Bad Pharmer

From a quick band shoot I did at the end of last year of local Polish punk band Bad Pharmer the afternoon before their final gig in Canberra and they up and moved to greener pastures in Brisbane (the shining lights of Bris-Vegas!)

I purchased a copy of their EP Where The Wild Bison Roam ... it's very tidy and contains some great tracks :-)

How's about lead singer/bassist Ania and that yellow couch!



  • Listen to Where The Wild Bison Roam

There will be a little period where my posts here will not necessarily follow chronological order as I find interesting things to post from the period I didn't update the blog at all ... does this really matter? Likely not... I just figured I'd let you know anyway smiley

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.



Thrift Shop - (Workin' The Fields Version)

On Saturday night I played host to the wonderfully talented Jodie O'Regan and Emlyn O'Regan who were in town for their Kitchen Table Tour. As a host I got to make a request and I chose Macklemore's Thrift Shop ... Emlyn and Jodo got to work on an arrangement and this recording is the first live crack. Kids were asleep in an adjacent room hence the hushed kinda approach ;-)

I was aiming for nonchalant dish-hand and I think I pretty well hit the target. I join in toward the end ... it was fun :-)

For anyone who wants to see me deconstructedly animated and vocal ... this is the clip for you ;-)

May I present Thrift Shop - (Workin' The Fields Version)

Jodie and Emlyn arrange Thrift Shop


In Review - Steve Lane & The Autocrats

In Review - Steve Lane & The Autocrats - The Front, Saturday 28th September 2013

I had a most wonderful experience on Saturday night. I was in the mood for quiet and low key. I wanted some live music but nothing rowdy. I know I'm coming across all fussy and selective like and well, yes I am both those things but sometimes you know you're looking for something but you don't exactly what ... it's just a vibe. I checked a gig guide, saw there was a band playing tonight down at my local, The Front in Lyneham. The Front’s website said Tonight:Steve Lane & The Autocrats and there was a little bio - I’d never heard of them, it sounded perfect.


Guide said the show started at eight and so I headed down to meet a friend before then. Gosh, there's no one here. OK, that's not entirely true, there's two bar staff including the one with a smile like a ray of sunshine and two tables of three just chatting quietly. The instruments set up against the wall indicate there is actually a band on but there's hardly a soul around. I grab a glass of house red (and return the two glasses I stole the night before ... all nicely washed of course :-) ) and take a seat on one of the leather couches. My friend arrives and adds significantly to the audience size. We're chatting away when Jimmy Williams gets up with an acoustic guitar and begins. He's been doing this a while this guitar performing thing and not because he looks like he has, nor the ease with he performs his clever and observant songs ... I reckon it's the fact that he appears totally comfortable performing to an intimate audience of six.


There's a cosy lounge room feel to the Front and this gig has that feel to the max. Like all the best lounge rooms, there's an outside space too and we relocate to a couch out there just before the end of Jimmy's set.

It's a September evening in Canberra and although it's been 20 degrees today it's chilly tonight but warm on the couch. We're out there looking in when Steve Lane & The Autocrats take the stage. A four-piece, drums, bass and two guitars. Steve is joined on vocals by Jimmy and I immediately like the feel. It's part Church and part Lightning Seeds and all their own ... it's music made for driving and I imagine rolling fields of wheat and canola sliding past the window interspersed with the strobe of golden sunlight through trees. I can't make out the lyrics from my outside couch spot but I like the way they're sung with a broad rounded inflection.


The band clearly get on with each other as they produce rolling tunes without stepping on each other's toes. Steve Lane, in dark shirt, glasses and thick black beard greying stylishly sings about life with a wry and poetic eye. He has a rack of guitars and there's a beautiful semi-acoustic sunburst orange Rickenbacker amongst them. It sounds rich and mellow with just the right spread of spangle. Steve is joined by brother Tim Lane on drums and I dig the gold strip over the deep red of the shells. In a simple black shirt, he plays with craft, attention and an intensity totally appropriate to the space. On electric bass, and looking like the perfect subject for a Roman bust is a young man in a royal blue buttoned up cardigan ... In fact he wouldn't look out place in the band The Cardigans or Fun Boy Three. I mention that he's young because he must significantly lower the average age of the rest of the band and I mean that in the nicest possible way ... with age comes experience and it's precisely that which is making this band and tonight's initiate gig so special. We find out later that his name is Kai Lane-U'Ren and he's Steve's son. Jimmy Williams on electric guitar makes up the on-stage foursome ... Jimmy’s a great guitarist and in a blues-inspired number later in the night he totally shreds the solo. There's a fifth, non-stage member on door bucket who is lucky he's accompanied by someone 18 years and over! From the way he and Kai stand the same way when together I’m guessing he’s related too.


