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5 Easy Steps to Sunrise Seascape Photography

Father’s Day is around the corner. How about giving your Dad a gift card. Apply Discount Code: “ FATHER” to receive 10% off all my Photo Courses. https://www.alfonso.com.au/giftcards

Do you think your Dad will enjoy learning on a private seascape photography 3 hour session?

FYI, Spots available on Tasmania (early Oct) & Japan (Early Nov) Tours.

1. PLANNING

It goes without saying that you need to check the weather the day before and see if it’s worth waking up at the sparrow’s fart.

Apps Used:

Clear Outside (Cloud Checker) allows you to see how much cloud cover you will have at sunrise or sunset. It shows you the percentage of cloud cover in low, mid and high range hourly.

Willy Weather (Tide & Swell Check)

Like most surfers, they like to see how much swell and wave height there might be at a particular time and place. Knowing when the tides are low or high can greatly affect the safety of your morning shoot. Choose the best location to suit your level of security. Many rock fishermen and seascape photographers often take high risks of being swept away.

Photo Pills (Angle of Sun)

Knowing the angle of the sun and the exact time we have blue and golden hours will help you set up in the perfect spot. It’s always a good idea to scout the area the day before if you have not been to a seascape location.

Diamond Bay Reserve, Vaucluse

Diamond Bay Reserve, Vaucluse

2. GEAR

Aside from my camera gear which is listed below, here is a list of other essential extras needed to keep you and your camera dry.

Spiked Boots - Some rock surfaces can be very slippery with clear moss. It’s hard to notice in the dark of dawn where it is safe to step.

Small Towels - I always have a towel to dry off my camera and myself especially after the occasional unexpected splash.

Spiked Tripod - Some tripod feet can be replaced with a spike peg to lock yourself into the sand a bit firmer.

Wipes & lens cleaner - Before, after and during my shoot I often check my lens to make sure there are no drops. Always a good idea to also wipe down your lens, body and tripod after each seascape shoot. Salt condensation can build up over time and eventually damage your gear.

Diamond Bay Reserve, Vaucluse

Diamond Bay Reserve, Vaucluse

3. EXECUTION

Hopefully you have done a little scouting the day before to have some idea on where you would like to do some nice compositions. Bare in mind the tide will be different the next day which will greatly affect the mood of the shots. If you can arrive at least 45 minutes before sunrise this will give you time to settle and relax on your first set of shots.

Look For 3 Spots - I usually move every ten minutes to try and get at least 3 different perspectives. Don’t be afraid to move around and challenge yourself to have a different interpretation of your environment.

Look For 3 Angles - Vary your tripod height, shoot in portrait or landscape format and lastly, choose a different focal length.

Look for 3 Methods - Every photographer has a different method of shooting a landscape. Below are 3 methods with and without filters.

3 Types of Filters - In my camera bag I usually carry a soft reverse grad 3 stop, CPL, and a 10 stop filter. All used for different situations.

Generally speaking the soft grad 3 stop for a sunrise or sunset to seperate the dark foreground from light horizon areas.

The CPL is usually used in combination with the soft grad 3 stopper. This helps me to increase my shutter speed time and add more contrast to the shot.

The 10 stopper is almost always used during the day with harsh light. This allows me to put sunglasses on my lens to get longer exposures for those silky smooth water shots.

Shooting without Filters - If you are an advanced user of photoshop or lightroom, then you should already know how to salvage and bring out details in dark shadows. More importantly always expose for the highlights. You can usually get away with one exposure.

Bracketing H.D.R. - A.K.A. High dynamic range is when you blend 3 different exposure values (i.e. +/- 3 stops) to have a composite of one shot when editing. Make sure not to move your camera between shots. It may be a little tricky to use this method as you will also need to know how to use photoshop for some advanced masking techniques.

Avalon, Northern Beaches

Avalon, Northern Beaches

4. EDITING

Software used: Depending on your skills in editing, 1 or 2 of these will be needed to get the most out of your shots. Always shoot in RAW not JPEG format to suck out the best tonal range available in your shots.

Lightroom - For basic editing of your images a slider is available to bring out the best detail in your highlights or shadows panel. Blacks and whites can also be controlled to avoid blown out areas or areas that are too dark.

Photoshop /Luminosity Masking - If you have photoshop then a downloadable panel such as TK are worth having if you wish to seperate and have more tonal control of your images. You will also need some knowledge of how to use photoshop and blend composite layers to achieve the best results.

Avalon, Northern Beaches

Avalon, Northern Beaches

What’s in my bag?

Total Weight = 5 kg

Fujifilm XT-3, 14mm (F2.8), 35mm (F1.4), breakthrough 6 stop filter, NISI Filters CPL, SOFT GRAD # Stop, 10 Stop, Sirui Carbon Fibre Tripod 024X. Edited in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop on Mac Book Pro.

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Avalon, Northern Beaches

Avalon, Northern Beaches

Brisbane's 5 Best Night Photo Locations

Brisbane's 5 Best Photo Locations

Brisbane's 5 Best Photo Locations

Brisbane's 5 Best Night Photo Locations

On a recent trip to Brisbane to shoot some new content and visit staff, I was flabbergasted to see how much Brisbane has changed over the last 4 years. The skyline as you can see from the night scapes shots has really grown into a major Australian Metropolis.

Below are 5 suggested locations that will surely bring out the best in this beautiful city.

Google Map Walking Route

Google Map Walking Route

Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park

At sunset you can capture the many colours of the sky and at dusk you can capture the golden glow of the buildings. The warm tones of the sun at this time brings out the rich colours of the rock.

Kangaroo point cliffs is a great location because you have this contrast of nature versus city life. Start with short exposures and as the light goes down your exposures become longer. Be patient and wait for the boats to come along.

Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park

Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park

Kangaroo Point Boardwalk

Kangaroo Point Boardwalk

Bar Spritz

Bar Spritz is an Italian Bar where you can get great views of the city. Next to the bar you can find a steep stair access down to the waters edge. From there you can walk along the river bank to River life Ferry Wharf.

Here you will find many access points to shoot at different angles towards the city. Having a strong torch to light paint the foreground trees and shrubs will come in handy,

Cliffs Of Kangaroo Point

Cliffs Of Kangaroo Point

River Bank

River Bank

Brisbane Photography Tours (43 of 43).jpg

Story Bridge

At night the cars, lights and buildings create a vibrant energy on the story bridge. You can feel it when you walk along it, it’s such a buzz. You may have to switch to a faster shutter Speed to avoid the ground shaking from passing cars. This will help avoid blurry shots so best to turn on your lens stabilisation or vibration reduction if available.

Just by looking up and having a low angle you can create architectural abstract forms of the bridge. A tungsten white balance was used to create a bluish tone. 

Alternatively, you can shoot in Auto White Balance Mode if you are shooting in a RAW instead of JPG format. This will allow you much more control in edit to adjust the colour temperature as you please.

Story Bridge

Story Bridge

Wilsons Outlook Reserve

There are a few popular spots along Bowen terrace where you can set your camera up and capture some spectacular Brisbane city landscapes. I wanted to choose a perspective where the buildings were centered in the composition, so I choose a spot at Wilsons outlook.

Tilt the tripod so the bridge seems level and use a wide focal length 18mm or wider. The longer your exposures are the more the clouds will start to dance.

Wilsons Outlook Reserve

Wilsons Outlook Reserve

5. New Farm River Walk

From Wilsons Outlook Reserve you will find a lift to take you down to the water’s edge. Shooting from a lower angle along the boardwalk will allow to a new perspective.

Creative Techniques: Just for fun you can try some funky techniques of zooming in and out while the shutter is open. You can also try rocking your tripod back and forth gently to create a abstract expressionist style of shot. Last but not least you can also experiment with multiple exposures by covering your lens and moving your shot a few inches and then uncovering your lens to reveal some interesting effects.

Light Painting Techniques: On our night workshops if time permits we also experiment with light painting using led lights to create orbs. Juxtoposted with the bridge in the background can add another point of interest in the foreground.

Felon Brewery

When you are done shooting just next door is a fabulous brewery/restaurant. A great spot to have dinner and a beer. Don’t forget to try their wood fired pizzas!

