DISTORTED REFLECTIONS – Melbourne CBD

I have a vague feeling I’ve already uploaded this image, but I’ll share it again for the new followers.
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DUSK IN MY NEW BACKYARD – Somewhere in Suburbia

Light was fading fast as I left the riverside walking path late this afternoon.

I took a quick short-cut through my new backyard and made a few photos along the way.

One can’t help but admire the strong architectural lines and shapes that marked my path (after the natural landscape and silhouettes that ended a nature walk along the river).  A pity it wasn’t earlier with more light,  but the nature walk was unforgettable and my Living with Nature blog will show off the highlights over the coming weekend.

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JUST WALKING AROUND

I love ambling around the pedestrian-only shopping precinct of Melbourne’s CBD people-watching.

I love the mundane and ordinary (as I’ve often said before)…expressions on people’s faces.

The fatigue and boredom of some.

The lively expression of others.

The chaotic scramble as shops and office buildings close down and melt into the low hum of cafe society – coffee shops, wine bars and restaurants – opening up for the evening trade.

The last bars of the Busker’s song and the frantic fumbling as I negotiate my new camera’s haphazard listing of settings.  And a silent curse as I resort to Auto ISO, Auto white balance and Auto Auto.  No, I don’t mean ‘full’ Auto.  I thought I had ‘the cat in the bag‘ last week, but I seem to be struggling with the exposure this week.  And the framing.  And my memory (of manual read and repetitious sample shots at night).

Too many things to do this week, so my Photography will be limited.

 

 

A BUSKER’S LIFE

Life as a Busker, (street musician, artist or other Creative) is not always about the songs one sings or the audience that stops to listen.

It’s the clink of coins in the collection cap/basket/box.

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I entered into a lively discussion with the German ‘traveller’ who was the owner of the coin collection above. He was an occupational therapist from Berlin travelling through Australia and New Zealand selling his art along the way (to help fund his travels). He was obviously very talented and had a unique style for pen and watercolour wash. I don’t know what it is about travellers, but they always have an open mind and the spirit of adventure which I admire. They’re nearly always wonderful raconteurs and we briefly discussed the fjords in New Zealand’s south island (which I’d never been to, but always wanted to see).

I only wish I’d travelled more when I was in my youth and had the health, (and money), to fully explore more distant lands. The UK and central Europe (with a brief holiday in the tourist cities of Asia) are but distant memories to this grey-haired old armchair traveller that I am today.

Anyway, I’ll soon be off in a new direction in my own life, with my own rented flat up for sale by the landlord, and having to find a new home. I can’t afford this prime inner city location any more anyway, so who knows where I’ll end up. Hope it’s in a place where I wake up to the sound of birds chirping in the Spring and the wind rustling through the trees in Winter.

DON’T WALK……….WALK (Melbourne CBD)

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I’m having great fun with my new Sony ‘mirrorless’ camera, but getting frustrated in the city, as I keep having to change lenses back and forth, from 15-60mm f3.5 – 5.6 kit lens, to 55-210mm f4.5 – 6.3 kit lens, and back again.  I do believe I need an 18-200mm lens like my old Canon DSLR favourite lens i.e. a combination of both kit lenses.

(Thinking to Self…..I wonder if the camera store would swap the two kit lenses for an 18-200mm lens? – probably not – the Sony 18-200mm lens is so expensive.  Make mental note to put it on the Wish List).

Patience, patience, I keep telling myself.  We’re having some lovely Autumn-like weather this week in Melbourne.  Sunny and warm, cooler in the shade and NO humidity (which I’m aware of).

I’m totally in awe of this camera.  The autofocus is so fast and the focus nice and sharp (compared to my old DSLR).  I used it in the Botanic Gardens for an hour or so today and tried capturing birds on continuous focus/shooting.  At 11fps (frames per second), it was a joy to use.  I managed to get a bird’s face in focus ok, but don’t know how to get the sharp focus on the bird’s eye.  I did a Google search with the question and it seems there’s some sort of ‘custom function’ within the face recognition menu.  I couldn’t quite grasp the instructions on the Sony a6000 forum I was reading, but I’ll get it in the end.

