Well this is an inspiring story that needs to be told . . .

Last Saturday, after enjoying a nice drive through the Yarra Ranges and visiting the market at St. Andrews, I was working my way back towards Bendigo hoping to find a few nice vistas for some panoramas. Failing this, I was hoping to make it to Hanging Rock by sunset to capture a nice photo there.

After traveling through King Parrot (just east of the Kinglake National Park), and not finding a single King Parrot to photograph (darn!), I found myself working my way up the Whittlesea-Yea Road on the way to Broadford.

Traveling at a bit of speed to make up some time, I nearly missed it, but all of a sudden out of the corner of my eye flashed this dazzling spectre of colour, so I thought “Whoa! What was that?!”.

After traveling another kilometer or so to find a suitable spot to turn around, I made my way back to the place that had caught my attention. The photos in this post expose the surprise I was to find and the amazing story you are about to read.

Now being an avid photographer, it is always tricky to take photos of someone’s private property and in this case garden. Upon closer inspection from the road I thought, wow this is an amazing garden, maybe I can just get a few quick shots from the roadway and then be on my way.

Well just as soon as I captured a couple of quick photos a gentleman appeared near the house and noticed my unannounced arrival. I quickly pointed to my camera and with a sheepish look, mouthed the words “just wondering if I can take a few photos?”

At this, he waved “Come in, Come in, you can have a closer look. I’ll show you the back.”

Anticipating that there was an even greater surprise awaiting towards the back of the property I became excited at the invitation.

After a quick introduction, I explained that I had been following a group on Red Bubble called “All Glorious Gardens”, and that I was hoping to find some nice gardens in my travels for the photo competitions there. Indicating that the competition was stiff with all the wonderful gardens in Europe and North America, he suggested “yes I know, I am from England myself, but have lived here for more than 30 years now”.

Shortly after our stroll began towards the back of this one acre property, I discovered that the Black Saturday Bushfires of 7 February 2009 had totally destroyed everything which once stood in this present sea of colour. The thought immediately struck me “how on earth could all this regrowth and rejuvination take place in just 5 short years?” Some of the trees were so large, especially the pink Dogwood I spotted from the road.

As we strolled to the back of the property, tree after tree was pointed out as having been burnt to the ground, but that a new shoot had started and over time a full new tree now stood taking its place. Many Gums had burnt to the ground and all that remained were stumps.

Then when we arrived at the back of the property, I saw a beautiful view of King Parrot Creek with the water rushing past. In the creek were a number of fallen gum trees. The gracious host, whom I would by this stage learn was John, quickly pointed out “you know there was a time when I would have gone down there and retrieved those, and that would be firewood for the whole of next year, but now at my age I just can’t take the chance any longer”.

As we turned around to head back towards the house, I learned that on that tragic day in February 2009, three people were nearly crushed just across the road by a large tree limb falling on their vehicle. After managing to escape to the house next door for shelter, it was there that they later perished as the fires overcame them and engulfed that neighbours home, not more than 20 meters from where we stood. John described how he and his wife had decided to abandon their property just 30 minutes earlier, and seek shelter in a safer location. By a quirk of good fortune, and the haphazard nature with which these bushfires seem to leave some homes unscathed while the one only metres away next door is destroyed, their home survived that fateful Saturday over 5 years ago. Well, by this point the number and quality of photos decreased as it struck me just how much John and his Wife had endured these past 5 years, along with all the neighbours up and down this valley.

John went on to describe how every garden bed needed to be dug out to a depth of at least a foot, as the fires had scorched them and the soil was no longer capable of providing nutrients for new plantings. He indicated that after such a tragic loss of property and life so close by, this big project gave he and his wife (at the time 75 and 73) a focus to take their minds off things and something positive to work on, and served as a distraction from the grief all around them. I could not help but marvel at the magnificence of the gardens today and resilience of mind, body and spirit, and the hard work it would have taken to restore everything to its former beauty.  Afterall, I am speaking with a man who is now an Octogenarian.

As I sat in my car after bidding John farewell and thanking him for the opportunity to visit and photograph his garden, I thought about what I had just seen and heard. As I glanced at the “For Sale” sign at the front of the property I felt saddened. You see, having recently had a health scare requiring his wife to drive 45 km at 1 AM to a hospital to the south, John and his Wife are now forced to consider selling their lovely home so as to be closer to medical assistance should it be needed.

