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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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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Little Fish Are Sweet

There is a certain fascination with little fish in New Zealand and watching and learning from the whitebait fishermen in the Haast area, and tasting this delicacy, was one of the highlights on my recent visit to the South Island.

Legend has it that the best whitebait are caught on the wild West Coast of the South Island which is an incredible area of wilderness.  Word soon gets out when the whitebait are running and each spring, you will find hundreds of fisherman trying their hand at catching the tricky little devils as they make their way upstream from the sea.  The little whitebait swim close to the river’s edge and are quite elusive.  Big runs often follow floods, a few days after the water clears, and usually in the daytime on a rising tide.

Strict controls have been put in place by the Department of Conservation to control whitebaiting due to declining catches. Fishermen must have a licence, can only use one net, and must be within 10 metres of it at all times.  A variety of nets are used to catch whitebait, and they can be fixed screens, or hand held.

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“West Coast Whitebaiters”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Inside the Net”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Setting The Net”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Claire”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Help Is Golden”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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“Dressed To Fish”       © Sue Thomson 2014

The beautiful West Coast landscape is simply breathtaking.   Dotted along the river banks, are funky retro caravans or baches (shacks) and are used as whitebaiters take up residence for the season.  In next week’s blog, I will be sharing images of these quaint little abodes.

Whitebait fritters or patties are the most common way that the little fish are cooked. Eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and whitebait are added together and spoonfuls are then fried in butter or oil. The fritters are often eaten between slices of buttered white bread. I had mine with a salad and oh yes, little fish are sweet!

I hope you have enjoyed the blog.  I will be sharing more of my New Zealand images this month on FACEBOOK , so hit the LIKE button if you would like to see them.

I also look forward to sharing more of my documentary work with you this year via the Getaway Images  BLOG.

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The Magic of Woodfordia

There are not many places where in the space of a couple of hours, you can learn all about renewable energy, be chased by an eight headed monster, listen to jazz and blues, take part in yoga and tai chi, and taste the most insanely awesome organic donuts on this planet.

There is lots of peace and love at the Woodford Folk Festival, an annual music festival held just outside the country town of Woodford in Queensland.  The festival is one of the biggest in Australia and takes place over six days and nights.  It boasts more than 2000 performers who happily delight the very chilled crowd.

As in past years, the rain came down again but did not dampen the enthusiasm of festival goers.  An colourful array of gum boots, ponchos and umbrellas only added to the vibe of the festival.

If you haven’t been before, do yourself a favour and put this festival in your little black book to attend.

Did I mention those insanely good organic donuts!


                         “Sharing a Poncho”       © Sue Thomson 2014


                                     “Oblivious of Butterflies”       © Sue Thomson 2014


                                      “Bubble Mayhem”       © Sue Thomson 2014


                      “Rainy Day Fashion”       © Sue Thomson 2014


                              “Floral Overload”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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The Ladies of Louth

Two lone figures appeared on the horizon like a mirage.  As I drove closer to them along the insanely red dirt road, I could see that they were wearing fly veils and one was carrying dumb bells.

Feeling adventurous, I had ventured off the black-top to travel the unsealed Darling River Run and had travelled more than 100km from Bourke.  I had not seen any other cars and was enjoying the vista of the red earth country and a land springing to life after recent rain.  The appearance of the odd emu, kangaroo and wild goats kept me on my toes as wildlife are a little bit unpredictable when grazing and moving around near the outback roads.

At first, I thought the ladies may have broken down, but the dumb bells had me intrigued.  I pulled up and had a chat to the lovely Clare and Margaret and they told me that they lived at the little town of Louth just up the road.  They had both embarked on a health mission and were out walking to get fit.

To say I was surprised was an understatement.  But life is like that in the country and the outback.  Folks don’t have access to big fancy gyms, they make the most of what they have, and despite the trillions of flies, they were out enjoying the land and each other’s company.

They were pretty chuffed when I asked if I could photograph them, as I was to meet such interesting ladies in the middle of nowhere.

