NiSi Roadtrip 2016
In December 2016 I was really excited to be part of the first NiSi Filters Australia Roadtrip. I am an ambassador for NiSi Filters and I spent an awesome five days on the road with fellow ambassadors Matt Donovan (@itsworthashot) and Daniel Tran (@_danieltran_) along with our trip videographer Rob Mulally (@robmulally). We planned to drive from Sydney to Byron Bay and back, taking some awesome pictures along the way, and sharing them on our Instagram feeds with the hash tag #NiSiRoadtrip.
We also planned three sunset meet-ups where photographers could come along and try the NiSi Filters for themselves thanks to the NiSi Filters Demo kit loaned to us by NiSi Australia. I was particularly excited about this trip because I had never visited the stretch of coast between Port Stephens and Byron Bay before, so I would be covering new territory!
Day 1 – Sydney to Crescent Head
On the first day we had an early start with Rob picking me up and driving up to the Central Coast to visit Ken Duncan’s gallery in Erina. We met Matt and Dan up there and we were lucky enough to spend a couple hours with Ken himself. He took us through his gallery, showed us his amazing book, and sat down to lunch with us where we discussed all things photography. We all left the meeting with Ken feeling incredibly uplifted and inspired, and it was a really fitting start to our roadtrip.
Originally we had considered Crescent Head as our sunset location for the day, however we had to abandon this idea as we wouldn’t make it there on time, and decided to try a jetty at Queens Lake instead. This ended up being a great call as we got really beautifully calm conditions at the lake, providing us very still reflections to allow the clouds to be mirrored on the lake’s surface. Matt got out his lantern and we captured a series of images of Matt and Dan at the end of the Queens Lake jetty looking off into the fading colours of the sunset. Once sunset was over we headed to our campsite at Crescent Head, our sunrise location.
Day 2 – Crescent Head to Coffs Harbour
Getting up nice and early we packed up the tent and headed down to the Crescent Head sea cave. I had seen quite a few amazing images taken of this cave over the years, and really wanted to photograph it for myself. We got some very beautiful light on this morning, and I set about trying to capture the cave as best I could. If you watch the video below made by the brilliant Rob Mulally, you’ll see me in action setting up my shot. It was really hard to leave Crescent Head, a truly beautiful seascape location, and one that I am quite keen to get back to. After a quick breakfast in town we headed to Dorrigo National Park for some waterfall action. We decided to photograph Crystal Shower Falls as the shorter walk in fitted well with our schedule. The falls were not flowing as much as we would have liked due to little recent rainfall in the area. However we were quite lucky that the conditions were overcast, meaning that the softer, less contrasty light would provide more pleasing photographs. The walk in and out of Crystal Shower Falls was very beautiful, and I have already pencilled in returning to this spot when there is more water about.
After we shot in Dorrigo we headed for Coffs Harbour, with a slight detour to Ebor Falls which we elected not to photograph due to time constraints. We instead checked into our accommodation at Aqualuna Beach Resort and had a brief rest and dinner before our sunset shoot. With storm clouds overhead we drove to the Coffs Harbour Jetty, the location of the first meetup. Whilst we didn’t get great conditions at all for sunset as the sun was nowhere to be seen due to thick cloud, it was great to meet Liam Hardy and shoot with him on the beach.
Day 3 – Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay
We checked out early from our accommodation to get to our sunrise shoot location, which we decided to be Emerald Beach. The location was nice and close which made things easy, however the weather was not cooperating with us. It was raining and the skies were dull and grey, and once again the cloud was preventing any interesting light this morning. We did come across some friendly kangaroos whose antics lightened the mood, however we unfortunately did not come away with any images we could use from the morning. We instead headed north towards Byron Bay to our next location, Killen Falls.
When we arrived at the falls the group spread out looking for compositions. Like Crystal Shower Falls, these falls also were lacking on the water flow front, however we did have some overcast skies which worked in our favour. If you watch the video Rob made about Dan below, you can see what it was like photographing these falls. The biggest challenge apart from the rain was taking images without any swimmers in them, it seems to be quite a popular swimming hole! Next stop was Byron Bay, which wasn’t too far down the road. We arrived into Byron Bay under grey and rainy skies, and unfortunately our sunset shoot was rained out as well. The joys of being a landscape photographer!
Day 4 – Byron Bay to Port Macquarie
Our sunrise location for day 4 was the Byron Bay lighthouse. This is stunning spot, with the lighthouse perched high on a cliff looking out towards the ocean, is a great place to watch the day dawn. This is no secret as there were plenty of other folks that joined us up there. Unfortunately on this morning our run of grey skies continued, which made capturing an interesting image all the more difficult. Matt did a great job given the conditions, and you can see more about how he got to work in the video below. In an attempt to escape the grey skies we elected to leave straight after breakfast, and headed south where the conditions looked more promising. Given the amazing time we had shooting Crescent Head, we decided to pay one last visit as a daytime shoot. The skies were dark and moody, giving great drama to our long exposure images with the NiSi 10 stop ND filter. I took the opportunity to get my infrared Sony A7R camera out and capture the scene. Again it was hard to leave Crescent Head but we were excited to get into Port Macquarie, and check into our accommodation at Macquarie Waters Boutique Hotel.
Having not been to Port Macquarie I found it a very pleasant town. It had many great looking beaches and rocky headlands with strong potential for seascapes. One such headland is Tacking Point, and that was the location of our third and final photo meetup at the Tacking Point Lighthouse. Big thanks must go to Brett Wood for helping with the NiSi meet at Port Macquarie. We had a great turnout, and we got the opportunity to meet some great new people who were also able to try out NiSi filters for the first time. It was all topped off with an amazingly colourful sky at sunset, which was very nice after all of the poor weather we had experienced over the prior couple of days! Rather than photographing the Lighthouse, I decided to use a wooden set of stairs as a leading line towards the sunset.
Day 5 – Port Macquarie to Sydney
After what didn’t seem like enough sleep we woke up early and headed back to Tacking Point for sunrise. This time our target was a very photogenic rock pinnacle that can be found below the lighthouse at the end of Lighthouse Beach. The tide was pretty good for the location, however we could have done with a little more swell to allow for some water flow in the foreground. Every now and then a large enough wave came in to get some movement worthy of firing off a frame or two, but as the tide was falling these opportunities became fewer and fewer the longer we stayed. We didn’t get any great sky colour at sunrise, however the conditions were moody enough for some great images. After breakfast at the hotel, where we had a brief meet-up with the talented Thomas Brown, we got back on the road. Matt and Dan had a spare day and decided to head to Port Stephens for an additional night, however Rob and I headed for home, and arrived back in Sydney late that afternoon.
The #NiSiRoadTrip was a great experience, and time that I’ll look back upon fondly. I always learn so much when I am surrounded by highly talented creatives like Matt, Rob and Dan. Thanks also to NiSi Filters Australia for being such a great partner on this roadtrip. Hopefully we can do it all again in 2017!
Below you can find a selection of images I captured on the #NiSiRoadTrip. If you’re interested in a print or would like to know more about NiSi filters, feel free to get in touch!