Sunday, January 25, 2015

A different perspective

Wanaka Lone Tree Travis Longmore Photography

If you've never heard of the Lone Tree in Wanaka, New Zealand I'd have to assume you've never been to New Zealand. It's known as the most photographed tree in the whole country and I've been seeing photos of it for years now. It's one of those shots I remember seeing and putting on my list of places I had to shoot. Sometimes you do that knowing you may never get to do it, but you have that hope in the back of your head.

Wanaka Lone Tree Travis Longmore Photography

So you could imagine my excitement when I was planning my trip to NZ in December that I would be passing through Wanaka and the site of 'that tree'. I went a little further though. I knew I wanted to get a photo that would sit proudly on my wall. I wanted it to be one of my best photos so I could create an album one day of all those places I'd added to my long, long list. So instead of just hoping to get good conditions I did what any crazy travel photographer would do, I planned for 4 days in Wanaka just to sit at that tree and wait. Was I nuts? Probably. Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Wanaka Lone Tree Travis Longmore Photography

So I set out plotting how to get my shot. I knew I had to figure out whether sunset or sunrise would be best so I took out my trusty TPE app on my phone and went to work. Ideally the tree would line up nicely with the path of the sun as it rose or set but for this time of year it wasn't ideal. Sunset was going to be my best option but it still wasn't perfect. It's not like I could move the tree (I thought about it though) so I decided that would be the ideal time.

The first part of this scenario actually came quicker than I thought. My first night in Wanaka I got the sunset you dream of. Beautiful clouds to create some patterns in the sky, gorgeous colours to give that spark and even some local wildlife stopped by. Perfect. If I could get the shot this early on in my 4 days I could spend more time exploring the nearby mountains. Something I'd been hoping to do but knowing I wouldn't if I couldn't get this one photo.

Wanaka Lone Tree Travis Longmore Photography

Knowing the sun was setting with the colours and sky I'd prayed for the next part was the hard part. How do you photograph something that's been shot hundreds of thousands of times? How do you get a different perspective? The wonderful thing about this job is that no picture is ever the same as someone elses. The clouds in my shot would never be repeated again so the perspective would always be different. That's not enough for me though.

I decided that to make it more interesting I had to do things others hadn't. So I spent the next 2 hours shooting from different angles, with different lenses, different settings and even grabbing some video footage as well. I knew what I really had to do was to get my feet wet. Literally. So I took my shoes off, waded into the water and tried my best not to fall under and drown me and my camera!

Wanaka Lone Tree Travis Longmore Photography

I shot as best I could with cold water flowing past my nether region. I'm not sure in the end that I got any better shots than other people, but to me I did the best I could to try for a different perspective and to get that shot for my wall.

Wanaka Lone Tree Travis Longmore Photography
I look at these shots and smile every single time. It's the first off a very long list and I'm so excited that I've begun this particular journey. It's going to be a lifelong one and one I probably (and hopefully) will never finish but I can't wait for photo number two. What is that you may ask? I'll tell you when I shoot it :)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Building a Tribe

Travel New Zealand Lake Wanaka  Travis Longmore Photography

I don't usually get too excited at hitting some of the milestones that usually get a lot of attention through social media but there is one that just happened that has left me a little humbled. I've done a few little shout-outs at hitting 5000 followers on different platforms but for me it doesn't really mean anything other than a number. I get a little excited at them but nothing more than that. The fact people want to hear what I say and see what I do is enough for me.

Now don't get me wrong. Social Media has been a life changing thing for me. As an introverted photographer the early part of my career was cursed by the fears that come with that and I'm sure there isn't an introvert that wouldn't understand. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram changed all that for me. It gave me the ability to talk with people from all around the world without any of the usual hangups I'd had for my entire life. If I'm honest it's done more for my growth as a human being than I'd probably care to admit. I've grown in to a pseudo extrovert and I'm a better man for it, but that's getting sidetracked :)

Travel New Zealand Lake Wanaka

Through these platforms I've been able to make a living doing what I truly love and what I think is my only real talent. I love photography more than I can put in to words. I can't explain the thrill, the excitement or the buzz of one of my trips. I find it difficult to share how it makes me feel to help someone else master their camera and get photos they'll treasure as much as I do with mine. It's through Social Media that I've built something significant in my life and I'm so grateful.