The songs are evocative and well crafted. There's a poetry to the lyrics that I find captivating and the stories weaved by Steve wander from the plains to the sea to the office water cooler. There's heartfelt and sunshine and there's deep introspection wrapped in joyous guitars pop. There's fun banter between tracks (I mean who can ever remember the names of songs?) and interaction with the audience, which at this end of the room is just my friend and I. I'm suddenly torn between the intimacies of tonight's performance and thinking that Steve Lane & his Autocrats deserved a much bigger crowd. It's a testament to the experience and professionalism of the band that the small audience doesn't seem to faze them. The last four songs see the band really gel it together, not that they were loose before, and really deliver. The power pop chorus of Forgetting Is So Long is fantastically catchy and lingers beautifully. I resolve to buy their album Birds Taking Flight which tonight's gig is touring and when I'm listening to it the following the morning I'm taken right back to the gig ... it's fresh and alive and rich and a great listen.

The gig ends and we're sitting outside watching the band pack up ... I have to admit it's the one part of gigging that I don't miss (well, not as much as I miss some of the other parts) ... And then we finish the night sitting on the outside couches with the band (and for a little time the bar staff too) talking about music and life and the shapes of clouds. I’d go and see this band again without question ... especially now that I've heard of them ;-)

I was also trialling a new camera, the Fujifilm x100s, which I plan to make my gig review camera as it's small, has fantastic lowlight performance and means that I'm not lugging my DSLR in crowded pubs and essentially spending my time worrying about someone stepping on it. This was the first time I had used the camera at a live gig and I have to say I'm very impressed with the results.


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... :-)


Moss Effect

Spring is officially here! We've had rains and warmer days and while out walking with my camera on Saturday afternoon I saw the moss has geared up for sexy time.

Mosses as you may or may not know reproduce sexually via spores not seeds There are male parts, antheridia, and female parts, archegonia. They can occur on the same plant but are most likely found on different plants. The antherozoids or sperm are motile, swimming using two theadlike tails and are chemically attracted to the archegonium where fertilisation occurs to create a zygote. It is then that the second phase of the moss reproductive cycle begins with the formation of the sporophyte or spore plant. An interesting fact is that the sporophyte grows out of the archegonium of the female plant by cell division and is effectively a parasite for this phase. The sporophytes have a distinct four-part structure comprised of a foot, a long erect stem called a seta with a capsule at the top which contains the maturing spores. A peaked hood called a calyptra sits atop the capsule. A single sporophyte may contain anywhere between four and one million spores depending on the individual species. It's the sporophyte structures that are prominent in these pictures ... these ones are about 15mm tall.

Not that I initially set out to craft a post on moss reproduction this morning but I thought it may ... you know ... add something to your experience if you knew vaguely what you were looking at. Besides I find it fascinating and it is Spring after all.

You may also notice I'm using a new gallery technique to disply the pictures ... like it? Do let me know :-)


In Review - The Woohoo Revue

In Review - The Woohoo Revue @ The White Eagle Polish Club
with Nyash! - 2nd August 2013

I know it's going to be a popular gig. The line of parked cars extend up David Street to the park ... this is a good sign. Bicycles are tied to poles everywhere but there's a spot left in the main rack ... the luck is with me. I secure my steed and push my way inside. The place is pumping. In the main hall Nyash! are pushing out Afrobeat and the room throbs with a deep pulsing ... I like it and the effect carries through to the bar which is echoing the beat and adding the raucous crunch of pub-conversations and early and happy inebriation.

There are a lot of people here. There are a lot of people I know. There are also a few of those that I know but have never encountered out before ... this could be interesting ... a bit of the extra spice! 'Ghiv-ee-Yetz please' I say at the bar and yes! I really have done it.* After some of that polite yet awkward conversation with some afore-mentioned out-of-contextors, I take my beer next door. The Polo looks better packed with people. Feels better packed with people.

I see that a golden curtain has been hung above the stage, it resembles an embroidered bedspread my parents owned. It has the neat effect of concentrating the action on stage while creating a sense of theatre ... something the parental golden bedspread perhaps aspired to but never realised in it's time with us.

