Sydney Summer Sunrise

Early morning was idyllic. It was the perfect summer day in Sydney: empty blue skies, low humidity, gentle ocean breezes, and birds thronging in the trees. It’s the time of year when the sun rises from the ocean directly in front of my apartment building, rather than behind the building to the right (high summer) or behind the houses and trees to the left (deep winter).
It was the kind of morning that heralds a day filled with possibility. A day that draws you to the beach, or a bushwalk in one of many national parks that fringe our stunning harbour. Perhaps a long, lazy lunch with friends at a favourite eatery.
Or, in my case, eight hours in a shiny-sided office tower in the Central Business District. 😦
Here is a shot of this morning’s sunrise. The first photo is the original, and the others are the same photo but with various Photoshop wizardry applied. Do you have a favourite?

The original, which the camera on Intelligent Auto rendered as a silhouette.

The original, which the camera on Intelligent Auto rendered as a silhouette.

With a warming filter applied and the light bumped up.

With a warming filter applied and the light bumped up.

With an HDR (high dynamic range) filter applied. I learned about this just yesterday. Not something I'd do a lot of, but it's an interesting effect!

With an HDR (high dynamic range) filter applied. I learned about this just yesterday. Not something I’d do a lot of, but it’s an interesting effect!

Black and white, with some light added to the shadows.

Black and white, with some light added to the shadows.

Three by Three

The current theme for Weekly Photo Challenge is Threes, i.e., telling a story in three photos. I couldn’t decide which set of threes to go for, so have opted for three threes. Too much of a good thing?

(click any image to expand a gallery)

Fun in the sun at Bondi Beach

Elephants in Sri Lanka
(this trio was prompted by a recent exchange of comments about endangered animals with HeyJude on my post Urban Safari)

Blogging is thirsty work!

(The photo of the final drink was used on the cover of my short story ‘The Perfect Chocolate Martini‘.)

Travel Album: South Padre Island (Texas)

Gone fishin’

On one of the few sunny days during my Christmas visit to south Texas, we went to South Padre Island to fish. People tend to imagine Texas as all cattle and oil wells, not thinking of that long coastline that curves along the Gulf of Mexico. For Travel Photo Mondays (sorry, I’m a couple of days late), here, perhaps, is a new slant on Texas.

I am not a morning person: the only time I tend to see a sunrise is when I'm on the 4am-8am watch while sailing. But even I could appreciate the beauty of the sun emerging from a low bank of clouds and illuminating the still waters of the bay.

I am not a morning person; the only time I tend to see a sunrise is when I’m on the 4am-8am watch while sailing. But even I could appreciate the beauty of the sun emerging from a low bank of clouds and illuminating the still waters of the bay.

To most people, South Padre Island means condos, beaches and Spring Break mayhem. Seen from the causeway, the high rise hotels stand sentinel in the early morning light.

To most people, South Padre Island means condos, beaches and Spring Break mayhem. Seen from the causeway, the high rise hotels stand like sentinels in the early morning light.

Even the dogs had fun!

Even the dogs had fun!

Portuguese Man of War jellyfish. I was stung by one of these in Durban, and took my revenge on the entire species by propping this one up in the sun to photograph it.

Portuguese Man of War jellyfish. I was stung by one of these in Durban, and took my revenge on the entire species by propping this one up in the sun to photograph it.

Another Portuguese Man of War, looking rather pretty and oh-so innocent.

Another Portuguese Man of War, looking rather pretty and oh-so innocent.

Heading into the surf to do battle with the waves.

Heading into the surf to do battle with the waves.

Focus on fishing (well, the rod and reel, anyway).

Focus on fishing (well, the rod and reel, anyway).

They also serve who only stand and wait.

They also serve who only stand and wait.

Got one! Alas, it was only a huge wodge of seaweed.

Got one! Alas, it was only a huge wodge of seaweed.

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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! 🙂

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

This challenge is a paradox for me in that it is easy, but hard! Easy, because to me, the sea means only thing: tall ship sailing. Hard, because I have so many sailing photos to choose from! A sea that is placid, reflective, azure against a cerulean sky; or a sea that is angry and threatening, invigorating yet terrifying at the same time? I’ve gone for somewhere between the two. We were in a Force 8 (ie, with winds of 40 knots and waves about 6 metres high) when I took this photo (it reached Force 10 a few hours later). Every time we rolled to leeward, water rushed onto the deck through the scuppers and over the rail. (The rail, by the way, is normally about 4 metres above the sea.)

