I don't shoot as much nature as I used to. I guess my mindset is elsewhere most of the time these days, and nature has become a bit of an opportunistic pastime, rather than an active pursuit. Still, when a subject presents itself, I enjoy both the challenge and the results enormously. Which begs the question of why I don't do it more often. I have no idea, and I really should get out and smell the flowers more often.
Central Melbourne's myriad laneways and alleys were once dirty, dingy and often dangerous, not much more than places to facilitate deliveries and rubbish collection. That's all changed over the past 30 or 40 years as the CBD has become more of a social than business hub. Now, they're lined with street art and bustling with activity. While both tourists and locals flock to places like Hosier Land and ACDC Lane for the art, others byways have become culinary destinations.
Centre Place, off Flinders Lane, is one of the busiest of the dining hot-spots. Aided by its central location, it's bustling from early in the morning till well past the lunchtime peak. Nearly every one of the often tiny storefronts is serving some sort of enticing fare, making it a great place to grab a quick bite, or just settle in for a relaxed meal. The bustle also makes it a great place to watch people, which is what usually takes me there. The food is just a nice bonus.
When I first arrived at the University of Melbourne in 1977, it seemed vast and imposing, a curious mix of everything from beautiful 19th century sandstone to functional late 20th century concrete. I was not much of an architecture connoisseur, but I felt affection for the sandstone, and was bemused that the ugliest building on campus (now thankfully demolished) housed the architecture faculty. However, there was one structure which fascinated me, and curiously enough it was a carpark.
Under the sprawling South Lawn was the aptly named underground carpark, a striking vaulted space designed to accommodate the roots of trees growing above. The iconic structure has been used as a movie set (the police garage in the original Mad Max), a Master Chef dining room and a fashion catwalk. When empty (not an uncommon occurrence in the 70s), it feels eerie and sepulchral, however I haven't seen it empty for years as the University is active pretty much year-round these days. I was therefore quite surprised to find it vacant on a recent visit, and it turns out that the carpark is going re-purposed. My informant couldn't tell me what the new use will be, or when it will happen, but I've made the most of it over the last few weeks while I still can.
I know, I know, things have been a bit quiet lately on everyone's favorite blog. In fact, things have even been quiet here on Miralight Imaging....
While I have been trying every bit as hard as usual to find interesting things to shoot lately, things just haven't been clicking like they were through the middle of the year. It comes from the contempt bred by familiarity I suppose, as I haven't been getting away much and treading the same old paths gets a bit tired. Still, I have managed to come up with the odd shot I'm pleased with, so here's a bumper - and somewhat random - crop of pictures to make up for the fact that I've been neglecting my loyal subscribers of late.
Go wild /
The Victorian Orchid Spectacular takes place each year at the end of August, and is the largest orchid show in Victoria. For the past few years I've been putting a few entries into the photography competition run in conjunction with the show. While it's an opportunity to have your work judged and possibly win some prizes, mostly it's a chance gain free entry to the show. It's an interesting outing and a chance take some orchid photos for next year's entries.
This year I was lucky enough to win first prize in the cultivated orchid section. That was quite pleasing of course, but having now found out there were two sections, the challenge had been laid down. I did some research and found the Baluk-William Reserve on the outskirts of Melbourne is a well-known habitat for native orchids. I made the trip and was rewarded with a few elusive specimens of Caledenia Carnea. It's quite a challenge to photograph these plants in the wild - they’re just a few centimetres high, and the slightest puff of breeze sets them swaying. Still, it was a pleasant and quite rewarding morning.
Sometimes you struggle to see anything that seems worth pointing the camera at. This usually happens to me when I haven't had a change of scene for a while, and treading the same familiar paths becomes a bit, well, too familiar. But there's always a different viewpoint to discover if you're patient and alert. That happened over the last couple of days, and it turned into something that continued to develop.
Strolling down one of Melbourne's street art covered laneways, I spotted a couple of discarded spray paint cans and it seemed there was a story there somewhere. I started working the scene, kicking the cans on to a grille which added some interesting lines to the composition. Then, for some variety, I waited for someone to walk into the shot. The only problem with that is that when people see you crouched down with the camera close to the ground, they'll often - kindly they think - stop and wait for you to get your shot, not known that they're meant to be part of the shot. Still enough people passed that I got something to work with. But, for me, the gold came when someone decided to hurry through the scene, even doing a little jump to get through quickly.
So, if your vision is just not working for you, have patience, the shots are out there.
It's spring, and as always that means flowers are blooming. I used to photograph flowers a lot more than I do now. They're beautiful, technically challenging to photograph well, and everyone loves a good flower shot. But even though my tastes and inclinations have changed with the years, I still enjoy both the process and the results when I get around to working with a few blooms.
The presenters of a podcast I used to listen to once proclaimed that "no-one has ever become famous for photographing flowers". My friend Martin says that Robert Mapplethorpe was famous for photographing flowers, although I contend that that wasn't what made him famous. Either way, it hasn't worked for me yet.
My apologies, I have been somewhat neglectful of my blog recently. For no particular reason, I have found it difficult to put fingers to keyboard and write a blurb about these photos, which I actually uploaded to the site some two weeks ago. As with many things, the longer you put them off, the harder it gets. No matter, I'm here now.
Our art galleries and museums are wonderful places where we can go to experience cultural exhibits of all kinds. I also find them great places to observe the visitors. It helps that the spaces often lend themselves to artistic compositions. Perhaps the artistry of the contents seeps out and imbues the buildings themselves, and even the food vans outside.
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.