Some of the people I've met through social media have now become my closest friends. I'm still blown away that I could meet some of the coolest people on the planet through some tweets, a Facebook message or some mildly annoying hashtags on Instagram. I'd be here all day if I named you all but I'm thrilled I've had the chance to virtually meet you (and meet in real life sometimes!). You're my inspiration.

India Travis Longmore Photography

Like I said earlier, I'm not super into the big milestones though. I understand why people do but other than knowing that more people are eager to see my work it hasn't meant as much to me. But I had been eying off a number for the last few months and as soon as I ticked over it I felt a real moment of pride. That number? 41,051. In December my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers ticked over to 41,052 and I'm not sure I could have been happier.

So what's with the number you might be asking? It's the population of Bathurst in the last census. Bathurst was where I was predominantly raised and spent my high school years. It was where I discovered a passion for what I loved and where some of my closest friendships were formed. It's where my parents still live and it has a really special place in my heart. So to think that there are more people than my entire home town that are now following my work is incredible. I feel like that really IS a milestone worth celebrating. It means something to me and makes me truly happy. When you find the thing you were born to do and then you get the opportunity to make a living from it is the day you begin to live a fulfilled life. It may sound a little wishy washy but it's a special thing. I wish more people got the chance and I know that not everyone can or does. That makes me one of the special ones.

Thailand Travis Longmore Photography

It's a little hard for me to fathom these types of numbers but putting it in this perspective gives me some idea of the things I've done over the last few years. And I don't take it for granted. I"m grateful for every single one of you that has clicked the 'follow' button on any of my platforms. I hope you continue to enjoy the photos I take, the places I visit and the people I meet. I've now hit over 46,000 followers and while I won't be celebrating 50,000 I will stop and smile when it comes up!

So what's next? I have a huge year coming up. I'm in the process of re branding my business. I'm heading off on a huge new trip in a few months and I'm starting a travel podcast. I'm also planning something extremely big for travelers around the world that will launch in 2016. It's a long way off but trust me, if you like to travel you will definitely want to keep an eye on this space.

Tasmania Travis Longmore Photography

On my most recent trip I had a moment where I thought to myself "What's all this for?". I was asking myself what the point of what it was that I did. Was it enough that I shared amazing places around the world? Was it enough to share the photos I took? No way! So it's now my mission to get more people to travel more often and further than ever before. I want to help enable them to do it without the restrictions some might feel are out there. I can't give away all the details but I'm going to be starting to encourage my followers to start traveling more and sharing their journeys.

New Zealand Travis Longmore Photography

In my life there has been nothing more inspiring, fulfilling or life changing than traveling the world. It breaks down barriers, gives us different perspectives, makes us more tolerant and overall makes us better people. Plus it's just downright cool to sit on an elephant in Thailand, stand in front of the Taj Mahal or walk on top of glaciers in New Zealand. If that's not a good enough reason to do it more than I don't know what is.

Taj Mahal Travis Longmore Photography
So get out and travel more. Help me inspire others and make the whole world a better place by doing it.

Aspire 2 Inspire.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Camping New Zealand

Camping in New Zealand

There are few things I enjoy more than camping and fewer yet than camping in a place as stunning as New Zealand. When I sat in the plane and began the descent into Christchurch I looked out the window and knew before I even set foot in the country that I was going to have an amazing time. Travel photography can be rough and has its challenges but the highlights are truly remarkable. I knew I was about to have a lot of them.

My plan was to pick up some camping gear before I left Christchurch and slowly and steadily make my way around the South Island. I'd done some research before I left Australia about what it's like to camp in New Zealand but there really isn't anything like the real thing to get you ready! I probably didn't research enough because I was a little unprepared but here you'll find my suggestions for camping in the wonderful South Island of New Zealand.

I was lucky enough to strike a deal with Simon from Hunting and Fishing Christchurch to supply me with camping gear. Full disclosure here folks, they provided it all for nothing and are sponsors of some of my trip to New Zealand! With that out of the way, I'd recommend stopping by and just chatting to them. I wouldn't steer you wrong, but in case you think I'm crazy just go have a chat and you'll see how awesome they are. Simon and I talked for an hour or so about all things fishing and camping and after he set me up with my tent (which was the brightest tent I've ever seen!), a sleeping bag, a small stove and some other odds and ends I was on my way.

