Oh Japan

Oh Japan indeed! In the first week of July I took a spontaneous trip to Japan. When I say spontaneous I mean that it was less than 24 hours from deciding 'hey, let's go to Japan!', booking tickets and driving to Sydney at 2am to catch the flight! It was a blur but oh so rewarding. For reasons unbeknownst to me I have waited nearly four weeks to share this and some of the images from the trip.

We flew from Sydney into Narita, Tokyo and spent the first 3 nights in different districts of Tokyo - Asakusa, Ginza and Shinjuku before taking the bullet train to Kyoto and spending time in and around Arashiyama and the city of Kyoto. I have long had a fascination with Japan, the culture, food and design all have special places in my heart. Also the idea of being immersed in a place that is so foreign to my own. Oh and I love neon lights and the cities did not disappoint ;-)

I took loads of pictures, some of which are presented below and some which will be posted in future posts. Those of you with whom I communicate regularly will know I have been in somewhat of a creative doldrums of late ... personally I blame winter(!) but there are deeper reasons than things seasonal. I'm bringing you some pictures today from in and around Arashiyama, a smallish city northeast of Kytoto.

This first picture was taken at Arashiyama Station at sunset as we arrived back from a day in Kyoto.

Arashiyama Station at sunset
Arashiyama Station at sunset

This next picture was the view from the balcony of the traditional Japanese-style place we stayed in in Arashiyama ... sunsets eh? The place was amazing and we had shared some very special moments here.


Arashiyama is famous for, amongst many other things, it's giant bamboo groves. This place, like so many others in Japan was bristling with people but there weren't so many in the frame when you turned your gaze upwards ;-)

Black against the green
Black against the green

There's a river (the Hozu-gawa River) that's simply beautiful with long boats used for cormorant fishing and of course ferrying visitors around.

Anyways I hope you've enjoyed this little photo tour of this part of Japan... I'm currently working out how I can get back there :-)

I'll be posting more pictures over the next little while (now that I appear to have released myself from my writer's block!) so please stay tuned :-)

Have you been to this part of the world? Did you like it? Have you never been but always wanted to go? Do tell me in the comments below :-)


Powerful Owl

Possibly the most photographed bird in Canberra at the moment. This Powerful Owl (Ninox strenua) has taken up residence in nearby Turner. Luckily for us it was visible high up in the treetops when we passed by to catch a glimpse of it. These owls typically stand about 60cm tall with a wingspan of over 1.3m though it was hard to tell the exact measurements of this one. Their diet consists of a variety of possums (brushtail, ringtail and sugar gliders) large birds (cockatoos, corellas and rosells et al) This one had caught (and was in the process of shredding) a ringtail possum and you can see its black & white tail curling over the limb of the tree.


Just because: Butterflies

I was up in Far North Queensland (that's FNQ by the way!) last week with the kids visiting relatives in Cairns and Townsville and I had the opportunity to travel up to Kuranda in the Barron Gorge National Park. It was hot. Barron Gorge NP is part of the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area. It was hot.  Whilst there we visited the Butterfly Sanctuary and so here are some pictures of butterflies ... had I been a truly dedicated type I'd have annotated these with their proper species names ... but you can see that I haven't ... perhaps you didn't even notice until I'd pointed it out? Oh well, it was hot*  :-)

So, just because ... butterflies :-)

More pictures of the trip to come ... but first you know ... butterflies :-)


*Hot being a comfort index in Cairns of 42.8°C with 75% humidity.

Did I mention it was hot?

Seaside Pull

standing on land's edge

water draining back to sea

feet sink deeper still


Spent a couple of days with the kids at the south coast this weekend. When I say south coast I mean the south coast of New South Wales ... the Sapphire Coast if you listen to the tourism bods. Canberra you see is a landlocked capital and about 2 hours drive from the coast ... not very far ... and a pleasant drive too. It just seems a long way when you're in Canberra but not very far at all when you're standing with your feet in the waves. It was cold by the way ... it being winter down this way and the water temperature is around 14-15°C ... a bit too cold for swimming but vibrant on the toes! The water was beautifully clear.