New Farm River Walk

New Farm River Walk

MY TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY KIT

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) Tripod: Sirui T024SX | Macbook Pro 13 inch | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

Camera Settings: Depending on many lighting situations these settings may vary from shot to shot but as a benchmark range to work from here are some basic settings.

F11 | ISO 100 | 30 Seconds

Join us on a Night Photography or Day Course in Brisbane.

How to Help a Slum Through Photography

Malibay (14 of 25).jpg

How to Help a Slum Through Photography

Born and raised in Manila till I was 15 years old. It’s a bit of a homecoming each year I come back to the Philippines on one of my photo tours. A fresh look at an old country. Where there is absolute chaos, calm can be found. It’s all about perception and attitude being here in the tropical heat.

Malibay (3 of 11).jpg

When you land in Manila you just have to go with the flow. You can’t fight the mayhem that seems to be waiting around every corner.

Having a sense of humour will allow you to relax and embrace this beautiful country for all it’s flaws. Here is a short article on how to use your skills as a photographer to help a charity in a slum.

Malibay (20 of 25).jpg

Slum Photo Tour

Growing up in Manila I spent most of my childhood in a gated community next to this slum area called Malibay. Driven more by ignorance and fear, I never ventured into this neighbourhood.

Now as a grown up regularly visiting the Philippines, I am curious to explore and learn what is beyond the walls separating the rich and the poor.

Cycle Driver & Daughter

Cycle Driver & Daughter

How to Help

It’s a very simple concept that can be done with a little planning and careful execution. Building a relationship with a local school to gain access and trust is paramount in the success of this passion project. It’s a careful balance of sending the correct message on the correct channels to spread the good word.

After an hour of being shown around the school and then making a donation to help their cause, it’s time to explore the neighbourhood. One of the school teachers becomes our local guide.

Most locals are the parents of the children that come to this free school. They welcome us with open arms and through introduction we get to hear their stories.

Outdoor Hairdresser

Outdoor Hairdresser

It’s a simple exchange of small talk, local politics and learning about their hardships. If the situation feels unobtrusive, then a quick portrait can be done. Since I am fortunate to keep coming back it is always nice to have some prints ready to give back.

Our images can then raise some awareness and perhaps also give the opportunity for other foreigners to experience and contribute. There are many fundraising events where our images can help tell their story.

Principal Sister Bernadette

Principal Sister Bernadette

The value of a printed photo is under rated with the digital age. The tangible effect of receiving an image and putting it in a frame, is something they can cherish forever and really appreciate.

Each year I come back I would like to continue giving them more and more family portraits. It’s not everyday they get to have their portrait done for free.

Outdoor bath

Outdoor bath

Outdoor Cooking

Outdoor Cooking

Work & Play: The Cycle Driver & Basketball Court.

Work & Play: The Cycle Driver & Basketball Court.

The sense of community is strong. The outdoor bath and kitchen are part of most slums because of a lack of space. The local government owns this land.

Despite efforts to relocate them to other more rural areas outside Manila, the lack of work has driven them back here. Dirty water and disease still plague these areas.

Primary School

Primary School

Pasay, Manila

Pasay, Manila

Roosters For Sale

Roosters For Sale

Despite the hardships the poor seem to be richer with humanity. The media often paints a picture of violence on the drug wars that have been happening in the Philippines for the last two years.

The locals tell me it's safer to walk the streets at night. These series of photos show the relentless spirit and warmth of a Filipino. It’s not easy living here but somehow they manage to help each other through thick or thin. Hopefully, this short article will also be shared and bring good fortune to this community and others.

Slum

Slum

My Travel Photography Kit

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | 13 Inch MacBook Pro | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

Join me on my Philippine Photo Tour

Night Photography - Composite 5 Steps

2019 Vivid Light Festival - Image by Isaac Vorrieter

2019 Vivid Light Festival - Image by Isaac Vorrieter

Night Photography - 5 Best Tips

Ever wanted to blend a series of your best night shots but was not sure of the process. It actually is much more simple than you think. It’s all about location, planning and great composition. Vivid light festival was the perfect venue to practice this effect.

Below are 5 easy steps to get your creative juices excited about night photography. The ideas are endless and the ambience at night is other worldly. As seen in the images above and below, I assisted my customers in editing these shots with the same 5 step process. 5

2019 Vivid Festival - Image by Maggie Hong

2019 Vivid Festival - Image by Maggie Hong

1. Make a Series

Goes without saying a tripod will be an essential tool. All your images need to stay in one position. Choose a tripod that is sturdy and has at least eye level height. There might be some locations that need to be higher than chest height because of railings, walls or fences.

Tripods that don’t move too much with wind or ground movement will be advantageous as well. Once you have locked down on your ideal composition make sure there is a lot of movement in the scene.

The image above was done with 10 photos. Each photo at 30 seconds, F11 on ISO 100. Every location will require some minor tweaking with one or more of the three base settings. When you scroll through your images to check the review make sure you have not moved your camera even a millimetre.

You can try different types of movement such as car trail lights in a busy location. Back red lights are always easier to work with than front white lights which appear blown out. If you wish to darken the road then a simple ramp up of F16-22 will work well.

If you have a 3 - 6 stop filter and cable release you can also increase your exposure time in bulb mode. Bulb mode allows you to shoot longer than 30 seconds. try up to 1 minute with a series of 5 - 10 shots. My favourite angle if accessible is from up high looking down on traffic.

Ueno, Tokyo

Ueno, Tokyo

Adobe Lightroom - Open As Layers

Adobe Lightroom - Open As Layers

2. Open As Layers

Once you have edited and chosen your best series of photos from the exact location, simply open them up as layers. I tend to use Adobe Lightroom first for all my editing and then I simply right click to open as layers in photoshop. It is important that whatever edits you do for your series that cropping is uniform for all of them.

Align all Layers in Photoshop

Align all Layers in Photoshop

3. Align Layers

Simply select all layers and click edit > Auto Align Layers. If the layers seem to have skewed or moved a bit, you can fix this at the end process. You can either crop or use the content aware tool to add in missing sections of the photo.

Lighten Blend Mode in Photoshop

Lighten Blend Mode in Photoshop

4. Lighten Blend Mode

Blend Mode - Click Lighten Option

Blend Mode - Click Lighten Option

Underneath Normal you will have multiple options for blend mode. Once you scroll over and then click the Lighten option you will immediately see all layers blending into one fabulous shot. Make sure all your layers are selected.

5. Flatten All layers

For the last and final step, flatten all layers to decrease your file size. As seen in the screen shot below, make sure to still have all your layers selected. Click on layers and at the bottom of the sub menu you will find the option to flatten all layers.

Ueno, Tokyo

Ueno, Tokyo

5 Best Photo Locations - Kanazawa

Kanazawa’s 5 Best Photo Locations

After 4 consecutive years of visiting Kanazawa it is time to put together this list. Being in the right place at the right time is imperative in capturing the perfect photo.

I like to compare Kanazawa to Kyoto. Located on the Japan Sea side it’s an easy Shinkansen Ride (Bullet Train) from Tokyo. Many day trippers manage to still get around and see all the key locations.

Unlike Kyoto, Kanazawa is much smaller in size and easy to get around on foot. Thanks to Google Maps I have mapped out a perfect walk you can tackle over two days.

Kanazawa Walking Route

Kanazawa Walking Route

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  1. Omicho Market

    Breakfast at the fish market is the perfect way to start the day. When Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo moved to a new brand new location, I felt it lost a little bit of it’s history. Luckily, I have found a fabulous substitute at half the prices.

    The prime quality of the produce come fresh from the Japan sea only a short drive from the city. If you are snapping some portraits of vendors make sure they don’t have any signs prohibiting photography.

    When in doubt, simply gesture to ask for permission. Sushi Don (Assorted sashimi on rice) King Crab (Kani), Sea Urchin (Uni) and Eel (Unagi) are always a stand out.

Omicho Market - Smoked Trout

Omicho Market - Smoked Trout

Omicho Market

Omicho Market

Kenroukuen

Kenroukuen

Kanazawa Castle

Kanazawa Castle

2. Kanazawa Castle

The interior of the castle is not the main attraction but the actual exterior and the grounds surrounding the castle are impressive.

