Australia's Natural Beauties

Coming back to Australia from the US by myself has resulted in a period of adjustment while I get used to things. Besides feeling as though I left a significant part of myself back in the US, I have been dealing with a serious case of procrastination!  These photos are already almost two weeks old!20140802_132831

Upon returning to Aus, I went back to my hometown for some family/friend time and to get back into my Aussie groove I took a little stroll through the bush.

The varied weather winters here in Victoria are quite beautiful! The combination of lots of rain and days of sunshine has turned everything a beautiful lush green.

I was surprised to see so many flowers and different types of moss growing. It's amazing what you can discover when you actually stop and take a look around you.

I got my macro lens out and snooped though the undergrowth like a moss detective.

Here's some of the plants, moss and flowers I discovered on my walk.

20140802_133012 20140802_135109 20140802_131327 20140802_132507 Where the discoveries were made. 20140802_125650These photo's were taken with my Samsung Glalxy SII with my Photojojo Macro lens.

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Photo of the Day: San Francisco

Today is my final day in the US, and today's post comes to you from the San Francisco Airport.  Yesterday I had the most awesome farewell day with Kyle, and we finally made it to the Golden Gate bridge!

After an amazing lunch with some equally awesome people we took a short ferry cruise across the bay and then hiked up to have a proper look at the famous bridge.

It was worth it. hdr_00133_0

Ciao for now USA, I will be back with more once I am back in Aus!

What I Learnt: 30 Days of Smartphone Photography Day 30

Over the last 5 weeks I challenged myself to 30 Days of Smartphone Photography in and around Portland. Although I missed a few days due to travel commitments, I have made it to Day 30. IMG_2129

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit, and I really do feel like photography every day and A Post A Day is normal now.

Although I still feel like I have a long way to go, practicing everyday really has made a huge difference in my confidence and understanding of photography.

Here's 5 things that I learned over the last 5 weeks about Smartphone PhotographyIMG_1758

1. Read instruction booklets first

In my excitement of receiving my new Photojojo lenses I skipped the instruction booklets for the Wide/Macro lens and consequently didn't realise that the lens comes in two parts. I was getting severely frustrated that I couldn't capture macro shots like the ones I'd seen captured by other people.

Eventually (2 weeks after getting the lenses) I decided I'd look online to try to find a better macro lens. In my search I discovered that the lens I already had unscrews into two parts!

No wonder it wasn't working!

So, now when I buy a new piece of equipment I check the instructions first.

2. Be prepared

This is still something I am getting used to. No matter where you are going be prepared. Your smartphone is usually close at hand, but remember to take your extra lens and a tripod (or use a stable surface) so you don't miss a great shot.

Using your tripod is especially important when you use Apps like ProHDR, which in order to get a great shot requires your camera to be completely still.

While I always have my smartphone and/or DSLR on me, I have missed opportunities for awesome photos because I left some of my equipment at home.20140709_171807

3. Photography requires patience

When I finally figured out that my Photojojo lens came in two parts and I realized I could get some cool macro shots I spent over two hours playing around with it before I got a clear shot of a fly on a strawberry leaf.

With the macro lens you have to be so close to your subject, and then the magnification causes any movement whatsoever to blur. It was hot out in the sun but I took photos of flowers and dog noses and grass and vegetables to get used to the lens.

You might get frustrated, but ultimately it's so satisfying when you get the shot just right.

The same goes for any form of photography.

Sitting and waiting for the right light at sunset.

Hoping for the right moment when the bird you are trying to capture lands exactly where you want it to.

Sitting uncomfortably hoping the flittery fly will stop on a strawberry leaf right in front of your camera.

I feel that I am getting to the point where I love this process. I don't mind waiting for the right moment because it makes it so much better when I capture the moment I have been waiting for.hdr_00109_0

4. Go back to the same places

Sometime I think I have captured the most amazing photo, and then I get home and open it up on my computer and it looks all wrong. I realise that I have cropped the image too much, or a different angle would have been much better.

Seeing a photo on your small smartphone screen looks very different to seeing it on your computer.

Apart from when you're only in a location for one day, there's no reason why you can't go back and shoot the same location again. Try it at a different time of day, or in different weather.