Camping in New Zealand

So that's my first piece of advice, see Simon and the gang at Hunting and Fishing Christchurch! The second piece of advice is to learn where you can actually camp. Now this is a bit annoying if I'm honest. New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC) have a website you can see here that has the information of places you can camp with them but their website kind of sucks, particularly when you're in the middle of nowhere in NZ and you're accessing it on your phone. It was painful and after a day or two I was over it so I figured out another way. Get yourself a copy of The pathfinder Complete Drivers Atlas and you'll be laughing. It not only lists every DOC camp site but loads of other ones as well. I can't remember going past one that wasn't in this book. It's totally worth the $30 I paid and I'd recommend buying one as soon as you hit NZ. The best part? It never needed recharging!

Camping in New Zealand

Now you can of course stay at holiday parks and the like but they're almost always more expensive and if I wanted to stay in a cabin or a holiday park I wouldn't be bothering with my tent! So personally, unless I needed some luxuries or a place to plug my camera batteries in (I travel with 9 of them so don't usually have to worry) I'd skip them. If you have kids this may be a good option though. You can check out this website from Tourism New Zealand with some more info on these options.

Camping in New Zealand

Now there is a third, less talked about option that I feel is completely underutilised in most other countries. I've done this for years now and have had great success (although you have to learn to have a thick skin and deal with a little rejection. My time as a chubby tennager has stood me in good stead). It also happens to be the cheapest option too! It's simply staying on someone elses property. With permission of course! If I find a place I love the look of and really want to get a photo of at sunrise I'll drive up to their door, knock and let them know who I am and what I'm doing. It usually costs me a print of the shot I get but it's a small, cheap price to pay for the place to stay. The best part is that you usually get invited in to chat and there's almost always food and drink offered. Bonus! I'm yet to visit a country as friendly as the people I met in NZ so I was excited to try this option. Let me tell you right now, it was brilliant. I didn't have a single person tell me no and every single one was thrilled to sit down and chat about what I do. Talk about hospitality! This is also my backup plan if I'm running late and can't find somewhere to camp for the night. It's probably more helpful during school holidays when the camp sites fill up but I was lucky to miss those by a few days.

So that's my next piece of advice. Pick up the Complete Drivers Atlas and map out where you might want to stay but keep an open mind about knocking on some doors. I'm a huge fan of this sort of traveling and to me it's the bare bones couch surfing I love the most. You meet the most amazing people and you get to stay in places you would never ever find in public camp sites.

So now you've got your gear and you've got an idea of where you want to stay. The next part is the best bit! You go do it :) This is what I love most about camping. You don't have to have a lot of planning to get out and have fun. I was never stressed about booking a room for the night or booking ahead so I didn't miss out. I never worried if I found a place I really loved and wanted to stay a little longer to take photos and explore a little more. I could always just unwrap my tent and stay another night. There is always a flutter in my stomach as I walk up to someone's house to ask them if I can set up my tent on their property but it never ceases to amaze me at the kindness of strangers.

Camping in New Zealand

I had a small car and was able to pack a bunch of water and food so I didn't have to worry about that either, but the amazing part about NZ is that it's small enough that I'd be shocked if you couldn't hike for a few days and not come across a place to restock. To me it's no worries camping and that's exactly my style.

There are so many other benefits of camping as well and one of my favourites is the fact that even if it's 10 o'clock in the morning and you've been hiking for hours and just want to stop, you can pull out this tiny tent and lay down for a nap. I almost feel like I should carry one when I'm back home!

So to make it easy here's my summary:

1. Visit Hunting and Fishing in Christchurch and pick up your camping gear. It's cheap enough that it will pay or itself in no time!

2. Grab a copy of the Complete Drivers Atlas and do a rough plan of where you want to go. Check out the DOC website if you need to get some reassurance! The atlas has all sorts of handy info as well as the camp sites. It has the fishing spots, all the fun places to see and do and tonnes more.

