Mel Sinclair Photography: Blog http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog en-us (C) Mel Sinclair Photography mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) Thu, 11 Jan 2018 02:08:00 GMT Thu, 11 Jan 2018 02:08:00 GMT http://www.melsinclair.com.au/img/s/v-5/u554592120-o23952221-50.jpg Mel Sinclair Photography: Blog http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog 116 120 Bariloche: A day of contrasts http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/12/bariloche-a-day-of-contrasts

The one thing I love and both hate about photographs is their power to deceive the viewer about what they’re actually looking at. If I’m shooting a sunrise at a beach that you wouldn’t otherwise even throw a towel down onto, you’d never know from the photograph because as a landscape photographer, I don’t take photos of things I can’t make seem appealing.

Unfortunately, the same does also apply to those taking photos of their hotel or hostel. They need to show what it looks like inside, but the photos can lie, and they most definitely did for our hostel that we stayed in last night. You also can’t photograph a lingering smell, which is why I think we fell for this accommodation thinking that it was going to be OK.

We got off a 24-hour long bus ride around 8pm in Bariloche. The first 8 hour bus ride from El Chalten to Los Antiguos was bearable. They fed us vegetarian Empanadas, a juice popper and a small chocolate bar. We had one stop where we sought water and a toilet break, and other than that, it was all smooth driving throughout the night.

Changing buses at 7am was great fun, the late stragglers holding up the trip, but thankfully bev and I were up the front of the bus. We had nobody reclining seats into our faces and a clear view of the open road ahead of us.

We could see when the road surface was shit, the potholes or the long sections of unsealed road.

I found the whole experience somewhat unpleasant, I just couldn’t stand the claustrophobic feeling that I got each time I climbed back on the bus. The recycled air and the lack of places to move about to… I am thankful that I don’t have any more bus trips to do.

When  we arrived at Bariloche, we were relieved, finally after watching the bus drive through pretty much the Argentinian boondocks, we had arrived at our summerly-ski town. Our happiness was shortlived as we realised that our accommodation was halfway across town, up several hills and that we’d be lugging our bags up those same hills with us. We seemed invisible as taxi after taxi passed us by and left us trudging up hills exhaustedly. Finally one stopped and got us closer to our hostel.

We then waited outside the locked-front-door for close to half an hour while the owner returned from somewhere with a dog that looked pleased to be home.

Our accommodation, once we checked in, was less than what the photos had shown.

As I said earlier, smells don’t show in photos.

We had that ripe, fresh-paint smell, accompanied by bathroom-didn’t-drain-properly and owner-hasn’t-opened-the-windows-in-a-while scent.

The bathroom was dinky.

By this I mean, the shower was in the middle of the room, a curtain wrapped around it hopelessly, the curtain rail was plumbers pipe and didn’t really work and soaked your clothes if you had them anywhere in there with you. Giving up, we sought food closeby and then collapsed in bed.

At least the beds were comfortable.

~

In the morning, it was time to transfer to our hotel for my final week here in Argentina, something a bit more upmarket in Hosteria Del Lago. A short cab ride revealed a lake, alpine-styled ski village hostels, restaurants and it’s all just so stunning to look at. Large bunches of blooming roses are everywhere and it’s just so pretty.

What a day of contrasts. It’s been Bev’s birthday today so we took some time to go to the city, have some ice cream, some drinks and nibbles and then returned to our luxury (in comparison to our accom this morning) hotel. Had a swim, explored the shoreline.

Can’t wait to see more of this area over the coming days. Can’t wait to show you more of Bariloche!

It's summer here, so the roses are stunning! These ones are for you mum!

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2017 antarctica argentina bariloche blog melsinclair nikon phonephotos photography sony http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/12/bariloche-a-day-of-contrasts Sun, 24 Dec 2017 02:05:10 GMT
Standard Traveller : El Chalten http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/12/standard-traveller-el-chalten

^ FitzRoy mountains. So beautiful at sunset.

This is the kind of town where you can feel the lust for the mountains, the endless desire to get blissfully lost in what the national park has to offer. We cast aside our dependencies on the digital world and traipse into mother natures’ best creations as we explore the natural world. Existing way before any of our electronic inventions have, nature is that which remains relatively untouched by man and continues to thrive.

This is the kind of town where hiking and mountaineering is the currency and the most obvious thing to do. Weather aside, people will trek tens of kilometres to see relatively nothing; a mountain shrouded in cloud is still as valuable as seeing that mountain on a clear day. It is the effort, the willing to go that extra mile to see the clouded mountain that counts; a visit into the national park is a must-do and remains the main drawcard of El Chalten. The welcome sign says it all, welcome to the hiking town.

The melting pot of cultures culminates at the many brewpubs and restaurants around town, that the only suitable way to celebrate conquering a mountain is to drown your liver in the local drop, whether that be based on hops or grapes, the many Resto bars around is testament to the popularity of drinking here, beyond the rules of a standard pour.

^ A "Blooming Onion" as an entree. What is it: An onion, cut into sections so as to resemble a flower. It is coated in a spicy crumb and deep fried. What's it taste like: Raw onion with a weird deep fried crumb and chilli sauce that isn't spicy. It's like someone said "Onions are as cheap as potatoes, and they're versatile, let's see how much money we can get for this deep fried invention." It was a blooming waste of money.

There is no single happy hour, indeed all hours are happy, overflowing with incredibly cheap drinks and nibbling food that beggars a head scratch. Here, it is not a risk that you will get drunk; this is certain, rather the risk is that you will run out of cash, as the ATM also has as well. It becomes a quest to find a shop that accepts VISA, as you desperately want to buy something local to prove that you visited a town where the ATM runs out of cash, the tourist shops don’t have card facilities, and even your hostel wants you to hand over a wad of pesos in exchange for your 5-day long stay.

In a world where we’re advised not to travel with large pockets of cash, that indeed does not apply to El Chalten. Dubious looks from people are exchanged when I tell them that this tourist town mostly does not have card facilities, indeed it seems bizarre that this town would even shut down over winter, but alas it does.

When our feet are worn from the trails and when our hearts are full of the satisfaction of getting back to nature, many a traveller staggers back into town, eager to put points on their social noticeboards to say “I came here, I conquered a mountain, I need to tell the world, I am a legend.” And so by the droves they wander into the local hotels, bars, restaurants in search of the newest drug to hit the town: WiFi. It’s never been so obvious in a town like this. What is loud chatter and talk on the trails is silence and bowed heads in the cafes, bars and pubs. Many a meal is shared in silence, humans hooked up to their digital umbilical cords. Social engineering has turned one half part of hiking desire into the chance to earn a badge on your social slavery pages, a proof that you dealt without your device long enough to walk 5, 10, 50km to the tunes of nothing but birdsong, wind whistling through the trees and the sunlight colouring your skin to prove that you left the comforts of home. While I know I am not absolved of this guilt as well, just as keen to keep in touch with those at home, I am too beginning to wonder if our digital dependence is ruining travel. The idea of truly getting away from the reaches of home is becoming harder and harder to attain. Yet we all seem to accept that this is the norm now. True disconnection is visible in the lack of patrons in a certain shop, if there is no WiFi, guaranteed there are no zombies staring down at their electronic bricks. There may actually be conversation, intellectual debates and discussion between humans as it was meant to be.

When we have fed at the electronic trough like pigs, we once again switch off our devices, having gotten that fix that is enough to last another few hours. Back into the mountains we go, or back onto a bus to take us to the next place to again explore and repeat this endless cycle of dependency.

^ The allure of mountains, discovery and back-to-nature feelings. aww

The allure of travel is always there, I will always continue to want to go to new places, take more photographs and get some time apart from the busyness of home. But what I have vowed to do is spend less time looking down at my phone and instead taking in what is around me, before that becomes virtualised too.

Being here has taught me that while nature is alluring, we are threatening to override that with digital-social comforts, and it’s a bit too scary to see on the level that I’ve seen it so far. We are too afraid to be disconnected, isn’t that just a bit concerning?

Digital drugs aside, El Chalten is a beautiful town to visit for a few days. Take some time and go into the national parks, they’re unlike anything we have at home in Australia. There’s many things that are so different and so great to see. The mountains are spectacular, the weather is always going to throw interesting light at you, and although you may not get the conditions you hoped for, go out anyway.

^ Because Tent

 

 

 

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2017 antarctica argentina bars blog december landscape melsinclair nikon nisi observations photography travel travelblog travelling wifi http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/12/standard-traveller-el-chalten Thu, 21 Dec 2017 17:47:37 GMT
EL CALAFATE to EL CHALTEN http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/12/el-calafate-to-el-chalten When you land at El Calafate airport, you see, well, practically; nothing, except shrubs. All hail the mighty shrubs! A hodge-podge of assorted shrubs as far as the eye can see. Looking closer, there’s not much structural stuff around, it’s mostly just tumbleweed and the odd shrub that either blossoms or doesn’t. There’s several different varieties of these anonymous shrubs, but together they pretty up what is practically nothing in the way of geological or developmental signs of life.

^ An interesting "nothing"

We woke up in El Calafate, which was bizarre to think that it was the first night in ten that we didn’t wake on a boat rocking and crashing among the waves, sliding side to side in our bed. The funny part about this was that we had come to accept the motions as completely normal, and getting to sleep without the endless rocking and rolling was such a strange concept. The stranger part was that it had felt so long ago, but it was only that morning.

On arrival in the El Calafate man street, we knew we had limited time to organise a bus north to El Chalten, so it was the first order of business when we got into town. Once sorted, we found a cute bar, the LibreBar, or Library Bar, a wall full of books, shard-like glass panes overlooking the busy street. The food was pretty standard for a cute dive bar, rich homely stews and chunky potato sides. We sat people watching for hours until heading back to the hotel to mooch more wifi and get an early nights’ sleep.

^The Library Bar

^ A house with wine and beer bottles to form the fences. Every single wall.

Early this morning, after breakfast, we had limited time to see things before the bus came to take us to El Chalten, so we decided instead to go for a walk around the local area and check out the architecture and the peoples-way of life. What we found was a mix of traditional and modern architecture, sometimes both on the one property. Because it is now Spring-Summer, there are a multitude of flowers in bloom In peoples; homes, and they’re all so different and beautiful. We had several dogs follow us around the local streets. Some escaped yards to follow us on our walk. Some decided to bite each other, but were always friendly to us.

Strangely, there’s parts of Argentina that remind me of India, for the “not-bad but something is missing” feeling and it’s starting to blend into some sort of a educated-guessing experience, which isn’t entirely a bad thing all together. All the learnings from other countries are starting to make sense a little more without Google Translate. Where the language used to stump me a little, I’m starting to associate words with what I think they are in English, or Inglis, if you’re speaking in Spanish. Is there such a thing as Spanglish? Of course, after so much trouble with AirBnb here in Argentina we restorted back to Booking.com to take care of the accommodations last minute. Some have been pretty hit and miss. Just like our hostel here in El Chalten. It’s nice enough, it’s tiny, but you don’t come here to see the hotel.

Our bus ride here today was nothing entirely special to write about, more of the nothing scenery as far as the eye could see, separated by the occasional aquamarine lake and a few rusted-out wrecked-cars the odd poplar tree in full plumage.

It gets dark so late in the evening, even after 2 weeks I’m not used to the concept of sundown at 11pm, it’s 10pm before the light is beginning to fade enough to sleep. The English-Spanish language barrier is a bit of an issue as it’s obvious that there’s lots of local Spaniards staying in town at the moment. There’s some grandparents and kids at the hotel/hostel that we’ve got, and they just wouldn’t shut up. Google translating “Please be quiet I’m trying to sleep” and the less-polite “Shut the F*ck up I’m trying to sleep” resulted in several replays of the pronunciation in our room, but our hostel sharing children quietened down soon after this, so maybe it did work after all. It’s not nice to make noise late at night in a place where you share common areas, but I don’t think it’s something these residents have had to consider.

