Spring feels like it’s just round the corner, so it’s good time to be out and about taking pictures around the beach.
I got a new piece of gear this morning, a 10-stop Neutral Density Filter which allows only 1/1024th the amount of natural light through the camera lens. As a result, very long exposures are required and this causes anything that moves in the image to be blurred. Handy for creating an interesting effect on the ocean…….
The tunnel under Shortland Esplanade, that leads to Newcastle Beach.
This long weekend I decided to try my hand at some star photography. The timing was good because it was a new moon, and skies would be dark. I just needed a location away from lights. Why not Lostock Dam? It’s almost 100 km from Newcastle and the landscape is pretty, too.
Here are some views just north of Gresford.
A bit further on you cross the Paterson River on this ricketty old bridge.
I wonder if there are platypuses in there….
Lostock is nestled in this valley and the dam is a bit further on.
I arrived at the dam about 30 minuted before sunset.
The star photographs each are a 25 second exposure at f2.8, ISO 2000.
This shot was taken about 60 minutes after sunset, and we are looking south. You can see the Southern Cross at the bottom, and the black smudge is known as the ‘coal sack’.
These shots were taken about 90 minutes after sunset, facing west to get a better view the Milky Way.
Just a few shots taken late Monday along Nobbys Breakwall.
I was playing around with a Hoya NDX400 neutral density filter….it’s almost as dark as welding glass!
I got a few shots of The Stone Fox last night at Hamilton Station Hotel…..these guys from Brisbane play hard rock with a few stoner / psychedelic sounds thrown in the mix as well.
Fat as Butter was on again this year on the foreshore, and I was able to get some shots once more. You can read about the gig elsewhere, so I’ll just leave a few of the more interesting shots….
Chicks Who Love Guns
HMAS Newcastle is an Adelaide Class guided missile frigate, and is in her namesake town for a few days. I thought I’d get a few shots.
The queue was about 300 people and 1 hour long.
What you see in the next 3 shots is an RIM-67 Standard missile, which is a long-range missile that can be used in both surface-air (anti-aircraft) and surface-surface (anti-ship) modes. It’s painted blue because it’s a training round and lacks a warhead and propellant. The launcher moves insanely fast, and in the picture below, the missile is actually moving upward from below decks onto the launcher. The entire process of loading the missile from below, rotating the launcher 180 degrees, and then depressing into the firing position takes about 2 seconds. I suppose every moment counts in warfare.
The next shot was taken from the bow, and you can see the Vertical Launching System. This fires the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, which is a short range surface-air and surface-surface missile. Yes, the ship was listing a degree or two!
A typical corridor below decks. What I like about warships is that every single thing visible has a definite purpose, and that everything is labelled or has a placard next to it. There is absolutely no decoration. They’re a plumbers’ and electricians’ delight!
Visitors weren’t allowed through this doorway. From its position in the ship (basically underneath the bridge), I’m guessing it leads to the Combat Information Centre.
Onto the bridge. Still has a rather old-fashioned compass binnacle.
This is the helmsman’s seat.
Then up onto the top deck.
Newcastle has two launches: this is the larger one.
This is the Otobreda 76 mm gun. It’s located amidships on the upper deck. To give you an idea of size, the round standing on end is about 1 metre high. Hard to imagine that a gun this big can fire up to 85 rounds per minute.
The business end.
Here’s the Close-In Weapons System, located at the aft end of the upper deck. It’s the ship’s last line of defence against incoming missiles or aircraft. It’s uses the same gun as the Air Force’s F/A-18s. I asked the sailor pictured how often he gets to ‘fire’ it; he said about once a month, and sometimes they train against drones or targets towed by a LearJet. Of course he doesn’t really fire it; it’s pretty much automatic.
Looking down onto the boarding ramp.
I’m not really sure what this antenna is for.
On top of this tower is the sea search radar.
On the flight deck the crew had set up a sausage sizzle and weapon displays.
Just a couple of shots taken at Pokolbin yesterday afternoon. It was one of those winter days when the air is crystal-clear, and there’s a golden light from around 2 PM until sunset.
Newcastle’s just had it’s first East Coast Low of the winter, so I thought it would be a good idea to get some shots of the post storm seas this morning.
Here’s Bar Beach, taken from the new lookout at the bottom edge of the carpark.
And a couple of shots at Merewether Baths…
This weekend marked the 27th Hunter Valley Steamfest, and of course it’s a prime opportunity for photography as well, even if you’re not a trainspotter.
Given the subject matter, I have explored the use of some desaturation and high-contrast in these images. A high-pass filter magnifies the effect further.
The following 3 images were taken at Newcastle Station. This old man was the driver for excursion train to Newcastle on Saturday.
The train about to depart for Maitland.
Lots of brass and gauges in the cab.
This is the valve-gear of the excursion train to Dungog, taken at Maitland on Sunday.
This is the back face of the firebox of a traction engine, taken at Maitland on Sunday.
Just some old tools on display, taken at Maitland on Sunday.
This sequence was taken at Nobbys Breakwall last winter…
Taken at Dixon Park Beach, 3:30 PM Saturday 11th February.
NESCA House is located on the corner of King Street and Auckland Street, right next door to City Hall and across the road from Civic Park. It is a classic Art Deco style building designed by Emil Sodersten, and built for the Newcastle Energy Supply Council Authority (NESCA). The front portion of the building (facing King St) was finished in 1937, while a rear extension was added in the 1950’s. On the Auckland St side you can see the ‘joint’ where the stone cladding on the front portion has a radiused corner, against the flat cladding of the extension. In the photo below, you can see the slightly lighter coloured stone cladding of the 5 storey rear extension.
