Louise Denton Photography

darwin things to do

PHOTO ESSAY | One morning, at Fogg Dam

Darwin and the Norther...Louise Denton

I've just bought myself a Canon 1.4x Extender for my 300mm F4L lens, and I thought a trip to Fogg Dam would be the perfect place to test it out - great bird life, lilies, and bugs galore.

Fogg Dam is quite close to Darwin - only around a 45 minute drive for me, down the Arnhem Highway toward Kakadu National Park. It is signposted at the start of the "Wetlands" Region, a few kilometres before the "Windows on the Wetlands" visitor centre.

Fogg Dam is no longer a "used" dam, but it is catchment for wet season flood waters which attract hundreds of birds in the dry season as other waterhole dry up. Fogg Dam generally stays wet all year around, but obviously wet season is when it is at it's fullest. The current water levels there are quite low, due to a lower than average rainfall last season.

Fogg Dam is a lovely rest stop for tourists on their way to Kakadu or other further-to-reach places. There is a look out over the floodplains, a couple of short walks and a couple of platforms for birdwatching (and croc spotting!).

At the right time of year, Lotus Lilies blanket the billabong in a brilliant shade of pink. Unfortunately for me on this visit, their brown remnants did not make for gorgeous landscape photography! There did look to be a few new buds sprouting though, so maybe they are a little slow this year.

Small lily at Fogg Dam

This morning's sunrise was an awesome "outback" sunrise - the sun glowed bright red as it peeped over the horizon. Unfortunately I was busy taking some wide angle shots of the pandanus silhouetted against the misty red sky. I managed to get my telephoto lens ready (and new teleconverter!) just in time - before the sun moved too high in the sky.

sun1

sunrise1

For me, a visit to Fogg Dam is never really about great landscape photos. Don't get me wrong, the landscape is special! I've just never found that angle to show it off to it's best. Something to work on, I guess! For me, Fogg Dam is all about the bird photography.

Birds flock here in the hundreds, and sunrise is a perfect time to catch them on their morning commute. Magpie geese in huge flocks, pairs of Forest Kingfishers, swooping Rainbow Bee-eaters, squawking Darters, Egrets, honey-eaters, flycatchers, finches..... There is so much variety here, kites and goshawks, jabirus and herons.... and a resident White-bellied Sea Eagle.

This morning was quite exciting for me actually! I discovered a couple of new species, chatted birds with a couple of keen bird-watching tourists, and found some juvenille crimson finches.

baby crimson finch

Darters are common in and around Australian waterholes. In the short "dam wall" section this morning I spotted around a dozen. The below photo was taken from the dam wall itself, I managed to earn the trust of this bird and sat only around two metres away from him for a good twenty minutes or so!

darter portrait

The Fogg Dam resident White-bellied Sea-eagle

The below photo I figured to be a Grey Goshawk - a bird I had not seen this close before. Someone please correct me if I am wrong on my identification of this bird. I figured the distinctive red eyes (and awesome eye liner!) were a give away to it's ID, but I could be wrong. (And yes, the colour of those eyes is real, not "photoshopped"!)

EDIT: Ok, I am now thinking the below is actually a Black Shouldered Kite, due to the stronger eye markings and beak colour.... If someone could help me out, please do!

hawk

And below another semi-new one for me - a bronze winged cuckoo, I believe. I have seen these birds before, but any previous shots I have were from the front and did not highlight their awesome shiny feathers! I also saw a couple of Rainbow Pittas this morning, but unfortunately couldn't get a shot of one.

cuckoo1

dragonfly1

dragonfly2

Both of the walking paths at Fogg Dam are easy and full of local wildlife (the good and the bad!). Both are quite easy trails, but my favourite is the shorter of the two - I always find different birds down this trail!

spider colour

skink

leaf panning

The above abstract is of a palm leaf, blurred by "panning" with the camera. I quite liked the lines and the smooth blur mixed with the bright green!

honeyeater1

All in all, a great morning at Fogg Dam!