Our lazy afternoon was spent exploring town and having a few cheeky “Happy Hour” drinks at the establishment that have appeared since I was last here over two years ago.

Tomorrow is our first foray into the Parque Nacional (National Park) and to check out Laguna Capri.

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2017 america argentina blog calafate chalten el landscape melsinclair nikon photography pictures south travelblog http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/12/el-calafate-to-el-chalten Sun, 17 Dec 2017 01:53:52 GMT
ANTARCTIC EXPOSURE: A review http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/12/antarctic-exposure-a-review “Do you get sea sick?”

“I don’t think so, I’ve survived many boat trips before this one and never had a problem. I’ve got a strong gut, I’ll be right.”

But I was most definitely not ‘right.’

The Drake Passage dealt us some incredible sea-torture for a continuous trip of around 40 hours each way. What crosses the Drake Passage, must cross it again to come back.

Tuesday 5 December:

We wake in the gorgeous Arakur hotel with a grand view over Ushuaia from every single window that faces east. It’s got lofty high ceilings, big thick chunky twin bed frames that are just so snug and solid. Chocolates on our pillows and a bathtub that has a view over the rest of the room.

We’ve decided to spend the morning in the pool, spa and sauna instead of going downtown (again) for yet another leisurely stoll. Things here have so much markup on them, it just wasn’t economical to buy much from the local area unless you really needed something.

We’re delayed by a day due to the 8 metre-tall waves in the Drake Passage and end up spending a night in the Ushuaia harbour, awaiting a better crossing report. By this time, most of us are pretty tired of seeing Ushuaia as we’ve either done our own exploration or have no desire to buy overpriced clothing and souvenirs.

Wednesday 6 December:

We’ve unpacked our bags for 10 days living out of our cabins, we’ve gotten used to the layout of the ship and now all we want to do is leave this harbour! After a night with a view of Ushuaia, we woke to find the city was covered in snow.

Alas it melted before a vast majority of my fellow passengers awoke to see it, but I was able to get my 200-500mm lens out for the first time and give it a go. I’m so pleased to report that it was beautiful and flawless, I’m so glad I chose this lens over other options.

Finally, after breakfast, the boat begins to leave the harbour. We’re going to start sailing even though the low pressure system that held us up last night, still hasn’t cleared. But as the expedition leader, Jan, reminds us, they’ve always got a Plan A and a Plan B. We’re headed for Harberton – the most southern farm in the Tierra Del Fuego region.

Itching to get some real photography started, I sought permission to break from the group and shoot some interesting objects that I had spied on the coastline around the settlement. I couldn’t figure out what the farmer was telling me they were.

“Barnos.” He says, clearly.

“Barn-aus?” I say

“Banos” he replies, smiles and walks away.

I’ll soon understand what these are on inspection.

Outhouses. A famous Loo with a View. The smell gave it away and I chose to keep my distance and keep shooting.

I’m sure he was quite amused by my willingness to take photos of his lavatories.

We get back on the boat after the excursion and proceed to familiarise ourselves with the undressing of all the layers.

Gloves and Beanies

Lifejacket

Red Jacket

Tshirt

Thermals

Socks

The red jacket is provided as part of the cruise package and it’s a doozy. I know I’m only going to get to wear it once, maybe twice at the peak of the Queensland winter. It’s so warm, packed with pockets and truly a great souvenir of the trip itself. How I’ll get it home is anyone’s guess. I’ve just got to hope that the smaller-domestic airlines are forgiving for one or two kilos overweight check-in luggage. We shall see.

That evening, we begin to cross the Drake Passage, and I realise with a sense of dread, that I am so woefully prepared for this journey.

Thursday 7th December

The perils of the Drake Passage don’t make themselves known immediately. They creep up on you and attack when you think that you’re doing okay. It begins during the daytime, at first, some occasional big waves. We scored cabin 336, which is up the front end of the boat, also one of the least stable places to be as there’s so much more sudden movement. The ups and downs I can deal with, it was the side to side, the water splashing the windows and the ship-tilting.

I found that lying down in bed was the only way to prevent my stomach evacuating itself. I felt dizzy and disoriented. I took one sea sickness tablet, but I’m uncertain if it really helped me.

I spend Wednesday afternoon and night in bed. It’s the only place that I can deal with the movement of the boat. Walking around is similar to the way you feel after several drinks, although this time there’s way more invisible potholes. Either this or the floor will jerk away from you, push you into a wall or cause you to face-plant the floor. Don’t even try to have a shower during the height of the movement, you’ll be tossed around like a ragdoll on spin cycle.

Thursday morning rolls around and I’m starving. The food here is amazing, but the sea sickness doesn’t let you forget that it’s in control. I sit down for breakfast but I don’t last long. The dining room is at sea-level and the jerky movements of the ship are even more noticeable than upstairs in the cabin. I ask the waiter for a sick bag, and promptly fill it up.

Everyone around me is staring. Not saying a thing, not doing a thing, just looking.

Yup, I’m the one that thought I could beat a little sea-sickness. I’m now that-person, the one that everyone looks at or treats with a certain annoying-delicacy as if I’m going to break at any moment.

I take the rest of my meal to-go and promptly leave the dining room in extreme embarrassment. I shower and climb back into bed. This is just how it’ll have to be until we get to calmer waters. There’s only another 24hrs maximum left of this, I can stay in the cabin for that long. But alas, guilt gets me up again.

I force myself to get up and walk around, get some fresh air and have some of the sweet biscuits at the tea station. These help a little, and there’s far less people staring at me and asking me if I need help to walk around the ship. I retreat back to my hiding hole and pass the time on my laptop.

At some point in the late PM/ Early AM we finish our crossing of the Drake Passage and enter the calmer waters of the South Shetlands.

Friday 8 December: Yankee Harbour

Waking up in these gentle waters was a blessing. I was finally able to eat a decent breakfast and walk around the boat without feeling like I was going to be playing dodgems with the walls. I said a virtual happy birthday to my mum (Happy Birthday Mum). Not having WiFi has been both a blessing and a curse. I can deal with a few days of offline, heck even a bit more, but everything considered, I’m beginning to get anxious about what’s happening at home.

But, it’s the first day of landings on the shore and the adjoining islands in the Antarctic region.  Today we’re at Yankee Harbour, and using our new knowledge of penguin and seal-etiquette, we climb aboard a zodiac to be taken to shore for what is an incredible day already; the sun is shining, the sky is clear and it’s just a perfect introduction to the white continent.

Moments before the zodiac lands on the shoreline, we hear the penguins (Gentoo) calling out on their nests. They’re climbing their penguin highways (paths they follow from rookery to ocean) and diving amongst the waves of the pebbled beach. They’re cute and clumsy, playful and funny. I spend hours photographing them and one sleepy seal lying on the frozen snow. There’s so many of them and they’re mostly sitting on their eggs. They steal rocks from other penguins nests to build their own, they randomly poop wherever they want and they walk like they’re wearing clown shoes.

The landscapes around the harbour are spectacular. Pristine white caps of glaciers surrounding us, pitched against intense blue sky. The occasional beam of sunlight caresses the curvatures of the glacier, highlighting subtle features. The photos are deliciously simple, an example of the amazing light.

As the time to go back to the ship approaches, a fog cloud rolls in and covers the surrounding mountains. It’s my first glimpse of how the weather down here works, and to summarise it quickly I’d say it’s swift and brutal.

Everyone’s on a pretty big high after the landing today, and I choose to go to bed not long after dinner. They’ve hyped us up saying that we’re going to do our night of camping on Saturday night. So as per anything we do on this journey, we’re briefed about this and given our sleeping bags, liners and bivvy bags.

Saturday 9 December: Useful Island + Neko Harbour

It’s an early landing and a short one due to weather. We’re at Useful Island, where there’s yet another penguin rookery, a cool view and lots of loosely-packed snow. The mountains surrounding the area are covered in heavy snow clouds, fog and can barely be seen. We learn how much fun it is to walk in loose snow, often falling through it up to our knees or higher. Moving around with a full camera bag and tripod proves cumbersome. After this excursion with the tripod, I re-evaluate how much I want to be lugging it around.

The ship then manoeuvres itself into position in Paradise Bay, drops anchor and again we’re treated with different scenery. In the late evening (which looks like late afternoon because of the extended days of sunlight) we’re whisked off to our camping spot at Leith Cove, a little island loosely connected to the mainland and surrounded by towering peaks. We dug our trenches for our sleeping arrangements, we have to be beneath the snow-wind line in order to get a comfortable night’s sleep. After the long day that we’ve had, I’m actually really tired. After shooting sunset at 11pm, I climb into the sleeping-bivvy bag arrangement which is more like a straight-jacket and begin to get some sleep. It’s surprisingly not that hard to get to sleep, all things considered, sleeping in a shallow “grave” of snow was a tad morbid, but was a bit of fun.

Sunday 10 December: Leith Cove + Wilhelmina Bay

When I wake, sunrise has already happened and there’s a snowstorm just beginning. Most of my fellow campers have already packed up and have filled in their sleeping bag holes and are down at the shoreline waiting for the zodiac to arrive to take them back to the ship. I pack up my things without wasting time and join the queue for the return to the ship.

I decide to brave on the day without a nap and not miss a single landing. I’m tired as I only got a very light sleep during camping. As stunning as it was, the desire for sleep is creeping in and the weather is starting to suggest that I get some zzz’s.

We’re doing a landing today at Brown Station, an abandoned Argentine research station. It’s quite picturesque, and I really love all the shots that I’ve gotten from this location. It was snowing heavily and it wasn’t difficult to really get a great image of the landscape. I’m fascinated by snow, I don’t think it’ll ever become boring for me.

The weather has closed in by now and our afternoon plans are simply to go and visit another bay to allow us to see a different type of harbour; one that is still filled with sheet sea ice with picturesque cracks through its structure. We can’t break through it, as we’re not an icebreaker, but instead, the catering crew throw us a BBQ on the back deck with views around this beautiful bay.

Finally finding my time to have a nap, I quietly slipped away to the cabin and curled up on my bed, waking only for dinner and to grab a green tea.

Monday 11 December: Brown Bluff + Sailed north towards south Shetland Islands

The weather was not kind to us today, and started out with sleet showers and -4 degrees as our daily maximum. Our expedition crew was hopeful that they’d be able to get a landing sorted for us at Brown Bluff, a towering volcanic mountain, stained brown and yellow by the natural formations and no doubt helped along by penguin guano.

Climbing into the Zodiacs had become a well-rehearsed ritual, loading the bags and making sure they’re secure between your feet so they don’t move around. The zodiac driver warned us that it’ll be a wet ride, so I made sure to secure my camera and lens on the BR strap and keep it tucked away from any stray water. As soon as the boat pulled away from the Marina at the back of the ship, one giant wave splashes over the side, sprays me in the face and water catches behind my sunglasses. I’ve never felt water so cold, so close to my face. IT was stuck there until we got to the shore and I could attempt to bring my face from numb to OK.

Brown Bluff’s visit was for seeing another type of Penguin we had not yet seen; the Adellies. Mostly all black aroud the head, they differ from the Gentoos also in the fact that the Adellies have hatched most of their eggs and were far more playful to photograph. We did this all the while being pelted with sleet and winds so intense you had to huddle together to preserve warmth when waiting for that zodiac back to the ship.

Given the weather was so terrible on our way down, our afternoon plans had been to see Gourdin island, but again, this plan had to be cancelled, the weather was not playing the game. Disappointed, we headed back towards the South Shetland islands once more in the hope we could make a landing on our final day in the Antarctic.