These pictures were taken with my phone as I stood watching the kids muck about in the sand and rockpools. I adore that feeling as the water drains from it's sigh up the beach and sluices sandily past your feet ... and ... if you wriggle your feet ... you sink a little ... somehow becoming more fixed to a point within an environment ever-changing ... it's the kind of juxtaposition that does something for me - it really does. A little seaside pull :-)

Zoologica I - selection and hanging

OK so I have been putting together (what I realised is my first) solo show ... titled Zoologica: a photographic study of life through death. Exploring zoological specimens, the works encourage you to ponder the nature of scientific collection, death and preservation. The series comprises 12 monochromatic prints, printed on Canson Baryta Photographique by Stephen Best of Macquarie Editions in Braidwood. The final series of 12 is shown in the gallery below. I've gone with hanging the prints unframed using linen hinges and small tacks. I'm really impressed with the printing quality and the light curl of the paper really adds to the apparent depth of the images. It's a great feeling when you see your own work on a wall ... and a real buzz when there's a series of your own work up like this.

I hung the show yesterday with gallery owner Michael and it looks fantastic ... it'll look even better when fully lit.

The opening is Wednesday evening at 6pm and I'm rather looking forward to it :-)

A Little Piece of Me


A Little Piece of Me


I feel it's pull

tangible as a kiss never realised


the space between

whirling sheets of colour


a piercing clarity

precision at a price


strangely within



a fern glowing against shadow

(August 2013)



Winter Rains

It's tending toward late and I'm thinking I'll just quickly post this coz otherwise it won't happen until tomorrow night and ... and ...well here I am posting late again. These pictures are the result of one of those occasions when the plan doesn't go according to plan, but rather than fret that it's not, just going with wherever you end up. Yesterday was cold here with heavy rain cells moving through every hour or so. The temperature struggled in the single figures and the wind was extra bitey and fiercely strong. I had resolved that morning to go and continue my 'Deserted and decaying shopping centres' series but while driving to my destination I missed the expressway exit and found myself heading down toward the National Arboretum instead ... OK that's all right I thought ... I'll head up one of the hills ... might be a rainbow or something else up there ... what it was up there was bloody windy and freezing ... let's just say 'totally fresh' ... thank goodness for leather jackets! There was a cell moving in and I stayed out long enough to get hailed upon to capture this beauty of stormlight...



and another in darker processing moodiness



and a rainbow of course :-)


The winter rains ... they finally came ... this morning the mountains were all dusted in snow (apparently) I wasn't fool enough to go up for a second helping this morning ;-)


Playing with flowers

I thought the other day 'it's been a while since I played with flowers' (as you do) and so I bought myself a bunch of my favourites ... gerberas. They're a member of the sunflower family Asteracae ... daisies really. There's something about them that does it for me ... they have myriad facets, they have symmetry and a range of colours ... they're as fun from beneath as they are beautiful on top. Put a water drop on them and there's fun and beauty for all. Here's a selection:







Do you have a favourite flower? Or a favourite thing to take pictures of? Or even just a favourite thing?

Do tell :-)

Wordless: Autumn

Wordless: Autumn







Last of the Summer Rains


It rained last night, a soft gentle rain that collected in heavy droplets and made everything glisten this morning before the clouds moved in again.

I do love water drops ... 

blurred landscape of indeterminate origin

Sum of the Parts #2

blurred landscape of indeterminate origin

earth and sky 
we walk between 
pondering both

A new piece for my ongoing project the Sum of the Parts where I'm intentionally blurring a scene during capture in an attempt to deconstruct them into their component parts. The result invites the viewer to ponder and create their own landscape ... a new sum of the parts. One day I'll get enough of these to put a show together.

I particularly like the way this one remains ambiguous. Is it dusk or midday? Inland or coastal?

moonlight on blue water

a full moon always rises at sunset

moonlight on blue water

moon rises full
across a sparkling sea
the sun cedes the sky

You want to know something that absolutely fascinates me? Of course you do! You'll need to think about this a bit so let's go ... 'a full moon always rises at sunset' ... think about that for a moment. Have you ever seen the full moon rise at any time other than sunset? You know, like in the middle of the night or in the morning? The answer will be no because it doesn't happen. OK, so far, so good. Now hold that thought and add to the fact that the lunar cycle is fixed ... well OK, let's say regular at 29 and a half days (29.53059 days to be precise). So every 29 and a half days there's another full moon. OK? Now the next bit gets confusing but stay with me and let's quickly recap;

  • full moon always at sunset
  • full moon occurs every 29.5 days

Alrighty, there's another cycle working here too, the seasons. Every day the days get longer or shorter depending on the season you're in and by 'day' I'm referring to the amount of daylight. So, here in SE Australia the days are growing longer as we march toward Spring. There's a full moon this Thursday (2nd August) and it will rise at sunset even though the day has lengthened. What balance!

