Always wanted to shoot the Aurora? Come to Tasmania.

Have you always longed to photograph the aurora? You don’t have to go to the northern hemisphere to do it. This image was taken from Trial bay near Kettering (where the Bruny ferry departs) on 19 March this year (2015).

Aurora Australia from Trial Bay, Tasmania, 19 March 2015
Aurora Australis from Trial Bay, Tasmania, 19 March 2015

If you’d like to try your hand, we have our cabin in the garden (also on Facebook) available for $45 per night, and I will guide people to a good spot – we can confer and decide beforehand – and assist with setup etc for $50 per person per session. After the first session, you should be fine to manage exposures and settings for subsequent attempts.

You need to have your own vehicle as I do not have a vehicle to carry passengers.

Of course, you need to bear in mind that you can come to Tasmania for a week or even two, and the auroral gods many decide they are not going to play along. We’ve had some long ‘dry’ spell, but it can fire up anytime. You are also dependent on the vagaries of the weather, if it is overcast there can be a terrific aurora happening, while we gnash our teeth at home in deep frustration.  But Tasmania is a beautiful place to photograph during the daylight hours, too, and you will have a lot of wonderful images to take home with you.

Of course, the weather will clear beautifully the day you go home!

You need a camera capable of shooting exposures up to 30 seconds length, has a shutter delay (self-timer) or a remote or cable release, a sturdy tripod, and a wide (preferably 20mm or less) and fast (min f3.5) f stop – f2.8 or f2 is even better.

However, if you are interested, contact me through the cabin email at the website or PM me here.

A few more images from various nights below.

Aurora Australia, Trial bay, Tas, 19/03/2015
Aurora Australia, Trial bay, Tas, 19/03/2015
Aurora Australia, Trial bay, Tas, 19/03/2015
Aurora Australia, Trial bay, Tas, 19/03/2015
Aurora Australia, Trial bay, Tas, 19/03/2015
Aurora Australia, Trial bay, Tas, 19/03/2015
07 OCT FROM DECKDSCF0310
Aurora of 7 October 2015 from our deck at Glenorchy!
Aurora Australia, Trial bay, Tas, 19/03/2015
Aurora Australia, Trial bay, Tas, 19/03/2015
Aurora Australia, Trial bay, Tas, 19/03/2015
Aurora Australia, Trial bay, Tas, 19/03/2015
07 OCT FROM MOTIMERS DSCF4571
Aurora of 7-8 October 2015 from Mortimer Beach, Rifle range Rd, Sandford
rework DSCF0789
Aurora of 7-8 November 2015, from Goat Bluff, South Arm – with a bonus meteor!
pickets 1-DSCF0821
Aurora of 7-8 November 2015, the phenomena known as picket fences or piano keys, photographed from Goat Bluff, South Arm. These ‘side effects’ are often just that, blobs or patches, picket fences and proton arcs often occur at sup to 90deg offset from the southern aspect. This one was SW
pickets and protons DSCF0835 edit 2
Aurora of 7-8 November 2015, the phenomena known as picket fences or piano keys, plus a spectacular proton arc, photographed from Goat Bluff, South Arm. These ‘side effects’ are often just that, blobs or patches, picket fences and proton arcs often occur at sup to 90deg offset from the southern aspect. This one was SW

An Early Morning Outing

Woke up nice and early – never a problem – but actually managed to motivate myself out of the house! And I was rewarded by a fine sunrise. Initially went round to Saunderlands Rd to opposite the zinc works hoping for those lovely plumes of smoke/steam I have seen, but the woind was so fierce I didn’t bpother, as there was just one thin little stream.
On the way back stopped where the turnoff is, though, and shot a few looking north to the Bowen Bridge, hoping for nice cloudscapes. Not too bad, more experimentation needed.
Then went on to Granton and stopped opposite the pub near the old railway station, for a very nice cloudscape for sunrise.
I have played a bit for different effects with the colour balance and tint.
All Fuji X-M1 and Samyang 12mm f2, except the panorama wich is Fuji X-T1 and 14-55 lens
6 shot portrait format pano
6 shot portrait format pano
DSCF3520
Bowen Bridge from the start of Saunderson Rd

