Tag Archives: australia

My Home Town Favorites

Today’s post is about some of my home town favorites – special places in Melbourne, Australia that offer great opportunities for a photographer. Melbourne is a super place to live with lots of very good photography spots. It was hard to limit it to 5 places – but maybe I’ll write another post with another 5 one day. So, where are my home town favorites?

Melbourne is known for hosting great sporting events (among other things!) There is:

  • Melbourne Cricket Ground which hosts cricket test matches and AFL football
  • Etihad Stadium which hosts AFL football, and occasional soccer, rugby, rugby league games
  • Rod Laver Arena which hosts the Australian Open Tennis tournament every January, and
  • Albert Park Lake which the Australian Grand Prix races around

But none of those places have made this list of my home town favorites. So what has made the list?

Brighton Beach. Brighton is a well known suburb next to the beach in the city’s south east. It is well known for the colorful bathing boxes along the beach. They are great to photograph particularly at sunrise and sunset. They can also look great during a storm. As well as the bathing boxes, the beach provides great photo opportunities. I particularly like sunset in the summer time. Low tide can mean great silhouettes of people walking on the beach with the sun setting behind them.

Brighton Beach

Brighton Beach. Summer, sunset.

Yarra Bend Park. This large park area is just 4 kilometers from the city center. It is an extensive area which includes picnic areas, walking tracks, and a golf course. There is a road through the park area, and car parking available. At one spot, there are great views back to the city. On most evenings in the summer you will find people have stopped to see sunsets like this.


Melbourne cityscape taken from Yarra Bend Park

Yarra Bend Park. Yes, Yarra Bend Park again! It is a big park area. On one side are views of the city, and in another area is the Yarra River. Here you can see these spectacular flying foxes. There is a very large colony of them. This place featured in a previous post called Favorite Wildlife Photography Locations.

Yarra Bend Park

There is a large colony of grey headed flying foxes in Yarra Bend Park

City walks along the Yarra River. The Southbank area next to the Yarra River is a great place to shop, walk, and eat. There are a large range of good restaurants, coffee shops and places to relax near the river. For the photographer, there are also great views of the city buildings. Take a walk anywhere from South Wharf right through to the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Both sides of the river provide great views, with several bridges to go across when you are ready.


Melbourne city from Southbank

Wedding Venues. Melbourne is blessed with some lovely wedding venues. Some of my favorites are in the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges which highlight beautiful bushland just outside the main city areas. But my (current) favorite wedding venue is an inner city venue – St Michaels Church on Collins St. I shot a wedding there in October 2013 and it offers so many options in close proximity. The church itself is a magnificent building. Within a short walking distance are inner city laneways, classic tramways, parliament building, funky coffee shops and restaurants, the Yarra River, Federation Square, and Flinders Street Station. This shot is taken just behind the church. Melbourne’s famous weather added the light rain which helped reflect the brides dress. Nice one!


Melbourne has some great inner city wedding photo locations

These are my home town favorites. Do you have home town favorites to share?

Favorite Wildlife Photography Locations

This post looks at one of my favorite wildlife photography locations – Yarra Bend Park in Melbourne, Australia.

Flying fox

Grey headed flying fox showing off its wingspan. Yarra Bend Park, Melbourne, Australia

Where is it?

Yarra Bend Park is 4km north east of the Melbourne central business district in the suburb of Kew. If you are familiar with Melbourne, it is also close to Abbotsford, Collingwood, and not too far from Richmond. It is a 260 hectare park, which makes it the largest area of natural bush land close to the city center. In the area are large residential areas, bush land, parks, sporting fields, and golf courses. The Yarra River winds its way right through Yarra Bend Park. The area is popular with cyclists, walkers, mountain bikers, and has a great lookout area which provides views of the sun setting behind the city.

How do I find it?

I first went to Yarra Bend Park in 2008 when I was invited to play golf at the public golf course there. I have since found out that it is well known in Melbourne, but I had not been there before 2008. My round of golf, which I remember being a particularly bad (!), was the first of many trips.

