Norah Head Lighthouse – NSW Landscape Travel Photos

2012 Road-trip up the NSW coastline with my buddy Timothy Yip

Day 1 of 6

Earlier on in the day we had left Sydney to drive up north to visit the sights at Terrigal, which is in the Central Coast region. The weather was fantastic with blue skies and little cloud cover. I will post the Terrigal collection in another post.

Here are 2 highlights taken from our 2nd destination, Norah Head Lighthouse, around 3PM in the afternoon. Pictured in the first image is of course Norah Head Lighthouse, and in the second, is a small (but colourful) part of the massive rock platform on which the lighthouse is perched atop of (you can see on the Google Maps image below). Storm clouds were brewing off the coast and we started to feel a light sprinkle of rain, so we packed up our gear and walked back to the car park to seek refuge in a motel so we could recharge for the night.

Andrew Croucher Photography - Norah Head Lighthouse.jpgAndrew Croucher Photography - Norah Head.jpg

Andrew Croucher Photography - Norah Head Lighthouse.jpgAndrew Croucher Photography - Norah Head.jpg

Where is Norah Head Lighthouse?

Note: the beautiful aqua and blue colours emanating from the massive rock through the water.

Gear for the shoot

  • Canon 50D
  • Tokina 11-16mm F2.8
  • Benro carbon-fiber tripod
  • Aputure remote shutter trigger

 

Stormy Dawn at Flat Rock beach and Newcastle Ocean Baths

Today in Sydney the weather is absolutely dreadful, I had some time off from work, and was inspired to finish editing these pics I took over a year ago in Newcastle during a landscape photography road-trip half way up the east coast of Australia with my friend and fellow photographer Timothy Yip.

2012 Road-trip up the NSW coastline

Day 3 of 6

This was one the most challenging environments I’ve shot in, and it was a choice we made to endure these conditions and see how much we (and our cameras) could physically take. Plus we didn’t really have a choice since we were only there for a couple days and had to make to the most of this trip! :)

Newcastle; canoe pool; andrew croucher photography; NSW; australia; Beach; east coast; storm; dawn; bad weather; dramatic; fine art; landscape; black and white; slow shutter; rain; seascape; nature; ocean baths; canon; 50d; tokina; 11-16;

Strong winds blowing seawater off the ocean bath’s surface.

So it was Boxing Day, 26th of December, 2012, 4:30 AM (2nd day of our NSW east-coast road trip), cold, dark, very windy with some light rain when we got to Newcastle Ocean Baths (right on the beach). There was zero chance of a majestic sunrise happening, and the conditions weren’t ideal for us or the cameras. Strong winds blew seawater and rain onto the lens and into the buttons of the cameras so we were frequently wiping the lenses dry only for it to get a few more drops the instant you take a shot. This limited our compositions too, we weren’t able to get out to the rocks facing the ocean because the waves were crashing violently and spraying up too much sea water which meant we couldn’t get down low to the water with the cameras and tripods for those awesome low wide-angle shots. So with our large hot cups of McDonald’s coffee and cameras in our hands, we braved the weather and began scouting the area to find some other interesting scenes to shoot.

We felt like we were National Geographic photographers risking our lives for awesome photos. The morning was long, we walked (marched) in the rain for hours, but towards the end of our journey, we ended up getting soaked by a few massive waves hitting a break-wall and then we had to call an end to it. We were freezing cold by this point, and had a long walk back to the car…

So far, my favourite two shots for the day (and the ones I’ll publish for printing or licensing) are taken at Flat Rock beach, Newcastle (shown below). This location is popular for surfing and there are annual tournaments held here. Newcastle in general has a huge surfing culture and waves are good year-round.

I liked the movement in the water and the clouds, even though the exposures where only for 5 seconds, you can see quite a bit of cloud movement, an indication of just how windy it was that day. I decided black and white also for these photos because they looked more dramatic and have this fine art quality about them.

