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Photography

Ozshot Mag Instameet – Snapper Rocks

On Sunday I lost my Instameet virginity and it was everything I had hoped for; exciting, nerve-racking and rewarding. I have been wanting to go to one for so long but there has always been something standing in the way, whether it be for the fact that I wasn’t able to get access to my sister’s car, being called into work at the last minute or surprisingly a bad dose of social anxiety.  Well last weekend, I made sure I put it all behind me when I found out about Ozshot’s first ever Qld Folk Instameet just an hour and a half drive away from me at Snappers Rock. I posted on the Facebook event page, requesting a lift and within the hour I had received multiple offers. The kindness of strangers right? Now you might think one would be mad to jump into a stranger’s car, let alone a stranger’s van, (because duh ‘stranger danger’) but as I have gotten older I have been so much more willing to risk it for the biscuit, and this biscuit was damn tasty and extremely worthwhile.

Sarah (@thisissarahs_photography) picked me up from my place at 1pm in her decked out van and with snacks at the ready we began our drive down the coast to Snapper Rocks. There was something so seemingly beautiful about the drive. Before 1pm we were just two strangers, alike you and I, alike the person waiting before you for their morning get-me-up coffee and alike your best friend once was to you those many years ago, but within the minute we were connected on this incredible level all because of photography. This got me so thrilled for the afternoon that was ahead of us – I was just itching to get out there and meet fresh faces. We had left plenty of time to cater for traffic, wrong turns (and yes, we missed our turn off even though Sarah is practically a local) and a coffee hit, but somehow with the 30 minutes spare we were still racing to get down to the rocks in time (which was probably due to deciding to get acai bowls to go along with the coffee #noregrets).

According to Facebook the event started at 3pm, but it wasn’t until 3:30pm that most had arrived. We gradually broke off into smaller groups and got into our groove. I will admit, it took some time to warm up to the idea and to work out how to photograph other people when they are trying to do the exact same, but eventually it became second nature with most people tending to match up with those that shared similar photography styles and techniques, making it a lot easier to get the balance between being the photographer and the photographed.

I paired myself up with Jackie Dixon (@hellojackiedixon)- a bright eyed, bubbly girl that was radiating with so much natural beauty and had come to the Instameet on her lonesome. Alike with Sarah, Jackie and I clicked within moments of meeting each other, whether it was for the fact that I loved her skirt she was wearing or that we shared a similar sense of positivity and joy for life. We took turns in photographing each other, sharing creative ideas and embracing the splendour of the sun that was happening right before our eyes.The very beautiful @hellojackiedixonCome 4:45pm, we had all scrambled down the rocks and towards the beach to photograph the sun’s vibrant reflections on the wet sand (passers-by probably thought we had all originated from the jungle). I asked Jackie to go out and twirl in the distance, creating the most beautiful dreamscape with the moon dimly lit above her and the Gold Coast scrapers hazy in the background. There was a solid 15 minutes where I just couldn’t stop photographing the gradual descent of the sun, but I eventually took some time out so I could really take it all in without being distracted by my camera.Once the sun snuck behind the horizon, the steel wool twirling began. The contributors at Ozshot Mag had prepared at least a dozen sets of steel wool so we could all get some unique night shots and have the help needed from the professionals to improve the photographs one after the other. I didn’t end up taking any photographs of the steel wool for a few reasons, with one of those being that I had struck up conversation with Alex Spurway (@spurwaya), a Brisbane creative sponsored by Canon that I had serious Insta envy over and well, still do. I asked him question after question about his success on Instagram and felt so blessed that he was so willing to share and help me on my own journey.

As day turned to night, we had run out of steel wool, people were slowly dispersing off the beach and well, I was frozen head to toe after having the waves crash over me in process of taking a feet photo and was very ready to get back into the van to get into some warm clothes (and eat the Malteasers we had saved). Before saying my goodbyes, I made sure to add the majority of people on Facebook so we could plan to meet up again and writing this a week on, I am thrilled to say that I have actually kept in touch with those that I exchanged details with and have already arranged to meet up for an adventure this coming Sunday.  

A huge shout-out to Ozshot Mag, the contributors at Qld Folk and their sponsors for putting together such an impressive afternoon that is still bringing me so much joy and fulfilment. I can’t wait to get myself down to the next one – fingers crossed it’ll be an astro shoot!

