A snap happy day in Melbourne

As I packed up my camera gear in readiness for my day with Australian Photo Tours the following day, the rain was hammering on the roof and flooding the gutters. I felt a sense that the Melbourne weather may choose to be mean and sure enough, after a restless night, I awoke to continuing rain.

We left at 11.45am , my husband dropped me at Belgrave where I caught the train through to Flinders Street.

As the train made its way down the hill to the city the skies gradually began to clear, until, when I walked out of Flinders Street Station, I found Federation Square, or Fed Square as the Melburnians call it,  bathed in sunshine.

I had allowed some extra time in case of train delays, but with no such delays, I was thrilled, when I saw a Mini Cooper Expo, that I had the time to take a good look at my favourite car. There was some real classics amongst the small collection as well as some brand new models to admire too.

The Mini Cooper Expo

I was to meet up with Australian Photo Tours at the Atrium, and when I arrived I found chaos. It turned out to be the one day of the year they hold a market, Markit@FedSquare.

Luckily, Craig, the course leader made himself nice and obvious and before long a group of some 25-30 camera wielding folks where gathered ready for the off.

By this time, my rain jacket was packed away in my back-pack and I was regretting not even thinking about sun lotion, I had joked with my husband that I should take my sun glasses, now I wished I had. It was getting bright and quite hot.

We started our tour by walking to the rear of Fed Square and our first topic to cover was that of Exposure. At this point I was glad I had spent the time revising the principles of exposure. Craig explained it clearly and with humour, but for me the next challenge was to use the buttons and setting on my Canon EOS550D correctly.

I struggled a little bit to know if I was achieving a good result, but I got a bit of help from a fellow participant, who seemed to be a complete whizz with his photography.

The walls of Fed Square after learning how to set the exposure correctly on my EOS50D

So we were 15 minutes into the course and I had already got my money’s worth, I had learned how to get the right exposure, I had learned how to use my camera correctly in full manual. I was liking this so far.

Our next stop was just down stairs from the first stop. We entered a dark under cover walk way. The topic here was the use of ISO and our aim was to get some correctly exposed shots by adjusting our ISO setting and not using the flash. Again, a great exercise to test the theory and become familiar with the camera.

Learning about ISO In a dark walkway. Setting to ISO 6400 means the flash is not needed.

From here we headed along by the Yarra River. The Yarra is known as the “upside down river” as it is always really muddy, as if the river bed is at the top. With so much rain of late, the Yarra was in full flow and with it came an alarming amount of tree debris and, sadly, rubbish.

We stopped under the shade of tree and here Craig introduced us to how aperture and shutter speed interrelate.  We started by setting our cameras to ISO 200 and the aperture to f/5.6 then we had to photograph the floor, which was mostly shaded by the tree. The goal was to achieve the correct exposure by adjusting only the shutter speed. Then remaining at f/5.6 we photographed up into the sunlit canopy of the tree, again we had to adjust our shutter speed to obtain the correct exposure.

Shooting my feet at f/5.6

Shooting into the light at f/5.6

With that done, the criteria was changed. We set our cameras to a shutter speed of 1/125 sec and then shooting the floor then the tree canopy we had to adjust the aperture to obtain the correct exposure. I was getting the hang of the dials on my EOS at last.

With a short walk up a grassy knoll, we found ourselves looking at a fantastic vista of the city. And for the first time in ages I was loving seeing this amazing city sparkle in the sun against a beautiful blue sky.

City Scene with the Eureka Tower

Here we were introduced to the fact that the camera may indicate a correct exposure, but there will be times when under or over exposing will create a better shot. Craig explained about choosing an exposure for the highlights, and allowing the shade to add depth and mood to our shots.

So, we set about shooting the same shots from 2 stops under exposed through to 2 over exposed, this allowed us to see what can be achieved. On this bright sunny day I found being 1 stop under exposed gave me the desired shot, and a rich blue sky, whereas a correct exposure left the sky burned out.

Blue skies f/22 1-320 sec ISO 200 over exposed one stop

That done, we walked the Birrarung Marr pedestrian bridge stopping at the Federation Bells. Our next topic was Aperture, we were set loose to take pictures that gave examples of the different depths of field, with differing ranges of focus.

Our tutor, Craig Newell showing us how to experiment with our cameras

I found it difficult to inspired with the area we were in, and confess to not really meeting the brief for this stop. I was not too concerned as playing with aperture is something that I do quite a bit, not always to great effect, but I am learning.

That done, we walked down to a main road near the park. It was time to play with the traffic!

