Friday, October 17, 2014

A Cracking Half Century for Canberra's Iconic Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Burley Griffin Canberra

An artificial lake in the middle of the nation's Capital is turning 50 and I feel like I can't let that landmark go by without giving my perspective on this wonderful place. I've fallen in love with Canberra in the 8 years I've been here now. It's a town that stirs emotion when you tell people you live there, but I delight in being able to snap off dozens of reasons it's the sleeping giant of 'places to visit' in this country. (Although perhaps not so sleeping with some of the press it's gotten lately!)

Lake Burley Griffin Canberra

One of the most photographed locations in this town's history would quite comfortably be Lake Burley Griffin and you can put my hat in that particular ring also. Looking through my photos of Canberra, photos of LBG far outweigh photos of any other location. And for good reason in my opinion. No matter how many places I trek to find the next shot I can never quite better my favourites from the lake. I love it down there.

Lake Burley Griffin Canberra

It gives a landscape photographer exactly what you'd want for an amazing shot. There's foreground interest, background interest, always incredible skies and more often than not some activity happening in or around it. Perfect. The best part is the way it sits gives perfect shots of the sunrise and sunset which I'm particularly fond of!

Lake Burley Griffin Canberra

It's had its controversies over the years and I'm sure it'll evolve more over the next 50 years but Walter Burley Griffin's contest design is a thing of beauty. Wether you're looking up at the National Carillon or doing the popular 'bridge to bridge' walk/run it's hard not to be impressed with its size and charm. Go a little further and you can find places like the Black Mountain Peninsula which is a particularly treasured spot of mine for a lovely sunrise!

Lake Burley Griffin Canberra

A more recent addition to the Canberra family has been the National Arboretum and I'm yet to find a spot more impressive than on the opposite side across the lake. The Arboretum is quickly becoming a family favourite but also a magnet for photographers too. I love shooting it but the angle looking across the lake remains my most liked Canberra landscape. Two of the best features of the town in one shot. Magnificent.

Lake Burley Griffin Canberra

The two bridges across LBG are almost as photographed as the lake itself and are another location I find myself revisiting when I'm after a nice shot. They're popular amongst the fitness community and there isn't a day that you cross them that you won't see joggers puffing there way contently across.

Lake Burley Griffin Canberra

Many an animal also calls the lake home, from swans and the odd seagull (I've never understood that one) to the fiercer and often times more vocal 'rowers of the lake'. It always impresses me the dedication of these people even in the depths of the coldest mornings they are out there on the foggy lake rowing away. I've tried it a few times now but I think I'm happy to stick to the summer weekends when I don't have to risk frostbite in order to have some fun.

Lake Burley Griffin Canberra

Lake Burley Griffin Canberra

It's hard to have a photos of LBG without the iconic Black Mountain Tower and combing the two has been a particular challenge of mine over the last 12 months. They make a great combination and I think I've probably got another dozen or so shots left in me of these two.

Lake Burley Griffin Canberra

Lake Burley Griffin Canberra

Lake Burley Griffin Canberra

When you manage to score 4.5 stars on Tripadvisor you know you must be doing something right! It's a little weird wishing a man made object a happy birthday but it's got a special place in my heart so Happy Birthday Lake Burley Griffin! I'll eat an entire cake just for this occasion. I'm nice like that.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is the Loch Ness Monster actually in Australia?

Loch Sport Victoria Australia Photography

The hunt for Nessie. That's what I called my trip to the tiny Victorian town of Loch Sport. As I drove the 7 hours from my home all I could think about were rumours of the sightings locals told me about. There was always a smirk on their faces as they told me to look out for the monster. A nod between them as I said I'd do my best gave me pause but I couldn't wait to get started. 

The drive there proved to be fatal as I swung around a sharp bend an hour out from Loch Sport. It was just before midnight and while I was getting sleepy I felt like I was more alert because I knew I needed to be. I was doing 20kms under the speed limit and had my eyes peeled for any movement to the sides of the road. It was pitch black and I'd been warned to look for wildlife. Especially after dark. Coming out of the bend I saw the tiniest of movements that made me slam on the brakes. It was too little too late for one half of the coat of arms as I smashed into a startled looking Kangaroo. It's not the first time I've had the displeasure of running in to the unofficial mascot of my home country and it will probably not be the last. I drive a lot at night and this is an unfortunate product of mixing that with the nocturnal habits of these adorable animals. There was no chance for Skippy and as I pulled over I knew there wasn't much more I could do. I made sure to check but there was no movement and I knew he was a goner. I checked for a joey and luckily there was none. A little rattled I gathered my thoughts and got back on the road. It was an even slower drive the rest of the way but I made it in one piece. The next morning I'd go on my hunt for the Monster of Loch Sport. 