3. Have an open mind about staying in DOC campsites, holiday parks and of course think about the fun of knocking on someone's door and having a chat. Just remember, if they say no, it's never personal!

4. Get out and have fun!

Camping in New Zealand

To me, camping lets me get better shots (like the one above!), find better places in a country, meet more and interesting people and to enjoy my trips more. It's nice to stay in a hotel from time to time or a cabin when you need to but there's something about camping that I get excited about that I don't with the others. So do yourself a favour and if you're in New Zealand, do what I did and have an amazing, once in a lifetime trip!

Happy camping!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

24 short hours in New Zealand

New Zealand - Travis Longmore Photography
Overlooking the small town of Akaroa, New Zealand
I stood staring at a scene I was convinced couldn’t possibly be real. This felt unspoilt. The only hint of the hand of man were some dilapidated old fences, the dirt road I’d driven in on and the tiny lights of Akaroa in the distance. You’d have to know the small town was there beforehand to know what those lights were though. To me they looked like tiny stars in the mountains. I could have stood there watching until the sun began to set again but I was there for a purpose.

Months in the planning, my next big photography trip gave me more excitement than I could remember. “A photographer’s dream”, I’d been told. New Zealand was meant to be something out of the movies, indeed many of the movies I love were set in the very place I was heading. Lord of the Rings, Avatar, The Last Samurai, The Chronicles of Narnia, Once Were Warriors, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Hobbit and my particular favourite, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (obvious joke just in case!)

I arrived in Christchurch just a few days ago with more enthusiasm than I’ve had in months. The last time I’d had a trip this big I was riding camels through the Thar desert, meeting amazing Indian locals and feeling like a celebrity as I worked my way across Rajasthan. This has a totally different feel in a way but I was just as excited.

Christchurch feels like a bit of an anomaly from the other places I’ve been to so far in New Zealand. It’s likely because of the results of the earthquake in February, 2011 that they are still trying to clean up from but it had a completely different feel from anywhere else I went to. The people were still friendly and easy going but there was an air of impatience and frustration that was fairly evident amongst some. I think they wanted their city back and rightly so. There were buildings still lying on the ground, smashed by the magnitude 6.3 quake years ago. It seems shocking that it would still be like this nearly 4 years on. I don’t know what it was like before that terrible day, but the place was still recovering both it’s city centre and it’s vibe. 

There are though, amongst the rubble, some beautiful spots amongst it all that anyone going to NZ should explore before moving on. One such spot is the New Brighton Pier that really isn’t far from all the damage. I found it 24 hours in to my trip and was thrilled I stumbled on it. It’s glorious in the morning as you watch the sun rise above the horizon and I was greeted by one of the most spectacular sights you could imagine. It was a perfect sunrise and I felt like this was my official welcome to NZ. I took it as a sign of things to come and I couldn’t have been more right.

New Zealand - Travis Longmore Photography
New Brighton Pier, Christchurch, New Zealand
When I stepped off the plane 24 hours prior I got my rental car sorted and decided to go location scouting. It was only a few hours until sunset so I knew I had to hurry. I’d done my research on where I wanted to start and as I was staying the night in Christchurch I needed to be close so I ventured towards the small town of Akaroa. I didn’t know it but I would fall in love with that place too! I didn’t quite make it all the way to the town on the first day though. As I was heading there I found spot after spot that I knew would make amazing photos. Luckily the traffic was sparse because I kept having to make stops to get out and take my test shots. I was never disappointed. I kept going and as the sun started to set I knew I’d found a perfect place. I had to park about a kilometre away though to be safe on the small winding roads and made the hike along the side of the road. Once I got there I got set up and shot some awesome images. Not a bad start to the trip! I also knew I’d found another great place for the next morning’s sunrise too so I headed back to my hotel and got an early-ish night (after delighting in some local Indian food of course. Just to bring back memories of 12 months prior). Location scouting and a rocking image to start. Not too shabby!

