Archive for the ‘Outings’ Category

On the 22nd of August, 2009 – my family made a holiday trip to Australia. They arrived in Queensland for a couple of days before travelling to Sydney in New South Wales, Melbourne in Victoria, and back to Brisbane in Queensland respectively.

Before I get ahead of myself let me introduce you to the family.

TheLauFamilyOk, Genius…so Linzhi wasn’t there with the rest of us…shes busy finishing her dissertation…but for the sake of the introduction lets just assume she was there.

Far Left is my dad, the big man, the boss, Mr. Lau Nai Kwong…2nd is the lil guy, the cutest boy genius aka the “uleee”/ooh-man, its Mr. Jiaxen Lau. The “subtle” copy/paste job is my “can’t live with her/can’t live without her” sister, Linzhi. She came to visit me earlier this month and I’ll get around to blogging that soon…in the meantime last but not least is the perfectionist, the financial accountant of the family, the Queen Bee – Mrs. Khoo Khau Tze.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way lets get on with it shall we…

We headed off to Stradbroke Island to let them experience first hand the scenery that Australia has to offer…

On the way there we took the Calypso Catamaran ferry to take us to the island itself. My lil bro really enjoyed the wind blowing on his face…

TheLauFamily-6527We took the North Gorge bushwalk along the coast of the island where my parents especially enjoyed the fresh air…

TheLauFamily-6540See how touristy my dad looks? Cap. check. trainers. check. shorts. check.  sunglasses. check. camera around neck. check. T-shirt with more than one colour. check. Yup! Tourists alright! The funniest part is I told him that Toowoomba is pretty cold even though Australia was beginning to warm up so he didn’t bother bringing any shorts! The one in the picture was the only pair which he bought a couple of hours earlier at a shopping mall on the way to the ferry port.

A good 10 minutes walk and we arrived at a “Footpath Closed” sign. We backtracked and took the other entrance to the bushwalk (its a circuit) and 20 minutes later we arrived at the best lookout on the island. Here you can see sting rays swimming below as well as dolphins, turtles, and if you’re lucky – whales! They particularly enjoyed the sound of the waves hitting the rocks below.

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TheLauFamily-6567There were also some friends sitting at the edge of a cliff that I thought would make a nice B&W.

TheLauFamily-6561As I had already been there before, I didn’t take that many photos. Pop made me hold his cam so I was using that instead. Good coz I can make the post a little shorter :)

We stayed til sunset before taking the ferry back to the mainland. I love sunset!

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TheLauFamily-6587We sure had a good time! The following days we went to Warner Bros Movie World and the Wet ‘n’ Wild Water theme park! My old timers went to Movie World but not the waterpark…

TheLauFamily-6706This was an interesting roller coaster…it accelerates like a drag race car from the start even going uphill! Very different from your usual coasters. My fave was the Lethal Weapon one though but I was too busy enjoying myself to take pics! For obvious reasons I didn’t bring my camera to the waterpark so we’ll end it here.

This next pic is especially for my sister, Linzhi. Pop wanted to show her how long he’d grown his beard before he’d have to shave it off for my graduation…(oh yeah, the reason they came was for my graduation which took place after they got back from their “around-the-east-coast-of-australia” trip. In their absence Steph’s mum and cousin came and we brought them to the Australia Zoo at the Sunshine Coast! Check it out when I blog about it next!

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Last Saturday…well, last LAST Saturday was the 2nd annual Worldwide Photo Walk. We didn’t know about the first one…Although I have a bunch of photos from Sydney, blue mountains, Hillsong and all that I’ll talk about this walk first simply because I’ve finished with photos…the only reason I’m finished with them is I had to make my submissions by Saturday midnight. Even so, I was actually late and submitted my entries on Sunday morning.

