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2016 My Photo Year That Was

Always hard to look back on the year and summarise everything that happened photographically. Some people do a sort of location centric list (all those fab countries they visited), others more about their professional or award achievements (assuming they pay to enter all those competitions, which I don’t!) and others just show what they think are their best shots. Although I was shooting in UK, Spain, USA and Australia (of course – Vic, SA, ACT, NSW) I think I will just have to do a simple chronology that captures other things like exhibitions and my workshops, focusing on shots that perhaps show my photographic evolution over the year, or captured a particular phase of it. In any event showing only a handful of shots is gonna be hard. Off we go.

January & February

Alongside running start of year workshops including as Intro to Landscape Photography, Waterfalls and Astrophotography I started as I do every new year, exploring lesser know regions of the northern Grose Valley, plus I had some wonderful misty sunburst mornings locally and began a long series of high resolution 360 Photos of the Blue Mountains – here is a page on this site with a growing selection. This is of course alongside the usual daily sunrises and sunsets in the greater Blue Mountains area. 

Dawn on New Years Day 2016 at my local rock

Pumping Waterfalls in early January

Danielle and Nik catch some rays on my Intro to Landscape Photography Workshop

Speaking of Rays – had some amazing mornings of forest light close to home

March & April


Malaita Point

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Malaita Point 1280px

 

ABOUT: A varied lookout off cliff drive with a view across the Jamision Valley with the Three Sisters on the left, Mount Solitary in centre and Narrow Neck to the right, one of the few lookouts with this triptych. A few spots to explore. A nice rocky area with a bench at the top with nice foreground tree views, further down a railed area with good valley views, but my favourite is to skirt around the rail on the left out to a more exposed rock with clearer views. Great for all day views but comes alive at sunset more than sunrise as the three cliff features light up red.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A very high top part to these falls which means some distortion with ultra wide angle lenses. You could consider doing a vertical panorama stitch, meaning take landscape format images going up in stages and stitching them later, and adjusting the keystone effect. But a 16mm portrait format will capture them from head to toe, so to speak. It can get splashy here so a cloth before every shot worthwhile and of course a tripod for smoothe 1/5s to 3s shutters.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Simply follow Cliff Drive after you pass the Scenic World main entrance – after 100m you will pass Eagle Hawk lookout and on the next bend park on the big clearing on the right and walk through the gap in the barrier on the left out to the viewpoint – only 60m or so. The marker below takes you to Eagle Hawk LO first.


Veras Grotto Falls ~ Grade 3

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Veras Grotto Falls Katoomba

ABOUT: During heavy rain these falls come alive and are similar in shape to the falls on the same system, namely Witches Leap, about 100m above them. A single thin drop hits a bell like bottom section and is visually interesting. The access for shots is limited off a small platform, but you can walk to the left and down a short steep slope to get rid of unwanted foliage in the way.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A very high top part to these falls which means some distortion with ultra wide angle lenses. You could consider doing a vertical panorama stitch, meaning take landscape format images going up in stages and stitching them later, and adjusting the keystone effect. But a 16mm portrait format will capture them from head to toe, so to speak. It can get splashy here so a cloth before every shot worthwhile and of course a tripod for smoothe 1/5s to 3s shutters.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: This is at the bottom end of the Furber Steps route from Katoomba Kiosk or Scenic World access points. Easiest is to park at free Scenic World car park then walk down the wooden boardway to the left of the main entrance, then turn right after 100m or so following the Furber Steps sign. These falls are after the step main stone Furber Steps section as a short 50m side walk. You can walk back up about 150m or down another 15 minutes and cheat and get the Cableway back up at Scenic World ($16 ish and last one at 4.50pm).