Loch Sport Victoria Australia Photography

If there's one thing this place isn't short of it's amazing places to watch the sun rise. If anyone knows anything about me, it's that I like to rise early and get a shot of the sunrise. My thought is if I can start the day looking at something as beautiful as this then my day almost has to be good. Try being in a bad mood after you stand in this spot and see this. 

I was told to look just on sunrise and sunset for the Monster but the morning would prove to be futile. I drove around searching but came up with nothing. Not even a new lead. I'd heard about the 90 Mile Beach that happened to be walking distance from where I was staying so I decided that would be my stop to ponder my failed morning. I caught up with a fisherman who didn't mind explaining that while he hadn't caught a thing he was having a grand old time. I mentioned what I was here for and he told me I should head to his favourite spot on the lake. Excellent! Complete with a massive grin he tossed the line once again into the surf but never got more than some seaweed. It was relaxing and took my mind off the task at hand but the moment I was done there I went back to it. 

Loch Sport Victoria Australia Photography

My next stop was The Lakes National Park. While I thought it was unlikely to find 'Nessy' in here I knew there'd be a lot to see. I even met some more Kangaroos, but this time I was traveling a lot slower and there happened to be a Joey too! I stood and took some shots and got closer and closer. Eventually they decided I'd gotten close enough and hopped off to find some area that was less inhabited by excited humans. 

Loch Sport Victoria Australia Photography

As dusk began to fall I knew it was my next opportunity to become famous. With camera gear in hand I set off to the fisherman's spot. The sun started to set and I had my eyes and lenses scanning the area. I saw movement in the water and my excitement began to build. Was this it? On my first day here? I looked out and saw a head emerge from the still water. I began to take photos in anticipation. As my heart beat faster I looked up from behind the camera to see a fish poke its head out (and I swear wink at me) and duck back down just as quickly. Shattered I took some shots of the setting sun and made my way forlornly back to my room. It wasn't as easy as I'd thought!

Loch Sport Victoria Australia Photography

The next day turned out to be exactly the same as the first. I rose earlier than any other normal human would and made my way to a third spot. I looked out at an amazing sunrise but again saw no movement other than some cheeky birds who decided they could walk on water. I called them Jesus Birds. 

Loch Sport Victoria Australia Photography

The night would prove to to just as futile as the previous. Another spot, another failed sighting. Now I was worried. I only had one more morning in this place before I had to head back to get ready for another trip to another part of the country. It wasn't for a lack of trying, but I was beginning to think it wasn't going to be. I went to bed eager but disheartened.  

 I rose with my usual fervour and felt buoyed by the new day and new opportunities. I decided that no story about the Monster would talk about finding it on the first time. I had to fail first to be known as the man who found Nessie!

It was my last chance and the spot I picked out this time took some getting to. I had to slide down the side of a road and in to a swamp. It wasn't pleasant. I could see a huge area of lake in front of me and this would be my vantage point. I set up the camera gear and hunkered down. As the first rays of light poked out behind the distant hills I saw a silhouette emerge and I tried to temper my excitement this time. A duck or fish would not get the better of me today. As more light crept over the hills I began to realise this was not a fish. It couldn't be. The sheer size was big enough to make that obvious. I fired off photo after photo hoping that one of them would show enough to prove Nessy was indeed lurking beneath the waters at Loch Sport. As fate would have it my camera batteries died as the light shot out over the lake but by then it was gone anyway. It was over.

I rushed back to load the photos onto my computer. Had I done it? Would this be the day the world finally knew the Monster was real? Only you can decide now. Look at the photo below and tell me what you think. Share it with you friends. Ask your family. In my opinion Nessy has always been in Australia. 

In a beautiful area known as Gippsland in the tiny town of Loch Sport lies a Monster known to most as the Loch Ness Monster, but will now be forever called The Loch Sport Monster.

Loch Sport Victoria Australia Photography

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hunting the perfect photograph

Lake George Canberra - Travis Longmore Photography

I often get asked what goes in to making one of my landscape images and I always find it hard to give a short answer. Sometimes I get lucky and I am somewhere at the right time and things just fall in to place but usually it involves plenty of location scouting, research and always some luck.

