During six mornings over summer I visited Brighton Beach in Melbourne, Australia, around Green Point and Jim Willis Reserve. Many species of native birds frequent the remnant coastal vegetation in the sand dunes along Brighton Beach, taking shelter in the dense undergrowth, or feeding on the many plant species available. The beach is famous for the Brighton Bathing Boxes, though keep an eye out and you’ll spot the well renowned Blue Wren at Brighton Beach. The collection is far from exhaustive, as many species are more seasonal, nocturnal or harder to spot. Though this brightly coloured rainbow lorikeet is one of the loudest and easiest to spot birds to visit Brighton Beach during summer.
The Royal Melbourne Regiment Drill Hall is a restored Moderne style hall in the City of Melbourne, originally constructed in 1937. I’d visited the building once before, more than twenty years ago, when the building was still in use by the Australian Defence Force. Since then an eight storey residential building was also constructed on the site, sensitively restoring the existing façade and drill hall.
During Open House Melbourne 2016 I had the privilege to visit the East Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, and catch up with my friend Rabbi Dovid Gutnick. This was a challenging building to photograph, capturing the full dynamic range from the dark wooden pews to the beautifully detailed stained glass windows. Blending the exposures resulted in plenty of ghosting as people moved around. The final images tone down the bright lights and windows, though bring out all the fine details this charming building has to offer.
Last week I went to Open House Melbourne, after missing last year’s event. The first building I visited was Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. Although it might not look it, pictured here is the older of the joined buildings on the site in Parkville. It’s amazing what some new cladding and a refurbishment can do. The institute was established in 1915 by Eliza Hall, shortly after the death of her husband, Walter Russell Hall. Hosting more than 750 medical researchers, it’s the oldest medical research institute in Australia.
A clear night with the moon its fullest close to midnight provided optimal conditions to photograph the total lunar eclipse. An improvement over other recent eclipses, it’ll be years until the next total lunar eclipse will be visible from Melbourne. With a red colour reminiscent of Mars and an exposure that also captures background stars, it makes for a stunning sight.
For the third consecutive year I attend The Midsummer Faerie Rade in Melbourne hosted by Golden Owl Productions. The clouds parted and the sun shone down as mystical creatures gathered from all corners of the city. This culminated in a delightful cornucopia of goblins, imps, sprites, dark fae, elementals and fantasy creatures adorned in their finest garb with streamers and flags, bubbles and bells, flutes and fancies. The rade processed to Parliament for photos on the steps. Shortly after I left the rade, the day a little more cheerful.
Last weekend I travelled to Nagambie and stayed at the nearby Goulburn Weir Holiday Units, overlooking the Nagambie Lakes. Being relatively isolated, it was a scenic and tranquil location, and with skies dark enough for astrophotography. I captured hundreds of shots throughout the weekend, though my favourite was just before dawn, capturing both the blue sky and the stars, including the Milky Way, Magellanic Clouds and a shooting star, over the calm waters.
I wasn’t expecting to see much of the eclipse, given the cloudy evening, and during the previous lunar eclipse a little haze and the bright sky prevented much from being seen until far too late. So while these shots are a little hazy, they still turned out relatively well.
Usually the moon is very bright, making it almost impossible to expose for the moon and the stars in the same shot. Thanks to the earth blocking most of the Sun’s light getting to the moon (like a giant red neutral density filter) a lunar eclipse is a rare opportunity to photograph the moon and stars in the one shot.
For the past few years I’ve entered the Open House Melbourne photography competition, and the past two years I was fortunate enough to win the Series category. This year I was hoping to make it three years in a row, with a series of photos of the new Architecture Building at The University of Melbourne. Instead I was awarded Highly Commended, breaking the streak.
I was however delighted to win the Interior category with a photo of the State Chair in the Ballroom at Government House, and a second Highly Commended, for another shot of the Architecture Building. My best result so far in the competition, so I’m happy with that, especially considering the number of entrants. And carefully using a tripod for the Architecture Building shots, I shot Government House handheld.
For a prize I received a gift certificate to Architext, a bookshop associated with the Australian Institute of Architects. I chose Beautiful Ugly: The Architectural Photography of John Gollings by Joe Rollo. Gollings has a very similar style of photography to me and uses identical gear, though his nearly half a century of experience working in the industry is something I continue to learn from.
Visiting East Melbourne with Alberto Massignan we photographed inside St Patrick’s Cathedral, practicing wide angle architectural photography. With the sun shining low and bright through the stained glass windows it gives the old church an ancient and hallowed feeling.
Photographing churches can be a challenge with the wide angles, dark corners, bright windows, extremes of lighting colour and just the sheer scale. Care needs to be taken to ensure the shots are accurately lined up and focused, and not disturbed during exposure. And even more time goes in to processing the photographs; not to imitate reality, to make the images appear the way they feel.