Ruby In The Landscape – Windorah Red

There is something special about the outback and we loved our trip to Windorah this year.

Just a little red dog doing her thing in the outback!


“Windorah Red”       

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2015 Australian Professional Photography Awards

The Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPAs) are held annually and would have to be one of the most exciting and elite competitions on the planet.  I don’t say that lightly as not only do our best Australian photographers enter, but it also draws entries from amazing overseas artists as well.

This year the awards were held in Melbourne in October and over three days of judging, several thousand images met their destiny.

The first challenge for me was to select four images as that is the maximum you can enter.  This year I was fortunate to win my first gold award and six silver awards at the 2015 Queensland Professional Photography Awards.  Entering eight images at the state awards was supposed to help my dilemma in choosing four images to enter for APPAs.  Ummm, I still had to cull further!

Many photographers seek out opinions from their peers when choosing their images because it is easy to be emotionally attached to them.  When the prints are turned around for judging, it doesn’t matter what you did to get that shot, how many miles you walked, or how many hours you spent on post-production, the judges don’t know that, don’t care, and base their score on what they see.  I decided to go with my gut and put my favourite shots in.

‘What did the photographer bring to this image’ is often mentioned during judging discussion and images which have a storytelling aspect and can evoke emotion, often score well.  All images need to be technical brilliant and scores of 70-79 are given to those which are of a high professional standard but below award level.  It is no shame to get a score in the seventies!

I am proud to say that this year my images scored 3 Silver Awards and the fourth entry scored a 75.

Here are my entries!

Silverton Donkey

“Dollar – The Silverton Donkey”

This image received scores of 81, 83, 83, 84 84 from the five judges.  A final score of 83 and a Silver Award.  Thank you to the judge who spoke after the image had been judged and mentioned that he appreciated the humour in the image as that is what I was hoping would be seen.  Wild donkeys used to freely roam Silverton but now Dollar is the only one left.  I also photographed him one morning coming out of the local church!


“Not Impressed”

This image scored a Gold Award at states and I hoped it would do well again at the nationals.  It scored 80, 82, 83, 83 and 87 with a final score of 83 and a Silver Award.  It was taken at Allora and is part of a dog show project which I have now wrapped up shooting and hopefully will create a book to celebrate the year that Ruby and I went to many dog shows while she earnt her Australian show champion title.


“The Crow”

This image received scores of 78, 80, 81, 84 and 87 with a first-round score of 82.  The judge on 87 put in a challenge and the image was discussed further amongst the panel.  It was rescored with 82, 82, 84, 84 and 87 with a final score of 84 and a Silver Award.  The excitement didn’t end there as it went to another panel for consideration of a Silver with Distinction.  It stayed the same but I was pleased with the outcome.  It actually scored lower at states with a 80 and received a Silver Award there.  It is my favourite shot of the four images I entered and was taken at Bribie Island one morning at sunrise while Ruby was having a run.  Moments earlier there were two Brahminy Kites sitting on the branches but by the time I had raised my camera, they had taken off.  The crow also took flight and this is the shot.  I liked the balance in the shot but also the misperfection of the missing feather.  In post-production I chose a square crop as I wanted the branches to rest on the edge of the frame as I thought that it held the shot together better.  I used a blending mode in Photoshop to strip out the colour and added a frame to give a fine art feel.  The image was also printed on a textured fine art paper.


“Lake Blur”

This image scored 70, 72, 75, 78 and 81 and ended up with a final score of 75.  The judge on 81 could have challenged but did not.  I enjoy creating abstract blurs in camera and this one is reeds in a lake somewhere on the west coast of New Zealand.  I always shoot raw plus jpeg, and cranked up the saturation in camera to get the strong opposite colour effect.  I have a gallery of abstract images on my website if you would like to take a look at more of these type of images.

The points for three Silver awards brought up my Associate Membership in the Australian Institute of Professional Photography so I was pretty chuffed with this year’s results.

A big thank you to Living Image Fine Art Printing for ensuring my images were printed perfectly!

Now….best get planning and shooting for next year’s awards!

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Ruby In The Landscape – Dune Frenzy

What is an Australian Kelpie, who lives in an urban townhouse, to do when she has the opportunity to explore a red sand dune in the outback?

Why………stick her nose in the sand and go crazy……..of course!

A cow grazes peacefully in the background.

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“Dune Frenzy”       © Sue Thomson 2015

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Ruby In The Landscape – Queen Of The Outback

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“Queen Of The Outback”       © Sue Thomson 2015

There is something about the Australian outback that is addictive.

Dry cracked red earth, endless vistas, spectacular wildlife and pubs in remote towns that always have a cold beer.

We are just home from a trip to Windorah, which is located in the heart of the Channel Country, approximately 1200km west of Brisbane.  Windorah is surrounded by red sand hills and is a great spot to overnight before heading out on the road to Birdsville.

Ruby enjoyed the red dirt and will be back again soon!

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190 Bowery

Having a local show you around their favourite hang outs when travelling is priceless. More than likely, you will be able to discover hidden gems and visit quieter areas which are not frequented by mobs of tourists all looking for their ‘postcard’ shot.

On a recent trip to New York I explored little known areas of Central Park, travelled on the free cable car which traverses to Roosevelt Island and provides a stunning view of Manhattan, and walked the High Line, which gave me another different perspective of Manhattan.

When my friend asked if I wanted to go check out a place which was known for cool graffiti, of course I said yes. The graffiti was indeed awesome, but it is only just recently that I learned a fascinating fact regarding our visit to this location.  The graffiti building was ‘190 Bowery’ and the owner of the building was none other than Jay Maisel, one of my photographic idols.

Jay has run his legendary photography workshops from 190 Bowery for many years. The price of $5000 for a week with Jay has not been a deterrent as his workshops are highly revered and are always sold out way in advance.