 

DSCF3522
Bowen Bridge from the start of Saunderson Rd #2

DSCF3526

DSCF3527

DSCF3530

 

DSCF3545

DSCF3548

SOME CHANGES TO MY GEAR

Due to age and infirmity, I can no longer carry my big heavy cameras, so am moving to the Fuji X system, the mirror less camera.  I chose Fuji because I liked the feel of it and the layout, and I got my first one at half price from a FB contact.

So I now have the Fuji X-T1 and X-M1, with Fujinon XF 18-55 mm, XC 16-50 and 50-230mm, and a Samyang 12mm f2 for astrophotography and wide landscape shots.

It’s been a steep learning curve but I’m pretty happy with the gear so far.

A few shots from a peregrination round the Derwent Valley with a friend, taking in the Salmon Ponds at Plenty and the Text Kiln complex at Bushy Park.

All with Fuji X-T1 and X-M1, with Fujinon XF 18-55 mm unless stated.

Platypus at the Salmon Poinds at Plenty, Tasmania.  There are 3 that I know of there, and they are totally unafraid.  Our first viewing of this young one, we could have touched it, we were so close.
Platypus at the Salmon Poinds at Plenty, Tasmania. There are 3 that I know of there, and they are totally unafraid. Our first viewing of this young one, we could have touched it, we were so close.
Poised on the piece of wood round the pond, scratching his ear!
Poised on the piece of wood round the pond, scratching his ear!
Hopping over for a swim
Hopping over for a swim
Off he goes!  I like that you can see his flippers/feet going like crazy under the water
Off he goes! I like that you can see his flippers/feet going like crazy under the water
Popped out onto the bank for another scratch
Popped out onto the bank for another scratch
Popped out onto the bank for another scratch #2
Popped out onto the bank for another scratch #2
Swimming about
Swimming about

 

We then went off through the beautiful Derwent Valley to Bushy park, down the 10 acre lane to the Text Kiln complex, one of my favourite places in all Tasmania.  There are platypus here too, but they are shyer than the Salmon Ponds ones.  My friend Karen caught a quick glimpse of one rootling about in the reeds but it disappeared after that.  There is a lot more growth in the water and it is easy for them to remain unseen.

The old bakery at the complex
The old bakery at the complex
The Text Kiln (end on)
The Text Kiln (end on)
Another of the many kilns/oast hoses at the site, reflected in the trout pond
Another of the many kilns/oast hoses at the site, reflected in the trout pond
Backlit trees by the pond
Backlit trees by the pond

Then we came home via the Lyell Hwy, stopping for sunset at my favourite lookout on the Gordon River Rd at Macquarie Fields.  This shot with X-M1 and Samyang 12mm f2

Bushy Park and the road to Mt Field and Lake Pedder & Strathgordon
Bushy Park and the road to Mt Field and Lake Pedder & Strathgordon

 

 

Sydney to Hobart fun!

wild oats & boatdsIMG_7815 As Sunday was such a beautiful day, I thought I’d trot down the the shoreline of the Derwent somewhere and get some photos of the winning yachts coming in.  After a fair bit of driving around to find a good spot which was not totally ‘parked out’ I ended up on the beach at Opossum Bay.  I set up with my milk crate, cushion and iPad tuned to the Roles Sydney to Hobart yacht tracker and waited.  It turned out to be a fantastic spot, as the yachts tacked right in towards us, and with the Canon 60D and Sigma 150-500 lens combination, I was able to catch some terrific action. But those so and so spectator boats – I would happily bazooka the buggers. Nearly impossible to get a shot of the hull and the crew. However, I hope you all enjoy these. I was amazed at the sheer size of the boats compared to the ones all round them, they’re not called super maxis for nothing.  First round the point at the southern end of our beach was Wild oats XI, she came in almost 50 mins ahead of the runner up Commanche, with the rest of the fleet about 11 hours behind. WILD OATS XI – Line Honours victor for the 8th time.

