08 July 2019

The road less traveled

When I come in a fork in the road I take it.
I take the road less traveled as it gives me a different perspective to the predictable.


heading home

Winter sunset over the Scenic Rim of South East Queensland.


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17 May 2019

Outback camping.

Long time sea kayaking buddy, companion of many expeditions, joined me on an overnight ride to the country. We picked the roads less traveled and in the late afternoon we ended up on dusty unsealed ones. We were looking for a secluded spot to camp for the night.

gravel road
Canon TV-16 50mm f1.4


commanding respect
Vanilla sporting that kind of look that commands respect, the face of wisdom.     Canon TV-16 50mm f1.4


Towards sunset we found what we wanted: a seldom used rural track that was a wide corridor of trees and short grass, with the occasional tree-trunk to sit on.

beloved bush

We were travelling light with tarps instead of tents for shelter. There was a light breeze in the air but it calmed down once dark. No frost yet but it is just a matter of weeks before that will happen.
Clear skies and no light-pollution from the urban sprawl; there was a meteor shower although peaking too early in the morning for me to care waking up and getting a proper look.

ideal campsite


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14 March 2019

Vintage wheels

In a society avidly seeking Artificial Intelligence to drive our daily lives some revel in the counter-culture of analogue, where mechanical triumphs over electronic.
I am not here or there but I not particularly fond of machines making all the decisions for me :-)

the machine


On one of my recent outings I stumbled across a peculiar gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts that enjoy to reminiscent an era where motorcycles were a bit crude and needed much more input from the rider to keep those wheels on the road.


red Triumph




old and newer


It was an outing from member of the Brisbane Cafe Racers making The Gantry their destination that day.
In the mix of many shiny motorcycles there were a few modern ones but the emphases seemed to be on non water-cooled or electric-start engines.


polished


 Needless to say that there were many vintage motorcycles of different eras and purpose, from road racers to low-powered commuters to scooters. Some adhere to the pristine look of original unaltered style while others are happy to mix&match parts from several bikes.


chrome Triumph




tool roll


I felt a vibe of laid-back attitude permeating under the roof of the old saw mill. Some took the look of their rides very seriously while others almost seemed to mock them with unkempt beat-up sleds.


racing stripe




battle Vespa



The banter was friendly and the conversation jovial, and while I wanted to know more about this club I was overwhelmed by the visual feast in front of me. I was busy looking and photographing the bikes until time came that they had to move on to their next riding destination.


bubble visor




biker bitch


All images created on Olympus E-M1 and a refitted F.Zuiko 32mm f1.7


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25 February 2019

The need for getting lost

I find a strange pleasure in getting lost, intentionally.
In a world that is fully mapped with extreme detail, where the eye-in-the-sky of Google Earth can bring me to view any tiny remote place on the planet, I sometimes long for the feeling of not knowing where I am.
Being lost, at least temporarily, in a natural setting brings me the (false) sense that the world is not so small after all.
Where not essential, like in a busy urban environment, I prefer to not use electronic navigation aids. I roughly work out where I want to head away from busy places and then often I just want to explore.

Lately I have been finding myself more and more drawn to dirt roads where a clear direction is not defined. I choose a forest with a network of trails, some rather smooth, some very rough, not suitable for my riding choice. I have to make a judgment call not to bite more than I chew.
As they say: when you come to a fork in the road, take it.
Sometimes my gut feeling says right and other times left, according to what valley or mountain ridge  peek through the forest trees.

lost in the forest
Getting lost, no longer sure of my heading

Last Sunday I had full tank of gas and enough water in my backpack to keep thirst at bay. I rode for a few hours, stopping at times when the views demanded it.
Slowly I could no longer work out the right perceived direction to get back onto the pavement. I knew if I rode long enough I could have popped out somewhere but the rutted, rocky and pot-holed tracks were tiring me out; I didn't want to make a mistake and crash.

forest track
Steep, loose and dusty

I stumbled across a 4X4 driver, stopped at an intersection and swallowing my manly pride rode up to the driver side and asked for directions.
She had a phone in her hand looking at a map and pointed me in the direction I came from: "take a left when you come at the last intersection, keep left and eventually you will get out".
I had my phone in my pocket with detailed GPS maps too but somehow it was easier and nicer to ask for directions.