Nyash! are on and in the final throes of their set ... I'm met with a dirty Coltraney sax solo that resonates in my bones before flying off into a whirlwind of rhythm and worldbeat, deep and rich. The sax is a Bari of course and it sounds rich and raw. I recognise Simon Milman on Bass and Rafael Florez on percussion. There's also a trombone, alto sax, keys, drums and two guitars. Apparently Keys and Bone are new to the band and tonight's their first gig ... they have bright futures. During the break Rafael tells me he thinks one of the guitarists in the band is hot but he doesn't tell me which one ... I think he means their playing but I make to write down the innuendo instead ... things are simply more interesting that way.

I head to the bar ... there's even more people than before ... and more folks are coming in strongly through the door. I make it back into the hall just as the main band take the stage ... The Woohoo Revue.

From the first beat, the first note ... I know I'm in for a treat. Oh it's good. Sleazy beats and noir stabs. The band is well dressed, sombre dark tailorings and red silk ties. Dark curly locked Fiddler is gypsy green satin and white tulle and gorgeous. Bass guitar is wearing a gold sequined dress and the sax player is sporting a peroxide quiff. I can't see the band's footwear but I'm thinking it's universally black and pointy. The crowd dances from the get-go ... seemingly anxious to not waste a precious note of this band. Oh it's tight ... like a well, whatever you consider your metaphor for tightness to be ... I know what mine is ... I'm sure you do too and ... I realise I'm less than 20 bars in to the gig. The music is complex and richly virtuosic ... Klezmer and deep beats intertwine in dizzying spins. The breaks are numerous and choppy, dipping, diving and weaving but this is such an accomplished band that the beat runs through regardless and while lesser hands would lose a crowd, the dancers are right up there in it. Slinky dancers too ... quite a ridiculous number of them and a top hat or two in the crowd ... I think we could use more of them ... hmmmm ... slinky dancers and top hats? Now there’s a thought.

Before I know it I'm in the Middle East with sun-drenched guitars before descending to a swirling market of crowds, silver and spice ... the fiddler ... she is fantastic! I emerge from a quick trip to the bar, which is still packed by the way, into a dark Western, full of menace and potential ultraviolence ... the dancers are in a frenzy and when the break comes, cruel and heartbreaking both it's to launch into what would be a colossal pop bloodbath scene in a Tarantino flick. I'm astounded at the sheer presence of it. I’m standing toward the back and of the hall, feel a bump and, turning around I realise dancing has erupted behind me ... even Dave Howe on the desk has his hands in the air and is dancing! Just when I think the virtuosity of a soloist has peaked there's a seamless transition to another effortlessly as good and on it goes. The fiddler is riding on the shoulders of a dancer and playing the floor. If the world was ending in the morning there’d be parties like this.

The humidity, rising along with the rich scent of an energetic dancing crowd, reaches a critical mass. It’s as though everybody has suddenly remembered they’re Jewish or Romany which I’m pretty (though it has to be said not entirely) sure is not the case. A climactic finale and the crowd is left panting and whooping amongst semi-orgasmic chants of More! More! Woohoo return to the stage and suddenly it’s like they never left as they take us on another colourful flight of furiously enjoyable music.

Sound and lighting were transparent which is good as Dave doesn’t seem to be watching the desk whenever I look over at him ... which admittedly isn’t very often ... my mind really is elsewhere...

Reflecting, I enjoyed what I saw of Nyash! and think they're very fortunate to be supporting this lot ... Nyash! are worth seeing but The Woohoo Revue is in another league entirely ... inspirational.

Overall a top night ... one of the best I’ve seen at the Polo.

Thanks again to Nigel McRae and the Canberra Musicians Club for the opportunity.




*I know I said I'd learn another beer ... there's always next time...

First published in Culturazi Aug 2013

In Review - The Main Guy and the Other Guys, Buck et al, NozL

The Main Guy and the Other Guys @ The White Eagle Polish Club with Buck et al, NozL. 19th July 2013

It’s cold. It’s been raining on and off all day and I’ve spent a good deal of it umming and ahhing about whether to go out tonight ... I’m on a bicycle you see ... turning up sodden and cold to a gig is not my idea of a fun night. But then, about 6pm ... What ho ... the radar’s clear! I’ll go! See, it’s that easy and I wonder briefly what on earth I spent my time looking at before weather radars appeared in my life.

I hear a band from out in the street as I ride up ... at least I’m not early this time ... a couple of smokers outside, the bike rack’s empty ... I head inside. There’s a band playing, pumping away but that’s about all ... I count 6 patrons in the bar and the three smiling bar staff make a total of nine. I fail in my beer pronunciations again. I practice with the staff and get smiles and a little cheer when I get it right but as soon as I’ve walked away with my beer I realise I’ve forgotten again.

