Stormy Season

I have to say that I love the stormy season, and recently the Great Ocean Road has been providing some amazing scenes.

Whenever there is a slight chance of thunder and lightning being forecast I drop whatever I am doing at the time and head out towards the coast. Due to my emotionally charged state of mind, a moody sky pulls me in all the time; add to that some stormy seas and you will see me doing cartwheels on the sand.

Waist-deep in water, feeling every moment of energy as I reel off frame after frame. Not stopping for air, I make my images in a mad frenzy like a nutty professor who has just stumbled upon an amazing scientific breakthrough.

Onlookers watch in bewilderment as I’m just about knocked over by incoming waves, relentlessly one after the other. I stand my ground firmly against each onslaught, rather than retreating and possibly slipping or stepping into a rock pool due to the fact that I’m unable to see the bottom.

My first reaction if the water level may be too high is to raise my camera and tripod above me; otherwise I grasp onto the tripod firmly to keep its place secure. If you’re looking to do seascape photography, you can stand out in the car-park and set up from there, or alternatively be prepared to get wet.

It’s so important to know your tide times and photograph as the tide is receding, but always trust your instincts and never turn your back on the sea (unless you have eyes in the back of your head) :).

Darren J.

while l slowly slip away, red johanna beach, great ocean rd, victoria, australia

no way forward, apollo bay region, great ocean rd, victoria, australia

“Photographer of The Year 2011”

For the second year running I have been awarded the title of “Photographer of the Year” at the Melbourne Camera Club; once again I am honoured to receive this award.

Other awards for the year include…..

* The Len Mullumby Trophy for A Grade Aggregate Prints 2011
* Set Subject Aggregate Prints Trophy 2011

Best Nature Print for ‘Peek a Boo’

peek-a-boo, boorte, country, victoria, australia.

Best Colour Print for ‘The way we were’

the way we were, portrait, old town, xing ping, guilin, china

Best Landscape Print for ‘Burning Embers’

burning embers, bright, country victoria, australia.

Intro Course Coordinator

I have recently been appointed Coordinator of the Highly Successful Introduction to Photography Course at the Melbourne Camera Club. The club runs 2 courses per year, providing a series of lectures and practical workshops over a six week period.

The first course commences 7th February 2012 and followed by the 2nd course which commences in August. Our February course sold out within the first week of going online and we already have a waiting list for our August session. The course consists of 6 lessons (tuesday evenings) and 3 workshops (sunday mornings). The course is conducted at the Melbourne Camera Club.

The Intro Course has been running for over 20 years and continues to be a huge success.

I am looking forward to this new role, we have a great team of presenters that include Australian Landscape/travel photographer Peter Walton, who has been in the photographic business for over 40 years and has a wealth of experience. Robert Groom, who has been running the Intro Course for the last 15 years, is a well accomplished freelance photographer/educator and has been instrumental in getting the course to where it is today. Peter Chapple has been photographing fashion for over 20 years, his work speaks for itself and a host of other assistants.

You can check out their websites here……

Should be a great year ahead and keep in mind that l will be running land/seascape workshops throughout the year. Drop me a line with your interest.

Darren J.

Pieman Heads

Here is an image from my 2011 archives. March 2011 was my first Tasmanian photographic expedition; fellow photographer Rob Featonby and I spent two weeks travelling around Tassie, living out of the four wheel drive in what was an amazing getaway.

This particular image has been hiding away in my files until recently – I was back-tracking through my Tassie images and stumbled across this beauty – with a few Photoshop adjustments it’s looking a treat.

The location is Pieman Heads in Tasmania’s Tarkine Wilderness. Access is via a river cruise from Corrina along the Pieman River on the Arcadia 11 down through to the wild West Coast at Pieman Heads.

I’m looking for a few seascape photographers or lovers of nature to come and explore this wonderful region of Tasmania. Approximate time 1 week, setting off on a boat cruise down the Pieman River to the North side of Pieman Heads, setting up tents in the coastal camp.

The region is harsh and rugged, remote with no local shops and no way back except for boat pick-up. If you are interested in exploring this region, drop me an email expressing your interest and availability.

Darren J.

take me with you, north pieman heads, tasmania, australia

Cape Woolamai

Seasons Greetings to you all.

It seems like an eternity since my last post (three weeks), so I hope you all had a safe and happy festive season and wish you all the best throughout the coming year.