John’s parting words were that of an invitation, that should I ever pass by again, I should stop in for another visit and perhaps a cuppa. This I will look forward to doing, but this time with a canvas print of the garden (the Featured Image here), for it would be a shame for this couple to not have a lasting reminder of their beautiful garden, which through adversity, they worked so hard to re-create.

I can think of no other song for this post which has more meaning, but the Shannon Noll and Natalie Bassingthwaite song “Don’t Give Up”, which became an inspirational anthem after the bushfires in 2009. John and his Wife certainly never gave up, but instead rebuilt not only a truly amazing garden, but I feel a fitting memorial to those three souls lost in the tragedy of that day on 7 February 2009.

Check out the new Photo Competitions links at my website.

New Menu items added to the website this evening. Under “About” a few new links to photography competitions at www.gurushots.com.

Three competitions underway, where the Top Photographers around the world vote for their impressions of competitors photographs. These give a great idea of how one is doing with their work.

Pretty happy with the results so far, and organising myself to complete submissions for the “World of Cars” competition coming up shortly. The upcoming “Bendigo Swap Meet” in mid-November, should provide plenty of opportunity to capture great Car photos for this, although I have a number so far.

OK, its been a long time since the last posting and adding a song to the Blog Post. So here is one which always struck a chord with me. REM and their “Losing My Religion”. Yep, lost it a long, long, long time ago.

. . . “All-Star” . . . JUST A DREAM, JUST A DREAM!!!


After quite a weekend of capturing new photos of both Melbourne and an amazing sunset last night at Lake Eppalock, a new format for the landing page at the website (the main gallery page) is available. Now the 100 best photos will display with a mix of scenes from Melbourne, Bendigo and Country Victoria.

In time, it is hoped that the range will grow even further afield and that there will be 100 distinct places not just in Victoria but around the East Coast of Australia. Slowly, slowly, bit-by-bit it is getting done, is a lot of fun to travel around to do this and it should make for a more interesting slide show at SJPhoto.com.au.

The Bendigo Scenic gallery is still available under the “Galleries” menu for a Bendigo only gallery slide show.

A great song to celebrate this expanding range of photography is Tina Turner’s “The Best”. Enjoy!

. . . well one photo is 🙂

Just joined up there today with this photo of the Beach Huts at Brighton Beach from 5 October, and within minutes I’ve had 33 views. Must be more people listening in on there from around the world than on Red Bubble. The nice thing about FineArtAmerica is that the moment you upload a new work, they send out a Tweet to the Twitter feed and a post to the Facebook page SJPhoto.com.au. Now this is very handy!

I guess, based on the name of the site, I’ll save my best stuff for over there as the artists seem to produce amazing artwork and photography. What is really good is that they provide a printable PDF sheet for each piece of artwork. Great for creating a sales listing book:


Anyway, so I’ve quickly snagged an FAA icon and created a new link on the Social Media Toolbar at the site (see below). Clicking on it (6th one from the left) will take you to my FineArtAmerica gallery in a new tab.

The main idea is that I am looking to expand my Panorama series of photos, and Red Bubble just doesn’t provide the framing flexibility to handle Pano’s. While expensive to ship from the US to Australia, Fine Art America handles these just fine, and who knows, someone in another country just might like a Panorama of a spot in Australia.

I’ve been mapping out some planned trips for more Panorama’s this summer. Google Maps is quite handy for this.


so hopefully I will get a chance to make it to them all, and find excellent lighting conditions at each spot.

Music time. For this one none other than the band “America” in honour of the new Panorama printing website discovery 🙂 Listened a lot to these guys growing up. Didn’t realise they were from the UK. Sons of American fathers and British mothers. Since 1982 was a good year, and I remember listening to this one a lot, most particularly around Vancouver in 1983, its the perfect song to go with.  Enjoy!

Such was to be the fate of one Francis Melville, born 1822 in Inverness, Scotland . . . no wonder he became a Bushranger.

By 1837 at the age of 15 he had committed the crime, and was sentenced to 7 years “Transportation”. I guess transportation in those days meant via an HMS ship and a oneway trip to Van Diemens Land.

After spending more than 10 years at Port Arthur, Tassie, by 1851 at the ripe old age of 29 he caught wind of the Gold find in Bendigo and made his way to Victoria.