Centennial Glen – Grade 3

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Centennial Glen Blackheath

ABOUT: Centennial Glen is a deep gorge just on the western side of Blackheath. Above the actual gorge area is great for sunset shots out into the Megalong & Kanimbla Valley with a fantastic vertical cliffs each side. Descending into the gorge area is quite quick and there are some great cascades over orange rocks to the left (as you get to the main path) or if you don’t mind a bit of scrambling a lovely vertical drop waterfall (to the right) which is quite unique (you do need to take some waterproofs and suggest going with another person particularly in wet weather here. For sunsets up top there is a 10ft boulder on the path (just before it descends to the right) which I always climb up, on the left side, to get a good vantage into the open valley below.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: An ultra wide lens is recommended down in the gorge to capture the tight structures but on top at sunset a 24-35mm is OK, particularly to do panoramas across the scene. Of course a tripod for waterfalls and dark sunset blends, and a polarizer for the cascades to reduce reflections.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park at the end of Centennial Glen Rd as marked below and follow the trail downhill (it is marked with a map and times), not the route through the steel gate. It only takes about 20 mins to get to the lower part of the gorge where it gets quite tricky to continue down to Porters Pass areas, and only about 10 mins to the sunset spots at the top (best ones are after going around and down the first big rocky outcrop area.

Centennial Glen Falls

 

 

 


Mid Katoomba Falls – Grade 3

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Misty K Falls Pano

ABOUT: The mighty (in wet weather) Katoomba Falls is around 800ft or 250m high in three sections. There are various vantage points on the western escarpment under Scenic World but the best position is up close and personal with the top and middle sections. It is hard to get a good perspective correct shot of both sections from here as it is almost a 120 degree vertical sweep and you are only 10 meters from the main flow. The middle falls themselves are worth close ups using say a 50mm from the fence, but getting both will require a 14mm stitch. Go in wet weather when the mist and flow is good, summer midday not so good. There is also a classic panorama here sweeping to the view off to the right with Jamison Valley and Mount Solitary completing an amazing ledge vista. Also consider sunset when the last rays from the right make the area glow orange. Finally if you want reflections in the pool below the smaller section you can climb over the fence easily BUT stick to the left hand side as the drop on the right will mean certain death.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: You will be walking for about 35 minutes down and then back up so bring what you need only. Umbrella, sturdy tall tripod, and a mix of ultra wide and standard 50mm. Consider polarisers in dry weather and bring a lens cleaner as when windy the falls can dump a little on you.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: The quickest way down (approx 150m descent) is towards the Furber Steps. You can park free in Scenic World and walk down the wooden platform to the left of it and you will see the right route about 50m the boardwalk finishes. Keep following the signs to the Furber Steps (some step sections on metal stairs) past Vanimans, Juliets Balcony but don’t go as far as the steps themselves – then a sign saying ‘mid falls’ will be visible as a left turn. This walk is only about 10 minutes or so, there could be puddles to negotiate in heavy rain. An alternative route is by parking at Katoomba Kiosk and following the route past Witches Leap to Rainforest View and again pick up the route to Furber Steps and you will see the sign to the left again, about 10 mins walk again.

Mid Katoomba Falls-2

 


Govetts Leap – Sunrise Grade 1

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Govetts Leap Sunrise Wow

ABOUT: For those photographers who want probably the easiest but best vista lookouts, Govetts Leap will not dissapoint Best at sunrise when rays shoot from the mid right across the mist (often around) but through the day when partially cloudy and the valley cliffs glow red at sunset. Night photography also recommended. Lots of trails start here also.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: You can park a few meters from a long platform so bring heavy tripods for low light photograph. A moderate wide angle 28-35mm will give the most pleasing coverage, but ultra wides can get the right Bridal Veil waterfall plus the left high cliffs in one shot. Recommend the usual neutral density grads and a long telephoto for zooms down the left Grose Valley and distant hills.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park right next to the photo platform. Consider a short 5 minute walk down to one of the two lower platforms for less ‘touristy’ shots & a little more peace if midday.

Govetts Leap View, Blue Mountains


Victoria Falls – Grade 4

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 Victoria Falls NSW

ABOUT: Although the lookout is easy to get to, a drive and short walk, the falls themselves are 400m below you in the valley. The pretty cascades are about a 20ft drop but require you to do a little rock hopping and paddling to get a good angle, vs a straight on one from the end of a short tangential trail. The main 60ft falls are about 10 mins further down the creek (follow the Burra Korain campground signs) and you can access the top part with nice valley views or cycle back and down to get underneath them. The lower viewpoints after a little rain are well worth it as these are one of the few falls that have worn down to the bedrock in the valley and a big wide overhang allows you some nice side on views, behind fall views and straight on from the rocky creek below. Lots of valley looking up to escarpment shots on way down too.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A tripod to smooth the water and ideally a 16mm lens to get most of the scene in as the area is pretty enclosed. A medium telephoto to zoom in on parts of the falls too.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Follow Victoria Falls road to the main car park at the end and walk to the lookout. A trail leads off to the left and it will take about an hour to get to the falls – all signposted at the bottom. The first 15 mins are on some rocky zig zags but then you are on gentle forest zigzags down to the creek, and you can hear the falls get closer. Getting back you should pace yourself as the 400m ascent in 2km or so can be punishing in hot weather, good opp to take escarpment shots during plenty of breaks.


