Como Collection 2

In response to Petra's comment on my previous post ... here's some more Como goodness :-)

In January I visited some lovely old cottages in the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria. Tastefully restored and surrounded by all manner of photographic goodness :-)


Como Collection

In January I visited some lovely old cottages in the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria. Tastefully restored and surrounded by all manner of photographic goodness :-)

All of my heart

20140119_NIKON D600_DSC_3690


"Once upon a time when we were friends

I gave you my heart, the story ends.

No happy ever after ... now we're friends..."

ABC - All Of My Heart

Not that my heart is breaking ... far from it :-)

I always loved this song and was singing it this morning ... I think it works :-)


Words await an eye's caress

letters strewn with love
words await an eye's caress
as breath brings forth life

A haiku for today.

Image is one of a series I created in 2011 to document the hand-crafted books of Fran Ifould. This particular book was titled Enviroroulette and you can view the complete series here.


After a long silent time
With a friendly peck on the cheek
She was off to the ocean with it's crystal blues and sunsparkl'd azures

He cleaned up after she left
The glasses and tobacco
plates and sheets
papers and her hair
Draped on pillows
creating casual arcs on the tiles
debris on the shore as after a rough sea

Emerging into sunshine
hot and beating
to return to the bench
with a cordial
and a smoke
the litter of butts surrounding
testimony to the time spent there last night
and one...
the first one

the one when she first arrived
happy and expectant
hair cut and straight
new skirt 
and totally gorgeous
with lipstick

a touch remained on the single butt
the first one she kissed
before the blackstar
emerged later from behind the moon
and played it's game of scramble
and miscommunication
and churned joy into turgid silence 
and distance

The first one
with lipstick

he cried then
when his eye caught it
hot tears of hurt and love
for their fragile hearts
each now cracked
and from where?
He dare not seek a why and be forever searching
for something he would never find
for the blackstar 
in wicked interferences conspires never to reveal

It has it's methods own
The blackstar
honed on our fears
with twisting happen-stance and evil synchronicities
bent on undoing the fine tapestries
of our lives and dreams
Plans? Pfft! She told me once
[and not very long ago!]
She had met the blackstar before and is no stranger to it
Perhaps she called it something else
We've all known it
with someone we love

Enough of the blackstar!
Just fuck off back to wherever you came from.
[He uttered it forcefully enough to cause a magpie to tilt and peer]
[OK it wasn't quite screamed but it had intent!]

In the heat of the sun
breeze hot and crisp 
it left him alone
and he was


He thought of her then
driving down the mountain
Her hair fragranc'd with his shampoo
The road a focus 
for the singular cogency that road tripping delivers
angling to arrive 
at land's edge
the coast
and the promised purity of the ocean's kiss
the refreshing salty cleansing
and momentary exhilaration
of the heart
only the sea's immersive embrace
as only the ocean can
and will
when nothing else works...

Swim strong my love.

[8 February 2014]

The Fountain

Shortly after
In a musky twilight space
when they are spent
and the breeze takes their sweat
in cool inhalations
He listens to her breath grow long and slow
and lies there quite awake

In this head of his
in amongst the crowded visions
and vivid tangents
the textures and tutorials
the voices and aching cries

There is a space
centred but not quite central
where it is quiet
in a circle of olive cobblestones
there's a fountain
its waters the source of his tears
its sound his deep chuckles
its sparkling clarity his love

The air is warm and humid
and in the dusk beyond fountain's light
a garden overgrown beyond it's humble plan
with arch and arbour
paths and bramble
Wild patches riotous with colour blooming where her light has shone

and in that dusky darkness
with its slow breathing rhythms
he reaches out
and together with her sleepy interlocking fingers
takes her hand in his

(December 2013)

Gettin' the Groove On

I'm shooting a wedding this afternoon ... it has a Retro theme. I thought I'd best try on my outfit this morning and there was music playing and there was a bit of camera gear about and here are some of the results.

The sky-blue linen safari suit was tailored for my father in Penang in 1972 ... it's going to be a fun afternoon and evening Gettin' the Groove On :-)

PS ... I know I've been vey slack in attending to everyone's blogs ... life here has been very full and I'm only just starting to get on top of that ... I'll be around to visit soon :-)

Dead Pegs

The first printed compilation of my Dead Pegs project ... a copy of which is currently hanging in the Members Show at PhotoAccess in the Manuka Arts Centre.


