Mel Sinclair Photography: Blog en-us (C) Mel Sinclair Photography (Mel Sinclair Photography) Thu, 06 Jul 2017 10:37:00 GMT Thu, 06 Jul 2017 10:37:00 GMT Mel Sinclair Photography: Blog 116 120 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.


]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2017 Nikon april cradle mountain platypus tasmania video Thu, 06 Jul 2017 10:36:35 GMT
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.


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.

]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2017 D750 Nikon Tasmania bay binalong blog eaglehawk fires gardens landscape melsinclair neck of pavement photographer photography sunrise sunset tesselated the Wed, 03 May 2017 11:31:57 GMT
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. 


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.


Trees and Buttongrass

Tentacle Tree (Snowgum)

Minimal rise (Rain and Snow)

Crater Falls (Lower cascades)



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!


]]> (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 Sat, 29 Apr 2017 09:44:57 GMT
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, 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


]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 benq blog calibrated calibration color display hardware i1display melsinclair monitor photography processing review tools utilities windows Tue, 27 Dec 2016 05:49:46 GMT
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.


]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 Musings blog creating inspiration melsinclair motivation muse photography writing Sun, 04 Dec 2016 01:57:09 GMT
Saved my Bacon! Some useful tools for Photographers with PCs

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 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

"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


"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)


"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.




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




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


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


"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.

]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) PC blog displayfusion hemmingway iexif melsinclair opanda photography recuva sentinel tools useful windows Wed, 05 Oct 2016 11:10:48 GMT
Why are we still asking: “What settings should I use?”

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.


]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) Musings blog cameraclubs casual clubs discovery education groups lessons meetup melsinclair photography practicality self settings shooting theory Wed, 21 Sep 2016 12:09:15 GMT
Just Iceland Pictures

]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 aurora blog iceland icelandlandscapes landscape melsinclair mynikonlife nikon northernlights oneofakind ooak photography photos seascape stokksnes sunrise sunset travelphotographer waterfall Wed, 07 Sep 2016 23:02:13 GMT
AIPP APPA 2016 aka "Mel's 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.




]]> (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 Sat, 03 Sep 2016 13:02:53 GMT

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


]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) aurora ben big blog dynjandi iceland landscape lights london melsinclair nikon northernlights photography travelling travelphotography westfjords Tue, 30 Aug 2016 22:46:29 GMT

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. 

]]> (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 Sun, 21 Aug 2016 01:55:48 GMT

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.




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!

]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 blog chandipur chatrapur cultural differences highway india indiaadventure indiasomeday landscape melsinclair photography rickshaw Sun, 14 Aug 2016 16:29:04 GMT
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!

]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 candid india indiasomeday landscape melsinclair photography portrait rickshaw rickshawrun storm streetphotography theadventurists thunderstorm travelphotography tuktuk Tue, 09 Aug 2016 14:54:30 GMT
Running Ragged Rickshaw Run – The fifth day.

Leaving Bhaglapur was one of the best things that we did today. Oh and shooting sunrise over the Ganges. Hotels really don’t understand much western reasoning. I think the weirdest thing is that most hotels aren’t quite completed before their rooms are put up at full price. It’s strange to us, but surprisingly normal here. There’s tax cuts for not finishing a building, so most places finish construction but leave a few key things like boardrooms or proper rooftops, unfinished.

It was the Hotel Charmayne Inn Bhaglapur. Sharing a building with a whitegoods shop. It looked swanky from the outside, but inside it was yet another collection of kitsch indian design and a low-rent budget. Camphor balls in the bathroom made it smell like a urinal, not-quite-complete tiling that was a little messy, but did the job. The thing I hate the most about indian bathrooms are the shiny tiles. They’re so freaking slippery especially when the act of showering involves filling a bucket, washing yourself with soap, and then tipping more hot water (or mostly cold) over yourself until you’re washed. This makes for an old-fashioned slip and slide on shiny tiles. Hope you like a split head.  Because a lot of the country live in abject poverty, those who have jobs make sure that they keep them. In most of these “pricier” hotels, you’ll find you have a staff member that does the things – this person will top up your water glass, offer you a new piece of Roti when yours has been eaten, even if the basket of bread is sitting right next to you on the table. No, you can’t take it yourself, someone is employed to put it on your plate. Same if you’ve finished eating but there’s still some curry in the bowl, “You haven’t finished it, you can’t be full, here ma’am, eat more, what about dessert?” The only way to say no is to walk away.