Sunset Rock – Sunset Grade 2

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Sunset Rock, Mount Victoria

ABOUT: One of the most visited lookouts on the western escarpment of Mount Victoria. A variety of rocky outcrops give a lot of variation looking down onto a cul de sac of the Kanimbla Valley and Victoria Pass on the right. It provides a great foreground when the sky is interesting throughout the day, but best in Golden hours. There are a few spots apart from the first rock platforms, a couple lower down and below the main rocks is a nice ledge and overhang.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A tripod and ultra to wide angle lenses area ideal plus a moderate graduated neutral density for the sky.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park on the open ground where Beaufort Av meets Grand View (there are no easy spots to park at the end of Beaufort). Walk down to end of Beaufort and take the obvious walking path to the left when you meet a private house gate. The rocks are only 2 minutes further on down a dirt trail followed by a short rocky bend.


To Post Process or not to Post Process, that is always the question

I belong to several photo forums and social groups on Facebook and other networks and faced daily with someone asking an always inflammatory question along the lines of “why should photographers in this group/forum be allowed to use photoshop to make their images look much nicer than my ‘true’ photograph that is straight out of the camera?” or the classic “photographers who use software are not real photographers, they are cheating”

Boars Process Description

There then follows 200-300 comments that fall into several camps:


A Landscape Photographers Guide to Australia’s Blue Mountains

Introduction

Inspired by other guides for photographers in well known areas of the world (eg: Colby Brown’s Yosemite) I thought I would put together a page / few screens that (a) demystifies the Blue Mountains for visiting photographers and (b) acts as a nice upfront, illustrated walkthrough to my more detailed location-by-location guide on this site. This ‘hotspot’ photo location list also details best gear to bring and best times etc:). The general tourist or hiking sites tend to not consider the ‘photogenic’ aspects of the mountains, even though many come for that, so this site is also a response to that.

For now though a broad sweep introduction to photographing Australia’s Blue Mountains – All text and images © Gary P Hayes 2017.

Print or Tablet friendly downloadable PDF version 1.8MB A Landscape Photographers Guide to Visiting the Blue Mountains, Australia

Magic sunrise from Govetts Leap Lookout

Magic sunrise from Govetts Leap Lookout

 


Cathedral Reserve, Ferns & Giant Tree – Grade 2

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Cathedral of Ferns Giant

ABOUT: For woodland photography this 30 minute walk through giant ferns and trees is worthwhile. The large Messmate tree was recently hit by lightning but is still an impressive site growing out of the fauna below, not quite Sequoia standard but close. The walks around the Cathedral Reserve are also worth exploring with large eucalyptus and gum pockets as well as colourful trees in the autumn.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A wide lens for capturing panoramas in the woods or looking up at the large trees but a standard lens is useful as well as a macro for details on the forest floor.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Follow the main road through Mount Wilson towards Mount Irvine or the Cathedral reserve signposts. Park in the reserve and look out for the Cathedral of Ferns signs. You will cross the road to get onto the main trail.


Rigby Hill – Sunset Grade 3

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 Rigby Hill Sunset 01

 

ABOUT: A great high spot on the northern edge of, and above the Grose Valley. Almost directly across from Perry’s Lookdown, and a few hundred meters from Walls Lookout. This offers views east and west and you can walk (be careful) down each side of the hill vs staying just at the top. Several sheer drop offs offer their own vistas too and it is best at sunset when the sky lights up on the right/centre depending on the time of year.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: For sunsets a grad ND and tripod essential along with a mix of ultra and medium wide angle lenses. The view left into the Evans/Govetts part of the Grose is good with a medium telephoto, perhaps 85mm or so.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: After you turn off Bells Line of Road at the Walls/Pierces pass car park, keep on the dirt road track until the lower car park, 2 minutes further. Park and take the left walk marked to Rigby Hill, approx: 25 minutes up and 15 back.


