Landscape Photographer from the South West of Western Australia

Sugarloaf Rocks

Dolphins hunting at Sandpatches

I went out to Sandpatches today. My favourite pod of dolphins were busy chasing salmon. I first saw them close in, but when I went down to the rocks to photograph them they moved north, so I was photographing these at around 2km distance. Today they were very active, with as many as 6-7 leaping out of each wave. There were some complete loop the loops as well! Wonderful stuff.

The conditions were great for photography. After a rain shower, the sun appeared in the distance and provided some great light.

360 with half twist

360 with half twist


_DSC4370Notice the fisherman on the rocks in the background!
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Some dolphins and the moon

Not in the same shot! I went to Sugarloaf Rocks this afternoon and found these dolphins hunting close to shore. They get so close to the short they have to leap out of the back of the waves to avoid being dumped on the rocks. Unfortunately they didn’t come back to my end of the bay, so this shot was taken at a long distance.
Dolphins hunting

On my way home I noticed the full moon was rising and stopped for this shot at Pt Picquet.
Full moon at Pt Picquet


Sugarloaf Rocks when photographers take over.

A friend who I hadn’t seen for many years came down last weekend. It turns out he was a keen photographer, so I suggested an early morning shoot at Sugarloaf Rocks. I could hear his wife laughing in the car when I suggested it, but Jim thought it would be a good idea (he did actually want to go to Sugarloaf).

We arrived early (well… before sunrise and at this time of the year that is early!). But the carpark was full. It turned out Christian Fletcher was running a course and they were all out at Sugarloaf Rocks. There were photographers on every rock, every little potential foreground feature and every leading line. They had taken all the clouds, rearranged them and there were non left for the rest of us. At least Christian agreed not to charge us for being there!

Sugarloaf Rocks can be spectacular when the sky is right, at other times you have to work harder. This is the best I could do, but I enjoyed being there with an old friend.Sugarloaf Rocks  in the morning.


Sugarloaf in B/W

The image of Sugarloaf Rocks in the storm I posted a few days ago did not convey the feeling of being there very well – I think this was because the sun was shining through a gap in the clouds and everything looked pretty nice. It was actually blowing a gale, there were big seas and it was threatening to rain. So I reworked the image in black and white and I think this better conveys the sense and power of the storm.
Sugarloaf Storm


Sugarloaf waves

It seems winter is dragging on forever. This last storm has some of the strongest winds and biggest swells of the winter. For those unfamiliar with Sugarloaf Rocks, the main rock is at least 25 metres high, probably more. Sugarloaf Rock
It was hard to stand still to take the shot – every time a gust of wind hit, you were forced backwards!


Dolphins hunting

This morning over 100 dolphins were hunting in a bay just north of Sugarloaf Rock. They were well organised, and herded schools of fish towards the shore before attacking them. When they were close to shore they often burst out of the back of the surf leaping high into the air. Here are some examples.
Dolphins 1Synchronised swimmers
More dolphinsAnd more


A different view of Sugarloaf Rocks.

I had an idea about photographing the Cape Naturaliste lighthouse but it needs some more thought. (It all started during the recent meteor showers which I wanted to photograph but clouds blocked the view). However one fundamental rule of photography is “look behind you – there is often a better shot there”. So in this case I looked behind me and noticed the light from the lighthouse was sweeping the rocks. A novel way of lightpainting. The milky way is in the left of the image.
Sugarloaf Rocks at night


Storm at Sugarloaf

We have had some severe gales lash the coast this week. There were forecasts of a lot of rain (which we got), 125k/hr winds (which never got that strong), and 6-8 mtr swells (more like 2-3). I went to Sugarloaf rocks today and the swell/waves had increased but not to 6m levels.

Stormy Sugarloaf

Stormy Sugarloaf


Will it, won’t it?

Back home in the South West of WA. Last night I went out to Sugarloaf Rocks as there was some cloud around, and it even looked like there may be a thunderstorm. When I arrived there was a large band of cloud above the horizon, and the sun was disappearing behind it. It didn’t look promising, and some photographers left. I noticed a clear band just above the horizon and stayed to see if the sun would make a final appearance. It did and the sunset was quite spectacular.