Wild Oats XI powering in towards Opossum bay before turning for the run to the finish line.
Wild Oats XI powering in towards Opossum bay before turning for the run to the finish line

wild oats IMG_7826_edited-1 WILD OATS IMG_7876_edited-2 WILD OATS IMG_7880_edited-1 WILD OATS IMG_7887_edited-1 COMMANCHE – Runner up for Line Honours COMMANCHE IMG_8054_edited-1 COMMANCHE IMG_8081_edited-1 COMMANCHE IMG_8070_edited-1 COMMANCHE IMG_8094

Yacht descriptions from the Rolex Race site –

Wild Oats XI is the most successful yacht in the 70-year history of the Rolex Sydney Hobart race. She secured her seventh line honours victory under the guidance of Mark Richards in last year’s race. In 2012 she broke her own race record, which now stands at 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes 12 seconds, and won the race overall. It was the second time the supermaxi had achieved this historic treble, and the only boat to do so twice in the race’s history.

Once again, Wild Oats XI has been modified for the Rolex Sydney Hobart. Her bow has been streamlined, she will carry a new hydrofoil wing, and will be fitted with two new high-tech sails – a mainsail and a ‘code zero’ headsail. These modifications are aimed at keeping the nine-year-old yacht competitive against more recent designs. Richards and the crew now affectionately refer to their charge as the ‘Swiss Army Knife’, because of the number of appendages she boasts: a hydrofoil wing, a retractable forward centreboard, two retractable daggerboards, a canting keel, and the conventional rudder at the stern.

Wild Oats XI still holds the record for the most consecutive line honours wins – four – from 2005 to 2008, surpassing Morna’s record of three in a row achieved from 1946 to 1948. She also holds the race record for the CYCA’s Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race (22 hours, 3 minutes, 46 seconds, set in 2012) and the CYCA’s Cabbage Tree Island Race (12 hours, 15 minutes, 55 seconds, set in 2012). Richards and his crew will need to muster all their resources this year as four other supremely competitive supermaxis and their crews – including the new Comanche 100-footer from America – will be vying for a line honours win. Wild Oats XI’s navigator, Juan Vila, was navigator for the victorious Alinghi crew in the 2007 America’s Cup match.

Owner: Robert Oatley.  Wild Oats Xi is 30.48m long, with a beam of 5.1m and a draft of 5.9m

Commanche

This is possibly one of the most talked about entries for this 70th Anniversary Race. This new 100-foot supermaxi is designed by Verdier Yacht Design & Vplp to push the boundaries of technology with the ultimate goal of taking line honours this year. The boat is the culmination of a two-year project. Built at Hodgdon Yachts in Maine, Comanche was sailed for the first time on October 13 and will be spiced with Australian flavour partly because her co-owner is Kristy Hinze-Clark, a former supermodel from Australia married to Jim Clark. Her mainsail also reflects Comanche’s Australian connection, as does Aussie crew; boat captain Casey Smith, Ryan Godrey in the pit and Chris Maxted “floating”.

Other big names are Stan Honey (navigator) and New Zealand’s Kevin Halrap on tactics. Comanche is skippered by renowned US sailor Ken Read with 21 international crew. Jim Clark, an American entrepreneur and computer scientist, founded several prominent Silicon Valley technology companies, such as Silicon Graphics Inc. and Netscape Communications Corporation.

