Brisbane, QLD

Thursday, January 29, 2015


An evening stroll around the lake.

Moor Hen....updated to a Purple Swamp Hen

 Mr and Mrs Duck and family. The little ones were just not going to pose for me.

 "Follow Papa my little ones"

 "My Babies, this is how you find food."


 Pretty duck.

Some flora too.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Here in Brisbane, Queensland it is a hot, sunny day with a bright blue sky. It couldn't be more typical weather for Australia Day. It is a long weekend and many people are at the beaches scattered north and south of Brisbane but not us. We stay away from crowds now that we are retired. We can go  places during the week when it is not so crowded. It is nice in the aircon today.
So we hung out the flags and cooked a batch of ANZAC biscuits. (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps cookies). See us making them here. They were originally made by volunteers to send to our troops in the wars.

Our flag has the Union Jack in the top corner because we belong to the commonwealth of nations. It is a hang over from when we were a British colony. Many people, including me, believe it should go now. The group of stars on the right is the Southern Cross a constellation only seen in southern skies. The seven pointed star at the bottom represents the 6 states of Australia and one point for all the territories.

Here are some shots that I have taken in each state and two of the mainland territories.(There are eight more territories Jervis Bay, Australian Antarctic and the others are islands)

QUEENSLAND -the best state of all because that is where I live.

NEW SOUTH WALES, where I grew up and where our daughter, Carol-Ann lives.

 VICTORIA, where our SIL, Bernie's family live.

TASMANIA,  (Tahune Forest)



 AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY, Floriade  festival, Canberra


Thursday, January 22, 2015


It was our last day of exploring in New Orleans and listening to the amusing accents of the people here. Kathy went shopping, Rob went to the WW11 museum and Bill and I explored the Garden District by street cars. The street cars that go down St Charles Ave to the Garden District are green to match  the leafy green suburb. In town they are red. Firstly we stopped at the Art Museums but both were shut on Mondays and Tuesdays??
 So back to the street car stop and we travelled to the end of the Garden District. The Garden District is not a botanic garden like we first thought but a well to do suburb where the posh houses, which have lovely gardens and the streets are lined with big shady trees. We hopped off the street car and walked through the area (looking for a coffee shop of course for you know who).

My arty shot of a lovely fountain in front of a big house.

St Charles Ave is a wide street with trees on both sides and in the middle. It is the street that the Mardi Gras parades pass down. See the tree on the right covered in strings of coloured beads.

 During Mardi Gras many strings of beads are purchased from the market and they are flung into the trees and lampposts and anything else that is handy. We couldn't find a coffee shop so we jumped on the next passing street car and returned to town.
The street car stops just opposite the famous Bourbon St .
We walked down Bourbon Street to soak up the atmosphere but we were disappointed the shops and bars all looked a bit seedy. We have been told that this street comes alive at night but I wouldn't like to be here at night.

So after a few blocks we turned down a side street to join Royal St which is a much nicer street with upmarket restaurants and shops.

We saw a nice restaurant called Mr B's Bistro. How could we walk past that? As my man is Mr B. (our last name starts with B)

They served the bread like this. We had a lovely rest and meal. Building up energy to walk down Royal St through the French Quarter.

 There were bands playing.

and actors acting. This guy looks like he's walking but he was a motionless human statue. A couple went up to him an asked if the lady could have her photo taken with him. He relaxed his pose and agreed. He gave the lady some instructions on how to be a statue before her partner took the photo

They were so good and fun to watch.

Not far along there was more music to sing along to. This was more like the  atmosphere we expected in New Orleans or as the locals say Nawlins.

I even found some more horses without cars in the way. These were used in the early days to tie your horse to. Now they are a NO icon.
Tired legs led us to the nearest streetcar stop which took us as far as the markets and then it was another 30 min walk back to the B&B.
The next day we packed and relaxed until it was time to get a taxi to the airport and look forward to a 41/2 flight to LA, a 7 hour wait for the 15 hour flight to Brisbane. We suffered the worst jet lag ever after this flight and it will be some time before we try it again.

