A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published March 9th 2014
Picture this - a lot of walking
I recently did the Melbourne City Wanderer Photography Walk, offered by Photo Tour Experts. I purchased a place via one of the 'daily deal' promotional emails, so it was a special price - $39 instead of the regular $99.
What attracted me to this walk was the length of it. It started at 1.00pm and was to finish at 10.00pm (although of course participants were able to leave at any time). Nine hours of photography sounds like a dream to me. And I really liked the idea that there was the transition from day to night, meaning we would get to shoot in a variety of conditions.
Street Art in Hosier Lane
Always keen to learn more about photography, I was also expecting there would be some structured discussion at each location about the key factors to consider when shooting in the different conditions we encountered, and suggested camera settings.
There were 11 people in the group. The meeting point was the rowing sheds on the south side of the river, opposite the CBD. Several people were late - including Andrea, who was running the tour. Parking in the vicinity proved difficult (I was glad I'd caught the train in). During discussion before the session started, it became apparent there were considerably different skill levels amongst the group. There were two participants who were completing a Diploma in Photography, had high quality DSLR cameras, and were obviously quite skilled in using them - and there were a few people who used their cameras purely in fully automatic mode. It was going to be interesting to see how Andrea dealt with such a disparity in skill levels.
The session started with Andrea giving us a very brief overview of the photography 'triangle' - ISO, F-stop and shutter speed. She then talked about AV mode and TV mode on the camera, and what they meant. There were no handouts at that stage (a handout was actually sent to us after the session). I found that strange - I'd have thought people might like to have some notes they could refer to, especially if the concepts she was covering were new to them. She concluded by saying that if people had questions they should just ask her, and to stick by her if they needed help along the way.
We started by making our way slowly up through Federation Square and to Hosier Lane. Hosier Lane is always a great place to take photos, and it changes from day to day. My partner befriended one of the street artists, who asked us to take a photo of him in front of his artwork, which we happily did. We also got to see some art being painted (it's legal to paint in Hosier Lane).
Artist at Work
We then wandered down over the Yarra to Southbank, stopping to shoot things of interest along the way, like these locks.
Locked to you in love! Padlocks aplenty now adorn the bridges over the Yarra River.
We made our way through some of Melbourne's beautiful gardens south of the river in the Domain Parklands (Queen Victoria Gardens, past the Sydney Myer Music Bowl, and on to the Botanic Gardens); all were stunning on a sunny Melbourne day. Dinner was included in the cost of the tour, and was a barbecue on the river bank near the Botanic Gardens. We were offered sausages, chicken stir fry, salad, bread rolls and water - quite reasonable, especially given what we'd paid for the tour.
After dinner, we walked along the river bank, back past Southbank, and as far as Webb Bridge. The sun was still quite strong, and low in the sky, which meant it was difficult to shoot without getting overexposed shots. Finally, the sun set, and we shot in a couple of different locations - looking towards Docklands, and shooting Webb Bridge.
One of the more interesting aspects of the tour was that Andrea had a range of filters (the Lee filters or similar) that she allowed us to use while we were shooting. These are a square graduated 75mm x 75mm filter and I'd not seen them before. They are not cheap. I found a foundation Lee filter kit on eBay for around $370. Below you can see the effect achieved with the 'sunset' filter. It's always interesting to know how one can 'cheat' in photography.
Webb Bridge - no filter
With the 'sunset filter'
I left the group a bit before 9pm, as they were heading to Crown Casino to watch the flames, and I felt I'd seen them enough times previously to give it a miss, and I was getting a little tired by this time.
Overall, I found this walking tour a little disappointing. It would have benefited greatly from some structured information about some key points to consider in our photography in the locations we visited, supported by some notes given at the time. This would not only have enhanced the experience but also given the group a rest - 9 hours is a long time to be on the move!
The other aspect I found surprising is that there's not a website or forum where we could share our photos with the group after the walk. I always find it instructive to see what other people have seen that I haven't, or, if we've both shot the same subject, how our approaches vary.