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!

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“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!

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“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.

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“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.

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“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 – 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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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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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!

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                         “Sharing a Poncho”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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                                     “Oblivious of Butterflies”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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                                      “Bubble Mayhem”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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                      “Rainy Day Fashion”       © Sue Thomson 2014

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                              “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.

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                                     “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…..buy 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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