Lennox Bridge – Grade 1

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Lennox Bridge 10

ABOUT: Another popular spot with local photographers who perhaps need something beyond waterfalls, mist, cliffs, valleys, rivers etc: One of the few photogenic architectural heritage spots in the mountains Lennox Bridge – opened in 1833, is the oldest surviving stone arch bridge on the Australian mainland. The stone work offers great texture and the foliage and leading lines from the channel & small river either end, provide lots of angles.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A good wide angle is critical as the bridge is quite small and needs ‘opening out’. In bright sun you might want to consider a mild HDR, tripod and two or three shots to merge together. At night it is interesting too with tripod and a torch, as it still holds a main road you are not far from civilisation.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: An easy access car park, as per google location below right next to the bridge, steps down on the northern side of the bridge


Lithgow Blast Furnace Ruins – Grade 1

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  Lithgow Blast Furnace 12

 

ABOUT: A series of buildings very close to Lithgow town centre which are very popular with local photographers. There are quite a few emotive compositions available and as it is an exposed site the light changes dramatically. Sunset is best as the sky and back lighting is particularly good, but night and sunrise also possibles. The challenge is to try to take it from an original perspective, but worth 30-40 minutes if you are passing Lithgow.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Works best with lots of sky in shot, so consider an ultra wide with a tripod to blur the moving clouds. A 24mm is best for good upward looking shots and think about straigtening the verticals in post processing. A good grad for the sky and at night think about torches to light up long exposures.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: An easy access large car park, as per google location Blast Furnace Park, below.


Mount Hay – Sunset Grade 3

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Grose Valley Lightbeams from Mount Hay

ABOUT: Although a good 35 minutes drive down a 4WD track and then a 30 min walk Mount Hay offers a lot of photographic opportunities. The views east into the Grose Valley and river during late afternoon and sunset are second to none and the views north and south over some amazing crags are well worth exploring. If you are confident wait until last light as the path is reasonable to follow in dim light.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A neutral density graduated filter is critical as the skies are bright and the land often in mixed shadows, and an ultra wide at least 20mm to capture some amazing vistas. Panoramas are also well worth considering using 35-50mm and bring a headlamp torch if you are staying late.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Drive down to the very end of Mount Hay road, and park in the left upper car park. Follow the trail and take the right fork which you can easily see goes over to Mount Hay on the right of the car park. Follow the track up into the top crags for great views back down over the valleys. Not worth going to the top as it is forested.


Point Pilcher, Medlow Bath – Grade 1

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 Point Pilcher

 

ABOUT: A fenced lookout at the end of a 5 minute dirt road drive from Medlow Bath. It offers a side on view of what you get at Evan’s Lookout with a nice foliage foreground. As it is north facing you get the cliff faces being lit up by the morning and evening light but wouldn’t suggest going there in the middle of day hours. The viewpoints here are limited but the main composition is lovely as you can see in my image here. It is also a good point to get down onto the Grand Canyon trail below you.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A 35mm style lens will capture the basic shot but also a good panorama can be had as you are on a 120 degree view ridge. A medium telephoto will allow you to compress Mt Banks in the distance with the middle ground rocks too.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Drive down to the very end of Grand Canyon road (accessible from Medlow Bath on the right side of the Great Western Highway) and park. The main lookout is a few seconds away.


Narrowneck LO 0 – Grade 2

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Dogface and Jamison Valley

ABOUT: Probably the main and easiest lookout from Narrowneck down into the Jamison Valley and it provides a great view of Landslide cliff (aka Dogface) on the left with a distant Mt Solitary ahead and a sweeping Narrowneck ridge around from the right. Although with good clouds it is a slightly SE facing ridge and so sunrise is a good possible it is much better at sunset when Dogface glows red in the fading light, and with clouds around offers great potential.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A short walk so big tripod is possible, and ultra wides are best to get a view similar to the above shot, this is 17mm. Real potential for vertical panoramas using a 35 or 50mm and definitely worth bringing graduate neutral densities as the valley floor spends a lot of time in shadow during the golden hours.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Drive down Glenraphael Road for about 1 minute only, and park on the left next to the crash barrier, which is the 2nd small shoulder on the side of the road. The trail begins about in the middle of the barrier, just to the right of an upright, it can be easily seen. Hop over the barrier and walk downhill for about 5 mins, be careful of the edge at the end if going in darkness before sun up or after sundown. On the map below, Lookout 0 is not marked but it is more or less just below and opposite the marked Narrowneck lookout car loop.

