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St Andrews to Healesville Via King Lake (with video)

Went up to St Andrews market today… and like my previous trip into bushfire affected areas this was another pleasant surprise and a shock all bundled into one trip.

The market and St Andrews township itself survived with the wind change arriving barely in the nick of time to save the area. Like Marysville the market was busier than I had ever seen it and bustling with life and the markets usual crowd of eccentrics and hippies. I spent way to much at the market on the lovely fresh food, something clothing and a nice bottle of wine as well. Then we did the drive up the Mountain to King Lake. (I will put photos up later on Flickr)

St Andrews to Healesville Via King Lake (48min compressed to 6min)

The Route – 46k

View Larger Map

But I don't have all the gear…

The Crossing

Exposure:  5s
Aperture: f/13.0
Focal Length: 18 mm
Exposure: +0.35
ISO Speed: 400

So you have a giant bag of stuff and twenty different lens’, 40 different filters and countless other accessories for the camera and you are lugging them around with you…. but why.

Today’s shot for example… was taken with the D90, with the following equipment the 18-55mm VR Kit Lens, the standard battery and a 52mm filter… nothing more. To compensate for the lack of a tripod and the fact it is a 5 second shot I placed the camera on the ground on the kerb, and held it down with one hand and used my other to trigger the shutter.

I was waiting for the crossing signals to go… so I had already seen the shot… but using no fancy expensive equipment (bar the camera that is :-)) I took advantage of the environment to give me an interesting angle and what I felt was a much better shot. A tripod shot is never going to get a low and have the dramatic foreground that I ended up with.

The technical data of the shot is there as well… all that I did was set the camera to Shutter Priority Mode (S) on the dial and thumb wheel (the back dial) to 5″ to set the 5 second exposure length.

Even the geotagging was done in Flickr… I knew where I was when I took the shot, so just added that later as well.

So sometimes it does help not to have all the baggage you might just get a better shot for it.  (but I still want the gear on my list…. before my wife says no you don’t need it…. for other projects)

Return to Lake Mountain (photos/video)

Burnt ForestI finally managed to get up to Lake Mountain yesterday 12 months since I’d last got up that way and 5 months after the Black Saturday fires.

As people are most probably aware I did a bit of work on covering the fires at the time due in part to my  understanding of the area and interest in weather, yet 5 months later I will still left with a sinking feeling as I drove through the region.  The grass has all grown back in the valley and the Black Spur has a lot of regrowth already but that doesn’t prepare you for what you see from Narbethong onwards.  The devastation is complete.  The forest is nothing more than barren sticks stretching skywards and the smell of ash still lingers in the air.

Stopping at Marysville there is both hope and despair.  The town was virtually wiped of the map.  Yet with only a few buildings remaining the spirit of the town has survived.  Never have I see the town so busy with people coming and going.  The long lines at the bakery and the overflowing CFA donation bucket show that people are returning and are helping the community.  Yes, and even I was one of them, the vast majority of people I saw had cameras around their necks taking happy snaps of the destruction.  I only took a few photos in town, stopping as it felt wrong for me to take photos of the misery and destruction for no real purpose.

Perhaps I am being overly sensitive as well, but letting your 10y/o kid run around a town that has had so much tragedy and suffering with a toy gun that screamed “fire  fire” which could be heard a block away is bad form of the utmost as well.  Not one resident of Marysville wouldn’t be deeply impacted on by those events and yet his kid with a toy gun were more important to him.

On leaving Marysville I then did the drive to Lake Mountain.  A road I have travelled many times, yet this road was different.  The enclosed feeling of driving through the forest was gone replaced with landscape that looked not to dissimilar to photos from the Tunguska Event. The devastation was complete. The obvious heat of the fire that consumed everything in its path is awe inspiring and humbling at the same time.

Snowy Wombat

Lake Mountain is still there, and like Marysville I’ve never seen it so busy.  And like Marysville it doesn’t look like the same place such as the destruction. The wombat I saw showed that life survived, I am sure however that the wombat must be living on food drops and there was no regrowth on the top of the mountain at all.  Most of the walking trails are still closed and the contrast of the white snow and blacken stumps is striking both in its beauty and it is fullness.

It was both a very sad experience and an empowering one seeing this first hand.  I do recommend that people return to these places… but don’t just go and take happy snaps. Stop and buy some food at the Bakery, put your change in the donation bin.  Take the kids to Lake Mountain to play in the snow, but remind them what happened in these places. It is too important to forget.


Here is the Drive from Healesville to Lake Mountain… Approx 50 minutes of drive compressed to 6min, 50k distance.

for a comparison… see this blog entry from last year.

The route:

View Larger Map

Please vote for my Image :-)

I have entered my Eureka in Winter Photo into the Jetstar Photocomp in the Landmarks Category.  If you click on the image you will go to the Jetstar Photo Competition page for this image where you can vote on it

Please vote for this image in the jetstar photo com

Please vote for this image in the jetstar photo com

This is one of those images that comes from always looking for a photograph and having your camera on you at all times.

Taken at lunch time two days ago I noticed the buildings around me reflected in the puddles from the showers Melbourne had.  However this took a few min just to get the composition just right.  Firstly there was the issue with the leaves causing ripples and distorting the reflection to much and then there was the issue of getting the angle just right.