Last week I happened to come across 3 full days with nothing on so I was determined to shoot something I'd never shot before. It had to be within driving distance so I could make the most of the time but I couldn't quite think of what to do. I ended up going to my Facebook page and asking there and got a bunch of recommendations. I was expecting to get 3 or 4 and make my choice but in the end I got dozens which made it even harder! I love getting surprises like that on social media! I narrowed it down by choosing something that I knew wouldn't be around for much longer; Canola fields! I'd even got some locations from people so I was already looking good.

I knew from previous experience that trying to do a sunrise shoot before I'd done location scouting rarely worked so instead I decided to start off with a place I'd wanted to shoot for years. I headed out 2 hours before sunrise to Lake George and managed to get the shot you see above. I'd already done the location scouting so I knew where to be. I checked the night before and knew the time of sunrise. I also knew that it was crucial to be there about an hour before that time to get the best colours. So I was up before any other sane person would and headed to get this shot. As one of the strange members of this planet that doesn't drink coffee I was left with my trusty Pepsi Max to see me through.

In the end I was thrilled with the result and the best part was that I could spend the next 10 hours scouting for my canola fields! I ducked back home and had some breakfast before I set off towards Griffith in South Western NSW. It was a long way away but I was told there were fields all over the place heading out there so I took my time.

This is where some luck is mixed in to the whole process. While I did my research and checked the weather forecasts I didn't get time off like this very often so I was stuck with what God decided to send my way. I was optimistic with the forecast because it said clouds but no rain. Perfect. That's the luck part taken care of. Now it meant finding the perfect location. That's the tricky part.

Canola Fields - Travis Longmore Photography


The first spot I came upon was really promising (the shot above). The clouds were looking spectacular and the fields had some trees in them to really make the image pop. The problem with this was the other tree to the side really distracts the eye from the main subject so I wasn't happy with it.

In the same field there was another tree that seemed interesting (the shot below). I liked what I saw but there was something off about it. I can't really figure it out but there was something missing. I tried a lot of different things to see if I could make it work, but as soon as I started that I knew it wasn't the right spot. I moved around, got closer and moved further away. I even tried it in a portrait setting (the second shot below) but nothing really worked for me. I knew I had to move on. I made sure I noted down the location though. If I couldn't find anything better at least I had a spot that was ok!

Canola Fields - Travis Longmore Photography

Canola Fields - Travis Longmore Photography

After a few more hours driving down winding country roads I came across another spot I thought was interesting and stopped to do it all over again (the shot below). From the start I had the same feeling though. I did the process over again but came to the same conclusion. Close, but no cigar.

Canola Fields - Travis Longmore Photography

Back to the car and more driving before I saw a tree that looked exactly like what I'd pictured (the shot below). This was when I got super excited. This could be the spot I was after! I grabbed my gear, set up and clicked. What I saw was so close. Closer than I'd been so far but it still wasn't what I wanted. This time the tree didn't have the canola surrounding it and it just took away from the whole look. I was disappointed but knew I was getting closer. I still absolutely love the shot but it wasn't what I was after.

Canola Fields - Travis Longmore Photography



This is where the panic sets in. I knew I had around an hour before the sun would set and that was the time I needed to be in place. I remembered more canola fields back the way I'd come that I hadn't checked out yet so I cranked in to overdrive and headed back.

What I love about this whole process is that while you've got an image in your head there's always the chance to find something that is different but just as engaging. I spotted a place exactly like that about 20 minutes from the other fields and I slowed the car. I had to decide if I'd stop and try and get this shot or keep driving and hope I'd find my canola fields 'money shot'. I knew I'd regret it if I didn't stop so I hit the brakes. What I found was incredible. It took some effort to get in the right spot (I had to crawl under a dilapidated barbed wire fence!) but once I was there I looked out and didn't have to hit the shutter button to know this would be an amazing shot. This is what I'd hoped I'd find but with canola surrounding it!

Canola Fields - Travis Longmore Photography

I got the shot and started to run back to the car. There was only about 25 minutes of light left and I still hadn't found my shot! As luck would have it I found a spot that really intrigued me. The tree was surrounded by canola, the clouds were amazing and I was hoping for that killer sunset that would make the image pop. I didn't end up with the sunset but the shot turned out as good as I'd hoped.

Canola Fields - Travis Longmore Photography

Once the sun had set beyond the hills in front of me I packed up and was moments away from starting the long drive home when I saw another spot I thought looked interesting. After a huge day like this I can sometimes feel like the extra effort may not be worth it but I made sure I went over and looked anyway. It didn't end up being my favourite shot but I still like it. It even had some tyre tracks in it! All in all I got 3 shots I'm extremely proud of.

