Jul 12, 2010

From Dawn To Dusk On The Blue Mountains.

If there is an upside to being on the road in Sydney at 5.45 am on a Saturday, it would be the distinct lack of other traffic.  I sailed through my usual congestion points as I headed west and out of the city.

I hit the M4 in record time.  It's now toll free.  I can now state for the record that the McDonalds on both sides of the M4 are open 24 hours and have McCafes.  It's amazing how I couldn't get the answer to this by googling.  

The drive was really easy and the roads are in great shape.  To get to the Blue Mountains, all I really had to do was make sure I stayed on the Great Western Motorway once I got off the M4.  The reason why I was on the road at such a crazy hour was that I was attending a photography course run by Matt Lauder. The aim of the day was to travel through the area and learn something about landscape photography.  

The trip is  open to photographers of all levels.  There were 7 in our class and we fell into 2 groups of experience.  A few were pretty experienced already with landscape photography so had the filters necessary for those spectacular shots as well as a working knowledge of photo editing (is nothing as it seems  in professional photography?).  I was the only person in the group whose idea of editing was cropping off edges and putting a watermark on my blog photos......  The rest of the group had a solid background in the basics and were looking at getting exposure to a subspecialty of photography.

We began the day at Jamison Lookout at the Wentworth Falls.  The idea being for us to take our own shots before the instruction  began.  Hopefully, I'd be able to pick up some tricks during the day.  I have a tendency to reducing any natural wonder to  identical arrangements of tree tops, rocks and strips of cloudy sky.....

There was a beautifully thick blanket of fog at dawn and it began to look like the Mists of Gondor (was that Yoda's home in Star Wars?) as the sun rose higher in the sky.

I got distracted from the unfolding beauty of the day by my desire to fall back onto my 'fly on the wall aspiring photojournalist mode' and started snapping the people and the man made scenery.  Woops.

The lookout is a popular picnic spot complete with benches and toilets.  There is an ice cream van even in winter.  Be warned - there is no place for your rubbish.  You have to take home with you everything that you brought at the start of your trip.

There are a number of easy walks that originate from the lookout. we went down to the Leura Falls.  The walks are all well built and easy to negotiate in sturdy footwear.

The Pool Of Siloam.

My red backpack with the two Hello Kitty's, starring in its own happy snap.  It's living on the edge, literally, something managed to tear off a section of the metal handrail.  I think it was a rogue tree trunk during the heavy rains and storms.

Looking down from the falls was a breathtaking view.  I have never seen anything that fit the term 'rolling mists' quite like this.

My tripod and Ikea thermos taking a break next to the falls.  The comfort factor of a thermos of hot camomile tea can never be underestimated. 

An aerial view of my group as we explored the angles of the falls.

Our next location was Australia's very own Grand Canyon, in Blackheath.

If I was reminded of Gondor earlier, my thoughts now turned to The Hobbit.  

Human interest etchings on some rocks near the lookout where we were shooting.

Landscape photographers have many tools at their disposal to get those perfect shots.  It was fascinating to watch and learn about some of these.  Obviously, their cameras are on a completely different level to what I have.  Panoramic shots are often individual photos 'stitched' together and painstakingly tweaked for a seamless final image.  There is also the manipulation of light and exposure.  Sometimes a photo is made up  of several images super imposed, taking the best elements of each image to get one final perfect shot.

But the technique I was most interested in was the use of neutral filters to create a perfect sky whilst allowing the shady foreground to be exposed in detail.

The following photo was taken of the Three Sisters using some borrowed filters.  Just look at that sky!!

This photo also benefitted from the miracle that is the judicious use of a few neutral filters.

I was exhausted by the end of the day and my back was paying the price of having stood all day, literally from dawn to dusk.  However, it was a very rewarding day.  I feel that I've achieved  my personal goal of understanding the principles of landscape photography and ways to make my own photos more visually exciting.

I really am fascinated by the way filters open up a whole new range of possibilities in photography.  I've been researching filters online and when I get around to buying mine, I'll post the results on a future post.


  1. I have always wondered about the great amount of pictures on your blog, having not started to follow it from the beginning. Now I know. What a beautiful Australia you present for use through your photographer skills! Thank you so much!

  2. Beautiful photography (of course) SSG.
    PS. Woot - saw my tagging, have put it on the 'to blog' list :)

  3. Gorgeous shots! I can't wait to see how you take the learnings from your course and apply them to the photos on your blog!

  4. Thank you ladies.

    Emma - take your time.

    SSG xxx


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