You know the great thing? ..because Australian time is so far ahead I could submit it late and still have it counted because the deadline is a US time zone…

If you don’t already know what a photowalk is let me explain:

All over the world people sign up and create little groups with a max capacity of 50 people. On Saturday, 18th July 2009, all those people met up at a designated time and place. Since I was in Toowoomba, one of the Toowoomba flickr group members started a toowoomba walk and so I decided to join! We’ve (some of the photographers in Toowoomba) been meaning to do this for some time but its difficult to take initiative if you know what I mean…especially since we didn’t know one another personally. This was a wonderful opportunity to meet up with local photographers and break the ice with them. In retrospect, I’m sure we’ll be able to organize regular “Toowoomba Photo walks” or something similiar…ask the creative team to come up with something catchy!

If you wanna know more about the worldwide photowalk, click HERE. Perhaps you can organize one for next year! Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, lets talk photography!

The main meetup was scheduled for 9.30am – 12 noon. However, our leader told us that there would be a dawn shoot for anyone interested. I WAS interested. Only problem is I’ve been sleeping very irregular patterns since I’ve finished uni…(OH YEAH, BTW, I’VE GRADUATED!!! I FINISHED UNI!!! NOW I’M…I’m…un…em..ployed…! D’oh!) Whoops, digressing there…where was I…ah, so I wasn’t sleepy at midnight…I wasn’t sleepy at 1.30am…heck I wasn’t even sleepy at 3.45am! …so, logically I just didn’t bother to sleep! Took a shower at 5.30am and rushed to meet the rest of ‘em.

Being in the land down under, it was a cold winter day and being so, it was still dark, gloomy, and cold. Unfortunately, what wasn’t there was any mist/fog which we were hoping to capture. We met up at Queens Park and there were four of us. I went to get my tripod and realised that I’d left my quick release plate at home! D’oh! Oh well, it didn’t matter though ‘coz there wasn’t anything nice to take. Luckily, Greg, our walk leader got a call from another shooter who was at a mountain cliff shooting first light. We scrambled back to the cars and headed for his spot.

Now there were 5 of us.

WOOT!

We got there and the others got to talking…I saw a beautiful sunrise and couldn’t NOT take it!

After that we stood there chatting around before we went onto explore the surroundings…

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So off we went to shoot some other stuff…this is what I took:

Keep exercising

Go Green!

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Then, we decided to hang around and chat some more…

We’re pretty good at that.

Now that we were done with that, the sun was out and we headed back to the park for some more photo opportunities. Now theres one thing that puzzles me…one thing that I cannot seem to able to capture. You know when you in a forest with trees all around? You face towards the sun and the light rays come streaming through the trees? I love it when that happens but I’ve never been able to actually capture it. I don’t know why? I’ve tried, believe me I’ve tried…if you know how do teach! There was some light haze (probably something burning) and it was all around…smelt like crap though but pretty to behold. I tried and tried but couldn’t seem to capture anything! ARRGH!!!

So I did what all great photographers do: I quit.

I went to shoot stuff I DID know how to shoot…

A Winter Morning

Windmills

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Running Water

Ok, it was now around 8.09:22am (taken from EXIF info) so we decided to warm up and have some breakfast…I tried for the first time an egg benedict with bacon. It was delicious! …nope I wasn’t gonna be Asian and whip out my camera to take a picture of it…although presentation was pretty decent.

9.20 ish in the AM and its time to head to the rendezvous point which was the war memorial next to Queens Park. We waited and finally decided to get a move on. By now we had 8 photographers! yeah!

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One of the churches in Toowoomba

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An interesting view of the Empire Theatre

Another interesting perspective of the Ticket counter at the Empire Theatre

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Free Masons Masonic Hall

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This is a list of all the soldiers from Toowoomba that gave their life in WWI. One of the photographers had a contact which let us go into the RSL (Retired Services League) building to tour the place.

After our visit to the RSL, we headed off the main road and buildings into some small back alleys…

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Okay, this is a little weird? abstract art in a back alley?

Simple building, Simple geometry

Lonely alley

One of the last things we past during the walk was a walk that was full of graffiti. I took a couple of shots because I liked the colour but it was only when I came to the end of the wall was there a small car park and it took a couple of shots to get it how I wanted it to look.

After a little cropping the frame looks evenly split into thirds and it looks like the graffiti Indian is coming out of the car! haha!

