You would know it if you are following my Facebook page or are used to seeing my images from 20 years ago, but I love photographing the dynamic, subtle, graceful and amazing colours that spread across the sky. Here in my apartment just outside of the city of Melbourne, I often photograph the sky above the CBD, from the small light window in my back room. Let me share some of my favourites, some recent, others not so recent works of mine.
I’ve been asked to photograph some profile photos for an organisation. I have been pretty busy photographing artists and their products at artists market over the summer. Profile shoot is a very different work completely – it is about getting the consistency across all images of various people, so that the organisation can show its integrity in the team when the profile photos appear on their website and corporate publications. While in the market I focus on the vibe of the place, inspiration I get from the artists who hand craft their works, and using natural lighting as much as possible, day or night, profile shoot is basically a studio shooting. I would bring in my ‘studio setup’ to the client location, and line up my subjects one by one. In this occasion, my client has people in multiple locations in Melbourne and another office in Sydney, so I’ll set up the same lighting condition in 3 different places. It should be pretty straight forward, though.
Once it is confirmed, then I’ll be shooting in Melbourne locations this week, and they’ll put me on a plane to come to Sydney next week. I’d better check the airline’s allowance for check-in luggage. Lighting and backdrop, it is a decent weight I’ll be travelling with!
Oh, just in case you are not following my Facebook page, let me share a few of my recent images.
From The Rose St Artists Market in Fitzroy – Bee, a talented painter and my sister, appeared at this long-established artists market on 2 Saturdays in March. I went with her to give some moral and transportation support, and I photographed some art works there after getting explicit permission from stall holders. Those artists are really lovely people, and their products are really amazing. Let’s make sure we photographers respect their art and share their beautiful works. You can find those photos on my Facebook page, with links to the pages of those artists (where I know it). Hopefully, my sharing their works through my photographs will help their art, and hopefully, help my photography. I think it would be nice if we could help each other through respect for each other’s art.
Beautiful ladies at Blenders Ln Artists Market – I enjoyed photographing there almost every Wednesday during the summer, particularly when I get to chat with gorgeous girls like these… but it had to come to an end for the season. We only need to wait for a little over half a year and it will be back on when it gets warmer in the city of Melbourne. Nicky, middle, is one of the organisers and has been a great supporter of my photographs from this market; she’s taken off to Canada for a couple of years – I wish her a great journey and lots of fun.
It has been an exceptionally hot summer here in Melbourne. We had a record number of consecutive days of 30+ max temperature or something like that. Every year I go overseas to the winter cities during the new year and that would pretty much be it for summer in Melbourne, but this year I was tempted to drive down to the beach a few times. I would spend the day in a gallery or library with the cool air con till early afternoon, and pack my swimming pants, beach towel and paperback of Haruki Murakami or Peter Mayle to drive 1.5 hrs to this quiet beach as people start to leave it. I like it like that. But I think the summer is finally coming to an end. I’m typing this in my room with jeans and cardigan on.
Some days I’m in the right place at the right time to capture the breath-taking beauty nature spread in their canvas for everyone. This is just before the first light of the day comes above the horizon.
Change of season is definitely here. We are treated with some heavy rains (as you might have seen on Formula One telecast from this city during this weekend). Soon the daylight saving will be over, so we can go to bed when it is actually dark, and hopefully I can get back into more street photography chasing those shadows in reflection. It would be nice to put together a decent series to display on some wall in a gallery. Well, that is the plan for the year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dragging myself out of bed, I open the macbook. Check email, facebook updates, and then see the weather forecast page. Rain towards the afternoon. Wind stronger. Yes! I pick the L.L.Bean water-proof anorak that I bought more than 20 years ago. I had the same top on when I came to Melbourne for the first time during summer holiday in uni. Anyhow, rainy days are beautiful. It is full of light – you might think it is darker on rainy days – it is actually much brighter, and often more saturated. You just cannot miss the rainy days.
Buskers had packed up their gig and gone home for the day. I knew this because they told me just the other night. Maybe they are deciding where to go eat together. But it is the precious golden hour for me. Looking around for street corners where something interesting may be happening, I walk on.