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13 December 2018

The menace of geotagging

I enjoy the outdoors.
I have been enjoying the outdoors before it became trendy, actually when it was still uncool.
At school I didn't want to reveal that I enjoyed walking in the forest, or hike up mountains; it just wasn't the done thing.

Sunset at granite belt


With the advent of social media, specifically YouTube, I started to see a shift in the perception of the outdoors: it no longer was just a place for misfits and simpletons. Add a bit of adrenaline sport and suddenly every kid wanted to be a hero outdoors with his GoPro.

But GoPro video footage requires an attention span from the viewer slightly longer than the one of a kitten. Still images are viewed much faster and easily, especially on mobile devices with possibly sketchy reception.
Welcome Instagram: a portal of vicarious life for the masses.

I don't think one needs much talent to create compelling images for Instagram: just about all of them are viewed on a tiny screen. Any camera can produce the perfect photograph and the mobile phone, constantly in the hands of any "adjusted" young person, is the ultimate enabler of projecting a life that we want others to see. We trim the mundane, the ugly and the boring; we only want the best to shine. My life has to look fabulous; only that way I will have a social status among my peers.

And what better way to show how successful I am than constantly showing my life is better than theirs?
Bling and toys only can influence so much but nothing is more desirable than visiting exotic locations, in my book.
It was 1990 when a tiny image on a small shoe brochure stunned me: Arches National Park (Utah).
6 months later I bought a ticket and I was on my way to discover the untamed West. Well, it was by then tamed but I saw just one other car in the whole park; I hiked the few established trails and then took off track and camped at (now) iconic locations.

This is the very same location today, where years ago I pitched my tent for the night, all alone.

Delicate Arch Sunset

What happened?
One word: geotagging

In the me-too world where the masses want to emulate their (Instagram) heroes the simple act of geotagging a posted image can literally destroy a once unique and pristine place.
And while I do respect a photographer for his/her art I loose all respect for selfie-stick toting crowds that all all costs must include themselves in the scenery. And you guess it: to prove that their life is also worthy of social status.
The problem is that the masses are large, and just like a plague of locust of biblical proportions, have been known to trample an destroy natural beauty.

That brings me to last weekend.
I visited a friend of mine that lives a few hours away from the city. I like the countryside there, the rolling hills and mountains with rainforest tops. The area is not well known and he treated me to an off road adventure in his 4WD to a secluded location.

New Austria


The scenery stunned me as much as the absence of any crowds. There was no sign of tramping, rubbish or even much traffic. I loved the scenery.
At the end of the day I was truly content: I wanted to share that wonderful place with other close friends.
And then it dawn on me: is it safe to do so?
I am now in two minds: it would be selfish to keep it all to myself but at the same time I fear that a careless act from my friends of simply posting a nice photograph on some (anti)social media, describing the location, could lead to trampling Insta-crowds.
If only I could blind-fold them and disable their phones prior leading them there :-)

broccoli valley

Off the beaten track, literally



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30 October 2018

Off the beaten path

When chasing dreams of years past I feel most comfortable when I am in "adventure" mode.
Sea kayak expeditions certainly give me that but a friendly coast that allows me to explore is not always easy to attain.
Before my wet adventures I used to ride motorcycles, adventure bikes, before that class even existed.
I am now back on two wheels and while backroads away from the main highways do give me a sense of escape, my heart is still in the dirt, dirt roads that is.

XSR700 scrambler
Yamaha XSR700

My bike needed some tires that would make it sing on gravel, it needed teeth to bight into the soil.
While not really a machine that could cross the desert like my previous rides, this little thumper behaves well enough to be comfortable on country farm roads that are not paved. And that is where I like to ride.