I’m beginning to sound like an advert for Sony Cameras 😀 but seriously, I was making photos of anything and everything as I walked along the street yesterday,  aiming for the finale (some time in the future), when I can change anything on the menu and dials (without having to move my eye from the viewfinder).  I really felt like a Photographer today.

One of my few criticisms is that in fumbling over the last week since I made the purchase, it’s very easy to drop into a sub-menu and change some setting when I least expect it.  In Chinatown yesterday, I ended up with a short series of photos of which there were 3 of each subject.  I had accidentally dropped into ‘Bracketing’ so I had 1 photo underexposed, 1 photo ‘correctly’ exposed and 1 photo overexposed (for use in combining in post processing when you’ve got underexposed foreground and over-exposed sky) – something I’ve never done before.

Interestingly enough, with the ‘mirrorless’ camera, I have to actually think about each shot/subject and often change the settings.  With my old Canon DSLR, I often left it on the same settings most of the afternoon, only changing the focal point or zooming in & out with the telephoto lens.

Thank goodness I’ve had 4 1/2 years practice with a DSLR before buying this new camera.  I never would have known what the manual was talking about 4 years ago.  I’ve bookmarked a lengthy detailed version of the whole Sony a6000 manual, as the flimsy little paper version that came in the box is very basic (to say the least).

I do believe I’m learning a little about the technical side of a Camera in recent days, where in the past, I concentrated on the subject.

THE EVERYDAY, THE ORDINARY (Slice of life in Federation Square, Melbourne)

I love the Everyday or Ordinary ‘slices’ of Melbourne city life, as people go about their day.  I love the sight of those people wrapped up in their thoughts or using their modern tech devices contrasting with the shared conversation of the three people in the bottom right quadrant.

You can be right in the middle of a crowd of people and feel completely alone and isolated OR you can turn to the person next to you and start an animated discussion and discover a kindred spirit.  Life is like that in Western Society.

Just as you can feel all alone in a room full of people.

Below, last ‘test’ shot of the afternoon  with the new camera and this one is straight out of the camera, no post processing or fiddling with the exposure – Bingo! I got the exposure correct in-camera.

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I lived in a block of apartments 15 years ago and every evening for a few weeks an Indian Lady (visiting her daughter in Melbourne), knocked on my door to ‘take tea and chat‘.  We’d never met before and I was surprised when the 1st visit happened ‘quite out of the blue‘, as we say in Australia.  No doubt this delightful Indian lady could never imagine spending an evening alone (as I did after my workday).

 

(as always, if you see yourself in one of my street photos and object to its public viewing, please don’t hesitate to contact me via the email on my About page and I’ll remove it promptly).

TEST SHOT #2……..(with my new camera)

I think I’ve fallen in LOVE.

…….with a camera.

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I went into the city centre today to buy a spare battery for my new camera.  I’ve only had the camera 3 days and I can already see that the short battery life of the Sony a6000 just won’t do for me (at all).  Roughly, it shoots about 350 jpeg images and like all new toys, I can’t stop playing with it.

I thought I’d have a tiny walk around a city block (before going to my local food market to buy some food for dinner).

That tiny walk became well over 3 hours, so there’s no fresh vegetables or fruit for dinner!

Looks like chicken & rice (again)! 😀

TEST SHOT #1 (with my new Sony a6000 camera)

This is one of the first test shots I made with my new Sony a6000 mirrorless camera (24.3 mp) in the city yesterday. Had to go into the city to get my service provider to check out my Mac Pro as my internet keeps dropping out (over the last couple of days). They thought it might be something to do with my nearest wireless tower having some ‘hiccoughs’.

I have to be honest and say this was a random shot and I’m wasn’t sure about settings at this stage of my afternoon, but doesn’t matter for this example.  Can’t remember if this was Aperture Priority or Manual Mode.  It certainly wasn’t full AUTO (as I haven’t use that setting on a camera for about 4 years).

I just zoomed in on the image this morning and can see the numbers and one of the hands on the dial of this photographer’s wrist watch. Not clearly, but I can see them on this hand-held shot of mine. My Canon DSLR (18mp) would never have been able to pick this detail up (on a hand-held shot).

