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19 Jun 2018

Winter


Winter has made its presence felt this week with heavy snowfalls in the Victorian Alps and the Snowy Mountains down south and snow right upto the Blue Mountains inland from Sydney. Today it was 9ºC at 6.00 am here in Terrigal . That's as cold as it gets here on the coast
Not only is it cold but it is raining cats and dogs and has been raining all night. I will have to let some water out of the swimming pool again. First world problem I know. Sorry I mentioned it.
I was suffering from cabin fever by mid afternoon yesterday having spent all morning trying to declutter my office so I went for a walk with a camera around the headland. There was a break in the rain but the sky out at sea was very dark and there were flashes of lightning then a single ray of sunshine broke through for a few minutes and I managed this photo. Not a great shot but the best I could do on a very miserable day.

17 Jun 2018

A Portugese castle-Mertola


The first time I visited Portugal in 2016 and I came across a town with a castle I thought -wow, how wonderful. It did not take me long to realise that nearly every town and city in Portugal has a castle and many of them are absolute gems. In fact on a three week driving tour through Portugal you develop castle fatigue.
This one, above, is the town of Mertola in Alentojo. Up close the castle is very impressive but as it was a Monday when all museums and national monuments are closed in Portugal I could no go in. No worries. Plenty more castles to see.
The photo was taken with the Leica Q at f1.7 -to get the out of focus foreground. In the bright sun at this aperture it needed1/10000th second exposure. No camera shake here. In the original file - before blogger compresses it - the level of detail is amazing. You can actually identify the brand/type of the cars on the street in the town.


13 Jun 2018

Watching the world go by.


Go to the town square in any town in Portugal mid-morning and you are almost certain to find a group of old men standing around idly chatting or just watching the world go by.
This photo was taken at the town square in the small town of Arraiolos in Alentejo, just north of Evora.
Arraiolos is famed for its artisan carpetmaking and there is a very interesting museum on the history of carpetmaking in the town.
Unusually for me,  as I usually am wedded to colour, I converted this photo to black and white because to my eyes it looks so much better in black and white.
Below photos of carpetmaking and one of the many shops selling the artisan carpets.



9 Jun 2018

Lifeguard on duty


It's mid-afternoon and over 38ºC in Dubai.  Beside the rooftop pool on a hotel a bored lifeguard sits holding a flotation device. There is only one swimmer around. We are sitting in the aircon in the enclosed bar area looking out at the pool. I see a photo op. Our room is on the next floor so I rush back and grab my camera. Right on cue the swimmer dives under in front of the lifeguard. By a complete stroke of luck I get the picture.
It's a pity that it was overcast and very hazy as the impressive skyline would be much more visible on a clear sunny day.

5 Jun 2018

By the road


Seen in Estoi, Algarve, Portugal last month. An abandoned olive tree grove in the setting sun. It's a sight you often see in Mediterranean countries-an abandoned farm or a large old dilapidated/abandoned house with a beautiful olive tree grove. I peeped through the rusting iron gate with its hefty padlock and chain into this one with its carpet of wild flowers.


This scene is very Portugese-cork trees growing in a meadow of wildflowers. Cork trees are disappearing as corks gets displaced by screw caps in wine bottles. Portugese producers are putting up a strong rearguard action and producing all sorts of cork products -the most succesful of which is cork flooring-but it is a losing battle. The cork trees are being pulled up in many areas and replaced by olive trees and vineyards. South of Evora in the Alentejo region there are enormous areas of newly planted olive trees and vineyards. Nowhere nearly as picturesque as cork trees.