It wasn’t long before he was in trouble with the law and he and his gang chose this spot as both a hideout and a lookout, the Melville Caves.

More can be discovered about Francis Melville both here:

Francis Melville Biography

and here:

Melville Caves

These photos were from last Friday night, and I must say he could have suffered isolation in a worse place. The sunset here was amazing and so peaceful.

A new Gallery has been created for the Melville Caves and I am anxious to get back there to explore the area further. Afterall the “Hand of Faith”, the largest gold nugget ever discovered with a metal detector, was found Kooyoora State Park, and not far from this spot.

Song for this one. While editing all the photos again I’ve been listening to CHOM FM in Montreal and this one seems to be getting a lot of air play of late. Canadian Band Moist and their song Mechanical.

“I see the world, Falling to pieces, Crumbling beneath us . . .” Uh-Huh, Uh-Huh.

Never mind . . . just get out and take more photos 🙂

A great opportunity to take advantage of the Springtime weather to get more photos of Melbourne this past weekend. Now 156 in the Gallery. Take a few moments to have a look, a sampling is provided with this post.

While doing so, why not have a listen to “The Who’s” latest release “Be Lucky”, a single to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Wow, 50 years and they are still sounding as good as they ever did.

Have a listen and Enjoy!

It’s never done and it always needs improving.

The Second Law of Website Development . . .

Don’t Sweat It, because it probably looks way better than it did a month ago!

I’ve got so much work to do on mine, and now that the great weather is here . . . Ugh!  No time.

It will get there when it’s meant to . . . Just give it up to Universe and Allow it to happen in time  as these things are designed and foretold in advance . . .  🙂

Wow Oh Wow . . . Just back from Melbourne, now 5 AM after dodging the Roo’s on the way back up the Calder (Such a lovely meal and conversation Susie, thank you!).  Daylight Savings is now in effect so we lost an hour this weekend (makes it much easier for dusk photoshoots actually, glad it’s happened) . . . and lookee here on 500px:


Just uploaded it yesterday morning, and already:

73 Views from Photographers around the world
5 Faves and
With a score of 80.9 (which means 500 px wants me to sell the high res image in their “Royalty Free” program)


But I’m just an amateur out for a bit of funning around to figure out the SONY NEX-7

If people only knew, I had just stepped outside of St. Pauls Cathedral after taking pics in there, saw the traffic rushing by and simply pointed and clicked hoping the Red Tram would somehow find its way into the center of the frame . . . A lucky one.

35 Number on the tram?  31.07.1959 = 35/8 Lifepath  😉  Was meant to happen!  Always take notice of such things and when they occur its not by accident  🙂  Couldn’t tell you the number of times I have been out for a Pub Meal and the Flag Number they’ve given me was an “8” . . . Usually its  a sign it will be a great meal!  In fact it happened last Friday night in Inglewood, after shooting the Melville Caves photos, stopped for a Pub Meal there, and the Hub Cap of a Chicken Parma they brought out was simply Delish!  Highly recommended, if you ever get to Inglewood.  I forget the name of the Pub, but its the only one open on the main drag from 6-8 PM and is packed with customers.

Addendum:  Check out the Clock on Flinders Street Station . . . Bahahahaha . . . What time is it?  What is 2 x 4?  Told You!  Phuneeeee.

Music time . . .

In keeping with the “I need to get back to Mt Franklin Soon Theme for Part 2 of 3”, and who knows maybe there will be a hotair balloon awaiting me there for the purrrfect photo opp this time around . . .  can you sense a Photoshop Gag coming?  😉 . . . and the fantastic weather coming up this next month (I So Love Springtime anywhere really, but most particularly in Australia), this song reminded me of today down in Melbourne while capturing the Beach Huts in Brighton along with the Melbourne Skyline in the background as the Sun Set over the Southern Ocean to my left (just wait till you see those pics, WOW!!!!  Looking fantastic in-Camera), and just what we’ve been waiting for these last 6 months!  Pure Magic!

Photographers Delight!

ELO and Jeff Lynne all those years ago and the promo Vid for Mr. Blue Sky.


This from last evening at the Melville Caves. What a spectacular vista and scene to shoot a Sunset HDR.

While awaiting the sun to be in the perfect position, one could hear the Cockatoo’s, the Corella’s and the Kookaburra’s in the valley below singing in unison. A small bushfire during the day was casting the smell of burnt gum throughout the valley as well. What a perfect setting.

