Archive for the ‘Photography Destinations’ Category


Oh yes. 9 stops!

“Whats that mean?”

It means that it has an attenuation factor of 400!


…it means it only lets 0.5% of light through it!!!

still nothing?!?!?!

…it means that a picture that you normally take at a shutter speed of 1/400 now needs 1 second to expose correctly!!!

***hears birds squaking noises***

…it means that you can take a 15 second shot in the middle of the day! Thats about as practical as I can explain it. I guess its good that this is a photoblog because a picture says a 1000 words, right?

Ok, right off the top I’m going to admit that that first pic isn’t Queen Mary Falls. Its actually Brown Falls but I have a very good explanation for that. Also, if you’ve been following my blog for some time then you’ll know that this isn’t the first time I’ve been here. I blogged about it and you can read all about it by clicking HERE.

This time however was a little different. Instead of a measly eight this time we had over 30 people join!!! Thats 6 vehicles  full! I was supposed to be leading everyone (because I was the most familiar with the location) but I was so  eager to try out the filter that soon wound up right at the end of the line. No worries.

First stop: Queen Mary Falls.


A quick hike from the picnic spot opposite the Caravan Park and we were at the viewing platform. We’ve had heavy rain for the past 3 weeks or so so the fall was intense. Here’s the kicker. The best view is from below. Unfortunately, a boulder had fallen and it had been deemed too risky to allow people to go down so I wasn’t able to get a picture from there. After a good amount of picture taking we headed back to the picnic spot via an alternate route which had a collection of streams which were too beautiful not to photograph.


This stream might look peaceful but that horizon where the water stops is the Queen Mary Falls drop! In the picture of Queen Mary Falls, this stream leads to the edge of the section closest to the camera!

Turn a good 180 degrees and you’re greeted with this:


OK, heres the problem with the ND400 filter. Technically, its the same as having really dark sunglasses. REALLY  dark sunglasses. REALLY REALLY DARK SUNGLASSES. (sorry, caps lock turrets acting up gain) So dark that its almost impossible to see through…this is where the limitations kick in. In order to utilise the filter successfully you’re supposed to

1) compose you photo

2) put the filter on

3) take the shot

4) remove filter

5) repeat step 1.

Being myself I got tired of this after about the first shot… so I just left it on and made an educated guess as to the best probable angle. Granted these won’t be the best shots…in all honesty, I’m quite dissapointed with the overall results…but when I want to go on a proper photo  outing, I’ll be going in a small group so I can take my time to compose and adjust.



Here are some of the people that came along.

After we got back to the picnic spot we had lunch before heading off to see the birds. My friend, Min, in all his wisdom bought enough bird seeds to feed a small country to pass out rather than letting us buy them from the shop for $1/bag.


The birds will land on your hand/shoulders/head for you to feed them. Its great fun and everyone enjoyed it. I’ve posted some of the shots from the past visit which you can view by clicking HERE. I’ve been assigned to post the ones from this trip on the ANS Facebook page so I’m not going to bother having duplicates here.


After the novelty wore off we headed up to Carrs Lookout, a nice little spot with a gorgeous view. Here is where the filter really shone! You can blur water with a small aperture. You can blur water in broad daylight with a Cokin P filter. But only with something like an 9-stop ND400 filter can you actually blur clouds!


This following picture was taken with the ND400 filter + Tiffen 0.6 soft Graduated ND + Sigma 10-20mm at the wide end. Exposure time: 30 seconds in the middle of the day. Screw all the photoshop vignettes out there this is what real vignetting looks like:


Beautiful day, nice breeze, green grass and a heard of cows lazing under a tree in the distance.


After this we headed off to an unofficial border between Queensland and New South Wales before heading down to Brown Falls. We skipped Daggs falls because we were behind schedule.

This is Brown Falls:


This next shot literally caused me hours of grief. You see I wanted to get close into the rocks and shoot the fall from below. The wind blew all this water vapour into the lens. I had to clean the filter, put it back on the lens, take the shot, and get out of there with the filter all dirty again. I didn’t know this before but Hoya HMC filters are a pain to clean! I mean I spent hours trying to get all the crap off but there are still streak marks on it. I feel like sending it back and getting the non-coated B+W version.