Canola Fields - Travis Longmore Photography

So, what goes in to getting 'the shot'? Lots of practice, a tonne of driving, walking, climbing and hiking, preparation and an ounce of luck. I haven't talked about the apps I use to help with where the sun will set, the settings I use or the camera gear. I haven't talked about what makes an image look nice and so much more. There is a lot that goes in to making a photograph but it's a process I love.

I still don't have the shot I'd envisaged and one day I'll probably head back to see if I can luck out and get the sunset I wanted, but for now I'm thrilled that I got some shots other people love just as much as I do.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Protector of the Dead

Anubis Travis Longmore Photography

There are very few things that excite me more than being asked to help bring a creative idea to life. So when Marie of Mysdesign Hair and Makeup approached me to help with her idea I jumped at the chance. It was ambitious, it was creative, it was over the top and it was a blast. It was an idea from Marie that really appealed to me. Something that we really couldn't find done anywhere else. There were illustrations and drawings but nothing done in real life. Perfect.

Anubis Travis Longmore Photography


We spent weeks throwing ideas around and had our inspiration board on Pinterest going back and forth.

Anubis Travis Longmore Photography

Marie had her vision and we both couldn't wait to get shooting. When I was shown the photo of her perspective model for this shoot I was floored. He was exactly who I'd envisioned for the project. Luke Middlebrook would be Anubis - The Protector of the Dead.

Anubis Travis Longmore Photography

So the preparation stepped up a notch. Marie was busy spending weeks on the outfit and makeup requirements and I went to work on the lighting. We wanted dark and moody. Time for some smoke machine action. We locked in the day for the shoot and if my excitement was anything to go by it was going to be a great day.

Anubis Travis Longmore Photography

We all knew it was going to be a huge shoot. The makeup was always going to be the biggest challenge and Luke spent hours in a chilly bathroom as Marie worked her magic. And magic it was! We had our music pumping as we got ready to bring it all together. I fiddled with my lights and felt like I was ready. I snuck in and took shots as Luke's Anubis transformation came to life at the end of Marie's brushes.

Anubis Travis Longmore Photography

After hours it was time to enter the set. Final touches were added and we were away.

Anubis Travis Longmore Photography

Now it was up to Luke to bring alive the ancient Egyptian god Anubis. We tried a bunch of poses and angles to get the right feel. We changed lighting and cranked the smoke machine on high as the studio began to look more like a morgue than anything else.

Anubis Travis Longmore Photography

What makes a shoot like this work so well is the relationship of all those involved. Luckily for this shoot it was only 3 people and we happened to all share a sense of humour and work ethic that made this long day so enjoyable. We all had ideas on what the final product was going to be and so we all worked hard to make it happen.

The final shot was going to be the hardest of the day. Covered in blood, Luke needed to appear as though he'd finished a hard day of embalming as he looked at his hands and looked at the result of his world in the land of the dead. Marie even encouraged him to have the blood flow from his mouth and get a shot. It didn't look tasty!

Anubis Travis Longmore Photography

It was the culmination of a lot of work from all of us and we're all thrilled with the results. It's what happens when ideas, creativity and teamwork work to perfection.

Friday, July 4, 2014

An American Independence in Oz


I've covered the last 5 Independence Day celebrations at the U.S. Embassy in Canberra and knowing this year would be my last I went in with some mixed emotions. It's obviously not a celebration I relate to personally but it is something I've come to understand more closely. I've developed the closest friendships with the Americans I've worked with over the years and through them I've come to love the 4th of July party.


I almost feel like an adopted American after all these years and it's like I've been able to enjoy the festivities alongside my colleagues and friends with more than just an outside interest. The first year I watched on wide eyed and compared our party on January 26th with theirs but realised that as much as it was similar it was so different too. There was a real pride in their declaration of independence that I'd never really felt as an Australian. Australia Day just felt... different to this. This was bold, it was overt and it was everything I'd been taught our day wasn't. While we celebrated, it was always without the flair these parties had.


Flair is what Americans do better than any other nation I've seen. In 2012 they invited Buzz Aldrin to join them in Canberra to celebrate all things American and space exploration. Buzz wandered around the party and met with everyone and got more selfies than anyone I can remember. He was a star.



Their day is all about recognising what makes them unique and different but also understanding that what makes them so unique is that they are a nation that is built from so many other nations.