Tuesday 12 December: Arctowski station (Polish) research base + Half-moon Island

We awoke in a harbour not far from the Polish Research Station Arctowski, and spent the morning wandering around photographing penguins (bet you didn’t guess that) and seals (ahooo, again) all under the backdrop of lingering heavy clouds and blustery powdered snow wafting from the shore to the sea. I chose not to go inside the research station, the queue for this was too long and I was really only interested in the landscapes around. The beauty of the pictures speak for themselves, I still don’t think I’ll get sick of looking at penguins.

The final landing of the Antarctic voyage was spent at Half-moon Island. It’s a quiet little harbour with a multitude of penguin rookeries from different varieties all mixed in. Mostly, we were here to see the Chinstrap penguins, funny little guys that look like waiters with military hats. As this was an after-dinner landing, we got some sunset color and a chance to see the Antarctic region out with some of the most gorgeous landscapes I’ve seen yet.

That evening, after an intense 5 days of photographing different elements of the Antarctic, our ship quietly slipped into the Drake Passage once more, to return us to Ushuaia. We knew what the passage was like the first time, but this time however, I’d scored some sea sickness patches from one of the expedition team, and so I was ready. Thankfully I did because the waves we had coming back were more intense than going down. It was like trying to sleep on a trampoline.

Wednesday 13th + Thursday 14th: Drake Passage, Beagle Channel and returning to Ushuaia

Our cabin was suffering the worst of being at the front of the ship, you could feel the motion of the ship ducking down a wave, and in bed, you’d get a moment of levitation until your body fell back down into the bed. It was usually then when the ship would rise again, and you’d sink a little deeper back into the bed.

Then the winds would kick in, and you’d be tossed from side to side like you’re a lamington being coated in coconut, the only real threat was falling out of bed. You’d time your movements so that if you’re getting out of bed, you wait for a moment where the ship isn’t tilted to one side and the threat of face-planting is at a minimum.

Oh the joys.

And now begins the next part of my trip, two weeks exploring El Chalten and Bariloche – some of the most amazing parts of Argentina’s Patagonian region.

 

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2017 antarctica argentina blog landscape melsinclair photography scene travelblog http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/12/antarctic-exposure-a-review Fri, 15 Dec 2017 19:51:33 GMT
USHUAIA: End of the earth http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/12/ushuaia-end-of-the-earth What can I say, Ushuaia is stunning!

I arrived yesterday after a flight that was otherwise ok, except for a flight attendant trying to get me to move to half a seat from the perfectly fine and whole seat that I had to myself already. A man who can only be described as 1.5 times the width of a standard seat, obviously didnt fit into the one he was allocated, so he decided to walk to the front of the cabin and sit in someone else's.

When they showed up for the flight, the attendant was trying to get me to move to the half seat next to this large man. there was no way in hades that I was going to move, but managed to convince the flight attendant that I was fine where I was, as I needed the under-seat storage for my camera bag, given the overheads were all full. In the end, she relented and moved the large man to a business-class seat which was wide enough to fit him, the couple that were to have the regular seats got theirs and I was left alone. I'm usually quite amiable to changes like this, but I wasn't going to fit in that seat anyway and I didn't pay for half a seat for a 3.5hr flight. I wish people would take more responsibility for themselves if they're larger than a standard seat and book two.

I've got a few hours to myself this morning before Bev arrives, so I wanted to quickly show some pictures of this area and then get back out there, as it's another stunner.

The moon rose over the mountains yesterday, but it was hard to get a clear shot because of the plethora of powerlines going everywhere. In the end I decided to go with it and shoot those powerlines, however ugly they may be, they paint a portrait of this town.

I love exploring and noting all the cultural differences. For example, this is a houses rubbish bin: (I love it how it won't get too smelly cos it can breathe and it's at a height that can't be broken into by hungry stray dogs).

The rest of the pics are touristy-type images of Ushuaia and the moonrise which I wasn't quite prepared for. Might get a chance tonight to go out and shoot it a bit better!

Enjoy ~

 

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2017 america antarctica blog cultural differences melsinclair photography quirks south street town ushuaia http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/12/ushuaia-end-of-the-earth Sun, 03 Dec 2017 12:44:05 GMT
Buenos Aires: Recoleta Cemetary http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/12/buenos-aires-recoleta-cemetary I’ve been in Buenos Aires for 48 hours now and I can honestly say, it’s nothing like what I read.

See, I made the mistake of reading reports from travellers about the safety of different parts of the city. I read pages and pages of those who had been pick pocketed, robbed and held up in the BA’s less-desirable neighbourhoods. It had gotten me scared about coming to this place beyond all reasonable expectations. I had friends tell me about their horror stories of being robbed in taxis and being followed home. Suffice to say, my backup plan was to lock myself in my room and never appear except to leave for the airport again.

What I hadn’t planned on, was a thrilling view of an aluminium roller-door from my hotel room window. I had managed to pull the roller up enough to get natural air and kind-of tell what time of day it was depending on the shadowed-light, but in its lack of detail, I began to wonder if the outside really was as dangerous as the tales I had read...

On my first day, I set myself a task to go out for a walk, no phone, no camera – just walk, watch and observe. What I saw for myself was people who were respectful of each other; a busy morning commute. Some people wore their backpacks on their front, some were well dressed, some not. Some walked with their phones in their hands, others didn’t seem too concerned at all about it.  What I soon realised was that I had read about tale after tale of misfortune, traveller naivety and lack of personal awareness. You really need to have your wits about you. I didn’t come across anything to make me feel unsafe today, but no doubt there could have been other places where this applied.

What struck me the most was the towering apartment buildings which shot up beyond the storefronts and the restaurants. It’s true what they say about Recoleta, it’s truly the Paris of South America. The architecture is beautiful to be surrounded by, of course, there are the exceptions to the rule, but overall it’s been rather pleasant. ((Since I have been trying to avoid excessive attention to myself, I haven’t been wearing my GPS SPOT tracker, but I should be logging once I get to Ushuaia on 2/12.))

I set myself a task to wander in the rough direction to land in Recoleta Cemetery, and after some side-street exploration, I made it there just fine. Walking in, I realised just how big this place was, and how interesting all the crypts were.

It’s a village of the dead, family mausoleums and individual resting places. Some are decorated with such homely touches, displaying family members and dried flowers. Often there’s a compact staircase that winds down into the earth, multiple layers of coffins of different sizes stacked together. They’re not buried in dirt, rather encased together in marble with ornate fixtures and holy paraphernalia scattered about. The odd few are in need of some maintenance and upkeep, but these are just as interesting as the super shiny-super modern ones that are also around as well.

It's easy to get lost in this place, equally as easy to lose a whole day as you pursue different types of imagery ideas. What I found the cutest was the Cemetary cats, volunteers come in to feed them at 10am and 4pm each day. Before this however, the cats are already lurking waiting on their next meal. They're friendly (though I wouldn't touch them) and are just lovely to turn a corner and see them hanging around.

I tried to take some different photos of the cemetery, indeed it was one of the few places I have felt comfortable taking out my camera and taking some shots. The history and the different styles of graves from different eras of art history is incredibly fascinating.

See below my selection of 10....

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2017 aires america antarctica argentina blog bsas buenos december melsinclair photography south ushuaia http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/12/buenos-aires-recoleta-cemetary Sat, 02 Dec 2017 02:16:40 GMT
Curve Ball http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/11/curve-ball I'm going to take a small break into reality for a moment and talk about something that I need to talk about.

Last week, last Tuesday, I had one of those life-jarring, steaming-fat-turd things happen; my house burnt down.

One of the things that has been helping me process this huge burden and absolute headtrip, is writing it out. I've been writing stuff for myself all week, but this is my first chance to write something for everyone - to hopefully help you understand where my head has been at, maybe give you a glimpse of what it's like.

It's one of those things that, unless you have experienced sudden and total loss - complete, down to not having a toothbrush or only the clothes on your back, I don't think you can fully comprehend how it actually feels.

Granted I had some things of mine still, thanks to an enduring laziness that has crept in over the years to keep everything spick and span. Casually thinking "I might need that scarf again soon, even though it's almost summer,' or, 'I'll leave my tripod in the car because I'll never use it at home." meant that some things that previously had no meaning, now mean something to me; they survived.

The psychology of this is more than just having some stuff that made it through the chaos through no effort of my own, they become remnants of what was - the perceived value of them is now more present than ever. They represent an identity - what I used to wear, what I used to prefer over other things. Learning to be comfortable in donated clothes, for example, has been some what of an existential struggle, but one I am getting over by simply not giving a shit what others think.

At the time of the fire, I lost my furbaby Bailey - a late-in-his-life adopted Maltese Lhasa-Apso with a kickass attitude and an overbite. He loved to sing to Bernard Fanning, Nelly Furtado and Bob Sinclair. He loved long walks in the park, eating corn cobs, belly rubs and playing Catfishing on my ipad. He loved girls, hated some men and really hated children. We were best buds, I doubt I'll find a dog as personable as he was.

My cat Charlotte - an ex-stray kitty with street cred - she was an independant soul who loved the outdoors, drinking water from taps and was a master manipulator, disappeared at the time of the fire. Because she had mastered the art of running without setting off her collar bells, she was well, a ninja. She hated loud noises, even unloading the dishwasher or closing a door would see her scurrying for shelter. With this in mind, I had no doubt that she was hiding somewhere, waiting for the commotion to die down before remerging and hopefully, finding her way back to us.

Two days ago, Charlotte found us. We had just finished dropping letterbox flyers for her in the neighbourhood. One of our previous neighbours was leaving just as we were arriving back to the car, "I just saw her enter the yard, she said excitedly, 'through there." It was the best lead I'd had since I'd seen a cat that looked exactly like Charlotte minutes before.
Cautiously, (and hopefully) I entered the scorched backyard, bits of wood and roofing tile scattered about the burnt dirt, bits of things I recognised as house or contents scattered around. I called out for her, trying to calm my pounding heart, would I find her?

"Cha Cha Cha... kitty kitty kitty..."

Wait. Anyone who has ever had to find a cat will know the importance of the pause in the calls. You need to make them think you're not panicked, or that maybe you've lost interest.

"Puss Puss Puss..."

I'm looking around madly for a grey cat in a very black-grey-white-brown scene. I'm scouting the trees, the bushes, the house, trying to find the pattern that suggests that a cat might be around close by.

"Charlotte...."

I hear a sound and stop, my head snaps back to where I think I heard it. There's a squeaking sound coming from inside the wreckage of the house.

Again "meep... meep...."

And there she is. Sitting on the blackened and fallen beams of what was the structure of the house. Inside the fallen chaos, right where her food bowl would have been.
She's scared, not amused and staring at me as if to say "What the hell happened here Mel! Seriously, what the freaking hell. I'm hungry!!!"

We quickly sourced food from the neighbour, and a towel that I wish had been a straight-jacket. The commotion that ensured next was like trying to pack an octopus with claws into a shipping crate with holes. She got us good, she wailed, she whined. Eventually, we got her into a room at the neighbours house. We got her some food, litter and comfort.
It was at that moment that the weight I had had on my shoulders lifted; everyone was accounted for. There were no more things left for me here at this place.

((The rest from here is pretty raw, I need to write it for my own memory which I know will make things up and fade... just a warning, this is rough))

But I'll take you back, because the more I talk about it now, the more I think it's helping me.

Around 3:30pm last Tuesday afternoon, I get a call at work from my other neighbour who I barely speak to, but only because we lead such separate lives.

"Mel, your house is on fire."

WHAT. From here on in, my head is a mess, "What, What." I yell into the phone, rousing the attention of my colleagues. "Fire, my house is on fire...."
My head is spinning, I cannot make sense of this feeling - like I'm going to faint. Through some semblance of survival mode kicking in, I get on a bike with Sam and we race out to my house.