I would like to say that I have been keeping busy with photography, but this time of year I tend to take a little break-away from my photography. With the holiday makers, heavy crowds and traffic the best place for me is staying close to home until the holiday season comes to a close.

One of the reasons why I love being a photographer is being able to escape away from the crowds and busy lifestyle that surrounds us in a city environment. The feeling of being out there in the wilderness or ocean setting alone keeps pulling me closer and closer to it each time I visit.

My longing to be out photographing in the elements is overwhelming; these days I struggle to find my place within the urban sprawl, with the masses congregating and going about their daily business I am continuously dreaming of photographing the landscape.

This time of year is just way too crowded and busy for my liking, to be taking photos and camping out amongst all the holiday makes it very difficult to find ‘my space’ in the landscape.

For now I will bide my time and wait for the new year to unfold and then unleash myself into what I love best.

The images below where taken at Cape Woolamai, which is a small town and beach at the South-Eastern tip of Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia. Both images show the same rock formation with slow water motion creating an ‘s-curve’, which leads the eye around the foreground of the image, late sunlight hitting the foreground rocks giving a lovely lift to the scene.

When photographing foreground rocks it’s always more visually pleasing when the sunlight is reflecting onto them just after they have been hit by an incoming wave to create a glistening surface, although it depends on the type of rocks – some rocks will always have a dull craggy look about them.

So it’s important to choose your foreground rocks wisely for more impact. After a while you will become more familiar with what to look for, but always keep an eye on how the light falls upon on the rocks; it makes all the difference.

Also become familiar with the way water works its way around the rocks, watch the patterns and flow and envisage those movements within your own image, then capture it.

Darren J.

cape woolamai, curve, phillip island, victoria, australia

woolamai curve, cape woolamai, phillip island, victoria, australia

The Moon In My Eyes.

Latest image from Great Ocean Road.

I was lucky enough to wake early and have a sneak peek of the Moon over the 12 Apostles. What a beautiful sight it was, the moonlight from behind the Apostles and the first of the morning light illuminating the rock stacks in the foreground. The image was taken at 5.30am, with clouds moving in quickly from the South – I managed to shoot 3 images at 30-second exposures before the clouds completely covered the Moon and the moment was gone.

Image will be available for purchase as a Limited Edition from my Website.

Darren J.

moon in my eyes, 12 apostles, great ocean rd, port campbell, victoria, australia

Red Johanna Beach

Red Johanna Beach is amongst my favourite destinations when visiting Great Ocean Road. Each visit brings about a new look – with the shifting sands and constant tide flow, the face of Red Johanna is forever changing.
Each new season will also have an impact on the face of Johanna: you will find rock pools, various coloured algae, interesting rock formations and amazing views for sunrise; local surfers frequently visit to catch a wave or two.

For those of you who like camping, Red Johanna has an amazingly good camping ground. Situated slightly off the main tourist route, you can rest assured of finding your own space there. Be sure to take your rubbish home with you; I spend a lot of time around the coastline and am always disappointed to see so much trash left behind from holiday-makers and weekend warriors as I call them – we should all make an effort to help the environment and its inhabitants.

Darren J.

great ocean rd, melbourne, victoria, australia


great ocean rd, melbourne, victoria, australia


new world, great ocean rd, victoria, red johanna beach


red johanna beach, great ocean, rd, australian seascapes, victoria, australia

Moon Hill, Yangshuo

Moon Hill is another famous sight. Located approximately 8 kilometres south of Yangshuo, a great way to get there is to hire a pushbike in town and ride there – the views along the way are super and the traffic is not overly crowded.

I always prefer to get around town on a motorbike – a little more dangerous, but the amount of ground you cover is worth it. The surrounding countryside in Yangshuo is definitely worth seeing and with limited time I like to see as much as possible. Especially in more remote regions there is just so much on offer.

One morning I spent 5 hours cruising around the remote villages and towns, greeting the locals (who by the way don’t see to many westerners) and taking in the landscape. It was a beautiful morning with the wind in my hair and the open road ahead of me, I just love it…….. anyway, back to Moon Hill.

There is no mistaking Moon Hill, also known as “Bright Moon Peak”. With its distinctive geological shaped arch and massive hole in its peak, you can see it from a mile away. With different points of view, the massive hole in the arch takes on ‘Moon-like views’, ranging from full Moon, a half or even crescent Moon.