Shutter speed was now the focus, we needed to capture a car clearly, then a car blurred and then finally we were introduced to panning. Panning is good fun, it took me a while to get the hang of it, but with some more practice it will be a good skill to have when looking to shoot more creative shots.

With shutter speed the priority, we had to use adjustments in aperture to get the shot exposure correct.

On the move - ISO 100 f/22 1-50 sec

With our cameras slung around our necks and the sun starting to pinken our noses we took a short walk to pick up the City Circle Tram to our next location, Docklands.

The Webb Bridge is a photographer’s delight. From the architecture to the comings and goings of the local people, be it on foot, on bike, on blades, or just walking the dog.

Craig reminded us of the three elements of correct exposure and offered us advice about knowing the rules and how to break them for better creative effect. With that, he set us loose on the bridge, we were to put our days learning into practice. This was fun and my level of confidence in handling my camera was so much greater than prior to the tour.

Webb Bridge stairs ISO 100 f/11 1/160 sec

Webb Bridge ISO 100 f/11 1/160 sec

Webb Bridge looking up

Rusty rivet of the Web Bridge

Orange bike ISO 100 f/25 1/25

Hello human - ISO 100 f/25 1/25 sec

Once done, we headed off to a river side bar for a cold beer and a quick critique of our work. As our day was focused on learning about creative exposure rather than creative composition the “oh that’s a nice shot” photographs were few, but I had one or two I was quite pleased with.

I said my goodbyes, and with some directions from a fellow participant I tried to make my way back to either Southern Cross or Flinders Street Station.

As I walked along by the river with the sun on my face, I felt a real love for Melbourne. So often I have been into the city and the weather has been biting cold and wet, and the city has looked so grey and miserable. Today it had a completely different feel, I saw a real beauty I hadn’t seen before, and I don’t think one pot of beer would give me beer goggles!

Reflections of passers-by - ISO 100 f/8 1/30 sec

I followed the path as the lady had instructed, passing an older gentleman as I went. Then all of a sudden the pathway was fenced off! Oh poop, now where do I go?

The man seemed to be thinking the same as he approached from behind. “Let’s go this way he said.”, gesturing to the left. We did a U turn in the path and walked up some steps into a restaurant court yard and out the other side. This brought us to a covered walk way, I think maybe we were under a bridge.

The man was chatty and friendly, he asked if I was on holiday and seemed delighted when I said no, I was living in Australia. He, of course, asked the question nearly all Aussies ask, “Do you like Australia, will you be staying?”, I explained my love of the people here and that I would like to say this will be my home forever, but as my friends know, I have terribly itchy feet, time will tell.

Having asked me where I was heading the man gave me directions to get to Southern Cross Station. We parted ways with a hand shake, he sweetly said “I’m Noel and it’s been a pleasure meeting you.” I love Australians!

Walking back into the busier part of the city I was amazed by how often the air filled with the tropical fragrance of jasmine, it was beautiful, considering the traffic and the noise that comes with a city, it was the last thing I expected.

I arrived at the station with just a few minutes to wait for a train back to Belgrave.

I got comfortable on the train, iPod playing in my ears and with my camera hidden in my Back-Pack I took a quick look through my shots. It had been a great day, I had learned loads, I was now keen to keep my camera on Full Manual Mode, and it was all so enjoyable, and isn’t that what it’s all about?

I would love to take part in the Hanging Rock Tour, and dream of taking part in Craig’s  Great Ocean Road and/or Wilson’s Prom Tours, I shall have to save my pennies!

I think I will pay another visit to the Nobelius Packing Shed this afternoon and retake my photo using my new knowledge and skills. It will be interesting to see the difference in the result.

Happy snapping!

*** Update ***

And here is the picture of the Nobelius Packing Shed using my new camera knowledge.

Nobelius Packing Shed. ISO 200 f/8 1/125

This entry was posted in Courses & Tours, Learning, My Photographs, Photography and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

77 Responses to A snap happy day in Melbourne

  1. What an awesome idea… to follow someone into real situations where you need to use your camera would be so helpful to me. I love your photos of the Webb Bridge… great lines and arcs happening there:)

  2. That photo with the Eureka Tower is amazing!! Just beautiful!

    Also, I like the one of your feet too… 😉

  3. Wow — those motion shots are incredible!

    Looks like an incredible experience — and you gained some amazing photos out of it to add to your portfolio.


  4. valentinedee says:

    Nice clean shots. Nice look into a place I’ll probably never visit. Thank you:)



  5. conniewalden says:

    Thanks for sharing these great shots. Wish I were there. Connie

  6. pranavdhoot says:

    Lovely photos! *and most importantly, recipes!! lol* Following you 🙂

    • Thanks for the follow, I am flattered.