I can see  the plumes of smoke rising before we even reach my suburb, knowing that that was my stuff - my things - my everything BURNING, I can feel my body going into shock, I get that feeling where I feel like I've been impaled and I can't comprehend. I close my eyes and silently hope that it isn't as bad as it looks, I can't imagine what's going on and I know that I'll know soon enough. My head fills with white noise.

We arrive in the street and it's blatantly obvious that this isn't a small fire. The street is cordoned off with police, fire and ambulance officers. We're initially stopped, but it's my house and I tell them so. An officer escorts me up to my neighbours fence, as close as they'll let us get to it. Other neighbours are all in the street watching silently, all standing in groups outside their homes. I feel like I'm suspended in time and now the subject of a reality TV show. I wish I could tell them to go about their day as normal, they don't need to witness my grief, but there's nothing that can be done except watch.

I see my neighbour who called me, Cheryl, my dads partner, and A policeman. The impact of the scene hits me.

Hot tears stream down my face as I realise my life is going up in flames and how damn useless I am standing here.

 

Above: Bailey and Cowgirl in happier times

My dog, my bailey, my sweet boy is trapped inside. Bailey... my bailey. Charlotte. My furbabies... my knees are weak and I feel like I'm going to collapse from the hopelessness of it all.
My computers, my backups which were inside the house, my everything. My trip stuff. Holy crap I've got a trip in 2 weeks and I've now got nothing left.
Loop
Bailey... bailey, can someone help him!
Loop

The looping is a repeating of the thoughts, feelings, time suspension and helplessness that comes with watching your things burn. It's that feeling that there's nothing you can do when all you want to do is storm the house and grab the things that matter. Firies tell us they won't sacrifice a human life to save an animal. In that moment I know from what I'm seeing that there's nothing that's gonna save my bailey. My sweet boy.

Flames are licking out the ceiling which has collapsed, the living room is gone. Blackened. Smoke shoots out the windows of my study, my bedroom, the other bedroom and well, pretty much everywhere. The garage is on fire, smoke billows through the neighbours house and down the street. Burnt bits of trees, papers flutter out and rain down over the houses, trees and everywhere it can reach.

A car has been pulled from the garage and whoever discovered the fire has pulled away all hazardous things from it.
The pungent smell of melting plastic and burning wood has engulfed the street. Time suspension continues,  the looping in my mind continues. I feel numb.

My phone is ringing but I can't answer it. I can't talk, I can't make sense of my own thoughts let alone have to put them into a sentence for someone else.

We're ushered into our neighbours' house so that we don't inhale any more smoke, but I know it's because there's some difficult things happening which they don't want me to see.

A police investigator interviews us, what we did that morning, what was on during the time we were out, what did we have in there, etc.
I sit down and we're given a glass of water. I don't remember much except holding sams hand really tight and staring into the blackness of the kitchen bench. People rush in and around me, different factions of family, police, support workers, chaplains, and Louie, the Logan House Fire Support Network guy.
He introduces himself, what he does and this amazing angel guides us through what we're meant to do from here. When noting makes sense, when the media are knocking on your door asking to speak to you, in the most tragic of circumstances, he arranges and guide you through it. They set up the GoFundMe for us, they started promoting and doing all the incredible things that require more courage than I could ever muster.  He brings water, towels and tooth brushes, he brings a book of what to do. He arranges things, gives advice, acts as a point of contact for everyone experiencing these kinds of sudden losses.

Appearing on camera infront of the media is the absolute last thing anyone in this situation EVER feels like doing. It's disaster porn. My hair is gross, my nose is red from crying, I'm in my least-favourite work shirt. Urgh. All meaningless things to worry about, but when there's nothing to do, the most irrelevant emotions are stirring around and not being helpful at all. It's the whole train-wreck of a situation kinda thing. You know the type. While horrible to do, it is a necessity, he explains. Indeed many people I know were dumbfounded to see mine, my brothers and fathers face on national TV after we'd lost pretty much everything.

My memory is a bit burry after this.

At some point Louie comes in and confirms that they have found the dogs- my Bailey and Cheryl's Cowgirl and confirmed they are deceased.
Another round of tears, looping memory and complete time suspension.
A family friend reports he is taking the dogs direct to where they will be buried with family. More tears.

My mum shows up, comforts me. My brother is around. At some point I hear a giant crashing sound from the direction of my house. People are going over to the balcony of the house where we are and looking at it. I can't bring myself to go and see, so I sit at the counter and stare. The next day I'll realise the noise was the roof collapsing into the ashes as the supports for it had burned through.
Facebook is going off now, my phone is ringing off the hook and messages are sweeping over it. I put it in silent and push it aside, I don't have the energy to reply to people right now.
I feel suspended like a puppet, strung by strings put there for me and powerless to stop them.

After what feels like several long hours, darkness falls and the firies are still there. Police tape is across the drive and parts of the house are still being extinguished.
The silence that has fallen around the house is only broken by shouts from the firies communicating to each other. The house is blackened, part of the living room roof has collapsed and it's still too hot to go inside for the firies, we're told.

The watchers in the street have gone back to their lives, the ambulance has gone and the police are wrapping up their work. They guard the house overnight until its no longer deemed a crime scene.
Getting back to my now-home was nothing short of surreal.
I realised everything that I had left behind in my car, at sams place. The small collection of stuff I had amassed here now held tremendous value, because it remained.
I slept a little bit that night, but only due to the help of a few stiff drinks and pure exhaustion.

I woke the next morning with the weight of what had happened on my shoulders again.
Realising that I wouldn't see Bailey again, that I didn't know where the cat was, all sorts of emotions rushed over me.

We weren't due back at the house until the afternoon, we expected the forensics guys to finish up late afternoon and hand it all back to us.

The untold part of this story so far was that I had two weeks until my trip of a lifetime was due to begin. I had booked, planned, spent and saved money for an once-in-a-lifetime trip to Antarctica and Argentina. I was two weeks out, I had bought my clothes, medicines, luggage, jackets, tents and all the bits and pieces that I needed. The fire had taken it all away from me in a flash. All of a sudden I was two weeks out with nothing bar the few bits of clothing that I had lazily left in my car. I had no passport, no printed tickets, no travel money and no idea how I was going to replace it all in two weeks on a miniscule budget.

I spent Wednesday morning running around official places to get my passport remade (since the old one had been destroyed), the afternoon held a different story for us.
We arrived at the house early, smacked in the face by the reality of what greeted us when we returned. Policeman and firefighters, showing up sporadically to put out spot fires and hotspots that had kept flaring up during the night. We got out what we could, but most had to be left behind due to the soot and smell of burnt plastic. I'm learning that that smell doesn't come out of anything easily. The hardest part of salvaging is dealing with the drive-bys that find my loss and grief as some sort of entertainment. Our street was a quiet one before this happened, I knew every car that drove past regularly. Now, it was central station, it seems rubbernecking has become  a family sport. Car after car of people slowing down to get a good look at what was left. And me standing there facing all the things that I had lost. I had begun to feel quite angry by this, as I'm not a sideshow attraction, but it felt like that.

The whole house was blackened and charred, the linger smell was that wood-fire smell that's both sweet and sinister. Windows are smashed, grass is blackened, trees around are dead. The whole outside area feels like loss. Screens in my computer room are melted and sunken forward. One even has melted completely and ejected the electronic components from its grasp.
My computer case paints a picture of intense heat, memory cards melted onto the top, twisted plastic, bubbled perspex.

Each time I show up to the house from this day forth, I know it has happened, I can only accept it.
When I go away, somewhere else, that's when it doesn't feel real and it begins to seem like a nightmare or bad dream. I feel like I can almost sense myself walking through it like everything was there and nothing was out of place. It's almost hyper-real how much recall I have with this, I will wake up in the night swearing that I was just there.

But from all darkness, there is light.

After the intense heat that my computer and its hard drives went through, I still recovered 12TB of backups and current data. Some of these drives were submerged in water for up to 48hrs before we dried them and riced them, and they still transferred data. BIG WIN

But, the biggest, most amazing part of this entire hopeless situation, has been the immeasurable kindness from those around me. I have been simply floored by the heart, thought and support from friends, peers and colleagues. Everyone has come out in support, and for someone like me, this is massive. I have been left speechless by the offers of support and things arranged to help me get back on my feet. The community support has been phenomenal. I have been blown away by the offers of assistance.

I really wish to thank everyone as much as possible, namely:

GoFundMe Backers - thank you so very much for what you have donated, whether big or small, it truly means so much and the funds that are raised will go towards moving on from this situation as best we can.

My AIPP  Community and close friends  - Sara McKenna, Colleen Harris, Wanda Anderson, Melissa Anderson, Katrina Christ, Roxanne Gorman for the amazing care package/ clothes drop you all put together which I am still finding great value in.

Leighton Jones Real Estate Kenmore - For an extremely generous donation and ongoing fundraising activities on our behalf.

Logan House Fire Support Network - I know you will say you're doing your job, but it's seriously unlike anything else and we're all so grateful.

Nikon Australia - Helping this photographer put her kit back together in time for her trip to Antarctica.

Kathmandu - For also helping me put my technical clothing situation back together in time for this trip.

Lisa Kayes - My amazing travel agent for collecting gift cards and support from your friends.

Work - for being patient and understanding.

Mum - for being amazing and supportful as always

Helen and Dennis - for the same reason as mum :)

So now that I've got that off my chest, onwards with a travel photography blog yes?

I'll be posting what I can, where I can.
There will be no internet for 2 weeeks while I'm in Antarctica - Data rates are prohibitively expensive and well, I'll just want to be out amongst it as much as I can!

Stay tuned for the next post in a few days as I realise how much I've got left to do!

 

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2017 antarctica argentina blog fire house melsinclair reallife http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/11/curve-ball Thu, 23 Nov 2017 12:29:28 GMT
Platypus Playing http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/7/platypus-playing What seems like weeks ago, was actually months ago now, I was in Tasmania, more specifically, Cradle Mountain. There, on our first day, there was an unusual amount of rain slowly, yet persistently, falling from the sky.  I took the opportunity to shoot in the rain with my D810, a decision that would later render the  camera unusable for the rest of the trip. Anyway, while I was trying desperately to dry out my camera and get it going again, my mum was off doing the Ronnie Creek walk, and chanced upon this happy Platypus, splashing and playing in the flooded tarns. She asked that  I post these videos for her, and I've wondered how to incorporate these into a post, so instead, here's a dedicated post. Video credits to my Mum, Leanne Sinclair.

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2017 Nikon april cradle mountain platypus tasmania video http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/7/platypus-playing Thu, 06 Jul 2017 10:36:35 GMT
Five Days around Tassie http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/5/five-days-around-tassie Two blogs!

I'm ashamed, I've only posted two blogs the entire time I've been in Tasmania.

But, I've been busy, I've got photos to share and I hope that you're keen to see what I've been up to.

The last blog I was at the National Park Hotel after just wrapping up at Cradle Mountain. After missing a killer sunrise at Cradle, I vowed not to miss another unless the weather was saying 100% nope with driving rain or even a tornado. 

As I did every night before going to sleep, I checked the weather forecast. Fog

Did I read that right? 

Yes, FOG.

There was a solid promise of Fog from Meteye.

Early the next day, I woke with that headache that I get every sunrise. The "I'm going to regret the sleep deprivation" headache. It was a sign, a sign that I should have gone to bed earlier, I knew I wasn't going to get a nap, I had to drive to Eaglehawk Neck after shooting. I had mum in the car, and I'm sure that she didn't quite understand the need to drive past the same spot repeatedly, but I didn't care (too much). I could have lingered for hours after sunrise, but time was not on my side. What I did get however has put a big smile on my heart, a feeling that I finally have work again that I'm super pleased to share.

Chronologically:

The whole reason I was hanging around Mt Field was of course, to shoot the easy-to-access waterfalls. There wasn't much water in them, so it was up to some styling to get the most out of what was there.