Louth is a small town with a population of under 50 which swells to thousands when they host their annual race meeting.  I called into the pub to refuel and enjoyed looking at the wonderful memorabilia located inside the pub whilst I waited for my hearty bacon and egg burger to cook.

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“The Ladies of Louth”       © Sue Thomson 2014

I received some very good advice from the ladies of Louth…..buy a fly veil when you get to Broken Hill….and I did!

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One Thousand Moons

Did you know that there will be approximately 1000 new moons during your lifetime?

I came across this concept when attending an Eddie Soloway photography workshop in Santa Fe.  I had admired Eddie’s work for quite some time and his artistic interpretations of our natural world have been inspirational to me in developing my photographic seeing eye.

Eddie shared his story with us of how he had estimated, that if he was lucky, that he would see 1000 new moons during his lifetime and had decided to celebrate these moons as markings of time.  Some of his celebrations have included walking through fog-filled cornfields in the hill country of western Wisconsin, walking in moonlit alleys in Chicago and watching the new moon over Lake Michigan.  After our workshop he was planning to celebrate the next new moon with his son somewhere special on the west coast.

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“Supermoon In The Everglades”    © Sue Thomson 2012

Santa Fe is an amazing desert town in New Mexico, with gorgeous adobe buildings and thousands of art galleries.  It is the third largest art market in the USA and I was privileged to wander through galleries such as Verve, the Monroe Gallery, the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and the Andrew Smith Gallery where I viewed beautiful Ansel Adams prints.  I didnt quite have the cash for an Ansel but I did purchase a series of postcards which I have displayed above my computer and provide inspiration to seek photographic excellence.

The workshop in Santa Fe was fantastic and holds extra special memories for me as I met three amazing ladies who live in different parts of the USA and have since become great friends and continue to be an important part of my photographic journey.   It was held on the site of a Carmelite nunnery which was kinda cool, and a travel experience to be savoured and treasured!

It is a new moon tonight.  Where will you be?  Will the passing of time for this new moon be memorable for you?

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“Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary Cross”    © Sue Thomson 2011

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A Little Gem – Torbanlea Picnic Races

As we gear up for one of the biggest races on the Australian horse racing calender, the Melbourne Cup, another little gem on the regional event calender is about to be held.

Approximately 240 km north of Brisbane, you will find a small town called Torbanlea which comes alive for their annual picnic races. If you have never been to a country race meeting, then you are in for a treat!   Torbanlea has it all, including horse-racing, fashions on the field, tug-o-war, wood chopping and shetland pony trotting races.  As the day goes on, the fillies get friskier!

Here are some of my images from 2011. Of note, the great Shane Webcke judged the fashions on the field.


“Fashions On The Field”     © Sue Thomson 2011


“The Distraction”     © Sue Thomson 2011


“Wood Saw Shane”     © Sue Thomson 2011


“The Little Jockey”     © Sue Thomson 2011


“Around The Bend”     © Sue Thomson 2011


“The Trainer”     © Sue Thomson 2011

This year the Torbanlea Picnic races will be held on 26 October 2013.

Torbanlea Picnic Races…..best race day by a country mile!

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Population Ten

On my recent trip to the South Island of New Zealand, I had the pleasure to discover and stay in the wonderful little historical town of St Bathans, located in the middle of Central Otago.

The origin of the town dates back to the early 1860s when gold was discovered and migrants came from as far afield as Ireland and China to seek their fortune.  It was originally named Dunstan Creek and by 1864, approximately 1000 people lived in the immediate area.

As a legacy of the mining, the amazing Blue Lake was formed.  Named after the distinctive blue colour which was caused by minerals in the water, it was created by miners digging away at a 120 metre hill until all that was left was a deep pit. When the mining stopped, the hole filled with water forming the lake.  Today, the lake is popular with weekend visitors who swim and jet ski in the lake.  There is a two kilometre walking track around Blue Lake so you are able to see the amazing colours and reflections from many different viewpoints.