Sunrises are definitely my favourite here - and if the conditions are right there are some great opportunities for foggy morning photos too. (Maybe that's why they called it "Fogg" Dam?!)

Some other Fogg Dam tips:

  • Watch out for large salt water crocodiles!
  • Watch out for large "golden orb spiders" in their webs, carefully constructed across walking trails!
  • Watch out for Water Buffalo
  • (Not everything here is scary, honest)
  • Bring your mozzie repellant!
  • Look for the sea eagle in the trees at the start of the dam wall, just where the woodland opens out.
  • Great place for storm watching (toward the east)

Things to do in Darwin - for Photographers

Darwin and the Norther..., Tutorials and Tips, UncategorizedLouise Denton

There are some awesome places in Darwin to photograph our landscape and wildlife - unfortunately quite a lot of time is required to check them all out and be able to do our varied and vast landscape justice!

I have a few favourite local spots I visit regularly - some further away from Darwin's city than others. Darwin receives a lot of tourists and visitors every dry season, so I thought I would write about a few of my favourites in an attempt to help out future visitors with planning things to do in the area.

I am a photographer, so most of where I would recommend are great for photography. Darwin is rich with a lot of other things - a varied food culture and history: a significance in World War II which surprised me and a fabulous array of indigenous culture.

In Darwin suburbs:

Anyone who is half interested in landscape photography will understand that sunrise and sunset are the best times for photographing the scene.

  • Darwin is mostly best for sunset photography - there are not too many places where you can see the sunrise. One of my favourite places for sunrise is Buffalo Creek (near Lee Point). This is around a fifteen minute drive from the CBD and although there is not a whole mass of interesting landscape here, the creek is interesting and attracts an array of bird life. Watch out for crocodiles here, and check the tides.... Anything above a 6.5 metre high tide will leave you with a very limited area of sand to walk on.

Storm approaching Lee Point

For sunset, you can't beat the variation and colour along Nightcliff Foreshore.

The cliffs are a fabulous shade of red, the rocks are flecked with orange, yellow and purple. There are mangroves, open expanses of beach, rock pools, pandanus and of course the ol' favourite Nightcliff Jetty! Showing their true colours Those finger rocks, again Untitled

There are barbeques and on weekends food/drink outlets so you can watch the sun go down with family. From a photography perspective, there are so many nooks and crannies to explore.

Another awesome and varied location is East Point Reserve. Fabulous mangroves, perfect vantage point to the city as well as a perfect viewing platform for storms passing through the harbour (Oct-May). Passing Rain

The afterstorm glow

Framed with fire

The perfect view

Litchfield National Park (1-2 day trip) and Kakadu National Park (2-infinite number of days trip) are must see trips from outside of Darwin, but there are some fabulous lesser known hideaways along the way.

Fogg Dam is a beautiful location for bird photography

Willie Wagtail Horsfield's Bronze Cuckoo Australasian Darter

And when the skies deliver, is a great place to soak in the sunset!

Over the dam wall

Corroboree Billabong is a beautiful wetland habitat - abundant bird life and crocodiles amongst tranquil waters.

Corroboree Billabong

Jabiru

A flash of colour

Are you sure you want to get any closer?

I could go on... Darwin is filled with perfect landscape photographic opportunity! If you have any great locations or photography things to do in Darwin, let me know by leaving a comment below!

Darwin Photo Tours

As some of you are now aware, I am conducting local photo tours in the area - taking groups of  photographers (beginners - intermediate), out around my favourite locations. I'll be sharing my knowledge, techniques and ideas. I know what level the tides need to be at for the best locations, and I can show you where they are!

If you are interested in joining me in Darwin, check out my upcoming photography itineraries here - Darwin Photo Tours. Private tours (1 - 3 people) are also available - Contact me for ideas, dates and pricing.

