Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oh Christchurch...

The breaking news about the earthquake that's devastated Christchurch this afternoon has really been heartbreaking. The earthquake (and huge number of aftershocks that followed it last year and throughout this year) last year was bad enough, but for this to happen has just been terrible. I feel so sad for the people of Christchurch, those who have died and the families of these people. It's devastating to read that there have been at least 65 people confirmed dead so far.

Perhaps it's been something I've felt particularly because I visited Christchurch (and the South Island of New Zealand) last year and fell in love with the city. It was a beautiful city, and the people there were just so friendly and nice. I think it would be impossible to have visited the city and not fallen just a little bit in love with it at least. The tree-lined streets, the lovely buildings, the cathedral...

Seeing photos on news sites of the damaged cathedral made me feel like bursting into tears at my desk. Seeing footage from the city actually has made me cry.

The people of Christchurch are in my thoughts and prayers, as I'm sure they are for many others. I'm hoping places for donations open up soon, as I will definitely be donating. But I wish there was something more that I could do to help out. Sending money is useful, I know, but it would be great to do something practical as well.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

More light at night

Nothing like running around like a mad thing with lights and stuff to take light motion photos. And then realising the neighbours are watching you. Looking puzzled. In the dark. So, hi new neighbours. I'm the eccentric one. The one who drives around singing along to Rammstein songs and waving in a friendly manner. I totally don't bite.

Friday, February 18, 2011

More night lighting

Apologies to the neighbours for the flashing lights and so on. Hope you didn't think it was an alien invasion.

Day Thirty-One: The End

It's the end of A Month of Mobile Photos.

The idea for this self-challenge came from reading Photo Radar's 32 Photo Projects for 2011.

Has it made me a better photographer? Who knows. I am perhaps better at taking photos with my mobile phone at least. I haven't actually used my normal cameras all that much (compared to usual). It's been interesting to view things slightly differently, and I think it makes for more spontaneous photos. I like it. And I do need to empty out the phone's memory of all of the photos I've taken - hardly any of them actually made it to the blog.

Have I had a lot of fun? Yes. It's been good.

And it's inspired me to set more challenges for myself. I think I might wait until the beginning of next month to start my next challenge. I'm not entirely sure what it'll be though. Maybe shoes? Maybe bags? Maybe night photos?

At the very least, it has inspired me to experiment more. And that's led to me getting out the DSLR and actually mucking around with it, exposures, metering, etc at night for the past two nights. That has been a crazy amount of fun.

Oh, before I forget - the phone I've been using for A Month of Mobile Photos is a Nokia 6700 Classic. They're not wrong about it having the potential to take beautiful photos.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An attempt at night photography

For the first time, I actually used a tripod and mucked around with various exposures, metering, etc with the DSLR. It was kind of fun. The results aren't spectacular, but it'll take time to get to where I want things to be. Still, it's a good start. And it was a lot of fun to do. The ones I've posted are just a few of my favourites.

Day Thirty: More Lovisa Loving

Well, two of the items are from Lovisa. The hairclip is from Diva. And the heart-shaped ring is from Penguin, who I miss because she lives so far away now days :(

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Day Twenty-Nine: Lovisa Ring

I liked how sort of surreal this looked. Maybe it's just me. I'll probably post a proper pic of the ring sometime. It's really cute - three little woodland creatures. Just a little different. I think I like Lovisa more than Diva... Poor Diva. Maybe the other ring I bought that reminded me of the Waidmanns Heil keyring is the reason for that.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day Twenty-Three: Ew.

Announcement over speaker in supermarket this evening: "Valentines Day special mudcakes are at the bakery section, customers! They're filled with love AND lust."


Of course I took a photo.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Introducing Trevor the butterfly

Trevor's actually dead. I found him today in a stairwell. But he doesn't let being dead stop him reaching for his goals as a butterfly model...

Day Nineteen and Twenty: Catching Up

Penn & Teller's thing just seemed like it fitted in so well with the Glee stuff.

Two years on: Black Saturday

Last year I tried to write something about being on year on from Black Saturday, and this was as far as I got:

"Just after the minute's silence for the victims of Black Saturday at midday, I sat outside on the verandah, looking at the trees, the mountains and a half-full moon hanging in the clear blue sky. There was silence in nature. The birds were quiet. No breeze moved the leaves on the trees. No human sounds disturbed the stillness. I just let tears slip down my face without bothering to brush them away."

I just couldn't write any more.

I'm not sure how much further I'll manage to get today, two years on from Black Saturday, even though life is a little more settled now.

I had sold my home at the end of December of 2009 and, although I'm sure it was frustrating for the people who bought it, I had to be there past the first anniversary of Black Saturday. My home was in the beautiful town of Warburton, which had the threat of the fires hanging over it for more than a month as they burned behind the mountain range on the northern side of town. We were incredibly lucky that the fires just stayed behind the mountains, menacing but not ultimately destroying the town like they had so many others.

