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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Ruby In The Landscape – Best Seat In The House

Community halls and showgrounds are the lifeblood of small country towns.  Folk travel from all around to gather and join in festivities such as the yearly agricultural show, rodeos, exhibitions and meetings.  A catch-up over a cup of tea and a lamington or a scone always goes down a treat.

Recently, Ruby and I took a drive to Allora, a small town in South Eastern Queensland on the Darling Downs.  It is best known for rich agricultural land, fields of sunflowers, and magnificent heritage buildings located in the main street.

Ruby checked out the grandstand at the showground and quickly found the best seat in the house.

Best Seat In The House

                                     “Best Seat In The House”       © Sue Thomson 2014

These grand old heritage buildings can take a lot of upkeep to maintain and I was pleased to be able to recently contribute to a fund-raising campaign aimed at restoring the 110-year-old grandstand at Camperdown Racecourse.   A fabulous documentary book called “Camperdown and It’s Cup” has been created by Andrew Chapman, Noel Butcher and Jaime Murcia and all proceeds from the book sales are being donated to restore the grandstand.  The book is a great read and  the images are amazing.

Ruby is currently busy planning her next adventure into the landscape, so be sure to follow one of the links below to see where she will be heading next.

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Ruby In The Landscape – Admiring Emus

Our recent trip to the outback provided many new experiences for Ruby.  A close encounter with an emu at the Opal Caravan Park at Lightning Ridge provided excitement, and she got her art on by admiring the emus in John Murray’s very cool mural in the alleyway next to his gallery located in the main street.

Lightning Ridge is an iconic Australian outback town. It is truly fascinating, full of characters, mining memorabilia, and of course, the home of the beautiful black opal.

We only had time to stay overnight as we were destined for Broken Hill and Silverton, but we are already planning a trip for next year and look forward to capturing many more “Ruby in the Landscape” images.

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“Admiring Emus”       © 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… a fly veil when you get to Broken Hill….and I did!

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Ruby In The Landscape – The Mad Max Dog

The town of Silverton in New South Wales, Australia is an outback town with such classic desert appeal that it has perhaps become the most famous movie location in Australia.  Iconic films such as Mad Max II (known as Road Warrior in USA), Dirty Deeds, Mission Impossible II, The Missing, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Reckless Kelly, Razorback, The Slim Dusty Movie, Hostage and A Town Like Alice (mini-series) have all been filmed in and around Silverton.

This was an important destination on our recent outback trip, and as we drove in to Silverton on the first morning for a sunrise shoot, I could sense Ruby’s excitement was growing.  You see, I think she has dreams of being a movie star one day.  We arrived at the Mad Max 2 Museum and Ruby immediately got into the spirit of this awesome movie and strutted her inner feral dog.

Feel free to share this blog and image with any big-name movie screen writers who might be thinking of writing a Mad Max sequel and might be in need of a dog like Ruby.  Her modelling training is coming along well and at this stage, her fee is modest.  Her handler is probably expensive though 🙂

The Mad Max Dog

“The Mad Max Dog”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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Ruby In The Landscape – Blending In

Yesterday we went for a wonderful walk in the fog.  Ruby was excited to sniff and smell all the new things which had been brought to life from the rain. We ended up at a small creek surrounded by pine trees and watched the magic of nature as the sun rose and the light filtered through the trees.  There is always beauty close to home.


“Blending In”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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Ruby In The Landscape – The Melaleucas

“ Which of my photographs is my favourite?   The one I’m going to take tomorrow”. Imogen Cunningham

I have always loved this quote by Imogen Cunningham, a wonderful pioneer for women in photography.  It makes me think of the adventures to come today, tomorrow, next year, and the years beyond that.  And so it goes with Ruby In the Landscape, where will we go next!

We have been a little busy of late, hanging out at dog shows, where Ruby has been strutting her stuff in the show ring.   I am pleased to say that she has now earnt her Australian championship.   Of course, this will surely mean that her print sales will skyrocket as she is now putting champion paws in the landscape!

This image was taken a little while ago, at one of the few places on the Sunshine Coast where doggies are welcome.  Despite it being a pretty gloomy day, Ruby enjoyed running across the low tide puddles and chasing little crabs that were way too quick for her and kept disappearing into the sand.

