~ LIVING LIFE, NOT JUST SURVIVING IT ~
••• tiff firth photography •••

Sunday, February 26, 2012

great ocean road trip - 26.2.12

The day was warm but not as hell hot as the day before. We had a leisurely breakfast before grabbing our lunch to go with us out to Stevenson’s Falls.

On the way to the falls we stopped at a couple of places to capture the winding road disappearing to a vanishing point with the beautiful foliage around it. 



And to shoot a gully with the trees and the tree ferns to contrast



At this point I also popped a couple of Ginger Motion Sickness Tablets as the roads were making me feel decidedly off colour.

At the carkpark to the Falls we walked about a km into the area where we discovered a second carpark right next to the falls. Grrrrr. Esp for Maur who struggles with anything more than a 5 minutes walk, esp if its uphill. We all took turns to help carry her tripod and her shoulder camera bag. She did so well and achieved so much more than she hoped for. All of us taking turns to help her was so rewarding. To see her glow with her beaming smile was payment enough. Love that woman.

Dave had moved downstream to shoot the eddies, Pete, Jaime and I moved very carefully right next to the waterfall, for it was ever so slippery on the rocks in the river. We set up tripods on a big wet slimy rock to catch the veil of the waterfall using long exposure. I held the brollie for Jaime to set up as the mist of the waterfall was wandering our way. I was just setting up mine when I had a slip and landed fair on my bum. Straight down!!! Thank goodness it was just before Pete had the video camera up on his shoulder. Gosh I laughed. It didn’t hurt at all. I did have a rather nice wet patch on it after that lol.

With patience in setting up the camera and with the brollie protecting it from the mist in between shots I managed to capture this view.



 It was fairly warm and just where the waterfall enters the river is quite a good size pool of water. Jaime and Pete jumped in for a swim to cool off. Since I carry my stuff in my backpack I didn’t want to get the back of my shirt wet and have that moisture seep thru the bag, so I sat in up to my waist and dipped my front in. I also dunked my head a few times for good measure.

I left Pete and Jaime in the pool and wandered back to see what Dave was up to. I set up my camera behind and to the side of him and waited for the sun to disappear behind the occasional cloud. We needed no sun while shooting so we don’t have the strong contrasting conditions and to stretch the shutter out to 2 seconds to milk the water.

We waited up to 45 mins to capture our shots.




Pete shot some vision of the entire trip and he's compiled it into this short video. The waterfall segments is based on this day at these falls.


Pete and the rest of the crew had walked all the way back to the bus and drove it up to the second car park and waited for Dave and I. We only had to walk a very short distance compared to most ;o)

It was late afternoon by the time we finished up at Stevenson’s Falls so we made our way back to Apollo Bay. We all felt rather stuffed after the drive back ( I think it’s the windy roads making us all feel slightly off), so we had tea at the pub and a reasonably quiet night. Dave pulled in for a while to work on shots.

Bed by 10.30pm….. so early for me.
:O)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

great ocean road trip - 25.2.12


Today was forecasted to be a filthy hot day for Apollo Bay. 37 degrees is a very hot day for this area. Even the locals were wiped out by it. 


It was decided from dinner the night before to have a day off. To shoot waterfalls in the rainforest area, we need overcast, flat light conditions for less contrast not the bright blue cloudless sky that was forecasted

We all had a leisurely breakfast and surprised Pete with a birthday cake for his birthday. We all knew about it days ago and had organised a cake and card for him. I took video on the iphone and others took shots on their camera. He even had a tear because of us thinking of him……. Awwwwww.



V and I had done our research the night before on line to see what the attractions are around Apollo Bay and we both decided on giving Hang Gliding a shot. I rang to enquire about it a couple of times before I found out from the Visitor Info Centre that it’s not a going concern anymore. Bumma. We were so keen.