If you are here in spring or autumn, then you will need half an hour to walk around the perimeter. After breakfast at the fish market a short 10 - 15 minute walk will help digest a full stomach.

Many opportunities for street portraits of young ladies in kimono.

Geisha in Shimonshincho

Geisha in Shimonshincho

Kanazawa Castle Portrait

Kanazawa Castle Portrait

Kanazawa Castle

Kanazawa Castle

Kenrokuen Garden

Kenrokuen Garden

Kenrokuen Garden

Kenrokuen Garden

3. Kenroku-en Garden

Rated as the third best garden in Japan. The best spots to shoot from are around the pond. The large pine trees are another attraction.

Most ancient trees are propped up with poles to support the hanging branches. Some of the Karasaki pine trees are from the 18th century.

Every November, Kanazawa prepares its beautiful gardens for the heavy winter snows of the Sea of Japan, protecting its trees with yukizuri ropes and its earthen walls with komo straw mats.

Having lunch at the tea house over looking the pond, sitting on the tatami (straw) matt floor and basking in the afternoon sun are a very relaxing experience.

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4. Higashi Chaya Tea District

Literally translates as east area tea houses. This is the area where Geisha live and work. Many of their homes are tea houses.

Renting a kimono and taking photos in the back alleys is such a fun way to explore. Kanazawa is known as the gold leaf product centre of japan. Don’t be surprised to see gold leaf in almost everything you eat and drink.

Even soft serve ice cream and sushi has gold leaf. Lacquerware craftsmen are also know in Kanazawa. This is a Unesco heritage listed district.

The local government also assists all locals with maintenance costs to keep uniformity and beauty in the architecture. Not to be missed, is the Shimonshincho area across Asano river at dusk.

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Wedding Shoot at Higashi Chaya

Wedding Shoot at Higashi Chaya

5. Nagamichi Samurai District

Nomura house is a small Samurai museum with a very compact but picturesque Japanese garden.

Being a lower ranking Samurai Nomura san would only receive 1200 units of rice from the emperor compared to the Kanazawa castle which received over a 1 million units.

Nevertheless, the samurai district has many more smaller homes that have been converted to tea houses and restaurants.

Nagamichi Samurai District

Nagamichi Samurai District

Nagamichi Samurai District

Nagamichi Samurai District

Samurai District local

Samurai District local

Second hand CD & DVD Shop.

Second hand CD & DVD Shop.

Side Trip - Ainokura

If you have a day to spare, I highly recommend a night in a 200 year thatched roof farmhouse. The Unesco Heritage listed village of Ainokura has less tourists than Shirakawago.

It’s a bit difficult to get to which makes it more appealing.

My Travel Photography Kit

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | Macbook Pro 13 inch | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

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5 Best Photo Locations - Osaka

Train Spotting in Osaka - Panning Handheld @ 1/15th-1/30th. (Motion Blur Filter added in PS)

Train Spotting in Osaka - Panning Handheld @ 1/15th-1/30th. (Motion Blur Filter added in PS)

Osaka is a city full of energy with a zest for humour. Daily jokes at work are compulsory. Once you get off the train anywhere in the city a spark of charisma is apparent around every street corner. It’s a city that shows itself off better at night. It’s a city of merchants and hagglers always enjoying their day at work with a laugh and good sales banter. After several years of visiting Osaka as a photographer, I have found you the best spots to visit at the perfect time of day. Once you get into the rhythm of this city’s pace, it can actually become infectious.

Osaka Locations Overview

Osaka Locations Overview

Two or Three days in Osaka should be enough to cover these suggested locations. For sunset and night time locations I would start with Abino Harukas or Umeda Sky Building followed by Tsutenkaku and finishing with Namba for the night. During the day I would visit the Aquarium and the Castle. Aside from these iconic locations, street photography can also be a fun genre to delve into. You can allocate 2-3 hours in each location depending on the weather.

Abino Harukas 60th Floor

Abino Harukas 60th Floor

  1. Umeda Sky Building & Abino Harukas

The best way to see any city is to start with a view from above. This gives you more scope to explore and discover areas you would like to visit. I have two observatory choices for the best views of Osaka. Both cost 1,500 yen and are at least 60 floors up. Both will give you different angles of view and have some pros and cons. Umeda’s outside area can be quite cold and windy but there will be no glass reflections. Abino Harukas has glass but can keep you warmer in the cooler months. If you are getting some glass reflections a dark jacket behind the camera and the lens almost touching the glass, will minimise reflections.

Umeda Sky Building Views with Highway through building.

Umeda Sky Building Views with Highway through building.

A 24-70mm lens range should cover most areas. Umeda will give you a clean shot towards the infamous highway through building. If you are pressed for time, I would opt for Abino Harukas over Umeda Sky Building. It’s quicker to walk to from a train station. Umeda as a piece of modern and unique architecture (exterior) is a major draw card. Hiroshi Hara the architect is also known for other great structures such as Kyoto Station & Sapporo Stadium. Even though it was built in 1993 it still looks unique. A point of difference has to be the the escalator up 173 m that joins the twin buildings.

Osaka Views from Abino Harukas 60th floor.

Osaka Views from Abino Harukas 60th floor.

2. Shinsekai Or Tsutenkaku

The best time to visit this area would have to be at dusk when the lights come on followed by dinner in the area. Osaka is known for 3 main dishes: Takoyaki, (Octopus Balls) Kushikatsu, (Deep Fried Assorted Skewers) and Okonomiyaki (Savoury Pancake). My favourite is Okonomiyaki made from eggs, flour, grated yam and shredded cabbage. You can add pork, squid, shrimp or meat. It’s delicious, try it! The area is quite small which only really cover 2 blocks with about 100 restaurants.

This is not a ritzy suburb, its the old downtown area. Be prepared for some local characters known to belt out a few loud screams after a few too many sakes. Street portrait opportunities with or without permission may be found easily.

Tsutenkaku (ISO 100, F11 @ 30 secs) using a tripod and 6 stop filter.

Tsutenkaku (ISO 100, F11 @ 30 secs) using a tripod and 6 stop filter.

Namba Neon (ISO 400, F11 @ 2-4 seconds) Tripod essential. (Lights change quick)

Namba Neon (ISO 400, F11 @ 2-4 seconds) Tripod essential. (Lights change quick)

3. Namba or Dotonbori

You know you have arrived in the heart of the city when you are here after dusk. Just like Tsutenkaku it comes alive when Neon Nippon turns on. If you only have a short stay in Osaka, then you might be able to see both areas in one night. It’s only a 12 minute train ride away from Tsutenkaku. Namba however covers a much larger area to look around. Be prepared to be shoulder to shoulder with endless crowds. The most famous of spots would have to be in front of Glico Neon sign. You can also take a 900 yen boat ride along the canal to see Osaka from a different perspective.

Wolf playing Melodian in Dotonbori

Wolf playing Melodian in Dotonbori

4. Osaka Castle

In my opinion the exterior is far more impressive than the interior. Save yourself the entrance fee for a delicious Ramen instead. The interior is newly renovated, crowded and underwhelming. However, for no fee at all, you can stroll around the outside and find many interesting angles. Many Trip Advisor reviews rave about the views but I would hazard a guess at choosing Umeda or Abino. Going in spring or autumn might allow you to juxtaposition a tree or two in front of the castle.

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

Osaka Aquarium

Osaka Aquarium

Osaka Aquarium

On an overcast or rainy day a great escape in doors can be spent in the aquarium. 3 hours before or after lunch should cover most key shots.

The main fish tank is huge 34 spiral tank four floors containing 5,400 tons of water, serving as the home of whale sharks, the largest fish species in the world. The most beautiful way to show off these beautiful sea creatures is a silouehette.


Other highlights in this tank are Manta Rays and hammerhead sharks. Another highlight are the jellyfish. The whole experience despite the crowds can be very relaxing if you find a quiet corner to sit and watch.

My Travel Photography Kit

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | Macbook Pro 13 inch | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

Join me in Osaka in March

7 Best Photo Locations - South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula

7 Best Photo Locations Fleurieu Peninsula, S.A.

After a week exploring the sweltering summer heat of South Australia, I have nailed the best spots to set up your camera for some jaw dropping landscape locations. From sunset seascapes to rugged coastline beaches, the unique geology and topography in the Fleurieu Peninsula is worth a visit.