I guess being in the house a year on from the events of Black Saturday was some sort of point I was proving, maybe mostly to myself. It had been an incredibly difficult 12 months. The fires came around the same time as we began to learn the extent of which we were being screwed over at my former work. But that was the last thing on the list of stuff to worry about at that point.

On Black Saturday itself, my friend Larie and I decided to go down to Eastland to avoid the heat. Neither of us had aircon at home, so we figured that we'd wander around in air-conditioned comfort until the heat of the day had passed and then head home. I had a bizarre feeling that morning about things and packed a bag with the most important things I owned - my dog's ashes, my toy elephant given to me as a baby, my Grandma's The Light Princess and Other Stories, my Nanna's Bible, a few other things.

After quite a few hours at Eastland, we thought we'd see how the temperatures outside were going and head back to Chirnside Park. If it was still hot, we'd go see some movies or something.

When we got outside, there was smoke in the air - a thick brown cloud of it high overhead. I think we were both quite worried about it, but didn't realise the extent of what was going on. At this point, we'd not seen anything about the fires and no-one had messaged or called either of us. By the time we got to Chirnside Park, the sky was covered with smoke and the wind was basically gale-force. The heat was insane. I can still remember how exhausted and dehydrated I felt just walking the 100 metres or so from the car to the cinema.

We watched Australia, figuring it was the longest film and would mean the most time in the aircon before heading home. When we got out, the smoke was thicker, blackening the sky. I rang my parents, who had messaged me about it while we were in the cinema. There wasn't all that much clear information at that point on the CFA site, but they advised us to not go home.

We thought we might at least try to go back, get some things and head out again. But when we got to the hill that you drive down to get back into Lilydale, enormous clouds of smoke were covering the valley and we could see the vivid orange glow of flames kilometres away.

So we didn't go back. And we didn't get back for a few days, spending most of our time at a hotel in Croydon that generously and kindly slashed their prices for people who had evacuated the area to avoid the fires. We watched the news, numb with horror as the number of the dead and injured increased. I can't even begin to imagine the terror of things in the areas impacted by the bushfires. It breaks my heart every time I think about the people who died. The neighbours of my neighbour's parents were killed in Kinglake. One of my friends lost two of his friends in St Andrews. The suddenness of it and how inescapable it was is terrifying to think about.

When we did finally return to Warburton, it was for work and to pack up our most important possessions and take them out of the Yarra Valley. Of the entire month when the fires really posed a threat to Warburton, I think we only stayed in the town for six nights. It was surreal seeing my own beloved town on the cover of newspapers, being talked about for how likely it would be that it'd be the next to be obliterated by the fires.

Visiting and interviewing a family who lost their house and everything in it, as well as discovering their neighbours had burned to death in the fires, was perhaps personally one of the hardest part of the Black Saturday period of life. I then had to write an article about it, all while my own house was still under threat. From The Ashes was the article that resulted from this, and it won a silver award for the Best Article, Applying Faith To Life from the Australasian Religious Press Association in 2010.

I know I'm incredibly lucky to have survived everything that went on with Black Saturday. But it's still difficult. I still have the advice SMS warning of extreme fire danger conditions on my phone from March 3, 2009. When I hear sirens in Summer, I get anxious. I don't know how much worse it would be for people whose towns and homes were destroyed by the fires. Or for those who lost loved ones. It must be unbearable.

When I was in Warburton the week before last and saw white smoke drifting lightly across the valley from someone burning off something, I remembered Black Saturday. I remembered how on the trip up to Warburton, there were some teens talking about it - the fear, the horror, how they almost lost a friend in it. I remembered how the mountains looked 10,000 metres tall, looming, ominous. And yet that day the other week? It was the most beautiful Warburton day. Butterflies fluttered around, the sparrows bobbed about, the sky was the most amazing blue, the river chattered away to itself.

Time moves on, but we don't forget what happened on February 7, 2009.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A week ago today: Liebe Ist Für Alle Da

A week ago today, I was at Big Day Out in Melbourne.

There was only one reason for me to go.


The last time they were out here was in 2001 and I didn't get to BDO then. They haven't toured Australia by themselves since then either, so when they were announced as one of the headliners last year, I HAD to go. I didn't care about the cost or anything like that. Honestly, I'd be more than happy to pay $155 for a ticket just to see Rammstein. The other bands at BDO were a nice bonus for that price, especially The Bloody Beetroots.

So I travelled down to Melbourne to go to BDO with Clare. The predicted temperatures for the day kept on climbing - when I left NSW, they were saying the Sunday would be 30 degrees. By the day before BDO, it was for temps over 40. How delicious... But there was no way I was going to miss seeing them, come hell, high water, hot temperatures or men in camo bodysuits.

Hello ladies.