Owners: Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze Clark  Commanche is 30.48m long, with a beam of 6.8m and a draft of 6.8m

A meander in the Tasmanian midlands and Cradle Mountain

I have just completed a 4 day photo trip. Starting on Sunday 26 october, I went to Waddamanna for the Hydro 100 yr anniversary.  The day was very well conducted and the Power Station Museum was very interesting.  You can guarantee getting excited as they have an Exciter.  If it doesn’t so the trick, then I’m sorry, you must be dead 🙂 .  And the Caledonian Pipe band played wonderfully ALL day! exciter DSCF1359 cooker DSCF1372 pipe band DSCF1392 great lake DSCF1397         Then I travelled along Highland Lakes Rd (my first ever ‘A’ class road with long stretches of gravel – its quite a shock), spending my first night at an absolute gem of a caravan park I discovered via the internet – the Quamby Corner Caravan Park at Golden Valley.  Great cooking and ablution facilities, cheap accommodation, and so pretty.  Only $16 for a powered site for one person, $25 for 2 people. DSCF1418 DSCF1420 DSCF1422 DSCF1423 DSCF1426 DSCF1427 DSCF1428 DSCF1429 DSCF1430 DSCF1431               Monday 27 October I travelled on to Cradle Mountain via Deloraine, Sheffield &Moina. Mt Roland is truly impressive and reminded me of the Lord of the Rings country in NZ, it’s all granite fissures and changing clouds. mt roland fuji DSCF1444mt roland #2 DSCF1447 I had 2 nights at Discovery Holiday Parks – Cradle Mountain.  The weather was wild and woolly for the whole time at Cradle, but the kitchen/rec room has 2 lovely big open fires.  On Monday I arrived early afternoon, and drove down to to Dove Lake about 3.30 pm. spending just on 2 hours.  The weather went from rain to patches of sun and then granular snow and back again.  The wind was gusting ferociously the whole time and the lake surface was all little white caps.  I walked around to the boat house and back- with photo taking the ’10 min walk’ took me over an hour.  With my bad ankle and knee (opposite legs, of course!) I have to be super careful not to fall. 1Ds pano 1 DOVE LAKE 2 DSCF1491_edited-1 Day 2 was even more extreme, heavy snow gusts then some brightening patches.  I had a look at the Waldheim site (hopefully staying in the Waldheim cabins next time).  It snowed heavily, with big flakes, while i was there, so heavily I debated going back and not proceeding to Dove lake, but I did go on as the shuttle buses were still doing so. At times you couldn’t see your hand held up in front of your face, and I wore what my partner warwick calls my hobbit cloak (because it is green and has a hood), it may not look very glam but it’s (a) warm, (b) fairly waterproof and (c) I can hold the cameras under it, keeping them warm and dry.  I walked around to the big rock as I wanted to get the boat house from across the lake to give a ‘dwarfed by the mountains’ feel to it.  I shot quite a few macro shots of the flora too, on the walk.  This was prompted by a comment from a fellow walker that it was all so dull.  Dull!  I think she wanted bunting and flags.  Again, the 10 min walk took me about an hour!  I contemplated the climb up the rock but my ankle was singing ‘Oh Susannah!’ by that time so I decided discretion etc was wise. _I7U3399 _I7U3436 _I7U3445 _I7U3493 _I7U3498 _I7U3504 _I7U3507 _I7U3511 _I7U3519 _I7U3524 lake pano sun snowy_edited-1 Home via Mole Creek and along the other side of Mt Roland, just as impressive as the initial impression, then to Deloraine, and across back roads, all tarred and good surfaces (except 8 kmns of dirt on the last leg, but good surface), Osmaston, Bracknell, Cressy and Macquarie Rd to Ross (where diesel was just 153c p/l!).  I must say I was not over impressed with Ross (I probably just committed Tasmanian tourism heresy).  I drove to the town map, as I was hanging out for some food and a coffee.  It showed a lovely riverside spot and seats for picnicking.  Drove there, and thou go round the corner to the river to be greeted by a very unfriendly (and inaccurate) Keep Out – caravan park patrons only.  The caravan park actually didn’t start til the end of the road, but I went anyway, and sat by the river. It was so windy there that I had to eat in the car, when I tried the picnic table my lunch blew off! When I ducked in for a quick look at Oatlands it was far more friendly, and down by Lake Dulverton, near the historic mill, there is even an lovely FREE area for caravans and motorhomes to park for the night. More photos to come as I edit