The walk up takes about 30-40 min, dependent upon fitness. The stone path is very well layed out, but with the late afternoon approaching I had to keep pushing on up the mountain, unable to take a few snapshots of the arch. Also, I was more interested in reaching the ‘peak’.

The adventure really starts when you hike up beyond Moon Hill viewing platform, along more of a natural winding steep dirt track which can be very slippery after rainfall, which I encountered on the way down.

Once reaching the ‘peak’, the first thing I noticed (apart from the spectacular views) was the refreshing breeze, which was soothing after a strenuous hike. A few more photographers made the climb up and enjoyed what was a truly memorable experience.

Darren J.

moon hill, sunset, yangshuo, guilin, china,

Lao zai Shan Mountain “Friendship Pavilion”

In September this year I spent two weeks in China. I have always wanted to see the Karst Mountain Peaks in Guilin, so I decided to make Lao Zai Shan (mountain) in Xing Ping my first stop.

I had arrived in Old Xing Ping Town on a bamboo raft river cruise, along the beautiful and majestic ‘Li Jiang River’. Taking in two hours of the most spectacular scenery, the still waters and Karst Mountain peaks had me gasping for air with every turn of my head; I was in total awe of the surrounding landscape.

With my feet back on solid ground and my suitcase stored away in my home-stay, I decided to have a guide lead me up to the top of Lao Zai Mountain for an evening sunset shoot, unbeknownst to me that the climb up the mountain was over 1000 steps along a very uneven path with steep rocks.

The weather was hot and humid and the air was still. Before what I assumed was the half way point, my t-shirt and shorts where drenched and sweat was continuously pouring from my body, taking into account I was carrying over 20kgs of camera gear and tripod on my back. My guide had gestured several times to help carry my gear, but I declined, thinking the climb would not be so arduous.

There was a stage in the climb where I gestured to my guide that I wanted to go back down, but he pointed his finger in an upward direction and somehow assured me we had nearly reached to top, so on we marched.

Before reaching the top there is a 5 metre climb up a rickety old ladder, and trying to manoeuvre up and down with a camera bag and tripod in tow is very tricky and requires concentration. Once reaching the Pagoda, make sure you scramble up a little further over some rocks to get the best views, which are claimed to be the best in the region. Make no mistake about it, the views really are spectacular.

I climbed the Mountain twice during my 5 days in Xing Ping and will be heading back there in late April 2012, hoping for more atmospheric weather with mist and fog rising in the peaks.

Be sure to carry lots of water, and I do mean bucket loads, and a good telephoto lens to capture the layers of the Karst peaks. Sunset is the best view looking North over Xing Ping to Yangdi. If you need any advice or would like to join my tour next April, feel free to message me.

Darren J.

Campbells Cove.

campbells sea huts, old, werribee south, victoria, australia

Yesterday evening, without too much time left to spare, I decided to make a last minute dash to Campbell’s Cove in Werribee South, taking into account it only takes me 25 minutes to drive there and a severe storm was approaching Melbourne. Upon my arrival to Campbell’s Cove, the storm was in full swing, heavy rains and lightning blasting away.

Once the rain eased up, I decided to grab my umbrella, step out of the car and tempt fate by grabbing a few snapshots, when right above me the heavens decided to give me a wake up call and let loose with one of the mightiest thunder claps l have ever heard; leaving me cowering for cover and at that moment the best option was to dive back into the car.

The storm passed through within about 30 minutes and once it was safe, I cautiously grabbed my gear and started snapping away. Campbell’s Cove has a lot of interesting photo opportunities given the right conditions. Old Sea Huts, which are colourfully painted and very attractive to the eye, always a great focal point. Also an old tractor hitched up with a boat in tow laying amongst waist high grass, a little bit dicey with snakes, though.

tractor towing boat, abandoned, werribee south, victoria, australia

Whilst taking some snapshots, one of the locals made his way over to ask what I was up to. We chalked up a conversation and he advised me of plans to remove the old tractor and boat, due to the issue of snakes; which didn’t help me none, considering I had just stepped out from the thick grasses, but l did make mention that they should leave the tractor and boat in place as it makes for wonderful subject matter. I must say he didn’t find it to amusing.

The images shown were taken before and after sunset.

Darren J.