Knocking at the door at 11pm. Everyone wakes from their slumber in a groggy state, knocking again. Nope. Not dreaming this one. Bevan opens the door and there’s two staff there, “Water sir?” They woke us up to give us another bottle of water, which we will probably pay for.

It’s like being a baby again, except nobody will be there to wipe your bottom.

Mostly you’ll find strange drainage issues, leaky roofs and light switches that don’t do anything. It’s a good hotel if the electricity stays on constantly. Every town in India usually sees the power go out intermittently. Usually you’ll be going about your thing, washing your hair in a slippery bathroom, working on your laptop, trying to get 5% charge into your phone, or in my case, riding the elevator – when the goddamned power goes out!!!

It was at this point my heart stopped. The elevator was big enough for 3 people, it was dark, there was no call buttons and the doors opened between the floors. My heard began to race and just as I started to feel the panic creeping in, the power comes back on and the lift continues to the ground floor. After that I make a promise to myself not to take any more lifts in India and use the damn stairs. At least they don’t rely on power to operate.

India is not without its share of crazy festivals, the orange-dressed Shiva’s had taken over the streets on their month-long pilgrimage to the Ganges to celebrate monsoon – or something like that. Nobody could really accurately tell us what was happening in English. Our hotel manager had mastered the word “yes” and so this was his answer to everything. These crazy orange-cloaked people, about a million of them – that’s how many crazy mofos are on the road driving like they have nine lives. They’re a very loud and proud cult, not only by choice of Pantone shade of their garments, but by their presence.

They drove down the streets of Bhaglapur with several trucks stacked high with sound monitors. A sheer wall of speakers pumping some kind of trance-ish hindi EDM and them sitting right beneath it, for hours on end. No wonder they’re deaf. The music would have been rather enjoyable if it wasn’t forcibly shoved in my ears along with the medley of truck and bus horns, bikes and cattle all contending for a piece of road real estate.  It’s maddening and dangerous and requires the body to produce its own Red Bull in order to stay alert and watch your six.

When we finally got out of dodgy, we decided to take the road less travelled and less mapped. It was a left or right option. Right was on the map, as was left, but our road atlas only had left and google maps had right. We chose Right because the road was smaller, and there was less chance of being harassed by bus drivers whose only intent was to make us scared.

Because of this gamble, we ended up in some of the most serene landscape I have experienced thus far in India. Bizarrely, we found gum trees lining the road, palms and an expanseful landscape of rice fields and farmers grazing cattle. This went on for 70km or so, and by the time we got to the end of it, we had been hit by the same thunderstorm four times. Each time it pelted down roads and flooded the potholes. It was by now that our windscreen wiper had given up the fight and was merely a hood ornament designed to distract, it wasn’t serving a purpose. There were less trucks and heaps of crazy idiots stacked high on cars and dressed in orange.

It was a long day, but a mostly pleasant one. There were a couple of stories not really suitable for mentioning here, but in time I’ll release that if there’s enough interest.

There’s so many photos and yet so far to go. I’ll be definitely sorting photos for months after this trip. 

The tuk parked at the ganges view with locals.

Under the shade of a tree after escaping the crazy towns.

Ganges sunrise

Those orange guys shouting "walbum, walllllbummm, wallbum" or thats what it sounded like.

Chai is served in terracotta cups here. more hygenic and they throw them away. We kept ours though. They'll remind me of this city, always.

The open road and our glorious steed.

Chef cooking sweets

Rice farmers

The Lotus temple, with thunderstorm.