New Zealand - Travis Longmore Photography
Lake Forsyth, New Zealand
I tend to disregard the distance between where I stay the night and the spot I think will be an ideal sunrise setting and today was no difference. It was well over an hour away this time so I was up before 3am and headed off as quickly as I could. I drove slowly, cautious on roads I knew little about, and made my way there in plenty of time. I’m usually really careful until I can get a feel of what it’s like to drive at dawn and dusk. I found out the hard way in Tasmania when I didn’t do enough research and discovered I could drive a maximum of about 40km/h with the abundance of wildlife in some areas there! There were penguins, tassie devils, possums, kangaroos and a heap more that would dash out in front of you without warning. It’s not quite like that in New Zealand but I was cautious all the same.

I arrived near the spot I’d found location scouting the day before and stopped the car. Looking out at the scene in front of me I couldn’t help but think that this was the most perfect thing I’d ever seen. I’ve seen a lot of vistas like this but never this serene. It was as close to absolute perfection as I think I was ever going to see. I shot my butt off in the golden hour of sunrise and walked like a madman around the area getting all sorts of different angles. I was in heaven. Maybe literally. I did pinch myself at one point to make sure I was awake. I still have a bit of a bruise. I started to realise why someone like Peter Jackson could have such success. Surely looking at this growing up had to be inspiration to make beautiful things. 

New Zealand - Travis Longmore Photography
The hills surrounding Christchurch, New Zealand
It was my first 24 hours in a country I already know I'll visit again. It’s everything a photographer could dream of and so much more. There aren’t too many times in my life I haven’t wished for some small changes when I look out at a scene. Maybe power lines gone, rubbish cleaned up, clearer water or just people out of the shot. It wasn’t until I looked at the shots on my computer and realised this was the first time I didn’t want something changed. This was perfection. 


Monday, December 1, 2014

The best job in the world

Loch Sport - Travis Longmore Photography

Continuing on from a blog I did not long ago about what it takes to get the perfect photo, I often get told that I have the best job in the world. I actually couldn't agree more but there are times where I smile and nod but also wonder if they know what kind of work that goes in sometimes. I'm not alone in that, I know there are tons of people who work just as hard in their work but mine isn't all about holidays and relaxing on the beach. In fact I actually can't remember the last time I got to do that. There is something appealing to the work I do and so many wonderful things I get to experience but it's not all sunshine and cocktails.

There isn't many parts of the travel photography that I don't enjoy. There are long hours working out itineraries and finding out where the next location will be. There are days that go in to packing and sorting out gear and once I'm on the ground it's really intense. There is one thing that stands out as my favourite part of it all though. The location scouting. This is one of the best parts because it means I get to do my exploring and in the process I get to meet amazing people along the way.

The premise of location scouting is that I will spend the hours during the day that are the worst for photography (around 9am until just before sunset usually) to find the best spots to come back and take my photos. Sounds pretty simple right? In reality it's a little more challenging but a hell of a lot of fun. After I've taken my sunrise photos for the day I usually import them into my computer to have a backup and then hit the road with my hiking gear in tow. I've usually got the areas I want to explore picked out but if I've been rushed or haven't gotten around to it yet I will spend an hour or so figuring that out first. Then it's time to hit the road!

I'll drive to an area and then get out and lug around my smaller camera to get my location shots. I don't need all my gear for this part which is a godsend because I have a LOT of gear. I only take my small mirrorless camera and that's it. It's super light and actually an amazing camera if I happen to come across something that I really want to capture. It's a good mix but in reality I'm only using it to frame the shot I need to come back to later. You might ask why I couldn't just use my smartphone for that and there's a few answers. The smartphone is a fixed focal length so I can't zoom in and out effectively to give me the best idea on what it's going to look like in the end. The quality isn't quite up to scratch if I do happen to find a place that I know I won't get to come back to and still want a shot. There are a bunch of other reasons but these are the main two.

Loch Sport - Travis Longmore Photography

The next 6 or so hours are as close to a traditional holiday as I ever get on my trips. I explore, hike, climb and sometimes swim to find 'the shot'. The shot above is a good example. It's not a lot to look at right now but I know for sure it'll be a great shot with the right light. I basically have two options once I find a spot I love. I either come back at sunrise or sunset. How do I decide? That's where I use an app called The Photographer's Ephemeris and you can see from the screenshot below that it gives really good details on where the sun will set and rise so I can judge when I should come back.

