The Empty Bench

The Empty Bench

I am like
This empty bench:
Worn, faded,
I sit and watch the world turn

This is a photo from my archives. I’ve not been able to get much further with my writing or take many photos recently, so I thought I’d take the chance to post this photo in the meantime as it’s one of my favourites and I don’t think many people have seen it before.

It’s of an empty bench near a small lake in Sydney’s Centennial Park and I took it almost two years ago now, just after I’d bought my first SLR and was going on a photo walk to try it out. The original photo was just a simple landscape shot and I was quite happy with how it turned out but on a whim I decided to come back to the photo again about a year later and I thought about how I could re-imagine it differently. The kind of stark, minimalistic feel of the photo inspired me to re-edit it more like a painting and this was the result.

I really like it and it’s definitely one of my favourite images. What I find really interesting though is how it shows that the process of editing never stops; you might think you’re done but every now and then it’s worth going back and looking at old images with fresh eyes because you never know, something new might emerge that you just couldn’t imagine before. I find the same is often true with my stories as well; I’ll often rework ideas from past abandoned stories into new ones and in ways I never would have imagined before. I guess it’s all part of honing your skills.

If you’re wondering where the haiqua came from as well, I’ve had a lot on my mind these last few weeks, so the haiqua is a bit of a reflection of that. I’ve always found that writing helps a little and while it is sad, it’s not meant to be particularly depressing; the world turns and the sun sets and rises each day, and life goes on. That’s what I take from the haiqua – that no matter how hard things get, the sun will always rise again tomorrow.

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2011-13
Like this photo? Click here to buy it for $5

Christmas in Photos

15 Frederick Street

Christmas light panorama from Frederick Street, Randwick

These are some of the other photos I took over the Christmas period. I had meant to post them before Christmas but didn’t get a chance to sort through them all in time, so I thought I’d post them now instead.

Most of the photos are from around Sydney, except for the first few which I took during my trip to Melbourne last month. The Christmas lights are all from houses in Frederick Street in Randwick, near where we live.

My favourites are the ones from around the Queen Victoria Building in the Sydney CBD, which was beautifully decorated this year. I had coffee there with my mother on Christmas Eve and was spoilt for choice, walking around, trying to work out what to photograph.

There are quite a few photos so I’ve split them after a page break to make it load faster and you can click on any of them to make them larger as well. I hope you enjoy them and that you had a wonderful festive break. ~ CJ.

Melbourne at Christmas

The Melbourne CBD, decorated for Christmas. I wish I’d spent more time wandering around as there was a lot I didn’t get a chance to photograph and the decorations were beautiful. Next year, I guess.

Melbourne Christmas Windows

Myer’s Christmas windows in Melbourne. This year’s window displays were based on Rob Scotton’s “Russell’s Christmas Magic” and there was also a separate window with a nativity scene.

Melbourne Christmas Windows

“Russell’s Christmas Magic” is about Russell the Sheep, who comes to the rescue when Santa and his broken sleigh are left stranded in Firefly Wood. It really felt like the book was coming to life.

Myer Melbourne Christmas windows

The sheep, Santa and reindeer were fabulous and most were fully articulating. The frogs were my favourite though – very cute.

Continue reading

Randwick War Memorial

The sounds of war
Echo across
The oceans of time:
We remember

Our local war memorial in High Cross Park, Randwick. I took this photo earlier today to mark Remembrance Day. The memorial was originally dedicated in 1925 and contains a scroll with the names of over four thousand Randwick residents who served in the First World War. Over time plaques remembering the soldiers of the Second World War, Borneo and Vietnam have also been added. Lest we forget.

Photo and haiqua © CJ Levinson 2012

Waverley Cemetery Panorama

Stone tombs
Looking out
Over an endless ocean:
They still remember

Took this panorama looking out across Waverley Cemetery and the ocean during the Bondi to Bronte beach walk we did last week. It’s a very peaceful spot and one of my favourites along the entire walk; the view is spectacular and I often like to stop there for a few minutes to think and enjoy the peace and quiet.

I know a lot of people find cemeteries quite eerie places but I’ve always found them interesting, particularly as subjects for photography and my writing. As a child we lived next to the cemetery at St. Jude’s Church while my parents worked there as vergers and I remember thinking about all the tombs and how sometimes they almost seemed like trees, listening silently to the world go by. I’m often reminded of that when walking past Waverley Cemetery as well, with all the old tombs looking out across the ocean, and that’s what inspired the haiku.

You can click on the photo to make it larger to see it in more detail as well.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2012

Bronte Beach Panorama

Walking across
Ancient shores,
Thinking of a time when
This land was free

Went for a walk with the wonderful @AlexandraRobin3 on Sunday and took this shot looking across Bronte Beach around midday, just before the beach started to fill up for the day. It was a beautiful day and we had a lot of fun taking photos, although we got badly sunburnt unfortunately – think it’s worth it though when you get shots like this.