Andrew Croucher Photography - Newcastle Flatrock Beach (1).jpgAndrew Croucher Photography - Newcastle - Stormy dawn - Flatrock Beach (1).jpg

Andrew Croucher Photography - Newcastle Flatrock Beach (1).jpgAndrew Croucher Photography - Newcastle - Stormy dawn - Flatrock Beach (1).jpg

 

 

A Fitness Photoshoot with Carlos Teixeira

Back in November 2013, I had a visit at my home studio (and gym) from my friend Carlos, an IT expert and personal trainer with a new Australian group fitness and PT business starting up PROSCULPT FITNESS.

Carlos has been chiseling away at his physique for many years and his body was looking it’s best ever, so to mark this transformation milestone, he wanted to do a fitness photoshoot and at the same time, we could get some promotional photos for his new website.

He has put a lot of work into his bodybuilding regime to reach his goals and he certainly knows his stuff. We got to talking about our exercise and nutrition philosophies and exchanged some tips. I was also surprised by his professionalism, he was well prepared and knew what he wanted in the shots and was helpful in providing input for our collaboration.

The shoot began in my garage gym while he pumped-up his muscles with a series of weighted exercises, I took some candids of him working out and some posed shots. Later on we took some more posed photos in my living room studio against a black backdrop.

Here are some of the favourites out of the bunch.

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Empress Falls – Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

Empress Falls, Blue Mountains

This stream runs from the spill off of the Valley of Waters Creek. Taking millions of years to cut a narrow canyon (now known as Empress Canyon, it is now popular for abseiling) through the upper layers of the Blue Mountains Sandstone to end up here at Empress Falls where the water spills 30 meters from the gorge and into a deep pool, surrounded by fern-filled ledges.

Empress Falls was the 2nd waterfall along the 9km Wentworth Falls circuit. It was a tough downhill trail with an even tougher uphill stair climb that reaches inclines of up to 60degress. Your legs will be burning with lactic acid as you climb up the steep stairs up the side of a waterfall, but with every step you take you remind yourself to hold on to the rail or you could fall backwards very easily down 70m to your death.

While taking this shot, a well-built shirtless man in shorts and sneakers was jogging past, as I waited for him to clear the scene, I realised that he could be running around the same trail that my friend and I were hiking which I thought was pretty impressive! And this inspired me to run this trail one day. I think it would be awesome to run through these wonderful scenes and breath in the forest air while getting a punishing workout!

Behind the image

This is actually 3 horizontal images stitched together to make 1 image. This was due to the fact that I broke my wide angle lens on another expedition, and had to rely on my Sigma 30mm during this trip to the Blue Mountains. Fitted onto my Canon 50D, I had to take a lot of multiple shots to fit in these epic waterfalls and landscapes. Not only does this take up more room on the memory card, but I would later have to stitch up these images which was a long process. But frankly, I enjoy the whole process of seeing it come together. And it ends up making my images a higher resolution (more megapixels), with more detail due to the multiple shots.

After stitching this image up, I played with the perspective of the image to get more depth and visual aesthetic.

Then converted it into black and white in Photoshop, while paying attention to the tones, I burned (darkened) some of the shadows to highlight and focus the eye on the waterfall.

Empress Falls - Blue Mountains - Panoramic -Andrew Croucher Photography.jpg

Empress Falls - Blue Mountains - Panoramic -Andrew Croucher Photography.jpg

“Fitness Spirit” photo shoot with Nadine Groat

Here is the first part of the ”Fitness spirit” photo shoot. A project I have been working on since January 2014. My vision was to create scenes of my fitness philosophy of holistic training, where cross-fitness meets spiritual development.

The model I chose for this shoot was Nadine Groat, (I wouldn’t have anyone else!) out of the models (male and female) that were considered, Nadine not only fit the style, but she also genuinely shared my philosophy of training and practiced similar things. I had worked with Nadine before, and both times she has delivered images that I am proud of. Thanks Nadine!

I didn’t want to do the “Fitspiration”-style (fitness motivation) photos with superficial beauty and mindset. Because fitness is more than improving your sex appeal. Its about developing your ‘temple’ overall. And I wanted a person that radiated inner and outer beauty and was representative of the people that would train holistically, real people.

