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My Decade in Photography 2010 to 2019

My Decade in Photography 2010 to 2019

My interest in photography began over 40 years ago but got properly serious in 2010 when my wife bought me my first DSLR. Over the last 10 years I have learnt about photography and explored this part of South Coast NSW. As we tick over into the roaring ’20s I thought it was the ideal opportunity look back at what I viewed through my viewfinder during this turbulent decade of ours …

2010

The camera I started this decade with was a Canon EOS550D. My wife Catherine bought it for me for my birthday as a replacement for my aged Canon Powershot G6. One of the first places I explored with my new camera back in 2010 was my local beach – Seven Mile Beach in Shoalhaven Heads. I particularly liked the detail I could get in my photos and the sense of scale I could portray. (October 2010)

Fairly early on I invested in a 50mm prime lens and began experimenting with very wide apertures. This was one of the first successful shots I took in that style, during a sunset on the banks of the Shoalhaven River. (December 2010)

2011

This is one of my favourite shots. I took it in the aftermath of an electrical storm down at the boat ramp in Shoalhaven Heads. I make no secret of my love for big bright skies and being able to capture moments like this has defined my decade in photography. (February 2011)

MY PHOTOGRAPHIC DECADE
- THE RAW NUMBERS

1
TOTAL NUMBER OF PHOTOGRAPHS
TAKEN BETWEEN 2010 AND 2019
1
NUMBER OF PHOTOGRAPHS I AM
BASICALLY HAPPY WITH
1
NUMBER OF PHOTOGRAPHS I AM
(ALMOST) TOTALLY HAPPY WITH

Turned out that my little 550D was pretty good for action shots too. This surf break is Werri Beach in Gerringong. (March 2011)

One of the things I love about landscape photography is that it forces people like me who would ordinarily just stay at home, to get out and explore and experience new things. For this shot I walked up through the Barren Grounds National Park before first light in order to photograph the sunrise at a stunning lookout calling Drawing Room Rocks. The mist was flowing out of Kangaroo Valley and down Woodhill Mountain like a river. (July 2011)

2012

I was lucky enough to get a tip-off about a bioluminescent bloom occuring in nearby Jervis Bay. I headed down not knowing what to expect and experienced an amazing display of natural beauty. My 550D wasn’t really up to the task of capturing the bio and the Milky Way but it did its best. (August 2012)

2013

Around 2013 I got a job working for a non-profit organisation in Sydney. This meant I started exploring my state capital both during the day and at night and it was during one of my night-time explorations that I shot this image of the ‘coat hanger’ from Observatory Hill. (January 2013)

2014

There is no secret to photographing colourful skies – you simply need to go out as often as possible and the law of averages will take care of everything else. On this particular winters evening I was one of the few people left on the beach, then these two lady surfers caught a last wave in and starting walking down the beach towards me. I asked them if they’d pose for me and they said, “Sure, how?” and I said, “Just look meaningfully out to sea.” So they did.  (July 2014)

THE GEOGRAPHY

Yes, I have indeed taken over 50,000 photos at Gerroa this decade.

Pelicans are real characters. I imagined that these two had had an argument and were refusing to talk to each other and the gulls were trying to broker a peace deal. (April 2014)

2015

I was shooting bracketed images of this sunset so I could tonemap them later on, when this pelican made an impromptu appearance. Not having time to change modes I fired off the three bracketed shots, but it was only the under-exposed one that was sharp enough to use. Fortunately there was plenty of latitude in the RAW file to pull out the image. (September 2015)

Sunrise over Green Island. I saw the bird coming into view and hoped to capture it silhouetted against the rising sun over the island. (March 2015)

2016

I was exploring Narooma with my camera when I saw these awesome boats moored at the end of a private wharf. I got chatting with the boat builders that built these wooden boats and they kindly let me explore the wharf. (March 2016)

There are some iconic locations scattered up and down the coast near me and over the course of the decade I visited them all. This is the famous Glasshouse Rocks in Narooma at sunrise. On the right you can just make out the lighthouse on Montague Island. (September 2016)