Not sure if the extreme heat temperature of 46.6 degrees celcius had anything to do with the surreal sunsets, but every day the skies lit up with different hues.

Here is a guide to what I think are must see destinations if you have at least three days to spare for a micro adventure.

Port Willunga Sunset  21mm Lens F11 @ 1/60 Shutter Speed on ISO 80.

Port Willunga Sunset

21mm Lens F11 @ 1/60 Shutter Speed on ISO 80.

Port Willunga

This stunning beach is overlooked by cliffs where fishermen once carved out caves to store their boats and nets. Also of historical interest, the town’s jetty was destroyed in 1915.

All that remains is a collection of weather-beaten pylons that stand as a reminder to the town’s heady past as a grain port. Locals often meet in the caves for a sunset party. You might even run into a bridal party doing a wedding shoot.

Port Willunga Beach

Port Willunga Beach

Port Willunga Sunset

Port Willunga Sunset

Port Willunga Beach

Port Willunga Beach

Port Willunga Beach

Port Willunga Beach

Second Valley Beach

Only 90 km away from Adelaide, crowds of beachgoers were basking in the Southern sun. Must have been our lucky day but we happened to get the best parking spot.

It was a real stinker of a day with temperatures nearing 40 degrees. My drone refused to fly in such hot weather. Much to our surprise the landscape looked more like the Mediterranean than a quintessential Australian beach.

Second Valley Beach

Second Valley Beach

The history of this area dates back to when an English Colonel was sent to South Australia to look for a location to set up the capital city. First stop was next door at Rapid Bay and second stop was this place, Second Valley.

Not the most creative way to decide on a name. The geology is a mix of layers of white and coloured dolomitic limestone, gray to black slate, and quartz veins. If you are a rock collector, then you will enjoy this pebbly beach’s little coves and cliffs.

Second Valley Beach

Second Valley Beach

Grey & Black Slate

Grey & Black Slate

Grey & Black Slate

Grey & Black Slate

Dolomitic Limestone

Dolomitic Limestone

Dolomitic Limestone

Dolomitic Limestone

Second Valley Beach

Second Valley Beach

Rapid Bay

Rapid Bay

Second Valley

Second Valley

Petrel Cove Beach

Located just outside Victor Harbor, this is a dangerous place to shoot. Never turn your back on the ocean as this place is notorious for some fatalities.

There are sinkholes, blowholes and jagged rocks everywhere you look. There is an Interesting geology of dark and smooth molten granite.

It’s an easy hike down and the best set of rocks are just to the right of the beach. Any further along the rocky coast, will require some climbing over rocks in low tide.

Petrel Cove

Petrel Cove

Granite Island, Victor Harbor

Granite Island, also known by the Ramindjeri people as Nulcoowarra, is a small island next to Victor Harbor. It’s about 80 km south of Adelaide.

A shore-based bay whaling station operated at Granite Island in the 1830s.

Granite Island natural formation of rocks.

Granite Island natural formation of rocks.

Granite Island places sculptures by artists from South Australia and across the world among the spectacular scenery and coastal views.

By integrating sculptures into the landscape it aims to provide visitors to the island with a different experience as they wander the track.

The sculptures are leased or commissioned from artists who have previously exhibited in the Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions at Cottesloe Beach in Perth, or on the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk in Sydney.

Granite Island Sculpture by Lubomir Mikle (Slovakia) titled “Element 0”

Granite Island Sculpture by Lubomir Mikle (Slovakia) titled “Element 0”

Granite Island

Granite Island

Cape Jervis

The only reason we drove to this cape was to see the car ferry arriving from Kangaroo Island. Kangaroo Island itself is another destination worth exploring on another trip.

What intrigued me most was this lonely tree on the hill just next to the lighthouse. I guess the birds had no other place to perch and view the ocean.

Lonely Tree at Cape Jarvis

Lonely Tree at Cape Jarvis

Birds at Cape Jarvis

Birds at Cape Jarvis

Birds at Cape Jarvis

Birds at Cape Jarvis

Inman Valley Views

On a sunset drive back to Victor Harbor I stumbled upon a view looking back at Inman Valley.

I was flabergasted by the deep purple and magenta tones that seemed to illuminate the sky and landscape from every direction.

Dusk over the Inman Valley

Dusk over the Inman Valley

Dusk over Inman Valley

Dusk over Inman Valley

Sellicks Beach

Sellicks Beach is one of the few beaches where parking is allowed on the sand, and it's as popular with families for its safe swimming as it is with surf fishermen. There are good boat launching facilities and excellent windsurfing conditions when off-shore winds prevail.

It is an outer suburb of Adelaide so many day trippers come for a swim. Not much shelter from the sun, so don’t forget to bring your umbrellas and sun protection. Land surfers can also be seen rolling along the very long and flat sandy beach.

Sellicks Beach On Australia Day

Sellicks Beach On Australia Day

Classic FJ Holden on Australia Day

Classic FJ Holden on Australia Day

My Travel Photography Kit

Goes without saying a water bottle, small towel to dry lens and non-slip water resistant boots are essential as a seascape photographer.

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | 13 Inch MacBook Pro | DJI Mavic Pro Drone.

Total Weight: 5 Kg.

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Philippines Best Photo Locations

Patricia, Charles & Alfonso

Patricia, Charles & Alfonso

Philippines Best Photo Locations

Born and raised in Manila till I was 15 years old. It’s a bit of a homecoming each year I come back to the Philippines on one of my photo tours. A fresh look at an old country. Where there is absolute chaos, calm can be found. It’s all about perception and attitude being here in the tropical heat.

When you land in Manila you just have to go with the flow. You can’t fight the mayhem that seems to be waiting around every corner. Having a sense of humour will allow you to relax and embrace this beautiful country for all it’s flaws.

Join me on this visual roller coaster of gorgeous light. What other places in the Philippines do you think are as equally beautiful

Roosters For Sale

Roosters For Sale

Bohol Island

Finally a new airport has been built on Panglao Island. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows and a wave-shaped ceiling outfitted with solar panels welcome visitors to the country's newest airport.

The 13,337-square meter gateway to Bohol province's Chocolate Hills, white sand beaches and tarsier sanctuaries is also a showcase of sustainability. First Stop is White Beach on Panglao Island and the Bohol Bee Farm.

Bohol Bee Farm Dusk

Bohol Bee Farm Dusk

White Beach, Panglao Island

White Beach, Panglao Island

Bohol Bee Farm Sunrise

Bohol Bee Farm Sunrise

Loboc River

About an hour and half drive from Panglao Island you will find the emerald green waters of Loboc River. Acres of nipa palm line all along the river bank.

The Loboc river passes through the town center of the Municipality of Loboc, offering a riverside view of the Loboc church across the highway.

Various activities on the river, including the river cruise and standup paddle boarding typically feature a scenic trip upriver to Busay falls, or to various points in the river where visitors can enjoy buffets, cultural presentations, firefly watching, birding, and even paddle board yoga at the Fox & Firefly Cottages.

Fox & Firefly Cottages

Fox & Firefly Cottages

Loboc River footbridge

Loboc River footbridge

https://theculturetrip.com/…/chasing-the-dying-light-of-bo…/

Watching golden pteroptyx macdermotti fireflies float in the mangrove forests of Bohol, Philippines is one of nature’s most bewitching spectacles. Yet it may not be long before the lights go out.

These image is a composite of ten images each photographed with a minutes long exposure.

Fireflies

Fireflies

Tarsier

About a 30 minute drive from Loboc River we visited the Tarsier Sanctuary just after opening to beat the crowds of tourists. The protected primates are a mere handful size and can only live for 24 years.

Called the “world’s smallest monkey” for its physical similarities to that primate, the tarsier, along with the lemur, tree shrew and loris, in fact belong to a more primitive suborder Prosimii or prosimian.

 All I can think of when I see these peculiarly cute creatures is YODA from star wars.

More info here: http://www.tarsierfoundation.org/the-philippine-tarsier

Tarsier Sanctuary

Tarsier Sanctuary

Tarsier Sanctuary

Tarsier Sanctuary

Chocolate Hills

The nearest town of Carmen is only 15 minutes away. You can stay the night at Villa Del Carmen for some home cooking. A short stroll away is the town of Carmen.

