its a bloomin joy!

May 8, 2011

purple

I have to confess that I just love doing macro plant and floral portraits. Just getting low enough in search for those tiny, hidden treasures is such a buzz with all the fascinating patterns with stems and leaves. What's more of a surprise is the small, winged visitors that may appear in view of my lens whilst on their feeding frenzy; or perhaps its the multi legged critter that is happily resting in his home. From a standing point all these could be missed! Foremost, I am drawn to the health and the colours of the plant in the way Mother Nature's manages to harmonise these hues.

 Its quite often that I get asked which set-up I use for my floral macro photography, so here's a little overview and starting with the light: early in the morning brings dew on the leaves and when the bugs are quite sluggish (not unlike us in the morning) as they awaken slowly with the morning's warmth. Early evenings on a clear day can also give interesting light with the sun's backlight leaving overlapping patterns in the petals and leaves. My preferred lighting conditions is on an overcast day with no wind, where the sun is doing its best to break through the clouds; on a day like this I would visit a garden as the soft light will give even light throughout, unlike the harsh contrast that bright sunlight will produce. The important tools of the trade would have to be my tripod with its ball head mount, to be able to move the camera freely into a portrait or landscape orientation. Another must tool is a cable release by attaching it to the camera to help prevent any possible shutter movement.  I use my 100 mm macro lens most of the time for close-ups and I switch it to manual focus when the camera is placed on its tripod. This gives me control of the main focus area of my subject. For an interesting effect, I change the focus setting in the camera's functions to spot focus; this will darken the background to allow my subject to remain in the spotlight. Composition can be a challenge sometimes when there are a group of flowers, as I may want to blend out  particular background colours and shapes to allow a single flower to be my main point of focus (like the main picture). I manage this by adjusting my aperture setting (depth of field) on my camera to a large focus (F stop) setting. In my camera bag I also carry a small, white piece of cardboard to times when I would like to reflex some light back onto the subject.

...for more floral pictures

brunswick heads

May 2, 2011

brunswickheads

As I write this post, I am feeling a little over whelmed at my sudden realisation that it was 20 years ago now when I lived in Brunswick Heads for a little over a year. Last March, I had visited dear friends at this small coastal town on the far north coast of New South Wales. Bruns (its nickname) had shown me just how unspoilt this place still remains, but with a cut above from my old residing days with the towns expansion of quality eating places. Cafés offer their gluten-free foods and wholesome vegetarian dishes. There is an authentic Indonesian and Malaysian restaurant, and terrific seafood take-away where the worker has a bit of jive to the dance music  whilst preparing your meal...it is such a happy place!  I could have spent a week here just trying out all the foodie places with its extensive alfresco dinning, as all eateries look out at the mouth of the Brunswick River.

The Saturday of my visit had brought us a dim grey sky, but this hadn't stopped us from taking an early morning stroll down to the white washed beach that was occupied with surfers. Behind us sat the backdrop of Mt Chincogan and Mt Warning for a moody landscape picture; I had reluctantly left my tripod in the car so to be social with my current company. Next was our visit to the monthly market and the Bruns market displayed an environmentally and healthy ambience with its smorgasbord of local crafts and produce: recycled children's' toys and clothing; tropical smoothie and fruit juices which was perfect for our semi tropical day; salted and natural macadamias that are a product of this region.

The popular holiday destination of Byron Bay is only a 15 min drive away, but Brunswick Heads seems to have retained its seaside atmosphere with its fish market and a timber bridge that allows the public to commute from the river to the surf.

At 12 o'clock I set off from Brunswick Heads in time to arrive at my Queensland destination for 12 o'clock.There is no daylight savings in Queensland. My drive through this subtropical, hilly landscape was simply a stunning one, and I felt so lucky that  time just happened to stand still!

You may also like to look at the banana and macadamia recipe. Macadamias are a product of this region.

...for more pictures.

mandy's first blossom

April 16, 2011

mandy

You may recall my previous blog post about my winning picture in the Pfalz tourism competition, where I had won my very own 2-year-old sweet almond tree as part of the spoils. Mandy (I have chosen this name, as in German almond is translated to Mandel) was planted last autumn on top of a hill that overlooks the quaint town of Birkweiler, and she had done so with quite an audience! In the attendance of her inauguration was: her carer Klaus, the Major of Birkweiler, Nina the marketing whiz who had a hand in choosing my picture, Karl-Heinz a wine-maker from Dr Wehrheim wines, and Sophie the lovely wine princess of the Birkweiler/Siebeldingen region. Since the 30s in the Palatine- Pfalz wine region, a wine princess is elected and crowned yearly, to promote the local wineries through her welcoming speeches at festivals and wine tastings, and in doing so she is required to have knowledge from about the vine to the wine.

...for more story and pictures

life's a beach!

April 10, 2011

lifesabeach

 

If you take the country train from central Sydney and head north for 82 km, this will bring you to Woy Woy in New South Wales. Here, you will instantly feel as though you have arrived at a holiday destination. This 75-minute scenic train journey will provide you with some natural eye candy along its way, as the track crosses over the Hawkesbury River Bridge then journeys through the Brisbane Waters National Park.

Apart from me wanting to see my family when I first arrive to the area, the next thing on my agenda is get down to the local beach so that I can kick off my shoes for a barefoot stroll along the sand. This is great to exfoliate my wintery looking feet, as sand is a real luxury now that I am living in central Europe. My next treat is for me to get down to the local fishmonger for a paper wrapped serving of "fish n chips," and to pick up some fresh seafood to prepare a linguine dish that I've earlier seen in a summer issue of a Donna Hay Magazine; an Australian mag that is renown for fresh and simple recipes ”which brings me to the supermarket to pick up some ingredients where I see an abundance display of fresh coriander and limes.

There's a lay back atmosphere with the staff in the cafés, and they are either calling me love or honey and are fond to have a chat. It actually takes me a couple of days to get used to the openness of the Central Coast people and hearing their Aussie jargon once again. I sit at the table sipping at my fruit smoothie and skimming through a local tourist guide then I glance out to the water...”life here is a definitely a beach!

You may also like to take a look at the Linguine recipe.

...for beach pictures.

April 9, 2011

magnolia_1

 

I love early spring in our neighbourhood when the magnolia trees are in full bloom. As you can see here, I have taken the opportunity to use my macro lens on the magnolia's delicate features as soon their pastel petals will form a blanket on the ground.

magnolia2magnolia3

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