Archive for the ‘Photography Destinations’ Category

About a month ago, we headed off to Sydney for the Hillsong Conference. Altogether there were about 20 of us which was pretty cool…unfortunately, we didn’t all travel together (nor did we all stay together). I headed a group of 11, nine of which were gonna fly to and from Brisbane together, while one of them took the flight before and the other came from Singapore! Here’s our group of 9 after we disembarked from the plane:

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Okay, that creepy non-Asian white guy in the back is a advert poster…Will isn’t in the shot coz we were on the horizontal escalator where as he wasn’t…of course I was behind the camera…
After countless hours (yes, literally HOURS) or arguing which would be the best transport to get to our accommodation we finally decided on a big shuttle bus which brought us on a 40 minute drive to Parramatta, which is located to the West of Sydney. We happily unpacked our bags and was out the door! We took the train down to the city where we were just in time for dinner before heading toward the Harbour to meet up with Christoph.

Meet Christoph:

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Christoph was our housemate back in Toowoomba for a year. He’s currently somewhere between Thailand and Singapore on his holiday before heading back to Germany where he comes from. He moved out by this time and happened to be in Sydney that night so we planned to meet up…being Asians, we had to take a lot of group pics…

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How many people can you spot? One of us had relatives in Sydney so he didn’t join us…thats why there’s only 10 ppl. *EDIT* Actually theres less coz I cropped Edna out of the frame…Sorry Edna! I didn’t have my tripod and so I had to improvise…this next shot is heavily cropped so the lamp post I used wouldn’t get in the picture of the Eye of Sydney.

I think its funny how every major city now has an “Eye”…

We walked along the harbour past the Sydney Aquarium and other attractions which were almost closing as it was rather late by this time…We checked the schedule for the ferry and saw that we would be able to make the last one so while we waited for the ferry we walked back to the Sydney Aquarium where they had a nice backlit billboard of Spongebob Squarepants. I noticed it on the way to the ferry and went back for one purpose and one purpose only: to get this shot:

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That’s my friend Patrick (which also happens to be from Miri). This picture is titled, “Patrick & Patrick”.

Anyway, we then headed to a place called the Rocks to have some sort of famous pancake. Indeed it was a pancake house franchise which had been sort of springing up all over the place. We went in for dessert. Now, let me make it clear that I do NOT take pictures of the food I eat…its sooooooooooooooooooooo cliche doncha think? …but they insisted so I took a happy snap of my chocolate strawberry pancake…YUM!

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Hmm…I’m really sorry but my timeline of the events that occured after this pitstop seems to have screwed itself up in my brain so I can’t remember what we did when we did…All I remember is that along the… (this crossed out paragraph corresponds to the “Patrick & Patrick” picture and the paragraph above it…)

Although I took a bunch of pics after that I’m not going to share anymore simply because I still have a lot to cover…by the way, the current time now is exactly 5.13am. I don’t plan to sleep and I want to finish by dawn-ish so we can go to the Sunday Market before church Who’s “we” you ask? That’s me and Steph…I’m not sleeping tonight because I slept this arvo…what’s “arvo” you ask? its Aussie for “afternoon”. What’s “Aussie”? It’s short for “Australia”. What’s “Australia” you ask? A big island surrounded with water which has a severe water problem. Go figure.

Fast forward through the night and early the next morning…

Yours truly together with his team of intrepid explorers, Patrick and Stephanie, went to pit their strength against the wrath of the mighty Blue Mountains.

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The Blue Mountains is one of Australia’s biggest tourist destination. It is a collection of mountains that expand across the landscape that when looked at appear to be blue in colour. Its blue haze is of a different hue and deeper than anywhere else in the world. This is caused primarily by Eucalyptus trees emitting oil vapour into the atmosphere which along with fine dust particles and droplets of water vapour scatter the blue light (blue light is short wave light) more than any other colour in the spectrum. (That last sentence was taken from the guide book. If you’re interested, look for it on wikipedia.)

Also the home to the Three Sisters, a natural rock formation which is sort of difficult to explain so I’ll show you a picture:

You can see the Blue Mountains in the background. I’ve already warmed up the tones to make the Three Sisters more prominent in the frame of this picture and even so the mountains appear so blue so you can imagine how blue it actually was!

We took the ExplorerBus to Scenic World, home to the steepest railway which has a maximum gradient of 52 degrees!  It feels like its almost 90 degrees!

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See how the trees are straight? If I left my bag on the empty seat im front it would’ve ended up right at the front! When we got to the bottom Partrick helped me take a picture of me and Steph and the three sisters…thx Pat!