We stayed the night to capture a sunset and sunrise but unluckily both days were a bit over cast. Nevertheless it’s still worth a look at these amazing hills. About 50 years ago a National Geographic Photographer visited the hills and thought they looked like Hershey’s Kisses Chocolate. Hence the name has stayed since.

There are at least 1,260 hills but there may be as many as 1,776 hills spread over an area of more than 50 square kilometres. They are covered in green grass that turns chocolate brown during the dry season.

These conical hills are geomorphological features called cockpit karst, which were created by a combination of the dissolution of limestone by rainfall, surface water, and groundwater, and their subaerial erosion by rivers and streams after they had been uplifted above sea level and fractured by tectonic processes. 

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Siquijor Island

After a 2 hour ferry ride with Ocean Jet from Tagbilaran in Bohol we were eager to explore Siquijor. With about 95,000 inhabitants the perimeter of the oval shaped island can be tackled in about 3 hours.

Highlights on the island include white sandy beaches, Mangrove swamps, crystal clear water, waterfalls and faith healers.

A couple of nights stay is sufficient to relax and go on a full day expedition. I would recommend a driver to take you around. for the whole day to really enjoy all the island has to offer.

San Juan Beach, Siquijor

San Juan Beach, Siquijor

Sunrise & Sunset

At 6am our sunrise began at the sleepy village of Talingtin to capture the mangrove trees along the shoreline. We happen to photograph them at low tide which gave us access to get closer on foot.

For sunset we hit two locations both in the area of San Juan. On our first night we kicked some sand at Paliton Beach and on our second night we had some San Miguel Beer at Ocean Bar and Grill on the beach.

Both locations also delivered some low tides and calm waters.

Motion Blur Effect - Sunrise at Paliton Beach

Motion Blur Effect - Sunrise at Paliton Beach

Aloha Bar & Grill Sunset of San Juan Beach

Aloha Bar & Grill Sunset of San Juan Beach

Aloha Bar & Grill Sunset of San Juan Beach

Aloha Bar & Grill Sunset of San Juan Beach

Talingtin Sunrise with Mangrove Tree

Talingtin Sunrise with Mangrove Tree

Talingtin Sunrise with Bangka

Talingtin Sunrise with Bangka

Long Exposures with a 6 stop filter - Paliton Beach

Long Exposures with a 6 stop filter - Paliton Beach

Our staff member at Island View Cottages.

Our staff member at Island View Cottages.

Other Highlights on the island include Cambugahay Falls, Salagdoong Beach and a fish spa. The falls require a 220 step hike down so I would suggest you have some bottled water for your trip back up.

Once down at the falls you will have a choice of 3 falls to swim or swing. Swinging requires a small payment for any Tarzan or Jane action. The fish spa tickles and causes a few laughs for a 5 minute sitting on your way home.

Salagdoong Beach Cliff Jump

Salagdoong Beach Cliff Jump

Salagdoong Beach

Salagdoong Beach

Cambugahay Falls

Cambugahay Falls

Negros Island

After a 1 hour boat ride to Dumaguete City we drove out of town to stay at the Wuthering Heights Bed & Breakfast. A large concrete building sitting a top a hill overlooking the island of Cebu. The perfect spot for a cup of brewed coffee on the rooftop patio at sunrise.

Other points of interest nearby are the Sunday Market in San Jose and Balinsasayao Twin Lakes. The Twin Lakes operated by the government with a strong conservation program to preserve all wildlife and pristine waters.

Most people go on a short boat ride across the lake, hike a 10 minute steep path and finally view the adjoining lake from an observation deck.

The whole journey will take about 45 minutes to an hour. It’s worth a look simply to breath in the clean mountain air.

Balinsasayao Pond before Twin Lakes .

Balinsasayao Pond before Twin Lakes.

Balinsasayao Pond before Twin Lakes.

Balinsasayao Pond before Twin Lakes.

Balinsasayao Twin Lakes .

Balinsasayao Twin Lakes.

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose if you can time your schedule is a community affair. Many local farmers come into town and fill the basket ball court (Community Center) with fruit, vegetables, meat and fish.

After morning mass locals pour out of the church into the market. It s a visual feast of local faces.

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Sunday Market in Poblacion, San Jose

Oslob, Cebu Island

At 3am we were woken with a hot cup of coffee for our 1 hour journey to Cebu Island on a car ferry. Also known as a RORO (Roll on Roll Off) we cruised silently in perfectly calm waters.

By 5:30am I was lining up for an hour to get some tickets (1,500 PHP) for our Whale Shark Experience.

By 8:30am we finally made the front of the line with our life jackets on ready to board the small bangkas (outrigger boat) Swimming with a Whale Shark in Oslob is a controversial experience.

Some say it’s not natural behaviour for the fish to be fed and surrounded by hundreds of people. Others say it is much easier than going to Donsol in Leyte to look for them with no guarantee at all of spotting them in the wild let alone swimming with them this close.

Oslob Whale Shark Experience

Oslob Whale Shark Experience

Batanes Islands

Located closer to Taiwan than the Philippines. An hour and a half flight from Manila. The Mayor is really into agri-tourism. Imagine being able to shoot alongside a farmer at sunset on a rolling hill.

You can drop into a fishing village and catch a fisherman mending his nets. I like to describe the landscapes as being the Ireland of Asia. Its lush green, lots of rainy days and rustic.

There are two main islands, Batan and Sabtang. When you fly into Basco you will be on Batan. Sabtang is an hour boat ride away. The best time of year to go is between November and February. You can take a chance between March and October but the typhoons and strong winds will make it difficult to travel.

Valugan Boulder Beach Sunrise, Batan Island

Valugan Boulder Beach Sunrise, Batan Island

Racuh A Payaman (Marlboro Hills)

Racuh A Payaman (Marlboro Hills)

Basco Lighthouse

Basco Lighthouse

My Travel Photography Kit

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | 13 Inch MacBook Pro | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

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Shooting Waterfalls & Ancient Trees

Best Waterfall Photography in Victoria

In early November I was itching to soak in some waterfalls and stretch my neck up to see some gentle giants. With only 2 nights to spare I crossed my fingers hoping for some gushing streams and lush green trees.

My inner Doctor told me the perfect prescription for city stress was to breath in some tall forests, ferny gullies, and magnificent waterfalls.

Some health benefits from forests include boosting the immune system, lowering your blood pressure and improving your sleep.

Not to mention the cognitive pluses of listening to water flowing and getting off your devices. One blessing in disguise is the lack of mobile phone coverage in these remote forests. If you still have coverage why not switch to flight mode.

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Hopetoun Falls

Hopetoun Falls

Weather Dependant

Before you shoot out the door in excitement to make the drive as seen in the Google map below, it would be best to check if it has been raining. No water means no water falls. Too much water or floods also could mean that some tracks have been closed for safety reasons. Below is a rough route covering the 3 main falls to hike in the Otway Ranges. There are many more falls but these are the 3 most accessable and beautiful if you are short on time.

Otways & Ocean Road Trip

Otways & Ocean Road Trip

1. HOPETOUN FALLS

Hopetoun Falls has a viewing platform 20 metres from the carpark which offers spectacular views of the falls as they crash into the Aire River. Or you can take the steeper walk down to the pool at the base of the falls. The walk starts from the carpark located on the Aire Valley Road in Beech Forest.

Distance: 1km return | Time: 30 mins | Difficulty: Moderate

Hopetoun Falls

Hopetoun Falls

2.BEAUCHAMP FALLS

Beauchamp Falls crashes over a ledge into a large pool just outside Beech Forest, this 20-metre waterfall rewards a somewhat strenuous walk. To get to the falls, take the walking path from the picnic area, located off the Aire Valley Road. The three-kilometre path is an hour's walk return, and requires reasonable fitness. The descent to the falls leads to a viewing platform (there is no access to the falls). The path back is steep and has steps that can be slippery when wet. Take care when walking in damp conditions.