We decided we wouldn't get there first thing in the day and ended up getting there around midday. It actually wasn't unbearably hot, especially in the shade. And there was plenty of shade, which was brilliant. A lot of the stages were covered, there were random tents around the place, there were mister things everywhere (mmm) and best of all, rainbow slushees. Oh so good. But the lines for them were INSANE. Longer than the lines for the toilets. And we spent more time in line for one of the slushees than we did in the queue to get in to the Orange Stage.

But the frozen goodness was worth it.

Hello everyone.

We saw a good number of bands while not embracing the misters, shade-hopping and wandering from covered stage to covered stage area to see what was going on. And we kept seeing hipsters. Hipsters, hipsters everywhere and not a metalhead to be seen. Well, almost. But it was kind of disturbing. Most people looked like they'd raided Valley Girl via American Apparel and some kind of creepster Terry Richardson shoot on the way to BDO, too.

Let's just take a moment to lament the Melbourne hipster thing.


Oh yes, we also kept seeing this ginger hipster guy EVERYWHERE. He was impressive in that he didn't take off his jacket once (or at least had it on every time we saw him). That's dedication to the cause when it's 40 degrees and there's a northerly blowing.

Hello ginger hipster dude!

There were pervistaches a-plenty, too. And lots of people getting excited about seeing Angus and Julia Stone. No comment about them and jet planes and Hottest 100s, because of that whole "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything" thing.


After hours and hours, it was time to make our way over to the Orange Stage to make sure we got a good spot to see Rammstein. John Butler Trio were on before them on that stage. I'm not actually a fan of JB3, but they were actually really, really good live. There was a lot of energy in their show and it made you just want to dance.

John Butler Trio. Better than expected. A lot better.

It's funny, actually, how some bands are so much better live than they are on albums.

Anyway, when they finished up, people started to move away from the moshpit area in front of the stage and Clare and I joined the throng to be part of the lucky hundreds who would get up close to the stage for Rammstein. All of the shoving and pushing and craziness that was involved in that was nothing compared to the craziness once Rammstein actually started playing, but we'll get to that in a moment.

We managed to get to a relatively close position to the stage, which we were pretty happy with. Iggy Pop and The Stooges were playing on the Blue Stage. He got some people up on the stage to dance around with him, which was kinda cool.

Iggy Pop and The Stooges and dancers. Something for them to tell the grandkids.

But people around us were getting sick of them by the end of their set, which included a moment of Iggy pretending to hang himself on stage. He also kept dropping the f-bomb loads like it was still the 1970s and would shock more people than your gran. Anyway, it was good to see them live. I don't mind them, but not in big doses.

And we were there for Rammstein. The waiting? That was torture...

Torture, I tells you.

But the waiting - which has been a long, long wait with that 10 year gap between concerts in Australia - was soon over. And it was spectacular. As a guy behind us in the moshpit said, "I can die happy now having seen Rammstein."

The push by the crowd when the curtain and the flag went down was insane. Then with the moshing and people jumping around and dancing, Clare and I got separated with one of the many shoves from the crowd to get forward. And that actually worked just to make us get closer to the stage. It was worth all of that near death and sweating and shoving.

So, so amazing.

Rammstein's music live is even more incredible than it is on their albums. I suppose the added bonuses of the lights and pyrotechnics help with that, as they're incredible. Being so close, we could feel the heat from the flames, which was awesome. And there was a lot of flame.

Marshmallows, anyone?


All of the Rammstein guys are gorgeous, too. So that was a really nice bonus. I present my evidence thusly (apologies for the blur in some. It's surprisingly hard to take good photos while in a moshpit. Who would have known..?):

Mmm... Rammstein.

See? They're hot.

One of the most fun parts of it all was the cannon they used to spray foam over the crowd. There was some papery stuff fired over the crowd, too. I've got some of it somewhere in my diary. Should paste it in, actually. A little piece of Rammstein happiness that I can look at when putting in dates for work stuff.

Liebe Ist Für Alle Da!

And then it was over all too soon...

And they didn't do an encore, much to the disappointment of everyone there.

Once it was over and we were wandering around, I started noticing that my left foot actually hurt - someone must have stepped on it hard at one point and that I had a fair few bruises on my legs and arms. But it was worth it - a million times, it would be worth it.

Tool was on the Blue Stage after Rammstein finished. It was kind of unfortunate for them, because they looked kind of sad in comparison to the show Rammstein put on. The lights and video screen stuff Tool did was alright, but I think I've also moved beyond liking them. Although the 15-year-old inside me still kind of went, "Squee! Tool! I loved these guys in school!"


We decided to head off after that, although M.I.A and Grinderman were still on the bill. But it had been a long day and we had to get back. The sun was setting and the clouds were finally getting thick. It had been the most amazing day in my entire life. Nothing in life will ever compare to seeing Rammstein live. Not even marrying a billionaire for love.

My only hope is that Rammstein will come back to Australia to do a tour of their own. And soon. Or else I'll just have to travel overseas to somewhere they're doing a tour and see them live again, because their live show? It's incredible.