I've been long fascinated by these pegs ... single-function objects that have reached the end of their useful lives and left to decay in the pebble-field beneath the clotheslines ... I've been photographing them on and off for about 6 months now ... time to get them out there ... both prints measure 420mm x 720mm.

Dead Pegs was printed on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth - a fine matte paper with excellent colour depth

Also in the show is a print of my Starfield I picture printed on Baryta Photographique, a fine grained lustre because I thought a small degree of gloss would increase the depth of the picture ... given it's our galaxy after all :-)

Both pictures were printed by Stephen Best of Macquarie Editions in Braidwood.




Well, I'm on the cover of SHOOT! Magazine's September 2013 (Volume #003) edition. I'm also the featured artist and there's an interview in there too. As far as I know it's web only but it's lovely that someone has gone to all this effort over mine and the other included artists' work though the editior assures me a hard copy is on it's way to my post ofice box as we speak! I'm quietly chuffed and I think he's done a great job with the layout. It is somewhat funny and totally cool to see a whole stack of your pictures laid out like this in a mini-collection. Clicking on the cover image will initiate a download of a web resolution (~8MB) copy of the magazine via safe WeTransfer from the host site. If, for some reason your browser doesn't like that I've made a copy for download here ... oh Yeah and the mag is written in German but my interview is in English ... lucky eh?


Sly Fox Coffee

Meet Patrick. Patrick is an entrepreneur. Earlier this year he set up  a coffee machine by one of the main cycleways running from the Inner North of Canberra (where I live) into the City ... he makes very good coffee and I always stop for an espresso (that settles in the glass like tap Guinness!) if he's up and running when I'm cycling past. I recently stopped by to take some photos of him ... I think this is my favourite.

Patrick called his coffee spot Sly Fox Coffee


But it's about more than the coffee ... it's about a social hub ... a little networking space. I've met a stack of different folks down there and stopped for a quick chat or hello. Sometimes I'm a little late and I stand at the table straddling my bicycle while I sip a delicious coffee ... afterward, the ride into town just flies past as the caffeine kicks in by the time I've reached David Street.

There's often an assistant, Byron or Roley. There's a bicycle mechanic, Rex, who's there on Tuesdays and I could make lewd suggestive comments about the delights of an early morning lube but I will refrain today.

The Sly Fox is blossoming and I've noticed an increase in custom as the morning's warm. Great coffee - great vibe.

Patrick also had his girlfriend's little pug pup with him ... hi name's Bob ... everybody say Awwwww... :-)


Talk to the Hand

Outtakes in my recent quest for a new avatar...











Talk to the Hand...

For everyone who has been listening to me talking about winter and cold ... there's this thing called central heating ... it's nice ;-)


Now here's a technique I've been wanting to try for a while ... starfield photography ... more specifically trying to capture the spiral arm of our galaxy better known as the Milky Way. Essentially I've been waiting for the opportunity to try out the high ISO sensor on the Nikon D600 but I have also been waiting for a couple of other variables first ... a suitably clear sky away from the most obvious light pollution being one ... living in the middle of even a small city like Canberra has kinda prevented that. An offer to spend this weekend past down at a quiet part of the New South Wales south coast seemed to tick all the boxes. This part of the coast is about two and a half hours drive from Canberra and it's a beautiful part of the world ... bays and beaches amongst rugged coastline. It was forecast to begin raining in Canberra but down at the coast it was extra clear. There was a waxing crescent moon but it wasn't in the sky for very long. We arrived at the house just after sunset and after it got a little darker I set up my camera, tripod and 20mm wide angle lens. I pointed it at the sky, cranked up the ISO setting to the camera's maximum (something ridiculous like ISO25,600!) and set a 20 second exposure and fired the shutter and this is essentially what appeared on the camera's display*...

Galactic spiral arm looking east from Malua Bay toward the South Pacific Ocean

I swore ... loudly. The sentiment being largely 'wow!' and I remember looking up at the sky in wonder before setting the next shot.

Then I went down to the beach...

Milky Way spiral arm looking east from Malua Bay ... from the beach this time :-)
Milky Way spiral arm looking east from Malua Bay ... from the beach this time :-)

I think the thing that amazed me most about these pictures was that I have lived every day with such a massive feature in the sky but have, up until the weekend only seen it in glimpses or as a milky haze across the night sky. I also wondered how I could possibly get my eyes augmented to this kind of sensitivity ... I'd likely get the ultraviolet and infra-red modules too if they available ;-)

Wandering back up toward the house I put the fisheye lens on for a greater than 180° field of view ... this one was a bit later after the arm had risen and I'd had a cpuple of glasses of wine and also after most folks had retired for the night and turned out their lights...