…all for this lousy pic so I’m obligated to post it.


You can still see the vapour screwing up the top part of the picture. All in all a good day. Still need a dedicated day just for shooting but was fun none-the-less. Some guys had a dip in the fall, most didn’t. We headed back to the Toowoomba after an exhausting day and most of them didn’t go to church the next day.




Here is a photo of the entire group that joined.


I you came here looking for the photos of people that joined, follow this link to the gallery: Facebook Gallery

Lets have a bit of animal portraits for a change. Here are some of the friendly faces you may encounter at the Australia Zoo. Its located at Steve Irwin Way, Sunshine Coast, Queensland.


Its a beautiful place that started as family owned wildlife reserve that led to the birth of arguably the greatest Australian that ever lived – the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. Today, his legacy lives on in his wife and daughter, Terry and Bindi Irwin respectively. If you do get a chance, visit the place! Today I’ll be posting some animal portraits I took at the zoo. I promised I’d blog this otherwise I’m pretty psyched about another strobist photoshoot I did last Sunday. Actually, I did two shoots but the first one was for church and I wasn’t given much creative control. The latter I’m psyched about because I absolutely love shooting this style and am getting very comfortable with it. Also, I rarely get to shoot like this because I don’t have any models willing to pose for me 🙁 …but that all changed last Sunday when we had Jun’s farewell photoshoot. There were about +-8 people so I really had fun shooting some group photos which I rarely get to do. I’ve finished editing and the results are amazing! You have to see it! Stay tuned and let me get this out of the way first!


If you’ve been to my flickr page at any time recently these images will be nothing new. I already put them up quite a while ago I just haven’t gotten around to blogging about it…until now.

First, we ventured into the reptile pit where you can see and read about various types of Australian snakes, lizards, etc. This guy was in such a beautiful pose I couldn’t have posed it any better myself!

AustraliaZooByJiarenLau-6722Ooh, ooh! This next guy is my favourite! WOMBATS! I absolutely love love love wombats!!! They’re soooooooo cute! …and they look so funny when they do stuff…one of them was rubbings its butt against a tree trunk to scratch it I guess…another was trying to climb a tree and failed miserably. Anyway, Wombats are awesome!

AustraliaZooByJiarenLau-6902As most of these places do, they have performances and shows where they showcase the animals abilities. The difference is that this zoo doesn’t force their animals to do anything. Everything is done “hands-on” style which means the animal doesn’t do anything it doesn’t want to do. While the performances are rather boring compared to a lot of other places it really does show how much they care for the well-being and treatment of the animals at the zoo. For example, even this elephant which used to be a circus elephant has grown quite “manja” (malay word for suck up). In the end I went for a tight portrait of the behemoth.

AustraliaZooByJiarenLau-6783Of course theres the regular array of other widelife, some you can touch and others you can’t. Heres one you can:


Heres one you can’t:

AustraliaZooByJiarenLau-6746One cool thing you’ll notice is how the animals themselves love the place. They get daily walks and runs outside their cages in huge habitats so they stay fit and healthy and capable of surviving in the wild should they be released. Some of the birds aren’t even caged and are allowed to wonder around. Why? Because they ALWAYS come back.

AustraliaZooByJiarenLau-6851One more thing is you’ll find is these little lizard things crawling all over the place. They’re harmless but look a little intimidating nonetheless.

AustraliaZooByJiarenLau-6810You’ll notice I forgot the most important element of the Australia Zoo, home of the Crocodile Hunter – the crocodiles. The reason being is that during the show I was too far away and couldn’t crop tight enough. Okay I just went into my hard disk and pulled out a picture with a croc in it. Now we can end the post…happy?

AustraliaZooByJiarenLau-6857PS. I realize the pic is slightly out of focus but it the best action shot I could find!

If you enjoyed the post please please please leave a comment! I thrive on them! …and it really makes my day when you do! Cheers and God bless!

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.


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!


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!