Winter is coming by Mario Mirabile

Well, technically it's already here, even if you count the start of winter from the solstice. But it hasn't really kicked in as yet - the weather has been mild, with sunny days the norm. While it looks like all that's about to change, there's still a bit of autumn colour about, just managing to hang on for one last brief flash before the wind and rain start in earnest.

And for those of you who recognize the source of the title of this post, the return of GOT is only 3 weeks away. That will keep me warm for an hour or so each week.

A growing family by Mario Mirabile

It's been more than 20 years since we've had a new baby in our home, but 3 months ago we welcomed the arrival of Maggie. We've dusted off our tomes on all the classic child-rearing topics like feeding, toilet training and education, and feel like we're well on the way to raising a well-adjusted child. A cheeky little bundle of fun, I'm sure she's of the opinion that she's well on the way to having us well trained.

Ghosts by Mario Mirabile

The summer of 2009 is the hottest I can remember, with the temperature frequently hitting the 40s for days on end. By the time February rolled around, the heat seemed almost normal, but even so, Saturday February 7th stood out. The temperature hit 47 degrees and a strong northerly wind blew, and by early afternoon severe bushfires were being reported. It became known as Black Saturday, and the fires which raged to the north and east of Melbourne eventually claimed nearly 200 lives.

While there was widespread devastation, the event which hit home the hardest with me was the near total destruction of the pretty little town of Marysville. Of all the affected communities, it was the one with which I was most familiar. I’ve been back a few times since that terrible day, most recently just last weekend, and gradually the community and town has been rebuilt. But there are reminders of the fires everywhere, and perhaps the most notable are burnt out forests. The trees are gradually growing back from the bases as eucalypts do, but the charred and bleached skeletal remains of their former selves remain. There is a sad beauty in the stands of tall mountain ash and twisted snow gums, a reminder that no matter how hard we try, we cannot subdue nature.

Chasing shadows by Mario Mirabile

As we head toward winter, Melbourne usually affords us a few last days of sunshine before the gloom sets in. The light is watery, and often further softened by a lingering fog haze. Even at its noon zenith, the sun has an appealing softness and shooting into the light is not as difficult as it can be in summer. But it's the shadows that really catch the eye, and in the middle of the day they are long and distinctive. It's a great time of year to wander Melbourne's lanes and alleyways.

Metropolis by Mario Mirabile

I have been mulling over the germ of an idea which may eventually form part of a collection. The idea - "In Melbourne" - is a series of images, all featuring one or more people, taken in Melbourne, but which do not necessarily feature any particular recognizable Melbourne locations. It's not intended to be a travelogue, but rather a series of snapshots of living in Melbourne. The pictures could all be considered street photography, but perhaps not in the classic sense. They all have a degree of post-processing and manipulation which would be frowned upon by street photography purists, but which sits very comfortably with the way I perceive my art.

In looking back through street photographs I've taken in Melbourne over the last few years, I can see some themes emerging, and perhaps even the beginnings of a distinctive style, something which I didn't really think I possessed. I certainly like strong graphic elements, and I generally look for (or create) uncluttered compositions. The end result doesn't always fit that mould, but a little variety keeps things interesting.

A day to remember by Mario Mirabile

Firstly, my apologies for my apparent lack of activity over the last few weeks. I have in fact been very busy with various things, and every time I thought of sitting down to write a post, I just felt too tired. I'm still too tired, but I think I need to make the effort.

For the last few years I've been going into the city on Anzac Day. While many people are busy photographing the marching and other activities, for me it's been the returned service people that keeps bringing me back. The men and women who were taken from their family and friends and sent to war no doubt returned profoundly changed by what they experienced. But whatever hardships they endured, they now gather to re-connect with old friends and remember the good times, and be glad they found their way home. 

Into the blue by Mario Mirabile

Early autumn is my favourite time of year.  Even though March has been unusually warm and humid, the weather - at least for a week or two - managed to right itself and deliver what was expected. The mornings have been crisp, the days warm and the evenings balmy. The sky has a special saturation not seen in the harsh light of high summer or the dreary days of winter, and even in the middle of the day the light seems gentle. Calm winds allow interesting high level cloud patterns to form and linger. 

Unfortunately, this idyllic period appears to have already passed, with rain and storms now the order of the day. But it was good while it lasted.

Coasting by Mario Mirabile

No visit to Victoria's south-west is complete without a trip down the Great Ocean Road to the Shipwreck Coast. Aptly named, this wild strip of coastline between Warrnambool and Cape Otway saw more than its fair share of disaster and heartbreak during the era of sail. These days, the towering cliffs, sea stacks and tiny inlets draw tourists from all over the world to marvel at its rugged beauty.

Rain, rain go away by Mario Mirabile

Having got some outstanding jobs out of the way, I'm finally starting to look through a few of the pictures from my trip to Apollo Bay. As it's been unseasonably warm, humid and wet in Melbourne, it seemed appropriate to start with some images of the Otway rainforest.

Rainforest is a word that most people wouldn't associate with Victoria, but the Great Otway National Park includes several large areas of pristine temperate rainforest. The high hills of the Otway ranges which run right down to the shores of the southern Ocean create a wet and humid environment which promotes lush growth of trees, ferns and fungi. Even the streams and rivers flow year round. It's a beautiful area, and even with the hordes of tourists who flock to the scenic wonders of the Great Ocean Road and Shipwreck Coast not far away, the rainforest seems quiet and peaceful.

Many moods by Mario Mirabile

I have no idea what happens to all my time. I've been back from my seaside sojourn for nearly two weeks and I've barely scratched the surface of the task of looking through the photos I brought back (let alone the ones I've taken since...). As usual, I'm my own hardest critic as I flick through the hundreds of frames looking for gold, and I can't seem to find anything I'm really pleased with.

I'll start with a few which show the moods of the sea and reflect the weather over the week we were at Apollo Bay. Dark and brooding storms, placid  balmy days, majestic curling surf and golden dawns provided something different every day. Nothing like a bit of variety to keep things interesting. 

Small things by Mario Mirabile

I'm taking a week off next week and heading down the west coast. I'm looking forward to beautiful light and broad vistas, but whatever the weather brings it will be good to get away for a few days. I've been very busy trying to wrap up some things at work before heading off, so I haven't been out and about much at lunchtime. Perhaps its just over-familiarity with the places I've been able to get to, but my attention has been caught mainly by small details rather than large on the few short outings I've managed.

I'm not really looking for anything in particular, and sometimes it's the strangest things that catch my eye. Mundane objects like a rusty old lock poking out from a seemingly plain background take on new dimensions as I play with angle and focus. It really doesn't take much to keep me entertained. 

Hot stuff by Mario Mirabile

Summer has finally arrived in Melbourne. This week has seen temperature consistently climb into the high 30s, and the nights remain sultry and uncomfortable. The accompanying dry northerlies have helped make things even more unpleasant. As such, it's easier to just stay in the air-conditioned comfort of the office rather than go wandering looking for photographic gems at lunchtime. But today I decided enough was enough, so I braved the heat and went for a walk.

To be honest, I didn't get very far. Even so, it's possible turn up new and interesting bits and pieces, even on well trodden trails. Abstract bits of steel in building signage, the  wacky geometry of reflected buildings and shadowy breezeways all take on a new perspective if you look hard enough. And all found within a couple of hundred metres of the office front entrance and air-conditioned relief.