The Fly Wire was considered along with the Tree Top walk at The Otway Ranges, but seeing it was so hot, a 50 min drive to get there and a 2.5 hour round trip to do the attractions, that idea was binned too. Instead we all decided to hide in our cabins and sit in front of the aircon.

All except Maur. She’s very nearly the eldest one on the trip and she took off back to Mait’s Rest. She’s from Melbourne and drove up to meet us at Pt Campbell, so she had her own wheels when she wasn’t on the bus.  I take my hat off to her. She was the only one who got off her butt and did photographing this morning.

Dave, Verdell and Jaime wandered down to the beach for a morning dip. I stayed in front of the aircon, as I’m still finding I’m adjusting to heat after shooting in Minus 2 conditions at the Grand Canyon. I get to be a sweaty mess with anything over 25 degrees atm. So while they were dipping, I loaded up the Australia time lapse onto YouTube, blogged the details for a couple of days and worked some shots. I skyped the kids as well.

Maur was back with us for a late lunch at The Bakery which was uncomfortably warm. We decided as a group to head to the beach after lunch to cool off and chill out. Even Maur, who finds uneven terrain challenging, got onto the beach and sat in the water. Monica (our eldest GrownUp) was out with us, bracing against the big waves.


The view to the beach from the front door of the cabin.


I did see a young girl (10 or 11 I think) who was on her boogie board, lose it in a set of big waves and the ankle strap snapped. Her board made it to shore but she was caught in the big set. Dave and I made our way towards her in case she got into trouble as she was being dumped on a fair bit, but she handled herself well. Even her Dad, who was on the beach, got in the water to come out to her. She was fine, but it did scare me a little thinking what if that girl was Annie.

The water was so refreshing being a such a hot day. Pete had his GoPro in hand catching some of the big wave action on video by letting them crash over him. But and unfortunaltely the camera was knocked out of his hand after a bigger wave dumped on him. We were all scouring the area in thigh deep water and beach combed the sand on shore to find it with no luck. Not sure if it would suck out to sea with the undertow or end up on a beach somewhere. Someone might score themselves a GoPro if the watertight housing doesn’t crack. Bit of bad luck for Pete to loose it, let alone on his birthday.

After a shower and a relaxing rest of the afternoon, we had a lovely tea at the local pub which was recommend as the best place to go for good food at reasonable prices.


Dave wandered over to V and my cabin to work on his pics for a few hours. I cranked up a playlist from my itunes and we had a belly of laughs.

Good day to have a day off

Friday, February 24, 2012

great ocean road trip - 24.2.12

After yesterday’s ribbing of not getting up for that sunrise, a full bus minus one headed out. A few went to the lookout and a few headed down to Gibson’s steps to crack that sunrise shot. The sky was clear of cloud which showed the light beams streaking across the cliff top and onto the Apostles.



I waited quite some time to crack the shot of all the Apostles (the ones left that is) to be lit by the morning sun. The last little one on the bottom right of frame took forever to show in the light, and I had to go before it was fully out, (bus was waiting with the rest of the crew on board) but it was mostly out and that’s cool.



We had to check out this morning so all bags were on the bus before our brunch at The Alcove. From there we had what was going to be a quick stop at Sherwin Estuary to shoot some video of Dave, Jaime and I jumping over sand dunes.

V had her camera out working the motor drive overtime and she caught some absolutely cracker shots!!


posted with permission


Jamie and I ended up in a water fight in the sea that had quite large waves and a strong undertow. Just to stay on our feet was tough let alone a muck around water fight for the video camera. But much fun was had.

It was a bit disconcerting getting totally changed in the scrub with the rest of the crew within earshot, and with the sound of an approaching chopper!!!  All was good tho.

After a meandering drive through the hills, we had a quick stop at Lavr’s Hill before arriving at Mait’s Rest. This is the first of the rainforest country that we are here for the next few days.