There’s a tall thin lad sitting on the door, he’s sporting a lazy silver mop of hair and wearing a tailored grey waistcoat over a long sleeve shirt with a faint check and fluorescent orange earplugs ... he regards me with a look I’m sure he reserves for the many idiots he encounters and says that he can hear me fine but I’m not convinced he’s the one with the hearing issue ... turns out this is Buck from Buck et al ... more on Buck later.

In the hall the crowd’s a little thin ... I grab one of the couches up the back and settle in. NozL are up, be-robed and be-Fezzed and not just you’re average street Fez but tall, statement Fez adorned with strange curling insignia sitting well with the priestly mutterings of keyboardist-lead Tom Harwood.

They love their aural wipeouts this lot... crescendos and intensity building mashups with the odd jazz chord and, in the midst of a particularly disorienting one, I swear I’m immersed in an ode to Joy Division. NozL dip and dive in their ferociously musical way, at once punk, ska and smoothly transitioned intervals lulling me into false calm before well-positioned rantings and swirl of wipeout. I find myself besmirking an enormous grin at the sheer nerve of their outpourings and energy. People are trickling in and I sincerely feel they deserve a bigger crowd ... a way bigger crowd.

Back to the bar, it’s quietly humming now I’m in a conversation with bar staff and friends about flu vaccine efficacy and mosquitoes as disease vectors (in particular Aedes albopictus, commonly known as the Asian Tiger Mosquito and chikungunya ... nasty ... go look it up)

Buck et al take the stage and I see the frontman is the lad from the door ... though now he’s standing on seemingly impossibly thin legs. An effect not helped (or perhaps greatly helped) by the front-panelled black leather tights he’s wearing ... perhaps they’re pants ... ok tight pants then. They strike me as deeply wrong these pants/tights/whatever. If they were all leather? Yeah. All black tights? Yeah ... but the combo? Mmm ... not really. His acoustic guitar, slung a little high causing his tackle to catch the stagelights in a fashion unflattering ... let’s just say the pants distracted me and not in a wholly good way which is a shame because I enjoyed the music. Speaking of costume, the drummer was wearing a plush nylon tiger suit. I’ve done my time as a drummer and I reckon the plush nylon and percussion combo to be a recipe for steroid creams. At least they made an effort. The songs were well-crafted and well-executed. The band swap instruments and are equally fluent in each. I enjoy Buck’s turns on the keyboard (perhaps because he sitting down again) and more than once I find myself thinking ‘did he really just say that?’ the outbursts polite company would ignore but onstage became this seemingly high-maintenance Morrissey. I had problems balancing Buck’s desire to shock with his desire to be taken seriously.

The Main Guy and the Other Guys, down from Newcastle, take the stage. There is an air of professionalism about the Guys. Matching grey/blue collared shirts, black trousers and pointy boots. They set the tone perfectly, opening with a three-part harmony leading down a twisted corridor into a tight room of dark, Cavey ballad. I’m reminded how much I like a band that opens well and this lot are no exception. Fronted by ‘The Duke’ this crunchy four-piece take us on a musical journey to pretty much everywhere. The lyrics are clever without being smart and the performances tight and delivered with energy and craft. The room is filling and the space before the stage disappears. As The Duke fires up a KORG Microstation and a beautifully rounded square wave oscillates it’s way across a boppy disco power shuffle with added jangly guitar, the dancers appear! They can’t help themselves! The guy in the paisley shirt and his curvy red companion rip up the dance floor and set the groove. It’s a frenzy ... well ok not quite a frenzy ... but there are dancers and some them are slinky. Have I ever mentioned I like slinky? It’s followed by their new single ‘Partyhard’ and it deserves to go big places ... catchy with a melody, speedy pulse and chorus that stick like a sweet glue. 80’s inspired Casio boppiness maintains the dancer’s momentum. A stripped back multi-vocal track over lush guitar appears that is easily the best mixed track of the night.

At times the Guys’ set leans toward the unpleasantly loud and my companion, who is knowledgeable in these things, yells into my ear reckoning the on-stage bass rig is set too high, dragging everything else up with it. That’s likely a minor quibble though and the gig is solidly mixed and lit by house mixer Dave Howe ... in fact when I take a pew up near the sound desk it sounds rather nice.