Fisheye capture of the spiral arm looking straight up
Fisheye capture of the spiral arm looking straight up

Back home again and processing these pictures accidentally converted the first picture to monochrome and I liked where it was pointing me so I went ahead and processed it monochrome too...


I think I like this version the best of all the starfields I captured ... what do you think?

*truth be told I tell a little fib ... this would be the third exposure after I'd dialled the ISO down to a more respectable setting (still ISO10,000) to reduce the noise.

In Review - Andrea Kirwin and the Neo

Neo with Andrea Kirwin - The Polish Club 5th July 2013

I arrived early for this gig review(!) and by early I don't mean early for me (though it was that too) I mean early full stop. I think there may have been six other people in the hall when I entered. I thought the gig started at eight ... oh well, plenty of time to get a beer in the bar next door. The stage was set and the music playing pre-gig was superb ... I enquired and found it was by a Brisbane outfit called Kooii ... I made a mental note to check them out.

Neo took the stage first and in what I thought was a nice piece of gig-craft played their first set. By creating a Neo sandwich they effectively supported themselves. With a gentle warm up they launched into some sultry bluesy reggae. Sliding in like warmed honey, a harmonica made a welcome appearance over a pendulously pumping groove. The next track saw a low-slung groove accompanied by tasteful slow wah guitar and a dash of calypso flute before an effortless transition to SKA beat with bass recalling pointing fingers.


You know what I wasn't thinking just the other day? That synchronised whistling is really unrepresented on today's stage and, after hearing some tuneful whistling harmonies by Neo on Friday, I've come to think that was rather remiss of me. The room's slowly filling and the addition of horns (did I hear someone mention they were Party Gravy horns? ... they certainly looked and sounded familiar) filled out the sound nicely with accent and stab. I did find myself contemplating the baritone sax player as he appeared barely taller than his instrument. Had I been blindfolded this wouldn't have mattered at all. Hitting the blues again and I'm in the bayou thanks to a silty brown bass solo underpinned by a blue beat with real ‘tock’.

Quite suddenly I find myself transported. It's early evening and I'm sitting in a little bar by a tropical ocean, sunkiss'd and salty tanged. There's cold beer, fresh-caught fish and I imagine the warm and gentle sea breeze is Neo playing in a corner. It's not at all an unpleasant little trip. I'm reminded that I like that kind of thing.

There's a set break to bring me back from the sea and I wander next door to score a beer. I find that my well-meaning attempts at an acceptable pronunciation of Zywiec are falling miserably short. At least I didn't need to resort to pointing this time. The bar’s not crowded. There’s a party going on in the function room and a young man standing at the urinal, head pressed against the wall, his eyes closed, not doing very much. I think he was alive … he wasn’t there when I went back later.

I wander back in, beer in hand and grab a seat up on the stage overlooking the room. It's commanding up here and it's then I notice the diminutive yet striking scarlet figure on stage. The stage looms large around her yet somehow she holds to herself. She's dressed in a tailored scarlet coat over gold and in black boots. It’s a great look ... a loose fro with a lock of white that falls as a swept fringe over clear dark eyes. I'm suddenly glad I brought my camera tonight. I look up rom scribbling my notes to see she's lost her coat and is now all spangly ... I'm a fan of spangle from way back. Andrea Kirwin is on stage. This solo introduction to her set is a mellow jazz-inspired groove and mild scat. It is eminently listenable. I move down onto the floor.

Andrea Kirwin takes the stage

Andrea's band takes the stage. The mark of an excellent backing band is that they serve to complement and enhance the stage created by the lead. Andrea's band does this beautifully, creating spaces and moods that a single acoustic guitar simply cannot. Distinct yet togetherly coherent in enviable understatement, they make a lovely, lovely sound together. The openers with the band are gentle and coaxing affairs and by the time 'Mary Go-Round' appears the band is well into their stride. With a street-smart sass and city strut ... the track is a winner and, along with 'Shadow Man' that followed it demonstrated the understanding the musicians had with one another while allowing their virtuosity to shine. In short, they were everything a backing band should be and more.