It was time to pull out the macro lens and the extension tubes to play with. You can’t rush macro. Setting up takes time, manipulating the tripod, and precise focusing is critical. It might take half an hour to get one shot off. There is a whole miniature world if you look hard enough.

the lush tropical forests


fan shapped fungi, about 5cms across.



the very tip of a branch of a fern tree. About 1cm in length



tiny little plant on a rotting tree branch. About 1 cm tall.


fungi on the forest floor. About 1cm tall. Should have taken a pull back shot of how I had the tripod splayed out to get it on the ground.

close up of the same little toadstool.

I’m really pleased with what I had captured.

We made it into Apollo Bay just before 6pm, with just enough time to check into reception before it closed for the day and pick up spare linen as only one bed was made up in each cabin. I’m shacking up with V, Dave and Brenton are in another, the Grownups (Maur and Monica) are sharing one and Jaime has one to herself. We have waterfront row with the beach only 100m away down a grassy slope and across the road. Pete is a couple of rows back and on the other side of the park.






The local IGA has amazing long hours here. Opens at 8am and closes at 9pm, and man are they were busy at 7pm when we all called in. The whole town is busy. It’s a struggle to find a carpark in the front street. Lots of eating houses with plenty of choices of type of tucker and the price tags vary a fair bit too.

I asked a local in the IGA were is a good spot to eat for tea, and it’s the Apollo Bay Pub/Bistro. They sure were busy too, but we were served in a very timely manner and the meals were good.

By the time we got back to the Cabins in the Caravan Park (it’s a little way away from the main street) just about everyone was puffed out. Esp those who went Sand Dune jumping and also did the Gibson’s steps in the morning. I took the laptop down to Dave and Brenton’s cabin and spent some time with them to give V a bit of space while showering etc.

Hit bed around 11pm.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

great ocean road trip - 23.2.12


This morning was forecasted for fog which had the potential for some amazing shots of it rolling over and down the cliffs and into the sea, or just be crap and cold. I chose to sleep in and I’m kicking myself. About twice a year the temperature inversion pushes the fog over the cliffs and into the sea and this morning was one of those times. Only Brenton, Dave and Pete were up to get it. And got it they did!!!!!! I’m green with envy!! And the rest of us were ribbed ALL DAY!!!!!!

 (posted with permission)

After a late breakfast we headed to Sandy Cove that had 3 pillars that photographed well from the cliff top from a variety of angles. This area is right behind the Australia rock that I shot the time lapse from the night before.

We walked further along the cost to reveal Australia, took a few shots and moved on to Murnane Cove. Such a peaceful and pristine little hideaway!!

A quick tea stop and we changed tact for sunset. Some of us went to The Arch, some stayed in the harbour of Port Campbell and one went to The Apostles lookout. Pete was the taxi and did well to get everyone on spot in time.

Dave, Verdell, Brenton and I were at The Arch and the shadow of the cliff we were on slowly rose up the opposing cliff were The Arch was. I’m really glad I took the 300mm lens on the 50D to get the reach across the water to get in close to The Arch, the crashing waves and to cut out the creeping shadow.



An executive decision was made and we power walked the 300m on the road to get to London Bridge with enough light left to get a shot or two off. When we were done, packed up and in the car park waiting for Pete, we played ‘I spy’ in the dark. That sure was funny.

When we were all back in Port Campbell, Dave fixed up my issue with the Card Reader and I created a watermark for his images for the www.

I worked a few shots and headed to bed about 12.15a. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

great ocean road trip 22.2.12


5.30 alarm o’clock this morning… yay an extra 15 mins sleep in again!! Every minute counts at this time of day!!

Some of us went the 12 Apostles boardwalk and lookout for sunrise and some stayed in bed. The cloud become more threatening as the sun rose behind the clouds and some of my last shots were the best ones for drama.


After our hot breakfasts at The Alcove (that’s the name of the cafĂ© that I couldn’t think of yesterday) we headed out to overlook Tranquil Bay. That’s a lovely place for a pano stitch shot.