South Katoomba Photographic Lookouts.jpg


Protected: Butterbox Point Above Canyon – Sunset Grade 3

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Capturing the Timelessness of Mungo Lake

Firstly excuses for not posting more often, I suppose the ‘doing’ often takes precedent over the talking or teaching about. For this post I thought I would cover more about the pre-planning or visualisation and then at the other end of the spectrum, thinking on your feet when on a ‘time limited’ shoot. Firstly though to set the scene, one of my shots from Mungo National Park a few weeks ago using my trusty Canon 5D3 and even trustier 17mm TSE lens.

Mungo Sunset XVI


A Primal Coastal Dawn at Bombo Quarry Kiama

You don’t get many dawns like this, an incredible photographic moment at a surreal basalt pillar headland north of Kiama on New South Wales Central Coast. This is Bombo Quarry.

This post is a little about my approach that morning, what was going through my mind as the scene developed and some detail on the location and technical elements. To set the scene here is one of the 80 plus long exposure shots I took using the Canon 5D3 and 17mm TSE lens.


Kanangra Walls & NP – Grade 3

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Kanangra Walls LO

ABOUT: Kanangra Boyd National Park is a surprising area of wilderness not far from the main valleys of the Blue Mountains but only accessible by a long loop drive via Jenolan Caves, or a few days walk across the valleys. It contains the deepest gorges, most unique geology and is much less frequented by photographers, for examples my images from 1st trip already top of Flickr in terms of interest. There are a few designated trails around the Kanangra Walls which can be explored in a couple of hours or you can spend a full day on the plateau or deep in the gorges with endless photo ops. The rest of Kanangra Boyd park within easy access around the 30km dirt track (Kanangra Rd) contains a lot of wildlife, forested sunlight and in wet periods some river photo opps, but most photo interest is around the gorges at the lookout.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Bring a full range of kit and moderate wides through to medium telephoto with tripods and graduate neutral density filters for the golden hours, very important. Because of the likelihood of extended walking suggest a medium sized camera bag and lightweight but solid tripod. The main lookout has a limited angle of view and appears on many photos, consider trying a different viewpoint, perhaps fisheye or a more vertical stitch, after you have your generic shots!

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: To get onto Kanangra Rd dirt track, drive towards and past Jenolan Caves or pick up the Edith Rd from Oberon and follow the signs. The google map ref is the actual lookout, and the last 30km dirt track drive is doable by most good suspension cars, beware of a few potholes though.


Positioning Sunrises – Landslide from Narrowneck

There is a real advantage in ‘really’ knowing a location. Knowing it so well you can look at the sky an hour before and pre-visualise the end result. This is the story behind this image.


Welcome to my photo blog

I have been trying to add a photography specific blog into this site for a while and not had enough time to do it justice. This is a quick introduction to what I hope to achieve with it.

First an embed of a recent photo as a test –


Blue and Jellybean Pools Glenbrook – Grade 2

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Glenbrook's Blue Pool

ABOUT: Although on the surface these two pools may seem best for family afternoon swims they do have a lot to offer a patient photographer. Early morning or late afternoon they are a serene environment and the still water offers great reflectivity of the sky and trees as well as clarity to see to the bottom. Blue Pool is more enclosed forest feel and Jellybean a longer more ‘creek & camyon’ feel. Both are really wide bends in Glenbrook Creek.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A mix of lenses to cover the relative expanses of water but also potential detail in the surroundings, including wildlife. Tripod for long exposures to smooth the ripples and a polariser very useful to remove reflection and see under the water.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: There is a fee system about to operate here because of demand in the warmer months and it is up to you whether to park at the top of the nature reserve area and walk down the road (an extra 30 mins walk, returning uphill) or pay $7 or so to park nearer to both pools. If you do drive down, both pools have parking areas and are about 4-8 mins walk to get to the areas. Blue Pool has more rocks to get to the best spots on the bend.


