What I love about the sea is the fact that it is never the same from one day to the next.
If my last trip out was cruising along a new motorway with smooth roads and plush suspension, then this trip was off-roading after torrential rain had dug pot holes and rendered some areas impassable. It was the same place but barely recognisable.
It might be calm off the beach or further out to sea but up against the cliffs, the swell bounces back and collides with itself creating a veritable washing machine of waves going in every direction (I’m thinking top loader rather than front loader here), It’s a challenge to keep your balance and a good time to use a smaller camera.
The current and the wind always seem to draw you in the one direction you don’t want to go and that would be towards the rocks on a day like today, but that of course is where the better shots lie.
The ironic things is that if you want to escape the turmoil, you need to paddle further out to sea but a portion of your brain is telling you you should be paddling back to shore.
Taking pictures in this is like drinking coffee whilst driving over a cattle grid.
3.30 am feels a bit harsh when you wake up in a panic trying to silence the alarm before it wakes anyone else, you inevitably knock something over and then lie there perfectly still assessing the damage with a pulse of about 180. So I bought a vibrating watch hoping it would ease me into the day without a pressure check on my heart valves.
It works well as long as you don’t sleep with you arm under your head, don’t try it, just take my word for it.
Paddling out of the bay in the dark, you never know what the day will bring, but as the sun starts to come up and the light levels rise, your brains starts to calculate what it all means, I guess it dawns on you so to speak.
I know in that half-light whether I should be winding in my lines and preparing the camera or sticking with the task at hand. It’s the toughest decision of the morning as the best time for photography is also the best time to be fishing.
Today I could see the silhouettes of the heavy black clouds appearing from the shadows and I knew it would be the type of light I love., the contrast between the dark clouds and the clear blue patches always makes the water look like liquid metal.
You could be ready for this on land, tripod set up and a cup of coffee keeping your hands warm but the rule book is a bit different bobbing around on a kayak, the sea rocks you side to side, the swell rolls you up and down and the wind and currents spin you around, you paddle to straighten up and disturb the water around you and when it settles the moment has gone.
Fish or no fish, it’s a magic time to be out on the water.
A quick post to join the hundreds of images buzzing around the internet as Sydney gets covered in smoke from the bush fires.
More than 100 fires burning over NSW and 80 kph winds to fuel them.
Fantastic light, coffee brown with a bright red sun.
It looks good when it’s not in your neighborhood.
Hopefully you don’t get tired of whale shots, it’s seasonal so don’t worry it will be over soon.
This year they have put on a spectacular show by coming close to shore, probably the best I’ve seen in about six years.
Usually I’ll see one on a kayak trip but yesterday morning they were everywhere, I saw at least four mothers with calves, one with twins.
Before the sun comes up it is a bit perturbing as you can hear them but you’re not sure where they are or if you’re on their flight path.
I was there to catch dinner so I tried to avoid them but eventually I just sat back and enjoyed the show.
Another event going on at the moment is the huge number of very hungry Mutton Birds (Sooty Shearwaters) that are heading down the coast on their return from a quick lap of the pacific rim.
These birds are starving and once they find you, you end up with a gang of them following you around like puppy dogs and attacking anything they think might be edible.
Not content with harassing you on the surface they’ll dive down to 20m to attack your bait, it would be nice to feed them but I suspect they would follow you home.
Dinner from the food chain is a lot more stimulating than dinner from the supermarket chain.
Car fully loaded with kids, dogs, kayaks etc, we were heading south to Currarong for the long weekend.
My daughter mentioned she had an art project on and could we take some photographs, so knowing how full our days would be with walking, kayaking swimming and eating, I thought I would swing by the studio and grab one of those three-legged things that can extend your day by several hours.
Sure enough time was short, you come back from these trips exhausted as you try to cram a summer holiday into a long weekend. Early mornings were booked up by the kayak and that was followed by hikes and swims, so one evening we headed out to see what we could create.
Bringing the tripod was a bonus but the list of things we didn’t bring seemed to grow with each idea we had, no cable release, no timer, no flash etc etc etc.
So armed with a camera, tripod and a torch we managed to have a bit of fun and expand Maiya’s concept of what a camera is and what it does.
Deciding whether a series of shots should be black and white or colour used to be so much easier with the prior commitment of buying film. This series felt like it should be B+W as we were shooting but it is a tough call having to make that decision later as the shots will always have merits in both camps.
trees and stars
With a warm, windless day forecast, I should have known that Malabar would buck the trend and do its own thing.
The westerly wind was freezing, I kept glancing at my feet to check they were still with me.
I headed straight out of the bay to be in front of the cliffs before the sun came up and in hope of finding some shelter from the wind.
I couldn’t get close to the cliffs as the swell was running on just the right angle for the waves to bounce off and break on their return out to sea.
The birds were all heading south like they had some hot intel, and it must have been accurate because I didn’t see a fish all morning.
The morning was not without excitement though.
Whilst trying for squid in the deeper water off the cliffs I had seen a humpback plume as it headed south, a few minutes later I saw what I thought was a pod of dolphins charging towards me but as I was going for the camera I realised it was the whale. I got one shot in before I had to drop the camera and grab the paddle, not that I had anywhere to go mind you.
It dived and veered off as part of what seemed to be a game of chicken. She won, I crapped myself.
I’ve seen whales from the kayak before but never had one charge me.
In the cropped photo you can see a baby with it, so maybe it was a warning or maybe my hat was offensive but it was dark when I left and who’d notice.
Either way, message delivered, they continued on their way south.
Going with the obvious flow I headed south, if nothing else a paddle might warm me up.
Heading across the front of the bay a sound caught my attention and I looked over to see a huge boil in the water on my left, something grey and white and very large was swimming under me close enough to rock the kayak and test my balance.
My sphincter was back on high alert but only for a brief moment as what I presume to be a pilot whale surfaced beside me, (long thing body with a disproportionately small fin on it’s back).
There were at least two of them and they crisscrossed under the kayak as I paddled, a real buzz to have them interacting with me, unfortunately when I stopped paddling to get the camera my tenuous hold on their attention was lost and I was only left with the memory.
That was enough excitement for one day so I headed in, picking up a couple of squid for dinner on the way.
Stuck in Sydney traffic shortly after didn’t seem possible.
back wash from the cliffs
yacht heading in to Sydney
baby to right of picture
After a few months off the kayak due to a back injury it was time to get back on the horse and see how it rode.
Amazing how much dust your kayak and fishing gear collects just to remind you that it hasn’t been used, so it was dusted and ready to go.
A late start with no fishing or camera gear would be the best way to focus on paddling and see how things felt but then again maybe just one rod………
So at 9 am I hit the water on a glorious spring day and with two rods but no gps, camera (i did have the phone), fish bag, net etc etc etc, some of these intentionally and others not.
The plan was a short paddle to test the physical capabilities, but birds way off in the distance meant that plan got left behind with all the other non essentials.
On reaching the birds I could see salmon everywhere. The back dealt with the paddle okay so time to see how it went on a fish.
A 62cm salmon was not the warm up I was after but what the hell, you might as well find out if something’s going to break from the get go.
Three more of these and I had ended up off Maroubra so it was time to paddle back.
There was something big powering through the salmon and reeking havoc, probably a shark but without seeing a fin I’ll go with the preferred idea of a big kingfish.
I may have been a bit stiff afterwards but what a small price to pay for the experience.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the clear blue skies we’ve been having and everything that comes with it, BUT it just doesn’t inspire me visually like a good black cloud does.
This lot was rolling in last night when i walked the dog, the first shot I took seemed to have the clouds on attack and the trees fending them off, once I noticed it, it was everywhere, sort of war of the worlds in the local park.
The dog does gives me that ‘bugger’ look when I grab the camera , he should be grateful I didn’t have a tripod with me, we could have been there all night, but hey it’s a dog’s life and as I pointed out to him, there is always the rescue home.
Blue sky this morning so I guess the trees won.
When you strap a camera sideways on the back of your head it can be tricky to get the angle right.
What a contrast to my last few posts, this is Sydney winter at it’s best. July and the water is still up around 18ºc.
There aren’t that many days when it is calm enough to swim along the cliffs, so when one comes along you have to grab it.
We swam south past Wylies Baths to the headland where we could catch a glimpse south along the coast.
Swimming out never bothers me but I can’t help but feel I’m being followed on the way back, this is improving my speed no end.
Plenty of fish to see but trying to get a shot of them nearly put my neck out.
Coffee never tasted so good.