Archive for the ‘News’ Category

This was the view from my office yesterday afternoon.

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4391

but lets start from the beginning, shall we? Ok, I’ll tell it how it is.

This is NOT some heroic rescue story. This is simply how I saw it. My account of what happened.

A bit of background for those NOT living in Toowoomba/QLD/Australia. Toowoomba is a city perched on a hill, 700m above sea level and I was just telling my relatives not to worry about the Queensland floods because Toowoomba is *immune* to floods. Yesterday, I ate my words. Also, I live on the very top of a hill, close to being at one of the highest point in Toowoomba, on about a +-10% incline.

Went to work yesterday morning, it was drizzling. Not the most normal of mornings but judging from the weather this past couple of weeks, nothing out of the ordinary.

Went back for lunch around 12.45pm – heavy rain.

At 1.30pm, I left for Noodle Box in Westridge to buy some lunch for Leon. I noticed that my garden was already flooded and at that point in time I remember thinking that it was pretty funny. I took one look outside and was greeted with this site:

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4362

Remember this is pretty much close to one of the highest points in Toowoomba, about 3/4 way up on a steep incline. That opposite side has NEVER had water running down it, so to have it fly over the curb like a wave is crazy. As I reversed down the driveway, the water splashed over my bonnet for the first time.

Headed to Westridge and parked right on the corner closest to shelter. I had an umbrella in the passenger seat but figured I’d make the one meter without getting drenched. I was wrong. I remember stepping out and noticing that the water was about an inch high. Why did I take notice? -because I was wearing my new leather shoes :(

3 minutes later, I walked out with my order and it was like a beach. Water gushing out of the drainpipes and drains didn’t help. When I got to my car the water rushed into my shoes (almost four inches).

Time from office to home for lunch: 10mins. It took me 30 minutes + major detours to get back to the office as I figured some places would be worse off than others. I later found out that I was right as the road that I was suppose to take has a steep incline and at about the same time I decided to take “the scenic route” a similiar sized car to mine tried to climb it (opposite direction from where I was heading) and ended up bogging down on the spot with water rushing over the bonnet. *phew*. As I drove down West Street, I followed a 4×4 pickup going not more than 20kmh. Now, there are small side streets that run into West Street every 50 meters or so. Everytime I saw that pickup go past one you could see the water slam into its sides. I only prayed that he wouldn’t stop because I had a feeling the water was at around the height of the car exhaust and didn’t want to let go of the accelerator.  I followed the highest roads I knew and passed a number of cars that had simply bogged down in the middle of the road and finally made it back.

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4376

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4381

When the rain stopped, I took my camera and walked outside to have a look. As the fog cleared up I could see the worst of it in the distance. (see first photo). I strolled down to have a closer look. I was greeted with a torrent of a current running through the road effectively splitting the entire city into East and West (below picture taken facing dead East).

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4392

After a couple of morons tried to go through it failed, officials came to seal off the road and traffic got rerouted away. As I turned the corner I noticed Goggs Street in the distance…

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4393

Only later did I realize that the reason the current was so strong was because the place in the picture below acted as a Delta where all the water from the higher grounds in the South side merged and ravaged the CBD (Central Business District) tearing apart everything in it’s path.

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4395

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4404

Even with water all over the place the water level wasn’t at its highest. At this point it is at about the height of a car tire. A couple of minutes later and its up again. Now its about as high as the button you press for the green man on a pedestrian crossing.

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4407

Of course there were the usual a bunch of people taking photos and videos. I’m all for that but why walk into the water? Remember how I said that manholes across the city have pushed their covers out and are now overflowing? What? I didn’t? Well, they are and the bacteria from those drains are now all over the place. Very hygienic indeed.

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4410

See this bulge in the water? That’s coz of the two cars that got swept like a bulldozer picking up a person and slamming it into a wall.

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4418

If you’re local you’ll see them repeat the video of this happening…right next to Repco (you’ll see it in the background). Viewed from the other side of this shot:

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4423

Close up for your viewing pleasure (gotta love the 70-300mm VR lens):

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4427

After a little while I thought I’d  better head back to do some work. I turned around and noticed something I hadn’t before: Prescott Street. It’s a little street running parallel to the flood that had its worst not too long ago. Have a look:

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4441

I went in for a closer look:

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4454

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4457

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4463

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4465

This is the Yamaha shop. You can see all the bikes ruined in the background…

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4464

At this point I had had enough. I headed back to the office after taking one last shot. It looks like he’s at a beach. On the left you can see some tiles from a sidewalk that had been torn out.

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4482

THE AFTERMATH

For the rest of the afternoon I got updates from colleagues including facebook photos/e-mails/videos and other third party info. So, after work I made it a point to visit some of the more severely hit places to see if I could get some photos of the aftermath. Got scolded by a policeman in the process – not to mention this very sad way to inaugurate my new shoes – by walking through dirt and mud!

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4506

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4507

Car bumper with no car…

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4509

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4511

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4518

Check out this slab of asphalt simply ripped up from a road. It looks small bit its about a meter wide:

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4519

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4520

Towing companies taking advantage of the situation… AUD66/tow multiplied by… 1,2,…3000000!

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4522

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4515

See that blue Mitsubishi Magna on the right(top)? That’s Winder and Iris’s car…now flooded with water :(

Below is Russell Street, one of the worst hit streets which saw brand new thousand+ dollar sofas simply thrown into the streets. People had helped clean them up by now and lined them up along the sidewalk.