There are many iconic surf breaks on the south coast, but Jervis Bay is not one of them. It takes a very particular set of conditions for there to be decent waves inside the bay and it happens only very occasionally. On this occasion I was photographing Target Beach and I found this guy enjoying the waves all on his own.  (May 2016)

In 2016 I was commissioned by Shoalhaven Council to photograph all 100 beaches located in the Shoalhaven Council region. As part of that process I got to explore all sorts of cool parks and reserves. I encountered this handsome red belly black snake down at Bawley Point. (May 2016)

You can have a lot of fun experimenting with camera angles. In this case I pre-focused my zoom kit lens and then lay it down on the sand and pointed it towards the birds. Kind of feels like you’re hanging out with them. (June 2016)

About mid-way through the decade I made a big change to my photographic process by adding a drone to my kitbag. I bought a DJI Phantom 4 right after they came out and immediately fell in love with this new style of photography. This photo was one of the first I took with my drone, sunrise on my local beach.  (June 2016)

THE BIG PICTURE

I have a love/hate relationship with Hyams Beach - I think it's beautiful but it's also always busy. (August 2015)
I discovered early on that drones are excellent for big panos. This my favourite beach - Murrays Beach in Booderee N.P. (November 2016)
For this aerial pano, I flew my drone over the bushland, centred on an outcrop of trees and made sure I got all of the amazing sunrise. ( May 2019)
This is my local beach - Seven Mile Beach - at sunrise shot with the drone. (September 2019).

THE LENSES

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shots taken with EF-S10-22mm f/3.5
1
shots taken with EF-S55-250mm f/4
1
shots taken with EF-S50mm f/1.8

I began exploring the possibilities of drones and making images totally different to ground-based photography. This is one of my favourite shots ever, a ‘bomb shot’ taken above the lighthousees of Point Perpendicular. (November 2016)

I’ve photographed the famous Hampden Bridge in Kangaroo Valley from below and at ground-level and in late 2016 I was finally able to capture it from the air and provide context to its location within the valley.  (November 2016)

Horsehead Rock in Bermagui was on my wishlist for ages. I finally got around to photographing it at the end of 2016. The conditions were perfect for drone flying, so I sent my Phantom 4 up into the air and then thought to myself – I wonder what this rock looks like form the other side. Turned out it looked a shit sight more like a horse from round the back than from the beach side. This shot caused a huge stir when I released it in 2016 and went viral because only the fishermen knew what it looked like from the ocean side and they’d kept quiet! (December 2016)

I’m not so much a storm chaser as a storm recipient – I don’t tend to drive hundreds of kilometres to photograph them, but if one happens to roll overhead then I’m more than happy to photograph it.  The young lady in this photograph remained very still for the full 30 seconds of this exposure. (December 2016)

2017

During a holiday to Bendalong I took the opportunity to photograph this incredibly vibrant sunset from above Washerwomans Beach.  (January 2017)

Kind-hearted locals installed this bench on the dunes near the surf club building in Shoalhaven Heads and it quickly became a very popular spot to sit and watch the sunrise. Unfortunately it got vandalised, twice. And then council said we couldn’t put it there anyway because it didn’t meet ‘regs’, so now you have to sit on your arse here if you want to watch the sunrise. (February 2017)

This is Green Island near Lake Conjola on a later summer’s morning. This used to be a prized ‘secret spot’ amongst the clued-up surfing fraternity, but nothing remains a secret in the era of social media and now everyone knows you can catch a fucking good wave here off the southern side of that island. (March 2017)

I spend more time than is healthy photographing this bit of Seven Mile Beach at Gerroa.  (April 2017)

People have been travelling down from Sydney to photograph Cathedral Rocks since the late 19th century, so it’s fair to say that there’s nothing secret about this particular spot. It’s fairly close to me and I spent a bit of time trying to secure a colourful sunrise in this location before finally catch a break in the autumn of 2017. (May 2017)