There's lots more moonphase related stuff over at Moonconnection.com which is where I lifted the diagram below;

] moon phases diagram

Courtesy Moonphases.com

Think about it next time you see a full moon rising ... just remember 'a full moon always rises at sunset'.

I'm the type of person who follows the moon and the seasons ... I know where the moon will be (roughly!) at any given time of the day or night depending on where the lunar cycle's up to.

Do you follow the moon? Do you use the sun to tell you which direction you're facing? Do you live above the arctic circle? You can tell me what happens there! Do tell. I'm interested.

veins in a leaf

Which Comes First? The Image or the Words?

veins in a leaf

On my previous post I talked about the habit of writing ... about falling out and falling back in. The post prompted a lot of discussion (thank you) ... well more than normal on this blog anyways! In the course of that discussion one question posed by blogging friend Ally stuck in my mind today; she wrote

words first?

or image?

Does it matter?

My initial response to the question was 'Image first' and although it's true that I generally choose an image and then let the words flow from there ... my answer didn't really satisfy me. Who is to say that the words weren't simmering away waiting for an image? I rarely think of the words or an idea and then go find and take a picture to illustrate it ... I know plenty of photographers who do but I'm not one. I do have some projects I'm working on that require this approach and I've discussed some of those previously.

Composing a picture is a searching, almost meditative process for me. Often I don't know exactly where I'm going with it until I arrive. I'm trying to think whether the words are there then at that moment of artistic creation? No, they're not. Not in the form as you're reading now. But then, the vision behind my thoughts ... behind my presented image was. When I present the two together, they appear simultaneously to you. There's no telling which came first ... you get to choose!

When I took this picture (in December 2011) was I thinking of the words I'd write here today? No I wasn't. I was thinking of the interconnectedness of things ... about how the structure of the leaf and the arrangement of its veins was likely an efficient method of town-planning ... about how the natural and constructed worlds shared much and that our contructed world had more to learn than perhaps the other way round.

Oh and I was holding my breath because I didn't want to cause the leaf to move.

Does it matter?

Does the fact that I wasn't, in this case, thinking of the words and the picture simultaneously matter? I don't think so. Did one influence the other? Most definitely.

Which way does it work for you? Which comes first?

Long exposure of coastal headland by moonlight

Malua Moonlight

Long exposure of coastal headland by moonlight

Rock pretending eternity
Moonlight heavy on the sea
Clouds bring the sky

Photograph and haiku of Malua Bay on the south coast of New South Wales. Lit here by about 8 minutes of the full moon. All is not what it seems. The moonlight softens the waves creating a smooth effect of deceptive calm ... the clouds coming in give the game away.

Fern unfolding, it's fiddle-head unfurling.


Fern unfolding, it's fiddle-head unfurling.


Damp, earthy - a faint musk
Cool, verdant
quiet ... still
Fractal patterns stretch
Unfolding gently, chaos becomes ordinary
and repeated
and repeated - seeming endlessly
easy to dismiss, to overlook as all alike
they're copies to a point
each unique - new and ancient both

Reaching for the light
As I to you
unfurling in hope that the light will come
Do you see me here in the fernland?
beneath the trees
striving for the dappled
When I find it I thrive
Without it a piece of me dies

(June 2012)


I'm not a religious person, let me just state that up front. Sometimes when I look over what I've written, I can see how some of the writing could be viewed that way ... all this striving and longing for light stuff. What I am striving for is a completeness that I don't find in my day-to-day life. A feeling that I glimpse every now and again of a natural patterning (and I emphatically do not refer to design) at once simple and mind-bendingly complex. I see it in the sky, in the forming of clouds or the way light refracts through a freshly rained droplet. Or in this case the fiddle-head of a fernlet reaching through the dark. I see them as beautiful but I also have the rationality to know that it's me who's labeling them that way. That they, in all likelihood would exist and go on without my observations ... or would they? Sounds like a discussion over a glass of wine (or three)! Anyways, enough rambling. Enjoy!