Bronte’s one of my favourite beaches in Sydney; I like Coogee and Bondi too but Bronte has a different, more relaxed feel and it’s a great place to spend the day. If you ever visit Sydney, I highly recommend doing the Bondi to Bronte beach walk. It takes in most of Sydney’s most famous beaches and has beautiful views.

The finished photo is actually a panorama consisting of four separate photos which I combined in Photoshop Elements to give the elongated effect. I took it with my Canon 7D but most cameras (even phones) can do it if you like the effect – you just need to remember to keep your photos level and let them overlap enough so that you can join them together in something like AutoStitch (free) later.

The haiku was inspired by a feeling I had later in the day, when I was sitting with Alex and looking out at the ocean, thinking about what it must have looked like 250 years ago to the original Aboriginal landowners, before the intervention of Europeans. There’s a lot I’m proud of about modern Australia but I often feel sad about the amount we have lost as well and particularly how we have treated the first Australians… I couldn’t help but think of that while I sat there, watching the waves crashing against the sand, and so I guess that found its way into the haiku as well.

You can click on the photo to make it larger as well if you’d like to see it in more detail.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2012

Outside the Coach and Horses

Bright lights
Busy streets

Stretching without end:

Will they lead me home to you?

Looking across at the Coach and Horses Hotel in Randwick. The Coach and Horses is about five minutes from where I live and I often pass it on my way back home from a walk. It dates back to around 1859 and is still located on its original plot of land, making it one of the oldest still-functioning pubs in Sydney. It was also one of the first local buildings to be connected by telephone at the turn of the century.

It’s a very distinctive building but I’d never actually taken a photo of it before, so I’m quite pleased with how it came out. I think shooting it at night really helps to capture the mood of the building and I like the blurred movements of the cars as well… they help to make the scene feel more alive.

A few people have asked previously why I didn’t edit out the power lines in the photo. Well, the simple answer is, I don’t like editing my photos extensively unless I have to. I have nothing against editing but I dislike changing the feel of a scene completely and in my opinion, I would have if I had removed the lines here. It also would have taken a lot of time that I don’t really have at the moment, which was a consideration as well.

Overall I see my role as a photographer, particularly with landscapes and architecture, less about capturing reality per se as trying to best convey a scene the way I saw it in my mind and there are many ways of doing that (from in-camera to post-processing and HDR) but I don’t see the point in changing something so much that the original scene becomes less recognisable – like changing the colour of a wall, for instance, or removing a feature that relates to the main subject. To me, editing the lines out here would have removed too much of the reality and story from the photo and made it less interesting. I know not everyone agrees but that’s my philosophy and I’m happy with the photo the way it is.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2012

The War Memorial at Dusk

Randwick War Memorial

A list of names,
All that survives
Of a sad past:
History repeats

I took this photo a couple of days ago while going for a quick walk, just before dusk. I often find myself wandering past the local war memorial on my afternoon walks… it’s the main feature of a small, peaceful park in the middle of Randwick and I often stop there for a few minutes to reflect and gather my thoughts.

The memorial is made of sandstone and was originally unveiled in 1925 by Lord Forster, the then Governor General of Australia, to honour the soldiers of the First World War; the cenotaph contains a scroll with the names of over four thousand local residents who served in the war. Over the years plaques have been added to remember the soldiers of the Second World War, Borneo and Vietnam as well.

With more of our soldiers wounded in Afghanistan recently and with the current events in Syria as well, I guess I was feeling rather contemplative when I took the photo… something about the dusk light seemed to reflect the way I was feeling and I think it shows in the mood of the photo, and the haiku as well.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2012

The Great Clock in the QVB

The Great Australia Clock in the Queen Victoria Building

Watching days
Turn into years,
Pass before my eyes:
Time waits for no one

A belated Happy New Year to all of my friends and readers out there. I hope 2012 will be a good year for you and everyone close to you.

Thank you to everyone who left comments and sent me emails over the New Year. I had meant to post before now but unfortunately I haven’t been feeling that well lately, so this has been my first chance to post since Christmas. I will have an update about my writing and a few other things finished soon but in the meantime I thought I‘d post a quick photo.

I took this photo inside Sydney’s Queen Victoria Building just before Christmas. The clock is called the Great Australia Clock and is one of two beautiful mechanical clocks in the QVB. It’s ten metres tall, weighs four tonnes and is decorated with 33 dioramas depicting scenes from Australia’s history.

The QVB is one of my favourite buildings in Sydney and I’ve always admired this clock, not just for its ornate beauty but particularly because the dioramas show both Aboriginal and European perspectives on our history.

I edited the photo over the New Year, while I was thinking about how quickly the year had passed and everything that had happened, both personally and globally, and I guess that was what was on my mind when I wrote the haiku. Time seems to go by so quickly these days… all we can really do is hope to make the most of it.

Photo and haiku © CJ Levinson 2011
Like this photo? Click here to buy it for $5