More Aurora action

For those who are keen photographers, a visit to Tassie may see you lucky enough to experience an aurora.  Usually you can only see them in camera, they are not often strong enough to be visible to the naked eye.  But you can get some fabulous shots.  I’ve only caught two so far, so my shots are, as yet, far from perfect, but this is a sample from the night of 21/22 october 2014.

All taken from the Gordon jetty, down the Huon, and with Canon 1DsMkII and Tokina 20-35mm AT-X 235 AF PRO lens.

aurora21102014_FF and meteor_I7U3339 aurora21102014_FF_I7U3340 aurora21102014_FF_I7U3337 aurora21102014_FF_I7U3318 aurora21102014_FF_I7U3346

Aurora!

I have finally succeeded in catching an aurora, in late August.  Not the greatest shots as I could not get the focus exact on the night but I have it fixed now, I’ve marked the lens barrel and front so I can get the spot on in the dark.

Aurora from the old jetty site at Middleton.  I had not been here before and I thought that golden glow through the trees was a lovely house, it looked like arches.  When I passed it driving out it was the toilet block!  Still looks nice.
Aurora from the old jetty site at Middleton. I had not been here before and I thought that golden glow through the trees was a lovely house, it looked like arches. When I passed it driving out it was the toilet block! Still looks nice.
Aurora from the old jetty site at Middleton, #1
Aurora from the old jetty site at Middleton, #1
Aurora from Trial bay boat ramp, 28/08/2014
Aurora from Trial bay boat ramp, 28/08/2014

Tall Ships Festival, Hobart, 20-25 September 2013.

We arrived in Hobart to live on 15 September, after a 5 day, 2,100 km drive with our 5 cats down the east coast of Australia.  That was fun in parts and truly dreadful in others.  However.

One of my main aims was to arrive in time for the Tall Ships Festival.  By the 20th I was still feeling wring pout but did get down to the river on the first day to catch some of the ships progressing up the river Derwent with their flotillas of accompanying small craft, and then for sunrise at the docks the next morning.

IMG_0608

Oosterschelde
Oosterschelde
Oosterschelde & Tecla
Oosterschelde & Tecla
Europa followed by Lady Franklin and a flotilla of small vessels progressing up the river
Europa followed by Lady Franklin and a flotilla of small vessels sailing up the river
Europa and Lady Franklin off Sandy Bay
Europa and Lady Franklin off Sandy Bay
Oosterschelde
Oosterschelde
Lord Nelson
Lord Nelson
Tecla
Tecla
Lady Franklin & Tecla at sunrise, 21 September
Lady Franklin & Tecla at sunrise, 21 September

Yesterday I went down to the docks and took a few more shots, including some inside the pavilion of the various stands.  The Tasmanian Scrimshaw artists work was astounding, I will add more images later.

Oosterschelde
Oosterschelde
Ooosterschelde doing some refurbishments to gear and rigging
Ooosterschelde doing some refurbishments to gear and rigging
Map from the Europa
Map from the Europa
Whaler's scrimshaw
Whaler’s scrimshaw
Modern scrimshaw on an old whale tooth (sourced from Albany WA & carved in Tasmania)
Modern scrimshaw on an old whale tooth (sourced from Albany WA & carved in Tasmania)

Today I am off to Rosny Park to (hopefully) shoot the Parade of Sail under the Tasman Bridge.  Then IF I can manage it I will dart down the Sandty Bay Rd to catch them on their way out to sea.  See how I go.

It is very windy and raining but I’ll rug up and I have the camera raincoat, so all should be well.

My thoughts on my photography and what I'm doing, photographically.