Fog around Ellendale

The drive to Eaglehawk Neck was mostly without interruption, save for perhaps the essential food stops for Salmon, Raspberries and water. I really struck lucky with the tides, I got low on both mornings that I was at the Tesselated Pavement, and the second sunrise I opted not to even do because the first one was unbeatable in that regard. I'm thankful that Tasmania has continued to give me good weather.

On our last morning at Eaglehawk, my mum and I combed the part of the beach we still hadn't explored. There was rockpools and a number of really different natural patterns and things to see. It's a little bit of a treasure trove, so bear with me!

Once Eaglehawk Neck was done and dusted, it was onto our final destination, where I blog from tonight having just had the most amazing sunset. The water calmed down just enough to see the beautiful blues and greens shine through, and high clouds lit up like firecrackers in the afternoon sky. 

Driving up to the East Coast from Eaglehawk Neck was initially very confusing, but once we found the right road it was smooth sailing. I can't remember ever noticing the number of vineyards scattered around the hills before, and temptation finally caught up with us as we passed the Devils Corner Cellar Door. Here's the view the winery is set against:

 

Tomorrow I head back to Brisbane, and I'll be ready to share over the coming weeks, the results of this trip. Feeling on top of my photographic game again, I've seen so many different angles of Tasmania this time. It's been wonderful Tassie, as always! 

Thanks also to those following on Instagram... I've been trying to give the "seconds" which come from the phone some life while I process what I have from the camera!

Sunrise this morning at The Gardens was pretty, but not a cloud in the sky. For most people this would be heaven, but sometimes I find it hard to be enthusiastic about clear skies, instead chosing to focus on the way the light fell on the scenery.

Today was spent exploring The Gardens and Binalong Bay under the normal midday sun. It was quite hot after a while! After some really cold mornings, it was great to finally crack a sweat. The sand is so whate, the water so crisp and turquoise! A true feast for the eyes! No wonder it was voted #2 beach in the world this year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And, before i go, here's that sunset I was talking about! Binalong Bay tree, Binalong Bay, Tasmania. Love it! High cloud in the sky that lingered from mid-morning started the most incredible sunset. I truly got my wish for the clouds to stick around!

All images shown here are intellectual property of Mel Sinclair. Please do not reproduce images outside of this post without permission. These are not final edits.

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2017 D750 Nikon Tasmania bay binalong blog eaglehawk fires gardens landscape melsinclair neck of pavement photographer photography sunrise sunset tesselated the http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/5/five-days-around-tassie Wed, 03 May 2017 11:31:57 GMT
Focus on the Fagus 2017 http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/4/focus-on-the-fagus-2017

Fagus leaves:  Minimalistic: Double Exposure taken on the D750

Focus on the Fagus was back on again this year, and after three years since I had been to the event at Cradle Mountain, I just had to go back. I took my mum with me this time, as she had never been to Cradle Mountain before. I knew that she would be welcomed into the group as a non-serious photographer, a hobbyist just to enjoy the walks and the company that often goes with that. 

The idea of Focus on the Fagus is simple: We're a bunch of keen photographers from around Australia, all once joined by the website and art-sharing website "Redbubble". We descent on Cradle Mountain for a once-a-year week to witness The Turning of the Fagus (Northofagus Gunii), a small deciduous beech tree (aka Tanglefoot) and see it change from Green, to yellow, gold and red. If we're lucky and we've timed the week right, the fagus will present in a variety of illuminated shades of autumn. At the end of five exhaustive days of hiking and exploring Cradle Mountain- Lake St Clair National Park, we have a competition day on Friday. The idea is pretty simple - Submit two files at the end of the day, that best vision the Fagus. All photos submitted to the competition must have been taken on the Friday of the competition, from 12:01am to 4pm. The winner receives the Cow and Calf trophy, plus their name on a shiny plaque on the master trophy.... this is kindly sponsored by David Murphy and the Cow and Calf Gallery, Stanley, Tasmania.

_____

I can't believe how fast the past week has gone, time just flies when you're busy hiking, taking photos and being up at all hours doing crazy hiking things. I took it relatively easy this time around, I was rather tired easily with having just had the flu shot (possibly not my smartest move prior to a week of hiking) but nevertheless, it's a holiday and it's not always about going flat out at every given moment.

Arriving in Tasmania late on Saturday 23rd, my mum and I stayed overnight in Deloraine before heading to Cradle on the Sunday, via Woolworths for the shopping required to keep us relatively in-budget for the next week. I think we bought way too much, but that's always the way when you go shopping hungry. On the night of our arrival, I chanced upon a tunnel of trees and made plans to go back the next day and shoot it properly.

Sunrise was cloudy, so the tunnel of trees was in muted tones, alas was alive with yellow leaves scattered along the bitumen.

We got up to Cradle later than everyone else, who had already gone out on a hike to explore the foggy mountain. I took mum to see the famous boatshed and we had an easy afternoon adjusting to the cabin. 

Cradle Mountain is a place that is very special. The walks aren't necessarily all that easy, but the smell of the fresh air an the ambience of the mountain is entrancing. The weather is ever-changing and it is hard sometimes to even get sunshine. The walks all showcase a different part of this amazing part of the world, and each year i come back, I'm always exploring something different.

Monday morning rolled around quickly, and, as it does, I decided that since it was a rainy day, that I'd explore some of the rainforest tracks near the Peppers Lodge that I hadn't really seen before. This of course was fateful, after getting several shots that I was happy with, it began raining. Although the rain wasn't as heavy as I thought it might have been, my camera gear got wet. This of course, was nothing new, but alas when I got back to the cabin to switch my gear around for an afternoon walk, the camera wasn't responding. I dried it off and made sure to clean the different buttons. It showed it was working after this, and so I repacked it into my bag for the climb up to Marions lookout wth Rob and Mark. 

I'm pleased with the shots I got that morning, but I'm still really sad that it came with the temporary (I hope) demise of my camera. It still needs to be in Rice, but I don't have that facility at my disposal now.

The creek that runs past the King Billy Forest Walk, and the aforementioned walk itself, the last shots I got with the D810 before it succumbed to a surprise water attack!

Anyone who has done the difficult hike up to Marions lookout via the "Fast" way (actually very difficult going up with 10kg of camera gear on the back) Steep but work the effort. I discovered on getting up to the top, that my camera was not OK, and as such, had to get only phone shots. It gave me some time to get to know my what my phone was capable of.

That's ok.

Tuesday I took mum into the Ballroom Forest for a look. The water was flowing well and it was a great moody day to be wandering around an Ancient Rainforest. I think I visit the Ballroom each time I visit Cradle. Again, there's something special about that place.

Enchanted Forest Detail. Nikon D750

Wednesday was the "Wednesday Warriors" - basically a large group of us chose a difficult walk and made it ours. We did the Horse Track which goes around all of Dove and Crater Lakes, up to Marions and out past Weindorfers to Wonderland (our own name for a fagus patch). Wonderland was suprememly excellent. What made it even more special was the arrival of snow. It was so amazing to walk in snow that was settling as we were hiking through it. I simply had so much fun that day that I think the memory will last a while.

The photos truly tell how fun I thought it was:

Crater Peak

Wonderland, Reflection

Frozen Fagus

Looking over Crater Lake from Marions

Snow on the return. 

Sunset

Thursday was another short day, I had been feeling like a cold was coming on, and after the extreme hike of the day before, I chose to take it easy, shooting sunrise and taking mum up to Crater Falls and Crater Lake. I shot a few frames here and there.

Buttongrass

Trees and Buttongrass

Tentacle Tree (Snowgum)

Minimal rise (Rain and Snow)

Crater Falls (Lower cascades)

Tarn

 

And finally, it was Friday:Competition day.

I had dreamt of the perfect shot and woke up to realise that it was both stupid and a big waste of time given that we onyl had one car, wherever I went, mum had to go too, and there was no way she would be able to climb the Marions steep track. So we went back to Houndslow Heath where I'd been several times before.  Since this track requires constantly watching your footing, most of my day was spent looking at my feet. As such, i noticed the reflections in the puddles, and came up with my Second placed (Runners up) image:

And that's about it! I haven't had much of a chance to do anything except driving today. 

I promise I'll be able to get more blogs out now. Now that we've got WiFi pretty much everywhere we go, I'm hoping to be able to share more!

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2017 April D750 D810 blog cradle crater creative discovery dove forest holiday lake landscape lookout marions melsinclair mountain nikon parks photography roadtrip sunrise tasmania waterfall http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2017/4/focus-on-the-fagus-2017 Sat, 29 Apr 2017 09:44:57 GMT
BENQ SW2700PT Colour Management Monitor http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/12/benq-sw2700pt-colour-management-monitor Over the last few weeks I've been busy making a number of changes to my website, as I felt they were long overdue. One of those major changes were the readability of this blog, and after much feedback, I decided to take it back to white background and black text, it needs to be easy on the eyes so the content can be enjoyed. I hope you like the new design.

If you read my last article on "Useful PC tools for windows photographers" you'd know that I've been trying to write about products that are available that really do make such a different, more notably in the computer-realm. I like to write about products that can do as good a job, or better than their market leaders, potentially saving you hundreds or thousands of dollars, and hours of research.

The underdog products  perhaps? I'll let you decide. 

The BENQ SW2700PT should be on your wish-list. It boasts some incredible specs for its price; a no-brainer for those looking to upgrade their monitor for dedicated photo editing. 

The secret, to my editing workflow, is to inject as much vibrant and subtle colour into an image as possible. Softness and delicacy are traits of an image that I pride myself on, and a reason my images are well received when released.

As a professional creative landscape photographer, colour management couldn’t be more important to me. It wasn’t always this way; I used to believe that it didn’t matter what colours I saw, because someone else would see something different on their screen; so what changed my mind? My photographs and the colours that I was missing out on. How did I know? Colour banding on edits when I viewed them on my pro-labs screens.

As my photography got better, so did my desire to begin printing my many artworks. This proved to be the turning point, and soon I realized that I really did need to educate myself on this, I could no longer afford to keep printing and reprinting to get my images right. I was flying blind, and it was becoming expensive with paper and ink costs, not to mention the slipping patience of my pro-lab.

Turns out there’s a huge difference between an sRGB and an Adobe RGB colour space; not all monitors are created equal! Of course, if money is no issue, industry professionals will gravitate towards an Eizo. They’re the industry leader, but costing around a price of an international adventure for four; they’re not for everyone. I’ve always been interested in finding the equipment that costs much less and performs very similar, if not better than its market competitor.

Enter the BenQ SW2700PT Colour Management Monitor.

First Impressions

As soon as the courier delivers the box, I’m excited. I’m a bit of a screen-geek, I won’t lie. Every screen I have, I’ve researched head to toe before I chose the one I want. With the BenQ, it was an easy decision, it blew away everything else in the field in both technical capabilities and price range. I knew I had to have it. The SW2700PT is also capable of performing yoga-like manoeuvres wherein, it can rotate tall to display in Portrait mode. This is particularly workable for those who read long documents, websites, blocks of code or are constantly working on vertical panoramas.

Taking the screen out of its delivery carton, attaching the base and assembling the shaded hood, the monitor is already looking grand on my desk. It demands attention and the suave brushed-metal detail is beautifully machined, the indentation for the remote holds it snug and the cable management conduit is easily the yin-yang of the setup. BenQ have managed to design a screen that does not wobble or jiggle even when the desk is bumped, this most surely comes from the stable back spine and the solid base.

As if that weren’t enough, there are also two USB3.0 ports built into the left-side of the screen, as well as an SD Card reader. The supplied OSD Remote has three colour presets built in to these switches; sRGB, Adobe RGB and a dedicated Black and White mode. There’s 6 buttons along the right-hand underside which are emboss-labelled which also control the screen if you ever happen to misplace the OSD remote.

