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15 November 2012

Photography

Life has been very busy lately! One of the reasons is that I had my final photo portfolio due. The final product contains close to 70 images! It was a lot of work but I am quite happy with the progress I have made over the course of the class. I still have plenty more to learn, but considering I was afraid of my camera before the class started, I'd say I have come a long way.

Here are some of my favorites from the place, object, and concept categories.

I. Object


II. Place



III. Concept
My concept was called "Tracks". I took photos of the train and tram tracks in town. I decided I'd better keep things simple while I was just starting out ;-)




That's just a sample of the heaps of photos. I'd say the critique of my photos by the professor was mixed: my 'place' objects are strong while my objects are 'a bit dry' (yes, he actually said that!). When I look at my portfolio, I see all the effort I put into it. It's hard to separate myself from them and judge them objectively. It was an anxiety provoking experience having to present these to the photography class (especially since everyone seemed to be so much better at it than me!) and the creative process was challenging...very challenging. It was harder than the hardest classes I took in uni!

The jury is still out on whether I will continue with the next class. One part of me says I have a full time job and I need to be practical, but another part of me says that this is a beautiful art that enriches my life more than a paycheck ever could. What to do!?! I'll have a think on it.

Meanwhile, I can start taking photos purely for the love of it...maybe I'll even put some on this here blog! ;-)

I'll try to blog more often now. The weather is turning to summer and I couldn't be happier about that fact!!

Until next time,
Laurie

06 September 2012

Uluru

Man, life has gotten some kind of crazy lately. Between vacation, turning another year older, changing roles at work, and my photography work, sometimes I just want to call a time out and enjoy some couch time with a cup of Moccona coffee and skim milk.

My blog has not received the attention it deserves lately, but hopefully these periodic updates will diminish your thirst for TexStralians' tales just a little (cause I know you can't get enough!) :-p

Anyway...VACATION! It was much needed for my overworked husband and me, the Current Reigning Champion of Multitasking.

We took a short trip to the center of Australia to visit Uluru (also know as Ayer's Rock). We also visited The Olgas, a neighboring rock formation, and King's Canyon.

I'll do three separate posts on each of these as I don't want to overload you with photos. With all the beauty of the desert landscape and its wonderful colors, it's hard NOT to take great photos (so I took heaps!)

Uluru

As soon as I got off the plane at the tiny airport, I knew it was the right place for us to be: WARM, sunny, and not a cloud in the sky! The warmth and the sunshine in and of themselves would have made this trip ("You had me at 'hello'!")

Uluru is a pretty big rock formation. It took us about three hours to walk around the base and stopping to see some interesting features.

View from the Cultural Center


Here's a shot detailing the texture of Uluru
Here's a shot detailing my charming husband. So difficult to photograph. Seriously, why won't he just play along and pose already?!?
Here I am showing Matt how to pose and smile in a photograph. Also: some desert flowers.
The desert becomes really colorful at dusk.

Sounds of Silence dinner: we had a lovely dinner under the stars in the desert. It was pricey but it was worth it!
Other Interesting Points:
  • You CAN climb the Uluru but the Indigenous people believe the rock to be sacred and really don't like people climbing it. So we didn't climb it (although I think both of us really wanted to)
  • As you can see from the photo above, the dirt in the desert is really RED! In fact, this part of Australia is called "The Red Center".
  • We had some challenges finding some affordable food options on this trip. The resort is in the middle of the damn desert with the nearest major city a three hour drive away. No fast food or anything - just overpriced resort restaurants! We actually ended up eating a few meals at a place where you buy raw meat and cooked it yourself on barbecues. It seems a little off that I have to pay restaurant prices to cook my own food!
Apparently chicken takes longer to cook than steak.
I'll be doing more posts discussing The Olgas and our King's Canyon experience in the not-too-distant future so stay tuned, folks!

Thanks for visiting!

Cheers,
Laurie

23 August 2012

Weekend Photography Workshop

I realize that most of my blog posts of late have been focused on photography, but I promise a few new surprises in the near future.

Until then, I would like to talk about the Photo Workshop I participated in this past weekend.

Firstly, let me admit that I took over 1,200 images over the course of two days! It was incredibly tiring taking this workshop but I feel like my skill level improved...practice works!

The overall purpose of the workshop was to learn to work with light. Unfortunately, it was either raining or overcast the entire weekend so we really only got to practice with the diffused light that overcast days deliver.

Our first stop was a market about 45 minutes north of Melbourne called The St. Andrew's Market. It was my first time approaching strangers to ask them for their photo. The first lady I asked rejected me (sniff!) but I did manage to snap a few strangers' mugs.

Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning was landscape photography. I really enjoyed exploring nature with my camera. There are some interesting things to be found when you look closely!



St. Andrew's Market in Panton Hill, Victoria


A "detail" shot of some yummy baklava at a market stall



After the market, we shot images in an old cemetery. I wasn't really feeling it but I found this pretty wild flower vine growing.