"This is a day of gratitude. We share our national day with all people, because people from every nation have contributed to the America we know today. With each generation, the United States has grown stronger, and better, from the extraordinary  people from every part of the world who come to our shores. America is a nation of  immigrants, made up of the citizens of every country. Which is why the face of America  reflects every race, creed, and religion on earth. So when Americans celebrate our  Independence, we celebrate it with everyone – our great Australian mates here in Canberra, and our friends around the world." - Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich

There's a contribution from so many others that help make a country that embraces that uniqueness and celebrates it. And that's what happens each year around the world.


Anyone who visits Australia understands very quickly that sport is a part of our DNA. It's something that defines us and is a part of almost every aspect of Aussie lives. The U.S. also has a huge sporting history and each year they make sure there is an element of that at the event. Ambassador Bleich understood this the day he arrived and while he was lured across to the Geelong Cats dark side I was always thrilled he made sure there was a sports element to each event. There were golf, Aussie Rules, Rugby and Baseball stalls every year.



Like I mentioned, this year was my last 4th of July celebration at the Embassy as I move on to other things, but I made sure I savoured the moments I could. It was a nice way to finish with a new Ambassador and a new perspective.


It was amazing to have a brilliant chef from New Orleans, Tory McPhail, cook for the entire party. We had guests that ranged from MP's to Master Chef contestants and everyone agreed that the food was out of this world. He was a genius. What made it complete was that he was a genuine character. Tory was happy to talk about every aspect of his career and had a southern flavour that appealed to everyone that attended.


I'm going to miss being a part of a very unique celebration in Canberra but I'm also leaving extremely grateful that I've been able to be a part of another countries' Independence Day celebration for so long.

Happy 4th of July America!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Becoming Human

Canberra Travis Longmore Photography


If you live in Canberra it's nearly impossible you haven't heard about the 101 Humans. It almost sounds like a movie title. The concept was simple; select 101 of the most social media savvy residents of Australia's capital city and bring them together to discover more about it and spread the word. "The Human Brochure is the world’s first living, breathing travel brochure created by real humans - just like you!"

Canberra Travis Longmore Photography

It was an experiment that started a year before with the 100 Humans. On that campaign there were people chosen from outside Canberra to come and see that this place wasn't just politics and public servants. This time 101 locals had the responsibility to show the world what it was that Canberra should be known for and not what it was known for. It was a remarkably bold idea that sparked plenty of interest and conversation online and offline. While some claimed the first campaign wasn't successful, the stats prove otherwise. Wether it was jealousy or the 'haters' of Canberra attacking a plan to change that perception it was seen by many as a waste of money. They seem to be among the minority though, because outside of them there was a national recognition of something truly special.

Canberra Travis Longmore Photography

So it was with great excitement that I found out I was going to be a part of the second chapter of the Human Brochure. Throughout the last month we've been a part of the 'discovery' phase.

Canberra Travis Longmore Photography

We've had events that were just for the lucky 101 to experience the attractions Canberra has to offer and while most of the other Humans thought this was the peak of the experience I wasn't the same although I enjoyed them just as much.

Canberra Travis Longmore Photography

But it wasn't the events that inspired me, it was the realisation that Canberra was indeed a place that offered more than most realised. So I decided to use what I did best to show what this place had to offer.

Canberra Travis Longmore Photography

I'm not a foodie. I'm not an event photographer and I'm certainly not a wordsmith. What I can do is take a good travel photo. It was time to show the world what Canberra really looked like. I'm only half way through my quest to show more of this place (city photos are the next part!) but the shots I've taken have really opened my eyes up about what a gem we really have here. It's such a unique place to have something so beautiful with sprawling green landscapes and within minutes you have a city with more activity than any local really admits is actually going on.

Canberra Travis Longmore Photography

I remember having a close friend visit not long ago. They'd grown up in Canberra years ago and hated it and they couldn't wait to leave and move on to another place. It was a really interesting conversation as we ate and drank and as we were finishing he said something I've never forgotten and I think sums up the next evolution of Canberra. He said "I love it here now, Canberra finally has a soul". It was a really simple statement but made me sit back and agree completely. It might only be 101 years old and a baby compared to other cities, but it's finally developing a character outside of politics. The government was forced upon it but the soul wasn't. It's been a long time in the making but anyone that looks with open eyes and is willing to forget what they thought about this place realises it has far more to offer than Question Time.

Canberra Travis Longmore Photography

Canberra can finally be proud to be the nation's capital and while Australian's may take a little longer to come around it won't be long. Stay tuned Humans. This chapter isn't finished just yet.