      I’m always looking of new recipes to try, so I’m sure there will be more. Plus, I have a million tomatoes coming along nicely in the greenhouse, so going to need to get inventive if I am not going to waste them. Do you like tomatoes?

  7. pnwauthor says:

    You bring back memories of my photography college courses. This was during the days of analogue photography. It’s interesting to see the same concepts approached with digital photography. Enjoyed your post and photographs.

    • How digital photography has liberated us! I remember the days when being experimental was an expensive endeavour, the cost of the film, chemicals and photo paper. Now we can shoot til our heart’s content and then face the challenge of finding the good and deleting the rest!

      Thanks for your comment.

  8. The Webb Bridge shots are my favorite. I absolutely love architecture pictures. It looks like you had fun adventures while taking the pictures. You totally deserve to be Freshly Pressed!

    • You are so kind. I cannot believe my little blog was selected for the Freshly Pressed, I am chuffed!

      I confess to loving architecture too, I am always bumping into people because I am looking up and not where I am going.

  9. You’ve got a great eye for composition and what a wonderful way to tour the city of Melbourne.

  10. Neato VInes says:

    blue skies is awesome!

  11. jseaford says:

    Funnily enough, I can see where you took some of those shots from my office window. You should try some of the ally ways down near flinders lane. The graffiti is awesome and I’ve seen some equally awesome snaps.

    • Hi jseaford,

      I love living up in the hills, but I love my day trips into Melbourne too!

      As for the lane ways, I know it’s a love or hate thing with people and the graffiti, I happen to love it, it’s a budding photographers dream.

      I was in the city just last week and spent some time sat in Degraves Street, snapping away.

      Some of the photos I am most proud of are in fact taken in the lane ways of Melbourne.

      Thanks for your comment.

  12. paintlater says:

    A great blog for this time of year. I was soooo over Xmas today and you took me back to Melbourne and out of my world for a little while. Thank You Happy travels.

  13. Red Toenails says:

    Okay, I’m no professional but I know what I like and I like your pics. Good for you!

  14. UponAtlas says:

    I giggled. 🙂 Anyone in Melbourne should have clothing & accessories for all four seasons with them every day



  15. soyouwanna says:

    I can only hope I get to travel there someday!


  16. Kitty Hun says:

    i LOVE my 50D. and I LOVE what you have been doing with yours. Your experimentation with shutter speed is very inspiring. I love the crispness of the retro car (what a great color) and the blurred red pants of the person in the background (yet again, another great color). the shot seems so in-the-moment and yet you nailed it. good work. can’t wait to see more.

  17. Kitty Hun says:

    Oooh gotta question though– very intrigued by the idea of ISO. I personally try to keep mine no larger than 100. I prefer natural light and shots without flash. If i wanted a shot like the one you took in the dark walkway, I would probably get a tripod and do a long exposure. but I see that your tutor told you to up yours to 6400?! Did he address graininess at all? This is why I don’t like to go above 100. Or at such a large ISO, does graininess cease to be an issue since the exposure settings might be different? Very curious. Perhaps you can shed some light on this for me. (pun not intended)

    • Hi Kitty Hun,

      The point of the ISO being set to 6400 was to teach us beginners that you can take a picture in a dull environment without using a flash or a tripod.

      There are always times when light is a problem and you don’t have a tripod with you and the effect of the camera’s flash is undesirable.

      We played with the ISO dial and found the point when hand held became impossible, it was a good learning exercise for those of us who had never considered ISO prior to the course.

      Yes, we Craig, our tutor explained that we should always aim to shoot with the lowest ISO possible (100 being the preference) for the conditions as the higher ISO settings result in noise (grain) and loss of colour and vibrancy.

      The objective of the course was to understand the triangle of exposure and how to choose which of the three elements is the priority for the shot and how to set your camera to keep to that priority.

      For me, from an artistic point of view, there are times when the grain is good, perhaps I would like to shoot a scene with a “grunge” appeal.

      Hope that clarifies.

      Thanks for your question.

  18. Great Press. I love your architectural photography and the image with the car and the motion blur is very nice. check out my blog, http://www.mcmphilbailey.com/blog. It’s still in the making, but It will be more populated by the first of the year. Entrepreneurs, non profits, photography and cinematography stories and commentaries coming!

  19. Arindam says:

    Great photos. Those photos of web bridge are simply out standing. You did a really nice job with the camera. 🙂

  20. You have a beautiful photo of the mini cooper!!! Kudos!
    -Blogger from Come On Up House

  21. I am so impressed with your knowledge of the camera and adjusting all the apertures to suit the subject. It sounds so easy when you describe it, but I have tried several courses and can vouch for the fact that it is not easy to achieve the beautiful shots you displayed. I am most impressed with the different obstacles you had to overcome to achieve the clarity that you have mastered.

