Tag Archives: beach

Another day, another dawn #photo

Some of you will know I’m a keen photographer. Of late a new influx of crows has disrupted our sleep. I was awake before dawn, listening to these noisy bloody birds, so I thought I might as well get up and head for the beach to catch the sunrise. The days have been calm, and I was hoping for dead flat water and beautiful reflections. But the northerly wind, forecast to strengthen later in the day, had already whispered across the water. The tide was a little higher, too.

IMG_8900Still, there’s always a picture opportunity. I was delighted to see my old mates the Brahmani kites back on the sand bar at the creek. The light was low, and the bird wasn’t in a chatty mood. Seems he didn’t want to share breakfast.



Sunrise, when it happened, was through a bank of thin cloud.

sunrise photo

And there’s always somebody trying to hog the spotlight.


What the hell, I can’t sleep anyway

The kookaburras start their territorial battles before dawn, shouting at each other across their arborial borders. Greyish light filters through the bedroom windows, a promise of the end of night. It’s 4:30am. What the hell, I can’t sleep anyway. I head for the beach, taking both my cameras with me. It isn’t cold. Temperatures on summer nights rarely fall to less than 20C. In fact, the car’s outside temperature records as 27C.

I park my car at my usual haunt, where Tooan-tooan creek finishes its meandering flow at the bay. The streetlights are still on, but on the horizon high cloud is tinged with colour. I walk out on the rippled sand bar, splashing through shallow tidal pools with my bare feet, looking for a good place to take a shot. There’s a breeze, and a slight chop, but the tides is at half, and there are pools to reflect the water as the sun rises over the land, even if it isn’t going to be the mirror-perfect conditions I’d hoped for.

I wait. Fraser Island is a shadow in the distance. The last of the bats row through the sky above my head, returning to their roost at the creek behind me. The air is full of high pitched complaints as the colony’s denizens jostle for position in the trees. Beside me, small wavelets roll onto the sand, an endless susurration.

IMG_4962 (1)

The colour along the horizon deepens, flares into orange. The sun’s not far away. Behind me, ibises which have roosted on the trees above the bat colony launch into the air to begin their day, flying in stately triangle formation to their feeding grounds. Butcher birds warble in the trees along the shoreline, and groups of gleeful lorikeets swoop, shrieking, to announce the coming of the day.

People appear, some alone, a few with dogs, letting them play in the shallow water before the heat of the day. They cross onto the main sand bank between me and the rising sun and I swear at them under my breath, urging them away so they don’t spoil my shot, as if I have sole ownership of this place at this time.


Of course, they don’t spoil the shot. In fact, they give it greater meaning.

IMG_4983As I amble back towards my car, I notice a large bird. I can’t see it clearly, but I know them so well now, just by their flight. It is a Brahmani Kite, and as it approaches, even though there’s not enough light for a decent shot, I take one, anyway.

Good morning, world. It’s a beautiful day.


Dawn at the beach #photo

Summer’s on the way and I tend to wake with the sun. Early morning light and low tide – what could be better? So I went to the beach. The first morning, I left my Canon 550D at home and took out the little Sony Cybershot compact. This is about the best photo I took.

Sony shot

I was pretty disappointed. The Sony is capable of taking a good picture at 18Mp resolution, so I’ll admit one problem was my lack of familiarity with it. But the biggest issue in my opinion is the lack of a view finder. So the following day I took along my Canon 55oD. Here’s the result.

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Using the Sony I tried to take a picture of the gibbous moon reflected in a tidal pool but that didn’t work at all. When I had the Canon the moon was too high for a reflection. But I took a picture, anyway. And a few reflections. I love reflections,

Gibbous moon IMG_4498 IMG_4490

Creating a composite picture in Photoshop

The joy of photography for me is capturing a unique moment in time and freezing it. Motion is beautiful, to be sure, but it happens so quickly, we don’t see what is actually happening. Professionals can use slow motion photography, but that sort of thing is beyond my means. However, I do have a Canon D550 DSLR and Photoshop.

Not so long ago, I was down the beach with my camera taking pictures of the shore break when my husband hollered, “Beside you.” I turned and a pelican was coming in to land on the sandbar right beside me. I had the camera in ‘sports’ mode, so I held down the shutter and was rewarded with a series of shots as the bird came in. It occurred to me that it would be nice to stitch a few of them together to show what the bird did with its wings and feet as it landed.

picture of pelican shaping to land Pelican2 Pelican3

The difficulty was matching the background. Essentially, I selected one picture as the background for the whole shot. This is the picture. I used it because it had the best balance of beach for my purposes.

picture of pelican shaping to land

Then I used Photoshop’s Magic Extractor to remove most (but not all) of the background from the three shots I had selected. I made sure to include the reflection of the pelican in the Pelican landing1pools and enough sand around them so I could blend each picture into the others. Here’s the sequence of additions. Notice I seem to have two birds the same. In the final layer I pasted over the top of the bird in the middle and came up with the final shot.

Pelican landing2








I spent some time with Photoshop’s tools to blend the backgrounds together so the joins between the layers were invisible. And here’s the final shot. Poetry in motion.