…and thats about it for the day! We had a blast! No group pic…its with Greg in his medium format 120 fuji camera so I guess we’ll have to wait. You can view some of the other photogs pics at the Toowoomba Flickr Group. Alternatively, check out http://worldwidephotowalk.com/toowoomba-ql-au/ to see some of the entries from our walk.

My submissions for consideration were the first and 7th pic, “First Light” and “A Winters Morning“.

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For those of you who don’t know, Urqhart Castle is situated along Loch Ness, the famous lake which is home to the Loch Ness Monster.

Linzhi and I went to 1 tourist destination while I was in Scotland…as you can imagine, we went to see the Loch Ness. Unfortunately, it was pretty cold that day and Nessie didn’t make an appearance. However, we made the most of it and got some good shots throughout the day.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Linzhi is better than me at portraits.

Its annoying…but its true…take a look at the shots below (by the way, these following shots are straight from camera only threw in the border):

I was trying to re-enact the Nicholas Cage pose in National Treasure. Credit to Linzhi for taking the photo.

Of course, it could simply be the striking self pose made by yours truly…or more likely the camera recognized that it was in the presence of pure awesomeness. In any case, its a lot better than mine which is below:

Then again, Linzhi didn’t go all the way to the top where the composition is at its most awesome perspective. Yeah, I guess I could argue until the cows come home but at the end of the day the result shows.

Dissapointed?

yes.

Sorry?

no.

Why?

…because there are other areas where I ooze awesomeness and Linzhi is hopeless…behold Linzhi’s attempt to take a picture of me jumping in mid-air (once again straight from camera):

Epic fail. If I took more photos at the spot above I’d have made at least one nice one as well!

I, on the other hand took a single shot:

Behold, awesomeness requires no post processing whatsoever!

Ok, enough about that, we’ll leave our sibling rivalry to another post (and by the way I’m on the path the pure awesome portraiture! What’s with me and awesomeness today?! …must be craving my unwatched How I Met Your Mother episodes…which by the way if you readers have yet to see please start. Its LEGENDARY!

Ok, moving onto the purpose of this post – Loch Ness.

Behold Urqhart Castle. Once a marvellous inpenetrable stronghold, now a ruin of torn down stones and rubble.

It does however overlook the Loch Ness. The lake by the way, is huge! Its like a small ocean because it just spans til forever…it goes all the way to North England…back in the day the Engligh and Scots were enemies…and so the English regularly came up the river to attack the Scots via the lake.

The Castle itself was beautiful. Actually the post although it says Loch Ness and Urqhart Castle is more about me and Linzhi taking pictures of whatever!

This is Linzhi’s proud as heck shot using the wide angle lens after my lecture on how difficult it is to compose a shot at 10mm (15mm Full Frame equiv.)

An old school slingshot that was used to defend the castle.

After much ado, Linzhi finally nailed a shot of me in mid air!

Linzhi shadow play.

Space Conscious Stairs.

Oh, this next pic is cool…as we were exploring the castle I saw a teeny tiny hole in the wall…it looked like this:

Pinhole photography? READ THE POST TO FIND OUT!

So, I slapped on my wide angle lens and poked it out of the hole at the side of the castle risking scratching the lens. I took another shot and what came out amazed me. I threw on the Cokin P 0.6 soft edge Grad ND filter and took a couple of shots to get the composition I wanted.

What resulted is a beautiful view of Loch Ness.

Behold, the Famous Loch Ness.

On our way out there was a rather interesting wall which had what I assume to be farewell in manu languages…my assumption is based on the “Selamat Jalan” that was written…

Selamat Jalan

We finished our little exploration day early and didn’t want to wait for the bus so we walked half an hour back to Drumnadochit Village…along the way we saw a sign with black and white arrow points. I told Linzhi to stick her head to the point so it looked as if it was pointing to her head! …as we were taking the picture a car drove by and the occupants must’ve been thinking what Asian weirdos we were…

It was so funny at the time we couldn’t stop laughing about it!