Tag Archives: Lounge

Australia Day 2017: Mudgee

For the Australia Day weekend, we decided to take a trip to Mudgee for a few days.

Mudgee is a large regional town in the central west of New South Wales, and it is a three-to-four-hour drive from Sydney.

The main purpose of the trip, other than getting away for a few days, was wine and wineries; but naturally, I packed my default photography rig, with the intention of capturing some of the sights of Mudgee at twilight.

We based ourselves at the Cobb & Co Court Boutique Hotel, where our deluxe queen room provided fantastic accommodation, as seen in this image of the separate lounge in our room:

Cobb & Co Court Boutique Hotel - Deluxe Queen Room Lounge

Cobb & Co Court Boutique Hotel – Deluxe Queen Room Lounge

After dinner and a nice bottle of Mudgee red, we took a two-minute walk down Market Street to St Mary of the Presentation Catholic Church, which I had spotted and trial-photographed earlier in the day, and identified as my primary photographic subject for later that evening.

During the ‘blergh hour’ (my name for the scungy, drab light in between golden hour and evening twilight), I set up my camera and tripod, and composed the view I wanted to capture.  It was just a matter of time before the light would be right.

As it was Australia Day, the streets were practically empty, except for us and three late-teenage or early twenty-something boys who graced us with their presence as they continued upon their mission to become inebriated.

After a few laughs and a photo I captured of the lads standing in front of the church, they departed in search of more alcohol and a good time, and I set about capturing my image.

Here is the result:

St Mary of the Presentation Catholic Church, Mudgee

St Mary of the Presentation Catholic Church, Mudgee

I found my new Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM lens to be an excellent lens for capturing this scene, as the leading line of the path draws the eye towards the imposing spire of the church a short distance away.

Very soon after photographing the church, I turned around 180 degrees and crossed the road onto the roundabout at the intersection of Market Street and Church Street.  On this roundabout is Mudgee‘s clock tower, a central feature of the town.

I found it difficult to photograph the clock tower with my 14mm lens, as it was just too wide — something I am not generally known to say or experience!

There was too much visual pollution due to street lights, the street itself and other unsightly subject matter; I just wanted the clock tower in a nice, clean image, or at least with pleasing surroundings.  I switched lenses, opting for my Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM, which I have not used since mid-2014!

Here is the image I captured as the evening twilight became more rich and intense:

Mudgee Clock Tower

Mudgee Clock Tower

After capturing this image, we headed back across the road to St Mary of the Presentation Catholic Church, where I shot some quirky angles of the stonework, looking up towards the royal blue sky.  (I have not processed any of those images at the time of writing.)

After a few more shots around Mudgee, we headed back to our hotel as the evening twilight gave way to the darkness of night.

The next day was all about wine, but we did venture out after dinner for another twilight photoshoot, which I found frustratingly difficult, as I could not achieve a pleasing composition.

The subjects I wanted to photograph looked great with my own eyes, but through my lenses, a combination of proximity and surrounding subject matter resulted in no pleasing compositions.  I did capture a few images, but by and large, I was not content.

Never the less, it was a great few days away, and we came away with more than just a few pleasing images.


Highlights of Jenolan Caves

In May we headed to Jenolan Caves for a few days as a getaway.  That was almost two months ago, but time has sure flown since then.

We drove down to Jenolan on Thursday, and had two cave tours booked for the day.

After arriving mid-morning, we soon headed to our tour of the Lucas Cave, where spectacular calcite crystal formations awaited our viewing pleasure.

Shawls of the Lucas Cave

Shawls of the Lucas Cave

These incredible calcite crystal formations are called shawls.

Developing over hunderds of thousands of years, rainwater seeping through cracks in the limestone rock follows the surface of the rock shelf and grows outwards, layer upon layer, forming delicate and often wide shawl structures.

One of the other feature formations in the Lucas Cave is called “The Curtain”.

The Curtain

The Curtain

One can see why this amazing, ancient feature is so named, as it very much resembles the subject of its title.

No visit to the Lucas Cave is complete without seeing the Broken Column, which is one of the iconic sights at Jenolan Caves.

The Broken Column

The Broken Column

This feature is incredibly difficult to photograph, as the chamber is very dark and the lights highlighing the column are exceedingly bright relative to the dark surrounds, thus causing parts of the feature to blow out where the light reflects most strongly against the calcite crystal.

In a perfect world, one would use a tripod and shoot seven to nine exposures to blend using HDR techniques, but alas, as tripods are not permitted inside the caves, all of my cave photography was achieved hand-held with fast lenses and higher-than-comfortable (for me) ISO settings.

After our visit to the Lucas Cave, I took the opportunity during some free time to photograph the lounge inside Caves House, where we stayed.

