Category Archives: iPhoneography

Rule #1 of Photography

We all have heard various rules of photography such as don’t shoot into the sun, compose on the thirds, watch for distracting background elements etc. However, I think the first rule of photography should be :


After fishing rivers around the Lake Taupo district, my mate Roy and myself stayed a couple of extra days to explore around Rotorua.  During the day we checked out various tourist spots. The distinctive Hydrogen Sulpide smell certainly takes a bit to get used to. However the geothermal activity is just astounding!! Apart from the tourist spots where you can see geysers, bubbling mud and multi-coloured pools there are so many spots around Rotorua where the lake edge is bubbling and steam is venting in parks and even out of the gutter where roadworks are being carried out!

At night we tried our luck for trout in Lake Rotorua. It is reported that the lake has one of the highest populations of trout in New Zealand. Apparently in summer the water temperature often gets to warm for the trout so they seek respite in the cooler currents of spring-fed streams that empty into the lake. Advice from the local tackle store said that you would need to wade out some 100-200m from shore. Even here the fish are able to take advantage of the subtle temperature changes. I thought that carrying a backpack that far out into the water then trying to wrestle with a rod a camera and a flash would be a recipe for disaster…

As we left the unit at the caravan park I joke to Roy about leaving the camera behind would almost guarantee that we would catch a big fish. When we arrived at the stream mouth there were about half a dozen other locals, all lined up fishing a largish pool that marked the junction of the stream and the lake. There were also considerable numbers of sizable fish jumping, just to add to the excitement.

It certainly is a different fly fishing experience to cast smelt (baitfish) patterns in the dark. After losing a few fish Roy lands a very respectable brown. I am not sure why, but I keep losing fish by snapping my leader. Each time you curse because you have snagged the bottom, but then the bottom suddenly takes off. These are very hefty fish indeed!

Finally I stay connect to a very solid fish. Roy tells me to hurry up and land it, but at this point it is still stripping line off at an alarming rate. A local offers to help land the fish, as neither of us has a net. The fish is huge and almost does not fit in the net. In old terms it is 12lb – a double-figure fish. Generally a fish this big is regarded as  a “trophy fish” and you get it taxidermied and hang it on your wall. However, I have no intention of killing such a fine fish and the only thing I would like to hang on my wall is a great photo.

Dang – No DSLR!

Luckily I have my iPhone, so at least a get a “record” shot, but not a great shot.

We end up having a brilliant session, with several monsters lost and some “smaller” 4lbers landed

Ah well – I guess next time I will have my good camera with me…

Mark’s personal best – a 12lb brown trout

Roy’s 7lb brown trout


Lunch Interrupted

I was going on a walk  around a local park that has a nice lake in the middle. I often walk in the bush from this starting point (see my earlier Waratah post). I had not gone ten paces when I suddenly saw a rather large red-bellied black snake next to the track. After my initial shock, I stepped back and watched. After a long cold spell having  much warmer spring weather it is not surprising that snakes are becoming active.

However, what did surprise me was that it had just caught a big frog and was only part way trying to swallow it!. It is amazing how snakes can dislocate their lower jaw and swallow prey that is in fact larger than themselves…

I have had a long fascination with snakes and lizards so could not help but admire such a lovely creature. I know many will not agree. Yes we have deep fears of snakes and sharks, but statistically we are far more likely to be injured commuting to work or going to buy groceries.

Disclaimer! – I do not recommend trying to photograph snakes with an iPhone.


Snake having lunch comprising of a big frog

Compare size of frog to size of snakes head – do not try to be this close!


iPhone As A Visual Diary

I was walking in bushland not far from my home the other day and noticed some Waratahs starting to flower. These are a couple of quick “grab shots” that I have processed in Snapseed. I often find now  that I am using my iPhone as a sort of visual diary. I can quickly try out ideas for images. Why don’t I just shoot it with a regular camera first – I hear you ask?. Well two reasons. When I went for a walk it was the middle of the day and quite harsh light even under the trees. The other important consideration was that it was extremely windy. With my “regular” camera I would have simply struggled to get the shot.

I am not too worried, I got some ideas to work on and I am sure there are other ideas bouncing around somewhere on the “back processor”. Also, I have started keeping a visual diary as part of my TAFE visual arts course (ie paper, not digital.) I have never kept a visual diary before, but I find that creating quick images on the iPhone as well as sketching ideas in my visual diary get me thinking more like an artist, not a photographer.

So next time I go to photograph some Waratahs, I will have had some practice, and “practice makes perfect!”


Cloud Abstracts – Part 1

I love clouds. Working out in the garden was hard, as every time I looked up the approaching weather front had some absolutely stunning cloud formations. I used Snapseed to “tweak” these images a little.

  1. add drama
  2. add detail
  3. crop if required
  4. increase saturation
  5. alter colour balance

In between  these “test shots” I also shot a heap of images on my “proper” camera as well. I will process and post these in due course…

Cloud Abstract ICloud Abstract IICloud Abstract IIICloud Abstract IVCloud Abstract VCloud Abstract VICloud Abstract VII

Red Centre Adventures in Black and White

I recently joined a “Adventures in Oz” photo expedition to Central Australia. The “Red Centre” is aptly named – the red rocks and sand permeate every part of the landscape. Even just spending a short time there it gets in everything, your shoes, your camera bag under your nails. Red does dominate, but is subdued in the harsh daylight. However, in low light at either end of the day, the hues and tones are of a truly beautiful. The landscape is spectacular with a rich palette of colours.
When travelling the vast distances between campsites and shooting locations there were numerous opportunities to make images despite the glare and harsh light. This is a hard country. The landscape is hard, tough and sharp.

I have chosen various Black and White treatments using Snapseed which I feel suit the images. Dont worry, I am also working on a coloured set of images too – these will be in a future post. These images feature my three favourite subjects: clouds, rocks and trees – I hope you enjoy.

Cloudscape I

Cloudscape II

Cloudscape III

Desert Oak V

Desert Oak Grove

Desert Oak VI

Cloudscape VII

Cloudscape VIII

Cloudscape IX

Desert Oak X

Cloudscape XI


King’s Canyon



What Is Wabi Sabi and Why Is It On My Photos Not My Sushi?

I had never heard of the term Wabi Sabi until recently.  There are lots of varying definitions but most centre on the Japanese philosophy of the beauty in things imperfect, impermanent, incomplete, modest, humble and unconventional. In fact part of the definition is that there is no definitive description! If this sounds all a bit too “high brow” then think about the alternate definition: “If a bunch of photographers suddenly take an interest in your hay barn, its probably time to pull it down…”

I hope the following images convey a sense of Wabi Sabi. They were all shot on an iPhone and edited using my favourite app “Snapseed”.

Dried Flower Study #1

Dried Flower Study #2

Dried Flower Study #3

Joadja is a ghost town, it was formally a centre for mining and processing of shale to produce kerosene. The operation lasted from 1870 until 1911. Apart from the mines, retorts and refinery there were orchards, school and cemetery. It is located near Mittagong in the Southern Highlands, New South Wales, Australia.

Many of the buildings are in ruins,but with a bit of imagination and reference to some of the old photos on display, you get a really good sense of the past. Naturally it is a photographers paradise (as per the Wabi Sabi reference to the hay barn above).

Refinery Ruins


Retort Remnants #1

Retort Remnants #2

Stem Against Rusty Tank

Header Tank

Roll the Dice

Rusty Flange