All the love in the world,

Soph xx

 

 

Sunrise atop The Glasshouse Mountains

 

I will gladly admit that I am a morning person, but I definitely find waking up much more enjoyable when there is something to forward to, like an incredibly radiant sunrise and an extra strong coffee. Thankfully this was the case for this morning’s 4am wake-up call and I was more than happy to have my friend Bec stay over for that extra motivation to get out of bed quicker. We left the house at 4:30am in the pitch black and ventured on our merry way up the Bruce Highway and onwards to the bottom of Mt. Ngungun to begin our very exciting adventure. I have been wanting to watch the sunrise from the top of Mt. Ngungun for quite some time now as my last attempt didn’t quite go to plan (side story: James and I woke up at 3am to watch the sunrise there back in November last year and just as we turned off the highway with about 15 minutes to go, the car’s engine light came on so we decided that the smart option was to head on back to Brisbane because better safe than sorry, right? Well, the sunrise that day was incredible and we couldn’t even stop to take it all in, just in case the car wouldn’t start back up again. You can definitely say that it wasn’t a highlight of my year). So in saying that, I had some really high expectations for the sunrise this time round. In just under an hour, we had arrived at the small carpark at the bottom of Mt. Ngungun and with my camera strapped to my neck and our very dim lit IPhone torches at the ready we began our trek through the dark, breezy forest. I was quite happy to see two other ladies that had arrived just a few minutes before us, so being my true scared self, I tried my best to power through the first half of the walk to get as close to them as possible. I’m really not a fan of being in isolated places, especially in the dark so this was detrimental for my enjoyment of the walk, not too sure about Bec though. In about 20 minutes we had reached the summit of Ngungun and first light still hadn’t shown so we luckily got to watch the day start from scratch, it was simply mesmerising. We picked our spot along the rugged edge and waited patiently for the sun to creep up over the horizon and shine through the thick clouds. Over time, more people made it to the top for the main event but it definitely wasn’t crowded. I could imagine that this would be very different for the sunset and on weekends. There was even a lady that carried up a body bar with weights and had a mini ‘I MADE IT, I’m so strong’ photoshoot at the top (You go girl!). I could have easily spent hours upon hours sitting up there looking out along the coastline and down onto the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, but our stomachs were rumbling and being my half organised self, I forgot to pack spoons for our packed breakfast. So onwards it was for our coffee pit stop/plastic spoon pick-up and breakfast by the ocean. We decided to make our next stop Moffatt Beach, just north of Caloundra due to both the proximity and peacefulness of the location. It’s more of a locals spot and isn’t as busy or popular as the nearby Kings Beach. I also knew that we could grab a guaranteed good coffee from the lovely ladies and gents down at The Pocket Espresso which is conveniently located right across from the beach. After devouring our chia seed puddings that I had made the night before (see I am somewhat organised) we continued on to Mooloolaba, but not without a quick cuddle with some of the local pups that were hanging out by the beach with their owners. Unfortunately, the weather had completely turned by the time we arrived at Mooloolaba so we sacrificed the sunbathing and swimming for second hand book shopping and I picked up the sweetest book full of happiness quotes for a few dollars. Strangely enough, we both were ready to head back home before it even hit midday, I think it was mainly because we knew that a nanna nap would be in order. I feel so much happiness and light in my life right now and I am so glad that I am surrounded by like-minded people that embrace it as much as I do.

 

All the love in the world,

Soph xx

The Mekong River in all of it’s glory

After living in Brisbane and constantly driving over, under and around the Brisbane River, or what us locals call it ‘The Brown Snake’, I would have never thought that a brown river could be beautiful, until I witnessed the mighty Mekong River. The Mekong River is the longest and largest river in South East Asia, stretching approximately 4,350km. Starting in China and interweaving all the way down through Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, the river is a vital source of life for those not only living in the region, but for the country as a whole.

As part of our Gecko’s Adventures Vietnam Highlights tour, we were able to experience a real life homestay with a local family right on the river front and it was nothing short of unbelievable. I wanted to share with you all some of my photographs and favourite moments from this unforgettable experience that warmed my heart and filled my soul with gratitude.