So here is the one thing I did in photoshop….  I rotated the image 180degress.  I could have stood on the other side of the puddle and tried to keep my reflection out of the shot…  but I didn’t I took the easy way out and flipped it.  This image on Flickr also has some colour treatment but the rules of the comp I entered said no photoshop work so the fully colourised version is what I entered.

Exif Data:-

Exposure:  0.008 sec (1/125)
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 34 mm
ISO Speed: 200

Taken with my 18-200mm Sigma Lens.

Anyway… please vote …

Timelapse with the D90

Or I could have called this what can go wrong will go wrong.

I thought I would outline some of the details of how I made the Sketch of a cup video.


  • Nikon D90
  • 18-55mm VR lens kit lens.
  • Asus R2h Umpc
  • Nikon Camera Control 2.3.0
  • Spare Battery

The Nikon D90 does not have an interval timer function (D300/D700 do) so the only accurate way to do this is to run the camera from the computer.  The software was setup to take a  shot every 2 seconds.

Selected Exif Data:

Model – NIKON D90
Software – Camera Control Pro 2.3.0 W
ExposureTime – 1/20 seconds
FNumber – 4.50
ISOSpeedRatings – 400
ExposureBiasValue – 0.00
MaxApertureValue – F 4.00
MeteringMode – Multi-segment
LightSource – Auto
Flash – Flash not fired, auto mode
FocalLength – 24 mm
ColorSpace – sRGB
ExposureMode – Auto
White Balance – Auto
FocalLengthIn35mmFilm – 36 mm
Lens type – 234881024
Lens – 840
Noise Reduction – OFF

Now the what went wrong….

The first two drawings the camera was all set up and still managed to get to much of Cat in the drawing so you couldn’t see it.  The Software crashed everytime I stopped the shooting process.  I put this more down to the R2H being a bit long in the tooth these days.

Then there is the final drawing the one that features in the video…

Halfway through the shot the main light we had set up for the shot blew. (you can see this on the video) which meant I had to stop the camera.  Which lead to another software crash and me touching the camera. (To swap battery)  You will notice that after the light blub change the angle changes just slightly.  And that angle change also introduced a bounce into the shots.  The camera was at the very extent of the tripod meaning that I had now introduced a small bounce between frames.

Post processing was done as a batch conversion in Irfanview to down-sample the jpg’s (1194 of them)  from 2144×1424 300dpi to 720×478 72dpi

Then I used AnimatorDV Simple+ to compile the Jpg’s into an AVI format.  This was then set to encode at 10fps so that the video was long enough.

However you can see the end result is still pretty good.  Next time we do this these lessons will be taken into account and I will write another post about what goes wrong with that shot.

And here is the video….

Why VR/OS/IS Matters

Click for full size

I really do need to write more about my camera and what it does… so here is the first post in what I hope will be many on using my camera.

Firstly yes I have a Nikon D90 and I love it. But the title you will see covers all the other lens’ and cameras as well. In the nikon world it is called VR, Canon IS and Sigma OS, call it what you will but it is a modern day miracle as far as I am concerned.

Look that specs of this shot… (this is the jpg version of the shot taken straight from the camera) Taken in the Auto No Flash Mode on the dial.

Exposure: 0.2 sec (1/5)
Aperture: f/4.0
Focal Length: 24.5 mm
ISO Speed: 1600

Now the most impressive thing about this is that it was HAND HELD. Yes I could hand hold a shot at 1/5th. I was very lucky that the people I was photographing stood very still as it this length of shot any movement tends to blur people.

Imagine taking shots like this without a flash capturing the colourings and lighting of the environment without distracting the subject with bounce flashes or red eye reduction. The other setting I had changed was to turn off the focus assist light as well.

So if you are thinking do I really want to spend the extra money on VR/OS/IS, the answer is in this shot. Yes.

The Oz goes twitter bashing.. misses the point AGAIN.

(yes I know I do need to work on this blog more….)

The Australia runs a story (well o.k, they don’t have any journo’s left so the run a wire story) about Twitter, bashing it again… this time with the none to provocative headline of “Twitter useless as public opinion gauge” (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25590556-12377,00.html)

Whilst I am sure others could go into a lot more detail… this is just a short rant about what a load of crock the article is.

10% of the numbers of people using twitter generating 90% of the content is a shit load of people actually (if 2 million people alone are following one celb!).  And the number is higher than a lot of blogs and newspapers anyway on how much public opinion they actually get.

A quick look at the The Age poll page for example gives you a real highlight as to user numbers. I will take the big leap and presume that the numbers interacting with The Australian and The Age are even within 50% of the same… have a look at the voter numbers on this page http://www.theage.com.au/polls/sport/form2.html

THE BIRD : What punishment should Ben Cousins receive for his one-finger salute?
A fine – 24%
Suspension – 12%
Nothing – 63%
Total Votes: 651 Poll date: 31/05/09

Striking decision : Are Sydney right to suspend Barry Hall from the club?
Yes – 40%
No – 60%
Total Votes: 5 Poll date: 07/07/08

WISHFUL THINKING : Should the AFL abandon its plans to establish a second Sydney team in the next four years?
Yes – 85%
No – 15%
Total Votes: 1233 Poll date: 04/02/09

So less than 10% of the readers of The Age are giving their opinion…. Come on Oz, lift your game, or should we just do a poll on how many people actually read the paper…..