Glenbrooks Jellybean Pool


Bridal Veil Falls Leura – Grade 3

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 Bridal Veil Falls Leura

ABOUT: Bridal Veil falls come alive in strong rainfall and you can see where it gets it’s name from, when it spreads out across it’s wide base from a width of a few feet at the top. There are not too many angles available from the trail, but you can scramble a little up the left side for great side on shots with the cliffs in the background.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: The whole amphitheatre can be covered with a 14-15mm ultra wide lens and the very large falls (you are close to the bottom of them on the trail) can be covered with a 17mm or so. A tripod to soften the water flow of course and plenty of cloths to dry lenses as it can spray up if windy.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: A down then back up route from Leura Cascades makes most sense, unless you are doing the long loop out to Three Sisters which is a few km along the Prince Henry Cliff walk. From the car park follow the cascades, past the lookout above these falls and then down the many steps, walkways and rocks to the bottom.


Rocket Point over Wentworth Falls – Grade 2

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 Wentworth Falls from Rocket Point

ABOUT: This lookout gives the best full view of Wentworth Falls top section albeit from a downward looking angle. It also offers good views out into the Jamison to the left of the falls and is excellent on partially misty days with the mist swirling around the deep valley in front of you.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: It has a 3ft wall all around this lookout and not ideally suited to long tripods. I have found a collapsed tripod can be safely position on the thick wall, while keeping hold of it, for downward looking shots. A perspective correction or shift lens is ideal here, but you can do that later in software if required. A neutral density filter to block some light for smooth water.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Two routes. One from Tableland and one from main Wentworth Falls car park. The easiest one is the main falls car park, follow the trail over the stepping stones on top of the main falls. Just after these a trail leads up left towards Rocket Point. It is about a 7 minute up hill walk, first bit rocky, after that easy.


Weeping Rock Falls – Grade 3

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Leura's Weeping Rock

ABOUT: A delicate 10ft drop and about 15ft wide and good in moderate flow of water. These falls is at the base of Leura’s Bridal Veil Falls, which itself is an extension of the cascades much higher up. There are a couple of vantage points to capture them, the one above being just off the trail, but there is one around some rocks to the right.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: You can’t get super close to the falls so a 50mm is ideal just for the water but the rocks either side are lovely covered in moss so a 24-35 is good too. If you want a panorama a center crop of a 16mm or so would work. Bring a solid tripod for water smoothing – and don’t forget mossy spray and a couple of dry cloths in this area.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: There are two routes down to here and both are big climbs out. The easiest is to follow the Leura cascades trail past the lookout and down into the bottom of Bridal Veil falls, about a 25 minute descent. Weeping rock is about 30 seconds past the base of Bridal Veil. You can come up via the Amphitheatre route but will need to walk back along the road from the Solitary Restaurant area to Cascades car park.

 

Leura Weeping Rock


Witches Leap Falls – Grade 2

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Witches Leap

ABOUT: These falls are a world away from the road, only 15 minutes walk down then back up some steep steps – or a nice loop taking in other viewpoints & falls. There is water running some of the time here, but it does dry up in hot weeks or for a week or so without rain – wait for a day or two after some strong rain – or during even as it does appear quickly. The photographic appeal is the lush foliage, sandstone outcrop & light coming from the open valley below & above, fantastic on misty days.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: There is a nice platform right next to the falls and an ultra wide 14mm approx: or perspective lens to capture the very steep walls required. A vertical panorama also possible as the wall is almost a 150 degrees angle from bottom to top. Tripod as the light levels even midday are very low and to smoothe the water flow.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park next to Katoomba Falls kiosk opposite Katoomba Park. Walk straight ahead following the Furber Steps signs which take you downhill quickly and to the right. This will take you past the ‘Leap’ after about a 10-15 minute descent. The Leap has a clear plague next to it.


Corridor of Red Maple, Hartley – Grade 1

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Little Hartley Lane

ABOUT: A beautiful corridor of Oak and Maple directly off the main Great Western Highway towards Lithgow. Can be taken from various angles and a different times of the day, particularly good at Autumn with mist in the distance but sunset with the sun to the left brings out the wonderful rich tones.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Tripod for low light with a graduate filter for the sky. A moderate wide angle can give good coverage and a medium telephoto for detail of the colourful foliage or compressing the perspective of the image.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Follow the Google map below and the road reveals itself as you pass from each direction on the Great Western Highway.