I can only imagine how sharp a tripod shot might be.  I can see already that my new Sony a6000 is going to be a VERY good investment indeed.  This image was made using one of the kit lenses in the promotion pack – the E 55 – 210mm F4.5 – 6.3 telephoto.  I read a couple of reviews last week that said the ‘kit’ lenses weren’t very good, but I can only say, as an Amateur photographer,  I’m impressed (compared to my Canon EOS 600D).  The only PP I’ve done is increase the definition and lighten the shadows as the deep shade of the lane was too dark to see the photographer (compared to the bright sunlight on the model).

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BUSY SHOPPERS – Melbourne CBD

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NOTE: I have swapped from Canon DSLRs (getting too heavy for my worsening chronic back pain) to Sony a6000 mirror less (much, much smaller and lighter) yesterday, and the ‘weird’ menu configuration is not easy to navigate, so I hope you’ll be patient while I practice.

HOMELESS

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I’ve often seen this young homeless man making cards on the pavement outside the department store and felt deeply about his plight.  He has a backpack and a few drawing pencils to use to make a few dollars.  I know he doesn’t like his photo being taken, hence the back view in this image.

I see his tattered old backpack holding his meagre possessions.

I see his take-away drink containers lined up like bored sentries on guard duty.

I see a few coins scattered in his shoebox.

His pencils are few (and his paper sheets even fewer).

But he is proud and likes to make cards to sell, instead of plain sitting in motionless despair (begging for a few coins).

I don’t know where he sleeps at night…whether he is warm in winter, or hot on steamy summer days, but I do care about his well-being.

I DO think about him.

I wonder if the passers-by see his plight OR walk around him intent on their shopping spree?

Who knows.

Not me.

MORE BUSKERS (from my Archives)

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It may have been a chilly day in Winter 2012, but Buskers in Melbourne’s CBD still seem to draw a crowd. Whether watching, or just talking among themselves, (as in the third image), music (of all kinds) makes for an uplifting gathering together of kindred spirits.

I just love the Artists, Musicians, Acrobats, Mine Artists and everyone else who roam Melbourne’s shopping precinct (hoping to make a dollar or two).

NO BICYCLE PARKING ANYTIME

(but “Store dummies in flimsy negligée are ok as long as they’re chained securely”, they should have added on the second line).

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As you can see I’m easily amused at my age – couldn’t resist sharing this one. Now what category should this be filed under, I wonder.

I know………FINE ART

SHRINE OF REMEMBRANCE (Melbourne)

Photo made 23rd April 2014
Photo made 23rd April 2014

The Shrine of Remembrance commemorates those men and women who gave their lives in war and more can be read about it here.  It underwent a major multi-million dollar upgrade with a new underground education facility recently.

I’ve made dozens of ‘picture post-card‘ colour images like every other tourist/visitor, so when I had an ‘hour to kill‘ before an appointment last week, I spent some time trying to think of how I really see it.  There are so many stairs and not easy to walk up and down with heavy camera gear and shopping as I had last week and in the end, I just sat on the bottom of the eastern steps in the shade while eating my lunch and photographed the stairs beside me.

IMG_9844In one of the new sunken forecourts which lead to the visitor centre, the solemn stone structure and stark architecture is broken with a highly creative new ‘sculpture’ of red shade cloth and with my limited lenses, quite impossible to photograph, so I decided to just make an image of some of the flowing lines that greet you as you enter through an archway.  While you can’t see the shapes in the image below, I thought they looked like the petals of a red poppy and wondered if that was the intention of the designer, (as we wear red poppies on Remembrance Day in Australia).

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And some more images from my archives…

7th September 2010
7th September 2010

Personally, I think the building looks more majestic in the winter, especially with storm clouds in the background.  The image above and below were shot in September 2010 with my little point and shoot Canon Powershot A3000 IS. This tiny camera may be small, but the image below is still my favourite image of the building.

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CAFE CLOSED

I’m a great lover of the mundane, (or ordinary), moments I see in Melbourne’s CBD.  Somehow, capturing a small space, or person/people going about their everyday lives, in a photo, seems so much more than the sum of the whole street scene before my naked eye.  The following 2 photos are of the same little café, but I couldn’t decide which image I liked best. Both look a little soft in focus as I had the shutter speed far too slow for a hand-held shot in the dimly lit arcade.  I can’t normally hold the camera still below a shutter speed of about 1/40.  The images below were at 1/8.