From Tranquil we drove to the Island Arch. Dave and I wandered around together to get our shots. This was an arch island and only in the last 5 years did the centre ‘bridge’ collapse leaving behind to large individual structures.

The Razorback was next. Again Dave and I took our shots together.
  
And I spent quite a lot of time at Loch Ard Gorge. This is the most magical little jewel of a place and is a gorgeous place to photograph. Dave, Jaime and Pete found me down there later and we clowned around a bit for ‘profile pics’

3 of us had made a temp reservation, weather pending, to charter a helicopter to fly us on a 24 minute (6 minute incriminates) photographic trip. We could ask the pilot to fly us wherever we wanted, and slower than the norm, and even a bit lower to avoid the overhead choppers. There are 5 choppers in this fleet and the oldest one is a year old and about to be changed over. The choppers are all going flat out all day every day and rack up the flight hours really quickly.

I think the pilot (Tom) really enjoyed our company and liked flying something that’s not the norm. He threw the chopper into a couple of turns that pulled a few G’s…… love that. He was excellent at making sure that both sides had the same view, so he turn 180 degrees for us to get ‘that’ shot, or ‘this’ shot.

If you get the chance to go up, grab it!!! And definitely late in the afternoon this time of year when the sun hits the cliff face to light them up. Mornings have them in shadow as does late autumn and winter!!

We had an early tea to have time for those of us who wanted to head down to Gibson’s Steps for sunset. The cloud had fantastic potential to light up, and light up it did. I think I PO’d everywhere. I kept on laughing out loud and giggling away to myself. The sky was that good!!!!!!


Dave and I had a couple of beers to wind down from our PO’s afterwards. He worked his one cracker shot and I worked mine. We talked about camera tech stuff and computer tech stuff. He sure is my tech head guru. I can’t do a photog trip without him lol.

We also tweaked my Australia time lapse and I developed a watermark for his images.

Top day, busy too!!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

great ocean road 21.2.12

5.15am alarm this morning. Extra 15 minutes to sleep. Wahu!!! 

We headed to the 12 Apostles for dawn. The cloud prevented the actual dawn light, but the new morning light was lovely.

We headed back to Port Campbell to pick up "The Grownups" (Pete's name for our two senior ladies) who have chosen not come out for the dawn shoots, and head out for breakfast. We have found this one little place that makes great hot breakfasts and brings them out fast. There's 8 of us having a hot cooked breakfast and we are all served inside 10 mins. I'll try to remember the name of the place tomorrow.

From breakfast we are on the road to Sentinel Rock.

Close by is the first of 3 cliff top trails to view the Baker's Oven. 




We spent a bit of time at the Bakers Oven before heading to Australia.

This rock is pretty spectacular this time of year and I really wanted to try my hand at time lapse photography. I set up my main camera on tripod with the shutter being automatically tripped by remote every 4 seconds. After 2 and half hours to capture the late afternoon light and the last light of the day when Australia is at its best, I had 16GB of images on the card, some 1183 jpeg files to make a movie from. And with the wonderful help from Dave, he showed me how to put one together. I owe a lot to him, he's my tech guru!!




While the 5D MkII was on tripod, I used the 50D to take my stills of this area. We really were blessed with amazing skies, fantastic light and really enjoyed the company I was with.

This area of the Great Ocean Road around Port Campbell is the most spectacular with light at this time of year.   

I'm in the throes of uploading "Australia Light" onto YouTube for your viewing pleasure, and cause I'm pretty damn proud of my first effort of producing a time lapse. I've got plans for another one at a location in the rainforest in a few days time with a special song that has a lot of meaning to me.

Monday, February 20, 2012

great ocean roadtrip 20.2.12

Alarm went off at 5am to get ready to meet the bus at 5.30am to head to Gibson's Steps for the dawn shoot. The steps are a bit wider than normal so going down is not as easy as it should be. We had about a 500m walk thru sand on the beach, so I kicked off my boots.

