thunder storm

dusk Thursday 21 February 2013

I’ve been missing the rain. That sound, that smell, the calm look on people’s face as they walk on the street, their shadows and reflections. My ‘The Other’ project is still unfinished and I am waiting for the return of the colder season with its changing weather and early sundown. But then again, I have been enjoying this summer. Drove down to the beach the other day just to cool down at the end of the hot day. Lie down with a paperback and bottle of water. Not bad at all… On a day like this, I drop the camera and just focus on relaxing. We all need to rest our mind.

Coming back to the working week, the weather forecast started to look a bit more interesting. There seem to be some rains on the way. So I swapped the small camera that currently has only a wide angle street lens, with the old trusted Canon, and grabbed the zoom lens as well.

Despite the warning of decent rain and thunders, it did not really come down. I decided to head back home a bit early before the sun was down, when the sky began to look rather interesting. Arriving at the station near home, the light on the storm clouds just caught my eyes, with its graceful moves, the shade of orange to dark blue and purple, under the layer of the blanket in front.

dusk Thursday 21 February 2013

dusk Thursday 21 February 2013

I was lucky enough to find this spot in the middle of an oval (cricket/footie field – for those from other part of the world, those are the two favourite sports played in this part of the planet). After walking around it and looking at it from many different angles, leaving a lady jogger staring at me from the end of the oval behind me for a good few minutes deciding what this weird guy was doing, I was down on my knees, then onto elbows to find the frame I was after. The elbows of my black button-down shirt were wet as I walked home, but I was pretty happy with that.

dusk Thursday 21 February 2013

The lights dramatically change on a stormy day. Only a minute later, before leaving the oval, I looked up and the last orange light is no longer reaching the sky above me and I saw the gloomy cloud but somehow peaceful, transparent blue of the sky still visible in the gaps.

As I resumed my 10-minute walk home, I saw flashes on a regular intervals from the direction I was heading. I’m in luck. As I got home, I went straight through the room to the balcony, as a lightening just flashed in the sky right in front of me. I watched for a few minutes to see where the thunder clouds are moving and went back in to grab a tripod and remote cable.

To my disappointment, it was not a full orchestra of thunder and rains. It was happening somewhere else. I heard it even hailed in some suburb during the day. But here I was, at the edge of the weak thunder system, clicking through on long exposures staring at the sky in the frame. Then I ended up with this.

It was a total surprise to me that the light should go up and across to the side like that. I was expecting straight up, in a series of lines. But people seem to like it, as it gained a lot of Likes in the Facebook album. So here it is for you, if you are not following my Facebook page.

dusk Thursday 21 February 2013

On a day like this, you can believe there is something more than just us in this place. How can this beauty be just an accident of chemicals and pressue and light and what not? To me this was given to me, to us, by somebody. Could that be the spirit of my friend’s grandmother who just passed away the day before? Is she dancing around in the sky, telling us, everything is going to be okay, we all live in such a beautiful place. Someday, when I close the door to this life, I join those who walk on ‘The Other’ side (as my project is focusing on). What show shall I put on? That is an intriguing thought!

The end of summer is near.

Four Seasons in One Day

It was after I moved to Melbourne that I learned Crowded House was a band that came out of Melbourne. They may be singing about the changes of heart, but that is the term that is used to describe the changing nature of weather in Melbourne. It is particularly the case in this time of the year when the winter is ending and warmer air is beginning to come in, activating the weather system.

You could almost call it spring. I swapped my black down-filled jacket for the lighter wind jacket as I drove from home to station for an early train. By 8am I was in the city. The sun was shining down on only one side of the street as the other still in the shadow of tall building. I enjoyed the contrast I could see through my polarised sunglasses. When was the last time I enjoyed looking at the sunshine in the morning? Winter is almost over, for sure.

In the late afternoon, I was down at the bottom of William Street, waiting at the red light on Flinders Street when I saw the strong storm cloud in the sky ahead to the east of the city.

(Click on the image to view on Instagram. Like, Share, Comment, as you wish!)

Within seconds it started to rain, and we shared umbrella and walked on.

Next moment, we were running for a cover as the hail started to come down like white pebbles from the sky. In another few minutes the hail stopped coming down, so we walked on, hearing the pieces of ice break under our feet.

Up in the terrace on the roof top above Federation Square, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining down again. Straight out of window to the south to south east hang a half circle of rainbow.

Coming home before sunset, I saw another strong storm cloud passing. Shafts of rain are visible in the distance. Up above, bright glow in the cloud, hinting there is more light of the day.

The brown leather shoes, socks and bottom third of my chino’s were drenched.

While still deciding on the new street camera, and for once I left my SLR (which is in my Crumpler bag every day) at home, all I had was the 2-year-old iPhone with Instagram app. The effects are a little too strong to be truly useful, but it is a toy and it does make some images with impact and let you quickly share on social network. Here is my Instagram album on Facebook. Yes, I take photos of my lunch and coffee.

Stormy bridge

stormy bridge 1

I remember how I felt when I saw image of digital TV for the first time in my life. It was not even a digital TV set, but an analogue TV with a digital set top box, I think. The image looked pixelated. I did not know why at that time, but now, having an understanding of how sharpness on digital domain works, I can say that it was because there was too much sharpness applied to it, or in other words, there was too much contrast around the edges. It was like everything had a pencil-drawn edge on it, rather than the smooth, fluid world that I see in the real world, or in the good old TV. Well, that is not the reason why the TV set sitting across from me now is one of those old analogue heavy box, rather than one of those modern slim LCD or plasma; I just don’t watch much TV and haven’t come up with a good excuse for buying a new one! But I can tell you, I am not a big fan of a clear evidence of digital image manipulation. It just doesn’t look real. Well, what is ‘real’ is a subject of discussion, and there is no single right answer. For me, I like the feel of just capturing the moment. I want my images to look like the impression that was burned on my memory. For that reason, my images do not need to be ‘unmodified’ but should feel ‘natural’ and ‘how I remember it’.

