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Detail_Mungo National Park_NSW

Detail_Mungo National Park_NSW

Leica M7 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M Aspherical lens with Kodak Ektachrome E100VS film

Mungo National Park in far Southwest NSW, Australia is a fascinating location for exploring and photography. It’s an ancient, arid landscape that many thousands of years ago was part of a huge inland lake system that supported a range of flora and fauna and, as a consequence, the regions indigenous people.

This image was made at the end of a long day’s exploration. I’d photographed the sunset, which rendered naturally sculptured elements on the dunes into surreal, vividly colored forms. The light lingered for at least 20 minutes after sunset and produced a soft, warm glow to the landscape. Noticing the tuft of grass, on the top of a mound of sand, I moved in for a close up. It’s a straightforward image that relies on the color contrast between the grass and sand, the repetitive pattern of the lines and the bizarre relationship between the seemingly disparate elements of grass and sand.

This small tuft of grass, isolated by the surrounding sand, acts as a metaphor that could suggest a range of thoughts including the following:

  • The risk to our way of life posed by a changing environment
  • The ability to survive, despite your environment
  • Your ability to grow, despite hardship
  • People that seem to have nothing in common, co-existing peacefully

The vivid color saturation associated with Kodak Professional Ektachrome 100Vs film did a great job of portraying the strength of color in this image. I’ve employed Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS4 (I processed this image prior to upgrading to CS5) to process the scanned transparency to reproduce, as accurately as possible, the colors recorded by the film. A strong vignette was added to help draw the eye towards the key foreground elements.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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Shrubs on Dune_Mungo National Park_NSW

Photographing shrubs on a sand dune_backlit by the rising sun_Mungo National Park_NSW

Leica M7 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M series lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 film. Exposure Details:

Mungo National Park in far southwest NSW is a great place for the intrepid traveler and landscape photographer. The harsh, arid environment and the park’s formidable distance from capital cities, around an 8-hour drive from Melbourne where I currently reside, ensure it doesn’t receive the quantity of tourists it deserves. And that’s one of its charms. I travelled around the park for several days and only saw one other independent traveler and a bunch of retirees on a tour. But the very best times to photograph, early morning and early evening, I was alone. And that’s heaven for a landscape photographer.

The above image was made just after sunrise with the shrubs backlit by the fast rising sun. I decided to render the original color transparency into black-and-white to better achieve the starkness I needed to convey the sense of eerie silence I experienced at the time the image was made.

It seemed to me that this relatively banal subject matter, somehow surviving in a most inhospitable environment, offered me an opportunity to explore notions of survival, hope and growth, despite adversity.

Such notions provide powerful metaphors for the photographic artist that can help take your photos up to the next level. So remember, your photographs should not just be about what you see, but how you feel about what you see. And that is as important for landscape, portrait, architecture and documentary photographers as it is for the painter, sculpture or writer.

Image processing was conducted in Adobe Lightroom 3 and Adobe Photoshop CS5.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Photographing Stain Glass Windows

The beauty of a stain glass window portrayed in this black and white photo.

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M Aspherical lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

Beautiful to behold stain glass windows are also great to photograph.

To be able to capture the color within the glass it’s best to shoot from inside out into the light. For a more interesting result you might try photographing from an extreme angle or, otherwise, concentrating your composition on an interesting area within the window. Another option, where the stain glass window includes a human representation, is to move in close and concentrate your composition on the subject’s expression and/or gestures. Just as in a portrait, these elements can enhance the emotional impact of your photograph.

While the stain glass window in question exhibited beautiful color I decided that a black-and-white rendering would best portray its inherent textural and emotive qualities. I added a subtle warm/cool split tone to further enhance the result.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Alice Springs_Where Old World Meets The Down Right Quirky

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm Summicron_M f2 Aspherical lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

I love Alice Springs. With a population of around 28,000 people the Alice is the regions major town and a great base from which to explore, in any direction, the wondrous Central Australian landscape.

Part oasis, part frontier town with a tough, hard working ethic the Alice has long been a magnet for those wanting a better life. As a result much of the town’s current population have migrated there over the last 15 years. Adventure and opportunities provide strong motivation for many, including the lost and the lonely. Of course no town is an absolute Eden on earth. Ongoing issues relating to indigenous people, a large and largely secret US intelligence base and the likelihood of a major mining project set to commence within a few years act to divide the community.

The images in this post explore the old world nostalgia, associated with­ European settlement, juxtaposed against typical Central Australian humor.