MY PHOTOGRAPHIC DECADE
- THE CAMERAS

1
CANON EOS 7D MARK II SHOTS
1
CANON EOS550D SHOTS
1
DJI PHANTOM 4 SHOTS
1
DJI MAVIC 2 PRO SHOTS

Broughton Creek is a tributary of the Shoalhaven River which just happens to be a couple of minutes away from my house. It’s my ‘Oh shit there’s a really nice sunrise happening’ location for when I can’t get anywhere else but have to capture that sky. (June 2017)

You do sometimes get some truly amazing sunrises on Seven Mile Beach. This was a particularly good one. I like the guy capturing it on his smartphone.  (August 2017)

Sure you get pelicans hanging around the boat ramps, but rarely in these sorts of numbers. They’d just had a good feed from a returning fishermen and were cruising off to find somewhere to roost for the night. (August 2017)

I’d always wanted to capture an image of my my local beaches that screamed ‘summer’ and I think I got that with this shot taken on Murrays Beach in Booderee N.P. The geography of this beach is changing all the time and this particular little section looks nothing like this now. (September 2017)

2018

When I got my drone I revisited so many of my popular photo spots in order to capture them from the angles I’d been dreaming about for years. That was certainly the case with Narawallee Inlet near Mollymook. (March 2018)

You can find some pretty amazing geometric patterns once you start looking down on this planet of ours. In this case I looked at my smartphone screen as the drone flew overhead and thought to myself – golden ratio. (March 2018)

Sometimes my wife Catherine joins me when I’m heading out somewhere to photograph something. I like it when she joins me because she brings me good luck and I always seem to score a great sunrise or sunset when she’s there. This one, taken at Gerroa, was a cracker. (April 2018)

Berry Courthouse is a cute little building and its custodians do a great job keeping its small gardens in great shape. I had been meaning to photograph some autumn colours here for years and years and in mid 2018 I finally got round to it. (May 2018)

This was one of the best sunrises I ever got to experience. I shot a little clip of this on my iPhone (vertical video for Facebook sharing) and it got picked up and reshared by Australia.com and Unilad. One of those amazing scenes where you pinch yourself. (June 2018)

The key to this photo was there being absolutely no wind at all. Even the slightest breeze would have ruined that glass-like reflection on Broughton Creek. (June 2018)

I don’t have a lightning trigger or anything flash like that. Instead I employ the time-tested technique of leaving-the-shutter-open-for-as-long-as-possible. This was around sunset (hence the back-lit skies) and I set the aperture to f/19 and ISO100 to get an exposure time of 1.5seconds. There’s always the possibility in situations like this that the lighting will strike between exposures, but you just have to work with what you’ve got. (July 2018)

Ah yes, the old lonely-tree trope. My tree is not far from my house and, thanks to pastures round it offers views off to the horizon. This is Lightroom HDR of three exposures. (December 2018)

I’m not big on trophy shots but I’d been wanting to capture my version of the view above Currumbene Creek ever since I first saw a promotional image on an advertising hoarding. It need to be a full-on summer day and I got my wish on Boxing Day. (December 2018)

THE FIRST 250,000 SHOTS

Henri Cartier-Bresson, the famous French photographer once jokingly said that your first 10,000 shots were always your worst. He said that at a time when all photography was analog and 10,000 shots would have been a laughably high number not achievable (financially or logistically) by many people.

In the digital era things are slightly different. There were times in this last decade when I shot 10,000 exposures in a single month; and I don’t think I’m a particularly prolific photographer. Digital technology has greatly accelerated the learning curve for photographers who are free to experiment in any way they see fit and the only cost to them is time.

Looking back at my first 10 years of ‘serious’ photography I can see the way I have developed and I can also see how I have stuck with some styles and developed new ones along the way. One of the very first landscape shots I took with my brand new 550D back in 2010 was a wide-open low-down dune shot on Seven Mile Beach and I still like taking those sorts of shots 10 years later. I do believe I have become more technically proficient over the years and there aren’t many circumstances or conditions of light, out in nature, that I struggle with.

