Fuelled by a series of gold rushes in the second half of the 19th century, Melbourne became one of the richest cities in the world. The architecture of the day reflected the money pouring into the town, with ornate and classically inspired buildings springing up to house both the wealthy residents and the booming commercial interests of the day. Many of these buildings survive, although often as little more than a facade sprouting a modern skyscraper. However, many more were torn down and replaced by monstrosities during the urban renewal craze of the 1960s. The monstrosities are now, in their turn, coming down and being replaced by bigger and more efficient structures, better suited to the expectations of modern tenants. Occasionally (and thankfully....), there also appears to be a degree of flair being applied to their design.
Beach weather? In July? Yes, I know that at this time of year Melbourne is typically cold, wet and windy. But from time to time we get a calm day with mostly clear skies, and on those days sunset over the bay can be quite dramatic. On these two days a couple of weeks apart, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when the weather chose to put on a show. I even had the opportunity to go for a ride at a seaside amusement park, an opportunity I politely declined. And just because it's beach weather, doesn't mean you have to go swimming.
After the driest June on record, we're finally starting to see the odd bit of rain. It's been cold enough, but being so dry, it just doesn't seem like a Melbourne winter. The lack of rain is a problem for many, particularly farmers and ski resorts, and the reservoirs aren't getting their usual winter top-up. The past week has been showery, which hasn't done too much to help the situation, but at least it's a start.
Over the last couple of weeks I've been putting together a new computer, my first completely new machine in nearly seven years. The old one was still doing the job, but after so long I felt the time was right for a new one. It certainly feels faster than the old one, but it's more an incremental step forward than a giant leap. Certainly, Photoshop and Lightroom feel much snappier, and as they're my main tools I can't complain about that.
My "In Melbourne" series continues to develop slowly. I keep finding spots that seem to suit the feel I'm looking for, but finding the right person to complete the shot is very hit and miss, and more often miss than hit. Still, it's a long-term project, so I'm in no particular hurry.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.