Sugarloaf sunset

Sugarloaf sunset


Wild weather at Sugarloaf Rocks

I went out to Sugarloaf Rocks yesterday. The wind was gusting around 40 knots and there was spray everywhere. I had my camera well covered because of the salt spray everywhere.

Sugarloaf Storm

Sugarloaf Storm


I think the seas will continue to increase during the week, and I will probably go out again around Wednesday or Thursday. (The forecast is for wind gusts up to 125km/hour tonight – after Sundays storm that is really only a gentle breeze!


Sugarloaf Rocks Dawn

Sugarloaf Rocks

I found this old bent tree trunk which was pointing at the rock. It begged to have its photo taken! (Sunrise was pretty good this morning)


Sugarloaf at night

I mentioned earlier I was still processing shots from Sugarloaf. I waited until the stars came out, (and the lighthouse!) and took a series of shots while painting the scene with a torch. I learnt a few things – such as it doesn’t really work well when there is a lot of spray around, and that you have to wait until it gets really dark (especially when the rocks you are lighting are a long way off).

Night time at Sugarloaf

Night time at Sugarloaf


This makes an interesting contrast to the shot I posted earlier from the same location (different lens). That shot was taken just after sunset.


Sugarloaf Rocks

Last night the sky was looking promising for a spectacular sunset, so I went down to Sugarloaf Rock to watch it, and try for a night time shot with stars (still processing that one). I like to get out on the front looking back. It was a great night, made even better by the sight of a seal, two dolphins, and a pod of whales breaching offshore. For a while it seemed I had missed the sunset – behind me it was going wild. However eventually I started to get this pink glow in the clouds just after sunset. This was a lot more subdued than the sky looking directly at the sunset, but was still a lovely color.

Sugarloaf Rock

Sugarloaf Rock


Winter’s day at Sugarloaf Rock

Its been a while since I posted anything – been very busy moving house, and a consulting job has kept me busy. This is taken from just South of Cape Naturaliste. The sun broke out briefly for this photograph.

Winter at Sugarloaf

Winter at Sugarloaf


Sugarloaf Rocks

On Sunday morning I got a call from Mark Stothard. He was at Sugarloaf Rocks and wanted to know if I wanted to join him in a shoot. I think he was really looking for someone to watch out and rescue him if he got washed in! (See his recent post, although he wasn’t in any danger when he got wet). As I had just got a new Nikon D7000 the day before, I was out there before you could say “ISO6400 wow”! There are a few differences with my old D90, and I had a bit of learning to do. This is my first panorama from the D7000. It was a bit tricky because of the waves.

Stormy Sugarloaf

Stormy Sugarloaf


So far I am very pleased with the D7000. Focussing while zoomed-in in Liveview wasn’t possible with the D90, so at times especially in low light it was hard to focus accurately. The low light capability of the D7000 is a leap ahead from the D90, and it has better mirror up functions, an intervalometer, slightly more megapixels and much more.


Sugarloaf Rocks sunset

This is the classical Sugarloaf Rocks shot. The majority of the action in the sky occurred after most photographers had left. There were three of us – the other two were a husband and wife pair. The wife was the photographer whereas the husband only had a PS camera. He wanted to leave but I convinced them to stay on. Just then her batteries ran out and the husband got the best image of the night.

I liked this so much I have used it as the front page of a book I am preparing on the scenery of the Cape to Cape walking trail.

This was a 30 second exposure at f22.


Sugarloaf Rocks

Sugarloaf Rocks

Sugarloaf Rocks sunset

This image obtained a bronze award in the recent Landscape 500 competition, and also in the 2011 Epson International Pano awards.  It is two rows of about 7 images (I forget exactly how many) all stitched to produce a composite panorama. Each individual image was a fused exposure of around 6-9 different exposures. This technique allows the rich colors of the setting sun to be retained.

The seagulls were included to give a sense of life, and depth to the image. I arrived at Sugarloaf early and set up the camera to take the individual images for the panorama. I began feeding the seagulls, and without adjusting the focal length of the lens, refocussed and began taking the photos of the seagulls. The best of the images were selected and placed over the panorama in exactly the correct position. The background around the seagulls was masked leaving the seagull in exactly the position it was when captured.

I am pleased with this image. It is a view of Sugarloaf you do not see often – taken from out the front looking back to the coast. Of all the prints I have made of my images this one receives the most favorable comments.