]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 India Nikon adventure adventurists august bhaglapur bihar blog charmaynne farm fuel giridih hotel indiasomeday inn liveoutsideyourcomfortzone lotus melsinclair orbitz photography quality rickshawrun roadtrip temple thunderstorm trees tuktuk whathaveigotmyselfinto Tue, 09 Aug 2016 03:12:08 GMT
Rickshaw Run Day 2, 3 and 4 Get comfy in your seat, make yourself a coffee or get the popcorn, ths is going to be a long post.

Oh my gosh internet, I am glad to see you!

The last few days have been bedlam, seeing me finish every single one in an exhausted heap. Where was I at? Did I tell you about waking up in the convent on the hardest beds imaginable? I imagine it’s akin to sleeping in prison – no comfort whatsoever. I had become convinced that even the floor would have more give in it than what would pass for a bed. Mind you, the room in the convent did look a little military, but it was a lovely night I guess, there was something about it that made it befitting of the first night of the Rickshaw Run – the randomness, the make-it-up-as-you-go and the stifled laughs.

We headed off early after sunrise and had a few KMs to drive through some stunning scenic wooded area of the East and West Garo hills. It is an area that is mostly in flood at the moment. Because it is so scenically beautiful, I would have loved to have spent more time capturing it, but alas we had to pursue onwards.  We had to cross the large river from Meghalaya into Assam, and get to the next major town before sunset.

As it turns out, the main highway connecting Meghalaya and the rest of India leaves a lot to be desired. It’s a two-sided carriageway by design, but only one and a bit of it is completed. Everytime there is a river, which is about every 50-100m, the road tapers off, turns to rough, course gravel, and you have to go head-on with crazy, manical bus drivers, truck drivers, motorbikes and cars. It’s dog-eat-dog out there, and only the equally crazy survive. In order to earn respect on these streets, you need to drive like them.

Also another thing, it’s customary here to honk or lean on your horn when passing another car. Its not a rude thing usually, it’s “I’m behind you and I want to overtake you.” That’s all well and good until you get the trucks and the buses who have the loudest, musical horns which just pierce you eardrums and almost paralyse you. Being meek and giving way will mean you will be stuck forever, until a roadtrain or bus comes up behind you and deafens you into the disability scheme. Annoyingly, they do this whether you have somewhere to go or not. If the traffic is at a standstill, they’re driving on the shoulder into oncoming traffic to get around.

Add the difficulty of the roads which are in incredibly poor condition. It’s not really a road by this time, in this state. It’s more of a goat track with the occasional splash of bitumen, added as an after-thought. Mostly the women end up doing road repairs and they’re just throwing gravel into the craters to fill them up. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. The potholes are meant to calm down the crazy truck drivers who are mostly high on a number of drugs not available where I’m from. Added that there’s no such thing as a speed camera or roadside drug testing over where, and well, it’s a rough place to be.

But wait, there’s more.

Because cows here are sacred, they’re allowed to go wherever they desire. The same goes with the goats and the dogs, the occasional pigs and sometimes you even find grain sellers drying out their maize in the slip lanes of major highways. The back of trucks ask you to “Obey the road rules” but one has to wonder, what the hell are they?!

This occurs on big roads and little roads alike. The tuk tuk is not suited to navigating the potholes that the trucks drive through like it’s just a speed bump. Often it’s a mix of all the rides at Dreamworld combined into a scary indian-inspired mix of terror and thrill.  Sometimes more terror, sometimes more thrill. It definitely makes a stiff drink at the end of the day well-earned and welcomed.

Monsoon has well and truly hit, we’ve been getting up early around 4:30am and departing the accommodation by 5pm in order to take advantage of the non-existent traffic and the fact that you can get a chai and an Aloo Paratha or Roti and pickle or something and something that looks like food, from any roadside stall along the way. Really starting to appreciate the breads made and cooked in the tandoor or in oil. However they do it, you get to eat it the second they come from the pan and so you know it’s fresh and isn’t going to give you any grief.