 We jumped into this little row boat so we could go down one of the narrow streams running off the Mekong River and although scenic and extremely peaceful, it took a lot of nerve and getting used to. We were centimetres from the water and it sure did not feel like it could hold the four of us along with the sweet lady that was rowing us. It did however make for some incredible photographs! Okay, so everyone else in my row boat didn’t necessarily approve of this, but I did decide to stand up and change places with my tour guide in the seat behind me so I could snap this photograph of the sweet lady rowing us to safer grounds.I feel like my tour guide is getting a wee bit sick of me constantly yelling out ‘STOP!’ for photo opportunities, especially when we were on our bike ride through the small little village that we  were staying in. However, it’s so worth it when I get shots like this!How sweet is this little pineapple? There is an abundance of fruit and vegetables growing on the sides of walkways and in the gardens within the Mekong region. I just wish I could have gone fruit picking, but no, preserve! This was our first spread of the day – not bad, not bad at all. You may be thinking ‘what on earth is in the middle’ and well to put your mind to ease (I know you are burning to ask), it’s actually rock salt and chilli salt. I wasn’t a huge fan of the chilli but the salt worked surprisingly well with the pineapple and complimented it in the strangest way known to man kind. We sure did polish off the Vietnamese tea however, seriously so yummy. Here is my proof that a brown river can be beautiful. Just look at that perfect reflection on the water and the vibrancy of the palms. My lovely new travel pals and I trying our honey tea/posing with our honey tea. I think I probably had my fair share of tea by the time I left but I simply couldn’t resist especially when it came straight from the hive and was included in our tour. Gotta make the most of it! Tourist? what tourist? I have a whole different perspective when I see the vendors walking around with these baskets totally overflowing with fruit and vegetables. It is damn heavy. This is the famous Elephant Ear Fish that my tour guide raved on about from day 1. As a vego, this definitely wasn’t the meal for me, but for those meat eaters out there, my travel companions said that it was scrumptious. They ate it in fresh rice paper rolls and it looked amazing and was a lot more photogenic compared to my vegetables. 

Call me Sophie the Beekeeper. I braved the bees (they are actually so friendly) and got this photograph with my new happy buddies. I even tried some honey right from the hive. I must admit sticking my finger in the middle of hundreds of bees isn’t usually my cup of tea, but for the taste of the honey and yes, the thrill, made it so worthwhile. Taken at the back of our home stay for the night. I spent quite some time here chatting away with my new travel pals and editing through the day’s photographs. I also did attempt to watch the sunrise here but due to the weather it was impossible. At least I tried, right? What lovely and welcoming blokes! The locals living by the Mekong River really changed my perspective on the Vietnamese – I definitely just had a bad run on my first two days. 

I only got to stay one night on the Mekong River, but I couldn’t recommend it any higher. It’s a once in a life time experience where you learn so much about the Vietnamese culture, people and most importantly…the mouth-watering FOOD!

I hope you are all having a brilliant time wherever in the world you may be.

Lots of love,

Soph x

The ultimate destination for budding photographers

Malaysia’s cultural and food hotspot is definitely one to add to your must see travel list, especially if you are a budding photographer. It is what I like to call a Photographers Paradise. 

Step one foot into Georgetown and I can guarantee you that your camera will be glued to your hands. Like all unique destinations, Penang can be very unnerving and overwhelming to begin with. It wasn’t until an off the beaten track mistake was made that I gradually began to feel at ease with strolling down some dodgy looking alleyways (I don’t know why it is that I always seem to find the coolest things in some of the creepiest places) and asking locals very sweetly if I could take their photograph. I have compiled together some of my favourite photographs that I have taken whilst in Penang to show you just what I am talking about. Feast your eyes for beautiful watermarked Chinese shop houses, heritage listed buildings and the portraits that capture the diverse soul of Penang.

25 photos that will have you in love with Singapore

Well Singapore, what a treat it has been. In the past two days I have clocked 50,000 steps, witnessed some incredible sights, watched the sun set and sun rise over Marina Bay, went on many hour long missions to find vegetarian food and most importantly, fell in love with just how god damn incredible and lush the city is. I’ve never been a city girl, but Singapore has changed me oh so slightly. Here are some of my favourite photographs that I have taken over the past 48 hours – I am sure they will convince you that Singapore is one of the most beautiful, diverse and greenest cities you’ll ever witness. Gardens by the Bay  Chinatown Backstreets of Bugis Backstreets of Bugis Marina Bay Sands Backstreets of Bugis Chinatown Tanglin Mall Little India Raffles Hotel Little India Tanglin Road Arab Quarter Wheelock Place Cloud Forest Arab Quarter Orchard Boulevard Cloud Forest Arab Quarter Ellis Road ION Orchard Haji LaneGardens by the Bay Haji Lane

Stay tuned for my new blog post coming up ‘Wild, Whacky and Wonderful things to do in Singapore’

Lots of love,

Soph xx

Photo of the week: Sunset at Wellington Point

The last few weeks have been non-stop as I have officially entered ‘crunch time’ for the last time at uni. This means more studying and less blogging and adventuring, which I really don’t approve of. I have been trying to fit so much into my days but it is definitely taking it’s toll on my energy levels. I mean, I could most likely fall asleep at any given time in the day, no matter where I may be- which is hands down one of the best tricks I picked up from long distance travel (cheers to the 12 hour bus and train rides).

On Sunday I met up with some friends that I haven’t seen in over a year and ventured out to Wellington Point to walk out along Kings Island at low-tide and eat ice-cream at sundown. The weather was absolutely perfect, the pictures turned out incredible and the company was even better!

