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Chasing the Sun at Port Macquarie – Sunrise and Sunset photos

2012 Road-trip up the NSW coast

Day 5 of 6

This journal entry highlights ‘Day 5 of 6’ of my road-trip with my good friend up the east coast of NSW back in 2012. We never been to Port Macquarie so it was a great opportunity to enjoy the sights. We stayed at T’s Tennis Resorts which was a big motel with great sporting facilities and known for their tennis courts, where many local tournaments are held. But they also have swimming pools, a spa and newly installed putt-putt /miniature golf circuit. Overall, it was a very comfortable place to stay over the duration of 2 days. We cooked on the barbeque and prepared our own meals to save money and eat better.

First Light at Town Beach

We didn’t get much sleep that night we were both very dazed when we woke up at 4AM to drive to Town Beach, Tim had even less sleep, apparently I was snoring and sleep-talking all night! –sorry mate! 

The night sky was a dark blue shade that faded into a light blue horizon, with the colourful wispy clouds ablaze with yellow and orange were it catches the first light of the sun, then fading off to a pink and purple. The beach was also reflecting these beautiful colours along the shore and in the sand.

Standing there in awe of such a sight, I couldn’t wait to scout the beach for angles, this happened to be my 3rd photo of the morning when we were walking along the beach to a section with giant rock platforms. It was already my favourite image for the day.

 
First Light - Port Macquarie  Sunrise - Andrew Croucher Photography.jpg

 

Golden Dawn

We got to the rock platforms and the sun was shining through the gaps of the heavy clouds above the horizon creating an orange and golden sky. The waves there were turbulent and smashing up againt thes rocks. You can see the rocks being formed by the water over millions of years.

Shortly after we packed and went back to the resort to upload and review the images and eat a nice warm breaky. A late morning snooze was needed after that morning session so we could continue shooting latet and shoot the sunset at another location in Port Macquarie.

Andrew Croucher Photography - Golden Dawn - Port Macquarie.jpg

After Glow

We arrived at a different location moments before sunset, only to find that it was a disappointing view, so then we were frantically chasing the sun, driving west, in-land from the east coast of Port Macquarie, past the town, and into the flat farmland where we could pull over on the side of the road to capture this beautiful Australian sunset. As you can see, by the time we found an ideal location, the sun had set behind some mountains off to the distance, but this had cast a huge shadow in the sky. The spectrum of colours in the sky and the brooding cloud formation made an interesting kind of sunset photo to share.

After Glow - Port Macquarie sunset Andrew Croucher photo.jpg

First Light - Port Macquarie  Sunrise - Andrew Croucher Photography.jpgAfter Glow - Port Macquarie sunset Andrew Croucher photo.jpg

Where is Port Macquarie?

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Canon EF-s 10-18mm and EF 16-35mm f/4L on Australian shores pre-release – My first impressions

It’s approaching the end of financial year and in the world of business, it’s another Christmas! Well, today it certainly felt like it when I met someone, lets call that person Santa, who had a few surprises in their camera bag.

My source informs me that I’m the 5th person to see this on Australian shores, so I am really excited to get my hands on them! These ultra-wide angle zoom lenses are a great addition to Canon’s range and will suit different levels of photographers.

I’m most surprised by the Canon EF-s 10-18mm IS STM, it’s tiny size (like a 50mm prime lens), light-weight, solid feel with many more features and I think this will sell really well at the price. I also think it will be the ultimate budget traveller’s Landscape Lens if you are a photographer that wants high quality,  light weight and low replacement costs in case it gets damaged of stolen.

It is replacing Canon’s EF-s 10-22mm , which was released in 2004 and is still a great lens if you want an ultra-wide angle lens that has ‘L-series’-style colour reproduction and overall, a sharp quality with little distortion. I haven’t had a chance to pixel peep into at the images from the EF-s 10-18mm on the 70D because there was no memory card in the camera! So I can only hope that this lens will be as good if not better than the EF-s 10-22mm’s image quality. Here are some pictures from Mic’s review of the Canon EF-s 10-18mm.

A few other features that stood out were the image stabilisation and an STM motor for a quick and ‘silent’ auto-focus. Great for any handheld work, especially landscape and architectural photographers and videographers.

For low-light situations, the image stabilisation will give you 4 stops more light, in the case that a real estate agent/photographer forgets to bring a tripod, they can shoot indoors handheld providing there is sufficient light, and a higher ISO setting may need to be used.

Canon EF-s 10-18mm IS STM specifications:

  • Focal Length: 10–18mm
  • Maximum Aperture:  1:4.5–5.6
  • Lens Construction: 14 elements in 11 groups
  • Diagonal Angle of View: 107°30′ – 74°20′
  • Focus Adjustment: Rear focus system
  • Closest Focusing Distance: 0.72 ft. / 0.22m
  • Filter Size: 67mm diameter
  • Max Diameter x Length, Weight: 2.9 x 2.8 inches, approx. 8.5 oz. / 74.6 x 72.0mm, approx. 240g

Canon 70D with EFs-10-18 f3.5-5.5 Australian Pre-release hands on review

 

And for the enthusiast, semi-pro or professional there is the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L USM IS Lens, the glass and the build quality in this lens is much better than the EF-s 10-18mm, but that’s because it is the signature L-series, with that comes a price and a quality standard to be expected.

This lens has the added benefit of image stabilisation, again, great for the videographers, although I don’t find it necessary for my handheld video or landscape needs, it will be great for the price, which is a little cheaper than the Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L MKII.

