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 ;-)


Wordless: A walk on the beach










Dried Bluebottle or Portuguese Man-O-War
Dried Bluebottle or Portuguese Man-O-War


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?


I tried hard to take a picture this morning. The day was glorious ... one of those Canberra winter days where the air is still, there's not a cloud in the sky and the warmth of the sun balances the chill in the air. I love days like these. I wanted to take a photo (it does happen sometimes!) and so I packed my light camera bag with a couple of lenses and headed out on into the late morning on my bicycle. I'd heard there was a car concourse over on the lawns of Old Parliament House to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Leyland P-76 ... not that I'ver ever owned one or even aspired to ... my first car was an automatic Triumph 2000 MkII and being manufactured largely by Leyland replete with apalling quality control and ridiculously dodgy wiring I always felt a kind of sympathy for these ... they were known as lemons and I recall a house in my suburb when I was growing up that had six of these cars in various states of decay on the front lawn. My Triumph or 'Tilley' as I called her was my first venture into the world of seventies British automotive engineering ... I ended up trading her for beaten up but gorgeous brass body Canon New F-1 camera and a couple of lenses (did I ever mention I have a lens habit?) ... I miss that car, it's smell and the way it lurched underpowered into corners but I think I got the better deal ... after all I still have that camera and it still works as well as the day I received it.

There are some times I'm simply not interested in taking photos and wandering around the concourse this morning was one of those times. There were many gorgeous colours ... repetition of theme ... curly cables ... eccentric characters but it was all Meh! I had a bag of excellent photographic gear and I watched other people taking snapshots and with various cameras and mine stayed in my bag and I just lugged it around for the fun of it. It was funny I thought ... I'd come here with the express notion of taking some photos ... and now I'm here I find none of it inspiring ... at all ... so I simply sniffed the engines, remember my Tilley and get back on my bike and ride toward home. On the way I pass a bit of decay ... the old Police & Citizens Youth Club ... closed for years now ... and see a little something ... it's a busted fan set into a brick wall but it appeals to me ... the first thing today. Not enough to be arsed taking my camera out mind you but enough to snap it hastily with my phone to remind me to go back and take it properly... I continued on my searching way...


So I keep on riding toward home and I come through Haig Park in Turner ... a long avenue of trees ... I used to live in a house (now long redeveloped) directly opposite the western end of the park ... and I see the light. Here's where I'm supposed to be ... there's the photo I'm looking for ... I roll my eyes ... at least I got some exercise riding across the lake first up :-)

I had my oculus with me and it captured the scene perfectly ... it's spherical fashion refracting the vista into it's tidy and tiny world.



And ... just because I like you lots I took a picture of the setup ... I found a small fallen branch and stuck it into the soil to create something to rest the oculus upon ... that's bushcraft that is  ... lol :-)


And how about you? Do you ever grab your gear and go for a walk and leave the camera in your bag ... or take absolutely nothing except exercise? 

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 :-)

Cranes Tweaking My Hair

It's been a little while since I put myself in front of the camera ... all this playing with flowers and having all the gear set up ... well the art just kinda got out of hand. I don't recommend sucking on a gerbera ... they really taste quite foul but for the sake of a loony selfie why not!




This last one pretty much sums up where I am right now ... playfully surprised, speaking flowers and with cranes tweaking my hair ... there's gold and lots of fun too :-)

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

So lucky! You get three and not just one ;-)

The Enchantress


From the water she rose
hands like whispering flame
a face in shadow
elsewhere perhaps
ripples spread circles
the enchantment begins

One of a series of pictures from a session in the Adelaide hills last year.

This is also the first time I've posted wholly using android on my new tablet. Lots to get used to but I think it will work :-)

Wordless: Autumn

Wordless: Autumn







Gone all Pop! The poster for Los Chavos

I did a shoot for 9-piece Latin band 'Los Chavos' a couple of weeks ago and have been busy processing them up. One of the parts of the commission (the kinda optional part) was to produce a poster for the band in the style Pop Art Cartoon by taking headshots of the band and reducing them effectively to solid colour paintings. I'd not tried it before but I knew it was possible so I agreed. I'd shot the headshots using the intense blue of our autumnal skies to make it easier to mask out later and replace it with whatever colour I chose.

When I first approached the task I thought 'It'll be easiest just to paint these in Photoshop using the original photo as a base.'. But then I'm not the greatest illustrator in the world and in effect I was afraid they wouldn't look any good (I'm sure I'm not alone on that front) so I went for what I thought was the safest option ... trialling and recording a series of actions incorporating various filters in Photoshop. The two main filters were 'Poster Edges' and 'Cutout' which I chose for their ability to effectively reduce the number of colours and tones I wanted in my final image. OK so after a couple of testy tweaky runs I passed all nine of the images through the action ... and? Well, the results weren't great, at least for most of the images. One worked really well, two others were alright and the remaining six were rubbish. I re-tweaked the processing and got a slightly better result: three out of the nine were now pretty close to where I wanted them to be ... that only left six (the same six as before!) still looking rubbish.


Hmmm ... there was always the painting option... so I began to paint. Not from scratch but using an intermediary layer created during the processing action. Using my editing tablet, I selected a hard brush, sampled colours as I went and well, painted! I was soon pretty caught up in the process and while each picture took a while (about 30 minutes each I guess) I was pretty bloody satisfied with the result. 



When I arranged all nine into the poster and coloured them up yellow, blue or red ... I literally said 'wow!'. I should note that I'm easily impressed with my own cleverness ;-)


The members of Los Chavos love it (and all the other non-painty ones which I'll post soon) so I think I've found another artform ... who'd a thunk it?


The Love Locks of Aspen Island

I was a walking in the Autumnal sunshine last Sunday afternoon and came across these engraved padlocks on the bridge to Aspen Island (or 'Carillon Island'). Some of them are quite recent (as in yesterday) and the oldest dates back to late 2012. I can only assume they're paying homage to the global phenomena 'Love Locks' (



I counted a total of eight(!) ... things tend to move slowly in Canberra so we've a fair ways to go until we approach the Pont des Arts in Paris or the Ponte Milvio in Rome.

Most of them bear the names of the lovers and a date ... however there's at least one cryptic inscription which reads;

Rm 701

Love to hear reader's guesses as to the meaning of that one!





Are Love Locks appearing in your part of the world? Do they encrust bridges and walkways?

For those with a geographical bent ... here's the location of the bridge to Aspen Island which incidentally is the location of the National Carillon ... a gift by the British Government to celebrate Canberra's 50th birthday. This year the city celebrates it's centenary.

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