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Blue Lake

Today there are only ten permanent residents, which include the owners of the haunted historic Vulcan Hotel, Mike and Jude Kavanagh.    You wont find a website to advertise the charming digs of this hotel accommodation, but you will find wonderful hospitality and have the opportunity to hang out with the locals when they drop in for a beer at the end of the day.

A couple of times a year, they run sheep through the main street in order to move them to different pastures.  I saw an amazing photograph on the wall of the pub which showed this happening.  The image had one sheep standing up in protest in the middle of the mob which really made the shot.  I was chuffed when Mike gave me a postcard of this image to keep.

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Many images of the renowned artist Grahame Sydney hang on the wall in the Vulcan Hotel.  Grahame has spent a lifetime painting and photographing the Central Otago landscape.

Little has changed in the town and it is easy to imagine how things might have been in its hey-day.  Historical St Bathans is now managed by the Department of Conservation and the only currently operating buildings are the pub and the post office.   I found it interesting that there were two cemeteries.  One for the catholics which took pride of place in town near the church, and one for non catholics which was located out of town.

I wandered through the township of historical buildings and found many items of interest to photograph, including vintage bicycles and old farm equipment.

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The Catholic Church and Cemetery

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Bike and Rabbit Trap

Only 17 kilometres away is the amazing Central Otago Rail Trail at Oturehua .  I was surprised at the number of families who were out riding parts of the trail.  It is such a wonderful landscape though to keep you distracted from the pain of cycling up the many hills.

St Bathans is a wonderful little place to put on your ‘must see’ places if you are travelling in the South Island of New Zealand.

A gallery of my St Bathans images is now able for viewing on the Getaway Images website.

Cambria – A Hugger’s Paradise

Some of the most enjoyable travel experiences are those which are unplanned.  Whilst I do love to research and plan before travelling to new locations, I also like to go with the flow and take advantage of any opportunities that arise along the way.

Over a beer with the locals at the Vulcan Hotel in St Bathans, a really cool little town in the middle of Central Otago in New Zealand, I mentioned to the friendly folks that I was a photographer visiting from Australia and would they be able to share their knowledge on any great spots for me to photograph.  Whilst my main intent was to photograph the lake and surrounding landscapes of St Bathans, getting some unique shots of the area is always a travelling photographer’s delight.

I should mention that there was never any more than six people in the pub at any one time, and legend has it that the ghost of Rosie, a lady of the night who was murdered at the pub and her body was found down in the lake, still haunted the pub!

As I was the only house guest on the first night, I declined the option to stay in the haunted room.   Yep….I was piked out!

People always love to help and I was advised that I should go on up to Cambria and meet “Bob”.  I was warned to watch out for him because he was a hugger!

I didn’t know what to expect but the next day I thought I would check out this place called Cambria where Bob the Hugger had created his own man made forest.

I came across the first of many interesting signs on the dirt road leading into Cambria.  It provided directions to Lower, Middle and Upper Cambria.  I chuckled as I realised that each area only consisted of about six houses.

Then another sign asking me did I want to go “here” or “there”


I chose “here” and ended up at the forest.


I parked the car and was immediately greeted by “Bob” who gave me a big hug and genuinely welcomed me to his piece of paradise on earth. He was beside himself that someone had taken the time to seek out his little piece of paradise and to come and admire his handiwork.


Bob had painstakingly planted thousands of beautiful trees which were now in full autumn splendour.


In amongst the forest were a number of quirky objects and were testament to his sense of humour.


Nothing but the best….silverware and a welcome drink for guests


The forest was a quiet meditative place for some.


Sold in St Bathans” – I am sure Bob has plans for that old washing machine….one day!


Curiosity will lead you to mysterious places in the forest.


There are places to rest your weary exploring feet…..albeit a little rustic!


Plenty of old cars for the motor enthusiast to see


Of course every good forest needs a submarine. Bob told me that this one was a work in progress. “I have just got to build up the bank at the back and wait for some rain”, he said.

Take the time to meet the locals on your next trip, you never know where you might end up.

It sure was a pleasure to find this little treasure, and of course you can never have too many hugs!