Too soon the gig’s all over. My companion and I pool our remaining coins and go sort of halves in a copy of the Guys’ EP ... he’s suddenly gone all shy so I ask The Duke to sign it for him. It’s very good and as I listen to it on repeat on Saturday morning (I got to take the EP home you see) ... the songs still sound as good as they did the night before. It’s Just A Roll Of Toilet Paper (feat Kira Puru) is another stand out track but they’re all very good and faithfully produced.

I glad I came out tonight ... it’s always worth the effort.


Some other notes ...

Ania the barmaid is the lead singer in a Polish Punk outfit called Bad Pharmer ... my companion and I make notes ... she’s suddenly become even cooler.

‘Zhiv-eee-yetz!’ Fuck I’ve done it! I even write the phonetics in my notebook ... next time I’m going to learn a different beer ;-)


Linky love:

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 ;-)



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.

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


Fog Chasing

Canberra gets foggy. Mostly it's morning fog, settling sometime before dawn. When it's extra thick it may not burn off until well after lunch ... sometimes it doesn't lift at all and the temperature hovers in the low single figures all day. Those days are cold ... that seeping cold that slowly creeps into the bones. Every now and again, if we've had rain, the fog starts in the early evening ... you can see it descending ... beginning as a glow around the streetlamps. It can be very localised too as I found out again the other night when I decided to get on my bicycle and go fog chasing. I didn't really have an idea or location in mind ... just knew I wanted to get pictures - at night - in the fog. So I set off in what I thought was a good direction but soon found no sign of the fog... it was all clear as a bell.

Not to be deterred turn around and head back up the hill toward the mountain which I can see is shrouded in cloud. I'm thinking that perhaps all I might get tonight is exercise. I'm now riding up the dark foggy (that's good!) cycle path toward the institute of sport where I can see a huge glow from the sporting field lighting. Through the eucalypt trees (Canberra has a lot of trees) I can see something that might make a photo. There, in beautiful foggy light, are delicious green sports fields with dark backrounds and bright, stark white goals and nets.

There seems to be noone about. The gates are open so I ride on in like I'm supposed to. Ooops ... there's a security guard ... oh make that two security guards. They ask me what I'm up to and I explain I'm a photographer (you know ... like that should sufficient for any question!) and I'd like, if I may, to take some pictures of the goals. They ask "why?" ... it's a fair enough question and it's a national training facility ... it's also cold and damp and night time. So I start to explain about how I really like the bright white goal nets against the flat green grass and how the foggy lights bring a terrific misty ambience ... I can see their eyes  glazing and so I stop and say "you know ... fog chasing arty stuff ... I have a business card if that helps?" I give them my card as I'm pulling my camera out of the pannier ... it's a big camera with a lens that encourages repsect and credibility  ... they say OK ... that's where I took this one...

Goal lit by misty lights on green
Goal lit by misty lights on green

Now I'm not really into sport and by and large goals and ovals don't do it for me but this just looked fantastic and this picture goes some way toward giving you an idea of how the scene looked to me.

OK, I got a picture so the ride tonight (I've been out for about an hour and a half by this stage) hasn't been a total write-off photo wise and so I say thanks and goodnight to the guards who've been watching with a slightly amused eye as I've trekked around the oval photographing goal nets :-)

Riding back into the fog it suddenly clears again and I'm near a pond by the road with an intersection on the other side. The pond is still ... the reflection near perfect and so I stop and get the tripod out. I take a series of pictures extending the exposure time each subsequent frame and finally settle on about two minutes to produce this one...

Intersection reflected in a still pond
Intersection reflected in a still pond

It's not the most amazing picture I've ever taken but I like it. I love the reflection and the light stars. Two half-decent pics tonight ... it's turning out all right this fog chasing hunch...

Now I'm starting to feel cold and damp and I start to head for home. I can literally see the fog descending betweeen where I am and where I need to go and so I set off. There a patch of road which I've seen at night in the fog when driving without my camera (this actually happens a lot) where the lights arc away and the light from the lamps shines only downward leaving them appearing as if suspended ... I head there now and it looks just as I'd remembered it (I love that about my brain - the way it records a scene). I didn't bother with the tripod ... I was feeling cold and lazy ... and so set the camera on a very high sensitivity which brought in the grain which I think really suits this scene ... which scene? Well, the one below of course ;-)

Lights in the Fog
Lights in the Fog

I like this one best ... I'm going to print this one up ... not often a picture fast-stracks itself to the front of my printing queue.

What about you? Do you ever get a sudden urge to go and take pictures of something or take walks in the rain or wander about in the fog? Do tell :-)

Wordless: Autumn

Wordless: Autumn