Monday, January 19, 2015


When we were in New Orleans with friends, Kathy and Rob, we booked up with American Photo Safari for some photography lessons on location. We had to meet out side the cathedral at the gate of Jackson Square. Bill and I caught a taxi there as a three hour safari and the walk from the B&B was a bit daunting for Bill. Jackson Square is a historic park in the French Quarter. It was designed after "Place des Vosges" in Paris. In 1815 it was named after the victorious General Andrew Jackson. In the centre of the park stands an equestrian statue of Jackson by Clark Mills. It was erected in 1856.
We met our tutor, Natasha, there. We were pleased to hear that the four of us were her only students that morning. She gave us a great introductory talk about photography in general and established at what level we were. She also gave us a good little info card on photography.

I had just bought a new little compact Sony Cyber Shot DSC HX60V before I left Brisbane because I didn't want to carry my big DSLR overseas when light luggage is easier to manage. However, I didn't know much about this camera when I arrived for this lesson. Natasha was great at helping us all learn about settings on our cameras. Then she took us on a tour of the French Quarter and pointed out historic subjects, good angles and compositions as well as reminding us that a good photograph tells a story.

1.First up she showed us how to use the morning sun to create a silhouette with a halo.
2.Then she explained metering and how to use it to show the detail of the sculpture when the sun is behind it.
3. We walked around the statue to shoot with the sun behind us, much easier but we had to move around to escape distracting background. Even though she suggested getting some tree tops into the shot to give context to it, I preferred none.

 Just outside the park gates is the Cathedral-Basilica of St Louis King of France founded in 1718.
The tutor suggested finding different angles and including foreground or tree framing to give context and depth to the photo. Then we went inside where we learnt about ISO settings for inside shots. I was getting frustrated by now with my little camera wishing that I had my DSLR but I'm glad I persevered to try and get the foreground and background all in focus without camera shake.

 When I emerged from the Cathedral I found Bill jamming it up with a busking group of jazz musicians. He was in his element but wished he had his trumpet with him. (He played trumpet in younger days)

1. Natasha said lane ways  are common in New Orleans and are good subjects for photos. She suggested getting down low rather than shooting from chest level all the time. That is not so easy at 72 when the old knees are creaky.
2. Natasha pointed out that lines and shapes of the lamp post and arch make good shots. I took one and thought it looked a bit bland. A bit later I saw Rob leaning on the lamp post waiting for us and I snapped. I liked it better with a person in it.Then I turned it in B&W and maybe it looks even better.

1.Natasha explained how this lamp light took on the colour of the shutters of the adjacent building. The glass was plain but here it looks green, Natasha suggested this angle but there is something that I don't like about it.
2. I took the second shot just as a couple walked by. The light is still green but the shot has more action and a story to it. I like it better. What about you?

1.In The French Quarter you find these horses on the edge of the sidewalk. They were originally to tie your horse to, there is usually a ring in the nose for this purpose but not on this one. Besides the horse the intricate air vent is also peculiar to the French Quarter so our tutor thought it would make a good shot to have both in the one frame with the vent blurred. I couldn't find her enthusiasm and I was finding it hard to make my little camera blur the background even with a big aperture.
2. I changed my position and found Rob waiting for us again. I like the shot as the horse and Rob are forming the same shape and they are both waiting. Rob isn't a photographer but his wife, Kathy, is. He came along on the safari  because he is interested in learning the history.

Natasha took us to the Cornstalk Fence Hotel where there was a fountain. It is named this from the iron fence just seen in the third photo. The fence is actually a row of steal cornstalks.
1. Natasha then explained how to freeze the water drops
2. Then how to make the water look like it is moving
3. Then how to move and use the sun to make the splashes sparkle.
Now I was really missing my DSLR. I couldn't blur the distracting background  and capture the drops properly.

1. New Orleans has many colourful courtyards tucked away behind buildings. Most are kept private with an iron gate, which can be used as a frame and foreground to give depth to the shot.
2. Some courtyards are accessible to the public like this one belonging to an Art Gallery.

Then Natasha took us to Boubon Street which was famous for its bars, jazz music and night life. It still has these attractions but now Frenchmans Street has taken over being the place to be at night and Royal St has taken over being the place to be for shopping and street entertainment. We were at the end of the street where there are more apartments and houses. 
1.Natasha suggested this shot where there is the contrast of the old town in the foreground with the new towers in the distance.
2. But I liked this angle too showing off the coloured houses, shutters and lamppost. The midday sun wasn't helpful. After many shots of this famous street Kathy and I found ourselves alone with the tutor. Where were the boys? We looked around and found them............