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4528

People volunteering to help clean up the streets as best they could:

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4531

These were brand new sofas and La-Z-Boys not more than 24 hours ago…

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4537

Dirt and mud littering the downtown city centre:

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4540

The Coffee Club on Margaret Street was one of the worst hit. Glass was broken and water pouring out of the cafe. I dare not go closer so this is all I have:

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4541

Sidewalks were all piled up by the side of the road probably to be put back when the situation calms down.

toowoomba flash flood 2011-4545

All in all it has been an insane day. I’ve been told not to come into work today so I figured I’d write this post. Everyone I know is fine and there were forecasts of rain today but so far so good. Let’s hope it stays this way.

hey guys. as you know, i’ve been on the search for the most awesome guy ever in the whole wide world. and i’m glad to say, i’ve finally found him. ladies and gentlemen,

aaron.

that is all. peace.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6358

These two are simply the cutest couple EVER! Immensely fun, relaxed, and beautifully photogenic. I’ve got 31 photos in this post because I couldn’t narrow them down. They were just so easy to shoot. I’ll introduce them then let my photos do the rest of the talking.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-5976

Meet Maggie. She’s originally from China but settled down in Australia a number of years ago.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6025

This is Gavin. He’s from Australia and the family have lived most of their life in Toowoomba. The chose the University of Southern Queensland Japanese Gardens as the venue for their wedding as it reflects Toowoomba as a cultural mixing pot. It was a beautiful day for a wedding so even though it was the middle of winter, the weather was as best as we could have ever hoped for so we were very blessed from that point of view.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-5765

The day started early for the not-stressed-at-all-bride as she had her hair done early in the morning at StudioGlow in Medici with enough time to head back home for a rest before we met up with her again to get her make-up done.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-5860

After that, we headed over to the bride and grooms house taking photos of the gown, suits, as well as some other important accessories.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6057

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-5998

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6075

Fastforwarding >>> I got some beautiful portraits of the bride before I jumped off into my car and zoomed off to the venue. At this point we were already behind schedule…

Not late though.

Precisely fashionably late.

When I got to the venue I knew I wouldn’t have more than a couple of minutes before they were to arrive even though I instructed the driver to go SLOOOOOOW.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6092

True enough, she arrived not long after I briefed Brandon on the situation. Brandon was my assistant for the day who wanted to get some experience in shooting weddings.He did a fantastic job!

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6128

Here’s Maggie being escorted by her father who flew in from China together with her mum. Her presence was like a breath of fresh air and you could see the Gavin light up as she prepared to walk down the aisle.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6173

As you can see it really was a beautiful day. Small ceremony and surrounded by loved ones with the exception of the many visitors to the Gardens who sat down and quietly spectated the ceremony.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6168

This is the wedding celebrant, Bronwen Rolfe. She had only recently received her license and this was her first wedding ceremony so she was pretty nervous/anxious too. She did a great job though and I’m sure the bride and groom were very appreciative of her efforts.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6194

The exchange of vows were so beautifully heartwarming that it put a tear in almost everyone’s eyes. Gavin started it first and then it just spread like wildfire from there.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6211

As the couple swapped rings the moment that everyone had been waiting for had finally arrived. The celebrant, Bronwen Rolfe, announced the couple husband and wife. You know the line:

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6219

As I was shooting the kiss, I couldn’t help but notice Gavin’s parents’ faces fill with emotions so I quickly recomposed my shot and snapped away. That’s how you tell a good photographer from a great photographer. A great photographer keeps both eyes open while shooting so he/she can scan the area around frame to watch out for distractions or better compositions (shameless self-praise, haha!)

Mum:

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6201

Dad:

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6202

Perhaps this is a good time to mention that Gavin is the first of their kids to tie the knot so I couldn’t imagine the emotions they were feeling at this point in time…and YES, these DO look good in B&W!

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6277

 

After the signing of the register, they poured champagne, mingled with the guests, threw the bouquet, and took the family portraits. I could go on and never end finish writing this post or I could FASTFORWARD>>> once again to the part I love most – the portrait session! This is where I really get in my zone and let my creativity run wild!

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6368

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6441

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6474

This is like my trademark shot. I love the reflection! Nobody else I know shoots this angle yet and I loooove the results!

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6505

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-176

Wow, I wasn’t kidding when I said “portrait” session, eh? I never noticed before…I’m sure I do have some shots in landscape orientation but I guess all my personal faves just happened to be in portrait. Anyway, next was the dinner reception. They came in from the back entrance and were greeted by the guests.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6541

You can see Gavin’s super happy sister, Natalie, as they made their entrance into the room.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6550

The dinner reception was held at Veraisons and it was very cozy. The top half of the room was painted black which my flashes did NOT like but I made do.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6578

The food was great as well as the service. Rebecca, the owner’s wife looked after us Andrew himself had a skiing injury and was not able to serve us that night. Get well soon, Andrew!

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6661

There was a  touching speech by Gavin’s father to which everyone raised their glasses. I raised my glass too…my glass lens that is!

While everyone was mingling, I managed to steal the newlyweds for a couple of moments and get some fun impromptu shots so I thought I’d share:

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6639

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6616

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau-6635

Thats about it. I hope that you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed making them.

Special credit goes out to my good friend, Brandon, who agreed to be my second shooter. He assisted me in everything from covering shots that I couldn’t get, helping me out with holding my light stands, and shooting the couple’s genuine expressions while they were preoccupied with me directing and posing them. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to include his shots here but credit given where credit is due, I will definitely be putting up another blog post with the prequel to this wedding ceremony as well as to showcase some of his shots.

A big thank you again to Gavin and Maggie who put their trust in me to capture their most special day. They were very accommodating, very hospitable, and their entire family and friends were very easy to work with. It was an honour to be your weddding photographer and I do hope that you thoroughly enjoy the results.

God bless.

photoshoot_By_Jiaren_Lau