I love dreamy scenes and wanted to go a bit further with my stylizing and post-editing techniques. Seeing as it was a personal project, it was more about expressing myself and pushing boundaries.

The resulting images were shot at Cronulla Beach in south-east Sydney on a quiet Saturday. Enjoy the journey!

Nadine makes her way over to the shore and stares off into the distance, emptiness in her thoughts, she is calm and conscious about her surroundings. Taking in the moment and readying herself for yoga…

[To be continued...]

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Cast photoshoot of Disney’s Mulan Jr. presented by The Regals Musical Society

The Regals Musical Society - Disney Mulan Jr -logo - Andrew Croucher Photography

Just completed a super fun ‘no-pressure’ head-shots and early rehearsal photo session tonight for the musical production of Disney’s Mulan JR. presented by The Regals Musical Society. Promo shoots and dress-rehearsal shoots coming up soon. So excited to see the show in February!

Venue and dates

The show will be at held at Bexley RSL (24 Stoney Creek Rd. Bexley, NSW) on February 14th, 15th, 21st and 22nd at 8pm AND February 16 at 2pm.

About Mulan Jr.

Directed by Heather Riley | Musical Direction by Belinda Robinson | Choreography  by Tracy Reid

Travel back to the legendary, story-telling days of ancient China with this action-packed stage adaptation of Disney’s Mulan. The Huns have invaded and it is up to the misfit Mulan and her mischievous sidekick Mushu to save the Emperor! Disney’s MULAN JR. is a heart-warming celebration of culture, honour and a fighting spirit. The score includes favourites like ‘Reflection’, Honour to us all’, and ‘I’ll make a man out of you’ as well as new songs that will get the audience up on its feet (*info sourced from the show’s flyer).

Bookings

Book your tickets at The Regals website or on 0449 REGALS (734257).

Here’s a sneak peak.

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disney mulan jr poster - the regals musical society

Wangfujing – Beijing – Panoramic photo

Life in the fast lane

In this image I wanted to capture the rapid urban development, emerging middle-class (with more income and prosperity), and the Americanization of the Chinese culture (increased capitalism, retail and consumer lifestyle, fashion and individualistic trends). I could elaborate on these topics, but I don’t want to write an essay!

This particular street, named Wangfujing, meaning “Prince’s Mansion well” (after a sweet tasting water well was unearthed during the construction of ten aristocratic estates and a prince’s residence in the Qing Dynsasty- 1644 to 1912), is Beijing’s most famous shopping street that is located in a downtown district of Dongchen, dating back to the mid-Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) the markets, commerce and other consumer activities have been conducted in this area for centuries. It is only about one block long but consists of many large and small stores, consisting of Beijing’s most prominent brands (around 280) and many international brands.

There is also a section that is dedicated to food and snacks, with many street stalls and restaurants crammed together serving common and exotic street food such as fried scorpion, meat kebabs, desserts and candied fruits on a stick.

In the past this street was known to English-speaking foreigners as Morrison Street (named after the Australian journalist George Ernest Morrison – another interesting story).

It used to be a street for vehicles to travel through, but since 1999, much of it has been pedestrianized.  The hustle and bustle never seems to stop here, open and busy during the day but much more alive during the night with the bright lights and more locals and tourists out to eat and shop.

Creating this Panoramic Photo

Captured using my ‘gripped’ Canon 50D with a Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens, mounted on a Benro carbon-fiber tripod and remotely triggered to capture four separate images to create one seamless photo using Photoshop. Not much post-editing was required, as I like the way my Canon camera renders colorful night scenes, so I just boosted the sharpness and contrast a little.

Would have been easier to do this with a landscape lens but my Tokina 11-16mm broke before my trip to Asia and was under repair. So for all the landscape shots requiring a wider perspective, I had to make-do with the 30mm (50mm perspective) during 90% of my Asia trip, shooting multiple images to stitch up later on the computer. A very time-consuming task!