...sitting outside the Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar, the oldest bar in New Orleans. It  could be the oldest, still operating bar, in US. It was built before 1772. According to legend it was once owned by the pirate Jean Lafitte and a place where he plotted his illegal operations and sold contraband. It is also purported to be one of the most haunted bars in NO.

After, Natasha found a coffee shop for you know who, we continued on with our photography lesson.
1. Use reflections to get a different view of buildings.
2. get interesting angles of the cathedral and include the Mardi Gras beads hanging from the tree.
During Mardi Gras brightly coloured beads are worn and strewn throughout the city. Many trees and lampposts are adorned with strings of beads. (more in next post)

After 3 hours the lesson was over, we had all been happy with it. Kathy, Rob and I wanted to see more of the French Quarter but Bill was tired of walking so we bundled him into a bike taxi and sent him back to the B&B.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


On our second day in New Orleans, we walked into town and caught a Hop on Hop off bus to tour the city and get our bearings. We had a list of things to do in NO so we thought this is a good way to find them. One such place was Cafe du Monde, probably the most famous cafe in NO. We found it easily but there was queue a mile long waiting to get a table. It is a huge cafe and it was full to the brim at 10 o'clock. We watched the chef cooking the renowned Beignets through a viewing window. They are a type of deep fried doughnut. I had never heard of these before let alone tasted them. We were also surprised to learn that this is the only thing on the menu.
 We decided to walk back to the wharf where we had seen another smaller version of Cafe du Monde and we easily found a seat there and so we tried this much sought after dish. Very sweet .

 We jumped on the bus again and went to Congo Square.  It isn't a very impressive square/park today but it has a fascinating history. Before white settlement it was a meeting place for the Houmas Indians. During the French era it was used for the corn harvest celebrations and later it was where enslaved African's gathered and had a market, this continued through the Spanish time. By 1803 the square had become famous for the gathering of African slaves who drummed, danced, sang and traded. The dances that evolved were the Bamboula, Calinda and the Congo. These activities were the start of Mardi Gras, jazz and  rhythm and blues music. The sculptor is A.S. Adenle.

 We walked further down the street to Armstrong Park. This was a lovely park just teeming with sculptures of musicians and other interesting items like the above.

After exploring most of the day by bus or on foot, our friends Kathy and Rob assured us it wasn't far to walk back to the B&B. We walked and walked and it was a long way. Poor old Bill with his dicky ticker found it quite exhausting but he made it.

 I just loved all the different architecture and especially the brightly coloured houses. See below.

Some weren't in such a good state of repair but they still had a charm about them.

Finally we arrived home at the B&B. In the last post I mentioned that we were a bit disappointed and surprised that the host didn't provide tea and coffee making facilities but we found a way around that. There was a microwave available in the lounge and cups and tea bags were in a cupboard used for breakfast. There was a water cooler in the lounge too. So we microwaved a cup of water and used a breakfast teabag and milk which we found in the little fridge.

Apart from that it was a comfortable and beautiful home. In the hallway above the doorway there was a historic 80 pound head dress made of satin, rhinestones, mirrors and feathers. It was worn by a former owner of the house when he ruled as King of the Krewe of Endymion.

 The house was built in 1850's for a French Creole Family. It was a boarding house in World War 11 and later it was a school.

The previous owner was artist Stuart Auld. The tree murals were painted by Auld.
There are over a dozen Sweet Olive Trees on the property hence the name Auld Sweet Olive B&B

 Bill rests in the lounge before we have to walk again to a restaurant for dinner. After this photo I turned around and snapped the other end of the lounge.(below)

It was huge. This is where we had breakfast and the tree trimming party the night before.

 Kathy and I caught up with emails and blogging, Kathy could blog but I had problems.

After we walked again a few blocks to a restaurant we finally fell into bed. It was an interesting day. But we were looking forward to tomorrow as we had booked a photo safari through the French Quarter. (next post) Bill shuddered at the thought of walking into town again and then walking for 3 hours on the photo safari. He nearly bailed out but he wanted to learn more about photography so he agreed to come but he would get a taxi to town.