What can I do there?

Actually, more than I realized! I looked up the Parks Victoria website and it shows that you can do walking, jogging, golf, fly fishing, picnic, sports, eat at the restaurant, visit Studley Park boathouse, and see Dight Falls.

Flying Fox

Position yourself to get clear background for your image

But the main thing I go to see are the huge number of grey headed flying foxes. They roost in the trees next to the Yarra River in very large numbers. There are publicly accessible walkways through these areas on one side of the river. You can see them hanging upside down in the trees, sometimes sleeping, sometimes interacting with each other, and now and then keeping an eye on you! If you had a view that bats or flying foxes did nothing during the day, that’s not the case. On most times I’ve visited there is plenty of noise and movement, and it is fairly straightforward to get images of bats in flight. In early summer, October and November, if you look closely you can also see them flying with their babies clinging to their chest.

About Grey Headed Flying Foxes

Grey headed flying foxes are the largest bat in Australia. They have a dark grey body, a light grey head, and reddish-brown fur around their necks. The  adults have an average wing span of 1 meter and can weigh up to 1 kg. They rely on sight to find food, and so they have relatively large eyes for a bat. But the thing that strikes you when you see them at Yarra Bend Park is just how many there are. It’s a huge thriving community of bats!

What Equipment Should I Take?

Canon lens

The Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens

While there are a lot of flying foxes at Yarra Bend Park, they are small animals and will often be some way off in the trees. To get close up images of them, you’ll need at least a 200mm lens. Even better is a 300mm or 400mm lens. (All the images on this post were taken with a 200mm lens.) For camera bodies, I use my Canon 7D for the high burst rate. It is ideal for taking images of these flying foxes in mid air. And I always take several memory cards. It is easy to take plenty of shots in burst mode and I don’t want to run out of memory.

What Types of Shots Can I Get?

Due to the large numbers of animals here, you can get a range of different images. It is possible to get these shots of flying foxes:

  • hanging upside down staring straight at you
  • interacting with each other seemingly oblivious to any humans nearby
  • in flight
  • isolated against a grey or blue sky
  • in silhouette against the sun
  • showing the veins in the wings

How do I Take Shots of Bats in Flight?

Flying fox

Flying foxes gather in big numbers at Yarra Bend Park

Taking shots of the flying foxes in mid flight is not difficult – particularly as there are so many of them. My suggestions for achieving this shot are to:

  • position yourself so you can get an uncluttered background
  • if it is a windy day, get them flying into the wind. They will be going slower which makes this shot easier
  • use the continuous focusing mode on your camera and track them in flight
  • use the burst mode to take a series of images in quick succession
  • use a fast shutter speed. My best images of these animals have been at 1/2500s and faster shutter speeds

Why is Yarra Bend Park a Favorite Wildlife Photography Location?

Yarra Bend Park is one of my favorite wildlife photography spots because:

  1. it is so easily accessible. It is only a few kilometers from the city and there is easy parking
  2. I have visited over 20 times, and the large group of bats has always been there
  3. there are so many animals, that a wide range of images is possible
  4. the contrast of being able to shoot what I consider to be a night animal during the day is unique

Take Me There!

I’ve always thought that Yarra Bend Park would be a great place to conduct photography tours. If you’d like me to take you there, drop me an email at craig@beyondhere.com.au

Thanks for reading all the way to here! I hope you might think of bats differently now. Yarra Bend Park is one of my favorite wildlife photography locations.

Fruit bat

Bat in flight, with baby on its chest

Manly Urban

Today we have a guest post from Renate Hechter from Pure Dynamics Photography in Sydney, Australia. Earlier this year Renate launched a new twist on family portraits – a concept called Manly Urban. In this post, she explains Manly Urban.

Thank you again Craig for giving me the opportunity to post on Beyond Here.