I had packed a shoulder bag with what I need for this morning's shoot, as well as tripod and umbrella, but I did neglect to pack my remote timer (doh), so I was committed to shooting nothing more than 30 seconds for the long exposure shots. I'm so glad I packed the shoulder bag instead of lugging the 10kg backpack along the beach in that soft sand. As it was the arches of my feet are so sore from the sand being so soft and non supportive.

Dawn broke with no light at all, but it was great for long exposure shots. I'll have to come back next day for another go. We have several mornings here so we can crack that PO dawn shot of the light on the rocks and the cliff face.

By 8.15am we packed up, plodded up the beach and made our way up the steps. I had thought I'd be absolutely stuffed and wheezy when I got to the top, but that was not the case at all. The steps up and down were the easy bit. And I'm really pleased that I didn't have the slightest hint of a wheeze. Giving up the ciggies cold turkey a year ago is paying dividends now!!

We met the 2 older ladies that chose not to come for dawn (good choice in hindsight as it really was a no show and they would have really struggled in the sand and steps) back in Pt Campbell and went out for breakfast. I was famished and thought I'd earnt myself a breakfast of champions!

Those of us who were up early were feeling rather weary, so we had a little bit of down time (nap) while Pete took one of the senior ladies out for a one on one session on camera settings and basic instruction. She came back so fired up and felt like she had learnt so much. She was rapt. So were those of us that had a snooze. We were fired up and ready to get on out there.

Our first port of call was to the Grotto. Fascinating little place. Pete, Jaime and I were in stitches of laughter taking shots of us as a group with the iphone. There was a fair bit of rib tickling, belly button digging, grundie incidents. I had the sorest tummy muscles from laughing.

If nothing else this trip has a big time fun factor.

After The Grotto we headed to The Arch. We had two locations to shoot the arch from. The first was quite close but with a bit of foreground to contend with, and the second was further back that need the 300m lens on the 50D to zoom in with. The 50D has the crop factor of 1.6 which in effect makes the 300 into a 480mm zoom lens. And that's the reason why I'm lugging around 2 camera bodies  ;-)

While at the second location shooting The Arch, I slapped away some sort of insect without looking to see what it was, and was promptly stung for my reward. One of the girls pulled the sting out of my hand. It did burn for a while, but didn't swell at all.

We had a late lunch a Peterbourgh and went to Wild Dog Cove. While the rest of the group headed left on the beach, I went right. And I was really pleased that I did. A couple of the others that came up later said that this end was much more photographically pleasing.

Back to Pt Campbell for tea at one of the restaurants before heading to the 12 Apostles for sunset. There was potential for a sunset PO, but there was also a cloud bank that could take the light before the sun went down for the night. 4 chose to stay up on the lookout (me included as my feet were so sore and the thought of walking on that beach with those sore feet was just a bit too much) and 4 went down the Gibson's Steps and on that beach again.

The last light of the day lasted about 5 minutes before the cloud took it away, and all around us on the lookout the shutter action went nuts for that whole 5 minutes.

After getting back to our rooms Jaime, David and I headed to the pub with laptops and cameras in hand to check out the days work over a beer or two!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

great ocean road trip 19.2.12

I had a whoopsie with the alarm clock this morning....... but in a good way. I had set it for 4.15am instead of 4.45am..... like I said, a whoopsie. I did use the extra half an hour to get stuck into yesterday's photos and add to the blog.

Everyone was up bright and keen for sunrise at the 12 Apostles this morning. And it was a good show.
David Hobbis Iphone photography (I'd forgotten to take mine lol)





And then it rained bring a swift halt to the sunrise session. I'm am super glad I bought a weather cover for the camera before I left for the USA trip, as it was used this morning for the first time.


Jaime is lots of fun and we are always taking the mickey out of each other!!!!!




Back to Port Campbell for breakfast. Scrambled eggs and ice coffee (breakfast of champions).