Shooting the same thing in different conditions has really helps me to understand what works best in different situations.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice

The only way you are going to feel more confident in your skills as a photographer is by practicing.

Practice everyday, even if that means taking a walk to snap just one photo on your lunch break. You don't have to go to exotic locations to practice your skills.

Practice photographing the ordinary to find your own style and make it extraordinary.

 

I am in Oakland for the next two weeks, and yesterday discovered that there are Hummingbirds in the garden! Capturing one of these speedy birds is my challenge this week.

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Photo of The Day: Macro

30 Days of Smartphone Photography Day 29

While exploring the Oregon Zoo in Portland I took some extra time to practice my Photojojo Macro skills. 

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Besides the incredible animals, the Zoo also had beautiful flowers everywhere and here's the tiny petals  of one of them.This flower was about the size of a Australian 10 cent coin or US Quarter.

Remember with Macro shots that you need to hold your camera super still to avoid blurry photos. Because it's so magnified any amount of movement will show up.

Use both hands to hold your camera and practice slow steady breathing to help avoid sudden movements.

If you have one, it really helps if you use a tripod,  rest your elbows on a hard surface, or even just rest your phone camera on a surface as close as possible to the object you're trying to capture.

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The 5 Best Android Camera Apps

30 Days of Smartphone Photography Day 28

Most smartphone's have great inbuilt cameras, but if you want your photos to really stand out there are hundreds of apps which can help you capture and create beautiful images.

The problem is deciding on which ones to use. If you look up the best camera apps you will get pages and pages of recommendations.

Rather than listing out 50 apps which you could try, here's 5 apps which I actually use and like on my Android smartphone.

1. ProHDR Camera $1.99

While your in-built camera can capture great photos at one exposure level, ProHDR Camera combines 3 separate photos taken at different exposures to create beautiful vibrant images. This app is awesome for situations when either the background is too bright, or there is too much shadow in the foreground.

Use this app to capture the most amount of colour in your images and bring out detail in overly bright or shadowed areas.

20140624_205609

hdr_00053_0

hdr_00048_02. CameraZOOM FX $2.99 for Premium or Free Lite Version

CameraZOOM FX has all the features of your regular camera app with added bonuses to help make taking beautiful photos so much easier. With controls like touch to focus/shoot, white balance, timer and burst modes and nightshot mode, CameraZOOM gives you the extras you need for awesome shots.

Use this app in place of your built in camera for greater creative control. CameraZOOM-20140712164215043

3. Pixlr Express FREE

Pixlr Express gives you everything you need to quickly edit a photo to make it really stand out. You can make minor adjustments, or you can add filters, borders, text and stickers to create an image with a message.Screenshot_2014-07-12-14-41-46

Here's some of the awesome features of this app:

• Explore the tools: easily adjust the contrast and brightness of your image, or focus on one color with the color splash tool
• Easily crop, rotate and adjust images when saving and sharing. 
• Choose from four pre-defined dimensions (or input your own custom dimensions) for fast and flexible image resizing after editing. 
• Create and customize a photo collage by editing its layout, background, and spacing. 
• Share your photo directly with friends through Facebook or email, or just save it back to your photo library.
• ‘Auto Fix’ photos for a one-click fix to balance out colors, adjusting for poor lighting conditions.
• Explore the growing catalog of additional effects, overlays, and border packs.
• Look like a pro with cool photo effects such as focal blur, denoise, and more. 

Use this app for post editing to bring colour out or to completely change your image.20140709_195059

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4. Dropbox Free

I have talked about Dropbox before hereDropbox is a free service for securely storing and sharing photo’s, videos and documents online. The Dropbox app means you can access the service on any device. I find Dropbox most useful when I want to quickly access photo’s from my phone (Android) on my iPad, or when I want to share photo’s and documents without having to email or use a USB.

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5. PhotoGrid Free

Make collages quickly and easily with this app to create interesting images which tell a story. If you like using Instagram, use Photogrid to make your photos stand out and capture the attention of your followers.

Screenshot_2014-07-12-14-44-13PhotoGrid_1405203724307[1] There you go! 5 Apps to help you capture and create beautiful eye capturing images.

While my phone camera is awesome as is, it often doesn't capture what my eyes see, so basically all my photos taken with my phone have some touch ups done before I share them.

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