Woman in a red dress offering a bunch of sea grapes

The Beauty of Film

Woman in a red dress offering a bunch of sea grapes

I recently attended an artists retreat with some lovely people. There were photographers, sculptors, painters, poets and writers and some great cooks amongst them! We spent three nights at an old house on the far south coast of New South Wales. It's there that many of the photographs featured in recent posts were taken. When I get around to it I'll even publish them all in the same place when I can get my head around all the great things that went on there.

For this post though I wanted to talk about the beauty of film. I took two cameras to the retreat; my Nikon digital and my Mamiya medium format camera. I got the medium format negatives and scans back from the lab this week. When I first started out in photography there was none of this digital business. I learned to develop my own negatives and darkroom techniques for turning those negatives into photographic prints ... the smell of acetic acid still holds a dear place in my heart as does the smell of a freshly opened pack of film. It's a wonderfully analog process - layers of light sensitive emulsions on a clear base change chemically when exposed to light. I like to think that my post-processing of my digital pictures for the most part mimics what I could do in the darkroom albeit on a much compressed time scale. I rarely manipulate my images much beyond tonal controls and cropping anyways. While I have embraced the digital revolution and all the whizzbangery it offers the modern photographer ... there's something about shooting film (apart from its smell).

The saturation and dynamic range surpasses that of my digital camera (a D80) and the rendering of detail is a wonderful thing to look at. In the photo of friend Greer presented above I had a roll of (very out of date) Fujichrome NPC160 film ... we're talking EXP:2007(!) which was given to me by another friend who'd had the film in his fridge since then. The negs came back beautifully. I took a similar shot with the Nikon but it doesn't have anywhere near the presence that this one has. Another consequence of shooting film is how much you value each frame. I get between 12-15 frames from a roll of medium format. I have to remind myself that it's both not very many and ample! That and how spoiled I have become with auto-focus, adjustable ISO and instant preview. When shooting 35mm I still find myself instantly checking the back of the camera to see how the shot came out ;-)

How about you? Are you purely digital? Did you transition from film to digital or have you only ever known digital? Have you returned to the beauty of film or picked it up anew? I'm interested in this ... do tell!

Space and Spirit Both

Faint breeze and sunshine
cricket chirp and flycatcher calls overlay the oceans rhythmic white roar
occasional slap
unexpected silences - an absence
I stare until the scene turns white - sound painting abstracted spikes and swirls
I think of you then, distant
in space and spirit both
yet in that instant - that void
I am connected by more than I know

(Written at Ness 6 May 2012)

Pictures with Words

A quick post to confirm that I have changed the title of this blog to 'Pictures with Words' to better encapsulate what I'm doing with this blog. After 51 posts covering all sorts of things I feel I'm moving toward pictures and the way I feel about them ... how they move me and increasingly, short pieces of prose or poetry bringing forth my thoughts involved in their creation. I reckon the new title reflects this idea and direction better than 'The Lushpup Blog' ;-)

My sincere apologies if this change means you temporarily lose me - I'm sure we'll find each other again!

I think it's a step in the right direction don't you?



Telegraph poles resemble crosses as they disappear over a hil

The Monaro Plains

Telegraph poles resemble crosses as they disappear over a hill

THE MONARO PLAINS - Anthony Lawrence (May 2012)

Wooden crosses
a vanishing point wired for talk

a watercolour bleed
of low clouds, windbroken pines

a charcoal rubbing
of lost connections  ~ you are here

passing through
uncoupled is a state of rhyme

what the eye reveals
the mouth extends in clipped syllables

depth of field
a black rain squall of starlings on a hill

Words: Anthony Lawrence (Used with author's permission)
Picture: Geoffrey Dunn

Sunset Wave

Sea and Sky blur into faux continuum

Forever parted by our exhalations

High key photograph of autumnal maple leaves against bright sky

I love light - I really do

High key photograph of autumnal maple leaves against bright sky

I love light - I really do ... especially in Autumn as the leaves turn and the light takes on a crisper feel. I love that moment each year when you step outside and realise that the light has changed ... that it's now striking at a different angle, it's quality altered ... that the season has moved on - even if you haven't. Soon that crispness in the air will become deeper bone-chilling cold and the light will become weaker yet somehow clearer. In south-eastern Australia we have four definite seasons though the local indigenous peoples recognised six. They were a little more in tune with their natural world than I think we are.

Here in Australia, we have amazing light. Light that illuminates with a clarity and intensity I've seen in very few other places ... South Africa is one. They have the endless sky too.

What about you? What is the light like where you live?


Sometimes, when I feel like I'm not going anywhere ... not being creative ... that I'm somehow fixed in a defined space, I remember the first time I lay on the ground as a child and imagined the world turning. How as it spun about its axis or hurtled through space I had to dig a little deeper with my fingers to stop from flying off ... that crazy tilting cartwheel feeling. I remember then that stillness is an illusion, that we are never motionless ... never perfectly still ... that we are all moving even if it's a slow drift on an unseen tide.



windswept leafy autumn chill
fuel that warmed machine's internals
now drained
tanks vapour filled
hollow booming - signage an empty promise
abandoned a day and already unkempt
fenced, dug up and replaced
the land given a new life
and on future warm summer evenings
when myriad people sip and gaze
from fresh balconies
a faint waft of petroleum
hangs sweetly in the air

-May 2012


Our local service station has finally closed. It marks the end of an era for this little suburb. One of the last small servos to go. The bicycle shop - it was handy having one just down the road - closed up months ago. I was on my way back from a family shoot on Sunday and saw that the place had finally closed ... so I stopped and took some photographs. The signage came down yesterday morning.  I know all things must change and the world moves on but I was sad to see it go. Soon it will be as though nothing was there. Units will be up in a year. Nothing will remain except the faint waft of petroleum hanging sweetly in the air.