Attaching the shaded hood is a moment in itself. As if by magic, the screen appears bigger, braced in a dramatic-black cloak, instantly becoming the alpha of my desk. More overwhelming when you see it from the back, it really is the tall, dark, handsome stranger. There’s a small sliding port at the top for slipping a calibrator through, it’s a nice touch, it is all designed so well.

Creative Professionals… Listen up! This is for you.

This gorgeous monitor has been made with thought to all creatives; photographers, designers and videographers who want quality without having to fork out a small fortune.

The BenQ nestles itself comfortably into two key markets; the photographic enthusiast who knows they need colour accuracy, and the professional market, offering itself up as a formidable opponent to any NEC or Eizo currently available. Here, the BenQ comes out as the cheapest option, but this is by no means a negative on its quality. Locally, here in Australia, the SW2700PT is available for $999.00 from popular retailers such as Umart online, Mwave.com.au and JB HiFi.

With professional features like these, it’s vying for attention from the graphic-arts and photographic professional; who knows good colour is not a negotiation, great ergonomics and the important features of the correct editing panel.

Let’s take a look at the finer specifications:

Key Features

  • 27inch semi-gloss screen
  • 2560x1440 (QHD) native resolution
  • 1000:1 native contrast ratio
  • 350 cd/m2 brightness, 5ms response time (GTG)
  • DVI-DL (25-pin), DisplayPort 1.2, and HDMI 1.4 inputs
  • Palette Master Element colour calibration software
  • Black-and-White photo mode
  • Wide Colour Gamut (99% AdobeRGB)
  • 14-bit 3D Look Up Table (LUT)
  • On-Screen Display Control (Remote)
  • Shading Hood, with gap for calibration device
  • USB 3.0 hub, Headphone jack
  • Landscape / Portrait orientation
  • 2-year warranty

 

Compatible Colorimeter Devices:

i1 Display Pro

i1 Pro

Spyder 4 (any version)

Spyder 5 (any version)

Incompatible / Not Recommended Calibrators

These calibrators are either simply not compatible, or do not measure current monitor technologies reliably. If you have one of these, it's time for an upgrade!

i1 Display V1 & V2

ColorMunki Photo/Design

Spyder 1, 2 and 3 (any version)

So what does this all mean?

For those that aren’t quite as tech savvy as they’d like to be, let’s break it down into simple words.

The IPS (in-plane switching) technology in the monitor offers viewing angles close to 180° without any changes in the display of the image in terms of contrast and luminosity. It doesn’t darken or change colours when there is a change in viewing angle or when two people are looking at the same screen while editing the photographs.

The SW2700PT monitor features 109 pixels per inch density across its gorgeous 27 inch screen which can display over 1 billion colours on its 99% Adobe-RGB panel. Most screens that cost you a lot less will be sRGB screens. For beginners to display profiling, it is useful to note that you still cannot reach the same amount of displayed colours with calibration of an sRGB monitor. If your display can't show them, you won't see them, and your final print may not be coloured as you had intended.

While this isn’t a downside for most applications, for photo editing, you definitely need something more. On other cheaper displays, you’re not seeing all the colours your file has, especially if you shoot in AdobeRGB which is an option on many professional-grade DSLR cameras. Most modern day printers are compatible of printing photos in Adobe RGB color space, thus using this monitor would save you from wastage of prints as you have to make estimates while using an sRGB monitor.

 

 

The AdobeRGB colour space displays 30-35% more colours than an sRGB display, this is made up in the blue and green spectrum, and are true to colour when matched with a printed lab-grade sample. The monitor offers a 10-bit colour depth, with an excellent 14-bit colour accuracy for showing shades and tones. In comparison a standard 8-bit display monitor can display approximately only 16.8 million colors.

In short, this is an amazing feat for the price and worthy of applause. The high-resolution of the 2560x1440 QHD native resolution means that your screen will be crisp, vibrant and displayed at a high resolution, so you will have plenty of image real-estate on the screen when using editing programs such as Lightroom or Photoshop.

 Regarding the connections to your PC, the BenQ offers several different connectivity technologies. Depending on your setup with your computer, your graphics chipset will have a number of display outputs for the connection of monitors. Whether you are running a PC or a Mac, you should at least have a HDMI, DVI or DisplayPort (DP). Here’s a graphic of the types of ports the SW2700PT supports.

If your computer has none of these, you should consider getting a graphics card (GPU) installed if you are using a Windows PC. For Mac and laptop users, it may mean looking at an upgrade. Your local computer retailer can give you advice on how to proceed as each and every system is different.

Just like higher-end displays, the BenQ comes with a black shading hood which is easily assembled out of the box. This helps reduce ambient flare, an essential if you don’t have a darkened space in which to edit. I never fully understood the use of this hood until I examined my ambient-light measurement and saw how it changed the appearance of my colours on-screen... This is especially pertinent because I personally edit across several screens, opting for a second screen to show me web-colours (sRGB) while I edit live.

Calibration with BenQs supplied software, Palette Master Element is an easy process. Simply plug in your colorimeter of choice, load the Palette Master Element software in Basic Mode and follow the guided steps to complete your calibration. Make sure you have the correct Colorimeter before trying to profile your SW2700PT, I use and recommend the X-Rite i1DisplayPRO. It represents the best value for money versus operation. Read more about the i1Display Pro.

A “place calibrator here” shadow will appear, showing you how to complete the profiling:

Palette Master Element, unlike the software that comes with the i1DisplayPRO directly writes the profile into the chipset of the screen. For this reason, be sure that you plug the i1 into one of the USB3.0 ports on the left side. At the rear, on the connections panel, ensure that you have also plugged in the USB cable to the accessories connector:

 

Those who are more adventurous and want complete control over Gamma, White Point, Luminance and Blacks can select the Advanced Mode and really knock it up a notch, although, if you’re new to this caper and don’t know what those things are, best stick to the Basic mode; it’ll make a perfectly good profile, without confusion. I made sure to set reminders in my calendar to check the profile once a week for optimal correctness. It will run you through a variety of steps to check that your profile is still accurate and ambient-lighting conditions are still the same as originally-calibrated. 

Overall an impressive monitor for both photography enthusiasts who want to calibrate OR who may choose to work at factory settings without calibration, and for professional photographers who need precise colour accuracy. Having had the SW2700PT now for over a month, I am extremely impressed with how it stacks up against my other AdobeRGB screen, the LG 31MU97 (Pictured below on the left). Consistently the BenQ is displaying greater colours, despite both being calibrated at the same time, under the same conditions. I attribute this to the hardware calibration that the BenQ offers internally, versus calibrating the LG through the Graphics Card. The OSD remote has come in handy for quickly switching colour spaces when comparing a print edit to a web/online edit.

My only negative to this impressive line of specs, is a lack of HDMI 2.0 capability. This is easily negated though, I can still utilize the full range of features by using a Display Port connection. 

 

I wouldn't have written about a product if I myself wouldn't use it. 

This monitor needs to be in so many peoples' processing setups.  We as photographers spend thousands on the best photographic equipment, but for some reason the dedication to this falls short when it comes to the computer-side of things. We moan loudly when something fails or something breaks, but we don't speak highly enough, or as often as we should, about a product that works.

So here it is.

Get yourself one, you'll wonder why you didn't get one sooner.

Have you got one of these? Leave your thoughts and experiences below

Are you curious about monitor technology and want to know more? Please post a comment

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 benq blog calibrated calibration color display hardware i1display melsinclair monitor photography processing review tools utilities windows http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/12/benq-sw2700pt-colour-management-monitor Tue, 27 Dec 2016 05:49:46 GMT
On Writing. http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/12/on-writing

I have never really considered myself a professional writer. I am a dabbler, a hobbyist. I have an interest in describing factual events, in unorthodox and fruity ways. Much like how my photography started, it was an experiment, another outlet in which to create in.

It was somewhat accidental.

I have forever been a grammar nazi, one of you who feels the constant need to correct the failings of minds not focused on language, feeling as though I am watching the world of English evolve and devolve at the same time. I believe that telling you a story allows you to create the images in your mind, a skill as powerful as taking an artful photograph.

I studied snippets of writing:- and by that I mean as many of the Creative Writing units I could, in my Creative Industries degree, nearly ten years ago now. We examined the literary works of Jeanette Winterson, Christos Tsiolkas, Matt Haig and several others which haven’t necessarily stuck in the mind, but nonetheless have evolved my style of expression in a post-modern form of writing, which I think I have adopted. I enjoy telling you stories from my point of view. I enjoy telling you about the crazy things that happen when you try and take photography seriously. I enjoy pushing and questioning the things we do, why and how. I’ve been to some pretty far out places, it comes with being a landscape photographer.

Years ago, I actually read books, and by that I mean, finished them to completion and digested all that had just happened and how it had changed me, my mind and my thinking. I loved the self-reflection that I gained, how the book had challenged my ideas and opened up new railroads of thought. These days, finishing books is an achievement, it's not always as easy as it sounds.

 I remember consuming as many books by Stephen King as I could. One which surprised me was his book about writing and the personal journey that it took, “On Writing.” While this was a memoir written while he was being treated for a medical condition, I felt it necessary to have a casual conversation with myself about where I am with this “writing” thing.

I know I write infrequently.

I know I should write more, more often. I know that. I say this as I apologize to myself and those who do read some of the stuff I publish online.

I’ll have bursts of when it comes to me, and large periods of when it doesn’t. I never wanted the writing to feel forced, it becomes too tightly wound, too bound to traditional styles to sound free-flowing and expressionistic as I desire it to be. Sometimes, I’ll muse a sentence, a paragraph or just a quote. Pressure to produce creeps in and I’m left with a blinking cursor prompting me, teasing me, and eventually I’ll give up. If it doesn’t flow, it has to go.

I was taught quality over quantity, I’d rather sporadically post something of quality, than a whole heap of average, limply-strung words. The same goes for photographs, if it’s not going to blow my socks off, what hope do I have for everyone elses’ impression?

I still shoot, I still write, but I don’t publish everything I create. It's an evolution.

That’s the power of it.

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 Musings blog creating inspiration melsinclair motivation muse photography writing http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/12/on-writing Sun, 04 Dec 2016 01:57:09 GMT
Saved my Bacon! Some useful tools for Photographers with PCs http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/10/saved-my-bacon

I've been thinking about writing some more useful blogs in the coming months, mostly centered around some of the things that I've come across that are worthy of a mention, a review or a closer look at.

I'd like to start this trend by posting about some of the programs that have saved me from certain failure, really cool tools that everyone should have, and tools that made the job simpler when times were getting a bit stressful with a PC problem or photography problem.

So I have a little bit of IT in my background, I'd like to say "who doesn't" when it comes to technical arts such as photography and video producing. The programs listed below are purely for the PC/Windows photographers around us. Those that know you don't have to drop a $1000 premium to get the same thing on a mac ;)

If you have any to add, I'd love to hear what it is and your review in the comments below!

DisplayFusion

Website

"DisplayFusion will make your multi-monitor life much easier. With powerful features like Multi-Monitor Taskbars, TitleBar Buttons and fully customizable Functions, DisplayFusion will make managing your multiple monitors painless"


I cannot live without this one! Which is also why I have put it first!

I run a triple-screen setup here on my processing workstation. It helps that I can have a different toolbar on each screen and tailor the apps that show on each one. Display Fusion lets you do that. It also lets you customise the image on each screen, plus all the usual things like screensaver, windows login screen, performance of screens, orientation and the lot. There's so much to make the Windows user experience much, much better, especially if you have more than one screen.

Cost: Free (though the paid version is for life and is wonderful!)