Rain got stronger as I came to my familiar corner. Looking at the pool of water always formed on a rainy day, I think about Cartier-Bresson. I wonder what was going through his mind. He is known to be one who just mysteriously come out with the ‘goods’ while casually walking with friends. Did he have a very different approach than, say, Elliot Erwitt, another of my idol, who I’ve seen uses bike horns to let the passers-by turn their face towards him. I do not interfere with what’s happening as much I can help it – standing there with a camera is already an interference, sure. But I do not pose people.
While walking around a few blocks, the rain seems to have passed, and I can see clouds flying by pretty quickly. The sun will have to drop the orange light somewhere. I moved up towards the top of the city where I knew there is a better chance of western sun creating shadows on people crossing the street…
It was a beautiful afternoon. Bring on the rain!
How many years has it been? Last time I came here, it was with a friend and his faily visiting from overseas. We drove down the Peninsula and saw the beautiful untouched shoreline and a ruin of a fortress. This place used to be a military practice ground, and was protected from the property development.
Quick look at the information on Parks Victoria website I found out that the park is accessible all hours although vehicle access is closed at 5pm. That means we could potentially see the setting sun beyond a natural beach. Not that ugly stretch of sand you find in St Kilda or Port Melbourne.
So I threw my gear and bike in the back of the car, rang up a friend with a last-minute notice, and drove down. It was a long way…
By the time we had a coffee break in Sorrento and arrived at Portsea, it was getting dark. Clearly we miscalculated the timing. And my friend did not have a bike, so our mobility was a little limited, too.
Leaving him to walk behind, I pedalled forward to see how far it is to something that is worth the walk. Little did I know I would end up pushing my bike most of the way on the sandy path up the hill (my bike had my regular city commute tyres which kept losing direction in the soft sand, while the wide block ones that came originally attached to my bike when it was new and never since used would have been perfect here), so I pushed my bike up the hill, finding a dead-end (there is no sign for ‘no through path’. Thank you Parks Victoria.) and coming back down, pushing, as riding down the hill was as dangerous on a wrong bike. I found that the tip where the fortress and beach was was 4km from the last carpark, not the tourist info carpark outside the gate where we parked. That is total of 6km one way, or something like that. Bike definitely. Next time, got to be a bike, and a tripod.
I found a ruin of an old pier on the side, facing Queenscliff on the other side of the water (there is a Ferry between Queenscliff and Sorrento, the near-by town on this side of the ‘mouth’ of the Bay.). But knowing my friend was left alone behind, I had to just rush ahead, with only a few quick shots. No tripod, no walking beyond the hill to find a better angle.
It is, however, a beautiful place, and I’d like to go back again. Maybe bring some picnic that can fit in the backpack with the camera, take photo in the morning, eat and rest in the shade during the day, maybe lie down and read, and up and shoot again as the sun sets… Then drive back to town for a late dinner.
Anyone wants to join, please send me an email, and we’ll make it! It should be nice during the warm part of the year, although I imagine it would be beautiful in winter too, with proper clothing.
I am fortunate. Not everyone has time to invest in their creative life on top of their day job. Well, maybe it is not precise. Not everyone is aware of the importance of investing in what you are passionate about. I am fortunate enough to meet a few creative people who had the lasting impact on how I face my life.
This week I was not at my happiest. Not that I faced disaster or lost something important. A few things happened that upset me. In between the new moon and the full moon, a lot of things went through my mind. Some upset me, some made me nervous and others filled me with a little joy. One day, after a day of upset, I put the headphones on, played music a bit louder, and grabbed the camera out of my bag even before I started to cross the street. I flicked the switch – from where I was during the day to the other, creative side.
One evening I was walking fast towards my platform when I saw this poster. I’ve got to make a few more shots. Maybe I’ll do it with the old mobile camera. I know exactly what I want. But I’ll need to use some patience…
I even managed to add another photo to ‘The Other’ series I’m working on.
Some images come more or less by accident. But let’s recognise it as it is. It may lead to something next.
Thank you, for all the inspiration in my life. Thank you for helping hands. Thank you for your encouragement. And thank you for your comments and Like’s. You make my day.