What about you? Do you document the things that change before they change?

long exposure of the rainforest gully lit by small spotlights

AfterDARK at the Gardens

On Saturday evening I went along with the family to a special members event at the Australian National Botanic Gardens (ANBG). The rainforest gully walk has been kitted out with low wattage LED lighting funded by the 'Friends of the Botanic Gardens' and Saturday night was the first time they were showing it off. There were deleicious canapes and a glass of wine at the Visitors Centre before we were split into small groups of ten or twelve. Wind-up torches were handed out by our guides and, dressed warmly, we set off.

Being a regular visitor to the Gardens I was loving being in there at night. Familiar paths and trees took on new life as they illuminated only by our torch beams. Our guide Marion took us on a walk through the eucalypts before we entered the rainforest gully .


The place was literally transformed. The mist jets which keep the gully moist and assist in maintaining an ambient temperature above freezing came on periodically and it was like walking through cloud ... really thick cloud. Lights have been set into both sides of the boardwalk so you know where the path goes and coloured lights have been placed in the garden beds as well.  I had brought my tripod and camera with me ... I decided on a single lens for the night: my Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D ... a little jewel of a lens. I wanted something quite fast and wide and my tripod enabled the longer exposures you see here.

The display looked fantastic and hats off to the 'Friends' program who both envisaged and funded the lighting program through subscription and donation.

There are plans to make this a regular event called the AfterDARK Firefly Tour begins officially in June. I suggest you get yourself along for a unique experience.

WhenSat 2 June  I  Sat 7 July  I  Sat 4 Aug
Time: 6pm and 7pm Tours
Cost: $19 adults; $14 concession (+booking fee) | Bookings essential 6250 9540 | Online bookings available from 8th May

This post has also been blogged over at The RiotACT

Poplar trees in autumnal yellow arching up to the sky

Canberra in Autumn

This is what happens when you put your fisheye on the ground looking up and carefully balance a circular polarising filter (that's too small for the lens) on top. Taken in the grounds of the Australian National University down near Sullivan's Creek. Astute viewers will score a bonus Telstrayama (the telecommunications tower atop Black Mountain in the center of Canberra) at the the three o'clock position.

Poplar trees in autumnal yellow arching up to the sky

Yes, the sky really is that blue in Canberra in Autumn and Spring ... they would both have to be my most favourite seasons.

Tell me, what's your favourite season?


Sometimes things just assemble themselves. Like this picture... I came across a table at my in-laws place in the countryside and there was an assortment of things on it that the kids had collected and been playing with ... there was this arthropod in a glass of water (I still haven't gotten around to identifying it yet ... it seems to have a lot of segmented legs!) and there was this illustration from a newspaper by the illustrator 'Reg' ... the two objects just seemed made to go together and well, here they are :-)

The Invisible Mother


This was a practice where the mother, often disguised or hiding, often under a spread, holds her baby tightly for the photographer to insure a sharply focused image.

- The Hidden Mother

ealry portrait of a family standing around a mother obscured by a blanket

Now I understand that this practice originated when exposure times were slow meaning subjects had to sit perfectly still to render themselves sharply. I get that some families wanted only to have a portrait of their offspring with no parents. I still find the pictures a little macabre and creepy. I know that I'm looking with a modern eye and that what I'm seeing was 'standard practice' for the photographer and subjects but I can't help feeling that the pictures resonate with our society's underlying desire to make mothers invisible at the expense of their families. We don't pay mothers to do what they do ... we expect it. The need of the next generation are put, quite rightly, first but at the expense of and often with hidden cost to the mother. The Invisible Mother.

 Early portrait of child by mother obscured by a blanket


So here we have a series of pictures which had they been taken today could be hailed as a representation of the western social invisibilty of motherhood ... but that's not why they were made.

Interesting stuff to ponder ... what do you think?

Footnote: I found these fascinating photographs over at BlueMilk and liked them so much I'm referencing the original site Retronaut where you can find a stack of these images.

Long daytime exposure of the sea against rocks

Shores of a methane sea

Long daytime exposure of the sea against rocks

Imagine standing on a planet much colder than this one is now and looking out over a sea of liquid methane ...

Shores of a Methane Sea ... the crunch of crystalline accretions under your boot

... the way the liquid moves and sighs - not like water

but thinner and with crackle...


About the picture: playing around with the B+W ND110E 10 stop neutral density filter.

Dewdrops on a spiders web

Connecting you now

Dewdrops on a spiders web  I was inspired by a post by fellow blogger Star Rush in Seattle called Currents. In the post, Star spoke of the currents of energy, life and power. The post was accompanied by one of her beautiful monochrome photos featuring a jumble of power-line and cable. While I liked the post very much, it got me to thinking about not only the energy the lines carry, about how they power our homes or carry telephony (remember then?) but how they connected us. I got to reflecting that when an operator said "Connecting you now..." they really were. You were physically connected to the person you were speaking to.

Think about that for a moment ... physically connected to someone else whether in the next street or on the other side of the planet.

While I embrace the freedom that the mobile age has brought, I feel that something somewhere has been lost ... a connection to one another if you will. How we're more connected than ever but somehow dis-connected at the same time.

Connecting you now.

boy standing in front of train passing a station at speed

Feel The Wind

Feel the wind of a passing train. Those destinations unridden, the breezy suggestion of another place.

Stand anchored, feeling the pull and blur of the cars ... the light unconscious pull and tug...

Passing TRain
'Feel The Wind' (Black & White)


Shot on the platform of Tempe Station in Sydney.

1/6 sec at f/22 in case you'd like to know :-)