I have the privilege of living near one of the most beautiful areas in the world.  I do not think anyone that has been to Sydney and more to the point, Manly, would disagree with me.  One is surrounded by beautiful expanses of blue ocean, with the heads in the background on one side and Manly beach on the other side.  If you have ever been on the Manly ferry, you would agree that it one of the most iconic and picturesque methods of public transport.  All in all, to be able to have this view, day in – day out, is not only a blessing, but a calling to a photographer.


Manly Urban. Family portraits with famous Manly backgrounds. Copyright Renate Hechter.

For any photographer, it is important to create a service that is new and different to new and existing clients.  I have come up with the ManlyUrban idea, as people not only love to get some photographs of the area they live in, but it also provide a beautiful and modern back-drop for some stunning and different photographs. Manly also has a huge expat community, so it is a great keep-safe of your “home away from home”.

As you walk around and through Manly, you will realise it is a treasure-chest of scenic and urban areas. Here are some of my favourite areas.

  1.  Manly Ferry/Heads (in the background)
Family portrait

Manly Urban. Families in context. Copyright Renate Hechter.

The Manly Ferry is a tradition.  Since 1855 it is a “must do” for visitors.  It is the way Manly locals commute to Sydney. It operates 7 days a week, day and night.  It is one of the most picturesque and relaxing commutes in the world.  What a wonderful way to include this as a backdrop for a photograph.  The same is to be said for the famous Sydney Heads, which is the 2 kilometer-wide entrance to Sydney Harbour. People from all over the world will recognize it and these are some of Sydney’s most iconic landmarks.

  1.  Manly Corso

Manly, Sydney, Australia. Copyright Renate Hechter

The Corso is a busy and bustling place.  It provides direct access from the Manly Ferry Wharf to Manly beach.  It is also the main shopping area of Manly.  You get locals, tourists, buskers, mum and babies, school children, toddlers in the playground, retirees, surfers, skateboarders and many more all mixed together and wandering about.  Being photographed in the Corso takes some courage, as soon a crowd of people will gather to see what you are up to.  (My urban ballerina kept her cool in the Corso, even though she was surrounded by holiday-makers).

  1.  Murals

Murals make vibrant backgrounds. Copyright Renate Hechter.

There are a number of murals in different alley-ways in Manly that provide fabulous backdrops for urban photography.  Note, Manly Urban are not just for children.  My friend, Liz, is a local business owner and a Manly local.  As an artist (www.muktiart.com.au) she loved the opportunity to have a photograph taken in her beloved Manly in an area where the photograph could double as a piece of art.

When you visit Sydney again, make sure you get your Manly fix. You may even see me shooting Manly Urban in different locations! Please STOP and say HI!

Capture the Icons

This week I have been in Tasmania, Australia (without the camera). Being there made me think about how important it is to me to photograph the icons in each place I spend a significant amount of time. In addition to my wedding photography, I’m a keen wildlife photographer, so that means I try to capture the icons of the local wildlife.

Tasmanian Devil

Close up of a Tasmanian Devil

If you are not familiar with Tasmania, it is an island state of Australia located south of the mainland. It is important to me to clarify that, because I recently posted a picture of a Tasmanian Devil on Google+ and indicated the picture was taken in Australia.

Tasmanian Devil

The Tasmanian Devil is a carnivore

I got one comment which said it couldn’t possibly have been taken in Australia, as they are only found in Tasmania. While I found this mildly amusing, he refused to believe that the image had been taken in Australia, or that Tasmania was part of Australia! I should have suggested he come and visit some time.

Tasmania is known for a number of things including – spectacular scenery, friendly people, fresh air, great sunrises and sunsets, fantastic farming conditions and primary produce, excellent fishing, windy weather, and for the animal which bears its name – the Tasmanian Devil.