I’ve had some issues over the last few days, namely with dehydration. The temperatures down in the rest of India have been a little excessive, so I find myself really suffering in it. I’ve gotten a bit of heat rash which I’m treating and sometimes a sensitive stomach once I take my anti-malarials. The doxy has given me a killer tan this far, reminding me of how white-girl I was before I got here. My fitbit serves as a reminder of that, I have this really neat little tan.

Yesterday was the day that started out with so much promise. We left our hotel in Gossaigoan for Siliguri or Darjeeling. After getting lost on local roads and realising that we were nowhere near the tea terraces we had hoped for, we pulled over for fuel. Filling up was a bit of a drama, every motorcycle was gathered around a single pump. It was like lining up for a drink at a music festival. Sweaty, rude and not at all pleasant, we got our tank, plus two plastic jerrys filled up and we were off on our way.

For about 10 metres.

While trying to get back onto the road, our noble tuk splattered and stalled repeatedly, until we finally gave in and decided to park it to take a look.

Well, I have never seen anything like it. This is just a main road going through town, but somehow, all of a sudden this huge crowd of locals had gathered to watch what was going on. Its rubbernecking to the extreme, and something I’ll never ever get used to. So we’re clearly the whitest white folk that have ever broken down in their village, and we were the star attractions.

Mr Bev was at the back of the rickshaw tinkering, trying to figure out what was wrong. We had the wheels chocked with a rock, and while we were standing around wondering how we could help, we saw one team go past, this one had one of the camera guys for the documentary in it. We flagged them down and got them to stop. They were happy to keep us company on the long fix, filming sections of this insane crowd that had come to watch. At one stage, there were so many people that we caused a traffic jam. Trucks cruised past and blocked traffic to have a laugh about the silly westerners that had come stranded.

By far, one of the most weird things I have encountered so far, is the fascination with western travellers. This is most likely due to the fact that where we started in Shillong wasn’t a massive tourist hub like the south. They really love their selfies. REALLY love their selfies. So for the next two hours while Mr Bev was trying to get the problem sorted with the help of local mechanics, the endless line of selfies was a thing. The crowd stood there like cows on the road, no idea whether this is a professional sport or not. I’m getting rather tired of being looked at like a captive animal, no matter where we go, people stop and stare. Constanty.

Those who know me personally know that I don’t really get into this narcissistic hobby and couldn’t really give two shits about selfies. Problem is that Indian men and women really love taking selfies with foreigners, and multiple to make sure they turn out correctly. So far my most annoying one was the morning before the breakdown. We stopped to check on something, a local came in and took a selfie with each of the bevs, then saw me and kept snapping shots, each time putting his cheek harder against mine. Personal space invasion. It was disgusting.

So after two hours of a breakdown, we got back on the road with our friends Mitsy and Eamon who decided to join us in Siliguri for the night. Seeing Darjeeling had been dashed by the breakdown, we had to just continue on as there was not much more time to go and get accommodation before night set in. Finally we found a place, yet again with the rock-hard beds we had begun to loathe. There is simply no way to get comfortable on them.

And fast forward to today. After a really average sleep on our sack-of-shit beds, we headed to a local tea garden in Siliguri to capture the morning light over the tea fields, before heading south towards Purdina and the Ganges river to mark yet another day of travel well earned. We caught a couple of monkeys playing in the field and this in turn provided something different to photograph other than the landscape. I’ve been finding myself sliding more into the travel documentary style of image rather than a straight landscape. It’s refreshing and I’m embracing it.

It is becoming rapidly apparent that the further south we travel, the traffic just gets worse. The ballsy attitude that one needs to survive here needs to get tougher and the roads just become more congested. It’s a wonder that there isn’t a higher road toll, I simply cannot describe how scary it can be sometimes. It’s character building I tell you.

Crossing the Ganges bridge today was, by far, one of the craziest drives that we’ve had so far. It’s just like a puzzle piece, everyone has a place at a certain point in time, and you need  to be hypervigilant because one lapse of judgement could be bad. It’s about being so switched on that your eyes may as well be propped open with toothpicks, don’t you dare blink.