Distance: 3km return | Time: 1 hour | Difficulty: Strenuous

Triplet Falls

Triplet Falls

3.TRIPLET FALLS

Triplet Falls is one of the iconic visitor sites in the Great Otway National Park. Nestled amongst the ancient forests of Mountain Ash and Myrtle Beech with large sections of expanded metal boardwalks, you will discover three distinct and impressive cascades flowing through shady rainforests and glades of mossy tree ferns. The walk is quite close to the Otway Fly Treetop Adventures located on  Phillips Track near Beech Forest. The walk begins with some sections of steep steps so while it's not long, it is not suited to people with limited mobility. There are some very large Mountain Ash trees along the track which are estimated to be around 200 years old. Continuing on the loop back to the carpark, you come to the site of Knott's #1 Mill which operated for more than 20 years from 1909. The remains of a steam boiler overgrown by ferns is now the only evidence of one of the largest timber mills that operated in the West Otways region.

Distance: 2km return | Time: 1 hour | Difficulty: Moderate

OTWAYS (1 of 8).jpg

4.THE REDWOODS

At the remarkable Californian Redwoods, let your imagination come to life along this enchanting walk, where fairytales seem to come alive! This remarkable stand of the world's tallest tree species have thrived in Otway soil, far from their native California. Towering on the sheltered river flat at the Aire Valley Plantation, these Sequoia Sempervirens Trees were originally planted in 1936 by Victorian forresters for experimental purposes. While still in their youthful growth phase, the Otway Redwoods may one day claim the title of tallest trees in the world. A walk for the first time between the massive trunks flanking the river creates a special feeling of awe and reverence - not to be missed.

Distance: 500m return | Time: 15 mins | Difficulty: Easy

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest

Redwood Forest

5. Erskine Falls

Are at the end of Erskine Falls Road 10km north west of Lorne. There is a viewing point above the falls and a walking track, steep in places, leads to the base of the falls. The falls cascade over one of the highest drops in the Otways. Overcast days are the best time to photograph falls. Bring a 3 or 6 stop filter if you wish to slow down your shutter when too sunny. 1 -2 second shutter speed should do the trick. Even 1/2 or 1.4 second will works as well if there is enough water flow.

Distance: 1km return | Time: 30 mins | Difficulty: Easy

Erskine Falls

Erskine Falls

6.Point RoadKnight Beach

Bonus Extra Location:

It’s not a waterfall but if you are heading back to Melbourne and want a glimpse of the seascape shots along the coast, here is one worth a look. Before you drive into the town of Anglesea turn right into 8th street to find the car park at the southern end of Point Roadknight Beach. From here you will have to cut across the Lorne Queenscliff Coastal Reserve as seen on the map below. The image taken below at sunrise is not easy to find or walk to. The jagged rocks and high tides might limit how close you can get to make an image. You will find the jagged rocks at the southern most point of Point Roadknight Beach only through the reserve.

Screen Shot 2019-01-16 at 3.07.01 pm.png
Knight Bridge Pt. (1 of 1).jpg

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My Travel Photography Kit

Goes without saying a water bottle, small towel to dry lens and non slip water resistant boots are essential in this environment. Do you have any suggestions on the perfect shoe & pants?

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

5 Steps to Street Portraits

Humans (10 of 10).jpg

5 Steps to Street Portraits

Most people shy away from the idea of even trying a street portrait. Fear is the biggest reason to avoid confrontation and rejection. It took me at least 100 times before I got comfortable with asking strangers or shooting without permission.

Here are some tips to get you started and push you out of your comfort zone. Legally speaking most democratic societies allow photos in public but ethically speaking it’s your choice to make a decision if you would like to shoot without permission.

Always check the laws in each country. Always avoid confrontation and never argue with anyone you don’t know or wishes to have their photo deleted. It’s not worth the hassle and stress.

Street Portraits w/o PERMISSION


1. Lens choice

Don't use a long zoom lens as you will be noticed and will appear to be a paparazzi. For your own safety best to appear as if you are not focusing on an individual but more of a group of people simply to capture the ambience of the place.

If people start to notice you too much then it will be difficult to capture something spontaneous. My favourite lens range is a 28-50mm lens. 28-35mm for a photo journalistic look and 50mm for a classic portrait look.

Humans (6 of 10).jpg

2. Background 

Having a neutral background that draws the eye to your portraits main focus is important to add contrast and interest.

Busy backgrounds simply add and distract instead of minus and attract. Photography is the art of subtraction. Less is more.

Don’t crop your photos when editing. Look at the edge of your frames for any unwanted elements. Crop the image tightly in your head and have clear intent with pressing the shutter. Bullseye!

Environmental Refugees (1 of 6).jpg

3.  Lighting 

Lighting is paramount in this situation so look for nice soft light and a background that has contrast. Shooting with a shallow depth of field and having darker backgrounds always helps.

Look at what colour clothing they have and see how that adds to the contrast of the background. Nothing worst than seeing dark shadows under the eyes of your subject.

If they are squinting, then the light may be too strong. Even the subtle movement of a head one way or the other can change the direction of light. Watch closely.

Humans (7 of 10).jpg

4. Movement

In most cases people will be moving in a busy place so best to manually control your shutter speed and set to a speed suitable to the effect you are after. You might consider panning with a slow shutter speed equivalent to the speed they are moving.

For example 1/30th - 1/60th for a fast paced walk to create a blurry background and a person moving in focus.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to keep your background and movement in focus then best to speed up your shutter accordingly to match the pace.

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5. Editing 

When editing consider which two images may flow well together and whether or not to convert to B&W or leave in colour.

The colour grading you add on can also add a mood to the series. I often use Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik software in this order.

Shooting vertically and horizontally also gives me some choices when editing. If the eyes are not sharp I tend not to use them as a final cut. Emotion is the strongest driving force when choosing the best of the best.

Intramuros, Manila

Intramuros, Manila

Street Portraits w/ PERMISSION


1. Set Up 

Before you approach a stranger to ask their permission it would be best to set up your shot both technically and creatively. You need to have a clear vision on your outcomes.

Depending on your lighting conditions at the time of shooting you may prefer to keep your subjects away from direct harsh light. Best to do a test shot with a friend or of the background without the subject in front.

Take accurate light readings and anticipate the subject will not have any blown out highlights on their face or the rest of their body. A location with the same magnitude of light evenly and softly spread is ideal for a portrait.

Environmental Refugees (4 of 30).jpg

2. Style or Series

 Continuity or consistency in the lighting, message and concept can help thread or link together a series of photos to tell a story about a demographic such as the ones shown here.

A few words to accompany each series also adds more interest to explore a sub-culture, profession or type of person or style of fashion.

Sometime what they are wearing or how they act can teach us something about the people in their environment. Also known as an environmental portrait.

Environmental Refugees (25 of 30).jpg

3. Approach 

Pick your subjects properly and make sure your approach is polite, friendly and communicate clearly your intentions to avoid any rejection.

If someone is walking very quickly then it is obvious they are in a hurry and will probably be difficult to approach or get permission. Someone waiting for a friend or walking slowly might be more open to a quick portrait.

Environmental Refugees (18 of 30).jpg

4. Body Language

 Watch the body language and be quick to snap away on continuous shutter while you are asking questions.

Watch how they stand and how much or little you need to move in to shoot a head shot, waist up or full body shot.

Sometimes you might want to direct them to standing a certain way if the lighting is not quite right.

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5. Communication

Knowing the local lingo or having a translator on call is a definite plus.  I never touch my subjects or direct them too much. I prefer to act out how I would prefer them to move their posture.

Sometimes by moving myself a certain direction they move with me. Best to keep things flowing spontaneously and most importantly the quicker you can get them to trust you and work with you, the easier and more natural their movements will appear.

Siquijor, Philippines

Siquijor, Philippines

MY TRAVEL Photography Kit

Goes without saying a water bottle, small towel to dry lens and non slip water resistant boots are essential in this environment. Do you have any suggestions on the perfect shoe & pants?

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

Join me on a Philippine Photo Tour

How To Shoot Bombo Quarry & Cathedral Rocks

How To Shoot Bombo Quarry & Cathedral Rocks

Two hours south of Sydney on the NSW South coast are two of the most striking seascape locations in the country. Alfonso Calero shares six handy tips for anyone hoping to capture remarkable images of Bombo Quarry and Cathedral Rocks.