I love the stillness of the empty café with no human life visible.  I love the soft light as Darkness falls.  I love the suggestion that the day has ended and everyone has gone home to rest and recover from their activity.

In their own little space.

Slowing down.

Feeding their Body.

Calming their Mind.

Replenishing their Soul.

I cannot imagine the internal workings of people who live at a frenetic pace 24/7.  If I didn’t have time to Think – sit in Silent Contemplation, or listen to the Wind outside my window, I wouldn’t feel fulfilled or content.

Not many people seem to be comfortable with their own company these days.  They are always ‘plugged in’ to a piece of modern technology that ‘talks’ and ‘entertains’ them.  Well, in the inner city, anyway.

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JUST A LOAD OF OLD BOTTLES

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I’ve photographed this collection of old pharmacy bottles in a city arcade many times over the last 4 years.

It’s always a challenge that I enjoy.  This display is in a small window box and has a mirrored back, mirrored sides & mirrored ceiling (of the box).  The challenge is to photograph the bottles in a pleasing composition without your face/hands/camera showing in one of the mirrors.

It’s not as easy as it looks!

IN THE GREENHOUSE (Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne)

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All I can say is working with a 50mm f1.4 lens (since the autofocus on my 18-200mm 3.5-5.6 telephoto ‘walkabout’ lens started going downhill), is proving challenging.

I think the hardest part is trying to decide where to put the focal point on an object (or flower) that I can’t see clearly.  For 4+ years I’ve been zooming in with a telephoto lens to take close-ups (unless I’ve got my macro lens with me of course).

The image above has been rotated 90 degrees, but it wasn’t until I converted it to B & W that I decided where I’d crop the image and erase some distracting bits.

I’m still not up to shooting in monochrome yet.  I just can’t see the potential in-camera.  Perhaps I never will.  But then I haven’t used my 50mm lens very much in the past.  Practice. Practice………….Practice (says my inner voice).

CIGARETTE & MOBILE PHONE BREAK (no coffee in sight)

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I’m always looking for people or faces to photograph (having no friends or family living close by who are willing to be ‘subjects’).

But yesterday, down a pretty dark deserted lane way in the city, I was trying to make some images of the street art on the opposite side of the lane with NO people within the frame.

This young man talking on his mobile phone constantly kept walking in triangles opting to be in the frame when I raised my DSLR to my eye – no matter what direction I pointed the camera, he walked straight into the area.

So I made a random shot of him.  The image is straight out of the camera but I figured he, finally, deserved a photo.

Photography and the Art of Seeing

I’m in the middle of reading Freeman Patterson’s book Photography and the Art of Seeing.

Freeman Patterson writes about Thinking Sideways and Breaking the Rules AND “Chance”.  “Give many happy accidents a chance to happen”.   So I did!

But it wasn’t until towards the end of this afternoon, just before I left Union Lane in the city centre to go home, that this image suddenly appeared before me and I had to share it with you.    I must admit I hit the shutter button pretty quickly and didn’t bother to check the camera settings (or where the focal points were aiming).

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I wondered who the legs belonged to and why this young female was standing behind a half-closed roller door in a dark dingy freight loading bay with her teddy bear, baring a generous length of slim shapely legs.

And to give you an idea of where she was standing, here’s an image I made on Monday of the same freight delivery entrance and roller door – this time  the roller door was completely open and there were NO legs anywhere to be seen 😀

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My theory………..she was making an illicit transaction………. as I could hear a faint male voice nearby.  After a few minutes the roller door went right down to the ground and I decided to head for home, none the wiser as to whom the legs belonged to.

I have a few other interesting images to share, but I’d better check them tomorrow morning in the light of day to check their exposure and contrast, as I was shooting with my 50mm f1.4 lens most of the afternoon and “broke a few rules” (as Freeman Patterson puts it).

JUST A PUDDLE or two

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Nope!

I think I prefer the colour version.

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It’s been raining a lot in the last week or so and even a few thunderstorms.   Monday, when I made these photos, had plenty of blue sky when I went into the city centre, but today, it’s dawned overcast again.

So it’s a toss-up between going back into the city to check out the ‘puddle-life’ OR household chores and laundry?

Hmmmmm………decisions, decisions.