This is one of the views inside the warm and welcoming lounge:

Caves House Lounge

Caves House Lounge

In this interior image of this magnificent Edwardian building, one side of the lounge can be seen, featuring the piano in the corner.

The lounge also includes some other tables and chairs and a warm fireplace — a perfect place for a rest with a glass or two of fine red wine after a day out exploring the caves and bush trails in the area.

This is another view of the lounge at Caves House:

A Place to Relax

A Place to Relax

In the corner is a fireplace which was kept running by the staff, providing for a nice place to relax after a day of cave exploration.

During the late part of the afternoon, we headed outside for our second cave tour, which took us inside the Temple of Baal cave, a cavernous and highly decorated cave, and one of my favourite.

Here is a view of the elaborate calcite crystal formations inside the Temple of Baal Cave:

Temple of Baal Cave

Temple of Baal Cave

Later during the tour, we got to see the main attractions of the Temple of Baal Cave — Michael’s Sword and Gabriel’s Wing — both of which are positioned in close proximity within one of the larger chambers in the cave.

Gabriel's Wing

Gabriel’s Wing

Our first day concluded some twilight photography followed by dinner at Chisolm’s restaurant where a delicious steak and a fine shiraz were enjoyed.

The next day, we had three cave tours ahead of us.

Friday began with breakfast in Chisolm’s Restaurant, followed by a walk in the mountains, where we saw Carlotta Arch, the Devil’s Coach House, and the Blue Lake.

Our first cave tour on Friday morning was the Orient Cave, one of the popular show caves at Jenolan.

This magnificent cave chamber, adorned with calcite crystal stalactites, is one of the highlights of the Orient Cave.

The stalactites are formed by slowly dripping water over thouands and millions of years.

Chamber of the Orient

Chamber of the Orient

Our second cave tour of the day was inside the Chifley Cave.  This was the shortest cave tour, and photographically, it didn’t offer as much as the other caves.

After this tour, we had lunch and a few hours before embarking upon a tour of the Diamond Cave.

One of the most interesting features is a formation I call “City Walls”.

City Walls

City Walls

This city-like arrangement of stalagmites appears inside the Diamond Cave.

The Diamond Cave, which is one of the show cave tours, consists of the Imperial Cave (itself a separate show cave tour), plus an extra 30 minutes inside what is called the Diamond Cave.

In this image, the formations in the foreground resemble a mountain ridge on the outskirts of an ancient city whose walls appear deeper in the image.

After our tour of the Diamond Cave, at twilight I had planned to re-visit the location where I had photographed Caves House on the previous evening, as the timing of our late afternoon cave tour meant that I arrived at the tail end of twilight, by which time most of the royal blue colour in the sky had faded.

Our Diamond Cave tour finished 30 minutes earlier than our tour on the previous afternoon, so I scrambled back to our room to fetch my gear, and headed outside into the cold night air, where I captured this image of Caves House:

Edwardian Twilight

Edwardian Twilight

We had dinner reservations at Chisolm’s Restaurant again, so I headed inside and a fantastic dinner was soonafter enjoyed.

Saturday, our final day at Jenolan Caves, saw only one cave tour, followed by the long trip home.

Our last cave tour was also the longest in duration, and most physically demanding of all of the show cave tours: the River Cave.

This cave requires lots of stair climbing, which we didn’t mind at all.

The River Cave features a stunning formation called the Giant Shawl.

The Giant Shawl

The Giant Shawl

This calcite crystal formation, called a shawl, has been named the Giant Shawl, and is one of the main features of the River Cave.

Shawls develop over hunderds of thousands of years, whereby rainwater seeping through cracks in the limestone rock follows the surface of the rock shelf and grows outwards, layer upon layer, forming delicate and often wide shawl structures.

The Giant Shawl is quite a few metres in height, and in this beautiful backlighting, the rich colours, affected by iron, can be seen.

Later during the River Cave tour, we saw the main highlight of this cave: the Pool of Reflections.

Pool of Reflections

Pool of Reflections

The water inside the River Cave system is so still that it produces a mirror effect.

On our way out of the River Cave, we got to visit this scene again, and soonafter, our Jenolan Caves getway had reached its conclusion.

I hope readers enjoy this pictorial account of the several relaxing days we spent there, and Jenolan Caves is a place I’d recommend visiting and photographing.

As tripods are not permitted, all photography must be conducted hand-held, with the use of railings for support.  Thus, I recommend bringing fast lenses (I shot all of my images with my 35/1.4 and 85/1.2) and using higher ISO settings to achieve sharp images, as the caves, despite the bright feature lighting, can be difficult to photograph.