01 GETTING THERE


Bombo is a two-hour drive south of Sydney. The best way to access Bombo Quarry is from Darian Avenue. From your car it's a 15-minute walk to various part of the quarry with numerous vantage points depending on the time of day and the tide. 


If you want to shoot Cathedral Rocks park at Jones Beach car park and walk about 15 minutes along the beach heading south. A moderate level of fitness and flexibility is required to tackle these two locations.

Bombo Quarry (1 of 2).jpg

02 TIMING


Getting up at dawn isn't easy, but it's worth the bleary eyes. Use an app to check the sunrise time and try to get set up 30 or 40 minutes beforehand. Check the tides too and be extra careful when it comes to setting up your tripod and camera.

Don't put yourself, or your gear, in harm's way. Once the sun is up it will be too difficult to shoot, even with a proper hard grad filter. If you are thinking of shooting at night, Bombo Quarry rather than Cathedral Rocks is safer and easier.

Bombo Quarry (2 of 2).jpg

03 USEFUL GEAR


A wide-angle lens somewhere between 16 and 24mm (equivalent) is ideal for seascapes. You'll need a sturdy tripod to keep your camera from moving in the sometimes gusty winds and a plastic cover to keep any rain or water spray out.

A cable or remote release is handy to stop you bumping the camera when you push the camera, but using the self-timer is a cheap alternative. There are all sorts of filters that can help you get better pictures but the best is the neutral density (ND) filter which helps you cut the light and use a slower shutter speed.

Graduated ND filters which are darker at the top and clear on the bottom are great for managing high-contrast sunrise photos.

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04 CAMERA SETTINGS


To get the best quality out of your camera select the lowest sensitivity setting, usually 50 or 100 ISO. For optimal sharpness and depth of field, I use an aperture f/11. Every lens has an optimal f-stop, at which it is sharpest, usually between f/8 and f/16, so experiment to see what works best.

Shooting RAW delivers better quality and more editing options than JPEG.In regard to shutter speed, most of the images in this story were photographed between 1/15s and 30s, depending on what I was trying to achieve.

It can be challenging at this location to get plenty of detail in the dark basalt rocks without blowing out the highlights in the sky. 

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05 COMPOSITION


See if you can choose one element that will be the dominant part of your shot. Look around the frame for distractions and look for ways to eliminate them.

Remember, photography is the art of subtraction. Leading lines can be an effective tool to lead viewers' eyes to the main subject.

Be aware that brighter areas will attract the most attention so make sure they aren't distracting from the overall composition. Make sure the horizon line is level. 

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06 EDITING


I use three different types of software for editing – Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik Software – and I use them in that order. I do most of my editing in Lightroom, advanced re-touching in photoshop and, finally, I use Nik software to add just a little more Pop.

Aside from the basic edits of white balance, tint, contrast, highlight and shadow, my favourite tools to use are the graduated filter and the adjustment brush. 

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MY TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY KIT

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | Macbook Pro 13 inch | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

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5 Reasons to Enjoy Landscapes in Winter

"Winter is Coming" is a famous quote from Jon Snow of the T.V. Show "Game Of Thrones". While many people might go into a G.O.T form of hibernation at this time of year, that doesn't have to happen!

Photography can lift your spirits and bring loads of better photo opportunities even in the freakin' cold weather.

So pull out your jacket and gloves and get out and explore the creative possibilities that are waiting.

Here are some reasons why you should be out and about shooting some great images at the coldest time of the year. 

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1. Sunrise is not as early
You don't have to wake up at 5 am to catch a dawn shoot or wait till 9 pm to hook a sunset.

Winter days are definitely shorter with a sunrise at around 7 am and sunset at 5 pm. Of course as the months pass times will change slightly.

Aside from knowing the correct time for a sunrise or a sunset, it is also important to arrive at least 30-45 minutes before a sunrise and stick around just as long after a sunset.

The blue hour, as it is known, can produce some magic moments. When shooting for the stars then knowing when you have a full moon or not can also affect your photo opportunities.

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2. The air is cleaner outside
Indoor air quality also becomes a greater concern during the winter because of the amount of time that people stay inside in poor ventilation.

Without adequate circulation, carbon dioxide levels can become an issue, leading to headaches and lethargy.

Generally, outdoor air quality is better than indoor air, so the best antidote is to get outside regularly.

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3. The stars are clearer
There is less humidity and the best view of the Milky Way is available at this time of year.

The atmospheric conditions like light pollution and humidity also affect the view. Clearer skies are more often experienced in winter.

Here is a link to an article on astrophotography basics.

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4. Lower light levels
Because of the lower angles of the sun (the same lower angles that make it so bloody cold), your "quality of light" is generally better throughout the day and shadows are longer (sometimes a good element for your photos).

If your shooting day presents you with cloudy, overcast weather, you might also consider changing to the “Cloudy” white balance setting to add some warmth to your photos and minimize any blue cast.

This means your ND filters or grad hard or soft filters are not being used as much. 

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5. Lower sun
For aerial photography, snowy and frosty conditions perfectly emphasise ridges and features and they can be photographed with a clarity not seen at any other time of the year.

The low level to which the sun rises casts much longer shadows, making visibility of above ground features much easier to spot.

Heavy brooding skies, the low sun and those stormy seas and frost-coated landscapes.

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Sevilla's 5 Best Photo Locations

Sevilla’s 5 Best Photo Locations

Seville is the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region. It's famous for flamenco dancing. Major landmarks include the ornate Alcázar castle complex, built during the Moorish Almohad dynasty. We based ourselves in an apartment close to the cathedral.

Most of Seville can be tackled on foot. Below is a google map route highlighting the best spots for photography for first time visitors. Even though the walk will only take 35 minutes I would encourage you to head down as many back alleys as possible.

Getting lost in Seville is a fun adventure. Have your gps on your phone to get you back on track to visit the 5 key locations. Triana across the river is another lovely area if you wish to experience more flamenco culture. 

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1. Plaza De Espana

Built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition world fair in 1929. Famous film location for Lawrence of Arabia & Star Wars attack of the clones. 

Plaza de España is actually set within the Maria Luisa Park, which originally was part of the gardens of the Alcázar palace. It is a landmark example of the Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture

Plaza De Espana

Plaza De Espana

Plaza De Espana with two lovely tourists from Valencia.

Plaza De Espana with two lovely tourists from Valencia.

 

2. Royal Alcazar

Landmark Moorish royal palace with fountain-filled gardens, ornate arches & 16th-century tiles. I would strongly suggest you book your tickets online to jump the lines. The whole walk will take you about 2 hours. There is so much detail in the architecture.

Coincidentally a convenience store called 711 is when Islam arrived in Spain and stayed till 1492. The baths underneath the main building are worth a look. 

Alcazar Baths

Alcazar Baths

Alcazar

Alcazar

3. The Jewish Quarter

Is a stones throw from the Alcazar and the Cathedral. Through a labyrinth of laneways you can enjoy getting lost in this area. Keep your gps on your mobile if you need to hit a destination but be prepared to explore what this zone has to offer.

Riddled with fantastic tapas bars you can't go wrong with a google review search mostly rating 4 stars. Any of the small churches in the area are equally as impressive if not more charming than the cathedral. 

La Juderia Laneways

La Juderia Laneways

4. El Rinconcillo Restaurant

Seville’s most ancient bar, is a place with centuries of history located in the old town. Since 1670 until today, thousands of people have been charmed by this singular place that still preserves the magical taste of the old Seville.

Enjoying its popular and delicious tapas in this unique location is like making a time travel that enchants visitors from all over the world every single day. Once you place your drink and food order the waiter will write the prices with a chalk on the table or bar to keep a tab of your bill.

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Codfish with Tomato Sauce.

Codfish with Tomato Sauce.

5. Metropol Parasol

A wooden structure located at La Encarnación square, in the old quarter of Seville, Spain. It was designed by the German architect Jürgen Mayer and completed in April 2011.

Best described as waffles in the sky but also known as The wooden structure of mushrooms. Unique in the world, is 150 meters long by 70 meters wide and about 30 high; also it contains 3500 parts joined by nearly 3,000 knots and screws 16M. 

In total, 3,500 cubic meters of raw wood Finnish pine micro-laminate (KERTO) coated waterproof, breathable and flexible polyurethane. 