    Well done, while I am relegated to a point and shoot camera!


    • Don’t be too impressed, I am still very much a beginner and “trial and error” is my main method at present.

      If you can find a course like the Australian Photo Tours format I am sure you would feel differently. It was very much 5 minutes of talk followed by 10/15 minutes f putting it into practice with two tutors unhand to check your progress and help when stuck.

      I too have had a go at a course at a night school and I came away none the wiser, in fact more confused than ever!

      I know from experience you can have great fun and achieve great shots with a point and shoot. Get the manual out one day and play with the different modes available, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words.

  22. M says:

    I’d love to take a tour like that. It would be great to put the things you learn into use straight away. A much better way to learn! I love Melbourne, I lived there for 3 months on a work abroad visa. I miss it a lot and your wonderful photos brought back some great memories.

  23. vtunnel says:

    thank your information i like it…..

  24. Great Photography and Merry Christmas!!!

    Have a great day,


  25. Dounia says:

    This is a really great post! The explanations of the camera and what you were testing out for each shot was great, and the shots were gorgeous. Thanks for sharing and congrats on being freshly pressed!

  26. masy says:

    what an amazing experience. love the pictures.!

  27. Chaks says:

    nice blog and awesome photos, i liked the orange cycle one

  28. Pingback: The Versatile Blogger Award | 365days2bpublished

  29. J.C.V. says:

    Congratulations you won the Versatile Blogger Award! Check it out here at http://365days2bpublished.com/2011/12/23/the-versatile-blogger-award/

    Happy Holidays!

  30. I have a Canon 550d and find quite frequently I like my pictures just under what the ‘correct exposure’ is. This was a great blog entry to read. It made me realise that I do understand a little about working in manual mode but at the same time got me thinking about what I don’t often do. (I set my ISO and my aperture and change shutter speed all the time but perhaps should start to play with aperture more… oh and panning… new concept!) Great blog. I look forward to reading more.

  31. The Hook says:

    Inspired, unique shots! Well done!

  32. Av says:

    good stuff..lots to learn from.

  33. My Last Pen says:

    wow..great photos… i really enjoy this..

  34. Wow really great pictures you have there, I learn a lot from this article, and i could use some information u have there (if u don’t mind :), i never went to any photo classes, guess i need it now.

  35. Wow really great pictures you have there, I learn a lot from this article, and i could use some information u have there (if u don’t mind 🙂 , i never went to any photo classes, guess i need it now.

  36. sorry, i don’t why my comment didn’t direct u to my blog but it went to “A drink precedes a story”, which i don’t know whose, but u can visit my blog http://tunkusyarilaiamgrateful.wordpress.com/
    Thank u

  37. roniel says:

    very nice photos! makes me want to go back to melbourne and take lots of photos!

  38. Sue McB says:

    Just found your blog – thanks for the link to Craig’s tours. Would love to do one……I’m a 550D user too, and still learning – love taking macros, but anything really! Added to to my blog list, and will be interested in seeing more shots.

  39. asoulwalker says:

    Sounds like a great experience– both fun and informative.

  40. I have always wanted to visit Australia..thanks for the mini tour 🙂

  41. metan says:

    What a great idea, to do a tour with a guide to help you like that. I liked your photos of the Webb Bridge. Congrats on being fresh pressed and I hope you get to do those other tours too, the one to The Great Ocean Road should be wonderful, hopefully you get a blue sky day then too!

  42. i wanna go back to Melbourne to take more photos. I missed it but loved the place ! Thanks for sharing !! and a bit late Merry Christmas !

  43. Mok says:

    Nice post. It’s not often you get a description of a photo walk as it happened. Great shots too.

  44. trialsinfood says:

    great post! love the photos of the bridge and orange bike. i will have to take one of these courses to learn how to use my camera!

  45. Cool pics!! like the rust with holes….

  46. Your photographs are so eye catching. It feels like I’m there looking at those buildings and scenery. It’s so real.

  47. gaycarboys says:

    You must be psychic, although I had good tuition from dad (a manager for Kodak for 40 years) I have forgotten most of what I learned as I small child. I wasn’t interested. Now I am interested I’m going to have to do a course to touch up all those lost skills. Thanks for the story and the fab shots.

  48. sekx says:

    love the way you write. This post is juicy 😀

  49. Pingback: North Carolina Days 1-4 | Kitty Blog Blog

  50. Pingback: 7 x 7 Award | The Emerald Garden Blog

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