Jungle life

I live in a jungle. Well, no, I don’t; I live in the largest city in Australia. But my apartment faces what seems like a jungle, with three massive old trees crowded together like commuters in a rush-hour train. The one closest to me is a gum tree (eucalypt), at which I generally curse because it blocks my view. Sometimes, though, it has a beauty even I can’t deny, especially when rendered in black and white for Cee’s most recent challenge.

Sunrise on a foggy winter morning.

Sunrise on a foggy winter morning.

New growth. I took this photo this morning, specifically for this challenge.

New growth. I took this photo this morning, specifically for this challenge.

Strictly no cameras

Last evening I attended the concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House. The ticket declared “Strictly no cameras or recording devices”, so with reluctance I left my trusty camera at home.

Shuffling along in the bag check line, I congratulated myself on my wisdom. Those burly security guards would, I was sure, take grim pleasure in confiscating my Canon. However, when it transpired that the bag check consisted of nothing more than a cursory glance at the top of my rucksack, virtue turned to regret. I could easily have tucked a camera much bigger than mine in there, and no one would have noticed. Regret turned to anger once the event began: from the opening notes of the didgeridoo (part of a stunning ‘Welcome to country’ ceremony by the Traditional Owners) and the first dance steps by members of the Aboriginal dance troops, cameras and phones all around me recorded each moment of the entire evening.

It appeared that I was the only schmuck following the rules.

And what images I lost! I have attended other concerts held outside on the opera house’s forecourt, and no doubt will again, but this celebration of our beloved, iconic building will not happen again (well, not until the 50th anniversary rolls around, and who knows where I’ll be then?).

And yet …

There was something curiously liberating in not having a camera. I was freed from the compulsion to record the moment, able to simply let the music and the evening light wash over me, to revel in their inherent transience. The true nature of special moments can no more be captured in pixels than the tension in those notes in the build-up in the fourth movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, which closed the evening, can be captured in sound. I’ve attended more performances of this work than I can recall, but my hair still stands on end when 100 powerful voices burst forth with “Freude, schöner Götterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium” (Joy, beautiful spark of the divinity, Daughter of Elysium).

There are some things in life that you must simply experience.

Mind you, when the fireworks exploded low in the sky behind the opera house, and I was standing in the most perfect spot for a shot, I thought, “Sod the transience of the moment, I want my camera!”

(The image below is a screen grab from the ABC News website. Click the link to see a larger image.)

Rock on

“What are men to rocks and mountains?”
The quotation that introduces my entry in this week’s Travel Theme: Stone challenge is courtesy of Jane Austen (‘Pride and Prejudice’). Heaven knows, there’s nothing like a mountain to put you in your place.

The North Face of the Eiger, Switzerland.

The North Face of the Eiger, Switzerland.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Wadi Rum, Jordan.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Wadi Rum, Jordan.

The Three Sisters, Katoomba, Australia.

The Three Sisters, Katoomba, Australia.

Rock bridge, Sao Lourenco, Madeira.

Rock bridge, Sao Lourenco, Madeira.

Eroded by wind, used for target practice by Napolean and roosted upon by pigeons, the Sphinx is battered but remains enigmatic. (Cairo, Egypt)

Eroded by wind, used for target practice by Napolean and roosted upon by pigeons, the Sphinx is battered but remains enigmatic. (Cairo, Egypt)

The $10 photo

Inspired by the stunning coastal evening/sunset photos that Lignum Draco has posted recently, after work this evening I walked down to the cliffs along the ocean. The evening was warm and the rocks still carried the heat of the day’s sun. A cruise liner leaving Sydney glittered white against the darkening sky as it emerged from behind the bulk of Ben Buckler at the north end of Bondi Beach. There are worse ways to wind down after a stressful day at work! However, the sunset in that direction just wasn’t happening, so I walked down to Clovelly.

Looking south from Clovelly, with the lights of Coogee and Maroubra in the distance.

Looking south from Clovelly, with the lights of Coogee and Maroubra in the distance. (Click for larger image)

And if you’re wondering why I titled this “The $10 photo” … as I turned away from the water, I pulled my camera case from the pocket of my shorts, and heard the faint sound of something falling to the ground. Yes, it was the $10 I had stuffed into that pocket. There was barely enough light to see where to step on the uneven clifftops, and a strong wind, so I had no hope of finding that tenner. Ah well, the evening was worth it! 🙂

Up close and personal

Cee has set a great black and white challenge this time: macros. I love the way a photo changes when I zoom way, way in, and the way it changes when I switch from colour to black and white.

A cliffside garden near Bondi Beach.

A cliffside garden near Bondi Beach.

The image above was inspired by the shallow focus photos of Elina over at Capturing Little Moments. One of the great things about blogging, I’ve found, is that it has exposed me to new ways of taking photographs. It’s also made me realise that I need a better camera! (To see the non-macro, colour version of this image, click here. The plant I zoomed on is outlined in yellow.)

Chocolate! Sparkling wine! Together at last!

Chocolate! Sparkling wine! Together at last!

A meal and a drink, all in one! You get a better idea of how much fun this is in this video (colour).
Yes, I know, I’m easily amused. 🙂

Between the sea and the land …

… lies the shore. Ed’s Sunday Stills Challenge this week is Shorelines. This is one of my favourite things to photograph — I love the play of light on water, and the reflections in wet sand. You’ll be glad to know that I’ve settled for just one photo!

South Padre Island, Texas.

South Padre Island, Texas.