Corridor of Oaks, Faulconbridge – Grade 1

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Corridor of Oaks Colours

ABOUT: The Corridor of Oaks is a small town park area just off the main highway in Faulconbridge and a series of trees each planted by or representing each of Australia’s Prime Ministers. It is a good 30 minute diversion and particularly spectacular in Autumn when the trees display rich yellows, reds, orange colours in the low sunlight. Good avenue style shots can be had too.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A moderate wide angle can give good coverage and a medium telephoto for detail of the colourful foliage or compressing the perspective of the image

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Well signposted nr Jackson Park, off the Great Western Highway, a left turn if coming up from Sydney and only 30 seconds drive, doubling back.

Corridor of Oaks Statue

 


Autumn Mount Wilson Village – Grade 1

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Natures Monet, Mount Wilson

ABOUT: Mount Wilson is a lovely town set in the northern wilderness areas of the Blue Mountains and a long way, metaphorically, from the bustling Great Western Highway towns. It is beautiful visiting in Autumn when the many gardens, tree lines roads and surrounding woods show off their rich warm leaves particularly good at sundown.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A tripod, moderate wide angles and graduates filters to dampen down the bright sun coming through the leafy wood lined areas. A macro essential if you are into taking many of the varieties of plants in the handful of gardens in the town.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Well signposted off the Bell’s Line of Road whether coming from Bells/Mount Victoria side or the longer Richmond direction. About a 10-15 minute drive off the main highway.

 

Mount Wilson Church

 


Mount Tomah Botanical Gardens – Grade 1

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 Mount Tomah

ABOUT: One of the main tourist attractions on the Bell’s Line of Road between Richmond and Bells (the through to Mount Victoria) these gardens are well worth a mid to late afternoon wander. As well as the obvious macro shots of flowers there are some great walks with views over the distant Grose and across Mount Hat, but also some wild forest trails with great ‘sun burst’ potential as in my shot here.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: A mix of moderate wide lenses for set scenes in the gardens plus a specialist macro lens. Tripod for garden foreground and distant views with bright skies – particularly off the decking of the main building at the top

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: A very well signposted attraction, map below.


Glen Davis Road, Capertee – Sunset Grade 1

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Wolgan & Capertee-12

ABOUT: Glen Davis road is one of the hidden delights of the Greater Blue Mountains. It is a 35km stretch between Capertee on the main highway and Glen Davis at the entrance to the Wollemi National Park. There are a variety of types of shots along it’s length from monolithic peaks, green glens, rolling farms and big open ‘wild west’ style valleys. The right turn (Glen Alice Rd) before you get to the village is even more picturesque too.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Bring a full range of kit and moderate wides through to medium telephoto with tripods for the golden hours very important.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Start at Capertee and the road gets very interesting after about 15km when it opens up into the widest part of the world’s widest canyon.


Wolgan River – Grade 2

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Wolgan & Capertee-26

ABOUT: The Wolgan River flows out of Wollemi National Park and into the open Wolgan Valley. It passes through Newnes and when in full flow offers interesting compositions of foreground river leading up to high cliffs. It is worth exploring spots along the Newnes to Wolgan resort stretch and requires some scrambling down river banks to get best locations.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Bring a tripod and graduate filters as the light difference between foreground river and sunlit background can be vast. A 35m is a good overall foreground to background coverage lens but consider a longer 85mm + to compress the scene.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Drive to the end of the tarmac part of Wolgan Road (about 20km from Lidsdale) and pick up the river on the un-sealsed stretch towards Newnes.


Newnes, Wolgan Valley – Grade 2

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Newnes

ABOUT: Newnes is at the end of the Wolgan Road and alongside the River Wolgan. It’s hub is the old Newnes Hotel (which is now a museum, small kiosk & rental cabins) & a few campsites and some interesting ruins. All photographically interesting a worth spending a couple of hours getting some unique Australiana & historical shots.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Best under some cloud cover and most shots can be handheld as the vertical cliffs around mean you don’t need to use a tripod. Bring ultra wides and even a macro lens for details on the old mining equipment & buildings.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Pick up the Wolgan Road at Lidsdale and follow it for about 25km until you can go no further, that is Newnes. Lots of photo opps enroute of the river & cliff faces.