Kakadu National Park

Darwin and the Norther..., UncategorizedLouise Denton

I've visited Kakadu quite a few times over the last few years, but I don't think I'll ever get bored of exploring the area and taking photos! Escarpment country, near Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu

I recently traveled out to the park because Jim Jim Falls had just opened for the dry season. Despite seeing the "falls" three times, I've never seen it flowing due to visiting too late in the dry season. So this trip was all about the "stone country" region, the region of Kakadu characterised by red, sandstone escarpment and gorges.

Jim Jim is the tallest falls accessible in Kakadu - a 200 metre high escarpment - which in the wet season is a spectacular, fast-flowing flood of water. As this falls is not spring-fed and only rain-fed, it dries up late in the dry season. Unfortunately in the wet season, when the falls are at their most impressive, road and walking access become impossible due to the amount of rain that floods the region. I'm hoping to do a scenic helicopter flight next season, but for now I was very happy with the amount of water still flowing from the escarpment.

We arrived at Garnamarr campground around 4pm, set up camp and headed straight down the 4WD track to check out the falls and escarpment in the sunset light. I wasn't disappointed! The gorge-like landscape is stunning, and I was surprised to see so much water still flowing. The light got better and better as the sun dipped below the hills behind me.

Jim Jim Falls

The light seemed to be most evenly spread after the sun had gone down, and the escarpment country glowed bright red. The below photo is a composition of 3 photos, to even out the exposure in some dark shadows and too-bright-highlights. The main photo was taken at ISO 100, f13 and 4 seconds, with an area of bright sky above the cliffs brushed in, and the area on the left with the darker trees brushed in too.

Escarpment glowing in the last light, Jim Jim Falls

Last light shining on the escarpment at Jim Jim falls

We also visited the falls the next morning too, to check out the light. The escarpment did not appear to glow as red, but it was still spectacular in a different way: hazy and mystical - well worth the early (cold!) morning.

The flow of Jim Jim Falls, Kakadu

The next afternoon we headed to Maguk - a waterfall I was convinced we had previously visited, but on arrival we realised we hadn't! The time we visited was not ideal for photography as the light was harsh around midday, but I think the falls itself would be very difficult to photograph at either sunrise or sunset due to it's position.

Maguk falls and plunge pool, Kakadu National Park

The walk to Maguk pool was lovely too, following a creek up to the falls. The creek and backdrop of red, rocky hills would make for some great landscape photography at a better time for light (although I would have to revisit to figure out what that time would be!).

Cascading waters down red rocks in a creek on the way to Maguk waterfall, Kakadu

We headed to Gunlom waterfall to camp and stay the night. This place is one of my favourite places to swim - the steep walk to the top of the falls is well worth it! Walkers are greeted with a series of natural rock pools, which end in nature's own infinity pool, looking out in to the vast open landscape of Kakadu.

Unfortunately, this time we did not have time to venture to the top of Gunlom waterfall. Instead, I explored the bottom pools, and photographed the very small trickle left over from the wet seasons rain.

Gunlom waterfall viewing platform, Kakadu

Last light reflections at Gunlom plunge pool

The falls were only a trickle, but luckily there were a few other interesting areas to keep me occupied with the camera!

This tree stands in the plunge pool at Gunlom, and made for a few interesting shots.

Tree against the dark cliff backdrop

Crystal clear water :)

A shady, clear, place to swim!

Monitor Lizard

My partner and I are thinking about revisiting again for another quick visit to Kakadu next week! I love getting out there, just wish I could spend longer. The next trip we will probably take the boat, so I can try my hand at some more bird/wildlife shots on Yellow Waters. I could already do a long photo essay on Yellow Waters - it's probably my favourite place to relax in the Top End.

More to come soon, hope you liked them! Let me know what you think... I think my favourite photo I took this trip is of Jim Jim Falls, with the reflections of the red cliff tops. :-)

Darwin Photo Tours

Darwin and the Norther..., UncategorizedLouise Denton

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you probably guessed that I was going to start offering Photowalks to budding photographers in the area!

And what's even better?