And now, after this crazy long time on the road filming and taking photos, were in Bhaglapur where we just happened to come across a Hindi celebration festival where there’s people riding around giant speakers on trucks blasting some traditional music. There’ some kids dressed in orange and white t-shirts with script on them, and they’re wet. I assume they’ve been bathing in the Ganges, this supposedly sacred body of water, with bodies in it.

And here's a smashing of images from the last few days!

]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 India RickshawRun blog conditions crowds dogs gardens highway in india indiasomeday maize melsinclair monkeys people photography quirksofindia quirky road strange tea theadventurists things travelyourway Sun, 07 Aug 2016 14:15:09 GMT
Rickshaw Run Day One! And we’re off! This out-of-this-world crazy adventure that we’ve undertaken has finally seen us depart Shillong and head into the hills with our common sense flung out the window the second we signed up for this journey.

We always knew that the Rickshaw Run would throw us some curveballs and the first day has proved no exception. We’ve driven 180 kilometres, at 30kmph through sun, wind and unrelenting pelting rain. We’ve run out of fuel twice, by design not by accident, and we’ve waved and shaken hands with so many people who think the circus has come to town.

It is with that free will that we set off from Shillong this morning, full of hopes and dreams, knowing the road would surprise us. We knew that we didn’t have our first night sorted out, that was left up to chance and our inventiveness in finding lodging preferably with a roof. We ended up in Shallang before daylight ran out, in need of accommodation and having an entire village laughing at us for our foolishness. I’ve still got to get used to the stares from locals when we stop in a town, the confused looks and glee from small children.

We asked and asked, both in Nangshoin around midday and then again in Shallang. No guesthouses. But there was a Cathloic Convent.

So, we’re staying at a Convent tonight. In Shallang.

Father Bartholomew was ever so gracious to take us in, the alternative of which was looking like a roadside hayshed or asking a family if we could sleep on their floor. After some of the best Chai I’ve ever had, some jackfruit crisps and talked about the area.

He then agreed that we could stay here, and showed us our rooms.

It was gods’ will that we would be here tonight, perhaps the chance I have to make a change in my life, but we will see. I’m staying at the convent, having a Gin and Juice on the back porch with the mozzies, thinking that life is great and that this is going to be the most pious 12hrs of my life.

We’ve got dinner with the congregation tonight at 8pm, we’re hoping that we can break it to them that we’ll be leaving at 5am. Else there might be a service. Dunno.

Life is about adventures, and this is most certainly one of those.

Day one done and dusted, it can only get more interesting from here.

Here's the images from Today

At a servo just outside of town, first fuel stop on the open road

At the starting line

Stunning country scenes

We drove into the storm

About to drive into the storm, again

Basic lodgings at the Convent. Better than sleeping beside the road!


]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 assam assamsomeday blog d2bhealthy gosssaigaon india indiasomeday landscape meghalaya melsinclair ontheroadagain photography rickshawrun roadtrip shallang shillongtokochi theadventurists Fri, 05 Aug 2016 13:59:57 GMT
Behind the tourist face It’s getting very real now.

We saw the rickshaw yesterday and she’s a beaut! Some final touches and she’ll be totally ready for this crazy caper. More teams are arriving and one by one we’re starting to all get to know each other. After all, there’s a fair chunk of us all staying in the same guest house and fighting over the same wifi.

These next few days in Shillong are all about getting to know the Rickshaw, how it drives, how to fix it when it breaks (because it will) and making it as homely as possible before getting real acquainted with the Indian backstreets and highways.

I’ve had my first reaction to food thus far, not because it was bad food – the bevs ate the same plate as I did and they weren’t sick – so I put it down to the complex flavours that were in the dishes. Last night was made particularly unpleasant by one of the neighbours of this guest house. A man who is clearly very sick by the tone of his deep soul-choking cough, unrelenting morning, noon and night. I feel sorry for him because it must be hell to live like that, but that’s how it goes around here. Accept it or don’t – but it’s easier just to accept that you can’t help everyone.