The Photographer's Ephemeris - Travis Longmore Photography

There are tons of different things this app does and while it's a little expensive it's totally worth every cent for me. I checked the app and saw that it wasn't in the most ideal spot because the sun was setting a little far away for my liking. Ideally it would set in my frame to have the most impact but I was still hopeful it would turn out ok. I knew the spot was awesome so I thought it'd be a nice one in the end. I actually came back a second time just to make sure and get some different angles and see what it was looking like toward the end of the day. I was a little worried the sun would be setting too far away so I wanted to make sure the colours would still come through. I ended up with the shot below. Again, not much to look at... yet! I was convinced it would be great though.

Loch Sport - Travis Longmore Photography

If all goes well I should find 3 or 4 spots like this along the way during my location scouting but sometimes I come back totally empty handed as well. That's just the way it goes sometimes. This time I knew I found at least one spot that was going to be killer so I just had to wait for the sun to start setting and make sure I was in place.

About an hour and a half before the sun was suppose to be setting I was in place with my full kit. I had my camera on the tripod and was ready to rock. What I hadn't factored in was the mosquitos in this particular area. WOWSER. I spent the next few hours dancing around like a crazy person trying my best to ward off the biggest bugs I've ever seen. My blood must have been sweet nectar to these critters because they just kept coming back for more. I was basically a human pin cushion for two hours. The next day I looked like I had chicken pox. Ouch.

At the time I knew I was getting something pretty special though. I tried out a bunch of different things including wading out into the water, different angles etc. but I was most happy with the longish exposure shot you see above. After I was done at this spot I hurried back to my car and set off for some night shots. All in all it was about a 16 hour day and I was exhausted when my head hit the pillow. It was a lot of work to get that one shot but I love it and it now hangs proudly on my wall. In an ideal world there would have been more clouds in the shot and had I been able to, I'd have stayed a few more days until the conditions were better but it was my last day and I had to move on.

Loch Sport - Travis Longmore Photography

It might be a little different to the typical holidays people take but to me this is my bliss. This is where I'm most happy and most content. I love to travel and to combine it with my other passion makes me the luckiest person on the planet. Till the next adventure!


Saturday, November 8, 2014

The end of being Human

Human Brochure Canberra Travis Longmore Photography

Last weekend brought about a really amazing but sad conclusion to the Human Brochure campaign put on by Visit Canberra. While this was meant to be the ultimate finale for the whole thing, I'm not sure it's going to be the last event us Humans put on that shows off the nation's capital. I get the feeling the results of this project are going to be long felt as the feedback from people who hadn't experienced Canberra like we had begin to filter through. There were some in the minority that I spoke to that thought it could have gone smoother, the large majority though, thought it was spectacular. I'm of the opinion that those that considered it under delivered probably need to look inwards a little and realise they just participated in a world first, completely free campaign that was all about us. I felt privileged being a part of it and have made some extremely close friends that I never would have met had it not been for this.

Like I said, this was the last official set of events and was logistically the most frightening for Visit Canberra I'm sure. Up until now the 101 of us Humans had been provided with a rare insight into the food, drink and events that are on show all year in the A.C.T.. We'd been wined and dined in an effort to produce 101 people who could promote the crap out of the place. I get the feeling last weekend was almost like the test to see if we passed the exam. From everything I saw, I think most got a high distinction and graduated a little fatter and probably a little hungover. The weekend gave us the opportunity to invite 2 interstate friends and one local to come and do some of the things we'd had the chance to do since it all began.

Human Brochure Canberra Travis Longmore Photography

My weekend started by joining another local Canberran and my best friend and his wife at their pretty spectacular hotel (East Hotel in Kingston) at 5am! I think we all got over the pain of the early morning when our sweet ride pulled up. We were to be driven down to Lake Burley Griffin to meet the man behind the Kayak Cameraman mask (he doesn't actually wear a mask). I'd long admired the photos that he produced as he would brave the freezing mornings and venture out seemingly each and every day. He has an amazing story himself and if you haven't heard of him, do yourself a favour and google "Paul Jurak". If you don't want to buy a Kayak after that then I'm not sure I can help you.