As a current owner of the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L MKII, I can vouch for the quality of these L-series Ultra-wide lenses. They render rich beautiful colours with great micro-contrast within the details. I am currently using this lens on Canon 50D and 70D, both are APS-C cropped sensor cameras, and it has a very usable zoom-range of 26-56mm on an equivalent 35mm sensor. It is my work-horse lens that I use for landscapes, portraits and events.

In saying that there are still disadvantages of Canon’s wide angle zoom lenses like having corner softness. But hopefully this lens is sharp at f/4 in the corners. As mentioned above, I wasn’t able to pixel peep, but here are some sample shots from Canon Rumors Guy. Seems pretty sharp in the corners to me, I did spot 1 image that had corner softness, but it really depends on your focusing technique and the aperture setting of the lens.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L USM IS specifications:

  • Focal Length: 16–35mm
  • Maximum Aperture:  1:4.0
  • Lens Construction: 16 elements in 12 groups
  • Diagonal Angle of View: 108°10′ – 63°
  • Focus Adjustment: Inner focus system
  • Closest Focusing Distance: 0.92 ft. / 0.28m
  • Filter Size: 77mm diameter
  • Max Diameter x Length, Weight: 3.3 x 4.4 inches, approx. 21.7 oz. / 82.6 x 112.8mm, approx. 615g

 

Canon 70D with EF 16-35 f4 IS

 

 

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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

 

 

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“Fitness Spirit” photo shoot with Nadine Groat

Here is the first part of the “Fitness spirit” photo shoot. The theme is holistic training, where cross-fitness meets spiritual development. This segment shows the scenes of stillness, serenity, joy, inner reflection and soft exercise.

The model for this shoot was the lovely Nadine Groat. She radiates inner and outer beauty and also trains holistically.

The resulting shoot was at Cronulla Beach in south-east Sydney on a quiet Saturday. What started off as a nice sunny day became over cast with the sun behind the clouds. We were hoping to have a golden sun-set but the weather didn’t hold up and it got dark quickly. I added abit of warmth on the images to fake some sun light and pushed the editing abit extreme to experiment with how far I can push an image to suit my original vision. Anyways, its just abit of muckin around in the early days and still evolving my photography and editing tastes and practices.

Fitness Spirit - Nadine Groat - Andrew Croucher Photography (1).jpgFitness Spirit - Nadine Groat - Andrew Croucher Photography.jpgFitness Spirit - Nadine Groat - Andrew Croucher Photography (8).jpgFitness Spirit - Nadine Groat - Andrew Croucher Photography (13).jpgFitness Spirit - Nadine Groat - Andrew Croucher Photography (12).jpg

 

 

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Wangfujing shopping centre – Beijing – Panoramic photo

Life in the fast lane

This image conveys the rapid urban development, emerging middle-class (with more income and prosperity), and the Americanization of the Chinese culture.

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 the Canon 50D with a Sigma 30mm F1.4 lens, mounted on a Benro carbon-fiber tripod and remotely triggered to capture four separate long exposures 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 Sigma 30mm (which has a 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 composition with a prime 50mm lens 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

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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

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Metropolis, HK – Hong Kong Victoria Harbour Night skyline panoramic

The southern side of Hong Kong, just one half of the alluring “Pearl of the Orient”, a British/Chinese mega-metropolis that covers a very little portion of China’s vast landmass. It is one of the world’s leading international financial centers, this business district, where the international exchange of currency is the main contributor to its economy along with its reception of foreign direct investment.

Check out this beautiful side of Hong Kong, a modern jewel (click image below to enlarge). Captured on an almost clear summer night, walking along the famous ‘Avenue of the Stars’ in Kowloon. It is a panoramic image composed of 10 30 second landscape (horizontally orientated) images stitched together and edited in Photoshop and Lightroom with my signature style. The equipment used was my newly purchased Canon 16-35mm F2.8L mounted on my Canon 50D with a corded remote shutter trigger, with the whole kit mounted on a tripod of course!

Buy your copy of this Hong Kong panoramic today in 12×36 inch for AUD$150, and get free matte and framing. Offer last until 28th of February.

Metropolis HK - Skyline - Andrew Croucher Photography.jpg

For more information of Central district in Hong Kong see Wikipedia’s page  (Don’t forget to donate to Wikipedia to keep this great resource going).

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Sydney Panorama

Metropolis Syd- Panorama 2-Edit-2 web.jpg

Metropolis, SYD

Another place I call home, so many of Sydney’s landmarks can be seen from here including (from left to right) St. Mary’s Cathedral, Centrepoint tower, Fort Denison, QVB, Sydney Opera House, Anzac Bridge, The Rocks and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Metropolis Syd- Panorama 2-Edit-2 web.jpg

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Xizha Watertown, Wuzhen – Venice of the East

Wuzhen - old city night waterscape - 2-2-pano-2.jpg

Xizha Watertown – Venice of the East

A picturesque ancient water town in Wuzhen that has more than 1300 years of history, built south of the Yangtze River, these canals divide the town into 6 districts.

Delicate wood carvings and stonework decorate the bridges, streets and buildings.

A town rich in culture that can be seen to this day, with unique food and various folk festivals, it is also the home of Chinese literature, many famous poets and calligraphers moved here to pursue their dreams.

Wuzhen - old city night waterscape - 2-2-pano-2.jpg

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