Tasmanian Devils are not easy to photograph as they are hard to find and don’t often keep still. I have been slowly building my range of Tasmanian Devil images over the last 5 years. Some quick facts about Tasmanian Devils. They are:

  • characterized by a stocky, muscular build
  • the size of a small dog
  • known for the power of their jaws relative to their total size
  • known for their ferocity when feeding
  • exist in the wild only in Tasmania (that’s Tasmania, Australia!!)
  • since 2008 have been listed as endangered, mainly due to the impact of facial tumor disease on the population
Tasmanian Devil

Tasmanian Devils are known for the power of their jaws

One fact I didn’t know until today, is that very few Tasmanian Devils exist outside Australia because the population which has been exported have not been successful in breeding. Interesting. Perhaps that’s why pictures of them seem to get an extraordinary number of comments on social media? Or maybe people feel a connection to them through the Looney Tunes character “Taz”?

Visiting Tasmania is always enjoyable, even if it is a little cold at this time of year. It was also a timely reminder to me to take time to capture the icons photographically.

Do you have a favorite icon to photograph? Buildings, architecture, people, wildlife? Have you had the chance to photograph a Tassie Devil??


Look for Baby Animals

Wildlife photography tip – if you want your friends to ooohhhh and aaaaahhh at your wildlife pictures, look for baby animals. It is the baby animals which get the “isn’t it cuuuuuute!” reaction.

Below are four examples of baby animals, the stories that go with them, and some technical data on each shot. These are all Australian wildlife.

Show me the samples!

Image #1 – Baby Koala

Koala and joey

Koala carrying its joey

Baby koalas are called joeys. They ride on mums back until they are too big. It makes for a great photograph when you can get the mother and baby both in the frame. This is relatively easy with koalas as the baby rides on mums back. Look for baby animals!

This image was taken in Queensland, Australia in the late afternoon. Koalas sleep for up to 20 hours per day. When they are awake, you can get a variety of shots in a short period of time. This shot was taken as it moved to another part of the tree to feed. The sun had set and so this was taken with quite slow shutter speed 1/60 sec at f4.

Image #2 – Baby Emus

Emu chicks

Emu chicks

Emu chicks can be challenging to photograph as mum won’t let you get close to them. She will stay near to them for protection.

They have the beautiful striped camouflage you can see in this image and are really cute.

To make this image I sat on the ground. This helped the adult emu know that I was no threat to her and her chicks. They proceeded to stroll all around me, and I was able to make a series of interesting images. Even though they are small, they rarely stay still. To get them nicely in focus you will need a higher shutter speed. This shot is 1/1250 sec at f4.5.

Image #3 – Bush Stone Curlew Chicks

Baby curlews

A bush stone curlew and its chicks

Bush stone curlews are common in the western suburbs in Brisbane, Australia which is where this image was made. They have an unusual behavior – when they feel threatened they stay completely still.

This does make them easy to photograph and you can get relatively close if you move slowly. Their chicks also have a similar striped pattern to the emus in the sample above. Very cute. Look for baby animals! This image was shot at 1/1250 sec at f3.5.

Image #4 – Kangaroo Joey

Kangaroos don’t generally let you get too close when they have young joeys who are out of the pouch. This one is big enough that it could easily have hopped away very quickly on its own. That might be the reason they both let me get relatively close – this shot was taken with a 70-200mm lens, 1/400 sec at f4.5

Kangaroo and Joey

Female red kangaroo and its joey

I love the look on the joey’s face as it peeks out from behind mum! If you want your friends to oohhh and ahhhh at your wildlife pictures – look for baby animals.

The koala and kangaroo images here are good examples of filling the frame with the subject for maximum impact. I wrote an earlier blog post on that topic to give your images greater impact.

What are your favorite baby animals to photograph?

Photography Tips Showing Part of the Scene

Here is the latest of my photography tips – showing part of the scene. Sometimes it is more effective to show only part of the scene to communicate emotion in an image.

This week I have been in Sydney. If you have never been to Sydney, it is worth the trip just to spend a few hours walking around Sydney Harbor. In less than one hour you can visit Darling Harbor, The Rocks, Sydney Harbor Bridge, Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House, and the Botanic Gardens. While you can do that in less than an hour – I recommend taking the camera and spending much longer.