Human Brochure Canberra Travis Longmore Photography
The Kayak Cameraman himself!
We spent the next hour and a half just cruising the lake and watching the most incredible sunrise you could imagine. We chatted (and I raced my mate and lost) and took photos and it was as relaxing a time as I've had in the last few months. I think we all asked how we could get our hands on a Kayak by the end of it.

We said our goodbyes and headed off for the buffet breakfast at East Hotel. Now those that really know me, know I'm a big fan of hash browns. This breaky didn't disappoint. I think I ate my body weight in hash browns and bacon and sat back while I patted my belly in complete contentment.

The next 48 hours consisted of visits to Questacon, Brodburger, The Canberra Glassworks, the Arboretum and a much longer than planned trip to Bentspoke Brewery.

Not a bad way to spend a weekend at all!

So the hope is that the 101 Humans will continue to show the world how amazing Canberra is. Will it work? For this sample size of 1 (me) it's worked a treat. I've fallen in love with this place more times than I can count in the space of about 6 months. I hope people who visit do so with an open mind and without the prejudices that have existed for decades. I hope they visit the museums and galleries, the memorials and festivals, the parks and lakes, the restaurants and wineries, the sporting events and Questacon, the Deep Space Centre and National Parks but most of all I hope they come away and realise Australia has an amazing city that's relatively young and ready to grow.

Cheers from a tiny part of the Human Brochure experience.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The sunniest place on earth?

Sunshine Coast Queensland

You can't name something the "Sunshine Coast" unless you're pretty sure the sun graces the place from time to time. As a self confessed sunrise/sunset addict I couldn't think of a better place to put to the test. I've unfortunately booked myself solid for the next few months but knew I'd need a few days to make sure I got 'the shot'. If you've ever wondered, I aim for just one amazing photo per day when I do my work. It may not sound like much but if you've ever wanted to know what it takes to get the money shot take a look at a previous blog I wrote. It's a lot of work and I love the process just as much as I love the final product. It was exactly the same for this trip too. I make sure I temper my enthusiasm and understand that sometimes you just can't get one amazing photo for the day either. Sometimes mother nature has other plans.

I arrived at the airport very late on a Friday evening, picked up my hire car and set off for my hotel about 25 minutes away. I'd already done my research on where I'd start in the morning so I knew I could settle in and get an early night before the fun started. I set my alarm for 3am and drifted off. I think I hit the 'snooze' button on my phone so quick it didn't even hit the second note. I hate that alarm. I have to remember to change it. I turned it off, got changed, grabbed my gear and set off to a place I'd read a lot about; Dicky Beach. Little did I know nature was about to hit me with a perfect morning. You always want clouds in the sky to add some interest and drama but I never expected what I got that morning. I set up at the famous SS Dicky and got to work. A few hours later I'd got shots I knew would be amazing and headed back to my room to start the editing. Once they were done I was off again.

Sunshine Coast Queensland

Sunshine Coast Queensland

I had about 8 hours until the sun would be setting so I had a big chunk of time to find my spot for that days sunset and the next mornings sunrise. Sometimes as you're driving around or hiking you find dozens of spots that could work. This time I wasn't that lucky. There were some amazing places I found but none had what I was looking for. I'm not sure if it's me being pickier these days, or if I just wasn't finding 'that' shot but it was late afternoon before I found a place I knew would work well for sunset. I added a star on my google map and headed to Bribie Island. I thought this might be a place for the next mornings sunrise. I only had a few hours before I had to be back at my spot for sunset so I had to be quick. Luckily it was easy to see this place would give me plenty of opportunities to get some beautiful shots. I marked down 3 different locations and set off to get set up for sunset.

Sunshine Coast Queensland

I mentioned it before but I always pray for clouds. It inevitably adds the drama you want in pictures but unfortunately this was an almost completely cloudless day. Not to worry. I knew I'd still get something. I went up knowing I had to try and capture the beauty that is the Glasshouse Mountains. If you've never heard of them, do yourself a favour and read up. They are spectacular. I did not do them justice here, but they are just amazing. The sunset turned out to be lovely and I stood looking out at this incredible sight as I fired off a few shots. It's the thing I love most about what I do. There is always time to sit back and admire what you're taking shots of. And this was a place I wanted to make sure I remembered.

