Sunday, 21 January 2018

Ocean Swells and Nobbys Breakwall - Newcastle, Australia


During the past few weeks, the temperature has ranged from over 40° C (that's 104° F) down to 16° C (60.8° F) and back up again.  The changes in between have been heralded by thunderstorms and very windy conditions.  These conditions and the resulting windy days have resulted in large ocean swells battering the east coast of NSW.  Of course, this has made for some great photography opportunities.

On this Tuesday afternoon just gone, I visited Merewether Ocean Baths and Nobbys Breakwall to catch some of this big action.  

The Merewether Ocean Baths were a little difficult to navigate.  The winds were whipping up sand from the beach into tiny missiles that quickly got into eyes and ears.  I was extremely careful with my camera trying to protect it from those damaging little particles.  Not only that but, the big waves crashing on the rocks was creating that green, foul smelling foam that was getting blown everywhere.  Some of it blew onto my face and glasses.  I wiped my face with my shirt sleeve but nothing I had could clean that gunk off my glasses!

Anyway, I persevered and got some shots in.  I mounted the Canon onto a small tripod to try and get some low down shots.  This is where a moveable LCD Screen comes in very handy.  Anyway, I had the shot lined up as I sat on one of the benches. A large wave broke over the side of the ocean baths and sent a swell through the pool.  It hit the side near to where I was sitting.  I quickly picked up camera and bag out of the waters reach and as I stood up the water hit the bench and sprayed up soaking me from the waist down!  The wind quickly dried my shorts but I squelched around in soaked, sand filled shoes for the rest of the afternoon!

After I left Merewether I drove up to Nobbys Beach.  The beach was closed to the public due to the large swells.  I walked up the breakwall, past the Lighthouse and Meteorology Station to the end  where the swell breaking against the breakwall rock was creating some huge action.  I had my 55-250mm zoom with me because I figured I could stand back away from the action and simply zoom in to the end of the breakwall to catch it all.  Unfortunately, half of the town had the idea of visiting the breakwall to catch the action too; so many people walking into shot and in front of me quickly ruined any opportunity.  So, I figured I had to move closer.  This got me and the camera little wetter but for a while it was totally worth it.  Luckily I had a cleaning cloth in my camera bag to wipe off the sea spray from the camera and keep the lens clear.

To get a photo of these enormous waves as they hit the breakwall and shattered into huge explosions of water spray, I had to hold the camera up all the time and get the shot as the action happened.  I was in such a position when I heard a woman speaking to me...'scuse me but are you taking photos?'  Because I was busy snapping away, it was a few seconds before I looked at her.  'Are you taking photos?' she asked again.  I looked at her incredulously, held up a camera and said half laughing, 'Seriously?  What do you think?'  She and her friend didn't say anything so I turned and lined up another shot.  They both then walked straight in front of me into the shot, stopped, and started taking photos with...... their phones.....Sigh.....

Nobbys Breakwall and the Stockton Breakwall form the entrance into Newcastle Harbour.  Until the other day, I never knew that this is a popular spot for surfers due to the waves forming off the breakwalls as they roll into the harbour entrance.  So, while I waited for the people to clear the scene, I was able to check out the surfers who were taking advantage of the great waves and subsequent pipeline provided by the ocean swell running into the harbour.  Those photos to come later though.

I am very happy with this series of photos.  The amazing shapes to come out of the water after they were smashed to pieces on the rocks was fantastic.  I have learned something though.  Next time this phenomenon occurs, I have to get down there as the tide is coming in; much bigger waves!  Also, get some shots from the southern side of the breakwall as that will show the size of the waves as they crash over the breakwall.

Part of my workflow when editing is to look at photos in black & white.  Sometimes a photo looks heaps better in black & white than it does in colour, as it did with these photos.  The colour photos in this post were edited in Lightroom initially (straightened, sharpened) and then exported to Nik Collections Colour Efex programme.  In that software I used the Detail Extractor tool and the Kodak Ektachrome 64 preset, which really made the colours pop!  Once I had saved them back to Lightroom, I opened some for a black & white edit into the Nik Collection Silver Efex PRO plugin.  This is a really fantastic programme for black & white editing!  I used the 'Film Noir' preset there and  made some of my own adjustments to that template before saving that back into Lightroom.  From there I exported into Photoshop where I made some edits on both black & white and colour photos with the Dodge and Burn tools, adjusting individual midtones and highlights before saving the final edit.

So, here they are.  Click on the photos to view them larger for a better experience.  Enjoy!

The photos on this post and corresponding Google+ page are
© Life with Jordy Photography, All Rights Reserved and may 
not be used without permission.

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I had to put this photo up as the first because then it will show up on the thumbnail when I share the page link through on my other social media pages.  Below is the colour version and although the colour looks great, I much prefer the black & white version.


Some of the Merewether Ocean Baths action.

Merewether Ocean Baths - Newcastle, Australia.  These waves look big here
 but not half as big as what was happening up on the breakwall further north.

It was still relatively calm enough in the baths to take a swim, even with all of
the action occurring in the background!














Here you can see a couple of surfers making their way down the rocks of the breakwall
to jump off into the water.  I have some great photos of the surfing
that afternoon also; keep watching for the next post!



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