Opanda iExif
Website

"Opanda IExif is a professional Exif viewer in Windows / IE /  Firefox, From a photographer's eye, It displays the image taken from digital camera and every item of EXIF data in the image from beginning to end. "

The beauty of this simple program is that, if you take a frame on your DSLR that is set to Jpeg, you can get the actuation count (number of times the shutter has opened and closed to expose a shot) which is useful if you need to know for warranty, selling your camera etc.

Those who wish to do more exif tinkering can get some of the editors available by this same developer, although it becomes chargeable.

Cost: Free (freeware)

Operating Systems: XP, Vista, Windows 7, 8 and 10 (compatibility modes may be required)

 

Hard Disk Sentinel

Website

"Hard Disk Sentinel (HDSentinel) is a multi-OS SSD and HDD monitoring and analysis software. Its goal is to find, test, diagnose and repair hard disk drive problems, report and display SSD and HDD health, performance degradations and failures."

Hard drives are our biggest worries when it comes to storing large amounts of images. You need to know how old your drive is, how long it's "ON" time has been and how it's fairing in terms of health. Use Hard Disk Sentinel to monitor your drives and plan for replacing them before it's too late.

Recuva (Memory card and hardware data recovery)

Website

"Recuva can recover pictures, music, documents, videos, emails or any other file type you’ve lost. And it can recover from any rewriteable media you have: memory cards, external hard drives, USB sticks and more!"

You don't necessarily need to pay for SanDisks' Recovery Pro unless you know what else is out there.

It should be noted that this is a last-ditch option to recover lost files and accidently erased memory cards. You will have to refer to the online guide that details how to use it exactly, but I have found it to be a great utility to take travelling with me.

Cost: Free - though a paid version has more features and options for recovery.

 

Audacity

Website

I had to give Audacity a shout in here. It's so simple to use and so effective if you are looking to record any kind of spoken audio into your computer for use in videos and presentations.

Cost: Free

 

SyncToy

Website

This is a Microsoft product! A very well kept secret too, it's a pretty useful one for us PC people who hate running backups to other drives.

SyncToy makes it really super simple, and allows you to have multiple backups to different folders saved as quick-runs.

While any backing up is a chore, select the "Contribute" mode to keep filling up a drive with new data, instead of erasing one or looking for like-like copies.

Cost: Free!

 

Hemmingway App

Website

While not a strictly-PC-only tool, Hemmingway makes writing simple. If you really suck at grammar and punctuation, browse to the website or download the app and input what you've drafted. Hemmingway will show you where your sentences are too long or your grammar incorrect. It basically makes your writing easier to read, and makes it look like you know your stuff.

Cost: Always free!

 

Ninite Website

Website

"Install and Update All Your Programs at Once. No toolbars. No clicking next. Just pick your apps and go."

Have you ever been through the horror of losing a drive or having to find software to reinstall or fix? Ninite has your back. Just select what you want and download the exe (executable). Everything you wanted will be in a prepared download and ready to go. Saves time, effort and pulled hair.

 

Snipping Tool

Built into Windows 7 and above, the snipping tool is a much easier way of taking screen shots and screen captures much quicker than the old combination of Ctrl+PrtScr or Alt+PrtScr.  Simply hit the Windows key and start typing "Snipp--" and windows will find you the Snipping tool. Use it to instantly take a picture and scribble, highlight or copy to the clipboard.

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) PC blog displayfusion hemmingway iexif melsinclair opanda photography recuva sentinel tools useful windows http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/10/saved-my-bacon Wed, 05 Oct 2016 11:10:48 GMT
Why are we still asking: “What settings should I use?” http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/9/why-are-we-still-asking-what-settings

This question has been grinding on me for some time now, and it is predominantly one that I come across in camera clubs and casual meetup groups. For clarification, I’m not attempting to lessen the experience of photography for anyone, merely putting the idea out there that answering this question is potentially misleading for the person asking it, and I’ll explain why, soon.

I understand that not everyone wants to be a professional photographer, and, not everyone has the time to research every single genre of photography to learn where to start, but why are we handing across details like it's definitive?

I once had a person to tutor, let’s call him Kevin.

Kevin was interested in learning about composing a more-powerful photograph and had enlisted my help to show him how to think in the field when finding the right balance.

Kevin was well-off in life and had gone out and bought the top-of-the-range camera with all the bells and whistles. He was super proud of his gear, but something was missing; self-discovery. Kevin expressed some disappointment that even the top-of-the-range camera couldn’t beat the photos he was getting on his iPhone. So immediately, I knew something was amiss.

After an easy hike into a rainforest to shoot some very-safe waterfalls, we set up our gear and I began to show Kevin on my camera, the sort of shots that photographers often seek in these locations, and how to go about it. He went away back to his camera, on the proviso that I was there to help at any time he needed it. I did not want to hover over him, instead let him figure out his settings and work together to refine the final composition.

After a few minutes, it became clear that he was struggling. I walked over to his tripod and told him to talk out loud about what he was trying to do, while he did it.

He verbalized that he had been told that waterfalls needed X ISO and X Aperture in order to achieve a X- timed exposure. It wasn’t working. His exposures were too dark and not at all like the final product that he had envisioned. He showed me a photo on his phone and said, “(this photographer)” told me to use X ISO, X Aperture and I could get a shot like this.”

I looked at the photo, and then back at our scene.

It was clear that Kevin hadn’t fully understood the purpose of the meter in the camera.

“Kevin,’ I explained patiently, ‘forget what (that photographer) told you to use, it’s not going to work here, now, to get you the correct exposure. If I gave you a weather report for this day last year, what would you think?”

He looked baffled, before replying “Well that’s clearly useless.”

“Exactly. Camera settings are the same, the only close-to-reproducible scenario is in the studio, which, we are not.”

“But-‘ he began, and stopped.

“Kevin, those settings worked for (that photographer) because they were the true settings at the time, in that light, on that day, in that location, taken by that camera and that lens. None of these things are here now. We’re not at that same location, on the same day, using the same camera.” I tried to explain.

“Yes, but then how do I shoot this scene?” he asked honestly.

“Well, you need to…’ I paused, trying to figure out how to explain this, ‘ start by using one of the semi-programmed modes, like Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority. Pick one of those modes and see what your camera does to the other settings to adjust for the shot. Start there.”

So we started in Aperture priority mode, and I explained how he can use it to pick just one of the settings and let the camera do the rest.

I showed him how to look at the data in the image review, so he can glean the other details as a starting point. ISO, Shutter Speed and focal length.

As the shoot wore on and he became more confident with adjusting his camera settings, a wonderful thing happened. He began to experiment. He stopped going back to Aperture or Shutter priority modes and began trusting the meter. He began to slowly take a grasp on how the settings change minute to minute as the light changed and adjust for that. We were able to continue the session with adjusting our shooting angles for composition and really have some fun playing with different viewpoints.

In the end, while walking back to the car, he confessed.

“I’d never actually thought of it like that, Mel,’ He began, ‘that settings mark a point in time, a true moment to the image, but not to the habits of the photographer. I’ve been around so many meet groups where we get told where to start, we never actually discover it for ourselves. I wonder all the times I’ve deleted a shot because it didn’t fit the shape of the “right” exposure that I thought I was looking for.”

It was here that I realized that in fostering a sense of community within photography, certain groups may not really be letting photographers discover their own settings for themselves.

 

We have digital cameras. We have memory cards, we have image preview and we have time.

So why are we giving away the settings that may suit someone elses’ shooting styles? Why are we not encouraging more experimentation in meet groups and giving the power back to the photographer to determine what they like as the perfect exposure?

For those of you that will argue a starting point for any new location is needed, just do what I do, start with ISO 100 and move either up or down from there, depending on the style of image you are looking to come home with.

The merry Meter will do the rest for you, it’s your wingman on-location.

Look at the meter and look at your scene, constantly. As photographers, it’s what we do.

And for those of you who wonder where filters come into this mix of exposure times? Let’s just say you set up the camera, take a test shot, and ascertain your settings. Only then do you mount your filter adapters, and test one filter at a time until you have reached the desired exposure time for the desired image outcome.

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) Musings blog cameraclubs casual clubs discovery education groups lessons meetup melsinclair photography practicality self settings shooting theory http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/9/why-are-we-still-asking-what-settings Wed, 21 Sep 2016 12:09:15 GMT
Just Iceland Pictures http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/9/just-iceland-pictures

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 aurora blog iceland icelandlandscapes landscape melsinclair mynikonlife nikon northernlights oneofakind ooak photography photos seascape stokksnes sunrise sunset travelphotographer waterfall http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/9/just-iceland-pictures Wed, 07 Sep 2016 23:02:13 GMT
AIPP APPA 2016 aka "Mel's Gamble" http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/9/aipp-appa-2016-aka-mels-gamble For someone who writes so often, I'm having trouble adequately expressing how amazed, honoured and surprised I am, to have done so well in this years AIPP APPA / Incite 2016.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would be a Finalist for Creative Professional Photographer of the Year!

 Every single year, professional photographers in Australia look forward (usually with mixed emotions between excited and trepidation) for the upcoming awards, so it's no secret that we put so much time, effort and emotional energy into getting images ready, ballgowns and livers ready for the meeting of so many great photographic minds. 

My experience this year was somewhat different, being away for APPA meant that I was tuning into the Livestream from the other side of the world to watch my images come through the judging machine (ie, the wonderful process we all love; the debates, the discussions). Fighting tiredness and jetlag, I saw some images come through live, others, I had trusty, awesome spies in Kris and Wanda Anderson, keeping an eye on the progress of my images.

I know this is a lot of preamble before revealing my images to you; but it's because they're more than that. They're packets of emotions, I've not created a photographic body of work that meant so much to me before. This is a cooee back to my Fine Art days in university, some skills and some concepts which I have revived from those lessons nearly 10 years ago.

I loved Printmaking - linocut, woodcut, etching... I did every single Printmaking subject on offer at TAFE QLD. I had my own home inks, glass plate, rollers and press. There was an intimacy of creating an image by hand, with the assistance of several photographs, photocopies, and sketches. I got used to seeing things in stark black and whites. It became second nature. Fast forward several years, and sadly I no longer have the time for a printmaking studio, but that doesn't mean I can't think like I still have one. I love taking photos and making them the best they can be. The direction that I took for this portfolio was to challenge the idea of the traditional photographic print, with a romantic smile back to printmaking.

As for the technique? I don't want to ruin the mystery. The whole idea for this series was to challenge the traditional notions of a print. Even showing you a digital image is a bit of a troll... you'll never really get it until you see it, wrap your mind around it and then see it in a new light. You could argue that I should have just done the images in photoshop, but where's the fun in that?!

 

#1: "Flight of the Birds" Illustrative Category: Silver Award

My Grandpa used to love sitting in the sun and watch the birds dance and sing. Often I never understood the joy of watching them, but as I get older I'm starting to appreciate the smaller things - getting away from technology and just watching them do their thing. I wanted to create an image that was an homage to my grandpa, but also had modern touches ie; powerlines.

 

#2 "Breakout" Portrait: Non-Commissioned - Silver Distinction Award

Breaking out, moving away, changing, transforming...

We all want to change something about ourselves but those who are trapped in a world of discomfort, depression or anxiety are stuck in a shell that sometimes becomes impossible to break free from. Your sense of self is diluted and defined by the things you don't understand, you feel isolated and alone. It's like a hand reaching up from below to strangle you. The idea that you're breaking, and trying to pull that apart from your identity is not as easy as it seems.

Big huge thanks for this image by the incredibly talent Kelli Misk-Alpine Designs MUA and my bestie Amber Smith for the human canvas!

 

 

#3 " Lilac Wine" Landscape - Silver Distinction Award

A hark to one of my favourite covers of the song "Lilac Wine" by The Cinematic Orchestra. Look up the video on youtube - and you'll see what I was seeing. This is my favourite spot in South East Queensland, Lake Moogerah. 