Sunshine Coast Queensland

Once the mosquitos started to buzz around my ears I packed up and set off again. I wanted to make sure I got some sleep that night. It was an hour drive to my sunrise shot and that's an early morning! I got up the next day earlier than any sane person should and set off. As I drove across the bridge to get to Bribie Island I looked over my shoulder and saw a gorgeous view. I stopped the car and got a quick shot. I didn't want to miss the sunrise at the spot I'd found the day before. The problem was, each time I looked out the window I was greeted with another spectacular view. I had to stop one more time and get a shot of some of the huge houses that lined the water. Oh to live in a place like that!

Sunshine Coast Queensland Bribie Island

Once I got to the beach I wanted to shoot, I set up, pointed my trusty camera and waited. As the clouds rolled in I knew I'd get another cracker and fired off some shots. Nicely done Bribie Ilsand!

Sunshine Coast Queensland bribie Island

After that I set off to the north of the Glasshouse Mountains to see what I could find there. I drove for hours and found a bunch of places I loved. The hardest part this time was narrowing it down for sunset! I saw a sign for a rest stop ahead and began to slow down to go over the places I'd found so far. I had to figure out which spot would be the best. As luck would have it, just seconds down the road I looked out at a farm that I knew would be perfect. I parked my car, got out and walked to the front door. Before I had a chance to knock, the owner walked from around from the back and said hello. I chatted briefly with her and told her I wasn't a weirdo, I just thought her farm was amazing. A little flattery goes a long way because she quickly agreed I could wander her fields that afternoon to get some shots.

I only had to find a place for sunrise now and I thought I'd had enough to choose from so I made the executive decision to go visit the Australia Zoo. This wasn't on my list of places to go, but I'd driven past it enough now and for those of you that know me, I'm just a giant big kid. I wandered the zoo and snapped some of the animals like it was the first time I'd seen one. It was great! I must have pleased someone because luck was on my side again. In just 5 minutes they were going to be doing a show with some of their tiger cubs. AWESOME. I stayed for that and got my place. It was a packed crowd and rightly so! Two trainers began to play with two tiger cubs who were adorable. They jumped and then just as my brain was going to explode from cuteness they decided to go for a swim! I could have sat and watched for hours. Unfortunately they were all getting exhausted so the show had to stop, but what a way to finish that particular afternoon.

Sunshine Coast Queensland Australia Zoo

Sunshine Coast Queensland Australia Zoo

Sunshine Coast Queensland Australia Zoo

I headed back to the farm for sunset and got set up. I was not disappointed! The place was amazing. I could have spent days just on her farm.  I wandered around and got a few different shots. I slipped gracefully (note; not gracefully) under some fencing and even managed to avoid stepping in any cow manure. That was a first. My final shot was amongst some of her cattle. I played it cool and got as close as I could but one of the bulls flicked the ground with its foot and started to edge closer to me. That was enough of a signal for me. I was out of there. I'd gotten my haul of photos and was thrilled. Another day finished!

Sunshine Coast Queensland

Sunshine Coast Queensland

As I started the drive home I took a little bit of a detour to drive back on a road I hadn't been down yet. You know, just in case I'd missed something! I started to think I should change my middle name to Lucky because I found another spot that looked incredible! It was on another farm so I did the walk down the dirt driveway one more time. This guy was super accommodating and said I could come back the next morning for sunrise. Perfect.

I went to bed happy and knew that no matter what happened the next morning, I'd had a good trip. I got up at 2am again and set off. It was a long drive but when I got to the farm and set up (after rolling under the fence because I couldn't find the gate in the dark) I knew this was the perfect finish to a wonderful 3 days. I walked around and got a few shots and mother nature was again very kind. The sunrise was stunning and as I walked up the hill to where I parked my car I must have looked a little strange. I had a grin from ear to ear.

Sunshine Coast Queensland

Afterwards I drove to the airport to head back home. They call it the Sunshine Coast. I cannot disagree but for some reason I'm not sure it does the place justice. It's a simple way to describe it but there's plenty more to this incredible area. Do yourself a favour and take a look one day. You won't be disappointed.