The Ghan is an iconic term in Australia and the above image depicts a retired carriage that previously travelled the long rail route to and from Adelaide. Nowadays the line has been extended to Darwin, providing a single, continuous rail line from north to south.

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M series Aspherical lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

The Alice Springs Regatta is a boat race held along the (usually) dry riverbed of the Todd River. This annual event provides fun for locals and tourists alike.

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M series Aspherical lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

Driving in the centre is not without risk, particularly after dark. Whether it’s kangaroos or camels, you drive at your own peril after dark. And, depending upon your point of view, moonlight may not be the best time to be on the road anywhere near Wycliffe Well, 380km north of Alice Springs and a 13km drive south of the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve. This area is famous for UFO sightings. Karlwe Karlwe, as the Devils Marbles are known to indigenous folk, is indeed a mysterious site. Huge granite boulders, piled on top of each other and set against a clear blue sky, provides a striking sight in an otherwise flat and seemingly unchangeable landscape.

When next you visit Alice Springs do your best to engage with the local town folk and try to see at least some of the more offbeat attractions both in and out of town.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Tone and Texture_Mount Buffalo National Park_Victoria

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm Summicron f2 lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

I love Mount Buffalo National Park. The drive up the mountain, the final stage of the trip north from Melbourne, really helps to get me into the right headspace for alpine photography. Of course the air on the mountain, like the weather, is often crisp and clear. It’s a wonderful place for short hikes with great views awaiting the more adventurous photographer. Anytime of year you’ll find lots to photograph.

The above image was made in the middle of the day with bright light burning out highlight detail and creating dark, hard shadows. I employed a polarising filter to reduce reflections and, as a result, hold much of the subtle highlight detail. What’s more, by reducing the reflectance and, therefore, the brightness of the highlights the shadows will be rendered lighter. It’s essential to understand that the brighter the light, the darker the resulting shadows will be. So, by reducing the brightness of the scene you will end up lightening the shadows.

From a compositional point of view I decided to tilt my camera down to exclude the bright sky and moved in close with a medium wide-angle lens to emphasize the textural elements in the foreground grasses.

The image is divided between the grasses on the top left and bottom right of the frame, and the dark water and reflection of the trees on the top right.

The original 35mm transparency was scanned with processing being conducted in Adobe Lightroom 2 and Adobe Photoshop CS4, where a subtle warm/cool split tone was applied.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Serbian Orthodox Church_Alice Springs_Central Australia

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm Summicron f2 lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

I photographed the interior of the Serbian Orthodox church in Alice Springs. The church is famous as one of three churches built under ground in the Alice as a way of providing a refuge for the faithful from the extreme heat of a Central Australian summer. The church provides a beautiful and serene environment and, like much of the regions landscape, a perfect place for meditation and contemplation. A function room adjoining the church provides a place for followers of this brand of orthodox Christianity to meet and socialize.

The color and texture of the stone, enhanced by the warm tungsten (incandescent) light, provide a great environment for photography. It was easy to set up for the above image. All I had to do was arrange the composition to keep as many of the individual architectural elements visible and lined up and still describe the space between.

Fortunately I was granted permission to make a few quick photographs before the day’s mass began. After a few short minutes of photography l stayed on to observe some of the service and was surprised that, other than the priest, the only other person present was a woman who appeared to have some kind of assisting role. I found the service to be a strange experience. I was impressed with the formality of the service, yet felt apart from it due the fact that it was conducted in Latin.

It should be possible for tourists to visit the site. Telephoning ahead is a good idea, as is quiet and respectful demeanor and dress. Leaving a donation is always appreciated, even when not immediately noticed.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Roots and Rock_Ellery Creek Big Hole_Central Australia

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm Summicron f2 lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

Ellery Creek Big Hole is a tranquil stop over 126km west of Alice Springs along the Larapinta Trail. This is a particular important part of the West MacDonnell Ranges evidenced in an excellent 3km trail around the site that details significant geological formations.

As well as the beautiful, permanent waterhole I was impressed with the way trees found their way through the rocky terrain towards the waterhole. The above image features one such group of roots exposed on the side of a rocky outcrop.

I moved in close with my medium wide-angle lens to emphasize the roots and surrounding rock. To highlight the textural qualities of the scene I opted for a black-and-white rendering of the original 35mm color transparency.

After scanning the image was processed in Adobe Lightroom 2 and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

For those exploring the region by car Ellery Creek Big Hole provides a cool and refreshing break. With lots to see, a great place to swim and a stop over on the world class Larapinta Trail photographers will find this place a gem well worth exploring.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

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