As a part of project at hand, I took this image I took on a cold New Year’s Eve in Kyoto, and combined with different weather. I am still learning this digital manipulation work. It is not something I get most excited about. But when I shoot on location and the situation is limiting, I do have to manipulate the images so that they reflect my intention more closely. It is not about what was there. We do not see all that was there. No. We see what we want to see, and disregard things that we don’t. Reproducing a moment in a photograph, as a photographer we’ve got to do the same thing. It is not just point-and-shoot.

So here are two images based on the same photograph from the bridge. How ‘real’ do they look? Can you see what changes have been made for each image to get to this stage? And what else would you do, if you are a perfectionist?
stormy bridge 2

Storm Front

I got home in the early evening, watching the storm front approach. The forecast warned a possibility of severe rain storm, the kind that disrupted train and traffic in NSW in recent days. But once I got to the safety of home, how can I resist this amazing creation of nature?

storm cloud 2011-11-09

storm cloud 2011-11-09

storm cloud 2011-11-09

storm cloud 2011-11-09

storm cloud 2011-11-09

storm cloud 2011-11-09

storm cloud 2011-11-09

The storm front approaches the downtown Melbourne. Day is turned into night, soon followed by the gentle rain and lightening.

But on this side, we have the last of the daylight, and that magnificent cloud above…

storm cloud 2011-11-09

About to rain

stormy sunset - 23 May 2011

I hope you all enjoyed the absolutely beautiful weather on the weekend. I’m glad I captured the beauty of autumn on Saturday (in previous post), because today, on Monday, it’s back to this. It looks like it will be another cooler and partly wet week with minimum just below 10 and top of only about 15 every day this week.

Keep warm everyone. Perhaps it is a good time to stay at home and have some portraits taken with your loved ones. Book me in for the photoshoot now! 🙂

downpour

sudden downpour
sudden downpour

Melbourne is known for its changing weathers. It is on a very dry continent, but because of the difference in climate between the inland desert and the antarctic cold, people here go through quite a bit of changes through the year. Although we are still under strict water restriction, which means we cannot even justify washing our cars (and REALLY shame on you driving a shiny polished vehicles on the road!), we do get storms from time to time. Yesterday was one of those days.

I chilled out sunny morning making a quick trip to supermarket to top up some grocery and waited for someone to pick up the harddisk I did the data recovery work on. By the time I finished my coffee, brushed my teeth, finally put down Murakami’s ‘Dance Dance Dance’ into the bag and got off the couch, it was early afternoon. I opted for walking to the bus stop and riding into the city, rather than driving to the station for a train. Knowing what the weather change can throw at you here in Melbourne, I had a quick look at the weather website. It has the forecast in 3-hour block for the rest of the day. Next 3 hours show ‘possible storm’. It can happen, or it may not happen – it is all in the possibility. Right… I saw the postman at the mailbox and exchanged hello’s and said to him, ‘You think the rain will come down?’. He said, ‘Nah, not today.’ Was he sure of it, or was he hoping for it? He was cheerful and happy. It is Friday afternoon, after all.

I walked down under the sun to the bus stop. I know I’d miss one bus by a minute, but rather than rushing, I took a slow walk, and when I got to the bus stop and saw no bus in sight, I stood in a shade under a large tree and picked up the Murakami from the bag. I could see the dark cloud in the corner of my limit sight to the sky. My friend just posted a storm front picture on the facebook. And before I put the phone back in my pocket, it started to come down, lightly. The tree had large wide leaves so I was well covered. 5 minutes passed and the rain was large drops, smell of rain in the air. The couple who just took the dogs out for a walk came back to their unit right next to the bus stop. Cars have their wiper waving. By the time the bus got there, the rain was hard enough I waited under the tree until the last minute to avoid getting drenched while walking to the opened door.

I watched the town passing by outside my window. There are people without umbrella (for a city that has as much rainy days as Melbourne, many people somehow choose to walk without umbrella, even when they are in dress or a suit!), running from one shop roof to another, getting drenched in process. When I got to Swanston Street and walked across to the roof of the old Royal Children’s Hospital, the street had river running through it. I grabbed my camera and spread the small umbrella, which might just cover my camera but leaving the rest of me pretty much exposed. I made a few clicks and started to cross the street while looking for an image, when my left foot stepped into a couple of inches of ‘river’ when instantly my leather chakka boot, sock and foot got soaked. Nice…

caught unprepared
caught unprepared
connecting
connecting

And a few minutes later, it was all over…

suddenly sunny
suddenly sunny
cross walker
cross walker

As soon as I saw this large pool of water at intersection right across the pedestrian crossing, I saw that famous image by Henri Cartier-Blesson. His ingenuity is obviously the couple of ring-shaped objects before the man caught in the ‘jump’ moment, but I could see what he saw in this. Trying not to copy or make what he did, yet I could not deny that the only moment that works is when a man makes a jump. An old man came to the other side of the intersection later, but he was too cautious to risk getting his feet wet and made a boring walk-around. On the street, things don’t always happen as you predict.