There’s some complex begging going on in the main streets of the Police Bazaar (one of the main “malls” if you want a western comparison. It’s not simply a very poor person rattling a cup. They do that, but it’s the ones targeted at tourists, in particular female tourists that really makes my skin crawl. I was forewarned about it, but it’s just so low that I couldn’t ignore explaining it here.

Here’s how it works:

A woman will come up to you cradling a very young baby. It’ll be wrapped in her sari, or it will be concealed. She’ll show you the poor little baby with big eyes and she’ll ask you to buy for formula to feed her baby. She’ll take you to a local seller, pharmacy or some sort of corner store that sells it. She’ll try to con you into buying multiple tins/boxes. You pay for however much she cons you into buying. She’ll be very thankful and appreciative. When you leave, she’ll go back to the store right away, and return it. The shopkeeper will be in on this scam. He will take a cut from the return and give the beggar a percentage of the returned money. He then gets to restock the item on the shelves. From here, the scam continues.

The baby gets none of this, still living a continuing cycle of poverty and malnourishment.


Anyway, there’s been some strange things we’ve seen here on the streets, in the markets as well.

We’ve seen a haul of pigs arrive to the market in a share taxi. I’ve seen a live chicken killed and prepared for sale. We’ve scoured markets for packaged items that are in-date. We’ve eaten some delicious food in some delicious restaurants that cost us no more than AUD $2.50 to feed the 3 of us until we were stuffed. The oddities keep coming, but that is the way it is around here we’re told. Perfectly imperfect India.

Anyway, here’s another image haul that  I posted on Facebook yesterday.


Two pretty photos first, then the real ones begin. Don't say you weren't warned.

Building scaffolding. This is safety in action.

No part of an animal is wasted. A local butcher carves meat at Bara Bizaar.

Nikon shops everywhere!

An edit of Bev standing at the end of an alley.

A man works in his Laundry using an old-fashioned coal-powered iron.

Beef is sold at a backstreet butcher. Lights are powered by car batteries. There is no cooling, meat is cut and sold.

Pork is sold at a backstreet butcher. This is common and completely normal.

A man rests next to a fruit merchant, downtown Shillong.

Recycling in action. You drink the soft drink at the shop and deposit the bottle in the crate at the same shop.

Lime is mixed with betel nut and chewed. The lime is commonly rubbed on walls like chewing gum is for us.

]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 India beggars blog butchers fruit landscape markets melsinclair merchant photographer photography rickshaw run scams shillong shopping someday somedays the travel tuktuk Mon, 01 Aug 2016 02:04:46 GMT
Archery If someone had said to me a year ago that Archery is a sport – nay – a way of income for the Assamese people, I’d have never believed you. This afternoon we headed down to the Shillong Polo Club to see the daily Archery being played. Initially standing in the public area looking very much like tourists, we soon found our groove and were treated like royalty by the organisers. Tourists are uncommon in those parts. History which has drifted from Nepal and Bhutan into this region of India, has brought this ancient sport back to the fore. It is a means of income for many, and a source of addiction, just like any gambling is.

 It’s a special thing to see though; men and boys squat low with a handmade bow and a quiver of unique arrows. Over a few minutes, hundreds of arrows are flung at a straw target.

To bet on this sport, one has to guess the number of arrows in the final target, out of 100, but only down to the last two digits. Today’s round one total came to 759, so 59 was the winning number. Second round had 612 arrows in the target, so the winning number was 12. You get to pick as many numbers as you like for a set fee.

There is beauty in the detail of this sport, so I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.


Many archers wait to start the round.


















An archer sorts and checks his arrows before the next round.


















The crowd watch the counting of the final number of arrows


















Officials count and double check the final amount of arrows that landed in the target.

















An archer checks the integrity of his arrows.



















Officials continue to sort and count the final number, starting with a pile.

















Arrows in the target



















Archers wait for the next round to start


















An archer lines up his shot


















The bookie watches all official proceedings, even helps with the final tallies


















My lucky numbers?! Not so lucky, but oh well.