The Melaleucas

“The Melaleucas”       © Sue Thomson 2013

We hope you discover and enjoy a new place this weekend!

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Ruby In The Landscape – Chasing Clouds

It is always a great feeling when you find a new place in the world to explore and photograph.  It is even more special when it is close to home and you have a little friend like Ruby to share it with.

I was intending to get up early and shoot the sunrise on a recent Sunday morning, but I was lazy and didn’t make it.  When I did get up and stepped outside to see that the sky was filled with big beautiful puffy clouds, I just knew I had to go and make a picture.   I dusted off my infrared camera and headed towards a dam I had been meaning to explore for some time.

“Go chase those clouds Ruby”

Chasing Clouds

 “Chasing Clouds”       © Sue Thomson 2013

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Telling Stories

Creating a memorable image takes thought and skill. A photographer has many choices available to them to assist in documenting and capturing moments in time. Light, emotion and inclusion or non-inclusion of elements all help to convey a mood and tell stories.

The results from the 2013 International Loupe Awards are now in and I thought I would share with you my images, their scores and their stories.

Image 1 – “Night Rodeo”
This image received a final score of 87 and a Silver Award. The five judging scores ranged between 73 and 88. The judge who gave it a 73 must have shuddered when he saw it took out First Place. One judge commented that the image was “A nice different take on a normal shot – kudos”. Of course what the judge is referring to is the middle part of the image where the steer wrestler is coming off his horse to catch the steer. I have lots of this type of shot in my archives and it is a common rodeo action shot to capture. In this case, bad arena lighting and positioning helped my cause in capturing this panoramic image showing all the drama surrounding the event.

Night Rodeo Steer Wrestling
“Night Rodeo”      © Sue Thomson  2012

Image 2 – “Media Man In Trouble”
This image received a final score of 82 and a Bronze Award. I actually entered it in the Photojournalism category because of the irony of the bull stomping, not on a cowboy, but on a media man who was recording the action and had turned his back on the arena and thought that the action was all over. He wasnt hurt, but his fancy camera, suffered unrepairable wounds!
The judging scores ranged between 78-89 and I had a judging comment to crop tighter and remove the distraction of the red top. Perhaps if I did this, the image would be stronger from a competition point of view, but I find myself more and more including elements to ‘’tell stories”’. To me, the inclusion of the Chute Boss and the cowboys scurrying to the rails were part of the story that I wanted to tell.  Check out those cowboys peeping through the rails!

Media Man In Trouble
“Media Man In Trouble”      © Sue Thomson  2012

Image 3 – “The Rescue”
This image received a final score of 79 and just missed a Bronze Award. Scores ranged between 73 and 88 and truth be told, it is my favourite image of the four. It is incredibly difficult to take rodeo action shots where you have all of the elements come together. In this image, the horse has four feet off the ground, you can see the emotion in the cowboy’s face, the story is being told of the rescue man bailing out the cowboy, and check out the rescue horse’s eye…..he is doing his job in adverse conditions! The other element that is a spoiler for rodeo shots, is signage in the background which can be mimised by choosing an appropriate aperture on the camera.  Converting the image to monochrome also helps to keep the attention focussed on the action.

The Rescue
“The Rescue”   
  © Sue Thomson  2012

Image 4 – Winner of the Bull Ride
This image received a final score of 78, with scores ranging between 68 and 88. It received two judging comments: “love the emotion, wish it were cropped tighter to show his expression” and “a little crop to lose a bit off the right side would have helped, well seen and well captured”.  I always take on board comments from judges, but in this case, I will keep the image the way it is. The story behind the image, and of course the judges would not have known this, is the cowboy had just ridden eight seconds on one of the toughest bulls. He received top score which won him the big bucks. To me, leaving in the rope signifies that he has finished his ride and the crowd, and his hat are all part of the story. The cowboy is a New Zealander and he was so excited, he was actually doing the haka. You can see that pesky signage in the background here, but with sport and photojournalism entries for awards, you cannot remove or add elements.

Rodeo Haka
“Winner of the Bull Ride”      © Sue Thomson  2012

All of these images were captured at Warwick Rodeo in October 2012.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at the images, reading my award results and the stories behind them.

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