First port of call was to eyeball Childer's Cove to see what the potential sky was doing,



before making our way to London Bridge. This was an arch that collapsed in 1990, leaving 2 people marooned on the now isolated landmass. A helicopter was arranged to winch them off.



After London Bridge we grabbed lunch nibbles to eat later and made our way to Sandy Cove. What a little piece of heaven this remote spot is. Its a small hike to get there but the results in camera were so worth it. I got a little adventurous and was in the rolling surf up to my tummy to get the shots I wanted.



 My motto is not to care if clothes get wet, they'll wash. So I shucked the camera, the watch and ran with Jamie to dive into a way. She didn't lol. It was exhilarating!!

I was cooled off nicely and had dried enough in time to put the backpack on and make my way back up the long beach and sand dunes to get to the bus. By this time, I was plenty warm and the jeans were plenty uncomfortable.

The older members were quite knocked out after this warm and tiring part of the day, and with the sky clearing to a clear boring blue, it was decided to head back to the hotel rooms for a late afternoon shower and a two hour break for those who needed a recharging nana nap. I gathered enough clothes from all our group to make a decent load in the washing machine and had time to get them through the drier. I tried Skping home (they were out) and washed my hair. I also finished off all of yesterday's shots, posted a few on Facebook and tagged them.

We headed out for an early tea before sunset, which didn't look very likely. An inverse temp found a fog rolling in from over land on one side, and a thick cloud bank on the other. As sunset can be shot from the same spot as sunrise at the 12 Apostles, we headed there. Pete and Jaime headed down the steep and many Gibson's steps to get to beach level for their shots. Seeing that sunset was most unlikely, the rest of didn't think the effort of those steps coming back up was worth it. As it turned out, sunset was a fizzer and I didn't even get my camera out.

Upon return back to our rooms, everyone's pretty thrilled with the day because the sky was really going off, and pretty weary from the early start and the slog in the sand.

I'll just finish this and head to bed too. 10.15am Vic time. (damn early for me!!!)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

great ocean road trip - 18.2.12

Didn't sleep all that well overnight. I was feeling rather hot and unsettled. So at 2.30am I got up and fired up the laptop to get some images done from my LA trip. I blogged my daily journal for the 17.2.12 and got some little details tided up.

Sharon dropped me off at 8.30am at the Airport Motel to meet Pete and the crew of 6 other shutterbugs. We have one more joining us in Port Campbell in the evening.


Dave is on this trip. (far left with his thumb up) He's the fella that was with Pete and I on Pete's March 2011 KI trip. And I shot with Dave Easter time last year as well. It's great to catch up with Dave, toss him his extra strong ice coffee and talk about his new family addition (a little boy 4 months old).

Dave


Verdell 


Jaime


Monica


There's a couple of others that I haven't taken in action yet  :O)
All 7 of us bonded as a team really quickly and were in loud fits of laughter so often.

Pete trusting his handy Tom Tom GPS took us the scenic way to Port Campbell via Warrambool . On the way we stopped on the border for a quick group shot that didn't quite work (I've my back turned running to the group)



and not long we saw this fantastic tree with a clear horizon behind it and the skies to really show it off



After travelling through some pretty gorgeous country (lots and lots of cattle here, mostly steers) and fields and fields of corn/maize we stopped for a shot at the very southern tip of the Grampians.




The day was warm and I'm still adjusting to Aussie temps again, and I was starting to feel rather hot and wilted.

We got to Warrambool a little later than expected due to the stops and had a quick muck around in the huge playground. What a kid heaven, and I just had to release the inner child for a bit.










Images posted with permission

We had tea here at Warrambool (and by now I was feeling very hot in the pub for tea) and the couple of Coopers beers didn't even touch the sides.

A short drive later and here we are at Port Campbell which is base camp for the next 6 days. I quickly took some shots of the room before I unpacked too much. Its a very spacious room to spread out in.







Off to bed. Alarm clock set for 4.45am in the morning!!!