Andrea Kirwin

The band were joined on stage by a baritone sax (Nick, a little taller than the earlier player) and trombone (Sophie). I do like the deep throat of a live bari and wish there was more of it about ... along with the bone they together introduced some stabby goodness to the mix and helped pave the way for the promised funk of Neo's second set. There's a glorious moment in the jam of ‘Yellow Brick Road' when Andrea puts down her guitar and grooves along with the band while the horns whip it up. You forget the power and presence of live horns until faced with them again. Loved that saxy sound.

Too soon it’s all over and Andrea and band depart the stage and I relocate to the bar to fumble with the names of Polish beers … I have this theory that drinking them helps with that kind of thing…

Neo’s second set … the promised Orange Party of Pioneering Funk Research was a little disappointing for this reviewer. There were a few slinky dancers and the two women dancing directly in front of me were very distracting. The bass took to the floor and grooved along with the crowd … dancing bass players do tend to need a fair bit of room and maybe this was why the crowd never really reached the front of the stage. Compared to the whooping frenzy of Zoopagoo & Party Gravy a couple of weeks ago … things seemed a little flat. There was a distinct move toward sweaty Australian Pub Rock. Now I loves me a good dose of crunchy Oz Pub Rock but I was expecting funk and as I pondered my flat state I realised I had been spoiled by Andrea Kirwin’s set. If it had ended after that it would have been perfect. I did like the Neo guitarist’s floral pants and made a point of complimenting him on them.

Neo play their second set

Tonight: Andrea Kirwin - with guests the Neo … is how I saw it.

Sound and lighting were solid and nicely balanced thanks to Dave Howe on the desk. Thanks to Nigel and the CMC for the opportunity to pen this for you.

You can visit Andrea Kirwin at

Also published in Culturazi 10 July 2013

Further Fog Chasing

Fog. Tuesday in Canberra was foggy. It was foggy all day ... actually that's not entirely true, I did see some rays from the setting sun on Mount Majura ... through a light mist though. The temperature struggled to a peak of 7C at about 4pm. The fog came back down shortly after sunset and so did the temperature. I decided then to get out amongst this evening for sure ... but not on my bicycle this time I thought. This time I'll go in style. I called my friend Ross. Ross with the Cadillac. I've taken pictures of his car several times. He is always after an excuse to give his car a run and offered numerous times to come pick me up and drive me places to take pictures. Yes, it's kind of ideal. Besides, it's too cold to go out riding tonight and then stand around for long exposures (and not just the photographic kind) :-)

Ross is late, like an hour late. It's half ten by the time he picks me up ... I'm yawning ... my daughter kept me awake most of the previous night with coughing and snurking nose. I maybe shouldn't have had the extra glass of wine while passing the time ... I'm feeling really like just crawling into my warm bed ... dark chocolate helps. Anyways, Ross arrives (you can hear the car coming for miles) and we set off.

The fog is really thick. Then I realise the car windscreen is really fogged up too ... at least Ross has a clear spot to see through to drive. We head to the War Memorial at the top of ANZAC Parade ... tonight's fog renders it a gigantic mausoleum, looming above. I like it but the bright floodlights at the base of the building are too bright for the dark beauty above and I leave that one for the memory or perhaps another expedition. We get back in the car and head down toward the lake. Walking across the bridge toward the Carillon we pass the love locks, which have been added to recently, and see the top of the carillon disappearing into the fog. Fog is an elusive phenomena ... this stuff was moving ever so slowly across the lake ... not only across but vertically too. From the western edge of Aspen Island is near unobstructed 270° view out over Lake Burley Griffin's Central Basin. In the time I'd taken to get set up (and wished I hadn't left my gloves in the car ... maybe 5 minutes) the fog had lifted enough to provide this view. For the technically minded it's a panorama stitched from 7 frames each exposed for 30 seconds. Clicking on the picture will (should) take you to a much higher resolution image which is quite fun to explore. It's only two and a half meg ... go on :-)

Looking northwest from Aspen Island over Central Basin. 11pm 2nd July 2013

Climbing back into the (warmer) car ... did I mention it was cold(?) ... we continued our way around the southern shore of the Lake, this time looking toward New Acton. That's where I took this this photo. It looks like twilight but it's a quarter past eleven on a winter's night. The lights from various parts of the city lights up the fog in a myriad colours and the two mintue exposure renders the lake surface into a stainless steel sheen. A light breeze sprang up about now and it was biting ... at least I remembered my gloves this time.