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MY TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY KIT

Camera: Fujifilm XT3 | Lenses: 35mm (F1.4) & 14mm (F2.8) | Tripod: Sirui T024SX | Macbook Pro 13 inch | Total Weight: 5 Kg.

Five Days in the Faroe Islands

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The Faroe Islands are an archipelago between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic, about halfway between Norway and Iceland, 320 kilometres (200 miles) north-northwest of Scotland. The islands are an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark.

Their area is about 1,400 square kilometres (541 square miles) with a population of 50,322 in October 2017.

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The Faroes' terrain is rugged, and the islands have a sub-polar oceanic climate: windy, wet, cloudy, and cool. Despite this island group's northerly latitude, temperatures average above freezing throughout the year because of the Gulf Stream.

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Between 1035 and 1814, the Faroes were part of the Hereditary Kingdom of Norway. In 1814, the Treaty of Kiel granted Denmark control over the islands, along with two other Norwegian island possessions: Greenland and Iceland.

The Faroe Islands have been a self-governing country within the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948. The Faroese have control of most domestic matters. Areas that remain the responsibility of Denmark include military defence, policing and the justice department, currency, and foreign affairs. 

View down to Funingur photographed at midnight.

View down to Funingur photographed at midnight.

However, as they are not part of the same customs area as Denmark, the Faroe Islands have an independent trade policy and can establish trade agreements with other states.

The islands also have representation in the Nordic Council as members of the Danish delegation. The Faroe Islands also have their own national teams competing in certain sports. 

DAY 1 Elduvik

Elduvík is located in the Funningsfjørður-inlet on Eysturoy's northeast side. The village which has a population of 23 is split into two parts by a small river. The church in Elduvík dates from 1952. Visible from Elduvík is the nearby island of Kalsoy

This was our base for two nights to explore the best landscape spots within 30 minutes drive. Our accomodation was in a grass roofed house and built over 200 hundreds years ago. With recent renovations of the property it was very comfortable as seen in the pictures above. Click the image to see a slideshow.

Funningsfjørður is a village located at the end of a fjord of the same name. It was founded in 1812 and has since 2005 been part of the municipality of Runavík. From Elduvik  its a quick 15 minute drive and on the way to other key locations 30 minutes away. 

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Eiði is a village located on the north-west tip of Eysturoy, Faroe Islands. Its name means isthmus in the Faroese language. The town has a population of 669 inhabitants.

Eiði was settled by Vikings in the 9th century AD. Just outside the village you can capture some great vantage points for a spectacular sunset. The drive into the valley is equally as spellbinding.

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Gjógv is a village located on the northeast tip of the island of Eysturoy, in the Faroe Islands and 63 km north by road from the capital of Tórshavn.

If you are driving to Eidi you might as well have a quick look as it's only a 15 minute detour on the way back to Funingur.

Gjogv at midnight in summer.

Gjogv at midnight in summer.

The drive into Eiði before sunset was surreal with the clouds hanging low over Eiði lake. The sheep were extremely friendly and posed nicely for a sunset shot. 

Eiði  Lake

Eiði Lake

Day 2 Viðareiði is the northernmost settlement in the Faroe Islands and lies on the Island of Viðoy, which belongs to the Norðoyar Region. From Elduvik it takes about an hour driving through various under ground tunnels that connect the islands. 

Viðareidis church is a stone church in Viðareiði built in 1892. It is beautifully situated, overlooking the sea and towards Enniberg and Kunoyarnakkur.

Despite not being able to see these two points because of cloud and fog cover the atmosphere of the area was eerie and calming. Calming because of the low tide and eerie because of the cloud and fog. The green grass is lush and has deep tones of dark olive. 

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There are more sheep (70K) than people living on the islands. Since most islands are treeless and are elongated in shape, most roads run along the perimeter. You are never more than 5km to the nearest shoreline.

It's main industry is Salmon Fish Farms which can be seen dotted everywhere. Lamb is also the main industry and all other food products are flown in daily from Denmark. At the local supermarket you find lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Another fun fact about the sheep is their clever use as a tourist campaign to join forces with google maps. Attaching cameras to their backs we are now able to get some unique street and mountain views.

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On the way back to Elduvik we passed Hvannasund a village located on the west coast of the island of Viðoy. It faces Norðdepil on Borðoy. The villages are connected to each other by a causeway where the image above was taken.

There are no traffic lights in the tunnels so when crossing over islands you might have one lane. Within the tunnels there are spots you can pull into while a car drives past. The capital of Torshavn has 3 traffic lights as this is where most people live (21K).

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Day 3 Torshavn

Tórshavn, on Streymoy Island, is the capital city of the Faroe Islands. It's known for its old town, Tinganes, crammed with wooden turf-roofed houses on a small peninsula. When the roof meets the ground level sheep are used to mow the lawn. Staying in one of the these houses is a great experience when visiting the Faroes. 

Old Town in Torshavn

Old Town in Torshavn

On the 1st of June we happened to be in town for Cultural Night. All shops open till 11pm and many food stalls line the streets in festive ambience of community. Music is a big part of Faroese culture with many bands and indie artists performing at various venues.

We stumbled upon a local talent called Jasmine at the Sirkus Bar. Our accomodation owned by a famous fashion designer called Gudrun & Gudrun was stylish and comfortable with a relaxing view of a small port in front of the cottage.

Fog seemed to be engulfing the town for most of our stay as we heard fog horns blowing for most of the early morning. 

The Faroe Islands may not be an independent country, but it still has one of the oldest Parliaments in the world. Tinganes, where parliament first met in the 9th century, is probably one of the oldest parliamentary meeting places in the world that is still in use. It is also a picturesque part of the capital city, Torshavn.

Sheep are clearly a national staple, in fact, the islands’ name comes from the Viking word for sheep, but salmon is equally as important, and delicious. The local company Bakkafrost is the eighth largest salmon farming company in the world. 

Torshavn Port in thick fog.

Torshavn Port in thick fog.

Day 4 Sandavagur

Sandavágur is a city on the south coast of the Faroese island of Vágar, and has been voted the most well-kept village in the Faroes twice. And it's the most famous city in the country, and best voted traveling experience. I stayed here the night and not quite sure if I missed something but it seemed just like any other town.

The highlight of the area is photographing what is close by. If you are looking for cascading waterfalls flowing into the ocean from cliff tops, then Gasadalur is only a 30 minute drive away. On the way there you will see the arch shaped mammoth rock and spike tops on the island next to it. 

Drangarnir is the collective name for two sea stacks between the islet Tindhólmur and the island Vágar in the Faroe Islands. The individual names of the sea stacks are Stóri Drangur and Lítli Drangur.

Drangarnir

Drangarnir

If you wish to get a closer look at Drangarnir an 8 hour return walk is needed to get to the closest cliffs. The village of Bøur is a village in the Sørvágur Municipality of the Faroe Islands, 4 km west of Sørvágur, with a population of 75 is where you can get this view.

The ferry pictured below is coming back from the island of Mykines where if you are lucky you can see puffin birds.

Drangarnir & Tindholmur

Drangarnir & Tindholmur

From Bøur to Gandasalur is a 10 minute drive. They have recently marked the cliff top walk to the cascading Mulafossur Waterfall to avoid accidents.

If some torrential rain has come and high tide is hitting the coastline you can get some atmospheric shots. We unfortunately had a beautiful clear blue sky day which is very rare.

Mulafossur Waterfall

Mulafossur Waterfall

Mulafossur Waterfall

Mulafossur Waterfall

Day 5: Witches Finger

In the village of Sandavagur you can take short walk along the cliff face. On our final day on the way to the airport we crossed our fingers to hope for a break in the fog that had been covering the witches finger for 24 hours. Low and behold the for a brief moment we saw her for this quick shot.

Witches Finger

Witches Finger

Reality VS Expectation: Unfortunately, the 4th day we attempted the 2 hour return climb to Trælanípan to view Sorvagsvatn Lake we had zero visibility with heavy fog. Despite waiting for an hour at the cliff top view this is all we saw. Have a look at this spot we missed out on from Mads Petersen video.

If you wish to join me on a photo tour please send me an email to let me know which month works best for you. If you wish to join my next photo tour, please click this link for more info.

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