I’m glad that my images turned out OK, considering the difficulties. I certainly learned a lot about my Sigma lens and working with the 50mm perspective and also improved my understanding of making panoramic images.

Fast Lane - Wangfujing - Beijing - Andrew Croucher Photography - web.jpg

Fast Lane - Wangfujing - Beijing - Andrew Croucher Photography - web.jpg

Temple of Heaven panoramic photo – Beijing

Temple of Heaven

Built in Beijing in the 1420′s during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644) for the emperors of both Ming and Qing (1644 – 1911) Dynasties to hold Heaven worship ceremonies.

Only recently in 1988 did the government authorities open it up to the public to revel the ancient philosophy, history and religion of this old civilisation.

The complex is 2.7 million square meters, bigger than the 740,000 square meter Forbidden City (where the Emperors resided) because the Emperors were seen as the “Sons of Heaven” therefore they were prevented from building any dwelling for themselves that was bigger than the Temple of Heaven Complex.

This main temple, is surrounded by other fantastic monuments such as the Circular Mound Altar, the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest.

The design is semi-circular in the north and square in the south, this symbolizes Heaven as a circle and Earth as a square, and the former is always elevated higher than the latter. Which reminds me of the Hermetic maxim of “As above, so below”.

Creating this Pano

This image is made up of 7 hand-held vertical images taken on my Canon 50D with a super-sharp Sigma 30mm F1.4 prime lens. Originally I had used ‘bracketing’ mode to shoot 3 exposures per shot but I just stitched together the normally exposed shots in Photoshop CS6 to create this image. After some fiddling, I did experiment with making the HDR version, but it didn’t look as good or realistic, with a lot of ‘ghosting’ where the people were moving in the shot. It would have taken too much time in post-processing so I abandoned  it to work on this pano. It wasn’t a very contrasty day requiring high dynamic range so the normal exposures were fine, I did however have to brighten the shadows on the temple to bring out the details while sharpening and tone-mapping the overall image.

There was one major optical obstacle to overcome such as a guard rail in the foreground that I wanted to remove because it posed as a distraction, this tested my healing brush and clone-stamp technique in Photoshop.

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Beijing - Temple of Heaven - Andrew Croucher Photography.jpg

 

Purchase your own copy of this panoramic image and many others at my Stock image page.

A couples photo shoot with Maddy May and Jacob Duque

This couples photo shoot took 3.5 hours with Maddy May and her friend Jacob. We endured high winds and sand-blasting at Balmoral beach located in North Sydney. My eyes, ears, hair and pockets copped most of the sand and my models did really well to carry on to get the shoot done. While my poor camera and lenses are gonna need a good cleaning and some TLC.

Thankfully the weather was fantastic and the late afternoon sun was just divine, especially during the golden hour. There were many locations in the area that made perfect backdrops for a romantic couples photo shoot, with much more I need to go back and discover. A big thank you to Maddy May and Jacob Duque for giving me the opportunity, and also to Karen (Maddy’s mum) and Carina Jager for being very patient while accompanying them and providing moral support with added critiques. Lovely to meet and spend the time with you guys, it was good fun!

Enjoy our couples photo album and hopefully you get some great couples photography ideas. Please get in contact with me to set up a couples photo shoot through my Contact page.

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Blue Haze at Blue Hour – Blue Mountains

Blue Haze at Blue Hour

It’s twilight (aka blue hour) and as the sun sets off to one side of the horizon, darkness begins to takeover, and a blue mist lingering over the valley becomes more visible.

This phenomenon is where the Blue Mountains receives it’s name, and is caused by the oil bearing eucalyptus trees releasing fine droplets of eucalyptus oil mixed with dust particles and water vapour.

Standing at a lookout in Wentworth Falls, off to the distance we can see Mount Solitary. It is surrounded by Jamison Valley to the left and Narrow Neck Plateau to the right.

Blue haze at Blue hour - Blue Mountains - Andrew Croucher Photography.jpg