3 Jun 2018

Stormy weather and a forgotten friend


Summer seemed to have gone on for ever this year. Whilst I was away in Portugal through May it was sunnier and warmer in Eastern Australia in what should be winter than it was in Portugal when it was supposed to be the start of summer.
Mid-last week the summer broke and in one jump we went from summer to winter. Nowadays that seems to be the pattern. There is no autumn/fall or spring just summer and winter with a fairly abrupt transition between the seasons.
Suddenly it was wet, cold -well,cold by our standards - and very windy. One of many good things about living on the coast is that when it is windy it quickly whips up the sea and the surfers come out and then there are spectcular scenes as big waves break on the headlands. Also we get fast moving clouds so dark storm clouds are interspersed with patches of blue sky and sunshine.
The photo above taken on one of the stormy days, last Friday, on one of my absolute favourite local spots the headland at North Avoca-within walking distance of home although it is a steep climb up and over the hill to get there.
Late in the afternoon in winter when the light is fading and there is a big sea it is almost magical. There are usually just a few people walking their dogs on the beach in the distance but otherwise it is solitary. The big beach houses are shut up - they are almost all weekenders for Sydney bankers-and apart from the wind and the crashing waves and the seagulls and the odd kookaburra it is quiet. Not a black Audi, BMW, Range Rover or Mercedes SUV in sight.
I took the photo with my Leica XVario. A camera which I have neglected to use for many months as I became besotted with the Leica Q which I bought 18 months ago. Firing up the XVario prompted me go out and walk to North Avoca and the result has made me resolve to start using the XVario again. When I got back home from the storm shoot my favourite subject, Phoebe, woke up to see what was going on and I took this shot of her. The colour rendition is superb. It is a beautiful camera. I will start using it again for sure.



31 May 2018

In Elvas


Early on the last morning of a 2 day stay in Elvas, the UNESCO World Heritage walled town close to the Spanish border in eastern Portugal, I decided to go for a walk around the city wall. The man in the tourist office had told me that you could walk right around the city on the walls. However I found there are a few of points where the footpath does not exist. I got about halfway and turned back as time was running out. I had not seen any photo opportunities on the walk but as I came close to the hotel I saw these three. I have no idea what they were doing there . It was very quiet as it was early Sunday morning.

29 May 2018

Not Peter Rabbit



Just back from a great three weeks driving in Portugal starting in Lisbon and then south to Sagres and the most south westerly tip of Europe and along the Algarve and up the centre to Evora and Elvas and back to Lisbon.
Empty autoroutes, beautiful old towns, great food and wine and friendly people. What more could you ask? Well, it was a disappointment photographically. In 2016 I came back with a nice portfolio of photos. No such luck this year. The light was often not right. Many days started overcast and although the cloud burnt off mid morning I missed the golden hour at sunrise. Other days it stayed lightly overcast all day.
I don't really do tourist shots-castles, whitewashed farmhouses with terracotta roofs, cute flower boxes, green bicycles, red fishing boats etc and Portugal is full of cliche shots many of which have already been taken and are sold on postcards. Not taking them really narrows your photo opportunities although I did manage a few cliche shots of my own along the way.
My preferred subject is people and I managed some good people shots in 2016 but this year I found that people were more reluctant to let me photograph them. Perhaps too many camera phones had been thrust in their faces or maybe they found the largish Leica Q more intimidating than the small X1 I used much of the time previously.
One day I did strike lucky was on my early morning walk in the strange old mining town of Minas de Santo Domingos, east of Mertola.
The town is very poor and apparently almost solely inhabited by elderly relatives of the miners-the mine closed in 1965. I came across this man by the road skinning a rabbit which he had caught in a snare. He was tackling his task with enthusiasm although he was only using a pocket knife.




19 May 2018

Ancient art


These photos are from a location seen by very few people. An Aboriginal rock art "gallery" very recently discovered deep in the Kimberley. Found by an amazing chance in a very remote location . The top photo is what the location looks like and under the overhangs and in the caves there is the art-ochre drawings of kangaroos,turtles, people and fish. Much of the location is yet to be explored so there is more to be discovered.





12 May 2018

The Berkeley River


The spectacular Berkeley River. A deep gorge for the first 20kms inland from the sea with waterfalls every few kms and not a sign of anything man made. Crocodiles,sea eagles and rock wallabies but no people or garbage. Truly wonderful.





7 May 2018

King Georges Falls


One of the iconic sights of the Kimberley are the spectacular King Georges Falls. The water at the foot of the falls is so deep that quite large cruise ships can come right up to the falls. I saw them from a different angle. The helicopter landed on a ledge right at the top of the falls.Another 3 metres and it would have toppled over the edge. It was not a location for vertigo sufferers.




That's the helicopter pilot right on the edge. Rather him than me.