Also found this dead tree with these weird orange fungi - I found it to be pretty photo worthy!

This is in The Botanical Gardens in Melbourne (that's the governor's mansion hiding behind that tree).

Red Succulents in the Botanical Gardens

In the Fern Gully in The Botanical Gardens

A busy bee collecting pollen in The Botanical Gardens.
 These are just a few of the many, many shots I took. Some were nice...many were out of focus. It was a great practice and I had a great time getting to know my classmates better.

Matt and I will be re-charging our batteries with a trip this coming weekend to a Super Secret location! (not really, but I like to create a sense of mystery that keeps you coming back for more!)

Tee-hee!

Until then, take care.

-Laurie

14 August 2012

Weekly Photo Share

I realize that it has been more than a week since my last photo share, but I assure you I have been taking HEAPS of photos lately! We had two assignments due in one week so this past weekend was a very busy one.

We are kind of wrapping up some of our technical lessons (i.e. how to use this camera) and we are moving more into communication and meaning. It's hard stuff but what I consider to be the main attraction of the class.

Here are a few shots from around Melbourne (and around my apartment!).

There's some really beautiful light in Melbourne at this time of year at dusk and dawn. It's a very soft light and the sunsets create some very blush pinks in the sky.


This is the view from my apartment window. See the pink spot in the sky? So subtle and beautiful - I just love it.

St. Kilda pier near sunset - I was lucky to capture this light as the rain soon moved in!


Capturing the motion of the ocean with a slow shutter speed.

I was intrigued by this bird who was just staring at the water. As I moved in for a closer shot, he dove into the water and surfaced with a little fishy! So cool to watch!

I absolutely LOVE cherry blossoms! I have happy memories from when my mom and I visited DC one spring when I was kid and the entire place was PINK!




These light bulbs have amazing light qualities - the centers change color depending on how the light hits them.
 Hope you have enjoyed those. Plenty more to learn so more pics to come!!

-Laurie

05 August 2012

Olympic Patriotism

The Olympics are in full swing and Australia is no different than the US in having a surge of patriotism as a response to the games!

It's been strange watching the games from an Aussie perspective because (of course) they are not falling all over themselves to say great things about the American competitors. Plus, we have seen some events that we never even knew existed before (I guess the US networks don't broadcast the less popular sports?)

Anyway, thought I would add a bit of Aussie Patriotism/Music:


"Land Down Under" by Men at Work. I have heard this a lot recently in Olympic sponsors' advertisements and I thought I would share it!

01 August 2012

29 July 2012

Weekly Picture Share

The images I share on this blog are 4 to 5 of the best images that I have shot in a given week. I typically shoot about 150 images just to get a few that I feel are presentable. Practice makes perfect!

For this week's assignment, we were to practice "panning". To "pan", you follow a moving object with the camera. The desired effect is that the subject is in focus while the background is blurred. This was hard! I took heaps of photos of cars and got plenty of mean looks from drivers as I stood alongside of the road. Why does everyone get suspicious of the photographer? It's so weird!

Without further ado, here are three shots from my first attempt at panning:



Tram!


In spite of my difficulties with this technique, I really like the effect that it gives. It gives a very impressionistic effect to the background. I will be practicing this one on a regular basis going forward.

Here is a depth-of-field practice shot:

These pretty lights are part of a battery backup in the garage in my apartment building.

Still life with beads on the bed
I'm happy about these photos because they are different than my first few shoots in the park. Tons still to learn and practicing to be done...stay tuned for next week's project!

Until next time,
Laurie

22 July 2012

Photo Assignment II

The second assignment for the photo course centered around aperture. Using a wide aperture creates a blurred background when the focus is on an object in the foreground, and a more closed aperture keeps everything in the frame in focus.

Here are some examples:

Wide aperture (f/4):

Small aperture (f/22):

Notice the difference in the clarity of the backgrounds between the two images above? Using a wide aperture is a great way to bring attention to the subject of your photo, especially if the background is not adding to the intended meaning of the photo.

Another example:

Wide aperture (f/4):

Small aperture (f/22):
Queen Victoria was apparently a pretty stern looking lady!
Here are a few more shots just for giggles:

Playing around with a slow shutter speed (1/4 second) to capture the motion of the water:

And this one just 'cause I like this duck and the look of the water!


All these photos were taken in Alexandra Gardens which is very close to our apartment building in Southbank. These gardens are so lovely and well-tended - I need to make a point to get out to other parts of the city and take more varied shots.

I'm really loving the course so far. I get pretty nervous when we have our weekly image reviews in class and I can't help but feel that my stuff isn't up to the level of the class. But, I do really enjoy branching out and learning the camera. My eyes are being opened to so many possibilities as I learn to use the camera.

What will I learn this week?

Until next time,
Laurie

14 July 2012

Photo School Assignment 1

I'm about to start Week 3 of my photo course. It has taken some time to learn some basic functionality of a DSLR camera, how to save and file the digital photos and then do some clean up in Photoshop.