Strong composition, colour and gesture are all symbolic of Jay’s images. After watching a documentary by Jay, I am always conscious of thinking about ‘gesture’ when creating my own images.  “Even the landscape has gesture” he said.

My friend and I spent about a half an hour taking images of the graffiti and little did we know, that an announcement was shortly to be made advising that the building had been sold and would soon be demolished to make way for condos……as if New York has a shortage of those!

Graffiti evolves as new artists make their statements and these images will take pride of place in my photographic library as being part of history, and part of the landscape of 190 Bowery and former home of Jay Maisel.

WARNING:  There is an F Bomb word in an image below.  Look away now if it might offend!

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“190 Bowery”      © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Red Shoes”      © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Boogie Woogie”      © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Hero”      © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Banksy”      © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Batgirl”      © Sue Thomson 2014

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“The Wolf”      © Sue Thomson 2014


Further news articles on 190 Bowery:

New York Magazine 2008 – ‘A Great Buy – The 72 Room Bohemian Dream House”

The Daily Mail 9 February 2015 – “190 Bowery Sells For 55 Million”


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Once a living being, the ocean takes it in, polishes and shapes it, tumbles it around like a washing machine, and then spits it out, sometimes thousands of miles away.  Trees become mysterious objects such as dinosaurs, knarly hands and little worms.

Perhaps my imagination is a little vivid, but hey driftwood is cool!

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“Knarly”      © Sue Thomson 2014


“Driftwood Worm”      © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Moonrise over Bribie Island”      © Sue Thomson 2013


“Tyrannosaurus Rex”      © Sue Thomson 2014


“Upended”      © Sue Thomson 2014


“Low Tide at Maine”      © Sue Thomson 2014

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“The Hand”      © Sue Thomson 2013


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Ruby In The Landscape – Centre Stage

Ruby is an integral part of my landscapes now.  She is great company when I travel to locations in the dark and wait for the light.  She loves to explore and kick up her heels and whilst I have always intended for her to be a small part of the image that I create, sometimes she just cant help herself…..she has to be centre stage!

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“Centre Stage”      © Sue Thomson 2015

You can see more of Ruby In The Landscape here

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The Absence of Colour

One of the most exciting times of being a landscape photographer is during sunrise and sunset at an awesome location, when the sky has the potential to erupt in magnificent colour.  You just cant wait to get home, download the images, relive the adrenalin and hope it matches what you felt and saw.

Once the romance of the colour explosion is over, the images can be viewed objectively.   I like to take a few weeks to do this, because sometimes little gems will appear and outshine the diamonds which jump out during the first cut of processing.

I like to look carefully at the structure and lines of the landscape that I had chosen to frame at the time of capture.  Sometimes I am disappointed with my efforts, but I know I did the best I could at the time with my ‘seeing eye’, and I always try to learn from opportunities missed.

I am a big fan of black and white images and absolutely adore the work of Michael Kenna and Clyde Butcher and truly believe the essence of the landscape can sometimes be enjoyed more, once colour is removed from the image.  A black and white image of a landscape reduces it to its purest form of shape, structure and texture.  It then becomes an interpretation of reality by the artist.

On my recent trip to Haast Beach in New Zealand, the colours which presented in the sky, were singing right off the richter scale!   Now that I have had time to sit and ponder these images, I have processed a selection of seascapes in black and white. 

I am enjoying these images now, more so than at the time of capture when the colour fuzzed up my brain and there was little opportunity to savour the beauty of the moment due to the fast changing epic light.

I hope you enjoy them too.


“Ocean Edge”       © Sue Thomson 2014


“Retreat”       © Sue Thomson 2014


“Ten Seconds”       © Sue Thomson 2014


“Spill”       © Sue Thomson 2014


“Haast Beach”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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Ruby In The Landscape – Wait

She knows what beckons on the other side of the sand dune, it excites her greatly, and yet she waits. 

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“Wait”       © Sue Thomson 2015

She can hear the pounding of the ocean waves, she knows that at this early time in the morning, no one will be on the beach and she will be able to run freely to her hearts content.  She knows that when she is done chasing waves, she will be able to wade into the warm ocean and swim to sooth her aching muscles, and yet, she waits.

She waits for her master to give the release word and let her know that it is OK for her to go ahead. 

An Australian Kelpie develops an intensely loyal bond with their master.  They are one of the most enthusiastic and tireless working dogs on the planet.  It doesn’t matter whether they are working on the land, or living in an urban environment and learning obedience, agility or tricks, they will give their all to their master, without complaint, and with love and devotion.

Little Ruby has been busy strutting her stuff in the show ring shows during 2014, earning her Australian championship title, and taking out the national pointscore for No. 1 Australian Kelpie in her class.

2015 will bring her debut into the agility ring, a few more shows for fun, and more images  to be created for the Ruby in the Landscape series.  

Ruby is looking forward to planning and sharing some special shoots this year with you.

Woof woof!

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Where River Meets Sea

Dramatic coastlines, unspoiled wilderness, and a dramatic backdrop of mountains are all part of the amazing area known as Haast on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.

Haast  is remote and sparsely populated, and offers the traveller a refreshing experience than the usual heavily populated tourist spots of New Zealand. The scenery where the Haast River meets the Tasman Sea is truly breathtaking and river edges pulse with activity when the whitebait are running.

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“River Meets Sea”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“The Whitebait Stand”       © Sue Thomson 2014

I wrote about the whitebait phenomena last week in my blog “Little Fish are Sweet” and I share here a few more images of the charming little caravans where the fishermen hang out between tides.

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“Gold at Haast”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Window to Haast”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Mountain View”       © Sue Thomson 2014

Next week’s blog will feature seascapes from Haast Beach.

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