Backroads exploring_bw


There is no traffic, only the occasional vehicle that is going into town for supplies. There is a bit of dust and a few creek crossings, a bit of loose stones and mud after rain. There are no curbs or shoulders, no speed cameras and drunken drivers, no ass-hauling trucks with swaying trailer. Mostly there is nobody out there, just me. But I see horses and cows, and towards the evening a few kangaroos that hop across the road. Speeds are low but the ride is thrilling in a different way.


billabong


And then I stop anywhere I want and there is nothing but silence, maybe an undertone buzzing sound of insects, maybe a laughing kookaburra.
Inevitably my eyes keep on scouting for suitable places to camp even if I have no intention to do that tonight. It's like in the old days when I used to ride with a few buddies, heading West.
Bikes loaded with camping gear and a map stuck to the gas tank. It was pre-digital era where a compass would be consulted occasionally. I still carry a map today even if my phone could get me out of a geographical embarrassment if needed.


back to riding_bw



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10 October 2018

Imagination

Raupe in evening light

Good photography requires imagination; and that by definition cannot be automated. Net effect: frustration after spending a silly amount of money, move on to the next thing that delivers instant gratification. Ming Thein

The distinct feeling of frustration when after spending a good chunk of money on the latest/greatest and finding the results aren't met but the expectations.
And yet the cycle will continue by chasing the next iteration of the "latest and greatest" in hope that this one will really deliver the promised stunning images as seen in the advertising material.
Without the realization that the missing part is one's imagination that is required to create good photography, the best gear in the world will never produce more than possibly technically perfect images that will unfortunately lack appeal.

Money can buy very good equipment but can not buy talent.


06 September 2018

Nostalgia

When they say you can’t go back, I think they mean because you can go back to a place, but you can’t go back to a feeling, or back to the person you were. Which is maybe why nostalgia is such a strange, heavy, sad and happy feeling—sad that something is gone, happy that it happened, and sad you can’t manage to get there again, no matter how hard you try.   _by Brendan Leonard

riding outback



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21 May 2018

Ride to the country

As we come into autumn, and soon winter, the skies promise to remain blue with little chance of rain, while the temperatures are much more comfortable than at the start of the year.
Perfect weather for riding

colorful road_ by Chris Eastwood
E.Zuiko 100mm f3.5  photo: Chris Eastwood

Getting away from the city takes a few hours heading West and once the traffic dies down to a trickle the country side opens up revealing its nostalgic charm.

disused
G.Zuiko 40mm f1.4  photo: Chris Eastwood

Queensland back road still offer some great rural scenery that has not been exploited by the Instagram masses, leaving the places intact with a genuine sense of nostalgia. Needless to say I won't be geotagging these :-)

ghostly place
Lumix-G 14mm f2.5 

Once these cottages were home to farmers and graziers, now fast transportation from town allows to attend the properties without living on them.

better days
G.Zuiko 40mm f1.4

I find that travelling by motorcycle to be the perfect mean of transportation to allow for roadside photography. I don't have to look for a spot to park my car; I just pull over on my two wheels and often I am able to photograph while still seated in the saddle.


back roads
Pentax-110 70mm f2.8


warm evening
E.Zuiko 100mm f3.5


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12 February 2018

Birds on my balcony

Over the years I have befriended some birds that are territorial in my neighborhood; they live there and don't migrate.
Magpies are often seen roaming around gardens and are rather used to people in the suburban sprawl.
From my initial timid toss of some cheese towards them, the magpies soon regarded me as a "friendly" person (they can recognize dozens of people and they form an opinion if you are deemed as "safe").
It did not take long for them to fly in onto my balcony when they saw me around and started to expect a hand out every so often.
I was more than happy to have the feathered guest: after all they sing much nicer than the crows.

Brutus confident

And then all of the sudden they disappeared: did not see them for a month.
Eventually returned and were more hungry than ever but rarely consumed their food on the balcony: they would fill up their beak and fly away to return a short time later.
Something was going on: they must have young ones that they are feeding?

I was right: one day I saw a brown looking, fluffy feathered nagging (for food) bird in the nearby tree with parents now shuttling food from my hand to him.

Fritz18 first visit
M.Zuiko 75mm f1.8 1/160sec

A week or so and the young one was able to fly well enough to be brought closer and soon he was right beside the parents, eventually accepting food from my hand.
A few timid bights (some to my fingers when he missed) he now can feed himself rather well.

At the same time the Butcher Birds also started to observe that good food was handed out at my place; they soon joined in and after some initial protests from the magpies are now on friendly terms: there is enough food for all.

