Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.

Archive for the ‘ Photography ’ Category

Eerie red dust storms across New South Wales
September 27th, 2009

This week I experienced something for the first time in my life. During last Wednesday morning the Illawarra region, as well as most of New South Wales, experienced an amazing dust storm.

The dust storm had its origins in South Australia and reached the coastline of New South Wales not long after sunrise. The dust had traveled more than 1400 kilometres (about 880 miles). It was an eerie experience. The orange and red glow streamed through the curtains and I immediately grabbed my camera and went outside to diocument the experience.

The Sydney Morning Herald has created a site dedicated to the event and there is also a Flickr group ~ The Red Sydney Project The Dust Storm Days. I took the first nine photographs on the morning of the 23rd September 2009, from my home, of the suburb in which I live. The final five photographs were taken three days later on the 26th September when a less substantial dust storm also crossed the region early in the morning. The sun was nicely filtered by the dust. A display of fourteen images can also be viewed over at my online gallery.

Dust Storm NSW September 23rd 2009
Looking west from our home
Dust Storm NSW September 23rd 2009
Looking towards the south-east
Looking towards the north-east
Looking towards the north-east
Looking towards the East on Saturday morning
Looking towards the east on Saturday morning
A battle in the sky above Australia
May 16th, 2009

During the night the Illawarra coast of NSW experienced gale force winds as a low pressure system and a high pressure system battled to the south and east of the continent. I awoke during the night and literally cleared the decks just to ensure that some of the outdoor furniture decided it suddenly preferred life in the kitchen via the rear windows.

There were some very strong gusts early in the morning, well before sunset, so I climbed out of bed, got dressed, brewed some coffee and sat out by the back deck to observe the impact of the wind. I felt it was a good idea to keep an eye on our home and those of our neighbours just in case any decided that they wished to shift their location to one east of their current position.

As I sat and waited for the coffee to finish brewing I observed that some of the higher altitude clouds were beginning to show hints of red as they captured the rays of the sun which was still well below the horizon from my perspective on the ground. I grabbed my camera and took a number of photographs of the clouds to the west, south and east. Those shown are not in any chronological order. It i simply the order in which I resized them.


Morning Moon
March 22nd, 2009

A few days ago our school held a Cross Country event at a nearby sporting and recreational complex. It is situated on a massive area of land. The students were able to participate in 6km and 3km events. I arrived about 8.30AM and noticed that the moon stood out in the clear blue sky in the west. I pointed my camera at the moon, allowed for autofocus and took a photograph. I used a Nikon D70 with a telephoto lens.

That night I duplicated the photo, adjusted the levels to provide some contrast and a deeper blue sky. I applied a little Unsharp Mask to make the moon appear a little more crisp. A cropped copy of the finished result is visible below. I have not enlarged the moon. The original image is available here. A cropped 800 x 600 copy is here. I was surprised that the camera and the telephoto lens could capture the moon so well without a tripod and longer exposure.


Note the mark in the upper right hand corner of the original? A speck of dust on the sensor which has eluded all efforts to remove it. I use a tool or two in Photoshop Elements to remove the dust artefact from the photograph if it is an issue. I do not think I shall buy a D-SLR again. The dust is a nightmare despite all my best efforts to keep the camera dust free when changing lenses.

Do not forget that 2009 is the International Year of Astronomy.

Lemon Tree Passage ~ a gem on Port Stephens
January 29th, 2009

Travelers to Port Stephens often rave on about Shoal Bay and Nelson Bay. Sure, each of these towns have their beauty however after a recent stay in the region I cannot help but feel that if you desire a real, relaxing break with a beauty that is unassuming and, for that matter, real, then you should consider escaping to Lemon Tree Passage on the tip of the Tilligerry Peninsula.

It is a nice spot where one can enjoy the water without the crowds. A little bit of fishing, bush walks, sun-baking, peaceful cups of coffee, a quiet beer by the water’s edge. I must sound like a travel agent yet Lemon Tree Passage was relaxing, uncomplicated and stress free. Just the place for a holiday.

Amazing Stockton Beach, NSW
January 17th, 2009

Stockton Beach sand dunes, looking south.

Earlier this week Shao Ping and I had the opportunity to explore Stockton Beach, south of Port Stephens in NSW. The sand dunes of Stockton beach stretch for 32 kilometres and in some areas reach 1 kilometre inland.

View Larger Map

We explored the dunes late one afternoon and then went on an organised tour the following day. The dunes are moving approximately 4 metres in a northerly direction each year.

Northern end of the dunes near Anna Bay.
Tank traps are visible in the foreground.

The dunes feature tank traps that were constructed to deter an invasion by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second World War.

The dunes can be as high as 30 metres.

The earliest inhabitants of this region were the members of the Worimi Aboriginal tribe.  The middens created by the tribe during the previous 12,000 years can be seen at many points along the length of the beach. The middens appear and disappear with the ever shifting sands.

Tin City

As well there is the intriguing Tin City. This is a collection of shacks that had their origins during the Great Depression. They were built and occupied by impoverished Australians. The shacks made way for an army camp during the Second World War and were rebuilt after the war. At this time four men still live in the remaining shacks. They were utilised as a set during the Mad Max movie. It is hard to believe that individuals could live in such an environment. They utilise solar and wind power as well as a groundwater supply. Keeping out the sand must be an ongoing challenge for the four inhabitants.

Guess who?

If you are ever in the Port Stephens and Newcastle region of NSW the Stockton dunes are well worth a visit. Shao Ping and I certainly had a jolly good time. I have uploaded a gallery of photographs of the dunes to my main web site.