Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Photographing Australia

Opera House as viewed from Circular Quay ferry
My husband and I recently got back from a 3-month trip in Australia!  Because we were limited on what we could bring, I brought only my Panasonic LX-5 and it served me well, at least in the land- and urban-scapes department.  There were of course a few times where I wished I had my Canon 20D with a long lens to photograph animals (the animals in Australia are so exotic!).

Total Solar Eclipse near Cairns, QLD

We started our trip in the far northeast city of Cairns, Queensland, where we lingered for a couple weeks to explore the tropical beaches and rainforest, and to be in position to view the Total Solar Eclipse of November 14th, 2012.  We were extremely fortunate that the clouds parted where we were (Ellis Beach) just before and throughout totality.  The moment of totality is so brief (2 minutes!), so I was both trying to enjoy the moment, and to capture it on camera.  I set up the LX-5 on my Gorillapod, hoping to get the both of us viewing the total eclipse, but I under-estimated shutter time required and ended up with only a ghost of myself as I got up prematurely to check on the camera.

Port Douglas, QLD
I'm always a sucker for tropical beaches and palm trees, and the tropical coast of Australia provided.  One unique thing about this coast, though, is that the presence of the Great Barrier Reef effects the nature of the beaches.  There is very little surf, and the beaches seem rather muddy.  Not to mention the deadly box jellyfish and crocodiles that inhabit these waters.

Blue Mountains, NSW
Making our way down the coast, we eventually reached the Blue Mountains near Sydney.  Here we encountered abundant fern and eucalyptus forests, and attractive waterfalls.  Being the rock climbers that we are, we got down to business and tore up our fingertips on the sharp and abrasive cliff faces here.  We of course spent a few days exploring Sydney, capturing images of the iconic Opera House, Harbor Bridge, and the huge cruise ships.

Mount Arapiles
We left the coast to head for the world-renowned climbing areas of Mount Arapiles and Grampians (via the Australian capitol of Canberra).  It is inland where we saw a greater abundance of kangaroos, who love to feed in the grassy fields.  We got in a lot of rock climbing, 25 days total during our time in Australia!

Limestone cliffs along the Great Ocean Road
But even doing an activity you love, it becomes time to move on to see new sights.  We headed west into South Australia then made our way along the Great Ocean Road and Otway National Park. The Southern Ocean is wild and turbulent, and beats along the southern shores of Australia.  For dramatic coastal scenery, the Great Ocean Road is spectacular.  We spent a few nights in Otway National Park, enjoying spotting the koala bears up in the eucalyptus trees.

Australian Open tennis in Melbourne
But finally we had to make our way back to Melbourne, where we were able to watch three days of Australian Open tennis, and alas, to fly back home.

I took hundreds of photographs with my LX-5 while in Australia and I feel the camera served me well.  It was freeing to be a "lightweight photographer" in such a faraway land.