This is perhaps the finest Art Deco style building in Newcastle, and would have to be one of the best in Australia. If you think the front entrance looks like something out of Gotham City, you’d almost be right. The entrance was in fact used as a set in Superman Returns (2006) – as a bank.
Today NESCA House is called University House, as it is part of the University of Newcastle. I prefer NESCA House, mainly because hardly anybody knows what NESCA actually means.
Well, some 3 months after the chainsaws made their first appearance, it seems the Lama Street fig trees are finally on their way down. At around 4 AM on the morning of January 31st 2012, the chainsaws re-appeared, along with some 60-odd police from the riot squad.
There was a bit of a squabble, with some of the barricading coming down, but the situation soon settled with the police forming a cordon and the protesters mostly maintaining a silent vigil.
It’s predicted that the whole operation is going to take a couple of weeks.
Already, the southern vista from Civic Park is starting to take a radically new form…
Just a few shots from New Year’s Eve….
I caught the ferry over to Stockton where things are a bit more family friendly….
The Bogey Hole is a popular swimming spot in Newcastle, located beneath a headland and providing a spectacular vantage point to view the ocean. It was carved out in 1819 for the personal use of Major James Morisset who was the commandant of the penal colony.
It’s a steep path down from the top of the hill.
The existing steps and handrails are a bit dilapidated, and Newcastle Council has approved a restoration programme.
It’s a great place to catch the sun in the morning.
On 12th December 2011, a storm approaches Bar Beach, NSW from the south.
This video was a test of a technique and was composited from a series of still images. A neutral density filter and polarising filter were both used in order to allow 4 second exposures, hopefully capturing some lightning in the process.
This technique would work most effectively when it’s even darker, so the lens can be opened up a bit and longer exposures used.
I got this shot at Nobbys Beach a few weeks ago with my Samsung Galaxy phone, and I’m still quite chuffed about it. I feel it has a bit of a ‘Mark Rothkoesque’ feel to it. The high noise of the sensor just adds to the atmosphere. Not sure if the lifesaver’s board at the right-hand side adds to, or detracts from, the shot.
Anyway this just confirms that an interesting photograph doesn’t have to be an optically good photograph. When I was a youngster in the scouts I learnt how to make a pinhole camera. Now perhaps I should start shooting Newcastle with one of those!
The Hunter Street Mall has been looking a bit tatty recently, but last night it was pumping with the Red Lantern Markets. These are an initiative to help revitalise a part of Newcastle that’s pretty empty at night. Not only that, it’s an opportunity for local artisans to showcase their work and for the public to discover just how much really good quality arts, crafts and design there is in Newcastle….
It had been rainy all week, but the the sun finally broke through earlier in the day, and the evening was pretty warm and steamy. It suited the mood of the markets, I thought.
Now a description of just some of the stalls to be found.
Here’s some very cute handmade dolls by The Hair and the Tortoise.
Natural handmade candles by 2 Chi Candles.
Just a fraction of the jewellery on display by Mahala Handcrafted Jewellery.
Dandelion and Honey does kids toys, clothing, accessories and gifts.
More candles! This time from Polka Dot Candles. Here’s a basket set including fragrant oils.
On to something to eat. These cookies are from Nutso – gluten free and with nutty goodness.
Here’s something pretty unusual – a vinyl record cakestand. Not just cakestands – handbags as well, by Bags a Record!
How cute are these owlets. These and much more by Blossom and Cat.
I must be in the mood for things maritime today. Here’s a shot of Nobbys Headland after a storm passed through. Taken 30th October. The clear light against the dark clouds was magic, and the harbour waters seemed almost unnaturally calm. Good for pelicans.
On Monday 31st October an extraordinary Council meeting was scheduled to discuss the figs, but not enough Councillors turned up for a quorum!
This was taken on the steps of City Hall prior to the meeting.
By Wednesday there was a mini tent city in Civic park.
Word was the chainsaws were finally doing there work that day.
But the figs had a last-minute stay of execution. A supreme court injunction means that everything has been stopped. And we might finally get back access to our library and art gallery.
Last Saturday saw the return of the Fat as Butter festival to Newcastle. It’s now the premier music festival in Newcastle and brings headlining Australian and international acts…
Everybody was there to see and be seen, but someone forgot her sunglasses….
First band I shot: Pigeon
Crowd was getting slightly warmed up at this point…
And we had a bit of a quirky street performer show. I don’t think many of the punters quite knew what to make of it but I thought it was funny.
And so to Phat Photos Part 2…
I decided to take a trip down Hunter Street and get shots of all the derelict buildings and empty sites…….I started at Hunter Street Mall and worked westward.
The remains of the Lucky Country Hotel.
The Kensington Theatre is now an on-again, off-again nighclub.
Not really sure if this building was even ever completed. (It’s next to the burnt-out Civic Hotel). I think the bright idea was that it would have a first floor garage, and it appears there are columns for higher stories….but for the last 15 years at least it has been vacant.
The next five shots are of the remains of the plaza that used to run between Hunter St. and King St. This has been derelict for at least 5 years, and now looks like something from the zombie apocalypse.
The Hunter St. facade of the Star Hotel complex.
This is the site of the old Empire Hotel and Bank Corner Gym…now the State Government is offering expressions of interest for redevelopment.
Just an empty little shop at Bank Corner.
Years ago this place used to be a Thai restaurant.
The S & W Miller building at the Stewart Avenue lights.