My kitbag hasn’t changed enormously over the course of the decade. I do not suffer from gear-acquisition-syndrome – in fact I still use the 18-55mm kit lens that came with my 550D. One change was going from the cropped sensor 550D that my wife bought me in 2010 to the cropped sensor 7DII that I bought in 2015. The vastly improved sensor in the 7DII and its agile handling of low noise environments has been a joy to use. And of course I bought my first drone in 2016 and that has had a massive impact on my photography. Now every time I head out I have the same conversation with myself, where I try and decide if I’m just taking the DSLR, just taking the drone or taking both. Unless it’s blowing a gale I usually just take both.

Ten years man, I’d say ‘where have they gone’ but I have the photographic evidence.

2019

Photographing lightning with a drone is problematic – it’s not like you can fit a lightning trigger to it. But the video quality on my Mavic 2 Pro is so good that I was able to extract frames from a video of a storm instead. I was pushing my like with this storm and brought the drone home about 20 seconds before all hell broke loose as that shelf cloud you can see in this shot went overhead. (January 2019)

I’ve mentioned favourite shots several times in this decade recap, but if I had to plump for one shot above all of them, it would probably be this one because I think I successfully captured the feel of the coast in this part of the world. To take this shot I zoomed in on the gulls, focused on one of them and then disabled autofocus. I lay down on my stomach and rested the camera on the damp sand so that the lens was as close to the ground as possible and then took this shot. (May 2019)

In 2019 I developed a new technique. I had been taking 360º panos with my Mavic 2 Pro and it occured to me that I could extract from that rendered 360º a series of standard panos by navigating to a pleasing view window and saving it out. The software that made that possible was Affinity Photo and, from a 36k 360º of Callala Beach I extracted this 24k pano. I liked the results so much that I now shoot as many 360º sphere shots as possible and then take my time over extracting the most visually pleasing 2D panos.   (May 2019)

This proved to be one of the most popular images I produced in a long time. It is a 2D pano extracted from a 360º taken at Hyams Beach in Jervis Bay. Everything came together in this shot and I absolutely love the colour palette. (July 2019)

The camera on the Mavic 2 Pro is fabulous but that doesn’t mean you can’t refine the image quality. To get as smooth a fall-off of light in this image I shot two sets of five bracketed images and combined them using tone-mapped in Fusion. The location is Red Point in Jervis Bay. (September 2019)

The many coastal moods of Seven Mile Beach have been my focus for much of this decade. (October 2019)

Pastel moods on the beach where it all started for me. Sunrise on Seven Mile Beach. (November 2019)

I scored this serene and beautiful sunset on Broughton Creek  in November. Sometimes everything just comes together nicely. This was going to be the image that I ended my decade recap on, but then something else came up. (November 2019)

So here we are at the end of my photographic journey and it concludes with a reminder that absolutely nothing in existence is permanent and that change is the only true constant. This apocalyptic vision is a view of the Comberton bushfire burning south of my town, with the sunset back-lighting the smoke to create this decidedly eerie scene.  (December 2019)

On with the next ...

4 Comments

  1. Bonnie Barnard

    As always your photo’s surprise & delight. Thank you Catherine for buying that camera. Thank you Andy for sharing your passion. Merry Christmas to you both & may the New Decade bring you both all that your hearts desire.

  2. Josh Edwards

    Hi Andy
    Really enjoyed the journey of your decade in photography. Great shots!. My wife discovered you through Facebook I think and loves your photographs. We have a large sunset/lonely tree shot of yours above our bed. I was starting to dable in photography so she booked me an hour photo tutorial with you down at ‘black head’ (think that’s Cathedral rocks)about 4-5 years ago. You probably won’t remember it (you probably do loads) but it was very insightful and you taught me a lot.
    I went on to do some wedding photography but passion was always in the landscapes, partly due to our session at black head. I continued to shoot for many years but have put it down recently unfortunately with a new love of woodworking solidly taking up all my time.
    Just wanted to say congrats on the decade and keep up the awesome work.
    Merry Christmas

    • tenthousandshots

      Very kind Josh – thank-you. I wrote an article recently about putting the camera down so I do know where you’re coming from. Woodworking sounds like a very therapeutic hobby 🙂

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