Here are a few of the presentable shots from last week's project:




We shoot all our photos in "raw" format which makes the photos lose some of their "punch" compared to a JPG file. But, the raw photos contain more data and therefore are preferable to the JPG's - there's much more freedom as far as the final output.

Hopefully, my photos will evolve over the course of the next four months all while showing some Melbourne Beauty!

Until next time,
Laurie


19 June 2012

Earthquake! and other news

Tonight we had an earthquake! It was a mere 5.2 grade but it still scared the living daylights out of me! We live on the 13th floor of a high rise apartment building and it was just a little too strange to feel the whole building swaying. At first I thought my husband was being cheeky and jiggling the couch, but it was actually the building moving! I started to panic and I worried that the building was going to collapse. Let's hear it for architects and engineers that plan for this kind of thing! The building still stands, praise Hey-zeus!

Matt swears up and down he didn't feel a thing. My heart was pounding and I was panting like a dog talking to him about it. I don't feel the need to live through any more of those, thank you!

We've been pretty busy here at Casa TexStralian. Matt is working his arse off and I am starting photography school next week! It's after work 1-2 nights a week. Hopefully, I'll have a ton of great pics to post on this here blog!

Speaking of cameras, my old point-and-shoot met an untimely demise on our vacation to Cairns last month. (Cairns is on the northern shore of Australia and is a jumping-off point for seeing the Great Barrier Reef).

The land surrounding Cairns has a ton of waterfalls. We saw about half of them. There were some rocks and they were slippery (did I mention it rained 5 of the 7 days we were there?) and I slipped and the camera ended up in a rushing river. It was bad. We saved the memory card so the photos we saved but unfortunately that was before our trip to the reef.

I'm not sure how I did it but I convinced my husband to take a boat trip from Cairns to the Great Barrier Reef (Matt hates boats...after this trip I am on board with that opinion...punny!). The day consisted of a 90 minute boat trip out to a platform where we could snorkel or dive for about 5 hours, then take the boat back.

When we arrived at the boat terminal, the people working at the desk ADAMANTLY advised us to take sea sickness medication, which we did. What they don't tell you about sea sickness medication is that sometimes it is bloody ineffective!

On the boat ride out to the reef, we were okay (much better than the 50% of the boat that decided to skip the sea sickness meds. I felt really bad for these folks...no break from retching for 8 hours! Can you imagine?)

Apparently, you can get motion sickness while snorkeling and even diving! Did anyone know this? Half way through my snorkel adventure, I had to stop looking down at the reef and focus on the horizon (this was after downing the 4 of 5 maximum pills allowed!) I felt like Mark Walburg at the end of the movie a Perfect Storm when he is in the ocean in the middle of a hurricane (there were swells of several meters that day due to the wind). I decided right then and there that the open ocean is no place for a person. It looks so blue and pretty, but it pretty much sucks if you aren't a fish.

The wind was whipping up those waves something awful. I did get a sweet as picture of me petting a fish in the water with my snorkel on. The reef was absolutely fantastic! Marvelous! (but God help me I never want to get on another boat ever again!)

After taking the fifth (and maximum allowed dose) of motion sickness meds at around hour 7, I had pull on my Zen face at the back of the boat while focusing on the horizon. I managed to keep my lunch down. Just barely...

I hate that sea sickness is now imprinted on my mind when I think of the reef. But some people were not made for the sea and I am not ashamed to say I am one of those people!

The vacation to Cairns, while not particularly relaxing, scored very high on the adventure scale. Caines has a much more relaxed vibe than Melbourne which I totally dug.

Fingers crossed for no more earthquakes tonight/this year.

Cheers y'all,
Laurie

20 May 2012

Aussie Music: Empire of the Sun

Today I am featuring the Australian duo Empire of the Sun.

I came across Empire of the Sun a few years ago while surfing the Internet. I was instantly intrigued by this group's sound and their look.

Many people compare them to the band MGMT. While both bands do groove on the fantasy/LSD trip vibe, I find Empire of the Sun to have a more polished electronic, ethereal sound while MGMT is more rockin'-60's psychedelic funk. I like both bands and I don't think it is fair to compare them (and I don't think that Empire is a rip off of MGMT).

If that didn't make a lick of sense to you, I apologize...but I have had that opinion for some time and it felt good to express it!

The two guys that make up Empire of the Sun, Luke Steele and Nick Littlemore, both have had successful music careers before they collaborated on this project: Luke Steele is the front man for the alternative rock group The Sleepy Jackson, while Littlemore is part of an electronic group called Pnau.

What strikes me about this band are their costumes and their videos which feature bright, vibrant colors. Luke Steele, the vocalist, plays the part of the "Emperor" with Littlemore being his loyal subject. Their videos are kind of trippy. But, like I said, they are colorful so quite enjoyable to watch!

I'm posting two of my favorite Empire of the Sun songs on here for you to enjoy: "Walking on a Dream" and "We are the People." If you have time, find some of their other videos on You Tube - they are so trippy!




Enjoy!

-Laurie