For the first Darwin Photo Tour, I will be giving away 8 places for my launch competition!!! Keep reading for details on how to win!

What are Darwin Photo Tours?

Darwin Photo Tours are going to be conducted by me, Louise Denton. You can see examples of my work within this blog and on my portfolio website www.louisedenton.com

Darwin Photo Tours are exactly that - visiting locations around Darwin that are great for landscape photos! I specialise in seascape photos, and also in other Darwin landscape photography, nature and wildlife photography.

So, if you think you might be interested in finding some great locations in and around Darwin and the Top End, the photo tours could be for you!

It's not all about the location alone, of course. And it's not just about having a good camera. You've got to be able to use it!

That's where I come in. I will be giving guidance on how to take better landscape and seascape photos.

I will be sharing...

  • How to get away from "auto" mode on your camera
  • The basics on how ISO, aperture and shutter speed all work
  • How to compose a scene, what to look for, and where to position the camera
  • What settings are ideal to use, for what circumstance
  • The answers to any questions you have!

Groups on my photo tours are limited to 8 people, so there will be time for me to get around to everyone individually, as well as talk to the group. And it's not just me you can learn from. These walking tours will be full of other people who love to take photos, a great place to share ideas, tips and knowledge.

Where will we go?

Upcoming itineraries are still being finalised, and dates are to be confirmed.

Locations will be Darwin beaches and parks, covering seascape, landscape and nature photography, including birds, flowers and other local fauna. We are lucky that Darwin is a very green city, with lots of great scenery to explore.

East Point, Mindil Beach, Casuarina Beach and my favourite, Nightcliff Foreshore.

Tours are set to begin on a regular basis at the start of July with a couple of close-to-Darwin sunset/parks sessions.

Some tours will offer a pick up minibus service, for those visiting Darwin or those without their own transport.

Within a few weeks, the groups will be venturing further out of town to some popular, and some lesser known locations outside of town. Day trips and eventually two day workshops will also be offered.

Stay tuned to this blog and to my Portfolio Website to keep up to date with new itineraries released. You will also be able to book (and purchase) online from my portfolio website.

Well, how can I win a tour?!

The first ever Louise Denton Darwin Photo Tour is planned for Monday 24th June. It is a late afternoon/evening outing (so you can come along after work!).

I'll run through the basics of how to use your camera for the magic "golden hour" of light, in to sunset and blue hour. We will also get the chance to use my favourite long exposures (I just posted a blog about them, check it out).

We'll be checking out one of my favourite areas along Nightcliff Foreshore.

To win a place on this first tour, all you have to do is:

GO TO  -->  www.louisedenton.com

Go to the Contact form and send me your name! That's it.

Each name will be entered in to the draw once, and the winners will be randomly selected.

Competition closes on the Friday 21st June.

There are 8 places available. Prize is only valid on the 24th June 2013, not transferable to any other Photo Tour at a later date.

Winners will be notified by email and also be sent an itinerary/details of meeting place.

There are a lot of people out there who wish they knew more about taking great photos - please share this blog with any friends you think might be interested!!

What should I bring with me?

  • A camera (d'uh). Any cameras are welcome, but a DSLR is preferable.
  • A wide angle or landscape lens
  • A zoom lens or telephoto for walks around parks
  • A tripod for landscape photos
  • For afternoon/day tours, there could be a little walking, so wear comfy shoes, use a comfy bag and bring a bottle of water
  • A smile and a creative mind!

This is a brand new service I am offering to people who want to learn more about their camera, and interact with other photographers.

They are a great opportunity for people visiting Darwin on holiday, to find great photographic locations without the trouble of finding them!

Let me know what you think - leave a comment below with any questions and ideas.

I will start offering this in my market stall this weekend. Come down for a chat - I am at Parap Markets on Saturdays (8am-2pm)and Mindil Beach Markets on Thursdays (5-10pm) and Sundays (4-9pm)

Or, contact me on my Facebook Page.