Gill and Brutus' dinnertime
adapted E.Zuiko 4,5cm f2.8 (for Olympus ACE) 1/160sec

Much more agile than the magpie these birds will catch food mid-air but I prefer the interaction of them reaching for my hand

Fluffy feed
adapted Jupiter-9 85mm f2 1/800sec

And yes, the butcher birds also has their young which is much more cheeky than the magpie chick.

snatching
Samyang 12mm t2.2   1/160sec


Breakfast with Fluffy_3
Samyang 12mm t2.2   1/1250sec


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19 December 2017

Genuine feeling

While often I am drawn to the conventional "pretty features" of people, beauty can also mean something different to me: often not just their physical appearances but their sincerity and genuine disposition
I found that in a very small village on the Coral Coast in Fiji; somehow the look on their faces seems to radiate the altruism that they carry within.


Leone's passion
refitted F.Zuiko 32mm f1.7  (from Pen EED)  1/25sec

They share their passion for helping others, would that be trough singing and praying, on a mission that doesn't discriminate religion; all are welcome.
I was invited to their humble premises where I was welcomed to sit on the floor to listen to their beautiful voices accompanied by a guitar.

Leone and Johnny


I didn't notice any shyness and no reservation in me taking a few photographs there. Nobody asked me: "What are going to do with those photographs?"
A very refreshing interaction, so different than the self-image obsession of the Western world.

Mary at the mission
refitted F.Zuiko 32mm f1.7  (from Pen EED)  1/2500sec

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03 November 2017

Inverted autumn

The Northern hemisphere is enjoying that wonderful time of the year where leaves turn pale, yellow and eventually fire red. In some locales the spectacle is indeed a feast for the eyes and I envy the photographers that have the opportunity to witnesses such beauty.

autumn on blueberries bush
early autumn colors in Sweden, adapted Canon TV-16 50mm f1.4   1/640sec

While in here in Australia the opposite is happening right now: spring is in full bloom. Trees are covered with flowers and some have new growths that mimic the autumn foliage.

new sprouting leaves
adapted Kodak 102mm f2.7   1/1000sec

colors of spring
adapted Kodak 102mm f2.7   1/500sec


Trees bloom and loose the petals at a fast rate covering the forest floor with flowers instead of leaves

yellow carpet creek
refitted F.Zuiko 32mm f1.7  1/320sec


leafy cascade
adapted Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7  1/25sec

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09 October 2017

The art of being lost

In a world where roads, sign and people are everywhere I can't get lost.
For most of the year I live in a structured society and my little niche is well defined, I am just a small cog in a massive machine and there is very little wiggle room.
I never have to really think how to find a place even if I have never been there before. My car or my phone can talk to me and tell me where I am or how to get where I want.... there is never any guessing.

The art of being lost
F.Zuiko 32mm f1.7  1/5000sec

Once I year I have the luxury to be off grid where I can exercise the opportunity of being lost.
I paddle out in my kayak away from houses and roads and I just wonder around, not really too concerned with where I will end up in the evening. After all, I have right with me what is needed for a least a few days, food and shelter are guaranteed.

Lingon highway
Canon TV-16 50mm f1.4  1/320sec

I generally take the direction that looks prettiest to me and I wiggle my way through the islands trying to not go around in circles, but if I do that's fine too. I have given up on "destination anxiety" and I no longer set myself with a goal of so many miles per day. I rather spend some time on a particularly interesting island and explore its shore to spend some time photographing.

almost full
Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f3.5-5.6  1/100sec

I have no desire to find out and then go to "good campsites", the "must see spots" and I never plot a course beforehand and follow it. I much prefer to travel spontaneously to suit my mood and interest as the day goes by.
I don't carry a GPS as I don't want a machine to tell me how I am doing, how fast I am going and how far I have to go. What is the point of getting away from it all to then create yet another unnecessary constraint?
I have a basic map with me that helps me find a place that might have supplies for the next few days and I consult it when time comes.
And in between those necessary stops I feel free to think and I am present in the moment, absorb my surrounding and allow myself to be off-line, not answering to any calls or not slave to this screen.

shore exploring
Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f3.5-5.6  1/500sec

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