Now hopefully the HDR will turn out just as perfectly.  Would have liked to arrive a bit earlier so as to get set up sooner, a bit of a climb to get into position over rocky ground, but I suppose I can always go back should this one not turn out.

Trey Ratcliff’s video below describes the capture and post-processing techniques, which motivated me to find just this exact type of spot to practice on, and when I spotted it up at the Melville Caves last night I thought wow perfect! Fingers crossed it will turn out just as good as the ones in his video when finished.

Monday was a Black Swan Event day for me and it was a lot of fun because those Black Swan Cygnets we saw 4-5 weeks back are much larger now, incredibly so I thought.

A few definitions. You probably already know this, but a new learner here so lets review:

An adult female black swan is called a “Pen”

An adult male black swan is called a “Cob”

And of course the 3 youngin’s, which is fairly common for Black Swans, are called “Cygnets”. I think it’s one male and two females based on their size but can’t be totally sure.

Interesting fact, when they choose to fly, which I can’t imagine is very often, they can fly at speeds of up to 80 kph with their 6 foot wide wingspans. Wow, that is impressive.

So down by the Rowing Shed Monday, along came the Black Swans and coincidentally I just happened to be there. What a lucky coincidence for a photo shooting expedition. When they walk, it seems they lumber along with deliberate steps, but gee when they choose to attack they can be very quick . . . so I knew I had to be quiet to capture them from very close and not seem threatening . . . these are very territorial creatures afterall.

Ended up with way too many photos for Bendigo Scenic, because I already have heaps of the Lake photos and these Black Swans, but it was so much fun I thought I would add them temporarily to the portfolio. A separate gallery has been created with 81 photos. Each is roughly half a megabyte so with 40 MBytes, its best to let it load a while and then browse. It is setup sequentially to tell the story.

Actually, its what Mr. Cob got up to that has me laughing still.

The fellow at the rowing boat shed said “Normally they are very territorial, but don’t worry about this lot, they won’t attack”. So I was able to nestle in quite close and have a chance for some real close-up shots as you wil see. By shot “Black Swan Event 13” I still thought I was done for.

The scroller in this Blog post has quite a few of those shots, but so as to see exactly what happened I have created a separate gallery with all the photos in chronological order . . . It was quite funny actually.

As the events unfolded (Black Swan Event 36), Mrs. Pen was very mindful to be right close to the Cygnets, while Mr. Cob chose to head off and chase his reflection in a Black SUV . . . funny.

Seems Mr. Cob reckoned there was another Male Black Swan lurking very close by that needed a careful eye on.

At one stage Pen glanced over (Black Swan Event 40) and was thinking “Oh Cob you duffer, that’s a car, come on the little ones are getting away from us”

Then at “Black Swan Event 58” Pen finally turned around and thought “Hey, where did everyone go?” From there it was a bit of a dash back to the lake but not before chasing a Magpie with its magnificent wings fully expanded (Darn, missed that shot!)

Anyway, check out the great shots and have a listen to tonight’s music . . . what else but none other than the Sound Track to Black Swan and “Perfection” . . . which actually runs about the same length of the time as the Gallery Slideshow, nice!


You know since I put a big effort into this website in the past 6 weeks or so, I have now had 3 people approach me indicating that they have been into Photography for a long time and seeing what I have been able to do with this website they are motivated to get back into their passion.  One has taken steps to order a new Camera, another has jumped back into Photoshop and the third is digging hard into WordPress and researching Photography Templates at Envato’s ThemeForest.  This makes me very happy!

Well why not consider also applying to join at “The Arcanum” and have a Master mentor you and your work?  Of course keep following my blog, because I’m going to continue offering tidbits which will help as well, but yeah check out this site:


an initiative of Trey Ratcliff, the fellow who’s HDR photography and tutorials and discussion of the Sony NEX-7 Mirrorless camera convinced me this was something I just had to explore further:

I applied today, and hopefully one day will find myself as one of the Master’s doing the mentoring. Lots of work between here and there however, but along the journey it should be a chance to connect with some of the real masters in the Photography world.

Speaking of Masters, I’ve always found Serge Ramelli to be excellent to watch and learn from. He provides excellent tips on Lightroom, Photoshop and techniques for capturing great photos: