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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Carla - Queen of the Murchison

Two weeks ago two busloads of photographers and artists rolled into the old gold mining town of Cue 650 kilometres north of Perth. I had a bit of a feeling of deja vu as we pitched tents in the Cue Caravan Park. Forty years earlier in 1974 I had led a bunch of 24 TAFE photography students from Mt Lawley Technical College to Cue and Daydawn for a week long photography excursion. How I returned with all 24 students alive is beyond me. At one stage three 17 year olds went missing. I found them at the bottom of a vertical mine shaft pushing an old rail trolley along in pitch blackness.

So here I was back in Cue with a bunch of very respectable, mature age photographers and another bunch of even more respectable artists with easels and watercolours led by renowned watercolourist Ross Patterson.

While the painters painted, the photographers engaged in historical architecture in Cue's main street. Austin Street is wide enough to fit the MCG and Subiaco Oval side by side. Its  lined with wonderful old historical stone, wooden and galvanised iron buildings.  There's abandoned shops, the old bank of NSW and the Queen of the Queen of the Murchison Hotel.

I spotted a small throng of people on the upstairs balcony of the Queen of  Murchison Hotel which is now a charming old B & B. When we finished the worksop I wandered inside the front door of the 'Queen', and then opened another door which rang a bell.

All was quiet when another 'Belle' arrived - a blonde Belle. Her eyes lit up when she saw an old  photographer with camera and tripod, covered in red dust.

'This is NOT a public thoroughfare!
 Would you please leave now' was 'Belles' opening salvo.

A bit a f a jolt. Not exactly a warm greeting.
'I'm sorry' I said
'I saw you standing on the balcony and would really love to photograph you'
Her stern face faded instantly.
'Why?' she asked
'I just think you have such an interesting face. Are you the owner or manager here?'
She gave me a watermelon sized smile.
'I suppose so. I've been in the movies you know. And three years ago I was crowned Queen of the Murchison, my name is Carla.'
I shook Carla's hand.
'That's great. Can I have a look at the other rooms. I would like to get some good lighting on your face'.
She led  me down a  passage, through an atrium, passed her collection of Harley Davidsons and into a dining area.
'This would be great just here. The lighting is really good for you/
She beamed.
'I was given a tiara when I was crowned Queen of the Murchison. Would you like me to wear my tiara?'
Now I beamed
'Of course! A tiara would be perfect.
After all, you are a Queen'

ps The pub has no beer. But it does have Carla.
pss Next time I visid CueI plan to stay at the Queen of the Murchison!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Red Dirt

Our old bus was called 'Ernest Giles' after the explorer.
'Ernie', as Sharon affectionately called him had covered more than three million kilometres - not bad for an old boy with a dodgy clutch and what looks like a bullet hole in the windscreen.
As Sharon crunched through the gears on the 'crash' box (no modern fangled mamsy pamsy synchromesh here thank you!!) she urged Ernie on affectionaly 'Comnon Ernie, you can do it; Good boy Ernie I knew you could'.
We all grew accustomed to Ernie. So much so that when Sharon announced that the photographers were to transfer the sleek, modern state-of-the-arty MAN bus there was a resounding chorus of 'NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!'

We all came to love Ernie as he galumped comfortably and confidently down along the corrugated, dusty road red dirt bush roads, past Dooley Downs and on to Cobra Station.

*I believe they even named a milkman after Ernie. Click HERE to listen to 'Ernie'

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The irrepressible Aurelie

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The irrepressible Aurelie
She was our favorite model on tour - the most photographed person on tour! Aurelei was also the busiest person on tour producing a prolific quantity of images and artist pages. Often seen, brush in hand, trying to meet her quota over the noon and evening meal.

This was taken at Python pool; just before The Python arrived to take back his/her pool.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Honeycomb Gorge - Pilbara - Western Australia

Worldwide copyright applies to all images on this blog. The copyright belongs to the individual photographers. All rights are reserved. Persons wishing to use any images on this blog should in the first instance make application to

Honeycomb Gorge Photographers 2013
Back rowL-R: Cathy Taylor, Peter Randell, Maureen Thornton, Sue Moss, Carol Ware, Ray Moss, Sue Clarke, Rob Lewis, Paul Bastian, Tony Luha, Aurelie Yeo, Ric Butcher, Jill Luha
Middle row: Dale Neill, Kath Fordham
Front row:   Veronica & Barry Winterbourn, Gerhard Saueracker,  Heather Butcher    

Its late afternoon at Honeycomb Gorge in the Pilbara. We've got good at setting up bush camps and tents in record time. But we bend three out of four tent pegs in the gibber plain. There's a few colourful medical phrases, especially when someone mistakes their thumb fr a tent pole.

I'm proud of my intrepid photographers. They've suffered the slings and arrows of my stories and jokes. Better than that they've heeded a few of my tips and are producing some innovative images. Every third night we have a photography Show and Tell powered by Honda generators.

The more red we drink the better the photos look.

And we all enjoyed honey at Honeycomb Gorge!

Want to learn more about photography without eating red dust. Click HERE for details of Dale Neill photography courses at UWA Extension.

Dump Truck to Nowhere

In  the middle of nowhere - well the middle of the Pilbara - barely a tree in sight - red dust and stony ground  and we came across an abandoned dump truck.

What happened? Did they run out of fuel? Was this a case of stolen dump truck? The 'Mary Celeste' of trucks was surely this sad forlorn creature. The seats were ragged but the hydraulics were shiny chome like they were used that morning. (Worms-eye view on my Fuji X100)

Bus Stop - and MAN lights

On the way back to our campsite we paused for a sunset shoot inthe spinifix and snappy gum and more red dirt

MAN headlights
Just before we boarded the MAN bus I asked the driver Barry to turn the headlights on and snapped this shot handheld on my little Fuji X100 - one of my favourite little cameras.

Paynes Find

Artist, Joanne Payne at Paynes Find
Payne's Find is now just an iconic little roadhouse 430 kilometres north-east of Perth. Named after Thomas Payne who discovered gold there the town was gazetted in 1911 and boasted a population of 500 and a gold battery built.

They make really good chicked pies at Paynes Find. When I asked the lady behind the bar where they got their chickens she said 'Don't ask'

Ibis at Mt Augustus

Circling Ibis

Mt Augustus gave us a very big rock - and our first bed in 10 days and a hot shower. Being undomesticated I thought maybe I should try a spot of washing - socks and other unmentionables were four days mature. I bought the washing powder and threw all my dusty, sweaty red daks into the machine along with Ross Patterson longuns.

When I returned an hour later all my clothes had disappeared. Bugger! But there was a pile of other freshly washed clothes - shorts, t shirts, a Docker's shirt and a dangly black bra. Next morning I plied my trade going from caravan to caravan looking for the owner. Eventually, at caravan no 26 a delighted Docker's supporter and his braless wife looked ecstatic as Iu delivered their washing and I retrieved mine. 

After lunch I was running a photo workshop when the Ibis started circling overhead. They soared in the thermals and waves of the birds weaved and overlapped in a graceful aerial ballet.

Bush Camp - Pilbara Star

There were open roads, red dust and snappy gums.

And at night there was quiet and clear, starry skies.

No rush, no bustle, no traffic, no pollution. Just me and my camera and the night.

Bush Camp - Pilbara

Hamersley Gorge - never let a chance go by

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Hamersley Gorge

I was running a photo workshop at Hamersley Gorge when a tourist appeared on a ledge in my pic. Rather than shoo her out of the way I yelled out asked her to pose. She was great! However, when I asked her to do a 'Toyota' jump she gracefully declined.

Fern Pool - Karijini

Worldwide copyright applies to all images on this blog. The copyright belongs to the individual photographers. All rights are reserved. Persons wishing to use any images on this blog should in the first instance make application to

Fern Pool - Karijini

Nestled in the dense trees between Fortescue Falls and Fern Pool area  cluster of entwined tree roots. The walk down is category 3 (my limit) but the swim at the end is worth it. With a warm waterfall pummelling my shoulders and head it drowned out the rest of the world.

The Fern Pool waterfalls ....

Monday, August 26, 2013

The "Dale" method

Dale certainly knows how to get a different perspective on his group photos. By the end of the tour it was the accepted photo differentiator method :)

This is the other end of a morning landscape shoot group photo

Worldwide copyright applies to all images on this blog. The copyright belongs to the individual photographers. All rights are reserved. Persons wishing to use any images on this blog should in the first instance make application to

Monday, July 29, 2013

Photographer's jacket

This is Peter Randell's well-wornversion of the great helper. 

"I can fit a 70-200 lens in the loose flaps on one side and the 24-120 in the other,with battery&memory card in a velcro breast pocket.Other pocket fits a 77mm polariser and big low pockets take the Lee GND filters and holder.If it rains,I have thrust the body  inside the lot too.The body is at risk of swinging and hitting something still with a vest;but I wear the neck strap fairly short. I will send  a 122KB image if this one is too small."

Tips for Outback Photographers

Dick Stein and staff at  Camera Electronic are a font of knowledge when it comes to gadgets and gizmos to make your photography tour just that bit more pleasurable and rewarding.  Ask Dick anything about photography ... (but don't ask him to cook for you!)

Participants in Dale Neill’s Karigini adventures will need to take a number of things on their trip – some will be big items like suitcases and giant camera backpacks, but there are a also a few smaller items that will prove invaluable on the daily bushwalks. See if you can find space in your luggage for some of these:

1.       Rainsleeve camera and lens protectors – two in a packet and good protection for the sudden shower.
2.       A remote release – look at your camera manual and see if it can be set off with either a wireless or cable release. Good for night-time exposures and close-up shots.
3.       A packet of bread crumbs. Lay a trail of these behind you as you leave camp and if Dale gets lost you just turn around and find your way back. Avoid gingerbread houses.
4.       A lightweight tripod. If you have a lightweight camera. Remember that you can have cheap, lightweight, small, and strong, but only two of these at any one time...
5.       A portable power inverter that can run off the cigar lighter – produce 230vAC or a 2.1A USB port. Film shooters can laugh now.
6.       Lowepro Dryzone DF20L camera bag. Impervious to rain or dust and bright yellow so you can see it in the dusk.

Extra memory cards are always a good idea. Not for the off-chance that one will go wrong – they rarely do that. Take them as primary storage and just fill them as you go. You can download to various memory devices as you shoot but taking extra gear and items that can get dusty or wet is not as good an idea as just taking extra memory. It is so inexpensive these days that you really do not need to scrimp on it. By all means get one of the Pelican or Gepe memory card cases – they are sealed items that can survive any amount of bush treatment.

Also remember to turn on all the recording options on your camera to let you know later what you did then. Dale will explain the EXIF data that goes into every image and the various programs – like Lightroom or Aperture that let you see it later. You may find that you do indeed need to know when the sun went down over the ocean at the end of a particular day and if you caught it on the horizon your camera will tell you when. If upon later examination you find that your sunset is over the eastern shore at 4:30 AM you can discuss basic navigation with Dale...remember the breadcrumbs...

Available from Camera Electronic  230 Stirling St Perth. Tel 9328 4405  

Friday, July 26, 2013

ThinkTank Camera Bags

At the Outback workshop last Sunday we discussed the advantages of having a smaller camera bag as well as your main camera bag. The smaller camera bag is a plus if trekking a fair distance and particularly in hilly terrain and broken ground.

Rob Lewis researched the ThinkTank Retrospective 30 and 40 models. ThinkTank is a good brand and these bags are professional quality and a little larger. Prices are around $200.
Available from Camera Electronic 230 Stirling St, Perth WA 6000
Phone:(08) 9328 4405

Kata bag for single DSLR


Access-16 PL
$59 incl. GST

Info & pics below:

Carrying Options
Access your camera quick and clean by using the quick access flap. Carry across your shoulder using the provided shoulder strap or comfortably on your belt with the rear belt loops.

When needed the bag can be elongated by unzipping a bottom extension for carrying your lens with sun hood attached when shooting. (please note that the extension is not padded and extra caution is advised when this is in use).

This bag can be ordered from Team Digital (allow one week min from order date):

268 Lord Street,
East Perth
W.A 6000

Lowepro Bag for single DSLR

Following our discussion at the Outback workshop I'm recommending that all photographers have a small bag for a single camera and zoom lens in addition to their main bag. Its safer and easier traversing rough tracks in Karinjini with the minimum bag size.

Passport Sling II
$78 incl. GST

Info & pics below:

• Discreet sling bag design offers a modern and versatile way to carry camera and personal gear without looking like a typical photo bag
• Customisable and removable camera box provides a custom fit and protection for a DSLR kit; remove box to use sling without camera gear — it makes a great travel companion and collapses flat to fit in a larger bag for packing
• Expandable compartment allows you to unzip and increase interior storage space by 30%
• Water bottle pocket provides  a convenient spot to keep hydration at hand
• Detachable shoulder pad offers extra comfort no matter where placed along shoulder strap; remove for a more streamlined, stylish look
• Bright, contrasting lining provides visibility to gear
• Adjustable shoulder strap with cam lock buckle offers a comfortable way to wear sling over shoulder or across body, high or low

DSLR with attached zoom lens
1 extra lens or flash
Water bottle and personal items

This bag can be ordered from Team Digital (allow one week min from order date):

268 Lord Street,
East Perth
W.A 6000
(08) 9328 3377

About Dale Neill

I know some of the participants on The Art and Photography Outback tour well and others I have just met, so a little bit of background about me.

I took my first photograph when I was six with an illicitly acquired box brownie camera. Even then, I was fascinated with cameras and the process of photography. In 1959 I worked all summer holidays and bought my first camera - a Hanimex C35 35mm rangefinder camera. It had a top speed of 1/250 sec and i thought it was the pinnacle in technology.

I missed out on a job as a  cadet photographer with the West Australian in 1962 and entered Graylands Teachers College. As a teacher my first posting was to Halls Creek in the Kimberley in 1964 where i proceeded to photograph (and teach) all kids in the school and half the people in the tiny outback town.

photo by Dafna Lambert at FACEZ Studio
In 1964, together with three teachers from Balgo Mission I drove an old Holden station wagon from Halls Creek to Balgo, across the Great Sandy Desert to Alice Springs. I carried  my newly acquired Canon FP SLR. The four of us were stranded in the desert on the return trip and almost didn't make it back.

In 1968, newly married to Margaret, we were posted as the first Government teachers to Lombadina Mission near Cape Leveque. Once again I photographed the kids, community and environs and made 8m movies as well as teaching more than 80 kids.

In the next few years I finished a degree at university, qualified as a pro photography through TAFE and secured my first teaching position in professional photography. I had short stints setting up professional videoconferencing and TAFE's first TV station.

Back in 1998 I led my first overseas photography tour and in 2001 formed Wildheart, running workshops, coaching pros and amateurs and teaching at UWA Extension.

In 2005 I covered the rescue of children orphaned by the tsunami in Andreh Pradesh in India and won the WA Professional photographer of the Year with the images.

These days I'm in partnership in FACEZ Fine Art Portrait Studio, run photography workshops and tours in Australia and overseas, teach at UWA and run a consultancy for merging professional photographers. In 2012 I helped set up the Fremantle International Portrait Prize which in 2013 attracted 1760 entries from 29 countries and raised nearly $30,000 for the Arthritis Foundation of WA.

I make time each week to be a coffee aficionado in the Freo's Cappucino strip and pedal my push bike along the Swan River every second day.

Sensor Swabs

No, we're not doing random drug tests on participants so you're not going to get swabbed!

An alternative to forking out about $200 for an Arctic Butterfly is buying a packet of CCD swabs.
Eking is a brand recommended by Rob Lewis.

Visible Dust also has a large range of sensor swabs. Visible Dust also provides a table so you can selecr a swab that exactly fits your sensor size.

Arctic Butterfly

The Arctic Butterfly is a sophisticated high-tech brush for cleaning the sensor on a DSLR. I've used Arctic Butterflies for a number of years and can recommend the product. However, you do need instructions on how to use the device!

Obviously its a good idea not to get dust on your sensor in the first place. Here are a couple of tips to minimise your chance of getting dust spots:

  • Avoid lens changes in dusty conditions
  • Learn to do a lens change in less than 5 seconds
  • Keep camera body facing down when changing lenses
  • Keep the sensor cleaner turned on inside camera

Lightweight Portable back-up for Photos

Thanks to all Karijini photographers who attended the Outback Photo Workshop at Rosie O'Grady's in Fremantle last Sunday. Lively, interactive worksop with lots of good ideas exchanged. We are all looking forward to a great outback tour in a few weeks.

One of the best tips came from Rob Lewis on backing up your images while on tour in the outback. Rob uses and recommends the Hyperdrive ColorSpace UDMA2.

The ColorSpace is advertised as the world's fastest and most advanced memory card back-up.

The ColorSpace can store 120GB of images, runs on batteries and costs $299.

For heavier shooters or for photographers on extend adventures you can also buy 250GB, 320GB, 500GB, 750GB and 1TB versions.

That means you can store an average of about 8 GB a day for two weeks. It has a small screen so you can view all your images. Rob says the batteries have an excellent life and you will probably only need to recharge once or twice in two weeks.

The other advantage is there is a huge space saving over a lap top computer or an iPad.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Secrets of Outback Photography Workshop

A reminder to all participants in the 2013 Art and Photography Tour of the Pilbara that the free half day workshop 'Secrets of Outback Photography' is on this coming Sunday, 21 July at 1pm.

By now, you should have all received detailed briefing notes and an invitation to this exciting workshop.

If you haven't received the notes or invite please email ASAP or telphone 0407 082 371.

Tips for looking after your gear on the road

Click here for some useful tips about cleaning and protecting your photographic gear while travelling in the outback.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Story of the Outback - Video from Matador

This isn't the Pilbara but its full of  Australian Outback imagery and does have some great shots of starry skies.
Click HERE to see video.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Full Moon in the Kennedy Ranges

One of the advantages of a dedicated photography tour is that we are all 'in the mix' 24/7. Its not like being in a class where you head home at 5pm. The additional advantage of an outback camping photography tour is that we are sleeping under the stars. We can shoot well into the night and pre-dawn and be well away from the influence of urban night light.

Tony Taylor alerted me that we will enjoy a full moon while we are camped in the Kennedy Ranges. This gives us some great opportunities for lunar landscapes. In many cases the best moon shots and especially lunar landscapes are taken the night before the full moon. This is due to the synchronicity between the sweet spot between sunset and last light and the moonrise.

If this sounds like a lot of 'gobbeldy gook', don't worry. I am going to produce some easy to follow charts for you.

However, you will need to get a handle on the manual controls on your camera. The moon is not quite as easy to expose correctly as it first looks. Furthermore, if you want to create an artistic moonshot you need to alter the perception of moon scale.

Jurien Bay Storm. Nikon D700. 6 secs @ f5.6 400 ISO
Techniques for photographing lunar landscapes, the moon, lightning and fireworks come under the general category of time exposure or long exposure. Its something you might like to check out by reading your camera's instruction book. 

If you would like some detailed instructions on these techniques before departure you may be interested in my UWA Intermediate DSLR workshop on 23 and 27 June. You get to practise all your manual controls about 76 times. The workshop also includes a night practical shoot where you practise the principles of photographing lightning, fireworks, stars and lunar landscapes. For more information click HERE.  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Photography And Art Tour - Pilbara - 10-24 August 2013

"I always travel with my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train'
Oscar Wilde

The 2013 Photography and Art Tour of the Pilbara runs from the 10-24 August.
The Medical Arts Association of Western Australia, in conjunction with the Casey Tours have put together what promises to be an outback adventure that will foster your art and rejuvenate your spirits.

Accomplished artist, Ross Paterson will lead those with armed with canvas and paints to capture the beauty of the Australian outback and the drama of Karijini Gorge.

I'll lead the team of photographers bedecked with cameras. lenses and tripods to record digitally (and on film) the people, landscapes, wildlife and night skies of our journey.

Our journey takes us through the real Australian outback:

  • Payne's Find
  • Mount Magnet
  • Cue
  • Big Bell
  • Day Dawn
  • Walga Rock
  • Meekatharra
  • Newman
  • Dale Gorge
  • Fortescue Falls
  • Red Gorge
  • Oxer lookout
  • Millstream
  • Fortescue River
  • Python Pool
  • Mount Augustus
  • Cobra Station
  • Gascoyne River
  • Gascoyne River
  • Coomberdale Wildflower Farm   ....  and more
Most nights are spent camping under the Southern Cross with camp fires, hearty meals, a glass or red and some tall stories. 

As a professional photographer, professional teacher and someone who has lived, worked and photographed in remote regions,  A part of the photographic schedule includes
  • Detailed briefing notes for all participating photographers
  • A half-day pre-departure workshop on Outback Photography
  • 'Show and Tell' sessions en route
  • Mini workshops
  • Daily hints, tips and motivators
  • Guiding you with 'What went wrong?' images
Dale Neill assisting Louisa Panetta on tour. (photo:Phil Hawkins)

No matter what level you are - a beginner with a tiny compact or a seasoned photographer with a DSLR and a bag of lenses there will be something to learn and something to challenge you.
There are just a couple of places remaining. on the tour.For a detailed itinerary or other details please contact me on 9430 6422 or 0407 082 371.

Dale Neill

'For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and sponaneity'
Henri Cartier-Bresson