Sunday, 3 January 2016

2015 in Review.


My Mum always said that as you get older, the years go quicker.  Damn!  I must be getting older!

Looking back, it was a good year for my photography.  I got out and about with both digital and film cameras, I sold a few photos, licenced one and, printed and framed some to grace the walls of our home.  That's not too bad I think, considering I only rely on social media to present my work.

I also scrolled through pages and pages of film cameras on Ebay, looking for that elusive medium format bargain.  Saw many nice cameras on there but none that really met my criteria.

Anyway, here is a run down of what I got up to in 2015.

At the beginning of the year I went out and visited some rural areas.  Capturing some of the wonderful landscapes in this area where I live could easily be a full time job!  I wish someone would pay me to do that!  I especially love the old abandoned farm buildings that dot the lands; they have so much character and I often wonder what their story was in their heyday.

The Hunter River winds its way down to the sea and out at Newcastle.  There are some unique bridges spanning that river and its tributaries.  I planned a safari out to Elderslie and took some great photos of that bridge and the surrounding countryside.  To see more of that rural safari, visit my blog post that shows more images.  In 2016, I want to visit and document some more. 

An Old Barn on Sandy Creek Road, Mt Vincent.  If these places could talk!
The Elderslie Bridge spans the Hunter River at Elderslie.

In March, I visited the Beaumont Street Carnivale in Hamilton.  The street was closed off for food stalls, entertainment, market stalls.  Roving musicians and buskers mingled in the crowds who attended.  This lovely lady who dressed for the occasion, certainly did need her fan - it was an extremely hot day and by midday the heat reflecting off the asphalt was overwhelming.  I had taken quite a lot of street photos ( I arrived early in the cool of the morning) and by 2pm it was simply unbearable so I left before I started frying!  



My son, Lachlan, also has a love of photography.   Whenever we can, we organise a day out together.  On this particular day, we headed south from Newcastle and down to Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River.  What a perfect spot!  A lot of boating activity, and some drop dead gorgeous landscape and riverscape scenery.  Many houses are built on the river bank and nearly all have a small boathouse.  Some of the small islands and coves on the river are only reachable by boat.  It is quite idyllic.  In the photo below is Lachlan with the Mooney Mooney Bridge behind him.  You can visit this blog page to view more photos from that day out.




On April 25th, in Australia, we celebrate a very special day, ANZAC Day, honouring those who fought and remembering those who did not return from armed conflict.  The day starts with a Dawn Service which I attended at Speers Point and then, at about 10am, the Veterans and Community Clubs form up and march in a parade.  My mate, Glenn, was marching with his Unit, the Nr 1 Security Forces Squadron, RAAF, at Wangi Wangi.  The Wangi Wangi parade is unique in that the local RSL club has a great collection of war vehicles that are still operational.  These are used for the older veterans whose marching days are behind them.  I took some great photos this day but this (above) is my favourite.

In May, Kim & I drove to Queensland to visit my family and tie up a few things left over when my Mum sold her house and moved into aged care.  We had a fantastic time!  It was our first decent driving holiday in years!  We discovered AIRBNB before we left Newcastle and booked ourselves into a very nice 1 bedroom unit in Margate, just north of Brisbane.  Margate and Redcliffe areas turned out to be great.  Quieter than staying further south in Brisbane and with some nice pubs, restaurants and, cafes to eat at. 

On the way home we popped in for a few days at Coffs Harbour to visit some of Kims relatives.  I could spend a week or so in that area; so much to see and do and photograph!  The photo below was taken at Coffs Harbour after the sun had well and truly set.  I used a high ISO (6400) to capture the ambient light that was still hanging around.  Have a look and see what other photos I took on that holiday


Just south of the flagged beach at Redhead is a no leash area for dogs.  Most of the time we will go there and there will only be a few people and doggies around.  On this particular day, however, there were a lot of dogs!  I had taken my camera (Canon 600D) with me for some beach photos and ended up getting some cool photos of dogs just having fun!  This particular pooch didn't appear to be with anyone on the beach but, when I threw Barneys ball, he kept an eye on Barney and pretended to round him up like a calf that had strayed from the mob.  It is my fav photo from the day.


Gettin up early for Sunrise photos is getting more difficult each year!  Although it is cold, I prefer to get up early in winter because the Sun rises at a reasonable time during winter!  In summer, I would have to get up way too early to catch the Sunrise (although I am planning to do just that shortly!) 

Anyway, I took myself down to Booragul on the beautiful Lake Macquarie on this particular morning and I was so grateful that I did.  The lake was still with a glass like finish that reflected the light and subjects perfectly!  As we had just had some rain in the preceding days and because the weather had warmed up, there was a little fog sitting across the top of the lake and across the lake in the tree tops.  This was a very successful early morning safari and the results speak for themselves.


Back to Redhead Beach on a lovely cloudless day in October to document the sunset.  The dunes at Redhead create some awesome shadow areas, especially as the Sun gets lower in the sky.  Because at that time of year the Sun was setting at virtually a 45 degree angle to the beach, I found myself wading out into the shallow surf (hanging onto the Canon for dear life) to catch the reflecting golden light off the wet sand. I used a graduated filter to stop the bright sky from blowing out and ruining the exposure for the rest of the photo.  Redhead beach also gets a lot of mist from the crashing waves and, although I had to clean the lens quite a few times, it adds a fantastic, eerie feel to the photos taken looking down the beach.