In winter, the most beautiful fogs roll through at sunrise, it's so peaceful and I have photographed for hours. This image is a single capture, but extrapolated into different layers, pushing some back, some forward and really using the qualities of my paperstock to add to the mood in the image.

 

...

And finally...

... 

#4 "The One" Landscape - Gold Distinction Award

This is the one that started it all. I wanted to show the beauty and simplicity of trees in fog, without needing to have any fog present at shooting. It was about having the paper quality create that subject separation for me. If you saw this image at Qld State awards, you'd remember a slightly older version, but it was about developing it further.  I poured and entire weekend into re-shooting this location, getting the trees right and making sure I had different trees to use in my composition.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I'd get a Gold award for it at QLD States, and then a Gold Distinction at APPA. 

It's reward for the amount of hours, reprints, sleepless nights and money spent on making this image the best representation in my minds' eye. 

As for strategy? I am still working in this space so it was my gamble that paid off. It was a risky move no doubt: - it could have so easily backfired on me. It's all risk, gamble and reward.

But what is life without risk?

It's boring, it's really really boring.

 

 

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 AIPP APPA Award Silver anxiety birds blog challenge depression distinction gold illustrative landscape melsinclair nikon photography portrait print silver travel trees http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/9/aipp-appa-2016-aka-mels-gamble Sat, 03 Sep 2016 13:02:53 GMT
Interim http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/8/interim  

This blog, on the outset is going to be vague and quick. Tiredness is something I’m not entirely mastering at the moment. I’m always surprised how it hits me, but 10 hours difference is night and day compared to what I’m used to.

It’s hard to say exactly what I’ve been up to, other than sitting around relaxing, camping in exotic places and losing myself and several hours of sleep per night, running around and taking photos.

The last week and a bit has blended into one big melted chocolate bar of fun, finally getting some colder weather and enjoying wearing fluffy fleeces and windproof wonders in the face of bastardly winds.

London was wholly a relaxing break after India, designed to let me nap, catch up on the essentials and get some personal admin work done. To this end there were few outings with my camera, and instead I attempted to understand Londons’ complex tube network, often with varying results.

I got into Iceland on Saturday afternoon, and was soon met by Josh and Jimmy, a mutual friend united by OOAK.

We first visited Snaefelsnes to do a fly-by of Budir church and Kirkjufell mountain before getting a ferry the next day from Stikkisholmur, to reduce some time driving the winding roads of the west. We were on our way to Dynjandi, a waterfall we had visited on our first trip, but didn’t make it back to the second time due to snow and avalanche risks.

From here we were after some northern lights action. Looking at the weather forecasts revealed that we were already in the right place, with cloud cover not forecast to affect us until later in the evening. Turns out it’s only taken 3 trips to Iceland to really get some awesome aurora shots. Funny that.

Now I’m back in Reykjavik and resting before the One of A Kind tour starts on the 1st of September. It’s going to be a nutso 10-days around the island, I only hope that I can teach someone something that they remember for a while. I’ve only ever wanted to impart some knowledge, so maybe this will be my chance.

As usual, here's a smattering of images from the last few days:

London Graffiti

Classic Big Ben

 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) aurora ben big blog dynjandi iceland landscape lights london melsinclair nikon northernlights photography travelling travelphotography westfjords http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/8/interim Tue, 30 Aug 2016 22:46:29 GMT
Curious http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/8/curious

The word ‘curious’ has been floating around in my head for a few days now, so I think it’s finally time for me to blog it out.

As you all know from reading my blogs, India has been both a great and an eye-opening experience. It’s not for all the first-world comforts that I miss, rather, the civil liberties to blend in and be relatively anonymous on the street. The need to be anonymous is a huge driver of my travel photography. I prefer to be a ‘watcher’ not a smiles photographer.

As photographers also, we know that a big part of coming to these countries for photography is a boon because we get to see scenes that we don’t in our home country. It’s the very nature of travel. But when you look at it from the perspective of an image-creator, the details are in your approach to it. You can’t always use a long lens and spy on people, sometimes you have to get into their faces and be rather persistent. It’s about capturing that ‘reality’ not the augmented one.

You’re telling a story, not making one up.

To be good at this caper, I think, one needs to be curious but also a little callous. You need to, of course, know when to use what skill. Actions transcend languages, so many people forget this simple concept. A smile is always a smile, a hand flicking at you is always ‘go away’, a thumbs up is always a good thing and I’m certain we could all find a toilet with a crossed-legs-panicked expression.

When the curiosity dies, as does your emotional connection to creation.

Since my curious shooting here has ended, I’m going to take the opportunity to share my favourite images from the India that I witnessed.

These are all preliminary edits, my finals will be done one I am back home with my bigger processing capabilities. 

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 India Rickshaw RickshawRun adventurists and australian black blog creative curious documentary explorative female kochi landscape melsinclair people photographer photography portrait shillong the travel travelphotography white http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/8/curious Sun, 21 Aug 2016 01:55:48 GMT
Highway of Endless thought http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/8/highway-of-endless-thought I’M REALLY OVER THIS COUNTRY TRYING TO TAKE A SELFIE WITH ME, TRY TO RUN THE TUK OFF THE ROAD AND THEN ATTEMPT TO GET AWAY WITH IT.

Throughout the last couple of days, India has really drummed into me, how lucky I am to live in Australia. Sure, things are massively more expensive than here, but the way of life, the social liberties and the cleanliness of our society is so much better than what it is here.

Road Rules.

Think about it for a second, rules of the road, enforced by police. What a luxury!

Don’t get me wrong, India has been a whirlwind; an overload of information, concepts and ideas. Simple things that we take for granted are luxuries in Australia; a cold drink, fresh ice cubes and pristine white beaches. So why the deep and meaningful?

For the last few days, we’ve been conquering the long, never-ending highways. The endless concrete landscape doesn’t offer up much for the budding landscape photographer, so there’s heaps of time to think and ponder.

I’ve been in India for nearly 3 weeks so far, and the sheer overload is exhausting. This is a visual overload, as well as mental. There’s things that they do here that we’d get in trouble for at home, and there’s other things that happen here that I wish happened at home, so that contrast is difficult to deal with at times.

So, what do I love, so far, about India:

Cheap price of food and massive variety and availability. Mind you, the variety changes from state to state, and sometimes there’s no room for fussy eating, it’s this or nothing. I can deal with that.

This place has heaps of potential for a serious photographer. I really want to come back sometime and do it properly. For the kind of the event that we’re doing, there just isn’t time to stop in some of the more beautiful places to really do them a justice. I see shots all the time that I want to take, but they’re going to have to wait until later.

What I (still) really don’t like:

How foreign tourists are like trading cards. Everyone wants a selfie with a tourist, probably so they can talk to their favourite grocer in the morning about the foreigners who were in town yesterday and here’s that photo. I don’t know why it annoys me so much, it just does. I really don’t like the extra attention that I get here at the moment. I’m just not that kind of person that can wave and say hello to everyone, I have to be in the right mood. Mostly though, it’s been a space invasion. They want photos with me but they don’t want me to take their photo.

If we in Australia treated tourists like that, it’d be frowned upon. But here, we’re trading cards, just another thing to be consumed by it all.

The scariest part of today has been driving the back roads.

They’re bumpy, badly kept and there’s no lines, meaning no strict enforcement of space and equality. So add to this, when a car goes to pass, the passengers notice that yup, we are indeed WHITE PEOPLE.

OH MY GOD!!!!

IT’S A WHITE PERSON, NO WAIT, THERE’S 3 OF THEM!!!

QUICK, GET A SELFIE!!!

And so they drive dangerously close to the tuk, verge in and get as close as possible, while still driving at 60kmh, regardless of whether they’re running us off the road, to try and take a picture. Of us. In our tuk. At speed. This has happened several times today, something of which should be water off a ducks back. But it’s not. It’s really, really getting to me because each time they do this, it puts our lives in danger because we’re in a tuk with no airbags, and they’re in their cushy air conditioned airbag sedan. We’re the animals on their safari.

This has also happened with motorbikes. They overtake, cut us off in attempt to drive us off the road, and then they stop motioning for pictures on the side of the road.

Two days ago, when driving from Chandipur Beach to Visaparatnam, a local Press/Media car tried to do the same thing. Over and over, overtake, cut us off, pull to the side of the road and try to get us to talk. They tried this for two times before driving far ahead, pulling to the side of the road, then running into our path when we passed by.

We told them we wanted to get chai, and so they led us on a wild goose chase into town. They found a restaurant and then in the most disorganised fashion, tried to organise us all in. Bevan refused to leave the tuk because our possessions were all still loaded up. Bev and I went in, and then we sat there, while they didn’t engage or talk with us, we just sat there, for 10 minutes in a busy café. Eventually, we got sick of this charade and got up to leave, they finally realised that the lack of communication probably was shooting them in the face, and brought us the chai.

Then, through disjointed Hindi and English we nutted out the basic details of our story. We still don’t think that they’ll get it right.

The Rickshaw Run is in its final few days as we prepare to get to Kochi after some final bits of sightseeing, all going well.

But, day after day we make it to the hotel ragged but alive, hungry but thankful that this is a holiday and not our way of life. 

When the speedo breaks, technology has your back!

Trucks have such intricate designs... here's the front of one

The chef

Highway scenery

Truckstop breakfast

The proud baker

Old lady outside a shop / on her street

Local baker making funnel cake

Got blessed by a guru. The gold spot is now gone, but Im not sure he brought us luck?

A whole family on a bike

Old man I photographed in Chatrapur

Market sellers / stallholders in Chatrapur

This one is for my pathologist mum... I thought she would get a kick out of how old fashioned it is!

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 blog chandipur chatrapur cultural differences highway india indiaadventure indiasomeday landscape melsinclair photography rickshaw http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/8/highway-of-endless-thought Sun, 14 Aug 2016 16:29:04 GMT
Short and Sweet: http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/8/short-and-sweet Short and sweet; that’s the phrase that best sums up today.

Forced by mechanical breakdown, our tuktuk was off the road until past 9am where waiting for a mechanic was the most excruciating thing ever. Our hotel staff at Hotel Orbitz were great, but definitely did not know the finer points of good service. We were not just waited on, we were babied-on. Someone was there to pour our water, someone was there to offer us more food, someone to get the food and someone to make sure the whole thing was running smoothly, even if it wasn’t.

We were glad once again to leave this “luxury” hotel by Indian standards, it was very disjointed and after several photos with hotel staff, we were off. It seems to be the norm here at the moment “A western tourist visited my shop or hotel” so they take selfies with you. It’s like we’re collectors cards. Since the day was short and sweet, so is this blog.

Not long after leaving and finding the right roads, we once again entered into this beautiful landscape of back roads, dirt tracks, big palm trees and copious rice fields.

It really makes you realise that life is not all about money and greed. One that a bank cannot take your happiness and it’s your choice how you deal with things. The world is bigger than a sense of time, and connection to the earth and your family and friends is worth more than the numbers you possess.

Not long after finding out roads, we got caught in another huge thunderstorm which once again opened the heavens above us and drenched us in soaking rain. Not a single part of the tuk was dry after going through this patch, it was all completely sopping.

Aside from the rain, it’s been such a fun day. I’ve really gotten used to the capabilities of the Nikon 20mm 1.8 in terms of candid shots. Got some funny ones today.

I was thinking of starting a series called “You carried WHAT, HOW?!”

Cover photo would be:

Below are some other shots from today!

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mel@melsinclair.com.au (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 candid india indiasomeday landscape melsinclair photography portrait rickshaw rickshawrun storm streetphotography theadventurists thunderstorm travelphotography tuktuk http://www.melsinclair.com.au/blog/2016/8/short-and-sweet Tue, 09 Aug 2016 14:54:30 GMT