Glen Davis, Capertee – Sunset Grade 1

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Glen Davis abandoned shop window

ABOUT: Glen Davis is a tiny hamlet at the end of the Capertee Valley and at one of the main entrances to the Wollemi National Park. Although it is residential primarily it has a few quirky old buildings and side roads with abandoned buildings for foreground with the imposing cliffs in the background.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Best at sunset when the cliffs are warm and juxtaposed against the green foregrounds. Bring a tripod and ultra wides to capture the scale of the village and backgrounds. A grad filter to balance dark parts of the village with bright sunlit vistas

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Turn right at Capertee (if coming from Lithgow) and follow Glen Davis road for 35km and Glen Davis is at the end of the road. Some unsealed roads but OK for 2WD cars.


Boar’s Head LO 3 – Sunset Grade 2

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Megalong

ABOUT: Another less trodden view from these rocks, LO 3 has a fantastic framing foreground overlooking the Megalong Valley. This lookout is between Lookout 2 and Cahill’s on the map, and you have to walk past lookout 2 area first.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: Tripod essential as the sun goes down directly opposite, so grads or bracket blends critical. A 16-35mm will give good coverage, but panorama stitching is tempting. A 100mm good for spotting Narrowneck or interesting shapes up and down the ridge.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park at Cahill’s and walk north on Cliff Drive about 30m, look for the trail hidden (you need to look into the bush) in the hedge on the right. It’s a rather overgrown 1-2 walk out to the rocky edges. Lookout 3 is around further to the right, it requires you to push through a couple of small trees.

South Katoomba Photographic Lookouts.jpg


Outcrop nr Gordon Falls – Sunset Grade 2

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Gordon's Outcrop

ABOUT: There are a lot of un-named lookouts along the Wentworth Falls to Katoomba south facing ridge and this one, just to the right of Gordon’s Lookout is an example. It provides a fantastic framed shot of Olympic Rock on the right, Sublime Point to the left and Mount Solitary filling the gap. Great on moody dawn with mist in the valley.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: An ultra wide or try to stitch a panorama together of the whole scene. The rocky vertical Olympic Rock area on the left also benefits from a 50-85mm range lens, but always try to get some of the lovely rock foreground in shot. The ledge is un-railed & bumpy so a good sturdy tripod in a constrained area recommended along with a graduated filter kit.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: Park in the Gordons Falls park area. Follow the short trail down towards Gordon’s Falls lookout and just before the final stairway down to the platform you will see a rough trail leading to the right, this takes you out onto open rocks so be careful.


Prince Henry Cliff Walk – Sunrise Grade 1

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Prince Henry Cliff Walk View

ABOUT: This walk is a very popular just below the cliff top from West Leura to West Katoomba. It takes in many of the tourist central spots but at dawn or after sunset it is a great photographers playground. Most of the lookouts are large & look South into the Jamison with a variety of foreground & cliff orientations, plus there are some lovely gullys which on misty days become very atmospheric. Panoramas are spectacular from many of the locations.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: If you reccy the lookouts you can park only minutes away from most of them, so bring a full kit, unless walking the route. Tripods are critical for early hours and a good range of ultra to moderate wide lenses and graduate neutral density as it is a big sky in front of you from here.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: See detailed map below and scout the lookouts, but photographic friendly ones are Spooners, Lady Darleys and Lady Carrington. Car parking all the way along just above the trail.

Prince Henry Cliff Walk Map


Lady Darley’s LO – Grade 2

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Darleys Lookout

ABOUT: Although positioned on the often busy-at-weekends Prince Henry Cliff Walk, Lady Darleys LO offers the most wide open vista from this cliff edge walk. Although the Three Sisters are not totally visible the wide panorama & great foreground rocky outcrop makes up for it. Go during mist, storms or Golden hours.

PHOTO EQUIPMENT TO BRING: You can bring your whole kit as you will be minutes from your car at the top of stairs directly up to Panorama Drive (approx 5 mins down, 10 mins back). Panoramas are great from the higher platform looking down onto the foreground rocks so stitched 35mm lens vertical images work well and worth bring medium 85mm approx telephotos for framing interesting distant cloudscapes against the distant hills.

GETTING TO THE SPOT/S: See detailed map below and either park on Panorama Drive and walk down the 5 minute steps, marked in the middle of the pavement railing, or walk to the spot (about 15 mins) from either Cliff Drive View (easy access) or Echo Point center.

Prince Henry Cliff Walk Map