Sydney Opera House

Part of the Sydney Opera House which accentuates the size of the sails

Visiting Sydney reminded me of two of my favorite images – both taken several years ago, and both of which provide a compelling image by showing part of the scene.

The image above was shot at dawn. I was standing opposite the Opera House using a 70-200mm lens. It was a grey cloudy morning, until the sky lit up in golden, yellow colors. The sun broke through the cloud for no more than 3 or 4 minutes. During that time, I was fortunate that a jogger ran up the steps and into this scene – highlighting just how big the sails are.

The second image (below) was shot at sunset. It is a closeup of people doing the Harbor Bridge climb. It was taken from in front of the Opera House looking across to the Harbor Bridge with a 70-200mm lens. Again, shooting only part of this scene gives a stark contrast between the huge metal bridge structure and the tiny human figures. The nice sunset helps as well!

Sydney Harbor Bridge

Tiny human figures doing the Sydney Harbor Bridge climb

Both of these images are good examples of showing only part of the scene to communicate a message. The contrast between the small human figures and the large architectural structures is really striking.

These images were both shot in the Sydney Harbor area. Do you have a favorite photo spot in Sydney?




Photography Tip Look for Reflections

Here is a general photography tip, look for reflections to add depth to your photographs. Reflections can add a new dimension to your images and can make a bland image compelling.

Below is an image I made at Albert Park Lake in Melbourne, Australia. This shot was taken early on a Saturday morning. There was no breeze, very still water, and high cloud. The cloud meant that the light from the sun was diffused and soft. The birds white color stood out against the darker color of the water. There were no distractions in the background or on other parts of the lake. The shape of the birds neck was very interesting, and the image was made much more compelling by the reflection of the bird in the water. Great!

Bird Reflections

White heron reflected in a lake

But it’s not every day that you get nice still conditions, a lovely still lake, no distractions in the background, and a cooperative heron!

So, where can you find reflections to add a new angle to your images?

My favorite places to use this technique are reflections in lakes, city buildings windows and building facades, puddles, trains and ferries, and sunglasses.

While this example is a wildlife image, this technique works equally well for other subjects. Think about these:

  • A bride reflected in the window of a wedding car
  • A street scene reflected in a city building
  • The Sydney Opera House reflected in the window of the ferry as you travel across Sydney Harbor
  • A football game reflected in a sideline puddle
  • The New York skyline reflected in your best friends sunglasses
  • Busy commuters reflected in the train window

The possibilities are endless.

It doesn’t matter whether you are shooting with the latest DSLR, your point and shoot camera, or your camera phone – this technique will still work well.

You can combine this tip with the tip to fill the frame with the subject for double the impact.

To help make average photographs outstanding, look for reflections.

Have you taken a great shot using reflections? What was it?

Urban Wildlife

Do you feel like you have to travel to exotic places to create great images?

My commitments in my home town (Melbourne, Australia) forced me to find photography opportunities close to home – and I’m glad they did.

Urban Wildlife

Grey headed flying fox

In Melbourne, there are opportunities to shoot architecture, city life, sporting events, city scapes, and lifestyle images. I’ve also found some outstanding wildlife urban wildlife locations, even in a city of 4 million people!

Here are 2 shots from some of my favorite places.

First, there is a large colony of grey headed flying foxes at Yarra Bend – roughly 7 kilometres from the city centre. They are spectacular animals and are relatively easy to photograph. This shot is taken with a 70-200mm lens and a fast shutter speed (1/8000s at f3.5) to freeze the action. I love the way you can see the veins in the wings. Spooky.

Second, at Albert Park Lake, there are cockatoos and corellas which visit year round. This shot was taken next to the golf course – a regular haunt for the cockatoos! Albert Park Lake is just a short walk from the city centre.

Urban Wildlife

Cockatoo in Flight

What are the great urban wildlife opportunities close to your home? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear what opportunities you are finding.