November last year saw some inclement weather for a while.  Storms, winds, cloudy days.  The weather pattern along the east coast of Australia created some wonderful large swells and I took advantage of it to get some long exposure photos.  Merewether beach was an obvious spot to set up for this shoot.  It has a sandy beach area with rocks nearby.  Just south of the beach is the Merewether Ocean Baths and, just south of that are some great rock pools that look spectacular during a large swell.  The long exposure settings create a smooth misty look to the water as it pounds the rocks.


The last shoot 'big' shoot for 2015 was at Stockton Beach in Newcastle.  This beautiful family and I met up for some candid photos.  I love it when children can just run around and be children.  The facial expressions (happy and sad!) and body language is so natural and, for younger children who won't sit still for more than 5 seconds, I think it makes for a better portrait.  I shot with my 250mm zoom for this one; I prefer to maintain a comfortable distance to capture the moments as they happen.  

If you are a follower of my blog, you will know that I LOVE shooting film.  Now, a lot of naysayers will tell you that film is dead; it's an old technology.  If film is dead, why is it that the cost of film cameras for sale on websites like Ebay have increased over the last 12 months because of demand?  Why hasn't film disappeared from stores?  Why is it that some very well known movie producers are boasting that they shoot their movies in film?

I have a few film cameras and I like to take turns using each one.  I used a variety of films in 2015.  My favourite black & white film would be Ilford PANF Plus 50 (ISO 50) and a close second would be Fuji NEOPAN ACROS 100.  My favourite colour film I used in 2015 is AGFA Vista Plus 400; the colour I got from that roll was awesome!  My second choice for colour is Kodak Ektar 100 but, I also got some great results from a budget Fuji C200!

For my film development and scanning I go to Les Porter Photography for all my black and white development.  For colour development and scanning of all negatives I go to Pro-Am Colour Laboratories.  I did consider developing my own films but, I don't really have the volume of films to justify the expenditure.  My goal in 2016 however, is to purchase a scanner so I can scan all my own negatives.

These are just a few of my film photos from 2015.  If you are interested in seeing more, go to my film page here on my blog.

Kodak Ektar 100
Ilford FP4 Plus 125 - (this photo was very popular on my G+ page with a total of 12,600 views!)
Ilford PANF Plus 50 - my favourite B&W film.
Fuji NEOPAN Acros 100
Agfa Vista Plus 400 - the colour I got from this roll was great!
Ilford FP4 Plus 125
Fuji C200 - I love my Street Photography!
Kodak T Max 400 - (this was another very popular photo on my G+ page with over 15,000 views.)

As well has having a number of 35mm SLR cameras, I also own a Voigtlander Bessa 1 folding camera.  This camera is over 70 years old and still takes lovely sharp photos!  The photo below is my favourite from the Voigtlander for this year.  Taken from the Newcastle Harbour Lookout Tower looking down onto the Harbour Foreshore Boardwalk.  Medium Format film is 120mm film and is great for enlargements.  This particular photo was taken using Ilford PANF Plus 50 film.  

In 2015, I took 3 months off any new project to work on a new project with a difference.  I had become the guardian for hundreds and hundreds of historic family photos.  Some were still in very good condition and only required a digital scan.  Some, however, required the digital scan and hour and hours of restoration work.  Removing dust, age marks, wrinkles (where the photo had been bent), restoring missing pieces where perhaps a corner had been torn off or the emulsion on the photo paper had simply worn off.  One thing always leads to another and after I finished the restoration project, I went searching through some more recent photo albums to scan and digitise some of my immediate familys photos.  Sounds like a project for 2016!




Well, that was a brief look at my photography in 2015.  I have decided that in 2016, there are a few things that I need to do to enhance what I already have ..... 

Print my photos.  Yes, seeing them in print is wonderful!  The plan is to purchase an A3 printer so I can have more artistic control over my own work.  This is subject to an investigation as to whether printing my own photos at home would be a financially viable option.

Mount my photos.  We have a spare room now where I keep my camera gear.  I want to buy a work table and the proper equipment so I can mount my own photos for sale.

Scan my own negatives.  This would give me a little more artistic control over my film photography.  For medium format film, scanning can be a little expensive.  Given that I would like to increase my film output this year, the scanner would pay for itself in no time.

Do more portraiture!  I never tire of landscapes.  I love Street Photography.  One thing I have to do more of in 2016 is portraits!

Get myself another medium format film camera.  I have been looking at the Hasselblads, Mamiyas, Bronicas etc etc.  Although something of that ilk would be great, the one camera I have always had in the back of my mind is a Pentax 645.  If I am to do more portraiture then I want to do film as well as digital.

Get up earlier!  To catch the sunrise!  Well.... yeah....  might just play this one by ear!

Well, a new year beckons.  I wish you all happiness and health for 2016!

 Jordy