Pelican landing

A specially awesome day

Photo of rain over Fraser islandI always take my camera to the beach and today was a specially awesome day with the camera.  We went early, to escape the heat, more than anything. As you can see, there was a shower around.

picture of perched osprey We said ‘good morning’ to the osprey looking down at us from his favourite perch

and waved to the Brahmani Kite high up in the pine tree.picture of Brahmani kite in tree

Then we were treated to the spectacle of an osprey hunting. It came in low over shallow water. Dived so deep it disappeared, then came back up again, fighting for the sky. I say ‘fighting’ – I think they do it pretty easily with those huge wings. The fish caught securely in its talons, it headed back up the beach to find a place to eat.

If you’d like to see more of my eagle pictures, you might like ‘When the universe tugs at your lead’ or ‘photographing Brahmani kites’.

aggregate picture of hunting osprey

picture of Brahmani Kite carrying a fish

Start of a new day

Do you ever get that ‘now what’ feeling? Where something is finished and you’re left empty, casing around for something else to do? It’s a bit how I feel at the moment, one project set free and now awaiting its fate, another teetering on the brink. I’ll start when I’m ready, when I feel less drained.

Until then I can console myself with the camera. Dawn is such a wondrous time, when the darkness gives way to the light and the waters blaze with brightness. I’m not often there to see it, but I was this time.

Photographing Brahmani Kites

Flying brahmani kitePictures of this majestic raptor always brings oohs, aahs and wows from people. Yet in many respects, they’re the easiest of my targets. The reason is two fold.

1)      I know where to find them

2)      They’re not shy

Our part of the bay supports a pair of Brahmani Kites. I’ll often find them on the tidal flat near Tooan-tooan Creek, where they’ll perch on driftwood or an exposed rock – anything where their tail is clear of the ground. Unlike the sand pipers and the white egret, they’ll let me get reasonably close. As they’ve got to know me, that’s increasingly close.

Brahmani kite on driftwood with snake

They’ll fly off if I intrude too much – especially if they’re protecting dinner.

Brahmani kite flying with snake

If they’re not on the tidal flats, they may be at a favourite roost in the mangroves above the creek.

Brahmani kite in mangroves

Or they may be up the other end of the beach, where a line of rocks is exposed at low tide. In fact, I got my bestest pictures of the pair together at that spot. You can see them here and here. If you want those you’ll have to pay for them.

And because they’re so big, they flap their wings slowly and glide so the camera can stop the motion. It’s much harder to get a clear picture of a small bird or an insect in flight because they move so fast and their wings move so fast. For flying shots, the camera is set to ‘sports’ mode, which means maximum shutter speed. That means you sacrifice the amount of light you get in the camera, and depth of field, so for the best shots, I need a bright day.

Share the pictures on this post by all means – just credit me the copyright.

When the universe tugs at your lead…

I hadn’t intended to write a photography blog so soon after my debut yesterday. But sometimes the universe jerks your lead and you just have to go along with the tug.

I went to the beach this morning, my trusty camera in hand. It looked like a nice day and I hoped I might catch up with a few of my feathered friends. Some of them have become friends, although I’ll forgive you for not believing me. Some, I swear, love to have their picture taken and seek me out when I arrive.

Eagle with snake in its talons

Today the Brahmani Kite was out on the tidal flat at Tooan-tooan creek but he’d caught a sea snake for dinner and was soon off to a safer haunt, no doubt to a perch above the creek where he often goes.

So I wandered on, up the beach. In the distance a bird bathing in the shallows caught my eye so I went to see. It was another friend, one of the pair of ospreys, a largish sea eagle. I’d been hoping to catch up with it this morning but I hadn’t anticipated the treat I had in store.

Osprey bathing

He flapped around in the shallows just like any duck, getting the water through his feathers, preening between dousing.

Osprey Drying wings

When he’d had enough, he set about drying his wings, flapping them about while he stood in the water

The osprey leaps into the air

Then he was off. A mighty leap into the air with a massive down beat of those powerful wings

Osprey flying

He swept away, over the beach and around the bay to search for lunch, I guess.

I’m so lucky to see these things. Share by all means – but acknowledge my copyright.

Open your eyes and see

picture of beach low tideIt’s photo Friday again. Just lately I’ve had several remarks about my photos along the lines of ‘you’re so lucky to live in a place where you can see these things’. Well, yes, I guess I am. Not everybody has whales playing in the water close by every spring. And Brahmani Kites don’t fly the skies everywhere, or fruit bats. But I can take photos anywhere. When I lived in Victoria I photographed the local kangaroos and sulphur-crested cockatoos and rosellas. In Perth it was reflections in the river, the view from King’s Park, wildflowers in spring.

Sure, not everybody gets to watch a skein of ibis working a thermal. But then, we don’t have storks here. I’ve never seen the sky black with starlings or a robin hopping across the snow or a blue tit raiding. In visits overseas I’ve photographed white swans and squirrels, reflections in Amsterdam canals. And everybody has sunrises and sunsets, rain on roses, beaches, clouds, bridges, trees…

Beauty is where you find it. Open your eyes and see.

This week’s picture is low tide at Hervey Bay early in the morning. In the top right you’ll see a sea eagle. I got a close-up shot of him later.


When I’m not writing I take photos

I’m feeling a tad introspective at the moment. Since I don’t have anything wonderful to say, I’ll show you something wonderful instead.

I live near a beach. I go there quite often, always that same piece of beach. And every single time, I see something new, something different. This was one of those times; low tide, near sundown, warm, calm… This is my idea of peace on earth. © Copyright Greta van der Rol

Please enjoy.