Tag Archives: melbourne

5 Easy Ways to Rediscover Your Phojo

I recently discovered the word phojo! What a great word. If you haven’t figured it out yet, it is short for ‘photography mojo’, or ‘photo mojo’. And when we have lost our phojo it can take months to rediscover it. Here are 5 easy ways to rediscover your phojo.

street art

Yo! Looking for your phojo? Join a photo walk and learn from other photographers

1. Go on a photo walk. Not an aimless stroll on your own – actually go on a photo walk with other photographers to see something new. I recently joined a group here in Melbourne, Australia to discover and photograph the street art in a suburb called Windsor. (Images from that walk are shown in this post.) I found it was fun to meet new photographers and to learn from their point of view, and in this case I got inspiration from the street art we were seeing. There was a fantastic attention to detail shown in the artists work, and real impact with color.

street art

Looking to other artists can provide inspiration for a lost phojo

2. Buy a new lens. Buying a new lens helps you to see the world differently and discover new shots. If you’ve always shot studio portraits, go out and get a 400mm lens and aim it at some wildlife. There is a whole new world out there waiting for you. (I can hear some people saying they can’t afford a new lens. Renting a lens is an acceptable alternative – so is borrowing one. But they are not nearly as much fun as buying a new one, and let’s face it, if I am ever going to get Canon and Nikon and Tamron and Sigma to sponsor Beyond Here, it won’t work if I am suggesting “borrow a second hand lens off Aunt Betty”). Go on, invest in some new glass.

3. Shoot new subjects. Sometimes to break out of a photo rut, we can do it ourselves by shooting something new. If your shooting weddings every weekend and getting tired of it, its time to try something new. Landscapes, studio portraits, macro in the backyard. It really doesn’t matter, just shoot something new.

Street Art

A new lens can provide a new perspective. Bring back the phojo.

4. Learn something new – take an online tutorial. We are all guilty of sticking with what we know and repeating it. If you find you have lost your phojo, it’s time to learn something new. One way I like to do this is to learn a new post processing skill. Search online, and put yourself through a free YouTube tutorial. Bring back the phojo by learning something new.

5. Take a break! Yes, radical I know! Sometimes we need to take a break to refresh and rejuvenate. It’s ok to put the camera down for a short time – just make sure that you tell yourself its temporary. And when the phojo returns, make up for lost time and shoot, shoot, shoot. Take a break now, shoot like a madman later.

Thanks very much for taking the time to read 5 easy ways to rediscover your phojo. And if you are from Canon, Nikon, Tamron, or Sigma – do give me a call. Get in first, sponsor Beyond Here and this cool community of photographers!

Street Art

Shooting new subjects can reinvigorate us and bring back the inspiration

Patience and Timing

Bolte Bridge

Melbourne Sunset. Looking out over Bolte Bridge. 8.41pm.

I had the good luck to be in the city in Melbourne, Australia on Tuesday this week as this sunset unfolded. I was meeting a person at 9pm and had traveled into the city early. I was there at 8.15pm and had 45 minutes to occupy myself before the meeting. I had taken my camera with the expectation of being able to do a short shoot and adding to my stock portfolio. The sunset which unfolded took most of my attention and my breath away. It reminded me of the importance of patience and timing.

When I first arrived the sun was going down. There were plenty of light clouds around, but very little color in the sky. I was having a relaxing walk around the Docklands area, unaware of the spectacular sunset which was about to unfold.

For most of the next 20 minutes there was little to get excited about, although there was slightly more color in the sky. Then over a brief 9 minute window I took the 5 images you see in this post.

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge 8.32pm

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge 8.34pm

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge 8.36pm

Bolte Bridge

Bolte Bridge 8.40pm
















At 8.32pm there was still very little color to be seen. I had positioned myself at the city end of Docklands looking out towards the Bolte Bridge and the setting sun. I considered leaving as I had a 20 minute walk to my appointment. I am glad I stayed, as over the next few minutes you can see the change in color in the sky, culminating in a vivid orange and purple skyline in the vertical image here shot at 8.40pm and the horizontal one at the top of this post shot at 8.41pm.

It was a good lesson in patience and timing. Landscape photographers who shoot at sunrise and sunset know this lesson well. It is worth being in position early and then being patient. Sometimes you get a spectacular scene like this and sometimes you don’t – but nothing is more frustrating than packing your gear into the car and realizing you missed a great opportunity. The lesson on patience and timing also applies to other types of photography. I shoot weddings and family portraits and there is often a split second between a great image and a bride with her eyes shut looking terrible.

It seems ironic – talking about patience and timing – that I had to run to make it to my 9pm appointment. I arrived hot and sweaty, but on time and with a series of sunset images!

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

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.