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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

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Pic of the Week_Water Pool_Uluru_Central Australia

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

Uluru is Australia’s most iconic landscape. Situated in the Uluru / Kata Tjuta National Park it is a superb location for photography and offers the visitor a wonderful introduction to the culture and mythology of the local indigenous people.

The above image makes use of foreground (grasses), mid ground (rock) and background (sky) elements to enhance the sense of 3-dimensional space.

One of the problems with photographing under bright, sunny conditions is that the bright light acts to reflect much of the color and texture off the surface of important focal points (e.g. rock, sand and grasses). By employing a polarizing filter its possible to prevent this from happening and produce images that display quite vivid color reproduction. In much the same way as polarizing sunglasses a polarizing filter can also darken and saturate and already blue sky. It works best when the sun is directly behind the photographer.

After scanning the original 35mm color transparency was processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Sunset_Ormiston Gorge_Central Australia

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

Ormiston Gorge in one of my favorite locations in Central Australia. Situated along the West MacDonnell Ranges, an hour or so out of Alice Springs, great hikes and spectacular photography opportunities await the intrepid traveler.

The above image was made at sunset. I employed a 35mm mild wide-angle lens to convey the grandeur of the location and Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film for its warm, saturated color rendition.

The difficulty with a scene like this is that it contains so much information for the viewer to deal with. The trick is to concentrate their attention on the most important elements throughout the frame. The image is made up of sand, water, trees, rock and sky. But it’s the light, distributed throughout the scene, that separates major focal points from their surroundings, light from dark, warm from cool and foreground from background. This enables the viewer to more easily navigate their way around the image.

The original 35mm transparency was scanned prior to processing in Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Water Lily_Kakadu

 

Water Lily_Kakadu_Northern Territory_MG_6972

Canon 5D camera and Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L series IS USM lens @ 235mm with Canon 2x Extender. Exposure Details: 1/60 second @ f5.6 ISO 100

Kakadu National Park is one of Australia’s most important and spectacular national parks. Providing the visitor with a great introduction to many of the regions key elements: landscape, wildlife and weather. While interaction with indigenous people is usually limited, dialogue with local tour operators, guides and national park officers provide the visitor with fascinating insights into indigenous culture.

Making great images at Kakadu is really no different than other locations. To maximize opportunities it’s desirable to be photographing with the best possible light. Early or late in the day is ideal. In the middle of the day overcast weather reduces contrast, helping to maintain detail in shadows and highlights. Alternatively, inclement weather often provides dramatic light (quality, direction and/or color) on the edges of the weather. That is just before and/or just after the onset of rain.

The other consideration in making great pictures is to be where and when the action is. A lot of wildlife is most active at the edges of the day (early or late). So its important to plan your trip so that you can be in position to record the light kissing the mountaintop, or (safely in the boat) on the water when the birds or crocodiles are likely to be both visible and active.

The above image was made from a boat on the Yellow Waters Cruise in Kakadu National Park. I have taken the cruise on two separate occasions: early morning in summer and late afternoon in early winter. Both trips were great as I got to witness and photograph the significant changes that occur to the waterway and surrounding environs at different times of year. The winter shoot (2007) coincided with the heaviest rainfall in the region for 100 years. Of course changing rain patterns worldwide do not always result in less rain, as is the case in Melbourne, where I currently reside. Other places will see significant increases in rainfall. The environmental balance can be a tenuous one. A local guide told me that, in the case of Kakadu, a significant increase in long-term rainfall would have a catastrophic effect on the local environment. I’m reminded of the saying that the only constant we have is change.

Image processing was conducted in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CS4, where a warm/cool split tone was applied.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

 

Pic of the Week_Reflections_Kakadu

Canon 5D camera and Canon 85mm f1.2 lens

Canon 5D camera and Canon 85mm f1.2 L series USM lens

Kakadu is a very special place. It is a wild and beautiful environment in the Top End of Australia’s Northern Territory. This image was made under late afternoon light on the Yellow Waters Cruise within the Kakadu National Park. Magpie geese, sea eagles and crocodiles thrive in this environment. But the boat on which you cruise provides protection and excellent opportunities for viewing and photographing flora and fauna alike.

I’ve been fortunate to have undertaken the cruise on two occasions: late December, in the build up to the wet (monsoon) and July, during winter (the dry season in Northern Australia). Viewing the wetlands at opposite times of year was a great education and allowed me to produce a diverse range of images. I look forward to my next visit and recommend Yellow Waters; in particular the sunrise and sunset cruise, to all keen photographers. Maybe I’II see you there.

Image processing was conducted in Adobe Lightroom 2.0 and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Cockatoos_Kakadu

 

Canon 5D camera and Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L series IS USM lens and Canon 2X Converter @ 400mm Exposure Details: 1/640 second @ f5.6 ISO 400

Canon 5D camera and Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L series IS USM lens and Canon 2X Extender @ 400mm Exposure Details: 1/640 second @ f5.6 ISO 400

I photographed these little fellows on the wonderful yellow waters cruise in the Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia. They were part of a larger group of Cockatoos that were playfully teasing each other as they flew round and round fighting for the best place to perch. Birds were even using their beaks to grab onto the tail feathers of the bird in front of them in the same way a child might playfully tug on a playmates hair or jumper.

Adobe Lightroom 2.0 was used for basic processing of the original RAW file. Adobe Photoshop CS3 was then employed to boost color and make local tonal changes.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography  

Saltwater Crocodile

 

Leica M7 camera and Leica 90mm f2 Aspherical-M lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 film

Leica M7 camera and Leica 90mm f2 Aspherical-M lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 film

The above image was made at Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, Australia. Referred to as the Top End this region of Australia is remote and wild. Kakadu National Park is largely a water-based park and is best appreciated from the air or on a series of excellent water-based cruises exploring one of the regions incredible waterways. Rich in bird life Kakadu is home to a variety of reptiles including the world’s largest saltwater crocodile.

This image was made from the safety of a boat, drifting gently over the water, with the engine turned off so as not to scare away the big fellows. My camera was aimed straight down to provide the impression of a birds eye view. I like the way the monochromatic green of the water has been broken by the croc surfacing and, as a result, the blue skylight is also reflected into the water.

By the way crocs scare the life out of me. They combine the skills of a hunter, honed over millions of years of evolution with immense power and speed. Thrusting out from below the surface of the water they devour large birds whole and, for larger prey, their razor sharp teeth holds their victim in a vice like grip that pushes the air out from their lungs as the croc spins them around in a death roll.

The Top End is a great place to visit and will provide wonderful memories for the visitor. But be aware of the potential dangers for the foolhardy. Never swim in the sea or in creeks or billabongs. Saltwater crocs spend quite a lot of their time in estuaries and are known to follow rivers upstream for significant distances. During monsoonal floods they can be pushed a long way upstream. Over time many of these waterways dry up and break into a series of small water holes and creeks, isolating the croc. Visitors who ignore the posted warning signs and swim in these places are pushing their luck to the extreme. Enjoy this magnificent country, but ignore warning signs at your own peril.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography  

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