]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 India and archery assamsomeday betting black blog indiasomeday melsinclair nikon photoessay photography shillong travel travelsomeday white Sat, 30 Jul 2016 14:46:33 GMT
Nooks and Crannies Since getting into Shillong a few days ago, some things have become very apparent:

  1. The internet is a fickle beast, you get a good few minutes, and then it falls off. Rinse and repeat. Too bad if you’re lost… I wish I’d brought a compass right now.
  2. There is no standard for electricity wiring. So long as it gets there. Watch your head when you walk if you’re tall…
  3. There’s no such thing as a bin on the streets for all your waste or recycling…
  4. There’s rarely lines on the road. It’s a free for all.
  5. They don’t shower. They fill a bucket and then tip it all over themselves, the bathroom floor, the toilet, their dry clothes…
  6. Butchers are street vendors WITHOUT electricity in most cases. Hence why I’m going to be vegetarian here.
  7. This is life, in its rawest of functions. Embrace it because else the realisations will cripple you.
  8. They don’t have a system where you can dial a taxi from your phone. You have to hail one the old fashioned way. Even if that means running into traffic and catching them like Pokemon.
  9. They get up late. It’s like Melbourne.
  10. There’s no “grocery” stores. It’s all markets. Each nook or cranny has its own speciality. It’s like going on a treasure hunt, all the time.

There’s many more, but I won’t list them all. I realise I’m a little behind on pictures, so I’ll dedicate the rest of this post to catching you up on what I do best.







]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) 2016 alleys assamsomeday bara bizaar blog butcher india indiasomeday landscape market meghalaya melsinclair photography police pork quirks shillong streets travelphotography travelyourway vegetables Sat, 30 Jul 2016 01:43:25 GMT
Double Decker Living Root Bridges They say that you make a few inspirational trips in your life, a few that stick with you. I think today was one of those days. I now have this amazing appreciation for the hard workers around India, the mothers, fathers, children and their way of life. How incredibly fit these people are, I was lost for words, several times…

Not many people had heard of this wonderful part of the world, and not many photographers from Australia had photographed these living, breathing and bridges that are totally alive, thanks to the power of nature and a few ingenious folk of the region. Each of these bridges takes at least 15 years to bring to fruition, and most are over 50 years old to even support human weight. We watched the old man pull up the new dangling growths and entangle them into the existing part of the bridge. It was one of those moments where the penny dropped "well DUH of course that's how they're made!"

They’re so grand, you hear about them when you read about the region, but seeing them – and the only double-decker living root bridge in the world, nothing prepares you for how cool and how beautiful it is. Lush green and moist forest, surging pale-turquoise water rushes over the largest boulders I’ve ever seen. The smell of earth is intoxicating, the purity of oxygen takes you to a dizzying high. It’s all just overwhelming.

Walking across the bridges is a cooee back to childhood. It’s like the very best treehouse you ever had, times a million. There’s a playful innocence, an adventurous wonder and a bit of blind faith put into crossing these amazing bridges. They blend in so perfectly with their surroundings – after all, they’re just trees.



















To get there though, that’s the tough part. You can take a car to the starting point of the walk, from there, it’s 1600 steps down to the junction where you choose which bridge you want to see. If you choose the Double-Decker Living Root Bridge – the only one of its kind in the world, you’re signing yourself up for easily another 1000 steps, a couple of suspension bridges and passing through some amazing little villages along the way. If you choose the long root bridge, you’re taking a bit of an easy way out, this one is pretty straightforward, but I think is one of the prettiest, besides the double.

These bridges are well worth the efforts, just make sure you have some sturdy legs for a 2-hour near vertical ascent of steps when you finish. 

I was suffering for my art... and it hurt, I just hope I did the location its best.

Because we've been off the air for a few days, I'm going to finish this post with some of the candid moments from the last few days, seeing as we've been missing some decent internet. It's good sometimes, but it comes and goes. Really makes you appreciate the fast internet we have at home...

<EDIT: Im going to have to get back to you on that one... it's crashed again...>

]]> (Mel Sinclair Photography) blog guwahati india indiasomeday livingrootbridge meghalaya melsinclair people photography shillong travel Thu, 28 Jul 2016 13:01:21 GMT