New Acton under fog. Canberra, 11:15pm 2nd July 2013

The sky changed colour from deep orange through blues and greens and whites in the time we stood there watching.

Back in the car and we head up to Belconnen in north Canberra ... when we get there ... no fog ... gone! Ross thjinks he know where to find some so we head over to the dark side of Lake Gininderra ... plenty of fog here ... how is it so localised? That's great but there's only one problem ... it's really dark and there's nothing to see. (I hear you now ... complain ... complain ... complain). There's a new housing development located nearby ... all straight lines and boxy. Last stop for the night...

Light fog in new development.


Somewhat sterile boxes

OK ... so the last two aren't strictly foggy photos but I wouldn't have seen them if I hadn't been out fog chasing and all. Have you been out chasing something recently?

In Review: Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens 'Winter of Content'

Julia and the Deep Sea Sirens - The Polish Club - 21st June 2013

There’s something about venturing out on a frosty Canberra night to see a band. Whether you walk or cycle or drive or, gadzooks(!) catch a bus ... you feel the elements. These nights where it’s minus 5 aren’t strolling nights where you think “let’s just wander about and see what we find”. As my friend pointed out ... there’s a good chance you’ll die out there if you pass out on the street on the way home or have no shelter ... but that's another story. My point is that one must make an effort to leave whatever cozy snugness you may have and get your arse out and about. When you arrive at a gig on a night like this ... everyone who’s there wants to be there ... they’ve all made the effort you see. We cycled in to the Polo* ... did I mention it was cold?

As usual for this reviewer I arrived about 10pm - just before Julia and her Deep Sea Sirens went on stage so I’ve no idea what the support were like though other punters who put in the extra effort to actually arrive on time described them variously as funny, musical and entertaining.

After the usual standing at the bar deciding on a tongue-twisting beverage, slapping hello to good folks too-long unseen and hearing the band start up, I wandered inside to watch. JDSS (an acronym I know but I’m too lazy to type out the full name over and over again) are very much a sit-down reflective affair and the audience didn’t disappoint. There were no slinky dancers though upon reflection I would have been (let's just say pleasantly) surprised to have seen some. There’s something about the way Julia and her Sirens hypnotically perform. Music that in lesser hands would be considered plodding is rendered in lush swells and depth that is at once engaging and sweetly enveloping.

Speaking of lush, what’s more lush than a single cello but two cellos on stage. The resulting mix was rich while retaining a sense of the stripped back and remote ... an intriguing mix that encouraged immersion and exploration. There was a banjo in there too (plucky!). Extra cello by Spike Thompson of Ellis Collective fame.

Julia chatted between songs or while tuning. She thanked the audience for their efforts in coming out on such a cold Canberra evening. She let slip that some of the band had come from as far away as Latham.

In amongst the strings, richly rendered by Dave Howe the CMC house mixer, was an analog sounding synth which lent rise, emotion and slow-building rhythmic intensity. Bass, drums, guitar, keys and cello all work together seamlessly, never stepping on one another’s toes. Julia & the Deep Sea Sirens present an almost indulgent melancholia that enriches the listener while never depressing them. It’s a fine balance which Julia and her band deliver without apparent effort.

The song Wounded Soldier was a highlight for this reviewer and was nicely finished off with resonant harmonies and a light twang of Julia’s acoustic guitar. There was some talk of Go-Go dancer outfits and hard as I looked ... (someone mention slinky dancers?) I couldn’t see any.

More synth introducing the final track(s) - vibrating with light tremolo rhythmic pulse, the band tight and well oiled. It was JDSS' drummer's final gig with the band before ploughing pastures further afield. A rolling snare drum solo illustrated a road well-travelled amongst these fine musicians ... of times together and experiences shared. It was, like the rest of tonight's performance, wonderfully understated and underlined the deep relationships within the band.

As Julia, her blonde fringe and long bob veritably shining in the stage lights, brought the show to a close ... it really was a Winter of Content and totally worth the effort - thank you. I promise next time I'll bring my camera. All I had to do then was ride home... did I mention it was cold?

And, as a postscript; to the the snooty audience members who appeared to object to me taking notes for this review on my phone (I was sitting up the very back mind you) I say "up yours" and to the couple kissing down the front whilst pretending to watch the band's final song ... I saw you... :-)

*The Polish Club