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We continued by foot through the forest to the bottom where we would take one cablecar up to the main platform and another back to the place the bus dropped us. We managed to sneek in a strobist shot while walking through the forest. After a few attempts we got it right…credit to Steph for taking the picture and Patrick for holding the flash:

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Heres Steph in the cable car enjoying herself on one of the cablecar rides:

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Oh, by the way, this is our ExplorerBus…the hop-on hop-off tour bus we used to get between places…the bus driver was kind enough to let us take a picture before he zoomed off to the next stop:

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The driver was very friendly. There are actually two busses but this one seemed to always be the next one up! We walked through the cold forest to Leura Cascades. Its a beautiful stream of water falling all the way to the bottom. Be warned that I LOVE LOVE LOOOOOOOVVVEEE waterfalls. If I see a waterfall I MUST take a picture of it…that means I have to take out my ND filters and spend a good 15 minutes taking the fall from almost every conceivable angle. These are my three favourite shots:

How convenient the series is actually in order of how I shot them and its going from top down so you can actually sort of visualize the waterfall as it slowly cascades down to the bottom where you can see the pool in the last pic…

After this we continued our jungle trek for another hour or so until we finally reached the end and waited for the bus to pick us up. These were the last few shots I took during the day because I was too tired by the time we were out of the forest.

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A view from one of the many many lookout points.

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Patrick at the bus pick up point to head back to the main town.

The rest of the group actually asked us to go back to the Sydney CBD after our trip to the Blue Mountains but we were just too tired to bother…otherwise we could have met up with Rachel who lives there… By the time we got back to the accommodation (which is 2hr + away from the Blue Mountains) it was about 9pm and I couldn’t wait to sleep!

Fast forward through the night and early the next morning…

Today we had big plans. Places to go, things to see, and stuff to do…unfortunately, we were late.

…sooooooooooooooooo we ended up going to see the Sydney Opera House and then went to some small town for lunch before we did some other things which I can’t remember…crap this is the second time in this post! Well, that doesn’t matter because I only want to share my pics of the Opera House and ask you a question.

This is a rather famous bridge. The Sydney Harbour Bridge. Now for the question. Which of the following two photos do you think is better? They are both the same picture just differently cropped.

Personally, I like the second one. That’s all I got. The day after this was the conference so I’ll get working on it right away! Til then, thanks for reading!


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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…

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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!

On Chinese New Year Eve my family and I went on a road trip to Marken, North Holland. Its a little plot of land surrounded by water and is almost an island if it wasnt for the piece of land that stretches all the way out to the mainland which is how motor vehicles access the place.

As asians we always have to make numerous pit stops before we reach our destination. These are some of the shots that were taken along the way…

Mum!

Mummy obviously enjoying herself…

This is really one of the best places to put in a windmill…its SUPER windy!

On the left is the road, right is the bicycle path.

When we finally arrived we were greeted with beautiful seascapes, vintage houses and some very cozy restaurant/cafes…

Of course no dutch tourist spot is complete without a bar serving its legendary beer!

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As you can imagine it didn’t take us very long to get lost…

This is cool! Jiaxen noticed this dude riding on a bike and so I quickly burst off a few shots in his direction…This is the only one I could salvage. What was so interesting you might ask? …he’s wearing CLOGS! -you know, those wooden shoes! They actually still wear them! (thats why the watermark had to be moved away from blocking it).

I noticed these clothes hanging outside one of the houses. I think this adequately represents their lifestyle and culture. Also, it was a B&W scene just asking to be taken…

I think I’m getting better at seeing things in black and white…Before I would never “see” the world in B&W but I’m slowly noticing some things which is wonderful! I have a great appreciation for black and white photographers because its one of the two main areas of photography that I feel I could really push the envelope with if I just practice a little more – the other one is portraiture.

Mummy and the lil guy! …in front of a green house!

As you can clearly see we had to ZIP UP coz its was freezing! …so we decided to go to a nearby cafe to warm up and eat some POFFERTJES!!! Poffertjes (pronounced [pɔfəɹcəs]) is a dutch pancake thats delicious! Unfortunately I’m not one of those who like to take pictures of my food…perhaps I should start? I did however take a portrait of my mum…

Mummy enjoying her coffee…

My favourite shot of the day is below…just before we went into the cafe we headed out to the coastline where the wind is strongest! I used a Hitech 0.6 soft edge graduated neutral density filter to get this shot…Should’ve used the Tian Ya 0.9 one but was too lazy once I zipped up my bag.

Here it is:

I went with the square framing not because I liked it but because of the cars on the upper left hand side which distracted from the composition. Thats the annoying thing about ultra wide angle lenses!

After that we headed home because we had a Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner that we had to attend…I took just two group shots of the two tables which are below. (Sorry I can’t remember all the names so I just didn’t bother)

women and childrens table

women and childrens table.

Mens table

Men’s table. I was on this table. I’m a man. – true story