Tenacious, mid-Atlantic, Force 8.

Tenacious, mid-Atlantic, Force 8.

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Take a walk with me: Coogee to Maroubra

This, my friends, is a glorious day. A flawless blue-sky day, with warm gentle breezes and temperatures of 23deg Celsius (73 deg Farenheit). A day to revel in! I can hear you Northern Hemisphere dwellers muttering, “In August? Big deal.” But let me remind you that I live in Sydney (the one in Australia), where it is deepest, darkest winter right now. Three days ago, the temperature didn’t get above 12deg C (54deg F) and it rained for more than 24 hours straight. But today … ah, today is the sort of day that makes people line up to take out Australian citizenship. And it’s the weekend!

So, come walk with me, along the coast from Coogee to Maroubra.

Coogee is blessed with three rockpools, swimming pools fed by the sea and carved from the natural sandstone that forms the cliffs along this coast.

Coogee is blessed with three rockpools, swimming pools fed by the sea and carved from the natural sandstone that forms the cliffs along this coastline.

Keep an eye on the waves if you don’t want to get drenched!

Keep an eye on the waves if you don’t want to get drenched!

Succulents with bright flowers grow along these inhospitable cliff-side paths.

Succulents with bright flowers grow along these inhospitable cliff-side paths.

Look back on our path: Coogee Beach in the distance and, below us, the third of Coogee’s rockpools.

Look back on our path: Coogee Beach in the distance and, below us, the third of Coogee’s rockpools.

Look down to the sea, and you may spot cormorants basking in the sun.

Look down to the sea, and you may spot cormorants basking in the sun.

Look to the side, where cactus spines glow, backlit by the sun.

Look to the side, where cactus spines glow, backlit by the sun.

Another rockpool, just right for dogs.

Another rockpool, just right for dogs.

Water pours from the top of the cliff.

Water pours from the top of the cliff.

If you know what these crazy plants are called, please leave a comment and tell me!

If you know what these crazy plants are called, please leave a comment and tell me!

The perfect balcony for a watery Juliet. Though Romeo would have to be a very good swimmer!

The perfect balcony for a watery Juliet. Though Romeo would have to be a very good swimmer!

A tantalising glimpse into a hidden world.

A tantalising glimpse into a hidden world.


At Lurline Bay, let’s rest a while on the sun-warmed rocks and watch the waves.
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Wind and water turn sandstone into sculpture.

Wind and water turn sandstone into sculpture.

Our path beckons.

Our path beckons.

Not far from the end of our walk, and this is the perfect spot for a swim. Be warned, though: that water is cold!

Not far from the end of our walk, and this is the perfect spot for a swim. Be warned, though: that water is cold!

Our walk ends at Maroubra Beach, where children have found a new way of playing with a Rubik’s cube.

Our walk ends at Maroubra Beach, where children have found a new use for a Rubik’s cube.

If you like this post, you may want to check out a similar post about
Bronte Beach in winter.

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Bronte Beach in winter

“Winter in Sydney is like summer in London, but without the rain.” I remember reading that somewhere before I moved from London to Sydney (for the first time) in 1999. Okay, it’s an exaggeration, but on a winter’s day such as this one, with cloudless skies and temps of 20deg Celsius, it’s hard to argue!

One of my favourite things to do on a day like this is walk by the ocean. I live only a 10-minute walk from Bronte Beach, so it’s often where I start off.

empty life guard station

An empty life guard station.

The walk from home to beach takes me along Bronte Gully, a small slice of regenerated wilderness following the path of a stream down the hill to the beach. In summer, it’s a cool, shady respite from the heat.

Bronte Gully

Bronte Gully – the pond above the waterfall.

Bronte Gully - the waterfall.

Bronte Gully – the waterfall.

Surfers and swimmers must share the beach with seagulls.

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Seagulls on the edge of the shallow pool formed by rocks.

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The seagulls don’t seem very bothered by the surf breaking behind them.

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I love the simple contrasts of blue, green and white in this photo.

At the south end of the beach is the swimming pool, washed by the waves. Walking along the shore to the swimming pool, you’ll find rock pools, their trapped waters reflecting everything around them.

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Trapped water reflects sky and rocks.

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Striated rocks below the edge of the swimming pool.

The swimming pool looks out to the ocean, and on days with less calm waters the waves crash over the sides and onto the swimmers.

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An infinity of water, in the pool and in the ocean.

And, of course, Bronte is one of Sydney’s prime surfing spots.

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Surfers in their wet suits look like seals bobbing in the passing swells.