar to capture the spirit and beauty of Lake Macquarie and Newcastle and I really like how it came out.

If you’re interested you can order it here. There’s also a digital version which avoids postage costs.

I hope you like it. 🙂

The Lake at Night

In the dark night
The world looks similar
But different;
I walk on

I took these photos along the Belmont lakefront last night. It was a lovely clear night and I thought it was a good chance to see how my new camera performed at night as well as to stretch my legs.

I used to do quite a bit of night photography in Sydney but it’s not something I’ve done as much of lately. I’ll have to do more of it. Night shots can look quite unique, particularly street photography, and I like how it can give a new perspective to subjects you’ve photographed before as well.

Photos 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

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

Playing with Fire

 

The photography group I’m part of here in Newcastle met over the weekend and we did something a little bit different from normal: rather than go for a photo walk or do some landscapes, we played with fire.

Fire is a really interesting subject to photograph as there are so many different ways to capture it and you’ll never get the same photograph twice. If you use a short exposure, you can freeze the flame and show its power; use a longer exposure and you can make the flame seem silky and fluid. You can even use sparks to draw in the air and create interesting patterns and images.

I’ve experimented with playing with fire and light before so I had some idea of what we’d be doing but it was a really fun evening and it was great sharing it with other photographers, swapping ideas. Our group’s organiser, Steve, was our fire model for the evening and enjoyed it so much that he didn’t even get to take photos himself!

We also were very careful about safety and made sure there was minimal danger. That’s one of the other things that has stopped me from experimenting with these kind of images more often as I don’t like shooting them alone, so it was great being with other people.

I was pleased with how the images came out and I particularly like the black and white ones. I like the mood and contrast and they seem to really pop in monochrome. I like the shooting sparks as well – they were fantastic and lots of fun to shoot.

Photos © CJ Levinson 2017

Float the Boat 2017

There was an interesting event on last Friday and Saturday near where I live in Lake Macquarie – the first annual Float the Boat parade, with over 20 boats decked out with bright lights sailing to light up the lake.

The idea was inspired by some of the flotilla light festivals that have been very successful overseas and the idea was to follow both sides of the lake, with Friday night’s flotilla starting at Marmong Point Marina and ending in Belmont, with the parade on Saturday night ending in Wangi Wangi.

I caught the parade at Belmont on the Friday and it was a really fun event – it was very cold and overcast but thankfully the rain held off and seeing all the boats and yachts lit up was fantastic. Some of the designs were very inventive as well; there was one of a shark I particularly liked and a lot of the kids watching nearby loved it too.

Taking photos of the parade was an interesting challenge. I enjoy night photography but it’s not often that I’d choose to shoot fast-moving subjects at night as it’s very hard to capture them without motion blur and my gear isn’t what you’d choose for the situation.

So I ended up settling for a bit of a compromise by trying to exaggerate the motion to create some interesting shapes, then once the boats had finished I walked round to the Belmont 16s and took some photos of the boats themselves. I quite like how the photos came out in the end.

I also took this video which shows some of the parade out on the lake.

It was a really fun event. The plan is for it to become an annual event and be even bigger next year so I look forward to seeing it again in 2018.

Photos and video © 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

Sitting by the Tree

The Two CJs by the Tree

Lights, music
Gifts under the tree:
Another Christmas
Has come again

Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating today. I hope you have a wonderful day with much joy and laughter and have a peaceful rest of the year.

I took this photo last night for a bit of festive fun. I was trying to think of what I wanted for Christmas, then it hit me – I could really use another pair of hands around the house, so I asked Santa for a clone. My wish came true!  Thank you Santa. 😀

CJ and Friend

I took this one too which was fun. We have three of these mice, they’re very cute. And mischievous as you can see.

CJ by the Tree black and white

And this one too. I try to do a photo in front of the tree each year. I like how this one came out in black and white.

Merry Christmas. I’ll have my annual Aussie Christmas song posted later tonight as well. 😀

Photos and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2016