I hope you are all having a happy Tuesday wherever in the world you may be.

All the love,

Soph xx

Sunset

 

Photo Diaries: Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

It’s no wonder Plitvice Lakes attracts up to a million visitors every year with its impeccable natural beauty. The Croatian UNESCO site is almost too good to be true, with 16 large lakes that cascade off into hundreds of rivers and streams, creating a sight which I once thought I could only dream of. Gaining access isn’t hard, but it does come at a cost, the first being the park entrance fee and the second, and ultimately the least appealing being the influx of tourists wanting the exact same as you – a piece of serenity and some beautiful photographs to make everyone back at home green with envy.

What makes Plitvice Lakes above every other of its kind is the exceptional man-made boardwalk that serpentines around the soft flowing water allowing intimacy with nature in a way that’ll truly make all of your senses thrive. Instead of just getting a look from above, you can walk all the way down and alongside the lakes, fully immersing yourself in what truly is a magical place.

Plitvice Lakes Plitvice Lakes Plitvice Lakes Plitvice Lakes Plitvice Lakes Plitvice Lakes _mg_7190 Plitvice Lakes Plitvice Lakes Plitvice Lakes _mg_7224 Plitvice Lakes

Why Zagreb SHOULD be on every Croatian adventure

I definitely wouldn’t call myself a city girl, it’s just not me. Yes, glistening lights do make me as excited as a kid in a lolly shop (which is definitely an understatement), but I am at my happiness when I am surrounded by trees and immersed in nature which is why it came to a shock at how well and truly I fell in love with Zagreb. Most people tend to either a) avoid Zagreb at all costs as they think it’s not worth the journey from the coast b) use it is a travel hub to get to the next destination or c) just don’t know that such a place even existed. Trust me, I was sitting around the c mark before I began researching my time in Croatia. I certainly wasn’t looking forward to my three days in Zagreb, but by the end of day 1 I wish I had room to extend my stay. By the end of this post, I hope to have you convinced about travelling to Zagreb and spending a lot more than the day or even the night there.

ZagrebWho doesn’t love a colourful town square?

 Zagreb flowers For just a few dollars you can grab a bouquet of handpicked flowers from the markets. Brighten somebodies day! 

 

Zagreb Sassy, but very friendly locals that love getting their photo taken

 

Living Walls See one of the most beautiful living walls that I have ever witnessed. 

 

ZagrebUse the gorgeous pastel coloured buildings for Instagram worthy photo back drops.

 

_MG_7824 Go to the markets and buy some fresh fruit for your breakfast – these cherries were so juicy! 

 

_MG_8019For the pleasant surprises tucked within the city. You can grab a drink inside Strossmartre where you will be surrounded by some whacky art, live music and a view over the city to tie it all together.

  FoodieTo have mouth watering food like this Mushroom dish that will leave you wanting more (I came back three times)

 

Museum of broken relationshipsTo finally be able to relate to a museum (well, maybe) with a visit to the Museum of Broken Relationships

 

Cathedral For awe dropping architectural beauty like this gorgeous Cathedral 

Croatia For cute handmade souvenirs so you can be constantly reminded of how incredible your travels in Zagreb were

 

_MG_7915 Experience street busking being taken to a new extreme

 

_MG_7908 See the Solar System (in cement/miniature form) 

 

Art To snag yourself, or a friend a fine piece of art for their wall

 

Zagreb & wash it all down with a glass of Croatian wine on one of the many pedestrian streets 

Photo of the week: Sunset on Vis

This gorgeous sunset was taken on the island of Vis, just off the mainland of Croatia near Split. Not only were the colours spectacular, but it was the day that I had just met back up with my parents after what felt like a long time away for Ultra music festival. To top things off, this was the view from the dinner table where we ate two portions of calamari, some reaaaaal good mushroom pasta and drank lots of wine whilst catching up on the days missed and celebrated the good times. It’s definitely not the best photo I have ever taken, but it feels so very close to my heart. It’s moments like these that make living away from family just that extra bit special.

Photo of the week: Amina

What better way to start a weekly ritual than with a gorgeous portrait of a gorgeous woman. This is Amina, a local villager in Lukomir, which is one of the last standing true Bosnian villages. Although she spoke very little English, there was so much to admire about her friendly and very humble presence. I love the way the light falls on the right side of her face, illuminating her eyes and making her really glow. This photograph was shot in colour on my Canon 5D mark ii with a 50mm lens at f2 and a 1/15th second shutter. Unfortunately due to the low lighting conditions and having my external flash out of function, I had to up my ISO, but I feel as though the grain doesn’t necessarily take away from the image. I hope you all enjoy this snap as much as I do.